Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cuatro Capitanes Grace NHL's Hall

Bruisers, character, class and fortitude are four choice words one might, as of Thursday, choose to describe the newest additions to the National Hockey League's Hall of Fame in Toronto. This year's class of captains hoisted a combined 12 Stanley Cups while tallying 5667 career points.

There are countless other staggering statistics to mention about this foursome; suffice it to say that the league has seldom seen a class of this caliber elected, each in his first year of eligibility.

Mark Messier, the New York Ranger icon, skated with some talent in his days. He also helped New York end a 50-year drought by bringing home Lord Stanley's trophy. His career point tally of 1887 falls shy of one other player, that wily cat on his left of this SI cover. Mess' notched 16 All-Star game appearances, finished seventh all time in goals (694) and third all time in assists (1193).

An inspection of the cup reveals his name a stellar six times.

The other three figures were also icons to the franchises for whom they played. Scott Stevens, drafted by the Washington Capitals, in the early 80s, was shipped to the St. Louis Blues for one brief season prior to being traded to the New Jersey Devils. It was there that he captained his club to three Stanley Cup titles.

Al McInnis hoisted the goods in '89 with the Calgary Flames before becoming a St. Louis Blue, a team he would captain until the end of his career.

Ron Francis was the icon of the Hartford Whalers, and even stayed with the club when they re-located to Carolina. His brief stopover with the Pittsburgh Penguins didn't hurt that team as they won consecutive championships.

This crew of captains is truly the epitome of leadership.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Baseball In The Daytime: 6-29-07

A surprising double-barrelled docket of day games greets us today, as two National League divisions will be shaped by compelling weekend series.

Leading off are the Mets and the Phillies at 11:35 Mountain from Citizens Bank Park. This is a nice new ballpark that I visited last summer--it yields way too many taters but cradles the Philly fans in comfort. Today's pitching matchup sees El Duque start his historic 5,000th game against young J.D. Durbin. Durbin is a candidate for the NL All-Star squad and brings a svelte 94.50 ERA into this contest. Fantasy owners should look at picking this kid up, especially if you play in my league. This is the first game of a day-night doubleheader and four-game series, and with the Phils lurking three back of the Mets in the NL East it should be a fun set, and your outlets are XM 183 and DTV 734.

At 12:20 we get the Cubs hosting the Brewers on XM 188 and DTV 735. I checked in for a game at Wrigley back in '04, on our way back from Elway's Hall Of Fame induction. Good times, and Nomar's first dinger at the Friendly confines landed a meter away from our bleacher seats.

The import of this series can not be understated. Milwaukee comes in fresh off a sweep of the Astros, while the Cubs have swept back-to-back trios of games from the White Sox and Rockies. The Crew's division lead sits and 7 1/2, and they could potentially bury the Cubs' hopes if they dominate this weekend. Milwaukee sends the rookie sensation Yovani Gallardo up against Rich Hill today.

When it matters, send flowers. Read more

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Light 'Em Up

It's necessary to wish a healthy, hearty, Happy Flippin' Birthday to two huge figures in the House of Georges.

No, we speak not of Kathy Bates, nor John Cusack, nor Gilda Radner, nor Mel Brooks. Nor Henry VIII I am, I am. First off is The Main Man, the greatest quarterback ever to play the game, the MVP, the Champ, John Elway. He's an old, weathered 47, but he Drives pretty good.

And second, we have to join in the celebration of Kissing Suzy Kolber's first anniversary. They are a big, big reason that you're subjected to the HoG in the first place. They're much better than we are and they know it, but reading the excellence that they piss made us think "Wow. You can write about sports, talk shit about the teams/players you hate, fantasize about sodomizing the world's most beautiful women and curse with wild abandon? Sign us up!"

Why did you come to this page? There's nothing else to see here, idiot.
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Baseball in the Dadtime: Our Pastime's Past Time

Editor's Note: Here at the House of Georges, Cecil and I recently decided that we'd grown tired of listening to Old No. 7 do all the baseball talking. Once we discovered our agreement on the matter, we wrangled up the idea that, sure, when he be talkin', we be shuttin' up; then he leave, we be talkin' again. And so we collaborated, and produced this gem of an e-mail exchange. If you have, or at one time had a) a father, b) a goose-bumpy feeling about the game of baseball, c) a yearning for Old No. 7 to stop talking about it, or some combination of the above, you just might dig on what we came up with.

Bankmeister: I've spoken with Old No. 7 about what, as kids in our generation, we grew up knowing as America's pastime. In our piecemeal conversations, we've agreed that, for the percentage of sports/former baseball fans of the world that soured with the '94 strike/non-existent salary cap/poor management of profit sharing/steriod use, some of them seem to be coming back around on the game. I'd include myself in that category, and I know that you grew up a big baseball fan, too.

What really got me thinking about this subject was your post on the House of Georges that mentioned how 2/3 of the House rolls fatherless. I played ball for 11 years, and came out of the womb a Kansas City Royals fan, 100 percent of which I attribute to my late father. I'd argue that most anyone that knows you would recognize your devotion to the Chicago Cubs. I assume, based on your Denver residency, that you follow the Rockies as well. Tell me about your love for the game, how it developed, and to what extent, if any, you'd pay homage to your late father for said love.

Cecil: I definitely fit that category.

My dad was a lot older than my friend's dads. He was 50 when I was born, in '74. He grew up in California, which at the time didn't have major league baseball, but listened to Cardinals games on the radio -- the Gashouse Gang were his favorites. Ducky Medwick, Pepper Martin, aka "The Wild Horse of the Osage," the Dean brothers, Leo The Lip. His style was dust-covered glovework, small ball, try-harders sliding with spikes up. It was appropriate, since that's how he was as a man -- not gifted athletically, small, but tough as a $2 steak.

As a young child, I loved to play more than watch. The Cubs '84 run was what really did it to me as a fan. I was born in Chicago, and Dad had grown to appreciate the losers on the North Side during our family's tenure there, despite his longtime appreciation of the St. Louis franchise. Before that, my connection to the pro game stopped at the minors with the Denver Bears. I was rooting on Andre Dawson and Tim Raines long before I knew anything about the National League.

He taught me how to play the game. As a tot I'd put on my brother's old Catfish Hunter model glove, which was about three hands too large, and Dad would wing a softball at me.

Once it just smacked me right in the face. Coordination wasn't my strong suit, and sadly, neither was playing baseball. But I tried. I played every summer until he finally went to the hospital for good, sick with Lou Gehrig's disease to the point he couldn't even smoke anymore. Then I just stopped playing altogether.

But oddly, my love and appreciation of the game grew. I would create imaginary players and concoct for them imaginary careers, complete with lifetime statistics. I'd stay up late calculating dream-world batting averages and ERAs. I'd watch every Cubs game, devour each breathless issue of Vine Line. I remember watching Rafael Palmeiro's first game, watching Greg Maddux as a rook. I cheered every one of Andre Dawson's 49 dongs in '87. As dad faded out, baseball faded in.

I went to one big league game with Dad. It was at the old Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. It was a huge, empty concrete edifice and he was in his wheelchair at that point, so the memory itself is bittersweet.

But I can't go to a Rockies game -- and yes, despite my loyalties, I do root root root for the home team, as long they aren't playing the baby bears -- without thinking how much he would have loved that park. And remembering how much he loved the game.

B: What a picture. I had no idea you followed Andre Dawson and Tim Raines before they were in the bigs. Total bragging rights. Strangely, those names remind me of one of many baseball traditions I had with my dad. The first one that comes to mind is Topps Sticker Book albums. I loved baseball cards, too, but as a youngster, the cards took a back seat to the sticker books.

