Thursday, December 18, 2008

Takin' a Breather

Hey all. Today marks the end of four months for me here in Northern Virginia. And I'm finally getting my first extended break. By my count, I've written more than 200 stories since arriving here, not to mention the stuff on this blog and my freelance stuff for the Washington Post Express.

My work has taken a little downturn as a result. Frankly, I've never written this much in my entire life and I got to take a short sabbatical to get some fresh ideas. I'll be back in a week or two (probably around New Years) and the blog will be back better than ever (hopefully). I should have some good stories, as I'm making a triumphant return to New York next week followed by a New Year's excursion to Chicago.

Also, I've got a post about the Skins downfall coming in the next couple days. Other than that, I got nothing.

Happy Holidays to everyone

Friday, December 12, 2008

Follow the lead of the 'Peace Minded State'

Maybe it's because I'm around people with oodles of money that looks like it's flushing down the toilet, but I've had about enough of these doomsday scenarios. Yep, shit is hitting the fan and pretty soon it's gonna start smelling. Seriously, am I the only one that has the feeling that all these companies are just waiting until after Christmas to start laying off people in masses?

The economic downturn that first wreaked havoc on the financial industry has trickled down to the auto industry and soon it's going to shove its ugly head in everything. I mean, even sports are feeling the heat, and I really didn't think that would happen so soon. NASCAR has called off its testing sessions (essentially the preseason for race car drivers), the Arena Football League is floating on thin ice and almost cancelled its season this week, and even Major League baseball has seen one of the slowest free agent signing periods in the history of free agency thanks to owners' hesitance to spend big bucks.

So you say you want to avoid all this ... well I've got a simple piece of advice. Go to North Dakota:

The number of new cars sold statewide was 27 percent higher this year than last, state records through November showed. North Dakota’s foreclosure rate was minuscule, among the lowest in the country. Many homes have still been gaining modestly in value, and, here in Fargo, construction workers can be found on any given day hammering away on a new downtown condominium complex, complete with a $540,000 penthouse (still unsold, but with a steady stream of lookers).

While dozens of states, including neighboring ones, have desperately begun raising fees, firing workers, shuttering tourist attractions and even abolishing holiday displays to overcome gaping deficits, lawmakers this week in Bismarck, the capital, were contemplating what to do with a $1.2 billion budget surplus.

And as some states’ unemployment rates stretched perilously close to the double digits in the fall, North Dakota’s was 3.4 percent, among the lowest in the country.

Yes, the "Peace Garden State" has, so far, been mostly recession proof (and yep, that's the actual state motto, I looked it up). Now I've actually been to North Dakota, and more specifically driven through a little chunk of the state a few years ago during my days covering the Michigan hockey team. My lasting memory, aside from the University of North Dakota's ridiculously awesome arena, was just how much nothing was there.

Seriously, Fargo is about 70 miles south of Grand Forks and there's literally nothing in between. And yet, still most people there say Grand Forks is just up the road from Fargo. The reason for this supposed forgotten state being the strongest of them all economically at this point in time:

A recent surge in oil production that catapulted the state to fifth-largest producer in the nation; a mostly strong year for farmers (agriculture is the state’s biggest business); and a conservative, steady, never-fancy culture that has nurtured fewer sudden booms of wealth like those seen elsewhere (“Our banks don’t do those goofy loans,” Mr. Theel said) and also fewer tumultuous slumps.

In fact, while most states are laying people off, North Dakota has 13,000 unfilled jobs that they can't find enough people to take. I wonder if any of those involve sports writing?

I typed in North Dakota into the images section of google and this picture came out. I know it's just a guy looking over the pastures of some "beautiful" part of the state, but my first reaction was "Holy crap Paul Bunyan is from North Dakota!" Doesn't this dude look like a giant?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let's Talk About Some Crazy Shit

So you think your day was eventful yesterday. I'm willing to bet it doesn't quite match the story I'm about to tell.

I'm sitting in the quaint newsroom of my smallish Northern Virginia-based newspaper when one of the editors here gets a call from our publisher. She was driving down I-495 (aka the Beltway or the DC area's busiest highway) when all of a sudden on the other side of the road she sees an 18-wheeler being chased by 50 cop cars and several helicopters. Yes, ladies and gentleman, we're talking about a high speed chase involving a big ol' Mack truck.

