Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Busted Coverage reads my blog? This is why I RULE.

Way way back in January (remember January? It was cold!) I did a post about Tim Tebow in which I noted that Tebow was the subject of an almost-certainly fake grilled cheese likeness:

Zack Johnson, liar, simply made a burnt grilled cheese and scraped the shape of Tebow into it, and has been written up on local news sites and even Deadspin because people find it interesting and not at all fraudulent, apparently.

I said, then. As usual, it apparently falls on me, "Guy Who Knows Almost Nothing About Sports And Who Also Has A Day Job" to do all the reporting around here (see also: Yoda Backpack), because "regular" sports media only just got hold of this story, assuming that "Busted Coverage" counts as regular media.

Busted Coverage is leading with the Tebow Toast story today, in a post filled with outrage that's at least six months too late and seven degrees too hot.  Getting upset about whether someone wants to spend money on Tebow Toast is like... I don't know, getting upset that Busted Coverage is reading my blog but not giving me credit?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The NBA needs to add some bacon, quick.

Yesterday, I made a special trip to get a "Bacon Sundae" from Burger King, making that the second time this year that I've made a special trip to get one of their offerings, the first being the time we went there so I could try a "Frozen Coke," which turned out (disappointingly, somewhat) to be just a Coke Slusheee.

As I said to Sweetie on the way to try the sundae: "How can I not try it?  It's a big deal.  Everyone's talking about it.  And I am all about event food now."

ALSO: I coined the term "Event Food."  You can say it, but you've got to pay me a nickel everytime you do.

"Event food" is like an event movie -- the Bacon Sundae as Avengers 3D Imax Movie, something to get you (me) off your (my) butt and out into the restaurant, and Burger King is a leader in the new era of Event Food.  While McDonald's offers up their "Daily Double," which is just  double cheeseburger with mayo on it, ho hum, Burger King is putting bacon into ice cream, freezing cokes, who knows what they'll do next?

The review of the Bacon Sundae will have to wait, because this is a (non)sports blog, and so I have a (non)sports focus to this post, which is this:

Burger King made me try bacon in ice cream: why can't the NBA get me to watch LeBron James play basketball?

Or, put another way: Is the NBA Finals a harder sell than bacon in ice cream?

Leave aside my belief that LeBron James isn't as good as people make him out to be, and consider instead that the NBA ratings are suffering.  The hope was that this year, the Thunder's "dunk-heavy" offense would appeal to the casual fan, in part because the "Durant-James rivalry" (which is a thing?) promises electricity.

Confession:  I'm not exactly sure who Durant is.  But that might be because the last pro basketball game I watched was that one where what's-his-name on the 76ers hurt his mouth and was spitting blood under the table to stay on the court.  (It involved the Bucks, in the near past, and I was trying to bond with Oldest Daughter by watching basketball.)

So far this year, the finals, through Game 3 with LeBron down 2-1 (of course), are the highest rated in the past 10 years, but if Oklahoma City is drawing in the viewers by the flocks, it's got to steal them from Pawn Stars, which drew only about 2,000 less viewers in the final two games OK City played against San Antonio. 

Game 2 of the NBA Finals drew 13 million viewers, roughly double the nearly 7,000,000 a rerun of Person of Interest got on CBS; earlier in the week, more people watched America's Got Talent or an NCIS rerun than tuned into Game 1.

The Finals are averaging through 2 games about 16,500,000 viewers per game (game 3 stats aren't available yet) which places them somewhere between "Chicago/Utah 1998" and "Chicago/Utah 1999", comfortable territory, it would seem, but well below almost any series involving the Lakers, and nothing about this series appears to be drawing in "casual" fans: the 11.8 rating puts the series in about 20th place, all-time, nevermind the hype about "record" ratings.

So why can't the NBA convince me to switch the channel over to watch a game, but Burger King can get me to make a special trip to shell out $2.49 for chocolate-covered gooey bacon?  In either case, you'd think the sell is equally hard: I'm not crazy about basketball, but I will watch a big deal in sports even if I don't like the sport:  I checked out Michael Phelps winning all those gold medals, and I once watched the gymnastics finals where that one girl broke her leg.  I used to listen to the NBA Finals on the radio as I biked for exercise, back when Jordan played.

