Sunday, February 28, 2010

Proving Their Medal

Never have I been quite as upset to be right about a prediction here on TPLIYP. In gut wrenching fashion, those eh-holes from up north lived up to their expectations and took home the gold medal in hockey. After the United States had silenced the building with a game tying goal just 24 seconds before the end of the 3rd, Sidney Fucking Crosby electrified the crowd with a game winning goal in sudden death overtime. While we as Americans are upset that we did not win the gold, we still have plenty to be way proud about, including the fact that Canada still sucks.

Good god, anybody but Sidney Crosby. Why did he have to score the game winner? I can not stand that cry baby and how he somehow always gets to be the hero. He had done nothing all game, and then on a broken play the puck landed right in front of him. He is long overdue for some sort of catastrophic event to befall him. Nonetheless, you have to give the Canadians credit. In one game, they avenged their earlier loss to the U.S. and also managed to come back after blowing a two goal lead to win it in OT. Congratulations to you Canada, with a team chock full of perennial all stars, you managed to just barely do enough to win the gold medal.

While America had to settle for a silver, I think we learned a lot of positive things from this Olympic hockey tournament. First, youth is the key to success. In past years, the US has fielded teams with much more star power, but they have performed miserably. Guys like John Leclair, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick and Mike Richter lumbered about and guided the U.S. teams to solid 10th place finishes in the past, even though their teams were considered to be very talented. I think with age comes a decreasing amount of reverence and spirit in the Olympics. The U.S. took a page from their previous Olympic hockey gold medal teams and went young this year. These guys worked hard every single game and you could tell that they really wanted to represent their country to the best of their ability. I think you will continue to see this strategy employed going forward in the Olympics.

Not only did the United States fare well in hockey, they fared very well over all. The U.S. won the medal count for the first time since 1932 and in doing so, set a new record for medals won with 37. That is pretty sweet. The Canadians may argue that they won the most golds, but the truth of the matter is that many of them can not even count to 37. Those 51st staters can go suck a railroad spike. The United States beat them in their attempts to "Own the podium" and didn't embarrass ourselves by only having three supports come out of the ground during opening ceremonies. A gaffe that the Canadians had to atone for by making fun of themselves for on worldwide television during the closing ceremonies. So much for those syrup suckers gaining national confidence.

Canada may have won the battle on the ice today, but I would say that the U.S. won the war. Taking home 7 more medals than our competitors, the U.S. will reap the benefits as this will only promote more kids to participate in all of these sports in the future. Perhaps the most important of these will be hockey. The United States hockey program really made a statement this year, and I think we will continue to see the United States in strong competition for the gold medal from here on out in hockey, regardless of whether NHL players are used or not. Bravo to team USA and a half hearted congrats to those cheesers and snowbacks from up north.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Soaring to New Heights


You may be wondering what this picture is to the left. It is a representation of years of struggle, hard work and commitment. This is a picture of Mr. Burns in his very rarely used beanie bag/TV room. G.A. Halstead and I have been trying to find evidence of this room's existence since way back when we were still at university. Today, after much deliberation, research and great mental anguish we have found what we had believed in all along. In a similar manner, the Lehigh men's hoops team, whom I also believed in all along, has taken home a share of the Patriot League regular season title. After years of mixed results since that magical year in 03-04, the Hawks hard work has paid off. May they enjoy their title in grand fashion sitting in opulent bean bag chairs and watching big screen TVs.

With a resounding 81-59 win over Bucknell on Wednesday, Lehigh announced their return to the dominance in the Patriot League. I got a message from former Bethlehem resident and Lehigh basketball ambassador Pat Lyons about the news, despite the fact that I have the Lehigh basketball team as one "my teams" on ESPN.com so I get the scores automatically. Patrick, who was more famous for a chant he started at a Lehigh basketball game than for his fanaticism for the team when he was a student, demanded a blog post. Like Lt. Dan Taylor, I am a man of my word.

As you all know, the Patriot League regular season title has no bearing on who goes into the NCAA tournament except for seeding in the all important Patriot League Tournament. I like Lehigh's chances going into the Patriot League tournament, but they are going to improve on defense if they expect to get to the big dance this year. One thing in Lehigh's favor is their balanced offensive attack. While C.J. McCollum (who recently set the Patriot League scoring record for a freshman) is no doubt the scoring threat at over 18 points a game, the Hawks also have guys like Michael "Mojo" Ojo, Gabe "Deez" Knutson, Zahir "Don't Call Me Malcolm" Carrington and Marquis "Kids in the" Hall who can fill up the bucket if need be. This offensive attack is much more powerful than the 03-04 team who basically just relied on Austen Rowland for all their scoring. That said, the Hawks defense could use some work.

As it usually is with high scoring offenses, the defense is suspect. Lehigh's defense gives up 71.4 points per game and needs their offense to be firing on all cylinders to keep up. In two losses to Navy, Lehigh was torched by Midshipmen guard Chris Harris for an average of 35 points a game. Lehigh has got to put the clamps down on shooters if they expect to get to that play in game come March.

