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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Random Athlete of the Month - April

The April showers are almost gone.
The May flowers are almost here.
Which means the pilgrims are on their way.
But before all of that happens... there is one order of business that we must take care of.

Korked Bats' Random Athlete of the Month for April.

Let's get to it.

This month's random athlete of the month is:

Merton Hanks

Some of you may not remember Merton. He doesn't have that many distinguishable characteristics. None whatsoever. However, Merton played for a long time in the NFL.

Merton was never the fastest cornerback in the league, but he made his presence felt with 33 interceptions (returning 3 of them for touchdowns). Not to mention he lasted in the league for nearly a decade. He was drafted out of Iowa in 1991 by the San Fran 49ers and stayed with them until the end of the 1998 season. He spent his final season in 1999 with the Seattle Seahawks.

He currently has a photo of him playin at Iowa on eBay, but be ready to empty your pockets. This bad boy is going for 5 dollars and 99 cents. Not to mention the $5.50 shipping and handling charge.

Merton (I keep calling him by his first name, because how many football players do you know who are named Merton? Heck, how many PEOPLE do you know named Merton?) was a vital part in the 49ers Super Bowl XXIX champion team.


Any of that spark your memory?

No?

Ok, I can't put this off any longer. Merton is probably most remembered for his ridiculously long neck. Let's stop kidding ourselves, the dude looks like E.T. in sholder pads.

However, if you think his is long... You oughta see his wife's neck.

However, having a really long neck is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it has benefitted Merton more than you would probably think!

After many people thought he was washed up and that his career was finished, Merton continued to get numerous offers to play in The Bud Bowl every year.

He continued to turn those offers down ever year as he wanted to take his life in a new direction. Shortly after retiring, Merton landed a job as the main spokesman for Toys R Us.

It was long before Hollywood realized the talent he had. Not his football talent, but his neck talent. You may or may not remember Merton's small cameo in the hit movie, Jurassic Park.

Ok, so maybe we are poking a little too much fun at Merton and his really long (understatement) neck. But his 11 1/4 inch neck (no exaggeration, his teammates measured it one day) did serve a really good purpose.

Merton had one of the greatest touchdown celebrations of all time. It was so great people gave it many different names, like "The Funky Chicken", "The Duck", "The Elmo" dance, "The Waddle", "The Rag Doll", and "The Rubberneck". He looked like an ecstatic Jibber Jabber. I just imagined him making the same noise too.

I will now leave you with a small clip of Merton and his incredible spine snapping touchdown dance. Enjoy:



Congratulations Merton Hanks for being honored as Korked Bats' April 2009 Random Athlete of the Month! If nothing else, you definitely proved a lot of people long when they said: "No one with a neck that long will ever amount to anything!" Well Merton, one Super Bowl ring and a Korked Bats RAM honor later, who's laughing now?



Do you have a random athlete idea that you think should be next month's Random Athlete of the Month? Leave a comment below and see if your random athlete will be next month's Korked Bats' Random Athlete of the Month!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sorry For The Rain Delay

First off, allow me to apologize for all of the writers at Korked Bats for our lack of production lately. It's been a busy time for both school and the future of Korked Bats.

We are under what we are going to call a "Korked Bats Rain Delay".

However, that should not be an excuse to go "oh-fer" this weekend with 5 writers at the helm.

We apologize.

There is good news, however. Sometimes rain CAN be a good thing.

The good news is that we are working to bring you all a new site eventually at KorkedBats.com.

We are working on finding the best format for a new page to continue to make Korked Bats the best and funniest sports blog that no one reads.

Furthermore, if you are or know of any good web designers or graphic designers that would be willing to work pro bono or just help these 5 college guys out, please don't hesitate to let us know.

Get in contact with us and know that you will be helping out the new Korked Bats.

So we ask that you continue to be patient with us as we venture to new heights. We will soon be bringing you all some new korked bats as soon as possible, so continue to check back.


• • •

Until then, allow me to leave you with a funny picture taken from ESPN.com.

I must give credit to this find to Deadspin.com as I found this picture on their site. I found it quite humorous and wanted to share it with our Korked Bats audience.

Jesse Scroggins is one of the top quarterback prospects for 2010. ESPN had listed his top school choices. But did no one at the "Worldwide Leader In Sports" find this error on their site? From the looks of it, scholorship offers from these schools was not the only thing that Scroggins was looking for.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How Amazing Will Happen This Year, Pt. 4

I know what you're thinking. I don't want to read another NBA postseason award blog. You know what you are? Selfish. That's right. Your life ain't so bad, or not when you look at it compared the Celtics' at least.


Yeah. You feel pretty guilty for complaining now don't you?

I'll forgive you, but you have to read on.

You know the drill. This is the final post of Korked Bats' Official NBA Postseason Awards postings.

Here's some links to posts 1, 2, and 3. If you want the Reader's Digest version, read them faster than usual.

Let's do some MVP.

Most Valuable Player

We all know who number 1 is. 2 weeks ago, I said that my MVP would be whoever's team (obviously between LeBron and Kobe) finished with the league's best record. But for posterity's sake, here's my top 5:

5. Brandon Roy- Almost every publication has a top 5 that goes (in no particular order) Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. Which one of those names don't belong?

Dwight Howard.

I can't, in good conscience, place someone in the top 5 on my (incredibly valid, important and qualitative) ballot if they aren't A) their team's crunch time guy and B) capable of getting a good shot or creating a good shot for a teammate at any given time. Howard does neither.

