Monday, July 31, 2017

In Short: Neal Huntington Explaining to Kids That Vacation at Uncle's Camp in Zelienople This Year Will Help Secure Better Vacations in the Future

Huntington looks into his rearview mirror to clarify to his children the underlying economics of their ostensibly frugal vacation.

Pirates, Bill From Craigslist Make Blockbuster $475 Trade on Deadline Day

"They needed to bolster their clubhouse, and the Ford really needed some new tires before we go on vacation," said Bill, who thought both sides would benefit from the exchange.


Pirates GM Neal Huntington said the club would be active leading up to the trade deadline, seeking a deal that would provide short-term improvement, but also help to sustain their long-term vision.

And that's just what they did.

Facing today's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline, the Pirates have sent $475 to Bill from Craigslist for a five-year-old front-loading washing machine.

"We are really happy with how we've positioned ourselves to do our club's laundry, both now and in season to come," Huntington said in a brief press conference.

The team's post-break winning streak put the Pirates back into the race for the NL Central title, causing many fans and pundits to wonder whether the team would approach the deadline as buyers or sellers. Huntington believes, however, that he made the kind of splash this team needed without giving up too much.

"As a smaller-market club, we know the kind of limitations we have to deal with," he said. "But, as a GM, when you see a deal that can deliver instant results while also stabilizing your bigger picture -- well, you just have to pull the trigger."

Huntington discovered the listing of the 57-year-old Swissvale native, Bill McArthur, while perusing Craigslist for something to invigorate the clubhouse after an unsuccessful bid to trade Austin Meadows for a new team charter bus. It is said that negotiations were fierce and lasted nearly an hour.

"We started correspondence via e-mail," said McArthur, wiping some sweat from his prescription transition lenses, "but then Neal called me on the phone and said, 'Come on, Bill, let's make some magic happen.' That's when I knew he was dead serious about landing that washer."

Bill McArthur joined Huntington at today's press conference.
"And you know what, I was in serious trouble if we didn't get those tires changed, so here we are," he added, chuckling alongside Huntington.

The Pirates GM wanted to make it clear that he felt this appliance was sure to be an impact acquisition.

"I mean, you want a guy who can do it all: power, speed, range. This machine has got it. Not only can you finish a load in under 10 minutes, but we are also talking about some serious coverage here. Grass stains, dirt stains, chew spit, BBQ sauce -- it can handle anything. Not to mention that technique. Wait until you see this rotation on the rinse cycle. Silky smooth."

There is high demand already for the new arrival's jersey according to a spokesperson at MLB apparel.
The Pirates still find themselves five and a half games back from the division-leading Cubs, but Huntington thinks the club has got what it takes to win.

"It's a pretty simple principle, really. If you can get ground-in dark stains out with one wash, then you can win baseball games. And that's what we think we can do now."

Upon being asked how he foresaw the team winning without a reliable starter on the back end of the rotation or help in the outfield, Huntington said he had to leave to attend to an urgent matter, but that McArthur would be more than happy to field this and any other similar questions at this time.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wing Problems -- the Hockey Kind, Not That Time I Ordered the Ghost Chili Sauce and Fire-Hosed the Server With Vomit; That's Still Being Handled in Court

Hey jags and jagettes, we're keeping the IROC Z28 rolling here at Sports Unfiltered, because who in Pittsburgh uses the train, and dealing today with some wing issues the Penguins will have moving forward into next season. Alas, not the wing issues resulting from my sandblasting a server at a local watering hole with the byproduct of violently hot wing sauce; in fact, the court precludes me from sharing those details. That said, my air-tight defense that nobody should be served the hottest of sauces after downing 14 Duquesne Pils drafts, even if I did go back in the kitchen and demand it, will no doubt absolve me of any surrounding legal troubles.

No, instead today we will take a look at the situation on flanks of the Penguins lines for the 2017-18 season and a problem that has historically remained a foreign concept to the team: there may be too many qualified players at the position.

While Rutherford makes his rounds trying to secure a pivot on the third-line, presumably organizing the first 19-way trade in all of professional sports, the coaching staff will have to take a look at the guys on the outside. The first on-ice practices to come will help answer of these questions without too much deliberation, but as that date still lies off in the distance, let's investigate what Sullivan and company can do with a Numbers Crunch Sponsored by Duquesne Pilsner (sponsorship still pending).

