ShamWow Dude's Beatdown

>> Tuesday

Not sure if this is yellow-chair-sports material (who are we kidding?), but the ShamWow dude Vince Shlomi recently got into a brouhaha with a local lady of the night. The best part of this article is that Shlomi invited the hooker for "straight sex" at an introductory rate of $1,000. Things were going pleasantly (I'm sure, wink wink) until he he did a big no no! If we have learned anything from Julia Roberts, it is that you never kiss a hooker on the mouth.


In All Seriousness...

Because this is the kind of story I can tell will bug me (and to bump Vinnie's backhanded and downright un-American hogwash about St. Barry off the top of the blog), I wanted to comment quickly about Dontrelle Willis' recent assignment to the DL for an anxiety disorder.

I've already heard some slight rumblings from the established idiots on BBTN and lesser idiots like Mitch Williams on MLB Network insinuating Willis is weak or undedicated for what's going on with him, and I want to be on record right now as saying that that's a load of crap.

Whatever he's going through, call it an Ankiel-like psychological barrier if you will, would seem to explain a lot of the issues dogging the D Train in recent years, specifically his sudden and relatively inexplicable wildness and high walk rate. To write that off as a lack of dedication or a claim that Willis is somehow weak because of it, is classless and ill-informed.

From most accounts, Dontrelle Willis seems like a nice enough guy who's fighting some serious demons on the mound. As someone who thought he was exciting to watch when he was on (though I'll admit, even his best years were really overrated), I'm hoping Willis can battle through whatever's dogging him and return to serviceability, if not dominance. Because after all, fuck Baseball Tonight.


Isn't it cute when women try to talk sports?

>> Monday

It's kinda hot, really. Hot in that reminds-me-they're-subordinates sorta way. You know the charade, guys. We'll gladly force a chuckle at some hot girl's banal observation on sports and pretend that she's just made some poignant commentary even though it's something we've heard a thousand times before to spare the Super Bowl party from being a total eye candy-deprived sausage fest. They get to front like they're "cool" with the guys, which pisses off their daintier sports-illiterate friends, and we know how much women get off on their underhanded status games. Overall, it's a fair tradeoff that keeps everyone happy.

The problems start, though, when some chick steps outside her role and gets all uppity about semantics of gender equality and ruins everyone's good time. I hate that. Suffice it to say, I won't be inviting Christine Brennan to next year's Super Bowl party, and it's not just because she's a little too old and butch for my tastes. Says Chrissy:

As the father of two athletic daughters, President Obama should know all about the importance of sports for women and girls.

Which is why he should have filled out not only a men's NCAA tournament bracket but also a women's tournament bracket in his well-publicized appearance on ESPN last week.

Let me start by saying I don't at all relish the role of defending the pin-up socialist puppet Barack Hussein Osama bin Stalin. So far, I think most of what he's done since taking office sucks, and that includes his chalky, swing state-friendly NCAA tourney bracket.

But hasn't Obama done enough to prop up weaker institutions with our tax dollars that we shouldn't also call upon him to pander to lesbians and little girls by promoting the fallacy that the NCAA Women's Push-Shot Fest is on par with the real ballin' on the men's side? That would be one hell of a dishonest message to send his spoiled little brat girls, in my opinion.

Another news flash for Christine Brennan: Of the two tournaments, one of them generates tremendous amounts of interest, millions of hours of lost worker productivity, and massive flow of gambling dollars. The other generates considerably less interest, untraceable impact on worker productivity, and gambling activity from addicts only (and possibly lesbians, though I'm not sure if lesbians gamble). Can you guess which is which?

If Obama had taken the time to fill out a women's bracket, not only would it have made for even more boring and pointless TV on top of the already boring and pointless act of filling out the men's bracket, but it arguably would have qualified as the most blantant display of constituent pandering since... the last time Obama blatantly pandered to a constituency. The point is: politics--and Obama in particular--are quite phony enough without bringing Title IX into this.

He also should have insisted on saying his bracket was for the "men's NCAA tournament."

Those who don't use that pesky little adjective — and you know who you are — are acting as if there's no women's tournament at all, or it's so beneath them, it's not worth mentioning. This is rather silly. It is 2009, after all.

While I appreciate the trap Brennan tries to set up here--either specify "men's" or you're a misogynistic walking penis who only employs a secretary for the playful ass-grabbing--it's a bullshit dichotomy that ignores common vernacular and social norms. It has nothing to do (necessarily) with who's beneath whom and everything to do with habit and brand identification.