If the NBA can't outsell bacon in ice cream, it has a problem.  Maybe it's that Burger King doesn't cram 38 months' worth of desserts into a single year; I find it hard to believe that basketball is still going on, but let's face it: it seems like basketball never stops.  There was a lockout last year, I believe, and it still feels like basketball is endless, with a regular season that even the 'casual' fan (me) doesn't believe matters.  (The NBA regular season exists only to make people in Milwaukee throw away their money for a few months before getting their Lakers' jerseys out of the bottom drawer for the real season.)

Or maybe it's that the NBA isn't doing a good job of packaging the big stars.  Remember, I don't know who Durant is, and the biggest name in the current finals is a guy who is mostly known for sucking in the finals.  (LeBron wouldn't make a good running mate for Romney, one guy on NPR said, because he'd quit trying by November.)  I used to care about basketball when basketball had big names and oversized personalities, basketball being the place where a big name can have a bigger impact.  One major star is 20% of the people on the floor for a given team at any one time - -10% of the people on the court, so a big name in basketball has a major impact on the game at any time.

But I can't name most of the big names in basketball right now.  LeBron, sure, and I guess I know Chris Bosh because he hangs around with LeBron, and I know Dwyane Wade, and Kobe still plays basketball, right?  But outside of that, the only NBA player I've heard about this year was Jeremy Lin and I'm pretty sure he doesn't play in the league anymore because I never hear his name.

The NBA is a cult of personality, really: the game, to guys like me, is hard to understand for its strategy and niceties, and sports people admit that: The Thunder dunks a lot, so 'casual' fans will like them.  Mostly, when I watch basketball, I see the same thing over and over, about 100 times per game: This team inbounds, dribbles and passes, and then scores, and then the other team does that.

That's a hard-sell to guys like me.  I don't have 2 hours to waste on now you now me sports that seems to not matter much until the last two minutes.  So to get me to watch, you've got to show me something different, something new, something bigger.  I check out the NCAA Tournament every year because it's the biggest thing around and always features some good storyline; there's always a Butler to love or a Duke to hate.  I'll watch some of the Olympics for that reason, and I got into the World Cup a few years back because it was the World Cup.

The NBA doesn't seem to have that; they just keep serving up the same old Daily Doubles, and hoping that their name recognition carries them through.  "Record" ratings or not, I can't shake the feeling that there's nothing much going on in the NBA that I haven't seen before, and, frankly, I'd rather eat some bacon in ice cream than watch a few minutes of the Finals -- at least with the Bacon Sundae, I'm assured that it'll be different, something to talk about.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"When you coming home Dad?" "I don't know, son. I'm golfing with Xena, so it's gonna be a while. Don't tell Mom."

My dad, a while back, specifically asked me not to make him go golfing on Father's Day.

It used to be a tradition in our family that we'd get Dad and the kids together and go golf 18 holes, spending a half-day with Dad out on the course, shooting a 125 or so which is pretty good for me, and then going to eat somewhere.

Then Dad said, one day "I don't like golfing.  Let's just have dinner."  And so a tradition that it turned out Dad never liked died.

I bring this up because this week it made the "news" that most golfers, given a choice of who to golf with on Father's Day, chose their dad rather than, say, Tiger Woods, or Jesus.

I use "news" in quotes for double the usual reasons:  Not only is this sports "news," which is already one step removed from, you know, real news, but it's a step further in that the poll question is about who to golf with on Father's Day, and what are you supposed to say to that?

Pollster:  So, thanks for taking a minute to talk with me.  I was just wondering, if you were to be golfing on Father's Day... hang on a second, let me just start this song playing...

Person:  Is that "Cats In The Cradle?"  What's going on here?

Pollster:  Okay, now before we get to "Time In A Bottle," let's finish that question.  As you listen to this song featuring an ironic twist in which a son who never had his dad spend time with him grows up to be distant from that same dad, on Father's Day... let me emphasize: Father's Day, the one day a year society bothers to think about dads, who would you like to golf with?  

Person:  What are my options?

Pollster:  You're going to Hell.

