Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Top Guns From The 3-BALL FREE-FOR-ALL

It's only natural that we'd spend this "Wicked Wednesday" -- which is wedged between The Espy Network's college b-ball "Stupid Tuesday" and its "Throwup Thursday" -- by charting the progress of God's Gifts To Jump-Shootin'.
With the month of March scheduled to start tomorrow (by decree of the calendar), the Madness is only going to get better when some of our national collegiate heroes start poppin' from Treyland (shooting what Dickie Vee likes to call "a trifecter") at a frenetic clip.
First, though, we need to take a few minutes and review the dossiers of some of this nation's unsung 3-ball heroes.
Interestingly, Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, Mar. 11 this year (a week-and-a-half from now), rather than the customary "first April in Sunday" which has governed our lives for some many years.
What's most fascinating about DST occurring three weeks earlier than normal -- which'll officially signal the springing ahead of Spring (and increased usage of Irish Spring in the shower) -- is that some of us smart-asses can crack wise with, "The sun will go down an hour later. The jumpers? They might never go down."

Which means 3-ball percentages are destined to -- of course -- "fall."

With that in mind, it's wise to spend the final day of Feb. exploring the ballers who have been seduced by the sales pitch of the sideshow barker.
"Step up to the 3-point line, lads! Three tosses at the basket wins a prize! How can ya go wrong? Make one from 19-feet, 9-inches and win a prize for the little lady!
"Howzabout it, Sport?"

Okay, then ... let's see who's game:

1) JOE KRABBENHOFT (Wuss-consin) -- "Krabby" (if that's, in fact, what his Badgered teammates call him ... for all we know, he goes by "Hoft") ... garners top honors for the mere fact that in 9 of the Badgered's 15 conference games, Joe has attempted exactly ONE 3-ball -- and missed all 9.

It goes like this for the stylish sophomore out of Sioux Falls, SD:
In nine separate Big 11 games: 0-1 on treys.
In another Big 11 game vs. Penn State: 1-1 from 3-range.
In five other Big 11 games: 0-0 from beyond the arc.
We had such high hopes for "Joey K With The Deadly J." In his 15 non-conference contests, Krabby drained 6 of 12 trifecters ... this, after an 8 of 29 (28 percent) showing as a Badgered frosh last year.
It must seem like a million years ago when Krabby was nailin' his only 3-ball attempt during the season opener against Mercer.
Let's not give up on Krabby, though. It might be interesting to see a show of hands from those who predict that Joey K With The Deadly J is gonna snap out of it and have a huge (maybe even a "mega-huge") Big 11 Tournament and killer NCAA tourney.
Wait! Don't everybody raise his/her hand at once.
Krabby don't like it when there's a hand in his face 'cuz it upsets his concentration.
Badgered Note: Krabby barely received our Wisconsucks vote ahead of his teammates, Kammron Taylor and Michael Flowers.
In 11 home games since mid-Dec., Taylor is 23 of 48 (48 percent) on 3-balls. In eight away games during the same span, Taylor is 13 of 46 (28 percent).
By the way, there will be no Big 11 tournament games or NCAA tournament games played in Wisconsucks' arena -- so all of those sharpshooters, to coin a phrase, might be in big frickin' trouble.
Flowers, meanwhile, is almost as classic as Krabbenhoft. In the Badgered's eight January games, Flowers was 0 of 10 (0.0 percent) on 3-balls. Flower Power bounced back to sink 9 of 18 3-balls in his first five Feb. games, but finished the month 1 of 7.
Here's the juice: In Wuss-consin's NCAA second-round loss to Dunder Mifflin, Krabbenhoft will go 0 of 1 on 3-balls, Flower Power will go 1 of 3 and Kammron, yup ... 2 of 6.
Damn shame, too.
Brian Butch -- the Butch Badger -- and his dislocated elbow with an associated fracture deserved better.
Way to let him down, Badgered.

2) JOE ALEXANDER (Wuss Virginia) -- Don't be deceived by the fact that we've got us another Joe, even though this one plays for the Meltdowneers.
This is no Ordinary Joe, seeing how he was born in in Mount Airy, MD roughly 10 years before Jimmie Cone opened its stand there to coincide with the popular Jimmie Cone hangout in Damascus located less than 10 miles away on Rte. 27.

Anyway, here's Joey Cone's rap sheet: A 12 PPG scorer, he missed all 10 of his 3-balls during the 'Neers first three games of Feb. ... before he got red-hot.
Joe Jr. established some serious mo, going 5 of 19 on 3-balls (0 for 2 last night vs. Pitt) since that 0 of 10 beginning.

3) FRANK YOUNG (Wuss Virginia) -- This "Young Gun" definitely climbed his way up the charts by making a late push.
The YOUNGster ended Jan. by going 8 of 13 from downtown, but, like the rest of his teammates, he enjoys missing 3-balls more than he likes makin' 'em (as evidenced by his 4-of-12 effort during the 'Neers' 9-of-41, 3-ball fiesta from last week ... hey, without Frank's 33 percent from beyond the arc, WVU would've shot 17.24137 percent on 3-balls instead of 21.95121 percent).
Young Gun's 0 of 5 performance vs. Pitt last night put him at 15 of 54 in Feb. (27.777777 percent), so, "look out, March!" -- big Frank's headin' into the new month and loaded for bear!

4) RODERICK WILMONT (The Hooters) -- Always a joy to watch, despite the fact that after averaging 15.7 PPG heading into last weekend's game at Mich. State, Rod-Wil missed all six of his shots vs. the Spartans and was 0 of 4 from treyland.
Rod-Wil is testing our patience, given that, in his 93-game IU career, he's totalled 53 assists and 85 turnovers and is only a 61 percent foul shooter.
Tonight provides new life (on national TV! in hi-def!) when the Hooters play at Northwestern. IU is 3-9 on the road and 15-0 at home, typical of the Big 11 in '06-'07.
Regardless ... what we'll see tonight is a 48-43 barnburner.
And it wouldn't shock anyone if Rod-Wil bounced back with 11 points and 1 assist.
Hooter sidebar: A.J. Ratliff is 15 of 24 on 3-balls (63 percent) when he hoists 'em up inside Assembly Hall, but he's only 13 of 35 on 3-balls (37 percent) when he jacks 'em up in enemy gyms.
There's no real newsflash here ... just that we're wondering if A.J. Ratliff is a) pissed b) sad c) unaware that he ranks No. 3 on our list of all-time I.U. A.J.s -- behind the always-underrated, often-outstanding A.J. Guyton (mid '90s) and A.J. Moye (Knight recruit; solid off the bench for the '02 national finalist Hooters).

5) ERIC DEVENDORK (Sorrycuse) -- It was a lot more fun to appreciate The 'Dork's vast mediocrity when he was flanked by that motherchucker, Gerry McNamara.
Now, that each game represents 'DorkTime for the 'Cuse, "E" has struggled.
But, usually, when a player struggles, a night of going 2 of 8 from 3-Town is never out of the question.
And, don't be surprised if that 2 of 8 actually turns out to be a 3 of 9.
"E's" the kinda guy who can turn it on like that.
Sure ... 'Dork capped a tepid Jan. by going 0 of 11 (0 of 6 on 3-balls) in a 103-91 loss to the Farting Irish. And 'Dork's 5-for-7, 3-ball exhibition vs. RuPaul to begin Feb. wasn't exactly the bounceback that he had in mind.
However, since the RuPaul game, 'Dork has rediscovered his game, goin' 6 of 27 (22 percent) on 3-balls.
In other words, the 'Dork sriously puts the "me" in "mediocre."
The hidden part of 'Dork's game which people rarely see is the fact that he shoots better than 80 percent from the foul line.
Rather than work somebody off a pick and create on a dribble-drive, 'Dork likes to pop from 3.
Good for him.
Freedom of expression.
That's the way Boeheim likes it.
When he's not lobbying for the NCAA field to expand to a field of 76 or 88 or 100 or 128 or 256 or 512 or 1,024 or 2,048.

6) ANTHONY GOODS (Stan-fraud) -- Some of us on the Eastern Seaboard had the privilege of viewing the final 1:00 of regulation and the two OTs of the Cardinal's loss to Gonzaga -- which is when we saw which long bomber had "the goods."
Held to 2 points through regulation, A.G. started flingin' garbage at the rim -- and, goddammitall if some of those shots didn't go in.
The no-look, off-balance, fall-down, scoop-shot-while-eating-a-handful-of-concession-stand-popcorn ... that'll be a trademark shot in Maples Pavilion for years to come.
Years from now, when fans see a talented player, they'll be apt to say, "He's good ... but he's not Anthony Goods."
By the way, the full workup on A.G. reveals that since the opener vs. Siena when he was 7 of 11 on 3-balls (and finished with 30 points) in the victory, Goods was 6 of 37 (16.21621 percent) in the Cardinal's five losses leading up to the Gonzaga defeat.
The sophomore will only get better.
That's what "they" always say ... "he'll only get better."
Seems to apply here.
For no apparent reason.

7) COLIN FALLS (Notre Dumb) -- Here's a fan fave. Kid averages 33 minutes a game ... and, all, told, Col' has nine offensive rebounds this season.
Colin doesn't Falls down -- but he camps along the 3-point line.
There are approx. 2,455 players this season who have gotten nine rebounds "by accident."
That stat is not official.
It might be more like 3,008.
In the "Official Guide To America's Least-Active Rebounders," Colin "falls" somewhere between administrative assistants and those four little girls on the jungle jim.
See? A 10-year-old kid in a morning recess game on a court adjacent to the girls on the jungle jim just missed a shot and a little girl playing on the swing stopped swinging and gathered up the loose ball while Colin -- not within 50 miles of the play -- slapped his hands fervently, calling for the ball and screaming about being open.
That's the thing about Colin Falls. Ya never know if he's going to go 4 of 11 on 3-balls or if he'll crank it up and give ya one helluva 5-of-14 wild ride.

8) LEE HUMPHREY (Team Gator Raid) -- Uh-oh ... why the long face, Ace? Sure, you were sinking an off-the-charts 68 percent (33 of 48) of your 3-balls through the first half of the SEC season.
Despite a recent cold streak, The Hump's 3 of 7 on 3-balls in the L to Tenn. lifted his recent success-rate from 28 percent to 30 percent.
Beware the sleeping giant ...

