Monday, June 30, 2008

Time to start paying attention to obscure sports

Well, folks, the time has come: The summer Olympics are just over a month away, and this weekend the Olympic Trials took center stage in a variety of sports.

Suddenly Michael Phelps and Tyson Gay are all over the front page of It's kind of amazing how much we can suddenly find ourselves caring about things we'd normally forget even existed, just because it's Olympics time.

Like the pole vault. When do we ever watch pole-vault or diving or fencing? We don't even have a freakin' clue who any of these athletes are. But for some reason, you cue the Olympics music and all of a sudden we're sucked in and it's like we've been dedicated Modern Pentathlon fans our whole lives. (Then again, who isn't already?)

Why is that? It's not this. We're not so dumb that we watch any televised sporting event.

It's something about the Olympics. Probably because they're so rare. Rarity really makes things so much better. Like strip clubs. Once a year: awesome. Every week: depressing. Think about how much you love baseball or football. Now imagine if the only time it was widely broadcast was once every four years. You'd go fucking Looney Toons for that shit. It's the same reason a good shit gets one unsaid person so excited: It only happens once every four years.

So enjoy your month or two of Olympics mania. (8/8/08! A+ for marketing!) By September you'll have completely forgotten what Quadruple Sculls is.

Comment starter: What's your favorite obscure summer Olympics sport? And don't even think about taking Quadruple Sculls. That's our, people!

This is where using a first name would've been beneficial

That copy editor probably just got a raise.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blogger Interviews: BallHype creator Jason Gurney

We're running a segment here at The Big Picture where we'll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What's the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger's version of a reach-around or something.

Haven't had an interview for a while, but we're joined by a spectacular guest today: Jason Gurney, the creator of Ballhype. Ballhype is a go-to-spot for all bloggers, blog readers and anybody who is literate. Blog rankings, top stories and picks leaderboards make this user-news-generated site a first stop in the morning. So welcome Jason and go hype our shit up. If you don't...

1. The rundown:

Name: Jason Gurney
Age: 37 (oldest interviewee yet!)
Location: Bay Area
Occupation: BallHype and ShowHype
Favorite team: GS Warriors
Time per day spent working on the site and perusing the blogosphere:

A lot. On weekdays it's usually 12-14 hours, somewhat less on weekends. Throw in family duties and the occasional game on TV, and it's a good thing I don't need too much sleep.

2. BallHype has been very successful in its first 14 months. Were there initial concerns that the site wouldn't take off? That bloggers wouldn't find it as useful as they do?

Absolutely. Although we had a lot of pre-launch testing and feedback from a great group of bloggers, so we felt fairly confident that bloggers would find value in it. The question was, would they find it at all? And even if we were able to get them to participate, would we be able to reach out to the much larger population of non-blogging sports fans and make the site relevant and interesting to them?

3. Take us through a typical day, if such a thing exists.

I try to get up early enough to check on things before family duties kick in. Then I generally spend most of the day working on small things -- site content, responding to users, implementing minor features, tweaks, or bug fixes. In the evenings I'm usually able to work on larger projects. Most BallHype users might be surprised by this, but I usually deploy multiple code updates each day. The majority of the changes are invisible, because a lot of the functionality takes place behind the scenes.

4. Talk about starting a, well, startup. Concerns? Fears? Big loan?

Taking the plunge was a really tough decision to make, because there were plenty of concerns: Erin and I gave up a couple of great jobs. We knew that it would be months before revenues would cover even our monthly diaper bill. We had never tried to start a company before. New competitors were popping up every week. But on the other hand, we thought it was a great opportunity to try something that we loved, and we figured we could always return to the job market it we failed miserably -- the economy was looking rosier at the time.

5. Talk about BallHype's biggest competitors and what you guys are doing to stand out and beat out your competition?

We've actually met founders from a few of the other sports social media sites here in the Bay Area -- they're all good guys. I think they feel the same way that we do, that the competition isn't so much between newer sites since the overall sports market is so huge. So in that sense, our biggest competitors are major destinations like or Yahoo! Sports. If we can capture a fraction of the traffic they bring in and direct it to a more diverse set of sources, we feel good about what we're doing.

6. Dream job? Go.

It seems like everyone you ask (MJD providing one hilarious exception) gives some variation of working on their current site, sometimes with more pay. I hate to be a lemming about it, but I'm in that camp as well. Combining sports with technology is like peanut butter and chocolate for me, and I honestly can't think of anything I'd rather be doing for a career.

7. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you'd recommend?

I always find the answers to this question kind of amusing because the biggest blogs invariably get mentioned the most. I ran a quick analysis on your prior interviews, and here are the most frequently-recommended blogs:

1. Deadspin (18 - that's 75%)
2. With Leather (9)
3. The Big Lead (7)
4. KSK (6)
5. True Hoop/TBJ/WIZZNUTZZ (5)

No real surprises here except for maybe the WIZZNUTZZ (which I also love). So, I'll throw out a few that haven't been mentioned in your prior interviews: The Painted Area (reminds me how little I actually know about basketball), Joe Posnanski's blog (if you have a lot of time to kill), Shysterball, Ball Don't Lie and the rest of the new Mottram! empire, The Arbitrarian, James Mirtle's blog, and the BBTF Newsblog (terrific discussions).

8. Most rewarding part of the site? Most frustrating?

Most rewarding has certainly been the growth over the past 14+ months. We're very grateful to sites like TBP that helped to get the word out in the early days, because our marketing and advertising budgets have been nonexistent.

Most frustrating? Home furnishing spammers. Seriously, we're getting a story or two posted every day advertising divans, duvets, roller blinds, bedsteads, etc. I really don't get it.

9. What was the motivation to start the site? Were you that much of a sports blog reader that you felt compelled to compile them under one roof?

