Saturday, January 30, 2010

Celebrating The Accidental Readers of This Blog

Every blog has a free plug-in, that delivers some stats about how many people visited the blog on any given day, how long they stayed, and most entertainingly (to me) how they got there.

I feel a strange sense of pride when I look at the terms people entered into their preferred search engines, and know pretty surely that they ended up here because we provided something they were looking for.

I'm pretty sure, for example, that the person who searched "Steve Lavin big words" was looking for someone to castigate Steve Lavin for not using big words correctly. Hey, random reader, you are welcome!

I'm totally shocked that someone took the time to search for "mike tisdale catfish". I bet that person was equally shocked that someone on the web had taken the time to detail the Jimmy Dykes commentary about Mike Tisdale's love of fishing. And maybe that person learned something about noodling, as well. Realistically, most people don't know what noodling is, and they don't know who the fuck Mike Tisdale is. I like to think we served the one person who went looking for answers well.

Someone out there was wondering why there was a drug that has a name that sounds like Ass Effects. They ended up here, because I had the same question. Solidarity, brothers and sisters!

That's just the past couple of days. It makes me happy to know that people are getting some answers to their questions, or at least confirmation that their questions are legitimate--they didn't dream about the drug that sounds like a scientific name for farts, or hillbilly fishing in the middle of a college basketball game, or what have you. That's the Internet in action, Damn it!

I should note that we do seem to be getting a lot of pedophiles, thanks to very, very occasional contributor barnyard's post on the World Cup from 4 years ago. He featured, in his lead in, a photo of a young Italian boy in his underwear. In the past three days, fucked up dudes have found this website using search terms like "young boy", "young naked boys", "pictures of boys balls".

Guess what, fuckos? I have your IP addresses. Think about that next time you go skeeving for underage boy photos.

Old School Thursday: Big Daddy Kane

One week into my new weekly video post series, and I totally forgot about it. Apologies to people who were really looking forward to the next Old School Thursday post. Here it is, the Big Daddy Kane classic, Ain't No Half-Steppin'. It is worth waiting for.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear ESPN News

Kurt Warner is retiring. He has not died tragically. Please stop talking about him like he did.

Big Blue Monkey

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Can Tim Tebow Really Be This Dumb?

In the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Tim Tebow is quoted saying this about the controversial Super Bowl ad that he is appearing in: "I don't think it's anything that's negative or anything like that."

No one is claiming that the advertisement is just 30 seconds of Tim Tebow and his mom calling for the beheading of dirty fucking atheists. The message can be "positive" whilst the effect can be negative, yeah? Tebow knows that, right?

Is it really not clear to Tim Tebow why sharing the story of his miracle birth (Mama Tebow, short version: the doctors said to abort, because of health issues, and I didn't, and now the baby my godless doctors wanted to kill is a Heismann Winning QB) might be dangerous to lots of women who are being told by doctors (with an extra 20 years of OB-Gyn science on their side) that their health is threatened by a pregnancy?

Tim Tebow knows that not every almost-aborted baby grows up to be a big time college athlete, right? He knows that some do in fact kill their mothers when they are born, and are stillborn themselves? Or has he simply not given any thought to the message behind the ad? Another quote suggests the very real possibility of that:

"It's a great opportunity to share a very happy and special story about my mom fighting for me."

Dear Tim: the Focus on the Family folks are not spending millions and millions of dollars just to share a happy and special story about One Mother's Love. They obviously have an agenda, and despite your "aw, shucks" bullshit, I think it is safe to assume you have one, too.

A very real consequence of this advertisement is that women who have doctors who tell them their health is at risk will ignore it, on the off-chance those doctors are wrong, and they have a superstar baby just waiting to burst forth and provide tons of money when they jump to the NFL. That's the problem, Tim. And I think you know that. Even a virgin football player at Florida can't be as stupid as your portray yourself. Which makes you, Bible Phrases on your cheeks or not, a bad person. Congrats, Mr. Pro-Life, your advertisement might kill some folks.

Landy Cakes Scores!

Congrats to Landon Donovan, for his first goal in his loan to Everton.

Move Over, Brian McBride

US Soccer fans know that Brian McBride was ridiculously tough, and also had the misfortune to have some truly odd ailments. He played bloodied, he came back from broken cheek bones, and on the pitch, he often received elbows:

Combine that with the weird lump he got that he had to get surgery on? Remember those? The one under his pit, like he had contracted some weird less deadly form of the bubonic plague? He came back from those, too. Of course, it turned out that even that was caused by collisions on the soccer field--a couple of shots to the same area had given him a blood clot.

But Charlie Davies is proving to be an even freakier healer. It's been less than four months since he was in that car crash that resulted in more serious injuries than most of us will have in a lifetime.

