Thursday, December 24, 2009

So, Lemme Get This Straight: Threats Against Officials > Driving In Circles?

What we have here is a real conundrum of our collective sporting priorities. This week saw the announcements of the Associated Press's Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Jimmie Johnson won the guys' award, and Serena Williams beat out a distinguished (?) field that included...two horses (?!?!?) for the women's award.

I have a problem with neither of those announcements, particularly Jimmie...and to be fair, I am very, very far from a NASCAR fan.

What I find amusing is the assorted cyber-hysteria that's been launched on both sides. For every post crying about how Serena's going Chernobyl on a lineswoman is just the culmination of a career full of racist calls against her and her sister Venus, there's one going, "WTF? How is a race car driver an athlete?"

Let's address Serena first. Did she have a great year? Damn right, she did. Two major titles, a semifinal in a third, and the WTA Tour Championship is not too shabby for one year. But do an informal survey, and ask how many people heard about her winning the Australian and Wimbledon. Then ask how many heard about her threatening to shove a tennis ball down a lineswoman's throat. Uh-huh. Thought so.

Still, with that, we're in a non-Olympic year, so there's no gymnast, figure skater, or swimmer to come along and make the world feel warm and fuzzy. It pretty much means that we're stuck with a tennis player or a golfer as our Female Athlete of the Year, Candace Parker's welcome upset last year notwithstanding.

Considering tennis's staid, prim and proper image, which many of the surly bastards who play it seem to be dying to be rid of, Serena's outburst at Arthur Ashe Stadium is that game's version of Ron Artest diving into the crowd in Detroit. There wasn't much of a groundswell of Athlete-of-the-Year support for him that year, was there?

It could be supposed that the AP was merely rewarding someone who actually, for the first time in a few years, simply showed up and did her job all season long. Serena's been diversifying the portfolio for a while, with photo shoots, fashion lines, TV and music video work. Hell, she and Venus even bought into the Miami Dolphins this year. For a while, it looked like she was simply going to lapse into retirement, as tennis requires a lot more hard work than simply being fabulous.

To be fair, much of her offcourt stuff coincided with her attempt to rehab a knee injury. Still, tennis is pretty unique in that a player can essentially set his or her own schedule, and for a while, some were nervous that Serena wasn't coming back at all.

Now, she's all the way back, and winning major awards left and right. Good for her...but she would not have gotten my vote. And, no, I wouldn't be putting in a ballot for a horse, either.

Give me the national women's college basketball Player of the Year, Maya Moore of the UNDEFEATED UConn Lady Huskies. Tennis is becoming a game dominated by tantrums anyway, why continue rewarding them?


Now, back to Mr. Jimmie. People can debate all they like about whether or not Serena's a role model, that's all personal preference.

For a good ol' semantic argument, we can get into the whole school of thought that says "Racing ain't no sport! Hell, I can go get in my car and turn left a thousand times, don't make me no athlete!" Even better are the idiots who've firmly convinced themselves that they could put down the clicker, haul their fat asses out of the La-Z-Boy, go down to the track, and trade paint with Tony Stewart, all because they have a couple of speeding tickets from doing a blazing 30 through a school zone in their Corolla.

Driving in NASCAR is pretty damn far from your morning commute, I don't care what kind of idiots populate the driving public in your metropolitan area. Have someone shove a catheter in you, put you in a snowsuit and helmet, go sit in a sauna for four hours, and have said sauna whipped around like a NASA space capsule simulator until you're feeling two G's for four hours, then tell me you'd like to go back and try it 36 times in 42 weeks, to say nothing of extra time that you might need to practice. Over-under on you vomiting up a kidney: three minutes, 18 seconds.

"Hell, I drive 500 miles at a stretch all the time!" Do you do so without bothering to stop (or even slow down) to relieve yourself? Do you do so with no A/C in a building whose ground level temperature can often reach 120 degrees? Do you do so with 42 other yobbos slamming into you from all sides, doing things that, if done on the Interstate, would get you locked up for attempted vehicular homicide?

If you answered yes to any of those, let me know where you live so I can make sure to never move to or even drive through that state or any that border it, please and thank you.

The days of pudgy guys and rednecks who live on beer and cigarettes in between races being top race car drivers is pretty much over. Now, guys like Carl Edwards are here to make all us armchair commentators feel completely inadequate. That's the guy who does a backflip out of the car after driving that speed, in that heat, with all those other guys surrounding him, for four hours straight. Tell him he's not an athlete.

