Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The top 10 Nike commercials ever

Why? Because everybody loves a top 10 list centered around awesome Youtube videos. Well, that and because I just spent two hours on Youtube and I want to have something to show for it. Ever wind up at some random memory and you have to retrace your train of thought to figure out how you arrived there? I got started on these Nike commercials because I searched Adrian Peterson, watched about 16 highlight reels for the 4,000th time and then clicked his "Nike Sparq Training" ad and for some reason this commercial was on the sidebar and that reminded me how awesome some Nike ads are.

Nike makes the best sports commercials. They just do (it). They can be funny, they can be emotional or they can be both. From "Lil' Penny" to "Fate" directed by David Fincher to "Battle", these ads got it all -- awesome music, cool footage, innovative ideas and slick editing. So I spent some major time perusing the Tube and came up with my favorite 10 Nike commercials ever. (Keep in mind, these are MY favorite. Not your favorite.)

10. Pretty much anything with Michael Jordan makes a great commercial. It could be 30 seconds of MJ just dribbling in his underwear with some awesome pulsing beat with a light piano over the top and then you slap, "Become Legendary" and the Jumpman on the end of it and you've got a flippin' sweet commercial.

9. I remember after this commercial, everybody from Lee Trevino to my school's junior high golf team was trying this. It was really the beginning of "Tiger Woods - Advertising Superstar." And no matter how many times you've seen it, there's always one person that still says, "You know he did that in one take?" Yeah, I know. Thanks for telling me for the 200th time.

8. Lance Armstrong has the same marketability of Jordan because anything he does is top drawer. But he has an edge because any commercial he does is softly lined with, "Holy crap, this is inspirational." Beating cancer and then becoming maybe the most dominant athlete on the globe can do that. This commercial wasn't particularly funny or emotional, but it's awesome because the whole time I watch it, I just think about how amazing Lance is. And I think that's the point.

7. "It's gotta be the shoes!" started the Jordan commercial revolution. Well, that and the Micky D's H-O-R-S-E commercial with Larry Legend. My favorite part: "Is it the extra long shorts?" If Spike could have only known basketball shorts would eventually turn into mesh capris.

6. When I was in sixth grade, this commercial ruled the world. Everybody went to school humming, "Bum, buh--buh, bum-bum." I remember watching TV and looking forward to the commercials hoping this one would come on. Admit it - you worked on the heel-kick pass. I know I did. And you also likely made fun of Lisa Leslie doing nothing impressive but being in the video for obvious reasons. I wish Nike would remake this commercial with some of today's stars. That would be awesome.

5. This slot was basically reserved for one of the heart pumping football commercials Nike has. Really, either the aforementioned "Fate" or the Michael Mann directed "Leave Nothing." And Leave Nothing won out pretty much only because of the perfect music selection from Last of the Mohicans. As Shawne Merriman and Steven Jackson tear through opponents, you can picture Daniel Day-Lewis doing the same as he screams through the woods with his hatchet and musket in hand.

4. It debuted before the 2008 Olympics and the first time I saw it I did two things: 1) Went and looked up what song that was playing in it and 2) Rewound my DVR and watched it again. And again. And again. One thing that makes Nike commercials so great is they are so simple, yet so deep. The transition between Lance in a hospital bed to riding with fury with the yellow on gives me instant hot face. And I could watch Jordan kiss the trophy a thousand times.

3. This was the best thing to come out of this year's "Redeem Team." Well, other than the actual redemption and that whole gold medal thing.

2. Some could say it kicked the steroids era into a new gear. Not only only do chicks dig the long ball, but general managers do too. I crack up every time when Greg Maddux says, "Hey, we got Cy Young winners over here!" And the fact the Mad Dog is wearing glasses.

1. You know a commercial is great when it gives you the chill and then gives you the hot face, followed by the welling eyes and the hard swallow. This commercial did it all. The fact that it debuted on Father's Day weekend during the U.S. Open where Tiger played on one leg in maybe the greatest performance ever, sealed it as the greatest commercial ever.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jason Whitlock has words for ESPN - and I have a response

So Jason Whitlock (who I generally have no qualms) wrote a column taking on the World Wide Leader. Which is all fine and good and I think he has some pretty valid points. What he uses to illustrate his points is Ball State football and the lack of coverage. And he even goes so far to say that BSU's very fine quarterback Nate Davis deserves to be in the Heisman consideration. Ok.

But then there was this line:

"Here's what's more frustrating. Not one of the Big 12's quarterbacks is in the same physical ballpark as Ball State's Nate Davis. It's not close. They can't match his arm, instincts, touch, accuracy, presence, ability to move in the pocket, out of the pocket or make plays when things break down."

To which of course, is ridiculous, and I immediately thought, "I have to break this thing down FJM ( style" because there's so many things to grab, gnaw on a little and then just rip the sheen out of.

Believe it or not, before ESPN purchased the majority of relevant sports programming and seduced most of the creative, independent-thinking, connected sports writers to join its evil empire...

Believe it or not, they purchased you too before they fired you. Strange how getting canned will turn someone bitter.

...there was this magical time when substance and the little guy actually had a voice in the sports world.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. You don't think the little guy actually has a voice in the sports world? Did you watch Boise State's 2006 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma? I know I did. I was there. And I had to listen to the months of dialogue about the "little guy". Do you happen to watch that little tournament that rolls around in March where some team from Virginia Commonwealth wins a game and the country (including ESPN) flips their collective crap? I remember ESPN hooking up to "little guys" like Stephen Curry, Gonzaga, Rutgers and South Florida and Ian Johnson and riding them as far as they could.

There was a time when writers would champion guys such as Gordon Lockbaum (fifth in 1986 and third in 1988) and Joe Dudek (ninth in 1985) for the Heisman Trophy. It's difficult to believe now, but in 1982 the 10 top vote-getters were all actually really, really good college football players: Herschel Walker, John Elway, Eric Dickerson, Anthony Carter, David Rimington, Todd Blackledge, Tom Ramsey, Tony Eason, Dan Marino and Mike Rozier.

So wait. Because some sportswriters used to champion no name guys such as Gordon Lockbaum and Joe Dudek ESPN is messed up? Go ahead Jason - name me the the top five Heisman vote getters in 2002. Or 2003. Can't? Or did some writer not "champion" one so you can remember them?

Yes, back before one television enterprise monopolized the sports world, you actually could put together a serious run at the Heisman even if you weren't the starting quarterback of the top-ranked team Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger just anointed.

Off that list he put up from 1982: Herschel Walker played at Georgia, John Elway at Stanford, Eric Dickerson at then powerhouse SMU, Anthony Carter at Michigan, Dave Rimington at Nebraska, Todd Blackledge at Penn State, Tom Ramsey at UCLA, Tony Eason at Illinois, Dan Marino at Pitt and Mike Rozier at Nebraska. Not exactly a group of guys from Ball State and Bowling Green. You honestly think those guys wouldn't get consideration today? And you act like Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow and Graham Harrell and Sam Bradford are having bad years - you do realize they're doing good, right?

Since 2000, here are your Heisman Trophy winners: Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Carson Palmer, Jason White, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Troy Smith and Tim Tebow. Do the 10 guys I named from 1982 form a better group than the eight winners from the new millennium, and if so why?

What's your point here? Seriously, what is it? That some of those guys in 1982 turned out to have great NFL careers and some didn’t? That some of the recent Heisman winners were fantastic college players and either didn’t pan out in the NFL or haven’t really had a chance to because theier careers are just a few years old? Check out the full list of Heisman winners pre-WWL. Not everybody on there is a John Elway or Dan Marino either. Remember Charles Woodson? A DB for Michigan? He won it over pretty-boy quarterback Peyton Manning in 1997. And yes, ESPN was in full operation then.

The conversation about the Heisman Trophy and all things in sports has been dumbed down by the World Wide Leader. This year the network pretty much decided you had to play quarterback in the Big 12 to be in consideration for the Heisman Trophy. At different times throughout the season, Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford, Graham Harrell and Colt McCoy have been declared the leading candidates to win college sports' most prestigious individual award.

Did you know: Shonne Greene (Iowa), Javon Ringer (Michigan State) and even NATE DAVIS are in the top 10 on ESPN's Heisman Watch? Here's some other names on the Heisman list early on: Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Beanie Wells, Tim Tebow, Michael Crabtree, Dez Bryant, Knowshon Moreno. Those names have been tossed about too. The difference between Harrell, McCoy and Bradford - they've sustained great seasons. They lived up to the hype. They are three of the very best players in the country. And you expect ESPN to not talk about them because Nate Davis threw two touchdowns and a pick against Western Kentucky?

When Oklahoma embarrassed Texas Tech, Bradford shot past Harrell. Here's what's frustrating. I live in Big 12 country. I follow the league and have watched them all play regularly. Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree is the best football player in the Big 12.

