Thursday, May 29, 2008

On the Flip Side

Over at Athletics Nation they have a three part interview with A's GM and Sabermetrics trailblazer, Billy Beane. Reading this interview absolutely killed me. Almost everyone of his tenets, rules, philosophies on how to run a competitive team run almost entirely counter to the espoused ideas the Mariners management uses to run it's franchise.

There are too many to even list, if I did try to list them all I could write 15,000 words on point by point how the team ideas differ and then show how it relates to the fates and records of these ball clubs. But I will leave it to you dear reader to read and make your own observations as you read through this very enlightening interview with Billy Beane.

part 1
part 2
part 3

Why Do The 2008 M's Suck So Bad? According to Bill Bavasi, It Aint Him.

Much has been written about the Hindenberg style disaster that is the 2008 M's season, picking apart very facet of every loss, complaining about lack of accountability, and generally asking God "Why, do we suck so bad?". Through it all the has been doing their best to shine a light and expose the true problems that plague this franchise. Too often are the teams problems explained through good/bad chemistry, lack of accountability and the need for veteran leadership when the true cause of this malignancy that hangs over this franchise is ignored.

In the spirit of showing the fan base what is killing their team they had a nice little article on Bill Bavasi's take on why we are where we are(dead last in the MLB in wins). Bill's take was, more or less, that it's not our crappy manager who continues to bat our slap hitting DH in the 3 spot. It also is not due to the fact that the team was built on the premise that a bunch of old no-skill players would do what even Hugh Jackman could not accomplish in "The Fountain" and find the legendary well of eternal youth.

No, according to our GM Bill Bavasi it is because the team lacks a leader to light a fire under them. Someone to hold them accountable for their failings and get them to play at the level they are capable of. He believes the team is a horribly under performing contender just waiting to bust out if just a gritty veteran clubhouse leader who has been through the wars would hold their feet to the fire.

Why does Bill Bavasi believe this? Why, because the talking heads on ESPN all concurred, in their sage-like wisdom, that with the addition of #1 Staff Ace EriK Bedard (prounounced buh-DAR, he's a Canuck, let it go), The Seattle Mariners were favorites to win the AL West. Also tons of sports writers who rarely, if ever, see our team play also spouted in agreement "Best 1-2 punch in baseball!!! Pitching will carry them to a division title!!!!" None of these "analysts" had "the nerve" to pick us anything less than second in the division, Bavasi ranted.

Sadly, as Dave at USSM points out, any sort of real analysis showed that the M's were a paper tiger. In today's sports world, an especially in baseball, the amount of statistical data available to help guide smart decision making is almost endless. There are formulas and programs that can execute said formulas given the proper data that can make fairly accurate predictions of teams given performance.

Now there are many stats I won't try to pretend I understand, UZR, RZR, tERA, etc...but I do understand runs scored and runs allowed. And I know last year the M's scored 794 runs and allowed 813 and I know that normally when give up more runs than you score you are going to have a losing record almost every time. That the M's won as any games as they did last year was not an upward trend but a statistical anomaly.

Some would argue that with Ho-Ram and Dream Weaver off the team and the additions of Carlos Silva and #1 Staff Ace EriK Bedard would shore up our runs given up and allow us to be the contenders were seemed to be before the collapse. While our pitching staff may have been bolstered the defense took a serious hit to any already shaky unit with the loss of Adam Jones in the outfield. Offensively, everyone is a year older and for the majority of our line-up that's not a good thing. Altogether, the upgrade in pitching is washed up by sub-par defense and aging hitting.

When Bill Bavasi says he and is analysts could have never predicted the team so poorly to start the season it reminds of when President Bush says he could not have predicted things falling apart like they did in Iraq. It's the kind if myopic statement one would expect out of someone surrounded by yes-men tuning out all opposing thought points on the subject. Truthfully it's childish. Reminds me of a time when I broke a window by being too close to the house taking batting practice. My parents asked me I just didn't take my swings out in the yard and I told them I didn't imagine the bat'd slip from my hand and go crashing through the window. The difference being my parents didn't buy it and I got in trouble while people seem to continue to buy or at least permit the lies woven by Bush and Bavasi.

