February 19, 2009

Standing Optional - OV8 Scores Incredible Goal

I don't usually just drop video into this blog, but this goal has to be seen:

February 17, 2009

Idol Recap 2/17/09

So apparently the onset of our annual Idol recaps comes to the dismay of some of our readers. So Lee, I can't promise you this every week, but as a special gift to you, one of our six readers, who claims to have referred a seventh reader to our blog, I give you this:

And we all thought Tatiana was joking when she alluded to doing certain terrible things in order to get people to listen to her demo. Seriously... Google Image search Tatiana Del Toro.

Now, we knew coming into this week that this group of 12 was going to be pretty strong. In fact, I'd say the competition is weighted heavily in this group and anybody in this group has an uphill climb to make it safely into the top 9 just by virtue of being in this group. I shudder to think about some of the drivel that is coming up over the next two weeks. Tonight proved that.....

On to the recaps:

Jackie Tohn:
Wow, this is supposed to be the week that shows off what the Idol fashionistas can do to help the contestants. Nice leather pants. I was so deadened by Jackie's screams and off-tone "singing" that I took to trying to spot cameltoe. No cameltoe spotted. Not too much singing talent either. The entertainment is important to catch people's attention, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to sing. And she proved that she's almost as annoying as Tatiana. Almost. See ya, Jackie.

Ricky Braddy:
A beautiful performance, especially controlling his nerves in his first live performance. But two strikes against him: (1) he wasn't featured at all during Hollywood Week or the auditions hardly, and; (2) he chose a ballad, which is going to be entirely forgettable by the time voting starts 100 minutes from now and 10 contestants later. And Ricky, the microphone isn't just a sparkly prop.

Alexis Grace:
Nice job by me to pick Alexis as one of my top 5 favorites last week. I think she picked a song that might've been just a little too big for her, but she did incredibly with her voice. She came out with some soul and heart. She'll appeal to middle America and has a great story with a husband in Iraq. I'll pat myself on the back again for picking her last week out of a field of 36 and give her my pick again to move on tomorrow night.

Brent Keith:
Earned himself a one-way ticket back to Hicktown with his impersonation of a Chevy commercial. Note to Brent - country stars don't cry in the post-audition interview. Nice vamping Ryan during the technical malfunction.

Stevie Wright:
Holy shit. This was the train wreck I didn't see coming. I didn't really pick her as a top 5 last week, did I? What happened to the chick during auditions who could hold a tune?
Anoop Desai:
If you closed your eyes at the start of his performance, had no idea who was singing, and opened your eyes, you would be shocked when you opened your eyes and saw this nerdish looking Indian guy crooning out R&B in a pretty strong way. I disagreed with the judges and thought it was a very strong performance. Plus I do think he has a big following. I see him making it through. Although I do hope that the Idol stylistas take a weedwhacker to his eyebrows and his massive crown of bedhead.

Casey Carlson:
Wow... when Randy and Kara serenade you to tell you how much you suck, you're in some serious trouble. And did you see her mom and dad? How did she get the looks that she did? It reminded me of a bad college acapella performance of Sting.

Michael Sarver:
Roughneck. Right. I didn't think I'd get reminded of that tonight. Riiiiiiiight. Anyway, put bluntly, I think he picked the perfect song to show off the right blend of entertainment skills to mask some more limited, but serviceable, vocal talent. A hell of a memorable performance. Pretty unexpected. He's definitely a darkhorse to make it through. And if he doesn't make it through, hell... Exxon is making record profits.

Anne Marie Boskovich:
Listen, she's got talent, she didn't sing as flatline as some of the other contestants, but she got swallowed up by totally the wrong song for her. She's very pretty, but there's no chance in hell she's got an American Idol-caliber voice. Aretha needs to be in the pantheon of singers like Whitney that are viewed as Idol contestant Kryptonite.

Stephen Fowler:
The attorney for the heirs of Buckwheat called. They want their look back. Suddenly Idol is paying royalties for these five minutes of television to The Little Rascals. Wow... to follow up a song by Aretha sung by a female of mediocre talent with a song by Michael Jackson sung by a male of mediocre talent, I'm beginning to think the terrorists have won.

