I've been holding back a lot of venom on the world of NASCAR, but after this weekend I simply have to let it out. I guess Jimmie Johnson is winning his third straight championship or something, because ESPN just won't shut up about the guy. The culmination of all this hoopla came when I saw the network's NASCAR guys saying that Johnson's third straight championship puts him in the same class as Tiger Woods and Roger Federer as far as dominant athletic accomplishment is concerned. Now I've already commented on the whole "world's best athlete thing" and the feats of both Eldrich and Rog, but the comments about Johnson have honestly put me over the edge.

This stuff honestly baffles me. There are many things that get lumped into the world of sports without really warranting it, existing more as competition than as an according-to-Hoyle sport. I define a sport as athletic competition that defines clear-cut winners and losers without the help of a judge. There are several athletic competitions that use judges, and to varying degrees the argument could be made that they qualify as a sport. Gymnastics for example, requires so much athleticism that it is the closest you can be to a sport without actually being one. The grace, stamina, strength and agility that make gymnastics as grueling a competition as it is are pretty much beyond the shadow of a doubt, but the fact that a judge decides who wins disqualifies it as a sport in my book. The same can be said for skateboarding, figure skating and diving, along with a handful of other competitions that need judges to decide a winner.

I know what you're probably thinking, that by that criteria, bowling and poker are sports. Wrong. The other thing that makes a sport a sport is a test of physical aptitude. While bowling is a game that requires a lot of skill, the more or less athletic you are has pretty much nothing to do with how good you are. The same goes for poker, albeit to an even lesser extent. Sorry, but if you can be a total fucking slob and still compete, I can't very well consider your competition a sporting event. At least bowlers have to physically throw a bowling ball every frame, with poker not even coming close to being a sport considering that all you do is sit there and play cards. As far as I'm concerned these are the two easy distinctions: competitions that have judges, and competitions that require no physical ability.

There are of course, exceptions that perfectly extol the fine line that exists between sport and competition, and for me they are horse racing and auto racing. If you concede that the only auto racing that can garner more than a handful of people to watch it is NASCAR, then it is NASCAR and horse racing that bring us to this impasse. Horse racing features nothing but athletes, the problem is they are not human. Horses like Secretariat can be considered great athletes as far as I'm concerned, and the jockeys that ride horses are performing a difficult athletic feat as well. That being said, I think that horse racing, with its clearly defined winners and losers and athletic prowess on display, is in fact a sport. The world of NASCAR on the other hand, has no business in this conversation. I've heard so many arguments that drivers are athletes, that it takes a lot of endurance to what they do, that being in the position they're in at the speeds they race at for 3 or more hours is about as athletic as you can get.

Well I'm not fucking buying it. Similar to poker players but closer to jockeys, NASCAR drivers still aren't athletes and thus lose any shot their races have at being considered an athletic competition. Making left hand turns and trying not to crash not only make for some of the most boring television that can possibly be endured, but pressing pedals and using a steering wheel don't require any amount of athletic ability. Bowlers do more when they throw the ball at the pins ladies and gentlemen. The only thing that NASCAR has going for it is the fact that there is a clear cut winner; it's the guy whose mechanics build the fastest car. That's who wins these races folks, the guy with the best mechanics and crew members. If the best drivers were the ones that won all of the races, they could drive until they were sixty and continue to dominate NASCAR indefinitely. Wait, how old are some of these assholes anyway?

Now the fact that NASCAR is not a sport is what got me talking about it initially, but I'd also like to inform you about the other things that suck about this godawful American tradition. I mean I suppose it was inevitable that when you live in a country that invents so many things and has enhanced the experience of being alive as much as Americans, we were bound to slip up at some point. They can't all be the light bulb and rock 'n roll folks, we were destined to release our version of the Edsel (shit, we invented that too!) and I contend that it is the pointless burning of gasoline that is NASCAR racing.

Oil prices going through the roof? Too bad, you'll have to continue to not only watch with utter helplessness as gas rates go up and down like a 13 year old's penis, but also witness rednecks burn fuel like it's rainwater so less important rednecks have something to get drunk to on the weekends. Seriously, I think one of the reasons NASCAR is enjoyed by so many people is because it's one of the few things on TV you can watch while absolutely shit-faced and not really miss anything. If you've had too many beers and turned your vision into a broken Viewmaster, you can still assume that what you're seeing is cars going around in a big circle. And don't worry, if you're so full of beer that your back teeth are floating and really have to go to the bathroom, you're not going to miss a game-winning home run or a 98 yard touchdown run, you'll just miss a car doing exactly what it was when you left. You know, being driven in a circle, the same thing it's going to do for the rest of the race.

