31 March 2008

Dodgers Win, But ESPN Is Confused As To Just Who They Beat

The Dodgers opened up their season in style with a 5-0 victory on Monday, but ESPN seems to be a little confused as to who exactly they played. According to this page, the Dodgers should be 2-0, having beat the Giants and the Marlins in one day. If only...

Even Blessed Balls Can't Help Phillies Win Opening Day

The joke usually starts something like this: a Priest, a Rabbi, and a Pastor walk up to a ballpark. Then you cue the corny punch line. Yet today a Priest, a Rabbi, and a Pastor did walk up to Citizen’s Bank Park, but it was for no laughing matter. Instead, Pastor Jeff Raffauf, Father Joe Campellone and Rabbi Gregory Marx gathered in front of the Mike Schmidt statue on Monday to jointly bless the balls to be used by the Phillies in their opener, and by association the team itself.
"May it be thy will that the Phillies go onto victory with a strong hand and outstretched spirit, bats of iron, gloves of gold, pitchers who are exact in their skill and the spirit of Mike Schmidt that inspires not only the players, but also the fans," Rabbi Marx said.
And thus it was decreed. But will it be so? As it is said early on, “in the big inning,” God created the Phillies 2008 championship team, right? On Monday, though, God lost, as the Phillies fell to the Nationals 11-6.

A team of destiny? Maybe. For now they’ll just have to be a team loved by the clergy.

28 March 2008

This Seahawks Fan Sure Can Hold A Grudge

Super Bowl memories for most fans are usually forgotten pretty quickly. Sure, we might remember who played, and who won. And often those are the only memories that remain. Unless your team was in it. Then things are different.

Two years later, it seems as though one particular Seattle Seahawks fan has a lot of unresolved feelings over his team’s loss in Super Bowl XL. Or so it seems. This 24 year-old Seahawks fan, and a cook took things to a whole new level. He was arrested last week for allegedly spitting on the hamburger he was preparing for a man who just happened to be wearing Pittsburgh Steelers attire. And no, that wasn’t the restaurant’s “special sauce.”

Deputies said the 37-year-old man in Steelers garb took his daughters to a Mile Hill Drive fast food restaurant Saturday evening, and "began trading friendly barbs about his team and their victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL," reports said.

One employee told the man that he'd "better not say that to the guy that's making your food," but the man thought it was a joke, reports said.
But no, it wasn’t a joke. When the Steelers fan opened his burger, he saw not just meat and bun, but also a nice big “loogie.” That’s when the fun really began. Rather than just throw away the burger, the Steelers fan got the authorities involved. When the deputies went to see the loogie maker, they smelled pot coming from his house. And that’s how he ended up being booked for fourth-degree assault and possession of marijuana.
Eventually, the man confessed to spitting in the 37-year-old's hamburger container to "gross him out ... because he was a Steelers fan," deputies said.
That’s right folks - - spitting on a customer’s burger will get you fourth-degree assault. So that’s the lesson of the day: if you’re going to spit on someone’s burger, don’t taunt them first.

Here’s A March Madness Bracket With Some Real Worth

If you’re like most people by now your bracket is likely in shambles. I picked all four winners on Thursday night, and it still didn’t get me anywhere. Nonetheless, here’s a bracket that really matters: Salary Madness.

Payscale.com took the brackets and took a look to see how they’d shape up if victories were determined by the median salary of its graduates. Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, and Notre Dame would have made the Final Four, with Stanford beating Notre Dame in the final. No surprises there, right? One notable standout has to be UT-Arlington, who in this world waltzed all the way to the Elite 8. Who knew, right?

The biggest loser? That has the be Mississippi Valley State. Not only did they score the fewest amount of points in a tournament game since 1946, but they also have the distinction of having the lowest median income of any school in the Big Dance. It seems like they’ve got work to do on all fronts!

You can check out how your team would have done here.

27 March 2008

Now THIS Is The Proper Way To Get An Autograph

Witness the proper technique of getting something autographed. Hideki Okajima seems pretty used to it in this photo, doesn’t he? There’s no speaking or begging involved here (directly, at least), so the autographing speed can be increased. I can only wonder how he reacted to being asked to sign that pink lunchbox-esque item towards the bottom of the photo...

