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2010 in review

2 Jan

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 49,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

 

In 2010, there were 9 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 32 posts. There were 35 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 24th with 4 views. The most popular post that day was Crunch Time In The Bayou.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were search.aol.com, 74.125.67.100, virtualcontentca.com, facebook.com, and images.yandex.ru.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for kim kardashian, mark sanchez, tim tebow, kim kardashian pictures, and fat girl black bikini.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Crunch Time In The Bayou January 2010

2

Fat Tits & Fatsis: Hey, the NFL is back! September 2009

3

Sexy March Insanity with Presidential Trimmings March 2009

4

BEWARE! Tiger free zone! December 2009

5

The Playoff Payoff January 2010

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BEWARE! Tiger free zone!

5 Dec

Sweet Home Alabama

That’s obviously a lie, because there is currently no other news, sports or otherwise in this country.

I’m pretty sure during the screaming 24-7 HOLLYWOOD ACCESS EXTRA! TMZ FOX LA coverage I may have passed out and woken up in a parallel universe where the sex life of a short balding ethnic guy is somehow an event on par with the assassination of a President, and/or the SEC championship game (more on that later).

This being LA my ‘talking bullshit with the boys at the pub’ happens at 7.30 in the morning in a Coffee Bean in Century City. So this morning our group spent 30 minutes ACTING OUT ALL THE POSSIBLE TIGER/ELIN SCENARIOS. By the end of our latte’s we’d written 3/4’s of the Lifetime movie. You’ve probably done the same just without the McKee script rules.

This is nuts.

Man got road beef.

Man is rich, famous.

This is news?

He is also bald (he keeps that baseball cap nailed to his head for a reason), completely uncharismatic in person and is the best in the world at a useless skill masquerading as a sport.

Golf was invented by the Scots folks. The people that gave us Curling.

Its maintained by people who like living in gated communities and think beige chinos are chic. Who make moves on each other’s wives like it was 1974, yet act hurt and surprised if wifey is banging her trainer while they are at the 19th hole cracking dirty jokes with a waitress younger than their daughter. The ONLY positive about this whole thing is we will eventually get to see entire issues of PLAYBOY/MAXIM/HUSTLER devoted to his greatest ‘strokes’.

And finally, where was our boy Steve Williams in all this?

Elin has an identical TWIN. You bag that duo Tiger and I'll finally be impressed.

NFL GAMES WORTH CHEATING ON ELIN FOR:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS v MIAMI DOLPHINS

The Patriots are running out of gas on their dynasty, and no-one really wants to admit it. Tom may never be the 2007 Tom again, and there are just too many holes on defense now for the Pats to hold anybody. We are watching a heavyweight in decline, and that’s just fine. They gave us a great decade.
Miami need to show some fire through a whole game. They are really well coached, but just seem to lack that little spark that would lift them into the elite. For Miami, next year’s draft will be VERY important. Still, they can scare anybody right now, and this will be a tough, wily game. It kills me to say it, but I think Miami take it.

TENNESSEE TITANS v INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

This game is all about Titans running back Chris Johnson and Indy’s defense. Peyton and his boys will take care of scoring for Indy, but its up to the Indy defense to stop Johnson’s power and Vince Young’s luck. It’s so great to see the Vincester play well, and scare people. 9 wins in a row as a starting QB in this league is no fluke. However, if his streak falls here (and probably Tennessee’s playoff hopes with it) no-one will chastise him for it. Indianapolis are a good team led by the greatest football player playing right now.

BALTIMORE RAVENS v GREEN BAY PACKERS

If you haven’t watched all of ‘The Wire’ yet I refuse to speak to you.

ADBREAK

Yes, I’m easily amused.

GAMES WORTH INVITING STEVE IN FOR A ‘SPITROAST’

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES v ATLANTA FALCONS

The Eagles are doing their standard end of season run, and Atlanta are stuck in 2nd gear. Anyone remember Michael Vick? He looks good holding that clipboard. There will be Atlanta fans who will cheer him for still breathing, but he will play little to no part in a decisive Philly win.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS v WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Oh I’m going to enjoy this. I’m going to enjoy every minute of this cosmic level beatdown. I loath the current Redskins on so many levels. Feast on them Mr Brees. Eat them alive.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS v ARIZONA CARDINALS

We still love you Matt Leinart, oh king of the Cali hot tub. You’re about 1/100th as talented as your opponent Brett Favre, but hey, you’ve still got some rope with me. If this NFL thing doesn’t work out Adrien Grenier is always looking for a wingman.

