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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kentucky Derby Horses & Their Sports Inspirations

Churchill Downs is abuzz this week for the latest edition of the Kentucky Derby. The Run For The Roses may not be as popular among casual sports fans these days, but the 20-horse field should have especially broad appeal this year. Amazingly, the name of every entrant was inspired by something in the sports world. In order of Saturday’s post positions, here’s a rundown. Feel free to fix yourself a mint julep before proceeding.

1. Visionaire: Shaq answers two questions: “What is a synonym for sight?” and “What do your free throws hit?”

2. Big Truck: How the Big Hurt left Toronto.

3. Colonel John: Recovered from his 1974 surgery, Tommy John joins the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels.

4. Z Fortune: Carlos Zambrano discusses his contract.

5. Pyro: Someone who’s consistently responsible for things going up in flames. Also known as Isiah Thomas.

6. Eight Belles: What Roger Clemens takes home from a country music show.

7. Anak Nakal: Doubles partner of Rafael Nadal.

8. Court Vision: Tennis great Margaret visits her eye doctor.

9. Z Humor: Žydrūnas Ilgauskas pulls a locker room prank.

10. Monba: Kobe Bryant’s nickname in Jamaica.

11. Smooth Air: Michael Jordan reflects on his performance outside the front office.

12. Adriano: Usually seen as “Adrian O,” it’s what Peterson provides the Vikings.

13. Bob Jack Black: Colts’ Sanders is introduced to the School of Rock star.

14. Denis of Cork: One-third of a baseball cheating trio, along with Denis of Steroids and Denis of Sandpaper.

15. Cowboy Cal: Ripken signs with Dallas as he launches a bid to break Brett Favre’s record for consecutive starts.

16. Big Brown: Cleveland offensive tackle Joe Thomas.

17. Tale of Ekati: Ekati claims, “My trainer said it was flaxseed oil.”

18. Cool Coal Man: Replacing an injured Pat White, an anonymous coal miner leads West Virginia to the Big East title.

19. Recapturetheglory: Thecelticswintheir17thchampionship.

20. Gayego: What Rudy must sometimes subvert for the good of the Grizzlies.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Some Extra Mustard For Your Monday

For the second time this month, I'm featured in's popular Extra Mustard section! My "Ten More Longs For The First Round" is one of today's Hot Clicks. Check out today's Extra Mustard for further details - if you ever get past the Houston Texans cheerleaders at the top. Thanks to Jimmy Traina and Extra Mustard!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ten More Longs For The First Round

The NFL draft begins Saturday at 3:00pm Eastern time. The Miami Dolphins have already decided to make Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long the #1 overall pick. Soon to go after him, possibly as high as #2, will be Virginia defensive end Chris Long. Chris’s father Howie Long was taken in round two in 1981, but this year’s first round will be all about the Longs. Beyond Jake and Chris, look for these other Longs to be chosen in round one.

3. Atlanta Falcons: Nia Long. The Third Watch star goes third, and as in Big Momma’s House, she’ll be set in Georgia. To make her feel at home, the Falcons’ staff will wear wigs and fat suits.

6. New York Jets: Justin Long. The Mac pitchman should feel at home near the Big Apple.

7. New England Patriots: Shelley Long. Her glory days on Cheers were set in Boston. Coincidentally, most of those shows were secretly filmed on the opponent’s sideline.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Amy Fisher (“Long Island Lolita”). She knows how to handle a gun, so it’s a perfect fit.

10. New Orleans Saints: Huey Long. The political legend from Louisiana has been dead since 1935. But his home state team has rarely shown much life, either.

12. Denver Broncos: Lionel Richie (“All Night Long”). The team led by Vanderbilt’s Jay Cutler picks another former leader of The Commodores.

13. Carolina Panthers: Jay Bilas. He has to be included in any draft in which the word “Long” is constantly used.

16. Arizona Cardinals: Long Duk Dong. The character from Sixteen Candles goes at #16. His habit of drunkenly falling out of trees drops him from the top 10.

21. Washington Redskins: Long Dong Silver. A porn star made famous during the Clarence Thomas confirmation process, he becomes a big name in DC once again.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Long John Silver. He was actually a Pirate, but this is a way better team to play for in Pittsburgh.

Friday, April 18, 2008

NBA Playoffs Guide, From A To Z

The regular season is over, so 16 teams still have dreams of an NBA championship. Well, I’m not sure the Hawks can even dream of a title, but you get the point. Here’s an A-To-Z look at the NBA postseason.

American: Company whose name is on the Mavericks’ home arena, even though their best player is German and their owner is Cuban.

Benedict XVI: Pope who will perform before huge crowds in New York this weekend. So you know he’s not on the Knicks.

Coaches: Men on the sideline who, every once in a while, get their players to listen to them. Most of them won’t have this job for long.

DUI: Abbreviation attached to a Nuggets star this week, so I think it stands for “Don’t Underestimate Iverson!”

Eleven: Games ahead of playoff-bound Atlanta for Golden State, which missed the postseason. Coach Don Nelson is pleading, “Oakland’s on the East Bay – shouldn’t we be in the Eastern Conference?”

Fifth: Seed you get in the Western Conference after winning 22 games in a row.

Go-To Guy: What every championship-caliber team needs. “Go-To” is short for “Go to the line,” since he’ll get all the calls.

Howard Stern: Not the radio guy. I just wanted to mention the slam dunk contest winner and the commissioner in the same entry.

Ignore: What casual sports fans will do to you when you win 59 games, if you’re the Pistons.

June: When the Finals will end. Or the first round, I’m not sure.

KG: Not only Kevin Garnett in Boston, but Kobe-Gasol in LA. Which also means “Kwame’s Gone” and “Kupchak’s Grateful.”

Languages: Like championship rings, there are lots of them in the Spurs’ locker room.

Magic: Orlando or Johnson, who along with Larry Bird will be shown a BILLION times in old clips if that Lakers-Celtics series materializes.

NBA TV: A network that’s unfamiliar to most people. Which is why much of the Toronto-Orlando series has been banished there.

O’Neal, Shaquille: Like John McCain, he’s an old guy representing Arizona who wants to win the big prize.

Paul: Whether last name (Chris) or first (Pierce), he’s a star on a highly-seeded team you haven’t seen at this time of year lately.

Quarter Century: Time it’s been since the 76ers won the title – the last pro sports championship in Philadelphia. Clearly, those bitter Pennsylvanians referenced by Obama are Philly sports fans.

Raptors: A Canadian team that won’t win the championship, so it would be at home in the NHL.

Stu Jackson: A name the Suns really don’t want to hear during THIS series with the Spurs.

T-Mobile Ads: The only way you’ll see a Miami Heat player during the postseason.

Utah: Franchise hoping for its first Finals appearance since 1998, when Salt Lake City teams were runner-up in both the NBA and NCAA. I’m guessing Memphis won’t repeat that feat this year.

Viewership: Great for ABC when broadcasting Tony Parker’s wife. Not so much when broadcasting Tony Parker’s team.

Woods, Tiger: Unlike LeBron James, he’s a Nike superstar who can win championships by himself.

X-ray: Like throwing his jersey into the crowd, it’s part of Gilbert Arenas’s post-game ritual.

Youth: Something most middle-aged men desire, unless they’re NBA general managers in search of a championship.

