Sunday, January 30, 2011

BOOM! Roasted.

By: C.G. Morelli

A few nights ago I saw a rerun of my favorite episode of The Office.  In it, Michael Scott asks his employees to roast him. In typical Michael fashion, he’s completely blindsided when the jokes start to get personal. The following clip is his classic rebuttal:

So I thought: wouldn’t the world of sports be that much better if Michael Scott were at the helm? And the answer is most definitely NO…but I thought I’d give you a little glimpse anyway. Feel free to insert your own. That's what she said.

NFL - BOOM! Roasted.

Jay Cutler: Great game against the Packers. You looked cute on the sidelines in your Chicago Bears Snuggie. Boom! Roasted.

Tom Brady: You’re a bigger fruitcake than Cutler. I didn’t know Uggs were official team gear. Boom! Roasted.

Rex Ryan: Send your wife over. I’ve got a bunion. Roasted.

Ben Roethlisberger: Is that a comb in your pocket or are you trying to sexually assault me. Boom! Roasted.

Jeff Fisher: Fired. Roasted.

MLB – BOOM! Roasted.
Bud Selig: Great job keeping steroids out of baseball. Now my six year old nephew has chest hair. Boom! Roasted.

New York Mets: The Yankees called: You’re grounded this weekend. Boom! Roasted.

Milton Bradley: Parker Bros. called: Stop being such a DOUCHE! Boom. Roasted.

NBA – BOOM! Roasted.
Lebron James: You know how they say “you can never go home?” Roasted.

Ron Artest: Jeffrey Dahmer has more fans than you. Boom! Roasted.

New York Knicks: You haven’t done s%@& since Ewing left town. Boom! Roasted.

NHL – BOOM! Roasted.

Sidney Crosby: Jay Cutler called: He looks forward to watching the All Star game with you. Roasted.

Alex Ovechkin: You could score an “Ovech-trick” in every game this season and you’d still have a problem—you’re name’s not Crosby. Boom! Roasted.

Carolina Hurricanes: Great marketing team. The All Star game’s twenty minutes from my house and I just found out. Boom! Roasted.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Salute to Simplicity: Nintendo Sports

By: C.G. Morelli

There are sports video games out there right now that are, in a word, unbelievable. You can page through complex football playbooks, create new franchises, or swing a live bat against live pitching. Some systems even go so far as to mimic your actual body movements and translate them into your play. It’s clear that things have come a long way since Pong, my friends.

But what these games offer in the way of crystal clear, realistic graphics, fast-paced game play, and player interaction, they lack in one important area…simplicity. What ever happened to some of the classic Nintendo favorites? I’m talking about the games that paved the way for some of the more amazing advancements we see today.

No matter who you are, if you’re looking for a little old school simplicity in your gaming experience, these NES sports games won’t disappoint.

Blades of Steel (Konami, 1988)
This game was a small step up from the traditional Nintendo Ice Hockey game, where you’d string together a lineup of rail-thin, medium, and heavyweight skaters. The game play remained basically the same, but you’d spend half the game bumping into defenders intentionally so you could engage in crude Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Robot style fighting. A classy move was to rip the guy’s jersey over his head and go to town with lefts and rights. 

Sure, you could rip a slap shot past the opposing goalie and watch him have an on-ice temper tantrum, but everyone knew that if you won the fights you had ultimate bragging rights, even if you lost the game itself.

Double Dribble (Konami, 1987)
Who could ever forget this classic basketball game? Rock out to the National Anthem as droves of fans literally pour into the Konami Arena to watch a team like the New York Eagles take on the Boston Frogs. And yes, those mascots do make a special appearance at halftime.

Pull up from half court and watch the ball soar nearly off the screen and then drop, with the sound of a plummeting bomb, in the net for 3 points. Dunk in someone’s eye and witness one of the cheesiest on-screen, reverse slam cutaways in gaming history. 

Did you know this game actually gives you the option of playing 30 minute quarters? I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you have a few hours on your hands, give it a try and see if you can post Chamberlain-shattering numbers in the first quarter.

California Games (Epyx, 1989)
Who could hate a game that has “Louie, Louie” as its theme song, bra? California Games was extreme sports before extreme sports actually existed. Therefore, you can rip off a sweet jester with a Hacky-Sack, meet the incisors of a shark after wiping from your board, or steer a ditzy, blond skater girl into curbs and watch her fall face first into the concrete. This game even takes the time out of its busy day to inform you of how “dorky” it is to crash over the handlebars of a BMX bike.

Cali Games is basically all the big-hair, bright-color remnants of the late 80’s and early 90’s packed into one game. It was originally a game intended for the home PC, but made a smooth transition to Nintendo and other game consoles.

Track and Field II (Konami, 1988)
From the second your plane lands at the airport to mark your Olympic arrival, it’s pretty clear that this game will cause permanent damage to your thumbs from repeatedly pounding the A and B buttons to run each race. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to work your fingers to the bone and win gold for the US in fencing, triple jump, hurdles, swimming, canoeing…the list goes on. 