I was four and getting ready to thrill the ladies as a kindergarten, mixmastering -- I'm infamously known as the guy that (allegedly with deliberation and repetition) scratched Jill Henderson's Grease record as she played it for Show-and-Tell -- awkward ball of nerd when my folks announced they were splitting up. Part of their deal was that dad would pick me up from school. Most days, he'd take me to my buddy Jason Smith's house, but not before a trip to the Shop N' Go to pick up a packet of stickers.

For those that don't know, the sticker books had the American and National Leagues split up; the sections contained an alphabetized arrangement of each team. Each team had a page, the page was arranged like a baseball diamond with stats and figures around it. The background, naturally, would be a cool image of a key player, like Mike Schmidt fielding a chopper at third on the Phillies page. Each packet came with five stickers, and dad and I would apply them to their appropriate spots, i.e. a shot of Terry Kennedy squatting behind the box on the Padres page. My first album was from the '81-'82 season. At the back of each volume, there were pages for the previous year's post-season. That year was a doozy because the previous post-season was Phillies/'Stros (in their old, bad-ass unis) and Royals/Yanks, the one time out of four in five years that the Royals eliminated the Bombers, and diligently I might add, with broomage.

But there were dramatic pictures of each series and, then a double-page layout for the championship. It was awesome. I almost never got Royals either, which, in hindsight, really helped me learn players from other teams, like Raines and Dawson, back when the Expos kicked ass. My dad built this trunk that I inherited. We plastered it with all the doubles I got and, ironically, there's a few handsome stickers on it like an old Texas Rangers third baseman, guy who calls himself Buddy Bell, not to mention Pete Rose, Phil Niekro, Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela, Jose Cruz and Willie Stargell, just to name a few.

I'm interested to know about Vine Line. Also, what can you tell me about your progression of fandom, if any, once your father was gone? How did it fare in the 90s? Do sons and fathers today share the bonding that baseball awarded us with ours?

C: Sticker albums, huh? That's odd -- for some reason, I don't recall sticker albums at all. And that was the kind of thing I would have just devoured.

All my life I've liked making lists, looking at stats, the kind of brain-numbed semi-autism that marks a baseball fan -- or just a nerd, whichever. Sticker albums would have been right in my wheelhouse. I collected cards.

I still have almost all of them. I sold a few to a collector, a real fat scumbag piece of dogshit, who paid me the handsome sum of $8. Among the few I sold were the Bo Jackson and Mark McGwire Topps Future Stars cards, along with a whole passel of interesting and old stuff. I can't recall why I wanted the cash, but that was right around the time I discovered drugs, so...

Every once in a while I dig them out. They are all still in the two metal filing boxes that dad gave me to store them in. Somewhere, decades back, I scotch-taped Doug Bair, Skip Lockwood and Cliff Johnson -- names otherwise lost to baseball history -- to the inside lid of one box, and there they remain to this day. Skip, in particular, looks like a guy having a bad day. Maybe because he was a grown man whom people still called "Skip."

Ah, and Vine Line. The Cubs fan mag. It's still around, still spreading the hyped-up North Side gospel to eager little fanboys and fangirls who don't get enough puffery from WGN. I can only assume it's chock-a-block with testimonials from old heads who drive to HoHoKam from Saskatchewan, with breathless descriptions of the next minor league star! on the way to the big club (Alex Arias was one from my day -- give him a Google and see how that worked out, Hall of Fame-wise), with fawning personality profiles of this generation's Damon Berryhill or Rick Wrona. I kept my subscription until maybe '89 or '90. Then I told my Mom she could go ahead an cancel, because I wasn't really reading it anymore.

Those were the dark days of my baseball fandom. The Cubs run to the division title in '89 was the last real baseball series I got into for several years, and definitely the last one I consider having shared with Dad. He was fully immobile by that point, dependent on machines for each breath. Both of us watched Will Clark hit that goddamn grand slam, but neither of us let it really hurt the way it might have, I don't think. Partly because, unlike '84, there was never a sense that that team was somehow charmed...and partly because, well, real life was doing a good enough job of hurting everyone by then.

Throughout the '90s I paid attention...but not so much. I enjoyed talking and reading roundball history, going to Rockies games and harassing Lou Piniella with ol' No. 7 and his then-girlfriend following a 3-hour rain delay at Coors, but I didn't feel the soulful connection I once did.

My rekindling came post-strike, but very, very slowly. And, despite his personal ridiculousness, I can thank Stanolzolol Sammy for that. His run against McGwire in '98 not only gave me -- along with everyone else in the damn country -- a "hero" to root for. A non-McGwire, who even then I thought of as nothing more than a bulked-up Dave Kingman. Sure, everyone was dirty. But just spending that one summer getting back into the timeless rhythm, trading 'did you see what Sammy did last night?' with friends and co-workers, that was enough. And you know what else? Fantasy baseball. Seriously. I remember reading about the first rotisserie leagues and thinking: "that's me." And it was. I would have murdered fools in those things as a youth. Stats were my allies. Adulthood has weakened my grip on each and every major league player, but the simple act of researching and building a team is kind of a childhood dream made real. Kind of real, anyway.

I don't think there's that connection with kids, their dads and baseball anymore. Football is where that father/son connect went, from afternoons at the ballyard to watching the NFL at home on Sundays. My guess as to why is the same one I've heard all over: that baseball is an older game, from an older generation, and the guys that love it the most now are the children of the WW2 and Korea vets, the boomers who remember the last catch they had with their Dad. I'm no boomer, but fit that general, I dunno. Whatever the reason, it feel sad that this American legacy -- kids and their dads and baseball and the infield fly rule and popcorn and that glorious, treasured history -- is slowly turning ghostly. But at the same time, I feel duty-bound to do my part as a potential future parent to carry it on.

B: Interesting. I love your take on baseball in the 90s, mostly because you summed it up well, the soulfullessness, etc. That was me all over the place. I'm not sure how long sticker albums were around. I only had two volumes; the next year was such a disappointment, what with Yankees/As and Dodgers/Expos gracing most of the post-season pages, the Royals eliminated early by Oakland.

There were still some badass stickers in those pages, though: Dusty Baker, Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, Steve Sax, Fernie V. (damn, those guys were loaded), not to mention Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Rickey Henderson, Raines, Dawson, Chris Speier, and, one of my all-time favorite catchers, Gary Carter. That would be the end of sticker books, and immediate baseball with dad, though, as my mom's new marriage took us to Atlanta, where my pops and I prayed for three years for a Royals/Braves World Series.

That's when I started playing ball, though. I was tiny, and I was terrible. By the time we moved back (three years later), dad and I began frequenting the cages where I was finally convinced about keeping my head down and my eye on the ball. He also helped me master the trapping of grounders and perfecting my slide -- I'll never forget how ridiculously proud he was of my first steal, and consequential strawberry.

Ironically, our first year back in KC was '85. He took my sister and I out of school and we had front-row standing spots for the ticker-tape, championship parade. The following year, he took me on a tour of the dugout; I got to meet George Brett, Bret Saberhagen and Buddy Biancalana
. That summer, lots of the players would come into the bar he tended (one of three jobs he had at the time), and I would skateboard up there on Saturday afternoons, one of which I shared nachos with Charlie Liebrandt and Joe Beckwith.

In the early/mid 80s, we saw lots of games together. He had this ridiculous, gruff cheer for Willie Wilson that involved him hollering Wilson's first name six times, real fast and real loud. We used to make fun of fat Willie Aikens, chuckle at U.L. Washington's toothpick and stare awestruck at the bats of Brett, Amos Otis, and the glove of Frank White, whom he so unpolitically correctly called "Ain'tso." Dad wanted so bad to get me a souvenir game ball, he once dove over two rows of seats (a real treat on the ol' rib cage) and caught a foul ball in the pit of his elbow. As he was trying to gather himself, some punks snatched it from his arm. He was so pissed that he tried to chase them down, got a beer thrown on him and wound up getting ejected from the stands. Good times. Those days were certainly my baseball haydays.

