Friday, April 29, 2005

Defending my newfound Ann-Margret fetish

God dammit, Nips. NOT Ann-Margret NOW, Ann-Margret circa 1964. (And yeah, I don't understand the hyphen either. But that's her name. Whatever.) So, I feel obligated to defend myself. Observe:

Now, let's see if that worked...

Because it's too important not to mention...

CFN's Preview 2005 is certainly exhaustive, although it's also long-winded, fairly boring, and generally not worth paying attention to. Until they do their preview on the Buckeyes, that is. Or, better yet, a preview plus special looks at the offense and the defense. You also get further analysis from John Harris. And, for the sake of completeness, the depth chart, to boot.

How long until football season, again? Shit.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Last post for a while

Yeah, so it's exam time. Since Todd bitched at me for not posting more often in the past week, I figured I would sate (and, probably, horrify) the appetites of both of our loyal readers by informing them that I won't be posting again - barring extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances - for about two weeks, and that they're stuck with Diddy Mao (whose idea of hotness is apparently a hearing aid-wearing asian man in a boa?) during that time frame. Let him take you on a wild ride, as he refuses to talk about the NBA playoffs, plays GTA: San Andreas and Mario Tennis for days on end, and masturbates as he 1.) looks at pictures of asian men, and 2.) thinks about Kerry Wood. DIDDY-UP, PAHTNAH!!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Current events and asians

I hate is as much as you do, but I need to mention the NBA playoffs right quick. More specifically, that one team that didn't make them, the cavs. I've heard some NBA analcysts saying that this is the biggest choke job in their history or at least the most disappointing moment in franchise history. Maybe not. Anyone remember Jordan over Ehlo with a fist pump? Yes you remember b\c the video clip will NEVER go away. Yes, it was a major choke job, but let's be fair, it's the cavs. They went 42-40. How many times have they been over .500 recently? Not many. They have a bunch of good young players with Pavolic and Varajao leading the way. If they get rid of one of their point guards, get a shooter and a legit starting PG, this team will win over 50 games next year. Lebron needs help, and he needs to let them help. I think that the NBA-types are mostly pissed b\c Lebron and Kobe aren't in the playoffs. Let's remember, it's more about marketing than anything in the NBA, and that's why I hate myself for discussing it this much. Moving on...

Saturday is the greatest eight hours of continuous coverage of the year, the NFL draft. I'll be watching it. Hopefully in it's entirety. Here's what I'll be looking for and some odds.

Over/Under on length of first round: 5 hours 15 minutes
Yes, it's long. In fact, they've had longer. It may go that long with several teams looking to trade down. I think I might take the under, but not by much.

Merrill Hoge saying "national football league" during any statement: 5-2
While watching espn's no stop pre-draft coverage, he said it 8 times in less than one minute. I'm not exaggerating. That happened.

Mark Schlereth saying "football player" while discussing someone: 2-1
He says it a lot. WHO-HA?

Hank Goldberg discussing the Dolphins and being in Miami: 1-5
That's right, you lose money by if you win.

Mel Kiper Jr. mentions a measurable number while discussing any player: 4-3
He loves his numbers.

Mel Kiper Jr. beating off while discussing Mike Williams: 10-1
You never know

Mel Kiper Jr. ripping his hair out if Mike Williams isn't drafted in the top 15: 100-1
That hair can't move, C'MON!!!!

A fight breaking out between Kiper and Hoge: 7-1
And Kiper wins: 800-1
Mel may have the heart, but his combine showed weakness in the shuttle drill

Over/under where Derrick Johnson is picked: Pick 9

The Nuge going in round 2: 7-2
I think he will, no matter what Evan says

Odds that the browns will fuck up the draft: 1-1
I need some new teams.

In other news, while I was going my usual new gathering, I came across an interesting article. It turns out that Chinese men's dongs aren't much smaller than anyone else. I'm not buying it and think that Yao was included, but I figure that's good news for Jeff. It also turns out that Asian men like to have sex with other men. This study told me so. I mean, it must be rampant if they needed to do a study on it. I also love that it's called the Young Asian Men's Study, that's right...a study on YAMS.

At least Jeff has some friends.

Also, the study is being performed by the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) which gives a whole new meaning to putting a Caps in my ass. I suppose that some Asians are straight. I know, it's tragic. And if you happen to be such a person (which is also a liar), then I suggest checking out here (I can't wait until it's finished) and here (I highly suggest tidbits 3 and 5). And just because I can, and because I love Jeff, here's an Asian hunk to close it out. I love that neckware!!! Teehee!!! I <3 boys!!!

"Call me at (877) GOT-YAMS. I get rucky wit you eigh time in row!!! Dat's eight RUCKY!!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope on a rope

No, this post will not discuss possible pope suicide by way of hanging. Although, I kinda wish it did. However, a new pope was elected today. Some 78-year-old German. He won't even have to commit suicide. The ravages of age will do the trick soon enough. His new elderly holiness was chosen over several worthy candidates. There was another cardinal challenger who was nominated late and made a strong push at the end.

Above: Before being nominated

Below: After hearing the nomination.

Tragically he just couldn't get enough votes to overtake the kraut. Even though the tree is known as a great leader and for a pine-fresh sent, he just couldn't overcome for his liberal cardinal views and being "prickly that hurts." Oh, for fun

It feels like a two-part post.

I'm overdue for another pointless list of which I decide. Today's list? Worst baseball free agent pickups of the last 5 years. It maybe should be the most unfortunate, but I've already titled it. Anyway, let's see how it goes.

5) Chan Ho Fart - Rangers 2002
So back in ought-2 the rangers decided they needed to improve their pitching. The answer? Overspend on a quality starter. What they did? Overspend on Chan Ho Park. In the 2 years with the dodgers before the texas pay day, Fart averaged 17 wins and an era of about 3.60. In his 3 years since with texas, he's averaged 4 and a half wins and eras of 5.75, 7.58, and 5.46. However, he is still with the team, but that's probably b\c no one wants that salary. Well done texas, you get spot number 5.

