Saturday, January 12, 2008

Daily SAll-Star

Genghis Khan was a certifiable BAMF.

Genghis united and ruled the Mongol nation, which was, until his death, the largest empire in the history of the world. Khan not only was a fierce combatant who was never conquered, but he also was quite the statesman, creating a system of laws that kept order amongst the various hordes of unruly Mongolian warriors; not an easy task. Genghis allegedly also fathered over 20 children, though only 4 of his sons were included in his succession.

So we salute Genghis Khan: a man of many conquests.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Michigan Coaching Staff Finalized

Rich Rodriguez finally filled that pesky ninth spot on the coaching staff. In Ron English's stead will serve Mr. Scott Shafer, who served as Stanford's defensive coordinator for one season after two years in the same position at Western Michigan. Since Stanford is unspeakably terrible and cannot possibly reflect on his abilities as a coach, let us peruse his qualifications from Western Michigan.

Shafer was primarily responsible for the best one-season improvement in MAC history. Western Michigan was 1-10 the year before he arrived, then went 7-4 in 2005 and 8-5 in 2006. In 2006, Western Michigan ranked first in the nation in interceptions (24) and sacks (46), sixth in run defense, fifth in turnover margin, and 11th in total defense. The Broncos' rush defense (76.1 ypg) in 2006 set a MAC record for fewest rushing yards allowed per game. Shafer was a nominee for the Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the nation.

Prior to joining Western Michigan, Shafer served as defensive coordinator at Nothern Illinois. NIU led the nation in interceptions with 23 in 2003 and had five defensive players named to the All-MAC team. In 2002, Shafer's defense led the conference in interceptions, takeaways, sacks, scoring defense and run defense.

Shafer graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1990. This makes him approximately 40 or 41, one year older than Michigan's departing defensive coordinator Ron English. He has a wife named Missy Elliot (yes) and a son named Wolfgang Taklin Shafer (yes).

So here is the finalized coaching staff for the 2008 Michigan Wolverines:

Head Coach- Rich Rodriguez (replaces Lloyd Carr)
Offensive Coordinator- Calvin Magee (replaces Mike DeBord)
Defensive Coordinator- Scott Shafer (replaces Ron English)
QB's Coach- Rod Smith (replaces Scot Loeffler)
RB's Coach- Fred Jackson (retained)
WR's Coach- Tony Dews (replaces Erik Campbell)
OL Coach- Greg Frey (replaces Andy Moeller)
DL Coach- Bruce Tall (replaces Steve Stripling)
LB's Coach- Jay Hopson (replaces Steve Szabo)
DB's Coach- Tony Gibson (replaces Ron English)

Daily SAll-Star: Donald Brashear

Donald Brashear is not the greatest hockey player ever. I only say this because Donald Brashear is not actually a hockey player. He is probably not even human. Donald Brashear is, however, the most prolific kicker of ass in our lifetime. I guarantee it. You may present boxers, cage fighters, even Kimbo Slice--they simply don't measure up to Brashear. He is a machine bred for one purpose: to inflict pain on everyone at all times.

Donald Brashear probably wasn't born in 1972, either. He clearly comes from eighth-century BC Carthage, where he was undefeated in gladatorial combat for over seventeen years. His birth name is actually Hamunaptra Gilgamesh, but spectators in Carthage dubbed him "Donald" because "Donald" was the noise his opponents' spines made after he sucked the marrow out of them.

Eventually, Donald somehow made his way to late 90's Canada, where, fortunately for him, his inability to do anything besides kill people parlayed nicely into a professional hockey career. He took the NHL by storm, and even as a rookie caused fits of diarrhea in previously-respected defensemen throughout the league. He has logged at least 200 penalty minutes in a season ten times in his fifteen-year NHL career, including a virtually incomprehensible 372 in 1997. He also seems to have the record for most shirtless interviews. I post those videos only to prove his shirtlessness, not to actually hear him speak. No matter how high you set your volume, the Indiana native will still sound like a Dominican who has just been in car accident for no particular reason. Most people have learned by now not to question Donald's actions.

