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Saturday, November 12, 2011


"Joe Paterno is no longer the head football coach, effective immediately."

To most people outside of State College, Pennsylvania or the Penn State family, those words came as no surprise after learning that Paterno (among others) ignored serious allegations against Jerry Sandusky, who apparently sexually assaulted at least eight (and presumably many more) young boys during and after his career as an assistant coach at Penn State.

However, inside the isolated community of State College and among the legions of demented Penn State zealots, the reaction was substantially different when Paterno's career ended Wednesday night.  Which is to say, they completely flipped out and threw a hissy fit because the leader of their State College cult wouldn't get to coach another football game.


You don't need me to rehash the sickening details of Sandusky's "alleged" crimes - although if you haven't read the grand jury presentment I recommend you do so.  It's not for the squeamish, though, so consider yourself warned.  Sandusky's punishment is a foregone conclusion, he'll either live out the rest of his life in prison, or he'll take the easy way out and swallow a bullet.  If you're a believer in the Code of Hammurabi, you're obviously hoping for the former, so that Sandusky suffers the same fate as as "Victim #2" tragically had to endure.  There's one thing prisoners hate, and that's child molesters.  There's also one thing they love, and that's shower rape.  Good luck in there, Jerry, you F'ing monster.

Either way, there's no argument against the fact that he's 100% guilty, and that more victims will undoubtedly come out of the woodwork.

Where there is room for argument, at least among the Penn State loyalists who rallied around Joe Paterno this week (as well as the deplorable Sally Jenkins, who never met an issue she couldn't be on the wrong side of) is the role Paterno played in covering Sandusky's crimes, specifically the aforementioned "Victim #2" allegation in 2002.

To many, Paterno "did what he had to do" by simply taking what he heard from graduate assistant Mike McQueary and relaying SOME version of it to the athletic director Tim Curley and another school administrator, Gary Schultz.  They will claim that simply reporting the allegations up the chain-of-command was enough and that Paterno's firing was undeserved and unfair.

(Every person mentioned in the previous paragraph is guilty of not doing nearly enough, for the record)

My issue with that argument is the idea that Joe Paterno had ANY superiors at Penn State or in State College.  That entire argument is contingent on the insane and insulting premise that Paterno was just some middle-manager while Curley and Schultz were authority figures on campus.

For starters, I don't know too many middle-managers who have statues of themselves.  (If that's going to be the custom, I'd like to know when I can expect my statue to be dedicated outside my office building on 6th Avenue.)

Humanitarian, eh? Apparently 10-year-old rape victims aren't "human".  

The idea that Paterno answered to Curley is utter nonsense, given the fact that Paterno essentially hand-picked Curley to become the A.D. in 1993.  The fact that "Joe-Pa" answered to ANYBODY in State College is equally ridiculous, when you consider the idea that on at least one occasion earlier this decade the Penn State administration asked him to resign, a request apparently greeted with a flat "no" in response.

You're ruining my legacy, Jerry.  Cut it out, pretty please.
Nobody in their right mind believes there is an authority greater than Paterno in central Pennsylvania, which is why the idea that his responsibility ended with whatever he told his nominal "bosses" is moronic.  He could have picked up the phone at any point and said, "we need to do something about this" and everyone in central Pennsylvania would have been on the case in about 10 seconds.  Instead Jerry Sandusky kept his office on campus, with the caveat that he's not allowed to shower with little boys anymore. WHAT THE HOLY FUCKING DOGSHIT IS THAT??

Of course, the same could be said for similar allegations against Sandusky in 1998.  Those were also swept under the rug, and Sandusky was quietly ushered into "retirement" at the age of 55.  I put the word "retirement" in quotes because anybody with the slightest bit of critical-thinking skills realizes what really happened.  Paterno undoubtedly heard the allegations, told his longtime friend he would no longer be the coach-in-waiting, and probably told him to step down quietly in the hope that keeping Sandusky out of the spotlight would prevent any increased scrutiny that might lead to more revelations of sexual assault.

Even if that scenario isn't entirely true (and it is, as far as I'm concerned) it's an indisputable FACT that Paterno would have been aware of the 1998 allegations, which is why his lack of action in 2002 is even more unacceptable.  Maybe you can chalk the initial allegation up to a hoax, but a second one, witnessed by an assistant coach, SHOULD have triggered a greater response from Paterno and everyone involved.

