Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It is what it is

In the classic movie Bull Durham, there's a scene where Crash Davis teaches Ebby Calvin LaLoosh about interview cliches. I think that advice has never been more valuable than it is these days. In this age of accessibility, athletes need to watch what they say because there's always the possibility for it to be taken out of context and misconstrued. The media will do whatever it takes to get a story, and spin things however they want to.

Yesterday Terrell Owens said he's not going to be as open to the media.

"Over the years I've always kind of spoken openly about whatever is being asked with my answers, so the last four or five years I've kind of noticed that and tried taking some steps to prevent some of those things from happening."

Though I have not appreciated his craving for attention, I have always appreciated T.O.'s honesty and I do believe he gets mistreated in the media. The fact of the matter is that athletes get belted for hours by questions left and right, and the thing is most of the questions are the same. Every person has a breaking point, and if you have the slightest bit of desire to go into any detail and say what's on your mind, you are screwed.

T.O. and other athletes and coaches who seem to be vulnerable to this kind of quote manipulation are not without fault. I do understand that there is a fine line to be walked between giving insightful answers and setting yourself up to be misrepresented. The problem is that most people don't know how to walk that line, yet we expect them to.

The biggest problem in all of this is that for the sake of being provocative, and for the sake of reading ease, interview quotes are printed without the questions being asked. Therefore, you have no context, and you're left to your own imagination to fill in the blanks. A perfect case was during T.O.'s interview on Sunday.

ESPN reported:
"Just going with the plays that are called," Owens replied repeatedly to those questions. "Whether I like them or don't, I'm just going with the plays that are called."

The problem I have is that if you read, "Whether I like them or don't, I'm just going with the plays that are called." It makes it sound like he is frustrated and perhaps truly doesn't like the play selection. In actuality, he was asked, "Do you like the plays that are called?" In light of the question being asked, I think this is a more than acceptable answer that implies no frustration on his part. If you lose a football game and are asked that question, what the heck are you supposed to say?

This environment of journalists trying to goad athletes into saying things that can be spun around is a shame. It's a shame because it's given birth to absolutely insipid interview responses.

How many times do you hear a player say, "It is what it is." That phrase is the interviewee's best friend. For one, words come out of your mouth, giving the illusion of a response. Secondly, you don't actually say anything. You don't give any insight and you can't be misquoted. There is an inherent negative judgement given to the speaker when he responds, "No comment." On the other hand, "It is what it is" says effectively the same thing, but has a more positive connotation, which means everything in the forum of public perception. If I was an athlete, I would be really relaxed, which projects an image of honesty, and give the first sentence of what I would really like to say. Then I would pause and say, "but you know what, it is what it is."

Earlier this year, when asked about new teammate Owens, Trent Edwards pointed out that he won't make any judgements on Owens because he knows the media takes things that Owens says out of context, and that he can be misrepresented.

I think that's the thing that gets lost on us all. We can't take anything for face value, and the minute we make a judgement about something that is reported without doing some investigation about the context, we are also to blame.

A good case is that of Raul Ibanez. Earlier this year Ibanez was furious because there was reportedly a blogger who had suggested Ibanez's spike in power numbers suggest he is on performance enhancing drugs.

"Make them accountable. There should be more credibility than some 42-year-old blogger typing in his mother's basement. It demeans everything you've done with one stroke of the pen," said Ibanez.

However, if Ibanez had actually read the article, which I can't seem to find the link to, he would have known that the "blogger typing in his mother's basement" was responding to an email asking if Ibanez was on steroids, and that the blogger actually defended his spike in power, citing changes in factors such as ballparks played in and pitchers faced. The blogger does an excellent job forming a statistical basis for an explanation that says Ibanez is not juicing. When I read the article a few months back, I had no idea why it had created such a firestorm.

