Friday, March 30, 2007

ESPN's Ultimate Fan Rankings: An ultimate crock of shit.

How well does ESPN understand the public's sentiment? (See above photo) I rest my case.

I wasn't prepared to get all riled up about ESPN's "Ultimate Standings" until I listened to sports talk radio this morning (gets me every time). ESPN released an "Ultimate Standings" that purport to rank every major sports team in order of how satisfied their fan base is with the organization. The standings stem from extensive polling (over 80,000 people were polled) of visitors to their website (a very diverse group) who were asked questions regarding how satisfied they were with such things as stadium promotions, ownership loyalty and fan accessibility, you know, stuff every fan cares about ("Well, I'm pretty satisfied with the direction of the Browns except for the fact that they don't offer "Browns bumper sticker night" and Charlie Frye's phone number is unlisted."). I could live with the subjective standards if that's all that this represented. A fan's "satisfaction" for his team is inherently subjective and that's fine. It wouldn't mean much to me, but at least I would understand what ESPN was trying to achieve. But then, in an effort to submarine the whole operation, ESPN decided to add a few objective catergories. They added cost of attending a game as well as some stat they referred to as "bang for the buck," which is calculated by dividing "revenues directly from fans" by wins in the past three years, or some such nonsense. Put more simply, a measure of how satisfied you should be with management's use of your money. So essentially there's a ton of data about how happy fans are with their teams and then there's other information mixed in about revenue use and ticket price that has nothing to do with how fans feel about their teams. Oh, and did I mention that different rankings are weighted differently but the weights are not explained (outside of a vague explanation about cost of attendance mattering 50% more than other rankings). Right, well through this ranking system, Red Sox fans are 26th most satisfied fan group for baseball teams out of 30 teams and the 88th most satisfied team in all of pro sports. In baseball, we Red Sox fans are more dissatisfied with our team than Marlins fans, Rockies fans, D-Rays fans, Nationals fans and Rangers fans. What the poll did on sports radio was confirm the national perception that Sox fans are self-loathing, unappreciative whiners. And while that may be the case to a degree, you can't tell me that Sox fans are less satisfied with their team than the Rangers or fucking D-Rays. Balderfuckingdash. The fact is that this ranking system is completely nonsensical. The categories polled about were perfectly reasonable measure of fan satisfaction. Things like loyalty to the fans, stadium experience, on-field effort, championships and championship expectations seem like fair measures of how satisfied you are with your team. The two additional objective categories obscure this statisfaction data, especially when given more fricking weight than the poll questions! Plus, the stadium experience already partly encapsulates cost of attendance. If it costs you a million dollars to go to a game, your experience will be worse than if you pay $10 and are able to move into the front row because no one's there. So why did ESPN add those categories? The reason is so teams like the Yanks, Sox & Cubs can be shown as having disproportionately "unsatisfied" fan bases despite the fact that all their games are sold out (ok, almost all of them). And since those fan bases are more vocal about their fandom than most other areas, this would spawn debate, emails and email forwarding and ultimately result in more website visits. Total BS. You can't tell me that Blue Jays fans are more satisfied with their piece of shit club than Yankees fans. I just don't believe it. Anyhoo, the system they have sucks and it could have been better if they'd just kept it to the subjective fan answer stuff without getting into cost of attendance and "bang for the buck." So here's what I did to solve this injustice: I took out the ticket costs and "bang for the buck" stat and put the list together based solely on fan answers the fan's gave. Next to each team is where they formerly resided on the list:

(7)White Sox
(26)Red Sox
(10)Blue Jays
(11)D Backs

To me, this seems like a more reasonable set of results. The Cards just won the whole thing, the Tigers were in the World Series and field a young and exciting team in a new stadium, the 'Stros underachieved to a degree but have shown a willingness to do whatever it takes to win and have a great stadium, and the Yanks, Sox and Cubs fall closer to where they should. This list accurately depicts how satisfied fans are with their favorite teams and ESPN had the necessary info to create this list until they f'd it up. Don't overthink it, ESPN. You were right the first time.

Hot Carl

I am officially starting the slow clap for the auspicious beginning to the Carl Pavano era.

