TBOR Athlete of the Month - April, 2010 (Plus 1993 Review)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Phil Mickelson. 

Runners-up: Brian Zubek, Ubaldo Jimenez, Vernon Wells

Mickelson joins the previous 3 winners in the race for TBOR Athlete of the Year.

Here's how that race turned out in 1993.  Jordan won the AP Award - and he won mine too - but in retrospect, Steffi Graf's 3/4 of the Grand Slam maybe should have gotten her the nod. 

Athlete of the Year - Michael Jordan

January - Emmitt Smith (Frank Reich, David Robinson, Troy Aikman)
February - Alexander Mogilny (Hakeen Olajuwon, Mark Price, Tom Kite)
March - Sheryl Swoopes (Mario Lemieux, Hakeem Olajuwon, Jason Kidd)
April - Hakeem Olajuwon (Bernhard Langer, Shannon Miller, Alexander Mogilny)
May - Wayne Gretzky (Curtis Joseph, Michael Jordan, Riddick Bowe)
June - Michael Jordan (Julie Krone, Lee Janzen, Steffi Graf)
July - Ken Griffey (Barry Bonds, Greg Norman, Miguel Indurain)
August - Steffi Graf (Tony Gwynn, Paul Azinger, Don Mattingly)
September - Barry Bonds (Mark Whiten, Jon Carney, Terry Pendleton)
October - Paul Molitor (Dave Stewart, Lenny Dykstra, Joe Carter)
November - Evander Holyfield (Jerry Rice, Glenn Foley, Hakeem Olajuwon)
December - Sterling Sharpe (Marcus Allen, Rodney Hampton, Steve Young)

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: April 18-24 2010.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dear Internet:

Can I get away with beginning Tendown with the phrase "let's get it poppin'"?  I used to watch Arsenio when I was an undergrad, with his giant Crayola suits and aerodynamic hair and think, "I will never be this cool - there's no circumstance where I'll ever be able to say Give it up - for Bell Biv DeVoe! and then lead the dog pound with a rapid series of fist pumps."

I was right.

This is Tendown 24. Here's Arsenio interviewing the Ultimate Warrior. Let's get it poppin'!

First: No Warrants Shall Issue But Upon Probable Cause

 A Tendown meme is the distance between conservative rhetoric about (1) fidelity to the Constitution and (2) the need for government to be small and not intrusive and the reality of the positions they support.  Just Last Week, in Tendown 23, I wrote about Virginia adopting an essay requirement (with church attendance as an apparent relevant factor) in determining when former felons are permitted a restoration of their voting rights.  Specifically, I wrote about it in terms of a lack of right wing response about tyranny.  Seems inarguable that, in a political year so focused around a Tea Party movement which is so predicated upon the conviction that government is acting without popular mandate, that there's nothing more central to distinguishing democracy from tyranny than the right to vote.  But here American citizens are, deprived of their right to vote, and yet no coverage on Fox News.  No rally from Michele Bachmann.  No incendiary speeches about "taking our country back." 

Makes you think conservatives don't really care about democracy at all.  A staggering notion.

This week, Arizona passed a law empowering police to stop -anyone- upon "reasonable suspicion" that that person might be an illegal immigrant and require that person to provide papers proving legal status.  We're about to have confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court justice, and the conservatives will claim (no matter who the nominee is) that the nominee is unqualified given his/her "judicial activism" and a lack of fidelity to the constitutional text.  We want - they will say - in an argument that will echo across Fox News and drip down into the mouths of the Tea Baggers, someone who is a "strict constructionist" - who applies the plain and clear language of the Constitution instead of "legislating from the bench." 

If you like, feel free to pull out your copy of the Constitution and look for the phrase "reasonable suspicion."

I'll wait.

Here's Arsenio talking to Dice.  You know, just to have on in the background while you look.

There's a reason half of the Bill of Rights are limits on the government in the exercise of its criminal justice function; what the founding fathers who today's conservatives deify recognized is that the place where "big government" can most directly intrude upon the lives of Americans is in its ability to take away our liberty.  The 4th Amendment standard, requiring "probable cause" in order for police to conduct a search was specifically intended to require the government to have clear, articulable evidence that a suspect has committed a crime.  Conservatives have been lowering that bar for decades, increasing the power of the government in instances like traffic stops and public school searches by creating a lower standard of reasonable suspicion in specialized circumstances.  Reasonable suspicion is essentially just the judgment of a government official, "I suspect you of a crime, and most government officials in that situation would similarly suspect you."  It is a standard consciously, intentionally less than the probable cause standard written in the Constitution.  It is a standard which consciously, intentionally increases the ability of the government to intrude upon our lives in the most personal way possible.

So- this week - when Arizona said that anyone, at anytime, for virtually any reason can be required to prove legal status - it so completely hit the juxtaposition of those two key conservative principles - that there's just no way one can seriously accept (1) constitutional fidelity and (2) limited government as hallmarks of the American right wing given the utter lack of outrage by the right at this decision.  To the contrary, they support it.

The right does not care about small government.  The right does not care about the Constitution.

