Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Weak In Review

Everybody's doin' it nowadays ... compiling news n' notes n' nuggets pieces.
So, here's mine (with extended bonus coverage):

SUNDAY, JUNE 18 -- The "Mickel-Slam" went up in smoke with Phil's poor club selection and some wacky techniques in "cutting it" (whatever "club selection" and "cutting it" means ... all I know about golf is what I learned from the Medicus infomercial) on the 18th hole at Winged Foot.
What rubbed Team Haystack the wrong way were the endless days of "Why Did Phil Choke?" and "What Caused Phil's Meltdown?" after he gave away the U.S. Open championship.
Gave away? Like Montie had done moments earlier?
Mickelson played like crap throughout Sunday, so his 18th-hole implosion was no big surprise.
His postgame self-loathing of "I'm an idiot" only compounded matters for the guy who usually melts under the pressure of a Tiger-induced surgery to a 72-hole tournament.
Note: The baseball equivalent to the rationale that Phil "gave it away" is Your Team trailing by four runs in the 9th and then, after FIVE walks and three errors, the cleanup hitter striking out to end the game and then some loser in Loserville losingly proclaiming, "We HAD that game! We HAD 'em!"
Phil went par-bogey-par-double bogey to close out his U.S. Open while Geoff Ogilvy went par-par-par-par.
Maybe it's some sorta anti-Aussie-ism that had Forgetful Phil failing to be congratulatin' instead of self-hatin'.
Just wait'll Eldrick is using his icy stare to turn Phil into a puddle at the British Open.

MONDAY, JUNE 19 -- The final day of the hockey season -- a Cup Finals Game 7, no less -- and we barely got to know Ty Conklin.
Good Ol' Konk ... the Edmonton Oilers' backup goalie who was thrust into Game 1 after Dwayne Roloson left the game with a knee injury and a wounded ego after he allowed a 3-0 lead to slip away.
When Brind'Amour pirated the puck away from The Konkster's sloppy mishandling of said disc behind his own goal, jeez ... someone wanna frickin' get me a real goalie in this series?

In Commissioner Batman's New Thank-You-Fans NHL, every day is filled with optimism and promise.
Kinda like a freshly-Zambonied sheet of ice.
That is, unless you live in Chicago (four Cup Finals since winning it all in 1961) or Toronto (zero Cup Finals since winning the Cup in '67) or Boston (five Cup Finals in the past 34 seasons) or Montreal (one Cup Final, one Cup won since the '80s began) or New York (four Cup Finals, one Cup since 1940).
When five of the Original Six perennially suck, it makes for a league less-relevant than Lou Ferrigno vs. Kyle Rote, Jr. preparing for the obstacle course semifinals in the "Superstars" competition.
Commissioner Batman's Sun Belt manifest destiny is laughable, notwithstanding the foolishness of Cups won in the past six seasons years by Dallas, Tampa Bay and now Carolina.
In '03, the league was trying to ram Paul Kariya down our throats as the Face of The NHL. A year later, the flavor-of-the-month was Jarome Iginla. Now, the best player might very well be rookie Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, a delightful talent who no one sees ever (but, hey, there's a big Thank You Fans painted on the ice!)

Your baseball equivalent would be ... well, there isn't one because, in the Big Three (MLB, NFL and NBA), there are TV contracts and marketing strategies in place to promote the sports' stars.
Hence, the NHL has less cachet than the Winter X Games.
Those nutjobs zipping off jumps on their snowmobiles are more-recognizable than 87 percent of the NHL.
Sorry, Conn Smythe-winner Cam Ward, whoever you are.
Same to you, Hart Trophy-winner Joe Thornton, who, hopefully, can escape obscurity in San Jose and get some big-market exposure during next season's Cup Finals between the Thrashers and the Predators.
Unless the Blue Jackets find a hot goalie.

