Thursday, August 5, 2010

600 HRs And The Pursuit Of Memory Loss

ESPN and the internets are alive with people with severe memory loss. There are endless reams of people falling all over themselves to blame the lack of attention given to Alex Rodriguez's pursuit of his 600th homerun on the fact that he admitted to steroid use in the past. This would seem to indicate that other members of the 600-HR club -- the accepted non-PED users -- received media attention to rival the Miami Heat "Look At Me" Three, right?


To refresh everyone's memories, here is a writeup about the collective yawn the baseball world gave during Ken Griffey Jr's pursuit of 600:

LOS ANGELES – Ken Griffey Jr., the 38-year-old man sitting on the equipment trunk in the corner of the clubhouse this evening, will hit his 600th career home run one of these days, more than all but five players, three of whom are beyond reproach.

Yet, there is no buzz...

Cincinatti Reds teammate Adam Dunn: " It’s a huge deal and it’s almost swept under the rug. I mean, 600. Six hundred! It’s unbelievable. This is so disappointing. He’s a great guy, first and foremost. What he’s done for the game of baseball, it’s sad. It’s a shame. And it’s sad."

So tell me, here you have a guy who is absolutely beloved, who has never been tied to any suspicions of PED's, and yet his 600-club pursuit went largely unheralded. Yet people want us to believe that A-Rod's PED use is the reason his pursuit has not grabbed more attention. Well, it's a load of crap.

Fact is, the baseball world, crazy as it seems, has grown weary of the homerun ball. People barely care about the homerun derby nowadays. And I bet you that Albert Pujols will garner the same type of collective yawn when he starts breaking milestones (he's currently 7 away from 400; notice anyone talking about that?)

The PED use is a crock. Just another example of baseball purists' elevated sense of self-importance.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tales From The Retired

Ever since the day I heard Walt "Clyde" Frasier's confused and erroneous remark that newly-acquired Knick Glen Rice didn't have a post-up game, I've known that, oftentimes, past NBA greats don't always have their finger on the pulse of the current state of the game. Yet, because they're able to rest on past laurels, people look to them for opinions on today's game, with mixed results. For every brilliant-minded Hubie Brown, there is a stuck-in-a-time-warp Bill Walton (who, at last sighting, mused that the OKC Thunder can't use youth as an excuse if they don't win the championship, because his youthful '77 Blazers were able to climb the mountain to the promised land.  Never mind the fact that there hasn't been another significantly "young" team over the past 40 years to win a ring.  Or that his Blazers were a 3-seed, whereas this year's Thunder never looked to reach higher than 6th, a seed that has seen exactly 1 NBA champion, ever -- and are now positioned 8th, a seed that has never fielded an NBA champion.). For every coaching success ala Phil Jackson or Lenny Wilkens, there are the not-so-glittering forays by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

But, recently, the world was treated to some gems from the mind of Celtic great John Havlicek:

[Bill] Russell would run people down from behind, much like LeBron (James) does. LeBron's the only guy who runs people down from behind, it seems. He's made some incredible plays this year by doing that. Russell did that on more than one occasion almost every game. You don't see Dwight Howard running down a person from behind.
Come again? Are you serious? With all due respect Mr. Havlicek -- and plenty is due -- do you actually take the time to, I dunno, watch an NBA game or two? Or do you just catch up with the weekly top-10 plays on ESPN? An opinion so distorted would strongly suggest the latter. To imply that Dwight Howard doesn't get back on fast-break D and record some highlight-reel chasedown blocks is utter nonsense. To claim that LeBron is the only guy in the league doing it is, well,'s putting a strain on my thesaurus to come up with an adjective to properly describe the ridiculousness of such a claim, that's what it is. Off the top of my head, that basically means you've never watched a game with Howard, Chris Andersen, Josh Smith, Dwyane Wade, Gerald Wallace, Kevin Durant, or hell, even Shannon Brown. (Even Devin freakin Harris has multiple chasedowns this year! Multiple!) Meaning you haven't watched the Magic, Nuggets, Hawks, Heat, Bobcats, Thunder, or Lakers, among others, in the past 5 or so years.

And, given that fact, exactly what NBA basketball are you watching? I've long known that, when we use absolutes like "only", "always", "never", and the like, we're usually begging for trouble. No statement more clearly illustrates that than the above. Is LeBron the most well-known for his chase downs? Naturally. What would you expect; he's LeBron freakin' James. He could sneeze and have the most famous snot ever captured on camera in the NBA. But no one would suggest he's the only player that has ever gotten a stuffy nose.

Watch some games Mr. Havlicek; you're missing some great NBA basketball it would seem.

