Friday, October 24, 2014

Important Public Service Announcement

We interrupt your daily Friday to bring you an important public service announcement.

Something to remember as we head into flu season: when you sneeze, PLEASE DO SO INTO YOUR ELBOW AND NOT YOUR HAND. I do not want your sneeze-filled hands coming in contact with anything that I might then touch.

This PSA is brought to you by Common Sense. Common Sense: much less common than the Common Cold. Probably because people sneeze into their hands.

Friday, October 10, 2014

In Jeff Driskel We (have no choice but to) Trust

Last Saturday at around 3 pm ET, Gator Nation was excited about our new quarterback.

Last Monday at around 11 am ET, Gator Nation was disappointed in our new quarterback.

Today at around 3 pm ET, Gator Nation received news that our new quarterback will soon be our new quarterback again.

Tomorrow at around 7:30 pm ET, despite the news we received Friday at around 2pm ET, Gator Nation will cheer (hopefully) our old quarterback.

With Treon Harris and a fight over shoes dominating the Gators’ headlines this week, Saturday’s game against LSU has fallen on the way side.

Tomorrow night, the quarterback we thought we were done with is back, and it’s a little awkward, because we’re all, “hey Jeff, we said some not so nice things about you, but no hard feelings, right? Do great on Saturday!” and he’s all, “man I really didn’t think I would be starting anytime soon after my last two performances, but sure why not hopefully I’ll play well on Saturday.”

I think we need to remember a few things about Jeff Driskel: 1) he was the top overall quarterback in high school; 2) he was originally recruited by Urban Meyer; 3) he has not noticeably improved from his freshman year, but 4) he also is on his third OC in four seasons.

Oh and 5) he played well in the first two games of the season, both at home, including a career performance in a win over a Kentucky team that defeated South Carolina last week.

Also 6) he had receivers drop multiple passes against both Bama and UT. Hey Demarcus Robinson: if you’re going to tweet that you want the Gators to bench the starting quarterback, you better catch EVERY SINGLE BALL that comes into your vicinity.

And not for nothing, but if you’re a Gators fan and you were disappointed that the Gators beat Tennessee because it meant that Muschamp wouldn’t be fired, then you’re not a Gators fan. That’s just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. And to compare Muschamp to a coach who sent a concussed player back into a game is just lazy and troll…-ey.

So to recap: yes, Driskel has stunk the last two games, and yes, the offense has stunk with Driskel the last two games, and yes, he needs to show us that he’s the quarterback who played well against Eastern Michigan and Kentucky (both at home, BTW) and not the one who played terribly against Alabama and Tennessee (both on the road, BTW). But we, as fans, need to support him and cheer him on and cheer on the team.

And if he stinks again this week (frantically knocking on wood), then in Treon We Trust.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sports Illustrated's Don Banks is a Pretentious Jerk

On Friday, I unfollowed Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks on twitter. If you follow him, you should do the same, because he’s a pretentious youknowwhat.

During Roger Goodell’s press conference on Friday, Howard Stern Show staffer Benjy Bronk crashed the party and caused a minor hiccup in what was otherwise a pretty boring and pointless ordeal.

After the disturbance, here is the tweet Don Banks put out:

Ignoring the fact that the Howard Stern show is listened to, not watched, take a minute to consider all the pretentious in that tweet.

Don Banks is “proud” that he isn’t a Howard Stern fan. What does that even mean? Were people forcing him to listen to Howard Stern against his will, but he bravely fought them off? Has he been criticized for not listening to Howard Stern? Has he been held back in any way because people found out he wasn’t a Howard Stern fan?

What it means is that Don Banks thinks he’s better than Howard Stern fans. To him, the fact that he is not a Stern fan means he is a superior human being to those of us who are.

Is Don Banks “proud” of popular TV shows that he doesn’t watch? Is he “proud” when he doesn’t read certain best-selling books? Should he be “proud” when a movie makes millions at the box office and he decides not to go see it?

I’m a Howard Stern fan. Stern entertains millions of people every day, even when he’s not live (which is much more than Don Banks can ever claim). However, I get that Stern is not for everyone. To each his or her own. I certainly don’t think I’m better than anyone else because of what I enjoy.

The fact that Don Banks does makes me proud to say that I won’t read his articles. Ever.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ode To Puffy

When Shannon (my wife) and I started dating, one thing we enjoyed doing together was to visit PetSmart to look at the cats that were up for adoption. Early in our relationship, we were in PetSmart and an ad for a cat caught our eye. This cat was beautiful. Grey and white, very furry, big green eyes; we were smitten. I called the number listed and left a message, telling them we were interested in adopting. I never heard back, so we assumed someone had beaten us to it. A few months later, however, we saw the same ad again, so I called again, got in touch with the person, and Puffin came into our lives. 

 One of the first things we were going to do was change her name, because “Puffin” seemed silly to us. We quickly discovered that Puffin was in fact perfect for her, because she was as puffy as they come. Just a tiny ball of fur. It didn’t take us long to fall in love with her name, and even less time to fall in love with her.

Before we brought her into our home, we researched how best to acclimate a cat to a new environment. We read online that it was best to give them a small room to themselves, before giving them run of the house. We put her in a tiny office, and of course went in every five minutes to check up on her, so it made very little sense why all of a sudden we couldn’t find her. We hadn’t seen her come out, but we didn’t see her in the office, so we assumed she must have gotten out somehow. I’m pretty sure we were all set to go outside and start looking for her when on a whim we decided to pull open one of the desk drawers. Sure enough, there she was, looking up at us and meowing because we had apparently disturbed her.

That was 11 years ago, and since that time she has been a constant presence in our household. She was only eight pounds, but she was everywhere, and now that she’s gone our house is a much lonelier, quieter place. Puffin passed away on Friday due to something called FIP, which came on suddenly and took her away from us. Three weeks ago she seemed fine. Now, she’s gone and we’re having a hard time coming to grips with that fact.

Puffin loved attention, but many times she also loved getting attention on her own terms. She would come to you for pets, but then walk away and expect you to follow her to continue petting her. She always hid when people came over, but she loved being the center of attention so it was only a matter of time before she came out and planted herself in a place where we could all see her, even if she wouldn’t let anyone (but us) pet her. Eventually she became more comfortable and would let visitors pet her, but she would also walk away to make them work to pet her.

Puffin sometimes slept with us, but usually she would just appear after the alarms first started going
off. If she wasn’t in the bedroom when I got out of bed, she would inevitably appear when I went into the bathroom to get ready for work. She loved jumping into the shower after I got out (sometimes, before I got out, giving me a loud “meow” to let me know that I was taking too long to exit). During the winter she would climb under the covers and cuddle with us, and many mornings we would wake up to find her either a) sleeping on top of one of us or 2) sleeping on top of our pillow, right next to our head.

Whenever I was eating on the couch in our den, she would put her front paws on my leg and duck her head underneath my arm, and no amount of pushing her away would get her to leave. She loved to roll around on the floor (probably to get our attention) and also loved to scratch carpets and furniture (also, probably to get our attention). She was perfect in every way, and we loved her.

There are no shortage of cute stories that we can tell about Puffin (and if you’ve hung out with us, you’ve probably heard all of them, multiple times). We were definitely that annoying couple who incessantly told stories about their pets. But in our defense, our pets are like our kids. Puffin was family to us. She was our first shared responsibility as a couple, one sign among many that our relationship was forever. It’s a strange sensation to know that she’s no longer around.

I don’t feel sad for Puffin. She was very sick and miserable and I know she’s better off now. Selfishly, I feel sad for Shannon and me, who will never be able to see Puffin again. She’ll never again greet us when we wake up, or when we get home. She’ll never again smack our dog across his nose, which she did numerous times, although she never used her claws. We’ll never see her again basking in the sunlight in one of the upstairs rooms, looking serene and beautiful and cozy.

