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Archive for September, 2008

I figure they’ll probably win the division.  And even if they blow it somehow, which they totally can, because they’re the Phillies, they’ll probably get the Wild Card.  Post-season ho!

Which is great, except for the whole thing about how the Phillies are completely incapable of dealing with the post-season.  They were red-hot going into October last year, but suddenly it was like they’d shown up for dinner without pants.  It was awkward and painful and not over quickly enough.

But I figure they can probably beat the Dodgers in the division series.  At least, if someone breaks Manny Ramirez’s kneecaps.  I don’t know where you could possibly find any volunteers for that job.

And then, in this scenario, they face the Cubs or the Mets.  Probably the Cubs.  (On a related note, the Cubs have the best record in the National League, and I don’t know how this blog hasn’t addressed that yet, because it’s absurd.)  Can we beat the Cubbies?  Maybe?  Can we stand in the way of destiny?  Would that be too awesome for Philadelphia to handle?  I think so.

I cannot even contemplate a World Series appearance at this stage, because I grew up with Philadelphia sports.  But I’ve laid in tissues and liquor, so whenever they decide to give up the ghost, I’m ready.  On the plus side, those also work for tears of joy and awesome victory parties!

As a foil to all this fatalism, I present to you Chase Utley, because he is totally dreamy.

Totally cute enough for the World Series...right?

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Brian Urlacher doesn’t scare me.

He should scare me. He’s large, bald, and possibly a Neanderthal. He could probably eat me.

He is also a wife-beater. What kind of scared, pansy-ass lunatic fails to get all his rage out as a god damn NFL linebacker, and so needs to come home and take it out on a woman? My theory is that steroid use has shrunken his manhood, as well as his brain. He deserves to be maced in the face, given a wedgie, and stuffed in a locker.

Pansy.

Pansy.


And he’s not the only one. Dozens of professional and college athletes can’t seem to avoid raping or beating females. Seriously, is this how you go about feeling manly? Do the world a favor, and pick on someone your own size. Say…anyone on any professional football team. Except the kickers.

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No, I’m serious.  It’s definitely not lamer than baseball.  No, it’s not.  I don’t think baseball is lame.  But if you also do not think that baseball is lame, you can’t think that cricket is lame.

First off, it has a lot more variation than baseball.  As in, when the ball is played, it can go 360 degrees, not this paltry American 90.  Also, the ball bounces before it reaches the batsman.  It’s still going anywhere from 55 to 90 miles an hour.  Gosh.

Also, the wicket makes a hell of a lot more sense than the strike zone, sorry.  I know that in theory the strike zone is well-defined, but I’ve seen too many people go into a towering rage over strikes and balls that that doesn’t really hold much water.  (The leg-before-wicket rule is analogous, but, again, there is actually a target; in addition, it comes into question much less often.)

I hear he sang Blue Suede Shoes when they won the Ashes.

I hear he sang "Blue Suede Shoes" when they won the Ashes. Instead of "Jerusalem."

Another thing is that you have more than one bowler per match.  And by this I mean more than one bowler on the pitch at the same time, not that the first one gets relieved by an ever-increasing string of lesser bowlers.  This means that you can’t write off the bowlers’ batting, as you can with a pitcher.

This gives rise to the “all-rounder,” or a gentleman who can both bowl and bat.  To the left is Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, recently come off an ankle injury and largely credited with England’s dominant performances in the One Day Internationals against South Africa.  I hear he’s good-looking.  I don’t see it myself, but I present him for your delectation anyway.

Now, I realize that baseball also has players who are good in attack (batting) and defense (fielding).  Your shortstops, your second basemen.  It’s true.  But  Cole Hamels is wildly exceptional for being a pitcher and hitting .243.  He was pulled off the bench to pinch-hit once.  (This blew my mind and didn’t actually work, but it did happen.  Also, you can make the argument that he’s hitting for better average than most of the Phillies.  True.  In 70 at-bats.)

Mr. Flintoff, by contrast, is counted on for at least two wickets and at least 60 runs every match.  This is, as you can see, a qualitatively different attitude.  I’m not saying that there are not bowlers of whose batting we have despaired.  Monty Panesar comes to mind.  I merely point out that you can’t have five of them at a time.

See?  Theyre actually athletes.

See? They're actually athletes.

Cricket’s not boring.  There’s speed in the bowling.  And bounce!  How can that be boring?

Fielding can be spectacular.  You think a shortstop is close to the batter?  Try the slips, which are, say, three to five yards from the batsman.  Cricket fielders lay out to stop boundaries, and they leap to make catches.  Just because they wear white does not mean they’re not playing a sport.

Plus, English cricketers, though they may be skinny and pale, can be pretty darn cute.  Current favorite is Stuart Broad (to the right), who, if you can get past his disturbing resemblance to Draco Malfoy, is totally dreamy.  Add to that his excellent bowling and his surprisingly good batting, and you’ve got quite the complete package.  He is from Nottinghamshire and probably has an utterly dreadful accent, but I suppose you can’t have everything.

Seriously.  Cricket.  Check it out.

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Tom Brady’s knee exploded.

Ouch.

Ouch.

I have a confession to make.  Every time I think about Tom Brady’s injury, I do a little dance.  I’m not proud of it.  I wish I could be a better person about this.  I mean, usually when any player gets injured, I feel some sort of pang.  When it’s Marvin Harrison, I’m downright sad.  When it’s Donovan McNabb–actually, I don’t feel that one any more; the scar tissue has built up too much.  The point is that I don’t need a personal connection to the player to feel sorry for him, and sometimes I can even dislike him.