You’ll appreciate the typewritten report of your progress as you move through each event. Don’t feel alone if the word ‘disqualified’ becomes an important part of your vocabulary.

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out (NES, 1987)
Little Mac takes on a role as New York’s version of Rocky. Smack a thorny rose down Don Flamenco’s throat, or crack King Hippo in the gut and drop his pants down around his ankles. Time Bald Bull’s special Bull Charge just right and knock him down in one punch. 

Move up the ranks and listen to the lame trash talk of about 10 different opponents until you reach Iron Mike. Then, drop that squeaky-voiced nutcase with one of Little Mac’s infamous upper cuts and watch Super Mario count him out. 

Just don’t piss off Mac’s corner man…dude scares me. He’ll personally come to your house and have you running wind sprints if you get your butt kicked by Glass Joe again.

RBI Baseball (Tengen, 1988)
When I was a kid, there were about three things I could do to really get my little brother bent out of shape. One was to hold him down and make him scream ‘uncle.’ Another was to “borrow” many of his belongings for “short” periods of time. The third was to whip his butt at RBI Baseball. 

Of course, the best way to get that done was to ride the blazing fastball of Doc Gooden, and compliment it with a few devastating change-ups along the way. This was done by holding up on the D-Pad after the pitch was released and then reveling in your opponent’s frustration. 

This would often result in a Nintendo controller being smashed against a wall (Mom, we swear it was an accident every time) but it was worth it.    

With its frumpy, weeble wobble-esque players and intoxicatingly annoying theme music, this game is an absolute classic. It easily beats both of its sequels.

Tecmo Super Bowl (Tecmo, 1991)
I don’t know anyone who didn’t spend hours playing this game when it was popular…which is surprising because each team’s playbook consisted of only eight plays. 

If you’re looking for defense, play with the Giants and slaughter QBs with Lawrence Taylor. Or, be the Eagles and do the safety dance almost every game with Jerome Brown and Reggie White.

If you want to score on every offensive play, be the 49ers and throw deep to Jerry Rice.  Montana to Rice is virtually unstoppable in this game. You could also go with the Vikes and their arsenal of reverse runs, flea flickers, and other assorted trick plays. Kansas City’s Christian Okoye simply runs wild on just about everyone and there’s no prayer of pulling him down in the open field. Or, you could go another route all together and run the bootleg left all day with the aptly named “QB Eagles” (Randall Cunningham).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Tall Tactician

By: C.G. Morelli

Connie Mack said a lot of things during his career. Of course, it’s easy to say a lot when your career as manager spans half a century. He once said, “Humanity is the keystone that holds nations and men together. When that collapses, the whole structure crumbles.  This is as true of baseball teams as any other pursuit in life.” This perhaps recalls the image of the Tall Tactician, a man whose impeccable values and fatherly overtones produced much veneration for him from his arrival in Philadelphia in 1900 until his departure in 1950.

When all was said and done, Mack had compiled 3,731 wins with the Athletics, the most for a manager in baseball history, besting John McGraw by over 1,000 wins. His teams won the World Series five times in that span, and the AL title nine times. Ironically, Mack also racked up 3,948 losses during his tenure as the A’s manager. This total is also, far and away, the worst in baseball history. Mack actually finished in last place 17 times while at the helm of the Athletics. So, I guess it’s fitting that the most successful losing manager of all time would also coin the phrase, “You can’t win ‘em all.”

In fact, even with his staggering total of victories and irreplaceable impact on the game, Mack would humbly tell you that he wasn’t the quintessential baseball skipper. For that title, he’d have to tab one of his contemporaries during the early part of the century.  “There has only ever been one manager,” he said, “And his name is John McGraw.”

But, in Philly, he was more than quintessential. He was the Philadelphia Athletics.
Even after a dismal farewell season in ‘50, where his team finished an embarrassing 52-102 to claim last place for the 10th time in 16 seasons, he was still considered the man.

After all, we’re talking about the first manager in history to win three World Series titles, and the only manager ever to win the series back to back on two separate occasions (1910-11, 1929-30). Last time I checked, people in Philly don’t forget stuff like that too quickly, which is probably why Mack could walk down the narrowest, most remote alleyway in the city and still be recognized as the father of Philadelphia baseball even by the stray cats.

But it was because of this prominence, this ultimate feeling of comfort which Mack exuded upon the fans, that his departure spelled the beginning of the end for the A’s in Philly.

The loveable fan favorite, Jimmy Dykes, took Mack’s role and improved the team to a 6th place finish the following season. Even so, attendance plummeted drastically and continued to do so for the next few years. Things just weren’t the same without the Grand Old Man of Baseball staking his post on the dugout steps.

“Any minute, any day, some player may break a long standing record,” he said, “That’s one of the fascinations about the game, the unexpected surprises.”

Perhaps Mack’s departure was one of those unexpected surprises the Philadelphia Athletics were never prepared to face. Or maybe it was the fascination for the game that suddenly left the hearts of the fans and the organization once the venerable leader had fled the battlefield.

