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Homer_at_the_Bat_(Promo_Picture)

 

 

By Phil Bausk

Few things have helped shape my own life more than baseball and The Simpsons. Speak to anyone who has had one conversation with me and after they sift through the horrifying jokes and flatulence references, they will realize that I had navigated the conversation about either baseball or The Simpsons. Though five year-old Phil wasn’t really sure what was going on when the infamous “Homer at the Bat,” episode aired, 12 year-old Phil had a much better grasp of its concept when he saw a syndicated rerun of the 22 minute masterpiece.

If you are unfamiliar with the episode then I will give you a little bit of a background to familiarize you with the next few hundred words of ramblings. Homer and his coworkers begin another season of company softball for the Nuclear Power Plant. Now normally, the team is pretty awful even with the extremely athletic Carl Carlson and the always pensive Lenny Leonard. This year, however Homer has a secret weapon, a bat that was made from wood from a tree that was blessed with a bolt of lightning. Homer goes onto to lead the team to the finals against the Shelbyville Power Plant. Mr. Burns, the plants owner, makes a wager with the Shelbyville plant owner of $1 million on the championship game. In order to assure his victory, Mr. Burns wants to acquire top tier talent. Once finding out that all of his childhood heroes have been dead for decades, he decides to USC-style recruit some of the early 90’s most popular and most talented players. At the end of the day, 8 of the 9 players have to miss the game for some odd reasons, and Homer pinch hits for the MLB all-world talent Darryl Strawberry (whose nickname should really be Mr. Plow). Homer, after hours of groin scratching, gets hit by a pitch and wins the game, as his team carries his limp and motionless body to first base in celebration.

The players Mr. Burns recruited were as follows: Wade Boggs, Darryl Strawberry, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Ozzie Smith, and finally Mike Scioscia. Jonah Keri, Grantland.com’s most active baseball contributor, wrote an article about the modern day “Springfield Nine” and their possible replacements.  This is a concept I have been toying with for quite some time and I figured now was the best time to write something with my own opinion of who would be the modern day “Springfield Nine”, only the starters, and why they would ultimately miss the big game.

Pitcher: Justin Verlander

He is the best pitcher in the game, much like Clemens was at the time of this episode. Verlander was seen during softball practice, blowing a hole through Homer’s Wonderbat, much like Clemens did. This would also make for a great Simpsons cameo for Kate Upton, which would put her 2nd behind Marge as the sexiest yellow cartoon character. Verlander is at the elementary school the day before the game speaking to the kids about vapor lock and its dangers when he runs into Edna Krabappel. Edna convinces (or forces) Verlander back to her motel apartment where he is handcuffed to her bed. Unfortunately, Edna leaves to for a late night rendezvous with Principal Skinner and Verlander is stuck there for the duration of the game.

Catcher: Joe Mauer

This one is pretty easy for me. Mauer, being one of the more commercialized baseball players because of his hometown boy looks and his easy going nature, would be cast as Dr. Tad Winslow on the hit soap opera “It Never Ends” immediately upon his entering of Springfield.  On the day of the game, Mauer confesses to his Mr. Burns his love of the theater and that the only reason he hasn’t moved out of Minnesota was for its underground theatrical network. Mauer leaves and spends the next 20 years of his life in the daytime limelight.

1st Base: Miguel Cabrera

Miggy, who has recently said to have been sober for quite some time, runs into a surly Barney Gumble at the Pawn-Shop, trying to get extra beer money for whatever he’s found on the sidewalks of Springfield. With his multi-million dollar contract, Miggy offers to buy Barney a drink, as he has been down on his luck as well. Upon entering Moe’s, he buys Barney a beer and Moe asks Miggy what he is having. Miggy declines, leading to Moe whipping out his infamous shotgun, ordering him to order a drink, or leave in a body bag. After one sip, Miggy goes on a Barney type bender, ending up back at Comerica Park in the trunk of a 2006 Honda Odyssey. Perhaps Miggy should listen to some of Homer’s smartest remarks.