Just as I wouldn't specify the MLB World Series as opposed to the College World Series or tell you that Richmond is the capital of Regular Virginia, I don't feel the slightest obligation to tack an extra modifier onto the original and more popular NCAA Tournament. Notice I didn't even include "Basketball," and everyone still knows what I'm talking about. Suck on it, lacrosse.

While we're on the subject of adjectives, why do some schools still insist on calling their women's teams "Lady" this or "Lady" that? Is there any men's team out there that calls itself the "Gentlemen" (add the nickname)? Of course not. The best-known of the tea-and-crumpets set is the Lady Vols, who were upset by Ball State Sunday night in a tough, bruising, very unladylike game.

Defenders claim the use of "Lady" is tradition. It might be that, but it's also degrading and entirely unnecessary.

Ok, so I kind of agree with Brennan here. For 2009-2010, I propose that Tennessee be known as the Tennessee Volunteer Bitchaz Wit Attitudz.


Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams, and Bob Knight in their Underwear! Say it isn't So!

Zuch's dream commercial has finally come true! Our coaching heroes rock out Tom Cruise style.


Random Political/Sports Cameo of the Day

Team USA has called in the big guns in an attempt to land either the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup: Henry Kissinger.

Kissinger was previously part of the US Bid Committee in 1986 that tried to be the backup host after Colombia relinquished the World Cup due to drug violence (the effort was unsuccessful, and the World Cup ended up going to Mexico).

Even if history repeats itself and the US doesn't get to host the World Cup, it will all be worth it if I can hear Kissinger say "Steve Cherundolo" or "Josmer Altidore" in his creepy German mad scientist voice.


Most Shameless Product Placement Ever

>> Saturday

In an article on MLS's official website about the arrival of 2,000 Toronto FC fans in Columbus for today's Toronto FC-Columbus Crew game.

"As the late March tailgate party raged outside the stadium and Sierra Mist and Budweiser flowed like water, storm clouds from threatening early spring showers and thunderstorms loomed on the horizon."

Sierra Mist happens to be the league-wide soft drink sponsor.

Budweiser happens to be the league-wide beer sponsor.

Cha-ching. I wonder if the fans all drove home in their Volkswagens and painted their houses with Glidden paint after stopping off at Dick's Sporting Goods.


Two-bit Post Facto Lame Observations on the WBC (or Why I Love the WBC Deptite its Tremendously Obvious Flaws

>> Monday

Aside from those that would be more apt to bring up during the opening round, e.g. the questionable legitimacy of several players' ethnic ties to the teams they represent or the hilariously ethnic names of the native Italian players (Matt's favorite: Giuseppe Mazzanti), here are some of the things I've enjoyed most about the WBC through the first two incarnations of the experiment.

The shittiness of the U.S. roster. This one's been analyzed to death by both WBC detractors and by those who want to take it seriously, but it still bears a mention. Back in '06, I remember thinking, "Who the fuck are Gary Majewski and Brian Schnieder?" And 2009 didn't disappoint anyone browsing the roster for "Who the fuck...?"s. But I think even funnier than the barrel-scrapage for pitchers and catchers was the fact that the starting 1B in USA's elimination game was Mark DeRosa, a guy playing out of position (and arguably out of country, as I assume he has more Italian blood than Kasey Olenberger or Chris Cooper).

The motivation disparity. If you were on the Cuban team, your failure to win the championship drew the ire of your supreme dictator, who basically calls you a disgraceful waste of human existence and who could--I assume--excecute your ass on a whim. If you were on the US team, your failure to win drew the ire of... your dad maybe?

The gaudy / retro / baffling uniforms. I only wish that the U.S. would've taken a cue from their WBC foes and the Washington Nationals' forthcoming alternate cap.

How shamelessly I racially profile baseball players. I don't know what's sadder--the fact that I shoehorned every player's style into some watered-down archetype of "typical Asian / Latino / Mexican player" or the fact that, for me, these archetypes are all still guys who played for the mid-'90s Dodgers. Every time I tried to size up a Mexican pitcher's stuff, it was, "He reminds me a lot of Ismael Valdez." Pathetic.

How shamelessly I racially profile everyone. If it weren't enough for me to shoehorn anonymous foreigndudes into flimsy baseball player archetypes, I managed to pair every nuance of their games with some ignorant or borderline-offensive stereotype of their culture. You can use your imagination to materialize these if you wish, but let's just say they involve samurai swords, salsa dancing, and scenes from A Fistful of Dollars and The Karate Kid.

