Monthly Archives: December 2010

That’s One Crazy Mother Tucker!

Tucker Carlson (the bow-tied, adolescent-looking dweeb who formerly hosted shows on CNN and MSNBC) has been filling in as the host of Hannity this week. In case you missed it, on Tuesday, he discussed President Obama’s call to Philadelphia Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie in which the President thanked the Eagles organization for signing Michael Vick and giving him a second chance. In regards to Vick’s treatment of dogs, Carlson opined, “I think, personally, he should have been executed for that.”

First, let’s look at Obama’s phone call, which was the basis for Carlson’s off-the-wall proposed death sentence for Vick. I lean towards thinking it wasn’t the best of ideas to be praising the Eagles for allowing Vick back into the NFL, if for no other reason than it causes a ton of unneeded backlash (see video above). But the timing seems completely out of whack. The Eagles gave Vick this second chance about 16 or so months ago; where was President Obama’s call then? It seems odd to wait until the end of his second season with Philadelphia to place a call.

Now onto the “execution” comment from Carlson. I’ve been checking comment boards from various sites that have stories and video of this, and the consensus is that this was a pretty ridiculous statement, and I am without a doubt part of that majority. I see no reason how Vick’s actions warranted the death penalty. The only good that would have come from it would be the Giants probably would have won the NFC East this year.

I’ll give the obligatory, yet sincere disclaimer that I don’t condone what Vick did with those dogs, and if no NFL team chose to sign him after his release from prison I would have been OK with that.

But execution? If that’s really what Carlson wants, then he’d have to rearrange the whole justice system. If killing dogs gets you executed, then parking in a handicap spot might get you six months in jail; jaywalking would be a $10,000 fine; not having exact change at a toll would get you deported. You get the point. It’s over-the-top nonsense coming from a guy who looks more like he should be tearing your movie tickets rather than talking news.

But it’s so crazy that I had to take a step back and think about my good old communication courses that I took at UMass, which taught me to take just about everything I hear and read in the media with a grain of salt. Fox News didn’t become the #1 rated cable news channel by being predictable and boring. Just like a sitcom or drama on TV, ratings are the bottom line for a news channel.

If Tucker Carlson only said he didn’t like the fact that Obama called the Eagles and left it at that, then Carlson is not making news today and I’m not writing about him. That’s some extra attention for Fox News. See, it worked!

Does Carlson really believe that Michael Vick should have been executed? I say no. But by saying what he did, he’s in the news today. It’s basically shock journalism and it gets people watching and talking. Right now he’s a substitute teacher in a way; he doesn’t have his own show, so his ability to stir the pot like this might be appealing for a cable news channel to bring him in full time for his own gig.

I will go as far as saying that Tucker Carlon’s whole persona—the bow tie, the irritating nerdiness, and statements like this—are a calculated move on his part to create a unique niche in the cable news landscape.

So before anyone gets up in arms over what he said about Michael Vick, keep in mind that Fox News is in the business of getting ratings and making money (as is MSNBC, to be fair), so more often than not entertainment value trumps logic.

UPDATE TO ORIGINAL POST: On second viewing of the video clip, I see that Carlson was not wearing his signature bow tie, which puts a couple of holes in my argument. Damn you, Tucker Carlson!


In Case You Missed Yesterday’s Radio Show…

You can listen to yesterday’s Talkin’ Sports with Balls Midday Show by clicking the button below. I vented a bit about the Giants, Scott talked about his trip to Foxboro to see the Packers-Patriots game, and plenty more.

Listen to internet radio with Talk Sports W/balls on Blog Talk Radio

The Talkin’ Sports with Balls Midday Show – Today at 2 p.m. Eastern

Join me and my co-hosts (Mike Orzechowski and Scoutt Boucher) for the Talkin’ Sports with Balls Midday Show at 2 p.m. Eastern this afternoon.

It should be a good one today. Mike and Scott went to the Packers-Patriots game on Sunday night, so they’ll recap that experience. And I’ll have plenty to say about the Giants-Eagles game of course. Feel free to call in at (347) 205-9929 and join the conversation.