I'm glad you said, "best FOOTBALL player in the Big 12." Otherwise, I wouldn't have known what we were talking about. And he's not. He's the best receiver, yes. But he's not the best player. It seems like you're trying to make the point that Crabtree isn't getting the nod because he's not a quarterback. Am I right there? And since you think he's the best FOOTBALL player, he should be leading? Well guess what - if we're talking FOOTBALL players in the Big 12, Brian Orakpo may actually be the best. Or maybe Duke Robinson from OU. Or heck, maybe even Colt McCoy or Sam Bradford. The Heisman Trophy is a skill position trophy. It's been that way since... forever.

Here's what's more frustrating. Not one of the Big 12's quarterbacks is in the same physical ballpark as Ball State's Nate Davis. It's not close. They can't match his arm, instincts, touch, accuracy, presence, ability to move in the pocket, out of the pocket or make plays when things break down.

Here's what's even MORE frustrating. Your retarded homer opinion. Really. Not one is in the same physical ballpark? It's not CLOSE? Let's step back and look again: You don't think Graham Harrell, Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy are even CLOSE to Nate Davis in ability or intangibles? What do I even have to say here? McCoy is about to shatter the record for completion percentage, Bradford might throw for 50 touchdowns in a balanced offense, Daniel had games where he threw only THREE incomplete passes and Harrell is approaching 4,500 yards. And those guys aren't even close to your boy, Nate Davis? You serious Clark?

They can't match his resume. Getting Ball State to 12-0 under the best circumstances is far more difficult than getting Oklahoma to 11-1. I know Ball State's schedule isn't as difficult as Oklahoma's. I also know Bradford is surrounded by far more talent than Davis.

This is my favorite part. Three things:

1. Here's your reasoning: Since Nate Davis has crappy teammates and Sam Bradford has really good ones, obviously it much be tougher to win (forget the fact of who each team has to play). Then you try and cover it by tossing in the little, "I know Ball State's schedule isn't as difficult as Oklahoma's" line. Darn right it’s not. Ball State's best win is over 3-9 Indiana. You really think it's that tough to go 12-0 against Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Insert Direction Michigan, Northeastern and Miami of Ohio? That's somehow tougher than going 11-1 against Big East champ Cincinnati, top 15 TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Nebraska and Oklahoma State?

2. And since Nate Davis has poo-poo players around him, his season is somehow better than Bradford's? So if a Division III quarterback throws for 40 TDs and 4,000 yards, by your logic, is he like the bestest player ever? Or could it be, that we'd say, "Let's see him put up those numbers against real defenses and real athletes?”

3. Nate Davis: 67.3 % completions, 3,095 yards, 25 passing touchdowns, four rushing, six interceptions

Sam Bradford: 68.7 % completions, 4,080 yards, 46 passing touchdowns, five rushing, six interceptions

Who has the better resume? No commentary needed.

Look, if the sports world didn't operate under the control of a sports-media dictatorship, I wouldn't have to provide you the context. A powerful, unbiased, independent journalist would've traveled to Ball State during the summer and talked with the man who recruited Tom Brady to Michigan (Brady Hoke) and the man who coached Tom Brady at Michigan (Ball State offensive coordinator Stan Parrish).

Because ESPN didn’t send Ivan Maisel to Muncie last summer, they’re evil? Did Sports Illustrated? Did… Fox Sports send someone?

Now, ESPN2 has broadcast Ball State's last four games. The first game I believe Lou Holtz and Mark May provided the color commentary. It was their first real look at Davis, and they were appropriately complimentary and a bit guarded.


The second game was against Miami of Ohio and a non-descript B team called the game. The last two games were against Central Michigan and Western Michigan, two top-40-caliber squads who provided the Cardinals legitimate tests. Ray Bentley, an all-time great at CMU, a former NFL linebacker and a passionate follower of MAC football, was the color commentator. Unfortunately, ESPN did not require Bentley to leave his Central Michigan pom poms at home.

So ESPN has broadcast Ball State’s last four games on NATIONAL TELEVISION and because the announcers weren’t giving your favorite little player enough pub, you think ESPN is completely biased and destructive? Maybe you should have left your Ball State pom poms at home before you wrote this garbage.

Nor did the network force Bentley to disclose all pertinent information, such as the fact that his son is a walk-on member of the CMU football team and that the Ball State coaching staff declined to offer Bentley's kid a scholarship despite Bentley's request.

From now on, every person that is going to speak or write about sports has to preface whatever they are going to say or write with:

A. The school they graduated from. All the way down to kindergarten. If Brad Nessler went to elementary school in Mesquite, Texas, dammit, I need know.

Any past discussions with the coaching staff of the school they are going to talk about. If Lee Corso asked for a donut in Gainesville and he didn’t get it, I need to know this before I hear his obviously now completely biased opinion.

If their child has the desire to play sports at a university or if they currently are. It would be one thing if Ray Bentley’s kid was the starting tailback – but he was a walk-on. Come on. You know Craig James has a son playing for Texas Tech, right? Before he opens his mouth I need, "My kid plays at Texas Tech... but I'll tell you, right now Florida is playing the best football in the country."

If the viewers knew all the relevant information coloring Ray's commentary, then they probably would've understood why Bentley spent the entire Ball State-CMU broadcast pretending that CMU's outstanding MAC quarterback, Dan Lefevour, was on the same level as Ball State's once-in-a-lifetime passer.

And since we know all the relevant information coloring this column, then that's probably why we understand not to take you seriously. At all.

Dan Lefevour’s season stats: 3067 total yards, 19 passing TDs, six rushing, five INTs

Nate Davis’ season stats: 3336 total yards, 25 passing TDs, four rushing six INTs.

And did you know: Last season Lefevour passed for 3652 yards, ran for 1122, threw for 27 touchdowns and ran for 19 more. Maybe one of the greatest seasons ever for a college quarterback. So since Lefevour plays for little 'ol Central Michigan, he’s got to be like the greatest player ever – and judging by his 2007 campaign, better than Nate Davis (gasp!) and deserving to be, talked about when he’s playing.

As a journalist, it's important that I disclose to you that I love Ball State. When I have a bias, I let you know it in hopes that you will read my commentary in context.

Thanks for qualifying everything you wrote. You try to cover your rather large butt by giving us a "full disclosure" - that you’re a Ball State grad and you love your school. Like we're supposed to automatically think, "Oh! Well, he obviously won't display extreme, ridiculous homerism then! And if he does, it’s alright because he qualified it!" I'm an OU guy. I am about to get a diploma from there in two weeks. I love the school. Now I can write columns and say stuff like, "The Oklahoma football team could beat the 1985 Bears. Blake Griffin is the best basketball player ever - better than Jordan, Russell, Bird. And since ESPN doesn't say so, I hate them." Thanks for the journalism tip, Jason! I just have to qualify, and then I can say insanely absurd things.

ESPN is so financially tied to the organizations it covers and so devoid of basic journalistic ethics that it cannot properly analyze the sports world. ESPN just bought the BCS television package. It has a vested interest in promoting all things BCS.

Guess who has the current rights to the BCS? Wait for it… wait for it… FOX! So right now, ESPN is vested in promoting all things BCS… for FOX?

If you're going to televise multiple Big 12 games in primetime on ABC and ESPN, you have every reason to promote the myth that the majority of Heisman Trophy candidates play in the Big 12.

Ball State games televised in primetime by ABC/ESPN: four. OU games televised in primetime by ABC/ESPN: three.

I'm not someone who believes Ball State belongs in a BCS bowl game. Any team — not just a mid-major — needs a top-25 victory on its resume before you even begin the BCS argument. We don't have it. Right now, we've earned the right to be ranked — in my opinion — anywhere from No. 18 to 23. If we finish 14-0, I'll be satisfied with a ranking between No. 10 and 15.

Too bad Ball State blew the chance to do just that, you know, denying that opportunity to play top 10 Boise State in the Humanitarian Bowl. Didn’t want to actually play somebody and for goodness sakes, play them on the road. Otherwise, he-man Nate Davis might have a bad game and ruin this wonderful season!

Let me tell you what passes for courage and independent thinking at ESPN. Chris Fowler dropped Ball State out of his AP top-25 ballot last week after the Cardinals beat a then-9-2 Central Michigan team on the road.

What do you care about Chris Fowler? He’s one AP voter. He ranked Ball State No. 19 last week – exactly in the area you say you’d have them.

He has never been a professional journalist a day in his life. He's a TV personality. He knows what someone else has told him. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I'd suspect he hasn't worn a jock since junior high school.

And you OBVIOUSLY haven’t put one on since college. And I’m sure your jock is thankful for it. (The joke here is that Whitlock is fat and weighs like 400 pounds.) When you resort to the “Well you must not know anything because you didn’t play sports!” argument, you’re losing it. You know who else didn’t play college sports? Jim Murray, maybe he best sportswriter ever. Hunter S. Thompson, one of the most innovative. Rick Reilly, 11-time national sports writer of the year.

This is the combination that is killing the sports media. No journalism background, no real athletic experience and no backbone. No clue. Fowler wouldn't make a competent blogger.