I thought I'd have to wait for at least a month or so to breakout the "Hot Carl" title. And while the title doesn't really make a ton of sense, this story is so good I figured what the hell, Christmas came a little early this year. Carl Pavano is a fledgling blog writer's dream. Especially one who is not very fond of the Yankees. Today, Joe Torre is going to announce that Carl Pavano will take the mound for Yanks on Opening Day. Naturally, Pavano was likely to be a lead story in the New York papers because of this. He made it alright. In fact, he made the front page of today's New York Post, though it had very little to do with his matchup versus the D-Rays. Pavano made the Post because he cheated on his model girlfriend and she dumped him. This would be great in and of itself but his now ex GF takes him to task in the article and finishes it off with an outstanding dig at Carl's ability on the mound.
"I was the one that trained him and got him there all year," she told Steppin' Out's Chaunce Hayden.

"I stood by him and didn't work so I could help him out, and he cheats on me. Nice, right?"
Allemand told the mag Pavano has been a taker, and not enough of a giver.

"I've given up too much for him. Carl hasn't been there at all for me," she said. "The time when I needed Carl the most, he hasn't been there."

Obviously hurting, Allemand described their relationship as being "as bad as Carl's pitching!"


And how do you know it's really over? Well, she switched her Myspace page relationship status from "married" (though she wasn't) to "single" and took down all pictures of Carl. To Echo the Post's sentiment, "Ouch!"

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Friday Feature: So what the F?

Another Friday and another taste of some semihumorous observations from the week that was. If that's your thing, take a look:

1. Daniel Snyder
What the F are you doing, Daniel Snyder? Are you seriously considering trading up for Jamarcus Russell? Haven't these fans been through enough with your antics (especially my buddy Brendo whose fantasy draft always includes whichever halfwit the Skins line up under center out of pure loyalty)? You've got Jason Campbell, a first round draft pick from 2005 who started the last 7 games for the disgustingly wretched Skins and composed himself fairly well. Not only did he perform well, 10 tds and 6 Ints over those 7 games, but he seemingly gained the confidence of his notoriously overcautious coach, Joe Gibbs. Now, the Skins need a ton of help. In fact, one of their major sources of pain resides in the D-Line area. And wouldn't you know it, this year's D-Line crop is fairly deep. You've got a couple starting D-Tackles up front in Branch and Okoye (a 19 year-old phenom who started high school at 2 and a half years old, played his first D1 game at 16 and could have gone to Harvard) and perhaps the deepest DE crop ever with Gaines Adams leading the way and Anderson and Carriker not far behind (when Florida's Jarvis Moss is listed as the 4th best DE in the draft, you know it's fairly deep). There are 10 DEs in the top 50 players in this year's draft. Yet, for some reason known only to him, DSnydes wants to meet with Russell and perhaps trade up to grab him. Go right the fuck ahead, idiot. Here's what it would likely take to get the pick prior to the draft (based partly on the Rivers-Manning deal) - 2007 1st Round, 2008 1st Round, 2007 3rd Round, 2007/2008 late rounder or a player. And we all remember how well that worked out for the G-men. A lifetime of Eli Manning's poor play and unintended comedy will never make up for giving up all those picks. I'll go to my grave claiming that Eli Manning is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. My f'n grave! But the Skins comparison to SD in this potential deal doesn't stop there... Jason Campbell may not have been as highly regarded as Rivers coming into the league, but he's first roudner and he's been groomed EXACTLY the same way. He's got an old ball coach who has held him back for almost 2 years and utilizes a run-heavy offense known for being conservative in terms of downfield air attack. And now he's supposed to be getting the keys to the Jeep. They've got a solid TE and a good runner. What they don't have that San Diego does is tremendous defensive talent. They could get that this year in the first two rounds with ease. Take Okoye and work from there. That's enough about that. Let's just say that the Skins have been down this road before. They are not a player away and even if they were, that player NEEDS to be on the defensive side (if they don't take Okoye, Skins fans should boycott Tom Cruise).

(UPDATE: Just read KSK (I swear!) and the fine folks there beat me to the "Okoye needs to be a Skin" angle. Knowing that I don't have 1/100th their readership but that a few people may read both, I wanted to make sure it was known that I'm not trying to Mencia their material over there. Apparently I just agree that Snyder is nuts and Okoye should be a lock for them.)

