Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dear Steve Lavin, Please Don't Use Words You Can't Pronounce

I generally like Steve Lavin's color commentary--he clearly knows what he's talking about when it comes to schemes and set plays and the like. I also enjoy his weird pseudo-homoerotic exchanges with his play-by-play partner.

But here's the thing. You can't go on national TV and pronounce the word "wunderkind" as Wonder-Kined. That's an incorrect pronunciation at every almost every syllabic opportunity. You can't do that!

Dear Steve:

It is a German word, and it has maintained its Germanic pronunciation, for the most part. Please see here. There's even an audio sample, so you can hear where you went wrong. Let's tighten that verbiage up for next time around, OK?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Say, That John Wall Fella Can Jump

I haven't watched of Kentucky play yet this year (due to a variety of reasons, like choosing more compelling games featuring less talented players, or a sickening desire to continue to watch my beloved but bumbling Washington Retarded Kittens (nee Drunken Savages) play their way to a 4 win season.)

But it is impossible to avoid the talk of John Wall--I heard a lot about him while watching Kansas' Xavier Henry ball it up, for example. It usually goes something like "Henry is a fine shooter of the ball, but he probably doesn't have Wall's explosive athleticism." And watching Henry play, I was somewhat confused, for he is a pretty athletic cat.

Because I don't watch games like Kentucky vs. Hartford, I missed a pretty clear example of what people are talking about when they discuss Wall's physical gifts. I saw this via Yahoo's The Dagger, and it is impressive:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Degenerate Wisconites Come To Minnesota: Steal Walleyes

You bastards!

Four Wisconsin anglers come to Minnesota to go fishing, promptly go 40 fish over the limit, and whine about their trip: "the anglers admitted they knew the law, but took more fish because they drove such a long distance from Wisconsin to northwestern Minnesota."

Tough shit, babies! Pay your fine and get the fuck out!

There's No Rule Against Money Grubbing Ghosts in Basketball

Yesterday the new NCAA rankings came out, and no team still in the top 25 fell as far as the New Mexico Lobos, who lost their undefeated cachet and dropped from #13 to #19 in the AP Poll all thanks to one game against the Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts University.

That may seem harsh to those of us who follow small colleges, and know that Oral Roberts has already knocked off some big programs (if not super-great teams, like Stanford and Missouri). Still, this is the first time this season that the Eagles have beaten a ranked team this year, and it has people wondering*--is there something to the idea that much like in Angels in the Outfield, or The Sixth Man, the team is getting assistance from the supernatural? Perhaps, I don't know,

Of course, it can't really be like Angels in the Outfield.
That team was helped by angels. And no man who threatened his own life on national TV to make money is in heaven. So, we will go with that wacky comedy known and loved by everyone** The Sixth Man, wherein a ghost of a basketball player (ably played by the king of flip-up sunglasses Kadeem Hardison) returns to the earthly plane to help his team win and maybe, just maybe, teach his best friend Marlon Wayans a lesson about life.

I think we all need to watch Oral Roberts University carefully, and look for the telltale (and hilarious) signs of ghostly interference. The trailer of The Sixth Man provides a nice primer on what to look for. You may need to watch it a few times to catch everything, as you will undoubtedly be laughing too hard in some spots, and miss something crucial.

* I am probably the only one wondering about this.
** no one

Spreading Thy Seed

This is the final week of the 2009 regular season and our NFL 2009 IDYFT Pick'em. While ten of twelve playoff spots have been determined, where these teams will be seeded is very much still in play. Seeding these teams will be the final Bonus Question of the year, and I hereby provide you with the seeding (as of 12/29) to aid you. Bold teams can't change their seeding.

1. Indy 2. SD 3. NE 4. Cincy 5. Broncos 6. Jets

1. Saints 2. Eagles 3. MN 4. AZ 5. GB 6. Dallas

With Leftnut taking the points for the Saints' #1 seed, the only remaining bonus points out there depend on Favre and the Redskins. These final points could likely determine the winner of a fantastic first prize. Second prize is steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.

1. Miwacar: 65 pts (this week +3)
2. Jess: 64 pts (this week +6)
3. Byard: 63 pts
4. MMan: 58 pts (this week +4)
5. Lfnut: 37 pts (this week +7)
6. Big BM, Adw: incompetent

Week Seventeen
1. Big Shoe-in?

2. Little Shoe-in?

3. Surprise! Underdog list:

Chiefs, Oaktown, Cincy, Giants

4. Disliked/Favorite?

5. Clash of the Titans:

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

6. Clash of the Titans (Final Chapter):

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

Bonus Question +2 for each correct seeding
A. AFC seeding:
A1. seeds 3 & 4: Cincy/NE
A2. seeds 5 & 6: Jets/Ravens/Broncos/Houston/Pitts

B. NFC seeding:
B1. seeds 2-6: MN/Phi/AZ/Dal/GB

Monday, December 28, 2009

RIP, George Michael

No, not that one (though, if I were a betting man, that George Michael might be in my Dead Pool for 2010).

