Monday, February 19, 2007

2007: The Year Of The Villain

"Nobody likes you when you're down and out."

There is something very strange in the air right now. I can't really grasp it, but I guess the only way to describe it is this: All the people in sports who I don't particularly care for are doing very well right now...and it's not making this guy happy at all. Before I get into my "Villain Theory," I'll digress into some of my observations from the past week.

You have heard about the "Unintentional Comedy Meter," but there was one instance that may have taken the cake. On Sunday, "Sportscenter" ran a spot about the 40 yard dash and its importance on grading prospects. During this, they interviewed Charlie Casserly, the former GM of the Houston Texans. There are two reasons that this was absolutely brilliant (speaking of brilliant, St. Patty's Day is in less than a month...well alright now). First, the idea that Casserly has numerous jobs right now is laughable. Here is a guy who had little to no idea of what he was doing, yet he is making more money now than he did as a GM. Had it not been for DeMeco Ryans having a breakout year last year, Casserly could be considered one of the worst "draft day GMs" in NFL history. Second, as he was describing why a good run would give an incoming rookie a better evaluation, they showed Reggie Bush and Vince Young in the background! Talk about sticking it to someone. Can you really take someone seriously after being reminded of the worst draft day mistake ever? That made the David Klinger pick look good. Is there any point in the next hundred years where we will not look back and think of how awful a pick it was taking Mario Williams number 1? I don't see it happening. It already has reached Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan proportions...and it's only been one year! Anyway, I got such a laugh out of that, I figured I would share that with you guys.

If yesterday's Daytona 500 didn't seriously make you consider watching NASCAR, then I guess there is absolutely no hope for you. Are you serious? Ok, first of all, Kevin Harvick (who will be mentioned in the "Villain Theory" a little later on) really did have a good race. I had to have if you were able to:

a.) Navigate through the seemingly endless amounts or wrecks, and
b.) Start a three lap restart in sixth, and somehow make up all that time to win

The real story was the crashes though. As in every restrictor plate race, you're going to have "The Big One" (now applicable to other places besides Talladega). What happens is when you have guys jamming on the accelerator (not a whole lot of use of the brakes yesterday for sure) and bump-drafting (aerodynamic term for when two cars line up, and the car directly behind will tap on the leading car's bumper, causing him to get "loose," which means the car will wiggle, and for a split second, the driver will lose control; it is in that little time frame where the car will slow down, letting the car in back make an attempt to pass the leading car...I didn't lose you did I?), you are going to have at least one spectacular crash that will involve a bunch of cars. Yesterday was definitely no exception, as there were two huge crashes, both occuring within ten laps of the finish line. In perhaps the defining moment of yesterday, Clint Bowyer had one of the most memorable finishes in the history of NASCAR, as his car was struck from behind, causing him to flip over onto his hood. However, because of the proximity to the finish line, and the sheer momentum his car had, he managed to skid across the finish line, finishing in 18th. If that wasn't enough, the car does another flip, and the engine has now caught fire! Finally, the car came to a hault in the infield, completely destroyed. If all that wasn't surprising enough, perhaps the most surprising was Bowyer's reaction to getting out of the car. He simply shook it off, climbed out of the car like he was in the garage, and walked away from it in such a nonchalant manner...I couldn't even get over it. What else has this guy done to be able to walk away from that and not go all "Ricky Bobby" right there? He is officially going to be called "Bowyer the Bullet Dodger" from now on by the way. Done and done.

ESPN had a weird array of people in the booth leading up to their coverage of qualifying and the Busch race. Seemingly Tim Cowlishaw has parlayed his five minutes of fame from "Around the Horn" as the "NASCAR guy" into a full-time job. You know what? Good for that guy! Seriously, how long did ESPN search for a third guy in the booth? Like five minutes? There was no one better than Tim Cowlishaw out there? What, did FOX scoop up every person who would conceivably know anything about stock car racing? And what was with Brad Daugherty? I didn't even know he owned a car (I'm just taking ESPN's word for it). So basically, the thinking there was there has to be some kind of quota on how many people with southern accents you can have talking in one room at the same time. Trying to make this move as politically correct as possible it seems...and if so, well done.

