Thursday, November 29, 2012

Get Your Hockey Fix and Watch These Russian Kids Fight

A lot.

This is one of those videos you see that needs no introduction or commentary, so just enjoy it.

Saints Players Claim They Were Egged by Atlanta Airport Workers

As the Saints touched down in Atlanta to take on the Falcons for Thursday Night Football, apparently they didn't receive the warmest of welcomes.

According to several players and their Twitter feeds, the Saints bus was pelted by eggs thrown by airport workers.  I personally thought that was a dead art, but a classic move nonetheless.

Tight end Jimmy Graham said via Twitter, "Bus just got egged after landing in ATL by the ramp workers. Classy!"  Backup quarterback Chase Daniel said, "Wow ... we start getting eggs thrown [at] us by airport workers! Guess they do hate us!"

Kinda wish this sort of thing happened more often.  Back on New Years Day in 2008 when the Pittsburgh Penguins' bus was pulling into Ralph Wilson Stadium to play the Sabres, fans were pelting the bus with snowballs.  Not quite the same damage done as eggs, but you gotta believe an ice ball or two slipped in there.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

USGA Bans Anchoring Clubs, Belly Putters

A trend that has slowly crept into golf over the past decade will no longer be allowed for the 2016 season.  Belly putting, or anchoring your club against your body to create a smoother pendulum motion, is leaving the game.

The United States Golf Association's rules change on a four-year cycle, hence the long wait.  That will mean players like U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, British Open champ Ernie Els and PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley will have to make the transition back to a, well, "regular" putting style.

"One of the most fundamental things about the game of golf is we believe the player should hold the club away from his body and swing it freely," said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA. "We think this is integral to the traditions of the game. Golf is a game of skill and challenge, and we think that is an important part of it."

Using a belly putter during match play will result in the immediate loss of that hole, and putting in that style during stroke play will be an automatic two stroke penalty if it occurs.

I mean, I think it should be up to the golfer how they would like to put.  Phil Mickelson does that crazy "claw grip" putt and no one says boo.  When these over-sized drivers made their way into the game, no one said it was an unfair advantage.  It takes a lot of time to be able to make that transition and change your swing, especially your putting, and I think its more unfair to have those players make the switch than it is to let them keep their "advantage."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jets, Jets Fans Are All Terrible

Look, we all now the Jets are a joke, but there's a line. It takes a special kind of crazy to do this to the hometown boys.

Regardless of how bad the Bills are, and they're not a good football team by any means right now, I couldn't imagine doing this to my team.  I watched this with my roommates, and it was wicked funny at first, but after watching it a second time, its a pretty ugly scene.  There's profanity every two seconds, but even if you look past that, its an all-around disgrace.  My favorite lines are "Tebow, save us!" and "Sanchez, you piece of s***!"

Where's Fireman Ed when you need him?

The Current Scene in College Basketball

With the ACC-Big Ten challenge just hours away, let's take a step back see where college basketball stands in its fourth week.

In the Top 10, Kansas has replaced North Carolina after the Tar Heels lost a big game to Butler at the EA Sports Maui Invitational.  The teams have been jumbled up a little bit since last week, with Louisville and Duke switching places, putting the Blue Devils now in second.

Number 3 Michigan is an extremely strong team led by Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr., and will be tested Tuesday night against number 18 NC State in the first game of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.  Another win is in order for the Wolverines, who should win comfortably, though it'll take a good 25-30 minutes to shake NC State.  The second game features the nation's number 1 Indiana against the Tar Heels.  UNC is not reeling from the Butler upset, but right now they are not strong enough to take down Cody Zeller and the Hoosiers.

UConn's loss to New Mexico was expected, considering the scary talent of the Lobos, and has pushed the Huskies out of the Top 25 to make room for the now number 25 Lobos.  Baylor and Memphis have slipped out, and along with New Mexico, Georgetown and Illinois have earned their spot among the nation's elite.

There are plenty of games to look forward to this week.  On Wednesday, the Challenge continues with Ohio State-Duke, Michigan State-Miami and Georgia Tech-Illinois.  Thursday features Marquette-Florida and Notre Dame-Kentucky in the Big East-SEC Challenge, and action continues on Friday with Georgetown-Tennessee.

I'll be tweeting at much as possible about these games, so follow along with @JonToddVanDamme if you want the latest news.

Will the Red Sox Trade Jon Lester?

