Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reds Broadcast Team = Unmatched Talent

For reasons impossible to justify I haven't made fun of Cincinnati Reds announcers this season.

(Note: "Cincinnati Reds announcers" means people not named Marty Brennaman.)

How I've neglected to bang on George Grande thus far, I have no idea. For that, I sincerely apologize. My favorite running gimmick in '08 was my "Hi, Hello and Welcome" series and I promise to revisit it once the NBA season concludes.

And Jeff Brantley -- aka "The Mississippi Wordsmith" -- has been just as lucky. There's no excuse for why I haven't taken him to task. Consider: His grasp of the English language remains laughable (remember, it's his job to speak for a living)...he recently referred to a Latin American player as a "Spanish dude," which is inexcusable on about a four million different levels (and he wasn't trying to be funny; he just didn't know the difference)...and in so many words Brantley mentioned how he thought Memorial Day simply honored all dead people.

Most of all, Brantley's consistent criticism of Edinson Volquez this season has been so unfair and hypocritical that I'm getting upset just thinking about it.

But that's not why we're here, boys and girls. I promise to bring the thunder to Jeff Brantley before too long. Just not today. I gots me some other fish to fry.

Today's target can be seen throughout every televised Reds game. He co-hosts the pre-game show! He helps wrap up the game! And a few times during each telecast he can be seen in the stands, not only chatting back and forth with George Grande and Chris Welsh (or whoever's calling the game), but also giving us a feel of the ballpark experience (which often includes playful banter with the fans)!

That is his job, and he's had it for several years.

His name is Jim Day, and he might be the luckiest man in all of broadcasting.

Is he handsome? No. Does he know anything about baseball? Not that I can tell? Is he funny? Of course not. Is he even mildly entertaining when he mixes it up with the fans, as he's so often asked to do? If awkward and uncomfortable = mildly entertaining, then yes. Does he possess an ounce of improvisational skill? Hardly. What about an indefinable likability. Sorry.

Let's see...no charm, no charisma, no wit, no discernible talent...I must be missing something. Let me ask it another way:

Does he bring a single positive element to the broadcast? Not even close, bud.

And think, Jim Day has a highly coveted job in broadcasting.

(Note: He also has a similar role on Columbus Blue Jackets broadcasts)

Look, I'm not asking the guy to be Kenny Mayne, but the job should require some talent, and it clearly doesn't. Thousands of people throughout the tri-state area are more than capable of providing a boost to the broadcast, and yet Fox Sports settles on a guy who brings nothing to the table.

But why, Brad? Why is Jim Day's job secure?

Unless he's having unprotected intercourse with the daughter of the man who hired him, it comes down to laziness.

Viewers aren't necessarily avoiding the Reds games just because Day is on for ninety seconds every few innings. Sure, fans might mute their Samsung television when Day's on the screen, but ratings aren't taking a hit as a result. And therein lies the problem: Since Day doesn't take away from the Reds TV ratings, his job is safe. In other words, the folks who sign his paychecks are pleased with the overall numbers and don't see the need of bringing in new blood. They're lazy.

But what the dopes at Fox Sports are overlooking is that a supreme talent (again, someone like Kenny Mayne) might attract more eyes to their product. And more eyes equal more dollars.

Think about it: It's late August, the Reds are sixteen games back of the Cardinals, and the starting pitcher is a 28-year-old vagabond who just got called up from AAA Louisville...are you watching? Hell no. Not for the whole game. Sure, you might tune in to watch Jay Bruce or Joey Votto hit, but you're certainly not going to waste your time watching pitch after pitch of a meaningless game played by insignificant players. What's the point?

But if you knew every other inning (or twice a game, or whatever) the FSN broadcast would feature a truly creative wacko up in the stands, mixing it up with the drunks, well, wouldn't you watch? I would.

Gimmicky segments generally drive me crazy -- I mostly just want to watch the game -- but they're here to stay. That being the case, isn't it unfathomable that a talentless dullard like Jim Day has a stranglehold on such a plum job?

Is it possible I care too much about this stuff? Maybe. Is it somewhat embarrassing? Yes. Yes it is.

But anyway, one day in the near future -- I'm thinking sixty years from now -- Jim Day will retire from his post as pre-game host/wacky guy in the stands. And his replacement will undoubtedly provide an upgrade.

It would be impossible to be any worse.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bengals Draft Local Punter; This Makes Them Stupid

Allow me to go back in time to April 26, 2009, day two of the NFL draft. And allow me to paraphrase a guy wearing a fancy suit:

"With the sixth pick of the fifth round, the Cincinnati Bengals select Kevin Huber, punter, University of Cincinnati."