Instead, they sat on it, and incredibly even allowed Sandusky to continue to have access to Penn State facilities for ANOTHER NINE YEARS, right up until last Friday.  By doing so, Paterno is among a group of people complicit in a cover-up that allowed countless other children to become a victim of Sandusky.

Read that last sentence over again, because it is the absolute truth.  I'm not capable of doing the mental gymnastics necessary to suggest that Paterno was an iconic figure, yet somehow blissfully unaware and powerless to do anything about Sandusky's crimes.  That's what Paterno's defenders would like you to believe.  Never underestimate the power of denial.

For the record, there's plenty of blame left for McQueary, the eyewitness to "Victim #2" who failed to stop the incident in progress and went initially to Paterno first rather than the police.

That decision brings me back to my original point about the "cult" that exists around Paterno and the Penn State football program.  McQueary was raised in State College, grew up on Penn State football, and undoubtedly idolized Paterno like everyone else in that town.  Eventually he played QB for Penn State, and returned after a failed attempt at a pro career to become an assistant on Paterno's staff.

He's also a goddamn ginger.

To him, Paterno WAS the person to go to after witnessing Sandusky raping a young child in the shower, because Paterno was the ultimate authority in his world.  If you're raised to believe that, and my assumption based on the reaction in State College earlier this week is that many people are, who else WOULD you go to?

Naturally, McQueary has been the target of death threats, undoubtedly from the sycophants who blame him for the end of Paterno's career as Penn State's head coach.  He's still got a job and is apparently under protective custody, which leads me to believe that his testimony in the criminal trial is going to be worth hearing, and incredibly damning to Sandusky, Paterno and many others in the Penn State community.

We haven't even begun to scratch the surface of this entire ordeal, and we'll surely find out more during Sandusky's criminal trial and the civil suit that will undoubtedly be brought against Penn State by his victims.  There will be no avoiding the truth for those who hold Joe Paterno in high regard.

The reality for those people will be harsh, and hopefully enlightening, though I doubt it.  Regardless, the Penn State football program is finished, possibly for a generation.

You were Penn State.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Derek Jeter's life is a Disney movie, only less depressing

I’ll preface what I’m about to write by admitting that for the last several months I’ve been ripping Derek Jeter pretty mercilessly. First for his horrible second half in 2010, then for his agent referring to the Yankees contract negotiation strategy as “baffling” when they refused to simply give Jeter whatever he wanted fresh off the worst season of his career, and finally for being, frankly, horrible for the first half of this season.

(I’m 100 percent justified for all of that, by the way, despite sycophantic objections from the “Jeter is God” brigade).

That said, even I have to admit that the Yankee captain still has a way of reminding you how great he was, like yesterday’s incredible afternoon, possibly the best day anybody has ever had in the history of anything. And I mean that sincerely…

Think about it, yesterday morning Jeter woke up in his huge bed next to Minka Kelly under a blanket of $100 bills. Later in the morning, he arrived at Yankee Stadium where everyone said, “hey great to see ya, Captain, good luck out there today.”

The rest of the day went like this:

1st at bat - single, hit #2999
2nd at bat - home run, hit #3000, right at 2PM, by the way. Rousing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd, Jeter only the second player ever to record his 3000th hit with a home run. He probably floated around the bases. My reaction in my apartment was something like, “you have got to be fucking kidding me.”
3rd at bat - double
4th at bat - single
5th at bat - RBI single to drive in the game-winning run

That’s the kind of day that reminds you of Jeter, circa 1999. I miss that guy.

Afterwards, the YES Network dedicated about three hours of postgame coverage to Jeter’s 3000th hit. Jeter undoubtedly joined his family and friends for a dinner celebration that probably cost more than I make in a year. After a while, Dr. Charles and the others got tired and returned to their hotels, while Derek and Minka went to bed for (presumably) a wild romp that probably caused several minor seismic disturbances.

In other words, Jeter had a pretty good day, one of the best in a lifetime full of good days. Michael Kay has given Jeter’s bio roughly 1000 times in this season in the buildup to his 3000th hit, but I’ll hit on a few of the bullet points just to drive it home.

