Monday, March 31, 2008

hehehe numba 2

From the same Jon Heyman article as the previous post:

Troy Tulowitzki had a big spring, hitting six home runs. "He's got a swagger about him. He believes,'' one AL scout said. "He's got a lot of Jeter in him.'' It's harder to think of a better compliment.

Here's hoping Tulo's got a lot of Valtrex in him, too.

Prah Dikshuns Numba 2

Jon Heyman weighs in with his season predictions. To my mostly untrained eye, there appears to be about 5 heavyweights in the AL, and pretty much any 3-team combo of Detroit, Cleveland, New York and Boston would be a completely acceptable prediction to make the playoffs. Jonnie m'boy, take us away:

1. Red Sox
2. Yankees

Uh huh.

1. Indians
2. Tigers


1. Angels
2. Mariners

Okiedoke. Looks good. So, we've got Sox, Tribe and Lackey's Lackeys. Who's it gonna be for the Wild Card, Yanks or Tigers (you can all see where this is going, can't you?):

Wild Cards: Mariners, Rockies

You know, it may be that in six month's time, Jon Heyman'll look pretty clever, and I'll look like a dink for making fun of him. But it doesn't seem likely. Actually, I'm just going to link to everything Vegaswatch (a godlike site) has said about the Mariners recently. I'd especially like to pirate one crucial, crucial line: "their Pythag record [last year] was 79-83".

The Mariners are going to need unimaginably good fortune to win 90 games this year, and even more for the Yanks and Tigers (and, since we're jaunting through Fantasyland, Toronto and Tampa Bay) to not reach 90. I'm sorry, that was a really awkward sentence. But don't let that distract you: bad prediction.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Building on the work of two superior blogs (also Bill Simmons)

I guess it's unofficially become Bill Simmons week here at Fire Everybody! Hell, I have to think it's totally within my power to make it officially Bill Simmons week, so...why the hell not? Welcome to Bill Simmons week here at Fire Everybody!

Larry B over at FireJay has just written an excellent post about Bill's latest silliness, which centers on two things: his bizarre, painfully unfunny "joke" pursuit of the Milwaukee Bucks GM job and his woeful ignorance of college basketball. Since I'm also totally clueless when it comes to college basketball (Stanford has a basketball team? Why was I not informed?), I'm just going to stick with the Bucks thing. My main interest really just pertains to this random post I came across by this guy called Jeff Sherman, a staff writer at On Milwaukee, which bills itself as "Milwaukee's Daily Magazine." So yeah, maybe the guy has some relevant stuff to say...

The Milwaukee Bucks need a general manager. ESPN columnist Bill Simmons wants the job. Is he the most qualified? No.

I like this guy already.

Is he a passionate NBA fan? Yes.

If by "NBA" you mean "Celtics", then yeah, I guess. Also acceptable: if by "fan", you mean "insane conspiracy theorist." Seriously, I'll never get tired of linking to that interview where he asked David Stern about freezing the envelope in 1985 and so forth.

Would it hurt for team owner U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl to, at the very least, fly the guy to Milwaukee for an interview? No.

I guess not. I also don't really see how it's going to help the Bucks, particularly. Considering what Andrew Bogut has been reduced to, I'm not sure now is the best time for a publicity stunt that would do little beyond cement the Bucks as the league's laughingstock. (For the record, the Heat are the league's Greek tragedy.)

Heck, I'll buy the ticket. I could use the Midwest Airlines miles. Consider that an offer, Senator.

I'm not totally sure that offer is, to quote Arnold in Jingle All The Way, kosher, as the Midwest Miles membership guide explicitly states, "Pooling of mileage or use of a single account for different individuals is not permitted." I know, I know, I really need to get out more. But still, at least I live in an age where doing something that pathetic only takes about thirty seconds.

Simmons has been relentless with his campaign to become the next Bucks GM. And, as a passionate Bucks fan and season ticket holder for years, I say why not give him an interview?

This is a team that needs buzz, moxy and more national exposure. Bring in Bill!

I think you'll find that it's actually J-Bug who brings most of the buzz. Hench is responsible for the moxie, of course (yeah, pretty sure it isn't "moxy" with a y - and yes, I realize this is the most pedantic thing ever written). Oh, and national exposure? Mostly Adam Carolla. I'm kidding, of course: it's completely Jimmy Kimmel. I'm pretty sure Adam Carolla's career currently consists of thinking up ways to "jokingly" suggest a three-way to Jimmy without it getting weird again. I can't even begin to imagine how pissed he was that he didn't even get asked to be in what became that "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" video. I mean, "I'm Fucking Adam Carolla" is just as good, right? RIGHT!?

Anyway, my point is that if you want all that, you can't just hire Bill Simmons. You've got to hire the Bill Simmons Management Team, sometimes known as his buddies and those two quasi-celebrities he constantly name-drops.

Simmons makes more solid points in his column this week. And, he closes it writing, "... since the Bucks refuse to acknowledge my candidacy, it looks like I'm going to have to shift to Plan B: Openly and frequently torturing them. Stay tuned."

To Simmons, I say, bring it on and to Sen. Kohl, I say, give the guy an interview.

Am I wrong to think it's just a little weird that a Milwaukee writer is apparently inviting a national sportswriter to start "openly and frequently torturing" his team? Is that really the call to arms Jeff Sherman should be ending with?

And yeah, that is the entire post. It's short, and nothing special. What is special are all his recent posts, which maybe suggest what his more usual beat is...

Recent blogs/briefs by Jeff Sherman

Stuff your face with all-you-can-eat Bucks seats:
For $30, the Milwaukee Bucks will stuff your face with all-you-can-eat hot dogs, soda, ...

Cornby’s is coming, that’s all I know: Cornby's is opening soon. Looks like sandwiches and more at former Arby's spot.

High School March Madness comes to Milwaukee: The McDonald’s All American Games are in town to heat up the hoops hysteria.

[Note: They're the McDonald's All American Games, so it counts as part of the larger theme.]

Straight talk on how to best bake your Palermo’s pizza: To coincide with our report on Palermo's pizza today, here is some talk on how to best ...

Downtown Milwaukee needs a Kopp’s: Who is with me? Downtown Milwaukee needs a Kopp's Frozen Custard.

I'm with you, Jeff. Downtown Milwaukee certainly does need a Kopp's Frozen Custard.

You know, there's a certain tag made famous by the Fire Joe Morgan guys that I can't help but find appropriate here. Of course, I don't want to plagiarize, so maybe I should just think of something else...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

52 52 52 Week #6: Nebraska

In which I examine crappy local sports journalism on a state-by-state basis, progressing through the states in terms of an alphabetical ordering of the heights of their tallest points. Because I can.

Ah, sweet, sweet Nebraska, the state I've never visited. Its rolling fields, its bizarrely overrated football program, its pre-Sideways Alexander Payne movies...what is there not to love? Especially when its highpoint is Panorama Point, which rises to a surprisingly robust 5,424 feet. According to Wikipedia, here are some facts...

1. It's not a mountain.

2. It's not a hill.

3. It's a low rise on the High Plains. That's all it fucking is. A low rise. So move the fuck along.

OK, I screwed you a little on the facts front, so here's a link to an amusing account of some people trying to "climb" the thing in 2001. It's worth a glance, if only for its somewhat inexplicable detour into the ill-fated George Mallory expedition up Mount Everest. What can I say? If there's one thing I love, it's irrelevant tangents.

Hey look, a bear!

I liked the part where it made me buy salmon.

In any event, this week I'm going really local by picking on the Kearney Hub, which, according to its website, "provides award-winning local news coverage for south-central Nebraska and is the most efficient advertising vehicle for businesses to reach a market area that covers all or parts of 10 counties and more than 68,000 adults." I would snicker derisively, but then I'd be fucking ecstatic if this blog was read by 68 people, let alone a thousand times that. Eh, who am I kidding? If I had 6.8 readers, that'd do just fine. But then, at least I don't spend any money on this thing, unlike the dudes at the Kearney Hub. Nah, I just spend hours and hours writing a book's worth of material on why Ray Ratto is sorta weird. Let's just move on.

The problem with newspapers this local is that they really don't have the resources to employ hack columnists who do nothing but spew out tired, reactionary opinions. Instead, they have a bunch of staff writers write human interest pieces that, in their desperation to be even mildly interesting, overstate the importance of their painfully mundane topics so completely that they're...well, they're kinda funny. Kinda. Here's a survey of what the Kearney Hub has to offer...

First up, an article by Seth Blank about a really old bowler. I'm pretty sure all you need to know about the state of Seth Blank's soul is summed up by his headshot:

I feel for you Seth, I really do. But you know what I'm not feeling? Your title:

Come on Elleen: Age just a number to Broken Bow bowler

Datedness of that reference: 26 years. Which I think makes it only about a decade out-of-date by Nebraska standards. Although I'm pretty sure that reference would be totally current in one of those crazy Balkan cities like Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia. Maybe even a couple years ahead of its time.

Childbirth couldn’t do it. Neither could a stroke or a heart attack. It seems as if nothing can stop Elleen Hall.

Childbirth and a stroke/heart attack: roughly equivalent, apparently. What is this, preindustrial Europe?

Hall, who turned 83 this week, made history Sunday at the Big Apple Fun Center by bowling in her 59th straight Nebraska Women’s Bowling Association State Tournament.

Hall’s 59-year streak eclipsed Omaha’s Helen Zentz’s mark of 58 years although Hall was quick to point out Zentz’s streak wasn’t done consecutively.