Zilch: Playoff series won by Tracy McGrady in six attempts. But as the old saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again.”

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Green Jacket & Similar Awards

Sunday in Augusta, South African Trevor Immelman completed a three-stroke victory at The Masters. In relegating Tiger Woods to second place, Immelman claimed the prestigious Green Jacket. As Jim Nantz tells us every spring, the coveted blazer is part of what makes this tournament “a tradition unlike any other.” But what if the Green Jacket weren’t so unique in the sports world? Here’s a look at similar awards that could be given for certain honors.

Top NFL defensive back: Darrell Green Jacket

Leader in NHL penalty minutes: Mean Jacket

Outstanding Indiana basketball player: Crean Jacket

Outstanding North Carolina basketball player: Dean Jacket

Chris Berman broadcasting award: Leather Jacket

Best MLB closer, in honor of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn: Sheen Jacket

Athlete most photographed by paparazzi: Scene Jacket

Ricky Williams running back award: Smoking Jacket

Women’s singles champion at U.S. Open: Billie Jean Jacket

Top player in Oakland A’s organization: Beane Jacket

Athlete with best rendition of We Are The Champions: Queen Jacket

Most accurate driver on PGA Tour: Straight Jacket

Best athlete under the age of 20: Teen Jacket

Award claimed by Lance Armstrong, but no one in France believes him: Clean Jacket

Outstanding athlete at Georgia Tech: Yellow Jacket

NBA leader in setting picks: Screen Jacket

Best performance by an athlete in a heart-warming Coke commercial: Mean Joe Greene Jacket

Award for anyone who joins Augusta National: Members-Only Jacket

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Chalmers & Other Marios

Thanks to the biggest three-pointer of his life, Kansas guard Mario Chalmers is on top of the sports world today. Chalmers sent the NCAA championship game into overtime against Memphis, with his Jayhawks ultimately prevailing 75-68. The “Super Mario” label is both obvious and fitting in this situation. How does Chalmers compare to other famous Marios? Let’s take a look.

Mario Lopez: Slater on Saved By the Bell.
Mario Chalmers: Jayhawks’ savior before the buzzer.

Mario Elie: Won a championship with San Antonio in 1999.
Mario Chalmers: Won a championship in San Antonio in 2008.

Mario Chalmers: Shoots the ball into the net and gets steals.
Mario Lemieux: Shot the puck into the net in the Steel City.

Mario Mendoza: Mendoza Line inspiration who knew all about futility.
Mario Chalmers: Cousin Lionel knew all about futility, playing for the Clippers.

Mario Lavandeira (aka Perez Hilton): Preys on celebrities’ self-esteem.
Mario Chalmers: Praised and esteemed by Bill Self.

Mario Chalmers: Cold-blooded shooter at the end of regulation.
Mario Puzo: Godfather author who wrote about cold-blooded shooters.

Mario (the singer): Competitor on this season’s Dancing With the Stars.
Mario Chalmers: Star competitor in this season’s Big Dance.

Mario Batali: Food Network chef who thrives with spices.
Mario Chalmers: KU guard who survived against Curry.

Mario Lanza: Famous tenor of the 50’s whose singing lives on.
Mario Chalmers: Thanks to One Shining Moment, heroics will live on in song.

Mario Chalmers: Rallied late to be #1 over Memphis.
Mario Williams: Rallied late to be #1 over Reggie Bush.

Mario Ančić: As last man to beat Federer at Wimbledon, disrupted with his racquet.
Mario Chalmers: Disrupted lots of brackets.

Mario Chalmers: Plays on the same team as Brandon Rush.
Mario Cuomo: Liberal icon who’s never on the same side as Rush.

Mario Andretti: Was known for his fast driving.
Mario Chalmers: More known for his shooting than his driving. Especially now.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Memphis vs. Kansas: An NCAA Championship Breakdown

After surprisingly lopsided semifinal victories, Memphis and Kansas will square off for the NCAA men’s basketball championship on Monday night. The Jayhawks are seeking their first national championship since 1988, while the Tigers look to claim the first NCAA title in school history. For an insightful analysis of the respective rosters, well, you’re in the wrong place. As for my breakdown, here we go:

Mascots: A Jayhawk is a mythical creature, but a Tiger is real and can rip you to shreds. The one similarity? Tigers and Jayhawks have both recently inflicted damage on someone named Roy. Advantage: Memphis.

Past NBA Stars: Penny Hardaway had moments of greatness after his college career at Memphis. But no one could score like KU’s Wilt Chamberlain. He was a great hoops player too. Advantage: Kansas.

Jim Nantz: Whether it’s Augusta or San Antonio, it’s natural for him to proclaim “a Tiger championship” in early April. Advantage: Memphis.

Republican Presidential Candidates: Bob Dole, who attended KU, was waxed like a 16-seed in the 1996 election. But unlike Memphis alum Fred Thompson, at least he got the nomination. Advantage: Kansas.

FedEx: Memphis plays its home games at the FedEx Forum and won the Conference USA tournament there. On the other hand, Kansas won the FedEx Orange Bowl against actual competition. Advantage: Kansas.

School Mottos: U of M’s appropriately succinct motto is translated as “Dreamers. Thinkers. Doers.” KU’s is translated as, “I will see this great vision in which the bush does not burn.” Commenting on whoever came up with that motto, John Kerry remarked, “Man, that guy was long-winded!” Advantage: Memphis.

City Landmarks: Allen Fieldhouse is a basketball treasure, but unlike Graceland, it doesn’t display sequined jumpsuits worn by Elvis. Advantage: Memphis.

Fab Five: The last time a team with a starting point guard named Rose was in the finals, Jalen lost two straight championship games. At least Derrick will only have one opportunity. Advantage: Kansas.

Major League Baseball: There are no Hawks in the Majors, but the Jays are 4-2. Meanwhile, the Tigers are still winless. Advantage: Kansas.

Mathematics: According to Wikipedia, U of M’s mathematics department has more Erdos number 1 mathematicians than any other research institution in the world. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds impressive, and it mentions “number 1.” Advantage: Memphis.

Jacque Vaughn: The former KU point guard won a ring with the Spurs last year. So Jayhawks know how to win championships in San Antonio. Advantage: Kansas.

Coaches’ Names: “Calipari” sounds like a fried seafood appetizer. But “Self” is a lousy name for someone who wants to promote teamwork. Advantage: Memphis.

Classic Rock: One team is named Kansas, with a star named Rush. And “Rock” is part of its famous chant. The other has CDR, but not CCR. Advantage: Kansas.

Mayors: Lawrence’s mayor is Sue Hack, whose last name suggests foul trouble. W.W. Herenton is the mayor of Memphis, and the whole point of this weekend in San Antonio is to string two W’s together. Advantage: Memphis.

I Love the 80’s: Memphis last made the Final Four in 1985, when it was still Memphis State. But Danny Manning led the Jayhawks all the way in 1988. Back then, a Manning could win a title and NOT be in a zillion commercials. Advantage: Kansas.

Tallying up the results, it’s Kansas 8, Memphis 7. So Monday night, it will be a Rock Chalk Jayhawk Riverwalk.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Ones' Shining Moment

Despite a valiant effort by Davidson, next weekend’s Final Four is only open to the Goliaths. North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA, and Kansas will be part of the first Final Four comprised entirely of #1 seeds. At times the pace will be as fast as Formula One, but the basketball will be far more disciplined than AND1. Clearly the number one will be predominant in San Antonio. In honor of the occasion, here’s a look at the many ways in which “One/1” relates to this Final Four.

