Thursday, February 28, 2008

Is There Such a Thing As Too Many Cheerleader Pics?

Let's see. I'm heading out for another long weekend in Vegas. What could I possibly post that will appease my readers until then?

Beginning today, the UCLA Bruins basketball team has a very important and difficult road trip in the state of Arizona. It's important because they likely need to win out in the Pac-10 if they want any chance of a #1 seed; and it's difficult not only because they'll be facing two Arizona teams that are fighting for their tournament lives, but also because the Bruins will have to take the court without the support of these girls:

Enjoy your weekend all.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Whither Goest Blackballed Barry?

The first pitches of live spring training games have been thrown, and still Barry Bonds finds himself without a team. Right now, his agent Jeff Borris is traveling from park to park and hoping to sell someone on Barry's still potent stick. It's like he's filming a BangBus movie and trying to see what GM he can persuade to get into the van. Unfortunately for Bonds, so far he has no takers despite the fact that even at age 43, he still got on base 48% of the time he stepped to the plate; and it's now Roger Clemens and not him that's the performance enhancing villain du jour. But as the season gets closer and teams realize that their lineup isn't the machine they'd envisioned in the winter meetings, Bonds should start getting more consideration. Even then, his options will be limited. Here is a look at possible destinations for Barry, listed from least to most likely, by my own guesstimation:

San Diego Padres
Reasons to sign: Right now, the Padres projected left fielder is either Scott Hairston or Chase Headley, who hasn't played in the outfield since college. Bonds has hit more home runs against the Padres than any other team, so maybe there's something about the San Diego parks that bring out the best in him. Tijuana is just a 15 minute drive from the park, making the acquisition of steroids, ephedra, HGH, viagra, etc. a breeze.
Reasons not to sign: While San Diego fans are known to be laid back, Barry Bonds has been one of the few players to elicit actual hatred from the home crowd. San Diegans won't start rooting for Barry just because he's wearing a Padres jersey.
Verdict: Padres fans would rather see an adopted golden retreiver from Petco in left field than Barry Bonds. If Kevin Towers were to sign Bonds, it would likely be his last move as GM.

Texas Rangers
Reasons to sign: According to Sportsline, the Rangers will once again go with Frank Catalanotto at DH and bat him 9th. Ninth...for the designated hitter? Rangers Ballpark is a launching pad in the summertime, and Bonds could give some much needed pop to a relatively anemic lineup. Sammy Sosa played for the Rangers last year, so fans are already accustomed to being asked to cheer for a player who's assumed to have used performance enhancing drugs.
Reasons not to sign: If Bonds were to sign with the Rangers, it would mean that he wouldn't get the chance to face Rangers' pitching.
Verdict: To me, this move seems to make a lot of sense, which means there's no way Tom Hicks will ever do it.

Oakland A's
Reasons to sign: Right now, the A's have a triple A team playing in a crappy stadium, and there is no reason that anyone would want to watch them play. With Bonds, the A's could tap into his Bay Area fan base. In going from San Francisco to Oakland, Bonds would save a ton on shipping costs for his Barcalounger.
Reasons not to sign: Even with an incentive-laden contract, Bonds would still cost money, and the A's are loathe to spend more than minor league money. If attendance plummets further this season, the A's can always just tarp off another section of seats to give the appearance of a denser crowd.
Verdict: Even though Bonds excels in Beane's much coveted metric of on base percentage, the A's appear content to just enjoy profits through revenue sharing without worrying about such nonsense as fielding a winning team.

Japanese League
Reasons to sign: Already passed Hank Aaron, now it's time to go after Sadaharu Oh. Yen is performing well against the dollar of late. Japanese women are already used to seeing guys with tiny testicles.
Reasons not to sign: In Japan, when you ask for "the cream," they hand you a bukakke video. In the Japanese league, you actually have to hustle.
Verdict: Not as clazy as it sounds.