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

26 March 2008

This Is The Closest Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams Will Ever Come To Being Jesus

You might say that Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams don’t have much in common with Jesus, but they did their best impressions Wednesday, attempting to play tennis on water. Well, sort of.

In advance of the upcoming Sony Ericsson Open the tournament staged the first ever tennis game played on water. It didn’t matter who won – it just made you want to say wow. Believe me when I say this isn’t an optical illusion, and it wasn’t photographed by Annie Leibowitz.

The court took seven days to build as a specialist underwater team constructed two invisible platforms at either end of the pool for the players to stand and play using a combination of bespoke acrylic sheets and supporting acrylic tubes that were bonded together.
The pool was then filled with water before adding the finishing touches of a net and Sony Ericsson Open ball girls and boys.
Simply amazing. The only thing better would be to stage a real tournament match up there. Nadal against Federer on water? If you thought the NHL’s outdoor game was cool, this would be even better. Now that's something I'd like to see!

(Photo Credit: Top; Doug Benc/Getty Images for Sony Ericsson; Bottom: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Sony Ericsson)

It’s Good To Be A Davidson Student These Days

Davidson has had a great run into the Sweet 16 this year, felling Gonzaga and then shocking Georgetown to become this year’s darlings. And Davidson students haven’t had it all that bad either, even before last week. First, they have free laundry services for students. And now the school is paying for its students to head to Detroit to see the Wildcats take on Wisconsin.

Any student who wants to attend the Wildcats' NCAA tournament game against Wisconsin in Detroit on Friday is free to do so, President Tom Ross said in an e-mail sent at 2:24 p.m. All they had to do was reply within 96 minutes and the tab -- bus fare, hotel accommodations and game tickets -- would be taken care of, courtesy of the college's trustees.
Not bad, right? The trip is estimated to cost no less than $560 per person, which certainly adds up. But I suppose that’s one of the benefits of going to a private school - - you’d never see a cash-strapped state school offer something like this. And considering it’s been almost 40 years since Davidson last won an NCAA Tournament game, the students had better take the school up on its offer.

The Davidson busses depart campus at 6 AM on Friday, with an 11 hour drive ahead of them before that night’s game at Ford Field. Wildcats fans will surely be outnumbered by the more local Badger faithful, but these students will surely be amongst the luckiest few in the building.

23 March 2008

Dan Rooney's Legacy Gets A Black Eye

Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney has always been considered a class act. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, Rooney was the architect behind the so-called "Rooney Rule," mandating that NFL teams interview minority candidates during coaching searches. And thus this past week's behavior and comments from the Steelers and Rooney is made all the more surprising.

On March 8th Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison was charged with assaulting his girlfriend. According to the police reports, he broke down her door, broke her cell-phone in half as she attempted to dial 911, and then hit her in the face. He remains a member of the Steelers.

Early Thursday morning Steelers wide receiver Cedrick Wilson committed a similar act, pushing and then punching his girlfriend in the face. Later that day he was cut by the team.

There is an easy rationale for this discrepancy. Harrison is arguably the best defensive player on the Steelers - his 98 tackles and 8.5 sacks exemplify that. On the other hand, Wilson was merely a role-player. Thus, it would be easy to make an example out of him. Yet that wasn't the case. You see, Rooney was able to draw a distinction between what is seemingly two similar crimes.

"I know many are asking the question of [why] we released Wilson and Harrison we kept,'' he said. "The circumstances -- I know of the incidents, they are completely different. In fact, when I say we don't condone these things, we don't, but we do have to look at the circumstances that are involved with other players and things like that, so they're not all the same."

"What Jimmy Harrison was doing and how the incident occurred, what he was trying to do was really well worth it," he said of Mr. Harrison's initial intent with his son. "He was doing something that was good, wanted to take his son to get baptized where he lived and things like that. She said she didn't want to do it."

Coming from a man with such an honorable history, Rooney's comments were incredibly ill-advised and foolish. Is there ever a reason to distinguish between domestic violence? Hitting your girlfriend is still hitting your girlfriend whether or not you at one point had some good intentions. Once Harrison hit his girlfriend, it no longer mattered what he initially wanted to take his son to do. The fact that Rooney couldn't see that is puzzling, and he should know better. And thus a man who has done so many positive things throughout his career has given his legacy a black eye.