“Just a Game?”…I Wish

AP Photo

Us sports fans are sick. We really are. I’m talking about the die-hards, not the ones who just tune in for the big games. There is something totally irrational about letting the outcome of a game affect one’s mood for an entire day, week, etc. Why do we care so much?

In a way I envy those who can simply say, “It’s just a game.” I know my life would be much less stressful, much more productive, and probably more enriched if I could heed that philosophy. But at this point, having been a sports fanatic for nearly a quarter of a century, having worked in sports in various capacities for almost a decade, it would be just about impossible to brush off any game of consequence involving one of my teams.

It’s certainly not a coincidence that I’m writing this the day after my favorite football team, the New York Giants, suffered what can be considered the worst single-game collapse in NFL history, surrendering a 21-point lead to the Philadelphia Eagles with about seven-and-a-half minutes to go in the game. I don’t need to rehash any more of the details. Anyone who happens to be reading this probably knows how it went down, and besides, it’s already painful enough.

In a strange way, this kind of mirrors what my favorite baseball team (my favorite team in all of sports), the Mets, did in 2007 and to a lesser extent in 2008. The Mets’ collapses in those years were slow deaths. The Giants-Eagles game was the rip-the-band-aid-off equivalent.

It’s moments like these where I wish I didn’t care so much. I had nothing to do with it. Hell, I was about 3,000 miles away from the debacle. Not one person in the Giants’ organization knows who I am or that I’ve supported the team for the last 20+ years. During my worst days no one on the Giants was miserable because of something I completely screwed up. If it weren’t for geographical or hereditary reasons I would have no interest in the Giants.

For me to be crushed because a bunch of millionaires crumbled against another group of millionaires in different colored jerseys sounds crazy. But then again, there are people like me all over the world; people that live and die with their teams. Just how did this sickness spread so far and wide?

It’s easy to ponder all this after a horrendous loss. But believe it or not, I’ve asked these questions after the best moments too. When the Giants won the Super Bowl in the 2007 season I was obviously elated and could not wipe the smile off my face for at least 24 hours after the game ended. But a few days later I admit I thought to myself, “Why exactly am I so thrilled? I didn’t do anything.”It’s not as if at the victory parade in New York one the players thanked me during his speech. I don’t exist as far my teams are concerned, yet these guys have the power to either make me feel like I won the lottery or feel like I’m at a funeral.

It’s too simple and completely inaccurate to say the fans aren’t important. We all knows sports wouldn’t exist without them. And a home advantage can be huge, especially in key moments. But fans are vital to other forms of entertainment too. Without fans, there would not be concerts or movies or Broadway shows.

But there is a huge difference in those forms of entertainment and sports. If you see a bad movie, you’re probably disappointed, maybe a little annoyed. And you’ll tell your friends not to see it. A band plays a horrendous show, you’re pissed. But there’s no real equivalent with those types of performances to what the Giants did yesterday. It’s an empty feeling for me, with DeSean Jackson adding that little extra knife twisting into my heart as he tight roped the goal line with the clock showing all zeros yesterday.

If the Giants win next week, they are in the playoffs. That would take a lot of the sting away. And if that happens, I’ll surely be in a good mood Sunday night. But if they lose? Well, it’s just a game, right? I wish.

#3 Is it Cool To Be a Knicks Fan Again?

It has been about a decade since being a New York Knicks fan has been fashionable—or at least not embarrassing. Although the franchise has not won a championship in my lifetime, it was one I could be proud of essentially since I started following basketball in the late ’80s until the end of last century.

The Knicks were of course built around Patrick Ewing all those years, but aside from having an eventual Hall-of-Famer they were the toughest team around. Guys like Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason and John Starks were players that would fight to the death. Not exactly comparable to the drek of the 2000s where we were treated to Stephon Marbury’s underachieving and his off-court drama, Quentin Richardon’s inability to come close to the player he was in Phoenix, Jerome James and his bloated contract/weight, Eddy Curry’s weight gain/production drop, and the guy who sums up the decade of doom, Isiah Thomas.