Elleen Hall is one hell of a sore winner, apparently, if after setting a new record she feels the need to shit on the previous one. 83 or not, Elleen, a little class goes a long way.

Hall’s first state tournament was in 1950 in Omaha where she took home her only state tournament top-5 finish.

Only one top-5 finish? This clearly isn't the Cal Ripken of Nebraska women's bowling we're talking about here; hell, I'm not even convinced she qualifies as the Julio Franco of Nebraska women's bowling. This is just a woman with a lot of free time who has entered an open tournament for six decades, isn't it? ISN'T IT?!


Julio Franco's comparables for the 2007 season, according to Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA projections:

Satchel Paige, Strom Thurmond, George Blanda, Harriet the Galapagos Tortoise

Let no one say those BP dudes don't have a sense of humor. Although, for my money, that foul-mouthed parrot that everyone naturally assumed belonged to Winston Churchill should have made the cut.


In any event, I guess it's at least impressive she had to keep herself in good enough shape to keep bowling that long.

But the pace of her ball has slowed since then — not just because of age, but because of a life-threatening stroke and four-way bypass heart surgery.


“I always said my favorite things in my life were babies, bowling, and bridge, in that order,” said Hall.

Ten bucks she said "bridge" just to keep up the alliteration. Shitty alliteration, to be sure, but that's still why she said it. I mean, come on...everyone knows Nebraska is canasta country.

After giving birth to a daughter on March 4, 1952, Hall made sure she didn’t miss the state tournament as she traveled with her mother and her team from Broken Bow to tournament host Grand Island.

OK, here's where it's revealed Elleen Hall is a damn dirty liar. Basically, the 1952 trip got snowed in and she was away for a long time from her husband and newborn daughter. This, as you can probably imagine, didn't thrill her husband, but Elleen gives the following response:

“And I said, Jim what could I do with my mother along? …I couldn’t get rowdy.”

But then - IN THE VERY NEXT SENTENCE - she drops this bombshell:

While she didn’t party at that state tournament, Hall said it was part of the experience. She added being with her team, which includes two of her daughters.

“I think the girls on the team keep me younger because they’ve let me go along every year and party. We’ve had some wild parties,” Hall said with a chuckle.

So it's impossible for people to party with their mother along...unless they party with their mother along. She's hiding something, I fucking know it.

You want to know what I think? I think this is the tip of some massive Nebraska women's bowling scandal of wild sapphic parties that'll make those two Carolina cheerleaders look like fucking nuns. And not naughty nuns, either. As you can imagine, I'm already finishing up the screenplay. Paul Verhoeven is attached to direct.

Since we're already on the topic of Nebraska-style sexiness - which is to say, not especially sexy, you know, at all - here's another gem of a human interest piece, this time from head writer Buck Mahoney. If any of the sportswriters I viciously and unfairly lampoon ever feels like kicking the shit out of me, I can only hope it's a man with a name as unspeakably manly as "Buck Mahoney." I'm pretty sure being able to claim "Buck Mahoney beat me up" is roughly equivalent to "I beat up Mitch Albom" on the badass scale. I'm just saying is all.

Anyway, the article is about the South Dakota Coyotes women's basketball team, which made the Division II Elite Eight. The team happens to have not one but two sets of identical twins on its roster, and Mahoney is profiling the more talented pair, Jenna and Jeana Hoffman...

They started playing in kindergarten, on tiny basketball hoops in the garage.

They’ve played together ever since.

I think it's been well-established that I'm incredibly immature. So...the sentence "They've played together ever since", when applied to a couple of identical twins? Let's just say I'm inappropriately snickering.

The Coyotes will play Washburn in the 8:30 p.m. game, the last game of the quarterfinals, and Washburn’s players can be forgiven if they think they’re seeing double.

The Hoffmans are identical twins. So are USD’s Ashley and Amy Robinette.

"I'm seeing double! Eight Hoffmas and Robinettes!"

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Sometimes the obvious Simpsons references are the best.

“For me, they’re my fourth and fifth sets of twins,” said USD coach Chad Lavin. “All five sets have been great. … Every set of twins I’ve had have been fun to have around.

University of South Dakota coach Chad Lavin? SMARTEST...MOTHERFUCKER...EVER. Seriously, he apparently is just running the basketball program so that he can meet identical twin coeds. I think Bruce Pearl may be hiring a new assistant real soon.

“These two are pretty similar to the other ones. Their personalities are a lot different, but they look the same.”

Really Chad? These identical twins look the same, yet they're also distinct human beings? Someone's got a medical background, quite clearly.

The easiest way to tell the Hoffmans apart, Lavin said, is that Jeana shoots left-handed, Jenna shoots right-handed.

Yeah...but he ain't talking about basketball. AW SHIT!!! LAVIN BE A PLAYA FO' LIFE!!!

I can't wait for the probably inevitable day when my parents discover this blog. I'm sure they'll be thrilled.

Thankfully, this article veers beautifully between Chad Lavin the probable sexual genius and Chad Lavin the apparent idiot when it comes to pretty much anything else.

Lavin said he has seen their ‘ESP’ at work.

“It’s got to be something. I know we won a game at Winona State where I couldn’t figure out how. We were going to Jenna and she got taken away. And somehow or another, she found Jeana for a three,” Lavin said.

So, Jenna showed good court vision and made a great pass, and since it happened to be to her sister...that means she's telepathic? I'm pretty sure it's that standard of evidence that led to people getting burned at the stake.

One last juvenile double entendre, then I'll get to the other major reason why I wanted to deal with this article...

“Our one-on-one battles are pretty even,” Jeana said.

Wait for it...

“I usually have to try to take her down low or post her up,” Jenna said.

Wait for it...

“She’s usually right in my face and I don’t get a lot of shots off. When she has the ball, she always likes to pull up … I try to get a hand on the ball. But she’s pretty tough to guard one on one.”

Almost there...

Often, the Robinette twins join the fun.

Heh, heh...heh.

Anyway, there happens to be a picture of one of the twins accompanying the article.

So, as you can see, that would be a photo of Jenna Hoffman, number 23. Just one slight problem...

That's right - they mixed up the twins in the accompanying fucking photo. I honestly just checked the roster on a whim, never for a second thinking they actually would have fucked it up. I mean...that would have just been too ridiculous, right?

I guess it's true what they say: sometimes, every once in a great while, something perfect happens. Thank you, Kearney Hub, thank you.

prah dikshuns

Tom Verducci, the spelling of whose name I can't even be bothered to verify, has made his season predictions. Mostly, T-Verd is a good writer, and I can't quibble too much with his division winner calls for this year. But then he goes and makes "surprise team" and "disappointing team" calls too:

Surprise AL team: Tampa Bay. (Last year: Cleveland. Dead on.)

Cleveland, last year, eh? Pecota had them at 90 wins. Their Pythag for 2006 was 89-73 (they finished 78-84). I guess I can't fault him for being right, but it sort of seems like it was an easy prediction. Maybe I'm being picky.

Disappointing AL team: Chicago. (Last year: Toronto. Good call; 83 wins and a non-factor.) The White Sox have much too far to go to make up ground on Detroit and Cleveland. This team lost 90 games last year, was outscored by 146 runs and is staring smack in the face of aging issues. They might not be as bad as last year, but so what?

Ooooookay. I call bullish. Wouldn't a team have to have some expectation of success to be a potential disappointment? As Verdukes says himself, they were bad last year and are one year creakier now. They won 72 games last year, and are bringing in a couple good-not-great hitters in Orlando Cabrera and Nick Swisher. Pecota has them at 77-85 this year. Some reknowned author said of the AL Central "I don't see much separation between the other three clubs: Chicago, Kansas City and Minnesota." All this indicates that a .500 finish is probably asking too much. So what exactly will they need to do to disappoint? 100 losses?

I'm rambling. The point is, this call was made so that next year, after the White Sox win 74 games, Tom can say "Dead On." like he was the only man on the planet who didn't have them winning 93 games.

Disappointing NL team: Houston. (Last year: San Francisco. Dead on.) I like the unorthodox style and production from Hunter Pence, and the Astros may score a few more runs, but I just don't see enough pitching on hand here.

Same deal. Nobody expects anything of Houston, so how can they disappoint?

In conclusion: wheeeee, baseball's here.

And now onto the heart of Bill Simmons's horribly flawed argument that I am for some reason taking seriously...

I said I'd conclude it, and damn it if I'm not going to. There are a few more ridiculous Simmons-isms that deserve the requisite mockery, but like I said in the other post, I think parts of this are worth seriously engaging with. Eh, it's worth trying just this once.

That's why I'm losing hope. Only two classic sports movies have been released in the past 10 years: Rounders and Friday Night Lights. Now, you're probably saying, "Wait, Million Dollar Baby won an Oscar, everyone loved Remember the Titans and Seabiscuit, Miracle and The Rookie were good, and Cinderella Man was well received. How can you say it's been a bad decade for sports movies?"

I definitely think he's selling Miracle short here. Also, I'm shocked Rounders isn't more than ten years old (a release date of September 1998 means it just counts, but only just). Since I know how he feels about Raging Bull (it isn't a good sports movie because it's too depressing to watch more than once), I think I know what the deal is with Million Dollar Baby. Hell, I've been struggling for awhile regarding how I feel about that movie (I'm going to go with powerful but seriously flawed, I think). Remember the Titans is discussed later, although he never does deal with Seabiscuit or Cinderella Man again.

But then, none of that is tremendously important, because what Bill thinks I was saying wasn't what I was saying at all. I was actually saying this: "What are your criteria that led you to this conclusion?" You know, because I'm a scientist and stuff.