2nd Base: Robinson Cano

With a haunting past that none of us known about, Robbie Cano manages to finally meet his maker. At channel 6 for an interview, Cano runs into bumblebee man. They exchange shifty eyed glances and we are flashed back to the Dominican Republic. Bumblebee man was romantically involved with Cano’s mother, and left her to pursue his career in television in the US. Since then, Cano has promised to avenge his mother’s broken heart and accepted this offer from Mr. Burns solely to deal with bumblebee man. They get into a tussle that ends up with Cano defeating bumblebee man and quickly fleeing the country back to the DR.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter

Keri and I agree here. It has to be DJ. The question is, how does Derek miss the game? He never misses games unless he is brutally injured in one fashion. I think he follows the route that Mike Scioscia took in his go around in Springfield. DJ would obviously love to be a part of the power plant’s every day team. But unlike Scioscia, he wouldn’t be lethargic in his work ethic and accidentally get radiation poisoning. I see more of a Frank Grimes ending for DJ. After a week or so of working with Homer, he would begin to lose his mind and compare him to a real life Jason Giambi! One day, Jeter snaps and ends up eating a spoonful of toxic waste, which only Homer can handle drums of, and the next scene pants to his tombstone. Homer obviously buys a hotdog at the funeral and gets a t-shirt from the inevitable t-shirt cannon salute.

3rd Base: David Wright

Wright couldn’t just let the NYY boys have all of the fun! He is known in real life for his easy going ways and being one of the least controversial athletes in sports. However, once he gets to Springfield, he just lets loose! Wright meets Snake and they find that they are kindred spirits. They rob the Kwik-E-Mart together but their attempt is thwarted by Apu’s uncanny ability to take a gunshot. After being hit with lasers by both Snake and Wright, Apu manages to put some pop rocks in a can of buzz cola ala Homer at the candy convention and sacrifices part of his store to save it. After the rubble is cleared, Wright appears alright and heads to practice. After arriving, he listens to Mr. Burns’s speech and realizes he has gone deaf! This leads to Wright chasing a pop up into the open street where is mowed down by a truck driving Hans Moleman.

Left Field: Ryan Braun

With all of the bad press swirling around his not too over sized head, Braun agrees to play for the power plant, hoping to gain a bit of positive PR, and also to show he can hit a softball 600 feet while “not” on steroids. Unfortunately, Mr. Burns may be all for cheating, but makes sure he screens all of his players for drugs because it seems like one of those unbalanced things that he would do in a scenario like this. He chastises Braun for failing his test, who claims he just had too many poppy seed bagels (Jewish joke) and is clean. Two weeks later we find Braun back in the majors, on his way to another 50 home run season, void of any punishment, just like real life.

Center Field: Adam Jones

The Google machine, as Montgomery calls it, is how he came across Adam Jones. However, he was expecting Pacman to show up and constantly questions why Adam Jones looks like a human and isn’t devouring the competition like a bunch of blinking ghosts. Every practice it was another Pacman reference and that infuriated Jones. Before the game he quits, slamming his glove in disgust saying he’d rather play for Peter Angelos (Mattingly reference) and as he leaves he makes the classic Pacman chomping noise and swallows up an entire bundle of cherries STILL ATTACHED TO THE VINE.

Right Field: Manny Ramirez

Now I know this one is a bit dated, but who else could take Homer’s place in the lineup and be the modern day Darryl Strawberry, with nothing but a positive attitude and the quintessential teammate qualities. Manny shows up to practice early, hustles more than anyone, somehow manage to pass his drug test, and hit a ton of homers in the actual championship game. He plays in Homer’s spot until the last inning when he comes up with the bases loaded. The Shelbyville power plant brings in a sinkerball softball pitcher and Burns decides that Homer gives them a better chance of NOT hitting into a double play, which may actually be true. Instead, Homer still gets hit by the pitch, rolled over by one of his co workers so they can touch home plate, and carried off the field a lifeless, numb hero.

 

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By Phillip Bausk

Perception. There are few things more important in our lives than the power of perception. Everything we do, everything we see, and everything we feel is directly related to how we physically and emotionally perceive it.

A man I once knew once told me something along the lines of, “Your perception of yourself is how others will perceive you. You can shape the kind of man you become, and do not have to be fearful of what others may think of you.” That man was my father, who I have previously written about on this site. If it were only that easy…

Life takes over. Before you know it, you are working in an office for most of your life, leaving little time for your personal desires, and in some cases, suppressing important issues that arise in your everyday life. By doing this, you are accepting a reality that is not yours, but rather what is expected from you.

Over the last few months, work, life, sports, and other things have become a proverbial jambalaya. Everything has been simmering in one place, without much room for me to grasp certain realities in my life. This has led to me neglecting an outlet of mine I have used for years, stunting my own reflection of my life and leading to emotions that I haven’t been fully able to understand.

Fortunately, I do not have many friends who have lost parents at, or around, the same age as me. I will tell everyone that losing a parent at a young age, assuming your relationship with said parent is a good one, is the hardest thing one will have to encounter in their young-adult life. While I can’t speak for those who suffer from debilitating illness, terminal illness, or other physical or emotional ailments, I can speak for those who I know and those who shared that same relationship with their mom or dad that I got to share with mine.

