Thursday, April 30, 2009

Master Of Puppets

No, not Al Davis or Jerry Jones. I'm talking about Disney.

I just returned from taking my girlfriend to Disneyland for her birthday because that's all she wanted was a trip to Disneyland.

Aside from the patrons with Forrest Gump IQ's, screaming children who were too young to actually enjoy a theme park, and rip-offs around every corner to make your wallet float like it was filled with helium, I have to admit that Disneyland is indeed a magical little place.

My girlfriend has informed me that the reason it's so wonderful is because of the all the characters and puppets running around between the rides to make everywhere you go look like a fantasy world.

Okay, I guess I can't argue with that.

So as a tribute to Disney and because I don't have my NFL Draft stuff with me, I give you four of my favorite youtube videos involving fantasy or puppets. Not necessarily Disney, but they all involve the mellifluous or bumptious voices of some weird-ass puppets and creatures.

The first is just the Lord of the Rings set to the Muppet's theme song. Good editing and one of my favorite songs:

This one is too long, but you can stop halfway through. I just love watching Bert and Ernie thrash.

The great Beaker sings (or beeps) Ode to Joy and things go horribly awry.

Finally, Beaker is joined by friends Chef and Animal to sing "Danny Boy".

I'm sure there are other Muppet masterpieces that I haven't seen, so please let me know what I've missed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Googled NFL Draft 2009 And Got This...

I think the Raiders drafted him in the second round because they heard he could climb New York buildings and crush cars. Al Davis didn't seem worried that he would melt under the sun and was petrified of s'mores.

Well, I just returned from the NFL Draft with some audio that I will post soon, but I'm stuck in L.A. without my computer, so I must ask you to wait a few days before I deliver the goods.

I know, terrible idea right? I'll apologize to all six people who read this in the future.

Happy NFL New Year.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Secretly, They're In Love

I don't know if you've heard, but apparently the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox don't really like each other.

From the fans:

To the players:

To celebrities:

But from what I learned in Junior High, when two people spend so much time gainsaying that they like each other, actually do like each other. So while Red Sox fans scream cooties and Yankees fans refuse to dance with the Red Sox fan at spring social, they actually both have dreams about each other that makes them feel kind of warm and funny.

Taking that middle school knowledge, I fully expect the Red Sox and Yankees to hook up in the future though they will deny it. The truth will eventually come out though when they're caught making out in the back room at Jason Simpson's house.

You can't hide it forever Yankee and Red Sox fans.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mocking Drafts

I'm off to the large apple tomorrow to visit my friends and one NFL draft. Here are some of the mock drafts from some of the major names. Let's see who gets it closest to correct.

It's nearly impossible to predict the NFL draft beforehand because of trades and sudden news like Percy Harvin failing a drug test, so this is not my invidious way of making fun of draft experts.

Unless it's Mel Kiper Jr. That guy is a total douche.

Here are your players:

Rick Gosselin: writer for the Dallas Morning News and a big time know-it-all of all things draft.

Peter King: Sports Illustrated. Loves to regale with NFL tales, but his breath reeks of coffee. And his teeth are stained. So it's hard to be regaled by the regaler.

Evan Silva: He of Rotoworld fame. Not sure if he's drafting as he thinks about his fantasy team, but he's in the know.

Ourlads: Some of the most in depth analysis of the NFL Draft. Still can't predict future though. Or can they? No, I'm pretty sure they can't.

NFL Network talking heads: These four are the guys that give you their mock drafts. I don't think any of them hold a candle to Mike Mayock who loves to lisp the term "in ssspace".

And, of course, our two favorite ESPN talking butt-wads:

Todd McShay: not so bad

Mel Kiper Jr.- takes himself WAY too seriously and just seems like a stuffy person who could have been president of the Young Republicans in college.

You will notice that only the ESPN "experts" don't give you the whole first round of the draft unless you pay them. Yay Disney!

So there you go. That's what the experts say. Let's see how close they are. And most of all, let's get hammered and watch large men in suits stand up on a stage for seven hours.

NFL Draft is coming!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Smile, You're Draft Stock Has Just Been Whammied!

We are just a few measly days away from NFL Christmas where every team gets to open up their presents and see which new players will turn around the franchise or send it down in flames.

For the
past months, potential draft picks have been subjected to ridiculous amounts of testing, prodding, poking, and performance. It's much like stories I've heard about sorority hazing in college sans the tears. Scouts will mark a prospect down if his hands aren't big enough, he has allergies, he tends to like candy apples....any peccadillo will get a big red "X".

