Sports from the point view from the guy that holds the clipboard for the guy that holds the clipboard.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DWTS: Pre-season Break down

Yeah, this is a Dancing with the Stars series. I'll be quick with my explanation.

When I was younger, somewhere between the ages of 10-13 my parents had a running joke: I loved watching sports so much that if they sweat and kept score I'd watch. Seriously, rugby, Aussie rules football, almost anything ESPN would show back when they were desperate to show real sporting events and not just the talk-fest it is now. Honestly watch the show and tell me if those people are not getting a real physical work out. Then tell me they are not competing based upon a real number score. Then this is a sport and I'll treat it as such.

Now all sports, especially ones with female competitors, have a distracting appeal. I will not deny that it is higher with DWTS. We are going to keep the distracting elements of the show to a minimum, they cannot be ignored, dancing is sexy. Despite this we are going to take the competition aspect of the show seriously.

The cast:

Lance Bass - Openly gay former NSync member. The gay thing only gets mentioned because I thought an all homosexual season of DWTS would be awesome. It would awkward and funny and the person who won would be the person that really stepped up. But it was never going to happen unless we had some major closet ejections (athletes and ex-athletes).

Toni Braxton - Former VH1 project. She'd have had a reality show if they did those things 10-15 years ago. Supposedly did some Broadway but she has been MIA for a while.

Brooke Burke - Former Wild On host on E! She will fight for the "hottie curse" with Kim Kardashian. The hottest girl on the show usually bites it early on due to the sheer jealousy of the DWTS target audience. Sorry, but it is true.

Rocco Dispirito - Moving around a professional Kitchen is like dancing. I hate saying that, hate it. I already hate this guy due to my hatred of the Food Network. I know he's not on Food Network, but I have still never heard of them, and I almost always root against these people. Despite his graduating from BU, he's out in my book. He'll be that competitor that I hate but always moves on. There is one each season.

Maurice Green - One blog I read and love (AA) claimed, dismissively, that ex-athletes always seem to win. Dancing is about one thing first and foremost: footwork. The athletes that have won have had good footwork going in due to their sport. And those that have come close to winning fall in the same boat. Sprinting may or may not be enough in itself.

Kim Kardashian - As mentioned with Brooke Burke, one of these chicks is going down early. (Done giggling?) And it may not be the worse dancer. Why is she famous again?

Cloris Leachman - She will rock the pity vote hard. Unless she sucks horribly she will make it to the 2 dance portion of the show (past the half-way mark).

Cody Linley - This kid could be dangerous. He is a little Zac Efrom clone (the blonde mimbo from High School Musical) and if he can dance at all the old women will swoon over him in a highly inappropriate but unspoken of way. (What? I just spoke of it? Ooops.)

Susan Lucci - Again with the pity vote, plus the Soap Opera crowd is the target audience of this show. She is a juggernaut going in and can pull off a Marie Osmond type run very easily.

Misty May-Treanor - My early favorite. Again with the footwork, she has it. Moving on sand will translate very well into moving on the dance floor. A fierce competitor with a great personality, she should win. Plus, she is just the right amount of attractive, not too hot, but still beautiful. Guys, she will look better in a dress than she does in her volleyball uni, promise.

Ted McGinley - Awesome! The guys forced to watch this show will love him. He rules. Personality? Check. He may not last but we'll love every second he is there.

Jeffrey Ross - I hope he has the positivity needed for this show. It's corny, but the positive attitude is a big part of the appeal of this show. People are trying to win but they also become friends. If he can turn his jerkiness aside, similar to Adam Carola last season, then he'll do ok. Or well, we'll enjoy his 3 dances.

Warren Sapp - Dead duck. He doesn't have the footwork that Jason Taylor had. He's a "big boned" DL not a speed DL like Taylor. He'll be fun, the guy has a great personality. That and he'll try hard, this counts for a ton on this show.

That is half the story. Their partners matter greatly. And can be the difference between winning and losing.

The partnership is like most 2 person sports as far as chemistry being the most important ingredient. The chemistry has an exponential importance because one partner is doing the teaching, the choreography, and the coaching, while the other person is the one being more closely judged. It is a dynamic unique to DWTS and I like it. Unlike that other dancing show that I do not watch, you get to see the partnerships develop. And not only the partnerships, watching the contestants learn to dance and grow in their skill, knowledge, and ability is something that should be enjoyable to any sports fan.

Lance gets an newcomer, Lacey Schwimmer. No relation to David. She apparently has done very well on So you think you can Dance. I don't watch that dancing show so I'm forced to trust Wikipedia (*crosses fingers*).

Toni gets Alec Marzo, and while he is damn good, you have to be to be married to Edyta. This pair is my call for first dead. Toni has no audience left, her "Q" rating is in the gutter and this show is like the NFL, you can't get into game shape during the season. You can't build an audience during the show large enough to help you win. You need to bring some people in with you. But who knew who Helio was? Helio has 1,000x the charm that Toni does. He's oozes charisma, unless she has it hidden well, she's done.