Point awarded for making a free throw, which Memphis actually can do.

Three Dog Night song noted for the line “One is the loneliest number.” Obviously they didn’t foresee this Final Four.

Years Derrick Rose and Kevin Love will spend in college. Despite references to Love and a Rose, the previous sentence was not meant to be romantic.

2001 film (The One) starring Jet Li, featuring nearly as much action as Saturday’s Kansas-North Carolina semifinal.

UCLA titles since John Wooden retired in 1975. That trophy was claimed in 1995 by Jim Harrick, who is eager to re-enter the ranks of crooked coaches.

Jersey number of Marcus Ginyard for North Carolina and Willie Kemp for Memphis. So even if they lose this weekend, they can still claim to be number one.

U2 hit song from the early 90s, back when Roy Williams was coaching the Jayhawks AGAINST the Tar Heels in Final Fours.

Losses for Memphis this season – a February defeat to Tennessee. The Tigers did slightly better against the other UT on Sunday.

Shots missed, out of 22, by Bill Walton in the biggest UCLA-Memphis game of all time – the 1973 NCAA Championship. Commenting from the future, broadcaster Bill Walton remarked, “What a HORRIBLE miss!”

Name of a global campaign to fight poverty. These teams will do their part by producing rich NBA players.

Players on these squads with a national championship ring (Quentin Thomas). So Quentin Thomas could become the first UNC player ever to win two national titles. That’s right, I said Quentin Thomas.

Moniker (“The One”) for Neo in The Matrix. Expect Saturday’s coaches to wear dark sunglasses to go with their suits.

Members of Conference USA who made the NCAA Tournament, meaning that Conference USA is undefeated in the Big Dance.

Signature tune from the Broadway smash A Chorus Line. This week, Broadway will feature college hoops’ number one from 2006 and 2007, as the Gators try to be #66 in 2008.

Number symbolized by those big foam fingers, which were developed in response to lackluster sales of “We’re number 3” foam products.

Previous Final Fours for John Calipari, as well as the number of press conferences in which an opposing coach threatened to kill him.

Hit single recorded by Metallica in the spring of 1988. Kansas fans appreciate any reference to the spring of 1988.

Numeric designation for point guard, as well as the round in which Derrick Rose, Darren Collison, and Ty Lawson will be drafted in June.

Atomic number of hydrogen. In honor of the student-athletes, I figured I’d put something educational in here.

Combined NCAA championships for the four coaches (Williams in 2005). I’ll go out on a limb and say that they’ll combine for another by next Monday night.

Name of a compilation album for The Beatles. Like John, Paul, George, and Ringo, this weekend’s participants comprise a Fab Four.

Games these teams will play at a time, assuming they know their clichés.

Division in which these teams play. Thankfully, the phrase “Bowl Subdivision” doesn’t apply to hoops.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quick Hits On the Sweet 16

After an entertaining four days of the NCAA Tournament, we’re down to the Sweet 16. Here are some quick hits on the 16 who remain.


North Carolina:
For the second consecutive year, the Tar Heels are the lone ACC representative in the Sweet 16. For their conference mates in the tournament, ACC meant “Another Clemson Choke,” “Abrams Cripples ‘Canes,” and “Adios, Chris Collins!”

Washington State: The Cougars made Notre Dame’s offense look anemic in a rout, leading many to ask if the Irish were being coached by Charlie Weis.

Louisville: Hitting on all cylinders, the unsentimental Cardinals prevented another Boise State-Oklahoma matchup. Worse yet, they demanded that Ian Johnson divorce his cheerleader wife.

Tennessee: Chris Lofton is expected to play on Thursday, despite nursing an injured ankle. Bruce Pearl is expected to coach on Thursday, despite wearing that orange sport coat.


The Tigers survived a close one with Mississippi State. Amazingly, they were the only Tigers to win on Sunday, and they didn’t even wear red.

Michigan State: The Spartans eliminated Pittsburgh, Bobby Knight’s pick as national champion. It’s been a long time since he’s had a clue about what happens in a Final Four.

Stanford: I was ready to write about the Lopez twins, but since I’m close to the halfway point, I had to eject Trent Johnson from this article.

Texas: Taking the court in Houston, the Longhorns will have geography in their favor. Just like North Carolina in Charlotte, as well as West Virginia and Western Kentucky in the West Regional.


The Jayhawks just eliminated a Lon Kruger-coached team (UNLV), as they did during their last title run in 1988 (vs. Kansas State). It’s a good omen, but they’ll really be in good shape if “Dukakis For President” signs start popping up.

Villanova: Despite being a 12 seed, the Wildcats make their third Sweet 16 appearance in four years. I’m also pretty sure that Villanova is a female Russian tennis player.

Wisconsin: The Badgers bounced Kansas State from the Big Dance, shattering Michael Beasley’s hopes for a bright future.

Davidson: Tournament darling Stephen Curry left Georgetown in a state of shock. Not so much that the Wildcats won, but that a team from North Carolina made shots against the Hoyas down the stretch of a tournament game.


The Bruins can’t continue the James Bond-type escapes forever. But against Texas A&M, UCLA stood for “Unflappable Collison, Love Advance.”

Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers eliminated fellow longshot San Diego, who assumed that all Kentucky teams were a cakewalk.

Xavier: With a showdown against old foe Bob Huggins looming, the Musketeers have petitioned the NCAA to move the West Regional from Phoenix to Cincinnati.

West Virginia: Speaking of Huggins, he’s done so well at West Virginia, he’ll soon be hired by Michigan.

Friday, March 21, 2008

NCAA First Round Losers

It’s on to the second round, as 32 teams remain in The Big Dance. First, we’ll take a look back at some of the first round losers.

Patriotic Fans in Birmingham: Friday afternoon saw American and USA (South Alabama) go down to defeat.

4 & 5 Seeds in Tampa Bay: The Rays can only hope that underdogs keep winning in Tampa Bay.

Kents: Gone from the field are Kent State, Ernie Kent of Oregon, and Kent-ucky.

NFC Central: There’s no more action for the (Baylor) Bears or (Portland State) Vikings.

Religious Leaders: Oral Roberts and Brigham Young didn’t have a prayer.

Saints (excluding nicknames): The Siena Saints moved on, but it wasn’t a Good Friday for St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s, or Mount St. Mary’s.

High-Priced Prostitutes: With Austin Peay’s elimination, the Governors are out of action.

Nashville: Vanderbilt was blown out by Siena, while the other local entrant couldn’t quite pull off the upset of the tournament. Like recent Triple Crown bids, it was a near-miss involving Belmont.

South Carolina Teams in Second Half: Winthrop and Clemson were outscored by a combined 49 points after halftime. On the bright side, now the Tigers have plenty of time to work on their free throws.

Padres Fans: The experience of seeing San Diego pull out a playoff win in overtime came five months too late. Unfortunately for UConn, Trevor Hoffman wasn't on the court.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A March Madness Guide, From A To Z

The field of 65 has been released, so it’s time for another edition of March Madness! Before you fill out those NCAA tournament brackets, here’s a quick primer, from A To Z.

