November 29, 2005

Sizzling in Motown

At first glance, Lions' QB Joey Harrington seems like the kind of guy who, if given the opportunity, could effectively man the grill at your annual backyard Flag Day barbeque, amicably chatting it up with Grandma Georgina while deftly maneuvering the sausages (pardon me?) over the grill's red-hot embers. Which is to say that at first glance, Joey Harrington seems like a pretty good guy.

To hear his teammate Dre Bly tell it, though, Harrington is actually the kind of guy who, if given the opportunity to man the grill at your annual Flag Day BBQ, would most likely roll the sausages in dirt and sucker punch Grandma Georgina in the eye.

Okay, so Bly didn't actually outright say any of these things about Joey, but by blaming the team's woes on Harrington and saying that recently fired coach Steve Mariucci would still have his job were it not for a certain QB, he might as well have said them.

Bly showing loyalty to his departed coach is theoretically understandable -- I wouldn't be surprised if Mooch is well-liked as a person by many of his players. However, the fact is, Mariucci's coaching job on Thanksgiving day against the Falcons was so atrocious -- so indefensible -- that the official transcript of my comments during the game (which does not exist) clearly states that I said, "Mariucci's going to get fired for this."

Did anyone see this game? The Falcons came in with one of the worst run defenses in the league. First Lions' play: they threw. Second play, 20-yard run. Third play, for whatever reason, throwing again -- intercepted.

Their next possession, the Lions passed on 4 of 6 plays. The two times they ran, they averaged 6.0 yards. The last pass play resulted in a fumble, and the game was effectively over after that. The Lions never gave the Falcons' suspect run D a test, and they ended up getting shellacked like a piece of salmon being thrown against a smokehouse wall. (I have no idea what that means, but just know, the Lions got it bad.)

So how does this fit in with Bly and Harrington? Well, anyone who watched this game saw a deeply dysfunctional squad. So far this season we've heard about how screwed up the Vikings and Rams are -- I'm just waiting for someone to blow the whistle on the Lions. From this angle, though, it sure looked like a lot of the blame should be on Mariucci's coaching. But if Joey really is responsible for the team's problems on a level anywhere close to what Bly has suggested, I'll tell you one thing right now: He is not invited to my Flag Day barbeque.
Now catching up on a bit of news...

-You'll need to register for a membership with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to read this article, but since it's about strippers setting up shop in a strange party truck outside Tampa Bay Bucs games, well -- I think that's the kind of thing you need a membership for also.

-I always have been a bit suspicious of John Madden...

-A couple of Jets' fans got stabbed at Giants' stadium over the weekend. Not to be insensitive (or, more accurately, blatantly being insensitive), has anyone considered that the assailant might have been trying to put them out of their misery?

-As I'm sure you've heard, Michael Irvin recently got caught with a pipe in his glove compartment. Not the kind of pipe you use for beat-downs -- the kind you smoke weed out of. Well, Mike insists the thing belongs to his buddy, and you gotta hand it to him -- this excuse is so beyond played out at this point that it just might be the truth. But probably not. Personally, I'd be more inclined to believe Irvin if he said he had been carjacked by a wooly mammoth who proceeded to make him smoke the drugs a la Training Day and then stuffed the pipe in the glove box as he hastily departed the vehicle because he thought he saw a sasquatch and wanted to confirm if the fabled creature really exists once and for all. But that might just be me.

November 21, 2005

A Noteworthy Clipping

Admit it, you've been there before yourself -- caught up in the moment after an exciting win by your favorite sports team, you're celebrating the only way you know how: by standing over the toilet and clipping away at your ballsack with a dull pair of wire cutters.

Wait -- what?!?? Who wrote that line? Did my keyboard just get hijacked by Tyler Durden?

No, it didn't. Just relax.

Okay. But is that true? Would someone really do that to himself?

I regret to inform you that this is a true story -- rugby fan Geoffrey Huish recently listened to a Wales-England match on the radio, then wandered into the bathroom and, seemingly on a whim, trimmed off his gonads.

But why would he do that, mysterious italicized voice?

Why? Quite simple. He had told one of his "mates" he would cut his off his testicles if Wales won, and though he may not have been serious when he said it, after the victory, he happened to go to the bathroom to take a piss and saw a pair of wire cutters. Next thing he knew, his motzah balls were out of their protective broth, plummeting into the toilet's murky waters.

Was the "motzah balls out of the protective broth" thing really necessary?


So what did he do after that?

Naturally, he fished the fleshy marbles out of the toilet, took them over to the pub, and screamed out "I've done it!" He then placed the plastic sack in a friend's hand, and almost immediately passed out from blood loss.

Is he insane? I mean, we've all done stupid things on a whim, but even Steve-O and Johnny Knoxville would deem this particular stunt a poor idea. What the hell was Geoff Huish thinking?

His explanation was, "I had a lot going on and felt a bit down."

Since when does surgically removing one's own manhood improve self-esteem?

It's been scientifically proven to work on sheep.

I'm fully aware that you're mocking me now, and I'm choosing to ignore that comment. You know, I'm looking at the article online, and I see a quote from Huish saying, "The cutters were blunt so I had to keep snipping." This really hammers it home for me that the guy wasn't completely there from a mental standpoint. You'd think even the sickest of bastards would think better of it after the first touch of dull cold steel to testicle sack, right?

We suspect that PCP may have been involved.

Who is "we"? There's more than one of you?

Mind your own business.

Sorry. You know, I'm also reading a quote here from Huish where he says, "So I started hacking away at my tackle." That's a pretty funny term for it -- tackle. I might have to start using that.

What's so funny about it? My dad used to call it "tackle," and he's dead now.


That's alright. You didn't know.

Mind if I ask you something personal?


Who are you?

The name's Koncak. Jon Koncak.

Wow, really? Like, THE Jon Koncak?

No. Just a coincidence.

I guess I have just one more question for you, Mr. Koncak.

Fire away.

Is this like one of those weird things where we think the guy who cut off his balls is acting really weird but it turns out he's actually a more intelligent alien life form, like the guy Mos Def played in "Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy," and his seemingly strange behavior is actually done for reasons we can't understand?


[Editor's note: No testicles were harmed during the creation of this post.]

November 14, 2005

Oh, the Pain

Have you ever been playing outfield in a casual Saturday afternoon softball game and come charging in on a shallow fly ball only to have the thing land in front of you and -- because you ran in too far -- bounce up and gently thump into your sack? Hurts, right? Not in a "I just got kicked in the testes by a pack mule" kind of way. It's more of a glancing shot that, instead of eliciting a scream, makes you just want to sit down and start weeping.

Well, that about sums up how I feel about A-Rod winning the AL MVP. Kind of like you're not that surprised each time you get clubbed in the balls anew -- you knew it would happen again sometime, didn't you? -- it's not the most shocking development to see A-Rod win. And because it's the baseball offseason, the pain is muted, somehow less vivid than having your team lose early in the postseason or watching a hated team win. But man, somewhere down there, this one really hurts.
-Speaking of pain, 5 years and $50 million can only mean one thing: so long, Raffy.

-A wee bit of ink here for Lakers' PG Smush Parker, who is fast becoming one of my favorite players in the League. In one game earlier this season I saw him pick Steve Nash's pocket about three times. Also, believe me when I say: the man can throw down with the best of them. Looking for a dark horse candidate to win the dunk contest out of nowhere this year? Here's your guy.

-There have been a lot of rumblings lately about the possibility of Darius Miles getting traded to the Knicks. Quite simply, this needs to happen for two reasons. First of all, it would reunite Miles and Quentin Richardson, teammates on that magical 2000-01 Clippers squad ("magical" in this case is intended to mean "wildly entertaining but ultimately a great disappointment, as the team was broken up in typical Clipper fashion before it could realize its vast potential"). Secondly, under the scrutiny of the invasive New York media, we would almost certainly discover the real meaning of that weird antennas gesture that Miles and Richardson do. Or have we already figured that out?

November 11, 2005

Where's Terrell?

This just in: Terrell Owens attended the Hawks-Clippers game Thursday night. Finally, we've got some news! Speculation must begin at once. If Terrell Owens farts, we need to discuss it. (Was it loud? How many octaves? Is there a chance it was actually a shart? These are things we need to know.) Okay, let's see...Owens was at a basketball game in Atlanta. Atlanta, Atlanta...hmm...I know! He's going to sign with the Hawks. You heard it first right here. Unless...wait, that's it! He's going to sign with the Falcons. That actually makes more sense. He also might play for both teams. And he's going to be the Braves' new pitching coach.

All joking aside, just how pathetic is it that we continue to talk about this guy when it's really not all that interesting of a story? I'm still waiting to see my first "Owens Picks Scab, Considers Eating It" headline. Depending on who you listen to, Terrell Owens is either a reasonably good guy who has a tendency to behave badly or he's a total jackass who's acting how total jackasses act. Either way, from my seat he really hasn't done anything worthy of the attention he's getting since he busted out the Sharpie -- and that was over three years ago.

Since a slew of media outlets are no doubt going to run stories on T.O. attending a basketball game in what happens to be his place of residence, let's ignore for a moment that Owens is still the property of the Eagles and indulge this ridiculous notion of #81 suiting up for the Dirty Birds.

So we'll assume that for no good reason at all, the Eagles' front office -- arguably the most hardass executive entity in sports -- is willing to release T.O. to let him play with another team this season. Then let's pretend that the Eagles let one of the best receivers in the league sign with one of the top teams in their own conference. Seems pretty likely. As preposterous as the scenario is, just indulge me and pretend it happens. Now try for a second to conjure up a worse pairing of star QB and elite receiver than Mike Vick and Terrell Owens. If Owens has a problem with Donovan McNabb's passing, just think how furious he'd be at Vick. Number 7 is a joy to watch, but he sprays his hose all over the field (that's a metaphor for inaccurate throwing, you perv). A Vick/T.O. pairing would be about as good of an idea as Michael Vick going on Monday Night Football and revealing that he uses multiple cell phones to date more than one woman at the same time.

In sum, two things:

1) Though a number of people will try to speculate otherwise, there's no chance in hell that Owens attending the Hawks game has any bearing on his football future. He clearly just wanted to see Zaza Pachulia play.
2) Unless he goes over to McNabb's house and goes Najeh Davenport on Donnie Mac's laundry hamper, can we please find someone better to talk about than Terrell Owens?

November 09, 2005

Run Budhia, Run

In recent weeks there have been countless requests (by "countless," I of course mean "zero") for an update on young Budhia Singh, the three-year-old youth in India who is prone to the excessive running of marathons. Hard to believe, but there are some people out there who claim that running in excess of 30 miles could be harmful to the child's health. This is hard to believe. These kids -- they bounce back from anything. When I was growing up, I could run all the way down to my friend's house without stopping -- and that was at least 400 feet away. All of you tightwads need to cool it.

And as for all this talk that Budhia's mysterious mentor, who purchased the child for 800 rupees, might be exploiting his protege by putting him in TV commercials? That's just nonsense. To those of you paranoid types out there crying foul play, consider this: 800 rupees is close to seventeen dollars and fifty cents! That's a movie ticket and super combo at just about any theater in Manhattan. You think this mentor is going to pony up that kind of loot just to put the kid in TV commercials that could net him, the mentor, tens of thousands of dollars? These are desperate times, but not that desperate. If you pay close to twenty dollars for the rights to a child, you had better have bigger aspirations than just putting him in some highly-lucrative commercials. You have to take that child and mold him into a champion.

At some point, you're all going to have to stop babying this kid and let him blossom. He's THREE years old. What are three-year-olds supposed to do? Run! (Unless they can't really walk that well yet.) And as for all this talk that "30 miles is too much for a three-year-old," well -- here's a little statistical news flash. It's not. You know how in old-time basketball footage they shoot two-handed set shots and silly running shots in the lane and don't even throw down sweet dunks? Well, times have changed. Thirty miles is now like the equivalent of three miles.

You want my advice, Budhia -- keep running, kid. Keep doing those TV commercials. Get it while you're hot. Who knows how much time you have left.

As a side note, should you ever decide to ditch that loser mentor of yours and decide to train with a real coach, I'm sure I could set you up with someone much better. Of course, it would cost you.
-Gotta say, I can't get enough of this Dwyane Wade Converse commercial. Fall seven times. Stand up eight. Sounds like a night out with Sebastian Janikowski.

-Big week for steroids. First publishes a massive expose on baseball's doping problem, which actually looks informative, well-researched and so atrociously long that you'd need to take a sabattical from work to read it. Then, Rafael Palmeiro goes public with a statement that, correct me if I'm wrong, we already heard months ago. B-12? That's all you've got for me, Raffy? B-12? We already heard that excuse, and frankly no one believes that you somehow tested positive for a potent anabolic steroid by injecting vitamins, so try again. Actually, don't.

November 07, 2005

Young Man, Where Have You Been?

Do any of you out there ever pause and think about basketball players who suddenly vanish? Not like in a "was last seen enveloped in a bright light underneath a big round saucer in a corn field" kind of way. More like, Hey, last thing I remember that guy was playing ball for the Grizzlies. What the hell happened to him? For example, I give you Lawrence Moten. Had a nice career at Syracuse, went on to play briefly in the NBA in the mid to late 90's, and -- in the tradition of The Usual Suspects -- like that...he was gone.

Finding Moten isn't the point here -- he's probably playing in Europe, or has opened a successful copy shop, or sells action figures made of tongue depressors at a roadside stand in Des Moines. The point is, guys like Moten -- who are good enough to get noticed but not good enough to stick around in the League -- are kind of meant to disappear. Khalid El-Amin, Kareem Reid, Randolph Childress, Tony Akins -- all of these players fit a certain prototype. They're basketball's equivalent of a 4-A player -- someone who's good enough to make the big leagues but can't quite stick around. So it makes sense that they're prone to disappearing without announcement. (It's not like NBA teams have a big ceremony when they release their 12th man.)