The world barely noticed. It was understandable. It had all the ingredients of Who Cares: A team nobody cares about, selecting a mammal who plays a position nobody knows about, drafted in a round that is generally insignificant.

Typically this would've been insignificant with casual (and probably some diehard) Bengals fans, as well.

But Kevin Huber played collegiate football in this city. He was a Bearcat. And the Bearcats were good last year. So everybody is convinced it was a great pick (or at least a wise move).

Let me tell you, it's a lousy move. And I think I'd have a better chance of convincing you had Huber gone to Utah or Michigan State or anywhere else on this goddamn planet besides UC. But, still, allow me to try...

The Bengals' punter for the last couple of seasons was a human being named Kyle Larson. He wasn't particularly good; in fact, he was subpar. But in all his subpar-ness, I'm almost certain his ability to kick (and accurately place) an oblong object was never the determining factor in a Bengals loss (or win). Translation: Superstar punter or not, the Bengals would've stunk up the joint in '07 and '08.

Two things before continuing:

1. Punting is important. I know this. I may be an idiot -- I received a D+ in 4th grade social studies -- but I'm an expert on the subject of punting. I even have a "Punt Like Ray Guy" instructional video tape in my VCR (not true)! Anyway, I'm not discrediting the import of punting and/or special teams. I need you to believe me. Really, I do. Punting is important. Okay? Okay.

2. Larson needed to be replaced. There are 32 punters in the entire league, and teams cannot put up with lousy kicking year in and year out.

Let's focus on No. 2 for a second.

Yes, Larson needed to be replaced. Everybody agrees. But that's also when people start lying.

Whenever I voice my displeasure over the Kevin Huber selection (which is often, for some reason), Bengals fans always respond by telling me it was a smart move, and that they needed an upgrade at punter. What they really mean is, "Huber went to UC, and I want him to cheer for the hometown guy."

Admit it, you justified the Huber selection solely because he played at the local university. Because really, if you open your eyes, it was a bone-headed decision orchestrated by the folks who have perfected bone-headed decisions.

And why do I say these things about a guy who might end up having a spectacular career?



The Bengals needed a punter this offseason, but "punter" was not one of their "needs," if that makes any sense. Facts: (a.) The Bengals have holes everywhere; (b.) Punters are a dime-a-dozen.

Without looking, I'm going to guess Kyle Larson averaged around 40 yards per punt last season; I'll assume this placed him among the five or ten worst in the league. I'm also going to guess that the gentleman who finished No. 5 overall in punting averaged something like 44 yards per punt. See what I'm saying?

One guy is considered great, while the other is a bum. But the difference between the two isn't jaw-dropping. Hell, it's damn near negligible (depending on your definition of negligible, of course).

The great teams wouldn't necessarily take a hit in the Win column with Larson around, just as a lousy team wouldn't receive an enormous boost from a perennial Pro Bowler. It's a nice asset -- especially in the postseason -- but it's still just a punter.

So, while I agree that Larson had to go...and I agree that Huber will (probably) provide a marginal upgrade...I can't stop thinking the Bengals wasted a pick. Wasted. It's not that Huber won't be serviceable (or even better than decent), it's that the Bengals could've found a similarly talented punter in the college free agency pool.

And with that fifth round pick the Bengals could've drafted an unknown black from a tiny Division II school -- a low-risk-high-reward roll of the dice. We sit it every year. This black would've had a lot to prove. But he had the potential. He could run fast and hit hard (or make people miss, or whatever). And this black, albeit a project, could've turned into a true difference maker (even though he would probably get cut in training camp).

In other words: I'd rather take a position player with a slim chance of becoming special, as opposed to a punter who will almost certainly be average (and replaceable).

Punters are like women: Find yourself a decent one and go about your life. And if you stumble upon a great one, even better. But it's rarely an intelligent decision to spend too much time searching for one.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Everything About Everything (Including Sports!)

I doesn't know where to start. It was forever ago the last time I posted daily thoughts in this space. There are reasons for that, of course. But reasons don't matter. I'm way behind on things and I need to share my words with the universe (and by "universe," I mean my hardcore following in Cheviot) before the Apocalypse.

I have a longstanding problem with brevity. I'm damn near allergic to it. I have no idea how to make a point using only a sentence or two. But if I'm going to pump out even a small fraction of my thoughts I'll have to try.

(Disclaimer: The following is my attempt to express my opinions [on pretty much everything that's happened over the past two weeks] while achieving brevity at the same time.)

