Thursday, November 30, 2006
If anyone is on the fence considering Lasik surgery, take this as the Jim Hammen two thumbs up endorsement. The process goes a little something like this:
Day 1, hours 1-5= immense pain.
Day 1, hours 6-rest of day=mild discomfort.
Day 2=no pain, 80% vision.
The marvels of modern medicine. On the plus-plus side, I get to wear some sweet goggles for basketball the next couple of weeks. Not quite as cool as Antoine Carr, but Chris Kolle would be jealous.
Monday, November 27, 2006
With trade talks involving Manny Ramirez heating up like never before, I feel like I should tell Theo Epstein that all I want for Christmas is Manny in a Red Sox uniform next year.
Trading Manny is the unthinkable. The knockout punch. The nail in the coffin. The straw that broke the camel's back. Fill in whatever sports cliche you like, that's what it would be. Since the magical ride of 2004, I have swallowed the loss of Pedro, Kevin Millar, Roberts, Arroyo, Cabrera, Mueller, D-Lowe, etc. Even Judas Damon, which I thought I would never get over. Losing Manny, though, would leave me inconsolable. Manny, despite his moodiness, has never been a clubhouse cancer. The only player that Manny affected was Manny. Part of the reason Millar was so valuable was his ability to keep Manny focused, in a good mood. Millar would see Manny go 0 for 4, make an error in the field, maybe snap at the press, and know it was time to step in and do his thing. And bam, Manny would hit a couple homers the next night, flashing his trademark point all over the field, and there you go. He has asked out of Boston numerous times the last few years, only to be talked off the ledge by Millar. When the Sox dangled Manny on the waiver wire during 2003, then tried to trade him for A-Rod after the season, it was Millar who calmed him down, went to the press and backed Manny, and 9 months later, he was World Series MVP. That's why the loss of Millar, as I said at the time, opened the door for much larger consequences down the road.
Part of the reason I love the Sox so much is that they are idiots. They are exactly what we would be like if we found ourselves playing pro baseball for millions for dollars. The 2003 and 2004 teams were laid-back, joking around, growing stupid facial hair, driving around remote-control cars and shooting bow and arrow on the field before games. It takes a certain kind of team to come back from 0-3 down in a best of seven series, a fact that is proven by the fact that only three teams have ever done it in the history of sports. That same looseness, who-gives-a-shit, win-or-lose-we-still-booze mentality is what enabled them to win that series, and the World Series after that. And Manny was, still is, the embodiment of that team.
And the by-the-numbers, chart out the graphs, what are their statistics worth to us strategy that Theo and his assistants used to add such key pieces like Schilling, Cabrera, Varitek, and others are what have torn this team down. Good character guy after good character guy have walked out the door since the 2004 season, because their stats weren't worth their dollar. It was hard to take, but because at the same time they were adding solid players like Josh Beckett, Mark Loretta, Mike Lowell, Alex Gonzalez, etc. it was easier to accept.
But I can't accept this strategy anymore. Two years have produced zero playoff wins, and the team has become less and less fun to watch. Now the Sox, who won't spend the money on their own free agents, will pay $51 million just for the rights to negotiate with a Japanese guy? We are turning into the Yankees, right before my very eyes. A team that has no fun, and has no rings to show for it. I don't want to cheer for the Yankees. I want to cheer for the Red Sox. For the idiots. For Manny. So Santa, if you exist, tell Theo Epstein that he holds my Christmas in his hands.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Wow. Are we sure that it's only November? That wasn't the national championship game? Despite the increased heart rate, splitting headache, and multiple ulcers I am now suffering from, I feel good. I will also be sleeping in my Julian Wright jersey tonight, if anyone cares.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
And so begins another KU basketball season. This year, while it will be exciting and tons and tons of fun to watch, has the potential to be very excrutiatingly difficult, as evidenced already by their early season loss to Oral Fucking Roberts. Obviously I love the 12 guys that KU suits up every year, but I have fallen especially in love with this team. Julian Wright already has a jersey up on my wall of fame (joining Jacque Vaughn, Jeff Boschee, and Keith Langford...if anyone can find me a Hinrich college jersey let me know) and by the time it is all said and done, he has the potential to be unbelievable. Haven't seen a big man pass like him in years, pro or college. Darrell Arthur is stupid good. I mean ridiculous. On a team full of athletes he stands out. Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Russell Robinson all matured a bunch this last off-season, making it hard for Sherron Collins to get all the PT he deserves. Darrell Jackson doesn't do much wrong anymore, a far cry from last year. It's just impossible to talk about this team and not get fired up. I have goosebumps right now, to be perfectly honest.