How much I envy the fans of non-U.S. teams. Anyone who's read this blog for a while knows that I've become pretty jaded when it comes to emotional investment in team allegiances. The last few years, my lone outlet for irrational exhuberance and despair (today: crippling despair) has been Marquette basketball, but when it comes to pro teams, it's hard to find that place without a diehard by my side and/or beer. My mildly tortured emotions during the final week of the AL Central race last year gave me hope that I'm not quite dead inside, but still--for as much as I put the sport on a pedestal, I wish I could feel the same about a baseball team as I do about Marquette basketball or my yet-to-be-conceived child.

Joe Morgan trying to pronounce the names of Korean and Japanese players. It's funny. Have a listen if you can find a good clip before it's vaporized by the DMCA ray gun.

Anyway, feel free to add your own ramblings on the WBC if you're also looking for something benign and sports-related to draw your mind away from a certain basketball game that shall not be mentioned.


Also from the realm of the effectively meaningless...

>> Wednesday

Two ways readers can interpret the wording of this poll:

1) A computer can predict the winner of the NCAA Tournament with probability of accuracy p>0.

2) A computer can predict the winner of the NCAA Tournament with probability of accuracy p=1.

To say "yes" to the first or "no" to the second is to be aware of the obvious while saying "no" to the first is to deny the existence of programmable computers (or the "blind chimp flinging his feces at a bracket board" principle), and saying "yes" to the second is to believe in black magic.

All I can say is--Great poll question CNN, you worthless left-wing and/or right-wing propagandist mouthpiece.


"A lot of teams could win it" and other bullshit generalisms

People love to recommend their doctor to you. I don't know what they get out of it, but they really push them on you.
"Is he good?"
"He's the best. This guy's the best." There can't be this many "bests." Someone's graduating at the bottom of these classes. Where are these doctors? Is someone somewhere saying to their friend, "You should see my doctor, he's the worst. He's the absolute worst there is. Whatever you've got, it'll be worse after you see him. The man's an absolute butcher."

For some reason, the NCAA Tournament and the bracketocentric vibe it engenders seem to put me squarely in "Have you ever noticed"-ville every March. This year, I'm afraid, is no exception.

My object of mockery this time around is the bland generalization about
"this year's tournament." You hear these all the time--from the coworkers in the office pool, friends, TV analysts, etcetera--and they're almost always preceded or followed by "especially this year." Taken collectively, they comprise a contradictory, exaggerated, and generally inaccurate lump of nonsense.

Some classic examples, which I will deconstruct using equally unsubstantiated and generalized observations:

There's no clear favorite this year. Rarely is there ever a clear favorite. And when there's a team perceived to be a clear favorite, I'd venture to say that the margin by which they exceed the abilities of other top competitors is exaggerated by meaningless circumstances like name recognition.

There are a lot of good teams in this tournament. The whole point of the tournament is to include good teams and exclude sucky ones. So there had damned well better be a lot of good teams.

There area a lot of exciting players in this tournament. Ditto.

This is a difficult tournament / region to pick. Every region of every tournament is difficult to pick. This is why ESPN and CBS offer like $10,000,000 to any one of its 100,000,000 participants in their Tournament Bracket Challenge Bonanza or whatever that can call every game right. And that is why--for all of the selection committee's diligence in seeding teams, we have now only once had four #1's in the Final Four.

The committee did a good job / poor job seeding the tournament this year. I'm as guilty as anyone on the seeding critique. For most fans, I think, their opinion ultimately boils down to how satisfied or dissatisfied they are with their favorite team's seed--which, coincidentally enough, is nearly always one seed lower than "it should've been." Most years, I think the committee totally chokes on it--that is, Marquette always gets shafted. This year, I was relatively satisfied receiving a 6 after the Warriors' late-season struggles and lack of depth, ergo the committee did okay this year.

This should be an exciting tournament. It's the En-Cee-Double-Freakin-Ay Tournament. It is always exciting. That's why I've been rocking in my desk chair and continuously salivating all week. Just one... more... day...


Anyone Want to Play Penn State?

From Craigslist.

To please play Penn State in basketball in 2010 (State College, PA)

Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Date: 2009-03-17, 3:23PM PDT

My favorite Alma Mater, Penn State has been desperately searching for a quality opponent to play in the coming years. As many of you have seen this past Selection Sunday, a non-conference SOS of 331 is simply not strong enough. So basically, the deaf and blind schools we have been racking wins on have got to go. So if you are of any influence at a quality basketball school (basically any other school without a direction in your name), please convince your AD or scheduling guru to contact Jon Perry, 8148655494 or at Maybe they simply haven't been looking hard enough, a simply push might just do it. Thanks for your time.
Location: State College, PA
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 1079593255


Now, How Stupid Do You Feel Now?

