It seems like anytime we write something even remotely negative about NASCAR, our inboxes and comments fill up with passionate (if poorly-spelled) defenses of the racing series and taking issue with any characterization of the sport, its drivers, or its fans as rural rednecks or anything less than totally awesome. We’re told about the sport’s mass appeal, its massive sponsorship contracts, and how it’s transcended its regional roots.
(Click, Click, Boom.)
Every time this happens, we start thinking that maybe the fans are right - maybe we should give NASCAR a second chance, a fair shake. After all, we heard the sport was introducing driver intro music this weekend in Bristol - just like a real sport! That’s what we thought, anyway. But then we actually saw the list of music, and we’re back at square one: what a bunch of white trash hillbillies.
Did you enjoy your Sunday night? Good, because it was the final eve before your inevitable onslaught of storylines involving the unlikely Arizona Cardinals and the storied Pittsburgh Steelers. Ken Whisenhunt meets his old employer. Larry Fitzgerald gets to show off his skills against his alma mater’s city. Um .. the Steelers punter played for the Cardinals last … year … zzzzzzzz. So while you stock up on hardtack and duct tape as you hunker in your bunker, just pretend how fun it would be had Sunday’s losers have actually won.
It’s a battle of redemption versus repetition. Donovan McNabb, having been benched earlier in the year, is now 2-1 in NFC Championship games and getting to start his second Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco became the first-ever rookie quarterback to even be in a Super Bowl. And John Harbaugh, the first-year head coach, can follow in the footsteps of Baltimore coaching icon Don McCafferty in trying to win a Super Bowl as a rookie head coach. Home teams are now a stunning 3-7 in the NFL playoffs, and the Super Bowl will finally see two Wild Card teams face off. And, of course, what are the odds? The last time the Ravens were in the Super Bowl, the site of the game was … Tampa.
And what of beleaguered head coach Andy Reid and his sudden stubble? We’ve only known of the portly Philly coach as having a clean chin and a scraggly mustache. Now his playoff beard, a trend among hockey players and some basketballers, could now catch on when it comes to the head of NFL teams. Especially if the Eagles can win their first Super Bowl in franchise history, giving the City of Brudderly Love two championships in as many pro sports finals. Does this mean the 76ers have a chance this year? (Spoiler: No, it does not.)
But the most gripping storyline is probably Ray Lewis. Yes, he was a Super Bowl MVP the year after being charged with murder stemming from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but at the time he wasn’t wholly embraced as a household figure. All he’s done since being acquitted of murder is play tremendous football and be the face of an NFL team — as a linebacker. That’s no small feat, and maybe Brian Urlacher of the Bears can say the same thing, but quarterbacks are supposed to be synonymous with a franchise. Now he can play for the Super Bowl ring with the stigma of his checkered past mostly gone … and maybe this time, American can embrace him.
Er, anyways, back to reality.
Thanks, ST. PETE TIMES, for putting out all the story lines for the Cardinals and the Steelers in digestible, organized fashion. Now turn off your laptop and TV, go out, and jog off some extra pounds.
An astute FLICKR user (Flickerer?) caught one Steelers sign whose author knows the history of the NFL dating back to at least the mid-90s:
ESPN seems like it’s a little early for another contrived feature meant to generate useless discussions … but here it is. “Mt. Rushmore of Sports” has fans figure out who the best four sports figures from each state are. For once, the South Dakota version will look extremely boring.
Avalanche teammates Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk had a lot in common after Sunday’s game … “You scored your 300th goal today? OMG me too!“
Oh, hell. I knew I had January 17th marked on my calendar for a reason, but I forgot about Curtis Granderson’s charity basketball game featuring Kid Rock getting fazed by one of his hallucinations … oh, wait, that actually is a large fluffy tiger.
The unemployment rate in MLB is over 50 percent … well, if you only count the players that wanted to sign for another team.
