Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Real American Gladiator

There are many things that define who we are: the things we do, who we associate ourselves with, the impact we have on the lives of others. For most people these vary. However, many guys in my generation are defined by the same three things- Lace, spandex and spray on tans.

Maybe I should expand on that.

Is there anyone who didn't watch and love American Gladiators? I mean, other than the foreign kid who is more familiar with the knock-off version Bulgarian She-Men.

What a great idea for a show. Take regular joes, and pit them against massive, 'roid induced, meat heads in creative and entirely unsafe competitions. Climb into a large steel ball and roll around banging into each other? Sure! Let she-hulk pull you off a climbing wall by your ankles? Duh! Have tennis balls shot at you at 100 mph? Sign me up!

Who didn't fantasize about running through the final obstacle course, jousting with giant q-tips, or jamming colored balls into odd shaped trash cans in Powerball? Every kid dreamed of having a giant tennis ball cannon that they could set up on their roof and fire at unwelcome guests.

Pair that with the awful windbreaker wearing, mustache sporting, awkward 'sports reporters' of the early 90s, and you have a show that can't miss.

So, naturally they tried to re-create American Gladiators in 2007 with Hulk Hogan and Layla Ali as hosts. And I think we can go on record here and say pretty firmly that any show that has Hulk Hogan and Layla Ali not fist fighting each other will be a complete failure.

But I watched it. I'm a sucker. Unfortunately, I had to come to the realization that some things are better left alone. Plus this guy REALLY creeps me out (I'm not sure if he's gonna eat my liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti, or tickle me inappropriately until I pee).

So we're left with our nostalgia of the mid-90s episodes, wishing we could play Swingshot, battle in Breakthrough and Conquer, or run on the Skytrack.

Unfortunately we eventually realized our dreams of tennis ball cannons may not be a part of our future...or will it? Enter the Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25 Blaster.

First of all, what an absurd name. Its completely impractical. Who would call anything that? You waste 10 seconds trying to say what it is when you could be blasting fools in the mouth!

I do have a few question though. 1) Who needs this? 2) Why don't I have one? and 3) Since when are kids having Nerf gun battles so strategic they need a mounted gun on a fixed position?

I don't know and I don't care. I'm getting one of these this weekend. So don't come near my house, or you will get sticky-darted in the face.

So here's to the excellent memories of the epic American Gladiator battles. I couldn't think of anything more American to celebrate this 4th of July.

Also if you're bored, have access to YouTube and haven't seen this video there's an 80% chance you will laugh. Oh Malibu....

Monday, June 28, 2010


No, no, no. This is all wrong. This is not how it's supposed to happen. If we lose we're not supposed to lose like THAT.....I hate soccer sometimes.

The reason we love (and hate) sports is because they're so unpredictable. Anything can happen. You're always on your toes. It's like watching a Ron Artest press conference, every possible outcome is in play.

Yet some sport's stories play out the way you expect. 2010 NBA Finals, Celtics v. Lakers, you knew it was going 7 games. When the Red Sox came back from 3 games to 0 against the Yankees in 2004, you knew they were gonna sweep the Angels in the World Series. They couldn't lose. That'd be the most anti-climatic finish ever. After the 1980 USA Hockey team upset the Russians there was a zero percent chance they were going to lose their next game against Finland in the gold medal round. Usually sports stories play out the way they're supposed to.

But in a year when the empires of evil seem to be winning all the championships (Yankees, Lakers, Duke Blue Devils), I suppose the underdog has as much a chance to win as a Barry Bonds in a smallest head competition.

Enter the 2010 FIFA World Cup. A USA team that is kindly underrated, features star players who compete in the English Premier League and one of the best goal keepers in the game. Dempsy. Donovan. Two stud mid-fielders. Leaders. Scorers. There was a buzz around this team. Unlike any our national team has had in past. Which isn't saying much...our national soccer team's of the past have been about as exciting to watch as a Jennifer Gardner movie. So she 30 years old? Or is she 13? I just can't keep up with this complex story line!

Think about it though. For the first time in 50 years the U.S. played England in the World Cup. The game is a draw. A huge success for us, considering the rivalry and England's considerable talent. Then we battle back from a 2-0 deficit against Slovenia, had the winning goal taken away on a botched call and earn another draw. In our final game, vs. Algeria, win-or-go-home, in stunning fashion, in extra-time...well you know the story.

