I like to think I can handle most scary things – psychos, serial killers, really aggressive dogs. But the one thing that scares the living hell out of me is the paranormal. The slightest hint of it and I’m running for the hills. And it’s not just movies like The Shining and The Ring. It’s campy and ridiculous things like Large Marge from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Ghostbusters, which I haven’t watched since the opening scene turned me into a neurotic, six year old mess back in 1988. It’s a sad state of affairs. I couldn’t even handle the trailers for Paranormal Activity. For weeks, I kept my eyes closed whenever I woke up in the middle of the night just to be sure I didn’t catch some specter standing over my bed.
So given my extreme fear of ghosts, I’m going to take an extreme leap in logic and assert that if anyone can identify them, it’s me. And I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I’m seeing in the cockpit (left window) of this plane crash that happened outside of Cleveland yesterday.
Agree? Disagree? And no, batshit crazy is not an option here.
LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan will join Everton in January on a short term loan. The Blues are bleeding goals and have an injury depleted roster and a woeful financial situation, so this is looking like a reasonably shrewd move by David Moyes. The loan market is loaded with rubbish, and while Donovan isn’t a physical player, he can add skill, pace and versatility at no risk. He’s like a Honda Civic, that one. Trouble is, he’ll be a Civic on the Autobahn, and I don’t think he has the heart, grit or tenacity for the ride.
That Donovan can be a cracking player when his mind is right is a fact that cannot be denied. If he musters even half of Mikel Arteta’s creativity while at Goodison Park, Everton will have scored a helluva bargain and Donovan will win a permanent job in Europe. But that’s a massive if for a man whose career has been defined by them.
"If he’d been more mature at Bayer Leverkusen…"
"If he wasn’t buried on the depth chart at Bayern Munich…"
"If he didn’t disappear in the 2006 World Cup…"
"If he hadn’t sailed that penalty kick into the night sky."
"If his head is in the right place…"
In a nine years as a professional, Donovan has spent the last five choosing comfort over sacrifice; whinging instead of leading; and choking when the lights burn brightest. Sure he’s been quality for the last six months but that didn’t stop him from flaking out in the MLS final – a match he should have owned. After a beautiful assist, he disappeared, only to reappear during the penalty phase and blow it. You know what he said about all that?
"I just put it in the air," Donovan said. "It’s probably partially due to tired legs and not concentrating in that moment… "I’m not sure what happened on their goal. It was pretty sloppy. But in the end, they probably deserved to get a goal at some point."
There is a spineless weakness about this quote that makes me ill. Great players focus when others fold, and when they’re beaten, all they can say is "too good. Get em next time" because they have no regrets. But then, Landon Donovan isn’t a great player is he? He could be. He should be. But right now, he’s just a good one who has flashes of brilliance against class competition. Sometimes he plays with tenacity and shocks the world. Other times you wonder if he left the match and got back on the bus.
Donovan will have but a few weeks to find his feet at Merseyside before he’s fighting to be more than a fringe, bench player when guys begin returning from injury and the African Nations Cup. According to some, it doesn’t matter because he has everything to gain and nothing to lose, but let’s be real. This is his fourth try in Europe. He is well beyond fool me once, fool me twice. He’s a footballer in his prime whose chance for a significant career outside the United States and true respect within it hinges on how he performs in 2010. He can’t just show up and play in Everton. He needs to show out. That’s a lot of pressure and adversity for a man with little experience with either one.
"What about Confederations Cup? What about his play in MLS? He rose to the occasion like never before!"
Donovan lead a team of underdogs in an improbable run to the Confederations Cup final and that should be applauded, but when was the team under any pressure to perform? And MLS, for all its improvements, remains a junior varsity league that he should dominate year in and out. That doesn’t require much grit. But pressure and adversity will be there in spades when Donovan tries to make an impact on a squad that is not only perilously close to relegation but also must continue its push in the Europa League knockout stages against a Champions League castoff. And unlike the Confed Cup and the MLS season, this time, the entire world will be watching. The British tabloids will give them no choice.