4) Robbie Alomar - Mets 2002
Mr. Spitter averaged .323/20/100 and 34SB in the four years with the Indians before the deal to switch to the NL. His 2 seasons with the Mets? .264/7/35 and 6 SB per season. That's quite a change. Also, he gets major bonus points for single-handedly ruining my fantasy team in '02. That fuck.

3) Juan Gone - Tigers 2000
Let's face it, he never wanted to go there, cried about the deep fences, and was a pentulent child. He spent one season in Detroit before skipping town. In 2000 he went .289/22/67, which isn't terrible. However, in the years that surround 2000 he went .326/39/128 and .325/35/140. Just think Tiger fans, if he'd even approached that they might have made the playoffs. And don't you think management would have checked to make sure he wanted to be a Tiger? I guess not.

2) Mike Hampton - Rockies 2001
At one point, someone actually thought you could pitch in Coors with the right guy. The rockies spent about $90 mill on a great sinker baller with the thought he'd keep in down and show pitching could be done well in Denver...whoops. In the previous SEVEN season before joining colorado he never had an era higher than 3.80. That's good. Two season in coors? 5.41 and 6.15. Wow, that's quite a change. We all learned that no pitch can break at all in the thin air and the rockies screwed themselves with a huge contract. But that wasn't enough to bring home number one...

1) Derek Bell - Pirates 2001
Pittsburgh in a small market team, so a 2-year/9.6 million contract means something. That's what they paid for Derek Bell. He's the worst pick-up because he was already sucking when they got him. He had hit .330 about 4 years before that and had done nothing since. Plus, it's freaking derek bell, everyone knew he sucked. but the pirates were desperate, and they got what they paid for...46 total games .173/5/13 in a half season. He then got hurt and demoted to AAA where he rode out the rest of his contract and the buckos had to pay it. I hope that GM lost his job, b\c he should have been shot.

Didn't make the cut
Griffey Jr. (Reds) - He's at least be helpful when healthy which hasn't been often. But his first year in cincy was solid
Moises Alou (Cubs) - He did NOTHING until his contract year. I hate him.
The Dodgers - They really wanted to be the yankees of the NL and overspend to get great players. They accomplished the overspend, but forgot great players. Karros, Mondesi, Dreifort?? Those guys did nothing and made a butt load of money. Basically like the current Knicks. But the nba would be another list for another day.

Friday, April 15, 2005

And I’ve got such a long way to go / To make it to the border of Ron Mexico

Ugh, a Christopher Cross-referencing, Phil-pandering post title, wasted because he refuses to visit the site. Sad. Anywhoodle, since Dids is apparently in a cave(man) or something, and is refusing to do updates of any kind, I figured I’d make sure that both loyal readers of the MWB are up to speed on the Ron Mexico situation. If you’re interested in reading more on the herpes-laden Georgia man who is definitely not Michael Vick, stop by here and here. Jerseys! Merchandising opportunities! Funny take on it from old reliable, SportsPickle. More funny, plus Ron Jeremy. And, because you can never get enough Ron Jeremy...

Updates soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Car accident!

So I got drilled this morning on my way to class.

I was pulling out of the alley behind the flat, onto First Street, a one-way road. The road being that way, I was patiently looking to my right, waiting for an opportunity to pull out into traffic.

And then ... CRASH!

My car got smoked from the left side. Hard.

By a guy on a bike.

Upon hearing (and, sort of, feeling) the collision, I turned to my left just in time to see the 50-year old man's face slapping against my driver's window, some 6-8 inches from my own head. He crumpled to the ground like ... well, like a guy who road a bike full-speed into a stationary object weighing several tons.

I put the car in park and helped the guy pick up his sunglasses, lighter, and keyless keychain (Actaul conversation: Me - "Um, were there any keys on this keychain?" Him - "Uhhh ... no."). Then he made a big show of checking his brakes and tire chain, as if they were the reason he sped head-on into a non-moving car (note: it being approximately 7:10 in the morning, and with me being half-asleep and somewhat terrified that I had somehow hit this guy, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or scream or rip the guy's fucking head off).

I mean, there's a building there on the left of where I was at the end of the alley, so at first I was moderately worried that I had sped out in front of the guy or something. But after he rode away, upon further inspection which revealed that the ENORMOUS DENT he left in my car was entirely contained on my front driver-side door, and considering that I remember at least a second or two of looking to my right and waiting for an opportunity to pull into traffic, I have completely eliminated the "I just pulled in front of him" explanation. This dumb bastard was looking at God knows what, and he friggin' T-boned my shitty Cavalier. With his bike.

So I'm left with a dent the size of Asia on my door. Luckily, it's just the shitty Cav, whose entire purpose is to get me to Toledo and back for the next year or so, until I can get a job and get a decent car. So I don't really give a shit. It's not like that thing looked like a pimpmobile anyway. But Jesus, man, what the hell could that guy have been looking at? And why couldn't he have been Asian?!? That would have been the funniest thing that ever happened to me! Instead I'm just annoyed. Oh bother.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A look at how good things could be...

While in contemplation of Fu's update of the Mike Jackson trial, I attended a JV softball double-header. I'm serious. After I realized what incredible false advertisement that name is, I then realized one glaring point: 15 year old girls are really fucking annoying. But then the true insight hit me: Despite how irritating they were, girls essentially peak at 15. Think about it!! They don't have anything to say, they're irritating, and they DO wear a shirt, which makes them no different than older girls. However, as girls get older, they expect you to listen to them, 15 year olds don't. All the good stuff (I'm talking boobs people) has developed without the bad stuff (I'm talking freshman 15 people) getting there yet. And great for society, they can't drive. Well, girls can never drive, but they aren't allowed at 15. Nonetheless, they're still annoying, even at their peak of 15. So where's that leaves us? I think you know...little boys.

Therefore, Michael has it all figured out. Women nag and bitch, little boys sit quiet and play with trucks. Which would you rather deal with? Who hasn't complained about women in their life? I've never heard anyone say a bad word about little boys. Wives and girlfriends can get pregnant, little boys only gestate love and power rangers. Plus, little boys have penises, that really puts the score one-sided.

