UPDSR In-Depth: Atlousyanta

Mark Bradley asks that age old question: is Atlanta a lousy sports town?

In a word —–> yes.

Greetings one and well… one probably, Jubbo here and I have to admit, its not very difficult to find a good time in Atlanta. I’ve spent a lot of time there through the years and a lot of it has been because of sports. I’ve been to old Fulton County Stadium, Turner Field, Philips for a Hawks game and to the Dome for the SEC Basketball Tournament. I’ve gotten drunk downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, you name it. I’ve run the Peachtree Road Race and navigated through Hartsfield, hell I’ve even ridden the MARTA, something I don’t think anyone else has ever done.

But I’ve always been pretty down on Atlanta as a sports town.

Mark Bradley from the AJC, predictably, isn’t. Sort of. And away we go:

Should the Thrashers leave for Manitoba, ours would become the first American city to lose two NHL franchises. Word of the pending sale has spawned yet another round of Atlanta-is-a-lousy-sports-town boilerplate harrumphing, and again I pause to ask: Are we a lousy sports town?

The Thrashers were 28th among 30 NHL teams in attendance last season. The Hawks were 22nd among 30 NBA clubs. The 2010 Braves made the playoffs for the first time since 2005, and their attendance ticked upward from 15th to 13th among the 30 baseball teams. (The average Turner Field crowd grew by 1,685 year over year.)

OK this, to me, is a huge foundational piece to a city being declared a lousy sports town: people essentially don’t go to games. Keep in mind Atlanta is a MASSIVE city, the metro area coming in at right around 5 million people. That puts them into the same conversation with cities like San Francisco, Boston, Philly and Houston, cities that I would say have few if any problems supporting their teams. And its much larger than non-lousy sports towns like Minneapolis, St. Louis (ugh) and Cleveland. Losing two NHL franchises is pitiful. I also don’t think its a stretch to say that no one would give 2 shits if the Hawks went to Winnipeg as well based off that attendance number. And the Braves? Meh. They draw pretty well on the weekend but some of those weeknight games are embarrassing from a crowds perspective. (They average about 31K a game and are at 62% of capacity, ranking 17th in MLB)

CITATION!——> http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance/_/year/2010/sort/homePct

Of note: The 2010 Falcons, who had the NFL’s second-best record, were 15th among 32 teams in attendance and 19th in capacity at 95.3 per cent. But the Falcons’ average gate was 67,850. Put it this way: Over their last full seasons, the average Braves, Hawks and Thrashers crowds together still fell 6,000 below the Falcons’ yield.

So a not-too-well-supported NFL team outdraws the other pro franchises COMBINED? And the Falcons coming in at 15th in attendance yet 8th in NFL market population is shameful. This is all sounding pretty lousy to me.

That’s instructive.

No it isn’t.

ARTHUR BLANK WAS NOT OUR OWNER AT THIS TIME!

Since 2004, Hawks and Thrashers fans have faced a shared dilemma: Do I buy tickets and support the team even if it means endorsing the maladroit Atlanta Spirit? Since 2007, the Braves have been owned by faceless Liberty Media of faraway Colorado. (Last week Liberty Media offered $1 billion to buy Barnes & Noble; the Braves’ payroll remains under $90 million.)

Ah yes, that always well thought out idea of Hey, I hate the ownership of the team I love therefore I will show ownership the way I feel by depriving myself of the joy of seeing the team I love in person! Yes, thats exactly what I’ll do! I will stay at home and watch from afar, with my absurdly-priced jersey on, surrounded by other various team paraphernalia that I purchased back when I went to games and also… meh you get it. This is a really awkward paragraph from Bradley.

My point:

See, he acknowledges his rambling pointless blathering by attempting to reign it all back in.

The only local pro sports owner who inspires any confidence is Arthur Blank. We’re more inclined to support the Falcons because we believe they’re well run. About the other teams, it can be tough to know. Example: Frank Wren signed Derek Lowe to a four-year contract paying $60 million in January 2009 and was trying to dump him 10 months later. Another: The Hawks paid $120 million to keep Joe Johnson in the same summer they promoted Larry Drew to head coach at a cut-rate price.

Oh, I see. Actually, I think Atlanta is more inclined to support the Falcons because its a city filled with front-running transplants who no matter what only really care about football and baseball. And has Bradley ever heard of, just off the top of my head, Virginia McCaskey or Mike Brown? Those are two pretty bad owners yet Chicago is ranked 4th in capacity at over 100% and Cincy is down with Atlanta at 22nd (they won *FOUR* games and play cold weather football). My point: why can’t a 13 win team in a town of 5 million get 68,000 people out to a game 8 times a year? My answer: a lot of Atlanta doesn’t give a shit.

CITATION!—–> http://espn.go.com/nfl/attendance/_/sort/homePct

My question: If we have qualms about a team’s management, are we wrong for keeping our money in our wallets? Isn’t that essentially what Americans do every election — vote our pocketbooks?

My answer: No, that’s douchey and a way to spin Atlanta’s apathy to its sports teams.

Addressing Thrashers fans, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said on a radio show Thursday: “I understand that there may be dissatisfaction [with ownership] there, but demonstrating your dissatisfaction by not going to games is an interesting strategy. It’s your absolute right. But if it becomes a turnoff for anybody who might want to buy the franchise, the long-term consequences could be severe.”

So Bettman’s recommendation would be to spend money on a bad product just so somebody else might come along and snap it up? In what solar system is he living?

News flash: Money’s tighter than it was in 2005, or in 2000, or in 1995. For a family of four, a game at Philips Arena can run more than $200. (A trip to Turner Field can be done for less.) At a time of lower income and higher prices, the issue becomes: Do we need to go watch this team play in person? For many Atlantans, the teams that meet that criterion tend to be based on college campuses.