I touted Brandon Roy in my coach of the year pick, so I'm not going to write a ton. He's the best player and leader of the second best team in the West (I know they're tied in the standings with the Nuggets and Spurs, but I don't trust Denver in any playoff scenario as long as Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Chris Anderson are on the same team; and San Antonio is cooked. I'm so bummed to see it, but no Manu and Timmy being on a severe downward arc are too devastating.). He's money in the clutch. He sticks up for his guys (remember when he got all sorts of heated and got in the face of some Lakers players when Trevor Ariza took down Rudy Fernandez last month?) and puts up the numbers (22.6 points., 5.1 assists, 4.7 rebounds; 48/38/82 shooting percentages) to warrant some nice consideration (here's another sentence in parenthesis to give us an even number for this paragraph).

4. Chris Paul- I've always naturally gravitated toward Chris Paul because I totally have the whole "I've followed this guy since he was in high school" thing going on. But I don't have to use that bias for anything this year.

What he was able to do in carrying an oft-injured team to 49 wins in the Western conference was impressive enough without factoring in the idea that the Hornets' future in New Orleans was uncertain (for reasons dealing with city finances and the Hornets wanting to avoid the luxury tax).

Statistically he helped the Tiajuana Horse Show (my fantasy hoops team) to a league championship by leading the NBA in assists and steals, finishing 7th in scoring, and shooting a sublime (for a guard, at least) 50% from the floor. Big ups CP3!

Non-statistically, he carried a team and city on the ropes to a playoff berth- despite the fact that Tyson Chandler and Peja Stoy (backspace backspace backspace backspace) Stojock (backspace backspace backspace backspace backspace backspace backspace) That Serbian Guy That Used To Play For The Kings combined to miss 58 games and James Posey spent a chunk of the season nursing an elbow injury.

He would be higher on this ballot, but David West (also on my fantasy team) was marvelous in support and gave Paul a lot of freedom because of his pick-and-pop ability.

3. Dwyane Wade- at season's end, I had Kobe Bryant balloted third and Wade second. But as I was going through the criteria for measuring an MVP, I realized that Wade was a clear-cut three all season, and only moved ahead of Kobe when the Lakers began playing lighter in the last few weeks (a lot of people- myself included- subscribe to the idea that the Lakers only cared about having home court advantage over the Celtics and weren't overly concerned with having it over the Cavs. It makes sense.).

During his ungodly stretch in late February and early March*, I had Wade slated ahead of Kobe and LeBron. See, I'm so sick of the idea that the MVP needs to be the best player on the best team in the NBA. It's that ridiculous groupthink that gave Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki MVP trophies in 05-06 and 06-07 that should've gone to Kobe Bryant.
*During an 11-game span, he averaged 38 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 1.3 blocks. Unreal.

But as great as Wade was for the entire season, 43 wins in the Eastern conference isn't great. I could make an argument that Wade belongs anywhere from 1-5 on my ballot and make each position convincing, so I decided that smack dab (yikes, did I really just use that expression?) in the middle was the best ground.

He had an incredible season- don't get me wrong- and he would've won this trophy if it was almost any other year. He just had the misfortune of having his career year the same year Kobe took his team atop the West and LeBron went all enjoy-facing-this-the-next-10-years on us.

2. Kobe Bryant- See! I'm not a blatant homer!

You know I have a semi-unhealthy obsession with this fella (I'm kidding. You can laugh. Just laugh OK! The doctor said it would make it better if I could joke about it!), so I'm not going to use 4,000 words trying to explain him to you. I only have two points of order:
  1. Don't be fooled by the numbers. He won the MVP last year with 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists. This year he's down to 26.8/5.2/4.9. While those numbers might look fairly unimpressive to Wade's 30/5/7.5 and LeBron's 28.4/7.6/7.2, take a look at criteria three and four from my first post. Kobe plays in a way tougher conference and his offensive system is vastly different from the give-me-the-ball-and-get-open systems that each LeBron and Wade run. Plus, his numbers per 48 minutes (35.6/6.9/6.5 this year versus 34.9/7.7/6.6 last year) are right on track with where they've always been. He's just been able to sit out a lot of fourth quarters this year.
  2. Sometimes it feels so great to be right, and sometimes you just would rather just be wrong. Remember in my stupidly long Kobe piece when I talked about how the media has come to truly despise him and are no longer able to cover him objectively? Check this out. Note the fact that 4 ESPN WRITERS BALLOTED HIM FIFTH. FIFTH! Look, I'm obviously not saying that he is the MVP this year, but anyone that honestly thinks they can convince me that he belongs out of the top 3, feel free to email me at jlaunius@gotofreakinghell.net. It's a joke.
1. Narrowly edging out Eddy Curry, LeBron James- I made most of this argument in my 'Most Improved' post, but allow me to summarize:
  • He now controls games defensively as unbelievably as he does offensively.
  • He became a much better jump shooter.
  • His team has the best record in the NBA and went a surreal 39-2 at home.
  • He is either a Monstar, Teen Wolf, or a clone using the DNA of Magic, Jordan, Oscar Robertson and Pippen.
  • He is freaking scary.
  • He is the MVP.
Korked Bats' 2009 MVP Picks

My pick: LeBron
Davis' pick: LeBron
Kyle's pick: Kobe
Austin's pick: LeBron
Zach's pick: LeBron

The Snake Still Slithers

The only man worthy enough to rival the looks a Rob Johnson.

