A Night at the Continental
The OCC and Father of OCC took a trip out to The CAA (Continental Airlines Arena) Tuesday night in hopes of seeing LeBron and Vince score many points. Some observations:
-In case you hadn't noticed, Vinsanity is back. He shot just 5-for-19 tonight, and regrettably didn't make any plays that warranted jumping out of my seat with no regard for the chicken fingers and soda flying off my lap, but Monday night -- I kid you not -- I was watching the Nets game on TV and yelped audibly on a Vince Carter missed lay-up. Did anyone see this play? He went along the baseline, did a wrong-direction 360 and almost tossed it in. It was mindblowingly athletic, completely unnecessary, and quintissentially Vince.
-As for LeBron, my first viewing of him in person didn't teach me much I wasn't already aware of. Except that he's far bigger than he looks on TV, incredibly bowlegged and gets away with traveling way too much, particularly when he's finishing drives. Normally I'm not a stickler for this kind of thing, but in the case of LeBron it bothers me -- I don't want to see a player of his caliber clearly getting away with an extra step. It's one thing to give superstar players favorable foul calls, but that third step on a drive just doesn't look right. The refs would blow the whistle on Tyronn Lue for doing it, and in this case they should treat LeBron no differently.
-Speaking of chicken fingers (see item 1 above), I think I set a Tri-State Area record for "longest wait to purchase chicken tenders and fries combo" tonight. Left the seats with about 9 seconds remaining in the first half, and got back to the seats with a minute gone by in the third quarter. Completely unacceptable. It would have almost been quicker to hangglide to Tibet and slaughter a yak than to wait it out for the bozos at the concession stand to deep fry those chicken strips.
-The two guys next to me spent much of the game exchanging banter that was irritating to the point that I felt like clubbing them with a coin-filled sock, but I will admit that I was amused when one of them referred to Nets' center Nenad Krstic as "Krstic River." Too bad Nenad's name doesn't really rhyme with "mystic," but a good effort nonetheless. Naturally, the guy who made the joke immediately discredited himself just a few minutes later when he referred to Scott Padgett as "The Pigeon" and said something about the Pigeon "getting plucked," which prompted me to immediately begin searching through my pockets to see how much change I had.
-While on the subject of things that make me want to harm people, whoever invented thundersticks should be run over by a tractor. Is there anything worse than thundersticks?
-Actually, yes there is. You know what's worse? Seeing at least three inches of ass crack every time the guy in front of you stands up. I don't get it -- do these people not wear underwear? I understand occasionally showing the top of the crack, but a third to a half is not okay. If I wanted to see male butts I'd make a football wager with Nate Robinson. Really now.
Now catching up on some news from the past few days:
-In the most high-profile instance of a former member of the 1992 Atlanta Braves turning to crime since a cracked-out and very naked Otis Nixon threatened his bodyguard with a stiletto (registration required to view link), Jeff Reardon got himself arrested for armed robbery in Florida on Monday. Other than Reardon's remarkably enjoyable beard, this story is just kind of sad. Apparently he's all dosed up on medication, and not the kind that Otis Nixon was taking when he got nude and decided to play with knives. Police found Reardon nearby the scene of the crime and he didn't make any effort to get away. Almost like he wanted to get caught all along. I don't even have an insensitive joke here. Actually, I'm sure I could think of one, but I don't even feel like it. Poor bastard.
-That Tony Parker always seemed like such a nice boy...
-Got room for one more on the Shaun Livingston bandwagon? Scoot over please.
-Backtracking a bit to Matt Lawton's comments last week about his steroid use, and I'm posting a link to the ESPN.com story, which I hate doing unless it's necessary. However, in this case it must be done, because there's quite an interesting quote from Lawton in there. "I never had the urge to take any of that stuff before," Lawton said, "but I was talking to some guys, and they guaranteed it would take the pain out." Hmm..."some guys" wouldn't be referring to allegedly-reformed Jason Giambi, would it? Naaaaah.
-I'm sure you've all heard about this by now, but Pat Riley (or "Pat O'Riley," as my dear old Grandfather calls him) has been talking about bringing in sumo wrestlers to help Shaq prepare for the pounding he takes in the paint. Obviously just a PR ploy by O'Riley to get Shaq some additional love from the refs. Personally, I don't find Riles' sumo comments the least bit amusing. Kind of cliched if you ask me. But you know what I do find amusing? An article in The Australian referring to Shaq as a "2.16m, 154kg centre." Get that metric system crap out of here!