I still followed ball a bit as the 90s rolled around, but my interest faded quickly. The Royals were terrible, the Yankees and the Braves were boring, and I too, had discovered drugs, and women, and football had all but taken over as my main passion. It wasn't until I returned to Kansas City again (six-plus years in the Centennial State) and again reunited with my father and with baseball. I barely knew anyone on the roster, but I quickly learned as we again resumed attending games.

I'll never forget my last game at The K with my dad. I was panicking in my basement as he honked in my drive way. My Royals hat, the only one I'd ever owned, was missing. To this day, I have no idea what happened to it, but he bought me a new one that night, and it was a magical evening, too. A team known as the Baltimore Orioles was in town, Cal Ripken, Jr.'s last game in Kansas City. There was a massive pre-game deal, extra programs, tributes, etc. I'm sure other parks did the same, but this one was pretty darn cool. The stands were full, and they flickered and flashed with every pitch he faced.

I never in a million years would've imagined that would be my last game with my dad, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I suppose being back in Kansas City and experiencing baseball with my dad again is what rejuvenated me on the game. I can't help but recall the countless afternoon and evening games of mine in which he corrected my hitting stance from behind the backstop, how elated he was to witness my one career homerun, my lone all-star game appearance (separate occasions, of course).

It does feel sad that it's turning ghostly. I too, feel duty-bound, though, and look forward to continuing a tradition I'm proud to have been a part of.

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Baseball In The Daytime: 6-28-07

It's nice to be joined on the HoG's baseball beat by budding Inter-web-com superstar Roy F. Almania. Nice, hell. It is a fucking honor. We all worship at the altar of Roy.

There's lots of ass-kissing of the Royals today, following their incredible sweep of the first place Anaheim Cherubs. Jorge de la Rosa scattered 10 hits over six shutout innings (how is that even possible?) and the bullpen pitched three perfect frames to make Mark Teahen's 3rd inning RBI single hold up. Frankly, I'm flabbergasted. It must be exasperating to be a KC fan, as the team seems to go on little spurts like this every season and beat up on baseball's heavyweights. Then you look at the standings and they're 80 games below .500.

Today in the bigs, four afternoon games delight housewives, students, retirees, shut-ins, coma victims, prison inmates, the chronically unemployable and guys like me who'd rather listen to baseball than actually produce at work. The first is the A's and Indians at 10:05 Mountain, on XM 181 and DTV 734. Joe Blanton gets the start for Oakland, while the Tribe's Paul Byrd tries to improve upon Fausto Carmona's immolation yesterday (eight earned in one inning of work). The Indians dropped a half-game out of first with their loss, as Detroit was rained out.

Also at 10, the Pirates and Marlins engage in a scrum in an empty football stadium. Working in front of friends and family today will be Zach Duke and Scott Olsen on XM 185 and DTV 735. I'd get into more analysis on this contest, but we've both got better things to do.

Those Detroit Tigers will try again to finish their series against the Rangers after yesterday's washout. The pitching matchup is still Millwood and Rogers, and Kenny still roasts a hell of a bird. 11:05 on XM 180 and DTV 736.

Up in the Great White North, a couple of teams that make their living on artificial turf have a go at it at 1:10. The Twins (with Carlos Silva) and Blue Jays (with A.J. Burnett) populate the playing surface at the Metrodome, and you can tune in on XM 179 and DTV 737.

Depending on where you live, this may also qualify as a day game: the Dodgers and the D'Backs will commence hostilities in the giant air-conditioned box in downtown Phoenix at 4:40. A couple of lefties will attempt to silence bats: The Unit comes off the DL versus Randy Wolf. Your channels are XM 186 and DTV 738. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Musings from Roy F. Almania: Bucking the Trend

Editor's Note: This post was put together by the cousin of yours truly. I can't vouch for him; he lives in Joplin, Missouri, was home-schooled (still lives with my aunt and uncle who, by the way, vacation in Arkansas every year), has never been west of Kansas City or north of Omaha or east of Jefferson City, and I'd imagine the only form, if any, of sex he's ever had probably shares some strains of DNA with the both of us.

That said, he lives and dies with the Kansas City Royals, and I've given him the keys to the House so that he may voice what one might call bumpkin fandom of said ball club. We'll see how it goes.

I got zero desire to get into the feud/debate (minimal as it may seem in states not called Missourah) Buddy Bell's platooning of catchers John Buck and Jason LaRue, mostly because it pisses me off more than them cockteases from Hannibal. You wanna give the boy a random day off? No problem. Let Buck sit for the day game that follows the night game in which he started? Damn skippy. This reasonless, rhymeless bullshit has got to end, though. Here's why:

John Buck is on pace to break Steve Balboni's 1985 single-season Royals' homerun record of 36. I know, right? How could any big leaguer ever go yard 36 times in an entire season? Must be some nutty moose juice in the water around there.

Note: Case I scoop The Kansas City Star on this story, and you never hear from me again, it's 'cause they've finally fired that fat colored and hired me as his replacement.

Let's take a look at them numbers, though.

In 1985, Balboni played (that term's looser'n a Springfield freshman, I imagine) in 160 games, came to the plate 600 times, and finished the season with 88 RsBI (they'll get it right one of these days) and an average .243. That's about .225 homeruns per game or a six percent at-bats-to-homeruns ratio (I's always good with the numbers). Through 52 starts this year, Buck has had 170 at bats. Including today's series (broomball!) finale with ol' Brian's Los Calipornaheim Angels, he's got 14 jacks, which rounds out to .27 homeruns per game, or an eight percent at-bats-to-homeruns-ratio. Balboni also averaged .55 RsBI per game that (championship) year; Buck's on pace to finish with a smidgeon less, though his average is higher than where Bye-Bye finished that season (don't you forget game seven, now). The big, bald mustachioed lug also struck out a shit-stinkin' 166 times in '85 versus Buckyboy's 42 Ks thus far.

Now, I know I done mentioned Dayton Moore's doin' a fine job (I love these Internets!), but boy, if ain't wrong, don't fix it. Gets any greener (by greener, I mean worser, and by worser, I mean LaRue), I'll pick it (by pick it, I mean re-assign).

Let's go, Buddy, Dayton. Let's make like Denzel Washington's movie and "Do the Right Thing."

--Roy F. Almania

Editor's Note: While cousin Roy's stats are in fact accurate, his sensibility is...well, not so much.
Update 07/17/07: The last sentence under "Play Buck" here. C'mon, guys.
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We Are Hot Chicks: Hide And Seek

Editor's Note: This one sort of pushes the envelope as far as work safety goes. If you have a boss or wife that might object to you checking out pictures of 99% naked women, you may want to find a different computer (or boss, or wife).

As this is ostensibly a sports blog, I've always tried to theme my installments of the Hot Chicks along athletic lines. I've gone over Hot Chicks that bang pitchers and Hot Chicks that have fake marriages with gay jocks. I looked into features on Hot Chicks of the NBA, women's soccer and triathlons, but most of those broads are hideous.

Since the WWE murder/suicide story has been getting a lot of play this week, I thought I had an easy in: Hot Chick wrestling. But my "research" into images of various grappling mediums (mud, oil, Jello, K-Y, pudding, creamed corn, etc.) revealed two disturbing truths. One is that most of the women that wrestle in filth fall far below the attractiveness standards of this fine website. Two is that the ones that are easy on the eyes tend to get all fucked up because they're obscured by an opaque glaze of goo. I did find this (slightly NSFW), which is certainly appealing.

