Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

On Our FF League’s Dirty Laundry…

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010 in Fantasy Football, Media, Sports

Greetings.  I’ve decided to post our Fantasy Football league’s weekly (or bi-weekly) Power Ranking write-ups, written by your’s truly.  Why?  Because I’m a bigtime narcissist, and think my Power Rankings are the shit; plus, a Fantasy Football post should should generate a healthy number of hits here.

So without further ado, I present to you, the PimpNational Football League’s first Power Rankings of the 2010 campaign.  Enjoy, you fucking nerds.

The first Power Rankings of the 2010 PFL season are FINALLY FUCKING HERE!  Again, sorry for not having them out last week, but be prepared for the occasional week-without-PRs, as they are very labor intensive, and my dance-card is a LOT fuller these days.  But I pledge to never go more than a week without doing the PR Write-ups.  Just to recap the PR format for y’all: We the Media weight our analysis heavily on teams’ most recent performance, including bench play, but factor in previous weeks production as well.  We also factor in the CBS PRs, which are based soley on a 3-category aggregate ranking score: CBS ranks all teams 12-1 in Record, Total Points, and Breakdown (which is a team’s “All Play” record), which leads to the PR score.  For example, the #1 ranked team with a 35 is Cawley’s Teflon Dons, who are ranked tops in Points and Breakdown and get 12 points accordingly for each, and tied for tops in record, which therefore gets them 11 points.  Got it?  Often the PFL and CBS PRs will not jive, but we will always include the CBS ranks next to the team name, along with record, total points, and Last Week’s PFL rank.  Got it?  Good.

1.) TEFLON DONS (2-0; 243.9; cbs-1)
Brian Cawley’s Gotti Crew are #1 With A Bullet, appropriately enough, in this, the first Power Rankings of the 2010 campaign.  The PFL’s highest scoring team thus far, the Teflon Dons followed up a WK-1 high of 126 with another impressive output of 117 in Week 2.  Phil Rivers is off to a nice, consistent start, with 27+ and 24+ in the first two weeks, respectively.  The running attack has also, well, hit the ground running, so to speak: Forte blew up in the passing game, with over 150 yards and 2 TD, en route to a huge 33+ WK-1, and added another 5 catches including a TD, good for 15+ in WK-2; Gore posted a serviceable double-digit Wk-1 (11.3) based on some rushing and 6 catches, but went off against the Saints on MNF for 32.3, thanks to 7 receptions that included a TD to go along with 112 RuYd and a RuTD.  With these two excellent pass-catching RBs, not to mention a 3rd on the bench in Pierre Thomas (8 catches in Wk-2), Cawley is looking set at this position.  Also, it looks like Miles Austin has picked up where he left off last season, with back-to-back 10-catch games to start the season, and a 22.4 avg.  So the Dons have their #1WR all set too.  Rivers, Gore, Forte, and Austin makes for QUITE the fearsome foursome.  And Dustin Keller’s 21 (7rec,115ReYd,1TD) from the bench looks like a sign of FF greatness to come.  Also, the Sainst DST are looking like they should be a productive unit throughout the season.  The only possible rat in the Gotti Crew could come from the WR depth, or lack thereof.  After Austin, there is little to strike fear into the hearts of Cawley’s opponents.  Garcon was drafted to be the #2WR, but hasn’t even played like a #3 yet; same goes for Meachem and Naanee.  Still, even without a productive #2WR, the Dons should crack the magic 100 mark most weeks based on their Big-4 alone; add some consistent production from another WR, and the TE slot, and you have a lethal team here.

2.) CLEAVELAND STEAMERS (2-0; 201.8; cbs-2)
Lex has not had much PFL success, since joining the PFL a few years back.  But this year, Lex and his 2-0 Steamers are looking primed to shit all over the competition and make their 1st playoff appearance.  This roster has performed well, top-to-bottom, and still has yet to get the most from a solid backfield.  Aaron Rodgers followed up a dicey 2-INT, 16+ WK-1, with a big 30+ WK-2, that included a RuTD; this ability to run for TDs in the redzone makes the Packers QB THAT much more dangerous.  The aforementioned RBs, specifically Ced Benson and Ronnie Brown, have been producing thus far – each scored a TD in WK-1, and rushed for over 75 yards in WK-2 – but have yet to post any 20s, which are forthcoming.  The depth here is looking nice too: Donald Brown had one of his best games as a pro on Sunday night, with a TD and 69 RuYd; and recent waiver pick-up Brandon Jackson scored TD in place of injured Ryan Grant, for Green Bay.  Perhaps the biggest news through 2 weeks for Cleaveland has been Wes Welker’s great start.  In the Draft Grades, we said it was a calculated risk taking Wes at the end of 3rd as a #1 WR, and so far it is paying off, big time.  Welker’s game has shown no signs of being hampered by his late-season knee blowout: He’s doing his usual reception thing, averaging 7 of them per game thus far.  But now Welker is scoring TDs as well – 3 of them already – which could elevate The Great White Hope to elite WR status.  Speaking of TDs, Donald Driver has scored a pair, and just continues to defy age and FF wisdom, as he remains Rodgers #1 safety valve and redzone target.  If this wasn’t enough, Lex has some impressive WR depth so far: in WK-1 Gaffney had a TD; as did Collie, whose 73-yd TD contributed mightily to a huge 25.8 output, that also included another 10 receptions; Collie again scored in Wk-2.  Oh, and Lex also has TO: scary depth here.  And speaking of depth, how about D-Mac’s 426 bench passing yards?  Not bad for a #2; McNabb looks good.  And rounding out this very well built squad is an excellent K/DST combo: the Jets and Mason Crosby each scored 10 points in the first 2 weeks; Lex doesn’t have to worry about playing the matchups here, which is nice.  The Steamers are looking fierce so far, and even though Cleveland, OH will never win a championship, CLEAVEland, CT certainly seems to be on the right track.

