Monday, August 31, 2009
So Rich Rodriquez allegedly ran players through their paces in excess of NCAA guidelines while at Michigan last year. According to a Detroit Free Press expose (yes, they are still printing) several disgruntled ex-players spilled the beans about Rich-Rod's sadistic schedule.
Could the players just hold a grudge? Naaahhhh. Rich Rod is a man of unquestioned integrity. He's a pillar of honesty and letter-of-the-law kind of guy. (Sarcasm=ON)
On December 16, 2007, Rodriguez informed players at West Virginia that he was leaving to succeed Lloyd Carr as the University of Michigan head football coach. The announcement of his departure came just four months after Rodriguez last renegotiated his contract with West Virginia, and was made despite his stated long-term commitment to the Mountaineers. The contract included a $4 million buyout if he left WVU within one year of the August 2007 signing date.
Of course, when push came to shove, Rich-Rod tried to weasel out of the explicit buyout clause, because hey, why should that apply to HIM?
On the one hand, I know that "everybody does it" in college football. The sport is nothing short of a professional enterprise, only the players don't get squat. You can't have a decent D-1 team if you go specifically by every single little aspect of the rules.
On the other hand, how embarrassing is it that Michigan still went 3-9 with possible extra practice and work?
This would be like the Detroit Lions getting a phone call from Brett Favre in an attempt to reveal sensitive game plans, and STILL getting roasted.
Oh, wait. That did happen.
Yay, state of Michigan! Is there anything else that can go south?
Monday, August 24, 2009
At the risk of sounding like Peter King here, I must give you a Czabe version “Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Tip of the Week.”
11:20 a.m. - Newburyport, NH
We've just jetted down I-95 from Bangor International Airport in our rented mini-van. Me, my wife, my two daughters, and my two nephews. My sister-in-law and her husband got a week at home alone, while the lil' monsters stayed a week longer in Maine to attend camp.
(Note to self: invoice for the kid wrangling once we are home.)
Prior to leaving their retirement cottage in Bar Harbor, I engaged in a spirited father/son-in-law argument over how long it would take to get to Boston for our absurdly cheap JetBlue flight back to Dulles ($89 each way).
I said: “Without traffic, 4 hours or less, no problem.”
Pops, rolling his eyes in disgust, jabbed back... “Look. It's 5 hours, maybe more! Saturday is a 'change day' up here, and there's going to be lots of traffic.”
With my pops-in-law, there is ALWAYS going to be traffic. And with him, the amount of traffic only comes in one size: “alot.”
There is never a “chance” of traffic, or “some” or even “light” traffic. Nope. It's gonna be a lot. Always.
“Dad, it's 244 miles, almost all highway, I checked it on my iPhone” I insisted. “Of course we're not going to sleep in, but I think we are fine.”
My dad threw his hands up and turned away. Serves me right for arguing with a local.
Anyway, back to our trip. We've just clicked through mile 204 and it's time for lunch. Time check: 2 hours and 41 minutes. In my head, I channel my best Degeneration X signature crotch chop with a “SUCK IT!” for my dad.
I do it in my head because I do love him. But I love being right even more.
If I wanted, we could plow through to Logan International and punch a ticket for 3:45 door to door. I could then call him, hand the phone to a stranger with a thick BAH-stahn accent and say: “Here, tell this guy what time it is here.”
Nah. Time to clear the bench and let the scrubs play. No need to run up the score.
PS: Change day traffic was as non-existent as A-Rod in October.
We find a strip mall and decide to try a little franchise place called “D'Angelo's Grilled Sandwiches.” Looks like a stepped up Subway. I'm pumped.
On the menu is a nice array of just what the name implied. Cheesesteaks, meatball subs, cold sandwiches, the works. Nice.
But oh.... hellooooo... what do .. we... have... heeeere?
“Surf and Turf Special: $12.95”
Can you say “5-inch lobster sandwich with 5 inch cheesesteak?”