He waited until he was damn near pissing himself to bring up college sports (read: football). Yeah hoss, no shit it costs a lot to go watch pro sports. But just like any other city, the ATL (ugh) is *FULL* of rich assholes who love dropping coin on fucking off. They just don’t spend it on Atlanta’s shitty franchises because THEY DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THEM. The thing that rubs me the wrong way about this piece (or blog entry, whatever) is I think Bradley knows all this, he’s just harrumphing civic pride for whatever reason (to sell papers? I truly don’t know. Hey look, this guy Bradley likes us all here in Atlanta, I’ll be sure to visit ajc.com and occasionally purchase a physical paper because I too have civic pride!) and its not even really believable at all.

Whenever I’m hit with the Atlanta-is-a-lousy-sports-town line, that’s my rebuttal: We might not be the best pro sports city, but we’re the absolute best for college football. All you need do is drive around the Perimeter on an autumn Saturday morning and you’ll see the festooned cars bearing Fulton and DeKalb and Cobb and Gwinnett plates headed for Athens and Auburn and Knoxville and Tuscaloosa and Clemson and Columbia and Tallahassee and Gainesville. (And yes, for North Avenue, too.)

Wait… (and this is shockingly stupid) Because Atlantans *LEAVE TOWN* en masse to watch college football in the Fall, this is what makes Atlanta a great sports town? Did Bradley really just type this? Good lord.

In our love for college football, we’re different from Boston or Philadelphia or New York or Miami or L.A. (Among big cities, Dallas would be the closest to us, but it’s not really close.) Our sporting priorities are those autumn Saturdays. As Gary Stokan, the president of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, says: “Our two biggest pro teams are Georgia and Georgia Tech.”

You’re different from those towns because they care about their sports teams for the most part (and Miami could possibly unseat Atlanta for “Worst Sports Town in the Country” by the way, LA isn’t a great sports town either). I haven’t spent an autumn on the East Coast but I have in Chicago and I think the two areas are at least somewhat comparable and Chicago is *CRAZY* about college football. Seriously, walk down Clark or Belmont or any other major street in the Fall and there is nothing but college flags hanging out front of all the bars… Iowa, Michigan, OSU, Michigan State(!)… hell there is a massive bar FULL of Alabama alumni and fans right under the EL tracks on Clark Street. And yet the next day, those same bars are filled with (gasp!) NFL fans. Bears, Browns, Lions (!), hell even Green Bay (vomits). My point: being a fan of a college football team and a NFL team aren’t mutually exclusive. In other words, Atlanta doesn’t care about pro sports. Thats fine, neither does the rest of the South. But these are YOUR teams. If Atlanta doesn’t care about them, who the hell does?

Last year I asked Michael Adams, Georgia’s president, how Sanford Stadium kept playing to capacity crowds in an uncertain economy. “For our folks,” he said, “[football tickets] are second to the mortgage.”

Again (and this is so stupid) Bradley asks someone who lives in Athens why attending sporting events IN ATHENS is important to the city of Atlanta. That Sanford Stadium sells out seven times a year is somehow a testament to the greatness of Atlanta as a sports town. Why is he doing this? In what solar system is he living?

It would be nice if a pro team grabbed us by the lapels and made us care — the Braves did it in 1991, and the Falcons did it with Michael Vick — but that’s the job of the team. It’s not on us.

So a team has to be a championship contender (or even worse, a champion) for Atlanta to give a rip? I got that right?

GRAB US BY THE LAPELS!

That more folks haven’t turned up to see the Thrashers lose doesn’t make us lousy civic stewards. Gary Bettman might not be happy with us, but he has to admit we’re savvy shoppers.

SPIN, all of it. You all aren’t savvy shoppers, you’re all front runners who even when you have a team to bandwagon with, the Falcons currently, you don’t even do that great a job of it.

Bradley essentially asks a two-part question here: Is Atlanta a lousy pro sports town and/or is Atlanta a lousy college sports town?

And Bradley hackedly throws in Georgia Tech and their 50-something thousand seat stadium on the side of 14 lanes of interstate and selling out (I guess? He doesn’t really mention their attendance) 7 games a year as some proof that Atlanta cares about sports. That and that thousands of alumni leave town every Saturday in the Fall to spend money on their alma maters (and spend money out of state/city for whats it worth) as yet more proof that Atlanta is a viable sports town. I think you, me and even Mark Bradley knows that just isn’t the case. Pro sports, college sports… who in Atlanta really gives a shit? (Happy Gilmore’d)

Atlanta isn’t a lousy sports town; its a miserable one.

Everyone else must be Athens or Tuscaloosa or Gainesville

UPDSR In-Depth: Morosi’s got a crystal ball

Look at my awesome crystal ball

Hi all, Jubbo here and oh shit have we got a good one today.

So Jon Paul Morosi, a “writer” for MSN/Fox/whatever, wrote something the other day and its shockingly bad. Let’s take a closer look at it why don’t we?

(EDIT: I can’t get the link to work, its supposed to be the ‘something’ up there. Its no doubt the fault of some shithead in our IT Dept. here at Uncle Popov Towers. If you want to C & P —-> http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/it-is-not-chicago-cubs-year-051111)

Voodooed postseasons notwithstanding, the Chicago Cubs have offered their fans some pleasant summer memories over the past century or so.

Whoa. Strap in and hold on folks, we’re starting out strong! The Cubs have had some good seasons in their history. Who knew?

Take 2007, for instance. The Cubs were 8 1/2 games back in late June, with a losing record, before rallying to win the division. That was Lou Piniella’s first season at Addison and Clark, and all seemed possible.

