Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tears of the Mitt-Bots are sweet nectar

By Rick Morris

Schadenfreude. It's the German word for deriving pleasure from the misfortune of others.

I get accused of partaking of it fairly frequently, and I have to plead guilty to that. It's pretty fun to bask in people getting the figurative fecal matter that they deserve thrown at them -- don't knock it until you've tried it.

My latest opportunity in life to point and say, "what goes around, comes around" regards the useful idiots in Mittens' Hollow Army who are crying their pathetic eyes out about the prospect of the Republican presidential nomination being delivered to John McCain. Now, I should preface the following commentary by noting that I supported Fred Thompson previously (quite ardently, I might add -- and repeatedly -- and repeatedly again!), but I now support McCain in the sense that he is the only major candidate for president against whom I am not irretrievably opposed (how's that for a hearty endorsement?).

So, not to make the Mitt-Idiots feel worse -- ah, who am I kidding? -- OK, I revel in making them feel worse -- but it's their fault.

That's right, those who are the most ardent proponents of Trust Fund Willard at the moment -- like this shameless spinner who cancer-mongered Fred when he got into the race, in one of the scummiest displays in recent political history -- they are weeping, sniveling, crying and otherwise conducting themselves in the same fashion as their hero. How about the sight of Rich Boy Romney going into the fetal position last night about McCain's characterization of his Iraq position, as though Romney didn't spend a ton of his inherited wealth to dump slime via TV ads on everyone in the race thus far.

Mark Levin has recently taken to insulting Republicans opposing Romney as RINOs. But since the real fault for this state of affairs lies with all of the weasels who could have backed the only real conservative Fred Thompson but chose to back a fraudulent loser, the RINO Levin is in closest contact with these days is the man in the mirror.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Free Tony Bruno!

By Rick Morris

Tony Bruno is no longer performing his daily talk show on Sporting News Radio. He will be under contract for a few more months, but has been pulled from the air pending expiration of his contract.

As somebody who's been with for almost five years (well, four years and ten months), I can legitimately say that he's been the biggest influence on my work. I don't consciously imitate anyone, I'm too much of an individualist for that, but you can definitely tell that I'm a fan by some of the traits he has that I try to incorporate in my own way. Specifically, he's not afraid to try to inject humor and goofiness into sports discussions (and unlike most hosts, he understands that some of the best comedic material can come from making yourself the butt of some jokes), but also, he will show you his deep level of knowledge from time to time and not adhere to any radio "norms" about dumbing topics down for the audience.

I heard Bruno for the first time in the early '90s when he and Chuck Wilson were doing their awesome nightly show during the early days of ESPN radio. Wilson had a straight-laced, wholesome persona that meshed so well with Bruno, the smartass from Philly. So many shows try too hard to come up with an "Odd Couple" pairing and few ever work because it's hard not to sound contrived. Bruno and Wilson worked because, like truly great entertainers, they didn't try to force anything. They were simply themselves and they let their stylistic differences speak for themselves without trying too hard to call attention to them. In so doing, in a strange kind of way, they blended perfectly and just had incredible chemistry. To this day, when I talk radio with people, I always mention the pairing of Tony Bruno and Chuck Wilson and anyone who remembers them always agrees with me about how great they were together. Bruno's subsequent solo shows over the years have been outstanding as well, as he has worked well with anyone assigned to him.

I've done many shows during my time with STN, but one of my fondest programs was the first one I was on, Reality Check. Proving what a small world it really is, my old high school friend Dave Adams was one-third of the crew, along with our friend Ron Glasenapp and myself. Ron was the lead host and performed more of a neutral bus-steering type role on the show. As it happened, Dave has somewhat of a Chuck Wilson-type personality and as I mentioned, I have some tendencies toward a Bruno-type style. Our chemistry was really great together, and I felt it was a fitting tribute to that old ESPN radio program, when the hosts just clicked together so effortlessly just being themselves.

In a business increasingly hard to succeed in without being a corporate guy who fits a certain mold, Bruno is again going to be looking for a national platform for his great skills. You can keep up with his efforts in the meantime at his personal website and on his message board. He's not bashing Sporting News Radio at either place, so despite my frustration with the fact that I am deprived from listening to his program, I won't either. I will, however, in the spirit of the headline to this column, appeal to the Powers That Be at Sporting News Radio to reach a settlement with Mr. Bruno that will allow him to get on with his professional career as soon as possible. Like most of his fans, I feel it's the least they can do for him.

Monday, January 28, 2008

More of Vince McMahon's hypocrisy

By Rick Morris

Before addressing the main point here, the rampant, constant hypocrisy of Vincent Kennedy McMahon, let's quickly examine a side issue. We at believe in analyzing all matters, not just fantasy sports, on a spectrum from most likely to least likely outcomes. Having said that, there are four possibilities for the "miracle comeback" of John Cena, who returned to the ring less than four months after allegedly suffering a major pectoral injury that was supposed to sideline him a year -- and those scenarios are in this exact order of likelihood:

^ This "injury" was a work from start to finish (scars can be kayfabed!).
^ The "injury" was real, but hyped way beyond the level of seriousness so as to obtain the desired shock return.
^ Cena was hurt, but cut a lot of corners, health-wise (ALLEGEDLY!) in his rehab and return.
^ Cena was actually hurt as severely as advertised and did have a supremely fortunate rehabilitation that legitimately got him back much sooner than anticipated.

Let's now move on to the main point at hand. The notion that Vinny Mac is a hucksterish hypocrite of the first order is well beyond dispute. Whether he is shedding crocodile tears for the premature deaths and chronic addictions that his company has contributed to with regards to its performers, whether he is crying about the predatory business practices of Turner Broadcasting when he went after the old territorial promoters the same way in the '80s, whether he is whining about vendettas from federal prosecutors while allowing revenge politics to thrive in his own company, Vince McMahon has always been in a league of his own when it comes to saying one thing and doing another.

But, as strange as it may sound when addressing the role in history of the only man to preside over two national wrestling booms, his biggest and most grand hypocritical pronouncement of all has been to claim that he has his finger on the pulse of his audience and that he reacts accordingly. We saw yet again last night at the Royal Rumble how false this truly is when he allowed his company to drop the ball on the Jeff Hardy WWE Title reign that his crowds have been clamoring for so much.

Jeff Hardy was deprived of his ascension to the top of the company (and yes, the top spot on RAW is and always will be the pinnacle of WWE) just a few weeks of the thirty-year anniversary that Superstar Billy Graham passed the torch to Bob Backlund -- with both matches taking place at Madison Square Garden, no less! Vince McMahon played an opposite role in both scenarios, proving that he is not consistent in his actions whatsoever.

Recently, I viewed the excellent documentary "20 Years Too Soon: The Superstar Billy Graham Story," and I also read parts of Graham's memoirs. First of all, it should be mentioned just as a side note that Graham was not actually 20 years ahead of his time, it was more like 10 because his colorful muscleman gimmick was the mid-to-late '80s prototype. But I do believe what Vince McMahon said on the DVD: Superstar would have been a huge phenomenon on the scene if he had been given a babyface run as champion.

Take yourself back to February 1978 for a moment. Graham had been drawing huge heat and sellout crowds as WWWF Champion for his entire 10-month reign. As an early forerunner of the "cool heel," he was drawing the type of appreciation from fans that could have led to him becoming a red-hot main event face. One suggestion internally was for onetime tag team partner Ivan Koloff to attack Graham, officially turning the Superstar into a "good guy." I believe that this feud would have drawn insane heat, because the Sergeant Slaughter/Iron Sheik feud of 1984 proved that geopolitics could draw at the box office and the prospect of Graham going toe-to-toe with a Hated Russkie back in '78 would have been quite similar.

Superstar and Vince were on the losing end of that argument, however, because Vince's dad, Vince McMahon Senior was still the boss at that time and he had promised Bob Backlund a title run. The classic wrestling old-timer, Vince Senior simply didn't possess the imagination to understand how big Graham could be. He was wedded to the version of the wholesome face champion anchor. Bruno Sammartino had held the belt for approximately 11 of the 14 years leading into Graham's reign, with Latino face Pedro Morales occupying the title for most of the rest of the time. Bob Backlund, dubbed "The All-American Boy," seemed merely to be the logical successor to this lineage once Graham's "transitional heel" reign was over.

