Happy Thanksgiving

28 11 2008

To those of you in the USA…


One laptop per child? Tom Brady thinks so!

25 11 2008

Another piece sent to me… a worthy cause, so I’ll throw my weight behind it (not that my blog’s weight is that considerable… but anyway).

New York, NY – November 19, 2008 – Dailymotion, one of the world’s largest independent video entertainment websites, and One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education in the developing world, today announced a holiday contest to support OLPC’s Give One, Get One campaign.
The contest, which runs from November 17, 2008 to December 15, 2008, calls for Dailymotion users to upload original commercials for the Give One, Get One campaign. One winning commercial will be selected from among the submissions. Along with bringing greater attention to this important campaign, the winning commercial will be aired on a major network/cable TV channel during the period of December 15th to December 31st.
Read the rest of this entry »

How the A.D.D. generation led to the best trade deadline ever

5 08 2008

Anyone who was following the blogosphere at around 4:30 Thursday afternoon was overwhelmed with information, snap judgments, and arguments over winners and losers. Andrew Johnson at FanHouse put it best:

Take a deep breath, baseball fans. The dust has settled after another trading deadline, and what a deadline it was. Three future Hall of Famers were moved. So was a reigning Cy Young winner and two former All-Stars. And we haven’t talked about Rich Harden yet. Undoubtedly, 2008 was the most entertaining trading season in recent memory for baseball fans.

Baseball trade deadlines are notorious buzzkills. While hockey usually sees dozens of moves at this time of year, and basketball is not immune to some major names switching hand both at the deadline and in the offseason. But baseball is always more conservative. Just two years ago the Nationals couldn’t even trade Alfonso Soriano while he was having his career year in a pitcher’s park. So why did this year nearly give Peter Gammons another aneurysm?

As weird as it may sound, the same forces may be in play that explained why this past year was the the worst year for quarterbacks in recent memory in the NFL. When a sport gets parity, as baseball has of late, the pressure is on to compete as soon as possible. Combine that with a cultural that has undeniably developed a shorter attention span, and you’ve got players being traded from losing teams even when they have multiple years left on their contract.

To understand how topsy-turvey this year’s trade deadline was, consider this: the Pirates may have had the best deadline of anyone. They certainly acquired the greatest quantity of talent, and with top prospects like Jose Tabata and Andy LaRoche, they may have gotten quality as well. Or consider how the Red Sox, in making without a doubt the biggest headlines by trading the second greatest right-handed hitter of a generation, may have just broken even at the deadline. It seems that losing is not an option for anyone anymore, even for the Pirates, who haven’t had a winning season since Barry Bonds had a mustache.

It used to be that when a quarterback was drafted, he had a good 3-4 years to prove himself. The team was built around him and pieces were brought in to make the quarterback better. But considering that Alex Smith has had four offensive coordinators in four years, or that the Texans refused to improve their offensive line after drafting David Carr, and suddenly the quarterbacks to blame, and they’re out of a job. Could similar forces be behind why just about every quality player on a losing team became available, from Matt Holliday to Joe Blanton? Is there any way Mark Teixeira has helped anyone by being on 3 teams in 1 year?

This argument is a dangerous one to make on a blog. It sounds like its dangerously close to Ted Stevens or—dare I say it—Buzz Bissinger territory. But it’s possible to make an argument that we’re more distractable and less patient without calling it the downfall of Western Civilization. Yes, we’re less likely to focus on a single subject, and that has effects on how we watch sports. That can just be a description—no judgment call judgment call necessary.

In this case, it has actually led to an awesome story. For the first time in years, the MLB trade deadline transcended the sports world, as the slew of moves and the trade of Manny Ramirez made international headlines in addition to just the sports section. Baseball has gotten as crazed and fast-moving as everything else in the media world. Don’t think of it as something special.

A year in review, here

2 06 2008

In celebration of the first year down of blogging here, posting the top 10 posts (hits-wise) written here over the past year.