Though Mr. Lyons seems to think that Lehigh needs Navy to be upset by someone else in order for Lehigh to win the tournament, I know that in his heart he believes that they can take down the Midshipmen. If the Hawks can tune up the defense a little bit, and C.J. McCollum can keep up his hot hand, the Hawks can beat anyone in the Patriot League. If they do go on to win the Patriot League tournament, I expect total pandemonium.

Men, I'll make it quite simple. If Lehigh makes the tournament, we must celebrate. Freshmen year was different; some of us were pledging, some of us had no cars, some of us had no licenses. We couldn't feasibly go to the game, or really celebrate it. This time, it is well within our means to either get to this game or at least to throw some sort of a Lehigh hoops bash. I just hope the game is on the weekend. Secondly, though I joked about the play in game before I am very disappointed at the disrespect Lehigh got our freshmen year. It seems as if every year since then, the Patriot League has been given at the very least a 15 seed. Often times Holy Cross and Bucknell have even been seeded higher than that. Why the hell did we get shafted into the obscurity of the play-in game? This year, I hope things will be different. If not, we post a list of demands on Alice Gast's door...and throw a goat head on her front steps. Lehigh can clinch the Patriot League title outright on Saturday with a win against Holy Cross, alma mater of the Schellinator, and the Patriot League tourney starts in early March. Let's get our team spirit up and support the Hawks bid to go dancing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Hotness Factor

For a long time female athletes have struggled with coming to grips with being an athlete and remaining feminine at the same time. For a while it seemed that both could not go hand in hand and that beauty and athletic prowess were impossible to balance. Girls did not compete in sports because they did not want to alter their figure, or had other plans such as having kids or raising a family. Nowadays though, being a female athlete is considered beautiful in its own right and much effort has been put into promoting female athletics as both beautiful and skillful. However, there is a trend that is beginning to show itself in female athletics in my opinion. The more that the focus of an athlete is her beauty, the less that athlete excels in their sport. Let's take a look at a few examples so I don't get written off as an asshole and a pig.

In every sport it seems that more and more girls are getting involved. In a past article, I wrote about how the LPGA, once a haven for leathery faced nightmare creatures, was gaining more exposure as more and more "marketable" women took to the sport and got good. The face of this change for golf is no doubt in Natalie Gulbis. Gulbis is a total babe; but while she is no doubt a talented golfer, she is nowhere near one of the best in the sport. Having been a pro for 9 years now, she has only won one real LPGA tournament. The same might also be true for Michelle Wie, who sort of became a sneaky hot golfer as she grew up before our eyes. 5 years on tour, 1 win.

The same can be said in tennis for Anna Kournikova, who never won a WTA singles title in her career, but was arguably one of the most popular athletes of all time. She essentially became a model who played tennis on the side before retiring from the sport for good. Once the media focus on Kournikova (and probably her own focus as well) became her looks, the playing career of a once highly touted tennis player crashed and burned.

What about Lindsey Vonn? A great deal was expected of her these olympics as she was the favorite to bring home gold in several events. A few weeks prior to the games though, the SI Swimsuit edition came out featuring Vonn in some incendiary bikini pictures. Magically babelicious. Despite bringing home one gold medal and a bronze, Vonn crashed in two other events that she was favored in, a big disappointment. Fellow skier and gold medalist Julia Mancuso might want to think twice about the repercussions before she launches her "Kiss My Tiara" lingerie line.

Danica Patrick is a bit of a different example of the hotness factor. She is certainly hot, but is trying to win in a sport that is dominated by men. She has also won one race in her career, but her circumstances are a bit different. While it might be a motivating factor for her, the commercial where she re-states a negative comment by a critic that, "She's just a marketing machine" is no doubt food for thought.

There is certainly something to be said for this interesting trend in women's athletics. Why is it that women like this one, this one and this one (apparently she won the super combine that Vonn crashed in) dominate athletics when the women who are praised for both their beauty and skill always seem to struggle? Perhaps their greatness was overstated to begin with and they are just a product of marketing teams as Danica's commercial intends to refute. Perhaps the pressure created by media coverage is too great for them and they cannot deal with it. Perhaps I am just an asshole. Whatever it is, despite a few exceptions, it appears to be a continuing trend in women's sports that with great beauty does not come great success.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Moving On


In a week in which several teams have decided to cut loose guys who are arguably the faces of their franchise, the Eagles followed suit by releasing Brian Westbrook. Westbrook was integral in helping the Eagles get to the Super Bowl in 2004 and was one of the most threatening and dynamic offensive players in football for years. In the past several years though it became obvious that Westbrook was past his prime. I was never a huge fan of Westbrook, though I valued his presence on the Eagles and what he gave to the franchise. Despite everything he gave to the franchise though, the timing was right to cut the chord on old Westy, and I have a feeling the same might need to be said for Dirty Don McNabb.

