Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Top 10 Movies of the '00s

--As the decade comes to a close, I'll add my Top 10 Movies to the discussion (here, here, and here). I'll preface the list by clarifying that these are my 10 favorite movies, not necessarily the 10 best.

1. Memento - This movie blew my mind when I first saw it, and still entertains me on repeat viewings. I saw it with the MZA, and we spent the rest of the night talking about the movie, trying to make sense of it all. I was still making sense of it days later. Awesome movie. I almost dressed as Leonard for Halloween last year, but got lazy.

2. The Royal Tenenbaums - This movie was full of fantastic characters, wonderful sets, and hilarious moments. And despite the absurdity of it all, you couldn't help rooting for Royal. Earlier today, I was explaining why I don't want to see Avatar, saying that amazing visuals and perfectly-crafted fantasy worlds don't really do it for me. Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings thrill lots of people because the films present such fully realized versions of other worlds. Those movies never appeal to me. I find the world we live in plenty fascinating, and I guess my brain just doesn't have time for more universes. On the other hand, I love movies that present very similar worlds to our own, but do so with just enough fantasy/whimsy/weirdness that they present beautifully visual, fully realized, slightly different versions of our own world. That's how I feel about Tenenbaums. It takes place in an American city and involves 20th/21st century humans, but it clearly doesn't take place in the real world. The slightly different world is put together with such care and attention to detail that it gives me the same feeling of awe and enjoyment that others must get from the care and attention to detail that goes into crafting Tolkein's Middle-earth.

3. There Will Be Blood - This movie is largely defined by an amazing performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. The best performance of the decade, I think. That alone probably gets it onto this list for me, but I thought the whole movie was pretty much pitch-perfect. And unlike others, I really enjoyed the bizarre bowling alley scene at the end.

4. Juno - Bryan and I walked out of this movie, went to Standings, and raved about it to any Smadbeck in sight. Our thoughts at the time were that the movie was flawless in the sense that there was nothing we'd change about it. I don't know about Bryan, but I still feel that way.

5. Mulholland Dr. - I have a secret. As many people know, I'm a huge David Lynch fan. I've seen most of his films, and all episodes of Twin Peaks. Most people assume that I've always been a Lynch fan, but that's not true. While I'd heard things and assumed I'd like his movies, I'd never seen any until Mulholland Dr. It's still my favorite, which may be a result of it being my first. I think Mulholland strikes the perfect balance for a Lynch movie. Lynch first started exploring the multiple identity issue in Twin Peaks, went further with Lost Highway, even further with Mulholland Dr., and ultimately too far with Inland Empire (which I still enjoyed, but it went a little too far in the no discernible plot direction). To me, the strength of Lynch's movies are the vividness of the individual scenes. Scene for scene, I think Mulholland is his most vivid movie. There are so many scenes that just seem so memorable to me.

6. Little Miss Sunshine - Most comedies pack a lot of laughs up front, but then gradually get less funny as the film shifts focus to resolving the plot. Viewers are never given any reason to really care about the comic characters, so they don't have any reason to care about the plot resolution. Little Miss Sunshine is the opposite. It's funny throughout, but most of the early part of the film is spent getting the viewer to care about the characters and their interactions with each other. And the plot logically builds to a fall-out-of-your-seat hilarious conclusion (I actually did fall out of my seat) that's funnier in a deeper way because you actually feel like you know the characters.

7. Million Dollar Baby - I understand the criticisms, but I really loved this movie. The first half was like a female version of Rocky/Karate Kid. The second half was so impactful because the movie had made me really love the characters during the first half. And there were three great acting performances. I was a little choked up at the end; the movie totally suckered me in. Yes, some of it was cliche, and a lot of characters were too purely earnest or purely evil, but sometimes it's okay to play the sucker and just enjoy the movie.
It also helped that unlike most people, I hadn't read anything about the movie and had no idea what was going to happen. I imagine the movie's very different if you know exactly what's coming.

8. Synechdoche, New York - I loved this movie. I felt like I needed to rush out and tell people to see this movie. In response to Bryan's list, Coachie criticized Synecdoche, saying "a movie must tell a story." I disagree. Yes, most movies tell a story. And it's pretty hard to have a drama without a story. But, that's because it's really, really hard, not because it's a requirement. This movie says a lot and gives the viewer a lot to think about without a story. It's about life and art, and says a ton about both without a plot.

9. Anchorman - For me, it was the best pure comedy of the decade (by pure, I mean a comedy that's really only concerned about making viewers laugh). Pretty much non-stop laughs when I saw it in the theater (although it does slow down at the end like most pure comedies). Tons of quotable lines. It seemed like for the next 6 months, pretty much everyone I knew was quoting this movie.

10. Kill Bill: Vol. 1. - A late addition to this list, after watching part of it last night. I'm a huge Tarantino fan. Pulp Fiction is my favorite movie of all time. He hasn't come close to that level again, but this was a really enjoyable flick with great stylistic visuals. Watching it last night reminded me how much I enjoyed it the first time. I felt Vol. 2 didn't quite measure up.

Honorable Mention - City of God (late cut from my list - definitely would be in my top 10 best of the decade, but after honest reflection, I realized it hasn't stayed in my brain as much as the 10 films above. Maybe I need to see it again), Batman Returns, The Dark Knight, No Country for Old Men, Requiem for a Dream.

