Monday, June 29, 2009

A Short Break for the HSL

The High Socks Legend will be in the upper parts of Michigan for the next week with limited Internet access. Thus, the blog will be taking a short break, to resume next week with an extended Sports Re-Kap. As always, feel free to check out all of the old articles on the archives to the right for some entertainment, and I will see you all back with new thoughts next week.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Pistons Draft, 2009: Nothing to See Here...Literally

For the first time in a long time, the Pistons actually had a semi-valuable first round selection in the NBA draft. After years of division titles and 50+ win seasons, the Pistons finally felt what it is like to be one of the also-rans trying to get lucky on draft night. Sadly, it doesn't look like it happened. You can't kill Joe D too much because this draft was devastatingly thin and so many of the top prospects have very little college experience. But the first round choice of Austin Daye from Gonzaga does not exactly send you charging to the Palace box office for dibs on the first batch of season tickets. I saw the guy play over the years on the tube, and you were always hearing about what he could be. He could be a gigantic 6'11 point forward. He could be a matchup nightmare for opposing teams with his unique skill set for such a big man. But more often than not, you'd check out the game, Daye would finish with like 11 points and 5 boards, and you walk away thinking, "What is everyone talking about?!?? This guy is the definition of mediocre!" He wasn't close to being the most important player on his college team. Jeremy Pargo, their point guard, would demand the ball in crunch time, shooting guard Matt Bouldin would get hot when the team needed points, and Josh Heytvelt would secure the paint area when things started to get away from them. Where did Daye fit in? Kind of where he does on this Pistons team...nowhere.

For the most part, guys that are 6'11 should be "bangers." Guys that play under the rim, carve out space, and take responsibility in rebounding the ball. But every so often, a real lanky, bony, 6'11 dude comes out of the woodwork, and the results can be less than desirable. Does the name Darius Miles ring a bell? How about Jonathan Bender? Both guys were Top-5 picks in the draft before going on to have uneventful careers ultimately ended prematurely by severe knee problems. Someone like Kevin Garnett is the exception, not the rule, when talking about the success that players with this kind of body type have in the NBA. It's just very difficult to go out night after night as a 200-pound 3/4 man in the league and maintain a high level of play throughout. And not to pile on Mr. Daye too much, but he truly seemed like a "soft" player when you'd watch him compete in the Zags' most important games. You don't even have to look much past his t-shirt to know what you're getting into. Usually, forwards that are proud of their bodies and are eager to show off their "guns" play the college game with just the jersey, deciding against the permissible, but semi-lame, t-shirt look. Daye, on the other hand, took full advantage, draping himself in what basically amounted to a full-body Gonzaga outfitted Snuggie, enveloping his arms in so much cloth and cotton that you'd never know his biceps were equivalent to those of fellow straw weight Mary Poppins.

It's no secret that while Gonzaga used to be a Cinderella story year after year, lately they've just been an overrated mid-major come NCAA tournament time. They rule their little WCC conference, but when they step up against competition like UNC, as they did in this year's dance, they whittle away and go hide in the corner. Daye is the perfect example. In a game that many felt the Zags could give the Heels a real run for their money, Daye came up flat. He was a non-factor against Tyler Hansbrough and Co., shooting 3 of 8 and making three turnovers as the eventual champion Tar Heels steamrolled 'em by 21.

I'm just not sure where Austin Daye fits on this team. You have a real problem in the frontcourt, and one that will not be solved by simply adding Carlos Boozer as rumor says they might. This was a team that could not keep Cleveland away from the offensive glass in the playoffs and you would think Joe D would want to address this gap as much as possible. Daye does not really fill that void in any way. And while the jokes of "I thought we already had a Tayshaun" are quickly becoming unoriginal, that jab still rings quite true. Daye reminds you of a slightly bigger and less skilled Tay, and really, how do you get excited about that? I was kind of tired of the Tayshaun we had we really need two?!?

To be fair, I'm not sure where Joe D should have went with this pick. This was not a depth-filled draft where you knew you were getting a quality player anywhere in the Top 20. I guess he could have went the Ty Lawson route and tried shoring up the point guard position, but I still think you cannot forget about Will Bynum and the super-productive minutes he provided during the last two months of the season. He was undoubtedly the Pistons best player over this stretch, and he can no longer be looked at as just a journeyman or a stopgap for a few games at a time. Maybe Dumars realized this and decided against drafting a point guard.

The 2nd round picks are what they are. Fliers on guys that will probably wind up playing in Fort Wayne or the B'nai B'rith Sunday morning league for $1,200 a month. DaJuan Summers from Georgetown is another player that never really impressed you because he never did anything really well. He was somewhat athletic, he'd shoot the ball very inconsistently, and his decision making left plenty to be desired. Best case scenario...he becomes Trevor Ariza in a few years. Worst case, and more likely scenario...he becomes a much less entertaining version of 'Dunkin' Darvin Ham. The other 2nd rounder, Jonas Jerebko of Sweden, begs the question, "Why did we feel the need to acquire another Walter Herrmann in addition to another Tayshaun Prince?" It seems like Joe D finds a type of guy he likes, then just tries adding him year after year, even if he has to change the names every once in a while. Mr. Jerebko seems to be a little more than your classic European shooting forward, displaying some unique athleticism and leaping ability on the 4-5 highlights they threw up on ESPN when he was selected. Of course, the competition was probably less than stellar and it's debatable on whether the rims he was dunking on were 10 feet, but nevertheless, it looks like the boy can get up. The platinum blonde hair does not exactly seem like the symbol of toughness, but if the guy can be a helpful sub off the pine in the next couple years, all power to him.

All in all, not a particularly eventful night for our Pistons, but most likely, the real fireworks will come in the next couple of weeks. With rampant speculation that possibly Carlos Boozer and Ben Gordon will be heading to Motown together, the whole outlook of this team will change. As it stands now, you're looking at a semi-jumbled backcourt, a forward corps not exceptionally strong in the shooting or rebounding departments, and a head coach that still reminds you way too much of the clueless Rhea Perlman in Sunset Park. So now, we wait.

Pistons fans knew that this draft night would not bring any great savior by draft or trade, and they were proved correct. They picked up a righthanded Tayshaun Prince (Daye), a poor man's Ronald Dupree (Summers...and yes, there is such a thing), and a very similar, but possibly even more feminine version of Walter Herrmann (Jerebko). It wasn't a home run night, but there really weren't many good pitches to swing at. The talent was thin, the experience was light, and many of the names were unknown to most. But just like all the other teams in the East have improved themselves in recent days by way of trade, the Pistons biggest splash, via free agency, may be yet to come. For now, we will sit back, wait for the next move, and dream about the Pistons becoming the first NBA team in history to start a tandem of near 7-foot forwards that fail to produce a combined weight of 400's definitely a lean period for the time being at 3 Championship Drive.