Brian Westbrook was a game changer. During his prime, he could take over a game and was one of the most dangerous players on the field. Whether it be burning everyone around the corner, taking a screen pass to the house, or returning punts (especially this one) Westbrook was a great weapon. Another thing that made Westbrook so good was that his best games often came against the NFC East, especially the Giants. However, it seemed that with every good week Westbrook had there was also a week in which he didn't play.

In 8 seasons in Philadelphia, Brian Westbrook never played a full season. Every week it seemed that he missed practice with some nagging injury, and I doubt he could ever honestly say he was fully healthy. Over the years, these injuries began to mount and made Westbrook extremely ineffective. How effective can you be as a speed back when you can't reach top speed? Part of this is on the Eagles for not finding an effective compliment for Westy, but a guy his size was probably destined for a career like this. As if that wasn't enough, Westbrook suffered a series of devastating concussions this year that added his brain to his long list of injuries. His time has come, and the Eagles made the right decision to let him go and let Shady McCoy take over as the feature back. The timing is also probably right for Westbrook to hang up the spikes for good.

Similar to Westbrook, in 11 seasons in Philly Donovan McNabb has only played a full season 3 times. With the release of Westbrook, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Iggs clean house and get rid of McNabb via trade as well. These two guys carried this franchise for the last 10 years, but I think it may be time to start over. McNabb may be better off than Westbrook, but the returns are definitely diminishing. The new decade may be the start of the Kolb-McCoy administration.

Brian Westbrook was probably the best running back in Eagles history. As a third round pick, he outperformed his expectations and was one of the most valuable players on the team. However, as we learned with LT this week also, the shelf life of a running back is very short. The timing of this release was perfect for both sides in my opinion. The Eagles can now move on with their franchise, and Westbrook can stop putting his health and well being at risk for declining productivity on the field. In two years, Eagles fans have lost Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook, two of the most famous Eagles of all time. While we value their contributions to the team and the city, it is time to look toward the future. Cheers to you Mr. Westbrook!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do You Believe In Deja Vu?


It was only an opening round game. It had no bearing on anything except a bye in the next round. Yet tonight's hockey game was so much more than a hockey game for both sides at play. For Canada, it was a statement game. The Canadians wanted to dominate on their home ice, secure the bye in the next round and build their confidence after a nail biter against ze Swees. For the United States, our hockey team once again appears as if it is a barometer for our national confidence. If I may put on my history major cap for a moment, it seems that 30 years after the Miracle on Ice, the United States could use another miracle to help bring our nation out of this funk that it is in.

The year was 1980. Our nation was still healing from the scars of the Vietnam War, and in the midst of the Cold War (before it was ended by Rocky). Day to day, Americans had to deal with the problems of inflation, recession and an oil crisis. Because of all of this, and the Iran hostage crisis, our nation's prominence and prestige were knocked down a peg in the eyes of the rest of the world. We were indeed suffering a crisis of confidence. Then as if a national panacea, the United States hockey team came out of nowhere to win gold in Lake Placid. Do the problems facing our great country sound familiar?

30 years later, we are in the middle of two wars, we are digging our way out of one of the biggest economic collapses ever, we are still licking our wounds form 9/11 and joblessness seems to rise as quickly as the price of oil. It's like 1980 all over again. Is it too cheesy to say that a hockey team could lift us out of this again? Maybe. But why do you think everybody cared so much about that game tonight?

Americans need something to lift our spirits. For everyone out there who can't find a job, has seen their fortune disintegrate in the markets, can't afford to fill their car with gas, or has a family member fighting overseas, national pride is something tangible that they can look to for hope. I'm not saying that the United States team is gonna do it, because I believe in curses, but the stage is certainly set for another epic underdog story. I can almost hear it now. USA! USA! USA!

Reactions


Tiger finally ended his silence on Friday in a 13 minute speech that conveyed his disappointment in himself, his regret for his actions and several other views that seemed somewhat extraneous. While I was somewhat disappointed in Tiger's lack of information on his playing future, I was very impressed with how thorough his statement was and how genuine he seemed. In typical Tiger fashion, he was very well prepared for this statement and dominated with the whole world watching. I originally wrote Tiger off as just biding his time until he returns to golf, but now I think him very sincere in his efforts to improve himself and very much accept his apologies.

It takes a lot for a man to call himself to the carpet. Now try doing it in front of your closest friends and family, and millions upon millions of people worldwide. I think it has been understated just how courageous and magnanimous it was of Tiger Woods to make this statement with basically the whole world watching. As fans, we sort of took it for granted that Tiger owed us an explanation and that one would be forthcoming. He is a very private person as we know, a point that I have criticized him on in the past, and Tiger did not have to do it this way. The fact that he made himself this open for public judgement says a lot of his much-questioned character. He fucked up, and now he has made himself accountable for it.

Though some criticized Tiger for preparing a "canned" speech, I for one thought that the core of the speech, his public acknowledgment of his mistakes, was very sincere. His eyes were watery and his voice sounded choked up as he delivered what I thought was the best part of his speech;

"The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled."