Horny? I knew it. Seriously, I could tell.

Without further ado, here is what I'm burning on:

What? That's taken? Well, let's try this new catchy one I just made up in my brain:

Without further ado, here are the words I've been meaning to write about black people and black people playing professional athletics, not only in Cincinnati, but in places like Denver and Salt Lake City and Canada and Mexico and other countries like Hungary:

Reds-Padres, marathon game...

There's no way to prove this, but I'm about 7 billion percent sure I experienced more pain than the Reds' players did following their 16-inning loss to San Diego. Let's do some counting...

1. Before the start of the season I wagered $150 on Edinson Volquez winning more than 11.5 games. His record sits at 4-2. Not only did he exit the game with back spasms (always tricky) in the 6th inning (just as he was hitting his stride), his team was leading 5-2. A win was imminent. And then Mike Lincoln started doing Mike Lincoln things. And then Arthur Rhodes and David Weathers started walking dudes. And then Weathers was squeezed by homeplate ump -- and world class jackass -- Jim Joyce. And then the score was tied at 5 (wiping away Volquez's fifth win). And I was angry. I used mommy and daddy words beginning with the letter F. My neighbors probably heard. I kind of hope they did. Things would only get worse.

2. With two outs in the top of the 11th, and with runners on 1st and 2nd, Darnell McDonald pinch hit for Jared Burton (predictably he missed a slider by eight feet for strike three). Following such embarrassment, Dusty Baker elected to bring Owings into the game to pitch. My head exploded. Owings needed to bat in that spot! I paced the house like a psychopath. It was Baker's most illogical move yet. Which is saying a lot.

Owings defended Baker in Sunday's Enquirer, and I nearly choked on my vomit:

"The main thing was the last guy down there was Coco (Francisco Cordero)," Owings said. "Say we would have taken the lead, Coco would have come in and we would have had nobody down there."

Let me tell you, boys and girls, that is a load of crap. Baker had to send Owings to the plate and hope for the best. If Owings plates the go-ahead run, wonderful. Now he's the closer, not Cordero. Big deal. Getting three outs against a pathetic San Diego lineup isn't the most daunting of tasks. When games get longer and benches get shorter, you need to manage like it's the postseason, and Baker didn't. He failed. Miserably. For the umpteenth time this year.

Maddening stat from Saturday: In a 16-inning game in which he pitched 5.2 innings, Micah Owings only came to the plate once. Once. One. The same number of plate appearances as Mike Lincoln! Read those words aloud. And then dive off a bridge.

3. Joey Votto left the game with dizziness. This happened less than a week ago, as well. Therefore I am certain he has swine flu. At this point I'd like to thank my mother for being a hypochondriac.

4. Saturday night's hero, Padres catcher Nick Hundley, is a Grade A jerk. I've never shaken this man's hand or offered him a sip of my Dr. Pepper, but I am positive I hate his guts. He is my new most-hated player (taking over for Jim Edmonds, of course). Listen, it's not just the way he acted after hitting the GW homer, it's mostly how he acted after hosing down Phillips at second base in the 13th. He kept his mask off for fifteen seconds or so (about twelve too long), spun around to soak in the moment, and shook his head back and forth, projecting the following message: "Don't Mess With Me! I'm Nick Hundley! You Should Know Better! I'm The Greatest Of All Time!"

I'm telling you, I wanted to punch the guy in the mouth. This wasn't run-of-the-mill showboating, either...this was the act of an arrogant prick. An arrogant prick, I might add, with 291 career at-bats and a .303 on-base percentage. If you think I'm being unfair, you clearly didn't see what I did. And if you did, you pulled your hair out when Hundley threw his bat about 85 feet in the sky after connecting on the game-winner. What a jerk.


Staying on the topic of Reds baseball...

Although Brandon Phillips is currently producing for the Legs, I'm not so sure he'll keep this going. In fact, I'm positive he won't. He drops to his knee with every swing! Tom Emanski would not approve.


For the first few weeks of the season Dusty Baker didn't bat Votto-Bruce three-four in the lineup so he could avoid going lefty-lefty. Meanwhile, Chris Dickerson (a lefty) batted second, directly in front of Votto, and nobody made a big deal about this. Double meanwhile, Bruce was dropped to fifth (and he's still there), batting below a right-handed hitting Phillips, who just isn't the hitter Bruce is.

I know I'm a little late with this, but wouldn't it have made more sense to bat Bruce second and drop Dickerson to eighth or something? From now until the end of time there should never be a game where either Dickerson or Phillips come to the plate more times than Bruce.


