Walter - I feel your pain re SD; they have had a huge injury list! I thing I note - doing analysis for AFL Australian football - is that teams with a huge injury list often underperform when they begin to get players back from injury; this is often because the injured players return a week too early and fail to fire (or get re-injured); also the players who have been carrying the extra load for them tend to relax that week; the trend in the AFL is that these teams generally miss the spread (often by a lot) as the year goes on - but they sometimes have 1 (maybe 2) unexpected wins against unwary middle to lower ranked teams. They may fire against JAX this week, but I would like a SD expert to tell us if the recently returned players are likely to improve.
Speaking of injuries - these are good reasons for being confident on TB and DEN this week. Harry Young, Melbourne
One of these days I'm going to get killed playing basketball. I wish I were joking.
As you may know, I play pick-up basketball at my gym on Saturdays. One guy who's usually there is perhaps the most frustrating person to ever play basketball with. Consider the following Antoine Walker-like qualities:
BBall Mad Man (you'll see why I call him this later) is a big guy, yet he stands near the three-point line on every possession. I don't think I've ever seen him within 15 feet of the hoop.
He doesn't believe in playing defense or rebounding. If he's guarding you, you're either open or... well, we'll get to that later.
If he gets frustrated, he slams his hand on the ball and fires up a ridiculous hookshot airball.
If one of his "lesser" teammates (according to him) takes a shot, he yells, "no chance!" as the ball is in the air.
On the rare occasions when he passes, he inexplicably fires the ball as hard as he can - even if his teammate is right next to him. Apparently, he has never learned the concept of a touch pass.
The thing is, I don't know whether it's worse to play with or against him. If he's on your team, you're seldom going to handle the ball because he'll spend most of his time tossing up ridiculous shots that have no hope of going in. If he's on the other team, well, that's why I call him BBall Mad Man.
I've had the misfortune of being guarded by BBall Mad Man on many occasions over the years. Even though I'm a lot quicker than he is, I can't ever get around him because he either tackles, pushes or rapes me whenever I have the ball.
Three weekends ago, I had the ball on the baseline. I decided to drive toward the basket against the other team, which was playing zone defense at the time. Unfortunately, I drove toward BBall Mad Man. Instead of using a legitimate defensive basketball maneuver to stop me, he swung his arm out and whacked me in the head. I fell down, yet he grabbed the ball and began dribbling. Suddenly, he stopped when he noticed that no one else was moving.
BBall Mad Man: What's going on?
Random Player: Umm... you don't think that's a foul?
*** I forget who the random player was because I was still on the ground trying to figure out what year it was. ***
BBall Mad Man: What do you mean, foul!?
Random Player: You clotheslined him!
BBall Mad Man: No foul! No foul! He didn't call it! Respect the non-call!
Everyone there eventually convinced him that it was a foul. He just raised his arms up in disgust. "I'll get the next one," he said. And that he did.
Several possessions later, something miraculous occurred. BBall Mad Man actually approached the basket! He caught a rebound and fired up a put-back. Unfortunately, he threw the ball up too hard. It hit off the bottom of the rim, came back down and smacked his face. No one was even near him (no one expected him to be so close to the hoop), so we were able to watch this ridiculous sequence of events.
As soon as the ball hit him in the face...
BBall Mad Man: Foul! I call foul!
Me: Foul!? The ball hit you in the face. That's not a foul!
BBall Mad Man: Respect the call! Respect the call!
Me: Respect the call!? No one hit you. It was the ball!
BBall Mad Man: You got the last call. I got this one!
Apparently, being clotheslined and getting hit with the ball off your own shot cancel each other out. On the bright side, I was able to joke, "That's the basketball's second personal foul" after the play.
Despite nearly dying, I'd actually say that being on BBall Mad Man's team might be worse than playing against him. I'm not exaggerating at all when I say this, but BBall Mad Man has not won a single pick-up game in months. It's actually a running joke. My friend Larry said something like, "He's 0-24 this summer."
I do have faith that BBall Mad Man will prevail eventually. I mean, one of these days he's going to kill everyone playing against him. Hopefully I'll be on his team that day.
JERK OF THE WEEK NO. 2: BBall DBag/AHole
This might be a Jerks of the Week record because I'm writing about BBall DBag for a third time. If you haven't read about him, check out my last entry, when BBall DBag assumed I didn't know what a zone defense was and later told my friend to practice his layups.
BBall DBag has certainly been a douche over the couple of years that I've known him. After what he pulled last Saturday, I can now call him a complete a-hole. In fact, let's change his name to BBall AHole.
What did he do exactly? Well, it started in the middle of a full-court pick-up game. BBall AHole was doing the usual - criticizing teammates and yelling at everyone for screwing up. There was the usual, "What the hell are you doing?" and "You're playing terrible basketball today!"
Toward the end of the game, he really began yelling at this guy Robert. Robert, who's a pretty good ball player, attempted a behind-the-back pass that sailed out of bounds. BBall AHole was not pleased about this.
BBall AHole: No more of that stuff! You hear me!? No more behind-the-back stuff! I'm disallowing it from now on!
Attention, all basketball players at my gym: Behind-the-back passes are hereby disallowed!
The game ended innocently enough with my team prevailing over Robert, BBall AHole and their three teammates. After grabbing a drink of water in the hall and walking back into the gym, forum member Injured Reserve and I witnessed a confrontation between BBall AHole and Robert.
