I’m Baaaaaaack

There was a time when this site was called ‘Baloolapalooza.com’and I was a sports writer here. Times have changed, we are Media Rebellion now. And since I stopped writing sports columns here a lot has changed. The Big Unit has come and gone from the big apple. The St. Louis Cardinals showed us there is a reason they play the games. Sidney Crosby reminded me that Hockey was still around. The 76ers traded all world guard Allen Iverson and reminded me of why I hate Philly and they still haven’t won anything since 1983, hell maybe not that much has changed.

A-Rod Overpaid?… If Mr. Posh Spice can make 50 million a year playing soccer and say he is doing it for the children of America then give A-Rod whatever he wants. At least people in this country watch his sport. And if you want to do something for the children of America can you please start by teaching them not to lie. There are 251 million reasons you are now in LA. What’s that? You thought it was just 250? Well the other one is because Tom Cruise told you to. Great, scientology how has the spice girls too.

On a lighter note pitchers and catchers report to camp in a month or so. Or in the case of the New York Mets catchers report because they sure as hell don’t have any pitching. I hear they are holding tryouts for ace of the staff, anyone have Brein Taylor’s cell phone number?

So Eagles fans, talk to me. Did you really think you were going to beat the Saints? The organization that has shown heart, determination and class. The Eagles are from a city that traded a warrior in AI, threw snowballs at Santa Clause and the most identifiable sports persona is a fictional boxer. Philly has no shot at a championship in any sport within the next 5 years. Their football team hates its quarterback, their baseball team has a good right side of the infield, an underperforming shortstop, less pitching than the afore mentioned Mets and only one good outfielder, and if you added the ratings of the basketball team and hockey team that any of the video games that come out next year, combined they wont equal AI’s points per game. I really do think they should just outlaw professional sports in Philly before they skin the Easter Bunny.

I realize that my article has shown a tremendous amount of east coast bias so here is my tribute to the rest of the country. The Saints will win the Super Bowl. Then again the Chargers were my last pick and we saw how well that went. Does anyone else get the feeling like New England is Andre the Giant and Indy is Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 3?

Here are my picks for this weekends games:

Indy vs. New England

Well I guess: **puts on a robe and dyes hair white**
To be the man you gotta beat the man, woooooooooo!!!!!!

Seriously tho, Tom Brady is 12-1 in the playoffs and has Jabar Gaffney looking like an all pro. This guy couldn’t even make the Eagles depleted receiving core and he is catching touchdowns like he is being covered by the Giants secondary. But it’s hard to believe that Peyton Manning could have 3 poor playoff games in a row, this guy is the most prepared, professional player in the league. And he makes great commercials!

Indy has looked just bad on offense in its first 2 playoff games with the exception of Joseph Addai in the opener against the defensive powerhouse of Kansas City. The Colts have looked average and the Pats have looked good as only the Pats can. Still this is Peyton manning, even if he has looked like Eli in these last two games. I’m gonna go with Peyton and the colts over the Pats on an Adam Vinatieri field goal, 27-24.

New Orleans vs. Chicago

I don’t know that this game is even going to be close. The Bears have no offense and their Defense is shaky with DT Tommy Harris on the shelf and Tank Johnson looking over his shoulder making sure the cops aren’t arresting him between plays.

Reggie Bush and Duce McAllister are this generation Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen. And with no Al Davis to screw this up we might be in for a long run of duel running back greatness. And Drew Breese is better than any Quarterback that the raiders had back in the Jay Schrader era. Man I’d love to play Tecmo Super Bowl, those Raiders vs. these Saints. That would be a fun game! Anyway, back to the here and now. Saints 25 Bears 13.

It’s great to be back in the swing of writing and you will be hearing more and better from me in the weeks to come.

The Gut: Jesus is our savior? I think not!

As a die hard fan of the New York Mets I have been praying for years to god for my team to go out and make the moves to bring us back to respectability. Just when I had lost all hope and stopped “believing” I learned a valuable, yet controversial lesson. There is no proof that Jesus Christ was our savior, but Omar Minaya sure is.

When first introduced as GM I was skeptical at best. This is the guy who ran the lowly Expos and got no where. He traded Javier Vasquez to the Yankees when Boston was offering a better deal. Nothing else he did made any sense. Why were the Wilpon’s so willing to hand this guy the keys to the kingdom? Well for once they either knew more than I did or the old adage “even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while” came true.

The first move he made that I loved, even if no one else did, was hiring Willie Randolph as the new manager. Willie was a hell of a player and had been a coach with the Yankees for quite a while. Having played and coached in the big apple means that he knows the media firestorm he is getting himself into. Him working for the Yankees also means he has been around egos and more importantly winning. He won’t come into our clubhouse with a negative, losing attitude.

Now some have called me a profit for this, but sometime during the World Series I said that Pedro Martinez would be in New York, but not playing for the Yankees. Some laughed at me, some called me crazy, hell I’m sure some said worse but no one believed me. Well on December 16th (my little brother’s birthday and I got a present.) my vision came true and we introduced our new ace. Then came another bold prediction from me…

A new national holiday was put on the calendar of every Mets fan this year. January 11th will forever be known as Carlos Beltran day. While the big off season acquisition by the Yanks was busy beating up a camera man and “trying” to apologize for it, Carlos was busy flashing his charismatic smile and saying all of the right things. Talking about the “new Mets” and the new direction of this once proud franchise. Part of that new direction maybe adding another Carlos in former Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado.

Was Jesus able to turn water into wine? Eh, maybe. But taking an underachieving Mets team and turning them into contenders, that’s a real miracle. Now if Omar could just help me out with some of the other things I prayed for I would get a “wwomd” tattoo.

The Gut: Faking it

You know we have all heard the stories. Stories of women telling their man that they were an absolute stallion in bed and then giggling to their friends their boyfriend was a minuteman hung like an ant. Guys go to their friends and brag about how great their woman said they were in bed and she flat out lied to them. It’s because since the beginning of time woman have been faking it. Faking the screams and the deep scratches in the back

If they can fake it then why can’t I? And no, I’m not talking faking good sex, because we all know that a woman’s role in bed is fairly simple. Warm, wet, thrust, repeat. I mean faking something much more sacred, something much closer to the soul. I mean lying about something so important that it hurts my heart just thinking about it. Let me explain.

I am a New Yorker trapped in Pennsylvania. I live in the Lehigh Valley, for those of you who don’t know where that is NYC is only 10 miles farther from me than Philadelphia, so I’m right in the middle basically. You would think that this would bring some balance in the world of sports up here. Well it doesn’t, while most of the area is hardcore Yankees fans, and I’m not sure if I would rather them be Phillies or not, when it comes to my passion for football everyone up here is Eagles fans. This makes it really had to go to a sports bar and pick up any of the really fine women in the area. Now I know that sounds weird but for some reason the sports bars around me are filled really fine woman.

So this brings me to my dilemma, do I go through life bored and alone or do I swallow my pride and pretend to like the Eagles in hopes of meeting that special someone, or even just a someone at this point? Do I break a cardinal rule and pretend to like the team that I hate more than anything. If Fred Durst did it all for the nookie can’t I claim the same right, I mean I am way cooler than him. Do I sell out and buy a McNabb jersey to wear when ever I go to Rookies?

So many questions that I just don’t know the answer to, but here is what I am thinking. I do need an Eagles jersey at some point to complete my collection of one from every team. Buying a Randall Cunningham jersey wouldn’t be selling out because I loved that man, even though he broke the Giants hearts on a few occasions. I could just wear it out on Friday nights, I would look like an Eagles fan but since there would be no game on I wouldn’t actually have to cheer for them. Plus if you listen to most Eagles fans all they do is bash their team anyway, so its like I would be undercover. I could say things like “if the Eagles only had a player like Shockey” or “isn’t it heartbreaking being a fan of a team that has never won a Superbowl?” I would fit right in with out selling out! But I would still feel dirty, I think I would rather be alone forever than be with an Eagles fan…

In closing I would like to say sorry to my friends for even thinking about this and E-A-G-L-E-S CHOKE CHOKE CHOKE!!!!

The Gut: the Kobe Trial

Good Charlotte once said “if money is such a problem, I think we should rob them” They were talking about the “hardships” that come along with being a celebrity and how ridiculous it is for these people to complain about the fame and fortune that they were given by the public. And they are right; there are occasions where celebrities complain for no good reason. They complain about having to sign autographs or not getting enough personal space when they go out in public. In my personal opinion that comes with making 20 million for making a movie or getting paid 25 million to play third base for the New York Yankees. But where is the line drawn, where do they stop being “rich and famous” and start being people. I think the Kobe Bryant trial is a clear indication that sometimes the public can go to far.
On June 30th 2003, Kobe Bryant had sexual encounter with a 19 year old resort worker in Vail, Colorado. The young woman went to the authorities the next day and filed charges against the Lakers superstar and there was a whirlwind of controversy that followed. This turned into a trial by the public long before an actual trial was to take place. Kobe was vilified through the media and by some of the very fans that cheered him on. This young lady went to parties and bragged about it while Kobe struggled with the marital troubles it caused him and constant heckling by fans across the country. One such incident occurred in Utah, when the public address announcer made comments about Kobe’s teammate Karl Malone and said “Well at least he’s not Kob…”
The afore mentioned Good Charlotte song begins with the line “You see it on T.V. or in magazine, celebrities who want sympathy…” Kobe never asked for sympathy or forgiveness. All he asked for was to be able to go to work and do what he was paid to do.
This “trial” lasted 14 months and put Eagle County Colorado through so much stress, both financially and literally. At one point this young woman was quoted in the New York Post as saying she didn’t want money, just jail time for what he did.
On September 1st, 2004 she proved herself to be a liar once again stating that she couldn’t put up with the stress of a criminal trial but she would follow through on a civil suit. My thought process throughout this whole trial has never changed, I knew she was in it for the money and now she proved to the nation that she was never after justice, she just wanted to make a quick buck off of a one night stand she had with a celebrity. In the mean time she put Kobe, his fans, his family and her entire county through a rollercoaster ride just to get her 15 minutes of fame and make a quick buck.
The only person Kobe needs forgiveness from is his wife, if she chooses to forgive Kobe for cheating on her then that is their business, but this young woman owes an apology to the entire nation for the trip she took us on in her quest to get rich off of having sex. And to think, they say prostitution is illegal in this country.

The Gut: Today's professional athlete

Anyone who reads my article may remember a while back I wrote an article called “Hector Mercado”. The article focused on my personal sports accomplishments and there was to be a part two that showed how those memories led to A-Rod making 25.2 million dollars a year. Well you can consider this my part 2 although some recent frustration may have changed the tone of this article as opposed to where I thought I was going to go with it.
When I am watching a NY Giants game and I see Jeremy Shockey catch a pass and break 3 tackles before he gets into the end zone it certainly does remind me of, well me. As a matter of fact a lot of things pro athletes do on the field bring back memories of Dean’s field of dreams or club Attardi. However the key phrase in these first two paragraphs is “on the field”
Recently coach K, a god as far as duke basketball is concerned, was offered the head coaching job of the Los Angeles Lakers. After much thought, and one heart felt email from a Duke student, coach K decided to stay on at Duke and turn down almost 10 million dollars a year. It would have been a huge pay increase, not to mention all of the extra endorsements he would have received for being in a major market like LA. But he decided to stay where his heart is. I knew he would make the right decision but I was worried, I mean who turns down 10 million a year? But I realized he was a Blue Devil through and through and he could never leave us (us being duke fans).
Knowing that coach K made the right decision and stayed with his beloved Cameron crazies, one would only assume that Cleveland Cavilers forward Carlos Boozer would have made the same decision. Boozer had one year left on his contract making almost $700,000 but the team wanted to insure that Carlos and his family was happy and wanted to lock him up long term. So the two sides reached an agreement, the Cavs would not pick up the option for the last year and then they would sign him to a 6 year 41 million dollar contract (that’s almost 7 mill a year). So the Cavs live up to their end of the bargain and let him go. They then offered him the contract they mutually agreed upon and he turned them down and signed a larger contract somewhere in Utah. Yeah the same organization who made fun of Kobe and Karl Malone over the PA system, even reaching so low as to make reference to Kobe’s rape trial. In my opinion people like Larry Miller (owner of the Jazz) and Carlos Boozer have are a black eye on the sports community. What really is the difference between the 7 million a year the Cavs offered him and the 10 million the Jazz offered him? Would he or his family suffered by signing the lesser contract? Athletes say it’s not all about the money and then they do these things and we see their true color, Green!

Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness

There was a time when I was younger that I thought life was all about who had the biggest G.I. Joe base or who had the most Ken Griffey Jr. baseball cards. When falling in love only took 3 days and falling out didn’t hurt so badly because girls were icky anyway. When you could have a girlfriend and she didn’t know she was yours (my little brother is famous for that, he’s 9). Life was simple then, the worst thing that could happen to you was going through the lunch line and there being no chocolate milk left or getting hit in the face with a dodge ball.

Then getting into late middle school girls started becoming a little more important and dodge ball became a little less so. I still played with my G.I. Joes but only when no one was looking. Everyone still played with their kiddy toys but we were all too cool to admit it. When we hung out we played video games and talked about how great the Bulls and Cowboys were (I admit now that I was a bandwagon rider cowboy fan for 3 years of my life).

Later than that life changed again, the Bulls kept winning, all Philly teams were still losing, but for a little while it didn’t matter who was winning. All that mattered was that girl with the amazing smile who sat 3 seats in front of you. Her name was Kristy Steinmentz (and don’t ask me if I spelled that right) in my case. Life at that point was still pretty easy; although most of us have no idea it was easy till we look back on it.

This is about the point where our life changes, for most guys; girls take center stage. Most of us say “bros before hoes” but almost no one means it. Then at some point in your high school career you get lucky and you fall in “love” and at 15 you have met the girl you are gonna marry. You aren’t old enough to vote, drink, buy smokes, or drive but you are damn sure this girl is the one. And when you get your heart broken, you are just as sure that your life is over and that you will in fact die a virgin because without her what’s the point of living. Then something amazing happens, in the middle of despair something makes you realize life is worth living. For me three things come to mind, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin giving the stunner to Santa Clause, My little brother telling me to call Terry no matter what was wrong (that method usually worked, I hope you all have a Terry in your life), and walking on to a football field in tears because I was so upset and somehow turning it off and playing the game of my life.

Now I am 24 years old, working 2 jobs and going to school. Once again I am caught thinking “can it get any worse”. Well yeah it can, and it will. I guess my point is it can always be worse; it doesn’t matter if you are 12 and your cat died, 18 and the woman of your dreams just dumped you for your “best friend” or 24 and you still haven’t found the love of your life. Life can always get worse and it will so enjoy what you have now and don’t ever forget all the fun you have already had. Don’t forget the people who made a difference or the moments that were magical. Be humble but have confidence, be crazy but not stupid, laugh, cry, and love every minute of it because you never know how bad your next “worst day of your life” will bring. “All you have are your smiles and your cries” don’t ever forget it. I guess what I am trying to say is enjoy every minute you can because you never know what the next will bring.

The Gut: Tiger Woods

Here at BP we are an entertainment based community. That being said I know this isn’t going to be a popular statement due to the large number of people we have that music is so very important to them. I have boycotted FM radio. I am sick of the same 3 songs being played over and over. So every morning on the way to school I listen to Mike (Greenberg) and Mike (Golic) on ESPN radio. Every morning for the past few weeks they have been talking about Tiger Woods and what’s wrong with him. And on the way home I listen to the Dan Patrick show and they one day fielded responses from club pros and scratch golfers on what’s wrong with Tiger. I almost feel like I am once again listening to FM radio without the bad sound of Britney Spears or the some times offensive lyrics of Slim Shady. The reason I say that is it is the same topic over and over again. So I guess as the official BP sports writer I should chime in.

Tiger is 28 years old and has won 8 majors. He has won close to 49 million dollars since 1999 and that doesn’t include his endorsements or any appearance fees he may get. At 28 years of age he has already won more money than any other golfer, ever. He was also named PGA golfer of the year in 1997, 1999-2003. So he has won all this money and all these majors and we want to know what’s wrong with Tiger. Well here’s the thing, all of the other people on the PGA tour are professionals too and I bet they got really sick of Tiger kicking their asses all the time. So maybe they train harder, maybe they watch more tape. Maybe Tiger has just made everyone around him want to be better.

All of these sports writers want to talk about how Tiger’s getting married or Tiger needs his old swing coach Butch Harmon back. Well if getting married makes people lose their drive can somebody please explain Michael Jordan to me? He won all six rings while married. And if Butch Harmon is so great why isn’t he winning 50 million bucks on tour instead of bashing Tiger through the media? What’s wrong with Tiger you ask? Well he’s 28 years old, has well over 100 million dollars and is about to get married to a smoking young woman. I don’t see anything wrong with Tiger; the question we should be asking is what’s wrong with us.

The Gut: We are family

In the late 1970’s, the Pittsburgh Pirates had one of the best teams in baseball. They had big names like Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente but it was their sense of team unity that made them a special team. For a while, sports seemed to lose this concept of team and instead tried to have an all star at every position. Names like Gary Sheffield are now dubbed “role players” for the New York Yankees. In addition, the stars like Shaq and Kobe have won the NBA title.

Recently however while the Yanks keep spending and the Lakers add names like Malone and Payton to be role players for them something has changed. The sense of “we” and “team” has come back. That was never more evident than watching the Detroit Pistons dominate the Lakers. You can argue that the Pistons don’t have one player nearly as good as the Lakers top two. While that may be true, the Pistons also showed something that the Lakers couldn’t fathom, heart.

The NBA is not the only place this sense of team is becoming a trend again. Looking at the last year only the super bowl champion Patriots had a real “superstar” in Tom Brady. The Tampa Bay Lightning don’t have any real notable names other than Martin St. Louis and the Marlins biggest name was Ivan Rodriguez and a year before that he wasn’t even the most popular Rodriguez on his team.

So, you must be asking yourself what’s your point. My point is to have faith in your teams. The Pistons proved last night that the odds makers in Las Vegas have no idea what they are talking about when they give the Lakers 5:2 odds to win the crown. Winning these days is all about heart and determination not which team looks the best on paper or who has the most hall of famers. As Chris Berman says, “that’s why they play the games”

The Gut: The Hefty Lefty

This year the New York Giants got a great college quarterback. He broke all sorts of records and has cannon for an arm. He was well respected by his teammates and will be missed at the University of Kentucky. Now I know right now you are laughing at the “sports writer” who doesn’t know that Eli Manning came from Ole Miss but I’m not talking about Eli. The day after the draft the Giants signed Kentucky stand out Jared Lorenzen.

The Lorenzen signing went un-detected by most but maybe one of the more important one in years to come. It is said that the quarterback is the most important position in the NFL and some argue that the backup QB is second. Lorenzen is not your typical signal caller; he stands 6’5” and weighs anywhere between 270 and 300 pounds. Now don’t let his weight fool you, he has a rocket arm that once bombed a ball 82 yards.

In his senior season he threw for 21 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. Going into his senior season his decision making was a huge question mark for Jared but with only 8 picks in his senior year he once again proved people wrong. He did such a good job of it that the Giants snatched him up as soon as the draft was over.

Many high level college programs tried to recruit Jared to their colleges. The people at Ohio State, Michigan, and USC believed in his athletic ability, they didn’t however believe a 300 pound kid could play QB. All of these schools offered him scholarships but at different positions.

Those of you who really know me know that this is a huge deal for me. Jared has become somewhat of a personal hero of mine due to similarities in physical stature and the mindset of proving all doubters wrong. When the draft started I told myself that no matter where he went I would quietly cheer for whatever team he ended up on, even if it were (gasp) the Eagles. I told myself that I would go to NFL.com and order a custom made Lorenzen jersey and wear it proudly. In an off-season that has made me question what direction my Giants are going I’m glad that I really will be able to wear the jersey proudly.

The Gut: NFL Draft Big Winners

Well I called it a long time ago. On November 21st 2003 I said this about the Giants vs. Bucs game: “There will be no winner to this game only the fans will win when it ends. Personally I hope the Giants lose so we have a better shot at Eli Manning. Bucs win 15-9”. I must say lately the giants have been listening to me when it comes to the draft, I yelled at them a few years ago to move up and take Jeremy Shockey and they did that as well. They did however give up a lot for the rights to Eli Manning. But lets get down to the big winners and losers of the draft.

Detroit Lions- Had Texas wide receiver Roy Williams come out last year he would have been the best player available. Instead he stayed in school another year and the lions drafted a superb position receiver in Charles Rodgers and this year they were able to draft Williams to give 3rd year quarterback Joey Harrington one of the best young tandems in the league. Couple that with them able to land another 1st round pick and get Virginia Tech’s Kevin Jones to help their awful running game and outside line backer Teddy Lehman from Oklahoma to bolster their defense. I think the combo of him and last years second round pick Boss Bailey will help lift the lions to their first winning record since Barry Sanders retired.

Washington Redskins- They only had four picks this year but safety Sean Taylor will be a Pro Bowler for the next 12-15 years. I think when all is said and done he will be looked at as the player who shouldn’t have slipped to the 5th pick. I invasion Taylor as being the next Ronnie Lott

Oakland Raiders- With the second pick they took the only player other than Eli Manning that I would have liked to see the Giants take in mammoth tackle Robert Gallery. This young man is 6′ 7 1/2″ and 325 pounds and is as mean as they come. Who ever the Raiders get to succeed Rich Gannon (the name Kerry Collins has been mentioned) will be protected for a long time to come. And with their second round pick they got center Jake Grove who also can be penciled in to an annual trip to Hawaii in a few years. This Raiders offensive line is going to be dominant for many years to come.

Well those are the 3 teams I really thought cemented their futures. I will leave this week off with a few bold predictions. First off Eli Manning will lead the Giants to 2 super bowls in his career. Secondly the Lions will make the playoffs. Thirdly the Buffalo Bills will look really stupid for trading up to take J.P. Losman in years to come. That’s all for this week. Remember next week same bat time, same bat channel.