Tag Archives: Sports

The Hangover’s Christmas List

21 Dec

You’ve got to love a holiday named after a wine-swilling, long-haired, no-shoes-wearing carpenter.  And there are presents.  In honor of the holiday, The Hangover offers our own Christmas list.  And in the true spirit of the holiday, it is better to give than receive. 

For Terrel Owens:  A punch in the mouth. You’d think that Tony Romo or Jason Witten or somebody on that team would have had the balls to tell TO to shut up and then drop him with a right cross.  (Is Bum Phillips still alive?  Could he take care of this for Wade?)

For the State of Maine:  Less Taxes, Better Government.   We know, good luck with that one.

For Religous Extremists (be they Christian, Muslim, Pagans, Jews, Sun-Worshippers, Followers of Satan, or actual card carrying members of Red Sox Nation):  Less scripture, More action (from their respective deities).  Doesn’t fanatical worship sully the very God that it profess to follow?  Wouldn’t these various Gods be tired of people acting like complete fucking idiots in their names?  Shouldn’t  these Gods have had enough of this bullshit and smite their “extreme” followers from the planet?  Lightning bolts, now, goddamnit!

For The Boston Celtics:  Good Health.  The rest will take care of itself.

For Kathryn Tappen:  More sweaters of the shade (some sort of yellowish white) that she wore yesterday during the 12/20/08 Bruins-Hurricanes telecast.  Amazing.  A high-def Goddess if there ever was one.

For Barack Obama:  The cajones to swing back to the left after these mandatory first two years of centrism.

For Kennebunkport:  Less Development.  Do we have to turn every open space not owned by the Conservation Trust into either a neighborhood of McMansions or a psuedo-tony resort?

For the Red Sox Marketing Team:  A long, long, long vacation.  Two years ought to be enough.  We don’t need any hats with socks on them.  We could use a better ticket-buying site, however.  Or at least one that doesn’t have to blame its lack of functionality on “high transaction volume.”  What with the exciting new hats, you didn’t think people would want to buy tickets, too?

For the Red Sox:  Derek Lowe.  Give us a great pitcher who excels in big games, under pressure, and who wants to play here.  And we’ll take a refurbished Mike Lowell, too.  The hell with Mark Teixeira.  The only thing he’s led the league in is “Speculative news media stories on where Mark Texiera will land.”  Pitching wins and Lowe is a winning pitcher.

For News Editors of Television Weather Reports:  A grip.  Hangover Headquarters is in Maine.  It snows here.  It always has.  Every time a flake hits the atmosphere, we don’t need panicked, poker-up-the-ass anchor people screaming “storm warning,” “winter storm watch,” or “extreme weather event.”  If you want people to watch your insipid newscasts, try doing some actual reporting, or get better looking newspeople and have the women go topless and dress the men in Chippendale’s outfits.

For the Rolling Stones:  One last great album. I don’t mean pretty good, either.  Voodoo Lounge was compared to Exile, but we all know Exile, and Voodoo Lounge is no Exile.  Every Stones album since Steel Wheels has been proclaimed in one way or another, hearkening back to the heyday of the Stones.  Simply not true.  The world could use another Exile on Main Street or Sticky Fingers.  Get on it, boys.

For the Readers of The Hangover:  Less hangovers, of the alcohol-induced head ache and vomiting kind.

For The Hangover:  More readers.  Then I can start pimping out the ad space and earn enough money to quit one of my days jobs.   Then I could completely sell out and turn into one of those despicable, loathsome individuals that I despise.  Wouldn’t that be grist for some interesting writing?

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Handicapping the Presidential Race

15 Sep

With 50 days to go before the election, the race for President remains hotly contested–and close.  Sure, you could bury yourself in MSNBC, CNN, and Fox for a non-stop slew of reporting on likely scenarios and probabilities of victory.  But there are analysts out there much sharper than the political pundits.  They’re the guys running the sports books.  Yes, ironically, you can actually gamble on the Presidential Election.