And they will definitely mark a prospect down if he fails a drug test. No other bit of information can send a high end prospect tumbling i
n the draft (just ask Warren Sapp about that.)

So what happens when reporters are wrong about failed tests? Most legit news sources tend to fact check their sources before going public (with the exception of ESPN who tends to put being first ahead of petty things like being correct), but bloggers don't have to follow that lead.

Obviously if a blogger is wrong too often, they lose all credibility, but tell that to B.J. Raji who was a sure-fire top 10 pick before he allegedly failed a drug test. And when a site called the NFL Bible drops a news hit, people tend to listen. Raji maintains his innocence, but we've heard that before. Every player denies wrong doing until they are caught red-handed. It's like a big game to them.

em is that Raji is telling the truth. He didn't fail a drug test. Neither did Brian Cushing or Vontae Davis. The NFL Bible has removed the accusations from the website and has issued an apology. The drug allegations shouldn't affect the draft stock of the players. This year.

But what if the NFL Bible didn't come out and admit wrong doing? What if a blogger was a big Redskins fan who wanted Raji to fall to their team at pick 13? Hell, what if a member of a coaching staff decided to just throw some anonymous information out on the web to see if they could get a player they wanted to fall?

Teams are investing millions of dollars in these players and the last thing the team wants is a bust of a pick. All officials need is a hint that there could be a future problem and they will pass on a pick they might have made otherwise.

It's a dangerous environment for these players to conduct job interviews. Warren Sapp would probably agree and I'll believe him. Because he's cocaine free since at least 1994!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Too Much?

If you take a casual look around interweb of sports today, you will find a story about some trash talk issued by Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks towards St. Louis Blues center David Backes.

Most of the talk is your run of the mill verbal sparring you might hear in any tense sporting contest. A bit of name calling, a little physical threat to his twig and berries, letting Backes know that Burrows and Kesler are stormy petrels who will be looking for him all game. It's all standard trash talk in an attempt to get an opposing player to stop concentrating on the game.

Then the Vancouver duo brought Backes wife into the conversation. Backes didn't seem too upset by it and the talk was passed off as just a conversation between a couple of gamers.

But when does the talk go too far (if it can)? Backes has a hot wife and he can laugh it off as a pathetic attempt at getting under his skin. Would he do the same thing if Kessler and B
urrows were talking about his kids? What if he has a retarded kid that gets mentioned, or a stillborn child?

A lot
can be said in the heat of the moment and you never know the length some players will go to for a competitive edge. We already saw Sean Avery get suspended this year for claiming that Calgary Flame forward Jerome Iginla was dating his "sloppy seconds" in Canadian-born actress Elisha Cuthburt (of '24' fame). Avery said it to a throng of reporters before a game in an obvious pre-meditated move.

You might pass off Avery's comments as a stupid cheap shot by a man described as the NHL's biggest pest. You might think it was funny and Cuthbert is just a hussy anyways. Or you could find the comment a disturbing example of how far someone will go to goad another player.

We don't know what is said on the field or ice, especially during the play
offs. That's the way athletes like it. Say what you want on the field as long as you leave it on the field. But now that we have audio and cameras everywhere, the talk won't stay with the players.

I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before someone goes overboard with the talk and horrifies fans prompting a league commissioner to address the situation.

Elisha Cuthbert would be happy with that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Change It Up

So I was checking out television ratings for the two major sports that are in the post season right now and I'm sure my findings won't surprise you. The NHL, the sport which has the quiddity of being played on ice, is averaging less than than a .5 viewer rating in these here United States. On the flip side, the NBA playoffs usually average around an 8.0 viewer rating that can go higher if the Spurs aren't playing.

This year
shouldn't be any different as the Stanley Cup playoffs wallow around in ratings obscurity on a channel that likes to promote shows about bass fishing.

My question is WHY?!

Look, I know the chances that any of the six people reading this actually played hockey at some point of their life are minuscule which makes the sport more difficult to follow, but I'm begging you, just give hockey a chance.

Go watch a playoff game being played in Boston, Chicago, or God forbid, Calgary. Then compare it to the playof
f atmosphere at the Staple Center when the Lakers take the court. There isn't even a comparison. It's like comparing fraternities on "Animal House." One sits around and discusses how wonderful they are, the other throws beer kegs out the window and rides a motorcycle through the house.