3.) THE WIGGLES (1-1; 214.4; cbs-3)
Miesse’s crew was solid enough in Wk-1 with 86+ in a losing effort to a tough B’More Omars squad (who scored 99), but they rebounded VERY nicely in Wk-2 to get their first victory and the week’s top scoring output as well, with 128.  This big week is made all the more impressive when considering Brady’s poor outing – the Jets turned him over 3 times, and limited him to just under 16.  Brady was on point in Wk-1, however, with 3TDs and 28+.  Brady is gonna post big numbers this year, because the Pats ground game is virtually non-existent, as opposed to the Wiggles rushing attack, which is robust and downright scary through 2-weeks.  Adrian Peterson could have his biggest season yet, based on his violent runs and return to the focal point of the Vikes offense.  AP is even increasing his receiving totals, with 8 catches for 55 yards so far.  LeSean McCoy is off to an outstanding start to the 2010 campaign, and is looking like Westbrook 2.0.  He had solid production in Wk-1, with 5 catches for 47, and 35 RuYD and a TD, good for 16.7.  But in Wk-2, the Real McCoy showed up in full berserker regalia, as he posted a career high with 120 RuYD and 3 TD, en route to an eye-opening 32.8.  Sims-Walker was out for Wk-1, but came back strong in Wk-2 with 10 catches, 103 ReYD, and a TD; he’s proving to be a legit #1WR, for both the Jags and FF owners.  Sims-Walker could be huge for Miesse, especially if Steve Smith (NYG) continues to be a dump-off afterthought in the Giants offense (9 catches thus far, but for only 78 yards and no TDs.)  We killed the WR depth in the Draft Grades, but that is obviously not the case right now, as Jacoby Jones had a TD, 6 catches, and 14+ in Wk-2 from the bench.  Also, Miesse made two very nice FA pickups to shore up his WR depth – Louis Murphy and Nate Washington each scored TDs this week (Nasty Nate’s 2nd in as many games.)  They also have Housh, but he’s done nada thus far.  The backup RBs, Cadillac and Ricky Williams, haven’t done shit either, but, barring injury, won’t be seeing starts anyway.  The Wiggles seem to have a rock solid DST in Green Bay – Clay Matthews and his 6 sacks are better than many team totals.  If Miesse can solve his TE issues – which he may have done by grabbing Mercedes Lewis – the Wiggles could field one of the more dangerous lineups week to week.

4.) NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS (2-0; 185.3; cbs-4)
The Jizms have not set the PFL on fire by any means, with a solid, if not imposing, 92.6 scoring avg, but they did break 100 in their Wk-2 victory, after being fortunate to win in Wk-1 with a pedestrian 82.6, over Prah and his paltry 57.5.  Besides Mendenhall’s walk-off 50-yard TD in OT, this running game hasn’t got in gear.  Turner was en route to a big Wk-2 with 75-yards on only 9 carries in the 1st half, but he tweaked a hammy, and Jason Snelling took over and went off for 39 points on nearly 200 all purpose yards and 3TDs.  Fortunately for JC, he wisely chose Snelling over Norwood to handcuff Turner.  Schuab only had 8 points in Wk-1, which was a big factor in the Emissions only scoring 82; but he bounced back in a BIG way in Wk-2, with almost 500 yards passing to go with 3 TDs, as he scored 36 and helped get the Jizms over 100.  Jennings started off right in Wk-1 with a TD and 16.7, but disappeared in Wk-2, as the rest of Green Bay’s receivers got theirs; and with Malcolm Floyd, the opposite was the case, as HE got the big TD bomb from Rivers in Wk-2.  The WRs are pretty shaky here after Jennings, at least until Floyd shows consistent production; the bench WRs have been downright awful: Aromashadu and Evans both scored nothing in Wk-2, despite being active. Santonio Holmes cannot come back from suspension soon enough.  Besides the big game from Snelling in place of Turner, the bench RBs have been equally as bad, with the speedy Felix and Leon each not seeing enough touches to warrant a start.  Finely had a disappointing start to the year, with only 4 catches for 47 yards, but came on strong with 4 for 103 in Wk-2.  The Bengals DST also bounced back in Wk-2, dominating Flacco and the Ravens, after getting shredded by Brady and the Pats in Wk-1.  This team is somewhat fortunate to be 2-0, as they’ve yet to reach their potential.  If the running game can step up and perform like they’re supposed to, and Floyd can become Rivers’ #1 guy, then the Jizms should continue winning, but that is looking far from a sure thing at this point in the season.

5.) TOUGH TITTIES (1-1;195.3; cbs-7)
Swords had a tough opener, scoring only 70+ in losing to Lex and his 101.  These things happen when Brees scores under 15, no 20+ outputs, and a handful of single digits, including the rare stinker from Andre Johnson, who only caught 3 passes for 33 yards.  Dallas Clark was the only real baller in that one, with 11 catches, a TD, and 19.5.  Bradshaw managed to find the endzone, and score a solid 14.  But the pieces started to fall into place for Swords in Wk-2: Brees stepped up with 23, and Andre returned to form with 28, on 12 catches that included the game tying bomb, en route to 158 yards.  And Bradshaw added a nice 89 yards, but no scores.  Bradshaw is clearly the mailman in NY now, with Jacobs acting the fool and running like a bitch, all of which bodes very well for Swords and the Titties’ running game, as the season progresses.  Bradshaw has become VERY important, especially in light of the slow start to Jonathan Stewart’s season and the suspect RB depth (Swords really needs Beanie Wells to get healthy, and step it up.)  Depth a WR is also an issue after Andre, but Swords may have alleviated this issue by trading red-hot Jay Cutler to QB-starved Prah, for Santana Moss, who could post some very nice numbers with D-Mac throwing him the rock: Moss’s 10 catch, 89 yard Wk-2 is a VERY positive sign in this department.  Good trade, that aided both teams, although Prah may end up with the better end of it if Cutler keeps it up.  And speaking of Cutler and the Bears’ O, Swords has both Hester and Knox, each of whom has the potential to produce: the problem is figuring out which one is gonna get the most action.  After being subjected to the whims of Hal5000’s selection method, Swords is looking solid, especially considering he currently is holding the league’s best D, the Steelrs, who suffocated the Titans O, shutting down CJ and taking the ball away 7 times, en route to a huge 27.

6.) PRAHBLO ESCOBAR (1-1; 182.3; cbs-8)
The Escobars had a huge bounce-back effort in Wk-2, with 124+ points, and all with Javid Best and his 45.7 left to rot in the hot sun of Don Prah’s bench.  Prah needed very little of his scoring explosion to beat the woeful WFF, and in fact could have won by starting Best, and Best alone, as his 45+ output surpassed that of Kenyon’s ENTIRE TEAM, but more on HIS weak-ass later.  After facing a dire QB situation with Kolb dealing with a concussion, Prah made a nice trade to acquire Jay Cutler, which paid off nicely, as Cutler posted a nearly flawless 3-TD, 29+ performance.  This trade was made all the more important after the announcement that Vick will be the Eagles’ starting QB for the foreseeable future.  And it is not like Prah even needs Santana Moss, what with a SICK starting WR combo of Roddy White and DeSean Jackson, not to mention rookie Demaryius Thomas and his breakout 19.7 performance (8 for 121, 1TD) from the bench.  With Cutler on fire, and these WRs, this team is looking fierce, and we have hardly touched on the backfield.  Yeah, Best in the truth, after going berserker in his 2nd game as a pro, against a decent enough Philly D. Steven Jackson is the perfect producer back to compliment Best, and should mitigate any off games from the rookie.  And if Darren McFadden continues his strong play this year – he’s avergaing 20 FF points and 120 RuYd per game – this could be a backfield to be reckoned with; and Prah will have one of those “good problems:” which 2 of these 3 studs to start.  Oh, and he’s got Owen Daniels at TE, who has yet to get off; but you know it is coming.  The Escobars are ranked 6th here only because they’re still digging themselves out of the 57-point hole they dug for themselves in Wk-1; but look for this squad to go screaming up the PRs if the aforementioned trends continue.

