September 29, 2006

Late Breaking News: Terrell Owens Saga Causes Prehistoric, Childish Behavior

Okay, so I know we were finished talking about this Terrell Owens episode, and if you must break out the branding iron and emblazon "HYPOCRITE" across my bare chest, then so be it. But as The Dude says in The Big Lebowski, "New shit has come to light." Namely, people intimately involved with the proceedings have spoken up recently with a couple of quotes that simply demand a little bit of dissecting.

The first, from Bill Parcells:
"I have to, as the coach, rely on other people to keep me informed as to what's really going on. I can't form my own independent opinion other than those involving, 'Is his hand functional and can he play on Sunday?'"
Nice to see Parcells channeling the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer here. I'm just a caveman...Your world frightens and confuses me...My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts...I can't form my own independent opinion...

Well done, coach. When dealing with a situation as high profile as this one, it's never a terrible idea to adopt the policy of delegating all responsibility and accountability to others while generally acknowledging that you have no idea what's going on. A wise approach. Except of course for the fact that it makes you look like a complete idiot.

The second quote comes courtesy of Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Association, who spoke in defense of the Dallas police department for concluding that T.O. attempted to commit suicide (which T.O. has obviously since disputed):
"The officers reacted because they were called to this location to do this job. Now they're being put under the microscope by some fancy little football person. Give me a break. Those officers are 10 times better than this man. We police officers don't go out to these calls and make stuff up."
Police officers don't go out to calls and make stuff up? Oh really? Umm...has Glenn White ever seen Reno 911? Those cops fabricate the truth all the time.

Seriously though, it's great to see what depths of immaturity people have plunged to as a result of this saga. Not only did Glenn essentially call Terrell Owens a "Nancy Boy" apropos of nothing with his "fancy little football person" line -- which, by the way, may be the first time those four words have ever been strung together in that order -- but he also essentially dropped the classic grade school insult: Oh yeah? Well I'm better than you! a moment later. Kind of shocked to see he didn't start screaming "You're not the boss of me!" at the assembled media.

Nice job, Glenn. To summarize where you are: You're talking about a subject you're clearly very sick of to the point that you can't stop yourself from getting angry, yet somehow you continue to talk about it until you have nothing left to do other than take completely unwarranted and out of context cheap shots at others (namely, Terrell Owens) which, while amusing, really have no bearing on anything.

Someone needs to pull you aside and say, "Glenn my friend, you've already said enough. It's really not worth it. Just let it go."

And if only all the rest of us could heed that advice on this particular topic, then the world of sports would truly be a better place.

September 28, 2006

100 Words on Terrell Owens and Other Ways to Waste Space

Because too much has already been said and written but I still feel the need to chime in despite the fact that I very often complain about how much coverage Terrell Owens gets, I’m putting a word limit on this particular commentary so as to avoid drawing the ire of the hypocrisy police. 100 words. Beginning now. Go:

Did T.O. attempt suicide? Signs point to yes. As in, when asked if he was trying to harm himself, he said “Yes.” Rather concrete.

But then, the press conference – a rather convincing denial. He was confused from medication when saying “Yes.” He didn’t pop 35 pills. Claims that he attempted suicide are crazy. And while saying this, he looked completely normal and healthy.

[Official Word Count: 63, if you’re keeping track at home. Better get to the point here.]

Since we can’t be sure what the answer is, here’s a better question:

Do you follow this man’s plight because you actually care, or do you do so because someone else has decided that you should care?

[Official Word Count: 100. Mission accomplished.]


Now, coming to you by popular demand (and by "popular demand" I mean two friends said they thought this was a good idea), a new recurring weekly feature on the site -- The OCC's Fantasy Football Lineup Advice!

(Cue light smattering of applause)

We all agonize over this every week, right? Who to play, who to sit... Sometimes it's painful -- you switch one guy in and out of your lineup so many times during the course of the week that you actually begin to wonder what your league mates think of your indecisiveness. Truly an awful feeling.

So here's an idea: Let me go through the gut-wrenching discomfort for you. Allow me to overanalyze all of this to the point of counterproductivity, backtrack through my own muddled thinking to something resembling a blend of football analysis and gut instinct, and emerge from the maelstrom to present you with the proper calls. Am I always right? God no. And as long as we're clear on that going in, I think that we'll all get along just fine.

Before I get started, a couple things to know -- I won't say anything about guys who are so good (Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson, etc.) that you automatically plug them into your lineup each week. And more often than not, I won't mention guys who are sitting at the end of your bench and who probably should be on the waiver wire. Here we make the tough calls on the players in between.

For the debut, we're going to keep it simple. Two groups. Guys I like this week (not in that way), and guys I don't like.

I Like:

Brett Favre @PHI -- Philly is tough but he's on a roll.
Michael Vick vs. ARI -- Quite simply, he is going to be angry and run a lot.
David Carr vs. MIA -- Kerry Collins actually put up okay numbers against Miami last week.
Jon Kitna @STL -- DET's offense is starting to roll.
Daunte Culpepper @HOU -- Actually don't really like him, but Houston D is that bad.
Charlie Frye @OAK -- Only if you're a bit desperate, but could put up big stats.

Julius Jones @TEN -- Suddenly underrated, and Tennessee is rotten.
Chester Taylor @BUF -- Hopefully you start him every week anyways.
Kevin Jones @StL -- Big things could be coming.
Warrick Dunn vs. ARI -- ATL reestablishes the run this week.

Braylon Edwards @OAK -- Coming off two big games in a row. Now gets Oakland.
Terry Glenn @TEN -- See him catching a bomb this week.
Darrell Jackson @CHI -- Don't be afraid of Chicago's D here. Seattle will throw a lot.
Chris Chambers @HOU -- Please don't make this the week you get frustrated and bench him.
Matt Jones @WAS -- May not explode but should get 80+ yards.
Isaac Bruce vs. DET -- This is a stretch. Only if you're desperate. Just a weird hunch he gets in the end zone.

I Do Not Like:

Kurt Warner @ATL -- Serious turnover potential here. ATL makes him feel the wrath.
Steve McNair vs. SD -- In case the bye week made you forgot, The Whale's Vagina is scary.
Drew Brees @CAR -- If you didn't notice, they put a hurting on Chris Simms.
Mark Brunell vs. JAX -- Good week last week, but now he's hurt and JAX is insane. Avoid.

Reggie Bush @CAR -- Tough to put him here as he could explode at any moment, but I want to see a TD before I can truly trust him. Only bench him if you have good depth, though.
Thomas Jones vs. SEA -- Currently more valuable in real life than in fantasy. He's good but people are loading up against Chicago's run. Will break out but probably not this week.
Jamal Lewis vs. SD -- There are worse guys to start, but I think Baltimore gets locked down this week.
Maurice Morris @CHI -- Even though he's starting you should be able to do much better.

