Monday, January 27, 2003
To paraphrase ESPN's College Football Bowl commercials, "it's the least wonderful time of the year."
Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone, we enter February, the worst month for sports fans everywhere.
Think about it. The only major sports currently playing are the NBA, the NHL and College Basketball. But college hoops really take the stage in March, and February is like 28 days of foreplay. The NHL and NBA are at the midpoint of their tediously-long seasons, and their all-star games that take place this month are the worst in major sports -- except for the NFL's joke of a "Pro Bowl," which actually also takes place in February.
Baseball fans will happily point out that pitchers and catchers report during February, but you can't have a baseball game with just pitchers and catchers, which is why spring training games don't start in full force until March.
Over the years, many sports leagues have tried to fill the gap that is February -- most recently and notably the XFL, which failed miserably and folded mercifully after just one season -- but they don't suceed for one reason: we need a break.
Sports fans may think they eat, sleep and breathe sports, but sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Baseball season is very long, and it runs into football season, which is emotionally draining. For true sports fans, February is the equivalent of our all-star break -- a short interruption of our 11-month sport: fanaticism.
• With the economy in the dumps, not much was expected from this year's Super Bowl commercials, but there were some good entries. Once again, Anheuser Busch dominated the night with 11 spots, costing more than $20 million dollars. For a full recap of the night's between-game fare, check out the Ramblings section.
• ABC, which always does the best job of production during the regular season, was a little off for Super Bowl XXXVII, or so it seemed. The biggest problem was that the network insisted on showing too many replays. On more than one occasion, the replay of the previous play actually ran into the start of the next play. Sure, it isn't much to miss the snap, but it's annoying to cut from replay directly to Rich Gannon sitting in the pocket. On the good side, I have to give credit to John Madden for pointing out to Al Michaels that he might have to break out "do you believe in miracles" when the Raiders cut the Bucs lead to 13 with plenty of time left. Good banter for two guys working their first Super Bowl together.
• Hey, something non-Super Bowl related! For those of you who don't remember, Towson is co-hosting the men's lacrosse Final Four with Johns Hopkins, Loyola and UMBC at Ravens Stadium this year (and next year too). Now the Final Four has an official web site at lax4baltimore.com. There are a lot of "coming soon" pages, but there's some good news up there, as well as a way to get tickets. As lacrosse season starts (less than a month now) there'll be much more there, I'm sure. Now we just need to make sure that Towson is there on Memorial Day Weekend as well.
eBay Item of the Week
• Pretend you were a Bucs fan from the start with this old school "creamsicle" Bucs jersey. No. 14 (Testeverde) but no name. Current bid: $94.00. Ends Jan. 27, 2003, 6 p.m. PST.
• The Yankees will make at least one more big roster move before the season begins, trading one of their starting pitchers (and agreeing to pay most of his salary) for a minor league infield prospect.
-I'm sitting here wearing my creamsicle Bucs Alvin Harper jersey in semi-celebration of the Bucs win over Oakland in the Super Bowl. Because I have jerseys for every NFL team, I can do this, but I really hate the Bucs. I don't know why, I just do.
That said, my disappointment in the result of yesterday's game didn't prevent me from updating the site, on time for once. I've got a new SportsBytes up, along with a Super Bowl commercial recap in Ramblings. Oh, and I got a quick DVD review recap up in the movies section, covering all the DVDs I picked up in January.
-Oh, and time for a quick LeBron James update. He was cleared of all allegations in the Hummer investigation, proving once again that the OHSAA just wanted to look like they cared about James's amateur status while making sure he got to play the rest of the season. There's no way Gloria James could have been approved for a $50,000 loan unless she put up her son's NBA career as collateral. Of course, if the OHSAA, SVSM, and ESPN can make money off LeBron, why shouldn't his mom be able to do the same? What do you think? Let me know.
Well, given that three of the last six Super Bowls have been competitive and the economy is in the dumps, and has been for a couple years now, that isn't really the case anymore. Sure, there are still some good commercials, but for the most part the fare is average.
That said, there were still some memorable moments Sunday, not including the Bucs three interception returns for touchdowns.