>> Sunday

"There is no chance (MLS) will survive. Absolutely no chance whatsoever."- Nye Lavalle, Sports Marketing Group, in The Sporting News, 6/27/94

"There's a better chance of a national health plan being passed by Congress than of a major pro (soccer) league in America."- Art Spander, San Francisco Examiner, 6/5/94.

"The World Cup, should no one get killed, is a fabulous event. Enjoy it. And enjoy the next one. And if, in between, you patronize any and all pro soccer leagues that begin here, enjoy them too. They'll be gone faster than the girl over there with the hula hoop."- Sportswriter Phil Mushnick, New York Post, 6/15/94.

My annual MLS Season Preview is noted for two things. How few people read it, and how big of a crapshoot it is, making me look like a total dumbass by the end of the season. So I figure if I'm going to look like a dumbass, I might as well drag three other dumbasses down with me; three of the many who anticipated 15 years ago that MLS wouldn't last three seasons, let alone seek to kick off its 14th campaign on Thursday.
That night, MLS debutant Seattle Sounders FC hosts its inaugural game as the league's 15th club against MLS Cup Finalist Red Bull New York at Qwest Field in front of 32,000 people and a league-record 22,000 season ticket-holders (outselling the Mariners). The only thing bad about this game is the fact that it is probably the worst-scheduled season opener in the history of MLS.

Playoff spots are increasingly hard to come by. As recently as 2004, all but two teams in MLS made the postseason tournament. This year, 8 of 15 teams will make the tournament, a ratio more in line with the NBA and NHL. This year, the top two teams in each conference and the next four teams regardless of record qualify for the playoffs.

In addition, qualification for continental competition is at stake over the course of the 30-game campaign and playoffs leading up to MLS Cup 2009 in Seattle. The Regular Season Champion, MLS Cup Finalists, and US Open Cup winner qualify for the 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League.

The top four teams in the regular season who have not already qualified for the Champions League qualify for SuperLiga. With that, it's time for the preview.

2008 Finish: Columbus, Chicago, New England, Kansas City, New York, DC United, Toronto FC
2009 Predicted Finish: Chicago, Columbus, Toronto FC, New England, DC United, New York, Kansas City

Sure, it may be the homer in me, and yes, they have some trouble with age (Brian McBride, Cuauhtemoc Blanco are both deep in their 30s) but I am going to go out on a limb this year and say that Chicago Fire will win the Supporters' Shield as regular season champions and qualify for the Champions League for the first time. No team is as complete back to front as the Fire. The Fire's backline was one of the league-leaders last year, the midfield is solidly staffed by stars Chris Rolfe and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, and filled in with great role players like John Thorrington and Logan Pause. Brian McBride up top should be able to consistently deliver, especially if paired alongside another forward (either moving Rolfe up top from the midfield or with speedy striker Patrick Nyarko, who showed great promise last season before going down with an injury. Chicago also has 2008 Goalkeeper of the Year Jon Busch, and some solid young talent in Baggio Husidic from UIC, and Marco Pappa from Guatemala. If one of them can come on for Blanco at about the 70-minute mark, the Fire should be clicking on all cylinders.

Columbus is the defending League and Cup champs, so I have to put them in a close second. They haven't lost too much, but I am slotting Columbus here based on the sheer fact that only one team has managed to repeat as Supporters Shield winners (DC United 2006 & 2007). Columbus loses Head Coach Sigi Schmid to Seattle, but has otherwise kept most of the team in tact. Columbus proved last year (and Houston and New England before them) that one of the keys to beating MLS's system of parity is to play together as a core for many many years. This is why I have Columbus and Chicago at the top.

Toronto similarly should benefit from a core that has been through the fires of the past two disappointing seasons, and the addition of Dwayne DeRosario gives them a powerful force in the midfield. I'm unsure about their back line, but if the Reds can make a signing or a summer transfer to shore it up, TFC could be looking at its first playoff challenge.

New England, Kansas City, and New York should finish middle of the pack in interchangeable order. New England has kept their core together, but they are getting old, and I'm not sure how many years the Revs have left in them to win an MLS Cup. Kansas City suffers from a genuine lack of starpower. A team of role players may win some games, make for a nice story, and maybe even get to the playoffs (like KC did last year) but once you get there, it's one and done as KC was completely outclassed by Columbus last fall. New York's cup final run appeared to have a bit of luck to it. After all, this is the team that got thrashed 5-2 in their final game, and needed DC United to hit the post 3 times to get in. New York re-signed Juan Pablo Angel, but there's too many question marks on this team for me to justify placing them any higher. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but if it's anything like last year, I really don't know which RBNY team will show up week-to-week. I mean, New York lost all three games to Chicago, by 5-1, 1-0, and 5-2 scorelines, but New York went to the Final while the Fire watched on TV. Go figure.