Because standards for sports movies are different.

For the record, I'm already not on board with this argument at all. But let's hear it out.

It's not about seeing it that first time; it's about the 10th time, the 15th and the 25th.

This is true of lots of movies. I imagine most people would say there are at least two types of "good" movie; those that are of superior artistic quality and those that are just really fun to watch, with the best movies being those that combine both of these aspects. I'd say The Departed did that pretty well, as do a lot of the Coen Brothers movies. Also Predator, which I will defend to my dying day as a legitimately great film. That's right: FILM. Not a movie, a film. Oh, and if you think that was just my flimsy excuse for linking to that Predator rap video...well, you're absolutely right.

What Bill is really just getting at is how some movies are mostly just entertaining, and for some reason he believes this is especially true of sports movies, a conclusion that I just don't see at all. After all, what's the movie that ultimately led to Semi-Pro, which was the basis for this column in the first place? That's right, Anchorman, which isn't a sports movie. It simply isn't, even if it follows some aspects of the sports movie formula. And what about one of Bill's most frequently cited examples of an endlessly rewatchable movie, Boogie Nights? That's not about sports. It's about fucking. For money. Which, last time I checked, is not a sport. And believe me, I check regularly.

And of everything from the past 10 years, only Rounders and FNL pass the test.

Irritating Bill Simmons habit #42: making up a bullshit test, deciding what passes said test, and then passing this off as sacrosanct. Larry B over at FireJay once deconstructed this in great and awesome detail, but it bears pointing out here as well. Bill is basing the rest of his argument on a set of postulates that he's just making the fuck up. Would it be so hard for the occasional "In my opinion" or "As far as I'm concerned"? Or at least Bill could make it clear he doesn't think his opinions are facts. At least, I hope he understands that.

(Million Dollar Baby may have been great, but as with Raging Bull, one viewing is more than enough.)

Told you.

There's a reason Spike and TNT keep showing Rocky marathons, right? Rocky III is your buddy. You've already seen the Thunderlips scene 935 times, but if it came on right now, you'd go for 936. Be honest.

Honestly? Well, honestly, I don't have cable at the moment, but even though I've had cable for most of my life, I've only seen Rocky III once. I mean, I liked it plenty and all, and I'd probably watch it if I randomly found it on TV. Well, unless I had other stuff to do. You know, like blogging.

Irritating Bill Simmons habit #644: Assuming his life is representative of everyone else's.

Irritating Archie Micklewhite habit #38: Sticking incredibly obscure references into everything, including the numbers of the irritating habits.

Irritating Archie Micklewhite habit #56: Trying to excuse his faults by calling attention to them, hence being meta and thus above criticism.

Irritating Archie Micklewhite habit #498: Beating jokes to death. Also being really wordy. I mean incredibly, just unbelievably wordy and mostly the complete and utter opposite of concise. You know...meta.

Same for Reg Dunlop unleashing the Hansons or Jimmy Chitwood finally joining Hickory High or Terence Mann stopping Ray Kinsella's van by yelling "Moonlight Graham!"

What about that that one scene in Cool Runnings where John Candy goes into that Olympic meeting and gets the Jamaicans reinstated? Doesn't that make the cut? Doesn't it!?

American Flyers was on cable recently. I've seen it 15 to 20 times and own it on DVD. It was going against a full slate of college hoops and NBA on a Sunday afternoon. You know what? I went with Costner and his brother trying to win Hell of the West again. I knew they weren't gonna let me down.

It's official: Bill Simmons is a fucking moron and possibly not a real sports fan. Although since I absolutely detest people condescendingly deciding what "real" sports fans are, I'm leaving that second part alone. But seriously...that's just fucking ridiculous.

See, sports movies fill a void created by the real sports world. So many times we are disappointed by a game, a player, a team, a playoffs.

I agree, there's a lot of disappointment and underwhelming play out there in sports. But as far as I'm concerned, there's only one thing that can fill that void Bill speaks of, and it's the real sports world itself. The Boise State Fiesta Bowl makes up for a hundred, maybe even a thousand Georgia-Hawaii debacles. And then there's George Mason's run to the Final Four, Golden State last year, even Boston coming back from 3-0 down (you know, before it became de rigueur to fucking hate those obnoxious Boston pricks). Hell, it took just one unforgettable drive by Eli and company to make up for what had been a pretty uninspiring Super Bowl.

What makes all of those great is that, to varying degrees, they simply couldn't be scripted. Well, they could, but some of those (especially Boise State and George Mason) would be just too unbelievable, even by modern sports movie standards. It's the authenticity, the fact that you have to believe it because it really honest-to-goodness happened that makes them so magical. And that's why, at least in my somewhat humble opinion, sports movies are never going to be able to replace actual sports in that particular capacity.

But with rewatchably good sports movies, we're always in control. Louden Swain is always going to pin Shute. The Good Nazi will always stand up after Pelé nails that bicycle kick. Carl Spackler's "Cinderella story" will always be funny. Roy Hobbs' final homer will always shatter the lights. And Costner's wimpy brother will always beat the Cannibal by one second as Costner cheers him on with a porn mustache.

Which means they're...entertaining. But not anything transcendent, which I think is what Bill is trying to argue. I'm sorry, I'm just not buying that. And I say that as a guy who fucking loves the likes of The Highlander and Con Air. Also random clips of The Wicker Man remake. And there goes another link...

But the industry has dipped so far that I'll let a movie slide if only a piece of it is worth watching. You need to pop two Dramamine to watch most of Any Given Sunday, but I'll always stick it out long enough to see Steamin' Willie Beamen and Pacino's locker room speech. That's how easy I am.

In other words, Bill Simmons is not a person I should take seriously when it comes to movies. Seriously, even in his chosen field of expertise, he openly admits he has no standards. Almost makes me think I'm wasting my time dealing with any of this.


You can reel me in with one quality character, a few football scenes and a single goose-bumps speech. Doesn't take much. And say what you want about Sunday, but at least it takes chances.

And fails. Fails spectacularly.

That's what we've been missing the past 10 years, as sports movies have shifted from "rewatchably good" to "predictably good." I blame Titans for this trend; after it earned a surprising $114 million, inspirational, semisappy, "based on a true story" copycats like Miracle, We Are Marshall, Pride, Coach Carter, Radio, Gridiron Gang, The Rookie and Invincible quickly followed.

Is this maybe just a little bit of a massive oversimplification? You know, just a tad?

I enjoyed each of those flicks to varying degrees, but whenever they pop up on cable, I've already got the remote in hand.

Is it just me, or does Bill Simmons watch an ungodly amount of cable?

Same for slapstick farces (Dodgeball, The Benchwarmers, any Ferrell movie); inexplicable remakes like Bad News Bears, Rollerball and The Longest Yard; and any of the pseudo remakes—and that "based on true events" thing doesn't get them a pass in my book—in which a white cast is exchanged for a black cast (like in Glory Road and Hard Ball).

I believe here is where I could take a completely unprovoked potshot at the state of Boston race relations. But I'm better than that. Not a lot better, but better.

Where does that leave us? I think we're headed for a grisly decade of indefensible remakes (like the bone-chilling news that someone is redoing The Jericho Mile),

Yes, bone-chilling. What's The Jericho Mile? Let's see...huh, no Wikipedia entry. Maybe IMDB...ah, here we go. Yeah, OK, fine, bone-chilling, whatever.

formulaic farces ("Mike Myers as a wacky British boxing champ!")

I'm pretty sure Mike Myers is too busy systematically alienating every organized religion to have time for another exploration of British stereotypes. Although I hear his latest about Shintoism is going to be tremendous. He's got this bit about the Four Affirmations that'll just have you in stitches.

and dozens of based-on-a-true-story sapfests flying off some assembly line (don't be shocked if five Jason McElwain movies are released simultaneously).

I'd be a little shocked, because I would have imagined one studio would have negotiated exclusive rights to his story. You know, because that's how movies work.

Maybe you'll see a couple of indies succeed like Bend It Like Beckham did, and the inevitable Rounders sequel may work.

How the hell is a Rounders sequel inevitable? Matt Damon is the most bankable star in the world, and Edward Norton is busy fucking up the Hulk franchise in ways Ang Lee could never have even imagined. There's almost no conceivable way either of those guys are returning for a sequel. Throw in the fact that poker is at least a couple years past its sell-by date and I have no idea how he's pulling that "fact" out of his ass. Unless we're talking a Slap Shot II type sequel here, with a complete unknown trying to echo Paul Newman.

I'd settle for two more original, well-written, well-acted efforts along the lines of Jerry Maguire and Love & Basketball, as well as three or four more unassuming, entertaining, we're-not-gunning-for- an-Oscar-here flicks like Varsity Blues. But I'm not keeping my hopes up.

Wait, how did Varsity Blues not make the list of "rewatchable films of the last ten years"? That came out a year after Rounders, Bill. It's little logical inconsistencies like that that keep people from taking you seriously. Well, that and pretty literally everything else.

Could the genre of the rewatchable sports movie simply be played out?

Almost certain that's not a genre.

Every idea has been done and redone. Every sport has a defining movie except, oddly, tennis. (Uh-oh, the monster's out of the cage.)

What, Wimbledon not doing it for you? Although I think you could make one hell of an argument for Match Point if you were so inclined.

Every new movie will be forced to compete against the ghosts of old ones that live on in the cable universe. (Inevitably, they will lose.) your mind they will have to do this. Other people - saner, more sensible people - might be capable of actually judging films on their own merits.