 There were, in fact, options given even though the poll itself poses the classic NESTLE-R problem, which I will explain:

A NESTLE-R problem, which I've alluded to before,  is when the choices are so obvious that they're no choice at all.  The phrase comes from the old Wheel of Fortune game show.  At the end, in the olden days, the player had to choose five consonants and a vowel.  Everyone, when confronted with that question, told Pat Sajak "I'd sure like to date Vanna White."

No, wait.  What they said was "I'll take R, N, S, T, L, and E" which reshapes into NESTLE-R, my mnemonic device in case I was ever on Wheel, which I never wanted to be because Jeopardy! was my thing.

Anyhow, those were the obvious choices, and NESTLE-R presents itself in a variety of real-life contexts, too, most notably when someone says "Who would you like to have dinner with if you could have dinner with anyone?" and everyone feels compelled to say something like "Mom" or "Jesus," and nobody ever really feels free to say "Xena, and I mean, really Xena, not just Lucy Lawless in her costume, but actually Xena somehow made real, and also The Incredible Hulk and a guy who knows all the lottery numbers that will ever be picked and on what day they'll be picked but he doesn't want to use that information for himself  and yet he doesn't mind telling me."

Now THAT is a dinner party.  I think Mom and/or Jesus would both understand why they didn't make the cut.

So, just as Wheel eventually just shrugged and said "A: Vanna is not available for dating, and B: just have those letters and pick some different ones," I eventually shrugged and said "Now I've got that Cats in The Cradle song in my head," and also I proposed that when someone says something like Who would you golf with if you could? we all just be cool and acknowledge that yeah, Dad is great and all but we'd really rather golf with The Incredible Hulk and Xena and Lottery Guy and we'd like to do that on Jupiter, thanks, and nobody gets hurt feelings because this is make-believe, after all and The Hulk would probably end up killing Lottery Guy and dating Xena, so it's all pointless.

The Father's Day golf poll actually read:

PLAYING PARTNER: Who is the one person/golfer, past or present, you would most like to play 18 with on Father's Day?
  --  Your Dad -- 27%
  --  Your son/daughter -- 22%
  --  Phil Mickelson -- 10%
  --  Arnold Palmer -- 8%
  --  Spouse -- 8% 
So Tiger Woods wasn't an option, and neither was "Jennifer Aniston, Topless," which I'm pretty sure would have at least beaten out Phil Mickelson, who, for some reason, beat out spouse, and those guys who answered that survey have some real explaining to do to their wives:  "Sure, honey, I mean I know I didn't choose Dad because, well, remember how he made me mow the lawn that time Tommy said the girls' locker room windows' shades were up?  But I'd have chosen you, for sure, I was just in a hurry and didn't read all the choices and why are you packing?"

NESTLE-R could've saved you, guys.

In reality, though, what would this survey say if it didn't mention Father's Day, and also gave real choices? I wonder -- and so I've set up my OWN survey, off to the right there.   We'll see who outranks who.

In the meantime, remember that thanks to Dad finally being honest with me, I'm free to set up my own fantasy foursome, and when The Incredible Hulk asks to play through, you'd probably better let us.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pole vaulting fails, UK Swimmers, and a comparison of what gets you fired at ESPN: It's a Women In Sports Roundup.

This was a tough week to be a women in the world of sports.  Not as tough a week as it might have been if women were, say, playing a sport that is actually destroying their brains but which for some reason people are curiously uncurious about, but still: tough. 

First up, because it is always front-and-center in my mind (that's where dreams come from, I believe): Pole-vaulting.  We all know that I have dreamt of pole-vaulting, but it turns out that others have dreamt of it, too, and sometimes those others are not-unattractive (she's sports-hot) women, like Kati Davis. 

Kati attends the University of Colorado and would be your new national world universe champion in pole vaulting... except that the kind of modern world which allows there to be a national world universe pole vault competition also means that sometimes things will go wrong and, say, the poles that the vaulter intends to use for the competition don't arrive in the city where the vaulter, and the competition, are, until the day of the meet.