- Two of the best commercials featured video tape gimmicks. The star of the night was the Budweiser commercial featuring the popular Cydesdales and their football game, this time being marred by an instant replay review. The use of the zebra was great imagery by A-B, and provided the commercial's punchline as well. The other VCR-related spot was a takeoff on Coors' Light's popular "twins." It featured the same spots as have been airing for awhile now (love songs and football), but the catch was whoever was watching them was fast forwarding to the parts with "the twins," then rewinding and rewatching the last shot of them. It was a clever way to reuse a commercial but make it fresh.
- The monster.com commercial with the truck barrelling out of control was definetly an eye-grabber, but it still didn't come close to the "when I grow up" commercial of a few years ago. Still, it's nice to see a dot-com that hasn't been completely destroyed by the economy.
- The two Bud Lite commercials featuring guys needing to go into a bar and getting weird looks for different reasons weren't bad, but again just weren't as good as some of the stuff from two or three years ago. The worst part about both of them (the dog on the head and the upside-down clown) was that the punchline was easily guessed at the start of the commercial. Don't expect these spots, which did score highly in USA Today's ad meter, to air too frequently.
- The biggest disappointment for me was not about a commercial that aired, or even one that didn't (I was hoping to see the Yao Ming/Verne Troyer PowerBook spot) but was related entirely to ad meter. The Gatorade commercial featuring a young Michael Jordan playing against the current Michael Jordan was visually stunning, and even in this world of CGI left people wondering how Gatorade did it (especially when the 1982 MJ walks in at the end). But it scored near the middle of the pack, and the reviewers said the low score didn't have much to do with the fact that the commercial has been airing for weeks now. I still stop and watch every time I see it, just like I do with the PowerBook commercial (though only when I see it on TV. In the store, it's like background music).
- Speaking of Yao Ming, he's starting to become an endorsement star. The PowerBook spot is one of the best of the year, and his "Yo-Yao" Visa Check Card debut was one of the biggest laugh inducers of the night. Hopefully he'll get a shoe deal soon, and maybe a soft drink deal to round it out.
- Last thought. ESPN dropped the ball on the "without sports" series. The "there'd be no next year" spot is nice, but the "there'd be no one to coach" spot is the one that grabs your attention. Given the free airtime (Disney owns both ESPN and ABC, so money just changes hands between divisions), the Worldwide leader should have gone for the more powerful spot, leaving the new one to debut in a less-scrutinized setting.
A surprisingly good movie starring Vin Diesel as an underground "action sports" star who is recruited by the CIA to help recover a deadly weapon from terrorists. Aside from the implausible plot, there isn't much to complain about on this DVD. The transfer is high quality, and the sound, while extremely loud in sections, is very crisp. The special features are self serving at times, and the deleted scenes aren't enchancing to the movie, but the features on the Pontiac GTO are very cool, and I almost want one (but I just got a new car, so d'oh). Score: 7.
This is the kind of movie that needs to rely on it's special features to be a good DVD. The movie isn't visually special, nor is the sound rich, so DVD vs. VHS isn't much of an improvement. Howerver, the DVD is worth it for the outtakes alone (as could be expected with a movie with this case). There are also some good deleted scenes, and the commentary isn't bad either. Score: 8.
A disappointing DVD to say the least. Sure, the inclusion of M. Night Shyamalan's first alien movie was a neat feature, but it wasn't very good, and it was short. Plus, the DVD doesn't really explain anywhere why the director felt the need to show the alien creature, rather than keep it a mystery. The revelation of the alien was one of the movie's most disappointing pieces, and a justification would have been nice. Still, the movie looks good, and the DVD audio transfer makes the suspensful moments stand out. Score: 7.
The Good Girl
This movie didn't have a long theatrical release, so the DVD for me was more about the movie, which was spectacular. The story, centering around a semi-mid-life crisis for Jennifer Aniston's Justine, was well done. The director did a great job of making Aniston seem like an average girl, which is no easy task. And then the DVD producers did an even better job of getting Aniston to sit down and do a revealing scene-specific commentary. Score: 8+.
This is a DVD. Forget the movie, which is actually quite funny, and doesn't require any scene skipping like the last two Austin Powers flicks. The special features are very worthwhile. A couple of the deleted scenes are great, while some of the extended scenes are better than the final cut version. The best part is the inclusion of the original web shorts that lead to the creation of the movie. Sure, they're not great and the animation is crude, but it's nice to see the origins of what is likely to be a star of a series of movies. Score: 9.
