Super Mario Bros: Buffalo Bills Free Agency Edition

By David Hauser

Mario Williams is on the cusp of making the Buffalo Bills relevant for the first time in this millennium.  Doug Flute just blushed at the thought.  Buffalo is also trying to chase down veteran WR and Super Bowl XLVI hero, Mario Manningham.  2012 Free Agency is shaping into a Nintendo video game fantasy for the hungry fans of Western New York.


Dwight Howard’s True Alter Ego?

As Adrian Wojnarowski outlines here, Dwight Howard has been throwing a red herring at Magic management all along and has been working to make his “real team,” the New Jersey Nets stronger for next year.

“Why would Howard push for a trade now? So the Nets have to give up Brook Lopez and draft picks? For Howard, he can finish the season with the Magic, make the playoffs and leave on July 1 for a contract with the Nets, who can offer him a four-year, $81 million deal – about $28 million less than what the Magic can give him in a fifth year. Adidas wants him in a major market – New York or Los Angeles – and this scenario promises him the highest possible value on his upcoming renegotiation on his shoe deal.”

Young Point Guard Debate

Jeremy Lin may not be a rookie, but in his first substantial playing time in the league he has lit up the NBA.  He’s not the only young Point Guard shredding the league these days.  Ricky Rubio has emerged in Minnesota as a Messi-like magician, turning the parquee into his own personal midfield.  Kemba Walker is trying to rejuvenate the always floundering Charlotte Bobcats franchise with the brand of energy and enthusiasm that brought UConn a National Championship last year.  And Kyrie Irving made everyone else on this Mt. Rushmore of young PGs look foolish and overmatched in this past weekend’s Rising Stars game (not to mention dismissing all the naysayers who insisted Derrick Williams should have been the #1 pick in the NBA draft last year).

And we have not even mentioned John Wall, Jrue Holliday, Norris Cole, Kyle Lowry, or even Glen Falls, NY’s Jimmer Fredette (still emerging).  The NBA is overflowing with young Point Guard talent beyond the likes of established (but, still young!) vets like Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and Deron Williams.

If you’re a GM and can pick one Under-25 PG to build around, who you taking??

Braunold or Not?

Yet again, sports fans are relegated to throwing on their lab coats to try to figure out if one of baseball's stars is telling the truth or not

By David Berlin

As a life-long Phillies fan I thought about what I would do if I found out Ryan Howard or Chase Utley were taking steroids. My first thought was that my world would be shattered. But then after some reflection, I realized that realistically, I would probably refuse to accept it and pretend it never happened. That’s what I did with the ‘93 Phillies and it’s worked out pretty well for me for 20 years.

Try talking to any Phillies fan about that ‘93 team and they’ll say something like – “Sure, 10 players had ‘career’ years. And sure, Dykstra was hitting .400 through June. But let’s not play the blame game.”

I consider myself a fairly educated person and I still have no idea what I’m reading when it comes to steroid articles. 1. because I can’t understand the science, and 2., because the player always puts out an extremely loaded statement, with unquantifiable terms of art (probably written by his lawyer). Soon I just have a headache and want to get back to watching baseball. Continue reading

NBA All-Star Game vs. NASCAR Daytona 500 would appear we have virtually two mutually exclusive viewing audiences

By David Hauser

In a breakthrough new study, social scientists have discovered virtually no crossover appeal in viewership of NASCAR and NBA basketball.  Ironically both NASCAR’s Daytona 500 and the NBA’s All-Star Weekend Festivities will be held over the same weekend, both in Central Florida.  Here’s to hoping these two different viewing audiences do not get into any turf war tussles this coming weekend.  Unfortunately, Lenny Kravitz’s PR team was not privy to these shocking new findings until too late…

Magicians at Work: the All-Star Weekend Sideshow

Magicians, Dwight Howard and David Stern, host the awkward All-Star Weekend Festivities

By David Hauser

I have a pretty poor memory, but this I still recall.  In 6th grade (1995ish), at a nearby table in my middle school cafeteria I noticed a young relatively non-descript female classmate wearing a homemade Orlando Magic white t-shirt to school on some random weekday during the NBA season.  Scrawled in bright colorful puffy paint across the front (and back) of her shirt was the following trivia question about NBA journeyman/Magic backup point guard, Brian Shaw: What is the most valuable import Orlando has EVER received from Miami? A. Tropical Storms? B. Cuban Food? C. Their overflow retirees? D. Brian Shaw?

