Friday, July 30, 2010
(Note: Please click on the links. It makes the article that much better, like watching "Fantasia" on acid.)
(Note 2: Just say "No" to drugs.)
Every morning I wake up at 5:30, and I have the same routine. Hit my snooze button for a half an hour, because it bugs my girlfriend. Stumble to the bathroom for the morning number one or two (a combo if I'm really lucky). Wash up. Head to the kitchen and start a pot of coffee. Turn on the television, check the DVR for last nights "Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (black nerd alert). Watch it and pretend I'm smart. Morning push-ups (for the ladies), prepare breakfast, drink coffee.
All this ends at 7 am.
At 7 am, I turn to ESPN2 for "First Take". Now, it's another story for another day, but just know that I'm aware the show is goofy. I know it used to be called "Cold Pizza". I know that a "real sports fan" would never watch the show. That's why most of you probably have never seen it.
Oh, what's that? You have? Let me guess why. Two words:
Love him or hate him...well, more than likely you hate him. But that's cool. I'm gonna give you some perspective that'll change your mind in a second. Bayless is the polarizing, talking head who appears regularly (as in every damn day) on a segment of the show called "1st and 10" (here's a sample). A former journalist and author (a very good one, in fact), Bayless is supposed to represent the old-school, sports writer point of view on a variety of daily topics divided over, get this, four downs.
(Get it? 1st and 10? Four downs? Cliche' much?)
Anyways, Bayless has reinvented himself on this show as an entertaining curmudgeon who will often take positions on the debate topics that will leave you either A.) scratching your head, B.) wondering if he really believes what he's saying, or C.) yelling obscenities at your television. You'll rarely agree with anything he has to say, but you'll watch him as he says it.
And that, people, is what we in the business call "entertainment".
Whether its his ridiculous arguments, his passion, or his uncanny ability to look like a cross between Woody from "Toy Story", Ernest, and Heath Ledger's version of the Joker, he has that thing that makes people watch. Most who watch will say they hate him. I've even said it in the past. But I've realized the error in my ways. So, without further ado, the "Top Ten Reasons To Love Skip Bayless"
10.) He really was an excellent writer. Check out his Wiki page. He started out very young in the sports journalism business, and has carried a bit of that "young mentality" with him, even in his old (58) age. Hell Bent was a classic book about the crazies within the Dallas Cowboy locker room and front office.
9.) His brother, Rick Bayless, is a world renowned chef with a television show on PBS. He's even won a Humanitarian award. How can you not like someone who's related to someone like that? Did Hitler have a brother that did anything cool or nice? No, he did not.
8.) He usually argues against black people. Check out here, here, here, and here. That's harder than you think. We live in a very "PC" wold these days. Given the variety of topics, and the sensitivity of the issues, he navigates the whole "white guy yelling at black people" thing pretty well.
That's not to say that I've never questioned if he harbored some racist feelings at one time or another. And I'm not alone.
7.) He listens to hip-hop. Not like those old white guys who try and sound cool by saying they listen to hip-hop. He actually does, and has had Lil Wayne, and Bow Wow (amongst others) come on the show to debate him. He's had a rapper AND a sound a dog makes, debate him on TV. That's pretty damn cool if you ask me.
6.) He's made Chad Ochocinco's career ten times more relevant than it ever should be. Bayless first started critiquing Ochocinco for his behavior back in 2005-06, when he was known as "Chad Johnson", a pretty good wide receiver on a crappy team (Bengals) in a city no one cares about (Cincinnati).
What started as a few comments made on a small cable program quickly grew when Johnson/Ochocinco, a media-whore by nature, used multiple venues to respond to things Bayless said. Their war of words continued, and then this little thing called "Twitter" was created. Johnson/Ochocinco lobbed a few grenades, and Bayless did so as well. Before long, Johnson/Ochocinco was a guest on "1st and 10". Shortly after that, Johnson/Ochocinco appeared on "Dancing With the Stars". This summer, Johnson/Ochocinco debuted his own reality show on VH1 called "The Ultimate Catch".
