May 31, 2006

I'll Take the Bullet

  • Came across a fascinating article in the New York Post about Dwight Gooden's incarceration in a Florida institution that confirms for about the ten thousandth time what I already knew to be true: Prison is absolutely terrifying. No, I've never been there myself -- I just know it's scary from television, movies, and nightmares. As Gooden put it, "I'd rather get shot than come back here." Wow. I really, really, really do not ever want to go to jail. One stunning thing about this story is that Doctor K had the choice of spending a year in jail or going on probation with any further trouble leading to a five-year prison sentence, and he elected to go to prison, apparently on his attorneys' advice. Nice work, lawyers. But then again, Gooden must bear some of the blame for this choice also. Because you know what I would not do voluntarily under any circumstances? Go to jail.
  • It takes about five seconds of watching Avery Johnson in action to know that the Mavs' head coach is one feisty bastard, and I suppose it should come as no surprise that the Little General's wife is not opposed to throwing down with fans while seated in the stands. I think the most shocking thing about this story (and by "shocking," I mean "not in the least bit surprising") is that Mark Cuban came into the stands to get Cassandra Johnson's back. Say this for Cuban: He may be kind of a freak, but don't question his loyalty for a second. If anyone affiliated with his team were ever in a brawl, you'd have to think Cuban would be the first one into the fray, scrapping and grabbing onto legs Jeff Van Gundy style. Gotta love Mark Cuban.

  • Speaking of irresistable sports personalities, this week New York is getting its first look at Lastings Milledge, the much-hyped jewel of the Mets' farm system. And let me say, thus far the Milledge experience has been pretty tremendous. Not only does he sport outrageous Lil Jon-style dredlocks (a slight exaggeration), but in his debut he had a positively gigantic cross flapping from a chain around his neck as he trotted around the outfield. In Wednesday night's game, he caught some light boos from the notoriously tough NY fans after he botched a routine fly out in the outfield, then (in the tradition of "Dumb and Dumber") totally redeemed himself by gunning down Craig Counsell at third with an absolute missile from right field. As a Braves fan I'm very solidly anti-Met these days, but mark me down as a fan of Monsieur Milledge, who conjures just the slightest memory of the kind of flare Deion Sanders used to bring to the diamond in his ATL heyday. For the record, The OCC doesn't hand out Deion comparisons every day. Don't disappoint me, Lastings.

  • In closing, my sincerest congratulations to Indians' reliever Scott Sauerbeck, who makes his debut on this page thanks to his delightfully wreckless behavior this week, when he was spotted by police swerving in his vehicle, at which point he darted out of his car (along with his female companion), hurdled a fence and hid in a bush in someone's backyard. Apparently Scotty S. was doing a bit of the drinky-drinky, not to mention cavorting with a woman who was a) not his wife and b) sporting a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit. Oops. To his credit, Sauerbeck owned up, saying, "I'm a big boy and I'm going to have to handle it." Props to Sauerbeck for taking responsibility, but I've gotta debate the "big boy" claim. Taking refuge in the bushes is actually kind of juvenile -- rather "Hide and Go Seek" if you ask me. We big boys actually do something quite different when confronted with trouble: We run away.

May 30, 2006

Up North Trip

  • In news that should be downright inspirational to reefer smokers all across the globe (but probably won't be because you're all lazy bastards who are incapable of being inspired), noted ganja afficionado and recreational pro football player Ricky Williams is planning to play for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League while serving his one-year suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Ricky is allowed to do this because the CFL doesn't bar players who are suspended from the NFL. Which reminds us yet again of that age-old addage (as if we didn't know it all too well): If you're in trouble with the law in the U.S., flee to Canada. They're nicer there.
  • Now seamlessly transitioning to another item from the sports police blotter, Washington Wizards' guard Gilbert Arenas was recently cited by Johnny Law for disobeying officers during an incident in which Arenas' teammate Awvee Storey (not a typo) was blocking traffic. Apparently Storey was causing trouble, and Arenas came up to stand alongside his teammate even though the officers told him to stay in the car. There's a lesson to be learned here, and I believe it is, don't hang out with the scrubby guy on the team no one's heard of, and if you are hanging out with him, don't go out of your way to get his back when he's acting like an idiot.
  • Breaking news on the Barbaro front: Jockey Edgar Prado is going to visit the gimped equine on Tuesday for the first time since the injury. Is anyone else picturing the horse lying on his back in a hospital bed covered in bandages, wearing a blue gown with his injured leg done up in one of those harness/sling things? Didn't think so. But seriously, am I also the only one who finds the continuing coverage of this just completely ridiculous? I said it before and I'll say it one last time: The only development worth reporting on this front will be if the beast dies. Otherwise, I speak for anyone else with a shred of normalcy when I say that we just don't care. Don't even tell me anything about Tuesday's jockey-horse visit unless something crazy happens. An example of something crazy would be if Barbaro began verbally admonishing Prado for his role in the accident with just the slightest hint of a Spanish accent but otherwise speaking perfectly clear English. So to sum up one last time so we're clear -- unless the horse talks or dies, I don't want to hear about him.
  • In the rare piece of news I will not attempt to make light of, former Falcon Craig "Ironhead" Heyward died over the weekend. I consider it a strange and rather cruel twist that the man with the iron head lost his life to a brain tumor. But nevertheless, here he'll forever be remembered in his vintage 1995 form, a hard-charging, no-nonsense bruiser who epitomized one simple philosophy: run hard. You want inspiration on the football field? Here it was, a man with the size and sheer will to run through anybody. R.I.P., Ironhead.