Anyone who wants to advance the theory that "the machine does all the work"...well, I have to wonder if they've ever even driven a car, hell, even ridden a bicycle. Whatever vehicle you're piloting, it goes where YOU MAKE IT GO. A stock car doesn't have power steering like your car and mine, so it takes some tremendous upper-body strength to wrestle those fuckers through turns and maintain a line that doesn't send you careening into someone else's path, potentially leading to a flying crash with shrapnel spraying everywhere.

Usain Bolt is a phenomenal athlete, but his work is done ten seconds at a, sorry, 9.5. Roger Federer is an awesome athlete who works for four or five hours at a time (even if the matches are only that long at four tournaments a year), but he gets to wander around between points, sit down every second game, and sit down longer between sets.

It takes some serious endurance to sit in those kinds of temperatures, hour after hour, week after week, all summer long, primarily in the baking heat of the southern region of the country, keeping your mind right every minute. You and I zone out while we drive, just thinking about errands we need to run after work, getting lost in a song on the radio, or just staring blankly at the world going by. These guys can't do that for even a split second, because if they stop to think, "Oh, are we out of milk?" then boom, they could die.

Racing is one of the few sports (bullfighting is about the closest parallel) where the competitors walk into the arena saying to themselves, "Self, there's a really good chance we could die today." Any of you who think you could do that week after week, year after year, and be the very best at it four years running, go do it. Haul your fat ass away from the keyboard, go down to the track, climb in a car, and start trading paint with someone (even better, 42 someones) at 180 miles per hour or more. You wouldn't last two laps...and neither would I.

Are race-car drivers athletes? You're goddamn right they are, and anyone who's trying to argue otherwise has no fucking clue what the word athlete even means. Bravo to Mr. Jimmie.

And to all the people who have no problem honoring Serena the Mad, Smiter of Lineswomen, but can't acknowledge that Jimmie Johnson has done something they could never do, and done it better than anyone else in the free world for four years are all so retardedly clueless.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vikings' Ship Taking on Water?

There are some NFL coaches who can summon enough fire and brimstone to keep even their future Hall of Fame players in line.

Brad Childress is apparently not one of them.

His players are apparently calling his halftime tirades "laughable" after his (or should it be Brett Favre's?) offense managed only seven points against the (then) 5-8 Carolina Panthers.

He can't get Favre to come out of the game. And this isn't just a one-time discussion. It happened against Green Bay (see next paragraph) and also against Detroit.

He can't even get Favre to stop changing from running plays to taking masturbatory heaves downfield with a 10-point lead, 3:27 left in the game, and an opponent who's out of time-outs. Clock Management 101, meet Trying to Stick It In My Old Team's Eye.

Apparently, Chilly can't even keep Brett from running his yap after the game, letting loose comments that provoke the chuckleworthy visual of Childress screaming at his assistant coaches clad only in a towel.

Even after all of this, Childress is running around like a madman, trying to stick gum in the cracks of the dam. He wants to let everyone know that he would NEVER consider pulling Brett, it was just an idea. Is he trying to convince the media, himself...or Brett? Bottom line is, you don't come to a player, ANY player, with the idea that "Hey, it's only a one-point game, but I think I need to take you out." Like anyone's gonna take that well?

If you're gonna pull somebody, pull them. Don't ask their permission, even if the guy is all over the league record books. Otherwise, it tells us something that we already knew:

It's not Adrian Peterson's team. It's not even Brad Childress's team. It's Brett Favre's team, and everyone else is just supporting cast. Favre made that perfectly clear when he brought the entire situation to light post-game.

I have one Favre-slurping friend (hint: he's in the 3FL and got married a few months ago) who, on the 3FL league message board, tried to give me grief about my preseason predictions for the Vikes. At the time, the Vikings were still strolling down the Cupcake Alley that passed for their early-season schedule. I will admit that I misfired on the record and the part about missing the playoffs.

However, note the stats from the losses to Arizona and Carolina. In those two games, Adrian Peterson had a total of 25 carries for 54 yards. Meanwhile, Favre threw 72 passes, only two for touchdowns and three getting picked. That part, I called.

