Thursday, February 18, 2010

NBC Is Not Good at the Olympics

Let's make this quick: NBC sucks at broadcasting the Olympics and should never do it again. Here are just a few of the problems:

1. Tape Delay: Sports fans want to see the drama unfold as they watch. They do not want to see what amounts to an edited re-run after they have read about the event results on Twitter/Facebook/Their favorite sports blog. Make it live and if fans want tape delay they can Tivo it. I have a hard time getting excited about watching Shaun White or Lindsey Vonn winning their medals when I already know the outcome. Not knowing is half the battle. But that doesn't really work with prime time programming.

2. Bob Costas: The man is insufferable. His smug, know-it-all superiority must be banned from network television. Put him on HBO where he only does damage to those paying for the privilege. Nothing grates on me more than a man telling me how important something is that I just watched. History takes time, Bob! That's why they call it history.

3. Ignorance: Can you get your reporters to do a little homework? Or even watch the events? Look, no one expects the U.S.A. to be well-read on speed-skating (though with the stories of Eric Heiden, Bonnie Blair, Shanni Davis and Apolo Ohno, we shouldn't be completely ignorant) but if your sideline reporter just watched a race, shouldn't she know the name of the race winner she is about to interview? Apparently not:

In typically humble fashion the reporter says the following to the F-ing gold medalist:

"I need you to say your name, your country and what you just won here."

Sven Kramer's reply? "Are you stupid? Hell no, I'm not gonna do that."

"What you just won here?" Please for the love of sports, take the Olympics away from these fools. After all, they have already taken the Olympics away from my kids, who won't stay up till 10 to catch Shaun White's McTwist or, worse still, the great hockey that is still to come.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The NBA All-Star Game: Come on In, You're All Invited, Except You, Josh.

Two weeks I reported on the injustice of excluding the ambidextrous duo of David Lee and Chris Kaman from this year's All-Star game. I am happy to report that my advocating, um "journalism" has yielded some results. David Stern and the coaching staffs of the Eastern and Western Conferences listened to what I had to say and have corrected their errors.

David Lee will play for the East, replacing Allen Iverson, who will miss the game for "personal reasons." Specifically, his daughter is ill and Iverson has missed the last week of Sixers games to be with her. Makes sense that he would miss the festivities. Especially as he shouldn't even be there in the first place, unless being an All-Star is a lifetime achievement award and not a recognition of a player's work during the actual season. Oh wait, I forgot, it is. More on the 1992 All-Star game in another post. For the record, here are Iverson's numbers for this season:

14.4 points, 0.4 3-pointers, 4.7 assists, 0.6 steals on 44.8 percent shooting from field and 80.3 percent from the line.
Let's compare Iverson against an unnamed Player B in some of the same stats:

Player B: 10.2 points, 0.9 3-pointers, 2.9 assists, 0.8 steals.

So who is this mysterious unnamed Player B? Keen-eyed regulars of Yahoo Sports' Player Profiles might recognize him. He is the average guard in the NBA. Yes, Allen Iverson scores 4.2 more points but hits 0.5 fewer 3s, dishes 1.8 more dimes and snares 0.2 less steals...THAN THE AVERAGE NBA GUARD!!!

I loved AI as a player. He was the scariest sub-six-footer ever to lace them up. He is a no-question first ballot hall-of-fame player. His jersey was the top seller throughout the '90s and early '00s and justifiably so. But, sentimentalism aside, he had no business starting for this year's All-Star game. Of course, I am making this argument as if the All-Star game actually mattered any longer. But the reality it is as watered down as the league itself.

Let's take a quick look at the number of players (and more importantly players' agents) who will technically be able to call themselves 2010 All-Stars:

Eastern Conference Starters
G: Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers (out: personal reasons)
G: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
F: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
F: Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
C: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
G: Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
G: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
G: Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
F: Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
F: Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats
F: Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
C: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
F/C: David Lee, New York Knicks (Replaces Iverson)

Western Conference Starters
G: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
G: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (injured)
F: Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
F: Tim Duncan San Antonio Spurs
C: Amar'e Stoudemire Phoenix Suns
G: Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets (Replace Chris Paul)
G: Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks (Replaces Kobe Bryant)
G: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets (injured)
G: Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers (injured)
G: Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
F: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
F: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
F: Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
F/C: Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
C: Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers (Replaces Brandon Roy)

That makes 28 All-Stars for 2010. And in ten years when Brandon Roy can point to being an All-Star in 2010, who, if even he, will remember he wasn't even on the team? There have to be replacements and injuries are part and parcel of NBA life but this year has been egregious. And, honestly, if not for the election of Allen Iverson and disastrously close near-election of Tracy McGrady, this wouldn't be that big a deal. It certainly is no worse than the Pro Bowl, where every Pro Bowler from the Colts and Saints were replaced by other players. There were 11 such players.