The right does believe in authoritarianism.  As long as they're the authorities.  That's what it worships.

And it finds any other government configuration illegitimate and will come as closely as it can for calling for armed resistance to it.  Remember that the next time the Tea Party is on television rallying against Obama's "tyranny" and literally crying about how he's "taking their Constitutional rights away."  Remember that this summer when every right winger on television is using the phrase "judicial activist" and "strict constructionism" to discuss the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.  If you can take that away from this week - it's the best element of the past 7 days.

After the jump, the rest of the Tendown.

More Mockery - 2010 Mock NFL Draft - Round Two

Friday, April 23, 2010

33. St Louis - Golden Tate WR Notre Dame
34. Minnesota - Zane Beadles G Utah
35. Tampa - Taylor Mays S USC
36. KC - Terrence Cody DT Alabama
37. Philadelphia - Dexter McCluster RB  Mississippi
38. Cleveland - Colt McCoy QB Texas
39. Oakland - Jimmy Claussen QB NDame
40. Miami - Sergio Kindle OLB Texas
41. Buffalo - Roger Saffold T Indiana
42. TB - Arrelious Benn WR Illinois
43. Balt - Daryl Washington OLB TCU
44. NE - Donald Butler ILB Washington
45. Denver - Sean Lee ILB Penn St.
46. NYG - Brandon Spikes MLB Florida
47. NE - Toby Gerhart RB Stanford
48. Carolina - Jordan Shipley WR Tex
49. Niners - Brandon Ghee CB Wake Forest
50. KC - Charles Brown T USC
51. Houston - Brandon Tate RB Auburn
52. Pittsburgh - Damien Williams WR USC
53. NE - Rob Gronkowski TE Arizona
54. Cincinnati - Eric Norwood OLB SCarolina
55. Philly - Vladimir Ducasse G UMass
56. GB - Javier Arenas CB Alabama
57. Baltimore - Dezmon Briscoe WR Kansas
58. Arizona - Pat Angerer ILB Iowa
59. Dallas - Bruce Campbell T Maryland
60. Seattle - Brian Price DT UCLA
61. NYJ - Everson Griffin DE USC
62. Minn - Joe McKnight RB USC
63. Indianapolis - John Jerry T Mississippi
64. NO - Ricky Sapp LB Clemson

2010 NFL Mock Draft (Or - Please, Please, Please Don't Pick Jimmy Clausen)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I need a moment to discuss an underappreciated baseball story this week.

My Giants, who you may recall, had baseball's best record after the first week, have now lost 4 straight, three of them by one run, and just got swept by the Padres.

Tuesday night, Jonathan Sanchez threw a one hitter, striking out a dozen.  And lost. 

But thanks for not getting us any bats, Brian.  Appreciate it.

Round one of the draft is tonight.  Lets do this.

1. St Louis - Sam Bradford QB Oklahoma
-I like Bradford fine, but there is no circumstance where I'd pick a QB in the top 4.  Yes, that means I don't get Peyton Manning, and if you get Peyton Manning, your life changes.  It also means I don't get Alex Smith, David Carr, JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Joey Harrington, you see my point.

You miss out on a defensive tackle, as the Rams apparently did with Adam Carriker, and its a missed opportunity, you cut bait and ship him off for a 5th round pick.  You miss out on Alex Smith and he loses you game after game after game for years.  Maybe, maybe, if a QB was clearly the highest rated player in his class and I didn't have a QB, I'd consider it if I couldn't trade down, but that is not the case this year.

But the Rams are in my division, so, go nuts. 

Additional Picks - The Rams have the top pick of the second round, I wouldn't be surprised, with the new format and that pick leading off Friday night, if someone is itching to deal into the slot - St Louis has so many needs (a legit number one WR being the foremost; a couple of pass rushers next) that they might deal out. 

2. Detroit - Ndamukong Suh DT Nebraska
He's the best prospect in the draft; were I turning in the pick for the Rams I'd be writing down his name.  His performance against Texas in the Big 12 Title game was as dominant a college defensive game as I can recall and I gave him my Heisman vote in no small part because of it. 

It's a need for Detroit, Suh can fill the Albert Haynesworth role in Jim Schwartz's 4-3 next to Corey Williams; it's not their most pressing need - the Lions need a number one CB and that's how I'd expect them to go with pick 34.  They also need a 3 down RB; if for some reason my favorite back in the draft, Ryan Matthews, slid out of round one, that's where they go. 

3. Tampa Bay - Gerald McCoy DT Oklahoma
His idol is Warren Sapp and the Bucs biggest need is a disruptive DT; you can put this pick in pen - just write it on your giant white board you keep in your living room right now.

You don't have a white board in your living room?  How do you record all the picks?  How else do you know when we get to Day 3 who the top remaining inside linebacker on the board is?  I don't know you at all anymore.

At #35 the Bucs need more defense, my guy, Taylor Mays, will probably still be on the board and they should take him.