Upon hearing this, I laughed and just kind of shrugged it all off as one of those "Haha, criminals will do the darndest things" type of occurrences that just so happened to be going on close to me. Well, about two minutes later we get another call from said publisher that say she just heard the Mack truck had gotten off on the Beltway at the same exit where our office happened to be. Again, I laughed, giggled, whatever you want to call it, and went about my business.

One minute later, though, I started hearing sirens ... lots of them. The office got another call, saying said mack truck was now on Westpark Drive and had finally been stopped by the chasing police officers. Well, guess what street my office happens to be on: Westpark Drive. At almost the exact same moment, myself and another sports editor looked at each other and seemingly at the same instant realized what we had the chance to witness. So of course we grabbed our coats and like true newsmen went searching for this runaway truck.

We walked out the door to the office, turned right, and lo and behold a quarter of a mile away sat a now-wheel less 18-wheeler on the side of the highway. Of course, I got some pictures.

I figure I should give you the official rundown of exactly went down in this chase, and thankfully my weekly paper is on top of things and already has a very good and detailed rundown of just how crazy this was. By the way this dude driving the truck's name is Vernon Jones:

Maryland State Police Sgt. Julianne Pritchard said the semi truck driver who led police on a pursuit from Hyattstown, Md. into Tysons Corner Tuesday afternoon was never driving much faster than 55 mph. By the time he crossed the state line at the American Legion Bridge, with both the truck’s front tires blown out, he was going considerably slower.

“The suspect did attempt to strike a number of vehicles, including my own,” Pritchard said.

She said the chase started at about 3:25 p.m., when Maryland state troopers running a routine vehicle check at a scale house discovered that the driver, identified in a Maryland State Police press release as 36-year-old Vernon Jones of Randallstown, Md., was wanted in Baltimore City.

Jones exited the Beltway at Tysons Corner, and he ended up heading northwest on Westpark Drive. There, the chase ended with the truck drifting across the wrong side of the road and coming to a stop on the sidewalk between a row of trees and a retaining wall, just beyond the intersection with Park Run Drive.

Pritchard said she wasn’t sure if Jones had lost control or given up, but she said smoke was pouring from the vehicle, while the front end of the cab, supported by badly damaged rims, was nearly touching the ground.

“He was giving up, however, he wouldn’t come out,” she said, noting that Montgomery County Police officers smashed the passenger-side window to gain entry to the cab. Once Jones was extracted from the vehicle, “immediately, he was tasered by Montgomery County,” she said.

Here's a link to video (with no sound for you office folks) of the highway portion of the chase. Yes, he is driving entirely on the rims of this truck throughout all this. And here's footage of the last parts of the chase where Jones runs off the road. Pay careful attention to when he first starts swerving (which later turns into vicious swerving and a crash). That's when he passes by my office. Frankly, when you watch that second video, it's more and more unbelievable that this guy didn't drive off the road and kill some innocent bystander.

Oh, but the story doesn't end there. So, since this is a news outlet and all, the fact that there was a crash right near us means we really have an obligation to do the best reporting possible. So with my trusty camera in hand, I set out on a mission to actually get a picture of this dude after he got tasered. Along with a college intern (that just feels ridiculous for me to type considering I was one a few months ago), we started sprinting to higher ground. See on the ground level, police and police cars were pretty much blocking all views of this fellow.

Well this intern (who, for those that need every minute detail of every story had joined the many random onlookers that wanted to see this truck) decided as we were running that we should hop this fairly tall fence that had prickly bushes below as a landing spot. I immediately thought this was unwise, but once he did it and appeared fairly unscathed, I felt like I had to ... you know ... since I'm not an old man and am actually 22 and should be in my athletic prime.

Well, turns out that was a bad decision. I ended up slicing and dicing my left hand on the prickly bushes when I landed. That was bad enough. But once I started running after said intern (who had already dashed to get a photo), I noticed myself bleeding profusely from my right hand. I looked down and as chance would have it, the top of this rather tall chain link fence had dug into the little crevice of skin between my ring and middle finger, a nice little gash if you will.

