Friday, June 22, 2007

Everybody's working for the Weekend.

Well, it's almost 5pm. It's Friday. It's payday. My life pretty much rules right now. And because of that, I wanted to conclude my work-week posting with a picture that has made me laugh out loud about 5 times this week. Do I have the worst sense of humor ever? Is my job really that boring? Will readers understand this vague reference to the late 70's/early 80s television show "Soap"? Probably not.

Enjoy the picture, enjoy the weekend.


Lingering Perspective: Ranting Reporter

In the event that you aren't hip to too many sports blogs besides Deadspin (hey, we've all been there), you may have missed the story about Colorado Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater's furious rant aimed at ESPN a couple days ago. It was picked up by a few big blogs like The Big Lead and AOL's Fanhouse with big assists to Avalanche blogs Dear Lord Stanley and Jibblescribbits. In case you missed it, here is my favorite excerpt:

Do you hear me, Ed Werder? Do you hear me, Rachel Nichols? Do you hear me, Chris Mortensen? Do you hear me, Marc Stein? Do you hear me, ESPN producer schmucks? You didn’t break JACK SQUAT. Some real journalist at a newspaper broke that story. You’re nothing more than a bunch of pathetic piggybackers, trying to fool that gullible sports audience out there - of which you have legions of the duped tuning in daily. Oh, and here’s a little shout out to guys like the Bill Simmonses of the world - guys who never did the real work of journalism but just love to sit from their on-high funnyman thrones and crack wise on the doings of those who could: Hey, I’m from New England - I AM YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC - and I’m even tired of your act. Thanks, Bill, for the 113th “column” on a Vegas trip last weekend. Hench, J-Bug, the line at McCarran, Seventh Circle of Hell, oh, it’s all so fresh and funny, my man. Yes it was, the first 23 times I read it.
Look out below!

I'm not going to comment too much on the actual content of Dater's rant, which has since been removed from the Denver Post's website, and this is for two reasons: 1- it's already been done (and done well) on the aforementioned sites; and 2- you all already know that I agree.
(If you want to see the full archived article, Dear Lord Stanley had the prescience to make a JPG archive of the initial rant before it was taken down here -- if you use Firefox, click the magnifying glass.)

What I really can't get down with are the people who feel the need to slam Dater without really understanding what he's getting at. If you surf to the above link to The Big Lead's take on that and check out the comments section, it'll take you all of five minutes to be up to your armpits in people saying "Why is this guy getting so mad? What a loser, everyone knows this is what ESPN does."

Can we just step back here and take in this whole entire scenario? A guy like Adrian Dater, who has been a sterling example of everything a beat writer should be for the past 11 years, lashes out at ESPN, who has been notorious in recent years for stealing beat writers' scoops and claiming them as their own (see: ESPN & Stein stealing David Aldridge's scoop on the Iverson to Denver trade), and people are making Dater the villain because "that's what ESPN does"?!? SERIOUSLY?

This is a pretty sad commentary on what the consumer base for sports media has become: condoning plagiarism because it's become the norm. I think I just decided that I'm not even necessarily upset with ESPN anymore; I'm pissed off at the people that watch ESPN and let them get away with this crap. People need to start holding the WWL more responsible for their nonsense before Norby and his merry band of "piggybackers" really have to worry about changing their ways.

Think about it this way: you're in college and plagiarized a paper for a history class. Your professor catches you and instead of punishing you, gives you an A and simply remarks to his colleagues, "that's what kids do!" Why on earth would you not plagiarize every freaking paper you handed in to that prof?

That's exactly what these people are doing with ESPN: not only are they letting them slide on the plagiarism, they're rewarding them with ratings. Why should they stop?

What ESPN does with their lead thievery is highly unethical and should not be tolerated.

What can you do, though? Write a blog, email the ombudsman, get the word out, write an op-ed piece in your city's newspaper, flood Lake Buena Vista and Bristol with letters and emails, convince someone you know with a Nielsen box to turn off ESPN in May and November, whatever... but let people know ESPN's unethical practices don't sit well with you. As much as I hate to sound like a cliche motivational speaker, you the viewer have to be the engine for change.

Otherwise hard-working ass-busting beat writers like Adrian Dater will be the enemy while ESPN's wire-skimming producers get all their credit/plaudits. And that is not right, sports fans; it's a damn shame. more...

We're not called "Team America" for nothing.

Apparently there was a soccer game in Chicago last night featuring Team America (World Police...Fuck Yeah!) and our least favorite step-sister, the Canadians. America won (fuck yeah, again!) by the final of 2-1, the soccer equivalent to a 48-35 NFL final, but not without a bit of drama at the end.

Canada thought it was a goal. The Americans said it was offside. Fortunately for the Americans, the linesman and referee agreed with them. Canada had a goal in the final minute of stoppage time waved off Thursday night, preserving the Americans' 2-1 victory and their spot in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
The Canadians seem to be undeniably pissed about the call. Out of Left Field has the best headline and the most worthless story about it, and they very well may be right. But seeing as I'm at work and can't watch youtube here, I can't say for certain if the call was blown or not. Personally I doubt it. I don't see how anyone can argue a call based on a rule that has it's own really long wikipedia page.