Santana Moss vs. JAX -- You probably can't afford to bench him, but Brunell looks shaky this week.
Jerricho Cotchery vs. IND -- Not a bad matchup, but without his long flukey TD in Week 2 his numbers aren't that impressive.
Troy Williamson @BUF -- Have faith in him long term, but Buffalo has a good secondary.

There. Now it's all cleared up, right?

September 26, 2006

One Monday Night in New Orleans

Not sure about the rest of you, but I must admit that in the days leading up to Monday night's Falcons-Saints game in New Orleans, I found the amount of Katrina-related coverage to be borderline nauseating. I mean, how many different ways did we need to hear this story told? It was devastating, tragic, impossible to look at and remains incredibly difficult for people to cope with, but that doesn't mean that football-related coverage of the event needs to be all of those things as well.

It got to the point where I was becoming borderline belligerent. Every time a new Katrina piece would come on the air, I'd affect my voice with just the slightest hint of sarcasm and declare, "Wait -- there was a hurricane in New Orleans last year?"

The mind-numbing amount of coverage had turned me into a curmudgeonly, insensitive prick (or maybe I was one of those already). In any case, I was at my wits' end. And I'd have to guess that many of you out there probably felt the same way.

But then a funny thing happened. Monday, before the game, Green Day and U2 performed out on the field at the SuperDome. And the place was going nuts. And all of a sudden, I got caught up in it. The energy coming from the place, even filtered through the TV, was incredible -- I wanted more than anything to climb into a teleporting machine and suddenly appear out there on the field just to hear the noise and soak up the energy.

And just then I thought back to one of those Katrina pieces I had seen on TV, which I had kind of tuned out at the time -- part of the whole "I've had enough of this" sentiment I had been feeling.

In the piece, Saints' WR Joe Horn is walking around part of New Orleans, in and around at least one house that had been completely wrecked. At one point he ends up talking with an older man sitting on a front porch, and they share the following exchange (not word-for-word):

Old Man: You know what team we really want you to beat?
Joe Horn: Yeah, I know. Those Dirty Birds, right?
Old Man (smiling): Yeah, that's right.

And at that moment, as I sat there watching Bono rock out on stage at the SuperDome, thinking about what the old man said to Joe Horn, I suddenly wondered, How can I possibly root for the Falcons in this game? As disinterested as I'd been in the days leading up to this, suddenly I was completely caught up in the New Orleans hoopla. And though there was no way I was actually going to root against the Falcons, I suddenly wished they weren't there. I wanted it to be some other team facing this crowd and this challenge, so I could pull for the Saints to demolish those poor saps.

Ultimately, it didn't matter. The Saints dominated the Dirty Birds from the opening snap. Though I kept thinking the Falcons could make a run and get back in the game, the more I think about it now, they might not have ever had a chance.

Did they get caught up in what was going on in New Orleans? Is it possible that even they felt ambivalent about beating the Saints? Sounds nice, but not likely. Clearly they wanted to win the game more than anything, mercy be damned. But going up against what may have been the most incredible home field advantage I've ever seen, they couldn't muster anything.

There's no doubt in my mind that the Falcons are a better team than the Saints. And if they played the game in Atlanta, or at a neutral site, or on a different night, the Falcons would have won. But there was something in the air in New Orleans last night, something you couldn't ignore or tune out even if you wanted to.

A couple other thoughts from Monday night:
  • Got word prior to the game from ATL-based correspondent Jesse that a radio announcer on 92.9 FM in Atlanta said that Saints' QB Drew Brees "has a tendency to put his balls somewhere he shouldn't." Nice imagery. Now I'm picturing Brees walking around the locker room dropping his nutsack into people's cleats when they're not looking. Terrific. Apparently this may have been on a national radio broadcast. Anyone else out there happen to catch this gem?

September 25, 2006

NFL Week 3: Things You Probably Don't Need to Know But Might Enjoy Hearing Nonetheless

A few of the many things that stood out while watching copious amounts of NFL football during Week 3:

You Got Some Spleening to Do: This is probably going to sound odd, but for some odd reason I generally find it amusing to make jokes about people’s internal organs combusting. (Example: “I think if I have another beer right now my pancreas is going to explode.”) Go ahead, try it out -- it's kind of enjoyable. However, as fun as these jokes usually are, for at least one day we are going to place a moratorium on all such humor considering that Bucs’ QB Chris Simms’ spleen actually did explode on Sunday. Well, truth be told, I don’t know if it exploded or not. And I guess that means I was technically “making a spleen joke.” (See? It’s hard to resist.)

In any case, this was scary stuff, though it looks like Simms will be alright. The same, however, cannot be said for the Bucs. As poorly as Simms had played this year, there was at least a decent chance he was going to turn it around at some point. Now the likes of Bruce Gradkowski and Tim “RAT-A-TAT-TAT” Rattay are set to take over at QB for Tampa. I know Jon Gruden is a coaching mastermind and undoubtedly has a cooler-sounding voice than any other coach in all of pro sports (a fact he seems to be acutely aware of), but this has all the makings of disaster. At this point it would be shocking if the Bucs do any better than 5-11.

The Slump Buster:
Anyone who’s occasionally tuned into the Jim Rome radio show at some point during the past eight years or so may be familiar with the term “slump buster,” as popularized by former Major League first baseman Mark Grace in one of the truly transcendental sports radio moments of this generation. In case you aren’t aware, on one occasion when he was a guest on Rome’s show, Grace (if memory serves correctly almost completely out of the blue) brought up this term, which he described as follows (and this is not verbatim but close): A slump buster is where you take the fattest, ugliest girl you can find and lay the wood to her. (His words, not mine.) It's admittedly a somewhat crude notion, but the principle is clear. (And in case you were wondering, that clicking sound you hear is any female reader this site ever had deleting this page from her bookmarks.)

Anyhow, if the NFL has a perennial equivalent of the slump buster, that fat ugly chick is the Houston Texans. On Sunday, a Redskins offense that had been so bad that QB Mark Brunell was said to be on the verge of losing his job allowed Brunell to complete 22 straight passes and permitted Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts to lay the wood to them for a combined 210 yards. Those Texans defenders tackle about as well as spastic kids playing freeze tag on the playground after drinking a whole bunch of Capri Sun. They seem to fly out of their shoes on even the most basic cutback move. Of all the teams I've watched this year, Houston's D has got to be the worst.

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.” And speaking of defense, what’s the most overrated 3-0 team in all of football? Well, after Sunday it very well may be the Baltimore Ravens. For a team that appeared to be downright frightening in its first two wins (over Tampa Bay and Oakland), the Ravens sure didn’t look scary on Sunday, especially in the first half when Browns’ QB Charlie Frye was dicing them up like scallions on a marble cutting board. (Side question: Do people actually use marble cutting boards? Discuss.)

