Monday, July 31, 2006

Monday Musings

No intro. No fluff. Let’s get the week off to a start with a bang:


  • The Braves are done. It’s July 31 and after nearly sixteen years, I am throwing in the towel. I’m done. It’s been a fun ride.

  • The Yankees got Bobby Abreu and Corey Lidle for less than a bag of balls and a box of H&H Bagels. I think I’m in more pain than Clooney when he lost his fingernails in “Syriana”.

  • So, Brian Finneran may be out for the season. Good thing the Falcons are so deep at receiver! Jesus, what’s next? Is somebody going to tell me that Floyd Landis was doping? AHHHHHHHHHH!

  • I went bowling Saturday night and in three games I failed to post a higher score than I did on the golf course earlier in the same day. The good news? I had a great Saturday with a little golf, a movie, and some bowling. The bad news? I suck at golf and bowling!

  • Well, amidst all the bad news from the weekend, there was at least one bright spot: “Miami Vice” was solid. Sure, some of the dialogue was cheesy, some of the acting was tough to believe, and some of the plot was disjointed, but at the end of the day it was two and a half hours of gratuitous sex and violence. How can you not like that?

So, as you can see, it wasn’t a very eventful weekend in the world of sports or The WAD, but fear not: I get the feeling that The WAD is about to become a very active place now that football season is squarely in the headlights. With the talk of fantasy football, the anticipation of parlays and teasers, and the release of “Snakes on a Plane”, September should be here before we know it. In the interim, however, if you have ideas for columns, or if you have something to get off your chest and would like to stand in as a guest writer someday, please let me know. At the end of the day, I write in the hopes of providing you with a little entertainment, so if you let me know what you want to see, it can only make The WAD a better place.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Caption Contest


I must admit that I'm afraid of where this one might go. In case you hadn't heard, this is a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin inexplicably kissing a little boy on the stomach outside the Kremlin. At least that's what the original caption said. I'm sure your captions will tell the real story.

I can feel it coming in the air...

First and foremost, you’ve called my bluff. Despite my threats to pull the Caption Contest, I’m giving it one more go this week. But, before we get there, I want to talk about something very important. Something so big that I’ve been anxiously waiting for it since I first heard rumors of it nearly two years ago. Something that has literally been 17 years in the making. Something so exciting that it’s going to be impossible for me to concentrate for the next two days at work. Something so important that I’ve spent close to 15 hours over the last three days reading every article on the internet I possibly can to prepare. What is this something I’m talking about? Two words: Miami Vice!

That’s right folks. This Friday night, after a seventeen year absence, Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs will explode back into our lives. This time, however, it will be uncensored, uncontrollable, and on the big screen. Seriously, I haven’t been this excited about a movie since Ryan Reynolds and Dane Cook teamed up in “Waiting.” Well, we all know that “Waiting” was atrocious, so what are the odds that I swing and miss twice in a row? Okay, that’s not a fair question.

Anyway, I know that most of you are probably asking yourself why in the world I’m so excited about the resurrection of two characters that lost their fastball about the same time as Doc Gooden? Well, the answer is easy. “Vice” was the one show when I was growing up that my Dad just couldn’t miss, and I remember sitting with him every week watching Crockett and Tubbs infiltrate the underworld of coke dealers with the sounds of Glen Frey and Phil Collins in the background. And yes, I understand that it probably wasn’t exactly “normal” for a father to let his 8 year old kid watch “Vice”, much less make him watch it. Actually, this probably explains a lot about the man I’ve turned out to be, and probably says all you need to know about my relationship with my Pops.

Even more than my personal nostalgia for “Vice”, the fact is that it was a trailblazer for every show since the 80’s that has featured sex, violence, or any combination thereof. Do you really think Dennis Franz would have been able to show his ass every week on NYPD Blue if it hadn’t been for “Vice”? Would Jack Bauer be able to kill dozens of people in one episode if Crockett and Tubbs hadn’t done it first? Would FX even be able to have a prime time lineup if it weren’t for “Vice”? I don’t think so! “Vice” was transcendent because it was the first prime time television show that blurred the lines between right and wrong by making you sympathize with, and sometimes even envy, the bad guys. From the first show where Jimmy Smits got blown away by a car bomb, and Sonny had a one night stand with Trudy, and no less than 10 guys fell victim to automatic gun fire, “Vice” went places no other show had ever gone. It’s easy to forget now, but “Vice” wasn’t just a television show, for better or worse, it had an enormous impact on pop culture like few, if any, other shows ever have. You would be hard pressed to find a man between the ages of 28 and 50 that didn’t own a white linen suit and a pastel tie at some point in the 80’s. Hell, there is a picture of me in some old photo album from Easter ‘86 where I’m sporting a white linen suit, a pink shirt, a yellow tie, and a hair full of gel. True story! Am I proud of it? Of course I am.

I could keep rambling on about all the reasons I loved “Vice” in the 80’s and why I’m absolutely jacked up about “Vice” the movie, but I figure the best thing to do is fall back on an old gimmick. That’s right, after a long absence, we’ve got ourselves a brand new Top 7 list:

Top 7 Reasons Why You Should Get Off Your Ass and Go See “Miami Vice” Friday Night:

7) Trans Ams and Cessnas have been replaced with Ferrari’s and G5’s. Newer and faster toys undoubtedly equal bigger explosions. This can’t be bad.

6) Collin Farrell didn’t go to rehab until after filming closed, so there should be no less than 6 scenes where he is visibly drunk or nursing a hangover. In other words, the Irish accent is sure to slip out. Sonny Crockett negotiating with Columbians in an Irish accent = top notch unintentional comedy.

5) In the old days, the traffickers were all Columbians, but in the movie version, Crockett and Tubbs have to deal with Columbians, the Aryan Brotherhood, and a network of traffickers from all around the globe. All this in two hours? Just can’t miss.

4) In the television version, the line between the right and wrong side of the law got blurred at times, but never with Crockett and Tubbs. The trailer for the movie, however, asks, “When you live on both sides of the law…how far is too far?” Yes sir, looks like we’ve got ourselves a moral dilemma on our hands. Always makes for a nice plot twist.

3) Gong Li. I’ll let you do a little internet surfing and figure this one out for yourself.

2) There is a better than average chance that Jamie Foxx has managed to record a song for the movie that will be the background music at a pivotal moment. If I have to explain this one to you, you clearly don’t understand the importance of unintentional comedy.

1) No matter what, no matter whether the story line sucks, or if Jamie Foxx overacts every scene, or if Collin Ferrell absolutely mails it in, the movie is going to be fun. There are going to be plenty of car chases, boat chases, plane chases, plenty of unintentional comedy, gratuitous violence, and maybe even some gratuitous nudity. How can that not be fun?


If I haven’t sold you yet, just take a look back at one of the greatest scenes from the original “Vice” (and one of the top 20 scenes in television history):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tnyp9tRXRo&search=miami%20vice%20phil%20collins

Then, take a look at the trailer for the new “Vice”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJiJm0gtL_E&mode=related&search=miami%20vice%20phil%20collins

If that doesn’t do the trick, I just don’t know what else I can do.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

WAD Bowl I

I’ll be real honest with you, it’s not always easy coming up with things to write about, and it’s even harder when the only game in town is baseball and the Braves lose. So, on a day like today, after the Braves dropped a heartbreaker to the worst franchise to ever win a World Series (much less two), it takes all the imagination I can muster to come up with a topic. Believe it or not, I was actually prepared to give you 2,000 words about the newest show to achieve “must record” status on my DVR, “The Hills.” I mean, I was actually prepared to give you all the reasons why I find Heidi loathsome, Audrina sexy in a very dirty way, Whitney very endearing and sincere, and Lauren (L.C. from “Laguna Beach”) a solid candidate to be the future Mrs. WAD. Seriously, despite the fact that I make Hans reduce the size of the picture during “The Hills” so Lauren doesn’t look too chunky, I think she’s an absolute babe. Not only is she beautiful, but she manages to come across as sane in the midst of all the insanity and lack of reality around her. I’m convinced she’s the total package! And yes, I know that I’m about two seconds away from being forced to surrender my man card.

Well, lucky for you, Stats has come to the rescue, and you don’t have to endure one more word about “The Hills”…for now! At any rate, I’m pleased to announce that Stats has taken the initiative and set up the First Annual WAD Fantasy Football League a/k/a WAD Bowl I. I, for one, am incredibly excited about this league. With the cast of characters here on the WAD, if nothing else, we should have the greatest trash talking league of all time. But, I know I don’t have to sell you, so I will just give you the details:

1) We will be using ESPN.com as our fantasy host. Just like Yahoo and unlike Las Vegas, ESPN offers a free fantasy service, and it is widely recognized as a better host than Yahoo.

2) Stats will be the commissioner, but Shalloway, of course, will handle all the money. Okay, that’s not true. I will handle the money, but it was just too easy a joke.

3) There is no password for the league; instead, it is by invitation only. Therefore, you will need to send an email to wadbowl@yahoo.com if you are interested, and Stats will send you an invitation to join the league. It’s very easy. In so doing, however, you are giving Stats full access to your email, which will certainly lead to an endless string of emails discussing parlays, teasers, pocket aces, and video poker. Well, maybe not video poker...yet!