No Beer No Alcohol To Be Served at Jets-Bengals Giants Stadium Finale.

In a real fuck you to Jets fans, the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, the entity that runs the Meadowlands Sports Complex, has announced that no beer or booze will be served at Sunday night's Jets-Bengals game, which will be the last at Giants Stadium.

That's right, been a season-ticket holder for decades? Fuck you. Can't afford your Personal Seat License for the new monstrosity so this Sunday is likely the last you'll see in person? Fuck you. Paid hundreds for a ticket? Fuck you.

Sure, you could booze beforehand, but there's still a FOUR-HOUR game to sit through. At night. And one that could be staggeringly heartbreaking for Gang Green fans. Lukewarm cocoa cannot mop up tears. Nor can a stale pretzel.

Well, an anonymous dump deserves an anonymous sendoff. Watch from home Jets fans.

Happy Footie New Year


Thought I'd share the image I made for EPL Talk.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bay-esian Analysis

-----I guess one of us has to comment on the Jason Bay signing. I would have preferred Holliday and I think the contract is arguably a slight overpay, but it's a decent signing in isolation.

The problem is that even with Bay, the Mets probably aren't a good enough team to make the playoffs. Even if Reyes/Beltran/Johan are healthy, the Mets are around a .500 team with Bay. Adding Bengie Molina would add another win. Adding Molina & Pineiro gets them to 83-84 wins. They'd still be far behind the Phillies and a few wins behind the Braves. It's hard to get this team to a truly competitive point because there are so many holes. It's hard to win with a lineup that includes Castillo, Francouer, Murphy, and Molina and a rotation that includes Pelfrey, Maine, and Oliver Perez.

If I was in charge, I would have tried to prop up the team with stopgap solutions (like a one-year Nick Johnson deal) and avoided any long-term deals that could hurt the team down the road. Then, pour extra money into the draft and international signings. This time next year, we'll have a clearer idea about some of the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and there will be much more attractive free agents on the market.

Cold Canes Can't Cut It.

Jacory Harris getting his umpteenth pass deflected/knocked down.

Yes, Jacory Harris was banged up entering the game. And I suppose a 50-degree night can be considered 'brisk' for a team based in Miami. Maybe the great return of the opening kickoff and quick score gave the Canes a false sense of security. But Wisconsin, a prototypical Big Ten bruising team, just kept hitting Miami in the mouth and the Baby Canes in their lame-ass fiesta-style jerseys were powerless to stop them.

And maybe it's Sid Rosenberg inviting it, but the first caller I heard dropped a 'bull-****' on air regarding the Canes performance, and you can hear and feel the groundswell for Randy Shannon's head growing every year. At what point does his neutering program face accountability?

"Things just didn't happen our way," Shannon said. "I can't explain why."

Quotes like that don't help. One helluva leader.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Leave it to the pros, Billy.





Now which song better captures the spirit of Hurricanes football? The only saving grace I could think of for the hymn was that Corben produced it facetiously for his documentary, but he just should've given Uncle Luke another song to write.

And on that note, be sure to watch Tha U throttle a chump Big (11) Ten school -Wisconsin- in the Champs Sports Bowl tonight.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hitting the Inside Straight

There's no other way to describe yesterday's events from a Jets perspective: the Colts folded with a pair of queens on the turn and Rex completed the straight on the river. If you're Jim Caldwell, why let Peyton break out the Manning face before the playoffs begin? And where was Vinny Testaverde warming up on the sidelines for Indy? Coulda signed him the day of the game and he would've done a better job than the absolutely mortified Curtis Painter.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

RIP



SportsMachine was my way of seeing sports highlights without cable back in the day. Once the internet became ubiquitous I remember being shocked that the show was still STILL. In any case, RIP homey, hope the Machine is recapping events up above.
Plays of the year 2006

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Rich Get Richer

Yikes. Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for Melky and prospects. Vazquez is in final year of contract, getting paid a reasonable $11.5. Melky due ~$3 million in arbitration. Arodys Vizcaino has ace-potential, but is very far from the majors (he just turned 19). The other prospect is mediocre.

The Yanks rotation is now the best in baseball with Sabathia, Vazquez, Burnett, Pettitte, and Sabathia (assuming Hughes, not CC, winds up in the pen). Geez, the team is going to be really, really good this year. 105 wins? Melky is pretty much interchangeable with Brett Gardner, and since CF is filled, neither is really essential to the team. But, he's a decent cheap addition for the Braves, who could use some outfield depth while they're waiting for Schafer and Heyward to develop.

I'm reaching to find a negative spin for the Yanks, but Vazquez is a flyball pitcher, which is a bad fit for New Yankee Stadium.

Gorgeous Pictures of Old Yankee and Old Shea Stadiums

The Out-of-Town-Scoreboard, made obsolete for a time by B.O.O.T.S.
Phil Rizzuto, blowin shit up.
Not sure whom to credit, but it's from this thread, where many, many more senses-shattering shots of NYC in the 70s can be found.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Competitive Balance: An Issue in Baseball and the NBA. And, Vote for the Decade's Best NY Post Cover.