Listen man, its Clark and Addison. Clark then Addison, every single time. Do you say “jelly and peanut butter sandwich” or “The Cubs lost 0-3? I don’t know if you fuck everything up like that or not but the rest of us sure as hell don’t.

It’s not often that the Cubs can point to history as a reason for optimism. This is one such case. If it happened four years ago — despite Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano scuffling in the dugout — then why not now?

Wait, I thought you just said “the Chicago Cubs have offered their fans some pleasant summer memories over the past century or so.” And that isn’t even the stupidest part about this paragraph. You want Z to go off again in the dugout like he did back in 2007 2010? Yeah douche bag, you remember last year when Z lost it and cursed everyone within earshot out like some crazed goddamn lunatic? Did that ignite anything at all? This is all just so stupid and contrived.

But this isn’t The Year.

THERE IT IS! THAT BOLD PROCLAMATION!

The Cubs have talented, likable players.

False, all of it. Who exactly is talented (other than Starlin Castro) and who is likable (other than Marlon Byrd)? And I challenge you to name a single player (OK, maybe Starlin there too) much less multiple players who are both talented and likable.

As a group, though, they are not inspiring. Nor do they have a better overall roster than the St. Louis Cardinals, despite an 11-4 triumph over their archrival Wednesday night.

Well I had no damn clue about any of this. Did anyone else? I mean, I didn’t before Morosi dropped all this knowledge on us from high above.

This type of shit helps!!!

They have a chance to contend in the National League Central because, in this division, a decent lineup and capable pitchers will do that for you. They could finish better than .500.

No they don’t and no they won’t. They’ll be “contending” for 4th, just like they were last year (they finished 5th). And if they dump a couple players like they should (cough…Byrd…chortle) they’ll actually be worse than they already are, which is really saying something.

Teams that rank near the bottom of the league in the game’s essential skills — namely, scoring and preventing runs — tend not to win titles. Right now the Cubs are one of those teams.

OK, this one was written by a 3rd grader, right? I mean, surely… Uh, let me see —-> I got it, some 3rd grader from Wilmette tweeted this to him and Morosi promised to use it in one of his “articles.” OK, maybe a 4th grader since two “-‘s” were used. Ugh.

When play began Wednesday, the Cubs ranked 13th among the 16 National League teams in runs scored and 14th in fewest runs allowed. If that makes them sound like a fourth-place club, it’s because that is what they are — one game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Yeah, he flirted with it up there when he used little Johnny from Wilmette’s paragraph, but here comes Morosi’s stat bombing in earnest. Yeah, those are pretty shitty stats that lead me and my alcohol-soaked brain to believe that…

This is not a bad team.

Wait, what?!? No, no this is very much a BAD TEAM.

But it is a confusing one. Prior to Wednesday’s game, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry pointed out that his team has the league’s second-highest overall batting average but the second-lowest average with runners in scoring position. Huh? “That means the lineup’s doing a pretty good job of getting on,” Hendry said. “We’re just not getting them in. Let’s hope it gets contagious the other way.”

Did you watch any of the 2010 Cubs JP Morosi? I mean, any of them? 1 damn game? This was their problem for the entirety of last season. RISP = guaranteed outs. This shit isn’t news.

It was that way Wednesday. Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook lost his command after a 53-minute rain delay, and the Cubs responded with a six-run third inning. They went 7 for 13 with runners in scoring position. They rapped five extra-base hits. They looked terrific. But blowouts can deceive.

So it took an hour long rain delay for the Cub’s bats to wake up? No. The Cardinals got Dusty’d sending Westbrook back out there. They’re lucky his arm didn’t fall off.

I still wonder who will drive in runs when it matters most.

I sure as hell don’t because I’ve already seen this team and I already know the freaking answer: no one will. You seem to assume that runs are going to be driven in at all. In reality, bad baseball teams don’t drive in runs with a whole lot of regularity. That’s the way its always been. Who’s going to drive in runs? Everyone will sporadically. However, not one player on this POS team will see 80 RBI’s on the back of his baseball card next year.

Aramis Ramirez used to be that guy. He finished with 100 RBI or more six times from 2001 through 2008. Very quietly, he was one of the best clutch hitters in baseball for the better part of the past decade.

And very quietly since 2008 he’s sucked ass. It might have a little something to do with him tearing his shoulder apart diving for a ground ball in Milwaukee in May of 2009. Do you not remember how poorly he started last season? (No because you didn’t watch any Cubs baseball in 2010) Or it may just be that he’s (gasp!) on the decline as a professional baseball player. How many guys follow up their first decade being “one of the best clutch hitters in baseball” with a second decade of being one of the best clutch hitters in baseball? Answer —> not many.

But because of injuries and a steady decline in power, he averaged 74 RBI during the past two seasons. This year he’s again on track for 70. As a cleanup hitter, that’s simply not enough. (By the way, this is why the Cubs need Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder next year. Let’s agree to revisit that subject in November, OK?)

OK, so he notes injuries (He’s had them his whole career essentialy and/or been out of shape). And no dipshit, 70 RBI’s isn’t enough from your #4 hitter. That’s a big reason why the Cubs suck ass. And what the hell does the last part even mean? Everyone knows the Cubs need a long term solution at first. I’m not revisiting shit with you in Novermber, OK?

Ramirez’s drop in production would be less of an issue if the Cubs had a true slugger in the No. 3 spot. But they don’t. As of Wednesday morning, their No. 3 hitters ranked next to last in the majors with a .576 OPS. Yes. Next to last.

So hitting at the 3 spot is the problem now? Is that what we’re going with? Or is this in addition to ARam?