But the strong reactions Graham got at the time argue for the case that he would have been huge as a "good guy" champion just because he was so much different from the rest back in '78. While he never could have reached the status of an '80s Hulk Hogan had WWWE remained merely a regional Northeast territory, he could have exploited New York City, the world's greatest media market, to cement the area as the most dominant one anywhere. Vince Junior is absolutely right that his father and the other cronies in the inner circle missed the boat on Superstar Billy Graham's potential.

Graham makes the point convincingly in his memoirs that Backlund was the beneficiary of almost unprecedented help from the promotion during his almost six-year run on top (leaving aside the question of whether Inoki legitimately was the titleholder for a fortnight back in '79). Backlund continued to sell out all around the circuit, but benefited from the strategic positioning on cards of Andre the Giant, Jimmy Snuka after his hugely successful face turn and Bruno Sammartino's white-hot farewell feud with Larry Zbyszko. Previous champs had not needed that kind of assistance from the bookers; they had always been the predominant focus of the promotion. Billy Graham wouldn't have needed that help either had his wish been granted.

So Vince Junior made what we can probably hypothesize would have been the right call in 1978 with the man he said was 20 years ahead of his time. Coincidentally, 20 years later, Vince put the belt on another man being reacted to hugely by the crowds and not created by the company. Stone Cold Steve Austin was a completely self-made man in the WWF, overcoming the internal perception of him as a mid-carder for life and establishing himself as a made man in 1996-97. In '98, Vince listened to the people and made Austin the face main event anchor that they wanted him to be. Austin built on the foundation of the NWO and DX and made himself (along with perhaps The Rock later on) the face of the late '90s wrestling craze.

Flash forward another ten years.

The "Attitude Era" boom has been dead for most of the decade. Historians will argue about where it breathed its last; I believe that I saw it live and in person at the "InVasion" of 2001 in Cleveland when Steve Austin joined the WCW/ECW alliance in an infamous booking decision that killed wrestling's ultimate dream angle. Since then, Vince has thrown everything he could at the wall, elevating formerly-derided "Vanilla Midgets" to World Title status (Benoit and Eddy), trying to ride the remaining stars of the '90s (HHH, HBK, Undertaker), pushing newcomers to the moon (Brock Lesnar), toying endlessly with nostalgia (Hulk Hogan comebacks) and getting strongly behind homegrown products (Cena, Batista). None of these moves have brought the WWE back to the mainstream status it enjoyed twice before.

And to be fair, there's no evidence to suggest that Jeff Hardy is the missing link, ready to become a household word and carry the company to the third national boom. He might not be the "game-changer" the company needs -- but the aforementioned options have had their chances to step up to that level and none of them have succeeded.

Vince and his daughter, Stephanie (the infamous head of creative control), pushed Hardy to the main event in a cautious, almost-experimental way. They were certainly not cramming him down the throats of the people; rather, they put him in circumstances where he would be able to rise or fall based on the reactions he drew. He shot up like a rocket as the crowds made it clear in no uncertain terms that they were hungering for the dramatic change that a title reign from this superstar would promise.

And yet, his rise to main event status was just a tease in the end, as Hardy was built up merely to be fed to mediocre heel champion Randy Orton, who has himself been built up merely to be fed to the returning hero Cena. Essentially, the company passed on elevating Hardy so that they could put Cena back in the #1 face spot posthaste (technically, now that Cena is cashing in his title shot at No Way Out in February instead of WrestleMania, he could face Hardy for the WWE Title at 'Mania -- but there's no way the company is going to put Hardy in with Cena and even if they did, it wouldn't be to have Hardy go over in the end).

So Vince McMahon, who prides himself on being the ultimate visionary, has shown that he only listens to the public when he feels like it. Rather than take a chance on Jeff Hardy, the acrobatic youngster with unique (mostly non-verbal) charisma and a fundamentally-sound but exciting style in the ring, McMahon is staying with the tried and true: Cena, the man who has improved greatly in the ring, but been neutered by the creative department. When you see him get booed relentlessly by significant parts of the crowd, it's almost impossible to reconcile that with the fact that he was such a cool heel in the fall of '03 that the company was all but forced to turn him. Young males, perhaps the most critical part of the fanbase, boo him in significant fashion (especially in major markets) because he is seen as having the worst characteristics of Hogan (Chain Gang = Hulkamanics 2K8), Backlund (wholesome character over the last few years, none of those raunchy raps that got him over with the crowd), the Rock'n'Roll Express (annoyingly beloved by kiddies and teenyboppers) and Hogan/Backlund together (he's the face who isn't believable in terms of being in significant jeopardy because he ALWAYS overcomes the odds and keeps his belt). Jeff Hardy, a man who was once defined in terms of fan perception as being the choice of those teenyboppers and kids, has transcended his early fan appeal to become widely popular across the board. And yet, Vince McMahon hasn't the slightest curiosity about what would happen with Hardy at the helm -- because in the end, crowd sentiment doesn't matter to him if it goes against his preconceived notions.

On the Vince McMahon Devious Behavior Scale, that may not rate that high. But it does serve to remind us yet again of his complete hypocrisy and the extent to which his ego compromises the final product in the ring.

Florida primary predictions

By Rick Morris

For the donkeys, in a yawner, Hillary will top 50% in what would have to be called the dubiously-named beauty pageant. That designation comes from political pundits looking for some way to offer some context to a glorified straw poll, since the Democratic National Committee yanked all the delegates away from the Sunshine State for moving its primary up without authorization. This victory will not, and should not, be taken as any time of substantive refutation for the mighty hiney-whooping she took in South Carolina over the weekend, but the shameless Clintonian spin machine will try to push that garbage anyway.

On the Republican side, the toughest prediction of any of the contests to date looms. John McCain and Mittens are running neck-in-neck continuously in the polls. Based on the very little I can discern from the polls in recent days, I give the slightest of edges to McCain based on apparent momentum coming from the endorsement of Governor Charlie Crist and the fact that he is trending better on Intrade at the moment. "America's Mayor Rudy" will be a distant third, a prelude to his coming withdrawal from the race, and The Huck's slide will culminate in a fourth-place plummet.

My Thoughts on the State of the Union Address

By Tony Mazur

In his eighth and final State of the Union Address, President Bush came out firing, flared nostrils and all.

I'm not a big fan of the non-stop applause breaks (there were roughly 70 of them). But when you look into the crowd from the overhead camera, you can see the divided room. The Republicans are standing and clapping, while the Democrats sat there, nodding off like Bill Clinton at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Ceremony.

Anyways, onto my thoughts.

President Bush brought up the fact that elementary school students are scoring higher on test scores than ever before. That includes African Americans and Hispanics. Democrats ripped on the president, saying the No Child Left Behind Act was a waste of time and money. It appears to be working now, isn't it?

Another topic was the Patriot Act. Since September 11th, 2001, there hasn't been an attack on American soil. We can thank the Patriot Act for that. There has been attempts to attack Los Angeles and other major cities in the United States, with no success. They tapped the terrorists' phone lines to stop the attack before it even started. They weren't tapping Joe Blow's cell phone in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. And if they were, what do you have to hide?

I'm glad Mr. Bush brought up the fact that we can find stem cells without aborting babies. You can find stem cells anywhere, not just from an unborn fetus. Us conservatives were all about stem cell research. We just didn't want to kill babies to do so, and we also do not want the federal government funding the research.

Can we start drilling for oil in America? Can we?

I only questioned a couple of parts in President Bush's speech. One of them was global warming. Global warming is a non-issue. Unless you can convince China to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being released, don't waste your time. Not surprisingly, the Democrats stood up and cheered loudly when the term "global warming" was brought up.

The President brought up an interesting stat. More than half of the World's food aid comes from the United States. I understand that we are global power, but can we stop being the global police? AIDS is running rampant in Africa, and it won't stop no matter how much money you send overseas.

I'm still not completely happy with President Bush's stance on immigration. I'm all about bringing Mexicans into America to give them jobs, but they should go through an extensive process before receiving a green card. Either they take these strides, or build a giant wall on the banks of the Rio Grande.

I personally think the recession is a bit phony. Just throwing that out there. Tell me what you think.

All in all, I think it was a good speech. President Bush has less than a year left in the White House until he hands it over to the next gentleman. His approval rating may be low right now (who regulates the approval ratings, anyway?), but I feel that in the next 10-15 years, George W. Bush will be vindicated as a great president. Wait and see.

Reliving the days of Bozo-Choke

By Rick Morris

To the long sad list of Cleveland sports futility we must add one more: the looming specter of the first perfect NFL team in 35 years, the same franchise that has already been crowned the "team of the decade" -- coached by a man run out of the North Coast in a cloud of futility 12 years ago. Why did Bill Belichick fail in Cleveland?

