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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Usain In the Membrane...

Greetings friends and foes. I got a lot on my mind this week, so instead of attempting to throw a few well placed puns and cheap shot jokes in my open, I'm just gonna get right down to business...

Well many of you will be glad to hear that I've seen the light. No, it's not that I've started watching the Olympics. It's just that I've realized no matter what everyone said leading up to the Games, every last one of you is tuning in and watching every event you possibly can. And while I had my suspicions all along, it was a poll on ESPN.com that not only proved me right, but left me questioning whether or not the rest of the sporting world had gone all nut-house on me...



The poll asked, "Is Michael Phelps 8 gold medals in the 2008 Olympics the greatest athletic feat of all time?"

Now knowing that the World is caught up in Olympic fever, I ventured a guess that while I would vote an emphatic NO!, that the results would be roughly 55-45 in favor of swimming's new poster boy. The actual results? With all 50 states, and the International voters agreeing, nearly 77% of the votes tallied had his new gold medal standard pegged as the greatest achievement by any athlete...EVER...

So I pause, and think to myself. Wouldn't that almost guarantee that #2 on the all-time list would be Mark Spitz's 7 golds at the '72 Games? Come on, people! Think a little beyond the last 5 minutes of your life before you make such a bold statement! What about DiMaggio's 56 straight, the Tiger Slam, Gretzky's 200 point season, or Bill Russel's 11 rings? Yeah, I get that the poll is weak sauce to begin with, but that's not really the point. The point is, I figured if anyone was gonna realize how over hyped this Phelps thing was, it would be my fellow sports nerds taking polls on ESPN.com. And even they have been sucked in! Listen, I'm not saying people aren't allowed to get caught up, and I'm not saying his feat isn't impressive, but the extent of this ball washing really needs to be reigned in. I'm sick of it, and now that it's effecting the medium I have chosen to work in, it's flat out beginning to piss me off...


On the bright side, the closing ceremonies are on Sunday, which means the percentage is due to begin it's rapid descent any day now. And then, at least statistically speaking, the level at which you're all being incredible frauds will begin to decline...


Red Sox Update

Overall: 73-54, 4 1/2 back in AL East; 1/2 game lead in Wild Card over Minnesota

-So I was thinkin' the other day about the Sox playoff pitching rotation, and to be honest, the whole situation has me more than just a little concerned. While Dice K might be 15-2, and Beckett has the experience of 2 World Series titles (one with Florida), the only guy I trust right now to take the ball in a crucial game, is Jon Lester. He was once the shakiest out of the bunch, always seeming to follow a stellar outing with one equally as frustrating. But now, thanks in no small part to his willingness to simply "throw strikes", Lester is not only pitching well, but he's able to go deep into games, and shorten the gap between himself and Jonathan Papelbon. Hopefully that will be a strategy that the Dice Man can learn to employ next season, but I'm sorry to say for now, he seems content on nibbling and trying to strike every last batter out. Combine that with the Wakefield injury and Beckett sleeping awkwardly on his right arm, and the most vital part of this team come playoff time, is to say the least, very much in flux. I mean in case you didn't know, late August and early September isn't exactly the best time for your pitching staff to go on the fritz...

...and don't think I'm conceding a playoff spot. Minnesota, Chicago and Tampa right there with Boston battling for 2 spots. I think the Sox are still good enough to grab a playoff spot, and the way I look at it, if they're in, I want them to win. So I'm worried about their chances of winning it all, not their chances of merely limping into the playoffs...


-As for the aforementioned bridge to Papelbon, I've been liking what I've been seeing from rookie righty, Justin Masterson. My fear all along was that his delivery would make him BP for any decent lefty, but he seems to have that under control of late, which has made him a very reliable asset. Sure his numbers against lefties still look piss poor, but in the "what have you done for me lately" category, he's been the best thing goin' in the Sox pen this side of Alex Cora...

-And just because you have all forgotten a few things, doesn't mean I haven't been keeping tabs for ya. Here are a few notes to check out...

*I'm not trying to pile on Varitek like the rest of Red Sox Nation, but don't et his 2 recent home runs change your mind about his offensive woes. Since the All Star Break, Tek is still just hackin' at a cool .208, with those 2 homers and just 5 RBI. Oh, but he's handling the staff so well, isn't he?...


*JD Drew's inability to stay healthy took a back seat earlier this year when the guy was ripping the cover off the ball, but now when we need him most, he's showing his true colors. And not only has he missed the last few games with yet another ailment, but he too has been stuck in reverse since the mid summer classic. .209 with 2 homers and just 9 RBI. So like I said. He was never worth the money Theo paid him, and he never will be...


*There is some good news though, as Julio Lugo suffered a set back this week in his rehab. Good thing too, because with Lowire hitting .328 since the break and really beginning to settle in, it gives Theo and Tito some time to think of a legit excuse to pass off as a reason Lugo can't play this year. Hell, you know what? Maybe this is the excuse! Whatever it may be, anything works for me, as long as it keeps that cracked out lookin' E-6 out of the lineup...



