Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Syracuse basketball preview: Those aren't boos, they're saying ... oh wait, those are boos

“…with Scoop as the primary ball-handler, Syracuse cannot win the Big East tournament and cannot compete for a national championship.”
That’s a line from my final Syracuse basketball column in my previous life as a sports writer. It was written on March 23, 2011.
Unfortunately, seven-plus months later, my opinion of Scoop Jardine and of Syracuse’s chances this 2011-12 season haven’t changed.
Expectations for the Orange are as high as I’ve ever seen them -- a legitimate run at a national title is possible, and maybe expected.
And the pressure is deserved. Syracuse returns four starters from a 27-win team and has one of the best freshman classes in the nation.
The Orange may not be the best team overall, but they’re the deepest. And that’s something that will be highly beneficial in the rough-and-tumble Big East.
But Syracuse still has Scoop.
And that’s why I’m less-than optimistic about the season.
Look, I’d love to come on this blog in late March and eat a heaping plate of crow after Scoop guided the Orange to a national championship. I’d be thrilled to be proven wrong by the fifth-year senior.
I want him to play smart. I want him to be a facilitator, not a gunner. Mostly, I want him to stay away from “Hero Mode.”
But I don’t see it happening. He’s just burned us too many times.
Still, my cynical mindset has not diluted my excitement for the season. Syracuse is in the spotlight, and while I don’t foresee Jim Boeheim cutting down any nets come March, I think the Orange can be successful. And most importantly, I think they’re going to be fun to watch.
There’s a ton of fascinating storylines:
- Will Kris Joseph, clearly one of the most athletic players in the country, finally stop playing soft and vault to “elite” status?
- Will Fab Melo rebound from a dreadful freshman campaign and be a force in the paint?
- Will Dion Waiters’ innate scoring ability make up for his inevitable meltdown (I’m guessing that he and Jimmy B aren’t exactly Facebook friends)
- Will Brandon Triche develop some sort of mean streak? (Seriously, I’m not sure he has a pulse. He just might be a vampire)
- Will C.J. Fair continue his evolution as a taller Josh Pace?
- Will Boeheim find minutes for talented freshmen Michael Carter-Williams and Trevor Cooney?
- Will Rakeem Christmas, Melo and Baye Moussa Keita successfully fill the hole left behind by Rick Jackson?

My answers to the previous questions: No, Yes, Possibly, Hell no, Hell yes, He better and Nobody replaces “The Deer.”
There are several keys to this season, and one big one is how Boeheim will successfully navigate this team’s depth. It sure is a good problem to have.
I will tell you one thing -- MCW is too good not to get big-time minutes, and Waiters is too much of an offensive spark to keep him on the pine.
This puts major pressure on Scoop and Triche, I think justifiably. The veterans have had their chances over the years and they’ve played well at times. But they have lacked consistency.
So if either of the starters struggle, Boeheim shouldn’t be hesitant to pull the trigger and insert either MCW or Dion.
As for Joseph, I don’t see him ever developing into a Wes Johnson-like player. He’s not cut out for physical basketball. (If only he’d come along in a few years, he’d be perfect for the ACC)
Joseph will get you 14 points and 5 boards per game, but that’s just not good enough for someone with his skill set.
He’s visually much bulkier this year, so hopefully he’ll be ready and willing to take more hits and accept more contact when driving to the hoop. But much like my feelings toward Scoop, I’m not so confident.
Fair is a stud and was the surprise of the season a year ago. And it even looks like he’s developed a halfway decent 3-point shot, which would make him nearly unguardable.
As for Christmas, I don’t think Syracuse needs much out of him beyond rebounding and defense. In fact, the Orange roster is so littered with scorers, the big men -- Christmas, Keita and Melo -- really don’t have to do much scoring. As long as they crash the boards and defend the interior, they’ll be doing their job.
Melo has shown a nice touch, especially on those 15- to 17-footers in the exhibition games, but I’m not sure Boeheim wants him falling in love with that shot just yet.
I love this roster, and I love their chances. Syracuse is without a doubt a top-five team -- I’d love to see a showdown with either North Carolina or Duke this year. I really think the Orange will be a match-up nightmare with anybody.
And talent will get them far enough.
But it won’t get them to New Orleans.
Unless Scoop and Joseph become totally different players -- meaning Scoop has a brain transfusion and Joseph grows a pair -- Syracuse will remain a great team that sees its season come to an end earlier than it should.
Hopefully, they’ll make up for it with some really entertaining basketball.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Airing of Grievances

By Baby Joe

(A note from Ryan Day: This is the first contributor piece to be published on this blog. From time to time I'll be posting pieces written by good friends/sworn enemies of mine who have something worthwhile to say. Baby Joe, take it away)

The Airing of Grievances was the inaugural event in Frank Costanza’s Festivus holiday, which as you may remember also included the aluminum Festivus pole and Feats of Strength (“Festivus doesn’t end until you pin me, George.”)  Frank always struck me as a man who did not need a holiday to air his grievances, so I found it unusual that he needed to include it as a ritual in Festivus.  But in an attempt to make Festivus a year round tradition, I am ready to unload.  As such, to the following people on this list: “I GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE, SO LET’S GET STARTED.”