9) JASON McALPIN (Gary-land) -- No one who was there that night (and some of us have the ticket stubs to prove it) will ever forget the manner in which J-Mac stood poised as the final seconds ticked away against Missouri-Kansas City.
The scoreclock showed 0:02.7 as the ball left his hand -- and the scoreclock was all zeroes as J-Mac's shot hit nuthin' but net was the final horn sounded.
Save yer stubs from this one -- Terrapins 101, UMKC 50.
Sure, J-Mac had already nailed a 3 less than 1:00 of elapsed time earlier, but this one was special ... buzzer-beater special.
It's what every autistic and non-austic kid dreams about.
By going 2 of 2 on 3-balls, J-Mac let everybody know that there was A New-And-Improved J-MAC for America to embrace.
In that game, J-Mac's teammate, Mike Jones (M-Jo to McAlpin's J-Mac), tried to steal the spotlight by going 9 of 13 on trifecters.
As it happens, though, both kids are on the long road back.
After the 51-point, nailbiter against UMKC, McAlpin played during the final two minutes of the 41-point win over Mount St. Mary's (going 0 for 1 on a 2-pointer) and then played the final minute of the a 31-point win over then-winless Iona (unsuccessful in his one FG att. ... a 3-ball, of course).
Just the fact that Coach Gary trusted J-Mac enough to take that shot in the final minute of a 31-point win over an 0-12 opponent, well ... there's only so much we can say about "courage" and "dedication" and "inner-strength" and "a half-full bag of Skittles."
J-Mac hasn't sniffed PT since, but the confidence he gained from that 51-point win over UMKC and the 31-point win over 0-12 Iona speaks volumes.
As per Jonesy, he's coming off a win over UNC three nights ago -- but the once highly-touted recruit sank only 1 of 6 trifecters.
Tonight when he tangles with Duke, it's not difficult to envision him torching the Dukies for 3 threes in 8 or 9 attempts.
The kid is THAT good.

10) CHRIS LOFTON (Tiny-See) -- The Vol standout probably doesn't desrve to be in this group because he averages eight 3-ball attempts per game and actually sinks 3.3 of 'em.
Lofton had that stretch from the final week of Nov. through the first week of Jan. when he averaged 26 PPG, scored at least 28 on six occasions (34 vs. Memphis; 35 vs. Texas) and was 42 of 83 on 3-balls.
The Lofton Legitimacy Factor, however, is under investigation, since Chris is only 10 of 39 on 3-balls during the past four games.
Another thing: For someone who's averaged 20 PPG during his three seasons on Rocky Top, he did not play in an NCAA tournament game as a frosh or a soph.
There's much to prove next month ...

11) DAN NWAELELE (Air Farce) -- The Falcons were one of the pleasaant surprises of this season as Nwaelele was averaging 15 PPG and draining 50 percent of his treys.
The Academy has slipped, though. Before losing their regular-season finale at home to BYU last night, the Falcons -- who look sharp in black socks and black sneakers (ha ha ha) -- were 1-4 in their final five road games.
And it was all Nwaelele's fault.
Sort of.
Eight of 27 (29 percent) won't get it done.

12) MATT BELL (ARMY) -- As per other military b-ballers, let's hear it for the senior from Kokomo, Indiana.
OK ... so he had only 7 points vs. Bucknell a few days ago, but that was only the third time in 28 games in which Matt B didn't reach double figures. And, it came only three days after his season-high 24 vs. the Lafayette Leopards.
He's a scrapper ... and he hits 50 percent from beyond the arc ... and he's a military guy, which means that he has 74 more things on his "to do" list than 93 percent of Dee-One b-ballers.
And, he's the grandson of a dear friend of the mother-in-law, so, let's give it up for the soldier.
He's as cool as the other side of the pillow.

13) IDONG IBOK vs. EKPE UDOH -- This doesn't exactly fit the category ... but it's fun to say "Idong Ibok of Michigan State vs. Ekpe Udoh of Michigan" even if neither is in the game at the same time -- or even if they are on the floor together, but aren't guarding each other.
Last night offered a vintage matchup when MSU (20-1 at the Breslin Center; 1-7 on the road) waltzed into Ann Arbor's Crisler Arena to face the Wolves (16-2 at home; 3-8 on the road).
And, as per usual ... the 16-2 home team improved to 17-2 at home and the road team dipped to 1-8.
Wouldn't it be neat if there was an NCAA selection committee to inform Tom Izzo that a 1-8 road record is not tournament-worthy?

14) AARON GRAY (Pissburgh) -- When he's on the floor, all the Panthers know is that "Gray Matters."
Aaron hasn't attempted a 3-ball this season ... but that's attributed to the fact that he's a low post player (and a damn semi-adequate one at that).
While he may not have a problem, per se, with the 3-point line, the free-throw line makes Aaron queasy.
Check this out:
In Feb., Gray sank 11 of 34 foul shots.
Hint to Pitt opponents: Foul Gray every time somebody makes (let's say it together) ... "an entry pass."
The flip-side of Gray is Georgeclown's 7-foot-2 tour de force, Roy Hibbert.
Hibbert ended Jan. by sinking all 4 of his foul shots against Cinshitnati -- and this month, he went 32 of 39 from the foul stripe (82 percent). In his first 19 games this season, Hibbert was 50 of 80 (63 percent) from the line.
Will the REAL free-throw shootin' Roy Hibbert please stand up?
Hibbert's postseason life is going to depend on the unselfishishness of his teammates -- those very same teammates who couldn't seem to get him the ball vs. Sorrycuse on Feb.'s final "Boring Monday" (you can't spell "boring" without "BIG").
Anyway, after scoring 20, 23 and 20 in wins over Lousyville, Supermarquette and Wuss Virginia, Hibbert has scored only 29 in his past four games. Hibbert took only 4 shots in the loss to Sorrycuse on Blah Monday ... which snapped Georgeclown's 11-game win streak which dated back to mid-Jan.
Coach JT3 has to figure out how to get Georgeclown's No. 2 seed all locked up, just so that he can give it away to a No. 15 seed.
Or a No. 9 seed in Round Two.

Bottom line: The seeds are important.
What matters is that our children express their inalienable right to miss 5 outta every 8 trifecters ...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ex-Girlfriend Sports Radio

Here in this corner of the region of the corridor of the sector of the Mid-Atlantic Region, we've completed Week 2 of the 4 p.m.-7 p.m. turf war between WTEM 980's "The Sports Reporters" (starring Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin) and ESPN 1300's "The Anita Marks Show."

Interestingly, the highlight of the second of these two weeks HAD to be the moment yesterday (Thurs.) between 5:28 and 5:34 when Anita was informed that her next guest, University of Maryland men's basketball radio color-commentator Chris Knoche, would not be on the show because, blah blah blah, Chris said something to somebody, apparently, about "another meeting."
If by "another meeting," you mean being on the air at that very moment with Czabe and Andy, well ... okay.

It kinda reminded the listener of the times when our headtrip/psycho girlfriend would phone when our casual mess-around gal was over at the apartment.
"Whatcha doin'?"
"Ummmmm ... nuthin'."
"Well, if you're doin' nuthin', can I come over?"
"Ummmmm ... no. I'm kinda busy."
"You just said you weren't doing anything."
(You, to yourself: "Well, nuthin' that involves you.")

Good times.
But, we're not here to review courtship values (or lack thereof) from yesteryear. What's important is that Czabe and Andy are back in the saddle during what Arbitron calls "drive time."
Thank God.
When you live in the corridor of the sector of the region of the wastelands of the netherworld between B'More (Baltimore) and The District (Wash. D.C.), you get mighty fussy about what's on the airwaves when you're in the car, drivin' 'round the corridor of the sector of the region of the wastelands in the netherworld.

While there is always an XM/Sirius satellite alternative, those are shows which feature a national scope.
Since some of us cannot spend the shortly-before-noon and a-little-after-noon hours either downloading local radio (via "streaming audio" or a "podcast" -- whatever those are) or picking through the amusing on-line offerings of Deadspin, it's refreshing to re-connect with that 3-D rectangle with knobs and dials which features something known as "local radio."

To perform a comprehensive Czabe/'Nita format breakdown, it might involve too many apples-to-oranges comparisons.
D.C. radio will always serve its pro-sports master (Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, Capitals) while B'More will blanket the Orioles, Ravens, lacrosse (pro and college) and indoor soccer.
Both formats attempt to give the Terps their props ... tossing a bone to the Ralpfrigerator and Garyland.

Neither radio enterprise, though, seems all that interested in Maryland's women's hoops, which, by the way, won the NCAA title in '06.
Maybe it involves what Arbitron likes to call a "male, age 18-52 demographic" and something known as "market share" -- or because (shhhhhhhh!) there might be matters of sexuality ... and that doesn't fit into a testosterone-driven paradigm.

If ya wanna complicate the equation further, toss WNST (1570 AM) into the mix.
Nester Aparicio gets a lot of kudos for his pioneering spirit by startin' his own station last year or the year before or whenever it was.
On the other hand, by 5 o'clock each evening, WNST's signal is so weak (somehow falling short of the 40,000 watts needed to navigate the state of Maryland's hills n' valleys) that it's basically un-listen-to-able.
And, with Nestor acting behind the scenes instead of behind the mike, the drive-time voice we hear (provided "drive time" in this case occurs before sundown) adds to the un-listen-to-ability.
That guy knows who he is.
Maybe he should try a lozenge to reduce some of the sandpaper qualities in his voice.

Let's face it, though ... it's "the voice" which ropes us in.

It always is.
Czabe and Andy have it ... smooth, un-fingers-draggin'-across-the-chalkboard professional.
They're smoother than your favorite bourbon.
Wait ... scratch that.
Bourbon sucks.
Let's use "gin" in that expression of three sentences ago.

Since Anita Marks has that distinct, ex-girlfriend voice, Baltimore's ESPN 1300 (they don't even use the WJFK call-letters anymore, it seems) has pushed fervently to sell Marks' looks and gender.
Other selling points are the fact that she can play QB (supposedly) and the fact that she once posed for Playboy (who hasn't?).

Sure ... her energy is good, she seems to work hard and she acts sincere, blah blah blah, and she might have a more-taut inner thigh than Jenn Sterger at in a thigh-on-thigh tautness test blah blah blah, but those supposed "strengths" don't mitigate the ex-girlfriend traits.
Mostly the voice ... the one that's ready to tell us "You are SUCH a jerk!" after you call her out for flirting.
This radio gift from ESPN (which would never never never ever ever ever force-feed us style over substance) has offered quickie promos to encourage phone-activity, such as: "Score with Anita right now ... "
Let's ponder that for a moment. After all, would she find it relevant if we ass her about the spread in the Eagles game?
That's right ... the spread ... in the Eagles game.
The spread .. Eagles ...
Are the Areolas gonna contend in the A.L. East? A lot of the Areola fans at Areola Park at Camden Yards don't want another disappointment. Will you share your thoughts on the Areolas?
March Madness is almost here ... you like the Indiana Hooters? You like your Hooters this year? If the Hooters meet Longwood in the first round, ya gonna take the Hooters and give me Longwood? Exactly ... you've got the Hooters and you're giving me Longwood, right?
Is that straight-up? What about the over-under?
You've got the under?
Okay ... you've got the Hooters, you've giving me Longwood, and you're under.
Please please please, instead of asking "What?" or "Excuse me?" or "I beg your pardon," please please please say, "Come again?"

