Saturday, January 31, 2009

Michael Steele

Good for him.

Pardon me for being a little cynical - actually, a lot cynical - about the Republican's new choice for national chairman.

The problem isn't their futile outreach to black and other ethnic minorities, or the relative lack thereof. The problem is their politics. Putting on a blackface, so to speak, isn't going to change that.

Michael Tomasky, whom I especially like because he must explain the vagaries of American politics to an English audience, gets to the heart of things:

I find this pathetic and hilarious: "Golly, America has elected this black president. Well, we have, like, maybe 10 black Republicans across the entire country, so let's choose one as our figurehead." I exaggerate a little, but in essence, the GOP headed titularly by a black man is the rough equivalent of China being run by a Yugur.

... Aside from which, the assumption that a black Republican candidate will know "their interests and needs" is entertaining. I seem to remember a lot of Republicans complaining last year that the idea that black people would vote for a black presidential candidate was not evidence of a similar assumption but of the "fact" that black people were reverse-racists.

In many ways, I feel sorry for Steele. He's being set up to fail, given the changing tide in America politics (not to mention, demographics) and the general repudiation of GOP principles in the last election.

The GOP chairman doesn't articulate a platform, as much as he raises money. We'll see how Steele plays to the party's rock-ribbed neocon wing in the South, the Joe Six-Packs and Joe the Plumbers who we all know love black people so much.

And if all else fails, Steele at least has some ideas on how to roundup the Democratic vote. So it's a win-win no matter what. Continue Reading »

Bad Management 101

Sigh. My general response to this sort of bullshit is: "I'm a grown-ass man. Please, treat me as such or I'll make you do it":

This is targeted foremost to all reporters, who would send a daily e-mail the last thing before they leave for the day (or at the latest, the very first thing - 8 a.m. - the next day). These e-mails would go not only to your most immediate editor but to at least five editors, including me. This daily e-mail would lay out specifically what you accomplished that day, what you need to finish or follow up on the next day, and what you plan to do that next day. We mean everything, from the most mundane county council advance to the beginning interview in the most ambitious investigation that may or may not see the light of day (or publication).

Then, of course, we get an example. About 375 words worth:

Checked e-mail; Checked logs at Mishawaka, county and South Bend; Responded to accident at Ironwood and bypass; Called Mishawaka Detective Bureau about child neglect case (records would not provide narrative since it is under investigation by CPS); Called Mishawaka woman struck Monday by hit-and-run driver while she was getting into her car; Wrote story on woman struck by hit-and-run driver; Placed call to Trent about two rape cases that were on log (he was not in this morning); left message. Called Humane Society of St. Joseph County to see if any animals were taken out of home in Mishawaka where elderly lady was livign in filth surrounded by several full litter boxes; was told someone would be in contact. Updated productivity report; Spoke briefly with Trent about rape cases on log - appears to be teenage girl covering up for sexual escapades; Spoke with John Pavlekovich about concerns regard retirement story - presumably ironed everything out; Pow-wowed with Dave about year-end crime stories - I get homicides! — start working on lead smelter reporting, call health dept. again, talk to lead director, no idea what I'm talking about; — call IDEM local office, am transferred to regional office, leave message for public relations people; — am asked to work on Goshen beating story; — call Goshen PIO, discuss YouTube video beating; — try to find number for YouTube mom, search phone books, internet; — do web update; — call Goshen schools superindendent, leave message; — go to video bootcamp lunch; — research YouTube beating posted by teens, leave message for national anti-Internet abuse lady; — reach other woman affilated with anti-Internet abuse, talk to about story; — call super Intendant again, leave second message; — go to 2 p.m. interview with judge Scopelitis, wait forever in rotunda because he's in hearing, finally leave and reschedule; — call back superindendant, finally reach for story; — find address for YouTube mom; — write YouTube video story, file story; — give graph to john stump for lead smelter story; —Drive out to Goshen to try and find YouTube mom, get lost, turn around, find trailer park, can't find address, finally find address, family no longer lives there, drive back. Planning to come in around 9 tomorrow.
M'kay. This is all being done in the name of "productivity" (and not necessarily the ascendancy of grammar). In fact, these silly bean counters use the word "productivity" the way Brett Michaels' groupies use the word "connection." (Watch it for yourself. Make a drinking game of it).