7.) PIERCE & PIERCE (0-2; 204.3; cbs-5)
Larry is the PFL’s defending champ, and it seems that the Champion’s Curse is again in full-effect.  The last three champs have seemingly faced an unusually hard slate of opponents, and their berserkers.  Of course this makes sense in a weird sort of way, that the Champs get everyone’s A-game.  So Larry lost in Wk-1, in spite of having 2 berserker games from Foster and CJ, with outputs of 42 and 29, respectively.  But without any producers, a couple of berserkers can go for nought, much like what happen to Larry in Wk-1, when the rest of P&P only posted 43.28 to go along with the 71.3 from the two RBs.  Romo was the only producer here, with 17; and Rackers added 10.  Everyone else was in single digits, and Larry lost 126-114.6; tough one.  In Wk-2, there were no berserkers, and still few producers.  Foster added a solid 15+ to the cause, but CJ got shut down, which is understandable since he faced the Steelers’ ridiculous D.  Romo posted another underwhelming, sub-20 performance.  Calvin stepped up some, with a TD and 15.  All this added up to a decent enough 89, but once again, Larry faced the week’s top scoring team, the Wiggles, who posted 128.  Larry should fine: P&P has a great backfield with CJ, foster, and Portis, plus a stud WR in Megatron, but depth issues could bite this team going forward.  The WRs – Massoquai, Crabtree, Edwards, and McCluster, are all spotty at best, and Cassel and Young don’t inspire too much confidence at QB, especially since Romo is not posting big numbers yet.  Still, Romo will get his, as will CJ and Calvin; and if Foster is the truth, this team will be a tough out.  They could use some help at TE to make this happen.

8.) ROCS IN SOCKS (1-1;189.5; cbs-5)
The Roccos have defied the Draft Grades, and have started the season very strong.  Waiting awhile for Matt Ryan might have been a good call, because he’s looked very good thus far, and blew up for 3 TD passes and 25 points in Wk-2.  The Rocs won a low-scoring squeaker over the Hairy Knuckles in Wk-1, 88-84, and lost a tough high-scoring shootout, 124-101, to Swords’ Tough Titties in Wk-2.  Chris won in Wk-1 thanks to his imposing 3-Wide lineup: Smith(Car), Wayne, and 85 all scored TDs, and at least 16, with Ochocinco going off for 28.  Chad fell off big in Wk-2, but Wayne and Smith still delivered with TDs and around 15 points worth of production.  These 3 perrenial Pro-Bowlers must stave off the affects of aging, and injury, for Chris to be succesful this year, as he is getting little to no help from the running game.  Deangelo has yet to get off, which is becoming a big concern, because after him, there is literally no one worth a start: Fred Jax, Chester, Maroney, and Jacobs all have major issues, to say the least, with Fred being the best option, which isn’t saying much.  Celek is another player who needs to produce, and soon.  He’s had less than 5 points in each of the first 2 weeks.  This team is hanging tough, but has some SERIOUS questions that need answering.

9.) THE B’MORE OMARS (1-1; 169.9; cbs-9)
Last season’s PFL runner-up, The Omars started their season off right by defeating Miesse and The Wiggles with a nice 99.2 point effort.  But upon closer inspection, the victory is somewhat tainted by the lack of producers in the lineup: Palmer and Nicks combined for 52.2 of the 99.2 that the Omars posted, leaving V.Davis and the Ravens DST as the only other double digits scorers, barely, with 11.3 and 10, respectively.  Remember, 2 lone berserkers does not a victory make; just ask Larry.  But as win is a win, that is, until you lose, which is what happened to McQ in Wk-2.  The Omars got a few decent outputs against the Dons this past week, but with Carson Palmer falling WAY off from Wk-1 (24.7 to 6.58), and no 3TD games from a WR, Johnny Mac couldn’t make up for another week of pedestrian numbers: Ray Rice led the team with only 13.7.  Speaking of Ray Ray: he’s gotten off to a slow start through 2 games, averaging a slight 10.5 per.  And with the way AP has been running and catching, does McHugh have a little Homer remorse?  Of course it is still early, but Rice needs to deliver bigtime if the Omars are gonna make any noise, and get back to the playoffs, especially since Shon Greene is already looking like a bust, as LdT is taking command of the feature back role for the NYJ.  McHugh has little to work with on the bench vis a vis RBs: McGahee is a handcuff, and Mike Bush is still out, and may be McFadden’s cuff when he gets back, based on how well Run-DMC has been playing.  At least the Omars are looking very strong at recivers: Vernon is a beast, and will post numbers; Nicks has the potential to be a big producer for the Giants; rookie Mike Williams, for Tampa, has been outstanding through 2 games, with a TD; same goes for Maclin, who also has 2 scores; and finally, Brandon Marshall, while yet to breakout, has plenty of big games ahead for him.  We loved the Omars’ draft, but now, not so much; they are still dangerous, but need to shore up their RB depth, and they MUST have consistent good performances from Palmer.

10.) HAIRY KNUCKLES (0-2; 164.7; cbs-11)
It’s been a rather rude FF welcome to the PFL, for our new owner Goldie and his Hairy Knuckles.  Not only are they 0-2, but they lost 1st round draft pick, Ryan Grant, for the entire season.  And to add insult to literal injury, fellow Monroe homie, Lex, snatched up Brandon Jackson, Grant’s backup, with his #1 waiver priority; Goldie was #2.  Ouch!  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that there is actually still a lot to like about this team.  First of all, in Wk-1, HK would have beat Chris and the Rocs (they lost by less than 4) if Grant didn’t leave the game early with his season ending ankle injury.  And in Wk-2, they faced a 100-point team in the tough Cleaveland Steamers (Lex has really got Goldie’s number, doesn’t he?)  With that being said, it’s not like HK is lighting it up, averaging just over 82.  But still, they have some promise.  Goldie made a smooth move by grabbing Vick: This is huge because A.) Vick is playing very well – an impressive 27 starting for HK in Wk2 – and he is now the Eagles starting QB for the foreseeable future, and B.) Favre and Anderson are not getting the job done.  The remaining RBs don’t necessarily scare you, but have some upside.  Moreno could turn into a legit #1RB if only he can get more carries; enough with this Buckhalter shit! says Dave.  LdT (We don’t call him LT, because there is only ONE LT) has been a nice surprise for the Jets; based on his good play, and Greene’s poor play, Tomlinson could be quite a dangerous option, especially with his pass-catching ability.  Harrison has been kind of a bum, and loses carries to Hillis.  But maybe Fred Taylor will get some play, now that Maroney is in Denver, and Kevin Faulk is IRed.  The WR corps and TE are the strength of this team: Shiancoe is clearly Favre’s most dependable target; Boldin and Moss make for a fine 1-2 starting punch, with berserker Moss and producer Boldin complimenting one another perfectly.  And the depth here is decent with Mike Williams(SEA), Breaston, and Gresham.  The Hairy Knuckles have dug themselves a hairy hole, but could start making some noise if Vicks keeps playing out of his mind, and Knowshon Moreno takes his game to the next level.

