Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Drop your weapons


Post #23 Topic: Sean Taylor

On Monday morning, Red Skins safety Sean Taylor was shot in the groin above the femoral artery. He died Tuesday from excessive blood loss, having never regained consciousness after being shot the day before.

Late Monday afternoon, reports out of the hospital were positive. According to a nurse, Sean had “grabbed her hand”, and showed “minor facial movements”. Unfortunately, these were the last two signs of responsiveness from a man that had become known as one of the NFL’s most feared hitters, but also one of the Washington Redskins most notorious leaders both on and off the field.

Taylor was no angel. Immediately after being drafted Taylor was fined for missing a mandatory post-draft symposium. Soon thereafter Taylor was arrested (but not convicted) of drunk driving. In 2006, Taylor was fined for spitting in the face of then Tampa Running Back, Michael Pittman.

But according to teammates, Taylor’s life had taken a turn for the better. He had become a father, and a dedicated one at that. That dedication seemed to spread to other venues of is life as, according to his coaches, Taylor became more devoted to excelling at the game of football through better training regiments and peak physical conditioning.

Taylor, a pro-bowl free safety will be next to impossible for the Redskins to replace. Although insignificant in the grander scheme of things, Taylor’s death will have serious repercussions for a Redskins team that was still in the running for one of the NFC’s wildcard spots. As eloquently stated by ESPN, Sean Taylor; Dead at 24.

(I apologize if the following is too early, but given the lack of response to yesterday’s Hurrican Katrina jokes I figured that my audience (Scuba, Ian) is pretty, pretty, pretty insensitive.

WTF FUCK IS UP WITH PEOPLE SHOOTING NFL PLAYERS and vice versa? This is not the 1st time this has happened. These guys are getting shot at like injured deer. This is the 2nd NFL player to die this year from gunshot wounds, and far from the first to be caught wielding or being targeted by said weapon. Former Bronco Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting in January. Tank Johnson was suspended 8 games for illegal possession of a concealed weapon. In March, Super Bowl champion Dexter Reid was arrested during a DUI investigation for possession of an unregistered weapon. Jaguars wide receiver Charles Sharon was charged with, get this, STEALING A HANDGUN in March. Ray Lewis apparently but inconclusively killed someone the night before his Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. Rae Carruth killed his girlfriend and was accused of “shooting into an occupied vehicle”. Police later found the Rhodes Scholar hiding in a garbage dumpster, perhaps looking for the rest of his meth and chicken milkshake.

According to former offensive tackle Lonas Brown, a league veteran of 19 years… EVERYONE IN THE NFL HAS A GUN. Brown recalls seeing guns in locker rooms, in people’s cars, in training camp dormitory rooms. Brown even remembers seeing players with their guns ON TEAM PLANES????????????????????????????? WTF, seriously, WTF?. And we thought Michael Vick sneaking onto a team plane with a few headies was a problem. Next thing we know Eli Manning will be bringing his spray shotgun onto the field for endzone celebrations (should he reach the endzone in this the part of the season that extends past the college football season, which interestingly enough, was too long for Eli to succeed as well).

Now Sean Taylor didn’t kill himself. And one would be inclined to say that he is devoid of any guilt in this matter. But reading the press release, three interesting notes come to one’s attention.

First, this was the second time this week that Taylor’s house got broken into. The first time, the thief took nothing but left a knife on Taylor’s bed. If that wasn’t a message saying “I’m coming for you”, then what is? Clearly this was no crime of passion, but rather one of your classic pre-meditated burglaries. And as is the case in most burglaries, it appears as if this one was not unprovoked.

Second, Taylor encountered trouble several years ago when he was caught “brandishing a gun”. Anyone making more than a mill a year should never be caught brandishing anything but their wallet (unless in NYC, where brandishing a wallet is enough to incite a brutal police killing).

Third, when Taylor heard the intruder while in bed with his girlfriend, he grabbed the Machetti from under his pillow. This is not Jamaica. There are no congo insurgents in Miami. Why on earth would someone keep a machete under his pillow unless he expected that he would soon have to use it. That would be like Jim Norton keeping a condom under his cookie-jar. Simply put, unless you provoke someone, you never have an actual need for a machete.

Now I mourn just as much as the next guy. On this day, in this instance, Sean Taylor did not deserve to die. As aforementioned, Taylor had recently “turned his life around”. Taylor had a kid, and Taylor had a promising career ahead of him. But this whole incident should be the final straw in a series of incidents that has yet to break the camel’s (NFL discipline committee) back.

League officials need to intervene. Perhaps metal detectors would do the trick, instituted everywhere. There absolutely can not be guns in planes, locker rooms or dormitories. Honestly, how long is it before one of these weapons accidentally discharges killing an innocent punter, or the water boy. How many people need to be shot before the NFL realizes that it has a gun problem. When possession is the norm, its time for an intervention.

