Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Do Sports Love You Back?

In a movie that came out a few years ago that I actually never watched, "Fever Pitch" (that coincidentally was released the same year that the Boston Red Sox actually broke an 86-year-old curse), there is a scene where the main character, Ben, played by Jimmy Fallon (which is reason No. 1 that I never saw the dumb movie), is talking with a kid about some girl trouble that he is having. Ben is completely and utterly obsessed with the Boston Redsox (reason No. 3 that I didn't see the movie). He owns season tickets, and every year baseball consumes several months of his life, which is why he became a teacher. Anyway, he is having trouble with his relationship because he won't commit to the girl played by Drew Barrymore (reason No. 2 that I didn't see the movie), like he does to the Boston Redsox. The scene in the movie ends with the boy asking Ben, "You love the Red Sox, but have they ever loved you back?" With this question, Ben gets peeved, and says, "Who do you think you are, Dr. Phil? Go on, get outta here!" I hear that it's a pretty funny scene, but I doubt it because JImmy Fallon probably looks at the camera and laughs at himself, cause that's what you do in skit comedy if you were SNL in the early 90s which is why it probably didn't happen for him to become the next Adam Sandler or any other SNL cast member who could've had a remotely decent movie career. But I'll save that for another day because I could get into an entire argument on why I hate chick flicks that use sports to suck guys into watching them with their wife. If I am going to watch a stupid chick flick, why not just go all the way and watch "Becoming Jane" or "The Notebook" or anything that involves a wedding because sports and chick flicks do not mix. Do you hear me "Forget Paris," "For The Love of the Game" and "Fever Pitch"?

The reason I bring up this scene, is because lately, I've been growing more and more disappointed with sports, and I feel that I'm not getting back what I put in. I get so emotionally invested in teams and outcomes, that I think it takes a toll. I've heard a joke that says for all the years that raucous Mormons (you go Rich Bucher of ESPN.com) save in our life for not drinking and smoking, we lose those years cheering for the Utah Jazz and BYU Football.

In fact, this year, I expected the Utah Jazz to lose to the Lakers because, why get your hopes up? The Lakers have a higher seed, and as we all know, Jerry Sloan has never coached a team that pulled an upset over a team seeded higher than the Jazz. Sure we've lost about 5-10 of those series (where the Jazz were seeded higher than the team that beats us), but it's never happened for us. But since his teams always "try hard" he gets to keep his job for 21 years because Larry Miller - aka the cheapskate - can underpay him compared to coaches with similar winning percentages.

Why do I do this to myself? Year after year, I will get emotionally invested in a team, only to be let down. The first team I ever followed was San Francisco when I was 9-years old
and I watched them win the Superbowl. I lived in Washington state, what did I know? I just knew they won a big game and Joe Montana was clutch. Had the Cincinnati Bengals won that game, I probably would have thought the names Boomer and Ickey, but then I would have hated the next 20 years as a Bengals fan.

I guess I could have been like all the Chicago Bulls fans and jumped off the bandwagon once Michael Jordan retired.

After all this venting, I am almost done. The glass is almost empty. The light is on. I am this close to just getting away from sports and focusing solely on music. I dunno if Average Joe has it in him, but man, it sucks.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quick Notes

Just a couple of random sports thoughts before tonight's pivotal Game 5 between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers.

1) Lebron James vs. Mommy: Lebron James is "The Man." He has been hyped since his junior year of high school basketball and has totally lived up to the hype. He was awesome as an 18-year old rookie. He carried a crappy team with a crappy coach to the Finals last year over a veteran Detroit team. And on Monday, after he was football tackled into the stand next to his mama (the day after Mother's Day), she immediately stood up and mixed it up with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. You can see it clear as day as Lebron yells at her to "Sit yo a$ down!" Only Lebron! My new hero.

2) NBA Ref Joey Crawford vs. The Spurs: Joey Crawford is "The Man." Twenty seconds ago, I would have said the dude is out of control after his scuffle and finger poking (way out of line) with San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Poppovich last night in New Orleans. This 20-year veteran ref was banned from the NBA for a year after taking it "too personal" with league MVP Tim Duncan. But he was re-instated, but I can't believe they have him reffing Spurs PLAYOFF games after what happened in the past. An idiot move by the league, but then I got to thinking... Joey Crawford is the only referee that won't put up with the antics of the "all-ugly" Spurs with their flopping and whining. Even he can't take it, so he goes out of his way to make their lives miserable because acting and soccer antics cannot be allowed in NBA basketball. So Joey Crawford, this one's one me! Down with the Spurs.