Somebody needs to explain Bronson Arroyo to me. I watch more sports than pretty much everybody I know, and I generally figure things out with the teams/players I root for. With Arroyo, I haven't the slightest clue what he's going to do next. His good stuff looks like his bad stuff. His start-to-start performances baffle me.


Funniest Adam Rosales-themed text messages I received this week...

From Kevin: "What if there's a guy on first base when he hits a home run?"

From Colly Boy: "Rosales looks like Zebras in America."


Sticking with baseball, but ending Reds discussion...

A few weeks ago I found this juicy stat o
n Rob Neyer's blog:

Since the MLB draft began in 1965, there have been 246 hitters who were chosen in the top 10 overall picks and 199 pitchers. So 55 percent were hitters. On 25-man squad, if 14 are players and 11 pitchers, then hitters are 56 percent. That explains the draft ratio.

In the entire history of the June draft since 1965, NO PITCHER who was taken in the Top 10-overall picks has ever had a Hall of Fame career. Zero. None. Zilch. And none close.

It's nerdy Lance McAlister stuff, I know, but this should temper your enthusiasm when the Reds draft the next Chris Gruler in the 2009 draft.


Moving along to basketball...

I was dead wrong about Rajon Rondo. Probably the wrongest I've ever been about anyone. Coming out of college I was sure he would stink up the joint, and finish his career in the Icelandic B League. Turns out he's a star. Turns out I'm a shithead.


This last point is important. So listen up...

In part two of Bill Simmons's highly entertaining
three-part Q & A with Malcolm Gladwell, Simmons brought up the topic of Len Bias, and as I was reading these words, my skin began to boil. Simmons had written about Bias dozens of times in the past, and it's always bothered me, but this time he went too far.


In my book, I make the point that we spent so many years searching for an archrival for Jordan -- the Frazier to his Ali, someone who'd bring the best out of him -- when really, that player was Lenny Bias, and one cocaine binge ruined what should have been a fierce rivalry. Of the incoming NBA stars from 1984-90, only Bias possessed the talent and swagger to stand up to MJ in his prime.

He was going to be Jordan's chief rival? Really? He never even practiced with the Celtics! And if he was destined for a Hall-of-Fame career, then why wasn't he the first overall pick of the draft? Oh, I get that he was great at Maryland. But a lot of guys are great in college. Adam Morrison was a superstar at Gonzaga, and a top three pick. But, you know what? He's going to be out of the league before you can say Anbesol. He's a unmitigated bust. It happens. But if Morrison had been killed in a car accident the night before the draft he'd be the subject of six or seven documentaries by now. It's ridiculous.

Bias might have been great, or he might have been a bust. Bias might have been a three-time All Star, or he may have been a solid rotaion guy for eight years.

But to say a guy who never played in the NBA was the only guy with the talent to stand up to Jordan, and that he was going to be Jordan's chief rival...I...I...still can't believe Simmons was responsible for those words

Bill Simmons is still the best sports writer alive, but that ranks among the dumber things I've ever read.


Quick NBA predictions: Nuggets over Lakers, 4-2; Cavs over Magic, 4-1


End of words. So much for brevity.

-Brad Spieser

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

National Folks Are Praising Dusty Baker. No, Really!

It was just three days ago when I half-jokingly suggested you'd consider Dusty Baker a genius for pinch-hitting Micah Owings in a critical situation in the ninth inning. Since then, two credible outlets kinda sorta called Baker a genius for sending Owings to the plate in the most critical situation.

First, Jayson Stark:

How can you not love Micah Owings? How can you not love Dusty Baker for sending a pitcher up there to pinch hit, down a run with two outs in the ninth? How can you not love both of them for conspiring to produce one of the most amazing moments of the whole season?

Next, something called Baseball Analysts (which is only credible because Rob Neyer links to them all the time):

Maybe Dusty Baker knows what he’s doing.

On Sunday night the Cincinnati Reds trailed the St. Louis Cardinals by a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases empty. Baker pinch hit pitcher Micah Owings for the fifth time this season. Clearly, Owings is not your average pitcher. He pitches respectably, but carries a big stick. Owings had been 2-4 on the year as a pinch hitter which was better than his 2-3 Win-Loss record as a starter.

Two things:

1. Click on the Baseball Analysts link for a beakdown of Micah Owings, the hitter. It's really nerdy baseball shit, but it's interesting, as well.

