Tuesday, May 29, 2007


(This post was originally featured on the now defunct blog "If I Ran ...", where fans would post their suggestions and ideas for running a team or organization no matter how crazy.)

Admittedly, I am not a NASCAR fan. I figured I would caveat this post by saying you won’t be reading about restrictor plates, drafting, gear ratios or any other technical racing jargon. That said, I do have friends and family who are passionate about the sport. (Note: please refrain from comments on whether NASCAR is a sport or not. For the sake of this post, it is.) I just can’t get into NASCAR. So here are a few things I would do to make NASCAR more enjoyable for me. Here is what I would do If I Ran NASCAR.

Midget Pit Crews – Because everything is funnier when done by groups of little people, I would first mandate at least one driving team feature a pit crew of entirely midgets, dwarves, or any other medical classification of the vertical challenged. Remember how funny it was to watch the oompa-lumpas manage Wonka land? Now imagine a team of little people turning power wrenches, changing tires, and performing other pit duties. Included with this “little person” team is the absolute necessity that they use a trampoline to “hop” the wall separating the track from the crew area.

Weekly Eliminations – NASCAR is perhaps the only major sport in which the worst competitor is allowed to participate in every event from the beginning of the season to the end. The worst pro sports team doesn’t stick around through the championship in any other type of season. Therefore, I propose the gradual elimination of the team with the least amount of points starting after the midway point of the season. After the midway point, if you are last in points, you go home. Simple as that. Not only would this provide weekly drama at the bottom of the standings, it would also open up racing on the proceeding tracks as non-contenders will no longer be cluttering the raceway.

Rename the Award for Best Driver – Despite NASCAR’s best efforts to “flashback” to days of Richard Petty and other legends, the racing community is neglecting a far earlier chapter of its competitive roots.  Not longer. As chancellor of NASCAR, my third decree would be to name the award for best driver the Diocles Award, named after famed Roman Charioteer Gaius Appuleius Diocles.  Diocles, perhaps the greatest charioteer in Roman history, won 1,462 of the 4,257 four-horse races in which he competed. Top that, Richard Petty.

Hire the Micro Machine Man as The Voice of NASCAR – Remember the Micro Machines? Remember their commercials? If so, then you remember John Moschitta, the Voice of the Micro Machines. According to Wikipedia, Moschitta is considered one of the fastest talkers in human history. Who better to represent one of the fastest sports in America?

See Micro Machine commercial here.

Finally, Hybrid cars – Again, another admittance: I am kinda environmentally friendly. Not an ELF member by any means, but I am a strong proponent in saving the environment, recycling and the like. Therefore, decree number four would be a gradual increase in hybrid technology in NASCAR. My own personal estimate is that NASCAR races use a lot of fuel. Then why not employ hybrid technology and electric powered engines in road-like racetracks? I would understand if the technology lacks the power needed to maintain speeds needed in tracks like Daytona, but some of the road courses have far less speeds and could possibly be grounds for hybrid racing. And, as an additional spill-over effect, hybrid cars could receive a bump in prestige. After watching Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon ride someone in a wall in his bad-ass hybrid, the stereotypical NASCAR fan may not think of hybrids as cars only driven by tree-hugging, commie, city-dwellin’ liberals.

Of course, these wouldn’t be all of my changes to NASCAR. In time, I would adapt and attempt to make NASCAR more and more lucrative. Perhaps even try my hand at expanding NASCAR’s demographic. Think a car sponsored by Snoop Dogg sitting on 24s with rims that don’t spin would do the trick?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dusting off those glorious Knicks memories

I’ve often heard the brain compared to a computer and our memories likened to files we store on our cerebral hard drive. If this is true, and my brain is my most personal of personal computers, then my positive New York Knicks memories have a lot in common with the Dancing Baby mpegs I’ve had sitting dormant on my external computer since 1997. Neither my joyous Knicks memories nor the Dancing Baby have been accessed in quite a while, yet I find myself unable to delete either.

However …

In agreeing to join StopMikeLupica's cipher of Knick blogger memories, I’ve decided to put my boycott of Isiah Thomas on hold, don my John Starks jersey one more time, and dust off a few of my ancient recollections of positive Knickbocker experiences. What you are about to read may be unbelievable and, in light of recent Knicks history, you may even doubt their actual occurrence. But just as you may not believe in a time when gasoline was only $1.25 a gallon or Lisa Loeb was popular, I swear it's all true.