All that being said, I have been a KU fan far too long to be all smiles. The last 5 tourneys have been absolute torture for any Jayhawker. A final four loss, a championship game loss, an overtime loss in the elite 8, and two absolutely shocking first round losses have KU fans more heartbroken than any fan base in the country so far this century.
As hard as the loss to Bradley was last year, after I settled down for a few weeks, I thought that for a very talented, but very young team, it was the best thing that could've happened to them. This was evidenced by Rush coming back (he would've been gone if they "wouldn't have gone out like that" as he said) and the great off-season they had.
I also love Bill Self's attitude and quotes after these games, and the way he downplayed the hype all summer. After the Oral Roberts loss, he said "I saw this coming three months ago. Why are we the #3 team in the country? Because we made a little run at the end of last year and lost in the first round of the tournament? That makes us the third best team in America?" He also ripped on the players for letting the no-namer from ORU hit 7 threes on them, saying that "maybe after he hits one or two we should start guarding him..." I love that. Very Aaron Dunphy-esque, the right amount of disdain and ridicule for his players, which I feel is a great way to motivate talented players, call them out and challenge them...
...which is why this loss is so disheartening. To have a loss like this, so early, only a couple of games removed from the Bradley game, is disconcerting. I thought that this was exactly the type of loss that would be eliminated from KU's repertoire. Why hasn't the mental toughness of Self, whose teams before KU had never made unexpected early tourney exits, rubbed off on the team in his 3+ years at Kansas? Looking at this negatively, this is a horrible omen of things to come; the sophomores learned nothing from last year; the freshmen have a lackadaisical attitude; everyone will play scared the next time it is close. Looking at this positively, maybe it is (once again) the best thing that could have happened this early on. Maybe the players were buying into all the Sports Illustrated, espn.com, preseason all-on-paper hype, and this is just the thing to snap them out of it.
As for me, I will continue to be excited about the upcoming year, but with a little bit of temperance. No one is going undefeated in college basketball these days, and it's only November. But I'll feel great if this is the only loss to a shitty team we have all year. My glass is still half full. Bring on the Gators.
Monday, November 13, 2006
1. SexyBack- Justin Timberlake (only cause I think it's hilarious...don't worry)
2. Train In Vain- The Clash
3. Diamonds And Guns- Transplants
4. Precious Declaration- Collective Soul
5. Ballroom Blitz- Sweet
6. One Week- Barenaked Ladies
7. Cochise- Audioslave
8. Rocket- El Presidente
9. Superman- Goldfinger
10. Cold Hard Bitch- Jet
11. Snow- Red Hot Chili Peppers
12. Uptight- Stevie Wonder
13. Cobra Style- Teddybears Stockholm
14. Playmate Of The Year- Zebrahead
15. Playa Hatin' Niggas- 2 Live Crew
16. Pump It- Black Eyed Peas
17. Green Onions- Booker T and the MG's
18. Tell Me Baby- Red Hot Chili Peppers
19. Afternoon Delight- Ron Burgundy
20. Should I Stay Or Should I Go- The Clash
21. This Lonely Place- Goldfinger
22. Goin' In The Right Direction- Robert Randolph
23. You And I- Rick James
24. Goodbye Horses- Q Lazzurus
25. Just A Friend- Biz Markie
Thursday, November 9, 2006
I know it's a little bit late, but whatever. Lay off.
