Saturday, May 31, 2008

EliteXC: A Colossal Failure

The title says it all. For all of the CBS promotional bluster, for all of the hype and buildup surrounding CBS's experiment in televising mixed-martial arts on network television, what I witnessed Saturday night was a complete joke. While you may remember that I encouraged CBS last week to throw MMA into primetime, I now take that back and hope that CBS never takes the plunge again.

To clarify, I'm no expert in MMA. I am what you would call a casual fan of MMA. I am a fan of all sports, however, and what I watched on CBS was not quality "sports" at all.

The first two bouts featured "knockouts" that essentially ended on punches that seemingly would have had trouble breaking through paper mache. I found myself thinking, over and over, that any fighter from UFC's stable would absolutely mop the floor with any of the first four fighters.

The only comparison I can think of is that CBS decided to jump in head first in televising MMA with what would be the equivalent of Double A baseball or the NBA's D league. They either didn't do their research, or, more likely, didn't want to spend that much and EliteXC was in their price range. (Plus, UFC has its own deal with Spike.) It just wasn't up to par, and it certainly wasn't worth the ridiculous amount of self-promotion that CBS bathed itself in.

I mean, come on...a guy with five previous "professional" fights being introduced by a rapping Busta Rhymes? Another guy with a 10-9 record coming in wearing a glittering robe and sunglasses while accompanied by fireworks? The "dancers" in between fights? One had to have had the feeling that the boys over at UFC were unable to focus on what was on the screen because they had to be doubled over, laughing themselves silly. Not only that, Burger King and Miller Lite executives had to be scratching their heads, wondering what kind of oceanfront property in Arizona they had been sold.

In my opinion, you don't need fireworks and silly minustrations to introduce yourself to an MMA fight; you're either a badass, or you're not, and clearly most of these guys at EliteXC just aren't badasses. They're an affront to badasses everywhere, actually.

At first, I felt a tad bit sorry for Gus Johnson, thinking that maybe he was just the odd man out, the one guy picked from the CBS announcer stable to call the diaster. But as the night went on, it became apparent that Gus wasn't trying to be excited; he actually was excited. Maybe that's the mark of a true professional: throw yourself into what you're covering and make the best of it, like that guy that's been calling those cheerleading competitions all these years.

It just wasn't CBS's night. They actually get a decent fight between Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith (the best of the night), and as it is progressing nicely, Smith gets poked in the eye. Time is called, he says he's ok, and some lady non-badass doctor calls the fight.

I'm sorry, but come actually made me laugh out loud. Baddest men on the planet? Ultimate fighting, this was not. Clearly, someone at the New Jersey "We Sanction MMA Fights" Commission was covering their ass on a grand scale. The boos and cries for refunds after the decision was announced was probably the worst moment of the night for CBS.

Then, we finally got to the feature bout of the night: Kimbo Slice vs. The Colossus. My first impression of James Thompson was the only thing colossus about him was his giant, grotesque cauliflowered left ear. That thing was gross. He was rumored to have a glass jaw, but he took several direct shots from the massive Slice and didn't go down. The fight itself can be summed up in one word: amateurish. (See video below)

Look, I've got nothing against Kimbo; he has a sad story and it's nice to see someone who was homeless months ago make something of himself. But he's no elite-level MMA fighter. I wouldn't find it outside the realm of possibility that he would be unable to make a UFC undercard, much less a televised bout. He's a one-trick pony: he can punch hard with his right hand. That's it. The journeyman Thompson has obviously been trained in MMA as he was pretty much able to take Kimbo down at will. Once on the ground, the only thing that saved Kimbo from one of a dozen submission holds was his strength. That's it. If he had been fighting anyone of any caliber, he probably would've been beaten in the first round.

Ultimately, this has to be viewed as a failure for EliteXC and CBS, and to some degree, a failure for the sport of MMA. It's good that UFC has such a huge following on Spike (and through its pay-per-view shows), because if the casual sports fan tuned in to see "what this MMA is all about," they would've changed the channel on Saturday night.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Monkey Butlers of the Week

Best Use of the Number Three: Cleveland Indians. The Indians, who had a player turn an unassisted triple play a couple of weeks ago, pulled off a rare triple steal on Tuesday night in the midst of an 8-2 win over the Chicago White Sox. It was the first triple steal in the MLB since 1987.

Worst Time to Bring a Dead Issue Back to Life: The NBA. By coming out on Wednesday night and issuing a ruling on the Derek Fisher/Brent Barry foul fiasco, they fanned the burning embers of an almost-dead issue and reignited the blogosphere and the airwaves. Everyone already knew it was a foul (except the Spurs), so why state the obvious? Methinks the NBA doth protest too much in its attempt to appear completely neutral in this whole Lakers/Celtics Finals possibility.

Worst First Pitch of the Week: Mariah Carey. See below. My God.

Oddest Resurfacing of a Former '90s R&B Group Member: Michael Bivins. Formerly of R&B supergroup Bell Biv Devoe (that girl is poisooonnnnnn), Bivins is now contributing content to TNT's broadband channel, TNT Overdrive. Uh, ok. Apparently he's just following the Celtics around and gushing about them. (Ed note: While we realize that Bivins started doing this a few weeks ago, we nor do we believe anyone else was aware of it until he showed up during Game 5 of the Western Conference finals last night in that ridiculous suit.)

Most Ridiculous Solution of the Week: The NBA. That's right, folks: the first two-time Monkey Butler of the Week winner, all in the same week too! This one's for the NBA's completely ridiculous decision to assess flopping after the fact and issue fines after video from games is reviewed. So ridiculous, so stupid, so dumb. Just take the leash off of the refs and let them call fouls on the floppers instead, ok?

Most Un-Earl Way to Evoke the Name of Karma: Sharon Stone. She recently made comments that the earthquake in China was caused not by plate tectonics but by karma for the way that China has treated Tibet over the years. China's response was to nuke Stone's privates back to the, ah, Stone Age. Actually, China's real response included their largest cinema chain banning all Stone movies from its cineplexes, which came not a moment too soon as it has spared the Chinese people the torment of having to sit through such bombs as Basic Instinct 2, When A Man Falls in the Forest, and If I Had Known I Was a Genius. I'm assuming that last one's not an autobiographical flick.

And now, your random non-sports related YouTube video of the week:

This Weekend's TV Battle

Well, here we are on another Friday night where I don't watch television. So, I thought I'd expand each Friday's TVB to the weekend!

On Saturday night, you could watch new episodes of Cops (Fox, 8) and America's Most Wanted (Fox, 9), and fully immerse yourself in both ends of our justice system: the initial arrest and then the pursuit after they escape justice.

On Sunday night, there's the always entertaining Futurama marathon (Comedy, 8), or you could go with yet another prime time gameshow: Million Dollar Password (CBS, 8). This incarnation features two-person teams of one celebrity and one non-celebrity each. First up: Neil Patrick Harris and Rachel Ray. No word on who they will be competing against.

In the world of sports, you've got...

Softball: Women's College World Series, ESPN, 7
NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Boston at Detroit, ESPN, 8:30
NASCAR: Craftsman Truck Series from Dover, SPEED, 8:30
UFC: Fight Night, Spike, 9

Softball, Women's College World Series, ESPN, Noon
Tennis: French Open, NBC, 1
Golf: PGA Tour, Memorial Tournament, CBS, 3
NASCAR: Nationwide Series in Dover, Deuce, 3
MLB: Dodgers at Mets, Tigers at Mariners, or Braves at Reds, Fox, 3
NHL: Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4, Detroit at Pittsburgh, NBC 8
MMA: EliteXC Saturday Night Fights, CBS, 9

Tennis: French Open, NBC, 1
Softball, Women's College World Series, ESPN, Noon
NASCAR: Sprint Cup from Dover, Fox, 1:30
Golf: PGA Tour, Memorial Tournament, CBS, 2:30
MLB: Dodgers at Mets, ESPN, 8

Where are they now? Western Finals edition

While watching the Lakers wrap up the Western Conference title against the Spurs last night, I started thinking back about some of the great championships from both teams. I started reminiscing about some of the great players in the history of both clubs. Then I started thinking about great players who played for both teams. I ended up with one name who stands above them all.