2. As stated above, both Jayson Stark and Baseball Analysts. As stated in the nest four seconds, both Jayson Stark and Baseball Analysts are jackasses. Well, that or they don't have all the information surrounding Owings' dramatic home run on Sunday. I'll choose the latter

Darnell McDonald shouldn't be in the big leagues. And he definitely shouldn't get a key late-inning plate appearance in favor of Micah Owings.

Chris Dickerson probably shouldn't be in the big leagues. And he should absolutely positively never ever ever pinch hit in a key late-inning situation against a left-handed relief pitcher.

Willy Taveras has exceeded expectations thus far. Well, he's exceeded my expectations. Regardless, this is not a guy who should be up with two outs in the eighth representing the go-ahead score in a two-run game. Baker had options: He could've moved Hairston from short to center, and brought Janish in to play short. Simple.

Baker screwed up monumentally Sunday, and I'm more than a little sick of reading what a genius he is for it.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fact: Online Pornography Doesn't Cure Ankle Sprains

"Fruit's a gamble. I know that going in."

-Jerry Seinfeld

This also applies to Internet porn and buying things on eBay. Which explains (a.) why I'm typing these words at the library and (b.) why I want to stab a nameless lady who resides in Europe.

The following is a cautionary tale.

I screwed up my right ankle on the last Monday of April. Do the math -- that was a long effing time ago. And by "screwed up," I mean I suffered a sprain. Remember rolling your ankle as a fifteen-year-old? Do you also remember someone much older than you suggesting a sprain can be worse than break? I do. And let me tell you, I thought they were full of crap. It was messed up logic, you know? It's like hearing that you're supposed to make yourself as tall as possible if a grizzly bear approaches you. It just doesn't add up. Any time I've ever been approached by a bear I just shoot them in the brain with a shotgun. And if that doesn't work, I offer them a few salami/cream cheese roll-ups and go about my day. Anyway, a sprain is worse than a break. Trust me, I know these things.

(In case you were wondering, I also don't buy the logic that you shouldn't drive with your brights on during heavy fog. Forgive me, I graduated high school with a 1.9 GPA.)

So, as you can see, I'm struggling with the injury to my lower leg. The one positive, I guess, is that it's delivered me oodles of free time. But mostly I just waste it. I believe I've reached the end of the Internet. Over the past two weeks I've spent an inordinate amount of time on baseball-reference.com (comparing Jay Bruce's OPS with Justin Upton's, obviously) and even more time on eBay, usually searching for WWF videos from the latter portion of the 1980's. It's time-consuming and stupid, but it's an semi-enjoyable way to pass the time. I didn't think it was possible, but I actually don't hate myself when I'm engrossed in my eBay journey.

And, believe it or not, my self loathing does a complete 180 when I score the perfect video. Just one week ago I scored the perfect video. It arrived in the mail yesterday.

I had my Monday planned. I would watch the NBA playoffs, watch the Reds-D'Backs game, eat a handful of Vicodin and pop in my VHS tape of The Best of Saturday Night's Main Event. Sounds glorious, no? Well, heading into the 1:00 A.M. hour, my evening was right on track. Until my video turned out to be a lemon. No audio. No video. Just a bunch of black and white fuzz.

I lost my mind. I was like Micheal Douglas sitting in traffic in Falling Down. I didn't know what to do. I put all my eggs in Ted Dibiase's basket and I was let down in tragic fashion. I was hopeless. I had no reason to live. For a second I wanted an airplane to drive into my bedroom.

And then I grabbed my computer. At first I was going to send a vicious email to the seller of my video. "This woman ripped me off," I screamed to no one in particular. "If she doesn't give me my money back I will swim to London, England and give her a piece 0f my mind."

But then, on my way to emailing the mammal with the screen name bobsnbits123456, I got a little sidetracked. And by "sidetracked," I mean Internet porn.

And listen, I'm not into the naughtiest of naughty pornography. All I need is the paparazzi catching a glimpse of Jessica Alba's side-boob on the beach. Or Heidi Montag picking a wedgie in front of Starbucks. Or whoever doing whatever. I'm easy. But anyway, when you're searching for such PG-13 delights, it's not terribly difficult to stumble upon the naughtiest of the naughty. And I don't know much, but I know this: Four accidental minutes of naughty porn = virus on my expensive piece of technology = Brad sitting at terminal 19 at the Monfort Heights library.


My ankle hurts.
My computer is broken.
I might never get to watch Big Boss Man vs. Hulk Hogan.

There is no escaping this hell.

There's a lesson here, I'm just not sure what it is. Go to college, maybe.

I planned on using this space to write an open letter to my European enemy. I intended on ruining her online reputation. Maybe I could expose her slimy ways. I was thinking it would make you laugh. My goal was to inject Jerry Seinfeld's humorous quote with hopes of making sense of these words.