The last time Donovan went up against a legitimate challenge of any magnitude on the European club level, he took his ball and went home. In a way, it was the right decision, as he’s been able to stay in form. But what has his time in MLS done for his mental toughness? When has it really tested his tenacity? I wish Landycakes all the luck in the world on this one but I think history is about to repeat itself – not because he’s lacking in skill but because he hasn’t the spine.
I don’t have much of a clue about life, the universe or anything that matters, but one thing I do know is that most athletes are cheaters. It doesn’t matter if they’re men or women, in the professional ranks, college or high school, to paraphrase Chris Rock, an athlete is as faithful as his or her options. Naturally, the ease (and therefore likelihood) of infidelity is often directly proportional to the athlete’s status, skill and renown.
So when news broke about Tiger Wood’s International Cooze Tour, my only surprise was that people were, well, surprised. The shocked were divided in two camps:
- "How could he cheat on Elin Nordegren? She’s a goddess!" Yeah, she is. But show me one woman that no man would think of cheating on and I’ll show you twenty that only the strongest of men could resist.
- "I don’t understand. He was such a focused family man!" No, he’s a billionaire, larger than life athlete whose best friends are Michael Jordan and Charles "Around the Corner for a Blow Job" Barkley, two men whose four interests are money, sex, glory and the annihilation of anyone who interferes with that short list.
Unless you were a child or a naive fool, learning these things about Tiger shouldn’t have been shocking. The only real surprise here is this:
These are some nasty bitches.
When a man has the ability to not only sleep with 98% of the women on the planet but also be permitted to have degrading, dehumanizing sex with 80% of them, why opt for the paper baggers? And this isn’t just a problem that afflicts Tiger. A lot of men cheat with uglier and/or skankier women than they have at home. Maybe it’s self-esteem, maybe ugly girls are freakier and easier, maybe these guys are addicts who don’t mind dipping their puckers into toxic, cavernous wastelands. I really can’t say. The one thing I know for sure is if a man disgraced me with random infidelities, the broads on his ho stroll had better be top shelf tail whose natural beauty would cause even me to nod begrudgingly with understanding. It’s the least that cheating bastard could do.
At least then I could rationalise his behaviour. At least then, I could salve my wounds with the false belief that his fidelity was only compromised because a seductive temptress and her hypnotic vagina got in the way. But I tell you this. If he dared rub salt in my wounds by having sex with a woman whose face looks like a foot (see 3rd row, middle), I wouldn’t take it out on him with an ironic 6 iron. I’d have a fucking weapon. You want to disrespect me with other women? Fine. Pack your bags and go. But if those women are gutter sluts who look like they just got bukkaked at a truck stop, I’m gonna fuck you up and then call a couple of hard, pipe-hitting fellas to go to work on you with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. What’s that? I don’t need to get medieval? Oh, well you must be confused. You see, this is what happens when you cheat with a bitch who looks like a fried running shoe.
So a much delayed bravo to Elin Nordegren for taking action. Maybe next time, she’ll knock Tiger out on her own instead of having a tree and a fire hydrant handle the end game for her.
As I’m sure you’ve ascertained, I was appropriately pwned for betting on Radiohead in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Saturday. I know it was dumb but I couldn’t fight the compulsion. Sadness abounds. In any case, Radiohead never contended for the win and finished a middling 7th in the 13 horse field. On the bright side, this not so mighty emo steed surely hasn’t the skills to qualify for a Triple Crown race, so I don’t have to worry about foolishly screwing myself out of money in a few month’s time.
In other news, Eric Mangini, head "coach" of the Cleveland Browns took stupidity and hubris to a new level today when he refused to announce whether Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn will be the one whose life comes to a sad, unfulfilled end at the hands of Ray Lewis next Monday night. According to reports, Mangini knows who he’s going to choose but plans to make his QBs and, laughably, the Baltimore Ravens defense, sweat it out a little.