The All-Star game again was reduced to a joke, where it boiled down to an amazing amount of three pointers and dunks, which, if you think about it, really is what the NBA is all about. Is there any such thing as the "mid-range" jumper, or is that like outlawed now? The days of fundamentals, and, you know, good basketball are all but over. God bless the NCAA. Anyway, the highlight again was Saturday's events. I'm not going to lie, I love Gerald Green, but I kind of wanted to see what would happen if Tyrus Thomas had won. I think he would probably have initial shock about actually getting a trophy, then immediately ask "So, do I have to melt this thing down for the 50 grand or are you guys still cutting checks." You have to kind of root for a guy who is so amazingly honest and blunt about his true intentions, and saying it cost him $15,000. And what was up with that? So he's doing it for the money...what's the problem there? Hey, if you wanted to get guys who were doing it for the "spirit of the game," then why even have a check for participating? Apparently it's hard enough to get dunkers in the first place (In the whole NBA, they're telling me that only four guys wanted to do this? Four?). The dunk contest may be completely eliminated at this rate. However, Gerald Green did win, and it was very cool when he pulled a "Josh Smith" and went to the retro jersey of Dee Brown, and then did Dee's signature "one arm over his eyes" dunk over Nate Robinson. He also gets high grades for use of props, using a cut-out of Nate Robinson, then the real Nate Robinson, and finishing by dunking over a table. And the world has officially been introduced to Gerald Green, a guy Celtic fans have been drooling over since his unspeakable descent he made down to the Celtics at pick number 18 in the 2005 NBA Draft. The guy has absolutely amazing leaping abilities, and finally has been getting minutes (although that was in the wake of half the team getting hurt). I feel Dwight Howard got completely screwed over. The "sticker" dunk was awesome, simply due to the fact that it was original, and equally as good was his reaction afterwards, basically saying "Do you have any idea how sick that just was?...There's a freggin sticker of me 13 feet up on the backboard!" And he got a 42? Unbelievable. However, I do have to say that the dunk judges could possibly have been the best group of dunkers assembled at one table ever. I miss Darryl Dawkins though. The NBA needs to figure out a way to get Darryl on at least once a week. I'm thinking he could have like a little segment where he recognizes the dunks of the week. Just put him in a little control truck, and let him go to work.

"Yeah that right there was the "spine chiller supreme, rim wrecker, turbo sexaphonic delight.'"


Also, the Barkley race was riveting. I can't even believe that the NBA willingly sanctioned this to happen. I don't know what will be more memorable: Charles busting his ass after nearly losing the race, or the fact that he kissed a male senior citizen on the lips on national TV? I think there was definitely some kind of prop bet for amount of combined points in the All-Star Game compared to Barkley's heart rate after the race...I bet he took the over.

So February has not been such a hot month for me in terms of sports (outside USC's recruiting class...that was quite delightful). Therefore, with the events that have unfolded in the first month and a half of this year, I am officially renaming this year as "2007: The Year Of The Villain." Seriously, I think it will all come undone this year. Everything that I hoped I would never see is probably going to happen. Here's what's happened already to make me think this way:

1.) Ok there were two items yesterday that clearly kept the momentum going. First of all, Kevin Harvick winning the 500 was terrible. Have you ever seen "NASCAR Now?" If you haven't, or maybe you have and you need a refresher, it basically is a show that follows around different NASCAR drivers through race week, showing them being "real" and what not. Ok, here comes my point. Harvick was featured one week, and the guy is just a complete tool. He acts like he's like 14 years old, moaning and complaining about everything in the world to his wife, who amazingly is understanding through all of it (I'm thinking the checks aren't getting any smaller; not trying to say anything right there...but she married him for the money). So, here we are yesterday. Mark Martin, who if you didn't know was nice to begin with, you definitely know now after his post-race comments, where the emotion could not have been any higher, yet he was so incredibly gracious in defeat. Martin has tried for 22 years to win this race, and has come so close on numerous occasions (Ok, also with this, why is it that a guy who finishes second is called "the bridesmaid?" Isn't it bad enough that he finished second, but now we have to relegate him to not only not making the altar, but turning into a woman? What gives?!). And there he was, just mere inches away from finally reaching the unreachable star, and in one fail swoop, it was taken away from him. I was just completely stunned. I'm not even a Mark Martin fan per-say, but I was standing and screaming for him to get to the line before Harvick. Unfortunately, Matt Kenseth, who I don't really have a problem with, completely aided and abedded in this, pushing Harvick for basically the entire restart, getting him enough momentum to get up to the lead of the pack. As I sit here writing this, I am still heart-broken for Martin. What a shame.

