Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm on to You, Jamie Benn: I Know You Are Actually Fulton Reed

Hey yinz -- hope yinz have been able to take the long lull in sports action this week, as every professional sport except for baseball trots out a parade of its highest-paid assholes to entertain you with a meaningless display of excessive offense.

Despite the lack of excitement and sports-induced beer comas, the NHL skills competition did uncover a startling revelation. Namely, former Team USA junior player Fulton Reed has finally grown up -- needing about two decades to age approximately five years, for some strange reason -- and taken on the life of Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn.

If you recall, Reed was a member of the American squad in the 1994 Junior Goodwill Games. His physical play was pivotal in the USA's preliminary round victories versus Trinidad and Tobago, Italy, and Germany (as much of a challenge as Latvia in this year's World Juniors), before facing off against perennial powerhouse Iceland with intimidating forward and, I can only assume, current drug addict Gunner Stahl. 

Reed in a season prior to his selection to the U.S. NTDP (national team development program)

Beyond a towering physical presence, Reed was also feared for his powerful and accurate shot -- so powerful, in fact, that once propelled an opposing goalie into the net during the Goodwill Games. After a brief stint of academy hockey, however, he soon fell out of sport, presumably distraught over the departure of NTDP teammate Dean Portman, who was evidently taught that it is appropriate to wear a cutoff shirt for hockey. Later in life, Portman had his arms amputated due to frostbite and has never played hockey since.

Reed, thinking he could hide his true identity as he re-entered the hockey world, was simply too relaxed last night, as it became certain beyond a shadow of doubt that he is, in very fact, none other than Jamie Benn.

Most striking is, of course, the obvious physical traits of Reed's. In the picture below, notice "Jamie's" round, boyish face and that slicked back black hair that he has been sporting since his days under coach Gordon Bombay. Reed had shortened it earlier in his career -- to elude suspicions, no doubt -- but surely could not resist his trademark hair any longer.

If that weren't enough, though, Reed went a step farther even and participated in this year's accuracy competition. Known for, to paraphrase, being able to hit four shots out of five with his blistering release, Reed took this skill to the ice in Ottawa, handily winning the accuracy competition.

Now, of course, yinz can make your petty arguments. "Reed would be too old," yinz will whine. "He doesn't look like him." "You have a serious drinking problem, Mr. Kowalski." The list goes on.

Bottom line is, though, if these Caribbean and South American baseball players can play in the Little League World Series at the tender age of 27, despite their well-developed physique, thick facial hair, and the motorcycle they drive home after the game, then why the hell can't Fulton Reed be back among us?

Oh, wait. Wait. Just found it. Turns out he ended up being this guy. Looks like a douchebag.

False alarm everyone. Until next time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

From Bourgeoisie to Proletariat: Shanahan Coherent Enough After Apparent Lobotomy to Suspend No Good Fuck Ovechkin... Oh and Joe Paterno Died

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels once postulated, in brief, that the proletariat, downtrodden souls oppressed by the man-made constructs of capital and corruption, would rise up, free themselves from their proprietary shackles, and levy justice upon the bourgeoisie -- a collection of hedonist cosmopolitans, who, like missionaries of evil, spread their filth around the world, preying on broken spirits and weak wills with the dangling carrot of ascent on the social ladder. At least that’s what my history tutor was spouting about when I was using his computer to download Van Halen tracks and fake celebrity pornography. That kid never did shut the hell up.

Anyhow, this long-winded metaphor that only came up because I was listening to Eruption is fitting for today’s joyous occasion. Namely, that playoff absentee Alex Ovechkin, the showboating attention whore akin to the bourgeois vampires, was finally brought to actual – and at the same time, poetic – justice by NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, suspended three games for his hit on Zybanek Michalek, who, if you had read my previous post on him, was likely eyeing up bunk buddy Paul Martin going into the corner boards.

While Shanahan is probably too brain-dead to realize it, in between assisted scoops of mush he gets at the nursing home after the Holiday Inn Express raised its rates, he did in fact bring equality to a previously grave injustice in the NHL. This inequity is far from foreign to the sports world, though, and often goes by the name "star treatment."

For years, Ovechkin has peppered his array of fair, rattling hits with a series of knee-on-knee strikes, rocket-propelled charges, and Soviet-style ICBMs to the heads of opponents. For whatever reason, it has taken half a decade to ever penalize him for it. Now, I'll be in one fashion or another a homer bastard until I die, hopefully drowning in a pool of Iron City, during a stunt I perform in a Jean Claude Van Damme movie, or just being roundhouse kick by Van Damme for keying his car. That said, I'm not celebrating Ovechkin's suspension in its own right, but rather its inherent downgrade in his social status around the league, falling from demigod to normal player.

Whether good or bad, I would not be surprised to discover that Ovechkin's suspension emerged in part from his decline in production. Once a 50+ goal, 100+ point lock, Ovechkin's antics -- setting his stick "on fire," jumping excessively for every garbage goal, and ducking defensive responsibility, so that he can lazily float up ice in the hope that Nickolas Backstrom will bust his ass hard enough to win and send the puck up -- have all grown weary in Washington, whether under the helm of a man who commits atrocities against his waistline (Bruce Boudreau) or another who would cut the throat of his own grandmother with his skate if it meant a competitive advantage in the family pond hockey game (Dale Hunter). Conversely, though simultaneously, fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin has done nothing but explode on the ice, as I had predicted, and is dominating in every facet of the game. Let us look back:

"In case yinz jags forgot, though, we still have this other phenom by the name of Evgeni Malkin. And just like my buddy Ronnie when I can't make it on time to the case race, Malkin doesn't just have it covered, he's winning that race all by his-goddamn-self -- even if he's exhausted and belligerent afterwards.

I see the Russian machine adding to his already impressive trophy collection with the Art Ross and (fuck it, I'm goin for it) the Rocket Richard."

While the season is far from over, I felt the need to just point that out. Back to the topic at hand, I don't think Shanahan even has the mental capacity at this point to do it on purpose, but I am not shocked in the least to see a potential link between Ovechkin's less stellar play and his being subject to the rules that everybody else has to follow. In the meantime, enjoy this photo of how things have seemed to progress to this point.
I'm entertained, and quite frankly, that's all that fucking matters about now.
Other Happenings in Sports

Even though ESPN can fill you in -- ad naseum, no doubt -- on what else is going on in the sports world, I suppose it's my civic duty to, at the very least, go on inane tirades or make thoughtless, insensitive comments about them. With that in mind, let's get a move on; the beer in my fridge ain't gonna drink itself.

I Don't Want the Terrorists to Win, But... *Sigh*

Well, the stage is set for the 2012 Super Bowl and the only solace to be had is the absence of Bible-thumping Tim Tebow, who can spend the spring and summer throwing footballs through a tire in his backyard or whatever country boy, montage-worthy methods he can conjure up to learn to pass.

Unlike Varsity Blues, though, it won't end with Joshua Jackson triumphing or a disgraced Jon Voight being cast out of his own locker room -- it will most likely involve a 2012 draft pick or free agent being much more capable at running a modern NFL offense and displacing Tebow as the starter. I suppose it will give him more time to blow up abortion clinics, coerce indigenous peoples to convert to Christianity, or whatever he does to occupy his free time.

Getting back to the catastrophe at hand, this year's Super Bowl, rather than featuring moving storylines, has a slew of despicable antagonists upon whom fans can practice amateur voodoo or wish debilitating injury. Before exploring these characters more deeply, though, let us first look at what got us to this miserable outcome.

Whereas most winners and champions can attribute their success to focus and execution, this year's Super Bowl contenders serendipitously tumbled into the championship game by virtue of their opponents' own ineptitude in some football-related facet(s).

The Ravens -- not once, but twice -- botched critical plays, their play-calling notwithstanding, that would have either propelled them into the Super Bowl or at least forced overtime. I presume that Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff have already evacuated the Baltimore area, or have hired private security to keep Ray Lewis from murdering them with a prison shank in the middle of the night. The result was inevitable, I would argue, as wannabe 70's homosexual porn star Joe Flacco had played too well for proper karmic alignment, meaning that the Ravens had to find another means of failure.

In San Francisco, meanwhile, there was certainly no worries about quarterbacks playing beyond their ability, as Alex Smith proceeded to put forth an abysmal performance that included completing fewer than half of his passes. Kyle Williams capped off this run of incompetence by botching a punt return in overtime to set up slightly less choke-prone Lawrence Tynes to hit the winning field goal.

Unfortunately, these antitheses of "clutch" have left us with football's great sociopath and cheater (Bill Belichick), and his deadbeat dad quarterback and consummate asshole (Brady), up against another psycho (Brandon Jacobs -- don't forget his throwing a helmet at a fan out of steroid-driven impulse) and the likely breast-fed until he was 12 whiner (Eli Manning), who refused to play for Saints because he is a bitch. So, our only hope is for The Dark Knight Rises script to come to life and just pull down these particular jagoffs in the process.

In the end, though, I guess it's good knowing that neither of the a-bit-too-competitive-for-their-own-good Harbaugh brothers has a shot at winning the Super Bowl this year. What's more, I'm sure the family will enjoy the childish expression of their aggression as they wrestle, fistfight, and hurl obscenities at one another over whether the ball should be spotted before or after the ceramic pot of tulips in the next family football game.

Joe Paterno Is Dead, But I'm Pretty Sure You Knew That By Now

Listen, if yinz want a visual and audio scrapbook of the man's life, then drool at SportsCenter for the next month. I'm not going to get into extensive details. I'll just do what I always do -- give yinz straight, unfiltered shit from my brain here, or what is still working in it, anyway.

He was either really influential, needs to carry responsibility, or not -- I don't give a fuck; just make up your mind.

Now, this point is not applicable to everybody, but in the national media's case, lots of the press want to take two mutually exclusive viewpoints and mesh them together like some sort of genetically-engineered abomination.

It's quite simple, really. Choose between the following options. He was not as influential as people made it seem, his legacy isn't as grand as it's made out to be, and fine, he was victimized in the whole child abuse scandal that surrounded him in his last month or so among us. Or he was a significant person in the lives of many students and athletes, left an indelible mark on the university, but as such a figure, should have acted more swiftly, carefully, and thoroughly to see that an individual poisoning the university and harming children was brought to justice.

It's not that the latter is meant to be demonizing, but you can't be a role model and nationally-renowned figure who just "passes along" the info that somebody is abusing children. Quite honestly, given his comments about his actions in hindsight, I like to think he'd agree.

You know, I think that's enough for me. Have a good one, jags.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's Gonna Be A Long Day: Drinking Before, During, And After Steelers Game; Angry, Irrational Rant About Penguins

Listen, jags, I'm sure yinz are all getting prepped for the big wild card game today against the Denver Broncos, readying your instruments of blasphemy directed at Tim Tebow and his suffocating love of God, not to mention the irony that the world's holiest athlete plays a game that tacitly consents excessive violence and profanity for millions of dollars while both Christian and non-Christian children are starving around the world -- not that he really cares for the latter.

Accordingly, my thoughts, words, and general equilibrium are already on a crash course with booze-induced chaos, a disaster that has proven the undoing of men much mightier than I. Nevertheless, I voyage courageously onward in my slaying of Iron, disregard for my own well-being, and marathons of unabated rage due to goings-on in Pittsburgh sports. So, before I have veered so hopelessly off course that I am forced to abandon my consciousness for a tidy spot on a tiled floor, let us discuss, as I have at great length recently, about the Penguins.

Let's start with this: what the flying fuck. My expression punctuated, by choice, with a period because it no longer suffices to pose questions. I want some fucking answers, and for want of these answers, I'll instead start taking heads.

To begin, though, I never wade into the murky, delusional waters of conspiracy in professional sports. Do they or have they existed? Of course. More often than not, however, they are feeble-minded rationalizations of losses. That said, I am led to think that whatever floats around in the sky or governs our existence has a distinct dislike for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Perhaps Tim Tebow knows something?