May 26, 2006

Hit, Run, and Waddle

  • You've probably heard by now through more reputable news outlets that Broncos' QB Jake Plummer was recently involved in a hit-and-run/road rage/maniacal outburst unbefitting a man of his salary. As reported in the Denver Post, a man named Doug Stone complained to police that he had been the victim of a hit-and-run by a man driving a gray Honda van registered to Plummer. Said a witness of the incident, "Being who he is, he should really be a role model, and I'm really shocked that he would do such a thing." I too am shocked and appalled, but not by Plummer's behavior -- but by his choice of car. A gray minivan? Are you serious, Jake? What are you doing, toting neighborhood kids to soccer practice? You are supposed to be a role model, and while any realistic sports fan knows not to expect you to uphold the law, we do expect you to drive a bad-ass car. So if you can't avoid busting people up in your vehicle and then soon after fleeing the scene, the very least you could do is upgrade your ride.
  • Barry Bonds, is that you? I'm confused, for just the other day I read this story in which Bonds sounds -- dare I say -- affable. Specifically, he is quoted as telling Albert Pujols that he wants him (Pujols) to break his single-season home run record. And while that alone isn't enough to make Bonds suddenly a good guy (we all know better than that), in the article he repeatedly says things that make him seem almost momentarily likable. Which makes me think the thing wasn't properly fact-checked.
  • Don't you wish that Heineken commerical... would stop playing? Don't you wish that Heineken commercial... would stop playing? Don't you...
  • While watching Twins' manager Ron Gardenhire get ejected from Wednesday's game against the Indians and seeing the umpire use the very standard ejection move of slightly bending one leg at the knee and emphatically pointing in the direction of the stands, it occurred to me: How great would it be if umpires had signature ejection moves? For instance, one umpire could have the special ejection move of ripping the team insignia patch off the manager's jacket. Or another ump could make it his M.O. to de-pants the manager right there on the field. Are you telling me the fans wouldn't go insanely wild when a manager came out of the dugout to argue if they knew there was a chance he was going to have his pants unceremoniously yanked off at the end of the argument? Just picturing Bobby Cox waddling off the field with his pants around his ankles after an ejection is almost enough to make me laugh out loud. And yes, I'm fully aware that this means I have mental problems. I think I hear someone striking a gong offstage -- it's time to end this post immediately before I say something really stupid I might regret. (Too late.)

