Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Quest for the Pitch Calling Umpire

Over the last few days the sports blogosphere has been all sorts of abuzz over a quote in Sports Illustrated by former Mariners catcher Dave Valle. In an article on Randy Johnson, Valle is quoted as saying that an umpire called the pitches for Johnson during a 1993 game.

This shocking revelation was first brought to my attention by blogger OMDQ on the blog One More Dying Quail. OMDQ analyzed all of Johnson's '93 starts, found out who umpired, did a few hypothetical guesses and determined that the most logical candidates are either umpires Tim Welke or Ed Hickox. To OMDQ's credit, he is a huge baseball fan who I believe has even worked at the Hall of Fame.

The next day, the same revelation was blogged about on Deadspin. There, blogger Tommy Craggs found the same list of umpires as OMDQ, but came up with different logical conclusions. Craggs used umpire Jim McKean's background of calling no-hitters as evidence that perhaps he was the likely culprit.

So who is right? Is it the wisdom of the popular Deadspin? Or the insightful pondering of OMDQ? Or could Valle be taking the sports world for a ride?

Whatever the truth, I'll give Valle credit, he has created a new baseball myth. However, unlike the Babe's called shot or the antics of Leo Durocher or the exaggerated abilities of the Negro League legends, Valle's story does nothing but hurt the game. By associating an umpire with the direct actions of a player, Valle calls into question the credibility of those in authority of the national pastime. This isn't like an umpire duking it out with an annoying fan after the game or even throwing down with Ty Cobb after the Georgia Peach didn't like a few calls. This is an impartial arbitrator crossing the line and influencing the outcome of a game. And in the wake of crooked NBA ref Tim Donaghy and the still open scar of baseball's own steroid era, a baseball myth that calls into question the sanctity of the game is the last thing the sport needs.

So to Dave Valle and the unknown ump, thanks for nothing.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Russian Hackers Take Over American Pro Wrestling Web Site

For those who thought the Cold War is over, think again.

According to super secret documents acquired by Bothan spies, a squad of select sex-selling Soviet sympathizers sabotaged Wrestling911.com, a site run by the Snowman, a friend of The Serious Tip.

In an exclusive interview conducted with The Serious Tip, the Snowman claimed several individuals broke into Wrestling911 headquarters by using the spare key he stashed in a plastic rock by the rear entrance.

"I thought I was safe," he proclaimed. "The box said the rock would deter intruders. Heck, I didn't even know where I hid the key sometimes. That rock was tricky."

Once inside Wrestling911 headquarters, the intruders hacked the mainframe, populated the pages with Russian sex product ads, and stole all the money out of the coffee fund.

"I guess these guys were really desperate," Snowman said. "Times must be tough when you have to steal our last four dollars and fourteen cents. That was for the Christmas party entertainment. We were going to get a dancer or two."

Although the Snowman insisted the site will be back to normal by sometime Tuesday, he has since redirected Wrestling911.com visitors to Youtube page.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

John has a long mustache and he is taking it to Alaska

This weekend, Anchorage, Alaska hosts the greatest event this side of the Whigham Rattlesnake Roundup. On Saturday, May 23rd, the World Beard and Moustache Championship returns to the United States for the first time since 2003.

What in the world is the World Beard and Moustache Championship?

According to it's website, the Championship is a celebration of facial hair featuring "the world's bearded and moustached elite".

Not only is an exposition of the most flamboyant beards and moustaches around the world, but several men can even leave with the title of World's Greatest. According to the site:

"The championships feature competition in a variety of categories that include everything from the delicate Dali moustache to the outrageous full beard freestyle. The competitors appear before a panel of distinguished judges charged with the responsibility of awarding the coveted world titles to the best of the best."

Among the competitors are the famous Handlebar Club from London, the Australian Bushrangers, America's Beardteam USA, and the hometown South Central Alaska Beard and Moustache Club. Some of the more well-regarded competitors include Elmar Weisser and Willi Chevalier of Germany and American Jack Passion.

It's not too late to join the fun. The party begins tonight when the Beard Parade marches down the streets of Anchorage.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Making a Buck or Two off Swine Flu

Like clockwork, there never ceases to be people who try to make money on the misfortune of others. However despicable, no matter what the tragedy or how low class, there is always someone concocting a marketing ploy or two to capitalize on the pain and suffering of their common man. For example, who can forget Jenga: World Trade Center Edition (I can’t find the link, but you can see it played here) or the Caylee Anthony doll?

To date, however, I have yet to see anything taking advantage of the Swine Flu pandemic. No sick piggy plush dolls, no “I survived Swine Flu” or “Someone went to Mexico and all I got was Swine Flu” t-shirts, and no celebrity-endorsed breathing masks.

Being that Swine Flu supposedly originated in Mexico, this week's Cinco De Mayo holiday provides the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the Swine Flu fad. The possibilities are endless especially for the producers of fine Mexican adult beverages have. All the companies would have to do is claim their alcohol cures or makes consumers immune to Swine Flu. Sure, this campaign would be marketing to the uninformed as well as slightly (ok, completely) deceptive, but don’t most good ads get people to believe a product can do the extraordinary? If I wear Wrangler jeans, will I be half the man that Brett Favre is? Doubtful. If I drink Schmitt’s Gay, will I be ... wait, nevermind.

Convincing the masses that swine flu can be cured or mitigated by Mexican-produced alcoholic beverages would be a marketing coup. Cases of beer and tequila would fly off the shelves. There would be riots on the streets as people wouldn't think twice of beating their neighbors for sweet, precious drops of Mexican-made nectar. And if the marketing is done well enough, the incredible fortune made by Mexican spirit makers would easily pay off the public relations backlash that would ensue.

Here in the US, of course, it is be illegal to claim alcoholic products cure diseases (stupid "snake oil" laws). So as a free service to our alcohol-making and drinking brothers south of the border this Cinco De Mayo I came up with a few slogans to use here in America.

This Cinco De Mayo, catch a Mexican import that won’t make you sick. Grab a Corona.

Forget those headaches and those ache-ies, drink a Dos Equis.

Jose Cuervo – The cure for Mexican sickness for over 100 years.

No thanks needed. Enjoy your Cinco De Mayo and avoid the clap Swine Flu.