Monday, June 30, 2008
I'll leave everything up here for the sake of nostalgia, but anything new will be posted on my brand-spanking-new site. Wordpress is so great.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Narrator: The lights go dark. The crowd. It screams.
Guy in plaid shirt #3: OH MY GOD!
Narrator: Four men slowly wander onto the stage. The singer, a skinny 30-something man has dark hair, probably cut with a razor, that intrudes over the top half of his face. He is clearly disaffected by most everything happening around him.
Fat girl in black skirt: Jason! Jason! Ahhhhh!
Apathetic Asian hipster: [shoves hands deep in pockets; stares.]
Narrator: The band launches into "Ineffectual Meaning," the the first song from their new album. A deep, rumbling bass tensely builds atmosphere and the drummer pounds an ironically syncopated rhythm. The guitarist, his Les Paul slung low, slams his fist into an enormous E-minor power chord as the singer belts the opening lyrics.
Guy in plaid shirt #5: Oh my God! This is awesome!
Guy in plaid shirt #1: [takes lens cap off his SLR camera and begins taking, like, a billion pictures of the lead singer, presumably for a Facebook album that will be entitled, "Secretly Famous: Move, Shake, Move."]
Guy in plaid shirt #3: Whoooooooooooooooooo!
Fan of the opening band: [leaves]
Fat girl in black skirt: [notices her seven fat friends pushing their way through the crowd] Guys! Guys! Over here!
Narrator: Seven fat people push their way in front of those who have been standing for hours. Some of them groan in protest. But in the end, they do nothing. The plaid-shirted boys jump and shake the fists proudly at the stage for two hours, displaying their fervent public love for the band. The apathetic Asian hipster continues to stare. The fan of the opening band grabs a thickburger from Hardees on his way home.
It's any concert, anywhere.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
1. Terrell Owens gave a wide-ranging interview that was basically about nothing. He said he didn't like Bill Parcells, he's glad he's gone, and that maybe it was good for them to lose in the playoffs when they did, because if they had gone further, they may not have a new coach. He also thinks he is portrayed unfairly in the media. The article then re-hashed the same old T.O. stories we've heard for the past year. Word count: 758 words, including a breakout quote and extra video footage.
2. Braylon Edwards is donating $1 million of his own money to start a scholarship foundation for students within the city of Cleveland. It requires students to maintain a 2.5 GPA and perform 15 hours of community service each year. The program will include mentoring and tutoring for each student. This comes on the heels of Edwards' decision last year to donate $500,000 to the University of Michigan to help fund scholarships for football players. Word count: 128 words and a head shot of Edwards.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I was browsing ESPN.com and just happened to catch this caption. Who allows this to happen at the Worldwide Leader?
Friday, May 11, 2007
I put up the photo of Ben Wallace in a Pistons jersey because I don't want to look at him in a Bulls jersey anymore. Before last night's awful loss to the Pistons, Wallace arrived late to the United Center.
In a game that was described by everyone in Chicago (and elsewhere) as the Biggest Game of the Year for the Bulls, the captain of the team, the $60 million man, showed up late and offered an immediate distraction for the Bulls. And afterwards, he was anything but contrite about it when talking to the press.
"I don't care what people say. Go do what you do. I mean, I ain't got to explain myself to nobody. I'm not about to sit here and try to explain myself. That's the last thing I'm going to try to do."
The first thing he could try to do is play some better basketball. Aside from the amazing inarticulateness of his statement, I'm struck by his unbelievable attitude. What does he mean he doesn't have to explain himself to anyone? When you're the supposed veteran leader of the team, and you're making the most money of anyone on the team, you can show up on time for games. It's not hard. And if you make the mistake of being alte, at least pretend to be apologetic about it.
But he wasn't sorry. In fact, after the game (which saw the Bulls choke away a 19-point lead and get booed off their home floor) Wallace was seen in the tunnels hanging out with his former Pistons teammates, laughing and hugging and chatting it up. It's an obvious slap in the face to his teammates who has just lost a really tough game, and I'd be none too happy if I were in the Bulls locker room.
So what we're left with here is a 32-year old, 6-foot-9 center who has declining skills, a terrible attitude and probably still wishes he played for the Bulls' biggest rival. And he has three years left on a huge contract. Next year will probably be bad enough, but I have no idea if Wallace will be able to guard anyone or even get off the floor to grab a rebound by 2010. I don't even know if he'll want to. And if he doesn't want to exert any effort on the floor, who can make him try? Because he ain't got to explain himself to nobody. Which is probably OK, because no one can understand a damn word that comes out of his mouth anyway.