For those of you faint-at-heart or honest or sheltered, a sportsbook is a place that establishes odds and takes bets on various sporting contests.  It’s a big business, estimated at over $200 billion dollars annually across the planet, with the Super Bowl accounting for $7 billion in just one day.  The analysis that goes into establishing odds is no less intense (while probably being done more scrupulously) than what takes place on Wall Street.

A survey of three major online sports books reveals that Obama is a clear favorite:

Sportsbook.com:  Obama -150, McCain -110  (To win $100, one must bet $150 on Obama or $110 on McCain.)

BetUs.com:  Obama -130, McCain -110.     (To win $100, one must bet $130 on Obama or $110 on McCain.)

Bodog.com:  Obama -145, McCain +105  (To win $100, one must bet $145 on Obama and a $100 bet on McCain will bring in $105).

Odds are established so that an equal number of dollars are wagered on each side.  The sports book makes their money off of the vigorish–the gap between the two propositions.  The higher wager cost on Obama tells us that more people (their dollars, anyway) are betting on him to win.  By raising those odds, the bookmakers are hoping to slow down the action on that proposition, while encouraging people to go to McCain for a better payout. 

What the bookmakers are analysing here are the betting habits of Americans, not how economic issues may play out in Ohio or Sarah Palin’s cleavage will effect the voters of Florida.   They are revealing that “more people likely to gamble on a Presidential Election” think Obama will win.  Whether these “degenerates” are betting with their hearts or have spent the past three months sifting through historical voting data and current opinion polls cannot be known.  The Hangover just hopes that they are right.  My money–and yours, if you’re in the bottom 95% of income earners in America–is riding on it.

Red Sox Nation at Rest: All-Star Break ’08

14 Jul

The Hangover’s musings on the ’08 baseball season.

  • There should be no panic-worry-complaining from  Sox nation.  The team plays hard every night.  The lineup is good and the pitching is there.  Exciting young players are coming up through the system and contributing.  But it’s the pitching that means the Sox will be in the mix in October. Oh yeah, and they won the Series again last year.  Anyone bitching about this year’s model should be given 1950’s style shock therapy.
  • Give Jason Varitek a break.  He’s not a young man anymore but he’s being played like one.  He’s hitting .218 and throwing out less than 20% of base runner’s attempting to steal.  Hey, he’s 36–and he’s not Carlton Fisk (a freak of nature who played effectively into his 40’s).  The Sox will figure out that they need to cut his workload and give him two out of every five days off.  When they do, his numbers will rise.
  • Is there a Heidi Watney fan club?  If there is, The Hangover would like to join.  The Red Sox Insider report with Heidi and Amalie Benjamin is the no-doubt highlight of the NESN pre-game show.  In fact, The Hangover would  be glad to join the Amalie Benjamin fan club, too. 
  • Occasionally, the Hangover listens to a game on the radio.  While Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien do a good job describing the action, they can be tedious.  

          > When Castiglione is doing the play-by-play, every Sox out is imparted with the “I just found out    my mother-in-law is coming for the weekend” voice.  The “my dog just got hit by a car” tone pops up for bases loaded failures and the final out of the game.  Relax, Joe.  A loss isn’t the end of the world.

           > O’Brien, on the other hand, seems to know what’s going on in every player and manager’s head.  He’s constantly stating, “There’s nothing that Terry Francona wants more than…” or “Dustin Pedroia would really like to…”  Hey, stick to the action.  The Amazing Kreskin should have retired with Johnny Carson.

            >  Dale Arnold, on his nights, is fine.  He gives the details and describes the game without the pathetic tones or a know-it-all attitude.  And he can be humorous while doing so.  A real bonus, considering.

