April 30, 2007

Wanted: Announcer Capable of Human Emotions

As you’ve probably heard by now, late last evening America’s Team (the Golden State Warriors) pulled out a truly dramatic win over Dallas to go ahead three games to one in their first round series before one of the most rabidly insane NBA crowds probably of all time. Without fear of overstating it, we can safely call it an incredibly exciting 2.5 hours of basketball.

But to hear TNT announcer Dick Stockton call it, you’d think it was an exhibition match in the Dubuque, Iowa Over-58 Men’s High Sock, Rec Spec, Set Shot and Herniated Disc League.

Look, this is the team that is quickly bringing into the lexicon (courtesy of a dedicated group of diehard fans out West) the mantra “More Crazy!” They are the only team in the league that has a catchy, unique, slightly douche bag-esque yet more-or-less irresistible nickname: The Dubs.

Yet when Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki were raining threes to desperately keep the Mavs in the game in the closing minutes, you’d have thought the Warriors were already up 30. It was simply awful work on Stockton’s part, and fortunately the game itself was so exciting that he couldn’t fully drag it down.

It’s one thing for Stockton (and to a slightly lesser extent, Reggie Miller) to take the pronunciation of Mickael Pietrus’ name and blast it into a thousand pieces at point-blank range with an elephant gun, but Monsieur Stockton must summon the same gusto that he uses to annihilate pronunciations to match the insane energy of the fans in the arena and the players on the court. More crazy, Dick Stockton! MORE CRAZY!

Honestly, we’ve never had a real problem with Tricky Dicky in the past, but that’s probably because he doesn’t usually cross paths with series that are this entertaining. His 11 heart beats per minute style might work on a random Thursday night in January, but that blasé approach simply will not stand in the O-rena.

Now a quick digression that will prove relevant in a moment:

A good friend of ours was once playing basketball on New York City’s Goat Courts, located at 100th St. and Amsterdam Ave., in a game that prominently involved a number of high school-aged kids (this has a tendency to happen sometimes on New York City playgrounds).

Anyhow, at one point in the game, with a team made up entirely of high schoolers trailing by approximately 6 to 8 points, one of the kids crossed over the older guy guarding him and caused him to slip. And right at that moment, he tossed the ball to the ground, walked off the court and declared the game over. That was it – because he had broken his defender so badly, the game was finished. And somehow this meant that his team had won.

Insane logic to be sure, and on several occasions it’s made us imagine how hilarious it would be if similar principles were applied in the NBA and were actually incorporated into the rules of the game. So if a player got crossed over really badly or was delivered a particularly nasty facial, the ref walks up to the player who got abused and throws him right out of the game. Double technical on the spot – you’re gone. Can you imagine how insane the crowd would go for something like this?

Okay, clearly it’s a ridiculous concept and will never happen, but we bring it up because we’d really love to see some sort of in-game penalty system for lackluster TV announcers. Picture Dick Stockton slogging through the third quarter of Warriors-Mavs on Sunday night, and after he nonchalants his third consecutive exciting play, the ref stops the game, walks over to the table and gives him the heave. He protests (half-heartedly, of course) and then eventually is forced to leave underneath a hail of two-thirds empty beer cups and french fry containers. Now that would be amazing.

Unfortunately, such a system clearly isn’t going to be implemented despite its clear and undeniable merits. However, we do have a solution to the Stockton problem that we think could work out well for everyone:

Dick Stockton and Erick Dampier are to be traded to the Raptors-Nets series in exchange for Marv Albert and Bostjan Nachbar.

In sum, we have decided that what we need at this point is More Crazy, and Marv can at the very least provide us with A Little Bit of Crazy.

(Dampier and Nachbar, for the record, are included because of salary cap purposes.)

April 24, 2007

The Legend of the Severed Quad

Unless you’ve been away on holiday on that crazy Earth-like planet that scientists just discovered (you know
the one located near red dwarf star Gilese 581), you’ve probably heard the Josh Hamilton story by now: Former #1 overall pick gets into huge trouble with drug addiction and then improbably resurfaces in the Major Leagues this year only to club five homers in his first 38 at-bats in The Show.

Pretty good story.

Here’s a fascinating little offshoot of it that you might not know:

Hamilton has a torn quadriceps muscle in his left leg, and when he flexes his left leg, a sizable lump surfaces above the knee. As he recently explained to the Dayton Daily News,

"They can't do anything about it, but it doesn't bother me. It just detached and kind of rolled up."