We're almost two months removed from the most miserable season in Red Sox history since 1997, and still, the team is finding new ways to make us cringe.

Earlier this month, general manager Ben Cherington told the media that his team would still have one of the highest payrolls in Boston.  That's all well and good, but if you just start throwing money around at below average players -- i.e. Jonny Gomes -- its just going to make the situation that much worse.

Gomes was recently signed to a two year, $10 million contract.  A decent player, better clubhouse guy, but he's no 2012 Cody Ross.  The latest scare for Red Sox Nation?  Jon Lester could be on the move.

Will Myers is one of the top 10 prospects in the league right now, currently patrolling the outfield in the Royals' minor league system.  Kansas City has reportedly expressed their interest to add a front man to their starting rotation and has stated they are willing to deal Myers.  So let's get the rumor mill turning.

Lester and the Red Sox have not been in discussions for a contract extension, but that means nothing at this point.  With a struggling ball club that saw one of the worst starting pitching performances, I don't think anyone is jumping the gun on this deal.  A Lester-Myers deal, could be pretty enticing though, but you're comparing apples to oranges with an established starting pitcher versus a 21-year-old outfielder.  Although, as far as production last season, Myers hit .314 with 37 homers, 109 RBI and a .987 OPS.

So there's that.

We'll see what becomes of these rumors, although I would put money on the Red Sox holding onto Lester for many years to come.

Easily the Best Sack Celebration

I'm not a huge fan of showboating in the NFL. There are very few cases where I will endorse a celebration, considering players are just doing their job. I don't finish a post, stand up and do the macarena in my living room.

But all that aside, Aldon Smith's "celebration" is amazing.   Check out his move above.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Boston vs. Goliath - The Current State of College Basketball in Boston

Just a heads up here, the spacing is really strange and fixing it would be next to impossible, so for that I apologize.

More so than any other sport, college basketball is a sport of perennial powerhouses.  Establishing an institution to be synonymous with a sport itself takes years, and only a select few have been able to earn the right within the basketball community including Duke, Indiana, UConn, North Carolina and Kansas.  In arguably the greatest sports city on the planet, why do Boston-area college basketball teams seem to fall by the wayside?  Is there something standing in their way or could it be something the team is lacking?
The 2012-13 season in underway, and Boston schools are experiencing mixed results.  Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern are a combined 5-8 so far, and they each have their fair share of hurdles to jump before season’s end.
The Boston College Eagles have stumbled out to a 1-3 start.  The beginning of their season is really their time to shine, because once they get into the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, the odds are stacked against them.  Teams like Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State prowl atop this premier conference, and the Eagles will need to steal games against the likes of Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech to be a player in the conference tournament.
The Terriers of Boston University are sharing the same misfortune as the Eagles, starting 0-3.  The America East conference is not on anyone’s radar, but games against Vermont, Stony Brook and out-of-conference Harvard will be necessary to give their run a boost come tournament time.
And speaking of Harvard, amidst the cheating scandal implicating co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, the back-to-back Ivy League winners appear to still have what it takes for a third consecutive title.  Their biggest tests will come against Princeton and Cornell, but their schedule is tailored for a deep Ivy League run.
Finally, the black sheep of the Boston college basketball family, the Northeastern Huskies may have the most reasons to cheer this season.  With a 2-1 start in a weak Colonial Athletic Association now that Virginia Commonwealth University split for the Atlantic-10, bringing their ‘A’ games for Hofstra and conference-favorite Drexel will be paramount if they want to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991.
These four teams have had very little success over the past decade.  Despite BU winning their conference in 2011 and Harvard making the NCAA Tournament the past two years, these teams cannot seem to make the leap to perennial players.
When you look at historically great college teams, you are looking at a few things, the most obvious of which being past success.  But what makes these teams great is their basketball tradition – the names that have gone through the program, the courts they play on and whether or not basketball has been and will continue to be the institution’s number one sport.
For example, Duke plays under one of the greatest coaches to ever hold a clipboard in Mike Krzyzewski and inside Cameron Indoor Stadium.  In Kansas’ 114 years of men’s basketball, they have had just seven head coaches.  These schools define tradition.  The Kentucky Wildcats sent six players to the NBA last season, including the top two picks in the draft.  And when you think of the UNC, you picture the Tar Heel baby blue uniforms atop a basketball court.
There is no draw for a big name high school player to come to Boston.  Many of the players currently on the four rosters are from the northeast area already, because without tradition, the draw to come in from another part of the country is minimal.  There are no big coaches, no real success with players at the professional level (save Jeremy Lin, a ’10 graduate of Harvard) and when most people think of these schools, they aren’t thinking basketball.  BC has been known as a football school and BU is a hockey juggernaut.  Playing on the basketball teams at these schools is like being an extra in the other sports’ movie.
Harvard has the greatest chance for future success in college basketball, having already declared themselves a force in the Ivy League for the past five seasons.  Their head coach, Tommy Amaker, is a former Duke Blue Devil star who has coached at his alma mater, Seton Hall and Michigan before coming to Harvard in 2007.  His name is known and respected in the basketball world, a major key to a school’s success.
One miracle will not save a team.  It takes years of success and the right pieces of the puzzle to make up a college basketball powerhouse.  The teams that first come to mind have a deep-seeded tradition of success and a rich history to carry them from season to season, even though a given player is only around for just four or five years.
Boston schools have an immense amount of work ahead if they want to sit among the sport’s elite, but essentially starting from scratch in a field of already-established titans will bound them to a life of the mid-level opponent to the other 343 Division-I schools.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Blue Deuce is Drunk

