Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Smittblog's Off To Miami

It's hard to belive but "Nash Bridges" used to be the biggest bad ass on the planet.

I'm out til Monday. Heading to South Beach for some sun, fun and beverages. I'd like everyone who reads this to go back through all my older posts and add a hilarious comment. Something REALLY hilarious. More specifically, I'm looking for suggestions for the All-Mediocre Pitching squad. The mediocre pitching crop is very deep.

Nah, Michael Strahan's Not Gay, He Just Goes on Dates With Guys Who... Pay... For... It....

Much was made of a comment made by Michael Strahan's wife during their very public and fairly nasty divorce proceedings regarding the "alternative lifestyle" that Strahan led when he moved in with his friend Ian after Jean and Michael Strahan decided they could no longer co-habitate. The tabloids ran the story on the front and back page and Strahan had to defend himself tooth and nail about it. This was not the first time Strahan had been accused of being gay. I've been calling him gay since around 1996. But the story didn't really have legs and his soon to be ex-wife retracted her statement and blah blah blah. Through it all, I never lost faith in Strahan's predilection for the male form and external genitalia (sorry, that was a little much I know). Well, he came through again, though this time it was not his "fault". Last week at Buddha Bar, Michael Strahan was auctioned off for a "date" and the proceeds were to benefit the Institute for Civic Leadership, a nonprofit educational organization. The auction was pretty successful and Strahan's bid pulled in $10,000. I'm sure he and THE TWO DUDES who won the auction will have an awesome time (the title of the Post article is "Men For Mike"):

May 16, 2007 -- GIANTS defensive end Michael Strahan put himself on the charity auction block the other night at Buddha Bar's first anniversary. He hoped to get a date with a lady, but the male sports fans in the crowd weren't having it. Two guys outbid 13 gals, leaving Strahan to agree to take both men to dinner for the price of $10,000 each.
The Post spins this story as a couple of crazy Giants fans who were hellbent on hanging out with their hero so they outbid the 13 young lovelies in the room for a chance to meet him. I would disagree. Anyone who has that kind of scratch to spend on an auction can afford to meet Strahan at a charity golf event or get VIP passes to any Giant event featuring Strahan and meet him there. If you spend 10G's to meet Strahan and you're a guy, you either REALLY want to "meat" Strahan, or Strahan has paid you to win the auction and make it seem like he just got unlucky because he didn't want to have to spend a night with a member of the opposite sex and would rather be involved in a leather clad three-way sexcapade with two of his "boys." Either way, I was as right in 1996 as Jean Strahan was in her divorce proceedings.

What Kind of Stuff Does Justin Verlander Have?

They put this stuff on celery down in Southern Jersey.

I always find it funny when baseball players are asked to describe the opposing pitcher after they've spent 7-9 innings swinging at air. The answers usually involve discussions about "stuff" or "spotting" of fastballs and/or "bite" of the offspeed pitches. You usually don't get much good material from these guys. Not yesterday. Apparently Justin Verlander's stuff was so good the Red Sox tried to break it down in terms we can easily understand. Like comparing it to our favorite canned dairy product:
"It's an easy hard," Mirabelli said of Verlander. "You see Beckett out there. You know he's throwing hard. This guy is fairly smooth and the ball just jumps out of his hand."

Smooth but not that smooth, Lowell said.

"A.J. Burnett has it, too," he said. "Verlander, I wouldn't say it's so easy, because he jumps at you. A.J. kind of has that slow, 'too cool for school' motion, and then boom.

"Verlander, he's thrusting it with some force at you. He's not trying to lull you to sleep. So I wouldn't say it's easy cheese, but it's cheese. Who cares?"
So to break down Verlander's pitching style, he's got a smooth delivery that is comparable to someone thrusting easy cheese at you at close to 100mph. Ewwwwww K....

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mike Hopkins to Take Over at 'Cuse In About 15 Years or So

By the time Boeheim hangs 'em up, this style will be popular again. is is reporting that long-time assistant basketball coach, Mike Hopkins, will be named "successor" to Jim Boeheim if and when he chooses to retire at 'Cuse. That makes sense, I guess. For recruiting purposes it's always better to have continuity and familiarity as opposed to a frantic job search. I'm just not 100% sure why Mike Hopkins would agree to this. Boeheim isn't going to retire until he's 100. The Post-Standard wrote a piece about this possibility about 3 weeks ago and in that article Boeheim made it clear that he hasn't even considered retiring. He's only 62 years old and though he's been with the 'Cuse as a player or coach for 45 of those years, he is not the least bit tired of it. If he was going to leave, he probably would have when he had his twins a couple years ago so he could spend more time watching them grow up. He also doesn't really have any incentive to leave. He is past the point of moving on to the NBA or another program, the frickin Court is named after him and he will likely leave the game with the most victories ever and the worldwide representation as the greatest human on earth. The only way he leaves is for health reasons or if he loses all of his limbs (including his head) in a tragic Sea Doo accident (which I guess could be considered a health reason). Boeheim is a basketball junkie. He admits to staying up until 2am watching Pacific play San Diego St. on ESPN 7 and not because either team is on his schedule later in the year but because he LOVES college basketball. So it's not like he wakes up every morning and asks himself why he continues to do this. He can't see himself doing anything else. I mean, what else would he do? Jim Boeheim has been playing and coaching basketball for over 40 years straight; from the day he entered college until today. If he stopped coaching, what would he do with himself? I'm sorry Hopkins, I think you'll be a fine coach, but we may be flying around in Jetson-style spacecraft by the time you get that corner office.