3) The Worst Franchise in the History of Professional Sports: The New York Knicks. Stephon Marbury wants to be a New York Knick again, suprise surprise. Marbury made $20 million last season after missing more than a month for his father's funeral. I think we should nominate an all "Play-When-I-Feel-Like-It" NBA team. My first team includes Stephon Marbury, Vince Carter, Tim Thomas, Zack Randolph and Jermaine O'Neal. Watch out Tim Thomas, Carmelo Anthony is gunning to take your spot next year.

4) Kobe vs. Jordan: I'm saving an entire article on "Why Kobe will never be MJ even though he really, really tries to be" after his bad back antics on Sunday. If there was ever an attempt of re-creating of the famous "flu game" when Jordan torched the Jazz for 38 while "suffering" from flu-like symptoms in 1997, then this was it. Kobe picked which possessions he used his "bad back" as an excuse for shooting 13-33 (including 1-10 from 3-point territory). But mad kudos to the Lakers for sending that game into OT.

5) Derek Fisher: If the Lakers win this series, the difference will be Derek Fisher. He is playing lights out. I am actually glad he asked out of his Jazz contract. I didn't want to spend $7 million a year for a backup point guard until 2010 to wear a Jazz uniform. Deron Wililams and Ronnie Brewer will never have flourished with him still in the lineup, and I'd rather have Korver's 3-point shooting over his. But TNT revealed that he still has to fly to New York every month or so for his daughter's cancer treatments. So, he asked out of Salt Lake to be closer to better medical facilities for his daugher, and then chose the Lakers (more minutes and his original team) because L.A. is closer to New York??????? Good riddance.

6) City of Boston: The more I read The Sports Guy on ESPN.com (my favorite sports writer), the more I come to dislike the city of Boston and their "rabid" fans. But only in Boston could the local newspaper (The Boston Herald) leak a faulty story about videotaping the 2001 Rams walk-through regarding Spygate the week of the Superbowl. Wasn't The Boston Herald working on the 19-0 book??? Serves you right that the Patriots lost to the Giants. Had that leak come from the The New York Times or New York Daily News, that's in"credible" (pun intended) journalism to get into the head of the Patriots. But for that distraction to come from your hometown newspaper? Wow. Really, it couldn't have waited three more days until after the Superbowl so that ESPN could torture us with three straight months of Matt Walsh stories?

7) Tom Brady vs. ESPN: Mad props to New England QB Tom Brady for calling out ESPN, saying that ESPN is like MTV without the music videos, ESPN has become "Sportscenter" without highlights. I know ESPN has room to fill, but I don't need 14 different "experts" (aka people on the Disney payroll) telling me about the same story during "Sportscenter." I'd rather watch more in-depth baseball highlights, and that's saying a lot considering how much I hate baseball now. I get it, Barry Bonds might go on trial in about 6-12 months, but I don't need 10 straight minutes, and three different legal analysts explaining it to me like I am still in the second grade. ESPN's sports monopoly needs a competitor NOW because I am getting the creepy late 90's feeling of Microsoft lately.

8) BYU Football: A high-five to Bronco Mendenhall and the Cougs for suspending senior RB Manase Tonga for the entire year for being academically ineligible. Luckily for Cougar fans, BYU is incredibly deep at running back (with Harvey Unga, Fui Vakapuna, and J.J. Di Luigi), but I do believe that Bronco would have made the call to suspend him even if it had been starting QB Max Hall. That's how strongly I feel about Bronco and the direction the Cougar program is heading.

9) Utah Blaze: In the third year of their Arena Football League, the Blaze started 0-9 and fired and cut every coach and player in site, but they have finally put together two straight wins, and hilariously enough, are still mathmatically in the playoff hunt. Note to AFL: If you want people to take your league seriously, do not allow this to happen! But I can get you a sweet hookup on tix (75 cents) for the final two games if you are interested...

