Saturday, May 31, 2008
The New York Post's Phil Mushnick is someone with whom I both frequently agree and disagree. He is always outspoken, but is generally someone whose opinion you can respect even when you think he's wrong because he isn't lazy about backing up a take like a Mike Lupica or Mitch Albom might frequently be.
But I can't at all agree with his reasoning about why instant replay in baseball would be bad. Now, I haven't joined the replay bandwagon yet, but my mind is open on the subject. However, to reject it because of misguided fear that ballclubs could play hanky-panky with the content for replays as Mushnick suggests is ill-conceived.
I don't doubt for a moment that there are many owners who would try to use their TV trucks as an extension of the managerial staff (*cough* STEINBRENNER *cough*). "Sorry Mr. Umpire, we don't have a replay of whether that ball was a home run or not." Unfortunately for Mushnick's theory though, the vast majority of games are televised by both teams. If you're going to use replay, deploy it in the overwhelming number of games where each team has a broadcast team at its disposal. Games that are nationally televised by neutral networks would be exempt from this rule.
That wasn't even a difficult problem to solve.
C'mon, Phil, you're better than this.
Let's get this straight right away. Scott McClellan was perhaps the worst White House spokesman of the last century. His bumbling, buffoonish hemming and hawing from the podium day after day set a new standard for public ineptitude. Babies crying for their soiled diapers to be changed thought this clown was helpless and pathetic.
But, America being America, he's been able to cash in on his complete inability to fulfill even minor professional standards in the performance of his job.
All of the so-called "revelations" in his book fall into what might be called, in deference to family-friendly standards, "No S, Sherlock territory." Yes, this administration made a decision to get us into war without an imminent threat and played the Dean Smith Four Corners Offense for almost four years prior to the surge in the desert of Mesopotamia while we lost untold blood, treasure and deterrence capacity. Yes, the federal response to Katrina was putrid and down to the almost impossibly low standard of the hopelessly feeble and corrupt state and local governments.
However, McClellan shows himself to be completely gutless in his inability to walk away from this job believing that the president was in the wrong. In this way, Bob Dole is justified in his outrage that this piddling little turd was able to profit from his two-faced behavior.
As a RINO par excellence, McClellan whines and sobs about the Bush Administration's reluctance to "govern from the center," conveniently ignoring all of the left-wing sellouts of the past eight years (big spending, sacrificing poor kids to the alter of Big Labor in the voucher-free No Child Left Behind abomination, trying to put a moderate establishment weenie on the Supreme Court before conservatives howled, etc.) because they don't fit his narrative.
Who can blame him for trying to change the subject, though, especially when he knows that know-nothing jerks like OlbyLoon are going to give him a pass for all of his historical revisionism? The fact is that Scott McClellan was the personification of this administration's failure to live up to any kind of potential whatsoever. As I've stated previously, I voted third-party in the 2000 presidential election out of conviction that the Republican Party had erred tremendously in opting to sublimate its interests to those of the Bush Dynasty. But I did root for the Bush team to succeed in the first term, and saw signs after 9/11 that they just might prove me wrong after all and be up to the job. Sadly, they were not, and by the time the 2004 election rolled around I was pulling the lever in that direction solely out of abject fear of the prospect of radical pacifist, Jimmy Carter's Second Term John Kerry (although an argument could certainly be made that since Kerry would also have been an abject failure these past four years that the country might be better off right now had he won since we'd be poised to expressly repudiate his vision instead of being about to embrace it potentially in the form of Barack Obama -- but that's a different story for a different time).
The disillusionment that I felt with the Bush Administration during McClellan's tenure at the podium originated with their policies and follow-through, or lack thereof, but deepened substantially at their complete lack of competence in allowing this no-talent hack to stumble inarticulately day after day in front of the brutal jackals of the press. Not only could this crew not carry out policies in a capable manner, they could not communicate even a basic vision with any polish whatsoever. As a writer, that offended me greatly.
So to sum up: Scott McClellan didn't demonstrate the Bush Administration's incompetence through the contentions in his book that came out this past week. He demonstrated it by keeping his job for three years.
Friday, May 30, 2008
By Rick Morris
While in some picturesque areas of Northern Ontario recently, I was able to take some photos of the beautiful landscape in the area. On this blog, we're not shy about showcasing interesting features we find in other corners of the Internet, but it's always nice to have original content here when possible. So here are some scenic shots of Canada from me (and a few from my father). The top two ones are of the bluffs of Lake Superior, as visible from the Trans-Canada Highway.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
By Rick Morris
Pro wrestling existed as a regional, highly segmented enterprise until it was pulled into the modern age in 1983 by Vincent Kennedy McMahon. He was in the process of buying out his father and his father’s partners and taking full control of the promotion. He was not content to merely control the Upper Northeast territory, lucrative though it was with such metropolises as
Previously, the barons of each area maintained a gentleman’s agreement that kept them from expanding into other territories. Although some minor promotional skirmishes erupted from time to time, the “dons” of old-time wrestling respected promotional boundaries for the most part and did not “run opposition” against one another. The overwhelming majority of promoters prior to 1983 belonged to the National Wrestling Alliance, a governing body that had a “traveling” world champion (as opposed to a “company” champion, a traveling champion defended his title in multiple territories anywhere and everywhere). The two major exceptions to the rule of NWA governance were Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association (AWA – an Upper Midwest territory that broke away from the NWA) and Vince McMahon Senior’s World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF – the aforementioned Northeast territory that was later renamed the WWF and then the WWE). While Vince Senior and Gagne both left the NWA auspices in the early 1960s, they still refrained from active competition against any NWA promoters, and indeed, kept some measure of co-promotion from them with time to time.
When Vincent Kennedy McMahon (often referred to as Vince Junior) took over the WWF and launched his national expansion plan, it is impossible to overstate how much his actions violated the “gentleman’s club” atmosphere that ruled the industry for the previous several decades. The direction he charted was so shocking that there are some stories that circulate to this day that indicate that Vince Senior was strongly opposed to it out of loyalty to his friends and colleagues. At a bare minimum, it’s been confirmed by those close to him that he did at least call his fellow promoters to warn them that they were going to be under attack. The full story of Vince Senior’s attitude about the expansion may never be known, since he perished due to cancer in 1984.