Now I know. It's because nobody bothers to check what was actually said, and just likes to go off and make things as crazy and sensational as possible. If we want to believe anything that is said in the media, this all needs to stop. Journalists and media outlets need to stop trying to make money at the expense of the reputations of others.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lookalike Friday 17

Hey everybody! Time for Lookalike Friday. This one comes courtesy of my friend and fan of the Toni Broxton Blog, Andrew.

Andrew said to me one day, "Hey I got a good lookalike for you. I was watching gamecast for the Dodgers game and I thought to myself, boy...doesn't Jon Garland look a lot like...

Professional choreographer Wade Robson?"

I didn't know who Robson was, but when I looked up his picture online, I knew it was legit. Thanks Andrew!

Remember, if you have questions, comments, suggestions or anything at all email me at tonibroxton@gmail.com

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Picks

Slight modification to Thursday Picks. I won't keep track of how I did, nor will I analyze matchups I don't like. The post was getting too long.

Here we go:
Tennessee Titans +3 vs New York Jets
This game should be close and low scoring. Both teams would rather run and not pass unless forced to. I think mentally it's got to be tough for the Jets to keep up their pace and for the Titans to go 0-3. The Jets might win, but it'll be by less than 3. More likely I think Mark Sanchez has his first bad game as a pro and the Titans will pick up their first win.

Houston Texans -4 vs Jacksonville Jaguars
This Jaguars defense is going to give up big points to the Texans. It's going to be playing from behind all day, and though both teams will score a bunch, the Texans will dominate the entire game.

Detroit Lions +6.5 vs Washington Redskins
The Redskins are playing very poorly. Though the Lions aren't doing much better themselves, I think Detroit is going to be able to squeak out a win (or at least keep it close).

Indianapolis Colts +2.5 vs Arizona Cardinals
The Colts +anything and I'm taking it. I think the Colts will win this one easily. Peyton will get more help from his running game this week, be it Addai or Donald Brown.

Carolina Panthers +9 vs Dallas Cowboys
This is tricky because Tony Romo came off a rough week and should probably have extra motivation to play well. Also, the Panthers are absolutely awful when they play from behind. However, I think the Panthers will score early and run the ball into the ground. They may get beat at the end, but they will at least beat the spread.

Atlanta Falcons +4 vs New England Patriots
I probably wouldn't bet for the Falcons. Tom Brady will probably be able to pick apart the secondary, but I just have this feeling that the Patriots defense is not going to be able to stop Burner Turner. He's going to burn his way to 2 scores and 100+ yards. The only thing that keeps me from betting this one is that the Patriots might be able to outscore the Falcons.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NFL Power Rankings Week 2

I thought it would be fun to do NFL Power Rankings, so here it is:

Toni Broxton Week 2 Power Rankings

1. Indianapolis Colts (2-0): Peyton Manning's ability to make receivers play above their normal ability is truly a gift to behold. This running game will come along soon, and the defense showed two weeks now it can get it done when the time comes.

2. Minnesota Vikings (2-0): As much as I dislike Brett Favre, this team is playing really well, and Brett Favre knows his role - behind Adrian Peterson, who is absolutely electric. Have yet to be tested, though.

3. New York Giants (2-0): Will Mario Manningham rise up to claim the throne of New York star wide receiver vacated by Plaxico Burress? We shall see soon, but he's off to a great start.

4. New Orleans Saints (2-0): Defense? Who cares! Drew Brees tore apart what was supposed to be one of the better defenses of the league. It remains to be seen if this Saints team will be able to sustain their pace the whole season and win a game where they turn the ball over a couple of times.

5. Atlanta Falcons (2-0): Giving Matty Ice a big time tight end has so far proven to be an amazing move.

6. New York Jets (2-0): This Jets defense is legit. Mark Sanchez has to be the 09 Joe Flacco and just not screw up.

7. Baltimore Ravens (2-0): Speaking of Joe Flacco, the Ravens offense is getting better each week. Ray Rice, Le'Ron McClain, and Willis McGahee provide the backfield depth and Todd Heap fell back on the face of the earth after having fallen off of it last year.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1): Titans and Bears the first two weeks? The defensive matchups have to get easier from this point on.