Whatever the factor, the A’s would never find a way to recover within the confines of their own backyard. They were sent packing to Kansas City in 1954. Mack died two years later, having spent 66 years in baseball as a player and manager.

After a lifetime of service to the game it’s no wonder Mack once said, “No matter what I talk about, I always get back to baseball.” Somewhere, I’d like to think, Mr. Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy is having a little chat about baseball right now.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Most Entertaining Quotes in Boxing History

By: C.G. Morelli

It’s hard to believe we’ve come to such a point where the sport of boxing is no longer relevant in America. Forget great fights, like the epic battles between Frazier and Ali, or even the two minute bloodbaths featuring Mike Tyson against a nameless rabble of also-rans. Forget legendary announcers like Howard Cosell drawing us in with their gravelly voices and savagely poetic commentaries. Nowadays, you’re lucky if you even hear a stray syllable spoken on the square science.

But I’m not about to lick my wounds and accept the MMA as a substitute to real boxing.

No. It’s just not right for us to forget the legends of boxing’s past, and all of the entertaining personalities that surrounded our sport over the years, simply because of recent history. That’s why I invite you to relish in some of boxing’s most entertaining quotes. I hope they’ll help you remember how enjoyable boxing used to be, and that it could be restored to prominence once again.

Boxing’s 15 Most Entertaining Quotes

15. "If you even dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize." – Muhammad Ali

14. "I'm not much for talking. You know what I do. I put guys in body bags when I'm right". - Mike Tyson

13. "Boxing purists, quite naturally, question Tyson's appetite for victory. Mills Lane should have stopped the fight before Tyson took a second helping." - Fred Mitchell

12. "I consider myself blessed. I consider you blessed. We've all been blessed with God-given talents. Mine just happens to be beating people up." - Sugar Ray Leonard

11. "When we started, it was based on lies. It's changing now. There are no secrets in the business. You've got to come with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It's becoming very confusing." - Don King

10. "I could feel his muscle tissues collapse under my force. It's ludicrous these mortals even attempt to enter my realm." - Mike Tyson

9. "Sure there have been injuries and deaths in boxing - but none of them serious." - Alan Minter

8. "When you're in a relationship, you're always surrounded by a ring of circumstances... joined together by a wedding ring, or in a boxing ring." - Bob Seger

7. "I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark." – Muhammad Ali
6. "To me, boxing is like a ballet - except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other." - Jack Handy

5. "If you screw things up in tennis, it's 15-love. If you screw up in boxing, it's your ass." - Randall Cobb

4. "Boxing is the only sport you can get your brain shook, your money took and your name in the undertaker book." - Joe Frazier

3. "All the time he's boxing, he's thinking. All the time he was thinking, I was hitting him." - Jack Dempsey

2. "I want to rip out his heart and feed it to Lennox Lewis. I want to kill people. I want to rip their stomachs out and eat their children." - Mike Tyson

1. "The three toughest fighters I've ever been up against were Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Sugar Ray Robinson. I fought Sugar so many times, I'm surprised I'm not diabetic! But I did have him off the canvas once...when he stepped over my body to leave the ring." - Jake LaMotta

The Human Projectile: Michael Zordich

By: C.G. Morelli
Before a certain #20 loomed largely in the defensive back field of the Philadelphia Eagles with his tinted, black visor and his magnetism for bone-crushing hits, another human projectile filled those shoes more than adequately. He wore the Kelly green jersey with his #36 proudly stitched on the back. No, I’m not talking about Brian Westbrook. Same number, I know. I’m talking about Michael Zordich. Who, you say? Exactly.

Few remember the hard hitting safety outside of Philly. I’ve yet to determine whether this is because he played for teams throughout his career that weren’t, shall we say, playoff ready, or simply because fans of NFC East rivals have blocked out the images of total carnage that often took place when Zordich was on the field.

Or, maybe it’s just my own maniacal fixation with NFL safeties, particularly those who have donned the green and silver, that allows me to remember quite clearly the bruising, blatant-disregard-for-his-own-body type of style that made this blue collar player so endearing to me.

Zordich made a name for himself as a four year starter and a 1985 All American at Penn State, where he capped off his college career with 201 solo tackles. His nose-to-the-grindstone approach to the game and his gutsy play inside Beaver Stadium caught the attention of scouts in the Chargers organization who thought enough of Zordich to take him with the 235th overall selection in the 1986 NFL Draft.

However, his stay in San Diego was short lived. He became a camp casualty at the end of the preseason and found himself instead clinging to the final roster spot on a hapless Jets team after being claimed off waivers. But Zordich came to play regardless of what many saw as an inferior status for an undersized football player. He built himself a reputation as being one of the heaviest hitting safeties in the game despite flying well under the radar in stints with the Jets and Cardinals.

It was in 1994 that Zordich made his way back to Pennsylvania to play safety for a struggling Eagles club. That’s where I come in.

