Friday, July 31, 2009

The Ballad of Big Phony

It begins with struggle...



"If I test positive by using any kind of banned substance, I'm going to disrespect my family, the game, the fans and everybody," Ortiz said. "And I don't want to be put in that situation. So what I will do, I won't use it. I'm pretty sure everybody is on the same page."

-David Ortiz

"They pick me [to be tested for steroids] every time. I don't know why. I don't know if it's because I'm a big guy, or what, but all I know is all they are going to find is a lot of rice and beans."

- David Ortiz in The Boston Globe

"I don't do that anymore because they don't have the approval for that here, so I know that, so I'm off buying things at the GNC back in the Dominican Republic,” Ortiz told The Boston Herald. He added: "I don't know if I drank something in my youth, not knowing it.”

-David Ortiz, 2007

"I think you clean up the game by the testing. I test you, you test positive, you're going to be out. Period."

- David Ortiz

""Ban 'em for the whole year"."

- David Ortiz, on proven steroid users, in February 2009

But what happens when the juice runs out?

Ladies and gents, the upshot:

And to conclude, a joke!

What's the difference between Ortiz and the two other gentlemen in this picture?

Bush and Cheney may have screwed the country, but Ortiz gave it to himself in the ass! Hey-oooooooooooo!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Seriously, Cleveland?

To give a little taste of what's to come in today's post, check out this quote from Ichiro Suzuki. To clarify, that's Japanese native Ichiro Suzuki, the baseball player living in Seattle, who has only been in America 8 years. Thanks to my friend Spike for sending it along:

"To tell the truth, I'm not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I'm excited going to Cleveland, I'd punch myself in the face, because I'm lying."

Even foreigners have that instinctive anti-Cleveland sentiment. But before I get there, props go out to this man:

That's three stellar games in a row, a feat he he'd yet to accomplish all year. Can we chalk up the early season woes to growing pains? Hard to say, but after 8 innings of shut-out ball against Tampa Bay, it's a tempting conclusion. I listened to last night's game on the radio, thereby missing the usual Joba fanfare: narrow, close-set eyes, the fleshy cheeks that hold both yokel mirth and yokel malice, the flat brim hat pulled ominously low, and the fierce, turbulent outbursts of triumph. But it's somehow easier to envision without the visual aid, and easy to enjoy since the masterful effort came in a crucial rubber game against a division rival. The win leaves Tampa 7.5 games back, and though "anything can happen," the Rays have a long, long road stretching before them.

Interesting aspect of Joba Chamberlain: in almost every game he starts, particulary the successful performances, he either hits or brushes back an opponent with a pitch that looks intentional. Kevin Youkilis is a frequent target, though nobody really knows why. Last night, cruising with the lead, he chose to throw a fastball over Evan Longoria's head, prompting a somewhat-appropriate retaliation from Garza.

It's easy to see Joba as the loveable hick with a goofy grin, but there's an element of cruelty to his game that shouldn't be ignored. And it's the anger that so often propels fastball hurlers to successful careers. Nolan Ryan had it. Clemens had it. Randy Johnson had it. And it's the sort of mean behavior with a random, hidden element, as though it comes from a source too deep (and possibly irrational) for others to pinpoint. For example, I bet Kevin Youkilis doesn't know why Joba targets him specifically. It could be a gesture Kevin made that Joba misinterpreted, or it could be something as indirect as his facial similarity to a different person Joba hated as a kid. In either case, instead of resolving the issue or moving forward, the Yankee fireballer prefers to nurse the grievance, let it fester, and feed off the negative emotions thus engendered. The origin may be false, but the roiling destination is real enough.

Okay. Changing gears, Cleveland served up pitcher Cliff Lee on a silver platter to the defending World Series champs. Lee, whose record is only 7-9, is nonetheless a strong pitcher. His ERA is an impressive 3.14, and many of his losses can be attributed to a struggling Indians offense. In his last three starts, he's 3-0 with two complete games and 4 ER combined. Last year, he won the Cy Young Award, and there's nothing to indicate that he can't be a dominant pitcher this year and well into the future. Aside from Roy Halladay, he was the hottest item on the trade block. So what did Cleveland get from Philly in return? Jack shit. Four minor leaguers, and not even the top three prospects with whom it was thought the Phils would have to part.

Yo. Cleveland. We didn't realize you were giving talent away. As a team that made the playoffs as recently as '07, it seemed like maybe you'd demand a little more than a club like, say, the Pittsburgh Pirates. But since that's not the case, the Yanks would like to let you in on ten offers for Cliff Lee we would've made, had we known the paltry asking rate. Each one surpassed what you wound up pulling from the City of Brotherly Love. They were yours to choose from, Tribe. Damn shame.

Offer 1: Cody Ransom, Ramiro Pena, and two authentic seats from the Old Yankee Stadium.

Offer 2: Cody Ransom, me, and an old-fashioned microphone Lou Gehrig might have used for his "Luckiest Man in the World" speech. (I like to play shortstop.)

Offer 3: Cody Ransom, George Steinbrenner, and Derek Jeter's dad.

Offer 4: Cody Ransom, and the right to have Mariano Rivera wear a Cleveland Indians jock strap when he's inducted into the Hall of Fame. (Jock strap not visible.)

Offer 5: Derek Jeter's dad, Cody Ransom, a free tour of Monument Park, and one-day passes to New York's Bodies Exhibit.

Offer 6: Cody Ransom, the Bronx, and a dozen cream pies officially endorsed by AJ Burnett.

Offer 7: Cody Ransom, Mariano Rivera Hall of Fame jock rights, and a one-time positive quote from Joe Girardi ("I think this team is really building something interesting") right after the next time we sweep you.

Offer 8: Sperm donation from Cody Ransom, Derek Jeter's dad, and your choice of 7 New York Mets.

Offer 9: Cody Ransom's sperm, Jeter's mom, Rivera HoF jock rights, me, and ten dollars for every home your city forecloses in the next calendar year. (Remember: shortstop.)

Offer 10: Ransom Sperm, the Jeter Family Christmas Card (2003), George Steinbrenner, Hal Steinbrenner, Omar Minaya, Spike Lee's documentary "Kobe Doin' Work," an actual body from the Bodies Exhibit, $6.13 in crusted change we found in Nick Swisher's couch, and the weekend bar scene in Midtown Manhattan.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Am Enjoying This Team, Part 2

On to the batters today. It's already 9:30, and I spent the morning waiting for a 5 train in Brooklyn that took 40 minutes to arrive. I had packed a full backpack load, and when I finally boarded, it was so crowded that I couldn't find a place to stand. Eventually I squeezed in between two women (RIGHT, FELLAS?!), but the one behind me kept pushing my backpack in passive-aggressive little shoves, nudging me into the face of the other woman, and also the pole. It forced me to lean back in response. Eventually I may have been a little more "reactive" in my leaning than was strictly necessary, and she began to yell at me to hold my backpack in front and save everyone some room.