Vince Junior’s actions unleashed complete fury among his peers – now competitors – because with few exceptions he was now steamrolling them in their own backyards. A short-lived competing “national promotion” called Pro Wrestling USA existed in 1984-85 and it was nothing more than an amalgam of the biggest regional promotions (mostly NWA but also the AWA). It collapsed because, predictably, many of these chieftains imagined themselves the biggest of the bunch and nobody wanted to take a back seat to their peers.
These potentates were angry both out of fear for their own survival (a fear that would be justified, as most would be out of business by the end of the decade once Vince buried some and the Charlotte-based Jim Crockett Promotions would swallow most remaining NWA-affiliated promotions), but also in some cases jealousy. When Vince brought the red-hot Hulk Hogan (fresh off of his Rocky III role) back to the WWF in 1983 and set in motion big plans with MTV, Cyndi Lauper and other national entities, he was taking advantage of circumstances that were rare, but not quite unprecedented. On at least five previous occasions, promoters had potential opportunities to throw off their regional shackles – only one of them attempted to do so and he did so, unsuccessfully, in the same maverick mode McMahon would emulate about a decade later. Had the others tried, the course of history would have been different because Vince Junior wouldn’t have been going against as much precedent in doing what he did. But it’s another matter altogether to imagine that any of these wrestling minds could have broken through as Vince Junior did and made the jump successfully. The fact that he jumped on the back of cable television as it transformed American society in the 1980s (through the troika of CNN, ESPN and MTV) was the most important indicator that only that man in that circumstance could have managed the transformation of the industry. But it’s always fun to look at what-ifs in whatever realm – so here are the five instances that could have preceded Vince Junior’s efforts in 1983-84.
^ 1965: NWA/WWF Title Unification bout falls apart. In Lou Thesz’s book “Hooker,” he recounts the negotiations that took place between NWA President Sam Muchnick and Vince Senior. Having just broken away from the NWA two years earlier, Vince and his partner Toots Mondt wanted additional validation for their already-successful champion Bruno Sammartino. Specifically, they wanted to set up a title unification match with Thesz, then the NWA World Champion. This match would take place on closed-circuit television across the country, then an unthinkable aspect of promotion for pro wrestling. Thesz was to drop the belt to Bruno, thus unifying the world title claims, then win back only the NWA belt at an unspecified date in the future. Thesz was unimpressed with the amount of money he was being offered, especially because the “
^ 1975: A maverick from “outside the family” tries, and fails, to establish a national beachhead. Those who have compared pro wrestling to La Cosa Nostra over the years need look no further than the similarities in terms of how competition is tolerated – or more accurately, how it was not tolerated. “Running opposition” against an established operation in an area was the biggest no-no among the kingpins of the pro circuit back in the day. So one can only imagine the shock and anger coursing through booking offices across the country when an interloper not presently recognized as an NWA or NWA-friendly promoter tried to set up shop nationally. Eddie Einhorn, a longtime sports television executive who, among other things, helped pioneer big-time college basketball coverage (and is now an executive with the Chicago White Sox), picked up the pieces of the NWF promotion that ran in upstate New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio in the late 1960s and early 1970s when it folded. He signed several big-name stars of the day, including Mil Mascaras (who would serve as his first heavyweight champion), Ivan Koloff, Ernie Ladd, Ox Baker and announcer Jack Reynolds (the voice of NWF wrestling, later to be heard in the WWF and also the father of longtime Cleveland radio and television sports personality Tony Rizzo) for his brand-new IWA promotion. With national syndication, a slot on
^ 1976: Ted Turner puts WTBS on national cable and
^ 1978: Vince Senior takes the title off the Hogan precursor. When Bruno’s final title run came to an end in April of 1977, Vince Senior traveled an unconventional path by elevating Superstar Billy Graham, a charismatic, jive-talking, flashy-dressing heel muscleman from the Southwest. Wrestlers without much technical wrestling ability had traditionally been relegated to the upper midcard at best, but there was something special about Graham’s package of qualifications that made him an intriguing choice to lead a promotion as champion. The gamble paid off, as Graham provided the spark the
1982: World Class Championship Wrestling goes on Trinity and builds a substantial syndication network, with unprecedented production values. Much in the same way that Vince Junior imprinted his very different vision of wrestling on the WWF when he took it over, Fritz Von Erich transformed his country greatly at about the time he retired as an active wrestler to focus on promoting in 1982. With his young, athletic, photogenic and insanely over sons about to anchor the promotion for as far as the eye could see, he changed the entire feel of Texas wrestling to reflect the new age in every possible way. A new TV crew came in and brought a revolutionary, high-tech feel to the televising of pro wrestling. Older names who had anchored the area for so long were replaced with a new generation of exciting wrestlers. And eventually, a syndication network sprung up in far-flung areas and his show landed on the national evangelical cable channel Trinity Broadcasting Network (World Class was fairly overt in its pro-Christian messages, more so than most wrestling organizations before or since). Like the Georgia promoters a few years earlier, though, Fritz refused to “follow his program” with actual shows across territorial lines, as he did not want to become an outcast in his fraternity of promoters (even when he broke away from the NWA in 1986 and proclaimed his company champion Rick Rude as the “World Class World Heavyweight Champion,” he ignored his sons’ pleas and still refused to compete against his former NWA breathren!). And while he had a host of fresh, new, over wrestlers (exemplified by, but not limited to, his own sons), it’s debatable if he’d have had enough organizational depth to maintain a national promotion, and the drug problems of his sons and many other core wrestlers might have choked such an effort in the cradle. But it remains a very interesting what-if regardless of all that.
I love a good cheesesteak as much as anyone. OK, perhaps more than most, although I have what is perceived as the odd habit of forgoing mushrooms, onions and anything other than cheese as an accompaniment to the steak.
But even I have never had a cheesesteak that would cause me to consider it worthy of a C-Note (although the ones at Harpo's Sports Cafe and Mr. Hero's in the Cleveland area come close). Can you even imagine spending $100 on this item?
Apparently the folks who run this restaurant can fathom exactly that.
