Archive for February, 2012

I’m going to be entirely honest here. I don’t think of the iAnything as a gaming device in any serious sense. Having games on your phone is neat, but I never really expect them to be of any real quality. Though, I’m generally more forgiving of them since they are usually free or 99 cents. That being said, there are some folks out there who’s only link to video games is their iWhatever and this article is really for them. Let’s face it, it’s hard work trying to decide what to spend our 99 cents (or nothing) on, and those of us who have the capacity challenged versions of our respective devices have even more to worry about in the realm of music, video, app, book, and photo priority. So here are the best and worst iThing sports games, in no order and written about totally at random!

Lies. Utter lies.

I wrote that paragraph before I actually looked into what was available in the realm of app store sports games. What has my research taught me?

Every sports game in the app store is garbage.

Seriously. There is so much trash in there you can almost iSmell it. And No, before you even say it, I haven’t played them all. I’m not going to pay 99 cents for every game and try them out. That’s crazy, and if I had a budget for these things I wouldn’t spend it on iOS games. I’d spend it on important things, or some grillz.

I’m not a very good journalist, so I actually just picked two games to write about out of all the crap I tried. I’m such a bad journalist that they were both baseball games. I’m such a terrible journalist that, in fact, they were both different versions of the same game. I could go on, but at some point your going to figure out I’m only going to write about one game. That one game is really great though. So good in fact, that I don’t think you need to play any other game on your iJiggamawhatzit.

 Just play Baseball Superstars II

Baseball Superstars II is pretty neat. It has everything you would expect a big name baseball game to have. It has the exhibition, home run derby, tournament, and season modes that all baseball games have. It also has “My League” modes, which allow you to manage a single team, single pitcher, or single position player through multiple seasons. In the My Pitcher and My Batter modes, you take control of a user made player and develop him into a star from the ground up, much like “Road to the Show” mode in MLB The Show. For a free iPhone app (the price has since gone up to not free) this mode is surprisingly robust and fun.

Overall, the actual gameplay in Baseball Superstars II is a fantastic mix of fast arcade style play and simulation. On the arcade side of things, it’s very easy to have a .400 or above batting average or an on base percentage of .600 or more. As a pitcher, look for 14 or 15 strikeout games all the time and wild curving fastballs that top 100 mph on a regular basis. The games are fast and it’s possible to play two or three games in ten minutes or less in some modes. You can fill out your batter or pitcher with super swings and super pitches, respectively, and choose two super players in the team mode. The super players are generally strange and entirely out of place, but they are still a fun addition to the game.

Some footage for all of you to see.

On the flip side, you have the different My League options that offer up a more realistic-in-quotes type of play. These modes are where the game both shines and shows it’s ugly side. The great gameplay is still very present, but there are nagging issues with how the My Pitcher and My Batter modes progress. While all three of the My League options are spectacularly engrossing and fun, they show the true nature of Gamevil’s business model in all its money grubbing glory. Sure building up your superstar pitcher is fun, but it happens so damn slowly and there are so many restrictions on you that some of that fun is ruined, all in an attempt to coerce you into spending real money on pretend shit. It’s an ingenious, although evil, tactic and I will never fully understand the hideous hate engine that is working behind the scenes.

At the heart of it, the My [Player] mode is a story based baseball RPG. After choosing whether you want to create a pitcher or position player, you alternate between training, resting, going on short dates with several virtual baseball girls (not kidding), and playing baseball. Overall, the story parts are overshadowed by the development of your player and actually playing baseball, but they are written well enough and are mostly humorous. At times they do feel out of place, but since they often give your player bonuses for watching them, they can be worthwhile.

Training your player is little more than deciding which stat you want to increase and watching a little animated exercise, but, as with the entire game, the presentation and style are great. Unfortunately though, this is where the game’s ugly side makes its appearance.

The training system is incredibly flawed and seems to be built entirely around funneling you into spending actual money in game. Since all of the actions you can take between games require “active” points, you are severely limited in how fast you can improve your player and experience the story. On top of that, you also have a moral rating that affects your ability to play at 100% and also if you get hurt or sick. Training reduces your moral far more than it increases your skills and winning games increases your morale far less that training reduces it. So you have to rest a lot to regain morale rather than train or hang with the ladies. You fall into a loop where if you don’t train, your player is slapped with skill debuffs. If you don’t rest, you get hurt or sick from low morale. If you’re always training and resting, you never see any of the story segments. It really is a vicious trap where the only solution is spending real money for boosts to in game cash so you can buy items that heal your player or give him more active points, or paying to turn off sickness and injuries.

The micro transaction business model has the ability to work and be profitable without sticking it to the player, but it’s a flaming pickled pitch-fucking-fork in the ass in this case. I find that sad because the game is so good, Gamevil could easily have priced it higher, made it a little less of a jerk, and kept those micro transactions out entirely. Why they chose to be assholes I will never know. It not only decreases their relevance and credibility as game developers, but also tarnishes iOS devices as gaming platforms in general. This is an argument for a dedicated video game site however. Cad T. Wasp is too good for that kind of talk.