I reverted to my usual tactic when people yell at me, which is to let them finish, pause for a couple seconds, and say "sorry? I didn't hear you." This tends to either infuriate or puzzle the yeller, but to the woman's credit she just repeated herself in a calmer voice, and in a nod to civility I humbled myself and carried out her demand. Also, she was probably right about the backpack thing.

Anyway, I got in late to work, so this post will be even more useless than yesterday's. In fact, I'm going to impose a word limit and analyze each player in ten words exactly.

Derek Jeter: Improbably consistent bat for his age, pleasant surprise on D.

Alex Rodriguez: Injury excuse has worn its welcome. Start hitting, you cheat.

Robinson Cano: Enormous offensive talent, spectacular glove, frightened and confused by RISP.

Mark Teixeira: Golden Glove, phenomenal bat, possible MVP, good kind of boring.

Jorge Posada: Steady at the plate, retains youthful power, huge defensive liability.

Johnny Damon: Some power, good average, weak arm, positive year old fella.

Brett Gardner: Hitting trying to catch up with speed, injured, trade bait?

Melky Cabrera: Best clutch hitter, improvement on last year's disaster, trade bait?

Nick Swisher: Fan favorite, good OBP, lacks baseball intelligence, poor in field.

Eric Hinske:
Hit more dingers, johnny-come-lately, johnny-come-lately is just one word, man.

Jose Molina:
Luis Sojo for new generation, defensive genius, needs luck offensively.

Hideki Matsui: Geriatric knees, streaky DH, huge offensive boon when fully focused.

That guy I probably forgot: Stop being such an underachiever, you worthless waste of lfie.

Okay, that's enough for me. Here's a picture:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Am Enjoying This Team

Very much so. Very much so, indeed.

Ten wins in eleven chances since the All-Star Break. First place in the AL East. Best record in the American League. One game behind the Dodgers for best record in baseball. A decisive win against our division rivals last night, and two of our best pitchers lined up to throw the next two. Smile, Yankee Universe. Time for the player by player.

Starting Pitchers

C.C. Sabathia: After a rough start, the Fat Man is living up to his billing as a top tier arm. He hasn't quite justified the money spent, but he's well on the way. Along with his ten wins and improving ERA (down to 3.67), he's eating up innings in typical fashion. Even on a bad day, you're not likely to see CC leave before the 7th; it's only happened four times in twenty-one games. After a mediocre June, he's won three of his last four starts.

A.J. Burnett: Quality starter, maybe the team's best. His ERA is the lowest on the rotation at 3.53, he's won five of his last six starts (the team is 6-0), and aside from occasional control problems, he's excelled at getting out of jams. Currently, he's 8th in the AL in strikeouts. This was money well-spent. The only concern now is a history of injuries that tend to surface around his current innings-pitched mark. We can't afford to lose A.J.

Joba Chamberlain: Improving. Despite the raging debate about sending him back to the bullpen, and the impending innings-limit controversy (they don't want him to throw more than 150 innings this year, a cap that might keep him out of the rotation for the playoffs), and the problematic inconsistency, the numbers are fairly solid. 6-2, 3.86 ERA, 92 strikeouts to 48 walks. In his last two starts, he's been terrific, lasting into the 7th each time, giving up just one earned run, and getting the win. However, he hasn't put three solid starts together all year, so there's something to prove when he takes on Tampa Bay Wednesday. The outlook on Joba can veer from 'potential ace' to 'unreliable fourth starter' in a blink, so the jury's still sequestered. But recent signs are positive.

Andy Pettitte: A workhorse, to his credit, but no more than a slightly above-average fourth starter at this point in his career. He has a history of improving in the second half, but you can't expect this year's surge to be anything more than marginal. He's a serviceable arm who will occasionally have to leave the game in the third or fourth inning. Nothing more, nothing less...expect to see him in a bullpen role when the playoffs come around.

Sergio Mitre/Alfred Aceves: Not fifth starters quite yet. Expect Washburn to come over from Seattle to give our rotation a boost. Still, with Joba approaching his innings limit, one of these two guys might have an extended chance to show something. I'm not holding my breath.

Chien-Ming Wang: Just like last year, recovery is painfully slow. I'm not expecting a return in time to make any impact. Maybe a spot start in September, but that's it.

The Pen

Mariano Rivera: Still the king. How he does it is beyond me. The man is 39. But he's got 29 saves with only one blown chance, a 2.11 ERA (lowest on the staff except for Nick Swisher), opponents are batting under .200 against him, he averages a strikeout per inning, and his WHIP is 0.82. It's easy to take Mariano for granted, but, if you're a Yankee fan, don't. The greatest reliever of all time is still great.

Phil Hughes: Working on a record scoreless innings streak. He's been a dynamo out of the pen, a season saver, and you can point to his success as a prime reason why the Yanks have shot into first place. The 8th inning is currently on lockdown, and Hughes has been so nasty that it's almost inconceivable he'll return to the starting rotation this season. Don't mess with a good thing.

Alfredo Aceves: Fantastic. Before a small meltdown in last week's Oakland game, you couldn't find any fault. His ERA is 2.89, his WHIP is an excellent 1.01, and he's usually solid in the pressure moments. His success has made him Girardi's third option in the pen, which, like Hughes, makes him unlikely to stray into a starter's role.

Phil Coke: Lefty specialist with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. Lefties bat .190 against him, with a .209 OBP. His strikeout to walk ratio is a very strong 7.67. Against righties, meanwhile, he hasn't been terrible, so he's also a viable option for a full inning. But as the season wears on pressure situations mount, expect to see him primarily against fellow southpaws. He's a perfect fit for this bullpen.

Brian Bruney: Girardi made a brilliant move Sunday to give Bruney a key out in the 8th inning against the As. Before his injury, he was a fireballer who owned the 8th. Since then, he's been shaky at best, and Hughes supplanted him in the set-up role. But nobody's given up on him, least of all Girardi, and he could still be an important piece in the postseason relief puzzle.

David Robertson: Long relief in blow-outs. No more, no less until proven otherwise, and he's not proving otherwise.

Melancon/Ramirez/Marte: No thanks.

Jonathan Albaladejo: See you in Scranton!

Offense tomorrow...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Here Come the Dog Days

Sometime yesterday, shirtless and lazy on my couch, listening to the sputtering cough of a useless air conditioner, I realized that summer, in all its glowering swelter, had finally come knocking. The decisive change in the air swiftly erased the memories of June's rain and July's surprising moderation. We can be grateful that the misery came late, but gratitude will be hard to summon in the next six weeks. Instead, as sweat droplets trace their way down fevered foreheads, we can look forward to endless procrastination and anxiety concerning such impossible feats as the one block trek to the laundromat.