The first on my list is none other than Pitbull.  Before I start unloading on him, he deserves congratulations for joining “The List of Hispanic Rappers that I Have Actually Heard of Since Big Pun Died,” which includes Daddy Yankee, Fat Joe, Lord Tariq, and that’s about it.  If you have watched football at any point in the past month, you are no doubt familiar with the assault on our ears that has been launched by Pitbull and Dr. Pepper.  In this commercial, Pitbull repeats the line “Let’s Have a Real Good Time” at least 7 times.  That’s the entire song!  It must have taken ten minutes to write, and yet Dr. Pepper has decided that he is the face and voice that will make me drink their swill.  If this were an isolated incident, I would let him slide, but if you are familiar with Pitbull, you have surely heard his ballad, “I Know You Want Me, You Know I Want You,” where, you guessed it, Pitbull repeats that phrase dozens of times to make sure you never forget it.  Recently, he released a song with Ne-Yo, “Give Me Everything,” which is actually very good, except for the parts involving Pitbull.  Despite this absolute lack of creativity, Pitbull has four platinum tracks, and doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.  Brace yourself for more real good times in the future.  I consider Pitbull to be a clear indicator of the decline of American society as we know it. 

Speaking of the delcine of American society, on to politics, where Rick Santorum proceeded to find a level below rock bottom.  Admittedly, criticizing Mr. Santorum is a bit like sandblasting a soup cracker, and I’m not exactly blazing a trail here.  Santorum is currently running for the Republican presidential nomination in the same way Eddie the Eagle was competing to win the ski jump competition at the Olympics, which is to say he has an excellent chance to win a “Try Hard” trophy when all of this is done.  Prior to this campaign, Santorum served twelve years in the Senate before losing his 2007 campaign by 18% of the vote.  And yet he is running for president.  As Don King would say, “Only in America!” 

In last Thursday’s debate, Santorum was asked a question about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by a soldier named Steven Hill.  After the boos subsided from the crowd that had apparently just finished watching Jews get fed to lions, Santorum proceeded to give one of the most non-sensical, uneducated answers I have ever heard in a presidential debate.  In his rambling, incoherent answer, Santorum said, “I think this tries to inject social policy into our military.  And the military’s job is to do one thing: to defend our country…”  Unfortunately, Mr. Santorum, American history, as well as two of our country’s greatest presidents, do not back you up on this.  Have you ever seen the movie Glory?  I sincerely doubt that Abraham Lincoln approved of African-American soldiers like the 54th Massachusetts Regiment strictly to defend our country.  Similarly, when Harry Truman integrated the military in 1948 (which helped clear the path for the Civil Rights Movement a few years later), I don’t think it was because of a shortage of soldiers.  Put simply, the military has been a place for social policy all the way back to the Continental Army.  Almost as troubling as Santorum’s statement is the fact that no member of the media has called him on this.  Come on Anderson Cooper!  I count on you and your condescending remarks to set the record straight.  In other words, Mr. Santorum has earned the definition of his last name that shows up as the top site on Google (trust me, look this up if you haven’t already.  But don’t look it up at work.)  He treats homosexuality as if it was a weaponized chemical attack unleashed on the United States by Elton John and Wham!, and then uses his religion to justify it.  I will put this in a language Mr. Santorum can understand: rot in hell, you hate-mongering asshole.

I saved my next spot for the American movie-going public, which will surely make Real Steel the #1 movie in America when it comes out this weekend.  Don’t get me wrong – I love absolutely brainless movies.  I have seen Under Siege 2 more times than I can count, believe the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of Space Mutiny should be required viewing in our schools, and feel that the following scene is a timeless piece of American cinema:  With that said, I haven’t dropped $10 on a ticket for any of these movies.  Yet I will no doubt read an article on Columbus Day that talks about how a movie that appears to be based on Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots made $50 million.  Do you realize how hard it is to get a movie green-lit?  If movies as stupid as this are making it through, can you imagine the stupid ideas that don’t make it?  It’s mind boggling.  If this country wants to shake the image of mindless consumer drones, we need to raise our standards above anything involving CGI or Red Dawn remakes.  We need to demand better.