What's funny is my initial reaction wasn't "Oww this hurts or anything like that." No it was "Crap. I'm bleeding a ton. These cops are gonna somehow think I'm with this crazy 18-wheeler fellow." This all happened as a bunch of elementary school students were walking to their houses with their bus driver. See the road had obviously been closed off so the school bus couldn't go any further. Of course, my blood elicited screams of delight (from the kids who will eventually become goth in high school) and terror (from the goody goody girls that will inevitably be cheerleaders). All in all, just not the greatest situation I've been in.

But rather than go for something to clean up my mess of a bloody hand, my thoughts surprisingly turned back to the mission at hand, getting an actual picture of the now-tasered Mack truck driver. Look at the picture below and tell me I didn't do what I set out to do (bloody hand and embarrassment from being unable to clear a tall, but not really tall chain link fence notwithstanding):

That's what I'm talking about. Not the greatest photo of all time, but like the great Larry David says: pretty, pretty good.

I'm guessing you don't, but feel free to divulge if you have a crazier story from Tuesday December 9. And for all you haters that want to make fun of my failed leap over the fence, it turns out the intern got hurt as well, and I'm quoting him here, "Jumping the fence was a poor decision." So at least my initial trepidations proved correct. Probably doesn't excuse the bloody hand, though.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Baller Status (or Not) of Mike Vick

So a couple weeks ago we had the first real live Michael Vick sighting in a long time when he had to show up in Virginia state court to plead guilty to another set of those pesky dogfighting charges. Not sure if everyone heard about it, but it was in the news.

Those pesky pitbulls sure bite back hard.

Now the latest rage concerning the man who used to be a roller coaster (at least in Nike commercials) is to talk about his ongoing bancruptcy proceedings. It has been all the rage lately to report on the fact that Mike Vick bought one of his baby's mama a brand new Mercedes the day he went to prison in Kansas. The reason for the purchase ... so she would have a kick ass ride to go visit him with on those conjugal visits.

Well if this past weekend, Vick's hometown paper (sort of), the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote a ginormous article detailing exactly what and how much MIchael Vick has spent in the past few years, and most notably the past few months before starting his jail term. Let's just say if a visitor from another planet only saw the bank statements of Michael Vick, they would have no idea there's a recession. I've tried to come up with an adjective to describe what I'm about to quote from the story and all I could come up with was ridiculously absurd ... and I just don't think that does it justice.

The day he went to jail, Michael Vick bought a $99,000 Mercedes. He cashed four checks that totaled $24,900. He gave $28,000 to the mother of his oldest child. He paid a public relations firm $23,000 and gave a friend $16,000. Altogether on Nov. 19, 2007, Vick spent $201,840. ... The day’s spending, in fact, was but a small part of the $18.2 million that flew out of Vick’s hands from 2006 to 2008

That was literally the lede (no I didn't spell that wrong for you non-journalism folk) to the story. But before I go on, I should mention this all became available because Vick is filing for bancruptcy with all these pesky creditors after him.

For his own expenses, Vick seems to have relied heavily on cash. In 2007, documents show, he used cashier’s checks to withdraw $908,500 from his bank accounts. During a two-year period, he wrote checks payable to “cash” totaling almost $1.1 million. His spending escalated as his prison sentence neared. From Aug. 27, 2007, the day he pleaded guilty in a Richmond federal courthouse, until Nov. 19, the day he bought the new Mercedes before reporting to jail, Vick shelled out $3,627,291.