Alamodome: As the Final Four site, everyone wants to end up there. Asked for comment, David Stern remarked, “Basketball finals in San Antonio? Those ratings will suck!”

Bulldogs: The mascot is well-represented by Butler, Drake, Georgia, Gonzaga, and Mississippi State. Plus, since “Hoya” is just part of a Latin phrase, Georgetown also has a Bulldog mascot. Because who wants to dress up as a Latin phrase?

Commercials: Non-Duke fans hope this will be the only way to see Coach K during the Final Four.

Double-Header: Georgia will demand one if the Dawgs upset Xavier in the first round.

Eleven: Record number of NCAA titles for UCLA. They have a real chance to make it twelve, since Florida is nowhere to be found.

Favre, Brett: A long-running Packer who finally called it quits. CBS viewers wish the same were true of Billy.

George Mason: The CAA champs were everyone’s favorite Cinderella two years ago. They’ve since been replaced by Amy Adams.

Hansbrough, Tyler: A guy you’re probably tired of hearing about by now. But I’m a UNC alum, so you’ll get more Psycho T and like it!

Initial Entries: American, Portland State, Texas-Arlington, and UMBC are in the Division 1 tournament for the first time. However, since Portland State and UMBC are both in the Midwest region, they can’t all make the Final Four.

Jesus: Appropriately, he’s well-represented during Easter Week. Both his parents (St. Joseph and St. Mary) are in the field.

Knowledge of Hoops: Something that has absolutely nothing to do with winning an NCAA Tournament pool.

Longhorns: Texas could play the South Regional and the Final Four in its home state. But first comes the long-awaited Battle of Austin versus Austin Peay.

Missed Free Throws: The potential downfall for Memphis, as you’ll be reminded constantly during a close game for the Tigers. Also the potential downfall for Clemson, as you’ll be reminded constantly during a close game for the Tigers.

National Championship Game: The title matchup will have two new participants, since Florida and Ohio State were left out of the field. The Buckeyes will just have to lose to an SEC opponent for the NIT championship.

One and Done: What Kansas State’s Michael Beasley and USC’s O.J. Mayo will be after their freshman seasons. And what one of their teams will be in this tournament, since they meet in the first round.

Pre-season Polls: The top four teams were North Carolina, UCLA, Memphis, and Kansas, which happen to be the four #1 seeds. So the last four months were just a formality.

Queasy: How the sappy One Shining Moment should probably make you feel. But since it’s accompanied by awesome hoops highlights, you love the damn song.

Rocky: Just a few days ago, Philly was in danger of being shut out of the field, but Temple, Villanova, and St. Joseph’s all made it. As for Final Four contenders, you can look to Rocky Top and Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

Seinfeld: A show that will be quoted constantly, thanks to the already overused line of “Love the Drake!”

Twenty: Number of defeats for Coppin State – the most ever for an NCAA Tournament team. Being in Baltimore and losing 20 games makes Coppin State a perfect fit for the Orioles’ rotation.

Upsets: You know they’ll happen. You just won’t pick the right ones.

Victory: The only experience Davidson has had in 2008, with its last loss coming on December 21 to NC State. Yes, THAT NC State. Seriously, I’m not kidding!

Wildcats: Apparently a favorable nickname for bubble teams, as Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas State, and Villanova all squeaked into the field.

Xenon: The most underrated noble gas, which ... oh, whatever, I’ll just go with Xavier.

Yankee: Like Alex Rodriguez, the Final Four contenders hope to be at their best in April.

Zebras: Another word for referees, whom fans will blame for their team’s elimination. Unless their school loses by more than 30. No, they’ll still blame the refs.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Rockets' Streak By The Numbers, From 1 To 20

Wednesday night in Atlanta, the Houston Rockets defeated the Hawks 83-75 to extend their improbable winning streak to 20 games. The run is tied with the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks for second-best in NBA history. It remains to be seen how long the streak will last. In the meantime, here’s a by-the-numbers look at the streak, from 1 to 20.

1: Division 1 college teams (Davidson) with a current winning streak of at least 20 games. But they play in the Southern Conference, not the Western Conference.

2: Career regular season 3-point attempts for 41-year-old Dikembe Mutombo, who missed both. He should try a few in tonight’s game – the way the Rockets are going, he’d drain ‘em like Reggie Miller.

3: Games among their last eight in which Houston has held the opponent to 75 points or less. The highlight was a 94-69 rout of Washington, in which Luther Head led the Rockets with 18. The combination of 69, Head, and Washington begs for an Eliot Spitzer reference.

4: Teams (Pacers, Cavaliers, Hawks, and Hornets) the Rockets have beaten twice during the streak. Cleveland and New Orleans are actually good. On the other hand, playing Indiana and Atlanta multiple times is how streaks are made.

5: Consecutive games in double figures for forward Carl Landry, before missing the last three contests with an injury. Carl Landry and “Rockets” reminds me of Carl Lewis “And the rockets’ red glare…” Somewhere, Charley Steiner is laughing.

6: Month of the year represented by June, when Houston hopes to still be playing.

7: Seasons in which first-year head coach Rick Adelman has guided his team to at least the second round of the NBA playoffs. Tracy McGrady, you can learn from this guy!

8: Consecutive victories Houston has had without Yao Ming. His season-ending injury could be a blessing in disguise. No team has won the NBA championship with a 7’6” Chinese guy.

9: Zero hour for a Rocket Man, according to Elton John. Sir Elton doesn’t know his hoops – nobody tips off at 9AM.

10: Current win streak for the Boston Celtics. Slackers!

11: Years since the Rockets last won a playoff series. Soon, “20 out of 20” will be way less important than “4 out of 7.”

12: Jersey number of point guard Rafer Alston, who feuded with coach Sam Mitchell during his previous stop in Toronto. Rafer’s not the only Rocket to have issues with a guy named Mitchell.

13: Consecutive victories Houston still needs to match the all-time record set by the 1971-72 Lakers. That team was in such a groove, Wilt probably even got laid once or twice.

14: Points scored in the Super Bowl by the New England Patriots, who unlike the Rockets have lost since the end of January.

15: Years since owner Leslie Alexander bought the team in July 1993. That fall, Michael Jordan retired, and Alexander’s Rockets won their first 15 games. At the time, he spent several hours a day screaming, “Owning a team is AWESOME!!!” to anyone within earshot.

16: Games below .500 for the Charlotte Bobcats, Houston’s next opponent. Expect Shane Battier to play well. Trust me, he has a strong track record against North Carolina teams.

17: NBA seasons played by the greatest Rocket of them all, Hakeem Olajuwon. Assuming you forget about that final season with the Raptors. Most of us do.

18: Losses by the Miami Heat since Houston’s last defeat. Plus, Dwyane Wade is out for the season. Clearly Barkley’s Five is cursed.

19: Losses on the season for the West-leading Lakers, who play in Houston on Sunday. Then the Rockets host Boston before traveling to New Orleans, Golden State, and Phoenix – all by next Saturday. This is all during Holy Week, and to keep the streak going, the Rockets may need to bench Luis Scola and replace him with Jesus.

20: Also known as a score. So the last score of final scores have gone the Rockets’ way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

UNC Requests ACC Tournament Move To Cameron

The Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament is scheduled for Charlotte Bobcats Arena this Thursday through Sunday. However, top-seeded North Carolina is seeking a last-minute change to the proceedings. UNC has requested that the tournament be moved to Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham.