That the hellish epoch runs concurrently with a depressing nadir in sporting activity (no tennis until late August, all the fun golf tournaments over, football still a month away, basketball a distant memory, and only baseball's dullest month to carry us through...) seems something less than coincidental. This is a time of punishment, especially for someone like me, of Northern European descent, who evolution has damned to wilt under conditions of extreme heat. I won't be in a good mood again until sometime in mid-September, when my short, thick hair stops feeling like one of those scorching perm helmets old women go under at the salon, the office dress code requiring pants feels less like a capitalist torture mandate, and a beautiful woman in a skirt becomes something to desire, rather than envy. It should come as no surprise that our society mimics the weather, offering no respite, no buoy in the stifling sea.

Other than all that, though, I'm happy. The Yankees closed out their home stand with a 9-1 record, gaining 5.5 games on the Red Sox since the All-Star break, and rising to the top of the American League. I don't have a ton of perspective to offer on this surge, other than to repeat some mantras from the past few weeks. First, I think we're here to stay. This team plays excellent baseball against the dregs of the league, as they should. And we'll obviously fare better against Boston and LA in the second half (it can't be much worse). I also stand by my prediction that the Sox are about to find themselves in the midst of a two-month dogfight* to win the Wild Card, and will eventually lose.

*I'm trying to set a record in this post for "dog" words and phrases that have nothing to do with actual dogs.

I'll have more to offer tomorrow. Yesterday afternoon, in a desperate attempt to cool down and curb the depression of Sunday evening, I had two beers while writing. It didn't help, and now I have an improbable, almost obscene miniature hangover. Aspirin didn't do the trick, and work wouldn't be too pleased if I resorted to the hair of the dog. So I'm going to sign off now and suffer in silence. The following song, called "I Don't Like Mondays," was written by an Irish band called Boomtown Rats about a San Diego teenage girl who shot up a schoolyard in the late 70s. When they asked her why she did it, she said "I don't like Mondays." They wouldn't play this song on US radio for a long time, even though it became a #1 single in the UK, and it still isn't played in the San Diego area. The actual video doesn't allow embedding, but you can watch it here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bonus Post: Top 5 Greatest Defensive Play Ever?

Don't miss today's real post below, but I'd be remiss not mentioning this spectacular play by Dewayne Wise (a defensive replacement, no less...well done, Ozzie) in yesterday's White Sox-Rays game.

As to the tile, considering the cirumstances, I say yes.

The situation: White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle is perfect through 8 innings. In the ninth, with no outs, Gabe Kapler steps to the plate.

Buehrle went on to finish the perfect game, the 17th in modern baseball history. Well done, Wise.

I Am the Realest Fan in the World

Since other baseball teams can't stop the Yanks lately, ole Mama Nature tried her best. Last night's game was delayed two hours and forty minutes before the Bombers waged waged merciless warfare on their west coast brethren, finally triumphing 6-3 sometime past midnight. Rain be damned, y'all.

(Lowlight of my blog so far? You could make a strong case...)

My pal Emily and I arrived around 6:40, and saw on the jumbotron that the game was delayed. We checked out Monument Park, two Yankee Stores, and the Hall of Champions. My usual trick when going to the Stadium is to buy a cheap ticket, then find an empty seat in a nice section. On the field level, attendants check everyone who enters in a concerted effort to keep the rabble away from the high muckety-mucks. They even built a sort of moat structure, minus the water and alligators, to protect the really, really expensive area.

But there's ways around these barricades for folks in the know. My usual trick is to hold my crappy ticket in the air, look in the attendant's eye, and say "hey, I was just here." Often, they'll just nod and wave you through, and if they prove assiduous and check your ticket, you can just feign confusion and move to the next section. It never takes long to beat the system.

Classy, right? Even more classy is realizing that a female companion is a specific advantage, and having zero qualms about using her for your own benefit. I thought Emily would be the perfect weapon to score really, really good seats, so around 7, before we knew the extent of the delay, I led her to the field level in right, where we could be front and center for Swisher's antics. I schooled her in the tactics of the seat jumper, told her to smile, and assured her it would be easy.

It was not. Emily got really, really nervous. Inordinately nervous. The kind of nervous that a political prisoner trying to escape a dictatorship might feel, where he knows certain death accompanies failure. At the first section we tried, the attendant waved us down without checking the tickets. I call this "the perfect scenario," and when it happens you quickly jettison the rest of your strategy and stroll gratefully to the seats.

But Emily was so tense that she stopped in her tracks, stuck doggedly to the plan, and said "we were just here." The words sounded like they were spoken by an amateur commercial actor reading a teleprompter. Again, this happened after we'd been waved down. She also ceased her progress entirely, a cardinal sin of the trade. Rule number 1 is to always, always keep moving unless someone specifically directs you to halt. Act like you've been there. Faced with a girl holding out her ticket, the attendant had no choice but to check, see that we owned nosebleed seats, and send us packing.

I tried my best at consolation, and assured her it would go easier in the next section. But when we got ready to make our approach, I could actually feel the fear emanating from her general vicinity. It's a bit like standing too close to a downed power line. She turned to me with a sort of strained look and tried hard to smile. I felt like an overbearing father who kept trying to make his kid hit a baseball, and the kid wants really badly to succeed and earn your approval, but when you're not looking he hums show tunes and uses the bat as a theatrical cane. A combination of resignation and guilt ran through me. "You don't have to do it," I said, and I may as well have been a stern traffic court judge letting her off with a warning. I think she skipped. Then we learned the delay might be as long as two hours, so we toured the stadium.

Eventually we went to our upper deck seats, because I'd never been there and wanted to see what things looked like from on high. Answer: pretty cool. Not a great place to watch a game, but the combined view of the Stadium, field, and city is a sight to behold. We hung out until a mentally disabled man began to leer a little too specifically at Emily, then moved on. At 9, they announced the game would start in forty minutes, the remaining fans cheered, and I used my skills to secure us close seats between home and first.

So if anyone wants to question my fanhood ever again, remember this: I waited without complaint through a two and a half hour rain delay, enduring wet clothes and an uncertain future, and stayed well past midnight to watch every single pitch.

And I did it with a girl. Who chose to wear flip flops, for some reason, and kept complaining about the cold.

Actually, Emily was a sport. And so was Teixeira. He hit a no-doubt home run and an RBI double, made a couple nice defensive plays, and was the beneficiary of Emily's first Yankee crush.

