Sunday, October 04, 2009

Female Golfers & Softball Players: Send your angry comments to "Senator John Ensign." I'm sure he'll check you out. (Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

It's the time of year you've been anxiously awaiting, even if you didn't know you were anxiously awaiting it -- and you probably didn't, because the "time of year" I'm referring to has to do with "baseball," and who pays any attention to baseball anymore? When I think of "baseball fans" I imagine stands filled with 75-year-old guys marking up their scorecards with obscure abbreviations like "K" (which stands for strikeout) and "HBP," (which stands for Hit By Pitch)(which is what I'd be hoping would happen to me if I was forced to sit in the stands for an entire baseball game.)

Interestingly-- or the exact opposite of interestingly -- there are not one, but two abbreviations for Hit By Pitch. There's HBP and HP -- the latter seemingly meant to make the scoring quicker, but, really, it's baseball; why are you hurrying? In between pitches, you'll have enough time to mark down your backward-letter-K (for a batter who struck out looking) and SH (for "Sacrifice Hit Bunt") and still take your cholesterol medication, check to see if your AARP membership card has arrived at home yet, and plan to watch every show on CBS that night, if you can figure out how to work the remote your granddaughter reprogrammed.

(Hint: She didn't reprogram it; you're trying to control your television with a banana.)

Anyway, the "time of year" I'm talking about is the start of the baseball playoffs, which means two things to sports fans: (1) With the lengthof the playoffs, it's only 4-and-a-half more months until baseball ends! and (2) The Return of the NonSportsmanlike Conduct 100% Accurate, Never-Fail, Always-Right, Sure-Fire System For Picking The Playoff Winner.

That's right: The NC100%ANF,AR,SFSFPTPW returns this year to help you pick the playoff winner of the National League, and the American League, and any other leagues baseball may have out there -- I think Major League Soccer gets a wildcard berth now, as does 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea-- through the sanest, wisest, most practical and most accurate method of all. The 100% System has, I will remind you, never failed to accurately predict the winner of a sport's playoffs (although I will also remind you that there is a margin of error of +/- 4 teams.)

People who've read this system before -- Mom, and George Will -- know how it works, but for the newcomers (Sweetie, and the other person who reads this blog) I'll briefly explain: Sportscasters and other "experts" look at things like starting pitching and batting averages and fielding percentages and regular-season records to tell you who they think will win the playoffs. Booooooooooring! And iiiiiiiiiiinaccurate!

I don't waste my time with that stuff, because (a) it's not reliable, like my system is, and (b) I don't know any of that stuff and would have to look it up, and while we know that even "scientists" agree with me that Googling things proves your point every time, if I'm going to be pretending to work while googling stuff, it's not going to be batting averages, it's going to be cool things like asking google Who was that one girl in that one movie that I liked, and seeing who comes up number one in response to that.

The response to that, for some reason, is Demi Lovato. If you google that phrase, the number one site in response is a link to a Demi Lovato video. Although I'm not sure it's an official Demi Lovato video, since I imagine that Disney has slightly higher production values which they express in the form of movies that are not just collections of still photos.

If you know who this is, you probably also say things
like OMG and LOL and WDYMISI?
(Which stands for What Do You Mean, I Sound Idiotic?)

Having established, though, that Demi Lovato was that one girl in that one movie that I liked, it's time to get on to the NonSportsmanlike Conduct 100% Accurate, Never-Fail, Always-Right, Sure-Fire System For Picking The Playoff Winner, which, as I said, doesn't mess around with irrelevancies like "Which team can score more runs," but instead measures intangibles and decides which team has the better intangibles in four critical categories of sports: Best Mascot/Nickname, Craziest Fans, Politician's Bets, and Weirdest Item in Their Team Store. Examining those categories has never failed to predict the winner of a major-league sporting event.

Up this week is the National League Playoffs, which I've chosen to do first because the American League playoffs aren't set yet; apparently American League baseball fans haven't gotten sick of the season yet, so Bud Selig is letting that league continue playing a little longer.

In the National League, there are four teams ready to square off for the right to face the American League's best in the World Series, and ready for you and I not to care until it comes down to the last inning of game 7 of the World Series. (Game 7 of this year's World Series is tentatively scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., November 3, 2017). The teams are (I'm told) the Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Dodgers. How it works is the Dodgers and Cardinals will each play a seemingly endless series of games, as will the Rockies and Phillies, and you'll hear a lot about them in the news and won't care. Then the winners of those two godawfully long series will play each other in what appears to be a best-of-37 series for the right to go to the World Series, which will take place so long from today that by then you will have forgotten I ever wrote this post and they will have come up with all-new abbreviations for baseball scorecards. (Like &. That's an under-utilized symbol.)