It's fair to say this isn't your average sammich, though:
"Chef James Locascio, of Rittenhouse Square's Barclay Prime, created Philadelphia's "haute" cheesesteak, an upscale version of the sandwich that includes butter poached lobster and shaved truffles.
'It's every ingredient you want to try in a life time in one,' said Locascio.
Still, that kind of lavishness doesn't come cheap. For one cheesesteak, expect to pay $100. That is nearly 15 times more than the original.
"We made sure we had the best beef we could find, the best lobster and the right cheese," explains Locascio.
To get top of the line ingredients, Locascio says it costs $17 per pound for cheese, $21 per pound for Kobe beef and $900 per pound for summer truffles."
I guess this shouldn't be a huge surprise. A member of our FDH family, Jon Adams, once apprised me of finding Kobe beef meatloaf on a menu, so I suppose anything is possible in this age of creative cuisine.
As for me, I'll be glad to keep buying versions with far lesser ingredients for 5-7% of the price of this monster, but then again I don't light my stogies with Ben Franklins either.
Here's a current assessment, top to bottom, of where the teams in Major League Baseball sit at the moment:
2. L.A. Angels
5. Tampa Bay
6. Chicago Cubs
8. Chicago White Sox
SECOND TIER (playoff also-rans without acquiring additional help)
10. St. Louis
15. New York Yankees
THIRD TIER (teams on the verge of falling out of playoff contention)
16. New York Mets
17. L.A. Dodgers
26. Kansas City
29. San Diego
30. San Francisco
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
After a week's hiatus, THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER (7-9 PM EDT) and THE GOON SQUAD (immediately after the fantasy show) return to the virtual airwaves of SportsTalkNetwork.com.
On The FDH Insider, we explore the statistical trends of the 2008 MLB season and examine what the medium and long-term implications will be. Many weeks we go "micro" looking at specific players on the show; this week we go "macro" to take a step back and focus on some of the bigger patterns at work thus far. In Hour Two, we move into our first look at the 2008 NBA Draft by unveiling our Senior Editor Jason Jones' Top 99 prospect list -- which we will then post here on the blog, of course.
On our hockey program, we'll be changing the format somewhat to appear at intermission of Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals. We'll break down the action for you, both from tonight and the first two games of the series in Detroit.
Be sure to catch the new FDH Wednesday night lineup, only on SportsTalkNetwork.com.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
From all of us at FDH, we send our thanks and gratitude to our military heroes, past and present, and their families, this Memorial Day.
Chuck Colson's column tackling the issue of God in a war zone is very compelling, as is this account of the WWII experience of British wrestler James Blears. Although he is not American, his bravery is the same as that of our soldiers and sailors and it's instructive to think of his experience in terms of the horrors faced in war.
Additionally, this video is a great tribute to everyone in uniform who has fought for our country. God Bless them all.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
It's a Memorial Day Weekend Super-Spectacular edition of THE FDH LOUNGE on SportsTalkNetwork.com when we return for our 29th installment tonight from 8-11 PM EDT.
In Hour One, after the traditional Opening Statements from the Dignitaries of The FDH Lounge, we touch on the state of domestic politics during America's first summer holiday weekend. We all knew the Clintons were ruthless beyond belief and that Hillary was cynically thinking she'd stay in the race because "somebody's going to try to cap a brotha," but who thought she'd actually say it out loud? What's the fallout going to be? Is Obama in any actual danger? Did she succeed in stirring up the traumas of the Kennedy years in the minds of voters in terms of the sadness the American people endured? We'll talk about all of that, and we'll cast an eye on the "Veepstakes" on both sides and the possible electoral ramifications of the California Supreme Court trying to install gay marriage nationwide. Ironically, in light of Hil-Rod evoking the RFK assassination, it's an interesting piece of trivia to note that she actually holds Robert Kennedy's seat in the Senate from New York.
Towards the end of Hour One, we take a look at Memorial Day in time of war. It's an odd time in America, with a very unpopular war that polls demonstrate that the American people don't want to completely lose that has been buried in the news over the last year relative to what it had been from 2003-2006. How are Americans feeling about military affairs right now? Also, we'll play you the audio from this great Jack Buck video with a salute to America that he coined right after 9/11.
In Hour Two, we look at what is arguably the greatest racing day on the calendar: the F1 Monte Carlo race, the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Now that American open wheel racing finally has its act together, how soon can they run down NASCAR? And can Formula One, the richest sport in the world, ever register significantly in the US?
Then, we take a look at "life off the grid." An eyewitness view of life with only bare access to the outside world for one week -- what's that like?
In Hour Three, we welcome back our Chief Entertainment Dignitary Samantha Jones to help us wade through the summer movie scene and summer concert tour circuit. We promise, in deference to the tastes of our audience, our show is a "Sex and the City"-free zone!
Our final segment revolves around the Chicago Bulls' unlikely victory in the 2008 NBA Draft lottery. A decade after Jordan, the franchise hits the reset button again after the Curry/Chandler/Jay Williams era failed a few years ago. Will Rose or Beasley be the pick -- and what are the ramifications for the teams picking next? We'll break it down for you in the manner to which you have become accustomed.
The world's most broad-based talk show returns to the cyber-airwaves tonight and we invite you to watch or listen. The fun comes your way only on SportsTalkNetwork.com!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
After three consecutive Sun Belt vs. Canada matchups that did nothing to engage the interest of American sports fans with at least a casual interest in hockey, this year's Stanley Cup Finals deliver the NHL's dream matchup: the new face of the NHL, Sidney Crosby, and his team with a legacy of Cup championships from the early 1990s against the franchise deemed "Team of the 1990s" by The Hockey News, the ultimate love-them-or-hate-them team in the sport. If this Pittsburgh vs. Detroit clash fails to engage the public's interest, the league is going to have to take a long look in the mirror to find out what can be done to resuscitate interest in the U.S. -- because this showdown is as good as it gets. Putting the first two games of the Finals on an invisible channel nobody gets certainly doesn't help matters.
Before any analysis commences here, check out this great piece from frequent Lounge guest and NHL.com columnist John Kreiser and this column from Lounge friend Russ Cohen of Hockeyology.