And since they're still making money with the Mad Libs formula, it's not as if Hollywood will stop anytime soon.

Well, we've definitely entered the diminishing returns phase. I think we're going to see a shift in the formula within the next five years or so. Although the thing about Bill's "Mad Libs formula" is that, as long as a movie can be described in four relatively unconnected words, it can be claimed it was made using that formula. So, you know, like every movie ever made. Consider!

Casablanca: War! Morocco! Regret! Visas!

Taxi Driver: Cabbies! Prostitution! Sociopaths! Gubernatorial!

Metropolis: Allegory! Androids! Classes! Striptease!

What, you don't believe me? Take a look...

Anyway, the point is that Bill has not only made up a bullshit theory, but also one that happens to encompass everything. So it's doubly unfalsifiable. That is some seriously stinky shit right there.

Fortunately, there's hope. Reincarnated as a TV show, FNL resonated with viewers like no sports movie in the 21st century has. Characters evolved; story lines meant something; game scenes compared well with those in movies; and, even better, people cared. It's also a surprisingly rewatchable show. On my cable system, we have a channel called Universal HD, and I find myself getting sucked into episodes I've already seen. I even watched the one about Lyla Garrity's slam page twice in three days.

Ratings for Friday Night Lights: fucking terrible. Not that that's an indicator of quality or anything - as a huge fan of Firefly, I know that as well as anybody else - but if Bill is arguing this is the future for populist sports entertainment, he is barking up about the wrongest tree imaginable. Like so wrong that it's not even a tree at all, it's some sort of monster truck or something.

So maybe that's where we're headed. Sports movies will continue to produce profits and fill a void, but the payoff for our emotional investment will be in complicated series like FNL.

Right, but the problem is, Friday Night Lights is not at all popular. I mean so not popular that an NBC exec basically apologized that there was no way around canceling a show that a small number of people passionately love. There's nothing wrong with that I guess, except that there's almost no way a show like Friday Night Lights is sustainable. That's the big problem for Bill's schemes; none of these shows he wants would likely be able to last more than a season or two.

Thoughtful, carefully crafted shows about a minor league baseball team, a college football team and an inner-city high school basketball team could work just as well, right?

Probably, although I'd guess they'd likely be less popular than a show about high school football. Well, maybe not the college football show, but otherwise? Man, if Friday Night Lights isn't getting traction, what chance do they have? I mean, unless Showtime feels like making one of these, in which case I'm pretty sure ratings don't matter. If anything, they're to be actively avoided to help maintain the niche market.

Maybe they'd work so well, we'd want to watch the episodes more than once. It's a pipe dream, but it's better than nothing.

And it's certainly better than paying $10 to see Semi-Pro.

I'll give Bill this: he knows how to end a column. I wish I did. But I don't. Nope. Uh uh. It gets kinda awkward and then I just finish. Like that. Yep.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

An open response to Bill Simmons on something that has almost nothing to do with sports...

Every once in awhile, I like to go off-topic. For instance, when Mitch Albom saw fit to grace us with his reasons why all movies suck unless they're saccharine melodramas, I took great pleasure in ripping the shit out of him. This is because if there's one thing I love more than sports, it's movies, which was probably evidenced by the truly heroic amount of YouTube clips I embed. You see, I love all sorts of movies, like Eastern Promises'm going to go with the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Jim Belushi buddy cop classic Red Heat. Basically, if a movie involves people pretending to be Russian, I'm on board with it. Needless to say, the more hilariously terrible, the better:

Another sports blogger (yeah, fuck it, I'm calling him a blogger) who loves him some movies is Bill Simmons, a guy I previously haven't seen fit to deal with. I'm not really sure why; certainly, the FireJay guys do such an excellent job ripping him a new one that I generally feel I've got nothing of value to add. Indeed, there have been a couple times when I felt like mocking Simmons, but I trusted them to do a better job, and I haven't been disappointed. Either way, this piece by Simmons isn't really about sports but instead about sports movies, and I'd like to grapple with it. I'm not saying he's necessarily completely wrong, but I think he's started the first half of a dialogue, and so now allow me to retort...

I love Will Ferrell. I love hoops. I loved the ABA. I love laughing. On paper, Semi-Pro should have been right in my wheelhouse.

"I love laughing"? What is this guy, a banal personal ad? Otherwise known as every personal ad ever written? Sorry, that wasn't fair. I'm trying to actually engage with him here. Old habits die hard and all that.


I chuckled four times, if that. To tell you the truth, I spent most of its 90 minutes depressed—not just that Ferrell made such a predictable farce that ripped off three of his previous movies (Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory), but that Hollywood has managed to transform the sports-movie genre into such a shameless, formulaic machine.

Is it really only three? I could have sworn he'll pulled this shit more often than that. What about Kicking & Screaming? Nah, that's kinda different. Also, for the record, I think part of the reason why Anchorman worked as well as it did is that it isn't a sports movie. I mean, it follows the formula, but outside the occasional knife fight, there really isn't any, you know, sports in there. I actually think part of the reason why Talladega Nights worked way less well is that the sports formula is way less interesting when actually applied to sports. Oh, and also that it never gelled into a cohesive whole and a ton of really funny supporting performances were wasted. Especially John C. Reilly, although I also thought Gary Cole was pretty brilliant. Point is, Talladega Nights came across as really lazy and disorganized.

Just find a star for the movie poster and ads, follow the underdog formula, decide on a direction (inspirational or funny), rehash a plot we've seen 45 times already, and you're good to go.

That's true enough, although if Hot Rod's Andy Samberg is now a "star", then I'm a "respected blogger."

In a review of Gridiron Gang two years ago, I wrote that sports movies had become a high-stakes game of Mad Libs: Any studio exec could buy 300 index cards, write one word or phrase on each (either a sport, plot, scenario, famous star or another movie to rip off), stick the cards in a jar, shake it, pull out four cards and—presto!—instant sports movie. In fact, I'm convinced this is how Semi-Pro got made. Ferrell … hoops … slapstick … '70s.

Then they're really lucky they actually pulled out one with an actor on it. You'd think with 300 cards they'd pull out a ton of instant movies without cast members, what with there only being about twenty or so familiar faces you see in these films. Although that might explain Paramount's Footballs Fighting with Women's Rights on a Rainbow. And I thought they were trying to be artistic! Once again, silly me...

Green light.

That's an entire paragraph. C'mon Simmons, don't go Plaschke on us now.

The good news: Despite a big marketing campaign, smart casting and a surprisingly big budget of $57 million, Semi-Pro tanked at the box office, making just $15 million its opening weekend. The bad news: By the time its international run ends, its soundtrack stops selling, its cable rights are sold and its DVDs and Blu-rays have hit stores ("With two hours of deleted scenes and an alternate ending!"), Semi-Pro will have made New Line boatloads of money. Even though it kinda sucked.

I want to break this down a little more carefully, because I'm almost certain Bill did no research when he made any of these claims, which pisses me off because his basic point is essentially valid. Let's dig a little deeper.

a surprisingly big budget of $57 million

Anchorman: $26 million
Talladega Nights: $72.5 million
Blades of Glory: $61 million

I'm being really charitable by even including Anchorman, which was budgeted before it was established Will Ferrell was a box office draw. Semi-Pro was actually cheaper than either of his two other follow-ups. So I'm not sure where Bill is pulling "surprisingly big" from. It sounds about right, maybe even a slight reduction.

By the time its international run ends

Comedies historically perform very weakly overseas, and Will Ferrell movies are no exception. Of the $163,213,377 Talladega Nights made, all but $15 million of that was domestic. Only a little over $5 million of Anchorman's's $89,366,354 gross was outside the United States. Blades of Glory was the most robust internationally (something to do with figure skating?), making $26 million of the film's $144,803,273 total. So yeah, if Semi-Pro couldn't gain traction in the US, there's no fucking way Belgium is bailing it out.

its soundtrack stops selling

Current Amazon sales rank: #10,416 among CDs. Maybe if we were talking Across the Universe, Once, or even August fucking Rush this might be a legitimate point, but I don't think so. Also, I realize the Semi-Pro CD hasn't been out for very long, but if you think that baby is climbing over 10,000 spots in the next week or so...well, sir, you and I have a slight disagreement, I guess.

its DVDs and Blu-rays have hit stores ("With two hours of deleted scenes and an alternate ending!")

OK, this is a more legit point. Those certainly do make a ton of money, but judging by Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory, only about half the overall gross. So unless Semi-Pro is destined for Mike Judge level cult status (Idiocracy, anyone?), this also isn't going to much help a film that has already dropped out of the top 10 at the box office and has barely passed 30 million.

Semi-Pro will have made New Line boatloads of money. Even though it kinda sucked.

From what I've heard, it straight up sucked. But more importantly, I totally disagree that it's going to make "boatloads of money." I'm not sure what the advertising budget actually was, but if it's even $10 million I'm honestly not sure Semi-Pro will even be able to break even. At most, it's going to net five, maybe ten million. At most. I say that based on some research. Not great research, maybe, but this isn't a fucking term paper. Although if you want me to cite my sources, here you go.

There's more to this article, but my legal counsel (Fire Everybody's resident law student Djmmm) has advised me to shorten my posts so that people don't have to commit half an hour to reading them. Which I guess is fair enough...I guess. In any case, this presents a natural stopping point, as that pretty much concludes the "Bill Simmons is terrible at analyzing the box office" portion of the article. The next part is the "Bill has weird opinions about sports movies which he irritatingly treats as gospel truth", which I will deal with tomorrow.