But I'm not predicting who will win just individual series; I'm telling you right now, right up front, which NL team will be in the World Series. Here we go:

1. Best Mascot/Nickname: Rockies, Phillies, Cardinals, and Dodgers... do any of those really say Winner? Not Dodgers, which can be eliminated first, the Chicago 2016 of this bunch. In all of sports, there are few team nicknames so uninspiring as Dodgers. People who dodge aren't winners. Unless the game is dodgeball, I suppose, but people who play dodgeball aren't winners... ever... either.

There is a reason this movie was a comedy:
Because anyone who thinks this is a sport is hilariously dumb.

Also not sports? Kickball, anything played
on ice, anything where you can't use your hands.

Rockies, too, can be eliminated. They're mountains. That was the best you could do, Rockies? Crib your entire name from the only geographic feature people can associate with Colorado in the first place? Thank god other teams don't follow this trend: The Kansas Plains. The Florida Swamps. The North Dakota God-Let's-Just-Move-The-Heck-Somewhere-Elses.

That leaves Phillies and Cardinals, and "Phillies" is out because it's a ph- version of Fillies, which means they're a bunch of girl horses trying to be all hip-hop. Cardinals win by default.

The Philadelphia Fillies have as their mascot the "Phanatic, an overgrown muppet that is known for shooting hot dogs into the stands using something called a "Hatfield Hot Dog Launcher."

That compares to the Rockies' Dinger The Dinosaur, whose only claim to fame is that he is more real than the "Velociraptor" and the "Minature T.Rex" combined. I fully expect "paleontologists" to announce, any day now, that they have discovered the complete remains of a triceratops that walked upright and used to do a prehistoric Home Run dance, and, sadly, I fully expect the public to buy it.

The Cardinals put up Fredbird, and, realizing that to be pretty uncool, then threw a bunch of women in with him, calling them Team Fredbird.

From mediocre chicken wings to MTV reality shows
to sports invented over a century ago which have long outlived
the public's attention span for them, there is nothing
that cannot be made better by surrounding it
with twentysomething girls in tight clothing.

The Dodgers don't even try -- their last mascot was Emmett Kelly The Clown. In 1956.

As much as I'd like to reward the "creativity" shown by Team Fredbird, the Phanatic wins this one for his ingenuity in discovering a way to rocket launch hot dogs.

Score: 1 for the Cardinals, 1 for the Phillies.

2. Craziest Fans: I choose this category by going to Youtube and searching for the team name with the words "Crazy Fan" associated with it. When you do that for the Phillies, the result appearing almost at the top is "Crazy fan almost drops his kid at Phillies Parade."

I thought he would not be the craziest Phillies fan, because I also saw that there was "Guy jumps off 3rd Floor parking garage for Phillies Parade," which sounded promising... until I watched it:

What a gyp. When you call a video "Guy jumps off 3rd Floor parking garage for Phillies Parade," and have that lead-up where he's undoing the safety wires, I as an Internet viewer am ENTITLED to see that guy fall down, and while he may land safely, he's got to fall. As a result of that false advertising, I'm declaring the Phillies out of the running for Craziest Fan.

Then there's what passes for a Crazy Fan in Colorado:

That's crazy? It's an old guy dancing to Cotton Eyed Joe (and, coincidentally, dancing to that song the exact way I dance to I See You Baby (Shakin' That Thing). The only thing crazy about that video is how eerily accurate it shows my imagination of a typical baseball fan to be.

Then there's crazy Dodger fan:

You know what's great about that? Every single person around him is totally ignoring him. That guy thought to himself "I'll put on my Dodgers furry hat and funny gloves and cape and I am gonna impress some people here today," and then not one person even raised an eyebrow at him. It's like they made a pact not to pay attention to him. "Hey, you know that guy that's always sitting next to us, the one that smells like old pretzels? Let's just ignore him entirely today and maybe he'll stop coming to games." I'm sure it didn't work: Guys like that never stop coming to things, whether those things be baseball games, weddings, parole board hearings -- but it's nice to see him fail at the one thing that wearing a cape in public usually can do, which is get you attention.