Marlon Byrd has been the Cubs’ primary third hitter, with a brief (unsuccessful) interlude by the brilliant and frustrating Starlin Castro. He batted seventh and sixth during the past two games, suggesting the Cubs won’t rush to put the 21-year-old back into a role that demands steady run production. More than anything, the Cubs want Castro to swing at strikes. First things first, you know.

No wait, Marlon Byrd’s the problem? Good god, the negatives with this team seem to be mounting. Are you sure this team can contend? And don’t bring Starlin into this. He’s one of the few (only?) guys in that clubhouse who will still be in it 5 years down the road.

** Morosi rambles on for a little bit here saying essentially that Byrd isn’t a power hitter (no shit) and that Alfonso Soriano is overpaid (no fucking shit). **

The Cubs’ best hope is that Carlos Peña turns into a middle-of-the-order monster. He did it with Tampa Bay, reaching the 100-RBI mark in ’07, ’08 and ’09. He had a two-hit, two-RBI game Wednesday. Still, I wonder whether there is a reason the Cubs have not attempted to use him in the No. 3 or No. 4 spot.

Holy shit, now he’s getting in the flow. So Carlos Pena isn’t a problem but a potential SOLUTION !?! Oh dear. Let’s revisit Carlos Pena’s 2011 season in November, OK? Ugh

I know it’s early. I know it’s been cold. But it’s been early and cold for the Cardinals, too, and their 3-4-5 has been devastating — even if Pujols doesn’t look like Pujols quite yet. The Cubs’ rotation will pitch better than it has, yet we can’t say that it will give them any discernible advantage over the Cardinals, Reds or Brewers. They’re all about the same.

Wait a minute… (I just ran to the bathroom because I thought I was going to throw up.) So in the Central, not only is St. Louis good but Cincy and Milwaukee are too? But the Cubs can still compete with all of them? Are you sure? Because I think you’re actually too stupid to realize that you’re doing a fairly decent job of, which is… oh fuck it, you get it… I think.

It should be noted that Quade’s positivity has been, and will be, an excellent influence on this team. He has talked with his players about the importance of maintaining their usual approach at the plate in RBI situations. He doesn’t want failures with men in scoring position to affect their defensive play, as it may have in Tuesday’s loss. Hitters are taking extra batting practice, trying to swing their way out of it, a sign that they are responding well to a first-year manager.

“The video room is like a bakery on Sunday,” the manager said. “This group works.”

Jesus, a bakery on Sunday? What does that mean? And does it have anything to do with Jeff Baker? I’m thinking the video room is more like a bakery on Tuesday if you know what I mean… (You don’t)

Yet it will take much more than effort for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series. As a fan of the game and owner of a sympathetic heart, I hope that it happens someday. But it won’t be in 2011.

And mercifully, it ends. And in true hack fashion, he vaguely alludes to something from the next to last paragraph to close out his miserable piece and kind of clumsily brings it all to a close. But just to make sure, he reminds us all that the Cubs are not going to win the World Series this year.

Well no shit asshole.

Uncle Popov’s Slap-Ass College Football Pre-vaganza!

Ed. note: This Pre-vaganza was supposed to run yesterday but we had a problem with the presses here at Uncle Popov Towers. All apologies.

Not exactly a preview. Not particularly extravagant. Hell, its not even all that good. Its an Uncle Popov Pre-vaganza!

Before we get started ——-> Let’s listen to this first. Why? I don’t freaking know.

Hi all, Jubbo here, and most people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder do so in the winter. I don’t. I’m SAD in the summer because its too damn hot, its boring as hell, and there isn’t a decent sport anywhere to be seen. Summer’s OVA bitches. Let’s do this.

So, Uncle Popov and I both graduated from an SEC school so we like college football. Actually, my Uncle also graduated from an ACC school, but we don’t like to talk about that. Well actually he might, but who gives a damn? Speaking of the SEC —–>

– Florida and Alabama will have a sweet ass rematch in Atlanta again this year. Boring prediction? Sure. Like looking into a crystal ball? Yep.
– The Iron Bowl will decide who goes to Atlanta from the West. Alabama will not lose the Iron Bowl this year. Florida’s ticket will be punched long before late November.
– An SEC coach will be fired this year. Or “put family before football” or whatever they decide to say in order to spin it.
– What’s that? Who’s overrated? Auburn and South Carolina. And Ole Miss, with or without Masoli. And underrated you ask? Kentucky
– At any rate, I’ll be watching Kentucky wax Louisville’s ass at the UK bar and then I’ll cab it up furiously to the Alabama bar in time to watch UA play against Northridge High or whoever it is they’re playing to open the season. Say? You don’t care what I’ll be doing on Happy College Football Day? Well who the hell asked you?
– Beer. Bourbon.

But enough about the SEC. Now let’s watch this one. Why? Don’t fucking ask me again.

Let’s now pretend like the rest of the college football landscape matters. Ready? You’d better freaking be.

– Ohio St. Yeah, I actually hope they have to face another SEC team to end the season. They’re cute.
– I hope Boise St. beats Va Tech by 50 and everyone else by 75-100. I really do. I’ll never forget where I was or how exciting that Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma was and you shouldn’t either. Except, I guess, if you’re an Oklahoma fan.
– Speaking of Oklahoma, let’s just not anymore, ok?
– I guess someone will win the Pac-10, right? Who… What? Uh? Oh, you want me to finish. …givesafuck?
– The Big East doesn’t deserve a BCS berth.
– Notre Dame
– Who/what else am I missing? Oh yeah, another sweet vid to bring us home:

Football’s back. I’m happy again. You should be too. I guess…

NOTHING’S HAPPENING!!1!

Look at how much fun we're having!

