The Gut: A Real Sports Hero

I recently wrote an article about my backyard heroics as a child. Well today, Friday, April 23, 2004 we were reminded what the word hero meant. Pat Tillman, 27 years old and a former Arizona Cardnial was killed in a planned ambush in Afghanistan.

Pat and his brother Kevin, who was a minor league baseball player in the Cleveland Indians, joined the army rangers walking away from millions of dollars and a comfortable life in Arizona. Pat was somewhat of a local hero in Arizona as he grew up there and went to college at Arizona State University where he graduated in 3  years with 3.84 GPA. He was the 1997 Pac 10 player of the year there.

Most people have never heard of Pat Tillman before today so I’m going to give you a little insight on the kind of man he was. In 2001 when he was a free agent he turned down a 5 year 9 million dollar contract from the world champion St. Louis Rams to make less money in Arizona because he loved the organization and felt a sense of loyalty to them. After 9/11 he felt he needed to serve his country. So he and his brother went in to the army and became rangers but only after he married his high school sweet heart Marie. Becoming a ranger is no easy task, only 35% of the people who attempt this make it. A friend of the family was interviewed after Pat and Kevin left. The question was posed to the friend as to why the brothers denied all interview requests about the decision. The friend said that they felt they didn’t have anymore to lose than the 56 others they went threw basic training with so there was no reason to be interviewed.

Pat was a man than not only all football fans could be proud of but someone all Americans can be proud of. In life he lead a good life that we could all envy and now in death he left Americans with a real sports hero to look up to. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Marie and the rest of his family. Thank you pat for all you left us.

The Gut: Hector Mercado Part 1

Now I know some of you read the title of this article and thought one of two things. One is I was to lazy to think of a title for this weeks edition of the gut or the real sports geeks thought I was going to write about some relief pitcher on the Reds. Well actually I want to tell you a little about myself and my accomplishments in the world of sports.

Growing up I was what was known as a park rat. I got there at about 9 am and left when it got dark to eat dinner. After dinner I would come back to the courts and play basketball because there were lights there. This was everyday of every summer from the time I was 12 till I was 15.

Why? Why did I waste so much time at the park playing sports? I mean I didn’t get anywhere in it so it must have been a waste of time right? Wrong. I could go into the obvious that sports teach teamwork in a way that can’t be taught in other ways. But that’s not the direction I’m going to go with this article. Instead I am gonna tell you some of my best sports memories so maybe you can see where my love comes from.

The Catch- Everyone who considers themselves an athlete does something at least once in their life that they know they will never do again. This is my story, I was playing at my boy Ray’s house. There was this gravel cul-de-sac in front of his house that we played at everyday after school. Ray and I were always on opposite teams because we were both big and both could play quarterback. My team ran a play where I pitched the ball to someone else and I ran out for a pass. As the pass was thrown I knew it was under thrown a little bit, I thought I might have to knock it down so it wasn’t caught by Ray who was covering me. We both jumped up for the ball and Ray tipped it up. I really can’t explain what happened next but when we both came down I had both hands behind my back and the ball was in them. I then ran into the end zone just like that. How did I catch a pass with my hands behind my back? Well I have no idea but I do know it was one of the cooler things I have done.

Rudy- Everyone knows the story. The kid who didn’t get any playing time comes in to a cheering crowd. They are chanting his name as he breaks through the line and makes a tackle. Well imagine my surprise in 10th grade as the parents in the Garden City section started chanting my name to let the coach know that he should put me in. We were up by a lot so he tells me to get in. The first defensive play has me slanting in to the right. The running back runs to the left of where I am. I reached back with my left hand and got a hold of his jersey and pulled him to the ground for my first tackle in an actual game. The parents went absolutely nuts. I got up off the ground and there were chills running up and down my spine.

Soccer players aren’t THAT fast- My first day at Garden City HS was one of the most nerve racking experiences of my life. First of all I came from a little shit hole town in Pennsylvania where the men were ugly and the women looked like men. So I walk into this school and there are pretty girls wearing make-up and skirts. I don’t think I breathed or blinked that day. So we go to gym class and once again I was picked last in a football game. This kid Kash Patel was covering me, he was much smaller than me but he was a starter for the soccer team so he could make up for his lack of size with his speed. At some point in the middle of the game I was frustrated because I wasn’t getting the ball because no one knew me. I ran out, cut a crossed the middle and the kid actually threw me the ball. I reached out with one hand and grabbed it and took off. His teammates didn’t let him forget that he got burned by the fat kid; I think he might still be in therapy because of me.