These are clearly the two best teams in the NHL right now and it's not very often in any sport that the absolute best duo squares off at the end. Take last year for example: it was by no means certain going into the Finals that Anaheim and Ottawa were the two best teams because Detroit arguably was at least on a par with the Sens. Actually, by the time the Finals were over and Ottawa got squashed, it was apparent to most that the Ducks had actually beaten the second-best team of '06-'07 in the Western Conference Finals. But this year Detroit set a team record with nine consecutive playoff wins en route to a 12-4 playoff record and Pittsburgh bested them with an almost unheard-of 12-2 mark. These two are the best, folks, plain and simple. Given the magnitude of what Dallas accomplished in knocking off two of what were perceived as the West's "Big Three" (Anaheim and San Jose) prior to facing the Wings, the Stars would definitely displace the Wings as the clear-cut best team in the West had they won -- but, notwithstanding a heroic-but-doomed comeback once down 0-3, they did not.
Despite the fact that the Finals feature the league's two best teams of 2008, the goaltending picture in this series is unlikely to say the least. Marc-Andre Fleury was a super-high upside prospect coming into the league, but took his time developing over these past few years. Even now, he's been at an elite level for such a short time, essentially the latter part of this season, that it's hard to ascertain whether he's at the point of realizing his potential. Detroit's Chris Osgood is somebody who this columnist previously proclaimed a hugely underrated and underappreciated backstopper and he has vindicated that proclamation, even if it's been aided by some of the greatest help a goalie could ever receive from his blue line. The guess here is that anyone waiting for either of these goalies to wilt in this series will be disappointed -- and Dom Hasek is about as likely to suit up in this series as Gordie Howe is.
The Wings have a huge edge on the blue line, with "Norris" Nick Lidstrom anchoring what is arguably the greatest defense core of the Hockeytown era -- and that covers tremendous ground. For the Pens, Sergei Gonchar has proven this year that he is much more than a forward stationed on the blue line and the commitment to defense has been impressive for Pittsburgh in this postseason. But realistically, this position presents the biggest gap in talent between the teams.
As great as Detroit is offensively, this squad doesn't even begin to approach the firepower of the legendary '02 team (the apex of the team's pre-cap success) and is not on a par with Pittsburgh's "O." The Crosby-Malkin-Hossa power play combo rates right up there with any in the history of the league and it's up to the Wings to stay out of the "sin bin" because even their amazing penalty kill unit would be stretched to the limits by the Penguins' capabilities.
One of the key questions in this series is whether the Wings will have the services of newly-minted dominator Johan Franzen, who against all odds emerged as an unstoppable goal-scorer down the stretch and in the playoffs. "The Mule" continues to be plagued by post-concussion symptoms but is hopeful of playing later in the series. The team will not risk his health under any circumstances. The guess here is that he'll be in for the latter part of the series and if so, he'll make a tremendous difference. Detroit is already thinner than Pittsburgh offensively and they struggled a bit offensively at times in the Western Conference Finals. As strange as it would have sounded mere months ago, Franzen is of huge importance to the Winged Wheel inasmuch as G.M. Ken Holland rolled the dice and elected not to try to pick up another top-two line forward at the trade deadline.
Two interesting notes that won't get much media play: Cleveland sits almost right in between the two cities and is a sort of "demilitarized zone" for two decent-sized fanbases -- and in a league powered by expansion into brand-new arenas, these Finals feature two of the league's dinosaur facilities.
Now, the prediction: an anticipated return of Franzen late in the series will, with the help of the league's best blue line (sorry, Anaheim) that features among other things bone-rattler Nik Kronwall, help Detroit to win its fourth Stanley Cup since 1997. Red Wings in 6.
For the record, first-round predictions were 6-2, second-round prognostications were 1-3 and third-round picks were 2-0.
Friday, May 16, 2008
One of our good friends from SportsTalkNetwork.com, a gentleman who has become our horse racing analyst at The FDH Lounge, Bob Glassman, has put together something very special that we want to bring to your attention. His Home Team Communications company has created an impressive new invention called Commtrol.
This brand new product, which launches in late May, allows businesses to manage their voice and data communications needs in a manner that is completely unprecedented. Additionally, Bob's wonderful track record of advocacy for his business clients is a wonderful piece of the Commtrol package and allows product users access to the benefits of his dogged aggressiveness on their behalf.
I urge any of you with businesses that deal with data and voice communications issues to check out The Commtrol Blog, the online hub for information dealing with this great new invention and the upcoming late May release. Never have I been so proud to be a friend of Bob's and to be professionally associated with him. As this culmination of his life's work hits the market and changes the landscape of the business world, those of us at FDH can say we knew him when!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
By Rick Morris
On tonight’s edition of the FDH Wednesday night lineup on SportsTalkNetwork.com, we take our usual jaunt all across the sports landscape and break it down for you thoroughly.
On THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER (7-9 PM EDT), we discuss matters of philosophy in terms of managing your roto baseball team at this point of the year. Many leagues are at the quarter-mark, or perhaps even third-mark if you will of the regular season. How do you assess what moves to make going forward based on what’s happened to you so far? We’ll spend the first hour going into detail helping you manage your situation.
In Hour Two, the grades for NFL teams from the 2008 draft that we referenced last week will be broken down in detail. How did your team do, why did we assess it that way and what does it mean going forward? The answers come your way tonight.
Next, on THE GOON SQUAD (9-10 PM EDT), a very anti-climactic pair of Stanley Cup Conference Finals gets dissected. How did each series get to a 3-0 point and what does it mean going forward for the losers? Plus, we bring you your first Stanley Cup Finals preview anywhere and unveil a huge announcement for the next GOON SQUAD live program.
Join us for all the fun tonight as always on The Sports Talk Network.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
By Rick Morris
When FDH Enterprises, LLC Managing Partner Rick Morris celebrates his birthday on the 28th edition of THE FDH LOUNGE (Sunday night, on SportsTalkNetwork.com), the birthday party will light up the entire Lounge!