NUMBERS CRUNCH

Sponsored by Duquesne Pilsner (sponorship still pending)  

Currently, Big Jim and the boys are out on the hunt to maintain the same "down-the-middle" dominance that the Penguins have translated into three Stanley Cup victories since that gangling, long-limbed Thunder Bay behemoth Jordan Staal joined Crosby and Malkin by surprising opposing teams that he could shoot, let alone stand up straight, despite being unable to handle the puck successfully through the opening of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, which -- to be fair -- most locals would measure at somewhere around two by three inches, if their driving were any indication.

Team Photos: Rutherford (2017), Staal (2009)
Missing, then, is the painfully myopic, dreadfully predictable narrative of "who Crosby is going to play with" during the upcoming season, his carousel of linemates having finally come to a stop, it seems -- though admittedly by a means more akin to removing land mines by stepping on them than anything that required careful planning. 

Sean Connery will not be partaking in the effort.
The more pressing matter, outside of Riverboat Jim's endeavor to find another guy at center, is how the slew of available wingers should be utilized through all four lines and, moreover, whether Rutherford can slap a deal together that helps to free up cap space and bring some other assets back. To this end, let's look over the current options, as well as some salary information.


Most notably, a number of contracts will demand attention when the season closes, and there is a real possibility that the team will find itself in another run of arbitration hearings, all of which could play into how things develop this year. That said, the organizational goal remains winning the Stanley Cup now, especially while the Crosby-Malkin-Letang core is at or near its peak and Rutherford can still read his text messages without needing a Jitterbug. For that reason, the team is going to keep the players it feels can best deliver them another championship before it makes moves to secure any of its future contract situations, long-term consequences be damned. I was going to remark that Rutherford probably wouldn't be alive to deal with them, anyway, but it appears he has some cabal with Paul Bearer (who, ironically, has passed) in order that may extend his life well into 2039-2040 season.

 

To simplify this whole affair, let's divide the team's options into two different categories: guarantees and possibilities.

Guarantees

#1: Phil Kessel - #1"B" RW alongside Evgeni Malkin

Let's face it: Kessel isn't going anywhere, and not because he is some fitness-defying folk hero who has never met a processed meat product he wouldn't eat. His contributions to the two latest Stanley Cup victories ought not be overlooked, but Kessel hits 30 as the season starts this year, and you have to hope that the speed and hands don't fall faster than a large pizza left unattended in his presence. 

Ultimately, the team will encounter difficulty moving a $6.8 million / yr. contract that ties him up through his 34th birthday; few teams will risk taking on an aging prima donna who will just start complaining when he is given too much ice time, too little ice time, and when he believes somebody on the bench tried to steal his fried imitation foodstuff. 

Phil Kessel attempts to explain -- yet again -- the private sphere of space for his Easy Cheese and Funyuns that musn't be broken.
That said, 30 is hardly a death knell for a player who doesn't commit much to the game outside of the his offensive performance, so I would actually expect Kessel to have a bit of an improved year in scoring goals over the last. Beyond that, his passing game is highly overlooked -- his 47 assists were a career high -- and he did manage nearly a point per game in the playoffs. Right now, the man can still play, and with the Penguins trying to maximize success with their main three stars, the team won't let him move, barring some incredible hockey trade that is unlikely to materialize throughout the season.

#2: Patric Hornqvist - top-9 RW, rotated regularly

Conversely, Patric Hornqvist embodies the spirit of hockey: hard-working, tenacious, and relentless in the tough spaces on the ice. With only one year remaining on his contract, along with the way Sullivan and company preach playing the "right way," Hornqvist will undoubtedly stay on as a vital component to the team's overall identity.

Frankly, his stats will never amaze, quietly tallying another 19 goals during regular season and only nine points during the playoffs, but his scoring the biggest goal of the entire season points to the type of character he delivers and why he'll remain on the roster -- even if Sullivan throws darts blindfolded to determine where he fits in.

Another point worth your attention: a lot of media coverage pushes another exhausted viewpoint that his "wear n' tear" or "rough n' tumble" style may limit his ability to play at the highest level more quickly. It should be noted, though, that Hornqvist -- who will turn 31 mid-season -- has only played 579 NHL games to this point, and I would argue that games in this league are immensely more demanding physically than in any other.