The Morning After on TSE - 6.22.2007

I'm a little late getting to this but apparently the NCAA doesn't like it so much when people blog during live NCAA events. In fact, people have been kicked out of events, like the money-drenched cashpot that is the College World Series for live blogging (just blogging, live...with the fifteen-year-old daughter of the dean). From writer Chris Ballard:

"On June 10 Brian Bennett, a reporter for The-Courier-Journal in Louisville, was tossed from the press box at an NCAA Super Regional game for live blogging. The NCAA said the reporter was infringing upon broadcast rights by providing description of the action. This contention begs to be mocked, for it's hard to imagine a fan preferring to read a hastily typed account of a baseball game rather than watch it. Especially considering the content of most live blogs."
Ballard makes a good point, because the contention does beg to be mocked. I've read live blogs and I've written live blogs and those usually come nowhere near any kind of game recap that the NCAA is afraid of. Most are just inside jokes, random sports references outside of the chosen event or just ramblings about pop-culture. And even then, some aren't written by Bill Simmons! But the NCAA owns these rights and they have the right to protect said rights (what?) so they kicked out the bloggers.

But they forgot the lesson that we all learned in Revenge of the Nerds: we can mobilize against an enemy and win. Today, the NCAA came down from it's high horse. Kind of.

"The NCAA eased its restrictions on blogging and said live updates from its
events are permitted as long as they are limited to scores and time

The issue arose last week after a reporter for The Courier-Journal of
Louisville, Ky., was ejected from an NCAA baseball tournament game for
submitting live Internet updates during play.

So kudos to the NCAA for letting bloggers indeed cover their events. So long as there is no opinion. Or commentary. Or thought. Or humans, really. They should just let semi-trained monkeys live-blog now.

I see what the NCAA's problem is and I think that, legally, they're making the best decision for their interests. But let's all get fucking serious for a second here. In no way does a live-blog do anything to take away from the game presentation. Seriously, it's not like a live-blog is giving just play-by-play of an event; that would be a boring live-blog, in my opinion. They are there for commentary's sake and the NCAA should embrace this. Bring the bloggers into the fold and then use them to your advantage. Blogs are the only way some people can get information (like, say, when you put the Ohio State Buckeyes on the Big 10 Network, which most people in Columbus DON'T EVEN GET). Plus, it'll get people to actually care about events like the College World Series, which is only interesting this year because of the Beavers/Eaters matchup and all the wonderful euphemisms thereto.

Get serious, NCAA, or the nerds will come and get you. more...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ok, I didn't want to, but now I'm forced to: Wisconsin sucks.

It seems that there was much interest taken in my criticism of Brett Beilema yesterday, so now this has to happen. First of all, I wasn't saying that what he and Wisconsin did to the indefensible IU football team was necessarily wrong. I personally thought it was, but some people (like the commenters) don't take any issue with it, and that's fine. There's a reason I'm a Sports Elitist and they're not. What I was really attempting to get across is the fact that right or wrong, when you run up the score on a fellow Big Ten team, it eventually will come back to bite you in the ass. Sometimes, it isn't even the team you embarrassed that exacts revenge. But this overwhelming backlash that I received from the post has caused me to unearth the inevitable truth: Wisconsin blows. And before you chastise me for not even having been there, I will say to you that i did spend a good portion of a summer there visiting a girl of mine who lived in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee. So I know what I'm talking about. That being said, he is why Wisconsin sucks:

1. Ok, you drink beer. We get it. So does the rest of America. I love it how there are all of these people from Madison that think the Miller Brewing Company is a domestic beer only in Wisconsin. The difference is that people outside the State of Wisconsin drink to get drunk and have a good time. It seems that people in Wisconsin drink for the sole purpose of getting fat and being unattractive. You go to the University of Wisconsin and you think you drink more than kids at Ohio State just because there is a brewery in your state? Think again. In fact, I would venture to say that you drink the least of any Big Ten school, because you guys are so middle of the road that the teams above you drink because they accomplish stuff, and teams below you drink because they suck something awful. I have been on campus for a gameday at Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame, and they all drink more than you.

2. You guys talk like dolts. Ever see Fargo? That includes you idiots, too. These idiosyncratic phrases like, "yaaaaa", "dontcha know?", "doya now?", and "oh geez" are just not cutting it. Speak properly. All other areas of the United States have accents, but they don't waste words. Take a look:

Phrase in Ohio: You need to buy some milk. (6 words)
Phrase in the deep South: Y'all need some milk. (4 or 5 words)

Phrase in Wisconsin: Yaaa, ya know you need some milk now, dontcha know? (10 words).

I think the two biggest problems is that the people who speak this way have no concept of the act of being in the now, and no confidence that what they have just said has resonated in conversation. An example:

Guy 1 in Ohio: Dude, my girlfriend cheated on me.

Guy 2 in Ohio: Whoa... what are you going to do?

Guy 1 in Wisconsin: Dude, my girlfriend cheated on me, dontcha know?

Guy 2 in Wisconsin: Whoa... what are you going to do now?

** This is not the "now" as in "now that she cheated on you, what are you going to do?" It's the now that ust takes up space and reminds these two people that they are talking in the present and not at the First Continential Congress.**

This way of speaking makes all of you sound like complete idiots. I will say however that it seems to be dying off as each generation passes. Thank the good lord.