This week’s ‘Where are they now?’…the legendary Chuck Nevitt.

No, dumbass, I didn’t say Chuck Norris. Chuck Nevitt. You remember him don’t you? 7’5” of pure athleticism and grace.

Chuck played with 5 teams in his 12 year career. Well, played may be a stretch. He was the ultimate 12th man. When Chuck checked in at the scorer’s table, it was a sign that you can finish your beer and head for the car. Once named ‘The Human Victory Cigar’ by Sports Illustrated, he played a total of 826 minutes in his career. To put that in perspective, it may take Kobe Bryant 20 games to play that much…but only if he gets major bench time in a couple of games.

But how does Chuck relate to the Lakers-Spurs? Well, Chuck was a member of the 1985 Lakers championship team. He took that championship experience and taught Michael Jordan a thing or two (during his 10-day contract during the 91-92 season). Chuck then went on to an illustrious career with the San Antonio Spurs. He shot 3-6 free throws during a one minute appearance in the season opener for San Antonio in 1993…then they cut him. Those unappreciative bastards!

Today, we look up high and salute you Chuck. You were a goofy looking dude with a bad, porn ‘stache…but you were at least tall. So that’s something.

The Woman's Perspective: The Personal Lives of Athletes

(Ed note: It's finally here! After promoting the fact that we'd be having a woman writing things from time to time for what has seemed like days now, it's actually happening. So enjoy!)

After reading Edwin's post regarding the personal lives of athletes, I just wanted to add my two cents about the other people to blame in this situation: the women. Both the wives/girlfriends and the cleat-chasers. As a rehabbed cleat-chaser myself, I have an understanding (sort of) of what these women's lives are like. I'm not saying it's wrong or right, but men today currently deem a woman's "hotness" to be her most valued attribute. Anna Kournikova and Jennie Finch are not household names because they are exceptional athletes. Erin Andrews is not a favorite sideline reporter because of her astounding knowledge of the game. Because of this, and I know it seems a bit counterintuitive, women's self-esteem has taken a hit. Women literally throw themselves at professional athletes for a chance to live the "dream." And it's not only the bimbos with no other real way to support themselves. I'm talking about intelligent, college-educated women shedding their dignity (and their clothes) to party with a slobbering Kyle Orton. Really? Are you that desperate to think that if you sleep with him, he'll give you a Bentley in the morning? Ladies, most of you have much more to offer society than that. Go use that engineering degree and find a man who loves you for more than your giant implants.

And as for the wives....First of all, you know what you're getting into. As Chris Rock once said, "A man is only as faithful as his options." (See above) And unless you've known him since high school, you were likely one of the girls at the hot tub party that happened to get "lucky" or "pregnant." What makes you think he won't do it again? I would say that it's partly your fault that you're not giving him what he needs at home, but professional athletes are on the road so much, that that's really not fair. I will say, though, that it's your fault for letting him get away with it. Over and over and over again. Shaunie O'Neal finally got wise. Vanessa Bryant should probably do the same. Are you so enamored with the lifestyle that you will let a man mistreat you that way? I'm sorry, but a big ole' diamond can't fix everything. The solution: Don't sign a pre-nup. And keep your man in line. Go all Jackie Christie on his ass! The woman is batshit crazy, but clearly, she is on to something.

Mixed Martial Arts & the Crazy Kimbo Slice + CBS = ?

Apparently, CBS has decided to make a splash into the world of MMA, or "mixed martial arts," and air fights from the UFC some sort of league called "EliteXC" on Saturday night. Now, I'm not a huge fan of MMA, but I've watched my fair share and I do find it entertaining. However, I've never heard of EliteXC. Who I have heard of, however, is Kimbo Slice, who frankly terrifies me. This is a man that formerly earned his living by fighting people on the street who ponied up the bucks to go toe to toe with him. Don't believe me? Then check this out (warning: by watching the below video, you will see someone get knocked the fuck out):

Terrifying, no? Kimbo (real name: Kevin Ferguson, I shit you not) will be fighting James Thompson, who is three inches taller but considerably less badass looking than Kimbo. The word on the street is that Kimbo is EliteXC's best chance at mainstream popularity, so when you couple that with Ferguson's reportedly glass jaw, I'm pretty sure you understand where this one will end up. Hopefully Ferguson can walk afterwards.

A bonus is the strikingly attractive (for MMA standards) woman pictured above, Gina Carano. She'll be fighting another lady warrior in a bout on the undercard. She's undefeated and has one submission, so I think that makes her hotter. Wonder what Gregg Doyel of thinks will happen in Carano's bout against Kaitlin Young? Well here you go:
Kaitlin isn't the name of a fighter. Kaitlin is the name of a kindergarten girlie with pigtails, or a baby-sitter with braces. Nobody named Kaitlin can beat Gina Carano, that's for damn sure. If you wanted better analysis than this, sorry. I can't get into women fighting. Am I sexist? Perhaps. gotta love it when a giant entity gets into something that they have no experience whatsoever with. They've got one of their main NCAA basketball guys handicapping the fights, which I personally think is outstanding.

Along those same lines, another parallel to all of this that is almost as compelling as Kimbo Slice rising from the streets to a prime time bout on CBS is the fact that Gus Johnson will be calling the fights. That's right, the same NCAA tourney Gus Johnson that we've all come to know and love these past few years. What sort of catchy phrases will Gus be throwing around? "The FOOT still FITS up his ass!!" Will Bill Raftery be doing color commentary? "And Kimbo opens up punching...with a kiss!!"

More importantly: can we count on a One Shining Moment-type theme song at the end of all this? Will CBS work shots of the losers crying, a la J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison? Will they have Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg providing their keen insight from the studio?

The possibilities are endless for this one. Even though CBS chairman Sumner Redstone recently decried his own network's decision to air the spectacle, I say, "Go, CBS, go!" Push the boundaries! Give us casual MMA fans a reason to watch.

CBS: EliteXC Saturday Night Fights, 9 eastern

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tonight's TV Battle

It's Thursday night, so you know what that means: Lost (ABC, 9)! I hear that this is a pretty good show. Since I stopped watching it about three years ago, I have no idea what's going on, but I think that they're all on an island and either a volleyball named Wilson or a goofball named Gilligan keeps screwing things up.

Another, lighter option for you is Last Comic Standing (NBC, 8:30), where funny people try out for the show and find out that they aren't so funny.

In the world of sports, you've got...

College Softball World Series: All kinds of teams, ESPN, 7 (and lasting until the end of time, or until Arizona's hotties get beat)
MLS Soccer: D.C. United at New England, Deuce, 7:30
NBA Playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 5, Spurs at Lakers, TNT, 9:15

G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) - NBA Playoff Fouls

You’ll quickly be able to tell that I am a child of the 80s when it comes to sports (and everything else I guess). Since I was born in 1976, anything that happened before Magic and Larry got to the NBA isn’t on my radar. With that in mind, and the fact that we have Detroit vs Boston in the East finals (hopefully followed by L.A. vs Boston), I started to reminisce about the "golden years" of the NBA and what a real foul looked like. Nowadays it seems there is a foul called on every possession. The free throws and constant stoppages in play take so much of the flow and fun out of the game. Back in my day a foul was a foul (said in the voice of Grandpa Simpson). And the tradition was passed down like a passing of the torch: Philly vs Boston, Boston vs Detroit, Detroit vs Chicago, Chicago vs New York, New York vs Miami, with the Lakers thrown in along the way to represent the West. Some of the best fouls, and subsequent fights, came from these vicious series. Some examples:

Lakers vs Celtics (the McHale clothesline):

Nowadays, such an infraction will net you an ejection and at least one game off:

Celtics vs Pistons (particularly the third shot with Parrish clubbing Laimbeer over the head):

I think my favorite part of that one is that if you will remember, Parrish wasn’t even called for a foul and actually shot free throws as a result of the play! Makes you wonder how anyone ever won in the Garden...

Just So You Know Who's Running Things Around Here

This has nothing to do with sports, but we figured that you'd really want to know who is running things around here: monkeys with the power of mind control.

That's right. Monkeys now have the ability to control robots with their minds. We are nothing but automatonic robots being controlled by the minds of monkeys.