Now that we've got the staggering money totals of this man's life, let's go with a blow-by-blow account of just what he spent all this chump change on:

1) A $918,000 mini-mansion behind the gates that guard the Sugarloaf Country Club in Duluth, GA.
2) Two Years Later: upgraded to a larger house in the same neighborhood, for almost $3.8 million. Among his improvements to that property: a movie screening room and a golf simulator.
3) Bought four more houses, all in Virginia, and began building another.
4) He bought a condominium in Miami Beach.
5) He bought interests in two farms — one in Virginia, one in Rockdale County, east of Atlanta.
6) He bought six Paso Fino horses, worth about $450,000.
7) He bought two boats, one for $100,000, the other for $125,000.
8) He bought cars: a Bentley, two Land Rovers, Cadillacs, an Infiniti sport utility vehicle and an Infiniti sedan, two Ford pickup trucks, a Dodge, a Chevrolet, the $99,000 Mercedes.
9) He bought as much as $450,000 in jewelry.
10) MORE CARS: "In 2006, for instance, he bought his sister, Christina, a GMC Yukon. The next year, he gave a Lincoln Navigator to Tameka Taylor, the mother of his first child. The mother of Vick’s other two children, Kijafa Frink, got a Land Rover; her mother, a Cadillac Escalade."
11) Baby's Mama Expenses: He paid Frink’s mortgage and gave her $1,000 a month for clothes, court records say, and $300 for “beauty-related expenses.” He supported Taylor and their son with $3,500 a month.
12) Mama Expenses: For his mother, Brenda Boddie, Vick covered a $4,700-a-month mortgage and $2,100 in payments for her two Cadillacs.
13) In 2005, created a management and marketing company, MV7 LLC. It provided income for at least two family members, according to public records: Vick’s mother, whose salary approached $100,000 a year, and his sister, who earned about $22,000. The firm even had a retirement fund.
14) During his last weeks of freedom, though, Vick also spent $85,000 on a fish pond and $48,257 for landscaping. He bought a $31,000 Ford pickup and a $33,100 Chevrolet.
15) In the weeks before he went to jail, Vick made 48 cash withdrawals for a total of $325,945. The largest was on Sept. 19, for about $67,000. Using three cashier’s checks, he withdrew an additional $90,000.

That doesn't even begin to account for numeorus failed business ventures, including the infamous dog kennels that put him in jail in the first place, a failed charitable foundation that only spent 12 percent of its budget on actual charity stuff, and a horse farm that was auctioned off after Vick decided not to pay property tax on it.

Now, because he has applied for bancruptcy he is allowed to keep ownership of one house; he chose his mother’s home in Suffolk, Va. He also is keeping $136,500 of home furnishings, $5,000 of clothes and a retirement account with a balance of $96.63. Oh yeah, once he gets out of prison the IRS says he owes $1.2 million in back taxes.

Like I said, the phrase "ridiculously absurd" doesn't really do this man justice. The talk now surrounds if he'll ever be able to make a substantial amount of money playing football ever again. See, once he gets out of prison, the guess here, there and everywhere is that Vick will likely get another year off from the NFL thanks to Fidel Goodell's personal conduct rules. That leaves Vick with the option of playing in the CFL, the Arena League, or (if you haven't heard yet) the Mark Cuban-led UFL, which is slated to begin play next fall. Here's an interesting factoid about Vick's status in that league thanks to Peter King of

· The week after the NFL season ends in February, the league will hold an online poll of fans, asking if they think the league should pursue Michael Vick to play for one of its teams in 2009. If the vote is yes, the UFL will try to sign Vick to play -- presumably while he is under suspension for a year by the NFL after leaving prison on his dogfighting conviction.

Baller status no more.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Could Plax End Up in the Supreme Court?

Well, it seems the New York and national media just can't get enough of this Plaxico Burress story. It has been all over the place since he accidentally shot himself in the leg at a nightclub last Friday. Much of the talk has centered around the possible ramifications for Plax beyond the four-game suspension the Giants already doled out. We've had news of Derrick Ward and Antonio Pierce, Giant players who were also at the nightclub, being called in for questioning. And then there was the stinging response of New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg. If you're having some short term memory loss, here you go:

"If we don't prosecute [him] to the fullest extent of the law, I don't know who on Earth we would," Bloomberg said. "It makes a sham, a mockery of the law. And it's pretty hard to argue the guy didn't have a gun and that it wasn't loaded. You've got bullet holes in and out to show that it was there."

One thing I learned from being in NYC this summer and covering several Bloomberg pressers and just dealing with his administration in general is that whether he's wrong or right, when Mike Bloomberg says something, he stands by it. That doesn't bode well for Plaxico.