I call this the "Bayless Bump". Johnson/Ochocinco has been on the downside of his career for three years now. The numbers don't necessarily show it, but his team hadn't been in the playoffs since 2005 prior to last season, and that was only the other time his team had done so. Meanwhile, Johnson/Ochocino's self-promotion now had "marketing" in the terms of Bayless making his actions conversational topics for each of the past 5 years.
But at least Bayless seems to like Johnson/Ochocinco. That's more than I can say for...
5.) Terrell Owens must have done something terrible and personal to Skip. Because, atthis point in time, there really seems to be no other logical reason that Bayless saves his most vitriolic critique for Owens. If you're reading this blog, you know enough about sports to know the name Terrell Owens. All-pro wide receiver with Hall of Fame numbers who's burned his fair share of bridges on different teams he's played for.
Well, that's putting it lightly. Owens (allegedly) called one former teammate "gay", said his team would've won the Super Bowl if not for another quarterback (watch this starting at 4:30), and cried for a quarterback, then claimed he was conspiring against him.
What's not to like?
Still, Bayless has never let up on Owens. He refers to him as "Team Obliterator", among other names. He claims that he is a real life cancer in a locker room. He "poo-poos" his great plays and accentuates his dropped passes. Unlike other athletes, he doesn't seem to want Owens to appear on "1st and 10". At times, I get the feeling that he really wishes harm on Owens. And that makes for good television. Here's a classic example.
He even goes in on T.O. on Twitter. Check this out from @RealSkipBayless today:
"Bill Walsh once told me 1) T.O. was as smart as any player ever had in meetings 2) psychological issues made him unreachable, uncoachable."
"Walsh, then a 49er advisor, loved Jeff Garcia. T.O. criticized his arm. Yet Garcia-to-T.O. led NFL in TDs 2 yrs before Niners said enough."
"My challenge stands: I will debate Ocho AND Owens on live TV. Any time, any place. But Owens is afraid of me because I know too much."
What does he know? I want to know.
4.) Again, he usually argues against black people. This is something extremely unique to this. Think about it. Hoe often do you get to see black people in sports media? Now, subtract the number of those who are former athletes, musicians, or actors promoting a new movie. Now who comes to mind?
See, not as many as you think.
Bayless gives a lot of black journalist/media a platform to show their face on a pretty popular program. He's been able to raise the profile of people like Michael Smith, Jemele Hill, Rob Parker (who regularly gets his ass handed to him), Scoop Jackson, Howard Bryant, Doug and Ryan Stewart (The 2 Live Stews), Terrence Moore, and a host of others. This is a big deal to me, because I'm black, and I'm not above playing the race card if it'll get me some face time. Works for Jesse and Al.
Seriously though, there is something to be said for Bayless providing his stage, since most who come on will be in disagreement with what he has to say. I know for a fact that it is what pulled me into watch so many years ago.
But... when Stephen A. Smith is on there with him, I sometimes want to stab my eyes out.
3.) Charles Barkley HATES him. See this, and this. Enough said.
2.) He'll never concede an argument, even when he's been proven wrong. The proven wrong part gets him the most. Watch him squirm as Jalen Rose counters his argument and breaks down his hatred T.O. of a certain player we'll talk about in a sec. These are the best moments of the show to me. Not because I like to see a grown man squirm, but because I love to see it. Especially when it's someone who has taken extremely critical stances on people and situations without being called to task on their own shortcomings, or the error in their judgment. (Note: please do not show this post to any children I may have in the future. I'm a hypocrite. Sue me.)
1.) He was absolutely right on Lebron James. You may not remember this, but it was only about a month ago that Lebron James was the most beloved athlete in all of the NBA, and the highest approval rating of celebrity athletes according to a Sports Illustrated Poll. The day after "The Decision", James saw that approval rating dip from 78 percent positive, to 81 percent negative.
There was one person, though, who never had their opinion changed. Mr. Skip Bayless.