Good afternoon. Jubbo here and I *THINK* I’ve got two more Cubs posts in me. We’ll see. Here’s the first (and maybe last) one:

Back in March I wrote this. Let's take a look back at it, shall we? Huh? Oh no, you're coming!!
*grabs wrist and jerks*

1.) Marlon Byrd: I actually think hoss will hit well. I mean, he’ll hit better than any of the other “baseball players” the Cubs have trotted out in CF during my lifetime. But I actually cringe at the thought of this guy, whose individual legs have perhaps more girth than my entire waistline, continually “fielding” frozen ropes blasted to the gaps off our shitty pitching staff (more on that later). Seriously, Byrd’s “gonna” (see what I did there?) be a disaster out there, completely negating whatever positives he brings to the plate. Unless he runs headfirst into the outfield wall and goes on the DL. Then he can’t even hit.

Yeah, I whiffed pretty badly on this one. Marlon’s not only hit well but played incredible defense all season long. Hell, he helped win the All Star game for the NL with an incredible defensive play. He’s up for a Gold Glove out there as well. Easily the most likable player on the Cubs, I just feel bad for the guy since losing seems to follow him. He leaves Texas? They’re one of the best teams in baseball. He shows up on the Northside of Chicago? They might lose 100 games.

2.) Rudy J: For all the hype this old man gets, I guaran-damn-tee you his holy powers have met their match dealing with Soriano and Fukudome. Fact.

I’m not really sure what the Cubs new batting coach has done this season to be honest. The offense has been just flat out disgusting, almost entirely due to the fact that the Cubs are the just about the untimeliest(chokeiest?) hitting team in the history of baseball. I don’t know how much of that is Jaramillo’s fault. I do know though that (not stat-quoting/whoring, you can look it up if you want) that Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Fukudome in particular, and most of the rest of the Cubs in general, have had just awful offensive years. Hitting. They suck at it.

Soriano actually has had a solid year. Tyler Colvin has emerged as at least a serviciable if not good option for years to come. Soto has been excellent (OBP!). Castro hitting over .300. Rudy J? I don’t freaking know.

3.) Xavier Nady: He’s starting the season on the DL. There’s a decent chance his arm falls off sometime in June.

.231/4/23

4.) Gregg Maddux: Is this some hybrid creature formed by the union of Gre*g* Maddux and Greggy wegs? Read all about how Maddux found a way to get back on the Cubs payroll and not really do a damn thing here.

I think I saw Maddux on tv when the Cubs were on their West Coast swing back after the All Star break. I think.

5.) New Owners Ricketts = more flexibility at the trade deadline: Just “gonna” (theme?) let that one stand for itself.

…Pauses…

Nope, just can’t do it: The “new owners” actually know a little bit about making money, unlike the Cubs previous, shitty owner. The same reason we didn’t splash any cash over the *HOT FUCKING STOVE* is the same reason we won’t splash any before the trade deadline: Donuts Hendry backloaded too many contracts and we don’t have any goddamn money! Hell, Hendry backloaded Byrd’s contract this past winter just because it was the only chance he had at pissing away money. Well, I mean the only chance since he threw a wad of cash at John Grabow.

Yeah, the Cubs sucked so much ass that they were actually sellers at the deadline. And the Ricketts? Let’s just say they’ve had an interesting (rocky?) virginal year in owning their cute favowite widdle baseball team and leave it at that for now.

6.) Aramis Ramirez: I love A-Ram and am not going to say anything bad about him here (he’s not very good at defense). OOPS! Poor guy is just too injury prone and I fear it could come back to peck him directly in the ass again during the 2010 season. Its not his fault, right? I mean, Its not like the guy fucks off to the DR every Winter and focuses soley on cockfighting, right?

ARam sucks and is hurt. Great thing he doesn’t have a player option for the last year of his contract! Wait, what?

7.) Rebounding players: Geo is skinny again. That’s all I (and anyone else) got.

Geo’s had a nice year. Soriano too, I guess. Every other single returning player “rebounded’ straight down the toilet. Marmol? What good is a lights out closer on a team that is on pace to lose 95-100 games?

8.) Pitching Depth Runs Deep: I *REALLY* want to let this one stand on its own. Eh, fuck it:

We’ve got some work to do with our pitching though, we really do.” from Sweet Lou via the Trib

Dempster’s been solid, Lilly too before he left us and Silva was good in the first half. Of course, he almost died a couple weeks back. Marmol has over 100 damn K’s in 60-some-odd innings (look at my vast research!). Everyone else has been FLAT AWFUL.

9.) Cubs Farm System: is a shambles. And I’m not linking a goddamn thing about it.

I probably whiffed on this one as well. OK, maybe I fouled it off. Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin are in the running for ROY (neither one of them will get it). Andrew Cashner came up and was effective for a while. Now he just looks like a bum. The rest of them that have been called up are awful. So maybe I did get this one right. Either way, Castro and Colvin have put some pretty nice icing on a cake made up mostly of shit and garbage. Who would eat a cake made up of mostly shit and garbage?

10.) Addition by Subtraction: Yes, Milton Bradley is gone. And so is Chad Fox (who’s arm was never here to begin with). But, will the addition by subtraction equation come out to a few more victories than the 83 wins the Cubs posted in ’09?

I just don’t have it in me to talk about this one. This is a bad baseball team. And due to money issues and bad contracts, its going to get worse before it gets better.

I think I did OK with this rant back in March, Marlon Byrd notwithstanding. The Cubs have a lot of guys making a lot of money who just don’t produce. Anything. They’ve got them on the field, on the bench and upstairs in the frickin’ front office. They’re a mess. And although I didn’t think it was going to be this bad, I told you it wasn’t gonna happen.