I now move from the unsupported and unsubstantial to the just-plain-out weird:

At times, [Russell] wouldn't even think about blocking their shot. He wanted to make them aware of his presence. Then during the latter part of the game, he would strike. There are times when he would decoy people to think that they were able to get their shot off. He might let them get the shot off so that they weren't hesitant. Then at the end of the game, he would say, 'Oh, this time I'm gonna get him.' He waited for his chances. He was so smart. Guys today just go up and block a ball.
Ahhm, come again? Did you just, essentially, imply that it's ok for guys to take a few plays off? To let guys score early in a game? To randomly give up points? That this is a good strategy? Is this from the Shaq school of mathematics, where 2 points in the first quarter are worth 5 in the fourth?

How about, oh I dunno, blocking a guy's first, second, and third attempt, so that, at the end of the game, he wouldn't even think about bringing "that weak stuff" in there? Thereby eliminating him altogether?

I mean, whether we're talking about help defense or one-on-one defense, if you stop a guy from even thinking about venturing into the lane, it allows the defender to D up even closer on him further away from the basket, all the way out to the perimeter, effectively removing him from the offense altogether. And to suggest that the league leader in shot blocks should deke a few guys early in the game doesn't even make sense from another perspective: do you think Stan Van Gundy would be ok with seeing Dwight let a guy shoot over him? You might as well pour gas on yourself and light a match if you're not worried about that coach seeing you take a play off. I can just imagine the conversation now: "oh don't worry coach, I'm just wink-wink tricking him into thinking he can shoot over me. Watch, when it's a close game in the 4th quarter -- close only because I spent half the game letting him score -- I'll send his shot back to his momma!"

Furthermore, is anybody really that stupid to fall for this ploy? You think there are players that get a shot or two off and begin to believe to that they're the one guy in the league who has block-proof kryponite in his hands? (Yea, Shaq, that's right, a Superman reference, and I ain't talking about you Bizzaro -- lol, I couldn't resist). Maybe 45 years ago, at least before the advent of video scouting, this would've been possible. At this point, I'm pretty sure it's safe to say: the secret's out, Dwight Howard is a shot-blocker (but just in case, keep it hush-hush, we don't want would-be lane-drivers to catch on...)

We always love, and are forever grateful, to the NBA greats for everything they've done for the game. Unfortunately, too often, those contributions don't readily extend into the realm of accurately commenting on today's game.

P.S. this blog post will self-destruct in 5 seconds, which, incidentally, is 4.8 seconds longer than it would take Stan Van Gundy to implode upon watching Dwight take a play off).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

PETA Successfully Defends Its Title... the dumbest, most idiotic collection of moronic jackasses that has ever walked the earth.

PETA pokes fun at Tiger Woods Sex Scandal

Most known for their controversial advertising campaigns, PETA's ad will reportedly include [superimposed on a picture of Tiger Woods] the message, "Too much sex can be a bad thing … for little tigers too. Help keep cats (and dogs) out of trouble: Always spay and neuter!"

Though it may be difficult to find an advertiser willing to post the billboard, Virginia Fort, a campaigner for the animal rights organization, says the ad isn't intended to offend the golfer.

"It's a fun, tongue-in-cheek approach. We hope these billboard companies will understand," Fort said.

As a friend of mine said, perfectly, how does PETA ever hope to be taken seriously by repeatedly engaging in this sort of idiocy?

Let's get a quick updated score on PETA's public antics over the years. First, they compared animal rights to the Jewish Holocaust, and were rightly skewered in the public, threatened by the JADL, pulled the plug on the campaign and apologized. Then, within months, they turned around and compared animal rights to the African Holocaust (slavery, for the uninitiated). They were subsequently skewered, and eventually pulled the plug on the campaign and apologized. Why do I suddenly feel like a broken record?

Then last year, they chastised President Obama for...swatting a fly. Then they wanted to scan Michael Vick's brain to see if the size of his hippocampus would prove he is a sociopath. Then they started a campaign to rebrand all fish with the name "sea kittens".

And now? They believe that poking fun at Tiger's mattress-surfing is the best way to distract people from Tiger's mattress-surfing:
"The world has been transfixed on Tiger's life after Thanksgiving. We're putting the focus where it needs to be," Fort said. "We're sure Tiger will appreciate our attempt — from a story that's distracted the world and followed Tiger — to turn it into something positive for little tigers."
Let's think about this again. PETA says the billboard was an effort to take the focus off Woods' personal life. Seriously. Someone at PETA formulated that thought. Presumably, mulled it over for a second or two. Perhaps ran it by someone. Then, presumably again, handed it off to yet another person, who posted it on their website. Then people came upon the webpage, and no one offered a critique, or a retraction. That's, at the very least, a handful of people that thought this line of reasoning to be sensible, logical.

If PETA actually believes that their antics over the years is helping to win people over to their cause, they are the ones who should be submitting to brain scans. To test for any sign of intelligent life. I merely recalled their holocaust ridiculousness to a friend earlier who described herself as "on the fence" concerning them, and she ran screaming for the ASPCA. True story.

No matter what your cause, your motivation, there is no excuse for any adult to be this patently, repeatedly, stupid. Let alone an entire marketing department, an entire organization.