Listen folks, you can just speak off the cuff for 13 minutes and remember exactly what you are supposed to say. Tiger is an athlete, not a politician. The fact that he had a written speech in front of him means nothing. His comments were extremely heartfelt despite having them written down. Any talk of him being a robot or being insincere is just baloney. He said exactly what he needed to, "I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable..." How can you possibly fault him for having the guts to say that in front of everybody important to him?

Despite my overwhelming praise of Tiger, there were a few points in the speech that I thought were kind of cheesy or unnecessary. I think we all can agree that this was bar none one of the lamest and most awkward things we have ever seen. This was almost certainly suggested by a PR specialist or something, and just carried out poorly by Tiger. Again, he's not a politician, and you could tell he was nervous. He meant what he said though. Secondly, what was all that Buddhism nonsense? The day Tiger Woods is a practicing Buddhist, that's the day I'm an astronaut. Seriously though, if Tiger is a Buddhist I think that that is the first time many life long Tiger fans have ever heard anything about it. It seemed kind of trivial to throw in there as an example of his "finding himself" and again was probably at the behest of a PR person. Finally, we have Tiger addressing first the rumors that Elin hit him, and secondly that he has taken steroids. There was really no need to include either of these statements in his speech (though I must admit his face did look a little different than usual. Might have just been because he wasn't wearing a hat) and I especially found the steroid inclusion very odd. I hope this is not a sign of forthcoming information.

Above all of the weird things Tiger chose to include in his speech, I found his exclusion of his future golfing plans to be the most disappointing. As a golf fan, that is all I really wanted to know coming out of this whole thing. I wish he would have told us for sure when he was returning. I am still planning for Tiger to be back by the Master's though.

I don't understand how anyone can be critical of Tiger Woods' sincerity after his apology on Thursday afternoon. He admitted his mistakes, apologized profusely, and has taken steps to better himself. You try doing that in front of everybody you know, as well as millions of people you don't. Despite his overwhelming sincerity in my mind, there are still some detractors out there. I was watching ESPN the other day and a segment aired in which Colleen Dominguez gauged public opinion at the Match Play Championship in Arizona. One woman was interviewed and very acrimoniously slammed Tiger (here is the video. the woman's commentary was removed. hopefully b/c she realized that she is an idiot and asked for it to be. If anyone can find the video though please send it to me. Her name was Michelle something and she was wearing a white Nike One Vr hat), saying he was "insincere" and that she was "done with him." This angered me to no end. Who the hell are you lady? Have you ever made a mistake in your life? How would you like it if you apologized for your mistake and everybody that you knew decided that they were done with you? My god, get off your high horse for five seconds; you're not perfect either you moron. Tiger Woods cheated, that is painfully clear to us now. But what he has done in order to make amends for his mistakes are more than the rest of us would probably ever have the courage to do. I think that he deserves our forgiveness, and everybody should want to see Tiger back on tour as soon as his humanly possible.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tiger Talk Transgressions Very Well


After nearly 3 months of silence (seems like longer than that doesn't it?) Tiger Woods is ready to say "Hello world" once again. He has planned a press conference for Friday at 11am where he will presumably discuss his future plans. According to freelance columnist Todd Haselton, Tiger plans to announce that he is taking upa career in baseball with the Chicago White Sox. As trusted a source as Todd is, I for one believe that this means that Tiger will be re-joining the PGA Tour fairly soon. I would expect Tiger to be back playing golf by the Masters, if not sooner.


Why would Tiger Woods decide to make this press conference now? He hasn't said anything to anybody in the last three months, but all of a sudden on a random Friday he has decided to break his silence. It has got to be because he is about to announce that he is coming back. It wouldn't make sense for it to be anything else. I doubt very much that Tiger would have a public press conference to announce that he is taking the rest of the year off. He would just send out a press release like he did when he announced that he wouldn't be starting the season. This press conference has got to be to announce his return, and perhaps to pay a little lip service to his transgressions. I dug up this old commercial, whose theme song seems oddly fitting now, for your viewing pleasure.

Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule on the PGA Tour. In a little over a month we have the Arnold Palmer Invitational, defending champ: Tiger Woods. Two weeks after that, you guessed it, the Masters. Tiger Woods has been a fixture at both of these tournaments since his rookie year and it is my estimation that he will be back for both of them. Bay Hill for a tune up, then the Masters to re-assert his dominance. The one thing that may change this is Tiger's respect for Arnold Palmer. If Arnie wants Tiger to come back for his tournament, you can bet he'll be there, but if not Tiger might just wait until the Masters. You can be sure that Tiger Woods will be back making shots like this one soon though.

In my opinion, this whole "taking time off to be with my family" thing was a farce. The damage Tiger did to his family seems beyond repair, so what exactly could he have been doing all this time? His wife is intent on leaving him (how could she not after that chorus line of mistresses?) and his kids are too young to understand all of this, so it seems to me that Tiger was just sort of being a politician with his image. You know, putting in the face time to make it appear like he is on the road to recovery without really doing much. Speaking of recovery, I wonder how he fared at the sex rehab clinic. Anyway, all this time it has seemed to me that Tiger is like a little kid who's mom is holding him by the arm and cleaning his face before he can go play with his friends. All Tiger really wants to do is play golf, but he had to wait for the critics to be satisfied with his self imposed punishment. Now he feels like he can get back to playing with his friends.