We finish up with Crazy Cardinals fan: A 2-year-old that watched his first game in August or September, 2009, and who expressed an appropriate reaction upon realizing he was being raised by parents who intended to take him to baseball games:

Did you see at the end? He picked up a scorecard. 2 years old, and already lame enough to want to mark the result of that play. Sorry about your life, kid -- but at least you helped give a point to your team.

Score: 1 for the Cardinals.

3. Politicians' Bets: I love to see our elected officials doing what's really important, whether "really important" be defined as "Spending Time With Oprah in Europe Instead of Attending To Health Care Reform," or whether it be defined as "Betting a case of something vaguely associated with our state against another politician." The strength of a team can be measured, very accurately, in how willing that team's mayor, governor, or even, sometimes, "Senator" is to back up that team and put his money -- or his locally-grown okra -- where his mouth it. (The strength of a government, on the other hand, is inversely proportionate to how many political sports bets there are. Just keep that in mind as you wait to see if Congress is going to pass a health care bill that actually helps, or if instead you're going to have to sell your blood to pay for your kidney dialysis treatment again.)(It's the Circle Of Life. Just keep telling yourself that.)

In Dodgers vs. Cardinals, I couldn't find a current bet, but I did see that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa LAST YEAR bet Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on the Cubs-Dodgers playoff series -- wagering the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid against rights to LA Times owner Sam Zell. That is more pathetic than Shrek 3, and I'm going to deduct a point from the Dodgers for it. I'd deduct a point from Chicago, too, but they didn't make the playoffs. Or the Olympics. Which weren't going to be held in Chicago, anyway. If "Chicago 2016" won, a bunch of events were going to be held in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin -- a tiny city which is now reeling, since losing out on hosting the 2016 Olympics came in the same year that the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum officially moved to Middleton, Wisconsin.

Suck it, Timmy!

Little-known fact: Middleton, Wisconsin, made it to the third round of balloting for the 2012 Winter Games. The final vote came in at Moscow, 5, Middleton, 3, Who Cares/Nobody Will Watch The Winter Games Anyway, Unless We Somehow Get Those Beach Volleyball Girls Who Are Always Making Out With Each Other To Come There, 89.

In the Rockies-Fillies matchup, we have a similar result: I searched for Phillies Rockies bet on Google and came across a 2007 article in which Colorado Governor Bill Ritter proclaimed the month of October to be "Rocktober." (In that same proclamation, he also announced that from now on, he would like to be referred to as "Governor Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine The Hulk And The Flash Combined," only to later realize that the name was already taken, but by then the new state letterhead had already been ordered.)

Declaring things to be Rocktober is a joke that went out with The Flintstones. So, Colorado, I am going to deduct a point from you, too.

Score: Rockies, -1, Dodgers, -1.

4. Weirdest Item In Their Team Store: We'll begin in the west and move east, just like the sun does. (What's that? You claim the sun moves east to west? That just shows me that you believe that propaganda the Mainstream Media feeds you about the direction of the sun? What a sucker you are. I read on HuffPo how it's all a big Trilateral Commission agenda item to keep solar power down. Even Dan Brown's in on it. The so-called "Lost Symbol" is nothing more than a compass with the real directions on it.)

Dodgers: Ordinarily, I head right for the cheap section of the store to find out what kind of lame junk the team is trying to foist off on people like me, people who, when they have to buy something, inevitably look for the clearance sign or that little orange price tag over the regular one. People like me don't care what we get -- we care that we get it cheaper than someone else.

But in Dodgerville, I got distracted on my way to the sale bin by the "Highland Mint Los Angeles Dodgers Manny Ramirez 24KT Gold and Infield Dirt Coin SPECIAL EDITION Photo Mint."

Yes, "Mint" is in the official description twice, and yes, "SPECIAL EDITION" was capitalized in the original (raising the question: Is there a regular edition of this:)

That Mint SPECIAL EDITION Mint features not just one, but two of something called an "Infield Dirt Coin," along with 3 24-kt gold (or gold-plated) coins.

But the important thing is: You're buying a coin made of dirt. For $294.99.

Oh, well, at least it's a SPECIAL EDITION. That'll make you feel better when your wife divorces you and exhibit one at the trial is "Husband's Money Made Out Of Soil."

Rockies: As usual, with Colorodoers, it doesn't take long to find something lame. I went to their team store and clicked on "Top Sellers" and was rewarded by seeing, as a top seller, the "Ultra Pro UV Protecting Baseball Square:"

That's a real thing, apparently, and not just a real thing, but a "top seller" for Rockies' fans, who apparently are unaware of a little thing the rest of us call "the third dimension." Rockies fans... it's not a square, it's a cube.