Actually, that Hurricanes' goalie who won our hearts with, ummmm ... his anonymity and mediocrity is a prime candidate to become just another scrub on the scrap heap with J.S. Giguere and The Bulin Wall.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Cinderella of '03, won himself a seat on the bench for The Mighty Dorks of Anaheim as Ilya Brysgalov set some shutout records ... then, somehow, allowed his mediocrity to take over.
The Bulin Wall -- what they call Nikolai Khabibulin -- got nailed by NHL lockout $$$ complications and then played woefully for the woeful Chicago Blackhawks.
Dammit, America! That's the first Russian goalie ever to win a Cup!

Cam Ward ... cute story and all -- y'know, the late-night, strawberry-milkshake sessions.
WHICH, by the way, we never would've learned about if the 'Canes' regular goalie, Martin Gerber, hadn't flashed incredible postseason form by allowing NINE goals in the first 74 minutes of the playoffs vs. Montreal.
That's a goals-against of 7.22.
It's sad to think that Ty Conklin and Martin Gerber are less-skilled at playoff hockey than, say, Michelle Wie, Jason McElvain or Barbaro, the Stories of '06 which have reduced Cam Ward to back page status.

NHL hockey ... bad for the brain.
Thanks, Batman.
And good for you, Hartford With No Whalers!

TUESDAY, JUNE 20 -- It was easy to become engrossed in the NBA playoffs this year, despite the referee-bashing and wins which were nitpicked.
I think I know why Miami won it all.
ESPN had reporter Rachel Nichols on the Heat beat throughout the postseason. Meanwhile, Dallas suffered from an ESPN mix of Colleen Dominguez, then Alex Flanagan ... and I think David Amber came off the bench before Colleen Dominguez returned in a too-little, too-late effort.
That's the NBA for ya -- a complex, mind-warper trying to remember if Colleen Dominguez is the Frederick's of Hollywood front-runner and Alex Flanagan is the best fit for Victoria's Secret and how Rache figures into the lingere equation.
It's good to have Erin Andrews heating up in the bullpen.
Alas, I don't always have her ESPN assignment sheet with me.
Currently, she's in Omaha at the CWS, eye-candying us through some awkward interviews.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21 -- I watched a good chunk of Argentina and the Netherlands play to that World Cup scoreless draw ... which, I guess, we're supposed to say ended "nil-nil."
Fabricio Coloccini subbed in in the 24th minute and he offered consistent, steady backfield play.
Sadly, he is only my third-favourite among the F-squad stars.
Right now, it's: 1) Fred of Brazil 2) Frings of Germany and 3) Fabricio.
Torsten Frings ... gotta love that kid.
My hunch: When it's all said and done, Torsten is bound to do some-Frings special.

Stateside, the Phils were blanked, 5-0, by the Yanks -- one night after Ryan Howard drove in all seven of the Phils' runs in a 9-7 loss.
That blast off of Mussina into the top deck in RF ... ouch.
That ball was badly bruised.
The most-intriguing angle to a 7-RBI game is if it's the most ribbies for a Phillies player since a pitcher drove in seven, which it was when Robert Person did so a few years ago.
A pitcher ... with seven ribbies … is that what the guys in the broadcast booth call “helping your own cause”?
By the way, the Phils are NOT fun to watch (although the "Charlie-Manuel-Was-Fired-Today" Meter needs a few more quarters and some dimes before time expires).

Jimmy Rollins -- who began the season as the career .270 hitter with the 36-game hit streak that had us all wondering not IF DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak would be broken but WHEN – saw his average dip to .250 with an 0-for-5 collar.
Although rookie Cole Hamels didn't get smacked around by a depleted Pinstripers lineup, I feel as though we need to focus less on Cole Hamels and begin wrapping our minds around this concept:
The Texas Longhorns and the Hawaii Rainbows might each have starting QBs with the first name "Colt" this season.
Colt McCoy and Colt Brennan.
I have no idea what the motivation is for naming a kid "Cole," let alone "Colt."
You simply can’t find any “COLT” novelty mini-license plates in the amusement park gift shop.