Whatever the case, the Penguins locker room has once again become a hockey infirmary, in which anyone wearing the Penguins (figurative) fatigues has somehow been mortally wounded. It's actually fucking ridiculous at this point. Here is the most comprehensive list of current Penguins injuries:

1. Sidney Crosby -- Concussion-like symptoms; out indefinitely

2. Kris Letang -- Concussion; out indefinitely

3. Zybanek Michalek -- Requires surgery to replace gravel in skull with actual human brain; mentally out indefinitely

4. James Neal -- Broken foot; out indefinitely

5. Jordan Staal -- Knee injury; out 4-6 weeks

6. Marc-Andre Fleury -- Head stuck up ass; out until the prune juice does its thing

7. Robert Bortuzzo -- Concussion; out indefinitely

8. Dustin Jeffrey -- Still returning from ACL surgery; close to returning

9. Paul Martin -- Sore ass from getting fucked in it so hard by opposing forwards; out until sex reassignment surgery

So that's the list of wounded hockey players -- a term liberally used for the likes of Michalek and Martin -- and explains in part the Penguins shit shows of late.

As I apparently have an affinity for making lists, probably because counting is one of the basest human functions that I'm still capable of, let's now review the observable reasons, beyond injuries, that are dismantling the Penguins.

They Put Up Less of a Fight than Roethlisberger's Victims

Rey Shero once built Penguin teams, and the coach obliged, under one simple principle: be "hard to play against." The current rendition of the Penguins contradicts this maxim in every way possible, it would seem.

Hardly anybody inhabits the "dirty" parts of ice where the vast majority of goals in the NHL are scored -- in front of the goal, in the slot, getting cross-checked, slashed, beat the fuck up, just to score that goal. Chris Kunitz is one of the few remaining players on the roster who shows even a hint of being willing to go fuck somebody up around the net and have it reciprocated in the process. Of course, it doesn't make much of a fucking difference when your "scoring threats" are taking shots from the half wall 78 times a game.

Matt Cooke has been turned into a poster boy for the NHL's punishment movement and, though he is in fact a skilled player, he is limited by the fact that even a strange look will get him suspended for eternity and chastised by local and national media as a ruthless hockey megalomaniac with no equal.

You know what, since we are careening down this road anyhow, fuck the media, too, for painting him as some supervillain with a soul made of pure evil. After his hit against the Rangers that led to his lengthy suspension, some media pundits, columnists, cocksuckers, whatever called him out, saying that he needs to "learn his lesson," "change his ways," and brought up his wife who was sick at the time.

Are you fucking serious? Yinz act like he tells his kids to stab their peers to get ahead, that mercilessly beating somebody is ethically sound, or that him getting suspended was somehow an affront against his wife. The most irresponsible, haphazard disgrace of "journalism" I have ever seen.

Anyway, back to the pussy play of the Pens, you remember guys in years past stirring up shit to the team's advantage -- Jarkko Ruutu, Mike Rupp, hell even Hal Gill. Now, everyone is taking the Georges Laraque method and trying to play well beyond their abilities. Hit some fuckers and get to the fucking net.

Paul Martin and Zybanek Michalek Are Too Busy Mutually Pleasuring One Another

Two summers ago, the Pens continued to build a team that thrived on fluid puck movement and defensive involvement in the attack. Well, two players signed from that free agency, Michalek and Martin, are certainly getting offensive, by which I mean, of course, that their play has been so painfully objectionable this season that I -- I, of all people -- take it as a gesture of extreme disrespect.

While these two defensive no-shows aimlessly pass the puck to the other team and play some tough defense that includes such tactics as letting players stand alone in the slot and discussing intriguing bedside literature with opposing forwards until they score another goal, the Penguins are drowning in their overall defensive ineptitude. Yes, looking at the box score, you can say the goalie came up big and that we are outshooting teams, but the truth is this: other teams are getting 20 shots right in front of our fucking net and, half the time, Fleury isn't in the net because he passed it to them.

These two perpetual minuses are sucking each other off, as the Penguins are eating their combined $9 million in salary. You know who the Penguins could get for that money -- fucking anybody in the NHL except Ovechkin whom I don't fucking want anyhow. At this point, they might as well have paid Rob fucking Scuderi that kinda cash because at least he has an inkling of how the hell to play some goddamn defense, even if he can't shoot a hockey puck to save his life.

So, what do the Pens do? Not the slightest of a clue. You don't want to overreact. Even if you did, you can't afford to buy them out; the team would carry significant dead weight counting against the salary cap. Nobody would want them in trade for anything beyond a bag of pucks -- you know, those things the other teams win and put in our net while Martin and Michalek are shooting hardcore guy-on-guy porn at center ice.