Tampa Bay Rays (nee Devil Rays)
Reasons to sign: For the Rays, it sure would be nice if fans came to a game other than when the Red Sox or Yankees were in town. Bonds could buy booze for all the kids on the roster. Florida has no income tax, meaning one fewer risk for investigation into tax evasion. Pedro Gomez already has a retirement home in Florida, so that works out nicely for him.
Reasons not to sign: If ESPN starts showing up to Tampa Bay games, someone might notice that in an effort to cut costs, the Rays have been dressing up little leaguers, throwing them out on the field, and paying them in jolly ranchers.
Verdict: What have they got to lose? It's not like either party had any dignity to begin with.

So I guess it comes down to Tampa Bay and Japan for Barry. Neither really qualifies as Major League Baseball and they both play in hideous domed stadiums. Both are known for having great strip clubs, but only in Japan can you get a girl dressed up like your favorite anime character. Advantage: Japan. Sayonara, Barry.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Can Look at a Car's Headlights And Tell You Exactly Which Way It's Coming.

Earlier today, the Auto Club 500 was postponed after 87 laps and continual rain delays. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods defeated Stewart Cink to win the Match Play championship. Neither event is really of particular interest to me, but it does give me the segue to post some footage from this classic routine:


Bruce Pearl Would Like to Run the Spread Offense With Erin Andrews

March is right around the corner and this is usually the time of year that serious contenders for the NCAA championship start playing their best basketball in preparation for the tournament. However more than anything, this past week has exposed flaws in all of this year's favorites to win the title. Fortunately for these teams, recent history- as illustrated by Florida the last two seasons- has shown that losses in late February can be overcome. Nonetheless, if these hopeful champions want to realize their dreams, they all have something to work on over the next few weeks.

A few observations from the day in hoops:

I've never seen a John Calipari practice, but I can only assume he runs it like one long pickup game. That's the only way I can explain that Memphis' entire offensive scheme seems to be "whoever has the ball- try to take your guy off the dribble." Granted, their guards are quick enough that it's not the worst strategy; but once they encounter a team that plays good interior help defense, they're in trouble. The other problem with playing like it's a pickup game is that there aren't any free throws on the playground, and it looks like the Tigers don't want to shoot any in regular games either. Memphis is still in line to get a #1 seed, but if I were a fan of any of the teams ranked #5-8 right now, I'd really be hoping my team was given the #2 seed in the Tigers bracket.

UCLA managed to rally to win today, but they have some red flags of their own on offense. Namely, their outside shooting has completely abandoned them. Josh Shipp is now in an 0 for 20 slump from beyond the arc and looks very hesitant with the ball in his hands. Combine that with what have been some very stagnant offensive sets (From the first team, at least. Lorenzo Mata-Real has actually provided a lot of energy and motion for the team recently) and you've got a team that struggles to score in the halfcourt game. Fortunately for the Bruins, they force a lot of turnovers to get points in transition and Kevin Love is able to sell contact to get to the free throw line. Still, if they want to return to the Final Four, somebody (ideally Shipp, but otherwise Westbrook) is going to have to become a viable threat from outside.

Speaking of Love, he looked very lethargic throughout the game today. Actually, he looked downright sleepy. I don't know if he was out at a karaoke bar with Maarty Leunen all night or what, but he certainly wasn't in any condition to be on a basketball court. At one point in the first half, he took a hit under the basket and stayed on the floor for an extended period of time. I don't think he was hurt either. I'm pretty sure he was taking a nap.

The Pac-10 has been spending the last month trumpeting themselves as the best conference in the country, but I want to dispel that myth right now. For one, Washington State, Arizona State, and Oregon are all playing a worse brand of basketball now than they were a month ago. But more importantly, you can't be the best conference in basketball if you have the worst officiating in basketball; and this season, the zebras have established a new low. Trying to figure out how a Pac-10 official is going to call any given play is like trying to guess where the Plinko chip is going to land in Price is Right.

With all of the coaches, players, and fans yelling at you for every perceived mistake, I never understood why anyone would want to be a referee- unless maybe you hated basketball players growing up and this was your way to get revenge. It seems like such a thankless job. But then I learned today about one of the fringe benefits of being an official- reach arounds with nubile, young cheerleaders:

Combine that with the fact that you can be utterly incompetent and still never get fired, and maybe it's not that bad of a gig afterall...