May 24, 2006

Bad Break

  • Going to kick off today's entry with some rare talk of equines. And by "equines," to inform the uneducated, I mean horsies. I'll come right out and say that I'm really not feeling this Barbaro story. So the horse broke his leg. And it was gross. And he might die. But he's a horse! Are you really going to tell me that this is the best we can do this week? As you'll shortly find out, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on, but we're going with the gimpy-legged beast as front page news? Please, give me a break (pun not intended but noticed later). Wake me up if he dies. Otherwise, I don't want to hear about it.
  • Some advice to you kids: Don't do drugs. But if you do find yourself in possession of them (remember, I don't approve of this behavior), don't do what Florida State hoops recruit Jon Kreft did. After already being busted for marijuana possession, this master criminal offered up to police unsolicited that he had stashed a sack of cocaine in his butt. Honestly, how dumb are you? I understand the idea of pre-emptively fessing up so as to avoid increasing the severity of the penalty, but do you really think the police were going to search his butt crack? Strike that question. Of course they were going to search his butt crack.
  • And if you need proof that there are sick pervert police officers out there who are prone to searching peoples private areas, look no further than the dude who was caught rogering two ladies in a bathroom at Houston's Minute Maid Park. Officer, you are hereby relieved of duty. Could have been worse, I suppose -- at least one of them was his wife.
  • Fine work by The Onion drawing a parallel between the current administration of the Knicks and the current administration of our country. It actually works quite well. Maybe Isiah and Dubya should switch roles. Dubya did, as you know, once own the Texas Rangers, so he's got experience there. And Isiah is completely incompetent when it comes to running an organization, so how could he possibly be worse? He'd probably acquire a whole bunch of overpriced countries and attempt to make their people fit into American culture, to no avail.
  • In closing, I'd like to leave you with one of my all-time favorite commercials which I have recently re-discovered thanks to the wonder of YouTube. I present you with Alan and Jerome, the irreverent and delightfully idiotic Fox Sports basketball mascots. Why they stopped making these commercials, I will never know. Though I suppose it's possible either Alan or Jerome bottomed out on crystal meth or something. Why must the brightest stars flame out so fast? Alan and Jerome -- you may be gone, but you are not forgotten!

May 22, 2006

The Baseball Gods Must Be Crazy

  • In a news development that really shouldn't be very interesting and definitely shouldn't be any of our business but for some reason has become both, former Little League age falsifier Danny Almonte has married a 30-year-old. Why is this so fascinating? Personally I think aside from the simple novelty of a 19-year-old who hasn't finished high school marrying a 30-year-old woman, it's the fact that everything we've ever heard about Almonte revolves around his age in a negative way. First he was too old to be in the Little League World Series. Now (according to the media's take) he's too young to be marrying a woman 11 years his senior. Well I, for one, have had enough, and I think it's time we let Danny Almonte be. And clearly, what he wants to be is old. So if he chooses to get married as a means of accomplishing that goal, more power to him. And should he elect to walk around with a cane and grow a really long white beard before going to live in a nursing home at age 25, I'm not going to begrudge him that either. Danny, you do what you gotta do. You're a pioneer who boldly challenges societal restrictions on age, and for that, I respect you. Now go have fun! You've got the rest of your life ahead of you. (Well, kind of.)
  • Not sure about you, but I've had absolutely no difficulty deciding who to side with in the Michael Barrett-AJ Pierzynski feud. And it's not just because I played against Barrett in high school and look for every opportunity to bring that up that I possibly can. No, when Barrett rose up from the dirt yesterday and cracked AJ Pierzynski in the side of the dome, he took a swing against the smug pricks of the world for all of us. I've obviously never met Pierzynski, but if he's not one of the five biggest a-holes in all of baseball, then he needs to hire a new publicist, because he sure seems to relish that image. So, for what it's worth, I've got your back, Michael. And I'm fully aware that's worth absolutely nothing.
  • On the subject of baseball players I wouldn't necessarily mind seeing punched in the face, Astros' third baseman Morgan Ensberg was recently quoted as saying that the entire reason he plays baseball is so that he can speak out about Jesus Christ. Omm...I'm not sure how to put this, but wouldn't it be a more efficient method of spreading J.C.'s word to become a minister? And for the record, Morgan, if you are really delusional enough to think that's your purpose as a baseball player (I would argue you're paid to hit home runs, not talk about God), you're not doing a particularly good job, because I for one have never heard you drop a single G-bomb (I just want to thank God...) on televised air. So keep up the great work, dude. That's really awesome that you're all evangelical. But just know that if you show up a-knocking at my door talking that nonsense, I'm going to feel obliged to take a home run cut at your dome piece with my Chipper Jones autographed bat.
  • What did 714 mean to you? Joe Buck called it "just another highlight" (or something along those lines) during FOX's broadcast on Saturday, as a way of saying that so many of Bonds' homers are in question because of steroids that you can't really accept this as a real milestone. I wish Joe was right and that we could all be stoic about it, but to me it's way more than just another highlight because of all the suspicion surrounding Bonds. It's almost like the massive efforts to discredit Bonds' homer count have elevated the attention and importance of the whole chase to a level it wouldn't have reached otherwise. Whatever the case, I find the whole thing to be both captivating and incredibly tiresome at the same time. Here's hoping 715 comes and goes quickly, and more importantly, here's a sincere baseball prayer* that Barry never gets close enough to make Hammerin' Hank have to worry.
* Sorry, not that kind of prayer, Morgan.