Anyone that had been watching this team last season and thought about all that needed to go right for us to be good knew what Public Enemy was saying with "Don't Believe the Hype". In my post on the M's winning their first game I even predicted that the M's would need to be very lucky to be good and that it wouldn't require much for everything to fall apart. I said that the offense is very hot and cold and that the defense is over-hyped and there could be a lot of well pitched games lost to lack of defense and hitting. I thought the expectations that Suxson would regain his form of 4 years ago, Vidro would continue to bat an extremely hollow .300, Wilkerson would do much of anything, an that our expensive veteran pitchers would step up and prove their mettle were very tenuous and more than likely would not happen. And I've been proven right.

So, Bill Bavasi, when you say no one predicted your team to do so poorly how about you pull your head out of your ass before you do so. Then you might see that a 25 year old lowly suite runner with 0 baseball experience accurately forecasted your season. And that should shame you. Because if a dumbass like me is out-thinking you on how to run your team I'd hate to see what some of those bright baseball minds are doing to you throughout the league.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Howl for the Female Athlete

A long while back, in a different life, I was a high school wrestler. I endured the brow beatings of has been gym rats, living vicariously through my youth. Ran wind sprints until I vomited up a viscous mucus that made up the last remnants of moisture in my body. Got mocked for my earrings. Watched my peers collapse into malnourished heaps at my feet.

And amidst all this time spent on canvas mats reeking of sweat and bleach, the most poignant memories I have of this part of my life occurred behind closed doors, in a private exhibition match. An involved a woman.

I had just shaved my balls for the first time in my adult life, and my groin area was itching as if under assault from a pack of vicious ants set ablaze. The singlet I wore constricted upon my nether regions, adding to the great discomfort. It only seemed prudent that I was paired up to go face to face with a girl that evening.

As we sat awaiting our confrontation, I would catch glimpses of her eyeballing me. Sizing me up. Feeling me out. And I returned her gazes. I remember her to be rather attractive. With a little makeup she would have looked like Drew Barrymore. I worried that I might pop a stiffy while rubbing against her on the mat.

And all the while I blatantly scratched my nuts. Much to her chagrin, and unbeknownst to me.

When the time came for our actual match, she balked. Citing an injury, she forfeited. But I knew the real reason. The only victory in my career came as a result of a girl wary of what she perceived to be pervert opposition.

And I could not blame her.

Women are born to be beautiful in this society. When a woman chooses a path that does not adhere to this standard eyebrows are raised. If a beautiful woman follows a path in which her looks can be detrimental, people begin to talk. This is why Danica Patrick will catch more flack for running over her crew member and posing in Maxim than she ever will for her accolades as a racer. Her great looks serve as a distraction. We expect her to fail just as Anna Kournikova did in tennis, because we find her out of place in her field. It is much easier to adhere to the pressures of being beautiful than to shoulder the load of being a female athlete

No, we expect Patrcik to follow the path of Ashley Harkleroad and pose nude in playboy. We expect her to take the money and run. And some of them will. And some will fail trying. And every now and then a Maria Sharapova arises who we embrace for her ability to command both worlds.


A year later at the Metro State Championships I witnessed my first inter gendered match. My teammate set to square off with the girl was known amongst the team as being the ultimate tough nuts. The kind of guy who would rather chew off his arm then get pinned in a match. Let alone lose to a woman.

The match began with him toying with his opponent, slapping at her head with pompous disdain, much like a cat batters a wounded mouse. Trying numerous times to perform the "Saturday Night Ride" on her, a move in which the aggressor locks his legs around an opponent and straddles them until they succumb. He treated her like a joke. He treated her the way the team expected him to treat a female wrestler.

And then something happened. She started to gain an edge. As the match wore on, her nimbleness proved to give her a distinct advantage. Her confidence grew as she launched her body into his countless times. I remember being truly inspired by her testicular fortitude. Especially for a y'know, girl.

But tough nuts would never allow her to win. Sensing a possible defeat and the resulting mockery from his peers, he wrenched her shoulder from the socket with a wicked head and arm take down that rattled the gymnasium. Pulling the wounded extremity further into his chest He rammed his back into her body until all the air escaped her lungs.

Tough nuts won the match, despite a non win situation. Had he lost he would have been the laughing stock of the team. With his victory, he had effectively beaten up on a girl.

Recently a girl was kicked off a youth boy's basketball team for playing too well. Parents from the opposition cited the unwillingness of the boy's to play hard against her. The dilemma in this is that she will most certainly face less challenging opposition on a girl's team. Every great athlete strives to challenge themselves to the fullest. For the boy's it becomes a no win. For the few girls talented enough to hang tough, it is an injustice.