Yeah, we couldn't let this one slide by before the break.

Brad Keselowski, 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, celebrated his win with his crew, his fans and his Miller Lite.  This is his interview post-race on a live edition of Sportscenter.  Absolutely amazing.

"I don't know if these people know they're on Sportscenter, but later tonight they're gonna say, 'hey, that was me!'" he said as he attempted to rile up the fans in response to a question about the fans and his crew.

The best lines came when Keselowski went to close the interview.  Kevin Connors, the ESPN anchor congratulated him once again on his achievements and wished him a safe night of celebrations, to which the Blue Deuce responded to so elegantly.

"Thank you, guys.  Miller time! ESPN, NASCAR, thank you," he said as he cheers'd the camera and the viewers at home.

Only in NASCAR...

Thanksgiving Break

So as many of you may have noticed, the blog has been shaky lately.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused in your daily reading routines, but rest assured, we have a plan.

Thanksgiving, easily the best holiday, is coming up fast.  A lot of pieces are moving around the blog, but when we return, we'll be hitting the ground running.  Expect a lot of commercial battles, college basketball pieces, MLB hot stove updates and anything else you're looking to read, because it'll all be here.

So, enjoy the video above, and enjoy your Thanksgivings. A few posts will sneak in here and there, but after the holiday will be the fireworks. We'll see you soon, amigos.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Neymar Misses Penalty Kick, Pretty Sure I Could Have Nailed This One

Well, this is embarrassing...

Brazilian's star player Neymar was lining up for a penalty shot in a friendly against Columbia played at MetLife Stadium in New York when this happened.  The goal could have given Brazil a one goal edge with 10 minutes remaining in the match, but instead, Neymar did his best Adam Vinatieri impression, blasting the ball at least 50 rows up.

I didn't think it was even possible for the ball to rise as fast as it did, but there's the proof.  Neymar did have a defense prepared for this miserable shot, though.

"The penalty was horrible but you probably noticed the state the pitch was in, it didn't have any stability," he said. ”I tried to take it slowly but it didn't work out, these things happen."

Nate Robinson Goes Under Defender

Nasty Nate Robinson, all five-foot-nine of him, is a three-time Slam Dunk Champion and has some serious moves on the court.  His latest showcase of talent came on the road against the Phoenix Suns.

Showing good movement off the ball, Robinson shakes his defender Sebastian Telfair.  When Nasty Nate gets the ball, he pump fakes and throws Telfair for a loop, who bites and jumps in the air.  Telfair, only six feet tall himself, gets up enough for Robinson to slip right under and finish off the play for two on the lay-in.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.  Too bad as far as weekly top plays go, this doesn't hold a candle to Ibrahimovic's bicycle kick.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ibrahimovic Scores Best Goal Probably Ever

I mean, what's there to say about this goal?  It's absolutely unreal that the ball found its way to the back of the net.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have either landed flat and broke himself, or scored one of the prettiest goals that this planet will ever see.  As if this goal isn't good enough on its own, Ibrahimovic had already scored three goals prior, and was the only Swedish player to score in a 4-2 friendly win over England.


Blockbuster Trade Developing Between Jays and Marlins Involving Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson

Multiple sources have confirmed talks between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins regarding a mega-deal that would cause even more of a stir in the AL East across both leagues.