I also picked up a Twilight Zone collection and CB4, but because those are basically older releases, I'm not going to rehash them here. Just know this: Vol. 2 of the Twilight Zone includes four of the best episodes of the series, and that CB4 barely scratches the surface of how funny Chris Rock would become.
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
-I'm a dumbass.
No, not because it took me forever to get my most recent update online, but because once I finished it, I forgot to upload the biggest thing -- the ramblings article.
Of course, it wouldn't have mattered anyway. I just noticed today that all the sidebar links to Ramblings actually linked to Writings for some reason. That's fixed now.
So, now, for real, check out the MJ thing. It's good. Weird, but good.
-Again, I'm late with the updates this week, but I do have more than just SportsBytes for you today. In the Ramblings section, I have the long awaited Michael Jordan Consipiracy Theory article. It's a true rambling, as in it doesn't make much sense, but it makes perfect sense, which is what makes it creepy.
-I also added my Top 25 Most Played playlist to the iTunes section, so you can see which songs are coming up the most. No. 1 is "Trade it All, Part II" by Fabolous featuring P. Diddy and Jagged Edge. Of course, the play counts are only since iTunes 3 came out, so obviously newer songs are going to be played more.
-Work has been going pretty well lately. We're getting caught up on repairs (though I don't want to jinx it) and things haven't seemed as bad lately, though I still haven't made much progress on the book (when I do, I'll post an updated PDF for you to read).
-Otherwise, things are slow, and there's really not much to talk about, so I'll just drop to the closing.
Now, first let me put a disclaimer here -- I have no proof of any of this. I cooked this up one day and started putting it together, and too much of it made sense to be completely dismissed. Over the years I fine tuned it, and eventually I want to look up the dates of some of the specific events to see how they match.
Let's start at the beginning -- shortly after the Chicago Bulls won their third consecutive title by beating the Phoenix Suns in six games. Jordan was on top of the basketball world, but something was brewing that was destined to knock him down -- gambling problems.
Jordan was a big-time gambler, and everyone around the league knew this, but the public wasn't really aware of it. However, one of Jordan's gambling buddies -- one who claimed he was owed millions of dollars for golfing bets -- was ready to go public, and the league wasn't happy about it. David Stern knew Jordan had been near the edge of the rules and an investigation would probably have unveiled some actual violations.
No one in the NBA wanted that, because even an investigation that came up with nothing would have sullied Jordan's image -- not to mention the fact that such an investigation would have been seen by the media as a farce set up to protect Jordan.
So, rather than an investigation done publicly, and a possible suspension, the NBA approached Jordan and the Bulls with the idea of a "retirement" -- actually a one-year suspension without any of the public knowing it was a suspension. After one season, Jordan would announce that he was ready to play again, and would come back.
The plan worked at first, but a problem arose. Jordan was bored. So, in the spring, he asked Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf if he could play baseball for the season. Reinsdorf went along, figuring Jordan would give up baseball after not making the Sox roster in spring traing. However, Jordan fell in love with baseball again -- as he had when he was a kid -- and decided that he was really going to pursue it, even if it meant giving up basketball for good. And besides, the Bulls were doing well, and were on track for their fourth consecutive NBA title.
By the end of spring training, Jordan was willingly going to the minor leagues, and the Bulls were in the playoffs, on a roll even without Jordan. When the Bulls went up 2-1 on the Knicks in the conference semis, Reinsdorf called in the league to actually help the Bulls lose, so he could go back to Jordan and tell him how much he needed him. The league complied, had Hugh Hollins call the non-foul on Scottie Pippen to make sure the Knicks won that game, and then the series, and the Bulls were gone.
Jordan was unmoved. He wanted to play baseball, and play baseball he did. He even went to the Arizona Fall League and played well there, and by this point, he thought he had a shot at the bigs. There was one problem -- at this point, there were no bigs. The MLB players were on strike, and there was a complete stalemate with the owners, who were led by -- and here's where the whole "conspiracy" part of this starts to come together -- Bulls and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
During the winter, Reinsdorf promises Jordan he won't ask the former NBA star to be a replacement player, even assuring him that the strike will be over before then. However, behind the scenes, Reinsdorf makes sure the strike drags on, and then even breaks his promise to Jordan, asking him to cross the picket line.
