Monday, January 19, 2009

Yet Unnamed Monday Weekend Sports Re-Kap

Gotta Love Championship Sunday

What an interesting matchup we have set for the Super Bowl. An NFL also-ran with no history of success reaching its first Big Game in the Arizona Cardinals. Meeting them in Tampa will be the Steelers, who are no strangers to the big stage and will be looking for their 2nd title in 4 years. Other thoughts from NFL Championship weekend...

-I want that jacket that Mike Tomlin wears for each game. Could that be any sweeter? It seems like it's incredibly warm, made of some of type of gortex, but also seems lightweight enough that Tomlin is able to patrol the sidelines smoothly without feeling restricted. Throw in one of the best color combinations for any team in sports, black and yellow, and you have the coolest clothing item worn by a coach since Bill Parcells donned the the extreme highwater maternity trousers for Dallas a few years back.

-You have to love the job Kurt Warner is doing. He and Larry Fitzgerald are now clearly the most feared tandem in the NFL. But I have one major beef. The glove on the right hand makes him look silly. It's just not the way great quarterbacks are supposed to look. Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning...these guys would not be caught dead playing a football game, let alone an indoor football game, with a glove on their throwing hand. Like I said, I can't argue with the guy's success. But I can call the guy a panzy and tell him to play the position like everyone else has played it for the last 75 years.

-What a creative play call on 3rd and goal for the Cardinals when they were trying to retake the lead in the final quarter. While everyone and their brother expected the ball to find Fitzgerald someway, somehow, the Cards played to the Eagles over-aggressiveness again and ran a screen pass to Tim Hightower. The blockers were stationed perfectly in front of him, he trucked it to pay dirt, and the Cardinals were on their way to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

-I don't even know what company it's for, but I do know that this particular commercial is awful. An 11-year old kid standing in his front yard when he throws a basketball over his roof, has it bounce on the driveway, and bank in for an improbable long-range bucket. First of all, it doesn't even seem like they cared about making it look real. That commercial has so much CGI that even the kid seems like a robot. And he actually might be, considering his reaction to this miraculous, once in a lifetime, shot. He lets out one lame, high-pitched "Yeah" before most likely heading back into the house for a glass of turpentine and whatever else robots consume for nourishment after a hard day's work faking athletic achievements.

-Best comment of the weekend, albeit during a pretty scary moment. Willis McGahee had been down for a few minutes, as the CBS telecast ran numerous replays of the vicious lick he'd just taken from the helmet of Ryan Clark. From the kitchen, my Mom yells in, "Oh my God, Jerry, I am freaking out!!" Now, of course it was a tense moment with a player seriously injured on the field, but you cannot pass up an excellent chance like that to quote a Jerry Maguire line in a real life situation. It was a moment of levity during an uneasy period, and perfectly timed by my Mom. Much like Rod Tidwell, it looks as if McGahee will turn out alright, making this line not only funny, but not even that inappropriate considering the circumstances. Well done, Mom!


Simply the Best

Those that know me best are well aware of my infatuation with Kevin James and his old TV show, "The King of Queens." I vouch for the greatness of the show any chance I can, trying to get anyone I know to start getting into the show through re-runs. His character, Doug Heffernan, is just so easy to identify with. He loves sports, fried foods, hanging out with his buddies...the only thing preventing me from being him is a couple hundred LB's. So it goes without saying that when the big fella makes a new movie, I will be in attendance within the first couple days. Such was the case Saturday afternoon. Joining me in the "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" experience were my brother Sam and my buddy BK. Sam is a major King of Queens convert the last few years and has taken to speaking in the same dialect as Heffernan almost all of the time now. I'm pretty proud of him. BK is also an ardent KOQ supporter and is famous for his spot-on costume when he dressed up as Spence Olchin for the final episode viewing at my crib (Yes, we actually had such a party). Now on to the movie...

I won't reveal too many major plot details, as I know there are still a handful of people out there who have not seen it yet. But needless to say, Kevin James did not disappoint. It was his first attempt to really carry a movie on his own, as he'd previously teamed with mega stars Will Smith and Adam Sandler. And he passed the test with 'frying' colors. He was doing typical Kevin James things, such as playing up his semi-obesity by spreading peanut-butter on his after dinner slice of pie. In another moment, he'd be displaying his unexpected athleticism by chasing down a bad guy or riding around flawlessly on his Segway. It was basically everything you could have wanted from a movie on another nasty winter day here in Michigan. A lot of laughs, sub 90-minute length, and a pretty good complementary performance out of the weird brother from Wedding Crashers. I even had a nice dual Grape-Strawberry box of Nerds going, which did not suck. I'd say the movie was a cross between "Mallrats," "Beverly Hills Ninja," and Die Hard." You can connect those dots and assume the movie was pretty damn good. As the three of us filed out of the theater with a host of 10 and 11 year-olds, everyone seemed to have a smile on their face, eager to re-live the film's classic moments on the car ride home. Lord knows we did.