2. Lebby (my nickname for Lebron James)
What the F, Lebby? You make this comment about Stephon Marbury's $15 shoes:

Before the game, James took a little shot at Marbury's $14.98 kicks, saying he couldn't imagine endorsing a sneaker that cheap.

"No, I don't think so," James said. "Me being with Nike, we hold our standards high."
really Lebby? You're going to rip a guy for producing affordable shoes that ANY kid on the street can wear and Starbury wears himself? That's a nice message from a guy who's building a 35,000sq. ft. home in lovely southern Cleveland. Starbury came back with a fairly clever statement of his own on the matter, "I'd rather own than be owned." I never side with Starbury on anything, but he's way in the right on this one. Lebby's gotta get his head out of his ass.

3. OJ Mayo
I'm working on a late weigh-in on the OJ Mayo situation (I have much to say and I'm sure you're on the edge of your collective seat), but what the F went on with the McDonald's All-American game OJ? You sucked. Don't get me wrong, I don't think this game sums up OJ Mayo in terms of his ability to be great, the kid can f'n play. I do think this is a sign of things to come with USC and the amount of chucking that will go on next year. And how about Jerryd Bayless DOMINATING him on defense. That kid OWNED Mayo in a game where OJ was was hellbent on getting to the rim and in the alternative, creating his shot. Bayless didn't give him an inch. To me, his show was much more impressive than Beasley's, though Beasley is a friggin stud. Lastly, I am REALLY looking forward to the Jonny Flynn era at 'Cuse. He is Scotty Reynolds light except he LOVES to dish.

4. Cingular
What the F is going on with the Cingular commercial from the "lost call" series. You know, the one where the girl is at her desk talking to her boss about the presentation she just completed? First, let me say that I love the commercial where the guy calls the girl he met at the bar the previous night. The conversation in that commercial is classic. And conversation in the commercial in question--the one where the girl is talking to her boss about being the "new sheriff in town"--is not in question. Funny conversation. But why the f are they both sitting at their desks and talking on their cell phones? Don't they have perfectly good land lines sitting right next to them? Do they have some weird phone service plan that makes it really expensive to make calls to extensions within your own company? Maybe the do need a new sheriff in town called a "consultant." Idiots.

5. Circuit City
How the F do you expect to get away with canning 3500 store employees in favor of new hires who you intend to pay a lower salary? Didn't Mr. Burns try this in a Simpson's episode only to be foiled by Lisa, Ralph and Sideshow Mel? If that episode is a harbinger of things to come, this is not going to end well.

6. Kevin Kernan & the New York Post
Were you f'n shitfaced when you made your baseball preview? This week, the Post put out its annual baseball preview spectacular and picked the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals to finish 5th (ahead of only the Astros) in the NL Central. FUCKING FIFTH! That's behind the Cincinnati Reds and PITTSBURGH FRICKIN PIRATES! I can't even think of anything to say I'm so stunned by the idiot who put this together (the aforemention Kernan). How is this guy gainfully employed? I really can't think of any justification for this. It is perhaps the least sensical prediction of all-time.

7. Iran
What the F, Iran? I'm a patient and peaceful man, but even I want to go over to your country and slap whatever leadership you have right in the scrotum. Can someone say coup?

8. Sanjaya - Joakim

What the F, parents of both of these guys? Is there any doubt that these two were separated at birth? If there is a higher power of any sort or if praying is worth anything, both of these guys will be crying on national television in the next 6 days. PLEASE! Though I must admit that I am really enjoying the email posts from angry American Idol lovers on If Sanjaya makes it past this week, I may make multiple votes in Sanjaya's favor the rest of the way just to see what will happen.

