The Comeback

So it’s been more than a year since my last post. In that time, I’ve pursued two careers, moved cities, and grew just a little bit more awesome.

But I have not lost my desire to write so this post is my comeback post.

Sports, much like celebrity life, are filled with comebacks.

Lance Armstrong overcame cancer to win the Tour de France multiple times. Shia LeBeouf overcame a severe car crash and broken hand to film the masterpiece that is Transformers 2.

Mickey Rourke came back from some mediocre films to lay the smack down with The Wrestler. Randy Moss came back from some bad seasons in Oakland to be one of the top receivers in the NFL with the Patriots.

Michael Vick came back from prison and some bad decisions relating to canines to be relevant in the NFL again. Britney Spears made some really bad decisions (like not wearing underwear, K-Fed, baldness) and has kind of returned to normalcy. Or at least as normal as she can be…

Lindsey Lohan has the comeback hat-trick going. We’re all waiting with bated breath for Miss Lohan to overcome bad movies, bad decisions, and bad behavior to lock up an Academy Award nomination. Write it down. It’ll happen…

The point is, sports fans love comeback stories and athletics are always generous enough to provide plenty of story lines. If you’re down now, you can be up tomorrow. If you’re up today, you can be down in the future only to be up again.

That’s the beauty of sports. The games themselves offer the perfect stage to overcome whatever it is you’re trying to overcome by winning.

Hopefully, my comeback of sorts is more like Michael Jordan’s Bulls comeback (Robert Downey Jr. proportions) and less like Jordan’s Wizards comeback (the debacle that is Courtney Love) .

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Miranda Priestly is Bill Parcells in a dress

You are probably wondering who in the name of Michael Kors is Bill Parcells?

Well, he is currently the executive vice president of football operations in Miami and probably the man most responsible for resurrecting the Miami Dolphins from a 1-15 record in 2007-08 to an 11-5 record in 2008-09. He also won two Superbowls as a coach for the New York Giants and has enjoyed terrific success as a coach for the Jets, Patriots and Cowboys.

Of course, on this blog for this audience, Miranda Priestly needs no introduction. After all, The Devil Wears Prada is one of those movies you just keep on watching no matter when you tune in (this coming from the guy who thinks Will Ferrell can do no wrong).

So what do Miranda Priestly and Bill Parcells have in common besides salty grey hair do’s?

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bill parcellsThe two are known for being ridiculously demanding. Priestly remarked in the movie that she took her magazine from a little publication to the premier fashion magazine in the world. Parcells has a reputation for rebuilding franchises. Every team he takes over is struggling, but after a year or two, that team makes the playoffs.

Both have incredible quotes and catch phrases. Miranda’s top three are: 1) “By all means move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.” 2) “The details of your incompetence do not interest me.” 3) “Bore someone else with your questions.”

For Parcells: 1) When asked about how injured wide receiver Terry Glenn was healing, Parcells, who is often frustrated with lengthy recuperations, responded with, “She’s making progress.” 2) “…No matter how many championships, no matter how many Superbowls, you’re not winning now, so you stink.” 3) “Something goes wrong, I yell at them – ‘Fix it’ – whether it’s their fault or not…”

Both have exceptionally prickly demeanors and only a certain type of person can thrive under them (just look at the above photos. Aren’t you scared?). For Miranda, Nigel and Andy flourished while many others couldn’t take it and were forced out. Parcells is the same way. Drew Bledsoe and Chad Pennington were at their best when they were the quarterbacks for Parcells. But many players were run out of town for things as small as spending too much time in the training room.

Both figures act decisively with unwavering precision. Miranda concocted the grand scheme in the end that still has me confused. She wanted to screw over Jacqueline but keep her magazine but in the end, Nigel is the one most hurt. But she doesn’t care. It’s all about her and the good of her operation; co-workers, feelings, relationships be damned.

When the Dolphins begged Parcells to rescue their embarrassed franchise, Parcells acted quickly. In a matter of weeks, he fired the coach, general manager and all but two members of the old staff that won just one game all season. This all took place a few days after Christmas around New Year’s Day. He didn’t care. Parcells wanted to win, so he brought in his own people, and as French fashion models often say, voila! The Dolphins are division champions.

So while Parcells may not purse his lips when he is displeased (he yells, cusses, and shoots lightning from his eyeballs) and Miranda may not have a nickname as cool as the Big Tuna (Parcells’ nickname), the two are a match made in heaven (or hell depending if you are on the receiving end of an angry tirade).

The next time The Devil Wears Prada is on TV (and it’s on just about every night by the way), lean over to your male companion and say, “Hmm. That Miranda Priestly played by the excellent Meryl Streep reminds me so much of Bill Parcells.” And he’ll say, “Uh, what?” And you’ll say, “Don’t you watch football? Bill Parcells? He coached the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys and he’s doing a marvelous job with the Dolphins.”

