Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The (Mostly Hypothetical) NFL Preview! (Tennessee Titans)

So I'm doing these in reverse alphabetical order, which means that I need a list of the NFL teams in alphabetical order, because I am not entirely sure that I could, if given the chance, name all the NFL teams; I mean, there's so many of them and only 1 per year is given the go-ahead to win the Super Bowl (this year's team is The Kansas City Chiefs, by the way), so I decided to Google it and see who out there had posted a list of the NFL teams in alphabetical order, because why wouldn't that exist?

It does -- but more importantly, this exists: A demand that such a list be provided now! From Yahoo! Answers:

i need all of the nfl teams in aphabetical order. it doesnt matter about divisions or what part of the country there in. just do it quick! will take away question in 30 mins

Now I'm all distracted by what could have been so urgent that the poster could take the time to post the question, but not take the time to simply get a list of the teams himself and put it in alphabetical order? I mean, I know why I don't do the latter*

* I'm lazy.

but if you really needed one, quick, wouldn't it be faster to do it yourself?

Or is this all about job creation? Or something... more sinister?

[SCENE]: Interior of a normal suburban house. A man is sitting and watching television. It's probably tuned to something kind of dumb, and a rerun at that. People always complain about how there's nothing on, but then they just watch reruns of the stupid shows they watched in the first place. Have you ever noticed that?

Man: Honey? Can you get me some more of these delicious [Fill In Name Of Product Here Once This Post Gets A Sponsor] because they are truly delicious and also time-saving, and possibly have links to promotional codes on other websites.

Woman's voice [from the other room]: Mmmmf.

Man: [after about 30 minutes has passed, in which he scratched himself and watched TV]: Honey? About those [sponsored products]?

Woman's voice [from other room]: MMMRMRMF!

[The man gets up and walks into the other room; we see his profile silhouetted against the light coming from the doorway before we see what he's looking at, and he says:]

Man: Holy Cow! It's Semion Mogilevich, who was listed as number 2 on the 10 most wanted list but now is probably number one, and who is wanted for his alleged participation in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud thousands of investors in the stock of a public company incorporated in Canada, but headquartered in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, between 1993 and 1998. His scheme to defraud collapsed in 1998, after thousands of investors lost in excess of 150 million U.S. dollars, and Mogilevich, thought to have allegedly funded and authorized the scheme, was indicted in April of 2003.

Semion Mogilevich: Either give me a list of NFL teams, in alphabetical order, in 30 minutes or less, or you and your wife will be defrauded out of in excess of 150 million U.S. dollars!

Man: But... I never learned the alphabet, because I went to poorly funded public schools!

Semion Mogilevich: That is ridiculous! Why would a country not fund its public schools?

Man: Probably for the same reason that that same country does not fund organizations like the Securities Exchange Commission and allowed the Worst President Ever to deliberately hamper criminal prosecutions of widespread mortgage fraud while still fully funding military adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan, military efforts that are supported by government-funded contractors whose employees consist of more or less slave labor working in horrible conditions!

Semion Mogilevich: Because people weren't paying attention?

Man: That, and they're stupid.


That's what I've come up with so far. I'm pretty sure it's 100% accurate. Today's team is, of course, the

Tennessee Titans

Quick Recap: Last season, the Titans managed to undo years of near-excellence that even made me grudgingly admit they were a pretty good team; rather than continue to promote high-quality draft picks and/or their longtime coach, Tennessee opted to let Jeff Fisher's bewildering grudge against Vince Young boil over into benching him and disrupting the team.

My recollection then was that the Titans inexplicably let both Young and Fisher go, but as usual, my recollection is wrong. The Titans fired Fisher, leaving Young on the roster but drafting someone named "Jake Locker," whose name sounds like he is a character in a sports-parody movie.

Also, Kerry Collins may still be involved.

The Titans' new coach is Mike Munchak. He played for the Houston Oilers, which the Titans used to be (although the NFL would like you to forget that.) You can get a 1986 McDonald's All-Stars Mike Munchak card for about $20 online:

Or you could get an official Anaconda Copper Mining Company stock certificate issued to Helen Munchak, for about the same price.

It's your choice.

If you're not careful, you might accidentally confuse them with:
The classic Titans of mythology. Before mankind existed, there was a 10-year war between the Titans, and the Olympians. The Olympians were called that because they lived on Mount Olympus. The Titans lived on Mount Othrys, but were called Titans because Othryians would be lame.

