There is a disturbance in the Force. Well, at least in St. Louis. I imagine there will be countless, endless stories on the pseudo-drama that surrounds the Cardinals and Albert Pujols, as evidenced by this short piece on the SI website. I say pseudo because I fully expect the Cardinals to sign Pujols at some point, either right before spring training or at season’s end. Pujols has never said that he no longer is interested in playing in St. Louis. This is really much ado about nothing – even if one of the teams rumored to be interested in him is the Dodgers.
It’s no secret that I’m a Dodgers fan. Yeah, me and the Dodgers go way back … all the way to 1978…but that’s another story. Point is, I’m not from New York (but I do love the city), never been to Brooklyn and wasn’t born when “dem Bums” moved the City of Angels. So, really, I don’t feel the angst the way Brooklynites do, or at least some of them. They’ve always been the Los Angeles Dodgers to me. I don’t know, maybe the fact that the boys in blue didn’t win a Series until they moved west (where they’ve won 5) had something to do with it. In any event, the current Dodgers have kicked off a little controversy with their now-becoming-annual throwback uniforms — the ones that say “Brooklyn” all over them. The New York faithful don’t take too kindly to this. The story has even gotten traction outside the borough.
I don’t know who these people are that have this much time on their hands, but I’m glad for them. Especially when they pull off (a) an exceedingly difficult task and (b) they answer the great unanswered question that nobody was really asking in the first place. In this case, What game did Ferris ditch school to go see in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the 1986 classic starring Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Jennifer Gray, Alan Ruck, Charlie Sheen, and even Ben Stein, among others? Sure, if you’ve seen the movie once or twice (or 33 times, just sayin’), you know he went to a Cubs game during his elaborate (and masterful) escape from school. But which Cubs game? Like I said, I don’t know where they find the time, but I feel better knowing this for some reason. Danke schoen.
One good thing about the end of football season is that it means we’re that much closer to the SI Swimsuit Edition. SI released its promotional poster featuring Brooklyn Decker. I’m not complaining.
Finally, I know, I know, the Super Bowl is over. But the NFL’s Facebook page during the game made for pretty good reading.
This is what happens when football season comes suddenly, painfully to an end: stories about a supposed Major League Baseball phenomenon called “Truck Day.” Ever heard of it? Me, either. But apparently, it’s a BIG story, big big big. So big that MLB.com has a (big) story on it.
Truck Day is “an annual rite of spring” where all the baseball players pack up their bats, balls, gloves, PEDS, and sunflower seeds and head to the ol’ ball park in Arizona or Florida. This “modern Truck Day tradition continued in earnest on Monday” all over America. Did you hear the sound of dozens of trucks firing up across the fruited plain? Probably not, because all you could hear yesterday was the squawking about Christina Aguilera’s National Moment of Disgrace and Freedom Hating, also known as “a screwed-up national anthem.”
But Truck Day happened. Not even the Grinch could stop it. It came anyway.
Truck Day is important. We know this because the interwebs tell us so. It’s the “very important step of hauling all that equipment from the Major League ballpark to the Spring Training destination.” Yep, you can’t play the game without balls, no doubt. Gotta set aside a whole day, name it something and get ‘er done.
Truck Day is also helpful to the “clubhouse managers” who would otherwise not know when to get to work. The Nationals’ Mike Wallace, for example. “With Moving Day, we know it’s the beginning of the 2011 season because the offseason is now over,” Wallace said. “As the stuff gets loaded, you keep saying to yourself, ‘please have enough room, please have enough room.’ But it always works out to where we get everything on there and then the truck is on its way.’”
THAT was a bullet dodged, wasn’t it, Mike? What on earth would happen if THERE WASN’T ENOUGH ROOM? It would be a National Moment of Disgrace and Freedom Hating, for sure. Thank God the hand-wringing over the question of “Will it fit?” was avoided.
There are photos! To mark the momentous occasion!
That’s right, photos (real photos) of guys in jeans and hoodies and boxes and trunks and dollies and, of course, TRUCKS. It is, after all, TRUCK Day.
So, what we have learned? Well, when it comes to spring training, truck it.
Boy, there was a lot of dissection going on at the office today after last night’s game. Maybe too much dissection. There was the inevitable griping and “We wuz robbed” hoopla by the Steelers faithful. Sorry, Steeler Nation. You wuzn’t robbed – unless you count the two interceptions the Packers defense took away from Big Ben. And the Mendenhall fumble. No, the office buzz was mostly about that “bull–“ call at the end of the game. Sorry again, guys. It wasn’t pass interference. Troy Aikman (and I can’t even begin to believe I’m saying this) got it right. A good no-call. And I’m glad it turned out that way, rather than a challenge, or an obvious blown call, and all the ensuing acrimony that causes. Hell of a game by two extremely good football teams – one of the better Super Bowls I’ve watched. I wish all Super Bowls could be that good.
