Saturday, March 31, 2007

Apathetic All-Stars

I recall, a few weeks earlier, when we had reached the regionals of the NCAA tournament, that if Florida and Ohio State ended up playing one another for yet another championship I would lose faith in humanity.

Despair 1, Humanity 0.

After watching the terrible end-of-game effort from Georgetown and UCLA sabotaging, for the second year in a row, a legitimate chance to beat, what I believe to be, an inferior team, left me sitting like a startled owl mumbling, "Ya Rly?" to myself over and over again.

And lo, a light from the heavens shone upon me and said, "Ya Srsly." Yes, we have EXACTLY the same final in basketball as we did in football. Does anyone else out there find that just the LEAST bit boring, if not suspicious? What are these two schools offering behind the scenes to potential recruits to get them to sign? What are the chances that this sort of matchup will ever happen again? Has it ever happened before? I'll admit, I'm so unenthused about the final matchup that I can't even bring myself to do a google search and find out. Someone else do it for me.

This has been the absolute worst NCAA tournament on record. Granted, I've only tasted oxygen for a quarter of a century myself, but there couldn't have been anything more boring than the highest seed in the regionals being, what, a 7? L-A-M-E.

Oh, and Mr. Noah? Cut your fricking hair. It looks like an Afro-Koosh doll threw up on your head.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


While scanning the details of the latest tilt between a couple of T&O's favorite teams, I ran across one of the first of many items we'll see a lot this year: "The Red Sox placed right-handers Matt Clement and Mike Timlin and left-hander Jon Lester on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 23." No, I don't mean to say anything about the durability of Mike Timlin (though I remember him being part of the Blue Jays' championship teams some 14-15 years ago) or Matt "more durable than Kerry Wood and Mark Prior" Clement, but rather about the amusing practice of placing players on the disabled list and getting around the 15-day restriction by claiming that you actually placed them on the list a week ago, you just, what, forgot to tell people? "Geez, guys, I don't know what to say. Bob, the guy who does the lists, well, let's just say we're all thinking of getting him a PDA for his birthday. Sorry, we'll try to be more organized in the future."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

They Fixed His Arms In The 2007 Version

Finally, an NFL trade to get excited about! Philly sends DT Darwin Walker and a draft pick to Buffalo for former Bengal Takeo Spikes and former Brown Kelly Holcomb, who don't need position designators for me to know what they play.

Holcomb, remember, challenged Tim Couch (in Cleveland) and then J.P. Losman (in Buffalo) for starting position at QB--just the kind of experienced backup the Eagles need behind Donovan McGlass. And Takeo Spikes is a Pro Bowl linebacker who will only improve the Eagles' already-good defense, assuming he's recovered from the Achilles injury (he said "When next year comes it'll be that much better. I look forward to next year, I really do.") and oddly dislocated arms he apparently sported a couple years ago. What I'm not sure about is how much the loss of Walker will hurt them, but I feel like the Eagles got the better of this one, and the number of times I can say that about a trade one of my teams was involved in is rare enough to warrant a posting.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Let's Have Us A Good Time

Gilbert Arenas has become this season one of the fan favorites in the NBA. If you want to know why, read this post. If you've ever wanted to know what a pro athlete thinks while playing, or how he reacts to the bizarre world of pro sports, read this post. If you hate Skip Bayless, read this post.

Gilbert is probably the first of many pro athletes to really embrace the internet, to reach out to his fans and the world at large and let them into his world. It helps that he's articulate, funny, and insightful, and that's a rare combination in or out of pro sports. For the last few years, I've wondered why more athletes don't keep a blog/journal. I don't because I can't imagine many people being interested in my life. But these people regularly perform in front of tens of thousands of people, who buy merchandise with their name on it and know more details of their career than they do the careers of close friends or family members. How can their private lives not be interesting to some people? I love reading awkward draft diaries with lines like "I went golfing a couple of times and saw some a bunch of movies. Daddy's Little Girls is a good one to check out." But Gilbert's blog is not just interesting, it's fun. And I think there have to be more funny, articulate, insightful athletes out there who are going to see his success and say, "hey, hang on, I can do that."

If Robert Smith were playing today, he would have a blog.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Please, Get All Up In Manny's Grill

Manny Ramirez is apparently selling his AMAZING grill on eBay. =] I don't know about you, but I've always wanted to purchase a $4,000 game-used grill from a future Hall of Famer. I do have some concerns before I put in my bid though: will it only half-cook my burgers? If I have a big barbecue coming up, can I be sure it won't arrive a week late? Will it still work in October? I can see it now: serving half-cooked hot dogs and burnt burgers to my friends, I will have no other defense than to say, "Eh, my grill is being my grill."

Monday, March 19, 2007

See, This Is Why Some Teams Don't Advance

You're supposed to stop the other team's player from getting to the basket, not give him a boost up! Oh, Winthrop. Your humanity was your undoing. Though I can see how it would be hard to resist plucky li'l Aaron Brooks. You just want something to go right for that guy, what with the Raiders trying desperately to draft his replacement.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Continuing a Proud Ivy League Tradition

Having two schools on my resume means I'm rarely left out when it comes to tournament time.

Having one of them be an Ivy League school and the other a mediocre Big Ten school means I'm rarely left in when it comes to the second round. (Penn last won a first round game in 1994, when both of my schools made it to the second round. Bliss!)

Down 13 at the half of their opening round game against Texas A&M, Penn came back to take a 39-37 lead midway through the second half, an impressive enough achievement against the tough defense of Texas A&M. That was as good as it got, however; the Aggies went on a 10-0 run and Penn never got closer than 5 the rest of the way.

If you're going to be a fan of an Ivy League basketball team, Penn or Princeton is the horse to take. Since 1960, only four times has one of those two schools not been the champion (in 2002, they finished in a 3-way tie with Yale for the win; Penn ended up going to the tournament). Penn's best year was 1979, when they went to the Final Four and lost to then-Earvin Johnson's Michigan State Spartans (they also lost to DePaul in the consolation game, and for the record, Princeton also made the Final Four only once, in 1965, though they've had more tourney success and buzz recently).

You would think that my other school, being in the Big Ten, would have a shinier record, but largely what that gets them is a better seeding and therefore a chance to win the first round game before losing the second. Minnesota's best year was 1997 1990, when they went to the Final Four the Elite Eight as a six-seed.

But hey, I managed to slip out of work long enough to be watching the game when Penn took the lead. I have a nice little 2007 tournament memory, and considering my schools, not a bad one. Now I can just root for my bracket.

Friday, March 9, 2007

There's Insurance, And Then There's Desperate Sucking Chest Wound Staunching

I've been following NFL free agency moves with some bemusement, as none of my teams seem particularly interested in improving that way. Nothing worth commenting on really, until this morning. Not to steal Freelancer's thunder, but Dominic Rhodes going to the Raiders prompted this amusing line from ESPN:

The six-year veteran will serve as an insurance policy for the Raiders, in the event incumbent starter LaMont Jordan does not bounce back from the medial collateral ligament injury that limited him to nine games in 2006.

Bounce back? To what, exactly? That 2005 season looks more like a blip than a trend. And even if he doesn't bounce back, the history of successful Colts running backs continuing their success on teams with crappy running games is, well, less than inspiring.

And by the way, when did Dominic Rhodes become "Dom"? Has he always been that to Indy fans, and by stepping onto the wider stage, bumped up his intimacy level with the rest of us? Or is this a recent reinvention, a la "Mike" Vick, to show that he wants a starting know, doesn't want to be a sub any more?