In Hour One, Rick and the Dignitaries dissect the apparent final stages of the Democratic primary process in the wake of Obama’s very successful Tuesday. But Hillary’s not getting the message that this race is over. Many frustrated Democrats are starting to see her, in the immortal words of
In Hour Two, we consult with one of our Lounge Dignitaries, FDH horse racing analyst Bob Glassman for a look at the triumph and tragedy of this past Kentucky Derby and a glance ahead to whether Big Brown could become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years. Then, we examine the topic of a forthcoming column here on the blog by Rick, namely the “Lebron Derangement Syndrome.” Because of the otherworldly hype that has surrounded him since his junior year of high school seven seasons ago, he is viewed in a way, positively and negatively, that is more detached from reality than perhaps any athlete ever. We’ll discuss this in some detail.
Then, later in Hour Two and into the final hour, we segue into a birthday roast of sorts for Rick as the voting commences for “The Worst of the Worst of Rick’s Ipod.” We have drawn up four brackets and we’ll vote on the songs deemed the absolutely least redeeming out of the more than one thousand on Rick’s device.
If you must know the songs in each category, and we suspect that you must, here are the brackets of doom:
Captain & Tenille: LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER
Donna Summer: SHE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY
Carpenters: TOP OF THE WORLD/WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN
Kelly Clarkson: SINCE U BEEN GONE
70’s SLUDGE BRACKET
Gordon Lightfoot: CAREFREE HIGHWAY
Statler Brothers: FLOWERS ON THE WALL
ABBA: (extensive catalog)
Neil Diamond: HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER/FOREVER IN BLUE JEANS
CHEESE METAL BRACKET
Nelson: LOVE AND AFFECTION/I CAN HARDLY WAIT/AFTER THE RAIN
Firehouse: DON’T TREAT ME BAD/ALL SHE WROTE
Coverdale/Page: SHAKE MY TREE/PRIDE AND JOY
Warrant: DOWN BOYS
80’s CRAP BRACKET
Wham: WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO
Jermaine Stewart: WE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OUR CLOTHES OFF
Duran Duran: RIO/HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF
Billy Ocean: LOVERBOY
Wherever you are in the world, join us for all the fun Sunday night with The FDH Lounge only on STN!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Sports gamblers don't care about the ultimate outcome of games; they only care about who covered. Likewise, for politicians and the entire political chattering class, pointspreads are also the end-all, be-all. Except they're known in that realm as "expectations."
History will record that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each went 1-1 on Tuesday night, with Obama pocketing North Carolina and Hil-Rod (ultimately, after a long wait) clinching Indiana. Frankly, the straightforward historical record is also meaningless, because the key difference in the outcomes came in the expectations: Obama "beat the spread" in North Carolina and also managed to "cover" in Indiana, coming tantalizingly close to an outright win that would have ended the process already via superdelegate stampede on Wednesday. On a completely different topic, anyone wondering why the Democratic machine in Gary, Indiana held back results until the wee hours of the morning would do well to read the epic book "Will" by G. Gordon Liddy for an explanation of how Lake County REALLY operates.
But back to the topic at hand: Obama, already the frontrunner, was able to consolidate his delegate lead by whipping Hillary all over Tobacco Road and by holding her to a near-tie among Hoosiers. The shock of Obama's turnaround Tuesday (especially in light of a tough few weeks in terms of primary results and headlines about his personal associations) was such that it triggered the primary season version of the election night "call" by networks. Tim Russert of NBC News set off a mass media stampede by proclaiming the race over and Barack Obama the winner. The conventional wisdom of the moment is that Obama's coronation in Denver at the convention is a done deal because of the way the numbers have materialized.
While media organizations, campaigns, and participants at every level of the process all have metrics that point in that direction, it's likely that none of them have anything quite as solid as what we're about to unveil here.
I've recently become acquainted with an excellent writer named Jacob Rosen, who writes about many different topics just like those of us here at The FDH Lounge. He's a busy, busy man and a man of many talents so I don't know when it will be feasible on his end, but it seems likely that we'll be able to feature him in some form through the FDH media family in the days ahead. When you read what we've got here, you'll understand why that thought causes us such enthusiasm.
Jacob sent us an email that he gave us permission to quote liberally here and we will. This is excerpted from his excellent email newsletter. He performed a statistical analysis on the Democratic race for president -- and found it quite uphill to say the least for Hillary at the moment. In short, he devised a metric he called the "glorious, magical number" that calculated her overall chances in the race.
"This number represents the break-even percentage point in which a) Hillary Clinton must win a difference over Obama for the overall super delegates, and b) the difference she must win in the remaining primaries.
Before the Pennsylvania primaries on April 22nd, the glorious, magical number stood at about 12.24% -- meaning that if Clinton were to win the remaining primaries by this number, and eventually increase her lead over Obama in terms of super delegates to this number, the overall delegate race would be tied in the end. Since Clinton did not win by 12.24%, but came awfully close to a 10% victory over the 158 pledged delegates, the glorious, magical number increased to 12.90% (which includes Guam results.)
In North Carolina and Indiana, Obama netted a total of 12 delegates (97 to 85) according to the most recent numbers available on RealClearPolitics.com. With these numbers, the glorious, magical number has increased to an astounding 16.40%. The number is now so large because North Carolina and Indiana represented just under half of the remaining pledged delegates remaining after Guam and Pennsylvania. This number may even seem quite irrelevant, because Clinton's super delegate lead is now only at 2.07% (down from 9.54% pre-OH/TX, 4.90% pre-PA and 2.65% pre-NC/IND.). So in order to catch her break-even point of pledged and super delegates, Clinton would have to exponentially increase her lead of super delegate supporters.
According to numbers on www.demconwatch.blogspot.com, the unofficial delegate totals from Michigan (with Obama as the uncommitted) and Florida for Obama and Clinton are 122 to 178. Including this into the total of overall pledged delegates, and the glorious, magical number at this point in time becomes 10.87%. Thus, if Clinton is to have any logical chance at winning this thing, or even making a point to seat these delegates in the first place, she must increase her overall super delegate lead to 10%. That should be the initial goal for the Clinton campaign, as the number of undecided super delegates out-weighs the number of remaining pledged delegates (264 to 217).
