Friday, November 30, 2007

That kid hockey fight was just a tad overblown

People have been waiting for this all week. It's that hockey fight from Canada where a bunch of 8-year-olds started a massive on ice brawl that caused the cops to show up and then a riot broke out and then the world as we know it ended. At least, that's what I think happened from reading the early news reports. Since neither team would release a tape of the incident, some news outlets went a little nuts with this story.

Well, now the video is out. I was expecting at least one person, namely a sauced up parent, to have been brutally speared by a hockey stick judging by the early media reports. But as the video shows, the brawl was exactly what you'd expect a fight between 8-year-olds wearing tons of padding to be like. Fairly tame.


The Role of a Lifetime

As a Giants fan, and an illegal substances fan, I was naturally excited to learn that HBO is planning on making a Barry Bonds movie. Here's the recent press release:

HBO Films is developing a movie about embattled baseball player Barry Bonds and has tapped director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Tin Cup, White Men Can't Jump) to helm and pen the script with his Tin Cup writing partner John Norville, once the writers' strike is over.

The movie will be based on Game of Shadows, but will be focused specifically on Bonds - or at least it better be. Of course, now the question is who will play the role of the most infamous steroid user in history? That's a question I will attempt to answer here by looking at the pros and cons of a number of actors.

1. Denzel Washington
Pro: Great actor.
Must gain about 125 lbs.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Pro: Has great experience with steroid use.
Not black.

3. Forest Whitaker
Pro: Has a history of playing psychotic prima donnas.
Con: Fat.

4. The dude from the Bronx is Burning
Pro: Has played a controversial, introverted baseball superstar.
Con: I have no clue who he is.

5. Vin Diesel
Pro: Is bald and ripped.
Con: May be indicted for steroid use during filming.

6. Mike Tyson
Pro: Has same voice as Bonds.
Con: Not an actor, also might eat children.

7. Barry Bonds
Pro: Remarkable physical similarities.
Cons: Major jackass, would probaby want multi-year contract.

If they can somehow get Morgan Freeman to play Dusty Baker and William H. Macy to play Selig, I'll definitely watch it.

UPDATE: Bugs and Cranks did a great post on a potential Bonds movie cast back in August.


Friday links

As everyone who reads this site regularly knows, I'm a fan of the Olympics. Correction, I'm a fan of the Beijing Olympics, because China will do whatever it takes to make them work. Including making tasty pizzas. I don't really get what's going on here, but I'll take three.

Damn, the NFL Network is brutal. I couldn't watch the Cowboys/Packers game and now I'll miss the Pats chance to complete their perfect season (which is going to happen). [SPORTSbyBROOKS]

Smush Parker really needs those $12. [Larry Brown Sports]

Clinton Portis talk with John Thompson about Sean Taylor. [Mr. Irrelevant]

It's a huge weekend in college basketball. [Storming the Floor]

Hockey players are psychotic. [Lion in Oil]

Defending Philip Rivers for telling fans to shut up. Hey, it's better than flipping them the bird. [Rumors and Rants]

Indoor seats for an outdoor Jan. 1 hockey game? Count me in. [Going Five Hole]

Aaron Rogers isn't so happy at Brett Favre. [Throwing into Traffic]

The Soulja Boy thing is almost passe I hope. But anyway, here are the best of the Soulja Boy dances in sports. [All Balls]


Hockey goes nude

I'd have to think it'd be awful weird to see a 7 ft. tall portrait of yourself completely naked, especially considering that you never posed naked in front of an artist.

But that's exactly what's going on right now for two former Boston Bruin greats, Bobby Orr and Derek Sanderson.

Artist Kurt Kauper, who loved the Bruins growing up, currently has an exhibition going on at the Deitch Projects gallery in New York entitled, "Everybody Knew That Canadians Were The Best Hockey Players."

Anyway, as I said before, Orr and Sanderson never posed for Kauper. The artist used images from hockey trading cards and photographs to create the nude paintings. And all but one of the nude paintings has been sold.

Kauper, who has done a number of nude portraits, including some of Cary Grant, has been surprised by the reactions of some people to him and his work.

"People didn't really ask the question so much as assume that I'm gay." Kauper is straight. He lives in New York with his wife, photographer Annelizabeth Wells, and their two children.

Sanderson has no problem with the paintings.

"I just hope he's a good artist," he said.

Orr, however, hasn't said anything about the paintings. And former Bruin Brad Park, who played briefly alongside Sanderson and Orr and looked at the works online, said he "would not walk across the street to view this art."

Anyway, I think the moral of the story here is this: If you don't want to be painted nude, then it's probably best not be a public figure. So in other words, hockey players should feel pretty safe at this point.



A Joe Pa costs 1/8 of a Nick Saban, and will get you more wins

Joe Paterno may be a bit old for a coach, and he may not know what a Playstation 3 is, but considering what Penn State is paying him, that's ok. He'll do for now.

It was revealed today that Joe Pa makes only a little over $500,000 a year. While that's still a lot of money, it pales in comparison to what other big name coaches make. Alabama's Nick Saban is the highest paid coach in the land at $4 million per year - which makes me laugh every time I hear it - while Oklahoma's Bob Stoops makes over $3 million. Ohio State's Jim Tressel, Florida's Urban Meyer and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier make upward of $2 million annually. I especially like how Meyer is paid $2 million a year to literally run 6 offensive plays. A drunk monkey could run that offense.

What's a bit odd about this whole story is that we never knew what Joe Pa's salary was until now. Penn State is a public institution, which means that all employee salaries should be available to the public.

Penn State, however, refused to make the information public for a long time. It took five years of legal turmoil between The Patriot News in Harrisburg and Penn State before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Joe Pa's salary and those of other top Penn State officials are public information.