Finally, I need to include the city of Chicago on this list.  While watching the ESPN documentary Catching Hell, I realized that Chicago might be the worst city on the planet.  The documentary tells the story of Steve Bartman, who has basically lived in seclusion since Game 6 of the NLCS in 2003.  And why?  For trying to catch a foul ball, in the process doing the same thing that every fan in the history of baseball has done.  Unfortunately for him, Cubs left fielder Moises Alou acted like a pissy asshole even though he was a terrible left fielder who never would have caught the ball, shortstop Alex Gonzalez (the worse one of the two) booted an easy double play ball, Mark Prior blew up, and the Cubs allowed eight runs in the inning.  Chicago needed a scapegoat for such an epic collapse, but surely you couldn’t hang this one on any of the choking dogs wearing the pinstriped uniforms.  Oh no, let’s blame it on the everyman in left field, the die-hard fan who would have sold a kidney if it meant a  World Series win for his beloved Cubs.  Bartman, who attended hundreds of games in Wrigley Field before Game 6, has never been seen again. 
After the game, Cubs security had to sneak poor Steve Bartman out of the stadium while bloodthirsty crowds that looked something like the Deep South during Jim Crow searched all of Wrigleyville for the guy.  Even then-governor Rod Blagojevich piled on, saying, “If the guy needs a pardon, don’t ask this governor” (funny, Mr. Blagojevich, I think you would hear the same thing).  In the heat of the moment, this may have been excusable, but Chicago won’t let this guy show his face in public eight years later.  More people owe Steve Bartman a public apology than anyone in sports history.  I like to believe that even Boston and New York fans would be more understanding that maniac Cubs fans.  Perhaps success makes that easier to say, but losing doesn’t excuse what Chicago has done.  Until Mr. Bartman is given his life back, Chicago will remain a target for the Airing of Grievances.  Given the type of people who make up the Cubs population, though, maybe Steve is better off being excluded, or becoming a White Sox fan.

That’s all I’ve got.  Hallelujah, holy shit!  Where’s the Tylenol?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yankees post-mortem

Full disclaimer before I rail against the New York Yankees (or as my brother so aptly calls them, the Stanks), everything that I’m about to write I’ve expressed at some point during the season. Don’t call me Captain Hindsight, I’ve seen this collapse coming for some time. But it could have been avoided.
The Yankees biggest flaw comes at the top of the clubhouse -- Joe Girardi. He lives and dies by statistics. If his binder tells him to make a move, he does it. There’s no intuition. And I could argue, there’s no faith either. No confidence. Don’t let his hardened exterior fool you, Girardi is the master of panic.
You know why I love Jim Leyland? He could have used Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the ALDS. Verlander was undoubtedly the best pitcher in baseball this season, and could very well win the AL MVP.
But it wasn’t Verlander’s turn in the rotation. So Leyland said he wasn’t going to use his ace, even in the do-or-die game.
Many questioned this decision. But I loved it.
Leyland had real confidence in the starter he was throwing out there -- Doug Fister. He wasn’t going to have Verlander on reserve because he wouldn’t allow himself to think that Fister would fail. The Tigers were going to win or lose behind Fister. And Fister didn’t have to keep looking over his shoulder all game to see if Verlander was warming in the bullpen.
Girardi doesn’t have that confidence in anybody but CC Sabathia.
But what the stubborn Girardi does have is a loyalty to veterans and big-money, big-name players who continually fail in the clutch.
Mark Teixeira, who plays a nice first base and hits a lot of home runs, hasn’t had a big hit in his pinstripe career. If you want Teixeira to drive in a run, it better be the first inning or the Yanks better have a seven-run lead.
Did it surprise anyone that he hit two home runs against the Rays in game 162 -- a game that meant the world to Tampa Bay but was completely worthless to New York?
Teixeira should bat no higher than seventh.
And A-Rod? I’m finally over him.
He’s pathetic. Seriously, he should go back to the ’roids, because whatever he’s doing now, it ain’t working.
Yes, the Tigers have a pretty good pitching staff. But 79-year-old Jorge Posada was the Yanks’ best hitter in the series. You’re telling me that Tex and A-Rod couldn’t get one meaningful hit between them?
They’re big names with big contracts, but Girardi simply cannot afford to keep batting them in the heart of the lineup.
And speaking of the lineup, how can Girardi not give Jesus Montero more than two at-bats in this series? He’s a rookie, but he’s also a stud. He had two at-bats and had two hits against the Tigers, but as the Yankees clearly couldn’t get anything going offensively in Game 5, why not give him an AB? What have you got to lose.
Girardi, who couldn’t make enough pitching changes apparently, didn’t make one single change in his lineup during the game. Really? Except for Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Posada, nobody was swinging the bat well. So why not give Montero a shot? You gotta do something -- can’t just sit back and watch A-Rod continually strike out.
I’ve questioned Girardi’s managerial style since he took over as the Yankees skipper. It’s too National League for my liking.
But aside from his style, his decision-making is awful.
All you need to know is that earlier in the season, Ivan Nova get demoted to Triple-A. By the end of the season, he was clearly New York’s No. 2 starter.
When I heard Nova had been sent down, I nearly had a heart attack. Here’s a young kid who I thought should have made the postseason roster a year ago, and now a year later, Girardi still doesn’t understand how great he is.
He won 16 games as a rookie! And spent nearly a month in the minors!
Seriously, Girardi is killing me.
Look, I never thought the Yankees were going to win the World Series this year. I just felt they had too many flaws -- they relied too heavily on the long ball, the bottom of the rotation was inconsistent, CC struggled in August and September.
But to go out like this, to lay down offensively in the season’s final game, it’s inexcusable.
I blame Girardi. I blame Teixeira. I blame A-Rod.
All three have a lot to prove to me and to all Yankees fans. Because they all made the offseason a little bit longer and a little bit tougher to deal with.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My new best friend, Terrence Howard