Brooke gets Derek Hough. this guy is a winner. He could compete successfully at almost anything. He hides it well but he wants to win. That will not be enough. The hottie curse will hit BB.

Rocco gets Karina Smirnoff. This is the wildcard pair. Moving around a professional kitchen is like dancing and he will take to it well because Karina is a damn good teacher. They will surprise most. And I will hate him for no good reason. Agian irrational hatred, any sports fan can understand this.

Maurice gets Cheryl Burke. Cheryl is the Patriots of DWTS, she wins and people love her or hate her. But she is probably the best at this competition. She can take Maurice to the top, if he has the personality for it.

Kim gets Mark Ballas. Mark is also very good and comes from a family of dancers. He can dance and teach. That combined with KK's reality show will, sadly, bring them past the halfway mark.

Cloris gets Corky Ballas. Corky is Mark's dad. He can teach dance. This is the darling couple and no one will want to see them go, but they are going to leave early. They will be adorable though.

Cody gets Julianne Hough. Ah Julianne, Mormons aren't supposed to dress and dance like that, but that does not stop you? They could surprise people because as I mentioned above he's has potential. Julianne is always very good, almost as good as Cheryl.

Susan gets Tony Dovolani. Tony is smooth as hell and Susan has a large and tailored fan base. This is the power couple. Unless she sucks badly they go far. He's too good and she is too popular. This show is like a home game for her. She's new to the game but she still has home court advantage because the audience all know her and love her.

Misty gets Maksim Chmerkovskiy. He nearly won with Mel B. Add his skill with Misty's competitiveness and her athleticism being the proper type to help her learn to dance and you have the Winners. They will smoke everyone. Oh yeah and Misty has a personality that America has only partially seen and that they will fall in love with.

Ted gets Inna Brayer. One thing people love about DWTS are the contestants that have no chance but will honestly try. They will make you laugh and enjoy them. We always feel bad for the pro dancer that gets stuck with these people. They will have a short but very enjoyable runs It is bittersweet. Imagine playing on the Kansas City Royals, you suck, but then imagine enjoying it, and then having it end quickly.

Jeff gets Edyta Sliwinska. Edyta is awesome and has abs that rival any Olympic athlete. When wondering if this show is a sport, look at her abs and ask yourself if she could do more sit-ups than Michael Phelps, the answer is yes. As for how they will do see, Ted and Inna.

Warren Sapp gets Kym Johnson. He will make fun of her accent in the first episode. He will last to the second episode. Again, see Ted and Inna.

So that's the breakdown. Misty and Maksim win, and everyone is fighting for second place. My money on the other two finalist will be Susan and that chef guy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Steroids Hall of Fame: Marion Jones

Mrs Jones...Mrs. Jones....what a lying ho-bag you are!

This week to celebrate the end of the Olympics and to celebrate the start of the "Stripper Season" (Definition: That time of year right after the Olympics where athletes get their medals stripped. They do it now to avoid bad publicity for the Olympics. This year in China the term shall be painfully appropriate.) with one of the biggest names to have her career and legacy ruined by her very own actions. Marion Jones. Remember those Nike ads she starred in before most Americans knew who she was? Those were cool as hell. Cool chick, cool voice, cool ad, oh yeah great athlete too. Well "great" athlete anyway. Not only did she ruin her career she got the medals stripped from the necks of her teammates in the 4x400 and 4x100 relays in Sydney. Kudos!

This woman worked her way up the running ladder and into the hearts of many Americans. She was who she was. Not flashy, not arrogant, but hardworking and someone we could be proud of. She of course killed all that, but she does show us a fact of steroids that people do not want to realize. The fact that in order for steroids to do their job a person has to work harder. Steroids act in a manner that allows a person to recover from a workout faster. They allow a person to work on a muscle group on back-to-back days. So a steroid user gains their advantage by being able to workout twice as much as someone that is not using. Steroids feed into the competitiveness of a top-level athlete because they get to work harder, something they almost all want to do. That's part of the reason why someone like Marion lies about using. Steroids are not a shortcut to success. They are not victory pills. She worked her ass off for what she got, she worked harder than anyone else. Her "cheating" gave her the chance to work harder. So how is that cheating if she had to spend more time in the gym?

I'm trying to tell the story that most sports fans do not want to actively think about. Now we all know drug abuse turns liars into the best of people no matter what the drug. With steroids it becomes more complex. Of course the drug itself creates a level of arrogance and invincibility within it's user. So you add that to the obvious positives that come from it's use, most usually fame and fortune. Then add in the usual doubling of the typical junkie "fear of getting caught" and you get a much larger motivation to lie. This is the reality of why steroids (and again I emphasize my use of the word steroids means all Performance Enhancing Drugs) aren't going anywhere. Heroin did not make Bradly Nowell a rock-star, but steroids did make Marion Jones an Olympic Champion. The drug works in ways no other type of drug can. It truly gives back, it opens doors and gives opportunities. It takes them away just as much as any other drug, but it also gives. A drug that actually gives something is a battle that cannot be won. I'm not advocating not fighting it, but we aren't going to eliminate it. Reality folks, that what this is about, dealing with reality.