3. Your biggest sports hero, maybe ever, was bailed out on the biggest stage by one of your favorite college football team's biggest rival.
That's right. Brett Favre has Desmond Howard to thank for his Super Bowl ring. I can't remember the last time I have seen one of the greatest pro football quarterbacks of all time be at the mercy of a washed-up Heisman winner. To put this in persepctive, this would be like Ron Dayne one day ending his career in Indianapolis and inexplicably gaining gaining 300 yards en route to a Super Bowl MVP while Peyton Manning falls asleep at the wheel. I use Ron Dayne as the example only because you people from Wisconsin are the only people who remember who he is.

4. I yield the remainder of my time to the junior senator from Michigan, Mr. Sheffield:

"Everything you asked for in Milwaukee you didn’t get—Ask for good weather, you don't get it. Ask for a good playing surface, you don't get it. Ask for a first-class organization, you don't get it."

Much thanks to 100% Injury Rate for digging up that gem.

I stand by what I write, and I hold grudges.

Just Another Day at The NBA Office

Last week GoCM and I were rapping on instant messenger about just how terrible we found the booth that ESPN/ABC had selected for the NBA Finals. He remarked to me that he would rather have Stanley, the grumpy guy from The Office, in the booth than either Mark Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy. I added that I'd rather have Kelly and Andy from The Office. If you don't understand the references yet, go to another blog. Just do yourself a favor and hit the "back" button on your browser. If you don't watch The Office on NBC, I don't think we can be friends.

Anyhow, this conversation got me on the track of thinking about which NBA national broadcast personalities were like which characters on The Office, and I found some really striking similarities.

Michael Scott -- Charles Barkley

The Chuckster is the main character of this show. If there is a reason that non-hardcore hoops fans will watch a regular season (or Eastern Conference playoff) game, it's Sir Charles at intermission. He says and does profoundly absurd things that he should probably get in trouble for but in the end you are hard-pressed to find a more entertaining person on any broadcast than Barkley.
Jim Halpert -- Mike Tirico

Let's face it: Tirico rules. It'd be difficult to find anyone with anything bad to say about him because he does such a great job. He has some idiosyncrasies that drive you crazy on occasion (ie, over-hyping certain plays, alleged sexual harassment) but it's never really enough to take away from how much you generally enjoy him. Moved to another branch (radio) during a time important to the season's storyline (conference finals & NBA finals) but arguably provided more entertainment there than people at his original office (ESPN/ABC).
Ryan Howard -- Mike Breen

Always manages to be pretty underrated despite being a central character. Started out as a 'temp' when he was a mid-season replacement for Al Michaels, went full-time in Fall '06 and by summer 2007 was at the top of the ABC/ESPN play-by-play ladder. Despite his meteoric rise, he's still fairly unremarkable and sometimes gets dragged down by the other people on the screen with him (see: Jackson, Mark).
Pam Beesly -- Steve Kerr

Great in every respect, Kerr brings it to every single game. Universally loved by the audience, he consistently adds to the broadcast whenever he is featured. Just as if Pam left The Office, the analysis during games aired by TNT will be taking a step back in 07-08... but, just as Office fans generally root for Pam with Jim, TNT viewers will be rooting for Kerr in Phoenix.
Dwight Schrute -- Craig Sager

Completely freaking bizarre in a 100% endearing manner. An odd-looking guy with goofy hair and goofy clothes, he is often the butt of jokes made by the booth. When he gets down to business, however, there are few who can match him at his game. Even though it often seems counter-intuitive, he is one of your favorites and manages to be consistently entertaining and informative.
Angela Martin -- Hubie Brown

Hubie is a total plain Jane. His analysis can be so vanilla that sometimes it's hard to notice him when he's working with a high-energy guy like Tirico (as he was on ESPN Radio during the Finals). That said, he adds something to every broadcast without--and this is important--taking away from the overall on-air product. Just like it's hard to not be amused on a weekly basis by Angela, think about the last time you got frustrated with Hubie Brown during an ESPN/ABC telecast. (In a note unrelated to The Office: how incredible is it, in an era full of infuriating analysts, to have a color guy like Hubie break down a game without distracting you too much with BS [see: Jackson, Mark]? Hubie is my dude.)
Oscar Martinez -- Doug Collins

Rarely seen, has one good exchange per show, could be gay.
Kevin Malone -- Ernie Johnson

E.J. is by far the most underrated cog in the TNT broadcast machine. Ernie will make you laugh every single time out while wrangling a pretty hefty ego across the table. And, seriously, Kevin is one of the two best characters on The Office, I don't care what anyone says.
Stanley Hudson -- Michael Wilbon

Old, grumpy, hilarious. You can almost see Wilbon getting more and more disillusioned with ESPN every broadcast he does -- except he doesn't get a Pretzel Day. Maybe one day the WWL will offer him an attractive buyout and he will jump on it like a hobo on a ham sandwich; maybe he will try and beat Stu Scott in a sack race to take over for Norby Williamson because he wouldn't want to work for any of the other idiots at ESPN. It's all plausible, really.
Phylllis Lapin -- Cheryl Miller

Reggie's sister is not fat, but she is a solid regular contributor. Always good for at least one insightful nugget per game.
Andy Bernard -- Jeff Van Gundy