I also called Childress having to make a separate set of rules for one player and losing control of the team in the process. Next time he wants to bench Bryant McKinnie (especially for something that Brad will take the bullet for anyway) who's to say that Bryant's going to listen? If Brett can overrule the coach on whether he plays or not, why can't McKinnie? In total, this has the potential to really get ugly for Chilly.

Last night, the New York Giants showed they weren't dead yet, and they play the Vikings in Week 17. Next week, the Vikings have the Bears, and the only hope for Bears fans is that Jay Cutler can actually step his game up to Matt Moore levels. (Yeah, that was an odd sentence.)

The point of looking ahead is that the Vikings are now only one game up on an Eagles team that is scoring on everyone. If they finish tied, the Eagles will take the bye based on conference record. That will stick Favre's 40-year-old carcass out there against playoff-level comp (possibly the Packers again, to the frenzied salivation of the Worldwide Leader) with no extra week off. That he may need rest at some point should be self-evident to anyone who's not an ego-driven, aging quarterback.

All that said, Favre's not the one most wrong here. If the coach is just "throwing out ideas" that you should come out of the game, you have every right to say that you think it's a stupid idea. If the coach doesn't have the pigskins to say "Sit your ass down," that's his problem. But if Favre gets hammered some more by the Bears or Giants and the offense is forced to change directions permanently, that's also Brad Childress's problem.

All because his "stream of consciousness" started running down his leg.

All Dirk Wants for Christmas is Landry's Front Teeth

Never let it be said that football corners the market on tough SOB's. Purdue alumnus Carl Landry had a rougher night than you on Friday. Witness:

The final carnage: Dirk had to spend 30 minutes getting the gash on his elbow cleaned and having PIECES OF TEETH pulled from his elbow. (I smell EBay auction.) Dirk ended up missing a game on Sunday. Landry underwent SIX HOURS of dental surgery and right now, is only expected to miss the game that took place immediately after said surgery.

The quotes from Ol' Gaptooth himself when asked if he'd play tonight against the Clippers:

"Why not? I'm all right, it's not going to stop me...It wasn't life-threatening or anything. It was a little bit of pain. We all go through things in life where it's kind of painful. You fall, but you get back up again, and that's what I did."

People call football a "contact" sport. It's not. Basketball is a "contact" sport, football is a "collision" sport. You have to be tough to play football, even as a placekicker (Mental toughness, think you could boot a Super Bowl-winning FG from 41 yards?)...okay, maybe not a punter, but still.

Basketball players, though, get a bit of a bad rap. There are tough bastards in the NBA, and a guy like Landry, through getting his features rearranged, moves way to the front of the line. The only thing that would have made the story better would be if Carl had gone back and played on Saturday still under the influence of pain-killers. Would make taking a charge that much easier, eh?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Big-Ass 3FL Playoff Preview

Wait...who the hell's this schmuck in the college uniform? Patience, all will be explained later.

Somehow, despite a first-round pick who couldn't hold onto the ball, a quarterback who got a boo-boo on his wittle toe and took a month off, and a stud WR who's being accused of taking some games off, the Mooby Mafia has once again reached the 3FL playoffs and has a chance of defending its title. (Looks like that might be more than we'll be able to say for the Steelers.)

Usually, in this league, we have one clearly dominant team and everybody else is scraping to find that one waiver-wire pickup that'll spend the last three games getting hot, usually off the really shit teams. Worked for me last year, when I was able to ride the likes of Cedric Benson, Fred Jackson, and Johnnie Lee Higgins to a title.

This year, though, we have three teams that were just either beautifully drafted or lucky to dodge injuries, and as a result, there are three legitimate bad-ass teams that I just didn't want to play. Thankfully, I worked up to the #5 seed, and I don't have to play one of them in the first. Excellent.

But first, a moment of silence for our fallen comrades who'll have to catch the playoffs from the couch:

12. Valhalla (0-14)--Our first ever winless team, Jason's boys didn't go down without a fight, as six of those losses were by less than eight points. Waiver pickups like Mario Manningham and Andre Caldwell helped, and Matt Schaub and Larry Fitz were dominant, but it couldn't make up for the fact that Steve Smith (Carolina version) decided to take the season off and Willis McGahee got his job ripped from his grasp. Only three of Jay's opponents failed to break 100 points, and it's hard to pick up wins when that happens.