I'm actually glad we finally found out what Joe Pa makes, and it's not outrageous by any means. As Joe Pa said "I'm paid well. I'm not overpaid." Plus he has a substantial retirement fund he can dip into.

In an age where college football has become big business not only for schools, but for coaches, it's good to see a coach of Joe Pa's stature not robbing a school blind. Hopefully, it also leaves some extra money in the coffers to spend on stuff like, say, education.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

The worst Olympic mascots ever

Yesterday the Olympic mascots for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics were introduced to the world, and the reaction was somewhat mixed. Some thought the mascots were bizarre, while others thought they were great.

All I know is this: The Vancouver mascots are nowhere near the worst Olympic mascots to ever preside over the Games. And don't worry, Izzy the Whatizit from Atlanta 1996 isn't even the worst mascot ever, either. No, there were two mascots much worse than Izzy.

So anyway, let's start by counting backwards.

7. The 1998 Nagano Snow Owls
As bad as the Snow Owls are, there was actually a worse mascot before them. The original mascot designed for the Games was a weasel named Snowple, which was rejected by the Japanese public. My guess is Snowple's rejection came right before the Games started, which is why the Owls were subsequently drawn by a 3-year-old in approximately 5 minutes.

6. The 1976 Montreal beaver Amik
Amik was frequently mistaken for a turd on the side of the road.

5. The 1972 Munich dachshund Waldi
Naturally when you have the Olympics in Germany, you make the mascot a hyperactive, ultra-alert, multi-colored weiner dog.

4. The 1992 Albertville snow imp Magique
Has the dubious distinction of being the wussiest of all Olympic mascots despite resembling a ninja star. Also was a second choice after a first mascot was deemed too unpopular. How anything could be less popular than this mascot is beyond me.

3. The 1996 Atlanta Whatizit, a.k.a. Izzy
Izzy is frequently regarded as the worst mascot in Olympic history. That could be because he resembles a brightly colored sperm with shoes on, or it could be because he is a brightly colored sperm with shoes on. But believe it or not, Izzy wasn't even the first sperm inspired mascot. No, that achievement went to...

2. The 1968 Grenoble mascot Schuss
Schuss, over time, has become known as "The Skiing Sperm" and you can certainly understand why. What's remarkable about Schuss is that the French didn't really try hard to hide it. At least Izzy had hands and feet.

And last but not least, the worst mascot ever was...

1. The 1996 Atlanta Paralympics phoenix Blaze
Just a ridiculous mascot. And we have a picture of Blaze below, and yes, that's actually him.
Watch that hand Blaze, you're getting a bit too close for comfort.


Don't allow soccer players to make music videos

This acid trip of a music video comes from 1991, and it featured two well known international soccer stars. Mullet rocking Englishman Chris Waddle and Frenchman Basile Boli. It's some kind of hideous simultaneous English/French pop-rap that somehow didn't singlehandedly destroy both of their careers. It is the worst music video - by athletes or musicians - that I've ever seen in my life, and I'm not kidding.

HT across the pond to Chicken Dinner


Thursday links

Cowboys/Packers. And 70% of America can't watch it tonight, including me. But it's ok, NFL. I know you're struggling to make ends meet right now. Maybe things will turn around soon.

On to the links.

All On The Field interviews Gary Gaffney, M.D. of the blog Steroid Nation. [Part 1] [Part 2]

The Pack is clearly on the upswing this year. So were the Lions until a few weeks ago. What happened? Oh, that's right, Matt Millen's drafts. [The World of Isaac]

Hawaii could really use a BCS bowl bid, because they're pretty strapped for cash. [SPORTSbyBROOKS]

Lou Holtz, not a fan of them internets. [Larry Brown Sports]

NOIS looks at the lack of minority hires in college football. [NOIS]

Good lord, the price of a future seat at a Cowboys game is insane. [The Pig Pen]

The return of powder blues. Man, I am psyched! [Home Run Derby]

Sean Taylor's death is in the eye of the beholder. [Money Players]

The Rays/Twins trade could be bigger than you think. [Crashburn Alley]

A look at Bruce Weber v. Ron Zook in terms of recruiting. [Chicago Bull]

Eli v. Rex on Sunday, who will win? Certainly not us, the viewers. [The Sports Hernia]


This must be why Ohio St. keeps beating Michigan

I think most people are familiar with the fact that Michigan is looking for a head football coach. And I also think they're aware that they can actually apply for the job. I just sent in my application.

But looking a bit closer at the application, it came to my attention that there's something a bit off about it. Apparently the Michigan job only requires 40-hours of work a week. That's a bit better than the 120+ hours of work a week usually associated with the NFL.

While I'm sure Lloyd Carr didn't stray from that 40-hour work week schedule, I'd have to think that to beat Ohio St., Michigan will need someone like Les Miles who can put in a few more hours to get them over the hump. I'd say 42-hours a week should do it.


What in the hell is wrong with Canadians?

This isn't really sports related, but whatever. Like everyone else, I spent yesterday being seriously amazed by the video Deadspin put up of an insane Canadian PSA that's been appearing recently during Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts.

But it turns out that Canada's been doing these horror show style PSA's for a while now. And man, are they graphic. I'd have had nightmares for years if I had seen these PSA's as a kid - or think I could survive getting two pieces of rebar stuck through me. But anyway, let's take a look at the others, some of which may even be worse than melting skin soup lady.

Here's the old "guy gets blown up and we watch his body fall 4 stories on to a truck" PSA. I like the coworker who says "There's been an accident." You know, I'd say it's a bit worse than an accident.

Here's the guy with some rebar stuck through him. Is it really necessary to show this? I get the point, be safe.