 By comparison, Crosby, despite recurring injuries and concussion setbacks, has played 782, despite being slightly younger. Hornqvist, meanwhile, has always played 70 or more games except in two seasons: 2012-2013, when he played 24 of the 48 games in the lockout-effected year, and 64 in his first year with the Penguins. Accordingly, concern that he won't survive the rigor of his playing style should be allayed until his upcoming contract negotiations, where such issues will surely emerge in discussions.

#3 Ryan Reaves - bottom-9 RW w/ occasional shifts in top-6 to widow / orphan opposing player's family

I think it's safe to say that Ryan Reaves was brought in to add a dynamic element to a sometimes predictable power play, while also chipping in some important goals at even strength.

No shit, assclown, that wasn't sincere. Reaves was acquired because Crosby demanded they get somebody to cover him on the ice, between slurs in speech and random fits of staring at nothing, and so that anyone who might look to bend the rules against Crosby -- whether you agree with the strategy notwithstanding -- will have to consider the potential of being impaled with Reaves' stick or fist.

#4 Bryan Rust - top-9 RW / LW, based on injuries and whatever Sullivan reads into that fortune cookie he got with his order Hunan Pork the night prior

Bryan Rust stands out in that he is an amalgam of several different players on the wing: he has some of Hornqvist's grit and dedication to the "tough areas"; he has some of Kessel's speed; and he possesses some puck skills to boot. His shooting percentage rose this year to 13.6%, which is well above the league average, even if only calculated for forwards; for comparison, the Washington Capitals forwards registered 13.4% this past season.

This boost in goals (15), points (28), and shooting percentage have coincided with more time on the ice, presumably more confidence, and have made Rust a primary cog in Sullivan's "wheel o' linemates," where he assuredly spins a device much like the Wheel of Fortune that determines line combinations outside of certain exceptions.

Best yet, Rust is only 25, so he still has time to develop the finer points of the game that will continue to show up on the ice and, hopefully, the score sheet. He'll be playing for a contract this year as well, albeit as a restricted free agent, so expect him not only to have a good season, but also to be a piece the Penguins will be relying on.

#5 Jake Guentzel - #1 LW alongside Sidney Crosby

16 goals in 40 regular season games; 13 in 25 playoff games -- what else is there to say? Finally -- for fuck sake, finally -- we can stop asking, "Who is the player that will best fit with Crosby?" and move on from this tired narrative that could be answered before with, for some reason, Colby Armstrong and Pascal Dupuis.

He's 22 and he's under his entry-level contract for another two years. Accordingly, the Penguins will ride this fucker out and then likely try to land a reasonable bridge deal for both parties, as Crosby and Malkin will be 32 and 33 at that point, and then be ready to evaluate their long-term plan as the team transitions.

#6 Scott Wilson - bottom-6 RW / LW, with some shifts on the top lines as needed

Wilson's stats provide less intrigue than Rust's, but he is, in part, viewed in the same light nevertheless: a player who "does things right," gets to the "dirty areas," and for whom you can check the box for every other coaching cliche that gets its fanfare in the standard hockey press conference and media scrum.

He has shown flashes of puck skill -- again, nothing incredible, but still noteworthy -- and for that reason he can always be moved forward if needed. He will most likely be and anchor wing on one of the bottom two lines, but be sure that the Penguins intend to keep him.

#7 Josh Archibald - fourth-line energy guy

This man has taken many forms -- most recently, perhaps, being Joe Vitale -- but he is a necessity around the league, in particular for teams that emphasize speed like the Penguins. He's the energy guy, the spark plug; the man who is caged up on the bench until being unleashed on the ice for 26 seconds at a time until his grand total of time on ice gets up to about eight minutes.

With parts moving over the summer, expect Archibald to be given every opportunity to stick with the main club this year on the wing. Statistically, there isn't much to go on, but you don't get time in the playoffs because the coaching staff doesn't like you -- injures be damned. So keep a look out to see how Archibald fits in this year.