When I was working on the school paper I was assigned a story about a girl trying out for our high school football team. My advisor envisioned a tale of courage in the face of prejudice. What actually happened was that the girl was making the attempt solely for attention and showed up to camp so out of shape that she injured her collar bone doing push ups and was shut down for the season.

Women's sports are on the verge of legitimacy. Candace Parker finally brings a face to the WNBA that exudes everything that is to be loved about the female athlete. An attractive tomboy, who can look stunning if she chooses to, but holds all the grit and competitive flare of countless male athletes before. Much better than the homely Sue Bird, the statuesque Lauren Jackson, or the masculine Diana Taurasi.

However the fear for the woman athlete can be seen on Parker's team, the LA Sparks, in the form of her teammate Lisa Leslie. Once the most dominant female basketball player in the world, Leslie has just returned from maternal leave and has not exhibited the same flashes since.

If one thought rehabbing an ACL tear is tough, try pushing out a kid and then returning to the hard court.

However this is a part of woman-dom as well. It is for this reason that number one ranked women's tennis player Justine Henin abruptly retired. She simply wanted to have children and raise a family. Not much to ask from anyone really. Unless of course that someone is a world class athlete.

And while it is easy for one to suggest that female athletes hold off on child rearing until after their careers end, the fact of the matter is that this is asking far too much. When a woman feels the desire to birth a child she knows. And sometimes the timing is not the most ideal.


The other day I caught the tale end of "WWE Friday Night Smackdown." The match was for the Woman's Championship. I half expected the competitors to be mud wrestling in a vat of green jello as has become the norm since the golden age of Sable long ago.

Instead I saw a hellacious match, complete with suplexes, moonsaults, and stiff strikes. The complete opposite of what female wrestling once was. I actually found myself more engaged by the match, then by the skimpy outfits adorned by the competitors.

I watched it and it gave me great encouragement.

Because if female wrestling can become entertaining without having to sell sex, than truly their is hope for the female athlete.

And if their is hope, it gives me confidence in the future generations.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bad Coaching Decisions

A few weeks after the NBA's two biggest coach firings of '08 (Dallas' Avery Johnson, Phoenix's Mike D'Antoni), we've gotten enough time to compare their first post-employment moves. Even without knowing what was going on in Avery's camp, I figured D'Antoni had already lost this comparison contest by falling into the New York Knicks' payroll. Doesn't matter how many millions and millions and (holy crap, lots of) millions he's getting at the new gig. That's a toxic team with no stars, no bench, no draft prospects, and little salary cap wiggle room. If that's not bad enough, he passed up the Chicago Bulls, a solid, coach-desperate team who lucked into this year's #1 draft pick just days ago thanks to the NBA's lotto-draft system. There's a forehead-smacker for ya, Mike.

Figured, then, that Avery might waltz up to the Bulls' bench by default, since their current head coach search hasn't exactly yielded much better. And that might still happen. Assuming Avery isn't too busy dealing with his new obligations as a fucking car salesman. That's right--today, officially, Avery Johnson has announced that he's becoming the namesake of a Nissan dealership in Dallas.

The first video is hokey enough; the second one is excruciating. Even my father is better at faking compassion and happiness than Avery Johnson, and my father is a short-tempered asshole. Seriously, I'd love to try negotiating a car bargain with the guy whose only coaching "skill" is to shout himself crazy:


Good luck with all that, Aves. Personally, I'm waiting for the Spud Webb Segway dealership to open before I bust out my wallet.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Oklahomo wants its team, almost as much as Seattle does

In a surprise move, Oklahomo City officials have sent a nine page letter to Howard Schultz informing him, that no matter who owns the team, they expect them to play in the Ford Center. Frankly, I believe this is 3-1 in Seattle's favor as far as lawsuits go. No matter the score, Oklahoromones need to know this:
A: You don't deserve a team, you're the 45th largest market so go away stupid.
B: If Schultz reclaims ownership of the team, there is no way in hell they will move to your city, because your city sucks, and ours is mannnnnnnn!
C: Anyone who gives a rats ass about the NBA outside of Oklahoma is against the Sonics playing there, because the manner in which you are ripping this team out of a supporting city shows no sign of class or grace.
D: Without the SuperSonics, Ice Cube might not have penned this great line in his masterpiece "It was a good day"
It's ironic, I had the brew she had the chronic The Lakers beat the Supersonics

