Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

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.

 

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

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.

By Aaron Tobinhess

Thursday night, February 3, 2011, the NBA All Star reserves were named before the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic contest.

No real surprises for the Eastern Conference as all four Boston Celtics deserved to be selected; even the biggest tool and third wheel in the league deserved a nod as well. I am a big Knick fan but any one who really thinks that Raymond Felton is more deserving than Joe Johnson is crazy. Look at Felton’s numbers for the last month. To quote Denise Green, he is who we thought he was. (an average point guard whose numbers look better playing in D’antoni’s system).

After a commercial break, the Western Conference reserves were named. Manu Ginobili, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams,  and Dirk Nowitzki were all very deserving. That leaves only three spots left.  Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan. WTF? Really? No Kevin Love? Is that a joke? The only guy since Moses Malone to average 20 points and 15 rebounds a game (that happened 25 years ago by the way) not being selected by the coaches? Really?

Now I understand that teams with the best records will get multiple All-Star selections. Teams should be rewarded for having great seasons and, in the end, sports are all about wins and losses.  Shitty teams will not get recognized at the NBA’s mid season classic. That’s just the way it is. However, when a player, no matter how garbage his team may be, does something so extraordinary, he must be rewarded. This season, that man is Kevin Love. He is averaging 21 points and 15 rebounds a game and has had a double-double in every game since early November. In addition, he is shooting 40 percent from three-land this season; just ridiculous.

The Western Conference is loaded with talent this season, and guys like Monte Ellis, LaMarcus Aldridge, Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Zach Randolph are all having great season and would have been all-stars in the Eastern conference, but Kevin Love is having a better season than all of them. His biggest problem is that he plays in Minnesota, the Siberia of the NBA, according to Bill Simmons. The team is so bad, and the fact that he goes out and busts his ass every night for a shit team that has no chance to win is pretty amazing. It is not his fault his GM drafted two point guards back to back in the draft; neither of which were Steph Curry or Brandon Jennings and signed Darko for 20 million dollars (the outrage). It is not his fault that his second best player is a druggie castoff exiled from Miami. It is not his fault that his team can not seem to play a full four quarters and actually close out a game.  It is not his fault the Wolves have about 6 average small forwards on the roster that can not hit threes. What Kevin Love is doing this season is remarkable.

The only argument against Love is that he gets sick numbers for a bad team. That might be true for scoring numbers, but definitely not rebounding numbers. Rebounding, something that I am allergic to, is all about smarts and hustle. He would put up monster rebounding numbers on any team.  He would grab 12 rebounds a game if he played for the Lakers. His rebounding numbers since he has gotten into the league have been off the charts (over 13 rebounds a game per forty minutes each of his first two years where he didn’t get nearly enough minutes). Lastly, why doesn’t that argument hold true for Blake Griffin?  The Clippers suck too and Love has better numbers than Griffin (for the record, I think Griffin is the one of the five best power forwards in the NBA and definitely deserves to be in the game, but so is Love).

In addition to his sick rebounding stats, his offensive game has gotten better. He has nice post moves and has a great pick and roll/ pick and pop game. Did I mention he is hitting forty percent from three this season?  He has three 30 point-20 rebound games. No one else in the league has one, and still this guy isn’t an all star?  In Reggie Miller’s voice, are you kidding me?

Love’s candidacy begs the question, who on the Western Conference should you knock off? The Spurs are 40-8 going into tonight’s game so they have to have 2 guys right? Parker loses out because the plethora of great points guards in the West, even though he is the second most deserving Spur.  Tim Duncan doesn’t even play 30 minutes a game. He is averaging 14-9 this season.  He is not an all-star this year; and I don’t care how good the Spurs are this year and how great Duncan has been over his career. You can make the argument that the Gary Neal, DeJuan Blair, George Hill combo is just as valuable as Duncan this year (I do not believe that but still). Anyone playing under 35 minutes a game isn’t an all-star.  As Charles Barkley says, “this isn’t a lifetime achievement award”.  Cynics would then argue, but KG and Duncan have the same numbers and no one questions KG’s selection. KG ISN’T BLOCKING A GUY AVERAGING 20+-15 FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1982-1983.