With all of that said, it's kind of rare that a productive player, in this case a super-athletic big man who could legitimately help a lot of teams, completely evaporates from the basketball consciousness. But that's exactly what happened to Keon Clark. Remember Keon? Sure you do -- high-flying lefty with the unorthodox jumper, shiny bald dome, legs skinnier than your average Internet sports commentator. Apparently dude up and pulled a Theo Epstein-- adding in a brush or two with the law for good measure (Keon has been facing cocaine, marijuana and possession of firearm charges). Much like the Red Sox GM had lost interest in being an executive, Keon appears to be finished with the NBA life. He spends his days playing golf and the occasional pick-up run at the local Y, with 30 acres of land to his name and nearly $15 million (or so he says) in the bank.

So many questions: Is this the last we'll ever hear from Keon Clark? Are he, Biggie, 2Pac and Harold Miner actually living on a houseboat somewhere in the caribbean, listening to old Souls of Mischief albums and playing games of 2-on-2 on one of those floaty hoops that sits in the water? Lastly, if disappearing is so much fun, why aren't more people doing it? Or are they doing it and we just haven't noticed?
-Pete Rose Jr. recently pled guilty to drug charges, and quite frankly, this is just kind of sad. Like in a "screwed up dad raises son who screws up" kind of way.

-Presumably by now you've heard about what went down over the weekend with a couple of Panthers' cheerleaders, because every lecherous male on the planet has most likely forwarded this to at least 11 of his closest friends. But I, for one, am not going to take part in this filth. At some point a man has to have principles. And I will not, under any circumstances, be a party to that kind of smut. Whoops.

November 03, 2005

And Then There Were Twelve

You probably caught the headline by now -- Yankees' outfielder Matt Lawton became the 12th player to test positive under baseball's new steroid policy.

Under normal circumstances, this would be the point where I'd get up on my soapbox and rip into Lawton, a player I've actually been rather fond of over the years, for taking a steroid normally only used on horses (that's no joke, by the way). But I'm not going to do that.

Instead, I'm going to say a simple -- bravo.

Why? Because in this absurd era of excuse-making and half-assed apologies, Lawton at least got one thing right.

"I made a terrible and foolish mistake that I will regret for the rest of my life," Lawton said in a statement over the phone to the Associated Press. "I take full responsiblity for my actions and did not appeal my suspension. I apologize to the fans, the game, my family and all those people that I let down. I am truly sorry and deeply regret my lapse in judgment."

I don't know how you react to something like this, but to me it's refreshing as hell. No mention of "I think a supplement I took was contaminated," "This has to be a mistake," "I didn't do anything wrong" -- Lawton flat owned up. Does he get a free pass for using steroids? No. He cheated. Is it possible that someone else wrote this statement and handed it to him, at which point he proceeded to read it in an insincere monotone? Yeah. But in a sport, and a set of circumstances, where a possibly uncountable number of players illegally bulk up to the size of cyborgs and rarely -- if ever -- admit to wrongdoing even when caught, there was something about Lawton's statement that was, for lack of a better word, human.
-This doesn't exactly fall under the category of breaking news, but let's be honest -- The OCC hasn't exactly been out on the streets grinding it out for the hot scoops anyways. So by now you've probably heard that A-Rod fancies himself something of a poker player, and has been warned by the Yanks' administration about frequenting illegal poker spots in NYC. How great is this? Speaking of cyborgs -- the way that A-Rod projects himself, he'd have us, the sports-viewing public, think that he's the nicest, classiest guy around. But we all knew all along that wasn't true, right? Now we've got confirmation. A-Rod has a vice! This is tremendous. He may still be completely bankrupt of charisma, but at least now he's got a bit of an edge. Not to mention that the notion of someone frequenting underground poker spots in NYC calls to mind the Oscar-winning film "Rounders" (wait, that didn't win an Oscar?!?!?!?) Picturing A-Rod hanging out with a Teddy KGB-esque character is almost -- almost -- enough to make me kind of like him. Actually, no it's not.

-Not necessarily Ali G's finest work, but an amusing set of NBA ads here nonetheless.

-Raffy, please don't go.

-Lastly, gotta make a quick plug here for new Hawks' center Zaza Pachulia. If you haven't treated yourself to watching him in action, don't bother -- the Hawks are dreadful. But should you happen to find yourself watching the wretched ATL squad play your favorite team late one night on NBA League Pass, keep an eye on my man Zaza. Not only does he look like a genetically mutated version of Antonio Banderas, but he plays like the second coming of Rony Seikaly. Most importantly, the League has not had a player with this kind of porn star potential in a long time. Viva la Zaza!