Thursday, May 27, 2010

4 Quarters Radio May 24: 2nd Half

In the second half of May 24's festivities, the 4QR guys start off with some NBA Draft projections, including the name with whom Scott compares Evan Turner and whether there's any chance someone not named John Wall goes No. 1. In the NFL, three Colts fans weigh in on whether Chris Johnson needs to get paid. The results may surprise you. A centerfield tantrum and some goofy cartoon characters highlight the Epic Fails. Excised music: "Pieces" by It's Alive and "Mary Jane's Last Breakdown" by Keller & the Keels.

4 Quarters Radio May 24: 1st Half

On the May 24 edition of 4Q, Scott, Joseph, and Trent discuss the return of the performance-enhancing-drug epidemic. Brian Cushing, Floyd Landis, and even Saint Lance himself come in for a little ridicule. The second quarter leads the guys into the NBA Conference Finals, and one team owes Scott a half-hour refund. In Whodaman, a dentally-challenged skater earns his Tough SOB card. Excised music: "Once In My Life" by Black Sunshine and "I Get Lifted" by George McCrae.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chris Johnson's Holdout: Everyone's Got a Point

Usually, when a future Hall of Famer talks, today's players listen. (As opposed to when current Hall of Famers talk, in which case they get pissed and raise hell.)

In this case, we know Chris Johnson was listening when Marshall Faulk blessed his current tactic of skipping OTA's to agitate for a new contract.

Faulk said, "Chris has outplayed his rookie deal. He has beyond exceeded the expectation where he was drafted...after you play and prove your worth you are then paid as to how you play. He has exceeded the money he is making, the Titans know it and everyone in the league knows it."

None of this is off the mark. When you rush for over 3200 yards in two seasons while only making about $385,000 (ever notice that only in sports and politics can we say "only $385,000"?) your team has just gotten the bargain of the century. The Titans appreciate that, I'm sure.

Johnson's problem is bad timing. The NFL's uncertain labor situation has made it difficult to commit large sums of cash in the long term, especially to a 195-pound player who plays the most collision-prone non-line position on the field.

The Titans have some serious grounds to be cautious. Look at some of the other two-hit wonders (the music industry's big in Nashville, don'tcha know) that grace the NFL record books.

James Wilder: 2800 yards in '84 and '85, then injury and oblivion thereafter.

Joe Morris: 2800 yards and 35 TD's in '85 and '86, then a 1000-yard curtain call in '88 before somehow disappearing for three years and resurfacing in Cleveland in '91.

Larry Johnson: 3500 yards and 37 TD's in '05 and '06, now hanging onto NFL employment by his toenails. This season, Larry's joining the NFL's answer to the Power Station (speaking of our two-hit wonders) in the retread-laden backfield in Washington. My money's on Larry to be Robert Palmer since, given Portis's tendency to rock funny costumes, he'd fit better as one of the Taylor brothers there on the right.

But, I digress. Above all, the Titans have to be absolutely terrified of CJ repeating the Terrell Davis Scenario: 2000-yard season followed by catastrophic injury.

To CJ's credit, his original request to be "the highest paid offensive player in the league" included the caveat "besides the quarterback." This was smart. If a guy two years into the league wanted to be paid more than Peyton Manning or even Tom Brady (whose salary last year was less than 60% of Manning's), he'd be laughed out of the room, no matter how good those two seasons were. To continue the metaphor, it'd be like the Knack wanting to make more money than the Beatles.

But highest-paid running back in the league? Why not?

Apparently, the "30% rule" is why not. With this uncapped year, renegotiated contracts can only raise the base salary by 30 percent, which would put him just over $700K next season. Not the kind of hike he's hoping for, but if he gets $50 million, over $40M of that would have to be guaranteed. That kind of scale is a dangerous precedent for any team to set, and one that could bankrupt franchises if it became standard practice. Just imagine the Colts guaranteeing 80 to 90 percent of Peyton's next contract, then watching him suffer a career-ending injury.

There has to be a middle ground somewhere. I would hope that there's no NFL rule prohibiting the Titans from inserting a bonus clause that will allow them to cut Chris a check for, say, $6 or 7 million the moment he shows up for the opening game. There needs to be a gesture of good faith that shows the Titans' appreciation for CJ's rare season, while still reminding Chris of the shaky economic realities that the league faces today. Once a new CBA is in place and everyone understands the salary rules beyond this year, by all means, paydaman.