4. Washington - Eric Berry S Tennessee
I'm diverging from all accepted wisdom here; the Skins biggest need is LT, but there isn't that can't miss top end tackle that you find in other draft classes - what there is however is the next Ed Reed; and the Skins also really need a safety.  I'm going to say they go with the value on the board and take Berry.

Albert Haynesworth is apparently not long for Mike Shanahan's 4-3 system; his contract is tough to move, but I would see Washington do all it can to get back into the second round to find that left tackle I've taken from them. 

5. Kansas City - Dan Williams NT Tennessee
The Chiefs are in a curious spot; they need a playmaking safety and most mocks have Berry right here for them when the Skins take the tackle - but they also need a space eating tackle - and Berry's teammate might be too tempting to pass up; this is an overdraft, I think - but I also don't think the Chiefs can trade down more than a pick or two and still get him.  If the Bucs don't take Mays with their second round pick, maybe the Chiefs get him at #36.

6. Seattle - Russell Okung T Oklahoma St
The Seahawks have multiple glaring needs - and if I'm turning in the pick I take Earl Thomas, as he's the best player on the board who fits one of those needs.  But there's yet to be a tackle taken if the draft unfolds this way - and if you're Seattle you can't pass up on the top rated lineman.  But man...Earl Thomas...if I'm a Seahawk fan, if I'm a Seahawk fan I'm hoping that both Berry and Thomas are still sitting here (as they may well be) - if the Skins take the tackle and the choice isn't Okung or Thomas - but the choice is Williams from Oklahoma or Thomas, then it's closer - if the choice is Williams or Berry, then I think Seattle takes the safety and looks to get the tackle with their second pick. 

7. Cleveland - Earl Thomas S Texas
The Browns need a QB - if Holmgren's in love with Claussen, as he might be, he might just take him here and deal with the "next Brady Quinn" fallout in Cleveland.  The Browns need a WR, and there's a number one WR sitting right there in Dez Bryant who has taken some character hits in the process - but who I would take in the top ten without hesitation.  One of those positions is where the Browns go at #38, my favorite QB in the draft is Colt McCoy, he's absolutely who I would want to run my west coast offense were I in the position of Cleveland or Seattle - I'd trade back into the bottom of the first round to get him - and if the Browns don't take Claussen here (or Bryant - Browns fans, it's okay to take Dez Bryant) McCoy does not get by them in the second.

8. Oakland - Trent Williams T Oklahoma
Most mocks (okay, all mocks) have a run on tackles in the top ten that wouldn't leave Williams available to Oakland here, and so that leaves the guess at the Raiders pick all over the damn place.  Admittedly, there are other reasons as to why the Raiders are hard to predict.  But if the most athletic tackle prospect in still on the board (he could go as high as 4 to the Skins) he can't get past Oakland.  They should cut bait on Russell, incidentally - and were I to be doing a more freewheeling mock draft I'd say they take this pick, and their #39 and send it to Pittsburgh for Roethlisburger.  Now that's a fun Thursday night at the NFL Draft - if Goodell comes to the podium and says "we have a trade" - a 28 year old 2 time Super Bowl winning QB headed to Oakland would be extra, extra fun.  I don't know who the Steelers would take - Claussen, maybe.  If the Steelers could move Ben to the Raiders for those two picks - then take the Raiders picks plus their number one pick - and offer that whole package to the Rams so they could move to the top spot and take Bradford, that would be a good turn of events too.  Steelers get Bradford.  Raiders get Big Ben.  Rams get 2 number ones and a high number two (is that enough?  do the Rams need Pittsburgh's second round also?  Lets throw that in.  Bradford to the Steelers, Ben to the Raiders - and 2 ones and 2 twos to the Rams. That will not happen - but if its the Rams somehow who are picking here, they take Bryant and people think I have a mole in the NFL.)

9. Buffalo - Bryan Bulaga T Iowa
This is the guy I want; I want Bulaga - I want Bulaga to just last 4 more picks and I want my Niners to take him and bookend him with Joe Staley.  That's what I want.  I don't think he gets past the Bills and I agree with the current McShay mock - Tim Tebow to Buffalo with their 2nd round pick (and maybe they have to trade into the very end of the first) makes sense too.  I wouldn't do it; wouldn't ever, ever do it - but it would make sense for the Bills. 

10. Jacksonville - Dez Bryant WR Oklahoma St
I just refuse to believe that a team in such desperate need for a number one WR can turn down a number one WR in this spot.  I'm not seeing it in the mocks - and the Jags do have other needs - if one of those safeties is still here, that would be hard to pass up - the Jags need an edge pass rusher, but this is not the year for a premium pass rusher - maybe they move out for someone who wants Claussen - but if its me, I absolutely take Bryant in this spot and I throw him the ball for the next 8 years. 

11. Denver - Rolando McClain ILB Alabama
-You know who is glad Bryant's not on the board - Josh McDaniels, cause they are in bad, bad, post Brandon Marshall need for a wideout, and then McDaniels has to deal with character questions from local media all offseason.  Instead of that - Denver fills its most pressing need, inside linebacker, with a guy given the imprint of off the charts leadership and high character.  McShay says they trade down to take Pouncey, which also makes a ton of sense - but if they stay here, and I think they should, they should take McClain.