He May Have Hands Like a Carny and Weep Like a Baby, But Jacoby Jones is The Type of Player You Want On Your Team

That's the rarely seen SIAC Offensive Player of The Year Trophy Ladies and Gents. And holding the trophy is Jacoby Jones wearing the even more rare blazer and ribbed t-shirt combo.

I love Wikipedia:
"The highly insular nature of carny society has fostered popular suspicions of inbreeding, supposedly manifested by a tendency towards small hands or thumbs."
As mentioned previously, there are several things that trouble me about the way in which players are evaluated and subsequently drafted by NFL teams. I've never really understood why chronic ne'er-do-wells like Mike Williams and Jerry Porter are selected ahead of guys with similar skill sets (similar in that these secondary players are big and can also run fast and jump high) despite the fact that these ne'er-do-wells have never tried hard in their entire lives because the game has come so easy to them. And then when they get to the NFL and they aren't coddled any longer and success requires a little more than just being a couple inches taller or a tenth of a second faster than everybody else, they fail because they don't have the discipline or drive to do what's required to become great. Not every great college player can have the discipline and drive of a guy like Larry Fitzgerald. Meanwhile you've got big, fast and strong guys from lesser schools who just want a shot. They're working out 3 times a day leading up to the draft just to have the chance to make a team. And when these guys get the chance to join a team, they stay after practice and take in every word and suggestion their position coach lays on them. Which brings me to my guy here, Jacoby Jones.

Jones played his college ball at Division II Lane College. And despite playing in the relative anonymity of D2 ball, he was invited to the East-West shrine game where he spent a week wowing the scouts with his 6'3" 210lb frame, sub 4.5 speed and ability to make tough catches before leading all receivers in the game with 4 receptions for 59 yards. Jones performance took on added significance after last season's top performer in the Shrine Game, Marques Colston, went on take offensive Rookie of The Year honors in the NFL last year. Despite this success, Jones was rated as a mid to late round pick and about the 15th-20th best receiver in the draft. The small school status was only one of the factors deflating Jones's draft status. He was also born with Carny hands ("They're complaining about my hand size," Jones said. "I have pretty small hands, I can't even palm a girls' basketball, but I can catch a football and that's all that should matter, right?"). So when he received the call from Texans GM Rick Smith, he can be forgiven if he was a little overwhelmed by the moment: "When I saw the 832 number come up when I opened my phone and when he said it was Mr. Smith, tears just started running out of my eyes. I just said, 'When do you want me there? I'm there." (When Jarrett got his call, his agent probably said, "We want first round money."). It's Jones's last statement that to me is why I would want a guy like Jones on my team. He still feels like he needs to prove himself. He's a third round pick and is almost guaranteed to make the team but he doesn't have that mindset. He's an underdog and will play like one probably for the bulk of his career. Not only is it endearing to the fans that the guy actually gives a shit, but it's a level of motivation and hunger that a player who's always been more talented than everyone else can't possibly understand or draw from. It is the absence of these relatively tangible qualities on the draft day cheat sheet that always leaves me scratching my head when 3 years down the road the more talented lazy player is cut because he's being outperformed by Wes Welker and the GM is just dumbfounded as to why his first round guy didn't pan out. Hunger and work ethic should be listed next to 40 time and vertical rather than be an throw-in quote from the guy's high school coach in an article written 4 weeks after the draft to fill copy.

Now Jacoby Jones may may never become great or even good because hard work and good technique can only take you so far, but if player is even close in terms of measurable skills, I'll take shots on 10 Jacoby Jones's before I take one Dwayne Jarrett.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Who's More Delusional: Packer Fans or Brett Favre?

I knew Packers fans were crazy but this really makes me laugh. Kansas Senator and Presidential hopeful (I guess that's what they're called) Sam Brownback was stumping in Packerland (I guess that's what that's called) and was trying to tie in some football parlance to give some context to a point he was making about the importance of families in our society. The only problem was that rather than play to the delusions of the pro-Pack crowd, he told the truth. Brownback said:

"This is fundamental blocking and tackling. This is your line in football." He followed that up with, "If you don't have a line, how many passes can Peyton Manning complete? Greatest quarterback, maybe, in NFL history."
Despite being a fairly true statement, that did not make the ribosomes very happy. Brownback, to his credit, realized this was not popular almost immediately and apologized to the crowd for using a non-Packer analogy. But here's my favorite part. When Brownback changed his analogy to include Favre, he wasn't really prepared for the response of the clearly batshit crazy Packer fans:
"Let's take Favre then," Brownback said. "The Packers are great. I'm sorry. How many passes does he complete without a line?"