Last Friday morning she seemed very off. She was wobbling when she walked and every movement seemed to cause her pain. Before we went to work, she was in our hallway, lying on her side with her eyes wide open. Both Shan and I, separately, told her that if she had to leave then she should go. We discussed during the day what we should do, and we decided that we should see how she was doing when we got home, but we both knew that we were going to have to take her to the vet to put her to sleep. In pure Puffin fashion, she did things on her own time, and she left us before we got back home.

Time heals most all wounds, and I know eventually we’ll move on and she’ll become a pleasant memory rather than a painful wound. But right now I don’t want to move on, because moving on means she’s really gone and I don’t want to accept that fact. Puffin was only eight pounds, but she was pure presence, and without her our house seems emptier. The only consolation I can take is that she loved us, and we loved her, and because she is in our hearts, she will never truly leave.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hey Look, an Offense! (takeaways from the Gators' week 1.5 win)

A few takeaways from the Gators’ 65-0 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday…

Hey Look, An Offense!
Apparently the third offensive coordinator was the charm. For the first time since Pope Urban, the Gators offense looked like an actual offense. Wide receivers (remember them?) running good routes, getting open and making tough catches. Offensive line opening holes for running backs, who ran with abandon. Not one but two quarterbacks making big plays…with their arms, not their legs, which is not something we have become accustomed to seeing the past two years. Florida had its highest scoring output since 2008, most total yards since 2010 and most pass completions and attempts since 2002. Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, THEY LOOKED LIKE AN ACTUAL OFFENSE. It was really fun to watch. Yes, it was Eastern Michigan, but this is what teams like Florida are supposed to do to teams like EMU.

What I’d Like To See The Gators Do
Approximately 10 years ago, Andre Debose came out of high school as the next (Mercy) Percy Harvin. Debose was going to play at receiver, running back, kick returner, wild cat quarterback…you name it, he was going to be the guy at it. Now that he’s back from injury (knock on wood), I’d like to see him used more in that Percy role. If the coaches are worried about durability, which is fair, just use him as a decoy – much like Seattle did with Percy on "the constraint" play here (towards bottom of the page). It could be that Kurt Roper has plays like that in his back pocket but didn’t want to show his cards in a game the Gators won 65-0, which is also fair, but I’d like to see Debose used more than just a wide receiver/kick returner, because he is electrifying with the ball in his hands.

OK, But Why?
There are just two SEC conference games this weekend: No. 6 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina and Kentucky at Florida. So of course, SEC Nation (ESPN SEC Network’s version of ESPN’s College Gameday), will do its show from…Columbia, S.C. Gainesville, Fla.! OK, but why? The answer is fairly simple: Georgia at USC is on CBS, Kentucky at Florida is on SEC Network. Seems like a strange policy to me too, but whatever. Hopefully they show the Gator Walk!

Monday, September 8, 2014

NFL: Not For Ladies

In a word, the recently released Ray Rice recording is…disturbing.

Alliteration aside (sorry, last time), watching Rice punch his then fiancĂ© (now wife) unconscious is really, really tough to watch. (I won't link to it, but if you really want to see it just consult your local google.) 

I don’t know if it’s the punch that knocked her out, or if it was when her head hit the side of the elevator wall, but it doesn’t matter. What Rice did was awful. Which makes the NFL’s (read: Roger Goodell) and Ravens’ responses at the time (two-game suspension and public support, respectively) look even worse in hindsight. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but most people thought it looked pretty bad at the time.

I had read about this other video that showed Rice knocking out his now wife back when the original video was released, so I have a hard time believing that the NFL and Ravens had not seen it. I’m a nobody who wasn’t involved with the situation at all, but somehow I had information that the NFL and the Ravens did not have? At the very least, they must have heard about the video, so why didn’t they do everything in their power to get their hands on it before making a decision about Rice’s future in the NFL? Now they've put themselves in a situation where they have no choice but to say that they hadn’t seen the video.

Because if either or both parties had seen the video in question and still only gave him a two-game suspension (NFL) or supported him publicly (Ravens), “disturbing” wouldn’t even begin to describe it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My AFC Gues- I Mean, Predictions

Here are my AFC predictions. They too are probably wrong. (click here for my NFC predictions)

AFC East
Patriots: Too easy.
Dolphins: Won’t make the playoffs but will be the second-best team in the division. Because…why not?
Jets: Time to let go of the Michael Vick dog scandal. Man did his time. At a certain point, we have to move on. HAHAHAHAHAHA who am I kidding these are human beings I’m talking about!
Bills: Buffalo is Livin on a Prayer, hoping to give fans Another Reason to Believe, but in the end the team will go down in a Blaze of Glory.

AFC North
Steelers: Mike Tomlin might not be the best coach in the NFL, but he’s still the coolest.
Ravens: Remind me again why you let Anquan Boldin go?
Bengals: Won the Division last year despite finishing with second-best divisional record. No more Jay Gruden, no more Mike Zimmer, no more first-place in AFC North.
Browns: I don’t know if it’s true, but my favorite story about Cleveland is the guy who wrote into his will that he wanted some Browns players to carry his casket so that they could let him down one last time. That. Is. Brilliant. I will not google it because I want to believe it’s true.

AFC South
Colts: Return of Reggie Wayne, plus Hakeem Nicks, plus Andrew Luck...that offense is going to be stacked. You’ll notice I didn’t mention Trent Richardson.
Texans: If only because it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch Watt and Clowney terrorize offensive lines and quarterbacks. At least quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick knows that his backup is a rookie former Rutgers QB who…what’s that you say? Houston head coach Bill O’Brien brought in Ryan Mallett, whom he worked with in New England, and Mallett is now the No. 2 QB? Oh.
Titans: Chris Johnson might be addition by subtraction.
Jaguars: Blake Bortles will be starting quarterback by week three. You heard it hear…not first. Buncha people have said that already.

AFC West
Broncos: Welker out four games means the offense will hum along at 99% capacity. Which is still 100% better than pretty much all other offenses.
Chargers: QB Class of 2004 will have a bounce back year. Not J.P Losman, Matt Schaub, Luke McCown, Craig Krenzel, Andy Hall, Josh Harris, Jim Sorgi, Jeff Smoker, John Navarre, Cody Pickett, Casey Bramlet, Matt Mauck, B.J. Symons or Bradlee Van Pelt. The other three guys.
Chiefs: Going out on a limb – Andy Reid will pull an Andy Reid and not live up to expectations. Ok, not going out on that much of a limb. They’ll still make the playoffs though.
Raiders: Here are the top five quarterbacks taken in last year’s NFL Draft: Blake Bortles (3rd overall), Johnny Manziel (22nd), Teddy Bridgewater (32nd), Derek Carr (36th), Jimmy Garoppolo (62nd). Raise your hand if you thought that Carr would be the only rookie QB to be named starter. Put your hand down, David.

Six playoff teams: Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs

AFC Championship: Broncos-Patriots (Let’s be honest, if we don’t get this game, we’ll all be a little disappointed. Make it happen, football god Roger Goodell!!)

AFC Champions: Patriots

My NFC Gues- I Mean, Predictions

-->Here are my NFC predictions. They're probably wrong. (click here for my AFC predictions)

NFC East
Eagles: Want to send a Philly phan to a dark place? Remind them that Mark Sanchez is the backup QB.
Giants: Tom Coughlin’s incredulous face is already in midseason form.
Cowboys: Dallas has gone 8-8 each of the past three seasons. Their biggest splash signing this offseason was to the practice squad.
Washingtons: I’m jumping on the bandwagon to not use the R-word, because it is racist and insulting and it’s also fun to watch the Fighting Dan Snyders try to argue against common sense and public perception.