Ray Lewis should slap this bitch around just for having the nerve.
When you’re the conductor of the biggest on-field trainwreck in the NFL, you have no right to be secretive or clever or coy. In fact, as a dead man walking, you have no rights. The only things on your mind should be:
Mangini has struck out looking on all of the the above, but even worse is that he’s arrogant (or delusional?) enough to think the Ravens will buy into his bullshit. What, like they’ll develop two game plans? The Browns could start G-d and still lose by 30. Even G-d would tell ya that. What He’d also tell you and what the Ravens already know is that Brady Quinn will be under center on Monday night. Not because this QB selection process was like choosing between agony and despair and despair tasted a little better, but because throwing Quinn back in the mix at week 9 allows the Browns to boost his trade value without triggering $10.5M in performance incentives in his contract.
If I can figure that out, so can the rest of the league, Eric. It’s not rocket science. I just wish I could go back in time and un-do that Radiohead bet, so I could throw 5 grand down on the Frowns to be torn limb from limb, set aflame in a funeral pyre and then sent out to sea.
I would have been the winner on that one.
My gambling problems started at 13 years old. I was selected for a gymnastics team competing in an invitational in Spain; one of those trips where parents don’t come – just coaches. As the youngest person on the squad by about four years, I was stupid enough to do anything my teammates suggested. So when they started playing a card game called Between the Sheets (explanation), I dove in.
At first, it was just a pound here and there, but then I got on a roll and landed what had to be the Holy Grail of the game – a high ace and a low ace. "Bet the pot, kid! Bet the pot!" Back then, I was an albino outcast with mad athletic ability but no social skills. You have no idea how good it felt to be palling around with 17 and 18 year olds who were living and dying with your every move. So I did exactly what they told me to do, and, perhaps justly, went down in flames when another ace landed in-between.
As devastating as it was to lose, I’d never felt such a rush. From then on, when I wasn’t competing, I was gambling. The last of my £100 pounds spending money was lost to a 17 year old boy on the plane back home. We bet on the flight attendant’s hair color. Turns out she wasn’t a natural blonde after all.
These days, I’m backed by a self-replenishing gambling fund that keeps me from turning into Antoine Walker. Though I still betting on everything from horse races to sporting events to whether I can beat you in a footrace (you don’t want to take that bet), I like to think that I go about things with more smarts. But every once in a while, gambling nirvana sends down signs that force me to remove any amount of good sense from the equation. Case in point:
Radiohead, the impressive winner of the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot during the summer, has been sold to the New York-based owners of 2008 Kentucky Derby hero Big Brown for a crack at next month’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
IEAH Stables have purchased a controlling interest in Radiohead for an undisclosed fee, with current connections Carmen Burrell and Jonathan Harvey retaining a 10 per cent stake.
Radiohead will remain in trainer Brian Meehan’s care until Santa Anita but the colt’s future beyond then has still to be determined.
The deal represents a calculated gamble on behalf of IEAH, as Radiohead has yet to race beyond 1200 metres or on an artificial surface.
In addition to doubts about his stamina to see out the 1600-metre trip of the Juvenile, his new owners will also need to fork out the bulk of an entry fee because Radiohead was not Breeders’ Cup registered as a foal.
However, on the upside, his sire, Johannesburg, successfully bridged the distance gap from the Norfolk to the Juvenile during his unbeaten two-year-old campaign in 2001.
"IEAH have been keeping a close eye on Radiohead ever since Ascot, specifically with the Breeders’ Cup in mind," said Bloodstock agent Andy Smith, who helped broker the sale.
"He reminds me of Wilko, the horse Jeremy Noseda won the Juvenile with five years ago – a feisty, well-built sort who should do well out in America."