The development comes in the wake of Saturday’s 76-68 victory by the Tar Heels over Duke. The win was UNC’s third in a row at Cameron, leaving senior Quentin Thomas as the only Tar Heel to have experienced defeat at the famous venue. At this point, the junior class led by national player of the year front-runner Tyler Hansbrough considers games at Cameron to be automatic victories. Therefore, the players begged coach Roy Williams to lobby the ACC to move the tournament there.

Insiders consider the relocation to be highly unlikely, given the logistics of staging such an event and the time frame involved. However, Williams raised a point to illustrate why Cameron would be such an appropriate venue. “The ACC Tournament is a huge event in this region. So why have it in an ARENA when you can hold it in a STADIUM?”

Others charge that staging the tournament on Duke’s home court would impair the neutrality of the event. A potential solution to that problem would be to refer to Cameron as Wallace Wade Stadium during the tournament, since no one ever accuses a Duke team of having a home crowd advantage at Wallace Wade Stadium. The playing surface itself is known as Coach K Court. That name is soon likely to change to Psycho T Court, because Hansbrough and his teammates clearly own the place.

Certainly Dick Vitale would be in favor of such a move, since he would spend every day in Cameron if he could. Not so happy would be the wealthy boosters from each of the twelve ACC schools. Instead of being granted the cushy seats they expected, the boosters would be forced to camp out in tents to get into the games. Even if the move is a longshot, some ACC players are stunned that this scenario has come to light. When asked for comment about UNC’s proposal, Duke point guard Greg Paulus reportedly fainted. However, it turned out that Paulus was simply trying to draw an offensive foul on the interviewer.

If the Heels do not get another opportunity to play in Cameron this week, at least they can reflect on their victorious experience from Saturday. After the game, many Cameron Crazies tried doing shots to drown their sorrows, but they were denied when the shots got blocked by Danny Green. For the third straight season, Senior Night in Cameron led to defeat for the home team. Representing the senior class, likely All-ACC first-teamer DeMarcus Nelson was held to six points. It’s a good thing that the Dukie who made a half-court shot during College GameDay is a graduate student. If he had been a senior, chances are his shot would have gone woefully awry, knocking the highlighter out of Digger Phelps’s hand and breaking Erin Andrews’s nose in Marcia Brady-esque fashion.

Chances are, Carolina will not get to play in the comfort of Cameron Indoor Stadium this weekend. Most fans anticipate a third Tar Heels-Blue Devils matchup in Charlotte on Sunday. If instead, the final matchup is UNC-Clemson, expect the Heels to lobby the ACC for a move once again. They’d definitely want that game in Chapel Hill.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"Gunslinger" Retired By Sports Media Organization

Tuesday marked the end of an era in Green Bay, as legendary quarterback Brett Favre retired from the National Football League. His bust in Canton will be ready for him in 2013. Today, Favre was the recipient of a more immediate honor. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association announced today that the term “gunslinger” will be retired from further use by all sports media.

During the course of his career, Favre’s aggressive approach to passing made the “gunslinger” label become ubiquitous. Eventually, a law was passed mandating that “gunslinger” must be used during every Packers broadcast and any article focusing on Favre. A similar law is in effect for Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and the phrase “riverboat gambler,” as well as Alex Rodriguez and “October choker.”

Since the term is so synonymous with Favre, the NSSA decided that it should not be bestowed on any other athlete in the future. The honor is similar to Major League Baseball’s retiring the number 42 for all clubs in honor of Jackie Robinson. The National Hockey League did the same for Wayne Gretzky’s number 99. Given his impact on the game, Favre seems a perfect choice as an NFL player to receive such an honor. The closest NBA equivalent was the retiring of the word “respectability,” but that action only applied to the Eastern Conference.

Ironically, Favre was labeled as a gunslinger without displaying an actual gun. In that respect, he was quite different from many of his NFL contemporaries. After the news of the gunslinger’s retirement became public, Tank Johnson appeared to pay tribute by firing endless rounds of ammunition into the air. In reality, Johnson was unaware of the news and was simply following his normal Tuesday ritual.

As of now, the use of “gunslinger” will be restricted to the endless retrospectives about Favre’s career. The only way the term can be applied to an active player is if Favre pulls a Sugar Ray Leonard or Michael Jordan and reneges on his retirement decision. Frank Caliendo, who is now legally recognized as John Madden, will be holding a constant vigil in hopes of such a scenario. In the meantime, other Green Bay staples such as Cheeseheads and the Lambeau Leap will continue. Unfortunately for football fans, so will Chris Berman’s “frozen tundra” references, which became stale around the same time as New Kids on the Block.

As the action in honor of Brett Favre takes effect, it is appropriate to reflect on those who originally inspired the term “gunslinger.” Legends of the Old West were renowned for their slick handling of a pistol. Billy the Kid himself had many things in common with the newly-retired Packer. For years it was believed that Billy was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett. However, Billy actually ended his gunslinging days himself in a very different manner. He left a voicemail message for Chris Mortensen.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The ABA in Today's Sports World

This weekend, Will Ferrell returns to the sports comedy world with Semi-Pro. The movie is set in the wild, high-flying days of the American Basketball Association. That ABA ceased to exist in 1976. However, “ABA” can still be seen throughout today’s sports world. Here are just a handful of examples.

Iron Bowl result the past 6 years: Auburn Beats Alabama
Tom Glavine: Atlanta Brave Again
Frequent Cincinnati headline: Another Bengal Arrested
Celtic Ray’s actions at the three-point line: Allen Bombs Away
Badger fans’ feelings toward their former coach: Adore Barry Alvarez
Yankee fans’ reaction to a right fielder’s slump: Abuse Bobby Abreu
Their feelings after the 2003 ALCS: Aaron Boone’s Awesome!
Drew Rosenhaus: Arrogant, Boisterous Agent
Part of Reds’ pitching coach’s duties: Advise Bronson Arroyo
Reason Oregon will be in the NIT: Aaron Brooks’s Absence
Oregon State basketball game: Awful Beaver Action
Reggie Miller’s favorite activity in the 90’s: Antagonizing Big Apple
Featured in Playboy: Amanda Beard’s Anatomy
Bad news for Brady Quinn: Anderson, Browns Agree
Problem for Wizards’ fans: Arenas, Butler Aching
Cause of Orioles’ decline: Angelos: Baltimore’s Affliction
Giselle’s role after the Super Bowl: Alleviate Brady’s Agony
Frequent response from players in the Mitchell Report: Anemic, Belated Apology
Big winner in the Eagles’ signing of Samuel: Asante’s Bank Account
Lottery-bound NBA teams: Awaiting Beasley’s Arrival
Recipients of Kurt Warner’s passes: Anquan Boldin’s Arms
Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays’ history: Atrocious Baseball Annually
Help for Lakers’ title hopes: Andrew Bynum Addition
D-Backs made the playoffs in spite of this: Arizona’s Batting Average
Devin Hester: Amazing Bear Athlete
Goal For Injured Yao Ming: August Beijing Appearance

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscar Notables & Their Sports Counterparts

Another edition of the Academy Awards is in the books, and the Oscar participants share some similarities to the athletic world. Here are some sports counterparts for all the acting nominees, as well as a few other notables from Sunday’s ceremony.