Wendy Nix was working the sidelines for ESPN during the Indiana mutiny at Northwestern, which I think is a good assignment for her, as she is "Midwestern hot." I can't really figure her look out. She's either a former big girl who lost a lot of weight or she's a former skinny girl who's now on the precipice of getting big- kind of like a one-time beauty pageant contestant when she becomes a housewife...

As for the Hoosiers, it looks like it is not only his players but also his coaches who are distraught about Kelvin Sampson's dismissal. At this point, it's hard to imagine Indiana being able to put it together and make a deep run into the tournament. I think their only hope might be if Kelvin Sampson puts on a disguise and coaches from the stands, a la Bobby Valentine for the Mets back in the day.

I didn't see the Kansas/Oklahoma State game, but just judging by the box score, it looks like the only reason Kansas lost is because they let a 5'11" guard go to the line 18 times. I'm not sure how that happens, but in a season that features guards such as Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Darren Collison, Jerryd Bayless, Russell Westbrook, and DJ Augustin, there are plenty of reasons for Jayhawks fans to be nervous about another early exit in March.

So now Tennessee is the new number one team in the land. It's a ranking they've certainly earned by winning at Memphis, and their victory today was even more impressive when you consider that Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl was more focused on penetrating Erin Andrews' defense than that of Memphis. I know Tennessee is known for their hound dogs, but let's take it down a notch, ok Bruce? You're coming off greasier than that bronzing cream you rub on your body before each game. Here's a snippet from one of their encounters today. Check out the Berman eyes he gives her:

I do kind of like the role reversal tho. Usually it's the ESPN personalities who are drooling over the coaches. Maybe it's time for coaches to return the favor.

Just don't pull that stunt with Erin Andrews while Brent Musburger is calling the game or he'll whoop your ass.

(photo from The Big Lead)

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Finally a Video Game That's Fundamentally Sound

I got next.

(HT: Deadspin)


Hook 'Em Horny

I was just looking over my stats, and I'd like to say a quick Howdy to all the visitors coming from the University of Texas message board this morning. Let's see- what could be attracting people from a college message board? I don't seem to recall giving my insight on offensive line recruits out of north Texas District 9-5A just yet. I know my 2006 Sun Bowl coverage was riveting, but that's pretty old news. Ah hell, I reckon you just stopped by for the cheerleader pics.

Hope you like what you see. Y'all come back now, ya hear?


The Nightcap, Lohan Edition: Some Like It Hot. Some Like It Used

It looks like after an extended period of longing and hope, Mark Cuban will finally get the guy he wanted, Jason Kidd, on his squad. While Kidd will certainly be able to contribute to the Mavaricks, I have a feeling his play in Dallas will be a bit like the series of topless photos Lindsay Lohan took in tribute to Marilyn Monroe: Some flashes of brilliance, but definitely showing the wear and tear from some rough years, and certainly paling in comparison to the original.

(And yes, I know that my attempt to come up with a metaphor to justify including a Lohan picture was even more transparent than the cloth Lindsay is holding in front of her. But in my defense....boobs.)

In other drug user news: Eric Gagne gave a vague apology to his Milwaukee teammates for "a distraction that shouldn't be taking place." And he's right- there's no reason at all why anyone should have signed Gagne and his batting practice fastball to a major league contract.

Andy Pettitte also spent the day apologizing to anyone who's ever watched a baseball game, C-SPAN, or the 700 club. He also said that the scrutiny and criticism that he and Roger Clemens have received should serve as a deterrent to other athletes who might be considering using performance enhancing drugs, as nobody would want to go through what Roger and he did. Pettitte then excused himself so he could cash his $600,000 biweekly check from the Yankees.

The Angels' Francisco Rodriguez is upset with the organization for refusing to offer him a lucrative, long-term contract and has insinuated that he will leave the team at the end of the 2008 season. He hasn't stated which teams he'd be interested in going to, but one would suspect that he would seek out teams with white undersides to their caps, so as to better conceal any illegal substances he may be using.

