Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Prrrrr...What happened to that boy?

I know that title is about the most obvious title to any post that involves anything related to Chris Andersen, but honestly, how could I resist the chance to quote the lyrical genius that is Baby aka The Birdman? I couldn’t help myself. Which means that I have at least one thing, besides being white, in common with the now vanquished NBA player who was known for his high flying play and often ridiculous antics (like the Greg Brady perm he got for the playoffs two years ago). You’ll hear a lot of people say how “sad” it is that Chris Andersen threw away almost $13 million, but in reality it’s nothing other than a great example of one man’s stupidity. Unless he failed the test on purpose (I’m looking at you Keon Clark), it’s awfully tough to look at Andersen and wonder what the hell he was thinking when he decided that the NBA lifestyle wasn’t one worth making a few sacrifices for. Let’s be honest, the NBA isn’t exactly renowned for its strict drug policy. Basically, the NBA tells it’s players, “Lay off the hard stuff and we’ll look the other way on weed and whatnot.” Yet, somehow Chris Andersen was unable to “Just Say No” or more appropriately “Just Say Wait Until the Offseason” when I can flush my system of this shit before Dave Stern and Co. come calling on me during training camp. At least now his performance in last year’s Dunk Contest makes a little more sense to me.

Tonight marks the first time this year that the Florida Gators will play a regular season game on national television, as the Gators will appear on ESPN2 tonight to take on Ole Miss. I haven’t taken the time to look up the statistics, but I’m pretty sure that this is the latest any Gator Basketball team in the last 6 years has made it’s first appearance on the ESPN family of networks (excluding The Ocho, of course). Considering where most prognosticators had Florida pegged in the preseason this is entirely understandable. What I am having some trouble understanding is how this Gator team is going to get through the next couple of weeks without severely hurting their NCAA Tournament seeding. Billy Donovan and the boys were having enough trouble covering for the injured Corey Brewer on the perimeter before Lee Humphrey got into a bike accident on campus Sunday night, leaving him out for up to 3 weeks. When word first surfaced of the accident, most Gators assumed that it had occurred while Humphrey was riding a scooter. When, in actuality, this entire accident could have been avoided if Humphrey hadn’t been riding a bicycle around campus like some kind of bama. I think this accident is most frustrating because it never should have happened in the first place, if for no other reason than Lee Humphrey had no business being on a bike to begin with.

It’s pretty common knowledge amongst Gators that every student-athlete at UF owns (or has regular access to) their own motor scooter. In fact, it’s become sort of a running joke amongst the student body and alumni. These motor scooters can be seen all over campus and are rather easy to identify. Whenever you see somebody riding around on a purple scooter, it’s a pretty safe bet that the rider is some type of athlete at UF. One of my fondest memories (not involving alcohol) of my time at Florida is a direct result of the “athletic scooter” as it’s come to be known. The story goes something like this: During the Spring of 2000, I had most of my classes in the Florida Gym, which sits right next to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. As you might have guessed, an extremely large percentage of the football team also had a large majority of their classes in this facility as well. One of these players was Jabar Gaffney, who happened to be coming off of a record setting season as a Freshman WR for the University of Florida. One day as classes were letting out, I along with many other students were exiting the Florida Gym. Jabar Gaffney was part of this group and was about to make his way towards his scooter when he saw what appeared to be a young boy trying to steal his scooter. Now, I’m not sure if he hotwired it or what, but the boy in question had managed to start up the scooter. Upon seeing this, Gaffney immediately yelled out. Startled, the boy attempted to take off on the scooter which he ended up wrecking on the curb. As he looked up, he quickly realized that Gaffney was now in pursuit of him. So the boy jumped up and ran away as fast as he could. Mind you, this kid was around 13 or 14 years old. Needless to say, he didn’t get very far before Gaffney caught up with him. In fact, Gaffney caught up to him right as the boy reached a large fountain on UF’s campus. As Gaffney caught up, he grabbed the kid and then proceeded to tackle him into the wishing well area of the fountain. Apparently not convinced that his dismay had been adequately displayed, Gaffney then continued to dunk the young man (repeatedly) into the water of the fountain. Eventually Gaffney relented and the UFPD showed up to put and end to the unfortunate incident, but not before I nearly peed myself laughing in front of a couple hundred people.

Why did I tell this story? Well, because I think it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness, and because I think it adequately displays the lack of concern most UF athletes have when it comes to the publication of the use of the aforementioned “athletic scooters” (this incident made its way into many a paper in the Sunshine State) as well as how unnecessary it is for a starter on the Men’s Basketball team to be riding around campus on a goddamned mountain bike. So I guess the real question should be: Why did Lee Humphrey decide that he should rely on his bicycle as his means of transportation on a rainy night in Gainesville when he had access to (at least) a motor scooter? Well, because he’s a bama from Tennessee, that’s why.