You have a journalism degree from Ball State, your “real” athletic experience is that you played football at Ball State and your backbone is likely curved due to holding up your body. Fowler is a graduate of Colorado, and was the first recipient of the Alan Berg Memorial Journalism Scholarship, awarded by the Denver Press Club. And I don’t think he has to catch his breath when he stands up.

Ball State is the most disciplined, well-coached team in college football. Check the stats. The Cardinals almost never get penalized. We're the least flagged team in the nation. We're in the top 20 in the country in turnover margin.

Way to go.

Someone like Chris Fowler can't grasp how that helps you win football games.

Chris Fowler: “Wait, so you mean you’re not supposed to throw it to the other team? You’re NOT supposed to get penalties? Geez, I wonder how I’ve faked this GameDay thing to a national audience for 20 years.” And anyway, what does that have to do with Fowler dropping them? Ball State plays disciplined football. You think he doesn’t understand how that helps to win games. So. What.

No penalties, no turnovers and Nate Davis are how Ball State would beat the ACC or Big East champions, teams that will play in BCS bowl games.

I guess we’ll never get to find out, seeing as your precious school is composed of a bunch of babies that are afraid to play anyone.

Look, Nate Davis is a nice player. But the fact that you really and truly think that ESPN not touting him as a Heisman contender is the reason the WWL is evil and horrible, is just plain pathetic. Especially when you break all “journalism” rules and refer to Ball State as “we” for the last half of the column. From now on, I have reason to always root against Ball State for the rest of my life. So let me go ahead and qualify it so that it’s fair and journalistic-y. I hate Ball State and will forever hope they lose because of you. If I am an announcer for a game or I have to write a story about them, I’ll either talk about Ray Bentley’s kid or write about your unbelievably overworked jock. Get over yourself Whitlock. There's no agenda here, except your own.

Remembering my sports youth - Starter jackets, Cock hats, Reeboks and more

Every generation of sports fans grew up with with something. Something that everybody had to have. Air Jordan's, Starting Lineups, baseball cards, retro jerseys, the Stadium Pal.

For me and my friends, Starter jackets were it. I mean, it.

Starter jackets had similar dimensions and composition as George Costanza's Gortex blob, but with a sports logo plastered on it. And I mean plastered. Starter got that logo on the zipper, the hood, the front pocket and the sleeve. Everybody was going to know what team you were rocking from every angle. You had to slip it over your head, so that meant you had to be careful or otherwise you might mess up your side-part spike.

My starter jacket was a 1994 Dallas Cowboys beauty. And I fell victim to the Starter Jacket fan birth. I had no affiliation with the Cowboys. I had no previous feelings for the team. I was actually (for some unknown reason) a Buffalo Bills fan at the time. I don't know, I guess Steve Tasker did something for me.

But my mom bought me a Starter jacket and wham-o, I was immediately part of America's Team. My jacket went beautifully with my Reebok pumps and bowl-cut 'do. I was totally awesome. I remember also, the jackets were SO popular, that everybody was wearing them in August. It didn't matter how hot it was outside, your Starter jacket was every bit part of a "normal" wardrobe as shoes, socks or underwear. All my friends had their jackets too - but only a few of them actually possessed a jacket of their favorite team. You see, the jackets were so popular that it was near impossible to land your favorite team when you walked out of JC Penny. It was a total crapshoot. But it wasn't like you were going to actually wait and come back later. And this was before you could say, "Oh well, I'll just order it online." You had to get that Starter jacket and get it now. Didn't matter what team - you'd take whoever they had in the store even if it was a Montreal Expos one.

My older brother was a 49ers fan, but got a Chiefs jacket. My friend Cody got a Florida Seminole one and was now a Charlie Ward fan. Strange how much power the Starter jacket had. But nothing made me feel better than putting on my Penny Hardaway jersey and then tossing my Big D puffcoat over it. I was a walking cornucopia of sport.

Why did it seem like everyone only had a Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket? I know we all loved Mugsy Bogues, but come on.

Along with the acceptance of getting a coat in which you had no affiliation with the logo on it, you also would forgo all typical sizing common sense when buying one. I had friends that weighed all of 52 pounds walking around in XXL Starter jackets. The reason for this was two fold: 1) Because of the supply and demand issues and 2) because they were "expensive" so your mom wouldn't buy you one your size because "you'd just outgrow it in a year." What mom didn't know was that the potential life span of the Starter jacket. Funny how back then we all thought in 15 years people would still be wearing those bloated snowsuits.

One thing I recall about Starter jackets was the incredible demand. I remember seeing stories on the news about people getting held up at gun point for one. To which of course my mother freaked out and threatened to not let me wear mine. It was that day I cursed my bulging Cowboy coat. Why didn't I get a freaking Arizona Cardinals Starter jacket? No one would want that! But instead I had the coat of a back-to-back Super Bowl Champ. I was like a walking T-Bone in a bear cage. I was asking for it. But somehow, I escaped unscathed.

It's weird to look back on what used to be cool. Remember the somehow unoffensive "Cock" hats? Everybody had one. It started with the plain white, snap-backed, Times New Roman font hat that simply said "Cocks" on the front. This was acceptable because it was just a team hat for the South Carolina Gamecocks. And if you brought up the obvious point, you were hit with, "Ah come on dude! Get your head out of the gutter! It's a team dude!" I could accept that. Sure. Everybody knows the Gamecocks. But then the trend caught fire and hats with "Peckers" and "Woodys" and I swear I saw one that just said "Penis" on it one time. I may have been 10 but I wasn't stupid.

I wonder what we'll look back on 10 years from now and laugh at. Fatheads? Graphic tees? Flat-bills with the sticker still on it? Who knows. All I know is that nothing will top the Starter jacket. Lord, I miss mine. I may bust it out tomorrow and rock it one more time. Good thing my mom got me an XXL - I think I finally may have grown into it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The 2008 Big 12 All-Conference teams - with a twist only the Big 12 could produce

The 2008 All-Big 12 Football Awards have been announced.

And boy, are they interesting. In a conference where we really can't decide a division winner, we can't decide a single Coach of the Year either. Somehow, Bob Stoops and Mike Leach split the award and Mack Brown was no where to be found.

But other than the offense somehow having 14 players on the first team (no wonder nobody could stop these offenses!), one thing hit me in the face like a sock filled with pennies. Oklahoma's Jon Cooper was awarded Offensive Lineman of the Year. Good for him. But the curious thing is, he wasn't even on the first team - and there were six offensive lineman on the first team. So Jon Cooper wins top O-Lineman but is on the second team? Someone explain that to me. Seriously, explain that.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Delivering the goods

Per usual, I spent all day Saturday watching college football. It's the ideal day. Kicked back on the sofa, feet up on the coffee table and remote in hand skipping between 14 games, 12 of them having little to no meaning. It's like my favorite thing.
But I nearly and walked to my front door, opened it, placed my head between the frame and the door and began smashing my skull Vinnie Jones style a la Snatch.
Why? Because: Nissan, Delivers.
That was the single most overplayed commercial in history right there. I counted, and this is after about three hours of it already being on enough for me to even think about counting and in a four hour span, NISSAN, DELIVERS ran 22 times. We've all been there. Frank TV nearly sent us all to Bellevue during the MLB playoffs. But those we at least entertaining, somewhat. NISSAN, DELIVERS repeats the same line four times. So on top of it being maybe the most replayed commercial in history, it's maybe the most repetitive in history.
But as I watched Oklahoma win another game on the big stage Saturday night, all I could think was, SAM BRADFORD, DELIVERS. And Slinging Sammy's performances are starting to get about as repetitive as that commercial. The dude is absolutely out of this galaxy. He is so freaking impressive, that he makes a 4,000 yard, 51 touchdown season seem kind of not impressive. Somehow it took two very Sam-like performances on national television to wake the country up to his unreal awesomeness.
Any time Oklahoma State scored, SAM BRADFORD, DELIVERED. Whether it be on a Sooner Magic tip to Jermaine Gresham (speaking of, hey Herbstreit, it's pronounced Gre-shum. Not Gri-shem. He's not the author of The Client. Say it with me, Gre-shum) or flying and spinning through the air like a stiff board, Sammy was incredible.
Tim Tebow became the first sophomore Heisman winner because people flipped their collective crap over his 50 plus touchdowns and Sammy has done the same, but with more yardage. And he's also led his team into this three-way spiral that ended up sending the Schooner to Kansas City and on track for a shot at No. 8. But regardless of what you think about who got screwed there's no denying that Sam Bradford is the most outstanding player in the country. Even in OU's one loss, Bradford played lights out. He tossed five touches against Texas and was overall fantastic. Nothing phases the guy. He's been dubbed "The Big Easy" by Big Bob and he plays like it. He doesn't get rattled, he doesn't lose his composure.