Possibilities

#1 Sign and Trade of Conor Sheary
An unsigned free agent out of UMass-Amherst, Conor Sheary impressed mightily during the regular season, tallying 23 goals and 53 points in only 61 games, all of which seemed to be overlooked due to Guentzel's breakout season. The only misfortune for Sheary is that he faltered in the playoffs, only managing seven points and having to sit in the press box for a few games throughout. 
Advanced statistics would aid in this effort (but guess what, I don't get paid, so you can fuck right off if you think I'm going to start diving into the Sabermetrics equivalent of hockey), but the eye test verified it easily enough: Sheary also struggled terribly in his own end during the playoffs as well. Whether this event occurred due to fatigue or the changing dynamic of the game when the playoffs begin is hard to say. 

Nevertheless, as the team approaches arbitration with Sheary (August 4), it remains a real possibility that the Penguins could look to capitalize on the value he earned over the course of the regular season to tidy up other areas on the roster, not the least of which being the center position.
If Sheary lands a reasonable contract around, say, $4.5 million, then he will press the Penguins back up close to the cap, where they currently sit under by $6.28 million thanks to some heartfelt goodbyes or expiring contracts. The problem therein is again, of course, "Who is going to play with Sidney Crosby?"

That said, if the Penguins are going to find a viable option on the third-line without needing to perform ritualistic sacrifice that it will come from within the organization, then Sheary is the piece to do it. In reality, they will likely tender his contract, whatever it may be, and then go from there, as the team will need to see more from certain players to come to a decision.

#2 Oh, hey, I'm Daniel Sprong, and I can stickhandle through a minefield blindfolded

Sigh.
"Who is going to play with Sidney Crosby?" 

Well, Sprong may be your answer.

The Penguins feel justified in showing him what it was like at the pro level two years, which burned a year on his entry-level contract before he really got to make an impact in the NHL. And this past season, he was sidelined for the entirety of the year. Now, Sprong has one year remaining on his first deal, which, strangely enough, appears to play into the Penguins favor, as he will not only be hungry to get on the ice and make it to the next level, but he will also be limited in any demands during free agency because his window of play to evaluate ("body of work" is the painful cliche to be tied up in a trunk and thrown into a river) will be limited to 18 games (and two goals) during his first stint and whatever he does this coming year.

His potential emergence will most definitely be a storyline going into camp and will be sure to determine how the Penguins progress with their roster. Without question, though, the kid has got talent -- watch some of these goals, for instance -- but will it carry over to the top level, and will that be enough to push other players out of the picture?

#3 Carl Hagelin ends up in the Monongahela wearing cement shoes
Listen, I'm not one to condone homicide, nor would I ever accuse Jim Rutherford of questionable tactics in his managing an NHL team, but I can't figure out any other way the Penguins are going to make the most out of Carl Hagelin this year, and the most viable possibility seems to be his floating lifelessly in the bottom of a river while chained to several of cinder blocks. 
Hagelin has speed, there's no denying it, which makes him fit the team mold and certainly helps on the penalty kill. However, a $4 million investment, this coming season and the next, is much better spent elsewhere, securing Sheary, for instance, without making the salary seem like a burden.
The easy remark is, of course, a popular one among the media-devouring public: "Trade him!" The reality is, though, that the Penguins more or less would have pull off a salary dump, meaning they would be sending him alongside another asset, keeping part of his salary (which may negate any real value they have in return), or they would be taking on another player with a comparable who may fit in better -- you know, how we got Hagelin (for David Perron) in the first place.

So it seems that the only option is for Jim to hire some of his associates (perhaps his buddy Le Chiffre can help him out) and ensure that Hagelin goes randomly missing for a season -- or at least until they can find a way to work something out that's a little less, uh, nautical.
 #4 Kuhnhackl -- fuck, who knows?
There's been word that Kuhnhackl can play some center, and that the Penguins hope to exploit it, promoting Carter Rowney to the third line.
Now, if the Penguins organization believes Rowney is the solution at that spot, then there ought to be some more word that team management has been going for one too many joyrides with Le'veon Bell and LaGarrette Blount.
Kuhnhackl has been hampered by streaks of inconsistency that have forced him in and out of the lineup throughout the season. Unless the team executives keep on blasting "I Got 5 On It" while making important roster considerations, I would expect his fourth-line merry-go-round to continue.
#5 Zach Aston-Reese Impresses in Camp

The Penguins have never been an ideal destination for major college-to-pro signings because the team's top center and defense positions are usually occupied, and the team couldn't match the salary demands of those on the wing.