Something about this image strikes us as wonderfully vivid, terribly gruesome and slightly fascinating, all at the same time. We never really realized that a muscle could just roll up like that.

Does this mean that we don’t actually need our quad muscles? To think how much time we’ve spent in our lives doing that one stretch where you have to pull back your one leg and then focus on one area of the ground so that you don’t fall over while standing on your other leg.

Could we skip this stretch altogether for the rest of eternity and just have our quad muscles snipped? And if so, can we have Carl Spackler, the greenskeeper from Caddyshack, perform the surgical procedure?

(As you may recall, Carl was fully prepared to sever Judge Smails’ hamstring with a knife. Apparently, as it turns out, he would have been doing the Judge something of a favor. The thing would have just rolled up and made a lump and then he wouldn’t really have to worry about it anymore.)

For the record, we're not actually advising the snipping of various muscles in the upper leg region as a means of emulating Josh Hamilton, but we’d be lying if we said this whole thing hadn’t made us just a tad bit curious.

Can somebody raise Geoff Huish, the testicle-snipping rugby fan, on the tele? Given his track record, he’d probably be up for giving it a go.


As if Dayton Daily News writer Hal McCoy hadn’t given us enough of a gift with the Hamilton quad revelation, in the very same article he revealed that Ken Griffey, Jr. has recently missed time with a case of diverticulitis.

Yet somehow, he does not take any measures whatsoever to explain what in the dickens diverticulitis is.

Are we supposed to have heard of that illness? Our spell check sure as shit hasn’t heard of it.

Does anybody know? Nobody? Fine – we’ll look it up. Hang on…

[Pause for Internet search]

Thanks for waiting. Dictionary.com has just provided us with two definitions, and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t absolutely love them both. The first:

Noun. Inflammation of one or more diverticula, characterized by abdominal pain, fever, and changes in bowel movements.

Changes in bowel movements – sounds uncomfortable. Does this mean that your bowel movements morph into different entities? Like, are you suddenly crapping out snakes, or tiny little lemmings that yelp in delight as they splash down into the lukewarm toilet water?

Umm... perhaps we should just move on to the second definition:

Noun. Inflammation of a diverticulum or of diverticula in the intestinal tract, causing fecal stagnation and pain.

Bless you, dictionary.com. Bless your sweet heart. Thanks to you we now have been exposed to the term “fecal stagnation.” Fantastic.

Not that this really clears anything up. I mean, if you requested a chalkboard diagram depicting exactly what diverticulitis is, we’d probably just draw you a picture of some dude taking a really uncomfortable dump.

And then we’d draw a Reds hat on top of his head and call him Ken Griffey, Jr.

By the way, for those of you wondering what a “diverticula” is, it’s “a blind, tubular sac or process branching off from a canal or cavity, esp. an abnormal, saclike herniation of the mucosal layer through the muscular wall of the colon.”

This is just the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it? Did you ever imagine you’d get “tubular sac,” “saclike herniation” and “mucosal layer” in the same sentence?

You gotta love baseball season.

April 23, 2007

Notes from the Shea

Made a pair of trips out to Shea Stadium this weekend in the hopes of tracking down AWOL Braves infielder Willy Aybar. That mission was not successful, but fear not Vladimir Guerrero is on the case. Though we temporarily failed at finding the estranged Brave, we did succeed at making a number of observations from one of the most miserably outdated ballparks in America. Here’s what we saw:

The people who operate replays in Major League stadiums are ridiculous. We’ve said this before, but it bears reiteration: Baseball stadiums across America rarely, if ever, show a replay of an impressive play by an opposing player. Nor do they ever show a replay of an opposing player’s home run or extra base hit.

The theory behind this must be that they believe fans are going to storm the field and angrily rip up all the sod if they show the visiting team succeeding, but the simple fact is that baseball fans want to see impressive plays, no matter who made them. If someone from the other team makes a great catch, we want to applaud. If the opposing first baseman hits a 440-foot homer, we want to see how bad of a hanging slider our pitcher threw to serve it up.

The Mets replay operators showed a momentary flash of understanding this concept when they re-ran a spectacular John Smoltz barehanded pickup and throw to first to get Tom Glavine, but on the whole they missed the point entirely.

On one occasion, they even showed a Carlos Beltran routine catch but failed to show the part of the play that followed, where Beltran threw a laser to third that kept the Braves baserunner from advancing. We understand that there are probably mandates about showing too much of the visiting team (and we still think this is ridiculous), but showing the wrong part of remarkable plays by the home team is simply inexcusable.