That's what happened to Kati, who after trying for four days to get a hold of someone at the airline (which, for the record, is Delta, an airline now revealed as being a rabid antipolevaultite), learned the poles had just gotten to the city where she was, so she dispatched her coaches to get them and then the coaches got stuck in traffic, leaving Kati to compete using someone else's poles, and she didn't place.

Don't cry for Kati, Argentina (or any other country.)  If you Google Kati Davis pole vaulter, you can go pages and pages without getting any results other than this story, which means that Kati Davis might just have been Kerriganed into fame -- Nancy Kerrigan being the only silver medalist anyone in the world can name, and right now there is a pole vaulter who everybody in the world knows, which is not a bad thing if you look at it the right way.  Nancy Kerrigan's worth $8,000,000, after all, and can you name the person who won the gold that year? (It was 1994, and it was estimated that she made about $3,000,000 a year after winning the gold.)

Anyway, Kati Davis, things could be worse: People could be making you feel bad about yourself on Twitter, like what happened to Rebecca Adlington, an Olympic athlete with poor self-esteem, and, having typed that, I can safely say that there is no combination of words in the English language which would sound sillier, other than, maybe "Former presidential candidate Michelle Bachman renounces Swiss citizenship." 

Adlington, shown here attempting to prove that someone can, in fact, fly using nothing but a Union Jack and misplaced sympathy,  announced this week that she's quitting Twitter until the Olympics are over because of mean comments people have made.

She said that, two days ago, but a check on her Twitter account shows that she's still tweeting as of 2 hours ago (I'm typing this on Sunday morning, June 3, at 8:30 CDST.  England's what, six hours ahead of us, so it's about 2 or 3 there in the afternoon, and Becks is no doubt just eating some lunch and tweeting things like

no finished now! Went 4.09 this morning. Ho went 63.5 on 100back. 2.14 in 200heat. 30.5 in50heat. Got finals tonight.

So I kind of think what Rebecca Adlington meant by "I'm quitting Twitter until after the Olympics because of Mean Girls UK" was actually "Pay attention to me."  

In her defense, people are being really mean:  This is one of the things that was tweeted to her after her announcement that she wasn't reading Twitter until after the Games:

How lovely is this person... ": you shark fin nosed derkhead, you belong in that pool you fucking whale."
I had a perfect example of what has been said in the papers this week tweeted to me this morning. I apologise for the swearing when I RT it!

Friday, June 1, 2012

I'm waiting for "Paranoid Quarterback." (So They Made A Song About Sports)

There's this singer out there named "Gotye."  His name is pronounced "gore-ti-yeh," according to this website, which I found by googling "How do you pronounced gotye" and that's the extent of research I'm going to do into that question because it's not really the point of this post. 

The point of this post is to introduce the parody of Gotye's big hit.  The big hit is called Somebody that I Used To Know, and it's apparently a big enough hit that it can be parodied for sports fans, who are typically the last to know about anything cool in the pop world...

...which I say seriously; I'm not really a "sports fan" the way people think of sports fans; I'm a sports fan the way I think of sports fans, which is to say I like making fun of Aaron Rodgers, who probably doesn't care much about it. 

As an example of how unhip sports fans can be, yesterday I had SportsCenter on while I read IO9 on my phone; SportsCenter was serving solely as background noise while I read, because I can't stand silence.  Leave me in a silent room and I start hearing what I'm thinking and nobody needs that.

So on SportsCenter, these two guys -- I don't know who they were so don't ask, but one had white hair and looked kind of like Dennis Farina in Get Shorty -- were talking and one said Radiohead and Not Really Dennis Farina said "You think I don't know Radiohead, don't you?" and the other guy said something dumb and Not Dennis Farina said "OK Computer is among the best rock albums made by an indie band ever," and I instantly wanted to call up Not Dennis Farina and make several points, which would have been:

1.  Name a single song on "OK Computer."
2.  Name another rock album by an indie band, and
3.  "OK Computer" sucked.  I have it.  It's awful.
 So here is the parody song, Some Quarterback I Used To Know

The song is sung from the perspective of Denver and Indy fans who've lost their quarterbacks.  Just for fun (?) let's parse the lyrics!