Above: MJ demonstrating the Nambla approved shocker while singing "Touch the Sky (Those aren't the words Er)"

I know he's a weirdo, but he's really probably the good guy in this crazy mixed up world. He never got a childhood, so he's giving the one he wanted to have to so many deserving little boys. He's giving them what every little boy wants: an enormous playground ranch and unlimited showers with a middle-aged playmate. In fact, you might say Mr. Jackson is the victim. Maybe those 9-year-old boys will do anything for an MJ BJ. Maybe the little ones can't get enough of the NAMBLA approved beverage of Diet Coke and Merlot. Could it be that Michael is the one being used? If you're a loyal reader of this site, then the answer is clearly NO. HE'S GETTING TO MAKE OUT WITH LITTLE BOYS!!! Nothing can change that, so he's still the big winner. Also, never forget the neon-green underwear. So perfectly tiny!!!

Will we look back someday and see Michael as a trendsetter? Someone who got humanity back to its Greek roots of pre-teen male concubines? Will I ever include a more disturbing hyperlink? I think we can all hope the answer is yes. If only for the children.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Basketball and Dubious Officiating

As a follow-up to a previous post, I figured I'd post this little passage I stumbled across while reading Chuck Klosterman's magnificent "Low-Culture Manifesto" Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. Although I don't agree with every single thing in it, I found the piece amusing because, well ... because it is, and in a more relevant sense, because I know Dids and I remember this ridiculously-officiated game like it was yesterday. Hope you enjoy.

"On the last day of May in 2002, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings in the sixth game of the Western Conference Finals in one of the worst officiated games in recent memory (the Lakers shot a whopping twenty-seven free throws in the fourth quarter alone, and Kings guard Mike Bibby was whistled for a critical phantom foul after Kobe Bryant elbowed him in the head).

Obviously, this is not the first time hoops zebras have cost someone a game. However, people will always remember this particular travesty, mostly because the game was publicly protested by former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

'Unless the NBA orders a review of this game's officiating, perceptions and suspicions, however presently absent any evidence, will abound,' wrote the semi-respected consumer advocate in a letter to NBA commissioner David Stern. 'A review that satisfies the fans' sense of fairness and deters future recurrences would be a salutory contribution to the public trust that the NBA badly needs.'

As usual, Nader's argument is only half right. Were the Kings jammed by the referees? Yes. Was Game Six an egregious example of state-sponsored cheating? Probably. But this is what sets the NBA apart from every other team sport in North America: Everyone who loves pro basketball assumes it's a little fixed. We all think the annual draft lottery is probably rigged, we all accept that the league aggressively wants big market teams to advance deep into the playoffs, and we all concede that certain marquee players are going to get preferential treatment for no valid reason. The outcomes of games aren't predetermined or scripted, but there are definitely dark forces who play with our reality. There are faceless puppet masters who pull strings and manipulate the purity of justice. It's not necessarily a full-on conspiracy, but it's certainly not fair. And that's why the NBA remains the only game that matters: Pro basketball is exactly like life."

The creeping terror continues!

Well, although the idea of delving into the NHL’s efforts to gradually transform into the XHL is quite tempting, I figured it was about time for another Michael Jackson update. Again, sadly, there is no George Lopez coverage. And no, it’s not quite as hot-and-heavy as past testimony (no recountings of Jacko telling children that men who don’t masturbate regularly are liable to have sex with dogs), but, you know, the news goes on, "Jesus Juice" or not.

So Jacko’s former maid took the stand earlier this week, alleging that Jacko used to sleep in the same bed with a then-9-year-old Macaulay Culkin. No, this is not news (although the revelation that Bubbles the Chimp was often in the bed with them is none too disturbing). She also alleged that she found Jacko showering with a young Wade Robson, who grew up to be relatively famous for serving as choreographer to Nsync, and only slightly less famous for allegedly being the impetus for the Spears/Timberlake supercouple’s breakup. She stated that on the floor next to the shower were two pairs of underwear: Jacko’s tighty whities and Robson’s teeny neon greenies. The hits just keep on coming.

Now, it bears mentioning that this former maid is also mother to one of Jacko’s past alleged victims, a now-24-year-old who received a hefty settlement back in the 90s. He also testified this week, claiming that "Jackson tickled his testicles when he was a boy, and stuffed $100 bills into his shorts after two similar tickle-turned-grope sessions in the late 1980s." "Tickle-turned-grope sessions"? That one phrase inadvertently described my last four trips to Columbus. The witness possibly solidified his credibility by describing his mother as a "kickin’" housekeeper, but I’m not sure what the hell that means. I can only picture dancing maids and butlers. "Annie"-esque, I guess you could say. Seems like the kind of thing you’d expect to find in the mansion of a man who is 1.) a pop music icon, and 2.) completely fucking crazy.

Those festivities were followed by a former Neverland security guard’s recollections about serving under the Jacko regime. The guard, a Mr. Ralph "Don’t call me Shawn" Chacon, testified that he heard Jacko in the shower with a PYPT (Pretty Young Pre-Teen), and that he later saw His Fucked-Up-ness "caressing the boy's hair, kissing him on face and sucking his nipples." If I wasn’t scared before, I certainly was after reading that sentence. And things only got worse.

"He put the little boy's penis in his mouth."

Good God.

Now, aside from making a picture-perfect NCAA 2005 "create-a-sign" for the Man-Boy Love, this piece of information did two things: it made me run to the bathroom and vomit, and it pretty much blew the case (ugh, I’m sorry) wide open. The guard was then asked by the prosecution whether he actually saw the oral sex happening. "‘Yes,’ Chacon replied, adding that Jackson's kisses were ‘very passionate’ and that the singer's hands were ‘all over’ the boy's body." I suppose there are some things you can never un-read.

Both witnesses are being attacked by Jacko’s defense attorneys, who claim that the two are liars and disgruntled former employees, looking to get even with a good-natured - though extremely fucking strange - man-child. To be perfectly honest, either seems plausible. But, I mean, with shit like this going on in the late-80s and early-90s ... what the hell kind of parent would let their (cancer-surviving) kid hang out at the Neverland Ranch in 2003, which is when the charges that are at the center of this case occurred? You might as well leave your kid in the middle of a NAMBLA convention with a sign around his neck that says "molest this boy." One thing is still certain, however: this trial could obviously use more references to George Lopez.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


So either I was the last to know, or this was a well kept secret: Seal is going to marry Heidi Klum. WHAT??? Even more bizarre is that she's five months pregnant with his child. And even more bizarre was this sentence from the article, "Seal begin the German leg of his tour this week." It just sounds creepy, like he's about to hump it.