Here’s the story of my first celebrity encounter in D.C.
I was going to meet some co-workers at the Newseum last Saturday around noon. I was walking the three blocks from the metro to the museum when two middle-aged ladies stopped me to ask where Eastern Market was.
Me, being a D.C. expert at this point, informed the lovely ladies that they’d be better off taking the metro to Eastern Market, because it was quite a lengthy, uphill walk.
At that exact moment, one of them point behind me and says, “He’s famous.”
I immediately turn around and see Terrence Howard walking toward me.
At that point I realize that I’m also standing in from of The Capital Grille, a swanky well-known restaurant, and I’m partially blocking the door.
Now, looking back I’m impressed that I even recognized the man. Seriously, when I rehashed this story with all my friends, the typical response was “Who’s Terrence Howard?”
And thinking about it, it’s a fair question? Mr. Howard is clearly thought of as one of Hollywood’s best actors, but what has he actually done?
He was in that rap movie (Which after a quick IMDB search, I found was Hustle and Flow). He was in Crash, but everyone was in Crash. He was in the first Iron Man, but was replaced by Don Cheadle in the sequel.
Other than that, he hasn’t been in much I, or anyone, has heard of.
So back to the story … Terrence Howard is walking toward me, and I’m kind of stunned at the moment but realize I’ve got to do something.
So I say the only thing that pops into my mind.
“You’re Terrence Howard.”
And his response: “Yeah.”
At this point I’m flustered. In hindsight I should have taken a picture with him, or asked him something of relevance. I mean, I used to be a reporter damnit. You’d think I could think up something clever.
So, being a complete doofus, I hit him back with this gem.
“You were great in Crash.”
He said, “Thanks,” and literally couldn’t get away from me faster.
And off he went, disappearing into The Capital Grille wearing a suit worth more than I’ll make in a year.
That’s the story of my encounter with Terrence Howard.
It was short, not substantial, and I sounded like an idiot.
But it still fired me up.
Though I wish I had asked him a question, something good. Like, “Why did Don Cheadle replace you in Iron Man 2?” I’m sure it would have pissed him off, but it had to have been better than “You’re Terrence Howard.”
Oh well.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Head's up: Watch out for falling satellites,0,1661464.story

Wait a minute ... so satellites are falling on us now? How is this not a bigger story? I like how NASA says the bus-sized satellite will land "most likely harmlessly." Makes me feel safe.

I thought the only thing I needed to worry about was earthquakes and hurricanes. Add falling satellites to my list of anxieties now. Thanks NASA.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This is why I love John Day

This is (hopefully) the first in a series called "I'm Not Impressed," as I have a conversation with my dad, John Day, and relay his opinions about certain topics.

Today, obviously, John Day tackles Syracuse's inevitable move to the ACC. Below are my favorite quotes from our conversation:

"We’re not a football school. (Daryl Gross) thinks we can be Texas or Oklahoma. It ain’t gonna happen. Wake up."