 /soapbox

My ranting aside, this game is absolutely great. The pitching mechanics are intuitive and easy. There’s a good selection of pitch types to choose from and they generally function realistically. Batting requires skill and timing, but isn’t so difficult to be a detriment, though the “swing” button could be a bit larger. Other than that the touch controls work flawlessly. Creating your pitcher’s Super Pitch is one of the more fun and well thought out parts of the game, and making your own Bugs Bunny pitch is well worth the trouble. If you have the patience to stick with the game, eventually all the stuff in the last two paragraphs won’t matter since you will accumulate enough money and G-points (the game’s currency) to never have to worry about your morale or limits on the actions you can take between games. It’s all fun from there on out.

If I was a reviewer, instead of just some guy, I’d grade it or give it some arbitrary number. But I am just some guy so I’ll just tell you Baseball Superstars II is the best sports game in the app store. There are actually several games in the series, many of them free and all of them great, but I find the visual style of this version to sync the best with the mechanics and overall feel of the game. Though some people may be put off by the anime style, the art is charming and the overall presentation is top notch.

So get it. Get it now and reduce the game speed in the options menu to give it a real leisurely baseball pace. Otherwise it plays way too fast.

If you want to know just how Asian this game is, check out the trailer.

Oh yeah, it’s also on Android stuff now. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE!

HOMELUN!

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The 61st Annual NBA ALL-Star game came and went over the weekend. Amidst all the Oscar buzz and red carpet glitz and glamor, did anyone even notice?

Seriously, who is scheduling these events nowadays? The NBA is fighting to regain its fan base and attract new ones simultaneously, and The Commish can’t even get his timing right? Good luck with that whole rebuilding process, Señor Stern. The schedule making powers that be failed to notice that Hollywood’s biggest night took place the same night? Really?

 

So many issues I have with today’s NBA. Lucky for me, the pros always outweigh the cons, and I continue to con myself into believing in basketball.


I heard they’re using this year’s game as a tutorial for young ballers to show them exactly what not to do when they step on the hardwood. Even Luol Deng, a premiere defender in my book, practically sprinted out of the way for Blake Griffin to obtain a perfectly clear dunking lane. C’mon, Lu! It’s your first ASG. Swat that shit to the first row! Seriously, the defense is absolutely atrocious. But you knew that before tuning in to watch. What I don’t know is how they got Thibs to patrol the East sideline with the game’s reputation being what it is. I was taking over/under bets on not if, but how many times Coach T would stroke out due to lack of defense. The West scored 88 points…by halftime (yes, that is a record). The Bulls have held opponents to less than that (in entire games) 18 times this  year! 


The West won the “game” 152-149 if anyone gives a shit. And Kevin Durant was the game’s MVP. He’s so slick.


There was a moment in the 3rd quarter when Kobe took it to the rim, and DWade fouled him. Hard. It was a shot to the nose- a playoff foul. I smiled a little. Actual defense. It was in apparent retaliation to a good defensive stop by Kobe against Wade on the other end of the floor. And then a little bit later, Kobe broke Mike’s all-time All Star scoring record. Damn. I guess I have to come to terms with Kobe being this generation’s version of the one we call His Airness. I suppose it’s better him than LeBron, he of the ringless, opportune turnover variety. A part of my basketball self dies with every MJ record that gets broken. 


Yes, the game actually came down to the final possession(s) and a little bit of my favorite elements of the game: defense and coaching. This reminded everyone watching why Tom Thibodeau is a master of both-reigning Coach of the Year-by ironically exposing LeBron, yet again, for what he truly is: an oligophrenic, overhyped failure when it matters. Why don’t him and overhyped, one dimensional forward  Blake Griffin just duke it out in the sky where they belong, making for a Dunk Contest someone would actually want to watch? That’d be one for the ages. Have Vince Carter, Mike, Dominique and Dr. J judge that shit. I’d watch. 

 

I’ve seen LeBron do things no other player is capable of, and I’ve seen him not do things a superstar of his caliber should be able to accomplish. Maybe he’s just not a professional winner.


And maybe The Flash is turning out to be more of a flash in the pan, after all. I like DWade because he’s a hometown guy, but for us to overthrow the Eastern Conference champions here in The Chi, we need his and LeBron’s weaknesses revealed in May. Too bad Thibs can’t be there to sabotage them again. Or can he? (Insert evil genius laugh here) 

 

When travelling, I often state that no matter how much I love a place that I happen to visit, I always, ALWAYS love returning home to my city of Chicago. I’ve been many places, many cool ass places, but Chicago is where I’ll stay, probably forever. I’ve got the flag tattooed on my arm and the lakeshore wind tattooed on my soul. I felt a similar sensation after watching the ASG on Sunday. I love watching the entertainment value of the game’s biggest stars. Despite all the hate toward it, the dunk contest is still cool to watch. The three point contest is timeless (still bitter about Hot Sauce’s snub). But no matter what (excluding Shaq and Penny in the mid ’90s), I’m never swayed to another team or out of town players. I’ll always bleed Chicago red and black. That’s why Luol’s limited run in his first appearance didn’t bother me. That’s why Derrick’s ridiculously massive shoe deal getting no talk from mainstream media all weekend didn’t affect me (you know if LeBron or Kobe signed that same deal, it would’ve been top news; difference being Derrick deserves every zero in that contract). Humility sort of comes with the territory ’round here, so when Chris Paul, Deron Williams, even Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook get mentioned as the L’s top point guards ahead of Chi Town’s Finest, we remember that it’s all about one thing: winning. That’s what we’re about in The WINdy City.