The Bulls are, partly because of Wallace's albatross contract, in a really tough spot for the next few years. John Paxson has constructed a very solid team -- but it's obviously a very flawed team, and that's been exposed by the Pistons. The Bulls rely totally on jump shots, the guards are too small and they have a hard time holding on to leads late in ballgames. The team is left with a core of Hinrich, Gordon, Deng and some other players, which is nice, but I'm not sure the Bulls can keep relying on internal improvements in order to win a championship.
As young as the team is, the window is going to be closing in the next year or two. And that's why I think Paxson needs to be making a move this summer to shake up the team a little bit. Some of that will depend on where the Knicks' lottery pick ends up, but I also don't think they can afford to be content with what they have. This series has made it very clear that what the Bulls have -- right now -- just isn't good enough.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
After one month, things looks crappy for the Cubs. They sit at 10-14 and are tied for last place in the division, 5.5 back of the Brewers. Carlos Zambrano has only had two good starts all year. Alfonso Soriano has driven in one run. The entire Cubs outfield has hit two home runs all year. The team finished April with an 0-6 record in one-run ballgames.
That last stat. The 0-6 in one-run games part. That's a good thing. Really, I swear.
It's something that's always criticized by fans as a measure of several things (usually "clutch" or a team's bullpen) and used as a big measuring stick. They are right that it's a big measuring stick. It measures luck.
And that's why things aren't as bad as they look for the Cubs. History has shown that teams are likely to finish right around .500 in one-run ballgames -- the variables are so close that it just comes down to random chance. So far this year, the Cubs have had awful luck. If they had gone just 3-3 (the normal distribution) in those games, they'd have a 13-11 record. And there wouldn't be nearly as much panic in Chicago.
Another reason for optimism is the difference between runs scored and runs allowed. All a team can do is try to score as many runs as possible and allow as few as possible; how those are distributed across different ballgames is generally a matter of chance. The first-place Brewers have outscored their opponents by just three runs on the season. The Cubs have outscored their opponents by 21 runs. That's a pretty big statistical difference. In fact, the only teams in baseball that have a larger run differential are the Red Sox, Mets and Blue Jays.
So with all that, it's likely to get better for the Cubs, and it's likely to get better soon. I have a feeling that the Brewers will hang around all year because they have a nice balance of pitching and hitting, but they aren't going to run away with the division. In fact, no team will run away with the division, because there isn't anything in the Central that resembles a dominant team.
There's your hope, Cubs fans. Sorry that it's based in numbers and nerdiness.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
The NFL Draft is coming up, which means that Mel Kiper slithers out of his chamber and loudly informs us which players will become the next Curtis Enis or Ryan Leaf. I was reading some previews of the draft and came across one in particular, on ESPN, entitled "The edge of reason."
The article is about how the three-year-old daughter of LSU coach Les Miles has a huge crush on JaMarcus Russell, the former Tigers' quarterback who could be drafted No. 1 overall.
Since this is a sports website, they actually talk more about Russell and why coaches and scouts view him as the best quarterback in the draft. He's 6-foot-6, weighs more than 250 pounds and can reportedly throw a football 80 yards. Therefore, he appears to be physically gifted. From the scouts, we get the typical talk about how they've never seen anyone who has the same physical gifts as Russell.
I think the word "never" should be banned from scouts' vocabulary. They say it all the time, and it's ... umm, never true.
Anyway, the best quote in the whole article comes from Brad Childress, the Minnesota Vikings coach:
"Have you seen his gosh darn hands?. They're huge. It's like the kid has an extra knuckle. Sure, there are lots of things I'd like to know about him. But physically, he's off the charts. It's exciting. You just simply can't deny his physical gifts. It all starts with that."
His hands are huge. Therefore, he will be an amazing quarterback.
I don't get it.
I don't get why physical gifts are now the most important aspect of any athlete when being drafted. I think it started in the NBA with all of the high-upside high schoolers who entered the draft in recent years, and it's now filtered over to the NFL and baseball.
Athleticism is great. You need to be athletic in order to succeed in athletics. But you still have to be able to perform finely-tuned tasks and have specific abilities in order to be good at the game. The fact that JaMarcus Russell has freakishly large hands will not help him in any way in the NFL, unless the league changes the game ball from an oblong pigskin to a 14-pound bowling ball.
The ESPN article has a great stat (from Football Outsiders) that says the greatest predictor of a quarterback's ability in the NFL is not his hands, or his arm strength, or his 40 time; it's the number of starts he made in college. In recent years, the quarterbacks with the most starts in college have been Philip Rivers (51), Donovan McNabb (49) and Carson Palmer (45). Russell made 29 starts in college, which places him among Rex Grossman, Joey Harrington and Akili Smith -- another physically gifted signal-caller who had "all of the tools" to succeed.