"All of them!" more than one person yelled from the back of the audience.

"I'm not sure how I recover from this," Brownback told the crowd. "My point is we've got to rebuild the family. I'll get off this."
Two things about this: 1.) I'd LOVE to see how John Kerry would have responded if he had made this gaffe. His response would probably have been "Ok, bad example, let's take Eli McBrady then, he too is a great pitcher for the Wisconsin American Field Sport of Football Squadron." And 2.) I think Packers fans truly believe that Favre's offensive line is the only thing preventing him from completing every pass. And not because they need to improve, but because they get in his way. They need to be off the field. If Brett Favre just lined up with 10 wide receivers, he'd have 200 touchdowns a game. And apparently this delusion is contagious because now Brett Favre believes it...

Though he's apparently calmed down and stepped back from his trade demand, Brett Favre is clearly delusional about the Packers chances this year. Favre pretty much convinced himself that Randy Moss would be the difference between the Packers making and missing the playoffs. Favre couldn't be more wrong. The Packers are worse right now as an organization than the Lions (look at their rosters and don't give me their record last year, that was an aberration and a result of being in one of the worst divisions in NFL history). They have less young talent on either side of the ball than almost any team other than the Giants, absolutely ZERO playmakers on offense (unless you include Greg Jennings, but he's only as good as the guy throwing him the ball) and one of the worst defenses in the history of sport. They didn't pick up one impact player in the free agent market and while the NFC is weak and almost any team can step up and grab a 5th or 6th slot with good draft picks and savvy free agent moves, Green Bay was one of the few teams going into this offseason that had absolutely no chance of making the playoffs no matter what they did. They've got too many holes. This organization has been really poorly run for the last 3 years and some of that is Favre's fault. He's been holding them hostage with his fake retirement stuff so they haven't been able to rebuild like they should and have held onto aging former stars too long in the hopes of giving Favre his "one last run" at the title. So while I understand the nature of Favre's discontent (that he doesn't want to go out like this), he is nuts if he thinks Randy Moss could have been the difference between a playoff appearance and another season in the cellar. The Packers aren't one player away from anything. Actually, let me qualify that statement: The Packers are one player away from something. They are the retirement of Brett Favre away from becoming a viable organization and relevant again.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Bruce Campbell Is A Genius

This couldn't have less to do with sports, but the above video is hilarious on so many levels. In a stroke of genius, Old Spice recently grabbed Bruce Campbell to be the face of their new terrific ad campaign. Campbell is best known for his role in one of my personal favorite movies of all-time, Army of Darkness (the trailer of which is seen below). If you've seen the film, you already know of Campbell's penchant for comedic genius. If not, you need to see it. Though if you haven't seen the movie, the Old Spice ads do a decent job of capturing Campbell's subtle brand of comedy and gives a glimpse of the essence of what it is that makes Campbell frickin terrific. I look forward to more Campbell, and not in the way you might think.

Is Billy Beane David Copperfield?

Billy Beane's Jack Cust move makes the Copperfield Statue of Liberty stunt look like Grandpa pulling quarters from behind your ear.

I know Billy Beane is a genius and all, but this Jack Cust situation is out of control. Jack Cust hit another home run today, and this one won the game. Since Cust joined the A's he's played in 7 games. In those 7 games he's hit 6 home runs. That's Archi Cianfrocco territory. So how did Billy Beane know that trading for Cust for a player to be named later was going to be such a good idea? Well surely his prior history would indicate such potential.... except for the fact that it does not. In Cust's prior 70 games in the majors, he hit 5 home runs. So I guess his power numbers don't really tell the story. He must be a hot young prospect then that just hasn't had enough time in the majors, right? Well, he's 28 and has spent about a decade in the minors, so that's idea's out. But Beane loves OBP and other stats that Joe Morgan feels are irrelevant. Well, Cust's career OBP is .347 and was lower coming into the year and he strikes out almost 3 times as many times as he walks, so that's not that sweet. Everyone else thought that Cust was a lost cause. So how did Beane know just what Cust was capable of? How did he know he could resurrect him? What info did he have? I figured it out. I pulled back Coppefield's cape. He looked here and found this:
* Currently a member of the San Diego Padres
* Played MLB with Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles
* New Jersey Gatorade Player of The Year in 1997 and a 1st Team All American
* Chosen by the Star Ledger as a member of The All Century Baseball team starting nine
* Drafted in 1st Round by the Arizona Diamondbacks
* Jack is well know for his tremendous knowledge of hitting & an exceptional understanding of the strike zone, possessing one of the most prodigious swings in all of Pro ball
And who put together this objective and in depth scouting report? Well, that would be sometime New Jersey professional hitting instructor and full-time crazy father of Jack Cust, Jr., Jack Cust, Sr (and absolutely unbelievable site, by the way). Yup, it would seem that Billy Beane is using player dads for scouting, and it's working. If Beane was using this technique 15 years ago, Todd Marinovich would be hitting cleanup for the A's.