 

That’s why this is my kind of town.




 

In the grand annals of Cartoonology and Cartoonionomy there have been many visionaries and pioneers who have left their glorious doodles upon history. This is that blog which has descended from their art of old and herein we have taken the essence of their acumen and clothed it in the garb of silly. For here the covenant betwixt scribbler and scribblee, image and word, setup and punchline may be fulfilled and forever held sacrosanct under the grace of the jovial prophets of old.

Also I drew this thingy about toast.

Follow all updates on my work and associated nonsense on Facebook.

Actual artwork and graphic novels on my site: Tiamat’s Garden.

And random abbreviated idiocy on Twitter.

You crazy son of a bitch…I see what you did there.

You fooled all of us, Mr. Thibs, but I”m savvy to what you’re up to, and boy was it glorious. Not only did you manage to rest Deng and Rose, but you also planted the seeds of doubt into the heads of LeWade, drawing up a last minute play to ensure that they fail.

Oh and you better believe that vision will be softly creeping in the Heatles heads as they are sleeping. Failure in the postseason is the final mountain that LeBron has to get over. It’s haunted him for years now, and while the Heat are far and away the best team in the league right now, the questions are still surrounding the Heat’s ability to close in important games. There’s really only one place to kill those doubts, and that’s in the finals.

Speaking of doubts…

You had to know that Kobe was going to trash talk LeBron. He tries to emulate Mike after all. Kobe dared LeBron to take and make that final shot, and LeBron passed it up and turned it over. Now, I get that this is an exhibition and it’s all in good fun, but in the interview afterwards LeBron looked like a man who knew that every single talking head, blog, and sports media outlet was going to be asking the same stupid question that’s been plaguing him for years.

To that, let me say this. You were supposed to be better than this, LeBron. It’s a mantle that was given to you, sure. But it’s not exactly a mantle that you shy away from. You view yourself as the Chosen One.

I mean, you can’t be complaining when people are calling you out for not winning. It comes with the territory man. This is the NBA, the best players in the league win rings. Lots of them. Rare exceptions come at the cost of Dynasties. Malone, shit, almost a whole generation of 90’s basketball players lost to Mike and Hakeem.

That’s the thing LeBron, you aren’t Malone, or Barkley, or Stockton, or Ewing. You’re LeBron damn James, arguably the most intimidating and freakish athlete in the history of basketball. You’re the freakiest player in a league full of freaks. Durant is 6’10 and you could play him as a shooting guard, and you’re still more athletic than he is.

Comes with the territory.

As for what the All-Star weekend meant for the Bulls, we’ll see. Derrick didn’t dance, because he’s not like that. He also played like 4 minutes. Ditto with Deng. I think we found out that Thibs isn’t a maniac. He understands what games matter and which ones don’t. I think that there may be a master plan to it all. He might really be the evil genius the Bulls need to beat the Heat, but it’s gonna be a rough ride.

Rose and company are definitely the underdogs in all of this. Noah’s triple-double was fun and all, but that supporting cast is inferior to the Heat’s. Winning a playoff series against them is highly unlikely, but there are a few ways that they can possibly pull it off I think. Getting Rip Hamilton will help, but it’s going to take perfect basketball and another Heat chokejob for the Bulls to get it done.

It’s not impossible, but it doesn’t look good. The Bulls do need to trade for some better pieces, because even if the Bulls sneak by the Heat, there’s another pain in the ass that’ll be waiting for them.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7-GuLCYA-E]
Oh Lawd, pass the whiskey.

Pre-Game to Puck Drop….

The Toews/car accident story broke early today, with the Captain coming out of the accident okay.  Thank God for that $100K Mercedes’ crash-resistant features, huh? If texting and driving was the cause of the crash, I’ll be uber-pissed as that’s my current #1 thing that bothers me lately.  He should know better.

Tonight, the Hawks go for five wins in a row with the Stars visiting the UC.  With Toews still out, we need everyone else to pick it up like they did against Detroit.  The red-hot Corey Crawford gets the start between the pipes and hopes to continue his strong play as of late.   For a guy who looks like a monkey humping a football at times, he sure can look like a top-flight goalie for stretches.  My thanks to the late Herb Brooks for the preceding monkey line.  I’ll be doing the “running diary” thing tonight during the game.  Let’s hope we have 2 points to show for ourselves when we’re done.

On a side note, I miss hating the shit out of the Minnesota North Stars.  I wish I could go chant “DINO SUCKS!!  DINO SUCKS!!” just one more time, but I digress.

Puck drop, 20:00 left in the first period.…I miss seeing Toews already, nothing against Kruger for taking the opening draw.  You sure get used to seeing a guy like #19.

19:52….Icing in 8 seconds….sounds like a low-quality how-to cake decorating video.

