Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bill Versus Doc: Fight!

One of the interesting side effects of modern commentator culture is that, increasingly, said commentators feel the need to make themselves part of what they're commenting on. You see it at concerts - there's always the jerk in the front row calling back answers to the performer's stage patter. You see it online, not that you should ever, ever read the comments section of, like, anything. And you see it in the traditional media, where the lines between celebrity and celebrity journalism have blurred to near transparency. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Your Handy-Dandy Guide to the Trades Made At and Around the NBA Draft

The Philadelphia 76ers trade PG Jrue Holiday and a 2nd round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel and next year's (protected) first round pick

Translation: The Sixers have decided to blow the whole thing up and start over with Noel and a couple of probable lottery picks next year. To get a good lottery pick, it helps if you don't have a lot of good players, so they ditched their best one on a them that's in a hurry to win now. When people say hopefully "build around Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young", you know you're going to have a lot of ping pong balls next year.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Great Moments In Putting The Cart Before the Horse, Hernandez-Tebow Edition

We've been staying away from this because A) at this point, it's all idle speculation and B) Charles Pierce said it all and said it better over at Grantland, anyway.
But watching the media reactions to the release and subsequent arrest - or is it the other way around - of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has finally roused the sleeping bear.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Nerd at Third Base

We all knew Alex Rodriguez in high school.
Not the Alex Rodriguez, of course. Not the one who took Seattle by storm as a teenager and hammered baseballs like he was Neal Peart and they were crash cymbals. But we all knew someone - hell, maybe we were someone - like him.
And again, by "like him", I don't mean "a supremely gifted athlete". I mean someone who was socially awkward, desperate to fit in, and gifted with an uncanny instinct for saying the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Closing Time

"And the Padres tie the game at 3!"
It's a very simple three step process:

1-Closer blows a game.
2-Closer blasts his teammates.
3-Closer blows more games.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Talking Football After Cooley

All hail the mighty Cooley Bird
So I saw Mike Cooley play a gig in Chapel Hill the other night, at an affable hole in the wall called Local 506. Cooley, for those of you not familiar with the man or his works, is one of the principals in the band Drive-By Truckers, and if you haven't heard of them, well, there's no hope for you.
Anyway, after the show wrapped up and the floor cleared out, and the dad shirts and ironic beards and expensive replicas of cheap t-shirts from my childhood had shuffled on out the door, only the die-hards were left. They clustered at the bar, pounding beers that weren't PBR and talking excitedly about next week's show in Winston-Salem, comparing the fine points of this gig's rendition of "Zip City" to those of one they heard in Athens at the 40 Watt back in 2004.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Short Pop Quiz on the NBA Finals

1: True or False - After the buzzer sounded on Game 7, LeBron James was physically lifted into Heaven by a host of angels with fiery swords and Miami Heat "White Hot" branded merchandise?

2: The Spurs lost because:

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Martyrdom of Saint Wil

I swear, you'd think they were gonna kill him.

That smile says "Send Help!"
For the last couple of months, one of the recurring themes amongst baseball types was the way in which Wil Myers was being kept against his will in the desolate hell-hole called Durham, North Carolina. To hear the way the seamheads put it, Myers was "trapped" in Cackalacky by the heartless and foolish Rays front office. Presumably, he was also being flogged regularly, fed nothing but gruel, and guest-starring on episodes of Beyond Scared Straight. No doubt the poor kid spent his days here digging his way out of the home clubhouse at the DBAP, possibly in the direction of Bull City Burger and Brewery, and covering up the hole with a tattered Rita Hayworth poster.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Llllladies and Gentlemen

Warning: soccer-related content below.

This past weekend was first half of the PA West Soccer Open Tournament at Edinboro University in Edinboro, PA.  It's a tournament for western Pennsylvania rec soccer teams -- not elite college-prep type teams with professional coaches, but neighborhood youth soccer clubs.  I'm heavily involved with one of those clubs and I was up at the tournament with my son's team.

Each team is expected to provide volunteer time to the tournament. When I approached the tournament director to take care of my team's time, she cocked her head and said "how's your announcer voice?"

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Points, They Are Tipping

Until recently, the definition of "oversteering" was "what Rich does when playing a racing game on his 360", which is why my nephew loves firing up Driver: San Francisco (Ubisoft Reflections, represent!) every time he visits - he's got a better chance of staying on the road than I do. I'll skid a little to the right, go hard left, slide out of control, try to go right, and end up with a perfectly harmless Alfa Romeo that never did no harm to nobody wrapped around the Coit Tower.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why I Write This

There are a couple of reasons I write this thing. One is, of course, that it's fun. It's a completely different type of writing than the stuff I do for work (video games where people get shot in the face) or the stuff I do for myself (horror novels where people have terrible things happen to their faces) or even my side business writing (book reviews wherein authors occasionally, figuratively get it in the face). It's an informal place where I can just sort of let loose with pure opinion. Very relaxing, that, and very cathartic.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Why Playoff Hockey Rocks (Painfully Oversimplified Math Division)

Every year, people magically rediscover playoff hockey and gasp, astonished, at how exciting it is. This usually happens around the time of the first triple-overtime game, and lasts until somebody wins the Stanley Cup. At that point, hockey is magically forgotten about in most of the US until it's time for the cycle to repeat. But for those few golden weeks, hockey justifiably captures the attention of those who know enough to look, and its playoff games are the most exciting of any major sport's.