12. Miami - Jason Pierre Paul DE South Florida
-Not a great year to need a pass rusher - but the Fish have their pick.  Morgan's and Graham are both safer - Kindle's a tweener - could be Parcells likes any of them more than JPP, who is a boom or bust (I'd predict the latter).  Almost cetainly though, given the needs of the teams above them and the value on the board, Miami will have its pick of the litter here.  I'm totally guessing to say it will be JPP.

(all I have time for now; hopefully I'll get back and edit in the rest of round one before the actual draft begins, just enough so literally no one will have time to read it when its still timely.  Hey, did you hear one of the women complaining about sexual harrassment from Steven Seagall is Ray Charles's granddaughter?)

13. San Francisco - Anthony Davis T Rutgers
I don't particularly like Davis.

Here's the thing - the Niners absolutely have got, without any question, to come out of this draft with two new linemen and a cornerback.  Ideally all of whom could start this season. There's been some Spiller talk in this spot and look, I like CJ Spiller (I'd rather have Matthews or Best) but I like CJ Spiller - however, the problem with this football team isn't Glen Coffee - it's the OL, and we need two new starters.  Fortunately, we have two first round picks.  Davis is clearly the 4th of the tackles and most projections have him gone by now - I sort of hope he is, because as much as we need linemen, the value in this spot is in the interior.  Mike Iupati and Maurkice Pouncey both look to my eyes as superior prospects, less bust potential - and as badly as we need a tackle, I'd be inclined to use one of the first round picks on an interior lineman.

Who I don't want, by the way, is my guy Brown - I don't love any of the Trojans in this years class, I'm good with Mays - I'm okay with Griffen - I sort of like Williams - I do not want Charles Brown, he's Kwame revisited.

If Davis is still there we have to take him.

McShay has us taking Clausen.

Please, please, please don't pick Jimmy Clausen.

I don't like Alex Smith - he's a backup.  So's David Carr. I think so is Jimmy Clausen - I think Clausen's a backup in waiting and I do not want him.  Two linemen and a corner.  Thank you.

14. Seattle - CJ Spiller RB Clemson
I don't think Pete can pass on the playmaker twice, but I don't think this is where they should go - if they get the tackle with the first pick, either a DE (Morgan still on the board) or better, Joe Haden, would make more sense to me.  Too hard not to take Spiller though I would guess.

15. NYG - Derrick Morgan DE Georgia Tech
The Giants have to be banking on McClain to take over the middle - but seeing him gone, they look to refurbish that DL rotation with the top rated end in the class.

16. Tennessee - Brandon Graham DE Michigan
Titans might be looking to flip with NY to get Morgan; if you're Seattle, you know neither NY or Tennessee will take Spiller, it gives you a trade down chance; see if that eventuates.

17. San Francisco - Joe Haden CB Florida
Haden immediately becomes a starter - this move allows us to take advantage of the uncapped year to cut Nate Clements.

18. Pittsburgh - Kareem Jackson CB Alabama
I don't know if the Steelers like Jackson or Haden more, Jackson might better fit their scheme - and this is a trade down situation given the numbers of needs they have (yes, Jimmy Claussen - still on the board; so is Golden Tate for that matter) but in this spot I'll say they get the fast CB.

19. Atlanta - Jerry Hughes OLB TCU
The best pass rusher in the draft - this would be a smart, smart pick.

20. Houston - Ryan Matthews RB Fresno St
Texans need a corner - and if either Haden or Jackson is still on the board, they probably take him - even then they might decide to reach just a little bit for Kyle Wilson (or deal down just a handful of picks).  But just as I have Hughes as the best pass rusher - I have Matthews as the best running back - I don't have any idea if the Texans are of a similar mind, but I just could not pass him up at this spot.

21. Cincinnati - Jermaine Gresham TE Oklahoma
Just seems like a perfect fit on every corner.  They might consider Claussen.

22. New England - Sergio Kindle OLB Texas
-Pats need an athletic, active outside linebacker - there happens to be one around.

23. Green Bay - Mike Iupati G Idaho
This could be a trade down - I'm debating here among Saffold and Wilson - but I'll say it's Iupati who turns out to be a Pro Bowl fan favorite down the road in green and gold.

24. Philadelphia - Maurkice Pouncey C Florida
Pouncey would be a great pick for the Eagles; this is the problem with a mock draft (the problem?  you think there's just the one?) I'm everyone's GM and now I'm in my own interior linemen run - "Jesus, I just took Iupati - I better hop on Pouncey before I miss out!"

25. Baltimore - Kyle Wilson CB Boise St
I'm listening to Rev Bob Levy cut a vicious promo on the Stern show; I don't know if anyone from the Howard crew responded today; the show has really, really misses Artie this year; it feels like they're marking time.  Oh - yeah, Wilson's good.  Good pick Ozzie.  Nice work.  Jimmy Claussen still sits in the draft room.