What'd you think of the Pistons' selections, or other thoughts on the '09 NBA Draft in general? Drop a comment here or reach me by e-mail at

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Two Most Difficult Tasks on the Planet

People are really doing amazing things in the world every single day. You see the guy at the NBA halftime show that is able to fold himself up in such a way that he is actually able to fit into a tiny, metal box. Unbelievable. You see a story on the Discovery channel about a blind guy scaling Mount Everest. What a feat! You have genius computer geeks coming up with ways for us to have a phone, camera, music player, and Internet connection all in one little hand-held device . It's truly fascinating. The thing is this, however. We can come up with a million landmark achievements that boggle the mind and test our imaginations beyond belief, but there are still two accomplishments that remain elusive, and probably will for a very long time.

The ice cream sandwich. Tough to really sum up its greatness in just one article. It somehow took the lunchtime staple, the sandwich, and transformed itself into a heavenly dessert replete with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate coating. It quickly became an ice cream truck fan favorite, easily trumping the "looks better than it really is" Screwball and the onetime world #2 Toasted Almond bar. You could be 8 years old, you could be 108 years old...if you were an American, chances are you had an ice cream sandwich in your hand every day during the summer. There was just one problem. It became evident very early on in the ice cream sandwich's life that this delight could not be enjoyed without the black "sandwich" material getting all over your hands and fingers. People started coming up with all kinds of different strategies. Eating the sandwich with rubber gloves on...didn't work. It bleeds right through. Eating the ICS with two long sticks, never allowing it to touch hand or flesh at any time...didn't fly. The coating would inevitably work its way onto the ends of the sticks, and then magically rub off on your fingers when you tried to release. Some even tried eating the ice cream sandwich in a bowl, using a spork and knife. Not gonna happen. You still had to transfer the sandwich from box to bowl, and in that time, it would latch on to you like an anaconda. It just can't be done. The ice cream sandwich could still be enjoyed, but the mess the exterior portion of the snack caused cannot be underestimated. It was never a good situation when you'd come back inside the house after wolfing down an ICS and have to explain to your mom why it looked like you just spent the last six hours wiping down fresh tar on I-75.

The other impossible task also relates to an underrated dessert item. The cupcake. I've long been an admirer of Cupcake and all that it brings to the table. Whenever a kid had a birthday in school, you always found yourself hoping that it wouldn't just be the typical "cake and ice cream" routine, or worse, the "hit or miss" homemade brownie situation. (Sidenote: anybody that prefers brownies with nuts can take their American citizenship and throw it right down the garbage disposal. You just don't belong here.) Every once in a while, though, a kid got it just right. Special little cupcakes for all to enjoy, with frosting always leaning over both sides. Sadly though, that's where our problem began. That frosting would just be built too damn high. Whose jaw could possibly fit from top to bottom on this thing? I would understand if we were a class of 4th-grade velociraptors, but we were most definitely not!! You'd never think that frosting could be the cause for any type of unfortunate life situation, but in this case, it was. You see, nobody has ever taken a great bite out of a cupcake without getting frosting all over their nose. It's Cupcake's dirty little secret: "You can eat me, you can enjoy my sweet and sugary taste, but know that when I'm done with you, you're going to look like a Care-Bear that just did a half dozen lines of cocaine." Everyone tries to eat it without running into this problem, but that's always just been a pipe dream. You bring the cupcake up to your mouth ever so slowly, open your jaw just a wee little bit at a time, push the cupcake towards the opening...and BAM! You take that fatal bite, and while you enjoy the little dance moves your taste buds are now doing, you know deep down that you look like a complete mo-ron that is unable to consume his personal dessert without getting half of it on his face.

Like I said, the human race has pretty much perfected any task you could ever dream up. We've traveled to the moon, we've rebuilt actual living dinosaurs (Jurassic Park was actually a documentary), and we've invented a button that enables us to click back to the previous channel so we will never forget what we were just watching. But the great thing about this world is that there are always new challenges to overcome. To many, the Ice Cream Sandwich and the Cupcake are just foods. Simple dessert items. But they represent so much more. They symbolize the fight to always follow your dreams, and to not let past failures keep you from coming back to try and do the job right the next time. We're still waiting on that first blemish-free consumption of an Ice Cream Sandwich...and the Cupcake "frosting on face" issue is still very much a living thing. But it doesn't mean we're giving up. So next time you are offered a little post-meal treat at a party, take a moment to appreciate the history behind the snack. You could just scarf it down without thought, but you wouldn't be remembered. But eat one of these things like nobody has before, and you walk away a hero. My hero.

Drop a line below on the Ice Cream Sandwich-Cupcake dilemma...or drop me a note by e-mail at

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Event was a Tragedy. The Sentencing was Worse

The news ticker that crawls across the bottom of ESPN basically 24 hours a day rarely brings to light any information you did not already know. You get your daily Brett Favre "update." You'll see something like, "Kobe vows to play better in Game 4." Or a "breaking" story that some diva wide receiver is not planning to report to his NFL mini-camp. It's essentially the same little snippets every day, just with some of the names changing.

But every once in a while, you catch something on there that makes your jaw hit the floor and causes you to blink half a dozen times, almost trying to wake up from the inconceivable dream you must be having. What you just read could not possibly be true.

This was my reaction earlier today when I saw the news that Donte' Stallworth, he of the drunken driving homicide just three months ago, was sentenced to 30 days in prison for the offense.

30 days???

Wait a second, that can't be right. It must have said 30 years. I probably read it wrong. We are talking about killing another human being, here. Referring to a length of time by how many "days" or "weeks" is usually reserved for the question, "How old is your baby?" When you are talking about a jail sentence for killing a fellow man, you should hear terms like "years," "decades," or even "lifetimes."

I fire up the computer, hop on the Internet to confirm the story, and sure enough, I saw it crystal clear the first time. Stallworth ended Mario Reyes' life when the innocent man was simply trying to catch a bus to go home from work...and for that unforgivable act, he will now spend a few weeks in jail.

Injustice?? That doesn't even begin to describe it.

I've always been utterly confused by the lack of penalties that go along with killing another human being while driving drunk. The story of star defensive end Leonard Little became the symbol for the atrocities in the legal system often associated with this heinous crime.