"He’s gonna make a lot of enemies. I can’t believe some of the big alumni, some of the big donors are gonna be happy with this."

"I don’t give a shit what, we’re always going to be second fiddle to Duke and North Carolina."

"You think anybody’s gonna give a shit when Clemson comes to the Dome. You think Florida State is gonna sell out when SU goes down there?"

"(Syracuse) is cutting jobs and now they’ve got to pay a big penalty for leaving (the Big East). There better be a lot more money in this than we know."

"Ask Boston College how the ACC is. How did the move go for them? What the hell have they won lately?"

Syracuse-to-ACC is about one thing -- Dolla dolla bills y'all

I was all ready to get back in the blog game this weekend with an epic editorial on why Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” was the most groundbreaking and game-changing music video of my lifetime.
But Syracuse-ACC talk put that on hold. (Don’t worry Britney fans, it’s half written and will be posted soon)
According to multiple sources, Syracuse and Pittsburgh have filed paperwork to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.
First off, when you’re talking about SU, this is one man’s decision -- athletic director Daryl Gross. Jim Boeheim was not consulted on this decision. Nor was Doug Marrone.
This is a flat out money grab by Gross, who has been a central New Yorker for a minute and a half.
And this move is 100 percent about money because college football drives the bus. The Big East has been the most dominant conference in college basketball for the past decade, but when it comes to revenue, hoops can’t compete with the pigskin.
It’s not about what’s best for SU, which is what Gross will try to sell us on in the coming weeks. It’s about cash. And being from L.A., I guess we should have expected this from the Doctor.
This move, if it goes down, is a spit in the face of the Big East. Syracuse is a FOUNDING MEMBER of the conference. There’s a hell of lot of history there.
So when the Orange head to the ACC (I just threw up in my mouth a little) you can kiss goodbye any rivalry with Georgetown or UConn. You can forget about playing in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. And adios Big Mondays -- the ACC plays on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Yippee! (No more McDonough, Bilas and Raftery. I’m bitter)
First you hire Greg Robinson, now you take SU to the ACC? Really, Doc Gross? I’m convinced, now more than ever, that Gross was hired by someone at Georgetown to infiltrate Syracuse and take down the institution from the inside. He’s off to a pretty good start.
OK, so maybe Syracuse is jumping the gun and joining up with a mega-conference before it’s left on the outside looking in. (Because seriously, the road we’re headed down, there’s only going to be like 4 conferences left in about 5 years)
But my question is, why the ACC? Sure, the Big East is atrocious at football. But the ACC is no better than the fifth best football conference right now, behind the SEC, Pac-10, Big 12 and Big Ten.
Is the ACC really that much better than the Big East?
Virginia Tech is pretty good, but they choke every season. And Florida State is ranked highly this year, but the ’Noles haven’t been relevant for a decade.
And if the ACC is looking to add strength, why bring in Pitt and Syracuse? It’s not like adding Oklahoma and Texas. These teams were rich in football history at one point, but not lately.
This whole thing makes me sick. And I hope it does the same to the SU alumni.
Syracuse IS the Big East. You take away its conference, you take away its identity.
And remember six years ago when we all scoffed at Boston College, Miami and Va. Tech. We all called them “cowards” for leaving the Big East for the ACC.
Well, nobody likes a hypocrite.
So the venom that comes our way in the next year, it’s all deserved. If Syracuse bolts for the ACC, a conference, in my opinion, with about a tenth of the history of the Big East, then WE ARE cowards.
Gross is too ambitious. Just let things play out -- stop panicking.
Because things are pretty damn good at the moment. The Syracuse football team won its first bowl game in 10 years and is slowly coming back to prominence. And the hoops team is most definitely going to be a top-10 team and a possible national title contender.
Things are good up on the hill.
Why change it up now?
So after Syracuse’s game at USC tonight, let’s hope the Orange leave southern California with a win and without their AD. Stay out on the West Coast, Doc Gross. They love drama out there.
Out here, we love the Big East.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another future Syracuse (and regrettably, Giants) fan is born

Congratulations to Eli and Kristin Wolford, who welcomed a 7-pound, 1-ounce son into their lives Sept. 2,  Owen Robert Wolford (I would have named him after Steve Perry or Jack Bauer, but whatever). And remember, it's never too early to brainwash him into being a Yankee and Syracuse fan. Can't wait to see him. I bet Jack's excited to be a big brother!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Couples doesn't back up tough talk on Tiger