Congratulations, PETA, on yet another successful title defense.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The U.S.A.: Where Utterly Ridiculous Political Correctness Happens

Hyper-sensitivity in uber-politically-correct America has reached an all-time low. Seriously. All-time. There is no conceivable way that political correctness could possibly sink any lower. Mark this date -- January 29, 2010 -- for it is the 2012 for common sense in American media. (Mind you, I say this fully knowing that, at some point in the near future, some new issue will trump the one I’m about to discuss.)

But without further ado, here is the latest uproar in NBA circles:

Kobe-LeBron Nike ad features gun language

By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney, Ap Basketball Writer – Sat Jan 30, 12:01 am ET
NEW YORK – An advertisement featuring the NBA's two biggest superstars includes a gun reference, the same week two players were suspended for carrying firearms to the locker room.
The Nike ad, which appears in several publications including Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine, has LeBron James on one page and Kobe Bryant on the other. Along with the slogan, "Prepare For Combat," is a quote from each player showing how tough he is.
Bryant's blurb says: "I'll do whatever it takes to win games. I don't leave anything in the chamber."
The chamber in a gun is the compartment that holds the bullet before it is fired.

Really? Seriously? Like, are you seriously serious? Has anyone that raised and responded to this issue (more on that in a sec) taken even a second to consider how completely asinine they sound? How many so-called gun references our everyday pervade language? Is it now wrong to say a person was fired from their job -- seeing as how a gun fires bullets? But let's not even reach that far. Let's stay focused here.

Kobe Bryant is a shooting guard. Basketball at all levels since the '70s keeps statistics on the number of blocked shots. Every night, over 150 times per game, an announcer reports that a player has shot the ball. Just last Friday, the Indiana Pacers coach summarized his team's recent poor play by saying "We played two championship contenders, and they played like it against us. We did not have enough bullets in our gun to make games of it." Shockingly, no one said nary a word on Mr. O'Brien's gun-tottin' mouth.

Mind you, the O'Brien quote was prefaced, in the very same ridiculous AP article above, by the text "O'Brien was unhappy with his team's poor shooting." Why hello hypocrisy, so nice of you to stop by.

Sadly, it gets worse. When asked about the subject, Kobe Bryant and NBA spokesman Tim Frank agreed that "the quote was inappropriate." Way to give in to idiocy. In an ironic twist, the one person so far whose quotes indicate they are on the sane side of the looking glass was Mr. LeBron James, who summarized the issue with "to...say that he was referencing guns is totally ridiculous." Kudos LeBron; ridiculous about captures it.

I suppose the rest of us just didn't get the memo about acceptable language in the fallout (wait, I'm sorry, is that too violent a metaphor given the images of nuclear bombs?) of the Arenas/Crittenton episode. But after some scouring with my trusted servant Google, I finally came across the new set of rules, which I'll now share with you in a bulleted list.

Appropriate Language:
  • The 2-guard position in the NBA will heretofore be known as the Attempt Guard.
  • The act of directing the ball towards the hoop will be known as a throw, or a squirt (thank you commenter memfisblues).
  • NBA Legend Pete Maravich will now be known as Passin' Pete.
  • Wilt Cham***lain will be permanently removed from the Hall of Fame.
  • Any reference to and information about Tom Cham***s will be stricken from NBA history.
  • Effective immediately, Andrei Kirilenko, and any player wearing uniform number 9, 22, 38, or 45 is permanently banned from the NBA.
  • During All-Star weekend, the Happy-Trip-Down-Memory-Lane Competition will replace this contest.
  • Any high-scoring duel will be referred to as a whole-lotta-points-scored-out.
  • Foot Locker and AT&T will be fined $1,000,000 any time they reference past sponsorships in All-Star weekend events, and everyone from Larry Bird to Dirk Nowitzki will return their trophies and prize monies immediately.

In the NFL:
  • A QB that is not lined up under center will be said to be in the really-far-back formation.
  • Any quick-hitting offense will be known as the run-and-favre.
The pole that is firmly lodged up the collective nether regions of U.S. media thanks you for your adherence in this matter.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Perfect Radio Call

Tonight, the Utah Jazz hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers on TNT, so I was relegated to catching the game on League Pass Audio, which I did for exactly the last 10 seconds of play. Luckily, I was treated to one of the best play calls I've ever heard.

I am always one to give credit where it's due, so tonight I have to give it up to the Utah Jazz's radio network KFAN:

"Price dribbles, out of control, gives it to Gaines, at the horn...he hit it!!! A threee!!! Sundiata Gaines!!! Welcome to the NBA!!!"

This came, believe it or not, after the announcer said, coming out of the timeout, that he had a feeling something great was about to happen. Props alone on your extra-sensory perception. But the play call was spot on, and the joy and emotion of the moment couldn't have been captured any better. He toed the line between excited and hysterical, but never crossed it. Kudos.