He has been personally responsible for some awesome records in hockey, such as the longest suspension ever, the most penalties ever assessed in one game, and (in approximately two seasons) most penalty minutes in a career.

In short, Donald Brashear will wreck your shit if he feels like it and there will be nothing you can do to stop him.

This video is simply extraordinary. I highly recommend watching it before any high-adrenaline activities, such as a sporting event, final exam, or wedding.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Now I Can Buy More Brontosaurus Burgers!

The Washington Ted Leonsis signed otherwordly superstar Alexander Ovechkin to a 13-year, $124 million contract extension today. Leonsis, who somehow still has money despite owning an NHL franchise, has been cavalier with his checkbook before, giving Jaromir Jagr $88 million in 2001. That didn't turn out well, as Jagr coasted on his record-breaking salary for three seasons in Washington before λεονςις shipped his un-mulleted worthless ass to the NYC, where he has regained some of the panache that made him such a superstar in Tartarus, Pennsylvania.

I personally believe that this hefty salary will not negatively affect Ovechkin's performance. The guy simply loves playing hockey, and the fact that he negotiated the deal himself without the ability to speak English shows that he just wants the bread that he has earned. Ovechkin is the most important player in the NHL (Fuck you, Crosby) and at 22 is already the face of the entire league. If his production does not diminish, and Pittsburgh continues to be a terrible city (I see no reason why that would change), then the portly bearded Greek could be looking at an eventual profit. For anyone who would like to claim that Crosby has the brighter future, and that I am not being objective, consider this:

Hockey is a full-contact sport, probably the most physically punishing sport that is widely watched (and therefore highly paid) in North America. A man must be strong like bull if he is going to survive amongst the goons of the league. Sidney Crosby, who is not Barry Melrose's favorite player (and that's what counts), stands at an unimpressive 5-11 and weighs around 185 pounds. Quickness my ass. Alexander the Great, who eats people, is a monstrous 6-3, 225-pound Russian beast. Furthermore, it took Crosby 3 seasons to log his first major penalty. He has served only 95 career minutes in the sin bin. Ovechkin, meanwhile, has 126 career penalty minutes, most of which came after he somewhat illegally chopped another player's head off with his skate.

Basically, I just really like this story. I love Ovechkin's talent, energy, passion, and endearingly quotable mishaps with English. I like Ted Leonsis, who is perhaps the most accessible and communicative sports figure in America. I love the fact that Leonsis and the Capitals organization realized that their uniforms were all bronze and black and decided to restyle them into the most kick-ass uniforms in the NHL. They don't even need throwbacks!

I think Ovechkin is the best hockey player in the NHL right now, and he deserves all nine figures. Хорошая работа!

Daily SAll-Star

Bill Brasky.

Literally the greatest man of all time...don't believe me? Watch the footage below.

My personal favorite: He hated Mexicans...and he was half-Mexican...and he hated irony.

Bill Brasky

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SNL - Bill Brasky at the Airport

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Society's low point

For those of you who don't know or haven't been able to figure out, Nick and I really enjoy finding extremes. Whether they be in film (great: No Country for Old Men; not so hot: Battlefield Earth), music (great: James Brown; terrible: Soulja Boy), or sport (great: the New York Yankees of our lifetime; horrendous: the Baltimore Orioles of our lifetime), we always seem to have candidates. Still, rarely do Nick and I fully agree upon things which has lead to many a preposterous conversion that usually would be reserved for recreation time at the McLean Hospital for the Mentally Ill. Still, I think both Nick and I can agree that this is society's low point:
The fattest gift you can give.
(from CollegeHumor)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I'm Intrigued

Whether or not the upcoming film Cloverfield is the redefinition of the monster thriller that producer J.J. Abrams (of ABC's Lost fame) claims it will be, I simply cannot deny the sheer awesomeness of the viral marketing campaign that Paramount has unleashed upon the unsuspecting American public. The film might be a dud, it might be mindless entertainment, it might be an instant classic, but I can virtually guarantee it won't be as revolutionary as its advertising blitz.

