June 29, 2006

Get That Cheikh Some Meuslix: A Post Mortem on the NBA Draft

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to watch the NBA Draft Wednesday night, a fact that, as Zoolander's Maury Ballstein might say, "stings me like a fissure in my ass." Damn I wanted to watch that bad boy. But them's the breaks. Sometimes, try as you might, you just can't be in front of a TV set when you need to. And of course, it seems like the other times, when you can't get away from in front of the TV set, you wish the damn thing had never been invented. Ah, well. Here are a few thoughts that would have likely passed through my cranial lobe (real term or not? Discuss) had I actually been able to watch the draft:
  • There are eight first round picks that for whatever reason are legitimately emanating good vibes in my general direction. In order, they are: Tyrus Thomas (#4), Brandon Roy (#6), Randy Foye (#7), Hilton Armstrong (#12), Rodney Carney (#16), Kyle Lowry (#24), Shannon Brown (#25) and Jordan Farmar (#26). It really, really hurts me, in a "1995 NBA Draft Alan Henderson picked #16, Bob Sura picked #17" kind of way to see the Hawks take Shelden Williams one spot of Roy (though I think both Shelden and Roy will be better pro players than Henderson and Sura). Also, I've recently become quite sold on Tyrus Thomas. I think he's going to be an absolute beast in the NBA. Ditto Carney.
  • There is one first round pick that legitimately leaves me shocked beyond belief, but at the same time not shocked at all -- and if you don't know where I'm going with this, then you probably ought take one more look at the draft board. The pick in question (and I do mean in question) is the Knicks' selection of Renaldo Balkman at #20. Obviously just about every joke out there has already been made about this pick -- I can't imagine a draft selection more worthy of being verbally deficated on, entirely because of the track record of the man who made the pick -- so I'll just point to one line from Balkman's NBA.com draft bio to sum this up: "Junior (2005-06): Led the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg), while averaging 9.6 points and 1.3 blocked shots." This is not meant to be a knock on Balkman, but by all accounts the man had absolutely no business going in the first round. I'm pretty certain Isiah Thomas couldn't manage the Howard Johnson's across the street from Madison Square Garden, yet somehow he runs the Knicks. There may be no bigger travesty in all of pro sports.
  • There are three second round picks that for whatever reason give me some semblance of good vibes. They are: Daniel Gibson (#42), Leon Powe (#49) and Hassan Adams (#54). And yes, I do realize this is the first time anyone has ever uttered "Hassan Adams" and "good vibes" in the same breath, but I see his game translating well to the NBA. Of course, the only problem is, minutes will be tough to find on the Nets. Also, I think Daniel Gibson could be running the point for the Cavs before long -- he's already more dynamic than Eric Snow and Damon Jones combined, although Jones, arrogant bastard that he is, would obviously disagree.
  • In closing, gotta give some love to Cheikh Samb, the Senegalese big man drafted by the Lakers and traded to Detroit who earns a mention on this site for having one of the most bootleg JPEG shots of all time attached to his bio. Honestly, this looks like a head shot scanned out of your younger brother Fritz's coloring book. Also, it is worth noting that Samb measures in at 7-1, 195 pounds, which means that either a) he should be put on a different diet and weight training program, or b) he needs to be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids immediately. Can someone in Detroit's front office please look into this? Frankly, I'm a bit concerned.

June 28, 2006

Let's Hug it Out

I remember a few years ago, a friend of mine told me a story of how he was walking the streets of Boston one day when he happened to spot what he described as a stooped over old man making his way towards him. This man caught my friend's eye for some reason, and after a moment, it hit him: This old man was Peter Gammons. My friend shouted something along the lines of "Peter, I love your work," and Peter replied something along the lines of "Thanks," so ending the encounter. But my friend's lasting takeaway from seeing Gammons was just how old the man looked in person (granted, my friend was exaggerating somewhat, but you get the point). And it's this I think about today as Gammons sits in the hospital recovering from a brain aneurysm. It's kind of shocking to think that Gammons, despite his shock of white hair and aging features, is only 61, and I suppose it's just another reminder that age is just a number. Forgive me for beginning to sound like a dimestore book of proverbs, but I'm feeling a little bit sentimental about this one. I guess what I'm trying to say is, here's hoping Peter Gammons still has many good years left after number 61.
  • The one draft that is truly pleasurable to watch is taking place tonight (I don't care what anyone says, the NFL draft is outrageously boring, even though important), and I for one could not be more excited. ESPN NBA guru Chad Ford has the Craptors taking Andrea Bargnani #1 overal in his latest mock draft, though you'll just have to take my word for it, because you have to pay money for a membership to read that link, which is a travesty about on par with the notion of the Hawks selecting Shelden Williams at #5 (update: this just happened as expected). Sure, Williams will probably be an effective pro player, but he'll also never be as good or exciting as about five of the guys who are going to be drafted after him. Also of note: McDonald's afficionado Josh Boone is projected to fall to #40. No word on whether or not his plummeting draft stock has anything to do with The OCC blowing the whistle on his poor eating habits.
  • I heard about this a week or so ago, but just now got around to tracking down the footage of it online -- Jeremy Piven singing the national anthem at Wrigley and yelling out to the crowd, "Hey Cubs fans, let's hug it out you little bitches." As you'll see on the video clip, PTI's Tony Kornheiser didn't approve -- saying that he loves Entourage but that the ballpark isn't a place to say "bitches" over the PA -- and while from a logical standpoint I realize I should agree with Kornheiser, I just can't. From my vantage point, this type of irreverence is exactly what sports needs. Sure it pissed some people off, but don't we come to a sporting event -- be it live or on television -- to hopefully see something shocking, entertaining, unexpected? If that's what you're looking for, you bitches are going to have to understand, such moments can't always be PG.