The question is often posed by people who did not have an up-close seat to the sorry state of the Browns franchise in the early and mid-90s. Those of us unfortunate enough to remember the coach once known as "Bozo-Choke" purposely designing bootlegs to humiliate his starting quarterback Bernie Kosar, kicking a field goal at the end of a game that his team would still lose by several touchdowns and blazoning in our minds forever the putrid phrase "Metcalf Up the Middle" -- well, we can tell you that the "genius" you're seeing in New England bears little or no resemblance to the goof we suffered through for five interminable years.

It's easy to miss this point on the surface. Now, as then, Belichick displays no social graces. He has a great mind for defense now, as he admittedly did then. But there are many subtle nuances in the job The Hoodie has done over the last several years with the Pats that indicate lessons that he learned the hard way in C-Town. Gene Wojciechowski does an excellent job in this article of breaking down everything that we in Cleveland observed during those painful years. In the long line of infamous Cleveland sports heartbreaks, the huge success of this man after using the Browns as a pathetic "training wheel" start to his pro career has to rank high on the list.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Stone Temple Pilots Reunion?

By Tony Mazur

If you're not a fan of '90s rock & roll, you may want to skip my very first post on The FDH Lounge Blog. However, if you are a fan, then you may want to check out this breaking news.

One of my favorite bands, Stone Temple Pilots, will be reuniting for some summer concerts. I am excited about it, especially because the reunion show is rumored to kick off at Rock on The Range at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, just two hours south of my lily white suburban neighborhood.

Stone Temple Pilots achieved success back in 1992 with their mega-selling album, Core. Core produced rock radio staples "Creep", "Plush", "Wicked Garden", "Dead and Bloated", and "Sex Type Thing". Two years later, Purple was released, featuring the crossover hit, "Interstate Love Song". Tiny Music... and No. 4, disappointed fans, even though No. 4 included their biggest hit, "Sour Girl". After 2001's failure, Shangri - La Dee Da, the band called it quits, due to Cleveland's own Scott Weiland's drug and legal problems.

After STP, Weiland joined Slash and other former members of Guns & Roses to form Velvet Revolver (by the way, I stopped counting down when Chinese Democracy will be released. I can't count that high). VR is arguably one of the most popular groups in recent years, due to the success of 2004's Contraband and 2007's Libertad. Their live shows feature covers of STP and G&R favorites. Robert and Dean DeLeo, former STP guitarists, joined forces with Filter frontman, Richard Patrick, to create Army of Anyone. The supergroup released an album in Fall 2006, but the future of the band looks bleak.

In an interview with Billboard, Slash confirmed that Stone Temple Pilots will reunite this summer for some shows.

As a fan of the genre, I cannot wait for an STP reunion. I do enjoy some of today's music, but the early to mid '90s produced some great, memorable tunes. About five years ago, I wrote a list of bands I would die to see (figuratively)

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Saw them on Halloween 2006 after the release of Stadium Arcadium. Great show.

Alice in Chains - Layne Staley passed away in 2002, and I knew it would only be a dream. AIC recruited a new singer and went out on tour. Damn House of Blues only holds a small amount of concert goers.

Nirvana - Another dream.

Stone Temple Pilots - Hopefully this comes true May 2008.

ZZ Top - Put on a heck of a show.

Sublime - While I'm still dreaming, I want a cool billion dollars.

Rage Against the Machine - Have reunited, but won't come to Cleveland because they find Chief Wahoo "offensive towards Native Americans".

This concludes my first post as a member of the FDH Lounge family. Don't worry, I won't always publish music-related posts, but I figured that some of our audience fits the demographic of the grunge genre. My posts will be quite diverse, ranging from sports headlines, to the political scene, to my feeling on the recently committed celebrity. I hope you enjoy my contributions to the FDH family.

Politically incorrect icons of yesteryear

By Rick Morris

We're linking to three excellent pieces from The Don and Tony Show blog to welcome our newest contributor to The FDH Lounge blog, our friend Tony Mazur. Along with another friend of ours, Don Peterson, Tony is the host of the aforementioned Don and Tony Show on Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 2 PM EST. Their show is in the timeslot that has traditionally anchored STN programming ever since its inception in 2002. As you will note if you listen to or view their program, read their blog or read Tony's words on this site subsequently, they are very talented individuals who have accomplished a great deal at an early age (a few years less than a half-century combined). Both gentlemen have produced for FDH-brand programs already and Tony has expressed an interest in building on the relationship, which we are happy to do.

As an example of the creativity you may expect here from Tony, here are three columns he produced for his show blog, all dealing with politically incorrect icons of yesteryear:

^ The Sleazy Strip Club
^ The Marlboro Man
^ Joe Camel

Yeah, this guy's going to fit in just fine! Welcome aboard, Tony!

Hottest Cartoon Characters

by Jason Jones

This post requires a little creative thinking. Try to suspend reality. Basically, as crazy as it sounds, imagine you are a cartoon character yourself (especially if you are a male), who would you be most interested in pursuing. Clearly there is a difference between...Date Material, Take Home To Mom Material, and Wife Material. Just thought I'd throw this together just for poops and giggles.

Warning: There are some doctored "Naughty Pictures" to aid those visual people.

1. Miss Buxley-Sexy Secretary in the Beetle Bailey Comic Strip

Whoever was the first man to have a fetish about secretaries and supposed naughty time at work, clearly was thinking of Miss Buxley. Even in the comic strip there seems to be a sense of sexual tension between Beetle and his boss over giving their attention to Miss Buxley.

2. Holli Would-The Smoking Animated Co-Star of Cool World

If you haven't seen this quasi-bad movie. It is a darker take on the Who Framed Roger Rabbit like live action mixed with animation. The Holli Would character is played in live action by Kim Basinger. She wishes she was this hot.

3. Jessica Rabbit-The Definition of Voluptuous-Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Admit it or not, Jessica Rabbit is just too much woman for any animated character, especially a silly rabbit. The movie alone has some merit and is entertaining, particularly for the kids. At least the creators gave the men something to keep our interest.

4. Lara Croft-Kicking Ass Gets A Lot Hotter-Tomb Raider Video Game, the Movie

For once it seems Hollywood got it right when attempting to make a video game-movie adaptation. The live action movie version is played by Angelina Jolie...enough said.

5. Belle-Sweet girl next door type-Disney's Beauty and the Beast movie

A smoking brunette who has the Disney inspired "heart of gold". Case in point, it's refreshing to see a smoking hottie turn down the successful big wig in town "Gaston" and eventually go for the big hairy overweight guy with a bad attitude. You've got to give a girl some credit, at the end the beast turns into Brad Pitt with eighties hair.

Six through ten coming soon...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

South Carolina Democratic primary preview

By Rick Morris

With this race being the first primary since the debacle with the polls in New Hampshire, it's exceptionally difficult to get a read on what the results will be tonight. It seems certain that Obama will win, but that was what everyone said in New Hampshire. As always, I am supremely unafraid to stick my neck out, so I'll go with the following predictions:

Obama 43%
Clinton 34%
Edwards 23%

FDH Lounge Show #24: January 27, 2008

By Rick Morris

This Sunday's edition of THE FDH LOUNGE on (8-11 PM EST) features the usual far-flung collection of content you have come to expect from the program "where nothing is off-topic."

In Hour One, even before the Opening Statements of The FDH Lounge Dignitaries, we will start right in with our first annual fantasy drag racing mock draft. Generally, the FDH brand puts all of our fantasy sports content on our Thursday program THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER (9-11 PM EST), but we are engaging in a little cross-promotion here and getting the listeners in the mode of fantasy sports (well, sort of!) for our second annual fantasy "I'd Hit That" draft coming up in February!

In Hour Two, the Opening Statements will commence, followed by another in our long line of classic political roundtables as we assess the winnowing fields of presidential candidates in both political parties. From there, we take a look at a unique and sad situation: the impact of Heath Ledger's passing on this summer's huge Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight," where he plays the Joker in a role around which most of the marketing was slated to be built.

With that discussion carrying into Hour Three, we'll get back to the sports/sports entertainment part of the proceedings when we review the NHL All-Star Game from earlier that night in HotLanta, preview the Super Bowl and the broadcast extravaganza that always gains as much attention as the game itself, and finally recap that evening's WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view with one of the WrestleMania main event participants being crowned. Join us as we celebrate the first show in our second year of existence, the show that is wider-ranging than any other in the solar system: The FDH Lounge.