And here's the big point for the NHL vs. the NBA playoffs: several of the teams in the NHL playoffs have an ice rink's chance in hell of actually making the cup finals. Yes, Detroit is the defending champ and will be tough to knock off, but San Jose, Anaheim, Calgary, Chicago, Vancouver....all these teams have a legit shot to pummel their way to the Stanley Cup finals. It's happened over and over again.

Last year the fifth seeded Dallas Stars and sixth seeded Philly Flyers made it to the conference finals. Over
the past few years a fourth, sixth, and eighth seed have all made it to the Stanley Cup finals. And the best news is that over the past 20 years, only two teams (Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils) have taken home the Stanley Cup more than twice. If any team makes it into the playoffs with some momentum, it can do some serious damage.

In comparison, the NBA hasn't had a team below a four seed make the Finals in recent
memory. And you can nearly count the champions of the past 25 years (Celtics, Spurs, Heat, Lakers, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets) on one hand. The Celtics, Spurs, Lakers, Pistons, and Bulls have all won at least three NBA championships in that time frame.

This year, I'll start watching the NBA playoffs when a team wins three games against the Lakers or Cavs. Sure, I'll watch the Mavs and Spurs just for the rivalry and I enjoy watching what Chris Paul can do, but it's all just for grins. Until someone tests LeBron or Kobe, I can just sit back and wait until June to tune in.

Just watch a few NHL playoff games. Listen to the crowd bang on the glass and steal player's sticks. Listen to how the place explodes when a goal is scored. Then go to your computer and check what happened in the NBA. You won't miss too much.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shhhh....It's Getting Quieter On The Picture Box

So Stephen A. Smith is leaving ESPN. After four years of making our ear drums bleed, Screaming Stephen A. Smith is no longer going to give us his version of basketball discussion on ESPN.

I'm sure you can tell I'm broken up. While four years is pretty ephemeral in terms of a career, I felt Smith was on television dog years. Every show
or appearance he made seemed like seven to me.

A New York
Daily news columnist contends that "anyone intelligent enough to get past the screaming shtick found a mouth with a conscience. A guy with a different perspective on things." I guess so. But that was one hell of a shtick to get past. I can't have a guy screaming at me for minutes at a time. Go to boot camp if you want that.

I just wonder how that meeting went with the ESPN executive went that led to Smith's departure:

ESPN: C'mon in Stephen. Would you like something to drink?


ESPN: Yeah, about that. We are getting several complaints that you are blowing speakers out of television sets. I'm not sure if we can renew your contract.


ESPN: You kn
ow how we run things here Stephen. We contrive a personality, shove it down America's throat and then run with it as long as they will accept that personality. They are no longer accepting yours.


ESPN: That was years ago Stephen. You're still yelling. I think that might be a permanent affliction.....oh, hi Skip, come in.




Smith: THAT'S

ESPN: Well, I think you answered your own question Stephen. Skip pisses everyone off. It's a formula that works for Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and many others.


ESPN: I know Stephen, but this is the way it has to be.

ESPN Receptionist: Troy Aikman is on the phone. He says he wants Skip out front at noo
n so they can finally "settle" the gay accusations Bayless made about him a decade ago.


Ah, a typical day in Bristol....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Boom! Went The Broadcaster

Frank Caliendo is the saddest man in America today.

The crown jewel of his impressions, John Madden, has just left the building. Sure, Caliendo can spend the next year or two doing bits about Madden's retirement activities between telestrators, buses, and food, but slowly the act will tire.

And what about the football fan? Will football ever be the same without the crazy man talking in unintelligible bits? No other broadcaster leaves an impression. They're all just the generic, etiolated pairing of a play-by-play guy with a former player. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are solid, but not fun. Tony Siragusa has the jolly size of Madden, but he has the broadcasting skills of a gimp and is generally a large waste of pants.

Sure Madden got on your nerves sometimes with his ramblings, but he gave voice to the fat guys on the line, showed us how cool it could be to travel by bus, and showed us what you can do with a digital pen during boring games. He was a quote machine and may have taken the game seriously, but never himself.

John Madden is to football what Yogi Berra is to baseball.

We don't even need to get into the Madden video games which have been played by possibly every football f
an in America. I'm pretty sure my 80 year old grandfather knew what Madden games were.