CNN: Monkeys Control Robots With Their Minds

On the Personal Lives of Athletes

I have to say that through the years, my interest in the personal lives of athletes has been an up-and-down affair. There have been periods of time where virtually any information about a famous athlete's personal life would interest me, only to be followed by periods of utter disinterest. As I've gotten older, the periods of fascination have been outpaced by the periods of not caring, but not to the point where I've stopped paying attention. What more concerns me now is when an alleged occurence has something to do with breaking the law. Then I care, because I consider lawbreaking to be a bit more newsworthy than whether someone is having an affair on his wife or drinking with young girls at a pool party.

I say that as a lead-in to this whole business surrounding Kobe Bryant supposedly, allegedly, perhaps, maybe, could be, might be, etc., etc., etc., cheating on his wife with a Laker Girl. A Laker Girl that just so happens to have the same first name as his wife. You know how all of this got started? A dirty site called The Dirty posted a "story" about a Laker girl named Vanessa leaving the Laker Girl team right before the playoffs and how a source of theirs told them the reason she left was because the Lakers were looking to cover the whole thing up.

What the fuck?

Not a week goes by and an actual mainstream, top-level site posts about it: Deadspin. Their timeline accurately depicts how a story with no substantial proof whatsoever can somehow find legs and run its way around the Internet to the browser windows and inboxes of the masses.

The question is, why are we fascinated? Why do we care? A.J. Daulerio over at Deadspin claims that this is news because of Kobe's past affair in Colorado and his subsequent painful, public apology. But is it? Is it really? Nobody seemed to care when Wilt Chamberlain was fucking every woman he saw 40 years ago. I guess it is news if the weather is, say, sunny and in the 80s 47 days in a row. You've still got to report the weather, right? Even if it's the same every day? So I guess he might have a point there, that a repeated, unsurprising occurence deserves mention, but then again, I don't think that your local newscast would spend so much time reporting on that mundane, same-every-day weather.

Instead of reporting what athletes do on the court, increasingly the focus has shifted to what they do off of it. Is it shocking that Pacman Jones "made it rain" at a strip club? That Matt Leinart had a party that involved BEER and GIRLS? That Charles Barkley gambles? That Alex Rodriguez was seen with a woman who was not his wife? I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point.

These people aren't role models. They just aren't. We think we know them because we craft their personalities for them while we root for them. We like to think that Marvin Harrison is a stand up guy and perfect humanitarian because he fits our mold of what we think that person is; the fact that he owns a bar and gets into fights outside of it and then his gun is used to shoot at someone never enters the picture and then shocks us when we hear about it.

The fact of the matter is that we don't know these people any better than we know the person that delivers our mail. Peyton Manning could be a psychotic choking rapist for all we know. While I think that Albert Pujols is a god amongst men, a living, walking, breathing saint in this world, he may turn out to be the worst person ever. We just don't know.

I should have known better when everything came crashing down for me, when Magic Johnson announced to the world that he was HIV positive. Magic Johnson? AIDS? What? He cheated on his wife? Say it ain't so! Not a beloved athlete!

The personal lives of athletes shouldn't shock us at all. Athletes are normal, regular people who just happen to be ridiculously gifted at a particular skill set that is enormously overvalued by society. Kobe Bryant may be the best basketball player on earth, but he's just a regular human being in every other way. Given the same amount of idol worship, money and fame, I don't know what kind of person I would be. I can guarantee you that I would not be the person I am now because I just don't think it would be possible. In fact, I think it's probably almost impossible to grow up in that kind of spotlight and be anywhere near what you or I would consider "normal."

I'd probably have an overinflated ego and enough arrogance to fill the Staples Center. I'd probably walk into every room thinking that everyone in there needed to do whatever I wished simply because of who I was. I imagine that that's the kind of life a lot of these athletes lead. I don't see how it makes sense to be shocked or even merely surprised that an athlete's personal life isn't going like we think it should. They live in a completely different world than 95% of regular society, and as such, they're going to act and talk differently than we do. It's just the way it is.

Maybe John Dvorak over at Fox News was on to something with his article yesterday that talked about how the Internet was basically making us all dumber by the minute. While I don't agree with everything in the article, the following section was apropo with regard to this whole Kobe mess:
These people eat up information from the Internet and they believe everything they read. They pass along gossip as fact. They fall for every hoax under the sun (especially the very old ones).

You wonder when some Nigerian e-mail scammer is going to fleece them. I have no idea what is going to happen when it dawns on this crowd that they are useless boneheads.

Very well said, in my opinion. As a useless bonehead, I'll be doing my best to focus my attention elsewhere from now on.

Deadspin: The Dirty Kobe Bryant Business
Fox News: Dvorak: The Internet Is Making Us Dumber

NBA Sissies Get Tax Break

NBA Commish and resident leprechaun, David Stern, announced yesterday that beginning next season fines will be imposed on players that employ the 'theatrical flop' strategy of defense. They have yet to determine the exact amount of the fines, but NBA Executive VP (and former shitty head coach) Stu Jackson said they will use 'in game arena observers and video reviewers' to do postgame reports on floppers.

Where the hell do I apply for that job?

You mean to tell me they will actually pay people to watch NBA games and tell them when people are flailing around like a pansy-ass pretending to take charges? I think I may have a new dream job. I don't really even like the NBA all that much, but getting paid to watch games and not actually have to prepare any stats or whatever would be fantastic. Just ask Bill Walton.

The great thing about this is the tax benefit of being a flop artist. I'm certainly no IRS guy (that's a whole other class of bastards), but I am pretty sure I read where a percentage of these fines are tax deductible because they are part of 'business expenses' related to their profession. I wonder if the Dockers and Izods that 'Lucky Charms' Stern suggested a couple years ago are deductible too. I'm sure that would make Allen Iverson happy.

As much as I detest these flop-artists, I think it's kinda stupid that you are imposing fines after the fact. Make the refs call the flops. Or, how about this, don't f'en call the foul in the first place. Wow...what a crazy idea.

Anyway, here's to you Bill Laimbeer, Vlade Divac and Raja Bell...but especially you Robert Horry. Your 'craft' has finally resulted in a new rule in the NBA. You won't be in the Hall, but you finally made your mark.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tonight's TV Battle

Well, the regular viewing season for regular shows is officially over, so you're now treated to crap like Wife Swap (ABC, 8) to occupy your time! Also on tonight, So You Think You Can Dance (Fox, 8), where people once again dance like there's no tomorrow, and the supremely underrated movie Beautiful Girls (Flix, 8).

In the world of sports, you've got...

NHL Playoffs: Stanley Cup Finals, Detroit at Pittsburgh, NBC, 8
MLB Baseball: Dodgers at Cubs, Deuce, 8
NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Game 5, Pistons at Celtics, ESPN, 8:30

(all times eastern)

Despite Late Meltdown, Lakers Have Spurs on Brink of Elimination

The Lakers won their Game 4 matchup against the Spurs last night, 93-91, but not without quite a bit of drama. As one viewer put it, the Lakers did their best to "monkey clusterfuck" their way to a loss. Let's review the final 56.5 seconds, shall we?

--Lamar Odom hits two free throws to give the Lakers a 93-86 lead with 56.5 seconds remaining.

--The Spurs run a play for Brent Barry (a good one drawn up by Greg Popovich in the timeout) and he misses a three pointer. On the rebound, Pau Gasol is fouled by Tim Duncan with 50.8 seconds left.

--Gasol misses both free throws.

--The Spurs come down and Ginobli hits a three pointer with 42.1 seconds remaining. Score: Lakers 93, Spurs 89.

--Here's where the monkeyclusterfucking really gets going: the Lakers inbound the ball, and it ends up in Kobe Bryant's hands; instead of dribbling around the court and waiting to get fouled so that he can shoot what will surely be two money free throws, he drives the length of the court, puts up a tough shot from the right block, and misses. This occurs with around 34 seconds on the game clock and 16 seconds left on the shot clock.

--The Spurs quickly push the ball back upcourt, and Lamar Odom's block of Tony Parker's layup is ruled goaltending. Score: Lakers 93, Spurs 91. 28.1 seconds left.