On Friday, Tiger will speak about his past and his future, and apparently make some sort of apology to his family. It will be interesting to see if his speech is very candid or if it is robotic and prepared like every other statement he has made so far. The former would probably lead to much more acceptance and forgiveness, but I would expect the latter. One thing you can be sure of though, Tiger is ready to hit the links and probably unleash hell on the rest of the PGA Tour season. With majors at Augusta, St. Andrew's and Pebble Beach all in one year, this is too good to miss out on. Get back out there Tiger!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Whoah Canada!


I could play on the Canadian national anthem title until the rapture. I know I have been pretty tough on our neighbors up above the 45th parallel, so I am going to throw them a bone here. The Canadian hockey team is STACKED. Their roster is a who's who of NHL All Stars, and as I write this they are completely dismantling Norway in their opening game. In an Olympics that has gone so so poorly for the True North Strong and Free, by the time the games are over all anybody might be talking about is this hockey team. Winning the gold medal might be easier for the Canadian hockey team than escaping from Canadian Alcatraz.

The Canadian hockey team in 2010 is like an NHL All-Star team on steroids. Or maybe the "All-Time All Madden Team" of hockey. I can honestly say that I know just about every player on the Canadian team, and the names represent most of the best players in the league. If it weren't for a few guys like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Zetterberg and maybe Nicklas Lidstrom, team Canada would have ALL of the best players in hockey. Let's just run down a few of the names on team Canada; Jarome Iginla, Sid the Kid, Rick Nash, Mike Richards, Jonathan Toews, Dany Heatley, Chris Pronger and Marty Brodeur. The rest of the team is just as talented making for a nightmare match up for anyone they face. As a matter of fact, those red sweaters bring back memories of another unstoppable hockey team.

Canada has got to be the favorite to win the gold medal this year in hockey. They have by far the best team and are playing in front of their home crowd. How can they lose? Well, does the fact that I am endorsing them as my pick to win it all mean anything to you? Let's see if Canada can survive the curse. I think the good bashing I have given the Canadians recently might balance it out. But we will see. It's a pretty good curse.

As far as the rest of the field shakes out, I like Sweden to take the silver medal. They are another very well stocked team and have great players at all positions with guys like Henrik Lundqvist, and the afforementioned Zetterberg and Lidstrom. In third, I am gonna go with Team USA. They have a solid young core with David Backes, Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, Zach Parise and Ryan Miller, and could be a force to reckon with for years to come. Moreover, you can never count out Team USA in a year that ends in 0. They could surprise some people. USA?

While I have given Canada quite a hard time for their shortcomings so far, I was really impressed with how good their hockey team looked tonight. They will face much tougher competition as the Olympics go on, but I fully expect them to take home the gold medal. Now, let's sit back and see if they can screw this one up somehow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

D'oh! Canada


America's Hat had some grand plans coming into the Winter Olympics this year. They wanted to "own the podium" and play host to the games in such grand fashion that their national reputation and national confidence would surge to the status of the great countries of the world. Unfortunately, we are witnessing the same old Canada. Not that it really mattered, but Canada is not defying, but continuously perpetuating the stereotypes that they are our dimwitted and simple neighbors to the north. The best words that come to mind when trying to describe the outcome of their master plan for this Olympics are quite simply "epic fail." The games are long from over, but it looks like Canada will never be known for more than the Canadian tux.

Before the Olympic games even began, Canada had already taken an enormous publicity hit. During training, a 21 year old luger from Georgia was killed due to the abnormally high speeds that the luge track produced. The death was attributed to driver error, but it was not the start that Canada wanted to get off to. Perhaps the opening ceremonies could help set things right.

Well, that didn't go very well now did it? I didn't witness the opening ceremonies firsthand, but from what I have read they were just downright embarrassing. Malfunctions everywhere were cause for lots of guffawing from Canada's finest. Here are two great recaps of the embarrassment. Eek. How to lose the world in 10 minutes, huh? Geee wiz.

If there is one stereotype Canada is bucking, it is the cold weather stereotype. The only problem with this is that these are the Winter Olympics we are trying to hold. The land of snow and ice has failed to produce both the former and the latter so far this Olympics, and is causing tons of delays. Though lacrosse is the official sport of Canada as we learned last time, we know that hockey is also their thing. How can they not make ice in the land of hockey? Moreover, we had snow on the ground in 49 states in the U.S. this weekend, how could it rain in Canada? One screw up after another, this is just getting really embarrassing for Canada.