Sure, I've been reading a lot of blogs over the past few years (although not nearly as many as the Henry Abbotts of the world). One thing I really like about sports blogging is the general sense of camaraderie that seems to dominate. There are feuds and disagreements, of course, but it's a lot more common to see bloggers recognizing others who have created something cool. As a result, sports bloggers seem friendlier than people who blog about politics, technology, or even celebrity gossip. This was one of the reasons why we thought the BallHype application would be a natural fit for sports.

10. The one flaw of "user-generated news" seems to be -- and correct us if we're wrong -- that a great post that is super funny, provocative and has some PG-13 nudity could not get many links for whatever reasons and then BallHype users wouldn't know it existed. Is that a concern? Do you feel that popularity based on incoming links is always the best way to get the best material out to the masses?

Not necessarily, which is why we combine voting on the site with the inbound link tracking. We're now up to more than a thousand new stories added per day, so it's becoming a little more challenging to get noticed, but I think high quality pieces, regardless of MPAA rating, are generally well received and hopefully discovered by other bloggers who use the site for researching stories.

One flaw we do wrestle with from time to time is near-duplicate stories. Because we don't exercise editorial control over the story ranking, sometimes the votes and links lead to multiple takes on the same story ranking high on our home page. In some cases, this is appropriate--after the Super Bowl, you expect to see a bunch of different angles covered. But in other cases, we have a pair of stories that are so similar they don't both belong. We aren't yet sure how to reconcile that with our current ranking model.

11. With social networks and other Internet-y sites always changing and improving, is there pressure with BallHype to keep developing new stuff? Ever run out of ideas for these new things? Don't you ever say, "Damn, this site is awesome. I'm gonna create an ass-groove in the couch today and watch re-runs of M*A*S*H"?

Sometimes I wish we would run out of ideas -- forget M*A*S*H, I'd be happy if I had the time to watch more live sporting events. Yeah, the pressure is there to keep developing, but it's more a problem of too many ideas, too little development time, than a need to keep up with the Internet Joneses.

12. You're having dinner with four people -- two athletes, one hot celebrity and a dead president. Name 'em. And, of course, why?

Athlete #1: Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo. There aren't many 7-foot humanitarians who can speak nine languages in the voice of Cookie Monster.

Athlete #2: Occidental College hoopster Barack Obama. I'll ask him how many public schools will be turned into Madrasahs when he's elected president.

Celebrity: Angelina Jolie. Easy on the eyes, good with knives, and has some skeletons in the closet.

Dead: John Quincy Adams. Any ex-president who skinny dipped in the Potomac and kept an alligator in the white house is welcome at my table.

(Past interviews; also found on right sidebar: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram; The Big Lead; The Cavalier; Will Leitch; Dan Shanoff; Dan Steinberg; Brooks; Unsilent Majority; J.E. Skeets; Henry Abbott; The Dugout; NFL Adam; Bethlehem Shoals; Orson Swindle; Big Daddy Drew; Brian Cook; Awful Announcing; JoeSportsFan; Matt Mosley; Chris Mottram; Dave Lozo; Christmas Ape).

Is Fresno State's win the biggest Cinderella Story in college history?

It's the equivalent of a No. 13 seed winning March Madness. Fresno State's RPI, if translated, would be in the high 80s, giving it a mid-seed in the NIT. And now the Bulldogs are national champions.

Of course college baseball doesn't get the same attention as college football or basketball. Just the nature of the game.

But this is like George Mason actually winning it all. GMU making the Final Four was unprecedented and made you shit yourself for the full week before the semifinal games. But this is like them actually winning the thing.

Baseball, of all the major sports, is probably the easiest for the top team to lose. You catch a good pitcher, streaky lineup or, simply, a hot-as-fuck team, on the wrong day and you could be in trouble; the best team rarely wins it all in baseball (see: 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, 2002 Anaheim Angels and 2003 Florida Marlins).

Still, unfucking believable. This is an upset for the ages. Throw out every cliché and it will be fitting for a championship of this magnitude.

Are there any bigger upsets in the college ranks? Pros? Miracle on Ice?

Raise your glass to the Fresno State Bulldogs. College World Series champions. Geez!

The blog world is duking it out

When two major blogs have a grade-school fight, over a quote in an LA Times article, and then everyone chimes in, it makes for good comedy.

See here, here, here, here, here, here.

Now laugh. And react.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Best: Names in sports

Welcome to "The Best," a new series from the people who brought you "Would You Do," "Blogger Interviews" and "What Really Grinds My Gears."

It's just what it sounds like: what's the best ______? "Best" is such a subjective word and that's really the point -- let's get you guys talking! If this works, there will be intelligent, thoughtful debate on the day's topic. And if it doesn't work, well, back to the drawing board.

Nothing distinguishes a person quite like a name does. It, in a way, defines who we are.

We're known as the guys who have really long, hard-to-pronounce last names. Here's how a typical conversation regarding our name goes:

Typical idiot: Why do you have a dash in your name?
Us: It's called a "hyphen."
Typical idiot: So you have two last names?
Us: No, just one, but it's hyphenated. It's Landres hyphen Schnur.
Typical idiot: How do you say that?
Us: You know what? Forget it. Just forget it.

See, names are fun! And there are a myriad of professional athletes, past and present, with great ones. Here's our take on the best name in sports:

5. Coco Crisp
4. Stubby Clapp
3. Speedy Claxton
2. Quint0n McCracken.
1. God Shammgod

Now you go.

The Mets might want to reconsider firing Willie Randolph

Jerry Manuel took over managerial duties for the Mets last week and things haven't exactly gotten off to a warm-and-fuzzy start.

After six games, Manuel is 3-3 and has dropped the last two to the woeful Mariners. In the first of those, the Mets surrendered a grand slam to the freaking pitcher, and yesterday they were bombed 11-0. R.A. Dickey started for the Mariners. The Mets couldn't score a run off of R.A. Dickey.