9. Dallas Cowboys (1-1): This team is one less Tony Romo mistake away from being 2-0. Will the injury to MB3 hamper him all season?

10. Buffalo Bills (1-1): The Bills have a dynamic running game that will only get better when Marshawn Lynch comes back, and if T.O. can get even more involved in the offense, this team could do some damage.

11. San Diego Chargers (1-1): Tough loss last week to Baltimore at home. Though Sproles puts up good numbers in LT's absence, it is always nice to split the workload.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1): Injuries are going to bag this team all year. McNabb and his now famous McRib, Westbrook's ankle, DeSean Jackson has a groin thing, Asante Samuel has a neck issue. The Eagles are lucky to have an early bye in week 4, but can't look past the Chiefs, awful as they are.

13. San Francisco 49ers (2-0): Usually great players don't make great coaches, but Mike Singletary is proving people wrong. This team will definitely put up a good fight for the NFC West. They were lucky to catch Arizona still on the Super Bowl hangover and Seattle with an injury to Hasselbeck.

14. Houston Texans (1-1): If Schaub and Andre Johnson can stay healthy, that's all this team needs. Steve Slaton has yet to show up, but will eventually.

15. Tennessee Titans (0-2): How can an 0-2 team be ranked so high? Bad matchups for the first couple of weeks. Plus they don't feed the LenWhale enough. Food and the ball. The dude needs his girth!

16. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1): This team is one fluke play away from being 2-0.

17. Green Bay Packers (1-1): This team has issues on the O-Line, can't run the ball for crap, and the defense is still trying to figure out how to play like it's 2007. That having been said, Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings will never EVER again have a game together where Jennings doesn't catch at least one ball.

18. Arizona Cardinals (1-1): The faster they can shake off the Super Bowl hangover, the better. They showed signs against Jacksonville this week.

19. New England Patriots (1-1): The fact of the matter is that this team is one Leodis McKelvin fumble away from being 0-2. Patriots teams of old would have torn the Jets apart for not worshipping the ground on which they stood. This Patriots team has no running game, critical injuries on defense, and their average age is higher than that of a community center bingo game.

20. Oakland Raiders (1-1): This team showed a lot of character coming back to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City. Why they would run Darren McFadden 12 times and throw 24 times with JaMarcus Russell is beyond me. It should have been the other way around, especially in a game the Raiders led most of the time.

21. Miami Dolphins (0-2): Had a rough first couple of weeks, but the running game looks good. The schedule can only get easier for them.

22. Chicago Bears (1-1): Cutler has nobody really to throw to outside of Greg Olsen and the defense lost their heart and brain. Not to mention Matt Forte hasn't showed up for the season yet.

23. Denver Broncos (2-0): They flat out got lucky vs the Bengals and they played the Browns. I'll rank this team higher when they impress me.

24. Seattle Seahwaks (1-1): Hasselbeck injury really hurts, as this team was looking alright. Surprised to see Edgerrin James not mixed into the play more. Maybe he will be going forward.

25. Washington Redskins (1-1): What an average team. There's nothing to say about them.

26. Carolina Panthers (0-2): You have to think this team will snap out of it eventually. Despite Jake Delhomme's ineptitude, this team is way too talented at other skill positions.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2): Maybe whatever Fred Taylor provided for this team was the difference?

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2): At least the offensive side can put up numbers. Defense has been terrible so far.

29. St. Louis Rams (0-2): I just don't get why this team is so awful. Bulger and Steven Jackson are legitmately good players. Spagnuolo should have improved the defense, but maybe they need a couple of years to get the right personnel.

30. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2): It's going to be tough for this team not to finish last in the AFC West.