"I watch it for the crashes!", some redneck in Nowheresville shouts. That's great. You're the same guy that is let down by America's Funniest Home Videos if someone doesn't take a wiffle-ball bat to the groin. Watching a competition to see people fuck up would be like watching the Superbowl for the fumbles. How exhilarating! And how do you select your favorite driver? I like Ohio State and the Detroit Tigers because I grew up close enough to both to go watch them live. I doubt that Johnny McRedneck gives a shit where the driver is from, but more likely picked his favorite driver because he got into a fight after one of the races, brilliantly punching a guy wearing a helmet that is designed to withstand a crash at over 100 miles per hour.

Not only that, but NASCAR is the acme of consumer culture, turning the car and the driver's uniform into the advertising industry's version of a punk kid's leather jacket. If I buy an OSU shirt, that's the only thing I'm proclaiming, that I'm a fan of the Buckeyes. A Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan is trying to show Junior some love, but ends up being a billboard for the National Guard. Wait, I guess that's another way to select your favorite driver. If you like Coors Light, Jack Daniels, Skoal or stuff that Dupont makes, you can be a fan of the guy who drives that car. Be careful though, if another company can make a more expensive whore out of your favorite driver, he will jump ship. Before you know it, your National Guard jacket and hat could be turning into an ad for Scott's fertilizer. Then again, maybe you're cool with that.

In summation, not only do I hate the fact that NASCAR is considered a sport, but I hate everything it stands for. I think of the handful of people that read this blog, I may have offended a few. If you can challenge any of my assertions I welcome the argument, until then we'll all be on pins and needles until the Daytona 500, which kicks off the NASCAR season and is like playing the Superbowl in week one of the NFL. Incredible.



I mentioned previously that I would begin this post where the last left off, talking some pro hoops. The NBA season is around 10 games old depending on your team's schedule and already intriguing story lines have begun to emerge. If you remember my season wrap up after the Celtics victory in the finals (which I will quote shortly), I said that the Celts and Lakers would continue to dominate this season, with an edge going to LA considering they would see the return of Andrew Bynum. While that has proven true and it wasn't a tough prediction to make, what I said about another team, the Atlanta Hawks, has me swelling with pride at this early stage of the regular season. The Hawks just suffered their first loss of the season the other night to the defending champion Celtics, and that was on a buzzer beater by Paul Pierce at the end of regulation. The Hawks are doing what I thought they would do this year, entering the conversation about the class of the Eastern Conference. Here's what I said about them last June as I discussed Boston's run to the championship:
"Yes, the Celtics had trouble with a less than worthy Atlanta team, but in their defense the Hawks came together as a unit in that series, with Mike Bibby providing the glue to a youthful structure that boasts some of the best and brightest that the NBA will see in the coming years. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are a terrific tandem and Bibby and a bit more inside help will have that team poised to replace the Cleveland Cavaliers as the third best team in the East over the next couple of seasons."
Well, Al Horford is emerging as that inside help I was speaking of and Bibby is only playing better with an entire summer's worth of training camp and pre-season action under his belt. The Hawks might be the third best team in the East right now. I think it's a little early to start ranking teams but they have to be in the same ballpark as Detroit, Orlando and Cleveland. The Celtics are still the team to be in the East, but the surging Hawks will continue to impress, mark my words. They're no early-season phenomenon and if they are graced with some immunity to the injury bug will be vying for a 2, 3 or 4 seed come playoff time.

The NBA's other early season hot topic has to be the trade that the Nuggets and the Pistons made, which sent Chauncey B-B-B-Billups to his home town of Denver and landed Allen "We're talking about practice?" Iverson in Detroit. I'm not sure how I feel about this trade for the Pistons right now, but the Nuggets will definitely benefit from Mr. Big Shot's leadership, defense and toughness. The Enver Nuggets (get it? They don't play "D" in that city!) already lost Marcus Camby, the only player on the team that even attempted to guard anybody, so inserting the strong and defensively solid Billups can only help that team. Throw in the fact that Chauncey didn't get the name Mr. Big Shot for nothing and he seemingly never misses a free throw and you'll see why the Denver faithful might not be missing the Answer for very long.