More importantly, before you shell out $3.99 to "protect[] Baseballs from harmful Ultra Violet rays keeping the Autographs clear and sharp," let me introduce you to another, totally free thing that will achieve the same results: Keep your baseballs indoors.

Cardinals: From the Cardinals, we have the St. Louis Cardinals MLB Authentic Collection Titanium Bracelet S-Type. Retailing at $26.99, your first instinct, like mine, was probably "Why would I pay 27 bucks for a dog collar?"

Your instincts are only HALF-wrong, though. It's not a dog collar. It's, instead, a 7.5" length bracelet made of something called Aqua-Titanium, and it's for you to wear. Still not sold? What if I told you -- as the Cardinals' website claims -- that the bracelet "has the ability to regulate the body's natural electric currents through cell ionization." In fact -- again, according to the St. Louis Cardinals' website, if you're wondering who to file the class-action deceptive marketing lawsuit against -- this bracelet can prevent injury.

Which should be helpful when you give this to your girlfriend for your anniversary and she immediately wonders why you got her a dog collar. One thing it can't prevent? Hurt feelings when people laugh at you on the street for wearing it.

And so we come to the Phillies shop, which I imagined would be filled with Philly Cheeseteak-related memorabilia, since every freaking time anyone in the sports world goes within 200 miles of Philadelphia, we have to hear about that stupid Philly cheesesteak, which looks gross on the sandwich and even grosser being eaten by idiotic drunken Philadelphians wearing retro Eagles' jerseys.

Instead of cheesesteak, though, I immediately came across something that you could use to CARRY your cheesesteak... and still leave extra room to pack along your shame and embarrassment: The Philadelphia Phillies Game Day Purse:

For just $29.99, you can send the message that not only are you sad enough to spend your time rooting for a baseball team, but also that you have the (complete lack of) fashion savvy to advertise it via a shoulder bag.

The ad copy notes that the "Front of the bag" has been "woven by hand with grosgrain ribbon," which is, I'm certain, one of the reasons why the rest of the world hates us and voted against Chicago/Mount Horeb 2016: "They sit around eating Munchos potato chips while we have to slave away 16 hours a day hand-weaving what is clearly a fanny-pack for the 21st century? Screw them, I'm voting for Rio."

Also, don't plan on carrying much in your haute couture purse. The dimensions are 8" x 7" x 1". It's one inch in width. Which means that whatever you plan to put in that purse would fit comfortably in your front pocket. But where's the humiliation/team spirit in that?

Even with so many worthy contenders, the obvious winner has to be the Cardinals' bracelet. While coins made of dirt, hideous purses, and ludicrously unnecessary "UV squares" are weird, and hilarious, and make me weep for humanity because someone somewhere is buying those things, the Aqua-Titanium of the bracelet won me over: It's not just titanium, the strongest element known to mankind! It's AQUA-Titanium, which sounds even better in a world where scientific education has been bypassed for almost-weekly teachers' in-services.

Cardinals: 1. And one pity point for the Rockies, to make their fans feel better while they sniffle and think "What if my house caught fire in the middle of the night and I had to get my baseballs out of the house and then had to stand in the street holding them for hours until the sun came up, thereby inadvertently exposing them to sunlight?"

To which I say: Have you considered getting an attractive team purse to carry them in?

Final Results:
Let's see here... carry the one... the final scores are:

Cardinals: 3
Phillies: 1.
Rockies: 0
Dodgers: -1.

Your National League World Series entrant will be the Cardinals!

With that out of the way, let's quickly wrap up the week by posting the The NC! Incredibly Accurate (But Arbitrary) NFL Picks! for week 3.

Last week, I finished 7-9 with my arbitrary picks, picks which resulted in my declaring that 3 games would end in a tie. (Who could've seen that not happening?) Mark Sclereth of the ESPN "Brain Trust," using all his football acumen... finished 10-6, or 3 games better than I did. And yet he gets the big bucks while I'm stuck slaving away nearly 15 hours a week at my job.

Note: I'm in the office 50 hours a week, but 35 hours per week are devoted to looking up old songs I just remembered from the 1980s, songs like "Dance Hall Days" by Wang Chung:

I'll continue to match "wits" with the Brain Trust, and this week will pick Mike Golic, another football-player-turned-analyst. Golic, whose sole job is to know about sports, has a record for the year of 34-13, or 72.3% right. My record is 28-19, or 59.5% accurate. That may look bad, but how much time do you think Golic spends looking up other songs with "Dance Hall" in the title, songs like Dance Hall by Modest Mouse:

See? It's a whole genre!