In the above photo from Wednesday’s activities, that’s Kid Rock vocalizing, while Lil Wayne does some pickin’ on the gee-tar. And check out the duds they’re sporting - Tennessee Titans uniforms! Lil is representin’ in a Chris Johnson uni, while the Kid rocks out in a Rob Bironas jersey.
OK, I need a second to sort this all out. (Video of Kid Rock’s performance after the jump) Read more…
I’m excited to announce that SbB will be at the MLB All-Star game in NYC next week. The plan is to live blog from the game on Tuesday night and also provide some color from around town during my time there (I’m actually shooting a new SbB Girl on Sunday as well).
There’ll be plenty of fotos, fun and frivolity. And perhaps even an occasional baseball mention. This trip marks the first of many this summer and (especially) fall. SbB will be on the road quite a bit, giving you boots-on-the-ground reporting from some of the biggest upcoming games this year.
We’re also expanding editorial, so if you have experience as a sports blogger and are interested in contributing to SbB, contact me here.
THE SMOKING GUN has details on Sacha Baron Cohen’s (Borat) latest manufactured mayhem in the deep south. Last month Cohen staged what residents of Texarkana and Fort Smith Arkansas, thought were real professional wrestling matches (with $1 beers!).
10 weeks? You wonder if Simmons really needs all that time away from the his main duties with the WWL, or if this is a signal that his departure from ESPN is coming sooner than later (which would surprise no one).
Case you missed it, the Cubs this afternoon countered The Crew with Rich Harden.
Of course, the Nats suckage on the field has a lot to do with those paltry figures, but with the size of the DC market, you would think they would at least crack the five-figure barrier. Maybe added some Marion Barry crack-smoking rain delay video will help. And how do you think advertisers spending hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions?) on Nats’ broadcast ads feel about the news. One word: REBATE!
CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS’ Hilary Potkewitz reports Fox-TV is selling 30-second spots for its coverage of the MLB All-Star Game for over than $500,000! And that sales have “exceeded expectations.”
I guess that just confirms the vast economical downturn we’re all suffering.
There’s been plenty of rumblings that touted high school basketball recruit Brandon Jennings may forgo one year of college in the U.S. to play in Europe. His high school bio, via Mallory Rubin at SI.com’s CAMPUS CLICKS, may give a little clue about his future intentions:
Video of the Day, featuring the raucous ramblings of the Orlando Magic summer league announcers (via Brian Powell at AWFUL ANNOUNCING):
SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY reports that last night the Dodgers discounted 10,000 tickets to folks who are registered members of a website called travelzoo.com. $16 seats went for $3, $20 tickets for $6, etc.
Now, I’m a member of plenty of websites too - with many based in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley no less - so where’s my discount?
The NCAA lined up plenty of things for us to see and do at the Final Four. Among the NCAA off-court events in San Antonio were free concerts featuring the likes of Kid Rock, Fall Out Boy and The All-American Rejects.
(Whitey McWhitefish Kid Rock performs at Final Four)
And there were dozens-more musical acts featured who you’ve probably never heard of. But curiously, there were absolutely zero* Hip Hop artists on stage at NCAA-endorsed events.
KID ROCK ROLLING WITH BOOS FROM BLACKHAWKS FANS: The CHICAGO SUN-TIMES reports Kid Rockloved the reception he got from Blackhawks fans Sunday night:
When the Devil Without A Cause was shown on the United Center big screen, the crowd jeered long & loud. Could be because Rock was decked out in the jersey of the rival Detroit Red Wings.And he was quite proud of the reaction: “Getting booed on the Jumbotron is one of the best things in the world. It means you’re a true fan. Jack Nicholson taught me that when he came to Detroit to see a Lakers game.”
Sunday night’s contest was also the first Blackhawks home game shown to Chicago TV viewers this season. And the stars came out to be seen, including actress Joan Cusack and former Chicago Bull Bill Wennington.Remarkably, TV cameras in the arena didn’t keep local fans away. The announced attendance was 19,045 - the biggest crowd of the season.