As a Colts fan, I realize that it's in my best interest for the Titans to stonewall Johnson and piss him off to the point that he stages a lengthy holdout. However, as a football fan, I can't go that route. I enjoy watching Johnson play the game too much to allow him to vacate the stage that easily.

(And no, this has nothing to do with the multiple fantasy leagues he's helped me win over the past two seasons.


Okay, but only a little.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, S*R: The First of Many Blogiversaries

Yep, it was one year ago today. Those who've read, thank you. Those who've commented, thank you times 18.

Have some burger cake.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

4 Quarters Radio May 17: 2nd Half

In the third quarter, Scott gets fired up like we've never seen him on goobers who charge the field at baseball games and equally large goobers who plead for mercy on them. He relates well to Junior for needing a nap and ponders why anyone would need binoculars to steal signs in baseball. In the 4th, Scott defends Lawrence Taylor's Hall of Fame bust and notes that Cincinnati's new Jones boys might not be bonehead pickups after all. We find out which sports city is most miserable, and a 22-year-old getting in touch with his inner high school athlete is the week's Epic Fail. Excised music: "Windsurfing Nation" by Broken Social Scene featuring K-Os & Feist and "Compliments" by Band of Horses.

4 Quarters Radio May 17: 1st Half

4Q's summer debut is a lonely place, as Scott spends 90 minutes by himself after signing off with Joseph, who calls in from Memphis to talk NBA Conference Finals. They discuss who they pick in each series, then move on to LeBronapalooza, handicapping where they think LeBron should go. Soloing in Q2, Scott gets in rants on John Calipari screwing with the NBA (again), whether Mike Brown and Mike Woodson should and should have gotten fired. He finishes up with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's opinion that the NBA needs to raise the entry age to 21. Let's just say that great minds think alike. Whodaman is kind of old news, but it's only the 19th time something has happened in 120 years, so it deserves props. Excised music: "As We Enter" by Nas & Damian Marley and "Girl You're Nice and Clean" by Buddy Guy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

LeBron's Lament: Does the King Need to Stand By Someone Else's Throne?

What's the difference between LeBron James and Ken Griffey Jr.?

Junior has the decency to go back to the clubhouse to catch himself a nap (allegedly). LeBron was seen several times during last night's Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 5 standing off by himself near the three-point line, totally uninvolved in what was happening with his team's offense or defense.

When he tried to involve himself, it was usually by way of a 20-foot jumpshot rather than trying to assert himself at the rim.

Is he injured, distracted, or overwhelmed? Any of the three are understandable.

His elbow's probably painful, he's got the entire future of the NBA clinging to his summer travel itinerary, and he's got all the questions coming his way for whatever failures occur with the Cavaliers. And he appears to be getting tired of the questions.

The elbow will heal, his decision will come and go, but if he stays in Cleveland, he'll still have all the questions.  There's only one place he can go to escape some of them.

Contrary to everyone's expectations that LeBron and Dwyane Wade are destined to ride off into the sunset on twin bullet trains to New York, that won't get either of them where they want to be.

If LeBron's getting annoyed with the tone of the questions he's getting in his hometown, what the hell does he think is going to happen in New York? The Post, Times, and News will all line up to take whacks at him just as enthusiastically as New York Magazine is trying to woo him right now. He'll be the three-swings-for-a-quarter derelict car that every writer will be smashing with a verbal sledgehammer.

No one will feel sorry for a guy whose nickname is "The King" and whose interest in becoming that rarest of animals, the billionaire athlete, is well-known. Nike won't be able to save him from the press in New York.

But Miami? Miami is D-Wade's town. So why would LeBron go there?

Precisely for that reason. It's D-Wade's town. D-Wade will get a great deal of the questions when things go wrong, much like Michael Jordan shouldered most of the burden in Chicago. Anywhere else, even including D-Wade's hometown of Chicago, it's still LeBron and Wade, in that order.

Most of the free agency speculation about this summer has focused on LeBron going somewhere with a guy like Wade or Chris Bosh who can be Robin to his Batman, Pippen to his Jordan, Baba-Looey to his Quick Draw McGraw. Now, if he's tired of having all the disappointment and vitriol laid at his feet, maybe LeBron's more open to being the Pippen to Dwyane Wade's Jordan.

James has said often that a championship is the ultimate motivation. With as little energy as he showed in Game 5, it certainly seems that he's doubting his current team's championship potential. What he needs is a player who's strapped a team to his back and knows what it takes to get a ring. A player with the killer mentality to dominate a game singlehandedly, and still do it on the biggest stage of all. Right now, there are only two such players in the NBA.