Marion Cotillard: Tony Parker.
She’s a native of France who experienced triumph in the U.S.

Cate Blanchett (also nominated for Best Supporting Actress): Jim Tressel. She’s won the trophy before, but in a bid for a second, she lost out twice in short succession.

Julie Christie: Roger Clemens. She portrayed an Alzheimer’s patient, so her memories didn’t match up with the people around her.

Laura Linney: Billy Beane. She’s often in contention – usually in productions with a modest budget.

Ellen Page: Steve Nash. She’s short, Canadian, and helped a talented ensemble thrive.


Daniel Day-Lewis: Tiger Woods.
No one had any doubt that he’d win on Sunday.

George Clooney: Tom Brady. A past winner, he came up a little short this February. But he’s still way more handsome than you.

Johnny Depp: Les Miles. He makes unconventional decisions, but you can’t argue with the results.

Tommy Lee Jones: Hanley Ramirez. Nominated for In the Valley of Elah, Jones gave a great performance that few people paid to see.

Viggo Mortensen: Maria Sharapova. He portrayed a Russian who was best remembered for a nude scene. (NOTE: The comparison is wishful thinking for male readers.)


Tilda Swinton: David Beckham.
She’s a Brit who got lots of media attention in L.A. And she didn’t make Americans care about soccer.

Ruby Dee: Pat Summit. She’s a woman who’s been at it a long time and still gets the job done.

Saoirse Ronan: Sidney Crosby. She was up for prestigious awards despite being a teenager.

Amy Ryan: Bill Belichick. She portrayed a thoroughly unlikable character who lives in Boston.


Javier Bardem: Troy Polamalu.
His character was distinctive for his brutality and his hair.

Casey Affleck: Serena Williams. He’s the younger sibling who turned out to be the more talented one.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Chris Douglas-Roberts. He uses three names and consistently gives strong performances.

Hal Holbrook: Joe Paterno. He’s in his 80’s but shows no signs of quitting.

Tom Wilkinson: Bruce Pearl. His character alternated between crazy and brilliant.


Diablo Cody: Jimmie Johnson.
She prefers a fast pace and is familiar with the pole position.

Joel and Ethan Coen: Peyton and Eli Manning. They’re brothers who both got to experience the ultimate victory lately.

Jon Stewart: Isiah Thomas. He lives in New York and is a constant source of comedy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Duke's Unselfish Week

Around the country, the mere mention of the word “Duke” inspires hostility for millions of college basketball fans. However, Mike Krzyzewski and his Blue Devils deserve nothing but appreciation this week. Since Sunday, Duke has been a model of unselfishness.

The team’s exemplary behavior began with its trip to Wake Forest on Sunday night. Duke entered the contest at 10-0 in conference play and 22-1 overall. The prevailing wisdom among bracketologists was that the ACC would only place four of its twelve members into the NCAA tournament. Realizing that Wake could enter that discussion with a marquee victory, the Blue Devils went ahead and made that scenario a reality. As the Demon Deacons prevailed 86-73, Duke could take pride in advancing the cause of the conference. The truly unique aspect of the contest was that all five Blue Devils fouled out of the game. The referees even called three fouls on assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski, for flops he committed as a player in 1998.

Besides boosting Wake’s at-large chances, Duke also helped its biggest fan with the defeat. Dick Vitale recently returned to the airwaves after literally being silenced for much of the season after throat surgery. Knowing that Dickie V would be calling the Memphis-Tennessee showdown this coming Saturday, the Blue Devils wanted to give him the privilege of broadcasting a 1-vs.-2 matchup. With Sunday’s setback, Duke relinquished the #2 ranking in favor of the Volunteers. In gratitude, Vitale promised to mention the Cameron Crazies and Coach K as much as possible during the Tigers-Vols showdown, making it just like every other non-Duke game he broadcasts.

Not content to merely assist the ACC and Dickie V, Coach K advanced the cause of college basketball in general during a radio interview after the Wake loss. Noting that guard Nolan Smith had recently been playing through a knee injury, Coach K remarked, “unlike other schools we don’t release our injuries.” Believing that “other schools” was a thinly-veiled reference to North Carolina, UNC coach Roy Williams shot back on his radio show with a message to “coach their own damn team, I’ll coach my team.” While Roger Clemens, the Daytona 500, and the recent NBA trading frenzy still commanded the sports headlines, there’s nothing like a bit of sniping between the sport’s biggest rivals to get some attention for college basketball. If nothing else, it was much more fun and juicy than talking about Kelvin Sampson’s phone bills. Coach K surely knew that this media frenzy would ensue after making his comments. When it comes to slights against his team, Roy’s skin is thinner than a coked-up runway model.

Duke once again showed its conference loyalty in Wednesday’s 96-95 loss at Miami. The Hurricanes entered on the wrong side of the tournament bubble and desperately needed a high-quality win. Joe Lunardi certainly took notice as the Blue Devils accommodated the hosts with a season-high 23 turnovers. Miami’s Dwayne Collins tallied a career-high 26 points, leaving Duke assistant Chris Collins highly impressed. Remarked Chris, “Who would ever expect a guy named Collins to play so well in a Duke game?”

By dropping consecutive games on the road, Duke also brought joy to the opposing fans. ACC crowds always exert extra energy when the Blue Devils or Tar Heels come for a visit. However, until Sunday, Duke was unblemished in conference play, while UNC’s two defeats both came at home. In losing back-to-back contests, the Blue Devils put a stop to this season’s appalling lack of court-stormings by ACC fans.

It is not surprising that a team led by Coach K would be so unselfish these days. Krzyzewski is a devout Roman Catholic, so Lent is an important time for him. Coach K believes that everyone should be willing to sacrifice something. As a prime example, he cited the Duke football program, which gave up winning when Steve Spurrier left for Florida.

After this string of unselfishness, Duke cannot be blamed if it proceeds to blow out St. John’s this Saturday. However, rival fans have to appreciate the Blue Devils’ efforts in recent days. Only one thing would make them happier: seeing those same results in March.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More Superhero Dunks for Howard

Saturday night, Orlando’s Dwight Howard dazzled the All-Star crowd in New Orleans by winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. In the most enduring image, Howard donned a Superman costume and threw one down with cape in tow. Some may wonder what the Magic big man can do for an encore if he chooses to defend his title in Phoenix next year. Clearly the Superman theme worked for Howard this year, so he should expand his repertoire to include other superheroes. Here are some possibilities, in alphabetical order.

Aquaman: With the court at US Airways Center completely underwater, Howard swims from one basket to another and emerges to throw down a thunderous slam.

Batman: Howard dunks after jumping over a rookie teammate forced to dress as Robin. In his front-row seat, Jack Nicholson laughs maniacally as The Joker.

Blade: Howard kills a vampire before every dunk. Then, continuing the Wesley Snipes theme, he hustles his competitors with the help of Woody Harrelson.

Captain America: Each dunk has Howard slamming over Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, or another foreign-born All-Star.

Flash: Using superhuman speed, Howard dunks 300 times within the span of a minute. An added bonus: if he actually misses a few, the judges will never notice.

Ghost Rider: Howard takes off on a fiery motorcycle and throws down a slam. In a tribute to the Fonz, Howard’s motorcycle jump goes over Jerry Tarkanian.