Constantly seeking approval, a miserable suck-up and generally more than a little annoying, JVG almost single-handedly ruined the Finals for me (almost). And that's not counting the awful basketball or my team getting broomed. Look, just because Jeff was an NBA coach this year doesn't necessarily make him an insightful analyst, just like Andy's degree from Cornell doesn't necessarily make him a good (or even tolerable) coworker. Why is he a suck-up, you may ask? Let's go ask Gregg Popovich, who all but received Van Gundy's coaching resume (applying for an assistant job with the Spurs) over the air during the Finals.
Karen Filippelli -- Reggie Miller

You really weren't sure if you liked him when he first appeared on the scene a year ago but most people have come around to him now that he has a full season under his belt. He still has a pocket of haters amongst the audience but has integrated nicely with Stockton and actually has raised the value of that particular booth over the course of the season. His father also could have been a G.I..
Creed Bratton -- Dick Stockton

Stockton is old-school and not highly internet-savvy. And by old school, I mean old... but still enjoyable. I don't think Creed would know how to pronounce "Anderson Varejao," either. Plus, try to imagine if Dick Stockton tried to write a blog. Ye gods.
Kelly Kapoor -- Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson's most obvious traits as a broadcaster are being highly annoying and largely incomprehensible. Every five weeks or so he hits a home run, but the bad largely outweighs the good. You kind of hope he won't be around next season. Additionally, he was markedly better in his other recent prominent role (Knicks/Pacers PG) -- just as Mindy Kaling's character in The 40 Year Old Virgin (Amy) was much more tolerable.
Meredith Palmer -- Len Elmore

Really, he's just there. If Len Elmore didn't appear on another broadcast, would you really notice?
Toby Flenderson -- Jim Gray

Sometimes you wonder there's so much hatred for this guy, then he goes and does something that makes you really wonder about him. Does Game 2 of the 1999 World Series ring a bell to anyone else?
David Wallace -- Marv Albert

Marv is, as he has always been, the undisputed HMFIC. Like Wallace, Marv is cool as hell with no discernible flaws as a broadcaster. Additionally, he'd probably shoot hoops in his backyard with you.
Jan Levinson -- Stephen A. Smith

When you first heard his name he was a highly respectable and powerful journalist but as he became more and more prominent he slowly revealed himself to be a total lunatic. I wonder if Jan enjoys cheez-doodles...
Darryl Philbin -- Stuart Scott

Stu tries all the time to bring African-American slang to white America, but usually ends up teaching us nonsense. Probably inexplicably makes more than Barkley (Michael).
Roy Anderson -- Jon Barry

Total meathead douchebag with no redeeming value. You wouldn't mind spraying him with a can of mace.

Big Ben Roethlisberger: Ladies Man.

As a member of the Miami (OH) RedHawk family, I enjoy a good story of a former RedHawk as much as the next guy (though the whole Terry Hoeppner story was undeniably sad, in comparison). By far my favorite former RedHawk is Ben Roethlisberger, the man who led Miami to a 13-1 record and a #10 final AP ranking. Had he pulled his head out of his ass against Iowa that year maybe Miami would have busted through to the BCS before any other Mid-Major team. Personally I blame the announcing team of Pam Ward and Chris Spielman for that. Bygones, however.

Anyway, in Kissing Suzy Kolber's attempt to get one of their commenters into their fantasy football league (TSE has not been invited...yet) they have asked that would be participants submit a resume, of sorts. Their results have been varied and odd, but the best so far is a story about Big Ben Roethlisberger.

"My friend is in Vegas by the craps table when he runs into Ben Roethlisberger, a few other Steelers, and their entourage. (This is after Roethlisberger's rookie year before the motorcycle accident, so he's still being treated like the man.) My friend is completely shitfaced and stays to watch Roesthlisberger throw dice. Everybody is cheering Ben on like it's the Super Bowl until he craps out, at which point the table goes silent. My drunk friend then interjects 'Roethlisberger? More like... CRAPSlisberger!'

The silence continues until Roethlisberger finally says, 'You know what man, people have been kissing my ass all night, and I did crap out. Let's get a drink.' So my friend stays and raps with Roethlisberger for a few drinks, and the conversation turns to, as you would assume, stuffing sorority chicks at Miami, Ohio. Roethlisberger claimed that he would pick a sorority and then try to plow every single member. My friend then asked, "Even the fat ones?" To which Roethlisberger replied, 'It's a matter of principle.' "

I did not personally know about Ben's crusade to pound all the hot Miami sorority ass flooding the campus when I was a freshman and he was the QB. But I applaud his effort. I also wonder just how far he got. With some of the sororities at Miami, it's as easy as a few tequila shooters (or in some cases responding affirmatively to the question "wait, are you that quarterbacker guy?") but, as per Ben's final statement, he probably had to take his shirt's advice on a few of the sororities. But Kudos to him, nonetheless.

Though it does beg the question...did he ever go after this sorority? more...

The Enmity Spectrum of Mike & Mike

Over the past 24 hours or so, ESPN's Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic have been front and center in the sports broadcasting world. It started when USA Today reported yesterday that the Mikes had been tapped as the #2 Monday Night Football booth for next season along with Hall of Famer Mike Ditka and featuring the tasty-but-poorly-dressed Bonnie Bernstein on the sidelines.