Then there was the equally vocal (and more vicious) dissection of Christina Aguilera’s rendition of the national anthem. Yep, she blew it. Yep, we all heard it. Yep, we knew she blew it as soon as we heard it. But was it a “national embarrassment?” Eh, probably not. Roseanne Barr’s rendition – now THAT was a national embarrassment. The MLB game a few years back where the color guard (an American color guard) at a Toronto (or was it Montreal?) game displayed the Canadian flag upside down? THAT was a national embarrassment. The Disco Era? Congress? THOSE are national embarrassments. Christina’s botch is bad – especially for someone who DOES know all the words and has sung them correctly before, not to mention the set of pipes on the girl – but surely she doesn’t rate being put on the “no fly” list, as one acquaintance demanded. Please. Here’s some truly wretched renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner if you want to see truly horrid. Maybe I’m getting soft, but I say give the girl a break. Don’t ask her to sing at the Super Bowl again, but give her a break.
Also vocal were the people I refer to (today anyway) as the “commercial critics.” My God, you’d think you were overhearing the Academy Awards judging committee. They were commercials, people. Advertisements. And expensive ones at that. And they weren’t even all that great. Don’t get me wrong. I’m right there for the commercials, just like anyone else. I enjoy seeing what (and how) gets rolled out. But, and I’ve felt this way for the last few Super Bowls, I think the Super Bowl commercial has jumped the shark. Maybe it’s because Budweiser isn’t killing us every commercial break or because Coke and Pepsi have pretty much given up their blood feud during the game as in years past. But most of the commercials I saw were met with an “eh, so what?,” both at the party I attended for the first half and by me, comfortable at home, in the second half. My favorite, hands down, was the mini-Darth Vader in the Passat ad – and even that one irritated me when I realized that the TV ad was significantly edited down from the leaked version. If you liked it during the game, you owe it to yourself to see the entire ad here. It was exquisitely done – check out the look on Mom’s face as she passes Darth his sandwich. It’s not a beaming “Awww, he’s so cute,” look. It’s more like, “You are one weird kid.” I loved it. But other than that, I wasn’t really blown away. Ok, I did laugh out loud at the Timothy Hutton Groupon commercial, even as I realized that Richard Gere was probably speed dialing Hutton’s number. And I thought Eminem’s commercial (the second one) was pretty ballsy. I fell for the Joan Rivers GoDaddy.com gag just like everybody else. But the rest (with the exception of that mildly disturbing Doritos commercial – and you know which one I’m talking about) were not all that original or innovative. And if you missed any, USA Today has its own scorecard here. Take a look, post your favorite in the comments section.
And then there was the halftime show (missed it). And Cameron Diaz stuffing popcorn in A. Rod’s mouth. And. And. Good lord, people, there was a football game on, after all.
Want a little cheese with that whine?
The whole “G” in Green Bay thing has legs. At least three more stories on the Internet today about Tiki Barber’s questioning the Packers regarding what the G stands for, which I first mentioned waaaaaaaaay back here.
Ok, I have to admit to lifting this one, but it was too good (and right in my wheelhouse) to pass up. Complex.com put together the 50 best play-by-play moments in sports history. I laughed. And laughed. Especially at #48. And I’m warning you right now, the USA hockey team is not the No. 1 moment. Maybe that’s because these moments include international sports. But no NFL until #39? Please. And I’m sorry, but there’s no way in a fair world that Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series – and more importantly, Vin Scully’s thrilling call – rates being as low as #32.
I’ve also mentioned tattoos on several occasions, and even the fact that I have my own Saints tattoo (among several others) to commemorate the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV championship. But this is taking it a bit too far, especially when you’re a couple of years out of playing shape. On the good side, though, the artwork itself is pretty darn good.
The last Friday Flashback before the Super Bowl, and this one should come as no surprise. You saw this one coming, right?
Every sport has its signature move or moves. In baseball, it’s the home run blast, or the 6-4-3 double play, the against-the-wall catch or the sick throw from third. In football, it’s “the hit” – that Ronnie Lott, Mel Blount, Patrick Willis smackdown, the juke, the acrobatic sideline catch. In hockey, it’s the body check and the slap shot. In basketball, it’s the dunk.
It’s been around for a while, now, the dunk. Back in the ‘70s, when I recall it becoming fashionable, the dunk was a move you only a saw a couple times a game (if that much). And then it was a Dr. J-leaving-the-Earth-at-the-free-throw-line thing of beauty or a backboard-shattering (twice!) gorilla slam by Darryl Dawkins (for the youngsters, he’s the main reason for today’s collapsible rims) or Houston’s “Phi Slamma Jamma” fraternity. Not surprisingly, with players getting ever taller and highlight tapes becoming ever more prevalent (and demanding), the dunk has become more than just basketball’s signature move, it’s practically a basketball staple. There are even dunking contests these days, sort of like MLB’s home run derby.