Green Lantern: Instead of going to the basket, Howard uses his power ring to bring the basket to him. The dunking part’s easy after that.

Hulk: Howard turns green, busts out of his shirt in a rage, slams the ball through the hoop, and hurls the basket at the front row of spectators.

Iron Man: Howard throws one down while wearing a suit of armor. Michael Jordan often had to use this tactic when he played against the Knicks.

Plastic Man: With his ridiculously long reach, Howard dunks from the three-point line, simultaneously winning the Slam Dunk Contest and the Three-Point Shootout.

Spider-Man: Howard spins a web to the roof, swings his way to a ferocious dunk, and kisses Kirsten Dunst while hanging upside-down.

Storm: After creating a tornado in the arena, Howard slams through the turbulent conditions. He still keeps the arena dry, since commissioner David Stern has issued a strict edict against “making it rain” during All-Star Weekend.

Wolverine: The dunk-a-thon for Howard continues, even though he repeatedly punctures the ball with his razor-sharp claws.

Wonder Woman: Howard transforms into a hot woman, jumps from his invisible jet to throw down a slam, and reels in his competitors with a lasso.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Roger Clemens Spin on Samuel Clemens

One of the giants of American literature, Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens. These days, most sports fans view another Clemens as a prolific storyteller. Roger’s testimony before Congress may not endure as long as Twain’s works. However, the Rocket is quite knowledgeable about his namesake author. Here’s a look at how today’s Clemens views ten famous works from the earlier Clemens.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Twain’s masterpiece is among the books most frequently banned from libraries. Since it is a banned substance, Roger denies that Brian McNamee ever injected Huck Finn into his buttocks.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom nobly took a whipping to protect sweetheart Becky Thatcher. But Roger would advise Tom, “If anyone asks about HGH, say Becky’s the one who took it.”

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County: Roger insists that the frog’s jumping was due solely to his religious workout regimen, and he was never injected with anything other than B-12.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: Whether in the 1800s, medieval England, or 2008, Roger doesn’t think a Yankee should have to show up in ANYONE’S court.

The Gilded Age: Roger insists, “I never took gilds during the Gilded Age, so there’s no way I could have taken steroids during the Steroid Era!”

Innocents Abroad: “It’s Samuel Clemens’ Innocents Abroad,” notes Roger. “Shorten that, and you get ‘Clemens innocent.’ Case closed!”

Life on the Mississippi: “The Mighty Mississippi is a natural wonder,” states Roger. “So why can’t I be mighty and natural?”

The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg: Roger emphasizes, “I’ve never played in Hadleyburg, so you can’t pin that one on me!”

The Prince and the Pauper: Asked why the book has a happy ending, Roger replies, “Because the pauper never told lies about the prince to George Mitchell!”

Pudd’nhead Wilson: “Okay, this one got published when Twain was 58,” remarks an annoyed Roger. “But I’m supposed to be washed up in my 30s??? Come on!!!”

Monday, February 11, 2008

"UNC Defeats Clemson in Chapel Hill," Plus Similar Headlines

For North Carolina fans, it was nearly the worst back-to-back regular season scenario imaginable. Coming off a defeat to hated Duke on Wednesday, the Tar Heels were perilously close to their first-ever home loss against Clemson Sunday night. However, despite never leading in regulation, UNC managed to prevail 103-93 in double-overtime. As a result, Carolina is now 53-0 against the Tigers in Chapel Hill, and “The Streak” lives on for at least another year.

Clemson was, for much of the evening, the better team in the Smith Center. However, in the end, the result was this utterly predictable headline: “UNC Defeats Clemson in Chapel Hill.” Here are a number of other headlines - inside and outside the sports world - carrying a similar level of surprise.

Cleveland Falls Short of Championship
Lohan Involved in Auto Mishap
Clemens Steroid Case Takes Bizarre Turn
Opposing Fan Calls Belichick “Arrogant”
Critics Blast New Sandler Film
Bengal Taken Into Custody
Bush’s Approval Rating Declines
Yankees Lead MLB in Payroll
Sitcom Focuses On Fat Guy With Hot Wife
Clippers Face Rebuilding Season
Major Title Eludes Sergio
Hot August Predicted For Phoenix
Fans Heap Scorn on BCS
Marlins Play Before Sparse Crowd
L.A. Drivers Confronted By Gridlock
Knick Fans Show Disgust Toward Isiah
Sharpton, Limbaugh Disagree On Several Issues
Saban Accepts New Coaching Job
Pope Endorses Prayer Habit
Vitale Portrays Duke in Positive Light

Friday, February 08, 2008

ACC Halftime Report

We’ve reached the midpoint of conference play in the ACC basketball season. How do things look? In order of the current standings, here are some quick hits on each of the 12 teams.

Duke: 8-0 Conference; 20-1 Overall. Coach K has the Devils at the top of their game, and now we know why he was chosen to coach at the Beijing Olympics this summer. It’s the Year of the Rat in China.

North Carolina: 6-2; 21-2. Ty Lawson’s injury is only a temporary issue. The long-range problem? There’s no “D” in “Tar Heels.”

Clemson: 5-3; 17-5. The Tigers desperately hope to end their winless streak in Chapel Hill this Sunday. If UNC somehow falls to 52-1, the ’72 Dolphins will storm the Smith Center court.

Maryland: 5-3; 15-8. Bambale Osby is fulfilling the promise he showed at Carver High School in the late 70’s. Any White Shadow fans out there?

Virginia Tech: 5-4; 14-9. Three of the Hokies’ conference wins have come in overtime. So they’re hoping that all ACC Tournament games will be scheduled for 45 minutes.

North Carolina State: 4-4; 15-7. Freshman star J.J. Hickson gives ACC fans what they’ve wanted for years: a J.J.-led team that’s completely mediocre.

Georgia Tech: 4-4; 11-10. In conference, the Yellow Jackets are 1-3 at home and 3-1 on the road. Is Eli Manning their point guard?

Wake Forest: 3-5; 13-8. The future looks bright, and Chris Paul is lighting up the NBA. But once again, I have to ask: why does the Demon Deacon mascot wear a bowtie on his CHIN? Somebody answer me!

Boston College: 3-5; 12-9. The Eagles have dropped five straight games. Fortunately for them, Boston fans are way more disappointed by a team that’s lost 1 of its last 19.

Florida State: 3-6; 14-10. Guard Isaiah Swann is out with a torn ACL. Unlike for other FSU athletes, this ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament, not Academic Cheating Loss.

Miami: 2-6; 15-7. This slumping Miami team can’t help itself by trading Shaq.

Virginia: 1-7; 11-10. At 10-2 when the new year arrived, they’re just 1-8 since. Giuliani’s had a less disappointing 2008.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Perfection Denied, From 1 To 19

In a historic upset Sunday, the New York Giants stunned the previously undefeated New England Patriots 17-14 to win Super Bowl XLII. The Pats had been expected to cap off an unprecedented 19-0 season, but they ended up 35 seconds short of their goal. Here’s a by-the-numbers look, from 1 to 19, at perfection denied.

1: Notre Dame’s ranking in November 1993, before an upset by Boston College. So the whole “ruining a perfect season” thing is old hat for Tom Coughlin.

2: As in Rocky II, which showed that sometimes the overwhelming underdog doesn’t win until the rematch. Next, the Giants get to take on Clubber Lang.

