Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In Case You Haven't Noticed...

Teapot Dome Scandal isn't being updated anymore. For those looking to hear my off-the-charts, zany spin on the zany world of sports, go to

For those of you who don't care what the topic is, as long as it's written by Dan "Zany" Hopper, you can just go to and read the English words there.

In the meantime, I've also moved some of our more "Classic" Posts up the homepage. (Classic, meaning, read by more than 12 people)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Steelers down to final three candidates in search of coach for Pittsburgh dads to complain about

Looking to uphold Bill Cowher's legacy as the most complained-about-by-dads coach in Pittsburgh history, the Rooney family has presented the following questionnaire to the Steelers' final three coaching choices - Russ Grimm, Mike Tomlin, and Ron Rivera - in the hopes of determining the one with the highest potential for dad complaints.

1. Are you Chuck Noll? Circle One: ( / NO)

2. When will the Steelers win the AFC North again?
-A- Within the next three seasons, so we can say you just inherited good players.
-B- Not within the next three seasons, meaning you'll be fired and demonized.

3. How would you describe your general offensive philosophy?
-A- Aggressive: Always going for it on fourth and short and never kicking field goals in the red zone.
-B- Too Conservative: Punting for field position, running when you have a lead, and NEVER WINNING A SUPERBOWL (except for when you win the Superbowl)
-C- Balanced: No such thing, same as B.

4. One of your players takes a late cheap-shot at the opposing quarterback. What do you do?
-A- Discuss the matter with the player privately and defer questions from the media, meaning you've lost control of the team.
-B- Assure the media "It will never happen again," even though you know it will because you've lost control of the team.
-C- Tell Jack Lambert "nice play"

5. How visibly emotional emotional can you get?
-A- Extremely emotional (if you choose this one, your being emotional crap has already gotten old)
-B- Never emotional, meaning you don't care and/or you've lost control of the team.

6. Of the following players, whom would you choose as your starting quarterback?
-A- Bubby Brister
-B- Neil O'Donnell
-C- Kordell Stewart
-D- Tommy Maddox
-E- Whichever one you're not starting

7. Which of these following hypothetical situations can be blamed on the head coach?
-A- Your quarterback throwing four incomplete passes inside the 10 yard line on the final possession to lose the AFC Championship to a greatly inferior Chargers team.
-B- Your quarterback throwing two interceptions to lose the Superbowl by 10 points to the winnegest franchise of the 1990s.
-C- Your quarterback throwing three interceptions to lose at home to the Superbowl-bound Denver Broncos.
-D- Your quarterback throwing two interceptions in the final three minutes and your special teams allowing two touchdowns to lose to the Superbowl-bound New England Patriots.
-E- Handing the ball off to Jerome Bettis in an attempt to seal a playoff victory on the road against the Colts and having Bettis fumble. You won the game, but still, I mean, come on.
-F- All of the above.

8. Who is your coaching mentor?
-A- Bill Parcells. You wish.
-B- Marty Schottenheimer. Not sure exactly how he taught you to choke like that in the playoffs every year, but he obviously got the message across.
-C- Don't try to pretend you weren't Schottenheimer's disciple in Cleveland. We're not stupid.

9. What do you believe is the most important position to address in the draft?
-A- Offensive Line. A lineman, again? How bout we draft a damn receiver?
-B- Wide Receiver. You really want to waste some picks on guys like Troy Edwards and Plaxico Burress? Give me a break.
-C- Cornerback. Why bother, you know whoever's back there is gonna suck.
-D- Linebacker. What?? We already have good linebackers. How bout a damn tackle, our O-line sucks.

10. Finally, how would you best describe yourself?
-A- As a hard-nosed, no-nonsense, blue-collar, cut-and-dry, hard-collar, matter-of-fact, down-to-earth, guy who literally wears a blue collar that is really hard and whose nose is also really hard and possibly with a second blue collar underneath the first if it's cold.
-B- If you even glanced beyond A, get the fuck out of our city.

(Originally Posted 1/16/07)
We don't want Allen Iverson's talent ruining our selflessness and hustle!

An interesting poll on Pittsburgh's confirmed that 64% of Pittsburghers, if they were hypothetical basketball GMs, would not want Allen Iverson on their hypothetical basketball team, the Pittsburgh Hustlin' Whiteys. This begs the question, for what reason would a team not want a four-time scoring champ and former MVP while he's still only 31 and has never been given a chance to play with a decent supporting cast?