That's the final straw for Jordan, who had been playing basketball casually to keep in shape. Jordan knows crossing the picket line, no matter how well he played, would damage his image more than a suspension would have. He approaches Reinsdorf and says he won't play as a scab, but would Reinsdorf consider letting him rejoin the Bulls, because he needs to stay competitive in something, and the one-year period has long since passed.
Shortly after Jordan rejoins the Bulls, Reinsdorf ends the strike stalemate, signs Albert Belle to a huge contract, and eventually the Bulls win three more titles.
Did this all play out like this, or was it just a grand series of coincidences? Who knows? If it did play out this way, then it's in fact possible that the only people who were ever clued in were Jordan, Reinsdorf, Stern and maybe David Falk (he is that powerful), and if they know, they're not saying anything. What do you think of this? Drop me a line and let me know.
Monday, January 20, 2003
I'm very happy the Oakland Raiders won the AFC Championship game and are playing in the Super Bowl, but not for the obvious reasons.
Sure, it's nice that Jerry Rice is getting to play in another Super Bowl, or that Jon Gruden is going to suffer supreme defeat at the hands of his old team. But that's not why I'm happy they won. I just needed a change of luck.
You see, two weeks ago, when I went to Towson, I wore three different NFL jerseys. On Friday I wore Michael Vick's No. 7, and then on Saturday, the Atlanta Falcons fell to the Philadelphia Eagles. On Saturday, I wore the black and gold of Plaxico Burress, whose Steelers fell to the Tennessee Titans. Then on Sunday, I impersonated Terrell Owens, who got crushed as a member of the 49ers in their defeat at the hands of Tampa Bay.
Then, after wearing my Oakland jersey on Saturday, I watched the NFC Championship while wearing the jersey of injured punter Sean Landeta of the Philadelphia Eagles -- who lost to the Bucs. D'oh. So it took Oakland's win over Tennessee for me to avoid going 0-for-5 for the last two weeks.
And, thanks to the advice of Crash Davis, I'm not going to mess with a streak. I'll be wearing my lucky reversible Tim Brown jersey on Sunday, rooting for the Bucs to go down in flames.
• The mass media did a great job of reporting about the UConn women's basketball team's record win streak this past week, but kept making one major mistake. Often times, the media referred to UConn breaking the streak of Leon Barmore's Louisiana Tech team, which wasn't really accurate. Sure, the record was held by the Lady Techsters, but Barmore was only an assistant on that team. Sonja Hogg was the head coach at the time, even if Barmore is better known now. Lets put it this way: 20 years from now, no one is going to refer to this as Chris Dailey's UConn team, no matter how good of a head coach she eventually becomes.
• Tuesday was Super Bowl Media Day, and this year's event offered up one of the worst things Media Day has ever seen. Fox's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" (a misnomer if there's ever been one) sent a Don King impersonator (Aries Spears of Mad TV) to the Tampa Bay Bucs' portion of Media Day to do basically nothing but disrupt things. It was a complete farce. At least when MTV and Nickelodeon send people, they ask questions and file reports. If the NFL brass had any balls, they'd revoke Fox Sports' credentials for the rest of the week for pulling such a stunt. But considering the network is paying billions of dollars to broadcast regular season and playoff games (plus every few Super Bowls), the league is going to do nothing of the sort.
• The quest for the America East defectors crown hit a road bump last week. Towson got off to a good start, beating Hofstra for its first CAA win of the season, but then got shelled by Drexel, after sweeping the Dragons last season. The Tigers have very little to play for this season, so defending the fictional "defectors title" (the best record in games among Towson, Delaware, Drexel and Hofstra) is high on the list. The Tigers managed to go 5-1 last season, losing only to Hofstra in Towson, so they could still match that. It'll probably take more performances like those Lawrence Hamm has provided of late. He averaged 14.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists last week to be named CAA Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. He's really starting to come along, just like Michael Hunt said his freshmen would. Things could actually be looking up in the TigerDome.
eBay Item of the Week
• Two tickets to Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego. No location known, as the tickets were from a Charity Auction. Ends Jan. 22, 2003, 4:04 p.m PST.