-Drafted by favorite team after spending his entire life saying he’d play shortstop for them
-Rookie of the Year and World Series title in first full season
-Four titles in first five years as a Yankee, including a World Series MVP award
-A list of sexual conquests featuring a Miss Universe, and “in her prime” versions of Mariah Carey, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johanssen, Jordana Brewster … the list goes on and on, right up to his current squeeze and future wife, Minka Kelly

Listen, people complain about the Hollywood ending to "The Natural", what would they say about a movie called “The Captain” if it were fictional instead of the reality of Jeter’s life? Roy Hobbs was shot AND poisoned, and had an illegitimate son he never knew about until his mid-30s, and all he really had to show for it professionally was a few months in the majors and one legendary home run. What’s the worst thing to ever happen to Jeter? Someone at a deli counter gave him the wrong sandwich?

It’s a cliché to say “you couldn’t even write a script like this” but in the case of Jeter’s entire life, nothing else can really be said.

Now comes the part where I pour cold water over this entire thing, because that’s exactly the kind of guy I am, and you absolutely love it.

There was a lot of speculation about the value of the ball that was Jeter’s 3000th hit. I saw estimates around $250,000, but in any case, it was worth a lot of money. Obviously, given Jeter’s lack of power it was incredibly unlikely that the ball would end up in the hands of a fan, I’d say it was even money that it would have been a classic Jeter bloop to right or one of his more recently patented hits - the slow roller between third and short that he beats out for an infield single.

Naturally, Jeter had to prove what an asshole I am for thinking that by ripping a 420-foot blast into the seats, and hands of 23-year-old Christian Lopez, a fat schlub who works for Verizon Wireless. Lopez was presumably caught up in the excitement of the moment when he decided to return the ball immediately to the Yankees without asking for anything in return, although the Yankees did give him a suite for the rest of this season, including the playoffs, which has a value somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000.

Jeter made more posing for this picture
 than Lopez will make this decade.
That alone shows just how valuable the ball actually is, and how much of an idiot Lopez is for giving it away so quickly. I’ve heard several people say that it was the “classy” thing to do for a variety of reasons, all of which are naïve and pathetic nonsense, predicated on hero worship and shortsighted stupidity. Here are a couple of my favorites:

-”Some things are more important than money”  This is along the lines of the old “money can’t buy you happiness” chestnut. Which, while technically true, misses the larger point that being a miserable bastard is a hell of lot more palatable when your misery is caused by lousy rounds of golf on the world’s finest courses, followed by expensive cocktails and an endless string of sexual escapades with attractive (yet gold-digging) women.

Furthermore, while some things MAY be more important than money, none other than Jeter himself demonstrated otherwise when he was negotiating his latest contract, or his exclusive deal with Steiner Sports to sell a line of commemorative “DJ 3K” bats, shirts, hats and urinal cakes that went on sale about 30 seconds after his 3000th hit.

He’s cashing in on this whole deal, that’s for sure.

-”Jeter deserves the ball because he’s worked so hard to achieve 3000 hits” - I’d have to be the biggest asshole in the world to suggest that Jeter hasn’t worked hard and doesn’t deserve his success. I may actually BE the biggest asshole in the world and I still wouldn’t say that.

Still, his hard work has already been rewarded many times over. He’ll earn more than $250 million by the time his career is over, and that’s just his actually baseball salary. While I disagree with what he’s currently being paid, I certainly don’t begrudge him his right to earn every cent he can, which is equally applicable in this case.

Jeter absolutely deserved the “moment” of the 3000th hit. The ball, however, is not his, once it enters the stands.

Lopez clearly wasn’t prepared for the possibility of possessing Jeter’s 3000th hit, and given that he was sitting in section 236 he can be forgiven for that, since Jeter hadn’t homered at Yankee Stadium in nearly a year and very rarely pulls the ball in the first place.

Still, part of life is being prepared for any opportunity that presents itself, however remote the possibility.

A few years ago, I went to the game in which Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th home run. My seats were in left, prime HR territory. Before the game, I made a list of things I’d want in exchange for the ball, should it end up in my possession. Sadly that list remained in my pocket, though the ball did come within about 15 feet of where I was sitting.

Jeter’s 3000th hit was even more valuable than A-Rod’s 500th HR. My list would look something like this:

1) Two season tickets for life. I’m not even talking about great seats, something in the 300 level behind home plate would be fine. Current value: $8910 per season (below the IRS gift tax threshold, by the way)

2) A separate, one-time cash gift (from Jeter) of $12,999.99 (again, tax purposes). That’s pocket change for him.

