Monday, June 16, 2008

On Hiatus

After his dramatic, injury-plagued victory at the U.S. Open today, Tiger Woods remarked, "I think I need to shut it down for a little bit." The same goes for Jack's Sports Humor, which will now be suspended indefinitely. The comparisons pretty much end there, as the blog does not have 14 majors, a hot Swedish wife, and hundreds of millions of dollars. But I do own a red shirt. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Magic vs. Bird: A Breakdown

The much-anticipated NBA Finals begin in Boston this Thursday. The host Celtics have been led all season by Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, while the visiting Los Angeles Lakers feature their own “Big Three” in MVP Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom.

Stars were also abundant when these franchises squared off in the 1984, 1985, and 1987 finals. Those series featured stalwarts like Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Kevin McHale, James Worthy, and Robert Parish. However, revisionist history pretty much boils down those showdowns as “Magic vs. Bird.” Earvin and Larry have long since retired and secured their places in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Still, I’m using a “Magic vs. Bird” analysis to forecast this series. Here’s a breakdown.

NBA Teams: The Magic won their first-round series, but the Birds (Hawks) did not. Advantage: Magic

Burgess Meredith: He starred in a 1978 film entitled Magic. But he’s identified with birds – as The Penguin as well as Mickey, who screamed at Rocky to chase after a chicken. Advantage: Bird

Kids’ Birthday Parties: Performing magic is acceptable. Flipping the bird is not. Advantage: Magic

Weed-Smoking Songs: Puff, the Magic Dragon fits the bill, but millions of stoners shout for FREE BIRD!!!!! Advantage: Bird

First Ladies: We’ve had Lady Bird Johnson, but no presidential wives named Magic. Don’t try to sell me on Eleanor Magic Roosevelt – I’m not falling for that again. Advantage: Bird

Cheesy Pick-Up Lines: “I’ve got a Larry Bird” makes way less sense than “I’ve got a Magic Johnson.” Advantage: Magic

Aussie Icons: Mel Gibson starred in Bird on a Wire, but Olivia Newton-John hit #1 with Magic. And she never went on a drunken anti-Semitic rant in Malibu. As far as I know. Advantage: Magic

Flight Prowess: A magic carpet and a bird can both fly. But when was the last time you actually saw a magic carpet in the sky? We’re past the weed-smoking topic now. Advantage: Bird

Children’s TV: The Magic School Bus was popular, but there’s no way you can go against Big Bird. Advantage: Bird

Black: Blackbird is a soothing Beatles song that won’t hurt anyone. But black magic can do some serious damage. I mean, did you see Sabrina, the Teenage Witch? Advantage: Magic

18th Century Austrian Composers: Haydn wrote The Bird quartet, but The Magic Flute is a Mozart staple. Yes, as in all NBA Finals previews, I had to work in the obligatory classical music discussion. Advantage: Magic

1984 Pop Songs: The Cars and Morris Day and the Time had hits with Magic and The Bird, respectively. As good as The Cars were, do they ever get you out on the dance floor? Advantage: Bird

Charlies: It’s Magic, Charlie Brown was a relatively obscure Peanuts special. Charlie “Bird” Parker was a jazz legend. And Lucy would never pull the football away from him. Advantage: Bird

Radio Stations: There’s a Magic 106.7 in Boston, but no Bird 106.7 in L.A. Advantage: Magic

Toys: You can play with lots of cool birds. But can they predict the future like a Magic 8-Ball? I think not. Advantage: Magic

Tallying up the results, it’s Magic 8 and Bird 7. So a celebration in downtown L.A. is on the way. Too bad Mark Madsen won’t be around to dance.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This Day in History

Tomorrow is May 30, and given my overwhelming sense of anticipation, I’ll take a look back at the history books a day early. According to Wikipedia, all of these events took place on May 30. For some reason, the popular online encyclopedia ignores the sports angle to each of these occurrences. Therefore, for each entry I’ve added an extra sentence to fill in the gaps.