An astute New York Post reader named Ken Drexler, of North Woodmere, N.Y., offered his astute take on competitive balance in Sunday's letters section:
----
As of Friday, 16 out of 30 NBA teams were below .500. Ten of the 30 aren't even competitive, including both teams in the New York area, the biggest argument in the country. The argument that a league needs a salary cap to insure competitiveness finally has shown to be completely bogus. In the long run, it strangles competition. I think the NBA players union finally has gotten to a strong enough position to bargain to get their rights back and save the game. I sure hope they do, because watching professional sports without competition is pretty boring.
----
While we are up in New York Post, they are offering us readers the chance to vote for the decade's best front page. There is A LOT to choose from. First blush would be the weasels, but then there's "The Bimbo Summit," and Charlie Rangel passed out at a resort.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Worst #1 Defense in NFL History

Have you ever seen a statistically dominant defense crumble on cue late in every big game? Week 2 against the Patriots seems like a long time ago. Defense looks downright Mangini-like.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

There Were Movies This Decade

This list reads like the Anti-Oscars. I went back and looked over all the Academy Awards since 2000, and man, it’s just one woofer/snoozer after another. I didn’t see many of them. Gee, what a shame.

RAMBO- Based on my nonstop reactions in the theater, you could also call this movie “WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” or “OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” or “I SEE THAT THE THX SOUND WORKS VERY WELL IN THIS THEATER!” Loud bloody violence, surprisingly badass expendable mercenary sidekicks, and wondering what would happen first- Sly’s head expanding to the width of the screen, or his face falling off his skull. But wait, did I mention the violence? The finale is like the opening of Saving Private Ryan, but with one dude firing nine trillion huge caliber rounds from a jeep-mounted machine gun. Yes please. Also, if you thought Tiger Woods had a long driveway (topical!), stick around for the end credits when Rambo walks home. He may just be getting to the front door as I write this.

ANCHORMAN- “Funniest movie since Naked Gun,” I announced as I left the theater, and I stand by that. While the pure absurdity of the lines may not have the same effect on further viewings, you forget just how many absurd, fall-down-laughing lines there were. The supporting cast is fantastic- even the normally intolerable Vince Vaughn and the eye-gougingly grating Jack Black are perfect in (thankfully) small roles.

TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE- Sure, the puppets are hilarious, but the real strength of the movie is the soundtrack, with such gems as “Everyone Has AIDS”, “I’m So Ronery”, “Montage”, the unheralded “Pearl Harbor Sucks” (I missed you more than Michael Bay missed the mark/when he made Pearl Harbor/I miss you more than Ben Affleck needs acting school/he was terrible in that film), and of course, a thousand times of course, “America Fuck Yeah”. Fuck yeah. (Also, yes Bryan, MATT DAAAMON. And America’s greatest actor, Arec Bahhhhwin.)

INFERNAL AFFAIRS TRILOGY- Hey, America, here, watch The Departed, we dumbed down the original and gave it a tacked-on, crowd pleasing ending just for you guys! Well, thanks, Mr. Scorcese. The Hong Kong original remains perhaps the only foreign language movie I’ve ever seen in which I can appreciate the acting despite not understanding a single word. Andy Lau (my man) and Tony Leung are tremendous, the rooftop showdown makes the movie, the ending is perfect (and totally unexpected). The following prequel was solid but a bit lacking since we knew what would happen, but part 3, as a direct sequel to the original, was nearly as engaging as the first and unlike most sequels, actually advanced the story and tied up the loose ends.

GANGS OF NEW YORK- It’s sheer bloat definitely hurts its rewatchability, but I remember seeing this in theaters and being blown away by Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance as Bill the Butcher. It’s also the movie that- to my surprise- made me appreciate Leo DiCaprio as more than “the kid from the end of Growing Pains”. Also, it’s impressively violent. That cannot be overlooked. The only downside- and it’s a big one- is Cameron Diaz’ atrocious performance as whoever. Man, she was terrible.
(Postscript: One of many reasons the Oscars are hogwash- the travesty of Daniel Day-Lewis losing Best Actor to Adrien Brody (slapping forehead). This was as bad as Jack Nicholson not being nominated for Batman. But guess who won that year? Daniel Day-Lewis. So, um, evens out?)
(Post-postscript- No, it doesn’t. remember, we’re talking Adrien Brody. He is bad. At acting.)

IDIOCRACY- Inspired, ah, idiocy. When you hear “electrolytes”, how can you now think of anything but Brawndo (what plants crave)? When Obama makes a speech, don’t you wish it had the showmanship of President of America Hector Camacho’s opening line “I know shit's bad right now with all that starvin' bullshit.” If the Oscar-winning movie-mentioned-in-the-movie (Ass) existed, I know some people who would have put it on their all-decade list. The scary thing is, are we really all that far away from some of this stupidity?

SHAOLIN SOCCER- The comedic sensibilities of Stephen Chow- and of Hong Kong films as a whole- don’t really translate to an American audience, but if the humor is couched in the universal language of the underdog sports movie, it works like a charm. The cast shows a great gift for physical comedy and comedic timing, and the sports scenes turn the clich├ęs of the genre on their head. Fun times all around.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO- Who’da thunk Robert Rodriguez could top Desperado? He left it in the dust with this completely over-the-top (in all ways) sequel. A great cast of overactors (Banderas, Dafoe, Depp, Rourke) service a ludicrously complex plot that, in turn, leads to more and more crazy shooting, and that is what’s important. Enrique Iglesias as a moody badass? If you can get me to buy that, you’ve done something right.