The second guy I would question is Pau Gasol.  Let me be clear, Pau Gasol is tremendously skilled.  He has all the tools, but he is so grossly overrated this season. He plays like such a pansy and disappears in the fourth quarters of games.  Gasol defenders will claim that Kobe dominates the ball way too much. Watch the tape of the most recent game against the Celtics. Gasol was getting pushed around by Kevin Garnett all afternoon.  If you are a superstar, you don’t get pushed around in a big game.  Superstars impose their will and are aggressive.  If Gasol was really a superstar, he would demand the ball late in games.  And, this is for all the Celtics fans out there; if KG doesn’t get hurt 2 years ago (an injury that takes two full years to heal) and Perkins doesn’t get hurt in game seven last year, The Celtics could have easily gone for a three-peat, which means Gasol is just another talented, all-star level player and not a “superstar” (which he has proved he isn’t). Plus, he hasn’t been the Lakers second best player this season.  That honor goes to Lamar Odom; another all-star snub. Back to Love though. There is no doubt he would still grab 11-12 rebounds a game if he played for the Lakers or the Miami Heat.  Now if he played with either of those teams, he would not get as many shots and score as many points, but he would still average 17 a game. 17-12 is better than Gasol and Chris Bosh this year.

The reality is that Yao Ming was voted by the ten million Chinese people who don’t watch basketball and is out with an injury.  That opens a spot for another All-Star selection. David Stern can rectify the situation by selecting Kevin Love as a replacement and start Duncan (legacy) at Center. NBA, please show this man some Love.

By Phil Bausk

14 Major wins, over 100 professional tournament victories, hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements,and the most talked about athlete in sports worldwide.

There is only one athlete whose name resonates with these achievements, and that is none other than Kevin Willis….

Now you may be thinking, “Aren’t those the accolades of that interracial golfer? That Tiger fella?” And you’re right, in fact, I am pretty sure Kevin Willis wouldn’t be allowed on most golf courses (Not a race thing, he’s just really loud and obnoxious).

Even after his worst professional, and perhaps personal, year, Tiger Woods is still one of the most watched, loved, and apparently horniest athletes in the world today. He went through the 2010 PGA season without a single victory. He was coming off of major knee surgery, and dealing with the media circus surrounding his infidelities around his wife, Elin Nordegren, and whether or not she used Tiger’s 9 Iron to help him nail the dog leg left that put his car in the center of a tree trunk.

So after such a troubled 2010, how does Tiger bounce back? Does he start dating the safe girlfriend type? Do we see him on the cover of US magazine with a girl he met at Whole Foods who shared the same interest as him in organic protein shakes? Or does he go the other route? Do we see him partying it up with Ben Roethlisberger at the nearest college campus, and saying how his addiction is too much for him to handle?

While we are some time away from seeing reports like that, and if Tiger has his way, we will never see any reports of the sort, there is one thing Tiger isn’t able to keep from the public, his golf game. This weekend is the start of the 2011 PGA season, and Tiger takes his talents to La Jolla, CA, for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

There is a cavalcade of reporters watching Tiger this weekend to see if he has regained his form from previous seasons. They are going to take such a detailed look at his swing that they will be able to tell you if he has a zipper fly or the new button fly that has become quite trendy. (Sidenote: How can anyone wear jeans or pants with a button fly? If you are out on a Saturday night, and you’ve drank so much that you may go home with Rosemary from Shallow Hal, how in the heck are you supposed to undo a button when you need to take a 90 second long piss? It’s hard enough zipping down the fly, reaching through the boxer brief opening, and pulling Captain Planet out to put out the fires of chaos with your urine of justice. A button protecting him isn’t going to make things any more efficient. Also, I call my buddy Captain Planet because he needs many different factors and materials to be at full strength, much like the Captain did.)