As a young, budding Eagles fan, I could not help but be taken by a player who, on more than one occasion, hit Michael Irvin so hard that he looked more like a crumpled accordion than a Hall of Fame receiver. How could I not like a guy who seemed oblivious on a weekly basis to the trickle of blood that rolled down the bridge of his nose as he lined up and prepared to punish another unsuspecting running back who made the mistake of breaking a run into the second layer of defense? 

And perhaps some of Zordich’s most enduring moments came as an unselfish member of the special teams unit despite holding a spot as a defensive starter. How many guys do you see doing that today? To me, his willingness to throw his body around on punts and kickoffs was a testament to the scrappiness that has come to define Eagles football in the mold of special teams stalwarts like home town boy, Vince Papale.

At any rate, Zordich’s career cannot be measured by stats alone. On paper they’re not all that impressive to be quite honest. In 12 NFL seasons, he picked off 20 passes and scored four defensive touchdowns, one of which was a 58 yard fumble recovery and return against the Giants back in 1995. He recorded 588 solo tackles in his career. Ho Hum, I guess.

But the passion he left on that playing field each week was enough to account for all 11 players on his team, and I’m sure his teammates would testify to that fact.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Golf's 20 Most Hilarious Quotes

By: C.G. Morelli

The green of the grass. The cool, fresh air. The sound of grown men insulting their friends' sisters as small white balls bounce aimlessly off surrounding oaks. This is golf: the sport of gentlemen.

But for a sport that is so civilized, how can you explain why a private course would allow a buffoon like myself to take huge chunks out of its fairways with my meat cleaver of a wedge?  It’s because golf is the sport that takes an uncivilized lump of coal like myself, and molds him like clay into a refined young man of substance. Ok, maybe not.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of golf quotes that exposes the game for what it truly is: an excuse to light a few cigars and talk a bunch of smack with the boys. So stuff a fat Macanudo between your teeth, throw on a pair of goofy, plaid knickers, and enjoy some of Golf’s most hilarious one-liners. Take as many mulligans as you’d like.

Golf’s 20 Most Hilarious Quotes

20. "I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father." - Greg Norman

19. "I know I'm getting better at golf because I'm hitting fewer spectators." - Gerald Ford

18. "Golf is a game in which a ball - one and a half inches in diameter - is placed on a ball 8,000 miles in diameter; the object being to hit the small ball but not the larger." - John Cunningham

17. "I had a wonderful experience on the golf course today. I had a hole in nothing. Missed the ball and sank the divot." - Don Adams

16. "After hitting two balls into the water, by God, I've got a good mind to jump in and make it four." - Simon Hobday

15. "Some have psychologists, some have sportologists. I smoke." - Angel Cabrera

14. "Pressure is playing for $10 when you don't have a dime in your pocket." - Lee Trevino

13. "Golf and sex are about the only things you can enjoy without being good at." - Jimmy Demaret

12. "Golf is a fascinating game. It has taken me nearly forty years to discover that I can’t play it." - Ted Ray

11. "Give me the fresh air, a beautiful partner, and a nice round of golf... and you can keep the fresh air and the round of golf." - Jack Benny

10. "The first time I played the Masters, I was so nervous I drank a bottle of rum before I teed off. I shot the happiest 83 of my life." - Chi Chi Rodriquez

9."Golf appeals to the idiot in us and the child. Just how childlike golf players become is proven by their frequent inability to count past five." - John Updike

8."If a lot of people gripped a knife and fork the way they do a golf club, they’d starve to death." - Sam Snead

7. "I don't need to know where the green is. Where is the golf course?" - Babe Ruth

6. "You can make a lot of money in this game. Just ask my ex-wives. Both of them are so rich that neither of their husbands’ work." - Lee Trevino

5. "It took me seventeen years to get 3,000 hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course." - Hank Aaron

4. "The reason the pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can't see him laughing." - Phyllis Diller

3. "I'm not saying my golf game went bad, but if I grew tomatoes they'd come up sliced." - Lee Trevino

2. "After all these years, it's still embarrassing for me to play on the American golf tour. Like the time I asked my caddie for a sand wedge and he came back ten minutes later with a ham on rye." - Chi Chi Rodriguez

1. "Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps." - Tiger Woods

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Basketball's 15 Funniest Quotes

By: C.G. Morelli

If you’re like me, the game of basketball is a real stretch. Literally.

Bottom line, I’m a skinny white man of merely average height. To boot I’m Italian, which means you’re lucky if you can slide a piece of paper under my feet when I try to test the ups.

This time of year I usually find myself camped out in front of playoff football instead of wasting my time watching Inside Stuff on a Saturday afternoon. Actually, does that show still air? Wait a minute, Summer Sanders? Where’s my Ahmad Rashad? Just goes to show you where I stand on the NBA.