SIMPSONS MOVIE- Sure, I’m still an unabashed Simpsons fan. I don’t pretend that it’s anywhere near what it was 15 years ago, but it’s like comfort food, and it’s still more entertaining than at least 75% of the garbage on TV today. The movie’s gorgeous animation was like a breath of fresh air, and many of the gags (such as the fake Simpsons-looking family arrested in the convenience store) hearkened back to the good old days. The writers could have coasted to easy jokes and just relied upon built-in Simpsons loyalty, but they didn’t, and this movie was way better than most (myself included) expected.

BORAT/BRUNO- I don’t necessarily find these rewatchable, but that’s only because the nature of the movies (guerilla comedy), not because of the content. Any cringeworthiness is more than outweighed by the absurdity of the questions and the situations. Ali G is a genius.


FIVE WORST

Eviscerating movies is WAY more fun.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END- The first one was surprisingly entertaining. Then we saw it again disguised as a sequel. Aaaand then we saw both again, plus an extra hour of padding, plus 8000 supporting characters and way too much Orlando Bloom in the super-tedious, super-loud part 3.

TRANSFORMERS- It’s called “Transformers”. Not “Some Lame Transformers, Sometimes, But Mostly Humans.” And what annoying humans at that. Shia LaBoo shows up to ruin yet another movie (see next entry). Every scene can be summed up thusly: “What just happened?”

INDIANA JONES AND WHATEVER- The only time I have ever booed at the screen in a theater (during the feature, that is- previews are fair game). The only time I have smacked my head in disgust in a theater. The only time I have yelled at the screen “No! NOOO!” (that was either at the CGI monkeys, or at the big reveal). In case you didn’t hear- it was aliens. Their treasure was knowledge. Bite me.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: AI- OK, this was actually the first time I booed at the screen during the feature. Must have blocked out the memory, because I was digging the movie until- well, if you saw the movie, you know where, because you hated it too. Come on, you know… yup, when the aliens showed up. Wait… Spielberg took over after Kubrick died and suddenly there were aliens… see previous entry. All that needs to be said is that we got up after 2 hours, thinking the movie had come to its logical, satisfying ending- and then we were subjected to another half hour of schmaltzy nonsense.

THE HANGOVER- Oh, I’m sorry, I had to mindlessly like it because it was so cool? This movie sucked. Hard, largely because it fell so far from it’s (inexplicably) ;lofty reviews. Fat guy not funny just because he has a beard. Asian guy not funny just because he’s Asian and curses. Bachelor party unfolding in real life: likely entertaining. Watching a bachelor party unfold on screen, with ten times the contrived wackiness (fat guy and tiger! Fat guy and baby! Fat guy in underwear! Vegas wedding! Ruh roh!): not necessarily hilarious. More like interminable.

Oh, I’ve got more. I dare you to ask for more.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This isn't blackjack. You don't always split your aces.

Now that the Halladay trade is official, it's time for some analysis.

Back in July, I complemented the Phillies' acquisition of Cliff Lee, partially because "the organization didn't have to part with any of their 3 top prospects (according to Baseball America)."
Now the Phills have parted with 2 of those 3 prospects to make a much smaller upgrade in the rotation. Their primary motivation was that Halladay was willing to sign a contract extension at a reasonable price and Lee wasn't. Fair enough - if Philadelphia felt the need to wrap up an ace for the next few years, maybe it was worth giving up some great prospects. But, why did they feel required to trade their other ace? Why not keep both?

This trade is being described as a three-way deal, but it's really two separate two-team deals. No players are being exchanged by the Blue Jays and Mariners. There's no reason why the Phillies needed to get a third team involved. If they'd just traded for Halladay, they'd have the best 1-2 in baseball and the best rotation overall. They'd be the clear favorite to win the NL pennant, and with their two aces, a legitimate threat to the Yankees/Red Sox if they made it to the World Series. They'd be the first NL team to act like the Yankees and Red Sox this century.

Instead, they traded Lee and his very reasonable contract for 3 good-not-great prospects, which isn't that much better than just taking the draft picks next year.

ESPN's Soccernet Posts Nike CTR360 Trequartista AG Soccer Cleat Review by a Friend of Ours.

Espn's Soccernet.com has posted a review of new Nike soccer cleats. Forward, not backward, upward, not forward, and always twirling, twirling towards freedom.

My U

Billy Corben's "The U" was a provocative look into the birth of a football powerhouse that transcended the sport to such a level that it not only became a part of a subculture but transformed a city and gave it a new identity. It also woke up the echoes -eat your heart out, Notre Dame- of the last stand of the Miami Empire, when a young Freddy Coupon enjoyed watching star-studded Hurricane squads romp over the competition, taking no prisoners or **** from anybody until that fateful evening in Tempe -where's the Buster Olney book about the end of that dynasty?