That said, the Penguins feel they have a winner in Hobey Baker finalist Zach Aston-Reese, whom they signed from Northeastern after a 63-point season his senior year. Not to mention, he followed this act by playing 10 games for the WB/S Penguins, in which he totaled eight points -- all in all, a decent showing for his first pro experience.

The question with Reese will be his ceiling. Like any prospect, there is potential for the kind of game he plays not to translate completely to the highest level. Among them, however, Reese seems to be the most well-polished, as Jason Mackey notes in his column on Reese's performance, and for that reason, he seems poised as well to fit somewhere in the Penguins plans this year.

Where, though, would he fit?

The Penguins, at the moment, are stuffed with right wings, but if he matches those old coach's standbys ("play the right way" being most prevalent), then he should have a chance to make it into a bottom-six role. From there, he'll have the potential to move forward.

If nothing else, at a reasonable $925,000, at least he won't get lost with Rutherford during a fishing trip.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Riverboat Jim Back Off That Gambling Wagon

How's it going, jags? Another day, another killer entry from my cousin Rick, along with the hard-hitting analysis and fiery commentary you love (/loathe) so much to follow from yours truly. Let's roll.

JAG ON THE INSIDE: THE LATEST SCOOP FROM COUSIN RICK

Jim Rutherford Ends Up in High-Stakes Poker Game While Searching for Third-Line Center

Coincidentally, Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle still looking for checkbook, wondering why Rutherford requested $10 million for "some snacks for the office"

An anonymous source, possibly my jag buddy Andy, submitted this photo of Rutherford engaged in the Texas Hold 'Em tournament.


Amidst efforts to locate an anchor for the team's third line, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has apparently stumbled into a multi-million dollar game of Texas Hold 'Em in Montenegro, whose players include some of the world's most nefarious villains and undercover agents.

Sources say Rutherford entered the room, hands in pocket and whistling through the crowd, took a seat at the table, and threw down a check written out for $10 million and several professional contracts, asking the assembled group of players, "You ladies mind if I join?"

After confirming that no fellow player had the contract for Martin Hanzal or Ryan Spooner, Rutherford reportedly rubbed his hands together and said, "Well, let's see if ol' Jimbo can line his pockets a bit then."

Having now played for several hours, the 68-year-old admits to having "perhaps" lost the rights to a few a players, but remained hopeful regarding their capacity for future success.

"Carter Rowney is a quick learner and an even harder worker. I'm sure he will be a fine addition to MI6 and whatever it is they do."

Angered, he added, "Whose ass do you have to kiss to get a guy that can play a 200-foot game and chip in 15 goals for you?!"

Despite having incurred some losses, Rutherford is confident he can still come out on top over the competition.

"This Bond character thinks he's smooth, but he doesn't know the ol' 'veteran right-handed defenseman for an underachieving rookie with upside' trick like I do. And this Le Chiffre guy -- Christ, he might explode before the game's through. Never smiles. You could probably shove a piece of coal up his ass and make diamonds."

As of posting, Rutherford was talking to Olli Maatta on the phone, asking him whether he had ever had dreams of becoming the crony to an international terrorism financier and insisting that he would have called that bet with the chance for an open-ended straight right of the flop, too.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Twitter-Only Feature, My Cousin Rick Is Kind of Like Dre -- You Know, In That You Ought Not Forget About Him

Hey jags, I know I was about to head off to wings, but I figured I had better deliver some of the good stuff that I just promised in my previous post, so a couple more things that demand follow through:

NEW TWITTER FEATURE: DAILY SHIT LIST


Foremost is a feature that will available on Twitter only because it's a hell of a lot easier to do than on a blog. Inspired by the text diarrhea clogging the internet, keep tabs on me @Chuck_K_Sports to get your fix of the Daily Shit List. That's right, every day you get another ridiculous list that is only appropriate to induce vomit, but would probably be accepted by The Sportster and presumably read by some imbecile who likes the pictures. So keep up with that shit -- or don't; the hell if I care.

AIN'T NOTHING BUT MY JAG COUSIN RICK


As if my return weren't exciting enough, I got my jag cousin Rick hungry to get back on the trail and drop the latest scoop that you won't get anywhere else. Without further -- actually, cliches blow, but not Dr. Dre references, so scratch that. Here's Rick... and, uh, he's still R.I.C.K.

