Archive for June, 2009

A Reason to Root Against Cleveland

June 25, 2009

I’m so sick of Shaquille O’Neal.  He is the most overrated NBA player of the last 15 years.  He has never won an NBA championship without an all-time great alongside him.  He got to play with Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Steve Nash, and now LeBron James (not to mention Penny Hardaway in his prime). Last year Shaq went to a very good Suns team and led them to the lottery.  He wasn’t as good as Hakeem Olajuwon, who won two titles with a much worse supporting cast. If Shaq had had Patrick Ewing’s supporting cast, Shaq never would have won an NBA championship.  At least Ewing won an NCAA title.  Shaq never developed many offensive moves and he’s one of the worst free throw shooters in NBA history.

This is a panic move by Cleveland.  Shaq doesn’t work very hard, is often overweight, and like Brett Favre, his name is much bigger than his game. It’s so great that everyone thinks that 18 points and 11 rebound a game is so awesome.  Shaq did that last year for a running team that finished well above .500.  That’s really amazing – slightly better than an average NBA center.

Shaq benefitted from his size and athleticism for that size but has never been an overly skilled player.  The refs always allowed him to get away with too much.  The Cavs have put too much pressure on themselves to win it next year because Shaq is near the end.  They will certainly talk a big game and will be hyped up by the media.  Now the Suns can move on and they get a good young player in Sasha Pavlovic.

Mitch Kupchak and the 1978 Washington Bullets: NBA Champions

June 17, 2009

Monday on his ESPN show, Jim Rome pronounced L.A. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak’s name wrong five times.  Rome pronounced it “Kupcheck” instead of “Kupchak.”  Rome should know better.  The worst thing about it is that Rome is based in L.A and Kupchak has been the GM of the Lakers for 9 seasons now. 

This is also Kupchak’s third NBA championship, winning the first two as a player, first with the Washington Bullets in 1978, and then with the Lakers in 1985.  (Kupchak was also on the 1982 Lakers who went on to win the title but only played in 27 games due to injuries).  

I know it’s easy to pick on sportscasters for individual mistakes, but this is a bad one.  Either Rome didn’t know how to pronounce Kupchak’s name or he read it off the teleprompter and didn’t correct the mistake of the writer.  And either way, it’s not too good. 

Kupchak averaged 16 points a game for the 1978 Bullets in just 26 minutes per game.  Kupchak was also an All-American in college, and won a gold medal for the U.S. in 1976.  He was a solid all-around player who worked hard and dove on the floor for loose balls.  

How about some respect for those Bullets, who had two of the greatest 50 players of all-time – Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld, plus Bobby Dandridge, a great small forward? 

Continuing on the subject of mistakes, the same day Sage Steele of ESPN said that the Lakers’ win was the first time an NBA team won the title after losing it the previous year.  Not true – in 1979, Seattle beat the Bullets after losing to them the previous season.  Part of the blame has to go to the writers on that one, though, if she didn’t write it.  

Contrary to popular belief, the NBA didn’t begin with Michael, Magic, and Larry.  Let’s get things right and also have some respect for the 1978 NBA champion Washington Bullets. 

Websites for Non-Profits

June 17, 2009

Websites For Non-Profits is a company that did a great job for me in improving search engine optimization for my websites, www.mikeneedsakidney.com and www.coachmike.net.  Their website is http://websitesfornonprofits.org/.  They asked all the right questions and then made behind the scenes changes to increase how searchable my sites are.  They specialize in doing websites, website makeovers, marketing assistance, and SEO for non-profits.  

Baby Strollers and Safety

June 17, 2009

People need to be more careful when they roll their babies in strollers crossing busy streets or in busy parking lots.  They should try to avoid these situations altogether because they are too dangerous.  It’s worse than riding a bike in heavy traffic.  Yes, you have the right of way, but is it really safe?  

Howard Stern: Bring Back the Honesty

June 17, 2009

I’ve been a loyal Howard Stern fan since 1981 when he worked at DC-101 in Washington, so I’ve listened a lot longer than even Stern show Producer Gary Dell’Abate has.  I think Stern is the greatest entertainer in the history of radio.  Obviously, Howard has been a creative and revolutionary force, with such a huge influence that he completely changed radio.  But in my opinion, somewhere along the line in the last couple of years, things seem to have changed.  The show is still great, but it’s missing something.  That something is honesty.     

For example, the fight in 2001 between A.J. Benza and Stuttering John was real.  However, last summer and again this year, there were several arguments back to back that seemed to be greatly exaggerated.  After each one, I list my best guess as to whether the “arguments” or situations were real, fake, or partly real but exaggerated. 