At this point, I'd sit one of them each night in the press box until they realize that their sexual endeavors should be kept off the ice -- or not during a game, at least -- and may actually do what they are paid for. Whom would I call up? Simon Despres is the first player that may run through fans' minds, but I would say no. No need to rush him to salvage what is quickly digressing into a clusterfuck of a season. Instead, I would let Despres keep getting top minutes and pull up a player like Brian Strait.

I really do like Strait, so I mean no disrespect when I say that his ceiling is not particularly high. He will never light up the scoreboard, rile fear in the hearts of opponents with crushing hits, or even eat up top minutes. But, just like Rob "The Piece" Scuderi -- who, funny enough, is often used as a way to describe Strait's style of play -- he can play some fucking defense. He can be useful on the penalty kill, keep the play simple, and get it out of the zone.

Do you remember Scuderi for a great breakout pass that won the cup? No. But you should remember him putting his body on the line and blocking a Johan Franzen shot, amongst others, to maintain a Penguins lead in Game 6 of the 2009 Finals. The last time I remember Michalek with his body down on the ice -- beside, of course, his falling over after the opening faceoff against Winnipeg, leading to the opening goal -- was against Tampa Bay in the playoffs when the puck still magically went into the net. For the love of Karstens, somebody figure something out.

Fleury Is Too Busy Taping It

Defensive shortcomings, whether caused by incompetent coverage or your defensemen being preoccupied with their bareback gay porn shoot, can be overcome if your goaltender is capable of picking up the slack. Marc-Andre Fleury, however, has instead chosen to pitch in on the set of Martin and Michalek's homosexual fetish film -- named something to the effect of, "Penetrating Deep in My Defensive Zone," I imagine.

I can only assume that, while directing, producing, or casting the picture, he saw a series of terrible things that cannot be 'unseen,' thus compelling him to throw the puck in any direction other than his defenders for fear of where they might stick it on or in their sexual partner.

Long-winded tirade about pornography aside, Fleury has fallen back into his obligatory (at least) one extended lull where he is prone to absurd mental gaffes and stupid plays that even my feeble great grandmother could intercept. Simply put, if your goalie can't step up when your team is down, then it's just more bad news.

The Team N... Oh for fuck sake, really?! A throw?! In overtime?! God fucking dammit. There goes the case of Iron. And now to open the Imperial.

Alright, jags. Fuck this. Get ripped after that one.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oh Canada -- Cry Me a Fuckin River

Hey, jags, hope yinz are enjoying the return to the daily grind. I know I ain't, but I suppose the renewed flow of income lets me upgrade back to Iron City instead of PBR and Duquesne Pilsner.

Anyhow, yinz need not worry; I got some Steelers coverage in the works for yinz about the wild card game Sunday and Tebow, who likely couldn't win a prize in the football toss game at the church fair.

Before that, though, yinz know I like to provide some hockey insight on events that don't exactly get a lot of press time on ESPN because they're busy, you know, talking about the most recent attempted murder case for Ndamukong Suh, the results from the last vet visit for Drew Brees's house cat, and a voyeur camera coverage of every room in Brett Favre's house.

The most recent such event is the World Junior Championships going on right now in Calgary, Alberta, full of frothing fans of Team Canada who, I presume, will gladly start more fires and perhaps flood Interpol with complaints about the international refereeing if their team doesn't win.

In case yinz weren't aware, Team USA is being represented by three -- in one case, near -- southwestern Pennsylvania players, Brandon Saad (Blackhawks first-round pick), J.T. Miller (Rangers first-round pick), and John Gibson (Ducks second-round pick). Now, given the team's results, I don't know if that's a poor reflection on the state of hockey in Pittsburgh or what.

Team USA underachieved greatly, suffering losses to the Finns and Czechs after beating the Danes worse than Mike Milbury does inattentive, underachieving, or maybe even ugly youth hockey players -- you pick the motive on that one. Those two losses jettisoned them out of the medal round and, instead, landed them a date with Latvia.