It all started in February of 2007, when Paramount Studios greenlit the project in total secrecy. No press releases, no casting dates, nothing. They decided from the beginning of pre-production that the anticipation of the film would be as much a part of the moviegoing experience as the film itself. Then the casting began. Paramount called each candidate's agent asking if their client would like to do a movie with J.J. Abrams without a single mention of monsters.

The first trailer for the film was released in July with Paramount's Transformers. However, the trailer revealed only the name of the studio and the release date--January 18, 2008. Both this and the second trailer reveal that the entire film is seen through the handheld camera of a New Yorker trapped in the chaos.

Since the release of the second trailer on November 16th, Paramount has taken its assault to the interwebs, setting up thirteen sites to subconsciously promote the film. Seven of the sites are MySpace pages of the film's protagonists. One site is simply a collection of digital photographs, some taken during main character Rob's going-away party and others taken during the aftermath of the creature's attack. If left open for six minutes, the page will unleash a loud roar. It is (obviously) believed to be the roar of the creature causing all of the ruckus in New York. Another site chronicles the romance between two of the film's main characters. Supposedly, this site provides some clues to the plot of the film, but I haven't spent much time on it. Let me know!

The final three sites deal with a fictional Japanese oil drilling company (and its beverage subsidiary, Slusho!) called Tagruato. There is tension between Tagruato and eco-terrorist group T.I.D.O. Wave, which culminates in an incident at Tagruato's Atlantic oil rig Chuai Station. In a press release, Tagruato blames T.I.D.O. Wave for the explosion while the eco-terrorist proclaim their innocence. Paramount has released fake news bulletins (in several languages!) and posted them on YouTube. Here is the English one.

This leads us to believe that the monster is a deep-sea creature that has either been awakened or mutated by Tagruato's oil drilling. I'm sure we'll learn more in the movie. But I have no idea what Slusho! is all about.

I'm rooting hard for Cloverfield to be a smash hit because it has clearly required a shitload of effort and perhaps even some creativity to both keep the whole damn thing under wraps for eleven months and effectively promote the movie's what-the-fuck-is-that appeal. Paramount can count on at least $10 in box office revenue because I will be there on opening night.

Here's the only catch I can see: Once people see it, the revenue stream goes dry. Unless this movie is so awesome that the monster's appearance is secondary to the plot (a rarity these days), most people will spend their money just to see what Abrams has been teasing them with for the past few months. Once they've seen it, there will be no need to see it again. Sixty percent of film revenue is made in the home market these days. Paramount had better pray that Abrams made one hell of a movie or they could be staring at another Snakes on a Plane.

Election Results

While many were watching the primary results in New Hampshire, I was following the results of a much more important race: the baseball Hall of Fame Balloting. And let me be the first to say (at least the first I've read...and really that's all that matters), I am thoroughly disappointed.

Brief summary of players who got in: Goose Gossage. Yep. That's it. Now I'd first like to congratulate Gossage, a dominant player who I believe deserved to be in. Let me follow up by stating that this election highlights the idiocy of the Hall of Fame voters.

My first point of contention is the length that some of these candidates must spend on the ballot before they get elected. It took Gossage 9 years to be elected. That is absolutely ridiculous. The first time he was on the ballot he received just over 33% of the vote. This time he was on 85.8% of ballots. Now again, I'm very happy for Gossage. But I don't understand how nearly 50% of voters could change their mind. It's not like he pitched in more games. But the reason this happens is the idiotic practice of some sports writers who feel that they are making a statement by waiting to vote for a guy. I could say that this is the most retarded practice by the BBWAA, but that would be underestimating their vast potential for bone-headed moves. Look, if a guy belongs in the Hall, vote for him. Every year. What could you possibly gain by not voting for a guy like Gossage for 5 years. Are you trying to hurt his feelings by saying, "Hey you're good, but not that good?" If he still ends up enshrined, really all you've done is waste time.