June 22, 1994: Knicks-Rockets, Game 7 of the 1994 Finals. Yes, the game John Starks went 2 for 18. Also the day I took my driving exam for the third time and finally passed. As one could expect, I was in full Knicks’ gear, happily sporting my new Starks jersey. It would be the first of many drivers’ license photos I took dressed as John Starks. Until recently, each time I needed to take a new license photo, out came the jersey. Yes, I even still have it. As a matter of fact, the last time I wore it in public, a bartender gave me a free pitcher of beer. Nothing wrong with that.

May 21, 1995: Knicks-Pacers, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. You might know this game as “the game Patrick Ewing missed the finger-roll”. For me however, it is “the game my great-grandmother watched with me so I didn’t have to leave my grandparents’ house until the game was over”. My parents, not the biggest basketball fans around, have an awful sense of timing sometimes. This was definitely one of those times. As the Knicks and Pacers were about to begin the fourth quarter of what I remember to be a back and forth battle, my parents decided it would a great time to end our family visit and begin our two and half hour drive home. Luckily for me, my 90-year old great-grandmother had sat next to me and started watching the game. Even better, she was actually interested. Honestly, I don’t think the woman had ever watched a basketball game before in her life. You know what? She couldn’t have picked a better one to start. Although Pat missed the final shot and I was definitely disappointed, once I realized I might not have known what happened until the next morning had she not been there, I had to thank my great-grandmother for watching with me.

May 14, 1997: Knicks-Heat, Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Wow, has it been 10 years already? I feel old. Anyway, during my time in the military, I had a roommate from Hialeah, FL, just outside of Miami. Although not a die-hard Heat fan (thank goodness) he did agree to join me at the base sports bar to watch the Knicks-Heat game. And what it a game it was. Down 86-69 with less than two minutes to play, all hell broke loose when P.J. Brown flipped Charlie Ward. Craziness. You know what happened then: undermanned for the next two games, the Knicks lost the series. Probably the worst thing about it for me however, was a 10 dollar bet I made with another friend that the Knicks would beat the Bulls in the playoffs. I was so livid at what happened to the Knicks I acted like a punk and refused to pay until the Heat were eliminated. Not one of my proudest moments. Freakin’ P.J. Brown.

Unfortunately, after surprisingly making 1999 Finals, my memorable Knicks moments have been few and far between. For the last seven years, all I’ve had have been either the occasional highlight (Nate Robinson blocking Yao, David Lee’s tip-in, etc.) or the return of heroes to the Garden (Ewing, Starks, Ward, Oakley, etc.). As I mentioned in describing my Isiah boycott, it’s enough to make a man want to grab an acoustic guitar and a bottle of whiskey and sing to the moonlit sky. But since I can’t play guitar, I guess I’ll have to find those Dancing Baby mpegs. I could use a good laugh.

Check out the other Knick blogger memories here and here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Talking Michael Vick with Navin Johnson

Born a poor black child, Navin Johnson made his mark on America when he invented Opti-grab, a small apparatus designed to make wearing and removing eye glasses easier. After a class action suit was filed against him, Johnson lost millions and was forced to return to relative obscurity. During his stay at the top, however, Johnson became famous for his passion against the mistreatment of animals, especially such heinous crimes as fish teasing, plant abusing, and pet dressing.

Unfortunately, Mr. Navin Johnson all but disappeared in the early 1980s. After nearly a week of searching, The Serious Tip was able to track down Mr. Johnson and ask him a few questions regarding the recent accusations leveled against NFL superstar Michael Vick.


The Serious Tip: Mr. Johnson, it's a pleasure to finally talk to you.

Navin Johnson: I'm Navin Johnson. What's your name sir?

TST: I’m Jordi Scrubbings from The Serious Tip and I'd like to talk with you for a moment. You know, you were quite difficult to hunt down. I had to find your name in the phone book.

NJ: Are you kidding?! Page 73, Johnson, Navin, R.! I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book every day! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity, your name in print, that makes people. I'm in print!

TST: Congratulations. Yes, yes you are. Anyway, I hear you still do promotional work here and there to stop the misuse of animals for recreational purposes. After your failed Opti-grab venture, are you able to survive on just your reputation as an animal advocate? How much are you able to bring in these days?