In more University of Florida news, tomorrow is National Signing Day for College Football. Though the Gators have wrapped up most of their class (currently ranked #1 in the country) there are always quite a few surprises on this day as players often have the kind of last minute change of heart that one should expect from 17 and 18 year old kids. I actually know some people who take the day off of work in order to stay as up to date on the signings as possible. While I’m not quite that sick, I’d be willing to bet that there’s a 90% chance of me accomplishing absolutely nothing during the workday tomorrow. Not that that is a whole lot different from what’s been going on all day today.

Finally, TJ posted

Friday, January 27, 2006

Nothing's ever gonna keep you down...

I know that I haven’t exactly been overloading this space with any new material this week but there is actually a decent excuse this time around. I’ve been slammed all week trying to finish my company’s monthly magazine and get it out to all of our subscribers ASAP. That alone would be enough to keep me busy, but when you factor in me not receiving two key articles until yesterday afternoon, it makes for a pretty hectic few days for me. As I type this, the magazine has been sent off to our printer and (barring any unforeseen developments) should be off my plate until I get ready to start working on next month’s issue (read: in a week or two). It’s really not that bad, the magazine is my primary responsibility and I’m the only person who works on it so I’m able to work at my own pace (to a certain degree) as well as avoid any superfluous contact with the outside world during my workday. Yet, as a result of the past few days I haven’t read my normal amount of useless sports info on the internet or even bothered to make note of things that I consider worthy of mention in this space. I’ll be back in normal form next week with at least 3 posts (hopefully more) of the usual boozy blathering. As for today, I do have a few things that I might as well get down before they become less relevant than Terry Bowden’s thoughts on anything other than Lucky Charms.

- Denver may have had their ass handed to them on Sunday (was it Sunday?) and Jake Plummer may have finally reared his ugly little snake head at the worst possible time, but the good folks in the Mile High City do have one thing going for them: An awesome in-game music guy. I know nothing of the soundtrack at Invesco Field; however I do know that they were playing Tom Petty’s The Waiting during the instant replay timeout during the second quarter. Good song. Perfect timing.

This may not be a big deal to most people but I feel you can really affect the overall atmosphere of a stadium with the right music during breaks. For example: On MLK Day, Bethune Cookman and NC A&T were playing on ESPN. As ESPN cut to commercial you could clearly hear Laffy Taffy playing in the background. Personally, that song makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a peanut shell but I’m pretty sure it was a BIG hit in Greensboro last Monday.

Keep in mind that I’m the same kid who openly lobbied (and succeeded) for his former minor league baseball team to use Bill Conti’s The Best Around as its victory music.

- Was there anything last weekend that was as funny as seeing Ben Roethlisberger “shoot the guns” after his late second quarter TD pass to Hines Ward? When CBS cut to a shot of him doing that I started laughing hysterically. Is there another position in sports that so often leads players to a “shooting of the guns” in celebration of a big play? Can you even imagine what would happen if a pitcher celebrated his K’s this way? Even Carlos Perez wasn’t that demonstrative on the mound.

Another thing about Roethlisberger that warrants mentioning is his god awful beard. Listen, nobody appreciates a solid beard as much as I do. I’m not even very discriminate when it comes to beard styling, but Roethlisberger has an inability to grow hair in certain places on his chin that ends up leaving some space on the chin that makes it appear as if a ball sack is sitting right on his chin. It’s very disconcerting. Couldn’t Jerome Bettis get his barber to at least even Ben up or something?
What do this guy and Big Ben have in common?- I’m old. This is just beginning to hit me now. It’s not that I feel old because I hear songs I grew up with on classic rock stations or that I can’t get over the fashion trends of America’s youth, far from it. What has made my aging abundantly clear over the past month or so is my distinct inability to shake off a hangover like I used too. A few years ago all it took was some grease and maybe even a nice big papal ballot to get me back up to functioning
at 85%. Now, even light
hangovers are starting to
become all day affairs.
It’s gotten so bad that
after last Saturday night
I woke up at 11:30 and sat around watching NFL Countdown for a few minutes
before ultimately deciding to head back to bed. I ended up waking at
3:40, eating Taco Bell and then laying on my couch for the remainder
of the day unable to do anything other than watch football. At one point during the Steelers-Broncos game, I tried to read Sports Illustrated whichimmediately left me feeling like I’d been reading 9/11 Commission Report in the back of a minivan for about an hour.
I couldn’t be more disappointed in myself.

- I was watching one of those ads on TV that make the Marines seem like some great video game when I started thinking about what branch of the military I’d join if I was forced to join the armed services. It didn’t take long. Maybe it’s because I grew up near an Air Force Base but joining the Air Force sure seems like a no-brainer to me. Unless you are a pilot, most people who join the Air Force end up with what amounts to a normal job. You stand virtually no chance of going off to war, and even if you do there’s no way that you’ll be anywhere near the front lines. So, unless you are joining the military to fight in a war, then why wouldn’t you join the Air Force? Perhaps more importantly, why doesn’t the Air Force emphasize these attractive characteristics in its advertising and slogans? It’s a common knowledge that a large percentage of the people who enlist in the military do so because they lack other options with regards to their long term future due to their lack of financial security. With that in mind, why wouldn’t the Air Force go with a slogan other than the same lame “Aim High: Air Force” that they’ve used for so many years. While we’re here, I even have a suggestion that the good folks in Colorado Springs can use free of charge. Keep in mind that this is just a suggestion.