Either way, Tiger will be thrilled to see so many reporters talking about his game, rather than his game off the course. As the year goes on, reporters will bother him less with questions about his personal life, but more so about why he loves playing with Rocco Mediate, or how come it took him 3 whole months to pass Lee Westwood as the world’s number one golfer.

In a sports that lacks the sexiness that basketball, football, and even baseball have attained over the past years, golf needs Tiger Woods to excel. Not just for the sport’s popularity, but also to help elevate the play of Tiger’s top competitors. Last year, a new crop of players emerged to challenge the Woods and the Mickelsons of the tour, and showed that they are no longer afraid of the big name players. However, while ratings will be better if Woods and Mickelson are playing for a championship on a Sunday, the level of play will rise as the older generation tries to stave off the younger golfers. This creates a very interesting subplot that could group Tiger with his fellow veterans, instead of singling him out like he usually is.

Tiger has been in the spotlight for over a decade, and as I am sure part of him enjoys some aspects of that, he is competitor more than anything else. He isn’t the “diva” type and you won’t see him sitting next to Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson (Yes, its back to Johnson) on a new VH1 show. Tiger just wants to win. He wants to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record, he wants to set unbreakable records of his own, and he wants to play golf as the level he expects himself to play day in and day out. I am sure part of Tiger wants to rejoin the PGA veteran community, and hot have his on-course or off-course “abilities” exclude him from that group again.

But maybe this is a special case. Maybe Tiger is such a polarizing figure that in order to be as successful as he can, he needs to be isolated from the rest of his peers. Maybe some of his fellow golfers aren’t ready to accept him back, as many of them are family men of their own who look down heavily on what Tiger did in the past year. Is it reasonable to expect a lot of golfers to dislike Tiger for what he has done? Yes, and it’s just as possible that Tiger is in his own PGA purgatory. His limbo may be between the youngsters and the veterans, in a world where he has to get the sport back to  where it was a few years ago, without anyone else helping him, except for whoever his swing coach is nowadays.

So we are back to where we are at the start of Tiger’s career. Here is a guy who is the face of the sport, whether its his shiny grin that only Dave Chappelle can imitate, or his blank, depressing stare that sent a chill down viewers’ spines during his televised public apology, who needs to play well this season for so many reasons: To gain the respect of his peers, to get America, and maybe the world, back into golf, and for everyone to forget about his appetite for sex. He needs 2011 to help him get back on track, not just as a golfer, but as a person.

Those 14 Major victories, over 100 professional tournament victories, hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements aren’t going to help him much now (well, maybe the money will).

By Phil Bausk

Jon Amaechi was a backup NBA center for nearly 7 years. He had stints with the Utah Jazz, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Orlando Magic, and was as well known as Lou Bega’s follow up to Mambo #5. He spent years in the shadows behind all-star teammates such as John Stockton, Karl Malone, Glen Rice, and others.

In 2007, well after his professional basketball career was over, Amaechi came out with a book titled Man in the Middle,  revealing to the public that he spent his entire NBA career in the closet, and that this book was his public declaration of his homosexual lifestyle. He became the first NBA player to publicly speak about being gay, and faced both support and criticism from his peers.

As fans, we forget about bench players such as Amaechi, unless a person in his situation does something drastic like he did a few years ago. The question here was what other players would do the same thing after seeing how Amaechi’s announcement was received, and whether or not we would see another player come out of the closet, either during or after his professional career.

Before Amaechi came out, I had never really thought of professional athletes being openly gay, and I am sure that makes me a bit ignorant and homophobic. I have been called worse things so I think I can deal with those barbs being thrown my way. It is interesting though that most people have forgotten Amaechi’s decision to come out, and I am surprised that in today’s flamboyant culture, it’s never really been brought back up.