  • Give Hank Steinbrenner some credit.  It was a no-brainer to turn Joba Chamberlain into a starter.  He’s big, strong, and has more than two good pitches.  By the end of the year, he’ll be the Yankees #1 starter.  And if the owner has to stick his nose in to get things done, hey, it’s his team.
  • We all know about how the Sox need to extract every dollar from their ballpark and broadcasts so that they can compete with the dreaded, rich Yankees.  But enough with the sponsorships and marketing.  How long will it be before Remy and Orsillo are discussing the Papelbon “Fed Ex” fastball for strike three?  Or the Wakefield “Isotoner” knuckleball?  Can the “Jiffy Lube” slider be far off?  This will be a certain boon for Wendy’s who can sponsor every single, double, and triple.
  • The Hangover closes this post by taking a look at the American League all-star infield.  On the left, there are the Yankees Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.  On the right, the Sox Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.  Let’s go over the stats:

Jeter and A-Fraud:  Combined Production:  .296, 24 HR, 95 RBI; Combined Salaries:  49.6 Million dollars.

Pedroia and Youkilis:  Combined Production:  .314, 24 HR, 110 RBI; Combined Salaries:  3.45 Million dollars.

Yikes.  At 7% of the cost, the Sox pair exceeds the production of the Yankees starters.  And we all know what happens to A-Fraud in October. 

When evaluating players, one must consider the all-important (and Hangover original) RPY (Rings per Year) stat.  Jeter and A-Fraud have a combined 27 years in the league with 4 Series victories between them for a RPY  of .148.   Pedroia and Youkilis have a combined 5 years in the league with three Series victories between them for a RPY of .600, an enormous edge for the Sox pair.  This Saxony Stat of the Season is brought to you by Saxony Imports of Kennebunkport, Maine, the place to shop in Kennebunkport, located just over the bridge in Dock Square. 

(Sorry, but expanding revenue streams works for the Sox, and The Hangover must compete with the dreaded, rich ESPN.com, MSNBC.com, The Onion, etc..,.  )

My Name is Nomar

29 Apr

It was a sad moment last Saturday when The Hangover was forced to put Nomar Garciaparra on the Disabled List of his fantasy baseball team, The Killer Rabbits.  (It was probably even sadder for Nomar’s real team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Yes, The Hangover is a minor fantasy geek, but what would you expect from someone who has a blog?)  It was probably silly to draft him in the first place, considering his performance the last few years.  But looking over the list of players, his name brought to mind the Nomar of ’97 to ’03, when he was one of the best players in baseball.  In hindsight, it was pathetically optimistic to believe that Nomar could reclaim those Red Sox glory years, when he was Rookie of the Year in 1997, a five time all-star, winning batting titles in 1999 and 2000, hitting 35 home runs in 1998,  and playing unbelievable defense.  I saw that player just about every night for seven years.  But Nomar is now an oft-injured shell of his former self.   When The Hangover thinks of Nomar, he’s reminded of Earl Hickey.

No, Earl Hickey is not a long forgotten shortstop for the 1939 St. Louis Browns.  He is the character created and played by actor Jason Lee on the NBC show, “My Name is Earl.”  Earl Hickey was a dirt bag, petty thief who never caught a break.  An unlikely chain of events put him in a hospital bed where he watched Carson Daly talk about karma on television.  Earl had an epiphany.  He would make a list of all the things he had done wrong in his life and correct them, one by one, and perhaps his life would improve.  As luck (or karma) would have it, once he starting crossing these nefarious acts off his list, things changed for the better.  Professionally speaking, Nomar Garciaparra is Earl Hickey–only in reverse.  

2004 was a contract year for Nomar, by then one of the Red Sox all-time greats.  In 2003, the Red Sox offered him a four year deal starting in 2005 at a rate of 15 million a year.  At the time, Nomar was considered one of the three best in the game at his position.  Ahead of him was Alex Rodriguez, the highest paid player in the game ( 25 million per season), and also the most productive.  Derek Jeter, who had won four World Series rings by then, was also being paid more (19 million per season).   It was a fair offer.  Nomar turned it down.  Then he became bitter about it.  And that’s when karma starting kicking Nomar in the ass. 