Little left a birthday party in 1998 toting a blood alcohol level of .19, which is over twice the legal limit. He proceeded to slam his SUV into an innocent woman, ending her life in an instant. For this abominable act, Little spent a total of 90 days in the slammer.

You would hope that most jail sentences would serve as a constant reminder to the offender not to repeat their crime. But when you can end another person's life and face less than 100 days, really how much impact will be made on that person's decision making in the future?

Little is a prime example. Just six years following the DUI manslaughter, he was stopped again for drunk driving. Don't worry...he didn't serve a single second of jail time for that one.

I imagine that Donte' Stallworth's penalty would have been much more severe if the crime were committed with a gun, and not a car. What if Stallworth had just been wandering the Miami street drunk out of his mind that morning, and fired a gun for no reason at Mario Reyes, the victim? There is no way that this crime would be met with a 30-day jail sentence. But what's the difference between that scenario and the one that actually occurred?

By guzzling alcohol throughout the night and then grabbing his keys and heading out onto the road, Stallworth was basically grabbing a gun and firing it into a crowd.

Would one of his bullets strike and kill an innocent person?

Or would he catch a break with the bullet landing harmlessly into an empty field?

You never know...that's the point. Stallworth could have made it home without incident that morning, but there was also the very real possibility that his car would end up doing fatal damage. Is a car any less of a deadly weapon than a gun? It's a piece of machinery weighing thousands of pounds that travels at speeds in excess of 100 mph. By operating a high-powered automobile with your instincts and reflexes heavily compromised, as Stallworth did, you are now playing with fire. Most of the time when you play with fire and you get burned, you end up paying the price.

Well, unless you're a star athlete, of course.

The term "accident" is so misleading in cases like this. An "accident" is when one car slides on an unavoidable patch of ice and winds up striking another vehicle.

But this was no "accident." Nobody forced Stallworth to drink hand over fist the night before. Nobody forced him to drive his Bentley home that night. He made all these choices, hoping to be lucky enough to make it through the ride safely. But to refer to it as an "accident" is to suggest that the event was out of Stallworth's control. That is not the case here.

As a professional athlete with all the means in the world to have his own personal driver, chauffeur, limo service, whatever...Stallworth still chose to get behind that wheel. I understand he was impaired, but the selfishness associated with such a decision cannot be overstated.

Are you telling me Stallworth did not know before that night's festivities that he would be drinking? Please. He could have made a million different arrangements before the night to ensure he got home safely, but this is a man that values no other life but his own. More than likely, he knew full well that he would wind up driving himself home completely drunk the next morning and that by doing so he would be putting others' lives in danger; but apparently that prospect did not make much of a dent in the wide receiver's train of thought.

The issue of "whether or not" Stallworth received preferential treatment is a laughable one. Is this even a question? Would any normal person do what he did, and wind up with a 24-day sentence?? (Stallworth will only serve 24 of the 30 days.)

used his fame and fortune to essentially buy himself out of prison time that he so rightfully deserved. He wound up agreeing to a lucrative settlement with the victim's family to prevent any type of lawsuit or further action. How generous of him. What would a normal citizen do to get himself out of such a jam without the same large finances that Stallworth possesses? That person would probably face a much stiffer punishment. So much for the legal system treating everyone the same.

The judge in the case also referenced Stallworth's blemish-free record before the crash. Exactly what does that have to do with anything?

I understand if maybe you are busted failing to put on a turn signal, and the cop pulls you over, but lets you off because you have a perfect record. It's a relatively pain-free mistake, and your history of exemplary driving lets the cop know this will probably not happen again. But when the crime you commit directly leads to the loss of another man's life, doesn't that stand on its own? What does any past event, or lack thereof, have to do with it?

Is the fact that Stallworth hasn't done this kind of thing before supposed to impress me? Oh, this is just the first guy he has killed...oh ok, my mistake. He's a model citizen.

Believe it or not, Mr. Stallworth is also receiving praise for his behavior immediately following the accident. When he struck Reyes in the middle of the road, he stopped his vehicle and remained on the scene. Yeah...and??? So let me get this straight. You can drive your Bentley recklessly around a busy downtown street, smash another guy to smithereens, and you are basically commended for not fleeing the scene? Why not give him a key to the city while you're at it? If you didn't know any better, you would think this whole trial and sentencing was actually a Saturday Night Live sketch. Only, the SNL stuff is never this unrealistic.

There will be stories in the next couple of weeks about how the NFL will look at the case to determine whether or not they want Stallworth coming back to the league. Even though he will be a free man, they can still opt to suspend him. It doesn't matter to me. He isn't a football player to me anymore. He's a murderer. A murderer that will have a full 24 days in jail to reflect on his mistake, and the man's life that he took away.

In all likelihood, Stallworth will appear on that ESPN ticker five to ten years down the road, getting arrested for another DUI, just like Leonard Little.

When you kill another person and get penalized as if you stole a carton of milk from the local Kroger, what's to stop you from doing it again?? Nothing.

Our justice system has spoken, and sadly, in this case, they have provided anything but.

Drop a comment below or float me an e-mail with your thoughts at

Monday, June 15, 2009

The "Ins" and "Outs" of the World Today...

In: Dontrelle Willis becoming a "Rick Ankiel"-type position player
Out: Dontrelle Willis refusing to acknowledge he now pitches at a Mustang-Bronco level

In: Grape flavored Gatorade
Out: Faygo Grape pop

In: Low volume just to get feeling for game
Out: Listening to Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy

In: You got sleeves...use 'em
Out: Napkins

In: New Tiger OF Don Kelly
Out: Didn't know there was such a thing as the "Poor Man's Frank Catalanotto"

In: Being right handed
Out: Those kids that needed "lefty" scissors back in elementary school

In: Circles
Out: Does anybody really know what an "oval" looks like??

In: Edwin Jackson's 98 MPH heat
Out: Jeremy Bonderman topping out in the high 80's (yikes)

In: Titanium-plated prosthetic limbs
Out: Bonderman's current right arm that is made of actual spaghetti

In: Dig in and take your cut
Out: Softball players that run up in the box to hit the ball

In: Originality
Out: Terminator: Salvation copying every Will Smith movie from the last 15 years

In: "An honest mistake"
Out: Opening the Cheez-It box from the bottom and getting ridiculed heavily for it

In: Rashard Lewis, East Finals
Out: Lewis morphing into Richard Dumas, NBA Finals

In: Parties with Baby Hot Dogs
Out: Parties with Chips & Dip

In: Seagulls in the outfield
Out: Teams getting rid of them with hostile scare tactics

In: The "Hustle"
Out: It's pretty much the only dance us white people are comfortable doing

In: Sleeping with the window open
Out: Birds will wake ya up with their morning tunes

In: Straight-up honey...just honey
Out: Honey mustard. It's enough already. Stop trying. We've seen your act. We just want honey.

In: Zito...Mulder...Hudson
Out: Pretty sad how they all fell off the Earth right around the same time

In: "Here, take my keys"
Out: My brother Sam, aka, "Guy that breaks into a cold sweat if someone else takes his wheels for a spin"

In: Tigers speedy outfielder Josh Anderson
Out: Let's just call him what he really is. The Caucasian Nook Logan

In: Underrated Beach Boys song, "Wendy"
Out: Overrated Beach Boys song, "Surfin, U.S.A."

In: Kinda missin' former Piston Chucky Atkins
Out: Actually admitting that in a public forum...

Got something to add? Feel free to share in the comments area below. Or shoot me an e-mail at

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Story of the "High Socks Legend"

Magic wore Converse. Joe D used to rock Asics. Michael...Nike. Guys like Slick Watts and Chris Gatling wrapped headbands around their bald domes. From as early an age as I can remember, though, I was pretty much concerned with one thing when it came to NBA'ers and their fashion sense: High Socks. Somehow, the cats wearing the socks up at altitude made everything look that much smoother.

When a 4-year old me decided to make the trek to nursery school wearin' the knee-highs, it wasn't just some arbitrary decision by a brainless, little tike. It was an homage to the great Adrian Dantley. Sure, I dug his classic post-up game and explosive repertoire on the offensive end, but mostly I just respected his socks.

I continued to strut into my classroom day after day with the confidence of a cat burglar, all because of my undeniably legendary fashion sense. I may have been a tiny lad still well under four feet, but there was no doubt...the High Socks Legend was born.

While just about anyone can wear their socks high, it is not recommended that everyone do so. It takes a certain sense of style and attitude to really pull it off. That's what made Adrian Dantley the perfect representative for High Socks Nation. He was a rangy 6'5, 208 pound small forward whose game defined 'smooth.' Dantley had that perfect type of body for the high socks look, too.

If you're a plodding 7-footer like Chris Dudley, you can't just decide one day to pull up the socks. It won't work. For the most part, big guys are eliminated from the discussion. When you see a guy with high socks, words like "quick" and "flashy" should come to mind. Meaning, if you're a lumbering fellow that operates in the paint, keep the socks at the ankle, or mid-shin, at the highest.

Most people forget the sad tale of Rik Smits. The "Dunking Dutchman" was a 7'4 monster that you could always count on for a solid outing in the middle for the Pacers. As a towering big man, he rightfully chose to wear his socks at normal length, so as not to awaken the temperamental NBA fashion gods.

Finally, in Smits' final season with Indiana, he made his first appearance in the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, Smits let the pressure of the moment get to him. He opted to shed his normal length white socks, for a much longer, stretched out black sock. It was wrong on so many levels.

First, Smits was breaking one of our most important rules: big guys don't wear high socks...ever.

Secondly, if you absolutely must do it, just stick to the classic white sock. The only time a black sock is meant to be pulled up high is if it's a dress sock, as those are usually tall and stretchy by nature.

For Smits to abandon the look that had gotten him so far, and to blatantly abuse so many of the longstanding sock traditions, the NBA Finals could only have one result. The Lakers came out guns a' blazing, the Pacers put up a little fight, and predictably in the end, it was Kobe and Shaq in 6. Smits became a non-factor and was eventually replaced during crunch time by Austin Croshere.

Would the Pacers have been able to shock the world and pull off the upset if Smits had just worn his socks the right way? We'll never know.

(Sidenote: to put the Smits' move in context, it would be akin to current Magic pivot Marcin Gortat raising his socks to knee-level and expecting his team to prevail despite the horror it would obviously cause. Unlike Smits, though, Gortat appears to know the fashion limitations set before him, and thus, he allows his squad a fighting chance to snatch this series from the heavily favored Lakers.)

Another element to becoming a High Socks Legend is having that underdog attitude. Normally, those wearing the high socks aren't MVP's or All-NBA performers. They stick to the traditional look and let their game do the talking. But for those of us that constantly have that little chip resting on our shoulder, the High Socks are a statement that says, "I may not be as strong as you...I might not be as talented as you...but you're in for the fight of your life tonight." No player exemplified this mindset more than Elliot "Socks" Perry.

Perry was a six-foot guard out of Memphis that weighed maybe 145 pounds soaking wet. He was quick, but he was no Tim Hardaway. He could shoot, but he was no Mark Price. He was left handed, but he was no Kenny Anderson. But Perry was determined to find a home in the NBA. He hooked up for a couple of 10-days, but was quickly exiled to the CBA. Perry kept the socks at the knees and pushed forward.

Eventually, he caught on with the Suns and started to carve out a nice little niche for himself. He'd hop off the bench bursting with energy, always amping up the crowd with his collection of tricky fallaways and deep bombs. Perry even managed to finish 2nd for the Most Improved Player award in 1994-95, losing to Dana Barros in one of the most hotly debated votes in league history. When the book finally closed on our boy, he had been able to spend close to a decade in the NBA while playing for approximately half the teams in the country.

"Socks" Perry was considered a longshot to be a contributor at the game's highest level, but the critics forgot the cardinal rule of scouting; you can evaluate a player's abilities all you want, but never discount the importance of the perfect High Sock's an invaluable asset.

While most of the High Socks Legends chose to wear the socks high for their entire career, there were also a rare few that only saw the light when their final years were approaching. The prime example of this was Nick Van Exel.

Nick the Quick was a cocky point guard in charge of leading the storied Lakers' franchise early in his career. He'd hit triples from five feet behind the arc. He'd high-step back down the court throwing an array of hooks and upper-cuts in one of the most original celebrations the league has ever seen.

But while Van Exel had some excellent years in LA, and probably played the best ball of his career, something was missing.

When Van Exel moved on to Denver, he experienced some injuries and failed to take the Nuggets to the next level.

On to Dallas, where Nick was now pushing past 30 years old and looking for a way to revitalize his career. Enter: High Socks. Van Exel made the wise choice to add some juice to his aging body and game, getting rid of the standard baby socks for some big boy knee-highs. The results were nothing short of fantastic.

In the 2003 playoffs, he simply went bananas. After tossing in around 12 points a game during the year, Nick wound up averaging close to 20 per in the postseason. He would fly in off the pine and just start abusing the opposing guards. The full arsenal was on display.

Three-pointers from the wing, clever post-ups, and the trademark Van Exel drive, where he would dribble into traffic, cradle the ball in his midsection like a running back breaking through the line, and then softly lay it in off glass over the outstretched arm of the oncoming shot blocker.

"Quick" would lead his Mavs all the way to the West finals before finally bowing out to the champion Spurs. He'd gotten that old-school feeling back, and it all came from the old-school high-socked look. The "Van Exel Sock Exchange" will go down as one of the Top 50 Most Impactful Transformations in sports history.

Even if you aren't as passionate about the High Socks craze as yours truly, I'm betting that you still have a soft spot deep down for these guys, and probably have a favorite Legend of your own. Maybe it's "The Wizard," Walt Williams, who wound up playing until he was like 65, canning treys until the very end. Or Kerry Kittles, the oft-injured paper-thin shooting guard for New Jersey that wouldn't be caught dead without the tall socks. Or maybe you're into Jason Terry, a guy that is so fanatical about his knee-highs that I'm not even surprised anymore when I hear the classic story of how he slid out of the womb during birth actually wearing a pair of big Champion socks. Regardless of which one you prefer, there is no disputing that all of these players are true High Socks Legends.

It takes courage, it takes commitment, and most of all, it takes heart. You can't just slip into the high socks on a whim. Your soul has to feel it. I felt it on that day walking into nursery school 21 years ago. I felt it during those times in middle school when the girls would try and push my socks down when I wasn't paying attention. They might have been scrunched low temporarily, but I always got 'em back up. And still today, you won't catch me out on the court dropping dimes and canning 3s without the signature High Socks look. Because you can fuss with my can untuck my can even untie my shoelaces. But leave the Socks where they's how I became a Legend.

Share your thoughts on High Socks Legends of the past, current, and future in the comments section...or shoot me an e-mail at

Monday, June 8, 2009

Yet Unnamed Monday Weekend Sports Re-Kap


-I'm not a huge Clete Thomas guy, but I do like his originality with the 'one batting glove' approach at the plate. Most everyone in the league opts for both hands to be gloved, and there are a rare few that go totally bare knuckles (Vlad Guerrero, Craig Counsell). But Thomas chooses for just the one, and Sunday afternoon it paid off with a tie-breaking grand slam in the bottom of the 8th to clinch a much needed series win over the Angels. Clete went the other way with the pitch, as he often does when he drives the ball. The guy aint a #3 hitter, and he probably isn't a leadoff guy either, but on this team that lacks a ton of pop right now, his ability to occasionally spray the ball around the yard for extra bases is something the Tigers desperately need.

-Edwin Jackson reminds me of Jim Bibby. Now I wasn't alive when Bibby (Mike's uncle) was pitching in the 70's, but I do recall reading about him in a book a few summers back. The book focused on the horrendous Texas Rangers teams in the mid 70's, of which Bibby was one of the only respectable hurlers. The author described Bibby's pitching tendencies on certain nights when he realized his fastball was unhittable. He would simply strut to the mound each inning with his intimidating 6'5 frame and let loose with the letter-high gas. The hitters knew it was coming and they still had no chance. Edwin Jackson's complete game dandy on Saturday night was Bibby-esque. Into the 9th inning, Jackson was still firing seeds to the dish upwards of 99 MPH. The Angels batters were well aware that the heater was on the way, and they were just as aware that they weren't going to touch it. One of the season's special moments thus far...


Suddenly, the late night talk show slot on NBC has transformed into the "Straight Face Hour." As in, when you watch an actual episode of the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Show, there is a good chance your facial expression will not change for the entirety of the 60-minute program. Not a grin, not a smirk, definitely no genuine smiles. Yeah, it's that bad. Somehow, the higher-ups at NBC failed to realize one simple truth when searching for Conan O' Brien's replacement: the host should be funny. Unfortunately, that's never really been Fallon's strong suit. It was one thing when we were watching Magic Johnson ham it up in the mid 90's and fall flat on his face night after night. Of course, it was a miserable program and he was so uncomfortable as a host that it really defies any type of written description, but he had a legitimate excuse; he was a point guard masquerading as a talk show host. He was not a comedian, and thus you found yourself cutting the guy a little slack for his horrid performance. Fallon has no such reason for his struggles. The man was on Saturday Night Live for a number of years. You'd think that would translate to a sharp sense of humor and an ability to make others laugh. You'd be wrong.

To be fair, it is still relatively early in Mr. Fallon's late-night career. It might take time for a host to refine his delivery and create a style all his own. Unfortunately, Fallon has too steep a hill to climb. He seems to be trying new ways to better himself, but the ideas are so amateurish and poorly thought out that you wind up feeling sympathy for the man. A few weeks back, he decided he would burst onto the stage for the opening of the show with a whoosh of energy. He sprinted onto the set, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Not a bad idea, Jimmy. But as usual, it did not turn out well for our boy. He liked the unusually raucous applause so much that he proceeded to continue running in place, shadow boxing, and mock jumping rope for the next few minutes. This led to an exhausted Fallon panting and wheezing through his monologue, often having to pause mid-joke just to get some of his wind back. It's not every day that you see a talk-show host completely run out of gas in the show's first few minutes by attempting to impersonate Billy Blanks. But when Jimmy Fallon is involved, really nothing is impossible (not necessarily a good thing).

It only gets more and more uncomfortable as the night goes on. Fallon will routinely follow up a bombed joke by awkwardly staring at the camera for a few seconds, wondering what to do next. He'll then proceed to mime 'throwing a bowling ball down the lane,' and a few seconds later, someone backstage will play a sound effect of glass shattering. I'm never sure why this is supposed to be funny, but there's Jimmy laughing his head off at his own "brilliant" display of improvisational comedy. And yes, I know that Letterman will occasionally do something similar by throwing a pencil or a paper airplane or something, but Fallon is different. He'll do that bowling gag like seven or eight times in a row...the exact same thing. Trust me, you'll get at least 20-30% dumber watching this show. And that's only in the first 15 minutes.

Normally a weak late-night host would not be such a source of consternation here at the High Socks Legend, but when you are trying to uphold the glorious traditions and legacies laid down by past greats such as Craig Kilborn, there's a certain standard you must uphold. And Jimmy Fallon is not getting it done. We tolerated him on Saturday Night Live. We started giving him respect after his above average performance in Fever Pitch. But it all got taken away in the last few months. Fallon has resorted to desperate tactics of late. When another one of his jokes is met with silence from the live audience, he reacts the way a hack comedian does at your local weekly Open Mic Night. Fallon will feebly lash out at the crowd, shouting in a half funny-half scolding voice, "You can't's a free show. Who boos at a free show?!?" It's time Fallon takes the silence and the boos as his cue to exit stage right and pull the plug on himself, ending this train wreck. The sooner, the better...for all of us.