NFC North
Packers: Aaron Rodgers is dating Olivia Munn, but I’ve been told that he looks like me, so I guess you’re saying there’s a chance! (There isn’t.)
Bears: The Florida Gators are still waiting for the thanks they deserve for making Jay Cutler’s career. Any time now, Jay.
Lions: Mr. Expressive Jim Caldwell is now the Lions head coach. I’m not saying the team will do well, but at least it’ll be fun to watch him on the sidelines!
Vikings: Adrian Peterson already wants out. To the Cowboys. That’s gotta sting Minnesota fans, who still haven’t gotten over that Herschel Walker fleecing trade.

NFC South
Saints: New Orleans was 8-0 at home last year, 3-5 on the road. The Saints averaged 103.5 yards per game at home and 80.6 yards per game on the road. So they are set up perfectly to NOT win the Super Bowl.
Falcons: I’m going out on a limb and saying that last year’s 4-12 record was an aberration, because Steven Jackson is now (kinda) healthy and Julio Jones is now (kinda) healthy and the Panthers aren’t going to match last year’s 12-4 record and…shoot I think I’m wrong here.
Panthers: Carolina will probably finish second in the NFC South, but I gotta go with my first instinct so I’m leaving them in this spot. Also, how good was Cam Newton with the Gators? Sigh.
Bucs: It was nice of Greg Schiano to set the bar so low for Lovie Smith that even five wins is an improvement from last year.

NFC West
Seahawks: It’s hard to root against Pete Carroll. It really, really is.
49ers: It’s easy to root against Jim Harbaugh. It really, really is.
Cardinals: Making the playoffs not on the DOCKETT for Arizona this year (see what I did there?).
Rams: Bummed me out that Michael Sam didn’t get signed at least to St. Louis’ practice squad, but I’m happy that he got picked up by another team. And that’s all there is to say about the Rams.

Six playoff teams: Eagles, Packers, Bears, Saints, Seahawks, 49ers

NFC Championship: Packers-Seahawks

NFC Champion: Seahawks (Skittles for everyone!)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gator Nation's Best and Worst of Times

Something I heard Greg Schiano say once that has always stayed with me: you’re never as good as your best game, nor are you as bad as your worst game.

Nothing exemplifies this statement more than the Florida Gators football team of the past two years. Will Muschamp’s best year, in 2012, saw the Gators go 11-2. His worst year, 2013, saw UF finish 4-8.

So which is it? What team is the real Florida Gators? Are they the 11-2 squad that was a national championship contender, or the 4-8 team that saw many calling for Muschamp to be fired? If we look at the team from the vantage point of Schiano’s statement, we’ll see that the answer is, in fact, neither.

For all the good Urban Meyer did for Florida – two national championships are nothing to sneeze at – what he didn’t do is still affecting the team to this day; namely, to bring in depth and talent on the offensive side of the ball, especially in the receiving corps. In 2012, Florida tight ends had 63 receptions – or 18 fewer than the top three wide receivers combined.

So how did the Gators go 11-2? Well, Meyer left the cupboard completely full on the defensive side of the ball, and Muschamp, a defensive coach, took full advantage. The Gators basically scratched out points on offense and then sat back and let the defense do the rest. But when they came up on opponents whose offense was as good (or better) as the Gators’ D, UF’s O couldn’t rise to the occasion. Thus, losses to Georgia and Louisville, the first one keeping Florida out of the SEC Championship and the second a preview of the season to follow. (The latter game saw the Gators trailing 24-3 late in the first half before eventually losing, 33-23.)

Unfortunately for Florida, even a sound defeat by Louisville to end the 2012 season couldn’t tamper expectations for the 2013 campaign. This was an 11-2 team, remember? They were thisclose to playing in the SEC Championship! That means they were thisclose to possibly being this close to maybe playing for the National Championship!

What happens when an 11-2 team that wasn’t really an 11-2 team loses 28 players, including 20 starters (a number that includes those backups who became starters after the original starter was injured), including its first-, second- and third-string quarterbacks? Well, 4-8 happens. A loss to FCS team Georgia Southern* (a game that I attended, much to my chagrin) happens. No bowl game happens. And calls for Muschamp to be fired happens.

But give me one program that would survive with its third-string quarterback starting a significant amount of the season. Most fans would say that if a team is on its third-string quarterback, its season is already over. It’s very easy to blame the coach, but what I saw from these Gators is guys playing hard even while losing badly. That, to me, is the mark of a good coach.

Pundits far and wide have said that the Gators will be better this year, which isn’t really stepping out on a limb after their 4-8 campaign. This is a team that isn’t 11-2, but also isn’t 4-8, so somewhere in the middle is going to be an improvement from last season. Bringing in Kurt Roper will improve the offense; Andre DeBose will stay healthy and the Gators’ receivers will be more productive; the defense will remain solid; the team will (hopefully) stay (mostly) healthy; I foresee it will play in a January bowl.

I like Muschamp. I like that he’s a Gainesville native. I like that, unlike Meyer, the Florida gig really is a dream job for Muschamp. I love when he gave Meyer crap by saying “we appreciated our friends from Ohio making sure we're compliant with NCAA rules. They certainly know a little bit about that subject.” I’m proud to call him coach of the team that I love.

But I also at one point loved Ron Zook. Don’t be Ron Zook, Coach Muschamp. For all of our sakes.

*Post was changed to say that the Gators lost to Georgia Southern, not Georgia State. In my defense, I'd like to forget everything about that loss, but all I managed to forget was the second part of the team's name.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Putting the M and E in Emmys.

You can’t spell the Emmy’s with out M E.

No industry does a better job of patting itself on the back than entertainment. From the Grammy’s to the Emmy’s to the Oscars and everything in between, entertainers LOVE to tell us how wonderful they are, how wonderful their friends are, what amazing work they all do and why we should all watch everything they do ever.

But you know what? Even if we’re watching to make fun of them, we’re watching, we’re being entertained (either by them or my ourselves), so everyone’s happy.

I for one am excited about the Emmy’s. Among other things, I’m looking forward to seeing what Seth Meyers will do with the opening monologue. He helped write Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s opener for last year’s Golden Globes, which was amazing. That said, after last night’s VMA’s, I’m gonna be ticked if Seth doesn’t show any skin. I think we deserve it.

8:03pm: Nice job by Seth acknowledging the writers that make the shows happen. Too bad they were too busy doing their job to be around to hear him.

8:06pm: What’s a VCR?

8:08pm: TV > Movies.

8:10pm: I’m probably not the only one who is surprised that Tony Hale didn’t win. I would have expected Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson to split the Modern Family votes so that neither one earned the award.

8:11pm: Ty Burrell stealing a bit from Steve Carrell. Well, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

8:18pm: Louis CK is short and to the point. I like it.

8:21pm: CJ Craig!

8:21pm: I love Allison Janney. From Private Parts to West Wing to everything she’s ever done ever, I love her.

8:25pm: My wife and I just had a conversation about what Julia Louis-Dreyfus will do this year if she wins an Emmy. Last year she brought up Tony Hale, earlier this year at another awards show she brought up Matt Walsh

8:28pm: Crazy Eyes doesn't sound or look so crazy. I'm beginning to think that she may be a tremendous actor.

8:30pm: Modern Family cleaning up so far. Which is funny, because everything the one article I read said that the voters are tired of Modern Family. So nice job prognosticating, folks!

8:32pm: Gail Mancuso is just as funny as any of the Modern Family actors.

8:33pm: Billy on the Street appearance!

8:34pm: Seth MacFarlane?! I don’t think the internet is ready for him to host another show.

8:35pm: I love Billy on the Street, and I loved that bit, and my wife was skeptical at first but at the end she was crying laughing so there.