First, WTF on the Wilko bit? How random. Second, long time readers of this site know about my Radiohead fanaticism. The band captured my heart a good year before gambling did, so even though this mighty steed "has yet to race beyond 1200 metres or on an artificial surface," this whole thing just seems like destiny.
The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile race is today at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. Since I can’t beam myself to California from London, I’ll do the next best thing — get liquored up and hit Ladbrokes. Right now, Radiohead is a 20/1 but I’ve never been more sure of a bet in my life.
It’s no secret that Andy Pettitte has been my favourite Yankee and
stalking victim imaginary boyfriend since I was 12 years old. I adore him. I love everything about him.
Whenever this is revealed, I catch the usual flak — "Why not Rivera?" "Come on! Pettitte over Donny Baseball?" "Are you kidding? You ever heard of Derek Jeter?"
All things considered, their confusion makes sense. Unlike Jeter, Andy isn’t a superstar loaded with G-moments. He’s not flashy or outgoing or blessed with movie-star good looks. He doesn’t even have Cooperstown-worthy regular season numbers. But what he does have is the uncanny ability to raise the level of his pitching in baseball’s most pressurized situations.
Time and time again, Andy Pettitte has delivered without ego or excess, and while he’s had his stumbles (2001, anyone?), there is no one I want on the mound more when a season is on the line. I know he’s 37 years old and I know he’s pitching on three days rest, but tonight, I’m not fazed. Andy Pettitte’s career has been defined by games like this, and no one will stop him from delivering a 27th world championship to the New York Yankees. Not Pedro Martinez. Not Chase Utley. And not even Joe Girardi’s atrocious attempts at management. My man has got this.
When the Taliban was temporarily stifled in 2001, a more egalitarian notion of women’s rights took hold in Afghanistan. Women could walk around without burqas; they could vote; they could even escape abusive marriages by seeking refuge in women’s shelters. But having rights didn’t protect them from abuse. According to non-governmental agencies, nearly 90% of Afghan women have experienced domestic abuse. Since Afghanistan is a patriarchal society trapped in the stone age, these stats are really no surprise.
What is surprising, however, is that Ron Artest has come to their defense. Yes, that Ron Artest. The mercurial basketball player with the emotional stability of a bag of rats in a burning meth lab. Over the last few years, he’s become known for strong defense and:
Now, he has written and performed a song called “Afghan Girl,” which calls attention to the plight of many Afghan women.
Warning: Video contains uncomfortable and graphic images.
Too many of our athletes and celebrities sit idly on the sidelines even though they have platforms to affect change, so Artest deserves a lot of credit for what he’s trying to do here. The problem, however, is his execution is a hot ass mess loaded to the gills with irony and awkward moments.
I know that for Ron Artest, (in)sanity is a rapidly fluctuating continuum, so people might be afraid to speak up when he’s making woeful choices. But sometimes you need to protect a man from himself by putting on your bullet proof vest, helmet and other protective gear and saying, “Hey Ron, I appreciate what you’ve got going on here but let’s find another way. Try speaking to the media, visiting Afghanistan or raising money for awareness. Do anything but rap because bro, you’ve got less than zero skills and listening to you try gives me a massive case of the sads.”
Last night, Cliff Lee did the equivalent of dropping a smoke bomb in the Yankees dugout and then punching players in the face one by one as they blindly ran out. The biggest workout he got all night was when he had to adjust his legs to make sure Tim McCarver and Joe Buck had enough room to blow him at once instead of taking turns.
When someone is humiliating you without breaking a sweat, all you can say is "too good. Get ‘em next time." But as great as Lee was (and he was just frightfully nasty), the Yankees hitters were equally listless and uninspired. This was game 1 of the World Series and I saw no passion; no fire. By the 4th inning, this group couldn’t even be bothered. Taking cues from the indifferent, corporate non-fans who pay $2,500 for Legends seats and then fail to show, perhaps? Or maybe the flawed outcomes of the ALDS and ALCS lulled them into a false sense of security. Who needs to hit when a braindead, undisciplined opponent will cock things up for you?