There's No Place Like Home


The 'Ballers Representing the D' are truly feeling the dog days of the NBA season right now. That time when the initial excitement of the beginning of the season has long passed and the All-Star break is not quite here. Teams can lose the nightly drive to get up for the lesser teams of the league, and find it difficult to regain that focus when a real good squad comes calling. This is the Pistons to a T the last couple weeks. They had a home win stolen from them by the lowly Bobcats, dropped an ugly overtime game in Indy, and then got handled with ease by the worst team in the NBA, the OKC Thunder. Throw in the loss last week in Utah and the hard fought defeat at the hands of Chris Paul's boys on Saturday, and you have the worst Piston losing streak (5 games) in 5 years. Which leads us to this. The Stones are now 5th in the Eastern Conference. The Atlanta Hawks are 4th. If you remember the Pistons of the late 90's, this was basically an annual 1st round matchup, with the Hawks always emerging victorious in the deciding 5th game. I've seen that movie before, and I don't want to see it again.

Those playoff series still cause me a sleepless night every now and then. Grant Hill was one of the game's top players, just itching to finally reach the elusive 2nd round of the playoffs. Joe D was still putting up numbers, and was still so much fun to root for. Granted, he was starting to look a lot like late 90's Tony Gwynn (not a good thing), and he now needed a little head of steam in order to power his trey up to the basket, but if he got you on his big ole' hip in the post, you might as well just turn and head back to the other end. Those teams at various stages had some other nice pieces, too. Otis Thorpe was up there in years when he got here, but the man was still deadly on the pick-and-pop. Jerome Williams and Don Reid were hustling all over the court, with not a speck of offensive ability to be found anywhere in either former Hoya's game. Terry Mills was a legend. Rick Mahorn was back for his 2nd tour, and was only inserted in games to perform his patented hip-a-dope and see if he could cause some type of serious injury to the other team's best forward (You know what I'm talkin' about, Dino Radja). But somehow, one way or another, the Hawks would take us down in 5.

They had an irritating team. I'll give you Steve Smith and Mookie Blaylock. Those guys were in their heyday in the late 90's and were expected to carve you up most nights. But the out-of-body experiences by the other guys are what haunt me to this day. If Tyrone Corbin were to send those 1st round playoff tapes to the folks in Springfield, Mass., you could guarantee he would be going in on the 1st ballot. Most nights, you could watch the Hawks play and not even realize Corbin was on the team. During those playoff battles, you walked away thinking, "What's so special about this Michael Jordan character? What does he have that Ty Corbin doesn't"??? Grant Long spent a couple years looking washed up in a Pistons uniform, only to turn around and absolutely play his heart out to eliminate us in that '99 series. There was also the bizarre back-and-forth between Dikembe Mutombo and Bison Dele where each guy would dominate the other depending on who was at home. Mutombo's offensive outbursts were really tough to take, because of just how ugly his offensive "arsenal" was. Couple dribbles to the middle of the lane, stick the off-elbow in his defender's gut, and fire off a hook shot at 65 mph with zero arc that would always end up falling through the basket somehow.

Those teams were about as even as could be. The series would go 5 games, and the Pistons would never pull it out. Because the game was always on the road. In '97, the Hawks won two more games during the regular season, thus getting the all-important 5th and final game at home. In '99, same story...two more regular season wins for the ATL and a heartbreaker to end the year at their place (which happened to be in front of about 8,000 fans at the Georgia Tech court that night, just about the saddest scene possible for the legendary Dumars to make his final exit). As of this moment, the Hawks top the Stones by 1 game in the standings. I don't wanna get ahead of myself, but I'll say it; today's showdown in Memphis is a must-win game. I refuse to watch another season end in Atlanta.


Anytime a weekend involves Kevin James, Rod Tidwell jokes, boxes of Nerds, and a trip to Ruby Tuesday, I am one happpppy individual. E-mail me at highsockslegend@gmail.com

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