COLLEGE GAME WORTH CHEATING ON THE NORDEGREN TWINS FOR:

ALABAMA v FLORIDA, SEC Championship Game, Atlanta

You want a football slugfest? This is a football slugfest.

Two teams loaded with talent take each other on for HUGE personal stakes, and a spot in the BCS Championship Game.

For ‘Bama this is a return to the promised land for a program steeped in history and with some of the most enthusiastic boosters in College Football. And its almost complete redemption for Nick Saban, a college football god who took LSU to the Championship in ’03 and building the team that won in ’07 before almost destroying his reputation during a stint in the NFL. As Colin Cowherd put it this morning, they run an offense straight out of 1968, but it sure works.

For the Gator’s Tim Tebow this is a crucial step on his path to actual deification.

Tim kicking back after 5 hours of bible class

The cult of personality that surrounds this guy would be nauseating if he wasn’t as good on and off the field as advertised.
In terms of media/fan/coach fawning (Florida’s Urban Meyer broke down crying talking about Tebow this week) Tebow-mania has no real parallels. It is all-encompassing. Even Snoop Dog praised him on national TV today.
Should Florida NOT win this game the legend would take a mighty hit.
These guys will probably forgive him though.

– Mark Tierney

This week in the Not For Laughs League……

18 Sep
I would, but then she might actually be a Chargers fan....

I would, but then she might actually be a Chargers fan....

Ok, so sometimes I have to actually work for a living. So this week it’s strictly the facts. And tits. Whew, thank god for the tits.

HIGHLIGHT GAMES:

SKY 2 4.30pm MONDAY (delayed)

DETROIT LIONS v MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Wow. Talk about age vs beauty. Last week septuagenarian Brett Favre handed off to the awesome Adrian Petersen (see below) and the Vikes won. Same recipe, new week. As long as they can stop Favre throwing the ball, they look REALLY good. This is absolutely the most nuts strategy in the NFL. Bring in, at HUGE negative PR cost a veteran legendary gunslinger to stand around and hand off. Make that a VERY EXPENSIVE veteran legend gunslinger. Well, can’t argue with success I guess. Meanwhile blond, blue-eyed Matthew Stafford was drafted by the Lions to usher in a new era. Not this week. Perhaps not ever. The Lions get shellacked, and Petersen beats his 180 yards from last week.

David Fincher’s new Nike ad starring the rather alien-like Mr Petersen:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS v NEW YORK JETS

Ok, the Patriots looked rusty last week and the Jets looked really good. Appearances can be deceptive. Rex Ryan’s cool voicemail aside  I think the Pats show real dominance here, even though they are on the road at New York. The big battle will be in the chests of women everywhere (and more than a few gay men) as the two major dreamboats of the NFL face off. To choose the real winner let us compare their girlfriends:

Damn that Brady's good.

Damn that Brady's good.

NEW ORLEANS v PHILEDELPHIA

Drew Brees is an enigma. He’s apparently a very nice guy, plays hard, a terrific quarterback, and will one day take Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season. Why then do I dislike him so much? Because I do. I really do.  Totally irrational. Philly meanwhile now has a surfeit of quarterbacks after signing the great bald one Jeff Garcia this week. The rather inept Kevin Kolb is due to start, but come on. If McNabb (injured last week) can’t go next week or Kolb makes a dick of himself early in this one (highly likely) then Vick will enter next week, backed up by the able Garcia, who may actually see action in this game after being on his couch a week ago. I’d love to give this to Philly just for releasing the very annoying reality star Hank Baskett, but New Orleans look too good. God I hate Drew Brees.

The freshly unemployed Mr Baskett & his Playboy meal ticket.

The freshly unemployed Mr Baskett & his Playboy meal ticket.