I think I remember this over a lot of other random things from my past, in part because I would have been completely and utterly mortified to ever wear a homemade t-shirt to middle school (much less one with puffy paint text on it).  At the time I was more reticent to see this as some kind of not-so-cool-junior-high-fashion-choice than some socially courageous display of local team pride.  But with hindsight, I look back at this nameless girl in her puffy painted white v-neck with some degree of fondness.  Her shirt, and my passive glance and long-term memory stamp of it, represents the authentic and real power of sports; the impact a seemingly silly logo or jersey can have in bonding two strangers in even just the slightest way. Continue reading

A Gratuitous Cheap-Shot Piece at a Genuinely Nice, but Unlucky Guy, Greg Oden

The hills may be alive in the plains of Oklahoma, but are most certainly not in Portland at the sound of yet another Oden season-ending injury

By David Berlin

Greg Oden is like the spouse that went to the store to get cigarettes and never came back. The former 2007 #1 draft-pick will miss the 2011-12 season after his fifth knee surgery. “Don’t worry baby, I’ll be back in 15…”

Oden is more of a disappointment to the Blazers than a school day during a blizzard is to third graders. Oden is more of a let down than a $15 alcoholic beverage, heavy on the ice. He’s more damaged goods than Cuba Gooding Jr.’s career post-Jerry McGuire.

I want to say to Blazers’ fans that it’s not the end of the world, it could be worse. Except it couldn’t be worse. Kevin Durant, the 2007 #2 pick, scored a career-high 51 points Sunday night to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA’s best record.

This is as bad a draft scenario as you could possibly get. Clearly the Blazers asked the wrong girl to the prom.

Except, wait, there is one even worse scenario. Like, for example, if your team drafted the Durantula, maybe the best player since Michael Jordan, and then left your city altogether. Okay okay, when you look at it that way, it pretty much just sucks to be a pro basketball fan in the Northwest. But I hear the hiking out there is phenomenal.

SPINAL TAP: Indianapolis

Owner Jim Irsay’s taking the lead, shaking up the front office and roster from top to bottom.  Andrew Luck is expected to form a solid foundation for the new rhythm section.  Front man Peyton Manning may be offering his lead vocals elsewhere.  And new band manager Rob Lowe has great expectations for all.

Biznatch Slap

By David Berlin

Don’t tell me boxing is irrelevant just because Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. can’t get it together for the fight of the century. Other boxers still take their bouts extremely seriously.

For example, on Friday, Dereck Chisora slapped WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko during the weigh-in for their Saturday title fight.

You have to give Chisora credit. He obviously takes his craft so seriously that he brings this kind of intensity to the weigh-in. What’s more, he doubled-down by wearing a Union-Jack handkerchief ninja style on his face – the height of professionalism.

What better way to strike fear into the heart of an opponent? Sounds more like a weigh-in from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” Continue reading

Royal Disconnect

Two eggs and a side of manure complementing your morning Internet sports page (art by D.H & A.G.)

By: David Berlin

Every legal brief starts with a section called “Statement of Facts.” In law school you’re taught that the statement of facts should be written in a way that benefits the side you are advocating for. It sounds simple enough but there is an art to it. You can’t omit every fact that is bad for your side or you will lose your credibility with the judge. You can’t change or even stretch the facts or you might be disbarred.

What you can do is stress the facts that work for you. You can place bad facts in the middle of a paragraph surrounded by good facts. If your client is suspected of cheating on her husband, you can refer to her as Mrs. Smith instead of Sally Smith to emphasize that she is committed to family values. You get the idea.

The law profession obviously isn’t the only industry to refine this Jedi mind trick. PR people are pretty good at it too. And one particular type of PR person I really have to take my hat off to – the “reporters” who write for professional sports team official websites. No, they don’t make $500 an hour. But they really ought to.

Just as foliage is most brilliant in Fall, team “news” stories really peak at the beginning and end of a sports season, when the quasi-reporters are ginning up support or are in full-blown damage control.

Continue reading