June 26, 2006

Josh Boone, Super Sized

Was sitting at Gate H10 of O'Hare International Airport in Chicago yesterday when I happened to catch a glimpse of a rather large figure sidle over and sit down at one of the nearby seats. The high-profile athlete meter planted in my brain immediately began to whir and it wasn't long before it spat out the name of Josh Boone. Yes, there he was, the former UConn forward and soon-to-be NBA draft pick, preparing to fly to New York for Wednesday's draft, sporting his signature corn rows, a New Era Cincy Reds hat with the gold sticker still on the brim (complete with matching red do-rag and red felt sweats), a baggy white T with red trim on the collar, and a long silver chain with a medallion (couldn't see what it said).

Perhaps most notably, you'll be glad to know, Knicks fans (I've heard rumors NY is thinking of taking him in the late first round), that in the midst of switching back and forth between his cell phone/two-way and MP3 player, Boone was absolutely ripping into a bag of McDonald's. And yes, I understand that this doesn't necessarily mean he eats McD's every single meal, and even the most virtuous eaters among us occasionally fall off the wagon and stumble into the arch-lit glow of America's most deadly eating establishment for a grease-laden bender that provides momentary satisfaction almost immediately giving way to regret. So I can sympathize with Boone's choice (I myself went with the only slightly less dubious Manchu Wok), but it's tough not to extrapolate a tad bit about his regular diet when the one and only time you see a guy not on the basketball court he's lighting into a quarter pounder, large soda and fries. I can't say for certain, but I'm just guessing Josh, though he certainly looked the part of pro athlete yesterday, has yet to get on board with the en vogue concept of hiring a personal chef.

I'm pretty sure no one else at the gate recognized Boone, as the majority of the people at the gate inexplicably seemed to be middle-aged women and men wearing clothes that suggested they'd never picked up and thrown anything in their lives. I asked the guy sitting next to me if he was a hoops fan and pointed out Boone but he clearly had no idea who he was. So, Josh, you almost got away with it, but you weren't counting on The OCC being on the case. Now your secret is out -- you're a fast food fanatic!

(Of course, I could be convinced to keep this quiet if you passed along one of those nifty two-way phones...)

June 23, 2006

World Cup Fever, Louisiana Style

Just witnessed/took part in the following exchange at the Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (don't ask):

Guy in Booth (looking up at scoreboard showing FRA vs. TOGO): Hey, does anyone know...what's T-O-G-O stand for?
Me: It's a country in Africa.
Guy in Booth: [pauses and stares blankly]
Me: That's the whole name -- Togo.
Guy in Booth: Oh.
Perky Waitress (sensing an opportunity to chime in on the conversation): I have a question...do y'all know...did you see...did the U.S.A., did we win yesterday?
Me: No.
Woman in Different Booth: We got beat down.

And who said Americans don't care about soccer?

June 22, 2006

Leave My Weak Issue Out of This

You know you're having a particularly stellar day when even your e-mail spam starts taking unwarranted cheap shots at you. Got this e-mail today from a person or entity by the name of ouurhbgqkc: "Your dick is your weak issue because it is so small." Wow. As Ron Burgundy once said to his dog Baxter, "You know how to cut to the core of me." Okay, just kidding. But seriously, what kind of sales pitch is this where the salesperson begins things by blatantly insulting the size of my member? No need to answer that -- I just realized it is probably, like 81% of all spam out there, something having to do with improving one's penis size. Well, ouurhbgqkc -- thanks for the generous offer (and more importantly thank you for bestowing upon me the glorious new insult "Your dick is your weak issue," which I will soon be saying to just about everyone I meet), but I'm going to have to go ahead and decline your offer of enlarged penis in exchange for money.