Those t-shirts they blast at the crowd in between innings are positively awful. Not only are they size XXXXL, but they feel like they’re made of finely-woven Brillo Pad. Honestly, they're only a slight bit softer than shark skin, yet people are practically hurling themselves off the mezzanine to haul them in. We wouldn't pick up one of those dish cloths if it landed in our lap. Actually, we would pick one up if it landed in our lap. And then we'd throw it back on the field like it was a home run ball at Wrigley.

In between innings, they put amusing things up on the big screen (even if they're amusing for all the wrong reasons).
For instance, according to “Snapple Mets Real Facts,” Carlos Delgado’s favorite game is dominos. Which is odd, because we would have guessed his favorite game is baseball.

They also at one point displayed the “Delta Dental Smile Cam,” and chose to pick out a kid with possibly the worst set of human teeth since the conclusion of the Paleozoic Era. Either this is some cruel joke by the camera operator, or they intend for the Delta Dental Smile Cam to be a kind of orthodontic intervention device which is used to publicly shame certain individuals into scheduling appointments to have their ghastly teeth fixed.

David Wright is having trouble hitting for power. But more importantly, his cleats look incredibly stupid. From the loge level (one above field level), they look like a pair of oversized Nike Shox running shoes that somehow made their way onto the discount rack at TJ Maxx. Picture the brightest white laces you can possibly imagine, and then shield your eyes from them. At least we think those were shoelaces – it’s possible they were actually just a blinding white stripe streaking down the top of the shoe, but that might even be worse.

In any case, it’s truly a ghastly look. And for a guy who’s struggling to find his power stroke, we might suggest throwing those kicks into the nearest dumpster and explaining away all troubles by saying, “It’s gotta be the shoes.”

If you thought the ushers at Turner Field were worthless, we present to you: The ushers at Shea. Of course, we’re assuming that the two ushers in our section of the stadium were representative of the entire population of ushers at the stadium. (There’s nothing wrong with that logic, right?)

In any case, these two (a man and a woman, combined age of at least 130) spent virtually the entire game sitting one row behind us watching the game while hordes of people hemorrhaged the aisle they were supposed to be regulating, blocking the view of home plate for tens if not fifteens of fans sitting in our section.

We will, however, give them credit for some reasonably entertaining banter over the course of the game. In the 8th inning, when the Mets sent up David Newhan to pinch hit, the female usher exclaimed “Where is Endy? I don’t understand this.” She was referring to Endy Chavez, whom she apparently likes very much. She was also sitting down, completely ignoring any usher-like duties at this juncture of the game as the people of Section 17 regulated against renegade aisle-loiterers on our own.

And -- it should be added – she referred to David Newhan as “David Nunez.”

Though her finest name alteration – this one intentional – was when she referred to the Mets left fielder as “Moishe Alou.”

Did we mention that these ushers were old? Ahh, yes, we did. But seriously – if you’re having trouble grasping exactly how old, consider this:

The female usher at one point talked about how she saw Jackie Robinson play at Ebbets Field. To which the ancient male usher responded,

“By the way, that time he stole second off Yogi Berra – he was out.” He then went on to say how the media doesn’t want to put it in the papers that Jackie was out stealing second that one time.

Yeah, it’s a real hot-button topic among sports pundits these days. Can’t believe that they're censoring it out of the papers. It's possible that they're not writing about it because at this point there are more important things to talk about.

Or, perhaps, they're not writing about that time that Jackie stole second off Yogi Berra because the memorable play in question was actually the time that Jackie Robinson stole home, not second. Which is probably why the guy sitting behind us is an usher and not a baseball historian.

But then again, he might as well have been a baseball historian for all the usher-related work he was doing.

And before we go, one last thought…

Braves 9, Mets 6. For those keeping track, that makes four wins, two losses for the (first-place) Braves against the Mets this year.

Sorry, Mets fans (and the rest of the baseball world that can't stand that annoying team from Atlanta): The Braves are back.

Thank you for coming to Shea Stadium. Please get home safely.

April 20, 2007

Does Anybody Have a Mop?

Once again, we have to apologize for the lack of the (relatively) customary Friday post this week -- someone just spilled a huge milkshake (or what we hope is a milkshake) all over the new yak skin rug and it's going to take the better part of this afternoon to clean it up.

We'll be back in action before long, so stay tuned.

And as always, we thank you for your patience.