The Marlins are reportedly packaging shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson, outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck to send north of the border.  In return, the Blue Jays are trading shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Jeff Mathis, starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez and prospects including Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolini and Anthony DeSclafani.

If this deal is made official, the Marlins will have officially traded away 12 of their 25 starters from 2012 Opening Day, including their entire infield, not to mention their new manager Mike Redmond has almost nothing to work with.  Up north, picking the right manager will be even more crucial now after John Farrell signed on with the Red Sox.

Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, the team's last remaining beacon of hope, tweeted yesterday, "All right, I'm pissed!!!! Plain & Simple."  Keeping him as well as the fans happy in Miami will be no cakewalk.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Red Bull Doing Whatever It Is Red Bull Does

We're past the halfway point of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon and at halftime of the St. John's-Detroit game.  Hopefully everyone's hanging in there, I know things are getting tough over here.

But, to get you through halftime, and maybe give you a little pick-me-up if you're into this sort of thing, here's another video from the wide world of Red Bull.  Its a life-size Mouse Trap set up, complete with all Red Bull sponsored athletes.  I tried to stop watching at least eight or nine times, but I couldn't look away.

Almost Halfway Through Tip-Off Marathon, If You Don't Know Now You Know

At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, we are almost halfway through ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon. Last night's New Mexico-Davidson battle was the best game of the tournament by far, with plenty more games looking to take that title today.

Gonzaga got things started with a bang last night, unfortunately it didn't make for a great game, but UNM-Davidson more than made up for that.  The Lobos came back from 16 down early to close the door with a five point win.  In the dead of night, it had me stifling my excitement so as to not wake my roommates.

The lull was for the Hawaii-Houston Baptist and Stony Brook-Rider, which Hawaii and Stony Brook secured in two uninspired games.  The blog was back on the scene at 8:30 this morning, and will be right here if anything crazy should come up the rest of the day.

Tonight promises to provide two of the more exciting match-ups in the coming weeks.  Powerhouses Michigan State and Kansas meet up, then hand the court over to Duke and Kentucky.  Kansas should handle Michigan State in the first game, as the Spartans are probably still woozy from a battle with UConn overseas.  The second game will be a ball fight right from the get-go, but Duke's experience, coupled with the "unstoppability" of Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee will give them a healthy halftime lead going into a dominant second half from the Blue Devils.

Stay tuned on ESPN, and check back for updates throughout the day here or on Twitter @JonToddVanDamme.

ESPN College Basketball Tip-Off Marathon

If you're not watching for at least two or three games, you're doing something wrong.

This is one of the few times that I am okay with being unemployed, the other notable instance was when Aerosmith played that free show on Comm Ave. last week.  The ESPN Tip-Off Marathon debuted in 2008 and has been going strong ever since, starting with one game at 11:59 p.m., and new games starting about every two hours for 24 hours straight.

It is currently 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and I'm here on my futon, blogging and live tweeting the games with my laptop going, cell phone tuned into Twitter and Sports Illustrated's college basketball preview issue by my side.

Game 1 is in the books, as Gonzaga topped West Virginia 84-50.  Rough way to start, but don't worry, the marathon will take you across 16 conferences, 14 states and five time zones.

As you can see in the picture above, the 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. slot is an ideal time for a power nap.  Probably not going to be much action out of Hawaii-Houston Baptist or Stony Brook-Rider.  But I've been watching games since 7 p.m. Tuesday, and don't plan on stopping outside of my designated nap time.

Stay tuned for more Tip-Off Marathon blogs all day tomorrow, and get on board with me via Twitter @JonToddVanDamme

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bills Fan Suing Bills For Receiving Too Many Texts

Jerry Wojcik, a disgruntled Buffalo Bills fan, is suing the team.

Wojcik signed up on the team's website to receive three to five text messages a week with updates, scores and other team news.  Well, the Bills went a little overboard and sent him six message one week, and seven in another.  That'll make even the most sane person go crazy, right?

Probably not.  But Wojcik is now suing the Bills for $500 per superfluous text message, "up to $1500 per call for willful violations."

Can't make this stuff up, people.  Wojcik will not be unsubscribing from the program, but wants his money for having to look at his phone three more times than he ever should have.  I mean, as a Bills fan, I feel like suing the team for making me suffer through a whole game only to watch Ryan Fitzpatrick throw an interception in the end zone, but since I'm not insane, I don't think I'll be doing that.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Commercial Battle: GEICO vs. Jingo's

This may be the closest battle we've had here. It really is a toss-up, and depending on which day it is, I could lean one way or the other. But I'm gonna go with the video below, for Jingos' "Flirt" over GEICO's "Eddie Money Travel."