Madden's greatness stemmed from a love of the game and a love for the personalities in
the game. Even when he was the Raiders coach back in the 60's and 70's (when it was fun to be a Raiders fan) he let his players act however they wanted as long as they prepared for the games. There were a few incidents, but no one shot himself in the leg or got arrested eight times on multiple drug charges. (I know that could be because players back then didn't make the crazy money they do money, mo problems, but the fact is they didn't.)

If a player wanted to ride a horse out to the practice field, drink margaritas in the locker room, or hang naked by a ceiling fan, it was fine with Madden as long as everyone showed up on time and practiced hard. His players constantly say how they appreciated the freedom and wanted to win for Madden.

That love of personalities obviously translated to the broadcast booth. Madden would regale us with his love of Brett Favre or Hines Ward and he helped turn Dallas Cowboys generic fullback Darryl Jonston into an NFL sensation who heard his "Mooooooose!" calls in every stadium. In a sport wh
ere most coaches squash any individuality by players, Madden found a way to bring the personalities to our living rooms.

I wonder if that's why Madden retired...Brett Favre is gone.

Here are just a few of the classic Madden quotes over the years:

"The road to easy street goes through the sewer.”

“When you get hit like that it’s like having a bumble-bee stuck in your helmet, you just can’t get rid of it!”

“The goal of football is to score more points than your opponent.”

"Hey, the offensive linemen are the biggest guys on the field, they're bigger than everybody else, and that's what makes them the biggest guys on the field."

“Wasn’t “Vixen” the name of one of Santa’s reindeer?”

“Whenever you talk about a Mike Shananhan offense, you always talk about his offense.”

“That wasn’t a boom Al, that was more like a WACK!”

"If you see a defense team with dirt and mud on their backs they've had a bad day."

“Here’s a guy who when he runs, he moves faster.”

“From the waist down, Earl Campbell has the biggest legs I have ever seen on a running back.”

"They'll score if they can just get into the endzone."

“Yes, turns out yellow and red make green, I found this out when I spilled yellow mustard on my red tie and it turned lime green not orange.”

He was fat, crazy, loud, and occaisionally senile, but John Madden brought his love of everything football to us. He will be missed. He won't be replaced.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tomorrow Is Only A Day Away...Plus A Few Months

Happy Tax Day! I didn't realize this was such a holiday until food chains started giving away deals. Maybe it's an outre maneuver by NASA to take our minds away from the fact that the space program screwed over Stephen Colbert. DAMN YOU NASA!!!!!! At least they will name a space treadmill after him.

In other parts of the world, in particular the American sports part, the entity known as the NFL schedule has been released to the rabid fans. The NFL has already done the homework and has given us what they think are the ten must see games of next season. Naturally, the Colts versus the Patriots is once again the biggest game of the season. Pats and Colts fans need to savor this because to be the premier match-up for an entire decade happens....well it happens when your team drafts a Hall of Fame QB.

Some things I've seen on the schedule:

The Super Bowl champs played what was considered the toughest NFL schedule last year. This year the Steelers start off with salty couple of weeks against the Titans and Bears. Then the Steelers get to avoid too many more defense grudge matches. Over the next ten games, they play the Benglas twice, the Broncos, the Chiefs, the Raiders, the Lions, and the Browns. Looks like Ben Toothlesberger is safe.

That other team in the Super Bowl? They get three national television games! That's right, the Cardinals will be seen by the nation three different times! And all it took was a Super Bowl appearance!

Of course, while the Cardinals have three national appearances, the Cowboys, a team that didn't even make the playoffs last year and ended the season with a hide-tanning loss to the Eagles, get six national games. I guess some things never change.

Don't get too upset with the Cowboys television love fest. They have an NFL schedule with eight games against the NFC East grinder plus games against the Panthers, at Denver, the Falcons, the Packers, the Chargers, and Saints.

The inner-conference match-ups have:

NFC East playing the AFC West---Al Davis and Jerry Jones on the same field. Can the new Cowboys stadium hold the two egos or will the place
explode in one giant fireball of Thanksgiving glory?

NFC South playing the AFC East---Will Saints fans feel better about their city when they visit Buffalo? Will Vegas have a line in the Patriots/Saints match-up where fans can bet whether they think Fred Taylor or Reggie Bush will get injured first?

NFC West playing the AFC South---Peyton versus Warner should be fun. Pretty sure no one in the NFC West has seen a D like Tennessee has. Mike Singletary vs. Jack Del Rio....who will make a bigger spectacle?