19:06….Stephen King’s pen name Steven Bachman is tending net for Dallas tonight.  If he employs a huge, possessed St Bernard, I call bullshit on it.

17:14…Great chance for Kaner from Sharp.  Would have been nice to cash that in.  Hossa and Kane have jump so far.

17:00….Uh-oh…Hawks to the power play.  This unit is due like a cell phone bill in the ghetto.

16:3something…Good play by Leddy to deny the shorty chance.  Christ, we can’t score ourselves, don’t give up a goal…

15:07…CRAWFORD!!!  Gotta love big early saves.  #weneededthat

14:16…Goalmouth scramble with Big Jimmy Hayes right in the middle of it.  Stay there for about 15 years, kid.  You look good.

13:50…..Cool little video coming out of commercial showing how the hoops court is converted to the rink at the UC.  I could see grabbing a dozen beers and sitting in the stands and watching that for a while.

9:37…Another good save by Crawford, who saw it all the way.  Decent pace so far, should pick up as the game goes on.  Kane looks pretty active again….damn good sign.

6:55….A quick score before the end of the first would be a welcome sight.  I hate how this Dallas team hangs around.

5:29…LEDDY ROBBED!!  BASTARD BACHMAN!!  I HATE YOUR SELF-INDULGENT BOOKS!!

4:24….I didn’t mean that.  I like King’s stuff.  I just wanted Leddy to bury that chance.

1:20….I think Stalberg misses Toews more than anyone.

End of the first….Shots were 6 to 5 in favor of the Hawks.  Both teams had a couple solid chances, but Crawford and Steven King have been up to the task……Anybody throws me against the boards I’m gonna piss all over myself…….I love Lemonheads, and the commercial with Toews/Kane still makes me laugh…..

Second period….

18:12…Nice flurry for the Hawks there.  Hossa just missed connecting there.  He’s been all over the ice so far.  I love beastly Marian.

17:28…GOALPOST!!!  THEN THE CROSSBAR!!  Crawford with double best-friend action there.  *cues 70’s porn music*

17:17…Hayes robbed by King.  Damn, what a chance.  Jimmy is playing his ass off again tonight.  Glad to see he “gets it” already.

16:14…Near-turnover to Frolik in the slot.  I got excited about the scoring chance, then remembered Frodo couldn’t score in a whorehouse with a fistful of hundreds.

13:55….Hayes with yet another good chance.  It looks like the kid lives for playing hard and going to the front of the net.  #39 is going to be a popular sweater here for years to come if he keeps it up……Edzo and Foley talking up the food at the UC.  I guess they missed the stuff on the news  about the health code violations down there.  I’ll pass on the diarrhea with a side of dry heaves, thanks.

13:21…GOALPOST!!  for Sharp.

10:28….HOSSA MAKES IT 1-0!!!  What a play by Frodo to make it possible!!  Hard works pays off!!!

5:42…Crawford with two great saves to keep it 1-0.  Those are the saves he needs to make on a nightly basis.

5:20….My other favorite young Hawk, Dylan Olsen, with a quality chance.  He looks right at home next to Keith on the back end.

1:00…..Hawks have pretty much owned the 2nd, due in large part to Hossa.  He’s been the best player on the ice tonight, stepping up into a void left by Toews being out.  It’s nice when your best players play like it.

0:03….Another damned goalpost for the Hawks.  We’re burying these guys in the 3rd.

End of the second….Hawks outshot Dallas 16-5 in the 2nd.  That’s called turning your shit up a notch…..Bears LB Lance Briggs is doing the Shoot-the-Puck segment in a minute.  I hope he doesn’t start bitching about his contract when Sarah Kustok blathers at him after he misses…..The girl shooting the puck tonight is less than a 9.  Must be a sparse crowd tonight……Oh, but the 2nd girl was….yeaow!!!……Briggs missed all three shots.  I think he was distracted by the 2nd girl.

Third period….

19:08….Hossa busting in hard along the boards is a nice thing to see.

17:20…Stalberg with a wonderful chance.  I think one goal may break this game open for us.

14:38….Dallas with their first shot of the 3rd. The defense has been fantastic at shutting off the passing lanes all night.

14:07….Ok, who buries the first glorious chance?  I’m saying Sharp will.

10:35….Fuck.  Dallas scores after being dominated and ties it at 1.  There is no way we’re letting Steven King beat us in the UC tonight.

9:35…..Foley sounds like Peter Brady when his voice cracks.  All we need is for him to put on a sweet poncho, some puka shells and find a terrible 70’s song for him to warble.  When it’s time to change, you’ve got to re-arrange!!!!

7:15….Uh-oh…off goes Hossa.  Not good.

6:06….Hossa back on the bench.  My balls can come back out of my stomach cavity now.  Whew.

5:02…You gotta be shitting me.  We’re really going to let Dallas take this game over after owning the ice for over 40 minutes?  This is inexcusable.  2-1 Dallas and I’m pissed.

4:20…..The last thing I want right now is a Hawks power play.  Talk about a momentum killer…..

3:48.….Suck a big fat one, Hawks.  You simply stopped playing hard after dominating for 48 minutes and are now down 3-1.  What a shame you’re going to let a winning streak end on such a poor effort at such a crucial time.