Locker Room Behavior
So there I was browsing the headlines on rotoworld.com (as I regrettably do about 31 times per day) when I came across the following item:"Nate Robinson missed today's game with a 'stomach virus.'"Alright, nothing abnormal there, I thought to myself, and very nearly moved on to the next blurb. But then, just below, I read rotoworld's analysis:"It was more than likely some sort of punishment for the naked wrestling taking place in the Knicks locker room the other day."Right, of course. Naked wrestl--SAY WHUT? Naked wrestling? New York Knicks? I immediately raced to Google and typed in every combination of "naked," "wrestling," "Knicks" and "Nate Robinson" I could think of, but alas no news stories popped up (though links to some rather flavorful sites did).So here I am, left with no clue as to what's going on. Did I somehow miss one of the stories of the year? Or did a foul-minded prankster intern subdue his higher-ups with an ether rag and seize control over at rotoworld HQ? Whatever the case, I need to know. Immediately. There will not be naked wrestling going on in an NBA locker room without me knowing about it!--------------------A few other thoughts:-On a far more innocent note than naked wrestling, I got a kick out of this moment in which Pat Riley came across exceedingly scrappy and rather bald former NBA point guard John Crotty, now a member of the media, at Riley's pregame press conference.-Big story coming out of Houston (thanks to Mr. Yak for the tip): Apparently round-trippers hit over the fence in Bellaire's Feld Park are now ruled outs, and the player hitting the dinger is forbidden from hitting the rest of the game. Seems the concern stems from the fact that a new home has been built out behind the left field fence. As someone who takes recreational softball way too seriously, this is a total load. From what I can gather reading the article, hitting one over the fence is a truly prodigious shot, a feat downright Incaviglian in nature. Isn't this to be rewarded? I knew Texas was a backward state, but really now -- this is just going too far. What's next -- penalizing outstanding plays in the field?
-Can't say I don't hate Johnny Damon right about now. But I also can't say in some small way I didn't see this coming way back in May.
-As you know if you logged on within the past 24 hours (not likely, I know), yesterday I basically said I was giving Stromile Swift one last chance to prove me right for not shutting up about how great he was going to be to watch with Houston this year. Well, tonight Stro got his chance to start -- and, he completely crapped the bed. Left a steaming pile right in his pajama pants. As Saul Rubinek's character Lee Donowitz says in "True Romance" to the dude who played Balki Bartokomous on "Perfect Strangers": "I treated you like a son. You fucking stab me in the heart."
Couldn't have said it better myself. The Stro Show? I want a refund.
Tice's Tickets, the Hawks Suck Again and More
Today's topics of discussion:
-Vikings' head coach Mike Tice is now preaching ticket scalping ethics, chastising Vikings ticket scalpers for selling their tickets to Steelers fans. Is it just me, or does this so blatantly scream hypocrisy that you can audibly hear the word "Hypocrisy!" in your head when you think about the very absurdity of Tice's actions. What's that you say? It IS just me? Hmm...I should probably have that looked at. Seriously, though, the fact that a man who got into so much trouble for scalping his own complimentary tickets would even speak out on the subject of ticket scalping speaks to the very imbecility (real word? Debate) at the core of his character, and in my opinion warrants immediate termination of his contract or at the very least a written berating at the hands of yours truly.
-And speaking of idiocy, newly-acquired Washington National Alfonso Soriano is refusing to move to the outfield to accomodate his new team. I don't really like to bandy about this word too often, but -- you wussy! What are you afraid of, Alfonso? And is Soriano really your last name, or is it actually Alfonso Ribiero? Honestly, does Soriano know he's a terrible second baseman? What could he possibly be worried about? Embarassing himself in the outfield? He does that on the regular at second. Maybe he's worried about losing his 2B eligibility in fantasy leagues. (Sorry -- nerdy joke. I immediately regret it but like it too much to remove.)
-Okay, so apparently the Hawks have regressed a bit since I proclaimed them to be approaching something resembling decent the other night. Or Pat Riley has taken things up a level since taking over as Miami's coach. Or most likely, both have happened. Whatever the case, tonight the Heat pistol-whipped the Hawks 111-92 in a game so lopsided that Gerald Fitch (doesn't that sound like an attorney's name?) scored 15 points for Miami, and Marvin Williams dropped 26 for ATL. Two words for you: garbage time.
-I touted him as a breakout player entering this year (doesn't that phrase make me sound like some kind of professional?), but I have already accepted the fact that Stromile Swift -- like a friend who lures you to his place claiming he has a cool house and fancy car but in reality lives in a tar-paper shanty and tools around on a big wheel -- has fooled me yet again. With Yao and Dikembe on the shelf, Stro is set to start at center for at least the short term. As far as I'm concerned, this is his last chance to prove he'll ever be anything more than a tease. Though I know deep down that disappointment looms, I'm buying one last ticket to the Stro Show.
The worst of it is, I haven't even seen the thing yet, and somehow I already feel like I just got scalped a phony ticket.