Ives Galarcep discusses the amazing recovery at ESPN:
Just how amazing? The multiple broken bones in his leg, face and elbow have healed. So has a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and he has recovered from bladder surgery, which left a foot-long scar on his stomach. He has regained the 15 pounds he lost after enduring six surgeries following the crash, and is days away from undergoing his final surgery associated with the accident, a procedure to remove a bone, plate and screws from his left elbow. After a week to recover from that surgery, Davies expects to be back training with Sochaux by the end of February.

That is unbelievable. I won't even get in the procedure where they took off his face so they could get to the facial fractures, or that he's already hitting the Bellagio on occasion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

IDYFT Pick'em: Superbowl

This Superbowl round promises to be a thrilling end to the 2009 season. Likewise, the IDYFT Pick'em will crown a champion with all the dignity of a Halftime Show.

Bonus Points were awarded this week. Back in the Wildcard Round, MMan and Adw called the Colts to win the AFC and then the Superbowl. That pick, if correct, would earn seven points.

Miwacar correctly identified "Elgin Baylor" with the clever use of initials. Basketball was central to my father's life, and Elgin was his favorite all-time player. When I was born, my mother prevailed. As my father wrote in his last book (soon-to-be-published), "we named him Andrew. Deep down in my heart, I knew this was not the name of a Hall of Famer."

Lefnut picked the Saints to win it all, way back in the beginning of the 2009 regular season. He'll pick up 12 points if he is correct.

1. Adw: 20 pts (+7 this week)
2. Jess: 17 pts (+10 this week)
3. MMan: 15 pts (+13 this week)
4. MWC: 11 pts (+6 this week)
Big BM: 11 pts (+10 this week)
5. Lefnut: 0 pts

Superbowl XLIV
1. Clash of the Titans +/-4
Indianapolis Colts versus New Orleans Saints

2. Final Score? (closest = +3)

Bonus Questions (+2)
3. Team with the lead at halftime?
4. Team with most total yards?
5. Team with most turnovers?
6. Team with highest average on kickoff returns?*

Trivia Questions: Regular Season IDYFT Pick'em (2009)
7. Which team was picked by contestants for the most "Shoe-ins"? +3
8. Which team was listed in the "Clash of the Titans" the most times? +3
9. Which team was on the "Underdog List" the most? +3

* an uncommon stat to be sure, but I believe that it will be a hidden stat in this Superbowl, in expectation of a high-scoring game.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Easy There, Jimmy Dykes

The Kentucky - South Carolina tilt was great fun, and undoubtedly, tiny SC guard Devan Downey hit really big shots, and generated some serious headaches for the Kentucky press (in that it did not seem to faze him).

But I do feel that commentator Jimmy Dykes may have oversold the meme that is going to be repeated throughout the next 24 hours--that Downey single-handedly destroyed Kentucky with his incredible performance.

Clutch shooting-yes. Excellent trap breaking-yes. Incredible all-around performance? I'm uncomfortable describing any performance that way when it includes a shooting percentage under 32%. I also feel like it unfairly overshadows a South Carolina defense that held Kentucky to 62 points and a team FG percentage of under 38%. Compare that to Kentucky's most recent road victory against Auburn where they scored 72 and shot over 51%. Calipari himself pointed out that they gave up 15 offensive rebounds to South Carolina.

I'm not taking anything away from what Devan Downey did--he hit big shots, and sank his free throws, and handled the press as well as anyone can. I'm just saying that 9-28 shooting can not be the stat line on one of the most impressive performances in the SEC this year. Shooting percentages like that usually lead to losses, as a matter of fact. So, settle down, Jimmy Dykes.

Dave Zirin is Not a Fan of Paul Shirley's In Your Face Stupidity

Paul Shirley wrote some stuff on the Haitian relief effort, wherein he suggested that giving money to aid efforts is a waste and seemed to suggest that nation-wide poverty was a lifestyle choice:

While the earthquake was, obviously, unavoidable, the way in which many of the people of Haiti lived was not. Regrettably, some Haitians would have died regardless of the conditions in that country. But the fact that so many people lived in such abject poverty exacerbated the extent of the crisis...How could humans do this to themselves?

This angered Dave Zirin, for pretty obvious reasons, and Dave wrote a quick scorcher, and it's a fun little read. Please enjoy a smart man ripping apart a dumb one.

update 1/27/10: ESPN didn't find it funny either. "The views he [Shirley] expressed on another site of course do not at all reflect our company's views on the Haiti relief efforts. He will no longer contribute to ESPN."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tracy Porter is A Savvy Imitator

Everlasting Gobstopper

Favre throws a 4th quarter, season-ending INT?

Let's hope that induces a gag reflex on his sportsjack legions. What next for the Vikings? This team made an impressive run to get to the championship, riding Favre's arm as far as it could take them.

While he will certainly want to come back, to get the taste of that chokeball out of his throat, it is still in the Viking's best interest to get a different QB. I've got no beef with the Vikes, but I am very sick of Favre and all the sportsjacks blowing his boyishness all over themselves.