Finally, Curt Schilling has said that he is undergoing rehab treatment for his ailing shoulder and there's still a chance he could pitch this year. In fact, he's so confident that he'll make a dramatic return late in the season that he's already prepared a bloody jersey to wear for the occasion.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Nobody Puts USC Song Girls In a Corner

Sunday night, I paid my first visit to the Galen Center, the newish (built in late 2006) basketball facility for the USC Trojans which is located just a few urine-soaked blocks from the main campus. Wearing UCLA blue to the game, there were a few things I knew to expect. I knew that I'd be booed and cursed at by USC students (I was, although it wasn't excessively vulgar at all); and I knew that if the Bruins were to win, Trojan fans would immediately invoke the recent history of the football programs (they did). But one thing I wasn't prepared for was the aural assault that was Petros Papadakis as the PA announcer.

For those that don't live in Southern California, here's the best way I can describe Petros. Remember when Tony Siragusa was on Hard Knocks and in preparation for a career outside of football, Goose tried to portray himself as the fat, fun-loving court jester- only he wasn't really that funny, so instead he was just loud and obnoxious? Well try to imagine that rather than getting a tv gig where he could receive some training, Siragusa was instead given a sports radio talk show where the more obnoxious he was, the more airtime he would be given. That's Petros Papadakis; and for some reason USC has decided to give him a microphone for a captive USC audience. It's absolutely brutal. By the end of the game, I wanted to borrow a gun from one of the SC fans, blow my brains out, and leave a note beside me which read, "Whoever finds this, please pick up the gun and empty the chamber into my head so that my ears can never be raped again." C'mon Southern Cal. The voice of your basketball program is a mindless, witless blowhard. Even I think you deserve better.

As for the game itself- while Tim Floyd may be a brilliant defensive tactician, he leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to player development. The Trojans only substituted one player out (Jefferson) the entire game, leaving the other four to play all 40 minutes of the game. I know SC was down an injured player, but there had to be somebody on that bench who could steal a few minutes of rest for the starters. No wonder the Trojans finished the game with more turnovers (22) than field goals (20). I'm just surprised that nobody vomited on the ball.

If the Bruins want to make it back to the Final Four, somebody is going to have to find their outside shot. In their last four games, the Bruins are 7 for 44 from beyond the arc. Josh Shipp has missed his last 15 attempts at three pointers. Lately, their most potent long range shooter has been center/forward Kevin Love. Fortunately, the team's next games are at home vs the worst team in the conference, Oregon State and a team that plays pretty loose defense, Oregon. If they're ever going to find their shooting touch, it should be against these schools.

This was the first year in which the visiting team's cheerleaders, dance team and band didn't make the trip for the rivalry games as financial greed (initiated by UCLA) has taken priority over tradition. One would have guessed that this would at least mean more floor time for the USC Song girls during timeouts, but instead the marketing experts at the Galen Center opted to use that time to promote SC alum Will Ferrell's new movie, "Semi-Pro." There was a trailer for the movie on the jumbotron, the dance team performed to one of the songs from the movie, and fans were given cardboard cutouts of Will Ferrell's face to wave around during free throws. Either SC is really proud of their prodigal son or they're getting some points on the back end of the movie. I'm guessing it's the latter. Meanwhile, the Song Girls spent most of the timeouts prancing in a corner behind the baseline. That's inexcusable.

Matt Leinart was sitting courtside at the game, and surprisingly, he was with his son Cole and his baby momma, Brynn Cameron. They all appeared to be happy, which must mean that Matt's child support check had just cleared.

While I think the architects of the Galen Center got a few things wrong, being in a new building was a stark reminder of how outdated Pauley Pavilion has become. There's really no excuse for one of the top basketball programs in the country to be playing in a building that offers neither the intimacy nor the amenities of these newer facilities. Actually, the Galen Center doesn't offer much in the way of intimacy either. It's a rather sterile, concrete structure in which the students were screwed over by being put behind the backboard. Worst of all, the seating was designed in such a way that you feel removed from the action on the court and feel much more like a distant observer than an active participant. For example, my seats were in row 14 behind the backboard opposite the SC students, and yet I was so far from center court that I had to take an Ansel Adams landscape approach to the photos I took. That is, if Ansel Adams was a horny old man instead of some dude that just liked nature. Well, judge for yourself:

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