4) The online draft is set for September 4 at 9 P.M. ET (this is the Monday Night before the first regular season game)

5) Co-owners are allowed. In fact, if you look in the mirror and you see a man with little to know attention span looking back at you, please find a buddy to help you run your team. I can’t emphasize this enough.

6) We have room for 20 teams (8 are already taken, so act fast), and we will divide the league into divisions if we have enough teams. If the demand exceeds 20 teams, we will figure something out. By “we”, I mean Stats.

7) Once all the owners are established, we will discuss a small entry fee (probably something like $20), and the payouts will be established before the first game, with a portion to go to the American Cancer Society.

8) Female owners are not only welcomed, but encouraged. And yes, I know for a fact that some ladies do read the WAD, and its time to break your silence and make your presence felt. Not to mention, you might actually have something to talk to you boyfriend/husband about during football season. And, if your boyfriend/husband isn’t into fantasy football, you are probably with the wrong man!

9) Feel free to post any questions about the league here on The WAD, and someone will undoubtedly address them promptly. If, however, your question is dumb, or addressed at any point in this post…well…just make sure you read this post carefully before posting a question.

10) Each week, we will be starting 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 RB/WR, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 Def/ST, and 1 K. You can carry 8 additional players on your bench. So, have no fear UGA boys, there will be plenty of room on your roster for David Greene.

11) The first person to draft Marshall Faulk will be banned from the league on the spot, and your entry fee will not be returned.

12) It will be my sole mission in life to destroy any team that drafts Ben Roethlisberger.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Television Tuesday

You know, I’ve been hearing a lot of complaining about “Entourage” recently, and I myself have been guilty of a lot of second guessing. What seems to be lost in all the complaining, however, is that this show still undoubtedly contains the smartest and most entertaining dialogue on television. Week after week, some of the exchanges between these characters are down right genius. The genius is two fold. First, some of the dialogue between the boys is so authentic that you find yourself laughing because, at some point in the past (sometimes the recent past), you and your boys have had the exact same conversation. For instance, this week when Drama said, “you’re a sensitive man E…it’s kinda queer”, or when Turtle said, “let me get this straight, you wake up snuggling a girl you didn’t even get to f**k?” were classic lines that you KNOW you have uttered or had uttered at you in some point. Second, most of the dialogue that you haven’t actually engaged in consists of lines that you wished you had said! Even more than the genius of the dialogue, this is actually the genius of Ari. No less than three times an episode, Ari spouts off something that leaves you saying, “damn I wish I had thought of that when [fill in random occasion].” For proof, look no further than his opening line with Terrance this week, or his exchange with the ladies at the lunch table, or his taunting of Adam Davies in the street. Pure genius that you just pray you have the chance to actually replicate some day.

I guess the point of all the above rambling is simply to say that “Entourage” seems to be falling victim to its own success. We’ve come to look forward so much to each episode that our expectations are just too big. The simple fact is that you can only cover so much ground in thirty minutes. Therefore, we have to keep things in perspective. Sure, there are holes and problems. Sure, there are storylines that get too much play and others that don’t get enough. At the end of the day, however, the good far outweighs the bad. If nothing else, you get thirty minutes a week where you can sit back, have a few laughs, re-live some of the great comedic conversations of your life, and witness some of the conversations you only wished you’d had. All in all, that’s not so bad, is it?

Enough of the spirited defense, here’s the five pressing questions of the week:

1) What landmine is Ari going to have to dodge to collect that $11 million from Terrance? You know it’s not going to be this easy. You just know it. The lawyer in me says Ari’s all good, and its too late for Terrance to back out, but something tells me they don’t have any lawyers on the writing staff! And, you know, that’s definitely not a bad thing.

2) Who had the better cameo? Julie Cooper or Andy from “Dawson’s Creek”? I’ve got to say that Andy had a much more compelling performance. I mean, she did show some remarkable skills in the coat room!

3) Who does E think he is? Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of every man getting everything he can out of life, but shouldn’t this guy just be happy with what he’s got? Is it just me or does E strike you as the kind of guy who would split 10’s at the Blackjack table? Somebody needs to knock some sense into him for his own good.

4) Does anybody play an annoying twit better than Seth Green? Actually, when he shared the screen with E, you may have witnessed a piece of history: the two most annoying twits on television sharing the same scene. It certainly wasn’t the same as DeNiro and Pacino in the diner in “Heat”, but it was something.

5) What’s up with Saigon’s deal? Admittedly, the Saigon storyline has been a major source of frustration this year. I thought we had finally remedied the situation two weeks ago, but just as soon as we took one step forward we’ve taken two steps back! I, of course, just spent 500 words defending this season, but even I have to admit that the lack of Saigon is an unforgivable mistake by the writers. Am I supposed to believe that one day Ari is promising deals from Interscope, and then Turtle is content to just sit back and wait quietly for something to happen? You KNOW that Turtle would be hounding Ari to the point that Ari would have to change his cell phone number. This problem needs to be fixed in a hurry.

So, where does this week’s episode rank on the “how much I hate my life” meter? A solid 8. Nothing really made me just question my very existence, but Ari taking $11 million from Terrance, and then getting reacquainted with Mrs. Ari shortly thereafter certainly was cause for reflection on the current state of my life. In short, I was severely depressed, but not totally distraught. Not bad.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday Musings

As another exciting week in the life of The WAD begins (yes, I use the term “exciting” very loosely), here’s a few thoughts to get the week off to a start:

  • What can I say about Tiger’s victory at The Open that hasn’t already been said a thousand times in the last 18 hours? Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe it. It was eerily reminiscent of Tiger’s run of dominance to start the millennium. Sure, he didn’t lap the field, but it was as if he was simply placing the ball wherever he wanted. He just didn’t miss. Not to overstate it, but it was breathtaking at times. There were moments that reminded me of Michael Jordan at his apex. For example, when Tiger made his one mistake (a bogey at 12) and DiMarco birdied 13 to cut the lead to a single stroke, just like Jordan used to do, Tiger didn’t just answer…he answered all doubt. He promptly reeled off birdies at 14, 15, and 16, and slammed the door shut. I’ve said it before (most recently after Lefty’s collapse on 18 at Winged Foot), the difference between the great players and the legends is that the legends answer the bell at the biggest times…every time!

  • What made Tiger’s performance even more remarkable, and quite possibly one of the greatest of all time, was that he was able to suppress the rawest and most intense of emotions for 72 holes, including the last five holes when the heat was on. If there was any doubt at how intensely and dramatically Tiger has been affected by the death of his Father, the tears that uncontrollably streamed down his face as he clung to Stevie on the 18th green should resolve all doubt. As Paul Azinger so aptly put it, it was nice to see a champion display genuine and true emotion after such an enormous accomplishment. Now, he didn’t come out and say it, but I don’t think it requires too much of a leap to assume that Zinger was calling into question the authenticity of some of the emotional reactions we’ve recently seen from a Major winner. Possibly at this year’s Masters? I mean, I’m just saying.

  • Speaking of the remarkable control and suppression of emotions, I can’t even begin to imagine what Chris DiMarco was going through these past four days. Sure, he came up short, but he put up one hell of a fight. With four birdies on the back 9, and with an astonishing par on the 14th, DiMarco did more than his part. It was his misfortune to run into the greatest golfer of all time playing at his highest level in several years. I don’t thing there is any doubt, however, that DiMarco put on a show that would have made his Mother proud. And, I don’t think it will be long until he has a Major Championship of his own.

  • Tiger wasn’t the only American to claim a historic victory on European soil yesterday. Floyd Landis pulled off a minor miracle over the weekend by overcoming what could have been a devastating crash and claiming his first Tour De France victory. I don’t much about cycling, and I know even less about Landis, but I do know this: Anybody that wins a bike race of over 2,000 miles through multiple mountain ranges is a stud! And, I know the French aren't happy about it. Good times.

  • The Braves claimed another big win last night in Philadelphia. Even more important than the win were the facts that Horatio Ramirez went 7 innings giving up only one run, and Bob Wickman set the Phillies down 1-2-3 in the ninth. Not to mention, neither Chipper nor Andruw was in the lineup. All good signs.

  • Some guy named Denny Hamlin won the NASCAR race yesterday. Who the hell is Denny Hamlin?

  • A-Job is a head case, and I love it. Seriously, I haven’t been this happy about the demise of an athlete since Quincy Carter imploded at UGA, and I haven’t seen a player lose his ability to make a simple throw from point A to point B since Chuck Knoblauch. Good times.

  • I saw an interview with Coach K on last night’s edition of SportsCenter. I know that The WAD is full of Coach K haters, and that’s cool, but let me ask you one question: Is there ANYBODY you would rather have coaching the U.S. National Basketball team? If your answer is “no”, you either aren’t telling the truth, or you just don’t know very much about basketball. Sorry, that’s just a fact.

  • 21 year old Jeff Madsen, a film student at UC Santa Barbara, has won two bracelets and over $1.4 million at this year’s World Series of Poker. Add Jeff to the ever growing list of people I would trade lives with no questions asked!