My gorge riseth. Favre ends the season doing what he does better than any QB in pro football history: chucking INTs. The flavor of that final boner is going persist longer than the birthmark of Drew Brees.

So a clap on the back for the Jets and the Vikings. Good job.

And I hereby submit: anyone who roots for the Colts against the Saints is officially an asshole.

News You Might Have Missed

Andy Dick arrested? What? Crazy, I know. I'm just glad to see that Andy Dick brings his unique brand of comedy/non-consensual sexual groping to places that you might not think he would. Congratulations, Huntington, West Virginia. For one day, you are just like a shitty town outside of Los Angeles.

The Scorpions broke up. Sad news that I was sure had happened 15 years ago at least.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Night Saturday Morning Wrap Up

Remember when I talked, at length, about the American Needle case? Dave Zirin is weighing in, too.

Lots of College Basketball to watch this weekend. Rivals has a viewing guide. Ohio State vs. West Virginia is of particular interest, and should be available to just about everybody. Speaking of college hoops--remember when I praised Jason King for singing the praises of the Missouri Valley? It's becoming kind of uncool, because now Sports Illustrated has a piece on the Northern Iowa Panthers. How can I make sneaky picks in March when the Missouri Valley is getting this much love?

Herschel Walker, age 47, with less than a year of training under his belt, is about to enter the MMA ring. That either goes horribly, or the sport loses all credibility. I don't care how awesome Herschel Walker is, or how he used to bench press cows, or whatever...if a 47 year old who has never participated in your sport can win after just six months of training, your sport loses credibility. My guess is that Walker is going to get his ass kicked, though. This has Bad Idea Jeans written all over it.

Let's talk World Cup, real quick like. Here's how you can tell a writer is from Australia--when the writer refers to the group that Australia is in as being headlined by Germany and Australia, but also includes Ghana. Dear Australian writer--your admittedly hard-nosed, somewhat talented team is not the second team in that group. It is Germany and Ghana. You and Serbia are tied for 3rd right now. And barring a time traveling emigre from Brazil named Rivaldo or Bebeto who seeks Australian citizenship, I don't see that state of affairs changing.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

American Needle vs. NFL--What is it?

Let me preface this post with this undeniable truth: It's a topsy-turvy upside-down world when I agree with Drew Brees. But we will get to that. Today we learned that this Supreme Court is all kinds of wacky, and willing to overthrow 60+ years of precedents and ignore things that are just obviously true (in the name of precedent). If the Supreme Court can say, "Sure, corporations deserve every single bit of First Amendment, if you define the First Amendment as pouring money into campaigns with no limits whatsoever)", then who can say for sure how they will rule on any other case?

If you haven't heard about American Needle vs. NFL, you will soon. Dr. Jason Johnson describes the quick history this way: "In the 1990’s you could buy a Cowboys Jersey from Adidas, a John Elway hat from Champion or a Donovan McNabb T-shirt from Nike. But all of that came to an end in 2002 when the NFL signed a 10-year exclusive clothing contract with Reebok, cutting everyone else out of the NFL apparel business until 2012."

American Needle is challenging the NFL's right to sign such contracts. That's the short version. Dr. Johnson also notes that we have seen what happens with the NFL signs these kinds of deals--$60 EA Madden games, because it is the only officially licensed video game for any video game platform. Compare that to the NBA games, where there is some real competition amongst game makers.

So why is this case about more than a clothing apparel manufacturer wanting in on Reebok's exclusive market? Because the NFL wants it to be. The NFL already won the right from lower courts to act as a "single entity" when dealing with apparel companies and the like. Meaning, the NFL is one big structure when they are protecting their NFL logo, and the like. Yay for Corporate Synergy! But for some reason, not enough for the NFL.

Which makes lots of folks nervous. And by lots of folks, I mean the NFL Player's Association. Drew Brees, writing in Washington Post, wonders what the NFL might do if all 32 teams are always allowed to act as a single entity, "What might the owners do? They could agree to end or severely restrict free agency, continue to enter into exclusive agreements that will further raise prices on merchandise, lock coaches into salary scales that don't reward them when they're promoted and set higher ticket prices (including preventing teams from competing through ticket discounts). These and other concerns prompted the NFL Players Association -- along with the players associations of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League -- to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court last fall, arguing against the notion of the NFL as a single entity."

But hey, Drew Brees and every player in every professional sport, don't worry! An NFL senior VP went to Congress and promised, cross-their-heart, that the NFL isn't looking to game unions with this whole All 32 Teams Make One Unit thing.

Don't worry Drew Brees, and the NFLPA--it really seems that even the most reactionary, activist judges on the Supreme Court have some trouble making the jumps the NFL is making. In fact, they seem awfully close to rethinking that whole clothes monopoly that the NFL had won from the lower courts.