For the record, Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn made 46 starts in college, and was widely thought to be better than Russell up until the last game of the season. Before the Sugar Bowl, Russell had only thrown for more than 269 yards once in his junior season -- Quinn failed to reach that mark just twice last year.
So why do people in sports continually look past performance and focus on tools and upside? Just the other day, I was reading an article that talked about how athletic the Devil Rays are. The writer talked about how if baseball were to implement a decathlon competition, the Rays would win, hands-down.
That's pretty cool. Except, the Rays play baseball. And they suck at it.
I think that the biggest reason for this approach is just pure arrogance. Every coach thinks they can be the one to coax and teach a physically gifted player to become a star. It's why teams will reach for Russell over a sure thing like Calvin Johnson. It's why Vince Young was taken over Matt Leinart. It's the reason Darko Milicic was drafted ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and Kirk Hinrich.
I understand the idea of taking a higher risk player in some situations. I think the Bulls were OK in taking Tyrus Thomas last year; it was a weak draft and there were no players available that filled an immediate need for them, so they went with upside. But for teams who have holes all over the place, there's no reason to take a project when a safer bet is available.
I'm curious if this is going to continue, or if sports teams will eventually learn from all of the mistakes. Either we're going to see this trend eventually level off and GMs revert back to drafting players based on their actual ability, or it's only going to get worse, and we'll see football teams draft Olympic sprinters with no competitive football experience to play wide receiver.
Yeah, now that I think about it, this will probably keep getting worse. I can't wait until Jim Hendry drafts Justin Gatlin to replace Matt Murton.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I hate to add to the hype that now surrounds Felix Hernandez after his start last night in Boston, but ...
OhmyGod did anyone else see how he pitched against the Boston Red Sox lineup and Dice-K and with 350 media members watching his every move people thought that Matsuzaka was going to be the one to watch but no Felix proved them wrong because he has a 99 mph fastball and a 92 mph slider and a 12-to-6 curveball in the mid-80s which is just unfair and he had pinpoint control and David Ortiz who knows a goddamn thing or two about hitting said that he was "filthy" and he almost had a no-hitter until JD Drew broke it up with a single that just barely made it through the middle and this is the best stuff that I've ever seen except for maybe Dwight Gooden and this kid is another Dwight Gooden and maybe better especially if he can avoid arm injuries and drug problems and the Clap and I can't really breathe because hyperbole sucks the wind right from your lungs but this kid is good and I would be stunned to see him give up a run before June and he's basically a non-Jewish Latino right-handed Sandy Koufax but only younger and I can't wait to see what he does in his next start but I tell you right now that if he gives up more than two hits I'll eat my wingtip shoes.
• Alex Rodriguez, who is totally non-clutch (as if you need to be reminded), is lacing the cover off the baseball this season. He's hitting .355 with a .447 OBP, and he's racked up a 1.065 slugging percentage. He's got six home runs and has already driven in 16 runs. He currently has more home runs than 10 major league teams. Since small sample sizes are fun, if you extrapolate A-Rod's numbers over a full season, he's on pace for the following totals:
121 home runs
And they'd still boo him in New York.
While he won't continue that pace -- at least I don't think so -- it would be my greatest joy to see A-Rod hit 60 homers, drive in 150 runs, win the adoration of Yankees fans ... and then use the opt-out clause in his contract to bolt for free agency. They deserve it.
• The Bulls hammered the Knicks 98-69 the other night, and Steve Francis complained after the game that the Bulls ran up the score.
I always find these arguments interesting in pro sports, since we're no longer in Little League and grown men shouldn't really care how much they get beat by. Should the Bulls really be worried about Steve Francis' feelings? Hardly. They didn't play their starters at all in the fourth quarter and didn't score in the final two minutes. I don't think there was much of an effort to humiliate the Knicks. New York does a pretty good job of that on their own accord.
If anything, given how Isiah Thomas has recently tried to hype that he "got the better end" of the Eddy Curry trade, I think the Bulls should have pushed it further and tried to win by 50.
As a sidenote, Eddy Curry still can't guard anyone in the post. He's awful.
• Obligatory Don Imus note.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
I'm not even going to provide commentary on this. Just a link and a quote. You make all the judgments you need.
Keith Richards: The day I snorted my father's ashes
He is the embodiment of rock and roll excess. But Keith Richards' latest admission is likely to surprise even his most hardened fans.
The Rolling Stones guitarist has told how he snorted his own father's ashes in a drugs binge.
"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," he said.
The 63-year-old detailed in a magazine interview how he mixed the ashes with cocaine and inhaled them.
"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow.
"My dad wouldn't have cared - he didn't give a shit. It went down pretty well. And I'm still alive."