But that didn't happen. I'm depressed. Plus, I have a deadline.

So, now I'm at the library. And I've wasted your precious time. And my ankle still hurts. And Dusty Baker refuses to fully embrace the awesomeness of Micah Owings. And I kind of want to help Heidi Montag with her wedgie. And I'm about to hit PUBLISH POST. And I'd really like to eat a salami/cream cheese roll-up.

Bears are stupid.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dusty Baker Is Almost Trying To Lose

Micah Owings hits a game-tying homer and we all praise Dusty Baker. Let me tell you, boys and girls, Dusty Baker doesn't deserve your praise.

Micah Owings should not have been at the plate down one with two outs in the bottom of nine. No, not because he's just a pitcher. Surely you're not dumb enough to think I'm dumb enough to write something like that. Micah Owings shouldn't have been at the plate in the ninth because he should've been used earlier in the contest.

Darnell McDonald batted in the seventh down two with two runners on base.

Chris Dickerson faced a lefty -- A GODDAMN LEFTY -- in the eighth down two with a runner on.

Willy Taveras came to the plate in the eighth down two with two runners on.

McDonald and Taveras struck out. Dickerson smoked a pop fly to left field. Predictably, all three were overmatched. I say "predictably" because McDonald, Taveras and Dickerson are routinely overmatched. This is the kind of thing that happens to bad hitters. Bad hitters, I might add, with NO POWER. None. Nothing resembling it, actually. The situations called for one game-changing swing...not small ball.

And my biggest fear in this situation isn't Dusty Baker not knowing about Micah Owings' hitting prowess. My biggest fear is Baker pinch hitting McDonald and Dickerson (and leaving Taveras in) because they're position players, while Owings is a pitcher -- and it's disrespectful to bring a pitcher to the plate instead of an able-bodied position player.

Regardless, Baker was lucky to be able to send Owings to the plate down a run in the ninth. Lucky. Which is a little different than genius. Had Hairston not hit a lead-off HR, it's likely Owings would've have come to the plate down two with nobody on base.

Baker will tell you he was saving Owings for the big moment, but he really just had his head up his ass. The Reds are a limited team, and Dusty Baker isn't doing everything he can to win games. Owings needs to pinch hit in every game he's not starting. Every game. He might be the third best hitter on the club.

Micah Owings thrilled Reds fans with a game-tying HR in the ninth. He could have sent them home happy with a three-run HR in the eighth.

Cardinals 8, Redlegs 7.

Me want to punch people.

Happy Mother's Day, shitheads!

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Shocker: Ronald Artest Receives Technical Foul

Worst case scenario, this Lakers-Rockets series is going six. That means I get (at least) four more of these suckers, which deserve higher ratings than the MASH finale and Super Bowl XXV combined. You want drama, boys and girls, you've come to the right place. I'm talking hostile crowds and sincere enemies. And if you're just a sports fan and you just want basketball played on the highest level, well, Lakers-Rockets delivers the goods in that department, too.

Everyone who's ever been close to me has been annoyed at some point by my obsession with sports. It goes too far, they say. One of my dearest friends, Colly Boy (an accomplished athlete and big sports fan), couldn't stand the fact that I gave up everything I was doing to watch Josh Hamilton come to the plate during the '07 season. I'd say, "You don't understand. This is the most amazing thing in the history of most amazing things." His reply, essentially, was "Grow up."

And it's not just him. I nearly came to blows with a co-worker six years ago because he didn't approve of my desire to hear the latest with Willis McGahee's rehab. (It was a warehouse job, by the way.)

Girls? Forget about it. They crave spontaneity, and the only thing on my mind as we're starting to French kiss is, Shit, I don't want to miss the rest of the game. I need to find a way to go upstairs and TiVo it before clothing is removed.

My biggest fear (aside from snakes, obviously) is missing the big moment. That, to me, is why you watch sports. The big moment. I always hate not having an answer when people call me on a Tuesday morning to ask me about the miraculous comeback on Monday Night Football. It's my job to know these things, and I feel as if I'm letting myself (and others) down when I can't come through.

That's why I'm constantly sleep deprived. I stay up late just to see if something cool will happen.

Last night, something cool happened. And all of the credit goes to tall black men (as always).