NJ: I don't want to say how much I'm getting, but let’s just say it’s a lot.

TST: Well, why go back into stopping animal cruelty? Why not stay in Mississippi? Why continue the work you started so long ago with Father Carlos Las Vegas De Cordova?

NJ: Well, when I was a kid my mom told me... there goes my special purpose! And someday I'd find out what my special purpose was!

TST: You and your special purpose have done great work. Mr. Johnson, I am sure you have heard of the accusations leveled at NFL superstar Michael Vick over what may or may not have happened at his spare home. What was your initial reaction?

NJ: Good Lord - I've heard about this - cat juggling! Stop! Stop! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Good. Father, could there be a god that would let this happen??

TST: Actually, Mr. Johnson, it was dog fighting, not cat juggling.

NJ: Glad you told me.

TST: So what do you think Mike Vick said to convince those dogs to participate in his vicious dog fighting tournaments?

NJ: I've heard about dogs like you! You're going to be famous! You're gonna get your picture taken and they'll put it in the paper! Gosh, this is exciting!

TST: What do you think of the fact that Roger Goodell might suspend Vick for his involvement?

NJ: Good. Shithead.

TST: So I take it you don’t like Mr. Vick?

NJ: Yes sir. I damn thee!

TST: Wow, that’s quite harsh.

If the accusations are found to be false, do you think Mike Vick can recover, and if so, what might go through his mind on his way to clear his image?

NJ: Maybe you've hit bottom, but I haven't hit bottom yet! I got a ways to go. And I'm gonna to bounce back, and when I do, I'm going to buy a diamond so big it's going to make you puke!

TST: Finally, any advice for Mr. Vick as his situation progresses?

NJ: Good luck. The Lord loves a working man, don't trust whitey, see a doctor and get rid of it.

TST: Spoken from experience, I’m sure. Thank you for your time Mr. Johnson.

NJ: O.k. Thanks for the company. I hope I can repay you someday.

Friday, May 4, 2007

NBA Referees Biased? No way!

As many sports fans have heard, there is a new study released claiming Caucasian-American (white) referees call fouls on players of African decent (black) more often than they do against players of Caucasian decent (white). This is nothing new, SportsGoons.com reported on it in 2004.

However, lost in the mainstream media's frenzy to stir up the racial pot, several other important findings on NBA referees have been overlooked. Apparently, players of African decent (black) aren't the only ones being discriminated against.

According to recent findings:

-- Female NBA referees call 100% of their fouls on men.

-- Vertically challenged (short) referees make a majority of their calls against taller players.

-- Referees with whistles predominately blow whistles against those without whistles.

-- Famous elderly referee Dick Bavetta has never called a foul against a player older than himself.

-- No referee has ever called a foul against another referee.

What an embarrassment to the game. NBA referees are not only racist, but biased against tall, athletic, young men in basketball jerseys who play a game while not wearing whistles. The travesty of it all.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Serious Tip's Favorite Baseball Literary Works

I am usually a pretty avid reader. I'll read anything, from the history of the hungry to the history of Hungary. One of my mainstays, however, is books about baseball. So naturally this week my interest was piqued when I found out one of The Serious Tip's favorite bloggers, Jay Busbee of Sports Gone South, is starting to put together a book on the 1990's history of the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, Aces and Golden Boys doesn't hit the shelves until spring 2009. (Come on, Jay, you can write quicker than that!) Even though it's the Braves, and I know Jay will be sure to mention Kenny Rogers's inability to throw a strike to Andruw Jones in 1999, I am definitely looking forward to reading Aces and Golden Boys.

In honor of Jay's upcoming book, I've decided to list my personal top 10 favorite books about baseball. As with any list, several really good books failed to make the cut. If you don't see one of your favorites and want to recommend it, feel free to comment or drop me a line.

10) Seasons in Hell by Mike Shropshire
Honestly, it's been a while since I read this, but from what I remember, Seasons in Hell was an off-beat look at the exploits of the 1973 to 1975 Texas Rangers. Although the Rangers weren't the worst team ever to grace the field of play, Shropshire writes of them as one of the most interesting. Among the subjects Shropshire covers are the always colorful Billy Martin and high school to big leagues publicity stunt/ draft pick David Clyde.

