Very late night. But, this was one of the tougher Bleacher Report articles I had to do and I needed to get it out of the way. The there of this one had to be how changes in personnel or on the coaching staff will affect the Ravens playbook this year. So, here it is. Now, I'm off to catch my five hours sleep.
Here's my second article for Bleacher Report. This one had to be in the form of an interview with a player for a feature story. I picked Jameel McClain because he's the next in the long line of Ravens LB bad-assery. Enjoy.
I have entered a contest (or something like that) to try to become the Baltimore Ravens correspondent for Bleacher Report/CBS Sportsline. Do leave lots of comments saying how great I am if you would be so kind. Here is my debut article. I gotta come up with 3-4 more by Friday to win. I know I got the Nature Boy's support...
Now I have nothing against rap music. In fact, as I write this I've been listening to "Niggaz4life" and "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A. and "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" by Public Enemy the last 3 days. I will argue that rap at its best truly is an art form. Those three records plus others like "Raising Hell" by Run DMC, "Paul's Boutique" by Beastie Boys, "Ready To Die" by Notorious B.I.G., "The Chronic" by Dr. Dre, "Enter The Wu-Tang" by Wu-Tang Clan, "Reasonable Doubt" by Jay-Z, "Blackout" by Redman and Method Man and "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" by 50 Cent are all classics in any form of music. And that's just a partial list off the top of my head. So don't think this is just the ramblings of some guy that doesn't know shit about hip-hop.
That being said, what Soulja Boy does is an affront to those great records. Take his new single "Turn My Swag On" for instance. This shit is flat out awful. Garbage. Crap. Pick a euphemism for something bad and it can apply to Soulja Boy's "music." I put music in quote marks 'cause I'm not sure it even qualifies as such. He's not a good rapper, the beats are pretty much the same as every Southern rap song that has ever come out for the last decade and the only lyrics to the song seem to be "Soulja Boy Tell 'Em," "YEEAAAAH" and "Turn My Swag On."
Soulja Boy is not just bad music. It is transcendently bad. It's bad in an awe-inspiring way. Like you can't believe that 1) someone at a record label thought it was good or 2) that anyone would buy it. And yet, because we are not very bright here in America, people do buy it. I'm sure if I were to ask Soulja Boy how he can sleep at night having made such terrible music, I'm sure he'd say "On top of a pile of money." So be it. Americans are dumb and if they are dumb enough to buy the garbage Soulja Boy is selling them, more power to Soulja Boy for playing the best scam since Bernie Madoff. But if he insists on selling this garbage, can he at least put the following label on everything he does: "Endure this if you must. Survive if you can."
I've been a Capitals fan since I started playing and watching hockey back in 1987. My first Caps game was actually in 1986, before I started playing. I think my dad was trying to get the bug planted in me, by taking me to the Capital Centre for a game between the Caps and Winnipeg Jets. I don't remember a whole lot about that game, but the next year, me and my dad started our tradition of always going to the New Year's Day Caps game, this time featuring the Caps and Pittsburgh Penguins. Saw a young Mario Lemieux and current Caps broadcaster Craig Laughlin play, as well as the wonderfully named Pens goalie, Gilles Meloche.
Anyway, digressing. The point here is that just because I've been a Caps fan for so long, doesn't mean I couldn't admire some of the players that did not ever suit up in the red, white and blue. So here now, is a brief list of some of my favorite non-Capitals.
Cam Neely- Boston Bruins There wasn't much NOT to like about Neely as a hockey player. He could score goals, he hit, he fought, he could do it all. I also remember the badass mullet he sported at the 1991 All-Star Game. How awesome was Neely as a player? Every year at the draft, you still hear commentators talking about some kid being "The Next Cam Neely." My favorite Neely play was one where he went to took a pass in his feet and briefly had his head down. Montreal defenceman Petr Svoboda came up to take him out. Neely saw him at the last minute and dropped Svoboda like a bad habit. He got back in the play and scored a one-timer, top corner on Patrick Roy. It was just the ultimate in "get-in-the-weight-room-cause-you-can't-stop-me!" alpha dog-ness.