See, what some have overlooked about that statement is that means at minimum, Plax will be serving 3 and a half years in prison according to New York gun laws. I say that with certainty because, well, if we go by the letter of the law, this is an open and shut case. If you fire a gun in public in New York, and especially if you do it without a license, the punishment is 3 and a half to 15 years in jail. There really is nothing Plax's high-priced lawyer can do ... but wait ... there might be.

This past summer when I was at the NY Sun, I worked on this story (or more like did the bitch work for a story that another writer wrote) about how New York's gun laws were about to be challenged in the courts thanks to a decision in a DC court. The case involved this hot dog vendor, Daniel Vargas, who got arrested for simply having a gun in his apartment, which cops searched after receiving a tip that someone at his residence owned an unlicensed firearm. Literally, the guy got arrested for having a gun in his house. From Joe Goldstein of the the NY Sun:

The vendor, Daniel Vargas, is due next month in court to fight misdemeanor charges that he kept an unlicensed revolver loaded on a basement shelf in his apartment. The case, which has generated 23 hearings and been heard by no fewer than 10 different judges as it winds through Brooklyn's lowest criminal court, would be of little general interest, except for the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the Second Amendment protects a right to keep a handgun at home for self-defense.

Just to inject a personal anecdote into this post, if you take a look at the very end of the story, you'll see the results of my grunt work. I had to go to this Vargas guy's former apartment in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn (not exactly the cream of the crop in terms of Brooklyn areas), and ask all these neighbors if they remember him and things of that nature. Here's the extent of my work:

Mr. Vargas moved last month from the address on Lincoln Avenue where he was arrested, neighbors said. He could not be reached for comment. An immigrant from the Dominican Republic who is in his early 40s, Mr. Vargas "was a very nice man whenever I saw him," an upstairs neighbor, Beatrez Leger, said, adding that she recalled the arrest in 2006.

"I know he was very upset about it," she said.

Another neighbor, who declined to give his name, said that Mr. Vargas usually sells hot dogs at the corner of Liberty and Sheridan Avenues, although he was not there yesterday.

Now you say, how does this case relate to Plaxico since he didn't have a gun in his house, he had one in his sweatpants without a holster while at a nightclub? Actually, let's get specific because we can thanks to police and press reports

It appears that (Burress) put the unholstered gun in the waistband of his sweatpants, and when it slipped, he grabbed for it, accidentally hitting the trigger. To make matters worse, according to press accounts, he was seen drinking and may have been consuming alcohol -- which all firearms safety training (including the class he would have been required to take for his Florida permit) absolutely forbids for people handling guns. And of course Mr. Burress's handgun should have been holstered to prevent unintentional movement of the trigger. Fortunately, his negligent discharge did not harm anyone else.

Reading that, I think we all have the same reaction. What a moron. Seriously, who wears sweatpants to a nightclub? When I lived in New York, I was told not to expect to get into a bar, let alone a club, without a collar and long pants. And then basically counting on the elastic of your sweatpants to keep the gun in your possession. It's just idiotic, especially for someone making millions of dollars.

C'mon Plax, even little squirrels know the necessary safety measures that must be taken when carrying a gun.

So, you ask, how could this buffoonery result in Plaxico Burress becoming the model citizen for all those NRA and 2nd Amendment advocates who say things like "I don't have to be careful, I own a gun" or "Political power grows out of the gun"? By the way, those two quotes were uttered by Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, and Mao Zedong, creator of Communist China. Not sure how what that says about my opnion on this, but I thought they were good quotes.

Back to the business at hand, though. That pro-2nd Amendment court decision about guns in homes, District of Columbia vs. Heller, did not say requiring a gun permit to carry a gun wasn't allowed, BUT, as David Kopel explains in the Wall Street Journal:

In New York State, nonresidents cannot even apply for the licenses to possess or carry a handgun. Unlike most other states, New York refuses to honor carry permits issued by sister states. Most observers believe that the Supreme Court will eventually make state and local governments obey the Second Amendment. If it does, New York's discrimination against nonresidents will probably be ruled unconstitutional.