But all that got me thinking about a game we used to play: Hide & Seek. It's particularly appropriate during the heat of summer, when the ladies play all sorts of dumb games with their apparel, obscuring their desirable parts with tinier and tinier swatches , strings and straps. Yes, constant nudity would be great, but where's the sport in that? Thus here is a scientific breakdown of various ways to disguise the nips and hoo-has.

Since most of us, unless we're soccer freaks or hacky-sackers, use our hands to accomplish most simple tasks, they're the most natural devices with which to obscure one's udder womanhood. Mandy here gets extra points for the placement of her fingers, allowing her silicone glory to overflow in all the right areas.


Occasionally one ends up elbow-deep in paint. It happens. It also leaves hand-shaped residue upon one's chest, which might turn you on if you have a kindergarten art fetish like Caitlynn (or Katelyn or Kaitlin, honestly who gives a shit?) here.


Some call them drapes, some shades. I call them the only thing between us and lovely Brittany here.


When it's cold outside, you must dress smartly. Janet, who's obviously an A student, has bundled up in a fashionable striped muffler and is ready for Arctic conditions.


Somehow bonded together by strands of Silly String. Nice work, Melissa.


Jessica is serious about emergency preparedness. Should her vehicle ever get stuck in a ditch she can always attach her various cables and pulleys to extract it. Likewise, if she bags a deer during hunting season she has enough chain with which to secure it to her roof. Very handy.


No one, and I do mean no one, pulls off the minimal coverup like Louise Glover. Here she goes for the fishnet bodysuit, in case she spies a sturgeon in a nearby lake.
These concentric spirals are what Louise wears to basketball games. She sits behind the hoop and distracts opposing free throw shooters.
In class today, I assigned Louise a gold star for every time she made a HoG reader take his laptop into the restroom.
And Louise wishes you good day. Read more

Ifs, Whens and Other Things We Love That Just Might Kill Us: Bringin' A Knife To A Gunfight; or ex-coNFL Malfeasance

From time to time, the staff of the HoG likes to pool our liquor-bruised opinions into a sort of online argument. We prattle on about all this crap anyway, we might as well make you listen to it, too.

Therefore, we'd like to introduce a little something we call "Ifs, Whens and Other Things We Love That Just Might Kill Us." You can scrutinize the debut installment of this feature on Arrowhead Addict or Predominantly Orange. It was determined to be unanimously savory. This week's topic, however, (get used to it) is the National Football League, or, in this case "The ex-coNFL."

Old No. 7: Tank Johnson was cut by the Bears Monday. He's a good player, but couple his constant legal troubles with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's take-no-guff policies and Chicago was in an untenable situation. Now let's assume for a minute that Goodell was going to let Tank play this season, and he's an available free agent. Let's say the Chiefs have a shot at signing him to a contract that is cap-friendly with multiple outs should he repeat his bad behavior. As a fan, do you support the move? What if it were Pac-Man "Adam" Jones, who in my opinion is a much better player (and much crazier brand of miscreant)?

Bankmeister: I'd be into signing Johnson, but only under these circumstances: a) we sign your boy Adam Jones as well; b) we talk Just Give Me the Damn (Redacted) out of "retirement/announcing" and ink a deal with him; c) we send the Houston Texans Larry Johnson in exchange for Andre Johnson, Wali Lundy and Matt Schaub, the latter of which we ship back to Atlanta, along with Damon Huard, which lands us a healthy dose of Ron Mexico; and d) we scoop up the Titans' Albert Haynesworth in exchange for future considerations. That way, on October 14 (which will be -- knock, knock -- my dog's 13th birthday), when the Cincinnati Bengals come to town, we'll scare the living fuck out of those wanna-be criminals. Seriously, though: who'd play us? Everyone would be scared to. Only problem is the Arrowhead magic; fans might not come out for fear of that massive mangle of unwarranted posse that would be in the stands. And you? What if the Broncos were in the same position to acquire Johnson?

7: I typically don't mind attitude problems coming to the Broncos, because it's a team that has veteran leadership and a coach who's not afraid of losing his job. The whole Clarrett thing never bugged me once, other than the fact that they wasted a fairly decent draft pick on him. He cost the Broncos zero money, didn't affect chemistry, and was gone before anyone even noticed he was there.

That episode was evidence, however, of a troubling trend among megalomaniac coaches like Shanahan. They're such control freaks, and so drunk on their own omnipotence, that they feel they can "fix" even the most psychotic players. Both Andy Reid and Bill Parcells, normally smart, reasonable guys, thought they could "fix" your boy TO. Some cats are unfixable. Marvin Lewis went through a phase where he gobbled up every talented thug he could get his hands on, and two things happened: the Bengals got really good in a hurry, and Goodell unleashed the martial law to reign in the gangstas.

I've been very interested in the pattern of behavior--or, specifically, misbehavior--this offseason. Normally June is one-DUI-a-day country for the NFL, as the players get their last bit of irresponsibility out of their system before camp. But outside of Tank, Mex and Adam, the police blotter has been barren. Could it be that Goodell's penalties are being taken seriously by most? Furthermore, could it also be that Tank, Adam and Chris Henry are just truly the most brain-damaged players around right now for pushing the envelope?

In a roundabout way, I believe that the answer to both of those questions is yes, and that the answer to your original question is no. I think Tank is messed in the head and lacking the basic judgment required to be a productive, accountable NFL player. I don't think that about your average jock who gets a DUI or gets into a bar fight, although those both show incredibly poor judgment. So Tank, no. Adam Jones, no, even with the new haircut. Clarrett, Henry, no, no. Mexico, no way. Garden-variety misdemeanor hoodlum? Sure.

So since you refused to take my original question seriously and chose to crack wise, I'll move on. You've always been Mr. Morality on this stuff, but perhaps the annual run-ins with the River Falls PD have left you jaded. No matter. You mentioned a trade of LJ, and I've heard that discussed by more than a few Chief observers. You've also speculated earlier that you felt that the Chiefs would re-sign Larry, but with low guaranteed money. In my opinion, he'll never accept that, and guaranteed money will be the biggest sticking point in these negotiations. I also feel that Carl's ego will kill any legitimate trade, because he'll simply ask for too much. This leaves, to me, two possibilities: either Larry signs for $20 million-plus in guarantees (LT got 21), or he has a prolonged holdout. What's your read?

B: Interesting take on the MoClo' bit. I've never been able to morally distance myself like that with guys on my team's payroll. Kinda ties in with that idealism I spoke of last time we did this. As far as the questions you asked/answered, don't you think it's a little early for "most" to be taking Operation Reign in the Gangstas so seriously? I have a hard time believing that this large group of rich, in-the-spotlight men all altered their behavior so quickly. I'm sure some have, and I'm even more sure that more punishments will be handed out before the season starts.

Brain-damaged? I don't think so. I theorize that it has much more to do with self-absorption and flat out not caring. I wouldn't call these guys veterans. They haven't made it. They're still young and arrogant. Half of the time, I think they enjoy those qualities, too. Jones, for example the epitomizes, like you said, the unfixable cat. I've come to accept the garden-variety hoodlum presence in the league. You have to. Like you said, poor judgment, but I'm not sure I could stomach being a Bears/Titans/Falcons fan through any of those hyper-exposed situations with these guys.

I believe my commentary on the Larry Johnson scenario included the term "minimal." I think you have to recognize the relativity of the term, there. Of course it will be the sticking point. This is where I feel like Carl Peterson's a very shrewd man, though. I'd guess he might be one of the best around at familiarity with the intricacies of the cap and of contracts. I don't pretend to understand them myself, but he seems to layer deals with years that may or may not happen, incentives, clauses, bonuses, etc. Obviously, so does every other GM, but the Chiefs have never gotten themselves in trouble in those neighborhoods, and athletes and agents have been outspoken through the years about how hard-headed that front office can be.