13 months later and here I am, at my desk at my mind-numbing job, still unable to face the harsh reality. It has created a conflict within me that I do not fully understand, but am taking the necessary steps to piece everything together. It hasn’t completely occurred to me that I will never see my father again, or that I will never hear his voice. I can’t go to him for advice, nor can I tangibly show him my latest accomplishments and achievements. Growing up in a house where I was praised for anything that I did, specifically because at times I was such a massive screw-up, makes the last two aspects of him being gone the hardest.

This brings me back to my point about perception. I didn’t perceive the new reality in front of me as real, but rather as something that I could avoid and deflect, and continue to go on as if not much had occurred. For those 13 months I was able to do that until recently, when all of these misunderstood emotions and feelings hit me. My perception had changed dramatically, and much later than it should’ve.

Before, I viewed myself as someone mentally strong, able to withstand anything that the world could throw at me. If you saw me some time after my father’s passing, you wouldn’t have thought anything was wrong, which wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I didn’t think anything was wrong. I believed I could rise above it, become the Superman of emotional stability. But I had my kryptonite, which in this case was just time. Time slowly caught up to me and forced me to being to perceive life differently. I feel as though the weight of the world is on my shoulders, but my enforcer-type frame isn’t nearly strong enough to keep myself upright.

I turn to the Secret Diary to help me deal with these feelings occasionally, and to also help me vent my frustrations not just about life, but about both sports and entertainment. This battle with perception in my world has brought me back to my true calling, which is something I know my father would be proud of, because its a sign that I am taking his life lessons to heart and helping his memory live on through my own actions.

By Phil Bausk

“The Cold War isn’t thawing; it is burning with a deadly heat. Communism isn’t sleeping; it is, as always, plotting, scheming, working, fighting.”- Richard Nixon

It is kind of weird to think that the late Richard Nixon’s words referring to Communism bare such an eerie resemblance to the current events of the National Basketball Association and its 2011 Trade Deadline.

Over the past couple days, both the Knicks and the Nets have made Rasputia (First Norbit reference!!) type splashes at this year’s deadline. The Knicks were first to dive in by trading a sizable amount of their roster (Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, and a few picks and cash) for Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Corey Brewer, and others. Usually after such a big splash, there are ripple affects, and these were expected to occur throughout the league over the next few days. Instead, the Nets made an even bigger splash, sending Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, 2 first round picks, and cash to the Utah Jazz for disgruntled PG Deron Williams, among other smaller pieces.

While both of these deals are good for each franchises on an individual level, it is hard to ignore the idea that the Knicks and Nets are going to now be in direct competition with one another, not only on the court (maybe a year or two down the road), but also in the war rooms, fighting for players to help fill their respective rosters. This is all assuming that Deron Williams agrees to some sort of an extension, keeping him in NJ/Brooklyn for the next few years.

While the Knicks are helped by their location and the team’s history, it has been let down over the past decade by management, and rumblings that Isaiah Thomas was involved with the Carmelo Anthony trade only further proves that perhaps the culture in the front office, while shifting, isn’t completely out of  the woods quite yet.  On the other hand, the Nets have Mikhail Prokhorov, as Bill Simmons calls him, the “Russian Mark Cuban,” or as I will refer to him from now on, RMC.

RMC has struggled in his first full year as the NJ Nets owner. He was unable to lure any big name name free agents this summer, though The Akron Scammer said his presentation was one of the best he saw. Along with the Scammer, RMC whiffed on Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh, and ended up paying Travis “Where’s my GED” Outlaw $7 mil. a year over 5 seasons, perhaps one of the worst contracts in the league. He was then unable to get Carmelo from the Nuggets, even though his Nets had the sexiest package to offer to them.

This has a  remarkable parallel to the first half of the Cold War. While post-World War II Europe was being both reprimanded and reassembled, Russia and The United States proposed different approaches on how to go about this process. Russia wanted to spread its Communist influence, while the U.S. wanted to rebuild the democratic governments in Europe. This caused much tension between both parties, resulting in roughly a decade of speculation, with many skirmishes along the way, including the Koren War and the Warsaw Pact, which were significant moments, but in the long run, were ultimately unsuccessful, much like the Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow signings.

It was at this point that RMC duped us all and pulled his own version of the Cuban Missile Crisis, by swooping in out of nowhere and acquiring Deron Williams. By doing this he has moved his artillery in position, much like Khrushchev did in Cuba, and is pointing his ammo right at the heart of Manhattan. The next question is whether RMC will push the proverbial button, by signing a Dwight Howard type, or if he’ll emulate Khrushchev again, and become unsuccessful not only in signing another free agent, but in retaining Deron Williams.