Canada had great intentions, but they just keep screwing things up. Some things are out of their control, but it is almost comical how these mistakes just confirm Canadian stereotypes. Hopefully Canada can turn these Olympics around and maybe start taking home some more medals. Otherwise they will end up worse off in terms of national status than they started. Eh?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shades of the Past


What was shaping up to be a rather boring Pebble Beach Pro-Am turned into a thriller this weekend due to the resurgence of one David Duval. Duval was once the #1 golfer in the world, but has seen his game go to hell in a handbasket because of injuries and a growing family. Ten years after being #1 in the world, Duval had fallen to #219 and was in danger of losing tour exemption. Last year he made a strong showing at the U.S. Open only to fall back off the radar again. This year will be different though. Duval is looking like the Duval of old, albeit with a few more pounds packed on, and his second place finish this week is a sign of good things to come. Double D is back baby.

In a golfing landscape trying to fill the void left by Tiger Woods, David Duval is probably the last guy that would come to mind to take Tiger's place. While Woods is extremely focused on the course and often vents his frustration audibly and visibly, David Duval is the exact opposite. An unassuming star, Duval took time today to stare out into the Pacific Ocean and admire the beautiful landscape when he probably should have been lining up a very important birdie putt on the 17th hole. He sunk the putt nonetheless.

Tiger's marital shortcomings have also been a huge topic of discussion around the world. As for Duval, after scoring a par and walking in as the clubhouse leader he went to spend time with his family on the practice green. David Duval is a consummate family man and he knows that there is more to life than golf. Here is a man that has his priorities straight.

As for DD the player, he is definitely on his way back to where he once was. After popping up on the leaderboards for a day or two in the past several years, it appears that Duval is now able to consistently put good rounds together. That is a very good sign for the man who once shot a 59 in the final round of the Bob Hope Classic and offered up one of the most classic fist pumps of all time. I would consider him a serious threat for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach this summer and I could see him picking up a win somewhere else along the way. Duval is back.

Maybe David Duval is the perfect guy to take the place of Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour. An honest, unassuming and upstanding guy who has been to the summit, fallen way off and somehow found his way back again. It certainly makes for a great story and I will be pulling for Dave in every tournament. Now if I can just find my old wraparound Oakley's.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

They're Shitty Again


Ugh. Just ugh. Despite my acknowledgment that I don't know anything about college basketball this year, there is one program that I do know about. Of course that would be the Connecticut Huskies men's basketball program. Things haven't been so rosy up in Storrs, Connecticut over the past few years, and I am noticing a disturbing trend. Perhaps it is because their recruits are less skilled than they used to be, or maybe its because their offensive scheme is terrible, but the Huskies just can not score the ball on offense.


Two things you will rarely never see happen when UConn plays an opponent are for them to blow out their opponent, or for them to be blown out. Jim Calhoun is easily the best defensive coach in all of college basketball, and his teams play great defense no matter how talented they are. This is perhaps most evident in the fact that UConn leads the nation every year in blocked shots. This commitment always keeps the games fairly low scoring, and in turn keeps UConn close in every game.

On the flip side of this, UConn's offense has been so bad over the last few years that they really never put any team away. UConn can be thoroughly in control of a game because of their defense, but usually never beat an evenly matched team by more than 10. The drawback of having great defensive players like Hasheem the Dream, Emeka Okafor or the great Jake Voskuhl is that they are pretty terrible on offense. This puts increased pressure on UConn's guards, who often settle for low percentage shots in coverage. This problem was very apparent last night against Syracuse as Jerome Dyson was forced to chuck up a 30 foot shot when the team was trailing by 2 with about 20 seconds left. The fact that that was the best opportunity they could get is indicative of a big problem on offense. Unless they get a lay up or a dunk, UConn's offense is not dangerous at all.

Because of their great defense, you can never count UConn out of a basketball game. Just look at how they gave #3 ranked Cuse a run for their money last night, and upset #1 Texas a few weeks ago. However, if they want to be truly successful Jim Calhoun needs to either recruit more offensively skilled players, or come up with a new offensive scheme to create better scoring opportunities. The Huskies offense is downright abysmal and it is getting pretty embarrassing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Doldrums


Boys and girls, we have reached the doldrums of sport once again. Football is over, though the TPLIYP curse is clearly not. College basketball is lumbering along, as are hockey and basketball. We really don't have much to be excited about. Therefore, today I will offer my opinions on a variety of subjects about which I know collectively only a little. Luckily, we are in a Winter Olympics year and have that just on the horizon. We also have the NBA All Star weekend coming up, so that gives me an excuse to show some more of my favorite dunk videos. Last but not least, I have ignored college basketball almost all season because the Connecticut Huskies are laying an egg this season, so I will offer my limited opinion on some teams to watch out for in March. Sound good? Ok cool.

First on the docket, we have the Winter Olympics. I offered my opinion on those lousy freeloading Canadians earlier, but on a positive note the Winter Olympics has some of the coolest events ever. Let's put a guy on cross country skis and give him a gun. That can be an event. My hat's off to whomever invented the biathlon. Moreover, we have the bobsled and the luge which are two of the coolest things ever. How did this ever get started? I understand sledding and skating, but a sled on skates that is steered through a maze of ice? Awesome. Then we have the skiing events. Downhill skiing provides some of the best wipe outs of all time. Despite all of the accidents, the Olympics still have that terrible orange plastic netting lining the course, mangling the skiers when they crash. Seems to me that they would try and innovate this somehow. Maybe line the course with bubble wrap. Then there is the ski jump. How does one ever get good at this? Practice makes perfect right? So how many times does one screw up this stunt before they get it right? And how are they not dead after screwing up once? Winter Olympic sports are way cooler than those in the Summer Games, and I didn't even mention hockey or curling. Let's go US and A.