But in Tom Brady’s case all I could feel was happy.  Not so much that he’s injured, because I sprained my knee once and it hurt like the dickens, and that was just through my own stupidity, not because a large man landed on it.  But it makes me happy to know he won’t be playing this year.

Don’t get me wrong.  The most desirable scenario would be a Tom Brady who inexplicably started to make a giant sucking sound.  Starting every game, and then spending half of his time lying flat on his back and the other half looking dejectedly downfield as the Miami Dolphins celebrate their fourth interception of the game.  That would be the best solution.  Now Boston gets to whine that it was a late hit, or it was on purpose, or that clearly they would have gone undefeated this year, just like they did last year only that upstart Manning kid didn’t read the script right and thought he was the hunky, legendary quarterback.

Also?  Quarterbacks get injured, sorry.  It’s not unfair.  It’s the way things are.  In my formative years, Randall Cunningham broke his fibula.  This broke my heart.  When I desperately wanted Pittsburgh to be eliminated from the playoffs three years ago, they destroyed Carson Palmer’s knee.  Did the Eumenides gather?  No, they did not.  Suck it up, guys.  It happened to Bledsoe.  Now it’s happening to Brady.  Sorry for your pain.  Go cry into your Super Bowls.

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Cycling gets a bad rap.

When we talk about cycling, we talk about drugs. This isn’t fair.

Read my lips (or, you know, my words): Performance enhancing drugs are not more widespread in cycling than in other professional sports. Really. They’re not.

Why, then, do we hear about it so much more with cycling? Because cycling, as a sport, actually gives a damn, whereas football or baseball, for example, do not. The Tour de France knows the whereabouts of every single rider, every single hour of the day, so that random drug tests may be administered anytime, anywhere. People get caught, and people get thrown off the tour, and we hear about it. It’s not because a greater percentage of cyclists are doping; it’s because a greater percentage of cyclists are getting busted, because the community actually cares.

I'd buy these shoes.

I'd buy these shoes.

This, of course, raises the question, why do they still do it? Because you can’t win if you don’t. Lance Armstrong, as amazing as his story is, and as much as we would all like to believe that our American homeboy is really that much better than the rest, probably doped. He’s still better than everyone else, mind you, because he had cancer and he beat the other guys who were also doping. But he probably doped.

And you know what else is a travesty? Tom Boonen was not allowed to compete in this year’s Tour because he tested positive for cocaine before the Tour even started. What kind of competitive advantage does one get from doing blow at a rowdy party, exactly? I call bullshit. Especially since he’s hot.

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Lest you, our loyal reader, think that we pay attention only to tennis and then only to the top ten male players, I am going to make some observations about the Yellow Knight of Cycling.

They used to smoke while coming down the Champs Élysées.

They used to smoke while coming down the Champs Élysées.

He’s making a comeback.  For real!  Wants to win another Tour de France (his eighth, for those of you keeping score at home).

In some ways, this is great.  It gives him something to do, which I think he’s been lacking.  It will make people care about cycling again–and not just make jokes about doping.

But.

What if he doesn’t win?  It will still be an achievement.  Anyone who finishes a Tour de France deserves accolades galore.  Anyone who has won a single one should probably be made king.  And anyone who has won seven requires a whole new vocabulary of glory, which I am not capable of inventing.  Adding to that his personal medical history just blows the mind.

But.

His career already ended on a top note.  Like John Elway, but better.  Like Justine Henin, but more so.  It’ll be such a let-down if he adds an uninspiring coda.

Maybe he’ll win.  I hope he does.  None of the other cyclists are as much fun–either they’re no good, or they’re on drugs.  And of course they’re not American, which matters.  Do we love anything more than sticking it to the French?

Good luck to him.

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Anyone else would look like a waiter.

Anyone else would look like a waiter.

He gives the cutest, classiest, most wonderful post-match interviews–whether he wins or loses.  Not that he does the latter all that much.  He’s generous in victory.  Well, he can afford to be, you say.  Yes, he can.  That hasn’t stopped some other people.

“I can’t stop at thirteen.  That would be terrible.”  I have trouble articulating why I find that line so absurdly adorable, but it clearly is, so tough.  Partly, I suppose, it’s because I hope he doesn’t, and I’m pretty sure he won’t.

I’m a little smug about this, because I ran the “Don’t give up on Roger” story before everyone else did.  Everyone else waited until he was two sets and a break up on poor Andy Murray.  Idiots.  The final commentators made lots of jokes about how everyone had given up on him, seeming to forget that they had as well.

They had forgotten one, very important, thing.  He’s Roger Federer.  He may have lost a couple of tournaments, but in the back, sleeping, when he’s a break or a set down, there’s always the “Just kidding!  I’m Roger Federer.”  And then Andy Murray gets to clean up Flushing Meadows with his own bony rear end.

Oh, and also?  He can wear a white dinner jacket and not look like a buffoon.

And one other thing.

You wish you could make this look good.

You wish you could make this look good.

All of you people who mock him for his cardigan or his blazer or his tuxedo shorts?  In what possible way is he not entitled to them?  Many lesser players array themselves in comically outré costumes.  The tuxedo shorts were silly, it’s true, but he only wore them in the evening, and he’s Roger Federer.  And as for the blazer?  And the cardigan?  The man plays tennis.  He may be the best tennis player who ever lived.  And tennis is the kind of sport associated with white and champagne and tea and apocryphal sunny afternoons in England.  He can wear any blazer he damn well pleases.

Especially because they look good.

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