That's seven in a row for the Bombers. Have a great weekend, keep safe.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2 Sweeps, 2 Games Up

That's 6 in a row for the Bombers, as AJ dominated for 7 innings to earn his 9th victory of the year in a 6-4 win. Baltimore, like Detroit before them, exit the Bronx by way of the broom. Down in Tejas, the Lone-Star boys completed their own sweep, and now Boston sits 2 back in the East. Oakland tries their luck with the Yanks over the weekend, and I'll be at the Stadium tonight to watch the Fat Man mow 'em down.

Yesterday, my friend Brian and I had a chat. This 'chat' mostly consisted of me pointing out Boston's shortcomings, and refreshing him on the current state of the standings. Brian is a die-hard Red Sox fan, one of the unfortunate ones who grew up in the state of New York, and he became so enraged by my gloating that he offered a $50 bet on the Division. That is, if the Yanks take it, I win the bet, if the Sox take it, he wins. I jumped at the chance, of course, so now it's official, and officially subject to the SCSD jinx.

Even if I win, though, I'll still owe Brian a lot of money because of a very stupid bet I made freshman year of college. Swathed in the arrogance of 26 World Championships, bolstered by decades of Red Sox futility, I made the bold statement that Boston would not win a World Series in my lifetime. Brian asked me if I'd like to put $500 on that, and I agreed. Then we realized the nature of the bet required me to be dead before I could receive payment. I suggested that he give the money to my family, or will it to me in the case of his death, but instead we settled on a 50-year period. The final terms looked like this:

I stood to gain: $500, not before 2051, if the Red Sox win zero World Series in that time period. Will not collect payment before age 71, if still living. Otherwise, money paid to family.

Brian stood to gain: $500, any year, if the Red Sox win just one World Series before 2051. In case of premature death, money will be remitted to family upon Red Sox victory.

Obviously not the smartest bet I've ever made (although there's something badass about a bet that involves death), even before the 2004 disaster. So I have an outsanding $480 debt to Brian (I won $20 betting on the NBA playoffs this year), and sometimes I wonder if my life has turned into a fable, and the money is like some kind of curse hanging over me, preventing me from reaching my full potential until it's paid off. Not that life is ruinous, mind you, but maybe the minute the reckoning is squared, I'll be vaulted into the high reaches of humanity. Stands to reason, yeah?

I'm pretty sure Brian thinks I'll never pay, but I fully intend to do so at some ceremonial moment when our paths cross. Anyway, the point is that even if the Yanks win the division, I'll still owe him $430. So there's not a ton of risk for him. Or me either, really. The difference between $430 and $520 doesn't seem overly consequential to me.

But them's the stakes. And I like my chances, a lot, provided the Red Sox don't pull a tremendous and unlikely coup by landing Doc Halladay. In that case, things get a wee bit dicey. It probably would have been wise to wait a week before accepting the bet, but they don't call me rash because my skin's blotchy. I got nice skin.

Not much more to say today, so I'll sign off. Tomorrow's post will be a report from the Stadium. Pray for sunshine, Yankee Nation. The only one who can stop us now is mother nature.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sole Possession: The New Yankee Cologne

Quick one today. First, before getting to the good news, I want to make a quick diversion to Monday's Brewers-Pirates game. The headline on ESPN happened to catch my eye, and it turned out they had a bench-clearing brawl prompted by a hit batter. Anyway, Milwaukee catcher Jason Kendall got into it with the Pirates pitching coach, Joe Kerrigan, before being held back and calmed down. No big deal, except it led to one of the funniest paragraphs I've ever read on ESPN. Here it is, from the recap:

"I was fine until [Kerrigan] started yelling at me," said Kendall, who kept intentionally mispronouncing Kerrigan's name. "I can take a lot, but I'm not going to get yelled at."

This stopped me in my tracks at work, and I started laughing out loud. People often claim to have laughed out loud by themselves at something, and 99% of the time they're probably lying. Laughter is a social function, and if the rest of humanity is anything like me, humor experienced alone is more often appreciated than laughed at. In that sense, the abbreviation "lol" is the biggest lie going. Of all the times "lol" has been typed, I bet it's been factual less than 10% of the time, and that's a conservative estimate. Harmless, sure, but purely by the numbers it must take the crown as society's most wide-spread deception.

But I swear to you, that preceding paragraph produced a shocked exhalation followed by a steady cackle. "Kendall kept intentionally mispronouncing Kerrigan's name." Maybe it's because adults acting with flagrant immaturity is hilarious to me. The scene in "The Royal Tenenbaums" where Royal calls Henry "Coltrane," and then immediately denies having done it, always cracks me up.

I don't know much about Jason Kendall, but he just rocketed up to my top ten favorite athletes. How do you think he mispronounced "Kerrigan." Was it as simple, and stupid, as "Kerry-gan" instead of "Kerr-ih-gan"? Maybe he just delved into absurdity and chose "Kerr-EYE-gan." This should have been clarified in the article.

Regardless, classic move by Kendall. Whatever thought process led him to think he was totally dissing Kerrigan by mangling his last name in the interview is a mental train I'd like to ride. It's funny if it was ironic, it's funny if it was choleric, it's funny if it was corny. You're okay in my book, Kendall. Here's a picture of you probably grabbing your balls.

On to the Yanks. I watched yesterday's game, and I need to make a quick mention of YES announcer Ken Singleton. Michael Kay gets most of the broadcasting press, both positive and negative, since he's such a large personality, but Singleton has quietly become a terrific presence in the booth. A former All-Star and World Series champion, he brings the perfect balance of professionalism, experience, and humility to the job, always on the mark with the player's perspective, but never overshadowing the game. His voice is an easy-going baritone well suited to the smooth, slow pace of a baseball game.

He's also very intelligent, and not in the bombastic style of Kay. Yesterday, after a discussion of the travel times teams in baseball faced, he paused. "I've got a question for you, Michael," he said. "I've always would our country be different if it was discovered from west to east? How do you think it would've affected America's psyche?"

Obviously, this is not a topic you'll typically encounter during a baseball game. But you know what? It's a really fucking good question. Unanswerable, of course, but as far as food for thought goes, it's pretty fascinating. It's little philosophical departures like this that make me love Singleton. I enjoy knowing that he ruminates about these subjects in his free time, and isn't afraid to broach them on air. Of course, Kay's pithy response was "well, I think the Dodgers would be here in New York." It was typical Kay; clever, dismissive, funny, and obnoxious. It also shifted the focus right to his wheelhouse: himself. Singleton laughed, and the topic was dropped.

Anyway, here's to you Ken. I hope you're around for the next thirty years.

The Yanks are in first! The Yanks are in first! I won't make the outright prediction that we'll hold it for the rest of the year, but barring serious injuries, it'll be damn hard to wrench it from our grasp. This is a quality club with a quality manager and a superb bullpen.