The Management

April 18, 2007

A Cunning Lefty

Some strange and disturbing things are going on in the world of baseball with regard to names.

Just the other day, we were watching a Reds game when they brought a reliever into the game who went by the name of Jon Coutlangus.

Perhaps some of you “sophisticated types” can see a name like Coutlangus and not so much as bat an eyelash, but we couldn’t help but notice a shocking similarity between this name and an intramural basketball team we once played on called the Cunning Linguists.

In any case, we were willing to more or less look past this somewhat filthy name as an isolated incident, until Tuesday, when watching the Cubs game, we heard one of their TV announcers refer to their recently called-up centerfielder as “Felix Pee.” Look -- his name is Felix Pie. P-I-E. That's pronounced "Pie," not "Urine." Get your mind out of the gutter, people.

Then, a couple innings later, we heard them say his name again and this time they said "pee-AY."

Which calmed us down for a moment, until we realized – much to our horror – that in certain parts of France, the word “pee-AY” actually means “festering pile of dog shit.”

Alarming stuff, to say the least. And if that’s not enough to make you concerned, people are throwing pizza at Fenway Park.

But at least things are relatively normal somewhere in the baseball world. Today in Detroit, injured KC Royals closer Octavio Dotel is scheduled to throw as he recovers from a strained left oblique. Explained Royals manager Buddy Bell:

“That means he’s just going to pick up a ball and throw it.”

And somehow, we find that strangely comforting.


On the subject of baseball names and interesting/unusual baseball happenings, apparently there was some dude named Jackie Robinson who did something kind of important 60 years ago. We bring this up because the Broken Cowboy recently donned his journalism cap (as he’s known to do) and sat down for an interview with a man who wrote a book about this Jackie Robinson character. You learn more.

April 16, 2007

Please Do Not Turn Off the Irons

It should be no secret to frequent readers of this site that we’re not overtly obsessed with college football around these parts. If we had to diagnose it, we’d guess that this has something to do with the fact that we grew up in the proximity of two big schools (Georgia and Georgia Tech) with no clear loyalty to either one, then went to college at an institution where football was relevant but certainly not an absolute requirement every Saturday.

In any case, just because we’re the tiniest bit indifferent about college football doesn’t mean that we can’t take great pleasure out of ridiculous online interviews when they come careening into our inbox like a bobsled on a track slicked up with Crisco.

Why we just chose to use a bobsled analogy when talking about college football we can’t be certain, but as you can see there’s just something about the college game that activates the A.D.D. that constantly lives somewhere in the synapses of our brain waiting to pounce at any given moment.

Now what were we talking about again?

Ahh… yes. Funny interviews. And specifically, the funny interview given (we’re not sure exactly when) by Auburn running back Kenny Irons, a player we previously did not know very much about but now feel quite fondly towards as the result of his candid and slightly unusual answers. Consider some of these gems:

Asked about something he could not live without, Irons responded,

“Candy, I love candy. I love candy bars and snacks. If they didn’t make snacks and junk food then I would be lost. I wake up in the morning eating honey buns.”

We’re not necessarily fond of this quote because it provides the revelation that Irons apparently eats nothing other than pure sugar (though we do find that fact amusing). Mainly, the line we love here is, “I wake up in the morning eating honey buns,” because it gives you a visual of Irons emerging from a deep sleep, still underneath the covers, eyes still halfway closed, eating honey buns. As if his first conscious moment of every day is the third bite of a glazed pastry.

Which, come to think of it, would not be such an awful way to wake up.

On the subject of what he’d do if he won the lottery, Irons quipped,

“I would buy a huge house. When you are young you idolize people and they have big, huge houses. They have these big houses with all these different rooms. They are so nice and lovely and they are somewhere that you can go and relax and you can have a big bed like Shaquille O’Neal. Shaquille O’Neal has a 30-foot bed. Who has a 30-foot bed in their house? Just imagine having something like that and relaxing and just saying I’m home. And you can have a lot of go-carts out in front of your house to ride in.”

Our first impulse here is to make some kind of joke about go-carts, but we’re going to have to ignore it because… Shaq has a 30-foot bed? Really? We were not aware of this. Sounds like something Irons might have learned on an episode of MTV Cribs. Now we wish we’d seen it. Do you suppose that it’s a king sized bed that’s 30 feet long from head to toe? Or is it a standard length bed that’s actually 30 feet across? That would actually make more sense, because then you could roll around a whole lot side-to-side and never fall off the bed, which would be cool for… umm… sleeping.