Rick Pitino: Dirtbag

Am I a corpse?So Rick Pitino’s extortion trial started. He had, by all acounts, a very brief sexual encounter with some old Louisville huer up on a table at Porcini’s in Louisville back whenever the fuck it all happened, I can’t be bothered to look up the date. This much we do know though.

But Pitino the victim? Wow…

And before I go any further, Rick Pitino isn’t a sex-addict; he’s a shitbag. He banged(?) a money grubber after he’d been out golfing and drinking all day and it’s come back to bite him in the ass. He got her pregnant, he paid for her abortion and he set her up with some sugar daddy new husband that was already employed within the UofL Athletic Department. I’m not linking any of it because you can all look it up for yourselves. Rick Pitino did all those things. All for 15 fucking seconds on a tabletop. Good lord. Is Karen Sypher a sex addict? Probably not. But even if she is, focusing on her “addiction” missed the damn point about as badly as Aramis Ramirez misses a mid-90’s fastball right down the goddamn middle of the plate. In other words, if you don’t watch the Cubs, Doyel whiffs and looks like an asshole doing it.

What bothers me most in all this disgusting story isn’t Rick. Nope. Its actually his employer, the University of Louisville. Where have they been throughout this whole process? Do they have anything to say during the trial of their most public employee? Does Pitino’s boss Tom Jurich, who only wears borrowed ties, have anything to say? Nah, not really, other than the fact that UofL gave Pitino a goddamn “loyalty bonus” back in the Spring, long after his little table top fling had already occured. LOYALTY BONUS? Why wasn’t he fired?


Pitino hasn’t been fired yet because of the absurdly-named KFC Yum! Center, that’s why. Louisville, like the small minded river town that it actually is, hemmed and fucking hawed about an arena for years, finally breaking ground on the NBA-quality structure in late 2008. The only problem? The main money maker for the main tenant of the building had sex on top of a table with a locally-known whore and later paid for her abortion during the same time that anyone could’ve gone downtown and scrawled their initials in the newly-poured foundation of the $200+ million dollar riverside monument. UH OH!

So what was UofL supposed to do? Fire their coach who has a National Championship and multiple Final Fours on his CV? Would you have done that? Would you have done it even if you were staying in your old dump down on the fairgrounds? I don’t think I would have. But i damn sure wouldn’t have fired the best coach the university has ever had while I was opening a new arena that the university and the city couldn’t afford to begin with.

This dirtbag had a city by the balls at the same time some old gold digger had him by the actual balls. And no one involved was even remotely aware of it all, which is the point: No one involved in college athletics seems to really care about college athletics. They care about money and power and I guess occasionally having sex on top of restaurant tables. They break rules and when the hammer is about to drop, they move to Seattle and avoid any penalty whatsoever. They change their school’s conference affiliation at the drop of a hat all the while talking about tradition and respect.

Pitino’s still out recruiting. And he’s still employed by UofL. And they’re still a member of the Big East, a BCS conference that competes within the NCAA. And he will be for as long as he wants.

Dirtbags.

Uncle Popov LIVE!! (half assed)

OH SHIT!! UPDSR’s gonna live-blag the MLS allstars vs. ManU. Boom!

They’re interviewing Landon Donovan right now and whether or not he’s actually going to leave California full time and bother going to play sawker in Europe. Just do it you giant puss. You showed you belong during your stint at Everton, the People’s Club.

Its been a few weeks since the end of the World Cup but ALEXI LALAS IS STILL A LOATHESOME HUMAN BEING. Ugh…

Coverage started 20 minutes ago and they still haven’t bothered starting. I wonder what Matt Schaub is doing right now?

O/U on the times “Sir” is used in reference to Alex Ferguson, a title he received from a country we revolted from?: 58

And with that, at 7:53 PM CST we are underway!

1 minutes: HAHA. And HAHA. United have scored. Macheda pokes in after an awful pass back by whoever the fuck is defending for MLS.

5 minutes: Its settled down now but it can’t be understated how awful MLS look at the beginning. Something else just happened with the MLS goalkeeper that I couldn’t see because I essentially hunt and peck.

11 minutes: At this point, United will win this 5-0 at least. I actually hope it happens. I get so damn tired of MLS taking credit for beating English/Euro teams while they’re just beginning prep for the upcoming season.

And United score again. 2-0

14 minutes: Giggs called for a foul that he just doesn’t deserve that leads to a free kick from Juan Pablo Angel, ex Villa man, thats saved by Edwin Van der Sar.

20 minnutes: Not a lot going on. Some lobbing of the ball back and forth. I have to say that the turnout for this game seems to be very strong.

I attended this game in 2006 when MLS Allstars played Chelsea in Chicago and the game didn’t fill 20,000 seat Toyota Park. Good for MLS and soccer in the US as a whole.

24 minutes: I’m also pecking out a new rant to be published later in the evening. The topic? Who cares?!?

26 minutes: MLS keeps trying to steal a goal but it just isn’t going to happen, and I’m pretty damn sure I don’t see Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand out there, which is even more embarrassing. United will score AT LEAST another goal before half. MLS will not.

30 minutes: This game sucks and I may not do UP LIVE!! during the second half. I still hope United win 10-0.

GK shirt for United seems to have Zubaz-inspired sleeves.

33 minutes:: Rob Stone is filling us in on SIR Alex!!

34 minutes: Think I just saw the crowd doing the damn wave. Thats when I sign off. I fucking hate the wave.

39 minutes: Meh.

42 minutes: UP LIVE!! was a mistake for this garbage game. To hell with it. And to hell with the MLS. Darren Fletcher with a scorcher off the bar right there. What is anyone gaining from this game? Its like watching a damn And-1 bball game.

44 minutes: Nothing.