Why? Math.

Friday, June 14, 2013

You Dropped a Bomb On Me, Baby...

Dig if you will, a picture, of the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks engaged in a triple overtime thriller in Chicago.  It’s past midnight on the east coast, and everyone is thinking “End this!  I have to get to work in the morning!”  Andrew Shaw of the Blackhawks delivers a redirection that goes in on Tukka Rask, ending the game.  This being on NBC, Pierre Macguire jumps over the boards, or at least climbs over them slowly, and grabs the guy who potted the game winning goal.  “Tell me about the goal.”  Standard stuff.

Andrew Shaw then drops an f-bomb on national TV.  LIVE!  OH THE HUMANITY!

Two days later, TWO DAYS, there’s an article on Puck Daddy, Yahoo! Sports’ hockey blog, about how Shaw’s mother and the mayor of his hometown ‘absolve him’ for popping the f-word1.  According to wikipedia, a network is not required to censor foul language between 10PM and 6AM.  So, evidently people are up in arms over something the FCC doesn’t care about.  You know, the FCC with the over-strict decency rules.

David Ortiz got away with it after the Boston Marathon bombings, and that was during prime-time.  So, I think Andrew Shaw gets a pass on this one.

1 I’m aware of the irony of complaining about censorship and then self-censoring by not using the word in question.  I didn’t want to fuck up and offend someone.2

2 Oops.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Timmeh! And the Lord of the Underworld

Sometimes the jokes write themselves:

"You hear the Patriots signed Tim Tebow?"
"I thought they needed a running back."
"They just signed one."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bad Teams Find A Way To Lose, Class A Division

Never piss off a bipedal fish with a hot dog cannon
Bad teams find ways to lose.

I went to see the Carolina Mudcats the other night. A relative of my wife's was in town for the first time, we wanted to show him a good time, and we picked up my dad and my nephew on the way out to Five County Stadium for a Saturday evening contest. The weather was lovely, post-storm blue skies, the opponent was the loaded Rangers affiliate the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, and it was Miggy Cabrera Bobblehead Night for all kids 14 and under. My nephew, who is ten, had been discussing the desirability of a bobblehead versus a toy bat with my wife on the way in, was ecstatic.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Let's All Jump On Donovan

A McNabb Career Highlight
Even the sports world has socially awkward nerds. Case in point: Donovan McNabb, who is about as comfortable speaking with other human beings as Jeffty Loria is with a forensic accountant. For all that his career ended with a thud, McNabb really was one of the best quarterbacks of his era, a guy who consistently led undergunned Eagles teams to the playoffs (even if once he got there, he played like someone was holding his family at gunpoint in a South Philly basement). He played hard, he played hurt, and he played well, and yet the only time anyone ever warmed to him was when he was doing Chunky Soup commercials. The rest of the time, he went total McFly every time a microphone got shoved in his face, to the point where he lost sympathy and credibility at an unseemly pace. It didn't matter if he was reciting the lyrics to "Happy Birthday", he would say it in a way that was so flat, unappealing, entitled, and awkward that  you got mad just listening to it. He could have revealed the Grand Unified Theory in a postgame presser and people would have called bullshit reflexively, because he just has that kind of public voice.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

An Open Letter To Baseball On the Bosch Deal

"So if A-Rod OPSes the same as a duck, he's made of wood"
Dear Baseball:

Please stop being so fucking stupid about the way you handle PEDs.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

What Can Dom Brown Do For You?

I think that one landed in Jenkintown
Domonic Brown is very good at hitting baseballs.

This is something that a lot of people agreed on, starting with when the Phillies took him with the 20th overall pick a few years back. It persisted as he climbed the minor league ladder, with old school scouty  types drooling over his physical tools and analytics nerds looking at his projections and getting the vapors.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Why I Am Rooting For The Heat

I am rooting for the Miami Heat out of sheer, enlightened self-interest.

It is not because I am a fan of LeBron James, though I remain puzzled as to why an athlete who took less money in exchange for a better chance of winning remains vilified by the press. It's not because I have any love for The House That Pat Riley Built, or for the colorful bro-hood of burgeoning psychopath Chris Andersen, or the South Beach Home For Wayward Duke Alumni (c/o Shane Battier).