George Michael of George Michael's Sports Machine passed away this weekend. I didn't realize it growing up, because I lived in Michael's home base of DC, but his show was syndicated across the country pretty early in its existence. It was, towards the end of its run, a show many insomniacs across the country might recognize as the SportsCenter for people who could not afford basic cable. In fact, some younger readers may have only heard tell of the Sports Machine--with the rise of the Internets and the Cable, the Sports Machine wasn't as needed as it once was. But once upon a time, it was one of the Most Important Shows in the World.

For a kid of 10 years of age in 1984, with no cable to speak of, the Sports Machine was incredibly important to get a real dose of sports highlights at the end of each week. (Also, to be frank--an era in which ESPN was available, but showing things like The Championship of Duck Pin Bowling. Seriously. Kids, ask your parents)

The Sports Machine set was ridiculous throughout it's run. The motif suggested that Michael was somehow running a giant computer in which the highlights were stored. The cheesiness (which stayed throughout the run of the show) was something glorious to behold.

In a lot of ways, George Michael was a trailblazer in the development of sports highlight packaging. He was not the most entertaining of broadcasters; he was not my choice for my nightly sports reporting (that went to Glenn Brenner), but dammit The Sports Machine with Michael's weirdly wooden staccato delivery, low budget values, and often poor video was an important part of how I got sports delivered to me for a good chunk of my life (including times in my adult life when I couldn't afford cable, and discovered that the Sports Machine was available even in the frozen north of the Twin Cities.)

So thanks, and fare thee well, George Michael. On behalf of kids in the DC Area (and sleepless drunks everywhere else) thank you for the Sports Machine. Let's Go the Videotape!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day Innocence Died

Charlie Sheen arrested? NO!

For a Domestic Disturbance Beef? NOOOOOOOOOO! Don't worry, everyone--it doesn't matter how many women Charlie Sheen allegedly beats or threatens. He will still be on the next season of America's most beloved, least funny comedy.

Let's compare just real quick what Charlie Sheen's career would have been like if he had been a professional sports type guy player. I'm pretty sure he might have been banned for life by now. He's been arrested and convicted (or plead out) a number of times; his own father reported for violating parole after his cocaine overdose.

Let's put it this way--if you somehow magically exchanged Charlie Sheen and Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan would not have a contract with Hanes. Jordan knows how to keep his shit on the down-low. Sheen does not, but doesn't have to, because he's Charlie Fucking Sheen, and what else do you expect from him?

Charlie Sheen is practically paid to get fucked up, slap ladies, and get arrested. That's his thing, man. And so far, CBS is cool with paying him a dump truck full of money. Because they care, but not that much.

update (12/28): Pulling a knife might be a step too far for CBS. We'll see.

Friday, December 25, 2009

RIP, Vic Chesnutt

The news, which hasn't been widely reported, but I believe to be true (mainly because of fellow badass and friend Kristin Hersh's tweets) sucks. It seems that Vic Chesnutt committed suicide on Christmas Eve day, being found in a coma and never revived.

I don't know what to say about this, except to say how much it sucks.

Vic Chesnutt was one of the finest songwriters this country has produced in the last 20 years, and while it is not completely shocking that he would commit suicide*, it bothers me greatly that he did go out that way. But I'd rather not focus on that. I'd rather talk about how great and personable he was in concert. I shook his hand at the 400 Bar, after a great show he played with members of the Jayhawks. I'd like to follow Kristen Hersch's lead, and ask everyone to keep tuned to see what they can do to help support Tina Chesnutt.

And mainly, I'd just like to remember some of the great songs he wrote. Vic was an acquired taste, vocally, but once you bought in, and heard him, he was without a doubt one of the most honest, interesting and complex songwriters out there. If his songs were not so searingly personal, he could have made a mint selling them off to other artists. But they were so clearly his songs that covering him seemed a waste of time.

Some of my favorites:

Naughty Fatalist
When I Ran Off and Left Her
Gravity of the Situation
Danny Carlisle
Lucinda Williams
Soft Picasso

And here he is, on the short-lived Craig Kilborn show, doing Band Camp. Rest in Peace, Vic.

*for one example, see his lyrics for "Florida":
a man must take his life in his own hands
hit those nails on the head
and i respect a man who goes to where he wants to be
even if he wants to be dead

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Haven't Seen A Jew Run Like That Since Poland, 1938

There is a blog that I've just added to our blogroll called Awful Announcing. They are much more popular than we are, and do a great job covering awful announcing. They collect great bad decisions, and one of their most recent posts is amongst my favorites, because it is the kind of thing that South Park mocked way back in Season 1.

Yeah, World War I is a long time ago, but mentioning Hobey Baker (of the eponymous hockey award) in this context does seem wrong. Hilariously wrong.

We do suggest that our readers check out Awful Announcing, because they have great stuff, and we won't rip them off in so obvious a fashion too often.

Don't Lie To Me, Brent Musberger

I don't mean to pick on the Old Timer All-Star Team of Musberger and Knight, but if they are going to be talking basketball, on TV, two things need to happen.

1. Bobby Knight needs to disabuse himself that he isn't a member of the media. "Oh, Brent, if I ever become a member of the media, I'd be the biggest Benedict Arnold in the sports world." Umm, dude? You are working for a media outlet, providing context and analysis of an event. You were to provide your insight. You are working for a television sports medium. You are the media. Sorry.