And the penalties must be strict. “If you get caught with a gun, registered or not, outside of a game farm or a video arcade then you are suspended for the entire season, with potential for increased punishment depending on the weapons”. At first, none of these thugs will listen. In fact, as part of a recruiting package the university of Miami provides all targeted High school juniors with a Bayonet (true fact). They’ll still continue to carry their guns. UNTIL… Until Chad Johnson or some other high profile player gets caught with one. That 1st player’s suspension will cause the team to issue their own mandated searches of lockers and luggage, and levy their own punishment. Suddenly people will listen. Brett Farve will refuse to go into his locker room when there is a gun lying around. People will begin to talk and before long the epidemic will realize baseball-steroidesque proportions. And then people will ditch the weapons just like bonds ditched the evidence (the clear and the cream).

Now taking guns out of the hands of professional athletes may not help to avoid all potential gun-related deaths/injuries. But as evidenced by several NFL player’s willingness to flash their gats, there will undoubtedly be a lot less intimidated and threatened men out there consequently looking for revenge. And even if one life is saved as a result of this new mandatory team gun searches, then the rule will have served its purpose. A gun problem is a bad problem. Its not like collegiates failing classes, or hockey players checking from behind. Guns are a matter of life and death and their existence on the playing field (and relevant extensions) needs to be curtailed if not extinguished entirely.

Sean Taylor, R.I.P. May the awfulness that is your death serve some good in demonstrating just how negligent the NFL is in maintaining its lax standard of investigating it’s player’s tendencies to possess illegal, and often deadly or death provoking weapons.

Other Notes:

Chris Rock: “Never go to a party with a metal detector. Sure it seems safe inside. But what about all those crazy fuckers outside with guns? THEY KNOW YOU AINT GOT ONE.

Rapping is my hobby, my house has a lobby, my sisters act snobby because I feed em thousands.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Danny Devito called, he wants his TWINS back

Post #22 Topic: DIP-SET


No the other Santana, the only Santana. The best pitcher in baseball. Better than Beckett, better than C.C. Sabathia, better than Jake Peavy or Chris Young, better than Carlos Zambrano or John Lackey. The winner of two of the last three Cy Young awards. 4 consecutive 15 win seasons, all with over 230 K’s (at 28 years old, having been a starter for only 6). Career E.R.A. of 3.15 and even a save to his credit. Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball.

For the past several years, Johan Santana has been the reason that the Minnesota Twins have been on the map. Of course there’s been Tori Hunter. David Ortiz started as a twin (but was the back-up first baseman behind Doug Mientkewicz). Jacques Jones and Shannon Stewart were twins. Joe Mauer and Justin Mourneau are twins. Two years ago Francisco Lariano was the 2nd best pitcher in baseball, before the Twins burned him out causing him to miss the entire 06-07 season; but 2nd best to Johan Santana.

When someone says Johan Santana, these are the stats that come to mind. The name musters images of unhittableness, deadly sinkers and high cheese so stinky that batters have no choice but to take a whiff. But Johan Santana wasn’t always a star. Rather, in 1995, Johan Santana was drafted by the Astros to provide for a bridge to then closer Billy Wagner. Needless to say he didn’t pan out, and eventually wound up back in homeland Venezuela where in 1999 he was named the country’s athlete of the year.

Amazingly, in what many consider to be one of the finest baseball breeding grounds, this accolade was not enough to earn him a starting job in the majors. Rather, Santana was picked up by the Marlins (Cykiert 3 – Marlins Franchise 0 … reasoning to follow) in the rule 5 draft.

For those unfamiliar with the term, the rule 5 draft is an event that occurs each year at the owner’s meeting, during which teams that have stockpiled prospects are forced to sacrifice some of them to other teams who are willing to give them time in the Major Leagues, rather than burying them in Shreveport where the only fans that ever come around are rated on a scale from 1-5 and come standard with an “F” in front of them (I refuse to believe that early Christmas present known as global warming is responsible for the only thing that blows more southerners than the sisters of those southerners).

So the pathetic Marlins GAVE JOHAN SANTANA to the Twins… essentially. In reality, he was traded for Jared Camp. How good is Jared Camp? So good that he doesn’t even have a page on wikipedia (not that wikipedia is where I get most of my information or anything). Even I have a Wikipedia Page… Don’t Believe Me? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarsdale_High_School#References

Ye of little faith.

Anyway, back to the point. From there on out Santana blew up. He became the game’s most dominant pitcher. He lead the Twins to the Playoffs twice. He won Cy Young Awards etc. etc. etc. BUT… and so as it was, once again it shall be. Though the course may change sometime the rivers always reach the sea (Zepp). Like all other players on small market teams like the MARLINS, Johan has decided to pack up his bags and head for what falsely appear to be greener pastures. I for one think the Twins are onto something. They have one of the league’s best farm system’s year in and year out. They got Mauer and Mourneau. Liriano will be back and they have two more young stud pitchers on the way. They’re getting a new stadium (Dairy Queen field… mmmmmm), they win games and their fans are PLEASABLE. But with one year left on his contract, and his eyes on a $20 million dollar a year deal, the Twins are left with no choice but to trade him to one of the league’s “Big Fish”.