And thats it. I’ll never start another one of these for some garbage ass soccer game in July. We all learned something from tonight, no?

Uncle Popov LIVE!!

Yeah, yeah, yeeaahh!

Its time. For what you might ask? For another segment of UP LIVE!! you goddamn idiot! I’m going to intermittently post about King James and his impending decision and as always pretend that anyone, anywhere is actually reading. LET’S DO THIS SHIT.

5:41 PM CST: Diane Sawyer and all her global resources at ABC News are reporting that LeBron will more than likely end up in Miami, one of the main reasons being the state of Florida doesn’t have a state income tax. Breaking news there.

5:43 PM: They mentioned something about the economic impact on each city that are still a player in the LBJ sweepstakes. I honestly didn’t listen bc I just do not care about that kind of shit. ABC “World” News also promises to revisit this story before they sign off tonight. They also had some stooge on the scene of the Boys/Girls Club or whatever it is from which our regal King will be making his announcement. I nearly pissed myself at the mere sight of its brick facade.

5:57 PM: ABC are basically replaying ESPN’s sports science or whatever the hell its called discussing LBJ’s freakish build/athleticism, etc. Yawn…

But don’t forget, Robin Roberts and GMA will have LeBron’s first interview AD tomorrow morning!!

Part of the reason I’m doing this is, as my dear Uncle mentioned in a post earlier, *NO ONE* knows a goddamned thing about any of this. Nothing. And it speaks to what journalism, in particular sports journalism, has become in today’s world. There is no reporting. None. No one does any legwork. And ESPN is the biggest culprit. They gave a mouthpiece to Stephen A. Smith to sling shit at the wall. And he’s still doing it. More often then not, something will stick. Now they trot out Chris Broussard, who I’m still not convinced has a basic grasp on the English language, to um… and ahh…. for a few hours and remind us, ad fucking nauseum, that its all a “fluid situation.”

These people get on Twitter and tell you what they just read *ON TWITTER*. Its awful and if this farcical “Summer of 2010” has done anything, its proven that mainstream sports journalism in the United States is *DEAD*. D-O-fucking-A. Its not the “reporters/insiders” fault that they still collect a (huge) check. Its their employer’s.

6:19 PM: Local 6 o’clock news has yet to even mention a damn thing about anything LeBron. Its probably due to the fact that Jim Rose is involved.

6:23 PM Rose just let us know that Chris Broussard is reporting that LBJ is going to Miami. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT.

6:45 PM: I flipped over to ESPN briefly but just couldn’t stay yet. I’m probably going to go make a sandwich soon. I got sucked in to some PBS news story about University of Alabama professors down on the Gulf Coast working against the oil and tar balls washing up.

7:02 PM: ESPN with an unbelievably dramatic intro to [GASP…] THE DECISION.

I just truly didn’t know there were this many NBA fans in this country. And I absolutely LOVE basketball. I grew up in both Kentucky and Indiana. I didn’t have a choice. But I just wasn’t aware that there were this many people who gave a shit about basketball in this country. Football? Of course. Baseball? Maybe. Basketball? No way. I’ve witnessed (!) entirely too many basketball games with awful (paltry?) attendance.

Do we really care about basketball?

7:17 PM: I’ve begun making a sandwich. I won’t eat it over the computer. ESPN, which you all have access to, is running tape of player interviews re: LeBron. Exciting.

I just don’t think LBJ is going to Miami. I just don’t think its going to happen. How’s THAT for reporting? Wade County and all, right?

7:46 PM: ESPN have brought back in TIM LEGLER and he is mentioning *SKILL SETS* and he knows what he’s talking about, right? This is all getting extremely exciting.

7:53 PM: ESPN ARE ON COMMERCIAL!!

7:55 PM: I’ve not cocked my neck over to glance at the TV but I’m pretty sure that I just heard Stu Scott’s voice, which would only serve to bring this farce around full circle.

I just glanced over and Scott is in fact inviolved. As is Jon Barry.

GOOD LORD.

7:59 PM: ESPN have announced their “findings” re: their online poll. Its “real life stuff” as some white guy sitting in ESPN studios just mentioned.

Journalism.

8:03 PM: HERE WE GO! Chris Broussard is an embarrassment to humanity.

8:12 PM meh… ESPN have shown us LBJ in various team’s #6 jerseys. Good lord I really get the feeling that the media doesn’t realize that the rest of us have internet access.

8:23 PM: OH SHIT! LeBron is on TV *RIGHT NOW*

8:27 PM: King keeps talking.

8:28 PM: Did he just choose Miami? I honestly don’t know. Christ this is stupid.

He just chose Miami. Good for him. Good luck with all of it. When does football start?

Uncle Popov LIVE!!

I’m going to type about soccer here during Germany/Australia. I’m also going to actually pretend that people are reading! Ready?

And we are under way! I won’t say one thing about the vuvuzelas other than I FUCKING HATE THEM AND ANYONE WHO HAS EVER EVEN CONSIDERED BLOWING INTO ONE. And at 3 minutes, the Socceroos almost score. Header, deflection, fierce shot, yet nothing.

Surely Germany will not only hold a clean sheet in the matchup, but also score a couple goals. And as I very slowly type that, Mr. World Cup himself Miroslav Klose almost scores and someone else in white also almost blasts in Klose’s rebound.

8 minutes: And that man Podolski, blasts one in. Laser. 1-0 Germany

11 minutes: Ozil with a yellow for Germany for diving. Referee making his feelings know early on that subject. Can this ref run proceedings in Italy’s games as well?

Has Germany’s crest changed on their shirts? It seems as if it has. And what in the hell are Australia wearing?