But then my Eagles went and got stomped by the Packers in the first round, and suddenly I needed something to keep me busy. That’s when I realized NBA stars are pretty darn entertaining. Actually, they can be down right hilarious at times. It made me think: don’t ballas say the darndest things? Folks, I present you with:
Basketball’s 15 Funniest Quotes
15. "In basketball, the first person to touch the ball shoots it. Either that, or the coach carefully diagrams a set play and then the first player to touch it shoots it." - Gene Klein

14. "Basketball is like war in that offensive weapons are developed first, and it always takes a while for the defense to catch up." - Red Auerbach

13. "The only difference between a good shot and a bad shot is if it goes in or not." - Charles Barkley

12. "We have a great bunch of outside shooters. Unfortunately, all our games are played indoors." - Weldon Drew

11."My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt." - Chuck Nevitt

10. "Fans never fall asleep at our games, because they're afraid they might get hit by a pass." - George Raveling

9. "They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds." - Wilt Chamberlain

8. "We're shooting 100 percent - 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free-throw line." - Norm Stewart

7. "I hate them with all the hate you can hate with. Can you hate more than that? If you can, I hate them more than that." - Tim Hardaway

6. "I knew I was dog meat. Luckily, I'm the high-priced dog meat that everybody wants. I'm the good-quality dog meat. I'm the Alpo of the NBA." - Shaquille O'Neal

5. "Left hand, right hand, it doesn't matter. I'm amphibious." -Charles Shackleford

4. "If the NBA were on channel 5 and a bunch of frogs making love were on channel 4, I'd watch the frogs, even if they were coming in fuzzy" - Bobby Knight

3. "I haven’t been able to slam-dunk the basketball for the past five years. Or, for the thirty-eight years before that, either." - Dave Barry

2. "Kids are great. That's one of the best things about our business, all the kids you get to meet. It's a shame they have to grow up to be regular people and come to the games and call you names." - Charles Barkley

1. "Basketball is the second most exciting indoor sport, and the other one shouldn't have spectators." - Dick Vertlieb

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dear Eagles Front Office....Remember When?

The inevitable canning of Eagles' defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott, has made me somewhat reflective on the state of my team's defense over the past few seasons post Jim Johnson. With two seasons of McDermott-ball under the belt and a high powered offense to support each time, we still get the same result: a first round playoff stomping.  

Don't get me wrong, the firing needed to happen. My problem is it's just too easy to place all the blame on Mr. McDermott. True, his scheme did not effectively adapt the players he had under contract to the old scheme used by the legendary Jim. True, his youth probably didn't win him too much respect from his equally youthful players. True, the stats usually don't lie (especially the worst red zone defense in football). But if there was one thing this defensive unit truly lacked over the past two seasons it was on-field leadership: the kind us fans in Philly have come to take for granted. Don't forget, we had good old number 20 standing back there for us for more than a decade.
And that's when it hit me. This defense truly started to crumble once we saw the official departure of Brian Dawkins. His skills may have been eroding at the time of his release, but as we all know he was much more important to the team than simple physical skills. That brought me back down memory lane to an enraged letter I wrote to the Eagles front office way back when. Enjoy the memories and pray we find ourselves some kind of defensive leader in the off season.

Eagles Front Office: Read This

Dear Philadelphia Eagles Front Office,

I write to you on behalf of native Philadelphians across this great nation who, with one prick of the skin, could produce a few drops of genuine green blood. As you must know by now, the citizens of your fair city have been riding the rollercoaster that is Eagles football since the team’s inception in 1932. They’ve danced in the glory of the triumphs and wallowed in the despair of many punishing defeats. They’ve faced disappointment so many times it’s become somewhat of a profession. They’ve cemented a name in sports history as the city who over-criticizes its heroes. 

But you and I both know they only do this because they care. They care about community pride. They care about toughness and tenacity. They care about rising from the ashes time after time. And, most of all, they care about their football team. They simply want it to be the heartbeat at the very center of it all.

There is no one, in my mind, who has typified this attitude on the playing field more than Pro Bowl free safety Brian Dawkins.

If the city of Philadelphia could somehow sprout legs, strap on a helmet, and run out on the gridiron, it would surely take the form of old, reliable number 20. It would sit back in its safety position and deliver bone-crushing hits on unsuspecting receivers. It would break through the line at blazing speed and punish the quarterback. It would somehow develop an uncanny magnetism for the football and jar loose a fumble at just the right moment. It would appear on your television screen as if out of nowhere to snag an interception. And, each time, it would celebrate with a characteristic flex of the muscles and a flap of the wings.

I make this comparison because I want you to realize how important this guy was to his team and its fans. His track record on the playing field speaks for itself: seven pro bowls, 936 total tackles, 34 interceptions, 32 forced fumbles, and 21 sacks. That’s a lot of numbers to chew on. 

But forget those.

Instead, let’s go back to a game in 2002 against the Texans when Dawk did it all. On defense he threw David Carr around like a rag doll, recording a sack, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Then he caught a pass from Brian Mitchell on offense and scampered 54 yards for a touchdown.