So it recently hit me -- man, I used to be a sports writer. So why the hell am I not writing about sports?
Here we go.
I’ll take a break from being the old man yelling from his porch to be, well, the old man yelling at Fred Couples. (Nothing like reaching a key demo with some golf talk. Maybe next week I’ll break down professional bull riding!)
Frankly, I’m disappointed that Couples so casually added Tiger Woods to the United States’ Presidents Cup team on Thursday, just one week after calling out the former greatest golfer alive.
Couples, the U.S. captain and a PGA Tour veteran and fan favorite, stunned many when he “dared” to challenge Tiger publicly, saying that Woods needed to play in more golf tournaments.
Calling out Tiger used to be a career killer, for golfers and media alike. Woods is known for having a long memory, and if you got on his bad side he’d either crush you on the course or refuse to speak to you. (There’s a long-standing rumor that Woods wouldn’t do interviews with CBS’ Peter Kostis for years because Kostis had a close relationship with Phil Mickelson. And let’s just say the relationship between Tiger and Lefty has never been warm and fuzzy)
But Couples did it -- he called out Woods. He made it quite clear, if Tiger was going to be selected to play in the Presidents’ Cup, he would have to play more golf. Which, you know what, makes a helluva lot of sense.
You cannot dispute that Woods doesn’t deserve to play in the Cup. (Which, seriously, nobody ever cared about in the first place. It’s like tennis’ Davis Cup -- if it ain’t Wimbledon, nobody’s paying attention)
Tiger is three-plus years removed from his last major. During that span he’s wrecked his marriage, lost most of his sponsors, undergone two knee surgeries and suffered one of the biggest and most humiliating public embarrassments that any athlete or celebrity has ever endured.
And besides that, he can’t drive the ball in the fairway anymore.
Tiger Woods is no better than an average professional golfer at the moment.
But would you still want him on your team? It’s hard to argue. His career resume should get him a free pass to the Presidents’ and Ryder Cup teams for at least another decade.
But after all his tough talk, Couples just rolled over this week, saying, “There is no reason for me to wait till Sept. 26 (the cutoff date for Couples to set his Cup roster) to pick Tiger. He’s the best player in the world forever.”
C’mon Freddy, stick to your guns. If I didn’t know any better I’d say that quote was crafted directly from Tiger’s PR people.
It’s tough for me to swallow because I think that Couples was right in the first place. Tiger has never played in many tournaments. He picks and chooses his spots, and more power to him, he’s still been successful.
But there are plenty other good, young American golfers that are playing at a much higher level than Woods right now and also play in 20-25 tournaments per season.
Don’t they deserve a spot more?
With that said, if I were captain you’re damn right I’d pick Tiger. Leaving him off the roster would be like passing up Michael Jordan when you’re picking teams for 5-on-5 -- he may be washed up but jeez, he’s still Michael Freaking Jordan.
It made me so happy to hear someone call out Woods though. He claims to have changed, that the Bimbo Patrol and his little car accident made him into a new man with new priorities.
And yet, this New Tiger still plays in relatively no PGA tournaments, is still icy with the media and, oh yeah, stinks at golf.
So yeah, he’s changed all right. He doesn’t win any more -- that’s a big change.
In the grand scheme of things I don’t mind that Couples selected Woods for the Presidents’ Cup team, I just wish he wouldn’t have flip-flopped so much. Don’t talk tough then get all soft on us.
Every now and then I think Woods needs to be reminded that he’s not an iconic figure anymore. That he’s not untouchable. That he can’t get away with never playing golf tournament and being an ass to everybody that asks him a question.
But that’s what Tiger does.
And it’ll be interesting to see how much the interest lasts if he continues to not contend in these tournaments.
Woods still drives the bus that is the PGA Tour -- ratings double every time he’s in the field. So of course he’s playing in the Presidents’ Cup, it’s apparently not golf unless Tiger is involved.
And while I find it difficult to fault Couples’ decision, I don’t agree with his logic. Woods needs to earn a spot on the U.S. roster with his play, not with his aura.
And when I say “play,” I don’t necessarily mean his scores. I mean, he actually has to PLAY golf competitively. (I know, it must be daunting to get paid to play 18 holes while someone carries your bag for you. Very stressful)
But to me, it doesn’t even seem like Tiger is making an effort to change.
And that’s why I agree with Couples from last week, and am disappointed with Couples from this week.
Someone needed to light a fire under Tiger’s ass, and I thought Freddy was the man to do it.
Apparently not.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