To be concluded...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

52 52 52 Week #5: Louisiana

In which I examine crappy local sports journalism on a state-by-state basis, progressing through the states in terms of an alphabetical ordering of the heights of their tallest points. Because I can.

Anyway, with that rambling preamble out of the way (which I guess I should have saved for the New Jersey edition of 52 52 52, but fuck it, too late now), to business. Your state this week is Louisiana. Your highpoint is Driskill Mountain at 535 feet. These are your fast facts:

1. Wikipedia stresses Driskill Mountain is the highest natural summit in Louisiana. It also says Driskill Mountain is sometimes known as "Mount Driskill." Honestly? I think they've all got something to hide. Remember: you can't spell "Driskill" without "kill." And "skill", for that matter. Skill at killing!

2. Its summit is made out of nonmarine quartz. Nonmarine, huh? I'm guessing Matt Ufford does NOT approve.

3. The mountain is named after James Driskill, who moved there with his family in 1859. Many of his descendants still live in the area, although his son James B. Driskill did mysteriously disappear after leaving to go fight in the Civil War. My guess? The fucking mountain got him. IT'S RIGHT THERE IN THE NAME!!!

The featured newspaper this week is the delightfully small Shreveport Times, which actually got renamed to just the Times when people realized that, if you were reading the damn thing in the first place, there probably weren't any other newspapers you were perusing. Put it this way: Wikipedia doesn't mention its circulation, but does describe its distribution as "12 parishes in Northwest Louisiana and three counties in east Texas." That truly puts the "local" in "shitty local journalism." The "shitty" part is provided by Scott Ferrell, who has some utterly pointless stuff to say about LSU running back Jacob Hester.

On a bright, spring Saturday morning, Jacob Hester drove to Reeves Marine's Tiger Island in Bossier City for an autograph signing.

"When I drove over the bridge," Hester said, "I was amazed. I really was. I was like, 'Golly.' It took my breath."

People actually say "golly" to themselves? Gee whiz, hepcat, I woulda thought only ankle-biters would use lingo that far 86ed. Or something. My points, I think, is that "golly" is no longer 23 skidoo. Not 23 skidoo at all.

Also, at this point, the only stated reason for Hester's momentary asphyxiation is the experience of driving over a bridge. And since the bridge in question isn't the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, I don't think that's going to be good enough.

The sight of cars outside of Reeves Marine was just the start. People began lining up for his autograph at 8:15 a.m. The signing wasn't scheduled to begin until 11 a.m.

Wow, he must be pretty popular there! It's truly amazing that a guy who helped LSU win a national championship would be popular in Louisiana!

The folks at Reeves Marine estimated more than 1,000 people came and paid $25 for an autograph from Hester, the former LSU star running back.

That $25,000 have better have been going to a good cause. Because otherwise I'm calling total bullshit on the feel-good quotient of this article. Since Scott Ferrell doesn't actually ever say where that money went to, I'm going to assume it's currently funding terrorism. At least, I think that's what I'm supposed to take away from this:

Hey, if the government says it, it must be true, right?

That's more people than came to get an autograph from quarterback Matt Flynn a couple of weeks ago — and Flynn had an extra hour of signing.

Right, but Matt Flynn signs stuff really slowly. It's true - his three autographs per minute is one of the key reasons scouts believe he won't make it at the next level. Matt Ryan? Twenty autographs per Cyrillic. To quote Michael Biehn in The Rock, I shit you not.

"I talked to Matt and he said he had 700," Hester said. "So I was like, 'I've got to beat you, obviously.' It's my hometown."

Oh, wait...this is Jacob Hester's hometown? Well no fucking wonder so many people showed up.

Certainly Hester's hometown status had a lot to do with the turnout for the signing.

Really...ya think!? Seriously, if I announced that I, Archie Micklewhite, would be holding a signing in my hometown, I guarantee at least three times as many people would show up than if I held it anywhere else on the planet. Admittedly, three times zero is still zero, but you get my point. An article about how a Jacob Hester autograph singing in his hometown was well-attended is pretty much the most worthless article I can imagine.

"It's been awhile since Shreveport had an LSU guy, I guess," Hester said. "Me and Chase Pittman kind of started it back over again, hopefully we'll get Shreveport connected."

But there's more to Hester's popularity than just his hometown roots.

Last chance, Ferrell. Show me why I should care.

(Strangely, that's also what I thought towards Will Ferrell after being thoroughly unimpressed by the promos for Semi-Pro. More on this later.)

He has an Everyman appeal to him.

Translation: he's white. Eh, I'm just going to go ahead an say it. Isn't "Everyman" just the college football version of "gritty"? And we all know what that's code for.

In street clothes, he doesn't look any different than the size of the people in line for his autograph.

I don't care if the fact that he's 5'10 and 220 means he's "stocky." There's no way he isn't obviously more muscular and better-built than almost anybody at a Shreveport autograph signing, especially when you consider the beer belly factor. I go to a college not known for its football prowess, but the football players still all look like they're chiseled from granite. But then again, he is white.

He is strong, but not the strongest. He is fast, but not fastest.

This is so close to saying he's only around because of hustle and grittiness and putting in 110 percent that I can barely stand it. Don't be a grit-tease, Scott Ferrell.

Yet he may have been college football's best clutch performer last year. There may not have been a running back get more crucial yardage than Hester did last year in LSU's championship season.

Fucking "clutch", man? It's like Scott Ferrell has assimilated every Eckstein article ever written and just applying it to Jacob Hester. Also, there were four other dudes in the running back rotation. Hester certainly got a ton of yards, but I'm going to need a little more evidence for his singular worth than "There may not have been a running back get more crucial yardage." Honestly, can we just ban hack sportswriters from using the construction "There may not have been"? It's the easiest way to make an unprovable statement without technically being able to be called on it. After all, he didn't say he did. Just that there may not have been anyone else! Fuck, this is confusing just trying to write about.

His performance and production endeared him to LSU fans.

Also: his whiteness. And if you think I'm being unfair towards LSU fans,'re absolutely right. I'm sure most LSU fans don't give two shits whether or not their star running back is black or white. Although I'm equally sure that some do.

Yet when the NFL Draft takes place next month, Hester will likely go in the later rounds and be drafted as a fullback.

Man, if only those scouts saw just how long a line he could command at a hometown signing, he'd be first round for sure. You think Darren McFadden could pull in those sort of numbers in North Little Rock? Not very fucking likely, my friend.

Also, the Patriots should take him with their first round pick. You know why.

"Every team I've talked to has said the same thing, I could play fullback or I could be a running back on third down in pass situations, do different things, goal-line situations," Hester said. "Everybody thinks I could play both like I did in college."

How is it a knock on scouts if they're saying they could see him succeed in much the same way he did in college? Sounds like a pretty realistic assessment to me.

The reality is that Hester will likely succeed wherever he is in the NFL because of his attitude and intangibles. This is a player hungry to play in the NFL.

Better be careful he doesn't get so hungry that he eats the goalposts! I kid, of course...unless he's related to this guy.

His attitude is one of willingness to do whatever it takes.

Which differentiates him from 99.9% of football (Also, the thing that differentiates the other .1% of players is the truly absurd amount of talent that allows them the luxury to get away with not always going full blast.)

"I'll play water boy if they want me to. I don't care," Hester said.

Considering water boy isn't technically a position, I imagine you might care. Maybe just a little.

He'll work out again for scouts on Wednesday at LSU's pro day in Baton Rouge. But really, those people in line on Saturday could tell the scouts a thing or two about the importance of Hester's intangibles.

This is just brilliant. It went from silly irrelevance to hitting every imaginable cliche I could possibly hope for. Thank you, Scott Ferrell, thank you. Keep preaching the gospel of intangibles. It's like a chainsaw to my ears. A rusty, rusty chainsaw.

Those intangibles helped him win a national championship ring and a place in the hearts of LSU fans.

Also, the parts of his talent that can actually be measured by his stats, which include over a thousand yards rushing and a dozen touchdowns. I'd say that's pretty fucking tangible. Then there's the fact the rest of his team was really awesome in a statistically measurable way. Oh, and the fact that so many other teams lost, which let LSU sneak into the title game with two losses in the first place. So yeah, apart from all the tangible stuff, totally intangible.

"I don't know what it is, but it sure is a blessing to have," Hester said.

You know, I feel the same way about this article. This article is a blessing. A horrendously written blessing. Thank you, Scott Ferrell, for showing me just as surely as some insane Jersey guy that there's still plenty of work for me to do. Time for another call to arms, methinks.

Bloggers, forward...MARCH!!!

Total hearsay, but still...

Before we get to business with my latest 52 52 52 post, I'd like to relate an anecdote that will reveal how many people still rely on anecdotal evidence when discussing sports. I'll just let your head explode while you process that one.

Basically, one of the reasons why I've been so quiet lately is that I've been on break. Well, I first had to deal with about 96 hours of pre-break craziness just so that I'd actually be in some position to take a few days off. Since this is not meant to ever be an autobiographical blog, I won't engage in any silly "woe is me" theatrics, except to was just before spring break, and I was exhausted. In any event, I've also been taking it sort of easy while I've been on break, which admittedly has pretty much taken the form of hanging out in my parents' basement. Yes, you read that right: I've been blogging less because I'm now spending most of my time in my parents' basement. If that first one didn't completely blow your mind, I'm sure that one did.