Or we can think back to a certain 4th down connection from Donovan McNabb to Freddie Mitchell against the Packers in the 2003 Divisional Playoffs. No, Dawkins wasn’t playing offense this time around, but he did set up an Eagles win by picking off Brett Favre in overtime.

There was the unlikely run we saw two seasons ago. Dawk basically sealed a division title by ending games in Weeks 15 and 16 with interceptions in the end zone, first off of Eli Manning and then Tony Romo.

And this past season…is there anyone who could possibly downplay Dawk’s vital role in leading his team to a fifth NFC Championship game in the past eight years?

These are reasons enough for me to believe Weapon X still has a few more years left in the tank, both as a heavy-hitting playmaker at safety and as an emotional locker room presence

So how can you just chew him up and spit him out? How can you treat him like some ordinary player? Some chump free agent off the street?

The man gave his heart and soul to this team, to this city, to every fan who’s ever donned that midnight green number 20 replica on Sunday afternoons. The very least he deserved was to finish his career with the team who drafted him 13 years ago.

I’ve been a fan of this team for 30 years, and in that time I’ve endured repeated heartbreak. I’ve seen the team through stretches of perennial futility. I lived through the Kotite years. And each time I came back a stronger fan than ever.

But this time, I just don’t know.


C.G. Morelli
The Sporting Scribe

Friday, January 14, 2011

The World Series: An American Legacy

By: C.G. Morelli

A game played by “the boys of summer” seems a bit out of place in the chilly days of October.  But, it’s during this autumn month when the Major League Baseball season winds down with one of the most exciting events in all of sports, the World Series. 

Over the course of a few weeks, teams slug it out in the playoffs, trying to earn a spot in our country’s most celebrated championship series.  But it hasn’t been around forever.  Just how did the World Series begin?

The Very First World Series

As far back as the 1880’s, head-to-head grudge matches had taken place between the top teams in various leagues.  Many of these contests featured long series of up to fifteen games and were not taken very seriously by players or spectators.  But in 1903 something special happened. 

For the first time, the well-known National League was feeling a lot of competition from a brand new league, which called itself the American League.  Many fans, who once believed the National League far more talented than the American League, began to wonder what would happen if the best team from each were to square off.  Managers on both sides saw a competition between them as a way to attract more interest in the game, and also to see who was best once and for all. 

At the end of the season, it was agreed that a tournament would be played between the two best teams in each league.  They decided to name it the World Series.

The mighty Pittsburgh Pirates, champions of the National League, took on the American League winners, the Boston Pilgrims in the best-of-nine series.  Everyone expected the Pirates, led by their star shortstop, Honus Wagner, to defeat the Pilgrims easily.  But it quickly became clear that Wagner would not be a factor.  He finished the series with only six hits, while committing six errors in the field.  Instead, a young pitcher from Boston named Bill Dineen stole the show, pitching four shutouts in the series to lead the Pilgrims to a surprising victory. 

When the team returned to Boston, fans swarmed the field at Huntington Avenue Grounds hoping to catch a glimpse of baseball’s first World Champions.  The grudge match between the two leagues created so much interest in the game of baseball that they decided to continue it every year.  The World Series has now been played for more than a century.  

Continuing the Tradition

Over the years, the World Series has changed only slightly, in order to make it the most competitive and exciting event it could possibly be.  In 1922, the length of the World Series was shortened to a best-of-seven series, as it remains today.  In 1969, the playoffs were created, giving more teams a chance to compete for a spot in the World Series.  In 1994, the commissioner of baseball added the Wildcard Round to the playoffs.  Many current baseball fans will agree that this feature has made the game even more exciting at the end of the season than it had been in the past.  As a result, the playoffs last a bit longer, pushing the World Series slightly later into the fall.  It is now common for the series to end in November rather than October.

Overall, however, the World Series we enjoy today has not changed much since the time of Honus Wagner and Bill Dineen.   The Fall Classic, as it has come to be known, still pits the best team in the National League against the best the American League has to offer.  It is still the grand stage for some of the greatest athletes in sports, and it still attracts the interest of millions of fans worldwide.  Most importantly, the dream of playing in a World Series some day is still fresh in the minds of many young boys and girls.

Into the Record Books
  • On October 10, 1920, Bill Wambsganss of the Cleveland Indians completed the only unassisted triple play in World Series history.

  • In game five of the 1956 World Series, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitched the only perfect game in series history by not allowing a single runner to reach base in nine innings.

  • On October 12, 1982, Paul Molitor of the Milwaukee Brewers became the only player in history to record five hits in a single World Series game.

  • Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera, holds the all-time record for recording the final out in four World Series championships.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

If the Playoff Teams Were...Beers?

By: C.G. Morelli

So, I’m sacked out on the couch with a mountain of pork rinds to rival Kilimanjaro in front of me and one of a plethora of Divisional Playoff games blaring from the tube. I reach for my beer and take a long swig. Then I give a quick sip to my boy Mike Schmidt, my dog, who’s lazily watching every snap along with me.