Now, moving on... one quote I would like to hi lite is this, coming from no other than (I'm not joking) Wiley Williams on behalf of Mayor Mick Cornett:
"We expect that any subsequent owner or owners would join hands with the city, and its citizens, and honor the OKC NBA agreements, made in good faith [emphasis mine], and perform as good corporate neighbors to make NBA basketball a success in Oklahoma City"

The audacity to even mention the term "good faith" when Clay Bennett all but promised to bring you a team back in 2006 while at the same time signing a contract pledging to give his best effort to keep the team in Seattle (and boy, he must have been happier than Bing Crosby tap-dancing with Danny fucking Kaye when Seattle rejected the shitty plans he had come up with) is a bit two-faced in my honest opinion. If Clay did not agree to keep the team in Seattle when signing the contract, Howard would have sold to a group in Sacramento which was offering him a better deal in the first place. Just because David Stern has no regard for the people of Seattle, doesnt mean Clay Bennett doesnt have to either.

How dare Wiley speak of good faith, when we have gotten none. Schultz sold the team, and we hate him for that, but we have not gotten an ounce of respect from Commissioner Stern, and if we win this thing in court, sue us, we dont give a shit. I hope we win, so we can wipe our asses with your 15 year lease, and laugh about words like good faith, because they mean about as much to Clay Bennett as Oklahoma City means to the NBA.

However, it is really touching that your city overwhelmingly approved a $120 million tax package to upgrade the Ford Center to world class standards, and signed a lease with bastard-interim owner Clay Bennett, but in my opinion- if he is forced to rescind ownership, than the ink has yet to dry on your contract.

Of Mice and Manning

All hail the brothers McManning!

Blessed with Momma Manning's rocket arm and Archie's good ol' boy charisma the brothers were destined for greatness. No one expected them to be owners of back to back Super Bowl rings however. Truthfully, believing that they have already surpassed the Detmer bros legacy at this point in their respective careers is commendable in of itself. The duo are poised to only add to their legacies with the upcoming years. In fact, the thought of a sibling sparring in a future title game is not an unheard of cogitation.

On one end their is Peyton. Maestro of the gridiron. His throws find receivers with laser precision. His ability to read a defense is second to none.

To watch Peyton perform his chicken dance series of audibles is a feat unlike any other in sport.
He controls every movement of his offense. His teammates follow their assignments like drones, following his instruction to a tee. And every February he takes a handful of them to Hawaii.

Peyton Manning may be the greatest quarterback who has ever played the game. He may not have Tom Brady's dimples, or Joe Montana's demeanor, but no other quarterback has taken on all responsibilities of an offensive coordinator before. Let alone in an era in which helmets have headsets and teams routinely videotape performances.

As long as number eighteen is under center, the Colts have a puncher's chance at a Super Bowl run. Anyone would be a fool to deny this, even despite a looming rebuild on the horizon.

On the converse is Eli. Gritty competitor. Budding superstar. Drooling mongoloid.

People will forget that he should have thrown the game away earlier and that Asante Samuel dropped an easy pick. No one will forget his fabled lob to David Tyree, all but stomping on the veritable throat of a once unstoppable juggernaut.

For the vast majority of his career, Eli was seen as the walking excrement of leftover Manning genetics. His games were erratic. His confidence waned with every season. For many he seemed the second coming of Dan McGwire: a small college quarterback, highly touted due to his impressive lineage.

And then something happened towards the end of last season. Things started to click. For once he exhibited signs of being superior to both Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger.

Many point to the loss of Jeremy Shockey to injury as the catalyst. I agree whole heartily. In fact, I will even go out on a limb ans say that the Giants were fools for not dealing Shockey when they had the chance.

For you see, Eli Manning is a brain dead wunderkid. And this is not a knock on his appearance, which alludes to presence of both fetal alcohol and down syndrome. The boy is retard strong and capable of great things, under the caveat that he is not forced to generate much thought.

The proof is in the results. Shockey is a ball hog, notorious for ripping his quarterback for not finding him when he is open. Plaxico Burress commands quite the hefty ego as well. Both players were on the mend when Eli came into his own. Thus, names like David Tyree, Steve Smith, and Amani Toomer racked up the fantasy yards throughout the playoffs.

