Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More YouTube fun

I got sorta lost on YouTube writing that last post, so allow me to post two more.

One of my favorite athlete commercials of all time. The dudes at :16-:18 kill me every time:

And, as a result of Simmons ridiculously good pod cast with Gus Johnson, check this out (CBS does not allow embedding clips. Feh.)

Ok, just one more, because I've been listening to this song over and over, and I just last night learned the lyrics:

It Don't Mean a Thing

So Thanksgiving means several things up here in the 'burg. Two dinners (minimum). Two sets of leftovers. Way too much dessert. Food coma. It also means the Great Alaska Shootout, which this year had some pretty good basketball. And Michigan was here too (sorry, Joey.)

Unfortunately the powers that be with the tournament organizing folks (it's a GAS, get it?) have somehow decided that for an event of this magnitude (ESPN sent Len Elmore. It just doesn't get any bigger than that...) there needs to be courtside entertainment. Of course Alaska being Alaska, the pickings are slim. Unless they decided to recruit local, uhm, talent (NSFW), that is.

But anyway, the Shootout being a family event, they have chosen not to go that route. Instead, (and instead of paying for the schools to bring their own squads up) each team is 'assigned' an area High School, whose cheerleaders get to sit courtside and perform. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of cheerleaders to begin with,* but high school girls in this spot is downright creepy. Or maybe we just don't have high enough quality of high school girls up here. They stay the same age, yes they do...

But, worse than this is the High School Jazz band. I mean, they probably don't totally suck, but combine the truly wretched acoustics of Sullivan Arena (John Denver even sounded like crap there back in the day) with a hint of nervousness, and song choices that were a bit...ambitious, and we have problems. Look, I don't want to kill the kids, but when your rhythm section struggles to toe tap in unison, maybe playing songs like "Sing Sing Sing" aren't the best idea. Yet every single band played this number at least twice every game. Which led me to spend some time on YouTube to try to find the good shit as sort of an antacid. So, Mr. and Mrs. High School Jazz Band Conductor Person, if your drummer(s) can't do this:

Please, please, please do not attempt this:

Bonus randomly found YouTube while searching for the above - this looks like a lot of fun:

As for the basketball itself, I only got to see Gonzaga, Butler, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech multiple times.

Gonzaga will be a load when Heytfelt comes back - they have three pretty solid perimeter guys, and a couple of decent bangers, but no one with any real skill on the interior. Remember this name: Austin Daye, 6'11 and smooooth. But he weighs about 175 now, which makes playing inside kinda difficult.

Virginia Tech will play great D all year in the ACC and win very few games because they have no one who can score. They have a few guys who can shoot, by which I mean are athletic enough to get shots off. Making, however... Deron Washington did have the dunk of the tourney when he went coast-to-coast against the Zags and hammered one down on several of Gonzaga's requisite bushy-haired white dudes.

Texas Tech was fun, mostly because Bobby Knight shockingly decided that the local officiating was not up to his standards. He goes from zero to red-faced and screaming in approximately one missed block/charge call going against his team. They also play really good D, without having nearly the athleticism of VTU. Another team that's going to struggle to find buckets on a nightly basis. Reason #154,901 that I sometimes dislike Alaska: the crowd for the final was decidedly pro-TTU. How the hell do you root for BK?

But the most fun team was by far the champs, your Butler Bulldogs. They were simply a joy to watch on offense, with all five players working in unison to get their twin point guards, AJ Graves and Mike Green either open looks at threes or creases to penetrate and kick to shooters such as the Chitwood-like (right down to the haircut and vacant look in his eyes) Pete Campbell. They always, always made the extra pass. And if nothing happened, Green would go to the bucket and score on players 8 inches taller seemingly at will. Pretty much every major team from the Big Ten to the Big East with point guard problems is probably kicking themselves for not recruiting him. Sure, at 6'1, he's probably not an NBA prospect, but unless your name is John Calipari or Tim Floyd (in Soviet USC, O.J. Mayo recruit YOU!) you want to win games, not rent the next fillintheblank for one year.

* to clarify, I am a BIG fan of cheerleaders themselves. Otherwise there would be no good reason to read TMQ at all. I am not, however, a fan of the institution of cheerleading. If the BEST possible result of a 'performance' is either being clocked by a mascot or starting The Goddamn Wave, there really is no upside.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sometimes Alaska is Alright

Looking out my office window just now:

From about 10 yards .


HBO has been airing teasers for the final season of "The Wire". Needless to say, I'm incredibly fired up for this. I stand by my statement that as a whole, "The Wire" is the best show in the history of American TV and possibly the greatest achievement in the history of audio-visual media. And this includes the whole Pink Floyd-Wizard of Oz nonsense.

