Monday, March 31, 2008

I am a genius!!!

By Bandwagon Burt
Wind Sock

I PICKED ALL FOUR FINAL FOUR TEAMS CORRECTLY.

After years of selecting only one seeds to reach the Final Four, I finally got them all, which puts me in FIRST PLACE in the annual office league. EAT IT, DAWN MINKOWSKI FROM ACCOUNTING. I hate that bitch. Every year, she finds a way to win.

But this year is 2008: The Year of the Burt. Upsets are great if you like unpredictable stuff, but in the end, people gravitate toward what they know, like their hometown or gateway drugs. And NORTH CAROLINA, KANSAS, UCLA and MEMPHIS. Hello, Final Four! This is the first time in history that all four No. 1 seeds have made it at the same time! The odds of that happening are ASTRONOMICAL -- something like 1 in 8.

But I was unable to choose winners in the semifinals because they're ALL SO GOOD. So I won't be getting any points going forward. That gives a slight edge to my co-workers, but I'll still behave as if I won the whole thing, whether or not I do. The celebration will include several outbursts of "La Cucaracha" and I'll also be wearing NEON GREEN on championship Monday.

FINAL FOUR ANALYSIS:

1. North Carolina. Hansbrough!

2. Kansas. Remember when they had Jacque Vaughn? Loved him.

3. UCLA. KEVIN LOVE

4. Memphis. Chris Douglas-Roberts-Derek-Rose. Haha, did you see how I hyphenated them together? That's awesome! He would be the best player in the tourney, if those two were hyphenated into one super player.

Don't count out Texas, though.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ron Stilanovich is awesome

If you haven't had a chance to watch the "Hardball Made Easy" series with Ron Stilanovich, do it now. Here are two teaching samples, involving Matt Kemp and Carlos Zambrano. Fortunately, there are others:



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Part Three: The poster on the wall



In another installment of our award-winning "heartfelt features" series, which perfects the long-standing journalistic tradition of writing dramatically about some stuff, we examine the damage fantasy sports is doing to American society. Today's story is the last of a three-part series.

The posters on the wall are the only sign anything is amiss, at least at first glance.

The apartment is well-kept, with dishes arranged in cleanly-dusted cabinets and a sanitary bathroom with a pleasing aqua blue peppered throughout. As single-bedroom units with a male tenant go, you could do much worse.

Affixed to the wall in David Benson's home office is a poster of Brian Westbrook, running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. It's one of those wall decorations a 10-year-old boy might have on his bedroom wall, with bulky lettering over an image of Westbrook cutting upfield.

The same poster can be found in Benson's bedroom. And another in the living room. And a different poster -- also of Westbrook -- can be found on the kitchen ceiling.

Suddenly, an onlooker becomes aware of other Westbrook references -- three identical bobbleheads atop the entertainment center, a photo on the desktop computer wallpaper, the Brian Westbrook jerseys hanging in the closet.

"First round pick, every year," said Mark Melheusen, a neighbor with whom Benson participated in an annual fantasy football league. "It never mattered what pick he had or what conventional draft strategy tells you. He always took Westbrook."

Harmless enthusiasm? Hardly. Witness the fixating madness of David Benson.

WEST OF EDEN

Benson doesn't currently reside here, instead sitting in a Bowie prison, awaiting the outcome of an appeal after being sentenced to five years for a parole violation. Benson sheepishly admits that he's made a handful of mistakes, and says he hopes he can get another chance.

"I never meant for any of this to happen," he said in an exclusive interview with Flotsam Media last week. "Especially the pain I caused Brian; that was totally out of line. I just lost touch with the things that were really important. I think Brian is a great guy, and I wish I had exercised better judgment."

He speaks as if he knows Westbrook, but the truth is, the two have never had a conversation. But Westbrook knows Benson, and the relationship is far from friendly. Benson's constant correspondence, in-person confrontations, and comments in public forums have gotten him to this crossroads.

"Everybody has a guy -- we call him the Sugar Daddy -- that they draft year after year," Melheusen said. "Nobody's ever taken it this far, though. David just let fantasy sports go way too far."

THE FAN

Nobody in the fantasy league is sure why Benson became so attached to Westbrook. It wasn't as if 2004 -- the first year of the league -- was the ideal year for the birth of such an obsession. A late-season injury to the Eagles running back cost Benson in the playoffs, though Westbrook had been a key cog in his regular-season championship team.

Despite the injury, Benson nabbed Westbrook with the sixth pick in the 2005 draft, and a 120-yard performance in the final week of the regular season gave Benson a playoff berth.

"That was when he really became a Westbrook fan," former league member Erik LaPorta said. "He never shut up about it, like Westbrook was the best running back in the game or something. He couldn't stay healthy though, that was the thing. I mean, he didn't do well at the end of the year because he was always hurt, but David loved that guy."

Westbrook was again a non-factor in the 2005 fantasy playoffs -- which coincided with the final two weeks of the NFL regular season -- but Benson was in the stands when the Eagles faced Seattle in the second-to-last week of the year, cheering on his favorite football player.

Westbrook ran for 17 yards and left the game with injury. A frustrated Benson waited after the game for hours, hovering near the player's parking lot until Westbrook emerged. Benson shouted at the player, asking in a hurt tone of voice why Westbrook hadn't gone back into the game.

"It was really kind of surreal," said brother Toby Benson, who traveled with David to see that game. "I tried to tell him that they didn't care about his fantasy team, but he was convinced they could do something about it."

The letters began a week thereafter, begging Westbrook to perform well for fantasy league purposes. They continued well into the offseason, with Benson promising that Westbrook would again be a first-round pick.

Mailroom attendant Jerome Barfield -- the lone Philadelphia Eagles employee willing to speak on record -- said the letters became so frequent, that everyone in the office knew the name of David Benson.

"That guy was crazy, dude," Barfield said. "He was saying some really absurd things, like the lengths he'd go to for Brian Westbrook and stuff. Have you seen Fatal Attraction? This was like that."

TOO FAR

If it had stopped at the borderline-entertaining letters, maybe it would have been no big deal. But in 2006 -- a year in which Westbrook really began to blossom -- Benson started showing up at team hotels. He struck up a conversation with Westbrook in the cereal aisle at a Philly grocery store, he found a way into a team postgame party, and he emerged from the swimming pool at the Embassy Suites when Eagles players were lounging before facing the Giants the next day.

Benson was warned several times, and the first restraining order went into effect shortly after a 122-yard performance against Dallas in the second-to-last week of the NFL season. A grateful Benson, who moved into the finals as a result, parachuted into an Eagles walk-through later that week.

But Benson violated his restraining order, and served a four-week prison term in early 2007 when Westbrook sat out a game with an injury. Benson appeared at Westbrook's rehabilitation clinic, carrying a sign that said "Get Well Soon, Brian."

He was released on parole in time to see Westbrook kneel on the one-yard line instead of surging into the end zone against the Cowboys in the third-to-last week of the NFL season, a maneuver that cost Benson a playoff spot.

The response: a series of phone calls to all of Westbrook's family members, as well as some of his neighbors, two former lovers and one of Westbrook's old college professors.

"In my mind, I wanted anyone who had his ear to know that I couldn't allow him to do that to me," Benson said. "I wanted him to know that I was so disappointed. We've been through so many years together, and I just couldn't believe he had done that to me."

Benson's case is another sign of the dangers fantasy sports bring to American society.

"He's obviously a very sick man, but it's the same argument as firearms," sports psychologist Barry Campbell said. "Is it the user, or the weapon being used? Fantasy sports have caused the lines between reality and non-reality to blur, and athletes are possessed objects instead of humans. David Benson simply could not tell the difference. I pity him, really.