Contrary to what Disney told you,

the Titanomachy (or War of the Titans) actually began when Uranus imprisoned two of Gaia's kids in Tartarus; Gaia created a sickle and asked which of her remaining kids would castrate Uranus (their dad.) Cronus volunteered, and so Gaia "set him in a bush" (Really!) and he became the King of the Titans.

Cronus cut off Uranus'... Anthony Weiner ... and threw it into the sea, thereby creating the first-ever junk shot in human history:

And, also creating Aphrodite, who rose spontaneously from the sea. It worked this way, according to the Hephiod:

"...so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden..."

Aphrodite rising from the foam created by Uranus' member is sort of a Greek version of Snooki in the hot tub.

Pictured: your modern-day Aphrodite

Thing went downhill from there for the Titans, though: Cronus took power, and then angered everyone again by re-imprisoning the same two kids, and Cronus, to avoid having the same "kids rising up against me" fate as his own dad, ate the kids, but he missed Zeus, eating a rock instead, and then ate a combination of mustard and wine and vomited up his kids and so on.

Which makes sense in so many contexts, and also really does make Greek mythology seem a lot more like Jersey Shore, doesn't it?

Pictured: A way better
world history class than you got to take.

Also, that history really kind of mirrors what happened to the Titans last year, in a way, if you substitute Fisher for Cronus and replace "cutting off his privates" with "getting fired and being out of work."

Which Romantic Comedy Character Are The Redskins Going To Be Like This Year?

Bryce, from Sixteen Candles. You can get a glimpse of this John Cusack-played character early on in this montage:

Bryce, remember, was the semi-weird friend who didn't really factor into the movie, but seemed like he might be interesting in his own right. And yet, everytime you noticed him, you immediately thought "Ah, well, there's better stuff going on with all these other people." And then, after only occasionally capturing your attention, by the end of things he's an afterthought -- and one that you'll need some memory-jogging to remember.

Prior teams:

Washington Redskins

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This post starts off with baseball but finishes with underwear, so stick it out. (Baseball)

This is a joint story between Nonsportsmanlike Conduct! and The Best Of Everything.

You'd think the job of sports reporting would be easy enough: watch sports, talk to the athletes, and then say what just happened.

And you'd be right. And then you'd think that the job would get even easier when a story is just handed to you, the way "Evan Scribner wears a Yoda backpack" was handed to Deadspin, and you'd be right about that, too, except that when sports reporting, the easiest "job" in the world, crosses light sabers with Star Wars, the source of all Western culture, people get overwhelmed with implications and screwed up reporting even the simplest things.

That's what happened to Deadspin, my source for the latest Star Wars Reference, which is that San Diego Padres' pitcher Evan Scribner wears a Yoda backpack:

Deadspin, getting all hopped up on midichlorians, reported that story in Yoda-speak; the headline is "Something Of A Geek, Evan Scribner Is," and focused on the meaning of it all:

Evan Scribner, pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays Padres, has a Yoda backpack that makes it look as if he is giving Yoda a piggy-back ride. At some point in the last few years, we reached a cultural juncture at which this could either make Scribner a nerd or a hipster. I'm not sure that he's either, but he is a major league baseball pitcher who favors a Yoda backpack that makes it look as if he is giving Yoda a piggy-back ride. That noise you just heard is Americana folding in on itself.

And also the sound of Deadspin not realizing two things:

1. Americana isn't folding in on itself. Americana is Star Wars now, as this series of posts keeps proving.

2. Evan Scribner isn't a geek or a hipster. This is a hipster:

and this is a geek:

And if Deadspin realized that what Dan Savage says (G.F.E.) is true, they'd have done what I did, which is Google why does Evan Scribner wear a Yoda backpack, and they'd have found this Hartford Courant story, which explains that Scribner doesn't wear the Yoda out of any geekery, but out of major league-ery:

"Have to wear it out to the bullpen every day...If nobody else gets called up, I guess I'll have to wear it all year."

That is, Evan is the newest member of the staff, and he's being hazed.