During the last decade, when I would get into conversations with people about the NBA and the subject of our favorite teams came up, mentioning that I was a Knicks fan was equivalent to saying Justin Bieber is my favorite musician (or saying I’m a Mets fan, but that’s for another post). I was ashamed of what this once-proud franchise had become. Fans would come with paper bags over their heads, ready to boo at the first media timeout. There were plenty of empty seats at Madison Square Garden for the first time in years. And why not? The prices were still sky high to come watch the NBA’s punching bag.

The firing of Isiah Thomas and hiring of Mike D’Antoni, along with hiring GM Donnie Walsh, brought renewed hope in 2008. And with the Knicks positioning themselves financially to obtain LeBron James in the offseason before the 2010-11 season, there was some promise, despite the product on the court largely producing the same old results.

When the Knicks didn’t land LeBron, but “settled” for Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, it still felt like the Knicks were playing second fiddle (or perhaps an even lower ranked fiddle) to the more superior teams around the league. I saw the opening night roster as one that could possibly squeak the team into the postseason but probably not much more. And the frustrating part was that it seemed that that was probably as good as it was going to get, with Miami set for years to come, the Bulls inching towards being an elite team, Orlando and Atlanta still right there, and the Celtics good for another run or two.

But now the Knicks are 16-10. Will they surpass my expectations of just getting into the playoffs? It’s hard to say this early, especially since they haven’t played a ton of good teams yet. But if you’ve watched the team this year, even in some losses, you know this team is different. No one seems to be dogging it. No one has vendettas against the coach from what I know. And Amar’e Stoudemire has been even better than I think the most optimistic Knicks fan could have dreamed.Raymond Felton has also been better than anyone thought, giving the Knicks their best point guard since…I don’t know, Mark Jackson? Needless to say he’s a huge improvement over Chris Duhon or the enigmatic Marbury.

Oh yeah, and there is a decent chance that they will land Carmelo Anthony, which would form an unstoppable pair of players when combined with Stoudemire.

I’m not used to considering the Knicks a good team. To go from brutal year after year to actually being a winning basketball team almost feels like too much too soon. But hey, us Knicks fan will gladly take it. I’d be naive to think the Knicks aren’t immune to a big losing streak or that they won’t be fighting to stay above .500 for a good chunk of the season. They did start 3-8 after all, plus with such a thin bench any injury to a starter could be crushing. But watching them play this year, and most especially in a down-to-the-wire loss to the Celtics, this is a team to be proud of.

So Knicks fans, pull all the old Knicks T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, etc. out of the closet. It’s safe to wear them again without smirks, taunts, and fingers pointed your way. Yes, it is cool to be a Knicks fan again!



What I’ll be watching this weekend…

  • Knicks-Heat tonight
  • Giants-Eagles Part II – also known as Matt vs. his wife, the Eagles fan!

#2 Metrodome Has Its Bubble Burst

First off, after just one post I’m scrapping the idea to dedicate each one to a player who wears/wore the number that corresponds to the post. It was one of those things that seemed clever at the time but the next day seemed fairly idiotic. This one would have gone out to Brian Leetch in case you’re wondering.

By now I’m sure most people have seen the video posted above (courtesy of the AP), showing the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis collapsing. This caused Sunday’s scheduled 1 p.m. Eastern game between the Giants and Vikings to be moved to Detroit’s Ford Field tonight for a 7:20 p.m kickoff.

First and foremost, thankfully no one was hurt when the Teflon roof caved in. I really have not heard any mention of the vehicle that looks like a golf cart speeding toward one of the exits.  It appears the driver of the cart was the only person on the field, and he was fortunate to be on the sidelines rather than in the center of the playing field where the initial burst occurred.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter: The Vikings need a new stadium. I’m not bringing up anything new here, as there has been plenty of talk of the Vikings getting a new home for a few years now. But it was just narrowly voted down by the State earlier this year.I realize the Twins just got their new stadium last year, so funding yet another one in Minnesota may not be high on the priority list.