My second beef with this voting are the four players who did not get in but should be; Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, Tim Raines, and Mark McGwire. First off, Blyleven. I have no idea how he didn't get in. The man has the 5th most strikeouts of All-Time. He had a career ERA+ (a park- and era- adjusted ERA figure, where 100 is average) of 118. He had a career WHIP of 1.198. He was a domination post-season performer. Also if you look at the most similar players on Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, Tommy John, Robin Roberts, Tom Seaver, Jim Kaat, Early Wynn, Phil Niekro, and Steve Carlton. There's 8 Hall of Famers there. As for Smith, he probably has the weakest case for Hall entry of the 4. But three stats jump out at me: 478 career saves (good enough for 2nd most all-time), a career ERA of 3.03, and a career ERA+ of 131. I feel like that should be enough. Raines should be in because other than the great Rickey there was no better leadoff man in the 80s and 90s. He has 808 career stolen bases (and was only caught 146 times, for an absurd and other-worldly 85% success rate), a career .385 OBP, and a career SLG% of .425. In addition, he is the only former player that has nearly been run over by your author and his boss at a minor league baseball game in a yellow VW Beetle (in no way was this my fault). Finally, McGwire. I have discussed why he cannot be excluded for alleged steroid use in a previous post. But why does he belong in? The man hit 583 career homeruns. That is a butt-load of homeruns. In addition, he had a career OBP of .394, a career SLG% of .588 (which is just plain ridiculous), and, along with Cal Ripken Jr. and Sammy Sosa, helped save baseball from itself in the mid to late 90s. In 1998, when he was hitting 70 homeruns and clearly at his muscle-mass peak, and there were talks of him using performance enhancers, nobody really cared because it was cool. Now everybody wants to clean up the sport and punish McGwire. Make up your mind! And it has been made up, you OKed it when it was happening, now live with it and continue to reward the man.

My third beef with Hall of Fame voting concerns Albert Belle and how he is not only not in the Hall of Fame, but also not even on the ballot any more. This may or may not be expanded upon later in this forum, but simply know this: Albert Belle is the anti-Bill Mazeroski in that Belle isn't in because he's an asshole and Mazeroski is because he was a press favorite.

My fourth issue with Hall of Fame voting is the "journalists" who give faulty logic for their voting. I would expand but really I cannot do it justice like the guys over at can, so I will request that you take a gander at their stuff.

My final complaint is how in the hell did Brady Anderson not get a single vote and yet Todd Stottlemyre got one?!?! Utterly preposterous!

Daily SAll-Star: Ray Charles

Today is Wednesday, January 9th. It is just a few minutes before 2 am. I am sitting at my computer with my dorm room window wide open because it is about 64 degrees out right now. This is not a typical wintry Michigan evening. Naturally, my mind is stuck on the Father of Rhythm & Blues.

In a nutshell, Ray Charles went blind at the age of seven, learned the piano, did heroin for a few years, invented the Georgia State Song, drank some Pepsi, and fathered twelve children.

And along the way, he became one of the five most important and influential musicians in American history.

Nicely done, Mr. Charles.

Don't Talk Shit About My Conference

The Buckeyes have achieved just enough the past two seasons to rise to a level where they're incompetent.

These are the words of one Pat Forde, a man whose opinions I greatly respect and one of the few writers at that display a modicum of common sense and decency in their writing. But Forde's vitriolic skewering of Ohio State is just plain unnecessary.

Shit, Pat, why don't you just tell them to join the Sun Belt? If back-to-back outright Big Ten championships and repeat appearances in the BCS National Championship games is incompetence, then put a beer cozy in my hand and call me Ernest.