A Message Board Reply I Never Posted

by Jason Jones

This is more or less a message to anyone who is less than polite/logical when posting on any message board (specifically a sports message board):

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:45 am Post subject:

...hmm, how about Drew Gooden ALWAYS wearing LA Dodgers and OAK Raiders gear. That's not hypothetical, if you ask him, Drew is a Cali fan til the day he dies. No one has ever ripped him for it. Basketball is a team game, true. But, in this era of pro basketball, there are really only about 20 players who put up elite stats. Stats do matter to the elite players. Today if you're lucky you have one elite "stat stuffer" and a collection of players that hopefully play that "Team" basketball that you keep referencing. That is the contemporary NBA, whether you, me, or anyone else likes it or not.

If you honestly believe that "You ain't s&$%* until you win a championship" angle then maybe you should watch something else, like the Olympics. Basketball, Football, and even Baseball to some degree comes down to measured progress, and the idea of progressing or regressing in stages. If overnight in the offseason, every Cavalier player woke up and "Finally Got It", do you think they could just magically be better than the Spurs, Celtics, Pistons, Suns, etc. NO. Because it is a process. I don't think that you really believe there is one winner and everyone else is tied for last. That's just stupid, angry, bitter, crap. (Sometimes, your responses sound like you just need something to be mad about) And what is this s%$& again (I don't mean to sound cruel, but...) The Hood, Jew, Mobile Black QB's ruining the game?!? Are you kidding me? IRRELEVANT, you can argue your point and leave that s&$% out.

It doesn't prove or disprove anything to say, ..."because they're not from the HOOD." Let me guess, the common denominator in this whole thing is that Jurevicious went to Lake Catholic in the very non-hood of Mentor, Ohio, while Lebron's mother left him out like last night's trash to fend for himself in an environment he didn't ask for and was forced to live with a nice elderly white family ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN (i.e not the hood). It's dumb to even include that in your thought process, dumb or at least a little bigoted. I'm sorry that 95% of the NBA (or any other league for that matter) isn't upper-middle class white boys who graduated from Ivy League colleges and work on their Masters degrees in marketing on plane rides between games and sit home with their wives playing chess just before then donate 70% of their NBA checks over to the homeless. It just seems that what you are looking for, you're not going to find in the professional sports realm. The players do NOT represent the city as literally as you've suggested. The players are paid employees of the franchise. They represent the franchise and its ownership. Which are completely different from the city -- as we saw 2 months before Lebron was drafted. There was an offer on the table for the Cavaliers to move to St. Louis if we didn't get the #1 pick. That isn't representative of the city.

We can try to attach ourselves to the team/organization, but as you once so eloquently put it, if you aren't getting a check from them, its not the same. Last point, which refers to the first point...if 25 million people say 2+2=5, that doesn't make it right. I won't use the word ignorant, but just because a truckload of people have the same opinion as you doesn't make you right. Clearly I do not believe anything I (or anyone who thinks like I do on this forum) say will change your mind. I am not here to change your mind, maybe just to suggest that once again, "It isn't your way is right and everyone else is wrong" You keep using words like PERIOD, and THAT'S WHAT YOU DO. Sports and more importantly in the context of this discussion sports debating, are never absolute. You may feel that there is only one way to approach s%#&, but there just isn't. There could be 2, or 5 or 37 different ways to look at it. You always come on here like, "Ok, Ok, now that you peons have had a chance to talk amongst yourselves, let Big Brother tell you what the real answer is". Sometimes you just have to let go and listen (or read with an open mind), you just might find that what you believed to be absolutely true just might not be. A lot of people over time contribute to the STN board and I don't agree with half of them, but I am at least willing to listen to reason and potentially change my mind.

Note to all readers, the previous reply is NOT directed at any one person (even though I admit I used OBG's reply to get started) Look, I don't mean to piss in anybody's cereal and maybe I am venting. But, it seems to me instead of sharing ideas and DEBATING, certain posts seem to force people to adamantly asset themselves as being an authority regardless of how much thought anyone else may have given the topic. If you go back in this particular thread, you'll see who really has offered up solid thought and logic-and you'll see the ones who are just angrily shooting from the hip. Myself not included. Clearly everyone else cares way more about this topic than I do.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Matthew Berry is a TOOL

by Jason Jones

In the previous post, I mentioned the idiocy of Matthew Berry. If need be, refer to said previous post to relate the following rules. Rules by Mr. Berry should not be adhered to, ever.

Rule 1

Your first fantasy rule to draft by is you must go running back/running back in the first two rounds. I disregarded that rule completely and it rendered, 2645 yds and 24 tds by running backs taken in the 5th and 8th rounds respectively.

Rule 2

Your second fantasy rule to draft by is to not get dazzled by rookie hype anywhere except running back. I believe he qualified this statement by adding "running backs" merely to save his azz. If you asked him ahead of the first regular season game, he would tell you that even Peterson did not merit a pick.

Rule 3

Your third fantasy rule to draft by is you must handcuff your stud running back. By "handcuff" we mean take the backup to that player. By insinuating that every team has a Portis/Betts combo, he comes off sounding almost intelligent. The only problem is that very few teams have a decent backup worth drafting. Generally, those teams are splitting carries and the result is two players stats might add up to one on another team.

Rule 4

Your fourth fantasy rule to draft by is to wait on wide receivers, because statistically speaking, they're a dime a dozen. "A dime a dozen", huh? 20 WR's had over 1,000 yds, that's almost 2 1,000 yard WR's per fantasy team. Check the previously mentioned team...2,933 yds and 31 tds between only 2 WR's.

Rule 5

Your fifth fantasy rule to draft by is to remember that we play with numbers, not names. No S#$T!!! Too bad you don't take your own advice on this one. Too often people refer to name recognition. Check the record, Berry is as bad at this one as anyone.

Rule 6

Your sixth rule to draft by is to not draft a kicker until the last round. This one not many people would argue with, but look at it closer. The difference between the best kicker and the 12th best kicker is almost 40 points. Its not about it being the last pick. If you are serious about winning a championship, you have to consider bye weeks. Is he claiming you should only take one kicker and punt the bye week? If not then you have to take a kicker before the final round. Besides, if you draft correctly in a 15 round draft, there are bench players who will never see the light of day. Clearly, it would make sense to draft a starting kicker ahead of a 5th WR or 4th RB.

Rule 7

Your seventh fantasy rule to draft by is that you can't win your league in the first few rounds, but you can lose it. Wow! Did you think that one up all on your own? This is where value is excessively important. That is about as obvious as saying, "You can't win with a team full of bench players"

Rule 8

Your eighth fantasy rule to draft by is not to be scared by the running back by committee. BULLS#$T!!!! Julius Jones, 588 yds 2 tds/Marion Barber III, 975 yds 10 tds = 1593/12. J.Lewis and A.Peterson = 2845/24. Running back by committee should be avoided if at all possible. Two starters getting the bulk of the carries will always beat a committee system. That's just basic math, I cannot believe he is this stupid.

Rule 9

Your ninth rule to draft by is to identify a sleeper is by seeing how they ended the previous season. Too many people already look at last season's stats only. The best example of this is Randy Moss. In OAK, he only put up 533 yds and 3 tds. Based on that idea, Moss is a sleeper; for the top third of the draft. It is so much more important to evenly analyze a players previous stats + outside circumstances. Any idiot would have thought Moss would have to put up drastically better numbers in NE over OAK. As for true sleepers, circumstances are absolutely more important than previous stats.

Rule 10
Your tenth rule to draft by is concentrate on facts and ignore the myths. People love to talk about contract years... Ok, maybe, but instead of worrying about the smaller details, how about just picking solid players with value and solid surrounding circumstances? Again, it seems Berry enjoys talking down the readers/listeners. At FantasyDraftHelp, we don't waste your time with the information you already know.

Rule 11

Your 11th rule to draft by is to look closely at the schedule. I'm not really worried about bye weeks. It's one week, if you have to take it on the chin, so what? But if fantasy football is all about matchups... I am so happy he put this one down. The biggest strike against Berry came when he strongly advised that anyone who owns Adrian Peterson MUST SIT HIM AGAINST THE CHARGERS. The Chargers had defended the run reasonably well. Berry puts way too much stock in matchups. The fact of the matter is, if a player is good/great, it shouldn't matter who he plays against. Earlier, Peterson put up 200 on Chicago, and at that point they still were considered an elite defense. The Giants have one of the worst cornerback units in the league, but they still did well against Randy Moss in Week 17. Matchups mean squat; for the most part. A matchup is not enough reason to sit your stud players. Matthew Berry, I dare you to respond!