Imagine Jake Plummer sitting in the bottom of a basket in the middle of India. Now imagine Mike Mitchell sweetly playing a melodic tune on his flute. Jake, being the sneaky man that got away from the Bucs a few back appears just enough for us at Korked Bats to say "double-u, tee, eff?"

Join in asking WTF Snake?!

Who is Mike Mitchell? Well he's Snake's new boss. Yep, Jake "The Snake" Plummer has a new boss. He (Mitchell) happens to be the Head Coach of Sandpoint High School in Idaho. Snake is coaching High School football as an assistant. Snake and I have the same job.

As an opportunity to turn this site into an illegal gambling ring I will be keeping track of my team's record versus Snake's team's record throughout the year.

God Bless Go Bruins

Place your bets, Place your bets, Place your bets

Sweet website Sandpoint High School! (insert pompous snicker)


Friday Fun!

Albert Pujols.

If only this guys spoke better English, he would be the greatest American in... well, America!

Whether you love the Cardinals or hate them, only an idiot would be able to say that Albert is anything less than a class act who (until the 104 names drop) has played the game the right way. He is one of the most humble players in the league and never fails to dominate (even with a lingering elbow injury). Not to mention, the guy is looking to entertain the home fans of St. Louis when he partakes in this years Home Run Derby! It's going to b...

Wait, what? I'm sorry... what did you say?

He's not? Are you friggin' kidding me?! What a sell out! That 'roid-ridden jerk! I can't believe him! I freakin' hate him so much!

I'm sorry. That was a little out of line. But what the heck? It was just reported yesterday that Big Al was going to be swinging for the fences on July 13th...

Allow me to bring in my man, Lee Corso for this one:

"Not so fast, my friend!"

Here's what Pujols said about the claims:
"I know they're using my picture and everything to promote the All-Star Game, but I have never heard that."

"When is the All-Star Game, six months from now? If my elbow's not healthy, I'm not doing it."
Well great... I guess it won't be so bad watching Alex RĂ­os throw up 2 home runs a round. Let's just hope somehow Josh Hamilton is back again and will shoot up (poor choice of words?) 28 in the first round.

Oh well, if you too are frustrated with Pujols, maybe this video will help lift your spirits. If you have unconditional love for Albie, then this video will help keep you distracted at work.


How Amazing Will Happen This Year, Pt. 3

There are some things you just don't brag about. You don't ever go up to a buddy and say, "Dude, I'm so much more modest than you." You don't brag about being "such a nice guy." Why? Because bragging about these things sort of violates the essence of the attribute.

Modest people don't brag. Nice guys aren't boastful. These are things that you may very well be aware of, but they lose validity if you brag about them.

You know what else fits into that sect? Team players don't brag about being team players. I feel like that is such a paradoxical idea.

So, as I was watching the NBA on ABC on Sunday, I was put off by something that LeBron said in an interview with Michael Wilbon. "I'm so much of a team guy that it's hard for me to look at the MVP trophy."


Does anyone else find that statement a little contradictory? You can't brag about being a team player! Especially when everyone already uses it as your calling card! That's like Harry Potter bragging about being loving and modest! Would you love Harry the same if he did that?

Bragging about stuff like that is kind of taboo. I don't like it.

Thanks for letting me vent (if you're still reading, you'll say "You're welcome." If not, your mom doesn't love you. Can't say I didn't warn you!)

Anyway, I'm in the middle of a mega-bunch of NBA postseason award posts. We broke them up to con you into actually reading them.

Post 1 laid down the(my) law on how to judge these awards and revealed Korked Bats' picks for Defensive POY.

Post 2 had some awesome Face-in-a-Hole and our picks for Most Improved and Sixth Man.

Post three has this sentence.

Let's do it!


Coach of the Year

Eric Spoelstra (Heat) and Mike Brown (Cavaliers) both get a lot of consideration for this pick. But if I were to award either one of these coaches for winning as many games as they did this year, I'd have to come give you an award every time you turn your computer on by pressing the start button.

Oh and that award would be called the "Award for Excellence in Common Sense." That's because that's all it took for those two guys to win as many games as they did this year.

How impressive is it that Eric Spoelstra and Mike Brown ran their offense through Dwyane Wade and LeBron James (respectively), surrounded them with shooters and athletes, and didn't let them come out of the game until either they were ready to collapse or the game was decided?

So while some credit is owed to Mike Brown for his defensive scheming and Eric Spoelstra for his development of rookies Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley, they didn't really have as profound an effect on their team as others did.

I'm going with Portland's Nate McMillan, and I'm doing so for 3 reasons:
  1. He didn't give Greg Oden more minutes than he earned. After the disappointment of losing the former number one overall pick for the entire year last year, there was a lot of pressure to make Oden the starter and give him 35 minutes a night. Oden started for half of the season, but McMillan was smart with him down the stretch in realizing that Joel Pryzbilla gave better production and fewer fouls that Oden, and stuck to his guns.
  2. He's fantastic at properly utilizing his players. Brandon Roy isn't- and won't be- a 28 ppg guy. It's not his style. He can, however, score like one during crunch time. McMillan is excellent in using Roy as a distributor throughout the course of the game, and then cutting him lose in the last 5 minutes of the fourth quarter.
  3. He makes great use of his bench. If you feel like it, go check out Portland's roster. It's full of young, enticing players. I love the way McMillan manages all of his talent. He's right to bring Rudy Fernandez and Travis Outlaw off of the bench because of their energy. He's right to start Steve Blake because of his consistency. He's right to bring Oden off of the bench because the competition on NBA second team's isn't quite as adept as drawing fouls as most first units. He's right to start Nicolas Batum because he's so smart with the ball, but right to give Outlaw more minutes. You get the picture.
Korked Bats' 2009 Coach of the Year Picks

My pick: Nate McMillan
Davis' pick: Mike Brown
Kyle's pick: Mike Anderson
Austin's pick: Stan Van Gundy/Mike Brown toss-up
Zach's pick: Stan Van Gundy


Rookie of the Year

Well there's the numbers: Derrick Rose leads all rookies in assists per game, is second in minutes and scoring, and in the top 10 in countless other categories. Check.