As for Mr. Iverson's new digs in Detroit, I'm not so sure about this one. The Pistons are a team that has dominated in the Eastern Conference because of defense and a spread-the-wealth mentality on offense, so I'm not quite sure how AI is going to fit in within that system. Iverson has never been a shut-down type of defender and while he is one of the greatest scorers the game has ever seen, I'm not sure the amount of shots he is going to take is going to help the Pistons as much as they think. I might be committing a foolish sin here, questioning Joe Dumars' decision making when it comes to personnel, but for some reason this deal has the conspiracy theorist in me working overtime.

Bear with me here. I don't think the Pistons think they can honestly get over the hump and challenge Boston for the Eastern crown in the here and now. I think what Joe D is thinking is that the Big Three in Boston have around two or three quality seasons left together, and then the East is going to start evening out again. That being said, a certain number 23 in Cleveland will be a free-agent after the 2010 season. So if you can hang on to Allen Iverson, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince for a couple of years, pair them with rising stars like Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell and then add LeBron effing James to the mix, you have a team that could beat the stuffing out of any other squad that dared lace up their sneakers. Even if the Pistons lose a couple of the pieces I just mentioned (notice I didn't throw Rasheed Wallace into that mix, because I think he's definitely leaving soon), LeBron and AI together would be unstoppable on their own. That of course is contigent on an aging Iverson sticking around, but this writer has much confidence in Lebron James healing any persisting injuries or lack of passion that Iverson may have at that point. I would almost take the Pistons 4 on 5 against half the Association if AI and King James were together.

I'm such a huge fan of the pro game when it comes to basketball and the early part of this season has not disappointed whatsoever. Can't wait to keep talking about the NBA in the weeks and months to come. So long for now, I have to make it home in time for the Celtics/Nuggets tip.



My oh my, it has been so long since I put fingers to keys! I just finished up an exhausting run at my job, which ended with the election and has now left me with the kind of free time that is required to write this blog. It’s wonderful to have some time to get back to doing things that make me happy, but I am sad to leave a job that was both fulfilling and rewarding. It ended with wins and losses, with the main race that my organization was working on between Bruce Lunsford and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell not coming out the way we wanted, but the historic presidential race coming out exactly as it should (dood will have to change that number to 08!) . I could write page after page of text about how amazing I felt watching the election coverage on Tuesday night, but it could not do the feeling inside my heart justice. That man almost brought me to tears too many times during his victory address to the teeming masses in Grant Park, and his historic win in this election will have ramifications that none of us can possibly understand. With that out of the way, let’s talk sports for chrissakes!

I haven’t posted in so long that the World Series has wrapped up, the NBA season has begun, the college football season is almost over and the NFL season has reached its halfway mark. My lack of posts over the past months have left me in a situation where I’ll spend a bit of time on each of those topics, with more to come over the coming weeks and days (hopefully) about the seasons that continue to dominate my TV viewing and online sports news consumption.


Starting with the World Series, I couldn’t be happier that the Red Sox and Yankees were kept out of the fall classic and two teams that had their own unique story lines got to lock horns in October. The Devil Rays reminded me in many ways of the Detroit Tigers of 2006, who rose from not just mediocrity but total ineptitude to get to the World Series after years of basement dwelling. The Rays’ turn around was truly incredible and I think the same thing that cost the Tigers in their series against the Cardinals ended up costing the Rays against the champion Phillies. The Phillies pitching showed up, while the Rays’ young arms just didn’t have enough to get the job done. You can say what you want about the Rays’ lack of offensive potency in the Series, but the fact is that playoff series are won on the mound for the most part, and their young arms, like the Tigers’ in ’06, came up a little short under the pressure and spotlight of the World Series. Cole Hamels was particularly brilliant for the Phillies, and it was great to see a city so starved for a championship finally bring one home. Congrats to the Phils and don’t worry Rays fans, your future is brighter than nearly any other team in baseball.