2:05….BOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

1:12…..BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

0:00……Bite me.  Take a big, wet bite out of my ass.  Terrible way to end the night.

Post-game…

Well, the Hawks played great for about 48 minutes, then decided to slack off and let an inferior Dallas team steal 2 points on our home ice.  With or without Jonathan Toews, there was no reason to lose this game.  In a conference as hellaciously tough as the NHL’s Western conference is, these are the types of games and points we simply can’t afford not to win.  Hopefully, these 2 points won’t be a factor in the end, but it’s maddening to watch  games like this.  I mean, seriously…every scout in the NHL was out there tonight, with contracts in their pockets, and they’re looking for talent. For winners. OOOOOOOOOH. All my years of publicity. All the fashion shows and radiothons for nothing… They come here tonight… to scout the Chiefs… the toughest team in the Federal League! Not this! Buncha… pussies.”

That about sums it up.

I’ve been there before, down that path, feeling that same sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. It’s the feeling you get deep within your being when you have so completely failed to live up to the expectations of people that support you. The sensation is truly nauseating. You begin to realize that people put their faith in your ability to perform a task, or to get a job, or to be special.

Yes, I’ve failed miserably before, odds are that I will again.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Adam Dunn. He is the type of slugger that I appreciate nowadays. Low average, walks a lot, hits monster home runs, strikes out quite a bit as well. I’ve drafted him to every fantasy team I’ve owned since 2006. There are three true outcomes when it comes to Adam Dunn, and I can appreciate that.

Last year was painful for me as well.

When you fail, when you fall down, it’s usually not in front of 20,000 people. To watch Adam Dunn last year was to watch the slow death of a confused animal. One who is not completely sure why it is dying, but one that is certain of it’s fate. Dunn knew he was going to fail towards the second half of last season. He looked lost in a mire of his own personal doubts and the pressures to perform a duty that used to come so easy to him before.

Perhaps that is the issue, it was easy before. There were little to no expectations for Dunn in his previous stops. Cincy was never in contention with him, Arizona had a brief stint as a contender when he was traded there, and the Nationals weren’t ready to contend when he landed there. His destiny as Sox DH was predestined, it’s a home run happy park, one where Dunn could exercise his prowess and become something more. He was traded to a team that was supposed to contend.

And then 2011 happened.

Historically, there has never been a full season collapse like this in baseball history. Think about that, baseball records have been reliably kept since 1885. Since then, no one has fallen on their face harder than Adam Dunn.

Dunn’s bat looked slower, and statistical evidence seems to back that claim up. From 2007 through 2010 Dun averaged 536 AB’s and struck out on a fastball 87 times pers season. In 2011, Dunn had 411 AB’s and struck out on a fastball 100 times. Pitchers threw fastballs to Dunn 62% of the time from 2007-2011, but in 2011 Dunn saw fastballs 69% of the time.

Pitchers aren’t afraid of Dunn, and that’s an issue. Adam Dunn needs to figure out if he truly loves baseball, because he didn’t just fail to live up to expectations, he set a record for failing.

There is one silver lining in his numbers.

Despite being historically bad, Dunn saw an uptick in his BB ratio. You can take this as a sign that his patience could help in 2012, or that he is too afraid to swing at anything and he lucked into a few walks. Either way, it’s something positive that he did.

Dunn wasn’t alone in failure on the south side. Rios and Beckham were supposed to be two very good hitters for the Sox. Rios was claimed off waivers by Kenny Williams in 2009 and had a respectable 2010 year. Beckham was a first round pick with a hitting pedigree from Georgia. He was a College World Series hero and many argued that he should have been the rookie of the year in 2009.

Both players were expected to have good years for a contending team in 2011, and both failed to meet expectations. Here is a graph of the trio’s wOBA

Or if you want more traditional stats:

Those three players had 1623 combined PA’s and severely under performed last year.

Rios looks like a gifted athlete. He patrols centerfield with grace and speed, he makes it all look so easy. His tools are apparent and that’s what makes his struggles so infuriating. He can be a good baseball player, but there is this odd mental block with him that is impossible to describe. He should be a 30 home run guy, but he isn’t. He should hit .300, but he doesn’t. He should be a gold glove centerfielder, but he never will be. Perhaps it is lapses in concentration that leads to his poor play, but he needs to play better.

Beckham looks like a lost cause. He was a stellar fielder at second base in the first half, but his fielding dipped as his bat never really got on track. He has regressed every year he’s been in the league, and that’s a terrible sign for a rookie phenom. Beckham collapsed in the second half last year, but the dip wasn’t as visible because he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire in the first half. He struggled to hit .213 after the All-Star break as his K-rate shot through the roof.

Beckham will never be an OBP machine, he doesn’t walk enough and his swing looks lost, but he can be somewhat valuable since his glove could theoretically justify his bat. He needs to be around .270-.280 for that to happen.

The White Sox have an outside chance at competing in 2012. The Tigers IF defense will be awful and there is a slight chance the the Sox will pitch enough to stay in the race. The mitigating factor will be the bats. 3 of the 4 times the Sox have made the playoffs in New Comiskey the team has belted 200+ home runs. That’s the magic number, if the Sox can hit, the pitching might hold up enough to stay relevant into September. For that to happen, these three players will have to play well.