Then you read things like this and this and this and this and this and this and this and, mercifully, this.

And you realize, the only thing the managers and bean counters have managed to "produce" are a failing product. And neurotic journalists like moi.

In the worrisome words of Hamilton Nolan, "newspapers are so fucking fucked." Continue Reading »

Friday, January 30, 2009

General Lee, Steve Spurrier and Change

While pondering the poor tackling of high school students, investigating the college plans of kids who mostly resemble helmeted Godzillas and making fun of Bobby Bowden, my new favorite college football blog stumbled across this gem:
“Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy when all the black guys were in Vietnam.”

Not that my father would have won the Heisman or anything, but you know, that's pretty much true.

Folk are different here in the South, of course. Most of the icons down here made their mark when folks were still drinking from separate water fountains. Even today, in some parts, it's best not to speak ill of Robert E. Lee, Bear Bryant (in Texas, it's Darrell Royal) or Col. Sanders (you know where he really got those spices from) in mixed company. Assuming the company is all that mixed.

Hell, the other weekend - a few miles away from my office - a group of folks got together for their annual reenactment of a local Civil War battle. I've been told that they've had problems in recent years finding soldiers to fight for the Yankees. Everyone wants to play for the losing team, apparently. At least, I assume they lose.

I can understand the longing for the past. Seems as if most of our local legends are dead or dying or their legend is on life support. Even the Ol' Ball Coach and Bobby Bowden aren't immune anymore.

This was some deeply serious funny from Tim Wilson. That's some change we can believe in. Continue Reading »

More about me

Like A.T., I got tagged a few more times on Facebook. And like A.T., I'm going to give this another shot. I wasn't happy with my last performance (but not sure I'm going to post this one on Facebook):

1. About eight years ago, I covered an execution in Texas. The condemned inmate's name was Orien Cecil Joiner. He was convicted of fatally stabbing two women who lived next door to him in Lubbock. This was his final statement.

2. I've only been drunk about a half dozen times in my life. I was with my ABC, J-Will, four of those times. The last time was when I worked up the liquid coverage to kiss the woman who later became The First Lady.

3. The real reason I stopped eating pork was that I considered joining the Nation of Islam when I was a teenager. I was serious, or about as serious as any kid can be about something like that at that age. I never joined the Nation, but I also never ate pork again.

4. I don't believe in potluck dinners. It's nothing personal. I just don't eat food made at someone else's home.

5. I love talking with people whom I can ask anything, and whom feel comfortable enough to ask me anything. Curious people make the best - and most interesting - friends.

6. My homeboy keeps telling me that Spice Gold is legal. "You can blow it right in a cop's face," he says. I just don't believe him.

7. The only person whom I'll always hold a grudge against is my old high school football coach. If he was on fire, I wouldn't piss on him to put it out. F-you, Coach Davis.

8. I've only got one good Achilles tendon. The right one. I tore the other one at a bachelor party.

9. I will almost always root for the underdog. I probably should have been a defense attorney.

10. I never grew up with pets, so it's taken me some time to learn how to live with a dog. It's a continuous learning process. My moms thinks I need to consult with Cesar Millan.

11. Once upon a time, I was extremely fastidious about how clean I kept my apartment. I even made sure the lines from the vacuum were straight. I want to become that way again.

12. I really, really, really miss playing basketball four times a week at the Christus Schumpert Wellness Center in Bossier City. Few things are better than a good, clean, competitive pickup game.

13. I'm really bad at staying in touch with my friends - I've got nine messages in my voicemail from folks that I need to call. But the good thing about my friends is they understand this is one of my flaws.