11.) LOBSOSAURUS REX (1-1; 159.6; cbs-10)
Foster and LRex have really struggled to score so far this season, apart from Peyton Manning.  Manning virtually won the game for LRex singlehandedly in Wk-1, with a huge 400+ yards, 3 TD, 35+ game.  The rest of the squad was pretty miserable, with all single digits besides Gates and his 16 and Addai and his 10.  But fortunately, Kenyon’s WFF were equally shitty, and Foster won a close contest, 80.8-74.2.  It was the same story for LRex in the following week versus the Emissions: again, Manning and Gates produced, with 28 & 20 points, respectively, but that was about it.  Addai added 12.3, to make him only the 3rd LRex player in double-digits.  But Addai lost some carries and a TD to Donald Brown, which should seriously concern Foster; with Ryan Matthews out for at least a week or two, Addai becomes vital to this teams success.  And when he was healthy, Matthews wasn’t doing a whole lot anyway.  The RB depth is pretty thin: Barber just doesn’t get enough touches; Thomas Jones is looking pretty good, but he too is in a BFBC (BackFieldByCommittee.)  At this point, it is looking like Foster is probably gonna have to go 3-Wide on occaison due to his RB issues.  But does he have the WR corps?  The answer is maybe.  The problem is, that LRex doesn’t even have a true #1, just a bunch of 2s and 3s with upside.  Bowe is garbage; Mason is solid, but can’t be counted upon; Ward is probably the best option now; and Mannigham has nice upside, but again, is in an offense that spreads it around, so he can’t be depended upon.  The only thing that Foster has going for him, besides Peyton, is at the TE position; where he has two proven producers in Gates and Cooley.  Do you smell that?  Yes, there is definitely a doodie odor wafting from this team, but we’re smelling a trade for Cooley.

12.) WAKKA FLACCO FLAME (0-2; 117.8; cbs-12)
Well, what can we say about this team, other than, “It puts the lotion on Its skin!”  Because Kenyon and the Wakka Flacco Flame are deep down in Buffalo Bill’s basement hole, aka #12 in the PRs.  OK, so the Wk-1 loss to LRex wasn’t terribly horrid: Kenyon got a nice 16+ game from Jamaal Charles, who rushed for over 90 with a TD; MoJo also had a solid rushing total, with 98, but no scores; and Larry Fitz scored.  But Flacco, as expected, struggled to score points against the strong Jets D.  And unfortunately, Tony Gonzalez and Colston didn’t step up, with a combined 13.2.  So Kenyon lost a close, low scoring affair, to Foster and LRex, 80.82-74.42.  And now onto Kenyon’s nightmare in Wk-2, where the wheels fell right the fuck off this ride.  As we mentioned earlier, the WFF were outscored by Javid Best, from Prahblo’s bench, 45.7-43.4.  The rest of the Escobars went on to score 124+ in this blowout.  Anatomy of a FF Abortion: The DST scores as many TDs as the rest of your lineup; which  was Flacco’s lone TD pass, that helped mitigate the damage from his 4 picks; oh, and said DST only managed 1 point, even after getting a Dez Bryant punt return TD; MoJo catches ONE pass, has 48 total yards, and a LOST FUMBLE; Tony G has only 2 catches for 19 yards; your best player, with the lone double digit output, Larry Fitz, avergaed less than 12 yards per catch.  Of course it is still early, and Kenyon and the WFF still have the stable to make some FF noise.  But that’s all we have to say about this team, because, quite frankly, we’re disgusted right now.

xoxo,
the Media

LordhaveMERcy! there has been a lot of action in the world of sports recently, so much that I have welcomed this All-Star break; I needed the breather.  Usually this time of year is one of two death-valleys in sporting news, the other being around the NBA All-Star break in mid-to-late February.  But in this mid-summer of 2010 the sports wire is just crackling with electricity; stories abound: the World Cup, Baseball, LeBron’s decision and the rest of the NBA free-agency, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, and some high profile passings, all with NFL training-camp looming on the horizon.  So now that the dust has settled somewhat after all these earthquakes, and their subsequent aftershocks, I’d like to provide my commentary on them, starting with the biggest story of all:

LeBron’s decision to leave Cleveland, and “take [his] talents to South Beach”

Everyone knew that wherever LeBron decided to play this Fall, it would send shock-waves throughout the NBA, and the sporting world in general, but no one could have predicted that LeBron’s bomb would be of the nuclear variety, with all the accompanying fallout.

I’ve been a big LeBron fan from the get-go; I’ve marveled at the way this kid has delivered on the astronomical hype that has followed him since his skull completely hardened, all while managing to maintain a relatively good head on his humongous shoulders.  I’m pretty jaded and cynical about athletes and celebrities, so it is a rare thing when I can genuinely respect one’s character as well as their talent: LeBron is in this rarefied air as far as I’m concerned.  But with that being said, LeBron takes a real big hit in my book over how he’s handled this whole situation.

Now I don’t feel that LeBron James owes Cleveland anything really, but the city and it’s fans certainly did not deserve the kick in the teeth they got during the circle-jerk that was the ill-conceived, hour-long ESPN “special” (more on those ESPN jerk-offs later.)  The whole program was weird, unnecessary, and blatantly self-serving for all involved.  And what’s up with holding it at a Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, CT? arguably the wealthiest fucking town in the WORLD! Matt Taibbi has a great take, as usual, on the whole ESPN debacle here on his new RollingStone.com blog.

While LeBron is taking the most criticism for the poor handling of his announcement, he’s also taking a lot of heat for choosing the Heat.  As much as I want to buck the consensus of the sports opinion echo-chamber, I will have to agree that Lebron’s choice to join Dwayne Wade, and now Chris Bosh, in Miami can be described as weak, at best.  For all the talk about legacy, and the next Jordan, and “King” James, and being “Chosen,” or “I Am A Witness,” the fact is apparently lost on LeBron that in choosing the Miami Heat, attaining the legendary status he at one time seemed destined for will be a lot less likely, regardless of how many championships he wins with the Heat.  The reason I say this is that leading the Cavs or Knicks (full disclosure: I’m Knick fan, albeit a dormant one) to an NBA title is equal to 5 with the Heat.  People will now expect Miami to go on a dynastic run now that they have three of the premiere players in the league, including arguably two of the top 3. Where’s the fun in that?  Sure, in order to win it all, an NBA team usually needs two all-star caliber players, but this should happen way more organically than the contrived way the Miami deal went down. And Miami is Wade’s town anyway; he was here first, drafted the same year the Cavs took LeBron first overall, and is the only one from that class to lead his team and city to a championship.  So Miami will always be Wade’s town.  Ideally LeBron would stay with the city he was drafted by, Cleveland, a title starved, passionate town, who also happen to have the bonus serendipity factor of being 30 miles from LeBron’s home town and people of Akron, Ohio.  We all love a good narrative, and LeBron bringing home the Larry O’Brien trophy to Cleveland would certainly qualify as story-book.