THURSDAY, JUNE 22 Just like you can’t find any “KOBY” novelty mini-license plates in the amusement park gift shop, which is unfortunate for Roger Clemens’ son, but proves that there’s still hope for Jelly Bean Bryant’s kid, Kobe, and George Karl’s son, Coby.
Because of this Koby-Kobe-Coby novelty mini-license-plate crisis, I couldn’t bring myself to watch Rocket’s 2006 MLB debut.
Well, that – and the fact that I didn’t want to tarnish the most-recent memory that America had of its pitching treasure.
And, that eternal snapshot was of Rocket earning the win for that 17-0 Team USA win over South Africa in the WBC a few months back.
Rocket did it for you … for me … for our troops overseas … for freedom …

In other sports news of global import, now that Team USA’s soccer stiffs are going-going-Ghana from World Cup play, can we please cease and desist on those Gatorade commercials with highlights of American soccer to the tune of the instrumental "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"?
The Stars N’ Stripes’ national pastimes are the NFL and imposing American imperialism wherever possible (via 17-0 victories over backwards-thinking governments).

Anyway, what did Team USA expect on the soccer pitch? Who forgot to mark Pimpong, anyway?
It just goes to show, Ghana is for real.
Ghana is for real ... Ghana is real ... Ghana = real ... Ghana real! Ghana real! Ghana real!
Pimpong must hear that crap all the time (when Europe’s Aryan movement isn’t hurling racial epithets and bottles at him and his teammates).
Here's something, though, that Landon Donovan doesn't hear all the time (but he should): "You look like Adam Ant."

Maybe it's not hip n' trendy to reference new-wave sensations from the '80s such as Leslie Stuart Goddard, who, last I heard, got arrested in a British Isles pub for hopping up on a table and threatening the patrons with a flare gun and a carburetor.
To quoeth the Antster, "Blackfoot, Pawnee, Cheyenne, Cr-ohhhhhhhh! Apache, Arapaho!"
That was a good album, by the way.
The flare gun and the carburetor? Not the way I would've played it.

Where were we? Oh yeah ... I watched some of Brazil vs. Japan -- and those Joga Bonitistas from Rio and thereabouts, jeez ... for an outsider like me, that's quality stuff.
Most Americans will mock the names Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, but, then again, such derisive remarks originate in a nation which sometimes can't keep its Rolando Blackman separated from its Renaldo Balkman ('06 NIT MVP).
Well, I can’t, anyway.

Clemens can cram it, by the way.

FRIDAY, JUNE 23 A quickie ESPN Radio blurb informed me that Theo Bell, the Steelers' receiver on the Super Bowl XIII and XIV teams, died of kidney failure at age 52.

I seem to remember Theo filling in during the second half of the 35-31 win over Dallas when Stallworth was injured. Even if the details are a little foggy, that's another Steeler to add to the "Before Their Time" lineup. Just in the past year alone (as was reported in a previous Haystack transmission before Super Bowl XL) the Black & Gold alumni has shrunk with the deaths of Terry Long, Steve Courson, Bud Carson and Dave Brown.

On a brighter note, I got about 2 1/2 hours of sleep because I toiled during the wee hours of Thurs.-to-Fri. watching the Comcast replay of the Orioles-Marlins game, which had to be seen to be believed (well, the 8th, 9th and 10th innings, anyway).
Some shenanigans out there at the yard -- everything from Marlins mgr. Joe Girardi making four pitching changes in the bottom of the 8th … then, down to their final out and trailing, 5-2, Joe Borchard – who struck out four times two nights earlier – lining a low-laser, 2-run shot, which was followed by a game-tying solo job by Wes Helms.
Sure, it was a treat to watch the top of the 10th when Todd Williams tried to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera – only Williams threw the first wide one not wide enough and Cabrera reached out and slapped a single CF to snap the 5-5 tie.
Borchard then hit a ground ball which Miguel Tejada threw away for a 2-run error.