Sometimes a matchup can look like a giant mismatch on paper. One side is experienced, the other is raw. One has been through numerous wars, the other is just getting its feet wet. Such was the case Saturday night when former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski took on the undefeated, yet unproven Brett Rogers. Rogers was the bigger man coming in by about 20 pounds, but his sketchy list of previous opponents and unsightly mohawk made it seem like he was not quite ready for primetime. Even his nickname, "The Grim," left a lot to be desired, mainly the word "Reaper" at the end of it. My brother Gabe, the resident High Socks Legend boxing and MMA aficionado, pegged the veteran Arlovski for the easy win. However, in the lead-up to the fight, the announcers brought to light a crucial point that would trump any type of strategic analysis being discussed. The youthful Rogers had convinced himself heading into the bout that the only way he would be able to afford a new home for his family would be to shock the world and take down Arlovski. Talk about motivation. When you're dealing with a personal determination on that level, the odds are thrown out the window.

Take the Hambone Busby-Honey Roy Palmer fight in the boxing film classic, Diggstown. Honey Roy was the big-time favorite in the clash, but that was before Bruce Dern went to work. Dern apprehended Busby's younger brother and threatened to hang the kid unless Ham went out and defeated the much more polished Palmer. Ham proceeded to fight with such reckless abandon and unbridled passion that you couldn't help but root against Lou Gossett Jr., even though he was the movie's main character and hero. It was an epic bout, but ultimately, the rugged Hambone got knocked out. He sprinted back to the dressing room, but it was too late. It's approximately 17 years since the movie came out, but I still vividly remember sitting in the Water Tower Theater in Chicago watching that scene in sheer horror. One of the toughest cinematic moments in history.

Back to Saturday night, Brett Rogers was set to battle Arlovski with his family's shelter on the line. Even before it got underway, you could see the intensity practically oozing out of Rogers' pores. Arlovski wanted to win...Rogers had to win. The bell rang, they circled for about 15 seconds, and then Rogers uncoiled like a King Cobra out for blood. He unleashed a rapid three punch combination, each landing flush on Arlovski's jaw, and the Belarusian crumpled to the mat like a man that just had his leg muscles replaced by grape jelly. The referee jumped on the scene immediately to stop the action, and in all of 22 seconds, Rogers had went from relative unknown to household name in the fight game. You can break down all the tape you want. You can look at the resumes of each guy until you're blue in the face. But sometimes, it just comes down to sheer will and the knowledge that you are fighting for something bigger than just a W on the ledger. Hambone Busby almost did the impossible on that memorable evening in Diggstown years ago. Saturday night, Brett Rogers finished the job with a flair, and for that, he gets to show his family a new home. One he most definitely earned.


The Hangover dropped in theaters this past Friday, and while I haven't actually seen the movie, it feels like I've already seen it two or three dozen times. That's what happens when a movie preview gets played over and over and over to the point where you know all the jokes and punchlines without having stepped foot in your local AMC 20. I'm not saying it's a bad flick, I'm not saying I might not see it sometime down the road, but I think I've just had enough for a while. If you watched any amount of NBA or NHL playoffs over the last few weeks, you know what I'm talking about. I haven't been this familiar with a movie before seeing it since War of the Worlds threw their trailers on NBA coverage non-stop for like 36 months prior to its actual release. I felt like I knew Dakota Fanning personally by the end of that campaign (Or maybe I just wanted to...only kidding...umm). I'm almost sure that Worlds never even came out in theaters. The trailer wound up getting played on loop so many thousands of times before Opening Day that the studio just scrapped the release and moved right on to work for The Hangover over-commercialization project. Give us a few 30-second previews, mix in a couple solid jokes, and let us make up our mind. We're more than capable of doing so. As Adam Sandler once said in the classic sketch Right Field, "You get it over the plate! We'll take care of the rest!"


-According to Larry Brown, this Stanley Cup Final has not even started yet. Brown always recited the longstanding credo that a playoff series does not start until a team loses on its home court (or ice, in this case). Through five contests, each game has been won by the home squad. And while it's been an exhilarating series with tremendous performances from both sides, I can't help but wonder how much better it would be if the NHL were to finally adopt one of my most passionate rule change suggestions. I understand that the game is played on ice, and because of this, the players have to wear ice skates to get around. I get this. But do all of the players have to be wearing the skates?? My slight alteration to the game would be to force each team to play one player at all times in his shoes. We all used to play hockey on our driveways growing up in our shoes. Let's get back to our roots. The shoes in question can be hi-tops, cross trainers, tap shoes, whatever. One guy, no ice skates. Shoes. Imagine the possibilities. That guy would be the ultimate wild card. He'd be vulnerable to a monster body check at all times with his struggle to stay balanced, but he might also be able to use the unique footwear to his advantage. You'd never see "Shoe Guy" tumble to the ice in a heap because he "lost an edge." Shoe Guys don't lose edges, because Doc Martens don't have edges. I'll admit it's a little out of the box, and it might take a little getting used to, but I really think this is where the game's heading in the next few years if it is truly devoted to pleasing its fans, specifically myself. Remember one thing as you let this revolutionary idea sink in. At its heart, a skate is just a big shoe...and a donut with no hole is a danish. Let's bring back the just makes too much sense not to.

As always, feel free to share your own thoughts on today's article and the weekend in sports. Or drop me an e-mail at

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The HSL Previews the NBA Finals

Things to look for in the Magic-Lakers NBA Finals, starting tonight...

-Has there been a more enjoyable player to watch during the last two months than Mickael Pietrus? After several seasons rotting away on Don Nelson's bench in Golden State, the former lottery pick has finally found his place in the league. He has starred for the Magic off the bench, and was arguably their most valuable player in their series win over Cleveland. On offense, he was white-hot throughout the six games, where he also managed to unseat Bruce Bowen for the title of the 'NBA's best corner three-point shooter.' The combination of athleticism and shooting touch Pietrus has shown in recent weeks makes you understand why the Warriors risked the 11th pick on him in 2003, despite his sketchy overseas credentials. On defense, he was LeBron James' worst nightmare. It is the rarest of sights to see an individual player actually defending James one-on-one with any level of success, but Pietrus managed to do so. While you can never stop LeBron entirely, Pietrus was able to make him work for every single one of his points and forced him into a number of the eight turnovers he committed in the all-important Game 4 Magic overtime victory. The reason so many teams (Pistons chief among them) have been so helpless in defending James has much to do with the way they defend the pick-and-roll. Far too often, the man defending James will simply accept the screen and take that as their cue to find something else to do. Maybe they'll fight over the pick once in a blue moon, but that's the exception, not the rule.