As Seth Mnookin details in this excerpt from his book, “Feeding the Monster,” Nomar became alienated from the Sox.   A market shift before the start of the 2004 resulted in a new offer from the team, only at 12 million a year.  Garciaparra was asking for 17 million.  (The fourth best shortstop, Miguel Tejada, signed a contract that off-season for 12 million.)  The Red Sox also explored trading for A-Rod, which further distanced and upset Nomar.  Then Garciaparra injured his ankle in Spring Training.  He couldn’t seem to get on the field, missing approximately 60% of the regular season games.  Sox management worried that Nomar was more concerned with being healthy as a free agent in November than playing throughout the season.  He began to despise the town, the team, and the fans that adored him.  Eventually, Nomar was dealt at the deadline for Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz.  The Red Sox went on to win their first World Series since 1918.

This is what happened to Nomar once he rejected that 15 million dollar a year contract and, in the words of Earl Hickey, turned karma against him:

2003:  Sox fall to Yankees in Game Seven of ALCS.  (Nomar hit .241, struck out eight times, and had 1 rbi in the series.)

2004: Hurts ankle in spring training.  Misses games.  Traded to Cubs, Sox win Series.

2005:  Signs with Cubs for 8.25 million.  Plays only 62 games, hits .283 with 30 rbi.

2006:  Signs with Dodgers for 6.0 million.  Makes All Star team.   Plays only 122 games, but hits .303 with 20 HR.  In only non-Sox playoff appearance hits .222 as Dodgers are swept by Mets. 

2007:  Signs with Dodgers for 8.25 million.  Plays only 120 games, hits .283 with 7 HR.

2008:  Signed for 9.5 million.  Still in April, batting .226, already on the DL twice. 

It’s obvious that Nomar isn’t what he used to be.  But The Hangover remembers when he was The Man in Boston, honored by all from Saturday Night Live to Newberry Street.  We chanted “Nomar’s better” when Jeter hit in Fenway.  The Hangover Jr. took his first swings in the backyard in his Nomar shirt, mimicking the famous toe-tapping, glove adjusting batting routine.  Nomar was once a sure hall-of-famer.   Now, he can’t even get through the first month of the season.   The Killer Rabbits may suffer, but The Hangover believes there must be some way for Nomar to change his karma.  He could start by releasing any bitterness harbored against the Red Sox and the fandom that once revered him.  If the fictional Earl Hickey can become a better man, then Nomar can be again what he once was.   

Sox Tickets Strike Out

27 Jan

With two World Series championships in the last four years, it should be against the law to complain about anything Red Sox in New England.  Clearly expectations have been exceeded to an exponential degree.  So has ticket demand.

Yesterday, single game tickets went on sale for the majority of the 2008 season.  The process is simple enough:  you log on at Redsox.com, either hit a Buy Tickets link and choose a game or click onto the schedule.  From there you advance to Purgatory on Yawkey Way:  The Virtual Waiting Room.  Apparently, millions of other people are trying to do the same thing at the same time.  Should you be lucky enough to be one of those randomly selected to advance from the VWR, you get a shot at tickets.

The Hangover logged on at approximately 10:15 yesterday morning.  When the Hangover retired for the evening at 10:45 (explaining why we’re called the Hangover and not Mr. Excitement) the VWR was still flawlessly preforming its 30-second reloading loop.  It even keeps you updated on the games that are sold out or have few seats left.  If only it would let you past its electronic gate. 

Upon awaking this morning, I found that my steadfast Dell had advanced and I was afforded the opportunity to trade some plastic for tickets.  Being a wise baseball fan, I discerned that going after a lousy team would be the best chance for the family Hangover to see some baseball.  How about a game versus the pathetic Royals on a Wednesday night in May?  Let’s face it, the kids won’t know the difference.  I selected four tickets, clicked on “Best Available,” and advanced past the anti-ticket agency barriers.