Afternoon game today, which always makes work easier to bear. AJ Burnett, hot of late, goes up against Oriole pitcher Jason Berken, sporting a 1-7 record to complement his 6.44 ERA. Needless to say, we should complete the sweep with ease, and needless to say, this is a trap game. It always seems like these 'sure things' never quite work out like they should on paper. But Go Yanks!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Score a Run, Score Another: Two to One is Fun, My Brother

For the third straight game, the Yanks beat their opponent by a 2-1 score. This time, Godzilla got the walk-off jack and a pie in the face for good measure.

Boston dropped their third straight, and we've achieved another first place tie in the AL East. With Baltimore and Oakland filling this week's schedule, my guess is that we'll stay on top for a while, possibly the rest of the year. I brought this up yesterday, and I'll repeat it now: Boston is in trouble. They're 8-0 against the Yankees, which means that against all other opponents, the Yanks have been 8 games better. That's a pretty dramatic disparity. Of course, 8-0 is dramatic too, but even Boston fans will concede that the likelihood of a second half repeat is infinitesimal. If the trend continues, their playoff hopes are in serious jeopardy.

The question is, which team could sneak up and steal the wild card? I don't see any AL Central team making the leap. The Texas Rangers are lasting longer than anyone thought, but their second half schedule is tough and I don't think their rotation is strong enough to hold up during the home stretch. That leaves one team, Tampa Bay, last year's AL Champion. If they can put together a strong July and August, win the head-to-head games against Boston, and hold their own against the Yanks, I like them to maneuver their way into the 4th playoff spot.

Back to the good guys. What do these 2-1 wins mean? Two things. Let's start with the bad news:

*We're not stringing together big innings. We're not hitting well with men on base. Opportunities to manufacture runs the old fashioned way go begging. Five solo home runs have accounted for almost our entire offense the last three days, and other than Verlander on Saturday, the pitchers haven't been spectacular.

Last night, Baltimore's David Hernandez had over 50 pitches after two innings. We loaded the bases and came close to scoring in the first, and Hinske hit a solo blast in the second. We were on pace to knock him out of the game by the fifth inning; all that remained was to maintain plate discipline, work him over, and beat up on the Oriole long relief. But impatience undermined us, as it often does. He got through the third and fourth on less than twenty pitches, and ended up throwing only 103 through six innings. That allowed the Os to bring in their stronger set-up men and bypass the pen's below average arms. Instead of an easy win, it took two brilliant defensive plays and a Matsui walk-off in the bottom of the ninth to secure the game.

This is an all too familiar pattern. And while it results in six innings and 103 pitches from David Hernandez, a similar approach against Beckett will engender a complete game shutout. But with consistent patience, and improvement from A-Rod and Robbie Cano, we'd streak past the paper tiger stage and advance right to juggernaut.

*On to the good news: the pitching is unbelievable. The starters are great, sure, but Joba and Andy have a lot to prove before we consider their strong outings anything more than a fluke. But the bullpen...oh my, the bullpen. From the seventh inning on, I'm willing to call our relievers the best in baseball. Coke, Hughes, Aceves, and Mariano are studs, and it's to the point that if our starters can give six strong innings, it's lights out in the Bronx. I love it. We're now 10-0 on the year when tied after seven innings. Mariano has blown just one save. Phil Hughes is looking like Joba circa 2007. You can't underestimate the importance of the bullpen, and our progress this year has been spectacular.

That being said, a good bullpen can't make up for poor starting. I have full confidence in CC and AJ, but Joba needs to show mental consistency, and Andy is a fourth starter at best. Where does that leave us? In uncertain territory, to be sure. We could really, really use Halladay. And everyone else in the league can say the same. In fact, any contender who picks up the Toronto ace probably becomes the immediate World Series favorite. It's certainly true for New York and Boston, along with both LA teams and, to a lesser extent, Philly. Over the next ten days, the Yanks need to take a hard look at Roy, and make sure that if he doesn't come here, he goes somewhere in the NL.

That's it for today. I'm besotted with the remnants of last night's Nyquil, and I don't have my fastball. Bring in Hughes to face the rest of Tuesday.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stewart Cink Has No Class

"This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose."

-Shakespeare, Sonnet 64

"I heard it from a friend:
The revolution never happened."

-Alec Ounsworth

18th hole. Tom Watson, the oldest man in the world, needs only par to win the last British Open ever played. Over seven million people crowd the course. In fevered tones, they root on the aged warrior, who hobbles down the fairway with the aid of two canes. Suicide cults have sprung up, along with self-flagellating Christian sects and self-immolating Buddhist monks. Only the profound, unthinkable triumph can becalm this pervasive chaos. Stewart Cink, the 19 year-old leather-clad convicted purveyor of apocalypse, has clawed his way to -2, but it's still one off the lead. A simple green-holding iron from time's impregnable darling will secure the legendary victory. Failing that, an accurate chip. Failing that, a ten-foot putt. A breathless hush comes over the world, and the wrinkled, weathered skin of Tom Watson sinks further from its taut origins as the ball fades away from the hole. A lonely child stands on a distant berm, holding a sign: "When There's Nothing Left to Burn, You Have to Set Yourself on Fire."

I wrote that last paragraph from memory, so my apologies if there are any inaccuracies or exaggerations. But sweet, sweet, sweet Lord, that was close to being one of the greatest sporting moments ever. And that, for once, is not hyperbole. As Mr. Watson himself said, "it was almost a hell of a story."

The old man came up short. Get crushed, hopeful hearts.

It shouldn't have gone to the playoff. Those extra four holes were an unraveling, a needless torture, wilting humiliation. It was a little like watching a man who slept with your wife beat the crap out of your grandfather. Betrayal, pointless anger, and cruelty bordering on the absurd. More than that, it was concession to time and age. The kind it hurts to see.

I know I should appreciate the ride, be thankful that for 72 holes the 59 year-old Watson thrilled the hell out of everyone. But at the end, this is my least favorite golf tournament ever. It was even worse than watching the Euros clean our clocks in Ryder Cups '04 and '06. Great for Cink, I guess (the title of this post is a joke), but I'm feeling an emotional letdown. The longer Watson held the lead, the more everyone allowed themselves to believe. If life and Shakespeare teach us anything, it's that over-investment is a risky business. Yesterday, we got scorched.

Oh well. My friend Kyle came up with a great idea, which is to have an "Old Tom Watson" theme party. It'll be cathartic, and give us a sense of closure. We'll be dressing conservatively, being polite to girls, and demonstrating quiet humility. Plus, old man's make-up and golf spikes.

Hey, the Yankees recovered nicely. Sweep of Detroit, and we're one back of Boston. Here's a crazy prediction: if the Red Sox don't get Halladay, they won't make the playoffs. Yanks win the division, Tampa Bay sneaks by for the Wild Card. Count it or don't. I'm out to reflect.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Met Nick Swisher...