--After a timeout, the Lakers put the ball in Kobe's hands to run down the clock. He is double-teamed and throws to Fisher, who launches an airball that mercifully goes out of bounds off of Robert Horry's leg with 5.6 seconds remaining in the game and only 2 seconds on the shot clock. (Ed. note: Fisher's shot DID hit the rim, but the refs and/or the shot clock operator missed it.)

--After a timeout, the Kobe shoots a fallaway jumper with two hands in his face and misses. Tim Duncan rebounds and the Spurs call timeout with 2.1 seconds left.

--Popovich draws up a play guessed it, Brent Barry! He tries a pump fake that gets Fisher about two inches off of the ground and then flings a shot from about 28 feet that misses. The game ends as Barry pleads for a foul call on Fisher.

That, ladies and gents, is how you go about completely pissing away a game you have completely wrapped up. You don't drive the length of the floor trying to be Superman when all you have to do is get fouled and make your free throws (that goes for you, too, Pau).

And as far as the final "no call" on Fisher when Barry had the ball, both Barry and Popovich said afterwards that it wasn't a foul, which is code for "You're damn right it was a foul! He fouled the everliving dog mess out of him!"

Ultimately, though, the Lakers are now up 3-1 and have a chance to close the series out Thursday night in L.A. BTW, as soon as I have a YouTube video of Tim Duncan's egregious four-step dunk from the first half last night, I'll post it.

Who We Are

Buzz's Monkey Butler is now two weeks old, and since we've kept it going this long, I thought that it might be time for an answer to the inevitable question that I'm sure is on all four of our readers' minds: Who the hell are these guys? And why is this blog called Buzz's Monkey Butler?

Well, to answer the latter, the name was born out of the marriage of Buzz Bissinger, recent frothing-at-the-mouth-on-TV-ranting-about-the-blogosphere guy, and the somewhat humorous notion of a real-live monkey butler. What better title for a blog than Buzz's Monkey Butler? You can't argue with that logic!

As for the rest of us, Hobson, Cadbury & I are all friends from way back. We all love sports. We all have real day jobs that don't allow us to be as involved with this little venture as we'd like to be. This blog was born out of a telephone conversation with Hobson when it hit me that some of the things we were talking about might look good on the Interweb. So here we are.

We hope to have recurring pieces, "themes" if you will, detailing various things we want to talk about. Cadbury will hopefully be providing a Where Are They Now? post each Wednesday, highlighting some sports figure of the past that has fallen out of the public eye. Perhaps you caught his first WATN on Popeye Jones, or perhaps his second, on Fennis Dembo. Hobson hopes to start a Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T.) series this week, to run on Tuesdays, focusing on, well, things that are the greatest of all time.

You've probably seen my daily T.V. Battle posts, which I plan to continue, and I hope to have a more serious post each Monday, something delving a bit more in depth into topical sports issues than most of what we do. Every Friday, we'll bring you our Monkey Butlers of the Week, which will highlight the best and worst from the previous week in the sports world. And, at some point, we hope that our resident she-fan, Alice Duckworth, will give us something from a woman's perspective on a weekly basis. If not, her name will suddenly disappear from the site as if she never existed...

We hope to entertain at least a few people out there with our daily musings, and we promise at least one new post a day, because we figure that by setting the bar extremely low that we can exceed expectations on a daily basis. Plus, since we all have real, honest-to-God day jobs, there may be some days that only have one new post.

So, if you like what we're doing, let us know, and if you don't, let us know that, too. Vote in the weekly poll and keep coming back, because although we're essentially doing this for ourselves, we like it when people show up and read what we've been musing on.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tonight's TV Battle

Considering that my Memorial Day weekend was stolen from me by some damned bacteria or virus, I hardly got to watch any television at all. That doesn't mean that there isn't anything on TV tonight, though. Boy, I tell you what! You could watch the boys from Deadliest Catch (Discovery, 9) attempt to get their crab back alive for offloading, or catch the completely insane try to win money on Moment of Truth (Fox, 8). This show has to be the worst show on all of television as it truly shows the absolute worst of our society completely pimp themselves out for money. If anyone, anywhere has any defense whatsoever for this show, I'd like to hear it.

In the world of sports, you've got...

MLB Baseball: Dodgers at Cubs, ESPN, 9
NBA Playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 4, Spurs at Lakers, TNT, 9

There might be a WNBA game on somewhere, but frankly, I really don't care.

(all times eastern)

Bulls Beware...

The Chicago Bulls may want to do a little more leg work on this draft pick than they did last year when selecting Joakim Noah. Not sure who was in charge of that process, but he's not looking to smart so far. In a SHOCKING development, Noah was arrested for marijuana possession and open container when visiting his old stomping grounds of the University of Florida.
When it was discovered the beverage was Hennessy cognac, Noah was taken to an area police station, where one cannabis cigarette was discovered inside a cigarette package in Noah's pants.
In my opinion this is hardly newsworthy, because I honestly think this is happening every night, where ever Noah is. And I for one am fine with it. Don't you remember what happens if the kid doesn't have his nightly weed and cognac?

Truly horrifying. But this SHOULD however be the latest chapter in a cautionary tale for the Bulls front office, that somehow didn't see any red flags with Noah before taking him in last years draft.

Vince Young: Man of Integrity

Vince Young recently revealed that he almost retired after his rookie season. He said the game "wasn't fun anymore" and he almost gave it up.

He says he prayed a bunch and decided he needed to be a role model. He said he was motivated by guys like Michael Vick, Pacman Jones and other notable character guys like rappers Lil Wayne and T.I. That's what made him decide that he needed to stick with it.

I think that's just great. It had nothing to do with all the damn money he would lose if he retired. Nothing at all to do with the $12.3M option bonus due to him in his second year. Or the other $50M due over the life of your rookie contract. Not to mention the other money you would lose from endorsements, future contracts, etc.

Nice job Vince. You are my role model. I commend you for deciding to keep being a millionaire rather than working as a bouncer at a strip club in Houston. Although I guess that job wouldn't be too bad either.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tonight's TV Battle

As I said last week, I'm not much of a Friday night TV viewer. That being said, I did notice that Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill is coming on tonight (BBC America, 8), and I highly recommend it. Even though it's a dude in women's clothing, he's hilarious. Yes, he wears makeup too. But he's an action transvestite! Stop judging me!

In the alternative, you could catch yet another American Idol clone in Can You Duet (CMT, 8). Instead of one person singing pop songs, you'll witness teams of two people singing country songs! The excitement is palpable. If you'd rather hasten your own death, tune into Shot at Love with Tila Tequila (MTV, 9), where a tiny Asian woman is courted by desperate men and women, and pray that a giant boulder crushes them all before your blood pressure reaches the point where your head explodes.

In the world of sports, you've got...

Women's Softball: NCAA Super Regional, Oklahoma at Arizona, ESPN, 7:30
Auto Racing: World of Outlaws, Charlotte, Speed, 8
NBA Playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 2, Spurs at Lakers, TNT, 9
UFC Fight Night: Tito Ortiz-Ken Shamrock 3, Spike, 9

(all times eastern)

Monkey Butlers of the Week

And now, our weekly awards...

Heartwarming Story of the Week: Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox. After beating cancer last year, the durable Lester delivered a Hallmark-type ending to his return to the big leagues by pitching a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals on Monday night. His victory has inspired cancer patients everywhere.

Best Minor League Baseball Promotion: Fresno Grizzlies, AAA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. They had a totally rad '80s night and invited Johnny from Karate Kid to show up and participate, and participate he did! Sweep the leg!!!

Best Use of Non-Approved Sports Equipment: Kris Draper, Detroit Red Wings. Draper scored a goal off of his chin in the Red Wings' 4-1 series clincher over the Dallas Stars that sent the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Finals. Said Draper: "This assist was beautiful. Nice saucer pass right off my chin and in. I had three teeth that weren't in the place they usually are. We'll talk about that one later." You gotta love hockey players. (Also, we encourage you to play the Detroit Free Press' "Whack-a-Penguin" game. Who says hockey isn't fun anymore?)