  • 40 days until Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame under the lights at Historic Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field. I can already taste the bourbon!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Welcoming Big Bob & A Little Caption Fun

Although I typically pride myself on my unabashed pessimism, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think yesterday was a pretty great day. Tiger put himself right in the thick of things, Duval was clearly inspired by yesterday’s column, the Jackets got a verbal from a big time recruit, my buddy Dave surprised me with my first piece of College of Charleston swag, and the Braves got a closer in exchange for nearly nothing. Well, I think you know where I stand on Tiger, my Jackets, and my College of Charleston Cougars (yes, they are “my” Cougars and I don’t want to hear a damn word about it!), and I think yesterday’s piece on Duval speaks for itself, so that just leaves the Braves. Yes, that’s right, now that the winning streak is over I’m breaking my silence. Let’s talk a little baseball!

We are heading into the last week of July, and the Braves are five games under .500, 12 games behind the Mets in the East, but still, somehow they have managed to find a way to keep things interesting. Just when it looked like all hope was lost they go out and reel off 7 wins in a row and all of a sudden all bets are off. All of a sudden, it’s a big deal that we just acquired Bob Wickman. I’m not going to sit here and proclaim the Braves as the favorite to win the Wild Card, or issue a warning to the Mets, but I will say that having a guy that’s converted 15 of 18 saves this year, in addition to his American League leading 45 saves last year sure feels good. Listen, I’ll take my chances with a lineup featuring Renteria, Francoeur, Andruw, Chipper, LaRoche, and McCann, and a starting staff led by Smoltzy and a sure to revitalize Hudson. The biggest problem, of course, has been the absolutely abysmal bullpen. Think about this for a minute: Braves relievers have converted only 20 of 40 save opportunities! That number is absolutely staggering. In fact, it’s down right horrifying. If we had converted only half of those opportunities, we would be five games clear of the Reds in the Wild Card and only 2.5 games behind the Mets! As the old saying goes, that’s why they don’t play the games on paper.

Now, however, with a proven commodity in the closer role, you can’t help but feel we like the Braves aren’t done just yet. Sure, I’d much rather Wickman be the kind of guy that blows batters away instead of a rich man’s Dan Kolb, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. We’ve managed to stay alive with nothing, and Wickman, at least, gives us something. Is it enough? I’ve got a sneaky feeling that it just might be.


I hope everybody had a great weekend, and that everybody has a chance to watch The Open on Saturday and Sunday. If Thursday is any indication, it should be a wild race to the finish.

Oh, and one last thing today. We didn’t have a caption contest yesterday, and based on the apparent lack of interest the past several weeks I’ve actually considered bagging the contest for a while. But, I had just enough emails yesterday to convince me to give it another shot. So, here’s a photo you should be able to have a little fun with. Come strong today because the fate of the caption contest could be in your hands!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Redemption Song?

As I sit down to write this, we are less than an hour and a half from the start of the 2006 edition of The Open Championship. As we enter one of golf’s most important weekends, all eyes are on the usual suspects. Everybody is wondering if Tiger is ready to bounce back, if Vijay still has it in him or if his best days are behind him, if Monty can somehow finally get that elusive major, or if Phil can erase the ghosts of the 72nd hole at Winged Foot? I, like everyone else, am eagerly anticipating the answers to these questions. Even more, however, I’m interested in how the story that begins at 9:40 a.m. this morning is going to play out. In truth, this story began five years ago at St. Lytham’s & St. Annes. It’s a story of personal triumph, followed by physical and emotional heartache, devastating failure, and, I hope, ultimately, redemption. This, of course, is the story of David Duval.

Five years ago, Duval, the third ranked player in the world at the time, walked off the 72nd green at The Open Championship to the roar of the always appreciative crowd, having apparently reached the pinnacle of his career. After years of disappointment, including numerous close calls at Augusta National, Duval had finally captured his first Major Championship, and had solidified his position as one of golf’s elite. For those of us that are die hard Duval fans, things couldn’t have been better. Hell, to us, it seemed as if the battle with Tiger had been joined, and Duval was the man that had stepped forward from the pack to challenge the greatest player to ever to wear spikes. Little did we know, however, what Duval apparently sensed at the time: despite the victory, Duval’s game was slipping away. Yes, he managed to chip and putt his way to the Claret Jug, but he didn’t have the command of his game he wanted. Little did we know that Duval couldn’t shake the bursitis in his left shoulder, or that his back was as fragile as the Braves’ bullpen, or that his personal life was on the verge of blowing up in front of him. In short, little did we know that Duval’s life and golf game were about to implode.

How bad has it been? Well, to begin with, Duval has not won a single event since he hoisted the Claret Jug five years ago. He’s missed huge chunks of time due to his injuries, and he went through stretches where he might have actually lost money to Michael Jordan on the golf course. It got so bad that before heading to Shinnecock for the 2004 U.S. Open, his sponsors from Nike called just to say that he didn’t need to feel obligated to play because of them. Then, last season he missed the cut in 19 of the 20 PGA events he entered, and he shot an 85 at Pebble Beach and threw up a 49 on the back nine at The Bob Hope. In other words, it got to the point that nobody could look at you with a straight face and say they actually believed Duval would ever get his game back. Things didn’t look any better at this year’s Masters when Duval posted an 84 on Thursday and fired a 6 and a 10 on the first two holes on Friday. Then, out of nowhere, in the blazing sun of a spring afternoon in the far eastern stretches of Georgia, it happened. Somehow, someway, Duval reached deep inside and willed his way to a 32 on the back nine at Augusta. That’s not a 32 at any old course, that’s a 32 at AUGUSTA.

All of the sudden, there was hope. All of the sudden, we were no longer resolved to the fact that Duval would simply fade away and become one of golf’s great mysteries and tragedies like Chip Beck and Ian Baker Finch before him. Instead, in that one stretch of nine holes at golf’s greatest venue, David Duval showed us that the man that had once reached the number 1 ranking in the world and had hoisted the Claret Jug still resided inside him. In the matter of two hours among the azaleas, we saw hope, and the question became not if, but when would Duval again be the player we once knew?

Since Augusta, the signs have kept coming. First, there were the four consecutive rounds of 70 or better at the Colonial. Then came his gutty 16th place performance at Winged Foot. Since Augusta, Duval has made the cut in 5 of the 8 tournaments he’s entered, and he’s started to regain that old swagger. Certainly, he’s a long way from the player he was when he sat atop the world rankings in 1999, or when he won The Open in 2001, but you can see it coming. More importantly, you can feel it coming. A year ago, if somebody had so much as mentioned Duval as a dark horse at The Open, you would have told the bartender to cut them off. Now, however, if someone, like me, said the same thing, you might respond with something like, “yea, he’s a long shot, but I guess it could happen.” And, that is the point. It COULD happen. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. That alone is proof that David Duval has cleared the biggest hurdle on his comeback trail: he’s turned the corner from desperation to hope. Do I think he’s going to win this weekend? Of course not. Is it worth my time to pay attention to his scorecard? You bet your ass.

So, what has made the difference over the past year? Is it his marriage? Is it the three children to whom he is now a stepfather? Is it his newborn son? Is it his revamped swing? Or, is it his growing confidence? Truth is, it is undoubtedly a combination of all these factors, and probably many more. Whatever it is, however, I hope it continues, because eventually, the hope is going to become reality. In Duval's case, when hope intersects with reality, the result will be redemption. And, a story of redemption is always a story worth watching.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Television Tuesday

So, he did it. E freaking did it, and in the process, he undoubtedly became the luckiest character in the history of television. First, as Ari once said, he was born into royalty when he was lucky enough to be born next door to Vince. Now, not only is he making obscene amounts of money because of Vince, living in a palatial house because of Vince, getting into clubs he’s not nearly cool enough to get into because of Vince, but he is also having threesomes with absurdly hot chicks, at least partially because of Vince. At the end of the day, I just have one question: where the hell is my Vince?

Well, enough about the threesome. After all, a threesome with rules isn’t worth talking about is it? (You’ve got to love Drama’s little drops of wisdom.) Sunday night was the rarest of “Entourage” episodes. It was actually a really solid episode, with tremendous comedy (Ari’s inspirational speech to the staff was a Hall of Fame Ari moment), plenty of hot chicks, plenty of “recreational” behavior, and a genuinely compelling plot line, but the ending was down right infuriating. Usually, the best episodes are the ones that are “technically” strong, but also end on a high note, without any ridiculous conflict. (i.e. the party at Weinfuck’s beach house, Sundance, the Bat Mitzvah, and the high school party/blackout). This episode, however, while “technically” strong, left me wanting to shake the shit out of E and Vince. Specifically, how in the hell can E possibly justify ignoring Ari’s calls for an entire day? Who does he think he is? Wasn’t he spinning dough at Sbarro’s less than three year’s okay? And, how in the hell can Vince possibly justify blowing off a breakfast with the guy that is willing to pay him $12.5 million for pretending to be a super hero? Listen, the whole “I’ve got principles” thing is nice and all, but if somebody wants to pay me $12.5 million, they can lie to me as much as they want. Hell, I’ve been lied to for a lot less, and I liked it! I guess the most frustrating thing is that it’s just too hard for me to believe that ANYBODY could be as irresponsible as these guys with so much money on the line. Then again, that is probably why I couldn’t be a Hollywood agent in real life.