The homosexual/metro-sexual culture has become so prevalent in today’s society, it is relatively surprising that there isn’t more discussion about it in professional, or collegiate sports. Sure there are female athletes who have admitted to being lesbians, but unless its the Lindsey Vonns of the female sports world, the boys club of the media isn’t going to pay much attention to it. There is much more of a stigma for a male athlete to come out of the closet, because of all the locker room talk, butt slapping, and general homo eroticism that comes with being a professional athlete.

I’ve been to the mountain top. I have seen more dongs than any man should see before the age of 25. I have been smacked on my awful excuse for a butt more times than the number of lines of cocaine at Michael Irvin’s annual Super Bowl party. Would it bother me if I found out that one of those guys I spent years playing sports with was gay? Maybe at first, but I would be able to get past it as society has taught me a lot since I was 16.

Some athletes handled the Amaechi situation terribly. Tim Hardaway tarnished his legacy forever with his comments he made about homosexuals. Shavlik Randolph didn’t want any gayness thrusted upon him, and others echoed both Hardaway’s and Randolph’s sentiments.

As a society, we should be a lot more understanding of this issue, and progress has been made in recent years. Not only should athletes and fans be respectful of someone who were to come out of the closet, but they should appreciate how tough it must have been for said athlete to stay in the closet, and then come out and put their reputation on the line with their teammates and the rest of the league. While this athlete may ultimately be on the “losing” end of some rat tails in the locker room, at the end of the day, everything should stay the same and people should just go on playing the sport that they love to play.

For years I have been wondering which current, or recently retired, athlete may be hiding in the closet. Is there an athlete that cowered as they saw Amaechi triumphantly opened the closet door, as they hid in the shadows not to be seen by the general public? Obviously this is just speculation but here is a short list of athletes I feel may be trapped in the closet, just not like how RKelly was.

Wally Szczerbiak

I am going to refer to him as Wally, because his last name is just way too frustrating to type over and over. Wally spent the first part of his career in the spotlight. He had a big NCAA tournament at Miami (OH), and was a lottery selection of the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 2002, Wally made his first and only all-star team, and was starting to become a formidable player alongside Kevin Garnett. He was then traded to Boston where he struggled, and then shipped to Cleveland where knee injuries hampered his abilities. So how does this make him gay you ask? There is no player in sports whose hair is done quite so well like Wally’s. Every game he appeared like he was ready to get in front of the camera for some sort of Calvin Klein photo shoot. As an athlete, my hair is the least of my concerns before a game. It appeared that Wally would take care of his hair, especially before a game. 

One thing I have going against me is that Wally is currently married, and he has 3 children. But in my favor, Wally’s youngest was named Maximus Jack. Perhaps Wally attempted to give him the manliest name possible  to cover something up? Or maybe this is the name Wally wishes his wife had. Obviously this is only speculation, but his hairstyle ultimately has bothered me since he was drafted in 1999.

Jimmy Clausen

One of the golden boys from a long list of Notre Dame quarterbacks, Clausen has been rubbing fans the wrong way for about 3-4 years now. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers last year, and has struggled mightily so far in his short NFL Career. There are 3 reasons in specific why I suspect Clausen to be batting for the other team. Firstly, it always comes back to the hair. Clausen has had that frosted tips to the max, spiked up hair style since he was a senior in high school. Yes, it may have been in back when Lance Bass went with in back in the day, but you have to let it go at some point. Secondly, after watching him play, both at Notre Dame and Carolina, I have not seen many quarterbacks shy away from contact as much as he has. He will always look to slide or run out of bounds, and tends to start falling during sacks before he is officially wrapped up. Finally, Clausen was in a bar fight during his time at Notre Dame. According to some reports from the bar, Clausen left with a black eye and a giant welt on his face. His girlfriend dumped him soon after, leaving him with both a physical and emotional scar. Maybe it was from that point on he realized he needed the Lance Bass hair cut to make him feel like a man. Who knows, but I am just saying the idea isn’t totally far-fetched.