What a score!
If you've been to the northeast, you've probably had a lobster roll or “sandwich.” It's all the good part of the lobster (i.e. meat) soaked in mayo and stuffed in a special half-roll, half bread cradle. They also throw lettuce in there, but I waive that player like Cuttino Mobley in a 3-team deal before he even takes a physical with my team.
In short, it kicks ass.
But most lobster roll sandwiches around touristy Bar Harbor, run 12-15 bucks alone. This one was every bit as good, but had an awesome cheeseteak thrown in as part of the deal.
I know that 14 bucks is a lot to pay for a “sandwich lunch” but if we had a D'Angelos in my area (and I don't think we do) I might wear that special out. I could easily see myself snagging that double-double 3 or 4 times a week.
Apparently, D'Angelos's is also the “Official” sandwich shop of the Boston Red Sox. And as such, they have a cool logo that reads “Lobster Nation” but with the red socks replaced with lobster claws. If they had a t-shirt with that, I would have bought two on the spot.
Okay, that's all I got. Now, back to random football thoughts like Peter King.
“You know, I think Tom Cable is walking a fine but jagged line of sanity in Oakland, judging by his first month of camp.....”
Man, I should really get a gig like King's. This is fun!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I used to respect Donovan McNabb. A lot.
The more I heard him talk about his role in bringing Vick to the Eagles, the more disgusted I got. And it has nothing – nothing – to do with Vick and his dogfighting.
On that front, the guy has paid a huge price, and one he deserved to pay because of his own arrogance. So I reject Commissar Goodell's micromanaging the return by saying he'll “review” the case at some point about 6 weeks into the season to give him full clearance.
Vick should be cleared to play now. Period.
But he should be brought in to a team for purely football reasons only. Not the mushy rehabilitation theme that McNabb has struck up for a fellow, former Pro-Bowl, black quarterback.
Oh. Whoops. Was that the race card? Sorry. Slipped out.
But since it's on the felt table, let's just play the hand, shall we?
Does anybody really think McNabb would go out of his way to lobby for a competitor to his job if it was … oh.... say.... Jake Delhomme, the disgraced former Super Bowl QB who grew up with dogfighting on the bayou but is now really, really, really sorry?
I didn't think so.
So that's fine, McNabb is on a “help-a-brotha-out” tour here, and that's his own risky game to play. It might work out. Or not.
I see one of the following things happening.
1. Vick returns and is a modestly exciting, part-time, wildcat QB who scores one TD, but otherwise is a non-factor. He stays out of trouble.
2. Vick is used briefly in wildcat situations, is counter-productive, and shelved as the backup. Season ends quietly, never needing him.
3. Vick is used as an injury replacement to McNabb for 2-4 games, and he's.. um... not good. Period. Experiment ends after the season, everybody wishes him luck.
4. Vick is used as an injury replacement to McNabb for 2-4 games and he's... AWESOME! Now, there's serious question about whom to keep going forward.
5. Vick gets in trouble again off the field, everybody is embarrassed, and he's suspended again.
Now from a football standpoint, I just don't see much upside in any of these scenarios. And my gut says that #'s 1&2 are more likely than 4&5 but we'll see.
There is a longshot scenario, one Eagle fan posed to me... It goes something like this: Eagles shine up the rusty quarter, and trade him next year as a good citizen and QB ready to start for a 2nd or 3rd round pick. I doubt this entirely, because of how lukewarm the compensation was for a guy like Matt Cassell without all the baggage.
The bigger picture is this: McNabb has been one of the most prickly, sissy-ish, starting QB's when it comes to looking over his shoulder. A guy who clearly chafed at the Eagles using a #2 on Kevin Kolb, suddenly now is lobbying to bring in Vick?
McNabb's reasons are almost purely personal and social. The whole “he's paid his debt” and I have a “personal relationship” with him things.