Worst Time to Forget a Huge Gambling Loss: Charles Barkely, TNT commentator. Barkley earlier this week claimed that he "forgot" about $400,000 in markers owed to the Wynn casino. Right. Kind of like how I forget about the $5 in my left front pants pocket and the 47 cents in change in my right front pants pocket.

Best Impression of a 1940's-era NBA Game: Boston and Cleveland. They fought to a 74-69 Cleveland victory last Friday night in a game that likely set the NBA back 60 years. The teams combined to shoot 36% from the field, commit 41 fouls and turn the ball over 32 times. Yuck.

Worst Baseball Fantasy Start of the Week: Mike Mussina, Yankees. Mussina went a paltry 2/3 of an inning against Baltimore on Tuesday night, giving up 7 runs (somehow only 1 was earned), 5 hits and 2 walks. His statline for the night: 1K, 13.5 ERA, 10.5 WHIP. Thanks a lot.

Save of the Week: Edwin van der Sar, Manchester United. The ManU goalkeeper blocked the shot of Chelsea's Nicholas Anelka, giving ManU the victory on penalty kicks, 6-5. I don't care what anyone says: soccer can be exciting.

And now, your non-sports related YouTube video of the week:

Where are they now?

Today's selection was prompted by last night's Pistons win. It made me think back a few years to the 1989 Pistons team that won the title. Then it made me think one year further back to the 'Cowboy State' of Wyoming and the sharpshooter named Fennis Dembo!

Dembo is my hero for a couple reasons. First, he survived growing up with a name that sounds like either a drunk or a crazy clown...or maybe a drunk, crazy clown. And, he was one of only four black guys in the entire state of Wyoming. That's kinda cool.

Second, Fennis knows when to quit. He was a 2nd round draft pick after a legendary career at Wyoming. He averaged over 27ppg in the NCAA tournament leading the Cowboys to the Sweet 16. He 'led' (jokes people!) the Pistons to the NBA title and said 'That's it bitches, I'm out!'

Fennis was quoted a couple years ago and seems to think people still remember him. Dembo said, "I still hear a lot of it. People enjoy talking about it. You go to Cancun and people recognize you. I just went down to Progreso, Mexico, over the weekend, and a guy remembered the UCLA game."

I'm calling bullshit on that one Fennis. Seriously? You are trying to tell me some townie in Mexico was tuned in when you played a game in 1988 and remembers it? Nah, I doubt it.

Anyway, supposedly Fennis lives in San Antonio. I'm sure he's a legend there too.

Sure Fennis, whatever.

Uh Oh: Big Three's Quest for Immortality Somewhat Derailed

Ok, I know--it's just one game in a seven-game playoff series. I get that.

But did anyone else get sort of a feeling of inevitability watching last night's Pistons-Celtics game? Kind of like how the Pistons "workmanliked" their way into a win on Boston's home floor, something neither the Hawks nor the Cavs were able to do this postseason? That the Hawks and Cavs were merely pretenders and now the Celtics might be in a wee bit of trouble with the Pistons?

Maybe so, but it's not all that bad. The series is still tied 1-1. It's turned into a best-of-five situation, and even though the Celtics have been unable to win a game away from home this postseason, they were never in a position where they had to win those road games. They always took care of business at home, until now. Now, when they have to, they can focus and win one out of three in Detroit, right?

Judging by the postgame quotes, they sure do sound like they've been thrown for a loop. Take Ray Allen, for example, who said last night that "We just put ourselves in a position where we’ve put our backs up against the wall."

Really? Backs against the wall, eh? You aren't down 3-1, Ray. Or 2-1 with Game 4 coming up on the road. Those are "backs against the wall" moments. Not 1-1 in a seven game series. Even Coach Doc Rivers, who is making his case for worst coach of the 2008 playoffs (I mean, Sam Cassell didn't even play last night! You want me to believe that Rajon Rondo, all two years of experience, is somehow a better option than Sam Cassell? In 41 minutes, Rondo shot 2-of-9; he had good assist and rebound numbers, but jeez...doesn't Sam Cassell even get a sniff in the fourth quarter?) got into the act: "There has to be a different sense of urgency now, a desperation." Desperation? Really? I can see now where your focus and attitude might shift a bit, but doesn't it seem like the Celtics are already sounding their own death knell, when all they've done is put themselves at 1-1 in the Eastern Conference finals?

Even Paul Pierce seemed to be having trouble convincing himself that the Celtics were not in a do-or-die situation: "I don’t think it’s really bothering us, like, psychologically."

Like, you think?

I've been saying all along that this Celtics team was not as good as people thought it was (ask Hobson, he'll tell you). I said about three months ago that with their lineup, they darn well better win 60+ games in the Eastern Conference, because the Eastern Conference sucks. It's inferior to the Western Conference, where real basketball is played.

But I digress. The writing, I say, has been and is now once again already on the wall: the Celtics are who I thought they were. They're uncomfortable away from home (good luck winning a championship without winning on the road) and they're already talking like they will fold like a cheap tent should the Pistons win game three in Detroit. The Celtics may prove me wrong and keep Hobson's hope for a Lakers-Celtics old school final alive, but I think that they've already got one foot out the mental door. A loss Saturday in Detroit, and that series is over.

Sayeth Ray Allen: "Urgency and desperation. Those are two good words to use.”

Yahoo Sports: Boston's Big Three Exposed After Home Loss

JoePa, you're a crusty old fart...but I think I love you!

So I've always had respect for Joe Paterno, but not a lot of love. I think he's a legendary coach, but always seemed like a crotchety old man. I have no idea if that's how you spell that...maybe it's crotch-itty. That seems funny.

Anyway, back to the point. Today's article about JoePa talks about how he thinks all the excuses for not having a college football playoff are crap. So we have that in common. Other than that, I also have an affinity for black shoes with white socks and hair tonic...but that's for my fashion column.

The best part about the article to me is his disdain of the giant screwjob pulled on Auburn in 2004:

Paterno has not voted in the coaches' poll since 2004, when he wanted to vote for undefeated Auburn but was forced to vote for Southern California after it won the BCS title game.

"They said, 'Well, you've got to vote or else you can't participate.' So I will not participate in the voting," Paterno said. "Not that I'm against what other people want to do, it's just that philosophically I think you ought to win it on the field. If I have to vote for somebody only because people have said these are the two teams that ought to be in the BCS championship game and I think they left somebody out that probably ought to be in it, that's when I'll feel a playoff ought to be appropriate. I've always been for a playoff."

So, thanks Joe. For your fashion sense AND your common sense, I salute you!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tonight's TV Battle

To fill the massive void left by the departure of American Idol, Fox trots out another season of So You Think You Can Dance, which I've heard is Idol for dancers (Fox, 8). I'm pretty sure that Dance starts off the same as Idol, with audition episodes featuring people that clearly cannot dance, so that might be entertaining.

Since all of their comedies are now done for the season, NBC turns to it's in-house cockroach of Deal or No Deal (NBC, 8). is this show still on? It's morons randomly picking briefcases! It's hosted by Howie "The Germaphobe" Mandel! Perhaps Chuck Norris from Walker, Texas Ranger (Hallmark, 8) could do us all a favor and come out of retirement to karate-chop Deal back to hell.

In the world of sports, you've got...

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 qualifying, Speed, 7
NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Detroit at Boston, Game 2, ESPN, 8:30
Motocross: Moto X World Championships, Deuce, 8:30

(all times eastern)

Mr. Big 12 commish, I take back some of those bad things...

Dear Mr. Big 12 Commish -

I take back a couple of those things I said about the football played in your conference. Not all, but a few. All those things I said about Choke-lahoma are still true though and we both know it. If it wasn't for Vince Young's legs, you would still be crying over your string of BCS blowouts over the past decade.

However, I appreciate your recent comments about the stupidity of redshirts in football.



Finally, someone with a real chance to be heard made some sane points about redshirting football players. I think it's dumb and always have (well, since I got old enough to know the difference).

Redshirts in football are half the reason kids fail out early, transfer, quit and go home, etc. They come in with three universes worth of sunshine pumped up their ass from every coach in the country...only to be told 'um, yeah, you aren't playing this year...but work hard and get your ass beat by the upperclassmen on Tuesdays.'