26. Arizona - Brian Price DT UCLA
I really like Price in this scheme.  I wonder if they rattle Leinart by taking Claussen.

27. Dallas - Roger Saffold T Indiana
If the Packers haven't already taken him, this is the best tackle left on the board to replace Flozell Adams.

28. San Diego - Terrence Cody DT Alabama
This is earlier than he's projected, and as the Chargers have the Seahawks pick early in the second they might wait - but I think they might, if Matthews is gone as I have him gone in this projection - decide to take Gerhart with that pick - so it's Cody here.

29. NJ Jets - Everson Griffin DE USC
I love everything the Jets have done this offseason, by the way.  The bet here is Ryan thinks he can get Griffin to rev his motor more consistently.

30. Minnesota - Jimmy Clausen QB Notre Dame
And then this happens.

31. Indianapolis - Charles Brown T USC
Best lineman still on the board - I don't like him, but this is a reasonable pick.

32. New Orleans - Sean Lee LB Penn St
The Saints won the Super Bowl.  Huh. 

Enjoy the draft.


1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: April 11-17, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dear Internet:

Real world family events will necessitate a truncated Tendown 23  (last week, I compared Tiger Woods to Glenn Beck, outed myself as not liking Crispy Sweet and Sour Fish, and gave my review of Woody Allen's "Whatever Works.")

This week and almost certainly next as well, all you get are links - my original concept behind Tendown was the list format could expand or contract in accordance with the amount of time I had to devote to it each week; in practice, I've turned a good portion of my time into Tendown incubation.  Presumably, that will return, as the value of this blog, at least for the writing of it, I can't speak for its reading ('cause I don't have time to read this, are you drunk?) is in the craftsmanship of the ideas.

And there's no time for ideas for at least a couple of weeks - so what you get are links.  Hot buttered links. Hopefully some will be of value.

1. Okay, this is not a link, just a curious observation I had.
Something weird happened on late night television this week; it was Tuesday night - Letterman was on a rerun, Leno (booooooo) and Fallon were new.

Here were Letterman's guests: Kelly Ripa, Lady Antebellum (I like them both incidentally, I don't listen to much country music, but I'm fine with Lady Antebellum, and Ripa and I are almost to the day the same age, and I've always enjoyed her.  She's could use a sandwich, perhaps.

Now, remember - that's a rerun.

On Leno that same night - Lady Antebellum.  On Fallon that same night - Kelly Ripa.

I didn't see this discussed anywhere - has this been going on long?  Is this a normal occurrence guests to appear on two of the late night shows on the same night?  I know the days where Freddy DeCordova would blackball Steve and Eydie if they went on Merv within 6 months after a Carson appearance have long past - but I was really surprised to see that on the digital guide this week.

2. Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber.
-It's a simple premise and one with, presumably, a short shelf life, but fun nontheless.

3. I Have A Copy of the Jersey Shore Location Contract

-You know that reality people on reality shows don't just decide "hey, let's go to that one restaurant with the guacamole that we always go to" for a show's production to set up at a particular location requires a lot of coordination - specifically, a location agreement worked out a healthy period beforehand.  Jersey Shore is headed down my way for season 2, and it's had a challenging time finding locations - including being turned down by a water park about 5 minutes from my lady type friend's home.

I have a copy of the standard Location Contract sent by Double Guns (the production company).  Included therein (true story) is the following paragraph:

You acknowledge and understand that the nature of the Project is such that Producer, for dramatic purposes, may make certain misrepresentations to you and others, which misrepresentations may relate to any and all topics of every kind and nature whatsoever. You acknowledge that, while such conduct might otherwise constitute an actionable tort, you have freely and knowingly consented to such conduct. You further acknowledge and understand that your participation in the Project may lead to emotional strains and pressures on you, your business, your friends, your co-workers and/or your family, before, during and after your participation in the Project. You further understand that Producer’s use of the Property in connection with the Project, and your actions and the actions of others displayed in the Project, may be disparaging, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature and may expose you, your business, your friends, your co-workers and/or your family to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation. You are voluntarily allowing Producer to use the Property and you are voluntarily participating in the Project and related activities with full knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the personal risks involved and hereby agree to accept any and all risks of participating in the Project.    

4. Did You See What JT Wrote to Russell?
A commenter asked after I made a previous Survivor post in Tendown about my top 5 Survivor players ever; I referenced JT - saying that the combination of his having won the game previously using one strategy - and now about the make the merge in All-Stars using a different strategy, made him worthy of consideration.

I was in error.  The only thing missing from that letter was "If you like me, check this box".

5. Just Like Mom
I don't know anything about the show or the host - but you want to see behavior from twenty five years ago that would never get on television today - here is Canadian game show host Fergie Olver from the 1980s.

6. Norm Ornstein
Here's Ornstein, in the Washington Post, taking the position I articulated recently that the Republican leadership does not believe its criticism of Obama.