  • The Rev. Bob Levy complained on the Miserable Men show that he wasn’t getting enough airtime on Howard’s show.  Howard pretended to be outraged and a mountain was made out of a molehill.  Best guess:  It started out as real but was greatly exaggerated. 
  • Ronnie the Limo Driver got angry when Lisa G. asked him whether he was going to get a colonoscopy.  I’ve seen less fake outrage in a political campaign.  They went on ad nauseam about this.  Best guess:  It started out as real but was greatly exaggerated.
  • The argument when Tracy the intern yelled at former Stern staffer Steve Grillo seemed way over the top.  And it wasn’t worth it to have Artie constantly do an impression of her rant.  Best guess:  It started out as real but was greatly exaggerated.
  • When Sal argued over the selection of the Baba Booey song parodies, it was truly an argument about nothing that didn’t make sense.  Best guess.  It was real.  Sal would do this.
  • Earlier this year, Artie ripped Dr. Drew on the show for supposedly taking advantage of addicts on his TV show.  Best guess:  absolutely fake.
  • Gary Dell’Abate’s wild opening pitch at the Mets game.  Best guess:  fake.  Gary knew it would be good for the show to throw a wild pitch so he did it on purpose.  Plus, nobody could throw that badly. 
  • The controversy about Sal not being invited to Howard’s wedding.  Best guess:  real. 
  • Of course, the granddaddy of them all was when Artie walked off the show after getting in a fight with his assistant, Teddy.  Best guess:  I don’t have a good feeling about this one, and I could be wrong about this, but I think it was fake. 
  • Robin’s romance with Jim Florentine.  This wasn’t an argument, but I’m listing it here anyway.  Best guess:  they may have sort of gone out for a while but it’s a stretch to think that they had a real relationship.

The show is still mostly honest, but they need to be all honest, all the time.  That’s what made the show, not the outrageousness of it, contrary to popular belief.   

Even though I don’t agree with everything about the show.  It can still be great.  If there are any loyal fans that are reading this and are upset about it, just realize that you can like something and still criticize it because you want it to be better, or as good as it used to be.  Take Philly fans for example.  Please.  They love their teams but that doesn’t stop them from booing when necessary (although I do think their criticism of Mike Schmidt and Donovan McNabb was way over the top).  I’m a big Redskins fan but I criticize them because I want them to be better like they used to be.

Anyway, I figure this is a good time to put this up, following the Artie Lange – Joe Buck HBO controversy.  Another reason I write my blog is to publicize my other websites, including www.mikeneedsakidney.com.  Just being honest.  

Artie Lange, Joe Buck, and Howard Stern

June 17, 2009

I’ve been holding this blog for a while, but now seems a good time to post it following the Artie Lange – Joe Buck controversy.  Artie went nuts on Buck’s inaugural show on HBO.  It was kind of a horror show, but I have to admit, some of it was funny, and some of it was riveting, though some of it was also awkward.  I do give Artie credit for being outrageous, but Stern himself is smarter, wittier.  Lange is being somewhat of a caricature.   

Anyway, Stern fans, let me say again, as I say on my other Stern blog entry, that the reason I can criticize the show like this is because I have been a big fan of the show for more than 25 years.  (I also write blogs partly to drive traffic to my websites, such as http://www.mikeneedsakidney.com).  Also, I don’t agree with everything on the show, so for those of you who may think some things on the show are inappropriate, I may agree with you on some of that.  I don’t like anything that is demeaning to women.  But I think the show celebrates women more than demeans them.  And I will admit, that though this missive seems harsh, Artie can sometimes tell a good story and it’s not like he never says anything funny.

Let me preface this by saying that I understand that a lot of fans like Artie.  I mean, a lot of fans love Artie.  But I just don’t get it.  I think the fat, drunk, druggie, tough guy, blue collar New Jersey guy act has been milked for all it’s worth.  Artie wants to be like John Belushi and Chris Farley.  Yes, we get it.  He’s always bragging about how he eats so much, drinks so much, goes to prostitutes, and has a drug problem.  He’s just not that funny at all.  He purposely eats a lot so he can continue this image.  Cupcakes and Hawaiian Punch?  Who actually drinks Hawaiian Punch?  You’re not a little kid living in the 70s.  He also loves the Italian stereotype, but he’s half German. 

He goes on too long with his stories, speaks too loudly, and a lot of his jokes fall flat.  Sorry, but like Howard, I have to be honest and tell it like it is.  Howard gives Artie way too much airtime, and Artie can’t tell a concise story.  Part of the reason Howard has Artie is because he needs a so-called tough guy since Howard was so into American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, chess, and he doesn’t like sports.  But Artie isn’t even a big sports fan.  He likes the Yankees, and he has decent knowledge of baseball, but other than that, his knowledge is pretty limited.  In fact, for someone who calls himself a sports fan, his lack of overall knowledge is astounding. 

I don’t believe Artie is still on drugs but he probably still is drinking.  Either way, they’ve milked all they can out of this.  It’s one thing to be self-deprecating but Artie relishes his image and brags about being a druggie.  Artie loves to talk about it all the time.  It’s as if Howard has gotten bored with the show and just wants to let Artie take over 1/3 of the show.  It’s getting really old.  Remember, Stern listeners are known for listening for a very long time, not just 10 minutes like regular radio listeners, so the show shouldn’t do the same things over and over.   They obsess over Artie’s problems on the Wrap-Up Show and Super Fan Roundtable.  This was old years ago.