Manuel's managing hasn't impressed so far, but, from the sound of things, he'd be great in the garden.
Asked how the struggling [Aaron] Heilman was holding up under constant booing at Shea this year, Manuel said: "It's very, very fertile ground for growth in Shea Stadium. It's fertile ground for a team's growth and development. Sometimes, fertile ground has fertilizer."
Fuckin' poetry, man. Yes, fertile ground sometimes does have fertilizer. Like we said, GREAT in the garden.

And then there's this:
After Reyes threw a helmet-throwing tantrum last Tuesday night in Manuel's debut when Manuel pulled him in the first inning with a tight hamstring, Manuel jokingly threatened to knife Reyes if it happened again.

"I told him the next time he does that, I'm going to get my blade out and cut him right on the field," Manuel said. "I'm a gangster."

Gangster. Yep, couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fun with the law and Duke football

It's not easy being associated with Duke football. A 6-45 record over the last five seasons, always being overlooked by the basketball fans and, wow!, 6-45 is fucking atrocious.

But bad was good last week as Duke lawyers used the team's poor on-field performance to get out of a lawsuit against Louisville.
A Franklin, Ky., Circuit Court judge sided with a devilishly clever argument and ruled in favor of Duke University yesterday in a breach of contract lawsuit brought forth by the University of Louisville.

U of L sued Duke for $450,000 -- or a series with another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent -- after the Blue Devils backed out of a four-game football contract with three dates remaining.

The contract called for a penalty of $150,000 per game if a date with a “team of similar stature” could not be arranged.

Duke’s lawyers argued the Blue Devils, which have a record of 6-45 over the past five seasons, were so bad that any team would be a suitable replacement.
We're not sure if the lawsuit or the successful legal argument is funnier, but regardless, 6-45?! Heavens.

Yi Jianlian might be traded

Things I like: mustard seed, ambition, the color "egg shell," subtleties, salmon-colored dress shirts, trade talks, Woodford Reserve, Phish Food, Frank Sinatra.

Things I don't like: mayonnaise, persistence, Tom Clancy novels, sage, Gin and Tonics, R&B, Ikea, audacity, bar soap.

When we first talked about a year ago, I was not so happy to be a Milwaukee Buck. Things got better and I learned the American way, from domestic beer to bratwurst to cheese.

But now, as my name has surfaced in trade talks, I am happy to know I might be leaving Wisconsin. Though I may be traded to Minnesota for the rights to the No. 3 pick in Thursday's draft.

If I could be traded to any NBA city, Minnesota would probably be around 27th on the list. I love accents and those in Minnesota make me smile. I like to smile. But it's cold there and it doesn't have as large of an Asian population as I'd like.

But I do like the Timberwolves' colors. And tapioca pudding.

'Your best brand equity ultimately is in your name'

Quoting Dan Shanoff, our pal Lozo has taken that quote to heart and launched the cleverly titled, "Dave Lozo Dot Com."

It's like "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Blog" but with a new look, slightly less swearing and jumps. Fucking WordPress and their jumps.

But the same entertainment you used to know, now with a name brand.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sharapova dressing down for Wimbledon

Maria Sharapova, known for tennis and cleavage, has always been one who puts just about as much effort into her game as she does into picking out her outfit.

But she's in the news because she's announced she'll be wearing shorts when Wimbledon begins today. Yes, wearing shorts has become sports news. They'll probably be very short. Maybe they'll be daisy dukes. Probably not. But maybe.
“I’m going with the traditional shorts, believe it or not,” said Sharapova, the 2004 champion.

“I’ve never worn shorts at a Grand Slam. I’m gonna be debuting that. Call it menswear, obviously. It’s kind of like a tuxedo look, very simple lines, classic.”

Guess it won't be daisy dukes. But short. They'll still be short.

And if you look at the above picture long enough, you can see a sail boat.

Pacman Jones to now be called 'Zelda'

Adam Pacman Jones wants to drop the nickname "Pacman" because nothing says assault, strip club shooting and "make it rain" like a yellow video game character that eats dots.

But he's gotta distance himself from a troubled past
...where he was referred to as a yellow video game character that eats dots.
"There's really just a lot of negativity behind it," Jones said. "It's just time for a change, man. I'm doing everything to make sure that I'm all right as a person, mentally and emotionally."
Pacman eats dots. Fucking great game.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Best: MLB manager

Welcome to "The Best," a new series from the people who brought you "Would You Do," "Blogger Interviews" and "What Really Grinds My Gears."

It's just what it sounds like: what's the best ______? "Best" is such a subjective word and that's really the point -- let's get you guys talking! If this works, there will be intelligent, thoughtful debate on the day's topic. And if it doesn't work, well, back to the drawing board.

Funny thing about being a Major League manager: don't really do too much. Call some hit-and -runs, maybe choose to intentionally walk some one and make a double-switch in the eighth.

Aside from that, it sure seems that your average fan could coach a team. But, of course, there are the behind-the-scenes duties like managing your star player's ego, fulfilling requests by the front office and getting your team to gel.

The best current MLB manager? Here's how we'd rank 'em:

5. Joe Torre (Dodgers)
4. Lou Piniella (Cubs)
3. Ron Gardenhire (Twins)
2. Bobby Cox (Braves)
1. Jim Leyland (Tigers)

Your turn.

The real reason to vote for Obama

Now that Barack Obama has wrapped up the Democratic nomination, we're prepared to sit down and make the hard decision of who to vote for in the Presidential Election - Obama or John McCain. And since we're tired of deciding who to vote for based on looks, clothes, money and how hot their wives are, and the only thing we really know anything about is sports, we figured there's no better way to decide than by comparing the sports teams from their home states.

Obama hails from Illinois, home to the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks and Fire (soccer. The Fire is a soccer team. We had to look it up too). McCain is from Arizona, home to the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Suns and Coyotes. Let's compare to see which teams are better.