14. I don't think I've ever been quite the same after one of my best friends committed suicide about 10 years ago. Hard to put a finger on why. But I'm just different. I'll always wonder if I could have done something to stop it.

15. If I could live anywhere, it'd probably be somewhere along the Southern California coast. But the Bay Area would be cool, too.

16. I've always hated clubs and parties. But a small get-together with good friends and a nice meal ... man, just tell me what to bring and what time to be there.

17. No doubt, I'm a mama's boy. But I'm also my father's son. All of my personality traits came honestly.

18. I've already got the name picked out for my first son: Denmark. Don't steal it.

19. I almost missed my high school graduation. I was one more failed pre-cal test from not walking with my class. Simply embarrassing.

20. Speaking of which, if I studied more than a total of 20 hours in college, I'd be surprised. I have absolutely no kind of study habits. It's a damn shame.

21. The only two jobs that I didn't get that I interviewed for were with newspapers in Louisville and Nashville. I consider myself lucky.

22. My first car was a 1987 Honda Civic CRX. I called it "Cletus." People used to clown the hatchback but, hey, that car got great gas mileage and always got me from "A" to "B."

23. If I have to choose, it's gotta be Melinda and I. A new, strange, bustling, interesting city. At least five days to explore. And a beach nearby.

24. I sorta think Blago got a raw deal.

25. The funniest person I know is Steven Baker. He should be making money off his comedy. Turns out he's good at law school, too. Continue Reading »

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cheap thrills

You may have thought Tampa and the Bay Area was all about endless sunshine, 70-degree winter days, the nation's best beaches and palm trees. Those things alone make my new hometown appealing for an event on the scale of the Super Bowl.

But, no, we've got much more than that to offer: we're also serious about our lap dances and silicone-inflated breassesses.

The Super Bowl is a command performance for a city defined, in part, by its international reputation for lap dancing.

Tampa has 30 licensed adult dance clubs, adult theaters, live model studios and adult bookstores on record at City Hall. That's roughly 1 per 11,300 residents, among the highest rates nationwide. The infamous adults-only scene gives Tampa part of its luster, some say.

"I don't think it's a stretch to say that the adult entertainment industry helps us get things like the Super Bowl,'' said Paul Allen, publisher of NightMoves magazine, one of the oldest adult club publications in the country.

Raised in another city (Houston) known for its, uh, nightlife, I've gotta say that Tampa is not at all prudish about its offerings. That even extends to my generally family-friendly employer. Check out this post on one of our many, many, many Super Bowl blogs:
There's one guy who likes to bring girls in the private area and all he wants you to do -- in costume -- is bend over and constantly smoke cigarettes and blow smoke between your legs. He doesn't want to touch you. He just wants you to blow smoke in between your legs and occasionally blow smoke in his face.

Speaking of silicone breassesses, we've also invited former SI "columnist" and aspiring "model" Jenn Sterger to share her thoughts on our Web site.

And hey, I'm all for it. Let's go 100 percent with this thing. Anything for eyeballs and Web clicks. I'm sure she came, uh, cheap. Continue Reading »

For richer, not poorer

Some people truly deserve each other:

Dawn Spinner Davis, 26, a beauty writer, said the downward-trending graphs began to make sense when the man she married on Nov. 1, a 28-year-old private wealth manager, stopped playing golf, once his passion. “One of his best friends told me that my job is now to keep him calm and keep him from dying at the age of 35,” Ms. Davis said. “It’s not what I signed up for.”

Actually she did. The marital vows - the ones she supposedly took about three months ago - explicitly mention something about "for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse." It was the part before she added a sparkly wedding band to a ring finger that was probably already weighted down with a $20,000 diamond.

Davis and some of her friends have started this blog that invites women to join “if your monthly Bergdorf’s allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared from your life.”

The First Lady summed it all up nicely: "These are the dregs of society."