The Ravens did seem to turn it on in the second half when they had to (which is admittedly the sign of a good team), but the fact is that any supposedly elite team that only beats the Browns by one point on a last-minute 52-yard field goal potentially has some rather serious kinks to work out.

And on the subject of the Browns, here’s a little bit of fantasy league/general life advice: It’s time to get on the Braylon Edwards bandwagon immediately.

What About Brett Fav…ruh?
Unless you happen to live in the greater Green Bay or Detroit areas or happened to fly into either of said geographic districts to spend the weekend at your great aunt's house for Rosh Hoshanah, you most likely weren’t tuned into the Packers-Lions game on Sunday. And frankly, this is understandable, because both of these teams kind of stink.

However, the competitive deficiencies aside, there was still one compelling reason to watch this game. And it's nothing new, or particularly shocking -- just something we all tend to more or less take for granted on a weekly basis: There are very few things greater in sports than seeing Brett Favre throw a touchdown pass and then run towards the end zone, his arms raised in triumph and a look of pure, astonished joy on his face like he has just discovered chocolate chip cookies or beautiful women or the feeling of throwing a really sweet TD pass for the very first time.

There’s been a lot of talk already this season about how Brett needs to retire or how he should be traded out of Green Bay or how it's time to bench him in favor of Aaron Rodgers, but what about just enjoying Favre while he’s still around? Sure, the guy is about 47, and yes, his team is likely going no place this year, but at some point we all need to stop nit-picking and clamoring about the future and just enjoy the present. Because the fact is, there’s still something downright inspirational about flipping to a Packers game and seeing that gray-bearded bastard air it out come Sunday as if every new throw was the most important pass of all time.

September 20, 2006

The A-Town Manifesto

Even before that warning track fly ball settled into Cliff Floyd's glove on Monday night, giving the Mets the NL East title outright, it was starting to become obvious that this site needed to give the Braves' epic run of division titles a P.E. (proper eulogy). Because over the years, and especially recently, the Braves' streak has been talked about almost entirely in broad terms. Tell someone you're a Braves fan nowadays and after they make a remark about how they're not sure if they can actually be caught interacting with you, they'll quickly switch tones and say something along the lines of, Seriously, it's really amazing what the Braves have done.

Which is nice enough to hear, but ultimately, when the conversation always goes this way, some of the most incredible moments of this decade and a half run get forgotten. And while this Braves fan is not yet ready to admit that this is the end of the team's success, there's no denying that this is the end of something.

And 'round these parts, when things end, we like to get all sentimental and reflect.

So without further ado, here they are -- the 10 most memorable moments (both good and bad) of the Atlanta Braves, 1991-2006:

10. Where McCarver at? This goes out to Deion Sanders, who never had more than 303 AB's in a season as a Brave but may have been the most electrifying player in the team's history. His greatest performance on the field was in the 1992 World Series, where he hit .533 (and likely would have been the Series MVP had the Braves won), but his finest moment undoubtedly came off the field, when during that year's NLCS, he was criticized by TV broadcaster Tim McCarver for attempting to play in a football and baseball game on the same day.

After the game, Deion stalked through the clubhouse, repeating almost like a mantra: "Where McCarver at? Where McCarver at?" When he found him, Prime Time took a tub of ice water and dumped it all over McCarver's head, thrilling legions of McCarver haters everywhere and spawning the classic response, "You're a real man, Deion."

Why was this a great moment? Aside from the obvious fact that he punked one of the most irritating (though admittedly smart) announcers in sports history, this incident summed up the Deion Sanders experience perfectly. Fast-paced, edgy, and always -- without fail -- compelling theater.

9. You Stupid Bunt: Speaking of the '92 World Series, it was one of the strangest endings to any Fall Classic, ever: Braves' leadoff man Otis Nixon bunting for a base hit with two outs in Game 6. Needless to say, he was out by half a step, Blue Jays' first baseman Joe Carter started jumping around like a pirahna had latched onto his testes, and sports fans across the globe wondered, "Is Otis Nixon on crack?" And as evidenced by his behavior years later when he threatened his bodyguard with a stiletto while standing stark naked in a Norcross, GA hotel room, the answer to that question may very well have been "Yes."

8. The Debut: On
May 17, 1996, an unknown Braves' rookie outfielder named Jermaine Dye stepped to the plate at brand new Turner Field. And before anyone watching the game could ask who this kid was, he went ahead and introduced himself by swatting a homer on his very first swing.

No doubt at this point you are thinking of this as a dubious choice to crack the top-10, but this is a list of the most memorable moments, not necessarily the best, and there was something about Jermaine Dye's first career AB that was unforgettable. Because here were the Braves, fresh off a World Series title in '95, at the peak of their success, and they bring up some kid no one's ever heard of, throw him in the lineup, and before anyone could even consider why he was in the lineup, he had launched one. There was a feeling of wild invincibility at that moment, like nothing could ever go wrong for this team again. (But as it just so happens, it did.)

7. The Warrior: Just as the Deion Sanders dumping a bucket of ice on Tim McCarver incident captures the essence of what Prime Time was all about, you can encapsulate everything that John Smoltz is about (aside from his disagreeable political affiliation) by recalling the time in 1999 that his right elbow was so completely shredded that he attempted to pitch with a knuckleball. Say what you will about Smoltz -- mock the silly moustache he's had probably since he was about 7 years old, call him out for being a Republican as I did above -- but you cannot question the fact that this man is one of the great warriors in all of sports.

6. Say Hello to My Little Friend: Here's a memory of Andruw Jones, who in a classic Dirk Diggler here-is-my-johnson moment stepped into Yankee Stadium as a 19-year-old, busted out his proverbial stick of lumber and showed it to the Yanks by swatting homers off Andy Pettitte in his first two World Series AB's. Years later, the notion of Andruw Jones "showing it" to someone would take on a whole new meaning with his now infamous testimony in the Gold Club trial.

5. The Wall Punch: And while we're on the subject of that '96 World Series, let's recall one of the darkest -- yet completely unforgettable -- moments it spawned. Just some brief background: Back in the fall of 1996, The OCC was a freshman in college, confused about everything aside from the fact that one baseball team was completely unstoppable. And after the Braves took games 1 and 2 in Yankee Stadium, yours truly confidently swaggered down the hallway and posted on a Yankee fan hallmate's doorway the following poem:

Down with Pettitte,
Down with Key,
The Braves will win in four,
You'll see.

The defending world champion Braves were up 2 games to none. Quite simply, this series was a completely done deal.

And then everything changed.