With all that being said, I can totally understand why LeBron would be ready to move on after 7 years in Cleveland, and, again, I don’t begrudge him for doing so.  Can you blame a 25-year old with hundreds of millions of dollars for not wanting to settle down in the Rust Belt?  But if he had leave Cleveland, there were a number of better options from a legacy and narrative perspective.  There could have been another great narrative had LeBron chose to play for the New York Knicks and resuscitated that historic but atrophied franchise.  Think about it: the day LeBron signs with the New York Knicks, he instantly becomes bigger than Jeter, A-Rod, Eli, and Sanchez…combined.  I could even live with LeBron in Chicago, where at least he’d still be the Alpha Dog on roster talented enough to make a deep playoff run.  And perhaps the most delicious scenario of all, from a narrative perspective, would be if LeBron went to the Los Angeles Clippers.  It would be fabulous if LeBron James left Cleveland to fight Kobe in his own back yard for the hearts of L.A. and the title of World’s Best Baller.  Ahhh, dare to dream.

But Miami?  Ugh.  Another reason this move is weak-ass is that Miami is kind of a shitty sports town, and no one will convince me otherwise. In my opinion the amount of true sports energy and fandom in and about a city is inversely proportional to the attractiveness of it’s average citizen. In other words: there is simply too much hot scattered ass in Miami for people to take more than a fleeting interest in it’s sports franchises.  Of course Miami is gonna sell-out every home game and will be the hottest ticket in town for awhile, and will appear to be like the East Coast version of L.A.’s “Showtime”, but they will never have the local and national fan base of the legendary Lakers; hell, the Miami Heat have only been in existence for 22 years.

Again, I can’t completely blame LeBron for wanting to do his thing in a hot party town, with perfect weather, and in a state with no state income tax.  I’d probably make the same decision.  And while we’re on the subject of taxes, this issue should always be factored in when discussing the migration of professional athletes.  Florida and Texas, and all their myriad pro-sports franchises, have become a very attractive destination for free agents on the verge of signing huge contracts.  In the case of LeBron, he would pay around $12million in state taxes in New York, and about $6million in Ohio, but zero in Florida.  And that’s just counting his NBA salary income.

But again, and in summation, from strictly a psorts-narrative angle, Lebron’s move to Miami is pretty lame because he chose not to step up to the plate, be The Man or The Alpha, and take on the heavy lifting that is leading a passionate, hungry fan-base to a championship.  Because of all of this he is now just a great basketball player to me, and not the transcendent  “Chosen One” I hoped he could be.

Stay Tuned…

…for my take on the aforementioned other sports stories.  This post just became too long for me to delve into that other stuff.  But here’s a preview:

  • Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert: While I understand his beef over how LeBron handled things, I gotta kill this cat over how childish and short-sighted his comic-sans-fonted tirade was.
  • ESPN’s Coverage and Radio bits: “The Worldwide Leader’s” sycophantic drooling over LeBron’s announcement was very annoying.  And while their radio programs and hosts are actually very good, they need to leave the comedy bits to the professionals.
  • The passing of “The Boss.”:  Say what you will about Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, you can’t deny he was a very complex character, and one of the most consequential owners in the history of professional sports.
  • A Quick World Cup postmortem: Something about this tournament really has stuck with me, and I may find myself starting to follow soccer more.
  • The State of MLB: The ‘Year of Pitcher’ is turning out to be way more exciting than the typical collective bludgeoning that pitchers have been subjected to over the past few decades.
  • NFL Training Camp:  In about two weeks NFL teams start reporting to college campuses and training facilities around the country, and I’ve already got a chubby.

By now you have all probably heard the tale of 16-year-old Abby Sunderland, whose quest to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the Earth was derailed last week by a fierce storm in the Indian Ocean.  And you have also probably heard the predictable media backlash, criticizing Abby and, more pointedly, her parents for what they deem to be a dangerous and fool-hardy quest.

To all those critics out there, self-righteously arm-chair parenting from afar, I say to you:  “Shut the fuck up! And worry a little more about getting little Bobby off those oxycontins.”

I think Abby is kick-ass!  From everything I’ve heard and read about this kid, she seems remarkably capable.  She was able to survive the 30-ft waves that ultimately took down her mast because she apparently really knows what she is doing.   Meanwhile, most 30- and 40- somethings shouldn’t even be allowed to drive cars: I’ve seen you assholes putting on your makeup and/or shaving during your morning commute, all while reading the paper and texting.  I’m not one to necessarily equate advancing age with sound judgement or capability.  So there.

And as far as allowing a 16-year-old girl to be in such a dangerous situation goes, I would argue that there are plenty more perilous predicaments the average teenager faces throughout the course of high school.  Maybe I’m the crazy one, but if I were a 16-year-old girl, I think I’d take my chances on a sailboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean, instead of in some rapey lacrosse player’s car.

Personally, I don’t understand the desire for this kind of adventure, or risk-taking: I won’t ever get on a motorcycle or into a helicopter, and I tend to drive the speed limit.  But this kid is really into sailing; it is what she loves to do.  Of course having a passion to paint seascapes is infinitely safer than actually sailing them.  Whatever winds your clock, or, in this case, floats your boat.

So good for you, Abby.  You seems like a nice, sweet kid, and are probably too polite to tell your critics where they can go and stick your broken mast.

Tomorrow is the big day: The Masters!  And I must say that I’m really excited about it.  First of all, although I’m not yet a golfer, I get all jazzed up about The Masters each and every year for a number of reasons.  The first major tournament of the season signals to me the unofficial start of Spring: after The Masters, a chilly-ass day is the exception rather than the rule.  Another thing that makes The Masters the preeminent tournament in golf is the familiarity that comes with it being held each year at Augusta National Golf Club (as opposed to the other three major tournaments, which change venues each year, for those of you who don’t know shit about any of this stuff.)  Even if you just having a passing interest in golf or The Masters, you know about the harrowing 11th, 12th, and 13th Holes, also known as ‘Amen Corner;’ you recognize the Sarazen Bridge, and President Eisenhower’s Tree and Pond.   So when you combine Spring in Georgia, with a pristinely designed and manicured golf course full of history, you get tradition, and some incredibly stunning scenes of natural beauty.  And now with HD, the Azaleas, Magnolias, and Dogwoods, exploding with color in their full Spring bloom against a backdrop of ancient Oaks on a big TV, are enough to give you an eyegasm.  Also, if you happen to have DirecTV, you get a few bonus channels of coverage for free, which is nice, that focus on some of the more noteworthy holes.  And, as a bonus, for all the tea-bagging, birther, GOP, freedom-loving, real Americans out there, y’all even get a nice little slice of the Antebellum South (Augusta National was built on a former plantations, still has no Female membership, had no Black membership until the early 90s but had all Black caddies until the early 80s.)