Yes, Ohio State has looked overmatched, especially in the speed department, in its last two bowl games. Big deal. The disparity in talent and performance between the Big Ten and the SEC is not in their wide receivers and punt returners but in the trenches. The Big Ten continues to supplant their offensive and defensive lines with monstrous cattle-raised cheeseheads whereas defensive tackles with 4.8 speed like Glen Dorsey play in the south. That is the slightly less moronic argument you would make if you insisted on attacking the entire conference. But did you ever consider, Patricia, that Ohio State is 0-9 in their last nine matchups with the SEC dating back to 1978? Were you aware that Ohio State defeated nonconference power Texas in Austin two years ago? Perhaps you also read somewhere that the Big Ten is 14-12 against the SEC in bowl games since the inception of the BCS system in 1998, 14-9 if you disregard Ohio State's curiously terrible performances.

And most importantly to this Wolverine, The University of MicHugeBallshigan is 7-1 in its last eight bowl games against SEC opponents.

So, Pat, if you feel the need to let us all know that you think Ohio State sucks, feel free. Nobody at this website will stop you. But when you bring the Big Ten into the conversation like some sort of diseased stepchild, you best bring some statistics with you because I will throw down anytime, anywhere.

Great Link

One of the best articles on the always stellar in a long time. As a fan of James Bond movies, this absolutely killed me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Daily SAll-Star


"Who is Wolf?" you may ask. My answer to you: "the greatest of the new American Gladiators."

American Gladiators, which was relaunched to great success. With a new crop of Gladiators who are bigger and better than ever before (though no appearance from all-time favorite Malibu), the undeniably most entertaining would have to be Wolf. Born Don Yates, Wolf stands at an imposing 6'4" and weighing in at 225lbs of muscle. But what sets him apart is his wild mane and signature howl at the start of each event. In addition, he enjoys trash talking with contestants and, in general, is insane.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Decline of the Modern Announcer

I'd like to share with you a sentiment that has been eating at me for a few weeks now.

I am virtually certain that I will pursue a career in sports journalism; I have experience in the field, I have a passion to deliver the news of athletics, and I'd like to think that I have sufficient talent to be successful in the mass media.

Recently, I have begun to realize that my future might lie in the world of broadcasting instead of print journalism. While I objectively believe that I possess the skill to make a living in either field, I feel burnt out going to the Daily every Sunday and getting the same assignment every week. Maybe I need a break, maybe I need a new beat, or maybe I just don't like writing for the newspaper anymore. In any case, I'd like to try something new for a change of pace. The obvious choice is broadcast journalism. I have good hair and a deep voice--the total package!

There's only one problem: I root for bad guys.

My feverish support of athletic villainy has undoubtedly grown from my undying love for professional wrestling. At a young age, I realized that portraying a "heel" (the bad guy) in the ring is infinitely more difficult than playing a "face" (the good guy). Faces win more belts, they sell more merchandise, and they get more love from the fans. All they have to do in return is follow the rules inside the ring and maybe say something nice about the city in which they're performing that night.

Meanwhile, everyone hates the heel. He never wins a championship unless he cheats and he never keeps it for more than a week unless he's a coward and refuses to fight. The fans boo him, his t-shirts don't sell, and he is by definition prohibited from being the top name in the business. I quickly recognized this injustice and made it a point to cheer wholeheartedly for the heels.

Now, unfortunately for yours truly, such an attitude won't fly in the world of mainstream sports. Fights aren't scripted and injuries aren't faked. So, of course, lauding such catastrophes would be beyond reprehensible. If Harry Caray had cheered and whistled when a fastball caught a visiting batter in the face or Howard Cosell had applauded when a boxer got his neck broken, the audience would be justifiably horrified.