Above: possibly two people

I mean I'm sure he's off balancing balls on his nose, but who gave him the "seal" of approval to marry Klum? How does Spooky McScarface get a supermodel? Oh wait, I know. Have you ever seen her first husband?

Above: Why is this picture signed?

He's not a bad looking...ok, there's no way I can condone that at all. I'm looking into the future, and all I see Phil in 40 years. I would have thought she'd learned she could do better. I guess Seal could be nice guy. But after hearing that "kiss from a rose" song 3 million times in the mid-90s, does it even matter? Hint: The answer is no.

We don't need your DH

Well, since I did an AL preview, I need to do one for my beloved NL too. Before I do, I'd like to state I'm already furious at fantasy baseball. With a 9-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano needs one more out to qualify for the win. He's struggled a bit with his control and the umpire hasn't been to generous with him either. For those who don't follow the Cubs that much, let me say that Zambrano can be a times. Nonetheless, he needs one out. He proceeds to walk the bases loaded and then walk in a run. Dusty decides to give him the hook with a six run lead. FUCKING DUSTY BAKER!!! JUST LET HIM GET THE WIN. Instead, he doesn't, leaves with a whip of almost 2 and then gets tossed by the ump for arguing. I liked the final touch, it just made it worthwhile somehow. However, Fu should be more fu-rious. He left Hurly-Buerhle on his bench while he 2-hits the Indians. Nice work. Anyway, prediction time...

NL East

1st: Braves (95-67)
Look, they do it every year. This team is 3x better than last year. Hudson will rock. The lineup is solid. I might expect a mid-season trade for this team. Some bullpen help and maybe a Todd Helton? We'll see.

2nd: Florida Marlins (88-74)
The best team no one is talking about. The bullpen could be shaky, but if the starters stay healthy, they could challenge the braves. Speed, power, and defense in the lineup. A very solid team.

3rd: Phillies (81-81)
They underachieved last year with some injuries and some sucking. This team is solid but not great everywhere. Probably the best bullpen in the division. If the starting pitching steps up, and Pat Burrell return to previous form, this team is dangerous.

4th: Mets (77-85)
They made all these great off-season moves, and this team still does nothing more me. Pedro is on his way down. Benson is WAY overpaid. Beltran will be good, but suffer a bit in Shea. There's a lot of question marks for me on this team.

5th: Nats (70-92)
They won't be a great team, but should be competitive. The lineup is pretty weak, and the starting pitching is mediocre at best. The pen isn't bad, but there's a not a lot great about this team

NL Central

1st: Cardinals (98-64)
A totally unstoppable offensive force. With the addition of Mulder, a now very solid pitching staff. They lost some bullpen depth, but that's easily replaced at mid-season. Losing Renteria may hurt more than they realize.

2nd: Cubs? (88-74)
This team goes as the injuries go. If Prior and Wood are healthy (that's a big if), and Borowski can return and be effective, this is a playoff team. Addition by subtraction with Sosa moving on. Hairston gives them MI depth with speed this team has never seen. Burnitz could be solid. However, starting Hollandsworth is not a good thing.

3rd: Astros (83-79)
The starting pitching is very good. The bullpen isn't. The offense is fading fast. I hate the astros and can't wait until Biggio and Bagwell are gone. I hate the astros.

4th: Reds (75-87)
Where's the staring pitching? It's not on this team. The offense will be fun, but stopping scoring will be tricky

5th: Brewers (71-91)
Outside of Sheets, the pitching, well, sucks. There's a lot of young talent here with 3 legit rookie of the year contenders. "don't look now, but we're a contender!!" For rookies anyway.

6th: Pirates (64-98)
Guh...they aren't very good. The lineup is weak.

NL West
Basically this whole division sucks and I don't wanna break it down. Let's day the Padres win and the Rockies will have the worst record in baseball. Also, I think Todd Helton will be traded.

MVP: Andruw Jones
Everyone is saying Pujols. I think a Brave deserves some pub here.
Also consider: Rolen, Errormiss

Cy Young: Ben Sheets
I don't know if a guy from a bad team will win it, but his numbers will probably be unreal.
Also consider: Hudson, Mulder, Zambrano, Oswalt

Playoffs: Marlins over Cubs in one game for Wild Card spot. Moises shows up to piss all over me just to rub it in, or out, whatever.

Cardinals vs. Marlins
Braves vs. Padres

Braves over Marlins to the WS

From my previous post, I picked the Sox from the AL. So let's say that the AL wins the all-star game, and Helton is a brave, carry the one...Braves over Red Sox in 6

Follow up to Fu

I'd be remiss if I didn't throw in a few thoughts of my own about the ncaa title game.

Sean May was, without a doubt, the best player on the floor. He also was the most protected. I don't think it was anywhere as close as TJ Ford territory, but it was obvious.

Luther Head was the most frustrating player on the court. He NEVER looked to drive or be inside the three point line at any time. At the end of the game, he looked scared about taking the "winning" shot. As a result, he missed at least 3.

Dee Brown should have been more involved.

No matter which team won or lost, the loser lost because of coaching and the winner won in spite of themselves.
a) Sean May gave UNC a 15 point lead, so let's not get him the ball again for an 8 minute stretch in the second half
b) Felton picks up 2 fouls, let's not drive and try to pick up a third on him in the first half.
c) Felton picks up 2 fouls, he plays most of the first half anyway
d) due to the fouls, unc goes to a zone and illinois NEVER NEVER NEVER goes to the high post and is eaten alive by it
e) unc comes out of the zone, despite how effective it was
f) even though unc loves to reach and hack, no inside drives by the illini (however, they weren't called that much anyway)

All I kept thinking about Roy Williams winning was Tom Osborne in 1994. He really deserves a title, let's get him one.

It's so frustrating that a "team" won the NCAA tourney who's defensive philosophy is, "I hope the other team misses."

