December 30, 2009

2009 in Pictures?

End of the year lists are not usually my thing, but I thought I'd do a quick internet search of my own name and "2009" to see what images crop up. As expected, there were plenty of actual pictures of me, Mr. Met and the expected calvacade of sports figures as a result of columns I've written on ESPN.com.

But here are the ones that surprised me the most...



Above (l-r):
1) Yup, that's me.
2) The guys from "The Drive" in Pittsburgh... my favorite radio show to guest on. Even if Logan's a WVU alum.
3) Erm? I don't know who she is, but I'm sure Roman Polanski is somehow responsible...

Below (l-r):

4) Pope Jim Boeheim?
5) It wasn't your best for you for me, dawg.
6) The Mark Reynolds debate in a nutshell? At least according to most of my readers at the time, anyway...



Happy New Year everyone. We'll be back in 2010 with all the bloggy goodness that's fit to print.

December 29, 2009

They Win Again



I usually steer clear of political "hot potatoes" in this blog... but the latest decision by the TSA to change the airplane safety rules as a knee-jerk reaction to one terrorist incident would be comical if it wasn't so serious of an ill-conceived preventive plan.

Let's see. Terrorist tries to blow up plane with "shoe bomb" and the response is to make all passengers take off their shoes for the screening process. Better to simply come up with a more accurate way to detect explosives, but at least in the grand scheme of things, it makes some sense to take this angle until better methods to accomplish that goal are achieved.

Next, terrorist attempts to blow up plane using explosives sewn into his pants. The response? Obviously, make all passengers take off their pants for the screening process, right? No? Oh, I see... make it so nobody can stand up, listen to music, or have plane-issued pillows in their laps for the final hour of the flight?

That makes sense how exactly?

Let's look at this the simplest way. If someone is depraved enough to be a terrorist and somehow manages to get their explosives past security and on to the plane... is a directive saying to "please keep your hands in your laps" going to stop them? Or are they still just as likely to ignore the flight staff saying, "Sir, please sit back down and place that lit stick of dynamite in the overhead storage compartment."

Restriction upon restriction is simply not the answer. The only surefire way to prevent a terrorist from blowing up a plane in flight is to reason that since a plane has to be in the air to be blown up in flight, we'll simply forbid planes from taking off.

Where does that get us?

Even if the TSA decided that in order to prevent any smuggling of explosives on board, all passengers will henceforth fly without any carry-on baggage - and in the nude... motivated terrorists will still try to find some way to carry out their nefarious deeds - and in the process, the airline industry would likely lose nearly all of its business.

Life has risks, especially in the era of terrorism. But just as not allowing trench coats and heavy metal CDs in schools post-Columbine was not the answer to eliminating violence in that venue, neither is punishing 99.9 percent of airline passengers for the actions of one crazy individual. A) It doesn't accomplish the goal of preventing/eliminating terrorism and B) it restricts our individual freedoms even further, which at the end of day is the ultimate goal of the terrorists, isn't it?

Getting off the soap box now. Please return your tray tables and seats to their upright position since that will clearly prevent any planes from ever crashing.

Sigh.

December 28, 2009

Pain - All Day



I'm up by 10 points in my longtime fantasy football league's ThunderBowl - our name for the title match. My opponent has but one player left... I'll let you figure out the rest.

December 25, 2009

But Once a Year



To those who celebrate... Merry Christmas! Hope Sinterklaas filled your shoes. I wonder if that's next year's AP Female Athlete of the Year he's riding.

December 23, 2009

Of Course, Of Course



AP recently announced their Athletes of the Year, and while there were some who thought they may have missed the mark when it came to their Male winner, at least the top names in the voting all had legitimate arguments: Jimmie Johnson, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Kobe Bryant...

But as for the Female Vote? I have no issue at all with Serena Williams winning the award, but I do with who came in second - or rather... WHAT came in second. A horse. Yes, Zenyatta was a big winner on the track, taking the prestigious Breeder's Cup... but it's a horse. To me, anyone who voted for Zenyatta should be ashamed of themselves.

What's next? The Oscar goes to... the dog from "Up!"

Though to be honest, when I first saw the results I actually thought perhaps Zenyatta was a Brazilian soccer star... so maybe I'm the one who should be embarrassed.

December 21, 2009

Outplayed - Spoiled Survivor



I must admit to being one of those who watched this season of "Survivor" in awe of the audacious game play of Russell (pictured above). Not only did he manage to find hidden immunity idols without the benefit of a single clue - in fact, he found the first one by searching for it before it was even revealed that one existed at all... Russell was clearly a fan of the show - but he was seemingly the only player who understood that there was a need to employ strategy at all. This fact, though, was both the reason he made it to the final vote and the reason he ultimately ended up losing.

As for his strategy going in... to make "secret alliances" with as many people as possible, and then systematically vote out those who unearthed this plan before they had the opportunity to "spill the beans" was perfect for this group. Because most of the players were "cast" for their looks/backstory rather than had a deeper appreciation for the intricacies of the game, it was easy for them to be fooled by this tactic. Then, once Russell's tribe was halved by all the eliminations, the "underdog" nature of the tribe as a whole ensured their loyalty, at least until such time as they evened the numbers with the other tribe.