But we all know that this year’s Masters is extra special, and we all know why: Tiger, Tiger Woods y’all!

The whole world will have their eyes fixed on this year’s Masters to see what happens.  Literally hundreds of reporters from dozens of media outlets worldwide have already descended upon little ‘ol Augusta, Georgia.  Of course this is more than a little ridiculous because all that is really gonna happen is that Tiger is gonna hit a little ball with a big stick, walk after it, and do it again.  I mean, it is not like Jamie Grubbs and Rachel Uchitel are gonna pop up from under The Hogan Bridge and demand that Tiger, “answer we, these questions three,” in order for him to pass over Rae’s Creek en route to the 12th green.  (But Jocelyn James, she of the very freaky Tiger texts, will be dancing at a strip-club in Atlanta, 100 miles from Augusta; so he’s got that going for him…)

The real thing everyone will be looking for is how Tiger will handle the scrutiny and pressure at what is ordinarily one of the most scrutinized and pressure-packed tournaments of the year.  The Masters is also an event that Tiger has dominated since turning pro, with 4 titles and numerous top-ten finishes.  Tiger’s length is tailor made for success on this course – pun very much intended.

Personally, I am very much looking forward to testing my abilities as a pop-psychologist regarding Tiger when he tees off Thursday at 1:42 pm.  Playing pop-psychologist is one of my favorite pastimes, because I fancy myself as someone who knows a thing or two about the neat little tricks the mind can play on its owner.  I think that Tiger has been striving towards this robotic version of human perfection in a sport that has a minuscule margin for error, a sport in which even a momentary loss of focus can result in disastrous consequences on the course.  My theory is that no matter what Tiger does on the golf course, this Terminator image of him has been shattered – an image he and his sponsors worked hard to cultivate – and that will affect his legendary focus and, ultimately, his golf game.  Because, regardless of how many tournaments he wins, regardless of whether or not he surpasses the great Jack Nicklaus in terms of major titles, Tiger is just another entitled jerkoff, who can’t keep his dick in his pants.  I dunno, I just think that this fact cannot help but be constantly gnawing at the back of his mind, which I believe will affect not only his game this week; but, more importantly, I feel that it will affect his overall drive and desire to be the greatest golfer ever..who just happened to engage in unprotected sex with a litany of random women, with a lovely wife and two young children at home.

So here’s my prediction:  Tiger doesn’t even make the cut. Remember that you heard it here, from the Monday Morning Punter.

And finally, I find it endlessly funny that Tiger chose to make his return to golf at The Masters, because masterbation would have saved Tiger a world of trouble.

UPDATE: So Tiger shot his best first round ever at The Masters, with a 4-under-par 68, and is making me look like an asshole, and a shitty pop-psychologist.  Dick!

While brevity is not one of my strong suits, I shall try to keep my commentary on the last half of the summer short and sweet – so short and sweet, in fact, that my observations and opinions on some noteworthy events from the last half of the summer shall be presented in the form of little poems. Enjoy the shortness and the sweetness, but take some wet-naps: they’re sticky.

July 18th: The Dark Knight opens world-wide.

Heath Ledger’s creepily awesome performance

In The Dark Knight was great;

Makes me hope that the Dead can see what’s going on down here…

…Except for when I masturbate.

July 24th: Barack Obama speaks in Berlin, in front of 200,000.

Obama is admired around the world;

And somehow this is bad to think?

Perhaps they’re putting stupid,

In water half the people drink.

July 29th: A 5.4 earthquake hits the Los Angeles area.

The Earth shook below

The Hollywood Hills.

How long will it be

Till the Big One that kills?

July 29th: SIRIUS and XM satellite radios merge after over 17 months of government review. It took less than one year to approve the Exxon/Mobil merger.

SIRIUS and XM

Could finally unite,

In spite of the Radio’s

Political fight.

August 7th: Brett Favre is traded from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets.

I woke in the morning,

And Favre was a Jet.

If only I’d placed,

That 100 to 1 bet.

August 8th: John Edwards admits to having an affair with his videographer.

Affairs in remission,

Are not all that bad,

According to Edwards,

The Cad of All Cads.

August 8th: The Opening Ceremonies commence the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.

The Opening Ceremony,

Was remarkably done.

China showed what can happen

When working as one.

August 13th: Michael Phelps wins a record eighth gold medal in a single Olympics.

Phelps upon winning, 

Eight medals of gold,

Is a Hero of Heroes,

His feats to behold.

August 15th: Mike and the Mad Dog (Chris Russo) officially end their historic, 19 year run as one of America’s preeminent sports-talk teams.

An end of the era that was

Mike and the Dog on ‘The FAN’.

Now Chris leaves for SIRIUS,

To be the one Man.

August 24th: The Summer Olympics conclude with the Closing Ceremony. The United States finish second in the gold count with 36, to China’s 51.

Hats off to China,

And all their medals of shining gold.

And not too bad for Team USA,

All of whom play without being told.

August 27th: Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

For people who say,

“Well what will he change?”

Please pay attention,

It’s not all that strange.

September 4th: John McCain accepts the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

This convention is nonsense;

Its delegates creepy.

Social fluff and no issues,

Put me to sleepy.

September 4th:The 2008 NFL season officially kicks off with the Superbowl Champion NY Giants hosting the Washington Redskins.

Football has started,

Our Nation’s true past-time.

Now 31 teams hope for

Better than last time.

“Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.”–Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805

I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful holiday weekend. And to the rest of the world not down with the Monday Morning Punter: I hope y’all had a pretty good weekend as well.

We will start the Television Edition of the MMP’s ‘Summer Reading’ list with an examination one of the more ubiquitous and controversial sources of news coverage these days: 24-hour cable news networks. In spite of (or perhaps because of) the dominance and influence of the major media corporations, television is still a hugely powerful medium when it comes to delivering news and information. Whether or not it’s all bullshit, TV news coverage is still how the vast majority of people get informed on events around the world or around the corner. And specifically, 24/7 cable news is becoming increasingly more significant as viewership wanes for the traditional 6/6:30 nightly news.