May 19, 2006

Please Leave a Message

The OCC is having his pancreas removed today*, so regrettably there will be no new entry. However, please take this opportunity, if you are so inclined, to read his take on Isiah Thomas at Thank you and good day.

* Not true

May 18, 2006

Follow That Motorcycle

  • In perhaps the most simultaneously confusing and hilarious Atlanta Hawks moment since the drafting of 7-4 behemoth Priest Lauderdale in 1996, the team mascot was recently captured on video camera riding around the streets of ATL on a tiny motorcycle. There are two particularly wonderful things about this: As you can see on the video, the streets he was riding around on were decidedly not busy thoroughfares, so there's no way this was a team promotional thing. Clearly it was some kind of rogue maneuver, dare, prank or -- perhaps most likely -- the mascot for one of the NBA's worst teams finally having lost his mind and therefore riding a tiny motorcycle in full uniform even though the team's season is over and he's probably not currently being paid. Secondly, I would be remiss if I didn't note that the motorcycle appears to stall at one point, which is such an obvious metaphor for the Hawks' franchise that I'll just leave it alone.
  • I'm noticing a new and deeply irritating trend of late: Institutions of higher learning are becoming absolutely obsessed with what goes on at sports team functions. Granted, I understand the increased scrutiny given what may or may not have happened with the Duke lacrosse team, but now it's gone too far: Catholic University is investigating its women's lacrosse team after photos showed a male stripper at a freshman initiation event. Omm...perhaps I'm confused here, but isn't the reason the Duke team is being investigated because there were strippers and there may have been rape? Now you're not even allowed to have strippers at college? Of course, the school is called "Catholic University," which does suggest a certain opposition to having the Hot Cops dancing around naked at a lacrosse party, but seriously -- this does not seem like the kind of bandwagon schools need to be jumping on unless it's absolutely necessary. Unless some kind of crime might have been committed, sweep it under the rug and contact me when you've got some real news.
  • Bad day for current and former AL Central outfielder/DH's: Dmitri Young (domestic violence) and Albert Belle (stalking) are in trouble with Johnny Law. Come to think of it, does getting arrested on a stalking charge really constitute a bad day for Albert Belle at this point, or is it more just kind of a nuisance? At what point have you shirked common societal principles so many times that you officially don't care anymore? I dare you to ask Albert Belle this question in a really irritating, pseudo-intellectual tone and then stand there while he tries to tear your arms off.
  • Speaking of shirking societal norms, did you know there's a dude who weighs 1,212 pounds? That, as the author points out, is as many as five baby elephants. Which I personally think is an odd choice of comparison. (Since I would have to be as devoid of morals as Albert Belle to make fun of a 1,212-pound man, I'm going to make fun of the author who wrote the story as a substitute.) Why not say it's the same weight as two fully-grown hippos? Okay, well -- apparently hippos can weigh up to 7,000 pounds, so that doesn't really work. But you get my point -- the baby elephant comparison isn't really doing it for me, I think primarily because the word "baby" is so incongruous with the weight of 1,212 pounds. I'd much rather hear that he weighs the same as 242.4 ring-tailed lemurs. But maybe that's just me.
  • And now I've clearly lost it. But before I go, I'd like to give some OCC love (in the most non-sexual way imaginable) to my good friend The Bird, who is responsible for the site's dare I say majestic new look. Like Kobe switching to Number 24, a new era has begun here at The Off-Color Commentator. Which is to say, I will be doing the exact same shit as always in a slightly different uniform.