Of course, once drive time ends with the arrival in your own driveway, you can hustle inside and click on the TV -- and now that MASN (the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) has been up n' running for a few months, we can catch Marks' show on Channel 44 for the simulcast.
Some viewers like to pretend she's topless.
There's nothing make-believe about us being pantsless.
That's because we were changing from dress slacks to sweat pants.
Some guys like to linger while pantsless ... others of us really don't give a crap if she has Cadillac Williams in her fantasy league this week because we've got a lawn to mow.

One of the most-memorable promos that ESPN 1300 aired (at various hours) was the B.S. session wherein two of the station's morning local co-hosts compared his own breast size of his own vs. Anita's.
Since you can't spell "penis" without an "E," an "S," a "P" and an "N," it was a little disturbing for us 11.5-inch, Alpha males to hear about the saggy ta-ta's of 528-lb. Damon Yaffe vis-a-vis Anita's real (or not) maracas.
That's playful radio.

Another actual promo: The Ralphfrigerator asks, "Do you look as good as you sound?" Listeners then abruptly interrupted the awkward pillow-talk by yelling at the radio: "Do you wear a 6XL windbreaker or a 7XL?" Oh, and what's the spread ... for the Eagles?
Right ... the spread ... Eagles!

Since "PENIS Spelled As ESPN caters to SkankTown, some of us simply wish that they'd opt to couple smarts with the smut.
Or, we just stick w/ Czabe and Andy instead of what's promo'ed as "the ultimate sports chick."

Again, that's where the hook ... fails to hook.

THE ultimate sports chick doesn't prattle on w/ THAT voice.
No ... the ultimate sports chick is sittin' quietly as she watches our softball games ... or she's (non-audibly) posing for a Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders calendar ... or she's NOT questioning the credit-card bill re: the "Girls Gone Wild: Spring Break" DVD purchase.

It's the phenomenon of "worlds colliding." If Relationship George walks through that door RIGHT NOW, he will KILL Independent George!
As per the "ultimate sports chick" in local media, it has to be Comcast's Carol Maloney, who is a regular w/ Czabe and Andy (at least, she was in the morning).
She's knowledgable, funny and doesn't allow herself to be objectified.

Ultimate sports chick?
Some of us married one ... one whose father pioneered sports-talk radio in another state nearly 50 years ago ... one who likes to tell the story of when that future NHL players attempted to cheat off her paper in grad school ... one who took a sports sociology course with a guy who would later coach Dwyane Wade ... one who likes to mock the college football players by holding aloft four fingers every time the third quarter ends in a game on TV ... one who can still look at a trading card of Mike Foligno in his Buffalo Sabres sweater and when you try to pull a fast one by asking, "Honey, is this Lee Fogolin?" she gives ya a glare and says, "Nice try" ('cuz she can differentiate between Foligno/Fogolin in their Sabre sweaters -- and because she remembers the NHL goalie who cheated with another player's wife, aside from the local QB hero who slept around on his wife ... and the soccer star who was a homewrecker ... and the bad memories of getting her wallet stolen at that party at Uwe Blab's apartment ... ).

And, we haven't said a thing about her ultimateness of every single sports-related injury mere moments after it occurs or the way that she saves local athletes' elbows, spines, feet, necks ...
So, this ultimate sports chick doesn't have time for chicks who hype their shoulder impingements and shattered sesmoids -- and she's not sittin' in a WJFK studio B.S.'ing with either the station's in-house, 300-lb.ers or giggling at the non-funny eggheads from the journalistic weakling known as the Baltimore Sun.

If PENIS Spelled As ESPN 1300 had an ounce of creativity, the promo would be: "She's Anita ... local sports which starts with an "A-N-I-" and ends with some 'T' and 'A.' "
Again ... it's sad when we have to tell programmers how to program.

FYI: 1300's best sports hours are on Saturdays when Phil Wood and Tom Davis converse about the Areolas, errrr ... the Orioles and baseball in general.
That duo has such vast knowledge .. always a treat to listen to.

Not that Czabe is the new messiah -- after all, he's been a little off lately during "The '80s Rejoin" segment with Scott Lynn in the morning.
Czabe's missed some gimmes.
Yes, that is the two-fold goodness that is this mini-Czabe craze. We listeners get a double dose ... not only during the 4-7 p.m. slot, but during the 6-10 a.m. slot opposite ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg and his metrosexuality.

On WTEM every morning, Czabe and co-pilot Lynn join forces in FOX Sports Radio's national broadcast of "The First Team."
"Mike & Mike In The Morning" is okay, but OK is OK, okay?

While Czabe has his (admitted) sexist moments, it's relatively mild -- and not as overt as the packaging of sports-talk radio served on an inner thigh.
Moreover, Czabe is good for at least three or four chuckles during each show. His sense of humor serves him well -- and having an array of Homer Simpson references/sound bytes only adds to the goodness.

The chemistry between Czabe and Andy is what makes the late afternoon solid. Andy was the perfect ringmaster when he was teamed with the often-whiny Kornheiser and Andy doesn't miss many steps with Czabe.

A keen sense of history is Andy's strength. He has a mind like a steel trap when it comes to dredging up names of 'Skins/Caps/Bullets past and bringing a smile to diehards who make a mental note of, "Yeah ... Diron Talbert and Brig Owens were underrated" or "Kevin Duckworth? Now, there's a name we haven't heard in a while."

The regular, in-studio guests dwarf the offering from "PENIS Spelled As ESPN." Czabe and Andy regularly kibitz with Knoche, Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, Mike Wise of the Washington Post, Larry Wiseman of USA Today and Dave Feldman from FOX 5 in D.C.
The chemistry is very good -- and the exchange of information (and barbs) definitely works.
One could call it "info-tainment."

Again, Marks seems earnest and semi-competent, but as an immigrant from Miami, she has too much catching up to do. She's never going to knock anyone's socks off with a reference to Calvin Pickering or Stoney Case, so it's a matter of asking #52 Ray Lew, "What time is it?" ("Game time, woof woof woof!!!") "What time is it?!" ("Game time, woof woof woof!!!")

If they're REALLY interested in genitalia, maybe PENIS Radio can order Marks to march over to M&T Bank Stadium and conduct a weeklong show re: "Why was a statue of Johnny Unitas sculpted wherein a mighty bulge exists atop the crotch?"
What's with Unitas' unit?
Who would ERECT such a joke?

Ray Lew ... what time it is?. "Time to lose to the Colts, 15-6, woof woof woof!" ...

That's how it is with your ex-girlfriend ... one day, she's goin' with the limp-n'-straight hairdo on a Thursday and then the kinked-out look on Friday ... in case she goes clubbin' and meets a guy who isn't her boyfriend.

Remember ... anybody can score with her.

Czabe and Andy, unlike our Ex, ain't gonna threaten our manhood for no reason other than to threaten it. Instead, maybe we'll go to the e-mailbag -- as they did during evening drive time before the show was switched to the morning last May -- with an intro of George Constanza telling Jerry, "I've got just the thing to cheer you up. A computer! You can check porn ... and stock quotes!"

Uh-oh ... the 980 AM signal is growing weak and the station overlap, amusingly, has Petula Clark singing "Downtown."

You're right ... "Don't Sleep In The Subway" by Pet is a better song.

Well, we're not switchin' back to 1300 because all there is to discuss there is the spead ... the Eagles!

And the Hooters affecting Longwood.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Black Thanksgiving's Black Eye

As more n' more of the details become public re: the Las Vegas strip-club shooting during the NBA All-Star Weekend (gunfire which may or may not've involved Pacman Jones) in conjunction with the Jason Whitlock's recap of the NBA All-Star Game's penchant for drawing a gangsta element, it's difficult not to look past a drop-quote from Michael Wilbon in the most-recent edition (week of Feb. 19) of The Sporting News:
"I call it Black Thanksgiving ... at the core of it are the sensibilities of African Americans and the parties we give."

Actually, that was a quote which TSN borrowed from USA Today in which Wilbon offered his trademark tagline for the NBA All-Star Weekend. Former ESPN reporter/analyst David Aldridge and former radio personality Tony Kornheiser used to kick around that "Black Thanksgiving" term all the time.

White America doesn't understand the sensibilities of African Americans and the parties they give. That's because all that White America knows about Thanksgiving is that at the First Thanksgiving, the pilgrims and the Indians sat down and shared cornish game hens, cranberry sauce, Ore-Ida tater tots and pumpkin pie.
It wasn't until sometime around the Third or Fourth Thanksgiving when the pilgrims, buzzing on too much white zinfandel, went all gangstuh on the Indians by shootin' 'em and slappin' 'round their squaws.

Eventually, the White Man would make amends with the Indians by giving them controling interest in several casinos and gaming rooms -- and all was forgiven.
"The End ..."

If it was African American gang-bangers involved in a shooting which severed the spinal cord of a victim in this case, well ... it's another sad occurence in a "Black History Month" which began with Lovie Smith becoming the first black head coach in NFL history to lose a Super Bowl.

"Thank"fully, shootings which sever spinal cords won't do much to deter White America from mourning the death of the First Lady of Topless Dancers ... Vickie Lynn Hogan (a.k.a. Anna Nicole Smith).

While CourtTV can't provide footage of the trial of whoever gunned down Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams on New Year's Day, coverage of the Vickie Hogan death/aftermath will never die.

Who benefits?
You do, America ... you do.
(And, that means YOU, too, members of the Iroquois tribe who are supervising the TV monitors which spy on the action at the crap tables. One day, Iroquois Nation will rise up and have a brave chieftan win every Super Bowl trophy which the White Man took for himself ... )

Monday, February 19, 2007

CLINT BOWYER: Greatest Stunt Driver Ever!

When most of us saw the highlight of Clint Bowyer ending his day at the Daytona 500 yesterday by crossing the finish line while skidding upside-down on his roof before his 07 Jack Daniels racecar then slid onto the grass, tipped over on its side and then came to rest rightside-up as a mini fire flickers on the space between the hood and windshield, well ... that was our NASCAR-memory-to-last-an-entire-season right there.
Top that, Sterling Marlin!

That's really the only sports moment we can recollect from the weekend in which we pretty much boycotted sports and devoted time to enjoying the company of the Mrs. and the superdawg, The Outlaw Josey Wales -- except for that moment when we accidentally clicked the TV clicker to three minutes of the George Mason at Virginia Commonwealth WOMEN'S game.

Yup ... GMU @ VCU ... chicks ... on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

"Mason on Massin" ("Massin" ... the loving reference for MASN) ...

In that 3-minute window of chicks b-ball, not only were there no dunks, but there wasn't a player who had the stones to attempt skidding upside-down on the roof of the 07 Jack Daniels racecar before sliding onto the grass, tipping over on one side and then coming to rest rightside-up as a mini fire flickers on the space between the hood and windshield.

Which is probably why there must've been a crowd of 56 folks at that game.

No lie, Sport ... the MASN camera angle didn't deceive. There must've been 8-12 fans behind each bench -- which means that it's a safe bet that there were 28-32 people seated near the midcourt stripe on either side of the court.

If you haven't experienced the thrill of acting as a fill-in P.A. announcer for an NCAA women's b-ball game attended by fewer than 100 fans (as some of us have), well, there's nothing that can match the excitement of the echo effect when you lean close to the microphone and, using your best baritone voice, inform those 73-89 fans, "Spartan basket by Sheila Brown ..."

Kinda makes ya wanna drive home after the game and skid upside-down on your roof and debate whether or not to climb out when the car lands rightside-up and the fire flickers between the hood and the windshield.

Engulf me, flames ... engulf me now ...

Friday, February 16, 2007

To Crush A Predator

In the mixed-up world of the the NHL, the Nashville Predators aren't actually the predators, but more like the prey once we look at the Western Conference standings and see where the Detroit Red Wings are perched.

So, the Predators are NOT the predators -- and that might be a tad confusing to those of us who spend less than 15 minutes each week watching NBC (the home of "The NHL on NBC") and its Dateline task force working in conjunction with Perverted Justice to foil some 46-male-vs.-13-female/male love scenes in the presentation we know as "To Catch A Predator."

Makes ya wonder why NBC hasn't had any Predator games in its Saturday package.
All we get is some beer-bellied hick or a pencilneck pedophile telling Chris Hanson, "I wuzzint gonna do nuthin'. I jus' wanted to talk to her/him ..."

Powerful journalism aside, the newest, trendiest Stanley Cup hopeful is the team in Nashville with the sabre-toothed cat logo on the sweater. The trendiness just got ratcheted up a bit now that the Preds have landed Peter Forsberg from the goin'-nowhere Philly Flyers.
Seems weird, doesn't it? This is usually the time of year when the locals are obsessing with their Tennessee Titans' draft needs, the Vandy b-ball team which'll get knocked out in the first round of the NCAAs and the "real" TV talent show to determine Americans' idols ... "Nashville Star."

No doubt about it, the talent on that show is abundantly more-obvious than the FOX show which serves up wayyyyy too much Ryan Seacrest each week.
Besides, our hostess is Jewel.
And that's wayyyyy better than Seacrest, who a lot of us wish was the one --and not Billy Joe -- who jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

Back on point, Forsberg is now the new Nashville star, taking over for Paul Kariya, the guy who everyone forgot played for the Preds ... that is, 90 percent of hockey fans which walked away following the lockout.

So, the deal is that Hockeytown's biggest obstacle to the '07 Stanley Cup is what awaits in Honky Tonk Town. Back in the days when Stevie Y was wearing the captain's "C" and Shanny had the alternate-captain "A," this was a "no biggie" predicament.
Now, Stevie Y is at The Joe every night, outfitted in $1,000 suits as he sits in his asst. VP box upstairs.
And Shanny's playing for the NYR in MSG.
So, much for the "C" and the "A" that we grew up with.

Ever since the LOCKOUT left a lot of us with some icy feelings about the sport after we'd had our hearts Zambonied, we don't get to worked up, positively or negatively, about the Western Conference standings.
Actually, we never have.
The regular season -- at least, in Hockeytown in the mid- to late-'90s -- served as nuthin' more than an opportunity for the Wings n' Avs to unleash some serious aggression (goalies Vernon and Roy squaring off in the middle of the rink in '97 and then Osgood and Roy performing the same feat in '98 ... or was it '96 for those two?) as a prelude to the intensity of their annual playoff showdown.

Speaking of netminders, the regular season serves as little more than an ice-time tuneup for the masked men to sharpen the skills that they'll need for the 2-month meatgrinder which is the Stanley Cup playoffs.
That's about it, as we've learned from recent adequate goalies on nowhere teams (see: last year's finals with the Hurricanes' Colin Ward and those two Edmonton goalies whose names we can't remember if you put a gun to our head ... OK, so it was Dwyane Rolloson and Ty Conklin ... but, then what ever happened to Nikolai Khabibulin -- "The 'Bulin Wall" -- from the year before the lockout ... or, who was the Calgary goalie from that season? Kiprusoff? ... and who was the goalie for Anaheim which got the Ducks to a Finals Game 7 vs. Brodeur and New Jersey in '03)?

In the words of Groundskeeper Willy as he rakes his pile of lonely leaves ... "Willy hears ya. Willy don't care."

Commissioner Batman's NHL is mighty forgettable -- but since he has no huge TV deal such as the ones which the three major sports have, Batman needs to generate revenue by filling up arenas as often as possible.
Batman would have a 100-game regular season if he could and add an extra round of playoffs wityh the No. 4 seed playing the No. 12 in the first round with the winner of that best-of-9 series meeting the conference's No. 1 seed in the best-of-11 series in Round Two.

So, whereas two of the Original Six (Toronto and the NY Rangers) are completely unrecognizable, at least the Leafs (which haven't won a Cup since 1967) and the NY Rangers (which have won one Cup since 1940) play before packed houses.
Sadly, teams such as the Rangers, the L.A. Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks play in the three largest media markets, so unless Batman can work out a 150-game, regular-season schedule and several rounds of best-of-15 playoff series, America's never gonna meet the stars in those cities.
Sorry, Gretz, Mess and psycho Eddie Belfour.
Snocrossin' with snowmobiles at the Winter X Games has more identifiable stars than the Rangers, Kings and 'Hawks combined.

At least, Hockeytown's bid for the '07 Cup will have familiar faces between the pipes -- albeit those faces will be obscured by customized masks.
Now that the Curtis Joseph/Manny Legace Experience is a thing of the past at The Joe, it's up to The Dominator and Ozzie ... goalies who have won the Cup while wearing the winged wheel on their sweaters.

Has it really been five years since Hasek lost Games 1 and 2 to Vancouver at The Joe, then notched four wins in a row vs. the pesky Canucks?
Doesn't it seem like only last year (instead of May '02) when Hasek lost Games 4 and 5 to the Avs (hard-fought though they were) in the conference finals, then turned up his play a notch and blanked Colorado, 2-0, in Game 6 (on the road) and then, 7-0, in Game 7 at The Joe?

Then, there's Ozzie ... the baby-faced puckstopper who could've wilted under the pressure of what was expected of him in '98 -- one season after Mike Vernon won the Conn Smythe Trophy while leading Hockeytown to its first title since 1955 ... a jubilant time in Motown which lasted all of one week once that pot-smokin' driver crashed his limo which was carrying Vladimir Konstantinov, Slava Fetisov and Sergei Mnetsakanov.

Ozzie seemed to take that "Believe" battlecry to heart, particularly in the playoffs when he allowed that shot from center ice by Al MacInnis to get by him and give St. Louis a cheapie win.
Ozzie bounced back ... especially after what happened in Game 5 of the conference finals against Dallas when he, once again, allowed a ridiculously-soft goal (memory seems to say that it was off the stick of Jamie Langenbrunner) that allowed the Stars to stay alive instead of Detroit clinching the series, 4-games-to-1 at home.
Instead, the Wings went on the road and Ozzie notched a shutout in Game 6.

The thing we remember about the Finals sweep against Washington that year is how Yat Yzerman said that the first person he was going to hand the Cup to was Ozzie, just as a way of saying that the team never lost faith in him.
But, then Vladi was in his wheelchair on the ice and, well ... you know.

Those were some great memories ... but Detroit's ready to carve out some new ones with a meaningless game next Saturday at Nashville, then, with three pointless encounters with the Preds in an eight-day span within the first two weeks of March (in Hockeytown on the 6th, then, a home-and-home on the 13th and the 14th).
With the drawn-out playoff format, being a No. 1 seed doesn't carry any more clout than a No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 seed, really -- further substaintiating the claim from this end of the blogsphere: "A playoff system simply does not work!"

But, since a playoff is the format, Detroit probably isn't losing much sleep over the prospect of facing Predator goalies Tomas Vokoun and/or Chris Mason in March ... or in May in the conference finals.
The Wings are (probably) hungrier this year than last year when four of their stars -- Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Tomas Holstrom and Niklas Kronwall -- were more amped about winning the Olympic gold medal for Sweden.
Thus, an NHL-best 58-16-8 record went down the drain.

So, no need to bludgeon the opposition with the President's Trophy.
The Stanley Cup playoffs (on Versus!) are where stars are made. Still, it remains a mystery to Batman as to why ratings for last year's playoffs were so dismal when the Cinderella story of Colin Ward was evolving.

Ward had a 5-6 record (with a goals-against greater than 4.00) during the final month of the regular season, then was (appropriately) zoning out on the Hurricanes' bench during Game 2 of the first-round vs. Montreal when (suddenly!) his mediocre, no-talent ass was called into action when the super-crappy Martin Garber allowed three goals to the Canadiens in the game's first 15 minutes.

Apparently, most of America doesn't want to see mediocrity gettin' hot because it reminds most of us that we'd be No. 3 on the 'Canes goalie depth chart.
And it reminds us of watching Rex Grossman attempt to play quarterback.

So, we've still got two more months to determine nuthin' in the NHL.
It should be fun ...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mega-McElwainian J-Macmania

If you're an emotional type -- i.e., you get mildly choked up when you see the look in the eyes of those caged pups in the Pedigree dog food commercials as David Ducovny offers some poignant narration (as alluded to in this space quite recently) -- then maybe your own compassion did a complete and immediate 180 once you saw Jason McElwain making the rounds today.
Apparently, we're somewhere near that point on the calendar which marks the one-year anniversary of The Great American J-Mac Autism-Related B-Ball Hoax of '06.

That's right ... the 180-degree turn that we talked about deals with the about-face from "compassion" to "contempt" -- and, if Doug Flutie's son "Dougie" (one of America's most-notable autistic kids) is capable, he's throwing things (anything ... everything) at the TV.

Look ... it's not J-Mac's fault. He didn't ask to be whored-out by his handlers.

In fact, the only thing J-Mac's handlers haven't done is make him jump through a ring of fire during some sort of contrived "Jump Through A Ring of Fire To Cure Autism" gala.