From a pure football standpoint, I think the reasons are very fishy, at best.
Amazing too, that McNabb was already nearly on the curb this past season, and for the two years before that.. To think he could actually be successful in bringing Vick in for his own reasons, is a stunner in its own right.
If you are Vick, you better thank your lucky stars that Tony Dungy and Donovan McNabb put so much personal capital into your comeback.
If you are an Eagle fan, however, it's hard to respect McNabb for this move. If the socially minded QB had just been able to hit wide open receivers on crossing patterns last January in Arizona, they might have been in the Super Bowl.
Oh well. Vick's rehabilitation is very important to McNabb, so the fans are just going to have to sit down in back and shut the hell up.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Ha. Fooled, ya. Didn't he?
Well, not me. Or a handful of others in the national sports media.
But he still got about 90% of the suckas out there. In fact, I don't recall a SINGLE “expert” employed by ESPN saying a month ago “hang on, folks. This ain't over, until it's over.”
But I did. In fact, I called it almost exactly. I said: “It's not that he doesn't want to play for the Vikings, it's that he doesn't want to have to go to training camp.”
Well then, look at the timing.
So now Favre enters a whole new orbit of self-absorbed douchebaggery, one in which he will almost certainly retire the trophy forever.
Let me now unload a shag bag of random thoughts about all of this, and let you good folks pick from what you like....
Thought #1: How orchestrated was all of this?
It's possible, that this entire scenario was cooked up from the very first conversation. Get the existing roster used to the possibility of Favre well in advance. Make it seem like it's a really tough decision. Delay, delay, and delay. Ensure he somehow misses camp. Then..... to quote John Madden.. BOOM! There he is!
Thought #2: Good thing the NFL isn't run like most fantasy leagues.
Because if it was, there would be fucking upheaval right now. Let's review: Team A who hold the rights to Player X, refuses to re-install Player X as starting quarterback after he “retires.” Team A also refuses to release Player X outright. (Hey, rights are rights. You'd be nuts to just give them away for nothing). Team A then negotiates trade of Player X to Team B, with strict stipulations. If Team B then turns around and trades Player X to Team C (in Division) then Team B owes Team A THREE #1 draft picks.
So after one year of lukewarm enthusiasm with Team B, Player X decides to “retire” again.
INEXPLICABLY, TEAM B THEN GRANTS PLAYER X HIS OUTRIGHT RELEASE!!!!
Uh, hello. Where the FUCK is the commissioner of this league!? If Roger Goodell ran my fantasy league, he'd have to get an unlisted number at this point.
Do the rules of the league, and player rights by teams mean ANYTHING anymore? Or do certain “superstars” merit transparent end-runs around such rules?
It's clear now that Team B (Jets) knew that it couldn't do anything with Player X because he would only play in the one place that would cost them 3 draft picks, so they just washed their hands.
Roger Goodell. You sir, suck.
Thought #3: When are Sage and Tavaris going to grow a pair?
I'm disappointed that in this day and age of hyper-political correctness in sports, neither one of these guys just flat out said: “This is a joke. The guy is entitled to come here and compete for a job, but at least show up for camp and sweat like the rest of us. Besides, the guy has a torn shoulder that's been stitched back together, and he's faded in the second half of every season the last 5 years. The guy's a legend, but he's had his time. This is a farce. But, whatever. Rah, rah, team.”
So what's the worst that could happen? They release you? Sage has guaranteed money, and you know he's bound for at least another 2 NFL teams before he's finally done holding a clipboard. And Jackson's gonna be cut anyway.
So come out and blast this clown, and earn some street cred with those of us out here who are just begging for somebody in sports to drop the politically correct crap out of fear of being ripped yourself.
Thought #4: Is Peter King capable of being embarrassed?
Think of it this way: nobody throated Favre more than King in the print media the last 10 years. Nobody pretended he was on a buddy-buddy level with Favre more than King. Nobody casually mentioned cell phone calls, or text messages with the guy more than Mr. Coffeenerdness.