DC will benefit greatly from the return of Christian Gomez, as they sorely missed his playmaking creativity last season. DC also cast off it's cast of South American washouts who were highly touted and woefully disappointing last year. The big question mark is how will DC perform in the Champions League, having qualified via the US Open Cup, but last year finished last in their group, and 9th in the league.

MLS Anthem Dance Remix Video For 2009 First Kick from MLS Rumors on Vimeo.

2008 Finish: Houston, Chivas USA, RSL, Colorado, FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, San Jose
2009 Finish: Chivas USA, RSL, Houston, San Jose, Seattle, FC Dallas, Colorado, LA Galaxy

Out West, I like Chivas USA to win the West, and maybe even represent the West at MLS Cup. Their core of Bornstein, Kleistjan, and Razov have been together for several years now. If Dan Kennedy can step up and fill the shoes of current Aston Villa keeper Brad Guzan, Chivas could become a trophy contender. RSL has a similar record of relative stability. Houston has several good players, but in this season, unlike past, not only will the Dynamo miss the playmaking midfielder Dwayne DeRosario (to Toronto), but you get the sense that unlike past Dynamo teams, the whole team is nothing more than the sum of its parts. There are some solid parts, no doubt, but there's not the sense of anticipation this year.

San Jose came on strong at the end of last season, and with Joe Cannon manning the nets and Darren Huckerby (who is probably one of the 10 best players in the league) for a full season, San Jose looks like they could challenge for a playoff spot.

Dallas is in a total tailspin. Ticket sales are sluggish. The team is terrible, and looks to be more of the same this year with Kenny Cooper likely missing extensive stretches of time with National team duty. After that, the team's talent level drops off significantly. Colorado is in a similar situation, and LA Galaxy is a walking soap opera trying to squeeze every last drop out of David Beckham before he leaves for AC Milan at the end of the season.

Final Standings (if I had to guess)
  1. Chicago
  2. Columbus
  3. Chivas USA
  4. RSL
  5. Toronto FC
  6. Houston
  7. New England
  8. San Jose
  9. DC United
  10. Seattle
  11. New York
  12. Colorado
  13. Dallas
  14. Kansas City
  15. LA Galaxy

Playoff teams
East #1 and #2: Chicago and Columbus
West #1 and #2: Chivas USA, RSL
Wild Cards: New England, Toronto, Houston, San Jose

Champions League Teams
Chicago, Toronto (via Canadian Championship), Houston (Open Cup), Columbus (via some method of qualification), Chivas USA (MLS Cup Finalist?)

SuperLiga Teams
RSL, New England, San Jose, DC United


The Beck is Back

>> Saturday

In the words of 1990's philosopher-chef Frank Costanza, "I'm back, bay-bee!"

Not with anything of real substance, of course, but with some hastily cobbled-together thoughts on some recent sports doin's.

Item the first: Jonathan Papelbon is a bitch.

"It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that's exactly what was happening," Papelbon said, according to the magazine. "Once we saw that, we weren't afraid to get rid of him. It's like cancer. That's what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It [stunk], but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us."

1. Once "we" saw that, "we" got rid of him? Really, Jon? I assume you mean that you and Theo had a quick pow-wow to decide to move Manny to LA.

2. No one better understands the opinions and attitudes of an entire baseball team than some glorified asshole who (at most) plays one half of an inning every other (or so) night.

3. I wonder what Jon Lester would think of your liberal use of cancer analogies.

4. That 'cancer' helped earn you two World Series rings and will be cancering its way into the Hall of Fame whenever it so chooses. Without him (and with a seriously debilitated David Ortiz), your offense looked mighty pedestrian.

5. "We got Jason Bay -- Johnny Ballgame, plays the game right, plays through broken knees, runs out every ground ball -- and it was like a breath of fresh air, man! Awesome! No question." I'm not sure how to say this or if it's even defensible,, that's racist.

Item the second: Albert Pujols is (and loves the f out of) God.

Not sure how many of you get Sports Illustrated, but there's an article about Pujols and his reaction to being baseball's current "best hope for a clean hero," me naive, but I loves me some Albert Pujols. Seriously, read that story. If you're not a Pujols fan, you'll at least respect the guy.

Also a bitch: Sidney Crosby

Crosby, in re: Alex Ovechkin's habit of going apeshit when he scores: "Some people like it, some people don't. Personally, I don't like it."