Chicago Bears. Established in 1919. Eight NFL championships and one Super Bowl title. Twenty-five primary Hall of Famers. Known for the Super Bowl Shuffle and "Daaa Bears" routines on SNL. 2007 record: 7-9, 4th place. Most recent playoff appearance: 2006, NFC Champions.

Arizona Cardinals. Established in 1898. Two NFL championships, zero Super Bowl titles. Twelve Hall of Famers. Known for having a shitty owner and ugly uniforms. Play games in a stadium that resembles a spaceship. Have only been in Arizona since 1988. 2007 record: 8-8, 2nd place. Most recent playoff appearance: 1998, lost in Divisional Round.

Edge: Illinois. The Bears have a lot more titles and recent success. This could swing in the next few years.


Chicago Cubs. Established in 1876. Two World Series Titles. Nine Hall of Famers. Known for curses, World Series droughts, Wrigleyville, Harry Caray and Bartman. Currently in 1st place. Most recent playoff appearance: 2007, lost in NLDS.
Chicago White Sox. Established 1900. Three World Series Titles. Five Hall of Famers. Known for the Black Sox Scandal, wearing shorts, ranting managers. Currently in 1st place. Most recent playoff appearance: 2005, won World Series.

Arizona Diamondbacks. Established in 1998. One World Series Title. Zero Hall of Famers. Known for changing colors, building through the farm system, trading away the mother-lode for Dan Haren. Currently in 1st place. Most recent playoff appearance: 2007, lost in NLCS.

Edge: Illinois. 2 is better than 1.


Chicago Bulls. Established in 1966. Six NBA titles. Four Hall of Famers. Known for Michael Jordan, Hanes underwear, three-peats, black shoes. 07-08 season: 33-49, 4th place. Most recent playoff appearance: 2006-2007, lost in Conference Semis.

Phoenix Suns. Established in 1968. Zero NBA titles. Two Hall of Famers. Known for Charles Barkley, the Gorilla, run-'n'-gun offense. 07-08 season: 55-27, 2nd place. Most recent playoff appearance: 2007-2008, lost in 1st round.

Edge: Push. Chicago has the history, but Phoenix is a lot better right now. And the gorilla is freakin' rad!


Illinois: Chicago Blackhawks. Established in 1926. Three Stanley Cups Championships. Twenty Hall of Famers. Known for being a member of the original six, a borderline racist logo and being named the worst franchise in professional sports by ESPN. 2007-2008 season: 40-34-8, 3rd place. Most recent playoff appearance: 2001-2002, lost in 1st round.

Arizona: Phoenix Coyotes. Established in 1972 (as the Winnipeg Jets). Zero Stanley Cup Championships. Four Hall of Famers. Known for being coached by the Great One, never making it out of the 1st round of the playoffs. Moved to Phoenix in 1996. 2007-2008 season: 38-37-7, 4th place. Most recent playoff appearance: 2001-2002, lost in first round.

Edge: Illinois. This is tough. They both pretty much suck, but at least Chicago has been good in the past.


Chicago Fire. Founded in 1997. One MLS Cup. Known for being named after a disaster, winning the US Open Cup, we have no idea. Currently in 2nd place. Most recent playoff appearance: 2007, lost in semifinals.


Edge: Illinois. By default.

So that makes it 4 for Illinois and 0 for Arizona, with one push. Well, friends, you heard it here first: Vote for Obama, because the sports in Illinois are better than in Arizona.

Except the college sports, that might change things. But it would be like 30 different schools to research and honestly it's not worth doing all that for one measly little blog post that already took a long time to put together. Oh and there's also the WNBA, but really, does that count? We don't even know if they have teams in these states. I guess there's Arena Football, too. And what about professional lacrosse or softball, or even high school sports? I guess we could say that Arizona has spring training, so that's like way more baseball than in Illinois, but then we'd maybe have to give a point to Arizona, and honestly we didn't want to do that because the whole point of this was to promote Obama....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

San Francisco has been there too, Rice Owl fans

This is it: You have a 5-0 lead with three innings left to play. You're going to win the World Series. The World freakin' Series! You don't say it, of course. You wouldn't dare say it. But a friend does. And you tell her to fuck off and swallow a light bulb. But you think she's right: The Giants are going to win the World freakin' Series.

Then, uh, then this happens. And your 5-0 lead and World Series victory is a 6-5 loss. And you denounce baseball and religion and all that is good and right with the world forever. (And you use the word "and" a lot.)

But Giants fans, you're no longer alone in your World Series futility and heartbreak. Make room for the Rice Owls.

In yesterday's elimination game of the College World Series, The Owls led the Tigers of LSU 5-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Then they gave up a run. No sweat, fellas, just a run. Then another run in the eighth. Still got 'em, guys, three-run lead with an inning to play. That's gonna be us up there, so happy, so full of life.

Then some hits, an error and Blake Dean. Blake fucking Dean. You hate Blake Dean. Blake Dean hits a three-run double and your 5-0 lead is a 6-5 loss and your season is over and you find the closest Dick's Sporting Goods in Omaha. They sell guns and bow and arrows at Dick's Sporting Goods in Omaha.

We are brothers now, Rice fans, forever linked by 6-5 World Series scores. Six-five. We hate the score 6-5. It's a bad score and bad things happen with that score. We hate anything that reminds us of October 26, 2002. And the Rally Monkey. What the fuck is a Rally Monkey, anyway? Doesn't matter, we fucking hate it.

Now give us some whiskey and a rope. 

Which is uglier? Barry Zito's contract or Willie McGee?

As you all know, Barry Zito signed a contract with the Giants for seven years and $126 million in December 2006. Zito hasn't exactly lived up to that contract. He may have been an All-Star multiple times before coming to the Giants, but it doesn't look like he'll ever be one with them. This brings to mind another player who was an All-Star several times before playing for the Giants, and didn't make the midsummer classic while in San Francisco: the great Willie McGee. So now we pose the question. Which is uglier: Barry Zito's contract or Willie McGee?