I think to myself, “This is what life’s all about.” Playoff football, beer, little or no physical exertion…things can’t possibly get much better.

But then my mind begins to wander. The beer, the football, and the playoffs start mixing together, bouncing randomly off the inside walls of my skull, whipping around at warp speed, dredging up ideas I never knew I had. Then suddenly they all collide in one violent crash, molding them together as one.

That’s when it happens. A deep and earth shattering question arises from the darkest recesses of my mind:

What if the playoff teams were, uh, beers?

It’s an interesting path that could eventually end up both tasting great and being less filling. So I decided to take that trip.

Seattle Seahawks
America’s sweethearts hail from a crappy little tin can known as Qwest Field. For the Hawks, in their rainy weather hell, the regular season and training camp usually meld together as one in a typical year. But this is clearly not your typical year.

After slaying the also-rans of the NFC West to take home the division crown, a formidable lineup led by warhorse quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and journeyman runner Marshawn Lynch ousted the defending champs in memorable fashion. Fans are all too ready to watch another upset unfold this weekend at Soldier Field

But, in reality, this team is nothing more than the Corona Light of the playoff field. They’re tropical and even a little bubbly at first glance. A casual fan might get lost in the excitement of drinking in something new. However, all we’re really getting is the same old Cinderella story with a slightly more watered-down finish.

And let’s not forget the Seahawks’ inexperience, which will prove to be even worse than a big old piece of fruit in your beer.

New England Patriots
The Pats are the class of this year’s playoff field. They’ve been here before. They’ve gotten the job done on more than one occasion and, quite frankly, you know what you’re getting when it comes to this team.

All things considered, from a heavy hitting offense stocked with feared playmakers like Danny Woodhead and Benjarvus Green-Ellis, to a grizzled, veteran quarterback who’s simply on fire right now, to a battle-tested coach with a fistful of rings, it’s clear the Pats will be a tough out.

Like a good old-fashioned bottle of Sam Adam’s Lager, you know you’ll see a full bodied, complex, refreshing team at Foxboro this weekend. Only question is, will we get one of those nasty, skunky bottles of Sam that somehow inexplicably makes it into the six pack? Or will we get the real thing?

Atlanta Falcons
When Mike Smith brings his laid back coaching style to the table and Roddy White brings the dreds, there’s no better comparison in my mind than a bottle of Red Stripe.

Simple geography makes the Falcons a little bit different than the rest of the playoff field. Being the only team from the Dirty South gives them the feel of the squatty, brown bottle filled with a Rastafarian’s delight.

With a solid offense boasting Pro Bowlers Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White, the Falcons, like a bottle of Red Stripe, give you the illusion of silky smoothness going down.

But will Matty’s crispness suddenly turn to a bitter Jamaican-style after taste if the NFL gets its ultimate wish: an all NFC North championship game?

Pittsburgh Steelers
Now that’s enjoying the High Life, ladies and gentlemen…Miller High Life, that is.

This blue collar team comes from the quintessential blue collar town. It goes without saying that many of the fans in Da Burg will be loud, raucous, obnoxious, and with a belly full of the High Life throughout the playoffs. That alone should make the Stillers a formidable contender.

But that’s not the only reason I’ve likened them to the High Life. Just like the beer, they’re an every man’s team. They’ve won six Super Bowls already, and they did it on their own terms: by pounding the football. Look for Rashard Mendenhall to continue this fine tradition.

Don’t forget, the Steel-city crew boasts one of the grittiest defensive lineups in football, with Troy Polamalu cleaning clocks up the middle, and they can put up points in a hurry when Big Ben and Mr. Wallace are clicking.

If you love meat, potatoes, beer, and hard hitting, you’re a lock to be cheering for the Black and Gold this weekend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

RE: The fate of your worthless trading cards

Dear Readers,

I’d like to speak to all of you about a very pressing issue that affects many of us on a daily basis. That’s right, folks. I’m talking about the boxes full of worthless trading cards that forced your bowling ball bag and ironing board out of the closet and into your bathtub.

Now, I’ve faced this problem on more than one occasion. There was that grab bag of batboys-through-the-ages cards I picked up for a bargain price at the card show. I’m sure you’re surprised to hear that little experiment didn’t pan out.

Then there was the time I thought I’d struck it rich when I strung together a dozen full sets of ’87 Topps cards. What I didn’t take into account was the fact that Topps produced enough packs of cards in 1987 to give a stale piece of tooth-shattering, flavorless bubblegum to every man, woman, and child south of the moon.  

But still, no choice was worse than allowing a pallet-full of Rick Schu rookie cards to “just happen” to fall off the truck and “roll voluntary” into my garage. And out went the riding mower, my tool set, and the car…not to mention my last shred of dignity.

But I’ve had enough, people. I’m taking my garage back, and I’m doing so at the expense and reputation of those bargain basement baseball cards. And I’m not just talking about the average Joes, neither. I’m going for the throat. I’m heading straight for the scrubs, the most worthless cards I can find. Oh yes, my friends, they’ll be facing my wrath first.