It would be harder pressed to make James Dolan and Co. into looking like John F. Kennedy and any other U.S. presidents, but if I am going into this analogy, I really don’t have much of a choice. Dolan and GM Donnie Walsh have done a good job putting NYC basketball back on the map. Much like the American presidents, they have done well, but still have their critics, though I don’t think anyone is going to be gunned down at a state school over the ‘Melo trade. Their next task is to bring in one more piece to finalize the NBA trend of having 3 All-Stars to fill out a starting lineup, and banking on someone else to step up and play well (There will never be another Rajon Rondo, or at least a man who can capture my heart like he has).

As of right now, RMC and his Nets have the upper hand in managerial/political decision making, but the Knicks, much like America at the time, has a better product on the court. They have history on their side as the NBA superpower, and will use whatever resources it may take to keep it that way. We all know how the Cold War turned out, as things in Soviet Russia dissolved, and America was back on top of the world. Does RMC have what it takes to make this Cold War end differently? Or is he going to be remembered as that crazy Russian owner whose money meant nothing in a league where the salary cap is going to be at an all-time low?

Only time can really tell us how this NBA feud is going to conclude, but one thing is for sure, there is a renewed hatred of those over in Jersey, and you can be the feeling is mutual. Better yet, does this Cold War turn into a Civil War when the Nets make their way over to Brooklyn, and start referring to themselves as the Brooklyn New Yorkers.

There is so much left to be answered, and so much time for it all to be answered in. This tension between both clubs is going to last for a few years, and it is going to feel like a few decades. Perhaps Russia would still be the Soviet Union if RMC were around 50 years ago.

By Phil Bausk

All-Star weekend in Los Angeles and all eyes are on an LA Clipper?!?!?! Donald Sterling is rolling over in his grave…Well maybe not yet,but I am sure a lot of Clips fans have already combined funds to buy him a cemetery plot as far away as LA as possible.

Blake Griffin will be the main attraction this weekend in Saturday night’s Slam Dunk Contest, though the buzz around Justin Bieber’s Celebrity game debut may overshadow all news, including that revolution going on somewhere in Africa. (I say the over/under on “Never Say Never” commercials tonight is 8.5.)

Griffin, who has been spoiling fans with highlight reel dunks all season long, will be going against himself Saturday night. Serge Ibaka, Javale Mcgee, and Demar Derozan do not offer much competition (though maybe someone can sneak a W past him), and Griffin is expected to perform a one man show, as The Akron Scammers of the league continue to shy away from the Dunk contest (Lebron, remember when you said you guaranteed you were going to be in it? We should’ve seen “The Decision” coming from that point on.)

While the Dunk Contest has struggled in recent years, mainly because Gerald Green is playing somewhere in Russia now, there is still a certain amount of excitement that surrounds it. While odds are nothing crazy is going to happen, there is a certain theatricality that we hope to experience when it comes in each Saturday night of All-Star weekend. Dwight Howard offered us with some excitement for a bit, but then he claimed he was done with the contest as well, yet he still contends he is a better dunker than Blake Griffin. So let me ask you Dwight, How are you NOT in  this year’s contest to prove your point? I don’t care about the dunk counting graphic ESPN throws up once every few weeks. I would much rather see you prove your point on the floor Saturday night. Sure you have won a dunk contest, but again, the competition wasn’t too stiff.

Either way, our expectations as fans for Blake’s performance tomorrow night are extremely high. Will he meet those expectations? Who knows, but the fact that there is enough excitement to generate interest in this year’s dunk contest is definitely a step in the right direction. Maybe Blake will ask Timothea Mozgov to come help him with a dunk, where Blake ends up breaking Mozgov’s face and spirit, and Griffin is standing triumphantly on top of the backboard being showered with roses. Either way, now that the spotlight is off of Kobe Bryant in La La Land, I am sure he can cheat on his wife without any repercussions. (Does that huge diamond ring he bought her in Colorado a few years back count as a repercussion?)

Outside of the Dunk contest, there are a few other intriguing events that will take place this weekend. Tonight, there is the Celebrity basketball game followed by the Rookie-Sophomore game. I think the time line of events for those things unfold pretty predictably. Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Simmons, the two coaches for this game, will get thrown out for being super annoying, while Justin Bieber brings in the 12-17 year old demographic to cheer him on every time he touches the ball. Michael Rapaport will do his best Brian Scalabrine impersonation, missing corner three pointers, and annoying everyone who comes within 20 feet of the basketball court. The final score of the game won’t matter, but the fact that we will get to see Jason Alexander stand right next to Bill Walton will give the older crowd a flashback of that Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, “Twins.”