In closing out my Sox news, I want to wish a speedy recovery to Sox legend and the last Triple Crown winner, Carl Yasztremski. Yaz has long been my favorite player from the old school era, and though he may be old, it's way too soon for him to have to say good bye. I'm with ya, Yaz. Get well soon...

Diamonds...She'll Pretty Much Have To
-Well as much as it pains me to do this, with the fear of the karmic repercussions and all, I have to stick a fork in the New York Yankees for 2008. They can't string together runs. They're starting pitching is in shambles. And even Mariano has blown a save, and lost 2 games in which he started the inning with a tie! Maybe Hank Steinbrenner knew more than we did when he started talking about next year, but this Yankee team just doesn't seem to have that classic closing kick in them that teams past have had in spades. Lucky for Yankee fans, what thsi season has lacked in excitement, this off season is sure to make up for. Between the new stadium, and the expected roster overhaul, it's sure to keep the Bombers on the back pages all Winter long...


...in the meantime, don't be surprised if an old Yankee starter finds his way into the tabloids this week. Hideki Irabu (yes, that Hideki Irabu) was arrested in Osaka, Japan this week after downing 20 brews and trashing a local bar. He threatened the bartender, and smashed 9 bottles of liquor before he was restrained and taken into custody. No word if it was because the guy called him a fat toad, or if he himself realzed how pathetic he was, and just went buck nutty. All I know, is somewhere Frank Costanza is smiling, and most likely yelling something like "Jay Buhner had a rocket arm!!!"...



-And I can't help but wonder if the Milwaukee Brewers are becoming the gold standard for how to get your money's worth a typical trade deadline "rent-a-player". I'm talkin' of course, about CC Sabathia. Not only did the Brewers tactically plan on when to get the lefty in order to maximize his starts, but since he's suited up, they've milked his multi million dollar left wing for every dollar it's worth. He has 6 complete games in his 9 starts since joining the Brew Crew, the latest of which saw him toss 130 pitches despite his team's massive lead. Now I don't wanna sound like one of those pitch count guru's, cause I'm not. But for a guy that looked gassed after a heavy inning load last October, do you really think this is the best strategy? All the power to Milwaukee for trying to get the most bang for their buck, but I can't help but think it might backfire come the stretch run and the playoffs. And let me take it a step further. I can make a case that the Brewers have already resigned themselves to the fact they can't re-sign CC, and seeing as that's the case, don't care what long term damage they might do to him, and are going for broke. Sinister? Of course. But we all know this aint "Show-friends", now, don't we?


Hey, maybe I'm wrong, and maybe he can handle it. Lord knows if any one's got the frame to be an innings horse it's him. I just think it's something worth keeping an eye on when and if Milwaukee ends up making a post season run...

News and Notes
-Take that David Stern! LeBron may not be bolting for Europe quite yet, but one of the league's biggest stars (literally) is making the jump to Italy. That's right boys and girls, Shawny "Appleseed" Kemp, the Master of the Morning After, has landed himself a rather robust $1.5 mil to take up space for some Italian squad during the upcoming season. Whether he's heading to Europe to set up another franchise of his own, or to actually play some ball has yet to be determined. But I must admit, all these defections, no matter how irrelevant the player, are starting to get interesting...

-And just a few more Olympic notes before I get on to the rest of my business. After all, I'm forced to cater to you tools, and seeing as you guys can't shut the damn Olympics off, I figure I might as well humor you...

*The best name of the Olympics has to be that of Chinese trampoline-ist, Dong-Dong. Not only is it obviously funny, but it got me to thinkin'. If that's what his name is in English, are there any English names that similarly translate hysterically into other language? Well I don't have the answer, but believe me, I'm on the case. Who knows, the answer might finally reveal the answers to questions like "Why German's love Hassellhoff" or better yet "Why Asians still continue to worship Michael Jackson"...

*Screw Michael Phelps, the most entertaining athlete of these games has been by far and away, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. Not only did he bring home gold medals and World Records in the 100 + 200 meters, but dude did it with style. Thumping his chest as he crossed in the 100, and becoming the first man ever to set World Records in the 100 + 200 in a single Olympics? That's called style and substance, kids. And you gotta love it. American or not. Now the only question left to answer for Bolt is, can he catch a football?...


...and if you're thinkin' that's not a lot to write about a guy who's name is in this week's title, you're right. But hey, it was just too catchy to pass up, so I ran with it. Plus, dude's a pimp. And we all know how much I love me some pimpin'...

*I love how, presumably thanks to the exposed coverage brought on by the Olympics, what was formerly referred to as "Bay-Zhing" is now being over enunciated as "Bay-Ching". So, what? We've been wrong this whole time pronouncing it the other way? No wonder the rest of the planet hates our arrogant asses. For years we've been pronouncing the name wrong, but in one week we make it look like we're the ones that named the freakin' place. God I love this country. Even when we're wrong, we're right. And when we're really wrong, we nuke you so far back to the stone age you wouldn't know "right" if it jumped out of the rubble and bit you in the ass...


