Monday, July 31, 2006

Breaking Up (a Backcourt) is Hard To Do

For the past God-knows-how-many seasons, Steve Blake and Juan Dixon have been running together. The backcourt combination of the duo has become a staple, if not a clothespin, of college and NBA ball. Where one goes, the other will follow. Blake is literally the White Shadow to Dixon's supreme court abilities.

And then, in one summer swoop, Blake ghets shipped out to Milwaukee in a trade for Jamaal Magloire. It looks like the pitiful Blazers are actually trying to compete for the 2006=07 season. Sacrifices needed to be made, which incuded the eventual breakup of this five plus year relationship.

Perhaps the most underplayd and most irrelevant storyline of the upcoming season will be when Portland travels to Milwaukee for the first time and the former teammates are squared up against one another. Oh, it's on now.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Hands Off this Guy's Goat Meat

I'm sorry, but this story is too funny to not post. No words can accurately describe my reaction to the events that unfolded. The story speaks for itself:

A guy walked in a butcher shop in Springfield, Virginia, with his teenaged son Saturday evening to buy some goat meat.

"However, the workers said the man became so upset when he was given chicken that he slipped behind the counter and cut off his own hand. When police arrived, they said, the man was holding his severed hand screaming, 'I'm not a terrorist. I did this for my family.'"

Too many questions, all that begin with W.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lookalike Sighting on VH1

I've been watching the World Series of Pop Culture for some time now, as documented last week. And since then, it's been bothering me who host Pat Kiernan reminds me of. Until tonight, that is. I put my finger on it, finally. Kiernan shares a head with Brandeis' own, Doni Phillips.

Pardon me for being a novice Paint user. I try my best.


Take a look:

Miss Universe Saves The Universe, Says Reuters

So the world is full of turmoil tonight. But we can be sure to set all of our differences aside for at leats one evening to enjoy the Miss Universe pageant. These ladies are on display for us to marvel at, and to perhaps forget even for a couple of hours about all the uncertainty and destruction that exists in the backdrop of the competition. A healthy reprieve from our concerns. That's what these women provide.

But if you're a Reuters correspondent, you have to play up that angle so much that it becomes melodramatic and laughable. How? By pretending that these women are the members of the U.N. or important people when it comes to foreign policy. Take a look at the lede:

"Even as conflict embroils much of the world, some 88 women hoping to be ambassadors of goodwill have gathered in Los Angeles this week vowing to put politics aside as they compete to become Miss Universe."

If the real ambassadors of good will had a swimsuit competition, I'd head for the hills. But based on the way that article reads, why not just appoint these 88 women to the United Nations? Let's just put politics aside completely.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hillenbrand Can't Feel the Spotlight from the Dugout

You know, at this beginning of the Major League season, I voiced my intrigue over how the Blue Jays planned to play three 3bmen at the same time (Eric Hinske, Shea Hillenbrand, Troy Glaus). The acquisition of Overbay knocked out Hillenbrand's chances of pulling a Youkilis and moving across the diamond permanently. And it seems that the club was unable to create enough at bats for all the players to remain happy. (I believe that Hinske has even been "Chipper"-ed and sent to the outfield.) Which brings us to today when Hillenbrand gets upset and finally lets some steam out. It resulted in his immediate release.

"Hours before, Hillenbrand criticized the organization and said he expected to be traded. The designated hitter and corner infielder was upset because he wasn't in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game and nobody in Toronto's front office congratulated him on adopting a baby girl last weekend."

Now, I believe that the best comparison here is to Ray Kinsella at the end of Field of Dreams when Shoeless Joe makes him feel like crap for wanting to see what's out in the cornfield. You can't blame him, after all he razed his prized crop for this imaginary game. But Hillenbrand here seems a tad more petty than that, and could use a swift kick in the rear from Ray Liotta. Demanding attention for a kind deed you did sort of nullifies the gesture in itself.

That Shea Hillenbrand, he's a noble individual.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Nine-Year-Olds Are World's Daddy

The United States currently stinks at all professional competitions. And it's going to stay that way for a while, says World Cup coach Bruce Arena. How bad is it going to get? Endure this for the next 12 years, he says.

"Arena took over the struggling New York Red Bulls on Tuesday, but also predicted that his former squad -- the U.S. soccer team -- would not win consistently at the World Cup until 2018.
'Why did I say 2018? Because I know that it's not going to happen in 2010, 2014,' he said at his introductory news conference. 'We have a long way to go. To get there, you've got to know where you are. It's the same thing with this team. If I told you, we were going to compete for the MLS Cup right away, if I told you we were going to win a World Cup in 2010 ... who's going to believe that?'"

What that means is Arena must be scouting plenty a public playground from here to U.S. territories for the best soccer playing nine-year-olds we've ever seen. Frankly, who would be shocked at this point if Street and Smiths came out with a worldwide top 4th graders issue? Besides, we can get those visa papers working early and recruit the best of the bunch to come play for the United States when it really 2018.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Celebrate Good Times with Nick Punto

Sometimes, as I watch athletes celebrate their achievements with teammates, I can't help byt be reminded of Enrico Pallazzo taking those moments to frisk some players. It's true that for some time now, players will congratulate each other by rubbing their hands all over a teammate's rear end. Mike Piazza inevitably will hold a press conference to proclaim that he's never been a willing partner in any of these celebrations, not that there's anything wrong with that.
And then a day like today rolls around and you realize why it's so important that Piazza not play for the Minnesota Twins. Had Piazza been involved, Punto would have been left with a post-game shiner as a result of this moment.