The "Diabolical Hater", as he's sometimes known, has been railing full force against "Prince James" for a full five years now. He actually began to let up once James made his announcement that he'd be going to join the Miami Heat, citing James recognizing his inability to come through in the clutch. Scoop Jackson summed up those of us who'd watched Bayless bash James over the years waiting for James to prove him wrong in a recent blog post titled, "LeBron James, you've proven Skip Bayless right". If you're like me, you read it, you remember everything he'd said, you nod your head, and shake it off. Basically, you now know how Bayless feels every time he gets owned on "1st and 10".
And in my opinion, you gotta love it.
"I'm Huggins and I can't get up!"
West Virginia head basketball coach Bob Huggins might want to give up walking anywhere unsupervised, ever...
Every summer for the last 3 years Huggins has managed to injure himself worse than the year before, all self-inflicted. He's like a one-man 3 Stooges slapstick routine. In summer of 2008, trips off the tarmac in an airport while on the phone and cracks his noggin. In 2009, he walks into a door in the middle of the night and gets 2 shiners for his trouble. Now in 2010 Huggy takes "medication" on an empty stomach, falls down, goes boom and cracks seven ribs in the process. What's he going to do in 2011 to top these; take a casual stroll off the Grand Canyon? Someone needs to have a hidden camera crew follow him around every summer to catch his blunders on video (get on this, Comedy Central).
Bobby, you're a multi-millionaire. Please get on your "Diddy" and hire a personal assistant to walk for you!
My take on the subject... I think Tebow will eventually be the starter for the Broncos. I don't think he will have stellar numbers, but I do think the intangibles of finding ways to win will prevent epic late season collapses, like the down the stretch 2-6 record the Broncos had last season from happening. Yes the throwing motion is slow and atrocious. Yes reading defenses needs to be improved. Yes this guy knows how to win games...
Weigh-in in the COMMENTS section, and let the Tebow debate begin!!!
This guy is definitely in a 'Lane' all his own.
All-American demeanor. Smoking hot wife. Says all the right things in the beginning. What's not to like about Lane Kiffin? (besides the fact that he hasn't won squat)
To own such a crappy winning record, this guy has mastered the art of landing high-profile head coaching positions that he is vastly underqualified for. Went from backup QB for Fresno State to USC's coaching staff during their dominant run in the early 2000's (eventually climbing to offensive coordinator for one of the best teams in CFB history). Then BAM; with no prior head coaching experience he's the youngest head coach in the modern NFL era (at the ripe young age of 31) and for one of the most storied franchises in the league, the Oakland Raiders. Al Davis even referred to him as "Lance".
Of course, the rebuilding 2007 Raiders (beginning of the JaMarcus Russell era, and we all know how that turned out) stumbled their way to a 4-12 record. To start the 2008 season, the Raiders again fall to a 1-3 record. Not happy, Al "Darth Vador" Davis (I'm half-convinced he isn't even alive. Have you seen this guy lately?) draws up a resignation letter for Kiffin to sign, which of course he refuses to. Then it's gets interesting, and borderline comical. Davis holds a press conference calling Lane Kiffin a "flat-out liar". Kiffin retaliates by saying "he's embarrased to be associated with Al Davis." I don't know about you, but I find public disputes in the media between two adults quite hilarious.
Fast forward 2 months later, and Kiffin (he of the 5-15 NFL coaching record) somehow lands the job to coach the prestigious Tennessee Volunteers, replacing the ousted Phil Fulmer (who in 20 seasons with the Vols amassed a 152-52 record and a Championship in 1998). In my opinion, the hiring was of Kiffin was made due to Tennessee needing a fresh young face to impress boosters, but that's just me. Kiffin begins his tenure at Tennessee by publicly challeging rivals as even goes as far to publicly accusing Florida's head coach Urban Meyer of tampering with a Volunteer recruit. All this before even winning a game! ESPN's Chris Low even reported that Kiffin once told a recruit that "if he chose the Gamecocks, he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life like all the other players from that state who had gone to South Carolina.” Reporters live for guys like this.
