Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Awaking from Slumber

I thought December was supposed to be a slow month in the workplace. I haven't had a chance to breathe since 12/1, let alone post pithy thoughts about sports. And while I was gone:

1. The BCS went to hell. Go USC and Geaux LSU! Split national championships are neat! As far as I'm concerned, the Delaware Blue Hens are the national champions.

2. My Boston Red Sox managed to turn the off-season into a more interesting story than the regular season with their pursuit of Alex Rodriguez. I'm so very torn on this deal. I love Nomar Garciaparra more than a heterosexual man should love another man, and the acquisition of ARod would signal the end of Nomar's days in Boston. That would cause me no small amount of dismay and disappointment. On the other hand, Alex Rodriguez may go down as one of the three best players in the history of Major League Baseball, and how can you not want a guy that fits that description on your team?

3. There was more than a little dust circling around my living room last night as I watched Brett Favre put up a monster first half against the Oakland Raiders just two days after his father passed away. Favre threw for 311 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half against Oakland, all the while fighting emotions that I can only imagine. Every now and again we get affirmation of why we love sports. Last night was one of those times.

More to come.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Gheorghe: The Encounter

It seems only fitting I can post on this blog, as I have met the man of the hour, though briefly and ages ago. Few can appreciate the joy of a chance encounter with the man-child Gheorghe, but the reader(s) of this blog may. As I exited a New York City Italian restaurant, bloated and stinking of red wine, I began walking towards our next watering hole. As I reached the intersection, I inquired of the group I'm with as to whether the lamp post across the street was moving towards us. The Walk signal is flashing - time to hustle before Akbar runs me down in his cab - as the street lamp came closer, I realize it is none other than My Giant. Thinking quickly, I tap him on his waist (almost head high mind you) and say, straight-faced, "Hey Gheorghe, you, Little Italy, ironic huh?" His 5'4" interpreter simply looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and moved on, Big George curiously looking over his shoulder at me. And thus ended my brush with ghreatness.

Monday, December 01, 2003


A few rambling, barely coherent bits while recovering from a Thanksgiving spent eating too much turkey and drinking too much bourbon:

1. That sound you hear is my uncontrollable giggling over the Red Sox' acquisition of Curt Shilling. It's almost as if Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS didn't happen. Almost.

2. I'm shocked, just shocked, that Florida and Florida State players got into a donnybrook after their epic game. Why doesn't Bobby Bowden take more grief from the media for running a program with absolutely no integrity, on or off the field?

3. Barring an upset victory by Oregon State over USC and some bizarre computer machinations, looks like the BCS is going to fall into a barrel of horsecrap and come up smelling like perfume - again.

4. How many games do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to lose before John Gruden and Warren Sapp stop appearing six times a week on all major sports programs? Seriously, has a 5-7 also-ran ever had this much love from mainstream media outlets?

5. Chaminade!

6. Loved the creamsicle unis the Miami Dolphins sported against the Redskins last Sunday. Hated the fact that the Skins blew yet another 4th quarter lead. And then did it again this week against the Saints. 3 straight final stanza collapses by the worst team LDS' (that's Little Danny Starfucker) money can buy. But, hey, we got to see the 70th Anniversary uniforms again yesterday, so I'm sure merchandise revenues went up.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Can the Sports Media Resist This Temptation?

How soon until we see this headline, or some variant: "Much Adu About Nothing"?

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Another Collection of Random Asides

Stream of consciousness without much thought on:

1. If a major professional hockey league disbands in a forest and nobody hears it implode, did it ever exist? And we think baseball has economic problems!

2. USC beat Arizona, 45-0, while Ohio State snuck past Purdue, 16-13 in overtime. The computers that play a large role in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings (pay no attention to the men behind the curtain) dropped the Trojans and elevated the Buckeyes, putting OSU in the driver's seat for the right to be pummelled by Oklahoma in the "national championship game". I'm hoping against hope that USC and OSU both win out and the BCS is, once again, revealed to be a sham of a mockery of a fraud. I've said if before (hell, I wrote an editorial about it in my high school newspaper), and I'll certainly say it again - to no real end - a 16-team Division I college football playoff would be the single biggest event of the American sporting calendar, would rake in megabucks eclipsing the cash available in the bowl system, and would not adversely impact the "student-athletes" involved. AND IT WOULD ENSURE THAT A LEGITIMATE NATIONAL CHAMPION WAS CROWNED ON THE FIELD AND NOT IN THE NEWSPAPERS, ELECTRONIC ETHER, AND ABACUSES OF AMERICA'S MATHEMATICS PHD CANDIDATES. This must happen. It makes too much sense not to happen. And so, it surely won't happen any time soon.