Now, onto some chatter from the sporting world:
  • Though insults between them have not yet reached the point of Ozzie Guillen telling Jay Mariotti that his dick is his weak issue, things appear to be escalating further between the White Sox manager and the Sun-Times columnist after Guillen's recent labeling of Mariotti as a "fag." Prior to this episode, I always thought Ozzie was eccentric, fiery, and suffered from a semi-chronic case of oral diarrhea (that sounds gross). Now, I'm starting to think he's just insane. One of my favorite things about this whole saga is Guillen's explanation that in his native Venezuela, the term "fag" means something completely different and is not about sexuality as much as it's about having the cojones to confront another man face-to-face (no pun intended). Well, that explanation is terrific, and actually resolves everything, except...this isn't Venezuela. I don't think you can just go to any country, insult people in the native language and then say that in your country that it means something different. Tried that in Beirut once and it did not go particularly well.
  • Word out of just about every media outlet I've read is that the Hawks are planning to spend the #5 pick in the draft on Shelden Williams, a move that means they'll: a) likely have Royal Ivey and Tyronn Lue manning the point next year, b) probably pass up a player at the same position (LaMarcus Aldridge) who's taller, more athletic and has more upside, c) reach for a player in Williams they could probably get five picks later if they traded down and d) continue to ignore their problems at point guard. And yes, I know I already mentioned that in item a), but it merits saying twice. Things are looking good for ATL sports. At least the Braves are playing well. (Stop laughing, you bastards.)

June 21, 2006

My, What Lovely Spandex You Have

Some thoughts after a disappointing but highly entertaining NBA Finals Game 6:
  • I'm not pleased with the notion of Miami becoming NBA champ, but considering some of the entertainment spawned by Game 6, I can't be too angry. For instance: Early in the third quarter, in a new, creative twist on free throw line heckling, Mavs' forward Josh Howard, with no advance warning whatsoever, dropped his pants like a man engaging in illicit behavior in a back alley while Shaq was attempting to toss up a pair of bricks from the charity stripe. Howard then proceeded to remove a wrap from his thigh while he stood there in his silly-looking spandex (as if there's any other kind). I'm pretty sure pulling down your pants while the other team is shooting free throws is prohibited, but if it's not, it really should be when Shaq is at the line. The big fella has enough trouble knocking 'em down without having to watch people getting partially naked out of the corner of his eye.
  • And on the subject of wardrobe oddities, did anyone else notice Avery Johnson's tie? The thing was dangling a good 3-4 inches below the waistline, so low in fact that it's possible it was hanging even lower than his...never mind. Seriously, though, I don't claim to be any sort of high society fashion cognoscenti type, but I'm pretty sure the regulation tie length is about halfway down the belt, not halfway down the...umm, never mind.
  • I'm happy these NBA playoffs are over if for no other reason than I don't have to watch Dwayne Wade get bogus foul calls until next year. I would argue the worst one came with just under 30 seconds left in the game, with Dallas trailing by one, when Wade drove by Dirk Nowitzki and basically punched him in the stomach to somehow "draw" the foul. You know you've reached superstar status when you get to the line while taking a swing at somebody's abdomen.
  • Is there some kind of unstated cosmic rule that says you can't win an NBA title with a former Hawks' point guard running the show? I believe the answer is "Yes," if the point guard in question is Jason Terry. I've said multiple times during this season that Terry, admittedly a pretty productive player who is capable of hitting big shots, has a tendency to lapse into "Hawk Mode," which sounds like some kind of badass super-kill death function on a military helicopter, but is in fact an instance in which a player (usually a former Hawk), with very little advance warning or reason, makes a completely boneheaded play at a rather inopportune moment. Tonight, it was Terry's failure to box out (on one play he literally just stood there inside the free throw line while Wade flew by him for the offensive board) and his insistence on hoisting late game shots instead of getting the ball to Nowitzki that hurt the Mavs in the worst way. Being a former Hawk is like a really rotten case of herpes -- you think you've got the thing beat until it surfaces again at the worst time. Sorry Jason, there's no cure for this one. You're a Hawk for life.

June 19, 2006

I Heard That, Michael Kay

Great moment in broadcasting during Monday night's Yankees-Phils game: Before the top of the 5th inning, Bob Lorenz took it out of commercial from the YES Network studio with an update on the Red Sox-Nationals game. At the end of his update, which finished "so the Red Sox lead it right now 4-3," the Yes camera cut from the Sox highlight to a crowd shot in Philly. After a moment's silence, the following exchange took place between Yankees announcers Ken Singleton and Michael Kay (transcribed after several rewinds on the DVR):

Singleton: "I'm surprised John Moore's showing, yeah."
Kay: "He's not, he'll be off that shit."

A moment later, Kay went back into announcer mode, saying, "Back here in the top of the fifth inning, Johnny Damon leads off and the pitch is a strike."

Whoops -- looks like someone left Michael Kay's mic open. I wonder how many people out there noticed this. It was actually pretty quick and kind of quiet; they were talking in a conversational tone, not booming announcer voices, and I was pretty sure I heard an "S" bomb in there the first time I heard it but without the magic of DVR I never would have been able to confirm it.

Being the investigative and journalistic genius that I am, I called up one of my people on the inside (or more truthfully, I did a quick Google search) and confirmed that there is a John Moore who won a New York Emmy award as a director for YES (do a CTRL+F once you get to the document and you'll find his name).

So, it follows that if Moore was directing the game, Ken Singleton must have been saying to Michael Kay that he was surprised Moore was showing a particular shot, to which Kay responded he'd be "off that shit," meaning Moore would switch to a different shot before they went on air.

Is this the kind of thing Michael Kay or someone at the YES Network will get in trouble for, or did no one else really notice?

If Kay does get disciplined or fired, I think it's only logical that I get his job.