There's the team success: Chicago went from 33 wins last year to 41 and a playoff berth this year. Check.

And there's the wow factor: tell me anything more fun than watching Derrick Rose grab a long rebound, explode up court through traffic, and throw down with two hands. Chiggity check.

This guy has serious chops, and should be able to win a few titles...as long as he doesn't play the Heat.

I do want to mention, however, how impressive this rookie class is. 18 play over 20 minutes a night. 13 (!) rookies average double digit points. Five grab at least 7 rebounds a night. Seven block at least one shot a game. 60 of them were drafted last June (just making sure you're still paying attention). You get where I'm going with this.

This class has a chance to be better than the 2005 class- and that saying something.

Korked Bats' 2009 Rookie of the Year Picks

My pick: Derrick Rose
Davis' pick: Rose
Kyle's pick: Thomas Ian Nicholas featuring Gary Busey
Austin's pick: Rose
Zach's pick: Gosta be Rose



'Cause You Had a Bad Day

Kansas City Royals third basemen Alex Gordon went on the DL yesterday and I was pretty upset.

Then I looked at the day that the Celtics had...

We have all heard that Kevin Garnett was hurt and that he should be back in time for the playoffs. Well, it turns out, that is not the case at all and in fact he may not be in the post season for any games. Give it up for the Celtics for spinning this story for as long as they did by keeping the fans, media, and even his fellow teammates in the dark. They were able to maintain hope for a while, but now they have to feel totally screwed.

I am sure that the entire city of Boston is just devastated (This is the saddest I have ever seen Bill Simmons). They don't have a chance in the world to take the Cav's to 6 games without KG.

You even hear whispers that this could be the beginning of the end for him. He is only 32, but lets face it, when the knees go, they are gone.

But the story doesn't stop there...

It's hard to believe, but yesterday, Danny Ainge, the mastermind of the KG and Ray Allen acquistitions, had a heart attack at the age of 50. I have no idea how serious this is, and I am not trying to make light of the situation, but this is about the worst case scenario that Boston could be going through.

You can't help but wonder what this KG injury would do to the future of the Celtics. If he ends up having a very serious knee surgery, then Boston is in a really bad spot. They have a lot of money locked up in the big 3, and are going to need to somehow lock up "Earthworm Jim" and "Big Baby".

Prove me wrong Celtics, and mount one of the greatest story lines in the history of the NBA playoffs.

I mean c'mon, the Celtics of all teams should know:

"ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Amazing Will Happen This Year, Pt. 2

"Hip Hop is mine now mine what you gonna' do?
I can jump on any (expletive)'s song and make a Part 2."
-Lil Wayne, Intro to Da Drought III (disc 1)

Go ahead and substitute "Postseason basketball awards" for "Hip hop," "any of my own" for "(expletive)," and "Korked Bats posts" for "songs," and you have the basic principle for this post.

That's right!

"Postseason basketball awards are mine now, mine what you gonna do?
I can jump on any of my own posts and make a Part 2!"
-Jared Launius, Korked Bats NBA Season Awards Post, Vol. 2

In case you missed it, I'm in the middle of making my picks for NBA postseason awards. In Part 1, I set my criteria for what I base awards on and picked my defensive player of the year (sort of).

Parts 3 & 4 will be out tomorrow. Stay tuned!

As you're well aware, I don't like being too wordy with my introductions, so let's delve in my friend(s).

Most Improved

Everyone is going back and forth between the same 3 guys right now. One (Kevin Durant) went from an impressive rookie to one of the 5 most explosive scorers in the game (I rank them in this order: Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant). Another (Danny Granger) went from "That Small Forward That You Take In The Third Round Of Your Fantasy Draft Because He Makes A Lot Of 3's" to a clutch scorer that deservingly made the Eastern Conference All-Star team. The third (Devin Harris) usurped an 8-time All-Star in the Nets' hierarchy and became- arguably- one of the top 5 point guards in the NBA.

While tribute is due to these three guys (and the award will go to one of the three), I'm going to have to redirect you to criteria number 2. As impressive as these guys statistics are (and yes I know that each Granger and Harris hit some game-winners), all three of these guys' teams are on the outside looking in at playoff time.

So, while we laud Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for giving up Devin Harris for an aging, I'm-refusing-to-call-it-quits Jason Kidd last year, Cuban is the one laughing at us now as the Mavericks are in the playoffs in the tough West with Jason Kidd as their point guard, and the Nets are Lottery bound with Devin Harris. (Quick note: this is not me defending this trade for the future. Jason Kidd's run is all but over (you could argue it should already be). But he still brings a calm and leadership to the team that Harris doesn't have yet. So while Devin Harris will be good the next 5-7 years, at least the Mavs got out of Kidd what they were hoping: two straight playoff appearances despite the fact that they are on the decline. Don't worry though, we'll still get to laugh at Mark Cuban for the next 5-7 years.)