Why, you ask?  Because its not how you start, its how you finish.

Should the Lakers Fire Mike Brown? Well, They Just Did

The Lakers are off to a 1-4 start, their worst since the 1993-94 season.  In a city without a football team and where the defending World Champion Kings are sidelined by a lockout, basketball reigns supreme.  So with their worst start in almost two decades hanging over their heads going into a six-game homestand, will there be jobs on the line, namely the head coach's spot occupied by Mike Brown?

When the Lakers attempted to create a "super team" by signing Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, it was easy to pick them as the NBA Finals favorite.  But no one picked this kind of start.  The new system the players...

So right there is as far as I got writing this post, before the breaking news came out that head coach of the Lakers Mike Brown has been fired.  He only made it five regular season games into his second season with the team, writing a strange ending to the chapter following his stay in Cleveland where he won Coach of the Year in 2009.

Firing Brown was ultimately the wrong choice by the Lakers.  They have too many egos to control and too much to learn to start over with a new coach.  This essentially erases all they learned from him over the summer, but the one good thing that comes from this is that they weren't very good at applying what they learned, so hopefully a new coach can bring a quick fix.

From 3,000 miles away, even I could feel the pressure the media was putting on the purple and gold.  Kobe Bryant's "death stare," Steve Blake mouthing off to a fan and Howard's constant internal battle over whether he is defined as a center or a forward are all cases of how the team is already starting to wear themselves down. 

Howard has fired back at Shaquille O'Neal and then the NBA itself, declaring himself a true center and taking things very personally when someone says otherwise.  He first needs to work on lightening up, then he needs to work on adjusting to his new role.  His selfishness is hurting the team's defense as a whole -- a defense that has only held opponents to under 23 points per quarter four times through five games.

The Lakers defense has always been streaky, at best, as shown here in January and here two months later during last season.  This year will not be a rebuilding year for the Lakers, even with their head coach out of the picture.  In a way, the Lakers have hit the reset button on their season.  Lucky for them, they are only five games in, shrinking the blast radius of the news, but they have a long road ahead of them to get this train back on track. 

They have the talent to do so, but the removal of Brown will push this team to the brink early in the season, and I think it will take significantly more time to get this team on track.  While I don't agree with the firing, I do think this team will get back on track and most likely make the playoffs.  They're just too good.  But then again, take a look at the 2012 Boston Red Sox...

College Basketball is Back


The most exciting game on hardwood is back tonight, tipping off at 5 p.m., officially marking the countdown to March Madness.  Tom Izzo's no. 14 Michigan State will battle Kevin Ollie's new look UConn team.  Last season, UConn lost players to the NBA and to transfers after the NCAA has suspended them from both the Big East and NCAA Championships for academic violations. 

Michigan State is favored in the game tonight, coming from across the pond at Ramstein Airbase in Germany.  This game marks the first regular season college basketball game in history to be played overseas, but it won't be the first to be played in an out-of-the-ordinary location. 

Ohio State and Marquette will face off aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., Florida and Georgetown will be aboard the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Fla., and Syracuse will take on San Diego State from the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, Calif.  The 'Cuse-SDSU game will tip-off Sunday because of the strong chance of wind and rain Friday evening.

Each team will be sporting custom uniforms for each game, consisting of their team colors as a camouflage design.  Normally, gimmicky uniforms fall flat on their face, but these uniforms aren't just about the look.  Last year, when Michigan State took on North Carolina in the first Carrier Classic, every player wore the same name on their backs -- "U.S.A."

Now, for the picks.  The losing streak has to end eventually right?  I'm gonna go for the upset -- with a side of bias -- and take UConn over State in the opening game.  Ohio State should take down Marquette in a solid game, with the best game coming from Jacksonville, where Florida will take down Georgetown.  On Sunday, Syracuse will handle San Diego State, no matter the weather.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Which Bruins Winger has the Better Commercial?

This commercial for NMTW Community Credit Union just starting popping up featuring Bruins winger Milan Lucic.  A bit drawn out, but I see what they're going for.  The real question is, does he have the best commercial by a Bruins winger?  Or does Brad Marchand still hold that title?

Nose Face Killah for the win.

Soupy and the Police

This story is not about the lockout.