God bless you, Joltin’ Joe. I still remember it was almost 10 years ago (Oct. ’96) when the Mrs. n’ I saw Joe The Prep QB Star gettin’ sacked seven times by my alma mater.
A few years later, the three of us engaged in some inconsequential small talk on the Stanford campus as Joe Cool was a two-sport star who ranked somewhere on the university’s food chain between John Elway, John Lynch, Toi Cook and Brian Johnson (crappy QB, shaky hitter/catcher).

Forget Brian Johnson as a two-sport star, Jim (though Bri did play two).
I'm going off the board with either Teyo Johnson (football/basketball) or Kristin Folkl (basketball/volleyball) or Adam Keefe (basketball/volleyball).
Wow ... that was interesting.

Anyway, adhering to the principles of the Borchard Hitting Doctrine, I followed suit and, in my final softball AB of the season (perhaps of my career), I lined a crisp single to RF and eventually came around to score.
That run pulled us to within 24-6 in the bottom of the 4th – and the outcome reminded me of that time when Inspector Callahan was confronted in the parking garage by the SFPD vigilante motorcycle cops.
“You ‘heroes’ have killed a dozen people this week,” the inspector snarled. “What do you plan to do next week?"

"Kill a dozen more,” was the reply.
And you’re damn right … that response came from David Soul.

Look … ya gotta pop some Clint into the DVD player when you get home from a ballgame which leaves ya feeling a little incomplete.
For the record, the 24-6 loss would’ve stung a lot more had not we won the opener, 20-14 – one of the few bright spots in a 4-10-2 season.
Not that I had much to brag about. My exploits with the aluminum stick, yeeeesh … sometimes my swing is comparable to a Mary Kay LeTourneau smile.
Weak … uneasy … forced …
And now I get to spend July thru March fretting about my mechanics and wondering if maybe my game needs more wristbands and more headfirst slides into first base (as I’m popping out to shallow-RF).

I think that a complete breakdown of my batting stance and swing mechanics for a 4-10-2 team is better served with an entire blog entry of ….

SATURDAY, JUNE 24 Maxi Rodriguez … nice frickin’ shot, Meat! In fact, it was downright epic. Because of that delicious chest-trap and left-footed volley to the far post in OT, Maxi and his Argentine teammates will tangle with host Germany in the World Cup quarters.
This is shaping up to be a lot more fun than the WBC, but don’t quote me on that.
My only reservation is that for the third time in four matches for Argentina, Fabricio Coloccini sat on the bench.
No joke: Without Fabs, there’s no stopping Frings!
Although I do have Torsten Frings on my World Cup Fantasy League team, so what do I care?

SUNDAY, JUNE 25 -- OK, now I care. I was minding my own beeswax (probably nailing another Sudoku puzzle) when Beckham and his mates were lined up for the playing of England's national anthem, "God Save The Queen."
I musta been asleep at the wheel for awhile because that sounded a lot like "My Country 'Tis Of Thee."
Again ... the Yanks have ripped off from the Brits.

True, it would've been great for the blokes to comemorate the Sex Pistols' recent induction into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame by cranking Johnny & Sid growling their rendition of "God Save The Queen" from the "Never Mind The Bollocks" long-player (a "record" ... what you kids now know as a disk).

I've gotta scoot and see about petitioning either the House of Commons or the House of Lords to enact legislation which would make The Jam's "Eton Rifles" England's national anthem.
"All that rugby / Puts hairs on your chest / What chance have ya got / Against a tie and a crest? / Hello, hooray / What a nice day / For the Eton Rifles, Eton Rifles! / Hello, hooray / I hope rain stops play / With the Eton Rifles, Eton Rifles! (what a catalyst you turned out to be / loaded the guns / then ran off home to your tea / left me standing like a guilty schoolboy-hoy ... )."

Weller could sure write some soddin' great tunes back then, no?
Well, I'm off to Parliament ...

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