Air Force: It’s quite unlikely that you’ll be dismembered or die!!

- A certain team who resides in Central Florida extended their winning streak last night and will be going for a sixth straight victory this evening. I don’t know who it is…I just heard it mentioned on the radio today.

- Remember when I mentioned my trepidation over the complications in Larry Grant’s recruiting and how it was bringing back some very old, very bad memories? Yeah, well let’s just say that the next time the Gators recruit A JUCO Linebacker, I won’t even have the strength to so much as mention the guys name until he physically sets foot on campus as a University of Florida student.

- Speaking of UF, the previously unbeaten Men’s Basketball team has now dropped two in a row in the SEC East. While I’m not overjoyed at this development, I’m also not overly concerned with this string of games. Florida’s loss at Tennessee was a game that could’ve gone either way and, frankly, I was encouraged at the way that the team battled on the road (in front of 27,000 lathered up inbreds), especially after Corey Brewer went down with an ankle sprain early in the second half. As for the loss at South Carolina, the team played its worst game of the year at a time when USC was desperate for a conference win. If anything this loss will allow Billy Donovan to break this team down and further prepare them for the rest of the conference schedule as well as the NCAA Tourney. With that said, Florida does need to start getting more production from their bench if they have designs on making an extended run come March. Right now only Chris Richard is supplying anything other than “energy” off the pine.

That’s it for me today. I’ll be back, as promised, next week.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ugliness abounds...

By now, you’ve heard every single stinking opinion about Peyton Manning that you can stand and, more than likely, quite a few that you can’t. Personally, I thought the funniest thing that’s been said was the article in the Tennessean that called for the Colts to sign Tee Martin in order to allow them to actually win in the playoffs. As a Florida fan and someone who watched Manning fail up close and personal for four years, I took a sick sort of pleasure in watching him dance around nervously all day Sunday as he airmailed balls far beyond the reach of his receivers. This was the Manning that I remembered from his collegiate years. Not the entirety of his collegiate years, mind you. Just one September Saturday each year when he had to take on the University of Florida. Each year, without fail, Manning would come into this game with the highest of expectations only to end up with a horrible case of happy feet and, of course, the dreaded (but always fun) Manning face. It was this propensity for disappearing in the biggest of games (make no mistake about it during the mid-90s UF-Tenn. , by far, the preeminent SEC game of the year) that was most responsible for my pre-draft proclamation that Ryan Leaf, not Peyton Manning, would be the more successful NFL passer of the two when they entered the NFL in 1998. Obviously, I was dead wrong when it came to the Leaf vs. Manning debate. There is a simple reason for that, and that reason is this: I failed to see in my youth that Manning was a prolific and skilled passer. Someone capable of picking apart even the best designed defensive schemes and the highest levels of talent. I had confused Manning’s ability to be an effective QB with his inability to harness his emotions during the games (and moments) that matter most. Quarterback, perhaps more than any position in sports (aside from maybe closer), demands a certain level of coolness and an ability to rise above the tension of the moment when your team and franchise need it most. Elway had it, Montana had it, Brady has it, even Marino for all he lacked in championships, had it. Manning didn’t have it at Tennessee and everybody in Orange and Blue knew it. Everybody on the Gator sidelines knew that eventually they’d be able to get to him and force him into a game changing mistake. That’s why myself and so many other Gator fans never thought he’d be successful in the NFL. Though we were ultimately wrong, that lack of composure when it’s most needed is why, despite all his regular season success, the jury is still out on Manning as one of the all time greats.

It's that time of year for the Mannings.

Finally, I don’t mean to pile on a guy who’s had a hell of a tough month or so, but any Buccaneers fan above the age of 13 recognized what he/she saw out of the Colts on Sunday afternoon. We recognized it, because that’s exactly how the Bucs looked in each of their final three playoff appearances under Tony Dungy. Dungy is undoubtedly a very good coach who gets his teams to play disciplined, fundamental football. However, those very same teams do seem to lack a certain killer instinct when January. I don’t know the reason for it, but I do know that it’s officially become a pattern for Tony Dungy coached football teams.

While I’m on the topic of things that happened last week, I might as well mention the Cavs-Lakers game from last Thursday. I stayed up to watch and was very glad that I did as it turned out to be a great game. Regardless of what you may think about Kobe personally, there is little denying that he is without peer when it comes to late game heroics in today’s NBA. Though LeBron is superior to Kobe in a number of areas of the game (passing, rebounding) at this stage of his career, LeBron is still light years behind Kobe when it comes to the intangible quality of competitive fire. Kobe wouldn’t allow his team to lose, first by stroking three consecutive (and extremely tough) jumpers down the stretch and second, by playing lock down defense on LeBron during the game’s final minutes. If this game showed me anything its that, while he may already be great, LeBron still has a very long way to go before he can even hope to approach Kobe as a competitor and consequently, a defensive player. It will be the further cultivation of these traits that ultimately determine LeBron’s place in history.