Colts Upended, Delhomme's Dirty Secret, and Hawks on the Rise
Here's what I'm thinking about on this Sunday night in December:
-The Colts lost today, ending their shot at an undefeated season. I don't know about you, but this development affects my pulse about as much as would watching a dollop of margarine plummet from the kitchen counter onto the floor. If I wasn't so burned out on the NFL season at this point (likely having something to do with the fact that both of my fantasy football teams' seasons have ended prematurely), I'd probably be thrilled -- I'm fed up with having this Colts dream season story shoved all up in my grill. Now that it's over, we can focus on more important NFL matters, such as...
-I read in SI this week that Carolina QB Jake Delhomme has stank breath. And it must be really stank, because it came up in an item that had absolutely nothing to do with hygiene or anything of that nature. I'm sorry, but I find this somewhat inexcusable on Delhomme's part. If a key part of your job description is barking out orders to a group of teammates in close quarters (a huddle), you can't be leaning down in there reeking of strange Dutch cheeses. It's just a consideration thing.
-On the NBA front, when we last spoke I said I thought Ron Artest wasn't going anywhere, and lo and behold he has since rescinded his trade request, saying he wants to stay with the Pacers. But apparently they have no interest in having him back. I'm now starting to think that there's at least a small chance we've seen Ron Ron's last game this year. The Pacers plan to deactivate him the rest of the year if they can't trade him. And despite all the trade talk, I don't believe that anything's close to happening.
-I'm not ready to smash open a meat-filled pinata in celebration just yet, but the Hawks are starting to show signs of being a reasonably decent basketball team. Their win over the Nuggets today was their fourth in the last five games. On a semi-related note, I'm starting to wonder if the Spurs, whom the Hawks recently beat, are really all that. Today the defending NBA champs lost to the Hornets. Either that team's not very motivated right now, or it's not as great as we've made it out to be.
-I was unable to stick around on the site long enough to listen, because frankly it was some of the most rank garbage I've ever heard, but I'll go ahead and tell you anyways that Macho Man Randy Savage has a CD. I think I'd honestly rather listen to a porpoise giving birth. Just dreadful.
-In closing, remember Shawn Kemp the way he once was? Perhaps you should reacquaint yourself.
Ron Ron's Demand, Return of Riley, Midget Races and More
Well, I'm back. Other than the fact that Bruce left the TV on, littered my couch (and bed) with what appear to be splintered fragments of melba toast and sent my armadillo Paolo into near-diabetic shock by spoonfeeding him applesauce all week, everything seems to be in order at OCC headquarters.
However, I can't say the same for the world of sports. I leave for one week and the whole operation falls apart. Unbelievable.
-Ron Artest wants to get traded out of Indy, and not surprisingly everyone's weighing in with his take. Can someone please say something about this other than, Whatever team takes on Artest will be assuming a significant risk? Come on. Personally, I think Pacers' GM Donnie Walsh is just saying he'll try to move Artest to pacify him while he tries to diffuse the situation internally. I just can't see the Pacers giving Artest away, which is what they'll have to do in order to trade him, because he's killed all their leverage. So I'm going on the record here and saying that Ron Artest will finish the season in Indiana.
Jesus, will you look what happened? Now I've weighed in with my own boring take on Artest. As punishment I will duct tape myself to the sofa this evening and watch the entirety of "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" without blinking.
-Tom Brady is SI's Sportsman of the Year. Sorry, but no. Make another selection. Brady is immediately disqualificatied for having taken part in photo shoot wearing a sailor outfit and cuddling with a baby goat.
-Pat Riley's going back to coach the Heat. I will now jam outstretched arm of James Posey bobblehead doll down my throat to induce vomiting. Not that the Heat was that entertaining of a squad to watch in the first place (with the notable exception of one D. Wade), but the association of Riley with those old Knicks-Heat bloodbaths is enough to make me sick. As a side note, it may have something to do with the fact that I'm starved for NBA hoops coverage in Year One of my No League Pass Era, but I'm kind of enjoying watching these young Knicks try to figure this thing out with Larry Brown screaming at them from the sidelines. I'm particularly enjoying the emergence of Nate Robinson, who is definitely exacerbating LB's bladder problems in a big way with his wreckless (yet incredibly entertaining) style of play.
-Don't know if you heard this, but Tony Stewart has announced plans to drive "midget races." My primary question about this is, what is a midget race? Is it a race in which he, Tony Stewart, drives a car while an extremely fleet-footed midget or midgets attempt to beat him to the finish line? Or is it a race in which a bunch of midgets compete against one another and Tony Stewart runs along behind them striking them with a whip to hurry them along? Also, is it really okay to say "midget car," or is there a more preferred nomenclature? Come to think of it, isn't it a bit dubious for me to propose a scenario in which Tony Stewart strikes a flock of scurrying midgets with a whip?