With ailing superstars, the Giants went to a spread offense. With more receivers, the quarterback's responsibilities rely less on execution and more on rapport. Find open receiver. Throw ball.

So easy, even Eli can do it!

Without having egos to please and complex patterns to memorize, Eli was able to focus on just chucking the ball. Remember the autistic kid who nailed all the three pointers in that high school game? Same concept.

This being said, if the Giants manage to enforce this game plan in the upcoming years, expect big things out of the lesser Manning.

I know I already have him pegged on my fantasy draft board.

All hail the brothers McManning!

Thus far, their journey has been the anti-Stenibeck

Friday, May 9, 2008

22 Innings of Futility and Counting

So, in my last post I used a zen parable about the man hanging over a precipice, a tiger above, a tiger below. I equated this to the Mariners season. I also said that the next five games were going to be very critical in terms of keeping the faith that the M's might miraculously claw their way back into the division race.

With #1 Staff Ace Eric Bedard and King Felix pitching the last games against the Rangers things seemed pretty sewed up. I thought that going into the weekend series vs The ChiSox we'd be riding the wave of momentum from the dominating performances of our "best 1-2 punch in baseball".

Sadly, however, I was horribly off. The Mariners offense has decided to mail it in for the past three games. The heralded potent M's offense has resembled a pre-viagra Bob Dole more than an offensive juggernaut.

My buddy at work was going around offering people the over/under of 1 run for the Mariners. No one wanted to lose their money foolishly betting on the M's to score more than 1 run. No one took the under and essentially admit this team is done. Had someone taken the under in any of the past three games they'd have won every time.

The M's have now gone 22 straight innings without a single run scored. In fact, Texas had more walks in the 10-1 blowout(6) than the M's had hits in the next two games(5). This level of ineptitude makes The Washington Generals seem like winners by comparassion, for christ sakes.

Tensions are so high that local goat, Richie Sexson, charged the mound after a pitch flew three feet above his head. With the fervor he hucked his batting helmet at the Texas pitcher, you could tell Richie was frustrated by all the losing. He wanted to spark his team and I respect him for that. Though, it is possible to debate how much pumping up a baseball team needs. But whatever, Richie charging the mound, in a pretty clearly premeditated move, was the most entertaining and fun thing to happen at these recent M's games, possibly all year.

Another good thing for Richie Sexson, other than being a local fool/hero after the brawl, is that with almost the ENTIRE TEAM sucking the way the have been, the fans can't boo him. Or at least him alone. I think the fans realized it wasn't Richie's fault he's in the line-up everyday in the 4 hole. Just as it's not really the team's fault they suck so bad. Booing this team would be like booing your kid for failing to medal at the Special Olympics.

The blame for this, seeming, waste of a season falls squarely on the management. They are the ones who assembled this team. They're the ones who traded a ton of our prospects for an Ace, in the name of being contenders. This despite the glaring holes at 1b, DH, LF and RF.

If the Mariners were a house trading for Eric Bedard is like building a fancy new doorway/foyer to the house when your bathroom is leaking, the windows in the bedroom won't open, and the lawn has meteorite sized potholes. If management had been truly been about contending then they would have done more than just get us a shiny new pitcher. They would have paid whatever it took to get the best possible players for each area of weakness. But they didn't.

But don't worry my loyal readers and true believer M's fans, the wicked do not evade their punishment. Chuck Armstrong, Team President has come under fire recently. And with comments like these it's easy to see why. I have word from an insider close to Mr.Armstrong that at recent Mariners games the lights in the owners suite have been left off, even when Chuck is in suite and watching the game. This is being done due to a rash of people throwing peanuts, popcorn, and anything else they can hurl into the suite. That's right, my friends, Seattle fans are so fed up with this incompetent ownership group that they are now assailing Team President with a hail of garbage. He now watches the game in darkness, a prisoner in his own suite. The slightest flicker of light might trigger a refuse avalanche from the stands into the owners suite.

This warms my heart ever so much. I have long been saying that this team is being held captive to this crappy ownership group. And that as long as that ownership exist this team will never be a real contender. But ownership keeps raking in the cash and producing enough middling results that there is never any chance of bringing in a real management team in. So maybe, just maybe, if you true mariners fans keep throwing garbage into Chuck Amstrong's suite he'll get so tired of watching his crap team in the dark he'll decided that, as the legendary Sam Cooke said, "It's been a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mariners Season Hanging Over Precipice. Tiger Above, Certain Death Below

“A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming
to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the
edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where,
far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

"Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The
man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked
the strawberry with the other.