He's simply the best quarterback in OU football history. Don't call me crazy. He already has the school record for TD passes (82) and he's a sophomore. Yes. A SOPHOMORE. If Sam can continue on and finish this season, winning two more games, he'll cement himself in the circle of Sooner gods. Actually, he may already be there regardless.
Just like Beyonce's DirecTV "Upgrade" commercial nearly made me insert hot coals under my eyelids and gave NISSAN, DELIVERS a run, Colt McCoy has a good case. Like Beyonce, he's the sexy pick. He has nice numbers, plays for Texas, is a junior and has a little more name recognition than Sammy. But in the end, when you line both of them up, SAM BRADFORD, DELIVERS.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Previewing the basketball that will be played in the Big 12

Blake Griffin.

I seriously contemplated just writing his name, hitting publish post and calling it a day for my Big 12 basketball preview extravaganza. But alas, I will press on.

This season is looking like a transition year - sort of a changing of the guard. Here's something that truly blew my mind: This is the first time in Big 12 history, OU has been picked to win the conference. The first time. Unreal.

Baylor is up, Kansas is a little down. And by a little down, I mean, preseason fourth in the conference and still in the top 25. You know what the crazy part is? If Bill Self wills his team to a 20-10 record, goes 9-7 in conference and gets a seven seed in the tourney, some stupid sports pundit (Digger Phelps, I’m talking to you) will declare, “This is probably Bill Self’s best coaching job right here.” The idiots, er, analysts love to do this. When an excellent coach has a down year with a bunch of players that were sitting in warm-ups for 40 minutes last year, but manages to win a few ballgames, this is their best coaching job. That 2008 National Title? Pfff. Yeah, but he had Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers. Those guys could have coached themselves. Give me Cole Aldrich and Brady Morningstar and I’ll show you a great coaching job.

Here's five fearless predictions for the upcoming season:
1. With Sean Sutton gone, Doc Sadler assumes the role of “Coach most likely to either pass out on the sideline or drive his car into a tree at 3 a.m.”

2. Scott Drew will wonder 134 times, “What in the crap am I still doing at Baylor?”
He's one of the most fantastic X's and O's guys in the entire country. He can recruit to basketball hell. He can put a tournament team together at BAYLOR. Yeah, why isn't he coaching at some super-school by now?

3. Texas will win the regular season title with a 14-2 record.
The Longhorns have talent all over the floor. If D.J. Augustin had come back, this team would probably be preseason No. 2 in the country and a favorite for the Final Four. But he left. But these guys have experience and these guys have talent. They are best suited to make it through the long haul of a conference season with relatively no slip-ups.

4. Oklahoma will win the Big 12 tournament.
Why? Because OU simply has more talent. The Sooners have the most talented player in the country in Blake Griffin, but they are also a fairly inexperienced team - especially off the bench. OU is more susceptible to a mid-season fall. A loss on the road to some team it should never lose to. But when the Sooners are focused and ready to go, they should be able to compete with anyone in this conference.

5. The Big 12 will have only five teams in the NCAA tournament.
But it will still be considered one of the strongest conferences in the country. Why? Because the Big 12 will have four teams sitting squarely on the bubble. Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State will all be in. Nebraska, Texas A&M, Missouri and Texas Tech will all hover in the 6-10 to 9-7 conference record range and will all come up short.

First team All-Conference
G: Curtis Jerrells – Baylor
G: A.J. Abrams – Texas
G: Sherron Collins – Kansas
F: Damion James – Texas
C: Blake Griffin – Oklahoma

Second team
G: Byron Eaton – Oklahoma State
G: Josh Carter – Texas A&M
F: James Anderson – Oklahoma State
F: Leo Lyons – Missouri
C: Connor Atchley – Texas

Player of the Year
Blake Griffin. How could you not? The dude is absolutely nonsensical. He’s so big, so fast and so freaking strong that I honestly don’t think anyone can guard him one-on-one. He’s going to be doubled, tripled and maybe even quadrupled, but it’s not going to matter, because you can’t keep him off the glass. He’ll get half his points snatching up misses and throwing them back through. Last year he averaged 14 and nine for the season, but that was including two games where played under five minutes. In conference play he was something like 17 and 10. I’m thinking this year, he’s looking at a 20 and 12 season. Seriously. Say hello to the Amare Stoudemire of college basketball. This is what it would have looked like.

Freshman of the Year
Willie Warren. He’s going to press. He’s going to play tight. But he’s got so much skill and best of all, he’s got Blake Griffin in the post, that he’ll have a good season. He’s streaky from the outside, but what he does best is drive and slash. Once he settles in and shakes off the pressure that’s been placed on him and just plays, he’ll be fine. Oklahoma State's Keaton Page has me intrigued because 1) He looks like he's 14 and 2) because he can score, score and score. Consider him the dark horse in this race.

Coach of the Year
Jeff Capel. Let me tell you this about Jeff Capel - I think he's a good coach. I know he's a good man. But like I was telling a friend of mine last week, Capel really doesn't have a chance to prove anything this year other than he can't coach. Explanation: If OU goes 25-5, wins the Big 12, and gets a two-seed in the tourney, most won't give Capel credit because he's got Blake Griffin and a slew of talent around him. If he goes 20-10, finishes fourth conference and gets bounced in the first round of the tournament, it's all Capel's fault because the talent is there. Capel will be held to this awful standard. Some think this is Capel's make or break year to prove he's got it. I say he already proved it - last year. Seriously, rewind your brain to the preseason conversations you were having with buddies before OU tipped off last year. No way more than five percent of you thought the Sooners would win 23 games, get a six seed in the tourney and winning a game. Most thought a goal would be accomplished going to the NIT.

I think you can really break the Big 12 into three parts. The no-chance-in-heck group, the maybe-they'll-compete-a-little group and the actual contenders group. Or in simpler terms, break it with former and current Big 12 coaches. The crash-and-burn-you've-embarrassed-your-family coach, the win-a-few-lose-a-few-but-drive-the-fanbase-nuts coach and the I'm-obviously-the-best-of-the-bunch coach.

Dave Bliss Division

12. Iowa State
I follow Big 12 basketball pretty closely and honestly, the only guy I can say with some certainty that I've heard of is Sean Haluska. And that may be only because I'm getting him confused with former Iowa sharpshooter Adam Haluska. (I know Craig Brackins is really good, but that would've hurt the effectiveness of the joke.)

11. Colorado
I spent 15 minutes studying their roster and trying to come up with something to say here. The conclusion: I've got nothing. It also tells you something when only one player has a picture on the roster page on Just sayin'.

10. Kansas State
Well with Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, this team has to be a favorite to win the conf---... what's that? They left? The only guys back that played significant minutes are Jacob Pullen, Dominique Sutton and Darren Kent? Oh. Well, I guess this could be a long year for Frank Martin and the Wildcats.

Danny Nee Division
9. Texas Tech
This is Pat Knight's first full season as head man. For the first time in 14 years, Martin Zeno will not be playing basketball in Lubbock. Alan Voskuhl is one of the deadliest shooters in the land and he'll keep Tech in games with his long-range bombs. This wouldn't be a Red Raider team without a couple stiff, white foreigners and lucky for us, Esmir Rizvic and Damir Suljagic are back to drive Fred White and Jon Sundvold crazy as they try to spit out those names.

8. Nebraska
They redshirted virtually their entire team last year prepping for a big year. It could happen. But that means this is basically a brand new team with really no actual playing experience. Toney McCray could be an all-conference sleeper and they once again have a player named Cookie on the team.

7. Texas A&M
Josh Carter is good. Brian Davis looks weird but he's good. Donald Sloan is a serviceable point guard. But other than that, this looks like a classic 8-8 conference team. They'll beat who they should, play slightly above average at home, but never get over the top.

6. Missouri
Ok, this is the year. This should be a big step up year. Leo Lyons is one of the conference's elite. Demarre Carrol can dominate the post. Matt Lawrence is your classic "white guy shooter." But why does this group have 8-8 written all over them again? Because there's no point guard. Spencer Laurie could be that man, but if he's not, this team is headed to the NIT.

5. Oklahoma State
New coach. Same players. Kind of a big year for first-year man Travis Ford. Sean Sutton had these guys playing pretty well late in the year, even challenging for a tournament spot. Byron Eaton is solid, but inconsistent. James Anderson shouldn't crap out offensively like he did last year. Terrell Harris will continue to drive Cowboy fans mad. But this team should be good enough to get into the tournament. If they don't, well I think everyone will know where to point the finger.

Bill Self Division
4. Kansas
Yeah, yeah, they lost Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson and basically everybody else. So what they only have two guys back that played any significant time last year. This is Kansas. They have good players. Bill Self is an awesome coach. They'll win 20 and be in the top half of the conference.

3. Baylor
This is a big year for the Bears. Curtis Jerrells is an excellent player. Kevin Rodgers is a freak athlete. LaceDarious Dunn and Henry Dugat are vicious outside threats. The pieces are there and this is their chance to be taken seriously. Tweety Carter will fulfill the role of "Annoying player on opposing team that makes you want to belly-flop onto a bed of nails." Yeah, they've got the pieces in place to contend.

2. Texas
Ridiculous scorer/outside shooter? Check. Athletic mid-range player that can finish and score? Check two. Tall white guy that does all the little intangible things? Triple check. Big dude that lost a bunch of weight and is supposed to be much better? Yep. the Longhorns have the players and the coach to put together another wonderful year. The only question is - can A.J. Abrams run the point and still get his points?