3) A double-date with Jeter and Minka with her co-star in “The Roommate” Leighton Meester.


Now does any of that seem unreasonable? Everybody wins, especially Miss Meester.

Congrats, Captain. Starting now, I’m declaring a one month moratorium on me ripping you for weakly grounding out to second all the time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fat idiot coach says something stupid, and for once it's not Rex Ryan

So the Rangers got back in their first round series against the Washington Capitals with a 3-2 win yesterday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, and today Washington's coach Bruce Boudreau decided it would be a great idea to go on a DC radio station and tell everyone how he really feels about the Garden:

"Well, the one thing, its reputation is far better than the actual building," the coach said. "I mean, it's nothing. The locker rooms are horrible. The benches are horrible. There's no room for anything. But the reputation of being in Madison Square Garden is what makes it famous. Also, our building's a lot louder, too. So I mean, they can say what they want, but it's not that loud in there."

What a surprise, a man of Boudreau's girth complaining that the locker room and benches are too small. I'm surprised he didn't complain about how the narrow concourses prevent him from getting to the food court during intermissions or that the cotton candy vendors never make it below the 200 level.

What's really funny, though, is that Boudreau has the nerve to knock Rangers fans for not being as loud as the red-shirted buffoons in DC. First, let me say that I spent an entire season at Verizon (formerly MCI) Center covering the Capitals on a professional level, and clearly Boudreau didn't make many trips to the arena while he was coaching the Capitals' minor league affiliate in Hershey, PA, because if he had he would have noticed that there were about 7500 fans in the building on most nights.

In fact, the only time the arena actually got loud was when the Rangers, Penguins or Flyers were in town and the place was full of opposing fans who would make all the noise. Otherwise, it was one fat guy in the upper level with a plastic horn and about 12,000 empty seats.

Of course, the Capitals got much better in subsequent years, and all of the sudden their arena is packed with "hardcore" fans who suddenly (and conveniently) realized there was a hockey team in town.

As for the relative noise level, any advantage held by the Verizon Center is due entirely to their PA announcer, who spends the entire game shouting into the microphone and directing fans to specific cheering instructions on the jumbotron at center ice.

For the record, the Garden on a Sunday afternoon is a LITTLE bit different than the Garden for a night game, and a suspect Boudreau's comments will inspire those in attendance tomorrow night to prove him wrong.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

YouTube buried treasure, Masters Edition

This one isn't so much about the clip itself (although last year's 3rd round was epic) but rather about the musical accompaniment. For the last few years, CBS has been using that wonderfully upbeat instrumental as the score for their highlight montages when they come on the air and periodically during their coverage.

For about that long, I've been on a desperate search to find out where the music actually came from. (Why yes, I am a bit of a nerd, thank you for asking).

Well, that search ended at about 7:45 this morning.

You're welcome.

As for the golf itself, I'm about as geeked up as ever for what's going to happen at Augusta this weekend. So much so, in fact, that I woke up without an alarm at 7:15 this morning just to re-watch yesterday's DVR'd coverage for a third time.

Should be a great weekend, despite that prick Hunter Mahan missing the cut by one stroke and screwing over my Masters pool roster in the process. Four birdies in five holes to get back on the cut line, then he just throws it away on 17. Thanks, schmuck.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

YouTube buried treasure: 1990 - two for the price of one

Heading into the Final Four, my bracket is once again a loser - making it 21 years and counting without a pool victory.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the closest I ever came to winning was in 1990 when I was in fifth grade and entered my father's office pool. That year, I finished second in the pool, losing on a tiebreaker (to my dad) when UNLV hammered Duke 103-73 in the final.

I had Oklahoma picked to reach the final in my bracket, and had they managed to defend the baseline against Carolina, I could have been the winner. As it was, the $80 second prize was like winning a million dollars to an 11-year-old.

Speaking of UNLV, let's now enjoy their national championship victory/team slam dunk contest against Duke...

In reality, this highlight package doesn't even do justice to exactly how badly the Runnin' Rebels whipped Duke's ass in that game. At one point in the second half, UNLV went on an 18-0 run, also known as "the most hilarious two minutes and 54 seconds in basketball history".