Yet, despite this inflation still professional sports organizations find ways to exclude worthy players. Josh Smith is a better forward than at least three others on the Eastern team. Whom?

1. Al Horford. This one isn't even close. Smith is far more disruptive on defense and far more dangerous in the open court. While Horford's improved game has helped the Hawks this season, the single biggest reason for their improvement has been the play of Smith. Smith no longer jacks crazy threes and is working within the offense. On defense, he remains the same a blocks and steals machines who may gamble a bit too much but whom the other team always has to think of. Horford poses no such threat.

2. David Lee. I know, I know. I spent so much time pimping him two weeks ago, now I am saying he shouldn't be an All-Star. No, actually, that's not what I am saying. It's juts that despite his career year, he isn't better than Smith. As much as the All-Star game likes to showcase a few white guys, there is no way Lee should be ahead of the force that is Josh Smith, whose defense is far beyond his. Besides, as I pointed out two weeks ago, Lee should be there ahead of Horford. There is room for both he and Smith on the team.

3. Kevin Garnett. Ow. My soul hurt when I wrote KG's name. It's time to face facts. KG is not what he once was. He still has a jumper and still makes good passes from the high post but the tireless defense? The erasing of guards when they blow into the lane past the first defender? The thunderous dunks in transition? All gone. Josh Smith is the better defender now and far more explosive on offense. Sure KG remains a better shooter but that's about it. In all other phases of the game I take Smith before Garnett. Yeah, I am not looking forward to this match-up should it occur in the playoffs. But if does come to pass can we just give KG this weekend off, so he can rest and perhaps improve the health of his knee? Did that sound like wishful thinking? Yeah? Crap, it was.

Taking aside defense and all-around better play, the last reason Josh Smith should be on the team ahead of these guys is the wow factor. J-Smoove will wow you, especially in an all-star game where they allow dunks like Amsterdam allows pot smoking...and prostitution...and in this one club called the White Swallow... The point is we all expect to see vicious, consciousness-altering dunks during an all-star game and Josh Smith is a guy who can deliver them. Check the following video of his dunks and blocks:

Trust me, Smith could put an all-time in-game dunk down this season if given the chance. Of course, he wasn't given the chance and here we are with old-timers like Jason Kidd and Kevin Garnett roaming the court. To Kidd's credit he should deliver a few lobbed alley-oops to someone on the Western team and that's about all we should expect of him. Though looking at the Western Conference roster, they don't have too many crazy dunkers. If we wants the goods from Kidd, he better toss it Stoudemire's way because those alley-oops to Tim Duncan and Zach Randolph? Well, I hope you like bank shots. Garnett? He'll probably just scowl and set illegal screens against Pau Gasol.

The other glaring omission? Monta Ellis. I get that he's hurt now (sprained ankle) and that he probably couldn't go any way but come on. This kid is the closest we have to the old Iverson in the league right now. Little guy, scores at will, never looks satisfied, seems relentlessly driven. Get his ass in the All-Star game! Or for Christ's sake, if you going to have a dumbass H-O-R-S-E contest in the weekend, why wouldn't you invite the guy who can do this:

Maybe I ask the impossible but all I want is a game where both sides care. It doesn't matter if the defense is inconsistent. We want a show after all, but don't let it be non-existent. I mean is it too much to ask the East to get pissed off after years of everyone talking about how much worse they are than the West? And is it too much to ask of the West to get cocky and try to humiliate the East? Because if they try to do that, we might actually get something other than showboating in the game. We might see some pride. If we saw that, I would forgive the omission of Josh Smith. This season. Next year you have to get this guy in the game!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Caption America: New Orleans Super Bowl XLIV

One of the great benefits of the Saints winning Super Bowl XLIV--aside from Peyton Manning not being anointed the greatest quarterback of all time--is that you knew the good people of New Orleans were going to get after it. More than that, you knew that there would be some great shots of said getting after it posted on the Web. Oh, and there were.

As a result I am introducing Caption America, wherein I will troll the Web for great photos and apply captions befitting the subjects. Enjoy.

Actually, I'm not sure if this shot is of the Super Bowl celebration
or Maryann's sacrifice party from True Blood.

This guy got laid after convincing a chick he was holding
the real Vince Lombardi trophy.

Which chick?

This chick.

We just found out there's this thing called the Super Bowl
and that the local team, the Saints, won. Also, we're from Park Slope and love cool shit.

It's probably safe to assume the above group did not party with...