Dunn is the wild card, if he can return to form, the Sox will do well. The question with him will always be about his love for the game. Picking up a bat this offseason was a healthy start, but he’s going to have to mash for the Sox to compete.

[audio http://awmr01.podbean.com/mf/web/pxh9vn/Episode009.mp3]

 

In this episode we absolutely hate on Skullsplitter, talk some Cubs, some Starlin Castro, switch out to PBR, sent a shot across the bow at another show, curb our expectations for the 2012 Cubs season, talk Cubs prospects, lament the Cubs starting rotation, we time travel a little bit, we talk about the Blackhawks recent streaks,  we try to figure out which Chicago coach gets fired next, we discuss what John Starks is up to now in honor of Linsanity, we remember Slam Ball, we have an impromptu Celebrity Basketball draft,  Andy finally starts reading Moneyball, Andy and Raul think the Sox will suck this year, and we do a top ten most misunderstood athletes.

Undrafted Precedents and Prejudices

Oh, wow. Big shock here: racism, bigotry, and elitism in sports. Sports? No way! It’s these morons who give us intelligent sports fans a bad name. And THE WORLDWIDE LEADER IN SPORTS, no less. ESPN, you have a monopoly on sports. We get it. But you don’t get it. 

ESPN fired their online columnist who had the audacity and shortsightedness to use the word that rhymes with pink in his headline that lasted on the site for about 35 minutes the other day. But what about the editor(s) who green lit the piece to go live in the first place? I mean, not only did the headline writer use the word, but after being fired he claimed that it was an honest mistake which makes him and his staff a bunch of fucking idiots. Just because it’s your online publication doesn’t mean you should sacrifice any bit of your integrity delivering a story about Lin’s poor performance against the lowly New Orleans Hornets, ESPN. Like any professional athlete, he deserves as much praise for success as criticism for failure, but no one, regardless if you’re Asian, Black, White, Latino or Martian, deserves racial slurs thrown their way. We may be the youngest country in the world, but we’re all grown ups. Let’s start acting like it, America.

Most people have no idea when they’re being racist or acting like a racist. In true ignorant form, they are completely oblivious to how they are coming across or what ideals they embody, but I can’t quite bring myself to letting them off the hook based on, for lack of a better word, ignorance. It’s ridiculous. It is NOT bliss, and frankly my dear, I DO give a damn. So should you. Not just as an intelligent sports fan, but as a human being with (not so) common (anymore) sense.

Let’s forget about his staggering statistics through his first 8 NBA games. Let’s ignore the fact that his numbers through 8 NBA games are better than Magic, Isiah, and Stockton. Instead, let’s make jokes about dude’s dick size. Really, Jason Whitlock? If you haven’t seen it yet, this is what Mr. Whitlock, a professional journalist and really just an overall boring commentator from Kansas City tweeted after Lin’s coming out party (38 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) concluded against the Lakers:
“Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight.”

Yep, they sure are.

All these attempts by media minds to make jokes about Jeremy Lin’s race are pathetic. Jason Whitlock, ESPN.com, (I’m sure) a bunch of no-name sites and publications have all tried to pun their way to their readers’ sense of humor, all the while overlooking the beautiful simplicity of what’s unfolding before our basketball-loving eyes: Jeremy Lin is legit. As much as I hate the Knicks and will always hate the Knicks, there’s just something inside me rooting for the kid. But make no mistake, if and when he faces off against DRose and Da Bulls, he’s going to get handled. Handled. Derrick has a certain way about putting young, touted point guards in their place in head to head matchups.

Leave the commentary to the ones who have reserved the right to do so. You know, stand up comedians, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Seth Macfarlane, Saturday Night Live. These are the platforms for performing such acts of stereotypical tomfoolery. Sports commentators think they’re funny. They’re not. Unless you’re Tripping Olney.

The hype and the resulting ridicule would not exist outside of a big market like New York. ESPN loves these stories to happen on the East Coast. If Lin were still struggling to make the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, there’s no story. The media needs a guy like Jeremy Lin to breathe life and excitement into this lockout shortened season. It helps immensely when he’s putting up numbers and winning games. By the way, what’s the over/under on days it takes Lin and Carmelo to fist fight? Or Kung Fu? Wait, is that racist? Oh, I’m so confused, America!
Why are accomplishments overshadowed by ethnicity and stereotypes? This is definitely not specific to sports. This is a nationwide epidemic of narrow-mindedness. Sports’ racism is a byproduct of America’s deep-seeded racist history. It is up to us, intelligent sports fans and Generation Y-ers, to take that leap into the unknown that we have come to know so well. Music, entertainment, pickup games on the playground, neighborhood gentrification, health, politics. They all center around this notion that race determines destiny, but who decides when and where what happens, and why has it taken so long for us to take hold of the reins? I know we can do better. It’s only a matter of time.
On the subject of time: three weeks ago, Jeremy Lin didn’t even know if he’d be in the NBA or not. He might’ve been contemplating utilizing that fancy Harvard degree to become a doctor, lawyer, or business executive. Everything happens for a reason. Or does it? Many circumstances had to come to manifest for him to even dress in the #17 for New York.
Maybe a similar set of circumstances has to unfold for us as a country to address the underlying issues that exist in our great nation.
We may be the youngest country in the world, but we’re all grown ups now. Let’s start acting like it, America.
The world is watching.