The reason for these poll results is a symptom of sports analysis which has long troubled me, and here I can only begin to scratch the surface: hustle and selflessness, or the perception thereof, are somehow seen as more important and more praiseworthy than actually possessing talent or being good at things. Note that this poll comes from my hometown of Pittsburgh, where people constantly boo Jaromir Jagr, who won two Stanley Cups and five scoring titles in Pittsburgh, but never booed scrappy Jason Kendall, who was getting paid $10 million to hit .283 with 3 home runs in 2002.

Why would you not want Iverson on your basketball team? Because he's selfish? That can't be the reason, because he was 8th in the league last year with 7.4 assists a game, more than Lebron "Captain Selfish" James, Gilbert "King of Selfish" Arenas, Sam "Cassellfish" Cassell, and way above Kobe (actually selfish) Bryant's 4.5. You must not like Iverson because he doesn't play defense, right? Well, he was 8th in the league with 1.9 steals a game, whereas hustlin', intangible-havin', teammate of the galaxy Steve Nash, the league's Most Valuable Player, finished tied for 79th. If you asked the question, would you want Steve Nash on your team, what would the results be? Would "Yes" exceed 100%?

The issue here is, clearly, sportswriters and sports fans find it convenient to label an athlete with a persona and, rather than actually looking at statistics or, god forbid, watching the guy play, they simply resign themselves to tailoring the player's doings to fit how they would like that athlete to be perceived. You've heard it all before:

George Brett and Pete Rose argued with umpires because they were gamers who couldn't bear not winning. Barry Bonds and Albert Belle argued because they're spoiled, whiny assholes.

Alex Rodriguez's .290 avg /35 HR / 121 RBI season constitutes a clutchless, hollow superstar unable to deal with the pressures of the big city. David Eckstein's .290 avg / 2 HR / 23 RBI is the mark of a scrappy hustler who plays way bigger than his 5'7" stature.

As if you even need to be told this, Brett Favre throws into triple coverage because he's a competitive gunslinger. Any other quarterback who does it had a lapse of judgment.

The Iverson backlash isn't some simple moral issue, either. Iverson recorded a rap album six years ago that supposedly contained derogatory references to homosexuals, and the swirling controversy that emerged (for which Iverson apologized) generated countless TO-like debates about whether Iverson was worth having on a team. Meanwhile, Todd Jones of the Detroit Tigers DIRECTLY STATED his numbskulled distaste towards gays, and that hasn't stopped anyone from viewing him as an exemplary baseball human being whose value extends far beyond his consistently sub-pedestrian stats.

Allen Iverson is six feet even in a game dominated by giants, and yet, outside Philly, you'll never read a column about how scrappy he his, how hard he plays, and how his accomplishments which are phenomenal by any standards become superhuman when one takes into account his size. Meanwhile, that cute lil' bugger David Eckstein is the recipient of constant, constant, never-ending, everpresent, praise just for being short (and white). Eckstein's moderate baseball ability allows for his obnoxiously calculated hustle to appear more noticeable, giving sportswriters endless fodder for columns about how intangible his contributions are and how anything a short person does is somehow more praiseworthy than what people of average height do. Iverson's talent marginalizes this, though, and because he's been graced with an ability that we're all jealous of, he forfeits the right to be able to be praised for his effort, and will only make us notice him when he missteps.

I guess it's unreasonable for me to expect sportswriters to stop misguidedly affixing significance to things cold turkey. But as long as we're passing judgment on athletes, Iverson's "we're talkin' bout practice" will always draw more ire than Eckstein's "we're talking about .290, 2 and 23!"

Thanks to, as always, for never missing an Eckstein column
EA Sports NHL '97 breaks down the NHL trade deadline

So you haven't kept up with the NHL since the days when you unironically had a Genesis strapped to your main household tv? Big deal. GMs practically treat the NHL trade deadline like a video game anyway, plus with the amount of old fogeys getting dealt around yesterday, it might as well have been 1997. Let's take a look at yesterday's trades as evaluated by the most significant sporting entity of my (and many other peoples') lifetime - EA Sports NHL '97.


