Saturday, March 29, 2008

A night out with cheap American suds, debating "delegating" and British bands

So tonight, after an endless MLB fantasy draft, one which I had to participate in for the first time from my new home in Chicago, when all my mates were back in Cleveland, I made it out to a nice bar in Bucktown called Cans Bar and Canteen, where, no shit, my first three beers, in cans, were Schlitz, Stroh's, and then Hamm's. (Yes, we were trying to drink downhill, and Hamm's was the lowest we could go. The only other time I can remember drinking Hamm's was when two buddies and I left Cedar Point to pound a couple cans of Hamm's before going back into the park to ride the coasters...not the best idea I can suggest!)

Anyway, most of my time was spent in conversation with a couple co-workers of mine, one originally from New Zealand, who spent a few years in London, and the other fresh from London two months ago, virtually the same day I came from Cleveland. Now, I sat out the vigorous debate they had over the ass-whipping in cricket New Zealand took from England recently by 121 runs, but took place in a couple other interesting discussions.

First, we were discussing baseball, and how so many great players come from small countries like the Dominican Republic and Cuba. I was wondering how it could be that so many great rock bands, especially ones from the 60s, were from Britian. (And so few, if any baseball players.) Ask any rock fan who the generally accepted best bands ever were, and invariably bands such as the Stones, Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin come up extremely high. I personally couldn't think of any American band to rival them. (Country and Hip Hop nonwithstanding.) Even recent superbands such as Coldplay or U2 are from the UK (or Ireland, I suppose). Now some lists might mention the Doors or Grateful Dead or Bruce, but it really is indisputable--a great number of great bands are British.

One of my mates mentioned that it is cyclical--the grunge movement from Seattle, the White-Stripes-led Detroit movement, etc. are just a couple recent examples of American movements. The consensus was that maybe Brits just had the talent and the musical soul to put it down on paper and make the music live. (Of course, heavily borrowed from American soul, blues, and R&B influences of the time.) Interesting discussion.

Then we spoke about "football", or as we all call it, soccer. They have an ingenious system of promotion and relegation of teams (noticeably absent in the US.) As noted in Wikipedia, every year teams move up and down from the major league (in this case being the Premier League:

  1. Premier League (level 1, 20 teams): Bottom three teams relegated.
  2. Football League Championship (level 2, 24 teams): Top two automatically promoted; next four compete in the playoffs, with the winner gaining the third promotion spot. Bottom three relegated.
  3. Football League One (level 3, 24 teams): Top two automatically promoted; next four compete in playoffs, with the winner gaining the third promotion spot. Bottom four relegated.
  4. Football League Two (level 4, 24 teams): Top three automatically promoted; next four compete in playoffs, with the winner gaining the fourth promotion spot. Bottom two relegated.
  5. Conference National (level 5, 24 teams): Top team promoted; next four compete in playoffs, with the winner gaining the second promotion spot. Bottom four relegated, to either North or South division as appropriate.
  6. Conference North and Conference South (level 6, 22 teams each, running in parallel): Top team in each division automatically promoted; next four teams in each compete in playoffs, with playoff winner in each division getting the second promotion spot. Bottom three in each division relegated, to either Northern Premier League, Southern League, or Isthmian League as appropriate. If, after promotion and relegation, the number of teams in the North and South divisions are not equal, one or more teams are transferred between the two divisions to even them up again.
Imagine the fun and angst if the Kansas City Royals had to fight each year for the right to stay in MLB, or be replaced by the Buffalo Bisons or Toledo Mud Hens? What kind of drama and universal fan-ship this could garner in smaller cities all over the country. Would be a cool thing to experience. I didn't know much about this system until Bill Simmons wrote about his search for a team to root for a couple years ago. The one thing that they agreed was best about American style sports was the draft. In England, a George Steinbrenner led team team like Manchester United can simply bid for the best players each year. Imagine if LeBron James could go to a team like the Tulsa 66ers, bolstering their hopes to make it into the NBA, threatening the NBA lives of crappy teams like the then-Cavaliers. Teams who are consistently 20 games out of first would have no choice but to care, and the teams would have to try hard to keep up their fans' devotion.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

LeBron's "Image" problem? Page 2 columnist Jamele Hill had some serious issues with the way LeBron posed on the cover of Vogue magazine.

In case you haven't seen the cover, LeBron has Gisele in one hand and a basketball in the other. LeBron is dressed in basketball gear, with his muscles flexing, tattoos showing and bared teeth. Gisele, on the other hand, is wearing a gorgeous slim-fitting dress, and smiling.

She looks like she's on her way to something fashionable and exciting. He looks like he's on his way to a pickup game for serial killers.
And she says this after noting how careful LeBron normally is with his image, the way he dresses, acts, and speaks off the court. I suppose she has some interesting points, at least.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It's Official!

Terrell Pryor will be a Buckeye!

Friday, March 14, 2008

San Antonio is dirty

No wonder they beat the Cavaliers last year:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Time for a Friendly Intervention?

Say it ain't so Jeff! Tell me you aren't blowing this golden opportunity. Not during your greatest singles push that I see ending at the World Title!

I was saddened to learn that my new friend has been suspended for 60 days for his second violation of the WWE Wellness Policy. The first lead to your firing and absence from the WWE for four years. I thought those personal demons were behind you Jeff!