This crew.
By the way, the guy on the far right? Yeah, he's dead now.

Post Super Bowl, Packer fans are still celebrating the Vikings' loss
in the NFC Championship two weeks ago. That's focus.

Even hipsters enjoy a good Super Bowl, ironically of course.


From left to right, that's Charlotte, Deezy, Ron, Urban Warrior, Rey-Rey and Nerf. They just met for the first time tonight, and right after this picture was taken they looted the shit out of that mattress store

Seriously, people. Who the fuck ordered the bourbon and coke?

What's a girl gotta do to get some beads in this town?

Oh yeah.

No, but you can take a picture outside the club.

I am a Saints fan first and a furry...what's tied with first?

No beads yet?

For Christ's sake, I know my left tit is in here somewhere.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

When You Got It, Flaunt It.

I am currently reading Nick Tosches' biography of Sonny Liston, The Devil and Sonny Liston, and in working my way through the bruised purple prose, mafia anecdotes and occasional match recaps I came across this compelling tidbit about Liston's "acting career":

He did a 1969 Braniff Airline commercial with Andy Warhol, in which he sat in unsmiling silence, ostensibly aboard a Braniff aircraft, while Warhol, in the next seat, spoke to him of the "inherent beauty" of soup cans.

If in trying to imagine the baddest man in America post-Ali, you are stunned into incomprehension by this anecdote, then you and I are in the same company. After reading the passage I immediately went to YouTube, hoping to find the ad showcasing three brands now well past their expiration date. Of course, YouTube came through:

More than unsmiling, Liston looks like he is cracking marbles with his molars. The writers, tongues firmly in cheek, describe Liston as "gabby." I am guessing if Liston were to have opened his mouth it would have been to announce he was going to kill this skinny motherfucker. After which, he would have broken Warhol into tiny pieces and eaten him.

This exercise in incongruity was Braniff's marketing plan. They ran a similar ad with Whitey Ford and Salvador Dali debating the difficulty of throwing a knuckleball versus a screwball. Sports and Art. See everyone, culture and counter-culture can sit in adjoining seats and completely misunderstand one another. Only on Braniff.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lane Kiffin Just Called. What Should I Do?

It was just another ordinary Friday evening. I was trolling the Internet, posting racist comments on YouTube videos like this and this...and, of course, this. Sometimes, I just can't stop myself.

But then the phone rang. It was Lane Kiffin. He wanted to see if my son might be interested in tossing the pigskin for 2023. You see, my son is five years old. You really have to give Kiffin and his advance scouting credit. While I may have bragged about my kid's arm to friends at barbecues, birthday parties and when watching games on Saturdays...and Sundays, I had no idea word had spread so far. I suppose there is little reason to pop in the backyard DVD at halftime during the Super Bowl now.

You think I am being a braggart? No? That's not it? Oh, you think it's crazy that a coach from an esteemed school such as the University of Southern California would inquire about a little boy just half way through kindergarten? It's far from crazy people. Or have you not read about Kiffin's recruitment Delaware's David Sills? David Sills would be the 13-year-old kid who just committed to USC. You think that's a little nuts? Well, that sentiment isn't shared by all members of the media. Andy Staples of praised Kiffin's foresight.

David Sills

For those who don't want to read the whole article, here's a taste:

Kiffin's scholarship offer to a 13-year-old seventh grader has turned into a national joke, right down to the obligatory Chris Hansen/Dateline NBC references. It's positively hilarious that Kiffin -- whose just-spell-my-name-right style of attention-grabbing recruiting has earned him a reputation bigger than his 7-6 record as a college head coach -- would promise a scholarship in the class of 2015 to a player who might not shave for three more years.

I'll admit it. I chuckled, too. Until I searched for David Sills on YouTube. Then everything made sense.

Of course it did, Andy. After all, you just about jumped out of your jock the last time Kiffin did this. The last time, you ask? Oh, yeah. There was a last time. And Andy was right there to applaud Kiffin's chicken-hawking then too.

So, how did I handle the call? I told Kiffin he wasn't the first D-1 coach to have reached out to me and that he had better assemble the best faculty boosters SC has to offer if wants my son's and my consideration. I trust Kiffin will come through if his one year at Tennessee was any indication.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's (Not) in the Game.

I am not sure what your Super Bowl parties are like, but mine feature a lot of man-on-man action. Preferably, the men are heavy-set, smell of bad beer and are dusted with a rime of potato chip crumbles. Turnout is critical so I always get the word out. I put ads up on Craigs List, usually titled something like, "Super Chub Sunday: Come for the Chips, Stay for the Dips."