Most of us simply ain't buying the implication set forth by J-Mac's handlers -- that, somehow, the publicity stunt of a year ago (not to mention subsequent publicity stunts) are helping to (use your fingers to create air quotes here) "create a greater awareness of autism."
To make that connection is comparable to saying that Barbaro gave us a keener sense of thoroughbred racing ... or that Lisa Nowak provided insight re: the inner workings of NASA ... or that Vickie Lynn Hogan (a.k.a. Anna Nicole Smith) supplied us with "family values."

What America did, as it turns out, was to objectify an autistic high-school senior, a racehorse, an astronaut and a no-talent, topless dancer.
If Elton John won't write another candle-in-the-wind song, then the least he can do is re-work that lyric ... "Hold me close, now, topless dancer ..."

There's no folk song in the works (yet) for J-Mac -- but Earv Johnson's movie-production company has already bought the rights to J-Mac's life story, so America had better brace itself for a film full of pathos.


As per which actor will play the lead of J-Mac, we received barely more than a hint when that life-sized, cardboard-cut-out named Ann Curry sat down with J-Mac on "Today."
The friendly B.S. was harmless -- but, not too insightful, since all we got outta J-Mac was that he wanted Matthew McConaughey to portray him in the movie.
Actually, does not this seem more likely a role better suited for Jet Li or Wesley Snipes?
Or, maybe Jason Statham from those "Transporter" movies?

The Jason-Jason angle really works.
It's box-office gold.
Run with it!

Say, what about Dustin Hoffman in the lead?
True, it was almost 20 years ago when Dusty was Raymond Babbitt, winning our hearts with his famous "Five minutes 'til Wapner" catch-phrase and, yes ... Hoff will turn 70 this summer and, ummm, it is true that not too many 70-year-olds have portrayed teenagers on the big screen.

Then again, Dusty is such a legendary master of the acting craft that it wouldn't take him very long to learn how to sink six-of-10 three-pointers.
The role calls for someone to shoot the J.
It didn't take J-Mac long ... and that dude's got autism.
Besides, if Dusty misses a shot, it's, "Let's do it again from the top! Take two!"

Our greatest fear is that Earv's Hollywoodland treatment of J-Mac won't answer any of the questions which Ann Curry (conveniently) forgot to ask J-Mac's handlers, such as, "If J-Mac scored 20 points in four-plus minutes, how come he didn't earn a start in the next game?"

After silence from that bastage coach (that pimping son of bastage named Jim Johnson), Ann Curry could've been a (air quotes here!) "journalist" (and not a prop) and immediately asked, "Was it because, if he'd played another game, J-Mac might've done something silly or stupid? Was it because he might've 'gotten in the way'? Or was it because autistic kids are good at handing out towels, but cannot be trusted to do much else?"

Again ... silence.
"Say, let's talk about the movie!"

America has that funny feeling that the movie will NOT deal an "issues" as weighty as autism.
In America, the only controversial issues we like to discuss are whether the scene wherein Dakota Fanning is raped is presented "tastefully."

Either way, the motion picture "J-Mac 20" (unless, as we specified, Jason Statham lands the lead role and they call it "The Transporter 3" wherein a lone transporter overcomes autism and delivers not only a "package" but also breathtaking martial arts skillz to eliminate 50 or 60 bad guys) is one that Dougie Flutie ain't gonna watch.
Not even when it comes out on DVD.

Seriously ... what do people expect from a so-called "entrepreneur" who dazzled us all with his hosting of "The Magic Hour" late-night talk show? Earv himself said that his movie-production company will look to portray an ordinary kid doing ordinary things.
America sez: "BORRRRR-RINNNNNG!"

For someone who invented "Showtime," Earv don't know squat about the First Amendment of Filmmaking 101.
"An ordinary kid doing ordinary things ..." -- that's what webcams are for. If that's what Earv's brainstorming has yielded, then J-Mac might as well make the movie himself.
Y'know ... "the J-Mac-umentary."

Scene One: The alarm clock sounds, J-Mac rises from his bed, showers and then brushes his teeth. "This is my bathroom," he tells America. "Welcome to another day in 'McElwainia'!"
Scene Two: J-Mac reads a comic book ... while pinching a loaf.
(In the theater, a little girl whispers to her Mommy, "When are they gonna show the autism?")

Seems about as dull as "ED TV" (hey! that was a Matthew McConaughey movie!)
Anyway, movies are most compelling when they portray ordinary kids doing "extra"ordinary things.
Oh, and hilarious/slapstick-ish situations always get major thumbs-up reactions -- as we saw in films about ordinary people such as "Borat" and "Norbit."

Maybe we shouldn't be so cynical and pessimistic. The movie might, in the end, win us over.

That is ... if J-Mac is allowed to defeat Apollo Creed for the heavyweight title.
Or if he defeats -- in a merciful manner -- the undefeated Tigris of Gaul in the center of the Coliseum.
Or if he teams up with Maverick and Goose and Iceman as the foursome fly their jet fighters, blah blah, blah.

Something tells us that J-Mac might be depicted as Jason Bourne in "The Bourne 3-Pointery" ... this summer's smash-hit follow-up to "The Bourne Identity" and "The Bourne Supremacy."
That Jason-Jason angle really works.
It's box-office gold.
Run with it!

It might be fun to see what J-Mac's gonna do when he learns that The Professor didn't really die in that field in Germany or that Wombosi -- the assasination assignment which J-Mac blew in the first place before The Professor cleaned up J-Mac's mess by gunning down the African activist -- is still alive, too.
The difficult part might be getting Clive Owen to reprise his role as The Professor and for Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje (you also remember him as "Mr. Ekko" from ABC's "Lost") to return from the dead as Wombosi.
Either way, The Professor and Wombosi are gonna be pissed at J-Mac.

These days ... who isn't?

Well, until Magic gets that movie made and until this J-Mac full-length feature comes to a drive-in near you, is it reasonable to expect that this J-Mac "story" will vanish so that the real friends of autism can do what they do best?
Such as assist the autistic?
The longer it takes to get this movie made, the older Dustin Hoffman gets ... and the harder it will be for him to portray an Alzheimer's patient who shoots three-pointers from his wheelchair.

The script calls for "autism," not Alzheimer's.
Alas, such are the liberties that are taken in the movie-making "process."
Take, for example, a movie such as "Pride of the Yankees." The problem with that script was that never once did we see the scene where Lou Gehrig invented Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Then, Lou was gone.
And, with him went the cure for Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Hooray for Hollywood.

See ya at the premiere ...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Best In Show = The Puggle?

Once again, the puggle -- not to mention "the schnoodle" -- got jobbed.
That's what happens when the Westminster Kennel Club gets all snooty with its bourgeois attitude and "pure-bred" logic.
What it means to America is that we'll get an even larger lump in our throat every time we hear David Ducovny narrating the Pedigree dog food commercial in which we see a montage of mixed-breed dogs peering out from behind chain-link barriers.

There's no way around it: The WKC promotes the worst type of stereotyping -- something we know as "profiling."
Which is why the cross-breeds of pug + beagle = "puggle" and schnauzer + poodle = "schnoodle" will never gain acceptance -- let alone a "best in show" ribbon -- among the so-called canine "elite."

Luckily, there is a defender of the mutts -- and it's: rotweiler + hand-puppet = Triumph The Insult Comedy Dog.
Triumph acknowledges the Fifi-types and informs us, "I schtooped her."

Regardless of this elitism, tonight's winner in the 131st edition of the WKC's fashion show wasn't the worst choice in the world -- an English spaniel.

The good news? At least it wasn't a clumber spaniel.
The bad news? This is the second time that a springer spaniel has won in the past eight WKC shows. "Diamond Jim" follows in the footsteps of "Samantha," the springer spaniel who won in 2000.

Sadly, in the 131 years of this prestigious show, the Golden Retriever has never captured top honours.
That's some serious anti-Retrieverism in action.
And there's no excuse for it.

Diamond Jim and "Harry" (the Dandie Dinmont co-owned by Bill Cosby) were two of the favourites in this show -- and while neither was as offensive as any toy poodle which has ever won its best-of-breed classification, neither Jim nor Harry were was handsome as the PBGV (Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen).
Now that ya mention it, of all the spaniels in this dog's world, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel probably gets the nod as the best.

Tonight's winner had a full "official" name of "Felicity's Diamond Jim" -- which is a lot better than the Kuvasz which finished fourth in the Working group ("Szumeria's Wildwood Penny From Heaven") and the Dalmation which finished third in the Non-Sporting group ("Merry Go Round Mach Ten").
Here at the Haystack Hideaway, the official team mascot of this domicile is a Golden named "SuperDawg" -- but that's merely your typical abbreviation for his registered WKC name:
"Pall Mall North Tonawanda Heath Bar Crunch The Outlaw Josey Wales."

Well, it might not be a bad idea if these Westminsterians cleaned up their act and had the previous year's winner present the best-in-show, purple-n'-gold ribbon.
Last year's winner was Rufus, the brown-coloured bull terrier who won our hearts with his spunk and verve and handsome lines.

Diamond Jim wasn't bad -- but maybe too much apron.

Anyway, there didn't seem to be anyone wearing black armbands for "Vivi," the ribbon-winning whippet from last year's WKC showcase who, somehow, broke free from her cage at JFK Airport -- and was never seen again.
That definitely is not a heartwarming story ... probably the work of dognappers.

In Vivi's memory, let's recall the time when Bart used his illegal credit card to buy that showdog -- a collie named "Laddie" -- and then felt the guilt as his mutt, Santa's Little Helper, was taken away by the repo men.
When Bart and Homer sat on the sofa watching TV, Laddie entered the living room with a card which he presented to Bart.

The message was: "Time for a walk" (card no. 0076)
HOMER: "I'd take him, but those cards are non-transferable."
BART: "I have GOT to find out where he's hiding these."

Well, all's well that end's well because Bart did a dog-exchange with the blind man who had Santa's Little Helper (and had renamed him "Sprinkles") -- except there was that awkward moment at the end when Laddie sniffed out the baggie of marijuana in the blind man's pocket.

Laddie ... go find Vivi!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Snackin' On TrimSpa

There's really only three things to say about the death of Vickie Lynn Hogan (a.k.a. Anna Nicole Smith):
--- This gets the astroNUT/stalker/B.B. gun-enthusiast (a.k.a. Lisa Nowak) off the front page after her 2 1/2-day reign ...
--- Since we haven't heard from Reginald Dwight (a.k.a. Sir Elton John) in awhile, is this not reason enough to crank out a "Goodbye Vickie Lynn" song like the ones he composed for Norma Jean (a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe) and England's Rose (a.k.a. Lady Di) ... y'know, with catchy metaphors such as people living their lives like a candle in the wind?
--- For those of us who had Jon-Benet's Make-Believe Killer (a.k.a. John Mark Karr) as the winner in the pool of "Who'll Step Up To The Mike Next?" we lost big money when Prince Frederic von Asswipe (a.k.a. Zsa Zsa Gabor's hubby, who isn't a prince at all, by the way) made a big comotion today by tossing in his two cents worth of innuendo and heresay (which he jazzed up on Larry King's show by saying "full of shit" and "bullshit").