Moving forward we have the Rookies against the Sophomores. This game is a pick up game with some of the most athletic guys in the league and has created some exciting moments. I remember Jason “White Chocolate’s” Williams’ elbow pass to Raef Lafrentz, and no Nuggets and Celtics fans, Lafrentz didn’t dunk the ball, and I am pretty sure he never has dunked a ball in his adult life. Kevin Durant’s performance a couple of years ago was memorable, as well as David Lee’s 14-14 from the field exhibition. I expect to see a lot of nice alley oops with the amount of talented big men in the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if John Wall doesn’t break a few ankles on the way to the MVP award for the game.

Saturday night is really where the fun beings. Due to the fact that the team shooting competition is really just a time filler, I am going to move on to the Skills Competition, brought to us by the classy people of Taco Bell. I love this event because it tends to have the most overall talent than all of other competitions. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook will square off against one another, going through an obstacle course that would probably take players like Sebastian Telfiar and Howard Eisley the entire weekend to complete. I believe Stephen Curry is going to come out on top of this one because his team has the nicest jerseys, and his eyes can make you forget all about life’s troubles (It doesn’t hurt that he could be mistaken for Miles Austin’s son).

Up next is the 3 point competition, where defending champ Paul Pierce will try to fend off teammate, and new 3-point King, Ray Allen and repeat, which would put him in a class with the infamous Jason Kapono, something I am sure Pierce has been spending his entire career trying to do. Also participating is Kevin Durant, along with James Jones, Dorell Wright, and Daniel Gibson. Gibson may be auditioning for other teams this weekend, while Wright and Jones may just be looking for a little more cash to spend at the strip club. At the end of the day, I think Ray Ray will take it, as this has been his year so far, and in a year where he passes Reggie Miller for the most 3-pointers of all time, how can he not win this event?!?!?

Last, and certainly not least, is the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Now the easy thing to do would be to just pick Blake Griffin, put the bet in on sportsbook.com, and forget that you even made that simple of a bet. Well I think Blake, who has everything going for him, is going to LOSE tomorrow night’s contest. I think Washington Wizard’s Javale Mcgee is going to pull off the upset, and be the Justin Morneau to Blake Griffin’s Josh Hamilton in the 2008 Home Run Derby.  Mcgee plays for the Wizards, a team that clearly doesn’t spend much practice time going over plays and defensive assignments. Mcgee, an athletic 7 ft Center out of the Dwight Howard mold, has probably been practicing a few dunks, and will have John Wall there to assist him. I think Mcgee will surprise everyone by  taking this contest, and then much like past champion, and former high school crush Gerald Green, he will be forgotten about as soon as March rolls around.

By Phil Bausk

Football is a game of inches, Basketball is a game of egos, Hockey is a game of white people, and Baseball is a game of numbers. No sport’s outcome is determined by statistics as much as America’s past time is, and men (though not many) like Bill James have sculpted Hall of Fame careers out of analyzing the numbers over and over, transforming the game into what it has become today.

While I am not expert at Sabermetrics, nor am I relatively competent when it comes to them, I find that through my years of watching, playing, and obsessing over baseball, I have concocted some decent forecasts about how a season might unfold. During this time of sports limbo, where professional basketball and hockey reign supreme, at least until the Big East Tournament starts,  baseball fans and restless football fans are filling their brains with the countless Spring Training articles, hoping that this year will be the year their team makes it to October.

I was at work today when someone sent me an outrageous GChat telling me that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had come back to wrestling. While his life changing movies, such as The Tooth Fairy and Doom, led me to become the man I am today, I was more excited to see him back inside a WWE (World Wildlife Fund should be extinct at this point) ring. In addition, this past week’s episode of Glee was titled “Comebacks,” as Rachel Berry, Will Schuster, and Sue Sylvester all were attempting to makes separate comebacks in their personal lives. Now, I understand if no one really knows what I just said, and if you don’t, read this piece I wrote earlier this year, and perhaps your life will become that much better since watching Glee, as mine has  exponentially improved.

This inspired me to make somewhat of a comeback of my own. While I have made predictions in the last year or so in conversations with friends and such, I have never put these predictions down on paper, or the World Wide Web. This year it will start with the upcoming MLB season, running through each division, giving you the order of which the teams will finish, the All-Division team by position, and which three prospects that will make the biggest impact this season with the big league club. Due to the fact that most people I know are New York Mets fans and can always use some sort of an emotional pick me up, I will start this year’s set of predictions with the distorted mess that is the National League East.