After the game ended, I went to bed but not before recording Inside the NBA. Though I find the antics of the show quite amusing at times, I don’t normally record it. On this night though, the show was to feature a special piece by Jim Huber (as always, doing his best Frank Deford impression) on Drazen Petrovic. I’m not quite sure why, but I’ve always had a special love for Drazen. I can even remember being a little sad when news of his death appeared on SportsCenter one summer many years ago. Normally, European players evoke very little interest from me but something about the way that Drazen played struck a chord with me. He had a confidence in his abilities that was unheard of amongst Euros at the time (and still is for many Euro transplants in the NBA) and, more importantly, was a fantastically clutch player. Anyway, I taped Inside the NBA and ended up watching the piece on Drazen on Friday afternoon. It was a very interesting story with some great quotes from Chuck Daly as well as some of Drazen’s former teammates. What I found most astounding about the piece was the conversation that Huber had with Drazen’s older brother about Petro’s first game for Cibona which is the team based in Petro’s hometown of Zagreb. Here is Drazen’s line in his debut for Cibona: 22-22 FTs, 40-60 FGs, 10-20 3FGs for a total of 112 points.

I just thought a line like that should be shared. I don’t care how weak the competition in Europe was at the time, that is AMAZING. One last item that I found noteworthy: Drazen Petrovic’s mother’s name is Bizerka. No word on whether her love is like a ticking clock.

In keeping with the theme of forced segues, I’d like to address another basketball related item, specifically the UConn Huskies. In my opinion, this is absolutely the best team in America. Now that Marcus Williams is back in the lineup, I’d be absolutely shocked if this team doesn’t at least make the Final Four. The difference in this team when Williams is running the show is enormous. He is the best “true” point guard in America, hands down. Along those same lines, Josh Boone should be forced to give 10% of his salary next year to Williams. Now that Williams is back, Boone is going to end up being selected in the middle of the first round when before Williams’ return, Boone was on his way to winning the “Terrence Morris Memorial Award for Player Who Most Torpedoed his own Draft Status by Returning to School”.

Speaking of guys who’ll end up being selected in the first round this year, can’t you just wait for some team like the Wizards to reach on Hilton Armstrong with a top ten pick? I know that I’m excited.

While we’re here, has anybody seen Pervis Ellison lately? Does he still have those dreads? If so, I’d really love to see a recent picture.

Finally, I wanted to apologize to both Calvin Booth and Michael Ruffin for leaving them off of my All-Ugly team last week. After watching the both of you up close against the Magic last night, I can safely say that you are both amongst the Top 5 ugliest guys in the NBA today. In fact, when you think about it, there’s a very real chance that this Wizards team is the ugliest NBA team since the 2001 Sacramento Kings. Just look at the roster, in addition to the freak show that is the Ruffin-Booth tandem, the Wiz also boast the likes of Antawn Jamison, Jared Jeffries, Awvee Storey ( I had to look him up too), Caron Butler, Googly-eyed Brendan Haywood, and the monster that is Peter John Ramos. Seriously, this is definitely the league’s ugliest team…and its not even close. Though I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that Michael Ruffin more than makes up for his hideous appearance with his comedic stylings. Case in point: During last night’s fourth quarter, Ruffin managed to bank a free throw in on his first attempt and then followed up that masterpiece with an airball. I’m pretty sure that even Eddie Jordan was laughing after that one.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This whole "doing your job" thing really blows...

I'm still a little too busy to post anything today because I'm working on a lot of different things that are all due to be finished up by early next week. These tasks have had me running to a number of meetings all week in addition to the actual work that I have to do in order to get everything finished up in a timely manner. I should be able to get enough time to craft a short post by tommorow afternoon, though a good deal of what I've been planning to write about isn't exactly breaking news anymore. Apparently this is what happens when you have to use your brain at work.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Enough to give you nightmares...

Last night I was watching the Magic game against Seattle on my couch while quickly drifting towards unconsciousness when , suddenly, I found myself on the edge of my seat and far more awake than I had been just minutes earlier. The source of this energy was none other than Keyon Dooling. It’s not that I was excited that Keyon was back in action for the first time in 21 games (and for only the sixth game all year). Rather, it was that he and Ray Allen were involved in a full fledged wrestling match in the courtside seats of Key Arena. Because the game was being shown on Sunshine, the viewers were unable to see exactly what led up the fight, though we did find out that Dooling must have started it all since he was charged with a flagrant as well as a technical for fighting. What we did see was these two guys rolling around as petrified Seattle-ites flailed about and spilled beer all over them.

As NBA fights go it was pretty standard, but considering the whooping that Duke put on Maryland and the lackluster effort put forth by the rest of the Magic, it was undoubtedly the highlight of my night. Well, I guess it was part of the highlight, as just a few minutes later the cameras of Sunshine found Dooling going after Allen in the tunnel to the locker room. It took at least three Magic staff members to pull Dooling away and convince him to just call it a night already. So to sum up, Keyon Dooling celebrated his return to the lineup last night by instigating a second quarter fight with Ray Allen that got him ejected and will surely result in a two or three game suspension. Nice seeing you Keyon. I’m already looking forward to your return to action in a week or two. By the way, Dooling is making over $3 million this year.