History

Back in the early 80s Ted Turner and his rag-tag, little network-that-could, CNN, began broadcasting news 24/7 from its Atlanta headquarters; becoming the first network in the United States to do so. A little over a decade later CNN came of age as a major news outlet after it was the sole network covering the initial bombing phase of Operation: Desert Storm. (There is a fantastic HBO film about CNN’s historical scoop called Live From Baghdad, starring Michael Keaton and the lovely Helena Bonham Carter. Check it out.) In 1991, while CNN was making broadcast history in Baghdad, it passed the big three networks in ratings, and cable news was born. This subsequently launched CNN into the major media stratosphere, paving the way for its acquisition by Time Warner in 1996.

At around the same time CNN was being acquired by Time Warner, two competing cable news networks were about to toss their hats into the ring. In 1996 both the Fox News Channel and MSNBC launched their respective 24-hour news networks.

After achieving “fourth network” status in the early 90s, and having previous experience in the 24/7 news business overseas, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp gave birth to the Fox News Channel on October 7th, 1996. Republican strategist Roger Ailes was picked to lead the network. (It should be noted here that at one time Ailes was in charge of America’s Talking, which later became MSNBC, who then passed on Ailes for leadership of the new network.) FNC really brought a modern graphical overhaul to its presentation of news coverage, with lots of bright red, whites, and blues highlighting summations of the current topic at the bottom of the screen in bullet-point format. Fox News quickly ascended to the top of the cable news mountain by the turn of the century, and is still the highest rated cable news network (and 6th overall amongst all cable networks.)

A few months before Fox officially launched, on July 15th, 1996, MSNBC officially began airing news, interviews, and opinions. The collaboration between Microsoft and NBC created the MSNBC network in an effort to reach a younger, more tech-savvy generation of news viewers. From the get-go, the MSNBC internet site was heavily integrated with the network. But in perhaps an ironic, unintended consequence of this focus on the burgeoning medium of online news, MSNBC.com has by far outperformed its television parent; as it is currently engaged in a fierce battle with CNN.com for top online news site honors. After being mired deep in low ratings, and approaching its 10th anniversary in 1996, columnist for the New York Post (like Fox News, run by Murdoch’s News Corp), Don Kaplan clowned MSNBC by writing: “the running joke in TV news is Fox and CNN are news channels with websites, but MSNBC is a website with a cable channel” While still lagging behind both ratings leaders Fox and CNN, respectively, MSNBC has managed to turn a corner and seems to have found its niche in the world of 24/7 cable news coverage. And the future looks bright for MSNBC as they have seen a steady incline in the ratings amongst the coveted 25-54 demographic.

So that’s a brief little history on how the three cable news networks came to be, and how people like Keith Olbermann, Bill O’Reilly, and Lou Dobbs became household names and lightning rods for criticism

Bias

We’ve all heard about the “liberal media bias” from conservatives when describing newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. (The basis for this argument is that most reporters would describe themselves as leaning left or voting Democrat, and not on their actual reporting itself.) And we’ve all heard liberals screaming about the “conservative agenda” put forth by the Fox News Channel. CNN and, now MSNBC in particular, often find themselves the targets of conservatives for a perceived liberal bias on their part. It might surprise some to learn that both MSNBC and CNN have been accused of a conservative bias as well as the typical liberal criticisms by media watch-dog groups like Media Matters. Of course, the Fox News Channel has never been accused of leaning left in any way. Really? What about that liberal pit-bull Alan Colmes?

What NOT to watch

I think you know where I’m going with this. For the love of God, and all that is good and true in this world, please, I implore you, a thinking American citizen, whatever you do, DO NOT watch the Fox News Channel if you want an honest source of information. If you are in the mood for a little entertainment or a good chuckle then, by all means, tune in.

One of the catchy slogans Fox News has adopted, “We Report, You Decide,” should most definitely be changed to the more accurate, “We Decide, Then Report.” And another one of their self-described subtitles, “Fair and Balanced,” is the equivalent of Amy Winehouse calling herself, “Clean and Sober.”

I could go on and on about the clear conservative agenda being pushed by Fox as manifested in the bullying, blow-hard, Bill O’Reilly, harping on meaningless, socially divisive issues like his crusade against a perceived ‘attack on Christianity’; or the hilariously mismatched pairing of Hannity and Colmes – respectively, one a dashing and eloquent conservative pundit, the other a little Gollum-looking, spineless whipping boy, meant to personify the caricature of a bed-wetting liberal; and I could continue on about how the president of Fox News since its inception, Roger Ailes, is a stalwart supporter of the Republican party, and was media consultant to Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and H.W. Bush. But all you really need to know about the Fox News Channel can be found here:

Fox News airs altered photos of NY Times reporters

and here When Fox News is the Story

After Fox “News” doctored actual photos of reporters who had the audacity to write a factually correct piece about how both MSNBC and CNN are closing the ratings gap with Fox, how anybody can watch this shit and honestly call themselves an intellectual is beyond me. It kind of makes you wonder if there is anything else they might have slanted to the right. Hmmm? It may not be fair or balanced, but from here on out if I find out that you, my faithful reader, watch this propaganda passed off as news, be you friend, family, or otherwise, I will simply have to conclude that you, my friend, are a moron. Sorry. You’ve been warned.

What TO watch

Forget for a moment that I lean towards the left (I am left-handed after all.) Instead try to think of me first and foremost as someone who is very open-minded and welcomes new and opposing ideas. If you know me, you know that I love to argue. And one of the most effective ways to argue one’s point is to get intimately familiar with the opposing stance. Also think of me as someone who spends a lot of time watching these various cable news channels as I speed along the Information Superhighway, passing the on and off ramps of various media exits. Please keep all of this in mind when reading the following recommendations.

If you are going to watch cable news, and you haven’t already, please make the switch to MSNBC. From the perspective of journalistic integrity, I have found that MSNBC, along with CNN, present their regular news coverage very subjectively and void of the editorializing often found in Fox’s coverage, be it from their anchors or the carefully worded summations beneath them on the screen.

MSNBC has really surged forward as of late, and much of that success can be attributed to a fervent interest in a historical primary season, and now a presidential campaign that will result in a new leader taking charge of our nation. MSNBC has a stable of political heavy-hitters amongst its anchors and correspondents such as Chris Matthews, host of Hardball, former White House correspondent and Press Secretary agitator, David Gregory, Joe Scarborough, host of Morning Joe and a former Republican congressman, Pat Buchanan, former advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, and conservative/libertarian Tucker Carlson, to name a few. Judging just by some of names on the preceding list, one can surmise that MSNBC strives to present both sides of the political spectrum.

And finally, if you need any more reason to make MSNBC your cable news source, know this: they are partnered with some of the most trusted and respected print media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek.