They've all been put in charge of their own respective teams and given offensive total freedom. Did they deliver? Statistically, yes. But what did their "great improvements" really accomplish?

Think of it like this. Three young wipper-snappers are named CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies. Individually, they ride this new position to great success. They date Victoria's Secret supermodels. They get to walk around their new mansions wearing only a velvet robe. They're in the news everyday. They even make some nice changes within their businesses. But, their companies still lose money. So sure, they've parlayed their positions into great individual success- and maybe even made some small gains within their business- but ultimately their company is still hurting.

So while LeBron James may have actually regressed some in statistical categories from a year ago, the only one I concern myself with is this one: LeBron has averaged over 40 minutes a game every year of his career except his first- this year he was down to 37.7. That's because he's improved so much that he's been able to sit out a lot of fourth quarters.

He's finally figured out how to use his inhumane size, strength and athleticism to dominate both sides of the ball- instead of just the offensive one. He's become a far better jump shooter and improved greatly his ability to set up penetration with his improving jump shot. He's starting to develop a post game. Oh, and then there's the fact that he's still improving his incredible court vision, ability to get into the paint whenever he wants, and his ability to be a lovable and incredibly coachable superstar/leader.

So what did all of this do for him? Not much, unless you're into having the best record in the league and going 39-2 at your home court. Did I say "not much?" OOOOOOPS!!!

Here's what I can't figure out though. Devin Harris, Kevin Durant and Danny Granger all went from nice young players to All-Star caliber. What has has LeBron James become? One of the top two players in the league to Jordan? One of the top two guys in the league to Teen Wolf? One of the top two ballers in the league to a Monstar? One of the best two players in the league to the blastocyst of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and Scottie Pippen? God he's freaking scary.

Korked Bats' 2009 Most Improved Player Picks

My pick: LeBron
Davis' pick: Durant
Kyle's pick: United States Economy
Austin's pick: Granger
Zach's pick: Harris

Sixth Man

I don't really have a ton to say here. Jason Terry destroyed second units all year to the tune of 19.5 ppg. He was the Mavericks second unit. And- best of all- he took to the idea of coming off of the bench graciously (after starting for the Mavs on four consecutive 50-win teams) and logged arguably his best season as a pro.

There's a lot to love about this pick, but I don't have to convince anyone- he's going to win the award.

Korked Bats' 2009 Sixth Man of the Year Picks

My pick: Terry
Davis' pick: Daniel Gibson
Kyle's pick: Marlon Wayans (although I think he was going for Kadeem Hardison)
Austin's pick: Nate Robinson
Zach's pick: Terry


Madden's Retirement Forces Fans to Look at Scoreboard for Same Information

The sporting world lost one of its own.

NFL Hall of Fame coach and N64 video game cover-boy John Madden has called it quits from football once and for all, announcing his retirement from football. Madden has spent the last three years working NBC's "Sunday Night Football," and is considered a sports icon by probably someone.

Madden will be remembered in the football community for many reasons. Madden's NFL football games are the top selling sports games of all time, and are frequently played
the injured players who don the game's cover. "I couldn't play in real life, but I racked up 2,000 yards passing and 1,500 yards rushing in the game in 2004," a teary-eyed Michael Vick reported over a phone interview through a piece of plexiglass, "I know I'll miss that sort of ability."

The retirement of Madden has stunned fans across the nation, leaving them to interpret sports on their own. One fan cited potential difficulties that could arise at the end of games. "I'm not sure I'll know who has won," Travis Camp, a 25 year old Browns fan said, "I mean, sure one team will have more points, but does that mean they will have won? I'm sure they'll have a better chance, but without Madden I can't be to sure. I guess I'll have to check the scoreboard."

Madden will be missed for such great catch phrases as "Have you ever kicked a bucket of bolts?" and "Here's a guy, when he runs, he moves faster," and the famous, "Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?"

Madden's retirement has hit others outside of the sporting community. The combination of John Madden's retirement and George Bush's leaving office has left political waste-of-time Frank Caliendo out of work. His mediocre impressions will have to continue on without the use of his two main targets.

Many sources within the sports community are attributing the sudden retirement to Madden's realization that he no longer has anything to talk about now that quarterback Brett Favre has retired.

What Are Jew Going To Do, NFL?

(To the tune of Adam Sandler's Hanukah song)
"Put on your yamika, it's time for the Jets game!"

Unfortunately for some Jets fans, that may not be the case for two games this year.

The NFL made a scheduling boo boo for the upcoming season.

They scheduled the New York Jets to play at home over the two weekends of the season when both they and the New York Giants request to play on the road.

These two weekends are the weekends of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

And just to get you caught up on your Jewish holiday knowledge, Hashanah is not a Jewish fraternity in which Jewish boys rosh. And Kippur is not a Jewish food that is considered to be yommy, in fact it's not a food at all. These two holidays are said to be the holiest days on the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur is the Jewish day of atonement.

Coincidentally, the Jets play two of the toughest AFC teams on these weekends, the New England Patriots and the Tennessee Titans.

New York has the largest Jewish population in the country which means many Jets fans would not be able to attend any home games scheduled for those weekends.

Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown on September 18th and lasts until sundown on September 20th. The Jets play the Patriots on the 20th at 1 pm ET.

Yom Kippur starts at sundown on the 27th of September a couple hours after the Jets kickoff their game with the Titans.

Howard Katz, who oversees the creation of the NFL schedule, said, "My Bad!"
"There was miscommunication between the Jets and the NFL office, for which I take full responsibility. All we can continue to do is look and see if there is a solution to this."
Not to worry, Jewish Jets fans. Katz (big) nose what he's doing and will get this all figured out to where it will work out for everyone. This is not a mistake that he could just passover.