From the SCOTUS Blog:
"Measuring the intensity of the probing by the Justices, it was apparent that the NFL’s lawyer, Gregg M. Levy, was under more pressurer [sic] than American Needle’s counsel. He had a simpler argument, repeatedly storessing [sic] that NFL individual teams have no economic power of their own, but that was an argument largely confined to the single-entity question. He had significant difficulty, it seemed, navigating through the Justices’ questions on how legally to justify the cap-selling monopoly the NFL and its teams had awarded to Reebok International and how to show that that approach was crucial to the success of staging pro football games."

(Reason he had difficulty? It's completely impossible to justify that argument when asked directly about it)

So, to summarize, I think (I admit, I'm no law-talking guy): The NFL signed a bunch of exclusive deals back in the early 2000's. American Needle, a former provider of NFL gear, sued over Reebok's exclusive right to manufacture NFL goods, arguing that it is essentially a Trust, and leads to unfair prices for consumers. Which is true, but they lost their case. But the courts that awarded that case to the NFL didn't go far enough for the NFL, when it came to giving them anti-trust exemptions. The NFL looked to expand their collective right to do things that would be considered anti-trust in any other industry. And the Supreme Court, even though they are fucking insane right now, reacted with suspicion and doubt. Even Scalia! Smell that? It smells like NFL ownership overreach.

Old School Thursday: Nice and Smooth

This popped into my head, and I figure why not and make a tradition of it? Ladies and Gentlemen, the first of a series hopefully. Old School Thursday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Happiest College Basketball Day

There are few things that make me happier as a college basketball fan that grew up in Northern Virginia than seeing both Georgetown beat a ranked opponent, and UNC losing to an unranked one. What a fantastic evening. Potential extra bonus: Duke is down to NC State as I type. What a super special evening.

The Georgetown - Pittsburgh game had the added bonus of being really entertaining, and really close throughout. A player who didn't contribute a whole lot last year but has been getting more time, buckets and boards and is worth keeping an eye on is Julian Vaughn. He's not flashy, but he gives the Hoyas a number of guys who score in different ways. They often end up with 4 or 5 guys in double digits. When they do, increasingly, Vaughn is one of those guys.

But the icing has got to be North Carolina losing their 3rd game in a row to one hell of a streaky ass team in Wake Forest. This Wake Forest team this year has lost to the likes of Purdue, William & Mary and Miami (FL). They've also beaten Gonzaga and Maryland. Those wins were close. This one wasn't. This was an ass-kicking.

If NC State can hold on and beat Duke, UNC would find themselves in sole possession of 2nd to last place in the ACC. Obviously, it is early in the season. However, there is less time to get things turned around then you might think. Especially for a team that plays 8 of their next 12 games against a ranked opponent and/or on the road. Especially for a team that at this point has one quality win on the road, against Ohio State eight weeks ago.

No pressure, UNC. But you better get your shit figured and fast, or you ain't going to the Big Dance. Your resume right now is paper thin--one of the thinnest I've seen for a team that is still somehow ranked in the Top 25 (but won't be come Monday).

(As I finish writing, it sure looks like NC State is going to beat Duke. Happiest day of hoops I've had thus far this season)

Good News? For US Soccer? What?

I was getting ready to write about the injuries piling up for the USA Men's team, and in particular, the fact that Clint Dempsey, possible starting striker and the Rappin' Rodney of futbol, went down in a Premiership League game over the weekend with what looked like a pretty bad knee injury.

But, hey, Good News! No torn ligaments, and no surgery needed. He will be rehabbing, and should be back in plenty of time for the World Cup.

I was going to mention that it sure doesn't look for Oguchi Onyewu to be back in time to solidify the back four of the United States.

But, hey, Good News! Gooch himself thinks he'll be playing in the March 3rd friendly against the Clockwork Orange. Awesome.

more good news--Landon Donovan doesn't seem to hate playing internationally anymore, which is something that can only help him and the US in the long run.

Jason King, On the Money

I love the Missouri Valley Conference, and how they are essentially just a step below the power conferences most years, and often right with one of them any given year. (You think the PAC-10 would want to play a conference-wide challenge against them this year?)

I'd say it is clear that they deserve to get more than one team sent to the dance just about every year. And Yahoo's Jason King says that this year it is more obvious than ever that they do. Damn straight. Of course, Jason King spent way too long last year trying to sell Notre Dame, but let's let bygones be bygones on that score.

Monday, January 18, 2010

IDYFT Pick'em: Conference Round

It's a question of character. The NY Jets have it. Nerfneck Turner does not, and his team reflects it. Kick another challenge flag, boners! That was awesome.

Here we are at the conference championships. There are only two games left. Consider this: in just a few weeks, we will once again be without football for seven months. So suck every drop of pleasure from these three upcoming games.

No, I am not including the Pro Bowl. Lost in the debate about when to have it is the fact: no one gives a crap about the Pro Bowl. Not the fans, not the players. Do the owners really make enough money to subject us to this? They should still select the teams, maybe donate some $ in their name to some charity. But drop the game already. Have them play a Madden football tournament instead.

But I digress.