The case for Zito's contract:

Since becoming a Giant, he's gone 13-22, and has a 5.83 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP this season. His peripheral stats were on the decline before the Giants signed him, and now they seem to have caught up with him. He's lost the little zip he did have on his fastball, and as he moves into his thirties things will probably only get worse. Even if he bounces back and becomes a league-average pitcher, he'll never be worth $18 million a year. For that kind of money they might be able to sign someone who can, you know, actually get people out.

The case for McGee:

That's not enough for ya? Try this, or maybe this. What is it? Eyes that don't seem to open all the way? The 'stache? Asymmetry? Whatever it is, it's ugly.

Now it's up to you to decide. Are you going with the contract that brings the term albatross to a whole new level, or Mr. Eyes that don't open the same amount? Make your arguments in the comments.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kind of a rough day for the city of Seattle

We've never really considered ourselves "Seattleites" despite spending the past six years in this cold, damp metropolis. But after a day like the city had yesterday, you sorta have to feel for them.

Within a couple hours of each other, the opening arguments were made in the Seattle vs. Sonics trial (the team is like totally moving, but might be forced to play two lame-duck seasons first. That might be fun.) and Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi was canned, the first in what should be a series of moves to rectify a team that is on pace to lose 100+ games, despite a $117 million payroll and an 88-win season a year ago. And they've lost eight in a row. Three of them were against Washington. At home. Yikes.

The trial, though, is the big story in town. It got off to a warm and fuzzy start, as the fine folks of the "Save Our Sonics" fan group organized a rally to protest the move. About 1,000 fans showed up, as did Gary Payton who spoke. If anyone knows how to prevent a team from moving it's The Glove. Power to the people!

So, yeah, rough day for this fine city. But that's Shawn Kemp. SHAWN KEMP!

Why weren't fans rooting for Rocco?

As sports fans, we're trained to love the underdog. We adore the David vs. Goliath match-up. We crave the upset. We root against dynasties and traditional powerhouses because of it.

With one exception: Tiger Woods. We love Tiger Woods.

We, admittedly, are not golf fans and know little about the game, so when we watched the captivating playoff round of yesterday's U.S. Open (by far the most golf we've ever watched in one sitting), we were puzzled to see the crowd at Torrey Pines so behind Tiger when his competitor, Rocco Mediate, was the classic underdog: a low-ranked 45-year-old no-name who had never won much of anything and seemed like the nicest guy in the world.

We had our David vs. Goliath story. The upset was in the making. It would be the perfect ending to a great tournament. But, as an poll proved, nearly 66% of voters were rooting for Tiger.

If Tiger is the Yankees or Patriots of golf, why the support? Why the love? Why is his fandom so universal? Why does he trump our most practiced principle in sport: root for the underdog?

Help us understand. Please!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tim Lincecum will be your NL All-Star Game starter

We're both clairvoyant and optimistic, but Tim Lincecum -- who should probably be our favorite player in the history of sport (he went to Washington and now plays for the Giants! That's like so us!) -- is the best pitcher in the history of pitching and over-hand throwing and will start for the National League in next month's All-Star game.

The argument for Lincecum: He's 8-1, has a 1.99 ERA and is second in the league in strikeouts with 92. Wears cool glasses.

The argument against Lincecum: None. He's the best player to ever play. He could start in centerfield if he wanted.

The actual argument against Lincecum: Edinson Volquez. The Reds' youngster is 9-2 with a 1.64 ERA and leads the league with 105 strikeouts.

Um, Volquez is better than Lincecum in just about every category. Hmm. But he didn't go to Washington. Or play for the San Francisco Giants. You lose, Bitch.

So there. Tim Lincecum, NL Cy Young. Or All-Star starting pitcher. Whatever.

What guys really wanted for Father's Day

Move aside, iPhone, there's a new favorite toy for men.

ESPN, in its continued effort to take over the world, has created The Ultimate Remote, a universal control that has internet, texting and video-playing capabilities.

That's it there to the right. Three-hundred bucks for one of those bad-boys. But you can't watch TV on it and it won't wipe your ass.

Give 'em a couple of months. We're sure they'll figure it out.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Best: MLB Mascot

Welcome to "The Best," a new series from the people who brought you "Would You Do," "Blogger Interviews" and "What Really Grinds My Gears."

It's just what it sounds like: what's the best ______? "Best" is such a subjective word and that's really the point -- let's get you guys talking! If this works, there will be intelligent, thoughtful debate on the day's topic. And if it doesn't work, well, back to the drawing board.

Love mascots. Great for kids, great for drunk guys, great for the hot brunette who isn't sure what type of game she's actually attending.

Mascots can liven up the dullest of games and, well, that's pretty much all they do. Sometimes they give away free hot dogs. That's nice.

Lots of good ones though, all of which you can see on this fine Wikipedia page.

The best current MLB mascots? Here's what we think:

5. Swinging Friar (Padres)
4. Stomper (A's elephant)
3. Bernie Brewer
2. Mr. Met
1. Phillie Phanatic

Give some love for these furry creatures in the comments.

There Will Be Bud

Because this is a movie you should like and an activity you're probably doing while not watching sports, this video seems quite appropriate.

Thanks to reader D.O. for the tip.

And the world, once again, falls into perfect balance

Just as the sun rises in the east, trees grow green and birds sing, nature has righted itself to maintain a natural balance.

Just 10 days removed from mathematically proving the Cubs would win the 2008 World Series, baseball's supernatural powers corrected things in the form of Jeff Bennett pitch that broke Alfonso Soriano's hand. He could miss six weeks.

For Cubs fans, this is a real bummer.
"That's a real bummer," said Chicago starter Ryan Dempster.
Dempster is Canadian. Betcha didn't know that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And the next Mayor of Deadspinville is...