There's still ample time to catch up on seasons 1-4 before the new episodes air in 2008. You'll thank me later.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Quiz time - who is this:
a man who ranks 21st all time in points, sixth in assists, third in steals and eighth in games played should have been.
Gary Dwayne Payton. (Check out his legitimately insane line from 1999-2000 when at age 31 he averaged 24 points, 9 assists, 6.5 boards and 2 steals per). Well according to the above linked article, the Glove is done. I fully agree with the notion that Payton is massively underrated, in large part because a great deal of his national exposure came in his last few years when he went ring hunting in Los Angeles and Miami, by which time his calling cards of lock-down D (hence the nickname, one of the better sobriquets in recent NBA memory alongside The Answer and The Matrix. And Hot Plate John Williams).

I probably saw more of Payton growing up then any other star, given that the local cable company carried the Seattle Fox Sports Net channel, which meant I got to see the most electrifying two man act of the early-to-mid 90s on a nightly basis:

(Incidentally holy crap, Seattle Shawn Kemp...)

And while so much attention was (legitimately) focused on Kemp, Payton was the one who made that team go. In much the same way that Amare Stoudamire is a guy who if you get him the ball in a spot to score, he will do so, Kemp wasn't really a guy you could just throw the ball and say "get me a bucket". Payton was that guy, even with his lack of real hops and herky-jerky setshot.

He was also, legendarily, one of the best trash-talkers of all time. I've always had a soft spot for the guy who tells you how he's going to beat you, does it, and then recounts it back to you again on the way back down the court.

So, happy trails GP.


On a personal note, I'm beginning to feel really, really old now that all the players I grew up on are retiring...

Thursday, November 15, 2007


My official response to BB getting indicted? Who gives a fuck? Right, sportswriters do, because until this news came out even they seemed to realize that going on and on about Phil Jackson making an unfunny (and played out) joke was getting a bit silly.

As I write this I hear Tony Kornheiser saying "now his records may be tainted." Huh? Why? He did something that A) everyone else was doing, B) was not against the rules (or close enough to not against that rules that everyone else was doing it, see point A,) and C) We've all known this for years anyway.

Fine, it's a Very Bad Thing to lie to a grand jury. But why is this literally a federal case? (Answer: because Bonds is an asshole, so people feel good about going after. Simple answers to stupid questions, for $100, blogger? Query, what if he were a white dude genial journeyman like Paul "I can haz perscription" Byrd?)

And in any event, on the question of "did he or didn't he?" I don't care. Sure it's fun to occasional use to 'roid-monkey card on MFYs such as Gary Sheffield or Tanyon Sturtze, but this is just another shining example of arbitrary line-drawing and faux-moralizing endemic to the so-called War on Drugs.

Now shut up, drink your beer, pop your nexium and watch the game...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


An interesting (devastating?) side effect of my re-entry into the world of fantasy basketball has been my new found obsession with the most anonymous of pro sports franchises, the Hotlanta Awks. In NBA terms, Atlanta is probably better remembered for the Gold Club and the resulting overabundance of knowledge about the habits of Patrick Ewing then as the place Joe Johnson's career went to die (or, if you prefer, to be killed by the Billy Knight, a disfunctional ownership situation and a disinterested fanbase.)

But the Hawks have long been favorites in the less traditional corners of NBA fandom. This is due in large part to the team's apparent experiment with a lineup of five 6'8" swingmen, which one might call Total Basketball. This experiment has, to this point, been a resounding failure in terms of wins and losses, but has unleashed a vast amount of the most revered of NBA qualities: Potential.

Be it Josh Childress's poor-to-destitute-man's Shawn Marion act or Marvin Williams trying to channel his immense gifts and talents into productive directions or even the Acie Law/Tyron Lue/Anthony Johnson/Speedy Claxton bad point guard limbo, (how low can you go and still win? The Hawks have been overshooting the mark for quite a few years on this one. Could be different this year) this team is intriguing from a narrative standpoint.

But no player embodies this more (yet still isn't getting in Shoals' Five) then one Josh "J-Smoove" Smith. Watching every minute of every Hawks game this season has brought me to one realization - Smith is the most talented player in the NBA, yet has no idea "how to play" basketball. There is seemingly no single act he cannot perform, no shot he cannot block (at 6'8 no less):

but he has no 'feel,' for lack of a better word, for when to unleash each particular talent. And worse, he knows this, and is frustrated by it.

Of course this frustration is interpreted as immaturity, surliness, or any other negatively stereotypical adjective used to describe young players by old, jaded haters sportswriters (e.g.) But for me, it's just fascinating to watch him battle with himself, sometimes succeeding but often not. The observation of narratives-in-development such as this are what make the first 3/4 of a given sports season interesting. I mean, who cares whether the Spurs, Mavs or Suns win the most games in the regular season, it will all be decided by David Stern in May or June, as always. But for now, seeing if Smith can keep it together and avoid "Torpedoing* another Hawks season, or if a guy named Moon is for real, are what will keep me going until the stretch run.

* As for that proposed nickname: