Did that really happen? The Sports Hangover arrives to help those inebriated from the weekend’s action to see reality through the haze.
Betters Rebel Against Bookies
Seattle opened as a 2-point Super Bowl favorite only to have early action flip the favorite. We live in a democracy, and if the betting public votes with their money that Denver-Seattle is a pick ‘em–or Denver’s game to lose–who am I to gainsay their decision? A bettor puts his money where his mouth is. We lucked out that no team lucked into the Super Bowl. The Seahawks and Broncos are the NFL’s two best teams. Fans have believed this for most of the season. The playoffs merely affirmed their suspicions. Denver and Seattle’s dominance may seem redundant, given that both made it to the Super Bowl. But half the time the big game doesn’t feature the best teams. It often pits a great team against a lucky team, a hot team, or an overachieving team. But in two weeks, the NFL’s best offense faces off with the NFL’s best defense a stone’s throw from the scenic Vince Lombardi rest stop. Is the best defense a good offense? The game will determine the truth of the cliché.
Blood on the Ice
Isn’t starting a hockey game with your fourth line another way of announcing that this isn’t going to be a hockey game? The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks accumulated 188 penalty minutes in the first period of Saturday night’s game. That’s almost ten minutes in penalties for every minute of play. Two seconds into the game, eight players received game misconducts. Vancouver coach John Tortorella, inflamed by the goon-squad line-up confronting his somewhat goonish Canucks, launched a failed invasion of the Flames locker room after the bloody first period. Where did his players learn to behave so violently? “I just don’t understand,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said of his Canucks counterpart. “I got out of there. I don’t need to get suspended or fined.” Doesn’t he? Players didn’t start this fight. Coaches, who started lines that might as well have been the Fabulous Freebirds, did.
Big Goon Olbermann v. Hockey Goon’s 13-Year-Old Sister
Vancouver tough guy Tom Sestito, who uncharacteristically did not receive a game misconduct in the Saturday night massacre despite bloodying Calgary enforcer Brian McGrattan, has enjoyed an interesting week. The world learned that Sestito never runs from a fight–and that fighting apparently runs in the Sestito family.
It took two seconds of Saturday night’s game for Sestito to scrap. In last Monday’s game against the Kings, one second elapsed before he got into it and got kicked out of it. Stan Jonathan calls that the “best week ever.” Keith Olbermann called Sestito the “worst person in the sports world.” His offense? Racking up twenty-seven minutes of penalties in just one second of play. “I’d describe him as a hockey player, except he’s not,” the ESPN late-night host explained on Tuesday. “Last night he played his 101st NHL game. He has nine career goals, four career assists in those 101 games, so to break Wayne Gretzky’s NHL goals record he’d need to play about 10,000 games.” Olbermann points out that Sestito has compiled 342 career minutes in penalties in his short NHL career, calling the enforcer a “six-foot-five-inch, two-hundred-twenty-eight-pound, boxing hobo on skates.”
Victoria Sestito didn’t take kindly to the insult, tweeting, “$7,268 for 1 second of work. That’s probably just a little bit more than your liberal left wing ass makes.” The thirteen-year-old followed it up telling the well-traveled host, “the Sestito household enjoys your arrogant left wing blurbs and we are looking forward to your next firing:)”–indicating the New York hockey family’s low opinion of the ESPNFoxSportsMSNBCCurrentNBCTBSESPN2 host.
“No clue who she was,” Olbermann explained to the Twittericans on learning he had been sparring with a middle school student. “If she wants to hide behind her age she shouldn’t have been rude to me.”
She’s thirteen. What’s Keith’s excuse?
After Further Review by the Football Gods….
What the referees did to NaVorro Bowman is called adding insult to injury (twelfth-man fans tossing stale popcorn upon his carted-off-the-field body rates some more powerful phrase not yet invented). After stripping the ball from Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse near the goal line, the San Francisco linebacker clearly maintained possession–grounded and alone with the ball for a long moment prior to the inevitable scrum–despite suffering a horrific leg injury. The refs missed what the cameras clearly captured. No problem. Review it, right? Alas, the byzantine rules of the NFL prohibit that, and I get why in most cases (what happens in the pile stays in the pile). But no ambiguity existed here: a downed Bowman possessed the ball in plain sight. What’s the reasoning behind automatically reviewing turnovers if you can review a fumble but not a fumble recovery?
But a power greater than the nerds in the review booth exists in the great review booth in the sky. They’re called the football gods. Lombardi, Grange, Thorpe, and Payton reviewed the injustice. They ordered a sloppy Russell Wilson-Marshawn Lynch exchange, which shortly returned the ball to its rightful owners. This saved San Francisco (who promptly turned the ball over themselves) from a Seattle score. More importantly, it saved America from woulda-shoulda-coulda counterfactual whining and a tainted Super Bowl berth. The great and powerful football gods are also good. All hail!
Paul George, 360
Indiana Pacer Paul George going Harlem Globetrotters by going 360 in an NBA game, rather than in a playground dunking competition, demonstrates that the league’s players appreciate entertaining their fans–even if such showboating drives purists crazy–more than athletes in any other major sport. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture must be worth many, many more. Your dunk, Larry Nance.
Most Receivers Prefer Stickem, Not Vaseline
Message to Kellen Winslow: when reenacting the Phoebe Cates-Judge Reinhold pool/bathroom scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a Target parking lot may not be the most appropriate venue. The underachieving tight end, arrested in November for possessing synthetic marijuana–he doesn’t keep it real, I guess–insists he wasn’t pleasuring himself in his SUV, just changing clothes, when a fellow shopper allegedly stumbled upon the member of the Jets and the Jet’s member. The police report not-so-cryptically notes the discovery of “two open containers of Vaseline on his center console.”
Rehab Is the New Confession
Dressing up in a wedding gown, nose rings, and unnaturally colored hair always got Dennis Rodman the right kind of publicity. But it’s hard to recover from serenading a murderous dictator and suggesting that an American missionary unwillingly inhabiting warden Kim Jong-un’s prison state deserves his fate. So, like Patches Kennedy, Lindsay Lohan, and so many others, Rodman followed up his public relations debacle with a public relations coup by announcing a trip to rehab. Let the recovery tour begin.
Jim Gray-Mike Tyson > Erin Andrews-Richard Sherman
Richard Sherman’s gratuitous postgame dis of Michael Crabtree, coupled with his intense, intimidating shouting, officially makes the Erin Andrews train wreck the best worst sports interview since a “rufless” and “impetuous” Mike Tyson told Jim Gray he would eat Lennox Lewis’s children. Iron Mike didn’t dine on the British boxer’s kids. But he did eat a chunk of Lewis’s leg at a pre-fight press conference. That’s what made Gray-Tyson a better bad interview than Andrews-Sherman. The boxer wasn’t acting out because he wanted endorsements. He was acting out because he was as crazy as Sherman is calculating.