But this was the fifth time the roof has deflated. OK, so it was the first time in 24 years, but obviously it can still happen and should be considered a safety hazard. Minnesota is prone to blizzards obviously, and relying on this Teflon, bubbly roof to consistently hold up just isn’t wise.

Unless I’m forgetting anything, the Georgia Dome is the only other NFL stadium with a similar Teflon roof. And you might remember that stadium had a leaky roof during the 2008 SEC basketball tournament. The Colts and Lions moved on from their Teflon domes to enclosed stadiums built with much more solid roofs.With constant potential weather issues during Minneapolis winters, it’s about time the Vikings do the same.

I don’t claim to know the fiscal situation in Minnesota relative to the rest of the country, but perhaps this latest collapse at the Metrodome will push the conversation of a new football stadium back into the forefront.

As for tonight’s game, it should be quite a scene seeing the the Giants and Vikings go at it in Detroit. As a Giants fan, I think they caught a break here. It is now a neutral-site game where there very well could be thousands of Detroit Lions fans rooting against the Vikings.

#1 – The First of Hopefully Many

Let’s get this thing started. This is basically a test post because I am not ready to really publicize this blog just yet…because frankly I’m not sure what direction it’ll go or for how long. But as the title suggests, I’m hoping this is the first of many.

I just thought of a cheesy idea to number each post and then dedicate it to an athlete (dead or alive) or a year that stands out for me (perhaps when a favorite album or movie came out). This could get tricky, but we’ll give it a shot. So this first one is dedicated to Ozzie Smith, who proudly wore #1 from 1978-1996 with the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals. As a middle infielder in Little League I always admired Ozzie because I was a much better fielder than I was hitter (that’s selling Ozzie short, because he could hit, he just didn’t have power). The strange part is I’ve always disliked the Cardinals. Anyway, this one’s for you, Wizard.

Well, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this until today but being a sports fan will be somewhat miserable come late October of 2011. It’s looking pretty likely that we won’t have NFL football or NBA basketball next season…at least not starting on time anyway

I know there will be college football and basketball (I am a die hard fan of the latter), but the daily schedule of games will seem so measly with NBA and no NFL on Sundays. As fans of those two leagues, what the hell are we supposed to do? Be productive? Do something useful with our lives? Not spend all of Sunday on a couch? That might be asking too much.

I wrote on article in 2007 for addressing a similar problem.The piece, entitled “February’s Tough for Sports Fans” is a tongue-in-cheek look at what we should do during sports’ most snooze-worthy month. But that’s nothing compared to what we might be faced with next Fall. Multiple months of no NFL or NBA is beyond depressing. Perhaps the hardest thing to stomach is potentially going a year without fantasy football. An industry that has grown exponentially each season might be sitting on the sidelines for an entire year. If the NFL does get underway but only with a 10-game schedule for example, can you still have a fantasy season? Do you cut the fantasy playoffs short? Tough questions.

As a huge college hoops fan it would be awesome for the early part of the season to get more attention than it typically gets. All of the big preseason tournaments typically get buried by football and the NBA, so maybe this opens the door for college basketball to be in the spotlight. But I’m not naive enough to think that will be the case. The truth is that college basketball will go unnoticed until after the New Year, even in a situation like the one we might have during the 2011-12 season. I’ve been waving the flag for early-season college basketball for years, but I’m not sure subtracting the NBA and NFL will equate to a larger November-December audience.

Of course there is still about a year to go until we reach that point, and for all I know the NFL will have a season after all—however long it ends up being. And the NBA could end up with a season like it had in 1998-99, where there was a 50-game season following that lockout.

What I’ll be watching this weekend…

  • Giants-Vikings on Sunday
  • Army-Navy on Saturday (hoping Army breaks out of the slump in this game, but not optimistic)
  • Eagles-Cowboys on Sunday night (rooting against my wife’s team is tough…who am I kidding? I’ve always hated the Eagles!)