Here's someone falling through a glass counter.

And here's the Frank Grimes endorsed PSA.

Here's a cartoon for how to respond to unsafe working conditions. The phrase "dude" is used a lot.

And lastly, although this isn't work-related, it's a Canadian Domestic Violence PSA. It of course involves more hot liquids and, uh, it's NSFW.

Remember people, there are no accidents. Personally, I'll never look at soup the same way again.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rugby players care not for endangered species

Man is this story ever bizarre. I don't know if you've ever heard of the quokka, but it's an endangered species or a "vulnerable" species in Australia, depending on whom you ask. Either way, it's an animal in trouble. A quokka basically looks like a mini-kangaroo and weighs about 10 pounds.

Anyway, the Australian rugby team Western Force, which plays in the well known international Super 14 rugby league, is in deep trouble for apparently "hammer-throwing" quokkas during a team bonding session last Friday that - surprise - involved heavy drinking. By the way, if you don't know what hammer-throwing is, take a look at the picture below.
According to Australian newspapers, one player reportedly picked up a quokka by the tail, spun it several times above his head and then let it go - on the fly.

Another incident included a player enacting a series of diving tries with a milk crate containing quokkas. No word on if he spiked the crate in celebration after his successful tries.

My guess would be the quokkas probably didn't enjoy these games too much - if they survived. I'm not sure what the American equivalent to these stunts would be, but I'm pretty sure repeatedly punting a bald eagle would be in the same ballpark.

There's currently an ongoing investigation to determine what exactly happened. I'm pulling for the quokkas.


A look back at Dr. Cade's legacy

The inventor of Gatorade, Dr. Robert Cade, passed away yesterday. And just like the commercials say, he was a University of Florida professor when he invented Gatorade. However, the story is a bit more interesting than that.

After Dr. Cade invented Gatorade, he offered rights to the drink to the University of Florida but the university turned him down. He then signed a deal with Stokley-Van Camp (now PepsiCo) and began selling it.

When sales took off UF asked for the patent rights, but Dr. Cade refused. He used some of the funds from his profits on Gatorade to set up scholarships and back local businesses. Florida sued him and locked up small businesses that were backed by the doctor. Eventually, an agreement was reached between Dr. Cade and Florida.

Classy school that Florida.

Anyway, unlike Florida, which preferred to squeeze Dr. Cade for money, we're going to remember the good doctor with some of the best and weirdest Gatorade commercials from the past, including ones all the way from South America, Japan, and China.

Here's the 1992 commercial that really cemented Gatorade as the sports drink of choice.

It's a good thing Gatorade bagged MJ, because before they did, their ads were like this one from 1983. Awful beyond belief.

One of my all-time favorites. Good D-Wade v. Bad D-Wade.

Here's a ridiculously weird Chinese ad featuring Yao Ming.

This commercial was awfully cool when it came out. Young MJ v. Old MJ.

Some more international flavor here, as Manu Ginobili battles the devil. Unfortunately, the devil didn't win.

Naturally, Gatorade also made its way to Japan, producing mind-altering commercials such as this one.

And just so you don't think Gatorade only did basketball, here's an ad featuring Sid the Kid.

And even though I don't like soccer much, I thought this was one of the best ads ever done by Gatorade.

And, last but not least, a baseball ad that I thought kind of sucked, but it was the only one I could find.

So cheers to you Dr. Cade. Your drink is tasty, has helped me recover from several food poisonings, and it even gave me a cavity or two. That's all I can ask of a sports drink.


Wednesday links

Crashburn Alley's interview with A.J. Daulerio about the Bill Conlin dustup. [Philly Mag]

Remembering Sean Taylor as a football player. [Throwing into Traffic]

Jimmy Rollins is already writing checks for next year that the Phillies might not be able to cash. [Home Run Derby]

USC can't really be moving to the Rose Bowl next year? Can they? [SPORTSbyBROOKS]

NOIS awards their college coach of the year. [NOIS]

Bob Knight enjoys hunting...people. [Deuce of Davenport]

Lion in Oil wants Gene Upshaws head on a platter. I can't blame them. [Lion in Oil]

Anderson Varejao es loco. [Rumors and Rants]

Some potential trades for Mark Prior. [Construda]


Further proof that golfers are complete wusses

Australian Robert Allenby has a problem. Drunk fans like heckling him. When you combine that with the fact that Australians are constantly drunk, then we've got a serious problem. And at this past weekend's Australian Masters, he got the business (my new favorite term) from a few sauced up guys.

So how did he respond? By, uh, refusing to play in future events. Yeah, that'll teach those obnoxious fans.

"If I have another experience like I did on Saturday, I don't think I'll be coming back."

The reason this is a big deal - I mean, it's not a big deal here, but I guess it is in Australia - is because of what the organizers of December’s Australian Open are planning. They want a carnival like atmosphere on the 11th hole which is not far from a bar.

Should be awesome.

Truthfully though, I've never understood why we can't heckle golfers. I guess golfing purists will tell you it messes with the player's concentration, but I'm not buying that. We have countless sports where heckling isn't just a distraction, it's a given.

Pro basketball and baseball players usually get the worst of it, since they're typically the closest to fans. And anyone who's going to tell me that it's much harder to hit a golf ball than it is to hit a 92-mph slider while some fat guy in row three is yelling about what he did to my mom last night - forget it.

Despite what you may think of Barry Bonds, I'm still amazed by his sheer concentration and ability to produce despite constant heckling. Nothing can get to that guy. But snap one photo of Tiger Woods during his backswing, and he has a damn hissy-fit and sics his caddy on you.

Besides, just think of how interesting a US Open final round would be with some guy riding Woods about how he missed his daughter's baptism to play in a charity golf tournament.

That'd get me watching. For like a minute or two.


College sure has gotten nerdier since I left

I have never read a single Harry Potter book, so I don't really know what Quiddich is, but it looks, uh, ridiculously stupid. This video is of the Vassar Quiddich team preparing for the Quiddich World Cup which was held a few weeks ago at Middlebury College in Connecticut - by which I mean Vermont. In case you were wondering, Vassar lost 120-0, or so the comments section of YouTube tells me. I'm not sure what's worse, that there are people playing this made up sport, or that there are people good enough at it to destroy another team 120-0.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thoughts on Sean Taylor from around the blogosphere

A very sad day. Our thoughts are with Taylor's family.

What Sean Taylor means to Black America. [Scott Van Pelt Style]

Goodell's statement. [Redskins Insider]

Jason Cambell's reaction. [Redskins Insider]

The New York Times on Taylor. [NYT]

MBSR remembers Taylor. [My Brain Says Rage]

DC Sports Bog's thoughts. [DC Sports Bog]

Mr. Irrelevant's thoughts. [Mr. Irrelevant]

Deuce of Davenport's thoughts. [Deuce of Davenport]

Violating goalposts will help you win games

Grand Valley State University has pretty much been violating teams for the last few seasons. They've won an NCAA D-II record 39-straight games and haven't lost since 2004. However, during their most recent win against North Dakota on Saturday, the GVSU mascot decided to get in on the action. And by "get in on the action" I mean "he started humping a goalpost totally out of the blue."

Hey man, whatever helps you win games. By the way, if Chad Johnson did this he'd be suspended for a decade.


The fragile nature of the Warriors

I've been pretty silent in regards to the Warriors so far this season. That's primarily because I consider the NBA regular season an 82-game exhibition, but there also wasn't much reason to write about the Warriors until now. As you know they started off horribly. Or 0-6 as I like to call it. They dealt with personal issues, S-Jax was suspended, and they looked like they'd lost their magic. Most of the NBA was already starting to write them off as a one-year - or more appropriately - a half-year wonder.

But since then they're 6-1, and more importantly, 5-1 with our favorite player Stephen Jackson in the lineup. They're also finally completely together and were at last able to put out the killer small ball lineup they used so effectively last season in the playoffs. That's Davis, Monta Ellis, Barnes, Jackson and Al Harrington. And with that lineup now healthy and playing together, they beat the red hot Phoenix Suns. Sure the game was in Oakland, but the Warriors had just finished a tough east coast road trip. That was one huge win last night.

The problem is the Warriors are like a broken ming vase held together by spit. When everything is assembled as it should be, they're a thing of beauty to behold. But if you knock one piece out, they disintegrate.

Nobody exmplifies this better than S-Jax. We know everyone outside of the Bay Area makes fun of him because he has a gun tattooed on his chest being held by praying hands, and that he likes firing guns outside of strip clubs. But he's a major part of what holds this team together along with Baron Davis's shaky knee. S-Jax is a good defender, a streaky - but effective - scorer, and an oddly perfect team captain for a team that hails from Oakland. It doesn't really make any sense, until you see how it works out on the court. 1-6 without him; 5-1 with him. Then it's entirely clear.

I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't worried when the team jettisoned J-Rich before the season started. Why mess with a perfect mix? But J-Rich has turned out to be more expendable than I realized.

That's because when the Warriors are assembled in their small ball entirety - even without J-Rich - they're a playoff caliber team. And they can sub-in Biedrins effectively for inside defense. But knock any one of those 5 starting guys out for a period of time, and we may not be talking playoffs anymore. I realize there are other teams in the NBA, like Cleveland, who if they lost LeBron, would be done. But they aren't done if they lose Larry Hughes (which has already happened). I get the sense that even the loss of Barnes or Ellis would absolutely cripple the Warriors, even though there's Pietrus and Azubuike backing them up.

The Warriors may well grow over the season and assemble a deep bench. That's definitely the hope. But I'm also hoping they can stay healthy and can keep the lightning in the bottle.

Even if they do that, they aren't going to win the Pacific this year over the Suns, but they should come in second. And in the playoffs, as we here in the Bay Area know, anything can happen.


Tuesday links

Now that's a burger. 100-lbs to be exact. I'm sure you're wondering why I put a burger up here instead of something about the MNF game. Well, I didn't really watch it. Excellent call by me.

That said though, the punt that got stuck in the muck was awesome.

On to the links.

Mike Wilbon didn't show a lot of sympathy to Sean Taylor yesterday on PTI. [Mr. Irrelevant]

ESPN's list of the top 25 college football players of all time is already a total disaster. [We Suck at Sports]

The experts say Eli has turned the corner. Rumors and Rants says he hasn't. I am firmly in R&R's corner. [Rumors and Rants]

The Twins should hang on to Santana. [Larry Brown Sports]

It's a dangerous centerfield market out there right now. [Crashburn Alley]

The Dodgers will return once more to the LA Colesium. If you thought Candlestick was bad for baseball, the old Colesium was a nightmare. [SPORTSbyBROOKS]

That Gyroball is one tough pitch to hit - and throw. [Red Sox Monster]

Are the 07 Bulls like the 07 Cubs? I'm sure the Bulls hope so, because that would mean the playoffs (and then getting swept). [Chicago Bull]


Shocking news: Fantasy Football hurts work productivity

I often wonder why people do studies like this. It's like that study that was done not all that long ago that proved that men like attractive females. Who could have ever guessed that?