They’re being overlooked. Again. I guess there’s good reason for that. The Knicks have a sensational story, the Heat are tearing the basketball universe a new asshole, and the OKC Thunder are playing fun, aggressive, and winning basketball. Don’t sleep on the Spurs either, Pops has that team humming at the right speed.

That kind of leaves the Bulls out of the championship picture, oddly enough. At the start of the season it seemed a foregone conclusion that we would see a Bulls/Heat rematch in the ECF, pending the injury story late in the year. I happen to still believe this is the case, but for some reason, people are starting to forget about Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. They’ve become an afterthought this season, which is strange given the storyline that was developing all last year.

I mean, Bulls/Heat should still be the premiere match up of the East, but as Linsanity has taken over rational minds, people are overlooking the Bulls. That’s cool, write in the Knicks as ECF contenders, let me know how that works out when they run into a team that specializes in stopping the pick and roll, the Knicks only offense. I wonder who drills pick and roll defense over and over and over again until it’s second nature?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE7jx3E39S8] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5x_aPyvrJs]

Oh right, those assholes.

Look, Lin is a good story, he’s doing some incredible things, but what gets overlooked is that the Knicks play absolutely zero defense, and Lin turns the ball over a lot. He’s scored the most points to start a career, yeah yeah, whatever. He’s also turned the ball over the most to start a career as well. That shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re matching the Knicks up with the Bulls and the Heat, two teams that defend pick and roll like a motherfucker. Especially the Heat. Because bad things happen when you turn it over against them.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pya4txb73sU]
have fun, you fucking turnover machine.

Which kinda leads me to my real question, can Derrick beat the Heat? Is 1>3? I already know that Rose is better than Linsanity, no matter what people want to start believing. The Bulls will beat the Knicks in the playoffs. The Knicks are still the Knicks, they still suck ass and need to bow at the alter of Michael every time they take the court.

Who's your daddy, and what does he do?

All Knick hate aside, they still suck ass and the only team that Bulls fans should be aware of are the Heat. We’ll probably get scared in the playoffs, the Hawks can be a pain in the ass, the Pacers are still annoying, the Sixers are getting that Doug Collins bump, but it’s still Bulls/Heat.

I don’t think it can happen. I’ve been saying this for awhile, but as much as I love Deng/Rose/Noah the Bulls don’t match up well with the Heat. Deng can’t cover LeBron, nobody can. Wade is a bitch of a match up, Bosh will eat up whoever is on him, it’s not looking too good for the Bulls. Chicago will have to execute a perfect defensive game plan to compete with the Heat, and even that might not be enough. The fan in me rebels against the notion that the Bulls can’t beat the Heat, but my head refuses to go along with my heart.

I’ll be rooting hard for the Bulls, I always do, but I’m not very optimistic that 1>3.

It was almost fitting and poetic that the morning would start this way. My eyes bulged out of my skull, and in between the pounding headache and a head full of questions that have yet to have answers, I heard the faint sounds of morning sports talk radio emanating from a strange room nearby.

It was standard fare that you hear on most mornings. The Bulls won. Rose didn’t play. Blackhawks won. Rondo is an alien-looking fuck. For some odd reason I thought about baseball season too. Garza this and Garza that. And then the sports talk radio started to seem louder.

Where was I? What is the meaning of this madness, I thought. And as the morning fog began to clear, and the jogging of the memory started, I realized where I was.

“Fuck. This is Berwyn. I know it. I can feel it by the pounding headache and the empty feeling in my wallet. This has to be Berwyn,” I thought.

It was Berwyn. For good or ill. And now that I think about it, that sports talk radio was there last night too when I was tucking myself into bed. In fact, what the fuck is it with this sports radio? Jesus, give it a rest sometimes. People are trying to sleep. Number crunching should be done in the morning, for fucks sake.

One of the creators of Chicago, A Drinking Town with a Sports Problem let me crash at his place and left the 670AM The Score radio on at a loud volume throughout the night. I guess the man was absorbing vital statistics and you have to admire that type of commitment to sports. Hunter S. Thompson used to have the CNN on blaring 24-7 because he was absorbing politics and news. Sports news is not any different. It is important. In some circles.

And I started to question what I would be listening to if I had that type of passion. Probably porn non-stop, but that would start a weird relationship with my neighbors. You’d be throwing out the garbage and your neighbor would look at you strange. Either women are getting their kicks there, or some kind of an explicit pornographic gauntlet is happening. Yikes.

“No it’s a religious thing. They’re Sufis. I don’t know anything about it, do you?  Or maybe they are Catholics? They are always saying that ‘God, they are coming.’ I called a travel agent, but the weird vibe I got ended the conversation. They are packing their bags, I think, so the noise will subside soon. Either that, or I’ll get some headphones. Welcome to America,” I think I would say. There is nothing like friendly conversation when you’re throwing out the garbage.