I for one think the Mets are the ideal destination, and not only because I’m a Mets fan. Truth is that the Mets have the most to offer, the biggest need for Johan, and the demographics to help this South American Centaur feel right at home in a major market. And a major market is where he will wind up, seeing as only select teams (Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Mets and that other team) can actually afford him. Then consider that the Sox’ rotation is clogged with Dasiuke, Beckett, Schilling, Bucholz, Wakefield and Lester (oops that’s six), the Dodgers need a power hitter and if healthy (Schmidt, Wolf, Penny…) have a pretty nice top three, the Angels just brought former teammate Torri Hunter over and are “actively pursuing Miguel Cabrera” who is now too good to play for the Mets Double-A affiliate, the Florida Marlins. While the Rangers remain an option and need pitching, New York is the place to go to make a national name for yourself and leave a mark on the game.

Back to the Mets. A package of young pitcher Mike Pelfrey, young Stunna’ Lastings Milledge, long relief man Aaron Heilman, and Carlos Gomez has to get this deal done. Those are four young(er) players, that combined equate to less than an 8 million dollar cap hit and have the potential to all earn starting spots with the Twins. While this may appear to deplete the Mets outfield, they still have Carlos Beltran, Moises Alou, and super-prospect Fernando Martinez who some believe is ready to step in immediately despite being only 20 years of age. Then ‘Duque can move to the bullpen, leaving the starting rotation as: Santana, Oliver Perez, John Maine, Pedro Martinez, and perhaps rookie Philip Humbert rounding, which would (assuming health) be amongst the best in the bigs… IF NOT THE BEST (that’s why they call them business socks). Oliver Perez is young and has ace stuff. If he can get a consistent leash around his fastball then the Mets have three potential 20 game winners at the top of their rotation with that Pedro wildcard filling the fourth spot. And Pedro was nice at the end of this season.

But no! Instead, we default to the obvious. Every season there’s that two week period where we, as fans of our respective teams truly believe that our GM’s are going to make that blockbuster move that makes us World Series worthy for the coming season. We see the rumors, often fabricated, in our local papers. Our friends talk about the possibilities. We write down the potential line-ups when we should be paying attention to our Grecian Math T.A.’s who don’t speak a spot of English and have yet to communicate one logical use for the derivative of Pi squared. We think of who we would give the ball to for game 1 of the fall classic and whether that man can also go for game 4 and game 7 if by some freak accident our American/National league opponent can last that long. And then just as we place our order for the custom-embroidered, authentic vintage jersey that cost us $250 and three weeks of eating Ramen Noodles and sugar cubes, that player signs with the gosh darn (this is a kosher blog) Yankees. Them Damn Yankees. Everything that is wrong with sports. All that is bad about New Yorkers. The entire source of yearly salary inflation. The GOD DAMN YANKEES.

Was it not three weeks ago that the Yankees declared that they would not fold to Alex Rodriguez’s demands for a billion dollars per playoff strike-out or inning ending double-play agreement? Weren’t Hank and Hal and all of the other Steinbrenner’s telling us how the young guys – Melky and Duncan and Kennedy and Joba and Phil Hughes were going to be the NEW FACE OF THE YANKEES? To answer your question… YES, emphatically.

But then the evils of being the richest franchise in sports kicked in. Kudos for the new owners for holding out as long as they did, but when Heidi Klum is sitting on your lap butt naked you can only concentrate on your Super Mario Bros. game and your buttered popcorn for so long. And then the Dominos started falling. A-rod for 10 years at 27.5 per. Total = 275 million (with 30 million dollars in home run incentives available to the lifetime loser). Mariano River re-upped for 3 years at 15 per. Total = 320 Million. (Mind you that Rivera’s E.R.A. last year was nearly a point and a half higher than its been since 2002 – translation: Cue Taps). Jorge “George” Posada rejoined the empire for 4 years at 13 per. Total = 372 million. And now, as we could have predicted, rumor has it that Santana will be the next to join the squad. Figure he gets 7 years at 20 per (which is a good deal given that Zito got 7 years at 18 per, and only won 11 games last year and threw less than 200 innings for the first time since 2002). But that’s another 140 million, bringing the Steinbrenner’s three week spending total to a whopping 520 million dollars in committed money. I haven’t spent that much money since I took my half-asian friend to the “penny per pound” night at the ground round. That is more than the Marlins and the Twins will spend over the next 10 years… COMBINED (assuming the Marlins fold within the next two years for what the Marlins owner identified as “inclimate weather”, although the only storm in Miami stopping people from attending Marlins games is “coming in from the west”). Oh, and Andy Pettite has a 16 million dollar option on the table should he decide to drop the cheeseburgers (or the Rocket’s Jock).

Don’t forget the rest of the Yankees and their salaries. Pavano at 10 mill, Mussina at 11, Kei Igawa at 4 mill, Jeter at 21, Abreu at 16, Damon at 13, Giambi at 23 and Matsui at 1,406,210,000 yen (13 million dollars, presented in yen for effect). THAT’S A LOT OF STEROIDS.

But Santana will cost more than 20 million per season. Included in his price will be the last 5 years of the Yankee’s player development, all of the Steinbrenner’s dignity, and all of the fan’s willingness to “build” a champion.