Sure makes ya feel bad for the survivors of J. Howard Marshall.
It's as though America is killing the dirty old coot all over again.

So, what does this have to do with sports?
Well, it means that some of us will spend tomorrow night watching the Pro Bowl while eating handfuls of TrimSpa right outta the cannister ... y'know, like the way that we munch on Pringles.
That is ... if TrimSpa comes in a cannister.
Does it?
We're a little unfamiliar with the Y2K ways of weight loss ever since our homemade method -- granulated ephedra sprinkled over our corn flakes chased with unfiltered Pall Malls -- was outlawed as a "viable" appetite suppressant.

The point we're trying to make is that Vickie Hogan's death yesterday will never qualify for the Top 50 in our catalog of "We Remember Where We Were And What We Were Doing When ... "
Sports almost always does that to us ... and, occasionally, news-related items, too, such as how we remember where we were and what we were doing when Neil Armstrong stepped outside the capsule and set foot on the moon ... and we remember where we were and what we were doing when the first Space Shutte (Columbia) blasted off in April '81 ... and when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded (during lift-off) in Jan. '86 ("Ground Control to Major Tom, your circuit's dead, there's something wrong, can you hear me Major Tom?") ... and when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded (during re-entry) in Feb. '03 ("Waiting in a trance, the crew is certain / Nothing left to chance, all is working / Trying to relax, up in the capsule / 'Send me up a drink,' jokes Major Tom") ... and when those two jumbo jets collided on the runway in Tenerife (a.k.a. the Canary Islands) and nearly 600 people died ... and when Atta crashed his hijacked jumbo jet into the North Tower in Sept. '01 ...

Oh ... and when Lennon was shot.
And Reagan was shot.
And when the Sikh extremists gunned down Indira Gandhi.

See? The news is always depressing.
Sports is a little more uplifting, notwithstanding the where-we-were-and-what-we-were-doing recollections of when Roberto Clemente's plane went down ... or when the Marshall football team's plane went down ... or when Thurman Munson's plane went down ... or when Bo Rein's plane went down ... or when the Hindenburg went down in Lakehurst, NJ ... or when the limousine in which Vladimir Konstantinov was a passenger crashed into that tree ... or when Brook Berringer's plane went down ... or when Payne Stewart's jet went down ... or when Rodney Culver's flight went down in the Florida Everglades ... or when Rocky Marciano's plane went down ... or when Knute Rockne's plane went down ... or when Cory Lidle's plane hit the NYC high-rise ... or when the car in which Mike Bastinanelli was driving and Darrell Russell was ridin' shotgun crashed into a curb, a tree, a newsstand, a fire hydrant, a light pole, another tree and an unoccupied transit bus at 6 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 15, 2005.

Jeez ... what's with all the athletes and their aviation tragedies?
Thankfully, those are a thing of the past -- and, so far, through the first 40-some-odd days of '07, all we've had are the gunning down of Denver Bronco Darrent Williams on New Year's Day, the falling-off-a-cliff-near-San Pedro death of USC placekicker Mario Danelo a little more than a week after that and the euthanization of America's equine sweetheart, Barbaro, last week.

The landmarks of our lives are not always death-related, although the Mrs. will tell ya that our love was "taking off" as Jim Kelly was piloting her Buffalo Bills to four crash-landings in Super Bowls.
According to her (and a lot of Bills diehards who are more diehardish than she), the pilot of the K-Gun offense was, to some extent, operating the heavy machinery known as the Bills' offense while "under the influence."
So sayeth THIS tribunal: "Justified."

It's not all about anguish and despair.
For those of us who had an ex-girlfriend/fiancee who was courting a Phillies diehard, she probably shoulda done the math as to why the relationship crumbled.
The Phillies went to the World Series the year before we started dating and went to the World Series the year after we broke up.
Obviously, the Phillies weren't inspired to do anything noteworthy during that span.

And, let's not get started about the Steelers.
Giving away free Steelers-Niners tix so that we could attend a wedding?
That's total chick B.S.
It's unconstitutional and immoral.
(It doesn't matter that they lost, 27-7, at Candleshit -- or that Barry Foster allowed that kickoff to bounce free into the end zone without paying much mind to it ... and that the Niners fell on it for a freebie TD ... or that it was an ugly loss wedged in between a powerful, 34-17, win at Mile High and a powerful, 41-10, victory over the Rams on Monday Night Football ... goddammit, Barry, go fetch the F-ing football for chrissakes!)

WHICH REMINDS US ... remember a few years ago when NFL Films/ESPN manufactured that "fantasy" formula for determining an all-time NFL's greatest team? Some of the production value was excellent, such as computerizing Howard Cosell into a virtual pressbox with Joe Theismann (which we know would NOT work nowadays because Joe already had his ego/hands full with an unphotogenic pencilneck named Tony Kornhusker, who regularly goaded the QB into supplying answers which reked of exasperation ...
Anyway, when NFL Films put together it's all-time fantasy playoff broadcasts, it required splicing together many games from seasons past (obviously ... since we can't get the '72 Dolphins to play the '85 Bears).
However, one of the teams featured in the showcase was the '78 Steelers ... and in their game against the '88/'89 Niners (we can't remember which), one of the plays used was Barry Foster's knuckleheaded brain-freeze on the kickoff.
Since Barry Foster wore #29, our game "announcers" (Mike Patrick and Co.) informed us that Ron Johnson (who wore #29 as a Steeler in his years there, '78 thru '84) was the boneheaded kick-returner.
That was mean.
Totally uncalled for.
And, if Ron Johnson has the means, he should send PhotoShop'ed e-mail attachments to the family of Cosell wherein Howie's face is superimposed over all images of John Wayne Gacy ... a fascinating photo essay entitled, "Why Did Howard Cosell Perform And Receive Felatio From Those 33 Teenaged Boys Before Murdering Them And Burying Them Under The Crawl Space Of His House?"

Wait ... weren't we talking about Vickie Hogan?
Actually, we have the next several weeks/months/years to discuss that circus.
She died, but the story's gonna burn bright for years n' years n' years.

The fact of the matter is, we don't remember where we were and what we were doing when we didn't care that a complete no-talent died.
What we remember is where we were and what we were doing when we learned that the U.S. hockey team had defeated the Soviets ... and where we were when Franco made his Immaculate Reception ... and where we were when Big Ben provided The Bus with the Immaculate Redemption ... and where we were when Dutch hit that 2-run double in Game 6 ... or when Sooner TB Quentin Griffin dashed up the middle for the clinching TD in the BCS title game in Jan. '01 ... or when Yzerman's mad-dash down the ice in the opening minute of Game 3 led to that back-breaking goal by Tomas Holmstrom ...

We could play this all day.
While we're eating from the snack platter of Triscuit and TrimSpa ...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Which JC Didja Sign With, Paul McCoy?

Just about everybody agrees that the best part of "National Letter of Intent Day" for aspiring college football players is that when these student-athletes sign on the dotted line, the colleges are getting "a sure thing."
That's to say, this is the cream of the crop, ready to excel at "the next level."
It's not like what happens 'round NASA where the astronaut you fell in love with might turn out to be the astroNUT with a B.B. gun in her car.

While some of us are shocked and dismayed (and others of us pretend that we are), the story of the wacky "she"stronaut makes us feel a lot better about the days when our own obsession with 15-, 16-, 17- or 18-year-olds caused us to lose our minds and semi-obsess in a quasi-predatory manner (the laws in your state may vary, so check the penal code at a dept. of corrections near you).

Now that most of us have either beaten the rap or pleaded out and, thereby, gotten our lives squared-away, we've re-directed our focus toward those exciting teenaged boys who put on the helmets n' the pads and prepare their developing bodies for battles on the gridiron. For the best of those prep warriors, they will turn it up a notch in college, remembering to avoid player agents while remembering to embrace masking agents.

There exists probably more than a dozen recruiting publications, media outlets, NFL Combine-style meat markets and off-season camps by which these kids (or their parents and/or legal guardians) can peddle their flesh to college programs.
With so many options, what was once an uncivilized recruiting/signing jungle is now a Recruiting Safari, USA theme park.

Best of all, the "process" is highly-scientific. It's not like the ol' days when we'd scope out that 15-year-old who was the best friend of the 15-year-old who was atop your recruit list, which seemed like a waste of time given that you'd spent that Friday afternoon -- hours before the season opener -- doin' some serious mashing with that 18-year-old who'd already graduated from your rival high school.
Lancers are 'sposed to kill Panthers, not mate with them. You simply cannot let the green n' white intermingle with black n' gold and ... "enough already!" about the ol' Pitchfork's senior year of high school.

Instead, we should be discussing what's on the football horizon for Paul McCoy -- and how he could put a college program "over the top" in the recruiting wars.
As you'll recall, McCoy rushed for a national record 661 yards last Sept. 29 while leading Matewan High (W.Va.) to a 64-0 win over Burch. In eclipsing the previous record of 619 yards set by Ronney Jenkins of Hueneme (Ca.) in '95, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound McCoy had 10 TD runs which totaled 447 yards -- scoring from 69, 1, 52, 56, 52, 20, 31, 84, 87 and 25 yards.
That HAD to be a fun night for the Burch Bunch.

What makes 661 fascinating to ponder is A) It forces us to find "Matewan" on the map of West Virginia B) It makes us remember the problems which plagued Ronney Jenkins, who actually spent roughly 3 or 4 games performing electrifying kick-return feats for the San Diego Chargers and C) It causes us to flash back to the time when the Mrs. attempted to pronounce "Hueneme" (it's "wy-NEE'-mee" not "HUE'-nemmy" .. and those bastards ended our season in the CIF Southern Section 3A baseball semifinals when that son of a b ...).

Again ... this is supposed to be about Paul McCoy.

As it was, McCoy opened his senior season with a 537-yard game and, although his 661 put him at 1,820 through the first five games, it's doubtful that he averaged more than 500 ypg during the final five regular-season games (and/or playoffs) to shatter Tyler Ebell's national record 4,494 set in '01 for Ventura High (just up the Calif. coast from Port Hueneme).

It's fun to bring up Tyler Ebell's name just because A) Tyler Ebell's one of the few people alive to go alphabet soup w/ his colleges -- UCLA and UTEP and B) Tyler Ebell was one of the Big Three -- along with ex-UCLA'ers/current-NFL'ers Maurice Jones-Drew and Ricky Manning, Jr.(Ebell was not drafted in '06) -- who were charged with assaulting that guy who was working on his laptop at 2 a.m. at a SoCal Denny's last year.