NEW YORK GIANTS v DALLAS COWBOYS

Dallas are finally starting to look good now that Mr Romo’s banging some new young tail and Mr Owens has left the (very large and very new) building. The strange career of Eli Manning continues, but its the return of stud defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora that is the real difference here. Mr Romo will taste the fine new turf at the new Dallas stadium many times in this game. It’s close this one, but Dallas take it.

– Mark Tierney

Perfection, Presidents & Yoga Butt

24 Jul
pg1

Both these men bleed for the White Sox. Sadly, only one of them can actually pitch.

One of Barack Obama’s favourite phrases over the last year is “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
It’s from Voltaire and the way he means it, it makes a lot of sense. Better to do SOMETHING positive now than delay until you’ve found the ‘perfect’ solution.

Except Yesterday.

Yesterday, a baseball pitcher slipped into a historically important category and just to show that whatever’s happening with his economic reboot Obama hasn’t lost his sporting mojo, it was a White Sox pitcher to boot.

Mark Buehrle (pronounced burly and splendidly accurate that is) pitched a Perfect Game against Tampa Bay.
27 batters faced, 27 retired with no walks or errors. Only 18 of them have EVER been thrown in baseball’s long history, because even if you have everything and a ton of luck working for you as a pitcher, that will only guarantee a no-hitter.
That’s not a small thing (usually only 1 or 2 no-hitters are thrown in a 2,300+ game season) but it’s not the great white whale that is The Perfect Game. Because for a Perfect Game to occur you need your team-mates to be perfect as well.
A single error in the field (a misjudged bounce that a player should have caught or fielded, a ball falling out of a hand as he threw, any one of a million basic failures of hand/eye co-ordination) and a runner may get on base without technically spoiling the ‘no hitter’. But the Perfect Game is gone.

Whenever a pitcher starts edging toward a no-hitter, when about the 5th inning everyone becomes aware that something amazing might be happening,  the entire team starts to move differently. There’s more urgency in the dives for groundballs hit into the hole, a bit more zip on the throws to first. The custom is to not speak to the pitcher from then on unless you have to. Some players even stop LOOKING at the pitcher less it curse him. Jaws clench, backs straighten, fist bumps and high fives disappear, and there’s less grabbing of one’s crotch while on camera. This is serious business.

By the 8th inning, even the other team have become involved. Each batter now dreads being the one to end it, and if its a Perfect Game even more so. Yet once the pitch has been made, once the ball is in the air hurtling toward him, instinct takes over and the swings will still be made with utmost ferocity. Whenever you see a sportsperson on the verge of history, you have to wonder what the opponent(s) are thinking. According to his Letterman appearance even Stewart Cink was rooting for Tom Watson, yet he gave no quarter and probably never thought to. And this was the Tampa Bay Rays, newly risen power in the brutal AL East, and kings of the deadly single. These guys were not cheap outs.

So, in the top of the 9th, with Buehrle three outs away from being the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2004 to achieve a Perfect Game, over 12,000 or so games ago, this happened:

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For video go here: http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=5699065

Dewayne Wise, a nobody brought on late by manager and certified lunatic Ozzie Guillen because he can field a bit, made the catch of his career to rob Gabe Kapler (sorry, had to pause for a quick Welcome Back Kotter flashback) of a heartless dagger of a home run.
He bobbled it sure, but caught it just the same, and it will be a long, long time before Mr Wise has to buy his own beer on the South Side of Chicago.

How meaningful is it?
For Mark Buehrle its a defining moment in a quixotic career and a direct path to the Hall Of Fame for a solid but not exciting pitcher few would remember otherwise. He even got a call immediately afterward from the world’s most powerful White Sox fan.
For baseball, mired in a season so lackluster Manny Ramirez NOT playing for 50 games was an exciting highlight, its a huge news story not related to PEDs or empty seats at Yankee Stadium.

And for me it was a phone call while I was down at the beach enjoying an afternoon scoping Yoga Butts.

yoga350

God bless Juicy Couture & Lulumon

“Hey, you got to get to a TV.”

“Uh-huh,” attention focused solely on scoping Yoga Butts.

“Buehrle’s throwing a Perfect Game! Seriously, you gotta catch it.”