The Nashville Predators scored big with their pickup of Peter Forsberg last week. Forsberg sports an impressive 86 Overall and possesses an eye-popping 99 Offensive Awareness, meaning he might occasionally pass the puck to his teammate in the slot instead of tossing a one-timer to a defenseman all the way back in his own zone. Either way, his Pass Accuracy is 93, so even when he passes to the wrong dude it'll be on target.

The Atlanta Thrashers are all smiles after their acquisition of Keith Tkachuk from the Blues; his 89 Shot Power and 83 Checking should make for a lethal combination, at least until they get frustrated with him and just put in a bunch of fast guys. Mike Gartner, anyone?

The Pittsburgh Penguins quietly stole Gary Roberts from Florida, who's an 81 Overall not including his Jeteresque 130 in the 'Intangibles' column. Roberts also boasts a 99 Aggressiveness, meaning he'll constantly be trying to hit the guy with the puck, which is very different from what everyone else in the game does.


I'm not sure what the big deal was about San Jose picking up Bill Guerin. The guy's a 73 Overall, which is more or less Nelson Emerson / Paul Ysebart territory, plus his alarming 66 Endurance really calls into question his commitment to conditioning. Which I imagine occurs while the system is turned off.

Atlanta may have misstepped in their pickup of defenseman Alexei Zhitnik, whose wussy 51 Aggressiveness and clueless 59 Defensive Awareness will be hard to overlook, especially when he goes extremely far out of his way to go offsides on every rush.

Toronto didn't improve a whole lot with their pickup of Yanic Perrault, though granted, Perrault's 67 Overall rating doesn't take into account his legendary faceoff talents - he can hit the 'B' button exactly when the puck is dropped, and the fans will cheer him for it.

Vancouver at least didn't have to give up much to get Bryan Smolinski, but according to NHL '97, Smolinski weighs 140 pounds! Apparently, he had a terrible eating disorder back then? Which he developed after surviving the Holocaust?


I cannot believe no one made Columbus an offer for Sergei Fedorov. The Blue Jackets aren't in the playoff hunt, plus they'd be happy to move Fedorov's contract, and oh, did I mention, the guy's a stone cold 99 OVERALL? That's six points better than MARIO LEMIEUX, Jack, and that guy scored plenty of unstoppable, too-easy-to-do dekes back in the EA games of old. Federov's got a 99 speed, too, meaning he is actually different than other players.

The bottom line, though, is that once the playoffs start, it doesn't matter which teams got which players at the deadline, or whose Stickhandling ratings are higher than whose. Winning the Cup comes down to getting hot at the right time, goalies being able to steal games, consistent special teams, and, of course, luck.

That, and cheap-ass unstoppable wrap-arounds and ramming the goalie til he crosses the goal line.
Provisions in the Penguins' arena deal

Needless to say, I was happy as could be when the Penguins announced their arena deal, ensuring once and for all that they'll be staying in Pittsburgh permanently! ...Unlike myself, my brother, 2/3 of my high school classmates, Andy Warhol, and anyone aged 24-38 who would like a job and also like to be paid for that job!

The Penguins and local officials may have constantly praised one another yesterday for coming to such a fair agreement, but examining some of the finer points of the contract reveals that this was indeed a steal of a deal for the Penguins. Check out some of these provisions:

- Minors on the team will be allowed to purchase alcohol once they surpass 21 goals

- "Shoot it!" painted in large neon green letters across every piece of Plexiglas (spelled "Shaaaut it!" to reflect phoenetic Pittsburghese)

- Free bullhorns given out at Ranger games to amplify fans' illogical Jagr booing (The Pirates are implementing a similar promotion for when Aramis Ramirez comes to town)

- 15% senior discount for Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts applicable at Kennywood and the Pittsburgh Zoo

- Monogrammed pillows for the defensemen with phrase "Softest group Michel Therrien has ever seen" sewn on

- Automatic faceoff-winning machine (a robot shaped like Yanic Perrault which should help the Pens improve to about 45% on draws)

- The state will destroy all records of the Penguins' drafts between 1994 and 1999, instituting felonies for citizens who mention "Robert Dome," "Craig Hillier," or "Aleksey Morozov" in public

- Before attending English lessons, Evgeni Malkin will have a pitch adjuster installed into his larynx to raise his voice to an octave audible by the human ear

- The number 66 will be retired throughout the state, including on highway signs, on credit cards, and in math classes

- Should the Penguins go on to win the Stanley Cup, the headline will appear in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a larger font than the story about Alan Faneca's potentially sore ankle
Provisions in the new MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement

MLB and the MLB Players' Association agreed yesterday on an extention of the CBA through 2011. Here are some of the new provisions contained within:

The Sexson / Glaus Clause: Any player who misses more than 120 games in the final year of his contract will be rewarded with a contract worth no less than 8 figures annually (although more than 8 figures shall be acceptable).