Here are just a few of the ideas I’ve come up with in trying to free myself of these worthless cards.

The School of Hard Looks
In the fine tradition of all past and present ball players who have mimicked the pained expression of a hardened criminal in their trading card photos, I give you the game of Hard Look War. That’s right. It’s just like the ordinary playing card version of War that you’re used to, except the winning card is always that of the player with the hardest, most intimidating expression on their face. So basically, you want to stay away from any card with David Eckstein on the front. But definitely drop a Pete Incaviglia card on the table and watch your opponent’s ’95 Kevin Stocker Donruss shrivel up in fear. 

I guess you’re wondering what happens when the inevitable dispute arises from a difference in judgment between you and your opponent. I gotta to be honest with you, I don’t see this one ending pretty. Just make sure you pick a playing partner that is small, fragile, and slow of foot. Isn’t that why younger siblings were invented, after all?

Drink The Blues Away
Ok, so you’re looking for any excuse to knock a few back on your day off. Isn’t that the perfect reason for a new drinking game? I think it is.

But then you hear it: “Honey, you said you’d move your baseball card collection out of the closet. It’s been sitting on top of my wedding dress for three years!”

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Go in there and grab that dusty box of baseball cards. Hell, while you’re at it, you might as well throw that dress on a hanger for her. Good, you’re golden. Now grab yourself a six pack and get to work.

The game is simple. Grab a handful of cards, toss them in the air and let them fall where they may. Then, pick up the card that landed closest to you, and then next closest, and so on. Every time you pick up a card with a player whose career average is under .250 you chug a beer.

There, that should keep you busy for at least ten minutes. When you’re finished, toss the cards in the trash and repeat with another handful.

Melt Them Down For Energy
Hey, all I’m saying is I’m tired of signing over half my pay check to the pimply geek behind the counter at Sunoco. I’m also tired of a frigate’s-worth of crappy trading cards hogging my whole garage. Are you starting to connect the dots? I mean, can you imagine a world where the Bud Smiths and Rick Reuschles of the world contributed to the conservation of world energy? It sounds like Utopia to me, folks.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more convinced I become about the inevitable conversion to crappy trading card energy. Then again, it just may be because I’m pretty sure Al Gore is probably sitting on an unopened case of ’87 Topps. The dude needs some space for his solar panels in that garage of his.

Make Them History
You’ve heard of Casey At Bat, but why not Momar or Churchill At Bat. All you really need is a few crappy trading cards, a black marker, and a hazy understanding of world history and you’re ready to morph your least favorite baseball players into your favorite historical figures…at bat.

The best thing about it is you don’t even need art skills to turn Von Hayes ’85 Fleer into Von Kaiser Hayes ’85 Fleer. The possibilities are endless and, I assure you, the revenge is sweet.

Some of my personal favorites include Brian “Davy Crockett” DuBois ’90 Upper Deck, Lloyd “Rick James” Moseby ’88 Donruss, Jeff “Honest Abe” Innis ’90 Upper Deck, and Jeff “Ponce De Leon” Granger ’94 Upper Deck. (pictured here)

Make Them the “Butt” of All Jokes
This one basically speaks for itself, and I’m not talking about actually bad mouthing your baseball cards to your friends. What I am referring to is probably one of the most childish and immature things you could possibly do to your worthless trading cards. That’s also why it’s my personal favorite.

A friend of mine back in middle school once astutely likened the small crevice which forms on the side of your index finger when you bend it down towards your palm to yet another crevice which undoubtedly makes more sense with the subtitle I’ve so subtly placed above. Of course, I did what any sports-minded person would do after hearing something so nonsensical. I took the ball and ran with it.

Therefore, for ultimate comic relief, I suggest you get yourself a pair a scissors and a few worthless trading cards and follow my directions.

First, you need to find a card with a good pose on it. In this case we’re looking for anything that gives new meaning to the line from Rookie of the Year, “Pitcher’s got a big butt.”

Then you need to go to cuttin’on it. Basically, you cut the player’s mid section out of the card. Stay with me here, the results are worth it.

Finally, you need to bend the tip of your index finger down to your palm. Look for the crease on the side of your finger…it’s hard to miss. Now, simply place your bent index finger behind the little window you created with the scissors. Take a look.

Woops, looks like somebody took part in a little too much sliding practice! Is there any wonder why there’s such a pained expression on Glenallen Hill’s face as he slides into home?

Please Help!  
So there you have it. In this writer’s opinion I’ve provided you with a fairly comprehensive list of possibilities when confronted with the troubling problem of what to do with your useless trading cards. I just wish there were more options out there because that pallet-full of Rich Schu rookie cards in my garage isn’t getting any smaller. That’s why I’m open to any ideas you all may have out there to alleviate my problem. Please keep them coming.

Thank you so much for your time and understanding in seeing me through what is obviously one of the more pressing issues of our times.

C.G. Morelli
The Sporting Scribe