We already have limits on how many kids can dress for games, so why do we need redshirts? Just give them 5 years to play 5 seasons. Most regular kids can't get out of school in 4 years anyway, and all they have to do is go to class hungover a few days a week and cash daddy's checks. Football players are rare that can balance it all and graduate 'on time'.

I bet some of those unhappy former 'all-world' recruits would be at least a little more content if they get to dress out and run down on a couple kick cover teams. Coaches would be more inclined to play them a little if they knew it wasn't burning an entire year of their development.

All the garbage about academics is crap, we all know the NCAA doesn't give 2-shits about academics when it comes to D-1 football...oh, sorry, 'Football Bowl Subdivision'. My bad. The NCAA wants the cash from the TV contracts and that's about it.

So, thanks Mr. Big 12 commish...finally some sanity from a conference I normally could care less about. Well, if you were the Big 10 I would care less...but that's about it.

Linky to the ESPN article

You Do NOT Want to Mess With Albert Pujols

Not only did the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the San Diego Padres last night, but Cards 1B Albert Pujols was responsible for knocking out two Padres players in the same inning.

First, Pujols was batting in the top of the third with 1 out and two on. He reached out and lined a ball straight back up the middle that bounced off of Padres' pitcher Chris Young's face (see video below). OUCH. Young was down on the field for several minutes and finally was able to walk off under his own power, bloodied and bruised. It looked like the ball broke Young's nose.

Then, later in the inning, Pujols was sliding into home (he was safe) when his front foot collided with Padres catcher Josh Bard's foot. The result? A sprained ankle for Bard, who had to be helped from the field.

For his part, Pujols was pretty shaken up over what happened:
"It bothers you, because you don't want to hit somebody and mess with somebody's career," Pujols said. "It's the same as a pitcher throwing to you in the head, or a ball coming at your head. You don't want anything to happen like that. It can pretty much ruin your career."

"How many times does that happen?" Pujols wondered. "In one inning, two guys get hurt by one player. It was a tough night. I'm excited we got the win, but I'm kind of bummed. Hopefully they don't lose Josh for a long time."
If I were an employee of the Padres today, I'd be commissioning an investigation so as to ascertain who pissed Pujols off. The guy is already a freak of nature; now he's just toying with his opponents, picking them off one by one. The National League better beware.

And now, the video: Pujols Shaken by Padres Injuries

Kobe Again Tries New Strategy; Again, Lakers Win

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers erased a 20-point third quarter deficit and came back to beat the San Antonio Spurs last night, 89-85, in the first game of the Western Conference finals. Unlike last week when Kobe decided not to shoot in the fourth quarter of a game against the Jazz, Bryant this time decided not to shoot for essentially the entire first half (he scored a whopping 2 points on three shots). Kobe, however, was calm, cool & collected after the win:
Bryant insisted he was "Just managing the game."

"Defensively is where we slipped. I've had games or halves when I've done that and we had a 15-point lead."

Sounding a little sensitive to how he'll be criticized equally for shooting too much or too little, he said if the Lakers hadn't played better defense to accompany his late scoring burst, "Everybody would be talking about I shot us out of the game. Defense is where it gets down."
Either way, Kobe's Houdini impression in the first half was just plain weird to this Lakers fan. Maybe he has become the penultimate poker player, the NBA's version of a Doyle Brunson, sitting back and determining the suckers at the table (Bruce Bowen, et al), and then unleashing a barrage of offense that he knows they cannot handle.

Of course, the Spurs did sit on the tarmac in New Orleans for something like seven hours after their win over the Hornets on Monday night, so they might have been a tad bit tired and cranky. One would think that a 20 point cushion with a quarter-and-a-half of basketball left would've been enough to insure the win. As Kobe Bryant showed, however, there may be no lead that's safe when he's on the court.

Daily Dime: Lakers Rally Past Spurs

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tonight's TV Battle

In case you haven't already decided that there's no possible way that David Cook isn't the next American Idol, I guess you might want to tune into the live finale tonight (Fox, 8). It's two hours and will feature more corporate pimping than a NASCAR event.

Other options include the Price is Right Million Dollar Challenge (CBS, 8), where someone has an infinitesimally small chance of winning $1M, and Al Diablo con los Guapos (Univision, 8), a program in Spanish that involves Mexicans.

In the world of sports, you've got...

MLB: Mets at Braves, ESPN, 7
UEFA Champions League Soccer: Final, Chelsea vs. Manchester United, Deuce, 7 (replay)
NBA Playoffs: Western Conference finals, Spurs at Lakers, Game 1, TNT, 9

(all times Eastern)

What's your plan for Fall 2011?

Well, you might as well start planning ahead for Fall 2011 if you are one of the millions of die-hard NFL fans. Personally, I only use the NFL as a hangover remedy on Sundays after college games...but I know tons of big NFL fans that will be very bored on September 4, 2011.

Yep, the NFL owners have opted out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Now they go back to the drawing board and try to hammer out another one.

Do you feel optimistic that a bunch of old, greedy millionaires can find common ground with a bunch of young, greedy millionaires?

I don't.

The owners complain about labor costs. They complain about rookie pool. They complain that they can't recoup lost bonus money when they knowingly draft a shithead player with prior legal problems who gets arrested a dozen times over two years.

Yet they don't seem to complain when an average Joe spends an inordinate amount of his salary just for the OPTION to buy seats to a game...much less the ridiculous amount of money it costs to actually attend. They don't complain about the billions in TV revenue that's flowing their direction.

The players complain about the salary cap. They complain about free-agency rules. They complain about the salary cap. Oh wait, I said that one.

Well if you don't think that will be the sticking point in are kidding yourself. Yes, the NBA has a cap...but it's sky-high considering they pay 12 guys. The MLB has a 'luxury tax' system...or whatever stupid creation they want to call it. But it's not a cap when one team spends $250M on their roster and another rolls up the change from the couch to afford a shitty, late-30's infielder with no gas left in the tank (I'm talking to you, Mark Grudzielanek).

Take this quote from NFLPA boss Gene Upshaw..."I'm not going to sell the players on a cap again. Once we go through the cap, why should we agree to it again?"

So, NFL fans, go ahead and start planning on a lot of yard work, painting the house or whatever else your wife has on your agenda. Your Sundays are screwed.

ESPN article about this mess

American Idol Goes All Rocky On Us

So TV's number one show, in an attempt to "keep it fresh" (as the kids say), rolled out the boxing theme last night. As the theme from Rocky played, Michael Buffer introduced the two finalists, David Cook and David Archuleta, each of whom was clad in a boxing robe and wearing boxing gloves. David Cook looked completely at home, going along with the bit (as he has with most inane Idol skits this year). Meanwhile, Archuleta looked like the band geek that accidentally went out for football one year, realized what he was doing, and then started uncontrolably shitting himself.

As everyone knows around here, I'm an unabashed American Idol fan. While I realize that this also might make me a dweeb in some circles, it is the most popular show in America. But, does dressing the two final contestants in boxing garb, trotting out Michael Buffer and having freakin' Jim Lampley of all people dissect the "bout" officially mean that AI has jumped the shark?

Oh, and for the record: David Cook will win.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tonight's TV Battle

Well, we've finally reached the end of the long road that is American Idol (Fox, 8). Tonight we watch the representation of the forces of good, David Cook, battle the evil incarnate that is David Archuleta. Each contestant will be singing three songs--one from Clive Davis, one from some sort of online poll thingie, and another of their own choosing. One can only hope that good triumphs over evil.

After Idol, tune on over to Discovery at 9 for an all-new episode of Deadliest Catch and watch grizzled men captain giant fishing boats while drinking coffee & Red Bull and smoking an average of three-and-a-half packs of cigarettes per show. (Ed. note: Seriously, I love this show. I watch it every week.)

In the world of sports, you've got...