Isn’t learning sports fun?

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The Project

Webster’s Dictionary defines a project as “an extensive undertaking requiring concerted effort.” That’s why no one likes 8th grade science (the projects) and why it is so difficult to change that boyfriend you describe as a work-in-progress.

Let’s face it. You ladies enjoy undertaking a project to change your guy for the better (in your opinion). Maybe he drinks, watches too much sports, plays too much golf, hangs out with his friends, never reveals what he’s really thinking, etc. You know, all the behaviors that make males so very male.

The point is you see a guy you like and after getting to know him, you realize he is about 83% of the perfect man. The remaining 17% is all you. You will convince him that golf on Sundays is boring and that Pottery Barn is far more entertaining. You will convince him that The Bachelor is more engrossing than the Rose Bowl. And you will convince him that his friends are all drunken morons (probably true). His potential at 100% of the perfect guy helps you to live with the rough edges until he eventually succumbs and you win.

The same idea takes place every year in pro sports. This year, Michael Vick, John Smoltz and Allen Iverson are all projects teams are willing to shell out millions with the hope that they become great once again. In the meantime, they will have to live with the interceptions, homers, and turnovers that all resemble a toilet seat left up for the umpteenth time or a forgotten dinner engagement with your mother.

Vick, now more famous for his dog fighting, was once the most electric quarterback of all time. He was a lethal combination of arm strength and foot speed much like the dual threat that is the one and only Cher. But after spending more than a year in prison, Vick probably lost some of that physical ability. By signing him, the Eagles are taking a risk because he may never come close to his once dominant self, but if he does, Philadelphia just added a potent threat capable of taking any team to the playoffs.

Smoltz and Iverson are similar because their best days are behind them. Smoltz was just released from the Red Sox after getting beaten like Rihanna (too soon?). But now the Cardinals are gambling that the 42 year-old can regain his form in time for the playoffs. And he has by winning his first start for St. Louis.

Many consider Iverson the greatest little-guy of all time in the NBA. But the last few seasons have proven that his bad attitude and me-first persona outweigh his ability. So much so, Iverson cannot find a team to play for and the NBA season is only about two months away. The team that does sign him will be taking a major risk because Iverson makes the locker room about as harmonious as a Flava of Love house.

So take heart when your guy forgets your birthday or when his eyes wander to another woman. You can always dump him and you won’t owe him a blessed thing. But when the Raiders signed a project in the form of DeAngelo Hall last year to a seven year/$70 million deal with $24.5 million guaranteed, the team was on the hook for big money when (surprise, surprise) Hall played terribly, sulked, and was eventually cut from the team.

Sports (and dating) reveal there is a fine line between potential and pipe dream…

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Filed under Allen Iverson, Baseball, Basketball, Football, Projects

Looking for an athlete?

By now, you should be a little more knowledgeable when it comes to the world of sports. Maybe you don’t know the difference between a 3, 5, and 8-second violation, but you are no longer clueless like Alicia Silverstone. Maybe you are feeling saucy and want to date an athlete.

But which sport?

Well, football players can be a little violent, the lineman can be obese, all are prone to concussions, and the average NFL player’s lifespan is significantly shorter than someone who doesn’t smack their head against some other big guy’s head repeatedly at a dangerous rate of speed for a living. The average player’s salary is $830,000 per year, which is nice, but you can do better.

Pro baseball players earn boatloads of money (average salary is $1.15 million), but they have their weaknesses too. The season is 162 games long,  so they are never around, chances are pretty good they took steroids at some point in their careers (steroids cause a man’s testicles to shrivel up), and they have a gross habit of spitting saliva, sunflower seeds, or tobacco or a rarely seen, but captivating combination of all three.

The average basketball player earns $2.75 million per year so things are looking good there. But the behavior patterns of some of the elite players can be a bit unsettling. For instance, Allen Iverson chased his naked wife down a street out of love, Wilt Chamberlain boasted about having sex with 10,000 women, and Shawn Kemp has more kids depending on him than Santa Claus. Plus, I am 6’4″ and I am dwarfed next to pro basketball players.

Hockey guys make $1.15 million per year and are really normal. They aren’t tall. They aren’t short. They are just normal dudes missing a lot of teeth. Anyway…

So while the major American sports may not tickle your fancy, try looking at a sport that travels more than 200 miles per hour in the most exotic locales on earth. Yep, Formula One racing is where you will find Mr. Right.

The top driver in the world earned $51 million last year while the tenth best driver made $4.5 million. Wealth? Check.

If you are looking for an exotic flair, none of the drivers are American. In fact, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, France, Spain, Poland, and Finland are the countries represented among the drivers. Not to mention, the drivers are all very smart. They have to understand wind resistance, fuel capacities, tire degradation, and other complex car physics. Let’s just say they are a bit brighter than the average ballplayer who never went to college.