May 17, 2006

Forecast Calls for Haze

  • I think I may have gone to a boring college. Or, at the very least, I didn't play women's soccer. The latest scandal of debauchery to rock University Town U.S.A. comes courtesy of the Northwestern women's soccer team, which has apparently engaged itself in some rather wild hazing practices. Not that I am really qualified to say they're wild by national hazing standards -- having never played college sports or belonged to a fraternity, the closest I've come to hazing was the time a football player threw his golf club through my car window. (Wow, that makes me sound like a loser.) In any case, the photos linked above are completely inappropriate, and I totally disapprove. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go work on the blueprints for a time machine so I can go back to college.
  • In news that runs to the complete opposite end of the debauchery spectrum (yes, there is a debauchery spectrum), the Universities of Florida and Georgia have decided that their annual game in Jacksonville is no longer to be referred to as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party citing concerns over irresponsible alcohol use. Instead, the game will be referred to as the World's Largest Collection of Students Drinking Out of Flasks.
  • In slightly lower-profile nomenclature news, a Las Vegas-based restaurant called the Pink Taco is planning to open a second branch in Scottsdale, Arizona -- and residents are not happy. I can't understand why. They must be oversaturated with Mexican restaurants already. Seriously, though -- all I have to say to you, people of Scottsdale is, get your minds out of the gutter. It's a Mexican Restaurant! Surely the managers couldn't have intended for Pink Taco to mean that. Okay, of course they did. But I think we can all agree that there are more important things to worry about, like the name of the Florida-Jacksonville football game.
  • An update from the animal sporting world: Just for shits and giggles, a Sloth bear ate a Barbary macaque monkey at a zoo in Amsterdam on Sunday, much to the horror of shocked onlookers. To the onlookers, I say this: What do you expect? It's a freaking zoo. Deep down, when we go to the zoo, aren't we all hoping to see one animal slaughter another? (Or is that just me?)
  • And when we read the newspaper or Internet news stories, aren't we just hoping to find headlines like this: "Feliz's Grand Blow Leads Giants' Romp"? Honestly, is it possible that they're so busy at that no one looked at this headline and considered the absurd connotations it conjures? Sounds like the description of a sex party involving sasquatches. If only there were a sasquatch named Feliz, it would make me very happy.

May 15, 2006

On Siegfried and Roy and Hot Pink Bats

  • Went down to our nation's capital this weekend and had a serious gut check moment while riding the Chinatown bus. In one of those everyday feats of athleticism that often gets overlooked (I suppose for good reason), I attempted to urinate in the bathroom at the back of the bus while it was plowing down the interstate. Terrible idea. As it just so happens, it's very difficult to keep the stream going while being bounced off the disturbingly sticky walls of a motorized outhouse. Note to self: In future, risk hemorrhaging of bladder if necessary to avoid such situations.
  • Speaking of D.C., I'm pretty sure there's no worse team to root for right now than the Nationals. Not only is the team quite rotten, but they play in a miserable ballpark and apparently their games are rarely ever on TV (Friday night's game against the Braves was nowhere to be found), because Orioles' owner Peter Angelos won't allow another team to compete with the Orioles. And to think baseball owners get a bad rap!
  • On the subject of underappreciated everyday feats of athleticism, this video clip is quite remarkable, if not completely horrifying. The moral of this story -- know when you've messed with the nerdy kid one too many times, because he might be able to throw scissors with incredible force and accuracy (probably because he's watched so many ninja movies). [Note: if watching at work, beware that audio contains multiple f-bombs.]
  • I would like to take this moment to briefly update one of this site's all-time favorite stories: Former Raiders' kicker Cole Ford has pleaded guilty to busting caps in the home of Siegfried and Roy in 2004. His reasoning? He believed Siegfried and Roy to be dangerous, primarily because they interact with their animals in creepy ways. Another reason he shot at them: He is insane. The fact is, Siegfried and Roy are not dangerous, and the only thing creepy about them is...well, everything.
  • In closing, as I'm sure you heard, Major League Baseball decided to raise awareness for breast cancer and commemorate Mother's Day by having players use really lame-looking pink bats. I suppose that in looking completely stupid the bats did accomplish their goal and make people notice them, but to me this is kind of like shooting at Siegfried and Roy's house -- isn't there a less ridiculous way to send a message? I don't really mean to be insensitive to the issues at hand, but there's something kind of incongruous about seeing bulked-up sluggers carrying pink sticks around the field. Why don't we just have them carry around Prada hand bags while we're in the process of emasculating them? Whereever we all stand on this issue, I think we can all agree on a perfect compromise for next year to raise awareness while maintaining a certain level of dignity: "Mom" tattoos on the biceps.