This decision was, predictably, panned by pretty much every sports blog everywhere. At first I was annoyed by the decision but, really, it's not the worst thing ESPN could've done. It's not as if they decided to make a booth of Joe Buck, Joe Theismann and Rich Gannon with Tony Siragusa on the sidelines or anything (after I wrote that I realized, to my horror, that half of that booth has at one point existed on the same telecast). In the end it's only going to be one game and, granted it's Niners-Cardinals, it's not even going to be a game I'm going to watch, so I can't really get too upset. If I had to make one gripe about the whole thing it's that ESPN is using an idea they had with the AFL for a broadcast of a real football game. That's pretty lame.

I do, however, need to give the radio duo some credit here. They did the interminably hyped "Greeny Milking the Cow" segment this morning, and it was really funny. I honestly loved the concept of the sheltered metrosexual being forced to do some manual labor with farm animals and it made for pretty hilarious television.

In spite of their recent overexposure (AFL, Spelling Bee, MNF, etc), I personally believe Mike & Mike are two of the best that ESPN has got (along with Kornheiser and Wilbon) and I, to a large extent, don't mind their overexposure. Would you rather see more of Greenberg and Golic or more of Stuart Scott? Or more of John Kruk and Steve Phillips? John Clayton and Sean Salisbury? Precisely.

ESPN is, as I believe it's called, "pressing their advantage;" they're taking two personalities that aren't alienating people and giving them more face time. I know, it could be a move that turns the two into more of a polarizing combo, but I doubt it. Just like you haven't gotten sick of Wilbon in his expanded duties with the NBA, it just seems Greeny and Golic are middle-of-the-road enough to avoid becoming hated.

Now, as for the guy that follows them on ESPN Radio... more...

The Morning After on TSE - 6.21.2007

Normally when I wake up the first thing I do is turn on Sportscenter, just like the few million or so other guys on the planet. I don't like what Sportscenter has become since it's heyday about 5 years ago and it's a consensus that TSE doesn't like ESPN too much on the whole. But until a suitable replacement (read: Dan and Keith at 11, Kilby and Van Pelt in the morning on some other network; I'm thinking Versus) comes into our world, we're stuck with the WWL in the mornings.

Back on topic, for once. Today on Sportscenter Tim Kurkjian, one of the only "experts" on ESPN to whom I will actually listen (and we're talking about a network that counts Stephen A. Smith as his peer...) and he did a story about Sammy Sosa's 600th home run, which he hit last night against, ironically, the Cubs. (TEEPLE'S NOTE: Not irony; coincidence) The story was painted with imagery and celebration about Sammy Sosa's career. Kurkjian (I'm assuming he wrote and helped cut the story, but I could be wrong about that) compared him to the likes of Ruth and talked about how his power is almost unmatched in the last 10 years. Sure, Kurkjian mentioned Sosa's dismal season with the Orioles two years ago, but then mentioned Sosa had gone from a power-hitter, to a has-been and now to a power-hitting middle-of-the-order guy.

Good story, well-edited and presented but it lacked one tiny, insignificant and trivial part of Sosa's legacy.

He did steroids. He corked his bat. He went from being internationally loved to universally dismissed just like that. And the story didn't say a word about it.

Now I'm one of the proponents for people finding a way to accept the current state of baseball, steroids and all (and it sparked a rather huge discussion on but the story barely mentioned it. It didn't even mention the congressional hearing in 2005 and how Sosa went from bubbly and happy and English-speaking to your basic line-cook at McDonald's who can't understand a word of English the cashier is frantically trying to yell back at him.

My beef here isn't with Sammy Sosa because I think that anyone who can belt 600 home runs regardless of the situation deserves some credit. I feel the same way about Bonds and his race to 755. It is just too impressive to just throw out; I may be alone in this but that's my opinion. My problem lies with the WWL and their fluff piece about Sammy Sosa. How can you talk about someone's legacy without mentioning the ill parts to it? And the season with the Orioles doesn't count. Say what you want, but there are plenty of people who want to hear what Sammy Sosa had to say at the hearings, and not by way of a translator that he needed then but never before or after. That's just bad journalism.

Anyway, the day has begun, Jed and Paul actually started writing (!!) and I'm getting funny looks from my coworkers because I haven't done anything today. So it's back after it. Stay tuned for my Jhonny Peralta/Jared from Subway story later today (just kidding, Jed.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Barry Larkin is pissing me off

There is nothing quite like the College Baseball World Series. The kids on these teams play hard, and every year, there is a great story. This year is no different: the UC Irvine Anteaters, a school that didn't have a program in 2001 is doing their best "The Spaniard" impression and just... not... dying. They are currently playing the Oregon State Beavers, who are attempting to become the first back to back college baseball champions since LSU did it in 1996-97. The only problem is ESPN is entrusting the commentary in part to Barry Larkin, who just cannot stop talking about himself.

This afternoon during a UNC-Rice game, he literally talked two full innings about how he thought he was a "Bubble" Hall of Famer. While this is a viable debate for a given forum, I can guarantee you that the forum is NOT during the CWS, where the story should not be Barry Larkin, but the play on the field. This is the worst part of having athletes do color for games: they have this urge to describe things that happened to them, like they think we give a shit. The reason you are there is to use your expertise that you gathered being a ballplayer, and apply those timeless principles to today's game. Orel Hershiser, who is also on-site in Omaha, is doing a fantastic job of doing just that, and his career is certainly one that will end up in Cooperstown. He gets it though, he realizes that people aren't watching for him, but for what he has to say about the game.