But now we have official proof that fantasy football hurts work productivity, just like the NCAA Tournament.
Close to half of about 260 online poll respondents admitted they use IM programs to discuss Fantasy Football at work. The survey showed that 47% of respondents use IM to discuss Fantasy Football specifically.
Although the study didn't say how the other 53% of company IM time is spent, my guess is that it includes passing along pictures of scantily clad cheerleaders. Or guys talking about how they're going to kill Fred this week because they just picked Ricky Willams up off waivers. Don't worry Fred, Ricky's injured again.

Naturally, someone also had to put a poorly calculated dollar amount on how much Fantasy Football is costing America.
Fantasy Football distractions on the job could cost American businesses as much as $7.4 billion in lost company time this season, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The firm earlier this year revealed its findings, which are based on the premise that the 13.6 million Fantasy Football enthusiasts (an estimate from the Sports Trade Association) each spend an average of 10 minutes of company time per day managing their fantasy teams and players during the National Football League regular season that runs from September through December.
The problem with these studies is always the same thing. They assume that if someone weren't talking about Fantasy Football for 10 minutes every day, they'd be working for those 10 minutes instead.

Let me offer these studies a tip: People hate working. Just because people aren't talking about Fantasy Football doesn't mean they'll suddenly become great workers.

Instead they'll just waste their time by reading a blog like this one.


Human Tetris has a challenger

We're clearly suckers for random Japanese game shows here at The Rate, and while this game show, known as Okatch and Miyatch, isn't exactly Human Tetris (or binocular soccer) it's still good. Nothing beats watching a bunch of people dressed up as characters from Toy Story get annihilated by giant soda can logs.

That last sentence didn't really make any sense, but it's about the best description possible.


Mr. Testicles, the Bo Jackson of mascots, returns

I know many of you are thinking to yourselves, didn't this blog mention last week that Mr. Testicles, the the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign mascot, was going to be participating in an event during halftime of the Everton v. Sunderland EPL tilt? Yes, yes we did.

And of course, there's now footage of his exploits. By the way, I think Sunderland could have used Mr. Testicles (literally). They got destroyed 7-1.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Nothing says Christmas like a defecating Pau Gasol

You've got to stay with me for a minute on this one. In the Catalan region of Spain, there's a Christmas tradition where you put a tiny figurine of a peasant defecating within the traditional nativity scene. The figurine is called a caganer. The origins of why you'd put a crapping peasant somewhere in the vicinity of baby Jesus has been lost over time, but the practice has been going on since the 17th century. Some people say the peasant represents the equality of all people, others say it's just a kids game (as in find the crapping peasant).

But over time, the caganer has evolved to include celebrities, politicians, and of course athletes. So if you're looking for a figurine of Pau Gasol dropping a deuce for your nativity scene this year, we've got you covered.

Here's Pau in action. He's obviously leaving a gift for the defense.

Here's soccer superstar Thierry Henry, who I'm guessing had Cheetos recently.

And here's a very happy Ronaldinho.

And last but not least, wunderkind Lionel Messi.

So if you think athletes taking dumps in your nativity scene is just what you need for Christmas this year, you can find more here.

Sure it may be sacrilegious, but hey, it's also tradition. Either way, you'll certainly be the talk of Christmas (and many more to follow) with one of these figurines.


Monday links

It seems a lot of people were busy over the Thanksgiving weekend. Because the email inbox was packed.

Let's see what we got.

Thank God, someone else finally thinks Tebow is a system QB. [NOIS]

I remember when Mike Williams was a great receiver at USC. Now he's just fat. [Construda]

You might not know who Turner Gill is, but you should. [The Legend of Cecilio Guante]

Pro athletes should definitely remain single their whole lives. [5 on Five]

That UCLA/Oregon game this past weekend may have been the worst football game ever. [Rumors and Rants]

An accidentally racist sports jersey. [The Grand National Championships]

David Carr's gloves are hideous, and he's proving that it wasn't the Texans O-line that was a problem while he was there. [Larry Brown Sports]

Recasting The Wire with sports personalities. [Food Court Lunch]

You know what, there are a lot of bad AFC teams as well. [The Pig Pen]

Recapping the holiday college basketball tournies. [Storming the Floor]

NHL weekly recap for you. [Going Five Hole]


The Canadian Nipplegate

Back in 2004 we had Nipplegate here in the states. It changed life forever as we know it. Or at least I think it did. It caused a tape delay or something, right? Whatever, I can't remember.

Now Canada officially has it's own version. Although regrettably it's neither sexy nor interesting like Nipplegate was.

Lenny Kravitz was yesterday's CFL Grey Cup half-time show. And I'm as surprised as you are. Lenny Kravitz is still popular somewhere? Anyway, Kravitz let the plumber's butt drop a few times on Canadian national TV during the halftime show.
Not quite Nipplegate, but hey, it's Canada. What did you expect?

Boy, one hand is getting a little too close for comfort there. (shudder)

HT: BlogTo


What we learned from Thanksgiving week/weekend football

Due to too much turkey, I didn't get around to writing much about either college football or pro football from this past week/weekend. So I'm just going to do the lazy thing and combine them into one post that's much shorter than normal.

On to what we learned.