Comfortably Numb

  • Haven't had too much of a chance to see how other people have been reacting to last night's Game 5 of the NBA Finals, but I thought the end of the game was handled pretty atrociously from both an officiating and TV broadcasting standpoint. First of all, officiating: The foul call Dwayne Wade got driving to the basket was ridiculous. He tried to dribble through three guys and barely got touched, if at all, while throwing up some junk at the basket, and the refs bailed him out (apparently Cuban thinks Wade pushed off before he got to the hoop). What really bothered me about this sequence is that it came right on the heels of Dirk Nowitzki hitting one of the great shots of these playoffs, a desperate high-arching fall-away with Shaq running at him that somehow went down. And to have the game end on a phantom, superstar foul call after a play like that really cheapened what should have been an incredible finish.
  • That semi-sickening feeling only became worse with the whole Josh Howard timeout fiasco. From what I can tell, no major fault lies with the officiating here -- Howard clearly signaled for a time out after the first free throw (thereby negating any chance Dallas had of advancing the ball after the second free throw because it was the team's last time out), and the ref did his job by giving him the time out, as requested. But here's where ABC's broadcast team failed. Play-by-play man Mike Breen in particular was rather baffled as to why Dallas coach Avery Johnson would be arguing with the refs about this turn of events. But if Breen were watching closely (which he apparently wasn't), he would have seen that Avery kept holding up two fingers while he berated the refs. After thinking about this for a couple of minutes to try to figure out what was going on (since I was getting no help from the people who were in the arena to tell me about the game), I realized that Avery must have been angry at the refs because he had already informed them, prior to Howard boneheadedly taking a time out, that he wanted to call time after the second free throw, no matter what. So he must have felt that this request should trump any other instructions or any other signals his players or anyone else might make. You can see his point, too, and it would have made for an interesting on-air debate -- except that ABC completely missed it. Nice job.

  • It has recently come to my attention that the White Sox have a minor league pitcher in their system named Ray Liotta. I wonder if he's ever in a moment of frustration called the actor of the same name a "no-talent ass clown."
  • In one of the worst pleas for attention I've seen in some time, former Oriole David Segui has admitted, with little to no reason to do so, that he used HGH (legally, mind you), during his Major League career. Apparently Segui's name was one of the famously redacted ones from the Jason Grimsley affidavit, and he decided this might be a good time to put a slight blemish on his almost completely neutral reputation. Honestly, what are you doing, David? First of all, no one really cared about you before. And in retirement you had even become even more anonymous. And now, with your "Hey, look, I used HGH too! Look at me! (But don't get mad because I had a prescription)" announcement you just seem kind of desperate. I suppose Segui might have been worried people might find out his name was on the affidavit and decided he would make a pre-emptive strike to explain himself (by the way, why do we redact stuff if it's eventually going to come out anyway? Really gives you faith in the whole redacting process). But he probably should have just kept his mouth shut, because he's kind of taken the whole fun out of wondering who the redacted names were. I for one would rather have the blacked-out name than the knowledge that we wasted our time speculating about the likes of David freaking Segui. Could a redacted name get any less interesting? Booooooo.
  • And speaking of disappointing, this seems like a perfect time to discuss the plight of my hometown Atlanta Braves, who are in the midst of their worst season since I was 12. Frankly, this hurts. I'm not spoiled or stupid enough to think that it wasn't ever going to happen. What really chaps my ass, though, is the knowledge that beleaguered righty Chris Reitsma (known in my circle as "Fuckin' Reitsma"), without a doubt the worst reliever in the majors this year, spent much of the season pitching with a nerve problem in his hand that meant he had little idea where the ball was going when he released it. Yet he somehow opted to keep this a secret until the precise point at which he couldn't bottom out any further. And he probably cost the Braves 10 games this year, if not more. Well done. Before I pile on Reitsma too hard here, let me say I do understand the whole concept of trying to pitch through pain and help the team, and I'm sure that pro athletes don't want to disclose injuries for fear that they might lose their spot or role if they miss time, but there is such a thing as being noble (or whatever he was being) to the detrement of the team, and this was such an instance. The fact of the matter is, I kind of feel sorry for Reitsma -- I recently heard from a friend that Reitsma was recently out somewhere with his kid when a random fan rolled up on him and told him that he sucked. I don't care how mad you are, telling someone how terrible they are in front of their kid just ain't cool. Even if it is true. (Which it is.)