"Also, I would never draft Westbrook over Tomlinson."

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Part Two: A missing man



In another installment of our award-winning "heartfelt features" series, which perfects the long-standing journalistic tradition of writing dramatically about some stuff, we examine the damage fantasy sports is doing to American society. Today's story is Part Two of a three-part series.

Where is Jon Gault?

It's a question wife Marie Gault has been asking for more than six months, but in a way, she's afraid to know the answer. The letter Jon sends her in the mail every other month or so reassures Marie that he's not in a ditch somewhere, but the postmarks always come from different locations around the Midwest, and he never gives hints of his whereabouts.

"He could send me an e-mail -- lord knows he spends the majority of his time in front of a computer screen," Marie said. "But he knows I'll be able to trace him then, and I guess he assumes I'd want that. I do, as it turns out. I really just want him to snap out of it and come home."

But Marie concedes that it's more than just a phase with her estranged husband. It's an obsession, and it all began with an invitation to join his office fantasy baseball league.

'NOT REALLY FOR ME'

The Gaults' story is another example in a long line of case studies showcasing the destructive nature of fantasy sports in relationships. In a remarkable dose of irony, they met at a sports bar in Indiana, when she was there to cheer on her beloved Indiana University in the NCAA Tournament, and he was merely there with friends.

"He liked sports, but he wasn't as passionate about it as I was," she said. "Not that I was a lunatic about it, but I loved the Hoosiers, and he was more like the guy who watched sports because it was something to do with the guys. Still, we hit it off instantly."

They were married two years later and by then, many of Marie Thompson's preferred sports interests had rubbed off on her husband. He started wearing crimson and cream on Indiana game nights, and he had become a relatively informed fan of the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago White Sox.

"It definitely got to the point where he was more into it than I was," Marie said. "But I didn't mind, of course. He was a guy, and guys like sports, so it seemed very normal to me."

She paid attention to his love for statistics. Jon was an actuary, and already had a keen interest in numbers and trends, so sports seemed to supplement his awareness of numbers.

"I knew some of my friends were in a fantasy baseball league, and I figured that would be perfect for him," Marie said. "But he said he liked cheering for teams and not individual players. He said, 'It's not really for me.'"

THE GAMES BEGIN

Somewhat on a whim, co-worker Brad Zystrad opened a fantasy baseball league for the 2007 season, and when Jon Gault received the e-mail, he found himself accepting immediately.

"He told me it was his first fantasy baseball league, so he was pretty excited," Zystrad said. "I've seen it before where guys get giddy once they think they have a handle on the procedures and stuff. He started asking a lot of questions about rules, and then he started talking about guys he thought were good late-round sleepers within a week."

Marie noticed the change immediately. Her husband started explaining the intricacies of the game to her, and she listened as attentively as she could despite her limited interest.

"I thought it was cute, to be honest," Marie said. "I was glad he found such a fun hobby. I pretended to be interested, and I guess I was a little bit. But if he wasn't talking about White Sox, I didn't care at all, and even then, I didn't know every player on the team."

Gault's interest level rose immediately and suddenly. Marie said he'd spend hours on the computer, neglecting household chores at times to constantly peruse stats and box scores. He began calling fantasy league members at all hours, sometimes at work and sometimes an hour or two after the couple was traditionally in bed.

She said it truly began to worry her when he backed out of a trip to visit her parents, feigning an illness.

"I really thought he was sick, but he spent most of that weekend checking his fantasy team," she said. "It occurred to me that he had made up the illness, and he was really hurt when I confronted him."

To Marie, the hobby crossed over into obsession at the point they began to discuss children, and she balked at the idea of getting pregnant, especially after Jon started talking about having a son and buying him a Johan Santana jersey.

Santana pitched for the Minnesota Twins, a team that was actually one of Chicago's rivals. But Santana was on his fantasy team.

"There was something that told me it wasn't the right time," she said. "The Jon I married had been a little harder to reach right then. It frightened me, I won't lie."

JON GAULT DISAPPEARS

Marie went from understanding wife to avid opponent of fantasy sports.

She called Zystad and tried to have her husband taken out of the league, a maneuver that led to yet another argument when her husband found out.

"I tried to tell him I was concerned that he was taking it all a bit too seriously," Zystad said. "But he just laughed it off. I stopped being subtle and finally told him his wife had come to me, and he was furious."

She even contemplated destroying the computer, but she knew he would find a way of feeding his habit. He could check his team on his cell phone and work computer. She said the last straw came when the couple was standing up at her niece's baptism.

"He got a cell phone alert that some player had gotten hurt, and he actually left the service to call a friend to get the guy out of his lineup," Marie said, with tears welling in her eyes. "Nothing else was more important to him than fantasy sports. Not even eating."

Marie said she could barely talk to her husband without some reference to fantasy sports coming up, and in defense, she stopped talking to him at all. Finally, she did destroy the computer, and did so without any explanation or apology. She prepared herself to leave him, but she didn't have to. On the morning of August 18, Jon Gault disappeared.

"I assumed he was in the garage or in another room checking his team on his cell phone," she said. "But he wasn't there. He wasn't anywhere."

Jon left a message on the counter, saying he needed some "time to think," and he did not call his wife until two days later. He told her he was fine and was staying with friends for a while. He called once more later in the month, and then stopped communicating at all, except for the letters that began to trickle in.

"I don't know what he's doing for money," she said, noting that he offered no notice to his employers before disappearing. "I don't know where he's living or how he even gets his Internet access. But I bet he gets the last part. I'm afraid that might be the most important part to him."

Have you seen Jon Gault?

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Monday, March 24, 2008

"He betrayed what made fantasy sports great."



In another installment of our award-winning "heartfelt features" series, which perfects the long-standing journalistic tradition of writing dramatically about some stuff, we examine the damage fantasy sports is doing to American society. Today's story is Part One of a three-part series.

Doug McAvoy, 29, can't pick up the phone and give Jason Schulters a call, even if he wants to.

Any hopes of a redemptive moment, a heart-to-heart initiated by one side of this bizarre standoff, were deleted along with Schulters' phone number when McAvoy wiped it from his address book.

"I don't know any of these numbers by heart, so if they're not in my phone, then I don't know them," McAvoy said, smiling as he perused a list of American League sleepers on one of several fantasy sports Web sites he frequents. "I'm sure I could get the number from someone if I really wanted it. But I knew when I erased him that I would never want to speak to him again. And so far, that's still the way it is."

They are a troubling cautionary tale, in a world where fantasy sports have become a staple in the lives of countless Americans, including what seems like the majority of males ages 18-35. As the trend reaches its pinnacle in the new millennium, so does the higher frequency of unhealthy abuse, and borderline obsession.

"It creates a fantastic environment for people, and sometimes the borders between fantasy and reality are blurred," said Dr. Mitchell Marbles, a Stanford University professor who has studied the effects of fantasy sports on society. "There is a lot of strategy and role playing, which can be beneficial, but there is also a high quotient of egoism and hyper-masculinity, and sometimes that can be very explosive."

Fantasy sports is at the center of the estranged relationship between McAvoy and Schulters. Some view the game as harmless fun. Others view it as the new Dungeons and Dragons, embracing a new kind of nerd. But others see it as one of the most destructible forces in modern America. Like poverty, only digital.

DAWN OF AN OBSESSION

Schulters and McAvoy were inseparable in college, both coming off the bench for the Sandusky State baseball team and spending hours playing baseball together and rooming together. They shared a fandom of the Cleveland Indians, and often attended games at Jacobs Field.