• No Randomness this week. Oakland 31, Tampa Bay 13.
Saturday, January 18, 2003
-You ever have one of those days where you question why you do what you do?
Well, that's what Thursday was like for me. It just seems like after about 1:30, nothing was going right, and I got extremely frustrated. Going to Towson last weekend and covering the basketball game made me realize how much I missed that.
I also felt like my job was getting in the way of me finishing my book, or at least making some progress on it.
Fortunately, Friday was much better, from a work standpoint and things are looking up for me. I might try to do some work on my book tonight or tomorrow, and I'll get some site updates up this weekend as well.
I finally picked up "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City," last year's game of the year, and I'm probably going to play it for awhile this afternoon, but I will get some more of this site done.
Thursday, January 16, 2003
First I was in Towson, and I wanted to do an update from there, but I ended up being really busy and didn't have many free moments. Hell, I didn't even leave until Sunday at 7 p.m., which meant I didn't get back to Connecticut until 1 a.m. on Monday. Then I had to work on Monday, and I ended up getting sick Monday night and so I couldn't update this sit then.
-I was still sick on Tuesday, and went to bed very early. Then yesterday, I needed to catch up on my sleep -- I didn't sleep very well when I was sick -- and I did that, knowing I'd have a chance to update today, since I don't go into work until 3 p.m.
-So, I have a new SportsBytes up, and an article in Ramblings about Towson men's basketball. I'll try to have the MJ theory thing up by this weekend, and maybe I'll even type in the poetry like I've been promising since day one of this site.
-I did update the iTunes library, which is now broken down into groups of 1000 songs, rather than by letter. I'll try to keep that updated every two weeks. I also updated the DVD Library with my latest additions, which I'll review this weekend.
-Peace out y adios por ahora.
The Tigers were coming off a relatively close loss to James Madison, but it was a game in which Brian Allen, Gerald Weatherspoon and Derrick Goode didn't play in. A casual fan would have instantly thought, "hey, if those guys had played, maybe we would have won."
That thought was dispelled by George Mason, who beat Towson by 34 points in the Towson Center, despite the presence of Allen and Goode (Weatherspoon still sat).
After the game, Head Coach Michael Hunt explained that he sat the three experienced players because they hadn't been performing in practice and the freshmen had. In fact, he pointed out that none of his freshmen had missed a single practice all season, which is one of the most impressive statistics I've ever heard.
Hunt made a good point, saying that if his freshmen are going to show up and want to practice and want to play for him, then why not give them the most playing time and let them see what they can do, and to be honest, I agree.
Throughout his career, Brian Allen has gone through slumps like this, and they've almost always been mental, and they've always only been broken when he's hit rock-bottom, by being benched.
Of course, as Hunt pointed out, sometimes for a program to rebound, it needs to first hit rock bottom.
"Our program has been dead. We're at rock bottom right now. It's the older players I'm frustrated with," Hunt said. "It's time to cut the dead branches off and let the youth grow."
I applaud Hunt for trying to do just that, especially because some of the young players do show a lot of promise. However, they do all seem to each have a big hole in their games. Lawrence Hamm is a great slasher and an improving rebounder, but his outside shot is suspect. Jacob McCartney struggles with possession in the high post. Stephen Warner just needs some all-around improvement. Cilk McSweeney and Andrius Petkunas probably will benefit from collegiate experience (as an aside, I got to talk to McSweeney, who played a year of prep ball in Connecticut, after the game, and he seems like a great kid who reminded me a little of Sam Sutton. Hopefully his game will develop the same way), though Hunt said the duo had hit a wall leading up to the win over Hofstra yesterday.
In all honesty, bigger things were expected from this year's Towson team, especially after Hunt got so much out of Sutton, Kerry Augustus and Mike Shin last season. But it's not his fault that Goode showed up out of shape or Allen can't get his head screwed on straight.
I have faith in Michael Hunt to be the man to lead Towson to success. He deserves that from us.
Monday, January 13, 2003
Last night on ESPN's broadcast of the Kings-Mavericks game, the two announcers began discussing the 2004 U.S. Olympic team and who should be on it. They mentioned that the USOC is trying to create a team make-up with 7 or 8 star players who'll get most of the playing time, three role guys who can do certain things, but will mostly just be happy to be there, and one college player.