May 11, 2006

Is That a Wandy on Your Face or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

  • In one of those blatant cases where the team's athletic trainer should have made up a lie to tell the press instead of revealing the true nature of the injury, it has came to light that Astros' pitcher Wandy Rodriguez was recently troubled by cold sores on the inside of his mouth that only allowed him to eat liquid food. Ever had (or heard of anyone having) cold sores that bad? Me neither. To me, this clearly screams "vicious side effects from STD." In any case, I shall now heretoforth refer to cold sores as "Wandys," and I hope you will take it under consideration to do the same.
  • Have you ever played that game with your friends, "I wonder which pro athletes are gay?" Just admit it -- of course you have (not that there's anything wrong with that). I bring this up because I recently came across this story about former NFL lineman Esera Tuaolu, who is now openly out of the closet. Was interested to note that the article was written by one D. Orlando Ledbetter. Do you suppose he's of any relation to the song with the first name of Yellow?
  • I'm a couple days late in reporting this, but I think that I should be allowed some lee way since I first reported it months before the New York Times broke the story: Pedro Martinez likes playing with flowers. I think this is one of those cases where the headline speaks for itself and nothing more needs to be said (except of course that flowers are for girls).
  • Earlier today I was debating what to order for lunch, and was openly discussing the issue with a person nearby. My choices: The always delicious cheeseburger and fries, or a Greek salad with grilled chicken. I presented the nature of my dilemma (tasty and unhealthy versus virtuous), and the woman nearby responded, "Oh, forget healthy. You're going to feel real stupid when you get hit by a dirty taxi later. Get the burger." Other than finding this to be pretty sound advice from an existential standpoint, for some reason, the phrase "dirty taxi" struck me quite funny. And, for the record, I wussed out and went with the salad. Kind of expecting a dirty taxi to strike me down for my disappointing order any moment now.

Hold Please

More to come very soon, readers. In the meantime, feel free to digest my take on Boris Diaw.

Thank you and good day.

May 04, 2006

Slug Fest

Yes, I'm aware that this has nothing to do with sports, but sometimes there's really nothing quite so satisfying as seeing one random middle-aged lady club another about the face with her fist. A couple other thoughts come to mind:

On my eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C., we were at the Union Station mall when a kid who was not in any way affiliated to my school walked up to a kid in my grade, struck him with his open hand across the face and cried out, "Pimp slap!" I'm pretty sure the technique used above is the middle-aged woman's equivalent of the pimp slap.

What do we suppose the back story is here? This certainly lends itself to speculation. The most important question to answer is: How does the random old lady fit into all of this? I did some investigatory work (i.e., I cranked up the audio) and I heard the lady who got punched say that the young girl had THC in her system. My thinking is that the punchee is the school principal, the child is the delinquent student who has been smoking reefer, and the puncher is the delinquent student's mom. It's also possible that this is some kind of juvenile justice center and the woman who got clocked is a court-appointed counselor. Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that old lady is clearly some crazed hag who just wandered in off the street and started rambling incoherently despite the fact that she has no affiliation to these people whatsoever. I'm almost certain that if we saw the remainder of the video someone would have to punch the old woman in the face to silence her demented ranting.

May 03, 2006

On Testicle Tugging and Other Important Matters

It may not be on the caliber of a crazed rugby fan cutting off his gonads and bringing them with him to the local pub, or a demented individual cutting off his member and hurling it at the police, but I am pleased to bring word of the latest entry from the Genatalia Files. From the Nuggets-Clippers series -- as you may or may not have heard, Nuggets' forward Reggie Evans has been fined 10 grand and retroactively given a flagrant foul after accusations that he yanked on Clippers' center Chris Kaman's ballsack in Game 4.

There are a number of wonderful aspects to this story, but I'll highlight just a couple of them for you:

-NBA Senior VP Stu Jackson and Co. had to review video of this alleged incident in the wake of Kaman's accusations to determine what had happened. Can't you picture Stu and others in a stuffy executive suite declaring, "Yes, you can see it. He definitely pulled on his testicle sack there. I'm quite certain." Me neither. In truth, is there any chance that Stu and his cohorts weren't either laughing or wincing in pain the entire time they watched the tape? There's just no way to remain mature when discussing this kind of thing. At least for me there isn't.

-Judging by the hair atop Chris Kaman's head, is there any extrapolation we might be able to make...

Actually, strike that thought from the record.

-In perhaps my favorite little side bar protruding from this saga, Reggie Evans has accused Kaman of lying about the alleged teste pull. Now really, is there anyone out there who would make something like that up? It doesn't exactly reflect on Kaman in a positive light to say he had his balls pulled on in the midst of a hoops game -- it basically just makes him look like Evans' bitch. So what incentive would he have to fabricate such a story?