If not, maybe the Jets will sell their tickets for cheap.

Or worst case scenario, you could always just watch the game from a sports bar (mitzvah).

The bad news for the Jets however, is that they now have to reschedule their halftime performance for those games since Matisyahu was set to perform.

So please, NFL scheduler matchmaker, make the Jets a match. Find them a find, catch them a catch!

Mazel tov!

How Amazing Will Happen This Year, Pt. 1

(A soft piano tune begins playing in crescendo as- in black and white- I walk up to my computer chair in slow motion. I grab some Johnson and Johnson's Baby Powder, shake it into my hands, and throw it into the air a la Kevin Garnett (who freaking did it first, OK Nike and LeBron?!) I sit down, open up my laptop, launch my internet browser, type in an HTML, do some clicking, and type in the title: "How Amazing Will Happen This Year." The screen fades to black as the following text comes up: "Room 232-A, Hatch Hall...Where Amazing Happens")

You'll have to forgive me.

I fully understand that this is a sports blog that makes you laugh. I'm going to try to make you laugh, but I have all of these NBA thoughts bouncing around my dome and I have to get them out. Think of me like Harvey Milk. No, no not like that. Hey, get your head out of the gutter. (Tapping my foot and staring at you) Are you done? Can I finish now? Thanks. Anyway, think of me like Harvey Milk in that I have so much to express, and I just need a way to get it out.

So, understand that I will make you laugh, but (*SPOILER ALERT*) that's not the main objective of this (these) post(s).

Glad we got that out of the way.

I've spent several diligent minutes and even stayed up until 11:30 PM a few nights this week studying my NBA to make sure that this (these) post(s) is/are the best it can possibly be.

To ensure that you the reader and I the writer are able to maintain our proper attention spans, I'll be splitting the end-of-the-season-let's-reflect-and-preview NBA post into several parts. The first (the one you are currently reading) will be the first of the end of the season awards.

Throughout today and tomorrow, I'll best posting the rest of my picks for these awards. This way, you guys will actually read them all.

(Having that been said, please please please feel free to leave comments on each post as to why you agree with me, why you disagree with me, or what you think I may've left out)

Saturday, I'll either be posting a written playoff preview, or doing something Korked Bats has never done before. Korked Bats: Where Copying Tech Trends Happens!

Look, I know you want it all now. I know there's a chance you won't leave your computer seat after you finish reading this because you're so curious to see how I think the playoffs will shake out. That's natural. But I need you to be patient. It's a virtue, or something like that. My goal is to never post anything longer than 4,000 words for this blog again. I like it when people actually read what I write. So we'll split it up and you'll either learn patience or rot your eyes out. Your choice.

In all seriousness, I've been grappling over a lot of these awards for the last month or so. No, I've never considered Dwight Howard the runaway Defensive Player of the Year. I didn't decide on an MVP until the last four games of the season. I've gone back-and-forth on Most Improved more times than Rose went back-and-forth from wanting to get on a lifeboat and wanting to be with Jack.

At any rate, I've settled on my picks. For most of these awards, I'm judging on the following criteria:
  • Their overall body of work for the season. Alas, the pitfalls of being Dirk Nowitzki! He played great down the stretch, but started too sluggishly to crack the top 5 for MVP.
  • Team success. This kind of goes without saying for Coach of the Year, but as far as everything else goes: anyone can put up good numbers on a bad team. Ask Kevin Martin.
  • What conference they play in. The West might not be quite as dominant as it was last year when Golden State won 48 games and missed the playoffs, but it's still decidedly better than the East. Take a peek at the standings. Phoenix will be missing the playoffs this year in the West, but would have the 5 seed were they in the East. Before you can start with the whole yeah-but-five-teams-in-the-West-finished-under-30-wins-while-every-team-in-the-East-except-one-had-at-least-30-wins argument, just don't. Can you honestly tell me that there's a difference between the Knicks at 32 wins and the OKC Blunder- er Thunder- at 23 wins? No, you can't. It's just that all of the teams in the East after the top three are so mediocre that they've all beat up on each other on their way to at least 30 wins. Meanwhile, the dregs of the West went up against a 45-win team in 60 percent of their conference games. Thanks and come again.
  • The team's system matters. Sorry Nate Robinson, but those 17 .2 points per game don't impress me that much when they come in Mike D'Antoni's offense. This can also go the other way. For example: LeBron James averaged 28.4 points and 7.4 assists per game this year. That's incredibly impressive, seriously it is- but watch Cleveland play. When LeBron is in the game, here are the four plays Cleveland runs: LeBron isolation on the wing, LeBron pick and roll with Zydrunas Ilgauskas (who rolls and spots up at about 15-18 feet), LeBron pick and roll with Anderson Varejao (who rolls to the basket), and LeBron three-quarters post with people cutting off of him. On all of those plays, Mike Brown tells LeBron to get into the paint. If the defense collapses on him to keep him from the rim, find one of the guys spotted up for a jumper or cutting to the basket. If they don't, score it yourself. Meanwhile, in the triangle offense that Lakers coach Phil Jackson runs, the distribution is distributed. Confusing, I know, but come along with me. Go look at the Lakers' stats. Five guys average over 2.5 assists a game on that team. Still not conviced? Go back and look at Phil Jackson's triangle offense with the Bulls. Michael Jeffrey Jordan averaged under 6 assists a game in six of his 8 years under Jackson- and he averaged 8 assists a game the year before Phil took over. I guess this was all a very backwards way of telling you that LeBron James isn't really 2-and-a-half assists a game better than Kobe Bryant.* Ditto for Dwyane Wade, who runs basically the same offense in Miami as LeBron does in Cleveland.
*Yes I am typically the master of loopholes, but this one is just an example that illustrates a greater point.