It then hit me: this must be a Cincinnati thing. For 11 or so years, we have listened to great yarns spun by the one and only Joe Morgan about the Big Red Machine on Sunday Night Baseball, sometimes ruining Jon Miller's call, one of the great play by play men in the game today. Folks, there is a reason why a lot of the great radio voices that broadcast baseball hand-pick their color men: because in all honesty, the best thing a color guy can do 95% of the time is shut up. There is a reason why these greats-- Vin Scully, Jack Buck, Marty Brennaman-- choose to split innings with their color men, instead of having them traipse over their calls for 9 innings.

I can guarantee you that Mike Patrick is pulling his hair out in his hotel room in Omaha because he has to work with Larkin this week, where he thinks he is the story. And this is the guy that spends his Winters with Dick Vitale.


Around the Sports World (with no apologies to Cowherd's "spanning the globe" segment, which is a ripoff itself.)

It appears this week on TSE is evolving into one of those "Kopech's gonna do everything...again" weeks (my 6/9 posts this week back that up) so in my attempt to make that job as easy as possible let's see what's going on in this, our sports world.

Adam "Pacman" Jones has been formerly charged with two counts of felony coercion. Every sports website in existence has not only picked this up but most have found clever ways of making fun of it (for example...) but my take is pretty simple. Just as Paul mentioned earlier after Pacman was made a person of interest in a gun crime, I roll my eyes. At least Tank Johnson had the common courtesy to keep his guns and posse locked the hell up. And, I'm happy with this because someone needs to pay for paralyzing the bouncer involved. That's just awful.

Tom Hicks counts his money and, oh, yeah, says Juan "going, going gone" Gonzalez probably used steroids. From by way of the AP:

Hicks was responding to questions about a television interview in which he
was asked about decisions he regretted since owning the team, then mentioned the oft-injured outfielder and steroids. "Juan Gonzalez for $24 million after he came off steroids, probably, we just gave that money away," Hicks said in the interview, aired Sunday night on KTVT-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Hicks, of course, is part of the un-holy triumvirate of batshit nuts Dallas-area sports team owners (he owns the Dallas Stars hockey team, too, and is joined by Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks). Having met "Juan Gone" myself (at a Boston bar after a Texas/Sox game was rained out and he was having a nightcap with Pudge Rodriguez...true story) I cannot confirm nor deny these charges, but in this day and age, who can believe anything about steroids?

In other athlete-related-baby-daddy news, Jeff Gordon and wife (??) have baby girl. Ella Sofia Gordon was born this morning, tipping the scales at 7 lbs, 1 oz and 20 inches, putting her right between LeBron's second son and Tiger's new girl. Kind takes a bit of the weight out of my favorite NASCAR song, "Jeff Gordon's Gay" (no link, sorry) but Jeff Garcia is married to a Playboy Playmate, so there's that.

That'll just about do it. It's 5, which means I get to go home and start grilling and drinking. So I've got that going for me...which is nice. more...

Brett Bielema: Public Enemy Number One in Bloomington

If there is one thing that Justin Timberlake has taught us, it's that what goes around comes around. This is especially true in Big Ten football, where class is a prerequisite to coach in one of the best football conferences in the country. Or, at least it used to be. I cannot recall a time last season, outside of a Notre Dame loss, that I was more enraged as I was last year when the University of Wisconsin traveled to Indiana University to play the Hoosiers. This game marked the return of Terry Hoeppner to the IU sidelines, missing the first few games recovering from brain surgery. Now Wisco head coach Brett Bielema was in the midst of his first year taking over for Barry Alvarez as the Badgers' head man, and he was looking to make a name for himself. And boy, did he ever. He proceeded to hang 52 points on the Hoosiers in the first three quarters, before deciding to be merciful and calling off the dogs in the fourth quarter.

52 were the third most points scored by any Big Ten team against another conference foe, with Ohio State scoring 54 against Northwestern (another classless move on the part of Jim Tressel-- but his time was coming) and 63 that Minnesota scored on the Hoosiers (Glen Mason would get his as well, his days had been numbered for a while). Now, one might say the 63 is more egregious than the 52, but you would be wrong. Minnesota was a crappy team last year, who only won their homecoming game by one point over North Dakota State, and had a notorious reputation of giving up huge leads (Texas Tech came back from a bowl-record 31 in last year's Insight Bowl). By stark comparison, Wisconsin was a fantastic team, that overmatched Indiana on both sides of the ball. Oh, and again, this was Hoeppner's first game back on the sidelines.

When the bus pulls out of Bloomington on October 27th and heading for Camp Randall, the IU players should be playing with a gigantic chip on thier shoulder. Their Head Coach will not have an opportunity to avenge the embarassment that took place a year ago, but that doesn't mean his players cannot. Sure, IU will be overmatched going into the contest, and not to mention that they have to go to Wisconsin, still the hardest place to play in the Big Ten. But what they do have on thier side is Big Ten karma. You expected me to say Coach Hep in the sky, and they will have him, but what will be stronger is the fact that you cannot get away with embarassing another Big Ten team without it coming back to you. Especially a guy like Bielema, who inherited a great program and will NEVER have a problem recruiting as long as Alvarez is the AD. He should have known better, and he will eventually get his.