Okay, enough of me rambling on about these fictional people as if they really existed. Let’s ask some important questions about these fictional people:

1) Is Ari lying about Brokeback Jake taking over as Aquaman? This was the most popular theory around the water cooler today. The fact is that the timing of Ari’s call (right after Warners told him to f**k off) just seems too quick. I mean, there is no way that Warners could have stormed out of breakfast and closed a deal with Cowboy Jake (I’m trying out different names, just stay with me) that fast. Not to mention, Ari has lied to Vince in an attempt to motivate him before (remember the whole “Cameron said you could be replaced” debacle?). The problem is that his past lies to Vince have ended horribly, and Vince is actually in this position because he was so outraged that Warners lied to him. So, you see, this would be a HUGE gamble on Ari’s part. Is that a gamble he is willing to take? Probably. Do I hope that is a gamble he was willing to take? Absolutely.

2) Is this the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Drama and Lloyd? God I hope so! The comedic potential is off the charts. If they blow this opportunity, every last writer should be fired! And, in case you are wondering, 10,000 yen is about the equivalent of $6,450. Well, at least I think it is.

3) Since when did Turtle start wearing real clothes? Was I the only one that was startled when the episode opened with Turtle wearing khakis and a vest sweater? What happened to the jumpsuits playa? I need these to come back in a hurry, because they are the only thing that make me feel good about my wardrobe.

4) Is this the end of E and Sloan’s relationship? Of course it is.

5) Was it worth it? Of course it was.


So, ultimately, on the “how much do I hate my life after this week’s episode” meter, we are at a solid 9. I know I promised it would be higher if certain things happened, but at the end of the day my frustration with E and Vince really put a damper on things. Not to fear, however, with the much awaited Vegas episode just weeks away, there’s still plenty of time to shatter the meter.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Monday Musings

After taking Friday off from The WAD, and after enjoying a weekend away from the office, I’m feeling refreshed and looking forward to the new week. Let’s get things off to a roaring start with some musings:

  • Remember this name: Derrick Rose. Who is he? He’s a 6’2” point guard out of Chicago, IL, and he’s the real deal. On Friday, I made the two hour drive east on I-20 down to Augusta to take in the quarterfinal math-ups of the Nike Peach Jam with my buddy Joseph. In case you don’t know, the Peach Jam is one of the most elite of the big AAU summer tournaments. In other words, a prerequisite for playing in the Peach Jam is that you have some legit balers on your squad. Well, of the ballers I saw, Rose stood out over them all. I won’t bore you with details, but suffice it to say that this kid has “it”. I’m not exactly sure how to define “it”, but you just know it when you see it. Right now, he’s narrowed his choices to Illinois and Memphis. Not coincidently, both Coach Cal and Bruce Weber were sitting in courtside at Derrick’s game. Weber has actually already signed Rose’s teammate, Eric Gordon. If he can convince Rose to join Gordon in Champagne, they might actually accomplish the impossible: make Big-10 basketball exciting to watch. If you want a glimpse a why I like Rose so much, take a look at this video clip:

    http://scout.scout.com/a.z?s=75&p=9&c=4&pid=88&yr=2007

    I love the pass at the 1:50 mark of the video. There aren’t 100 people alive that can make that pass. Trust me.

  • Here’s some other video clips Joseph brought to my attention of some of the stars of Peach Jam:

    http://scout.scout.com/a.z?s=75&p=8&c=1&nid=1260411
    Kyle is choosing between UW and Arizona. And yes, Lute and Lorenzo Romar were both keeping a close eye on his game. In fact, when I asked Coach Romar who he was watching, he gave me a curious look and said, “you don’t need me to tell you that!”

    http://scout.scout.com/a.z?s=75&p=8&c=1&nid=1151828
    Here’s the aforementioned Eric Gordon.

    http://scout.scout.com/a.z?s=75&p=8&c=1&nid=1865349
    This kid created a huge stir with a 29 point 9assist first half performance! If you watch his videos you will see that he can definitely score, but I think you will also see that he might have some issues with his quickness. We’ll see. He’s going to Florida, and after watching the video interview on this page, I think you will agree that he is a perfect fit for that little ninny running that program.

  • Other than watching Rose and Gordon play, my favorite moment of the Peach Jam actually came when my buddy, Joseph, and I were drinking a few beers and having a bite afterwards. We happened to be sitting at the table right next to a very prominent coach and one of his assistants. While I won’t say his name, I will say that if he walked into your office right now, not only would you know him, you would probably have a thousand questions to ask him. Anyway, at the table next to them were four women, probably in their mid-30’s or early 40’s that had clearly left home that night with the intention of making some friends.

    Well, the Coach carried on a polite conversation with them for a while, but his assistant (who is a really large man that was wearing skin tight jean shorts!) was spitting his game left and right. This guy was nailing his Cedric the Entertainer routine, and these ladies were loving it. Finally, the Coach got a phone call and stepped outside to take it. No more than a few seconds, one of the ladies asked the Assistant, “so, you are the head coach, right? I mean, you are the boss, right?” Well, the look on the Assistant’s face was priceless. It was a cross between panic and absolute confusion. The look itself was great, but what came next is what makes this what Joseph called “A great Poor Man’s Bill Simmons Story.”:

    Faced with three options with: a) telling the truth and losing all hope of hooking up; b) flat out lying and preserving hope of the hooking up, but running the risk of getting fired if the Coach found out; and c) desperately seeking some middle ground, the Assistant went with option C by throwing out this gem, “ah, nah baby, we all the head coach. I mean, we don’t like labels. We all have to work together baby.”

    I know that this is one of those moments that is 100 times funnier in person, but you have to trust me, this was one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. And no, they didn’t believe it for one minute, but you have to give the guy props for doing what he could to save a sinking ship.

  • They have only been advertising it for two months now, well, last night ESPN finally aired the ESPY’s. Since it was taped earlier this week, certain things were inevitably leaked, so you knew some of the winners, and you knew when to pay attention because something notable was about to happen. Even so, it was a ore than enjoyable experience. Here’s some quick takes on the most notable moments of the evening from my perspective:

    1) Seeing Tyrone Prothro limping on stage with his left leg still in a cast was very depressing. Nice job Coach Shula. You really needed that last touchdown when you were up 28 with 5 minutes to play. Good work.

    2) Ben Stiller is the Dr. Yang of comedians. Every time I see him on t.v., I just want to squash him like a bug.

    3) Lance Armstrong was tremendous. Sure, he didn’t write the jokes, but he did an amazing job delivering them.

    4) After walking arm in arm with Carmen Elektra, Shaun White won’t have to buy a new Playboy for at least six months.


    5) Chris Berman is the Ben Stiller of sportscasters.

    6) Will Ferrell was the biggest winner of the night. The Ricky Bobby SportsCentury piece was hilarious, and his musical tribute to Lance was first ballot hall of fame comedy.

    7) Does it make me a bad person if I’m ready for Jason McElwain’s 15 minutes to be over? Don’t answer that. I can’t believe I just wrote it. I’m going to punch myself in the face.

    8) After that little shake she gave with Ludacris, Danica Patrick is in my Top 5. Some things just defy explanation.

    9) Props to Mark Wahlberg for calling Ben Roethlisberger out as a moron, and big props to the ESPY’s crowd for not giving a crap when Roethlisberger came out on stage. I mean, shouldn’t a quarterback average more than 200 yards/game before he has the audacity to make a grand individual entrance when his team is being honored? What a joke! And yes, Roethlisberger has entered A-Job territory in my book.

10) D. Wade is not only the NBA Finals MVP, but he also, by far, had the greatest hat at the ESPY’s. And yes, he had plenty of competition. You got to love the ESPY’s.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Caption Contest

The WAD is once again tied up so sorry for the late posting. Should be some good ones coming from this pic...enjoy.

2006 WNBA All-Star Game Recap

OK, maybe not. The WAD is out this morning and I only felt this is what he would've given us if he were in. So I'm filling in before the caption contest this afternoon and I promise no WNBA. We should probably start with roll call to ensure everyone made it through one of the most dreaded days of the year, which is the day after the MLB All-Star game where there isn't a single sporting event on television. I'm pretty certain that wives/girlfriends mark this day on their calendar because they know we can't escape them. Anyhow, in an effort to get us out of the funk that we've been forced into and to get us pumped for the months ahead, I've included a video of what may be the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner...enjoy.

-fisher


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

All-Star Recap

Last night marked the 77th annual Major League All Star Game, so I decided that I would do something very special and keep a running diary to commemorate the event. Then, I actually gave this idea some thought, and I realized it would require me to watch the entire game. Was I willing to make that kind of commitment and sacrifice? Of course not. I mean, no man should be forced to listen to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver for more than three hours unless we are deep into October. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if the government piped McCarver’s voice non-stop into the cells at Guantanamo Bay, we would know the details of every terrorist plot under the sun in a matter of a few hours. The guy is unbearable, and yet, he continues to be the #1 guy on Fox year after year. That’s more inexplicable than Ashlee Simpson’s career. At any rate, I do have a few random thoughts to share about last night’s festivities in Pittsburgh:

1) Pittsburgh? Really? Could you imagine being one of the young guys like Brian McCann, and you get the great news that you’ve made your first All Star Game…in Pittsburgh! It’s even worse when you consider the game was in Detroit last year, Houston the year before, and Milwaukee back in 2002. Can you think of three worse major cities to spend three days? (No offense to loyal WAD reader and Detroit native and now resident, Huge). Seriously though, way to reward your stars Bud. And you wonder why the players hate you?

2) Did anybody else catch the creepy look David Wright shot to Carrie Underwood right after the National Anthem? If you missed it, let’s just say that not even Turtle has ever made a creepier turn.