The rumor mill produced the speculation that, when Johnson was allegedly on the trading blocks, the Packers were interested but backed down when the Chiefs wanted 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-rounders in exchange. He may very well sign for $20 million. I think Peterson can pull the trigger on that kind of a deal, make it fit the cap and not shoot the Chiefs in the foot by having too long an expectancy out of Johnson producing numbers "worthy" of that money. Tying the two topics together would be behavior-related stipulations in his deal that might eliminate some of those guaranteed dollars; Johnson's slate isn't exactly spotless.

My question(s) for you is this: In any job market, employees and employers must always consider inflation/increase in cost of living, right? But that just applies to guys like you and I, doesn't it? I know, barring any slip-ups, that my boss at the juice factory will give me my annual fifty-cent raise, just like your seniority at the gas station will earn you yours. These guys aren't buying that extra gallon of milk a week, they're puttin' rims on their great grandkids' tricycles. At what point do we stop and say, "the cap, along with the salaries, are R-I-diculous?"

7: I think that, by and large, NFL players are intelligent and responsible. You have to be to succeed in a sport like football. Yes, these guys are young and rich and they sow their wild oats, but it seems as though the current disciplinary landscape has curtailed shenanigans this offseason--we'll see.

The Tanks and Adam Joneses, by contrast, are missing the self-control mechanism present in most NFLers (and most real people too). I'm no psychologist, but I watched a lot of Sopranos, and they have sociopathic tendencies. There's a big difference between wanting to go party and crossing the line to felonious behavior. And most guys who are faced with losing millions of dollars and a career they've worked a lifetime for will chill out. These maniacs have not. I still say brain-damaged.

My take on King Carl's track record of not crippling the Chiefs with bad contracts is this: Part of it is shrewdness (which he deserves credit for), part of it is luck. He gave Priest a big contract, and that could have sunk him when Priest got hurt, but it happened to coincide with the new TV contract and the cap going up by 40 per cent. Through sheer coincidence, Priest's deal became more cap-friendly relative to the rest of the NFL. As for the lunacy of what these guys make, I have long separated any real opinion about finances from my role as a sports fan. It is what it is. Larry Johnson is "worth" $20 million in guaranteed money because Arrowhead is packed every Sunday, because you spend a big chunk of your disposable income on gear and tickets, because you and all of your neighbors watch the games religiously and patronize the businesses that align themselves with the Chiefs. He's "worth" that money because I give my cash to Sunday Ticket, CBS Sportsline fantasy football, and I once bought a Jay-Z record. The NFL is a giant ATM with a seemingly bottomless bin of cash, and the finances work. This analogy is tired, but Tom Hanks gets $20 million for a movie, and if enough people see that movie he's "worth" that paycheck.

We've seen the downside of this pattern, which is the NHL. In the early days of this century, teams were handing out $10 million contracts to guys like Peter Forsberg and Jaromir Jagr. They were great players, but it was spectacularly irresponsible to give NFL-level money to stars of a sport without an NFL-level financial foundation. And it basically killed the NHL. Could it kill the NFL too? Of course, because the ATM is never really bottomless. But for now the money is there because we the fans put it there, and there's no end to that trend in sight. There were five games on the entire NFL schedule that were not sold out last year. Five. The Arizona Cardinals sold every game out last year, and this season they've done it again. I have zero problem with these guys making the money they make, it's the American way.

How about this: We thus far have paid what it costs to be an NFL fan. Would you still watch if the games went to pay-per-view at $20 a game? Would you go to the Broncos-Chiefs game if the tickets were $500 each? Would you support a new stadium if it raised your taxes by $3000 a year? What are your limits, not so much with your personal budget but when it comes to the principle of these owners/players digging deeper into your pockets?

B: Well said. All of it, really. Those are tough, tough questions. The idea of paying $20 per televised game rings with immediate irritation, the $500 ticket even more so, and the stadium thing is a bit far-fetched, not that it's unlikely, just that the premise would be getting into fractions and percentages and large numbers I can't wrap my head around. It might be interesting to calculate what percentage of our income we as fans spend on the NFL; if it was delivered in pie-chart form with varying colors, I'm sure I could justify spending some of that money. If things went to that extreme though, one might tinker with the idea of swapping out other compensation-package perks offered by an employer in exchange for season tickets or a pay-per-view package deal. It might be easier for the individual to stomach while simultaneously adding employee incentive to not show up hungover and work hard instead of surfing the Web for images of well-endowed women and essays by dudes blogging in their underwear.

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Baseball In The Daytime: 6-27-07

You'd best get yo ass to the liquor store and pick up some ice, because there's a six-pack of matinee baseball that needs cooling and consumption today. The variety pack includes a future Hall of Famer, a Japanese wunderkind and some intrigue in Anaheim. Salud!

Interestingly, five of the six day games on the slate feature teams gunning for a series sweep, and the teams on the wrong side of that possibility may surprise you.

Your leadoff hitter today is the Rangers-Tigers game from Comerica. Kevin Millwood brings his rickety repertoire and 4-6 record to the bump opposite Kenny Rogers, who won his season debut last week after lounging on the DL all spring. Rogers is also an accomplished country and western vocalist, championship chicken-roaster and maintains a salt-and-pepper beard like no one's business. And he gums up the baseball like Eddie Harris. Catch this game at 11:05 Mountain on XM 180 and DTV 734 (Extra Innings package only), as Texas amazingly goes for three straight against the AL Central co-leaders.

From the lavish indoor/outdoor baseball palace that is Miller Park, the Brewers and Astros renew acquaintances at 12:05 on XM 185 and DTV 735. Milwaukee is 7 1/2 up on the Cubs in the NL Central following two relatively easy wins over Houston. The 'Stros, now 13 games out, are pretty much playing out the string and artificially rigging Craig Biggio's chase for 3,000 hits. The annoying second baseman actually played last night and collected a single, leaving him three shy of the milestone. He'll once again grab a seat on the bench today, as Woody Williams (3-10) and Jeff Suppan (8-7) add to the storied legacy of crappy ex-Cardinal pitchers.

The Friendly Confines host the third chapter in what has been a pretty damn compelling Rockies-Cubs series at 12:20. Game One was an all-timer, chronicled here. Last night the Rockies once again rallied in the ninth, only to fall short. Colorado is now a game south of .500 for the first time since June 13 and six games out in the NL West. They'll send young Jason Hirsch to the hill today opposite Big Z, and this pitching matchup highlights one of the Rockies' biggest deficiencies--they lack a true stopper in the starting rotation. As their losing streak has now reached five games following their historic sweep of the Yanks, pitcher after pitcher has failed to set the team up for victory (last night Rodrigo Lopez's magic start came to a screeching halt with eight ugly earned runs). Your channels are 184 on the XM and WGN on the television.

Out West, the Padres and Giants tangle at 1:35 in one series that has yet to be decided. Greg Maddux (6-4) faces hard-luck Matt Cain (2-8) on XM 188 and DTV 737. San Diego is lingering a game out in the division, while San Francisco will host no meaningful games save for the All-Star Game the rest of the year. They stink.

The other 1:35 start is of great interest to at least a couple HoG denizens: Bankmeister's Royals have taken the first two over my cousin Brian's Los Californaheim Angeles and go for the sweep today behind Jorge De La Rosa (4-9). Jered Weaver is the scheduled starter for the Halos, but he's having some sort of medical issue where he can't swallow water (?). Even though Los Anaheim technically sent Joe Saunders down to Triple-A on Saturday, he's remained in Orange County just in case he's needed to spell Weaver. Tune in to this page-turner on XM 178 and DTV 736.