31. Detroit Lions (0-2): The Browns and Lions are both pretty awful, but it came down to who is better at major positions: Stafford vs Quinn, Calvin Johnson vs Braylon Edwards, Jamal Lewis vs Kevin Jones. Lions win. Something they haven't done in a while.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-2): Mangini has his work cut out for him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wildcat Dilemma

So let's say you are like Philadelphia and Miami, with 2 traditional QBs and 1 wildcat type QB. (Philadelphia - McNabb, Kolb, Vick; Miami - Pennington, Henne, Pat White)

You have a dilemma on your hands. What order do you list the QBs on the depth chart?

1. Traditional QB
2. Traditional QB2
3. Wildcat QB

If you do this, you can't use your Wildcat QB until the 4th quarter. Why? The NFL has a rule that says if you use your #3 QB before the 4th quarter, the #1 and #2 QBs on the depth chart can't play until the 4th quarter.

1. Traditional QB
2. Wildcat QB
3. Traditional QB2

If you do this and if your #1 QB gets hurt, then you HAVE to use your Wildcat QB (who is probably not better as a QB than your second best traditional QB) for the rest of the game until the 4th quarter.

So what do you do? The answer seems so simple to me:
List your wildcat QB as a wide receiver or running back. Then they can come and go as they please.

I thought maybe a player listed in the QB depth chart has to be on the field at all times for offensive plays, but that's not the case. Miami runs packages all the time without Pennington on the field.

Easy. Right?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thursday Picks update

Eagles, pick: $15 (wrong)
Panthers +6; $15 (wrong)
Vikings -10; $25 (correct)
Packers -9; $10 (wrong)
Raiders +3; $10 (correct)
49ers +2; $10 (correct)
Steelers -3; $15 (wrong)
Colts -3; $25 (correct)

$10 parlay to win about $900* (wrong)

$10 on a moneyline parlay on:
Vikings, Packers, Steelers, Colts (wrong)

$20 to win $70 on a 5 team teaser of 7 points on:
Patriots, Packers, Vikings, Steelers, Colts (wrong)

Risk: $165
Payout: $108.63
Net: -$56.37

It's a good thing this is all pretend haha.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lookalike Friday 16

Booyeah! Time for Lookalike Friday.

This week we have Hall of Fame point guard for the Utah Jazz, John Stockton. I saw him at the ceremony and thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

Mr. Bean aka Rowan Atkinson?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I can't believe I used to worship this guy

I sure hate to kick a man when he's down, but the more and more I watch Michael Jordan's train wreck of a speech, the more and more I can't believe how self absorbed this guy is. I don't know which famous Chicagan thinks more people are out to get him: Michael Jordan or Steve Bartman. Honestly the best part of the speech was when he read off of a piece of paper at the end. That part was genuinely good. He should have done that for the entire speech. Jordan shooting from the hip killed not only his reputation, but also the evening as a whole.

He didn't say one genuinely nice thing about even his own family. He said his 5 foot 5 brother is an example of "small things coming in small packages." WTF?!?! The closest he came to a compliment:

"My mom, what else can I say about my mom?...She's a rock, she's unbelievable...she constantly keeps me focused on the good things about life..."
so far so good...
"...how you're perceived publicly, second thought, take a pause, think about things that you do...it all came from my mom."

Hmmm...so thanking your mom for your tact in perhaps the most tactless speech of all time? Maybe you should have left that part out of the speech, Mike. Unless that was a jab at her too. It certainly would have fit the theme of the rest of the speech.

I was a huge fan of Michael Jordan as a child because of his amazing skills on the basketball court. I still definitely respect what he has done as a basketball player, but I'm glad I don't know him personally.

I just hope Kobe Bryant learns from this debacle because he and Jordan seem to have similar personalities. I hope when it comes time for the Kobe Bryant Hall of Fame induction speech, he is able to conduct himself with more class and dignity than Jordan.

Thursday Picks

A new special section for the Toni Broxton Blog.

I love betting on sports (only where legal, obviously). For the football season, every Thursday I will post what games I would bet on and how much, if I lived in Vegas. I very much wish sports betting was legal in all 50 states, and hope that will one day be the case. In the meantime, this will do.

