Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stop the NFL Free Agent Merry Go Round I Want To Get Off!

We all knew when the NFL lockout ended we would witness an unprecedented free agent signing frenzy. We are now in Day Two and this is getting ridiculous. In the past few hours alone I've seen LB Takeo Spikes move from San Francisco to San Diego, QB Matt Hasselbeck jump from Seattle for Tennessee, LB Paul Posluszny leaving one football gulag in Buffalo for another in Jacksonville, DL Barry Cofield taking the money and running to Washington from New York, WR Santonio Holmes taking the money and staying in New York, and WR Santana Moss doing the same to stay in Washington. I'm getting dizzy!
Don't get me wrong, I'm as excited as anyone to have football back on the sporting menu, but I could find myself soon suffering from serious indigestion. But the person I feel most sorry for in all of this is the poor sod responsible for keying in all this late breaking stuff on the ESPN crawl at the bottom of the screen. "QB Matt Leinart to, QB Matt Leinart to Seattle for undisclosed terms, QB Donovan McNabb to Arizona for future con....check that, QB Donovan McNabb to Minnesota for conditional draft picks and....this just in, QB Donovan McNabb to San Francisco for...I quit!"

It's like the day after Thanksgiving, but instead of kitchen appliances, linens, plasma TVs, and patio furniture on offer, you can find bargains on 325 pound tackles, 6 foot 2 wide receivers with separation speed, veteran QBs with West Coast Offenses burned into their brains, well, you get the picture. It's a madhouse! Happy shopping!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oh God Wenger, if this is what you call defensive cover...

For YEARS I have been sending Arsene Wenger, the skipper of my beloved Arsenal, telepathic messages (and blogposts) imploring him to seek help to shore up the Gunners' horrific defense. In last season's transfer window he dug in the bargain bin and came up with the hopeless Sebastien Squillaci and the woefully inexperienced Laurent Koscielny, whose inexplicable gaffe sealed our doom in the Carling Cup final against Birmingham City. Which, as it turns out, was our best and only chance to win any hardware in 2011.
This transfer window he went back to the same secondhand store and spent a few pennies on teenaged defender Carl Jenkinson from Charlton Athletic. And yesterday we got a glimpse of what he can bring to the club. See the link for yourself. And God help us.

And in case you didn't know, that was our new defensive stalwart lobbing the ball in his own goal, in spectacular fashion. This is not what I had in mind when I asked for defensive reinforcements. Groan.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Most Overrated Athletes in Major American Sports

Let me preface this by saying I am not a "hater". I categorically refuse to accept the label. I reserve the right to say whatever I wish, whenever I wish. That's what blogs are for, right? With that in mind, today I take aim at America's most overrated athletes in all the major sports. By overrated, I mean athletes whose talents do not come close to matching the media hype they receive.

With the NFL labor dispute finally nearing an end, I thought it fitting to start with the most overrated player in the NFL. And the choice was easy:

New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez

And don't just take my word for it, the stats don't lie. More career interceptions than touchdowns. He completes barely more than 50% of his passes, which in itself wouldn't be so terrible, until you look at his feeble yards per attempt (less than seven yards per).
So what this means is that he completes roughly half of his passes, most of which are short dump-offs, slants, and quick-outs. In other words, he completes a low percentage of high percentage passes. Wrap your head around that! Oh, but he's good looking and plays in New York, so he's a STAR. Bleh. In my book, he's the Trent Dilfer for the new millennium--a mediocre talent riding on the coattails of a lights-out defense.

On to the next sport locked in a labor dispute, the NBA, aka The Association. And the "winner" is:

Portland Trailblazers guard Brandon Roy

Some would consider me cruel for piling on a guy whose knees may be shot, leaving his career in jeopardy at 26 years of age. But he has led a charmed life so far in the league. Named rookie of the year in 2007 despite missing 25 games. Named to the All Star team the following three seasons, often ahead of arguably more deserving players, see: Ellis, Monta.
And maybe that's my problem with him. Roy went from college to NBA elite status overnight. He is certainly a good player, but not OMG great. He is by most accounts one of the nice guys in the league, but I still don't like that he was granted NBA superstar status (and all the favorable treatment from officials that comes with it) from jump.