National League East 2011 Projected Finish

1. Philadelphia Phillies

2. Atlanta Braves

3. New York Mets

4. Florida Marlins

5. Washington Nationals

NL East All-Division Team

C: Brian McCann, ATL

1B: Ryan Howard, PHI

2B: Chase Utley, PHI

SS: Hanley Ramirez, FLA

3B: Ryan Zimmerman, WSH

OF: Jason Bay, NYM, Jason Heyward, ATL, Mike Stanton, FLA

SP: Josh Johnson, FLA, Roy Halladay, PHI, Cliff Lee, PHI, Tommy Hanson, ATL, Johan Santana NYM

RP: Drew Storen, WSH, Francisco Rodriguez NYM,  Ryan Madson PHI

3 Impact Prospects: Logan Morrison FLA, Dominic Brown PHI, Jenry Mejia NYM

A lot has happened in this division in the past few months. Cliff Lee spurned the Yankees and the Rangers, and decided to rejoin the Phillies, a team that didn’t really need his “talents.” Lee makes the Phillies rotation almost unbeatable in a playoff series, though I think Roy Oswalt is going to be in for a tough season. However, the trio of Halladay, Lee, and  Cole Hamels will be enough to stifle the bats of the NL East, and most of the entire National League. Their offense, though not as explosive as they were a couple years ago, will score enough runs to win around 95 games, and take home the NL East crown.

However, while many are handing the NL East to the Phillies before opening day, I do think they will be in for a dogfight with the always consistent Atlanta Braves. The Braves sport a very respectable rotation and a well rounded lineup, though questions in the bullpen may ultimately derail their season. The New York Mets are the most intriguing team in this division.

We have a fair assessment of how the Phillies and Braves  respective season’s will shake out, but the Mets season can go any which way. Johan Santana is coming off surgery, Jose Reyes is in a contract year and trying to fight the injury bug, David Wright is a male model, Carlos Beltran doesn’t want to keep getting yelled at on the 7 train, the new stadium is a treasure trove for child molesters, Mike Pelfrey’s bipolar disorder on the field could lead to interesting antics off the  field, and K-Rod can choke someone out on 2nd base and no one would be surprised. Though I do think Jason Bay will have a really solid season at the plate, I do not think everything will pan out for the Mets this season, and if all of that young talent in Florida meshes well, the Mets could be fighting off the Nationals for the cellar in the division.

Speaking of those Marlins, it seems as if they are in the same spot every single year, almost like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” only without Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You, Babe” on repeat on the stadium’s sound system. Young outfielders Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison will provide some quality production, as well as some highlight reel plays to amuse the 400 season ticket holders down in South Beach. Josh Johnson returns from a Josh Beckettesque back injury, and if healthy, I think he will be the best pitcher in the division. An added bonus for the Marlins would be if The Akron Scammer shows up to any games. I am sure his entourage alone can fill up the seats behind Home Plate, but Lebron isn’t the kind of guy to create any distractions away from the game, so he”ll probably just watch the  Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals from his couch in June. I wonder if Jim Gray will be invited to watch with him.

That leaves us with the Washington Nationals. They spend over a hundred million dollars to bring in a plus 30 year old outfielder in Jayson Werth. It was a good decision on Werth’s side, and a necessary act of desperation on the Nats side. Werth will get his numbers, and muddle through Washington until Stephen Strasburg is healthy and Bryce Harper hits puberty. Werth may be 34 at that point, but who cares, they took baseball out of Canada, and brought it back to D.C. That has to count for something right?

By Aaron Tobinhess

As you may recall, last Wednesday night at MSG, the Knicks laid a major egg against a Clipper team that was 3-18 on the road entering that game. They looked lifeless, played no defense and, in typical Knicks fashion, shot poorly from the three-point line, and didn’t stop hoisting.  They were down as much as twenty points at one point in the third quarter.  Did I mention, this was a game against the Clippers?  It was just downright embarrassing and every player and coach should feel like crap because of the way this game unfolded (I know they made a comeback in the fourth but that doesn’t make me feel any better and it shouldn’t to any Knick fan out there).

Late in the forth quarter, as the fans grew more and more upset with the team’s performance, they chanted “WE WANT MELO, WE WANT MELO.” Fans at MSG never hide what they feel, nor should they, and hell, the Knicks fans should want Melo.  Stars win in the NBA and the Knicks have a chance to land a Star, a bona fide star for that matter, and scoring machine, in Carmelo Anthony.  Melo wants to be a Knick.  That much is clear.  So I ask the question, WHY THE HELL IS THE DEAL NOT DONE ALREADY?!!!! And if it’s not done, there should already be serious strides to get the deal done.