8:36pm: Julia Louis-Dreyfus gets hotter every year. That is all.

8:38pm: How did Katherine Heigl get Jim Parsons-area seats? I mean, what I’m trying to say is, HOW DID KATHERINE HEIGL GET IN THE SAME SEATING AREA AS JIM PARSONS??!?!

8:40pm: I can't knock Parsons winning again, even though I was pulling for Louis CK. I mean, someone has to show CBS that they made the right move by paying Parsons approximately 7 bajillion dollars an episode.

8:45pm: Brilliant job by JLD – we’re all expecting someone from Veep to come up with her, and she went and kept the Seinfeld bit with Bryan Cranston going. Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant.

8:49pm: Reality show blah blah blah “reality” blah blah blah "nothing real about it" blah blah blah.

8:49pm: “Julia Roberts began her career in television.” Way to explain to us why she’s here, Emmy’s.

8:55pm: I like the idea of the Q&A, but I dunno if it quite worked. Jon Hamm and Juliana Marguiles were funny, the Andre Braugher-Josh Charles bathroom key was humorous, but the rest of it was meh.

8:58pm: Sherlock is amazing, and if you haven’t watched it yet you haven’t been living.

9:00pm: Pretty funny that there’s a TV actress named Julia Roberts. The real Julia Roberts is going to be a little ticked.

9:01pm: I’ll bet Kathy Bates isn’t feeling any Misery tonight!

9:01pm: Seriously, I’ll bet she’s pretty stoked.

9:06pm: You all should watch About a Boy. It’s really funny. No joke, it’s a really good show.

9:08pm: I love Colbert, but that one fell flat.

9:08pm: The Normal Heart had four out of the six nominations in that category and still lost. To one of the stars of Love, Actually. I’m just saying, Martin Freeman was in Love, Actually. Along with the star of 12 Years A Slave. And the star of Taken.

9:15pm: Bad Judge makes me think that someone was a bad judge of what is funny. And that someone is NBC.

9:18pm: We got the plagiarism joke, Matty. We all read the internet. But the joke was funny, all right all right all right?

9:21pm: I am way more excited than I should be that Benedict Cumberbatch won an Emmy. And way more bummed than I should be that Sherlock isn’t coming back for like five years.

9:25pm: Lemme get this straight – Weird Al makes no appearance on the VMAs, but he has a whole segment on the Emmys.

9:25pm: On second thought, I wasn’t planning to watch the VMAs, so this worked perfectly for me.

9:31pm: While I don't think the bit was great, it was an awesome idea and I love Weird Al and that will never change.

9:33pm: Fargo is cleaning up the dramas so far. I really should watch that. I’ll add it to my list.

9:41pm: Ricky Gervais just killed it. I know people haven’t liked him when he’s hosted, but I thought he was funny, and I thought he was tremendous while presenting. The fact that Sarah Silverman won, kicked off her shoes and ran up the stairs only added to my enjoyment of that segment. And I really need to add Dexter to my list.

9:51pm: “Two things that can happen to your car, Key and Peele!” BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

9:53pm: As always, Key and Peele crushed. Just crushed. Those guys should really have their own TV show.

9:54pm: Hardwick had me until he said “let’s give out a fancy award to a deserving human.” THEY'RE ALL DESERVING HUMANS, OK? EVEN THE ONES WHO DON'T WIN.

9:55pm: The guy who won had a shocked face, which would have been much more believable if the trophy wasn’t basically already in his hands when the announcement was made.

9:57pm: The one thing I’m going to miss when Colbert moves to CBS is his banter with Jimmy Fallon. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that won’t happen when they are competing against each other.

10:04pm: The grand poobah of the academy is now up, and he’s put Sophia Vergara on a pedastal. Literally. And I have no idea what he said after that.

10:09pm: Peter Dinklage slow clapping for three seconds was like watching a dramatic, angry monologue. I need a gif of that posthaste.

10:20pm: I never thought there was a right or a wrong way to do the In Memoriam, segment, until now. I think the Emmy’s did it brilliantly.

10:26pm: A great acceptance speech always follows “I should have written something.”

10:27pm: At least it was short.

10:33pm: Katherine Heigl is in a new show on NBC. THAT’S why she gets seating in Jim Parsons area. The Truth Is Out There. As is she, if we are to believe the stories.

10:39pm: I am thrilled that Juliana Marguiles won, because I LOVE the Good Wife, and she totally deserves it, but I find it…unsettling, for lack of a better word…that the woman who is skinny like no woman I know in real life opens her acceptance with “what a great time in TV for women.” It is a great time in TV for women, because there are so many great roles, and they're all doing such amazing jobs, but I just wish more of those women didn’t have to look like they never eat.

10:46pm: Are we going to get another “I love my life” here from movie star Roberts?

10:47pm: We’re not! And Bryan Cranston won. I really gotta check out Breaking Bad. Adding it to the list!

10:50pm: Anna Gunn got music'ed out. Bryan Cranston is still going. That's messed up, Emmy’s.

10:50pm: Jay Leno comes on, and immediately tells a tired joke about how long these award shows are. You know, he used to be comedian*.

*Joke stolen from Jimmy Kimmel.

But seriously, Jay Leno used to be HILARIOUS. Then he got the Tonight Show and went completely vanilla.

10:52pm: The Emmys is playing off the cast of Modern Family. I don’t understand their music-off policies and procedures.

10:57pm: And now Vince Gilligan and Breaking Bad are getting musiced off!

10:58pm: So yeah, I guess I gotta move Breaking Bad up on my list.

10:58pm: The show ends! Two minutes early! I guess that means they’ll get permission to do it again next year.

11:00pm: Let the Tuesday morning quarterbacking begin. I thought Seth Meyers did a fine job. Perhaps not as good as Fey/Poehler (but really, that's an impossible bar to reach), but still pretty good. His Billy on the Street bit was outstanding. Key and Peele were tremendous, and I really hope they get to host an awards show soon. Congratulations to all the winners, congratulations to all the losers nominees, and I look forward to seeing what this year will bring in television.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Perfect from Start to Finish

I walked into the dimly lit building. Music was playing in the background. I looked around, and locked eyes with one of the women standing there. She beckoned me to come sit by her. 

When I got to her, she said "hi" and I said "hello." She asked me what I wanted, and I told her. She nodded her head in acquiescence and began following my instructions.

Neither of us said a word from that point on, until she was done and I thanked her, paid and left.

That is how getting a haircut should be every time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pay to Play, NFL-Style

The NFL is apparently strapped for cash.

The League that brings in more than $9.5 BILLION (with a B) per year is hurting, and it is asking for help from some super duper mega stars.

That is the assumption I’m making based on these repots from the Wall Street Journal that the NFL wants its Super Bowl Halftime performersto pay in order to play. According to the WSJ, the NFL has asked the three contenders for this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show (Katy Perry, Rihanna and Coldplay) to give some of their post-Super Bowl income back to the NFL, or to “make some other type of financial contribution.”

The three artists listed above are not keen on the idea. Which isn’t surprising, considering it’s a ridiculous request. Here are two reasons why:

1) Artists who do the Super Bowl Halftime Show are not paid. Not a dime, not a nickel. The NFL gets to promote them to get people to tune in to the halftime show, the NFL gets to promote them to advertisers to get the halftime show sponsored, the NFL makes money from the advertisers who are paying because of all the people who are tuning in, but the artist doesn’t make a buck. The artist is already paying the NFL by not getting paid.

2) The NFL makes a boatload of money every year. The NFL does not need to ask these artists – who again, are NOT GETTING PAID TO PERFORM – to pay to play. It just comes across as greedy. You want more money, NFL? Raise your advertising rates. Sure, it’s still greedy, but at least it doesn’t seem as greedy as asking someone who is doing something for you FOR FREE to pay YOU.