"How sweet it tasted!”

Last nights 10-1 drubbing by the Texas Rangers, the other AL cellar dweller, put the M's season at a crossroads. At 14-22, The M's are now 7 1/2 games out of first place with just over the first month of the season out of the way. Many may not see this as a significant gap to close, citing the '95 miracle season as the reason not to panic quite yet. But the '95 season was a miracle for a reason, the kind of comeback/meltdown that led the M's to that play offs that year are about as rare as a cute girl being cool enough to laugh at Jar-Jar Binks jokes. In reality it's gonna take about a .608 winning percentage(a conservative estimation) for us to keep hope alive for a post season run. But both LA and Oakland show no signs of cooling down after hot starts. So, even then the M's are gonna need a little energon and a lot of luck.

According to my favorite site for all things Mariners,, these are a critical next 5 games to finish out the homestand. If we go 5-0 or 4-1 to close out things are looking good as long as we keep winning. 3-2 or2-3 hope remains Schiavo-like, alive but kept that way via tons of life support. Closing out the homestand with just one more win or dropping the last 5 pretty much signals the end of contention for the 2008 season. I mean some crazed, moose lovin, dyed in the wool, Mariners fanboys may hold out hope that the Angels or the A's have a monumental collapse, like the NY Mets last season. But that's as likely to happen as Hilary comin through and winning the Democratic Nomination.

So that's where the quote at the top of the page comes from. In my mind it represents the Mariners season. The Mariners were walking through their season when they came across the tiger of contention. Being unable to win, due to poor team construction, The M's run away from contention til they reach this current point in the season, the precipice. Now their season hangs from a solitary vine, with a daunting task above. Killing the proverbial tiger and becoming architects of their own fates, would have the M's, somehow, pulling everything together and becoming contenders for the rest of the season. Certain death lurks below them, the fall and the other tiger below represent another lost year of not being contenders. To make matters worse the vine that the season tenuously grips is being nibbled away by two mice, the progress of time and the reality that this team isn't near as good as thought when assembled. Despite confluence of negative factors threatening this season there is a bright spot. The luscious red strawberry that grows out the cliff side from which we dangle. This represent things that fans will enjoy despite our possible abortion of a season. Felix Day, Ichiro!!!, Beltre's glove work, Sexy Mondays at Norm's in Fremont(where any bottled beer is the price of Richie Sexson's batting average), and beautiful Seattle summer nights at the best venue in baseball(SafeCo Field) all are highly enjoyable, almost pleasurable aspects of the Mariners even when we suck.

These next five days will decide if the M's climb up the precipice and tackle the tiger of contention, or whether they grasp to the vine, hoping things are gonna works out, only to fall to their doom. The mettle and grit that the front office likes to tell us about will be tested during this stretch. Will the M's have enough veteraniness to come together and continue wining in spite of their glaring deficiencies? We'll know in 5 days.

These next 5 days also represent what to expect from my work for the rest of the season. We win and keep competing it'll be a good summer, the fans will come pack SafeCo once the weather gets nice, and my paychecks will be proper again. This'll allow me to have the funds to fully enjoy my summer. We lose and the fans only come in for the BoSox and Yankees games, the occasional promotion, and to see Dave Neihaus go into the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame. If this happens I will have to pinch every penny I earn, any fun summer activities will have to be approved by my bank before I can engage in them. I'll be broke and summer will be one long mockery of me and my job. This can't happen. I'm not strong enough to endure this.

If this season goes the 2004 route I may go insane one day at work and finagle my way into Chuck Armstrong's suite.I'd act like a normal employee until I pull down my pants, drop a load on the floor and then go raped ape and throw my feces about in a mad rage while screaming "Ooh ooh-ooh! Why do you continue to fuck up my team?! Ooh aah-ahh!!" Perhaps after the shit storm Chuck'd make some moves to help this team. Like hire a competent GM, for starters.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Karl Malone Hall of Famer, Ringless Wonder, Deadbeat Father, Statutory Rapist(?)

Karl Malone pointing skyward, one index finger for each of his formerly illegitimate children. "What about Demetrius Bell, Mail Man? No deliveries for him? Not even a child support check?'