1. Adw: 13 pts (this week +8)
2. Jess: 7 pts (this week +7)
3. MWC: 5 pts (this week +5)
4. MMan: 2 pts (this week +2)
5. Pakmstr: 1 pt (this week +1)
Big BM: 1 pt (this week +1)

Conference Championships

1. New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts?

2. Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints?

Bonus Questions
3. Your shoe-in?
4. Most total points?
5. Closest game?

Trivia Question
6. Instead of "Andrew", my father wanted to name me after a Hall of Fame basketball player and DC native. If he had prevailed, what would have been my first name?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Celebrating the Diversity of the NFL!

I'm pretty sure you are doing it wrong:

Dear anonymous Jets supporter. I see the Jets licensed serape, and I know that's something that USC helped to start, so I guess that's cool. But the fake moustache? Not a good move, and one that doesn't really celebrate Sanchez's Mexican-American heritage. Also the painted straw hat, with a electrical tape "6" on the side? Also poor form. Please rethink your choices. Mexican-America will thank you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Buddy Hackett

Lots of you punk kids have never heard of Buddy Hackett. He was a drunken fucked-up comedian, and managed to stay "in character" for about 50 years.

The episode of Password that followed the live blog of Family Feud featured Buddy Hackett, and he was a disruptive, brilliant asshole. It was the only instance I've seen where the voiceover guy, the guy who intones "The password is..." starting giggling because of what a celebrity is doing. And kind of dirty for 60's TV. Here he is on Carson.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Awake and Bored -- Let's Live Blog the Feud

Coming up shortly-- 3 am EST--The Family Feud on the Game Show Network. No Peterman, No Richard Karn. Not even poor, tragic Ray Combs. The man, the original...DAWSON'S FEUD.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jozy Altidore on Haiti

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our Defense Did What?

Oh for fuck's sake. The freaky janitor isn't done scraping "Zorn" off the glass, and the Washington Generals have already unplugged their bowels all over themselves.

The postseason has another month of football. Couldn't this have waited a bit longer?

The Washington Generals have hired Albino-American Jim Haslett to coordinate the defense.

I mean ... fuck. Really? Fuck.

The 2009 defense certainly had its problems (chiefly, spending too much time on the field and no ability to close), but it was easily the best of the Washington Generals' three units. The defense was ranked in the top ten for the third year in a row, which made it a top ten defense for eight of the last ten years. It's been the only the thing the Washington Generals have had, lo these many dark years.

So we're going to blow it the fuck up. The entire coaching staff, the scheme, the whole enchilada: prepare to scrape the 2010 Washington Generals off the inside of your microwave.

The Redskins have always run a 4-3. They (Shanahan? Snyder? Allen?) have hired Jim Haslett to take over the defense. Two things make this as hard for me to swallow as an iron ball.

1) Haslett runs a 3-4, creating immediate problems in personnel, continuity and philosophy. Perversely, Shanahan exclusively ran a 4-3 in Denver until he switched in 2008 ... and was fired.

2) Haslett's last gig, coaching the Saints, was a bitter disappointment due to its terrible, sloppy, crappy, porous defense.

I could go on, but I won't. Maybe this will look better in the morning.

In the meantime, go JETS! Scorch the Nerfneck!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Politically Charged Baseball Fail

Charles Pierce, a great writer and curmudgeon, has recently joined the land of the blog. I couldn't be happier about that.

I'm wary though, mainly because the delight he gets in exposing idiotic, overly long treatises on How Baseball is Super Great and Better Than Other Sports Because It is an Expression of Right-Wing America's American Fantasy. I have to read something when Pierce is destroying its concepts so beautifully, but the link does come with a price to pay. Mainly, slogging through shitty, shitty writing about how great baseball is. (Pierce warned his readers, but I don't know he warned them strongly enough)

Sample sentence, purple as an eggplant, and just as smart: "Other evidence of the unbounded character of human aspiration in baseball is that the foul lines are not absolute."

Seriously, the author (Ann Schaub) is arguing that baseball represents so much more than other sports, and is representational of human character because foul balls can be caught for outs. That all that sentence leads to. Foul balls, being caught. That's a symbol of (AMERICAN) HUMANITY'S GREATNESS!

Another phrase that Pierce highlights is this one: "soccer is never psychologically demanding or politically formative in the way that baseball is." What?

Pierce points out that countries have gone to war over soccer, which is certainly more politically formative than anything baseball has done. However, I'd like to point out that soccer has also stopped a few wars, or at least brought about some cease-fires.

At first, I was thinking my life would be none the poorer had I never learned about Diane Schaub's "At the Bat". And here it was big time journalist Charles Pierce's fault that I read that article. I was going to demand some sort of compensation for having this thing inflicted upon me.