” Holy Shit!” and I got on my bike and rode to the nearest bar to catch the last inning and a half.

So, how meaningful was it? It got me to RIDE A F*$KING BIKE. That’s Hall Of Fame worthy right there.

– Mark Tierney

Return of The Show

2 Apr

redsoxhussy

Finally after its winter hibernation, baseball in America is back next week.

Oh sure we’ve had a ton of high-profile trades, steroid drama, sort of gay self-worship drama tied to the steroid drama, spring training, the Grapefruit League and even a full blown pseudo-World Cup played in the sport (well done Japan!) but that’s just baseball.

This now, this is The Show.

This is the baseball that every great, or pretend-great American writer rhapsodises, and has been turned into more decent movies than any other sport. In this regard, it is truly the anti-rugby. I struggled to come up with more than 1 0r 2 truly awful baseball movies that weren’t sequels or made before WW2, and the classics almost anyone can name (The Natural, Field Of Dreams, Bull Durham, Major League, Bad News Bears, etc). Try that with rugby. There’s a lot riding on you Matt Damon.

So, to paraphrase Walt Whitman and Will Leitch, its time for the hush of the outfield grass to give way to the thrill of the opening pitch, the crack of the bat and the roar of the extremely drunk and abusive crowd. Its time for all the guys who paid US$432,000 for field level Yankee season tickets to settle in for their 81 home games, and for Direct TV subscribers to start planning which of the almost 5,000 live games they can watch over the next 6 months.

Welcome to The Show.

10 extremely obvious questions answered

1. Are baseball players actually athletes? Some of these guys are REALLY fat.

sabathia34

and here's the wind up....

Yep. CC Sabathia (a GREAT actor’s name if he ever goes that way) is well over 300 pounds and he’s not alone in this league. Both the the best clutch pitcher (CC) and best clutch hitter (Manny Ramirez) are not exactly athletically built. There are also a some very small guys (Dustin Pedroia), and ultra buff studly types (Mark Texeria, Alex Roid Rodriguez). Baseball is pretty much a game of pure hand/eye co-ordination (see below) and of torque. ALL baseball players have very developed butts. Asses. Glutes. That’s where the hitting power comes from. If you watch someone like a Ken Griffey Jr or Gary Sheffield hit you will see the way they literally twist themselves back to come around to hit. They unwind in a fraction of a second, very much like watching Tiger hit a drive. Immense power is unleashed. Same for pitching. Its mostly in the legs. Given that unless there’s a girly baseball brawl going on there’s no actual one-on-one physical matchup in baseball, as long as there’s plenty of junk in the trunk they can have front porches you could host a barbeque for forty on.

2. How hard is it to hit the ball?

Mr Bonds at work

Mr Bonds at work

Obviously its difficult otherwise Alex Roid Rod wouldn’t be getting almost $52,000 an attempt to try. This is a sport where a hitting average of .300 (30% successful) is VERY good, and 40% has only ever been done a few times in history. If you were only that successful in any other sport you are not playing at the elite level. Barry Bonds, despite the steroids that have banished him from the game and certainly not because of it, was probably the best hitter to ever play baseball. Because he had the fastest hand/eye co-ordination. At major league speeds a batter has around 1/10th of a second to decide what kind of pitch is coming and compute the physics that will allow him to make contact with his 4″ wide bat. In test cricket from a fast bowler for example, its around 3/10ths. Tennis, on serve, about the same as cricket. The legend is that Barry had an extra 10th of a second because his hands moved faster. His bat speed was still the same as the other elite hitters (about 95mph) but his angle would be more efficient. Once he got the bat to the ball, well that’s when the ‘roids were a big help. And don’t even start with things like sliders, curveballs or the dreaded knuckleballers. No offense to the great game of cricket, but someone like Manny Ramirez, who LOVES curveball pitching, would have eaten Shane Warne alive. By the way, here he is actually playing cricket.

3. Why is the season so f*cking long?

History. Baseball is the bread and circuses of the American industrial age. If you were working six days a week in a factory in New York, Chicago or Detroit having games almost every day through the summer made living worthwhile. The growth of baseball in America very much parallels the growth of professional football in England, and for the same reasons. Sports were a gift from owners and management to their slave armies. As those armies dispersed over the decades across the country so did the teams, most notably the Giants, Dodgers and Braves. But the tradition of each team playing an average of 6 games a week remains.