For years I have held a special place in my heart of hatred for Karl Malone aka "The Mail Man". It is hard to say exactly why I have this deep seeded, stomach churning abhorrence for someone, many consider to be, the best power forward to ever play the game. The factors range from childhood grudges to paths of destruction he and his 'bows left in the wake of the Mail Man's deliveries.

Maybe it's because my beloved Seattle Sonics constantly vied for western conference supremacy against the Malone and Stockton Jazz teams. One thing that will always stick with me about Malone was the ungodly amount of time he took prior to his free-throws. The entirety of Key Arena would count along in attempts to have the refs enforce the 10 seconds between free throw attempts rule, to no avail.

My hatred could possibly stem from the fact that The Mail Man delivered some of the most vicious elbows to the face I have ever witnessed. People bang on Dikembe Mutumbo for always hitting people with his elbows. And while Mutumbo has smashed 5 noses during his pro career, it seems hard to blame the man for this. I mean at 7'2" 261 lbs, the man is nothing but elbows. He can't help if collateral damage to other players results as an effect of him clearing out after he grabs a board. Malone, on the other hand seemed to relish throwing his prodigious elbows about like face seeking projectiles. He was voted as the dirtiest player in the league quite frequently when he played. It wasn't just elbows to the face that garnered Malone this title, but knees to the crotch, fists to the face, and, on one special occasion, a foot to someone's throat.

Watching Malone at a Jazz game was like watching a mountain lion stalk an Elk on Animal Planet. You could see Malone test his opponent with a bevy of subtly illegal moves, like an "accidental" punch to the stomach, or firing a warning shot off a players bow with one of his elbows. As the game wore on and Malone established his boundaries with the refs, The Mail Man came to deliver, express shipments of deadly bows were his stock and trade. Like the cougar, he'd wait for the other player to show weakness and then he'd attack. He'd go up for a rebound and in attempts to gain position would hook his elbow behind another players head and clear them out of his way. Not exactly legal, but when you are one of the marquee names in the game, like Karl Malone, the refs ain't gonna call any of that shit.

Malone also will always be remembered by me as one of the more vocal opponents of Magic Johnson's return to the NBA after Magic was diagnosed with HIV. Even at the time the entire medical community agreed there was no risk of Magic spreading the disease to anyone else while playing basketball, Malone continued to keep his head in the sand to avoid these facts while speaking from a place of ignorance and fear. I assume these comments made him a hero while playing in conservative bastion Salt Lake City but to me they showed a complete lack of understanding or compassion.

All of these things have led to an extreme dislike of Malone but nothing, not even being a deadbeat dad to his now All-Star WNBA player daughter, Cheryl Ford, for most of her life, could have prompted more bile. It wasn't until she was on the verge of becoming something great that Malone stepped up and accepted her into his family. Once his fortunes were waning he grabbed onto another rising star, only connected to him by genetics, in attempts to keep himself relevant. This showed what kind of opportunistic asshole he was, and reinforced my beliefs on the nature of this man(as much as one can be judged from what the media tells us, at least).

But none of that other shit compares to this little gem I found on while perusing their "Sports Shack" board. According to this article, as a sophomore at Louisiana Tech, The Mail Man delivered more than stat-sheet filling performances to one "special" little girl. At the time when most of her friends were worrying about who has a crush on who, what to wear to the next dance, and other adolescent activities, Gloria Bell was worrying about how to afford taking care of a child, especially when, at 13, she was only a child herself. That's right, Karl Malone knocked up a 13(!!!) year old while in College and then failed to, at any point, take care of the child or his mother. He moved on with his life, racking up scoring titles, play-off appearances, complete with all sorts of fan fare and adulation, while Gloria was forced to raise her son, without any contact or support from his father. He could forget about that little 12 year old(her likely age when impregnated) he knocked up all those years ago. She was constantly reminded of the man who walked out on her to pursue his big league dreams, leaving her to raise her child alone.

Demetrius Bell, the product of that fleeting union between Gloria and Karl ,now a 7th round pick at Offensive Tackle for the Buffalo Bills, didn't even know Malone was his father until he graduated high school. When he did finally meet his dad, Karl, being the great man he is, told Demetrius that it was "too late to be his father" and that Bell would have to "earn his money on his own". Christ, and I thought my dad was bad when he called me a bad Mexican for getting a "C" in Spanish class. And while we all might call our parents stingy at some point in our late high school/early college years when they don't pony up some extra cash on a Friday night, at least they aren't former NBA players, made out of money and still not trying to give us a dime.