Apparently, they've had quite a response since the NY Times profiled them the other day. Good for them. I was hoping that this has all been done with their tongues firmly in cheek.

If not, then I hope the DABA girls represent the end of this reckless American gilded age. There's something disgusting about them and people of their ilk, something that I can't quite put my finger upon.

I'm thinking that Ta-Nehisi might have found the perfect metaphor for it all - the humbling descent for the bluebloods of Wall Street, their money-based marriages of convenience - a couple months ago, when he compared our national financial meltdown to the Bill Withers classic "Use Me."

We're always talking about politicians deluding us and Wall-Street manipulating us, and predatory lenders conning us, into doing things that aren't in our own interest. But maybe we don't want what's in our interest. Maybe we like our gas-guzzling, credit-card charging, second house buying when you can't afford it, commercial culture.

The thing I always liked about Bill Withers's "Use Me" was that it was a man's critique of a dysfunctional relationship. Unlike a lot of rappers, Withers doesn't blame the girl, he blames himself, going so far as to say, "It ain't too bad the way you using me, because I sure am using you to do that thing we do."

Right. So fret not for the man whose girlfriends writes: "Thanks to the recession, I now have a completely devoted BF, which is exactly what I wanted. So I should be happy, right? Wrong. I’m bored and can’t stop thinking about my perpetually unattainable Euro ex-boyfriend who is recession proof courtesy of an offshore trust account. To be honest, I’m only with my BF because I just don’t have the heart to change my facebook status from “in a relationship” to “I ain’t saying I’m a gold digger, but I ain’t messin’ with no broke banker."

He chose her, same way that she chose him. They're just fulfilling the book. They belong together, if only to keep them from ruining the lives of some other innocent souls.

To borrow a line from American novelist Edith Wharton: "When the honeymoon is over, the marriage begins."

Continue Reading »

Rejected Joe Torre book pitches

I have a good friend who works in the New York Yankees' organization. He's not one for clubhouse gossip, as I imagine he likes cashing paychecks from one of the world's best-known sports franchises.

As such, I figured he might appreciate the following (maybe you will, too):

Pitch 2:
Set in New York City, in the late 1900’s, “The Yankee Years” is a first hand account of my life in the Bronx as the Yankees’ skipper. It covers it all, from the daily train rides to changing Don Zimmer’s diaper, this book bears my soul.

Rejection 2:
Thanks again, Joe, but we’re looking for something a little more interesting to the public. And a little less gross.

Pitch 4:
Set in early twentieth century New York, “The Yankee Years” is a first-hand account of the time I helped Alex Rodriguez break out of a June slump.

Rejection 4:
Joe, did you say Alex Rodriguez?

Pitch 7:
Set in the late-1900’s, The Yankee Years chronicles the rocky relationship between superstars, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Rejection 7:
Joe, could you be more specific? And possibly work a pun in there?

And so on.

That said, I've never understood why so many people seem to enjoy taking cheap shots at the A-Rod. It seems silly, it seems petty, it seems like jealousy. I wish people would stop. A-Rod has never been accused of taking PEDs, sabotaging his teammates or even slapping around his wife (infidelity is so common among us - humans - that it would seem silly for anyone to launch projectiles from their glass houses).

Sure, A-Rod seems a bit stilted and he seems to crave public approval. But I'm not so sure why that's a bad thing for a sports superstar. It would only make sense, right? I'd much rather deal with A-Rod than, say, Jeff Kent. And having once dealt with them both regularly in a professional capacity, I can say that with certainty.

Also, I'm reminded that I stopped reading autobiographies a loooooong time ago. There's only a handful I've read in my lifetime that were worth the effort - autobiographies of Barack Obama, Malcolm X and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar immediately come to my mind.

There's just not much to be learned in autobiographies, I think. I will allow that they can occasionally be interesting. But I find self-introspection seems to work best in practice and not necessarily on the page. I'm no big fan of one-sided stories or sales pitches. Not in my reading time, at least.