But fine. If the NFL wants the artists to pay in order to play the halftime show, I would suggest that the artists merely put in two stipulations in the contract.

1) I (the artist) get a percentage of the advertising for the Super Bowl. Not just the halftime show – the entire Super Bowl. Since you are going to promote my halftime appearance as a reason for people to tune in to the game, and since advertisers are paying you because of all the people who are going to tune in to the game, I should get a cut.
2) I (the artist) am going to be giving up a lot of my time to prepare for this halftime show, so you’re going to reimburse me for all the concerts I wasn’t able to do. And I was going to do a lot of concerts. Like, one per day.

The argument I’ve heard in favor of the NFL’s request is that these musical acts become stars and make a lot of money following their Super Bowl Halftime appearance because of all the exposure they get. The premise is that the NFL is much more popular than these super stars, so the financial windfall they receive post-Super Bowl more than makes up for whatever percentage they give to the NFL. And I’m sure that these artists do see a spike in their popularity because of their halftime show appearance – which is why they agree to do the show FOR FREE. But I would like to frame my counterpoint to this argument as a question: how many songs, albums or concert tickets have you purchased from a Super Bowl Halftime show performer based on their Super Bowl Halftime Show performance?

It’s not like the NFL is getting up-and-coming stars whom no one has ever heard of before they signed on to do the Halftime Show. Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers last year, Beyonce the year before that, Madonna before that…these are all HUGE stars who don’t need the NFL to boost their careers. The NFL needs them much more than they need the NFL, because the NFL is trying to bring in eyeballs who normally don’t watch football.

The NFL books super stars for its Super Bowl Halftime show so that it can promote the beejesus out of its Super Bowl Halftime show so that it can draw many more eyeballs than would normally watch a football game so that it can bring in a lot more advertising revenue. If the NFL felt confident that everyone would watch the game regardless of who was performing at halftime, it would simply promote the game itself and not even mention the halftime show. Or it would simply say that the halftime show will feature a special guest.

But hey, the NFL has a right to ask for whatever money it wants, because it’s a business and the primary goal of any business is to make as much money as it possibly can.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tony Dungy Clarifies His Michael Sam Comments...By Repeating His Michael Sam Comments

I wasn’t going to say anything about Tony Dungy’s commentson Michael Sam, because people smarter than I said what I was thinking much better (or at least snarkier) than I could have myself.

But then Tony Dungy clarified his comments by saying, well by saying his original comments all over again. “My philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years…was to minimize distractions for my teams.”

Let's be clear: the only “distractions” Michael Sam is causing is when people like Tony Dungy make a big deal of how distracting Michael Sam is.

Plus, and this has been asked multiple times by many people but it’s worth repeating, was Dungy’s philosophy really about “minimizing distractions”? Let’s go to the highlights!

Keyshawn Johnson, who at the time was merely a talented headcase who had just “written” (with ESPN’s Shelley Smith) the book, “Just Give Me The Damn Ball,” was traded for by Tampa Bay, with Dungy as its head coach. A few years later (after Dungy was fired), Key would be deactivated for the season by the Bucs because he was considered…wait for it…a distraction.

Michael Vick, who at the time had just gotten out of prison for his role in the dog fighting ring, was signed by the Eagles thanks in large part to Dungy, who was instrumental in helping Vick and all of his baggage find an NFL home. Vick was such a lightning rod that the debate of whether or not he should be allowed to play in the NFL continues today. 

Johnny Manziel, who in 2012 was arrested, who in 2013 left the Manning Passing Academy early (allegedly for oversleeping), who later that year was investigated by the NCAA for accepting money for autographs, whose off-the-field exploits has led to media asking coaches and teammates about them over and over again – you know, Johnny Football – was lauded by Dungy not once, but twice, about how good a football player and what a great teammate he was going to be. Just for fun, you should google “Johnny Manziel” and “off the field” and scan through the first few pages of the over two million results.

But sure, having Keyshawn, Vick and Manziel on your team would totally work with a philosophy of “minimizing distractions.”

If Tony Dungy had just left his comments as “if you can play, you can play,” (which coincidentally is an organization Dungy doesn't seem to agree with), he would have been (mostly) in the clear. We could have looked past his previous anti-gay stance because he’s just so gosh-darn likeable on TV. But he had to throw that little bit of himself in there, that part of him that still looks at Michael Sam the gay man first and Michael Sam the football player second.

Dungy is certainly free to voice his opinion, and unfortunately he is not alone in that opinion. But there is hope that change is on the way. Not too many years ago, people still thought that having a black quarterback would negatively affect the locker room (read: be a distraction). In February, Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl with very little reporting on his race. I hope coverage of gay football players goes the same way.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why Anti-Soccer People Are Wrong (And Trolls)

Every four years, an event takes place that divides our great country. We know it’s coming; we talk about it ad nauseam before, during and after; people choose sides and yell across the aisles about how wrong the opposition is.

I’m referring, of course, to the World Cup. It comes around every four years. Soccer fans in America –


– get excited for the two months of world class soccer, sometimes even rearranging their sleep schedule to watch the games.

Unfortunately, the growth of soccer fans in America has also led to an outbreak of soccer haters (henceforth known as “trolls). Trolls gonna troll, and when the World Cup comes around those trolls take to the airwaves and the twitters and the facebooks to discount everything soccer.

I’ve noticed a few anti-soccer points that the trolls raise time and time again, so I thought now would be a good time to answer some of those arguments.

1) Soccer is boring

This is an easy argument for anti-soccer people to make, and usually their reasoning centers around the dearth of scoring. But here’s the thing – ALL sports are boring. In fact, turn on any game in any sport on TV, and the odds are it will be boring.  

The NBA Finals are, theoretically, the most exciting time in the [professional] basketball season. But in 2007, when the Cavaliers were swept by the Spurs, most people wrote it off as one of the most boring Finals ever. Moreover, the majority of NBA fans will readily admit that regular season games are pretty boring unless it’s between two top teams, and they generally don’t start actually watching games until the playoffs.

College football – one of the most popular sports in America – had a national championship in 2012 between Alabama and LSU that was roundly criticized for being incredibly boring. In fact, most college football games are pretty boring, unless you’re a fan of the team that’s beating the other team by a gazillion points. The college basketball tournament is usually pretty exciting, but the regular season? Sure, some games are fun, but by and large most are 50-40 slugfests.

The NFL – another one of the most popular sports in America – has boring games every Sunday. Don’t believe me? Do you have any interest in watching Oakland at Cleveland on Oct. 26? I thought so.

Here’s another key point about football: in a 60 minute game, there is only about 11 minutes of actual action. Read that sentence again, I’ll wait. Now that you’ve read it again, you might ask, what is “action”? Good question, glad you asked. Action is the time between when the ball is snapped until the play is whistled dead. The Wall Street Journal did a study in 2010 and found that during the three real-time hours of the game, with 60 minutes of gametime, only 11 minutes are actual football action. Which means, during a college or pro football game, you watch more commercials than you do actual football action. Soccer, on the other hand, has no commercials during actual soccer action.

(On an aside, maybe that’s one of the reasons Americans have been so slow to gravitate to soccer – you don’t have built in breaks for your ADHD or bathroom trips or snack grabs once the action begins.)

NASCAR – usually No. 2 behind the NFL in the popularity contest – has seen its ratings drop significantly this season. I can’t really speak to this one, because I literally have never watched more than 30 seconds of a NASCAR broadcast.

Baseball…is incredibly boring, especially on TV. You will never convince me otherwise. One guy went to a Colorado Rockies game high as akite and had the best baseball viewing experience of his life. Granted, he hates baseball and doesn’t go to games often, but still.