The Beltran / Beckett Clause: Any player who hits over .320 in the postseason or pitchers who pitch one memorable postseason start must receive pay increases of at least, but not limited to, 2800% of their current salary.

The Beltre / Soriano Clause: When players' stats double in their contract years, not only is no one allowed to notice or care, but that player shall then be paid for at least four seasons as though they will maintain that level of improvement over each of them (thus, for Soriano's impending 180-HR 2010 season, he should be scheduled to make $45 million)

The Chan-Ho / Burnett Clause: The best free-agent pitcher available in a given offseason will be deemed the instant answer to every team's problems and shall be paid accordingly, plus an additional $4 million.

The Byrnes / Eckstein Clause: Marginally talented white players shall be overpaid but not vastly overpaid, lest their distinction as "guys who hustle and get dirty" be reduced to "overpaid, glorified roleplayers"

The A-Rod Cap: No player's salary shall exceed Alex Rodriguez' $26-million deal so that he can continue to be martyred as the face of baseball's economic savagery while Derek Jeter makes $21 million, Jason Giambi makes $20 million, and Mike Mussina makes $19 million.

The Driefort / Clement Clause: Any player who has ever pitched in a baseball game, regardless of results, shall be given no less than $8 million dollars when available for free agency. (Milton Corollary: Additional $2 million if the pitcher is left-handed)

The Drew / Hunter Clause: Similar to Dreifort / Clement, any person who has hit a baseball ever, at any level of play, will have giant sacks with dollar signs literally dropped onto them from helicopters; they will continue to receive this money even if struck and injured by said moneybags to the point of being unable to play.
People of New Orleans awaiting next football season so they can resume being inspired

The Saints' brutal 39-14 defeat at the hands of the Bears Sunday left the players scratching their heads - and the people of New Orleans without a source of inspiration.

With no more Saints games until the preseason resumes in August, New Orleans citizens will now have to face several months without anyone to inspire them or distract them from the grueling aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"Watching Drew Brees throw for 350 yards each week was really what kept me going during this rough time," said Geoff Greene, a high school teacher from the Garden District. "Without the Saints winning improbably, how am I going to be inspired? No one in my family's handicapped or anything. One kid at my school is, but it's not inspiring, it's actually a little sad."

Other fans are depressed at the thought of returning to a reality without a Saints season to occupy them.

"It was such a great distraction from everything," said Ana Walzer, a Carrolton resident. "We'd cheer at the screen, 'go Deuce, go Reggie!' and then be like, 'wait, what happened last year? Never mind, I remember now. But for a second there I forgot.' It's gonna be tough to go without that for the next few months."

New Orleans City Councilman John Batt Jr. spoke of the ideological implications of the Saints' magical season.

"Having the Saints back playing in the Superdome was our way of announcing to the country, we're strong, we're together, and we're not going anywhere," he said. "Now how are we going to do it? Jazz or something? Cajun food? Yeah, maybe CBS will air a three hour event where people gather in the Superdome to eat crawfish. This sucks."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ex-Steeler Tommy Maddox Shoots 75

All I'm saying is, the headline caught me a little off guard. It actually seems more likely that Tommy Maddox would shoot 75 people than him actually being good at a sport, let alone a sport in which he was not a first-round draft pick. Or maybe I'm an idiot. But it's probably the first thing.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Update Update: MLB Draft Being Televised Is Still Not News, Even Nine Hours Later still has this poll up about the MLB Draft nine hours later, obviously to continue to promote the fact that it's being televised on ESPN2 this year, regardless of the fact that 125,000+ people have declared they are not going to be watching it.

Maybe if they keep the poll up for another full day, the story will suddenly become newsworthy.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Update: MLB Draft Being Televised Is Not, In Fact, News