I have not seen very good polls just yet from upcoming primaries spots of West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon. Once I do, however, I will be able to predict what the glorious, magical number will become like I did pre-NC/IND. According to poll averages RealClearPolitics.com from NC and IND (which I then formulated around 100% total), I had predicted the glorious, magical number to increase to 15.90%. The change of 0.5% is noted because of the impressive performance by Obama against the pre-primary polls (the first time since before OH/TX)."
Again, that's excellent work by Jacob right there in terms of breaking down the race with cold, hard numbers. Is there anybody out there not named Bill, Hillary or Chelsea who still thinks a win is possible? Actually, Chelsea seems pretty sharp to me; I wouldn't even necessarily count her with the believers at this point!
This race is done even if the Clintons don't realize it yet. As the Democratic party and their element in the left-wing blogosphere gets ever more angry about Obama still having to work for the nomination while John McCain gets a free ride, look for the recriminations directed at the Clintons to skyrocket. One wonders what Keith Olbermann's next misogynistic call for somebody to deal forcibly with Hillary will entail and whether this time he'll be getting waterboarded by the Secret Service. Then again, since the Secret Service doesn't look kindly on objects of their protection throwing lamps at people, they probably won't lift a finger and Olbermann, Kos and everyone else on that side will be able to keep spewing their impotent, murderous rage at Hillary.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Pittsburgh over Philadelphia in 6
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Detroit over Dallas in 6
STANLEY CUP FINALS
Detroit over Pittsburgh in 6
After starting out 6-2 in the first round of the playoffs, I slumped to 1-3 in the second round. The common denominator in both rounds was that I was wrong about Dallas and Philly both times. Both teams have red-hot goalies who could make a tremendous difference in a series, and frankly, I think they're the best two goalies remaining at this time (notwithstanding Chris Osgood's excellent season and 6-0 record since taking over in the first round of the playoffs). I discussed these series as length with SportsTalkNetwork.com hockey analyst Kyle O'Rourke on our program THE GOON SQUAD last night and we split on the West finals. I had been leaning towards Dallas because of their incredible run against the powerful Anaheim and San Jose squads thus far in the postseason. They look like a team of destiny. And yet, I find myself leaning towards the Winged Wheel because teams with an easier track to the Finals have tended to advance there more consistently over time -- and their high-end players (i.e. Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk) are better than Dallas' top guns with the exception of Marty Turco. It's hard for me as an admitted diehard Wings fan to reverse my initial gut feeling that Dallas would move on without facing accusations of homerism -- but I'm not going to reverse my final position on this merely out of fear of what others might say. Take the East, for example, which features the Penguins, and I as a native Clevelander have been born and bred to loathe all things Pittsburgh. But I think the Pens' dominant offense and underrated defense will combine to overwhelm the Flyers in the end. I pick this series to go six just because I don't want to risk completely underestimating Philly, but I don't think they can hang in the end. That would set up the Wings and Penguins in the Finals. Can my heart handle it? It's going to have to!
For more thoughts, check out the analysis of our pal Russ Cohen at Hockeyology.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Now that the new FDH Wednesday night lineup has settled in on the new and improved SportsTalkNetwork.com, midweek sports talk will never be the same.
This week's festivities begin with THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER (7-9 PM EDT) and we will begin by taking a look back at the Kentucky Derby and our Triple Crown fantasy draft from last week's program. Towards the end of our first half hour, we begin to break down the Buy Low/Sell High candidates in fantasy baseball now that the season is well into its second month.
Towards the beginning of Hour Two, we move on to more of our NFL Draft recap coverage. Part I occurred on last week's program and tonight, we deliver detailed letter grades for each NFL team.
The FDH bloc ends with THE GOON SQUAD (9-10 PM EDT) as we look back at the NHL conference semifinals and then examine the Detroit-Dallas and Pittsburgh-Philadelphia conference final showdowns. Additionally, ESPN's importation of Don Cherry for the remainder of the playoffs hit the wires this week and we'll talk about what a treat for American fans that will be.
Tune in for all of the fun Wednesday night only on STN.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
On last week's FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER program (Wednesdays, 7-9 PM EDT on SportsTalkNetwork.com), we examined the 2008 NFL Draft winners and losers as determined by our Senior Editor Jason Jones. Here's his lists again (and here's the draft listings for Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, Round 5, Round 6 and Round 7):
Using the alphabet/grade approach, I'm going to offer my own list. I will speak on these during the FDH INSIDER tomorrow night.
A-: Kansas City, New York Giants
B+: Buffalo, Green Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta, Arizona
B: Miami, New York Jets, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Dallas, Washington, Carolina
B-: New England, Indianapolis, Denver, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, St. Louis
C+: Minnesota, Detroit
C: Cleveland, Houston, San Diego, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco
Additionally, as promised on last week's INSIDER, I have the breakdown of how teams scored based purely on collecting players in Jason's Top 200 Overall from our FREE draft guide (you can still download it). The scoring works like this: 200 points awarded to the team taking the #1 player on Jason's list (Chris Long), 199 points for the #2 player and so on, all the way down to a single point for #200 on the list. Note that Kansas City scored particularly high because they accrued many picks and were able to use quite a few of them on players who were high on Jason's board.
1. Kansas City: 911
2. Arizona: 843
3. Chicago: 746 (those of you listening to the show last week heard Jason's shock when I read him this ranking -- I saved that information to tell him for the first time when we were on the air!)
4. Tampa Bay: 729
5. Philadelphia: 714
6. Baltimore: 694
7. New York Giants: 693
8. Indianapolis: 667
9. Seattle: 654
10. New Orleans: 651
11. Carolina: 647
12. St. Louis: 631
13. Green Bay: 607
14. Detroit: 595
15T. Denver: 592
15T. Atlanta: 592
17. Washington: 584
18. San Francisco: 550
19. New York Jets: 542
20. Pittsburgh: 514
21. Cincinnati: 492
22. Buffalo: 452
23. Dallas: 433
24. Jacksonville: 425
25. Houston: 404
26. Miami: 392
27. New England: 375
28. San Diego: 329
29. Tennessee: 253
30. Cleveland: 229
31. Oakland: 193
32. Minnesota: 89
As an FYI, here's Jason's Top 200 Overall from our draft guide, with the draft destination of each player. Those who were not drafted are marked with "XXXXX" (including those who subsequently signed with another team in free agency.