My point is this: with all the boring games from all these other sports, why hasn’t anyone ever written about how the offending sport should be done away with? After the 2007 NBA Finals, did people ridicule fans of the NBA? No. After the 2012 college football championship, was there ever talk about how stupid and boring and non-sensical college football is? Nope. Was the system changed to implement a playoff to appease the fans who were upset about that one boring game? Ok, yes. That did happen. Bad example.

But here’s the thing about soccer that makes it more palatable than the other sports: it’s relatively short. When you watch a game, you know it’s going to be two hours. Even if it’s part of a tournament and goes to extra time or even penalty kicks, it still won’t go past three hours. When was the last time a college football, NBA, NFL or baseball game went two hours? Plus, and it’s worth repeating, watching soccer means you actually get to watch soccer – there are no commercial breaks during the first or second half (or extra sessions).

2) You’re Not A Fan Of Something If You Only Watch Every Four Years

Another easy argument to make, even if it’s wrong. Yes, the World Cup happens every four years. Yes, international soccer doesn’t have a “season” per se. But World Cup fans are generally watching games leading into the World Cup. We’ll watch international friendlies, or the qualifying matches, or EPL on NBC, or Champions League on FOX, or even MLS. But besides that, how many people watch Olympic sports during non-Olympic years? Some sports people will tune in for, sure, but the majority…not so much. For example, I love watching curling, but I’m not even sure it exists outside of the Olympics.

3) Growing Interest In Soccer Can Only Be A Sign Of The Nation’s Moral Decay

Ok, that one is true. I can’t dispute it. Sorry, America.

4) Any Sport In Which You Can’t Use Your Hands Is Stupid

This one I really don’t understand. In track and field, most of the running events don’t include the use of one’s hands. Besides, who cares what body parts you use to play a sport? A sport is just a game, for crying out loud. For that matter, calling a sport a name that actually is just 3% of that sport is stupid. American football is called football…why, exactly? Because the players use their feet to run around? If so, then why isn’t basketball also called football?

Let’s be clear – the only players in American Football who really use their feet are kickers, and they are the generally viewed as the least footbally members of any football team. At least football (read: soccer) is a name that actually makes sense. Players use their FOOT…to kick a BALL.

5) Penalty Kicks Is A Stupid Way To End A Game

I won’t entirely disagree with this argument, because it’s valid. Games that go to penalty kicks are basically decided by the kicker putting the ball on goal and the goalie guessing right on which direction he should go to stop the ball. Now, I do think that another overtime session wouldn’t make sense – in professional soccer you can only make three substitutions per game, which means that after 120 minute of action the players will be absolutely gassed. They’ve just run between 7-10 miles, for crying out loud. My guess is that more time will not lead to a gamewinning goal, since everyone on the field will be exhausted.

So what could be done to make penalty kicks a better way to end a game? A friend of mine made a suggestion on facebook that I think is brilliant in its simplicity – just move the kicker back. Right now penalty kicks are taken from 12 yards away from goal. If you move the ball to the 18-yard mark, it makes it a little more difficult for the kicker and gives the goalie a chance to be reactive to the shot rather than making an educated guess about where he thinks the shot is going. This way both participants in the penalty are relying on their athletic ability.


The point of all of this is to say: your arguments against soccer are mostly dumb, and the only reason you’re making them is because you know it will get a rise out of soccer fans. Which is actually the best indication of how far we have come as a soccer-loving society. People are now trolling U.S. soccer fans. Rihanna went out of her way to tweet her support for EVERY TEAM EXCEPT THE USA. There was that silly troll (as Ken Tremendous called her), who wrote a ridiculously silly troll piece, trolling American soccer fans. There were countless tweets and facebook posts using the five talking points I listed above.

But beyond all that, the ratings for the World Cup were amazing. The US games averaged approximately 25 million viewers between ESPN/ABC, WatchESPN and Univision. Not just that, but the championship between Germany and Argentina – two teams that are decidedly NOT America – set a record with more than 26 million viewers, becoming the most-watched soccer match in American history.

All of which means…soccer is here to stay. Trolls don’t troll unless they know there is something to gain by trolling. Soccer fans in America are passionate and we are tuning into games in record numbers. If you’re not on board yet, I suggest you give soccer a shot. It’s fun to watch, it’s only two hours, and you get to be trolled by trolls.

But you don’t have to call it “futbol.” Even I draw the line there.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Beautiful Game

The NBA news of the week of the decade of the millennium is that LeBron and Carmelo have both opted out of their contracts with the Heat and Knicks, respectively. If you’ll all think back to a few months ago, when the Knicks didn’t make the playoffs, or a few weeks ago, when the Heat lost to the Spurs in the NBA Finals, you’ll understand why I have a hard time caring about two of the best players in the NBA both becoming free agents at the same time.

Because it doesn’t matter where LeBron goes, or where Carmelo goes, or if they become the Big Two and make a Decision to play together in [insert city here]. Put together all the great players you want, NBA owner looking to make a splash. Players don’t win championships – teams do. And as long as the Spurs are run by Gregg Popovich and RC Buford, they’ll always have the best team.

The Spurs should be the two-time defending NBA champions. They were a crazy Ray Allen three-pointer away from winning in six games last season (covered perfectly by Grantland grand poo bah Bill Simmons), and this year they took apart the Heat and its Big Three, winning in five games.

Did you know, that on the same day LeBron opted out of his contract, Tim Duncan exercised his 10.3M option with the Spurs? See if you can find the story on ESPN’s front page.

It’s in the headlines, eight stories down. Why isn’t it getting the same coverage as LeBron? Because just like the Spurs, it’s not flashy or attention grabbing. It’s just a good old fashioned team-first basketball mentality.

It’s fitting that the Spurs won the NBA Championship in 2014, the same year as the World Cup. No one comes as close to the Beautiful Game on the basketball court as San Antonio. A friend and I were talking about this the other day (well, texting about it, but that’s basically talking now): San Antonio is America’s version of a top-class futbol – yeah, I said it – program. Their roster is filled with players from different countries; those players all had essentially professional play experience by the time they got to the Spurs; the players are coached to play fluidly and think and not drilled to follow each play step by step; they are coached to do one-touch passing until they find the open player; the players are all team first.

Who are these players, and what is it about them that they are able to maintain this team first mentality through thick and thin? Let’s take a look at the Spurs roster, focusing on the players who saw extensive playing time during the playoffs.

Tony Parker – from Belgium, played minor league basketball in France from 1997-1999 and professionally in France from 1999-2001, 28th overall pick (2001)
Kawhi Leonard – from USA, played two years at San Diego State, 15th overall pick (2011)
Danny Green – from USA, played all four years at UNC, 46th overall pick (2009)
Boris Diaw – from France, played professionally in France 2000-03, 21st overall pick (2003)
Tim Duncan – from US Virgin Islands, played all four years at Wake Forest, 1st overall pick (1997)

Key Reserves:
Marco Belinelli – from Italy, played professional basketball in Italy from 2002-2007, 18th overall pick (2007)
Matt Bonner – from USA, played all four years at Florida, played professional basketball in Italy in 2003-04, 45th overall pick (2003)
Manu Ginobli – from Argentina, played professional basketball in Argentina from 1995-98, played professional basketball in Italy from 1998-2002, 57th overall pick (1999)
Patty Mills – from Australia, played two years at St. Mary’s (Calif.), played two games in the NBDL, professionally in Australia and China during the NBA lockout in 2011-12, 55th overall pick (2009)
Tiago Splitter – from Brazil, played professionally in Spain from 2000-10, 28th overall pick (2007)

Here’s what I notice from this group: players born in the USA are outnumbered, 7-3 (I’m including Duncan in the non-USA group). All 10 players had a minimum of two years playing basketball at least at a semi-pro (i.e. college) level, with the international players averaging approximately 3.0 years of playing in a professional league before reaching the NBA. The only player drafted in the top-10 in that entire group is Duncan (which makes the Spurs’ dynasty even more incredible, considering they are always going late in the NBA Draft).