What I received was this:  “We’re sorry, we’re unable to process your request due to high transaction volumes.  Please try to submit your request again by hitting the CONTINUE button.”  (It happens to be the exact same message I encountered when purchasing tickets last year.)   

I hammered the CONTINUE harder than the Sox batters bashed the Rockies’ pitchers in game one of last year’s Series.  I had none of their luck, however.  I did try different games.  Eventually, I was graced with the opportunity to purchase four standing room tickets for an Orioles game.  No thanks.  I’ll pass.  The Seadogs are only thirty minutes away.

I won’t be barking at the set this season, telling Francona to take a starter out with two on and none out in the seventh.  He’s proven he knows what he’s doing.  I can’t say the same for those in the business office, who apparently failed to anticipate another year of Red Sox Nation storming cyberspace for tickets. 

“Hey, Larry!  If there’s a $14.5 million-per-year computer geek out there with big market, ‘high transaction volume’ experience, go get him.  Please.”  

The Rocket Misfires

8 Jan

The Hangover is now taking requests.  Today’s subject:  Roger Clemens. 

 Roger Clemens made two mistakes.  First, he took performance enhancing drugs.  Second, he didn’t admit to it.  If Roger had played this right, he could have come out of this mess solidifying his position as the ultimate competitor.  All he needed was representation who understood American culture.  We love fallen heroes who rise again.  See:  the wounded Robert Downey Jr., the Sex-Machine Bill Clinton, the respected Ray Lewis, and just wait for Britney’s glorious comeback—it’s going to happen. 

The day after Andy Pettitte confessed to using HGH, Clemens should have come out, too.  He should have called ESPN and agreed to sit down with one of their ball-carrying baseball writers to make a statement and be interviewed. 

If the Clemens camp was sharp, the scene would have played out like this:

Roger:  I would like to admit that I used performance-enhancing drugs.  I’m not proud of it.  I didn’t want to do it.  I hated that I had to do it, in fact.  It riled me good, but I had no other choice.

ESPN:  What do you mean you had no choice?

Roger:  I’m a competitor.  I get paid a lot of money to pitch, to compete.  It was obvious that hitters were using something to gain a competitive advantage.  We all knew that.  And I wasn’t about to give up an edge to anyone.   

ESPN:  So you don’t think you could have competed without them?

Roger:  I’m good enough to win with or without that kind of help.  Look at my record.  But I’m not trying to win some games, when I take that mound I’m out there to win every game.  If I give up a dinger and we lose because some batter is juiced and I’m not, that doesn’t sit well with me.  If the hitters weren’t going to play fair, I was going to meet that head on.             

ESPN:  Did you know for a fact that hitters were using PED’s?  Which ones?

Roger:  I never saw anyone do it, but it was obvious.  Check the numbers.  They’re ridiculous.  There were some pretty good pitchers around baseball back then, and those hitters were hammering them.  I did what I had to do to keep the playing field level.

ESPN:  So, you used PED’s reluctantly?

Roger:  I was paid a lot of money to win games.  I’m a competitor.  I couldn’t look my teammates in the eye if I wasn’t doing everything in my power to help my team win.  I put my career on the line for those guys.  I could have grown a third ear on that stuff. My tendons could have gone to dust.  But I wasn’t about to give up an edge to anyone.  I did what I had to do to help my team.  I’m sorry I did it, but I wasn’t going to lose because some guy had an edge on me.  Sure, it pisses me off that I had to do it.  It pissed me off then, too, but I can’t take it back now.

If Clemens had released this statement, he would have been a victim who did what he had to do to help his team. That kind of dedication and risk-taking is revered in America.   The Rocket could have reentered the stratosphere.  Pathetic, but true.