The Twins will want a proven young starter; JOBA CHAMBERLAN, come on down. Yankee fans say he’s untradable and I would tend to agree. Unless of course that player you’re trading for is Johan Santana, then you send them Joba and his father’s emotional story and a lifetime supply of homegrown coffee beans (Juan Valdez style). They’re also going to want a young “project” pitcher, since there is NO PITCHER IN BASEBALL who can on his own take Santana’s spot: Ian Kennedy or Phil Hughes come on down (in Drew Carey Voice). How bout a center-fielder to take Hunter’s place? Melky, don’t forget to spay or neuter your FORMER GM. And how about a DH, with his salary paid for? Giambi’s got one year left and there’s no more room for him in the Yankee’s lineup.

Sadly, Joba, Hughes/Kennedy, Melky and a free Giambi might not even be enough to obtain Cy Young the second’s services. But don’t be fooled, the Yankees will not stop there. Rather, the Yankees want to be certain that they win the championship this year.

Yeah, the Yankees are certain every year. But with Santana in town, trust suddenly MIA GM Brian Cashman that this year the evil, miserable, ruiners of all that is holy Yankees mean business. THAT IS, until they meet the Angels in the division series.

Other Notes

I (meaning me and my friends from college who’s combined brain power equaled that of a growth-stunted turtle for four years) invented the dance move the spin. I’ve spun all over the world. Spun in Germany, spun in Spain. Spun in Amsterdam, spun in Vegas. Spun in N’awlins, spun in Montreal. Spun in New York, spun in Ohio. Spun blacks, whites, Asians, Indians. Spun shorts, talls, fats, skinnies (firm believer in the equal protection clause so sue me… get it?). Spun smarts, dumbs, funnies and borings. I’ve spun ‘em all. So imagine my fright when I walked into the local bar this weekend and watched two other dudes spinning chicks. Now by spinning I don’t mean twirling, for twirling is merely the amateur’s way of partaking in spinning. I mean SPINNING. So attention all of you wanna be’s and band-wagoners: GET OFF OF MY CLOUD.

The older you get, the longer the 5 second rule becomes. It’s still called the 5 second rule, but at 24 years old I just count slower.

Thanksgiving is like a birthday; you binge all week but nobody gets laid.

Motion to change the name of finals. There’s nothing final about finals. If they were really finals, I couldn’t validate not studying for them by saying I’d do better on next semester’s finals.

Whatever Emily!

Friday, November 16, 2007



Post Topic #21: The Rangers Look Great

Some interesting things i've noticed over the previous few games box scores.

Renney is consistently showing more and more confidence in Staal. He's gone from 12, to 15, to 18 to 23 minutes last nite. This is a great sign. Last year he was playing nearly 30 a game in juniors. While that's a lofty expectation for anyone, if he's up to a consistent 25 a night by the end of the season, then i think he's closer to reaching leetch like status then we could have hoped for.

Dubinsky isn't only playing 1st line, he's getting 1st line minutes - 16.5 last night.

Betts is being used efficiently, and i think that's the best word for it. He played 10 minutes last nite. Was there to start the game (a strategy i like, seeing as that line is quick and can and has twice caused the other team to fall into a daze from the get go). Any more time for him is unnecessary seeing as he doesn't score, but his play is stifling and a good way for the top lines to come on the ice guaranteed to be in control of the puck

Dawes is also gaining Renney's confidence. He's averaging nearly 13 minutes a night which is impressive for a guy his size (5 foot 8) who continuously skates as hard as he does.

Numerous other things to talk about but first and foremost, i think we learned something important against the Flyers about Prucha. If he gets less than 10 minutes he simply is not able to establish the pesky game that he needs to in order to be effective. Against the Flyers he gets 12 minutes and plays a pretty solid game; more importantly, the type of game that winning teams get from their 3rd line players, which is what he is and should continue to be. With that said it will be tough to find a spot for him once these other guys come back.

But the sentiment here is clear. People want hossa off the top line. Given that, I believe that Callahan is not the type of player who would be best handled getting 3rd line minutes. this kid (he is younger then me and i can therefore say kid) needs to be groomed as a top two line type of guy and it needs to start happening this season given the log jam of forward prospects slowly trickling through the system. To put him on the 4th would be an insane waste of potential.

But this only further increases the problem. Where do you put Marty (straka)? Do you disassemble the 3rd line and put straka with Drury and Prucha? I think this line could be effective but not at the cost of dropping Nigel down when he is poised to break out this year (If he were to have a breakout 25 goal campaign the Rangers would have a 3rd line that could anchor their scoring for the next five years in Prucha, Drury and Dawes, with potential reinforcements in Bourret, Pyatt and others in the system).

I don’t want to lose Nigel. Not when he has been playing so well. Not when the team has been playing so well. 8 out of 9 games is right across that line where you can no longer consider the success a fluke and have to start saying that something is working. What exactly is working is becoming clearer and clearer. For the first time this season, the Rangers are staying with line combos on a consistent basis. And they sure are working.

Gomez is flying and Shanahan is being given enough space in reaction to Gomez’s flying that gives him that extra split second he needs to shoot, courtesy of his age. But age or not, he’s starting to become effective which is a good sign for two reasons. 1: he’s scoring goals, something which Ranger fans are quickly forgetting that the team was struggling to do at the beginning of the season. 2: Last season he was on fire at the start. I for one think that the way he’s playing is better this year, especially with all of the young talent. We can only expect that as the season progresses, and the Dubinskys, the Staals, The Dawes’, the Callahans the Pruchas the Tyutins and the Girardis of this team will go through spells of tiredness, if not exhaustion. To have Shanahan reaching his peak right around mid-season would be ideal to take some of the load off of these younger guys who have almost clockworkishly taken turns carrying the load here.