1431: Joan of Arc is burned at the stake. Observers label the LPGA’s steroid penalties as overly harsh.

1536: King Henry VIII of England marries third wife Jane Seymour. Wedding invitations refer to the ceremony as “Hank’s Three-Peat.”

1574: Henry III becomes King of France. Graciously, he allows Rafael Nadal to rule over Paris every June.

1806: Future President Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickinson in a duel. Jackson then agrees to a boxing match versus Jose Canseco.

1854: The Kansas-Nebraska Act becomes law. The act legalizes lopsided Big XII basketball games.

1879: New York’s Gilmores Garden is renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt and is opened to the public. Vanderbilt immediately begins chanting, “Knicks Suck!”

1922: The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. Due to Prohibition, Anheuser-Busch’s offer to sponsor the Bud Light Lincoln Memorial is denied.

1964: Singer Wynonna Judd is born. Though sister Ashley has not yet been born, the doctor remarks, “Okay, she’s a huge Kentucky fan! Enough already! I GET IT!”

1971: Mariner 9 is launched by NASA toward Mars. NASA is bitter that the Mariner 9 has the worst record in the American League.

1982: Spain becomes the 16th member of NATO. Previously, Spain was part of Conference USA.

Please have a safe and happy May 30!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sunday's Race Renamed the Indy Jones 500

This Sunday brings the 92nd edition of the Indianapolis 500. In the U.S., NASCAR generally gets more attention than the IndyCar Series. However, the Indy Racing League has big plans for this year’s event, aligning the race with another Indy who will attract a huge audience this weekend. Sunday’s competition has officially been renamed the Indy Jones 500.

The rechristening of the race is in reference to this week’s release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The anticipated blockbuster promises to provide two hours of non-stop thrills. The Indy Jones 500 will last a bit longer, but it has already been dubbed “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” 2008 will represent the third consecutive year the race will have a clear cinematic link. Last year’s champion, Dario Franchitti, is married to Ashley Judd. And the 2006 edition, in a shocking upset, was won by Harry Potter. In honor of the movie connection, this year’s starting command will be, “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines – and please turn off your cell phones.”

Numerous adjustments have been made to connect this year’s race with the film franchise. Instead of a Corvette, the pace car will now be a Mustang. Therefore, like Indiana Jones, the race will be represented by an old Ford. Rather than Rahal Letterman or Andretti Green, all drivers will be members of the Spielberg Lucas team. Additionally, the procedure to be followed after crashes will be radically different. Instead of the use of a caution flag, Steven Spielberg will yell, “Cut!” Rather than departing the race, the driver will then get to do another take.

The competitors will have plenty of direct connections to Indiana Jones. Their racing uniforms will include a fedora and a leather jacket. Also, every time they leave the pit area and return to the track, John Williams will conduct the Purdue University marching band in playing the triumphant Indiana Jones theme music. Additionally, as part of their pre-race routine, many of the racers will lecture university students about archaeology.

In typical editions of the Indy 500, meeting the wall at high speed is the greatest concern. However, the Indy Jones 500 will provide far more obstacles. The race will begin with the drivers fleeing a giant boulder. At other stages, they will be chased by Nazis. Occasionally, snakes will be thrown into their cars. On the bright side, competitors will be allowed to use a whip to fend off other drivers.

This year’s aftermath will also depart from the norm. Instead of the Borg Warner Trophy, the winner will be awarded the Ark of the Covenant. Because anyone who looks at it is destroyed, it is highly unlikely that next year’s race will have a repeat champion. Averting one’s gaze at the Ark may not even be enough, as the celebratory milk will likely be poisoned.

It remains to be seen who that champion will be. Scott Dixon was the fastest qualifier, and Dan Wheldon and Hélio Castroneves are also among the favorites. However, no one represents bigger box office than Danica Patrick. It’s entirely possible that the Indy Jones 500 could end with a female in the lead. With the phrase “female lead” connected to Indy Jones, there’s one particular key to success for Danica: Be like Karen Allen, NOT Kate Capshaw.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The All-Presidential Namesakes Sports List

As you may have heard once or twice, we’re in a presidential election year in the USA. With that in mind, and because sports fans love lists, I bring you the All-Presidential Namesakes Sports List.