7. Want to Vote?  Go to Church?
It almost got overlooked given his recent proclamation of April as Confederate History Month which didn't mention slavery, but Bob McDonnell's done something else - instituted an essay requirement for non-violent felons to regain their voting rights in Virginia following their sentences.  It's a literacy test, which is, you know, filled with overtones in US history - but the part that struck me is, included in the official request for a written letter, directed personally to McDonnell, by former felons is that they include an account of any "church" activities they have been in since being released.

Meaning that, in some way, there is weight given in the state of Virginia, right now, in 2010, to one's church activities when deciding who has the right to vote.

Somehow, I have missed the Tea Party anger about this.  Aren't they opposed to "big government"?  Hasn't the full weight of the Fox News/Tea Party argument been "get government out of our lives before we get our guns"?  Isn't that the argument?

Want to Vote?  Go to Church sounds like incredibly big and intrusive government to me. 

But yet - no protest march.  Huh.

8. 47%
But what did draw a lot of anger on Fox this week was this idea that 47% of Americans don't pay taxes.

I thought they liked low taxes?  Right?  Lower taxes, say the tea parties? 

Apparently not - apparently only certain types of people, for certain types of reasons, think government is too big.  Government in my wallet - hey, quit that - government everywhere else, well, just fine. 

Putting aside that those Americans pay social security and sales taxes, both of which are regressive (disproportionately hurting people of lesser incomes) there's this:

In 2006 the top .001 percent of Americans averaged 976 times more income than America's bottom 90%.

But yet - the anger that you see on the streets - the one given all that Fox News airtime - is anger at "redistribution" of wealth.  The "I'll shoot you if you vote for that bill" rhetoric is about providing more health care to more people.  There's no better example of a society so organized around lining the pockets of the wealthiest - and our popular uprising essentially is "don't think about taking a dime away from our corporate overlords.  Make sure the rich get richer!!  U-S-A!"

People have been conditioned to feel that way - fed the propaganda of the corporate state that tells them that it's a natural occurrence of the marketplace that all of the wealth is in so few hands - and when they see any attempt to suggest it might be otherwise, they don't have the mental flexibility to incorporate those thoughts into their worldview.  That they live in such a hermetically sealed fact-free world bodes very, very badly for the future of the country. 

9. Go Read Today's Frank Rich.

10. And Go Buy Cat Toys From my Lady Type Friend.
For two reasons 1.'Cause she makes good stuff.  Only toys my cat has ever played with.  True fact.

2. And 'cause she is my favorite of all the people.  You can't have her.  But you can click the link and buy her cat toys. 

That's it - I'll see you next time, if there is a next time.

Your pal,


2010 NBA Playoff Picks

Friday, April 16, 2010

I heart hoops.  Playoffs start this weekend.  My pre-season picks are here.  Viewing it would show you that I did well.  I picked Cleveland's record exactly (61-21); the largest disparity between my projection and the Vegas pre-season over/under (which, in every sport, is the thing I ask you to check - listen to me, people, I'm always giving you predictions, but I say, over and over again - when you should most seriously take my advice is before the season, when looking at those over/under win totals - that's where you can find the real bargains) was Detroit (actual wins 27, my pick 35, Vegas over/under 41.5) and Memphis (actual wins 40, my pick 36, Vegas over/under total 27.5).  I was practically begging you - begging you to invest in Memphis this season.

I don't ever have the confidence picking a short series that I do in thinking about the season as a whole (and in, say, football, I don't have the confidence picking a single game that I have picking a short series) so you should take my thoughts accordingly here.  Nonetheless.  Let's pick some hoops.

Los Angeles v. Oklahoma City - Lakers in 7 (such a close series, LA is better but only a little bit. It's Kevin Durant time).
Dallas v. San Antonio - Spurs in 7 (I didn't take the 8 over the 1, but I will take the 7 over the 2, what a great series this is going to be).
Phoenix v. Portland - Suns in 6 (not that close)
Denver v. Utah - Jazz in 6 (also not that close, if they turned out to be 5 game series I wouldn't be surprised)

Lakers v. Jazz - Lakers in 7, I don't like the matchups for Utah - I think the Jazz might be the best team in the West - but lack the frontcourt athleticism to matchup with LA

Suns v. Spurs - Suns in 7, only because of homecourt and the challenge the Spurs face in the first round, I'm going back and forth on this one, and that's important, given what I'm going to say about the West Finals

Suns v. Lakers - Suns in 7.  I know, right?  I'm knocking Kobe out before the finals.  Madness. 

Cleveland v. Chicago - Cavs in 5 (the Bulls have no chance to win this series if LeBron stays on the court)
Orlando v. Charlotte - Magic in 5 (the Hornets have no chance to win this series if Howard stays on the court, note the disparity between the challenges faces by the top teams in the West to the no doubt about it first round series in the East)
Atlanta v. Milwaukee - Hawks in 4 (yeah, I'm picking a sweep. I said it.)
Boston v. Miami - Heat in 7 (have you seen the Celtics?  I think Cornbread Maxwell is coming off the bench)

Cavs v. Heat - Cavs in 5, I'm telling you, unless LeBron gets hurt, there is no circumstance where Cleveland isn't in the conference finals. 
Magic v. Hawks - Magic in 6, this is an interesting matchup - Orlando's gonna win, but if it goes 7 and suddenly you're looking at the possibility of the Hawks going to the East finals and you had no idea they were that good, here it is.