9. Radiohead
Why the F is it necessary for every music critic and every band member to universally recognize Radiohead's "Ok Computer" as the greatest rock album of our generation (and if you think I'm overstating it, just type in "'Ok Computer' greatest album ever" into google and see what you get)? Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy Radiohead and thought the album was pretty solid if not a bit strange, but I'm no rock critic. I just have never understood how music critics, who can never agree on anything, universally praise this effort. Why is that album anymore innovative, creative or a more impressive display of musical proficiency than the Rage albums of the era (that's the only band I could really think of on short notice. I'm not married to it so don't kill me for the choice, though I feel it is a fairly solid one. You could probably just insert any other good band who broke the mold in the 90's-00's like Creed, Nickelback, Limp Bizkit or Smashmouth... I kid, I kid....)? And why the F does everyone agree about this? I feel like the same people who love this album were praising "Catcher in the Rye" 50 years ago. That too is something that is very average (I actually hate the book) but is universally praised amongst the people responsible for deciding such things. These people need to be stopped. You want an album? Check out Extreme's "Three Sides To Every Story." It'll change your life.

10. Davis Cup
What the F is up with the Davis Cup? This may be the only time the Cup itself has ever been captured on film. It's like the Giant Squid of international sports competition trophies. When does the actual tournament start and when does it end? How long does it last? Is it like the Olympics, America's Cup, the Ryder Cup or Neptune's orbit (Fun Fact: Neptune completes its orbit around the Sun once every 164.8 years)? It seems like it is always going on and yet no one ever talks about it or cares who wins. U.S. participants perennially include Mardy Fish, a set of twins who play doubles (currently the Bryan brothers) and either Todd Martin or Richey Reneberg. I don't necessarily want clarification, I just want other people on the confusion bandwagon.

11. Headline writers
What the F, headline writers? With West Virginia Basketball coach John Beilein being courted by Michigan, how can the headline not be "Michigan Makes a Beilein for WVU Head Coach," or something to that effect. I'm really disappointed in you normally clever folks.

12. Mainstream Media
What the F, mainstream media? How did you miss the week's biggest story? I know this was a big week in the news with all the Anna Nicole Smith autopsy news, Karl Rove rapping, Nancy Pelosi blinking and Scott Weiland's wife being certifiably insane, but punting on this news items is inexcusable. This July 13-15th, in Pryor, Oklahoma, the greatest collection of has been 80's bands will meet in one location and absolutely blow the doors off. It's called Rock Fever Fest and if a three day music festival featuring the musical stylings of Poison, Warrant, Great White, Slaughter, Ratt, Firehouse, The Bullet Boys, and several others, doesn't get your blood flowing, you're welcome to move to Russia. They're looking for pulseless wastes of space like yourselves. And you, mainstream media, shame on you for not reporting this but instead focusing your attention on Pax, Shiloh and all the other members of the Jolie family band. Fortunately there are guys like me who spend way too much time writing shit like this to catch those pieces that may slip past the editorial teams. You can count your lucky stars folks.

That's all I got. Enjoy the weekend and hit me up at if you want to tell me how annoying you find me.

BREAKING NEWS - Maradona hospitalized after finishing the Old 96er

Soccer great requires medical attention after gaining 8.8lbs, putting his total weight at 508.8lbs.

Well this is a weird one. reports this morning that former cokehead and sometimes soccer great Diego Maradona was rushed to the hospital apparently due to excessive eating and cigar smoking. Um, ok.... I guess? If those activities were so dangerous as to require immediate medical treatment, bachelor parties would be the leading cause of death in America. Me thinks something else is going on here. Just take a gander at some of the quotes from Diego's doctor:
Maradona's doctor, Alfredo Cahe, said early Thursday that the former soccer player "wasn't in any danger," but was about 8.8 pounds over his usual weight and had been taken to the private clinic "against his will; he didn't want to go."
"It wasn't an imbalance in his blood circulation or with his heart, but was a product of an incoherent regimen of excessive eating, drinking and smoking," Cahe told reporters in the doorway of the Guemes clinic.
What? So let me get this straight, nothing was wrong with him but he still required medical treatment to deal with his "incoherent regimen?" Does that mean that the problem was the order in which he partook of this regimen? Was it that he smoked his 50 cigars before he ate 18 happy meals and the left side of the Denny's breakfast menu?

Other reports quote a spokesperson for Maradona nipping in the bud the reasonable presupposition that Diego was hitting the Yay-o again, stating that the hospitalization was not drug related. Sure, that makes sense. A former drug addict with depression is rushed to the hospital because he took too literally the phrase "all you can eat" at the Buenos Aires Ground Round. Of course. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pavano on Opening Day? You are probably gonna want to pencil his name in. Very light pencil. And you might wanna buy a really good eraser.