"Sports is common ground for a lot of guys," Schulters said, sipping his malt liquor as he watched the first round of NCAA Tournament. "For Doug and me, sports was as important as anything. People say you should care more about politics and what's going on overseas and stuff like that, but I can't do it. To me, ESPN will always be more important than CNN or C-SPAN."

Schulters watches his game with a keen eye, having involved himself in two separate "NCAA player drafts," which rewards the competitor with the most combined points among 10 drafted players in the tourney. He estimates he participates in 16-20 fantasy sports teams each year.

As juniors in college, Schulters said he and McAvoy joined their first fantasy baseball league, a crudely-organized creation operated by one of the duo's dorm neighbors.

"We were into it right from the get-go, but Yahoo! Sports was just getting started and this guy kept a lot of the stats by hand," Schulters said. "We thought he was crazy, but it was a lot of fun. We would trade superstars like nothing, never thinking twice, because it was such a new thing. We were just having a good time with it."

By the time Schulters and McAvoy graduated, fantasy leagues began cropping up regularly on Internet sites, and participation began to spike. In order to stay in touch with some friends from school, Schulters coordinated a "dynasty league," in which three players were kept by each team from year to year.

"For a couple years, that league was one of the coolest things I'd been a part of," McAvoy said. "We ended up creating a league for the same eight guys in three different sports -- football, basketball, and baseball -- and we even had traveling plaques for the winners. It was a hobby of ours. We were all really into it, and that made it something special."

Both men admit they found themselves preoccupied with fantasy sports a lot. Schulters was warned by his boss at work for checking fantasy updates on his office computer too frequently, and McAvoy began subscribing to several fantasy sports newsletters, and even writing one of his own. He joined four other football leagues for fun each year, often with the intention of dominating lesser-skilled players in "open" leagues, in which a mostly anonymous collection of owners took part.

"I played in a lot of leagues, but nothing compared to the college one," McAvoy said. "That was my only keeper league, and it's the one that I considered the major league. All the other leagues were just tuneups and goofing around."

The college league -- affectionately referred to as the Sandusky Oldschool Fantasy Association (SOFA) -- ultimately became the wrench that tore apart this friendship.

FRIENDS NO MORE

Both men married their college sweethearts three years after graduation, and both served as best man in the other's wedding. They bought houses not far from campus, two towns over, and lived within a mile of each other. Most weekends were spent playing cards or going out to dinner with spouses in tow, and the women would generally talk about the events of the day while the men discussed -- what else -- fantasy sports.

But in 2006, something went wrong. McAvoy was coming off a spectacular fantasy football campaign, in which the running back tandem of LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson had led him to an easy league championship. McAvoy had used a late draft pick the year before to get Johnson, who was suddenly thrust into fantasy stardom after an injury to Chiefs' teammate Priest Holmes, and McAvoy kept both superstars heading into a record-setting 2006.

"We gave him his props -- he built that team fair and square and it was great that he had so much success," Schulters said. "The buy-in was up to $100, so he made about $700 out of the deal. I was happy for him, but it's no fun if someone has all the power."

Shrewd trades had given McAvoy an unstoppable keeper assembly of Peyton Manning and Antonio Gates to accompany Tomlinson and Johnson, and other members of the league came to Schulters asking that the league go back to "re-draft" status, allowing everyone to draft anew and throw keepers back into the general pot.

"They just wanted the playing field to be leveled a little bit," Schulters said. "I could totally understand -- I mean, who wants to fork over $100 when it looks like they have no chance in hell of winning? Doug's a great guy, but he gloats a lot when he's ahead, and I think it was just becoming a bit unbearable. Guys were threatening to back out, and I didn't want to lose the league, so I made a decision."

Realizing the move would greatly disappoint McAvoy and force him to surrender the players that had allowed him to win back-to-back league titles, Schulters put the "re-draft" concept to vote and it passed, 7-1.

"Football didn't just re-organize itself because the New England Patriots won a bunch of Super Bowls," McAvoy said. "Baseball doesn't just call a do-over because the Yankees have all the power. I put in all the hard work and sweat and foresight, and I was getting penalized because I was too good. It's not fair."

For the first time since college, the format of the SOFA changed, and McAvoy was the most outspoken opponent.

"People look at that $100 dollar entry fee and say it's a small price to pay for fun," McAvoy said. "Well I look at that $700 as a mortgage payment. They're stealing money out of my pocket. Once you start messing with my finances, then I get really upset."

McAvoy confronted Schulters when the men and their wives went out to dinner the following weekend. He pushed his former best friend to the ground and was asked to leave by restaurant management. His wife didn't speak to him for several days, but he responded the way he always did to newfound stress -- by pouring over rankings, cheat sheets, draft strategies and anything else that reminded him of fantasy sports.

"Fantasy sports is kind of a sanctuary for me," he said. "It's what I'm good at, and it's like listening to soothing music or watching your favorite television program. It helps me relax. When it gets taken out from under me like that, it makes me feel really alone and angry. I know that's hard for a lot of people to understand."

THE DISABLED LIST

A rift has developed between these two men, one that McAvoy says will never be repaired. Schulters hopes he's wrong, but he's not knocking down McAvoy's door, either.

"I was really irritated at first, because I felt like he was crossing that line where fantasy sports shouldn't interfere with real life," Schulters said. "But our league is better off without him, really. It's more laid-back now -- guys don't have to worry that they're going to get a call at 2 a.m. from Doug, and get badgered about making a trade before finally agreeing so they could go back to sleep."

Schulters also said McAvoy could not have a normal conversation without referencing fantasy sports, and so it wasn't a big deal when McAvoy and his wife moved several towns away, or when a series of DVDs on loan from McAvoy suddenly disappeared from Schulters' living room, with the back door left broken in.

"It would get to the point where I'd want to talk about his wife, and he's say 'She's fine, but did you see what Manny Ramirez did yesterday?' Schulters said. "The guy just doesn't know when to stop. Sometimes, you have to let people like that go."

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Are you kinda funny? Can you spell? Do you think today's sportswriting landscape needs at least one more hackneyed, recycled opinion?

Marv Blackstone
Editor-in-chief


Attention, loyal Flotsam readers. The hard-working staff here at the Internet's leader of unfounded, biased sports opinions is looking for some additional talent.

Have you ever dreamed of writing unpaid blog posts for a website composed entirely of either un-informed or over-informed writers who allow their personal biases to color every word they write? Has anyone besides your Mom ever told you that you're funny?

If so, apply to be a Flotsam staff member today!

We're looking for a writer who can contribute 1-2 posts per week, and can lend some new ideas to our burgeoning media empire. Got a great character idea? Thoughts on possible new features? We'd like to hear them.

Benefits include:

- No pay
- Weekly au natural webcam chats with me, Marv
- Having your pseudonymn published for a growing Internet audience
- A faint sense of journalistic-moral-superiority

Interested? If so, send a writing sample or two, and an idea of what sort of "writer" you'd like to be, to flotsammedia-AT-gmail-DOT-com.

If you're awesome, we'll be in touch. If not awesome, we may accidentally lose your e-mail.

Apply today!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bracket-urology

The West

By Bandwagon Burt
Wind Sock



How will the West be won in 2008, haha?! There are SO many good teams in this portion of the NCAA Tournament, it HAS to be considered the toughest region in the tournament, besides the East and maybe the South. Hello, UCLA – is there a LOVE DOCTOR in the house? – is easily the favorite to win the whole thing, but how can you ever discount the greatest college sports franchise of all time, Duke? And look out for Professor X and Connect-I-Cut in the Sweet 16.