1. Oklahoma
Blake Griffin.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The 10 Commandments of Sooner Football

During the past few home games at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, the public address announcer has made it a point to say before the National Anthem that the song ends with home of the brave. This is something coming directly from President David Boren as a few people have raised a stink about Sooner Nation yelling "Sooners!" in place of brave. As if it were some sign of disrespect to all service-people, past and present. I have no idea how it could be perceived that way - disrespect is the people chattering while it is being played.

But my wife leaned over to me and asked me what I would say. I replied, "I'm always freaking yelling Sooners there. It's freaking tradition! Freaking." I then went on to say yelling "Sooners" in place of "brave" is like one of the Sooner Commandments. So of course, I then put together the 10 Commandments of Sooner Football. In Heisman Park, next to Jason White you can find two tablets made of pure bronze with these words inscribed on them. (No, not really.)
10. Thou shalt always believe in "Sooner Magic." Down 28 with 13 seconds to go? No matter. Believeith in Sooner Magic. Sooner Magic is like the wizardry of David Blaine. It doesn't always work and sometimes it really isn't magic at all, but nonetheless, there's always a chance for something weird to happen.

9. Thou shalt always yellith "Sooners!" at the end of the National Anthem in place of the word "brave." This is a bit of a hot topic around here. And let me get something straight: No one is going to accuse me of not being patriotic, about not loving this country or any of that stuff. It's not a big deal. It's not disrespectful. Is the United States not home to the Sooners? Do we not count?

8. When faced with any debate about whose school is better, thou shalt always defer to the follow line: "Seven. Seven baby, seven." Then for good measure rattle off, "Four Heisman Trophy winners, 142 All-Americans, 41 conference championships. What's your school got?" Addendum: If you are arguing with a fan of a school of equal stature (Alabama, Notre Dame, USC) either make fun of the way their coach looks (Charlie Weis), how they cheat (USC and Reggie Bush) or refer to their schools only very recent success (Alabama). And if that doesn't work just say, "Oh yeah? Well did your school win 47 straight? No? Ah-HA!"
7. Thou shalt always put thy finger in the air and say "OOOOOO-U!" on every kickoff, no matter what the scoreboard says. It is a matter of pride.

6. Thou shalt always stand and clap for Boomer Sooner. This is something I learned from my father. He could be sitting in church and the guy next to him is humming it quietly and my dad would stand up and clap. It's like a reflex.

5. Thou shalt be willing to take bullets for the following people: Bob Stoops, Adrian Peterson, Barry Switzer, Brian Bosworth, the Selmon Brothers, Jason White, Joe Washington, Billy Simms, Tommy McDonald, Steve Owens and now Sam Bradford. And Justin Fuente. Just kidding. These are the living Sooners who would be etched in Mount Soonermore.

4. Thou shalt never speak of the years between 1995 and 1999. Those years have been erased in Sooner history.

3. If OU is not given a fair shake or mentioned as one of the best teams in the country, thou shalt promptly complain about a media bias against the Sooners and nonchalantly pass it off on the fact that the media hated King Switzer for some reason and are therefore punishing the current Sooners.

2. When listening to anyone discuss greatest plays, hits, teams or games in college football history, thou shalt always toss the greatest plays, hits, teams and games in Sooner history into the hat. "Oh yeah? Well, Scott Hill's hit on Tony Dorsett should be up there." "What's that? Well I'm pretty sure Keith Jackson's 99-yard end around is one of the best ever." "No, no, no - the 2000 Sooners were everything a great team should be." Addendum: thou shalt argue these things until blue in the face: 1) Josh Heupel, Adrian Peterson and Billy Sims all should have won the Heisman Trophy (Sims as a repeat). 2) The 2003 National Championship game was close. LSU did not blow out or beat down OU. And the fact that the Tigers basically got to play at home was the difference. 3) OU/Texas is the greatest rivalry in the world. Screw Ohio State/Michigan. Until someone has been to the Cotton Bowl the second Saturday in October, they don't know what they're talking about. 4) And just because I didn't have a chance to put it anywhere else, thou shalt always give it up to the Architect, Mr. Bud Wilkinson.

1. Thou shalt always hate Texas. No matter the day, the hour or the second. Texas does, and forever will, suckith.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Your 2008 Big 12 Halloween Costume Guide

Satan's Holiday is just a few days away and some folks are looking for last minute ideas of what to dress up as. (I've never really understood Halloween and "dressing up" because really all it is is an excuse for girls dressing up in ridiculously slutty outfits. I'm not complaining, I'm just pointing that out.)

Every Halloween you have your different groups. You've got your girls (the ones who buy some novelty outfit that serves no purpose but to have guys ogle them all night, only turn down said guys precisely at 2 a.m.), your "This is lame, but I want to party and check out chicks in slutty nurse outfits" group (the dudes that dress up as themselves, put on dirty old fedora and say they're a bum, wear sweats and say they're a boxer or carry around a beer and say they are an alcoholic) and your "They're taking this waaaaaay too seriously" group (the people that clearly either put an embarrassing amount of time into their costume or spent an embarrassing amount of money on it).

Just so you know where I'm coming from, here's the run down of my Halloween costumes since I was three.
3: Popeye
4: GI Joe
5: GI Joe
6: Indiana Jones
7: GI Joe
8: Troy Aikman (I'll never live this one down)
9: GI Joe
10: Indiana Jones
11: Indiana Jones
12: Indiana Jones
13: GI Joe
14-20: Nothing. This is the period when it isn't cool to dress up anymore. But you finally come full circle and start putting on the crap again.
21: Bum with dirty hat
22: Indiana Jones)

So it's October 30th and I was wondering, what would the Big 12 look like if it dressed up for Halloween?

Sexy Nurse - Baylor. Robert Griffin is darn fun to watch but by the end of the night, everyone has had their way with them.

Clown - Iowa State. The Cyclones are just bad and everyone laughs at them. Everything they do is funny - when they just to throw it, run it, kick it, play defense.

Pirate - Texas Tech. Really it doesn't have so much to do with the team as it does with its coach. Mike Leach is obsessed with pirates and I'm sure come Halloween, he'll be decked out in all of his awesome pirate gear, sitting at home alone. It wouldn't surprise me if he showed up to Saturday's showdown against Texas with an eye-patch and a parrot on his shoulder. That's the kind of dude Mike Leach is.

Fat Guy - Kansas. Obviously.

Popeye - Texas. Right now, they're pumping along, kicking major butt. But you take away their can of spinach - Colt McCoy - and they're nobody. No team relies on one player as much as Texas relies on Colt.

GI Joe - Oklahoma. On a mission every year and unwavering in that quest. But unless something drops their way the Sooners won't have a shot at it. For the Sooners, winning is only half the battle. They need someone to lose for them to actually win - if that makes sense.

Bum - Texas A&M. They aren't like Iowa State. It isn't funny how bad they are - it's sad. The Aggies are coached by a staff full of guys that cumulative age probably adds up to 1,000. They are past their prime and on the way down.

Indiana Jones - Oklahoma State. This season for the Pokes is a total adventure. They're in uncharted waters, in an unknown land. Just like Indy, they are way in over their heads and have no idea what to do next. And more so like Henry Walton Jones Jr. they'll figure a way to get out of this - and by get out of it, I mean get out of any contention for a Big 12 title or a BCS Bowl.

Football Player - Colorado. This is Division I football! Go play intramurals brutha! They desperately want to be one of the big boys but they just don't have what it takes.

Boxer - Nebraska. Just like a beleaguered boxer, the Huskers keep trying and keep punching, but there's just not much in the tank. Could double as the cliche "70's Guy" (remember, we used to be good?) but we chose boxer because of the Huskers head coach. Coach Bo wears a sweatshirt to every game - it could be 200 degrees outside and the fabric has melted to his skin. He's wearing the sweatshirt. And moreover, he wears a "regular" sweatshirt, which is one with no hood. Seriously, who does that anymore? Tomorrow, try and count how many regular, non-hooded sweatshirts you see. I bet you come up with under five. And on top of the sweatshirt Bo wears a hat tilted as far back as it possibly can go, to the point where the back is almost touching his spinal cord. Then he puts 45 sticks of gum in his mouth and smacks it like he's knawing through bone. I like Bo. I'm feeling a Rocky-type comeback in the Red soon. But not now. They're just the washed up puncher hoping to land a lucky one.

Themself - Missouri. What you see is what you get. They aren't shocking anyone. They win the games they are supposed to, but don't do anything special outside of beating Iowa State and Colorado. They run a bread and butter offense that has yards built into it, but still really don't play defense.

Really Off-Color Offensive Costume - Kansas State. You know every Halloween party has that one costume that kind of stepped over the line. The one everyone is trying to justify because it's Halloween but you just aren't comfortable with. The dead baby. The KKK costume. The terrorist. Just not cool to wear. That's the Wildcats. They just don't belong. They showed up, they tried to be good, but they just failed miserably.