Mostly my picks will be from the NFL because I neither feel incredibly confident in my college football knowledge nor do I enjoy non-Cal college football in general.

Ground rules: I will assume standard payouts (-110) when calculating how much I would have won or lost after the games. Moneyline parlays are stated, but may not have been possible if no moneyline bet is offered. Parlay and teaser winnings estimates provided by bodog.com. Lines are provided by espn.com

Without further ado...

Thursday Picks for NFL week 2

*lines as of Thursday, September 17

Saints at Eagles: even
Pick: Eagles, $15
You have no idea what Kevin Kolb brings to the table. The coaching staff seems to think he is capable, but I'm not sold. Who I am sold on is Sean McDermott, new defensive coordinator and Jeff Garcia. The defense will keep the Saints within reach, and if Kolb falters, Garcia will play well enough to get them the win. McNabb only passed for 79 yards last week. The weapons around him remain.

Panthers at Falcons: Falcons -6
Pick: Panthers +6, $15
The Falcons don't have the same pass rush the Eagles do and DeAngelo Williams will be used more often, as the Panthers will be able to get back to the way they like to play. They may lose, but by less than 6.

Vikings at Lions: Vikings -10
Pick: Vikings -10, $25
The Lions are definitely more than 10 points worse than the Vikings. The problem for the Lions is that even if the Vikings rest Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor can destory them also. The Vikings backups and defense can maintain a 10 point lead against the Lions.

Bengals at Packers: Packers -9
Pick: Packers -9, $10
Not a terribly confident pick here, just because I think beating anyone by 9 in the NFL takes one of the 5 best over one of the 5 worst. I don't think the Bengals are one of the 5 worst teams in the league just yet.

Texans at Titans: Titans -7
Pick: none
Both teams are capable of much more than they showed Week 1. I have a feeling the Texans might be a Jekyll and Hyde type of team this year. Will probably stay away from them unless against obviously weaker teams.

Raiders at Chiefs: Chiefs -3
Pick: Raiders +3, $10
Not a confident pick, but the Raiders can at least run the ball on the Chiefs. The Chiefs won't be able to be as productive in the air as on the ground, but Oakland did a much better job against the Chargers running backs than people expected.

Patriots at Jets: Patriots -4
Pick: none
Usually home underdogs are a good bet to take a chance on, but this one has too many unknowns. I don't know truly how much better the Jets defense is than last year. I don't know how Mark Sanchez is going to play. I don't know what impact Jerod Mayo's absence will have on the Patriots defense. Too many question marks.

Rams at Redskins: Redskins -10
Pick: none
I could see it definitely going either way.

Cardinals at Jaguars: Jaguars -3
Pick: none
The Jaguars will run all over the Cardinals, but the Jaguars secondary is nothing to write home about. It should come down to turnovers, and I don't feel confident enough to bet on it.

Seahawks at 49ers: Seahawks -2
Pick: 49ers +2; $10
The 49ers were able to keep Arizona's passing game in check, and they should have enough offense to pull it off. Plus they have good momentum from the win last week.

Buccaneers at Bills: Bills -5
Pick: none
Too much of a toss up.

Steelers at Bears: Steelers -3
Pick: Steelers -3; $15
The Bears just don't have enough talent at wide receiver to come back when they're down, and the Steelers should be able to gain and hold a lead with Urlacher out. The Steelers running game will get back on track this week.

Ravens at Chargers: Chargers -3
Pick: none
Should be a nice, close game with scores in the teens for both teams. Don't know which way it'll go, though.

Browns at Broncos: Broncos -3
Pick: none
This one is also too much of a toss up. Leaning toward the Broncos, but not confident.

Giants at Cowboys: Cowboys -3
Pick: none
NFC East matchups are always tough, and this one is no different. Though, if I had to bet, I would bet for the Giants.