This weekend we also have the NBA All Star weekend to break up the monotony. The most important event of course is the dunk contest. I won't mince words; no gay props and don't let the stupid fans vote. Now, cue the youtube dunk montage approved by William Hayes:

-This dunk doesn't get enough credit.

-The best posterization of all time

-I always used to model my layups after the classic Mailman dunk

-All but #4 are fucking awesome.

-I know I show it every time, but white men can jump

-It's too bad the Rainman became a fat pothead

-Dorne?


That brings us to college basketball. Needless to say, I have not really been energized to talk much about college basketball. If Lehigh makes it to the tournament though, we must prepare ourselves for an event on par with the Mayan calendar resetting in 2012. Teams I would watch out for to advance deep into the tournament are Michigan State, Kansas, Villanova and Syracuse. What I'm stressing here children is experience. Ever since that punk Carmelo Anthony led the Syracuse Orangemen to the NCAA title in 2003, upperclassmen leadership has been underrated. Since then though, it has been teams that consistently go deep into the tournament that have gone on to win it all. These 4 teams have the mix of veterans and young blood in my opinion to cut down the nets in March. I really haven't been watching that much hoops though, so don't quote me on this.

I really can't wait for warmer weather, and the promise of baseball, the Masters and no torrential snowstorms. In the meantime though, this is what we have to look forward to I guess. I dunno.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Stupid Bowl Preview


The time has come for me to offer up my thoughts on Super Bowl 44. You can count on TPLIYP for some thoughtful commentary because unlike Dan Kaplan, I actually know what is going on. I have never asked how many points a two point conversion is worth, and I am also not registered as attending a party on facebook that until this week was entitled "Super Bowl XLIII". In true New Orleans tradition, I will be putting the TPLIYP curse on the Colts by predicting them to be Super Bowl champs this year.

During my senior year at Lehigh, I was one of the first people to jump on the Saints bandwagon. I made bets with several people in the Fall that the Saints would win the Super Bowl that year because I thought that they would defy the odds created by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, much like how a team called the Patriots defied the odds and beat the St. Louis Rams after 9/11. Needless to say, I was incorrect as the Saints bowed out in the NFC Championship (a possible prelude to the TPLIYP curse?), but I was onto something. Since I started making that prediction, I have been to New Orleans twice and developed a great admiration for the city. As if that wasn't enough, the extension of the Forwood Theory requires me to root for the Saints. Obviously, my allegiance is with the Saints in Super Bowl 44, but I think that the Colts will win

The Colts are no stranger to the Super Bowl, having beaten the very team the Saints lost to in the NFC Championship in 2007 to become Super Bowl Champs. Peyton Manning is now considered to be the best quarterback in the NFL by far and in my opinion he is probably the best ever. The way he can sit at the line of scrimmage and audible until he finds the best play to pick the defense apart is borderline unfair. If you put him on any team, that team would at the very least make the playoffs. Moreover, we have found out that Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne aren't as good as everybody thought they were. Peyton Manning has made Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon look just as good. So much for the argument of Manning having better players than other teams. He makes them that good

As far as X's and O's are concerned, I think that the Colts have the upper hand on defense even without Dwight Freeney. They tackle better and have a better secondary than New Orleans. Moreover, the Saints defense will be rendered completely useless by Peyton Manning. How do you stop a quarterback that you can't get to? It's like he has a cheat sheet with answers to every defensive scheme you can come up with. The Saints only hope is probably in the turnover battle

On offense, I again give the edge to the Colts. The Saints are obviously very high powered, but the Colts just do what needs to be done without as much flash. Dallas Clark is probably the deciding factor in the equation, as both teams have a steady run game, great quarterbacks and several good receivers. Advantage Colts again

On special teams, I will say it is a push. While Reggie Bush is a huge X-factor and could decide the fate of the game, the Colts kicking game is much more reliable with Matt Stover. Field goals are just as important as anything else in the Super Bowl. Taking into account all these different factors, I give a pretty hefty edge to Indianapolis. Regardless, I will be pulling for the Saints and hoping that the TPLIYP curse manifests itself yet again. Who Dat?

Prediction:
Indy 34
Nawlins 28

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Media Day


I bet you thought this post was going to have something to do with the Super Bowl or the amount of TV coverage that the Super Bowl gets. You are wrong you idiot. With a catchy title and a snappy picture I was able to lure you in, but now I am just going to post some quality youtube videos. Yes, today I will be borrowing a page from one of TPLIYP's greatest allies; Tum's Rum. Let me be clear in mentioning that Tum's Rum was not an ally during the Koey reign of terror though. In fact TPLIYP declared an embargo during that regime. In any event, here for your viewing entertainment are some sweet youtube vids that I would like to champion for John Q. Reader.