And then there is Jag’s line. It’s working. Dubinsky does some disgusting things with the puck. Every game he makes one move from the circles cutting in to the crease area that literally stuns defensemen. If he starts getting that shot off then we will be seeing a lot more scoring from that line, especially given that the most potent player in Hockey is still feet behind him waiting either for a rebound or a deflection past the deep d-men trying to stop Dubinsky.

And who are these offensive d-men that are still maintaining their defensive prowess. I said two years ago when Tyutin first got full minutes that this guys got a rifle. His cannon is deadly, accurate and almost unblockable (usually shoots high). While Mara is a good gap-filler on the point for now, my sense is that he’s gone next year and I think that Tyutin is the perfect combination of solid defense and dangerous shot to be our team’s next PP QB (until either Staal takes it, Sanguinetti comes up or Renney unwisely gives the spot back to Drury or Straka).

Otherwise the PP is struggling, but like everything else that’s only a matter of time. The reason the Rangers’ power play was so deadly two years ago was because Jagr had that circle shot that goalies COULD NOT STOP. That shot looks to be coming back. The largest distinction between this years team and the team two years ago is that now when Jagr shoots, there are 4 other guys who haves noses for the net waiting for the rebound or a quick pass through the crease. If Renney becomes wise enough to put Drury down low where he can screen the goalie, get some scrappy goals and make some deflections, then Tyutin/Mara/Staal/Straka’s shots from the point are going to be finding a lot more nets, systematically.

Interesting decisions to be made in the next week or so regarding roster moves.

Admission: Two years ago, with Lundqvist playing well I told my friend, “This is Montoya’s team, Lundqvist is just holding his spot”. I was drastically wrong. See I didn’t really realize how stable of a goalie Lundqvist was. But he has no weak spots, or off nights (off minutes more like it but this is beyond acceptable). Apparently that SEL is a lot more indicative of talent than we thought. If only our other Scandanavian brethren (Lauri Korpikoski) could reach his enormous potential then I think the next few years we might be looking at the perennial cup favorite, and hopefully at least a couple Cup parades down broadway. Now I'm curious as to how good of a return we can get for Montoya.

I would say d-man, but we really don't need one. Consider that next year there are 5 spots guaranteed to be taken: Staal, Tyutin, Girardi, Sauer, Roszival (i predict he re-signs). It would be foolish to make a deal for a young d-man now when Sanguinetti could be good enough next year.

I would however not be opposed to picking up a veteran D-man in exchange for Malik and Montoya and maybe even another prospect. There are guys floating around Like Filip Kuba, and Bret Hedican, and Wade Redden that are available that could bring the Matteau/Larmer/McTavish type grit and experience to a young team in a good position to make a serious run at the cup. The lightning, being a goalie away from being really really dangerous might bite at that.

Other Notes

I’m going to start writing other notes in front of the actual blog entry and putting this crap up top, that way all you jackasses that don’t appreciate my writing and scroll straight to the bottom don’t have to exercise your thumbs.

No joke. I have a friend that is the laziest SOB alive. All through college I would be awoken by him gagging from brushing his teeth. This morning, while brushing his teeth, he gagged so hard that he threw out his back and now is out of work. The world’s first tooth-brushing injury. Talk about fragile.

When you work at a Mexican restaurant, AND YOU’RE WHITE AND IRISH, don’t tell the patrons that your food is authentic Mexican… it just makes you look stupid. And don’t tell the patrons that you don’t serve quesadillas (pronounced kwezadealas) because they’re fake Mexican, and then serve them anyway under the name Funditos. I mean come on. For serious.

Tin Foil is the new wrapping paper. If you’re really creative, you can do half shiny side, half dull side.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Weighin in on Wayne


Post Topic #20: Why I dislike Wayne Gretzky

In the summer of 1996 the Rangers announced that they had signed Wayne Gretzky. During the year prior, Wayne was moved to the St. Louis Blues prior to the deadline, where the Blues Brass had hoped that the Gretzky Hull combination would be nearly unstoppable. Nearly was inaccurate. In fact, the two scoring powers did not mesh as well has had been planned, and as a free agent that following summer, Wayne Gretzky signed with the Rangers.

Gretzky said that he was “looking forward to playing with Messier again”, as the two had combined for three Stanley cup victories in their previous tenure together, for Glen Sather’s Edmonton Oilers. That summer, two years removed from a Stanley cup victory, the rangers, ignorant of the fact at the time, had done nothing other than commence the nosedive that kept them out of the playoffs for the next 8 years. Over that course the Rangers brought in dozens of high priced veterans, many of whom in retrospect were clearly at the final portion of the decline of their careers. Included in that crew was Wayne’s former Edmonton supporting cast: Jari Kurri, Marty McSorley and Luc Robitaille (who strangely had one last resurgence when he returned to Los Angeles, until he was traded to Detroit where I believe but am not certain he picked up a cup, thanks to the dominant 1-2 center lineup of Yzerman and Federov).