1. That both the Eagles and Colts have given the NFL a blueprint for how to slow the Patriots offense. The Colts were able to give the Pats offense trouble by having a devastating 4-man rush that got pressure on Brady which allowed the Colts to frequently drop as many as 6 or 7 guys into secondary coverage. The problem was that the D-line ran out of gas in the 4th quarter and Brady started to get way too much time to pass. On the flip side, the Eagles had Lito Sheppard basically take Randy Moss out of the game. That way, instead of having to always double team Moss, they could frequently blitz an extra linebacker because they knew Sheppard would be all over Moss. The only problem was that just taking out Moss wasn't good enough, as Welker went wild. And he frequently caught passes in the middle of the field during a blitz package. So essentially there are two ways to slow down the Pats offense. One is to have a great 4-man rush that consistently gets pressure on Brady and allows you to drop as many as 6 or 7 guys into the secondary for pass defense. The other way is to have one or two shutdown corners that neutralize Moss/Welker (hopefully both) which allows you to consistently blitz Brady and force him to throw quickly. Of course, if the Pats ran more, they might be able to keep defenses like the ones the Colts and Eagles threw at them a bit more honest. But since the Pats aren't doing that (and I'm not really sure why) then these are really the only two ways to limit the Pats offense. Both the Colts and the Eagles were almost successful in doing their defensive gameplans for 4 quarters. However, both came up a little short. The Colts just kind of ran out of gas, and the Eagles had no answer for Welker, partly because they sold out on the blitz so much and partly because no one could cover him. The question then of course is - can anyone do what the Colts or Eagles did for 4 quarters to beat the Pats? I'm not sure anyone can. This may sound crazy, but one team I'd like to see play the Pats is the Broncos. With Champ Bailey and Dre Bly, two shutdown corners, they might give the Pats offense serious problems. Of course, they don't meet in the regular season and the Broncos might not even make the playoffs. The Packers with a healthy Woodson and Harris might also give the Pats some trouble, but both would have to make the Super Bowl.

2. The Eagles game also gave the NFL a blueprint for how to score on the Pats defense. The Pats don't have a great pass rush. Or at least they sure as hell didn't against the Eagles. Feeley often had all day to throw. If there's one gap in the Pats defense, it's the 10-20 yard in. That was open all night for Feeley, and it was how the Eagles managed to consistently score points. Considering the Eagles had a career-backup QB consistently leading his team up and down the field against the Pats defense, I'd say Andy Reid found a weakness and exploited it all game long. And strangely, the Pats never really adjusted to it. Now, will this weakness still be present in future games? I'm not sure. And I think Belichick will be working real hard this week to fix that problem. But there's no question that the Eagles, at least for one week, really showed a true weakness in the Pats defense.

3. I finally have to man up and say the Packers are for real. They beat a suddenly woeful Lions team, but hey, the Packers didn't create their schedule. Favre's definitely been on point this season, and when you combine that with some of the breaks he's gotten, look out. Plus when I said this team couldn't run worth a damn, they pulled Ryan Grant out from under a rock and he's done a hell of a job. They also have a great young defense and if they hadn't blown that game against the Bears, they'd be undefeated. That's pretty crazy. We'll get to see how legit they are this Thursday (or the five of us who get NFL Network will) when they meet up with the Cowboys in Dallas. I think to stand a chance they need Woodson to be healthy, and that looks doubtful.

4. This may be it for Eli Manning. Even though some people thought he had turned the corner this year, let's be honest. He was turning the corner from being a bad QB to a mediocre QB. Plus, he's thrown at least one pick in all but two games this year. That's terrible. Plus he's below the league average in passer rating. Have our expectations of Eli been reduced to such a level that we'll basically take mediocrity from this guy? I mean, he was the number 1 pick. It's ok to just admit he sucks and move on.

5. I think you can make an argument that Darren McFadden should be the Heisman winner right now. McFadden pretty much single-handedly lifted Arkansas over LSU. And despite some early game turnovers, his second-half and OT performances were truly ones for the ages. He also did what Tebow couldn't do - beat LSU. And McFadden's team only has one more loss than Tebow's Florida. I'm not saying give McFadden the Heisman now. I'm just saying that his performance against LSU - combined with Tebow's injury - made the Heisman race a lot more interesting all of a sudden. And it likely made McFadden the new frontrunner. Maybe.

6. So right now we're looking at a National Championship of Mizzou against West Virginia if both win out. Somehow I'd actually prefer that to one of the two of them losing and seeing Ohio State squeak in. Lord only knows what happens if they both lose. Ohio State v. Georgia maybe? That seems to make even less sense, because Georgia isn't even playing in the SEC Championship game. Man, I have no clue. Either way, it should be interesting.

7. A columnist said after USC beat ASU on Thanksgiving that USC is the best team in college football right now. He may be right. That team is finally completely healthy and playing like they should have been all season. Remember, they lost to Stanford in large part because Booty was playing with a broken throwing finger for most of the game. And they lost to Oregon because Sanchez was at QB. I honestly think USC, top to bottom, is the most talented team in the country. And now they're finally playing like it. Seeing them potentially match up against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl would I think be a bigger game than the National Championship.

8. I'd like to thank the Raiders for ending their 17-straight game skid to AFC West opponents. That's almost unreal when I stop and think about it. And thanks to the 49ers for finally stopping the bleeding at 8 games. That's life in the Bay Area as a football fan. Not good.

And that's it, I'm still messed up on tryptophan from one last helping of leftovers.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Bill Conlin won't be invited to the party

As you probably know by now, Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin went off on bloggers quite recently. Crashburn Alley sent him some relatively benign emails, and Conlin responded in a tactless way - multiple times. He even managed to bring genocide and Hitler into an email. The easy thing to do is to rip Conlin and make fun of him. But since Conlin's already accomplished that for us with his ridiculous emails, there's really no point.

The more important thing to do is to look at what Conlin represents, and where we'll be going from here.

The fact of the matter is that Conlin is an old-time classic sports journalist. He learned sports journalism the way it's been taught for years. Game-wrapups, feature stories, and 800-word columns for traditional papers. And that's it. The paper is your vehicle, end of story. There's nothing wrong with this, it's the way sports journalism has worked for years and there is still excellent work produced in traditional papers by a number of sports writers. But where this system has failed miserably is in its ability to let people voice their criticism, or even just their opinion, to said writers.