Deadspin is the sports blog of sports blogs and always will be, but it's been difficult to read for a long time now. After the redesign, which Leitch openly admitted to disliking, we've probably read, in its entirety, only 1-3 posts per day.

Lozo put together a nice list of things he'd change if he were "Mayor" of Deadspin, which is a far more accurate title than "Editor."

It'll be interesting to see what direction the Gawker folks go in making the hire, but we can't imagine the site will get better than it was in the early days.


Speaking of the new "Mayor," we see just one guy who could carry on the site as successfully as Leitch: MJD.

The guy is the best Web writer on the, ugh, Web and is mind-fuckingly funny.

A few bloggers have put out odds on who the next "Editor" or "Mayor" or whatever will be. Maybe it should be an election and not a job application. We would endorse MJD. Or write in ourselves. But we don't think of ourselves as an "Editor," so that wouldn't really work.

If we had to rank the likely candidates, here's how we'd go:

1. MJD
2. Lozo (don't think he's actually interested)
3. Big Daddy Drew



We played this game in our last Ramblings post, but it was so mind-fuckingly (great new term, yes?) fun, we'll play again, but with a new person.

To sleep with Allison Stokke -- one night, no strings attached, no anal -- how far would you go? Would you...

-Give up red meat for a year?
-Lose (without pain) your left small toe?
-Go to work naked?
-Not have any other sex the rest of the year?
-Watch an entire hockey game?
-Admit to liking Jack Black?


Anyone see that new Adam Sandler train wreck? If "Click" didn't put a hiccup in his movie career, this one surely will.


Saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said, "I love my kids."

Way to go out on a limb on that one. We don't imagine you would drive around with a bumper sticker that said, "I beat my child," or "I thought about flushing my baby down the toilet at Prom."

But "I love my kids"? OK, whatever. Beats the "My child is an Honor Student" bullshit.


Sports. Let's talk about sports.

College World Series. Love it! We're rooting for Fresno St. at this point, obviously, but we think Rice and Miami are the teams to beat.

NBA Finals? Could care less. Two days between games in the same location is absolutely outrageous, but getting into that would be like beating Barbaro or Eight Belles. (Hey-O! Zing! (That, by the way, is our third -- and certainly not last -- time making that joke)).


A double parenthesis is strange and probably grammatically incorrect.


The Bachelor or any of those other dating shows would be far better if they were on Cinemax at midnight.


Not a lot of gratuitous T&A lately, so enjoy Whack-It Wednesday with the lovely Jennifer.

The sad demise of Dontrelle Willis

It's so hard to not like Dontrelle Willis.

He has that wonderful old-fashion motion, an upbeat personality and, hey, he grew up about 10 minutes from us!

But while this Bay Area native has the support of the casual fan, the same can't be said for Detroit faithful.

Allowing eight runs in an inning and a third in Monday's loss to Cleveland earned the lefty boos from Tigers fans. He walked five and threw 64 pitches recording four outs.

And now he's been sent single-A!

Willis' Rookie of the Year win in 2003 was the start of what many thought would be a fantastic career. And when he went 22-10 in 2005 coming in second in Cy Young voting, he was among the game's best pitchers and a star in the making.

But a 12-12 2006 and 10-15 2007 led to four poor starts in his first year in Detroit. And now he's back to the minors. Can he turn it around? Or will we not hear from the D-Train for a long time?

And while he's in just the first of a three-year, $29-million contract, things could be much, much worse.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The slipper still fits! The slipper still fits!

Yesterday, in the best tournament no one's talking about it, No. 4 Fresno State, the equivalent of a 13-seed in that little March Madness thing, made the College World Series after knocking off Arizona State, a 1-seed (!), 12-9 in the decisive game of the best-of-three Super Regional.

The World Series is the Final Four of college baseball. There's a 13-seed in the Final Four!

Take that, George Mason!

If an MLB player hits a milestone home run and no one sees it, was it actually hit?

Well, yes, because 16,003 people at Florida's Dolphin Stadium did see it. So really that's a faulty headline since someone was there, but the point is clear: Ken Griffey Jr. hit home run No. 600 in front of very few people (they did cheer, though!).

No need to go the Griffey route here. We'll leave it at this: The guy still has the sweetest swing in baseball. And a fucking awesome rookie card!

Instead, we want to get back to the attendance figure. The Marlins, through 32 home dates, are averaging 14,840 in paid attendance, last in the league. That's not a shocker, but coupled with the fact that Tampa Bay is No. 28 with a 18,418 average, it's bothersome.

The Fish and Rays have been arguably the two most exciting teams so far this season, yet they're doing it in front of mostly-empty ballparks. How come?

Is it the stadiums? The lack of marketable superstars? Or, is Florida not a suitable place for Major League Baseball? Are these numbers a sign that each city is ill-equipped to support a team?

Eh. Probably just a lot of old people.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Barbaro: 'Way to go, Dickhead'

You fuck.

You blew this for all of us, Big Brown. Or should I call you Big Frown. Or Big LetDown. Or Big Clown. Or BigFuckingAsshole.

I don't want to hear about quarter-cracks and 93-degree heat. You had the chance to be something. Something special. I had the chance to be something, then I fucked up my leg. I didn't even get to run in the Belmont...a mile and a half is nothing unless it's my cock, which is a mile and half -- Eight Belles loves it!

It's been 30 years! Now you'll be compared to Smarty Jones instead of Secretariat. You think you're all cool with that white spot. Just you wait. When you get up here with me and 'Belles I'll give you a white spot on your upper lip.

You had the hopes of millions of people on your shoulders, and you couldn't handle the pressure, could you? You thought you didn't have to try too hard. You thought you had it wrapped up before the race began. You thought you couldn't lose. Well, you know what? You blew it. Motherfucking blew it. We all wanted to see a Triple Crown winner, even if it had to be a little bitch like you. But you couldn't come through for us. Loser.