19 March 2008

China Tries To Resolve Its Toilet Issue

Thus far, nothing involving the Beijing Olympics has been easy. The games aren’t until August but we’ve already had our share of discussions revolving around protests, pollution, boycotts, human rights, and countless other articles of interest. However now it seems that another brouhaha has emerged over something that has to be considered the foundation of any successful games – the toilets.

During test events leading up to the games, including last weekend’s Dodgers/Padres series, the toilets drew many complaints. Such complaints were mainly due to the fact that they were squat toilets, not the sit-down ones you’re used to. I’d elaborate, but you probably get the distinction.

And so the Beijing Games organizers have listened – sort of. They’re tearing out the squatters at the three main venues so that us Westerners can go number two in relative peace.

"In my personal point of view, there are cultural differences between Chinese and Western people. Chinese are more used to squat toilets," said Yao Hui, a senior official responsible for the management of Olympic venues. "Toilet alteration projects at the Bird's Nest (National Stadium), the Water Cube and National Indoor Stadium are ongoing and if technical conditions permit, all the toilets in these stadiums will be changed.
If you’re going to the Games, however, don’t get too comfortable. While they’ll try to replace as many toilets as they can, their first priority will be those to be used by key clients, athletes, Olympic family members and the media. So if that’s not you, keep your fingers crossed, and practice squatting between now and August.

18 March 2008

Now You Can Lick Randy Moss

Just when you thought Randy Moss had it all, it keeps getting better. The US Postal Service is set to release a commemorative envelope honoring the New England Patriots and former Marshall University WR later this week.

"Moss is a well-respected sports figure in the West Virginia area," said David Walton, spokesman for the post office's Appalachian District. "We just wanted to pay tribute to him and recognize him for his achievements."
Moss’ envelope makes him West Virginia’s third most-famous athlete, following Jerry West and Mary Lou Retton, who both had envelopes in their honor in the 1990s. So is Moss really worthy of this honor? Or is it just West Virginia’s turn to release a commemorative envelope and Rich Rodriguez and John Beilein were unavailable? Those in the Postal Service are strong believers in Moss’ worth.
"Randy Moss is to football what Tiger Woods is to golf," said District Manager Karen Schenck, who will make a presentation to Moss. "The Postal Service wanted to honor Mr. Moss, so we designed a commemorative envelope as a fitting tribute to his many talents."
Ah yes, Randy Moss and Tiger Woods - - comparable on so many levels. Only 5,000 envelopes at $6 will be produced, so if you’re interested, Friday can’t come soon enough1

17 March 2008

Share In March Madness With John McCain

The nice thing about John McCain is that he often says it like it is. And so while he may have just made a surprise visit to Iraq over the weekend, the Senator’s true interests came out as well. He’s launched a March Madness bracket contest on his official website.

Those willing to dish out their contact info and in turn become bombarded by what will surely be lots and lots of campaign emails will get the opportunity to face off against McCain. He won’t make his choices public until right at the deadline, but somehow a deep tournament run from Arizona wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world.

And should you be one of the top winners, you’ll be the lucky recipient of McCain swag! You didn’t think there was money involved, did you? Whether you win or lose, do what the campaign wants you to do. Talk up Johnny Mac!

“While you’re watching the games with your friends or lamenting your busted bracket over the water cooler, don’t forget to tell your friends about your support for John McCain,” urged the e-mail.
Indeed. As soon as Western Kentucky defeats Drake, hide your embarrassment by talking up your bracket sponsor.

16 March 2008

A LIO Reprise: Lunardi's Lougin'

A year later it's just as good. "I've been looking at non-conference SOS's so much that it burns when I pee. My angst over Creighton's seeding nearly ended my marriage. That's me, straight loungin' after another year. I don't know if you can tell, but I'm pretty wasted. I was Pokey Chatman and that bracket was my former player. You're welcome. I'll see you all in hell."

--Joe Lunardi--

12 March 2008

Eliot Spitzer Night Comes To Macon

That was quick. Let it be known that the Macon Muse of the South Coast League are the first team to do a clever riff on Eliot Spitzer’s sudden and mighty fall from grace. The team will hold “Eliot Spitzer” night on June 13th in his honor...and no, they won’t be giving away time with prostitutes. But there will be tongue-in-cheek fun.