But I didn't stay up late to watch game two of Lakers-Rockets; I TiVo'd it (see: spontaneity, above). Which means that upon wake-up this morning I still had to (a.) watch the game in its entirety (including Inside the NBA afterwards), (b.) avoid contact with the outside world (I didn't check email or Facebook until noon), then (c.) get to typing. But just as I started, Howard Stern blind-sided me with a ninety-minute Norm MacDonald interview (can't miss radio every time).

And now I'm here. It's late afternoon and I gots me some words to say regarding Lakers-Rockets.

And you should know, I'll not be providing game analysis today -- just a few comments on Derek Fisher's elbow to Luis Scola's sternum, and of course, the ongoing Kobe/Artest saga.

First, watch Derek Fisher's violent cheap shot in slow motion, then read my follow-up comments...

Two things:

1. I love this stuff. Especially in game two of what will undoubtedly be a lengthy series.

2. This was par for the course with Fisher. The media refuses to acknowledge that Fisher's a borderline dirty player because he's such a nice guy...and he's overly generous with charities...and (I hate to say it) his daughter,
somewhat famously, has eye cancer.

But it doesn't change the fact that he's dirty-----always has been. I enjoy watching the dude play, but he deserves to be suspended for game three. And he needs to be called out by the media.

Now, the important stuff.


What I didn't mention up top, but have a few times recently, is that my ankle is royally screwed up. I have bruising between my toes, and I have bruising on my mid-shin. And the majority of pain is to the immediate sides of my Achilles' tendon. I can't do a damn thing. I can't move. I hop or crawl when I need to make a toilet. And I keep calling off my bar shifts.

I'm running out of money.

I'm depressed.

You'd think I'd make the most of my free time and write 'til my fingers bled (or listen to Bryan Adams a lot). But that's not the case. As an expert in the field of depression (in this case, nine days makes you an expert), I can tell you I simply don't have the motivation to do anything but read books and wait around to watch the Reds and the NBA playoffs. That's it. That's what my life has come down to.

But the Kobe/Artest altercation brought about hope. And it reminded me that swallowing a shotgun is almost never the solution.

I'm sure you saw Kobe Bryant's elbow to Artest's upper chest and the ensuing fallout. If not, here goes:

Kobe's elbow to Artest was no big deal. Ron Ron getting in Kobe's face and the first technical foul were equally un-newsworthy. But here's what nobody -- and I mean NOBODY -- is talking about: Ron Artest, after receiving the first tech, clearly performed a throat-slashing gesture (and made the late-90's proud in the process). But seriously, though, as much as Artest shouldn't be suspended for this (because nobody thinks Artest is actually going to slice Kobe's throat), I'm pretty sure the rule book says otherwise.

Again, nobody is mentioning the throat slash. I watched Inside the NBA and devoured True Hoop-----no dice. I couldn't believe it. Nothing else was on my mind except Artest's silly gesture. If the league office reads my site, however, this could be an interesting development before the series resumes Friday in Houston. Stay tuned.

Anyway, the real reason we're here today...

Did you see Artest's post-game interview? He's one of the more interesting mammals in all of sport. Watch. No no........PLEASE WATCH:

Maybe you've seen interviews with Artest before, maybe you haven't. But I find it hard to believe you could watch something like that and come away thinking he's a punk. You might feel sorry for him (he nearly cried twice in a four-minute span). You might find him amusing. You might scratch your head. You might think he's a bullshitter (but he's no Eddie Haskel). And so on. And so on. Most of all...you like him. Even knowing what you know, it's hard not to be drawn in by Ron Artest. And yes, I just wrote those words.

One of the books I ripped through in recent days was Malcolm Gladwell's Ouliers (which ranks ahead of Blink and maybe even The Tipping Point). It's brilliant. I don't want to spoil anything, but for those who have read Gladwell's latest masterpiece, are you now more understanding of a temperamental guy like Artest? I am. I can't stop relating Artest's behavior to the dozens of Hatfield-and-McCoy-esque family feuds dating back to 1800's Appalachia. How is it any different? (And I apologize if the references don't make any sense; go read the book.)

When Artest says that he once played a pick-up game that resulted in a player being stabbed to death I immediately thought about his inescapable upbringing. Artest didn't relay the story to glorify his life, either; he was merely making sense of his heated showdown with Kobe Bryant. Think I'm crazy? Watch the first minute again. Artest was remarkably calm as he spoke and unfazed by what should be (but probably isn't) the most traumatizing moment of his life. Artest is hardened, and he cannot avoid his shadow.

I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'll be rooting for the guy.

Will he get suspended? I have no idea.

In the end...

a. Watch every game of the Lakers-Rockets series, even if it means you won't be having intercourse for a few weeks.

b. Read Outliers, even if it means you'll have to soften your stance on Ron Artest.