NFC North playing the AFC North---some tough D's and one pretty big QB addition. But is Sage Ro
senfels ready to play the Steelers and Ravens? Oh, and Jay Cutler is there too.

The one glaring weakness in the schedule? There are no Bears vs. Broncos. The NFL needs the Bears visiting the Broncos to take advantage
of the off-season saga. Oh well.

The toughest NFL schedules?
1.Miami (opponents .594 winning %)
2.Carolina (.592)
3. New England (.590)

The easiest schedules?
32. Bears (.414)

31. Vikings (.420)
30. Packers (.428)

I'm guessing the NFC North having Detroit twice plus Cincy and Cleveland on their schedules helps make them easy.

Miami may have the toughest schedule according to last season's records. But remember, two years ago the Dolphins were the NFL's worst team and then made the playoffs last year. So schedule strength really doesn't mean a thing.

Unless it's the Lions. They still suck.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Damn You Technology!

One of the downfalls of doing a blog is the pickle you get yourself into if your internet goes out. Mine has been out all day long and you, my faithful blog readers have suffered. Though probably not much.

But never fear, the NFL schedule has been released and I am quite busy printing it out. We will have much discussion when I return to the 21st century.

Until then, you stay classy Planet SportsPants.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Generation of Philly Phans Mourn

If you grew up as a sports fan, you probably have a certain voice etched into your head. It was the the susurrus that you went to sleep listening to or the sound you equate with running around in the front yard and throwing the ball.

Everyone knows the famous voices like Harry Carey, Myron Cope, and Jack Buck. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. You don't know how popular a sports announcer is until you actually live in city he talks to.

For an entire generation of Phillies supporters, today marked the end of an era with the death of long time announcer Harry Kalas (he's been broadcasting Philly baseball since 1971.) I don't like Philadelphia, or the fans, or the sports teams that play there, but I understand the loss of a legendary voice.

And Kalas was definitely legendary. He belongs in the same class with the Careys and Copes of the world.

I didn't think I knew him since I don't like Philadelphia teams or fans. But I know I've seen NFL Films. If you ever watched Inside the NFL on HBO, then you've heard Kalas. He's the voice on all of the game replays.

Hell, my girlfriend is taking his death has hard as I am because Kalas is even the voice of the Puppy Bowls that are played every Super Bowl Sunday.

So today give that obnoxious Philadelphian in your office a break today. They just lost the only voice the Phillies have had since Nixon was sitting in the White House being paranoid. And all sports fans lost a man who they may not recognize in person, but whose voice ushers in a warm feeling from the past.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What Is This Thing You Call Emotion?

In the aftermath of the tragic Nick Adenhart death, the Angels held a press conference to try and move on. During the press conference, super agent Scott Boras spoke about his client and then did something that confused me: he broke down and cried.

It makes perfect sense for a man to cry after the senseless death of a 22 year old with so much promise, but I've just never seen Boras as human before. Maybe this tragedy portends a newer, softer, more caring Boras! Okay, I won't get ahead of myself.

I'm sure Boras cried naturally and was honestly broken up about the accident, but you'll forgive me if I'm a bit out of sorts with his display of compassion. This is an agent who has been described as the baseball anti
-christ (Happy Easter!)

His hard-nosed negotiations have destroyed baseball teams and spawned countless jokes about his ruthlessness. It's even to the point where certain teams will not draft talented players due to the fact they are a Boras client.

The most infamous deal out of many is when Boras got Rangers owner Tom Hicks to
bid against himself to sign A-Rod to the most ridiculous deal (over $250 million) ever heard of in baseball. For years, the Rangers refused to have anything to do with a Boras client.

Boras isn't any more evil than the baseball owners. Players love his ability to get them money, but he has proven that money is valued above all else which doesn't sit well with fans like me. There's just something unsettling about taking Johnnn
y Damon from the Red Sox and signing him to the Yankees. I think Boras has devolved Mark Teixeira's reputation to that of a simple mercienary after moving him from Texas to the Braves and Angels before finally signing yet another huge deal with the Yankees.

Fans like me want baseball to be a bit more than roving pen of free-agents who will all inevitably sign with the Yankees. The financial set up makes this dream seem impossible and Boras just reminds me of the failed state every time he rips a player from a team and sends him to a big market for the money.

Yet I just saw that Boras is human and I'm flummoxed. But happy. Maybe things will change one day.