Speaking as someone who's been on both sides of the wall - traditional journalism school and "new media" (i.e. blogging) - there's a vast difference between the two. Blogging allows readers to instantly voice their disapproval or opinions on subject matters that the author has written. Papers don't do this, or at their best they do it terribly inconsistently.

Even though there's a quaint notion that papers can act as the voice of the people, like the Op-Ed page, there's very little participation when it comes to papers. Should I - as a reader - voice my displeasure with a sports article, odds are it will never even make the paper, let alone reach the original author it's intended for. And even if I notice something wrong in the paper and manage to get them to correct it, that correction won't appear until a few days later and it'll be in a tiny box marked "Corrections" on Page C7. And I will get no credit for it.

This system creates a wall between newspaper writers and readers that blogging doesn't have. As a result, writers for papers - in our case sports writers - don't get criticized. They don't take any heat from anyone. They can essentially operate of their own accord. And that can sometimes be dangerous when we get to columnists.

Some columnists start to believe that everything they say is infallible, since they're never called out on it. And that's what has happened to Conlin. When he's ultimately called out by someone, he doesn't respond well. It's his belief that since he went the traditional route, and has written columns for years without being challenged, that he's untouchable. But that isn't the case.

We all make mistakes. We all need to be called out sometimes. And hopefully in the end, it will make us better writers.

Even though blogs are prone to ridiculous rants and off color words in the comments section at the end of posts, that's not always the case. In fact it's not even the norm. There are a number of times I've corrected posts because of mistakes I've been alerted to by readers. And plenty have made better arguments in the comments than I have in my posts.

But Conlin wants none of that, and quite frankly, that's to his detriment. Ironically his system isolates him from readers, which after all, are who he is dependent upon for his job.

But perhaps even scarier is Conlin's Hitler comment on bloggers, which is printed again here: The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler’s time on earth–I’m sure he would have eliminated all bloggers.

This is a journalist, mind you, who is essentially saying he's against free speech. He doesn't want criticism, and he wants people to fall in line and take what he's giving them.

Luckily though, this attitude is starting to become the way of the past. Even though very few newspapers are starting to divert from Conlin's decrepit model, some are. Dan Steinberg at the DC Sports Bog should be given a ton of credit for his ability to make the Washington Post relevant in the sports blogging world where readers have a vehicle to make their opinions and thoughts known. Same as well to Michael Rand at Randball. And truthfully, newspapers may soon be left in the dust by the online world. Thanks to the FanHouse, Yahoo! Sports, Deadspin, With Leather, The Big Lead, Dan Shanoff, Mr. Irrelevant, SPORTSbyBROOKS, etc., etc., sports blogging is beginning to change how we write about sports. There are even team specific blogs, like Viva El Birdos, Mets Blog, and Bleed Cubbie Blue, that cover their respective teams in more detail than newspapers. And, most importantly, the blogging model allows readers to write about sports and share their opinions. This movement is in its infancy, but it's headed in the right direction.

What isn't moving in the right direction is Conlin's model. And that should make us all happy.


Mr. Testicles is surprisingly athletic

You may remember a little more than a month ago we had a links post where we put up a picture from the Chicago Marathon of a giant testicle mascot. Anyway, Brazil Thrill in a comment on Deadspin let us know the mascot is actually Mr. Testicles of the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign. Which is good news, because I couldn't imagine anyone wearing that costume for fun.

But it turns out Mr. Testicles is a sports fiend, which I guess makes sense considering he's attempting to reach a male audience. It might also be a good idea to have a sign on him that says "Prostate Cancer Awareness" so people don't just think he's a weirdo in a testicle costume, but whatever. So what sports does Mr. Testicles enjoy? Well, let's take a look.

As you can tell, he totally digs snowboarding.

And skiing too.

And don't worry ladies, he has a soft side as well. By which I mean he figure skates.

But don't get the impression that he shrinks from non-Winter sports competition. As you know he ran in the Chicago Marathon. But he's also run in the NYC Marathon.
He also kept a blog of the Chicago run, if you can believe that. It contains everything you'd expect, like this quote: The volume of support was at times deafening, but it was my fellow runners who gave me the support I needed. “Go Mr Testicles, Go ball sack man!”

He even ran across the UK this summer.
"With my pubes flapping in the breeze, I marched my way forward from Lands End at the very bottom of the UK."

Um, thanks for the description.

And before this post gets completely out of hand, he'll be taking the field to play some soccer at halftime of the Everton v. Sunderland EPL match this Saturday.

Way to go Mr. Testicles. At least have the balls not to flop during the soccer game.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Get ready for Madden and Turducken

The coming together of Thanksgiving and John Madden is always great, mainly because it brings us unholy animal combinations like a Turducken with 6 legs. But it also brings classic Madden commentary. My personal favorite remains the time Madden said Brett Favre threw a football 100-mph. In an effort to get you prepared for tomorrow, here are two clips of Madden breaking down his own video game. Well, it's not really him, but at least it's not Frank Caliendo either.