It's sad when Brutalized Bruins go all beatdown on civilians just because the Trojans spent eight consecutive USC-UCLA games playfully violating their rivals from Wuss-wood.
But, these are the life lessons to be learned once a hot-shot recruit lands at a big-time program (or a top-flight JC ... or what some still refer to as a "juco" ... isn't that right, Paul McCoy?).

Despite all the pageantry of "the process," there's no way anyone should've touched with a 10-foot pole the Espy Network's coverage of Signing Day.
Well,for starters, Mike Gottfried was one of the hosts. Mike Gottfried used to be a head coach for the Pitt Panthers -- and Mike Gottfried used to sit in the living rooms of recruits and say a lot of interesting things to the recruits (and to the parents/legal guardians/kin/posses of recruits).
Mike Gottfried and the Pitt Panthers eventually parted ways, but that hasn't kept Mike Gottfried from doing a less than "bang-up" job for EspyTime.

So, with EspyTime performin' a hatchet job on the process, some of us embraced the moment as we do every year at this time -- by stepping inside the college-football-magazine vault here at the Pitchfork Compound and exploring what Signing Day '02 (five years ago) and Signing Day '97 (10 years ago) had to offer.
Betcha we find some "misses" to go along with the "hits" -- or, if you prefer, a proportionate amount of "suspects" to match the "prospects."

Come along for a ride-along, Paul McCoy.
You got shotgun ...

First, let's peek at the Recruiting Report (compiled by Bill King ... whoever he is -- or thinks he is) which appeared in the '02 edition of the Athlon Sports Football National Edition (Vol. 8).
If you have it, the nostalgia is delicious ... Miami's Ken Dorsey and Notre Dame's Julius Jones grace the front cover while, on the back cover, there's an ad for Gillette's Mach 3 Turbo.
Dang! Remember when we were shaving with only three blades back in the Dark Ages of '02?
That was before Schick came along with its 4-bladed Quattro ... and before Gillette invented the 5-bladed Fusion.

Five years from now, we'll all be shaving with Nike's 8-bladed razor.

Right ... back to Athlon's "Top 100" freshmen for '02.
Here's a sampling of the top one-fourth of that hot hundred:

1. Vincent Young QB -- Houston TX -- TEXAS
2. Ryan Moore WR -- Orlando, FL -- MIAMI
3. Lorenzo Booker RB -- Ventura, CA -- FLORIDA ST.
4. Rodrique Wright DL -- Alief, TX -- TEXAS
5. Gerald Riggs, Jr. RB -- Chattanooga, TN -- TENNESSEE
6. Chris Davis WR -- St. Petersburg, FL -- FLORIDA ST.
7. Ciatrick Fason RB -- Neptune Beach, FL -- FLORIDA
8. Ben Olson QB -- Thousand Oaks, CA -- BYU
9. Max Jean-Giles OL -- Miami, FL -- GEORGIA
10. Mike D'Andrea LB -- Avon Lake, OH -- OHIO ST.
11. Larry Dibbles DL -- Lancaster, TX -- TEXAS
12. Reggie McNeal QB -- Lufkin, TX -- TEXAS A&M
13. Pat Watkins DB -- Tallahassee, FL -- FLORIDA ST.
14. Dejuan Robinson DL -- Hernando, MS -- MISS. ST.
15. Nathan Rhodes OL -- Bakersfield, CA -- WASHINGTON
16. Brandon Jefferies OL -- Shelby, NC -- TENNESSEE
17. Michael Johnson RB -- Newport News, VA -- VIRGINIA
18. Ahmad Brooks LB -- Woodbridge, VA -- VIRGINIA
19. Haloti Ngata DL -- Salt Lake City, UT -- OREGON
20. Leon Washington ATH -- Jacksonville, FL -- FLORIDA ST.
21. Winston Justice OL -- Long Beach, CA -- USC
22. Derek Morris OL -- Huntersville, NC -- OHIO ST.
23. Ricardo Hurley LB -- Greenwood, SC -- SO. CAROLINA
24. Brian Pickryl DE -- Tulsa, OK -- TEXAS
25. Dishon Platt WR -- Punta Gorda, FL -- FLORIDA ST.

Other glamor boys included:
27) RB Jerious Norwood -- Miss. St. ... 32) WR Devin Hester -- Miami ... 33) QB James Banks -- Tennessee ... 34) QB Gavin Dickey -- Florida ... 35) Trent Edwards -- Stanford ... 39) QB Marcus Vick -- Virginia Tech ... 40) QB Justin Zwick -- Ohio St. ... 42) WR Ben Obomanu -- Auburn ... 44) RB Maurice Clarett -- Ohio St. ... 47) QB Tyler Palko -- Pittsburgh ... 55) RB David Richard, Jr. -- Michigan St. ... 58) DE Tamba Hali -- Penn St. ... 59) RB DeShawn Wynn -- Florida ... 70) Darnell Bing -- USC ... 71) DL Kamerion Wimbley -- Florida St. ... 72) DE Chase Pittman -- Texas ... 77) LB Kai Parham -- Virginia ... 78) WR Devin Aromashodu -- Auburn ... 83) DL Quinn Pitcock -- Ohio St. ... 84) QB Anthony Martinez -- Virginia ... 87) QB Matt Gutierrez -- Michigan ... 97) QB Isaiah Stanback -- Washington ...

Lorenzo Booker, jeez ... remember how he was tearing up Ventura (for St. Bonaventure) one season after Tyler Ebell was tearing it up for the Ventura High Condors?
On the other hand, this list is a little misleading when we look at No. 72 ... Chase Pittman. Pittman was NOT an "incoming" freshman in '02 -- in fact, he signed on Letter of Intent Day in Feb. '01. Three weeks later, Chase Pittman's older brother, Cole Pittman (who was already a Texas Longhorn), was killed in a car accident.
Pittman eventually transferred to LSU to avoid reminders of his brother -- and now his fate in the '07 NFL Draft is in the hands of Mel Kiper, Jr.'s Bouffant.

Nitpicking aside, Young, Ngata, Wimbley and Hali all ended up as first-round selections in the '06 NFL Draft. Yet, it's more enjoyable to imagine Auburn fans/boosters/alums as they tried to say the names "Obumanu" and "Aromashodu" on Signing Day '02.
And, it's fascinating to ponder what the reaction was in C-Bus on that very same days when the Buckeye faithful were drooling over the national championships the Scarlet-and-Gray were going to win in '05 and '06 with Zwick and Clarett as the one-two-punch in the Buckeye backfield.
That is ... if neither of them turned pro after the '05 season.
As it turned out, each of 'em spent their final game as a Buckeye in a national championship in the state of Arizona (albeit, in different cities ... and with different outcomes ... in the game ... and in the game of life).

Zwick's story isn't THAT much different than a lot of other kids on Signing Day. Their hopes are sky-high.
Sometimes, though ... reality sets in and mediocrity invades the body, like some sort of cancer.
It happened to Ben Olson ... he, the 6-foot-5 southpaw slinger from the football factory known as Thousand Oaks High. Five years earlier, some of us were there when TOHS and a QB named Scott McEwan blew a lead against Camarillo -- as QB Joe Borchard rallied his Scorpions to victory to spoil TOHS Homecoming '96.

Joe Borchard eventually went to Stanford, did an adequate job as a fill-in QB and hit the bejeezus out of the ball as a switch-hitter for the Cardinal baseball team (although, in parts of five seasons, '02-'06, Borchard's MLB batting avg. is .209).
McEwan? Well, he landed at UCLA and backed up Cade McNown for two years, then he backed up Cory Paus for two years (although none of us who saw it will ever forget how McEwan came off the bench and engineered a drive which resulted in a FG at the outset of the third quarter in the Bruins' 21-20 loss to Wisconsin in the '00 Sun Bowl).
You simply don't forget a Scott McEwan field-goal drive.

Ben Olson?
So far, he doesn't appear as though he's on the fast track to breaking any of Drew Olson's UCLA passing records (if Drew Olson actually owns any).
Olson began his college career at BYU, departed on his Mormon mission, then ... transferred to Wuss-wood -- whereupon his mediocre '06 season was derailed by a knee injury, which precipitated the emergence of a very-ordinary Patrick Cowan into coach Karl Dorrell's ho-hum attack (you can't call it "vanilla" because, "ahem" ... ).

Reggie McNeal?
Still tryin' to use his 4.32 speed to catch on as a Bengals receiver (after he lost his job in his senior season to freshman Stephen McGee).
James Banks?
Was switched to WR at Rocky Top (after he got himself outta trouble) so that Casey Clausen could share his mediocrity with the Knoxvillians.
Gavin Dickey?
Quote: "Who?"
Trent Edwards?
Arrived at Stanford with coach Buddy Teevens at the beginning of '02. By the end of the '04 season, Teevens was out.
By the middle of the '05 season, Trent Edwards was in Walt Harris' doghouse.
By the middle of the '06 season. Trent Edwards was on crutches with a broken foot (and according to something we heard a few weeks ago, Mel Kiper's Bouffant has Trent Edwards listed as the No. 5 QB on Mel's "big board" -- proof again that Kiper drinks more Vitalis than he dumps over his scalp every morning).

Let's see ... Marcus Vick/Ron New Mexico ... what ever happened to that guy after he stomped on Elvis Dumervil's leg in that bowl game?
Tyler Palko?
The white left-handed QB who replaced the black, left-handed QB (Rod Rutherford) ... soooo enigmatic.
Anthony Martinez?
He was so mediocre at UVa. that he probably took 23 meaningful snaps in relief of Matt Schaub and Marques Hagans ...
Matt Gutierrez?
Ya had to feel for the kid. He went to Ann Arbor from a De La Salle program in Calif. which won a national-record 151 consecutive games -- and then, when he was dinged up and couldn't start the '04 opener, Chad Henne got the nod and never gave the job back ...

Again ... "Gavin Dickey?"
That was definitely fodder for ""
There's a dozen or more stories like that from Signing Day '02 -- escpecially when we take into account the RB talent, such as two prime targets on Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report which weren't on the King list.
That's right -- T.A. McLendon and J.R. Zwierzynski.

T.A. McLendon's real first name was "Tristan" and he set a gazillion rushing records in Albermarle, NC. He said that the "T.A." stood for "Touchdowns Anytime," and the boast seemed to hold some water when he rushed for more than 1,101 yards as an NC State Wolfpack freshman in '02 (aided by the passing of junior Philip Rivers.
The future couldn't have looked brighter in Raleigh when that 'Pack team was 9-0 in late October.