Other aging vets signed by former Islanders GM Neil Smith during those dark years included Theo Fleury, Val Kamensky, Stephane Quintal, Brian Skrudland, and Mike Keane. Of note, the year the Rangers signed Mike Keane and Skrudland they also took a chance on an oft injured veteran by the name of Pat Lafontaine; who happens to be one of my (and many true hockey fans) favorite players. Strangely, that year things appeared to be peering upwards, out of the endless draught that had seemed to swarm the Garden like a fog in a bad Stephen King movie. The Rangers were winning (started out on top of their conference), and LaFontaine was averaging nearly 1.5 pts/nite. Then, like a swift kick in the junk, the Rangers chances of “reproducing” a Stanley Cup went down the drains when Mike Keane, skating backwards, smashed into Mr. Lafontaine abruptly ending his career. I digress.

That same year that the Rangers signed Gretzky, they brought in some reinforcement to play on his wing. Kevin Stevens was 4 years removed from scoring 50 goals (not deserving of too much credit as he played on a line with Mario and Jaromir Jagr, two of the top 10 players of all time), and had fallen into “where are they now” category. Upon joining the Rangers Stevens was a fat, lazy, dirty hockey player who brought nothing to the Rangers… at all.

And so my story begins. As a young fan, and an optimistic follower of the Blue-shirts, I was confident that all of the signings would amount to a championship. Afterall, how could a Gretzky/Messier combination not produce wonders? Each summer prior to the start of training camp, the Rangers conducted a “golf tournament” for charity at a country club hardly a mile from my house, and this year my Ranger buddies and I were determined to attend. So we put on our Sunday’s best (which is a strange notion for a bunch of jews), hopped on our Huffy’ 12 speeds and rode down to the local club. Thinking we were sneaky but more likely the result of a “who cares they’re stupid kids” attitude, we snuk into the clubhouse to meet the players.

First to walk by was Jeff Beukeboom, a garden favorite and member of the Stanley Cup winning team. Jeff willingly signed my Rangers Jersey and went along his way. Next to walk by was my favorite player at the time and the spark-plug rookie during the Rangers’ cup run, Alex Kovalev (R.I.P.I.M (rest in peace in Montreal)). He likewise was attentive (or maybe he just liked my tie, which was actually my dad’s and was therefore six sizes too large and incredibly ugly. I think it was also tattered (pre-vintage vintage shit)), and gladly signed my Jersey.

My friends and I waited another hour or so. Several more players came out, we talked with them, some of them gave us autographs, but for the most part they were all very cooperative with our youth-inspired excitement at seeing a professional athlete (seeing Carmelo Anthony sign an $80 million contract after his freshman year when I was a junior and still looking for a non-paid internship sucked this “ignorant bliss” right out of me). So we decided to leave. I was slightly disappointed as I had only recently purchased a limited edition Wayne Gretzky collectors card, from QVC the week prior, expecting to run into Wayne at this event. On our way out I noticed a clamor from the main entrance of the club… out walked Wayne. There standing in front of me was the best athlete of our generation, maybe ever (see yesterday’s post). He looked smaller than he did on the ice, but he moved with the same grace that enabled him to scorch goalies, defenseman and playboy models over the course of his career. We approached him and amazingly, Wayne acknowledged us. The conversation went something like this.

Me: wayne you’re my 3rd favorite player on the Rangers (that sounded like a sweet-nothing at the time).

Wayne: Well thanks kid, I appreciate it, happy to be a Ranger, happy to be here.

Me: Are you going to win the cup this year?

Wayne: I certainly hope so kid.

Me: Can you sign my Wayne Gretzky card (using someone’s name as an adjective is an extremely under-rated use of the English Language).

Wayne nodded his head and grinned a Sports Illustrated cover grin. “Sure I can kid”, he told me. “Just let me put my golf clubs in my car and I’ll be right back.

I broke out a contract, and had Wayne sign it. Well not really but I wish I did so my case for specific performance (seeing as there was no adequate substitute, given that he was the world’s most accomplished athlete). Following behind Wayne was another big fat waste of space that I at the time did not recognize to be Kevin Stevens. Mr. Stevens, if I ever see you again we will have words. And I will look for you. To improve my chances and minimize my time wasted I will not look for you at the Hockey Hall of Fame, in the rafters of the igloo (Penguins arena, now called Mellon Arena), or in the fond memories of any Ranger fans.

So Wayne walked to his car and I waited patiently, excited at the prospects that my piece of paper would have ink from a pen that was improvably held by Wayne Gretzky… really quite an amazing thought. We waited for several minutes. No Wayne. We waited several more. Still no Wayne! Finally, around the circular drive came a Red, rusted I-Roc Z (stevens you trashy bastard). It pulled up to me and my friends and stopped short, the tires smoking and the driver a complete and utter ass.

The passenger window rolled down. Not one of those automatic windows but the ones you had to crank (probably the only exercise Kevin Stevens got that off-season (thanks for your 8 goals and 200 PIMS dick)). Out popped Wayne’s head in the coolest sunglasses ever (as of that moment).

Wayne: Hey kid come here let me sign that!!!