I’m not saying Lee was hittable, but we didn’t make it hard on him either. Jeter aside, our players were defeated before they even reached the batter’s box. With that in mind, it’s not out of line to wonder if they’ll come to play tonight. The Phils are coming at us with Pedro Martinez and a patient lineup that can hit from top to bottom. The Yankees? Well, we’ve got the skittish A.J. Burnett, Joe Girardi’s management, middle relief that is cracking like a desert of burning shame and a lineup that can’t string together big run innings. Someone gets on base, only to be followed by a guy in a woeful slump, or, even worse, Nick Swisher, who is a case study in the failure of positivism to translate to post-season reliability. Then suddenly, it’s rally over, inning over, game over.
With the Phils, you know what you’re getting, but with our guys? One can never truly say and that’s what stresses me out. Tonight, we’re either going to blow Martinez back to the mango tree in the first inning or not bother showing up until the 8th. If it’s the latter, this will be a quick series indeed.
I stayed up until 4:30 am watching the New York Yankees win their 40th AL Pennant, and now I’m too wired to sleep. In light of that, I have a few random thoughts.
- Last night, Andy Pettitte worked the strike zone like an attentive lover. I wish I could trade places with it. I’d tell him myself but he’s yet to respond to the last letter I sent with locks of my hair in it.
- If Robinson Cano was a genre of music, he’d be jazz — one of those smooth Charlie Parker joints with cool, easy getout phrases and soft, sweet, fairytale solos. Though Cano’s defensive play ranges in quality, the way he turns double plays is absolutely sublime.
- Vladimir Guerrero is dumber than hair
- In related news, the bulk of the Angels roster is shockingly dumb as well. The words fundamentals and smart should never be used in the same sentence as “Angels” ever again.
- I mean, wow.
A: Aunt (Flash), I’m confused.
F: And I’m here to help.
A: Well, we are Warners.
F: Sure are.
A: And Papa says that makes us winners. (We have a lot of family pride. If we were chavs, at least one of us would have our surname tattooed in Old English across his or her shoulders)
F: Don’t ever forget it, hombrito. Papa speaks the truth.
A: Then why are we cheering for the Raiders? They are not winners.
– I had no answers for him. Sadness abounds.
A-Rod 2.0™ (that’s right, I trademarked that!) is a man possessed. He’s playing baseball like he needs to put food on the table, which is something I never could have imagined. But what’s more important than 2.0 playing out of his mind (or maybe he’s finally IN his mind?) is that our bats came alive, and Joe Girardi kept his non-managing behind on the bench.
For once, we didn’t eke one out and sheepishly tip our hats to brain dead plays from the opposition. With CC Sabathia and 2.0 leading the charge, we completely dismantled the Angels, and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. But watching 2.0 play like Roy Hobbs at Wrigley Field raises an important question about his past: Is Cynthia Rodriguez 2.0′s Memo Paris?
Before Cynthia (’95 – ’00)
18/53, .339 BA, .375 OBP, .566 SLG (World Series MVP in the making?)
Cynthia (’04 – ’07)
23/94, .244 BA, .372 OBP, .436 SLG (Pinch hitter in the making?)
After Cynthia (’09)
11/27, .407 BA, .469 OBP, 1.000 SLG (Oh my bloody G-d)
As you can see, that ravenous bitch sucked out 2.0′s life force and stored all his power in her biceps, so this theory is totally valid. But this revelation begs another important question – if Cynthia is Memo Paris, who is Iris Lemon? I’d say it is Kate Hudson, who is not only cute and friendly but also seems to be the first woman in 2.0′s life who can’t bench press him with her vagina’s labia majora. Then again…
… who’s to say who serves as Alex’s muse? All I know is that this person needs to be wary. A-Rod 2.0™ is in beta until the end of the 2009 season, and the last thing the Yankees need is some random glitch jacking up the final stages of installation.