Colts at Dolphins: Colts -3
Pick: Colts -3; $25
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will get their rushing yards, but I don't think the Dolphins have an answer for Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. They might also be so worried about the passing game that newly rejuvenated Jose Addai might be able to bust some big runs.

Eagles, pick: $15
Panthers +6; $15
Vikings -10; $25
Packers -9; $10
Raiders +3; $10
49ers +2; $10
Steelers -3; $15
Colts -3; $25

I'd put $10 to win about $900* on a parlay on all of those picks, just in case.

I'd also throw $10 on a moneyline parlay on:
Vikings, Packers, Steelers, Colts

I'd also risk $20 to win $70 on a 5 team teaser of 7 points on:
Patriots, Packers, Vikings, Steelers, Colts

Risk: $165

Remember, this is strictly a hypothetical scenario. If I lived in Las Vegas, it would not be, but since I don't, I can only pretend. If you win money in Vegas using my advice and you offer me a cut, I will most certainly not turn it down.

*Was unable to find Eagles pick. A 7 team parlay of the other games was 1:80 payout, so I figured adding in a pick would probably boost it to about 1:90.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Crystal Ball (nevermind)

One day some genius football coach will take advantage of this, and you can say that you read it first here on the Toni Broxton Blog:

Let's say your team is trailing and time is running out. They are trying to save time by running out of bounds after each play. You've seen plenty of games decided by the runner not being able to get out of bounds and the clock ticks down and the team either has no time left or not enough time.

I asked myself many years ago:
How come the runner doesn't just lateral the ball out of bounds? Once you've got the yardage you need, it's about preserving the clock. If you just toss it behind you out of bounds, it's considered a fumble and the clock stops until the next snap.

As far as I can tell from looking at the NFL rules page on their website, this would work.


The only risk you run is a defensive player getting in between the runner and the sideline and picking up the fumble, but honestly what kind of idiot can't toss the ball hard enough to get it out of bounds without it getting stolen.

Eventually someone will take advantage of this, and one day they will make a rule change for it.

According to NFL Rulebook Rule 4, Section 3, Article 10:

Article 10:
A team is not permitted to conserve time inside of one minute of either half by committing any of the following acts: fouls by either team that prevent the snap (i.e., false start, encroachment, etc.), intentional grounding, an illegal forward pass thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage with the intent to conserve time, throwing a backward pass out of bounds with the intent to conserve time, and any other intentional foul that causes the clock to stop.

Penalty: Loss of five yards unless a larger distance penalty is applicable. When actions referred to above are committed by the offensive team with the clock running, officials will run 10 seconds off the game clock before permitting the ball to be put in play on the ready for play signal. The clock will start on the ready for play signal. If the offensive team has timeouts remaining, it will have the option of using a timeout in lieu of a 10-second runoff. If the action is by the defense, the play clock will be reset to 40 seconds and the game clock will start on the ready signal. If the defense has time outs remaining, it will have theoption of using a time out in lieu of the game clock being started.

No wonder. It seemed so obvious to me to do that. I guess too obvious.

You could still do it before 1 min left, which could still be useful, and you could try it if you think you can sell that it's not an intentional fumble out of bounds. Intent is so hard to judge that I think if you have nothing to lose, why not give it a shot?

In either case, the rules outline on the NFL website sucks. It's so imcomplete. I had to find a .pdf version.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Are you serious?!?!

I'm sure by now you've seen the profanity laced tirade that Serena Williams delivered to the line judge who called a foot fault on her on her second serve during her match with Kim Clijsters. The verbal abuse led to a point penalty, which ended the match, giving Clijsters the win.

Who knows if Williams, down a set and pushing for a tiebreaker, would have won had she not been called for the foot fault. But I don't think that's the point.

I'm no tennis buff, but I don't think that foot faults in crucial match situations on a second serve are common. Especially when it doesn't seem to be an egregious foot fault, given the video evidence.