I say this because, as a kid, I once read Lawrence Taylor autobiography (the first of two) in which he seemed to be boasting that he'd finally cleaned up his Hall-of-Fame, off-the-field act. "Got some dope out of my system," he said matter-of-factly, over and over throughout the book.

I just wasn't sure who he was trying to convince. The book was published in 1987. It took him 11 years to live up to the claim he'd made in those pages.

All that to say, I'll probably pass on "The Yankee Years." Let's see how the story stands up to the test of time and, shall we say, peer review. Continue Reading »

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Church excuse

A bumper sticker I just saw on the way back from an assignment:
Sorry I missed church, but I was too busy practicing witchcraft and becoming a lesbian.

In the heart of the Bible Belt, no less. Kudos. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Getting to know me

As usual, I'm jacking a blog idea from A.T. This one is from Facebook, a list of 25 random facts about myself. They're all mostly true:

1. I will struggle mightily to come up with a list of 25 things worth mentioning about my life. I'm also sorry for tagging you. Feel free to ignore the rules.

2. I think eight months of unemployment was the best thing to ever happen to me. No, really.

3. I was down to my last unemployment check ($632 every two weeks) when I started my new gig in Shreveport a week later. This reminded me that God may not come when you want him, but he’s always on time.

4. I often wonder why I even bother trying to make a living at journalism. I get really discouraged when I read exceptionally talented writers. Strangely enough, I started feeling this way after I started blogging.

5. I’m too passionate about too many things to remain professionally objective for much longer.

6. I hated my high school and college while I was a student. Now I realize I was having a grand old time. What the hell was I complaining about? If anything, it's taught me to appreciate the moment.

7. I’m a lot more interested in the honeymoon than the wedding.

8. I think 30 is the new 30.

9. I find myself missing Shreveport and Bossier City a lot more than I ever thought I would. But I can’t imagine not living near a beach again.

10. I really, really like Mexican food. Especially beef enchiladas. And especially Uncle Julio’s off I-20 near the Camp Bowie exit in Fort Worth.

11. I wonder who opens the jars and gets things off the top shelf for my mom when I’m not home.

12. I would ask you really personal, really intimate questions if left to my own devices and if I didn’t have home training. I’m thinking of some of them now.

13. I would like to take a trip to Toronto (or Montreal) and then Havana. I need to make this happen.

14. I do not have 348 friends (on Facebook). I do not know how that happened. I share in the blame for this.

15. I know that I owe at least a couple of people really deep, heart-felt apologies. Someday, I suppose.

16. I used to believe that most people in my life, with few exceptions, were expendable. I don’t quite feel that way anymore.

17. I have never been to Europe or Africa. That sucks.

18. I mourn the loss of having a true team to root for. For whatever reason, I’ve taken to rooting against teams. The Dallas Cowboys and the University of Texas, in particular. And maybe LSU and the University of Florida now. I love it when they fail.

19. I think the Houston Rockets’ first NBA title cured me of caring about whether or not my team wins a championship. It was then that I realized, ‘man, I’m not getting a ring for this.’

20. I will not stop until I get under 200 pounds. There’s no need for someone my height to be this damn big.

21. I mourn the loss of civility. What the hell is wrong with being “politically correct”? Where I come from, they call that manners and home training.

22. I once told (lied to) a college class that my father won a Sherman Helmsley look-alike contest in lieu of telling them something interesting from my own life.

23. I have a total of 20 uncles and aunts, or at least, I used to. Some of you might be my cousins and I’d really have no clue. If you’re from Pine Bluff or Hot Springs, Arkansas, or West Monroe, Louisiana, there’s a good chance we’re kinfolk.

24. I really think J. Anthony Brown stole my bit about “Tambourine Man.” I was the only person making fun of folks who play the tambourine a few years ago.

25. I think my life will get a lot more interesting in the next 5 years. I’m grateful I’ve got the First Lady to take the journey with me.
Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck...

At the moment, relatively obscure hip-hop acts of the '90s. Tell me, when's the last time you heard any of these joints on the radio? Satellite or otherwise?

1. Broken Language by Smoothe da Hustler feat. Trigga that Gambler
2. Won on Won by Cocoa Brovaz (formerly Smif N Wessun)
3. I'll Take Her by Ill Al Skratch feat. Brian McKnight
4. Black Connection by Camp Lo
5. Operation Lockdown by Heltah Skeltah
And a bonus No. 6. Good Dwellas by Cella Dwellas
And a bonus No. 7. Superhoes by FunkDoobiest

Shall we proceed? Continue Reading »

Stupid is as stupid does

Because I love YouTube so much, thought I'd dust off an oldie but goodie. Best part is homeboy with the camera - "ok, what's wrong?":

Continue Reading »

Monday, January 26, 2009

Once again, back is the incredible

After several days of rest, hours of YouTube and dozens of bowls of soup (mostly creamy tomato), I'm feeling ready to conquer the world. Or at least work.

This week, posting will be light as I've got to catch up on work, get reacquainted with the treadmill and fill out mounds of paperwork related to some alternative goals. Also, I'm hoping that I can catch a few practices for Lingerie Bowl VI (hey, the First Lady said I could go. No foolin').

A few notes from my weekend and morning before we get into this:

1. I'm hoping it was merely a coincidence that I got sick the day after the inauguration. More likely, my stomach started churning after hearing people talk about a "dream fulfilled." Please, spare me.

2. I joined Sarah Palin's Facebook fan page over the weekend. It's really an unexpected source of comedy. The supporters' posts are like Letters to Santa but with more grammatical errors.

3. This morning, I interviewed an 89-year-old black woman for a story that I'm working on today. For no real reason, other than I like to hear people talk, I asked her about Obama. She told me: "It's nice to finally have a colored boy in there." For whatever reason, that made me smile. I promised to return sometime with her favorite beverage, an Old Milwaukee.

4. I watched "Sex, Lies and Videotape" for the first time late last night. Just wow. It's like an late '80s version of "Closer." Soderbergh's flick is a movie strictly for grown-ups, and not in a prurient kind of way. It got me to thinking about the sorts of questions we'd never ask of our intimates. But I guess I'm left wondering if those are the questions we really need to ask, or if we're better off not knowing the answers?

5. I spent hours and hours looking up old, mostly forgotten, hip-hop videos from the '90s. I'm trying to think of a way to drop some of that onto the site this week. But here's one for the moment, a nod to the title of this post ...

Continue Reading »

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not ready for primetime

Maybe some of you have already heard, but we're supposed to have a big professional football contest here in Tampa next weekend. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Puffy, Bruce Springsteen and Rihanna will all be involved somehow. There will be parties and everything.

But honestly, how big can a football game be if the Arizona Cardinals are invited? I mean, this ain't the St. Petersburg Bowl.

As a lifelong football fan, the Cardinals - perennially one of the NFL's worst and worst-run franchises - playing in a Super Bowl seemed about as improbable as a black man with a foreign-sounding name running things in the Oval Office. You really can't believe it, even as it's actually happening.

It got me to thinking, what other professional sports teams would shock the hell out of me and most other sensible sports fans by intruding in the championship round? I'll go with a list of 10 (because I'm cliche like that) and I'm not going to bother with NHL teams since no one cares about that league, especially in Florida. Remember, this is not necessarily a list of the worst franchises. This is mostly a compilation of teams seemingly created to fill out the second half of SportsCenter:

10. Pittsburgh Pirates - From Bill Mazeroski's Game 7 walkoff homer against the Yankees to Roberto Clemente and the first all-black starting lineup in league history to the Killer Bs in the early '90s, the Pirates have something of a colorful, championship-like pedigree. One of their managers even invented the concept of the closer. But since 1992, the Pirates have the longest streak of losing seasons of any team in the country's four major professional leagues. They still have cool gear, though.