4. I’m sorry, how much do these guys get paid again?

"during the season I make one of these A MINUTE.."

"during the season I make one of these A MINUTE.."

This is the true obscenity of baseball. The best players make incredible sums and its all guaranteed. If Alex RR gets hit by a bus tomorrow, the Yankees will still have to pay out almost $250M to his estate over the next 8 years. Mark Texiera (pronounced Te-share-a), signed a contract for $20M a year in the off season, and he’s only the third highest paid player on his team. Sure, there are plenty of guys making the league minimum of $400k (hello the Royals and the Rays!), but still, the sky has no real spending limit in this sport. NB: If you have a kid who has any sporting prowess whatsoever, see if he can hit a golf ball or a baseball IMMEDIATELY. I mean it. Run.

5. Why are the games so long?

Because it became fashionable in the ’90s for guys to take a year to get ready to hit, and they rotate pitchers a lot more often. A pitching duel game can be done in about 90 minutes. Its just BAM BAM BAM, line ’em up, strike ’em out. I saw one last year that barely made the hour. Ended 1-0 in the 9th. It was like watching speed chess. A good slugfest game runs about 3&1/2 hours. C’mon we watch test cricket for 5 freaking days. 3&1/2 hours drinking beer in the sun? I’m ok with that. (A small aside: That Twenty20 crap drives me nuts. Where’s the skill in it? It would be like baseball being ONLY Home Run Derby’s. Hey, we all love Home Run Derby’s. But pitching, fielding and stamina are part of the game no? I know, its easier to fit in with our ‘busy’ lives – i.e kids – but sorry its not for me. End of Geoffrey Boycott moment)

6. What’s up with the steroids?

"hey Jose, give me one in the butt will ya?"

"hey Jose, give me one in the butt will ya?"

Excellent question. This has been almost the definition of a media driven frenzy and a terrific example of sports hypocrisy at its worst. Here’s the thing: I think most fans don’t care. Like really don’t care. Take the Alex Roid Rod expose of this winter. Personally, I was saddened and shocked for about an hour. I’ve never really liked the guy, but I respected him, and you just thought it was sad given his incredible natural talent. However, a month or so later and I couldn’t care less. I DON’T CARE IF HE’S TAKING THEM RIGHT NOW. Because here’s the thing: if him taking steroids means he comes back faster from injury, or turns a line drive into a home run, as a viewer I’m all for that. I’m paying to watch that. I’m not paying to watch him sit in the dugout chewing and spitting while the announcers talk about how his recovery from injury is coming along. I want to watch him right now. If he’s willing to put up with bacne and shunken testicles for my amusement I say, go for it big fella. If I go to Lil’ Wayne gig I expect him to be high too goddammit.

7. What’s with the chewing and spitting?

Well, at least now its sunflower seeds and not chewin’ tabaccy. Baseball players used to have the biggest incidence per head of tongue cancer in the world. It actually came from the amphetimines (‘greenies’) the players used to take to stay awake on the long road trips. They were finally outlawed last season. Two things happened: that big exaggerated ‘its 5am in the club and I just dropped my 3rd E’ chewing motion stopped in the dugout, and all the teams suddenly started playing crap on the road. Give it a few years and the habit will die out completely.

8. VORP? PECO?

this man needs his own statistic....

this man needs his own statistic....

God, do stat geeks love baseball. The US is a country in love with data, and baseball generates oodles of the stuff. One of the new modern bibles in sports and business literature (‘Moneyball’) is actually based on the successful application of esoteric stats to the Oakland A’s. Some of it makes sense. I love VORP which measures how much better or worse the current player is against anyone else playing the same position for that team. For example, Derek Jeter has negative VORP against most of the other shortstops in the AL East. If they were playing for the Yankees, the Yankees would probably be a better team. That makes it easier for me to control my envy of a guy who lives in Manhattan, makes $20M a year and dates rotating supermodels. But apart from that, all the rest is for fantasy baseball guys only. And the most over-rated is wins for a pitcher. If you hear a guy being praised because he’s ‘won a lot of games this year’ that’s pretty meaningless. A manager can easily pad any pitcher’s stats by pulling him early in a game or changing the rotation, or he might be a pitcher getting 6 runs a game from his hitters.