So there it is. Or if you wanted to be more specific, put on a diaper and say you're Colt McCoy; put on backwards hat over your eyebrows so that your forehead feels like you were just on Dr. 90210 and tilt said hat just slightly over your left ear for fashion and you're Chase Daniel. Or just paint yourself gold, put on a leather helmet and flash the Heisman pose all night to go as Sam Bradford.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Poo or puke? A tough decision indeed

What's better - a kick in the balls or punch in the gut? Watching two hours of Trading Spaces or WWE Raw? Charlie Sheen or Keanu Reeves? Diarrhea or throwing up? Gus Frerotte or Kerry Collins? John Blake or Howard Schnellenberger? Family Guy or Drawn Together? (That's right, I don't enjoy Family Guy.)

Tough decisions all, but not a one lends a good, clear-cut winning choice.

Sooner fans face a similar choice this weekend: Oklahoma State or Texas? Last year I said the O State/Texas game was like a pillow fight at a sorority house - no matter who loses, we're all winners. OU was in charge of the Big 12 South and anytime your two top rivals play, one has to lose. It's win-win. But not this year. Oh no. It's bad either way for Sooner fans. How could one know who to pick to cast a little Sooner Magic on?

Let me instruct you.

First, you have to look at what benefits OU the most. A Texas win really doesn't do a lot for OU at this point. And OSU win really doesn't either. In fact, the opposite if OSU wins. Sooner fans just get another week of grief as the Pokes start to pound their chest like they're the ones with seven natty titles. Not taking anything away from OSU at all, because they're doing awesome this year, but we all know those wearing bright orange can sometimes be a little... well, overzealous about their team.

But here's the real situation: OU can get to Kansas City one of two ways. Texas can lose twice and OU wins out. That's happened before (see: 2006). Some people see Texas as unbeatable but they have a difficult slate ahead with OSU, at Texas Tech at Kansas and Texas A&M, as bad as they've been, has beaten UT two straight years. Which could be a good thing or a very bad thing. Option No. 2: OSU or Texas Tech beats UT and then whichever team that won (TT or OSU) wins out. Then OU beats the team that beat Texas. That would put three teams at 7-1 in the South and the tie breaker in a three way lock is the highest team in the BCS. Which would likely be OU.

But, something people aren't understanding is that OU does NOT need to win the Big 12 title to play for the national title. The BCS rules are simple: If you are No. 1 or No. 2 at the end of the year, you go to Miami and play for the Sears/Circuit City/Bed Bath and Beyond/Whoever has the rights now Trophy. Currently, OU has two teams in front of it - Penn State and Alabama. The Nittany Lions travel to Columbus this weekend and play No. 10 Ohio State. The Crimson Tide hasn't exactly looked impressive this season, save one half against Georgia. And don't forget, this is college football. Did you watch last year? Anything can happen on any Saturday. A big fatty could get pushed over in Austin this Saturday and roll up on Colt McCoy's knee - season altered. It doesn't take much. Ask Sam Bradford and the Sooners about Lubbock last year. Well, Slick Sammy may not actually remember what happened in Lubbock, but you get the point.

Southern Cal trails the Sooners in the standings by nearly a full point. They play a duff schedule the rest of the way while OU has two teams in the top 10 left. The only way USC makes up ground on OU in the BCS is if voters start favoring them because of the SC lovefest and also because they don't want an OU/UT rematch. A one loss SEC team might be able to to catch OU. If Florida were to win out and win the SEC championship game, they might get a bump because of winning their title game whereas OU didn't even play in it. Which is a bit ridiculous because USC could potentially jump OU and they won't play in a conference title game either.

(deep breath)

Ok. So. That brings us back to the original query. Who should Sooner fans root for Saturday? Oklahoma State or Texas? The bitter rival with years of tradition, but much hatred? Or the rival that has burst onto the scene like Joe the Plumber and will give OU fans an earful if they win?

A Texas loss to OSU means OU fans would have to root for the Pokes to win out until Bedlam. Which might mean OSU being ranked No. 1 in the BCS until Bedlam - which might mean with a Bedlam victory, O.....ahem...S.....U, could play for the Big 12 title and ... excuse me (headbutts keyboard) hgfhdfahfhfasfdwr........ maybe the national title.

A Texas victory means OU fans either root for Tech to beat them or that the Schooners get another shot at the Horns in Miami. Which is awesome and terrifying all at the same time.

Or we can all do what is smartest and makes the most sense: root for neither and just the let the wonderful thing that is college football, sort itself out. It always does. A lot can and will happen before December.

And I choose a punch in the gut, WWE Raw, Charlie Sheen, Dee-a-ree, Kerry Collins, Pass, Reading a book.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This year was supposed to be different

Hey, did you guys know Frank TV is back for another season? Yeah! Me neither. Oh, what? You saw the 52 spots per game on TBS during the NLDS?

But the thing is, that wasn't even the close to the hardest thing to watch last night. The Cubs have let everyone down. Again. It hurts. It sucks. It's the worst thing to happen in years. 2003 wasn't even this bad. Wrigley booed for over an hour straight. I just can't go into a 2,000 word column about what needs to change and what needs to happen. There's no need.

So just enjoy some comments from my fellow Cubbie friends as we watched last night's game.

The Psychology of a Cub fan.

8:34, top of the first: "Crowd is much better tonight! Strike 3!!! I've got goosebumps already. Let's get it going Cub bats!!!" Score: 0-0

8:41, bottom two: "WILD PITCH! Man this game just FEELS different. Not saying it means anything, but I'm in a good mood now."

8:51, bottom two: "Crap! Would've liked to have gotten on the board there but that's alright because Z is on fire tonight."

9:01, top two, Dodgers have runners on: "STRIKE THREE! Now let's just get a double play."
9:01:10, top two, runners on: "Can we trade Derrek Lee to the Dodgers real quick then?"
9:03, top two, error by Mark DeRosa: "Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Stay calm. Stay calm. Stay calm." 1-0
9:04, top two, error by Derrek Lee: "What. The. Hell."
9:07, top two, three-run double by Russell Martin: "I feel sick. Literally sick," and "Game. Set. Season," and "agahsdhjsdjhdjadjhsdjhadhajdg. ahgsdkjajkdjkad." and "Don't believe. Ever again." and finally "I need a beer." 5-0
9:14, bottom two. Cub fans, as lovable as we are start to pick up that stupid bag of dissapointment called hope again: "They can still chip away if they just get their heads up and their swings right to get some runs. But I just have a hard time believing that we can keep the Dodgers from scoring again with Z going out early for sure and the defense being so effing bad so far" and "Ron Santo can't take this. The sadness in his voice is heartbreaking."
Three Cubs up. Three Cubs sit down. Still 5-0.
9:16, top three: "I hate these guys. Hate 'em."
9:22, middle three: "And they're playing crappy OAR at the stadium. Even the P.A. guy wants them to lose."
9:26, middle three: "This can't be healthy. Like something internally has to be jacked up. I was at the highest of highs after Soriano's single and Zambrano's 1,2,3 first. I was beating my chest. Stomping around. Gritting my teeth. Now I feel sick to my stomach and I feel like I can't keep my eyes open. I think my insides caught fire and burnt up."
9:33, bottom three: "YES! A WALK! Nice work Z, ok Soriano do anything."
9:34, bottom three, two balls no strikes on Soriano: It's sad how bad I am. Whenever a count goes 2-0, I feel like, "Ok, here we go. This is it."Z walks and I'm thinking, "Ok baby. Here we go. Offensive explosion." I just set myself up for catastrophic disappointment one after the other.
9:36, bottom three, Soriano pops out: "Cool, no runs. Seems about right."
Still, 5-0.
9:38: "How did TBS get Donald Trump and George W. Bush to do TV spots for them? That's pretty amazing. And they must have paid a hefty price to have them do four spots every half inning." Seriously TBS. Just advertise anything, something, other than Frank TV every 10 seconds.
9:42-9:49: Zambrano wiggles around ANOTHER error and keeps the Cubs on life support.
9:50-9:56, bottom four: Cubs get a couple runners on, of course get nothing.
9:59, top five, home run Manny Ramirez: "I'm just going to watch college football the rest of the night." 6-0
10:14, bottom five, Fukodome spins out: "Fukodome might as well lay there."
10:31, top six, Zambrano exits to a standing ovation: "Put Howry in or just underhand it?"
10:37, end six, Cubs three up, three down: "All losers. Every single one of 'em. I still love them though. I just want almost all of them to die right now."
10:45, top seven, Dodgers tack on another: "I'm glad I didn't go to the game tonight, I'd wind up on some photo montage of misery. Because I'd be a 23 year old in tears." 7-0
10:49, bottom seven, Cubs score: "Come back? No way. Know why? Cubs." 7-1
10:50, bottom seven, runners still on: "Why are they toying with me like this!? What comes next, a walk to load the bases? Then a pop fly that almost gets out, but just short?"
10:56, bottom seven, Fuk strikes out: "Why is he playing again?"
11:03, top eight: Cubs' fans are pondering if there is a chance to come back in the series. "The clubhouse manager had better be out finding a goat that these 25 guys can sacrifice on the mound after everyone has left the stadium. That's how they're going to win the next three."
11:04, top eight: "And Rich Harden better be effing drinking goat's blood tonight."
Dodgers tack on two more with a little help from the suckier boys in blue.
Cubs go in order, again
11:19, top nine, Dodgers get another with another error by the Cubs: "This is stupid."
11:31, bottom nine, leadoff double by D Lee: "I smell a ninth inning, nine-run rally."
11:35, after a single by A-Ram, DeRosa double in two: "God I hate this team. I know they're going to get eight runs to lose 10-9." 10-3
11:40, Soto lines out, deflating everyone. As if there was actually hope. Geez. I'll admit it. I was playing the scenario out in my head. "Ok, Soto lines one in the gap here driving in DeRo. 10-4. Then Fukodome walks. Then Daryl Ward gets on. Bases loaded. Then Fonzie cranks a granny. 10-8. Then we're at the top of the order with nobody out and just down two. We can do this! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!" Oh yeah, it's 10-3 and Soto just lined out. Why do I do this to myself?
11:41, runners on, full count: Announcer Dick Stockton: "Entire crowd on their feet here." That's because they're going home Dick.
11:48, strike three, Cubs lose. 10-3. Everyone digging for hope is saying things like, "Well the pressure is really on the Dodgers now you know..." or "Those runs in the ninth are sure to carry over some momentum..."
Yeah. Right.
But that's the Cub life. They give you a glimmer of hope, something to lift your spirits by stringing together a few hits there in the ninth. You're feeling better than you thought you would at the start of game three. You think there's some momentum to carry over.
And then they get swept.
And you swear them off forever.
And then you wait for next year.
And when it comes, you get that little feeling again.
And by opening day, you're sitting on your couch with Cubbie blue all over your body feeling like this could be it. "This year just feels different. This team is different."
That's the psychology of a Cub fan. That's the Cub life.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Juicy OU offense has spoiled fans