11. Lady Shark (4-10)--Mireya had a great QB duo with Romo and Favre. Unfortunately, when Calvin Johnson started having injury issues and her #2 overall pick, Brian Westbrook, got his squash rattled against the Redskins, she didn't quite have enough big scorers to fall back on. She did start a three-game winning streak before ending the season being crushed by her hubby.

10. God'sRightHand (6-8)--Adam looked like he was going to roll heavy behind the duo of Jacobs and Forte, but neither one of them ever got on track. His 14th-round pick of the Doobie Warrior, Ricky Williams, turned out to be absolute genius. And luck, as it often seems to do, carried him quite a long way, as he had five games where his opponents failed to break 80. Only one other team had more than three such games, and it was one of the teams who needed it the least. More on that later.

9. Gutter's Tools (6-8)--It looked like Tim was in, as I was up by only 12 points in Week 14 with him having Kurt Warner and me having VD (that's Vernon Davis, not some kind of infection...perverts) left to play on Monday Night. Only when Warner and the Cardinals went paws-up was I able to relax and enjoy a playoff berth. Contrary to my preseason speculation, Adrian Peterson didn't get completely ignored this season, and Tim rode him, Warner, and Antonio Gates to some solid wins. However, I was right on when I called Clinton Portis over Chris Johnson as a shaky pick. Little did I know that Fumbleupagus Slaton would be just as bad.

And, that leads us to our playoff matchups:

#1 Salsa Shark (11-3) v. #8 Kirbdogs (7-7)--Drafting Peyton Manning is a dangerous game. You know that he'll be crunching fat points all season...until playoff time. By then, the Colts usually have at least a division title in the bag, and you're casting that anxious eye to the sideline, praying that Jim Sorgi isn't warming up. Good news for Kirby is that he doesn't have to worry about that this season...since Sorgi's on IR. Now it's Curtis Painter that he's got to watch out for. It's tempting to write Kirby off as a one-man band, but he's gotten production out of Percy (DUDE, NOT SO LOUD!...get it? He has migraines? Ahem) Harvin, Tony Gonzalez, and his big waiver score Rashard Mendenhall. He's even gotten good production out of Marion Barber at the right time, as his two TD's last night and Peyton's four on Thursday have staked Kirby to a big lead early.

Justin's been both lucky and good this season. He had the highest-scoring team in the league, plus being that team I mentioned earlier with six opponents failing to break 80. Tom Brady, Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, and Ryan Grant have all come up large for him, as well as the GOOD Steve Smith. It's good for him that injuries haven't been a big issue, because the bench has featured the likes of Correll Suckhalter and Ol' Dirty Sanchez. Of course, no sooner do we observe this point than Kevin Smith gets stuck on injured reserve.

If Belichick takes his foot off Brady's throttle and decides to rely more on Laurence Maroney against Buffalo's weak-sauce run D, Justin might have to sweat. But, I'd be sort of surprised if that's what happens. That game will also be interesting for the way the Bills use Marshawn Lynch, as Justin may be forced to use him for the first time in a month. Last time, Lynch exploded for...-0.2.

Shark: Brady-Welker-Johnson-Grant-S. Smith (NYG)-Lynch-Longwell-Vikings
Dogs: Manning-Knox-Nicks-Barber-Gonzalez-Mendenhall-Tynes-Cardinals
PREDICTION: Shark by 12, much closer than one might expect.

#2 Blue Rookie Monsters (10-4) v. #7 PopNLochNessMonsters (7-7)--Steve's BRM's were every bit as good as predicted, as his only shaky pick this season now appears to be Michael Turner. Normally, a first-round pick racking inactives at playoff time is the kiss of death, but in a league where one can go 4-WR, there aren't too many better crews to assemble than Anquan Boldin, DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson, and the waiver-wire success story of the year, Miles Austin. Fred Jackson's kept his RB position from being a total black hole, and the Rodgers-Palmer duo has been surprisingly sturdy. Even Derrick Mason started becoming relevant, as the Ravens remembered that, oh, yeah, we can throw this thing more than 12 times per game.

Jon's universally-panned draft actually paid some dividends. Jason Campbell steered Jon through Donovan McNabb's early-season injury woes, Donald Driver and Chad GrandeChalupa scored more than expected, Ray Rice became the Sleeper From Hell, and he scored big with a late-season grab for Robert Meachem. Losses of Ronnie Brown and Chris Cooley left a 6-2 start circling the drain, and only his accumulated early points kept him from having to seriously sweat Week 14.