You know what? Fuck you, Sidney Crosby. And fuck you, everyone else who gets all huffy when someone (especially someone who does as many amazing things as Ovechkin) actually gets excited about what they're doing. Yeah, Sid, that's what the NHL needs - more boring, workmanlike non-personalities who go about their business with button-down, A-Rod like professionalism. That'll pack in the fans. And by the way, Crosby, come talk to me when you stop playing like Gretzky 2.0 and actually hit someone, like Ovechkin (leading the Caps in goals and hits) does every fucking night.

My point: Alex Ovechkin could kill a guy in front of me and I probably wouldn't care, because he's awesome, and I don't even follow/understand hockey.

Those who can't understand how the media didn't know about steroids during the 80s and 90s need look no further than this article from Rick Reilly

To wit: Reilly, talking about how baseball should give awards won by steroid abusers to the guys who finished second:

And here's yours from 2001, Luis Gonzalez, after you finished behind The Barry Bonds Pharmacy. We won't even mention the home run title you would've won that year.


Luis Gonzalez, 2000: 31 HR
Luis Gonzalez, 2001: 57 HR
Luis Gonzalez, 2002: 28 HR

Now, I'm not insinuating that Luis Gonzalez was on steroids in 2001, an era when we're not supposed to take any baseball numbers at face value, Rick Reilly wants to congratulate a guy who suddenly caps his career high in homers by 26? Really? That's the guy you want to showcase as someone who did things the 'right' way? (Also: your article is dumb anyway)

Bear in mind that in 1996 Brady Anderson (the poster boy for the "holy shit, how did everyone not realize this guy was on steroids" crowd) hit 50 homers after a previous career high of 21. But, like I said, I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, that's all I've got for now. You may all resume bitching about college hoops conference tournaments for the third year in a row.


Why Memphis needs to change conferences, in plain black and white (with a little red scribble)

>> Friday



The daunting task of raising a child in these warped times

I'm glad to see that some parents get it.

The Gullos can still share some fun moments when Joe plays his video game, but they had stopped going to Seattle Mariners games before moving from Seattle to Oregon last August. Gullo says that as much as it pains him, he is pulling away from baseball.

"Frankly, I am reluctant as a parent to really push baseball as a passion right now," he says, "because I don't know what's going to come out next, or how this is all going to shake out, or who else is going to be named."

Parents everywhere should learn from--and applaud--what Mr. Gullo is doing for his son. Unfortunately, the parents of our generation never knew about the steroid use taking place around the majors when we were tykes oiling up our new Jose Canseco-signed baseball glove. I don't blame them for their ignorance, but I hope to learn from it.

We may be hopelessly entrapped for life by our interest in baseball and the moral dilemma it presents to us, but our own children need not be. I, myself, am not a father yet, but should I become one someday, I hope to shelter little Vinnie Rasheed from the ills of the sport I cherish. Sure, I'll let him stay in the room with me while I take in a Cubs or Sox game on a weekend afternoon, but never without tethering his forehead to a Kindle filled with nature books and 1950s children's adventure novels first.

I am, myself, the product of this type of attentive parenting, and I thank God every day that I am.

Though my own parents were victimized by the duplicitous ways of 1980s and '90s baseball stars, I have to give them credit for having the wisdom and discipline to shelter me from the evils of their generation. You see, my mother adored the Rolling Stones as a youth, but she realized early in my life that her love of the band and her denunciation of their insidious messages of promiscuity and drug abuse might engender a sense of moral ambiguity in my frail young mind.

Of course, mom couldn't just stop loving the band, so she continued to listen to their records while she raised me, but she was careful. Mom would always tweak the speaker balance just enough that the lyrics were unintelligible. And just to be safe, she changed the name on the LP covers to things like "Johnny and the Tumbleweeds" and "Mr. Joe's Dolphin Show." If my ears made out a bad word that I didn't recognize, mom always did the right thing and lied about it.

Thanks to mom's diligent parenting, I refuse, to this day, to listen to music by anyone accused of taking illicit drugs, having sex out of wedlock, or speaking to Jews. I have also never seen a naked female body, hash pipe, Quentin Tarantino movie, or homeless person. And most importantly, I have little to nothing in common with my mom or with my peers, all of whom are depraved idol-worshipers.

I know it can't be easy for parents like Mr. Gullo trying to protect their children from the shame game they were raised on, but I applaud him for doing his best. I hope I can do the same someday. Unfortunately, the attachment is strong, and the allure is always there.

It's as Johnny and the Tumbleweeds said, "Love--it's a pitch."


I Hate Conference Tournaments, Part MMMMMMMMI

>> Thursday

Reruns, reruns.