...and it was as awesome as you might imagine.

(Alert: I have a photo with Nick, but since I forgot my digital camera at home, I had to buy on the of the disposable ones from CVS. It's currently being developed, and I should have a digital cd copy by about 11:30. Hopefully I can upload then, and hopefully I don't look like a total douche. But then again, that'd be hilarious too. Oh, and the whole jinx thing? Monday, I swear.

Update: I have the photo! See below!)

My friend Larry and I found the AT&T store at about 5:30, and there was a decent-sized line coiling around the inside. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the people were my age or older, and it wasn't just a stream of little kids. I expressed that sentiment to the guy on my left, and he said "it's nothing bad."

I wanted to hug him. You're right, man, it's nothing bad. Swisher is only two years older than me, but we're all just fans, and screw it. Life is good. Then I did try to hug him, and things got weird.

Not really. But after about ten minutes, Swish came out from his bathroom break, and the place started applauding. He beamed in all his mohawk glory, waved to us, and moved across the room in that trademark jaunty style. The line started moving. Everyone got to shake his hand, say a few words, get an autographed whatever, and take a photo.

Swish was nice all around. He spoke with the girls a little longer. The fans generally were kinda shy when they got close, although some were weirdly demanding ("yo man, sign this picture for me," said one guy, without shaking his hand) and some were more confident.

Here's where it got dicey for me. Going in, I had this pretty crazy idea that could definitely have backfired in a big way. For the past two years, my stepfather, his brother, and my cousin have done this thing called the "Masters Pool." We each pick ten golfers, and the winner is the person whose players have the most combined prize money when the tournament ends. Fair enough. Last year, my cousin ordered a trophy to be presented to the winner, and it's a sweet little statue of an Indian chief wearing a huge headdress and defiantly holding a war lance. On the plinth, it says "Cigar Store Indian Masters Pool Champion." The inside joke here is that someone (I think my stepfather) once compared Joe Torre to a cigar store Indian, because he sat in the dugout without moving or changing his stony expression.

So. The trophy is pretty awesome, and I've had this idea for a while that whoever holds it each year should treat it like a traveling gnome. If it was photographed with celebrities, athletes, etc., it could become an icon and accrue the weight of legend. I have the trophy this year, and since my cousin loves Swisher, and predicted that he'd be an awesome personality about two months before the season started, and because my stepfather kinda hates him, I thought it would be a hilarious idea to get a picture with Swish holding the trophy.

That took me two paragraphs to explain, which is about two minutes reading out loud, and in this blog I have the benefit of editing for clarification. But standing in line at the AT&T store, holding the little gold and black figurine, I wondered to myself how the hell I was going to pitch this to Swish. I definitely didn't have time to explain the whole story, and if I short-changed it, there was a chance he'd read the inscription and be like "what the hell does golf have to do with me?" Then I'd start stuttering and Swisher would hate me and I wouldn't be allowed at Yankee games anymore.

I'd outlined the situation to Larry beforehand, and when we were about ten people away, I asked him if I should go through with it. Instead of providing encouragement, he said " could be a little weird." I hesitated, then realized he was right and put the trophy back in my backpack. My turn came, I shook Swisher's hand politely, didn't say much, got an autograph, and was on my way. Today I feel full of regret.

Oh, wait a second...


Three people away, I said screw it. I'm doing this thing come hell or high water. By hook or by crook. I took the trophy back out, steeled my nerves, and turned my brain off. At that point, Larry actively tried to discourage me. "Are you seriously going through with this?" he asked with an audible grimace, as though it would somehow embarrass him. "Yup," I said, full of the deranged confidence of someone about to make a huge mistake. In Larry's defense, I think his impulse was a protective one. I didn't even plan what I was going to say. It had all the ingredients of a disaster, but when my turn came, I pulled out one of the clutchest social performances of my life (and believe me, there aren't many to pick from).

I walked up to the table, Swish flashed that big smile, and we shook hands. "It's been awesome having you on the team," I said.

"Thanks man!" Then he started signing one of the pile of photos. I took a deep breath, and launched into my explanation. Here's how it went, more or less word for word.

"Hey, this is really goofy, but this little trophy is kind of a family icon. We pass it on every year, and everyone in my family really thinks you're great. If you could hold the trophy for the photo, they'd probably go nuts."

Without hesitation, he laughed, said "absolutely. Let's do it." He took the trophy, gave a giant, toothy grin and an enthusiastic thumbs-up (couldn't have been more perfect). Then he pointed at the trophy and the woman took the photo. Everybody in line laughed, and somehow it worked out really well. We shook hands again, I wished him luck, he said goodbye, and now I consider Nick Swisher the greatest human being in the world.

Honestly, I realize there's something verging on pathetic in this account. Everybody in the store felt like a little kid again. We laughed at all his jokes, everyone was happy, and it felt cool to be a Yankee fan. But from a cynic's perspective, there may be a faint taste of cringe-worthy hero-worship on the periphery of the story. Which is generally why I like to leave my favorite athletes and artists alone. But you know what? Screw it. I have a hilarious picture with Nick Swisher, and he turned out to be a legitimately nice guy. No apologies on this end. I'll try to post the picture later.

Update: here it is. Appropriately, I look like I'm an overgrown ten year-old meeting his idol. Something went wrong with the camera, and only 6 pictures were rescued from the 26 exposures. Luckily, this was one.

Now, before I say goodbye for the weekend, it's time for a new segment on this blog. It's called "Answering Fan Mail." This morning I received a note in my inbox from "Tyler Price." Here's the message in its entirety:


My name is Tyler and I’m working with, part of CSN Stores, to identify successful bloggers that may be interested in working on a great opportunity together. I love your site and I am interested in either contributing a guest post, helping create a product review, or hosting a giveaway on your site using CSN Stores great selection that can spruce up anyone’s home. Thank you for your time and I look forward to continuing our conversation if you are interested in learning more!

Take Care,

Dear Tyler,

Thank for your kind e-mail. As you've correctly ascertained, the true 'crux' of my blog, beyond the nominal theme of sports, is the glorious item we Americans call 'the desk.' This outstanding piece of furniture is the vital, pulsating force behind every word I write. I would be thrilled to have you pen a guest post here on Seth Curry Saves Duke! about your business. In fact, I can't imagine a better cross-promotional opportunity. Question: do you do erotic prose about desks? Because I'd be completely okay with that. If you don't, can I 'spruce up' your guest post with some of my own?

As to your second request, what sort of product review would we be creating? Would I be reviewing one of your desks? If so, be forewarned: I'm a huge desk fan, and it's difficult for me to write an objective review of any desk without sounding like a total fanboy. What can I say? Show me something wooden that I can sit behind while using a computer, and I'm like a blubbering idiot. But I'll try anything once. How 'hardcore' do you like your reviews? My reviewing range is anywhere from 'pretty hardcore' to 'fucking sick.'