2. Brent Musberger needs to learn how to look at the clock at the same time he is watching a basketball game. I know it moves faster than football, but here's a pretty basic fact about hoops, time, and scoring. As Kansas, slowly but methodically pulled away from California, Brent Musberger kept trying to convince us the game wasn't over. But look, at 2:28 left in the game, and with a fourteen point difference, amongst the largest of the game--that is not the time to say, "California is still in the neighborhood, hangin' around this game." No, they are not. They are going to lose this game. Because Kansas had only a 9 point lead a few minutes before, and Kansas doesn't give up 14 point leads in the last 3 minutes of games. They don't. End of story.


The regular season IDYFT 2009 Pick'em is racing to its explosive climax. Who among our celebrity contestants will win a handsome t-shirt, as well as all bragging rights thereof? 'Tis a curiosity.

Barnyard and MMMan connected on long bombs (+7) to the still-undefeated Colts, the last to lose. There are now only a few BIG bonus questions remaining. Your answers back in late summer will cruelly influence your race to the regular-season championship. No one picked up any bonus points for the AFC #1 seed, your Indy Colts.

Your pick for the Superbowl winner obviously can't be counted in the regular season pick'em, but I've included it here as a curiosity.

name........NFC #1 seed.......Brett miss start........DC Final Record........SB

1. Barnyard: 63 pts (this week +15)
2. Miwacar: 62 pts (this week +10)
3. Jess: 59 pts (this week +8)
4. MMMan: 54 pts (this week +7)
5. Leftnut: 30 pts (this week +2)
6. Big BM: 28 pts
7. Adw: so far behind I think I'm in front

Week Sixteen
1. Your Big Shoe-in?
2. Your Little Shoe-in?
3. Surprise! Upset list:
Chiefs, Seahawks, Bucs, Rams, Lions
4. Favorite team wins/Disliked loses?
5. Clash of the Titans:
Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins

6. Redundant Clash of the Titans (Thursday game):

San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans

7. Repeated and Redundant Clash of the Titans:

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Monday, December 21, 2009

Martin Brodeur: Greatest of All Time

With tonight's shutout, Martin Brodeur of the three-time champion New Jersey Devils became the all-time greatest goalie in pro hockey history. He'd already taken the crown for most wins, minutes and games as a goalie, but earning the most shutouts (on thirty-five saves!) slams the door on any doubt: he is the greatest goalie of all time.

Martin Brodeur has been indomitable for fifteen years. His NHL record of 104 shutouts is a towering marble monument to his vision, balance, flexibility and determination.

A gold medalist for Canada in 2002, Brodeur became a dual citizen of the U.S. on December 1st of this year. He is welcome to enjoy my country, living in nearby West Orange, NJ. If Canada wants any members of the Washington Generals in recompense, they are welcome to take them far away.

Thank you Martin, for the countless games of Sega hockey you helped me win, for dominating the net with your snapping glove over fifteen seasons with my Devils, and for giving me something to cheer about on this dark, cold Monday night.

AP is 0-2 on this "Athlete of the [Blank]" Thing

First they came out with the hilariously ill-timed, nonathletic selection of Tiger Woods for Athlete of the Decade. We enjoyed Dave Zirin's deconstruction of that idea.

I haven't seen if Zirin has reacted the news that a race car driver beat out arguably the Fastest Man Ever to Exist for athlete of the year. But I guess he will think it awfully stupid, and he'll be right.

I mean, seriously. Here's the one sentence recap of what Bolt did in 2009 (courtesy of Wikipedia): In August 2009, a year after the Beijing Olympics, he lowered his own 100 m and 200 m world records to 9.58 s and 19.19 s respectively at the 2009 World Championships.[5] His record breaking margin in 100 m is the highest since the start of digital time measurements.[6]

Hey, great for Jimmie Johnson--enjoy this weird cultural blip where NASCAR is considered a sport, and not a pastime or activity. I'm not saying that it isn't dangerous, or doesn't require some super hand-eye coordination, or doesn't have some interesting things to watch. Sweating in a hot box and staying focused for 5 hours or whatever does not compare to being the single fastest dude ever. It just can't. Or at least, shouldn't.

Only in America would this decision have even been pondered. The Laureus Awards (based in Europe) has been known to give their Sportsman of the Year award to race car drivers (not NASCAR, though--they seem to prefer drivers who have to turn in more than one direction). This year they gave the award to Usain Bolt. Why? Because it's a no-brainer!

Shitty job, AP! I would have surprised if you hadn't fucked it up, though. Thanks for keeping my world view safely intact.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Brent Musberger and Bobby Knight Don't Understand Time

The clock stopped for no reason late in the Butler-Xavier game, freezing at 14.7 while the ball was in play. Essentially, time was added to the game by the clock operator.

Brent and Bobby spend the next 10 minutes or so (while the officials are conferring) discussing how much time should be put on the clock. That's not the issue at all! Time needs to be taken off, because time wasn't running when it should have been. There is no chance of time being added back to the clock. The issue is how much should be taken off the clock.

So Brent and Bobby were discussing end-game scenarios based on an understanding that was the exact opposite of what was happening.

The officials (just now) ruled the game was over. Butler wins! In a decidely questionable fashion. I'm not sure the clock would have zeroed out, but at best it would have left Xavier with just a few tenths of a second. But it was curious when the clock stopped when it did, and started back up the way it did.