Well, have a good life. Good luck with your ankles. Try not to fuck up so bad again.

Oh, and Fed Ex is the shit. Pussy.

Big Brown: Exactly what you think it is

Funny story: While looking for pictures of Big Brown, the horse, Google gave us pictures of Big Brown, the cock, Big Brown, the boobs, and Big Brown, the anal wreckage by Big Brown, the cock.

Barbaro might be dead, but when you Google him, at least you get pictures of horses fucking.

Boston or LA?

We're two games into the 2008 NBA Finals and we still don't know who to root for. As Bay Area fans, we naturally hate LA. As sports fans, we naturally hate Boston.

We don't mind the Celtics as a team, but to hear a Boston fan brag about another championship team would be worse than nails on a chalkboard or The Strokes.

The Lakers are full of European players whose names you can't pronounce and a player who may or may not have taken advantage of a woman who may or may not have consented to him doing that.

So, who to root for?


LA Lakers_________Boston Celtics


celebrities, fair weather, arrive in the 3rd leave in the 7th____________obnoxious, spoiled


Purple and yellow (but not the good kind)_____________________Irish


Nails the bosses daughter______Not actually a doctor


Few lakes________________"Leprechauns" would be better

Music in city

Owned by Sony, Geffen or Capital___________________________"More Than a Feeling"

Other professional teams in city

Dodgers, Trojans___Red Sox, Patriots


San Francisco, East Coast, Biggie______New York, Warwick Davis, Tupac?

TV Shows

Beverly Hills 90210, Joey, Fresh Prince______________Boston Public, Cheers, The Practice

MLS Team

Becks, plural name?_______________defiant, plural name?

Hmm...this has certainly not helped us decide who to root for. Beat LA. Fuck Boston. We're watching tennis or competitive eating.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Our own MLB draft

With the first pick in the 2008 mediocre 1990's MLB player draft, D.O. selects...

Sid Bream, 1B, Atlanta Braves!

And thus began our own MLB draft. In honor of today's Major League Baseball amateur player draft, we decided to have a little draft of our own. Four teams, 11 rounds, 44 mediocre players from the 90's. Every pick was like a little surprise, some guys you were expecting to be picked, some guys you had totally forgotten about, and some that we could never forget. And then we picked managers.

The draft started with the great Sid Bream, and the first round continued with Eddie Taubensee, Jeff Reboulet, and Mark Lemke. Mr. Irrelevant? Chris Sabo. We did this fantasy draft style, fishtailing back and forth. It made us laugh, and we hope you also. The basic rules were: The player had to play the bulk of their career in the 90's. They had to be good enough to be an everyday player for at least a few years, but not good enough to be considered actually good. Two All-Star appearances? Probably too good for this draft. They had to be somewhat recognizable, and they hopefully would make the other people laugh when they saw the pick. We think we did a pretty good job.

Below is the list of our teams, take a look. First names link to baseball-reference pages. Last names to pictures.

C: Ron Karkovice
1B: Sid Bream
2B: Mickey Morandini
3B: Steve Buechele
SS: Gary DiSarcina
OF: Jim Eisenreich
OF: Brian McRae
OF: Joe Orsulak
SP: Danny Darwin
RP: Mel Rojas
Util: Tony Eusebio
Manager: Jim Fregosi

C: Eddie Taubensee
1B: John Jaha
2B: Delino DeShields
3B: Craig Paquette
SS: Benji Gil
OF: Pete Incaviglia
OF: Andy Van Slyke
OF: Devon White
SP: Cal Eldred
RP: Heathcliff Slocumb
Util: Pat Mears
Manager: Cito Gaston

C: Damon Berryhill
1B: David Segui
2B: Jeff Reboulet
3B: Charlie Hayes
SS: Pat Listach
OF: Bernard Gilkey
OF: Lance Johnson
OF: B.J. Surhoff
SP: Bob Tewksbury
RP: Bobby Thigpen
Util: Joey Cora
Manager: Hal McRae (purely for this)

C: Chris Hoiles
1B: Rico Brogna
2B: Mark Lemke
3B: Ed Sprague
SS: Tim Bogar
OF: Mike Devereaux
OF: Ron Gant
OF: Al Martin
SP: Doug Drabek
RP: Rick Aguilera
Util: Chris Sabo
Manager: Rene Lachemann

For the full run down of picks 1-44 and by team and round, look here. And now let the debate begin: who has the best team? Who had the best draft strategy? What pick was the best value? Funniest name? Most obscure player? Let's hear it in the comments.

Who has the best mediocre 90's team?
Zach free polls

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Best: Player to never win a championship

Welcome to "The Best," a new series from the people who brought you "Would You Do," "Blogger Interviews" and "What Really Grinds My Gears."

It's just what it sounds like: what's the best ______? "Best" is such a subjective word and that's really the point -- let's get you guys talking! If this works, there will be intelligent, thoughtful debate on the day's topic. And if it doesn't work, well, back to the drawing board.

The NBA Finals start tomorrow -- the long layoff furthers our love for the league -- and got us thinking about guys like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. All solid players for a long time, none have much to show for it.

With Garnett the star of that tandem, does he fall into the list of best players in the last, oh, 20 years to never win a championship?

Here's how we'd go:

5. Garnett
4. A-Rod
3. Malone/Stockton
2. Barry Sanders
1. Dan Marino

Lots of good players don't have rings. Name 'em in the comments.

Josh Hamilton or Big Brown? Who’s winning the Triple Crown?

Lots of Triple Crown talk this week as we gallop (pun!) to Saturday's Belmont Stakes. The optimistic folks in the Big Brown camp are pretty confident that the colt will run away (hehe!) from the field and make history.