For this week, my Arbitrary Criterion is: The team whose starting quarterback has a shorter first name. Here's my picks. (Click here for Golic's. I'm too lazy to type them.)

Lions @ Bears: Jay Cutler, assuming your name isn't actually "Jayorella" or something, you get the win. Bears.

Seahawks @ Colts: I'm not sure if Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace will be starting for the Seahawks -- so it's either a win for the Seahawks, or a tie. I'll go with Matt and say Seahawks.

Titans at Jaguars: Kerry "Kerry" Collins or David "David" Garrard? You know what that means: Tie.

And, in honor of that tie, here's "Dance Hall Drug" by Boys Like Girls:

I told you: It's a genre!

Giants @ Chiefs: Eli! Giants.

Buccaneers @ Redskins: Everytime I think of Tampa Bay, I think that there must be some kind of pun-joke to make out of the last name. Something with a punchline of Well, that there corn costs a buck-an-ear. For a chance to host the 2020 Olympics, submit your own jokes to set up that punch line to Mayor Villaraigosa at Oh, and the game? The Redskins' quarterback is Jason, and the Bucs QB is Byron. Ordinarily, that would be a tie, but I'm going to arbitrarily say Byron outranks Jason and go Bucs.

Ravens @ Patriots* Everyone I know is upset that around here, this game is being shown on TV instead of some other game. Everyone except Mr F, who's upset because we won't let him eat his blanket. Sorry, Mr F! Rules are rules. Also, Joe (Flacco) and Tom (Brady) are equal in length, but Tom Brady's a cheater, so Ravens.

Raiders @ Texans: Al Davis should've taken my advice and drafted a horse. Texans. (Golic:

Bengals @ Browns: 2 second rule. Browns.

Time for "King of the Dancehall," by Beenie Man:

I rule.

Bills @ Dolphins: Chad Benchington is out again, making the Dolphins start ... Chad Henne. And that, sports fans, is also the only time in sports history that a team has had both its starting QB and its backup QB named Chad. Chads aren't supposed to be starting football games. They're supposed to be the night manager at the Hardee's down the road, the one that you always think I should go there sometime, but then you think Then again, I don't know what Hardee's even serves anymore, and then you realize that you left your wallet sitting on the counter at the gas station. Stupid Chad. Dolphins.

Jets @ Saints: Mark Sanchez vs. Drew Brees! 4 letters vs 4 letters! Do you suppose that Drew was always a real name, or did it evolve from Andrew, which itself evolved from Andrewth, the first name of fifteen consecutive Popes (Pope Andrewth I through XV)? Just makin' conversation here. Tie.

Cowboys @ Broncos: Apropos of nothing, I think that someone, somewhere, should sell Kyle Orton action figures. With real hand-off motion! And I'm getting sick of all these names being the same length. This was a stupid arbitrary criterion. Since I don't like Tony Romo, I'm going Broncos.

Rams @ 49ers: I just realized, I have no idea who the quarterback is for either of these teams -- and the Rams played the Packers last week, and I watched that game. (Having looked it up, I see it's Kyle Boller for the Rams, and I don't care for the 49ers, because there's two Kyles playing in the NFL and I'm going to give the win to this Kyle, too: Rams.

Chargers @ Steelers: Good thing I arbitrarily chose first names for these games (and then arbitrarily ignored my own rules whenever I wanted to). Ben beats Philip, so Steelers.

Packers @ Vikings:
Brett vs. Aaron? Again with the same length? You can tell I don't think these through before I decide on the arbitrary criteria. Since I will be wearing a Favre Vikings Jersey while I watch this game, Vikings

And, to play us out, here's Dancehall Places by Mint Royale:

This week's good luck charms are:

Katie Featherstone: Currently appearing in Paranormal Activity, the scariest movie I have ever seen. We saw it last night at a midnight showing, and I'm still a little scared, today, and it's 9:30 a.m. and light out.


Ryn Neethling, who won a gold medal swimming in the 2004 Olympics -- which were held in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Ryk was awarded the Arizona Athlete of the Century award, too, which is a pretty good accomplishment, I guess, except that his competition was female golfers and softball players, and they can't really be called athletes, right?

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