And Brent and Bobby are a couple of guys who seem to have trouble grasping the fundamental principles of time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

That's On Point, Dave Zirin

We've occasionally mocked the game of golf, and especially people who claim it is a sport, when it so clearly is not. I've quoted Dave Foley from Kids in the Hall, who in a sketch that took place at a golf club said, "I hate the game and I hate the people who play it even more!"

When Tiger Woods was hilariously named Athlete of the Decade by AP, I didn't think much about it, aside from the horrible, horrible timing. But Dave Zirin did, and said a bunch of things I've said for years, which I found enjoyable. I like having my opinions confirmed!

Says Zirin:

Golf is not a sport. It's a game. It's darts. It's billiards. It's the World Series of Poker with walking. I believe that anything that you can gain weight while performing, or anything you can do at a world-class level while smoking, just isn't a true athletic competition.

Otherwise the AP should've included people like the Great Takeru Kobayashi, who held the competitive hot dog eating record for six straight years. In 2001, he doubled the old mark, scarfing down 50 weenies in 12 minutes. Disgusting? Sure. But no more vile than the amount of acreage and water needed to maintain a golf course.

Then Zirin gives us his top 5 athletes, and they are, for the most part, excellent, inspired choices. Ronaldhino? Sure! Serena Williams? No argument there. Roger Federer? Of course. Kobe Bryant? I get it, as much as I hate it. Zirin goes a bit off the rails in my opinion with his last pick--Ray Lewis. Really, Ray Lewis? Zirin calls him the "the epitome of controlled adrenaline" which would be true, if Lewis had controlled his adrenaline in this past decade.

I've personally watched that guy rack up more deserved personal foul yardage than any other player in the league . Yes, he was a co-leader of one of the most consistently dominant defenses in the NFL, and Middle Linebacker is a physically demanding position. But is he clearly the best NFL player of the decade? Randy Moss? Larry Johnson and Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson might be argued for, for heaven's sake. If you are looking for a sneaky defensive, underrated player, how about Chuck Woodson? If Ray Lewis isn't the clear-cut player of the Decade (and I don't think he is) and he's clearly kind of an overly compensating nerd (which I think he is) then I don't see him on my list.

TV Funhouse- Ray Lewis
by AC310DC

Children Always Steal Reindeer From the Drunkest Santas

Oh, Wisconsin:

Santa Claus is in trouble with the law in one western Wisconsin city. Police in Sparta said they cited a man dressed as Santa after witnesses told officers he stumbled out of a vehicle, approached several children playing in a yard, hugged them and demanded to know the whereabouts of his reindeer.

update: Raw police footage here!

Expensive Palaver

Brandon Jennings just lost $7500 because he hopped on to Twitter before the media was done with their post game interviews. I'm aware that $7500 isn't a huge chunk of change to an NBA'er, but I can still imagine Jennings pain when he looks at what he wrote, and thinking to himself, "How could something so trite cost me money?"

Jennings tweet: "Back to 500. Yess!!! "500" means where doing good. Way to Play Hard Guys."

"Way to Play Hard Guys" has never cost anyone money before. But with this new-fangled internetal technology, there are all sorts of fun new rules.

It's Official: Landon Donovan Loaned to Everton

Landon signed a nice new fat deal with the LA Galaxy, and they shortly thereafter announced that Donovan will be on loan during LA's off-season. He's going to Everton, which is still technically a side in the English Premier League, but is need of some help, as they are only 1 point above the first team in the relegation zone.

This has the opportunity to be mutually beneficial, but most importantly, beneficial to the US National team. There are risks attached as well, but barring injury, or simply just playing too much damn soccer and getting fatigued, this should be a good move. Here's some reasons why:

Opportunity: Everton are a little desperate, as I mentioned before, and it's not necessarily for a lack of talent. They've got talent, but injuries, suspensions, injuries, maybe simply not finding the right roles for their guys, and injuries has put them behind the eight ball a bit. Which is perfect for Donovan--he's going to get a chance to jump in, maybe play a couple of different roles, and really help.

Confidence: There isn't a soccer league where the defenders hit as hard as they do in the Premiership. And Donovan needs that. He knows at this point in his career he can handle just about anything the MLS has to throw at him, or the CONCACAF during World Cup qualifying. This is only a 2 1/2 month sojourn in the wilds of the Premiership, but it should give Donovan a chance to get used to and grow comfortable in a more physical style of play ahead of the Cup (where we will be seeing a lot of Premiership players in Game 1 against England). Having the best US Player used to the English style is a good thing. (provided he doesn't break a leg learning)

It's A Start: Donovan really should be plying his trade overseas. He's 27, in his prime, and I'm almost angry at him for dicking around in the Retirement Tour that is the MLS. If he's going to be great, he's going to need to play against greatness, and whilst the MLS has improved massively since their first couple of years, they are still light-years behind the professional leagues of England, Spain and Italy (and hell, Germany and France). But this is a start, and maybe once Donovan gets a taste for the big leagues, he'll want to compete there more. And that will only be a good thing for him, and for the US National Team as a whole.