And just as I approached the window the two schmucks started laughing and drove off. I was shocked. I didn’t know whether to laugh (although at that moment I was probably not mature enough to appreciate such awesome crumor (cruel humor). So with my head down, I walked my bike all the way back home, UP TWO HILLS, and threw my Wayne Gretzky card in the garbage. This was my first stand against the pompousness that can so permanently stain an otherwise beautiful sport, like a Bertuzzi punch to the back of the head.

So to this day, regardless of how amazing his accomplishments, I remain one of the few people, that aren’t racist against Canadiens, that actually has a decent reason to, and continues to dislike the one they call the Greyat one.

But Hark! What light through yonder window breaks. Tis the West, and Wayne is coaching the Pheonix Coyotes, the perennial worst team in the NHL. There he is behind the bench every night, betting on games, crafting crappy power play units, making stupid draft day choices (google Blake Wheeler if you’re still reading this article), and slowly tarnishing what up until this very post had been an almost immaculate appearance to the Hockey world. So continue wasting away Wayne. And when you get fired, don’t forget to check your mail, for in it will be an autographed picture of me, with a little note:

Wayne: Thanks for nothing. Hope you enjoy coaching your kid’s Pee-Wee team.

P.S., Janet’s pregnant and it’s a jew.

Other Notes

Girls with boyfriends. Enough said.

Is it just me or is it that the cheaper a hamburger is, the more delicious it is?

How many people really don’t like global warming? Here we are, its mid November and in the mid 50’s. Today I wore a wife beater and a powder blue sean john sweatshirt to school and bicycle shorts and an eye patch. I wore the eye patch because my fro makes me look not scary so I needed to compensate.

Books are such a waste of paper. If we didn’t need books we wouldn’t have to cut down trees. If we didn’t need to cut down trees then we could all live in the jungle, if we all lived in the jungle there would be no point in going to school, if there was no point in going to school we wouldn’t need books… Hop on this reasoning at any station you choose.

There's no place like dome.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Greater One


Post #19 Topic: Why The NHL is Better Than Your Favorite Sport

Today marks the induction into the NHL hall of fame for four great athletes of our time, who together comprise what critics who have been alive longer than I have declare is “the best hall of fame induction class” ever. Of the four players inducted, I know a decent amount about two, and a lot more about the others; first the former.

Al Macinnis had a rifle of a shot. I couldn’t tell you much about his defensive prowess but even as a young kid (during Al’s hey-day), I remember the damage he could cause on his gun from the blue line. 7 times in his career did Macinnis score 20 or more goals, a feat deserving of praise even for some of the NHL’s most respected forwards and centers. In 1991 Macinnis had over 100 pts, which is likewise deserving of significant praise. Add onto that a Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP), a Norris (best d-man), and a Stanley cup championship and you see why Macinnis is considered an important part of this group.

Change of plans, I will save my Ron Francis discussion for last as it is primary to the actual point of this post which my 9 dedicated readers have probably all abandoned reading by now in favor of the other notes below.

For Scott Stevens I will not even refer to wikipedia or espn. As a Ranger fan, my dreams have been haunted by Scott Stevens for years. Stevens was simply one of the most feared predators (not the scrubs from Nashville) to ever lay foot on the ice. He played dirty, he played smart and most of all, he played solid defense. The way the speed players would avoid him (Bure, Bondra to name two) on the ice was indicative of just how feared he was in the NHL. Stevens is pretty much credited with ending the once dominant reign of Eric Lindros. Originally drafted by the Capitals and then signed by the Blues, Stevens was traded to the Devils for 19 year old sniper Brendan Shanahan, in what 20 years later has to be considered one of the most talent-laden transactions in the history of SPORT.

Mark Messier; The Captain; The general of broadway; The moose; The greatest leader of my era in any professional sport; The man who is almost single-handedly responsible for bringing the Stanley Cup back to Broadway after a 54 year absence. The man who retired a Ranger and was then subsequently retired by the Rangers, his number 11 in the rafters until the teams start running out of numbers and need to bring some numbers back down which will be funny and terribly ironic. Messier being traded to the Rangers in 1992 was the reason that I truly became a Ranger fan, an effect that has lingered to this day and will subsequently cause me to flunk law school and become hot dog salesman, which is what I really wanted to do but wasn’t ready for such a fierce commitment after 4 grueling hangovers/years at Syracuse. Mark, when you read this… I thank you.

I saved Ron Francis for last because of a debate I got into this weekend. Before I discuss him I’d like to note that Wayne Gretzky, is the single most accomplished athlete of our time. The difference between his talent level and the next best player EVER, far surpasses equal comparisons in any other sport. Tiger Woods is good, but does not have double the amount of majors as the next best person in his sport… He doesn’t even have the most. Jordan has 6 rings but his numbers compare modestly at best to some of the best Lakers of all time (Kareem, George Mikan (Minneapolis lakers), Wilt and Magic). He’s better than any QB in football, since Brett Farve only recently broke all Marino’s records.