On the field, the Vols have an up & down season and finish with a subpar 7-6 record. A couple big wins with some head scratching losses thrown in the mix. After Pete Carroll jumps off the USC train before it crashes, Lane Kiffin all of a sudden leaves Tennessee in the middle of the night (literally) to become the head coach of the Trojans. But how?? The guy looks like a below average coach on paper and in the huddle! Maybe inheriting all of USC recruiting woes and NCAA violations will finally reveal if he can actually coach a football team to a winning record.
Until Sept. 2nd on ESPN, please keep the sound bites and appearances by your wife coming, 'Fast' Lane! We'll be watching...
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Kevin Durant - OKC Thunder, Team USA
Derrick Rose - Chicago Bulls, Team USA
Stephen Curry - GS Warriors, Team USA
John Wall - Washington Wizards, Number 1 Draft Pick
Diana Taurasi - Phoenix Mercury, Team USA (Women's)
Stephen Strausburg - Washington Nationals (P)
I'm not going to go into great detail about stats and why I think they are good. All I can say is, watch these athletes play and I guarantee you have a moment or few where you just watch eyes wide open and genuinely mean it when you say, "Damn that was nice...".
... And they'll take a 100 mil and run with it.
Can't say that I'm surprised by this story one bit. What did you expect to happen when you give someone $41 mil guaranteed in the first 13 months of a 7 year/$100 million dollar deal? Of course Albert Haynesworth is going to take the money, play half-assed for the first year, collect on his roster bonus and then skip mini-camp because he doesn't like his role in the new coaching staff's defense (which he has yet to play in). What's next; showing up to training camp out of shape? Wait, that just happened. I'm sure he's been eating real well with $41 mil he's pocketed so far.
Just another example of rewarding a player before they prove their value to your franchise. Yes, Haynesworth was a BEAST for Tennessee in 2008; that's because he playing for a new contract! History has proven that players with "potential" to be great have a tendency to step it up in contract years, get a huge deal, then lay an egg once they cash in. Haven't we learned from players like Jerome James (currently collecting multi millions from NY for no production whatsoever) or Super Bowl XXX Larry Brown (Al davis at his finest!). The smart GM's are the ones who offer these types of players incentive-laiden deals where the player can only cash in by reaching performance escalators.
But in Albert Haynesworth's defense, all you can say is "Don't hate the playa, hate the game." Getcha money Fat Al!
I got into an email argument recently. It's like a texting argument, only more queer.
The topic began somewhere, then evolved to ranking favorite sports to watch live. I had the audacity to rank NBA and MLB games above the hallowed NFL. This led to a bunch of baseball bashing, complete with the most commonly used cliche arguments against the sport. Its a boring, slow, simple game, played by non-athletic people who used to maybe use steroids. All BS, of course, but whatever...
Within that email thread, only myself and a Puerto Rican guy were willing to defend the game. We pointed to the history, the unwritten rules, the unique complexities of the different ballparks, the Ken Burns documentary, and all kinds of other things that made me realize that even I was beginning to bore myself.
How did we get here?
Many have and will point to the Steroid Era as what ultimately has done the game in. I can't wholeheartedly disagree. The media likes to point to the early 2000's as the height of the Steroid Era, but if you look closely at the numbers (and film) the case can be made for steroids being a part of the game as far back as 25 years. It matters because in a game that is so reliant on sheer numbers to impress an audience that admittedly has to endure a lot of inaction throughout the course of a game, having almost three decades of tainted play is a concern.
I grew up in the Steroid Era, pulling for a San Francisco Giants team led by all-time homerun leader Barry Bonds no less. An unlikable guy, doing unfathomable things, with unknown amounts of illegal assistance (allegedly). Time has come to reveal that the best player on my favorite team was far from alone in this. I more than understand the current hangover effect that may have set in America's conscious about the game.
As a fan though, I don't want it to be that easy. There are a lot of good things happening in Major League Baseball right now. Seventeen of the thirty teams are still in contention for either a division title or playoff spot. There have been five no-hitters this season, and it isn't even August. Washington Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg is showing to be worth the "Lebron-esque" hype he'd been receiving since being drafted. Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton may be the first athlete to pull the reverse "Lawrence Taylor", going from crackhead to Triple Crown MVP. The New York Yankees...wait...fuck the Yankees. But you get my point, right?