Moving on, a giveaway would be fantastic. But the people who read this blog are unappreciative drooling jocks who wouldn't know a sleek desk if it landed in their trailer. Most of them sit on sports-themed foam chairs, and do their work on coffee tables. Tyler, I hate coffee tables. So would it be cool if for the giveaway, you just gave me a free desk?

Finally, I do have a couple stipulations before we go through with any of this. First, I would like to be paid three thousand dollars tax-free. Second, I want permission to come to your store for one day and advertise my blog to your customers. But I don't want any restrictions about how I advertise my blog. You dig?

Thanks for the e-mail Tyler. God bless you.

-Seth Curry Saves Duke!

Have a good weekend, friends.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Blessing and a Curse

Time for a self-referential post, which is a reliable indicator that this blog is Jumping the Shark. Nevertheless, I'm going to take a hard look at my posts, and determine whether there's a Seth Curry Saves Duke! jinx at play. But before I get into that, a quick piece of news:

I may go meet Nick Swisher today.

I'm not someone who generally enjoys trying to blur the line between fan and celebrity. I don't have a burning desire to meet athletes or artists I really admire, and that's mostly because I can't imagine they'll possibly enjoy meeting me. The worst part of being famous has to be dealing with the fans, especially if you're not the kind of person who sought out fame for its own end. So I'm not in the market to waste their valuable time.

I remember in college hanging around by a back entrance after a concert because a couple friends of mine really wanted to meet Ben Folds. He finally emerged, and was really gracious to everyone, but there was a definite aura of obligation surrounding the whole thing. Like 'this is how I'm supposed to conduct myself as a famous musician so people don't think I'm a complete asshole.' And it makes total sense; why would Ben Folds care to have a brief conversation and take a picture with me? He already knows I appreciate his art, since I bought a ticket and attended his show. And I already know he appreciates me, because he got on stage and kicked ass. That should be enough.

After that, I've never tried to score face-time with my 'idols.' The closest I came was when I went to see Wes Anderson give a talk during the New York Film Festival in 2007. Afterward, they set up a table and you could line up to say hello. If there's one human being in the world for whom I'd sacrifice my dignity in exchange for a ten-second chat, it's the director of 'The Royal Tenenbaums' and 'Rushmore' and 'Bottle Rocket.' Still, I held off. I still want to meet Wes, but I want it to be on my own terms. (That sounded creepy.)

Oh, and one other time before a DMB show in 2003 (yeah, yeah, make your was college, his stuff was good in the 90s, and the shows were a blast) I was looking for my friend, and Dave came out the side door of the venue. It shocked me so much that I blurted out "hey Dave!" He turned, waved, said "hey man," and got on his bus. Then I broke down crying and asked God to take me from this Earth while I stood upon my personal mountaintop.

Allllll that being said, I might go against my principles today. For those who don't know, Swisher is new to the Yanks this year, and he's a complete goofball. He plays right field, bats around .250, and walks a lot. Because Yankees aren't allowed to grow facial hair, he shaved his head into a mohawk. One of the best moments of the year so far was when Girardi brought him in to pitch an inning of relief. You can check out the video and read about his antics in this post. In the picture below, you can see the strange, vaguely rock-star/cunnilingual celebration he and Johnny Damon do all the time:

Here's some other stuff, copied and pasted from a tape-delay blog I did, that makes him sound like an okay guy:

8:48: Swisher steps up as the tying run. By the way, you may have noticed that Swish looks to the sky conspicuously before every pitch. Here’s the story, from the NY Daily News:

Betty Swisher died of brain cancer on Aug. 14, 2005, and Swisher's beloved grandfather, Donald, died last November. Both are a part of his daily life, though, in part through a series of baseball rituals that any Yankee fan has probably noticed.

He has both of their initials scrawled on the bottom of the handle of all his bats and he usually kisses that spot before he goes to the plate. Then he looks upward to recognize them again.

"A lot of people ask me if I'm looking up at the sky, but the one thing that really helped me get through the tough times of losing those two were to give them the best seats in the house," Swisher says. "In my mind, that's the top of the stadium. At Yankee Stadium, it's actually the top of the Megatron (scoreboard screen), so I visualize them sitting there, watching me play. I know they're cheering for me. I just wish they could be here in person to see all this.

He also has his grandmother’s initials tattooed across his chest, and plans to get his grandfather’s on his back in the offseason.

Swish also gets thrown out on the bases a lot, since he has a proclivity to try and stretch singles into doubles, and he's been known to go on long cold streaks at the plate. But in my mind, his personality more than makes up for all his shortcomings. And, ultimately, I think it would be hilarious to have a picture with him.

So the deal is this: he's hanging out at the AT&T store at the Empire State Building from 4-6, presumably signing autographs and being chummy. I'd probably have to wait in line with a lot of parents bringing their kids, and a smattering of insane fully grown fans who have a sad collection of Yankee mugs and crippling social anxiety. But man, in my head that picture is like a holy grail. I can't imagine it not being awesome and timeless.

Wow, I just wrote a lot about maybe meeting Nick Swisher. Obviously the jinx stuff will have to wait for tomorrow, which is fine since it saves me from having to come up with a new idea, and it probably saves you from reading another zany character post by someone named "The Addled 90-Year Old Sports Nut with Psoriasis," or something. Until then, here's a picture of Nick Swisher getting his soul patch painted pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Yankees Have Homefield Advantage in the World Series

Hurrah! Thank you, Carl Crawford.

And thank you, Mariano, for your record-breaking 4th save in an All-Star Game. Make no mistake: the world knows your name.

Full disclosure: I didn't catch the game last night, as I attended a free New York Philharmonic concert in the park. They were playing symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven, two dudes who have both been called "the Mariano Rivera of classical music." So if you were on the fence about my sports cred, you can now jump off on the side of the angry mobs.

To further cripple the situation, today's post will be like the stale crumbs you find in your pocket when you fancy the big eat. Tomorrow should be more fun, though; I'm undertaking an exhaustive investigation of the so-called "Seth Curry Saves Duke jinx." I'll go post by post and determine whether an appearance in this blog is greater parts curse or benediction.

Now, I have to prepare an e-mail to justify the impending banishment of styrofoam cups from my office. It may sound awful, but these little notes amuse me to no end. Taking a miniscule issue and transforming it into an extremely severe mandate is the chief pleasure afforded to me here in my little space. If you don't think I'll be using some stern, almost-militaristic language entirely unsuited for workplace discourse, reverse your ideas. Oh, trifling power! Welcome to my world of sad, private jokes.