by Steven Jones
The Oklahoma Daily
Special to the 405

I made one of the biggest mistakes in my life in May of 2006. Prior to my high school graduation, I let my girlfriend’s parents take me out to dinner at a nice steak place in Dallas.

A really nice steak place. It was hands down the best steak I’ve had in my life.

I can no longer go to an average or even above-average steakhouse anymore and be satisfied. Outback and Saltgrass are a joke to me now. They just can’t compare.

It’s the same way with OU’s offense.

Prior to the game against TCU, the Sooners delivered a near-perfect steak. It was well-seasoned, juicy and cooked to perfection. All cylinders were firing and the OU offense looked unstoppable.

Not so much on Saturday. There were no holes for the running backs. Sam Bradford was sacked three times and hit more than that, while only completing 56 percent of his passes.

But the fact is, despite some miscues, OU’s offense took on the highest-rated defense in the country, racked up 436 total yards, scored 35 points and didn’t turn the ball over once.

That’s still a pretty tasty steak.

OU fans were spoiled by the incredible performance the offense displayed early on. By the fourth quarter, the fans had become so frustrated with OU’s lack of a running game that they booed while Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray were again taken down in the backfield.

Was OU’s rushing performance on Saturday somewhat concerning? Of course. But Murray and Brown didn’t forget how to run the ball. That gigantic offensive line didn’t forget how to block. And the Sooners will get their running game back on track.

OU is the No. 1 football team in the country for a reason. The young defense has stepped up. Linebacker Travis Lewis continued his solid play while the untested cornerbacks are making a living breaking up passes and forcing turnovers.

Linebacker Ryan Reynolds has stayed healthy and looks better than ever. The defensive line, despite some injury issues, lead a defense that ranks No. 4 in the nation in sacks and No. 1 in tackles for a loss. But most importantly, OU is the best team in the country because it has too many weapons for anyone to stop. Even the best defense in the NCAA had to pick their poison.

In a game where Jermaine Gresham, Brown and Murray were basically silenced, Manuel Johnson stepped up and the Sooners sliced through TCU’s secondary. The Sooners probably won’t face a better defense than they did on Saturday. A 25-point win over the No. 24 team in the country is nothing to be disappointed about. It’s a pretty decent steak, so accept it. Because no one likes a steak elitist.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stop the 'Madness'

Just in case you've been dead the last two weeks and missed every issue of The Oklahoman there's this new Thunder fan website called Thunder Madness ( It's been advertised about as much as Righteous Kill and is equally as crappy.

Now I don't know this for a fact, but by all appearances, Thunder Madness looks to be the brainchild of those at The Oklahoman. It's had awkward advertisements in the paper where NO advertisement has ever been (like within a story). There's all the Wimgo ads on the website. Staff writers for The Oklahoman are some of the main posters on the message boards. They have the Thunder videos up within seconds of them actually going on NewsOk. But then there's the big-time kicker - the thing that shores it all up.

Down at the bottom the site is registered to OPUBCO Communications Group - the folks that publish The Oklahoman. And if you click report issue (like that this site is a total piece of crap and an embarrassment to the state) the email address it directs you to is

Wrong. Totally wrong.

Now granted, I've never been part of a big league city so this may be common place, but regardless, it needs to stop. Newspapers should not ever be involved in a fansite. Ever.

The correct process for this fansite thing, is that fans are the ones that buy the webspace, pay the dues, buy the jerseys, buy the tickets and run the website. Hence it being call "fan" site. Not some guy that's getting a paycheck from the Oklahoman. I'm no expert but in my four years at one of the best journalism colleges in the country, I learned that journalists - sports or not - are supposed to try to their darndest to be unbiased and fair. It was tough for me at OU to cover the football team because I literally breathe everything Sooner football. My eyes water and I swallow hard ever time I watch this video. So being fair for me was like a dad coaching his son. You want him to do so well and play all the time but you try as best you can to be fair.

So for the Oklahoman to pull this crap - that's disturbing. How can we expect them to do what journalists are called to do - report - if they are publicly as big of fans as we are? How will Mike Baldwin react if Kevin Durant gets busted with drugs? Will he act like some PR dude for the Thunder and spin is positively? I can't say he wouldn't because all signs point to him being too much of a fan to be objective. What if the Thunder goes 18-64 this season and 16-66 the next? Will The Oklahoman have the basketballs to call for P.J. Carlesimo's neck? Will delete any posts by fans calling for The Beard to be fired? There's supposed to be separation between the writers and the fans - that's why they work for The Oklahoman and we don't.

The Oklahoman has seen a state go crazy and is looking to swoop in and make a dollar. The see the opportunity to cater to fans by building a fansite, not by doing their job. If you want fan involvement, let the fans handle it. There's already a number of blogs running and a great Thunder forum - If you want to post and talk about the team (which I hope everyone does) then go there. Not some place run by the major newspaper in Oklahoma.

Boycott Let Mike Sherman (the Oklahoman's sports editor, not Texas A&M's terrible coach) know what a joke this is. It's wrong and it needs to be stopped.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Big league scalping for a big league city

Ticket scalpers suck. Like big time. Like Tavaris Jackson at football. Like Michael Moore at life. Like me at making crappy analogies.

And now, they've hit OKC.

It's not like this is something new. Oklahomans have dealt with ticket scalping with OU and OSU - well, OU football. But now it's big league scalping for a big league city. Two seats in the upper deck, row G at $2,499.00?!? That's $1,679.00 over face value. That's beyond disgusting. A regular $10 upper "Loud City" deck seat is turned into a $30 ticket.

Scalpers are the lowest of the low. The scum of the sports world - well, maybe even the scum of the world. These greedy little money lovers come in, scoop up the ticket with no intention of using it and then rape us true fans by hiking the price.

I've had this debate with numerous friends. And I've actually convinced a few how wrong it is. At OU, we have this game we play in Dallas every year against a team from Texas. Students run and buy up tickets but in my estimation, only about 40 percent actually go to the game. The remaining 60 percent snatch up a ticket, charge it to their parents bursar account, toss the ticket up on Ebay and reap some major reward to go buy more beer and doritos. While some super Sooner that can just afford the $95 face value price misses out because he had to work all day and couldn't get to the box office. Now the ticket is 500 yammers and the true Sooner is hung out to dry.

Let me put it this way. Metallica released a new CD last week. You're a HUGE Metallica fan. You've been looking forward to Death Magnetic for months. (Go get it, it's good.) When the disc dropped last week, you had to work. But after you got off you were running straight to Best Buy to pick up your brand new copy. You've been thinking about it all day. The clock strikes five and you hit up BB. You run in and don't see it anywhere. You turn around and there's a guy behind you with 50 copies in his cart. You're a little stunned. The guy is wearing a Fall Out Boy shirt and eyeliner. He clearly wants nothing to do with Metallica.

He says to you, "Hey you want one of my copies?"

You say, "Yeah! Thanks!"

He grabs one, holds it out and says, "I like you. Just make it an even 75."

"What? But it's only $9.99. You don't even want the thing!"