3. Andy Roddick is the world's No. 1-ranked tennis player. Yawn.

4. Is there any doubt at all that both Keyshawn Johnson and Warren Sapp will be courted heavily by Little Danny Starfucker? Hear me now and believe me later: if either wears Washington Redskins burgundy and gold next season, I will have a new favorite NFL team. (edit for clarity's sake: it should be noted that I am currently a 'Skins fan. if our meddlesome, football-dumb owner overpays for these two wildly overrated but big name players, I'll find a new team.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Good for Them. Bad for Me.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just placed loudmouth me-first, team-second wideout Keyshawn Johnson on their inactive list, effectively ending his season. Johnson had no reported injuries - the Bucs simply got tired of his crap. This should happen more often, just not to members of my struggling fantasy football team.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Hell, He'd be More Entertaining Than Grady

Former Red Sox pitcher and noted eccentric Bill "Spaceman" Lee announced his candidacy for the vacant Red Sox managerial job today. I'm all for it. Baseball, and sports in general, needs more lunatics.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Awesome, Baby!

I love Dick Vitale. Yes, he's a one-trick pony. Yes, he's an unashamed apologist for the basketball coaching fraternity. Yes, he's loud, he's a charicature, he's more entertainer than serious analyst. But he loves basketball, and he loves what he gets to do for a living, and both of those things are plainly obvious every time he broadcasts a game, whether it's Duke/Carolina or Austin Peay/Middle Tennessee State.

Heard Dickie V last night for the first time in a few months as Wake Forest/Memphis kicked off the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic in Madison Square Garden. College hoops season makes me happy, and so does hearing Dickie's voice.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Tilting at Random Windmills

Here, in no particular order, are a few of the things that I'm thinking about today:

1. The Balkanization of college football.

Today brings news that Notre Dame is considering joining the ACC in all sports. Why doesn't the NCAA just get it over with and form a 60 team superconference to suck up all available free cash? The genie's out of the bottle on money in intercollegiate athletics, so let's end the charade. Pay the players, remove restrictions on boosters, consolidate the power programs, and form NFL II. At least it'd be honest, which can't be said for the current system which treats "student-athletes" (and think of those quotation marks as me holding my fingers in the air and winking) as indentured servants while coaches and athletic directors (read: mostly older white guys) get rich.

2. The Milwaukee Brewers are cutting payroll.

From $50m in 2002, to $40m in 2003, to a reported $30m in 2004. But thanks for building us this pretty new stadium with taxpayer dollars. Exhibit XXY in the case for corruption, arrogance, and mismanagement in Major League Baseball.

3. Is there an NBA player uglier than Cherokee Parks? Has there ever been?

4. Tim Kurkjian: Elf or just really weird-looking human? And speaking of Elf - does the sight of Will Ferrell in green tights jumping on a Christmas tree inspire anyone else to uncontrollable giggling?

More to come.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Target-Rich Environment

I could easily maintain a voluminous blog dedicated to the insane mumblings of New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, but I'd feel dirty about spending that much time in the sewer. Today brings news of Big Stein's outrage over Hideki Matsui's failure to capture the American League Rookie of the Year award. Set aside for a moment the fact that Matsui is a multiple MVP of Japan's best league, and that he's a rookie in name only. Set aside, too, the fact that he's a 29 year-old, physically mature man, and the award winner, Kansas City's Angel Berroa is a 21 year-old kid. Consider only the pain and suffering that the Baseball Writers of Association of America (BBWAA) has inflicted upon poor, misunderstood George (definitely not Gheorghe).

Isn't it enough that Steinbrenner voraciously and transparently attempts to buy championships each year, and that baseball's economic structure allows him to do it? Nevermind. I've worn that soapbox out and don't have the energy or inclination to climb aboard it again. Suffice it to say that whenever Big Stein is whining, I know that whoever caused his angst is right.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

TMQ Finds a New Home

Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, which delights in poking fun at various on- and off-field NFL-related foibles, has resurfaced at FootballOutsider, at least temporarily. TMQ used to be hosted on ESPN.com's Page 2, before Easterbrook wrote a clumsy piece about the forthcoming Mel Gibson movie The Passion on his New Republic blog. Among other things, Easterbrook called out Disney chief exec Michael Eisner in the piece. Disney owns ESPN, and before you could say "rabid anti-dentite", Easterbrook found himself canned from the sporting press.