Lack of Wang will make you do some crazy things. Carl Pavano, Opening Day starter for the New York Yankees? It will be interesting to see how this is spun over the next couple of days. The self-proclaimed (or Damon-proclaimed) "Best Team" in the Major Leagues is starting the season out with a guy who once injured his vagina while crocheting booties for his cat "Mr. Fancy Pants"? Really? And you're comfortable with that Yankees fan? Last Spring, Pavano entered camp with a bad back, he then pulled his ass while fielding a grounder, then strained his shoulder in rehab and then messed up his elbow so bad in his rehab start at Trenton that it took him almost a full week to regain full use of his arm, which ultimately led to surgery and another wasted year. I could go on all day making semi-humorous comparisons to frequently injured athletes and other pop culture half-men. And while that would be a lot of fun for me, the real issue with Pavano is a little harder to find than his multiple scars, bruises and ruptured ligaments. What should really bother Yankees' fans is his deteriorating play when not injured. In fact, one could make the argument that Pavano's injuries have done him good service in terms of PR because they've obscured the fact that he's kinda shitty at pitching. Actually, he's more than kinda shitty. He's just plain shitty. Don't believe me? Read on.

Pavano has only pitched 17 times since joining the A.L. Because of this low start total, I think it fair to forget about Pavano's A.L. run related stats (ERA, home runs against, etc.). Chalk it up to getting used to a new league, new parks and new faces. The switch to the A.L. is never an easy transition for a pitcher. You can pretty much just add a run to a any former NL starter's ERA when they make the move to the A.L. because the A.L. substitutes DH's for pitchers and A.L. lineups value offense in the bottom of the order over solid defense and the ability to bunt a guy over in the N.L. lineup (Pavano's ERA bump 3.00 ERA in 2004 to 4.77 in 2005). That change is understandable and Pavano doesn't need to apologize for it. The real problem is found in two other statistics: WHIP and k/bb. These stats shouldn't vary quite so much with the switch. A mild increase in WHIP is probably forgiveable, but Pavano has lost control and lost his ability to miss bats. At 31 injury riddled years-old, this is likely not an aberration but a downdward spiral.

WHIP (for those who are still reading) stands for walks + hits per innings pitched. So if a pitcher gave up 6 hits and 3 walks over 9 innings, his WHIP would be 1.00. In a vacuum, WHIP doesn't really prove or disprove anything in terms of your win loss record or ERA, two stats that matter to the public eye. But what WHIP does indicate is a pitcher's tendency to put himself in danger. A higher WHIP has a twofold effect: 1. more baserunners lead to more opportunity for runs; 2. more baserunners mean more at-bats which means more pitches which inturn leads to earlier exits for pitchers. An average WHIP for a 2006 starting pitchers (both leagues) was around 1.38. Essentially, if the average start is 6 innings and change, an average pitcher will put somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 people on base either via walk or hit. Assuming that an average of 38% of all baserunners score (total number of runs / total number of walks + hits), you can do the math and figure that higher WHIP leads to more runs (in general. And yes, I understand the convoluted arguments against this generalization, stat guy). So where does Pavano fit in with all of this? Well, his WHIP the last two years before the Yanks picked him up was outstandaing. He was in the 1.1-1.25 range, which is top 20 stuff (top 10 in 2004). This was great news as Pavano was hitting his prime pitching age and these numbers were a significant improvement over his earlier years in which he was in the 1.6-1.7 range (Rick Ankiel range). In 2005, when Pavano was "healthy," he had a mild reversion to his earlier days and his WHIP rose to the 1.45 range. Still respectable but in the A.L. East, where patience and power are gospel, you are just asking for trouble by unnecessarily putting people on base, unless you're Wang who can induce the ground out like few others. Two years later, it seems Pavano, understandably, hasn't gotten back into any sort of groove. While Spring Training stats are rarely indicative of a player's performance over the course of the season, Pavano's WHIP this Spring is at a gaudy 1.75. If this is a guy coming off a decent year or was a crafty veteran, you could just write this off as a guy trying to mess with arm angles or release points or a new pitch or something, but Pavano, for obvious reasons, hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt. Plus, if this were the sole issue with Pavano this Spring (in terms of stats), it probably wouldn't be all that alarming. Instead, the problems related to higher WHIP are magnified because Pavano can't strike anyone out anymore. Pavano's K/BB ration has historically been 2.5:1 in favor of Ks. Never a pure K dynamo, he was effective in getting batters to strikeout averaging 130ks and only 50 walks over his two best years. Even in his bad years he never walked anyone. He averaged less than 2 walks per start. This Spring, Pavano has struck out 5 guys in 18+ innings while walking 8. Admitedly, Pavano's best K/BB ratio wasn't exactly spectacular and placed him just outside the top 100 of the league, but his decline this Spring is troubling. Not because it's necessarily indicative of his performance this season, but because historically pitcher K rates in Spring Training are HIGHER than their season averages. The reason, as Joe Morgan always says (when it suits him), pitchers are usually ahead of hitters until about mid-May. It also helps that about half the batters Pavano's facing in the Spring will end up barnstorming the midwest on school buses two months from now. If you can't strikeout these guys, you may have some trouble getting Tejada or Manny to chase your weak ass shit. And yet somehow, through all of this, Pavano has been anointed the Opening Day starter over an ailing Pettitte, an old Mussina, a rookie in Igawa and whoever else they intend to move from the bullpen (Henn, Karstens or Mr. Bean) into the starter's role. It's like they're setting him up to fail, which is fine by me.