9. Cleveland Browns - Since Jim Brown left town, the Browns ain't been worth shit. Well, that's not necessarily true. Those teams with Bernie Kosar, Earnest Byner and Clay Matthews in the mid-80s were good but could never get past John Elway and the Broncos. As a result, the Browns are one of five NFL teams that haven't made it to the Super Bowl since the AFL-NFL merger. In 1970. (Consider, of course, that the original franchise moved to Baltimore in 1996 and won a Super Bowl five seasons later. The Cleveland Curse, indeed).

8. Denver Nuggets - Another team that has experienced intermittent success but nothing worth noting in the postseason. Though it was a nice historical footnote, it doesn't say much for your franchise when the signature playoff moment is a first-round upset of the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics in 1994.

7. Milwaukee Bucks - Sometimes I forget that the Bucks came within one game of the NBA Finals in 2001, losing to the Sixers. But really, it's been all downhill since Kareem-Abdul Jabbar was traded to the Lakers in 1975. If the Bucks ever do advance to the Finals, David Stern and ABC executives will have an aneurysm.

6. Milwaukee Brewers - It could be that I'm simply biased against teams from Milwaukee. But honestly, the Brewers and Bucks would be ratings poison for any championship event. Also hurts that the Brewers have two playoff appearances in 39 seasons. No one outside of Wisconsin cares about them - I didn't realize they had been switched to the National League until, like, 1997.

5. New Orleans Saints - Another one of those NFL teams to never make it to the Super Bowl, the Saints are pretty much defined by their futility. The Aints. Ricky Williams. Their struggles after Katrina. Hell, it took the Saints two decades before they had their first winning season. But like most things about New Orleans, I can't help but love them a little.

4. Memphis Grizzlies - In their only three playoff appearances in franchise history, the Grizzlies are 0-12. That pretty much says it all, huh? I'm sure Vancouver is glad to be rid of them.

3. Detroit Lions - My father's favorite football player was Barry Sanders. He's somewhere in my top three. And it's a damn shame that he was stuck playing for the Lions, who cemented their status as the worst NFL franchise this season by completing the only 0-16 season in league history. Matt Millen didn't screw things up as much as he carried on the tradition.

2. Kansas City Royals - It's absolutely stunning to think the Royals won the World Series in 1985. But since I was 7 at the time, I'm not surprised that I don't remember much about it. Finishing 12 games under .500 last season was the Royals' best record in five years, which tells the story of their suckitude better than anything I could come up with. Not to mention, Kansas City has the same sort of ratings appeal as Milwaukee. Which is to say, none.

1. Los Angeles Clippers - No question, the reigning doormat of professional sports. At least once, SI agreed with me. Sad thing is, there's no one else to blame it on. They've mostly been victims of their own incompetence and spend-thrift ways.

Here's their first-round draft picks from 1989 to 1999: Danny Ferry, Bo Kimble, LeRon Ellis, Randy Woods, Elmore Spencer, Terry Dehere, LaMond Murray, Greg Minor, Antonio McDyess, Lorenzen Wright, Maurice Taylor, Michael Olowakandi and Lamar Odom. Since then, I guess their best draft choice is ... Chris Kaman?

Now the Clips are going to kill the career of another one of my favorite players, Baron Davis. This will likely be the only time they ever finish No. 1 in anything. Believe that.
Continue Reading »

Heckuva job

What, exactly, was Gray Davis recalled for again?

The controller says California is down to Plan D on its checklist of paying bills. Its cash reserves are piddling; the special funds it borrows from are tapped out, and no one in the private sector is going to lend it any cash at a reasonable interest rate.

That leaves what in state government circles are called "payment deferrals" and what in real life is called "stiffing your creditors."

In this case the creditors include income taxpayers expecting refunds, college students waiting on state aid, counties that operate public assistance programs, and companies that sell goods and services to state agencies.

Continue Reading »