Pedro Alvarez Let Go by Local Burger Restaurant After Series of Dreadful Errors on Register


"Kid, I Just Need You to Consistently Hit Buttons; It's Why We Brought You In," Explained Manager in Statement Awfully Familiar to Alvarez

Pedro Alvarez, former second overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft, was released from his part-time job at a local casual burger restaurant today following a costly string of misplays on both the first and third registers.

Alvarez had held the position of sales associate at Billy's Burger House in Norfolk, Virginia for two months before staff manager Kent Lillington had to dismiss him due to underwhelming performance, even when faced with simpler tasks.

"I like the kid; I really do," Lillington said. "But we're talking about routine purchases at the register here. A burger with cheese, no other toppings, no sides. It doesn't get any easier than that."

Managers reported that such shortcomings occurred regularly during Alvarez's time at the restaurant.

"For Christ's sake, the price is right on the menu above the registers. Just type it in manually if you have to," Lillington added.

Alvarez currently plays for the Norfolk Tides, AAA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. He sought a side job in the area to "clear [his] head when not on the field," which led him to the small burger joint. Even on the first visit, he impressed the various managers alike with his natural talent for the work.

"When [Alvarez] first came in here, it was like, 'Wow, this guy has got what it takes,'" human resources manager Christina Hardy said. "How could you pass up on him? Inviting smile, good hygiene, capable at basic arithmetic, clear pronunciation. He had all the tools to make a name for himself here at Billy's Burger House, but it just didn't pan out."


Alvarez poses with an official sales team member shirt on the day of his hire.
"When [Alvarez] first came in here, it was like, 'Wow, this guy has got what it takes,'" human resources manager Christina Hardy said. "How could you pass up on him? Inviting smile, good hygiene, capable at basic arithmetic, clear pronunciation. He had all the tools to make a name for himself here at Billy's Burger House, but it just didn't pan out."

Lillington trained Alvarez personally, striving to mold him into a model employee who could advance to the assistant manager position, and was encouraged by his initial success in all facets.  When it came to live action, though, the six-year shift manager started to see uncharacteristic mistakes.

"I go in there with full faith and put him on third register where we get a lot customers," Lillington recalled. "So halfway through the shift, [Alvarez has] been up and down, but that's normal. This old lady comes up to him -- easy order, guaranteed -- and he not only added fries she didn't ask for, but then tried to charge her for them, too. The time it took to get everything figured out cost us four paid customers in that hour alone."

As the days passed, Alvarez still seemed unable to cope with the stress on the job.

"Don't even get me started about time I asked him to toss me some ketchup packets," Lillington remarked, refusing to recount the story in detail. "That lady still gives me the middle finger every day I see here."

Managers attempted to mediate his difficulties by moving him to first register and emphasizing the basic philosophy of his tasks, including that he "just needs to make contact with those buttons" and "shouldn't overthink it." Ultimately, though, the efforts fell short.

"We tried. We really did," said Hardy. "When his move to first register was a repeat disaster, we knew it was time to move on."

Despite having to move on, Lillington still thinks Alvarez is poised to succeed elsewhere.

"The kid didn't make it in the burger market. Oh well." He shrugged. "I heard he was a real buzz of the baseball world, so he's got that if nothing else. I mean, sure, he can't punch in and assemble a bacon burger combo to save his life, but at least he can throw a baseball with the best of them -- right?"

If Sloth Is a Deadly Sin, Then Color Me Condemned: First Post of 2017, New Logo, Twitter, and All That Sort of Shit

Happy, uh, New Year wishes to you, jags and jagettes; my utterly insincere apologies for their being about seven months belated: I was busy mowing the lawn -- or whatever -- while also disrupting visitors and natives alike, both at home and abroad, as I threatened the TV screen in a number of different places, in a number of different languages whose curse words were taught to me in that very moment, all of which was clearly effective in helping the Penguins to secure yet another Stanley Cup championship. 

After which, my spirit animal Olli Maatta and I were sure to rejoice, reveling in a such a way that one of us was the featured star in an explosion of tongue-in-cheek media that included an aerial shot of being passed out face down on his own couch, whereas the other of us was greeted with violent, rather intrusive pokes of a broomstick and alerted that this couch was, in fact, somebody else's and the police had been called. Their forewarning is greatly appreciated.