The way I see it, there are only a few teams who could win the regional: the ones I’ve already mentioned, plus BYU, Drake, Purdue, West Virginia, Arizona, Texas A&M or Belmont. Between Duke, Drake, BYU and Purdue, there are probably more white people in this bracket than any other, which means GREAT DEFENSE and lots of 3-point shooting. I love the DUKIES, who will be the second-seed, and think they could be the team to beat, unless they get upset by West Virginia, Xavier, Purdue or Connecticut.

UCLA, of course, has the LOVE DOCTOR, along with lots of other guys that are really good. Kevin Love has carried his team all year, and even though they’ve played in a lot of close games, there’s no substitute for a PAC-10 TITLE. Plus, they’ve been in the Final Four the last two years, which means they’re really experienced, even though their best player is a freshman. So, they’ll probably win the bracket.

But Duke is really good, and XAVIER! Anytime you have a school named after one of the best X-Men in history, you know they’re going to do well. They have mind control! More importantly, they have David West, who is a beast for the New Orleans Hornets.

I TOTALLY FORGOT BAYLOR WAS IN THIS BRACKET. Forget everything I just said, UPSET CITY BABY. I like Baylor to get to the Elite Eight and lose to either UCLA or Western Kentucky. Can you imagine if Drake played Duke in the bracket? THOSE NAMES ARE TOTALLY SIMILAR, and they both wear blue in the jerseys. I would be so confused which team was which. I guess the difference is that one team would have COACH K GENIUS MASTERMIND calling the plays. Drake’s probably not going to get that far though, unless they shock the world and beat Connecticut.

The South

By Dakota Brezinski
Seven-year-old



Austin Peay! It sounds like pee! Peay Peay pee pee.

Silly Austin, he should change his name so people don’t always say mean things, like “Austin, do you have to Peay, because the potty is over there!” Maybe it won’t matter because Texas will beat them in the first round of the South region. Texas is still mad that Kevin Durant went to the NBA, and they are going to teach him a lesson. Poor Austin Peay.

Tanner also thinks it’s funny to say “Oral Roberts” all the time, but I don’t get why. I don’t think it’s funny to make fun of a man who loves Jesus so much. What if Jesus sends lightning down to kill Tanner? My favorite part about Oral Roberts is that their eagle likes to beat people up. I think they will beat Pittsburgh, because the eagle will kick the hurt Pittsburgh players like Levance Fields.

I am also cheering for Temple and St. Mary’s, because they also remind me of Jesus. Mary was Jesus’ mommy, and she bought him gifts like gold and Frankenstein. I think Frankenstein is scary, but not Jesus. He was not afraid and said, “ I will now make a bunch of loaves of bread and wine.” I can’t drink wine yet, but someday, I will sneak into daddy’s liquor drawer and try some.

I don’t really know much else about basketball. I like Tigers (rahr!), and Memphis has some, so they’ll probably win the whole thing. Tanner says only smart people play for Cornell and Stanford, so they will probably do a lot of thinking when they play against each other, and talk about math and science and then hit a couple baskets. I hate math and science, but do you know what I love? DUCKIES. So I’m cheering for Oregon, too.

The East

Marv Blackstone
Editor-in-chief



That Bruce Pearl is a crazy sonofabitch. Wearing orange, sweating a lot, hugging Erin Andrews. I'm sure you all saw that recently on Deadspin or something. You didn't see it here.

I used to cover Bruce as a coach back when he was at Southern Indiana University. I had taken a job a small Evansville weekly after being fired from the Boston Globe -- I siphoned gas out of my editor's car when I was short on cash -- and got to know him pretty well. I have a story about me, Bruce and three transgender Vietnamese midgets that I could tell, but I won't.

OK, fine. I will. One night, Bruce and I decided to an interview at the local Asian cuisine dinery. I always got the fried rice. Bruce always got the fried rice. He would sometimes tell them he wanted the "flied lice" and they would laugh a lot, and I would laugh a lot, and so would Bruce.

That night, we were talking about his team's postseason chances when into the restaurant wandered these three Vietnamese midgets. As usual, I was doing the interview with a fair amount of Scopolamine in my system, and things were foggy. The night was foggy. The midgets were short.

I got up to go to the bathroom, because I had had two burritos before coming to the Asian Cuisine place. I was in there for about 30 minutes or so. When I came back out, chaos reigned. Bruce was naked and sweaty, and rolling around on the floor, which was covered in a six-inch layer of shrimp flied lice. Two of the midgets were naked, and the other was smoking a cigarette while standing on stilts, near the corner of the restaurant. There were two ducks gallivanting about near the service counter. The guy on stilts was talking to the shopkeeper about the skyrocketing price of fennel. As Bruce hoisted one midget high into the air, he paused, then dropped the poor little fella. The midget hit the floor, hard.

Bruce stood back and observed the three midgets, the shopkeeper and myself.

"My GOD!" he exclaimed. "Look at you! You're in a 1-2-1-1 formation! That might actually work! There's no way I can get through this!"

Still naked, he ran across the rice-covered floor and outside. He hopped in his car, and sped away. And that, my friends, is how Bruce created his infamous full-court press scheme.

That sort of moxie and innovation is what I like in a coach. That's why Tennessee is my pick to win the East Region. Book it, hombres.

The Midwest

By Dr. Charles P. Ipswich IV
University Professor



Oh, you silly Americans and your round-ball. You exclaim that March is your time for madness, implementing the alliterative name because you feel it captures some sort of idealistic passion for sporting. I must tell you that your version of madness is inconsequential; for true madness, you should consult Thomas Lovell Beddoes, who became fixated upon death in his writings, and eventually killed himself.

That, you wankers, is madness.

Alas, I am here, so I may as well tell you what to expect from the Midwest Region of you bracket.

First, do not pick Kansas to win anything. Coach Bill Self is the modern-day equivalent of King Harold II, who seemed promising but was then destroyed during the Battle of Hastings. You may not understand this analogy, but it because you do not have tenure on the faculty staff of a major Ivy League institution.

Mmm, yes, diamond.

My teams to watch are Georgetown, Vanderbilt and USC. Georgetown has a lovely History Department, and a beautiful colonial campus where one can spend hours losing himself in the library, whether you want to study things ranging from John Burgoyne to Isabel of Gloucester.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, is represented by a Commodore, which, as you know, is equivalent to Brigadier in the British Army. This demonstrates a passion going beyond most other teams in your round-ball gaming tourney. Yes, you cannot go wrong by employing the quiet strength of a Commodore, especially in his dazzling uniform.

USC has OJ fucking Mayo. Watch out.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's all Bud Selig's fault


By Lynn DeBerg
Housewife



Bud Selig. Disgusting.

I'm sick of people defending him, throwing out "the game has never been better" as the world preps for yet another season of baseball. First of all, the man looks like a vampire. My son plays those awful video games on the X-Box, and one of his games has a bunch of evil characters that look just like Bud Selig. The man has obviously never heard of botox. Or antibacterial handwash. Anything to kill whatever is eating his face.

Second of all, how can you get behind a man that allows tie games to happen all the time? It was bad enough that the All-Star game in 2002 end deadlocked, but now baseball's first game in China has also ended in a tie. Where is the outrage?! I don't understand why one exhibition game infuriates a population, and the other is allowed to pass by without anyone noticing.

I'll tell you why; it's because people today don't like to make decisions. I was just talking with Susan Rowe next door about this. You see it in schools, you see it in the workplace -- everyone wants somebody else to make the tough calls. The world embraces wishy-washiness. Thank god for women. Also, nobody cares about anything that doesn't happen on their own soil. Turn on CNN once in a while, America! I flip to it for 90-second increments every day during Young and the Restless commercials, and you'd be amazed what you can learn.

I read the article about the tie game in China, and noticed this extraordinary bit:

Baseball is virtually unknown in China, and Major League Baseball is trying to cash in on a growing middle class with money to spend. Chinese fans, however, noticed what seasoned fans seldom do.