"I don't care. I got here first. Now make it 80."

Now save your spit because I realize there are more places to buy the CD and whatnot, but you see my point. But see how ridiculous that sounds? Best Buy and the record company determine the price of the CD, not some dude that just got there before you did. We yell and complain about gas gouging, but we let ticket scalping go. Some morons just claim, "Hey, that's capitalism." Well no, capitalism is having a market that determines the set price of the ticket in the first place. The market determines the price not some jerk trying to make a buck. Wal-Mart and Target compete for consumers so they set prices based on each other. The Thunder set its prices based on the rest of the league. Scalpers aren't competing with anyone. They just want to stuff their pockets.

So my plead is, don't buy scalped tickets. JUST DON'T DO IT. And for the love of Mohamed Sene, don't scalp a ticket. If you buy one and can't go/realize this team is going to totally blow, sell it - for what you bought it for.

Or I will find you. And when I do... I'll probably tell you, you suck.

Toby Rowland-gate

For those that aren't aware, evidently the lamest sports talk radio station in Oklahoma, KREF, has prevented KWTV-9 reporter/anchor Toby Rowland out if his contract to become the Thunder's new sideline reporter.

Rowland told The Oklahoman he was "crushed" and his lawyer said he may consider filing a lawsuit against "The Ref" to let him out of his contract. Talk about an awkward Monday morning meeting at The Ref.

The thing is, The Ref can't afford to let Rowland go. It's not like he's some amazing talent that is drawing in thousands of listeners, but when you're other two "star" anchors are Myron Patton and Rusty Olsen, Rowland might as well be Colin Cowherd. Nothing against Rusty as I have covered numerous events with him and he's a genuinely nice person - just a little weird. And as for Patton, I've never really had much contact with him but the one image that sticks out to me was at one Bob Stoops presser, Patton was sitting on the floor Indian-style. For some reason I found that really strange.

But to hold a guy back like that is weak sauce. Really weak. The reason Rowland got into this business was to go up the ladder: To land an all-time awesome gig and what would be better than being the sideline reporter for a professional franchise in your hometown. I'm sure when he was a junior reporter he wasn't thinking, "Boy, I want to do a morning radio show for the third best sports talk radio station in Oklahoma City on some AM dial that no one even knows exists!"

But what are you going to do. Rowland may get another shot later down the line, but hopefully the Thunder settles on a decent sideline reporter.
Seeing as that job is oh-so-important.

THUNDER ANNOUNCER BRIAN DAVIS: Let's go down to Toby with a sideline update.
TOBY: Yeah, Kevin Durant looks really tired right now. I'm standing right here next to him and he's like sweating and drinking Gatorade and stuff. Oh, everyone can just see that on TV? Oh. Uh... well, lots of action here! - back to you guys.

I have a major gripe about sideline reporters, but I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The first great Thunder tradition

So OKC's first and only pro sports franchise is just a few months old but that's not too soon to start the first and possibly best tradition for Thunder basketball.

Basically every sports franchise has something unique to it that its fans know about and appreciate. But the really great ones - the ones that everyone aspires to be - have traditions that most everyone know about.

Seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field. Sweet Caroline in Boston. The Lakers' girls. The Yankee roll call and New York, New York after ball games. The list goes on and on. But my favorite professional sports tradition is one that comes from my favorite professional sports franchise - 41,000 Cubs fans singing in unison Steve Goodman's Go Cubs Go! after Chicago home wins. The feeling of unity and camaraderie that you feel is indescribable.

So this tradition will not include anything about Thunder. I have a feeling that OKC fans will be all Thundered out after a little bit when we're hit with "Thunderstruck," "Thunder Rolls," "Thunder Road," the "Thundercats" theme and anything else that may contain "Thunder" or anything that remotely sounds like it. We may hear "The Wonder Years" theme remixed to "The Thunder Years." Frankly, I'm going to get tired of it.

I propose after Oklahoma City home victories instead of playing Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" or something cliche', play Three Dog Night's "Never Been to Spain." Now granted, we'll probably only hear the song a handful of times this season, which is a shame.

Reasons the song is perfect?

1. It has nothing to do with Thunder. Like I said, we get it - the team's name is Thunder. Since the announcement, Thunder has received about the same response as Crystal Pepsi. Some say "cool!" some say "sucks" and most say "meh." So embrace what we all can agree on - that Oklahoma is the best dang state in the land.

2. It's just classic enough to be a 'classic' but obscure enough not to be cliche'.
Like I said, it isn't "Celebration" or "Let the Good Times Roll" or some other jock-rock stadium anthem that's been played to death. It's fresh and yet well-known at the same time.

3. The line.
Just like 41,000 at Wrigley singing "Go Cubs go, go Cubs go... hey Chicago whadaya say, the Cubs are gonna win today!" sends chills down my spine, 18,000 at the Ford Center singing "Well I've never been to heaven... BUT I'VE BEEN TO OKLAHOMA!!! They tell me I was born there, but I really don't remember." Incredible.

The Thunder needs something like this. Thunderstruck can introduce the team, but Never Been to Spain must take us home.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The name doesn't totally Thundersuck

It sucks, but not that bad.

Regardless of the name I have a favorite team. When a team is yours, they your favorite no matter what the name. It's unfortunate that ownership went with such a cheap, corny name, but hey, at least a ball will bounce in the Ford Center this fall. They could have called them the Oklahoma City Cuddlestorm or even worse, the Oklahoma City Energy and I'd still be calling the box office getting my Loud City seats.

Let's face it though - it's a WNBA name. It's true. The Sky, the Storm, the Fire. "The OKC Thunder vs. the Atlanta Dream... TONIGHT!" But that doesn't mean I won't support them. Heck, Tampa Bay still supports their team and they're the Rays. Well, all five to six hundred do.

The point is, the name is new. It stinks because it's new. I remember a few years ago when Charlotte called itself the Bobcats, everyone hated it. That's the way it goes. The colors, the logo, the name all sucks because it's new and different. In ten years it will be as household as the Orlando Magic and we'll forget all about it. Toronto Raptors. Toronto... RAPTORS. Worst. Name. Ever. But you know what, it works now. Because it's just become a household name.

The logo has some issues though. First off, why is Thunder above OKC? Are we the Thunder Oklahoma City? It isn't grammatically correct. Secondly, I wish there was something "Oklahoman" in the logo. Instead of the shield, why not put the outline of our great state?

But one thing I'd recommend for all fans is to put the Thunder logo next to other NBA logos. It might make you feel better. For instance:

What is it? Anything? A basketball that is moving with a name through it?

Or this:

Strikingly similar to the one above. Same font, same idea... but yet, somehow this is considered classic. Know why? Because it's stood the test of time. And Laker doesn't even have anything to do with Los Angeles. It was just brought over from Minneapolis in the Lakers' move. You know why they work? Because the Lakers' logo is from 1960 and the Clippers from 1978. We're used to them.

Management chose to go with a neutral logo that could *fingers crossed* become a classic one day. They didn't bust out some corny logo a la the Washington Wizards or Golden State Warriors. Those two stink. Besides, what do you do with something that isn't tangible like Thunder? Wrap 'Thunder' around a drawing of God bowling? I do hope the mascot is buffalo related though because that will at least tie it back to Oklahoma. I don't know if Clay Bennett knows this but tornadoes does not equal thunder. Thunder happens everywhere, not just the Oklahoma.

The point is, get over the name and appreciate the team for what it is. If you live in the Sooner State, it's your top squad. I'd have called them something different but oh well. I'd have chosen black and yellow for Thunder because when I hear Thunder (the name, not the actual thing) I think nighttime (dark/black) and lightning (yellow). But that's me. Check out other names and logos and really think about them. The Nets' logo is bland. The Heat logo isn't real creative. The Bobcats' logo just plain stinks. Besides, with most expansion/new teams, the logo changes in a few years anyway.

The key to making it work is:

1. Good uniforms. They need a solid, simple design that can be considered classic from the get-go. You know you've got a good uni when 20 years from now it's throwback night and you're still wearing the same duds you had on 20 years ago. One major thing: they need to read Oklahoma City on the front and not Thunder. Most NBA teams have their city/state name across the front, not their nickname. And with a nickname as lame-o as Thunder, cut your losses and just put OKC.

2. An interesting mascot. Something we don't expect. I'm down with the thundering buffalo approach but not too much of it, or you'll make me thing we should be called the Thundering Buffalo. No lightning bolts, please. Thunder isn't lightning. I know some people confuse the two, but they aren't the same. Thunder isn't really a tangible thing so it makes it hard, but don't just cop out and put a really scary looking wall cloud or anything. Gary England would freak.

3. Win. Who cares what you look like when you're beating the basketballs off people. As long as you win your mascot could be Rosie O'Donnell in a two-piece and it wouldn't matter.

We weren't going to blow anyone away with our logo. We'd tried to stay classy and not cartoony. Some across the country say we failed, but oh well. Most people don't like us anyway because they don't like how we got them. Who cares. They're ours and they're here to stay.

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