Rule 12

Rule No. 12 to draft by is to know the tendencies of a head coach. Lots of people are high on Philip Rivers this year, but while I like his skills, Norv Turner has never had a top-10 fantasy quarterback. Is your foot in your mouth yet, numb nuts? Phillip Rivers was the 15th best fantasy QB (and considering he did not rank Derek Anderson, Ben Roesthlisberger, Kurt Warner, Jay Cutler, Jon Kitna, or Eli Manning in the top 15), that puts Rivers in the top 10. Rivers was also the 12th highest ranked QB in TD passes, so what the hell are you barking about now?!? Again, he gets caught up with the wrong details. With McNabb, Garcia, Bulger, and Leinart being behind Rivers, Rivers is a quality selection as long as you adhere to value. Naturally, you're not going to take him in the first 3 rounds, but if you pick RBs and WRs ahead of a starting QB, it does make sense. That's just one example.

Rule 13

Rule No. 13 to draft by is to look at all stats, not just the obvious ones. Like Red Zone targets. How about looking at RBs 3rd down and short percentages? Sometimes if you analyze too much you can lose sight of the important details. This is why artists periodically step back to get a better look during the process. Hypothetically speaking, say WR A last season had 1400 yds/15tds. WR B had 900 yds/8tds. If WR B had 7 tds in the red zone and WR A had 5, WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MATTER. These are the kind of things that might come in to question when deciding on which WR to take in the 13th round, after your starters are set. Again, these are the kind of players who may never start, if you draft correctly.

Rule 14

The 14th rule to draft by is when it comes to quarterback this year, there's the top 6 and everyone else. Hopefully, you manage to grab one of Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Marc Bulger or Donovan McNabb. Ranks: Peyton Manning (3rd), Carson Palmer (9th), Tom Brady (1st), Drew Brees (4th), Marc Bulger (22nd), and Donovon McNabb (12th). With a range of 1st-22nd, there are 16 other guys to consider. Although I do not disagree that these are quality players, one cannot discount Romo, Roethlisberger, Favre, Hasselbeck, Eli Manning, Rivers and a group of others. It all comes back to value. Where are you picking your starting QB? If its in the first 3 or 4 rounds, then maybe. But if you go into a draft with the plan of picking a RB in the first and second, a QB in the third, a WR in the fourth and fifth, a TE in the sixth, and so will lose every time.

Rule 15

Rule No. 15 is to concentrate more on the skills of players than actual roles. People get hung up on the terms starter, No. 3 wide receiver and change-of-pace back. Rightfully so. The highest ranked "change of pace back" was Najeh Davenport with 499 yds and 5 tds. He seriously believes we are all stupid, that or he doesn't actually do his own research. Maurice Jones-Drew is not a change of pace back, he is the future starter and almost a 50% share of the carries. Clinton Portis was the 5th best RB with 1262 yds and 11 tds, Ladell Betts (his handcuff) was ranked 57th with 335 yds and 1 td and should not have been drafted or at least dropped at some point early on. And if anyone doesn't think Reggie Wayne is worthy of the 5th-8th best WR, then they need a different hobby.

All in all, the point is very simple. You cannot have absolute rules to draft by. The draft moves like a living thing. Just like in the real NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL drafts a GM (fantasy owner) must be willing to roll with the changes as they unfold. Trends toward many players being taken at a position in close succession, commonly referred to as runs, must be adjusted to if you are to be successful. If you are picking 9th and running backs have gone 1-8, it makes more sense to take the #1 WR or #1 QB and address RB later. In the previous post I showed how you can do just that and still build a team that would destroy someone who follows Berry's Rules. According to Berry, you should draft Deuce McAllister (1057/10-2006 stats) over Peyton Manning (4397/31-2006 stats) or Chad Johnson (1369/7-2006 stats). Is it any wonder this guy drives me nuts. Bottom line, don't listen to "The Talentless Hack" Matthew Berry. Do yourself a favor and think for yourself. If you don't have the time, do some initial research on various fantasy websites. When you are done with that, I guarantee you, it will be in your best interest to get all advice, draft boards, and analysis from

...On the Matthew Berry Front...

by Jason Jones

We have been hammering home this idea that the #1 perceived sports network's (ESPN) lead fantasy sports expert is a sham or a mockery, in Matthew Berry's case; a SHAMOCKERY. I have no doubt that anyone who is serious about fantasy sports could easily do as well if not better than Berry without trying very hard. When the guy is not giving safe advice (LaDainian Tomlinson is worth a top 5 pick), he is giving bad advice (bench Adrian Peterson against San Diego, which by the way was the game he broke the single-game rushing record). The guy has a list of players to never draft under any circumstances. Anyone who knows fantasy sports knows, the beauty of the game is how each circumstance is different and each fantasy owner must adjust accordingly. Before the '07 season, he said never draft Terrell Owens. Maybe if you believe T.O. is not worth taking in the first or second round, that's fine. What if everyone in your league is thinking the same thing, you mean to tell me that you wouldn't take T.O. in the 4th or 5th when the value dictates that you HAVE TO take him. The guy lead all receivers in TDs in '06. The guy is an idiot. As if I am the only one who feels this way, here are some points made on a non-FDH affiliated message board.

-He is that dude that came on ESPN last night and said people are drafting Ryan Howard too early. He is the same guy that had his own fantasy football show on ESPN this year, and b/c of him, I drafted Chris Chambers real early, and he sucked this year. He is a smug, cocky, idiot, and I am 100% positive all of us here could run circles around him at his job. Ya feel me!!!

-Agreed...him being on TV really has annoyed me. I used to read his website, but since he aired on ESPN I have realized his information is useless. I think I saw some website who compared and analyzed his rankings (for basketball) against other sites and his picks were by far the worst overall.

-He is definitely too cocky for me, too bad ESPN partnered with him.he keeps saying Igawa will have DiceK like numbers. i dunno about that.

Now clearly, this was in response to comments made pre-baseball season. The Kei Igawa thing is almost unforgivable in hindsight. That's convenient to say now, I know. If you really look and/or listen to Matthew Berry, those comments come up more often than not. The guy really doesn't know what he's talking about. Fantasy sports can not be relegated to crunching stats and matchups as the only literal approach to the analysis. As we at FDH say often, its all situational and value is the most important factor. Here's a fun tidbit of analysis.

The following is a fantasy team of mine that I did just for fun, winning a title.

QB-Tom Brady
RB-Jamal Lewis
RB-Adrian Peterson
WR-Randy Moss
WR-Chad Johnson
WR-Calvin Johnson
TE-Kellen Winslow
K-Jason Hanson


According to Berry,

^ Tom Brady is in the top 4-6 QB fantasy wise (League MVP, and finished 4800 yds/50tds)

^ Jamal Lewis is over the hill and done (1300 yds/11 combined tds)

^ Adrian Peterson, never draft rookies (1341 yds/13 combined tds-oh, and rushing champ)

^ Randy Moss, he will never be the Moss of old, (1493 yds/23 F#$@ing tds!)

^ Chad Johnson, he's good but not worth taking too high (1440 yds/8tds in a very down year)

^ Calvin Johnson, he's a rookie so don't bother (756 yds/5 tds-not great but a decent 3rd WR)

^ Kellen Winslow, hasn't proven himself enough to worry about (1106 yds/5tds-4th best fantasy TE)

^ Jason Hanson, who cares about kickers anyway? (139 fantasy points-5th best K points wise)

^ Jacksonville, don't worry about defenses, i.e. Punt the position (14th best and taken late)

Here's the point. It's all about value. In hindsight it would make sense if the draft went-Brady (1st), A. Peterson (2nd), and Moss (3rd). That is clearly not how it went down. The following is the order in which players were selected. Again remember value is everything. If I listened to Berry there is no way I could have drafted this team.

1st round (pick 8) Chad Johnson
2nd round (pick 13) Randy Moss
3rd round (pick 28) Tom Brady
4th round (pick 33) Calvin Johnson
5th round (pick 48) Jamal Lewis
6th round (pick 53) Cadillac Williams
7th round (pick 68) Matt Hasselbeck
8th round (pick 73) Adrian Peterson
9th round (pick 88) Kellen Winslow
10th round (pick 93) Jay Cutler
11th round (pick 108) Joe Horn
12th round (pick 113) Devin Hester
13th round (pick 128) Greg Olsen
14th round (pick 133) Jacksonville
15th round (pick 148) Jason Hanson

Note: 6th round pick C.Williams never played. If you draft correctly a third of your picks will never play outside of bye weeks (Hasselbeck, Cutler, Horn, Hester, Olsen).