Yahoo's Martin Rogers seems to be thinking in a similar vein, though you can almost make out the skepticism between the lines. If you squint.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The NFL Network Would Like You To Know You Are Missing a Barnburner

It's been a hell of a first 3 quarters in Jacksonville. First punt just happened, we've got 59 total points (hope you took the over) and it is a shame hardly anyone in America can watch it.

It's especially troublesome during the commercial breaks, because you get nothing but Southwest Airlines, those annoying Beatle-covering Blackberry ads, and NFL films crap. C'mon America--NFL Network needs a new pair of shoes! Pony up some dough, so you can watch the game, and then the NFL Network can get some real sponsors.

Vinny Cerrato is Gone!

As stipulated in my father's will, Vinny Cerrrato has resigned from the front office of the Washington Redskins.

Cerrato will be replaced by GM Bruce Allen, son of former coach George Allen. Although Bruce Allen's tenure with the Bucs wasn't entirely successful, there's no way he can suck as bad as Vinny.

This is the happiest day for my football team in a long, long, long time.

Bye Vinny! You sucked! Looking forward to hearing your expert analysis on NFL pregame shows.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chris Dudley is Running For Governor of Oregon

That is simply unfair. Chris Dudley is too beloved in Oregon
for his legendary play for the Trailblazers. Clearly, he's going to win the Republican nomination. He has already brought his still talked-about basketball panache and excitement to his platform, trumpeting such new exciting concerns as "cutting spending" and "lowering taxes". It would take a bold insightful court leader like Chris Dudley to bring these sorts of crazy concepts to the Republican mainstream.

But it isn't fair. After he trades his goodwill for his scintillating career on the hardwood, who or what could stop Chris Dudley from further trading on his name to get some new constitutional amendment allowing former NBA'ers to have no term limits in Oregon?

Next thing you know, he becomes their de facto king, and you wake up one day in 2025, and Oregon is no longer a state, but it's own independent nation called the Duchy of Dudley or some such thing.

The people of Oregon can not be trusted to do the right there here. Their love of Chris Dudley is without bounds, and beyond any logical grasp needed to vote rightly in state elections.

If An Owl Can Catch Your Dog, Your Dog is Too Small

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merde de Canard

One might imagine that a forty-point win would take the bonus question for biggest point differential, but the Ravens forty-five point win was the largest differential of the season (not verified and it's not going to be, at least by me). Miwacar nailed this question, scoring the only bonus points of the week and recaptured the lead.

With only three weeks left, the race is tighter than a duck's ass in a knife fight. Those long-range bonus questions will likely have an impact on the outcome, and I will reproduce all of your choices over the season. A handsome all-cotton t-shirt is as at stake!

1. Miwacar: 52 pts (this week +9)
2. Jess: 51 pts (this week +5)
3. B'yard: 48 pts (this week +2)
4. MMan: 47 pts (this week +5)
5. Lefnut: 28 pts (this week +2)
Big BM: 28 pts
6. Adw: (this week +3)

Week Fifteen
1. Big Shoe-in?
2. Little Shoe-in?
3. Surprise! Underdog list:
Oakland, Chicago, Detroit
4. Favorite/Disliked?
5. Clash of the Titans:
+/- 2
Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers
6. Mini-Clash of the Mini-Titans:
+/- 1
Miami Dolphins at Tennessee Titans

Bonus Questions
7. Last Team Standing: Colts or Saints? +2
8. Most Combined Points? +2
9. Fewest Combined Points? +2

I For One, Welcome Our Invertebrate Overlords

You may not know this about the crew of IDYFT, but we are big fans of cephalopods. The fun of them is of course their curious amount of brain power, despite their short lives. Weird biology is neat, dammit.

So kudos to a bunch of Aussie Scientists, who were strangely not all named Bruce, who found an octopus who uses tools, or at least carries stuff from one location to another for later use. In this case, coconut shells.

From the AP's Kristen Gelineau:

Octopuses often use foreign objects as shelter. But the scientists found the veined octopus going a step further by preparing the shells, carrying them long distances and reassembling them as shelter elsewhere. That's an example of tool use, which has never been recorded in invertebrates before, Finn said.

"What makes it different from a hermit crab is this octopus collects shells for later use, so when it's transporting it, it's not getting any protection from it," Finn said. "It's that collecting it to use it later that is unusual."

update: Video!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Maynor Figueroa, That's Ballsy

So let me set this up a bit, because the video is from a British Football highlight show, and it starts in medias res. It's Stoke vs. Wigan in the Premiership, which is analogous to, I don't know--Cleveland vs. Kansas City in the NFL. These are two teams that are going nowhere. There is a foul at midfield, and the fouler has caused the ball to roll to a stop. The ball needs to be stopped for any free kick in soccer. As the commentator somewhat dickishly points out--there is a reason that soccer players, after giving up a foul, stand near the ball until the referee makes them step away--players do that to give their defense a few extra seconds to set up. Iffen you don't do that, crazy shit can happen.

Somehow, for some reason, Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa sees that the ball has stopped, sees that the goalkeeper is off his line (why wouldn't he be? The free kick is more than 50 yards away) and Maynor decides to take a poke. That's ballsy. But of course, it wouldn't be worth mentioning if he were ballsy and unsuccessful. Maynor was ballsy and very successful. And there can be no doubt about what he was trying to do--there's no one on his team anywhere near this ball. Maynor Figueroa looked up, saw the keeper four steps out of position, and gave this ball a crack. He was trying to do this. My brain wrinkles at the audacity.