Gretzky had more assists in his career than any other player ever had points. Yes Wayne played with greats like Robitaille, Kurri, and Nick Kypreos (obscure joke), but look at those player’s production after losing Wayne and you can immediately see just how powerful his game was. Wayne scored over 200 points three times… a statistical accomplishment that could only be described as absurd. In 1985 when Wayne has 215 points, the next best performer was Mario Lemeiux with 143, nearly 75 points less. 3rd and 4th? The other two guys on Wayne’s line (one of them his standard DEFENSEMAN. In comparison, to reach similar statistical dominance, When Karl Malone averaged 30 pts a game, Jordan would have had to average 45 to equal Wayne’s dominance.

Which finally brings me to Ron Francis, the NHL’s 2nd all time career assist getter. With more helpers than Yzerman, Lemeuix, Messier and Howe, Francis’s 1229 is both impressive and deserving of the accolades with which he was most recently bestowed (from the sport who owns bragging rights to the world’s most honored and respected championship trophy, and know he did not play women’s water polo). Oh BTW (lol.jk.stfu.com) the great one had 1963 assists. Yes you did indeed just shit your pants. (I happen to strongly dislike Wayne, for reasons which I will withhold till my next post, and yes I call him Wayne and he calls me Daddy).

So what does this all mean? Why is the NHL so darn good? Why should you go out and leave the business in the front but the party in the back? Why should you get your plaid and your shotgun and go duck hunting? Why should you end every comment for which you need approval by saying eh? Because Hockey is back and better than ever. Nevermind that the Rangers, the measuring stick for hockey’s success, are experiencing a ratings boost over 85%, the reason to watch hockey is none other than Sidney Crosby.

I don’t care if you don’t like the Penguins. I don’t care if you think Malkin is better, or Ovechkin more valuable, or Lundqvist more of a story, or Phaneuf more of a “once in a lifetime type d-man” or the Kings the rebirth of West Coast Hockey or the Devils miserable. Sidney Crosby is the single reason that anyone who likes sports should watch hockey.

If a basketball team was going to win 73 games you would watch.

It a football team could once again go undefeated (without cheating and/or being from OUTSIDE BOSTON), you would watch.

If Federer were going for his 7th consecutive major you would watch.

If Tiger picked up a real sport and was nearly as good at it, you would most likely watch that as well.


As an 17 year old rookie on the worst team IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS, Sid had over 100 pts. Last year, as an 18 year old, he became the youngest NORTH AMERICAN ATHLETE TO EVER WIN A SCORING TITLE… INCLUDING WAYNE GRETZKY, the newly anointed 2nd most dominant athlete of our time (in fact, Wayne was quoted as saying that the only person he ever believed could break his amazing records was Sidney.. when Sidney was only 18). That year he also won the MVP, the Art Ross (scoring title), and the Lester B. Pearson (best player in the regular season as determined by members of the NHLPA – the players).

People forget the kind of hype that Eric Lindros got when he came out. Both the Rangers and Flyers completed trades that nearly emptied their rosters to get him from the team the drafted him, the Nordiques. Eventually the Flyers won that sweepstakes, as well as many games until Eric’s career was cancelled faster than Viva Laughlin (I think that was cancelled). As much hype as Lindros got, it was nowhere near that drawn by Sid. When Sid was 14, in 2001, he was already the consensus number one overall pick for 2005.

The scary part about him is that he isn’t even full-grown yet, and already he’s next to impossible to knock off the puck. Even more amazing, at 6 foot, 200 lbs, Crosby can sneak through defenders like Theo Fluery, blast slap-shots like Al Iafrate, and take punishing hits like (my personal preference out of many possible comparisons) Petr Prucha. Crosby will only continue to get better, aided by the fact that his team is getting exponentially better. NEWSFLASH: all of the young guys that the Pens surrounded Crosby with, with the hopes that Sid would make them better have no fulfilled management’s philosophy. And with more youth coming through the system (Kris Letang, potential Norris candidate) to name one, and two more ALL-STAR CALIBER 20 year olds currently on the roster (Malkin who would be a shoe in for an MVP if not for Sid, and Jordan Staal who as an 18 year old lead the league in Short-handed goals), Sid is not going to get the same attention he has been these past few years. Translation: more open looks, more open teammates, more open lanes and less open seats.

Make that far less open seats. People are starting to catch on to just how good he can be. He’s now got his own clothing line, several hefty endorsements, had had his jersey stolen by airport employees three times, and I heard he’s got his own dirty live webcam coming out in February (joke).

So as Ozzy would say, if you’re not watching hockey “youre going off the rails on a crazy train.” And the best part is that Sid is only one of a number of bright spots around the league. So turn to channel 378 (VS network), turn off the volume (worst announcers in sports), and settle down with a Molson, some fries w/gravy and guaranteed healthcare and turn on some hockey, the world’s best game.

Other Notes

She says she got a man but I aint worried. I’m just gonna have to rob that man like Horry.

I’d like to give credit to one of the most under-acclaimed trios in the history of music. On Jimmy Buffet’s cheeseburger in paradise, the three chicks that sing the paradise echo part are really on key and really emphasize just how delicious that cheeseburger that Jimmy is thinking about really is.

I saw Michael Clayton, it should have been called George Clooney.

The next time you hear someone use the word “right up my alley” hit them. This is the single most absurd phrase in the American dictionary (yes the dictionary has phrases, the new one at least, you must have the old one) and really must be removed. All I know is that if I have an alley, I certainly don’t want any of you recommending what I should put up it.