9. Are there any Kiwis playing MLB?

Scott Richmond, part of the pitching rotation of the Toronto Blue Jays is technically a New Zealander thanks to his father, but was born and raised in Canada. Not that that’s a bad thing. Scott Campbell meanwhile, is currently in their minor league system. Previously the closest we came was Travis Wilson in the early 2000’s who never quite made The Show. There are of course, quite a few Aussies. See the end of Question 4. I mean it. Get them training now. What, you don’t want little Joel earning $20M a year and buying you that 3000sq ft beach house and a new BMW every year? Really? If he’s left-handed, he could be earning ’til he’s 45 plus. Just sayin’.

10. God this was boring. Is there anything about baseball you can tell me that will have made it worth reading this?

working her way through the roster....

working her way through the roster....

Ok……well, if little Joel is any good he probably has a shot at Alyssa Milano, who will only be entering her hot cougar phase by then.

The managers wear player’s uniforms which is really bizarre if you think about it.

The AL East is going to be INCREDIBLE because its a three way race for only two spots, and every Red Sox/Yankees stand will feel even more like a mini-World Series.

Watching Manny Ramirez break out his goofy home run grin 40 odd times this year will be fun to watch.

Can the Rays repeat their success, are the Braves really back? (Hey Chipper, nice to see you back on the Clear. Now you can hit again!).

Geriatric Randy Johnson (note: left handed) is still pitching.

Two brand new stadiums in NY. Man, the Mets get gazumped EVERY TIME.

A whole new wave of young speedy guys are entering the game (thank you steroid scandal!) so its a good year to catch new stars being born.

Um, the beer and hot dogs at Dodger Stadium are not half bad?

don't let CC near your fries...

don't let CC near your fries...

– Mark Tierney

Sexy March Insanity with Presidential Trimmings

20 Mar
008128001112009_ucla_at_usc

Now that's some vertical leap

It’s March! And all over America, portly white guys and the white women who love them are screaming: Have you filled out your Bracket? Who’s in your Bracket? Are you in the office pool with your Bracket? Is your Bracket still alive? Are you Bracket Busted?? WHO YA GOT???

What the f*ck is a Bracket? says I.

The Bracket is the tournament structure of the qualifying 64 teams making the Division 1 playoff tournament in NCAA Mens Basketball. Just making the final 64 is a triumph for most schools, but for the 20 or so College Basketball powerhouses its the most severe test of their multimillion dollar programmes and their long and successful history as cradles of their sport.

Its a severe test because collegiate basketball is the best and most fair version of the sport played. Pro basketball has more studs, skills and spitting (and only slightly more illegitimate children) but at the collegiate level the games are faster, purer (flopping at this level means only you probably play for Duke) and generally way more exciting.

And March Madness is the pinnacle.

Its a one-shot winner takes all tourney where the best team on paper often doesn’t win.

The Round of 64 leads to the Sweet Sixteen, then the Elite Eight, and the ultimate, the Final Four. As you can see, a highly paid marketing consultant was involved.

miley-cyrus-myspace

not THIS kind of Sweet 16

Even President Obama, not technically a white guy, is hyped for it.

So rather than be a total bracket nerd about this (that’s Mike up in Accounting who’s been working on his Bracket since Christmas. Shame about him and his wife breaking up don’t you think?) we will simply examine who I think will make the Final Four:
DUKE
I disagree with POTUS above.  Despite their Evil Empire mein (I remember reading an article years ago about Coach K having biometric security for his office floor. Who does he think he’s protecting his pick’n’roll strategies from? The Russians? Jason Bourne?) Duke are a great balanced team with a great coach. If you like rooting for the bad guys then Duke is your team.
A classic DUKE moment:depto9
Best Player: Kyle Singler
LOUISVILLE
Every time I see coach Rick Pitino I giggle a little, mainly because I remember him crying and broken during his disastrous Celtics run, but much like fellow pro washout Pete Carroll in football, Pitino is an superb college coach.
He has rebuilt Louisville into a devastating fast break team that has real chops. Any team that beats these guys will have to be favoured to win it all.
rickpitino1

um, not so sure about the suit there Mr Pitino

Best Player: Terence Williams

PITT
DeJuan Blair. He’s really good.  And kind of scary.

dejaun-blair
Or maybe he’s just experienced this story personally (HERE, scroll down about a third of a page to ‘Jim’. You will curse me later).
Some other guys play with him. And there’s a coach.
Moving on.