The realistic folks in The Big Picture camp are fairly certain that Big Brown won’t win the race. Odds are he'll break a leg or ankle and be euthanized on live television, or after a drawn-out, tug-on-your-emotions national-media campaign. It is the current trend in horse racing, after all, and we aren’t ones to buck (giggle!) tradition. Besides, there hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 despite a number of horsies to win the first two legs.

Meanwhile, Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton is flirting with the Major League Baseball version of the Triple Crown. We’re roughly a third of the way through the season and he’s leading the league in home runs (17) and RBIs (67), and second in batting average (.329 to Hideki Matsui's .332) through yesterday's games. Baseball hasn't had a Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, nor has it had a name so difficult to spell.

So, we ask you: Which Triple Crown is more likely to happen?

And yes, that headline rhymes. And yes, that is our best attempt to turn Josh Hamilton into a Big Brown Centaur.

B.J. Novak goes to bars

Crazy, we know. But we just happened to be at the same Seattle bar as The Office actor, writer and producer, last week.

Nothing much happened. He walked in, we walked up, told him we liked the show, then we left together and rented a motel by the hour.

Really though, we just did it in the bathroom.

Really though, we just sorta looked at him and said to our friends, "Oh, there's Ryan from The Office. Wonder if he reads Michael Schur's blog."

Novak, who looks unbelievably the same as he does in that picture except with a drink instead of a microphone, got many free drinks and had plenty of four-Long Island girls hit on him.

Not sure if that says something about the women in Seattle or the women who watch a sophisticated, comedic television show. Probably both.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Watching the Giants try to score a runner from third with less than two outs is less frustrating than this

See that image? Go ahead. Click it. That's what you'll see if you try to come to any Big Picture post from Google.

After far too many hours of investigating, we've been told that we have badware or malware or something that makes us want to blow up the Internet with 1,000 tons of C-4. We have no idea what this is, how we have it or what it will do. Well, it won't do shit. The blog looks fine...but our traffic is getting crushed by losing all perusing Googlers.

Yahoo! and other search engines are working fine and the site appears to be OK -- if you enter from another blog or from a bookmark it should be normal.

If anyone has any knowledge about badware or knows who can help, please drop us a line: Meanwhile, we'll be tearing out our hair and clawing at our eyes.

[Super sexy, boner-inducing update: we think we're clean! Should be no more problems coming in to the blog from Google. Hooray!]

Which is uglier?

We're starting a new segment at The Big Picture. Or maybe not a segment but just a question we'll ask occasionally. It's called "Which is Uglier" and compares two things that are pretty ugly. It's like the reverse of "Would you do...?" So enjoy.

The other night, Randy Johnson struck out nine Giants to give him 4,672 strikeouts in his 20-year career. This is the same exact number that Roger Clemens has. They are tied for second behind the incomparable Nolan Ryan. Tonight he's going to go out and, assuming he records a strikeout, pass Roger. Which naturally brings up the following question:

Which is uglier, the end of Roger's career, or Randy Johnson?

The case for Roger's career:

Roger was a fantastic pitcher for a long time. Has some rings, a shit load of strikeouts, Cy Youngs, All-Star games, you name it. At the end of his career Roger kinda lost it. He was still a good pitcher, but only would throw half a season. He went back to the Yankees and had that weird appearance to announce it from the owner's box. And then steroids happened. Now Roger looks like a cheater both on the mound and in the bedroom. No team wants to touch him with a 50-foot syringe, and he's embroiled in a bunch of legal battles. He still denies all the PEDs accusations, and he might end up in jail for perjury. All in all, ugly.

The case for Randy Johnson:

Whoa! Mullet, mustache, weird soul patch thing, bizarre angular features. This guy is a train wreck. And this was when he was younger and less pock marked and wrinkly.

Now it's up to you to decide. Are you going with one of the biggest falls from grace, or a tall lanky, horse face? Make your arguments in the comments.
Which is Uglier...?
The end of Clemens' career
Randy Johnson free polls

Things really aren't going well for Richie Sexson

We knew things were bad for Seattle first baseman/strikeout guru Richie Sexson, but we had no idea they were this bad. Seems Manager John McLaren left Sexson on the bench in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 7-5 game against Detroit on Sunday with a runner at first and two outs. Instead he let -- wait for it -- Miguel Cairo hit.

Some other notes about the decision:

-Sexson is a career .455 (5-11) hitter against Detroit closer Todd Jones. Three of those hits are home runs.

-Cairo hasn't homered since July, 28, 2005

Cairo flew weakly to center to end the game. Uggh, yeah. But good to know Miguel Cairo's still in the league.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Chicago Cubs will win the 2008 World Series

Worry not, friends. That headline is not misleading. It's fact. Courtesy of our one-time nemesis, the geometric proof, we will prove that the Chicago Cubs will win the 2008 World Series.


The Cubs (36-21) are the best team in Major League Baseball
The last time the Cubs had the best record in baseball this late in the season was 1908
The Cubs won the World Series in 1908


The Chicago Cubs will win the 2008 World Series


1. The Cubs are the best team in Major League Baseball
2. The last time the Cubs had the best record in baseball this late in the season was 1908
3. The Cubs won the World Series in 1908
4. History repeats itself in 100-year intervals
5. The Chicago Cubs will win the 2008 World Series


1. Given
2. Given
3. Given
4. 100 is a magic number with supernatural powers that transcend external elements
5. Because we said so

There. Proof.

Mark Prior touched himself too much as a child...

...Or suffocated a cat in a grocery bag. One of the two. Has to be one of the two.

How else to explain that the once-heralded and dominant Prior will undergo season-ending surgery to repair his injured right shoulder? The former phenom hasn't pitched in nearly two years and has only made 57 starts since 2003. We're beginning to wonder if he'll ever pitch again.

After an 18-6 2003 campaign -- his first full season -- he was on the fast track to stardom. Then the injuries. Lots of injuries.

So he tried on his mother's Sunday dresses and put on her lipstick, right?