Mike Piazza

Liked to squat, bleached his hair blonde, threw like a girl. Maybe it was these factors that made people believe Piazza was gay during his tenor with the New York Mets. The media openly questioned his sexuality, and Pizza even had to address this situation with reporters. What amazed me is how Piazza, who spent most of his career in the limelight of the Big Apple,  was never seen gallivanting with women in the west village, or partying with super models in Chelsea. Again, now he is married with children but something just doesn’t sit right with me about the way he spent his time in New York. Something tells me he dragged Carlos Baerga and Rey Ordonez to a lot of art galleries that they didn’t want to go to.

Alex Rodriguez

For me, AROD (otherwise known in upper Connecticut and most of Massachusetts as GAYROD) is the most likely of all athletes to be gay. Now I know you are thinking I am just saying  this because I hate AROD more than any other athlete, but I think there is some decent logic to this point. Back in the day I wrote a very long, detailed article about my theory about Mr. Rodriguez’s sexual preference. It is not longer on the internet, otherwise I would’ve gladly posted it for all of you to read. For one, a man in his position can definitely cheat on his wife with much more attractive and feminine strippers than he has been caught with in the past. And why would a guy of his stature have to pay for sex? I am sure there are women who would  throw themselves at him no matter the circumstance. In addition, there’s the infamous left handed bitch-slap of the baseball out of Bronson Arroyo’s hand in game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, as depicted at the top of this article.

My favorite AROD story is lesser known. During a Home Run Derby, i forget which year this took place, AROD was seen wearing fancy clothing, while watching the competition with the rest of his peers. It is customary for players elected to play in the All-Star game to wear the All-Star jerseys during the Home Run Derby as they watch others compete. Right down the 3rd base line, ESPN got a great shot of AROD standing there, hair done like he was going to the Oscars, button-down shirt tucked into his Brooks Brothers (that’s very fancy to me) pants, neatly coming to rest on top of his shoes that most likely are worth more than my life. While it isn’t the most homo-erotic thing to do, I just don’t think you can respect a man like that. If AROD were gay, it wouldn’t change my opinion of him. If anything, it would make me think better of him. Gay or straight, Alex Rodriguez is one man society should always be ignorant of.

Athletes should not feel ashamed of who they are. I know dealing with insults that I have dealt with or dished out in past locker rooms won’t hit home as hard as something as  personal as a gay joke, but the goal is to get to the point where those aren’t actual insults. If there can come a day where athletes are alright with coming out of the closet, to the point where it just becomes part of everyday locker room talk, then sports has succeeded in teaching us a valuable lesson.

By Phil Bausk

Abrasive, lethargic, selfish, and gluttonous. These are some of the words used to describe one of my role models, Mr. Homer J. Simpson. He is seen as the boorish, intolerant American. Someone who is always looking out for themselves, and is concerned with the “finer” things in life such as Duff Beer, Buzz Cola, and Nuclear Safety. Quotes like “Just because I don’t care, doesn’t mean I don’t understand,” give the impression that Homer is also a cruel man, who doesn’t want to help others with their problems.

He is not considered a great family man as he spends much of his  time with his drinking buddies, Lenny (=white), Carl (=black), and Barney Gumble. Homer even goes as far to admit that his bartender, Moe Syzlak, is his life partner. He has lost countless jobs, been accused of sexual harassment, stolen Christmas from his neighbors, given his son esophageal damage, cheated on his taxes, and committed many other horrific offenses.

So what is Homer’s redeemable quality? What separates Homer from every other obnoxious American who always thinks they are right and knows what’s best for everyone around them? Why does a 23 year old man, with a relatively decent head on his shoulders, consider this man to be one of his role models?

Maybe it’s because I am a lot like Homer Jay. I too can appreciate a nice, cheap can of beer. I can go a long time without doing anything productive and squeezing in a solid 8 hours of TV a day. Eating unnecessary amounts of food is a hobby I have picked up from watching Homer at least once a week.