3) Speaking of David Wright, I didn’t realize that FOX clearly has an ownership interest in the Mets. I mean, I know the kid has had a great first half, he was the star of the HR Derby, and he hit a bomb last night, but was it really necessary for us to have to watch the goofy bit with him wearing the Hawaiian shirt, the interview with his Dad, the interview with him in the dugout, and Buck and McCarver performing unspeakable acts on him between innings. Okay, so to the best of my knowledge, that last one isn’t true, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised. Suffice it to say, however, I’ve seen enough of this kid’s goofy smile to last a lifetime. In fact, he’s now my least favorite player in baseball. Well, except A-Job, but that should go without saying.

4) The highlight of the night was definitely the replay in the bottom of the 6th inning of Gary Matthews Jr.’s catch a few weekends ago in Houston. I could watch that 1,000 times and not get tired of it. And yes, it’s a bad thing when the best part of your All Star game is a highlight from weeks ago.

5) Speaking of highlights, did anybody else catch the woman that FOX focused on for 20 seconds as they went to break in the middle of the 8th inning? Wow! You remember the story of how Courtney Cox got her start by being pulled on stage to dance with the Boss as he sang “Dancing in the Dark.” Well, I’m pretty certain that one day we will be hearing the story about how this woman got her start thanks to some horn dog FOX camera man at the 2006 All Star Game. Oh, and by the way, I do realize it’s sad that I notice these things.

6) Did somebody forget to tell the fans in Pittsburgh that they should be excited to be at the All Star Game? Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the great World Cup crowds, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a worse crowd at a major sporting event. Just further proof that this is a year where Pittsburgh fans keep getting things they don’t deserve. First, the Steelers steal the Super Bowl, and now this. Well, at least they still have Dave Wannstedt as the head coach at Pitt to keep them humble.

7) Here’s an idea Trevor Hoffman: when the potential last out of the game and one of the best hitters in baseball just misses two changeups, how about not throwing a third one in the same exact spot? I know it sounds crazy, but give it a shot sometime. Maybe you won’t screw your entire league next time?

8) I think John Legend is very talented, so this is not a shot at him, but can we pass some legislation mandating that the only person allowed to sing “God Bless America” in a nationally televised game is the guy from Yankee Stadium, Ronin Tynan? Is it possible to hear him sing “God Bless America” and not get goose bumps? Honestly, does anybody compare to this guy? Everybody else just leaves you wishing for Ronin. So, yes, I am admitting that there is at least one good thing about Yankee Stadium.

9) A.J. Pierzynski was the only American League position player to not get in the game last night. So, I guess it’s true that not even his manager likes him.

10) So, here are my thoughts on this year’s All Star Game in a nutshell: No Andruw or Nomar, no memorable highlights, the team I’m rooting for blows a lead with two outs in the 9th inning, the crowd was awful, waaaayyy too much David Wright, and one more year of home field advantage for the AL in the World Series. All told, a complete and utter disaster. On the bright side, the game was only 2 hrs. 33 mins long, so the Buck/McCarver torture was kept to a minimum. Oh, and I almost forgot about the hot chick in the middle of the 8th! Who says I can’t find the bright side of all situations?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Belated Musings and Television Tuesday

First off, sorry for yesterday’s airball. I got more than a few emails asking me what the hell was going on. Most of them went something like, “dude, it’s Monday Musings, that’s the easiest thing you do. What’s up?” Well, yes, it’s true, Monday Musings is pretty much the easiest thing I do, but even they aren’t easy enough to overcome the dreaded “blue screen of death” on the laptop. Fortunately, however, thanks to some solid I.T. help, I’m back up and running today. Not only am I happy that the WAD is back in play, but I’m more than a little relieved that I don’t have to spend another day working on a pc in a secretary’s cubical. Let’s just say that I tend to say a lot of things at the office that are better said behind the closed door of my office than out in the public domain of the office hallways. So, now that I have overcome the laptop crisis, not only can I slip back into my office where the odds of me getting fired are dramatically less (probably still high, but not as high as they would be if I had to continue to sit with the secretaries), but we can get back to the business at hand. I figure the best thing to do is give you about 2,000 words of Musings, and “Entourage”.

Musings

1) Well, everybody else in the world is asking the question, so why should I be any different, what the hell was Zidane thinking? His head-butt was simply unfathomable. The only thing I can equate it to would be if Michael Jordan had simply turned around and punched John Stockton in the face in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of one of those classic Bulls/Jazz Finals. I mean, sure, just like Stockton, I’m sure the Italian dude was cheap shotting Zidane the whole match and trying to bait him, and I can only guess as to how offensive the comment made by the Italian dude was, but there is no way it could have been offensive enough for Zidane to lose his head at that moment in time. He was ten minutes away from PK’s in his last match ever, and it just happened to be in the World Cup Finals. In the end, who knows if it really had any effect on the outcome, but that doesn’t change the fact that it shouldn’t have happened. It was simply inexcusable, and it was so bizarre that I still can believe it actually happened. That being said, it only confirmed all my worst feelings about the French.

2) One last thing about the World Cup, and then I promise you won’t have to read another thing about soccer on the WAD for another four years (by the way, what are the odds I’m still doing this in 4 years?): There is simply no singular act in sports more exciting than a World Cup goal. It’s a combination of everything. It’s the fact that they are so rare, coupled with the fact that the crowd goes absolutely bananas with every goal, and the fact that it clearly means so much to every player on the field. Could you imagine football players being moved to near tears every time their team scored a touchdown? It’s simply amazing, and I’ve truly enjoyed every goal I’ve seen over the past month.

3) Just when the Hawks looked like things might be turning around in the second half of this past season, they go out and draft Shelden Williams, they can only manage to sign Speedy Claxton, and then this Belkin mess rears its head again. Granted, I’m not an optimist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m on the brink of throwing my hands up and quitting. Seriously, I just don’t see any reason to have hope at this point. Maybe I’ll change my tune by October, but I seriously doubt it.

4) Mark my words (and by that, I mean only remember this if I’m right): The Atlanta Braves will get within at least 5 games of the Mets in the second half of the season. I’m not predicting they will win the Division for a 16th straight year, but they will put a scare into the Mets, and it will be interesting to see if the second class citizens of NYC have the sack to withstand the challenge. If you think a team that has to rely on an aging Tommy Glavine and an injured Pedro Martinez to carry them is going to run away with the division, you are nuts. If I was a Mets fan, I would lie awake at night sweating the fact that Steve Trachsel is my third starter.

5) How much do you think Dallas Austin had to pay for his pardon in Dubai? I figure he only had to give away a few hundred “A-T-L” cd’s. After all, it is a very catchy tune.

6) David Wright vs. Ryan Howard in the Homerun Derby Final: That’s the stuff legends are made of. I guess it could be worse. If the NBA were running the MLB All Star festivities, we would probably have Dale Murphy facing off against Don Mattingly in a game of pepper.

7) Speaking of the MLB All Star Game, I’m not going to go into this in too much detail, because those of you who know me have heard me scream and holler about this plenty, but I find it utterly offensive that home field advantage in the World Series comes down to the winner of this game. You mean to tell me that it makes any damn sense at all that a 9th inning showdown between Scott Kazmir and Carlos Lee could decide whether Game 7 of the Series is played in Fenway Park or Bush Stadium? This ranks up there in the top 5 most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Somewhere above my buddy’s comment that “Lindsay Lohan looks better without boobs”, and somewhere below another unnamed buddy’s comment that “you know, Paris Hilton doesn’t have a bad voice.”

8) Yes, it’s true, they are making “Rocky VI”, and I saw the trailer this weekend when I went to see “Pirates of the Caribbean II”, and yes, it looks absolutely horrible, and yes, I’ve already reserved my opening night tickets.

9) Speaking of “Pirates II”, except for the fact that Keira Knightley is absurdly hot, the movie was beyond disappointing. It lacked the dialogue and humor that made the first movie very enjoyable. It’s almost as if Johnny Depp was a secondary character, and I didn’t laugh a single time. Don’t get me wrong, if you are a fan of 30 minute long sword fights you will love it. If not, wait for the dvd. I, however, could be wrong. It did out gross “Aquaman” on its opening weekend!

10) One final musing before moving on. It’s not often that Bill Simmons infuriates me, but it does it happen on rare occasions, and yesterday was one of those occasions. In yesterday’s column about the players with the Top 40 trade value, he had the audacity to compare Marvin Williams to Darko. Let’s just say that I actually punched the enormous computer screen in the secretary’s cubicle when I read this. While hindsight certainly reveals that Chris Paul would look great in a Hawks’ uniform, that is no reason to crap on Marvin, and no matter how you slice it comparing Marvin to Darko was crapping on him. I don’t even know what else to say. It was simply absurd, and it was uncalled for. Don’t let it happen again Bill!

So, enough with my belated Musings, let’s talk about the boys from Queens.