Maynor Figueroa v Stoke - Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How's Your Twin Cities Hip-Hop Collection?

The AV Club, the go to source for aging hipsters like myself, put 2 hip-hop albums in the top 10 of their Top 25 albums of the year. Those two albums were both made by Twin Cities acts.

Both Brother Ali and P.O.S (whose praises we have sung before) put out some top-notch records this year. But I'm also willing to say that fellow Twin Citians Eyedea and Abilities put out maybe my favorite single song in "Spin Cycle". Let's celebrate some Twin Cities hip-hop, shall we?

Let's start with a Brother Ali, playing live in the Current studios (not to brag, but The Current is the coolest public radio station, ever. I say "not to brag" because I had nothing to do with its creation. I do contribute small amounts of money to its operation, though. So I guess I basically do help make the station exist. Yay me!) The woman talking to Brother Ali is Mary Lucia, who is simply the finest DJ I've ever had the pleasure to listen to.

Here is Brother Ali with "The Preacher".

Up next, P.O.S., whose album "Never Better" is my favorite hip-hop record of 2009. P.O.S. is a Hopkins product (I may or may not work with someone who went attended junior high with him, back in the day. Minnesota is like that. A few hundred thousand people, congregated around a bend in the Mississippi, but you will always be 3 degrees away from the famous folks--I also know a guy who went to high school with Seann William Scott, and I worked with Josh Hartnett's aunt.) That's all off topic. My main point is that "Never Better" continues to do what P.O.S. has been attempting to do for awhile, which is to organically wed punk music and rock music and hip hop all together, without feeling like a stunt or a gimmick. The video for Drumroll matches the intensity of the lyric and music (and there could not be a more appropriate title for a song).

This last song is not from an album that hit the AV Club's Top 25, but like I said at the top, it may be my favorite hip-hop from 2009. It's from Eyedea and DJ Abilities. Eyedea made his bones by showing up to various contests in NYC, and fucking shit up. He's a crazy freestyler, despite his homeless looks. And he, like P.O.S., has also been experimenting with other styles of music, especially punk. While P.O.S. is probably more political, Eyedea writes some devastating lines about relationships. So, your punk analogues are possibly The Clash vs. say, I don't know, The Replacements? That's probably a bit (a lot) overblown, but man, do I love "Spin Cycle". Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

NCAA Hoops Comes Up With A Gob-Smackingly Stupid Idea

Or, "How to Kill Your Golden Goose"

We, as a collective blogging entity, have spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out why the NFL ownership seems hellbent on fucking over their own product.

Here comes some factions within NCAA Basketball who seem like they are tired of seeing only NFL owners getting ripped for their stupid, stupid ideas. Some folks are discussing the possibility of expanding the tournament to 96 teams, with the top 32 teams getting a first round bye. Seriously!

I am biased in this, in that I love the current format. I love the current format so much that I take the first two days of the tournament off from work so I can enjoy all the upsets, and almost upsets from the comfort of my home. I remember Coppin State knocking off #2 seed South Carolina back in the day. I remember when Gonzaga wasn't a team that everyone expected in the Sweet Sixteen. I remember when Steve Nash was some ninja no one heard of, playing for some backwater California system team. But I don't think I have to be a hardcore fan to realize how stupid this idea is.

Chris Chase, over at Yahoo's The Dagger, lists a number of reasons why this is a bad idea. There's how difficult it will be to make a pool with that kind of field, how complicated it will be, and plenty of other reasons.

But I will tell you what is the reason I hate this idea--it's what I mentioned in the first paragraph--Coppin State vs. South Carolina. This is a double-edged argument, and I'm somewhat confusing myself as I think it through, but here it goes.

A Sixteen seed has never, even beaten a #1 seed. That says to me no expansion necessary--we are already getting teams that have no shot at winning in the first round. And it seems like cheating to give those teams a bit of a pass by playing teams not in the first round. "Jackson State gave Duke a scare!" is a lot more fun than "Jackson State beat Providence."

So, maybe, MAYBE, you could argue for the top 4 teams to get a bye. But the top 32? That's just a brazen money grab. Add a whole week to the tournament, and you've eliminated the sheer joy of the 12 vs 5 upset, or the 13 vs 4 upset? It's a crazy stupid idea, and the NCAA needs to stop talking about it even being a possibility. This tournament is essentially perfect as it is, and fucking with it is so obviously a bad idea, it makes one wonder not just about the smarts of the guys running the NCAA Basketball team, it makes one question their sanity.

This is all in the context of the NCAA and CBS current TV contract coming to an end, and it appears the NCAA is looking at all their options, and it is possible that this was just a crazy idea that was thrown out there, and got reported without any reference to how serious of an idea this is, or how far it will be pursued. It needs to be not pursued at all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Smell You Later, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have certainly struggled of late, but this appeared to be a game to get right in. Cleveland Browns? The 1-11 Browns?

You gotta look at what is going on the Steeler's offense, because you look at the numbers that the Cleveland offense put up, and it hardly seems like a winning formula--a QB who threw for less than 100 yards, and scored only 13 points. But you know what? 13 points is plenty when the Steeler's offense can only punch in 2 field goals.