These are just 3 of my many stories I could share. I could go into how I beat John and some of our friends 5 on 1 in basketball. Or I could talk about how Brian Nick and his friends banned me from playing football with them because they couldn’t stop me or tackle me so I ruined their games. Why did I even bother to write this article some of you maybe asking? Others are calling me a braggart right now and you maybe right. But I’m actually writing this for the women out there. The women who don’t understand their mans obsession with sports or a particular athlete. Ladies the reason we love this stuff is because it brings us back to a day where the stresses of bills, politics and health issues were non-existent. It’s one of the few spots in life where you can say “I am better than you and I’m gonna prove it.” Sports are the reason guys want little boys and they are part of the reason that little boys like spending time with their father. I never had that but I did have my own motivation, to prove all of you wrong. This has been a personal look at me, the fat jock.

P.S. Well I know P.S. is only for letters but I’m taking creative license here. This article is the first part, part 2 will focus more on how backyard heros translate into A-Rod making 252 million dollars. I didn’t think anyone would read a 5 page article like I had planned so I’m splitting it up. see you all again soon.

The Gut: Baseballs best off-seasons

Well it’s time for another version of The Gut. I’m sorry they haven’t been more regular but I can’t see the point in writing about Hockey because it sucks these days. And Basketball is nothing but a western conference show. With me living on the east and all I don’t get to see the good teams too often. But the good news is baseball is back!

After one of the best playoffs in recent history baseball did something that I thought only football could do. It made major headlines in the off-season. Between A-Rod moving to NY and steroids baseball managed to stay on the front page of the sports section for most of the winter. So who had the best winter?

Hey Mike don’t smile too much when I say this but the Anaheim Angles had the best winter of anybody. They added 4 excellent players in Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon, Jose Guillen, and Kelvim Escobar. They already had a solid team and may have been helped just as much by Tejada leaving the A’s and the Mariners getting older. I pick the Angles to just walk away with the AL West title this year.

I can see the Yankee fans singing now…. “All our ex’s live in Texas” How did George let Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens go to the Houston Astros? This gives them 4 of the better pitchers in the game when you “throw in” Wade Miller and Roy Oswalt. The only question they have is Dotel in the closer role. I have faith in him; after all don’t most players become stars when they leave the Mets?

The Boston Red Sox got Curt Schilling but I think that move is way over rated. Would I want him on my team? Yes! Do I think that Curt pushes Pedro to number 2 in the rotation like the guys from Mike and the Maddog? Hell no, as a matter of fact with the addition of Pokey Reese a groundball pitcher like Derek Lowe might have more wins than Schilling. But the real key to this team is Keith Foulke, if he can handle the pressure of pitching in a pennant race in the middle of baseballs greatest rivalry that Boston has a chance to take it all.

The New York Yankees… Nice dramatic pause right? Well what is there to say about the Yanks? For starters let me say that A-Rod wasn’t that big of an upgrade from Soriano offensively. Not so big that I would have paid an additional 20 million a year for. Kevin Brown however is a dominant pitcher who will remind all of baseball why he was the first player to get 100 million dollars in a contract. And while Javier Vzquez only went 13-12 last year he did post an ERA of 3.24. If he pitches as well for the Yanks as he did for the Expos last year expect this young righty to pick up 17-20 wins.

I only wish for the Baltimore Orioles sake that they could move to the horrible NL West. This team got so much better with the additions of Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez, and Mr. Viagra himself Rafael Palmeiro that it would walk away from that division. Unfortunately for the Orioles sake they are in the same division with the Yanks, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Devil Rays (Yes they actually aren’t a bad team this year).
I don’t even want to type this but the Philadelphia Phillies did what they needed to. They went out and got one of the top five closers in all of baseball when they traded for Billy Wagner. And it’s almost like they got 2 players because there is no way in hell that Pat Burrell bats .200 again. I expect him to have a solid year and for them to win the east. But there is good news in all of this; the Braves will not win the east for a 12th consecutive year.

In closing this article I would like to add this quote from Baltimore Orioles third baseman Tony Batista: “People say the Yankees are the team to beat,”. But it’s really the other way around. They’re the ones that have to beat everybody.” Keep that in mind Yankee fans and good luck to everyone in the Baloolapalooza fantasy league. I hope you guys like the view of my ass cause its all you’re gonna be seeing.

The Gut: Terrell Owens

The Gut: Terrell Owens

This version of the gut will be a little different than my normal column. It will be in the form of a letter to former 49ers receiver Terrell Owens.