“Entourage”

In the words of the great Dan Kuhn (clearly stolen from Verne Lundquist), YES SIIIIRRR! We definitely had the varsity squad of writers for this week’s episode, and we are back. Not only did we have our first Saigon sighting, but he’s blowing up. Not only did the boys get some new toys, but they got three brand new Aston Martins. Not only is Ari wielding power again, but he got that young punk working his daughter shipped off to a third world former Soviet republic for 24 weeks. In short, good things are happening, and based on the previews for next week, they are only getting better. So, let’s ask the important questions:

1) Is Drama’s career about to have a resurgence now that he is part of Team Gold? For Johnny’s sake, I hope so. For the first time ever, during this week’s episode, you actually had to feel a little sorry for Drama. I mean, with things blowing up for Turtle, Vince, and Eric (more on the amazing new developments in Eric’s life in just a minute), Drama is the only one of the group stuck in neutral. You’ve got to figure Ari can pull a few strings and get Drama some work. The only question is whether Drama is willing to Skinemax. My guess is that he is.

2) What did Michael Bay and Kevin Smith do to piss off the writers? Wow, the collective reaction of Vince and E when Ari told them Michael Bay was directing and Kevin Smith was writing “A2” was devastating. Let’s just say that I don’t think you are going to see Jeremy Pivens, Kevin Connolly, or Adrian Grenier starring in “The Rock II” or “Clerks III” any time soon.

3) Is it just me, or does “Medellin” sound like an amazing movie? Have you ever seen the “Biography” of Pablo Escobar on A&E? I’m not sure I can think of a guy whose story needs to be told in a movie more than this guy’s. Listening to Paul Haggis talk about the movie in this episode, I found myself dying to see it. Then, I, of course, remembered this is a fictional show. Seriously, if somebody doesn’t seize on this idea, my theory that Hollywood is filled with morons will be confirmed. If I can’t have a real life “Aquaman” can I at least get a real life “Medellin”? I’m begging.

4) How perfect was the necklace Saigon gave Turtle? To steal from the man I just threatened above, on the Bill Simmons unintentional comedy scale, this had to rank somewhere in the high 90’s. I just pray that Turtle starts wearing it every where he goes.

5) Is E really going to have a threesome with Sloan and some other sure to be smoking hot chick? There’s not much socially acceptable stuff that I can say about this. In fact, I can’t think of a single thing. Suffice it to say, if this happens, I will leave next week’s episode hating my life more than ever. And, as I’ve told you before, that is how I judge the quality of an “Entourage” episode. After this week’s episode, on a scale of 1 to 10, my hatred of my own life was around an 8. If Eric pulls this off next week, I can predict a new record of a 14. Good times.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cleaning Out the Inbox at the End of the Week

I’ve gotten some great emails in the past few days that have sparked some interesting email exchanges. So, to close the week, I figured I’d share a few of the most amusing and thought provoking. So, here goes:

1) Mr. Fite, my good friend, my law school compatriot, and an esteemed attorney for the great state of Texas, and I just finished confirming plans for him to spend Labor Day weekend in Atlanta at which time he will attend the Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame showdown at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field. So, what does he do to get me fired up for the big game? Well, he sends me this:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/stewart_mandel/06/28/mandel.mailbag/1.html

Let’s see how this equation looks:

Richt as the 6th best coach in America + O’Leary as the 10th best coach in America + Gailey as the 3rd worst coach in America = Me jumping off the 17th Street Bridge during rush hour.

Man, it’s great to be a Tech fan. We are undoubtedly the most tortured group of fans in America. I won’t even argue about this.

2) Fite didn’t stop there. Fortunately, however, he decided to avoid pushing me over the bridge and simply provided this breaking news:

http://www.dispatch.com/football/football.php?story=dispatch/2006/07/06/20060706-F2-01.html

You mean to tell me that Mo can’t even catch on in the CFL? The actual Arena League? Look, I know he’s doesn’t run a 4.5, and I know it’s probably not a good idea to leave your valuables laying out around him, but am I the only one that remembers he was a complete badass on a national championship team at Ohio State? I mean, wasn’t he the best player on that team at the age of 18? I just don’t understand what happened to him. This is destined to be one of the great mysteries of my life. Oh well.

3) Finally, Fite capped off an impressive email string with this stunning story out of our old stomping grounds:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/07/06/subway.rampage/index.html

When we lived in the City, Fite, Vines, Huge, and I lived less than five blocks from this stop and exited the subway here countless times. That being said, two thoughts immediately came to my mind when I read this article: 1) I would have pitied the fool that tried to assault Fite with power saws when he was returning from one of his weekly trips to the GameStop. There are certain things you just don’t do, and one of them is try to separate Fite from his X-Box games. Saw or no saw, Smokey would have been in for a world of pain. 2) From this point forward, I’m going to carry a copy of this article around in my pocket, and when people ask me if I miss NYC, I am just going to give it to them to read. That should provide a sufficient answer.

4) Vines, one of the many brave souls to have survived actually sharing an apartment with me, finally got around to sending me some of his stories from his 10 day odyssey in a Winnebago through Germany for this year’s World Cup. I’m not going to spoil his tales because I’m trying to convince him to share them in his words on The WAD next week, but suffice it to say, the very few he shared with me left me laughing out loud at my desk. If you’ve ever been inside a law office, you know that laughing is something that rarely happens. Let’s just say that there are more than a few people in Germany that will never forget the American with blue hair. Hopefully, in addition to sharing his stories, he will post a link to his photo album. I’ve seen it, and it needs to be shared with the WAD Nation. (And yes, this was my underhanded way of leaving Vines with no choice but to write up his stories this weekend so I can post them next week. Peer pressure is an absolute bitch!)

5) Last but not least, Stats sent me the following:

“This is a good, if not great question...what happens if the NL West ends in a 3 way tie? How do you tiebreak that? What if it’s a 4 way tie? I am so rooting for this to happen.”

I immediately had three thoughts: 1) Who cares about the NL West? 2) How would they break a 3 or 4 way tie? 3) What the hell does Stats do all day?

Well, fortunately, it didn’t take long for Stats to provide the following answer to at least one of these questions:

http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/news/mlb_press_release.jsp?ymd=20030908&content_id=517243&vkey=pr_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

As for what Stats does all day, I honestly have absolutely no idea!


So, that wraps up an abbreviated Holiday week on The WAD. I hope everybody has a great weekend. And, don’t forget to catch The World Cup Finals on Sunday at 2 P.M. on ABC.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Caption Contest


It's good to see that Rooney and Ronaldo were able to make peace after Rooney's Marcus Vick impersonation in the World Cup quarterfinals!

(Before you start the inevitable flurry of "why do you always put up pictures with homosexual undertones" comments, let me just say for the record that I don't find these pictures. I count a few people to send me some options each week, and these are the types of pictures I get. So there! Go and be crass and have a great afternoon.)

Hot Routes

Not to much to say this morning, but it's not like me not to have anything to say, so here are a few "hot routes" to help you bide your time until the caption contest makes its much anticipated return this afternoon:

1) World Cup Finals

As you have probably figured out by now, I'm hooked. Never in my life did I think I would call my roommate to ask him to pause a soccer game and wait for me to get home before watching the second half. But, that is exactly what happened on Tuesday when I raced home to catch the thrilling conclusion of the Italy vs. Germany semifinal match. If hat wasn't enough, when I got home from work yesterday, the first words out of my mouth were "who won the game?" It's official...I'm a World Cup fan. I, however, am relieved that it will all be over on Sunday so I can not think about soccer again until 2010. Speaking of Sunday, what a matchup this promises to be. You have the old and grizzled French team led by the retiring Zidane vs. the upstart Italians led by a bunch of guys named Vincent, Carmine, and Anthony. Fine, I made that last part up, but you get the point. As a man with a significant amount of Italian blood running through my veins, and an even more significant amount of animus toward the French in every fiber of my being, I will be cheering obnoxiously for the Italians. This Zidane guy, however, is such a great story that it almost makes me not appalled by the thought of a French victory. Okay, that's not true. I think Zidane is phenomenal to watch, but there is no part of me that will not be appalled by a French victory!

Nomar

Let me get this straight...Nomar (one of the few guys in sports that can legitimately referred to by his first name by the way) is leading the National League with a .361 average, is hitting somewhere close to .775 in the past few weeks (that may be a slight exaggeration), is 7th in the NL in slugging percentage, 5th in OBP, 5th in OPS, has a 17 game hitting streak, has committed 1 error while compiling a .998 fielding percentage at a new position, and oh by the way, has his hometown team .5 games out of first place half way through the season, and the only way he can make the All-Star team is if he wins something called the "Monster 2006 All Star Fan Vote"???????? Are you kidding me? Would somebody please explain this to me because it really doesn't make sense. I'm not even kidding, I would love a rational explanation. Look, I'm not claiming that he's more deserving than Ryan Howard, Lance Berkman, or Albert Pujols at first base. All I'm saying is that if you are going to purport to field a roster of the best in the game, there has to be a spot for Nomar regardless what the "Monster" ballots say. I mean, is it really necessary to have 8 starting pitchers. I don't even know why I care about this, but I do, so you are stuck reading about it. Moving on...