The ninth fan, otherwise known as Client No. 9, into the ballpark will receive a free Music prize pack. Perhaps they’ll be wearing a Client No. 9 shirt? They should be ready by then. Fans bearing the names Eliot, Kristen, or Spitzer, those from New York, and anyone who has ever resigned a position will get $1 off admission. Since quitting a job is the same thing as resigning, shouldn’t everyone just get a dollar off then? The wire taps set up around the stadium that night by the team will be sure to catch something too, shouldn’t they?

Spitzer himself has been invited by the team to attend the game in his honor, but apparently has yet to accept or decline. Don’t count on that one...but count on some Macon fun.

10 March 2008

Chelsea's Drogba Can't Buy Love, But He Can Buy Plenty Of His Own Jerseys

The age-old adage says that money can't buy love. But money can sure buy some things - popularity, friends, image - for example. And money can buy jerseys, which one soccer player believes will lead all that and more.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba hasn't been feeling the love lately. He may have led the Premier League in goals last season, but popularity hasn't followed him the way he'd hoped. Sales of his replica jerseys have fallen short of his teammates John Terry and Frank Lampard. And since scoring goals hasn't helped him rise in the jersey-sale charts, Drogba is doing the next best thing. He's buying up his own jerseys. Lots of them.

The 29-year-old, originally from the Ivory Coast, has reportedly spent thousands of pounds on replica shirts in a bid to try and convince his team-mates he is just as much of a crowd favourite as they are.One Chelsea insider claimed Drogba visits the club shop up to 10 times a week and on one occasion walked out of the store with 40 shirts priced at approximately £45 each, setting him back £1,800.
Since he makes makes around £70,000 per week, I guess that's nothing for Drogba. And like his goal-scoring, never underestimate his drive. You know, to buy jerseys...

A Stamford Bridge source revealed: "Dids is never out of the club shop. He is spending a fortune. He is on first name terms with the staff and is easily their best customer."

It seems strange, but it wouldn't' be a far stretch to see someone like Gilbert Arenas doing this exact same thing. Gilbert currently ranks 7th in jersey sales this season. But fear not, out with a knee injury, Gilbert has plenty of time on his hands to wrangle up all the jerseys he can find.

09 March 2008

Beijing 2008's Anti-Piracy Message Doesn't Go Both Ways

UPDATE: That was quick! The game has already been taken down from the Beijing 2008 site...With the 2008 Summer Olympics just around the corner the message has been made abundantly clear: don't mess with China. For example, pirating any sort of Olympics-related products won't be tolerated. Yet this notion doesn't seem to go both ways, as it seems the Beijing Olympics have been doing some piracy of their own.

If you were to head to the "Fun Page" of Beijing's official Olympics page, you'd find a game called "Fuwa Fight the Winter Clouds." It's right smack dab on the front page. It also seems to be a carbon copy of a game called "Snow Day," made by a company called The Pencil Farm. Take a look for yourself - it seems pretty clear.

Says the creator of "Snow Day":

I’d also like to point out that this is not just a clone of my game. They didn’t see my game and set out to make a similar game. They actually stole my game. I’ll say it again:
The Olympics stole my game.
They downloaded the swf file from my site, decompiled it, swapped out the little guy for the Fuwa characters, took my name off of it and republished it as their own. I can tell this is what happened because they are still using some of my original art from Snow Day (the clouds and the ice cube are exactly the same). I also took the liberty of decompiling their game and actually found it still contains the sound files from Snow Day, even though they aren’t being used in the Olympic version.
That's rough, isn't it? With all the fun Olympic-related fun we've had thus far, nothing can be all that surprising. And here's guessing the months leading up to the games will get even better.

The Beijing Olympic Committee has a place on its website where you can report violations of Olympic intellectual property. But the question begs - where can we report infringements done by the Olympics themselves?

05 March 2008

Diamond-Crusted Raiders Compact? That's Just What The Black Hole Needs!

Last week we learned that if USC fans really want to show their true spirit, they’d buy their gear from Nike and Pete Carroll. If you’re an NFL fan though, it’s a lot harder than that. As the NFL Hardlines VI Trade Show this week showed, the opportunities for NFL fans to drop some dough on officially licensed merchandise is almost limitless.

Indianapolis Colts soap dispenser – check. Leather Miami Dolphins executive office chair – check. New Orleans Saints Musical BBQ Fork – check. Oakland Raiders Swarovski football-shaped compact adorned with crystals – check on that too. When you think of the Oakland Raiders such an item most certainly doesn’t come to mind. Nonetheless, those go for as much as $3,000.