Tatiana Del Toro:
Oddly, I think she had the second best female vocals of the night. It really was very good overall aside from a few screetchy spots. After what we saw tonight, I'm beginning to think the last few weeks were a few stupid moments by Tatiana during the first few weeks and a whole lot of clever editing by the Idol producers. I really think that if she doesn't get through tonight she could get a wild card. Who knows if http://www.votefortheworst.com/ will get behind her? The floral print dress... that shit's gotta go. Plus, if she continues on in the competition, I hope she does some tricep pulls, bicep curls, and serious toning down of those cafeteria lady arms. Am I being too mean? I'll stop.

Danny Gokey:
If there's one thing that Idol needs to do is to play up more the fact that this guy's wife died. Because it truly is an understated storyline. I mean, I didn't even know until tonight. Wow. Anyway, he'll benefit from performing last when it comes to the voting. A little thing that us psychology majors know called the "recency effect." I'm not sure that it justified the reaction that the judges gave it. I mean, it was pretty forgettable vocally until the middle-to-end when he finally kicked it up a notch. He'll make it through for sure.
Top Male Votegetter:
Anoop Desai

Top Female Votegetter:
Alexis Grace

Third Place Finalist:
Danny Gokey
Jeremy did a great job with the Idol Recap, as he always does, but the correct answer is:

Male: Anoop Desai

Female: Jackie Tohn

Third Place: Danny Gokey

And if talent is the only variable, Tatiana is the wild card. She obviously saw her audition and Hollywood rounds, and she almost fixed herself.

February 16, 2009

Dubai Forces WTA to Decide Between Pursestrings and Principles

As was widely reported today, the United Arab Emirates have denied 48th ranked Shahar Peer, of Israel, a visa to participate in this week's Dubai Tennis Championships. The move to deny the Israeli entry to the Arab country, ostensibly due to the conflict in Gaza, caused an instant uproar leading the Tennis Channel to decide not to air the tournament. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) is threatening to strip the UAE of the tournament, based on their own internal rules.

Clear cut, right? The UAE denied entry to a clearly qualified athlete just because of her national origin, therefore the WTA has to strip the tournament. There's just one little hitch - the purse for the tournament is $2,000,000.

Only four events this year (not counting the Grand Slams) have larger purses, and only four offer as much money. Most other events range from $220,000 to $700,000, with most offering the former.

Obviously, athletes have been used as international political pawns in the past. The Munich Massacre, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, and Rocky Balboa all come to mind. Modern international sports, however, are supposed to be about letting the best athletes in the world compete without regard for their nationalities. Otherwise, we'd just use BCS-style rankings and polls to determine which country's national champion is the best. Instead, we choose to let them prove themselves week in and week out in venues around the world.

On the other hand, the WTA is not immune to financial concerns, and neither are its players. The ladies on the tour are going to want that $2,000,000 replaced somehow. The Tennis Network made the WTA's decision a little easier, by blacking out television coverage, but still the league must measure the fallout against the payout.

We will soon find out whether the WTA's need for larger purses comes before their principles.

Why You Should Follow Natalie Gulbis on Twitter

She posts pictures like this:

Join Twitter right now and go to @natalie_gulbis

Sporting Events I Can Do Without

The late, great, George Carlin, had a routine, entitled "People I Can Do Without" wherein he gave a rundown of all the obnoxious people who we come across in every day life who, well, he could do without. So, behold, I give you the list of sporting events that are way too publicized that I can do without.

1) The NIT
Check the shirts carefully in the above picture if you haven't already seen this. Seriously, that reflects the amount of care that goes into the champion of this tournament for power conference teams that are .500 and wish that they could be back on campus admiring the girls in their April sundresses trying not to get too embarrassed by teams from the small and mid-major conferences who have the thrill of a lifetime playing in any postseason tournament. The fact that even one of these games is televised is too much. Now you know why Terp fans are so pissed about the past five years.

2) Figure Skating National Championships
I was flipping through the channels a few weeks ago and I saw that this was actually being televised in HD on a major broadcast network. I marginally care about figure skating once every four years. In the Olympics. Figure skating, you get your chance to shine every four years. Hell, you get two chances to shine with all the attention that is paid to Olympic Trials. You don't see swimming airing their national championships on an annual basis (did you even know they exist?) How about luge airing their national championships. Look, I realize that girls who are emotionally abused by their coaches and suffer from delayed onset puberty by about ten years need to see their "heroes" compete. But go to Smuckers Stars on Ice. Don't cloud up my TV listings.