I'm not going to go as far to say that IU will take down the Badgers, but what I will say is that even though a lot of experts think Wisco will win the Big Ten this year, I will contend that a classless move last year will keep them from becoming the class of the conference this year. Wisconsin fans can only hope that some of the class that passed with Coach Hep is available for their head coach to pick up at the Big Ten offices.

The Morning After on TSE - 6.20.2007

Remembering Coach Hep...

I read an article this morning (I'll link to it) by SI's Stewart Mandel about the legacy left with the passing of Terry Hoeppner yesterday. In the article, Mandel reminds us that it was just 51 weeks, almost a year to the day, that former Miami RedHawk coach Randy Walker also suddenly passed away . I thought about, and the article brought this to light, how similar these two men were. Both were the most recent legends from the Cradle of Coaches at Miami and were undeniably successful in Oxford; Coach Walker started the drive to bring Miami back to importance, while Hep put Miami of Ohio on the map (literally because in 2003, the other Miami had to put a "(Fl)" next to their name...I always thought that was nice). And now, just three years removed from both coaches leaving the red bricks of Oxford for the greener pastures and opportunities of the Big 10, we are left wondering not what could have been for these men, but what was. Here is a smattering from Mandel's article, and other quotes from around the sports world.

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern University Head Football Coach
"It's just very sad. They were woven from the same wool, so to speak. Tremendous teachers, tremendous integrity, great passion for football. As far as football goes, the lives Coach Hep touched, it's very similar to everything people said last year about Coach Walk."

Lloyd Carr, University of Michigan Head Football Coach
"Terry Hoeppner was the embodiment of the very best qualities that are admirable in a coach. He was a man of integrity and passion; he loved his players and he loved the game. He represented the highest ideals of intercollegiate athletics. His legacy will endure but his presence will be greatly missed."

Ben Roethlisberger, former QB under Hep at Miami University
"He's like a father to me, I love him to death."

Barry Alvarez, University of Wisconsin Athletic Director
"He was going to make it work. It's all about the attitude of the guy that's leading it. If he mopes around, that's what's going to happen. If you go at it with a passion, the kids react to it, the fans react to it. He wasn't losing kids. Guys weren't getting disgruntled and leaving."

Brian Jonosch, Editor of the Indiana Daily Student
"In one year, just one year, he turned the attitude around here from 'Who cares,' to You know what, maybe there's a chance.' And that's all we could ask for having not visited a bowl game in more than a decade. It's a shame that we students won't get to be yelled at by Coach Hep any more. It's a shame that he won't be challenging us to stay up all night long in preparation for the Homecoming game. But more than anything, it's a shame that he will never get his due credit for changing an entire school's attitude toward football. I hope we make a bowl game this year. And when we do, I hope Terry Hoeppner gets his name sprawled really big across our new stadium."

Thanks for the memories, Coach. Love and Honor.

(other quotes taken from here and here)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Brady Quinn continues to amaze the world with his homoerotic charm...

I won't lie - I threadjacked this directly from, but I figured the more the world gets ahold of "journalism", the better. I'd say the writer of the article that appears therein lacked subtlety, but that doesn't do justice to good and decent people who, from time to time, lack subtlety. Put it this way: this article is just a few metaphors short of being a Letter to Penthouse...not that I've ever read one of those before.

This whole situation (the "Macho Man" pics, the ball-grabbing, this article) it makes me wonder when Quinn is going to pull a Jeff Garcia and snatch up the first Playmate of the Year he can find (sorry, Lindy).


Pacman Jones Can't Get Out of His Own Way

While doing my show yesterday morning, an emailer tipped me off about the story. About 10 minutes later, it showed up on Deadspin. 10 minutes after that, America rolled its collective eyes.

The story, as you may have heard, is that Adam "Pacman" Jones is wanted for questioning in connection with a shooting near an Atlanta-area strip club. As you may have heard, Pac and his boys allegedly got in an argument with three other guys at Club Blaze after 4am over a girl. One of Jones' pals threatened one of the other guys, and it all escalated to the point that Pacman's homies followed the other three in a couple cars and exchanged gunfire with them.

There wasn't one NFL fan anywhere who was even remotely surprised.

The critics of NFL Commish Roger Goodell's new player conduct policy often cite the fact that Pacman has not ever been charged with any crimes and yet he is about to serve a full year suspension for constantly being in trouble. For those folks, yesterday was just more grist for the mill. These folks may even have a point if not for the fact that one of the biggest driving forces behind the player conduct policy has been the NFL players themselves.

The fact of the matter is that the players in the league who are sick and tired of being associated with the Fred Smoots, the Chris Henrys and the Tank Johnsons of the world. And of course the man at the top of the NFL miscreant pyramid is Jones. The reason Pacman sits 'above' the others on the list is not that he's done anything technically illegal; it's the fact that his name, as a well-known NFL player, continues to appear in stories usually reserved for the crime beat in the Tennessean or the AJC or whatever.