There's been talk for years about Ben Roethlisberger holds onto the ball too long, and the response has always been that that's the price you pay for his playmaking ability. But taking 8 sacks, and throwing for barely 200 yards and 0 TD's sounds like the balance of Big Play vs. Big Sack is way, way out of whack, and it may be time to get that ball out quicker. They tried, near the end, but it could be that Rashard Mendenhall isn't a true pass-catcher. He sure dropped at least one easy one. Maybe it is time to give Mewelde Moore some extra burn?

Of course, you could also take look at the Steeler's defense, who did allow two rushers--rookie Chris Jennings and WR Josh Cribbs in the Wildcat--to run for 160 yards combined.

You could also look at their special teams, who gave up a big return to Cribbs, and then spent the rest of the game punting scared, and kicking the ball out of bounds after 35 yard punts.

The Steelers are now 6-7, and their season is basically done. There are now 8 teams in the AFC not winning their respective divisions with the same number or fewer losses in the AFC, including Denver and Jacksonville, both of whom are well over .500.

Deion Sanders says, "I don't know who this team is; they have no identity." Deion is spitting truth,a nd that's scary, folks.

Sympathies to all you Fantasy Football owners who thought that they had tons of points lined up from people like Roethlisberger, Mendenhall, Hines Ward and the like. Santonio Holmes owners--you got lucky.

Goodbye, Boof! Fare Thee Well

We knew Boof wasn't going to be a Twin for very much longer, but it is now official. Boof is headed to Boston, where we fully encourage to hit on Boston Globe writer Amalie Benjamin.

In his departure, I would like to point you back to this post, where you can learn fun facts about Boof Bonser, and also some facts that I made up out of whole cloth.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

This is Called "Kicking the Tires" in Wisconsin

Permit me to rearrange this story from Wisconsin to give it maximum Wisconsiness:

"Benjamin Tatzel, 45, of La Crosse, registered a preliminary breath-test reading of 0.39 percent Monday afternoon, police said. That's nearly five times the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle.

Police gave Tatzel a public intoxication warning, meaning he can either pay a $240 fine or attend a two-hour sobriety class, police said."

Here's the kicker:

"[Talzel, a] liver transplant recipient was cited for being falling-down drunk on a street in La Crosse, Wis., police said Wednesday."

People, whether you have a new liver or not, .39 percent is awfully fucking drunk. On a new liver, on which you are not supposed to be any unnecessary strains, .39 is way, way too high.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Whipped Topping

Big bonus points have put our leading competitors four abreast. They are the delicious non-dairy whipped topping of our 2009 IDYFT NFL Pick'em.

This sweetness masked the bitterness of the artificially-flavored vanilla ice milk at the bottom: namely myself, shackled to the malfunctions of Professor Badcock's prognosticating calculatron. I knew I shouldn't have run it on Windows.

1. Jess: 46 pts (this week +10)
Barnyard: 46 pts (this week +10)
2. Miwacar: 43 pts
3. MMMan: 42 pts (this week +6)
4. Big BM: 28 pts (this week +7)
5. Leftnut: 27 pts (this week +10)
6. Adw: 18 pts

Week 14
1. Your Big Shoe-in? +2/-4
2. Your Little Shoe-in? +1/-2
3. Surprise! +3 Underdog list:
Browns, Panthers, Lions, Rams
4. Favorite/Disliked? +1/-1
5. Clash of the Titans: +/-2
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
6. King of the Fudge: +/-1
Washington Generals at Oakland Raiders

Bonus Questions
7. Last Man Standing: Colts or Saints? +2
8. Which game will be the closest? +3
9. Which game will have the largest point differential? +3

Monday, December 07, 2009

An Insightful Q&A With an NFLPA Exec

Over at the Freakanomics blog, they had a Q&A session with George Atallah, the assistant executive director of external relations with the NFLPA. It's a good read, though there are some boneheaded questions that he has to address. But there are a lot of good ones, and he answers them forthrightly. As we've said before, the NFLPA seems to have a good handle on what the ownership is going to do, and they are doing everything they can to get out ahead of it, and let people know that if the NFL fucks up their model, it won't be the player's fault.

Key Question and Answer: (I'm unsure why every single abbreviation has periods in it). Don't forget to go read the rest.

Q: In the following Economist article, the author shows a graph of players’ salary growth by professional league from 1990.

It’s striking that N.F.L. players have had lower salary growth than the M.L.B. and N.H.L., as the N.F.L. has become the most profitable league and gained more “sports related” market share than any other league in that time period.