Finally, from the God damned beautiful city of Seattle, the Mariners attempt to finish off a whitewash of the Red Sox at 2:35. Boston made it close in the ninth last night but couldn't break the impenetrable wall of cheese that is Mariners closer J.J. Putz. Today they'll send Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-5) against some kid named Feierabend (1-2). I watch a lot of baseball and I've never encountered this young man, but I'm sure he'll throw a two-hit shutout. The M's streak coupled with the Angels skid has cut Los Anaheim's lead to seven, while the Red Sox maintain double-digit lead in the East. This gem gets the double barrel DirecTV treatment (731 in high-def, 738 in lo-fi) and the standard Red Sox XM slot (177).
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tradition Tuesday: Into the Great Wide (Out) Open

The Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs both have 11 wide receivers on their roster. Training camp is officially a month away as of today; it will be interesting to see which of these fine fellows make their respective clubs.

On the Rocky-Mountain side of the football, we can assume that, at very least, Javon Walker and Rod Smith are shoe-ins. One would imagine that David Kircus and Brandon Stokley are also in. Adding to that foursome, you have David Terrell and Quincy Morgan to total six route runners with substantial NFL experience.

Editor's Note: For the purposes of this post, we will leave tight ends out of the picture. For now.

That leaves five Denver Bronco pass catchers -- Brian Clark (second year out of NC State), Domenik Hixon (second year out of Akron), Brandon Marshall (second year out of Central Florida), Glenn Martinez (second year out of Saginaw Valley State), and Marquay McDaniel (rookie out of Hampton) -- that bring little to no experience to the practice field.

Of course, every team wants that perfect mix of veteran leadership, young raw talent, and the gleaming superstar in each facet of the roster.

Here's where Tradition Tuesday will veer slightly off course this week. It's officially up to you, blessed reading audience, to spark up the comment box discussion, and tell us HoG cronies which Bronco wide outs will still be on the roster when teams make the final/official 53-man listing available to the media. I challenge each of you to put together compelling statements (Cecil -- notice I said readers. You have other things to be working on).

Now, we'll talk about the good guys.

The Missouri River side of the pigskin looks like this: I imagine that Samie Parker, Eddie Kennison, and Jeff Webb will all make the squad. Add Rod Gardner to the mix in terms of experience. That leaves the Chiefs with these youngsters: Dwayne Bowe (rookie out of LSU), Brad Ekwerekwu (rookie out of MU), Chris Hannon (second year man out of Tennessee), Brent Little (rookie free agent out of Southern Illinois), Maurice Price (rookie out of Charleston Southern), Ean Randolph (rookie out of South Florida), and Titus Ryan (rookie out of Concordia).

While the receiving corps appear similar in the experience-to-fresh ratio, the Broncos do in fact have the slight edge. Nevertheless, it's up to you Chiefs fan(s) to break it down in the comment box, and give us your picks on who's still on this team come opening day.

Bronco fans will outnumber you in terms of total comments, but don't let that discern you. We can take solace in knowing that they must pay someone to type their thoughts for them.

Boys and boys, let's get it on! This means you, guy who hasn't commented because he's too lazy to register with Google. Get 'er done!

Prizes for the most well-written, accurate predictions for each roster will be rewarded when the season commences. Psst, Seven -- get that sticker machine fired up, Chief.
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Rockies/Cubs GameBlog 6-25-07

Bill Simmons calls it a Running Diary, some call it live-blogging, I call it "The Wife's at work, the Red Sox are on late and I already jerked off." Let's see how it goes.

PREGAME Through the magic of satellite television, I was able to watch the Rockies' pregame show even though the Extra Innings broadcast is the Cubs' feed. I've been meaning to say it for a while, the Rockies' studio crew is fucking out of control. They act as if they're covering the best team in baseball history. Every win is a precursor to the World Series, and every loss an abomination of bad umpiring. Guys. Settle down. You're having a nice season, and the playoffs are certainly within reach, but with every outlandish statement you only hurt your credibility with actual baseball fans.

Case in point: Host Tim Ring claims that in the last two months Jeff Francis has been the most dominant pitcher in baseball. I'd have to do a little research, but this is certainly not true. Then sidekick Jeff Huson asserted that Francis is among the best lefthanders in baseball. Now this is open ended, but I could list at least a dozen better. Francis is a very good pitcher, and he's been putting the Rockies in a position to win every single night, but come on.

Let's play some ball, shall we?

1ST INNING The wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field, so we can expect some offensive fireworks. Bob Brenly is the color man, working with some nondescript play-by-play guy on Comcast. Brenly is a joke. Mark Grace should have this job, or at the very least it should still be in the hands of Steve Stone.

The Rockies' lineup really is impressive. The middle four of Holliday, Helton, Atkins and Hawpe is particularly nasty, especially now that Atkins is seeing and squaring up on the ball. Even though they were nearly no-hit yesterday and swept in Toronto, this young club can really swing it.

After Taveras strikes out, Matsui singles and steals second on Rob Bowen, the new catcher acquired in the Barrett deal. Holliday singles and Helton walks, meaning the three Rox on my fantasy team have reached. Atkins immediately grounds into a double play to end the inning.

In the Cubs half, Soriano leads off and flies out. Fontenot legs out an infield hit/Kaz Matsui error (I never noticed what the official scorer decided) but is picked off first in short order. Then, with two outs, the Cubs sequence goes single, single, single to score Lee, three-run homer off the bat of Angel Pagan. All off of Jeff Francis, the most dominant pitcher in baseball and the best lefthander in the history of the sport. Bowen whiffed to end the inning. Cubs 4, Rockies 1.

2ND INNING In the top half, Jason Marquis reaches his 1000th inning pitched in the bigs. Congratulations. Just for kicks I looked up his career stats, which yielded a 61-56 record, 4.44 ERA and 602 strikeouts. For that he got a three-year, $21 million contract. His lifetime numbers are similar to Ted Lilly, Gil Meche, Jake Westbrook and Joel Piniero, who signed for a combined $120 million last winter. If you think I'm not making my kid pitch until his arm falls off you're nuts.

The Cubs went 1-2-3 in the bottom half, so let's examine the uniforms. The Cubs wear the classic white pinstripes. I'm glad they put names back on. Look, some jerseys can pull off the no-name look, such as the Yankees and the Red Sox home threads. But when teams artificially take the names off, like the Cubs or the Dodgers a couple years back, it feels fake. Anyway, the Rockies are, as always, among the worst-dressed teams in baseball. Their latest disaster is the black vests over black t-shirts. Guh. At least they don't have a giant purple dinosaur as a mascot. Still 4-1 home team.

3RD INNING Now we're settling into a groove, and Francis actually does look like Walter Johnson--Jeff Huson, I stand corrected. We now have the Cubs' directer of public something blathering about his promotion to let average Joes sing during the seventh inning stretch. This is brutal, and I'm going to walk the dog and drink beer out of paper bag. It actually works great, as I can consume an open container of alcohol in public and pick up the inevitable shit. My neighbors love me.

4TH INNING Somehow it's 5-1, and through the magic of TiVo I discover that it was a result of a DeRosa groundout. I know you've heard it a million times, but TiVo really is the greatest. If you consider yourself a sports fan, you have to have it, along with HD, widescreen, hi-speed Interwebs, XM radio, and the football, baseball and SportsPak packages on DirecTV. It's only money, you sissies. If you're relying on ESPN to filter and deliver your sports information you are behind the times, my friend. It's an on-demand world.