And it's for this reason that Big Rog should tack on a couple games in the '08 season to Pac's suspension. Jones needs to learn to stop putting himself into these positions. Someone close to him has to force him to take a step back and really consider the consequences of the idiotic crap he does.

Far be it for me to tell anyone to not visit a strip club -- that would be like John Daly telling someone to stay away from beer. What I will to say is this: Pacman himself needs to consider the argument of the very people trying to defend him. That is to say, he keeps getting into trouble without actually being charged, without being the main troublemaker... it's always his posse!

Obviously it's a nettlesome issue when you have to deal with some of your closest friends getting you into trouble, but it's something that has to be done. The argument "you can't break off your homies, you've got to remember where you're from" just doesn't hold any water in this case. I'm not saying I understand the sentiment, especially if the ones that have been doing the shooting are some of Jones' oldest and dearest friends, I'm just saying that it can't be the going thought anymore.

Pacman Jones is a dynamic young talent in the NFL with almost infinite earning potential in the future, but he is constantly jeopardizing that future when he does dumb things like rolling with his boys to the rippers at 4am. He needs to realize that just because he dipped out before rounds were exchanged, it doesn't mean that he isn't responsible for what they do when they hop in their cars and go chasing after some dudes that they've got beef with. Because the headline the next day is not going to read "SOME GUYS SHOOT AT EACH OTHER IN DEKALB COUNTY;" it's going to read "PACMAN JONES SOUGHT FOR QUESTIONING IN STRIP CLUB SHOOTING."

If his inner circle keeps putting him into a position where he can't play in the NFL and he can't make an insanely good living by playing a game, he needs to re-examine his inner circle. Let me put it this way: if you're making 7 figures and one of your oldest and closest friends puts you into a position where you might not be able to work for a whole year, what would you do? Are you gonna "remember where you're from?"

That's what I thought. more...

Terry Hoeppner, Dead at the age of 59

Former Miami RedHawks head football coach Terry Hoeppner passed away this morning in a Bloomington, IN hospital of complications from brain cancer. He was 59. This is incredibly sad news for the whole college football world, especially Indiana, where he was just starting to turn that team around. It also hits close to home here at TSE, as Hoeppner coached through the wonderful 2003 season at Miami, with a 13-1 record, a MAC championship and a GMAC Bowl win over Louisville, all with Ben Roethlisberger taking snaps. The Indianapolis Star has the updating story.

As a Miami student, I am stunned by the sad news of the day and I wish nothing but the best to his family, the Indiana University football community and anyone lucky enough to meet, work with or see Hep coach. I will always remember Hep getting the Gatorade shower after beating Bowling Green for the MAC Championship and later after trampling Louisville in the GMAC Bowl. Those were great times for the program and for the Coach. The next year, when he announced that he was going to IU and handing the reigns to Shane Montgomery, he seemed very proud of not only what he accomplished at Miami, but also what was in store for him at IU.

As a sports fan, death's like this always confound me. I knew of Hep as a football coach whose family wore pads and got together every Saturday. But he had a life outside of Miami and IU. And for as difficult as this must be for the Indiana football community, it must be innumerably more difficult for Hep's real family, his friends and his colleagues. Hep's death transcends football in that way, and means so much more on the whole. Though I never met Coach Hoeppner, I know that the man touched many lives inside and out of football and one can only hope that those people remember Hep for all the good that he did, football-related or otherwise.

Again, TSE's thoughts and prayers are with the family today. more...

The Morning After on TSE - 6.19.2007

I get the feeling that athletes hate me. And why shouldn't they. I have a morbid problem with picking out losers. It's not that I root for bad teams, quite the contrary. But whomever it is I root for usually takes a nice ride down washout lane as soon as my allegiances are broadcast. Let's go ahead and line up the most recent victims from my horrid past of rooting for teams and then said rooting for them screwing said athletes out of, you know, winning or even showing up to win.

We start most recently with Brandon Watson, the Columbus Clipper who broke the 95-year old record for longest hitting streak in the International League. He was off to fame and fortune, and even garnered coverage from the likes of Dan Shanoff. Could he get to DiMaggio's record 61? The all-time minor league record of 69 (chuckles)?? Of course not. Record snapped, thanks.

Sean O'Effhimself. Seemed like a good pick for the Open: a disciplined player with a troubled past he's just now starting to block out. And what better way to crush the memories of his moron father by winning an Open on Father's Day? How about shooting 80 on day 2 and booking an early flight from Pittsburgh Int'l Airport? Cut you very much, Sean.

Jed will love this. The would-be greatest team in the history of college football played perfectly through 12 games. They beat two #2 teams, one on the road, and walked through the Big 11 with ease and grace, even winning the stud QB a Heisman Trophy. They were playing in a city where they were 3-0 in their last three games there, and standing in their way was the SEC champions, limping in with a loss and a few lucky wins. Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2006 National Runners Up, The Ohio State Buckeyes.

In a similar theme as above, the Georgetown Hoyas made their way through the regionals and through a tough North Carolina team and to the Final Four, where they met tOSU in the national semi-final. Apparently Jeff Green forgot the game was that night and G'town lost. I was sort of okay with it, as tOSU was headed to another national final. But, after I picked them on Teeple's show, that was all she wrote.

I should just shut the hell up, for the sake of every other fan in the world. Doubt it will happen, but it's nice to think about. Enjoy your days. more...