But let's go back to the beginning. To Lou Saban building a foundation in the late 70s before an ugly campus incident forced him to flee and put the program on the brink of oblivion -Division IAA. Enter Howard Schnellenberger and his aggressive recruiting campaign that turned South Florida to the "State of Miami." The cathartic 1984 Orange Bowl victory over Nebraska that ended decades of frustration and gave the citizenry of Miami a team to rally around -and become the team of Miami, even to this day. Then during the afterglow of the national title, the emotional departure of Schnellenberger and the introduction of Jimmy Johnson, the perfect coach -after getting bullied around by Texas and Oklahoma at OK State, Jimmy took names down and boasted a massive chip on his shoulder to match his perfectly maintained helmet- for the job. For Jimmy, as long as you hit hard, you could play hard. That's when the documentary really gained steam. My observations:

-I guess that's as sober a Bernie the producers were gonna get.

-Where was his successor? Was Vinny too busy working out, hoping for one last ride on the Jets' saddle?

-How familiar were those picks Vinny zipped to Penn State in that Fiesta -ugh- Bowl? Was having traumatic green and white flashbacks.

-Schnellenberger went on to have a great coaching career after the debacle with the USFL, but talk about one of the worst hindsight decisions ever.

-I guess it's kinda poetic the 58-7 rout Jimmy Johnson led over Notre Dame in Gerry Faust's last game that riled up Irish legend and CBS broadcaster Ara Parseghian would follow Jimmy all the way to the end of his -and Dan Marino's- career, a 62-7 humiliation to the Jacksonville Jaguars -revenge from Catholic Tom Coughlin? Or interstate message?- in the playoffs.

-When did Dan LeBatard -teehee- become a pirate? When he was asked to provide input, did he deem the goatee appropriate?

-Is Dennis Erickson for real? Could anyone be that naive? It's no shock you could see signs of the program spiraling out of control, because he's at a level beyond 'player's coach.' But he did win two titles.

-Mike Francesa -major props for digging up classic CBS footage- did not harbor much respect for the U, especially during that infamous Cotton Bowl Classic.

-But Francesa's argument about the hegemony of college athletics going out of their way to put down upstarts -Calipari's UMass and Memphis teams, Tarkanian's UNLV squad in hoops- resonated in the documentary. The oligarchs of college football certainly didn't appreciate some podunk school dominating recruiting and football games, and probably fed the national media's scorn for the program.

-I kinda miss Michael Irvin on ESPN.

-I would've rather seen Chris Rock play Luther Campbell.

-The end is a little too heavy-handed, and taken from Casino. Instead of the Tangiers and other classic casinos going down, we have the Orange Bowl. Would've liked a little more post-mortem, as the documentary ends with a Butch Davis press conference on the heels of NCAA sanctions and doesn't touch on the last fling of the Empire.

And that's where I take over. Well, Larry Coker did, and thanks to his great rapport with Butch's extremely talented recruits -Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee -who should be given a lifetime achievement award for playing football after having his knee go the wrong way, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Antrel Rolle, Jeremy Shockey, Sean Taylor, Jonthan Vilma and Kellen Winslow Jr.- breezed to a title over Eric Crouch and the overmatched Cornhuskers. Then the nightmare against the Luckeyes -make no mistake, based on Jim Tressel's career arc, it's looking more and more like that. That's when the swagger took a hit, and kept getting chipped away. The team sort of rebounded the following season, but couldn't win the big games to get them a shot at the title. A case could be made for 2003 to be the beginning of the end for the dynasty as we knew it. That's the season K2 went on his infamous tirade, and let's put it this way: when you're destroying opponents on a regular basis, you can use all the cliches -however inappropriate- you want. When you're losing games, no one wants to hear it.

The next crack in the swagger's wall? The move to the ACC in 2004: as opportunistic as it seemed, relocation been a disaster. Instead of being the big fish in the Big East pond, the U hasn't even appeared in an ACC title game yet. Wake freakin' Forest has. Georgia Tech twice. Boston College, the throw-in team, twice. The butt-whooping LSU handed the U in the 2005 Peach Bowl cranked the countdown clock on Larry Coker's tenure, as his already loose grip on the team was out of control. The 2006 FIU brawl -I love the symmetry here: FIU came in as an upstart Miami program with an attitude and wanted to push Goliath. The U pushed back with a vengeance, and Coker, God bless his honesty, hammered the nails in his coffin with this gem:

"I think you've got a lot of players from their team frustrated because they're not here, and maybe were not recruited."

If Coker was going to go down, he was going to go down in style. Gotta love the arrogance in the face of controversy.

When former player Randy Shannon was hired, I was excited. Here's a member of the glory days -and very active one, according to the documentary- that could use his experience in big games to put the U back on top. Instead, he got his brains beat in his first two seasons and when he finally got a nice recruiting cycle going -led by Jacory Harris- this year, blinked when given a chance to face glory. Losing to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg is nothing to be ashamed of -hey, they own the ACC- but to Dabo 'rahrah' Swinney and Clemson at 'home' -this could be a separate tirade- and to Butch 'Don't get Frowner started' Davis at UNC? Embarrassing. As a Met fan, I am well-versed in recognizing the 'Willie' face: the anguished expression of impending doom in the dugout after a pitcher serves up a gopher ball or an infielder botches a ball. Well, it sure looks like Shannon breaks it out on the sideline during the announcement of penalties or a change of possession after a turnover. And it's far removed from the smug, poop-eating, try-to-stop-us grins the Canes wore during the 80s and that little window early this decade.