NBA: Draft Lottery, ESPN, 8
MLB: Cubs at Astros, WGN, 8
Motocross: Moto X World Championships, Deuce, 8
NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Detroit at Boston, Game 1, ESPN, 8:30

(all times eastern)

Barkley Ponies Up; Swears Off Gambling

It appears that gambling everyman Charles Barkley has finally paid off that pesky $400K gambling debt to the Wynn casino in Las Vegas and, what's more, he has apparently sworn off gambling:
“Just because I can afford to lose money don’t mean I should do it,” Barkley, a TNT analyst, said during an interview on the cable network before Game 7 of the Spurs-Hornets series.
Of course, it wasn't for sure that Barkley had even paid the debt:

Soon after Barkley made his remarks, press officers for the Clark County district attorney in Nevada and the casino could not verify that he had paid the debt or, possibly, a 10 percent penalty.
I'm pretty sure that Barkley's paid the debt, but I've got to say that it wouldn't shock me all that much if he hadn't and was just saying that he had. After all, this is the same Barkley who claimed last week that he had forgotten about the $400K debt.

I don't know about this one. If Barkley has the money and enjoys spending it by gambling it away, what's the harm? It's like a guy who saves his money and buys monkey figurines off of eBay or the woman who risks her life to save cats--if you've got the time and money and are paying your bills, there's no harm in what you do with your cash. It's your money, right? It sounds to me as if Barkley doesn't have the money to be gambling like he does and is just trying to save face.

Plus, who honestly believes that Barkley is going to quit gambling? Anyone?

NY Times: Barkley Swears Off Gambling

Tim Duncan and the Spurs Live to Fight Another Day

After a ridiculous three day layoff, the San Antonio Spurs did what only the Los Angeles Lakers and the Detroit Pistons were able to do in the conference semifinals of the NBA playoffs: win a game on the road. Their reward: the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

Tim Duncan scored 16 points on only 5-of-17 shooting, but he was 6-of-6 from the free throw line and pulled down 14 rebounds. Manu Ginobili scored 26 points and had five assists. For the Hornets, Chris Paul scored 18 points, dished out 14 assists and had 8 rebounds in a losing effort.

Despite the home teams' dominance in this round of the playoffs, conventional wisdom was that the experience of the playoff-tested Spurs would eventually come to bear in Game 7, which was actually a close game in the final minutes, unlike the other six games of the series, which were all essentially blowouts.

Tony Parker revealed after the game that the Spurs had their bags packed and would be going straight to Los Angeles to prepare for the first game of their series with the Lakers, which tips off Wednesday night on TNT. I'm picking the Lakers in six. On TNT's postgame show, Charles Barkley said that the current Lakers team is better than any of the Shaq-Kobe championship teams from earlier this decade. So, we know which team Chuck is betting on! (Ed. note: Or, you know, not betting on; see post later today.)

Jon Lester Throws No-Hitter; Fantasy Players Everywhere Lament

Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox through a no-hitter last night against the Kansas City Royals, and I for one am gnashing my teeth. I considered picking up Lester on my fantasy team on Sunday afternoon but decided against it.

Just another example of how I'm squarely in line for worst GM of the year.

Lester's accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider that he missed the end of the 2006 season after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Lester was asked which was more special, helping the Red Sox win the 2007 World Series or the no-hitter:
Lester and Varitek were mobbed by teammates running out of the dugout as the speakers played “Tessie,” the victory anthem the Red Sox adopted through two World Series titles in four seasons. Lester was instrumental in the second, less than a year after chemotherapy cured his cancer, when he earned the victory in Game 4 at Colorado to complete the Red Sox sweep.

“I can’t tell you which one means more to me than the other,” Lester said. “The World Series is, obviously, the World Series. How many people get to say they’ve won that? And a no-hitter is a no-hitter. How many people can say they’ve done that?

“So they’re both up there. They both mean a heck of a lot to me, and something I’ll cherish for a long time.”

Lester only gave up two walks and threw a total of 130 pitches and recorded 9 strikeouts. Here's hoping that the insane Jonathan Papelbon didn't do anything ridiculous to Lester in the postgame celebration.

Dear Season Ticket Holder...F*** Off!!! - The Story of the Detroit Lions

Well, it seems that the Detroit Lions have a unique program designed for some of their most loyal fans. If you are a faithful season ticket holder and have a question about your seats, it's likely you may get a response normally thought to be reserved for a rival team.

Kevin Furlong, Detroit Lions fan. That already sounds like a guy who is a glutton for punishment. But when Kevin wrote the Lions with an issue related to his tickets, he received this (supposedly inadvertent) response.

"...Mark was asked to speak to these people and he said no. F... 'em until next year."

This email has to reflect the way Lions fans have felt for their entire existence, but especially since Matt Millen and his band of merry retards has been in charge...

Lions Say: F--- 'Em All!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tonight's TV Battle

Well, the folks over at Dancing With the Stars (ABC, 8) have their final competition round tonight, which I assume means that someone will be forced to "walk the plank" by having to play Dance Dance Revolution until their legs fall off. Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor is still in the competition, and you just know that somewhere Bill Parcells is grumbling. In an interview recently with ESPN, Taylor said that he hadn't spoken with Parcells about doing the show and that, in essence, the most important thing to him was being known for his acting in ten years. Sounds exactly like a Parcells guy to me!

Following Dancing is yet another incarnation of The Bachelorette (ABC, 9). I'm assuming that the people that watch these shows are the types that touch hot stoves time and time again or repeatedly stick forks into light sockets. If you're craving musclebound meatheads wailing on ordinary citizens, you'll have to be content with American Gladiators (NBC, 8).

In the world of sports, you've got...

MLB: Cubs at Astros, ESPN, 7
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Detroit at Dallas, Versus, 8
Arena Football: Los Angeles at Chicago, Deuce, 8
NBA Playoffs: San Antonio at New Orleans, Game 7 (FINALLY), TNT, 8:30

(all times eastern)

This is Your Average, Typical WNBA Fan

I know, I know...two posts mentioning the WNBA in one day. But, to drive home the point I made earlier, I present for your viewing pleasure a video of the typical WNBA fan:

I think that says it all. As a matter of fact, from now on, whenever anyone mentions the WNBA to me, I'm going to commandeer the nearest iPhone and show them this video.

The Triple Crown is Alive Yet Again

For the fourth time in the last seven years (but first since 2004), horse racing has its first shot at a Triple Crown winner heading into the Belmont Stakes. Big Brown (the horse, not the truck) won the Preakness Saturday in commanding fashion against what was widely considered to be a field of sacrificial lambs. So, the question is, will Big Brown be able to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in '78? Or will he go the route of Real Quiet ('98), Charismatic ('99), War Emblem ('02), Funny Cide ('03) and Smarty Jones ('04) and fail in the Belmont?

The closest any of those horses got to winning the Belmont was Real Quiet, who lost by a nose, and Smarty Jones, who lost by a length. Considering Charasmatic was leading in the final furlong and then broke his leg (and still somehow finished third), it's obviously not easy for a horse to win the Belmont after winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

But, I think Big Brown's got a shot. After all, he uses PEDs--you know, performance enhancing drugs. Big Brown's trainer, Rick Dutrow, Jr., confirmed the fact last week to the New York Daily News:
"I give all my horses Winstrol on the 15th of every month," Dutrow told the newspaper. "If (authorities) say I can't use it anymore, I won't."

Winstrol, also known as Stanozolol, is legal in 28 of 38 states with horse racing - including Kentucky, Maryland and New York, where the final race in the triple crown, the Belmont Stakes, will be contested next month.
So, like Barry Bonds before him, the great stallion lumbers along towards history. Much has been made of a horse from Japan named Casino Drive that is entered in the Belmont and is expected to challenge Big Brown. Here's Dutrow's take on how his horse matches up with the Japanese import:

"All the Japanese people...thought Godzilla was dead,” he said. “They’re going to find out he’s not dead. He’s here.”
Dutrow also loves his horse. LOVES him:

"Look at him," Dutrow said to NBC reporter Bob Neumeier. "He's in between two ponies. He loves it."

Dutrow cackled.

"He's like me at Scores!"
One thing's for sure: Dutrow's not short on confidence.

One big problem for Casino Drive is that in Japan, steroids have been banned in horse racing. As they have been in all of Europe, South Africa, Dubai, Australia and in ten states in the U.S. (albeit still legal in those states for "therapeutic purposes").