Cavs v. Magic - Cavs in 7.  It's a coronation.

Cavs v. Suns - Cavs in 7.  I said, "it's a coronation."  Come on. 

LeBron wins the chip - and the Athlete of the Year Award.  Boom!  King James!

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: April 4-10 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dear Internet:

This is how they get me. 

Among the matters I mentioned Last Week, in Tendown 21 (the great Russell takedown of Boston Rob; Domino's 6 fingered pizza box; the retirement of Shawn Michaels; and a terrific website on television tropes) I noted my plan not to purchase the MLB Extra Innings package this year.  This is an extreme, extreme rarity for me; I left the San Francisco Bay Area when I was 11 and, except for a few years in my 20s, I've been an ex-pat ever since.  In the fall of 1994, I began my third year of law school (law school's three years) on the first day of a class in Corporations, we were assigned campus email addresses.  I know for many the internet was a rolled out enterprise; you - yes, you - may have had Prodigy message board access prior to '94 - but for me, it was not just like one day in 1947 Dad came home with a DuMont RA 102 and I finally got to watch Kukla, Fran and Ollie - it was like I was heretofore unaware that such magical images flew through the air.  The experience of being alive transformed for me in a way I had never anticipated.

My very first search was for all matters San Francisco sports (wrestling was second, Elisabeth Shue, third) - and as the media technology advanced; my desire to live as if I was still within driving distance of Candlestick Park increased (My subscription is part of the reason for Mark Cuban making a billion dollars - and I'm still a member of the KNBR fan club).

What that has meant this century is the MLB Extra Innings package, for the past several years through digital cable.  I've seen more Giants games in the past decade than the rest of my life combined, and by a significant factor.  This year, however, I am planning on moving by the All-Star Break, and perhaps switching cable companies - therefore, I made a strategic decision not to purchase the package, giving up Krukow and Kuiper and the Comcast Bay Area commercials - and just utilize the range of my other technological options to follow the progress of my ballclub. 

And then this week happened.  And it's the best thing from the past 7 days.

First:  Everytime I Think I'm Out - They Pull Me Back In.

At the time of this writing, the Giants are 4-1 and have the best record in the National League.

Here's what those opium pushers at the cable company do - they offer that first week for free; just a little taste - a little taste of baseball; my Giants, on for free, everyday.  

Monday - Lincecum whips the Astros
Tuesday - Zito shuts out the Astros
Wednesday - We get 19 hits.  I would have gone under on 19 hits as our total for the whole series had I made such a prediction.
Friday - A Bottom of the 9th comeback and a 4 hour 13 inning win.  I decide to name my first born son Renteria.  If he were to hit that same homer in October, I'll make it my first born daughter. 
Saturday - Okay, this didn't go that well.  We're only going to play .800 ball this year. 

How do you quit that?  How? 

I mean, I know it's just one week - and later on today, the 10th anniversary of Pac Bell Park (Barry returns!  Bar-ry!  Bar-ry!) the rest of the sports world will be watching Tiger - me, I'll be charting Lincecum's curveballs - later on today, my guess is we lose - and then by April's end we're .500 on our way to my predicted 81-81 finish, and, as I've said before, we will never win a Series in my lifetime, and I'm just setting myself up for another season (or half a season, until I move) of devastating late inning losses that I watch at 5 in the morning on my DVR before heading off to my demoralizing work schedule.

But - I mean - come on!  Come on!  I've seen every game this year and we're 4-1 - if I stop watching the games and we start losing - WHOSE FAULT IS THAT? WHOSE?  WHOSE? 


Hey, I said I didn't believe there was some sort of omnipotent monotheistic divine figure - I never said I didn't believe in the Baseball Gods - I've seen Bull Durham - you have to respect the streak.  Respect the Streak! 

So, thanks, 4-1 San Francisco Giants.  It's your fault I'm out 180 bucks and a couple hours every day between now and the All-Star Break.  Thanks.  Thanks a lot.

4-1!  Madness.  After the jump - the rest of the Tendown.

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: March 28-April 3 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dear Internet:

Hi.  It's my Politics-Free issue of Tendown 21 - and I'm bursting, just bursting to tell you what's First this week - like I'm taking Tendown hot out of the oven and delivering a greasy slice to your waiting fingers, Last Week,  we discussed Barthes, David Frum, the health care bill, and Russell beginning his move against Boston Rob on Survivor - a move he completed this week, in what was just a tremendously booked angle.  If you watch graps but not Survivor, it's just error, as you got a chance to see some clean, old school booking this season.  The end of that feud, with Rob getting taken out this week, is the best thing from the past seven days.