That all said, we have no time to waste -- beyond a mere seven months of the year, evidently -- so let's get right to the hottest stuff.

MODERNIZATION ONGOING: THINK I'M NOW CAUGHT UP TO SOMEWHERE AROUND THE YEAR 2009


Let's resolve one matter immediately: I do whatever the hell I want, hence my lengthy absence from delivering the powerful, occasionally poor-syntax-wielding (case in point) news and insight you so desperately desire. My return seemed perfectly ripe, however, to adopt some critical adjustments to the contemporary presentation of modern media, the fruits of which have brandished the blog a new title photo and now a direct connection to Chuck K's bottomless well of coverage and ideas. 

That's right, Sports Unfiltered and its associated ramblings can now be accessed on Twitter, granting easy access to something entertaining while a physician rattles off some inane drivel about the need to "quit drinking" and "liver failure," or a judge admonishes you -- yet again -- for setting the Cleveland Browns team bus on fire. So, to get in on it all, follow @Chuck_K_Sports, lest I not share my cooler full of tall boys next time I see you at the tailgate.

Between the two, I feel confident that my platform of revelations, tirades, and tangents has been sufficiently thrust into the last decade of technology, which should cover me, if Moore's Law holds any weight, until about ten minutes from now.

The greater question, one that burns undoubtedly within you, is what compelled me to such a productive return, particularly when there's no mullet-stricken douche ladle to incite my absolute visceral fury. That, my folks, would be the glorious world of semi-professional, work-as-you-wish sports writing.

Hoping to fuel my wing night run of last week, I turned the vile world of commissioned blog posts in the thought I could churn out enough material to snag about $10 and, with that, a pleasant dozen fried chicken parts paired with a couple domestics. 

To this end, I turned to The Sportster, an open contributor-based sports commentary site, as a potential means. As if there were even the slightest expectation otherwise, I replied to their general inquiry in the same fashion as you would expect on my own site. Now, fairly, I should have anticipated conflict between its philosophy and what I do: it's poor enough to demean any endeavor with a name that combines its area of content (sports) and _ster, like a dad pathetically attempting to aid his own child in titling his or her first website or page ("Well, champ, what if we called it, 'Dogster'?" "Um, see dad, that name sucks"). On top of that, the first page also boasted some of the most painful 'articles' one could manage.

Yeah, you read it right: this post was "featured."
Wings are wings, though, and they shan't be missed, so I moved onward, optimistic that I would still be able to add content that may actually be interesting to read to this godforsaken 'publication' and then cash in with some saucy wings with above-medium spice (the flavor varying, of course, by chosen provider). As if there were even the slightest expectation to the contrary, I replied to the general inquiries just as I would write anything on the blog here. 

Two questions seemed best to differentiate myself. First, paraphrased, what kind of elements will you bring to our site despite its shit name (OK, heavily paraphrased)?

Answer: to the effect of, "...by writing articles people will actually find interesting, in contrast to the myriad of the asinine, cringe-worthy Buzzfeed replicas that currently reside on your homepage."

Then, I was asked to come up with three entries I would propose, were I to be accepted.

Answer:

(1) Alex Ovechkin Interfered with the U.S. Election, and I Have Proof -- Or Maybe I Don't, But You'll Have to Read On to Find Out

(2) Stop Treating Pro Athletes Like Seraphs: They Can Drink, Smoke Weed, and Solicit Hookers, Too

(3) -- to feed into the cliche -- 10 Pro Athletes Who Probably Strike Their Partner, But Hopefully Won't Sue for Libel

The result?

Oh, for fuck sake.




Well, so much for wings then.

But from the tragic wing night unfulfilled, a more vital cause emerged. Namely, that the world shouldn't have to go on, forced to rely on the drivel of some horseshit sports content mill and those of a similar construct in order to get the commentary it needs. Dammit, we deserve better. 

For that reason, after seven months of apathy, I do return, and I'll crack a beer to the mission of authentic, impassioned writing for the like-minded reader. 

All right, with that all in mind, I'm off to get some wings. Be back shortly, ideally prior to another seven months.