10. Japan vs Australia (Asian Cup) – Liveblogging [July 21, 07]
Thus far my only live-blogging experience…

So thus far, no-one wants to be the favourite heading into this game, and both teams have turned it into a veritable love-fest, competing to see who can say the most ‘nice’ things about each other.

9. Not what the doctor ordered [May 27, 08]
A review of the amazing run the Boston Celtics have enjoyed this year…

It’s pretty amazing how far the Boston Celtics have come in just a season.
To think, this time last year they were parked in their barca-lounges, watching the Cleveland Cavaliers, the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavs & Detroit Pistons strut their stuff.

8. Understanding Rugby: The Haka [August 6, 07]
Written just prior to the Rugby World Cup, a look at one of the most recognizable aspects of the game…

With the Rugby World Cup just around the corner, With Malice… will explore some of the history of the game. Today, the haka.

7. Death of a boy… what the hell is going on in Sumo? [September 29, 07]
Writing about the biggest threat to sumo – their refusal to leave behind antiquated and sometimes barbaric practices, and a death that resulted from their ‘training methods’…

A 17 year old’s death raises many question in Japan’s oldest sport…

Takashi Saito joined the Sumo Training House (stable) in early May, a little over a month later… he was dead.

The death of Takashi Saito on June 26th should just not have happened.
There is no way anyone can justify the slaying of a 17 year old boy during a training session, especially within the circumstances that Saito died.

6. Carnival of the NBA, #46 [July 16, 07]
The very, very well run carnival (kudos to Matt @ Blog a Bull) which I was fortunate enough to host in July of last year.

A cold dark shadow crept across the land, it’s chilling touch reaching out to everyone. A… void… an absence of a loved presence. Yes indeed children, the NBA season has drawn to a close. But do not fear – there are a few, a few brave souls who continue to strive for all that is good, just, and… basketball.

5. Olympic Dreaming – ’92 Dream Team vs ’08 Olympic Squad… part 1 [December 7, 07]
A question to rival the best of the bar-stool conversations… a round-table discussion with several other blogs involved.

Not so far from today, the 2008 US Olympic Basketball Team will attempt to restore Olympic glory to American hoops… and it’s definitely an undertaking that everyone concerned has taken with a great deal of sincerity and application.
Are they good? Undoubtedly.
Can they win the gold? I think so…
But, how good are they? How do they measure up against the yardstick of all basketball, the 1992 US Olympic Men’s Basketball Team: The Dream Team…

4. Beach Volleyballer – Angela Crewe [July 10, 07]
An interview with an aspiring pro-beach volleyballer, Angela Crewe.

Quite a few years ago, I coached volleyball at a high school in Australia. Most of the athletes I coached don’t play any more, but a few do. One who does is Angela Crewe, who now plays beach volleyball in Australia. Angela is ranked #13 in the Nation, and is generally acknowledged to be the best player in her home state of Victoria – last season being crowned the MVP for the Victorian Women’s tour.

3. Letter from an anonymous NBA star… [August 9, 07]
Bit of a satirical commentary on the state of play for one particular player – I’m betting he’s glad his desires were never realised…

For this story, I’ve edited out the names of players/teams as to protect anonymity. Due to computer problems, I had to use a sharpie.

So, I’m a huge Obviously this is just part of a satirical commentary fan. Huge. So it’s really disappointing for me to idly sit around whilst they do… nothing. So I sent a letter to are they going to add ANYTHING? in the hope that maybe he could shed some light on the situation. This is actually the third in our series of correspondence, but I thought I’d share.

2. NBA Franchises As TV Shows, Redux… [March 5, 08]
A satirical look at the state of a few different franchises within the NBA…

The San Antonio Spurs – The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
Err… huh?Everybody says it’s an awesome show, and it definitely gets the job done. However, it’s difficult stay awake for the duration of a single broadcast.