But this one takes the cake.

Of all the egregiously unnecessary, horribly terrible consequences of conference tournaments, I don't think anything has ever topped nor could top the travesty I'm watching right now, as UConn and Syracuse play a fifth overtime, with the winner facing the prospect of playing two more games in the next two days.

"Oh, the drama of March Madness!"

No. It's not like that. It's more like me sitting here fuming, cringing with every unnecessary stride strode by 60+ minute man Johnny Flynn as his team trudges on, the NCAA and the Big East Conference pulling them by the ear, nagging, "You must continue to play and try your hardest to win this meaningless exhibition a week in advance of the most important games of your life, even if it means strained joints and renal failure."

When will everyone start calling bullshit on this bullshit? I don't know who's all with me, but I, for one, refuse to stand for this ponzi scheme. Yet... it's midnight, and I'm still watching, which makes me the sucker, and that's my whole point.


A three-non-post night

>> Wednesday

Airing now on AMC:

Julia Roberts and Patrick Bergin star in the 1991 classic Sleeping with the Enemy.

I trust that no one is confused.


Are Vinny del Negro and Coach Klein Actually Related?

I think this pretty much sums up both coaches careers:

Coach Klein: [it's half-time at the Bourbon Bowl and they're in the locker room] Anybody got an idea?


Coach Klein: [after football player spits loogie in water tank] Are you all right?
Bobby Boucher: I wasn't gonna do nothin', coach!
Coach Klein: Well ya better do something. You gotta stick up for yourself, Bobby.
Bobby Boucher: But what about the finally tuned athletic machine?
Coach Klein: I am not telling you to go on a shooting rampage!


Stadium Pal: The Next Generation

In the finest tradition of the Stadium Pal comes the Uro Club. Ridiculousness doubled by total lack of subtlety when product used as recommended, and by prominent use of a Digger Phelps look-a-like.


Big East Tournament Streamed Live

>> Tuesday

Just checked the Big East website and they will be streaming all games live starting with a classic powerhouse matchup between DePaul and Cincinnati.

So for those of us who have to work tomorrow, we can at least take our lunch break at 1:00 PM and watch part of the game.


Never Turn Your Back on the Drunk and Victorious

>> Monday

HT: The Offside Rules


Bogus Stats: On the Countercyclical Nature of the Strikeout and How Willy Taveras May Have Ruined the Global Economy

>> Friday

These days, it seems that every social trend is somehow explained within the context of the current economic recession, whether it be people drinking more Clamato, more kids going to grad school, or increased sales of Ayn Rand books.

Of course, no one has adequately answered the question that really matters: How will this impact baseball?

Now, when I say "baseball," I don't mean salaries or naming rights or concessions prices--I'm talking the on-field action. How will the recession afftect the way the game of baseball is played?

Fortunately, I took the time to answer that question using the best statistical tools I have--limited data and improper methods.

I was specifically interested in the relationships between the four most stylistically distinct plays in baseball--the walk, the strikeout, the home run (a.k.a. the Three True Outcomes), and the stolen base--and three economic indicators that are simple enough for me to grasp--gross domestic product, consumer price index, and unemployment rate.

Unfortunately, my lack of access and/or inability to find year-to-year league-wide rates in each category forced me to adopt the highly inadequate alternative of summing the totals of the two league leaders for each year. This works ok in general--at least in getting a vague sense for major shifts in strategy trends, such as the Astroturf-inspired go-go '80s--but it's really, really misleading when a guy like Ruth (HR) or Bonds (BB) comes along and totally laps the field in a particular category for a few seasons. But... I am only one man with only one hour lunch break per day, so rampant imperfection is what you get.

Below are the results. In each of the time series graphs, unemployment rate (red) and the statistical baseball category (blue) are expressed as ratios relative to their mean over the course of the available data years. As you can see, unemployment statistics do not date back to the Great Depression, which is convenient in terms of axis range and in generating a mean unemployment rate (5.6% for the years available) that is less distorted by outlying values.

(Note: I made no adjustments for season length or strike-shortened years, and I don't really feel like going back, and correcting it now. With the exception of the 1994 home run total, there are noticeable downward spikes in 1981 and 1994 for each category.)

The scatter-plots pair the statistical category (x-axis) with unemployment rate (y-axis).

1) There's not much to be gathered from the walk totals, as there are really no major long-term trends or large fluctuations, other than the Bonds-boom in the aughts.