But the more I read of it, the more tempted I am to think of it as very clever satire; a hilariously constructed essay full of such over-the-top simplifications ("Football is to baseball as heavy metal or rap is to classical or jazz.") and unqualified and unquantified suppositions ("My strong hunch is that the declining interest and involvement in baseball is a consequence of the absence of fathers in the black community.") that it must be meant to have been funny. This re-imagining that I've attempted is not for the faint of heart. It is a difficult trick to pull off, and if you can't pull it off, you are left slogging through one long, stupid examination of baseball.

But really--you can find room in your heart to find this funny:

"There is no taking turns in other ball sports. Kids will naturally feed the ball to the best players or their friends; in other words, they adopt either the aristocratic or the oligarchic principle. Baseball's batting order is salutary in that it insists upon and demonstrates just how difficult democracy is."

"Enjoy," if you dare.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

IDYFT Pick'em: Divisional Round

The results of the Wildcard Round were surprising to some of our contestants. Competition grows much more serious in the Divisional Round. Now that losing scrotums like the Eagles, Packers, Bengals and Pats are out, we can expect more competitive games.

With so few games, there are limited scoring opportunities. I'll be tweaking some details in an effort to allow everybody to score a little more: it's crowded in the basement. For ease and amusement, I've included your Superbowl Picks below.

1. Adw: 5 pts (this week+5) {Colts + Vikes = Colts}
2. MMMan: 0 pts (this week -6) {Colts + Vikes = Colts}
Leftnut: 0 pts (this week -5) {Chargers + Saints = Saints}
Miwacar: 0 pts (this week -1) {Chargers + Vikes = Vikes}
Barnyard: 0 pts (this week -6) {Packers + Chargers = Packers}

Divisional Round
Clashes of these Titans: +/- 2
1. Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints
2. Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts
3. Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
4. New York Jets at San Diego Chargers

Bonus Questions
5. Big Shoe-in? +2
6. Little Shoe-in? +1
7. Highest Scoring Game? +1
8. Lowest Scoring Game? +1
9. Blowout? +1
10. Closest Game? +1

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Product Testing From SoccerPro

The lads from SoccerPro saw fit to give us some more stuff to test-drive. They very kindly didn't flood our box (that's what she said) with crap we didn't want. They let us choose our shit. And because we were living in a dream world in which winter doesn't come to Minnesota, we picked soccer shirts.

We (and by we I mean Miwacar and me) received our shirts in early December, which was a ridiculously cold month. So I can't rate the shirts based on people going "Hey man, cool shirt." Because you know who sees your t-shirt in Minnesota during an especially cold December? You, your lover, and anyone rocking X-ray specs. That's it.

So I can't tell you that Miwacar has been basking in compliments everywhere he goes thanks to his pretty badass Brazil T-shirt. I think I've mentioned before that despite the fact that Miwacar refuses to root for teams like The Yankees, or the Cowboys, or other somewhat perennial winners, he is a Brazil booster when it comes to the World Cup. Come June of this year, he'll be draped in Brazilian garb despite the fact that he's a Scandahoovian with no genes in his pasty ass chromosomes from south of the equator.

I've not rocked my Celtic t-shirt that I picked because frankly, I'm so layered these days--t-shirt, second shirt, button down shirt, and sweater, that it seems like a waste to bust out my pseudo Irish Catholic pride. But it's a pretty great shirt, with just a bit of texture--who is this guy with two thumbs is pointing at himself and saying, "Who has two thumbs and likes this shirt?" It's me, bitches.

End advertising transmission. Though I have to say that you don't see us whoring out for the gambling websites (who contact us daily about a "blog link exchange"). We like the folks at SoccerPro, and if you dig soccer gear, we honestly think you will dig them too. Check 'em out.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Oh No--Fox in My Dollhouse

I've enjoyed Dollhouse since the beginning, but this season, with the knowledge that they were going off the air, has been balls out and awesome and mind-blowing. Everything is coming together beautifully. One way to kind of ruin it, for just seconds at a time, is to have the Executive Producer dump his or her friends into bit parts over the final episodes. Sure, Eliza Dushku seems to be dating Rick Fox, but does that mean he has to show up on one of my favorite fucking shows?

Eliza, whatever or whoever you do on your time is fine--but don't bring hated sports stars on Dollhouse. What next? Is Derek Fisher or Deion Sanders going to get a quick cameo? Fuck that shit. Let us never speak of this again, and let's fix it for the DVD release.

Jay Mariotti Should Not Be Allowed on TV

Nor should he be allowed to vote. On anything, ever again.

Read his justification for not voting for Bert this year, when he voted for him last year. It's amazing.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Happy New Year!

Goodbye forever, Awkward & Ugly!

Welcome to your new home, Coach Shanahan! Let kindly Mr. Virgil be your guide.

Reason for Optimism: Corey Brewer

Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer is in his 3rd year, and if this year isn't exactly a breakout year for him, there are signs that suggest he will be a benefit to whatever team he ends up with, and those signs make me want him to stay a Timberwolf.