10) I don't have a tenth rant, I just thought a list of 1-9 wouldn't work.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest... Go Jazz!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen: The NBA's All-Ugly team

And this photo doesn't even include Bruce Bowen...

So there are several topics to discuss after one week of the 2nd round of the 2008 NBA playoffs. For one, the commercial with the split screen from players of the opposing teams reading the same teleprompter has already lost its luster. The only cool one remaining is the one with Baron Davis and Adam Sandler promoting the new Adam Sandler movie "Zohan."

But the main focal point of today is, of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs, none of them are a runaway leader. Before the playoffs started most "experts" would have predicted a NBA Finals matchup between the Lakers and the Celtics (because it takes a genius expert to pick the No. 1 seed in both the East and the West).

All teams remaining have weaknesses and they are as follows --

Boston: Can't seem to win a road game. The Atlanta freakin' Hawks tooks this team to seven games in Round 1 because they couldn't take care of business on the road. Bad coaching and "non-clutch" players could spell doom for this team in these playoffs. Lucky for them, they hold home court advantage all they way to the Finals.

Cleveland: This team has the advantage of having the "best player on the floor" until the NBA Finals, but Lebron is having a so-so Round 2. The rest of the team is average, and the coach is below average. The only thing he's done right is center the entire offense around Lebron, which Paul Silas couldn't figure out, which is why Chuckles is no longer coaching in the NBA.

Detroit: The best all-around starting 5 in playoffs with a decent bench, but an injury to former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups, and crappy coaching with Flip Saunders could see this team lose in the Eastern Conference Finals once again.

Orlando: A great coach with Stan "Sonic the Hedgehog" Van Gundy has taken this team really far, but without a premier point guard or interior offensive game, and some bad breaks in Round 2 have this team on the latter edge of the saying "live by the 3, die by the 3."

New Orleans: They did everybody a favor by getting the lil' general "Avery Johnson" fired (even though the guy won 70% of his games), but their confidence was shaken over the weekend. Inexperience and youth may derail this team that is one veteran player away from going to the finals.

San Antonio: The All-Ugly team doesn't represent the ugly mugs, but the ugly style of play as well. But they do have a great coach, the best post-player in the league. Age is a factor, but nobody seems to have told the Spurs that. I can't believe Bruce Bowen got the nod over Shane Battier for the All-Defensive First Team. I guess grabbing, shoving and tripping are now legal in the NBA rulebook, unless you do that to Duncan, Manu, Tony Parker and the soccer-playing defending champions.

L.A. Lakers: Everyone has already crowned them the champs out of the West, except this team hasn't gotten past the first-round since Shaq left, and they are terribly banged up right now. Kobe just hurt his back. Andrew Bynum, Chris Mihm, and Trevor Ariza are out. And, Utah has shown that their bench really isn't all that. Odom AND Gasol have to show up every night, or they are doomed. I think Derek Fisher had more to do to the turnaround of this team more than Kobe's MVP season, and I don't even like Fisher.

Utah Jazz: This team could get to the NBA finals, but as a lifelong Jazz fan, I cannot expect it. I suspect the refs will help the Lakers advance to the next round. Man I hope the Hornets take care of the Spurs. But I feel that with our lineup (from 1-9), the Jazz have the best top-to-bottom rotation in the league, and luckily we have a go-to-player in Deron Williams, something the Jazz never had with Stockton and Malone.

I'll say it here instead of committing and entire blog entry to it. Sloan isn't the greatest coach ever. I know he usually gets the most out of his players. I know that he's been in Utah for 20 years and Miller will never get rid of him, but the guy has never beaten a higher seed, ever. We needed a No. 1 seed to get to the Finals with Stockton and Malone. We have lost our share of playoff series to teams of lower seeds (namely Houston in 1996 and Dallas in 2001), but never have the Jazz won a series that they weren't supposed to win. We've always been competitive, which is why he has kept his job, but we've never sealed the deal. Unless Deron pulls off a miracle, I don't see it happening this year or any year until we have the best record in the league (which could easily happen next year with the current lineup we have)

Ex-Suns Head Coach Mike D'Antoni would have been a much better fit in Utah than in New York, but I guess the Jazz wouldn't rebound the way they do if he were coach.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ben Folds, Kyle Korver, The Office & The Spurs

1) Last week, I had the experience of attending the Ben Folds concert in Salt Lake. I don't consider myself a Ben Folds fan, but a friend invited me so I went. I'd have to say that nothing "rocked" but I guess that shouldn't mean the music wasn't good.