In other words, seeing a player dunk a basketball is today something that the vast majority of fans have seen. Oh, we still love to see it. We look forward to it. But we’re no longer entranced by it, we’re not awestruck by it, except on the rare occasion when we see a Dunk Like No Other.
Unless you’re a Big Ten announcer. Watch this clip of last night’s Indian-Minnesota game and you’ll see what I mean. This otherwise ordinary dunk reduced the booth crew to blithering idiots. Seriously, you will not be able to translate this gibberish. It was as if they’d never seen a dunk before. This sort of lunacy is usually reserved for the SI Swimsuit Edition.
For those of you who aren’t living in the Greater Washington, D.C., metro area, we have here our own little football team, which is being systematically run into the ground by its little owner, Dan Snyder. For those of you who are Redskins fans (some of whom are even related to me), you have my sympathies. The Shakespearean tragedy that has become the Redskins franchise grabs headlines in this area the way Paris Hilton does in … well, everywhere. Anyway, the revolving door of coaches and quarterbacks, the bad trades (after bad trades after bad trades), the dictatorial style, the ridiculously highest-in-the-league prices, the moneygrubbing (charging fans to watch practice? Really?), it all adds up to a laughingstock. Which, in certain circles, is exactly what the Redskins and Snyder have become. And some folks have been very vocal about it. One DC paper in particular. Last fall, reporter Dave McKenna wrote a funny (I read it, it was funny) piece about Snyder, who, apparently, is only just now becoming so offended as to try and have the reporter fired. Yes, fired. Dan, please. This isn’t Panama and you’re not Noreiga. Focus on your football team, pal, not people who (justifiably) criticize you.
They say Momma always knows, but in the case of Floyd Raven, maybe Momma didn’t know quite enough. Raven, the #8-ranked HS football player in Louisiana had indicated, prior to yesterday’s National Signing Day, that he was leaning toward three schools: Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Michigan. Sometime yesterday, a fax arrived at the Nutt House in Oxford, MS. Raven’s signed letter of intent to play football for the Rebels. After a day of out-recruiting the other, lesser school in Starkville, Ole Miss football officials were overjoyed.
There was only one problem. Raven’s signature was bogus. His mother (Hi Mom!) had forged her son’s signature and fired off the fax to Ole Miss. Worse, Raven had – unbeknownst to his momma – changed his mind and decided on Texas A&M. Oops. It was explained (sort of) by Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt at an afternoon press conference, part of which (the really good part) you can read here. Ultimately, no harm no foul. Momma didn’t know, as Raven explained. Raven’s an Aggie, and Ole Miss still has a Top 25 recruiting class.
I’m sure the folks at the Starkville Cow University of Mississippi (I’ll leave it to you to put the acronym together) were snickering into their cowbells and poking each other in the ribs over this – while at the same secretly wishing that Raven’s momma had forged her boy’s name on their school’s stationery. Then their recruiting class (or lack thereof) would have at least gotten mentioned in the news.
Here I am, stuck in the middle (of the week) with you.
Today is a a three-sport day, so we’ll start with the NBA. Not to be outdone by other sports’ uniform mania, the NBA has partnered with Adidas to unveil new jerseys for the 2011 All-Star game — skin-tight ones. Why? Well, here’s the explanation. After reading that, and looking at the garment, it seems more like a quick way to make a buck (I know, shocker) than a fashion statement. I wonder how they’ll do at the merch stands.
Meanwhile, in baseball, Manny Ramirez is a Dodger no longer. As a Dodgers fan, this comes as no surprise, and my initial reaction is, “Well, saw that coming.” I didn’t figure L.A. was going to dole out the cash for Manny again. As for Damon, the Rays got a good deal — well, sort of. Damon’s a great hitter and still has great speed. I’d want him on my team for those reasons alone. But that arm …. wow, what a liability. He throws like a girl. And before you get all “Don’t be a sexist” on me, my own daughter (former softball player herself) says he throws like a girl. You can watch the press conference here or read about it and watch the presser here.
Next, no, this wasn’t an easy excuse for me to post a pic of Maria Menounos (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I just thought it was a good example of the blurring of the lines between sports and entertainment. Plus, Matthews cleverly (not really) got in a plug for his sponsor. Watch the media session here.
Staying with the Packers for a moment, remember a few days ago when I told you that the “G” in the Green Bay logo doesn’t stand for “Green Bay” — it was originally supposed to stand for “Greatness” (and still does, as far as we know)? Watch Tiki Barber ask the Packers about it. Told you so.
Finally, how silly does Super Bowl media week get? Take a look for yourself, courtesy of Charissa Thompson.