-Lastly, how does pulling another man's balls only warrant a $10,000 fine? Short of stabbing him in the trachea with the sharpened leg of a folding chair, is there anything worse one basketball player can do to another on the field of play? In this case, there can be no monetary restitution that rights the wrong. Kaman should get to kick Reggie Evans -- and
George Karl, just for the heck of it -- directly in the gonads while Marcus Camby and his mother watch helplessly from the sideline.
-In case you weren't yet sick of Matt Leinart, he and Paris Hilton have just gone public with the news that they are an item. At the risk of sounding angry for no particular reason at all, I hope that they both suffer matching left ACL tears in freak football-related (or in the case of Paris, non-football-related) accidents.

-In completely non-sports related news that I feel deeply compelled to report, a 62-year-old Yonkers woman has been charged $1,431 in cable pornography charges, which she has vehemently disputed. All I'm gonna say is: Where there's smoke, there's fire.

-In a bizarre scene yesterday, A's catcher Jason Kendall charged the mound on Angels' pitcher John Lackey basically over nothing. Watch the video and you'll see that Lackey gets Kendall in a headlock and attempts to bludgeon him a la Nolan Ryan on Robin Ventura but pretty much fails miserably. Also note the explanation from Angels' color commentator Rex Hudler, without a doubt my favorite baseball analyst out there, primarily because he sounds like an out of work lifeguard.

-In case you were wondering, baseball cards and the people who collect them are still nerdy. Apparently cards were printed of KC Royals' prospect Alex Gordon when they weren't supposed to be (some nerdy rule about not printing rookie cards unless the rookie had already appeared in the majors), and as a result the few cards that were printed are worth quite a bit of money in the nerd community. I can't imagine why you'd want to know anything more about this story than what I've already told you, but here's the link in case you want to learn more.


May 01, 2006

The LBJ Shuffle

On a playoff weekend filled with incredible late game moments, it may have been the most memorable – but for the wrong reasons.

Late in Friday night's Wizards-Cavs game, with the Cavs trailing by one, LeBron got the ball with Antonio Daniels guarding him. He crossed over once, then twice as he maneuvered towards the basket. When he got close, he picked up his dribble and up faked, getting his man in the air. A moment later, he was elevating, double-pumping, and kissing an improbable shot off the glass. Cavs win.

Unbelievable moment, right? Only one problem:

It was a travel.

You might have missed it the first time you saw it, but if you looked a second time there was no denying it. After picking up his dribble, LeBron took not one, but two full steps from a dead standstill as he went to the basket. Yet the officials made no call. It's almost as if it was so blatantly illegal that they couldn't believe anyone would dare do it. Ever accidentally stolen something by walking out of a store with it in your hand? Sometimes the most obvious approach is the most deceptive.

And for the most part I wouldn't have a problem with this – I understand late in games that officials don't want to blow the whistle unless it's completely necessary. But with LeBron, it's becoming a chronic problem. We may not want to admit it because he's so much fun to watch, but King James reigns supreme when it comes to getting away with illegal footwork. Has anyone else noticed this? Watch LeBron closely going to the basket and you'll see he's constantly adding an extra step (or two) on his way to the hole.

I'm not naïve enough to think that LeBron's the first player to get away with traveling, or that he's the first NBA star to get away with illegal moves. But the travel is a particularly tough one to come to terms with as a fan because it looks bad, and it's impossible to ignore even if you want to. You can't really appreciate a move when it's so clearly illegal. It's one thing for a star to get away with the occasional push-off, because there's actually some skill and timing involved in the subtlety of it (MJ hooking Bryon Russell's ankle comes to mind). You've got to be sneaky with your push-off or the ref's going to spot it. But with LeBron traveling, you get the feeling that the refs actually know he's doing it (how could they not?), but they're too scared to stop it because he's LeBron. The refs in this case are like crappy summer camp counselors, and LeBron's the rebellious kid. He pushed the limits at the start of camp to see what he could get away with, and the refs didn't stop him. And when he got away with it enough times, it became an established move. LeBron – like the kid at camp who's inexplicably allowed to go where he pleases and skip activities if he doesn't want to do them – has made the refs accept his illegal footwork. And now they're too afraid to call him out on it because of his status as a superstar.

I think most NBA fans will agree that the League's officiating is pretty deeply flawed, but this is one instance where the refs could easily enforce the rules if they'd just get the guts. LeBron's so big, fast and powerful with the ball that he doesn't need the advantage. The refs shouldn't be allowed to turn a blind eye to something so blatant. The extra step has got to stop.