1. Miami: Not any better, but rest of East isn't either. They can coast 'til May.
2. Chicago: Backcourt is one more year away from serious title consideration.
3. Cleveland: With Larry Hughes healthy, they take the next step.
4. New Jersey: Vince Carter is in contract year, so he will actually try.
5. Washington: As Arenas's craziness grows, so does his game.
6. Detroit: Miss Big Ben more than they admit.
7. Orlando: Beginning of an era for Howard, Nelson, Darko.
8. Indiana: Will find a way to squeak in like they always do.
9. Toronto: Improved, but no playoffs yet.
10. New York: If the track isn't finished yet, you can change engineers, but the train is still gonna crash.
11. Philadelphia: 2nd half fade from Iverson, C-Webb.
12. Milwaukee: Still don't know how they got in last year.
13. Boston: No real identity. Oh yeah, Danny Ainge is their GM. Weird.
14. Atlanta: Could be a really, really good team if they allowed draft do-overs.
15. Charlotte: NCAA All-Stars 2004-2006.
1. San Antonio: I know everyone's saying it, but it's true: don't underestimate a hungry Duncan. Take away a ridiculous Derek Fisher shot and a stupid Ginobli foul and they would be going for a 5-peat this year.
2. L.A. Clippers: Are you excited for the Shaun Livingston show? I know I am.
3. Dallas: Still a great team, but probably missed their chance last year.
4. Houston: If they stay healthy, they could win the title. If they don't, they will be in the lotttery.
5. Phoenix: Another team that probably missed their boat. I'm waiting for Nash's spine to collapse in the middle of a fast break.
6. L.A. Lakers: A playoffs without Kobe to cheer against wouldn't be a playoffs at all. The Hating Kobe Era is getting me through the Knicks Sucking Era.
7. Denver: Talent=playoffs. No heart=first round playoff loss.
8. New Orleans/OK City: Six teams have a legitimate shot at getting swept by the Spurs in the first round. I'll give it to N.O. cause they deserve the playoffs.
9. Utah: Solid on paper, but West is loaded.
10. Minnesota: If they were in the East, they'd probably go to the East finals.
11. Sacramento: Are you seeing a theme here?
12. Golden State: If you're hoping Don Nelson will be your savior, you're hoping too much.
13. Memphis: Wayyyyyy too many question marks for this conference.
14. Seattle: Fun to watch...
15. Portland: Fun to laugh at.
MVP: Bron-Bron. It's his league now. Lay back and enjoy it.
ROY: Brandon Roy. I called this before his senior year of college, gotta stick with it now. Rookie Flop: Shelden Williams. Rookie Sleeper: Rajon Rondo.
Coach of year: Mike Dunleavy. Didn't think I'd ever say that ten years ago. Worst coach of year: George Karl. No one does less with more.
Most Improved: Tyson Chandler. Most improved starting 5: Chandler, Deron Williams, Jameer Nelson, Luke Walton, Marvin Williams.
Most Declined: Rasheed Wallace. Refs will help this along. Most declined starting 5: Wallace, Eddie Jones, Antoine Walker, Chris Webber, Steve Francis.
6th Man: Does Amare count? If not, then Andres Nocioni.
All-underrated team: David Lee, Shane Battier, David West, Mehmet Okur, Gerald Wallace.
All-overrated team: Wally Szczerbiak, Brendan Haywood, Kenyon Martin, Mike James, Baron Davis.
Sunday, November 5, 2006
Working in a restaurant, the vast, vast majority of encounters I have with strangers that deserve a story are only story-worthy because of how much the aforementioned strangers suck at life. However, every once in a while I came away from one of these encounters laughing my ass off, mostly at how the person recognized the potential for a funny moment and capitalized. One of these occured today.
A man came up and paid for his food with a credit card. We usually don't i.d., but I happened to glance at the card and saw an interesting name: William Wallace. I glance at the guy, back at the card, and kind of laugh to myself. The man saw my look of disbelief and decided to take it a step further. He slammed his hand down on the counter, and in his best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) Scottish accent, exclaimed, "I AM William Wallace!!!" I think the only time a customer has made me laugh harder was when two tables of college kids sitting by one another flawlessly pulled off the C-Bass scene from Dumb & Dumber, word-for-word.
On a completely unrelated topic, after hearing Kanye West go off (again) at an awards show in Europe when he didn't win video of the year, I think personally that I am at the point where if I didn't hear Kanye talk besides in his songs, I would be totally OK with it. I don't know if I have ever had such a discrepancy between how much I like an artist's music and how much I dislike the artist as a person. I don't hate all black people (like Bush apparently does) but I sure hate you.,