-Speaking of morally questionable behavior, I can think of no better way to end this jetlagged post by making mention of this crazy broad (can I say broad? I don't think I can) who landed belly-first in a parking lot at 50 mph after skydiving out of a plane when her parachute didn't open, yet somehow didn't die. Aren't there physics formulas to prove that this is like, physically impossible? Force times velocity = death, or something like that. I don't remember. Anyhoo, this story gets better. Turns out this woman, who is clearly a cyborg, was pregnant at the time, though she didn't know it. Yet somehow, all indications are that the child is still alive. It is truly a miracle. The baby's due in June. To celebrate, mom already has a skydiving trip planned for August! You know my motto: If something really dangerous goes drastically wrong yet somehow doesn't kill you, do it again as soon as humanly possible.
Bruce the Intern here. Just received a letter from the OCC via carrier pigeon -- return address unknown. It reads:
Dearest Bruce -- must be brief. Time is short and it is not safe here. I fear I am being watched. Also, they can read my thoughts, but I'm wearing an old bicycle helmet so I think that should buy me some time.
I write because I must chime in on baseball's winter meetings. So much has happened, but quite naturally the transaction that caught my eye beyond all others was the Braves-Red Sox Andy Marte for Edgar Renteria trade. In case I don't make it back, put me down as having said this is a strong move by the Braves. Yes, losing Rafael Furcal -- the only man on the planet capable of making people get out of their seats with a throw from shortstop -- hurts. It hurts a lot. But he was gone the moment he heard the words "13 million a year," as would be any person who has been offered a grossly overblown amount of money in proportion to the services they provide.
At close to half the price the Dodgers will pay Furcal, the Braves get Renteria (the Red Sox are picking up some of Edgar's salary). There's plenty to be worried about considering the year Renteria had last year in Boston, but I see him as being exactly the type of player who thrives in the semi-sleepy environs of Turner Field. And I've never been wrong about predicting a player's performance before (except for about 700 times).
Interestingly enough, the move (or non-move) that seems to be generating even more of a response amongst the Atlanta faithful is the allowed departure of 113-year-old first baseman Julio Franco to the Mets.
I must admit -- I, too am somewhat devastated about losing Senior Julio, whom I call "Senior" quite literally. Not only was the man incredibly adept at losing the grip on his bat and flinging it deep into the stands at the end of his swing, causing countless children and fellow senior citizens unspeakable bodily harm, but for a man who by all rights should be hocking loogies into a spitoon out in the countryside for a living, he can still swing the bat pretty darn well. With all of your blessings, on any and all appearances at Shea Stadium next year, I intend to shout out "Viva la Julio!" as loud as I can any time that scientific and archaeological oddity steps out of the dugout next season and beyond.
Now I must run. In my excitement, I screamed out Julio Franco's name in Hebrew (don't ask), and I fear I may have been detected.
Until next time --
The OCC is going to be on the road for the next 8 days and most likely will be unable to provide meaningless insight into the world of sport during that time.In my absence, the intern, Bruce (who doesn't exist) will be taking over the reigns.See you next week.
J. Howard's Dental Hygiene, Sager Gets Smushed & Other Thoughts
-Don't know if anyone else saw this, but I'm pretty sure Mavs' forward Josh Howard wears rubber bands on his braces. Which is to say, he has braces, and there are rubber bands attached to them. I know this because I saw them during an interview on TNT tonight. Three questions: 1) What is he, 14? 2) Does he also wear a headgear when he sleeps and collect GI Joes? 3) If it were you, wouldn't you want to take out the rubber bands before you did a TV interview? -Speaking of interviews, classic interaction between Smush (who has earned one-word name status on this site) and Craig Sager at halftime of the Lakers-Jazz game tonight. Smush looked like he was ready to rip out Sager's trachea.-Someone I know recently informed me he was "a little Michael Irvined." I'm not exactly sure what that means. Is he saying he's a good football player?-On the topic of football -- In a bit of not-so-subtle Heisman campaigning, Reggie Bush's high school highlight tape has been released.-Barry Bonds apparently plans to play in the World Baseball Classic next year, which is pretty cool. This might end up being a very exciting event. However, I'm almost more interested in one line that's just kind of thrown in at the end of this article: Monsieur Bonds plans to get his playing weight down to 200 for next season. Before we know it, we're going to be looking at Barry circa 1993.-Things That it is Not Okay to Do Under Any Circumstances: Carry on a lengthy cell phone conversation whilst squatting out a doodie in a public restroom. Had the misfortune of seeing/hearing someone doing this the other day. It changed me.