It cannot be stated enough: McCants is the laziest college player I've EVER seen.

Packer's love of the ACC and hatred of moving screens was interesting. It was also interesting that everyone just basically ignores him. I don't think Nantz and Fudge were in the same room together.

Overall, I've been happy with CBS's coverage of the NCAA tourney as long as I can remember. However, I think it's time for some new blood. They did away with most usage of THE college basketball jingle and of course the commentators are too much. I mean, I love Gus Johnson, but the guys who are getting the "premier" games just aren't that good. Nantz isn't even watching the game and is very proud of himself for "cute" phrases. Fudge has his own agenda. Raftey is a walking cliche. Ridiculous. I'd like to think it'll get better, but it won't. Arg.

I need to write on baseball.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

And so it ends

Well, another college basketball season is in the books. So here are my thoughts on the national title game:

* Sean May is an absolute beast of a player. A man. No question. But since he's that good, does he really need overt assistance from the officials? He was clearly a protected player last night, in the sense that the refs were very obviously going to make sure that the only question about how much he would play was going to be how long he could jog without falling over. We're talking "T.J. Ford in 2003"-level protection here. If James Augustine sneezed in May's general direction, he was picking up a foul. And May was apparently going to be able to bowl over Roger Powell and Jack Ingram on his way to the basket, with nary a risk of drawing a charge, and, in actuality, a fair likelihood of getting a foul called on Powell (or Ingram).

The thing is, that sort of thing happens all the time, and seems to be implicitly condoned. And that speaks to a larger issue: I've never understood the concept of "superstar calls," a phenomenon that first reared its ugly head in the Michael Jordan days (and Jordan was the most protected player in the history of sports, be it NBA, MLS, or friggin' Jai Alai). I mean, I can't think of another sport that does this, and has it be so universally accepted. "This guy's really effing good ... I think we should let him get away with more, and give him a BIGGER advantage!" The only comparable thing I can think of in other sports is baseball pitchers getting wide strike zones (with Greg Maddux in his prime being the most notable example). This whole concept leaves me befuddled. Let's move on.

* There is no excuse for Illinois shooting that many threes. 40 three-point attempts? Jesus Christ. I understand that a big part of this was the perpetual absence of Augustine (0 points in 9 minutes, due to foul trouble), who, while not a bear in the post by any means, is capable of much more on the inside than the strictly-jumpshooting tandem of Ingram and Nick Smith. And I know that part of it was Carolina's (predictably) lax perimeter defense. But still. How about a drive to the basket? A backdoor play? Just a token feed to the post, to see if the defense will collapse? Whipping the ball around the perimeter is pretty, and it's by-and-large a good idea. But the goal is to get good shots, shots you can make. And Illinois was clearly off their 3-point shooting game last night. For the most part, the Illini were settling for "okay" 3-point looks, instead of making Carolina's defense really work.

* Speaking of that, I mean, I expected it, but man, was the Heels' defense lazy, especially in the second half. May doesn't want to move around, because he's fat. Felton just wants to reach. Rashad McCants doesn't want to do anything. The Completely Hilarious Jackie Manuel is an unabashed Foul Machine. I don't think I've ever seen an "elite" team defend screens that poorly. "Oh damn, there's a guy standing between me and my man ... well, I guess I'm just out of this play."

* On the plus side, this trend directly contributed to the funniest moment of the night, when Illinois had the ball with the game tied, and was working it around the perimeter. This led to Billy Packer quite literally shrieking "Those are MOVING SCREENS!" at nobody in particular. But no, I'm sure Billy pACCer wasn't rooting for one team over the other. He's much too professional for that, this ACC grad and former ACC coach.

* And finally, the larger picture: the clear message last night, from the final result down to the commentating, both during and after the game, was that talent is everything and discipline is an overrated harness that holds back supremely talented individuals. Roy Williams is going to be a Hall of Famer, and he has an assload of wins. But it's clear that he does his best coaching in the living rooms of high school athletes (I'll leave that one for Todd. Merry Christmas). He recruits like a banshee, but once the kids get there, he just rolls the balls out onto the court and lets them go nuts. And I guess that's fine. The thing I don't like, however, is that the entire night ended up serving as one big endorsement for this style of play. Some kid watching the game at his home in Cockfuck, North Dakota had to come away thinking "Defense is overrated" and "The only passes worth throwing are alley-oops" and "In a tie game with 3 minutes left, the ideal possession is have your PG dribble around for 20 seconds, then shoot a pull-up 25-footer ... while double-teamed." And that's just sad. It's sad that a new generation of basketball players is getting that message, and it's even sadder that the talking heads of the game are so clearly and excitedly sending it. You know what the final four could have used? A Pittsnogle. And a Beilein. And a Gansey.

So I guess it's time to sit back and wait for football season ... when we'll have to listen to bullshit about how the Buckeyes play defense too conservatively, and don't throw the ball downfield enough, and blah blah blah blah blah...

Monday, April 04, 2005

Who saw this one coming?

Well, the North Carolina-Illinois matchup that, as Dids correctly pointed out, was ridiculously coveted by every casual college basketball fan in the country, has finally come to pass. Through listening to the radio and looking online, I see that the experts pretty clearly view this game as a toss-up. In every "expert opinion" I saw or heard about this game, the "expert" in question - without fail - said something to the effect of, "Well, I went with ________ before the tournament started, so I gotta keep backing them now." This information points to 2 conclusions: 1.) apparently, everyone in the world but me (I went with Oak State ... shut up) picked Illinois or North Carolina to win the title, 2.) neither team has done anything that made even one analyst change his or her position on the title game. All right, sounds good.

So I guess, in keeping with the last two weeks of tradition, we should put some picks up on here.

Okay, here's what you're gonna see tonight:

Roger Powell is gonna guard Sean May, putting James Augustine on Jawad Williams. At first, I was enormously apprehensive about Bruce Weber doing this, mostly due to the fact that this strategy absolutely murdered Illinois against the Buckeyes, as Terrence Dials ate Powell alive and Augustine was stuck guarding Matt Sylvester, and we all know how that matchup worked out. However, I just have a feeling about this one. I think they're gonna double May whenever he gets the ball, and my assumption is that the Illini will prefer to be bringing the taller Augustine as the double-man, presumptively affecting May's vision for passing out of the double. We'll see how this works out.