The college football season is nearing its end, with only a few weeks to go of complete BCS freakouts and unending argument about who the two best teams are. My predictions in the post preceding this one didn’t hold up at all, as I thought either the Ohio State Buckeyes or the USC Trojans would run the table and end up in the National Title game. The Trojans put a hurting on my Bucks that I am still recovering from and the Trojans suffered yet another unexpected (can we even say that any more?) defeat to Oregon State. The two teams left the door wide open for SEC, Big 12 and Big 10 teams to step into the National Title race, with the BCS currently sending Texas Tech and Alabama to the big game if the season ended tomorrow. There is so much football left to be played and so much great competition has already occurred that I’m almost willing to say that this November might trump last November’s insanity as far as ranking shake-ups go. Texas Tech and Alabama have some tough games ahead, with Florida, Oklahoma and USC among others licking their chops to move back up to the coveted top two spots in the BCS. The teams at the top of the rankings are going to continue to knock each other up and down the polls, but at this point I believe that Texas Tech and Florida are the two best teams I’ve watched play football this season. Take a look at the BCS rankings and tell me that anyone has a snowball’s chance in hell of predicting how this whole mess is going to pan out:





Texas Tech


















Penn State



Boise State





Somehow, Texas is looking alright at No. 3, even after that amazing game they lost to Texas Tech. Texas Tech has to play No. 5 Oklahoma in two weeks, and even if they win that game will have to most likely face-off against Missouri in the Big 12 title game. Alabama will probably win out until their SEC Championship game, which will be played against No. 4 Florida. This means that 4 out of the current top 5 teams are facing a game they could lose in the coming weeks. I don't know how you even begin to reshuffle the rankings after those games are played. Do you give Texas another shot, considering they lost to Texas Tech but beat Oklahoma? Is USC's fate already sealed, even though they only lost one game and have proven as dominate as any other team since their stumble against Oregon State? And what about the unbeaten Utah Utes or the Mac-Daddy's of the MAC, Ball State? Don't get me started...

The BCS is one of the most fascinating messes in all of sports and while a playoff system has been requested by coaches and players both former and current (along with our President Elect), the NCAA seems completely content to go through this bullshit every year. They make so much money from the Bowl system and the level of controversy only heightens the attention the sport receives this time of the year season in and season out. The only series of events that would clearly decide an obvious No. 1 and No. 2 would be if Texas Tech and Alabama win out. That doesn't seem likely according to most prognosticators, but the way the college football season is going, like last year, I wouldn't be surprised by anything. I do think Texas Tech can go in to Norman and beat Oklahoma and then handle Missouri in the Big 12 title game, while I'm less inclined to believe that Alabama can deal with the Gators in the SEC championship. So, if you want a prediction, I'll say Florida v. Texas Tech for the title. A shot in the dark, but predictions in college football are never anything more.


As for the NFL, jeez-o-petes! Nobody's pre-season predictions about how this year would pan out have proven close to correct, from the implosion of the Cowboys to Tom Brady’s knee to the rise of the Vince Young-less Tennessee Titans. While I've previously pontificated on the inanity of ESPN's constant updates and unending bickering on its programs, the NFL coverage is truly impossible to tolerate at this point. If I hear one more knucklehead on that network retract a prediction or contradict himself about how the season will ultimately pan out I'm going to go all Mike Singletary and do something dangerous in Bristol. They went on for weeks about how the NFC East would produce three playoff teams, when in the end it could only be one. Everyone on that network kept proclaiming the Eagles the second best team in the division, even while they can't seem to beat any other team in the division. Not to mention how they count out the Colts and Pats, and then a week later proclaim that the two former powerhouses of the AFC are back and ready to pounce on this season's proven winners like the Steelers and Titans.

For weeks they disregarded the surprising play of teams in the NFC South, which like the NFC East, has the potential to send only one team to the playoffs or an amazing three. I don't see any difference between the two divisional races quite frankly. You've got your dominate team in each, (the Panthers and Giants respectively) then the rest of the conference, which will clamor for positioning and probably come down to tie-breaker rules that will make your head spin off your shoulders. I don't see why the Cowboys, Redskins and Eagles are so much better than the Falcons, Buccaneers and Saints. If you take a look at the teams' overall and divisional records, you'll see that they enjoy the same level of parity as playoff races throughout football.

The truth is that parity has left the NFL a virtual crap-shoot with each new season and sitting at a fancy desk on a set in Bristol doesn't mean you have any idea of how things are going to turn out. Just shut-up, analyze some film and give me more highlights ESPN, because the NFL is probably the toughest nut to crack in all of sports when it comes to predictions. Even tougher than college football, which as I have just explained is a complete mess every year.

Oy. This thing is getting long enough as is, so I’ll save the NBA chat for another post. It’s lovely to be back at the keyboard and posting to the Hip, and I hope my inactive streak doesn’t last another two months like the last one did. Cheers.