1 Chris Long DE Virginia ST LOUIS 200
2 Matt Ryan QB Boston College
3 Sedrick Ellis DT USC NEW
4 Rashard Mendenhall RB
5 Jake Long OT
7 Leodis McKelvin CB Troy BUFFALO 194
8 Darren McFadden RB
9 Glenn Dorsey DT LSU
10 Kenny Phillips FS Miami (FL)
13 Ryan Clady OT
14 Jonathan Stewart RB
16 Keith Rivers OLB USC
17 Jeff Otah OT Pittsburgh
18 Derrick Harvey DE Florida JACKSONVILLE 183
19 Mike Jenkins CB S. Florida DALLAS 182
20 Branden Albert OG
21 Quentin Groves DE Auburn
22 Felix Jones RB
23 Reggie Smith CB Oklahoma SAN FRANCISCO 178
24 Brian Brohm QB
26 DeSean Jackson WR California
27 Chris Williams OT Vanderbilt
28 Kentwan Balmer DT
29 Jerod Mayo ILB
31 Malcolm Kelly WR Oklahoma
32 Dustin Keller TE Purdue
34 Aqib Talib CB Kansas
36 Jamaal Charles RB
37 Chilo Rachal OG USC
38 Curtis Lofton ILB
39 Erin Henderson ILB
40 Cliff Avril OLB Purdue
41 Carl Nicks OT Nebraska NEW
42 Gosder Cherilus OT Boston College
43 Limas Sweed WR Texas
44 Trevor Laws DT Notre Dame
45 Antione Cason CB Arizona
46 Pat Sims DT
47 Fred Davis TE USC
48 Joe Flacco QB Delaware BALTIMORE 153
49 Ray Rice RB
50 Sam Baker OT USC
51 Jacob Hester FB/RB LSU
52 Mario Manningham WR
53 Jordy Nelson WR
54 Anthony Collins OT Kansas
55 Barry Richardson OG Clemson
56 Xavier Adibi OLB
57 Philip Wheeler ILB
59 Marcus Howard ILB
60 Kevin Smith RB
61 John Carlson TE Notre Dame SEATTLE 140
62 Owen Schmidt FB W. Virginia SEATTLE 139
63 Tavares Gooden ILB
64 James Hardy WR Indiana BUFFALO 137
66 Peyton Hillis FB Arkansas
68 Matt Forte RB Tulane CHICAGO 133
70 Early Doucet WR LSU
71 Phillip Merling DE Clemson
72 Jonathan Goff ILB Vanderbilt
73 Shawn Crable OLB
74 Drew Radovich OG USC XXXXX
77 Dwight Lowery CB San Jose St NEW YORK JETS 124
78 Tom Zbikowski SS Notre Dame BALTIMORE 123
79 Dre Moore DT Maryland
80 Chris Ellis DE Virginia Tech BUFFALO 121
81 Mike McGlynn OG
82 Vince Hall ILB
83 Kenny Iwebema DE Iowa ARIZONA 118
85 Tracy Porter CB Indiana NEW
86 Wesley Woodyard OLB
87 Bruce Davis OLB UCLA
88 Robert Felton OG
89 Jermichael Finley TE
90 Eric Young OG
91 Quintin Demps FS UTEP
92 Terrell Thomas CB USC
93 Ali Highsmith OLB LSU XXXXX
94 ***Heath Benedict (deceased) OG Newberry XXXXX
95 Spencer Larson ILB
96 Charles Godfrey CB Iowa
97 Matt Flynn QB LSU GREEN BAY 104
99 Red Bryant DT
100 Andre Woodson QB Kentucky
103 Craig Steltz SS LSU CHICAGO 98
104 Dominique Barber SS Minnesota HOUSTON 97
106 Eddie Royal WR Virginia Tech DENVER 95
107 Chris Johnson RB
108 Brad Cottam TE
112 Frank Okam DT Texas HOUSTON 89
113 Jeremy Zuttah C
114 Caleb Campbell SS Army
115 Mike Hart RB
117 Jacob Tamme TE
118 Justin Forsett RB
119 Lavelle Hawkins WR
121 Ben Moffitt ILB S. Florida XXXXX
123 Allen Patrick RB
125 John David Booty QB USC
127 Andre Caldwell WR
128 Steve Slaton RB W. Virginia HOUSTON 73
129 Martellus Bennett TE
133 Kory Lichtensteiger C Bowling Green
135 Patrick Lee CB Auburn GREEN BAY 66
136 David Roach SS TCU XXXXX
137 Wallace Gilberry DE Alabama XXXXX
138 Josh Johnson QB San Diego
139 Jerome Felton RB Furman
140 Marcus Monk WR Arkansas CHICAGO 61
142 Cory Byrd RB
143 Jonathan Zenon CB LSU XXXXX
144 Shannon Tevaga OG UCLA XXXXX
145 Paul Hubbard WR
146 William Franklin WR Missouri
147 Erik Ainge QB Tennessee
148 Earl Bennett WR Vanderbilt
149 Jack Ikegwuonu CB Wisconsin
150 Chris Harrington DE Texas A&M ARIZONA 51
151 Oniel Cousins OT UTEP BALTIMORE 50
152 Jameel McClain ILB
153 Martin Rucker TE
155 Chase Ortiz DE TCU XXXXX
156 Dennis Dixon QB/WR
157 Johnny Dingle DT W. Virginia XXXXX
158 Matt Spanos C USC XXXXX
159 Tommy Blake DE TCU XXXXX
160 Joe Jon Finley TE
161 BenJarvis Green-Ellis RB Ole Miss XXXXX
162 Ryan O'Hara QB Central
163 Jamie Silva SS Boston College XXXXX
164 Colt Brennan QB Hawaii
165 Glenn Sharpe CB
167 Jonathan Hefney FS Tennessee XXXXX
170 Mario Urritia WR Louisville
171 Adam Kraus OG
172 Trae Williams CB S. Florida
173 Greyson Gunheim DE Washington XXXXX
174 Sam Keller QB
176 DaJuan Morgan
177 D.J. Wolfe CB Oklahoma XXXXX
178 DeJuan Tribble CB Boston College
179 Kyle Wright QB Miami (FL) XXXXX
180 Rafael Little RB
181 Doug Legursky OG
182 Kalvin McRae RB
183 Tyler Polumbus OT Colorado XXXXX
185 Pedro Sosa OT Rutgers XXXXX
186 Darius Reynaud WR W. Virginia XXXXX
187 Bryan Kehl ILB BYU
188 John Sullivan C Notre Dame
189 Franklin Dunbar OT Mid Tennessee St XXXXX
191 Tom Santi TE
192 Thomas DeCoud SS California
193 Michael Grant S Arkansas XXXXX
194 Gary Guyton ILB
195 Andre Callender RB
196 Kolo Kapanui TE
198 D.J. Hall WR Alabama XXXXX
199 Taylor Mehlhaff K Wisconsin NEW
200 Zach Bowman CB Nebraska CHICAGO 1
The Real Clear Politics averages put Obama up 8 points in North Carolina and Clinton up 5 points in Indiana. With polls on the verge of closing shortly, here are my predictions.