The value displayed here is unreal. As impossible as it may seem, this is the kind of analysis and success you can come to expect from, not Matthew Berry.

I would put up my best team from '07 (I love to draft so I have upwards of 14 teams) against any of Berry's and would smoke him by Week 8.

The Newest Internet Craze by People with Too Much Time

by Jason Jones

The newest internet craze to be filed under the sub folder of "Some People Have Too Much Time on Their Hands" is something called Misheard Lyrics. This is a favorite pastime for my wife, who loves spending a great deal of time at night searching for tedious funny stuff on the internet. Things like videos of cats dancing to music, people getting hurt doing stupid stuff, etc. The newest adventure is Misheard Lyrics, which is exactly what it sounds like. A great example of this, and almost everyone knows someone who has made a fool of themselves doing this, is the Cingular commercial that aired last year.

Well, what these kids have done, (I can only assume they are young people considering how much time it must take to construct one of these), is taken actual songs and comprised a video slide show animating the lyrics INCORRECTLY. Some of them are actually very funny.

This particular video is of Fall Out Boy's "This Ain't a Scene, Arms Race" song, which is hard enough to know the words to. Those are funniest ones. If you are unsure of the lyrical content, you can bet it will be funny.

So, if you're REALLY bored or need a laugh, just go into Youtube and search:


Thursday, January 24, 2008

2008 Undeclared Underclassmen...Right, Wrong, or Indifferent

by Jason Jones

Undeclared Underclassmen

  1. Darren McFadden-RB
  2. Kenny Phillips-FS
  3. James Laurinaitus-ILB
  4. Ryan Clady-OT
  5. Vernon Gholston-DE
  6. Calais Campbell-DE
  7. Jonathan Stewart-RB
  8. Malcolm Jenkins-CB
  9. Malcolm Kelly-WR
  10. Kevin Smith-RB
  11. DeSean Jackson-WR
  12. Aqib Talib-CB
  13. Felix Jones-RB
  14. Rashard Mendenhall-RB
  15. Pat Sims-DT
  16. Derrick Harvey-DE
  17. Jerod Mayo-ILB
  18. Jamaal Charles-RB
  19. James Hardy-WR
  20. Geno Hayes-OLB
  21. Ray Rice-RB
  22. Mario Manningham-WR
  23. Steve Slaton-RB
  24. James Davis-RB
  25. Adrian Arrington-WR
  26. Justin King-CB
  27. Brian Robiskie-WR
  28. Mario Urrita-WR
  29. Jack Ikegwuonu-CB
  30. Erin Henderson-OLB
  31. Brandon Flowers-CB
  32. Earl Bennett-WR
  33. Martellius Bennett-TE
  34. Devin Thomas-WR
  35. Chilo Rachal-OLB
  36. Phillip Merling-DE
  37. Jermichael Finley-TE
  38. Anthony Collins-OT
  39. Joe Burnett-OT
  40. Branden Albert-G
  41. DaJuan Morgan-FS
  42. Taj Smith-WR
  43. Johnny Dingle-DE
  44. Orlando Scandrick-CB
  45. Ryan Grice-Mullen-WR
  46. Darius Reynaud-WR
  47. Victor Harris-CB
  48. Franklin Dunbar-OT
  49. Davone Bess-WR
  50. James Banks-WR

As a draft analyst, it is generally my contention that 85% of eligible players should make themselves eligible for the NFL Draft. In this era of pro football, given a couple years even 6th rounders make contributions, and dollars. This is the first year I can remember that sure fire top 15 picks have chosen to return to school. One can always find examples (i.e. Matt Leinart). Ironically, the only players on this list who absolutely are NOT entering the draft are Ohio State Buckeyes. Granted, the national consensus is that the Buckeyes were a year ahead of schedule. This could be the only excuse I can fathom. I don’t mean to upset the traditionalists who think all college players should graduate before entering the draft, but ALL of the Ohio State players minus Robiskie SHOULD go pro without hesitation. The only first 3 round worthy players on the fence are: Jerod Mayo, Mario Urrita, Brandon Flowers, Chilo Rachal, Phillip Merling, and Joe Burnett. Jerod Mayo is by far the biggest name on that short list. Since James Laurinaitis is out, officially, that makes Jerod Mayo no worse than the second best ILB in the draft. As well as considering various team needs and Laurinaitis’ exit from draft consideration Mayo could find himself in the top 25. The top 15 of this list are no doubt about it first round selections. With Laurinautis and Malcolm Jenkins out, should open the door for other seniors to move up. Those seniors can be seen at the Under Armor Senior Bowl this Saturday. Later on you can look forward to seeing a Senior Bowl recap.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's America's loss, not Fred's

By Rick Morris

Fair warning: Bitterness Alert!

Every four years, you always hear people whining about the choice for president. "I can't believe it's Bush and Kerry. Can't we do better than that?" Four years before that, people were appalled by the choice between Bush and Gore. And on and on it goes.

Almost invariably, though, this country generally has at least a decent chance to do better, but rejects it in favor of a flashier or better-funded empty suit. The USA blew it again today when Fred Thompson dropped out of the race. Hence, history will repeat itself later this year when people are crying about the pathetic choice foisted upon this nation by the Democrats and Republicans.

Fred had it all: he possessed common-sense ideas that have been validated over the decades, he took on volatile issues like entitlement reform, he was a solid communicator and he treated the American public with decency and respect and had the courage to ask the same in return. This country, and in particular the Republican Party and the conservative movement, chose instead to their everlasting shame to continue their pattern (broken only by Reagan) of foisting crappy mediocrities on this land of ours.

Some of my friends who are Republican insiders, including some members of The FDH Lounge family, believe in the "Jim Rome Scoreboard Theory of Politics." That is, if you're the last man standing, that you're the best man because you proved your worth by going through the gauntlet. Scoreboard!

I couldn't disagree more.

Fred Thompson was the best man and it is only a broken system that kept him from being able to break through the glass ceiling put on him by the jerks in the media and the political class. His failure is an INDICTMENT of our political system. This is one reason that, although I don't like it, I'm not as consumed with hatred for McCain-Feingold as my aforementioned friends. Granted, the law is unconstitutional and was a bad idea. But unlike my friends, I refuse to glorify the present system and pretend there's nothing wrong with it. Winning a nomination by being the best at conspiring in smoke-filled rooms with party puppet-masters is the proven way to get ahead -- as the nominations of both political parties have shown over the past few decades. But it is nothing for our country to be proud of, as it is evidence that our democracy is broken. Now before any of my friends get the urge to go more-conservative-than-thou on me for appropriating the language of The Nation magazine for my critique, let me remind them that our Founding Fathers, whom we on the right respect greatly, did not intend for the pursuit of our nation's highest office to be just another game of casino capitalism.

Political pundits are now wondering where the Thompson support will end up now. As for me, I am disregarding early indications that Thompson will not make an endorsement and I anticipate that he will endorse John McCain -- and, given the prominent right-wingers (i.e. Gramm/Kemp/Coburn) who have recently surrounded McCain and figure to serve as his braintrust if elected president, I will probably give McCain my reluctant support as well.

I do want to beg any of my fellow Fred supporters, who have by definition been smart enough not to get hoodwinked by Say-Anything Mittens (rumor has it he's going around saying he's the only person who can get Axl Rose to release the Chinese Democracy album!) not to give into this vile fraud of a campaign at this late hour. Not only are Romney's convictions demonstrably only an inch deep, the rotten Romney campaign should pay a price for the whisper campaign waged about Fred's viability from Day One -- with the low point being the cancer-mongering put forth by one of their chief mouthpieces. This nation today suffered the loss of its best candidate for president -- let's not compound the error by awarding the GOP nomination to a denizen of the political gutter.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The greatest page on the Internet (revisited)

By Rick Morris

We at FDH often speak of the "greatest page on the Internet," but that's because we are rightfully proud that it can be found on our mothership, It's our "Depth Charts and Ultimate Links" page, and if it's not your home page or at least on your list of key bookmarks, shame on you. No, really, shame on you. We've provided it for almost a year now and we've written about it repeatedly, what's your excuse?