When asked which teammate he would bring with him on a deserted island, Irons responded that he’d take Tre Smith, because “he is the most unique person ever. He thinks of the most amazing things.” One of the things that Smith thought up:

“‘What if a team was on the 50-yard line and they had to kick a field goal to win the game and you had somebody like Carl Stewart who has a 42-inch vertical? If the team kicks the ball and they are barely going to make it and it is just going to graze inside the goalpost and you have Carl jump up and block it before it gets there, would that be OK? And would they count that?’”

We wanted to make a joke here, but this is actually kind of an interesting scenario.

When the interviewer (who really should be up for the Pulitzer even though he/she asked some of the most basic questions ever) inquired about Irons’ best talent other than football, he said,

“Drawing. I like to draw, if you consider that a talent. I like to disguise myself as other people, too. I call that a talent. I like telling people that I am somebody else. I tell people that I play water polo and if they ask me what position I play I tell them right water. I don’t even know if that is a position but I tell them that I play right water.”

God, we like so many things about this quote it’s difficult to know where to start. First of all, “I like to draw, if you consider that a talent.” Doesn’t everyone pretty much consider drawing a talent?

Also, “right water” is beyond brilliant. Beyond.

But the best thing about this passage is that he says “I like to disguise myself as other people,” but then goes on to talk about how he tells people he’s a water polo player.

As best we can tell, this isn’t really an example of a “disguise” so much as it’s an example of a blatant, bold-faced lie. And while we can’t outright condone the use of lying as a source of entertainment, we do kind of like the notion of referring to the act of lying as “disguising yourself as other people.”

In sum, thank you Kenny Irons for taking the time to do this interview. It’s almost enough to inspire us to awaken from our college football-induced slumber and check in on a few Auburn games next season… except that we just realized that Kenny Irons was a senior this past year and has now graduated.

So instead, we’ve got another tribute planned to honor Mr. Irons and this outstanding interview:

We’re going to attempt to wake up tomorrow morning eating honey buns.

April 11, 2007

This Slumber Party is Adjourned

Please forgive the delay in getting to this topic, because we’ve been meaning to weight in on it for days, ever since it surfaced as a national story that has sparked debate and controversy all across the landscape of Planet Sport.

And no, we are not alluding to the insensitive remarks recently spewed by radio host Don Imus.

The topic we want to talk about is the advertisement that features Blue Jays’ DH Frank Thomas getting into a pillow fight with two young boys.

In the original version of the ad, Big Frank walks into the bedroom of two boys who are supposed to be his sons. Upon spotting the two youths standing on the bed clubbing away at one another with pillows, Thomas informs them that they’re supposed to be in bed, which prompts the larger of the two to take a retaliatory swing at Frank with his pillow.

After the pillow hits him with a dull thud and clearly doesn’t even cause him to flinch, The Big Hurt responds, “Oh yeah?”, grabbing the pillow from the boy’s hand and blasting him in the chest with it, sending him soaring off the bed onto the floor as feathers fly everywhere.

We’re not sure, but we think this is meant to be an analogy for Frank Thomas’ prodigious home run power – i.e., if he can launch a kid four feet, just think how far he can hit a baseball. (Admittedly not the most hilarious premise, but it’s an entertaining 30 seconds nonetheless.)

However, authorities from the Canadian Tightwad Association for the De-interestingification of Television have deemed that the original ad sent the wrong message, and in the revised version (which we cannot find online but frankly would prefer not to watch anyways), Frank still bludgeons the child with the pillow but he doesn’t go flying off the bed.

And this updated message makes perfect sense – namely, that it’s okay for 6-5, 275-pound men to hit kids with pillows as hard as they possibly can as a means of getting them to go to sleep, so long as the attack does not knock the child off the bed. If it drills him in the head, giving him a brutal headache, that's fine. Just keep him on the bed.

We’re actually in the process of putting the finishing touches on our own personal remix of the ad in the OCC editing chamber. In the newest version, the sheer force of Frank Thomas’ pillow swing decapitates the child and sends his severed head soaring out the window, only to land 410 feet later on the far side of the backyard fence.

In our esteemed opinion, this version is far more baseball appropriate.

April 10, 2007

Notes from The Ted

We had the rare good fortune of attending a pair of games at Atlanta’s own Turner Field – a.k.a. “The Ted” – this past weekend as the Braves took on the Mets. Here’s what we observed on our first visit to ATL’s house of baseball in many moons:

1) The Braves (5-1) are not a joke. That’s right – entering Monday’s games, Los Bravos had the best record in all of baseball, and Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones haven’t even started hitting yet. This bodes well.