The Western Open

It's certainly not a major, but you might want to find time to tune in this weekend to the Western Open just outside of Chicago. Why? Well, it's not often that we get to see the likes of Woods, Mickelson, and Singh in the same non-major field. After Tiger and Phil's very different, but equally embarassing debacles at the U.S. Open, it will be interesting to see how they bounce back as they attempt to get geared up for The Open Championship across the pond. Will Phil be able to bounce back, or will Tiger be able to shake off the rust and return to form? Who knows? All I do know is that the thought of a lazy Sunday afternoon on the couch watching Tiger and Phil battle it out in Chicago sounds pretty good to me. Now, if only they don't go out and screw up my plans!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Nothing is Free

First and foremost, I hope everyone had a fantastic 4th. As for me, I brought a nice relaxing extended weekend to a close with a little golf with the family and some quality time with the parents capped off by watching the Italians take out the Germans with two goals in the waning moments of Overtime (the first of which simply had to be seen to be believed). All in all, not a bad way to spend the day. As the evening wound down, however, I took some time to check in on the dizzying NBA free agent action that has picked up right where the insanity of last week’s draft left off. Here are some of the biggest head scratchers thus far:

1) Undoubtedly, the biggest free agent splash thus far is the Bulls’ signing of Ben Wallace. Not only is this huge because the Bulls have thrown down the gauntlet that they must win now by signing a soon to be 32 year old center with no discernable offensive skills to a 4 year $60 million contract, but the ripple effects have already been staggering and could potentially be astounding. To begin with, in an effort to fill the gap left by Wallace’s departure, the Pistons went out and signed Nazr Mohammed to a 5 year $30 million contract. That’s right, $6 million/year for a guy that averaged 6.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a game last year for the Spurs! We’ve spent the past three years praising Joe Dumars as a genius, and now, he goes off and does this? We gave him a pass on the Darko over Carmello and D. Wade debacle, but this might be unforgivable. On the bright side, I don’t think we will have to worry about watching the Pistons playing late into May or June next year. That big sigh of relief you just heard came from the ABC Sports execs!

The repercussions, however, don’t stop there. The insiders (or at least the purported insiders) are claiming that the Bulls are now shopping Tyson Chandler. Most notably, they appear to be trying to pry K.G. away from Minnesota in exchange for Chandler, Deng, and this year’s first round pick, Tyson Chandler. Never mind the fact that I’m still not sure this trade would work under the salary cap, ask yourself this question: If you are Minnesota, would you trade one of the best players of his generation for a guy that averaged 5.3 pts. and 9.0 rebs. a game last year (Chandler), a raw young three man that averaged 14.3 pts., 6.0 rebs., and shot 27% from three point range last year (Deng), and a guy that has never played an NBA game and the term “raw” doesn’t even begin to describe his game (Thomas)? It looks like a classic “3 quarters for a dollar” trade that all your buddies constantly propose in your fantasy leagues. No way I would do it, but Kevin McHale is almost a mortal lock to take the bait. If he does, take a look at the Bulls starting rotation next season:

PG - Kirk Hinrich
SG - Ben Gordon
SF - ?
PF - Garnett
C - Wallace

So, beside the fact that they have a hole that needs to be filled at SF, the other four guys are either proven All Stars or have serious All Star potential. In short, it might be time to crank back up the laser show introductions at the United Center, because something very exciting may be on the horizon in The Second City.

2) Sam Cassell turned down two years and $15 million from the Hawks to take $2 million less over the same time period to stay with the Clippers. I know the Clippers are better than they have been, but when free agents start taking less money to stay with the Clips rather than sign with you, you have BIG problems. (On another infuriating note, here is a list of some guys that Espn.com’s Chris Sheridan ranked ahead of Cassell in the free agent market: Joel Przybilla, Nazr Mohammed, Jared Jeffries, Mike James, Vladimir Radmanovic, Marcus Banks, and Tim Thomas. WHAT??? Was Chris sleeping for the entire regular season and playoffs? He had Sam I Am ranked 15th overall. I guess Sam has to average 35/game and single handedly lead the worst franchise in the history of professional sports to the Title to get any respect. This infuriates me!)

3) Speaking of the Hawks’ troubles, Al Harrington would apparently rather play for Golden State than the Hawks. Harrington told Atlanta’s horrendous newspaper this past weekend that “My only focus is getting back to the playoffs and eventually competing for a championship.” So, that is a more viable possibility in Golden State than Atlanta? Shoot me now! Seriously, I’m not kidding around. Pull the freaking trigger!

4) Here’s another one from the “kill me now” category: Joel Przybilla is a huge white stiff that averaged 6.1 pts and 7 boards a game last year for the Blazers, and he is on the verge of TURNING DOWN an offer from the Blazers for 5 years and $31 million! Seriously, what has this world come to?

These are just a few things that jumped out at me as I was reviewing the lay of the free agent landscape. They, however, are certainly not fully representative of the insanity spreading throughout the Association right now. For example, keep a close eye on the Mike James and Bonzi Wells situations. They are sure to prove amusing. Not to mention, by all accounts, the Celtics are still hell bent on making a move for A.I. Don’t say I didn’t warn you Danny Ainge! Seriously, just stay out of your own way. We will all be better off for it.



Finally, before signing off today, I would be remised if I didn’t say a few words about Coach Cremins’ decision to accept the head coaching job at The College of Charleston. I’ve had many phone calls and emails from several of you over the past few days seeking my thoughts, so here they are:

I am excited for Coach Cremins, and I am enormously proud of him. I think he undoubtedly faces a challenge in trying to take a solid program to a higher level, and that challenge certainly isn’t made easier by the fact that he has been out of coaching for six years. I, however, am of the strong opinion that the game of basketball is something that runs through the veins of men like Coach Cremins. Even in his absence from coaching, he has surrounded himself with the game as a t.v. analyst, G.T. fan, and general ambassador for the game. This is his life’s love and work, and six years away from the sideline will not impede his success. Sure, he probably won’t be able to bring the likes of Mark, Kenny, Dennis, and Steph to Charleston…at least at first. But don’t you worry, he will bring talent to Charleston, and every one of those kids he brings in will be a better basketball player and person when he leaves. If he gets the proper support and cooperation from the administration (something he so desperately lacked from 1997 – 2000 at Tech), he will win. How big will he win? Well, that I can’t answer, but you can bet that I will be taking many road trips to Charleston over the next few years to find out.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Catching Up and Moving Forward

First of all, please accept my apologies for my no show performances last Thursday and Friday. Trust me when I tell you that it was completely unavoidable. As I have bemoaned before, sometimes work, as much as I hate to admit it, takes precedence over The WAD. Now that’s behind us, let’s get back to the stuff that really matters. Since this is an awkward work week with the Holiday, I’m going to try to cover a lot of ground today so I can catch up and we can start fresh on Wednesday. Off we go…

“Entourage”

Well at least I think we are done with Dom. That’s the good news. The bad news, however, is that this was yet another disappointing episode in many respects. Out of the first four episodes, we’ve only had one real quality episode. Sure, a .250 average would be a serious upgrade for the Braves lead off spot, but it’s nothing to write home about in the world of television….especially HBO. I’m not going to rehash all the frustration and concern I spewed last week, but suffice it to say, they have not subsided. I mean, four episodes in and still no mention of Sloane or Saigon? How is this even possible? On the bright side, at least Eric delivered the great “he has a worse tell than Malkovich in “Rounders”” line. Speaking of “Rounders”….

“Rounders”

I have probably seen this movie somewhere close to thirty times, but that didn’t stop me from watching it again last night. I only bring this up because I think it’s one of the most well done and intelligent movies of the past ten years. Not to mention that I think it is largely responsible for the poker boom over the past five years. Think about it, “Rounders” came out when we were in college, and every frat boy in America was a fan. Hell, before “Rounders”, every poker game at every frat house and dorm in America consisted of ridiculous match the pot “gut” games that consisted of more wild cards than chicks Matt Leinart “meets” in a week. Thankfully, after “Rounders”, those games quickly evolved into Hold ‘Em tournaments. Seriously, had you even heard of Texas Hold ‘Em before “Rounders”? I know I hadn’t, and I’m as big a gambler as I know.

So, in addition to being well done and intelligent, a case can easily be made that “Rounders” is one of the most influential movies of its generation. Sure, you can poke holes in the movie like Bill Simmons did in his recent interview with the writers (i.e. the check cashing place not charging interest for cashing the Professor’s check, Damon reading all the professors’ hands blind, and the aforementioned absurdity of KGB’s tell), but that holds true for every movie…even the great ones. The good, however, far outweighs the bad. For example, when was the last time you sat down at a poker table and somebody didn’t bust out a line from “Rounders” within the first ten minutes at the table? It just doesn’t happen.

The NBA Draft

I received no less than 12 emails asking me where the hell I was on Thursday, and why I didn’t run an NBA Draft recap. Truth is, I didn’t see one minute of the draft, and I didn’t even review the draft order until late Friday night. That being said, I’m really upset I missed it. By all accounts, the draft lived up to all the hype that it was going to be the most unpredictable draft in many years. The Blazers made six trades for God’s sake! My head was spinning just reading about it, I can only imagine how great it was as it unfolded live. Now that I’ve had time to digest everything, here are a few thoughts on who came out as winners and losers:

The Winners:

Memphis - I absolutely love what Memphis did in trading Shane Battier for Rudy Gay and Stomile Swift then picking up Kyle Lowry late in the first round. Think about it, they sent away a solid but not spectacular guy in Battier in exchange for a potential superstar (Gay), a guy of equal worth to Battier that still has untapped potential (Swift), and a guy with a solid handle that could turn into consistent guard in the League (Lowry). In other words, they traded $.50 for $1.00. Granted, there is a chance that both Gay and Swift miss the team bus and show up late for half their games, but I think it’s a risk worth taking. The Rockets, on the other hand, continue to spiral out of control toward the doldrums of the Western Conference. If T-Mac’s back can’t hold up, the Rockets might not win 20 games next year.