In the order in which they served, I’ll list the surnames of every single U.S. president. For each entry, I’ll choose the all-time top sports figure who shares that name – whether it’s their first or last name. Middle names are acceptable only if they’re commonly mentioned when referring to that person. For example, Grover Cleveland Alexander qualifies, but Jack Roosevelt Robinson does not. Also, this list is targeted to American sports fans, so it’s entirely possible I omitted some amazing soccer player somewhere. Not that anyone here would notice.

Since there were two presidents named Adams, Harrison, Johnson, Roosevelt, and Bush, those names are each represented twice. Still, there were numerous legends named Johnson who didn’t make the cut, while names like Fillmore provided slim pickings. Projections were not made for this November, so there’s no Obama or McCain on the list. There is a Clinton, but just one. As with all political discussions, the list is sure to spark debate. So here we go!

1. Washington: Ted Washington. Maybe he’s not at “Father of Our Country” level, but the longtime defensive tackle has been to four Pro Bowls.

2. Adams: Flozell Adams. Another four-time Pro Bowler, the Cowboys offensive tackle will someday be portrayed by Paul Giamatti.

3. Jefferson: Richard Jefferson. President Jefferson was third in serving our country. Hoopster Jefferson served our country while finishing third at the 2004 Olympics.

4. Madison: Sam Madison. This Sam defends against wide receivers, like his Presidential namesake defended Uncle Sam against England in the War of 1812.

5. Monroe: Earl Monroe. Like the basketball Hall of Famer, James Monroe was called “The Pearl” by his Cabinet members.

6. Adams: Sam Adams. The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle is the son of a former NFL player. John Quincy Adams also took the same job as his dad.

7. Jackson: Phil Jackson. His 9 rings (maybe 10 soon) as head coach give him the edge over Reggie. Besides, Mr. October, presidential elections are won in November!

8. Van Buren: Steve Van Buren. The Eagles Hall of Fame running back was on the 1948 and 1949 NFL champs. However, the president failed to repeat, losing to William Henry Harrison in 1840.

9. Harrison: Marvin Harrison. William Henry Harrison died after a month in office. His death had nothing to do with gunfire outside a Philadelphia bar.

10. Tyler: Tyler Hansbrough. President Tyler’s political opponents often complained that he shot too many free throws.

11. Polk: DaShon Polk. No offense to the Texans linebacker, but I told you the pickings would be slim for some names.

12. Taylor: Lawrence Taylor. Conspiracy theorists will note that I’ve chosen two Tar Heels in the last three picks. But can you really complain about LT? It’s not like I picked James Taylor.

13. Fillmore: Greg Fillmore. He played in 49 games for the Knicks in the early 70’s. Yeah, I wish this president had been named Millard Gretzky.

14. Pierce: Paul Pierce. The Franklin Pierce administration is rated poorly by historians, because Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen never joined him.

15. Buchanan: Buck Buchanan. Unlike the only president never to marry, Buck had no fear of commitment, spending his entire Hall of Fame career with the Kansas City Chiefs.

16. Lincoln: Lincoln Kennedy. The former offensive lineman could fit the bill for two presidents.

17. Johnson: Magic Johnson. Even with all the Johnsons to choose from (that’s not meant to be dirty), this one is easy.

18. Grant: Grant Fuhr. In Edmonton, Grant’s Tomb was where potential goals went to die.

19. Hayes: Woody Hayes. This was a tough call over Elvin Hayes. But Rutherford B. Hayes was from Ohio, and he was nearly removed from office after punching a guy from Clemson.

20. Garfield: Garfield Heard. He’s best remembered for his shot against the Celtics. President Garfield is best remembered for getting shot.

21. Arthur: Arthur Ashe. Chester A. Arthur came to prominence in New York. By winning the 1968 U.S. Open, so did Ashe.

22 & 24. Cleveland: Grover Cleveland Alexander. He only struck out batters on non-consecutive occasions.