Of course, you don't have to be direct participant to attend. You can always sit to the side, eat your fried goods and pretend to not be interested. In other words, my Super Bowl parties are a lot like this:

Unfortunately, CBS didn't see it my way and has refused to run the ad. Too bad. It would have been the best Super Bowl party ever. What in the world am I to do with all this guacamole?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Steven Seagal Redemption Song

I have become a fan of Steven Seagal, Law Man on A&E. Seriously. It's worth a few minutes of your time. Because a few minutes are all you should need to see the former action hero become winded as he "chases" suspects in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.

Typically, after having been caught by Seagal, the alleged criminals will exclaim, "Holy shit, you're Steven Seagal. My mom loves your movies. Can I get your autograph? She would love it." Then Seagal goes aw shucks and unfortunately doesn't destroy them for the lack of respect due a hero of his stature.

At this point, you may be thinking, what the fuck are you talking about? Here's the sixty second version to help you understand: Steven Seagal is cop. For real. And he has been a cop for the past twenty years. Pretty much the entire time he has been a bad-ass action hero. Don't believe me? Fine. It's what Steven Seagal says. Don't believe him? Fine. He's a seventh degree black belt.

Anyhow, as bad-ass as Seagal is when he arrests fools on Law Man, he never quite approaches the level he reaches in his movie Kill Switch. Don't believe me? Fine. Watch for yourself. Note, the clip below is the scene as Seagal intended, not as those pussies at the studio made him release it.

H/T: @Oopspow

Sorry, NCAA, but Your 96 Will Never Be as Great as a 69.

It has been speculated for a while, but it looks like the NCAA is determined to expand the men's tournament from 65 to 96 teams and that it is now a "done deal" according to SportsbyBrooks. The move would add 31 teams to the mix and, most importantly for the NCAA, 15 more games. More games means more money and we all know this is perfectly consistent with the mission of the NCAA:

"Our purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount."
--From the Our Mission page of the NCAA

Wait, you mean adding more games and more teams to the tournament will further "integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education?" If by integrate one means student-athletes will miss more classes, especially around mid-terms, then absolutely. The commitment these kids show by dedicating themselves both to their teams and to the professors who shape their young minds is really something else. And this says nothing about the impact the expansion will have on the student bodies of the no-longer marginal schools who will now be able to participate in March Madness. I foresee a great number of cram sessions in the carrels and dorm rooms of UMass, Drexel, Long Beach State and the like. These kids just have to get their homework done before the games begin.

Not happening, Ricky.

The best part is the number of upsets will surely increase with the greater number of .500 teams from big conferences and occasional small conference teams who are added to the mix. Actually not. It will be the same as it always is. Hope will grow like spring grass--Gosh, Jimmy, maybe we will be the Valparaiso or George Mason of the tournament this year--only to be scythed down by big-time, moneyed programs. That is reality. Last season, upsets were rare and inconsequential. In the first round the lower seed prevailed in 10 of 32 games, and three of these were 10-seeds beating 7-seeds; hardly Cinderella material. The second round? One lower-seeded team beat a higher seeded opponent, with #5 Purdue besting #4 Washington. Your heart beating faster upon recalling the game? Mine neither. (Actually, this was a good game but hardly an upset.) The Sweet Sixteen round produced eight teams, all of which were 1-, 2- or 3-seeds.

Upsets are the exception, but the NCAA markets them like they are what the tournament is all about. The tournament is all about cash. And this is why teams like my alma mater (UMass) and those from other smaller programs shouldn't get their hopes up. The field will expand to 96 but it won't be the mid-majors who benefit. It will be the middling schools from the big conferences. Think Big-10, Pac-10, Big-12, ACC, SEC Why? Because these are the schools with the big alumni associations who will throw down for the travel packages. And wouldn't you rather see fan shots of hotties from Florida State, University of Miami and Vanderbilt than those of the heifers who roll in from DePauw or North Dakota State? We thought so.

or Florida State?

The NCAA will go forward with this because more games means they can extract more money from whatever network bids for the tournament. The contract with CBS expires after this year's tournament. Expect ESPN and it's satellite stations--It's the upstart Coppin State Eagles facing down the Kentucky Wildcats on the Ocho!--to swoop in and secure the bid.

This won't be the end of the world as the purists will have you believe, but it won't make the tournament any better either. Was anyone really complaining about the lack of games? This change will just mean more games, more gambling, more articles about more productivity lost in the workplace and, with any luck, more shots of girls like the Seminole duo above.

As for DePauw and feeder/gainer fans everywhere, they won't be left out in the post-season cold. There's still the NIT after all. It'll be around at least until the NCAA decides to expand the tournament to 128 teams in 2018.