This is not the case with Pietrus. He turned each pick-and-roll into a personal challenge, somehow managing to fight through the screen without fouling and stay in front of LeBron in the process. Evidence of Pietrus' quickness was on full display at the end of regulation in the aforementioned Game 4. LeBron made his mind up he would simply speed by his defender and attack the rim. But to King James' surprise, Pietrus was with him step-for-step. Nowhere to go. Sadly, the referees would get involved and whistle Pietrus for a horrid "tripping" foul to give the King his two free throws. But any neutral observer that saw the play knew what really happened. LeBron and Pietrus went toe-to-toe...and Pietrus won. It might sound like a stretch, but there were times in that series that I thought Pietrus was defending James as well as anyone I'd ever seen.

After disposing of one MVP, it is now on to the next. Pietrus will be counted on much of the time to hound Kobe Bryant into the same tough shots and bad turnovers he forced LeBron into during the conference finals. It's as difficult a task as there is in the NBA: defending the best players the league has to offer night after night. But if there's anybody that can do it right now, it is Pietrus. He has the agility and foot speed to handle their penetration, and as far as strength goes, without sounding weird, the man is definitely well put together. Like a finely tuned Pit Bull, Pietrus looks as if he has just one long muscle connecting throughout his whole body.

Michael Pietrus may have been an unknown scrub for years out in Oakland, but that is the case no longer. The 6'6 swingman from France is turning himself into a household name. Even if it's one you can't pronounce.

-The biggest reason the Magic might be able to pull the upset in their third straight series and take home the title...the three-point line. The Magic excel from deep and employ a multitude of shooters that can knock it down with consistency. Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu are both 6'10 forwards with unlimited range, making them an almost impossible cover for whoever gets the unenviable task of shutting them down. Rafer Alston has always had a smooth stroke and his 6-12 night from downtown in the crucial Game 4 victory over Cleveland might have been the single most important performance of the whole series. And then you have to deal with maybe the hottest shooter on the planet in Mickael Pietrus. If Jameer Nelson and his 45% clip from the long line can also join the fray and make a contribution, the Lakers could be in real trouble. Especially when you look at the deep shooters (or lack thereof) on Phil Jackon's squad.

Kobe Bryant can find his way into a 3-point zone every once in a while (tied for the record with 12 3's in a game, with Donyell Marshall), but he's been much more inclined in these playoffs to drive to the hole and create contact than rely on his skittish long-range game. It's no coincidence that the one easy win the Nuggets had in their six-game loss to the Lakers was the time when Kobe decided to let loose with an uncharacteristic 10 attempts from distance, making just two. The rest of the Lake Show is a real mixed bag of gunners. Trevor Ariza has knocked down his fair share of clutch bombs in this postseason, but nobody's confusing him with Glen Rice from the 2000 championship team. Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic used to be reliable 3-point shooters. But then two things happened. First, Vujacic started devoting ninety percent of his pre-game ritual to hair and makeup, losing his deadly marksmanship in the process. And second, Fisher started shooting with the same confidence Chuck Knoblauch had late in his Yankees' career when he began hurling routine throws from second base into the upper deck. It really has gotten that bad for Fisher. You used to dread leaving him open to double Kobe for fear of getting burned by his once lethal outside game. Now you can basically leave him unguarded, as evidenced by his woeful performance in the second round dogfight with Houston when Fisher managed to drain just 1 of 15 triples in the series. Thus, nobody was that surprised when Fisher was suspended for Game 3 and the Lakers played perhaps their most crisp game of the series. Believe it or not, the two guys that have consistently cashed in from trey-land have been Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown. Odom has finally realized that 'Less is More,' attempting fewer threes than usual, but knocking them down at a semi-shocking 52% mark. Brown has become the Lakers best option at the point, due in no small part to his ability to make teams pay for doubling off on Kobe and Gasol.

Many an upset in college and pro basketball history have been achieved because of the 3-point line. This series is no different. Lewis, Turkoglu, and Co. will need to be deadly from deep to steal this thing from the heavily favored Lakers. If not, it could get ugly in a hurry...

-Lemon Lime Gatorade. It's always been there for you. New flavors arrive and old flavors fade, but Lemon-Lime stands the test of time. Lemon-Lime aint flashy, it doesn't leap out and dance on your taste buds, but you plow through, finish your 20 fluid ounces, and feel like you did something right for a change. In a word, it's consistent. A buddy might let you down, maybe a co-worker sets you off, but I can't recall a time in my life when Lemon-Lime 'Rade has been anything but a loyal soldier and a true friend. So who's the Lemon-Lime Gatorade of the 2009 NBA Finals? What player on these two teams just oozes of that consistency that LLG has prided itself on for the last 200 years? Dwight Howard is a man-child and could easily go off for a 38 point, 23 rebound performance, but I can't in good conscience call him a true Lemon-Limer when he's luggin' around a sub-60 percentage from the free-throw line. How about Andrew Bynum? I'm afraid not. If this were a comparison for say, Fruit Punch Gatorade, he'd be our man; good every once in a while, forgettable the rest of the time. But we're talking Lemon-Lime here...the Cadillac of 'Rade. One good effort out of six won't fly. That's why I think the ultimate selection is Pau Gasol. You can count on the floppy-haired Spaniard for close to 40 minutes a night and a 20-12 performance to go with it. He was excellent in the Nuggets series, and his public outcry for more touches was the rare selfish ploy that actually made sense strategically. Gasol has proven to be a blue-collar performer that does not take a night off and looks to be as determined as anyone on either team to be the last man standing. Whether he winds up with the championship hardware is yet to be determined, but Gasol can sleep well knowing deep down that being selected to represent Lemon-Lime Gatorade in the upcoming Finals is an honor that could never be matched.