Carmelo Anthony sent the Knicks a wake up call this week.  He said if he is not traded than he will “strongly consider” singing the three year 65 million dollar extension because of the potential lockout and change in the CBA.  Here is the thing though, he isn’t signing that extension.  That deal has been on the table for 5 months now and if he wanted to sign, he would have done so by now.  The same logic goes for the trade to the Nets.  If he wanted to be a Net (and I don’t know why anyone would want to be a Net), it would have been done.  He wants to be a Knick.  That’s it.  The report with the Lakers is crap; same with the report with him resigning.  All of that chatter is designed to do one thing, to get the Knicks to sweeten their offer to Denver.  So I now pose the question (and at this point getting exceedingly frustrated), what is holding the Knicks back? (I would do the bold caps lock move again but it’s getting old)

The reported deal from this past weekend, involving the Knicks, the Nuggets and the T-Wolves, had the Knicks giving up Wilson Chandler, Fat Eddy Curry’s expiring contract plus his tabs at Wendys, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway etc. and Anthony Randolph (going to the Wolves for a first round pick, which would in turn, be sent to the Nuggets) for Carmelo Anthony.  Now I know he wants out but if I am Denver, why the hell should I even consider that?  That trade is garbage.  Denver needs to get something back in return or they hold on to him and hope money ultimately will win out (and it usually does) and he will stay.  Reportedly, the Knicks are unwilling to deal two of these three players to get Anthony; Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari.  Read those names again and tell me it doesn’t make you want to punch something knowing that not giving up two of three, not all three but two of three, is holding this up.  It makes me sick.  I have news for you Knicks fans, Carmelo plays the same position as Chandler and Galo.  Chandler is a restricted free agent this summer and Galo the next.  If they sign Melo, Chandler is gone and Galo is gone too because the Knicks envision forming there own trio involving Chris Paul or Deron Williams in the summer of 2012.  So why are they so reluctant to trade Chandler and the Retarded Chicken? As much as I like Landry Fields (my favorite Knick right now), even he is replaceable.  Ama’re needs help.  D’Antoni is running him into the ground right now and the results (a .500 team) isn’t good enough to justify the youth movement and the Knicks standing pat.  Now I know the trade deadline is 2 weeks away and deals have a tendency to get done at the last minute, but this deal needs to happen to give the Knicks energy for the rest of the season and to keep the dream of their own mega trio in tact.

If the Knicks fail to get a top 10 player who genuinely wants to be there (unlike The Akron Scammer), heads should roll in the Knicks organization.  Now Anthony will not help the Knicks most glaring weakness, defense, but he rebounds very well for a small forward and is money in the fourth quarter.  The Knicks will have there closer and Ama’re will be free to roam the high post and drive to the basket knowing he won’t be triple-teamed anymore.  He will be fresher at the end of games and in the playoffs. This doesn’t make them a serous threat for a title now, but it puts them in place to be and it would scare the shit out of anyone who would play them in the first round.

I have never been a fan of James Dolan, but if he feels he needs to get involved to make this happen, he should.  The Knicks need to get this deal done because I have a strange feeling that if Melo isn’t traded here, he isn’t going to be here at all and that would be a disaster.  The Knicks have a chance to build something great for the next five years that will put them and the Miami Heat battling for titles (the Celtics and Lakers will both be too old.  Same with the Spurs).  You can find role players through the draft and via free agency to compliment stars but make no mistake, the stars need to be in place and if its the Knicks are unwilling to part with Danilo Gallinari in addition to Wislon Chandler, well then Donnie Walsh has really lost his mind and the ultimate disaster will happen when Isiah Thomas returns to the front office (just the thought gives me a migraine).  As a Knicks fan, I am waiting anxiously as the trade deadline approaches hoping and praying this gets done because if not, it will set the franchise back another decade.

By Phil Bausk

It’s 15 minutes until game time. You are sitting in a gym, waiting for your recreational league basketball game to start after you had a long day at the office. As you watch the previous game finish up, you need something to get your blood pumping. A day of work and a 25 minute subway ride isn’t going to get you jacked up to make  some type of noodles for dinner, much less a competitive basketball game.

This is where music and sports go together like lamb and tuna fish. Some songs get you to nod your head and give you that swagger that gets you ready for any sort of sporting event. You aren’t going to listen to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” to get ready for a baseball game (Unless you’re Alex Rodriguez). You need something that makes you grind your teeth, pound your chest, and pump your fist.

Not to sound racist, but in my opinion, a lot of these songs come from the urban culture, as there is a lot of angst in its music. There is a need to boast about one’s self over and over,  in order to reaffirm the fact that black culture is here to stay, even if some people just don’t want to accept it. Rappers have become mainstream over the last 20 years, and groups have been formed over those years to try and prevent rap music from being listened to by our nations youth, especially by white people.