I think the Stern show could do just as well by rotating comedians – Gilbert Gottfried, Richard Lewis, Dave Attell, Nick DiPaulo, Greg Fitzsimmons, Richard Belzer, David Brenner, David Alan Grier, Colin Quinn (he’s not doing anything), Greg Giraldo, Paul Mooney, Judah Friedlander (I knew him in school.  Well, barely – I played tennis with his brother.  I know, I’m stretching it on the celebrity name-dropping here), Norm MacDonald (though this might not work because he’s friends with Artie), Jackie Martling, and maybe a few others. 

By the way, I know Jackie isn’t a real comedian, and don’t try to say Artie is a lot better than Jackie because Artie’s role is to tell stories and Jackie’s role was to write one-liners for Howard and pass them to him.  Of the comedians I list above, the ones I could see replacing Artie are Dave Attell or Greg Giraldo, or slightly behind them, Greg Fitzsimmons, David Alan Grier, Colin Quinn, or Jackie.

Complaints about Mac and Microsoft

June 2, 2009

Some complaints about Macintosh and Microsoft:  

Mac

  • Takes too long to start up, even though it’s faster than a PC.  
  • Won’t shut down unless you keep it open for about five seconds after clicking “shut down.”
  • Has no delete button.  Or rather, the delete button is a backspace button, and in order to delete text to the right, you have to use both hands to press two separate buttons.
  • Safari is slow.
  • The only main advantages I see are that Macs are mostly not susceptible to viruses and system crashes but that’s like saying, “It’s not terrible,” rather than “It’s great.”  The photo program doesn’t seem that great although the movie making program is pretty good.  

Microsoft

  • Obviously, Windows PC’s have tons of problems and customer service is terrible, but that’s not news.
  • Word:  I cannot believe that the current version isn’t backwards compatible.  It is so inefficient to send attachments that some people can’t read.  Of course they do that so more people will buy the newest version, but it’s so useless.  If I have to save documents in the earlier version so everyone can read them, what is the point of having the newest version?  
  • Excel:  It is unbelievably user unfriendly.  I’m good with numbers, graphs, etc. but there are some things that I just can’t figure out no matter how hard I try.  I go through every menu item and it’s not there until I realize you have to right click to get to certain areas.  It is just not simple and intuitive. 

Why does ESPN Hate Vince Young so much?

June 2, 2009

ESPN’s Mark Schlereth said something today that I thought was totally out of line.  He said of Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young, “You don’t have the football acumen to play the position the way it needs to be played.”  That was exceedingly harsh considering that Young has only played two full seasons (last year, he got hurt and replaced by Kerry Collins).

This is just another example of the fact that in the NFL, winning doesn’t matter – it matters more how you do it.  I guess Schlereth doesn’t like Young’s mobility or long windup.  Young has a career record of 18-11 as a starter.  The two years before Young came to the Titans, they were 9-23.  So Young has a career record of 18-11 and he’s considered a bust?  Jay Cutler, in the same draft class as Young, has a career record of 17-20, and Cutler, who had QB guru Mike Shanahan coaching him, is considered a demigod by the media (though Schlereth has also criticized Cutler).

Sound familiar?  In another blog entry I talk about the fact that Josh McCown, with a career record of 1-7, is the favorite to be the starter in Tampa Bay despite the fact that Byron Leftwich has a 24-20 career record, and Tampa eventually wants to give the job to a rookie who hasn’t proven anything.

Young’s stats aren’t that great but he has been working with some of the worst wide receivers in the NFL.  He also led four fourth quarter comebacks during his rookie season when he was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.  During one of those comebacks, Young overcame a 21-0 nothing deficit to the New York Giants.  Another win was over the 10-1 Indianapolis Colts, who were leading by 14 points.

Young was named one of the 10 best college football players of all-time by ESPN, so isn’t it a little too early to give up on him – after an 18-11 record as a starter, a trip to the playoffs, and only two full seasons?  Collins has earned the starting job after a great season last year, but don’t give up on Young just yet.  I don’t blame Young for wanting to play and avoid potentially missing another full year from his career.

I don’t like it when a high draft pick is given a starting job based on potential instead of earning it.  At the same time, though, it’s just as bad when someone is counted out prematurely.  It is a little bit ironic that quarterbacks like Collins, Young, and Leftwich all fit both descriptions.

At the same time, Young should work hard and know that Collins might get injured, and there would be a good chance that he will get in and play about half the season anyway.

It’s not just Schlereth, though.  ESPN’s Trent Dilfer has been critical of Young and Merril Hoge has had well publicized verbal dust ups with Young.  It seems like for someone who has never had a losing season and who you would expect to get better and not worse, Young has come under undue criticism.

Schlereth is sounding a little like Charles Barkley – say something with authority and you must be right.  He’s also a little like Kenny Smith – an average player who was lucky to have Hall of Famers like John Elway with the Broncos and Art Monk and Darrell Green with the Redskins to get him championship rings.  Most of Schlereth’s commentary is great but with statements like “You don’t have the football acumen to play the position the way it needs to be played,” and “You’re no good at playing quarterback,” maybe Schlereth should get rid of any personal vendettas, study more football and do less soap opera acting.


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