No one was happier than I was when the Timberwolves drafted Brewer way back in 2007--he was coming off an impressive NCAA championship run, throughout which he was the most difficult match-up for the other team. Brewer was a lanky 6' 9" playing small forward (even now, he's still basically a stick figure. At that height, he still hasn't crested the 190 pound mark) with keen defensive skills, freakishly long arms, and on offense he proved himself to be a streaky but effective shooter, with a love for the quick attack to the basket.

And then he was a first year pro for a struggling/crappy
franchise, and he looked lost. And watching his rookie campaign, it was clear within the first 3 minutes of a game whether Brewer was going to have a good game or not. If he hit first shot, or made a big steal early, you could expect a better than average night. If he missed his first shot (which he often did, and badly) you could see him shaking his head, and that was it--you knew he was going to be in his own head the rest of the night.

And then the second year, when you learn so much about a
player was cut short 20 games in by injury.

This season has, almost out of necessity, become a bit of a revelation.
Brewer's stats only back it up to a small degree. You have to watch the Timberwolves play and see how Brewer handles himself this year to get a real sense of what has changed. And very few people willingly sit through Timberwolves games.

So for those folks, the stats bear some looking at--I'm not here to argue that Brewer is an All-Star--his shooting percentage is still pretty low, he's not great at the free throw line, and still has a tendency to turn the ball over trying to make the spectacular assist. But, but, but...

In Corey's rookie year, he was getting almost 23 minutes a game, and averaging just under 6 points a game with a shooting percentage under 38%. That's not great production no matter what excuses one can make (like being a rookie on a shitty team, etc.). And by "not great" I mean "bad". It was a bad rookie year for a guy that had come off a dominant run in his college career.

Looking at Corey, December 2009, you can see improvement across the board. He's playing only a few minutes more per game, but scoring more than twice as much (12.5); his shooting percentage is a not great, but not woeful 46.5%.

Also, Brewer's defense has ticked up this year, and his defense was always good. December was the first month in which he averaged less than 2 steals per game this season, which has led to his higher percentage shooting--the number of times I've seen Corey rip a ball and drive it for a dunk numbers right about a dozen. And, because of the whole "Timberwolves are going to suck" meme, the number of games available for viewing this year are way, way down compared to last year.

In short, Brewer isn't an all-star, but has been one of the bright spots for this team. He is all of 23 years old; he's a defensive ninja; he's upped his efficiency. While he's still trying a little too hard to impress, when he does impress, he's been really, really impressive. And he is, in theory, a match-up nightmare waiting to happen. I fully expect Corey Brewer to be a great 6th man for this team or for someone else. You heard it here first--Corey Brewer is going to win some awards.

(photo copyright: Copyright 2010 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Least Surprising Childhood Photo Ever

ESPN, in hyping the game between Duke and Iowa State, for some reason, showed some childhood photos of Coach Krzyzewski. I thought they said he was going back to his childhood stomping grounds, but it appears that Coach K grew mainly in Western Pennsylvania. It hardly matters, because they provided the previously mentioned childhood photos of Coach K. And let me tell you, if I had sat down and imagined what that little axe-weasel face would have looked like as a child, and what kind of photos he would have taken, I could not have imagined it any better. That kid was a total dillweed. Thank you, ESPN!

What Do We Think of Shanahan?

The Drunken Savages got a new coach, and there is obviously all sorts of buzz regarding the hire (in part, as this NY Times analysis points out--there just isn't going to be a whole of new hires this offseason).

I'm of two minds about it--yes, Shanahan won two Super Bowls. I don't care much about the statistical garbage of "Coaches Who Won Two Super Bowls For One Team Don't Fare Well". It is a nonsense argument based on the careers of six guys, including Lombardi who died one year into his tenure at Washington. Why would winning one Super Bowl vs two matter? It wouldn't. It's just a neat little bullshit statistic that gives the guys on something to write about.

What does concern me is the dip that Shanahan takes when you remove Elway from the equation. There's a lot more data there. Look, I think every coach's record is going to take a hit when you remove one of the Top 3 QB's of all time. Hell, Jimmy Johnson's overall winning percentage was better in Miami with an aging Dan Marino than it was in Dallas.

All the same--Shanahan was going to the playoffs regular-like, and for Drunken Savages fans, that would be a huge step up. He's got a lot of work to do, though. And there's a fair question about whether it is work that can be accomplished. Count Michael Wilbon as a doubter. Wilbon is kind of old school in a lot of his thinking, and can come across as downright goofy on TV, but when it comes to Washington sports, few guys have watched it as carefully over the past couple of decades as Wilbon, and he lays out a great case for no one getting overly excited here.

Les Carpenter, also writing for the Post, details the degree to which Shanahan was a control freak in Denver, and probably will be in Washington. Maybe they need that sort of aggressively controlling type guy to battle the owner, and protect what one hopes is a real plan for developing talent and winning games. Given the general atmosphere in the organization right now, though--coaches on hot seats, players blasting each other in the press, etc, one wonders whether this sort of thing is going to go over well:

"As Broncos coach, the powers given him by team owner Pat Bowlen were so wide-ranging and controlled so much that he installed video cameras in every Broncos meeting room so he could watch position meetings on a multi-window screen in his office just to make sure each coach taught the proper principles."