What also bodes well is that the Braves’ bullpen is absolutely filthy. The wildly unpredictable Mike Gonzalez comes in and creates a jam for himself (which he subsequently wriggles out of) in the 7th, Rafael Soriano – who looks like he might strangle a clubhouse attendant if he doesn’t get three consecutive outs – handles the eighth, and Bob Wickman – the trucker’s trucker; absolutely a perfect fit to close in Atlanta – waddles in for the 9th. It’s truly a beautiful thing to behold, and only mildly disconcerting is the fact that all three of them have histories of arm problems and that Bobby Cox is already completely addicted to using them.

2) Atlanta scalpers are a joke. Both games (Friday and Sunday) our entourage arrived approximately one inning late without tickets and were able to secure incredibly cheap seats with very little haggling, primarily because…

3) Atlanta ushers are a joke. Which is to say, it’s incredibly easy to wander into Turner Field with any old ticket and proceed to make your way directly behind the dugout, which we were able to do both games. Although we were asked to move on a couple of occasions, which always strikes us as rather ridiculous, especially when the stadium isn’t full. Why not let us second-class citizens storm the front rows with impunity if there are some prime empty seats here and there?

Thankfully, the stickler usher was the exception to the rule, and most of them happily turned the other way (or weren’t even guarding the aisle in the first place). This can’t really help the ticket scalpers’ cause, because any intelligent fan knows that it’s completely unnecessary to spend more than five dollars on a ticket to get in when he knows that he can maneuver to any seat he pleases.

And occasionally, it’s completely unnecessary to spend a single penny on a ticket, because…

4) Southern hospitality actually does exist. On Sunday, we were able to undercut the scalpers one degree further when, during the negotiations – which had us on the verge of talking the scalper down from his already low asking price of 10 dollars total for two tickets – a random individual who had clearly been out drinking all night and confessed that he had proceeded to get sauced at Easter brunch told us that he had two extra tickets that he would give to us for no price.

All he asked in return – other than a few random high fives – was that we attend his party on Tuesday night, where he told us there would be free bowling at an upscale Atlanta establishment.

The best thing about this encounter was that under different circumstances we’re pretty sure we might have wanted to slug this pseudo-hipster in the gut, but here – walking underneath a bridged-over portion of I-75/85 – we were exchanging banter, tickets (and the aforementioned high fives) like old friends.

And now that we’re fresh out of clever segues, we’ll simply say…

5) If you’ve never had them before, you really need to try boiled peanuts. Boiled peanuts, for those not in the know, are peanuts that have been boiled. And if done properly, they’re outrageously delicious. We’d advise purchasing them from Maria, who sets up shop about a block down from that building that looks kind of like a church on Ralph David Abernathy. Five dollars will get you two bags, and before you know it you’ll be sitting in your seat with your shoes buried in a pile of moist peanut shells.

Now does that not sound like bliss?

And the only negative thing we have to say from what was otherwise an outstanding weekend of baseball (and for the record, it actually pains us greatly to admit this, but it was too noticeable to ignore):

6) Atlanta fans really are kind of disappointing.

But before you go buck wild on your pre-packaged rant about how terrible Atlanta fans are even though you’ve probably never attended a game at Turner Field in your life, slow down for a second and get this straight:

Their in-stadium behavior may be disappointing, but don’t think for a second that Braves fans are dispassionate. Wander around Atlanta and just about all the people you encounter – persons of all ages, heights, shoe sizes and hair colors – are preoccupied with the well being of the hometown baseball team.

Along those lines, we’ll never forget that moment back in late 1991 when our elderly piano teacher (may she rest in peace) – a person who you’d think wouldn’t even own a television set, let alone understand the concept of bearing down with runners on base – went on a long dissertation about what an outstanding Braves team we’d had that year. (She then proceeded to make us play some horrendous piece of classical music that we had not practiced once, let alone even glanced at, during the entire week that had elapsed since our last lesson.)

So it’s not that Braves fans don’t care; it’s just that when they attend a game, they’re incredibly quiet. And to some of you, being quiet probably equates to being dispassionate, and there we confess that you sort of have a point. But at the same time, you’re also sort of wrong. And that’s just something you’ll have to take our word on.