All they needed at this point was to find a split in the majority and work it. Enter Natalie...


Natalie (above, left) was sweet and innocent and everything that Russell was not. Had he gone to the other tribe and tried to convince them to start voting out their own, it would not have worked. However, Natalie was able to work her charm to perfection to get the ball rolling. After that first vote for Erik, it was clear that Shambo was an ostracized member of the Galu Tribe, since nobody bothered to fill her in on the plan. At that point, Russell swooped in and earned her loyalty with another of his dime-a-dozen "Final Two" promises.

By the time it got down to the final six players, Russell was now forced with a decision to make... which two of his loyal quartet of co-conspirators should he keep to the end in order to ensure victory: Natalie, Mick, Jaison or Shambo? (Russell obviously knew he had to get rid of Brett, the last remaining Galu member, since the whole jury was made up of Galu.)

Had he gone with Mick and Shambo, the million dollars would have been his, and nobody would look foolish by singing his praises as the "greatest player in Survivor history." However, he went with Mick and Natalie, and signed over his prize to Natalie in the process. Russell's failure to recognize this is the reason you can't be "outraged" by the final vote.

On this show, there are no rules as to who the jury can vote for to win the game or why. Heck, way back in the first season, one player made his decision on who came closest to the number he was thinking of... If a season is made up of smart players who are fans of the show, then Russell's strategy (had he made it that far) would have been respected and likely rewarded. However, just by watching the body language of the jurors during Tribal Council, and listening to words like "lying, cheating and stealing" coming from their lips before being picked off by Russell, it should have been clear to him that his "strategy" was coming across as "immoral" and "evil."

When playing with a group of players like that, the only way to win is to bring players with you to the final who the jury disrespects at least as much as you. Mick was a good choice, since he really didn't win any challenges and as we ultimately saw in both Brett and Erik's comments, he was soundly disrespected for both his lack of leadership as well as his complete disinterest in "getting to know" the other tribe as people.

However, going with Natalie instead of the hated Shambo - whose traitorous flip was the primary reason almost all the members on the jury were eliminated - was Russell's fatal error. Not only did he give the jury a more likable option than himself, but Natalie was also the person who actually initiated the conversations that resulted in that first rift in Galu. Whether or not it was at Russell's behest is irrelevant. Without Natalie, it doesn't happen - and since the perception of the jury is all that matters in deciding the winner of the game, Russell's personal belief that he was the mastermind of that ploy matters not a whit. He knew he had to send Natalie to work that bit of magic, because she was the only one who could have succeeded, but by doing so, he should have also realized that he gave her the power over him in the final vote.

Without Natalie, Russell couldn't have won... and because he failed to take her out, that's why he (rightly) didn't win.

December 18, 2009

Any Seinfeld Fanatics Out There?



OK, I was a regular viewer of "Seinfeld" when it was on the air, but my memory of the show over the years has become as blurry as the picture of the wacky gang above... even now when I tune in to a rerun already in progress I often have absoltuely no recollection of the episode in question, nor do I even have any idea what the basic storyline for that half-hour was.

Recently a friend of mine who was a big fan of the show back in the day described a scene to me that sounded familiar, but again, I was fuzzy on the particulars. I was wondering if anybody here could flesh out the details for me. Jerry and George were standing, waiting for an elevator, and the dialogue went something like this:

Jerry: Hey, George. Come here.
George: What?
Jerry: Look at this sign.
George (reading): "You are here." So?
Jerry (takes a step to the right): Come here. (George follows.) Now what does it say?
George: "You are here."
Jerry: But you moved. NOW you're here. You WERE there.
George: You're saying the sign is wrong.
Jerry: Or WAS wrong.
George (after a pause): Did I ever tell you my theory on why I'm your only friend?

Anyone out there remember the circumstances of this conversation... where they were, what they were doing, etc.? Please comment away!

Pressing Our Luck

And here's the rest of the countdown, by popular demand... Enjoy the weekend, avoid any snowstorms and may you have No Whammies!





December 17, 2009

Survey Says...

In the mood for a chuckle... so here's a few bad game show contestants. Enjoy.



December 16, 2009

Viva Micah Owings!



This year's winner of the Edgar Martinez Award was Toronto's Adam Lind. Never heard of the award? It's not exactly the Cy Young, but it has been around for about 35 years. It goes to the top designated hitter. It was only renamed for Martinez in 2004 after his retirement. (Martinez had won the award five times in his career.)

Nothing against Lind, but his winning this award is just another reason why the DH has outlived its usefulness. Lind's stats exclusively as a DH were modest at best: 21 home runs and 74 RBIs in 95 games. Yet in what amounts to only a little more than half a season at the position, he still bested all comers. In fact, only six players (Lind, Jack Cust, Jason Kubel, Hideki Matsui, David Ortiz and Luke Scott) met the following criteria: 80 games at DH, 20 or more overall homers, and 60 or more runs and RBIs. Yawn!