Both these teams were able to score points, as Steve only had three sub-100 games and Jon had five. Even during his 1-5 finish, Jon still broke 100 four of six games. There are some deceptive matchups this week that might play into Jon's favor, too. With Donald Driver going against the suddenly-catatonic Steelers and Ray Rice lining up against the Bears, big points might be there. Bummer for Jon that Rodgers will get Steve a piece of any Driver production. With Miles Austin already banking 24.4 for Steve, though, and Meachem only going for 6.8, there's a hill to climb. The key might be whether or not Detroit can make Anquan Boldin as miserable as the 49ers did. (I can't even type that with a straight face.)

BRM's: Rodgers-Boldin-Austin-F. Jackson-D. Jackson-V. Jackson-Crosby-Packers
Pops: McNabb-Driver-TamaleVerde-Rice-Meachem-Williams-Graham-Redskins
PREDICTION: BRM's by 30...Jon needs to pull hard for his RB's to dominate, but DeAngelo against the Vikings will be some rough sledding.

#3 Mules (9-5) v. #6 SuicideSquad (7-7)--How does one go 7-7 with two of the four highest scorers in the league? Amanda took most teams' best shots this season, having only one game (Week 1 v. her hubster) where her opponent failed to score 80 and only five where the opponent fell short of 100. Sitting on three solid reserve RB's when you can't count on production from any WR's other than Reggie Wayne (and even he only scored 22 points total from Weeks 12-14) certainly didn't help. Thomas Jones nearly broke 200 for the season, Knowshon Moreno's come up solid for a rookie, and Jonathan Stewart's recorded some occasionally strong (albeit maddeningly inconsistent) production. Any one of them could have brought a solid WR in a league that only saw two (TWO?!?!?) trades made all season. That is, if anyone ever bothered to respond to trade offers...but maybe I'm the only one who had that problem.

In the preseason, I mentioned that a lot of Dave's hopes rode on his RB's, Steven Jackson and MoJo Drew. They produced strongly, with MJD currently standing sixth among all scorers, albeit with an extra game in hand. Brandon Marshall certainly got his head out of his ass, setting records and generally going back to being a beast. And Dave's big waiver score was the Jags' Mike Sims-Walker, who kept looking like he'd come out last year before getting hurt. Dave knew when to make a move, even benching Hines Ward last week against Cleveland when anyone else would have banked hard on a turnaround. Ward's 4.1 instead of the 14.9 he got from Brent Celek would have cost him the win and dropped him to #4. Of course, he'd be playing my banged-up outfit instead of Amanda's stud-laden group, which he's actually admitted he'd prefer. Can't say as I blame him.

Lots of guys have already played in this matchup, with Dave's two Jags, Brees, and Wayne already being in the books. Dave has a slight lead, and with Chris Johnson and Thomas Jones running into fairly tough matchups, he's got a reasonable chance to keep it. His downfall may be if Hines Ward lays another egg, since his WR/TE spot has already been filled by Sims-Walker, and there's no sliding Brent Celek in this week. The defenses could also tell a story, as Amanda has the Eagles against San Francisco, while Dave's gambling on the Texans. Although, maybe it's not such a gamble, since Houston's playing the Lambs.

Mules: Roethlisberger-Marshall-Ward-MJD-MSW-Wells-Gostkowski-Texans
Squad: Brees-Wayne-Owens-Johnson-Cribbs-Jones-Hartley-Eagles
PREDICTION: Mules by 20...seriously, I think the 12 of us could line up and stop the Rams, and that's with a free safety who goes a buck-oh-five soaking wet and a strong safety who's four months preggo.

#4 Carpet Munchers (9-5) v. #5 Mooby Mafia (8-6)--In the preseason, I was discussing how there were 10 or 12 TE's with the potential to be worth something, and Bill was certainly listening, as he drafted three. The best of the bunch, he got as a result of the entire league having a colossal brain-fart and letting Dallas Clark nose-dive into the 10th round. The second-best of the bunch, no one even drafted and Bill was able to score off waivers...and it may have saved my season when he traded Vernon Davis to me. Bill got a nice dose of good karma, as only four of his opponents broke 100 (three of those ending in losses), but his team was deceptively strong. Eli Manning is our league's #13 scorer, and Dallas clocks in at #25 for now. He got strong seasons from Frank Gore and Marques Colston, plus quietly solid work from Pierre Thomas and Tim Hightower. His waiver-wire score, since it seems we all had one, was Sidney Rice.