3: Margin by which New York defeated Miami at Wembley Stadium in the first regular-season NFL game played outside of North America. As of now, every NFL team to win a regular season game in London has gone on to win the Super Bowl.

4: Receptions during the entire regular season by the Giants’ David Tyree. So in the Super Bowl, it’s only natural that he caught a touchdown and had an insanely amazing catch on the game-winning drive.

5: New York’s seed in the NFC playoffs, marking the third consecutive year a team playing on wild card weekend went on to win the Super Bowl. Next year, look for the top two seeds to refuse their opening round bye.

6: Computer rankings used by the BCS. The NFL would rather have a playoff, allowing the Giants the chance to play their way to a championship. I know, it’s crazy.

7: Feature films directed by Michael Bay, a graduate of Wesleyan. Unlike fellow Wesleyan alum Bill Belichick, he’s SUPPOSED to be known for his filming activity.

8: Surprisingly low number of Brady Bunch episodes with an appearance by Sam the Butcher, played by Allan Melvin. Melvin died on January 17, providing a distraction for all Bradys.

9: Carries on Sunday by New York’s Ahmad Bradshaw, for 45 yards. As Super Bowl history has shown, it’s good to have a Bradshaw on your side.

10: 1979 film in which Bo Derek represented perfection. Unfortunately for the Patriots, perfection in the NFL was also a 70’s thing.

11: Consecutive victories for New York outside of Giants Stadium. Like most people, their outlook improves just by leaving New Jersey.

12: Points by which New England was favored on Sunday, as fans of every other team pulled for the Giants. Because nothing says “lovable underdog” more than a New York team.

13: Super Bowls won by quarterbacks drafted #1 overall, now that Eli Manning has joined the list. Tim Couch could do it too, if someone would just give him the chance!

14: Ranking of Some Like It Hot on the American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the 100 best American films. Its famous last line was: “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

15: Age of Miley Cyrus, a/k/a Hannah Montana, whose concert movie is currently #1 at the box office. In crunch time, Eli did his own Montana impression.

16: Points scored by New England in the “Tuck Rule” game, which began its remarkable post-season success under Belichick. This time, Justin’s pass rush had Giants fans screaming, “Tuck Rules!!!”

17: Jersey number of Plaxico Burress, who had predicted that the Patriots would score 17. Instead, his winning touchdown put the Giants at 17, much to the delight of those 17-0 Dolphins.

18: Games won by the 1985 Bears, the last 18-1 team before New England. That Super Bowl wasn’t much fun for Pats fans either.

19: Like the Patriots, I didn’t quite manage to finish this one.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Other Bold Predictions From Plaxico

This week, Plaxico Burress made headlines by predicting that his underdog New York Giants will beat the undefeated New England Patriots 23-17 in Sunday’s Super Bowl. What went unreported is that Burress made several other bold predictions for the upcoming weekend. Here’s a look at Plaxico’s other prognostications.

The Patriots’ opening drive will stall, after Tom Brady receives a 15-yard penalty for “Excessive Dreaminess.”

The Memphis Tigers will be stunned at home by UTEP on Saturday, because no one leaves this weekend undefeated.

Like many dropouts, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards will hitchhike across America and try to find themselves.

Cate Blanchett will be booted from the Oscar race after a positive steroid test.

A Super Bowl commercial will spark controversy by not including any Mannings.

During Sunday mass, Pope Benedict XVI will reference “the Gospel of Larry the Cable Guy…”

Skies in Des Moines will be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of precipitation.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will open the Super Bowl halftime show with “Baby Got Back.”

As a Minnesota sports star, Adrian Peterson will prepare for his upcoming trade to a team in the Northeast.

Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow, resulting in six more weeks of the writers’ strike.

Auburn University will expel students supporting Barack Obama, since he has “Bama” in his name.

Sit ‘N Sleep will beat anyone’s advertised price or your mattress is FREEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

After cutting interest rates, the Federal Reserve will announce plans to cut the Knicks’ payroll.

Ozzy Osbourne will demand that February be changed from Black History Month to Black Sabbath History Month.

The 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame class will include the guy who invented the Cheesehead.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rutgers Now Known As "Keystone Knights"

A perennial doormat in the Big East, the Rutgers men’s basketball team raised eyebrows with an almost unprecedented week. For the second time in the program’s history, the Scarlet Knights notched consecutive victories over ranked opponents. RU followed up Wednesday’s upset over #18 Villanova with a road stunner over 17th-ranked Pittsburgh on Saturday. Clearly the state of Pennsylvania is being good to Rutgers these days, so coach Fred Hill wanted his players to have a constant reminder of the Keystone State. Therefore, the team will be known as the Keystone Knights for the remainder of the season.

Along with an earlier victory over Lafayette, the Keystone Knights are now 3-0 versus Pennsylvania teams this season. Excluding those triumphs, Rutgers is just 7-11 overall and 0-6 in the Big East. Certainly the Sunshine Knights would not have worked, as RU fell to Florida and South Florida by a combined 48 points. The Keystone Cops might have been appropriate, except the actual Keystone Cops committed fewer turnovers. These Rutgers hoopsters had generated so little interest, Don Imus didn’t even bother making racially insensitive remarks about them.

Therefore, no one could have expected the developments of the past week. The 80-68 home win over Villanova was certainly a surprise. Far more shocking was the 77-64 triumph in Pittsburgh. The Knights’ only previous road victory of the season came over the winless New Jersey Institute of Technology. Perhaps this week, they were inspired by another local team – the Giants, who have won ten straight games away from home. It’s a good thing Rutgers wasn’t watching the Nets, who just completed an 0-6 road trip with a loss in Minnesota. Right now, NJIT is begging for a shot at the Nets.

Clearly the Knights were the more focused team against the Panthers during Saturday’s telecast on ESPN Classic. It’s highly possible that seeing the phrases “Rutgers Basketball” and “ESPN Classic” together left Pitt in a state of confusion. Reporters on hand were also perplexed, leading them to frequently use the schools’ initials of “RU” in the post-game press conference. The first question posed to Coach Hill was, “Two wins in a row against ranked teams - RU f***ing kidding me?” Another reporter followed up, “Seriously, RU f***ing kidding me?” This went on for another five minutes.

The pleasant surprise of those two victories was followed by a disappointing realization. Rutgers has no more games on the schedule versus Pennsylvania opponents. The Knights only play Villanova and Pittsburgh once apiece, since the Big East currently includes 52 teams. Hill considered adding a matchup with the 76ers, but he didn’t want to weaken the schedule.

Knowing that he needed to keep the Keystone State fresh in his team’s mind, Hill came up with the idea for the “Keystone Knights” nickname. The choice was not quite a slam dunk, since Rutgers is also undefeated over opponents from North Dakota and New Hampshire. However, ultimately the “Keystone Knights” won out over the “Live Free and Die Scarlets.”

The nickname change is only temporary and does not extend to the other sports teams at Rutgers. The men’s basketball adjustment will also include a tweaking of the mascot. Instead of evoking images of jousting and chivalry, the Keystone Knight mascot will be a student dressed up as Bobby Knight, angrily hurling cans of Keystone Beer at spectators.

It remains to be seen whether the name change can help Rutgers against its remaining opponents. But even in Louisville or West Virginia, the Keystone Knights will always have Pennsylvania.