12.25.10

Teaneck, NJ’s Most Celebrated Soccer Product Hosts A (Cramped) Xmas Kickaround…

Posted in Football, Merry Fucking Christmas at 10:45 pm by

…in which New Jersey-born striker Giuseppe Rossi allows his Villareal teammates to thoroughly trash his living room (video link swiped from Tuesday’s Guardian)

Psych Prof : When In Doubt, Ice The Kicker

Posted in Gridiron at 5:22 pm by

The practice of calling a timeout a split-second before an opponent snaps the ball for a crucial field-goal attempt has always struck this grouch as a bush league tactic, but the New York Times’ Judy Battista prefers to calls it, “one of the oldest bits of gamesmanship in football.”  And according to a September study by University Of San Diego adjunct professor of psychology Nadav Goldschmied, Ph. D., it’s very effective. So much so, there’s not much argument for not trying it whenever there are time outs available.  From Battista in Christmas Day’s Times :

Goldschmied (above) examined field goals over six seasons, 2002 to 2007. He identified 273 attempts that he considered œpressure kicks, those attempted in overtime, or with one minute or less remaining in regulation when the kicking team was tied or trailing by 3 points or fewer.

Of the 163 field-goals attempted when a timeout was not called before the kick, 80.4 percent were successful. But in the 110 cases when the kicker was iced, the success rate dropped to 66.4 percent, a 14 percent difference that Goldschmied ” and probably every coach in the N.F.L. ” considers significant.

Not surprisingly, kickers were more successful when their team called the timeout (83.3 percent), than they were when the opposing team did (64.4 percent). That is an indication that it is the element of surprise and disruption to the routine, not merely the extra time to think about the stakes, that causes the difficulty for kickers. The study found the success rate after icing was not affected by home-field advantage or the kicker™s years of experience.

œI was very surprised at the effect, Goldschmied said. œTwo things made a difference in successful field goals: distance of kick, which we expected, and the icing variable. The one thing is that there is rumination; it gives you enough to think about what is going to happen if you miss. I think maybe an additional mechanism is that you have a kicker about to kick, he™s ready and then they wait until the end and then ask for a timeout. Maybe the preparation itself is taxing.

The Modern Martyrdom Of Josh Hamilton

Posted in Baseball, Merry Fucking Christmas, Religion at 12:55 pm by

The struggles, salvation and subsequent baseball exploits of Rangers OF Josh Hamilton have been well documented, and while I’ve occasionally poked fun at his efforts to resist temptation in the past, on this holy day, I’ll take a different tact. Instead, I’ll wonder just what fucking planet a sports journalist is living on where he infers Hamilton is a genuine victim of bigotry. The Dallas Morning News’ Jeff WIlson provides Hamilton with a saintly soapbox on a Christmas morning that he’s dragging his kids to a homeless shelter (don’t worry folks, he’s not leaving them there).

By now, Rangers fans know that Hamilton certainly isn’t shy about his faith and his walk with Christ. He feels it’s his duty to tell his story in public forums, which he does many times throughout a given year.

The media presents the best vehicle for Hamilton to spread the word. He did so on ESPN during his remarkable performance in 2008 during the Home Run Derby, and he did so again on TBS in October while accepting the MVP award for the AL Championship Series. A month later, he was back on ESPN chronicling his journey after being named the AL MVP.

“My platform got even bigger,” he said.

But Hamilton never saw the initial interview in replays that day. Everything he had said about his faith was cut, either for time considerations or maybe for political correctness.

Hamilton, though, was only mildly bothered by the omission. He still says “Merry Christmas,” and he won’t be deterred when he sees an opening to give thanks to his Savior.

“It’s all throughout the Bible, people being persecuted in Christ’s name,” he said. “That’s the way it’s always going to be. Some people won’t understand it.

“The people who will be watching who need to hear it, will hear it.”

Assuming this isn’t just a cheap suck-up job directed at Hamilton acolytes in the Dallas area, Wilson could’ve asked MLB’s broadcast partners to confirm or deny whether or not Hamilton’s remarks were edited for any reason besides, y’know, redundancy. But if Josh Hamilton — as popular and celebrated an American pro athlete as any in 2010 — genuinely believes he’s a victim of religious persecution, he’s deeply delusional. I’m starting to think I liked him better when he was on drugs.

Jon Solomon’s WPRB Christmas Miracle : U-Stream Programming More Entertaining Than A Starbury Crying Jag

Posted in Merry Fucking Christmas, Radio at 3:25 am by

Annual edition no. 23 of Jon Solomon’s 24 Hour Christmas Spectacular is in progress as of this writing on WPRB.com. Please keep in mind, the broadcast already began earlier Friday night, so if Jon’s already played Culturcide’s “Depressed Christmas”, there’s no point in getting upset with him.

12.24.10

BWAA’s La Russa Roast Boasts Lukewarm Lineup

Posted in Baseball at 9:19 pm by

The St. Louis chapter of the Baseball Writers Association Of America has their annual dinner scheduled for January 16, and barring the last-minute confirmation of a Drunks With Guns reunion, the evening’s entertainment sounds less than scintillating. The Post- Dispatch’s Derrick Gold provides the details :

To mark manager Tony La Russa’s return for a 16th season in the Cardinals dugout, the writers have invited some of his close friends and formers players to join the dinner in a … ahem … toast to the club’s winningest skipper. If some of those friends and players also choose to needle, jab, joke or otherwise tease TLR, well we can’t be held responsible. They’re men, not machines.

Scheduled to fete La Russa are actor/musician Billy Bob Thornton, basketball coach Bobby Knight, and former reliever Steve Kline. La Russa’s managerial buddy Jim Leyland is expected to attend as well as some others from La Russa’s baseball career.

With all due respect to the organizers, how can they expect to charge $150 a head for a La Genius roast that doesn’t feature Jose Canseco, Scott Rolen or Cody Rasmus?

Raissman Suggests NJ-Based Football Coach Is Unfit For Duty

Posted in Gridiron at 2:29 pm by

Nope, not this one. With the possible exceptions of Larry Brown and Nick Denton, the person who was probably the happiest over this week’s Rex Ryan revelations had to be NY Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who not only presided over an epic choke job last Sunday against Philadelphia, but has seen his treatment of hapless punter Matt Dodge receive heavy scrutiny. Frequent sideline shots of Col. Coughlin going nuclear on Dodge or others Big Blue Boneheads create, in the words of the NY Daily News’ Bob Raissman, “a portrait of a coach as a lunatic.” And while the Gallagher-lookalike media critic admits such a portrait ought not to impact Coughlin’s job security in and of itself, the question is posed, “will his sideline antics, instability and temper tantrums work against him when the final assessment on his coaching future is made by Giants suits?”

“No, there’s no ‘Coughlin Rule’ in place,” said Richie Zyontz, the coordinating producer for Fox’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. “We see him enough to tell whatever stories need to be told with the amount of time we see him on the screen already.”

Whatever that “amount” of time actually is, it has been enough to seed the clouds of controversy. The pictures cut both ways. For those who like their coach fiery, that picture of Coughlin getting in Dodge’s face was high art, kinda like the Mona Lisa. It provided a tiny bit of psychological solace after a humiliating defeat.

For those who prefer their coach to appear in control, cool and calm under pressure, it was more than enough reason to suggest Coughlin is nothing more than a two-bit, out-of-control tyrant – a stone bully. These pictures flat out made Coughlin look bad, look like a nut case, in the eyes of millions of viewers.