We started it as a page to be the ultimate portal for sports fans, but have expanded it well beyond that. Recently, we cracked the "500 barrier" and are now up to a grand total of 533 links. If you do not read this post almost immediately, that number may well be obsolete; we are expanding all the time as we come across new sources that we know people will want to have handy.

Every link fits into a given category. Here, we will lay out for you each of the categories on the page, the number of links in each category and what you can expect to find there.

BASEBALL DEPTH CHARTS (30): Depth charts for each MLB team from each team's official website.
FOOTBALL DEPTH CHARTS (32): Depth charts for each NFL team from each team's official website.
HOOPS DEPTH CHARTS (30): Depth charts for each NBA team from each team's official website.
BASEBALL MEDIA (17): Various forms of media dealing with baseball.
BASEBALL BLOGS (9): Blogs and other new media entities dealing with baseball.
FOOTBALL MEDIA (7): Various forms of media dealing with football.
FOOTBALL BLOGS (8): Blogs and other new media entities dealing with football.
HOOPS MEDIA (8): Various forms of media dealing with basketball.
HOOPS BLOGS (7): Blogs and other new media entities dealing with basketball.
HOCKEY MEDIA (7): Various forms of media dealing with hockey.
HOCKEY BLOGS (11): Blogs and other new media entities dealing with hockey.
RACING MEDIA (4): Various forms of media dealing with all types of motorsports.
NICHE SPORTS MEDIA (12): Various forms of media dealing with many types of niche sports.
MAJOR LEAGUES (5): Websites for the major sports leagues in North America.
OTHER LEAGUES (30): Websites for various other sports leagues all over the world.
HALL OF FAME (6): Websites for hall of fame institutions in major North American sports.
MAJOR SPORTS MEDIA (15): Entities comprising the sports wing of "mainstream media," including websites for wire services, newspapers, magazines and major sports networks.
NEW SPORTS MEDIA (32): Blogs and other new media entities dealing with a variety of sports.
CBS SPORTS HOME PAGES & SCORES BY SPORT (25): The home page for every sports category and every scoreboard in each sport on the CBS Sports website (i.e. NFL home page, MLB scores page, etc.).
SPORTS MULTIMEDIA (6): Various audio and video sources dealing with a variety of sports content.
MESSAGE BOARDS (6): Various forums dealing with a variety of sports.
SPORTSTALKNETWORK (11): Links to every resource for partaking of content.

THE FDH LOUNGE: NOTHING IS OFF-TOPIC (214): Inspired by THE FDH LOUNGE webcasts, these links direct you to stimulating websites in and beyond the world of sports.
MISCELLANEOUS SPORTS/SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT (19): Sports or sports-related websites important enough to be listed on our links page that do not fit into any other categories.
BLOG/SEARCH/VIDEO TOOLS (30): Websites that can direct you to whatever you want to find on the Internet.
COMPLETELY RANDOM (14): Non-sports websites important enough to be listed on our links page that do not fit into any other categories.
FINANCIAL/MARKETS (5): Websites related to finance and the markets.
FUN TIMEWASTERS (10): Video game and other fun websites.
GENERAL NEWS/MEDIA (29): Various types of news outlets.
GEOPOLITICS (8): Various web entities dealing with international relations and realities.
HEALTH/WELLNESS (3): Websites devoted to health issues.
HUMOR (6): Websites explicitly devoted to comedy.
POLITICS/PUBLIC POLICY (19): Web entities dealing with various political and public policy issues.
POP CULTURE GOODIES (5): Web entities dealing with various pop culture elements.
TV/MUSIC/FILM/GENERAL ENTERTAINMENT (23): Web entities dealing with a variety of general entertainment issues.
WEBCASTING (8): Websites providing access to various types of webcast programming.
WEB COMMERCE (7): Websites selling various services.
WEB TOOLS (20): Various websites providing miscellaneous services.
WORTHWHILE CAUSES (8): Various charitable and awareness-raising websites.

Bill Clinton trashes the presidency -- again

By Rick Morris

I am anything but a Barack Obama partisan. But I agree with one point that he and other leading Democrats are making loud and clear today: that Bill Clinton continues to trash the dignity of the presidency in ways utterly unprecedented in the long history of our republic.

Former presidents, in exchange for the immense respect granted to them by dint of the fact that they occupied our country's highest office, are supposed to conduct themselves in a manner that will not embarrass us. But Clinton has always reeked of the kind of person who'd go on QVC to hock autographed pairs of his used underwear if he thought it would work to his advantage. What's a little base attack dog politicking among friends?

Granted, Slick Willie is in some uncharted waters here, what with trying to get a former First Lady elected as President of These United States. But notwithstanding the effort to make Hillary the Lurleen Wallace of the new millennium, the trade-off in terms of regaining power versus retaining respect that Bill Clinton is trying to make is completely wrong. For it is not respect for him personally that he is squandering, it is the respect our nation has placed in him as a holder of our most revered office.

It is a tad funny to see many Obama supporters exercising outrage about Clinton's descent into anything-goes politics at their expense. I wonder how many of them were similarly chagrined when he debased the Oval Office with his sexcapades, or discussed his choice in underwear on national television or brought down the dignity of the office in a host of other unprecedented ways? Darn few, I bet; in politics it's always a matter of whose ox is being gored.

Here's hoping that the next time the Democratic Party succeeds in electing a president that it care ALL of the time about the character and dignity of the person as opposed to merely when it suits the need of the moment.

Evaluating coaches fairly

By Rick Morris

The contract extension given to Mike Brown and the proposed extension on the table for Romeo Crennel have caused a great deal of heartburn among Cleveland sports fans. My amusement at the reaction of the general public led me to reexamine how fans tend to evaluate coaches purely on the surface.

To me, Cleveland is unique on the sports landscape right now in that it has three coach/manager figures who are so much alike. Brown, Crennel and Eric Wedge all have very low-key public personas. All are in their first go-round in leadership positions at the highest level and all are very interesting in having one common element: their weaknesses are much more evident than their strengths.

Spend five minutes listening to any Cleveland terrestrial radio show (often a painful experience on the ears) and you'll hear a multitude of complaints: "Wedge's teams don't bunt enough -- and don't grasp the fundamentals!" "What poor excuse for a rotation is Brown using these days -- and why doesn't he have a semblance of an offensive system?" "Crennel can't manage a replay situation or clock management to save his life!"

All are valid points.

But all have had a nice measure of success in town, much more than any of their immediate predecessors. All are clearly doing a great amount right.

But, as much as I watch all of their teams, even I can't point to much that is evident.

None are flashy X's and O's tacticians like Tony LaRussa or Mike Martz. None are wild disciplinarians like Tom Coughlin or Larry Bowa. When things are going well with each of the Cleveland franchises, you rarely if ever hear about what the manager or coach is doing.

Does that mean that we should discount the positive side of the ledger for these men? Hardly.

All have the respect of their teams and have demonstrated the ability to manage conflicts and keep the difficulties that all franchises face in-house. All of them must manage rosters that are not as talented top-to-bottom as the rosy-glass fanbase wants to believe. They excel in the quiet areas of their jobs, which do not come close in the public mind (which values only the obvious and surface-level traits) to balancing out their deficiencies.

I do not mind criticism of these men and have been known on programs to make specific points to that effect. But I am always mindful of the big picture and the respect that these men deserve on balance for leading these teams out of the muck and the mire that they were bogged down in just a few years ago. There is absolutely nothing wrong with informed criticism of sports figures, but let's try to keep it a bit more fair and balanced as Rupert Murdoch might say.

Championship Sunday thoughts

By Rick Morris

^ Norv Turner and Philip Rivers are the biggest goats of the day without any doubt whatsoever. Unlike LaDainian Tomlinson, Rivers did not have the good sense to pull himself from the game and Turner did not have the stones to step in and do the job that leaders are paid to execute. How was yesterday's scene any different than Grady Little failing to take the ball out of Pedro Martinez's hands in the 2003 ALCS when his pitcher clearly was gassed? Forget the 2004 baseball postseason, there's your cosmic payback for Boston-area fans yesterday as the shoe was on the other foot. Rivers was in pathetic physical condition, unable to push off at all on his passes. There was so much air underneath his throws that I was half-waiting for the Patriots to signal for a fair catch before making an interception. It is utterly shameful to hold the Pats, the best offense of at least the modern era, to 21 points on their home field and not win the game. Spare me the gaga about Rivers inspiring his team by going out there one leg and not wanting to put the game in the hands of a backup. Phil Simms was just being a homer for the quarterback position when he argued otherwise with no evidence to back up his moronic position. While imperfect, Billy Volek is far better than the average backup and proved his mettle at Indy last week -- and the team wouldn't have folded pathetically in the red zone every time with a quarterback that was physically able to play. I actually like Rivers as a quarterback, but make no mistake that his John Wayne Complex and the gutless non-response of his head coach were primarily responsible for the team's failure to win a game that it should have.