Dear Mr. Owens,
I would like to start off that I am a big fan of your work. While most would point to your incident in Dallas where you spiked the ball after scoring a touchdown or the famous sharpie incident in Seattle and say those were disrespectful I would disagree. I find those incidents and others like it; the Joe Horn cell phone touchdown comes to mind, quite comical. Nothing more than some clean fun at the expense of your opponent. If they didn’t want you to celebrate they shouldn’t have let you into the end zone to begin with.
The meaning of my letter however is not to praise you but to ask you a favor. Shut the hell up Mr. Owens. You were recently traded to the Baltimore Ravens and you were quoted as saying that you wont play for them because they had no right to trade for you because you feel you should be able to pick where you can go. Well Terrell that right is only for free agents, which is something thanks to your bonehead agent you are not. It isn’t the NFL’s job or the 49ers job to file for your free agency, it is that guy you pay 2% of your salary to. But you seem to be blaming everyone but him. I’m pretty sure it will somehow be my fault that you can’t join the Eagles because I wrote this letter.
For the longest time now I haven’t been able to figure out why you haven’t blamed your agent and fired him. Then it hit me. It’s ok to blame the Niners because they drafted you, you didn’t pick them. You did however pick your agent, if you blame him you will indirectly be blaming yourself. Athletes of your stature don’t take responsibility for themselves because you feel like you are infallible. Well Terrell I have news for you, this is your agents fault and you picked him, there I said it, it’s your fault. So do us a favor and be a man, admit that you and your agent made a mistake. Get your ass to Baltimore to take your physical and prey Ray Lewis doesn’t beat your brains in during the first mini camp. You have already made more money than you will ever need; now you are just being greedy. Thank you for your time.

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to post something to drop our readers a line.

Here in the US we are busy observing the national holiday of Thanksgiving where familys gather from all around to basically reflect and be greatful for what we have as families and what our freedoms grant us.

In observance to this BP.com articles will not be published as usual today and tomorrow. BP staff members are given time off to spend with their family and other loved ones, posting is purely optional, so I wouldn’t be overly shocked if one of our international staff members published something, or one of our US ones who feels like it, but as i said, it is not expected.

From our family to yourse the staff of BaloolaPalooza would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Moment of Remembrance

I know the site hasn’t officially opened yet, but I’d like to take a moment and stop to remember all the people lost on this day two years ago, in NY, PA, and DC.

I especially would like to look out for the great men and women of the NYPD and NYFD who bravely fought to save as many people as possible and in some cases gave their lives.

May all of our fallen rest in peace today, but let it be known that they did not die for nothing, we are a better people today because of their sacrifice, we are closer, and much more aware of the injustices of the world, on each end of civilization. Though we may not all agree on the actions of our government since this we should be eternally greatful for the sacrifice our friends and loved ones made, for us and for eachother, for they are truely American Heros.

Welcome to BaloolaPalooza 2.0 Beta

Pardon our dust and welcome to the start of a new day. BaloolaPalooza.com as it was known has changed. It is a change for the better, one that hopes to improve all aspects of the site in all directions.

A Clearer Vision

BaloolaPalooza.com is shifting it’s focus, after six months of full operation having weighed all options and listened to many we decided a few things, BP.com is going to be less of a music news site and more of an entertainment commentary site.
We are opening up the site to new areas and fresh ideas.
It was felt that as a news site we functioned poorly, mostly recycling news from other outlets and unfortunatly leaving much behind.
We were far from a failure though having made several scoops of our and that will continue, if we hear things before they break we’ll be sure to let you know.
We want BaloolaPalooza.com to innovate, we want it to be cutting edge and change the way people look at entertainment. We could not do that with our previous incarnation.

A Stronger Voice

Much of the site will still be here, as the change is not as drastic as it sounds, BaloolaPalooza.com will still be a site by and for the people consisting of reviews, interviews and columns.
Bp.com and it’s forums are a community of unique individuals who have pride in their opinions and will argue them to no end.
We, the staff also take pride in this and will push to see this thrive, to give everyone a voice and allow them to be heard.
The new site will do just this with daily columns from writers from all over, speaking out on entertainment and the world around them as they see fit, sparing no one and refusing to be censored.
We’re trimming the fat to build a better community, a better place to meet others and to speak out on the world around you.

A Better Architecture

What you see here is a work in progress. BaloolaPalooza.com is being rebuilt from the ground up using web standards (w3c.org) with structural xhtml and presentational CSS for all of the visual treatments, the site will be faster, easier to use, user customizable and able to work on almost anything that supports internet access, including computers, phones and PDAs alike.

-J