Glad we got all of that sorted out. Now let's get to it:

Defensive Player of the Year

I know that it seems a little early to roll out, arguably, the second biggest award, but this post has already gone on for way to long, you know, and I don't want to stretch it out anymore than I need to. I mean, doesn't it just annoy you so much when you're reading somebody and their stories just go on and on and on and on and on and on way too long? Gosh it's so frustrating that they don't just abide by the old "less is more" principle set forth in Angels in the Outfield by Ranch Wilder. You know? It's like, "Hey, take a hint based on the fact that we don't leave any comments on your longer posts. WE'RE NOT READING THEM." Especially when it seems like some guys just waste so much space with needless esoteric info and long, drawn out analogies and explanations. You know? It's like, "Just get to the freaking point of this post." It's the worst when amateur guys do it. Because, like, probably the only people that actually read them are their friends doing it for pity anyway. They're just like, "Dude, I'm going to make your girlfriend cheat on you with me if you don't stop over-explaining things." You know? And they're not even getting paid to write 2,000 word posts. Man some writers are just so dumb.

Anyway, I really only have a lot to say about three awards: Most Improved (as you'll see later today), Defensive Player of the Year (as you're about to see), and MVP (as you'll see tomorrow if I haven't been kicked off of Korked Bats by then for writing to much). So to give this post a nice climactic ending, I'll bust out one of those three right freaking now.

Wait...Now.

Now?

Ok. Now.

Dwight Howard will win this award. Unanimously. And while it is an impressive feat to lead the league in both shot blocking and rebounding, defensive stats are misleading.

Far too often, guys win the award based on A) name recognition and B) steals, blocks and rebounds. Howard fits both criteria.

But honestly, he doesn't do it for me. His 1-on-1 post defense isn't as good as others (Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Anderson Varejao to name a few), a nice chunk of his blocks come against guards, and he's been outplayed on the block this month by Yao Ming (acceptable), David Lee (semi-acceptable), Brook Lopez (Umm...), and Marc Gasol (WTF?!?).

But uugggggggggghhhhh. There isn't a whole lot of selection. LeBron still doesn't move his feet well enough. Dwyane Wade gambles way too much on steals and doesn't consistently guard the other team's top guy. Ditto for Chris Paul. Quintuple ditto for Jason Kidd (who only gambles for steals because if they catch the pass he knows he can't keep anyone in front of him). Ron Artest and Shane Battier took turns on opposing team's best guys. Kevin Garnett missed too much time. Tim Duncan took a step back this year.

So I'm going to cop out.

My defensive POY is the Boston Celtics. Their defensive leader (KG) missed 25 games. Their best defender last year (James Posey) is now a Hornet. Their best bench defender this year (Tony Allen) has missed 36 games. But having all of that been said, they are still 3rd in the league in points allowed per game, and second in defensive FG%.

That can be attributed to a great defensive scheme by coach Doc Rivers, two good defenders in Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, and a bunch of gritty, tough vets that rotate well on shooters and clamp down when they need to.

There's not one guy that you could point at and say "Hey, that's him! That's the guy you can attribute all of this to!", but they still have one of the best defensive teams in the league without KG and that's crazy impressive.

So my guy won't qualify for this award, but don't waste your time explaining that to me. I don't have a vote. I just like talking about these things.

Korked Bats' 2009 Defensive POY Picks

My pick: Celtics D
Davis' pick: Chris Paul
Kyle's pick: Torii Hunter
Austin's pick: Earthworm Jim (Rajon Rondo)
Zach's pick: Dwight Howard

See you in Part 2!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!

Korked Bats wants to wish you all a Happy Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball today.

We want to help remember the legend that helped not only baseball get to where it's at today, but help America get through a tough Civil Rights movement.

Here's to you, Jackie!




The New York Met's new Jackie Robinson Rotunda (dedicated today) at Citi Field.





Thank you for your courageous and strong will to never give up and to fight for what you you thought was right. We will never forget you, Jackie.


Bud (Is Not) Wiser

The commissioner of baseball agreed to issue a 6 game suspension to Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett after he allegedly threw at the head of Angels outfielder Bobby Abreu.

So let me get this straight?

Is this the same commissioner who allowed steroids to consume the sport of professional baseball producing bigger cheaters than the cast of The Perfect Score? The same commissioner who oversaw Major League Baseball go on strike on August 12, 1994 (The day before I had tickets to a Dodgers game in LA... Which I'm still pissed about)? The same commissioner who didn't know what to do in the extra innings of the 2002 All Star Game so he ended the game in a tie? The same commissioner who just always looks like a baffled old man? (Seriously though, what is Bud Selig always confused about?)

Well great job, Bud! You have yet again found a way to rear your ugly head (and that's an understatement) into baseball by making a decision that makes absolutely zero sense.

(And just for the record, I'm not calling you Bud because I like you. We are by no means friends. Not until 2012 when you plan to retire at the end of your contract. I'm only calling you Bud because it's your nickname.)

However, don't take my word for it. Make a decision for yourself.