UNC
The school that gave us  Michael Jordan and his epic NCAA Championship are loaded for bear this year.
They really are smoking good. They have the Obama seal of approval, and whether he saves the world or not he knows his hoops.
But this is shooting fish in the barrel. This team is LOADED.
They even have a large white guy who can actually play, despite looking like a 7 foot tall Andrew Mehrtens.
tyler_hansbrough
Best Player: Tyler Hansborough
If I were a betting man, this would be my lock.
But this has been a strange College Basketball season, with every team with great expectations screwing the pooch at the first opportunity. So who knows, it might be Gonzaga that wins. Just because I like saying the name. GON-ZAAA-GA. Try it with a kind of New York thing: GUN-ZAAAAA-GA. Cool. No idea where the f*ck it is though.
Happy hoops!
– Mark Tierney

This Way To Glory – Not so fast there Ben…….

30 Jan

super_bowl_xliii_logo
The Superbowl is finally here, Pittsburgh’s Steelers vs the Arizona Cardinals live in all its glory from Raymond James Stadium, usual home to the now coach-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
(MIDDAY Feb 2, ESPN on SKY)

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Ah, sweet Tampa, Florida’s sweaty armpit.
If you want to live in Florida, don’t have the bucks for Jupiter or the Intracoastal, or the sophistication to handle Miami, then Tampa my son is for you.
Miamians make fun of Tampa. Jacksonvillites make fun of Tampa. Hell, people from ORLANDO make fun of Tampa. Its bordered by swamp on one side, and the shallow salty waters of the Gulf Of Mexico on the other.
It’s a redneck beach town that somehow has pretensions to being a first-rate city, when really its full of barely successful real estate agents and bottom-of-their-class dentists driving leased Corvettes.

Sort of like the Browns Bay of Florida.

And then there’s the strippers.
bunnys2

Tampa strippers used to be the best in the US.

So good, I was once persuaded on a bet to drive the 4 hours from Miami to check them out.  They were, I had to admit, the very best looking half naked women I had seen to that point.
But then Vegas heard about this challenge to their Official City Of Decadence crown and swept in and bought all the good ones up.
Now, there are still the same incredible number of titty bars (about as numerous as Starbucks circa 2006) but the quality has flattened out somewhat.
So instead of this:

jesscropped

Florida stripper Jess

You’re more likely to get this:

0128091tampa9

Woman arrested for prostitution, Tampa, Super Bowl week 2009

Not good.

And if you think its not having an effect on the game, you’re wrong. Holding a Super Bowl in a tinpot city with bad strippers in the middle of a media led recession is like having your 21st in Invercargill on a Sunday evening in August 1973. It’s just not meant to be like this.

The entire point of the week off is for players to get themselves into trouble with hookers, preferable transexual, and for several celebrity parties to get completely out of hand. This year? Not even Sean Combs is there.
As of writing no-one interesting has been arrested, zero unfortunate photos have hit the net, media day fizzled, no one is heading to divorce court, and thanks to neither Dallas or the Giants making the trip, there’s been no gunplay of any kind. What is this? A Superbowl or a Wal-Mart company picnic?
If I was producing this for NBC I’d have a production assistant out at the team hotels armed with 9mms and a boatload of gossip. “Anquan? Hey Anquan? Larry Fitzgerald just said you fakin’. He calling you a pussy. You gonna stand for that? Hell no you ain’t. Look, I just happen to have this loaded 9 with me….”

On the football field things are just as serious.

These are SERIOUS teams, coached by SERIOUS men. The Arizona Defensive Coach is called Russ GRIMM for godssakes.
Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin has always been low key (although he rocked a Wesley Snipes look off the charter jet) but with Arizona’s Ken Wisenhunt turning up his Bill Cowher-lite impersonation to 11, you know this is going to be a battle as much of will as skill.