Now and then I think about when you were drafted
Just a Volunteer player with a pedigree
Told myself that you were right for the team
But secretly I wanted Ryan Leaf
But I was wrong and you're the best I can remember
 At first, I though that couldn't possibly be true.  Is there a fan out there who wanted Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning?  I wondered. So I went and read an article and it turns out (I hadn't remembered) that Leaf finished 3rd in Heisman voting, behind Manning (2) and Charles Woodson, who won it that year, and it was a toss-up back then as to who was going to be the better quarterback.

I got that info from an article which talked about how Leaf obviously was the worse of the two choices, even though it wasn't apparent that would be the case, and then went on to say this:

In this year's draft, there seems to no "next Ryan Leaf" concern for the Colts or Redskins. The consensus top quarterback prospects — Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III — measure up as athletes and young men bound for professional success. There's already the feeling after the Colts presumably take Luck as Manning's successor, the Redskins won't have one ounce of Chargers-like regret when they snag Griffin.
Ha! History is so over-rated!  Just because in the past it appeared that there was no possible way a draft pick could turn out badly and then it in fact turned out horribly far worse than we could have imagined doesn't mean that would ever happen again, right? There's zero percent chance that Griffin will turn out to be a bad choice! Based on zero evidence! We can still say that!

Let's go on:

You can get addicted to a certain kind of success
Like every game was a win, always a win
So when I heard we had let you go
Faith in my team was at an all-time low
But I'll admit the statement you read made me cry
Well, we're on the part where we're talking about Peyton here, and far be it from me to rain on the St. Peyton's Day Parade, but "every game was a win"?

Every game?

So this song exists in the quantum-event universe created by some minor event that then spun off a world where the Saints didn't cripple Brett Favre and then beat St .Peyton in the Super Bowl? 

But I know we had to cut you off
You were awesome but your vertebrae just kept on breakin'
Now we've drafted Andrew Luck
Cause watching Curtis Painter was a little bit rough
And even though you ran so slow
You won a ring, broke some records so we'll hang up your number
I guess all Colts become Broncos
Now you're just some QB that I used to know

Oh, is that an Elway zing? Take that, Guy Who Did Stuff Back When My Dad Made Me Watch Football!

Now, it's Tebow Time! (That's what they'll be saying when Rex Ryan pulls Sanchez in Week 3 after his fourth interception of the game.)

Now and then I think of all the games you screwed us over
Part of me not caring 'cause of all the games you had won
But Elway didn't wanna play that way
Scoring six points every single game
The fans didn't want to let you go
But a four time MVP made you some QB that we used to know

But you didn't have to trade him John
Make out like a playoff victory was barely nothing
And even though we love you Tim
Your quarterback ratings were a little bit rough. 
I'll admit that you are good in red zones
But your throwing really sucks and you're a bit of a fumbler
I guess Jesus doesn't like Broncos
Now you're just some QB that I used to know

It WAS an Elway zing!  Turns out Elway's getting it from both sides in this song. He's the real bad guy, here.  I could point out that it doesn't really matter if Jesus doesn't like the Broncos now that St. Peyton's in town, and anyway, Jesus will have his hands full dealing with the blasphemers and sex maniacs on the Jets.

This has been your Indie Song Sports Parody newsbreak.  I now return you to your regular Friday afternoon.

EXTRA BONUS INFORMATION:  Paranoid Android is track 2 on OK Computer:

 Wikipedia says:

"Paranoid Android" is among the band's longest recorded studio tracks at 6:23. The unconventional multi-section structure of the song was inspired by similarly structured rock songs, such as The Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".[42] The song's musical style was also inspired by the music of the Pixies.[43] Colin Greenwood said that the song is "just a joke, a laugh, getting wasted together over a couple of evenings and putting some different pieces together."[44] The song was written by Yorke after an unpleasant night at a Los Angeles bar, particularly a woman who reacted violently after someone spilled a drink on her.[34] Its title and lyrics reference Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.[43]

Here's that song:

And in retrospect, I realized that I meant Kid A.   I mean, OK Computer IS awful, but I was thinking of Kid A, which is REALLY REALLY awful.  It's the Infinite Jest of Indie Rock Albums.

(NOT DENNIS FARINA: See if you can deconstruct that joke for me.)


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