Monday, August 27, 2007

Michael Vick is Sorry...No, Not That Michael Vick

I know Michael Vick has done a kennel's worth of bad things, and I have full faith in the legal system to mete out the justice necessary for such crimes.

What's troubling is the fact that so many people are impressed with Vick's contrition after he seems to have apologized for an imaginary friend.

Within the transcript of Vick's apology given at the Richmond Federal Courthouse are numerous references about "Michael Vick" (NFL caricature) by Michael Vick (dog strangler).
  • "I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to better Michael Vick the person, not the football player."
  • "If I'm more disappointed in myself more than anything is because of all the young people, young kids that I've let down who look at Michael Vick as a role model."
  • "I got a lot of down time, a lot of time to think about my actions and what I've done and how to make Michael Vick a better person."

I know that Vick is in no way the first athlete to refer to himself in the third person (see Deion Sanders). However, Vick is the most recent ath-lebrity looking to appear contrite in order to salvage what he can of a career spinning recklessly into the abyss. My question remains, who's really sorry? Michael Vick the person or Michael Vick the football player?

Forgive my incredulous response, but Vick apologizing for Vick - as opposed to appologizing for himself - is like Sylvester Stallone apologizing for Rocky after being busted for steroids. One is a real person in real trouble. The other is a character who will fall off the entertainment radar until the former serves their time. One is a human being stuck in shit so thick no publicist can spin them out and the other is a statue in Philadelphia or name on a jersey.

I know this may seem to be a semantic debate calling for pronouns from a person who is admittedly "not a public speaker." I just think if Falcons owner Arthur Blank is going to get pulled in hook, line, & sinker - and not make any move to cut Vick - he might want to know whose holding the rod: Michael Vick or Ookie.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Perfect Match

Last week, IFC aired a four-part series focusing on sex in indie cinema. The series was nicely put together, though I don't get the promotional department's fixation with Dita Von Teese. However, there's always an inherent problem with any docs that give blanket approval in celebrating every film that tests certain limits. Just because a writer/director pushes boundaries with a provocative idea, if the movie itself isn't good, that's a problem, and that idea is pushed to the background here. Midnight Cowboy and Last Tango in Paris were groundbreaking as classic rated X films, but putting them in the same category with the "look how shocking we're being!" efforts of Kids and The Brown Bunny just seems...short-sighted.

However, IFC is not finished with their exploration of taboo sex on film. In fact, they've made themselves the home for the most independent of all sex-with-underaged-kids filmmakers around.

Starting today, each day at will reveal a new chapter of R. Kelly's never ending "Trapped in the Closet" anthology. According to IFC's VP, it's a natural fit:
Call me crazy (or obsessed), I find something in Trapped that makes it a natural next step in this experiment. While it might not be on the scale of Midnight Cowboy, in its own iconoclastic, pop-culture way, Trapped in the Closet challenges the traditional mores and sexual stereotypes of the current climate as boldly -- and hysterically -- as many films coming out of Hollywood or the indie movement. The cheating women, the closeted preacher, the pop star hiding in the closet, the adulterous midget with a paternity problem -- Kelly makes a case to carry the mantle of John Waters into the new millennium. You may laugh, but you can't look away.
Chapter 13 debuts today featuring an elderly couple wishing bird shit-related misfortune on each other, the protagonist telling time, and R. Kelly watching the video himself and acting way too amused, while a hipster film critic smiles nervously. Indie cinema at it's finest. Take some pointers, Waters.

Chapters 13-22. (New chapter each day.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Safety First, Bone-Crushing Hits Later

Purdue University football coach Joe Tiller wants you to know that safety is paramount in college football...unless you want to be like the NFL.

Tiller is none too fond of the new rule in college moving kickoffs back to the 30 from the 35 and bringing college football more in line with the NFL. The NCAA wants to speed up the game by virtually eliminating fair catches and almost certainly will. Save a gale force tailwind, we'll be seeing more returns and in the case of Tiller's Boilermakers more great returns called back for illegal blocks to the back.

Tiller is not happy with 22 guys careening off of each other with a full head of steam. According to Tiller, "The most violent play in ALL OF FOOTBALL IS THE KICKOFF!"

I think he means it. Seriously, look how close he got to the microphone to tell us. He also seems not convinced that the speed of the game is the driving force behind this decision to "create more G-forces as these kids are running into each other" resulting in "a few more injuries than we've had in the past."