Reports out of North Carolina today indicate that Obama will "beat the spread," perhaps decisively, as turnout among his key constituencies carries him to a big win. I see him covering, but not by much, mostly because he has not performed up to the levels of his late polling during much of the primary/caucus season. Call it Obama by 10.
In Indiana, I think the favorite also covers, as I believe Clinton will win by 8 points. I think that the state shapes up nicely for her in terms of the demographics she's carried in the past. Any hopes whatsoever for Obama to win are going to hinge on huge outpourings in Gary and Indianapolis -- which do account for a significant percentage of the state's Democratic voters. Frankly, with Gary being just a short commute for members of Obama's hometown machine, he's done a masterful job in terms of managing expectations in the state, as he should have been perceived as having a strong chance to win.
A split decision along the lines of what I forecast tonight changes nothing. There will be no stampede of superdelegates to Obama absent an upset win in Indiana, although they'll keep moving in his direction overall unless he inexplicably coughs up North Carolina.
Monday, May 5, 2008
By Rick Morris
So watching the pathetic jerks who cheer for, play and cover the Washington Wizards deal with the consequences of their shameful failure is particularly delicious.
Actually, henceforth in this column they shall be called what they really are, the Washington Generals. Three consecutive losses to the man who owns them, Lebron James, have exposed this sad spectacle for what it really is. Actually, as someone who cheered for Kevin Grevey, Elvin Hayes and the Bullets during their '77-78 title run as a small child, these poseurs are a disgrace to anyone who's ever worn the team uniform -- whether in Baltimore or D.C.
Having flamed out twice against the Cavs in the postseason already, the Generals decided to take the lead of their all-talk "Agent Zero" and attempt to trash-talk and thug their way to the second round of the playoffs. DeShawn Stevenson decided to stop being a menace to underage girls long enough to spout off about a man whose smelly used jock he is not fit to carry, namely Lebron James. Darius Songaila decided to gravy-train 15 minutes of fame at the expense of his superior when he cheap-shotted LBJ. And Brenda Haywood continued to snivel about, and play dirty against, the Cavs, no doubt still bitter about the fact that Cleveland didn't want him and he's stuck being a parasite off the efforts of far lesser players than Lebron.
Then there's the media ... wow ...
If ever there was a perfect match between a team's players, fanbase and media contingent, D.C. has it. They're all equally juvenile, all-talk, unoriginal and ultimately, when the final results come in ... completely and utterly hollow.
The overall bush-league tone of these weasels is even enough to cause something completely unprecedented: namely, for me to say anything less-than-complimentary about MVN, the world's first -- and greatest -- sports blog conglomerate. But this sophomoric drivel?
"In the end, I think this series could have gone either way. I’m not saying the Wizards would have won it, but the NBA’s disgusting display of overreaction and inconsistent officiating made this series a glaring example of the NBA’s incompetence. Their bias toward their stars has been talked about for decades and it’s no different now. Just watch this series and tell me different. Lebron James is a great, great player. I think he’s the second best player in the league behind
But the most vast stupidity of all in this complete waste of protoplasm known as the Wiz family is evidenced by an alleged sportswriter. Now, having toiled as a sportswriter on and off in my life, I know the suspicion that many athletes have in terms of scribes being nothing more than frustrated failed athletes who joined the profession as a means of jock-sniffing and living vicariously through their heroes. I can honestly say that I've never seen an example, in person or otherwise, of anyone who fits this particular bill.
Tom Knott of the Washington Times is quite simply, the biggest syncofant, the biggest know-nothing homer this side of Hawk Harrelson and the biggest worthless sack the journalism profession has ever emitted. He mindlessly parroted the trash talk of his heroes during the series, and then decided that with enough alibis and conspiracy theories, you never have to admit you were wrong:
"Congratulations to the NBA.
With LeBron James receiving hugs and kisses from the NBA earlier in the day, if not a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates stamped with the Jerry West logo, the Cavaliers played with poise and confidence in defeating the Wizards 105-88 in Game 6.
The game started to get away from the Wizards in the second quarter, when the Cavaliers closed on a 21-7 scoring run to take a 56-48 lead at halftime. Their advantage swelled to 79-64 after 36 minutes.
Yeah, because David Stern in his infinite wisdom deduced that removing some obscure Never Was/Never Will Be and his piddly point/rebound totals from the Generals' lineup would be the key to Lebron advancing in the playoffs. Nice take, brain surgeon.
And the beauty of it is that all these whiners and criers and conspiracy mongers call Lebron and Cavs babies! THAT is outstanding.
Papa John's was part and parcel of the D.C. crowd peddling lies about Lebron and now to appease angry Cavs fans, they are offering 23-cent pizzas this Thursday in the Cleveland area. Inasmuch as that's about 22 cents worth of ingredients more than they put into their horrible, all-burnt-Boboli crust-and-raw-chunky-sauce hot circles of garbage, I'll pass, thank you very much.
So Washington Generals players, fans and media, you know the routine by now because this is the third consecutive summer you've lived it. Pop a "foty," turn on the TV, kick back and watch your masters, the Cleveland Cavaliers, play deeper into the playoffs than you. And while you're at it, try not to feel too bitter.
Don't hate. Appreciate.