Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Sorry, I couldn't think of a good headline for this post. ESPN, on the other hand, had no such problem last night. I logged on to the home page at about 8pm, and found these two dandies back-to-back in the right sidebar:

Pronger Not Discussing Illustration of Him in Skirt

Maple Bars Prove 'Irresistible' to Seahawks' Tate

Fantastic. It's not that rare to find a real gem plunked in the middle of a legitimate website,* but two in a row? Unheard of.

*(Total digression: one of the saddest things I've ever seen in media was when started offering its readers the opportunity to buy a t-shirt of any headline featured on the site. It was a trainwreck you could see coming from a mile away; in order to make it work, the writers came up with increasingly 'wacky' headlines, included more and more 'wacky' stories, and tailored the website's coverage perceptibly toward the goal of selling t-shirts. The infuriating move shifted the focus to bizarre, shock value news items, and pretty much ruined their credibility, at least in my eyes. Someone else must have felt this way, too, since the t-shirt option is no longer available. Or maybe it just didn't sell...)

The first link, about Pronger and the skirt, proved to be dead, but a quick google search turned up this image, from the Chicago Tribune:

And they say good journalism is dead! Also alive and well? Male chauvinism.

I wonder how many writers and editors at the Tribune's copy desk were needed to come up with "Chrissy Pronger." Really A+ material, fellas. Also, "Looks like Tarzan, skates like Jane" is a poor imitation of a truly classic description invented by Red Sox fans back when Johnny Damon was their left-fielder: "Looks like Jesus, throws like Mary."

The second link, about the Maple Bars, came through for me in a big way. Apparently rookie receiver Golden Tate sort of broke into a bakery on the bottom floor of his building. Or a friend did. Either way, their intent was to obtain some of the shop's famous 'maple bars.' I recommend reading the entire story, but here are some of the really wonderful quotes:

Tate said the Top Pot doughnuts store is in the bottom of the building in which he lives in Bellevue, Wash.

"Freshly baked. I made the mistake of -- a buddy made the mistake going in grabbing a couple. We ate them," the former Notre Dame star said after an organized team activity. "This is the wrong type of media I want to bring to the organization."

I love how that quote starts with "freshly baked." Like, "I'll get into the important details of the embarrassing trespass in a second, but first I'd like everyone to know exactly what we're talking about. These were not stale maple bars. They weren't even the day-old kind that are sometimes half-price. These were right out of the fucking oven, man." And then he makes sure to add the maple bars were, in fact, consumed. Golden Tate may be guilty of borderline robbery, but woe to the man who accuses him of wastefulness.

Tate said police gave him a warning. "They just kind of said 'don't do it again,' which I won't."

He also called the incident a "foolish mistake."

"But," he added, "if you ever want maple bars, that's the place to go."

This might be the most complicated staged marketing stunt ever...

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he has already spoken with Tate about the incident.

"No, I'm not disappointed at a guy being at a doughnut shop at 3 in the morning when they got maple bars like Top Pot has," Carroll deadpanned.

"However, under the circumstances, I think they were closed or something like that, trying to close, or whatever," the coach said. "That's definitely wrong. We've talked about it, addressed it. He's remorseful and all that. I do understand the lure of the maple bars."

In a development that should surprise no one, my favorite college coach has become my favorite NFL coach.

Tate said he understands he could have learned a lot tougher lesson than getting some bad publicity off a warning.

"I'd rather learn on this ... than on something on me being arrested or cited, something bigger," he said. "Next time I will have the buddy go in and buy them instead."

"In the future, I'll obey the normal standards of commerce, involving the exchange of currency for goods, that have been taught to me since I was a small child, and which every other citizen abides by under penalty of arrest and jail. Simply put, I will purchase, not steal. What a wacky misunderstanding!"

Okay. On to other business. First, the Yankees are back in Baltimore, and happy to be there. There are a few really nice attractions for the team in that particular metropolitan area:

1) A beautiful inner harbor.
2) The National Aquarium, hmoe to more than 660 species of animals.
3) The world's shittiest baseball team.

In a game that was never really close and always on the verge of a blow-out, the Yanks won 12-7. Hughes picked up his 8th win, and Cano moved back into first place in the AL batting race with a 3-4 night. The big highlight was Curtis Granderson with a Granderson Slamerson* that broke the game open in the 3rd.

*If you're a patent or copyright or trademark lawyer, please get in touch with me about this new catchphrase.

But the Yankee win was far from the most exciting story in baseball last night. That honor belongs to the debut of Steven Strasburg, who went 7 innings, gave up 4 hits, walked none and struck out 14 batters!

So, let me join the chorus: this kid is fucking special. You can watch video of all 14 strikeouts here. His curve is absolutely disgusting, but my favorite part of that video comes at the 1:22 mark, when the batter just watches a fastball go right down the middle for strike three. Why would he take that pitch, I wondered? Then I looked at the rader: 101 miles per hour. Oh. Right. That'll do. At the end of that video, he gets triple-pied by teammates, and the tv lady puts a plastic Elvis wig on his head. Somehow, it all seems appropriate.

My friend Spike, a Mariners fan, sent me an e-mail with this .gif of Strasburg's curve.

His commentary was brief: "Holy shit. Fear."

By the seventh inning, when Strasburg strikes out the side to reach his total of 14, the crowd is electric. And this is a Washington Nationals crowd! But I don't need to say another word, because Seth Curry Saves Duke! correspondent Nick was actually at the game. He must have used our blog's name to get a press pass, or something. Anyway, he was kind enough to send a dispatch, and I conclude the morning post with his take from the center of the fray:

As a lifelong DC resident, I have a real special place in my heart for the Nats. We got the team during my senior year in high school, and many a lazy summer afternoon was spent at shit-tastic RFK. At $5 for an outfield seat, it was a popular event to get some friends together, maybe grill a bit beforehand, and watch baseball. It was such a luxury just to have games to attend- people didn't even care who won. When the Nats started out red-hot in their first half-season, it was a huge bonus. Heck, even after back-to-back 100-loss seasons, every win since has felt like a bonus.

Washington is actually pretty underrated as a sports city; our football stadium is the second largest in the NFL and sells out all 100K+ every game. We're so starved for a winner that we've recently embraced hockey, selling out many nights at the Verizon Center. Unfortunately, just like the political system that inhabits our city, we're big on hype and talk but short on real accomplishments.

And then there was Strasmas.

I've never seen a Nationals crowd like I did tonight. People are so excited about this kid that last Friday's game almost sold out when rumors circulated that he'd start the first home series in June (I myself gambled and bought a ticket). At 40,000+ capacity, the place that usually feels like a museum on a Wednesday in November was absolutely hopping tonight. A buzz pulsated all around, and people packed in around the bullpen to watch the guy warm up. When he finally hit the mound, the entire stadium roared, only to go completely silent in the windup. The first pitch: a 97 MPH fastball. And he was just getting started.

He got faster with each pitch, bringing it to 100 and mixing in some absolutely wicked sliders to boot. I saw batters cringe, expecting to get hit, only for the ball to slice back in for a strike. Knees were buckled, batters were flummoxed, and before it was done the guy had 14 strikeouts. It was the kind of performance this city hasn't seen in years. (Side note: yes, I know Ovechkin is amazing; I probably watched 60 Caps games this year. But in hockey even the superstars only play about half the time, and only spend so much time on the puck.) Strasburg dominated from the first pitch right up until the last strikeout, his 7th in a row to end the night. Hell, people stuck around to watch the postgame interview on the big screen. Amazing stuff, truly a game to remember.

Welcome to DC, Steven Strasburg.

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