The rest of the time Carolina has the ball, Dee Brown will guard Raymond Felton, Luther Head will guard Jackie Jackson ... I mean, Manuel, and, in what might end up being the key matchup, Deron Williams will check Rashad McCants. This is, of course, assuming that McCants decides to show up and play, something he clearly wasn't interested in doing after the first 5 minutes of the Michigan State game, as he shot 4 wide-open jumpers, then lollygagged around lazily, to the point where he actually refused to get into multiple loose-ball scrums that happened right at his feet in about a 4-minute span. Out of a team full of guys who are recognized for it to varying degrees, McCants is the one who is most obviously just biding his time until he gets drafted.

On the other side, McCants will most likely match up with Head, with Felton on Brown, Manuel on Williams, May on Augustine, and J.Williams on Powell. I see no glaring matchup problems for either team here. It's gonna come down to whether or not the Heels feel like playing defense all game. When other teams work the clock, the Heels will become much more likely to have lapses. So if Illinois can play solid Big Ten basketball, working for good shots and running when they get opportunities, I think they can win this game by 6 or 7. But since I'm an idiot and can generally not be trusted to make accurate predictions ... no, I'm still going with Illinois. But I'll say it'll be closer than that.

Illinois 80, North Carolina 77

Edited to add: It bears mentioning that North Carolina is a 2.5-point favorite in this game. Hence, this #1-ranked Illinois team, a squad that only lost one game all year (and on a last-minute 3-pointer no less) and has an opportunity to break the all-time record for wins in a season, will actually be pulling an upset if they win tonight. The Carolina love knows no bounds.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Knee-Jerk Thoughts on Last Night's Action

1.) It was readily apparent why the Sports Guy picked Louisville to upset the Illini: he's an unabashed NBA slapdick, and the Cardinals played as much like a stereotypical NBA squad as any college team I watched all year. Their offense last night consisted almost exclusively of clear-outs for 1-on-1s, peppered with a few set plays which basically amounted to double-screens for 3-pointers. That seems like precisely the kind of thing a fan of the NBA - where the drive-and-kick is the height of passing - would enjoy. Thank God they're out of the tournament.

2.) It was frustrating to watch as the Illini's lead hovered between 2 and 6 for most of the game, as Dids and I had agreed that as soon as Illinois could push the lead to 8 or 10, the Cardinals would start grabbing and holding on defense, heaving up off-balance 3-pointers on offense, and generally acting like a team full of stupid players. Which is exactly what happened.

3.) It was equally frustrating to watch the Illini absolutely refuse to get the ball to the high post in the first half. Swinging the ball quickly around the perimeter is nice and all, but it will essentially get you nothing except 19 three-point attempts in one half. It got to the point where it was so obvious that this needed to be done, that even Billy Packer was saying "they really need to start getting the ball into the middle of that zone." If the Fudge-meister is picking up on something you should be doing, then you can bet it is some kind of GLARING oversight.

4.) Many knowledgeable prognosticators who had even a passing familiarity with the Big Ten this year were saying that Roger Powell was gonna be the key to the game. That's why it was thoroughly unsurprising that Nantz and Packer seemed shocked that Powell was capable of anything other than an occasional put-back. "Where was he in the first half?!" Well Billy, he picked up a second foul less than four minutes into the game. That might have had something to do with his 2-point performance in the first half. You dumb shit.

5.) The difference in the late game was the 6-minute stretch at the beginning of the second half where each team was basically getting the same shots, but Carolina made all of theirs and Michigan State (quite literally) missed all of theirs. Fuck Seth Davis - the pace didn't get to Michigan State nearly as much as their poor shooting did. Turnarounds that Paul Davis was knocking down in the first half started clanging off the back of the iron, and 3-pointers that Shannon Brown was hitting in the first half started bouncing up over the backboard.

6.) You know what, Fudge, I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason Sean May is getting beaten down the floor, walking around when the rest of his team is running, and needing breathers every few minutes isn't so much because of "all the banging going on underneath." I think it has much more to do with the fact that the guy is fat. Yes, he's unstoppable when he gets the ball in the post. But he's fat. Just say it, it won't hurt you.

7.) If you happened to miss the game, I just described everything of importance about it for you.


On Monday night, if North Carolina decides to go on a 6- or 7-minute stretch where they make 85% of the shots they take, Illinois is in trouble. If the more athletic Illini bigs can wear down May, that'll help. If Weber continues his bizarre practice of using Powell on the opposing team's best inside scoring option (resulting in Powell guarding May and Augustine checking Jawad Williams), the Illini may be in some trouble. It should be fun to watch, not even considering the outside chance that Nantz and Packer will actually get down on their knees and fellate Roy Williams. At the very least, we won't have to keep listening to Nantz inexplicably (and distractingly) referring to Kelvin Torbert as "Torbit." So we've got that going for us. Which is nice.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Casual fans rejoice

So, the world gets what they want with a unc vs. Illinois final. Hurray? Just a few final thoughts on the final four games. Nantz and Packer said it was the pace of the game that killed MSU and then praised Fu's favorite, Seth Davis, for calling it. Unless the argument is that UNC always makes ridiculous shots while up-tempo, then I'm not buying it. They made the shots and the spartans didn't, so I give them credit there. Fucking Chris Hill torches OSU and can't make a goddamn shot against UNC. They were open shots too, that's the most frustrating part.

Other thoughts...
While watching the MSU/UNC game, I became understandably irritated and would periodically switch to the 2004 US Poker coverage on espn. I was watching John D'Agastino play with chip lead that was at one point 1.6 million to 400,000 for second place. He somehow got dwindled down so that he had exactly one more chip than Hoyt Corkins who goes all-in with 8 7 os. D'agie calls with wired 10s. After the turn, Hoyt has quad sevens and D'agie is hepta-furious. That's right, the unreal, 7-sided FURY!!!! Hoyt has the gall (not to be confused with France) to then ask him to push the chips over to him. JD used all 7 sides to basically throw all of his once chips to Hoyt. Norman Chad scolds him. The very next hand he's blinded in with 1 chip. He has pocket Kings and two other people have gone all-in with QQ and JJ. The flop comes rag Q J. Dagie is beat by both players with the worst luck I've ever seen.