^ Why wasn't the CBS pregame crew on the scene yesterday? Since when is the studio utilized for a Championship Sunday game? CBS doesn't even have the Super Bowl this year -- this was the biggest day of their football season! Fox Sports sent their crew to Lambeau yesterday as they will for the Super Bowl in two weeks. Shame on CBS.

^ Contrary to the final score, the Giants actually dominated the later stages of the game yesterday. How else could Lawrence Tynes miss a game-winning field goal every ninety seconds? Mike McCarthy will have to answer for the fact that he so easily abandoned the ground game. Much like the previous week, you have to give credit to the Giants, but the Cowboys and Packers both made a ton of self-inflicted mistakes. Speaking of which, and my friends watching with me concurred, the game had much more the feel of a routine Week 9 game than a conference title clash. The mistakes, the up-and-down play of so many key performers on both sides -- it just seemed to drain some of the air of urgency out of the contest.

^ Yesterday's game reinforces the notion that even if Brett Favre had pulled off the improbable second Super Bowl win of his career, he still would be no better than a Top Ten quarterback all-time looking in enviously at the Top Five. Few other elite quarterbacks have been great for as long as he has, and few of them have the records that he does -- but few of them have the brutal tendencies that he does to this day of forcing the football and trying too hard to make things happen. You live by being a gunslinger, you die by it also and the flip side of the reality that makes him a folk hero and a legend also makes him somebody that you have to be just a bit conflicted about having at the helm of your team in the clutch.

^ In trying to anticipate the oppressive media crush of manufactured Super Bowl storylines, a few come to mind. Tom Brady will now be carrying on his famous battle with the Manning family against the other brother. Given the fact that New York tends to break down (in large part) with so many fans rooting for the Mets and Jets (the newer franchises in town) and so many fans rooting for the Yankees and Giants (the old-line teams in town), the Super Bowl is going to pit a great many Yankee and Red Sox fans against each other (can we root for Mutually Assured Destruction?). I'm hard-pressed to conjure up a scenario that gives the Giants a serious chance for victory, but I will address the Super Bowl matchup in more detail at a later date.

Perspectives on MLK Day

By Rick Morris

America's most-scrutinized legal holiday is upon us. Every year, as Martin Luther King Day approaches, pundits everywhere ponder the meaning of the day, King's message, and what both would have meant going forward had the tragic circumstances in April of 1968 in Memphis not occurred.

This column, from the always-interesting Paul Greenberg, is entitled "Martin Luther King: The Radical as Conservative." In it, he argues somewhat persuasively that contrary to the image many now have as King the would-be changer of everything that America stood for, King actually was calling for America to reaffirm and live up to its stated values and for individuals to take the responsibility to better their own lives and those of their loved ones and countrymen. I agree, that does sound like a conservative message. As someone on the right, I can attest that true colorblindness is a conservative principle. What ended up muddying the waters on civil rights, to the long-term detriment of the conservative movement, was the fact that many powerful racist whites were able to tap into the legitimate language of "states' rights" and the resentment that flowed from the federal government asserting complete power over the states ever since FDH tried to unilaterally write the 10th Amendment out of the Constitution.

But ultimately, Greenberg does not account for the economic and foreign policy elements that were creeping into King's message in his final years. He was adopting many stances that were very, very liberal on redistribution of wealth and the rightful role of the United States and its military around the world. Given the fact that America was locked in an existential struggle with the Soviet Union and its satellites at the time and that the statist economic policies of the Great Society were creating incentives that further preyed upon poor communities, it's impossible for me or any other intellectually honest conservative to get behind that part of the message.

Personally, I've never been a huge fan of how exactly the holiday was implemented. Given that King was not so egocentric as to have wanted a personal celebration of himself every year and given that I think something that celebrates America is more appropriate, I'd rather that we have an annual "Equality Day" instead. Celebrate King, but also Nat Turner, Booker T. Washington and a host of others who worked to push America in the right direction. While we castigate ourselves endlessly for the sins of slavery, as we probably should, we also need to remember that no other nation fought a violent tug-of-war for its soul on that subject and came out the right way. Granted, the shameful Jim Crow era is impossible to put any kind of a gloss on, but again, America did respond to pressure to get rid of it. That's the beauty of this country; we screw up just as much as anyone else, but we're uniquely positioned to atone for our errors.

But it seems that we keep coming back to the same place, one that we are fated to repeat every year as a consensus about Martin Luther King fails to gel. His ultimate legacy and this holiday are like a national Rorschach Test as those of us from different points of view perceive what we are likely to see from our own perspectives.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Movie review: Juno

By Rick Morris

Reviews for the new Jason Reitman movie JUNO have been outstanding; it presently rates an astounding 93 on Rotten Tomatoes. These great recommendations are entirely appropriate. JUNO is an excellent movie and could well go down as one of the year’s best.

When describing it to a friend, I described it as a darker NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. While imperfect, that’s the best succinct description I can give for this film. It has the quirky indy-ish feel of DYNAMITE and some of the same weird-but-funny dialogue, but the subject matter of teen pregnancy is infinitely more serious than anything in the earlier film. Speaking of the dialogue, a minority of reviewers have found it off-putting because of the quirky nature of it – I found it amusing rather than distracting, as do most audiences apparently.

The plot is built around the sudden and unplanned pregnancy of sharp-witted young Juno (played by Ellen Page in a star-making performance), which resulted from one encounter with her best friend, the somewhat shy-and-awkward Paulie Bleeker (played by the always-outstanding Michael Cera). Bleeker is somewhat in the background of the movie, but his character shines in the scenes where he does appear. Given that he is so different in personality from Juno, the attraction to him that she displays fleetingly earlier on and then again later in the movie does not seem very easy to understand, but apparently the notion of “opposites attract” is supposed to apply here. Then again, although she is an interesting and appealing character, she is not in any of the “cool cliques” at school, so she would probably not be quick to see herself as much better than Bleeker.

Juno’s initial instinct was to go to the local abortion clinic, but after being approached outside by a classmate picketing the abortuary, she reconsiders inside. While this opinion has nothing to do with a cinematic review, I admit as a pro-life individual to being very happy with the message of an intellectually honest mother-to-be admitting to herself that what she is carrying around is more than a mere clump of cells.

Once she charts her course, she must deal with several people, most of whom are fortunately nice to her. Her father Mac is played in a good-humored manner by J.K. Simmons, which kept me on the edge of my seat – I kept flashing back to his scary role on OZ and kept waiting for him to snap violently on Juno! Her stepmom Bren (played by Allison Janney) is friendly and supportive. In a slightly amusing element to the film, Janney is not shot in a manner that reveals her true height so as not to tower over any other actors.

The adoptive couple she selects from a classified ad have some very interesting issues going on under the surface. Stepford wife Vanessa Loring (played by Jennifer Garner in fascinating fashion) and subtly uneasy hubby Mark Loring (portrayed by the great-as-always Jason Bateman) have the idyllic yuppie existence working according to the naked eye, but they get more interesting as the layers get peeled back. As Mark’s nostalgia for his older life continues to manifest itself, some interesting and disturbing directions get hinted at and viewers are kept off-balance as the movie advances.

Juno’s interactions with everyone around her are constantly entertaining, especially those with her scene-stealing friend Leah (played by Olivia Thirlby). An awesome cameo by THE OFFICE star Rainn Wilson will have you in stitches also.

The twists and turns in the story keep you guessing but do not in any way feel contrived. Regardless of what your preconceived notion of what a happy ending for the story might look like, I don’t think I’m spoiling the ending by saying that the direction the writers chose was satisfactory to me and I think it would be to most people. On a note that will be very funny to those of us in the FDH family, the Juno character has a lot of resemblance to our own Samantha Jones – she and her husband saw the movie and agreed strongly with my perception of this. Listeners of THE FDH LOUNGE program may notice this the next time she delivers a music review!

But the bottom line is that this movie does justify the strong buzz and approving reviews it is receiving. I recommend it strongly.