TMQ used to be a great, sort of inside jokey counter-cultural look at the NFL. It's devolved over time to take on a more formulaic, know-it-all tone, but Easterbrook is still the smartest person covering football. And more fun, he loves tweaking the powers that be in the No Fun League over issues large (the NFL's insane DirectTV contract) and small (the Buffalo Bills' hideous uniforms, for starters). If he'd just cut the column by 50%, we'd be getting somewhere.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Sounds Like Daddy May Have, ahem, "Talked" to Junior

Nice to see Kellen Winslow, Jr. apologize for his infantile rant after his Miami Hurricanes lost to Tennessee on Saturday. Seems clear that his father and namesake told the lad that a) he's not a "soldier, and b) his comments were particularly immature.

Winslow's another in a looong line of athletes who, after spending their formative years being told how great they are by all manner of sycophants - young and old, completely lose perspective about their place in society. In some ways, it's difficult to blame him, and others like him, because we as a society have created this monster. On the other hand, look no further than LeBron James - the poster child for adult idol-worship from a young age - to find a celebrated young athlete who seems to have at least a little perspective. James was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16 year-old, for the love of Pete. And, at least publicly, he's not had many missteps in the course of his introduction into the professional ranks, choosing instead to talk about his teammates and how much he has to learn.

Of course, until about 6 months ago, I thought Kobe Bryant was a stand-up guy, too.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Thoughts While I Kill the Final Moments of the Workweek

To borrow - liberally - from a much more accomplished man, I can't define Gheorgheness, but I know it when I see it. Jon Stewart's got a whole heaping mound of Gheorgheness. Dan Snyder (or, as he'll come to be known in this space, Little Danny Starfucker) is the antithesis of Gheorghe. John Riggins has a PhD in Gheorgheness. George Will is a George, but not a Gheorghe. Yao's a little bit Gheorghy, but Kobe's not. Kevin Millar teaches Gheorghe 101 in Boston, but Roger Clemens flunked out of the course. Emeril Lagasse seems to know which wine goes best with Gheorghe. Mark Cuban's thinking about making Gheorghe an honorary Maverick.

I can't think of a single politician with Gheorgheness, though Dennis Kucinich is really funny-looking. Stewart Scott aspires to Gheorgheness, but he's so fake that he can't pull it off. Rich Eisen can, though. Too bad he's dead. Well, taken a job at the NFL Network - 6 one, 1/2 dozen the other. Dennis Miller used to be chock full of hearty Gheorgheness, then he took a hard right turn and became a caricature. Michael Moore is so far from Gheorghe that he might as well be a short, fat, humorless troll. Oh. That simile ran smack into the wall of reality, didn't it?

Jack Black is the high priest of Gheorghe, attended by his happy alcolyte, Jeremy Piven. But not by John Favreau, David Spade, or Colin Quinn. The Kids in the Hall gaily genuflect to Gheorghe while they get Girl Drink Drunk. Sting's got more anti-Gheorghe in his pinky than Bruce Springsteen does in his whole family, though, to be sure, I still like both of their music. And speaking of music, the Wiggles are thinking about making Gheorghe a new recurring character - Greg will pull him out of the magic hat.

Mission Statement, or What's a Gheorghe, and Why Should I Care?

I don't trust anyone that can't laugh at himself. I think that Crash Davis was dead on, right up until he started talking about Susan Sontag, at which point I tuned out. I'm hopelessly addicted to the Boston Red Sox, even though I know it's not good for me. I believe that sports, like society at large, is full of self-important, egomaniacal windbags at all levels, and I intend to use this space to tilt at the windmills that threaten to suck all of the joy out of the things that I love.

This space is named, with love, for the most fun athlete ever to draw a paycheck from a professional franchise. Gheorghe Muresan, late of the Washington Bullets and New Jersey Nets, stood 7'7" and weighed 330+ pounds. He shuffled around a basketball court like a slightly more mobile version of Frankenstein's monster, with a splay-footed gait and elbows and knees that flailed about as if independently operated. His elongated, comically expressive face conveyed the unmistakable glee and amazement with which he viewed his place in the NBA’s firmament, even as he made the often numbing journey from rookie to veteran. He played a handful of NBA seasons with a modicum of success, being honored as the NBA's Most Improved Player in 1995-96. Most importantly, though, he played basketball and approached life with a pure, unadulterated joy that was, and is, unmatched by any other professional athlete.

Gheorghe's spirit and the joy with which he appears to approach life offer lessons for all of us about the important things. This space will celebrate those in sports and elsewhere that live with Gheorgheness, and skewer those that think they are more important than the game - be it sports or life. Gheorghe: The Internet Magazine, had a brief, meteoric run several years ago, flaming to earth in a blaze of apathy amidst rampant rumors of financial mismanagement. Gheorghe: The Blog rises like a phoenix from the ashes, or at least like a Weeble, to carry on the Gheorghian mission.