Either way, we’ll admit that the silence in the crowd can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you know that there are tens of thousands of people in the stands who actually do care. There were multiple points in the game when we were rather certain that if we stood up and screamed as loudly as we could, we most likely could have gotten center fielder Andruw Jones’ attention from the first base line (were he not so blatantly hung over from the night before).

And it is true that the times we did scream, we felt certain that at least one individual in our section who was intently watching the game wanted to turn around and slug us in the gut for being so obnoxious.

Of course, we were reluctant to be too confrontational in that situation, because as we sat there on a Sunday afternoon with a cold bottle of… umm… soda, in sun-drenched seats that did not remotely correspond with our ticket, as a stack of boiled peanuts piled higher atop our shoes with each passing minute, we were more or less in something resembling baseball heaven.

April 09, 2007

Uno Momento s'il Vouz Plait


A most sincere apology for the lack of a new post thus far on this fine Monday. We spent the past 18 hours attempting to get bailed out of an Atlanta-area jail following our participation in riots outside Turner Field in the wake of the Braves taking two out of three from the Mets this weekend.

Actually, the above paragraph is laden with fallacies: In reality there were no riots, and we were not in jail, but we are still recovering from a day at The Ted, so kindly stand by and sit tight and we'll be back in business very shortly.

Thank you and good day.

April 05, 2007

Have You Seen This Man's Carrier Pigeon?

By now, you’ve probably heard the rather disappointing news that Gilbert Arenas is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

But have you heard the news that Jerry Colangelo of USA Basketball has been having major problems getting Gilbert on the phone? From a recent story on ESPN.com (special thanks to our associate AC for passing this along):

“Colangelo also said he wants to have a clear-the-air meeting with Gilbert Arenas, whose departure from the team during an exhibition tour of South Korea was less than amicable. Colangelo said he unsuccessfully tried to contact Arenas when he was in Washington last weekend, getting a message that Arenas' voice mailbox was full.”

This is of course noteworthy because as you may recall from the classic Esquire magazine piece on Arenas from last fall (a piece of journalism that regrettably appears to be no longer available online), whenever the Wizards point guard gets a new cell phone, he dials it up from a land line and leaves meaningless messages like “It’s me,” and “This is Gilbert” to fill up his voicemail so that no one can leave him messages.

Apparently Jerry Colangelo doesn’t read Esquire, or The Off-Color Commentator, or any other written publication that wrote about Arenas’ unusual phone habits. And apparently ESPN’s Chris Sheridan (who wrote the above-quoted story) is similarly in the dark, because there’s no mention of Arenas’ voice mail-flooding tactics in that article either.

Since there’s clearly tension between Colangelo and Arenas, and since we’d hate to see the disagreement carry on – or even worse, grow more severe – just because there’s a clear mechanical obstacle to Arenas even knowing that Colangelo called (namely, that he doesn’t want to know that anyone called), we’re going to intervene.

Mr. Colangelo, Gilbert isn’t going to return your call. Not now, not ever. For all intents and purposes, he does not have voicemail. How would you know this? Well, you wouldn’t. That just goes with the territory of dealing with someone who doesn’t exactly adhere to the established conventions of everyday interaction.

Though in Gilbert’s defense, voicemails really are kind of lame. Should you truly wish to speak to Arenas and clear the air, might we recommend a text message? It’s kind of the preferred way of communicating among people under the age of 30 these days. (It’s better because this way we don’t have to talk to one another.)

Anyhow, since this advice will clearly solve your little communication problem almost instantaneously, and furthermore will likely help forge a lasting friendship between yourself and Gilbert, you’re probably wondering what we want in return. And we appreciate you asking, but the truth of the matter is we actually don’t want a reward.

Instead, all we ask is that you bring us on board as a special consultant (at a very nominal fee). Because clearly, whoever you’ve got advising you doesn’t have the foggiest clue what’s going on.

The first thing we’re going to do is eliminate these “phone calls” you keep making. In fact, any phone that you have connected to a land line in your office will be promptly jettisoned out the window.

It’s time to embrace the future, Jerry Colangelo. The future is now.

April 04, 2007

Senile: Not Just a River in Egypt

Anyone watching ESPN’s broadcast of the Red Sox-Royals game Monday afternoon was treated to a remarkable display of broadcasting by Jon Miller during the top half of the 9th inning.

It started out when the conversation turned to KC pitcher Odalis Perez, who was scheduled to pitch the Royals’ second game of the season. At essentially the first mention of Perez’s name, Miller described Perez as the epitome of the Spanish left-hander, a phrase he didn't go on to explain in any way.