Is it me or is Nick Punto seemingly up to no good here? That mischevious face seems to convey the notion that he's been waiting all season for Rondell White to finally blast his first homer. And then when it finally came, Punto was ready to grab his personal share of the celebration.


Dazed and Ahmadinejad

"Y'all ready to bust some ass?"--Fred O'Bannion, Dazed and Confused reincarnated as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

You know, by now it's remarkable that this guy has any credibility. I wonder if his speech writers have graduated yet from kindergarten. The latest in the series of Ahmadinejad lashings:
"The Zionists think that they are victims of Hitler, but they act like Hitler and behave worse than Genghis Khan."

This guy ends up sounding like a bitter bully blocking the hopscotch board at recess. How can educated people take him seriously? His comment is akin to saying "Oh yeah? Your feet smell bad like an its own dung....with bad body odor. Yeah."

So break that paddle out of frustration, why don't you, O'Bannion? But as Av, resident Iranologist puts it, the "problem is [Ahmadinejad] has access to nuclear weapons, [which] makes the situation more complicated."


Another Problem for Selig To Solve?

There's a reason to like baseball. Throughout its thick tradition, wacky and wild things seem to happen almost on a regular basis. You've never seen catches like Gary Matthews' before and rookie phenoms like Francisco Liriano come along once in a blue moon. And then things happen on Saturday that it takes one avid fan to even recognize it's happened:

"It marked the first time in nearly three decades a full day of major league games were played without a save recorded."

And you just know that Commissioner Bud Selig is requesting an impromptu panel to put together a report to explain how this could happened. This could affect the game in larger ways, he will figure. Come up with a way to inflate statistics to keep fans coming out to the ballpark. The save, the most exciting of all statistics, needs to be saved, so to speak. Selig's menacing fingers can't stay out of the cookie jar. The auto-pilot button has been disarmed.


Monday, July 10, 2006

VH1 Pulls a Zuber

I may be the only person in America to have noticed this. The World Series of Pop Culture debuted tonight on VH1 with Sweet 16 matchups airing from 10 to 10:30 p.m. at 10:30 to 11 p.m. During a commercial at 10:50 p.m., VH1 ran a promo for the next set of Sweet 16ers. In the promo, they stated that PDX-503 had advanced already, and wondered who would be the next team to make it the quarter-finals. The problem? At 10:50 p.m., PDX was still competing. Yes, they had revealed the winner of the competition before it had ended! They gave themselves away! They blew their own cover!


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Marlins' Pinto Saves the Day

The Florida Marlins doubled up the Washington Nationals tonight, 18-9. That's a blowout by every definition of the term, I would say. Major League Baseball, on the other hand, according to its esteemed rules, needs to reward every Marlin's contribution to this lopsided victory this evening. Renyel Pinto earned his first save of the season.

Now, I'm not one to go bashing on the save as a statistic; in fact, it helps us define what makes good relievers and Eddie Guardados, too. But to award a save in a game like that, it just makes you wonder why a player could get one under the circumstances. Andhere are the rules to qualify:

The relief pitcher is the finishing pitcher for the winning team
The relief pitcher himself is not the winning pitcher
The third condition may be satisfied by any one of the following:
The relief pitcher enters with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least a complete inning
The relief pitcher enters the game with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck
The relief pitcher pitches effectively for at least three innings.

And that's what Pinto did this evening. He pitched "effectively," allowing four runs over his three innings of duty. For that, he gets his name in the box score. His mom is surely proud.


Caught in the Public Eye

First off, apparently the NY Metro Stars changed their names to the Red Bulls. That was news to me.

Well, apparently, a Red Bulls' player was busted like Zack Morris on Rosh Hashana, unable to blend into the crowd like the smoother operator, Ferris Bueller on his day off.

"Djorkaeff, 38, was a member of the French team that won the 1998 World Cup and later played for Bundesliga club Kaiserslautern. In his second season in Major League Soccer, he was given permission to leave the Red Bulls last week for "a serious family matter," but was caught by television cameras at the France-Brazil match in Frankfurt.

The New York club issued a release later in the day saying it gave Djorkaeff permission to attend to the family matter, but that he never mentioned the World Cup match as part of his trip."

Stuff like this isn't supposed to happen in real life, is it? Of course, teams aren't named after alcoholic beverages in real life either.


How to Talk to a Yankees Fan

I am quoted on page 10, 53, 123, 167, 171 of a new book entitled "How to Talk to a Yankees Fan", which can be purchased here. It is a hilarious guide to hating the Yankees, their fans, and everything about them that everyone should enjoy.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Following his Inner Music

We know him best as the former employee of local Harry's Pizza. He'd wow you with stories about working at a fish store and strumming on his guitar in the evenings. Today, I've received word that Robbie is alive and doing well, having followed his music all the way to Israel. He's living the dream, so to speak.

"Instead of firing up a joint, Robbie now he fires up the fireplace, opens his Tehillim, and strums the praise of Hashem on any one of his custom-crafted string instruments - guitar, banjo, or mandolin."