Look, it's easy--and fun--for me to go on about Carl all day. He's an easy target. I just want to be clear that to view Carl Pavano purely as an unfortunate injury plagued mess is to miss the more important point: he's not that sweet when he's healthy. And when the vaunted Yankees take on the Scott Kazmir and the D-Rays in the home opener, Carl's gonna get his ass handed to him. And it won't be due to injury. It will be because he kinda sucks. Just thought you should know.

Florida v. UCLA. Man, this is gonna be ugly

EZ big fella. You've finally got some competition.

It's rare that you find a guy as talented as Joakim Noah who is so unfortunate in the looks department. He may be the ugliest player in college basketball and one of the top ten ugliest sports personalities over the last decade (other nominees include Rick Smits, The Unit, Mike Ricci, Nowitzki, Chyna, Rebecca Lobo, John Cheney and A-rod--he's ugly on the inside). He probably thought he'd run away with that honor. Well hold the phones because I think we've got a ballgame. Lorenzo Mata is going to give Joakim a run for his money. Lorenzo has the kind of ugly the camera hates. You can almost hear the producer screaming in the camera guy's ear when Lorenzo gets the ball, "CHANGE IT! MOVE IT! GET IT OFF OF HIM! FOR CHRIST'S SAKE! CAMERA 3 CAMERA 3! DO SOMETHING!" Mata isn't as well known so I'm not sure he'll get the respect he deserves. He's like the Indie flick going after the Oscar against Scorsese. He is probably not as technically sound in the ugly department and is a little rough around the edges, but the talent is there and if we can create enough groundswell, we could push Mata over the top.

The "Eddie Griffin" effect?

When I first read the headline "Eddie Griffin crashes rare Ferrari," I immediately thought, "Eddie Griffin is still alive?" As you may recall, the NBA's "Eddie Griffin" was arrested about a year ago for his role in an accident that is best summed up here:

Abed Hassuneh, who is the brother of the victim, said Griffin told him, "[T]hat he was masturbating himself going down that street. That's how the accident happened because he was not paying attention. He's paying attention to that video (porn on a dashboard tv) and all of a sudden he's shoveled somebody's car on the top of the sidewalk."
"Masturbating himself." That's adorable. Anyhoo, turns out it wasn't that Eddie Griffin. Instead it was the Eddie Griffin of "Undercover Brother" "fame," who--through a very liberal interpretation of the word--is considered a "comedian" in some circles. While it's ironic that both men were involved in car accidents while masturbating (just kidding undercover brother, I think), the real irony lies in the fact that Eddie Griffin the "actor" is pretty much the acting equivalent of Eddie Griffin the basketball player. Both have kind of kicked around the industry for awhile and both have consistently made horrible career choices that will eventually leave them blackballed from their respective industries. In ten years, it's likely they will flame out in equivalent manners. Eddie Griffin the "actor" will end up taking a role as a janitor in a racially charged sports movie while Eddie Griffin the former NBA player will end up taking a janitorial position and likely end up in prison for exposing himself to an elderly woman. What's in a name you say? How about fate.