My problems have been sort of documented already, as I rode the roller coaster that was Steve Slaton's season and lived and died with the Falcons' passing game. Ced Benson helped me out for the second straight year, and my best draft pick may have also been my best waiver score, as I picked Jamaal Charles in Round 14, dropped him, then raced to get him again once Larry Johnson officially ran himself out of Kansas City. Four of Charles' last five games, he's broken 20, even as the Chiefs continue to suck harder than Sasha Grey. Bill helped out tremendously in our midseason trade, sending me three guys who I'm starting this week (Matt Hasselbeck, Santonio Holmes, and Vernon Davis). I sent him Greg Olsen, Shaun Hill, and Steve Breaston. It seemed fair at the time. To quote David Byrne in the Talking Heads' classic "Once In A Lifetime," "How did I get here?" As of last week, I'd had more points scored against me than anyone except Jason, and how I'm over .500 at all is beyond me. I have only one 200-point scorer, that being Randy (There's a Difference Between Hot Doggin' and Just Doggin') Moss.

This week, I'm rolling dice bigger than Indiana Jones' favorite boulder. I've got Roddy White getting thrown to by a backup QB AND being covered by the Human Force Field that is Darrelle Revis. Santonio Holmes is as big a wild-card as the rest of the Steelers, and Cedric Benson is iffy on a grieving Bengals team going against the playoff-motivated Chargers. Enter Arian Foster, the guy pictured at the top of this post. He's had so little NFL work that Google only had pictures of him in college at Tennessee. But now, he's apparently going to be The New Man in Houston. If he's ever going to have a big game, it HAS to be against St. Louis.

More than half of Bill's lineup has already played, and once Dallas hauled in his second TD catch on Thursday, I was fully expecting to be screwed. However, with five of his eight players done, I'm only down 57-0, which is a pleasant surprise. If the Redskins hold down Eli like they've done a lot of other teams this season, the Eagles jump out fast against the Niners, and Sidney Rice stays queasy, I might have a very good shot at this one. However, I need Foster to prove he deserves a job, and Moss to decide he wants to do his.

Munchers: E. Manning-Rice-Colston-Gore-Clark-Thomas-Stover-Saints
Mafia: Hasselbeck-Holmes-Moss-Charles-Davis-Foster-Carpenter-Titans
PREDICTION: Mafia by I said, after Thursday, I thought I was screwed. Now, it's doable...and even though my head says I'll likely be conceding this one, expressing my glee at playing Bill instead of "one of the three good teams" (my exact words) would really seem hypocritical if I didn't pick myself.

Next week, I'll dig back in and check out some of the season's interesting statistical nuggets while I prepare for another playoff game. Hopefully, I'll still be playing for first instead of fifth.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The 12 Days of Sportsmas

Being married to a woman who just about drools holiday spirit when she sleeps, it's hard to resist the siren call of Christmas festivity, and I've done well so far.

Until now.

I have a free-floating anger complex that's provoked whenever I hear Christmas music, primarily due to having it crammed down my ears throughout every December of a 10-year retail career. And so, what do I do to combat this uncontrollable, blinding rage?

Um...I spoof a Christmas song with sports-oriented lyrics? Yeah, this'll end well.

All that aside, 2009's been a busy year, both for me personally and for ye olde sports industry. And while I'd love to bore everyone senseless with a tune about my year of job-hopping, college-starting, and braces-buying, it might be a bit more fun to bore my readers (both of them) with a song about the year in sports.

So, I offer this: "The 12 Days of Sportsmas." Enjoy. Or don't. Whichever.

*blows tuning note on harmonica* Oh, by the way, we're going straight to Day 12, because I'm sure no one wants to read me repeating Days 1-11 multiple times to get to the end. Lord knows I'm not interested in typing all of it over and over again. Ahem...

*blows another tuning note on harmonica*

On the Twelfth Day of Sportsmas, ESPN (say it like "Espen") gave to me...

12 Nets a-losing: The New Jersey Nets broke a record by starting the season 0-18. Since then, they've "improved" to 2-24. At the rate they're both going, Kobe Bryant will end the season with more game-winning buzzer-beaters than the Nets will total wins. Anyone want to take that wager?

