Tuesday, March 18, 2008

About two weeks ago, I posted in this space to ridicule the Philadelphia Eagles for their terrible decisions this offseason. I couldn't conceive of a world in which a team could slap the franchise tag on LJ Smith and throw a mountain of cash at a cornerback who considers it beneath his exalted dignity to tackle. And then I took a quick look at the Oakland Raiders offseason transactions. Good thing I'm not a Raiders' fan.

According to John Clayton, Al Davis got the money to back his insane spending spree from selling non-voting shares in the Raiders. I wonder if the people who sprung for those shares are suffering from buyers remorse right now.

I think, and it's just me talking at this point, that when the dust settles, the trade and ludicrous contract extension that brought DeAngelo Hall to Oakland (at least until his next sideline hissy fit) will go down as the worst of these moves. Lest we forget, even as Clayton compared Hall to Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes, that this is the same man who whined to the league office that TO spat in his face (after TO torched him for two TDs in the game) and neglected to man up and throw down with TO.

It doesn't exactly sound like much of a pathway to the old Raiders mystique, is it? I can't say for sure what Hayes or Haynes may have done had a WR who torched them for two TDs compounded the injury with the insult of spitting in their face. But something tells me that their reaction might have been a bit stronger than crying to the League Office. I'm guessing guys like that just might have taken it upon themselves to kick the offender's ass. But maybe that's the difference between an NFL Hall of Famer and an overpriced fraud.

As you are all aware, the NCAA tournament is underway, and has been for a round and a half at this point. And all I can say is that I am very depressed. I tune into games desperately seeking the greatest broadcaster of all time and find that he isn't allowed to broadcast every game.

And don't give me any static about one man being unable to broadcast multiple games concurrently. Based on what I read from Bill Simmons and his legion of minions, Gus Johnson can eat lightning and crap thunder. So he surely can broadcast three different college basketball games in three different cities in three different time zones and fix the plot holes and inconsistencies in Shakespeare all at the same time.

I guess it's fair to say, at this point, that I am somewhat less than impressed by the cult of Gus Johnson. I've watched football and basketball games he's called for a few years now, and I just don't see what makes him so special. In fact, if I had to do some sort of blind test, a sort of Pepsi challenge for sports announcers, I don't know that I could tell the difference between Johnson and Kevin Harlan or Kenny Albert or mediocre broadcaster X.

This year's first round slate marked the longest span of time in which my sweet sixteen survived intact in at least five years. Generally, I lose at least one (and often a Final Four team) in the first set of games on the first day of the tournament. It's just a natural result of picking games based on personal animosities as opposed to logic and/or reason. But it can be embarrassing.

This year's casualty was UConn. And they played a very entertaining and nerve-racking game before falling in OT to the UCSD Torreros. The other teams I had picked to win in the first round who fell short were Winthrop (after watching Tom Tuttle from Tacoma fold in Communist indoctrination in Volunteers, I will never pick Washington State, plus they gave us Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Leaf), St Mary's, Arizona and Kent State. I didn't have any of those teams going anywhere, so it wasn't that bad a day and a half any way. For the moment, I am tied for first in the SIRSN challenge, with slightly better odds of winning than any of my competitors.

And as an aside and at the risk of making the same joke as 10 million other people, I should have seen this UConn loss coming. The UCSD Torreros were throwing Jim Jones' grandson at them, after all. It got me wondering as I watched the game, how many times do you think some friend's parent offered that kid Kool Aid without realizing that it was a trifle indelicate in his youth?

The Western Kentucky game was considerably more enjoyable for me, since I called that one correctly. Or more precisely, I guessed right. But this isn't the day for detailed game breakdowns. God knows, there will be at least 20,000 of them floating around the internet by this time. And there weren't any incidents that I feel compelled to complain about at length in the games.

However, there are a few things with which I had a problem in the last day and a half that I am sure will piss me off to no end before this tournament ends. Considering the fact that they are a division of Toyota and they presumably appeal to the higher end consumer demographics, I think the good people at Lexus owed us a little better or at least more imaginative ad campaign than this pathetic where did all the hs go drivel.

But the real villain of this tournament to this point has to be Coke. Maybe I am the only person who feels this way, but I hate the Coke Zero ads. The fake efforts to get a lawyer to sue Coke Zero on behalf of Coke for taste infringement were funny for all of about 13 seconds when they first came out a couple of years ago. Alas, even then the ads went on for 30 seconds, or at least 17 seconds too long.

Coke Zero doesn't taste like Coke. It tastes sort of like coke that has been distilled through a rag soaked in Windex. And don't ask me how I know what Windex tastes like, my childhood contained a series of ill-advised experiments which I am, in hindsight, lucky to have survived. The fact remains that these commercials weren't terribly imaginative to start with and have been on for far too long. And they play them fourteen times an hour it seems.

There is one more thing I need to complain about. Despite what Pat Forde would have us believe, I will not be rooting for Bruce Pearl and Tennessee this season. Or ever. Forde wrote a nice puff piece about the trials and tribulations Pearl experienced after he ratted out the University of Illinois for recruiting improprieties while he was an assistant at the University of Iowa. For that noble and self-sacrificing act, Pearl was blacklisted and relegated to Division II until he made such a success of himself his vast awesomeness could no longer be overlooked.

Truly it is a heartwarming story, until one recalls (as Forde admits) that Pearl taped conversations with the recruit in question to obtain the evidence to rat out Illinois. Despite the fact that I am myself a product of a Jesuit school, I do not find that the end justifies the means. One cannot really portray oneself as a martyr and a crusader for that which is right if one has stooped to questionably ethical means to do so. So it's not just that natty pale orange blazer that makes Bruce Pearl look ridiculous as he stands on the moral high ground, it's what he did to get there.

And if you need more convincing that Bruce Pearl is, in fact, a douche, don't forget that he went to BC, a notorious haven for douches from all walks of life. And he's a close friend of Bo Ryan, a noted douche in his own right, and the coach of the University of Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, Wisconsin, which is douche central in the Midwest.

No comments: