Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July Is A Desert of Northwestern-Related Sports News

Summer has descended, the invincible Northwestern women's lacrosse juggernaut has unsurprisingly laid waste to all challengers, the Cubs' have plummeted into an unsurprising death spiral of injuries and the fact that the team is not very good to begin with, Carlos Zambrano has yelled at someone (the only reason why I would want to be a columnist for a Chicago sports newspaper would be to see how many times I could use that sentence as the lede in a sanctimonious demand to trade the hot-tempered hurler), and this blog will contain an unprecedented third straight reference to Kaiser Wilhelm II.


The Cubs' season is best summed up by this photo of reliever Jeff Samardzija getting
posterized by Albert Pujols in the first of Pujols's two consecutive walk-offs, which is
disappointing since he showed up to camp with eighteenth century count facial hair
which led me to believe that he would successfully fool batters with a series of
dastardly machinations and intrigue

Pretty much all that is left for Cubs fans is the hope for a truly epic Zambrano meltdown to make it worthwhile to even watch their games. As an avid amateur chronicler of Carlos Zambrano outbursts, I have to say I'm fairly disappointed at the miniature media frenzy that greeted his comments about Marmol's decision to throw a slider to Ryan Theriot in the Cubs-Cardinals series earlier this summer (as an aside, I'm really disappointed that Theriot did not get his hit off of Samardzija, because it would almost certainly lead to a replica of this conflagration-- in case you were wondering the number of times the hey this baseball player has early modern facial hair joke is funny it is decidedly less than two).

How can anyone be upset with a mere poor choice of words by Zambrano? Absolutely zero Gatorade containers were smashed with bats, not a one. As a Carlos Zambrano fan, I demand escalation, and this blog will no longer cover any Carlos Zambrano incident that does not involve him using some sort of anger-based sorcery to destroy every single Gatorade dispensing product within 3 square blocks of Wrigley Field, quenching neighborhood in an ocean of orange, lemon-lime, and blue, proclaiming he no longer answers to the authority of the umpires before ceremonially stripping the home plate umpire of his chest protector and giving it to the nearest bat boy, usher, or Ronnie Woo-Woo, and then disappearing into the clubhouse only to emerge riding a white stallion around the stadium as grateful patrons shower him with rose petals and valuables.


Many thanks to a sharp-eyed BYCTOM reader who sent me a spectacular article from New Zealand's Poverty Bay Herald from October 20, 1914 entitled "Is the Kaiser Insane? Russian Papers Quote Good Reasons." The article alleged that German prisoners, captured by Russian troops, divulged that the German press had not reported the Kasier's speech to rally the troops before the war:
Remember that the German people are the chosen ones of God. On me as German Empire the spirit of God has descended. I am His weapon, His sword, and his vice-regent. Woe to the disobedient. Death to cowards and unbelievers.
The article concluded that "Russian newspapers remark that his speech goes far to prove that the German Emperor is suffering from a familiar form of insanity."

What the article did not mention, however, is that I plan on using the final three sentences to end all presentations, job interviews, first dates, and casual conversations for the foreseeable future.

A medley of Kaiser hats, in order of aggression


Sound your ceremonial gongs, release the doves, and don your fanciest tunics, the NFL lockout is over. And, as if to compensate for subjecting fans to endless nonsense about arcane collective-bargaining nonsense, dozens of pictures of Jeff Saturday's suit collection, and an unfortunate reminder that the NFL is run by a cabal of tophat-wearing, cane-sporting plutocrats who spend most of their free time attempting to resurrect ineffective nineteenth century presidents in order to manipulate them into forming an unfathomable interlocking directorate that will allow them to take possession of the Moon and rotate amongst themselves for display in hastily constructed Moon atria in their favored summer palaces, the following week of free agency is going to be comically madcap.

The NFL players protested the lockout with a smart bulk
purchase of Soviet propaganda, giving them the ability to
denounce the owners as capitalists so greedy that they would
wear top hat/crown combinations, but occasionally mystifying
football fans with the poster on the right advocating that
"We will change the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan into a
republic of abundant literacy"

Lost in the shuffle is the fact that two Northwestern players finally made it to the NFL after going undrafted. Quentin Davie will be heading to the Lions, hoping to contribute to their terrifying defensive front, while Corbin Bryant will be staying home with the Bears to join fellow Wildcat Corey Wootton. The Bears are also trying to re-sign Nick Roach lest they start the 2011 season with the unfathomable possibility of only having one Wildcat on their roster.