It's time for the DH to go the way of the dinosaur. After all, it's really only an excuse for teams to squeeze a slugger who has no other baseball ability - I'm talking about you, Big Papi - into their lineup, and in this "steroid era" you're simply sending the wrong message by continuing its use.

Plus, getting rid of the DH will allow for realignment into six even divisions of five, and interleague games can be spread out over the course of the season, unlike the current process where for every Yankees-Mets or Cubs-White Sox series, we're subjected to an endless run of Royals-Bucs and Marlins-Athletics snooze-fests.

Bud Selig's new "committee" can make this recommendation, and I hope they do.

December 15, 2009

At Least It's Not Vampires

MTV is apparently casting a new scripted television series very loosely based on the Michael J. Fox movie, "Teen Wolf." It's being touted as a "dramatic thriller with a buddy-comedy element at the center and a romantic plot line."



Well, thank goodness it sounds focused. Apparently, a "dork" will get bitten by a wolf and get superpowers, including the magical ability to bring sexy back. Then, of course, after being declared a primo hottie by the girl-erazzi at school, a new stranger in town will usurp his newfound BMOC-ness.

And yes, he'll also be a secret werewolf... an EVIL werewolf.

All that's missing is Speidi, and you've got a train wreck that will pull in a 30 share.

Sigh.

December 14, 2009

The Hands of Fate



Manos is one of the worst movies of all time - an incomprehensible plot, poor lighting and editing, dialogue that makes illiterates weep, and continuity problems out the wazoo. However, add a few silhouetted robots and some wisecrackery, and you've got comic gold. Here's a small taste, thanks to the classic MST3K crew.

December 11, 2009

Festival Time!

It's after sunset --- so Happy Chaka Khan everybody! Light that Melle Mel menorah!

Oh, That Tiger!

Tiger just can't help it. He's just so huggable...



Have a good weekend all!

December 10, 2009

Cynical? Yup.

There's a "feel-good" sports story making the viral video rounds and I'm sorry, but I'm not buying in to this one...

If you haven't seen it yet, it involves a freshman in high school who has Down's Syndrome. He suits up for every game, but because he can't really handle any actual contact, he can't play. However, his coach wanted him to have a chance - and so at the end of a blowout, he called time out and asked the other team if they wouldn't mind letting the kid score a touchdown. They agreed and the result made national news...



Maybe it's just me, but I can't feel good about this. If he had played "for real" and legitimately scored a touchdown, I'd be whooping and hollering and ready for the movie of the week to be greenlit. As it is, this is a dog and pony show that feels like it's more a way for the Coach to feel like he's done a good deed than helping the kid any.

It's a far cry than the very real excitement and outpouring of support from all involved in the Jason McElwain story - where an autistic basketball player was given a REAL chance to shine, and he seized it in ACTUAL competition.



And for all the hoopla and the millions of YouTube hits... the raw footage tells the real story. The smattering of applause that is already petering out by the end of this clip says more to the "phoniness" of the moment than anything else.



Am I happy for Matt Ziesel? Sure, I guess. Should I have even heard about this? Probably not.

December 9, 2009

28 Seconds Later...

It's too bad this group didn't make more of these short videos. This one was pretty spot on. Perhaps they had but one true comedic masterpiece in them...

December 8, 2009

End of an Era



As reported on ESPN.com today, Peter Gammons is leaving the network following the end of baseball's winter meetings this week. We wish him all the best in whatever his future endeavors are. He will be missed.

December 7, 2009

Be Careful When You Google Yourself

I don't "google" myself often, but I caved in this morning and well, apparently, I am a gospel choir.



That's what I got for Monday. Anyone got any questions or topics they'd like me to cover tomorrow? I'm open to suggestions... I don't think choir practice is until the evening.

December 4, 2009

Love is a Parody

Plenty of these "literal videos" are being posted on the internet, but some are certainly better than others. Here are two of the latest entries that hit the mark, IMO. Enjoy.



December 3, 2009

ABC Promo Department is Lost

I'm a big fan of "Lost" and am looking forward to the final season, but if I was simply going by the promos that ABC had originally been airing, I'd probably not watch - because they were better used as a sleep aid rather than as a tool to drum up excitement for the show.

Then came along this Spanish-language promo for the show... "Perdidos" is something I definitely would want to see...

Sadly, this was ABC's "new promo" in response to the huge buzz around the above clip... and while it's better than their previous efforts... it's still nowhere near as interesting.


The fact is, everything on your station is a little bit better in Spanish... even your programs themselves...

December 2, 2009

This Isn't Fox News?

I have no idea what the announcer is saying in this clip from a news service in the Far East, but apparently when they don't have actual video of an event, it's standard operating procedure to simply "create it" on the Sims.

Anybody speak Mandarin?

December 1, 2009

No Hating on the Hayden

I had the privilege and pleasure to talk with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson on Monday. He was exactly as down-to-earth and generous with his time as I hoped he would be. For those who have not been exposed to Dr. Tyson yet, here's one of his speaking engagements for your entertainment and educational edification, and other "e" words as well.

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