Alas, his career was wrecked in the 1991 playoffs by hockey's anti-christ, Ulf Samuelsson. But there is justice in the world. Neely is now in the Hockey Hall of Fame, had his number 8 retired by the Bruins and was the architect of a Bruins team that finished 1st in the Eastern Conference. Samuelsson meanwhile, got knocked the fuck out by Tie Domi and is now the assistant coach of a bankrupt franchise (Phoenix Coyotes).
Doug Gilmour- Lots of teams, most successfully with St. Louis, Calgary and Toronto Gilmour was a hockey player's hockey player. In fact, if you look up "hockey player" in the dictionary, you should find Gilmour's picture. He had the whole package: the missing front teeth, the mullet, the cool nickname ("Killer"). I myself liberally borrowed a few things from Gilmour. For instance, I started tucking in the right side of my jersey like he used to do (I know Gretzky started that but Gilmour made it look cooler) and I named this here blog after Dougie's number in Calgary. Two more things about Gilmour. He was part of hockey's first Bromance, between himself and Don Cherry, which was"Daniel-san and Miyagi in Karate Kid III"-level uncomfortable, culminating in Cherry kissing Gilmour (really).
And, he once shattered the glass going into the penalty box. Now that is cool.
Brendan Shanahan - New Jersey/St. Louis/Hartford/Detroit/NY Rangers I liked Shanny more from his early days with the Devils, Blues and the mighty Whale. He was a big, physical player that could score. He was certainly the missing piece when he went to Detroit and they soon became the Red Wings juggernaut we know today. But Shanny lost a little of the snarl that made me like him. Still, the guy was a warrior and has been a winner every place he's played. Even though he was a bit more of a finesse guy with the Wings, he could still kick ass when needed.
Sergio Momesso - Lots of teams, notably St. Louis and Vancouver Probably my favorite hockey name ever. After him it would be Garth Butcher and Danton Cole. But Sergio Momesso sounds like an Italian hitman. He even looked like a gangster. Momesso was always a bit of a disappointment as a player actually. He was a high draft pick by Montreal and looked like he should have fit into that Cam Neely/Rick Tocchet group of power forwards but he never did. Still, I always liked Momesso for his name and the fact that he was a tough, hard-nosed player. As an example, here's a clip of two members of this list having a go.
Milan Lucic - Boston Bruins Next to Alex Ovechkin, is there a bigger YouTube legend than Lucic? I think not. I won't even bother to write a bunch of stuff, Looch's body of work speaks for itself.
Pavel Bure- Vancouver/Florida/NY Rangers Before Alex Ovechkin, there was Pavel Bure. The only difference is that Ovie is a little bigger (6'2 compared to 5'10 for Bure) and that Ovie plays with a little bit more of a physical edge. But what they have in common is that both had the ability to make an arena hold its breath in anticipation of what they were going to do once they got the puck and hit full speed. I think Bure's career has been grossly underrated. For a 2-3 year period there was nobody, and I mean nobody, that was more exciting to watch than Bure. When he got the puck in full-flight, literally anything could happen. And remember, he and Kirk McLean carried a mediocre Canucks squad to one game from the Stanley Cup in 1994. I think the reason Bure is not remembered as fondly as he should be is because he was a bit of a diva and he pouted his way out of Vancouver in 1999. He had a couple of good seasons with Florida and then knee injuries wrecked his career for good. He's almost like hockey's version of Shawn Kemp: you remember the other stuff more than how great they were. In Bure's case, the pouting, the injuries and the brief romance with Anna Kournikova. Well, here's a reminder of the awesomeness that was "The Russian Rocket."
I am rolling with posts today, so I figure I'll keep up the momentum with some O's stuff.