And yet.... NOBODY has MISSED this story more badly than King.
It's like he keeps getting scooped, and scooped, and scooped, and scooped. And I wonder: does he know how stupid he looks? Does he care?
Thought #5: Does Favre have an image consultant?
The ultra-dirty hat. The perma-gray-stubble beard. It's such a “good look” for a “legendary” QB who is trying to “turn back the hands of father time” for one more run, isn't it?
Too good of a look?
Did Favre even once think: “You know, I'm reporting to Vikings camp today. Better shower and shave, and at the very least, throw on a decent ballcap.”
Or was it the opposite. “Deanna, get me that grimy cap from the basement! Yeah, that's the one! And here, is my stubble nice and gray? Good....”
So off we go. And sadly, some people whom I am losing respect for by the minute are now proclaiming the Vikings as “the team to beat in the NFC.”
AHEM..... cough... COUGH!.... Ron Jaworski... COUGH....
Rooting against them, and him, will be a sweet pleasure this year.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I've been sitting back on my plastic-weave folding lawn chair the last few weeks, watching Our Dear Leader's health care plan turn into a demolition derby on 5-cent Jack Daniels night at the local dirt track.
Ah, such fun.
Anyway, I came across a nice analogy about how government (big or small) is capable of jacknifing a one-car parade with a VW Beetle when it tries to do anything more than just collect our taxes and keep the lights on in America.
This from "Deconstructing Obama" by Dr. Zero over at Hotair.com.
"The history of price controls and government subsidies is an unbroken tale of misery and failure. Applying price controls to a complex product, such as medicine, is like trying to clutch a fist full of water. The only predictable result will be the dumb amazement of the politicians, when they find themselves trapped in the Jurassic Park of inevitable statist failure, with the laws of supply and demand coming at them like hungry velociraptors."
REACT: Perfect. And it had never crossed my mind. Like Jurassic Park, most government fantasies are scaled to ridiculous proportions, and usually begin to fly apart at the inevitable law of un-intended consequences. (What? The velociraptors have learned how to beat the electric fence? Ohhhh... shit!)
Now, if only we could get Jeff Goldblum to mutter incoherently under his breath about "public options" and "town hall" and "Blue Dogs..." until he's a stark eyed pants quivering mess.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Welcome to my vacation in lovely Bar Harbor, Maine. Where the in-laws are friendly, and the lobster is plentiful.
Or so you would think!
This Wall Street Journal article shows the fallout from the recession. People just ain't buying the luxury crustaceon like they used to!
"Lobstermen are getting paid around $2.50 a pound for soft-shell lobster this summer. Just two years ago, the average price was $4.43, according the state's Department of Marine Resources. Lobster prices often fluctuate, getting higher in the winter when weather conditions make it harder to fish, and lower in the summer. But last fall, prices dropped sharply, and have only slightly recovered."
"They've always said that lobster follows the stock market," because people treat themselves to lobster meals when they're feeling prosperous, said Neal Workman, president of the Fisheries Exchange, a company that advises seafood dealers.
I've always had a love/hate with lobster. On the one hand, I love shellfish. All of them. Especially crab and lobster. But whenever I splurge for some sweet LOB, I end up afterward thinking "that was a waste of money. I should have just dipped some chicken in butter."
I would never, ever, ever eat lobster without the sweet butter dipper. Why? I just wouldn't. Like I wouldn't eat blue crab without little sprinkles of Old Bay spice. So with lobster, perhaps the fish is nothing more than a "delivery system for butter." And an expensive one at that.
I will try to drive a hard bargain this week on vacation in regard to lobster prices. I may just walk up to one of the many local lobster pounds and say: "How about 3 bucks for that lobster. $5 if you cook it for me."
And just see what they say.