Plax had a license from Florida that expired last spring and since his home is in Jersey, he is technically not a New York state resident, meaning even if he wanted to legally have a gun on him that night, New York would never allow it as the law stands right now. And in fact the law is probably the most strict in all of America. According to the NY Sun:

It can require multiple trips to One Police Plaza, a wait of more than four months, and fees that can reach more than $1,000 over a decade. Some criminal defense lawyers also say that the requirement that applicants possess "good moral character" is too arbitrary.

Because of this moral character aspect of the equation, pretty much the only people in New York that can legally carry a weapon are celebrities, politicians, or former police officers. Now most of us peaceful folk would obviously contend that the fewer guns, the merrier for a society so fixated on violence. But the founders of this country gave everyone the right to bear arms and I haven't seen 2/3 of the country ready to repeal that (2/3 majority in Congress is what it would take to get an amendment gone, that is, if my high school social studies classes were telling me the truth). You get the floor again, Kopel:

Mr. Burress's behavior was bad. However, Mr. Burress is not facing prosecution for carelessness, but simply for carrying a weapon. This is unjust and perhaps unconstitutional. ... Some commentators contend that Plaxico Burress should have hired bodyguards, instead of carrying a gun himself. Mr. Burress might now agree. But people who aren't as wealthy as he is also deserve to be safe, and they don't have the money for bodyguards. New York City needs to regularize its carry permit system so that law-abiding people can protect themselves, especially if their circumstances (such as being a witness to a gang crime) place them at heightened risk.

So basically, if Plax chooses to, he'll probably be able to appeal this to some kind of higher court, maybe even the highest in all the land here in Washington. Not sure if he'll win, simply because the gun wasn't in his home, it was in his sweatpants. But still, there are some interesting arguments that P Diddy's old lawyer will likely pursue now that he's representing Plaxico.

Wait, what's that? You want one final pro-Plax assertion from respected media folk. Ask and you shall receive:

The Burress case also shows why mandatory sentences are a bad idea. He was careless but had no malign intent. Legislators and mayors like to appear tough by pushing through such draconian laws. Yet the victims are people like Mr. Burress whose conduct may have been improper, but who do not deserve the same sentences meted out to robbers and burglars.

I figured since I had the Plax gun photo yesterday, i had to end with an NRA/Charlton Heston gun-totin' picture. And speaking of the NRA, where the hell have they been during all this the past week? No statements, no support for Burress, no nothing. This is probably the biggest gun case in at least a few years and the biggest lobbying group for guns has been MIA. Kind of fishy, if you ask me.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Plax Christmas

Had a colleague email me this photo and I figured I had to post it up. As if Plaxico didn't have enough on his plate already, now the Steelers fans are starting to pile on the anti-Burress bandwagon.

Suggestion: Come to DC for Inauguration Week

Actually I take that headline back. Come to DC for Inauguration Week if you can find a place to stay. See, that's because every single hotel is jam packed with people wanting to come see the historic day that Barrack Obama officially becomes President. So jampacked that even the friggin' marching bands that are slated to perform in the Inauguration parade are going to some drastic measures.

Band directors, trying to make contingency arrangements, are facing the same struggle as other would-be visitors, with demand high to get near what could be the biggest inaugural celebration in the country's history. It's one thing to find a hotel room for your family or a couch to crash on. It's another to find a block of rooms for a group that may number 200 or more. Plus the drums, tubas and the like.

"The furthest we've ever put a group is Rockville," said Justin Shuler, owner of Group Travel Network, which arranges trips for marching bands and student groups. "Now we're looking at southern Virginia and Pennsylvania. . . . It's impossible to find rooms. It has never been this difficult."

So since people might be down in the dumps because they have nowhere to stay, the DC City Council came up with a novel idea. Let them spend money and drink through the night. Yes, that's right. The DC government has made my life a whole lot better by allowing bars and nightclubs to extend their drinking hours until 5 a.m. every day of Inauguration week. Read this little brief about it and you'll realize just how ridiculous the DC government can be:

The D.C. Council approved emergency legislation this evening that will allow District bars, nightclubs and restaurants to serve alcohol until 5 a.m. — three hours later than usual — and remain open for food around the clock from Jan. 17 until the morning after Obama’s swearing-in Jan. 20.