Enough. All else is dragging of the feet, and I tarry no further. Make Wednesday your friend, then drive it someplace the authorities would never guess.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Get Braced, World: I Have a New Team

It's an exciting day in the SCSD realm. Late in life, long after I thought such things were possible, I have a new team- a new allegiance to preserve, new triumphs to behold, new agonies to endure. But before I get there, some quick thoughts on the Home Run Derby.

I came in from a long walk a little after 9pm last night, and the Derby had been going on for at least forty-five minutes. I put the tv on mute so I could finish up some work, and when I tuned back in for the final round, it was almost 11. To me, the Derby has always been a bit of a bore, and I couldn't fathom many ways for ESPN to make it worse. But having it last two and a half hours was a surefire bet.

That's longer than some actual baseball games. And to make matters worse, they utilized some kind of "ball tracker" technology, which amounted to a twitchy yellow graphic following each home run's trajectory. Not only was it ugly and unnecessary; on any really high fly, it disappeared for the majority of the arc and came back for a brief, comic moment before the landing. Ahhh, the future!

And then big Prince took the plate, and bashed his six home runs to end the night. When he hit the winning shot, you could hear a group of kids cheering on ESPN's microphones, and then they mobbed him at the plate. Fielder jumped up and down with them, and his teammate Braun joined the celebration. It was actually a pretty great moment. When it died down, the kids took turns wiping Fielder's sweaty head with their towels, and that continued long after he was dry. They just wanted a chance to touch their hero. Yeah, you had to wait all night to see it, but that scene alone almost redeemed the Derby.

Okay. Onto the big news. My friend Kyle and I got down to a bit of talking yesterday, and we realized neither of us really had an allegiance to a college football team. It's one of my favorite sports, but life hasn't blessed me with a firm loyalty to any single school. My father got his masters at Syracuse, and a lineman from my high school became their captain when I was young, so I rooted for the Orange intermittently. My stepfather was a Notre Dame fan, so I pulled for them at times, too. But neither had a strong tug at my heartstrings, at least enough to take hold. And now they both stink.

Then I went to Duke, where opposing fans routinely outnumbered our supporters at home games, and success was a foreign concept. Freshman year, we won our first game against East Carolina, took down the goal posts, and brought them to the chapel. It was our first win in 20-odd games. I think we went on to win maybe two more that entire year. It was one of the huge empty spaces in my college life; having a great football atmosphere is second to none, and I definitely felt the absence. Apparently fortunes are starting to change down south, but I have no emotional investment.

Kyle, for his part, went to Clarkson, and never had a team either. So we decided on a revolutionary concept- as dudes in their mid-20s, we would pick a new school. Just for football, of course, but this would not be a half measure. We'd commit to the team, whole hog, and thus we established some basic criteria:

1) The team must be in the northeast. I'm in NYC and Kyle is in Burlington, Vermont. We want to be able to travel to one or two games a year, and catch some of the others on regional tv coverage.

2) The team must be Division 1, FBS. While it might be sorta fun to adopt an Ivy League team, get into the deep old-school collegial stuff, and pretend we went to Yale for a couple weeks every fall, in the end we want top-level competition.

And that's it. Doesn't seem like much, but the northeast isn't exactly a hot-bed for college football, so it eliminated a bunch of options. Here's the full list of rejected teams, followed by the revelation of the winner.

Rejected: Army Black Knights.

No chance. They're too busy fighting wars to develop a strong football program. The West Point location would be ideal, but they don't belong to a major conference, and let's be honest...the dudes still run an option offense. That's kind of embarrassing. It'd be like if the actual army still lined up their men in human waves, like the Braveheart days. I probably only see ten minutes of Army football on tv in any given season, but almost every play involves an opposing defensive end crushing the QB as he sprints down the line. A recent study proved that it's actually more dangerous to play quarterback for Army than to fight in Iraq.*

*Not true.

Rejected: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

They're an improving team from the Big East, and the Piscataway location would be the closest option for me. but when I brought them up, Kyle made an excellent point: "Fuck New Jersey." We moved on.

Rejected: Syracuse Orange

Old loyalties and location both speak well for Syracuse, but the school has a couple fatal flaws. First, although the campus is pretty nice, the city is a total shit hole. You can't even walk down South Salina street without giving up a watch. Second, the Orange play their games in a dome. Kyle and I agreed that we wanted the outdoor experience. Third, Greg Paulus plays for them now. Fuck. that.

Rejected: Penn State Nittany Lions

Great school, great stadium, nice campus. And a cousin of mine went there, so I already have a couple Penn State t-shirts her family sent me for holidays. Location is the only big problem here. It's not an easy journey by bus from NYC, and for Kyle it would be a nine hour drive. It's unrealistic to plan for a couple trips out to Happy Valley each year. Also, there's a part of us that wants to join a smaller, up-and-coming program. PSU is an established big-10 school, and it's doubtful they're in the market for bandwagon fans.

Rejected: Boston College Eagles

Close location, nice campus, decent team in the ACC, great stadium, close to a good city. But there's one big problem: I fucking hate Boston College. Screw those guys.

So that left one team, and one team only. Their location is perfect, the campus is pretty, they're in a big conference, they just built a new outdoor stadium in 2003, and the program is on the rise. Kyle was kind enough to give me final say between BC and this team, and the decision was simple. So ladies and gentlemen, with great excitement and without further ado, I present the latest team to be graced by the unchecked zealotry of Seth Curry Saves Duke!:

That's right! The UConn Huskies! Big East football, baby! Rentschler Field, here we come! Get on board!

Immediately after the final pronouncement, Kyle got into some heavy research. He thinks our passing game is a little weak, and Coach Randy Edsall needs to integrate a little diversity into the offense. The running game looks good, he says, though the D lacks consistency. Meanwhile, I checked up on tickets, and a three-game package goes on sale next week, while single game tickets go up in August. Storrs, Connecticut, here we come!

Okay, okay, I know...they're sorta/kinda Duke rivals in basketball. They've taken us down in Final Fours and Championship games. But this is football! I insist on the separation. I'll still root against their basketball team fervently, and the gear I buy at the campus bookstore during the first trip will specifically say "UConn Football" or "Huskie Football." And I'll stow them carefully in a closet each January. My hands are clean.

Here's the lingering question: how 'ethical,' from a sporting perspective, is this move? Am I allowed to adopt a team at this late stage? Is this a betrayal of all my old half-allegiances? Is my entire fanhood sullied?

But I'll leave those questions to the historians. Onward and upward, go Huskies!

UConn Husky, symbol of might to the foe.
Fight, fight Connecticut, It's vict'ry, Let's go.
Connecticut UConn Husky,
Do it again for the White and Blue
So go--go--go Connecticut, Connecticut U.
Connecticut, Connecticut Husky, Connecticut Husky
Connecticut C-O-N-N-U!