But back to the matter at hand. The guys at A Drinking Town threw an official party on Feb. 16 in order to celebrate Michael Jordan’s birthday at Cigars and Stripes, 6715 W. Ogden Ave., in Berwyn. The real reason was to drink massive amounts of booze, but that’s just my opinion.

From all my visits to the City of Berwyn, only one thing is certain. This will not be a sober trip. Chances of something going awry are always possible and you would be a fool to assume that this would be smooth sailing.

Either way, the party that the boys threw at Cigars and Stripes was quite awesome. No pretentious bullshit here. Just good times. Good food. Good place. Good vibes. Good people.

Stripes is the type of a bar that the Cheers bar would have been like if you added fucking Rock ‘N’ Roll music, that Devil-may-care attitude, and of course, that wonderful selection of brews that you can’t get at any of the pretentious Hey-I-want to charge $10 for a fucking beer places you see in River North. Sometimes you need places like that when you want to impress some date, but other than that, no drink on Earth should cost that much. Unless you put some hot celebrity’s tits in it, I don’t want to pay that much for a whiskey sour.

Since the theme of the party was Jordan’s birthday, the sponsors tried to accommodate by attempting to show “Space Jam.” Of course, despite some technical difficulties, the movie started with Serbian subtitles. It would have been better if the subtitles were Croatian because then you could make a case that this was Toni Kukoc’s copy of the film. Hey, we were celebrating the 90s.

Serbian or not, I never realized how childish the movie was. But what do you expect from a movie starring the Looney Tunes? “Space Jam” still kicks ass in its own way. Frankly, because of the Quad City DJs.

And as loony as things got, the party proved to be a success. You have to admire a place that sells cigars and then lets you smoke them in the back of the bar in the open air. No bullshit here. I admire that. God only knows that there are places that sell you something that you can’t enjoy on the premises. We’ll call these places downtown money drains. Effete smoke shops. Righteous porn stores. Non-drinking strip clubs.

Lost that loving feeling?

Don’t fret. Even though the concept of a bar is to sell a hangover, the Drinking Town would like to go a step up above whining about the ordeal and offer some tips on how to deal with the alcoholic bullet that you shot into your fucking face last night. Who knows, maybe you got laid too, and are trying to cope together.

So if the roots haven’t settled yet, here are some tips on beating that hangover, brother.

  1. Drink more. Some people frown on it. We call those people pussies. Or gainfully employed people. Sure, as bad as that parched throat is, there is nothing better than having a beer to cure that malady. Any beer, if you can that is. No one recommends going to work operating on alcoholic beverages. This is not “Mad Men.” This is life. Save it for the weekend. Or don’t. Take a belt of the coffin varnish right now. Who is stopping you? Your boss? Tell him that you had a lot of money wagered on last night’s game and like an idiot, you bet AGAINST the Blackhawks.
  2. Bloody Mary. The God of drinks for a hangover. The Mary will provide you with the nutritional nourishment you need. Tomato is good for you. Vodka is good for you, according to some Polish circles. And that celery stick can be used as a shoehorn in case you need to put your shoes on in order to drive the kids to school.
  3. Eggs. Anything with eggs will help. You can have eggs with aspirin. Or aspirin with eggs. Whatever is better. Get a bagel involved into the affair and you have a relationship that only water or tea can ease. Tell them that if those sunny-side-up eggs end up slimy and undercooked again that you would never visit the establishment again. The economy is bad. People should take pride in their work.
  4. Work. Nothing like manual labor to sweat out the small stuff. If you’re reading this then you’re probably a man who feels the need to dig a hole or something for nothing. Just because. Do it. Dig a hole, fix a cabinet, mop the floor, change the oil on your car. Nothing like work to beat the hangover. Soundtrack should be classic rock. Ya know, to feel American.
  5. Sleep. There’s no denying the inevitable. You’re fucking tired. Go to sleep. Unless work is bogging you down, and for many it is not in this economy, go to sleep and enjoy your day off. Watch the shows that are on during the day time in between naps. Ya know, the classic shows like Maury. Or Jerry. And see how fucked those people are. It will make you feel better either way. “He didn’t mean to hit me, he’s a goo-ood man, don’t take him away. I fell asleep in the driveway and he run over my head with the truck. He’s a goo-ood man, he don’t mean no harm. He’s passed out under the trailer right now with his dog Skinner.” – Bill Hicks.

Some of these may sound bitter, but they are not. They are right on par with how you feel when you are hungover after a great party. And while the good times may have passed, and the body is starting to say no, just remember that there will always be a new game, the next game and a new chance at the plate, when the winner or loser will either sock it out of the park or eat it in the dugout. Yes, sports are important. Go play, fans.

But don’t think that this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Remember when I said that only a fool would think that Berwyn is smoothing sailing? Apparently the street-sweeping rules apply on Fridays. And that parking ticket only reinforces my belief in Murphy’s Law. Hey, kudos to the gentlemen police officers that took the time and effort to place the ticket next to my village of whatever sticker at 3 a.m. It was like one municipality talking to another. “Hey, we give out as many tickets as you do too!”

But hell, it was a good time in Berwyn, and as Thompson always said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

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