Minnesota - They ended up with my favorite player, Randy Foye, and one of the toughest guys in the draft, Craig Smith. Here’s why these guys are a great fit for the Wolves: Kevin Garnett is an absurdly competitive guy, and he has not time for guys that don’t care about winning as much as he does. Well, since he’s stuck in Minnesota, at least they got him the two most competitive rookies in the draft. I really believe that. I don’t know how many wins Foye and Smith will be worth, but at least K.G. probably won’t assault either one of them. It’s the little things that matter.

Portland - Not only do I love the fact that they made six trades in one night, but I actually love what they ended up with. At the end of the day, with Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers very well may have ended up with two of the best four players in the draft. Sure, I hate the fact they had to give up Sebastian, but they managed to keep Blake and Jack. All in all, that’s a very good night for a franchise that hasn’t had many in the past few years.

Boston - Speaking of Sebastian, I’ll admit that I’m in the minority here, but I think the Celtics had a great night. One of these days, people are going to listen to me when I say that this kid is the real deal. His shot has improved, his defense can be relentless when he’s motivated, and he sees the floor as well as anyone in the League. Yes, I honestly believe that. And, when you put him in the backcourt with Delonte West, you put Ryan Gomes and The Truth, and young Al Jefferson in the post, I love their starting five. It doesn’t end there however. With Wally Szczerbiak, Theo Ratliff, Tony Allen, Brian Grant, and the young Gerald Green coming off the bench, I’m totally in love with the Celtics. With Pierce coming off a career year and truly entering his prime, I think the C’s can win the East next year. And no, I’m not drinking. All that being said, if they use Bassy to put together a package to get A.I., I will feel completely differently. I just like the feel of the roster they’ve put together, and it all revolves around Bassy. Laugh all you want now, but I just know I’m right about this one.

The Losers:

Atlanta - I don’t even have the energy to talk about this.

New York - I don’t even have a joke here. At this point, I don’t think there is a shrink in the world that could figure out what is going on inside Isiah’s head. All I know is it’s ugly. Very ugly.

New Jersey - A lot of people seem to like the Nets draft. I, however, am not one of them. I’m fine with Marcus Williams. Hell, I would have been fine if the Hawks had taken him at No. 5. He is a steady and solid point guard, and as long as the team gives him a laptop of his own, he should be fine. In the words of Bill Walton, Josh Boone, however was a TERRRRRRRRRIBLE pick. You knew somebody was going to take him, you just had to hope and pray it wasn’t your team. Well, no such luck for all six Nets fans. At what point in his time at UConn did you ever say, “boy, Josh Boone is really dominating this game”? The answer is NEVER. He’s one of these guys that has all the tools (size, athleticism, and length), but he can just never put it all together. If that didn’t happen in three years at UConn, how is it possibly going to happen in the League? Just a wasted pick in my mind.

Then, in the second round, the Nets took one of my sleepers, Hassan Adams of Arizona. I’m a big Adams fan, and I think he has an outside chance to be a Gilbert Arenas sized surprise. The problem, however, is that he’s simply a younger, less polished, and less experienced version of Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson. He should have no problem getting minutes….for somebody else in three years.

Orlando - They took J.J. Redick with the 11th pick in the draft. I’m sure the season tickets are flying out of the box office in Orlando.


“The World Cup”

So, the Final Four is set in Germany. And with only three games remaining, it appears that we could very well be staring at Germany vs. France Final. This begs only one question: will the U.S. have to be called in to protect the French?

Well, from the better late than never category, Stats emailed me a preview of the Final 8 last Friday, but I wasn’t able to get it posted on time. So, I’m running it today. I would say that you could make fun of him for his bone head picks, but as you will see, he might have been the only person in the world to actually pick the Frogs to beat Brazil, and he damn near pegged the England vs. Portugal game perfectly, well, except for the winner. At any rate, here’s some much needed soccer knowledge courtesy of The WAD’s biggest soccer fan and most degenerate gambler:


And then there were eight...

Right now you're probably one of two, or maybe a little of both...
anxiously awaiting the climactic finish of the World Cup, or just hoping
the thing goes away so ESPN can relax with their bombardment of marketing.
While I love soccer, I can say having it shoved down my throat as much as
ESPN does is too much. It seems any goal whatsoever is gauranteed the
number 1 play of the day on SportsCenter. While I initially liked the idea
of impoverished Jose picking his dream team in the backyard, now I'm sick
of the little shit and am hoping one of the players cracks his leg.
Anyway...

First, a few editorial points. In regard to the United States play, well,
it sucked. There are no excuses. It's not that MLS isn't producing talent-
the players who actually showed up for the games are MLS bred and currently
employed. It wasn't entirely the coaching, which was miserable and
definitely deserving of change. It was the leadership that stunk most.
Landon Donovan is a headcase who believes being a star in America means
something to the world. Does he not remember his 2 failed attempts in
Germany, where he barely got any playing time? His pre-cup comments that a
quarterfinal loss to Germany in 2002 was not good enough for the US team
now look absurd. Perhaps a 1-point exit is better, Landon? So you wouldn't
feel fulfilled still playing in Germany this weekend as opposed to being
home? I believe despite players saying the contrary, the US team believe
their #5 ranking and that softened their anger and passion in being the
"underdog".

Second, the sportsmanship in this World Cup has reached new lows. It is
even unbearable to those with love for the game. It makes me sick to see
some of the best talents in the world resorting to diving and acting to
persuade the ref to make game-altering decisions. Time-wasting is normal,
and abuse of the "fair play" (unwritten) rule is awful. FIFA needs to take
a lesson from the NFL and have a ref watching the game in a booth. He could
communicate to the center ref via headset. The field ref can then change
his incorrect decisions. Far from perfect, but an improvement. As for the
"fair play" rule (kicking the ball out of bounds when an opponent goes
down), to hell with it. A one man advantage for a minute at most is rarely
a true advantage in soccer. Let it happen in the first half of a tied game;
when it's crunch time, teams should understand the rule is out the window.

On to the games. There are 8 teams remaining, 7 of which have a serious
chance of winning it all. I really hope I just jinxed the field against the
Ukraine and they pull off the miracle.

Germany vs Argentina

This is a gigantic clash of world powers of soccer. Surely, much camera
time will be given to two former greats who will be in attendence- Diego
Maradona of Argentina, and Franz Beckenbauer of Germany. This clash is like
the Redskins meeting the Raiders in the Superbowl, not only for the
enthusiasm held by each team's fans, but also because neither has been very
strong since 1990. But when they were good, they were really good. This
game will propel either team back into the world's elite few and rekindle
hopes of reclaiming past glory. Who could pick against Argentina, whose
talent is capable of miraculous goals like the one that knocked out Mexico?
Or Germany, the home team, who under Klinnsmann has seemingly scored more
goals than their last 3 world cups combined? This one is going to be a war.
I will say Germany prevails due to the 12th man.

Ukraine vs Italy

Ukraine was my pick to win the group, and I thought they would be nearly
out of the cup after a 4-0 opening loss to Spain. Somehow they've turned it
around, beat a miserable Swiss team in the round of 16, and now face an
Italian team that has looked both mediocre and fantastic at times. Ukraine
has the talent to win this game, but they should expect another refereeing
performance like the Seahawks got. Italy should move on. I'd be real
surprised if the refs don't have something to do with it. I'm not going to
say much more because I like living without my back to the wall all the
time.

England vs Portugal

England has looked average, but has done enough to advance. Portugal much
of the same. There are many big names in this game, but the best one is
Posh Spice. Please show more Posh during the game. I don't care who wins
this game at all. I'll say England in sudden death penalty kicks, after
they go 0-0 for 120 minutes and both miss their first 5. They've proven to
do enough to just get by, and I'd like to see more Posh Spice.

Brazil vs France

Brazil can't lose, can they? The media has already given them the
championship it seems. Yes, they are great- they are the best team on
paper. But all of us know, much like the Bachelor, the best rarely wins.
Did USC beat Texas? No. Did Duke win March Madness? No (ok bear with me I
know 99% of the WAD regulars hate Duke, just roll with it). Did Georgia
Tech win the National Championship under Joe Hamilton? No (c'mon, you know
Joe was the greatest QB in the history of college football- don't lie to
yourself!). And Brazil will not win this World Cup. I don't know if France
will beat them, but they have as good of a shot as anyone. Zidane is still
doing it like Roger Clemens, and my out-on-a-limb prediction is France gets
it done and knocks out the defending champs. Keep in mind, France on home
court in '98 beat Brazil 3-0 in the final.

Semifinals

Germany over Italy
England over France

Final

Germany over England in a game that might consume 5 years worth of Europe's
alcohol supply, end with 6 a side due to red cards, and start another war.

I hope you all enjoyed the World Cup at least a little bit. See you in 4
years.



Many thanks to Stats for all his insights. I hope everybody has an amazing Fourth of July, and I hope you all take a second while you are enjoying your friends and family to reflect and offer thanks to all the men and women stationed around the world diligently and courageously protecting our freedom. None of the things we talk about here on a daily basis would be possible if it weren't for these men and women. God bless them and God bless The United States of America.