After the Braves dropped Game 3, they led Game 4 by a 6-0
score after 5 innings. All was good again. In fact, it was so good that I headed out the door to a De La Soul concert that night (which was a tremendous show, by the way), only to return hours later and see the most dreaded sight imaginable at that precise moment: My hallmate's writing on my door. Whatever he had written (frankly I can't remember and may have blocked it out), it didn't matter, because it only meant one thing: The Braves had blown the lead. Series tied.

And that leads us to Game 5. The Yankees got a run in the 4th and took that 1-0 lead into the 9th, when with two men on and two out, former Yankee Luis Polonia came to pinch hit for the Braves against John Wetteland. What resulted was, as memory recalls, an epic at-bat: Foul ball after foul ball. Wetteland bringing his best heat, and Polonia fouling it back, time and again. Until finally, he got a hold of one, driving it deep towards right, back towards the warning track, Yankees' right fielder Paul O'Neill -- nursing a gimpy hamstring at the time -- chasing it down, and the thing was about to drop near the warning track, definitely scoring both runs...until O'Neill reached out and snared it. And never breaking stride, that smug prick ran towards the outfield wall at Fulton County Stadium, and punched it. As if to say, This may not be our stadium, but it's my house right now. That one still hurts.

4. The Maestro: On
December 10, 1992, the top headline of the sports section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution read in bold print, "Braves 'steal' Greg Maddux, deal [Charlie] Liebrandt," and somehow, all these years later, reading that still produces chills. And that has nothing to do with disturbing memories of Charlie Liebrandt serving up hanging offspeed pitches. It's all about Maddux, who for a few years in the mid 90's was beyond great -- he was mesmerizing.

3. The Catch: If you're a Braves fan from the early 90's, "The Catch" means only one thing: Otis Nixon, as though he had RedBalls coursing through his veins ("Cocaine in a can, baby!"), leaping backwards into the center field wall at the old Fulton County Stadium late in the summer of 1992 to rob Andy Van Slyke of a homer and preserve a 13-game winning streak for the Braves. As incredible a center fielder as Andruw Jones is, nothing he's ever done defensively has electrified a town quite like The Catch.

2. Victory: It's hard to imagine that anything could be more memorable to a Braves fan than the day of Game 6 of the 1995 World Series, when Dave Justice called out the local fans for being disinterested, and then that same night -- with this baseball fan in attendance -- swatted a solo homer for the lone run in a 1-0, series-clinching victory that induced bedlam in the stands not limited to a ferocious round of high fives with all of the complete strangers in the vicinity, at least one of whom may have been wearing overalls (you gotta love the South).

But one moment was more memorable...

1. The Slide: Several years ago, some entity affiliated with the Braves (I believe it may have been TBS) started an ad campaign centered around the slogan: "Where were you when Sid Slid?" The question, though it sounds deep and thought provoking, is actually neither -- there isn't a Braves fan alive who doesn't know where he was at that precise moment, when with two outs and the Braves trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, Francisco Cabrera singled to left off Pirates' reliever Stan Belinda to first score Dave Justice, and as mythically slow-footed first baseman Sid Bream rounded third, came the classic radio call from Skip Caray, in what was undoubtedly that curmudgeonly broadcaster's finest hour:

"Here comes's the throw to the plate...he is...SAFE. Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!"

Somehow, that slow bastard Bream made it home, slogging around third like he had a Steinway and Sons strapped to his back, beating the throw from Pirates' left fielder Barry Bonds and the tag from catcher Mike LaValliere with a perfect slide. Maybe the greatest sports moment of my lifetime.

And now, here's my confession: I missed it.

Yes, that's right -- one of the most obnoxious Braves fans on the planet today, back then The Off-Color Commentator was a 14-year-old kid who had school the next day. And seeing that the Braves trailed 2-0 late in the game, I decided to go to sleep. It seems indefensible today, but at the time I thought my team was finished, and instead of watching the painful ending, I decided to pack it in and at least be well-rested if I had to be disappointed.

And then, the following morning, the headline on the newspaper that was sitting on the kitchen table said it all: "Unbelievable!"

As hokey as it may sound, a lesson -- at least in some vague, planting-of-the-seeds kind of way -- was first learned that night. What was previously misunderstood and perhaps even ignored began to become clear: The notion that as a true fan, you never, by any means mail it in on your team, even when things seem most bleak.

As Commander Peter Quincy Taggart said in Galaxy Quest, "Never give up. Never surrender."

Thanks for the 15 years of memories, Braves.

Now go get those bastard Mets in '07.


  • Since this is already a grotesquely ATL-centric post, we might as well blow it out. As you may have heard by now, the thus-far completely ferocious Falcons recently became just a tad bit less frightening with the signing of geriatric 46-year-old kicker Morton Andersen. Writes loyal reader Kuniansky: "How old is Morton Andersen? Did we have to excavate his grave?" Well put.
  • And in closing, a piece of media that you'll be able to enjoy even if you're ready to bludgeon me over the head and call me a dirty redneck for being so obsessed with Atlanta sports: The geniuses at SLAMonline have dug up a true relic -- a mid 80's music video featuring the Fratello-era Atlanta Hawks -- 'Kak, 'Nique, Spud. It doesn't get much better than this: Atlanta Air Force. Prepare to take flight.

September 18, 2006

NFL Week 2: Things You Probably Don't Need to Know But Might Enjoy Hearing Nonetheless

Some thoughts on Week 2 of the NFL composed while sitting in a park watching two Europeans engage in a game of catch that may threaten to set the game of baseball back generations...

Carnage a trois: From what these eyes have seen thus far, three teams in the NFL are far and away more frightening than all the rest. And those three, not necessarily in order, are the Falcons, Bears and Chargers. And yes, this is written with full cognizance that there are a lot of 2-0 teams, and yes the Steelers could get into the mix if they lambast JAX on MNF, but of the teams who have played two games, the squads from ATL, CHI and SD look truly scary.

And what’s the key? It’s all about defense. We're not talking about good, solid sit-back-in-proper-coverage D – each of these teams plays more of a "rape and pillage" style. Forgive the tasteless terminology, but that’s really what it is – insane linemen like Patrick Kerney, John Abraham, Brian Urlacher and Shawne Merriman who attack the opposing QB like packs of hyenas pouncing on a two-day old sheep's carcass in an open prairie.

And of course it helps that the Falcons have an insane rushing attack (306 rushing yards on Sunday), the Chargers have the best RB and TE in football and the Bears finally have Rex Grossman healthy and playing better than he ever has (4 TD passes on Sunday).

Are these the three best teams in football right now? Possibly. But even more so, they’re the three scariest. At this precise moment in time, there are no other teams you want to face less.