1. Olympic Dreaming – ’92 Dream Team vs ’08 Olympic Squad… part 2 [December 10, 07]
Part 2 of the same series that is #5 on this list. Had a lot of fun organising this…

Here we go again, round 2… and ‘twould seem most are well in favour of the ‘92 squad. And given the places that esteemed group hold within our hearts & minds, is it so surprising? So, today – we get the thoughts of TWolves Blog, MVN Born and Raised, Signal To Noise, Storming the Floor, Forum Blue and Gold, The Sports Lounge, All Ball Sports Blog, Ballhype and my own opinion on this matchup…

That’s my top 10 for the past year… not necessarily my all-time favourites, but they are the ones that were most read. And if you’re reading now, thanks for the year. There’ll be more…

Sportscasters – The Blogosphere’s Top 10

31 01 2008

The sports site, Sports Media Challenge took on a massive task to get a list organised as to who bloggers thought were the most influential sportscasters. The resulting Top 10 was:

  1. Marv Albert - most influential?Marv Albert
  2. Bob Costas
  3. Peter Gammons
  4. Jon Miller
  5. Gus Johnson
  6. Al Michaels
  7. Dan Patrick
  8. Mike Tirico
  9. Dick Enberg
  10. Chris Fowler

Whilst I voted for Tirico, my top choice – Scott Van Pelt didn’t rank. Oh well…

Quotes from around the web on various sportscasters…

John Madden – “Madden might be a grammatically incorrect bovine-like figure, but his video games have allowed him to be one of the most followed voices in sports. If you’re able to understand what he has to say, you’re likely to agree with him.” Lion in Oil

“It simply doesn’t feel like a big baseball game if Joe Buck isn’t doing the play-by-play. He is the voice of October baseball to my generation. It’s just too bad he gets paired with Tim McCarver, who is simply terrible.” Phinsider

“Known for having Starbucks cappuccinos IV’d into his body during games, the ultra-frisky Johnson is actually quite enjoyable – when taking massive amounts of barbiturates. No, seriously, every March Madness game needs to be announced by Gus Johnson.” The Sports Hernia

“As a fan, Peter Gammons is one of the few sportscasters I’ll actually stop what I’m doing to listen to. The best thing about Gammons is nothing appears forced. He legitimately seems to love baseball and conveys a sense of pure joy that he’s actually getting paid to do what he does.”Maize n Brew

The likeable Mike Golic… sans GreenbergMike Golic – “When Golic’s not around partner Mike Greenberg, he’s insightful, blunt, and discusses sports with a bar-room honesty that is eminently likeable. When with Greenberg, hit that off switch.”With Malice…

“Brent Musberger – Always makes a game feel more important.” Joe Sports Fan

Marv Albert – “Best NBA guy ever, he also does a great job on the radio during NFL Games. Some legendary calls over the years…”YESS!!!!!”…” NFL Gridiron Gab

“Something about Josh Elliott and Scott Van Pelt reminds me of the ‘old’ days of Sportscenter, where the announcers are having fun, but not in an over-the-top, must-use-a-catchphrase manner.” The Big Lead

“The greatest announcer since Jesse “the Body” Ventura, Marv’s so good he can even make a Nets game watchable and make Continental Airlines Arena not feel like a 20,000 seat morgue. Marv should be broadcasting the NBA Finals every year until he doesn’t feel like doing it anymore. He’s the voice of basketball and should be treated that way, plain and simple.” The Sports Hernia

“Marv Albert is the bomb. Soooo good on NBA calls, as well as football on the radio with Boomer. I’d take Marv any day of the week, any sport. His 90s NBC telecasts were something I’ll always miss.” Behind the Steel Curtain

Trippin’ Bill Walton“Bill Walton. So over the top he’s a trip. Or should I say a long strange trip (it’s been).” Restrictor Plate This

Chris Fowler- “Host of the best sports show on TV, ‘College GameDay’, he was able to cover the BCS Title Game, rip the Pac-10 and Big 10 for refusing a playoff discussion, then go to the Australian Open. Fowler’s tennis work may actually be better than his college football work.” Alligator Army