June 16, 2006

Pounding One Out

Must be brief, for it is Friday and I'm in Texas for a bachelor party weekend which may or may not include a Minnesota Vikings-style boat trip out onto a lake (hopefully without the accompanying legal troubles). So with time constraints in mind and while wondering what really happened out there on Lake Minnetonka, I shall attempt to wrap up the week in as tidy of a fashion as possible:
  • It's been quite some time since I added a new Quote of the Unspecified Time Period Until I Find a Better One, but I suppose that's the beauty of calling it that -- you can add a quote whenever you please. At any rate, the quote we're going with is from Yankees' righthander Mike Mussina, who uttered this gem when speaking to Sports Illustrated about how he enjoys doing crossword puzzles with teammates: "When we get a group, we can really pound one out." Yikes. A rather unfortunate sexual connotation here. Really give new meaning to the term "righthander," doesn't it?
  • Fantasy Sports Lesson of the Week: The other night, a friend of mine -- let's call him Mr. Clown (don't ask) -- was offered Mark Prior for Juan Pierre in his baseball league. He sought my advice on the deal, and knowing that Pierre has been pretty disappointing this year while having the gut feeling that Prior is about to come back and dominate for 130 innings, as he seems to do every year, I advised Mr. Clown to accept the trade immediately. Heeding my advice, he whipped out his...laptop (get your mind out of the gutter, Mussina!) and went to the screen where he would process the trade. Having consumed at least one and possibly more than one 24 oz. can of PBR, Mr. Clown looked directly at his choices: "Accept Trade" and "Reject Trade," at which point he promptly clicked the latter. Immediately realizing his mistake, he attempted to scramble and hit the "Stop" button on his browser, but it was too late. When he re-offered the trade, the other owner asked for more in return. So what's the lesson here? No, it is not "Don't mix booze and fantasy sports." Quite the contrary -- the combo can be rather delightful, that is, until you wake up the next morning and realize that you've ruined your entire team with bizarre waiver wire transactions. The lesson is, quite simply, look at what the button says before you click on it. Remind me, if I am ever in a position to do so, not to hire Mr. Clown as a demolitions expert. Sum'bitch would be clipping the green wire when I clearly told him to cut the red.

June 14, 2006

Safety First

  • There's been a dizzying amount of coverage lately on Ben Roethlisberger's recent motorcycle accident, and I don't want to sound insensitive considering the seriousness of his injuries, but now that he appears to be past the worst of it, this needs to be said: Ben Roethlisberger is an idiot. And it seems to me that most writers out there aren't focused enough on this fact. Sure, there are many out there making efforts to scold him and question his failure to use a helmet, but that's almost letting him off too easy -- like telling the disobedient son, "Don't let it happen again!" In my younger days, I once jumped off a moving school bus. Why? For the thrill of it. And I fell hard. Shortly after I fell, an older student stuck his head out the window to look down at me. What did he say? No, he did not express his sympathy or concern. He looked at me with disdain and yelled out, "Dumb ass." And he was right. So why exactly are we treating Roethlisberger like some kind of tragically-flawed hero here? If the guy's too dumb to wear a helmet, then that's his business. Personally, I don't care -- and you won't hear me preaching about what people should and shouldn't do on their bikes. It's his right (contractual provisions aside) to be wreckless. But I reserve the right to call him a dumb ass, and I wish everyone out there would do the same. The ridiculous thing is, it almost seems like his status has elevated during the course of this incident, and that makes me want to puke. I'm glad he's recovering, but let's not skew the facts here -- tempting fate and surviving doesn't make you a hero; it makes you lucky.
  • In other notable news from the "whoopsie" files, former Duke guard and soon-to-be lottery pick J.J. Redick got slapped with a DUI Tuesday morning. Now I know I'm going to sound just a touch hypocritical here given my recent attempts to lambast Ben Roethlisberger for his foolishness, but part of me can't help but consider this Redick DUI a wonderful turn of events. And truthfully, I think most non-Duke fans out there will agree with me, but I'm pleased not because I harbor an immense dislike for Redick like most of you. Nay, this news comes as welcome to me because like the time Duke alum Christian Laettner got busted for sparking doobies, this recent foray into criminality gives the previously gooberish Redick a much-needed edge. Somehow, knowing that J.J. Redick occasionally finds himself inclined to break the law gives me just a little bit more respect for him. I know that sounds twisted, and kids -- I'm not condoning crime here. But some people are so irritatingly one-dimensional (in Redick's case, this means being the unbelievably smug guy who hits every jump shot) that they need a little shot of bad behavior to spice things up. So if you ask me, J.J. -- keep hitting the bottle. Just make sure you wear your helmet if you're going to drive.
  • There are some days -- and they are admittedly rather dark days -- that I find myself thinking that the finest sports reporting out there is what is printed on the completely fabricated pages of The Onion. Today I came across this story, which explains how the Mavs are planning to employ a new tactic -- machetes -- as part of the "Hack-A-Shaq" defense. In quite graphic detail, the story describes how the Mavs -- per Avery Johnson's instructions -- will chop Shaq to pieces when he gets the ball. (Different players are assigned to hack at different parts of his body.) The Heat's response? A gimmick defense called the "Berserk-A-Dirk," which entails "unleashing a rabid, meth-crazed Gary Payton" to guard Dirk Nowitzki. Now that's not such a bad idea. Are "greenies" legal in the NBA? If so, let's get Gary some ASAP. This I would need to see.