16 minutes: Podolski tried again but Schwarzer nabs it. Germany will win this one handily at this rate. Will Australia even get another SOG in the first half?

What is Oliver Kahn up to these days? And for that matter, Jens Lehmann?

19 minutes Some Aussie with a shot into orbit. I honestly can’t name many Socceroos and up until yesterday, had completely forgotten about Harry Kewell.

23 minutees: Should have been a goal there by Klose. A low cross by Podolski(!) and all it needed was a tap by Klose, who apparently is in awful form. I wouldn’t know, as Fox Soccer Channel STOPPED TELEVISING THE BUNDESLIGA. . Podolski would fit in really well in the Premiership. Won’t Man City buy him?

25 or 26 minutes(?): Klose gets his head on that one. Podolski’s opposite, whoever that is, puts a Beckham-esque cross right on Klose’s head. 2-0 Germany and this one could get ugly. Or boring, either one.

Germany, Serbia and Ghana actually make for a very difficult group. Just an awful draw for Australia and a good team is going to go home in a few days, perhaps Serbia at this point, which is a shame. They looked like ass today though, to be fair. Serbia/Germany could be a good one though, especially if Serbia leave that poor man’s Peter Crouch on the bench.

35 minutes: There’s absolutely nothing happening in this game at the moment.

37 minutes: Germany waste a corner.

38 minutes: Germany just on another level compared to the other teams I’ve seen in this World Cup. I admittedly haven’t seen every game, though.

40 minutes: Podolski again. Good lord. A perfectly weighted pass on the floor to the diver, who can’t finish. Germany really trying for another one before the break.

45 minutes: Eh, this half is over, with one more minute of injury time to come.

HT: Germany 2-0 Australia

Germany have essentially strikers for defenders who not only defend well but can just blast SOG’s on you at a moment’s notice. With Podolski up front and Lahm and the diver coming up from the back. Germany will go far in this tournament, which I wasn’t sure they’d do, especially after I saw Ballack go down with that ankle injurt

Germany, to use a not only tired but perhaps dead phrase, was clinical. Australia, um, might not score a goal this tournament, barring a penalty. They won’t score in the second half against Germany and I just can’t see them scoring against Nemanja Vidic and company either. Can they put one in against the Black Stars? Honestly, who cares?

And we’ve come in late here in the US with I think(?) a substitution.

Ally McCoist just isn’t the same commentator coming out of the half. He’s essentially grunting and gasping into the mike in, I think, the English language.

52 minutes: Everyone is pinging the ball around and only occasionally does the ball leave the floor. Its gotten boring. As I type, Muller has sent a shot, with more precise buildup akin to what we saw in the first half from Germany, over the bar.

55 minutes: Oh dear. Everton’s Tim Cahill has been sent off with a straight red on, I think, Schweinsteiger. Cahill was there late, but a straight red? I think the Mexican ref has gotten it wrong.

59 minutes: Klose playing well. Almost had another one there. Should’ve finished.

Germany have essentially strikers as defenders. They not only defend well, but will blast one past you at a moment’s notice. Podolski, Lahm, the diver. I wasn’t sure about Germany this year, especially when I saw Ballack get stamped on in the FA Cup Final a few weeks ago. But they look damn good.

65 minutes: Klose with another chance wide. This really should be a rout.

67 minutes: Muller puts it in off the post, after a nice fake. 3-0 Germany and it really could be much, much worse.

70 minutes: Oh my. Cacau with a goal some of the children I saw earlier while on my run could have scored. A sitter as they say. 4-0 Germany and this is all getting a bit gross. Can we do something about Oceania qualifying? Seriously.

75 minutes: Announcers have stopped talking about the game and moved onto Rugby and swimming in the Indian Ocean. Why not just start the wave?

81 minutes: Germany going for 5-0 at least. They probably deserve it.

83 minutes: Wow. Whoever the German goalkeeper is just had to make a save. Honestly haven’t seen him since that opening attempt on goal.

86 minutes: I’ve stopped watching.

90 + 1: For some reason they’ve given 3 minutes injury time. Australia, representing Oceanic football, are an embarrassment. Won’t watch another game they’re involved in.

FT: Germany 4:0 Australia

This was fun for me. I’m probably going to do it again. I look forward to Germany playing a real team, hopefully one with 11 men for 90 minutes. Still, Germany are the best looking team BY FAR so far in this World Cup. Who *CAN’T* put a shot on target in the Germany starting 11?

If I’m not mistaken, the team finishing second (which will be the US) will face the winner from Group Germany, err, I mean Group D.

DO NOT FACE GERMANY.

TODAY at Uncle Popov…

Hi all, Jubbo here furiously pecking away deep within Uncle Popov Towers and with so much going on in the big wide world of sport, who can blame me? YOU certainly can’t, that much I do know.

Where to begin? How about with the World Cup? Nah, fuck it. Conference realignment is apparently underway in the NCAA and it is all honestly unbelievable. Someone also won a major sports trophy last night which has made me scared to go out in public. And all joking aside, the inarguably biggest and arguably best sporting event in the world kicks off tomorrow, pitting Mexico and their off-putting national anthem salute against the host country, who I honestly didn’t even know played soccer. And we can always talk about baseball, though I’m honestly about done with it for this season.

And so it will be a (hopefully) very active time around here at Uncle Popov… in the coming weeks. Here are some things I’ll personally be drunkenly ranting about:

– My increasingly negative attitude towards college athletics.
– A look back at entries I was going to write but never got around to. I am, after all, a deadbeat blogger.
– I’m also considering live-blaggin’ a World Cup match or two, blatantly copying The Guardian’s awesome minute-by-minute reports from years past.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter. Our aggressive marketing campaign has us with a projected double digit following by 2011.

Champions