Always bet on black

Mike Tomlin: Always bet on black

There are a thousand subtexts here, the best of which is that this is really the Super Bowl winning Steelers assistant coaches of 2004 vs the Steeler coach of 2008.
Tomlin is in a no-win situation. If he wins, well he took over a well coached team (hint: built by the guys he just beat) and he was supposed to.
If he loses, then the story is that Pittsburgh made a terrible mistake in 2007 in passing over the geniuses that just took Arizona (ARIZONA!!) to Superbowl glory a mere 2 years later.
Yep, it sort of sucks to be Mike Tomlin right now, because his fate is in the hands of one man.

"You said your prayers this morning right Kurt?"

"He's not talking about you is he Kurt?"

No sir. We are talking about Big Ben Roethlisberger.

Me? You talking about me?

Me? You talking about me? Gosh.

Yep, you, you big lug. In 2004 Big Ben absolutely SUCKED in his first Superbowl, but won because Pittsburgh still had the Bus, and the other quarterback was Matt Hassellbeck.
He has no such cushion this time. Kurt Warner has been here before (twice) and has the ring to prove it. Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker-led running game is solid, but not great, and Ben is the team’s best short yardage rusher. And Arizona are coached by his old offensive coordinator who knows him well. Uh-oh. If he has a bad Ben day, and he’s due one, Pittsburgh are toast.
Yes Ben, toast is yummy, but its still a bad thing.

In his defense he showed again in the Championship game that he is one of the best ‘scramblers’ in the game, so if he can use those skills to avoid the Arizona pressure then Pittsburgh will score points, and lots of them. Arizona are a zone defense team, who are always vulnerable when a play breaks down and its every man for himself.

(Actual football insight in this column! Thank you Gregg Easterbrook!)

With Arizona its all about the offensive line. If they can hold Pittsburgh off that extra second to let Kurt make his throws then again Pittsburgh is toast.
Human gazelle Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver in football right now, and he has one of the most accurate guys to ever play the game throwing him the football.

Gravity? I don't need no stinking gravity!

Gravity? I don't need no stinking gravity!

Last year’s Super Bowl did not actually turn on David Tyree’s incredible helmet catch (but Asante Samuel, if I ever meet you I will punch you in the face) but in the terrible play of the Patriots celebrated offensive line who parted like the Red Sea and let Tom Brady try and play from underneath a 400 pound defensive end all day.
If that happens to Arizona, then its Pittsburgh all the way.

Both teams are well coached.
Both teams have great defenses. That’s why they’re here.
Both teams have capable offenses.
One team has history on its side.
One team has no historical baggage to worry about.
One team has a receiver who is a legendary low blow hitter, and the other has one that belongs in Cirque du Soleil.
Both QBs are playing for their second rings.
Both are automatic for the Hall of Fame if they win.
One would be the ONLY QB ever to win Superbowls with two different teams.
One team is looking to rise above all others in the history of the game, and the other is looking to finally get a 60 year monkey off its back.

You know, writing that list, I’m finally getting a little excited.

It’s on baby.

Superbowl time.

I really, really really REALLY want to pick Arizona, I just wrote a column that is significantly in Arizona’s favour, they have AWESOME cheerleaders:33741613

– but I just can’t.

PITTSBURGH 24, ARIZONA 21

Yes, its that close.

OTHER STUFF:

saddle_ranch

My new Superbowl tradition is to go to the Saddle Ranch Chop House on Sunset. I’d always avoided it because it seemed a themed tourist trap, but I couldn’t help notice that the carpark was always wall to wall with flamboyantly pimped Astons and Bentleys. People just in from Toledo don’t tend to drive those. And so for the Superbowl in 2007 I went there and found out why.
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Yes ma’am, I WILL have another pitcher of margaritas. And my regards to the table of Mexican gangsters at the end of the bar. You know, I never realised how good flames on a Racing Green DB9 could look.
Its a great place to watch any sport, but Superbowl Sunday is particularly special.

The next round is on me.

– Mark Tierney