As for the rest of the game, the Magic continued their uninspired road play as they dropped their second consecutive game by the score of 113-104.

Some other notes from last night’s loss:

- I know its been said before, I actually think that I may have said it here before. However, it warrants mentioning how much that Robert Swift looks like Freddy Krueger. It’s uncanny actually.

- You’d be hard pressed to find an NBA game that included two starters as ugly as Robert Swift and Hedo Turkoglu. Those guys are both first team All-Ugly, no doubt about it. In case you were wondering the remaining three guys on that team are: Sam Cassell (Captain), Calbert Cheaney, & Peter John Ramos. Of course, these selections are just off the top of my head so feel free to give me your two cents in the comments section.

- At one point last night, Magic announcer David Steele uttered the words “through the hands of Tony Battie”. Which got me thinking, “How many times has that phrase been uttered about Battie during the career of the former #4 pick ?" So I did a little number crunching and came out with something around 475 times. I’d say that statistic pretty well sums up the career of them man once tagged “El Busto” by his Dan Issel.

I’ve already mentioned the Duke-Maryland game in this space which, considering how much of a blowout it was, is probably more time than should’ve been devoted to it in the first place. However, I did watch a good deal of the game (what else was I gonna do, read?) and also managed to jot down a few notes of interest in between screaming at Dick Vitale and laughing at the always humorous Gary Williams.

- At one point during Mike Patrick and Dick Vitale’s two man junk slurping exercise on JJ Reddick, Patrick mentioned that he considered it “laughable” that people still had questions about Reddick’s ability to play in the NBA. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Patrick then said that “these are the same people who said that Mark Price wasn’t going to make it.” Are you kidding me? What’s laughable is that you can’t see the difference between the NBA and College games or that you think that Mark Price and JJ Reddick are an apt comparison. Let’s see here: One was a point guard with an underrated handle and a fantastic array of shots in his arsenal, while the other is an undersized two guard with below average athletic abilty. I can see how you could get the two of them confused. I agree that Reddick is a tremendous collegiate player and that he’s far more versatile than he originally was or even than he gets credit for, but can we please stop acting like this kid is the second coming. I’ve got a better comparison for you Mr. Patrick…Casey Jacobsen. His ability to shoot the ball sure turned the NBA on it’s ear didn’t it?

- As much as I hate to agree with Vitale, I have to say that he’s dead on when he says that Coach K is the perfect man to head up the next US Men’s Olympic Basketball team. Not only is coach K almost universally respected by both collegiate and professional players, but he is also far more flexible and willing to change his own personal style than either of his predecessors (George Karl & Larry Brown). Coach K has already hired Mike D’Antoni as an assistant on his Olympic staff, ensuring that this team will be far better prepared for the international style of play than any of the previous incarnations of this team. Furthermore, Coach K has repeatedly shown an ability to adjust his system(s) to his player and/or teams’ strengths. A perfect example of this is the 2001 National Title team he coached at Duke. Many people remember this team for winning the title while conveniently forgetting that many pundits left them for dead when Carlos Boozer (the teams only offensive presence inside) went down with a broken foot. Instead, Coack K used Boozer’s injury as a means to reinvent his team. He inserted freshman Chris Duhon into the lineup and made Duke into a team that pushed the tempo and shot a ton of three pointers with Duhon, Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy, and Shane Battier all roaming around the perimeter. Duke quickly took to this style of play and ended up beating an extremely big and talented Arizona team for the National Title.

One last thing: I’d be shocked if Reddick doesn’t somehow end up playing for Coach K in the Beijing Olympics. Honestly, can you blame him? There aren’t five better pure shooters playing in the NBA today.

- Who was more pissed last night when they saw Brian Davis and Christian Laettner sitting together behind the Duke bench last night? Christian’s wife or Brian’s boyfriend?

- Finally, there was some tough news on the recruiting front for Florida Gator fans yesterday. JUCO All-American Linebacker Larry Grant’s early admission to the University of Florida was denied due to his failure to pass a junior college math class. Grant maintains that he will take the test again and enroll by in the summer but this will certainly slow the on-field progress of a player who was expected to make an immediate impact at Florida. Even more worrisome is that this entire situation is beginning to look eerily similar to something the Gators encountered during the recruitment of former Oklahoma linebacker Lance Mitchell. Mitchell, like Grant, was a JUCO All-American at City College of San Francisco who had chosen to enroll early at the University of Florida. Similarly, Mitchell had trouble passing a math class. Mind you, this class is not required by the NCAA or the SEC but is a requirement for admission to UF. After a couple of failed tries, Mitchell finally decided to take his talents to the University of Oklahoma where he immediately became the starting middle linebacker. Meanwhile, the Gators were stuck with the likes of Reid Fleming and Matt Farrior in the middle. Is it any wonder why I hate math so much?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I know funny, that's funny...