2) Beginning in the late-'60s or so, a countercyclic trend between unemployment and both home runs and walks seems to emerge. Of course, this makes perfect sense: As the economy begins to sag, people become more risk-averse and, consequently, adopt more conservative behaviors, such as investing in government bonds, driving more slowly, and cutting down their swing with two strikes.

3) While the correlation between stolen bases and unemployment is relatively large--considering the null hypothesis is r^2=0--all this really shows is that both happened to sag in the '40s and climbed together for a spell in the '80s. Of course, if we had the unemployment data during the Great Depression, there would be a smattering of points way in the upper left (few stolen bases, historic levels of unemployment), which even more proves why the apparent correlation is a mirage. In fact, I have no idea why I even bothered with these scatter-plots.

4) If you look very closely / trick yourself into seeing things, there does appear to be a lead-lag effect with stolen bases and unemployment, with unemployment rising and falling in response to stolen base totals. If you buy this, then we can blame the rebirth of the stolen base's popularity the last five years for putting this recession in motion.

5) On the other hand, if we had unemployment data from the roring '20s and the Depression, we'd be inclined to say that unemployment is the lead, and stolen bases are the lag. Note the drop in stolen bases in the '30s and subsequent years of low stolen base totals--again, a possible indication of a risk-averse society.

6) Beyond the volatile Depression / WWII / postwar eras, there is one distinct period of time when the CPI (yellow) grew appreciably faster than GDP (green) over the last seventy years--the early- to mid-'70s. What could be the explanation? No, not some silly policy initiative or international trade law. Free agency! Baseball free agency caused an unusually rapid influx of millions of dollars of money into the consumer economy without any productive growth--hence inflation, hence jump in CPI.

Anyway, that's the extent of my nonsense. Would anyone else like to distort their senses and offer up other conclusions? And Matt--"You're an unconscionable fag" doesn't count this time.



>> Thursday

Why was this story number two on the RSS feed all morning?

Anyway, I'm sure he'll have no problem selling this modest starter home thanks to Superjesus Black Reagan's $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers.

On the topic of the Manny signing, who or what exactly were the Dodger's competing against in this negotiation? According to reports, no other team had made a serious offer in weeks, and any other potential players in the bidding would have been well under the Dodgers' price. Was he threatening retirement? Offered a movie deal? Book deal? Cabinet position?

I still haven't found a clear answer to this question.


This makes me sad and furious

>> Tuesday

Via The Hardball Times, this story about the death of an independent league baseball player who was traded for ten bats last year is extremely sad and should have never, ever happened.

What make this story so upsetting are the details of the infamous trade:

Calgary team president Peter Young and Laredo general manager Jose Melendez nearly traded him for a slugger, but it fell apart. Melendez proposed buying Odom's contract for $1,000. Young rejected that, saying the Vipers didn't do cash deals because they made the team look financially unstable.

Bats, though, the Vipers could use. At $665 for 10 bats — made by Prairie Sticks, double-dipped black, 34 inches long, model C243, Laredo agreed to the unusual deal.

"This was not done as a publicity stunt," said Young, now the Vipers' director of baseball operations. "I talked to John several times and told him this wasn't done to embarrass him."

You are the president of a relatively unknown independent league team. You are trying to trade a player and are presented with two options.

Option A: Bend your team policy of not making cash deals. Should people question your organization's financial stability on account of this particular transaction (dubious, in my opinion), you can explain that you were confronted with extenuating circumstances that the interested party should hopefully understand.

Option B: Humiliate the player in question by bringing a tired punchline to fruition at his expense--at a marginal loss of $335, no less--knowing full well that, at the very least, the local press will pick up on the story and have a field day with it.

You choose Option B and expect us to believe that it's not a publicity stunt.


That's a motherfucking publicity stunt if there ever was one. Financially unstable, my fucking ass--You're the president of an independent league baseball team, a.k.a. publicity-stunt machine that also stages baseball games.

The actual 10 bats that Odom got traded for, they're easy to discover. An Internet search shows a picture of them, stamped with "John Odom Trade Bat."

They were never used.

Calgary Vipers director of baseball operations Peter Young--You are a disingenuous piece of human garbage who thought it would be cute to ruin a young man's reputation for the sake of selling a few more $6 lawn seats, and you won't even own up to it.

Rot in hell, asshole.


Barry Manilow vs. The Mall-Rats

Someone finally figured out a way to put those damn mouth-breathing and unruly mall-rats with their ugly coat in their place. The New Zealand city of Christchurch (yes that is the correct spelling of the town) is hoping that the smooth, gentle tones of Barry Manilow will rid the city's central mall of the foul mouthed, trash spreading teens that have taken over. 

No word yet on whether Barry Manilow will perform live.

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