But still, for my purposes, he's being hazed by being forced to wear a Yoda backpack; there are probably 20,000 other silly backpacks he could be forced to wear, and the Padres went with Yoda. They've been doing it for a while. Here's a 2010 picture of pitcher Ryan Webb wearing the Yoda:

It all began, in fact, about August 2010, when the Padres began putting Yoda into team pictures and made the Yoda Pack a hazing ritual; website Topless Robot speculated that it was because then-second baseman (he may be still, I don't know) David Eckstein, is married to Ashley Eckstein:

And Ashley is the voice of "Ahsoka" in Clone Wars:

(Topless Robot spelled her name wrong, by the way.) (Ahsoka was supposed to be trained by Anakin Skywalker, a bit of trivia that never made it into the movies.)

And Ashley Eckstein also makes the "Her Universe" line of clothing, a line of clothing that is said to be "more than Star Wars shirts," a point that is true, as the site also sells Boba Fett-ish underwear:

And that is why you should read this blog and not Deadspin.

That, and because I not only find you the whole story, but also find you sexy lightsaber fights:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The (Mostly Hypothetical?) NFL Preview! (Washington Redskins)

Time again for my annual exercise in not quite finishing what I started and also in examining what I think will happen in the NFL season, a series of posts that seems to be especially suited to my particular talents this year, as I never seem to actually complete my annual NFL preview before the season starts ... but it seems like maybe the season won't actually start this year.

Or, in layman's terms, Advantage: Me.

Now, true, there's news today that the owners and the players have realized that no matter how you divide up $9 billion, each side does pretty well, especially when that $9 billion grows almost exponentially each year, so it may be that by the time you actually read this, the Mostly Hypothetical Preview won't be Mostly Hypothetical anymore, but I'm betting on greed, as exemplified by the NFL owners' arguments before the federal appellate court that reinstated the lockout:

You'll remember that last year, my NFL preview (well received by people like Tom Scocca, who borrowed my concepts) told you whether you should root for or against a team, or not bothering caring at all, and also used shorthand to describe a team by telling you what comic book superhero your team would be most like (and nailed it, for each team.)

This time around, to keep it fresh, I'm not doing that.

Instead, the Mostly Hypothetical preview will give you a quick recap of the team, a way to be confused about them, and will then tell you how your team will fare by comparing your team to a character in a romantic comedy.

Do you get it? No, I don't either, but I have to mask the fact that I don't know anything about football and sometimes forget who plays for what team, while still somehow brilliantly stumbling across the answer.

Let's see how it works in practice with the first team in this preview:

Team: Washington Redskins.

Quick Recap:
The Redskins were the first team ever to take my advice and hire a special teams' coach as their head coach. Or did they? I thought Jim Zorn was a special teams' guru, but a review of his Wikipedia page tells me that Zorn in fact was Sinbad. So maybe you don't really want to listen to someone whose knowledge of sports comes primarily from googling Alyson Hannigan pictures:

Can you blame me? That picture alone is worth the 33,000 viruses that just infected my computer.

The Redskins last year finished the season... let's just say miserably, so miserably that owner Daniel Snyder stopped illegally chopping down trees on his Potomac River-abutting yard and started suing local newspapers for saying he wasn't a very good owner. Don't call him litigious: before he filed suit, Snyder tried bullying and extorting the newspaper into a retraction by threatening to outspend it in court.

Snyder was mad about this article, which accused him of losing $121 billion of "Bill Gates' money" while selling an "Official Mattress" for Six Flags. The article also claims that Dan Snyder's official Redskins' lottery game flopped. Snyder, in rebuttal, said the paper is anti-Semitic and full of half-truths and innuendo.

In light of all that, two things remain clear: (1) See why I can't tell you what their record was? (2) I think an officially-licensed NFL mattress would be awesome.

Does such a thing exist? Kind of: There's officially-licensed NFL futons and bunk beds:

That would sell better with that picture of Alyson photoshopped onto it, I bet.

If you're not careful, you might accidentally confuse them with:
Now-defunct UK band "The Redskins." A punk band that formed from the remnants of the band "No Swastikas," The Redskins helped popularize the UK redskin movement, people who shaved their heads in support of socialism and in protest of fascism. The Redskins' dancy-pop was seriously left-wing. Here's their kind of catchy song, Unionize:

I like it. It's got a good beat, and you can general strike to it.

Which romantic comedy character are the Redskins going to be like this year?

Biff, from Back To The Future, and don't bother telling me that's not a romantic comedy because with the end of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, the rules are off, man, and I can say what I like. Or something.