When we want your opinion, West Coast, we'll ask for it

West Coasters are already making light of Tuesday’s 5.8 quake. (
So that didn’t take long.
You know what, I’m gonna give ’em this one.
If they need to believe they’re better than us for a day, I say go for it. We’ll take the other 364.
Because it’s funny that the East Coast isn’t prepared for earthquakes. We’re too busy running the damn country to reinforce our skyscrapers.
What we are prepared for are blizzards, ice storms and hurricanes. God knows, if one inch of snow fell on Southern California the entire Western seaboard would shut down.
I mean, you voted the Terminator as your governor! And we’re supposed to take your opinion seriously?
Your biggest city doesn’t even have an NFL team! Really?
We just hand out NFL franchises here on the East Coast -- even to our shitty cities. Why else would anyone want to go to Buffalo or Jacksonville?
And you know what, if I was that high on medicinal marijuana I probably wouldn’t have been scared during the earthquake either.
So shut up, West Coast. We don't care what you think, ever.
And the baffling thing is, I don’t know how West Coasters found the time to criticize us, with all their psychotherapist appointments and the hours they spend each day making the rest of us feel guilty for not driving hybrids.
Go back to your cafĂ© lattes. Go back to your screenplays and life coaches. We don’t care what you think about us.
You’re three hours behind us for a reason, West Coast.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Random Rantings

- Money? Yachts? Prostitutes? Was The U just a giant Puff Daddy music video from the '90s?
- Hey Michelle Bachmann, if you know how to lower taxes, increase jobs and drop gas prices to $2 per gallon, could you let us know, like, now. I know you're planning on dropping these truth bombs on us when you're President, but I find it un-American that you're making us wait. (P.S. I do agree with you that carbon dioxide is not harmful. It simply cannot be, because you've been spewing volumes of it the last few months and we're all still here. In your face, 8th grade science teacher!)
- David Ortiz tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. This isn't breaking news -- it was actually reported in 2009. Yet, nobody seems to remember. Thought I'd remind everybody.
- Ray Lewis got 12 months probation. Plaxico Burress served two years in prison. Just sayin'.
- Yo, New Yorkers, anything north of NYC doesn't classify as "upstate." Binghamton is in the Southern Tier. Syracuse is in the center of the state. Yonkers isn't freaking UPSTATE! You're not in "upstate" New York unless you can make it to Canada on a quarter tank of gas.
- What's with all these fast food franchises adding sea salt to their fries? Get that healthy crap outta here. Believe me, nobody gains five pounds after eating fast food and is surprised. When you walk into an Arby's, you know what you're getting into. There's no need to pretend to be healthy. If you want sea salt, shop at Whole Foods.
- Luke Donald, the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, was recently whining about the 260-yard par-3 at the PGA Championship, saying that pro golfers should never have to hit woods off the tee on par 3s. Really, Luke Donald? God forbid you actually are challenged on a golf course. Because I make my living (millions less than you, by the way) hitting woods on par 3s. And I'm allowed to complain about it because I suck at golf and I actually carry my own bag. What a baby. WAAAAAHH, I don't wanna hit a wood off the tee. WAAAAAHHHH! Either win a major or quit bitching.
- Pennsylvania is simply the worst state ever (though I've never been to either Dakota, I can't believe they're any worse). You'd think with all the road construction going on that its highways would, at some point in time, be in good shape. Also, way to be conservative by blocking off a lane for 5 miles when you're working on a 20-foot strip of road. Efficiency -- that's what Pennsylvania is all about.
- You can rip the Jersey Shore people all you want, but currently The Situation is getting paid big money to get drunk, sleep with chicks, and now NOT wear Abercrombie & Fitch. If he ain't a genius, I don't know who is.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Best Show You're Not Watching