Abreu was granted a timeout before Beckett's pitch was thrown. Abreu asked for the time out after waiting in the batters box for an extended amount of time as Beckett was holding Angels third basemen Chone Figgins on second base.

The timeout was granted after Beckett had started his windup, and he finished the pitch as most pitchers are taught to do to prevent any chance of injury.

After the pitch was thrown in the vicinity of his head, Abreau threw his hands up. Beckett started walking toward home plate and both benches cleared. The Angels didn't throw any punches. As for the Red Sox, Coco Crisp is gone after being shipped to Kansas City in the offseason so they didn't throw any punches either.

The whole situation just consisted of a whole lot of name calling, "You're mother's a whore!" yells, and some angry "I'm not very fond of you" looks.

ESPN.com had this quote from Beckett:
"I don't really feel like I've done anything," Beckett said. "I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. Am I supposed to give him a hug? I wasn't really in a hugging mood right then. I really don't know what he wanted me to do."
I'm not taking the side of the Red Sox in this situation. If the teams were swapped positions, I would still be arguing how ridiculous this suspension is. If you watch the video, it seems highly unlikely that Beckett's intentions were to throw at Abreu. And he doesn't even become hostile until after Abreu starts yelling at him.

So tell me again, Mr. Selig, why you are issuing a suspension to anyone on either side of this conflict?

You know how many times this happens in baseball? And to suspend a player 6 games?! For a pitcher that could quite possibly be 2 starts!

If this is the case, then you ought to start issuing suspensions for the other things in baseball that are much worse. Such as players who leave in the middle of games to hang out in the scoreboard, players with really ugly haircuts, players who pull really mean pranks on teammates, and whoever the jerk was that shot and killed G-Baby!

Come on, Bud. If we are going to put up with ou for 3 more years, then you better only start crakin' down on the issues that really need your attention.





Photo Courtesies:
First -
Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Honoring a Legend

Harry Kalas
1936-2009


Baseball lost a legend Monday with the passing of Harry Kalas. He called two World Series Championships for the Phillies, and will go down as one of the all time great representatives of professional baseball.

Hats off to a legend, and to a man who sang a mean rendition of "High Hopes".

Rest in peace Harry, you will be missed.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Serious Korked Bat

Today KorkedBats remembers legendary Phillies broadcaster and the infamous voice that brought you NFL Films. Harry Kalas died Monday April 13, 2009 due to a massive heart attack that was brought on by heart disease.


Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of Mr. Kalas. We will never forget one of the most famous voices in all of sports.

Here are a few things to remember Harry Kalas by:

Blank



Isaiah It Ain't So

Florida International University has new head basketball coach.

Wait, what?! Why?!

Wasn't their 13 wins this past season good enough?

Maybe for a church league. But this is FIU! A mecca for college basketball. The dream job of any college basketball coach. Calipari wanted this job but they respectfully turned him down. The Golden Panthers want to win and they want to win RIGHT NOW!

They need a coach who can offer a 20 win season every season.

And good news citizens of Miami, Florida, they got one in Isaiah Thomas.

Disagree? Check Isaiah's career coaching stats. Thomas has never coached a team to anything less than 20 wins in a season in his 5 years as a head coach. In fact, just last year in his final coaching stint with the New York Knicks, he went 23-59. He is a basketball mastermind.

Is this hire just a PR stunt? Maybe.

Will Isaiah make an imediate impact on FIU? Most definitely.

Will that impact be a positive impact? Only time will tell.

Who would I get to play Isaiah Thomas in an intriguing made for TV movie about his life? Probably Denzel Washington.

Is it because I think they look alike? Not entirely, I just really like Denzel's work.

Will FIU win the national title next year under Thomas? I think it's a safe preseason assumption.

Isaiah looks to bring FIU their first winning season since the 1999-2000 season. He mentioned his initial plans to do so are trading for Stephon Marbury and signing Jerome James to a contract that he doesn't deserve.

Oh Isaiah! Will you ever learn?!

(Insert "womp womp womp noise" followed by live studio audience laughter while Isaiah gives this face toward the camera. Cut to commercial.)

Cliff Lee Nearly Takes No-Hitter Into 2nd Inning

After a promising lead-off walk of Marco Scutaro, Cleveland Indians pitcher Cliff Lee narrowly missed taking a no-hitter into the 2nd inning, a feat he has yet to achieve in 2009. Hopes seemed high after walking Scutaro, Lee even saying, "I was really feeling it before the game started, and even during the first batter."

His hopes of a perfect game shattered with only 27 outs remaining, Lee decided he would settle down and slide through by simply pitching a no-hitter.



"After walking [Scutaro] the bench got real quiet. No one would talk to me, no one wants to jinx the no-no."

Toronto Blue Jays Second Baseman Aaron Hill spoiled the party, however, getting a hit off of Lee with no outs in the first inning. "No one wants to be that team that gets no hits into the second inning," Hill said after his history-breaking bloop single.

Indians manager Eric Wedge says that he nearly missed this historic event, "It's a little bittersweet, I want Cliff to get a no hitter, but I wanted to witness it too. I reached to get a drink of water, and by the time I looked back, they'd gotten a hit."

This was the second time this season Cliff Lee had pitched without getting a no-hitter into the second inning, a feat that has Cleveland Indians season ticket sales through the roof.

"We know it's going to happen," a fan in an Albert Belle jersey said, "I just want to be here to see it."

After giving up a hit with no outs in the first, potential Cy Young winner Cliff Lee recovered to give up four runs in five innings, lowering his ERA on the year to 9.90 in what was his most promising start of the year.