On to the Boys of Summer, the most overrated player in Major League Baseball. And the winner is:

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard

The big slugger is a few years removed from his 2006 MVP season, and has been largely overshadowed by Albert Pujols among NL firstbasemen. He still hits for power, but the bottom line of Ryan Howard is this: He is a strikeout MACHINE. He followed up 2006 with 199 Ks in 2007. And matched that number in 2008. In 3598 career at bats, Howard has struck out a staggering 1140 times. That is close to a strikeout every third at bat. If I had to pick someone in that Phillie lineup I want to face with runners on in the late innings of a tight game, I'm looking at you Ryan. And you'll probably get caught looking at strike three.

And we've reached the point in the program where we talk hockey. I do not profess to have any great knowledge of the game, nor do I follow it very closely. However, I do have a bone to pick (of course I do). And the most overrated player in the NHL is:

Some Defenseman who gets credit for an assist for simply being on the ice when his team scores. Pick one. Any one. And if you can explain to me how assists are awarded in hockey, I will send you, free of charge, a Spain Men's National Team soccer jacket. I'm serious.
I first noticed this crazy everybody-gets-an-assist in hockey thing back in the 1990s when Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey roamed the blue line for the Bruins and Red Wings, respectively. I'm pretty sure Bourque and Coffey got assists for being in uniform when their teams scored. Why?

I'll put away my slings and arrows for today. I already feel better getting that off my chest.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dear Arsene Wenger: What I want for Christmas

In the five years since Arsenal last lifted a trophy of any sort, I, and many other Gooners have noticed some glaring deficiencies in our beloved club. Sure, the Gunners have treated us to plenty of the aesthetically pleasing, free-flowing football we've come to expect from Arsenal under manager Arsene Wenger's watch, but at the end of the day, it's always some other club hoisting the hardware.

The reasons for Arsenal's recent failure to get over the hump are obvious to even the casual observer, but not, it would appear, to The Professor Mr. Wenger. So here it is, Arsene, my personal "Dear Santa" letter to you. Please just hear me out.

Wish #1 - The Enforcer

It is altogether fitting and in no way a coincidence that Arsenal's last trophy, the 2005 FA Cup win over Manchester United, came thanks to a penalty kick from Patrick Vieira in what would turn out to be his swan song with the club. In addition to providing a capable finishing touch, the huge, rangy Frenchman provided something that Arsenal has sorely missed ever since---someone willing to "stick a boot in". The testy Vieira was an intimidating presence who made even the league's ugliest goons look over their shoulder.

This is England, Arsene, not La Liga. When you travel to play scumbag clubs like Birmingham City and Blackburn, you better have something more than a Denilson in your pocket. You need a real enforcer.
At times Abou Diaby looks the part as he possesses the combination of size, skill and general nastiness required for the job, but his durability is always a question mark. Alexandre Song is also becoming quite a bulldog in his own right, but appears to lack the mean streak the team really needs. I know midfield destroyers like Michael Essien don't grow on trees, but we can and must do better in this department.

Wish #2 - Quality Depth

This deficiency manifests itself in many aspects, all of which directly impact the Gunners' ability (or inability) to win trophies. It is not a stretch to say that Arsenal's last three campaigns were significantly hindered if not derailed outright by injuries. This season has been no exception.

It is impossible to predict and totally prepare for injuries, but it is probably a good idea to have another serviceable striker or two on hand when your first choice finisher is Robin van Persie, who I'm beginning to think is made of glass. He has never played anything close to full season and it is pure hubris to think he ever will. Ditto for Tomas Rosicky who missed two years with groin/quadriceps problems.

And not only has Arsenal's lack of quality depth left them unable to compete for the Premiership with the big boys like Manchester United and Chelsea on equal terms, but it has also killed them in other competitions like the FA and Carling Cups. If you are going to, as Wenger so often does, rely on reserves to get you through to the later rounds of the competitions, it would help to actually have some experience on the bench. You won't often see Chelsea and Liverpool throwing 17 and 18 year olds out there in cup matches, but Arsenal regularly trots out the likes of Fran Merida, Jack Wilshire, Sanchez Watt, Kieran Gibbs, Carlos Vela, etc. Good luck with that. I understand you want to develop young talent, but that's what reserve team matches are for. Not the FA Cup fourth round at Stoke City.

Wish #3
Goalkeeping. Goalkeeping. Goalkeeping.