Or maybe I see that childlike innocence from Homer that resonates with me. While Homer is responsible for a lot of negative things that goes on in the Simpsons household, he is also responsible for some of the most sentimental moments the show has ever had.

Though he appears dimwitted and simpleminded, Homer is an extremely complex character. His love for his wife Marge is so deep; it makes Romeo and Juliet look like two people walking out of a motel that charges by the hour. In one episode, Marge was the reason for Homer missing out on a life-changing amount of money. Homer thinks he has fallen out of love with his wife, but the second he looks up at her eyes, he feels like he is 17 again (Your welcome, Zac Efron).

So many Simpsons episodes revolve around this premise. Either Homer or Marge (usually Homer) do something wrong, and the other forgives them for their mistake. Homer admits that he doesn’t know how to live without Marge. He says how the one thing he can offer Marge that no other man can is complete and utter dependency. Obviously, Marge finds this very romantic and takes him back.

It is this trait of Homer Simpson that I try and feel a real connection with. It’s his unconditional love for certain aspects of life, such as his wife and his beer, which is something I want to strive for moving forward in my life. There are few things people today love to the same degree. There are always doubts and questions in the back of people’s minds when it comes to using that word love. To Homer, it’s just who he is.

He expresses his relationship with alcohol in a very simple way. When Springfield has overcome prohibition, Homer stands on a few barrels of beer, raises his glass and says, “To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” He knows the negative aspects of alcohol, but loves its so unconditionally he would much rather get buzzed every day and not care about what it has done to his personal relationships.

Now I am not saying I am going to go off and become a raging alcoholic and neglect my life’s responsibilities. It’s just that feeling of unrequited love towards something that is a part of my every day life that i want to have. It is this trait of Homer’s that is very enviable, along with never going to work or college, and still managing to have a job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

A great example of Homer’s complete ignorance is the case of Frank Grimes. Grimey, as Homer lovingly called him, had to work extremely hard for everything he got in life, while Homer has gone to space, eats lobsters for dinner, and has a son who owns a factory. Grimes sees how Homer behaves at work and knows what everyone else knows, that Homer is mentally slow. He repeatedly displays his disapproval towards Homer, while Homer just sits there smiling at Grimes, asking him questions and attempting to create a buddy-buddy relationship with him. Homer is oblivious to the fact that Grimes hates him and wants to have nothing to do with him. But this is where Homer is at his best. He just wants to be Grimes’ friend. He wants to be able to hang around with him at work like he does with others such as Lenny and Carl. He has no idea how much he irritates Grimes, even to the point where Grimes kills himself pretending to imitate Homer as a slack-jawed yokel (Your welcome Cletus). Homer still doesn’t understand how much Grimey hated him, even at Grimes’ funeral.

While there are moments throughout the Simpsons where Homer is concerned with how others think of him, for the most part, he is his own person and does as he pleases, enjoying life’s pleasures without concern for his surroundings. This is another trait that most people can’t attain because of their situation in life.

Some people may ask why I don’t envy Peter Griffin; he’s the same guy as Homer just white and not yellow. Well first off, you are racist, as there is nothing wrong with having yellow skin and only 4 fingers. Secondly, Homer is who I grew up with. I would watch every Sunday night whatever adventure the Simpson family would get into. Peter Griffin is a poor man’s Homer Simpson and anyone who does not see that needs to go watch the first 5 seasons of The Simpsons.

For me, the bottom line is that Homer, while having many undesirable traits as a person, is someone we should strive to be in some facets of our lives. We should do what we are passionate about, rather than just sit back and let our bills dictate how to spend the next 30-40 years. If we see something, we shouldn’t sit there and weigh the pros and cons, we should go get it. While this isn’t a very reasonable thing to ask of people, there’s always that childlike hope that Homer has, that maybe one day can get everyone, including myself, to enjoy our lives on the simplest of levels.