I for one was shocked to find out kickoffs were more violent than a crossing route right into the jaws of some middle linebacker. So if that's the case and kickoffs are the most violent plays, then the victory formation "take a knee" must be the most benign. The most exciting is a interception return, (especially since it starts with an exhilarating pair of words, "Picked off!"). And the most hapless play must be the coin toss at every Duke game.

Ain't football grand!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies, & Preseason Rankings

I've spent the large part of the previous three weeks incommunicado romping around Scandinavia. It was an amazing time with some concrete results.
  • 1. I'm a new fan of Carlsberg beer, if only for their ballsy slogan.
  • 2. If the numbers work out, I hope to commute from Sweden.
  • 3. After being away from American media, I'm quite looking forward to this football season, college and NFL.

Needless to say, I've been trying to catch up for my three-week absence which included many football season previews and predictions. Then it happened. One my least favorite days in the sports year is upon on.

They've released the college football preseason rankings.

Here's my beef: The preseason rankings include too many teams, they don't hold water as far as accurately predicting success, they're prone to the idiocy of Steve Spurrier, and occur too early to be anything but a nuisance.

Let's take a look at last season's rankings, and for the sake of space I'll just be dealing with the USA Today poll. In the 2006 preseason rankings there were 53 teams receiving votes resulting in near 45% of teams gaining consideration. This point actually makes sense. These teams are almost without fail different teams from the season before. It's quite rare for a school to return 100% of starters and coaching staff from one season to the next. Therefore, when dealing with over 100 new-ish teams, one might expect rankings to trickle down to a large number of squads, especially since they haven't played a game yet.

By week 3 of last season only 41 teams were receiving votes. And the final rankings only showed votes for 34 teams. "No duh," you're saying. As more games are played, more facts are known and the rankings become more accurate. This just underlines the foolishness and ignorance of preseason rankings being tabulated before teams have begun fall practice let alone played a game!

Next comes the issue of accuracy. By week 3 of last season, 8 teams of the preseason top 25 had fallen in the poll by an average of 6 positions with two teams falling 10 and 11 spots respectively. An additional 4 teams had fallen from the top 25 all together. Those 13 teams holding steady or moving up only did so by about 4 positions. The polls couldn't even accurately pick the top 5 as only Ohio State held steady while Texas, Notre Dame & Oklahoma fell and USC climbed. This is after a mere three weeks.

By the end of the season, the preseason rankings were a distant mistake. The top 7 preseason teams had all fallen an average near 6 positions, and 9 of the preseason 25 were not to be found in the final rankings.

The most laughable complaint in the presason rankings is Steve Spurrier's insistence on giving Duke a recipricating vote in honor of Duke giving Spurrier a job. That's right, Duke, who went 0-12 last season, is again mentioned in the latest preseason rankings.

Lastly, these rankings have been issued on August 3, weeks ahead of most teams opening games. What does that mean? Boise State gets 27 days (first game August 30 against Weber St.) to talk about how last season's 13-0, Fiesta Bowl winning, ESPY garnering, No.6 ranking season earned them a paltry spot at No. 23. June Jones and Hawaii get to prattle on again how their getting zero love when ranked 24th. LSU, Florida, and Michigan - all No. 1 vote getters - will have to play themselves into the top spot while the overall No. 1 USC only has to not screw it up.

The BCS rankings wait for a few games to be played, and I still believe waiting at least until all teams have played one game to rank them could result in more accurate BCS results.

In the end these preseason rankings are actually good at what they end up doing - getting people hyped for football. Look at me. However, I don't think this hype is remotely necessary especially when it brings along false expectations, hollow storylines, and more Steve Spurrier.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The True Election

The facial crusaders from the American Mustache Institute are looking to name the greatest sports mustache of all time, and unlike our current presidential race there aren't enough runners.

The AMI list includes the requisite Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage, but it's the inclusion of that follicle abomination that lives on Adam Morrison's lip that scares the hell out of me, much more than another YouTube presidential debate.

If that squirrel on Morrison's face is allowed to climb the podium of facial hair then democracy as we know it has foundered and the Rapture is upon us. There are too many sports legends more deserving than the ironically popular Morrison molest-tache.

I urge all who read this to vote early and often and to offer your write-in votes for candidates too obviously snubbed.
Bobby Rahal

Joe Tiller

Dave Wannstedt

Larry Bird

Diana Taurasi