No time to write today, but I figured I'd post a picture of Marcus Vick that has made it's way around the Gator message boards today. It's no wonder that the guy arrested. What with him wearing his uniform out in public and all. Come to think of it, maybe he's got a learning disability. That would certainly explain why he's wearing a helmet in this picture.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Right Now:

I'm not even going to bother recapping the Bucs home playoff loss to the Skins in this space today. Instead I'll quickly touch on what I think the organization should be doing in order to prepare this team for the transition that certainly awaits it within the next couple of years. Mostly because it's easier for me to focus on a future that seems to undoubtedly be a bright one today than it is for me to relive a game that left me especially crestfallen.

Now, I know what I said on Friday about being content with the season that the Bucs had (win or lose), but that's a little harder pill to swallow when your team finishes up the season in the manner in which Tampa Bay did. I'm not sure what pissed me off more, the Bucs managing to give the Redskins 14 of their 17 points, or the fact that Tampa still had ample opportunity to win this game, only to watch victory slip away through an unfortunate confluence of questionable officiating and horrible offensive execution. If I can take solace in anything, its that I know the Bucs stood little to no chance or coming out of Seattle with a "W" this coming weekend. Even with that, there is still a certain feeling of emptiness that results from your team being unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs (at home) in the Wild Card round. Fortunately enough for me, I was able to fill that emptiness with large amounts of alcohol and cheese balls on Saturday night.

What's Next:

It is now incumbent upon Bucs management to start assembling some young talent on the defensive side of the ball. Even though this defense finished the season as the NFL's #1 rated unit, it's not exactly filled with young up-and comers (apologies to Dewayne White and Will Allen). If the Bucs are committed to success (and I assume they are) it would behoove them to start working on bringing in some young talent (via free agency and the draft) to help bridge the gap between the likes of Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber before they (and a number of other defensive stalwarts) are too far past their prime to effectively contribute and mentor the young pups.

Offensively, most of the pieces are in place (asssuming that Michael Clayton decides that he wants to play football again) for what should prove to be a formidable and prolific unit for years to come. Despite a number of personnel decisions that I lambasted at the time, (Chris Simms & Michael Clayton to name a couple) the Buccaneer front office has proven it's worth when it comes to both talent evaluation and player development in recent years. The only remaining task that stands in the way of this franchise being a consistent playoff team for many years to come, is to effectively apply those same techniques to the acqusition of young defensive playmakers. Both the linebacker and the corner positions immediately come to mind when thinking of areas that could use a little youthful infusion. Finally, because of the quality of the current defense, the Bucs are in the enviable position of not having to reach for a player at a specific position come April. Thereby allowing them to focus on taking the best defensive player available in this April's draft.

Finally, here's an article that ran in Rolling Stone recently that I found especially interesting. It will take you a while to read it, so make sure you give yourself enough time away from work to allow it.

One last thing that I almost forgot: On the heels of an impressive road victory over the University of Georgia on Saturday, the University of Florida Men's Basketball team has risen to #2 in the polls. Congratulations and Go Gators!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Your mom goes to the Playoffs...

Does Napoleon Dynamite ever get old? I didn't think so.

This time tommorrow, I’ll be gearing up for the Buccaneers’ first playoff appearance since they brought home the Super Bowl trophy three years ago. Actually, this time tomorrow I’ll probably still be sleeping. Between the inevitable Saturday morning hangover, and the cold weather (Today’s high: 58, Tonight’s low: 40) that we’re currently experiencing, it’s pretty much an impossibility that I’ll be dragging my ass out of bed at any point before 11 am. I’m sure that the temperatures listed above don’t seem very cold to a lot of people, but when you live a block from the beach in Central Florida, those might as well be single digits. I actually used the heated seats in my car this morning for the first time since last January. Which should give you an idea of how tolerant I am of the cold, but I digress. The issue at hand is the upcoming playoff game between the Bucs and Skins. When these two met in the regular season, they provided NFL fans with an exciting and emotion filled ballgame, and even a little controversy to boot. More importantly, the Skins game was the point in the season where I finally began to turn on the issue of Chris Simms. For so long I had held steadfastly to my belief that Simms lacked the necessary mental aptitude to effectively quarterback anything other than a poor NFL team, that is until he led the Bucs to a come from behind victory against one of the NFL’s better and more disciplined defenses. Simms still has a long way to go before he’s ready to be the kind of QB who inspires confidence in the playoffs or on the road, but the point is that he’s progressing and doing so at a far quicker pace than I (or just about anyone) had anticipated this year.

Do I think that the Bucs can win tomorrow? Absolutely. Do I think they will win tomorrow? I’m not so sure. The Skins are the hottest team in the NFL right now, and they certainly had no trouble lighting up a very tough Tampa defense the first time these two squared off, as the Bucs had absolutely no answer for Clinton Portis. I could say something cliche’ about the game hinging on turnovers or the respective rushing attacks of these two teams, but I’ll leave that to the guys on the Fox pre-game show. Instead, I propose that this game will be determined by the ability of these two defenses to stop (or at least slow down) the opposing offenses’ big play wide receiver. Both Joey Galloway (83 rec, 1287 yds, 10 TDs) and Santana Moss ( 84 rec, 1483 yds, 9 TDs) have revived their careers far beyond anybody’s preseason expectations of them and, consequently, have managed to help elevate the respective fortunes of their franchises. In fact, you could make a very good case that these two should be their respective teams’ MVPs. Actually, I think that I just did.