Last night, the Orioles were taken to the woodshed one more time by the New York Yankees, to the tune of a 7-4 loss. In the three game series, the Yankees hammered O's pitchers for 27 runs in three games. Should we call this the Great New York Orange and Blackout of 2009? The game last night was notable because it will likely mark the end of pitcher Adam Eaton's time with the O's. In all my years watching the Orioles, I must say, I have yet to come across someone as bad at his job as Eaton. Sure, in this decade-plus of futility, the O's have had lots of shitty pitchers: Mike DeJean, Mike Fetters, Daniel Cabrera, Sidney Ponson, Jorge Julio, the list could go on. But Eaton was as awful as I have seen anyone who has ever put on an Orioles uniform. I mean, look at this stat line:
The key stats in that line? How about an 8.56 ERA, a 1.83 WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched)and a .322 batting average against. For those that do not know much about baseball, that is god awful. To really put it in perspective how shitty Eaton is, look at the numbers 39 and 41. 39 is his earned runs allowed and 41 is his innings pitched. That means Eaton gave up almost one earned run for every inning pitched! Last night pretty much summed up the entire Eaton experience. He gave up doubles to the first three Yankees he faced and was down 6-0 before the end of the 2nd inning. How is a young team not supposed to be demoralized by that? The worst part is, everybody except Andy McPhail and Dave Trembley knew Eaton was going to get raked by the red-hot Yanks.
But enough words. I'm going to let someone else do the talking. Here's a classic rant by legendary Chicago Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley on one-time Hawks defenceman Alexander Karpovtsev, who at that time, had just been traded to the New York Islanders. Now, as you are listening to this, just sub in the name "Adam Eaton" for "Alexander Karpovtsev" and "Baltimore Orioles" for "Chicago Blackhawks." Foley's end quote sums up exactly how every O's fan feels about Eaton: "Good riddance."
BTW, I'm already starting to slightly regret voting for Obama. Not that much, mind you, but slightly. I still would vote for him, having Sarah Palin anywhere near the leadership of this country would be a disaster of biblical proportions but Obama's transgressions with me are starting to mount a bit: - His odd Steeler-love - Raising cigarette taxes to obscene levels (Despite being a smoker himself!!!) - Not attending a Caps game, despite their being the hottest ticket in DC - Snubbing a bunch of 5-year-olds for the Steelers - Did I mention this photo? Why Obama, why? Get your shit straight Barry! Don't make me never want to vote again! Then again, there are some members of the Steelers that have some things in common with 5-year-olds...
I only mention this story because I'm one of the lucky people in the world that actually has a Ryan Leaf Chargers jersey. Alas, it's at my dad's house so I can't give documented photo evidence but trust me, I own one. Don't worry, I didn't pay for it. I got it from my ex-boss who was a big Chargers fan. I can't remember the bet we had, but the price was the Leaf jersey, which he seemed more than willing to part with. I've worn the Leaf jersey one time since I owned it: to a fantasy football draft. I used to enjoy wearing something outlandish to the draft, when we did it live with all team owners in the same room. One year, I busted out my suit, so I could look very general manager-ish. Of course, I had to peel it off by the end of the day because wearing a suit in the 90-degree temps of August in the mid-Atlantic wasn't a great idea. So the next year, I had just gotten the Leaf jersey and decided to rock it. I certainly didn't sweat as much as with the suit. After wearing it one time, I retired it for good. I figured, one time is irony, two times is jumping the shark and three times is pathetic. Sort of like the guy I once saw at Wal-Mart wearing a Jay Novacek Cowboys jersey.
Michael Vick- Don't give a shit. Relax kids, he's just another crook that just got released from the federal pen. At the end of the day, that's what he is. The only way it would be interesting is if Ron Mexico lived out his own version of "Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos." But unless the S1W's show up, don't care about Vick or what he's doing. Sorry.
"Yo, Ookie, we gonna break you outta there man! Word to tha strength G!"
Brett Favre- Don't give a shit. Self-explanatory. The only people who give a shit whether Favre plays for the Vikings or any other team that can be suckered into letting Favre throw 30 picks for them are 1) Favre 2)ESPN 3) Peter King 4) Vikings fans.
NBA Playoffs- Don't give a shit. Everybody in their brother has known that Cleveland is going to win and they will probably beat the Lakers to do it. Everybody also knows that David Stern will make sure it happens. After all, a Denver-Orlando final doesn't exactly move the Q rating. So why does anybody pretend there is some drama here? At least with hockey, we waited until the 3rd round before the inevitable Pittsburgh-Detroit matchup shaped up.