If you ever want to be a Packer-esque broadcaster, remember these two gems from the UNC/MSU game.
1) "Great move by Roy Williams to bring in another ball handler. I think they'll really need a second guard out there down the stretch." - he wasn't being sarcastic
2) "The team that gives up the lead sometimes allows the comeback" - This statement was not taken out of context. He just said it and moved on.

Between game thoughts

1) Garcia, HELLO!!!, where did you go?? He vanished in the second half. Incredibly bizarre.
2) Illinois, please get the ball to the high post against the zone. They just refused to go there, and when they finally would cut, two of them would go totally defeating the purpose.
3) What a great start by Louisville wasted. Getting all those early fouls and not taking advantage was a bad move.
4) I knew once Illinois got up 10 Louisville would start taking quick threes. That's why I was so angry everytime they'd get up by 6 and then give up 5 straight.
5) Ok, did anyone else notice what happened at the end of the first half? Garcia traveled and the whistle blew. I didn't have tivo, but I think there should have been about 1 second and Illinois ball on their half of the floor. Packer actually called it and Nantz was too busy thinking of some cute segway to noticed what happened. It was a strange scene, and noboby seemed to care.
6) Maybe I've just become jaded toward cbs, but it seemed like Packer really wanted Pitino to win. Everything was about his "great" coaching moves like stomping the floor. Wayta go coach, use that foot!!! The announcers seemed more "into" the game as UL was doing well. Maybe it was just b\c they wanted a close game. I'm hoping that's it.
7) Roger Powell? What was going on? I think as the pope's soul left the planet he decided to take control of the reverend and let him drill 2 huge threes. However, he wasn't with him when he shoot into the bottom of the backboard.
8) C'mon MSU, make it an all Big 10 final.

Quick Picks to Click

As I mentioned to Jack earlier this week, I think that Illinois and UNC should be able to advance without much difficulty. However, there's a couple reasons that it won't happen.

1) Bruce Weber: He has quietly made some huge coaching blunders. No one notices b\c his team keeps toby bailing him out. He does a great job of motivating, but his coaching decisions are terrible. He keeps playing Powell on the biggest opposing player. He paid WAY to much attention to salim and allowed the post players of Arizona to dominate. Therefore, if he does the same thing to Garcia, look for Dean or a post player to have 20-25 points on 80% shooting. The 3 guards are all good enough defenders to play one-on-one with anybody. If that happens, and weber doesn't do some other weird thing, expect the Illini to win by 10. Illinois 84 Louisville 76

2) Take one guess...If you said anything other that Roy Williams, your blog reading rights have been revoked. For reasons unknown to me, he takes May and Felton out at the same time. That team isn't that good when they're both out. Mostly b\c they look for them to score and are lost without them. Also, he doesn't make his team play defense. If they don't, msu will torch them from outside.

Despite Roy Williams, UNC could still win b\c of May. Paul Davis will have no chance defending him. I think playing Trannon on him would work well. He had some trouble against the bigger athletes of Villinova. Mich. St. does play smart with experienced guards that can drive and finish. If Brown and Ager are causing fouls in the lane, the Spartans will pull it out.

I can't see UNC just deciding to play defense now. They want Illinois and won't go full gear until the title game. Mich St is too good to be taken lightly. Spartans 87 Tar Heels 84

A new favorite writer?

I ran across some interesting thoughts on last weekend’s fantastical Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight action, courtesy of writer Chris Ballard (and no, I didn’t hold being an SI writer against him. That loathing is reserved for incompetent, soccer-obsessed former college basketball writer Grant Wahl. The dumbass). Anywho, choice cuts include:

On this year's ever-present Coach K ads:
"I have had a change of heart ... I no longer care about his charitable nature - watching K incessantly expound upon his wonderfulness is starting to feel like Kubrick-ian punishment. And, as many readers wrote in last week to point out, one doesn't have to dislike him for selling out; one can dislike him because the ads amount to a nationally-broadcast, soft-lighted recruiting pitch for Duke, something certainly not afforded the Mark Fews of the hoops world. It is not without a certain pleasure, then, that I watch as Duke bows to Michigan State."

On a subject with which I'm sure we're all frustratingly familiar:
"Then, shortly after midnight and deep into an amazing Villanova-UNC game, Allan Ray walks. Or at least that's the ref's story, which he is sticking to. Fortunately, his defense attorney happens to be sitting courtside. 'ONE, TWO, THREE!' says Bill Raftery of CBS as the screen shows the 'Nova guard taking one, two steps. This, after Raftery has spent the bulk of the game all but waving Carolina blue pom-poms when not concocting reasons to yell 'The kissss!' or 'Send it in!' This does not go unnoticed; over the next two hours, the e-mails come fast and furious from my friends. Writes Peter S.: 'I'm not one for sports conspiracy theories, but that is the first time I have believed that CBS conspired to keep a team in the tournament.' Owen, an N.C. State grad, responds with bitter resignation, 'Dude, drink the Kool-Aid. Carolina wins. Carolina always effing wins. I'm going to bed.'

"Not that there's any reason to think CBS announcers would have an ACC tilt; only seven of the eight game broadcasters played or coached in the conference (Jay Bilas, Dan Bonner, Len Elmore, Mike Gminski, Billy Packer, Jim Spanarkel and Bob Wenzel; only Raftery has no ties)."

On the MWB's sentimental favorite:
"Even here, in the Jersey strip mall hinterlands, they know his name: Pittsnogle. It rings out after every three: from the trio of guys with $1 mugs of Budweiser on the far side of the bar, from the father who's brought his young son to taste the Madness and even - quite surprisingly - from two feet to my left where my wife, who generously agreed to stop here on our drive home, has been sucked in. Though not so much that she finds my joke about renaming our dog 'Pittsnogler' funny.