“Bob Costas – Kind of an uninspired choice, but the guy really does a great job. Whether he’s doing Olympic stuff, the NBA, baseball, football… Costas never seems out of his depth or uninterested. He’s probably the most well rounded sportscaster I’ve ever watched.” Bleeding Green Nation

“Brent Musburger – Yeah, I know a lot of people can’t stand the guy. But when you hear his voice, you know that you’re probably watching something important. I can almost envision going out to dinner with the guy. . .”You are looking live. . .at a steak! And a baked potato! This might be the greatest steak in culinary history, ladies and gentlemen!”…” Daily Norseman

“James Brown – This guy could host anything and make it work. JB is a true television veteran and a class act. He always brings a level of intellect to a program that none of his peers can match.” Deuce of Davenport

“Barry Melrose: I’m a casual hockey fan, but I could see myself drinking 12 and listening to him tell stories. And he has great hair.” Busted Coverage

“Ron Jaworski. THE only football analyst with brains and personality. Infectiously geeky, always analytical without being obtuse, and perfect at what he does. Hyperbole does not cover how good he is at what he does.” Every Day Should Be Saturday

Annoying? SAS… “I will be shocked if [Stephen A. Smith] makes your list, unless ‘influence’ means ‘influenced me to change the channel.'” Dan Shanoff

“Marv Albert is an all-time great who’s fallen off his game recently, plus there’s the whole women’s underwear and biting thing that costs him respect.” With Leather

“[Bill Walton’s] speech is condescending. His voice sounds like he’s just returned from a month long stay at an Amsterdam “coffee” shop. His opinions are generally off the cuff instances of the first thing that leaps into or out of his mind.” Camden Chat

“I can’t stand Mike Tirico. I appreciate that he’s low-key, but he’s also boring as hell.” Third Quarter Collapse

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Don’t Get Caught

28 01 2008

Written in conjunction with a piece up at Epic Carnival, HALL OF MIRRORS: GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN SPORT

Don’t give it to me straight…My son’s coming up on his 1st birthday.
And I look forward to the years ahead, where hopefully he and I can share a love of sport.
I fully intend to give him every advantage in his formative years by teaching him to lie, cheat and commit almost any act of deceit to win… to quite literally be the ‘best he can be’. I mean, that’s what sport’s all about, isn’t it?
Winning at any cost. Literally, any cost.
Isn’t it?

Is it?

Obviously, the above comments were made merely for effect, and I do hope to instill the same sense of ‘fair play’ as I was given when I first started playing sport. It’s something we all try to introduce to our offspring…
Fair play.
Being just.

We were all brought up to believe that cheating is bad.
That winning at any cost is too high a cost.
Or do we?

Then how do we reconcile ourselves with the fact that cheating goes on every day in Professional Sports, and Players Associations in each of the major sports actively protect it. I cannot fathom why a Players Associations – for any professional sport – would fight against having the strictest testing put in place. If your sport’s participants are supposedly on the whole, ‘clean’ (as they all assure us they are), then not having the most stringent tests available works against the vast majority of membership.

Yet time and time again, ‘Big Sport’ Player Assoc. fight tooth and nail to keep testing as lenient as possible.

Major League Baseball had to be dragged virtually kicking and screaming to develop a more comprehensive performance enhancing drug policy.

The demise of innocence…There’s no way in hell that baseball as a collective unit were unaware of steroids prior to the new millennium, but they were all more than happy to sit back and ride the cash-wave that occurred in the McGwire/Sosa-fueled renaissance.
It took Congressional hearings in 2005 for Baseball to clean house. And even now, it appears that some of the biggest issues to face baseball are yet to come.
How to deal with what may come out regarding Bonds and Clemens…
Will Clemens face the same degree of cynicism that Bonds has faced, and if not, what questions will that raise?…
* How should this era be remembered?
Should the entire era be asterisked?