"The Dodgers uniforms look very good, flattering with a nice cut," said Sunny Fan, who identified himself as a professional "fashion consultant."

Sunny. Fan. Fashion consultant. Indecision, foreign outsourcing, and now even homosexuals are ruining baseball. I just think it's sad.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm no underdog

By Cinderella
Animated Icon


Look, I know I'm not the most attractive Disney creation, and I never had a Vera Wang dress to wear to the Prince's Ball, but I'm not exactly a hag, either. Have you seen my stepsisters, for example? Nasty, nasty wenches. By comparison, I like to think of myself as modestly cute.

That said, is it really SO surprising that I eventually hooked up with the Prince after the big night? I know I had a little help from the Fairy Godmother, but I'd probably equate my situation to an 11-seed beating a six in the NCAA Tournament. Sure, it wasn't expected, but was it totally out of the realm of possibility? No.

So here we are again, at the cusp of another tournament, and my name starts coming up on every ESPN and CBS broadcast. Somehow, I have become the poster child for underdogs everywhere -- specifically college basketball underdogs. Sure, I had a nice career in high school as an intramural point guard, but I've certainly never done enough on the basketball court for people to make this association.

Any way you slice it, I just don't want to be thought of as that girl overcoming unbelievable odds. Winning over the prince may have been unlikely, but not as unlikely as George Mason reaching the Final Four or Hampton beating Iowa State. All this Cinderella talk is like someone saying I'm the recipient of the Most Improved Player award. Did I really suck that much to begin with?

Pick somebody else to be the longshot. Everyone loves talking about David and Goliath, so why does that stop come tourney time? Maybe Davidson is this year's David, eh? What about the Patriots during the Revolutionary War? Broadcasters love Patriots, after all. Anybody ever heard of Hannibal (no, not the face-eater in Silence of the Lambs, you uncultured twits)? How about Robert the Bruce?

This probably has something to do with ESPN insisting on calling the 64-team tournament "The Big Dance," involving a series of punched dance tickets. Honestly, I haven't needed a ticket to go to a dance since I was in middle school, and if I did need one, they would probably have bar code scanners instead of hole-punchers. And why in a sport portraying masculine athletes do we need to name them after the girliest of girls? It's a pretty strange comparison, folks.

But whatever. I'm cheering for North Carolina this year (seriously, why are we even TALKING about Michael Beasley as Player of the Year? Get back to me if Kansas State gets into the Sweet 16), because nobody is going to call them Cinderella anytime soon.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Bob Costas. Douchebag.

Marv Blackstone
Editor-in-chief


It seems that Bob Costas has chimed in with his opinion of bloggers. Apparently, and disappointingly, he hates them.

But it's one thing if somebody just sets up a blog from their mother's basement in Albuquerque and they are who they are, and they're a pathetic get-a-life loser, but now that pathetic get-a-life loser can piggyback onto someone who actually has some level of professional accountability and they can be comment No. 17 on Dan Le Batard's column or Bernie Miklasz' column in St. Louis. That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective.''

Bob is one of sports journalism's most smug and pedantic personalities, so we shouldn't be surprised by this. Naturally, he whipped out the "parent's basement" argument, which is the sportswriter equivalent of Godwin's Law. Use it, and you fail.

First of all, Bob, I live in a shack in rural Montana -- not my mother's basement. Second, I have a life. It involves waking up late, eating dozens of strips of bacon for breakfast, and standing on my front step in my untied bathrobe, shooting at deer.

What the hell makes you any better than me? I've worked at "real" media outlets. And you know what? They suck. Content is dictated by space, which is dictated by how much advertising is in that day's paper. The sportswriters themselves only land in prominent positions by sticking around long enough, or having favorable connections. Christ knows it's not because of talent. Have you ever read something by Bill Plaschke or Woody Paige? Once writers land in those roles, they do one of two things:

1. Write safe, boring fluff stories to satisfy their editors
2. Intentionally try to drum up controversy by spouting blustery, unfounded nonsense.

Both of these approaches exist only to help the writers keep their jobs.

I'm not sure what made you so reactionary and defensive about blogs. Is it because you're threatened that some upstart is going to take your own job? I think that's unlikely. After all, no one does a voice-over story about an Olympic athlete whose dog tragically died from hip dysplasia better than you. We don't want to take that away.

No, all we lowly bloggers want is a voice (and maybe a house of our own!). I think most readers are smart enough to know which voices they should listen to. The guy who argues that Alex Rodriguez is definitely gay, on a blog titled, "Red Sawx 4ever, Bitches!" doesn't have much credibility. No one will take him seriously. So what are you afraid of?

However, there are bloggers who do good work. They break stories and work hard for scoops. They're constantly posting news and information, usually faster than the real media outlets. They take their work seriously.

We here at Flotsam don't take our work that seriously. We're all goddamn nutbags. But through the beauty of the Internet, people still want to come read our site every day. It confuses the hell out of us at times. Maybe if the "real" journalists offered up something new for once, readers wouldn't need to seek out the sports opinions of a seven-year-old, or a deranged war veteran, or a high school socialite with no actual sports knowledge.

But as long as thousands of sportswriters continue to write boring stories, filled with antiquated ideas that shred whatever small bit of credibility remains in the world of sports journalism, there will be a place for us.

Thanks for that, Bob. Tell your colleagues to keep up the great work.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Brenda's BMOC All-Stars

By Brenda McDonald
High School Socialite


So, like back in November, I picked my pre-season All-Americans, which was really hard because there are a lot of hot guys who play Division 1 basketball, and none of them had played a game of basketball yet. Now that we're in championship week, when everyone goes like super-crazy for these tournaments that don't even matter if you're in a major conference, it's time for my postseason picks.

Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina. So I already said that he was like, super hot without that awful mask from last year, and he spread his hotness all over the ACC all year. Have you totally seen that picture of him side-by-side with Beaker? Like, Muppets are totally endearing. If I ever had a fantasy about getting with a Muppet, it would be Tyler Hansbrough. Oh my god, shut up, don't look at me like that. You've totally had that fantasy, too.

Kevin Love, UCLA. Dreamboat! Like, if I had known that he was going to be so muscular and hot, I would never have put Darren Collison as the UCLA representative on my preseason list. He's suuuuuch a stallion, and he's like 32 years old, which makes him even hotter. Plus, he has that total porn name, which adds to his mystery, and probably guarantees addition to something else. And you know how I feel about running along the beaches in Southern Cal. Like, I love me some Love.

Michael Beasley, Kansas State. Tattoos are yummy when affixed to the right arms, and nobody has hunky guns like Mike B. When he's rich and famous after going as the top pick in the NBA Draft, I really hope I can find a way to get invited to parties at his mansion. Last year's parties were so lame after Greg Oden got all hurt and stuff. Injured basketball stars are gross.

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame. I really usually take a pass on players who are a little fatty, but Luke is like strong, and Notre Dame was really good because of him. And hello, I totally have a strong Catholic background, and he's from the most Catholicest place on Earth, and his name is Luke. He's like a prophet. That's so hot.

D.J. Augustin, Texas. At some point, I like totally need to have a guard, because they're so much easier to make out with in public. It's so not cool to see a 6-foot-13 guy hunched over while you try to make everyone else in the room jealous. But DJ is smaller, and quick and definitely dreamy. I could be his Southern cowgirl.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

People I've Impersonated

DeJuan C3PO
Fly Scribe


Dog, there is some funny funny shit coming out of the world of soccer, probably the most entertaining story about soccer ever. I've seen soccer games, my bitches, and it's like watching body paint dry. An entire sport dedicated to foreplay and no scoring. Shit dog, I've read "No Exit" by Jean-Paul Sartre. I know what hell looks like.