T.O. Needs Time Off: In a shocking piece of news, Terrell Owens is hurt – on Sunday night he broke his right ring finger and will miss 2 to 4 weeks. If you’re at all surprised, you’re an idiot – there were two things guaranteed to happen with Terrell Owens this year: #1 was that he would completely sell out Drew Bledsoe as a human being and a QB (hasn’t happened yet), and #2 was that he would get hurt. Kind of interesting that a guy who chronically can’t stay committed to one QB or team would break his ring finger, don’t you think?

Also, can we all agree to use this time that Terrell Owens is out not to talk about Terrell Owens? Can we not have daily updates on his progress recovering from his finger? Can we not see him on a training bike on the sidelines at Cowboys practice for just 3 weeks? Please? Well, can we have 2 weeks then? 1? No – we have to talk about him right now? Dammit.

Did I Catch a Niner in There? Definitely one of the biggest surprises of the first two weeks has been the play of the 49ers, a team that this writer had written off as a 2-14 squad without giving it much thought. Well, after beating STL on Sunday, they’re already half the way there.

Their improbable early-season play (which included a close loss to Arizona in Week 1) has been the direct product of QB Alex Smith transforming from Alex P. Keaton in ’05 to legit NFL QB in ’06. It helps that he’s got everyone’s favorite "trendy to the point that he’s almost annoying to hear about by no fault of his own" RB in Frank Gore and a couple of good receivers in Antonio Bryant and TE Vernon Davis. This is not to say that the Niners are actually that good, but you no longer have to cringe and change the channel should you accidentally stumble onto one of their games.

The Clinton Administration: Strange things are going on in Washington between boss man Joe Gibbs and RB Clinton Portis, who continues to be bothered by an injured – or possibly not that injured – shoulder. In Week 1, Portis said he’d probably sit out and be back Week 2. Then Gibbs shockingly announced Portis would be able to play, and play he did. Then in Week 2, Gibbs announced that since Portis hadn’t practiced, he probably wouldn’t play, which Portis found completely shocking because he was planning on suiting up. Meanwhile, even before the season started, ESPN’s injury guru Will Carroll said that Portis was 100% healthy. (Can’t provide you a link because you have to have a membership to read it…bastards.)

So what’s going on here? From one angle, it almost seems like Portis actually doesn’t want to play yet because he wants to be careful, but Gibbs forced/convinced him to suit up in Week 1, to his displeasure. Then, displeased that he had been forced to put his shoulder in jeopardy before he was ready to do so, Portis sat out practice leading up to Week 2, at which point Gibbs sidled up to the urinal and added a few new squirts to this bizarre pissing contest by pulling the old If you don’t practice, you don’t play routine.

Of course this is all pure speculation and could be as inaccurate and misguided as trying to shoot a hummingbird with an elephant gun (whatever that means). But the point is, something bizarre is going on in our nation’s capital. And this looks more like it’s now about some kind of odd power struggle than it is about the actual status of Clinton Portis’ shoulder.

A few other things to note:

  • The Killer C’s (Marques Colston of the Saints and Jerricho Cotchery of the Jets, who were discussed last week) now have 4 TD’s between them after they each caught one more on Sunday. As mentioned after Week 1, these are possibly the two best WR’s that you have absolutely no good reason to have heard of. If you don’t know, now you know.
  • The Raiders and the Titans have to be the two worst teams in the NFL.
  • Just missing out on being included in the “Carnage a trios” item above listing the most scary teams in the league: Baltimore. Not yet sold on that offense but their D is frightening again. And not just in the sense that Ray Lewis is a scary man.
  • Haven’t really had much exposure to Jets’ new Head Coach Eric Mangini, but for some reason I can picture people having said about him once, “That Eric Mangini is such a nice young man.” And this is based on absolutely nothing other than the fact that he just looks way more friendly than the average NFL head coach. (Wow, this was a stupid comment.
  • If you haven’t had a chance to see the Lions play yet this year, don’t. They stink. And for the record, Kevin Jones has duped The OCC into drafting him in all of his fantasy leagues again this year. What a terrible bandwagon to be inexplicably tied to for all eternity. Remember how good Kevin Jones was at the end of 2004? He won me a fantasy league that year. And that’s impossible to forget. It’s like you went out one night in Camden, NJ (a.k.a. statistically the most dangerous city in America) and somehow, beating all odds, you had a really fun time, so you keep going back for more hoping to duplicate that one evening, but now when you go back you get shot at all the time and end up stumbling into crack dens. Well, it’s kind of like that. You remember the watershed moment in Rushmore, when Herman Blume (played by Bill Murray) says to Max Fischer, “She’s my Rushmore, Max”? Well, Kevin Jones – for better or for worse, you’re my Camden. Now please find the hole and start running towards daylight before I hop on the New Jersey Transit train again.

September 14, 2006

Please Pass the Soap

It started with Joe Torre saying Angels' rookie Howie Kendrick was a "good-looking young man." It escalated in slightly bizarre fashion when Rangers' manager Buck Showalter said his rookie right fielder Nelson Cruz had "a good face."

And now, courtesy of Vikings' head coach Brad Childress, we have reached a new stratosphere. Welcome to the next level:

"Running backs usually get better the warmer they get, the more feel they get for the game," says Childress. "They can kind of get lathered up a bit. In a perfect world, that's what you do; you lather a guy up."

This one very nearly leaves The OCC at a loss for words.

But not quite.

First off, this is not meant to be a discourse on the merits or pitfalls of lathering a guy up. People may lather others or not lather as they please.

However, what is completely unacceptable about this is that it represents the trend that many professional coaches nowadays are seemingly unaware when they're speaking in innuendo. Sure, it's understandable what Joe Torre meant with his comment, and while Showalter's "good face" comment was strange and...well, mildly disturbing, you kind of expect Buck Showalter to say creepy things like that. At least in both cases you can kind of see how Torre and Showalter didn't realize that their comments might be misinterpreted (or properly interpreted, as the case may be).

But please, just once more, take a look at what Childress said:

In a perfect world, that's what you do; you lather a guy up.

He had to have been aware of the strange sexual connotation here, right? I mean, I suppose it's possible that Childress is a former bath house attendant who is so desensetized to the notion of lathering that it actually didn't cross his mind he was saying something absurd. But unless he's far more mature than this particular writer (a distinct possibility), the likelihood is that he knew exactly what his comment might mean if left in even slightly juvenile hands.

So assuming that Childress was aware of what he was saying, why did he do it? Was he just messing with the media and seeing if he could get his filthy double entendre into the local paper? Did he walk down into his kitchen the following morning and high-five his 17-year-old son after showing him what Dad managed to sneak past the local beat reporters?

Or, perhaps it's just that the world of sport has become so oblivious as to its own loaded lingo and terminology that we hardly even flinch anymore when a coach or TV commentator mentions deep penetration into the opposing team's defense or says that a guy is getting a blow on the sidelines.