It is often argued, whether being an asshole is something some have to work at or if it just comes naturally. Some do work at it, after being hurt, or burned and feeling like there is no reason to be nice, cuz nice just gets you shat on. Karl Malone though, with the ease and frequency he flashes his asshole cred, is a naturally gifted asshole. He hasn't used any AED's(asshole enhancing drugs), or gone out of his way to foster an asshole image to cover up insecurities, he just is one of the biggest assholes ever. After reading about this latest act of assholery and statutory rape on Malone's part, it puts his hunt for little Mexican girls in an entirely different, and exceedingly creepy light.

Perhaps though, there is some sort of universal Karmic justice at work here. For leading the NBA in points per game, defensive rebounds and being second in total points scored behind Kareem, the one thing that eluded Karl throughout years, other than remorse for his cheap shots, was a championship.

And that's why MJ's shot over Bryon Russel still gives me an unnatural thrill every time I see it. Sure, it's one of the most memorable images of a player whose career was full of them, but also it was the last time Malone made it to the Finals to face his nemesis, Mike. And Malone still bitches that Jordan pushed off to get open for that last shot, so he deserves his sour grapes. Then in 2003-2004 The Mail Man quit the USPS(The Jazz) and joined FedEx(The Lakers) as a mercenary in attempts to get one last shot at the ring. We have the Detroit Pistons to thank that Karl Malone's fingers remain bare to this day, a very deserving end to his career.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Soft Goodbye

As the world was caught up in the world wind atmosphere of the NFL draft, one team subtly closed the door on the career of arguably the greatest football player of the modern era. While many a draftnik were aware of it, amidst the maelstrom of draft boards, trades, and opines from talking heads it faded off quietly into the spring eve. As it should. As it no doubt was intended.

The Green Bay Packers selected hot shot Brian Brohm in the second round of the 2008 draft. a move that will no doubt spur new found incumbent Aaron Rodgers to new heights. In this sense, it was a wise and bold move. However in the seventh round, over one hundred selections later, the Packers added Matt Flynn, former leader of the LSU squad that won the national championship this year.

Two quarterbacks with potential for success. A declaration so fierce that it rivals the birth of the nation in its magnitude. That statement? Brett Favre will not be affiliated with our active roster ever again.

And it is only fitting. After all, the man did announce his retirement despite having a pro bowl year. Hell, he even took his squad within one series of the Superbowl.

He knew that he had been given a free pass to play for the Packers as long as he saw fit and he simply felt that it was time to move on. For all intents and purposes it was a noble move. It will only add to his epic pedigree.

But then he started to get the itch again. Like all athletes, he found it hard to adjust to life without his sport. He missed to routines. He missed the locker room. The glory. The failings.

Despite claiming to only be interested in spending time with his family and hunting, he simply could not flat out let it go. Perhaps it was that last lame duck interception he threw that doomed his team. Maybe he just needed to know that he physically could not go on any longer.

Whatever Favre's rationale, his comments regarding a possible return to the NFL under the caveat that his protege Rodgers is injured spoke of nothing more than a man who wanted back into the show. After all, with the amount of injuries at the quarterback position, it is all but assured that the Packers would be calling him at some point in the season.

Favre is a legend. Their will never be another like him. He won the public's hearts with his gun slinging bravado. He captured souls with his grit and nerve.

He also...

Handcuffed a franchise for several years through his struggling play, knowing full well that he would never be cut in favor of anyone else.

Played hurt to preserve a streak of consecutive games played, despite at times serving as a detriment to the team.

Complained publicly about front office transgressions, all but asking for a trade.

Threw a former teammate and "good friend" under the bus when he revealed that he was gay.

Abused pain medication.

Threw away games with his callous disdain for risk management.

Sandbagged multiple proteges from having as productive of careers as himself by refusing to step down as the starter.

However when it is all said and done these factors will matter not. Favre will go down in the annals as being the toughest, ballsiest SOB to ever play quarterback and deservedly so. Eventually the league will adjust to life without number four under center. John Madden develop another man crush. Life will go on.

The legend is gone.

And he ain't never coming back.