Anyway, some Italian cat claimed he was Nicolas Cage, and the Real Madrid soccer team fed him a nice meal and was like, "damn, that's Nic Cage!" even though the guy had an accent. Seriously, couldn't you figure that shit out? Didn't you make him say "Carla WAS the prom queen" and giggle, cuz The Rock is the bad-assest movie of our generation?

Stupid soccer players.

But it reminds me of the many times I have impersonated someone famous to gain entry to a club, restaurant or amusement park. Don't pretend like you ain't done it! Dog, the world is damn expensive, and you have to take every advantage you can get.

My three favorite instances:

1. In 2003, some fine kitty in Miami thought I was Ricky Williams and ushered me to this bitchin gala for High Times Magazine in a downtown high rise. Dog that was fun, even if the details are foggy. Problem was when they started asking me to wear a wedding dress for some photo shoot. Dog, it don't matter what I'm smoking, I ain't wearing no dress. I got my pride.

2. Spring training 2004, I told the Los Angeles Dodgers I was Guillermo Mota, started speaking pretend Spanish and throwing gas in some split squad games. Dog, the commercials tell you Visa is everywhere you want to be, but apparently they don't count the Dominican Republic, cuz Mota was hella late and the Dodgers needed a middle reliever. I probably shouldn't have started spreading a rumor that I got down with Paul DePodesta's wife, cuz that little nerdy man never forgot it. The real Mota showed up before the regular season, but his ass got traded to Florida before the deadline.

3. I got myself a VIP club pass in Beijing one summer after I told the bouncer that I am the glorious Orlando Bloom. Shit I was the life of the party, until someone who actually had seen Lord of the Rings said I wasn't no Orlando Bloom, that O-Bloom is a white guy with pointy ears. Do I look like the nerdboy who watches that shit? Dude has a black first name -- Orlando Jones, anyone? Orlando Cepeda? I wound up getting kicked out. Gotta bring my pointy ears next time.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Snip snip

By Agatha Moonfry
Staff Writer


We have entered the weeks of the bracket, when sports enthusiasts who have no interest in college basketball suddenly become ravenous fans, cheering for perennial heavyweights to exert their will on lesser, helpless programs in an effort to preserve their office pool and the $20 worth of potential reward.

It reminds me of fonder times, when I would trap chipmunks in the family garage with Marquis de Sade -- my dear, often under-fed 225-pound rottweiler. The value of this exercise was intrinsic, however, and not monetary.

But something new has come about that has tickled my fancy in this NCAA season. An Oregon urology clinic is encouraging men to use this time to recover from a vasectomy. You need 2-4 days to recover, apparently, which I find delicious. Oh, to be the happy housewife on days five through 10.

The article notes this clinic will deliver a recovery kit, including sports magazines and free pizza delivery. In other words, the clinic is looking to give men their American dream -- guilt-free sex, junk food, sports periodicals and four days of nothing but Greg Gumbel's curious mat of hair, split screen televisions and buzzer-beating baskets.

Men are so passive in their love of March Madness. I prefer to get involved, flying to substandard arenas across the country during Championship Week and storming the court with irresponsible college students, regardless of my cheering allegiance. With any luck, I will be seen on national television no fewer than three times, and will have no fewer than four random hook-ups, inspired by the alcohol intake and throes of ecstasy available shortly after an NCAA tourney berth.

If you are lucky enough to encounter the Moonfry during this electric time in history, be respectful. Otherwise, your vasectomy won't be accompanied by pizza and Sports Illustrated.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Dude, I am your father



Dusty Baker
Evil Incarnate


The destruction is almost complete.

As I have taken control of the Cincinnati Reds this spring, I will graciously lend my knowledge to them. They shall soon see the way to power. They will learn that anger, not patience, is the way to dominance.

Ignoring the traditional wisdom of most men, I have gone down a path less-traveled -- a path that most men are too fearful to face. In my plan, my Opening Day outfield will consist of Norris Hopper, Corey Patterson and Ryan Freel.

Impressive. Most impressive.

In training, I recently told young Joey Votto to give into his aggression. I wanted him to feel the power of swinging the bat, and letting the fear of a called third strike take control. Feed your anger, I told him. Feel the power course through your veins.

Incredibly, the young man disagreed with me, saying that he preferred an approach based on patience. I find his lack of faith disturbing.

I've encountered similar troubles with Adam Dunn, who waits for an eternity at the plate. He will take suitable pitch after suitable pitch, often drawing a walk. A man that large should unleash his fearsome swing at every opportunity. He is as clumsy as he is stupid, I've come to find out.

(breathes heavily)

Search your feelings, Adam. Embrace the power of the Dark Side. As you stand in the box, wield your bat and swing ruthlessly at each and every ball. I pay no mind to what your pithy notions of the strike zone may be. Aggression is power. Do not pacify your approach at the plate.

As for you, young Jay Bruce, you underestimate the power of the Dark Side. Corey Patterson has embraced the power. You, unfortunately, remain resistant. Should you continue to ignore what I present to you, you will face your destiny: Triple-A Louisville. Trifle me not with your top prospect ranking. I am most displeased with your apparent lack of progress.

Your thoughts betray you. You know you feel the desire to swing at that 3-0 fastball on the outer edge. Do not resist. I will not accept walking, as that is the path of the weak. The only option is to swing, and swing hard. You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy the baseball.

I know the ways of the Force, young Reds. Aggression is the path to dominance. Only by giving into the Dark Side can you reach your ultimate potential. Swing hard, and swing often.

Now, young Bruce. Do you wish to finally learn from the Master? Give in to your fears. Let them soak into you. Feel the hate.

Yes, yes. The Force is strong in this one.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Fly away, Brett

Jonny Dave Floyd
Southerner


Momma was the one who told me. I was in the kitchen when she hollarred for me. I still remember the conversation like it was yesterday. When Jonny Dave changed and won’t never be the same.

Momma: Jonny Dave! Come ‘ere!

Me: Why, Momma? I’m busy.

Momma: Busy? What’re you so busy with?

Me: I was outside playin’ and I got dirt all down my pants. No I’m tryin’ to get it out.

Momma: You got what where? And you’re in the kitchen? Jonny Dave!

Me: Momma, how else am I gonna get the dirt out unless I pull my pants down. Just quit talkin’ to me right now and let me finish. I’m almost done.

Momma: Jonny Dave, you hitch up those britches right this minute and get in here. You know good and well that you’re not allowed to take your pants down in the kitchen. Now come ON. I got somethin’ to tell ya.

( I hitched up those britches and went in the livin’ room)

Me: What do ya want Momma? The dirt’s makin’ me real uncomfortable.

Momma: Well just quit pickin’ at yourself for one minute please and listen. STOP! Ok…I just saw Brett Favre on TV…that’s your favorite foot ball player, right?

Me: Yeah, Momma. He’s my favorite. But only because he’s awesome and smart and super hand-

Momma (interruptin’): Ok, ok. I get it. (sigh) Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I saw Brett Favre on TV sayin’ that he’s retired. There, I told you. And he was cryin’ like a baby, too. Now you can go back to pickin’ dirt outta yer crack or whatever it was. Just please do it outside or in your room.

Me: Wait, what? Momma what are talking about.

Momma: Jonny Dave, I don’t wanna see your pimpled butt in the kitchen or anywhere near me or worry about you backin’ up against our food with that nasty thing. Please. Just take it up to your room or outside or somethin’.

Me: No, Momma. I don’t understand about Brett. He’s tired? Of course he is. They had a long season. Anybody’d be tired. He’ll be alright, though.