The article implies that this is due to the weakness of the union (because football players have shorter careers than other athletes on average), but is it possible that the N.F.L.P.A. and players have had the foresight to participate in revenue sharing and salary caps to support growth of the league as a whole? It would be a remarkable example of win-win thinking, if true. —vimspot


The timing of this article is fascinating because it falls in the same year (2006) that the current collective bargaining agreement was extended. Then, in May of 2008 — a short two years after — the owners opted out. I still can’t understand why such a win-win scenario would ever be jeopardized.Paul Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw took their licks, but it’s hard to argue with more than two decades of labor peace and unprecedented growth. The N.F.L. is America’s sport. Forty million people watched the N.F.L. draft in April, more than the M.L.B. and N.B.A. playoffs combined. Look at this year’s television ratings.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

On the Ground: World Cup Draw

Cape Town 2009-12-04,

With tickets for five games sitting in my back pocket, I couldn't help but be excited by Friday's draw. Add to that a pile of media coverage leading up to the draw, including an interview I heard with the head of the South African organizing committee, Danny Jordaan, where he said Friday's draw would "kill any doubts" that we would be able to successfully host the world cup. I was skeptical, but hopeful. After all, even with labor disputes and the unreliability of "African time", it looks like all the stadia are pretty much ready to go. Hallelujah.

The fam and I decided to head down to the party on Long Street just a few blocks from the actual draw to get into the spirit of things. We showed up around 5pm, so we missed out on the free hats and the ensuing angry mob, which was probably a good thing. There was live music, tons of food, lots to drink, and so many people stuffed into a small area (over 50,000 by some counts) that it felt a bit more like Mardis Gras than a world cup draw (not a bad thing).

I was glad to see that access to the event was controlled by security personnel, even if they didn't do a thorough check of my kid carrier. I guess we didn't look dangerous enough. On the inside, it was like any other street festival, with one, small, difference. This was a party leading up to the most significant sporting event in the world, which is going to be happening in our backyard in mere months. Everyone here in SA who has even the slightest interest is tingling with excitement, and there's a real sense that we're going to be making this a VERY African tournament. That basically means it's going to be really, really loud, and any team playing against an African outfit is seriously going to have the crowd to contend with.

We stopped at our favorite Long Street eatery, and Masala Dosa never disappoints, but they were bogged down by the sheer volumes of people coming through the door. Organizers and businesses here will need to get it in their heads that there are a lot of people who are going to take part in this tournament, more than just those with tickets to games, and way more than at the highest peak of tourist season. That means everything needs to be organized to scale, whether it's lamb roti from a street vendor or silly yellow hats handed out at a street festival. Once we had our snack, things started to get a bit too crowded, so we took off before the claustrophobia really set in. The throngs were still pouring in as we were leaving, and we got home at about 7 with plenty of time to watch the most important part of the draw show.

The show itself was a bit tame compared to the street party, but it still had some pretty good stuff. It's hard to compete with Charlize Theron, and there aren't many women as big or with as big a voice as that lady from the Soweto Gospel Choir. The draw happened, with no serious complications, other than South Africa getting a bit of a tough draw. I *nearly* got to see England vs USA, but they got slotted into C2 instead of C3. Oh well. England vs Algeria isn't nearly as exciting, but it'll have to do.

In any case, the tournament is happening. Here. I'll give Jordaan that much. I'm now a believer, even if I don't understand what the hell John Smit and Makhaya Ntini have to do with soccer. But make no mistake, crime will be an issue, so will transport, so will accommodation. But the games...the games are going to be awesome, and when it's all said and done we'll have a new world champion hoisting the cup in Johannesburg. That's pretty damn cool in my book.

The Unbearable Weight of Suck: A Historical Perspective

Fresh on my sixth beer after watching the Washington Generals fumble away a most heartbreaking near-upset (they never trailed, all the way through OT until the final FG), the urge to purge can only be palliated with the broadest of historical perspectives.

The DC Skins suck in 2009. That has been apparent (at the very least) since they lost to the 0-19 Lions. Yet they continue to play hard, taking the NFC-best Saints almost all the way to the limit before being repeatedly stripped [pictured]. Bless their beating hearts: they are just not winners.

My late father reared me on fidelity for the Washington Redskins, his hometown team. They rewarded our devotion with three Superbowls during our lifetimes (in addition to one Championship in 1937, their first year in DC, and one in 1942, the year my father was born).

Verily, the 3-9 Washington Red Stains are not winners. The Snyder era, which began with the 2000 season (69 wins & 87 losses = .441 win percent + 1 playoff win), has been unholy. As Kafka wrote, "There are two cardinal sins from which all the others spring: impatience and laziness."

From a historical perspective, how bad are the 2009 Redskins?

They missed the postseason from 1946 until 1970, twenty-five years of woe including a gorge-raising stretch of non-winning seasons from 1956 until 1968. My father somehow remained loyal to the team which he used to watch for free (just to fill the stands) in the old Griffith Stadium.

In 1950 and 1954, with Sammy Baugh and Al Dorow at QB respectively, the Washington Redskins went 3-9, on par with the 2009 team.

They went 1-9-2 with QB Eagle Day (really) in 1960, then dug deeper in 1961, the Redskins' worst-ever season, a record of 1-12-1. You can chalk some of that up to QB Norm Snead [pictured].

After three-time champ Gibbs left, the 1993 Skins went 4-12 with Mark Rypien. That paved the way for Heath Shuler to achieve 3-13 in 1994 under Norv "Meat Blanket" Turner.

Under yuppie-trash ownership since 2000, the worst Washington Generals teams went 5-11: in 2003 under Spurrier and 2006 with Mark Brunnell as QB.

Where do the 2009 Washington Generals fit in? The four remaining games (Raiders, Giants, Cowboys, Chargers) will answer that sad-clown question. I can say this: they are still playing hard. But also, they are not winners.
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