2.) Also from yesterday, Kobe Bryant won the NBA All-Star MVP award, and he was basically able to score all his points on uncontested dunks down the paint. Ok, yeah, it's bad enough that he plays for the Lakers, but the whole Colorado thing...I can't get by that. Not what he did, but what he did afterwards. The way he handled the whole thing. Ok, let's lie to America, then come on TV and do a fake apology, and top it all off by basically paying his way out of everything ($5 million rings will do that). Nicely done. I honestly can't stand the guy. He broke up the Laker dynasty, and I'm not even a Laker fan (far, far from it), but with Kobe and Shaq, they literally could have won another three championships. But no, Kobe wanted all the credit, and now he has his wish. He gets to play on a team where he is the lone star, and is being backed up by a mediocre cast (I like Odom, and Bynum will be good...but come on now...Smush Parker? Vladimir Radmonovich?...Kwame Brown? KWAME BROWN!!! How has he not gone to the NBDL yet? That guy is the Martin Lawrence of the NBA. How do they still get work?). And if it was bad enough that he won, look who's interviewing him after the game. Stuart Scott! We're batting two for two now! What's great about Stu is that he can basically say anything he wants to...he's almost above the law ("Finally, Big Ern is above the law!"...sorry I had to do a "Kingpin" reference there). Has anyone ever read his piece that he does in "ESPN: The Magazine?" Sometimes I will sit down, and really ponder if the guy is saying retarded things just to get a rise out of me. And if that is his purpose, he is doing an amazing job. It's even worse when he's on "Stump the Schwab." The Schwab is annoying enough, but Stu goes over the edge into total asshole mode on many occasions (thankfully the fast forward option is available for DV-R...big sigh of relief there). So yeah, a total double whammy in the All-Star game, needless to say, the mood was not great. Fortunately, there's a marathon of "Future Weapons" on the Discovery Channel, which is hosted by a guy I would probably label "the most dangerous man on Earth." Seriously, watch it (trust me, I don't get paid nearly enough for those plugs...but you'd be surprised.)

3.) Barry Bonds somehow worked out his contract dispute, and the record is almost sure to fall very soon. How about Bud Selig coming out and saying he's "not sure" if he's going to go to the game to see the record fall? Unfortunately, Bud may have overplayed his hand here. It is now painfully obvious he does not want to see Barry break this record, and further more, if Bonds ever decided to hang it up, I don't think Bud would lose too much sleep over it. Basically, he's trying to conjure up a way to get him out of baseball without killing him. That's really what it boils down to. And you know what, I'm going to go out on a further limb and say that the thought has crossed Bud's mind, but the whole first degree murder charges that would follow probably brought him back to reality. Still, Selig is determined to get some kind of definitive proof that Bonds did steroids (the head thing is a start), and he needs to do it fast, or else, the most immortal record in all of sports (yup, I said it...and you know it) will be broken.

4.) And finally, the come all be all of it happened on the kid's 22nd birthday, with the Pats coming undone against the Colts. This is the classic example of someone continuing to pound on the doorstep until it finally came down. You had to have known that they would win one eventually, and yet, it hit me like a hurricane. I was just speechless afterwards, very much like how I was after the 2003 ALCS (which I am going to promise to keep those references to a minimum from now on). Peyton Manning has now replaced A-Rod as public enemy #1 in Boston. I seriously wanted to throw a brick at my TV when I saw him raise that trophy (then realized the collateral damage I would have caused, and wisely decided to find a TV that got launched off of a balcony at my apartment complex...very nice). The reason I think Manning is so unlikable, at least to me, is the fact that he has every offensive weapon in the world, and Tom Brady really has very little to go with, and yet they put Manning on a higher level than Brady based on his numbers. I mean I'm incredibly biased and all, but I really think Brady is the better quarterback of the two. With a makeshift line, and receivers like Jabar Gaffney, who was released by the Texans (thanks a lot by the way), Brady was still able to lead his team to all those wins, which is a testament to how great the guy really is. But there I was, on a chilly night in Charlotte (I don't know, trying to set the stage like NFL Films on that one) and watching the Bears come unglued in a hurry, and basically laying down for those forsaken Colts, which officially put my sports world into a tailspin. And so, the villains live on.

Now I'm not exactly sure what to make of all of this, but I just hope and pray that I'm wrong on this, because if I have to put up with the following:

1.) Yankees win the A.L. East, and then (gulp) the whole thing.
2.) Vijay Singh winning the Masters
3.) Duke somehow winning the tournament
4.) Clemson beats USC
5.) Phil Hellmuth winning the WSOP

...I'm gonna lose my mind.

So, again, I hope this is just a horrible call by me, and maybe just a bad month, but deep down, I don't see any end to this trend in sight.

And on a side note, I've figured out a way to make myself completely miserable.

Take care, thanks for reading. Peace.


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