Momma (with her head in her hands): Jonny Dave, why ya gotta make stuff so hard? You know what I mean. Brett Favre ain’t playin’ football anymore. He’s gone! He’s retired! And he’s a crybaby, apparently. Deal with it.

Me: Momma, you better shut yer face right now. First of all, Brett Favre ain’t NEVER gonna quit playin’ football. He loves the game. He’s like a kid out there on the field. Or ain’t you heard? Second of all, there ain’t NOTHIN’ wrong with a man sheddin’ some tears. Brett’s a REAL man. Like ME. And the only retirement today is gonna be me retirin’ as your son and the ceremony’s gonna be takin’ place up in my tree in about 2 minutes! I HATE YOU!

(I stormed out, slammin’ the door behind me.)

Momma: I love that boy so much and I’m so proud of him. I wish I could be the momma he deserves. I’m gonna sit her and cry and think about how I can be a better momma.

Actually, I can‘t be for sure, that’s what Momma said when I ran out of the house because I was already halfway up my tree by that point. I like to think that’s what she said though.

I spent the rest of the day and the better part of the night up in my tree. I didn’t wanna believe it but, deep down, I knew it was true. I just kept thinkin’ about all the good times I had with Brett. Him playin’ football games. Him throwin’ footballs. Me cheerin’ him. Him runnin’ around like a kid out there. The stadium’s like a church or somthin’ to him, ya know? All the nights I stayed up late in my bed just thinkin’ about Brett. Those were beautiful times.

While I sat in my tree recollettin’, a little baby bird flew down and got caught in my mullet. He sure was wild and unable to be tamed. I untangled the lil’ fella and took a good look at him. He sure looked like a gunslinger bird to me. Right then, I took it as an omen and named the birdie "Brett." Brett had come back to me. I planned on raising that bird as my own kin. I would call Brett the bird “son” and he would call me “father.”

As I sat in my tree and pondered all the things I would teach Brett, things my daddy wasn’t around to teach me, I felt something slimy and warm in my palm. Oh no. This wasn’t good. I guess I was holdin’ Brett too hard and he, well, it was pretty nasty. He pooped in my hand. Daggum, there was a lot of it, too. I was so grossed out that I let go of Brett. He flew right at my face like a kid or somethin’ and pecked me in the cheek, almost takin’ out my left eye. I slapped at the wound with the poop-covered hand and smeared that stuff all over my face and in the peck-wound. There musta been some pee in the poop because it immediately started stingin, from the ammonia, I suspect.

Between the pain and Brett flyin’ aound my head like a little kid up there just havin’ all kinds of fun, I started to lose my balance. I swatted at him to he wouldn’t peck my eyes out in love. He was havin’ too much fun to worry about consequences, I guess. I yelled out, Son, leave your daddy be! But it was too late. My butt slipped off the branch and I fell outta my tree and landed right on my back.

As I lay there, I thought about what it all meant. I felt so alone. My heart hurt. I was pretty sure that I might never walk again. Then I saw Brett up there flyin’. He looked like he was havin’ so much fun. He was like a kid up there. Flyin’ around. Havin’ fun. It was beautiful. I was so proud of him. That’s when it hit me. I knew what it all meant. That bird. That bird that got caught up in my mullet. That bird was Brett. Or Brett’s spirit, rather. And poopin’ in my hand. And tryin’ to peck out my eye. And chasin’ me outta my tree. Well, that was just Brett’s way of tellin’ me that it was time to let him go.

So, I gotta let him go be Brett off somewhere else. And that’s alright. Because it’s time. And because I couldn’t catch him anyway even if it wasn’t time. And realizin’ that. That took me to tears even when I thought I was all cried out. Only these were tears of understandin’. Go your own way, Brett. We’ll always have football. We’ll always have Thansgivin’. We’ll always have poop. But I can’t never all the way let you go, Brett. THAT just ain’t in me.

I’m almost all cried out now. Y’all be good.

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You're a bunch of peckers

By Jonathan Livingston
Seagull


For years, I have kept my beak shut.

There are many stages to grief, and many more when you consider the limited capacity of the average bird's brain. It's tough to move on when you re-realize every so often that you've lost someone you love. Eventually, of course, I coped with the death of my brother, Josiah, coming to terms with the possibility that his death was an accident.

But now, I have a partner in the cold, cruel world of birds vs. balls. And I refuse to hover idly by.

Some poor hawk was just minding its own business when a PGA golfer decided he would take it down with a 9-iron, bringing bird cruelty to a new level. As birds, we have been subjected to countless random acts of sports violence, merely for trying to survive in a world that -- let's face it -- doesn't exactly make it easy for feathered friends.

Which brings me to Josiah. I can tolerate the dissatisfaction with the general public in Detroit when we descend on the moths living in Comerica Park, and I can accept that nobody in Kansas City appreciates it when my neighbors The Buzzards start circling Kauffman Stadium in mid-July. But bird murder is another matter.

Surely, you all remember my brother as the dove killed in Tucson by a Randy Johnson fastball during 2001 Spring Training.



I can't even watch that video without tearing up. Suddenly, my brother was gone, reduced to a tuft of feathers and fractured bones. And what has happened since? Have there been memorials dedicated to this dove, who stood for peace and understanding? Have their been honorary first pitches or other pregame ceremonies recalling his memory? Of course not.

Instead, he's been the butt of jokes, featured on highlight reels and video packages, usually accompanied by a giggling John Kruk, with relish dripping off his chin as he clumsily smears it away. Randy Johnson saunters around with his long hair and strangeness, completely unrepentant of his crime. Everyone thinks it's funny!

Well, no longer. I have been inspired by the murdered hawk, and I officially file legal suit against Randy Johnson, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Major League Baseball, SportsCenter, YouTube, John Kruk, and humans in general. I hope you're all prepared for a fight.

Ooh! Is that birdseed?!

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sports aren't as important as you think

By David Harrison
Sports Fan


I love sports as much as the next guy, but every once in a while (especially now, when there isn't much going on in the sports world), it's important to remember that there are other things going on elsewhere on the planet.

I mean, just how important is sports in the big picture, anyway? Things like politics, international conflict, the environment and economics are far more relevant to our day-to-day lives.

For example, yesterday it was revealed that Barack Obama raised $55 million for his ad campaign in February -- roughly $20 million more than Hillary Clinton in that timeframe. That is some chunk of change! It makes A-Rod's contract look not so bad after all. I think it's also going to leave us with some interesting questions -- I mean Hillary is gaining in the polls even though Barack is raising all these funds. It's like the Oakland Athletics -- how do they keep coming back and thriving when teams are spending and spending?

Wow, look at that, I started talking about sports! I guess I'm just so used to it -- but anyway, there are better analogies and more important things in the world. I mean, we're talking about the next President of the United States!

You think John McCain is going to have a head-start by taking the Republican nomination so early, while the Democrats are still battling it out? For me, it's hard to say. I don't think Cornell has a better chance to win in the NCAA Tournament just because they got the earliest bid, and this is pretty much the same thing. Except I suppose John McCain is better than Cornell. He's like Memphis or Tennessee.

Speaking of, Tennessee came so close to losing the other night. I was actually cheering for Florida (you know, the state that could decide the Democratic nominee) to crush that smug Bruce Pearl.

Whoops, there I go again. My bad. Did you see that Southwest Airlines was flying unsafe airplanes as recently as last March? I flew Southwest for business, and that really freaks me out a little bit. How do these people think they're going to get away with it? I think it's bananas that the Western Conference is so deep, that a team like the Blazers might not make the playoffs. Brandon Roy, that guy has been ROCKING, and it would suck if he didn't get to at least be this year's Golden State Warriors.