It must be noted that we can’t say that this is a 100% direct quote because our cable box completely messed its trousers as we were trying to DVR this segment of the game, but if it’s not 100% accurate, it’s very close to word-for-word.

In any case, the point is this: What the hell was Jon Miller talking about? And more importantly, how can any broadcaster feel justified saying something like this without even attempting to explain it? Did he really think this was self-explanatory, or made any sense whatsoever?

And for the record, we’re not even trying to focus on whether this was or wasn’t politically correct – first and foremost, we just want to know what in the blazes he was trying to say.

Shortly after this comment, the camera cut away to the Royals' dugout and showed three Royals standing together, at which point Miller said, There you see Perez in the middle of that group (once again, maybe not a direct quote but very close).

This made absolutely perfect sense, and it was helpful that Miller pointed out who we were looking at, since there were three guys pictured on the screen. The only problem of course was that it wasn’t so much Odalis Perez standing in the middle of the group, but rather, Octavio Dotel. Making matters worse (or perhaps better), Perez wasn't even in the camera shot.

Soon thereafter, the Red Sox pinch hit for J.D. Drew with Wily Mo Pena, and Miller went on to talk about how last year the Dodgers did everything they could to keep Drew rested, while all the while the camera was cutting away to J.D. Drew sitting on the bench talking to Terry Francona.

Then, a minute later, when Pena (who you’ll recall was hitting for Drew) struck out, Miller pointed out that Kansas City reliever Joel Peralta had now struck out four straight red sox – Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and… J.D. Drew.

Uh huh.

Listen, we’ll hand it to Miller – the man has an impressive set of pipes (if you’re into that sort of nauseatingly soothing, I-sound-like-your-scary-uncle way of talking). But just because you have a great voice doesn’t mean you get a free pass for making absolutely no sense.

We’re willing to chalk this up to a rusty opening day, but let it be known right here and now, we’re watching you, Jon Miller. For years you’ve hidden behind the wall of Joe Morgan’s senseless drivel, but now we’re beginning to believe that you too have either completely lost it, are on the verge of losing it or never really had it in the first place.

And if you don’t get it together soon, one of these days, we might be forced to storm the broadcast booth and stage our own bloodless coup, ousting you and Joe Morgan to broadcasting purgatory for the sake of preserving the already dwindling integrity of the baseball airwaves.

If it comes to that, we don’t expect you to cause a huge stir or put up much of a fight. That would require you to have some kind of clue as to what’s going on in the first place.

April 02, 2007

Natural Preservation

Anyone happen to catch ESPN’s oddly drawn out and overdone homage to The Natural following the Mets-Cardinals game Sunday night? Admittedly, we were watching the telecast at a venue that was not playing the audio, but that may have been for the better
at least that way we couldn't hear the movie scream.

Before we go any further, let it be known that we love The Natural. It’s without a doubt our favorite sports movie of all time. And one of the main reasons we love it is that it has quietly managed to keep its considerable clout over the course of uncountable viewings during the past two decades.

But the emphasis here is on quietly – the beauty of The Natural is that you might forget about it for months or a year or two years, and then when you finally watch it again, it still manages to blow you away.

It’s a tonic that needs to be administered in the proper doses, which is to say that there’s a limit to how many times consecutively anyone would want to see Roy Hobbs blasting out the lights with that epic home run. Yet ESPN seemed determined to show the same clip of his famed Wonderboy bat connecting in slow-mo with the baseball every 85 seconds. By the end of the show, that chill-inducing moment had undoubtedly and inevitably been cheapened.

And frankly, the whole viewing experience seemed to do nothing much more than undercut the cache of the movie’s most compelling images. Sure, it was meant to be a love fest and tribute to the film complete with testimonials from players (including Derrek Lee and Nick Swisher), but it felt more like a sycophantic gathering of nerds who came together to suckle at the film’s teat for two hours until any excitement or interest had completely dried up.

It’s tough to explain how we really feel about it, but let’s put it this way:

At one point fairly late in the show, when Swisher was on camera for about the fifth time saying who knows what about the movie, his long flowing locks looking like they’d just received a once-over from a bottle of Pert Plus and a hairdryer, the person sitting next to us – clearly as irritated as we were by the whole production even though the TV wasn’t making a sound – turned and said, “Nick Swisher’s a fuckin’ douche.”

And for some reason, that pretty much summed everything up.