June 12, 2006

The Real Meaning of Donkey

  • If you're an Indians fan or someone who occasionally watches Baseball Tonight, you're probably aware that Cleveland DH Travis Hafner is nicknamed "Pronk," a combination of the words "project" and "donkey." During Sunday's Indians-White Sox game on ESPN, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan got into a discussion of the origins of this nickname. Project, they said, was something his teammates called him (in sports terms, this of course refers to a somewhat raw and unpolished player who needs fine-tuning to excel). As for the donkey aspect of the nickname, Miller and Morgan seemed to be under the impression that it had come from the character named Donkey in the movie Shrek. Hmm...I'm not sure if Jon and Joe were aware that they were way off base here, but according to my sources, the "donkey" in Pronk is not a reference at all to said movie character but is in fact a nod to Hafner's absurdly gigantic schlong. Which leads me to wonder: Were Jon Miller and Joe Morgan somehow not aware of this proverbial elephant in the shower, or were they aware of it and just intentionally chose to completely sidestep it and give the PG explanation? Either way, makes them look pretty stupid if you ask me. The way they handled this, it probably would have been best to avoid talking Pronk altogether.
  • A slightly amusing offshoot of the recent Jason Grimsley steroid revelations is that all of a sudden amphetamine use in baseball is a hot-button topic again. So, when Jim Leyritz admits that he used amphetamines during his career, as he did last week, somehow it's expected to be a big deal. My question: Didn't we already know, 100 percent for certain, that use of amphetamines (usually called "greenies") was absolutely rampant in baseball? Haven't we known this since, like, 1970, when Jim Bouton published Ball Four? Right. That's what I thought. I will say that I found one thing rather amusing about last week's Leyritz story: As Leyritz recalls, he first found it necessary to dose up on amphetamines early in his career when Don Mattingly hurt himself and was out of the lineup. But as the news story points out, "[Leyritz's] recollection of the day isn't perfect spot-on, however, as Mattingly played first base and Leyritz manned third." This kills me. Recollection wasn't spot-on? Of course it wasn't spot-on -- he was jacked up on amphetamines! I for one have never popped greenies, but I can only imagine they don't do wonders for the mind's efforts to accurately recollect precise events during the time of use. I don't claim to be an expert on this stuff, but I would wager saying that someone has trouble remembering what happened while he was on ampetamines is about as noteworthy as pointing out that someone hopped up on PCP feels inclined to run through a plate glass window and jump in front of moving traffic. Which is to say, not noteworthy at all.
  • One other thought on drug use, or lack thereof: Has anyone else taken notice of Brandon Fahey, who has been starting in left field for Baltimore for about the past week? Dude is listed at 6-2, 160. For frame of reference, The OCC goes 6-0, 165, and I'm not exactly breaking down walls Incredible Hulk style. Which is to say that 6-2, 160 makes Fahey something like the skinniest man alive (warning: disturbing photo). So it follows then that this guy is probably the ultimate antithesis of the Steroids Era. Which is obviously great -- he's like a throwback to some of the players we saw in the 80's and early 90's. But could someone tell Brandon that just because you're (probably) not juicing doesn't mean you can't hit the weight room every now and then, or at the very least double up on fried shrimp at the Ponderosa buffet. I'm pretty sure if this guy got hit by a pitch his torso might just fall off, leaving his teetering legs still standing in their exact batting stance at home plate.
  • Lastly, I haven't seen the numbers, but I can't think that the ratings for Game 2 of the NBA Finals were anything short of terrible. I don't know about the rest of you, but at 9 p.m. (when the game started), I watched the season premiere of "Deadwood" on HBO, and followed that up with the season opener of "Entourage" at 10. By 10:30 I flipped to the basketball game, but was so disengaged that I found myself more curious to see if Bob Wickman was going to nail down a save for my fantasy team over on Sunday Night Baseball (he did. Hooray!). Unless Miami really gets it going at home in Game 3 (certainly not out of the question), this is looking like a "Wake Me Up When Mark Cuban Goes Completely Insane Celebrating Mavs' Win" kind of series. I'm sure it's nothing a couple of greenies couldn't fix, though...