I'm sure you saw the coverage this morning of that bomb attack in Jerusalem, which is really awful. I was flipping back and forth between the Brett Favre press conference -- he was practically bawling his eyes out as he officially announced his retirement. I can't even envision the NFL without Brett Favre. Whatever though, I cheer for the Vikings, so this can only help matters.

It's terrible that Patrick Swayze has cancer or whatever. My wife loves Dirty Dancing. God, I can't wait until this spring training garbage is over and we start playing real baseball games. And the NCAA Tournament! LeBron James is a manchild of epic proportions. Tiger is going to be the face of golf for the next century. This is interesting: police just arrested a Russian arms overlord, but yes! That guy in my fantasy league passed on Russell Martin in the third round and he is MINE MINE MINE.

Football-tennis-soccer-lacrosse-nascar.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Backflippin' is for trannies

Jonny Dave Floyd
Southerner


Jonny Dave Floyd is the NASCAR expert for Flotsam Media. Jonny Dave is unable to fulfill his dream of becoming a “fightin’ man” in the armed forces because of various hair-length restrictions for males. However, he currently shows his support for the U.S. military by refraining from French kissing and wearing a set of dog tags that he had made up at Petco.

These past two NASCAR races have made me just sick. Sick of seein’ what’s become of the sport I love. Two weeks in a row of seein’ a daggum backflip at the end of the race? A backflip! The only time I wann see a daggum backflip is if I’m watchin’ daggum cheerleadin’ practice and the backflipper’s wearin’ some kinda daggum lil skirt thing. Now I gotta see them things at the end of a RACE? By a DUDE? That ain’t how I wanna end a perfect day of sittin’ on the couch, eatin’ corndogs, and watchin’ fast cars go in circles. That ain’t no happy ending in Jonny Dave’s fairytale.

You know what it’s like? It’s like you meet this nice lil chick-a-dee that really blows your hair back. You go to courtin’ her and it all goes real good. Finally, ya pop the question and she accepts. Then ya get married. The weddin’s just like you always dreamed it would be with all your friends and family there to celebrate the beginnin’ of the holiest of matrimonies.

The reception is dang near perfect with plenty of corn dogs, grape soda, and line dancin’. Your best man catches the garter and the maid of honor catches the bouquet and then they hook up in the men’s room later. Couple dates are gonna be awesome from now on. When you leave, you take your new bride to the good Best Western down the interstate. You know which one I mean. The one with the indoor pool and hot tub and free cotton-ental breakfast.

When ya get to the room, ya find it’s got two queen beds so y’all get to do it twice before ya need to call for new sheets. Ya sweep her up and get her on the bed and it’s time for all that courtin’ and Freedom kissin’ to finally pay off. You’re thinkin’ that it’s the perfect end to the perfect day as ya tear off that weddin’ skirt. Oh man, there’s about to be some righteous lovemakin’ goin’ on. But, tender and sensitive, too, ya know? Anyway, ya get that weddin’ skirt off the bride, look down, and ... huh? There’s a daggum trouser snake winkin’ up at ya. SHE’S GOT A PECKER! A big one, too. Bigger’n yours, anyway. You married a DUDE! He probly does backflips, too. QUEER!

What I’m gettin’ at is that second pecker moment just taints everything leadin’ up to it. It’s cancelled out all those good feelings and it leaves ya with a sour taste in your mouth. There just ain’t nothin’ right about it. Just like there ain’t nothin’ right about seein’ some fruity backflip after a race. They’s both tragedies that end the same way -- with an angry Jonny Dave.

And that’s why Carl Edwards doin’ backflips is just like accidentally marryin’ a dude.

Uh, except I’ve actually seen Carl Edwards doin’ backflips and the other stuff was strictly a hypothetical situation. It never happened. Ya hear me? It was all made up.

Other’n that, though ...

it’s exactly the same.

That’s all I got. Y’all be good.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Death is like, sad

By Brenda McDonald
High School Socialite


I know what death is like, and it totally sucks.

Like, 5 summers ago, my family had a guineau pig named Einstein. We called it that because it's hair was really all over the place. It totally smelled and grossed me out, but I still cried a little bit when it died. It got run over by the lawnmower. Fur was like, everywhere.

So when someone like, really famous dies, it's super tragic. I was so sad when Heath Ledger died, for example, but I'm even sadder that Brett Favre is dead.

Brett is totally like this southern gentleman who is like, always smiling and laughing and probably smells really nice. Have you ever read "A Time To Kill" by John Grisham? I so haven't, but I saw the movie with dreamy Matthew McConaughey, and it was really good. That's what Mississippi is like -- lots of like, violence and alligators. And so Brett Favre sort of rose above all that to make a career in the NFL.

Seriously, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel needs to get with it ... they totally have a typo on his "in memorium" logo thing at the top. They said he's only been alive since 1992. Hello, he's not 15 years old. He's like, sixty.

Anyway, everybody is talking about Favre now, and sharing memories and totally loving him from beyond the grave, and that's really sweet. When my grandma died when I was little, we would go to her cemetery and sort of, like, talk to her. Grandmas are so great, and so is Brett Favre. I told her that I wanted to be a superstar cheerleader when I grew up, and that I just got the cutest pink dress for the Little Miss Oklahoma pageant. I was like, maybe someday I'll get to be a cheerleader in an NFL game. Maybe I could even be with a football player like Brett Favre. Never, like, give up on your dreams.

I don't think I'll go to Brett Favre's grave or anything, but I'm totally going to watch all the highlight packages and teary farewell speeches on SportsCenter tonight. Oh my god! He's so lovable. Like Teddy Ruxpin, except Southern and football-ish.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Randy Moss is a cancer

By Bandwagon Burt
Wind Sock

You know what, SCREW Randy Moss!

We didn't need him anyway on the Patriots. All this talk about him going to another team, talking to Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper and anyone who will listen? That's garbage! Let him go. Let him leave the Patriots and see where it gets him. He'll be out of the league in two years!

You know there's more to being an elite wide receiver than touchdowns. He's not a leader! He's not a hustler! He hates everyone who isn't telling him how great he is 24/7! LOSER! Just because he catches a lot of touchdowns doesn't make him so great. Why didn't he have great seasons before this one? I'll tell you why: TOM BRADY.

Without Brady, Moss is just an unhappy attention hog who can't catch anything. Tom Brady is the engine and Randy Moss is the windshield wiper. EASILY REPLACEABLE. If you can figure out those clips and nuts and bolts -- I hate those things!

I hate his stupid dreadlocks and stupid assault cases. He's a distraction! In New England, it's about being AMERICA'S TEAM, being a leader and a star and a great face. Randy Moss is just a guy who catches the balls that are thrown to him perfectly, through three defenders. Do you know who else was useless? Donte Stallworth and Asante Samuel. If it weren't for those guys, the Patriots would have been Super Bowl champions!

While I'm on my soapbox, is GEORGE STEINBRENNER'S SON CRAZY? talking about how Red Sox Nation is a make-believe thing. RED SOX NATION IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. Last I checked, the Yankees didn't have any World Championships in the last eight years. But the Red Sox have two!

Don't get me wrong, I still love the Yankees. But they're bananas! JOSH BECKETT FOR MVP.

As for the Patriots -- I can forgive cheating and the coaching weirdness (as long as it's the GENIUS BILL BELICHICK), but someone wanting to play for someone else is totally against regulations. Once a Patriot, always a Patriot!

Update: 4:30 p.m. MOSS SIGNED! Unfinished business in Patriots Country/Red Sox Nation my friends! Super Bowl chaaaaaampions, here comes the Patriots!

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