And you like to travel right? Well, New York and San Francisco are pretty cool, but the Formula One races only take place in the coolest cities on earth. The schedule includes Australia, Malaysia, China, Bahrain, Spain, Turkey, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Singapore, Japan, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, and the crown jewel of the circuit, Monaco. You should be able to do some hardcore shopping in these places when you are not mingling with royalty or the uber wealthy.

Formula One money is ridiculous. It makes horseracing money look like a pittance even with the $1,000 mint julep drinks served at the Kentucky Derby. For example, Ferrari spent nearly $250 million on its racing team in 1999 and even the worst team that year spent $50 million. The elite teams today spend staggering sums of money.

Still not convinced? Ashley Judd married Dario Franchitti, a Scottish Indy Car driver. Ashley Judd never makes bad decisions, unless when it comes to choosing scripts in which case she makes awful decisions. Don’t judge her by Twisted or Eye of the Beholder. She’s having a ball watching Franchitti win races.

Which makes me long for a female Formula One driver. They are all male so my ticket to travel the world and live the aristocratic European life will have to wait. And no, Danica Patrick. I am not interested in your Indy Car races. Sorry, I have standards…

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danica

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A club (or shoe) for every occasion

So you are going to the beach. Or dancing. Or shopping. Or running. Or man-hunting. Or whatever.

Do you wear the same shoe for all the aforementioned situations? Of course not. Each situation calls for a special shoe so you can walk on the beach sand, dance your troubles away, shop ’til you drop, run off calories, or catch some wanted attention.

The wrong shoe can have disastrous results. Imagine wearing heels to the beach or trying to attract a man in hiking boots. Not. Gonna. Happen.

The same holds true for golf clubs. All those golf clubs in the bag aren’t just for show or a “wasteful” way for your husband, brother, dad, boy friend, guy friend etc. to spend money. Each club has a specific purpose that allows the golfer to complete the hole in as few strokes as possible.

First off, the wedges (the shortest clubs with the most loft) are designed to pop the ball high into the air for a short distance. Why is a high trajectory good? The higher the ball flight, the softer the ball will land which reduces roll. The wedges are used from about 150 yards and closer and probably can best be compared to your everyday shoes because you will use your wedges on every hole. The classic sandal can not only be worn at the beach, but also with many different outfits. The sand wedge, while meant to be used in sand traps, works beautifully on the grass much like how sandals can complement any summer dress.

The irons range from the nine iron (the shortest iron with the most loft) all the way to the one iron (longest iron with the least loft). Short irons (7 iron, 8 iron, 9 iron) can be used from 150 yards to about 175 yards away from the hole. Mid irons (5 iron, 6 iron) can be used from about 180 yard to about 210 yards and long irons (1 iron, 2 iron, 3 iron) can be used from 215 yard to a little more than 250 yards. High loft means shorter distance and higher ball flight, low loft means more distance and lower ball flight. Depending on the conditions (wind, grass length, water hazards, sand traps) each iron has a specific purpose to best help you achieve your objective; whether it is shooting a low score on a troublesome dog-leg with water on all sides or beating out that little hussy for the last pair of manolos on sale (use the golf club on the golf hole, not to scare away the hussy in the department store. I don’t want my readers going to jail for attempted assault).

The large, mallet-shaped clubs known as “woods” have one purpose and one purpose only. To hit the ball far. Real far.

The driver can hit the ball more than 300 yards, but the trouble with the woods are that they are arguably the most difficult club in the bag to hit. Any golfer can remember confidently striding to the first tee with everyone watching only to hit the ball no more than a couple of feet. It is one of the most embarrassing moments any human can endure. Kinda like falling down in heels. Much like high heels, the driver has a severe risk/reward element. Confidently glide in heels and any man will go ga-ga over you. Fall, and the hex is lifted. Drive the golf ball a country mile down the fairway, and my playing partners will bow to my superiority. Knock the ball 10 feet, and my playing partners will question my masculinity.

Finally, there is the putter. The putter is used on every hole and yet, most amateur golfers never practice with it. They don’t acknowledge the fact that every putt (even though putts are measured in feet, not yards) count just the same as a booming 330 yard drive. The putter is a lot like your running shoes. You don’t give them a whole lot of credit and you probably would not show them off if MTV Cribs took place in your room, but do you think Angelina Jolie or Kate Beckinsale would look the way they do if they didn’t use their workout/running shoes? Your running shoes are your foundation just like the putter. Neglect your putter and you are in effect neglecting your running shoes, and we all know the severity of that decision (bigger jeans).

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Chin Music is Nothing but a Little Territoriality

You are out with your boyfriend at some nice place such as the Olive Garden enjoying a Tour of Italy with some of that bread (I personally hate the Olive Garden but I like the bread. I think any restaurant that feels it is necessary to include “the” in the name is trying way too hard. “The” Benihana? “The” Pizza Hut? “The” Hooters? C’mon, but I digress). Anyway, you notice a slightly skanky, somewhat slutty, kind of trampy girl making eyes at your boyfriend.

She knows you exist, but she doesn’t care. She keeps looking over provocatively, bordering on the blatantly obvious. She wants your man.

It’s now up to you to mark your territory. You hold his hands, touch him a little more. Perhaps even give him a kiss before you go to the bathroom. And as you walk by the aforementioned woman of the night, you stare two, piercing daggers through her soul that say, “Stay the f*#@ away if you know what’s good for you!”

Pitchers in baseball are the same way. Home plate is 17 inches wide and pitchers believe that not only do those 17 inches belong to them, but also six inches on either side. You don’t just want your boyfriend’s arm or leg, right? You want the whole thing, most of the time…

You see, hitters like to crowd the plate. This is a feeble attempt at intimidation because pitchers are armed with the baseball.

And they aren’t afraid to use it.

If the batter is standing too close to the plate, the catcher can put down the middle-finger (the universal sign for what comes next). The pitcher will then throw the baseball as hard as he can dangerously close to the hitter, forcing him to duck out of the way. You don’t want to hit the batter because that gives him first base much like you don’t want to hit the tramp at the bar because that gives you jail time.

Instead, this well-placed fastball, usually under the chin, is intended to frighten the hitter into knowing who’s the boss. This concept is known as chin music, the brushback, or buzzing a hitter.

No one wants to get hit by a baseball traveling more than 90mph. It hurts. Imagine trying to get your work done with the threat of receiving a large, circular bruise on your back from a baseball shot out of a cannon. You would be nervous, right?

Hitters get nervous too at this thought and nervous hitters are bad hitters, begging to be sent back to the shelter of the dugout.

Chin music is an effective weapon pitchers use to send a message saying, “Stay the f*#@ away if you know what’s good for you!” It’s a great deterrent that keeps hitters away from the plate much like you keeping that mischievous minx away from your man.

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A Dangerous Fantasy

You hear a knock on your door. You open your door to find George Clooney or Hugh Jackman or whoever you want dressed to the nines waiting to take you out on a date. He takes you to the perfect place, the food is delicious, the wine is perfect, and he is listening to every little detail to every story you tell as if his life depends on it. He takes you home in his Audi R8 or Aston Martin Vanquish and you ask him if he wants to come in to have coffee and what-not. Of course, he obliges.

Wake up.

Clooney or Jackman or Pitt will never do all that with you. That’s why it’s called a fantasy. Fantasies are fun, but it’s not reality. They are so fun because you have complete control over something that makes you happy.

Fantasy baseball or any other sport operates in the same way. Fantasy sports allow users to draft players onto a team, set up lineups, make trades, add or release players and even create crazy, often raunchy team names usually featuring a double entendre. The players’ statistics in real life are compiled and added to the fantasy teams thereby creating winners and losers in the league. For instance, if a hitter were to hit three home runs, and you “owned” him on your fantasy team, his home runs would be applied to your team’s totals. And if your opponent only hit two home runs, you would win that stat category (there are varying amount of stat categories and the player who wins the most stat categories wins the “game” which usually lasts a week).

Controlling your own professional sports team is every guy’s fantasy. Surprise, surprise, guys don’t want to enjoy dinner with the Jonas Brothers, but then again some guys might… Anyway, fantasy sports is a big deal as millions of users sign up and take part each year.

It can be very time consuming. For instance, I neglected to sign up for fantasy football for the first time in many years this fall so I could concentrate on my grad school responsibilities. It wasn’t easy. Sleepless nights, chain-smoking, cold sweats and the fear of a major relapse into the world of fantasy football hounded me throughout the season.

Like a lot of addicts, I am making a deal with myself for baseball season: one fantasy team and one fantasy team only. I usually create three or four teams, but I’m trying to be strong. I know I will probably cave and create another team, but for now, just one team. Complete fantasy baseball sobriety is too much to ask. (God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Whew…)

So with the season just one week away, preparation and scouting must be done to create a championship team. If you are seeing less of your boyfriend, husband, dad, brother, son, guy-friend etc., they are not involved in some tawdry tryst or seedy undertaking. No, they are most certainly weighing the advantages and disadvantages of Ryan Howard’s home runs and strike outs or reading every injury report available on Chris Carpenter to see if 10-15 wins can be squeezed out of his once golden right arm.

While you may be fantasizing about Edward Cullen, I and about 90% of the male race, will be fantasizing about the champagne shower in the locker room with our fantasy team after a championship.

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