I mean, there are probably many people out there who would read this post and cry foul over the overanalyzing and misinterpretation of Brad Childress' words. And that's a shame. If you can't and aren't inclined to laugh at stuff like this...well, you have clearly come to the wrong place, and I will have to ask you to leave immediately.

But now I've gone and gotten myself all worked up.

Or should I say lathered?

  • Remember that scene in Starsky and Hutch (Owen Wilson-Ben Stiller remake version) when Starsky (played by Stiller) breaks out his bad ass sports car and Hutch (Wilson) says to him, "Your stock just went up in my book, my friend." Well, here's a little Your stock just went up in my book, my friend to Titans' rookie RB LenDale White, who has vaulted significantly upwards in the standings of celebrity USC alum NFL rookies with the news that Snoop and Warren G. are expected to be in attendance to watch him play in San Diego this weekend.
  • This is not really sports-related, but it's pretty amusing: Scenes from Jean-Claude Van Damme's Bloodsport edited to be a Mentos commercial. Thanks to reader jimmyrad for passing along (incidentally, jimmy also provided the tip on the Childress comment, so it's a big day for him here on the site).
  • Lastly -- and it's a shame to eulogize their season in a footnote, but that's essentially what they are right now -- the Braves' run of division titles offically came to an end this week. Had a brief moment of laughter on Wednesday picturing Bobby Cox pulling out the Jake Taylor "There's only one thing left to do...Win the whole fucking thing" speech from Major League, but that quickly lost its luster when Los Bravos went out and got swept in a doubleheader. If there's one consolation to this -- and it's a lesson Mets' fans most likely will learn soon enough -- first-round playoff losses are really depressing.

September 12, 2006

Please Pay Attention to Tony Kornheiser

Overheard during ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast of the Vikings-Redskins game:

ESPN analyst Joe Thiesmann: "The Redskins were unbelievable a year ago. Four percent of all the passes thrown they deflected."

After Theismann rambled a little bit more, and Mike Tirico added his own comment about deflected passes, Tony Kornheiser said sarcastically:

"Course if that was very important -- deflecting passes -- you'd go out and sign a couple of 7-foot-5 inch guys, stick 'em in a uniform, say, 'stand straight up and bat it away.'"

To which Theismann responded in a patient but slightly irritated tone, "The problem is guys that big can't move with the agility of these defensive linemen at 6-3, 6-4, some of 'em 6-5."

And at this point, Kornheiser could hold back no longer: "Well you could hire a giraffe, put him in a uniform and see if the QB could get it over his head," he said.

The moment Kornheiser finished his line, Theismann cut right in and said, "On a down and distance like this, the Redskins cannot commit a holding penalty and give up a cheap first down."

End of conversation. The Redskins snapped the ball and Mike Tirico picked up the play-by-play.

Not sure how well it translates to print, but this was just a taaaaaad bit awkward to listen to.

Basically, you had Theismann acting like the overly-prepared student who raises his hand at every opportunity, while Kornheiser was the kid in the back row chewing on a toothpick, relentlessly clowning on the loser who had spent way too much time preparing for class (Theismann). And the teacher (Tirico) completely ignored the whole thing, as though it had never happened, even though he clearly knew what had transpired and simply had no idea how to react.

Admittedly, it was fairly entertaining theater. But under closer inspection, something was off.

After much consideration of the dynamic, the problem seems to be that Theismann and Tirico have no idea how to react to Kornheiser. While Kornheiser's schtick is great on PTI, when he's in the announcer's booth, without the proper people to butt heads with, he becomes some kind of strange sideshow.

For instance, when he was clearly trying to bait Theismann into getting pissed off with the preposterous "giraffe" comment, Theismann didn't take a full swing back. He took the high road and moved on. And Tirico, instead of putting some funny closing comment on the slightly awkward exchange, did the exact same thing: He ignored it.

At another point in the night, Kornheiser made a comment about Santana Moss being on his fantasy team, to which Tirico responded something along the lines of, "Are you going to be doing this all year?" And he actually sounded legitimately annoyed, if not completely disinterested.

Tony Kornheiser should be the centerpiece of that broadcast team, but it won't work if his partners are going to dismiss him altogether. They can't be so singularly obsessed with making sure every play is documented and analyzed that they drown out Kornheiser's entertainment value.

The ownus to make this work is on Mike Tirico. Clearly, Theismann isn't close to biting on Tony's efforts to get him pissed off. So Tirico at the very least has to play the role of moderator. And when Tony makes a stupid, thoughtless comment (which he is inevitably going to do), Tirico's got to give it some attention instead of completely dismissing it, or else Kornheiser is basically going to be sitting in the booth yelling for attention like some petulant kid. And before we know it, he'll be
Dennis Miller reincarnated -- the annoying wise guy who won't keep his mouth shut, when in reality, with more help from his team, he could and should be the star of the entire production.

September 11, 2006

NFL Week 1: Things You Probably Don't Need to Know But Might Enjoy Hearing Nonetheless

Due to a set of circumstances that can't (and perhaps should not) be changed, The OCC is going to be watching an inordinate amount of NFL football this season. So for those of you trapped at home with your young child, pregnant wife, invalid nephew or ornery pet alpaca, The OCC is hitting the trenches to bring you important news from the world of football. It

Reggie Bush Will Make Houston Weep for All Eternity. Surely one game is too early to pass judgment on the careers of Reggie Bush and Mario Williams (whom the Texans took one pick ahead of Bush). Right?

Absolutely not. It doesn't matter how good Mario ends up being -- Reggie looked something close to spectacular on Sunday, and you get the sense that he's still figuring out where he's supposed to go and what he's supposed to do. The Saints put the ball in his hands a lot on Sunday and aren't going to stop. If for some odd reason he has a bad Week 2, trade for him in your fantasy league. He's going to be a beast. And if for some reason you decided to hate him as some kind of anti-USC backlash, come down off your high horse and hop on the Reggie Bush bandwagon. It's a fun place to be.

Be Afraid of Falcons. Watched just about every minute of the Falcons-Panthers game, and sure the Panthers were without Steve Smith, but the Falcons defensive line is going to make many a QB mess his trousers this year. John Abraham was tearing through the Panthers' O-line like he was Jason Statham on Crank yesterday.

Also of note: The Falcons' ground game looks equally intimidating. Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood were running around like they had each just spent an hour huffing gasoline in the trainer's room. (Why the Falcons drug analogies? Don't know exactly. Once the ball gets rolling with unnecessary references, it's tough to stop. Though perhaps the huffing gas analogy doesn't quite work...saw that movie where Philip Seymour Hoffman was a gas addict and it didn't appear to be the kind of high that might improve one's burst off the line.)

At any rate, you get the point: The Falcons might be really, really good, and the Panthers -- though without their star wideout -- might be overrated as a Super Bowl contender.