Because of that thing going on that doesn't allow hockey players to play their sport against one another wearing official uniforms -- the name escapes me -- players are looking for things to do.  Something to keep themselves busy aside from trying to stay in shape with various hockey workouts at the closest arenas that they aren't locked out of.

In Boston, Gregory Campbell, center on the Bruins "Merlot" line, is getting his daily dose of adrenaline by joining one of his friends from the Boston Police department on ride-alongs.  Soupy gets in the mix with the BPD's gang unit, which he has some experience with.

When Campbell played for the Florida Panthers he would do ride-alongs with the Miami Police, rolling through Miami's Liberty City neighborhoods.  Whatever gives you that rush, I guess.  But I tell you what, sending Soupy out there with a bulletproof vests and his fists is probably one of the best crime deterrents.

Two points for creativity on this one.  Though there's still that risk of injury, Campbell's still in playing shape unlike his comrades who've signed up to play in Europe.  Tuukka Rask left a game with a groin injury and Patrice Bergeron injured his hand, keeping them out of action for a number of games.

Aerosmith: Music From Another Dimension Review - B-

Rock legends Aerosmith, fresh off a live performance on Commonwealth Avenue, have released a new studio album.  "Music From Another Dimension" marks the band's first studio release since 2004, and the first release with completely new and original music since 2001.

At first glance, the CD's 15 tracks (18 on the deluxe edition) seem a bit overwhelming.  At times, listening felt like a chore because there is so much to take it, but Aerosmith hasn't been making a living for this many years putting out bad music.

The opening track, titled "LUV XXX," opens with a goofy voice-over explaining that "there is nothing wrong with your perception of reality," and sets a strange tone for the album which is luckily smashed seconds later by classic clashing guitars provided by Joe Perry and Brad Whitford.  When we hit the chorus, however, the melody gets a little strange which will quickly become this album's overarching theme.

The tracks "Beautiful" and "Tell Me" confused me at first, because they didn't sound like true Aerosmith songs, but rather like another band from their heyday.  When the final power chord rings out on "Tell Me," the album really starts to hit its stride.

"Out Go the Lights" right to "Street Jesus" are probably the CDs best tracks, showing off the band's versatility while being able to bring out what makes this band who they are.  A good mix of horns, nasty guitar solos, Steven Tyler screams and the band's single "Legendary Child" give "Music From Another Dimension" some serious bite.  The single features some lines like "took a chance at the high school dance," bringing back that old Aerosmith feel with a nice full sound topped off with another one of Perry's face-melting solos.

The songs "What Could Have Been Love," "Can't Stop Lovin' You" and "We All Fall Down" sound like continuations of "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing," which isn't necessarily a bad thing and provides the album with a much needed step back.

What I really liked about this album was when things started to get shaken up.  Perry steps in as the front man, singing "Freedom Fighter" and "Something," with Tyler falling back to the drums on the latter track.  American Idol alumni Lauren Alaina and Carrie Underwood get in the mix as well, appearing on a couple songs, while actor Johnny Depp backs Perry on "Freedom Fighter."

Aerosmith performed on "The Today Show" Nov. 2, then another morning gig on the streets of Boston in anticipation of their new album and even though they look like they've aged 100 years, they still know how to rock a crowd and this new album is all the proof you'll need of that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Honest Trailers

Ever think movies get away with being convoluted messes by having flashy special effects and spooky music? Yup. Could we do without some movies even though they're guaranteed to make mucho deneiro? Yup. Think its time for these movies to get a more honest/sarcastic treatment? Yup. Well if you think it's time for a little more accountability, check out the Honest Trailer series by the folks at Screen Junkies where no film is safe from the snark.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NHL, NHLPA Scheduled to Talk Tuesday, Does Anyone Care?

The Winter Classic has been cancelled, and the NHL has reportedly cost themselves $70 million in the process.  At what point does there stubbornness just get completely out of control?

Wait, what?  Oh, that's already happened?  A month and a half ago?  Sounds about right.

Any hopes of a season are fading by the hour.  The NHL and Players Association have scheduled talks for Tuesday afternoon, but does that even matter anymore?  Here's how the deputy commissioner Bill Daly described the last set of talks over the weekend after two weeks of silence.

"We had a series of meetings and exchanged views on the most important issues separating us.  We plan to meet again sometime early this week."

Brilliant!  Looks like the season should start any second!  This next bit is from commissioner Gary Bettman from those discussions two weeks ago.