BBall AHole (Speaking Angrily): Don't try that stuff no more! You're a good ball player, but you're not THAT good. Look, I don't know, but you'll probably never reach the next level. I don't think you'll reach the next level. You're just not THAT good.
BBall AHole walked away. His face completely red, Robert just stood there in shock. He walked toward Injured Reserve and me, and muttered, "I guess I'll never reach the next level."
I really have to give Robert a ton of credit, because I would have punched BBall AHole in the face - or at least yelled back. I don't know how Robert just stood there and took BBall AHole's insults.
We played one more full-court game. Robert asked to be traded to my team. Unfortunately, we lost. All of our shots just rimmed out, and they were hitting everything. Of course, it didn't help that BBall AHole was covering me and raping me in a BBall Mad Man-like fashion. Seriously, BBall AHole, can you not jab me in the ribs every time I'm trying to drive by you?
Later on, as everyone was leaving, BBall AHole approached me after Robert left the gym.
BBall AHole: Look, I'm not trying to hurt no one's feelings, but that kid is just not good enough to be pulling that crap during them games. I'm just trying to help out and make him a better ball player, just like I made you a better ball player.
BBall AHole then slapped me gently on the face twice and walked away. Like Robert, I just stood there in shock.
Made me a better ball player? What the hell? What does he think he did, teach me what a zone defense was two months ago? Does he feel like he taught me that the only way to stop the guy with the ball is to repeatedly punch him in the ribs? And did he just slap me in the face twice? What a f***ing a**hole.
To my knowledge, I don't think BBall Mad Man and BBall AHole ever guarded each other in one of our pick-up games because there's a big size mismatch (BBall AHole is pretty short).
I find this unfortunate, because they'd inevitably hit each other so hard that a fight would break out. And at that point, one guy would probably get hurt and never come back again, leaving me with one fewer jerk to deal with on the basketball court.
JERK OF THE WEEK NO. 3: Whiskey Tango Marriage
I didn't play my best basketball the afternoon that BBall AHole berated Robert. I was hung over.
The night before BBall AHole's tirade, I had a fantasy football draft at my house. Three league members and I decided to go to a bar called Whiskey Tango afterward. One of my friends was supposed to meet us there, but I got a call from him during the draft:
Friend: Dude, I'm not gonna be able to make it.
Me: Why not?
Friend: I can't get on the train.
Me: Did you miss it? Just take the next one.
Friend: Nah dude, I'm gonna have to go to the hospital if I get on the train.
Friend: I just ate some pot Rice Krispie Treats and I'm freaking out, man.
Me: Wow. Dude, just get on the train, it's not a big deal.
Friend: I can't do it, bro. I gotta leave the train station now!
My friend obviously didn't make it. So, it was me, Injured Reserve, IR's girlfriend Kate (Man-Eaters in our PPR league) and our mutual friend Gary. We decided to make the 10-minute walk to Whiskey Tango. It was nice out, and by not driving, none of us would have to worry about a DUI, which is always good.
If you don't live in Philly, by the way, Whiskey Tango is probably the most popular bar in Northeast Philadelphia. There are tons of bigger and more popular bars downtown, but since downtown sucks, Whiskey Tango is usually my bar of choice. The fact that it's so close by does help.
To my surprise, the front portion of Whiskey Tango wasn't very crowded that Friday night. It's usually packed. There were some guys wearing suits and a couple of hot chicks wearing dresses, but that was it. I blamed it on this crappy band that was playing. As Kate said, "All of their songs sound the same." The music was also obnoxiously loud, making it really difficult to talk.
*** This is definitely my biggest peeve about bars, by the way. Why does the music have to be so f***ing loud? Seriously, what if people just want to talk to each other? Can't you just turn down the volume a little bit so that my eardrums aren't bleeding the following morning? ***
I eventually made my way to the bathroom. I tried to take a leak, but couldn't because some idiot was vomiting in the urinal next to me. Completely frustrated, I left that bathroom and tried another one a couple of minutes later. I walked toward the back section of Whiskey Tango, and immediately saw large clusters of people gathered in one area. All of them were wearing suits or dresses. As Kate later informed me (via the magic of the women's bathroom), they were here for a wedding.
Look, I like Whiskey Tango and everything, but who the hell has a wedding there? I mean, this is a bar that tends to draw in some gray-bearded bikers and KKK members on the rare occasion. I don't know how chicks think - no one does - but I have to imagine that if I had a sex change and became someone's bride, I sure as hell wouldn't want to celebrate my wedding day next to some 55-year-old drunk motorcycle rider with a Swastika tattooed on his arm.
After finally being able to go to the bathroom - no vomit near me this time - I went back to the front of the bar to rejoin my friends. About 15 minutes later, the bride (still wearing her wedding dress) and groom approached our table and made their way toward the exit. The following exchange occurred when Kate paid the bride a compliment:
Kate: You look beautiful!
Bride: Why thank you!!!
Groom: No she doesn't!
Wow! I heard of men jokingly insulting their wives after years of marriage, but to say that your new wife doesn't look good on her wedding night? Just, wow. As Kate later said, "That marriage isn't going to last very long."
Of course, we didn't need that exchange to figure that out. It was doomed the minute they decided to celebrate their marriage with racist bikers.