Let's just say things were supposed to turn out differently when we played against Ghana. Our storybook tale was not supposed to end in such un-dramatic fashion. Watching Ghana score in the first 5 minutes of extra time was as disappointing as finding out you're doing a radio show with Fran Drescher.

Not knowing FIFA got rid of the Golden Goal, I was ready to go home as soon as Ghana scored. Instead, I had to watch hours upon hours of grown men lay on the ground clutching their knees in a pathetic attempt to run the clock down.

Nothing frustrates me more than watching that. Nothing. I'd be more willing to watch a 24 hour loop of Tara Reid 'acting' than watch a 6'4'' Ghana-man start to stand up, see that USA has possession, roll over on his back and lay down inside the box until the referee is forced to do something about it for fear he might actually get hurt when Tim Howard steps on his throat.

Which is what should have happen. And no, I'm not still bitter. It is outrageous.

Anyway, American's will move on fairly quickly. In the past 4 years soccer was popular in America for the 6 hours following Landon Donovan's miracle goal. It's shelf-life is shorter than a cupcake at an over-eaters anonymous meeting.

The point is this, FIFA is broken, soccer is stuck in bad traditions and is in dire need of upgrading if they expect American's to ever be interes.....hold on, gotta go check my fantasy team.

*All art original.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fantasy World

It's funny how alliteration works. The world seems to supernaturally order our lives by similar first letters. Like why is it that the only four things in life that I'd die for all start with the letter 'F'? My Faith, Family, Fraternity and Fantasy Football.

You can't stop it. Football season is coming, and with it brings months of advanced obsession over teams and players. You may think I'm being a bit overzealous considering training camps haven't even started yet, but you think wrong. So quit judging me.

As I've made painfully clear in previous posts the summer time does not have much to offer by way of sports entertainment. Yes, I realize I'm saying that a day after the US advances in the World Cup by a miracle goal in stoppage time, a record setting Wimbledon match has been playing for 10 hours, and Strasburg broke the strikeout record for his first four starts. But go with me here.

It might be the sweltering heat affecting my brain, or the fact that I just discovered I have a man crush on one of the guys on 'So You Think You Can Dance', but I'm all in on the Fantasy Football season already.

I'm ready to start pouring over mock drafts, ranking lists, and injury reports. I can't wait to start planning my draft order, strategy, and finding potential trade fodder. I'm looking forward to losing 50% of my readers (read: my mom and wife) who don't care about fantasy football.

So I've gathered you all here today for an important announcement. As you don't already know, I started writing weekly awards for our fantasy league last year. It was mostly a vehicle to gripe about how unfair it was that my team was so good but I was losing all the time, it then morphed into a place to make fun of everyone in the league that wasn't me, and finally settled on a fun way to make the league more involved and competitive.

As the next fantasy season kicks off this space will be used to chronicle some of the adventures our league has. Hopefully you'll find it interesting and not horribly obnoxious (And yes, I realize there's about as much of a chance of that happening as there is for Snookie not getting punched in the face again this season, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed). I'll continue posting on topics that interest me outside of the fantasy world as well, but when the season is in full swing my hope is that this blog will offer some insight into the lives of degenerate Fantasy Football players.

It should give you plenty of material to judge us with and opportunities to laugh at our expense, and I'm willing to take that bullet.

Ok, I gotta go- I have 'So You Think You Can Dance' on DVR and Pascha is doing a Paso Doble! ¡Ay, caramba!

Friday, June 18, 2010


I've been out of commission for a few weeks, largely due to severe emotional trauma. That is, having to deal with another Lakers v. Celtics NBA Finals. But also because all the good shows on TV ended their seasons and left me with a gaping hole inside. Perhaps its time that I find a life.

Let's bang out a few quick thoughts on things going on in the sports world:

1. The Los Angeles Lakers won another NBA Championship last night over the Boston Celtics. I have the same feeling The Rock had when he found out his agent signed him up to play the Tooth Fairy. At least this confirms Kobe will never be better than MJ. In the pinnacle game of his career, game 7 of the Finals against the team's biggest rival, Kobe shot 6-24 from the field and was 0-6 from beyond the arc. Terrible. He forced up the worst shots, showed disdain for his teammates, and wanted to do it all by himself. Kobe also made Finals history by stealing the MVP from the worthy winner (Pau Gasol) based on his name alone. Awful. When does John Wall get to D.C.?