I love how letting people drink more is deemed "emergency legislation." Now before you jump the gun and declare DC as being some ultra-awesome party town, I just want to make it known there were dissentors, like this fellow from the bar heavy area of Adams Morgan:

“I see the potential for why you’d want to do it, in terms of this being a historic election, but to just throw this down on neighborhoods?” said Bryan Weaver, head of the Adams Morgan advisory neighborhood commissions. “To have 3 1/2 days of 24-hour service without any input from the community — there’s going to be hell to pay from a lot of neighborhood associations.”

Oh and if you wanted to know, DC's most faithful and snortastic public servant, former mayor and coke fiend Marion Barry, voted for this proposal. I would love to have a drink with that guy on Inauguration week. I hope it happens around 4 or 5 in the morning so I can buy him a round to say thanks.

This is actual surveillance video (kind of blurry unfortunately) of former DC mayor Marion Barry doing coke. This was published in the Washington Post. Still, after having to resign because of this, Barry was then elected mayor again and now is an influential member of the City Council. Oh yeah, he was also one of the people opposed to bringing the Nats to DC. Maybe it makes sense to you, but I have no idea how he does it, you know, staying relevant with his wicked coke habits and all.

This guy could be a Wizard

Well I think we're all aware that college basketball season is starting to get in full swing now, and one of the big stories of the early season has been the emergence of Oklahoma's Blake Griffin as a clear-cut top 3 pick in next year's NBA Draft. The guy is going to be a double-double machine in the league. Seriously, I'm thinking Dwight Howard in small forward form here.

And with the Wizards saddled with a 3-13 record currently, there's no doubt that as things stand they are certainly in the running for Griffin. Umm, well ... after seeing the pictures I'm about to post, I wonder about what sort of dynamic this kid could have with characters like Gilbert, Deshawn Stevenson, and jokesters like Nick Young and Andray Blatche:

Yep, that's right. These are pictures of Blake Griffin dressed hideously in drag. Again, this guy will be making millions next year. This all just proves that as long as you can jump and run better than anybody else, there's no telling what stupid stuff you can get away with.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sean Avery on Sloppy Seconds

It's a dilemma every guy faces at some point in their single lives.

There's a girl that catches your eye after getting introduced by a mutual friend. But then all of a sudden the luster that got you attracted to her in the first place gets removed almost instantaneously when you find out said friend already hooked up with the girl. It happened to me a couple weeks ago. Had some sparks with a random girl who was friend of a friend, but then I recoiled when I heard she had hooked up with the very friend who was the reason we met in the first place. I'm not sure if this is an indictment on me, the friend, or the girl, but there's gotta be something wrong with someone.

Well, turns out the much maligned Sean Avery of the NHL feels the same way. Just for a little background if you aren't the hugest of hockey fans, Avery has been in the public spotlight for almost all the wrong reasons over the years. NHL players hate him because of his physical and oftentimes distracting style of play. He's even got a rule named after him (The Sean Avery Rule) after he tried to distract goalie Martin Brodeur by standing in front of him with his stick held high in the air in the playoffs last season. In the aftermath of it all, Avery called Brodeur "a whining fatboy."

Now the diehard NHLers out there might hate him because he plays the game the way it ain't supposed to be played. But the guy has a pretty darn interesting life. He had an internship with Vogue magazine this past summer that has prompted a screenplay to be written. And for all his transgressions, the guy has pulled quite the haul in the tail department over the years. He's been officially linked with Rachel Hunter and Elisha Cuthbert.

Sean Avery with former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert back in the day

And that's where the sloppy seconds come in. Tonight Avery and his Dallas Stars visit Calgary, home of defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who is now being officially linked to Avery's ex, Cuthbert. Never one to mince words, I think Sean Avery may have given the world it's first ever sloppy seconds quote when he told TSN:

"I am really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada. I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about. Enjoy the game tonight."

Usually, you hear about all this stuff in hindsight or off the record, but I think it's pretty obvious that the dilemma that is athletes stealing/talking trash about each other's girls will go on for eternity. Like for instance, for all the hubbub about the Kobe/Shaq stuff over the years, there's no doubt in my mind the whole thing had to do with Kobe trying to save his butt during the Aspen anal outrage by ratting out Shaq for his own sexual escapades around the country.