3) Little League World Series
Speaking of emotionally-battered children. Listen, Little League World Series is doomed by three things: (1) it airs right during the peak of the NFL preseason; (2) we're subjected to the "interest stories" that feature classic sports parents living their lives vicariously through their children, and; (3) it's played in the muddle of Bumfuck, Pennsylvania. The LLWS has benefitted lately from a few classic finishes and walk-off shots. Not enough to clear the luster off the Danny Almonte's and ringer'ed up Caribbean and Asian teams.

4) The Australian Open
This is played during the dead of winter here in America, when 90% of America is bundling up in four layers just to get to the gym. About the only meritorious thing about this tournament is watching the players try to not die in 108-degree heat. Listen, tennis, you have the French Open, the British Open, and the U.S. Open. Three tournaments, one on each kind of surface. The Australian Open, much like the third nipple, is entirely extraneous and should be cut. Immediately. Plus, who wants to watch tennis in a retractable-roof "arena?"

5) NHL All-Star Game
The most dreaded words in the English language, "Guess what... you're the leading vote getter. You're going to start in goal in the NHL all-star game!!" There is no hitting, no defense, no penalties, no suspense, nothing at all at stake, and it's essentially watching endless 3-on-1 or 3-on-0 breakaways. The only thing that could save this game would be to play it outside every year. But even then it wouldn't make a big bit of difference.

6) The NBA All-Star Game
Look, you had to know this was coming. For much the same reasons as the NHL All-Star Game, this game is brutal to watch and impossible to enjoy. At least in the MLB All-Star Game there is still pitching, fielding, hitting, running and something on the line for the winner, even if remote. In the Pro Bowl, there is still passing, running, and tackling, just not the vicious open field hits that you'd see in an average game. The NBA All-Star Game competitors don't even pretend to care or try. It's a weekend to party, groupie it up, and just go crazy. You don't believe? Ask around what DC was like during NBA All Star Weekend a few years back. When the player introductions take as long as a quarter of an average game... you've lost me.

February 15, 2009

The Glass is Half Full for the Terps

After a few weeks of nothing but "The Sky is Falling" comments from Terps fans, I thought it was time to review what's going right with the team and the program.

Every other Terps blog commented on the Washington Post's 3-part article about how Gary can't recruit called "Missed Shots." I didn't read the articles, but I read some of the reactions to them, and the one thing I had to say is that Gary has never been an "All Star Team" recruiter. Some coaches like to assemble the best players they can find into an all-star team and think that gives them the best shot at winning. Gary's philosophy has always been that it's more important to have good character guys who work hard and play together as a team. That's what brought home a National Championship, and I trust him to keep going with that approach.

The game against Virginia Tech yesterday was a great showing by the team. Tech never gave up, and Seth Greenberg kept making adjustmets, but the Terps managed to maintain a 6 point lead for most of the game. When the Hokies finally managed to get the lead down to 3, instead of folding the Terps went on a 6-0 run to take control back.

Making the NCAA tournament is still a long shot, but it's not out of the question. The Terps are now 5-5 in the ACC, but have a brutal schedule coming up with 4 out of the next 5 games against Top 12 teams. To make the tournament, they'll need to win against some very good teams.

The future looks bright for the team. Even though Dave Neal is graduating and Hayes and Dupree haven't progressed as quickly as fans would like, there are lots of reasons to be hopeful for next year. The two biggest ones are Landon Milbourne and Sugar Sean Mosley.

Milbourne has grown by leaps and bounds this year, and while he still does a disappearing act for long stretches of games, but he's becoming a reliable scorer. While he's not a really big player (he's only listed at 6-7) his strength lets him play like a much bigger man.

Mosley was expeceted to make an impact this year, but early in the season he struggled to find his groove. Now he's an indispensable part of the team, bringing a Byron Mouton-ish hustle and intensity to every play. He makes all the little plays: steals, drawing charges, tough rebounds, drawing off-the-ball fouls, and earning held balls. Hopefully his work effort will rub off on the rest of the team.

So while this hasn't been a banner year for the Terps, we still have it pretty good, and there's every reason to think that things will be even better next year.