11 CJ touchdowns: I made fun of Tim in the 3FL for passing on Chris Johnson to take Clinton Portis. Meanwhile, my first pick was Steve "Fumbleupagus" Slaton. Yeah, Tim's the kettle and I'm the pot. He's not in the playoffs, and I might not be for long. Oh, yeah, and CJ's sort of the truth.

10 weeks a holdout: Al Davis wasn't even content to screw up business for his own team, he had to go and jack things up for his Bay Area neighbors, the 49ers. Davis taking Darrius ("1 Second of 40 Time for Every Reception") Heyward-Bey instead of Michael ("Whaddaya Mean Mel Kiper Doesn't Sign My Paycheck?") Crabtree launched the biggest NFL rookie soap-opera since...well, since Al's last retarded high draft pick.

9 trades for Q-Rich: Okay, so Quentin Richardson wasn't traded nine times this year, per se...but over the course of his career (and the three years preceding it), either he or the pick with which he was eventually selected have been traded NINE TIMES. (Give it your best Ed Rooney from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" voice.) Note that four of those trades came this offseason, and within a SIX-WEEK span. His luggage didn't even have time to get re-routed to some of his destinations before he was dealt again. Next time you feel unwanted at work, just think about this poor bastard.

8 golfer's bimbos: Oh, yeah, Tiger Woods made a lot of "friends" over the last decade or so. (Allegedly.) Take a little quiz and see how Tiger's harem stack up to other famed historical mistresses. And if you're so inclined, listen to a very complimentary porn star who had a good time at his bachelor party. (Allegedly.)

7 points a-missing: Oh, but for one more touchdown (okay, and PAT) per game, Purdue could have been playing on New Year's Eve Eve or something. Hopefully, the football team's used up enough bad karma that the basketball team can cruise to Indy in April.

6 coaches circling: There are six NFL coaches who may or may not want to get back into the league, and they've got the bling to ensure that any owner with half a working brain (and maybe even Al Davis and Dan Snyder, too) will want to have them on speed dial. Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, and Tony Dungy will keep hearing questions about their futures as long as they want to, because they're all sure to be getting plenty of offers. Apparently, some already have. (Okay, one of those is a serious reach.)


Last time I saw a hand fondle a ball so blatantly, it was Al Bundy sticking his hand down his trousers for the last time on "Married With Children."

4-team trades: And this isn't including the three or four other moneybags teams that were supposed to be banging on the Toronto Blue Jays' door with signs that said, "Rape me." If Roy Halladay blows out his elbow in May, Philadelphia will burn. Especially if Kyle Drabek turns out to be better than his dad.

3 shafted schools: TCU and Boise State scared the BCS Mafia so badly that they essentially got shoved into the closet against each other and told, "Don't come out until one of you is dead...or until the Big Ten picks its 12th team." Don't cry to Cincinnati, though...the Mafia's already helping Notre Dame get back into their guaranteed seat by shafting the Bearcats out of a shot at the national title, and thereby their coach. Even UC can't complain TOO much, though...this is the second time Cincy's poached its replacement from Central Michigan.

2 perfect teams: I would mortgage all three of my fantasy football leagues (and may have done so in one, after Dallas Clark caught two scores last night) AND Adam and Amanda's unborn child Roman (just something Adam's been kicking around the office) to see the 16-0 Colts against the 16-0 Saints (led by Purdue's Finest himself) in Super Bowl XLIV. And for the perfect halftime show, the remaining members of the '72 Dolphins (including the last Purdue QB to win a Super Bowl, Mr. Taco himself) can line up at the 50-yard line and shoot themselves.


Thanks for the overcompensation, Jerry. Nobody wants to watch Tony Romo screw up in regular definition...especially since they're paying $95 just to be in the very upper-right pixel of this photo. By God, we should be able to see Tony's mascara running as he cries all the way to whatever blonde he's hooked up with that month.

So, to summarize...and feel free to sing along:

On the 12th Day of Sportsmas, ESPN gave to me:
12 Nets a-losing,

11 CJ touchdowns,
10 weeks a holdout,
9 trades for Q-Rich,
8 golfer's bimbos,

7 points a-missing,

6 coaches circling,
4-team trades,
3 shafted schools,
2 perfect teams,


(Come on, that was way better than those weak-sauce Best Buy ads.)