"But, as you see, despite what we did on [Oct. 16], we were done in an hour today because there was really nothing there."

And what happened on October 16th?  The NHL made an offer to split revenue at 50-50, but then NHLPA director Donald Fehr made the executive decision that it would cost players too much, but then proposed three different counter-proposals.  Good move.  No, just kidding, Bettman shot all three down.  So the "nothing there" line was because the NHLPA was not willing to work with only the commissioner's plan.  Absolute joke.

This may be one of my last NHL pieces because of how obnoxious this whole fiasco is.  Look, most fans don't care anymore, and barely care enough to read the news about it anymore.  Shutting down the Winter Classic was the final straw, and as to how this season or these fan bases can be rebuilt, well, that's a lot more than just one blog can handle.

Dwight Howards Makes Big Fuss Over Nothing, Complains About New ASG Ballot

The 2013 All-Star Game, which will be held in Houston, Tex., the home of the Rockets, has changed the format of its ballot to include just three frontcourt positions, instead of two forwards and one center.  This has Dwight Howard in an uproar.

After being put in his place earlier in the season by Shaquille O'Neal, who stated that Howard is not a true big man, but an evolving forward who can play both down low and even around the perimeter, Howard is still adamantly against how some see him.

"I don't like it at all, we work just as hard as anybody else," Howard said.  "I don't think it's fair to take away a position which has been here for life.  You need a center on the court.  So I don't think it's right.  That's like taking away a guard.  That's how I feel.  It's been that way since they started All-Star Games, so why change it now? Because centers shoot 3's now?"

The center position is rapidly evolving, like the other positions on the court, with players taking on different roles depending on situations, man coverage, or the entire style of offense.  Howard's stance is that because centers are becoming more versatile, all the more reason they should be included.

"The game changes every day," he said. "It changes every year.  You look at the game back then and now, centers are bigger, stronger, faster.  Guards are bigger, stronger, faster.  So the game evolves.  That doesn't mean you take out a position because of the game evolving, because the players that play center are evolving also."

Valid point, but its just the All-Star game, Dwight.  It doesn't matter, it just looks good on the resume.  Play well enough, you're going to make it anyway, who cares if you don't make it as a center and instead as a forward?  He's one of the premier big men in the NBA, and should embrace his new role.  Instead of spending his time wallowing over this, he should concern himself more with adapting to the new Lakers offense, who are off to a 1-3 start.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Supporter Submission: Credibility Battle Between Armstrong and USADA

I have no credential to analyze or judge how Lance Armstrong, Nike or the Livestrong organization are dealing with the fallout of this scandal or the great charity work that those three entities have been able to accomplish together, so I will mostly side step that aspect of the story. I would however, like to supply some background on professional cycling and drug doping especially in the Tour de France which is the Super Bowl of the sport, and maybe even defend Lance Armstrong a little...

The sport has been tainted by drug use from the start. Before blood doping and HGH, cycling had a long history of illegal alcohol and ether use to minimize the pain of endurance racing. 1998 was roughly the start of the sports modern attempt to fight doping. From 1998 to 2010 there has only been one winner of the Tour who has not been implicated in doping scandals (2008, Carlos Sastre). If you were to re-award the Tour titles to the second place finisher in each of the tarnished races you would only solve the problem roughly half the time because the second place finisher has also been linked to doping in six of these years.

In four of the years Lance won the Tour, the second place finisher has tested positive for doping or admitted doping. To this day no one has been able to produce a positive test for a banned substance for Armstrong, cover-ups aside.

If the Tour committee were to try and fill a podium of completely clean cyclists there would be years like 2003 when a cyclist who finished in 11th or 12th place would be promoted onto the podium. This would be similar to awarding a bronze track medal to a sprinter who was eliminated after coming in 6th in a semi-final heat.

Roughly two-thirds of the top three finishers in the Tour each year – again, from 1998 – 2010 -- have doping allegations, suspensions or positive tests in their careers. So any given year, a clean rider only needs to shoot for third in the final race standings to be awarded the victory when the two riders ahead of him are enveloped in doping scandals. (This is not the best competitive strategy, but is actually statistically valid in those years.)

USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) is the organization behind the current investigation into Lance and in my eye seems sketchy at best. These guys are not a government agency and are not internationally accepted. Do not confuse USADA with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), who are the top notch drug testing agency and run the drug testing for the Olympics and everything else of importance.