Forecast in KC: Cloudy, 92% Chance of Herm. Even before QB Trent Green was concussed in a most brutal manner on Sunday, it was obvious that the Chiefs under new coach Herm Edwards were not going to be a particularly pretty group to watch on offense. Remember how fun they were last year, and the year before, and the year before, when they ran completely wild when they had the football and, much like an NFL version of the Phoenix Suns, seemingly let their opponents come right back at them so that they could get the ball back on offense as quickly as possible?

(Admit it, even though it's not really how the game is supposed to be played, don't you kind of love teams like this? Perhaps they're easy to sympathize with because for those of us who have ever played a sports video game against the computer, we know how incredibly boring it is to watch the computer run its methodical offense, and sometimes we just decide to go ahead and let the other team score, because playing offense is really the most fun part anyway.)

In any case, it's no coincidence that yesterday, Jets' QB Chad Pennington threw for his most yards since Week 7 of 2002. Sure, he's been hurt, and is now presumably healthy, but that's only part of it. Herm Edwards is a defensive coach. Which is to say, his teams suck offensively. If you drafted Trent Green on your fantasy team, you're an idiot, and you most likely should be slapped. (High five! I drafted him too.)

Jacksonville WR Matt Jones Will Tear Out Your Trachea. Which is to say, he's going to be a complete monster. Why insist on this after a seemingly average Week 1 in which he caught 5 balls for 71 yards? Because in 2005, he only caught 5 passes in a game once (excluding a 6-catch playoff game). So...what's your point? Doesn't he just suck? you are probably asking.

The answer is no. Matt Jones, in case you don't know, goes 6-foot-6, runs a I-just-snorted-a-bunch-of-glue 40-yard dash (sorry, couldn't resist) and is still figuring out what the hell he's doing out on the football field. But it looks like this year he might have accelerated the learning curve quite a bit. What a beast. He's going to catch a lot of TD's if Jacksonville can move the ball.

There is bad karma in Detroit. Okay, so the Lions actually played a pretty inspired game yesterday from a defensive standpoint, but what the hell is wrong with that offense? Are Kevin Jones and Roy Williams just flat-out overrated? Has Mike Martz stopped snorting gank and completely lost his crazed mad scientist offensive genius mojo? Probably too early to get upset, but it's a little bit disconcerting. And things aren't going to get much prettier against a Bears defense that completely violated Brett Favre and the Packers on Sunday.

Killer C's. A couple of players you probably haven't noticed or ever heard of or might not even care to know about who look like they could have suprisingly good seasons: Jets' WR Jerricho Cotchery and Saints' WR Marques Colston. Both are young (this is Cotchery's third year; Colston is a rookie) and appear to be nice "I can't throw the ball deep every play because my gimpy-ass shoulder can't handle it" options for their respective QB's (Chad Pennington and Drew Brees).

Also, they both have last names that start with "C," one of which sounds a lot like "crotchety" and the other, if inverted in the proper manner, is eerily close to spelling out "Stone Cold."
Coincidence? I think not.
A couple other thoughts:
  • I know I won't be the first person to say this, but I can't believe September 11th, 2001 was five years ago. That is truly hard to fathom, probably because not a week or two goes by when we don't discuss or read about the event, at least in passing. So when we never truly forget about it, it never can seem that far away. Deep, right?
  • And on the subject of the passing of time, yesterday Julio Franco played third base for the first time since October 2, 1982. In case you were wondering, it doesn't appear that anything truly monumental happened on that day in history, but for a little perspective on what a true stallion Julio Franco is, the last time he played third base before Sunday was the day that New Orleans center Tyson Chandler was born. Which is awesome because...well, because it's the best I could do to find something interesting to say about October 2, 1982. Viva la Julio!

September 08, 2006

Be Careful Where You Get Your Hair Cut

If you were watching ESPN late Thursday night in the approximate time range of 12:30 a.m., you may have come across a commercial (or more appropriately, a public service announcement) warning high school athletes about the perils of steroid use.

And regardless of how closely you were paying attention to this commercial, the operative word you most likely took away from the ad was dangerous. As in, Don't do steroids. They're DANGEROUS.

Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George ends up dating the young woman from Elaine's office? The woman wasn't remotely interested in George until Elaine told her that George was a bad seed. And then, all of a sudden, she became obsessed with him (leading to a transcendent moment in which George meets the woman in a public park while wearing a high school style letter jacket).

Anyhow, the point is this: Does whoever designed this public service announcement really think that the word "dangerous" is a deterrent to high school kids? High school kids love danger. They think they're invincible, which is why they drive their cars inappropriately fast (sometimes in the wrong lane), try out their kung fu techniques on mailboxes, shoot out windows with slingshots, etc.

So if the public service announcement makers of the world are naive enough to think that the old "Steroids are dangerous, so don't do them!" bit is going to do anything other than add another layer of intrigue to an already alluring temptation for high schoolers, they've got their head in the wrong place (read: up their asses).

If you're attempting to really point out what's bad about steroids for high school kids, you've got to know your audience. What are kids (and all of us, for that matter) really worried about? Sure, health is a factor, but more than anything, most of us on Planet Superficial care about our looks. So there's very little question it would be more effective to say, "Go ahead and do steroids if you want, but just know that your balls are going to shrink and you'll get horrible acne."

Certainly saying that would be better than offering up the notion of danger as the primary deterrent. Because if the aforementioned episode of Seinfeld points out anything, it's that danger (assuming you survive) is pretty much completely radical.
  • And now, a very sincere OCC thank you to Detroit Lions' assistant coach Joe Cullen for introducing a new and wonderful concept into the lexicon: The Naked DUI. Yes, that's right -- Cullen has been busted two times in the past fortnight for getting all drunk and sloppy and putting on his birthday suit (one time, he took it up a notch by going for late-night, nude drunken eats at a Wendy's). The upshot of this: Now, when a friend (heaven forbid) or acquaintance gets a DUI, instead of saying, "Damn, that sucks," you can say, "Damn, that sucks. Was he (she) naked?" Really adds a lot to the conversation, doesn't it?
  • Does Whitney Houston feel jealous, jilted or just downright confused that there's a Kevin Costner movie coming out called The Guardian and she hasn't been asked to be in it?
  • After Wednesday's post about the new Keith Hernandez-spawned euphemism "A little out in the wilderness," an associate reminded me of another wonderful phrase to describe illicit behavior that the world needs to know about. A few weeks ago, while on vacation in Atlanta and sitting in said associate's backyard, a well-endowed SUV (meaning decked out with paint job and rims) came rolling down the driveway (the driveway is a shared one with the apartment building next door). A gentleman stepped out of the vehicle and began looking around as though he feared a sniper's bullet might puncture his gullet at any moment. At this juncture, my friend went down to speak to the man about his vehicle. A brief conversation ensued in which the man said his car was for sale, divulged the multiple thousands of dollars he had put into customizing the machine (upwards of $25K) and then, out of the blue, said, "I'm gonna go get my hair cut," at which point he disappeared into the back of the apartment building, not to be seen again. It was our estimation that this man had no intention of getting his hair cut, and it was also our estimation that this immediately needed to be introduced as a phrase essentially meaning, "Don't ask me what I'm doing; you don't want to know." So there you have it -- I'm gonna go get my hair cut. Use it wisely.