It doesn't matter. The way Serena Williams went off on the line judge is not the way a human being should treat another, regardless of the call made. This sets a terrible example for young people everywhere, and tarnishes the image that both Serena and Venus have strived to achieve. A stream of angry F-bombs by one of the most visible African-American tennis players in history probably isn't making the NAACP think of an award to give in her honor.

To further compound it, Serena Williams offers very little in the way of an apology. She cites her "passion" and "emotion" as reasons why she "handled the situation poorly." Passion and emotion make you celebrate a little classlessly. Passion and emotion make you tell the judge you disagree with him/her and maybe call them an idiot. Passion and emotion don't make you go ape shit on someone, think about it some more, and then go back for more, all when they are saying nothing.

Don't get me wrong, I think it was absolutely wrong of the line judge to make that call. I am on the side of the argument that sometimes judges and referees and umpires should abstain from making minor calls, given the particular situation of a competition. Let her get away with the foot fault, if the match goes on into the third set, then call it on her right away on a FIRST serve.

Some claim that arguing with the umpire is a part of the sport. Some point to John McEnroe's antics as proof of the acceptance of swearing and anger as part of the culture of tennis. I do agree that arguing is part of the sport. It's part of any sport that has a judge or ref. But swearing, throwing rackets, throwing tantrums, making threats, should be as much a part of tennis as beanballs in baseball and chop blocks in football.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lookalike Friday 15

Oh yeah, Lookalike Friday time!

This week we have Astros First Baseman Aaron Boone, who recently came back from heart surgery. Yankee fans remember him from blasting the game winning home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS over the Red Sox. I always thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

Johnny Knoxville?

For some reason, there aren't too many good pictures of Aaron Boone, and not too many pictures of Johnny Knoxville where he's not wearing sunglasses. Hence, this rather un-Jackass-ian pensive look from Mr. Knoxville.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No Funds Left (for their fans)

I promised myself I wouldn't rant too much on my blog, but today is going to be a rare exception.

I have no problem with a business trying to protect its brand and optimizing its revenue, especially if its product is as hot as Allison Stokke.

So here we have the NFL. The NFL does perhaps the most things possible and goes to the greatest lengths to make people spend money. And it works.

1. DirecTV: If you want NFL Sunday Ticket, you have to get DirecTV. In 2009 they paid the NFL $4 billion to extend their contract to 2014. Who wants to get satellite TV? I don't. But I do for NFL Sunday Ticket, and I'm sure I'm not the only one out there. It sucks, but whan can you do?

2. Blackouts: If you have a local team and their game doesn't sell out, that game is blacked out on TV. So for example, let's say you like a team that sometimes doesn't sell out its games, like the Arizona Cardinals. If you live in Arizona and the Cardinals game doesn't sell out, you don't get to watch the game at home. It sucks BIG TIME. Also, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the two bay area teams (49ers or Raiders) will probably have a home game. That means you will almost never see a doubleheader on Sundays because if a local team is playing on a channel (let's say CBS) then the other channel (let's say FOX) can't carry ANY other football game. This is precisely why, as an Eagles fan living in Los Angeles, I do NOT want an LA football team. I don't want any football to get blacked out.

3. The NFL Network: If that wasn't enough, a few years ago the NFL created its own network and started putting games on it on Thursdays. So if you don't have the NFL Network, you won't get to watch the game. To make matters worse, not all cable carriers carry the NFL Network, so you couldn't even see it if you wanted to. Of course, the NFL Network is on DirecTV.

Would it really hurt the NFL to at least get rid of the blackout rules? The NFL Network and Sunday Ticket at least make business sense. The blackout rules are just mean. I don't think there are too many people who are borderline between "should I go to the game" and "should I watch it at home". Chances are people who are going to the game aren't going because they are scared it might get blacked out. They would go regardless. You're doing such a massive disservice to so many for such a seemingly minimal gain. A gain you couldn't even quantify if you wanted to!