In a related story, the alligator skinnin' biz in Loooo-eeeeesssianana aint' doin' too good neither.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Either Rick Pitino is a horrible "friend" for letting his equipment manager marry an emotionally unstable cougar like Karen Sypher, or she's making every thing up. All I know is this: the Pope is canceling his Mega March Madness package at the Vatican.
That said... there's a hot new "dish" in town...
P O R C I N I ’ s
Aged red snapper, stuffed with Italian Sausage,
All you can drink red wine.
* * Only available after normal business hours
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
And one of the best guys I know! Go figure.
Aaron Artru and his band of merry golfing men have bid to play in my foursome at the Bob and Brian Open golf tournament, benefitting the MAACC Fund for 4 straight years now.
They are, in short, a funny-ass bunch of everyday middle-aged married working (okay, a few are laid off currently) dudes who love to drink beer and play bad golf.
Actually, let me check that. The boys played GREAT this year with me!
We were -13 and one shot out of 1st place! Derrick Schultz was ripping drives, Rob Igl was money on iron shots, and Aaron made no less than 5 of our birdie putts, including 3 of the first 4 we looked at!
And there was Brad, who was a newbie in the foursome who wore a PLAIN WHITE T-SHIRT to the event, because he claimed "it was the only thing clean" on his floor that morning!
Great times, and for a great cause.
Now enjoy Aaron's awesome swing, in super-slo-mo courtesy my Casio EFX-1 camera.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Whoa, Billy Mays!
Looks like his sudden and tragic death at the age of 50 was not just "one of those things that could happen to anybody."
Toxicology reports on Mays revealed the following drugs....
and Benzoylecgonine (a byproduct of cocaine).
Which puts Mays into the pantheon of Anna Nicole Smith, Heath Ledger, and Michael Jackson in terms of being a walking pharmacy.
Not that we are a nation that is on a runaway train of anti-depressant use and plastic surgery. Naaaahhhh....
There was this nugget I read recently which stuck in my head...
The number of Americans taking antidepressants doubled to 10.1 percent of the population in 2005 compared with 1996, increasing across income and age groups, a study found. An estimated 27 million Americans ages 6 and older were taking the drugs by 2005, while their use of psychotherapy declined, according to Columbia University researchers. The findings highlight the need for doctors who are not psychiatrists and prescribe the medicines to be trained to diagnose and manage depression so patients get the most effective treatment, said the study’s lead author.
Now, let me be clear. I know plenty about this subject from first hand experience. While I am not on any mood altering drugs, I know several extended family members who are. And trust me, they are LIVE SAVING, quality enhancing miracles.
You can't just say "take a brisk walk and think happy thoughts."
That said, the increasingly easy recreational use of these drugs does seem to be picking up tempo. And if you are rich, famous or both, you can certainly "afford" to start poppin' the pills like tic-tacs.
Until you drop dead, that is.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Recently, when Barack Obama was pushing the challenging but - he thinks - do-able task of re-arranging massive aspects of the entire health care industry in America, he invoked the Apollo 11 space mission to use as a comparative rallying point.
Uhhhh... try again.
To think that the Apollo 11 mission and ObamaCare are comparable in the least, is a joke. Analogy = FAIL.
The reasons are simple.
Yes, it took Uncle Sam's wallet to fund NASA and the people in charge of putting us on the moon. Yes, it took JFK's stated mission to land on the moon as a generational challenge to official put us on the clock. Yes, it also took Russians working hard in their own backyard on the thing to prompt us along.
But after all that, it took a room full of extremely smart - likely, brilliant - scientists and mathemeticians to get Messers Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins up and back without a scratch.
The people who populate Congress are not that smart.
Not by a moon shot.
On a good day, our politicians are stupid, lazy, corrupt, and horny. Don't ask about all their other days. The men in charge of the Apollo 11 mission wake up smarter than 99% of us will ever be on our best day.