My God, am I the only person who sees this? I know Jens Lehmann was a real pain in the ass and provided the occasional massive screw-up (2006 Champions League Final, anyone?) but at least you knew he was there. At times, I think a statue of Manuel Almunia could stop as many goals as the actual Manuel Almunia.

I say this without reservation, Arsenal will never win anything with Count Flapula in goal. He is constantly late getting off his line, takes terrible angles, is unassertive in his clearances and is completely lost on set pieces. Granted his smallish backline doesn't always do him justice in this regard, but a team with championship aspirations must have at least a competent keeper. Arsenal do not, and Almunia's backup Lukasz Fabianski is even worse, as his laughably bad performance in the Champions League at Porto proved beyond any doubt. Get a keeper. Now.

So that's it, Arsene. That's all I want for Christmas. And if you can see to it that we get them, I think there's a good a chance there will a present under your tree too.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Star Trek 2009: The Fast and the Tiberius - Tokyo Drift

Every generation grows up hearing about how "such and such ain't what it used to be" or "they don't make 'em like that anymore." Never has this been more true than with the latest pan scrapings from the venerable Star Trek franchise, "Star Trek 2009". This guaranteed stink-bomb was directed by J.J. Abrams, the jerk who gave us such classics as Armageddon, Mission Impossible III, and the unforgettable TV series Felicity.

When I first heard about plans to take the Star Trek brand back to the future and chronicle the early careers of the original Enterprise crew, I was pleased. As a fan who grew up with James T. Kirk, Spock, Bones, Sulu, Scotty, and Uhura I was intrigued by the potential story lines. Young Ensign Kirk reprogramming the famous Kobayashi Maru training scenario, maybe? How about the origins of how Spock came to leave planet Vulcan and join Starfleet? Maybe they could get right what George Lucas got SO wrong in Phantom Menace.

Then I saw this trailer:


Yeah, it's the community college gearhead driving the jacked Toyota Camry with spoliers, skirts and tinted windows' Star Trek.

Is that Paul Walker as James Tiberius Kirk? I can't tell. And I still can't confirm if that was or wasn't Vin Diesel as Mr. Spock. I was waiting for Ludacris to show up sideshowing in a tricked-out, purple and gold Acura. What a heap of sh** this is going to be.

The real lead actor in this clunker is the idiot MTV Beach House/Gone in Sixty Seconds generation they designed this turd of a flick for. I am a fan of the original series but am by no means a "Trekkie". But I am certainly qualified to tell you how these uber-fans are going to react to this film. They are going to HATE it. Sadly, this is a movie that would have been better left unmade. But don't take my word for it. You can judge for yourself in theaters May 8th. But you'll live longer and be more prosperous if you don't.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obama vs. McCain II

The second presidential debate has come and gone, and though neither candidate landed any haymakers we do know one thing: John McCain is OLD. Not "Lethal Weapon" Danny Glover "I'm too old for this sh**" old. More like William Hickey as Don Corrado Prizzi in "Prizzi's Honor" crypt-keeper old.

As I watched the two men on stage I couldn't shake the image of 60 something year old Sylvester Stallone crabwalking around the ring with Antonio Tarver in the unfortunate sixth installment of the Rocky saga "Rocky Balboa" (see publicity shot above). Maybe it was McCain's animatronic arm movements, or maybe it was his lack of any indentifiable neck (my wife swears he had a neck in 2000), but this guy looks worse than old. He looks like he could check out at any moment.

And he doesn't do himself any favors when he actually speaks. His attempts at humor are so utterly unfunny that it is a stretch to call them attempts, and impossible to call them humorous. Hairplugs? Are you serious?

Through two debates his favorite line is his description of how when looking into Vladimir Putin's eyes he "saw three letters, K-G-B". Woooo! Zinger! And I'll bet Putin looked back at McCain's grizzled, washed-out mug and saw four letters, "A-A-R-P". Then he probably laughed and thought to himself "I could knock over this so-called war hero with a wet rag, smother him with it, and feed him to my dog Nikita".

And he could do it, too.

America simply can't afford to elect John McCain. He'll get his ass kicked!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman 1925 - 2008

Thanks Paul. Thank you for giving us Fast Eddie Felson, Butch Cassidy, and the unforgettable Reggie Dunlop.

Thank you for over 50 years of great movies. And the pasta sauce. You will be missed.