Monday, March 26, 2007

You stay classy, San Diego

The Chicken has competition in the zany comedic escapades department. Giles and Maddux are a regular Laurel & Hardy, or Slovin and Allen.

The Major League Baseball clubhouse has historically been a hotbed of mediocre prankdom. It is, if not the birthplace, certainly the most frequented stage for such pranks as the shaving cream pie in the face, the hotfoot, the "gum on my pants" and the ol' "appearance in gay porn" (Ha! Always a gas that last one). Not content to light a teammate's feet on fire or simply take their gum colored balls out of the pants, Greg Maddux and Brian Giles are kicking it up a notch. The die was cast when Jerry Crasnick of reported Greg Maddux's veteran prank in the shower:
Maddux is a master of strategically timed nose picking, sidling up to an unsuspecting rookie in the shower and urinating on the kid's leg....
Not to be outdone (ballplayer nor writer), Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union Tribune reported (and Buster Olney blogged about) Brian Giles unique brand of comedic hijinks:
“Hey Greg, I've got one for you,” Brian Giles said to new Padres teammate Greg Maddux last month.
“Why was the mathematics book depressed?” Giles said.
After the 333-game winner pondered the question for a few seconds, Giles slowly delivered the punch line.
“Because it had a lot of problems inside.”

Giles laughed as if he were the second coming of Robin Williams, slapped Maddux in the left arm and walked away. Maddux, appearing perplexed, resumed answering questions from a reporter.
Giles returned a few second later, speaking slowly, like an athlete who took too many shots to the helmet. He stared into Maddux's bemused face.
“Greg, here's another one. What kind of waves are the really small ones in the ocean?”

“Micro waves.”

Giles giggled and walked back to his dressing stall. A trace of a grin appeared on Maddux's face. Then Maddux resumed the interview.
Giles returned in about 30 seconds – naked – and said, “Greg, what kind of language does a porcupine use?
“Spine language.”

Maddux belly-laughed. Giles roared and, now content, the right fielder made a triumphant return to his clubhouse stall. “I guess it's funnier when he tells the joke without wearing any clothes,” Maddux said.
“Guys do a good job of checking their egos when they walk through the doorway here,” said closer Trevor Hoffman. “A guy like Brian keeps people loose.”
Loose indeed, Trev. I have to admit, I had to read this about 10 times before I really got what was supposed to be so funny about this. And I'm not entirely sure I still get it. But that's not important. What's more important is that the Pads, and the writers who cover them, seem to have an open door policy about the high comedy usually reserved solely for the eyes of clubhouse attendants and the donut eaters who cover the team. I'm not saying that I expect too many more stories about Padres related clubhouse pranks to surface after the actual games begin. I'm merely pointing out that that it's not even April and we've already gotten a pee story and a nude knock knock joke story, and David Wells hasn't really gotten involved yet. Maybe this is where it ends, but man does this have potential.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dickie V - A Hall of Famer? You're GD right he is.

Now with life like sweat beads and spittle!

I've never really been a fan of Dick Vitale's. I probably wouldn't invite Dickie V over for dinner. If he was playing behind me solo on the golf course I'd let him play through before asking him to join my group. To be honest, I would prefer not to do anything that required me spending longer than 30 consecutive within a 50 yard radius of Dick Vitale. Unless it's my team on TV, I turn the channel when Dickie V calls a game. If he's calling a game I want to watch, I mute the game. In general, I am really unanamored with Dickie V's brand of manufactured enthusiasm and overkill. As an analyst, I find him to be no better than any barstool prophet who only watches one conference all year (THE ACC BABY! WAKE FOREST & NC STATE COULD TAKE GEORGETOWN AND PITT TO SCHOOL BABY!). He's NEVER critical of anyone (except Jim Boeheim) and I'm convinced his sole source of credibility is his emphatic ending to each and every sentence. He's a firm believer of the credo: he who laughs loudest laughs longest (yes, I know I have it reversed. That's why it's so clever.). In fact, I would argue he's one of the worst basketball commentators of all-time. Clearly I don't get Dick Vitale, nor do I truly have a grasp on his appeal. What I do have a grasp on is the FACT that Dick Vitale has contibuted more to College Basketball over the last 28 years than ANYONE who has either played or coached it and it is because of that contribuation that it would be criminal to hold him out of the Basketball Hall of Fame when the names are announced on April 2nd. And after reading Gregg Doyel's absolute hatchet job on Vitale (sorry if the link sucks and you can't access the article. is probably the worst managed sports site on the interweb with some of the best features. It's a shame), I felt compelled to write a little ditty in support of a man I've spent so many hours--and beers--berating.