It was curious that you suddenly dropped the Intercontinental Title to Chris Jericho on Raw and now you've been taken out of the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania (which I predict you were going to win).

In the back of my mind, I wondered when I approached you in the bathroom of the Raleigh/Durham Airport, if you hadn't been partying a little too hard the night before. I didn't want to believe it, but you seemed more than just over-tired.

It's a sad day in the world of professional wrestling. You're a great worker Jeff. Please take this opportunity to get better. I suspected you will pay in the way of your push when you do in fact return, but with your explosion in popularity and work ethic, I'm sure you'll be back to main eventing in a few months. Randy Orton had been suspended and had a poor locker room attitude, but quickly became the Hevyweight Champion upon his return. Don't blow this Jeff! You are the future.... seize the opportunity and run with it!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I Hope We know What We're Doing

"Give Savage the benefit of the doubt" is what I said to Vox in a previous post. And I still agree with that. But the jack he's throwing at Shaun Rogers scares the crap out of me. Reports out of Detroit have said he's lazy, not a great locker room guy, and consistently comes into training camp out of shape. I liked the trade even though it was a bit of a risk... but if you're going to rework a contract like that, he better be one of the best D-linemen in the league. We'll see if the trade remotivates Rogers, but I think you need to prove something before getting that kind of a deal... especially when your reputation has come into question like that.

I hope Savage is really a lot smarter than everyone else like I think he is. I hope Romeo is the player's coach that everyone talks about to get Rogers to want to do things right. And I hope Shaun Rogers is motivated to prove everyone else wrong. For that money and commitment, he better be.

By the way... check out his diamond earing. Now he can even bigger ones.

Monday, March 3, 2008

At least he's happy

An interesting sidebar to the Cavs’ win over Chicago Sunday was Brian Windhorst’s brief pre-game interview with Larry Hughes. Here is what Hughes said to Windhorst and ABC’s Lisa Salters in regards to his “unhappy” two-and-a-half year stint in Cleveland. The quotes come directly from Windhorst’s blog. You can read the entire entry here:
“Some people take this the wrong way, but winning a championship is not what I base everything on. I was given an opportunity to play basketball, travel around and have fun doing it and that’s what I want to do. I was asked to sacrifice for the team (by playing out of his comfort zone at point guard) to win. That is what was told to me and I wasn’t happy with that. I wouldn’t take being unhappy and not being myself and winning.”

I’ve read few quotes that epitomize the prima donna athlete so precisely. What a noble “sacrifice” it must have been to play alongside LeBron in the Finals while underachieving on a massive contract that was strapping the franchise. Of course, we could blame Danny Ferry for offering that bloated contract, and Mike Brown for not using Hughes’s slashing skills properly…there’s little doubt the combination of those two factors conspired somewhat to effect his production and thereby his standing with fickle fans.

However, it became painfully obvious things were not going to work out here for Hughes. Too many injuries, too many bad shots, too much of the “square-peg-in-a-round-hole” feeling that came when watching Hughes and LeBron on the floor together.

Now Hughes can score his 20 points a night (on 25 shots) as the #1 option in Chicago’s up-tempo offense…I hope he has plenty of “fun” getting bounced by the one or two seed in the first round of the playoffs every year. On the upside, he'll have extra time to enjoy the trappings of the pro athlete lifestyle, which include getting neck tattoos, training pit bulls to kill, having one's Bentley shot up outside a nightclub, and siring children out of wedlock.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

That should be an exciting first 10-1/2 hours of the draft

Is it just me, or did the Browns now trade their first three picks in the NFL draft???

Maybe Savage is taking pointers from the Cavaliers after all...

Some positive signs of you-neh-tee

First of all, great post Froms, nice detailed breakdown of the trade, just the kind of insighted (not really a word in the King's English) post we need here, free of idiotic wrestling talk!

Living in Chicago for the last five weeks, I've only been able to see a couple Cavs games, and none since the trade. That should change Sunday when they're on national TV against, of course, the Bulls, a game that would have been on here anyway. I hope to get out and see them live in Chicago on Thursday. Of course the game I actually have tickets for is Bulls vs. Grizzlies or whatever Memphis is called on Tuesday...a game I have no rooting interest in whatsoever. I guess I can root for Drew Gooden in total good faith still.

WAIT--A break here, I just saw Steve Bellasari on SportsCenter--Wow two SC references in one night for me!! He threw for 210 yards, 3 TDs and 3 picks in an arena game. I'm sure Roger Brown is wondering why NFL teams aren't knocking down his door after that game.

Ok back to the purpose of my post. Didn't get to see the game live tonight vs. the North Stars, but the AP article had a nice blurb:

There may be even more bad news for the Cavaliers' upcoming opponents. The four players acquired in the Feb. 21 three-team, 11-player trade are meshing with their new teammates."Delonte is a push guard," James said. "I'm starting to realize I can just run the floor and get down the lane quicker. That's what I'm good at.""That's the result of more practices," said West, who added 12 points. "We have guys here who have been in the league. It's not that hard to pick up guys' tendencies."
Maybe everyone's getting on the same page, as Froms wished for, after all.