That is all. Thems is the end of my words.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bobby "The Brain" Heenan Is More Talented Than George Grande

I called off work Saturday night. This depressed me. My solution came in the form of seven vicodin and a late-night viewing of WrestleMania VI. Am I a 21st century cliche? Kind of. But you know what? I don't give a shit. It was glorious.

Math: prescription painkillers + three hours of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura = unadulterated bliss.

Have a problem with my methods of creating joy? Well, I don't know what to tell you. But before you judge me, I'd like to suggest a short video of Andre the Giant's last WrestleMania performance.

Please watch the pre-match interview with Mean Gene Okerlund ("We're going to eliminate them"), fast forward to Andre's brief ring appearances at the 4:12 and 6:09 marks (when he delivers slow motion kicks to either Ax or Smash) and then tell me this isn't A-plus entertainment.

See what I mean? Anyway, I chopped up a few podcasts but I'm having trouble uploading them to the media player. Stay with me, and I should have this accomplished before the end of the day.

UPDATE: Podcast posted.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Anna Kournikova Needs My Help

When I'm entrenched in a conversation regarding Anna Kournikova, I often find myself commenting on her breasts. And by "often find myself," I mean every time I've ever had a conversation about Anna Kournikova. I suppose this is because I'm heterosexual. But anyway, the conversation never stops there.

Being a maniacal sports fan, I need to voice my opinion of Anna Kournikova's athletic achievements.

And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm about to pile on Kournikova. You're thinking I'm going to call her a lousy tennis player, mentioning how she never won anything. You're thinking I'm going call her a media creation that never earned anything with her ability.

And you're going to call her overrated.

But you're wrong, friend. You're wrong. Not only is Kournikova not overrated, she's the most underrated athlete in the history of underrated athletes. And really, I'm not sure she has any competition.

Consider the following four pieces of information:

1. She *earned* over $3.5 million in her brief professional career. Tennis doesn't hand out cash for having nice legs and pretty teeth, tennis pays its players for advancing deep into tournaments. So, while it's true she didn't win any of these tournaments as a singles player, she was successful enough to become a millionaire several times over.

2. She was once ranked No. 8 in the world. Remember, tennis isn't like college football, where preseason rankings are based solely on talent and potential; the only way to climb the tennis rankings is to win a high percentage of your matches. Ask yourself: Have you ever been among the top eight people in the world in your chosen profession or hobby? Probably not. No wait, definitely not. I mean, I once claimed to be the best NHL 94 (Sega Genesis version) player on the planet, but that's highly unlikely; in fact, I might not have cracked the top 9000. I also used to assume that I knew more about the life of Nick Van Exel than other Van Exel enthusiasts, but recent developments have led me to believe otherwise. With tennis, however, we know for sure: Anna Kournikova was once the eighth ranked player in the world, and she got there because she was great.

3. Kournikova was a dominant doubles player. She once held the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings and twice won Grand Slam titles.

4. I'd chop off most of my fingers just to touch her butt for nine consecutive seconds.


A few years ago I stumbled upon a television series on ESPN Classic called Who's Number One? Perhaps you remember it for being unwatchable. And anyway, this particular night they happened to focus on the most overrated athletes of all time. Inevitably, Kournikova held the top spot. Inevitably, I threw my pet turtle down the steps (R.I.P. Darren).

Look, I'm not saying the lady had a memorable on-court career, but she wasn't overrated. You want overrated? I could throw names like Eddie George and Vince Coleman at you, but let's focus on Joe Namath. Ask any Jets fan and they'll tell you, Namath was the most super of all superstars. But look at the numbers: The guy only completed fifty percent of his passes and threw nearly fifty more interceptions than touchdowns over the course of his 12-year career. Those numbers don't just suggest he wasn't as great as he's remembered, they suggest he was an awful quarterback.

Joe Namath wasn't all that good, and yet he's considered one of the all-time greats. That, to me, is the definition of overrated.

Kournikova, on the other hand, is remembered as being the joke of the tennis profession despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In other words, she's wildly underrated.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think I've just done some convincing.


And if you were wondering why I decided to spend a few hundred words defending a barely-relevant Russian sex goddess, all I can tell you is there's a hot new rumor in town, and it goes something like this: Anna Kournikova has a computer, and on her computer is the Internet. So, what if -- like all narcissists do countless times every day -- she Googles her name and finds this story? See where I'm going? Sure, she might get a restraining order slapped on me, but maybe she'll request that I take my clothes off in front of her.

A boy can dream, right?

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)