These factors have led to the type of music we here today on urban radio stations. While some of it is brash, offensive, and degrading, there is a lot of quality rap music that attempts to get across a message that can be defended by its supporters. Artists such as Drake, T.I., Kanye West, and others have songs that are both inspiring and revolting in terms of lyrical content, though I feel they do it to try and connect with a demographic of their audience that has an affinity for the “not-so-finer” things in life and while I understand why many would oppose this type of music, I don’t think in any way should they be censored as it wouldn’t be very American to do so.

But these men have given us some of the greatest motivational music of our generation. The sports world should be very appreciate of artists like this, as it gave the NBA that confident poise that is has had ever since rap became more mainstream. Rap music and basketball are synonymous with one each other. Drake puts it best in his song “Thank Me Now” by saying, “damn, I swear sports and music are so synonymous ’cause we wanna be them and they wanna be us.” That sums is up as athletes have attempted (and failed) to become rappers, and rappers have attempted (and failed) to become athletes.

So what are some of these anthems that get us strutting around the streets and hopping up and down in the locker room? I think it’s easiest to start with the anthem of one of this year’s Super Bowl teams…

Wiz Khalifa- Black and Yellow

I hate the Steelers, I hate the city of Pittsburgh, and I am skeptical of anyone with the first name Wiz, but I am giving this man credit for the Pittsburgh anthem he made this year. It has a quick pace, a good beat, and you can really nod your head quickly to get yourself amped up for a game. The song’s popularity has even sprung a remixed version with Snoop Dogg and T-Pain, so you know it has some credibility. All I know is that the somewhere in the city of of Pittsburgh, someone will be blasting this song just minutes before kickoff.

T.I. Ft. Rick Ross- Pledge Allegiance To The Swag

This is a song that I have been listening to for the past few months, and no matter what I am doing, whether it be walking from the subway to work, eating some McDonald’s french fries, or lifting weights at the gym, it always manages to get me swaggeriffic (Rappers, you are welcome to use that word).

I have to say, if it wasn’t already painfully obvious, I love this term “swagger.” It has only come about within the last few years, but it has already changed the way broadcasters, rappers, and and athletes talk. Some may thing that it is just another word for confidence, but I don’t see it that way. I see the difference between swagger and confidence very similar to the difference between Coke Zero and Pepsi Max. Coke Zero is confidence, it tastes good, has zero calories, and will get you where you want to be. However, was it picked number 1 overall in the Soda Draft??? I think not. Pepsi Max has a better taste, gets you to where you want to go and then some, and runs a better 40 time than Yamon Figurs.

Drake Ft. Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy- I’m Goin’ In

When William Shakespeare first sat down with his quill and small canister of ink, and wrote the words to his first sonnets, I am sure he knew he was spawning such works such as the lyrical adventure that is “I’m Goin’ In.” This song starts with a futuristic sound that will get you out of your seat, and then Wayne, Drake, and Jeezy spit lyrics that you didn’t think were possible to be said by a human being. Lines such as, “Making hoes wobble like a bridge in an earthquake,” and, “It’s Weezy F. Baby come to take a shit and urine,” blow your mind as you hear them, but you just don’t care because at this point, you are already swaying from side to side, getting ready for whatever you have to do next in life.

50 Cent- If I Can’t

Perhaps one of the first songs that had swagger embedded in his beat and in its lyrics. This was on 50 Cent’s first, and best, album, “Get Rich or Die Tryin.” If 50 just made this album and retired, he wouldn’t have made so much money but maybe he wouldn’t have become a joke in the rap world.  This song has the beat of how someone should walk when they are strutting with confidence and is basically telling the world, if I can’t do it, then face it, you don’t have a shot at doing it either so just give up. Well, I guess that means no one shoulder bother making movies anymore right Fitty?

DJ Khaled and Company- All I Do Is Win (Remix)

The artists adding to this collaboration of swaggitude (Call me Daniel Webster) include, T-Pain, Nicky Minaj (AKA the future Mrs. Phil Bausk), Fabolous, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, Rick Ross, Jadakiss, and the incomparable Diddy. I mean, just look at that list and tell me you aren’t filled with swag. All of the verses are pretty solid, but that point where T-Pain yells, “And they hands go up….” That pause creates such great tension you can’t help but put your hands up, and apparently keep them there.

I know this song excluded any white people songs, so please, if you have any rock songs that you can put on here, feel free to comment and I may not consider it racist, depending on the song selection.