But I will always have Reed. and Vilma. and Shockey. Heck, even Dorsey.

Bryman's Top Ten Movies of the 2000s

Let the madness begin.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Juan Pierre to the White Sox, Hideki Upper Decki Matsui to the Angels and the return of the Mets 5th Starter Poo-Poo Platter

Espn is reporting that the Chisox have traded for the Dodgers' Juan Pierre. There were rumors a little while back that the Dodgers would have taken Luis Castillo off the Mets' hands in exchange for taking Pierre's burdensome contract. This would have cleared the way for the Mets to plug Orlando Hudson at 2nd base. Ah well.

And it appears that the Halos have reached an agreement with Hideki "Upper Decki" Matsui, who would replace Vlad Guerrero as their DH. It's been tough watching Vlad hobble around these past few years, but he's still got that awesome swing. Could he end up doing part-time duty in El Bronx?

And in news sure to make Freddy Coups happy, the annual Mets 5th Starter Poo-Poo Platter Invitational has resumed. First invitee, Kelvim Escobar.

Monday, December 14, 2009

One Fell Swoop

John Lackey joins the Red Sox rotation.
Roy Halladay joins the Phillies' rotation.
Cliff Lee joins the Mariners' rotation.

Joel Piniero and/or Jason Marquis will join the Mets' rotation.

BOHICA, BOHICA, BOHICA!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What if?




Remember when the arms race was between the Orioles and Yanks in the mid-90s? What if this deal happened? I guess you Yankee haters now know who to blame.

1995 recap of David Wells deal to Orioles

"Jim Bowden, the Reds' general manager, declined to discuss the Yankees' involvement, but an official familiar with the Wells talks said Steinbrenner called Bowden Saturday night and offered pitcher Mariano Rivera and catcher Jorge Posada."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bonds Market Closed

Even Barry Bonds's agent is conceding that his career is over. As his #1 fan (at least outside of San Fran), it's my duty to point out a ridiculous Bonds stat to mark the occasion. Despite missing nearly all of 2005 with an injury, and being pseudo-blackballed for the last two seasons, Bonds was still arguably the best offensive player of the decade.

Adjusted Batting Runs is a stat that estimates how many more/less runs a player produced compared to an average batter. According BattingRuns, Bonds has the best three offensive seasons of all time. He also managed to lead all of baseball in BattingRuns for the decade with 623, compared to Pujols's 580 and A-Rod's 476. Player of the decade? Maybe not. Hitter of the decade? Probably.

(I'll also note that Bonds led baseball in BattingRuns during the 90s with 610.)

Adidas adiNOVA TRX FG Soccer Cleat Review

Got a review up of a pair of Adidas soccer cleats over at EPL Talk. The cleats work for playing touch football as well, and I know so many of you enjoy playing that on weekends.

BOHICA

Have to give the Mets brass' some credit: to dissipate the negative reaction they'd receive for signing their third catcher of the offseason, they used Mike Francesa as a vehicle -remember the Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Excursion?- to spread word that they are making an offer to outfielder Jason Bay. Of course, the Mets will bat .500 here, signing Bengie Molina and whiffing on Bay, and BOHICA.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New York Times Magazine Paper Stock

waaaaah.

Just as a follow-up to my post yesterday about the future of journalism, does anyone else absolutely despise the paper stock used in the New York Times Magazine? Makes the content inside more unreadable than it already is, such as the ethics advice column featuring a tortured, tortured, hiring partner at a law firm torn over whether to hire politically conservative applicants. Don't forget, the NY Times is above printing such syndicated fare as Dear Abby. The Sunday paper itself featured an op-ed from a college-bound senior describing how many of her college tour guides glowingly described the many Harry Potter-themed activities available on campus. Her visits included Middlebury and Harvard. Elite northeastern liberal arts colleges are full of awkward nerds who recreate scenes from a children's book about magic? That shit aint fit to print.
I'm also confused about a sports section front page piece (at least in the national edition) about how the Bloomberg company will begin selling baseball statistical software to major league franchises. Why was it front-page worthy? Why did it read like a press release for their services? Were similar product launches by other companies front-page worthy or newsworthy at all? More importantly, how could this front-page piece neglect to mention that Dan Doctoroff, the head of the Bloomberg's company foray into baseball stats, was Mayor Mike Bloomberg's Deputy Mayor for six years, and during that time was instrumental in the deals for the new Yankee and Met stadiums?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Isn't it Grand(erson)

From our corner of New York, it often seems like teams are all to willing to hand their star players over to the Yankees for practically nothing. And from that perspective, the initial reaction today was that the Yankees acquired one of the best center fielders in baseball for a package led by a prospect who had 4 homers and 123 strikeouts in AAA.