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the players from overseas also played soccer growing up. I think that helps with the team first mentality. You’re not going to win in soccer if you play 1 v 11. In basketball, playing 1 v 5 is not advisable, yet it probably happens more often than not for those high school kids who are good enough to go right to the NBA. Then they go to college for that one year of “where will they go in the NBA Draft,” and then it’s off to the NBA. The biggest reason that you are seeing the Mercers and Lehighs beating big name schools in the NCAA Tournament is that they are teams, going against players.

Certainly LeBron and KD are exceptions (and exceptional), players who went straight to the NBA or played just one year in college and became superstars right out of the gate. Perhaps Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker will have the same kind of immediate success. I have my doubts, but I’ve been wrong before. Regardless, I’m already looking forward to watching the Spurs play. As Chris Bosh put it after the Spurs dominated the Heat in game four of the Finals, “They're playing beautiful basketball.”

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Flipping Out: Flip Saunders' Job Interview With Flip Saunders

Today we found out that Flip Saunders the GM of the Minnesota Timberwolves had hired a familiar name to coach the Timberwolves, a gentleman who coached the T-Wolves from 1995-2005 who goes by the name of…Flip Saunders.

Yes, you read that right. Flip Saunders the GM hired Flip Saunders to be the head coach, taking nepotism to a whole new level. Here is how I imagine the interview went.

GM Flip: Flip, thanks for coming in.

Coach Flip: Not a problem at all, Flip, thanks for the opportunity.

GM Flip: Flip, obviously you have heard some of the names that are on the short list for the Timberwolves job, including Florida’s Billy Donovan, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg and former Knicks and Rockets coach and current ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy. Tell me why I should hire you instead of any of these other guys.

Coach Flip: That’s a great question, Flip, I’m glad you asked. I think if you look at my track record you’ll see a history of success. I took Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth in 1996-97, my first full year as head coach, had 50 win seasons in 1999-2000 and 2001-02 and came thisclose to a trip to the NBA Finals in 2003-04. In fact, I took Minnesota to the playoffs eight-straight years while I was head coach.

GM Flip: Flip, I’m hearing a lot of past success, but as you well know, the NBA is a “what have you done for me lately” league, so what have you done lately?

Coach Flip: Very fair question, Flip. After I left the Timberwolves, I coached the Pistons for three seasons, setting a franchise record with 64 wins in 2005-06 and then recording back-to-back 50-win seasons in 2006-07 and 07-08. We made it to the Eastern Conference Finals all three years I was there, but just couldn’t quite get over the hump into the Finals.

GM Flip: Flip, if you were so successful in Detroit, why were you let go?

Coach Flip: Flip, it’s a question I have asked myself many, many times. To be honest, I’m not really sure. Then-GM Joe Dumars said the team needed a “new voice.” In my defense, they’ve had five new voices since I left and the team has had nowhere near the success that I had.

GM Flip: While I agree with you there, Flip, since you left Detroit you also haven’t had anywhere near the success that you had with either the Pistons or the Timberwolves. You went to Washington and won just 51 games over two-plus years. What happened there?

Coach Flip: I figured this would be brought up, Flip, and I appreciate your bluntness. That was a disappointing experience for me, both professionally and personally. We had to deal with locker room issues and injuries. Gilbert Arenas was the star of that team but he only ended up playing 32 games my first year and 21 my second, before he was traded to Orlando. Unfortunately other than Gilbert we did not have a lot of talent on that team, so I really didn’t have a lot to work with. I would argue that most of the blame would fall at the feet of the GM Ernie Grunfeld. I think he had set the roster so that it was Gilbert’s team but didn’t know Gilbert as well as he should have.

GM Flip: I’ve worked with Grunfeld myself, Flip, so I can certainly sympathize.

Coach Flip: Flip I can assure you that our relationship will be much stronger than what I had with Ernie.

GM Flip: I certainly hope so, Flip!

…awkward silence

GM Flip: Let’s get back to the question at hand, which is: why should I hire you?

Coach Flip: Sorry about that, Flip, I guess I got a little carried away.

GM Flip: Not at all, Flip, happens to us all.

…uncomfortable laughter

Coach Flip: What makes me a good coach and the right person for this job is how I deal with the people around me. I have coached young teams and veteran teams and have succeeded with both. I have coached young rising superstars and older cagey veterans, and have succeeded with both. In short, Flip, I am the man to coach the Timberwolves.

GM Flip: Well I certainly am intrigued with what you have to offer, Flip! If I were to hire you, what would be your first course of action?

Coach Flip: First things first, I would sell Kevin Love on Minnesota, hard. Priority number one has to be getting him re-signed.

GM Flip: Right answer, Flip! It’s like you’re in my head.

Coach Flip: I figured you were thinking the same thing, Flip!

GM Flip: Well, Flip, to be quite honest with you I already knew you were the man for this job before the interview even began. Something about you reminds me a little bit of me, and nothing you’ve said in this interview has dissuaded me from that opinion. Welcome back to the Timberwolves!

Coach Flip: That’s great, Flip, thanks so much! You won’t be disappointed. I have a feeling we will work very, very well together.

GM Flip: Couldn’t have said it better myself, Flip.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Why I'm Pulling For The NY Rangers In The Stanley Cup Finals

I am not a hockey fan. Growing up in Florida, we didn't do a whole lot with hockey. The Panthers had their run to the Stanley Cup Finals and then were swept right back into mediocrity by the Avalanche. Tampa Bay won the Cup a few years back, but let's be honest - who outside of Tampa really cares about Tampa teams?

I would watch the obligatory playoff game(s), I would crack the occasional (on the nose) "I turned on a fight and a hockey game broke out" joke, but that was the extent of my involvement with hockey. So I have no reason to pull for either team in the 2014 Finals. But I am a huge New York Rangers fan now. You might argue that it’s because I live in the NY area (I do), or because I have money on the game (I don’t), but it’s more than that. In fact, it’s Moore.

The three brothers Moore (Mark, Steve, Dominic) all grew up in Toronto, all attended Harvard, all played hockey for the Crimson (even overlapping for one year, 1999-2000), all went on to professional hockey careers, all saw their careers either shortened by bad luck, incredibly stupidity (not on their part) and heart break.

Mark was drafted by the Penguins in 1997, graduated from Harvard in 2000, went to Pittsburgh’s training camp and was sent to the minors. He was never able to make it to the Big Show, as he suffered a career-ending concussion when a teammate’s helmet collided with his chin during practice.

It seems unfair to label what happened to Steve as incredible stupidity, but I really can’t think of what else to call it. I don’t believe that what happened to him was malicious, it was just one of those “my name is Iniego Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die” situations that seems (seemed?) so prevalent in hockey. I’m referring, of course, to this:

Even I, non-hockey fan that I am, remember this incident. March 8, 2004, Todd Bertuzzi punched Steve in the back of the head and then essentially pushed Steve’s face into the ice. I don’t feel that Bertuzzi meant to hurt Steve any more than the hurt that is inflicted in a “normal” hockey fight. But it was just so stupid, so incredibly unthinking of Bertuzzi to hit a guy like that.

Steve suffered three fractured neck vertebrae, facial cuts and a concussion and Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely, which basically became the rest of that season and all of next season as the NHL was locked out. In fact, Bertuzzi was suspended for 17 months…and missed only 20 games. He also lost out on approximately $900,000 in salary and endorsements.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the victim suffered, among other things, "uncertainty, anxiety, stress and emotional pain for the…family." Wait, Bettman was actually referring to Bertuzzi in that quote? That was why he lifted the indefinite suspension?! Gary Bettman, everyone!