Here are some fun facts about Vitale: Member of the broadcast team for ESPN's first college basketball game; record as Head Coach at University of Detroit was 78-30; on the board of two philanthropic organizations, created 5 scholarships for Sarasota youths and sponsors more than a dozen other scholarship funds; loves Mike Krzyzewski; appeared on an episode of the Cosby Show; received more than a gazillion awards and honorary degrees and shit; loves Mike Krzyzewski; is an intregral part of the Jock Jams music empire; blind in his left eye; his Hooters commercials are some of the most awkward moments ever collected on camera; his Digiorno pizza commercials are 30 seconds of pain in my life that I will never be able to recapture; and he loves Mike Krzyzewski. So he's done quite a bit with his life. But why does any of this make him qualified for the basketball hall of fame? It doesn't. Those things, while admirable, shouldn't even come into play. Instead, you need to look beyond the numbers and accolades and look at what the statistics and awards don't capture. Dick Vitale is college basketball. He's college basketball in October when ESPN prepares its first season preview show and Midnight Madness when Dick's voice is fresh and renewed from his 5 month hiatus from the spotlight. He's college basketball at speaking engagements for camps across country whether his audience is a 4 year-old or a 40 year-old. He is college basketball in Canton, NY, Canton, OH, Canton, China, Canton, Chile (why not?). He is college basketball's most identifiable figure. More so than Bobby Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino or Joakim Noah's disgusting grillpiece. He's arguably the most recognizable college sports personality ever. Right up there with Bear Bryant or John Wooden or Quint Kessenich. In all of sports, he's one of the most identifiable representatives of his sport. Try and think of a person responsible for promoting a sport who is more immediately identifiable than Dick Vitale. You probably only get out two or three names like Tiger Woods, Muhammed Ali or Jordan (or Gretzky if Hockey were relevant) before you start stretching to names like Agassi, Aaron, Berra, Hogan (Hulk) & Fuzzy (Zoeller is spokesperson for the LRCPL or Litigious Racist Crazy Person League). The difference with Vitale is that he not only accepts the responsibility of spokesperson, he embraces it and has taken it to a level almost unmatched by any other sports-related representative. Even people that don't know anything about sports would recognize Vitale and know what he stands for before they would be able to pick out a similarly integral representative of another sport. His life is dedicated to the sport and while I personally find him intolerable, his contribution to the game is undeniable. It is because of this contribution that he is more than worthy of recognition of a Hall of Fame induction. Another point in Vitale's favor that cannot be overlooked is that Gregg Doyel contends that he will "disown the damn thing (the Basketball Hall of Fame)" if Vitale is elected. Gregg Doyel out of basketball? This alone would be worth Vitale getting in.

Lastly, if Vitale is overlooked for Hall of Fame recognition during his time on Earth, I have a feeling that we'll look back on Vitale's contribution someday and posthumously offer him the recognition he deserved. There'll be a Dick Vitale related ESPY award, a sports broadcasting award in his name and someday when people of my generation are in charge of inducting folks into the Hall, he will get his due and his plaque will hang in its rightful place amongst the greats. And if that's the case, it would truly be a shame because I cannot think of anyone in ANY sport who would be more appreciative of taking his place in the Hall of Fame than Dick Vitale. And if and when Dickie V does get in, I'll be happy for him despite my personal feelings towards his verbal stylings. Yeah, I'll be smiling for you Dickie V, but no offense, I'll be muting your acceptance speech.