I must give credit where credit is due here. Hangar partner-in-crime Mogo Tomassi found this band and this video. What you are about to see is quite possibly the greatest idea for a band in the history of recorded sound. It would be Swashbuckle, three lads from New Jersey who are the first, and I think only, practioners of Pirate Metal. Yes, Pirate Metal.
The guys dress like pirates, speak like pirates, scream lyrics about pirates and play like some bastard son of Napalm Death. I was personally introduced to Swashbuckle about 3 years ago and love them or hate them, there's no way you can deny that there has never been a band quite like this. Yes, there is Viking Metal, hell, there's even Arnold Schwarzenegger Metal now thanks to Austrian Death Machine and Arno-Corps (I think thats what they're called.)
The first song I ever heard Swashbuckle play sounded a little like this jam, only the singer screamed "Walk the fuckin' plank!" for about 2 minutes. How can you argue with brilliance like that? God bless 'em. In the pantheon of great musical ideas, these guys are right up there. Enjoy.
In addition to that, you cut your long flowing locks and awesome mustache. Really Yanni? Really? It's like I don't even know you. Who else can I turn to for weird, snooze-inducing new age music if I can't turn to you? Damn it Yanni, I don't know how to quit you! How could you line yourself with Shitsburgh? Forget it Yanni, I've moved on. To John Tesh. Because no one can dribble a fake basketball like Tesh. Hope you're happy.
Addiction #1- Brick Breaker for Blackberry: For those that have never seen this game, it's pretty much a rip-off of the legendary "Arkanoid" arcade and Nintendo game. Some kids loved "Zelda," I loved "Arkanoid." My teammate Nick Carso's dad was a maestro at "Arkanoid." I actually downloaded it on my first phone and after about 3 months, finally beat all 99 levels (it was one of those games that never seemed to end.) When I recently upgraded to a Blackberry (much deserving of its Crackberry nickname) it came with Brick Breaker, which was pretty much the same game under another name. Once again, I am hooked. Just this weekend, I formally set my high score with 13,330 and reaching level 26 (the game has 34 levels). Apparently I'm not the only one, it seems to be a favorite of the President as well. According to this article, his high score is 15,000, which once again proves that Barack Obama is better than us at EVERYTHING.
Addiction #2- Diet Coke My entertainment editor Jen and I nicknamed this stuff Diet Crack and for good reason. I gravitate towards this stuff the same way Tyrone Biggums went for Red Balls. Or Sgt. Al Powell went for Twinkies. Just utterly, utterly addictive stuff. It's like crack in a can. It's so pervasive (along with its sister drinks Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max and Coke Zero) that regular Coke or Pepsi now tastes weird to me. If there was a support group for Diet Crack, I may have to attend. I admit that I am powerless over Diet Crack. But goddamn it, it has zero calories and low sodium. Must drink now!
After a long hiatus, I'm bringing the Hangar back again. Lots of reasons for the lengthy the break between posts, the main one being that I just got burned out of writing it. I was doing the Day Job, which involved me writing all day, then coming home and spending 2 hours a post on Hangar material just took my ass out.
The other reason was the now-deceased 2008-9 Washington Capitals. Through the first 4 games of the Rangers series, the Caps were playing shitty. After a wholly frustrating Game 4 loss, I was far too pissed off to make a sensible argument about the game. At least not without sounding like some lunatic. Like a scary, Judge-of-the-Nazi-People's Court kind of lunatic. Plus, I was doing the hockey tournament that weekend and I was expecting the worst. So what happened? The Caps won Game 5. I didn't blog about it. The Caps won Game 6. Being someone who firmly believes in karma, juju, superstitions and all that junk, I attributed the Caps winning to my not blogging. It was true for about 5 games, all Caps wins. By the time the Pittsburgh series started going downhill I was firmly out of the routine of posting here. Let me tell you, 3/4 of all writing is routine. Ideas are one thing, style is one thing, but without a routine, nothing happens. Alas, as they say in AA, my routine had become a bit unmanageable and the Caps were driving me off the deep end with the constant elimination games.
But, I am back and will try to do this at a more manageable pace than I did before. Updates may come fast, they may not but I will try to keep shit up. For me, the Hangar is always evolving depending on my whims and flights of fancy. So for about the third time, I'll be switching up how I do this thing. Whatever the case, enjoy bitches.