The same concerns for steroid use among horses seems to be the same as that amongst humans: muscles grow too big for the ligaments, tendons & bones to handle. This is especially worrisome for horses as the size of the bones in a horse's legs are severely disproportionate to the overall size of the horse. It'd be like Barry Bonds playing with tinker toys for legs. (Ok, maybe not that bad, but you get the picture.) As such, catastrophic injury is a legitimate concern. However, Eight Belles suffered just such an injury at the end of the Kentucky Derby, but no steroids or other drugs were found in her system. That doesn't mean that she hadn't had those drugs injected into her in the past, but her trainer, Larry Jones, has been vehenement in his denials that he never uses any PEDs on his horses. Catastrophic injuries are part of horse racing; Eight Belles proved that. But does it make sense to possibly exacerbate the problem by introducing outside influences such as steroids into the picture? Are the risks worth the possible reward?

Rick Dutrow thinks so.

One thing Casino Drive's got going for him is that two of his siblings, Rags to Riches and Jazil, won the last two Belmont Stakes. Casino Drive may have only run in two races in his entire career (and only one on U.S. soil, a win), but he's got a hell of a pedigree going for him.

In essence, you've got a steroid-laced colt running wild against all-comers, one of whom has been seemingly bred for the longer length of the Belmont. Big Brown's margin of victory in the Kentucky Derby against a much better field was identical to the one he laid on the weak field at Pimlico: five lengths. So, assuming he doesn't go all Charismatic on us, he's got a good shot at winning the Triple Crown. Unless, of course, Casino Drive goes all Mothra and knocks off Godzilla.

ESPN: Preakness laugher leaves Big Brown in line for glory

The Wacky NBA Playoff Schedule

Thanks to calculations likely inspired by the hallucinations of wunderkind mathematician John Nash from A Beautiful Mind, the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Hornets will play Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal series tonight after a refreshing three days off. They played game six last Thursday night and, for some reason, the NBA eschewed the natural logic of having Game 7 on Sunday (as part of a doubleheader with Game 7 of the Boston and Cleveland series), or even on Saturday (more on that below).

For the past several years, it seems as if the NBA playoff series have followed sort of natural progression: teams either played on Sunday, Wednesday & Friday or Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday (or even on a Monday-Wednesday-Saturday schedule). Sundays seemed to always be the home of pivotal Game sevens. Even this season, that routine seems to have been followed to some degree; for example, the Lakers-Jazz series started on Sunday, May 4, and Games 2 & 3 were on the successive Wednesday and Friday. Game 4 was on the following Sunday, May 11th, and Games 5 & 6 were on the next Wednesday and Friday.

Except that this year, had the Lakers been unable to close out the Jazz in Game 6 on Friday, they would be playing their Game 7 tonight, instead of Sunday.

Huh? Oh right--TNT. It's not the NBA that's driving the scheduling but the TV contracts with TNT and ESPN/ABC. Since TNT carries the majority of the playoff games leading up to the NBA Finals (and has exclusivity on one conference, usually the Western Conference), a lot of the games simply aren't aired on Saturday or Sunday afternoon because TNT shows most of their games at night. Instead of going up against a strong Sunday evening broadcast lineup, I guess TNT would rather have their games on a weeknight or Saturday night.

On the contrary, over on ESPN/ABC, the Celtics and the Cavs played on the natural schedule: last Monday, Wednesday, Friday AND Sunday. It isn't like these playoff schedules are made on the fly, from game to game, so one has to wonder why there is such a disparity in the scheduling of the games. It would seem that if the NBA was trying to build brand identity, they would always want to showcase some games on the same days of the week. Two Game 7s yesterday would've been very easy to promote and market to the fan base, but due to the wackiness of the TV contracts, the NBA end up in a situation where they must hope that more people will look and find the Spurs/Hornets series on a Monday night rather than a calm, lazy Sunday afternoon.

Another issue is the NBA's insistence on promoting the WNBA. In case you didn't notice, there were no games scheduled at all for this past Saturday. Why? Well, the WNBA had it's season opener that day. Woo-hoo! WNBA basketball: Expect Great.


David Stern and the other honchos over at the NBA have to realize that no average NBA fan cares anything whatsoever for the WNBA. The fan bases just aren't the same and they never will be. Instead of derailing the momentum created so far by an exciting NBA playoffs, the NBA could have scheduled a doubleheader for Saturday and had the Celtics-Cavs game followed by the WNBA opener. Then they could've promoted the ever-living fool out of the WNBA and might've gotten four or five extra people to watch the game.

Either way, all of this is bad for the game. If David Stern is listening, maybe he ought to consider the marketing of the NBA brand and address these issues soon as the TV contracts for both TNT and ABC/ESPN end this year.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tonight's TV Battle

I don't watch much "regular" television on Friday nights, so I'm flying blind here. According to the fancy TV listings over at, there's a show called Ghost Whisperer coming on CBS at 8. The show stars the eminently viewable Jennifer Love Hewitt as some sort of person who whispers to ghosts. She's one of those actresses that never had what I call a "Britney Meltdown" and either went batshit crazy and shaved her head and/or posed nude in Playboy. I'm kind of bitter about that. (Ed. note: The movie 'Can't Hardly Wait' is one of the most underrated movies of all time. Just saying.)

In the world of sports, you've got...

NBA Playoffs: Boston at Cleveland, Game 6, ESPN, 8
NASCAR: Craftsman Truck Series, Speed, 8
UFC: Fight Night, Spike, 9
NBA Playoffs: Lakers at Jazz, Game 6, ESPN, 10:30

(all times eastern)

Monkey Butlers of the Week

Worst Impression of a Giddy Schoolgirl: Mike Tirico, ESPN/ABC. His gushing over the two kids from High School Musical, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, sitting near the press table during Game 4 of the Lakers-Jazz series. I don't know if Tirico has kids or if he was just that fired up about being so close to a Disney star that has nude pics floating around the Internet. Cross-promotion at its finest!

Best Use of a Batted Ball: Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians. He turned an unassisted triple play against the Toronto Blue Jays. It was only the 14th unassisted triple play in MLB history (including the playoffs). To put this in perspective, there have been more perfect games (16) in history than unassisted triple plays. Also, another Cleveland player, Neal Ball, turned the first unassisted triple play in MLB history way back in 19-ought-9.

Worst Use of an Open Wheel Racecar: Danica Patrick, IRL driver. Danica ran over poor Chuck Buckman, Chief Mechanic for Dale Coyne Racing, during practice for the neverending time trials/practice/qualifying/pole qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Actually, she didn't run over him as much as knock him over her car. Buckman landed on his head and neck, rendering him unconscious, and he suffered a skull fracture and cuts to his face. Good news, though, as he was released from the hospital and sent home to continue his recovery.

Worst Time to Impersonate Rasheed Wallace: David West, New Orleans Hornets. Shortly into the third quarter of Game Six of the Western Conference semifinals, West was called for an offensive foul, his fourth. Did Tim Duncan flop? Most likely. Did West lower his shoulder and extend his left arm as he backed Duncan down? Looked like it. Had the Hornets just had what seemed like ten fouls called on them in a matter of a few minutes? Seemed that way. Did the Hornets need West to go 'Sheed postal and pick up a technical? Absolutely not. The Hornets imploded and the lead grew from 7 to 15 by the end of the third quarter. Then, to add injury to insult, Robert Horry set a vicious pick and West went down with a back injury at the beginning of the fourth quarter (he reaggravated an old pinched nerve injury). The result? A 99-80 Spurs win and a Game 7 on Monday.

Best Cy Young Impression: Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians. Even though these are weekly awards, we have to recognize Lee because we've only been in existence for a week. His stat line so far this season: 6-0, .67 ERA, .67 WHIP. That's just ridiculous.

Most Ridiculous Wardrobe for a TV Personality: Don Cherry, hockey announcer. His appearances on ESPN have introduced America to the Canadian Liberace. Good Lord.

Honorary Monkey Butler of the Week: H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger. You, sir, are part of our namesake, and the fact that we found the notion of you owning a monkey butler to be comical led to the title of this site. Thank you for your angry bluster.

Non-Sports Related YouTube Video of the Week: Bill O'Reilly, when he was working on Inside Edition. Classic.