"It's a wonderful way to support your team in style," said Kathrine Baumann, who starred in the 1979 TV movie Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. "And what a great opportunity for a girl to carry one of these and meet a guy who has this same passion, football. … When you open this up anywhere he's going to immediately see a woman that shares his passion, and he's going to think, 'Oh my gosh, I've got someone to watch the game with on Sunday.'"
Yep, that’s exactly what female members of the Black Hole must be thinking to themselves right about now. All four of them. Season tickets, or diamond-studded compact. That’s a tough choice, isn’t it? And if the trade show taught us anything, it’s not just that there are some very creative people out there, but that there’s something for just about any NFL fan you could imagine.

Don't Ever Queston Kyle Korver's Defensive Skills

This photo is from last week, when the Timberwolves beat the Jazz 111-100. And as you can see here, at least 2 of Rashad McCants' 22 points came against some tight defense from Kyle Korver. Is this the new method of taking a charge? I think Ashton would've done a better acting job here than this...

(Photo Credit: David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images)

04 March 2008

Jeremy Bridges’ Wild Court Case Comes To An End

When Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges was found guilty in November of assault by pointing a gun, it initially seemed to be your run-of-the-mill athlete breaking the law case. He was outside of a strip club, yada yada yada, his friends got in a fight, yada yada yada, and Bridges then went and got his gun out of his car and pointed it at someone.

It seemed routine until the court case. That is, the court case that turned into an absurd side-show that even “Law & Order” couldn’t beat.

One of the witnesses against Bridges, Michael Fowler, showed up to testify wearing a black evening dress with a gold belt and matching high-heeled shoes. Since it was a sleeveless dress, the “Mike Mike” tattoo on his left arm was clearly visible.

When Fowler took the stand that day, Laughrun asked “Is it Mr. Fowler, or Miss Fowler?” to an immediate objection from prosecution attorneys as Fowler huffed “Mister.”
Do you think the court reporter added a "laughter filled the room" to the transcript of the proceedings? Then there was one of the accuser’s friends, who was almost as good.
Coleman’s witnesses also included her pregnant ex-girlfriend, though she set the stage for that when one of her first statements under oath was “I don’t even date men,” when asked about her relationship with Bridges’ friend Darrell Bennett.
Bridges was sentenced to a suspended sentence and community service, while also being suspended for two game by the Panthers. Up until today he had been appealing the judgment, but after receiving assurances from the NFL that he would incur no further penalties, the appeal was rescinded. And while it may have been a wise choice on Bridges’ part, the public really is the one suffering. For the circus that was sure to follow most defeinitely would have been worth whatever it would have cost the tax-payers.

02 March 2008

The Dodgers Would Like To Forget Their Former Steroid Users

You may not know Frank Luntz, but he's a researcher who tests messages, marketing and polling on what words would work best in order to sell policies or people. He's long worked for the GOP, helping to, among other things, turn "Global Warming" into "Climate Change," allowing the party to soften the debate and seriousness of the issue. And now his firm is working for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That the Dodgers have hired Luntz and his firm is interesting, but that's not really the story. Because I purchased a mini-plan last year from the team I was asked to participate in their survey. And since I love the team, I didn't mind spending the estimated nine minutes answering their questions.

There was one question that stood out, and it's shown above. "And who of the following is your favorite Dodger of all time," it asked. You can see my first two answers above, but as I looked around for my third choice I noticed two notable absences. Just where were two of the most popular Dodgers in recent memory, Eric Gagne and Paul Lo Duca? Oh, that's right. Those two just happened to be prominently named in the Mitchell Report.

The team is clearly trying to distance themselves from their steroid-laden past. While steroids surely didn't help them win any playoff series, they sure had plenty of users on their teams. And so the distancing has begun. And even if they should, didn't they do such a thing by ridding themselves of the players?

The Dodgers may not want a focus on their once-juiced employees, but I'm sure few fans will forget the emotion they felt when "Welcome to the Jungle" roared throughout the stadium and Gagne came thundering through the bullpen doors. "Game Over," they called it, and a rock concert it really was. I won't forget, and I miss those games. And that's why I bet I'm not alone in penciling Gagne into the "someone else" section on the survey.