Now, I don't mind that so much, but here's where things get absurd. USA Basketball is seriously considering bringing Mike Bibby as one of the "stars" and is thinking about Brad Miller as a role player. Brad Miller? Have we fallen this far, to be sending Brad Miller as one of the 12 (or 13, considering Shaq isn't playing) best American basketball players?
Here's how I think the Olympic team should look, recognizing that Shaq isn't going to play.
The starting five should be Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett and Chris Webber.
Where's the center you ask? Well, in international play, you don't really need a true center, unless you can get a Shaquille O'Neal. Look at other nation's top big men. They're guys like Vlade Divac, Dirk Nowitzki and Yao Ming -- players who play just as well away from the basket as they do under it.
Now, onto the three backup stars. They must be Jason Kidd (who would actually be a 1A at point with Iverson), Tim Duncan (a more traditional 4/5 man), and Paul Pierce -- the scorer off the bench.
And, putting aside this role player crap, two stars who would accept lesser roles and should be included would be Ray Allen (great shooter to bring off the bench in a pinch) and Jerry Stackhouse (who has put aside his ego the past two seasons and turned into a good all-around player).
The big controversy in my mind is the last two spots. Let me go out on a limb and suggest that the third role player -- and 11th man on the team -- be someone who might not play at all, but would serve notice to the world that America is serious about not losing: Michael Jordan. Sure, he'd be 41, and might not play except at the end of blowouts, but the intimidation factor would be immeasurable.
And the last roster spot should go to one man, and one man only. LeBron James. Yes, he'd only be 19, but if we're serious about sending our best players, you can't leave James out of that mix. Need I remind you of his sick between-the-legs jam last week? Or the 11 threes he nailed a few days ago? He's the real deal.
• Every Monday night I get an idea of what the CAA could be with better leadership, thanks to ESPN. The network has long had it's Big Monday concept for college basketball, and for the past couple years, the night has featured a Big East game, a Big 12 game, and the night-cap has been a Mountain West game. Now true, the MWC has had more tournament success than the CAA, but top to bottom, the conference isn't much better. The CAA needs to work on getting a much, much better TV deal if it's going anywhere as a conference.
• We're less than two weeks away from the biggest TV spectacle of the season, and I can't help but wonder one thing: what commercials will the Super Bowl present us this season? It's always the biggest media day of the year, and I hope the fare is better than recent years -- though given the economy, it seems unlikely.
• The men's basketball team broke a long losing-skid by beating Hofstra last night. However, the big story this week was Michael Hunt's post-game comments after Saturday's big loss to George Mason, in which he said the team had hit "rock bottom" and his experienced players weren't providing the leadership he needed. Check out the Ramblings section for more on this.
eBay Item of the Week
• A Hummer H2 2003 model, just like LeBron James has (minus the three TVs, gold rims and custom "King James" seat cushion embroidery). 2,192 miles. Starting Bid: $50,000. Ends Jan. 20, 2003, 11:48 a.m. PST.
• The UConn women tied the all-time women's basketball win streak record with their 54th in a row last night. They'll finally lose when they face Notre Dame later this year, making for an interesting comparison. UCLA's record men's streak of 88 wins in a row was bookended by losses to Notre Dame. If the Irish break UConn's streak, the same will be true. Only in real life can something that surreal happen.
Thursday, January 09, 2003
-I've got both a big and small update right now.
-No new articles, reviews or anything of the like has been posted, with the exception of this front page update. I've been very busy the past few days with work, so I haven't gotten a chance to write anything new. Oh, but I promise that soon, in Rambings, I'm going to have the ultimate rambling: my Michael Jordan first retirement consipiricy theory piece. I've seen this thing briefly mentioned by other columnists, but I was talking about this back in 1996, and I've fleshed most of it out. I don't think any of it's actually true, but it's a fun read -- or it will be.
-So what's the big update then? Well, if you were paying attention, Tuesday was Steve Jobs's MacWorld Expo Keynote presentation. In addtion to Final Cut Express, iLife, Keynote and the new PowerBooks, he introduced the public beta of Safari. Safari is the new web browser made by Apple, and it looks beautiful and runs fast. One problem was that this site didn't render correctly, thanks to some sloppy coding by yours truly.