The AFLAC trivia question is: Who was the first Rockie to win a major postseason award? Easy, Larry Walker in '97, MVP. Now give me my money. If you were wondering how the dog's shit went, it was a little runny for the paper bag. Luckily today was trash day and I could get the mess off my hands in a hurry, then wipe off with a diaper from the gutter. These are the things you do if you love your pets.

The AFLAC trivia answer is: Don Baylor? '95 Manager of the Year? That's fucked. Manager of the Year is a ridiculous award. All it means is you took a team none of the writers thought was any good to the playoffs. That, to me, is indicative of the fact that the writers don't know what they're talking about. And we hand out an award for that? I'm just bitter because I only hit that AFLAC trivia question once a year, and I thought I nailed that one. Fuck the duck.

5TH INNING In the midst of Marquis mowing down the Rox 1-2-3, Kaz Matsui strikes out. Have you ever looked at his stats from Japan? They're amazing, when you consider what he's done in MLB. His last five years with Seibu, his averages were .330-.322-.308-.332-.305 and his home runs 15-23-24-36-33 (he's hit fifteen total in five years stateside). I'll go ahead and start the rumor that Matsui was on the Japanese BALCO, just for fun.

He also eats lightning and shits thunder.

That Southwest Airlines commercial where the guy throws a cinder block at the window of a car that's not his is in the Commercial Hall Of Fame. I don't care if the director was on steroids or it was made using CGI. Hall of Fame.

DeRosa delivers another RBI on a groundout, and Walter Johnson has yielded six runs to the Cubs. I'm sure FSR will say that home plate umpire Ron Kulpa was squeezing him.

6TH INNING Todd Helton skies a ball to left, a routine fly that Soriano nearly turns into a triple. I don't care what anyone says, Soriano is a horrible defensive ballplayer at any position. He's also a hot-dogging dick who puts his teammates at risk with his post-HR shenanigans. And he's overpaid by about $50 million. Other than that, great guy.

The Rockies load the bases with a Torrealba single, and Atkins is held at third. The Cubs' play-by-play guy trumpets Soriano's laser rocket arm as the reason, and goes on and on about Alfonso's outfield assists from the last couple years. This is a bullshit stat. Manny Ramirez is always among the AL leaders in outfield assists, but that's only because everyone thinks he's the worst defensive leftfielder in the game and runs on him. Ditto with Soriano. He does have a gun, but he's still lousy. Ryan Spilborghs singles home a couple runs, and we've got a ball game. Lou brings in Wuertz to pitch, and he induces a ground ball to stop the bleeding. 6-3 home team.

7TH INNING The Red Sox game just started, and I'm in a pickle. No worries, as I go to the Game Mix channel--eight contests at once. I can see Cubs-Rockies (lefty Tom Marten takes the mound for the Rox) and the first pitch of Boston-Seattle. As a bonus, the audio is none other than Vin Scully, calling the Dodgers-D'Bags game. The contrast to Brenly and this other a-hole is stunning.

The downside to my viewing strategy, of course, is that I miss almost everything that goes on in the game I'm live-blogging. Marten just balked Theriot to second, and now the Cubs' baserunner is on third following a grounder to short. I can't even remember the last time I saw a balk. It's like the Loch Ness Monster--I've heard of it, and I've seen grainy evidence, but I'm not sure it actually exists. Fontenot singles in Theriot to make it 7-3, and we're reminded for the fortieth time that Fontenot, Theriot and Hawpe all played on LSU's College World Series championship team a few years back. I get it.

By the way, congrats to Oregon state for defending their Omaha title. If I knew a single person that matriculated at OSU I'd call 'em up, but I don't.

Our Red Tank Top count for the night sits at seven, but that number may be inaccurate. There's a smokin' hot brunette sitting about five rows back in Section 25 that shows up every time a lefthander bats. Just to refresh, the Legend of the Red Tank Top was born in the bleachers of Coors Field on blazing-hot summer day, during one of these Rockies-Cubs games. Sitting three rows in front of us were a couple of stacked young ladies wearing, well, you can guess. We were drunk, and their boyfriends were not happy, but hey, 2 on 25 is not good odds. They took it like Bobby Knight would have wanted. Cubs broadcasts are well-known for their gratuitous Hot Chick shots. Arne Harris has no shame whatsoever.

Back to the action, the Rockies have something cooking here. Back-to-back walks by Wuertz have chased him and brought Scott Eyre into the fracas to face Hawpe. Eyre sits him down with a 3-2 fastball and there goes the rally.

Our Seventh Inning Stretch brings us "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" sung by, guh, Patrick Kane. He's the No. 1 pick of the NHL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. Naturally, he botches the lyrics, and if I were President this would be the last straw. We're pulling the military out of the Middle East and invading Canada.

Afterward, they interview this jackass, who turns out to be just as big an idiot as every other 18-year-old millionaire you've ever seen. They showed his ceremonial first pitch, where he shook off the catcher and sailed a throw wide, all while wearing Lindros' 88. By the way, it turns out the kid's from Buffalo, but I don't care. We're still going to war.

8TH INNING Sorry about the delay, asshole, but my stolen wireless Web-coms from across the street took a hiatus. The eighth was uneventful, so let me disclose that Craig Biggio took a seat tonight. Biggio is four hits shy of 3,000, and he'll almost certainly ride the pine until his team returns home from Milwaukee. Bullshit. Craig Biggio is now out of my Hall Of Fame. Fontenot doubles in Theriot ("Did you know they were college teammates, Bob?"), 8-3 Cubs.

TOP OF THE 9TH Scott Eyre came in to a jam in the seventh, then cruised through the eighth. Brenly and The A-Hole have been yipping about how important this game is for Eyre, who's been a gas can of late. Lou leaves him in to close it out, and here's how it goes:

Matsui single. Holliday walk. Helton double, Matsui scores. Howry in for Eyre. Atkins singles, Holliday scores. Hawpe singles, Helton scores. Tulowitzki homers, Atkins and Hawpe score. The Rockies lead 9-8, and the Cubs have yet to record an out. Howry eventually extracts himself, but I'm leery of these developments. It was only Friday that Tulowitzki homered in the top of the 10th in Toronto to give the Rockies an 8-6 lead, only to see the Rox blow it in the bottom.

BOTTOM OF THE 9TH Brian Fuentes comes in for Colorado, essentially negating Lou's lefthanded bench power (Cliff Floyd, etc.). DeRosa leads off with a bloop single, and Pie runs for him. Pagan whiffs, Bowen grounds into a fielder's choice, and then Koye Hill laces a long single into left. The outfield basically had ivy up their asses, and Holliday cut the ball off and held Bowen the catcher at second. With two outs, Theriot's grounder is booted by Matsui, and the bases are loaded with two outs for Soriano.

First pitch, single to center. Jacque Jones, running for Bowen, and Hill score, and the Cubs win! Cubs win! What a game. I seriously thought I'd picked the worst game of the year to live-blog, and it turned out to be one of the best. Tough luck for the Rockies, who've now lost four in a row after sweeping the Yankees.

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Up in the Nosebleeds: Soccer is for Hooligans

Welcome back to Up In the Nosebleeds, the semi-regular, soon-to-be-forgotten feature on the HoG. We’ll give some attention to obscure, niche sports that get pushed aside by the mainstream, like competitive bass fishing, cow tipping and racing.

Think Cheap Seats, only not on ESPN Classic and without the twin brothers who bone each other.

In this edition of UitN, we'll have a look at futbol, or, as we ignorant Americans call it, soccer. A couple of noteworthy items happened over the weekend in the mighty world of soccer.

First, at Soldier Field, Tank Johnson Googled the unemployment office team U.S.A. gave American chefs ammo for their cooks and dishdogs all over the country by knocking off Mexico 2-1 in the Gold Cup final. In case you didn't know, the Gold Cup is the championship tournament for North and Central America and the Caribbean. It was exciting. Landon Donovan was there,

as were many sharply painted dressed fans.