9) Hitter: The Life and Turmoils of Ted Williams by Ed Linn
Unfortunately, another book I haven't read in a while. Hitter is one of those all-encompassing books, that not only describes Ted Williams' baseball career, but his life from his childhood San Diego to his days in Boston to his managerial career with the aforementioned Texas Rangers to the early 1990s. As the book was published in 1993, it obviously doesn't cover his death and the proceeding legal mess. Thank goodness, though. Hitter is Ted Williams the way he should be remembered.

8) Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball by Al Stump
The book behind the underrated Tommy Lee Jones movie Cobb, Al Stump's look at the overly dedicated, obsessive, often psychotic Cobb is one of the best baseball biographies I have ever read. Stump, who in the movie Cobb is played by Robert Wuhl, earned Cobb's trust during his last days and also wrote the baseball Hall of Famer's baseball-only biography My Life in Baseball.

7) I Was Right on Time by Buck O'Neil
Written in 1996, I Was Right on Time is the autobiography of baseball legend Buck O'Neil. O'Neil writes about his days playing in the Negro Leagues, tales of Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige, barnstorming, coaching the Cubs, and being an ambassador to the game of baseball, to include his highly acclaimed interviews for Ken Burns's Baseball documentary. If you have ever wondered why there was such an objection when Buck O'Neil was passed over for the Hall of Fame, I suggest you read this book.

6) Amazin': The Miraculous History of New York's Most Beloved Baseball Team by Peter Golenbock
Amazin' is 626 pages of Mets history. Of course it's one of my favorites. Golenbock's history of the Mets covers the team from their woeful 1962 team, which still holds the modern era record for most losses in season, to their attempt to dethrone the Yankees in 2000. My personal synopsis of what has happened since: they aged, Bobby V. left, they stunk, Omar took over, they became good again.

5) On a Clear Day The Could See Seventh Place: Baseball's Worst Teams by George Robinson and Charles Salzberg
I'll admit, I have a soft spot for the underdog. Like other books on this list, On a Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place discusses losers. This time however, the subject isn't just one team, it is all of the worst teams to ever play the game of baseball. In order to be fair, Robinson and Salzberg picked a team from each decade, from the 1899 Cleveland Spiders to the 1988 Baltimore Orioles. Published in 1991, this book definitely needs an update - may I suggest the 1998 Marlins and the 2003 Tigers?

4) Ball Four by Jim Bouton
Bouton's bestselling Ball Four is a no-holds barred look at baseball in the late 1960s and into the early 70s. Written in diary form, Ball Four is like a player's blog long before the days of the Internet. So revealing was Bouton's not so glowing account of Mickey Mantle and several of Bouton's other Yankee teammates, the former hurler was persona non grata at Yankee Stadium for over 20 years.

3) The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
One of the classics of baseball literature. Kahn's book on the Brooklyn Dodgers is as much about Brooklyn as it is about the Dodgers. Divided into two parts, Kahn first writes of his life as a young sportswriter covering the Dodgers in the last seasons in Flatbush, including their 1956 World Championship. In the second half of the book, Kahn explores his meetings with several of the Dodger players long after their retirement and invites the readers into the twilight of his illustrious boys of summer.

2) Remembrance of Swings Past by Ron Luciano
For over 10 years, Remembrance of Swings Past was my favorite baseball book and quite possibly my overall favorite book. Like a rite of passage, every spring I would read Luciano's account of his umpiring career and his humorous views on different aspects of baseball. No other book prepared me for an upcoming season like Remembrance of Swings Past. Sadly, this 1989 book was one of Luciano's last, as he passed away in 1995. But his anecdotes live on for me every spring.

1) The Curious Case of Sidd Finch by George Plimpton

Absolutely the best baseball book I have ever read. Of course, it helps that it involves my favorite team. But even if it didn't, the story of Sidd Finch is so interesting I guarantee it would still be my number one.

If you have never heard the story, Finch was a Mets prospect in the mid-1980s who could throw over 150 miles per hour. Enlightened in the mountains of Tibet and skilled in "the art of the pitch", Finch was as eccentric of a baseball player as there has ever been. Together with a young Dwight Gooden, Finch and the Mets could have established a dynasty unseen in baseball history. Instead ... well, read the book and find out.