Dion Phaneuf and Cuthbert nowadays. Is it just me or did the Girl Next Door get less hot since she dated Avery?

All that said, I'm kind of upset I don't have NHL Center Ice for this game. If history tells us anything, where there's a squabble over a girl, there's sure to be a fight.

UPDATE: Avery was suspended indefinitely by NHL commish Gary Bettman before last night's game, meaning there was no fight. Also, Avery's comments go a little deeper now that I've read some more about this. Apparently Cuthbert has also been romantically linked with Montreal's Mike Komisarek and Rachel Hunter is now the girlfriend of Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll. I'm starting to agree with Avery more and more here.

Oh and my opinion on Bettman's suspension? Well, here's an example of how stupid people (or ESPN's Scott Burnside if we're getting specific) feel about this situation:

You would have to search high and low in the hockey world to find someone who thinks Tuesday's punishment was not just, who thinks Avery didn't have it coming. Imagine the thought process that went into Tuesday's act and it's not difficult to see why some hockey people believe Avery needs professional help. Indeed, that may be just what the league and/or the Stars mandate -- get help and try to figure out what lies behind the impulses that led to this point; get help in being a functioning member of society, and then see about the hockey.

Here's how you should feel about this, courtesy of SI's Arash Markazi:

It's amazing that a league that condones fighting on the ice would be so adamantly opposed to a war of words off it. Some might say Avery's comments and behavior aren't the kind of attention the league needs. I couldn't disagree more. Avery isn't doing anything illegal. He's not shooting himself at a club or pushing a security guard against a broken mirror at a restaurant or taking illegal supplements -- he's trash talking. Suspending Avery for making controversial comments before a game would be like punishing a fighter for berating an opponent to hype an upcoming match. Avery knows what makes headlines; unfortunately, the NHL doesn't -- and doesn't seem interested in making them, either.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I'm Readying For a Manning Bowl

Is it just me or does it seem like the NFL is slowly moving its way towards the third-straight season of Manningitis. Two years ago we had Peyton conquering his demons and actually winning his first championship at any level of football. Last season we had immature and sometimes awkward younger brother Eli Manning shoving it in every naysayer's face by somehow transforming almost overnight into a capable NFL quarterback and winning his own Super Bowl.

It's a Manning world, we're just livin' in it.

And now I've got this feeling somehow we're going to end up with a Giants-Colts Super Bowl. Think about it. The NFC has really turned into the Giants and the rest of the conference. The fact that some people are suggesting the Cowboys — a team literally hanging by an injured finger — have the best shot at knocking off the Giants tells you just how much of a favorite they should be. Watching New York just dominate the Skins, yesterday, I'm convinced they've got a return appearance to the Super Bowl in the cards.

Most will probably say Peyton's path is much tougher than Eli's since the Colts aren't nearly the complete team the Giants are. I say it's not that much tougher. Right now, with the Colts riding a four-game winning streak and Peyton just rounding into shape, is there another team in the AFC the Colts wouldn't be favored against if the playoffs were to start today? Maybe the Steelers, but that's only because the game would be played in Pittsburgh.

Imagine that. A Manning Super Bowl week. Seriously, people will turn on them. It could be the first ever Super Bowl to have people rooting for an earthquake so it doesn't happen and therefore no Manning can win. C'mon, with the economy the way it is, how the hell can there even be the opportunity for one family to have the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL (Peyton), the Super Bowl winning quarterback of a football team in the nation's biggest market (Eli Manning), two straight Super Bowl MVPs, and then an unprecedented third-straight family Super Bowl?

It makes me sick to my stomach. Give me a new storyline. Peyton was fine, especially because he had that goofy aw shucks voice and that penchant for looking so determined even as he sunk during playoff loss after playoff loss. That's why it was cool when he won one Super Bowl. It felt like he earned it. But good God, I liked me some Manning back in the day. This is just enough, though.

If you hate (or if you love them, I guess) take a look at this video. It's a look into the future if we let these Mannings control our football league. We could have Manning PSAs all the time.