Remember when TV Guide would put out its yearly “The Best Show You’re Not Watching” edition? (Or maybe the more relevant question is, does anyone remember TV Guide?)
Well, now it’s my turn.
And the best show you’re not watching is Breaking Bad.
Basically I’ve been addicted to three shows in my lifetime -- The X-Files, 24 and Lost.
Breaking Bad now makes four.
To sum up the series, it’s about a high school science teacher who gets diagnosed with cancer and resorts to cooking meth to pay off his medical bills. (Makes sense)
It’s dark, no doubt. But the characters are deep and tremendously played. There’s a good bit of humor and there’s plenty of moments that make you hold your breath … even though everybody knows the main characters aren’t going to die.
But that’s when you know a show is great. There was no chance in hell that Jack Bauer was going to die on 24. Not by Nina. Not by the Salazars. Not even when that nuke detonated in downtown L.A.
And yet, every episode you were on the edge of your seat screaming at the TV, rooting Jack on.
Epic television.
Breaking Bad is similar in that way. It’s a lot more dynamic than 24 (which had a very predictable structure, even though it separated itself from the television pack by killing off nearly everybody but Jack Bauer and clearly informing the audience that NO ONE is safe). Breaking Bad is also more character driven -- there are very few shootouts or car chases. It’s all about what’s said or not said. In fact, some of the series’ most powerful scenes haven’t included a single line of dialogue. (And if anyone out there does watch the show, the scene in this year’s premiere involving Gus is a great example)
I don’t expect people to go out and start watching The X-Files or Lost from the beginning -- those are genre shows that require a whole lot of time and a whole lot of brainpower.
Breaking Bad is in its fourth season and there’s only 10-13 eps per season. So there’s no reason you shouldn’t be watching.
In fact, I give you this personal guarantee -- go buy, rent or (clearing throat) illegally download the first season, which is only seven episodes, and you WILL be hooked.
Who doesn’t want to watch a middle aged science teacher transform into Tony Montana?
Believe me, Breaking Bad is the best thing on television right now … and it’s not even close.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Return to writing

One might argue that the day I stopped being a writer was the day I moved to D.C.
No more press passes. No bylines. My days of sitting courtside at the Carrier Dome, sadly, were over.
I had been a sports writer for seven years -- 2 at Ithaca College and 5 at The Citizen newspaper in Auburn, NY. That’s nothing compared to the decades my father has spent in the business, first in front of a typewriter, now a laptop.
But to me, seven years felt like an eternity.
Now, it’s been nearly three months since I’ve written anything more than an email. I’m officially an “assistant editor” at my new job in Washington, which is a fancy way of saying I proofread press releases and add commas to text when needed.
But any writer will tell you -- you never really stop being a writer.
For four years I wrote columns at The Citizen, mostly about Syracuse football and basketball. Column writing is tricky -- it’s typically an opinion, which means you’re probably going to piss off at least a portion of your readers, if not a majority.
Luckily for me, I am highly opinionated on all topics. I am undoubtedly my father’s son, who taught me long ago that the louder your voice gets, the more you know about any subject.
So column writing was perfect for me, because even if I know nothing about a topic, I can convince you that I do.
My final column at The Citizen was following Syracuse’s second-round exit in this year’s NCAA tournament. I spent 904 words trashing Scoop Jardine, the junior point guard who nearly single-handedly corrupted the Orange’s season. It was ruthless and possibly unfair at times.
But it was pure passion on the page.
I loved it.
And it wasn’t something that had just occurred to me at the time -- it was a thesis that I had developed throughout the season. I didn’t just suddenly turn on Scoop. I had seen, and predicted, that Syracuse’s demise would be at his hand. And while I remain an Orange diehard at heart, I did take some joy in being entirely correct. (Which is what we writers do. When we finally get something right, you’re GOING to hear about it.)
I haven’t turned any opinions to text in recent months, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been crafting columns. I write them in my head nearly every day -- in the shower, on my walk to the metro, when I’m laying in bed at night. I formulate expansive opinions on everything, from Tiger Woods (you can’t ACT like Old Tiger when you’re PLAYING like New Tiger) to the weather in D.C. (It’s freaking Ecuador here. I seriously haven’t stopped sweating in two months).
So it’s time that I put these words to paper, or in this case, on the Internet.
Nobody may read this blog, and you know what, that’s fine with me. I always contended that I wrote columns purely to entertain myself, and if I can make myself think, or make myself laugh, then others may do the same as well.
I have no hopes of turning this blog into The Big Lead or Barstool, despite the visions of Ryan Patenaude, who apparently is my business manager as well as my close friend.
My goal of this blog is pure and simple -- to write. So I’ll pen a few columns about Syracuse football and basketball. I may tackle a few issues within the NBA and NFL. I may also write a bit about TV and movies, or about the D.C. metro which is going to give me an aneurysm sooner rather than later.
Basically, if I construct a column in my head, I’m eventually going to share it on this forum.
And from time to time, we’re going to have a few guest bloggers as well -- John Day has expressed an interest, as have my former colleague Kristin Wolford and one of the best dressed men on Capitol Hill, Todd Garvey.
I won’t be writing daily. And I won’t have any breaking news or inside information. If you want that, follow Adam Shefter on Twitter.
But what I will have is a venue to vent. It’ll be my own personal therapy.
Hopefully it’ll make you think or make you laugh. At times it may do both. At times it may do neither.
Either way, I’ll be able to write again. And that’s what I do.