First: RIP: Boston Rob

Boston Rob is a legendary heel; he has as deep a heel resume as is possible on reality television, having done two previous shots of Survivor, and Amazing Race, and his own series where he took up professional poker - in each incarnation, he was young, punky upstart scoundrel heel.  He ran the first All-Star season back in '04, including a terrific maneuver where he doublecrossed Lex by using their "real life" friendship to request that Lex protect Amber (the heretofore innocent ingenue who wound up, as Rob's valet, winning All-Stars and then marrying Rob, in what was reality tvs best booked relationship to that date).  Rob's doublecross of Lex should be studied (and probably is) by academics who analyze the unofficial structural boundaries set up in reality competition shows.  Rob's argument was "I lied - I'm Rob, that's what I do.  It's a game." But Lex's argument was that by invoking their "outside the game" relationship - that Rob had violated an unwritten rule, sort of like bunting to break up a no-hitter.  It is a debate so clearly burned in my mind that although I have not seen the clip even one additional time since its original airing 6 years ago, I can easily recall internalizing at the time that Rob and Lex were defining the parameters of reality competition - is there a line between the show and the real world?  That Rob would then marry his partner Amber (thereby making the jury decision between them meaningless, as they were the final 2 in that initial All-Stars season; Rob was enough of a heel at that point that the speculation that he had worked his way into a marriage with Amber just for the money was not entirely a joke) would further blur the lines, perhaps destroy the line, between show and life would be an amplification of that theme.  The element of the scripted reality show, as best understood by the Hills, that most interests me is not that "it's fake", that's almost as silly a criticism as calling wrestling fake - it's that real life, in a near Truman Show way, is being scripted.  Rob and Amber weren't told to align, weren't prompted to marry - but the conditions into which they were placed, the incentives that they were given (they got married on television) moved them to places their real lives otherwise would not have gone - and then when Spencer and Heidi get married years later as part of a storyline - sure, it's scripted - there's LC leaving as Kristin arrives - it's a storyline - but it was a wedding; Spencer and Heidi are actually married - their real lives and their lives on a script have no distinction, to the point that Heidi's crazy multiple plastic surgeries can be viewed as her attempt to always be in makeup.  Human Giant did a sketch where Paul Scheer was an actor on a Star Trek-like television series; he was an alien and had to go through hours of makeup each day - so he decided to have plastic surgery to always be in costume (the joke coming when the show was then quickly canceled so he was stuck in that face trying to get additional jobs).  That's Heidi Montag; she's more plastic than person now and her show is going off the air. 

Rob and Amber then became probably the most aggressively heel team to that date in the Amazing Race; a game which had different unofficial rules than Survivor, was seen by its players as more noble, less cutthroat - but they formed and broke alliances, and memorably stood apart from the rest of the competitors in not stopping to aid Greg and Brian upon seeing their traffic accident.  Rob here again was saying "everything is part of the game" in his definition of the parameters of competition - but the rest of the race teams disagreed, that a car accident was beyond the game and shouldn't be a determining factor.  There's probably a book somewhere about unofficial rules (The Unofficial Rulebook...or the Official/Unofficial Rulebook or the Official Book of Unofficial Rules) they really only come to the public consciousness whenever there's a baseball dispute or a golfer calls a penalty against himself, and sports talk radio gets a few days of apoplexy that such ideas exist - a caller will scream that "only the offiical rules should apply" as he's driving 50 mph in a 45 mph zone, certain (and correctly so) that he won't get pulled over, because, despite his breaking the letter of the law - he knows that unofficially, that's not how the law is really enforced.  The caller will not make the connection between those two concepts. 

But a few years have passed since the Amazing Race and Rob's subsequent attempt to be a poker playing heel; on this all star Survivor season he was paired against a new school heel, Russell, a man who poured out the water from camp - coined the phrase "dumbass girl alliance" and even, in this All Star season, took the dastardly step of attempting to hide Rob's Red Sox cap (sort of the equivalent of taking a luchadore's mask) and a very clear generational difference was set up this season that served to turn Rob babyface.  Whereas the newer players were inclined to jake the "survival" portion of the game in favor of strategizing, Rob was the pillar of camp; Rob was the leader at challenges; Rob carried the tribe on his back - all the while being drawn closer to a confrontation with Russell. 

Last week, as I wrote about in Tendown 20; Russell deftly outmaneuvered Rob, protecting his ally Parvati (I can't see a scenario where she'd ever get a jury vote after having won the Fans v. Favorites season, but if Parvati Shallow, who joins the Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in the "come on, that's not a real name; these are professional wrestling names like Jack Swagger or Jay Lethal" club wins again - she steps into the reality competition Pantheon with Evil Dr. Will) at the expense of Rob's ally Tyson - and this week, Russell leveraged the "loyalty" demonstrated by his move to get another old school heel Jeri Manthey (and there could be another discussion about the Jeri/Parvati dynamic as a shadow of the Rob/Russell dynamic, except with sex as the additional element; and Colby/James may have been booked to complete the old school/new school triology had James not blown out his knee) to flip, joining Russell's alliance and sending Rob home.

It was a supersmart episode in what has been a really good season of Survivor; in a week of well booked wrestling angles (to be discussed later in the Tendown) the best of them featured no wrestling at all.

After the jump, the rest of the Tendown.

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