Plus, the moon landing was relatively simple compared to overhauling the most complex part of our trillion dollar economy. Moon landings are math. Health care is complicated choices, the vagaries of personal habits and genetics, and limited resources.
Lastly, whether or not Neil Armstrong came back to earth as a national hero, or a crispy burnt chicken nugget in a tin can, didn't matter personally to every working person in America. Sure, we'd have been sad. Very sad. But we'd press on. Like after the Challenger disaster.
The cost of botching Apollo 11 was relatively low. Would we be embarrassed as a nation? Maybe. Would we lose some good, good men? Maybe. But in all likelyhood, we'd have a line of even braver men volunteering for the next mission to the moon, because that's how we roll.
And we'd have figured it out.
Good luck on fixing our complex health care system if the Democrats succeed in breaking it totally. Is it perfect now? Hell no. Nobody said that. But government's ability to complete fuck something up, is beyond debate.
Rasmussen Reports said back in February that "voters strongly agree with the perspective that “No matter how bad things are, Congress can always find a way to make them worse.” Fifty-eight percent (58%) share that view, and only 26% disagree."
This was before the $787 StimuFail package, and the now hilarious dog-chasing-his-tail economic policy of "Cash for Clunkers."
So stop the moon landing thing. As an analogy, it blows up on the launch pad. Government didn't put us on the moon, scientists did. And we paid for it anyway.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Athletes will sometimes scold the fans by saying "It's not all about the numbers."
That usually lasts right up until same athlete produces numbers that he and his agent now claim are the keys to Fort Knox.
Consider the case of Redskins free agent defensive end Andre Carter. David Elfin of the Washington Times has an interesting take on this Dan Snyder purchase that is neither boom nor bust.
Carter defies easy classification on the free agent scorecard.
On the one hand, he's a noticeable liability against the run. He has produced double-digit sacks just once since arriving, and there have been few games where any Redskin fan has raved "Man, Carter is just dominating this game!"
On the other hand, he hasn't missed a game since arriving here, and has been no worse than tied for the team lead in sacks at the end of each year, and the 8th best run defense couldn't have sucked that much with him starting every game last year at defensive end.
Personally, I like Carter. I like his attitude, he sense of responsibility, the fact he won't duck the media, and is cut like a Roman football god. And as far as Danny/Vinny free agent purchases go, he's not even close to being in the Bottom 10.
That being said, I must take exception to this quote from defensive coordinator Greg Blache: "People base success on sacks alone, and that's not what it's about," said Blache, who added that Carter led the team with 16 hurries and was often just a half-step late. "We're trying to make something that's mostly an art into a science. Putting numbers to it just doesn't work. They didn't paint the Mona Lisa by numbers. They didn't paint the Sistine Chapel by numbers. Numbers are for the idiots that can't paint."
In the case of defensive ends in the NFL, I actually DO think it's pretty much all about your ability to get to the quarterback and take him down. Period. Just like a wide receiver's job is to catch the ball and get into the end zone. Period.
Some positions are more nuanced in the NFL, but not defensive end. Get to the damn QB and cause havoc.
Sure, you can't be just a coin-seeking stat whore like Bruce Smith was in his dying days. You have to be CREDIBLE against the run. But few defensive ends in this league brag about themselves as being all about stopping the run. Those guys are called "back ups."
I also realize how freaking hard it is to actually register a sack. With all the pass-ditching-friendly rules in place now, the absurd narrowing of the QB's "strike zone", and advent of shot-gun based West Coast offenses with snap releases, I'm amazed anybody can record 10+ sacks in a year.
But it does happen, and guys that can do it (Jared Allen, Jevon Kearse, et. al.) can pretty much mint their own gold coins.
We shall see what kind of year Carter has this season. Can he go another 16-for-16? Will newcomer Brian Orakpo steal sacks from him, or generate more chances by blitzing from the LB position?
Will Haynesworth's numbers be modest, while Carter's explodes?
In all, a good read, and worthy football "food for thought."