I have to believe that all is not lost. As the picture above alludes to, baseball is in a rough patch right now. The game is scuffed. It's unclear how, if at all, it will be able to pull through. Strip away all the ancillary stuff, though, and you still see the only thing you need to see, and that is the ball. In the end, that should be all that matters.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
This is sooo not the year to be a rich dude creeping around on the wifey. Tiger Woods is still smarting from the Thanksgiving Day Massacre. Reggie Wayne let his side piece get his credit card and go all "The Biggest Loser" on it. Steve McNair... nuff said.
Well, get ready for more. The Rick Pitino extortion case has begun, and this promises to be some entertaining "ish".
Here's the rundown for those who don't know. Legendary coach, who is a married father of six, pokes woman (Karen Sypher), raw dog, back in 2003 in a restaraunt, with another person in the room. Surprise! She claims to be pregnant about a year later. Coach sends her to the abortion clinic with his assistant and $3,000. Three stacks! Assistant falls in love with woman on the ride to the clinic, and marries her. Marriage dissolves. Woman says Pitino raped her and demands millions of dollars. Coach gets extortion charges filed on woman.
Believe it or not, that's the boring stuff.
Testimony in the trial started today, and it is grand. Check it out.
Nickname suggestions? "Slick Rick" won't do, but "Quick Rick" sounds fun. "Premature Pitino"? Eh...
When did NBA owners/GMs turn into such whiners?? Whether Chris Bosh was injured or not, he's no longer a Raptor. Call him out when he's still a member of your franchise, not after he decided to jump ship as unrestricted free agency allowed him to. I only have 2 words for this; "Stop Snitchin'".
I'll always look to last summer and the passing of Michael Jackson as a perfect example of the phenomena known as "convenient amnesia". At the time of his death, MJ was at the ultimate depth of his fall from grace. He was a drug addict. He was an accused pedophile. He was selling his home. He was forced to go back on the road for one "last" tour, not because he loved to perform, but he was financially obligated to.
He was the butt of jokes. two of my personal favorites were the Katt Williams, "Excuse me Mr. Jackson" (check it our here), and South Park's "Mr. Jefferson" episode (here).
Yet, when he died, it was hard to find anyone willing to bring any of the character flaws up. Not publicly. Instead, it was all nostalgia. Playing MJ records at family reunions. Funeral on network television. The bootleg man had his greatest hits on sale.
Collectively, we decided to forget everything we knew that made him a pariah in the first place.
Fast forward to July, 13 2010. George Steinbrenner passes, and it the sports world does the same thing. The NY Yankee owner, notorious for mistreating employees like trash, breaking rules, invading privacy, and being banned from Major League Baseball TWICE, was treated w/ nothing but reverence and high regard by everyone in the media. Even some of those whom he treated terribly. I'm staring at you, Dave Winfield.
Yesterday, Oakland Raider great Jack Tatum died from a heart attack at 61 years of age. Tatum was the epitome of the bad-ass Raider image. Intimidating player on the field, unapologetic killjoy off of it. He's most famous, or infamous, for his hit on New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley that left him paralyzed.
Then again, it wasn't so much the hit itself, but the fact that he refused to even give the slightest hint of remorse in the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and decades after it happened. The man he left paralyzed died a few years back without any acknowledgment from Tatum. Tatum was damned proud of that fact too.
What does it all mean? I don't know. I'm no Buddhist, but I can see some karma in the way that Jackson, Steinbrenner, and Tatum lived their lives after there "bad"character was revealed. We know of MJ's problems. Steinbrenner suffered physically and mentally in his latter years, so much so that when the Yankees won the World Series last year, he couldn't "appreciate" it. Tatum lost toes on his foot, and suffered from diabetes until his heart attack took his life at a young 61.
Still, does it matter? We'll remember each of these guys the way we want too. I'm like most, I don't like speaking ill of the dead. But I'm not going to celebrate certified assholes just because they did the one thing all of us are guaranteed to do with our lives.