Biff had a good run -- he was in charge and bullied people around, for years and years and years, only to be taken down by a series of fluky circumstances that led with him serving George McFly. Did he still want to be a bully, a boss, a contender? Sure. Would he be? No way. The forces of nature had realigned and Biff was done. Kind of like the Redskins: Pretenders who want to seem tough but don't really scare anyone.

Here's another song from the Redskins:

"Lev Bronstein" was Leon Trotsky; I didn't think you could make a cool song about a guy who unsuccessfully opposed Stalin's consolidation of power, but I was wrong.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Back in the 70s, chess was a MAN's sport. (Quotent Quotables)

"You know, I’m an athlete as well. You can’t sit at the chess table and not be physically fit.”

-- Bobby Fischer, chess grandmaster, and guy sitting at a chess table in this photo:

Thursday's Sporting List: How much beer would a sumo drink in a year?

As Vancouver finalizes its attempts to serve as Detroit's stand-in in future Lifetime movies, the Canadians who rioted over losing a hockey game (?!) can turn their attentions to maybe winning one of these

Less Well Known Championship Trophies From Other Sports:

1. The Copeland Shield, an award given to the "Best And Fairest" player for the Collingwood Football Club (an Australian Rules football team) each year. Dane Swan has won this award three years in a row. The award is named for a former secretary of the club who (legend has it) saved the team from financial ruin. Collingwood gives second and third place awards for "Best And Fairest," and those awards, too, have names: 2nd place gets the "R. T. Rush Trophy," while 3rd Bestest And Fairest gets the "J. J. Joyce Trophy."

2. The "Lady," the award given to the champion of the English Football League, the second tier of the British soccer hierarchy; a team awarded the "Lady" (so called because it has a picture of a woman on the cover) cannot keep the trophy if they play well enough to be moved up to the highest tier.

3. The "Emperor's Cup," given to the sumo wrestler who wins the top division in that sport. Sumo winners can also get the "Yusho Banner," in Japan -- but prizes for sumo are awarded by a variety of countries: the Czech Republic gives out a tall fluted bowl cut glass and a year's supply of Pilsner beer, the United Arab Emirates awards sumo wrestlers a giant coffee pot made of
silver with gold inlay, plus a year's supply of gasoline, while Hungary gives a "huge red cloisonne jar, plus an individual tea-set." Even Mexico gets into the action, awarding sumo wrestlers a silver replica of the Aztec calendar.

4. The ICC World Cup Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Cricket World Cup finals: described as a "golden globe held up the three columns," the trophy looks like this:

And is not related to...

5. The Ashes, which is not only a cricket tournament between Australia and the UK, but also the award given to the winner of that tournament -- an urn carrying what is reputed to be the ashes of a bail -- but also (as anyone who reads Douglas Adams knows), the Ashes are part of The Wikkit Gate, the only thing standing between the Universe and a very polite destruction of everything and everybody... but which, as maybe a consolation would be accompanied by lovely songs that would make Paul McCartney jealous.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

You've got to keep babies warm at a hockey game. (Babies In Sports Gear)

Deadspin has the apparent scoop -- a 6:15 p.m. posting on Flag Day featuring this picture:

But they blow the story on making fun of Bruins fans, noting that most adults became fans "around 2008," without ever bothering to ask the Important Questions Of Journalism, questions like:

Why are those babies suddenly being dressed as Bruins fans?

That's actually a question that hockey fans -- both of them -- would probably know the answer to, while the rest of us have to turn to the Boston Globe to figure out what's going on.

What's going on is this: Apparently, the Bruins are just a game away from winning "the Stanley Cup," and that prospect has local sportswriters declaring the city to be awash in the spirit of '72.

Really? "Anticipation" is "surging" "across the city" of Boston?

A showdown with Vancouver -- or, as it's more properly known "The Canadian City That Looks Like Every American City," -- is making Bostonians pull out "every piece of Bruins clothing they owned" ?

Or are the facts -- buried a little lower in the story -- just a little less flattering to those two hockey fans that exist:

And at just about every sports bar in the city, at least a few fans were glued to lead-up coverage.

Parse that sentence: "at just about every sports bar." So there were sports bars that did not have "Bruins fever." (Catch it!)

And there were "at least a few fans" at those bars that did have someone in them who knew about/cared about hockey.