Anyway, while I was watching my brother's lacrosse game the other day (my bro is New Jersey Pride goalie Rob Scherr of Major League Lacrosse...or perhaps I've said too much) I had the misfortune of sitting in front of pretty much the platonic ideal of a Jersey guy.

First, he observed another guy was wearing an old Astros cap, which he for absolutely no obvious reason identified as the hat "Cesar Cedeno wore when he played centerfield." Which might suggest the guy knew his sports, considering his knowledge of the Astros outfield in the 1970s, but it's worth pointing out this was the hat the guy was wearing:

So, uh...not exactly. Not exactly AT ALL. In any case, the guy then got onto his massive theory for why the Knicks are terrible, which can be summarized thusly:

1. When players get 110-120 million in their savings accounts, they stop getting the adrenaline they once had when they didn't have anything in their savings accounts
2. This makes them "not true athletes", with athletes pronounced with a couple extra syllables ("ath-uh-lete-eez" is my best approximation, but obviously this guy's language was never meant to be written down)
3. Guys like Kobe Bryant (or, as he identified him, "that guy in LA", which indicates a level of basketball ignorance even worse that, say, my mom's) is a true athlete because whenever he steps on the floor "he gets a rush of adrenaline that makes him want to win"
4. When's the last time you ever saw Stephon Marbury ("Steffy") dive for a loose ball?
5. The reason you don't see this is that Stephon Marbury is too busy taking helicopters to Connecticut for dinner, which apparently is the Jersey conception of true opulence and wealth

Isaiah Thomas figured surprisingly little in all this, because apparently "he knows basketball." I imagine that may involve him having a small savings account and no helicopters.

It's true what they say...

J.A. Adande is a total moron. Sorry, total fucking moron. Don't worry folks, my absence hasn't changed me one iota. Fuck damn hell ass iota. I believe you'll find that expression in the heliocentric writings of Aristarchus of Samos. Well, you would, if they had survived to the present day. But hey, who doesn't know his only extant work is On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon, which actually has a geocentric view? I mean, come ON!!!

OK, now that I've definitely established it's really me and I haven't been replaced by some other equally anonymous blogger, we can get to business, which is: J.A. Adande is a total moron.

For an award as subjective as most valuable player, sometimes you need to rely less on statistical analysis and more on visceral feelings.

Throw that one up on the "Dunderheaded Anti-Stats Sentiments" Mount Rushmore, right next to Dusty Baker talking about base clogging, Joe Morgan explaining he hasn't read Moneyball because you have to have played the game to be able to say anything about it, and Teddy Roosevelt. Turns out TR hated stats with a vengeance. You know the real reason he almost banned football back in the early 1900s? Too many of the owners were reading Football Outsiders, it turns out.

Seriously, to say the best way to deal with a subjective award is to ignore stats and rely purely on something like feelings...fuck, this is going to get worse before it gets better. And not just "feelings", mind you...fucking visceral feelings. I'm pretty sure Adande picked Hostel II for best picture. Kids still like Hostel II, right? I'm still hip, yes?

The numbers say LeBron James should be the NBA's MVP. The standard definition of the best player on the best team leads you to Kevin Garnett. But there are times when the MVP award is captured in a moment. And no one does moments like Kobe Bryant.

I took a look at the numbers on Basketball Reference, and pretty much every stat points towards LeBron. He has scored the most point, got the highest Player Efficiency Rating, and when you throw in his assists and rebounds, well...all stats point toward LeBron, is all I'm saying. I think there's possibly room for more than just stats in this discussion, particularly because there are way more statistical gray areas in a fluid sport like basketball than there are in baseball. Not large enough to throw out all existing data, but enough to go a little beyond the stats in determining the MVP, which is, as Adande points out, a tad subjective to begin with. OK, that's me being reasonable. Now here's me being unreasonable...

MOMENTS?! That's your MVP argument, Adande? You believe Kobe Bryant is the best player in the league based on what can literally be defined as infinitesimal bits of time? The smallest sample size imaginable? I mean, a player might only average two minutes a game, but all of those two minutes are crazy blocks, clutch threes, and highlight dunks. That guy might as well be called Pure Moment, Adande, but is he the MVP? Put it another the bastard three-way child of Marcus Camby, Robert Horry, and Harold Miner the MVP? Didn't think so. Also, if any commenters would like to speculate on who or what such a child would be, do be my guest.

Harold Miner? Huh...what a dated reference.

He had two more of them Thursday night. Not the super-dramatic, clock-running-down, how-did-he-make-that-shot moments. Just the type of things MVPs do.

So these are moments that...aren't even really "moments" in the "this shit is exciting!" sense? They're just "moments" in the ultra-literal "time elapsed here" sense? Also, if you're so insistent that this is the stuff MVPs are made of - indeed, judging by the "just", you're arguing they're the foundation, the building blocks - shouldn't Kobe have had more than two of these apparently mundane MVP-ish moments in his game?

It started after a 3-pointer (and a free throw) by Deron Williams cut what had been a game-long cushy Los Angeles Lakers lead down to eight points with less than four minutes to go in the game.

I'm already memorizing this to tell it to my grandkids. I'm kidding, of course...there's no way in hell I'm ever procreating. And even if I did, I'm pretty sure the events of Children of Men would have kicked in by the time it came for my kids to spawn.

The Utah Jazz were playing zone defense. But either some of them didn't realize it or Kobe refused to acknowledge it, because you're not supposed to do what he did against a zone: He blew by his man in 3-point territory and got all the way to the basket for an uninterrupted dunk. (Too late, Andrei Kirilenko.)

So...he made a smart move and drove to the basket for a dunk? Good play and all - hell, maybe if I saw it, I'd upgrade it to "great"...but that's what makes Kobe an MVP? For goodness sake, Adande, if you're going to rely on anecdotal evidence, you should at least have the common decency to make it a good anecdote.

On the Jazz's next possession, they lost the ball and it wound up in Bryant's hands. These things have a way of happening to the best players, the same way the puck always seemed to find its way to Mario Lemieux's stick. Bryant started on a 3-on-1 fast break and pulled off a move straight from the old "Magic Johnson -- Always Showtime" video. Bryant jumped in the air, looked left at Sasha Vujacic, then dished the ball to Luke Walton on his right. Kirilenko spent the entire time with his back to the ball, without a clue as to what was going to happen next.

Oh those crazy, patehtic Europeans - why do they think they can be good at basketball? They should all go and play putzes!!! Ha ha, casual xenophobia is the best.

Just like that, the ballgame was decided.

It doesn't even sound like the Lakers scored a point. Or are they giving a seventy-point bonus for "crazy no look passes to Bill Walton's kid" these days? Because sure, then the ballgame probably would be decided.

The MVP race isn't quite as finalized.

Most definitely not. There's the three you already mentioned - LeBron, Kobe, and KG - and a fourth that you damn well better mention. I'll give you a chance to do so, Adande, but you better explore the other major legitimate candidate before all this is through. (I'll give you a hint - second in PER, first in win shares, tied for first in assists per game, keeping his team right up there in one of the toughest conference races ever seen...)

I had been leaning toward LeBron and his 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game. But then the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped back-to-back games to the New Jersey Nets and the Washington Wizards, putting a serious dent in their chances of getting 50 victories.

Dude, if two losses significantly affects your chances of getting to fifty probably weren't going to win fifty anyway.

Now they have to win 11 of their last 13 games to get to a mark every MVP has reached after Moses Malone won the award with a 46-36 Houston Rockets team in 1982. (That doesn't include Karl Malone in the lockout-shortened 1999 season.)

They would have had to win 9 of their last 13 if they'd won both games. Still a kinda tall order. But honestly, what the fuck is the difference between a 51-win team and a 49-win team? Also, have you considered Cleveland's roster? I'd mention their schedule, but obviously they play all their games in the CBA, which for some strange reason has exchanged all its teams this year with those in the Eastern Conference. At least, I assume that's why all the teams suck so much; I haven't really been paying attention. Point is, that is the dumbest reason imaginable for saying LeBron is no longer a legit MVP candidate.

Then again, the Cavs might be closer to 50 wins if they hadn't lost all six games James missed with injuries. With him in the lineup, they beat the Boston Celtics and Lakers twice, and the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons.

You also could just cut out the whole fifty win fixation and just realize that that stat, small sample size though it may be, suggests just how crucial or, you know, valuable LeBron is to the Cavaliers.

It's the old with-and-without argument. You know, the same one that was used against Garnett after the Celtics went 7-2 while he was injured. But that doesn't take into account the tone Garnett set for this team back during summer workouts or the 30-4 start that turned potential into reality. Or the sweep of the Texas teams the Celtics just completed. Boston has the best record in the league, and don't dismiss it as the luck of playing in the Eastern Conference. It actually has a higher winning percentage against the West than it does against the East. we be blaming LeBron for not instilling the right attitude in the Cavs to keep winning when he's not around? I'm just trying to keep track of which bit of bullshit basketball wisdom I should be buying into here.

But you know what's missing from Garnett's highlight package? The big shots. When you loop Celtics video, you see clutch jumpers by Ray Allen and new addition Sam Cassell. As a Celtic described it to me earlier in the season, Garnett is happy to let others do the scoring. That frees him to focus on defense and rebounding. There's value to that, too. Someone who values those things is valuable.

This is like one of those essays a high schooler writes when he's not sure what his thesis is; he throws in all the evidence he can and tries to argue the other side but then sorta realizes the other side actually makes more sense, but since it's too late to rewrite the paper and he's got to finish in thirty minutes he just sort of keeps writing, hoping the teacher won't notice that he's actually arguing every side. Or something like that, except my analogy implies J.A. Adande can write at a high school level. Honestly, how is the fact that Kevin Garnett likes to rebound and play defense - you know, all the intangible shit that hacks like Adande should lap up - a knock against him?