-So who do I like? I would like for the Magic to go out and shock the world. For Rashard Lewis to continue his heroics. For Rafer Alston to keep flashing that smile. For Dwight Howard to dominate the paint. For Pietrus to contain Kobe. For Stan Van Gundy to stop perspiring. But I don't see it happening. The Lakers found themselves on the doorstep last season, only to see their hated rival, the Celtics, walk away with the glory. That's how it works most of the time in the NBA. You inch your way closer and closer to the finish line, get knocked off course along the way, and then finally, when you're ready, you make the leap. Some of these Lakers (Fisher, Bryant) have tasted championship champagne before, but guys like Gasol and Odom are still thirsting for their first glass. The Magic's storybook playoff run, while exhilarating and unexpected, is still this group's maiden voyage into such territory. Their time may come eventually, but not just yet. Kobe gets his first post-Shaq title and the Lakers take it in six. With a little help from Lemon-Lime 'Rade along the way...

Got a prediction on anything related to the NBA Finals? Did you like Marcin Gortat better when he was called 'Matt Geiger'? Share those thoughts here, or drop me a line at

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spoutin' the Truth on the Important Issues of Today

Never Understood the Appeal

The beverages you were offered growing up as a young lad ranged from a glass of milk to a cold bottle of IBC Root Beer. Most of the options were satisfying, but there was always one that I could never quite figure out. It masked itself as a juice, but it tasted of carbonation. It marketed itself as a savior for the growing boy, but it felt like something a grown-up should be downing at a black tie affair. You expected a smooth finish, and got nothing of the sort. If it's not obvious enough already, yeah, I'm talking about Sunny Delight.

For some reason, you were never allowed to call this drink by its full name. It was always just "Sunny D." You were risking public humiliation and possible jail time if you spoke the title out in full. But the cool nickname seemed to be where all the fun came to an end. You and your friends would barge into the house after a spirited game of 3-on-3 on the driveway. Everyone was sweating, mouths were thirsty, and the "it" thing to do was to offer up Sunny D to your posse. But we weren't in a television commercial! We didn't have to act this way! We had a choice, and sadly, often it was the wrong one.

But what drove us to gulp down this imitation Tropicana? It definitely was not the taste. Ask anyone if they enjoyed drinking Sunny D growing up. Their response might be something like, "Sure, it was fun," or "It was usually a good time." But they never hit you with "Oh man, it was delicious! Loved drinking it!" Simply put, it was no good. They managed to turn the always reliable Orange Juice into some kind of bubbly, hyperactive concoction that could best be described as "wrong." Just wrong. It looked like OJ, it felt like OJ, but it most definitely did not taste like OJ. There were only a handful of times in my life that I actually had Sunny Delight. But those few harrowing memories remain clear as day in my mind, and sometimes I wonder if I'll ever truly shake that over-carbonated feeling.

An Underrated Event

Earthquakes get their fair share of attention. Hurricanes are always in the news. Tsunamis even got hot for a few years. But where's the love for the underrated "cyclone" in the natural disaster world? I've always thought it was sort of a poor man's tornado, but that doesn't mean it deserves to go completely ignored. Remember when you'd be playing Little League and the pitcher would have to step off the rubber because dirt was swirling all around in everyone's eyes? Your teammates on the field would scream out that it was a "sandstorm." Incorrect. That was a cyclone...we just never knew it.

As for the tornado, it really became a fan favorite after Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt gave us Twister in the late 90's. Everyone and their brother were out searching for the next tornado, eager to jump in for a short ride and see what all the hype was about. Count me among those that were highly interested, but never had the good fortune of actually spending time inside of a real twister. I always thought it would be similar to the Tilt-a-Whirl ride at the fair, only with more speed and no wimpy safety harness strapped to your chest. Honestly, have you ever talked to someone that was in a tornado and had anything but great things to say about the experience? I sure haven't. It just seems like a bag full of surprises.

What else would be in the tornado with you? I picture maybe finding some great antiques or a cozy set of lawn furniture. Everything would probably be flying around and rotating at dizzying speeds, but if you were quick enough on your feet, you could probably walk out of that bad boy with some nice parting gifts. And where would ya be dropped off? Obviously, Big Twist has no rhyme or reason where it's gonna set you down, so it could really be anywhere. Imagine jumping into the fray somewhere around Livonia, and a couple hours later, you're a block away from Wrigley Field. What could be better? The unpredictability of the adventure is what makes the whole thing so enticing. And I can't wait to find out for myself one day...

The Definition of Overrated

Is there a ballpark food more past its prime than the "soft pretzel?" Soft Pretzel always tries to lure you in with its unique shape and promise for a delicious mid-inning snack. But it's just false hope wrapped in a mirage of salt crystals. You plunk down your $3.50 expecting something special. You think it's going to be warm, but not too hot. You think it's going to be soft, but not mushy. You expect a pleasant relationship with this staple of the sporting event snack bar, but that's just a wish you know aint' comin true.

The temperature is always misleading. When they hand it to you, Soft Pretzel always hides his deficiencies by making sure he is wrapped in some kind of little paper cover. That way, when you first grip the little guy, you think, "Well, this must be right out of the oven! Why else would they be giving it to me with a cover around it?!?" But when you finally decide it's time to remove the paper and let pretzel meet flesh, it's Disappointment City. It's lukewarm, bordering on cool. It can only be effective if served warm, and frankly Soft Pretzel, you should know better. The "soft" part of the equation is usually not entirely accurate, either. You assume it would be soft enough to calmly rip apart with your bare hands, the bread easily tearing off and bringing a smile to your face. Instead, the thing is generally rock-hard, making you wonder just how long this particular soft pretzel has been waiting to be purchased.

And what is it with the excessive baby salt particles all over Big Pretz?? You'd think maybe a dash of salt in a couple places would do the trick. But instead Soft Pretzel goes Oppo-Zoppo on you, and douses itself in salt so nary an inch of its body goes uncovered. You ever heard the saying, "A little bit goes a long way." Apparently Soft Pretzel never got that memo. Whereas I should be casually enjoying this delight, I'm now forced to spend the majority of my time brushing off Salt Lake City and wondering why I just didn't play it safe and go with Dippin' Dots.

You ever been to a party with a bunch of snacks at a side table? You'll see some potato chips, maybe a bowl of M & M's, and usually, a big helping of pretzels. Of course, these pretzels are small enough to grab 3 or 4 at a time, the way the good Lord intended. Where did we lose track of this and think it was okay to build a pretzel 12 times the size? Can you imagine going to a baseball game, strolling up to the snack counter, and ordering one giant Ruffle? No, you cannot. Because a Ruffle is a sacred institution that is meant to be consumed in one bite. I thought our little twisted friends were the same way, until the ever-arrogant Soft Pretzel arrived unannounced to the party and promptly turned our snack world upside-down. So do us all a favor, Twist, and take your show elsewhere. We've seen what you're sellin'...and we aint buyin'.

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts or drop me a line at