One is Kobe Bryant. No, LeBron's not going to be a Laker.

The other is Dwyane Wade, who's had firsthand experience of carrying a team to the top of the mountain, practically by himself.

As good as LeBron is, we've got to go back to 1994 to find a team that was able to win the NBA Championship without two or more players who could be considered "stars." Even then, it's not unfair to say that Hakeem Olajuwon's Rockets won because they were in that trough while Michael Jordan was hitting pop-ups in Birmingham, and they were winning the Finals over an equally one-man Knicks team. So, him winning a championship with the likes of Mo "This Guy Was an All-Star? Srsly?" Williams, Antawn "Wait, There's a Second Round?" Jamison and Shaquille "Twitter Gives Me Another Excuse To Not Practice Free Throws" O'Neal may have been recklessly optimistic.

All of this is predicated on the thought that "The King" is no longer comfortable with the accountability that fans and media demand in return for his claim to the throne. His words after Game 5 sound like those of a man who wants to let someone else carry the load for a while.

He knows where he can find somebody who knows how.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yeah, Yeah, Perfect Game's Great and All, but is Braden Still a Bigmouth?

It's not just SportsCenter that's been gushing over the 19th perfect game in major league history. The women on the Today Show gave some "aww"s over the story of Dallas Braden and his grandmother.

And it's a wonderful story, don't get me wrong in the slightest. Going forward, however, there's exactly ONE thing Dallas Braden needs to do: keep the name Alex Rodriguez out of his mouth.

After the Yankees/A's game April 22, Braden had a lot of people on his side when he bitched at A-Rod to avoid taking a shortcut across HIS pitching mound. It's not like most of us need many reasons to snicker at A-Rod, after all.

Dallas's problem was that he just wouldn't shut up about it. Two weeks later, he did a dugout interview and sounded ready to throw some bones over the Major Mound Matter.

Granted, A-Rod was a dick with the "handful of wins" comment. Of course, we kind of expect that by now. At that point, Braden was the plucky upstart and Rodriguez the arrogant, elitist veteran. Advantage, Dallas.

After this video was shot, though, Dallas was coming off as a punk who wanted to start some shit to...what? Make his rep? Get endorsement deals for Everlast boxing gloves? REALLY make sure people get familiar with the "unwritten rules" of baseball?

Whatever the reason, he wasn't doing his team any favors. The A's were already unlikely to get many calls against the Big Pinstriped Machine next time they play. Now, the slightest miss inside is going to get somebody run, or at least warned, because the umpires are expecting people to be fighting some quixotic battle for Braden and the honor of baseball. Or something.

Five days later, Dallas is making the rounds for interviews about his perfect game, most with his "Stick it, A-Rod"-spitting grandma in tow. (Okay, I can't front, that part's hilarious.)

It's awesome for him, as he joins a list with some distinguished (and some other) names on it. A perfect game is huge, and it needs to be celebrated.

The best thing Dallas Braden can do is go celebrate it until his next start and then move on. Hopefully, he does that better than he's moved on from Alex Rodriguez.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Memo to Philly Fans: Don't Trespass, Dumbass

Three weeks ago, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia hosted a sick, drunk freak yarking his nachos all over a teenage girl. The only thing saving him from a righteous beating at the hands of her policeman father was the dad keeping his head and not getting his daughters left alone at the ballpark.

Last Monday, we had a 17-year-old kid decide that running laps around left field would be a lot of fun. The picture shown here is a beautiful piece of photography, as it captures the exact moment that the kid switches from "WHEEE! THIS IS FUN!" to "Yannow, I may have not thought this through very well."

It also captures the last moment before he got electrified metal prongs shot into his ass.

The officer's action has touched off a bit of debate over unusual and excessive force, but more on that momentarily.

Finally, on Tuesday, another yobbo hopped the wall and simply took a leisurely stroll along the warning track...with a small quantity of weed on his person, to boot. Why? To prove a point, apparently.

34-year-old Thomas Betz had this to say after his arrest: "I just wanted to go out there and basically prove that, at least in my case, you don't need to Tase anybody or do anything like that to subdue a fan who would be in the position I was in."

Did ballpark security HAVE to Tase Steve Consalvi, the teenager from Monday night? Maybe not. Does his father have grounds to piss and moan about Steve getting shot with said stungun?

Absolutely not.

Let's be honest here. Trespassing is trespassing, wherever it may occur. I have a couple of friends who, as teenagers, decided to climb the roof of a local school for giggles one night. The police showed up and...did what?

Politely ask them to get down? Nope.