-I fixed the coding and now both this site and SportsPickle.com look fine in Safari, as well as Netscape, Mozilla and Chimera. So that's the big thing.
-The other big thing is that I'm going to Towson this weekend to visit my friends. It should be fun. I haven't seen Jen, Jess, Saul and Eric since early September, so it'll be nice to catch up with them.
-Peace out and adios por ahora.
Monday, January 06, 2003
- Miami got robbed. The pass interference call on 4th down was a joke. Ohio State receiver Chris Gamble got both hands on the ball before he was touched. In the NFL, that call is never made, much less at such a critical juncture.
- Ohio State does deserve credit for coming up with a big play on 4th-and-14 to keep the drive alive in the first overtime. It was a perfectly run route and a well thrown pass.
- Maurice Clarett's talk after the game about wanting to play on defense because he's too talented to be limited to one side of the ball is insane. He missed three games because of injury this season just playing running back. He's way too fragile to play tailback.
- Why didn't Miami throw more often to Kellen Winslow in the first three quarters. OSU obviously had no answer for him, and he's even better than Giants rookie and former Miami star Jeremy Shockey.
- Along those lines, even with Miami's loss, I'm now convinced that a team put together from Miami's past three teams -- the ones that combined to win 34 in a row -- would make the NFL playoffs. Think about it. Ken Dorsey at quarterback. Clinton Portis, James Jackson and Willis McGahee at tailback. Najeh Davenport at fullback. Santana Moss, Daryl Jones and Andre Johnson at wide receiver. Winslow and Shockey at tight end. An offensive line anchored by Bryant McKinnie and Brett Romberg. And that's just the offense. On defense you'd have NFL players like Ed Reed, Philip Buchanon and Mike Rumph -- and that's just the backfield. They'd also have Dan Morgan and Damione Lewis, as well as their current stars. I wouldn't want to try to stop that, would you?
- Craig Krenzle impressed me with his toughness, but I can't help but think that the Buckeyes relied too much on him and didn't lean on their tailbacks enough in the second half. They could have avoided the whole overtime situation had they not mismanaged the offensive game-plan.
- Keith Jackson is an awesome announcer. I'm glad he didn't retire for real.
- Last thought: OSU has very little chance of repeating. I think the whole Clarett controversy is going to gain steam in the off-season, rather than go away. He might even end up transferring, sitting out a year to get healthy, then playing a year and leaving for the NFL. Really, I think Miami has a better chance to be playing for a national title next year than Ohio State.
The last movie in the trilogy was released in 1990, and yet, more than 12 years later, there were still no DVDs.
Finally, in December, the trilogy hit stores in the form of a DVD box set -- no individual movies were released, and the set itself comes in a special three-disc case, so it can't be broken up easily.
Of course, the set is more than worth it's cost, even if you're not a fan of one of the three movies (usually the third and final installment).
Despite having been released in 1985, "Back to the Future" looks surprisingly crisp on DVD, with a quality transfer. The sound in the opening scenes is particularly strong, and the colors in the 1950s look just right.
The second movie is the one that gets the best DVD treatment, with the future scenes looking particularly good, if not somewhat unrealistic.
The third movie, the one set in the old west, doesn't look as good as the others on DVD, but it does benefit from being included -- people have given it a bad rap over the years, but watching all three movies in sequence makes the third one seem particularly good.
Some of the special features are overkill -- three movies worth of deleted scenes serve to prove mostly why they were deleted -- but the hoverboard test is very cool, as is the inclusion of an original making-of documentary.
The trivia track is particularly nice for those of us that like to know every little thing about every movie we watch -- basically every IMDB user.
Of course, now that Back to the Future is available on DVD, we have to turn our attention to other long-awaited series. Star Wars Trilogy anyone?
However, the DVD is the exact opposite - while the movie is still good, the features don't add much and the transfer doesn't seem as good as it should be.
In theaters, almost everything about Minority Report seemed to be slick and glossy where it needed to be, and human where it was needed. However, that doesn't come through on the DVD. For some reason, it seems kind of flat. The picture is beautiful, and the sound is strong, but it just isn't what a DVD should be.