Where to begin... If we have learned anything from this off-season, it's that anything is possible in the NBA. The photo is direct proof of that. So let's start with the free agency, and specifically LeBron "Prince" James (can't be a king until you win a ring, kid).
I can't fault James for wanting to bolt Cleveland. It has proven to be extremely difficult to draw the right pieces to help LeBron bring a championship to the Cavs. What baffles me is, why would arguably the most physically talented player in the league basically concede that he can't win it alone and play Robin to D-Wade's Batman? (Chris Bosh is Alfred in this scenario). And the way the signing was announced shows what's wrong with the modern athlete. Too much ego, not enough substance. At least he could let the Cavs know ahead of time and saved the franchise major embarassment instead of hosting a glorified hour-long special for a 1 minute announcement. LeBron needs to take a few crash courses on class, in my opinion.
But who is to blame for LeBron's overblown image of himself. THE MEDIA. For bestowing the mantra "King James" oh him before his rookie season in the NBA. For comparing him to greats of the game. (ex. Magic, Jordan and, yes, Kobe Bryant and in some cases proclaiming him to be better? Really??). We created this self absorbed ego of LeBron. Are we witnesses? Yes, to a player who did more damage than good to his legacy in one off-season than any athlete in recent memory.
I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Have fun watching the Lakers celebrate that 3-peat fellas.
* Ed. Note - lostherod
To reiterrate the above before I go on this rant, LeBron clearly has every right to go where he wants to go. Now that's out the way...
I think LeBron doesn't have it in him, at this stage, to truly be "The Man" because his game is quite limited. He is a freakish athlete that can get to the cup at will, can get streaky from behind the arc and see the floor nicely. He is also one of the fastest players from one end of the floor to the other which accounts for those SC quality blocks.
The limits come in the facets of the game that actually make great player stand out and be great. Coming back with new additions to your game in the offseason, like a midrange, a real pullup jumper (not the dance dance revolution one), maybe some real man to man d, possibly good counter moves within the offense, just to name a few. These things make him predictable and allow defenses to swarm him and make.. well we know how his Cleveland story ends...
At the end of the day he needs someone to actually win for him cause he doesn't have that CLUTCH and Wade has proven he does. So I don't blame The Prince at all for "taking is talents to Outback Steakhouse" (The Decision, Steve Carrell). It jus shows what basketball minds already know, he is no Kobe and most definitely no Jordan.
We all know Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao need to go ahead and just sign for the fight and make all of us boxing folk excited again. So what's the hold up...
Is Floyd or Manny ducking the other? Hell no...
Is Floyd Jr throwing his boxing public the dueces (pic) for a couple years? Possible since we all know Money isn't gonna be punked into a deadline...
Is the lure of $50-$55 million each not enough? Could be something there if you think about the build up if this fight happens in the next year or two. All the trash talk between camps, a possible undercard with Freddie Roach v Floyd Sr, which personally I would pay top dollar for...
Clearly we have more questions than answers, but I tell you what us fans of the sport are left with. A megadud between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Maragrito for a Junior Middleweight Title. Pacquiao going for an 8th title in as many weight classes, amazing feet. Why isn't he fighting anyone that's actually in that division again? Then there's Margarito, a boxer who can't even fight in the states, well yet anyway, and got pummeled by a top 5 welterweight in Shane Mosley. Who wants to guess whats gonna happen when in the ring with the 2nd best P4P? I'll wait...
Camp Floyd... Camp Manny... Get it together the sport needs the best to fight the best
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Say it ain't so!
The two players who have probably accumulated the most celebrations fines in NFL on the same field? Say it ain't so! Click here for the story.
This I can't wait to see! But from a football standpoint, I like this signing. One year, 2mil for a matchup nightmare to line up on the other side of one of the best route runners in the NFL. Take away T.O.'s ill-timed rants and he's one of the best receivers in NFL history, and Ochocinco is arguably a top 15 receiver of this era. Just check the numbers. I'm predicting 20 TD receptions and 2200 yards combined. Get your popcorn ready!