It was all downhill after that. Since that 9-0, era-of-good-feelings in Raleigh, the 'Pack went 25-28 ... missing a bowl game in '04 with a 5-6 record (despite having the nation's No. 1-ranked defense) and losing their final seven games of '06 to finish 3-9 and get squeaky-voiced Chuck Amato pink-slipped.
In '03 and '04, McLendon rushed for a combined 1,300 yards.

J.R. Zwierzynski?
Well, maybe he didn't turn out to be the most top-notch Penn State signee of all-time, but he's been quite a catcher for the Twins, Giants and White Sox.
WAIT! That's A.J. Pierzynski, not J.R. Zwierzynski.
Never mind ...

Waste cases aside, the coolest stat that gets included in each player's dossier is, of course, that prospect's time in the 40.
For example, did you know that Scott McEwan's time in the 40 was 4.65 while Ben Olson was clocked in 4.6?
Of Lemming's hot hundred for '02, the fastest 40 times were turned in by McNeal (4.32), FSU signee Thomas Clayton (4.32) and LSU recruit Justin Vincent (4.33).

Gavin Dickey ran a 4.4.
To repeat: "Gavin Dickey?"

Although the exposure of the modern-day signee is greater than ever, the machinations of "the process" remain constant. Ten years ago, Steve Superior was the toast of Gainesville, basking in the January glow of Gators winning the national championship with Heisman Trophy-winning Danny Waffle pitching passes to Ike Hilliard, Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green.
A month after that triumph, the Ol' Ballcoach restocked his talent cupboard by signing QB Jesse Palmer from Nepean, Ontario in Canada (a city which Detroit Red Wing soon-to-be Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman put on the map), QB Tim Olmstead from Binghampton, NY, and WR Steve Shipp of Charlotte, NC.
All three players were ranked in the Top 25 of PrepStar's Recruiting Report of the Top 100 Incoming Freshman for 1997.

Wait a sec ... Jesse Palmer?
THAT Jesse Palmer? From ABC's The Bachelor? The NFL benchwarmer with less testosterone than most Bachelorettes?
Yessiree, Bob ... one in the same.

Prep Star's Top 25 went like so:

1. David Warren DE -- Tyler, TX -- FLORIDA ST.
2. LaVar Arrington LB -- Pittsburgh, PA -- PENN ST.
3. Andre Carter DE -- San Jose, CA -- CALIFORNIA
4. Randy Fasani QB -- Granite Bay, CA -- STANFORD
5. Alex Brown DE -- White Springs, FL -- FLORIDA
6. Kareem McKenzie OL -- Willingboro, NJ -- PENN ST.
7. Steve Shipp WR -- Charlotte, NC -- FLORIDA
8. Billy-Dee Greenwood DB -- Stamford, CT -- NO. CAROLINA
9. Jesse Palmer QB -- Nepean, Ontario; Canada -- FLORIDA
10. Rod Perry, Jr. ATH -- Irvine, CA -- USC
11. Domonique Williams ATH -- Upper Marlboro, MD -- NO. CAROLINA
12. Levron Williams RB -- Evansville, IN -- INDIANA
13. Jamal Lewis RB -- Atlanta, GA -- TENNESSEE
14. Travis Minor RB -- Baton Rouge, LA -- FLORIDA ST.
15. Ken-Yon Rambo WR -- Long Beach, CA -- OHIO ST.
16. Brian Scott WR -- Darlington, SC -- SO. CAROLINA
17. Terrence Metcalf OL -- Clarksdale, MS -- MISSISSIPPI
18. Roylin Bradley LB -- Lemarque, TX -- TEXAS A&M
19. Tyrone Robertson DL -- Danville, VA -- VIRGINIA TECH
20. Romaro Miller QB -- Shannon, MS -- MISSISSIPPI
21. Kenny Smith DL -- Meridian, MS -- ALABAMA
22. Andre Lott DB -- Memphis, TN -- TENNESSEE
23. Chris Chambers WR -- Bedford, OH -- WISCONSIN
24. Cosey Coleman OL -- Clarkston, GA -- TENNESSEE
25. Tim Olmstead QB -- Binghamption, NY -- FLORIDA

Other glamor boys included:
33) RB Cooper Rego -- Notre Dame ... 40) QB Bobby Newcombe -- Nebraska ... 41) QB Ed Stansbury -- UCLA ... 52) RB Tony Driver -- Notre Dame ... 55) QB Kenny Kelly -- Miami ... 57) QB Eric Crouch -- Nebraska ... 60) RB Travis Henry -- Tennessee ... 61) LB Napoleon Harris -- Northwestern ... 64) QB Daniel Cobb -- Auburn ... 77) DL Guenter Kryszon -- Georgia Tech ... 81) ATH Antwaan Randle El -- Indiana ... 83) QB Marques Tuiasosopo -- Washington ...

Gadzooks! Cooper Rego and Tony Driver were in the same Farting Irish recruiting class? That could've spelled two or three national championships had not Cooper Rego transferred to WVU.
Bobby Newcombe?
Probably a better athlete than Heisman-winner Eric Crouch, but Bob never found true happiness in Lincoln.
Ed Stansbury?
Changed his name to "Ed Ieremia-Stansbury," swtched to FB and became a blocking back for DeShawn Foster.
Kenny Kelly?
Probably woulda QB'ed those 'Canes national championship and national championship-contender teams of '01 and '02 if he hadn't signed a pro baseball contract.
Eric Crouch?
Somebody gave Julius Peppers' '01 Heisman to the Nebraska QB.
Travis Henry?
Rushed for 4,000 yards in his senior season at Frostproof High. What's noteworthy about that -- that there's an actual Frostproof High.
Napoleon Harris?
Once he signed with Northwestern, he became a money-back guarantee to be drafted by the Raiders (following Napoleon McCallum and Napoleon Kaufman) -- which ... he was!
Daniel Cobb?
Was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA after his senior season in '01 after it was learned that he was afflicted by Paget von Schrotter Syndrome (no lie).
Guenter Kryszon?
NOT related to Paget von Schrotter.

Let's recap that QB situation.
PrepStar's top 30 QBs of Signing Day '97 were the upper tier of Fasani, Palmer, Miller, Olmstead, Newcombe, Kelly, Crouch, Cobb, Randle El, Tuiasosopo ... and the "almost-upper-echelon" dudes which follow:
Spencer Brinton (San Diego St.), Greg Cicero (Texas), Meiko Collier (Auburn), Woodrow Dantzler (Clemson), Rohan Davey (LSU), Philip Deas (North Carolina), James Dougherty (Missouri), Lorenzo Guess (Michigan St.), Joey Harrington (Oregon), Zak Kustok (Notre Dame), Scott McEwan (Thousand Oaks), Drew Miller (BYU), Labronne Mitchell (Georgia), Austin Moherman (Ohio St.), Craig Nall (LSU), David Priestley (Ohio St.), Jarrod Reese (Oklahoma), Matt Schobel (Texas A&M), J.K. Scott (Washington), B.J. Tiger (Oklahoma St.), Madei Williams (Syracuse).

Sometimes, it just doesn't work out for some coaches n' kids -- just as Steve Superior's master plan of having Palmer and Olmstead receive some tutelage from Doug Johnson as DJ tossed TD passes left n' right to Steve Shipp, ummmm ...
So many hits, so many misses ... right, Randy Fasani?

Lorenzo Guess?
A bad piece of guesswork by Nick Saban at MSU.
B.J. Tiger?
He could've had the best name of any QB ever to play at Okie State -- 'cept that a few years later, Asoteletangafamosili Pogi came along and led the 'Pokes in passing in '00 and '01.

The running back crop was interesting once you see Hodges Mitchell's name and realize that he actually started at Texas for a brief time ahead of Ricky Williams and Priest Holmes.
That's 5-foot-7 Hodges Mitchell, who might've actually been 5-5 or 5-6.
Watch out for Dulymus McAllister.
You'll know him as "Deuce" one day.
Watch out for Nejah (sic) Davenport.
He might leave a deuce in your laundry hamper one day.
Dominic Rhodes ... signed with Texas Tech ... ended up at Midwestern State in scenic Wichita Fall, TX.

However, one of our all-time faves in the '97 frosh RB crop is the hero from Cedar Cliff High in Camp Hill, PA (across the river from Harrisburg) ... COY WIRE.
After playing LB at Stanford, Coy Wire was a DB for the Bills.
Here's the kicker: There is a Coy Wire bobblehead in plain view here at the Pitchfork Compound that is known as the Haystack Hideaway.
It's not the ceramic bobblehead from yesteryear ... it's a lightweight, plastic Coy Wire bobblehead which was a Tops Markets giveaway from back in the days ('02) when Coy Wire Mania gripped the greater-Buffalo region (see: Tonawanda, Cheektowaga and Lackawana) when the ex-Stanford LB who wore #22 was wearing #27 as a Bills rookie who started 15 games.

Speaking of the white-boy studs who might've escaped from our consciousness, of those "top 350" frosh for '97, only one was listed as sub-4.3 in the 40 -- WR Joy Getherall (4.23) from Bishop Amat in LaPuente, CA.
4.23? Is that a typo?
If it's not a misprint, 4.23 could serve Joey Getherall when he's hauling in 80-yard TD passes and returning punts 90 yards for TDs.

The last we heard from Joey Getherall, he'd concluded his Notre Dame career and was in Steelers rookie camp as a free agent.
He's probably an insurance agent now.
That is ... an insurance agent who, nowadays (in his late-20's) probably clocks a 4.43 in the 40.
Nobody in account payable can cover Joe during pickup games.

Speaking of Notre Dame's mega-publicized recruits, Jimmy Clausen of Oaks Christian in Agoura, CA is the newest Farting Irish QB wunderkind.
Better yet, Coach Weis' new QB coach for '07 will be Ron Powlus, the Lou Holtz recruit who didn't win the two Heismans that Beano said he would.

EspyTime, as usual, amused us with the tagline that Clausen has the QB "pedigree" -- simply because Jimmy's older brothers, Rick and Casey, came outta Woodland Hills (where some of us spent the first 7 years of our lives) and showcased their immense mediocrity.
Rick, aas you'll recall, was a Saban recruit at LSU before he transferred to UT so that he could play backup to Casey.

Pedigree? That's a term reserved for canines ... and if someone is saying that the Clausens are "pure-bred, blue-ribbon winners" ... F that!
The Clausens come from a puppy mill where they spend weeks at a time in cages, lying in their own feces.
This ain't the Manning brothers, boys n' gals.
Casey Clumsy sucked -- and, if Brady Quinn (a legit QB) could go 0-4 vs. USC and 0-3 in bowl games, how is Jimmy Clumsy "an upgrade"?

USC is a mere 45 minutes from the Clausen QB Compound -- yet, Jim's goin' to ND, not 'SC.

Jimmy Clausen will make them PAY!