A Shocking Display That Shamed All Of College Hoops :

Posted in Basketball at 11:24 am by

But enough about Doug Gottlieb’s shirt ; the fight between Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey was pretty wild, too. Said incident occurred while the pair were in the stands watching Utah and Hawaii in the Honolulu-hosted Diamond Head Classic. I’d like to think the pair were squabbling over whether or not there’s anything appropriate about naming a college basketball tournament after these guys.

12.23.10

Agent : Kyle Shanahan Lacks The Intricacies To Run An NFL Offense

Posted in Gridiron at 9:45 pm by

(with all due respect to the CSN correspondent quoted below, you cannot beat Mama McNabb for trenchant analysis)

If you were amongst those stunned to Rex Grossman throw 4 TD passes, acquitting himself rather nicely in Washington’s 33-30 loss to Dallas last Sunday, credit should go to an unlikely source.  According to agent Fletcher Smith, Grossman’s surprising performance was the partial result of the strategic acumen of the man he replaced, the (inexplicably) benched Donovan McNabb.  From CSN Washington’s Ryan O’Halloran :

œThere have been reports leaked of Donovan not being in shape and not being able to grasp Kyle™s offense, Smith said. œUnfortunately it appears as though the Redskins coaching staff decided that their 12-year veteran quarterback, who flawlessly executed one of the NFL™s most complex offense [in Philadelphia], is unable to grasp Kyle™s offense.”

Smith™s statement said friction between McNabb and Kyle Shanahan developed after McNabb made suggestions about the offense, œbased on intricacies Donovan has learned in his NFL career. For example, Donovan has asked all year that the team run more screen passes to help manage the pass rush more effectively. Ironically, Kyle decided to employ Donovan™s suggestions after he unceremoniously benched him on Sunday.

Rex Grossman passed for 322 yards and tied a career high with four touchdowns in last week™s loss at Dallas. Thirteen of his pass attempts (not counting a late-game spike) did not cross the line of scrimmage. Grossman was still sacked five times.

Finally, LeBron James Is Doing Something Nice For Himself

Posted in Basketball at 5:17 pm by

It’s my birthday tomorrow and big plans for the evening involve opening a bottle of wine and watching Michelle Ryan a Hollywood blockbuster on PPV. LeBron’s got a birthday coming up as well, and as CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel explains, “it’s the latest example of how removed LeBron James is from reality, doing things because he can — without ever asking himself if he should.” To fair, Doyel isn’t really considering the extreme lengths any rational person will go to avoid partying with Chris Bosh.

Reading from The King’s brochure, I can tell you that this “event will attract Athletes, Models, and Musicians. As well political figures, socialites, tastemakers and affluent leaders from various industries including Art, Business, and Finance.”

I can also tell you that “this happening will consist of a A-List crowd of multicultural, savvy trendsetters, and jetsetters that reinvent and set the tone for a chic lifestyle.”

Because that’s what I think of, when I think of LeBron James. I think of a savvy trendsetter, and a jetsetter who has reinvented and set the tone for a chic lifestyle.

Also, I think of a jerk who throws himself a million-dollar birthday party on South Beach, celebrating the late-December birth of his lord and savior.

WSC’s Worst Of 2010 : Fear Of A Steve McClaren Planet

Posted in Football at 11:42 am by

’80′s zine / current outpost for some of the globe’s funniest, most insightful soccer commentary, When Saturday Comes has published their contributors’ picks for 2010′s Best & Worst events/people/whatever, and while the entire thing is well worth your time, Matt Nation’s selection for “Worst” deserves special recognition. Particularly in light of a certain former England manager’s current struggles in Germany.

Worst ~ The fear that seized my inner organs when I heard that Steve McClaren was coming to VfL Wolfsburg. The thought of him repeating his linguistic gymnastics in the Netherlands and coming out with the sort of German accent last heard when Freddie Starr was molesting studio audiences in his swastika-clad Wellingtons was just too much to bear. Gratifyingly, he’s stuck to conducting post-match interviews in English, explaining his tactics primarily with the phrases “keep battling” and “keep believing”