The team has a huge list of needs and it isn't going to be a 1 year turnaround for any coach to take on. Perhaps the biggest gift Shanahan can give is the cachet of his offensive genius, that will buy this team some time to properly develop. Of course, Marty Schottenheimer might have thought the same thing when he was hired. Time will tell, of course. I find myself more in Wilbon's camp than I'd like. I'm not excited by the hire, because I've seen this cycle too many times in the past decade. I'll be excited when a Drunken Savages coach gets to extend a contract, not get bought out of one. That will be an exciting day, if it ever happens.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Smell Ya Later, Jim Zorn

I will not miss Jim Zorn. Let's be clear about that from the outset. But I will acknowledge all the problems that were not his fault--a bad, aging, oft-injured offensive line. A general management team too concerned with making big splashes than securing the quiet steady locker room that makes winners. A series of injuries to running backs that lead to a time share between the 4th and 5th guys on the depth chart.

That said, calling the same gimmick place twice in a row was a breaking point for anyone--even for anyone who didn't realize that playing Zorn apologist was a quixotic quest at best. This guy has essentially been fired since mid-October when Sherm Lewis showed up to call plays. (which is also the first time Shanahan said No to this job).

Zorn doesn't deserve all the fault, and he's not receiving it. But he's the guy who can get fired, and along with the long awaited adieu from Vinny Cerrato earlier in the season, we've got a chance at as clean of a slate we can hope for until Dan Snyder sells this team (which will never, ever happen).

That said, here's one opinion that's crazy and wrong-headed and sophistic--it comes, as you might expect from that description--The Washington Post op-ed staff. Jo-Ann Armao, who I have never read before, dropped a quick dumb-bomb in the PostPartisan online blog-type-thing. Armao bemoans the fact that Jim Zorn is going to get some money paid to him because the Skins are having to break a contract to fire him, and asks the question, "Does he [Zorn] really think he has earned that $2.4 million?"

We've seen this kind of stupid from non-sports folks, who treat sports like it isn't a job. No one, NO ONE turns down a severance package because they feel like they don't deserve their contractually stipulated money. Would you? Would Jo-Ann? Probably not.

This was a job like any other job, and Jim Zorn doesn't know when he'll make as much money again, if ever. Over his two-year stint at the head coach, I think it's fair to estimate the revenues of The Washington Franchise to be at least, at least, $500 million dollars. So his severance package amounts to .5% of the revenue generated by the company while he was coaching. That seems fair to me, regardless of record. It's called a contract, and they are usually pretty unfairly stacked against labor, so kudos to Zorn for getting something out of it at all. It's a ridiculous suggestion to say Zorn should feel bad for having not earned it. But Armao isn't done.

Here's her kicker: "It's similarly outrageous that Wall Street bankers and Fannie and Freddie executives are awarded big bonuses for their bad bets. Perhaps one of the reasons for this country’s troubles is that there’s no incentive to produce results."

Do you see what she did there? She compared an amount paid to a worker after a contract is broken by management to bonuses given by management to management. There are bonuses and there are contractually obligated severance packages. Comparing the two, and pretending that they are one in the same, or even similar is entirely too much bullshit, even for a throw-away blog item on the Washington Post.

And what's this bit about "No incentive"? The day Zorn is fired, is she suggesting that there is no incentive to produce results for an NFL Coach? Lady, are you high? Jim Zorn, as Michael Wilbon wrote, just spent the last 6 months getting paid to act like he wasn't getting fired in slow-motion. It was hard to watch--I can't imagine what it was like to be the lead actor on that soap opera. Jim Zorn wins 6 more games, and he's maybe given a new contract, a raise, new endorsements, and treated like royalty in DC. No incentive? That is the fucking definition of incentive. Jim Zorn had all the incentive in the world to succeed. He was just woefully under-qualified for the job that was given to him.

2009 NFL Playoff Pick'em: Wildcard Round

Huzzah and cheers!

This is week one of the 2009 NFL Playoff Pick'em here at IDYFT. First (and only) prize will be one To The Last Drop t-shirt. This prize is so awesome that I keep giving it away!All readers of IDYFT are welcome to join the competition. Everybody starts out with zero points; whoever has the most points at the end will win this competition. Enter your weekly picks in the comments section. And good luck to you!

Wildcard Round
1. NY Jets at Cincy Bengals? +/-2
2. Philly Eagles at Dallas Cowboys? +/-2
3. Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots? +/-2
4. GB Packers at AZ Cardinals? +/-2
5. Your Shoe-in? +1/-2

Bonus Questions
6. Biggest Point Differential? +1
7. Closest Game? +1
8. Your Superbowl matchup? +3/+3
9. Your Superbowl winner? +7
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