June 09, 2006

One Cup of Leaded, Please

  • In attempting to make sense of the latest major development in baseball's steroids scandal, I'm finding myself inclined to quote one of the great wisemen of modern cinema, Owen Wilson's sublime Hansel from the film Zoolander: "The results are in amigo. What's left to ponder?" Which is to say, aside from some extremely juicy tidbits and some tantalizingly redacted names contained in this affidavit, the facts are still the same: Baseball players have used and continue to use drugs. And they seem to like human growth hormone an awful lot. No grand revelations there. The only difference as I see it is now we have more ammunition than we had before, thanks to Jason Grimsley's cooperation with authorities. My favorite piece of information to come squirting out of this proverbial syringe is that until recently, Major League clubhouses had pots of coffee labeled "leaded" and "unleaded," to differentiate which coffee contained amphetamines and which didn't. All I can say to that is, wow. Isn't regular coffee strong enough for most people? Just today I downed a can of Coke at lunch (something I admittedly try to avoid doing every day) and I became legitimately wound up. So I guess my main question is, what does this "leaded coffee" feel like, and -- kids, can you earmuff it for me -- where can I get some? (Research purposes only, of course.)
  • Must admit, I find Rick Sutcliffe's behavior on air to be generally somewhat irritating (particularly in Monday night's Red Sox-Yankees game -- please forgive the shameless self promotion with that link), but in a recent random foray onto Youtube I came across a moment in which Sut displays a more endearing side. And by "endearing," I do mean "hopelessly intoxicated." This clip is audio only, but definitely worth a listen.
  • I don't know about you, but I was stunned to hear that after much speculation that they would be taken in the Major League draft, New York baseball icons Jeffrey Maier and Danny Almonte were not selected after all. Just a mind-boggling turn of events. Apparently, as far as I can tell, all that talk of these two notorious New Yorkers being drafted was an extremely isolated incident in which the always careful and rarely overboard New York media went just a bit too far. Word has it that after not being drafted Maier and Almonte will return to being frozen in time until we next decide it's relevant to talk about them.
  • In yet another embarassing ploy for attention from the animal world, a seagull flew in front of a pitched ball during a minor league baseball game on Sunday. Seriously, seagulls -- when are you going to realize that we are not going to encourage this absurd and pathetic behavior by replaying and watching your actions over and over again? Okay, so I'll admit it -- we love it when you do this. Well, I love it anyway. I can't speak for the good people over at PETA, but you have to think that even though they can't laugh at this in public because it would be awfully hypocritical, the moment no one's looking they're probably firing up the video and giggling uncontrollably. There are three things I particularly like about this latest seagull incident: 1) It recalls the time Randy Johnson absolutely nuked a bird who chose the wrong moment in time to cross Fastball Avenue; 2) if you watch the video clip closely (accessable through the above link), not only does the batter swing at the pitch, but the pitcher throws his hands up in utter disgust, as if to suggest that the seagull actually knew it was interfering with the game, like some bizarre streaker from the animal world; 3) at the end of the video, the newscaster reports that "a player carried the stunned seagull off the field and he flew away a short time later." Does anyone else hear that and immediately become skeptical, as though your parents had just told you that Rusty the dog has been sent away to live on the farm because he'll be happier there? Come on, we all know what really happened -- that seagull croaked.

June 06, 2006

Attack of the Clones

  • You've probably heard the news by now, and if you haven't, you need to think about getting some new sources, because quite frankly this is huge: On Sunday, a pair of cloned mules strapped it on (and by "it," I of course mean a saddle) and took to the racetrack in a professional competition. Why does this merit discussion? you might ask. Fair question. To me, aside from the pleasurable sound of the juxtaposed words "cloned" and "mule," I find it worth wondering why in the blazes anyone would want to genetically synthesize a beast that is, as far as I can tell, only referred to in a derogatory manner and/or negative context. Think about it: "I have been working like a pack mule lately," "You stink like a mule's ass," "The mule crapped on the billiard table again," "Get your stinking mule off my lawn before I pop a cap in him" -- the list goes on and on. As Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society, put it, "There's no shortage of horses and mules. Why do we have to subject them to the risks associated with cloning? There's no legitimate purpose for this exercise." Gotta echo Wayne's sentiment here -- what's the point? If we're going to clone mules, and I think Wayne would be in agreement with me on this, we really ought to be endowing them with super powers, such as the ability to spit fire or breathe underwater, or at the very least we should give them silly-looking hats and shirts that say "Mule Clone" on them. Otherwise, the entire endeavor kind of seems like a waste of time.
  • In other animal-related news, a macaque monkey named Maggie, in the employ of Canadian TV station TSN, has chosen Edmonton to win the Stanley Cup. Forgive me for being a bit old fashioned here, but I've got to say, I find this whole concept completely ridiculous -- a woman has no business making hockey playoff predictions. Hiyo! But seriously, before I alienate my entire female fanbase (which I believe to be quite small if not altogether nonexistent), I was just kidding there. I have no problem at all trusting a female, monkey or not, to make hockey predictions. But for the record, Maggie is still highly suspect because I don't trust Canadians one bit.
  • I'm pretty sure there isn't actually a School of Hard Knocks, but if I have any understanding of the term at all, then it seems to me that Shawn Kemp could be the principal, or at least the dean of students of such an institution. Or, maybe he could just be the creepy guy who hangs out by the playground each afternoon until the security guards inevitably chase him away. In any case, I think we can all agree that Kemp has lived some hard years in his time on this planet. When I look at his picture, only one word comes to mind: "weathered." Which is to say that the man just looks broken and beaten down. But nonetheless, his determined if not admirable effort to return to the NBA continues. Personally, I usually don't have a problem with players hanging on as long as they possibly can, but in this case, I think I'm against it, primarily because I want to remember Kemp the way he was. (And yes, I know I've linked to this before, but The Reign Man in his prime merits the occasional repeat viewing.)
  • And on a sad note regarding a man who, like Kemp, famously battled a weight problem, former Major League umpire Eric Gregg died on Monday. Since I'm not a person who believes in being disingenious about someone who died just because it seems like you're supposed to say nice things about dead people, I have no problem saying that my lasting image of Gregg (aside from that day he gave Livan Hernandez the most ridiculously huge strike zone of all time against the Braves) is of the time Pete Rose left a cheeseburger for him on third base. But aside from the fact that this highlights the fact that Gregg had a terrible weight problem, is this such a bad way to remember him? If my mind's eye recalls correctly, when Gregg saw that cheeseburger sitting there on third base, instead of acting offended or angrily looking around for the culprit, he picked the thing up, gave it a loving glance and took a big, hearty bite. And for being able to laugh at himself in what probably was a rather embarassing situation, you've got to hand the man his due. Ladies and gentlemen, Eric Gregg. R.I.P.