September 07, 2006

Wilderness Skills

A fine moment in sports broadcasting during the Mets-Braves doubleheader on Wednesday (a pair of games that, incidentally, clearly signaled the end of the Braves' waning playoff hopes).

At one point in the second game of the twin bill, with the Mets in the lead (again) and with broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez clearly needing to fill some time, the topic of conversation turned to the weather (as it so often does when The OCC places a telephone call to his grandfather).

Generally when TV commentators start talking about the temperature, it's time for Johnny Sports Fan to think about finding a more appropriate way to spend his time, but in this case, the Doppler talk actually spawned some entertainment. Here's the exchange that took place between the Mets' broadcast team:

Gary: "Remember in '95 when they played the World Series in Cleveland? They had snow during the game."

Keith: "That was the years I was a little out in the wilderness. I wasn't watching baseball."

Somehow, Gary managed to completely ignore this comment and move on, showing he is truly a pro's pro. A little out in the wilderness? Are you serious, Keith? No denying it's probably true, but why would you possibly choose to share that information on a TV broadcast? Even if he had no recollection of what Gary was talking about (which he clearly didn't), couldn't Keith have just as easily said, "Oh yeah, it gets cold in Cleveland in October" instead of essentially bragging to the entire New York television market that he spent the mid-1990's coked out of his proverbial gourd?

Given Keith's track record, that's what we have to assume he means by "a little out in the wilderness," right? There's no chance he's referring to some kind of vision quest in the Alaskan Outback. (Hell, does Alaska even have an outback?)

Whatever Keith Hernandez meant by his bizarre comment on Wednesday, your instructions are as follows: Any time you have an opportunity to use the phrase "a little out in the wilderness" to describe someone who has found himself on the fringe of normal society thanks to his wreckless and self-destructive tendencies, it is imperative that you do so.

While Keith Hernandez clearly has plenty of leeway in terms of what he can get away with at his job, we're not all so lucky. But if any of you out there are feeling slightly uncertain about your job security, take heart -- at least you're not an NFL player.

On Sunday morning, Chargers' linebacker Steve Foley was shot during an encounter with an off-duty police officer, and instead of sending a get-well-soon cake or a basket of fruit, the team went a slightly different route and completely voided his $1.65 million salary. That qualifies as a definite double-ouchie -- taking a bullet and losing nearly 2 million bones.

Of course, before we get too sympathetic, it should be noted that Foley's car had been driving close to 90 mph and executing maneuvers that would make Alex Zanardi blush. And after being pulled over, he walked towards the officer's car, and though unarmed, he allegedly reached into his waistband with his right hand, apparently not in an Al Bundy kind of way.

But whatever the case -- whether the officer completely overreacted, whether Foley actually was threatening him, or both -- we do know one thing: NFL teams have no time for semantics. Take a bullet under anything resembling questionable circumstances, and you're dead to them.

September 05, 2006

Cosmic Reflux

A series of random thoughts composed while pondering why the day off from work is called Labor Day when in fact the actual "labor" takes place on the days that follow:
  • A frightening moment for Braves' second baseman Marcus Giles this week when he was told by doctors that he had a heart problem. Turns out, the doctors were wrong and Giles merely has acid reflux, an uncomfortable condition that is so different from a surgery-requiring heart condition that whatever doctor or doctors were involved in the diagnosis should be slapped with either the back of Giles' hand or some kind of malpractice suit.
  • On the subject of the Braves, The OCC went out to Shea Stadium last evening (accompanied by Father of OCC and Mother of OCC) to catch a Braves-Mets matchup. And the topic of conversation for much of the night (as the Braves cruised to a tidy 5-0 victory) was time taken between pitches by each team's hurler. A true contrast of styles between Steve Trachsel and Chuck James. At one point in the game, counting out how long each pitcher took from the time he received the ball and the time he threw it, Trachsel clocked in at a brutal 25 seconds, while James came in at 8 seconds. In between just about every pitch, Trachsel had to administer a rub down (to the baseball, you sickos) and clean off his spikes. The diagnosis from Mother of OCC: Trachsel is obsessive-compulsive. Not sure about that, but I think we can all agree he's annoying as hell to watch.
  • While perusing some stats last evening (we baseball nerds do this for no good reason from time to time), happened to notice that Frank Thomas is having a truly bizarre season: 30 homers and 8 doubles entering Monday night's game. Obviously Big Frank isn't the fastest man in the world, but it's truly odd for a premium slugger to have so few two-base hits. Can we get our researcher to look into the last time a player had 30+ homers and less than 10 doubles in one year? Has that ever happened? (I am now receiving word that we do not have a researcher.)
  • In a mildly disturbing (and now ongoing) trend that began when Yankees' manager Joe Torre recently referred to Angels' infielder Howie Kendrick as a "good-looking young man" apropos of nothing, Rangers' manager Buck Showalter has now jumped on the bandwagon with this gem about his rookie outfielder Nelson Cruz: "There's a lot to like there -- he has a good work ethic and a good face, a lot of skills that he brings to the table." Beg your pardon? A good face? Has Buck completely lost it? At least in Torre's case we were able to infer that he meant to say that Kendrick was an impressive young baseball player, but Showalter just dropped an F (face) bomb completely out of the blue. If he ever starts channeling Captain Oveur from Airplane ("So tell me Nelson, have you ever seen a grown man naked?"), it might be time for Nelson Cruz to politely ask for a trade.
  • Lastly, as you most likely have heard by now, the man known to some as Steve Irwin but to most as Crocodile Hunter died on Monday in Australia, killed by a stingray's poisonous barb when it poked a hole in his heart. At the risk of sounding insensitive (a risk that hasn't always deterred The OCC in the past), could Crocodile Hunter have really gone out any other way? Not to say there's any justice in a the man being taken down at age 44 for no clear reason, but in some abstract cosmic way, is this better than if he had died peacefully in his sleep at age 75? Knowing nothing about the man's off-camera persona, you have to wonder what he would think of this. Would he perhaps, knowing what happened to him, give it just the slightest pump of the fist because he knows he was doing what he loved when it all ended? Which is all to say, in the least corny way possible, that though he may have gone too early, The Crocodile Hunter went out like a champion.