The US government spent two years gathering evidence against Lance and dismissed the case before even getting to trial. This is the same group of people who brought Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds to trial with what was proven to be below average evidence in each of those cases. If the government couldn't gather enough evidence against Lance to bring him to trial much less convict him I am a little worried about the quality of evidence an independent organization like USADA could have gathered.

USADA still does not have a positive test for Lance Armstrong. The best they can produce is a test of his that they claim is "consistent with blood doping." Take that for what you will, but if I had a test that scientifically proved he was cheating I would be shouting it from the tops of mountains not burying it under affidavits and using mixed language to describe it.

There are a number of affidavits from teammates and everyone else who claim they saw Lance cheat. Some of these people are more reputable then others. Floyd Landis is the least reputable of the group having written and sold a book claiming he did not dope as a professional cyclist and then admitting to it a few years later. (My father is still waiting for his refund on that book as it was not sold in the fiction section at the time.) I cannot truthfully claim that all the testimonies are of this poor quality. George Hincapie is reportedly among the group and in addition to being my all time favorite cyclist is considered by all in the sport to be a stand up guy. Similar to a Derek Jeter type, love him or hate him you have to respect him.

The most damning piece of information about USADA for me is that they have a self-imposed and self-chartered eight-year statute of limitations. Lance won his first tour in 1999. For those who are confused it is currently 2012. Under the organizations own rules they are only able to challenge the final two of Lances seven titles, but instead USADA has gone after all the titles and submitted evidence and affidavits that are 14 years old. As I said before that seems sketchy, at very best.

It is hard to say Lance is completely innocent but he and his attorney have consistently claimed that this is a witch hunt by USADA. I hope everyone draws their own conclusions about Lance and hopefully some of the information above helps you make a more informed decision. If you forced me to take a lie detector test and asked me if I thought Lance was guilty, I would tell you yes, I think he is probably guilty. But the following three points give me hope that he could be innocent:

1) The US government abandoned a court case against him for lack of evidence. A syringe and cotton swab in a beer can was previously enough for them to bring a case to court.

2) There is still not one drug test that proves Lance cheated.  Ryan Braun has a test that proves he cheated and is still considered innocent, and the 2011 MVP.

3) USADA broke its own rules to try and completely wipe Lance from the record books even though he is retired and currently only does bike races for charity.

Thanks to anyone who has read this much of my rant.


Gobble Gobble Gobble Turkey From Jive Turkey Gobblers

Don't question 49ers quarterback Alex Smith's confidence in front of head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Following a 24-3 win over the Cardinals, Harbaugh was asked at a news conference if he thought Smith's confidence was restored.  Harbaugh didn't think that his quarterback's mindset has changed at all the past few weeks.  I think.

"I don't think there was ever a question there.  I think it was a lot of gobble, gobble turkey," Harbaugh said.

Confused as to what Harbaugh meant?  So were the reporters.  "What is gobble, gobble turkey?" one reporter blurted out.

"Just gobble, gobble gobble turkey from jive turkey gobblers, ya know?"

Duh, of course we do.  This guy...

"I think that paints a pretty good picture of it," he said, through a smile.  "He's a very confident guy."

If you think I'm making this up, then follow this link over to to see the video of it.

Huge Hit by Dashon Goldson Not Okay

Even with all the rules that have come down in the NFL regarding vicious hits on defenseless receivers, somehow this one was perfectly legal.

This play features two of the countless idiotic names in sports today with Dashon Goldson laying a hit on Early Doucet.  Doucet catches a pass up the middle, but when Goldson hits him, the pass is dropped.  Goldson leaves his feet, lights up Doucet and has the audacity to celebrate like a female gymnast sticking the dismount while Doucet just lays on the field.  Luckily the Cardinals receiver was okay and walked off the field under his own power.

Growing up, the only football I really watched was when I was playing "NFL Blitz" on Playstation.  The game was all about big hits, but the thing was, I knew it was just a video game.  Seeing these hits in the NFL now, sure, they're fun to watch, like when Vince Wilfork lit up Donald Jones a few weeks ago, but only when you know the player is going to be okay.

Last week, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan called a play that sent quarterback Robert Griffin III out as a receiver, which put him on the bad end of a nasty hit.  Ask anyone about the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, and they'll act like its the worst thing in the world.  But when Steelers defenders, or Falcons defenders -- the ones who concussed RGIII -- try their hardest to take RGIII's head off, that's okay.  They're going for injuries, just look at their celebrations for all the proof you'll need.