23. Harrison: Harrison Dillard. He’s the only male to win Olympic gold medals in both sprinting and hurdling events. For President Harrison, re-election was too big of a hurdle.

25. McKinley: Alvin McKinley. Outside the White House, President McKinley’s primary residence was Canton, Ohio. Alvin may be an NFL defensive tackle, but he’s not Canton-bound.

26. Roosevelt: Roosevelt Brown. Theodore is a giant on Mount Rushmore. A nine-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle, Brown enabled the Giants to rush more.

27. Taft: Chris Taft. William Taft is the only man to serve as both President of the U.S. and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Equally impressive, Chris Taft, uh… Well, he played 17 games for Golden State.

28. Wilson: Hack Wilson. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize is nice, but President Wilson never drove in 191 runs during a season.

29. Harding: Tonya Harding. Fittingly, she’s listed right after a guy named Hack.

30. Coolidge: Warren Coolidge. Sure, he’s a fictional character, but Warren Coolidge dominated for Carver High School on The White Shadow.

31. Hoover: Brad Hoover. The Panthers fullback deals with defenders much better than the president handled the Great Depression.

32. Roosevelt: Roosevelt (“Rosey”) Grier. FDR won four elections, and Grier was part of the Fearsome Foursome.

33. Truman: Christine Truman. She was the 1959 French Open champion. If Zsuzsi Kormoczi had won that finals match, I REALLY would have scrambled here.

34. Eisenhower: Eisenhower Tree. It’s a pine tree on the 17th hole at Augusta National. Hey, it’s not like I had lots of human options!

35. Kennedy: Walter Kennedy. He was the NBA commissioner during the 60’s and 70’s. These days, while the president does not have unlimited power, the NBA commissioner does.

36. Johnson: Jack Johnson. Magic has already been taken, so this one was brutal. With apologies to fans of great pitching, the legendary heavyweight champ gets the nod over Walter and Randy.

37. Nixon: Norm Nixon. Richard won two elections before the humiliation of the Watergate scandal. Norm won two NBA titles before the humiliation of being traded to the Clippers.

38. Ford: Whitey Ford. Still miffed about my snub of Walter and Randy Johnson? Okay, here’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. Are you happy now?

39. Carter: Gary Carter. His Cooperstown enshrinement gives him the nod over Joe. And not because I’m a Phillies fan. Well, maybe a little.

40. Reagan: Frank Reagan. He led the NFL in interceptions in 1947 – an effort worthy of The Gipper.

41. Bush: Reggie Bush. This one could have been tougher, since no one named Dukakis has won the Heisman.

42. Clinton: Clinton Portis. Both of them have been wacky at press conferences – Portis by wearing outlandish costumes and Bill by saying, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

43. Bush: Joe Bush. He went 26-7 for the Yankees in 1922. Particularly partisan Democrats will insist that Frank Gore belongs here.

I’m Jack Archey, and I approved this message.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

NBA Investigating Alleged Road Victory

Last season, the San Antonio – Phoenix playoff series was marred by the suspensions of Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw for leaving the bench. This year, controversy has once again struck the second round of the NBA postseason. The league office is looking into allegations that the Detroit Pistons won Game 4 of their series with the Orlando Magic, despite playing on the road.

If true, that victory would be the only one for a visitor in the second round. Home teams are 14-0 in the other contests. According to a league insider, commissioner David Stern reached an agreement with the remaining participants that only home teams would win in the second round. Reportedly, Stern considered the arrangement to be fan-friendly, since witnessing a victory would boost the home fans’ enjoyment of games. Higher television ratings would also ensue, as every series would have a Game 7. The source indicated that the commissioner also wants the agreement in place for the conference finals, thereby guaranteeing a finals matchup between top seeds Boston and Los Angeles. The NBA official remarked that such a scenario had Stern “giggling like a schoolgirl.”