But at some point, an MVP should decide games with the ball in his hands. He should master the moment.

Look, Adande, if you just want to write about how Kobe should be the MVP, just fucking do so. We all know you're a shameless homer anyway, so nobody cares. But why the hell do you have to be a total dick to Kevin Garnett? Why do you have to make up bullshit reasons why KG isn't awesome in order to somehow "prove" Kobe is the MVP?

LeBron has shown an increasing ability to do that. It started in Detroit in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals last year. The entire fourth quarter and overtime were an extended moment, like a movie director shooting a scene with one long camera shot (as seen in "Goodfellas" and "Kill Bill").

Yes, thank you for citing your sources. There's no way I'd ever be able to understand your incredibly lame metaphor without being reminded of where I might else have seen such a thing. Honestly, if you're going to go pop culture, at least do it Simmons-style, with the whole "Remember when Henry took Karen through that geographically unnecessary but impossibly cool trip through the kitchens in Goodfellas? Yeah...that was Kobe." Or you could just show your readers this...

What, you thought I was getting through a post without a random YouTube clip from an Orson Welles movie?

LeBron had a few more moments against the Pistons on Wednesday. He capped it off with a late 3-pointer, totally irrelevant to the game's outcome but completely germane to the burgeoning rivalry. It was his way of saying, "Take that with you. You haven't seen the last of me."

Or his way of saying, "This has scored my team three points. Since the object of a basketball game is to accumulate points, and three points it the most any player can score at one time, this is the most advantageous result possible for my team." Could have been that as well.

But Bryant's moments Thursday put the Lakers in first place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Hey, that sounds like basing your judgment on straight-up, honest-to-god winning. Where are the no-look passes to Luke Walton, Adande? WHERE ARE THE NO-LOOK PASSES!?

That's the difference … at this moment.

And that's it. All I really have left to say is...fuck you, Adande. Fuck you for writing an entire article about potential MVP candidates and not even MENTIONING Chris Paul. What a crock of shit...'s good to be back.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Bwehehehe. Someone at the AP was feeling silly today (via

Crossing bats overhead in a sacred baseball tradition, they created a tunnel for Lasorda to walk through...


In an era when spring training has become big business, this complex was more like baseball's petting zoo, where players were encouraged to chat with fans and sign their balls. To many visitors, Vero Beach was a true field of dreams.

Petting zoo? Crossing bats? "sign their balls"? Sounds more like the San Francisco Giantstown, if you get my drift.

I am homophobic.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Don't Have Much Time...

But good pal PK can't be completely ignored.

From his 10 Things I Think I Think I Think I Think I Think, non-football division:


Man, Peter had at least 13 thoughts this week. I'm impressed.

Thanks for the speedy delivery, Mrs. Dice-K.


I'm going to ASSUME he means: thanks for having your baby quickly so your husband can get back to pitching for the Red Sox. But dammit Peter, context. Can't you say one thing without sounding like a weirdo?

n. Happy St. Patrick's Day. If you're in the vicinity of Montclair, N.J., and want to experience the best real Irish place in this part of the world, go have a couple at Tierney's on Valley Road. You'll thank me around the time the second bagpiper is doing a lap of the place.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

52 52 52 Week #4: Oregon

In which I examine crappy local sports journalism on a state-by-state basis, progressing through the states in terms of an alphabetical ordering of the heights of their tallest points. Because I can.

Fresh off my triumphant victory (from two weeks ago!) as the winner of Fire Jay Mariotti's Reader Extra Participation Friday, I'm feeling like I can't let you, my beloved (and goodness I hope not non-existent) readers down by not giving you your promised 52 52 52 post. This is maybe the dumbest time management decision I've ever made, but eh...fuck it. Am I right? No, I'm very probably not. Let's just do this.

The featured state this week is Oregon, with majestic Mount Hood rising to a very manly 11,249 feet. It also is easily the most badass highpoint we've dealt with so far (yes, even more badass than Rhode Island's crazed driveway defender) for one simple reason:

1. It's a fucking volcano, which means it's the first highpoint I've dealt with that could definitely kill us all. Well, not me, because I believe basements are volcano-proof, but perhaps the damage to whichever supermarket from which my mom buys food would lead to my horrible starvation. Although there is always Netgrocer. Anyway, the odds of Mount Hood erupting in the next three decades is apparently only 3 to 7 percent, which I should point out is still 3 to 7 percent more likely than any of us spewing molten lava in the near future. Advantage Mount Hood, I'd say.

2. Mount Hood features some pretty terrific skiing, assuming you're into that sort of thing, with six different ski areas: Timberline, Mount Hood Meadows, Ski Bowl, Cooper Spur, Snow Bunny and Summit. Of course, Snow Bunny is a total piece of shit. Even so, Timberline is the only place in the US with year-round lift service, which means if you want to go snowboarding on the fourth of July and can't be fucking bothered to hike up the're in luck, you lazy slacker bum. Also, you snowboard, which probably means you're really extreme and awesome. Can you give me tips? I'm here to learn.

3. It's named after Samuel Hood, a British naval commander who attained the rank of Admiral and the title of 1st Viscount Hood, neither of which was necessarily easy to do back in 18th century Britain, especially considering he was just a vicar's son. The dude once invaded and almost conquered Corsica in the name of George III, which just sounds like it must have been awesome. Also, fucking Lord Nelson said Hood was "the greatest sea officer I ever knew." I say Michael Caine plays him in the movie. But then, I think Michael Caine should play everything, including the shark in Jaws. That's right: I am to Michael Caine as Kevin Smith is to Ben Affleck. Speaking of Michael Caine and Jaws, that reminds me...

My high school year book quote was actually Michael Caine's explanation for why he did a total shitshow like Jaws: The Revenge: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific." I hope you understand why I fucking love this man. I'll post random clips from The Man Who Would Be King every hour on the hour if I have to, don't think I won't.

Sorry, before this descends into full-fledged Michael Caine hagiography (I mean, the man did give me half of my nom de plume), let's look at this week's entrant in the field of shitty local sports journalism. The chosen sportswriter is John Canzano of The Oregonian, the paper of record for Portland with a circulation of 319,625 daily. Pretty good numbers, sure, and actually way above my stated but admittedly arbitrary figure of 200,000 that I consider the right circulation number for "small-time, local journalism", but keep in mind Oregon is full of liberal hippie paper-reading egg-and-pot-heads, so that probably inflates the circulation something fierce. Although apparently The Oregonian is actually really Republican, which by Pacific Northwest standards probably just means they're not in favor of mandatory gay marriage or the legalization of quaaludes. Am I right people?

Anyway, John Canzano has some thoughts on the Oregon State basketball team, which had lost twenty straight games going into their 87-56 drubbing at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats. You think Canzano's got an angle? Oh, you better believe he's got himself an angle. Darn tooting!

These guys will sell you on the notion that anything is possible, and they'll tell you losing streaks don't last forever, and also, they love an underdog, which is why they'll root for the Oregon State men's basketball team today in the Pacific-10 Conference tournament game against Arizona.

I wonder who these guys are. Since you didn't immediately identify them, I'm guessing it's going to be something completely unexpected. Possibly the Spanish Inquisition, since...well, you know the deal. Nobody expects it and so forth.

The Washington Generals are pulling for an upset.

Thank you. Thank you, Norse god of weird articles (I believe that would be Kvasir). Honestly, how is an article looking to the Washington Generals for serious basketball insight going to be anything other than unbelievably bizarre?


You were expecting Beaver Nation?

Not really, considering the whole "concealing your subject at the start of the article" thing. That tipped me off that there was a misdirection coming. I am an amateur magician, you know.

The Generals are in Tupelo, Miss., today where they'll play, and likely lose to, the Harlem Globetrotters. The Generals have four victories in the last 58 years, and when you ask team general manager John Ferrari what the Washington franchise's overall record is, he'll tell you, "Let me just give it to you like this: We haven't won since January 1971."

That's about 13,000 consecutive losses, people.

For that to be true, the Generals would have to play roughly 350 games a year. I actually checked the Wikipedia page on the Generals, and it looks like those losses came between 1953 and 1995, which still means they'd have to play 300 games a year. So two points...

1. I think someone might be exaggerating just how many losses this team has suffered. Where's an expert historian of the Washington Generals when we need him most?
2. John Canzano didn't even relay this probably shitty research accurately, since it isn't 13000 consecutive losses - it's 13,000 losses with six wins sandwiched in there. Big fucking difference, I know. But someone has to point it out.

Which is why the Generals say they'll root for Oregon State, which hasn't won a basketball game since Dec. 23 and is on a 20-game conference losing streak.

Now, understand, Oregon State should probably know what it's getting itself into here. There will be thousands of fans inside the Staples Center who will arrive expecting to see the Beavers take the floor, warm up, play hard in the game, but ultimately do what they've done all season -- get a bucket of the other team's confetti poured on their heads.

I clearly don't watch enough college basketball. Do teams really douse their opponents in bucketed confetti after winning a first round conference tournament game? I have no idea if that's true. Either John Canzano is a horrible, malicious liar, or the Arizona Wildcats are a bunch of dicks. Those are pretty much the only logical possibilities.

Should Oregon State somehow win the game, as the Generals did in Martin, Tenn., in 1971, the Beavers might expect things to get very quiet inside the arena. They might also expect children to cry.