Before SI.com got rid of the pop culture grid, my favorite thing to read about was what was playing on each athlete's iPod. It was mostly dreck, but it was an interesting look into someone's personality. Here is what I have been rocking lately;

Lets start the bidding with a little Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash duet. I was going to include a video created by "AndrewBrownie2" in honor of Andrew Brown, but it featured a weird shirtless dude about half way through.

Next we have a Simon & Garfunkel song that I think is a ripping good one. Especially on a foul weather day such as today.

Third we have Trey Halstead with a mustache. I'm talking of course about Jim Croce. This is the best version I could find of the song. Pretty sad.

No offense to any cops out there, but this song is pretty good. The video is pretty terrible though. Also, foul language is prevalent throughout the song, so be careful.

Last but not least, the lead singer of the Church Choir.


Take those songs home and chew on them. Now for a little look into New Haven culture. Everybody thinks that their local business owner has the worst commercials, but these are just dog gone terrible. Where has the Coan Oil girl gone?

Why is that woman video taping people while they sleep? Please visit Connecticut.

I will never go here. Catchy jingle though.

Im pretty sure this commercial is national, and I actually really like it for some reason.

I think Robert Canelli has touched all of these children. SCIENCE. MATH.

There was another commercial for a pawn shop that featured a guy dressed up like one of these henchman, but I couldn't find it. Another commercial for Bob's of Milford Car Dealership finishes with a woman saying "He Just Wants to Get You A Loan!" but obviously if you are not looking at the TV where the slogan appears it sounds like "He just wants to get you alone!". I would re-think that slogan if I were Bob.


Finally, I don't watch too much SNL, but the episode with Charles Barkley was freaking hillarious. I could only find one clip on youtube, but you can watch the full show on NBC.com

On another note, it is about time for the Golden Pencil awards again. Looking for some fresh new categories for the year. Ideas?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How Do They Do It?


The rest of the NBA should declare a moratorium on trading with the Lakers. It seems like they always somehow manage to get their hands on the best player in the NBA, which has helped them to win 16 championships in the course of their illustrious history. Every generation has a new Laker that is arguably the best player in the entire NBA. Whereas other teams try to collect a group of slightly above average players, the Lakers understand that to win you need the absolute best player in the NBA surrounded by a good supporting cast.


In 1949 at the beginning of the Lakers franchise, when the Lakers were in Minneapolis, they managed to pick up a player from the defunct Chicago American Gears of the NBL. That player was of course "Mr. Basketball", the original 7 footer George Mikan. Mikan revolutionized the game and helped the Lakers to 5 titles in his 7 years with the team.

After Mikan retired, the Lakers went into a bit of a tailspin, but with a bit of luck (of course) they managed to select Elgin Baylor in 1958 (1st overall) and Jerry West in 1960 (2nd overall), and completely resurrect their franchise after their move to L.A. Unfortunately in the 60's, there was this other team called the Celtics that won every title in that decade except for one. The only time they didn't win the title was in 1967 when they were ousted by the Wilt Chamberlain led Sixers who went on to win it all that year. Now why do you think I would mention that? Of course, the Lakers acquired Wilt Chamberlain the very next year, leading the Sixers to eventually become the 9-73ers, and eventually leading the Lakers to another title in 1972. The Lakers core was getting pretty old at this time though, and changes were needed.

As it turns out, the eventual all-time NBA scoring leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was unhappy in Milwaukee and wanted to be traded. And wouldn't you know it? The Lakers were able to acquire him in 1975. What was supposed to be downtime for the Lakers, was about to again turn into "Showtime". Despite having Kareem, the Lakers somehow still got the first overall draft pick in 1979 and picked up Earvin Magic Johnson from Michigan State. Despite seemingly always being competitive, the Lakers also tank at just the right time, get the #1 pick, and draft the next best player in the NBA. It's not fair. Of course, with the Magic man the Lakers went on to win 5 NBA titles in the 1980s. Things would all change again in the 1990s.

The magic ended abruptly in La La Land when Magic Johnson announced he had HIV and had to retire in 1991. For the next few years it looked like the Lakers were on the decline again. Of course in 1996 though, they were able to sign the most dominant player in the game in Shaquille O'Neal. Since they had Shaq, previous center Vlade Divac was expendable, and in a curious move on draft day the Lakers traded him for high schooler Kobe Bryant. 3 championships later, Shaq moved on and Kobe was left to carry on the Laker dynasty.

Since then Kobe Bryant has asserted himself as the best player in the NBA, and proved it by guiding the Lakers to another championship last year. Moreover, Kobe also set the Lakers scoring record last night in Memphis. It seems as if every decade, the Lakers are able to get their hands on the best player in basketball and add to their trove of NBA titles in constant pursuit of the Celtics. Who knows? Might we just so happen to see Lebron in a Lakers uni someday? Or will they tank at the perfect time and pick up the next NBA great via the draft. Whatever way it happens, it just always seems to go right for the Lakers.