Again I don’t believe that Bertuzzi meant to cause the damage that he did. I think it was just a moronic action by someone who obviously wasn't giving the consequences of his actions even a first thought. I certainly hope that Bertuzzi feels guilty about what happened and thinks about it every day. But regardless, Steve’s career was over.

Dominic did not suffer any physical harm, but I would argue that of the three brothers, he was hit the hardest. He was drafted by the Rangers in 2003 and then went through seven trades and nine teams over the course of nine seasons. His college sweetheart, Katie, who played soccer at Harvard, traveled with him every step of the way. But then in 2012, Katie was diagnosed with cancer and Dominic stepped away from hockey altogether as she fought, and sadly lost, the good fight. ESPN’s Outside the Lines and Jeremy Schapp did a masterful job of telling the story. WARNING: when you watch this video, wherever you are, dust will attack your eyes. You will need tissues.

I know that the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup will not allow Mark or Steve to resume their hockey careers, or bring Katie back to Dominic. But for a family that seems to have suffered so much within and outside of the sport, it would be great if the sport could give something back to them. That is why I will be actively, and loudly, cheering on the Blueshirts.

First I gotta figure out how this sport works.

NOTE: Dominic started a foundation in his wife’s name to help patients and families deal with rare cancers:

Steve established a foundation that focuses on the prevention and treatment of concussions and other head/neck injuries:

Mark wrote a book about hockey entitled Saving The Game.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Are You There, People Who Find Chelsea Handler Funny?

Chelsea Handler has been in the news a lot lately. First, she was one of the names thrown about as possible replacements for David Letterman, who is retiring in 2015. Then, more recently, she made herself a the name throw about as a possible replacement for Craig Ferguson, who by all accounts is not retiring at all. Then Handler took herself right out of the running to replace the non-retiring Ferguson by saying she will never ever work for a "regular network." Whether that was her decision, or CBS' decision, we'll never know.

Seeing her name bandied about reminded me of a question I have asked myself many times since I first heard of the host of Chelsea Lately: is Chelsea Handler funny?

My first experience actually listening to Chelsea Handler was when she was a guest on the Howard Stern Show in October of 2012, and I found her to be...offputting. I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but something about her bothered me. She was an interesting interview, to be sure, but she seemed too quick to make fun of people she had met or dated or interacted with. Plus I felt that she wasn't as thankful to Howard as she should have been, as (in my estimation at least) she wouldn't have the career she's had without him paving the way.

But regardless, that really wasn't enough of a Chelsea Handler experience to make a determination as to her funniness. So I posed the question on Facebook, to ask if anyone found her funny and if so, why. The only responses I received were other guys who also didn't understand what about Handler was funny.

So I decided to watch her show on E! to see if I could figure out what made her so popular. Chelsea Lately has been on since 2007, its YouTube page has over 300,000 it's gotta be funny, right?

I watched a week's worth of episodes. The format seems to be: a brief opening monologue by Handler, followed by the opening credits, followed by Handler introducing her panel. It's three people, most if not all stand-up comedians, although I had never heard of any of the panelists from any of the four shows that I watched that particular week.

Handler then goes topic-by-topic, with each panelist getting a chance to make a joke about the subject matter, with Handler getting the final line. She then goes to the next topic; rinse, repeat. The final segment is a celebrity interview - the ones that I watched seemed more about Handler than the guest. (I certainly didn't learn anything about the guest, although to be fair, the late night show format as a whole - Daily Show and Colbert Report not included - is pretty lame when it comes to the interviews.)

My assumption is that the panelists are also writers on Chelsea Lately, which, if true, makes me wonder if the stuff they're writing for Handler is really their best jokes. I mean, if you're going to be on the show yourself, would you really want to give your best material to someone else to use?

Regardless of who is writing for whom, I didn't find anything anyone said particularly funny, and that includes Handler herself. Her comedy doesn't seem to be comedy per se, she just says things that are inappropriate or just plain mean. She goes to the stereotype well too quickly; there isn't any substance or intelligence behind her jokes.

In a recent appearance on the Stern Show, she told a story of a joke that E! asked her not to use. The joke was about Ryan Seacrest and how it's weird for a straight man to be covering the Oscars. The punchline was that any straight guy who covers the Oscars should be forced to have gay sex. Handler said E! asked her not to go with the joke because it's making fun of Ryan Seacrest. I say E! asked her not to go with the joke because it's terrible. Not funny. Just terrible.

But that's her "humor." That's what constitutes comedy for her. We all know people, men and women, who say ridiculous things as a way to get a laugh, and Chelsea Handler seems to fall in this category. Obviously this has worked quiet well for her, at least on E!. (It did not work so well on her sitcom on NBC. And this is NBC we're talking about.) I've never seen her live. She has had four successful books - full disclosure, I've read nary a one. My wife couldn't get past the first few pages of Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea.

Having listened to Handler twice on the Stern Show, I think she's interesting. She's obviously very smart and she has good stories to tell, when she's not resorting to weak stereotype punchlines. But I just don't see her as a late night host on a major network. I think E! suits her because she doesn't have to worry about ratings and she can get away with a lot of "jokes" that she probably wouldn't be allowed to say on CBS/NBC/ABC. FOX, maybe. But not the other three.

Many people have correctly stated that it's ridiculous that there are no women on late night, and I agree with that. I know Tina Fey's name has been thrown about, but she's executive producing TV shows and starring in movies, so I don't see her jumping into the late night rat race anytime soon (if ever). Ellen Degeneres is very funny, but why would she want to leave her successful day-time talk show? Samantha Bee is a possibility, but my guess is that TV executives would want someone with hosting experience to take over one of the main late night shows. With Colbert moving to Letterman's spot, Bee would be an excellent choice (maybe along with her husband Jason Jones) to take over the slot after The Daily Show.

But that's another story for another day. I know I've only watched four episodes of Chelsea Lately, but I still don't get what makes her funny. I feel I have a pretty normal sense of humor. I think Family Guy is funny. I love Parks and Rec. I'm a huge Howard Stern fan. I listen to the comedians on SiriusXM's comedy channels and I laugh. But Chelsea Handler just doesn't do it for me. Is it a guy thing? Is that why I don't get her? I could see her being good on a Bill Maher-type show, where she can host a panel that discusses various topics, where she can give her honest opinion rather than make jokes. For me, jokes are not her strong suit. I'd like to think that it's not me, it's her, but I'm just waiting to hear from someone who finds her funny.

So I guess what I'm asking is, Are You There, People Who Find Chelsea Handler Funny? It's Me, Someone Who Doesn't.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When Reporters Troll

After UConn defeated Notre Dame in the women's basketball championship, ESPN reporter Holly Rowe asked Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma,  "What is it about your standard of excellence that's different from other coaches?"

I can't tell you how much this question, and this type of question, bothers me. Oh wait, I can. And will.

ESPN is already pretty well known. It's the world-wide leader in sports, for crying out loud. Do ESPN reporters really need to go out of their way to troll coaches for sound bytes? What other possible reason would Holly Rowe have for asking that question? She's basically setting Geno up to say something critical about other women's basketball coaches, therefore getting ESPN in the news "UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said on ESPN after the game..."

If Holly Rowe, and ESPN, really cared about finding out what makes Auriemma and UConn tick, maybe a better question would have been, "talk about your standard of excellence and what you expect from your players, even in the late stages of a blowout win."

But no, Rowe went for the troll question, which apparently is what passes for reporting these days.

In Rowe's defense, she's not the only one. Nor is ESPN the only organization that resorts to these tactics. I just think it would be nice if we saw more attempts to report the news, and fewer attempts to become the news.