This would have been due to all of Oregon State's fans being in total shock at their team's hypothetical victory, right? You're talking about tears of joy, correct? I dunno, that seems unlikely. I mean, I know they sucked and all, but I'm pretty sure their fans wouldn't have been so dejected that they couldn't have raised themselves to storm the court and celebrate wildly.

Oh, wait, you have a much shittier reason. Let's hear it.

Those who were there and saw the Generals lead that game by 12 with two minutes to play said it went silent, and children were bawling. Even as the Globetrotters rallied in the final seconds to pull within 100-99 with Meadowlark Lemon taking what would have been a game-winning shot, it was dead silent.

First of all, I know the Globetrotters are funny as hell and all (especially when playing space alien theoretical physicists on Futurama), but those children need to grow the fuck up. Which I imagine they by now have, considering that game was 37 years ago. Indeed, I'm sure most of them could kick my ass, so on second thought...CHILDREN OF 1971, IT'S OKAY TO CRY! STRONG MEN ALSO CRY...STRONG MEN ALSO CRY.

Point is, how can you not root at least a little for an upset? I know I'd root for the Generals (maybe not put money on them - whatever Krusty might think, I don't think they're due) to beat those Globetrotters. And I'm pretty sure this has nothing to do with showboating vs. non-showboating or whatever racial components may be at play here (so longtime reader Jason Whitlock, no need to send me an angry email). Either way, seeing the Generals win would be fucking sweet, and pretty much the biggest upset ever. OK, maybe not bigger than Chaminade over Virginia, but pretty damn close.

Lemon missed it.

Then, the crowd glared at the Generals.

Said then-Generals player/coach Louis "Red" Klotz, now 88: "They looked at us like we killed Santa Claus."

Right, Santa Claus was I dunno, that nerdy elf who Santa Claus always picked on or something. Or maybe - and here's where I know I can expect a pissed off email from Whitlock - like Santa Claus was killed by whatever is the personification of Kwanzaa or something. Maybe Kwanzaa-bot?

Man, this post has been Futurama-heavy. Not that I have a problem with that.

Point is, underdogs are cool. Other point is, what the hell does this have to do with the Oregon State Beavers? I mean, people were mad at the Generals because the Globetrotters are really fun and silly and, you know, always supposed to win. Much as I might like underdogs, I understand that a kid goes to a Globetrotters game to see the Globetrotters goof around and crush the competition. But how is that anything like an Arizona vs. Oregon State Pac-10 conference tourney first round game? How does that even begin to make sense as a fair comparison?

The Globetrotters blamed the loss on the timekeeper, who tried unsuccessfully to stop the clock and give Harlem another shot. Also, the Globetrotters pointed out that captain Curly Neal sat out with an injury.

Man, the Globetrotters of 1971 were dicks. Well, definitely sore losers. I guess I can't really prove they were total dicks. But that sounds like the mother of all sour grapes.

So what?

A victory is a victory, especially when you haven't won a game in decades, so the Generals slapped backs and skipped off the court amid the boos and celebrated in the locker room after the game by spraying bottles of orange soda (not champagne) all over each other.

How well does orange soda spray? My guess: not well, although I'm too damn fond of the flavor to waste that stuff finding out. And no, I would not lick it off the floor if I did in fact spray it. Well, I probably would, but I'd prefer not to find myself in that position. Frankly, there are some things about yourself you just don't want to know.

Oregon State fired coach Jay John in midseason for too many losses, and for the same reason, Klotz apparently just kept being asked back.

Another reason why this analogy makes no sense. The Oregon State Beavers are theoretically a competitive (and, to perverts, hilariously named) basketball program. The Washington Generals lose staged exhibition games to the Harlem Globetrotters for entertainment value. Of course Klotz got asked back - losing was, is, and forever will be the entire fucking point of the Washington Generals.

So maybe the Beavers, who became the first school in the Pac-10's 30-year history to go winless in league play, are distracted by the coaching search being conducted.

Which was precipitated by the firing of their coach. Because, you know, his team was fucking terrible. I'm pretty sure you may have ever so slightly mixed up cause and effect there, John.

Or maybe they're just not as talented as the rest of the conference,


but while we're trying to figure out all this losing, maybe the most important development would be the administration at Oregon State understanding that the Washington Generals are trying to teach them a lesson.

What, in gumption? Hustle? Stick-to-it-iveness? Dare I even think grittiness?

In losing.

Oh...OK. I know this article isn't supposed to be all that serious, but can you even figure out where the hell the jokes are supposed to be? I mean, there are no random reference to previously-defunct-but-now-surviving-on-direct-to-DVD-movies cartoons, so I'm obviously completely lost. But seriously, if the point of this was humor, shouldn't he have written something humorous by now? Instead of, you know, bizarre analogies between the Generals and the Beavers that make pretty much absolutely no sense if you think about it for even a second?

The Generals recruit talent that is inferior to their competition. They comb Division II and III for the best talent and find guys who are willing to travel a lot, get paid modestly, and don't mind being laughed at and dribbled around on most nights.

Uh huh. Are these supposed to be lessons for Oregon State? Because you realize a college program doesn't really recruit all that much from other colleges or pay their players, right? (OK, the pedants among you will point out transfers and the cynics among you will point out the masses of NCAA violations that certainly suggest some athletes are getting paid, but I think my basic point stands that if this is meant to be advice, it makes no fucking sense.)

The Washington Generals franchise has a formula, see. And it's successfully milked it for six decades, and while the Generals have worn different color uniforms and changed their names from the Nationals to Reds to Shamrocks to Rockets to Seagulls and back, for the most part, they've just been called losers.

Eh, I'm sure at least one of them was really good at Ms. Pac-Man or something. That's cool...right? I mean, would a loser have the Ms. Pac-Man high score at every campground arcade in the greater Northeast? I didn't think so.

What hasn't changed is the business model. And if Oregon State doesn't alter its own model, the Generals are here to tell you, the losing isn't going to stop, either.

Does this really make sense? Sure, Oregon State has had a really rough run since 1990, but they've historically been very good, with a bunch of NCAA records and the 13th most wins in collegiate history as of 2005 (for some reason, that's all Wikipedia goes up to, and I'll be damned if I'm bothering to look up the updated stat). Again, the Generals are an exhibition team that loses rigged games to make the Globetrotters look good. It's because of the Generals' business model that they lose. It's in spite of the Beavers' "business model" (if you can really call it that) that they've lost so much. That isn't just a major difference; it pretty much invalidates the entire comparison.

The practice facilities at OSU need improvement, the assistant coaches need higher pay, and the support programs need to improve. The recruiting budget needs a boost, so does the marketing budget, and also, administrators at Oregon State need to stop talking about finishing in the top half of the conference, and instead think hard about giving its program the infrastructure that top-half programs in the Pacific-10 Conference have.

What's happened at Oregon State is not an accident. It's a symptom.

Right, right, it all sucks. But they are trying to win, no matter how badly they're failing at accomplishing that. The Generals, on the other hand, are phenomenally successful at their chosen occupation of losing all the fucking time.

The Generals have lost games in all 50 states, and in Baghdad, and in a bull ring in Spain, and on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean. They've lost on all seven days of the week. And in all four seasons. And this year, the Generals are 0-50 with 62 games left on the schedule.

What is this, ultra-low-rent Doctor Seuss? I was expecting to hear about the Generals losing to the Green Eggs and Ham club any second.

Ferrari, who married Klotz's daughter and runs the Generals now, said, "We'll root for Oregon State, and I hope they'll root for us."

Here's hoping that rooting extends beyond today's game with Arizona, because if there's going to be real change at Oregon State, it's going to have to be one of mind-set.

If I understand this sentence correctly - and my interpretation is so awesome that I honestly don't really care whether I do or not - John Canzano is advocating, nay, imploring John Ferrari to use his powerful rooting-based telepathic abilities to take control of the minds of the OSU administration and athletic department in order to force them to take their program seriously. Sounds like a plan to me.

Oregon State wants to win, doesn't it?

Of course they do. They're just really fucking terrible at it.

Because it can change the coach, and the uniforms, it can re-package the program and market it to season-ticket holders, but if those in charge don't alter the factors responsible for the losing ways, basically they're the Washington Generals.

Those losers.

Nah. I'm pretty sure the Generals make money. Or, at the very least, do what they're supposed to do. Which is lose, and lose they...ah, fuck it, if you don't get the point by now, you're probably John Canzano.

(For the record, I was considering pointing out that if there is a valid comparison to make here, it's probably to this year's Miami Dolphins. But I felt this was way too unprovoked a cheap shot at Dolphins fan Djmmm for me to do. So're welcome, Djmmm.)

Oh, and on a final note, I noticed this incredible headline for an article by another one of their columnists, Bill Monroe:

Peaceful, still, we wait, sublimely a goose hunt goes

I won't bother with the whole article, but that's just too ridiculous not to check out. It's a long, lyrical look at a goose hunt, with a few choice Plaschke-esque one sentence paragraphs thrown in. Since I love taking things out of context for the purpose of a totally unfair cheap shot, I'll just reprint those. Because honestly, they're kind of hilarious, especially without any context whatsoever...

I liked the rainbow the best.

The pot of feathered gold.

Light rain sprinkled on my nose, and I pulled the flaps of the layout blind closer under my chin.


Then from my left, the single bird came into sight, wings cupped and dropping like a rock into the field decoys 30 yards out front.

My cell phone rang.

Yeah, that just about says it all. Hell, you don't even need the rest of the article, do you?