In Major League Soccer play, the defending MLS Cup champion Houton Dynamo staved off the feisty Eddie Johnson and the Kansas City Wizards, allowing the New England Revolution to somewhat solidify its Eastern Conference lead over the New York Red Bulls (not a typo) and Kansas City, while Houston gained some ground on Dallas in the West.

Finally, fan and media voting for the 2007 MLS All-Star game closed today. The contest will pit the MLS All-Stars against the Scottish Premier League Champions Celtic FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado,

a measty matchup not to be missed, as Colorado is home to only intelligent fans, hot slender women, and honest-to-goodness athletic competition.

That's it for this installment of Up in the Nosebleeds. We'll now open the comment box for you hoardes of mad, raving soccer fans to show us how all things soccer really done.

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One Man's All-Star Ballot

First off, allow me to state that All-Star voting is ridiculous. The most popular teams get all their players in, good guys get screwed every year, and the mandatory representative from every team is problematic at best. Tying the result of this game to World Series home field is still the most asinine decision made by a sport in my lifetime. And the game itself has slipped noticeably in quality over the last decade.

Still, I love the MLB All-Star Game. I am always riveted by the rosters, the pregame announcements, and the managerial decisions within the game. It's one cool thing from my childhood that's still relatively pure. I try to vote every year, even if it means that I get thousand of junk marketing e-mails as a result of doing it online. Here are my selections:


1B I'm taking Big Papi, and if you don't like it you can lick the sweat off the large man's large balls. I know he's not a first baseman, but he does fine there when asked. Alls I know is that a lineup with Ortiz in it is infinitely better than one with Morneau or Teixeira. Sorry.

2B Brian Roberts is a surprisingly clear-cut choice. Although Ian Kinsler has 14 jacks he's hitting .243. Placido Polanco has a .333 average but no power, and although Robinson Cano has straightened out his season he's nowhere near Roberts (.324-4-22-24 steals).

3B Alex Rodriguez is one of three no-doubt no-brainers on the ballot (along with Chase Utley and Russ Martin). So of course I went with Mike Lowell. I'll never be able to punch a ballot with this guy on it.

SS Carlos Guillen is killing it, and gets the nod over Orlando Cabrera and Jeter.

C I'm perfectly willing to sacrifice defense for hitting stats at most positions, but these teams need decent leather up the middle. So although Victor Martinez is far and away the best hitter at the position and Jorge Posada is raking at a .341 clip, I'm taking Kenji Johjima. He's quietly putting together a nice all-around season and is a big reason the Mariners are not putrid this year.

OF Normally I am of the opinion that Ichiro, Vlad Guerrero and Manny Ramirez are the default candidates for the AL outfield, unless either one of them is hurt/slumping or someone else is clearly deserving. Magglio Ordonez is definitely in the latter category, and he bumps Manny from the ballot. Although he's turned it around in '07, I think we need to finally accept the fact that Manny has reached the downside of his prime and is no longer the .330-40-140 monster we had come to expect.


1B You have to reward the season that Prince Fielder and the Brewers are having. I'm sorry, Mr. Pujols. This doesn't mean you don't get into the Hall of Fame.

2B If you voted for anyone other than Chase Utley you have serious issues.

3B Miguel Cabrera keeps putting up huge stats and gets the nod over such badasses as David Wright and Aramis Ramirez. I love Wright and he can slot into more spots in a loaded lineup, but the NL needs Cabrera's power here.

SS Although Hanley Ramirez is awesome and the poor man's Jose Reyes, I opted for the actual Jose Reyes. Call me crazy. Jimmy Rollins will make the club too. Good group.

C Just like second base, there is no decision here. Russ Martin is the only acceptable choice.

OF Here is where the NL displays its inferiority the most. The junior varsity for the AL is better than the starting options of the Senior Circuit. Matt Holliday is having an MVP-caliber season and gets a spot. Soriano, while not yet playing up to his contract, deserves inclusion (and will be forced to play center, which is potential comedy gold). The third position, I'm sorry, goes to Barry Bonds. Barry gets my vote not because he's at home and not because he's about to pass Aaron (although both of those are good enough reasons for me) but because he's honestly the third-best outfield bat in his league. Just missing are Carlos Lee, Griffey and Eric Byrnes. And tell me how the NL can win this game subbing in those three, while the AL brings Manny, Sheffield and Sizemore off the bench. Good luck. Feel free to disparage my selections in the Comments.
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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Name's Roy. Roy F. Almania

Editor's Note: This post was put together by the cousin of yours truly. I can't vouch for him; he lives in Joplin, Missouri, was home-schooled (still lives with my aunt and uncle who, by the way, vacation in Arkansas every year), has never been west of Kansas City or north of Omaha or east of Jefferson City, and I'd imagine the only form, if any, of sex he's ever had probably shares some strains of DNA with the both of us.

That said, he lives and dies with the Kansas City Royals, and I've given him the keys to the House so that he may voice what one might call bumpkin fandom of said ball club. We'll see how it goes.

The man pictured here has more power over my mind than my mama, my pops, and the Playboy channel combined. He sometimes appears in my dreams, he's frequently mentioned in my sports page, and he has offered me something I ain't had in some time: hope.

There's been lots I've wanted to say about the Kansas City Royals under his now one-year-old tenure. He's gotten the Glass family to increase payroll, shuffled staff and personnel in ways that caused folks to chuckle and look at one another funny, and, perhaps most surprising, he's kept the skipper aboard.

I couldn't very well let this weekend's failed trade go unmentioned, though. Especially after the Royals put together a great stretch of inter-league play. Trouble is, they've now lost four in a row, and Royals' GM Dayton Moore must've figured he was fed up.

In typical trade-like fashion, secrecies were swirling, and the trigger was almost pulled on a deal that would've sent Royals pitcher Leo Nunez to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Milton Bradley. Turns out, safety was on; Moore didn't fire. Fox Sports talks about it here. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on it, and of course, The Kansas City Star's Joe Posnanski had something to say about it.

Check out each of these accounts in that order. They're brief enough, and I like to think Posnanski's take on Moore's as soothing as the smell of apple pie cooling in the window of mama's kitchen. I especially like "Reason No. 3" where Posnanski writes about Moore being fed up with all them Ls.

"And it seems to me that hits closest to home. The talk about plans is all well
and good. It's wise to have a long-term philosophy. But at some point, I think,
human nature kicks in. Dayton Moore has seen enough losing. He's heard too many
excuses. He wanted to make it clear to everybody that he's mad as heck and he's
not going to take it anymore."

I reckon the only thing I can rightfully say about Milton Bradley is that my folks got me lots of toys with that name on it when I was a kid. Lest, I find it funny there's a ball player called that. As you can imagine, I found it funny (albeit a waste of fine adult beverage) when the guy chucked that bottle back at the fan a few years ago.

Anyhow, June's been a peculiar month for us Royals fans, and word is that Bradley himself told the Royals he wasn't healthy, and the Royals backed out. Doesn't really matter to me whether or not Bradley was healthy, and just didn't want to play for Kansas City, or if he was telling the truth. What's important is that Moore continues to have the feelers out there that search for pieces that will help the Royals steer themselves back towards the winning avenue.

My guess is that the second half of the season will be a busy one for the Royals' front office. I'll have my eye on Moore's future moves and mix-ups.

--Roy F. Almania

Editor's Update: In the bottom of the fifth, the Royals, playing game three of three against the Brew Crew, are well on their way to a series sweep. While usually having decent pitching and bad hitting or vice-versa, the Royals have managed to throw crap from the hill and swing with anvil-laden bats while in Wisconsin. Awesome.

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