But what I don't understand is the newfound role of the play-by-play announcer as The Faultless Prick Who Feels He Possesses the Authority to Remind His Audience of What is and is Not Morally Acceptable. Here's a good example:

Yes, you're goddamn right we're going to cheer that hit. Would you like to know why? Because when people turn on a football game, they are probably cognizant of the fact that it is a violent contact sport. A huge hit like that would be inappropriate in, shit, I don't know, tennis. But football players hit each other. Don't whine about it like it's not part of the fucking game. Do you see any trainers around Antonio Smith on the bench? Is he wearing a fucking neck brace? Was he airlifted off the field while his teammates huddled and prayed? No. Not only did you overstep your jurisdiction, you also pointed your finger at your audience and chastised them for celebrating a play that your holier-than-thou ass deemed dirty.

Are you fucking kidding me? DO YOUR JOB. Your job, which you have obviously forgotten how to perform, is to report on the action which is presently occurring. Nowhere in a play-by-play announcer's job description does it give him the right to

a) present his own beliefs as though they are indisputable fact
b) lambaste the very people that he is trying to entertain.

Why would a man even pursue a career in sports broadcasting if he doesn't approve of the viewers? Who the fuck is he to determine our values? That was an awesome hit. If you don't like it, keep your fucking mouth shut and wait until you get home and tell your fucking goldfish how you feel. It is not your responsibility or your right as an announcer to give your two cents on the matter at hand.

I don't want to make a name for myself as the Evil Announcer when my time comes, but I'd like to think I won't be the unique kind of pussy that has become a staple of modern sports announcing. That's all.

Daily SAll-Star: John Goodman

Today's SAll-Star is thespian John Goodman, probably best known for his starring role alongside the incomparable Steven Baldwin in The Flintstones and its extraordinary companion piece The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.

In all seriousness, Goodman has been one of Hollywood's more overshadowed role players for the past thirty years, popping in and out of cult hits like Revenge of the Nerds, Arachnophobia, and Beyond the Sea. He is a staple of the Coen Brothers' spectacular work, appearing in five of their films (Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and, of course, The Big Lebowski) and is the most prolific host in the history of Saturday Night Live, having held the honor 18 times.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

More Good News

Michigan's best assistant coaches for the past three seasons have been QB's coach Scot Loeffler, RB's coach Fred Jackson, WR's coach Erik Soup Campbell, and DL coach Steve Stripling. Loeffler, unfortunately, is gone thanks to the arrival of Rod Smith, but the news out of West Virginia today is exceptional for Michigan football.

I'm happiest about the non-departure of WVU's wideout coach, Tony Dews. I'm sure he is a consummate professional, but Soup has produced some extraordinary receiving legacies during his career at Michigan, including David Terrell, Tai Streets, Mercury Hayes, Marcus Knight, The Unstoppable Ron Bellamy Marquise Walker, Jason Avant, Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington, and of course, Braylon Edwards, whom Soup transformed from a skinny three-star from Bishop Gallagher into the second-most prolific touchdown receiver in the NFL. Soup is also directly responsible for the punt and kickoff return success of former Wolverines Steve Breaston and Charles Fucking Woodson, as he has been the return specialists coach since 1995.

This leaves the Michigan coaching staff in the current form of:

Head Coach- Rich Rodriguez (replaces Lloyd Carr)
Offensive Coordinator- Calvin Magee (replaces Mike DeBord)
Defensive Coordinator- ???* (replaces Ron English)
QB's Coach- Rod Smith (replaces Scot Loeffler)
RB's Coach- Fred Jackson (retained)
WR's Coach- Soup Campbell (retained)
OL Coach- Greg Frey (replaces Andy Moeller)
DL Coach-
Steve Stripling (retained)
LB's Coach- ???* (replaces Steve Szabo)
CB's Coach- Tony Gibson (replaces Ron English)
Safeties Coach- ???* (replaces Ron English)

*The vacant coaching positions will be ruminated upon in a forthcoming article. We know for a fact that West Virginia DC Jeff Casteel has elected to remain in Morgantown with new Mountaineers head coach Bill Stewart, so he is not a candidate for Michigan's defensive coordinator position.