June 05, 2006

Smells Like Electricity

  • For some reason I have a distinct memory of when Jeff Weaver first came up to the big leagues several years ago, and after facing the young righty, Frank Thomas said something along the lines of "His shit is electric." Big Frank, as it just so happens, was not referring to Weaver's poop; rather, he was saying that his pitches were endowed with an exceptional amount of movement. (Not, mind you, bowel movement. Sorry, couldn't resist.) The point is that when Jeff Weaver first came up, he was a true sensation. And in the past couple of weeks, his younger brother Jered has similarly blown up since arriving in the bigs. I happened to watch Jered's start against the Indians earlier in the week, and, if you'll excuse the expression, he dropped his trousers and took a dump all over the Tribe's lineup. And, I might add, with his distinct mop of locks hanging out the back of his hat, he calls to mind another famous pitcher of yesteryear -- Mitch Kramer from "Dazed and Confused." No word yet on whether or not Weaver has been spanked with the "Soul Pole" as an initiation by his veteran teammates. If you haven't seen "Dazed and Confused" and have no idea what I'm talking about, you can just assume I've lost my mind, which I have.
  • Last week I made the bold move of comparing Mets' rookie OF Lastings Milledge to Deion Sanders in terms of the electricity he generates on the field (electricity in this case having nothing to do with feces). And I'm proud to say that young Lastings made me look good on Sunday by making himself look like an ass when he took a victory lap in the outfield, high-fiving fans before the game was even over (he had just hit a game-tying homer). I know it's sacrilege to all the old school, tightwad types out there who don't approve of such behavior, but I'll go on record as saying bravo, Lastings. Sports are supposed to be entertaining, and it doesn't get much better than ridiculous acts of bravado, especially if they end in embarassment. And in today's game, that was exactly what happened -- the Mets lost in 12 innings.
  • In a piece of news that can only be described as perplexing, it has recently come to light that Brewers' announcer Bob Uecker has filed a restraining order against a woman he claims is stalking him. While I would like to sympathize with Bob in this case, I'm afraid I cannot. Why am I being so heartless, you ask? Simple -- Uecker is 71, and if you ask me, once you pass 60, having a stalker should not be considered an inconvenience or a threat. It should be considered an honor. When I'm 71, I'll be happy if I'm not dead, let alone fending off insane women in their mid-40's. Uke -- embrace it, my friend. The glory days of "Mr. Belvedere" are, as you may know, behind us, but apparently your star still shines brighter than ever. Viagra? Botox? Adult undergarments? Who needs 'em. In a nod to the sublime "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," I nominate you, Bob Uecker, for Pimp of the Year.

June 02, 2006

My, It's Chilly in Here

  • Tremendous moment on Thursday night's edition of Inside the NBA following Game 5 of the Suns-Mavs series: David Aldridge was reporting from Miami on the Heat-Pistons series, and at the end of his report when he threw it back to the studio, Charles Barkley was laughing uncontrollably. Shortly afterward, Barkley uttered something to the effect of, "Is it cold down there in Miami?" It took me (and studio host Ernie Johnson) a moment to digest, but I believe the implication from Sir Charles was that the esteemed Mr. Aldridge was suffering momentarily from the condition commonly referred to among the chronically immature as "SNE" (short for Sudden Nipple Erection). I myself was only half watching the report, so I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not Aldridge was indeed "nipping out," but this episode begs the question: Is there any other televised sports personality on the planet with a job of Barkley's caliber and exposure who can get away with commenting on the status of another man's nipples on air? I think the answer is a resounding no.
  • A friend of mine has a friend (true story) who works in a Major League front office, and according to this source (who will remain unnamed in part because I don't know what his name is), Rockies' 1B Todd Helton is racist to the point that it affects the composition of the team's roster. I'm not saying whether this is true or not, but consider this: The Rockies' everyday lineup (save for catcher, which is often manned by Miguel Ojeda) is composed entirely of white players. And the fact is, that's not true of any other Major League team. Once again, I don't have enough information to be making any accusations at this point, but...let's just say this is very interesting. If this story ever breaks, just remember your old pal The OCC, who dares to put it all on the line to give you the inside scoop. (What exactly I've put on the line to bring you this information I am not certain; mainly I just wanted to use that phrase.)
  • Lastly, a few words on comebacks: Jay Williams appears to be close to returning to the NBA, Gilbert Arenas (with some help from Mike Wilbon) convincingly defends his actions after the recent traffic incident, George Karl's son is fighting cancer, and perhaps most importantly -- just when you thought he was gone, retired to some obscure rural outpost never to be heard from again, Jeff Blauser has reemerged into the national consciousness. Try all you want, but you just can't keep a star like The 'Blaus out of the news.