-The NCAA wonders why their coaches contracts aren't worth the paper their written on. Tom Crean, the former Marquette head man who was poached by Indiana this off season, just signed a new, 10 year deal with the Hoosiers. Seems normal, right? Well, except for the fact that the guy just signed an 8 year deal a few months ago, only has 7 scholarship players currently on his roster, and has yet to coach a freaking game! Pretty sketch if you ask me. But I do have to give them props this time around. At least they're covered with Crean if he decides to go all Kelvin Sampson on them and break every rule the NCAA has...

-And while I don't claim to be any sort of "ghetto pass" expert, I sure know ways to get one revoked when I see 'em...



That's about as cool as the other side of the pillow....if the other side had a picture of John Rocker wearing a white hood...(plus we all know Stu' pillow has an imprint of Serena's ass on it, and he likes to nuzzle his nose right down in there)

...yea sorry. I just puked a bit in my mouth too...

As for this one, well I flat out don't get it. I like boogie boarding as much as the next guy, but apparently that's all Jamie Foxx and I have in common...



Unless he's pulling a reverse Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, and playing a black guy, playing a white guy, who's actually a Nazi surfer, then I'm simply at a loss for words. They could call it "Ray II: The Rise of the Aryan Surfer"...

Patriots Update
Overall: 0-2

It was another less than stellar performance for the Pats against the Bucs this weekend, but with 21 starters still not on the field I guess it was to be expected. Here are a couple notes from last week's game, and a few observations from the latest practices and roster moves...

-The tenuous state of the offensive line is beginning to give me some concerns. With Matt Light and Stephen Neal still absent from practice, and O'Callahan, Yates and Hochstein all nursing injuries, is the instability of the line the real reason we haven't seen Brady yet in the pre season? Exhibition games or not, nearly every group of lineman the Pats have sent out there has looked over matched in both pass protection, and run blocking, so it stands to reason it may be less of how Tom feels, and more the Pats protecting their greatest asset. Whatever the issue is, I fully expect Tom to be out there for this weeks game. It's just a question of whether or not he has any time to do anything. And needless to say, if that problem carries over to the regular season, the Pats won't really resemble the team we watched go 19-0 last year, and come within one drive of perfection...


-With the release of veteran tight end, Marcus Pollard, it's looking more and more likely that Sammy Morris' roster spot is safe, and the Pats will be carrying 5 running backs on this year's squad. Morris will likely take Pollard's roster spot in the long run, and will complete a group that already figures to have Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk, Lamont Jordan and Heath Evans. With the injury history of both Dave Thomas and Benjamin Watson, I can't imagine the roster staying with just 2 TE's, but I like the possible versatility that the projected stable of backs could bring to the table. And I also like not having to tell my friends that I was right about their neighbor being given the axe. That whole Reche Caldwell mess last year was just too much for them to handle...


-To update last week's comments on Matt Cassel, I didn't think he did much to save his job against Tampa Bay. Coach Belichick said he saw a lot of improvement from the 3rd year back up, but I can't help but think that's just a little hype on the way out the door to give the kid a little free agent buzz. I also heard Belichick say this week that he prefers having young QB's under his control for a number of years, but at what point do you give in like you have in the past with Flutie and Testaverde? This team needs a solid backup if for nothing more than piece of mind, and I expect them to make a move to solidify that position in the coming days prior to the start of the season. The team may indeed be crippled if Brady goes down, but with a reliable back up, the rest of the team could still make a serious run deep into the playoffs...

Tackle Box
-The old Latin saying says "In Vino Veritas", meaning basically when you get someone drunk, then the real truth comes out. Well in the NFL they should switch it to "In Injury Veritas", as is the case with Chris Henry and the Cincinnati Bengals. After both head coach Marvin Lewis and owner Mike Brown ripped Henry on his way out the door, the troubled wide out is back in a striped uniform after all, and not the one most would have expected. With both Chad Johnson and TJ Whosyourmama both nicked up, the Bengals welcomed a contrite Henry to camp this week, and are no doubt praying that for once he decides to stay out of trouble. There's no doubt he's talented, hence the 5th chance to make it right. but my money says he reverts back to his old ways. I give him 6 weeks before one of his boys shoots up a flesh farm, he himself breaks a beer bottle over someones head....After all, he is from West Virginia, and he is a Bengal. Some stripes you just cant get out, no matter how much bleach and moonshine you use...


OK kiddos, that's it for me this week. I know I was a little short on football ish this week, but with the season fast approaching you can guarantee that's bound to change. Besides, I only get to vent about the Olympics once every 4 years, so you gotta put up with it whether you like it or not. So I'll catch you next week, where there will no doubt be another look in at the Pats, and who knows, maybe even some solid NFL predictions you can sink your teeth into. Until then, behave yourselves, and I'll catch you on the flip side...

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