Once we calm down, we'll probably come to the conclusion that this is in fact a very good deal for the Yankees, but totally understandable from the Tigers perspective because of the different economic positions of the teams. Granderson is a very good player, but probably not nearly as good as we thought he was a year ago. He's probably a 3.5-4 win above replacement player, worth about $15 million on the open market. He's due about $24 million over the next 3 years (with a $13mm team option in 2013), so the Yanks are getting about $20 million of excess value over what they'll have to pay Granderson. Are they giving up $20 million worth of talent? Probably. I know Ian Kennedy seems like a failed prospect, but he came back healthy in the Arizona Fall League and there's still a decent chance he'll be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter. Austin Jackson will likely be a solid everyday player, but because he doesn't hit for power and strikes out a lot, it's hard to imagine much more. The odds of any of these guys turning into a player as good as Granderson are very, very slim. On the other hand, there's a lot of value in having an average starting pitcher and an average center fielder for 6 seasons at extremely discounted prices.

I think it's a great deal for the Yanks. They upgraded at one of the few positions they were able to with a young, fairly cheap player. They didn't give up anyone who figured prominently in their future plans. Unlike most teams, the Yankees don't have much use for a young, cheap, average player. So, it doesn't make sense for them to hold onto players like Jackson and Kennedy.

I think the Tigers are doing pretty well in the deal, too. Jackson will be practically free for his first three seasons, and will probably be an average everyday player. They also managed to pick up a great young pitcher in Max Scherzer.

This is a NY blog, so I won't focus too much on the Tigers-DBacks part of the swap. But I don't understand this deal from Arizona's perspective at all. Scherzer is probably at least as good a pitcher as Edwin Jackson and he's much cheaper.

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From the department of things that make you go hmmmmm: the Yankees traded Brian Bruney for the rights to the first pick in the Rule 5 draft.

Rupert Murdoch, News Corp, Online Advertising, the Decline of Newspapers, and the General Future of Media Encapsulated in One Pathetic Banner Ad

As newspapers continue their self-imposed march to the grave, Rupert Murdoch, who, whatever you may think of him, deserves our respect for his agressive belief in newspapers, has announced tentative plans to move begin charging for access to the vast array of international newspapers in his News Corp Empire, including the New York Post, the Australian and the Times (UK). His recently-acquired Wall Street Journal already charges for online access to its content. News Corp may also strike an exclusive deal with Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, whereby surfers would not be able to use Google or Google News to search for News Corp content.

It's a bold gamble. But it's a gamble predicated in a belief that good content is still valuable. And it's an idea better than whatever else has been proposed by other newspapers, because they haven't come up with any. Well, except for the still-in-development Google Fast Flip, which promises to replicate the actual experience of reading a newspaper i.e. turning the pages and coming across articles that you may not have read if you just scanned headlines on a news website all in a graphically-pleasing, fast-loading format. The question is if anyone even wants to read news in a traditional-manner any more. Certainly, banner ads and web-ads in general would be more effective if they were presented as part of a graphically-pleasing whole, rather than as afterthought add-ons to already clunky news pages.

Because that is the current model, and the current model is not working, as evidenced by this pathetic banner ad that accompanied my surfing of the nypost.com site this morning.
This man does not own a home. Also, sugar cubes do not turn teeth white.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Playoff Push Begins Now?


After a thrilling 106-97 victory over the hapless Nyets, the Knicks are only 2.5 games behind the Raptors, Bulls and Wizards for a golden ticket to the postseason and more importantly, avoiding the ignominous fate of handing the Jazz a lottery pick. The major issue going forward is, does Donnie further scuttle his roster with the team sniffing contention, much like he did early last season when he unloaded Jamal Crawford and Zebo? Chicago is dangling career project and forward Tyrus Thomas -a great athlete that Mike D'Antoni apparently would love to have- in exchange of egalitarian sneaker pitchman/swingman Al Harrington, and I'm at least mixed about it. Trading for youth is a no-brainer, but Harrington can score, whether he starts or comes off the bench, and would even be useful next season. And trading him undoubtedly waves the white flag on the already rocky season, killing whatever little buzz this squad could generate. What say you?

On a separate note, Nate Robinson should be glued to the bench for the rest of the season. No debate there.

Man City versus Chelsea Photoshop Fun

Ice Cube messes around and gets a triple-double. I mess around in photoshop and end up with these altered screen caps of Saturday's thrilling Manchester City-Chelsea match at the Middle Eastlands that rocked the casbah.
Didier Drogba's intense face before a free kick.
An ominous omen for England at next summer's World Cup? "Fat" Frank Lampard takes an abysmal penalty that Shay Given easily saves.
Carlos Tevez' free kick evades the wall and Chelski keeper Petr Cech.
Didier Drogba is taken down in the box, leading to Lampard's woeful penalty attempt.
Micah Richards with the inadvertent handball that leads to Emmanuel Adebayor's equalizer.
"Carlito" Tevez celebrates after his match-winning goal.

Friday, December 04, 2009

St Johns Red Storm Basketball v Duke and 2009-2010

Still haven't warmed to the Red Storm name. Let's go Red-men. clap-clap-clapclapclap.
We watch sports for hope that one day we'll get to revel in a championship. I root for the Mets, they haven't won since 1986, when I was but a wee coach on Pop Dukes' lap. I root for the Knicks, they haven't won since 1973. I root for the 'Gers, who won in 1994, but it's hockey. I root for the Giants, who won in 2008, which was a blast but I don't care much for football. I root for Manchester United, who have won a ton, and while I've watched some of their title-clinching games in bars and at home with Coups and Pops, it's different and ultimately hollow to cheer for a team from a different country and culture. Lastly, I cheer for St. John's, who have never won an NCAA championship. But in 2003 St John's won the NIT at the Garden, and Frownie and I were there. It was the greatest sporting event I've been to, culminating with Frownie and I rushing the Garden floor alongside Frownie's new friends the Elijah Ingram's family, and running into fellow Johnnie -lover Josh Dick under the hoop.