However, a report surfaced on Saturday that Detroit had left Orlando with a 90-89 victory. A 15-point third quarter lead, plus the absence of injured Piston Chauncey Billups, would seem to point to a win for the Magic. Nevertheless, the league office has reportedly received a tape which shows Tayshaun Prince making the game-winning basket for Detroit. Officials are unsure about the authenticity of the tape, since it only shows Dwight Howard scoring eight points in the entire contest. A second tape was reportedly discarded as irrelevant, because all it showed was a pre-Super Bowl walk-through by the St. Louis Rams.

No such controversy exists in the other series, in which the visitors have gone down to defeat every time. Some extraordinary circumstances have arisen amid the home dominance. The experienced, poised Spurs were pummeled in their two games at New Orleans. In Boston, the Celtics made LeBron James even less comfortable than he was hosting Saturday Night Live. And the Utah crowd mercilessly booed a guy who gave up millions in the interest of better care for his disease-stricken daughter. On the other hand, he does play for the Lakers.

If the NBA believes the Pistons’ violation to be true, there is no word on what the punishment will be. A simple remedy could be a Game 5 victory in Detroit for the Magic – the first time a make-up call would ever take place in the NBA. Reached for comment on potential sanctions, Rasheed Wallace remarked, “Being disciplined by the league office? I can’t imagine such an experience!” Then he hugged the reporters and took them out for pizza. Asked for his thoughts, another Piston responded, “I’ll say something, but only with half my face, if you can match it with half a face from the Magic. I love those commercials!”

The NBA is not the only league in which the home team is dominating these days. The visiting Sharks and Flyers are 0-for-4 in the NHL conference finals. However, that scenario is almost certainly not the result of an arrangement with commissioner Gary Bettman. He knows there’s no way he can boost ratings.

Monday, May 05, 2008

All About PA

It’s time for Playoff Action between Pennsylvania Adversaries! No, not baseball – the Phillies’ Ambitions include October, but the Pirates’ Awfulness continues. It’s the NHL Eastern Conference finals, as Pittsburgh Awaits Philadelphia’s Arrival on Friday night. While the Predators, Avalanche, and Phoenix, Arizona’s Coyotes Plan Ahead for next season, the Keystone Staters’ Postseason Aspirations involve claiming the Prize Anaheim Possesses, At least until next month.

The Steel City’s Proud Atlantic Division champs are led by Penguins Ace Sidney Crosby, who’s Predictably Admired for his Prodigious Assets. Not in a Pam Anderson way – I mean his Passing Ability and Points Accumulation skills. He’s a Phenom Akin to his owner, Mario Lemieux, and his Peer, Alexander Ovechkin. Besides Sid the Kid, Marian Hossa Provided Assistance in Putting Away the Rangers. A Positive Addition since departing Philips Arena, the Past Atlanta star’s game-winner ended the series.

As Flyers fans are Painfully Aware, their team hasn’t Paraded Around the Stanley Cup since the Broad Street Bullies’ Pugilistic Approach and Bernie Parent’s Amazing goaltending had William Penn Atop a Populace Adoring its champions. The Prospect, Alas of Partying Anew this spring seemed Positively Absurd last year, which was Pure Agony. But a Potent About-face has fans’ Passions Aroused. They especially Praised Alberta native Joffrey Lupul, whose Puck Accuracy in Game 7 versus Washington Propelled Ahead his team. Then they Pushed Around Montreal in 5 games.

Sure, the NHL needs more Press Attention. It doesn’t exactly Pull American Idol-type ratings, but who needs Paula Abdul? At least you’ll have Packed Attendance, if not Pop Anthems. You won’t find Pacifists Anywhere, so Penalty Assessments due to Players’ Aggression will lead to Power Play Advantages.

This series may not matter in Perth, Australia or even Lawrence, Kansas (land of Phog Allen). But the state that gave us Palmer, Arnold will Provide Antagonism worthy of Pat’s Against Geno’s. Indeed, much like this Profound Article, the Eastern Conference finals are all about PA.