The return of the NFL means that I can get excited about my favorite subplot of the 2011 season-- the camp battle between John Beck and Rex Grossman for the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback job.

As much as I enjoy Grossman's confusion at being handed a football helmet at
what appears to be the world's fanciest Lite Brite enthusiast convention,
Redskins fans should be more concerned about John Beck, who seems poised to
try to swindle dozens of them with counterfeit fan boat tickets

The reason why I'm so excited about this battle is because it further cements my theory that by far the funniest position in professional sports for someone to fail at is NFL quarterback. Every year, I run a fantasy football team that I call the Matt Millen Championship with the goal of putting together the most inept roster possible, and the idea of first overall pick Derek Anderson producing week in and week out, or taking a late round flier on Jimmy Clausen only to cheer as he fires pass after pass into the welcoming arms of the oppositions' defense, or racing to claim inexplicably starting Rex Grossman off the waiver wire makes me giddy.

Quarterbacks don't just have bad games. They self-destruct. They melt down. Maybe the only other position where comical meltdowns can occur is with crappy relief pitchers who usually have the decency to be morbidly obese or have stupid facial hair or extra digits (or, in the case of Antonio Alfonseca, have all of these combined).

Antonio Alfonseca, the platonic ideal of shitty relief pitcher. The photo at right was
supposed to be some sort of visual representation of the pouring gasoline onto the fire
cliche, but I admit that I got completely sidetracked google image searching for the
phrase "stuntman on fire" (it's mesmerizing) and then came across this bizarre
photograph of a man sprinting around on fire for a perfect number of spectators
(there are enough people there for people to know about it, perhaps through a blurb in
the local paper announcing "man to light himself on fire, flail around for our amusement,"
but not so big that it looks like it would be sanctioned by any sort of responsible organization).
It turns out that the man is Scotland's Keith Malcolm, valiantly setting a world record in
fire running, which apparently consists of donning a flame-retardant suit and then
seeing how long you can sprint, while on fire. I do not want to know how someone gets into
this activity or how the first record was set

There is something to be said about watching some guy waddle out from the bullpen, walk a couple of guys, and give up a backbreaking home run, but it is empirically less funny than a guy throwing interception after interception with a glazed look in his face. Goalies in soccer and hockey I suppose can also be subject to comical meltdowns, but their failures more often come from subtle lapses in their teammates that they have to do something utterly ridiculous and uncoordinated in order to be as funny.


The NBA lockout is possibly even more depressing and almost certain to lead to the cancellation of at least part of the NBA season. Fortunately, NBA players stayed in the public eye by playing an exhibition in the basketball-mad Philippines against their staunchest opposition. I would say that this fact caused me to look into PBA basketball, but that would be a naked lie since I came to look up the league because I was curious as to what happened to Cedric Ceballos. Ceballos, a former All-Star Swingman, played for the venerable San Miguel Beermen of the Philippine Basketball Association in 2004, which is rare even for a globe-trotting NBA washout.

The best thing about the PBA is that teams take their names directly from their sponsor-- not content to veil team sponsorship with underhanded nonsense such as "Chicago Bears Football Presented by Bank One," the teams take their names directly from the product that they are associated with. This naturally leads to convoluted name changes as they are acquired by new companies or are shifted to promote different brands. The Beermen are now known as the Petron Blaze Boosters while also serving stints as Magnolia Quench Plus, and the almost unbeatable Magnolia Beverage Masters.

The Petron Blaze Boosters are owned by the ubiquitous San Miguel
Corporation, a large global conglomerate that does global
conglomerate things such as operating out of a giant plant

The San Miguel Corporation owns two other PBA teams: the the Bangaray Ginebra Kings and the B-Meg Llamados, acquired in a merger with Purefoods. Unfortunately all of this corporate consolidation has created a nadir in Philippine Basketball team names. The B-Meg Llamados under Purefoods sported such spectacular names as the Purefoods Corned Beef Cowboys and, until last year, the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants. The league this year sports significantly lamer teams such as the Powerade Tigers. The only fantastic names left are the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters or the Talk 'n Text Tropang Texters, which brings to mind a bench riddled with repetitive stress injuries to thumbs.

The Tender Juicy Giants jersey: a
casualty of corporate consolidation
if there ever was one


Stay tuned for occasional BYCTOM updates on Cub futility, European basketball championships, and any major breakthroughs in Kaiser-related topics in the coming weeks.