As for the special features, well, there are a lot of them. I haven't even gotten through all of them yet. The stuff about Spielberg putting together a team of experts to design the future 50 years from now was interesting, but I'd already read about that stuff plenty of times before. Some of the stuff seems way too self congratulatory, especially from Spielberg.
The movie itself is still good, but multiple viewings reveal large plot holes that mar the overall quality of the film.
Still, all that said, this DVD belongs in your collection. The movie is one of the best of 2002, and it was filmed beautifully, even if the DVD doesn't do it justice. Plus, it's better than any other Tom Cruise movie of the past five years, and Samantha Morton is still a scene stealer.
Well, I got a day off today, so here it is, my first entry of 2003.
-It's been an interesting year so far. It seems like it snows every day, and the mall closed early one day this week, the second time in less than a month that's happened. Otherwise, things are going well at work. The Macworld San Francisco Expo Keynote is tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to it, my first as an Apple employee.
-As for the site, I've got a new SportsBytes up, a short review of the Minority Report DVD as well as the Back to the Future trilogy, and an extra sports column about the Fiesta Bowl.
-Oh, and I changed the Tech Talk section to Ramblings. I can't really comment on any sort of technology without appearing partial or violating my non-disclosure agreement. Plus, there's always stuff I want to write about that doesn't fit in any section. So I'm going to put it there. The Fiesta Bowl thing is there, and more stuff will be there soon.
-Peace out, adios por ahora.
This might have been one of the most wild weeks in football ever, considering the combiation of college and pro games and the finality of all of them.
First, there was the Fiesta Bowl on Friday, which deserves a column in of itself, and gets it in my ramblings section. Still, let me say one thing here: if there ever was a use for the Instant Classic designation on ESPN Classic, this game was it. A double-overtime national championship game that came down to fourth-and-goal for the defending champs.
Then the weekend went into overdrive with the NFL Wild Card playoffs. Usually the wild card round is the worst round, because it involves the worst playoff teams. But this year's No. 6 seeds weren't traditional No. 6 seeds. Atlanta, the NFC No. 6, featured Michael Vick, the most exciting player in football, and Cleveland, the six-seed in the AFC, was constantly playing close games.
Saturday's games were nuts, with the Jets destroying the Colts (and props to Bill Simmons for pointing out that the combination of playoff-chokers Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning for Indy made the Jets an easy choice) and the Falcons making supreme history against the Packers.
If the opening day's two blowouts weren't enough, Sunday featured two of the top six comebacks in NFL playoff history. There's no way the Steelers should have been able to come back on the Browns, not with Jerome Bettis running like he has been. And the Giants, well, they probably shouldn't have been in the playoffs, but blowing a lead like that is just ridiculous.
Now the only question, besides who will win the Super Bowl (and I'm still thinking Steelers over Falcons), is can the rest of the playoffs possibly top this weekend?
• LeBron James has been on ESPN2 twice now, and both times he's had off games, but his team has won. This time, Dick Vitale wasn't around to go crazy over James's play, but the hype does seem to be getting a little out of control. As much as I enjoy watching James play, I'd be willing to not see him on national TV again until the NBA Draft.
• The idea of having ABC broadcast playoff games is a very good thing. First off, it means the Sunday games for the wild card round get announced by FOX and CBS's top teams. Second, it means we get to experience two games of the best production work on TV. So much attention is given to the announcing teams, but there's a lot more that goes into making a football game look good on TV. ABC has all of it.
• A little off topic, but still Towson related this week. The Eagles play the Falcons in the divisional playoffs this week in what could be Sean Landeta's last game in the NFL. To be more precise, it would be his last game as a member of an NFL team, but he won't play. He's on injured reserve, and it seems unliekly that he's going to be back for another season. For a few years now, Landeta has been the Tigers' only link to the NFL, and unless Jamal White manages to latch on with a team, he could be the last link for awhile. He's the NFL's all time punts leader, and a stand-up representative for Towson University. Now if he could just get that degree...
eBay Item of the Week
• Along those lines, a Sean Landeta autographed card. Starting Bid: $2.99. Ends Jan. 11, 2003, 2:15 p.m. PST.
• Well, last week I predicted that a football championship game would go to double-overtime. I just got it wrong by a few weeks. So what's my slightly-off prediction for this week? UConn will go into the NCAA Tournament undefeated. Men or women? That's your call.