But alas, what can you do? The NFL has its fans firmly by the gonads and won't let go. They won't even loosen up their grip.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I honestly don't know what was more painful, Oregon running back LeGarette Blount's punch of Boise State player Byron Hout or hearing that he was suspended the rest of the season.

I don't know all the details of what contributed to the decision to punish him for the entire rest of the season, but here's a few things I thought:

1. Hout gets no suspension? We're talking about sportsmanship being violated, and although Hout only verbally taunted Blount, it was a clear violation of sportsmanship nonetheless. Not suspending Hout sets an AWFUL precedent: Setting off an angry opponent is fine, but losing your temper is not. Hout is just as culpable as Blount and should be suspended a minimum of 3 games.

2. Whatever budding NFL career LeGarette Blount had, it's basically over. The only way LeGarette Blount plays in the NFL is if he loses some weight, plays in the UFL, signs a practice squad contract and works his way up. All while getting into less trouble than God's gift to the world Tim Tebow.

3. Chip Kelly and Mike Bellotti just saved LeGarette Blount's ass. Huh? Yeah. Do you think Idaho law enforcement can go after and convict a guy who has officially now lost everything he's worked for his entire life? LeGarette Blount may not play football ever again, but at least he won't be facing any criminal charges. At least now if he tries to make a career change, he won't have official criminal action hanging over his head. As it stands, five years from now less than 1% of the population will know who LeGarette Blount is.

4. I wonder if the Pac-10 would have suspended him further if Oregon only suspended him like 1 game. Can they do that? Has there ever been a situation where the school didn't sufficiently punish a player for bad behavior?

It's a sad situation all the way around, and it'll be interesting to see where the Ducks go from here. One thing I know is that if they ever play Boise St. ever again, it'll be too soon.

Lookalike Friday 14

Oh yeah, Lookalike Friday time!

This week we have Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge. I thought to myself, boy...doesn't he look a lot like...

Mac from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, played by Rob McElhenny?

*Bonus Brad Lidge picture!

1. Isn't it a coincidence that they are both associated with Philadelphia?
2. Does anyone enjoy It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia? My old co-workers all were crazy for it, so I started watching and I didn't think it was that great. I find it to be a more offensive, less funny version of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I wonder if it gets better as the seasons go on.

Have a great weekend and enjoy all the great college football games.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Safety First

Everyone knows David Wright got beaned in the head hardcore style a couple of weeks ago from Lookalike Friday Alum Matt Cain. Some may have heard about this new batting helmet that he said he would be willing to wear because it can withstand a 100mph pitch. By withstand, I'm guessing that means the helmet stays intact and the wearer suffers damage less than that necessary to cause a concussion.

I looked up what this legendary batting helmet looked like. Ladies and gentlemen the Rawlings S100.

I had read that players were reluctant to wear the hat because it made them look silly. Ryan Dempster said he felt like it was his "own bobblehead night" while he wore it. I saw the above picture of the batting helmet and thought, "OH God! Here comes the athlete invincibility complex. If I were a baseball player I would wear this thing in a heartbeat."

I watched some video from Rawlings executives outlining the safety features of the helmet and wondered why they never showed a picture with someone wearing it. I got my answer tonight.

Here is David Wright in his first game back from injury and immediately I thought, "OH God! No wonder they don't wanna wear that thing. It makes you look like the Great Gazoo."

After looking at the size of the helmet I was actually disappointed that it wouldn't protect you from something worse than a 100mph fastball. I would have expected something like that to protect you from a falling piano or a hand grenade. The fact that Jon Broxton could still hurt you despite wearing that helmet is a bit disappointing.

Would I still wear this helmet? Absolutely. I would rather look like a fool than risk my career. But I think I would swap out to the more traditional hard hat when on the basepaths.

I think they really need to consider making at least some kind of reinforced hat for pitchers to wear. I'm talking about less protection than the hats first and third base coaches wear, but more protection than a wool 5950 New Era cap.