Ill quickly touch upon the debate about Marion's relay teammates and whether or not they should keep their medals. I am going to say that by stripping them as well we put some peer pressure on people to not use. That may bury it further underground, but no one will want to run a relay or compete on a team with a user if they know it's going to cost them. It sucks but it's a part of the war we can fight effectively. So I say they lose their medals and that is that. No, it isn't fair, but neither was what Marion did. Blame her if they have an issue.

Once again Marion steps up and points out the complexity of the issue. She wins our hearts and then breaks them. She holds out until the bitter end, casting doubt on all those who deny, Lance Armstrong, and making us wonder if any athlete is playing clean. Way to go Mrs. Jones, your legacy will out last the record books now. You have made us question everything and made us expect a level of cheating. When the Stripper Season ends we won't be shocked by any name we read, and most of that will fall on your shoulders. We may forgive you, but we cannot change the skepticism we now carry with us.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Steroids Hall Of Fame: Big Brown

In the wake of the current Olympic doping scandal, we'll throw in a quick update on my favorite performance enhanced animal. Big Brown, Winner of the 134th Kentucky Derby.

Let's start off by being fair. He was treated like a baseball player becuase the drug he took was not against the rules at the time he took it. I know PETA may say otherwise, but isn't possible that a fair definition of ethics is do unto others? We'll that is what happened here, except the "other" in question was a horse.

He gets in because he obviously needed the drug, stanozolol, in order to win the two Triple Crown legs that he won. We were told he did not get his May 15 injection, and did okay two days later in the Preakness but come Belmont time, reality set in.

We get back to the main theme, steroids aren't going anywhere. Especially if we are using them on racehorses. Heck it still isn't fully banned! Who's the animal again?

This time the user gets to play the victim card, and gets to use the "everyone else is doing it" excuse. But only because it's an animal that could not choose for itself. He also gets to keep his wins, his "harem", and all the sympathies he earned while racing. No choice = no shame. But, yet again we see cheaters prosper.

Best part about this issue is how little those that used and abused this horse (above and beyond what a non-steroid using race horse is treated) were punished. It's a sick sad world folks.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Steroids Hall Of Fame: Jose Canseco

Part two of our series takes us to the man that broke it all open for the world of Baseball. Jose Canseco. No other person involved with this issue symbolizes the complexity as well as Jose. He's a hero, he woke us all up to what had been going on for decades in baseball. But he is probably the professional athlete with the leat credibility at the time his first book was released.

What do we make of him?
A creation of the drugs he used?
Whistle Blower?

He's all of these.

Look if you are going to use drugs to get ahead and make millions of dollars, that is to some degree understandable. And considering the drug nature of our culture it not the worst choice one could make (Two words: Crystal Meth). People are using athletes all the time why shouldn't they take what they can get while the getting is good? But at least think before you act. If you have an identical twin brother and you are successful in the big leagues and he isn't, then questions are going to be asked.

If you are a member of a batting tandem that has a nickname, The Bash Brothers, then your "buddy" is going to get looked at the moment that doubt is cast upon you. Cheating is cheating just try not to take anyone else out while you are trying to get ahead. That's bad form no matter what you are doing. We'll save the rest of this discussion for another day, he is a beast of his own and I won't even mention his name yet. Chicks dig the long ball!

Now when your career ends in a whimper, without the help of drug allegations, and then you have the balls to write a tell all book, people are going to doubt you. Even if you have a well written and well documented book there will be the shadow of your persona cast over it. It is a wonder that the Mitchell report came as a result of his words. Wait, after second thought it really isn't. Baseball's reaction truly was symbolic of Canseco's career. Hype, small notable results, then laughter by those who are watching. The lack of action after the Mitchell report could be the home run off the head (See Photo).

Bottom Line: This guy was accidentally brilliant. First member of the 40-40 club. Partner in crime to a 3-4 combo with a nickname. (How many of these have had nicknames?!?! Manny and Papi also won two titles and had nothing. No Dynamic Dominican Duo! Nothing!) Rookie of the year in 1986. Winner of the MVP in 1988. Six time all-star. These are Hall of Fame credentials, the real Hall of Fame! And then he goes and breaks the biggest scandal is baseball since Pete Rose, and possibly since the Black Sox. Congress acted because of the written word of Jose Canseco. How much money would you have given me in 1994 if I told you that Congress would take action based upon Jose Canseco's written words?

This guy is a legend for so many different reasons and he'll go down in history as one of the most bizarre characters of the game. There's hope for everyone, because if steroids can help Jose Canseco, they can help anyone. No that really isn't a good thing.