In other words, a couple of people in Boston like hockey, and the sportswriters were having a slow day. Turns out Deadspin really did cover the important points of the story. Back to the babies, who also can be stored in a cooler with your beer:

Although I don't think it's pronounced "beer" in Bah-stin. It's pronounced "breakfast."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday's Sporting List: Steel, This Post.

Has it really been a week since I last posted anything on here? Ah, the demands of being a busy trial lawyer.

I understand that Shaquille O'Neal retired from basketball -- or so people tell me. That came as a surprise to people (like me) who didn't know he was still playing, making Shaq the latest in a line of pros who "retired" from sport a long time after the sport retired from them.

This has led to many career retrospectives, all of which mention Shaq's movie career and his NBA career and some of which mention his rapping, but none of which mentioned today's list, which is A List Of Things You Probably Didn't Remember About Shaquille O'Neal:

1. He once promised to help Florida residents facing foreclosure by buying their mortgages and redoing them to make them more affordable. 3 years later, that effort hasn't ever really taken off.

2. He directed an episode of the television show "Cousin Skeeter." Here is what is billed as "funny moments" from Cousin Skeeter:

And he did that without ANY help from Kobe!

3. He thought in July, 2009 that he was famous enough to get into the White House without being invited. He thought wrong.

4. He's been sued twice over allegations that he hacked into (or had someone hack into) people's computers. A former employee sued him, and a former mistress sued him. Both cases are ongoing; Shaq denies the allegations.

5. He's in a video by emo music outfit "Owl City.":

6. He starred as DC Comics' rip-off of Iron Man, Steel, in the 1997 film:

Want to know more about Steel? Sure, why not. Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

Doctor John Henry Irons was a brilliant weapons engineer for AmerTek Industries, who eventually became disgusted when the BG-60, a powerful man-portable energy cannon he had designed, fell into the wrong hands and was used to kill innocent people. As the company would have coerced him to retain his services, John faked his death, and eventually came to Metropolis. While working a construction job high up on a skyscraper, he fell off while saving a friend from the same fate. His own life was saved by none other than Superman. When John Irons asked how he could show his gratitude, Superman told him to "live a life worth saving." During Superman's fatal battle against Doomsday, Irons attempted to help Superman fight the deadly menace by picking up a sledge hammer, but was buried in rubble amidst the devastation. Shortly after Superman's death, he finally awoke and crawled from the wreckage, confused and saying that he "must stop Doomsday."

That all led to Steel creating a suit of Steel or something.

7. You can buy an action figure of Shaq as Steel on eBay for $0.01.

8. He played guitar -- and a guitar he signed sold for $1,750 at an auction. Which is more than you can say for the "Guitar Tribute To LeBron James,"

which didn't sell at all.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thursday's Sporting List: The path to an Oscar runs through NCAA probation.

With the Scripps National Spelling Bee set to take the limelight today -- and divert attention from Jim Tressel's resignation and the slap on the wrist Ohio State will take for buying 106 victories over the years (but only four against Wisconsin! Ha!), I thought it appropriate to keep the drum beating by giving you this list of Other Notable NCAA Investigations Over The Years... And Their Results.

1. University of New Mexico: 3 assistant football coaches accused of helping players get fraudulent credits.

Result: The investigation implicated several other schools in fake-credit manufacturing. UNM put on probation for three years, loses five scholarships, and two coaches are fired.

Who really got punished: The players on the teams that played with fewer scholarship players, and five students per year who lost out on college scholarships.

2. Rich Rodriguez accused of five rules violations relating to practice time.

Result: Michigan put on 3 years' probation, practice hours and staff hours are reduced.

Who really got punished: Staff members who lost jobs for following Rodriguez' orders, future players who have less time to practice.

3. University of North Carolina investigated for players getting extra benefits. The investigation includes the University of Florida, the University of Alabama, the University of South Carolina and the University of Georgia.

Result: Still ongoing; despite proof that players accepted money and one of UNC's staff members was previously employed by one of the agents in the scandal, local sportswriters are standing up for coach Butch Davis, whose program at Miami was once found to have committed major NCAA rules violations.

4. "Blind Side" Michael Oher investigated for recruiting violations after reports surface that his grades are too low to get a scholarship from Ole Miss and potentially impermissible contacts with Oher.

Result: The NCAA leaves the investigation open; an assistant coach at Ole Miss is punished for recruiting violations related to other players; Oher is drafted by the NCAA, Sandra Bullock gets an Oscar, and America learns who "Jesse James" is nowadays.


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