"It's been that kind of month for the Mountaineers, everybody's favorite working class hoops heroes. Which is why it's so disheartening to watch as, despite the WVU barrage of 3s, Louisville fights back. The game goes to OT and quickly gets out of hand; were it not for a missed breakaway dunk at the end, Louisville would win by double digits. Like revelers sobering up to realize they have no idea who they were just spilling life secrets to, our de facto Mountaineers fan club disintegrates. Somewhere, thousand of new and old West Virginia fans mourn."

Indeed, good sir. Indeed.

More thoughts on a man that I really enjoyed before this tourney started:
"3:45: Back home, I watch as Carolina plays Wisconsin. Which means that Raftery is back, playing his usual role as Master of the Obvious. By all accounts a wonderful man, Raftery has nonetheless reached Dickie V-esque levels of volume and inanity. His comments are again UNC-centric and, as always, slathered in catch-phrases that do nothing to provide insight. He punctuates them with high-pitched grunts that, coming from someone else, might warrant a call to the paramedics.

Here's a sample of his second-half 'commentary':

On a 3-point shot: 'Ah, ha ha. Oh My Goodness! Get the puppies going. He is really under total control.'

On a made shot: 'A little ... NYLON!' On Sean May: 'He's a quarterback out there!' (Raftery has already called him a linebacker and a tight end during the tourney).

A Carolina layup: 'The power broker gets to the tin!'

When Carolina commits a foul: 'Oh come on, let it go!'

As contrasted to, when Wisconsin shoots: 'Short! I thought it wasn't going to hit the rim.' (The shot goes in)

Replay of a Wisconsin 3-point attempt: 'Cha cha cha! Get those puppies set, Tito Puente, bada bing, knock it down!' (all this despite the fact that, on the replay being shown, Wisconsin is missing the three-pointer)

Almost loss amidst the cacophony, Wisconsin nearly knocks off UNC."

And still more analyst-critiquing:
"8:11: It ends in double OT as Michigan State wins. Since there's no analysis on CBS - gotta get to 60 Minutes and Cold Case quickly because viewers certainly wouldn't want to reflect upon that double-OT thriller right about now - I switch over to ESPNews for Doug Gottlieb, who has become my favorite college hoops analyst. Gottlieb uses no catch phrases, doesn't feel it's necessary to yell and stays mostly on topic. What's more, unlike so many of his brethren who are given to all but humping the legs of certain coaches, Gottlieb is not afraid to be critical. Which is why he'll surely never get a lead analyst job."

Preview of tonight's games will be coming later. Ciao.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Your resident baseball expert awakens: AL

Despite the fact all that's discussed is steroids, a season is actually going to happen. I hope that the roid talk goes away soon, but I highly doubt it does. Nonetheless, I'm going to drop some predictions on you as if they were hot. I'm glad that in a couple of days we have a pro sport we can finally discuss again.

AL East:
So basically you know the drill here: Red Sox or Yankees. The yanks rehauled their lackluster pitching staff and now have probably the best and deepest set of starters in baseball. However, I'm totally not sold on them. There's several injury concerns with some older players. If they stay healthy, then they're the team to beat.

1st: Boston Red Sox
Predicted record: 97-65
I think Wells will be a good enough replacement for Pedro and the offense is the best in baseball

2nd: Yankees
Predicted record: 94-68
The race for this division will come down to the last week in all likelihood. I'm just too worried about injuries for this team over the long haul.

After these 2, there's just not much going on. By that, no one has any pitching.

3rd: Baltimore
Predicted record: 80-82
There is a lot of offense on this team. There is absolutely no pitching. That's a problem.

4th: Tampa Bay
Predicted record: 70-92
I think the Devil Rays get themselves out of the AL East cellar and into 4th place. YAY Devil Rays. The have a couple of good young players with Crawford and Huff, and Kazmir is gonna be a good one from the mound.

5th: Bluges
Predicted record: 68-94
Expect a better season from Halladay. V-We is the only offensive force on the team.

AL Central:

1st: Twins
Predicted record: 88-74
Their offense is pretty weak. In fact, it's quite week. However, they pitch, fields, and run the bases very well. In this division, that's more than enough to win.

2nd: White Sox
Predicted record: 84-78
This team made several very nice moves giving them a pretty solid lineup and pitching staff. However, the bullpen looks pretty weak. Look for a mid-season trade from this team for a closer or quality set up man

3rd: Indians
Predicted record: 78-84
They just don't have quite enough yet. This team also screams massive let down. With several young players overachieving last year, I'm not sure if they can do it again. There's a lot of talent for hitting and pitching, but the bullpen is weak. One more year until they challenge.

4th: Tigers
Predicted record: 77-85
Don't be surprised if this team sneaks up and passes the tribe. They hitting is solid, the starting pitching is okay, and the bullpen is better than average. Completely mediocre is what to expect from this squad

5th: Kansas City
Predicted record: 63-99
Wow, is this team bad. When sweeney is out of the lineup, their best hitter is: Matt Stairs. Their opening day starter is: Jose Lima. Guh.

Today's blog challenge: Without looking!!
Can you name 2 more royals starting position players? (Starting rotation is also acceptable)

AL West

1st: Los Angeles? Angles
Predicted record: 92-60
Ok, so it's the angles and then everyone else. They have the best lineup and rotation in the division.

I have no idea what to do with the rest of the teams in this division. Each has potential to be solid and very bad. I'm just guessing from here out.

2nd: Mariners
Predicted record: 79-83
Whatever. I'm so confused with this team. They look very mediocre with good potential at the plate.

3rd: A's
Predicted record: 77-85
They don't look very good on paper, but they always perform. A lot of good young talent on this squad with Crosby leading the charge. Look for them to challenge next year.

4th: Rangers
Predicted record: 76-86
This team will hit. They will score bunches. So if, IF, the pitching is decent, they'll be .500, IF IF it's good, they could challenge for the division. However, I'd say the pitching will stink and they'll be around 10 under .500

So it looks like this for the playoffs
Red Sox vs. Twins
Yankees vs. Angels

I'll take the Red Sox over the Yanks to head back to the world series

AL MVP: Manny Ramirez - don't be surprised if he gets 160 RBI and a triple crown run
Runner-up: Vlad - he's just a monster
Darkhorse: Ichiro - he's the toughest out in baseball and probably should be the mvp