Regardless of tomorrow’s outcome, I believe that any Bucs fans should consider the season a success. Think about it this way: If somebody had told you that Tampa Bay would lose Brian Griese for the season five games in, while also being without Cadillac Williams for 4-5 games during the middle of the season, and that they would get little to nothing in the way of production from last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Michael Clayton, but would still manage to get 11 wins while playing in the NFC South. Well, I’m pretty sure that you, me and everything other person with half a brain would’ve run straight to Vegas with that bet. Of course, you can make much the same statement about this Redskins team. Essentially, both of these teams are playing with house money at this point. I’m hoping for another exciting game full of momentum swings and drama, and not the 12-10 snoozer that everybody expected the first time around. Honestly though, I’d take a 2-0 score as long as the Bucs end up on top when the final gun sounds. Though I’m not quite sure this is the kind of karma that you want to build the week before a playoff game.

One last thing: Is there a cooler TD celebration then Joey Galloway’s? I mean cool in that “act like you’ve been there before” way that my father and other men of his generation like to use when referring to today’s athletes. It’s so simple, yet so effective. Step on the ball like Capt. Morgan and then turn to the crowd and flex. Awesome. Plus, how can you not like a guy who wears a crew neck shirt underneath his jersey?

Besides the NFL Playoffs, there is actually a good deal of other sports that I’ll be interested in this weekend. The Magic are riding a three game home winning streak into tomorrow’s game with Charlotte that also happens to coincide with them breaking out their old unis from the Shaq era. In fact, the Magic are enjoying winning in these unis so much (they’ve worn them for each game of the winning streak) that they are going to continue to wear them for as long as this home winning streak lasts, NBA fines be damned. It’s just too bad that they can’t wear them on the road too, since they went up to Toronto and were absolutely humiliated by the effin’ Raptors (121-97) on wednesday. Pathetic.

What’s not pathetic is the current state of the University of Florida Men’s Basketball team, who currently sit undefeated and #5 in the country. After a fairly easy out-of-conference schedule, the Gators open their SEC slate of games in Athens against the University of Georgia. While they definitely will not go undefeated throughout the rest of the season, this Florida team has already exceeded even the most optimistic expectations for their play while also managing to be the most entertaining Gator team in at least 5 years. Unselfish, deep, and athletic, this Gator team seems to be ideally built for March, with a roster that boasts 4 legitimately dangerous post players as well as some very skilled perimeter players. We’ll find out more about this team as the SEC schedule moves into late January and early February, but don’t be surprised to see this team going into the NCAA Tourney with a #2 or #3 seed.

In other Gator related news, the US Army All-American Game (high school football’s answer to the McDonald’s All-American game) will be on NBC tomorrow afternoon. Besides having at least 5 committed players participating in the game, the Gators are also in the running for a couple of players who are slated to commit during the game’s telecast. There’s a bunch of uncommitted guys who could possibly end up in Gainesville playing in this game, none of which excite me more than this guy.

Lastly, there’s really no way to lead into and article like this, other than to say this: Mouthwash…Vin Baker, you are a genius.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The man of my dreams...

I could talk about last night’s game in this space today. Yet, considering that everybody I know watched the game, and that every columnist alive has written an article on last night’s game (Headline: In-Vince-able!!), I've decided against it. Instead, I’ve decided that I’d address something so awful, so horrifying, that it nearly ruined my night before it even got started.

Why the hell is Kenny Mayne on Dancing with the Stars? I’m sure a lot of sports fans are more “outraged” by Jerry Rice’s appearance on this abortion of a television show but, honestly, who didn’t see something like this coming from Jerry? This is the same man who was still trying to grow dreads/cornrows as little as two years ago. Mind you, the man had, not one, but two bald spots at the time. Suffice it to say, Rice does not and will not grow old gracefully. So it should come as no surprise to anybody that he would try and hold onto the spotlight in any way possible, which includes going on crappy reality shows. Frankly, we should be thanking ABC for not coming up with an episode of Celebrity Dad Swap. Can’t you just see Jerry trying to discipline Rockwell’s bad ass kids? Kenny Mayne did surprise me though. It’s not that Kenny is above this sort of blatant self promotion. I mean, have you seen the pieces that this guy does for ESPN? It’s more that I feel betrayed by one of the last ESPN personalities that I actually enjoy. Whether you enjoy Mayne’s sense of humor or not, you have to admit that he has a unique, and often quirky personality. Who knows, maybe Mayne’s running commentary during the show will be hilarious (you’ll have to fill me as I will NOT be watching). In fact, it was his strange sense of humor that drew me to Mayne back in my collegiate days. I watched so much of him on SportsCenter back then that one night he appeared in one of my dreams. Here’s a brief synopsis of how it went:

I walked into a bank with a file folder full of papers in my arms. I was quickly directed to the desk of a loan officer. At this desk sat one Kenny Mayne, only his nameplate did not read Kenny Mayne (you’ll have to forgive me, as I don’t remember the name that Mayne was going by). As I was at the bank for a loan and I didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot (presumably) with the loan officer, I didn’t say anything to Kenny about his phoney nameplate. After a few minutes of shuffling through my documents, Mayne looked up from his desk and said simply, “You’re not you.”, implying that I had somehow falsified the documents that sat in front of him. At this point I responded, “Well, you’re not you!” in reference to the phoney nameplate that sat on his desk. We went back and forth like this for a number of minutes until finally Mayne (fearing that I would out him in front of his co-workers) threw my stack of papers at me and told me to get out. Enraged by his disrespect of me, I responded by sweeping all his papers off his desk and then followed that up by spitting on his desk while exclaiming, “This man isn’t who you think he is, he’s a fraud!!”

That’s it, the entirety of my Kenny Mayne dream. I have no idea what this dream means, other than that I did far too many drugs in college. Well that, and that somewhere deep down in places you don’t like to talk about at cocktail parties, I’ve always known that Kenny Mayne was a sham.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Reunited and it feels so good...

You’ll have to excuse my tardiness this week as yesterday was the first day of my new job. Obviously, this isn’t news to anybody who reads this space on a regular basis. I don’t have a ton of time to write this afternoon as my boss has already given me a good deal of work to do. I probably wouldn’t have bothered to write had tonight not been the National Championship game. I sure didn’t want to miss out on a chance to embarrass myself with an unbelievably bad prediction. If you remember (and if you don’t, then just read on) I picked Oklahoma to win last year’s Orange Bowl in part b/c I thought that USC would badly miss the tough inside running of LenDale White. Well, I was wrong on two counts. White played and did so in dominating fashion, though it became pretty obvious by the second quarter that USC could’ve put Jaleel White at tailback and still managed to beat the Sooners in last year’s title game. So the question now is: Have I learned my lesson when it comes to picking against the Men of Troy? I’m not so sure just yet, though I will reveal my pick at the end of this column.

As for my new job, I’m still feeling things out but I’m pretty sure that it’s going to work out far better than any of the four jobs that I held during 2005. Which, admittedly, isn’t saying a whole hell of a lot. Furthermore, this new job will allow me to spend a lot more time on the internet, which is definitely a good thing. While I did have access to the internet at my last job, it was the kind of access that often ended up being interrupted far too frequently for my taste. To put it more dramatically, the internet was like some girl I was dating whose overbearing father (my job) wouldn’t let us see each other. Sure, I liked her a whole, whole bunch but the hassle of having to sneak around to see her was becoming too much for me to rationally handle. Luckily for me, this girl decided to move in with her mother (my new job), who happened to be far more cool about us spending time together. Now we’re reunited like we deserve to be and I don’t have to sneak around just to see my precious internet. What does this severely stretched analogy mean to you? Hopefully more consistent and quality posts in the coming year. You’d be surprised how much your writing (or appetite for writing) can be affected by having to constantly stop and start throughout the writing process. I’m sure that they’ll be some days early on where I’m too busy writing for my job to find the necessary time to post, but I can promise you that I’ll be back into a regular blogging routine before too much longer.

I had originally planned to finish up this post with a number of random thoughts that I’d been stewing on over the past few days, but as the clock inches closer and closer towards 4:30, it’s not looking like a very prudent idea to go forward with said plans. That is, if I want to get out of here by 5 (which I do).

As for tonight’s game, I am leaning heavily towards picking Texas. Though I can’t quite figure out if it is entirely because I think they’ll win or because I’d love to see everybody on ESPN and ABC (among others) have to eat an enormous shit sandwich when the “greatest team ever” takes one on the chin in their own backyard. I truly believe that Texas’ defense is far better (and much, much faster) than any that USC has seen in the last two years, though that is countered by USC being light years ahead of any offense that Texas has come across. Additionally, I think the school of thought that says Ohio State’s win over Notre Dame bodes well for Texas is downright idiotic. Not only did Texas need some serious breaks to win that game, but they also faced a Buckeye team that had yet to settle on a quarterback. Honestly, if Troy Smith’s level of play against Texas had even approached what he did to ND in the Fiesta Bowl, then I’m willing to bet that the Longhorns wouldn’t have walked out of the Horseshoe with a win in September. Finally, while the media will have you believe that Vince Young is a one-man offensive show, Texas boasts a number very good offensive players, including freshman tailback Jamaal Charles and the amazingly versatile Ramonce Taylor. On the other hand, USC’s defense is pretty banged up. Keep in mind, this wasn’t exactly a dominant force at any point during this season. What does all this mean? That I still have no real idea which team I think will this evening, but since it’s 5 and I’m ready to go home I’ll pick it:

Texas 35
USC 31