Chased them in circles for 30 seconds? Uh-uh.

These boys were ordered off the roof by policemen WITH GUNS DRAWN. This was not "Get down, or I'll send an electrical current through you that will cause mild discomfort and black you out for a few seconds," this was "GET THE FUCK OFF THE ROOF, OR I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU!"

Simple, direct, to the point.

Steve Consalvi got off light. If you are somewhere where you are not supposed to be at a time when you're not supposed to be there, you run the risk of Johnny Law showing up and setting you straight, not just with Tasers, but with guns. They do this not because it gives them pleasure (although with some cops, I'm sure it does), but because it's impossible to gauge intent from a distance.

It's reasonable to assume that Consalvi didn't have any harmful intent in running circles around the outfield...but how did anyone know at that point?

Did they know he wasn't drunk or stoned? No.

Did they know he didn't have anything dangerous in his pockets or strapped to his chest? No.

Is it sad that we've reached this level of paranoia? Yes. What's surprising is that naive Pollyannas like AP columnist Tim Dahlberg have to ask if we have.

When it comes to sports, the same obstinate climate that spawns angry bloggers, message-board writers, and talk-radio callers could spawn more people like...well, like this guy.

Remember him? That's Gunter Parche.

April 30, 1993? Knife in Monica Seles's back? Ring a bell?

When we're evacuating Times Square because someone left some gas cans in the back seat of an old beater, yeah, we're paranoid. When we're being subjected to everything to the left of a body cavity search to get on an airplane, yeah, we're paranoid. The only question is, what kind of oblivious moron hasn't gotten the memo?

One guy who got the memo a long time ago about goofs on the field was the esteemed home run king, Henry Aaron. The two guys who came to pat him on the back as he rounded second base made Hank nervous, and after what he'd dealt with on the journey to 715, who could blame him?

The two college students also alarmed Aaron's bodyguard, who was pondering whether popping the two would be worth the risk of hitting Hank.

It's on page 222 of a fine book on #715, if you'd like to check it out. Go ahead. I'll wait.


Back? Good. On the very next page, the author mentions that Hank's mom didn't come barreling into Hank at home plate merely out of joy for his achievement. She was ready to take a bullet after hearing Chief Noc-A-Homa firing his cannon near his outfield tepee. You think fans on the field didn't scare the shit out of her?

Simply put, fans on the field are not part of the game, nor should we give them the leeway that would suggest that they are. If you come onto the field, being tased should be the least of your worries. The only reason I wouldn't advocate having someone kneecapped is because there are about 50,000 other people that a shot could hit in a crowded ballpark.

This may sound like I have no regard for human life, which is a long way from the truth. I have tremendous regard for human life, but not nearly as much for stupid human life.

Maybe Steve Consalvi's a good student and a good kid, but for that moment, he was stupid, and consequences should have been expected. Likewise for the guy with the weed stuffed in his ass-ugly shorts. Either way, they're screwing up games for a team that gets enough attention for being two-time defending National League champions.

This kind of attention, though, the Phillies don't need. Nor do they want it. If a little force keeps the idiots in the seats where they belong, it's well worth any pain or inconvenience to one schmuck who was stupid enough to put his head in the lion's mouth.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

4 Quarters Radio May 4: 2nd Half

Bit of a late start to the second half of the May 4 episode, as we come in midstream on a comparison of a Roethlisberger and a Mettenberger. Scott, Trent, and Joseph move on to some baseball, pondering which of three washed-up Hall of Famers they'd keep and whether they'd rather close baseball games or kick field goals for a living. In the fourth, the guys talk Dez Bryant's mom and some alleged bad mojo ruining the Saints' feel-good story. Kids and beer figure in the Epic Fails, and yes, in the same story. Excised music: "Trick Pony" by Charlotte Gainsbourg and "Moves" by the New Pornographers.

4 Quarters Radio May 4: 1st Half

After a couple of weeks off from podcasting, mostly due to technical problems, 4Q returns with the May 4 episode, the final one of the spring semester. Scott and Joseph welcome a new co-host (likely to be replacing Joseph in the near future) by the name of Trent Gander. The three talk some NBA playoffs in the first quarter, including why the Spurs are boring and what the Jazz need to have any chance against the Lakers. In the second quarter, it's all about Nowitzki, Ovechkin, and whether they deserve all the blame for their teams' playoff chokes. In Whodaman, Scott cracks a nicely off-color joke in honoring a historic accomplishment. Excised music: "The Smidge" by the Hold Steady and "Come Clean" by Greg Laswell.