One thing is for sure. The lessons being taught by today’s athlete isn’t necessary the one it should be.

Don’t get caught.

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Shots Across The Bow, With Malice

14 01 2008

Lots going on in sports, especially Down Under, and lots of stuff happening with the big 3 US sports… time for some commentary.

  • NFL – the NE Patriots have to be happy about the big favour San Diego did them. I had Indianapolis penciled in as the only team with an outside chance to beat New England. Does anyone really think that the Chargers can get it done?
  • Strahan…The Giants came good at the right time – beating Dallas 21-17, and despite America’s team amassing a 13-3 record this season, will it be enough to save Wade Phillips’ job?
    Jason Garrett was hired with an aim to eventually have him as head coach… but unless they pay him the money to keep him in Dallas, there are ample jobs out there – and both he & Tony Sparano will be interviewed for them.
    From my perspective, I think that’d be pretty tough to dump Phillips after a damn good season, regardless of the result in the playoff departure. Jones is no fool, and will keep the low-key Phillips. For the Cowboy’s sake, he should pay Garrett to keep him in Dallas. Sparano will probably depart tho’…
  • NBA now… I copped a bit of flack around the various sporting networks on my condemning of the Chicago Bulls in NBA Opinions With Malice – Sweet Home Chicago… ummm… but post recent developments in Chi-town, could anyone doubt that there are still huge problems with the Bulls? The players have taken over, with a ‘veteran’ guard who barely plays 3 minutes a game (Adrian Griffin) and an over-the-hill, over-paid center (Ben Wallace) seemingly taking the reigns.
    The suspension of Joakim Noah for yet another game by player-vote, is out of line. So is the 21 point loss to Atlanta.
    Bulls fans aren’t happy, and if Paxson doesn’t fix this soon – and decide where this team is headed (playoffs or lottery), then it will cost him his job.
    And rightly so.
  • The situation involving Brian McNamee & Roger Clemens is getting over the top. Clemens macho posturing and constant story changes, when held against the backdrop of McNamee’s consistency really doesn’t help me believe the Rocket… reminds me quite a bit of
  • ‘Monkey-gate’ in Australia at the moment. Harbhajan/India continually change the story regarding what happened during the 2nd test at the SCG, whilst Andrew Symonds steadfastly holds to his story that Harbhajan Singh called him a ‘monkey’… thus fueling a furor not seen for many a year in cricket.
    Oh wait… we saw it but a year ago when India/Pakistan made early exits from the ODI World Cup. Ho-hum…
  • Paceman Brett Lee should enjoy the WACA wicket…On this, it’s disappointing that when I’ve tried to engage some cricketing blogs on this, comments (any?) don’t go up if you’re not in agreement with the blog’s viewpoint… pity that.
  • The 3rd test between Australia and India starts this week in Perth, and the WACA’s wicket is a paceman’s dream. Cannot see this game going too long
  • Bizarre stuff at New York Knicks, huh? Comes to the point where everyone things that it’s pointing to Dolan actually growing a pair and sacking Isiah, and then the Knicks absolutely DESTROY the Detroit Pistons, 89-65! Not entirely sure that’s a good thing for the franchise…
  • Houston’s woes continue with a loss to New Orleans. No shame in being beaten by the Hornets this season, but the Rockets have to start winning soon, if they’re to make the playoffs.
  • The now-injured Andrew BynumLakers/Memphis game just finished with the Lakers only just managing to eke out a win 100-99, and Andrew Bynum suffered a knee injury…
    Terrible stuff, and this when he was playing soooo well… It also resulted in Kwame Brown playing 25 minutes of awful stuff on Pau Gasol. Scores are equal, and Brown misses A DUNK with less than 10 seconds to go that would’ve put LA up by 2. Gets free throws, and does get the one that wins it, but misses the second to give the Grizz a shot… Hell, given Brown’s a 38% foul shooter, I should be happy he got the ONE!  Egads man, egads.

That’s all for now… yours in sports!

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