Like almost every other metro-area team, the Johnnies have fallen off the face of the earth. Coach Norm Roberts has restored stability to the program. While stability is important considering that NCAA violations under Mike Jarvis forced the Johnnies to relinquish that 03 NIT Crown, it only goes so far for a program as storied as St. John's.

It's criminal that the NYC metro area is a college basketball wasteland considering that the area seeds so many national powers with players. West Virginia, Kansas, Cincy and Kentucky are amongst the programs to have benefited from metro players in recent years. Sure, kids want to go away to college, but surely some must want to stay at home. And players from outside the area must want to come to play for a program that plays its home games at Madison Square Garden.

What's ironic is that this fallow period for St. John's comes during an era where the school has invested massive sums in building dorms in making a transition from a commuter school to a campus-based school. This should be an added bonus for recruiting, but Roberts has yet to even get the Johnnies back in the NIT. Inexcusable.

This season likely represents Roberts' last stand, and so far he's doing the best he can with the team off to a 6-0 start, including a win over back-to-back March Madness members Siena.
Also not the biggest fan of their new "STJ" logo.
The season turns for-real-for-real this Saturday when the Johnnies take on Duke at Cameron. In a further sign of St. John's' downfall Duke has decided to end this series. Part of the appeal for Duke was the chance to play a game in the Garden every two years. The Garden was once St. John's' ultimate recruiting advantage. But these days, MSG plays host to almost as much college baskets as it did in the golden age of the 50's.
Surprise! This is what Duke's best player looks like. His name is Kyle Singler.
St. John's usually plays Duke tuff. This game and their next against Gawgia represent their only two significant out-of-conference games for the rest of the season. In a down year for the Big East, it better be an up year for St. John's.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Shocking Real Video Footage of Tiger Woods Accident (via Taiwan)

Mayhap many you are tired of the endless Tiger Woods coverage. Or maybe some of you are confused by all the differing accounts of what happened.
Where to turn to get the facts? With American Journalism dying rapidly, the Taiwanese have thankfully stepped in to set the record straight.
So, here it is, the first, the last, Nay, the only word needed on Tiger Woods' "accident." Slight translation needed, perhaps, but really, this succinct video speaks for itself.

Overheard in L.A.


older man, neat-looking, all-white hair, k-mart slacks, all-white e-z strider sneakers, dragging a large suitcase on wheels in souf santa monica at ten in the morning, speaking on an enormous cell phone:

"Tonight? No, I've completely lost the taste for fish, you know. When I bottomed out and lost everything I was eating canned mackerel every day..."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Call My Brother Sunn Cuz He Shine Like One

Al Harrington's kicks cost $35
The refs aint blind
Not quite sure what to make of the demolition tonite at the Garden. The Sunns not giving a fuck? The Italian Stallion playing D? There was even a Jordan Hill sighting, ugh, I think Renaldo Balkman was smoother around the hoop at this point. What are the odds the Knicks whiff with LeG.O.D.D., Flash, or Bosh and end up with Amare aka Antionio McDyess Part II?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Swing the Bat There, Big Boy! or, Mike Francesa's Brother Will Teach You How To Pitch, or Jeff Lynne of E.L.O. is Difficult to Look At.

Via the always-entertaining Uniwatch, footage of Terrific Tom Seaver's first game on the mound from 1967. Watch the footage and tell me you don't get nostalgic for Shea.


There was a time, a long time ago, when I modeled my pitching on Tom Terrific. I figured, I've got the trunks, may as well make use of them. Of course, I never did pitch effectively for too long. Bryman had a bit of Seaver in him as well, in so far as that his left knee would almost kiss the earf, pope-style, during his delivery. Cannatar made use of his stems as well, but, oddly enough, he seems to end up cross-legged at the end. The Bizman always appears to be all-arm.

In recent years, I've shifted my focus from my gams to my wrist, as Mike Marshall advocates. Using two deliveries based on pronation, I've found increased accuracy, if not velocity.

Which somehow brings me to the following insanity/video. Mike Francesa's brother, in both accent and looks, will help you INSTANTANEOUSLY achieve an ideal pitching motion. Peep the gold watch on his left watch. That's so he can constantly clock all the cold hard cash that he melts into pomade. Do you know what's behind that garage door? Did you guess sadness? Would you have guessed that this operation is based out of Staten Island? Actually, I appreciate this guy's intentions. Doesn't mean the product is worth it but it is worth focusing on the wrist. His heart is in the right place.



Also worth noting that the one non-baseball-training related video is a video for E.L.O.'s "Telephone Line" featuring a coked-out-of-his-fucking-mind Jeff Lynne. It's hard to look at him. Little known fact, Jeff Lynne always wears shades because he lost his eyeballs in a back alley in Bangkok betting that "Evil Woman" was not the greatest piece of pop rock ever written. Ever a man of integrity, he knew it was, but he could not, would not, bet on himself. But he can still see right through your shit.