This stunt might make Michigan more attractive to Les Miles

We're all well aware that Les Miles is the most likely candidate to fill the Michigan opening. And naturally LSU, and most of Louisiana, is worried about losing him. But this may be a bit much. The school is planning a march today called "March for Miles" and I'll let you read the details here, since the photographer of the invitation is a bit touchy about legal issues, even though it's all over the Web. Normally you march for racial equality or world peace - not football coaches - but what do I know. I'm a normal human being. Naturally something this unimportant is already in the news down there, and the message boards and Facebook are going off about how big the march will be. Here are some of the comments circulating across the Web. And mind you, these are LSU fans, so these comments were probably written with no sarcasm intended whatsoever.
  • It'd be bigger than the Jena 6 march. It'd be as big as the March on Washington in 1963.
  • This is historic stuff. This is something the priveleged few, as in those who show up, will be happy to tell their kids about. They will relish the fact they were a part of it
  • I guarantee you I can get at least 100 coonasses to attend. Now, it's 100 coonasses going to Baton Rouge, so, somewhere around Paradis we're going to start losing some to DWI's...but we should end up with at least 40-50 in Baton Rouge.
  • I could see a movie being made in the future.
  • What coach WOULDN'T want to come here knowing the love and support we offer our coaches. Knowing that we stand behind our coach. If I were looking for a job, hell I'd take a pay cut to work for a company with those benefits. A company who's customers genuinely love and support the employees of the company they patronize? Give me some of THAT! You can't even get that kind of stuff in the military anymore, with liberals run amok.
  • Has anyone had a Les Miles look-a-like contest where people dress up as him and act like him similar to people dressing up like Woody Hayes and Bear Bryant?

  • We could start a "pass the hat for Les fund" at this march

  • I am going to wear my cheerleading outfit

  • I will only march if Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are there.
    I would throw them under a bus...

  • THIS IS NOT BEGGING HIM TO STAY. If he has to go, we understand, but if he goes he will have this to take with him.

  • Very few people are born wanting to be LSU's coach; most of them have to learn how awesome it is. This is another part of the learning process. We show him the love, and he WANTS to be at LSU. See?
Les, for God's sake, take the Michigan job.


Agent Zero, still awesome

I'd like to thank both The WizzNutzz and the Fanhouse for getting this new Agent Zero mini-film up (You can see 3 others at WizzNutzz, but I think this is the best one). There's really no way to describe this ad. It's like Castaway meets Gilligan's Island meets the worst acid trip you've ever been on.

Bravo Agent Zero. Keep 'em coming.


Wednesday links

Today is basically a Friday according to my schedule. Which means don't expect much for the next two days. I plan on spending them strung out on tryptophan and football.

On to the links.

Which sport has the toughest refs? Well, I know it's not soccer. [Food Court Lunch]

Charlie Weis is going back to the Patriots for advice. I expect Belichick to tell him to always go for it on 4th down, even when Notre Dame's up by 40. Which coincidentally will never happen. [SPORTSbyBROOKS]

More Maui Invitational coverage - from Maui. [Rumors and Rants]

Jason Cambell, the future of the Redskins, cries. Uh oh. [Deuce of Davenport]

The Mavericks have some strange stuff for sale, like a one-day contract. [Uwe Blog]

Which college coaches are on the hot seat? Guess what, Saban's on the list. Awesome. [5 on Five]

Someone is not psyched about Kansas or Mizzou potentially making the National Championship. [Larry Brown Sports]

Can we get some consistency in the damn MLB MVP voting? [I'm Writing Sports]


We interrupt this interview to make you play more football

This is Matt Stover getting interviewed about the Ravens "victory" at mid-field right after Dawson's end of regulation kick was called no good. I like how Stover seems to know exactly what's coming.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Remembering horrible footwear

When you stop and think about it, shoe commercials are pretty decent these days. But that's mostly because the major shoe companies these days - Nike, Reebok and Converse - are all willing to shell out major cash to make the ads good. Well, there was once a time when there were more shoe companies than we have today. And the only way they could compete with the big guns was to make ridiculously stupid commercials. Yes, I'm talking about British Knights, LA Gear, and of course Keds. So let's take a look back at some memorably awful shoe ads from back in the day.

British Knights. Man, talk about classic. Remember how they had the "diamonds that bounce"? Uh, me neither. Anyway, here's what Urban Dictionary has to say about BKs: "BK's were not for the faint hearted - they sported massive decals, plastic add-ons and had tongues bigger than oven mitts. They were particularly popular with [basketballer]s, crip [gangbangers] and [homeboys]." I never do my cripin' without my BKs.

This is also for BKs, and it's a holiday commercial. It has a rapping knight, because nothing says Christmas like a rapping knight.

Now we're on to LA Gear. Man these shoes were horrible. I'm pretty sure the brainstorming session for this ad was - let's make a commercial that will seem hideously dated in about 4 months time. Mission accomplished LA Gear.

And if one LA Gear ad wasn't bad enough, here's former Laker girl Paula Abdul hawking them as well. (Shudder) You know Michael Jackson also did an LA Gear ad.

And last but not least, here's a commercial that should thoroughly warp your already beaten down mind. It's a 1950s Keds ad where a clown convinces kids that they'll run faster and win more if they wear Keds. Remember kids, you're a commie pinko if you don't wear Keds.


Nick Saban one ups Kellen Winslow Jr.

Some individuals are born to lead men into combat. Like Dwight Eisenhower, Stormin Norman Shwartzkopf, and of course Kellen Winslow Jr. Remember, he's a soldier.

Now you can add General Nick Saban to that illustrious list. Tell the boys what they're fighting for and where that loss to UL-Monroe ranks in world history.
"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event," Saban said during the opening remarks of his weekly news conference on Monday. "It may be 9-11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, or whatever, and that was a catastrophic event."
Ok, so let's get this straight. The three most catastrophic attacks on American soil have been:

1. 9/11
2. Pearl Harbor
3. UL-Monroe beating Alabama

Well, we needed something to fill the #3 spot, and lord knows the War of 1812 wasn't going to cut it. Although judging by the way Saban used "kind of" and "or whatever" to describe Pearl Harbor, perhaps we can move UL-Monroe beating Alabama up to #2.

I've never been more excited to see Alabama lose again. If they lose to Auburn this Saturday, maybe Saban can bring in some intergalactic struggle for his next press conference. The moon of Endor is counting on you General Saban.


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