Of course one year later, Duke upset an unbeaten UNLV team in the semifinals, which helped usher in the current era of Duke's obnoxiousness, now into its third decade. I've long held onto the belief that UNLV lost that game on purpose, however I recently watched the entire game on the wonderful NCAA Vault website, and have changed my tune on that.

Enjoy the Final Four.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

YouTube buried treasure of the week: 1990 - Maurice Newby ignites my March Madness obsession

In March of 1990, a precious and adorable 5th grader woke up on Thursday morning with a very bad sore throat and cough and stayed home from school to rest.

That Thursday at noon, a tradition began - one that continues 21 years later. On that day, I witnessed the opening of the NCAA Tournament, and I haven't missed it since.

Maurice Newby's shot actually occurred in the early afternoon the next day, lifting 14th-seeded Northern Iowa over Missouri, the #3 seed.

A year later, I was again stricken with an illness, albeit a less serious one that was embellished in order to stay home for the beginning of the tournament on Thursday. Proving how cool she was, my mother actually let me play in my Little League game on that Friday night despite staying home from school.

(Historical note: I pitched a complete game and had two doubles)

The following year (now in 7th grade) I was 100% healthy and put on the performance of a lifetime to stay home for the opening of the 1992 tournament.

Finally in 1993, Mama Sports Jerk caught on, and yet again demonstrated her unmatchable awesomeness by saying something like, "listen, I know the tournament starts today, if you don't have any tests, I'll call you out of school so you can watch."

Love you, Mom.

The 1990 tournament is famous for a few reasons. Bo Kimble honoring the late Hank Gathers by shooting left-handed free throws during Loyola Marymount's run to the Elite Eight. And UNLV's historic ass-whipping of Duke for the national title. Look for more on that before March is over, as well as a recap of how Rick Fox screwed me out of hundreds of dollars in my father's office pool that year.

Friday, March 11, 2011

If you side with NFL owners, you're a dipshit

There has been a lot of posturing and spin in the few hours since the NFLPA decided to decertify and send the CBA negotiations to court, primarily by the NFL owners, who have assumed that we've all forgotten that they are entirely responsible for this situation in the first place.

Leaving the numbers out of it for a moment, here's the rough timeline of events leading up to today's decertification:

2006 - NFL and NFLPA agree to six-year extension of CBA through 2012 season

2008 - NFL owners say, "fuck this, we hate the CBA we just signed two years ago" and announce their intentions to opt out of the deal after the 2010 season

2011 - NFL owners tell players to give back $1 billion or they'll lock them out

Today - NFL owners - "We are disappointed the players didn't agree to unilaterally revert back to pre-2007 terms and we're hoping you don't see how completely full of shit we are."

To put it bluntly, the owners ripped the CBA to shreds, and are upset that players aren't caving in to their ludicrous demands over shared revenue.

As far as I'm concerned, the owners are absolutely profiting less today than they were in 2006.  However, the reason for that has nothing to do with what the percentage of revenue being shared with the players, and everything to with the revenue that ISN'T, which includes local sponsorships, stadium advertising/naming rights, PSL/ticket/suite sales, etc.  The players don't see even one cent of that cash.

Now, the struggling economy has undoubtedly hurt the owners financially in those areas.  However, I fail to see how it's the players' responsibility to give money back because of it, particularly since, by all accounts, the NFL brought in about $9 billion this year and just held the most-watched Super Bowl of all time.  The way I see it, the owners feel entitled to a certain level of income, and since they apparently haven't reached it, they want to take money back from the very people who make that income possible.

I'm sorry, I refuse to believe that the owners aren't completely to blame for this situation.  They can talk all they want about "splitting the difference" with the NFLPA, but all that means to me is that their offer is 50% less shitty than their initial one.

This entire ordeal was initiated by the owners, and their security blanket (in the form of guaranteed TV money) was shot down in court.  Now they're trying to paint the players as the greedy party, which requires an absurd leap of faith and is the best example of the "pot calling the kettle black" I can possibly imagine.

Just to drive that point home, let me tell you about the weekly emails I get from the New York Giants, offering me the "once in a lifetime" opportunity to buy a $10,000 PSL to watch them play in a stadium none of their fans ever wanted in the first place.

Fuck off.