All my friends that went kept saying to me "Wasn't that amazing?" I dunno, I guess. He's a good musician, and his originality of rockin' on the keyboard and singing conversations that took place when his friends got high on acid are something that he brought to the forefront of the music industry.

But I left the show thinking, I didn't love it. The funny thing is: I should be a Ben Folds fan. I have the nerdy white boy look with the glasses, and I EVEN PLAY PIANO. But I guess this nerdy white boy who absolutely looks like a Ben Folds fan is really a rocker trapped into a nerd body. I'm a fan of nerd rock with Weezer, but not Ben Folds. Why? I dunno, I just can't put my finger on it.

2) Same thing goes for Kyle Korver of the Utah Jazz. I should like Kyle Korver. He is a little known player from a small school, who got drafted in the second round of the NBA draft, but has made a nice career for himself with his 3-point shooting skills.

He's an amazing person off the court. He has a good Christian background, and I just discovered that he donates almost one-third of his salary to charity. He's the best shooter the Jazz have had since Jeff Hornacek.

I don't get it. I'm a Jazz fan. I love a story of a good guy off the court who develops into a fan favorite for his ability to come off the bench and knock down 3s. But I can't explain, there's some reason I am not a fan of Kyle Korver.

3) The Office: I realize that everything evolves. The NFL has evolved a ton from what is was 50 years ago. The NBA has evolved. My debit card can now be "swiped" without even being swiped thanks to Visa payWave. One thing I noticed this week, but it never really dawned on me: comedy evolves.

I don't know why it took so long for this to hit me, but comedy is constantly evolving. I was watching "Law and Order: SVU" and Robin Williams was playing a pretty demented dude. Isn't he supposed to be a comedian? Well, all my friends agree that Robin Williams is not funny, but I guess older people thought he was funny when he was on "Mork and Mindy." Now he only gets creepy roles.

But this is why I don't laugh when I watch the "Saturday Night Live" episodes from the 70s and 80s. This is why Adam Sandler is no longer funny. Maybe this is why Dave Chappelle went AWOL after he signed for huge money with Comedy Central. He knew that he couldn't keep up with the ever evolving world of comedy, or maybe he just really, really like drugs...

Anyway, the new wave of comedy seems to fall under the awkward category, hence the new popularity for the NBC show "The Office." Don't get me wrong, I'll watch "The Office" with friends, but I don't go out of my way for it. Maybe this is the same reason my receding hairline grows every day. I can no longer keep up with the new trends in comedy, fashion and music.

I should like "The Office", but for some inexplicable reason, I don't.

4) At last, that brings us to something that pretty much we all hate, but I should like it: San Antonio Spurs basketball. I HATE THE SPURS. I think everybody hates the Spurs for what they have done to basketball this decade, and beating our critically acclaimed Phoenix Suns three of the past four playoffs.

I should like the Spurs. They execute better in the half court than anyone else. They have the best power forward of all-time, and that's coming from a die-hard life-long Karl Malone/Utah Jazz fan. Tim Duncan is the best defender in the post since Hakeem (that's right, Mr. Kevin Garnett). They have excellent coaching, and the best driving point guard since Kevin Johnson. They have role players who know their roles, and they have collected four NBA championships in nine seasons.

But like everybody else in America right now, I hate the Spurs. I hate the fact that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili can fall down on their own and draw a foul; yet Bruce Bowen is allowed to pull, grab, elbow, shove and even kick the opponents best player without a whistle being blown, and people call it good defense.

After watching what happened in Game 5 the other night (even though the Phoenix Suns have nobody to blame but themselves after that loss), I'd be embarrassed to be a San Antonio Spurs fan. They make me so mad, I wanted to kick my cat after the game (don't worry, I didn't).

So there you have it, four things I should like, but for some reason, I don't. I've tried to explain the best I can, but I still feel that I can't give you a logical reason as to why I don't like them.