Saturday, July 17, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Our founding fathers prepared the soil on which this dream called freedom was cultivated. To paraphrase the Constitution, here are a couple of the building blocks of America:
- Being sweet
- Kicking ass
Sure, the US is the fattest country in the world. Who cares? We LOVE food. We love food so much that we honor our nation’s independence with a contest of who can consume the most hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Then, after we are through watching human greatness personified, we turn to our very own grills, consume copious amounts of a domestic beer (Im told that nothing is more American than a Blue Ribbon winner), and then watch things explode.
BOOM! Welcome to America, land of the free!
According to Wikipedia, the only truly accredited source of human intelligence, The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest has occurred almost annually since 1916. “According to legend, on July 4, 1916 four immigrants had a hot dog eating contest at Nathan's Famous stand on Coney Island to settle an argument about who was the most patriotic.” Imagine that. Just prior to World War I, four men from less superior lands adopted the way of OUR land and expressed their love for this fair country by gorging themselves on processed meat products.
Unfortunately, not all great ideas are appreciated in their time and this event trickled into relative obscurity until one Independence day, when a man by the name of Takeru Kobayashi doubled the previous world record by eating 50 hot dogs and buns. Slight problem here: only Americans win American contests on Independence Day. That’s non-negotiable. Kobayashi had a vice grip on the Mustard Belt for six long years. But in 2007, a true American hero by the name of Joseph Christian “Jaws” Chestnut emerged from relative obscurity to consume 66 hot dogs and buns, shock the world and restore American glory. The Mustard Belt was once again rested safely on US soil!
As with World War II, the Japanese struck first, but ultimately found out that the pimp hand of Uncle Sam is oh so strong.
Our hero has since defended the crown two consecutive years in a row, including an epic “Eat off” overtime victory in 2008 and a new world record of 68 hot dogs and buns in 2009. With Kobayashi holding out of the competition for contractual reasons (aka whining like KOBE–yashi), you can put another tally in the win column for the Red, White, and Blue.
So tomorrow, grab an ice cold American beer and allow yourself an hour to bask in the glory of the Stars and Stripes as you witness a young man push himself to the limit and perform the kind of overeating that puts Oprah and Kirstie Alley to shame.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
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I promise that all of the entries will not be this long and will likely have more jokes.
Much to my personal dismay, the NBA Finals will be another installment of Lakers vs Celtics. The rematch of the 1976 NBA Finals will have to wait, as the Suns’ all-time record in the Western Conference Finals has fallen to 2-7 (0-3 under Nash, 1-5 in my lifetime, 1-3 that I can remember). This time around,
Home Court Advantage
Remember that the Finals are structured 2-3-2, which puts a lot of pressure on the home team to start strong and hold serve. A lot of emphasis will be placed in the coming days on the following statement: The Lakers have not lost a playoff game this year at the
three two road games in this playoffs (throw out Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals - the officiating was so unfathomably lopsided that Tim Donaghy sat at home and smiled as his name spewed forth from the mouth of every Boston fan). On the other side of the coin, the Celtics have performed sufficiently but not remarkably well at home and the Lakers have let a couple of games slip away on the road this post season. I could play a numbers game and compare regular season records, but I deem this to be only moderately relevant considering that the Celtics were admittedly coasting and they play in a significantly easier conference. Ultimately, why not just rely on empirical evidence? Of late, neither team has been visibly phased by opposing crowds and both squads have gotten quality wins in increasingly hostile environments. Each of these teams has the experience, composure, and talent to win when it counts, regardless of the location.
A lot is made of these two teams defensively and rightfully so. The buzzword “length” is used to describe the Lakers’ frontcourt so much that it’s almost a cop out way to describe this team. The Lakers do a great job protecting the paint, preventing penetration by guards and getting their hands (which are attached to their long arms) into passing lanes. This wreaks havoc on guards who make their living by getting into the painted area (like Nash & Rondo). By limiting access to the lane, opponents are forced to opt for longer shots, which are in turn easier for LA to contest since they aren’t as far out of position in the first place. There is a reason why teams shoot a league low three point percentage against LA and it is independent of how many ways Ron Artest can bleach the word “defense” into his hair.
The Celtics defense can be summed up in one word, physical. The C’s style is about as close as you can get in today’s NBA to the late 80’s and mid 90’s, when flagrant fouls were rarely, if ever called and “no easy buckets” meant using everything short of a Tanya Harding style crow-bar beat down to crack players hard enough that they would think twice before entering the paint again. They bump every player coming off of a screen, shove anyone cutting off of the ball, and seize all opportunities to let the other team know that nothing will be easy or free. It’s a style that frustrates opponents and their fans alike. Seriously, watch how much
Contrary to popular belief, the Lakers have the tools to play a bit more physical. Artest is one of the most physical small forwards in the NBA.
The Celtics’ now rely on Rajon Rondo to control their offense and he hasn’t let them down yet. By default, this makes him their most important superstar although Pierce usually handles the bulk of the scoring burden and Garnett takes care of the post duties. And then there is my personal favorite player on this team, Ray Allen, who reminds everyone at least once a series that he is one of the best pure shooters the league has seen. While these players do a great job sharing the load, it is unclear to me who is charged to take over in crunch time. Who do they defer to? Sure at one point in their careers each of these players could win games by themselves, but these days the responsibility falls to whoever is willing to accept it. Maybe this works to their advantage by making it harder to game plan against them. Or maybe I am undervaluing the fact that they have numerous capable players. So far this strategy has worked, but it remains to be seen what will happen when they play a truly contested series.
At certain points in time I would have taken any of the Celtics’ superstars on my team. I, like most people, see those names and associate them with the player from 2005. When it comes down to it, this battle is closer than you may think. But I’ll take the insanely competitive, consistent superstar that controls every facet of a game and can get points against any defense when it matters most. In the 2008 Finals that player was Paul Pierce, in the 2010 Finals it’s Kobe Byrant.
I could probably go on for a much longer in regards to the styles of these two teams. It’s unclear to me at this time whether or not it would be useful, or if anyone still reading would care for that matter. So, given that this is the first installment and I want to keep whatever good will that I have intact, I will wrap it up with this.
Basketball is a team game – it always has been. Playoff basketball is about consistency and the ability of a team to assert their will and dictate the way that the game is played. The Celtics have handled every challenge to date and are certainly capable of winning this series. But, in glimpses the Lakers have looked unbeatable.
It is well documented that
Lakers in 6