2. The World Cup is in full swing, or (to most Americans) Sport's Center won't be shown on ESPN from 7:30am - noon. I love the World Cup, I wish more people appreciated it. It's really not that much to ask, right? To like soccer for one month every 4 years? That's definitely do-able. Plus, if you have reasons to hate soccer you can apply those same reasons to baseball, consider yourself un-American, leave the country, and go live somewhere else. If only we could get all baseball fans to do that....

3. Unfortunately for everyone who can't bring themselves to watch soccer, otherwise known as Mole people, we are about to enter the driest spell of sports all year. NHL Playoffs ended, NBA Finals ended, NFL training camp hasn't started...all we have to look forward to are the NBA Draft, hundreds of meaningless baseball games, and the premier of 'Grown Ups'. Should be a pretty slow summer. Seriously, aside from the World Cup, summer sports are less inspiring than J-Lo's comeback.

4. Ok, I'm still bitter about Kobe getting a 5th ring. We need to talk about this. This does NOT make him as good as Jordan or better than Magic Johnson. It just doesn't. If the number of rings a player had determined them as the best why isn't Robert Horry and his 7 rings mentioned in the top 5 all-time players? Comparing Kobe's rings to Jordan's is about as useless as dry heaving. Kobe was the best player on the team for 2 rings, Jordan for all 6. I won't get into it anymore or this post will be entirely too long.

5. No, you know what? I will get into just a little bit more- Kobe showed last night that he is not the greatest. He was forcing up terrible shots and tried to carry the team on his back, unnecessarily. His poor shooting performance showed that he needed to get to the free throw line to score points in the biggest game of the season. Other great players would have created opportunities for themselves or gotten the rest of the team involved. Just sayin'.

Alright, I'm done. Back to watching US lose to Slovenia. I hope this makes Lakers fans happy! If the Celtics won USA would be up 4-0 right now...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Kobe Beef

I can't stand Kobe Bryant. No its not jealousy over the multiple championships, its not the 'I'm gonna get mine' attitude, its not even the rape charge. It's his obsession with being the greatest ever. And the jutting lower jaw face, seen here.

See, as a fan, I can choose to hate anyone in the sports world for whatever reason I like. Do I have a reason to dislike Emmit Smith, Hall of Fame running back, as a person? Nope. But he played for the Cowboys. So I loathe him.

Has Derek Jeter done anything to me? Nope. He hasn't even been looped in the steroids scandal in baseball. He's pretty much the best ambassador the MLB has to offer, but I despise him and his team. It comes with the territory. It's nothing personal.

Kobe is the same way for me.

I'm not ignorant or making reactionary judgments, despite what you're thinking. The guy is incredible. He's averaging 30 points, 8 boards and 6 assists in the playoffs this year. Insane! He's making shots that should never happen. He's clinching games by himself and icing the competition one improbable basket at a time. He's tamed Ron Artest. RON ARTEST!

Heck, even his air balls are winning games for the Lakers.

Kobe is the hardest working player in the NBA. He's driven beyond belief. Watch highlights of the game from last night. If you look at his face you see he's in another dimension. Its almost as if he's not even seeing this as a game. Its a mission. Its another stepping stone to become the greatest basketball player ever.

And I hate him. Look, he's never going to be Michael Jordan. He just won't. Jordan did more with less, and did it all by himself. He won three championships in a row, left the game, came back and won three more in a row. Kobe's only 3-peat came with Shaq who was beyond the most dominate player in the game. Kobe's numbers may begin to approach Jordan's over the next few years, but lets not forget Kobe started at age 18 and has played 14 seasons already. He'll likely finish his career after 16-18 seasons. Jordan played 12 seasons in his career (not including the years with the Wizards which don't really count anyway) and won 6 titles in the process!

Kobe won't pass Michael Jordan. To be honest, I don't think he'll even pass Magic Johnson as the greatest Laker ever. Magic was charismatic beyond belief. The Lakers had never beaten the Celtics in a Finals until Magic came along. He rejuvenated the franchise, grew the fan base and became the face of the league during his prime.

When people see Kobe they still think of a smarmy little snake. Maybe that's just me.

Kobe is the best player in the NBA right now (yes, LeBron is more gifted, physical and amazing). Kobe isn't just the best closer. He's the best winner, the best leader, the hardest working and the smartest. His life is consumed with winning championships so he can be the greatest ever. That's all he cares about.

And that's why I'll always hate him....and respect him.

(images courtesy of the Brain on Funk Blog by Doc Funk, I'm not nearly that creative)