As a member of the former Soviet bloc, the Latvian team is kinda like a brod with really attractive sisters. Russia and Slovakia are almost always smoking hot from year to year, so you feel pretty confident meeting up with Latvia despite her blurry, oddly-positioned, Myspace-style photos. When it's all said and done, though, you pay for the Primanti's Cheesesteak, drop her off, and never call her back.

The USA's rendezvous with Latvia ended as I imagine most dates there do: with the richer, more powerful of the two (i.e., Team USA) -- or more, as Latvians strike me as people who would regularly engage in orgies -- brutally victimizing the weaker to his or her fulfillment. The 12-2 beatdown should be no consolation, though, as Team USA was apparently good enough to play a close game with Canada in their 3-2 loss, but can't beat the same countries that had their collective ass pounded by our neighbors to the north.

A Latvian player -- who fucking knows what his name is -- gets in proper position as Emerson Etem prepares to assert himself as a player for a first-world country with only semi-corrupt politician and some semblance of effective health care.

The only solace for Chuck K, besides self-medicating with a damn near factory line of Iron, was the semifinal match-up between Russia and Canada.

As usual, Canada came into the tournament with that bratty sense of entitlement that they carry into every hockey competition. What they didn't foresee, however, was a Russian team ready to stomp their conceited ass into the goddamn ice.

Led by Evgeny Kuznetsov, who pretty much ran train on the entire tournament field last year, and Nail Yakupov, who will be drafted first overall in Pittsburgh this summer and should be by virtue of his name alone, the Russians sped out to a 6-1 lead. Though the Russian team had to take its compulsory break in giving a shit, letting the Canadians get back to a 6-5 deficit, they pulled out the win and kicked those fucks into the bronze game.

Really? Well, somebody forgot to tell the Ruskies, you arrogant pricks.

In case yinz aren't familiar with the hockey prospect scene, Evgeny Kuznetsov is going to be the next great Russian to excel abroad, only to eat up salary space and underperform at the NHL level for, but of course, the Washington Capitals.

Nail Yakupov, meanwhile, has got some legit potential, I think. He plays in the OHL, meaning he's willing to adjust to the North American game and is less likely to escape to Russia when he doesn't get his way like immensely talented yet whiny bitches Alexander Radulov (ran from Nashville to beat inferior talent in the KHL) and Nikita Filatov, another international goal-scoring phenom who is now back in Russia, presumably living in his mom's basement.

On top of that, he's a scrappy son of a bitch, as was evident in his complete lack of fear in taking on bigger Canadian players who tried to run him out of frustration -- because he was, you know, too busy being really good. He's got a legit work ethic -- he doesn't look like Alvarez aimlessly diving at a ball down the line -- and, to cap it all off, he's got hands of fucking (black and) gold. Oh, and c'mon, his fucking name is Nail.

You'll hear this guy's name echoing through the Consol Energy Center this summer, and I will likely cheer if I'm not chugging a beer at that time. I mean, the guy is called Nail -- like a friggin Iron Maiden guitarist.
I mean, I could stop there with coverage and end at Canada's demise in their quest for the gold, which you would think they had already won upon the tournament's first drop of the puck. What I really want to point out, though, is how fucking ignorant some of these assholes are. Christ, I would take people yelling "Shoot!" ad naseum over these shitheads.

Namely, you know that Team Canada supporters are still going on about the refereeing, but it's their team's own damn fault that they had to surmount a five-goal disadvantage in the third. The most egregious of these mistakes was with about five minutes left in the second, when a Russian player hit Boone Jenner and drew blood. About to win a five-minute major penalty for Team Canada, meaning they had five minutes to score as many goals as possible, Boone Jenner acted as stupid as his ridiculous fucking name and speared a Russian player. By the look on his face, he thought apparently that being from Canada completely absolved him from the rulebook and behaving like an ass clown.

So, to paraphrase Justin Timberlake, whom I sure Boone Jenner listens to with great joy every day: cry me a fucking river, Canada, as you sulk your way back to whatever tundra or permafrost you came from.

By the way, this tournament has only gone to show that every Swedish person has a name ending in -sson, -berg, or -strom. It's kinda absurd, really. I mean, what, are they all cousins?
But I thought this was Canada's game?