Morning Joe

If you have the luxury of spending a little time in the morning watching television, and you are looking for some perspective on the news making headlines, please avoid the banal network morning shows with their cooking segments, shitty concerts “live from the plaza,” and the countless rube tourists jostling for camera time behind the jolly weatherman. Instead, head on over to MSNBC and grab a cup of Morning Joe, hosted by conservative pundit and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough. The lovely Mika Brzezinski co-hosts Morning Joe, and provides the liberal viewpoint, along with the hysterical Willie Geist, who supplies the witty comic relief.

This show is great because the crew gets a head start on the day’s early news as they analyze and discuss it in a relaxed, round-table format. The core that is Joe, Mika, and Willie are often joined by pundits and journalists like Pat Buchanan (does this guy ever leave 30-Roc?), Mike Barnicle and Andrea Mitchell. Even the Big Man himself, Jack Welch, former GE CEO, stops by now and again. While I often find myself disagreeing with a lot of Joe Scarborough’s political views, I have nothing but the utmost respect for him because while he is conservative, he is also a free-thinker who has no problem criticizing this administration and his own party when he feels they are not acting with the best interest of America in mind.

Again, if you are up at 6am, and have a little time to watch television, and want some good information, have some Morning Joe with your morning joe.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Now that it is summer, and re-runs and reality dominate network primetime, it is the perfect time to discover a wonderfully informative and entertaining program. I highly recommend watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann at either 8 or 10 pm, or least TiVo it. (When our programs are on at 8, we watch Keith, while recording the other show, then fast forward through the mindless network commercials. DVR or TiVo technology is the type that I now cannot imagine life without). I should mention that this show is often blasted by conservatives for its liberal perspective. I will concede that Keith may lean left; but most of his ire is not so much directed at conservative ideology in general as it is on an administration that has used conservatism to hijack our government while pissing on our Constitution and waging an unnecessary war for profit. Keith is also an unabashed critic of Fox “News” and their obvious water-carrying for an administration whose policies have made the average American less secure, less prosperous, less informed, less free, and more fearful. Can you blame him?

But Countdown with Keith Olbermann is no less an honest program covering the current events in politics and news in spite of a perceived liberal bias from its host. You may remember Keith from his days as an anchor on SportsCenter, as part of the legendary duo of him and Dan Patrick. The sarcastic wit on display in those days, as Keith read the highlights, is out in full force on Countdown. But nevertheless, the stories he covers are the big, national stories of the day (as opposed to the often local, fringe stories The O’Reilly Factor focuses on in a clear effort to spread fear and the far-right’s political agenda.)

The format and title of Countdown is meant to ironically highlight the varying emphasis that networks place on covering social and celebrity stories alongside “hard news.” The program counts down from five, the top stories of the day, leading with, and devoting the most time to, the biggest national news at #5, and then finishes with the nonsensical celebrity voyeurism news of the day at #1. Speaking of which, what possible value is there in bringing the American public the sordid details of a divorce between a very former model and her uber-cad of a husband? I cannot imagine giving less of a fuck, but somehow, I know all about it. And I need to take a shower.

So please, give Keith and his Countdown a chance. I promise you will find the show both informative and entertaining. And if you are coming from a conservative perspective, don’t worry, Keith and MSNBC won’t turn you into al-Qaeda, and you can still keep your flag pin on your lapel.

Arbitrary Commentary

  • Maybe people would be less inclined to climb the walls of The New York Times building, in New York City, were those walls not covered in a gigantic fucking ladder!
  • Our man Andy is still going strong on I Survived A Japanese Game Show, as the Yellow Penguin team pulled out its second straight victory over the reeling Green Monkey squad. Big ups to Belinda for her efforts on the tricycle. Poor Darcy was eliminated for the second and (apparently?) final time. You gotta hand it her though; she was tough little fighter. Andy has been fantastic so far, excelling in the competitions as well as the social maneuvering. Keep it up, Homie! And thanks to Andy, the MMP

    has received a huge amount of traffic from people searching for ‘Andrew Kelly-Hayes,’ as my site is one of the first that is recovered when he is Googled. Thanks, Big Man!

  • And finally, since I’ve mention Bill O’Reilly, I just couldn’t resist. The video below is a behind-the-scenes look at just what ol’ Billo was actually seeing on that teleprompter. Hahahahahahaha. I just LOVE this guy!

In yesterday’s edition of the MMP, the ‘Summer Reading’ list was introduced. To recap real quick: if this blog is able to accomplish anything, or make even the slightest bit of difference, it will be to spread the word that we are being lied to, distracted, or left out of the loop by mainstream media outlets. Because most of the information that most of the People are getting, and making decisions upon, is controlled and disseminated by a very small, but very powerful, handful of corporations, it is vital for the sake of our nation that We the People look elsewhere, then, for better and more credible sources.

So the purpose of the Summer Reading list is to pull your coat on some of the words, sights, and sounds that I have come across in my travels, jetpacking through cyberspace. And to reiterate, the list will not be limited to just books and/or articles. The Summer Reading list is meant to be a sort of clearing house for information so that everybody can stay sharp and informed for when the school year starts and the presidential campaign kicks into high gear.

The format for the Summer Reading list will be categorized based on medium. So yesterday we began with the Internet. I will continue that list today, and begin my discussion on television to follow.

I put this quote in yesterday, but I will repeat it now, and before every reading list:

“Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.”–Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805

The Web (underground)

The Internet has become such an invaluable tool, and playing-field leveler, when it comes to providing an alternative to corporate dominated, Chicken Little media. Of course, because of the wide and rushing river of information flowing through cyberspace, it can be quite a daunting task trying to navigate the waters without getting swept away. This is why the first item on the Summer Reading list is the Dandelion Salad site.

Dandelion Salad

Like I said yesterday, this is a one-stop-shop for pretty much all the behind-the-scenes news you will ever need. Multiple articles, videos, links, etc. are posted each and everyday. So much so that nobody can keep up with it all. So I suggest linking Dandelion Salad to your homepage via a widget or something. That way the headlines will be front and center, and you can follow up on anything that catches your eye. Again, big ups to Lo for managing the mind boggling amounts of good independent information. And remember her, and the site’s, motto: “Audio Panton, Cogito Singularis.” Listen to everything, think for yourself.

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

Everyone should have FAIR.org bookmarked in their web browser. This is another fantastically informative website, whose sole purpose is to hold media outlets responsible for their bias and censorship. Basically, over at FAIR, they are watching the so-called watchers. For example, there is a piece up right now about how in all the massive amount of coverage devoted to the campaigns so little of it deals with any substantive issues.

The Real News Network

In a true democratic society, with a true and vigilant media looking out for the People, this is what we would be watching at 6 or 6:30. The Real News Network is totally supported by member donations and is presented in video format along with transcripts. You’d be amazed how refreshing it is to watch a news story that doesn’t treat its viewers like they were fucking morons. The stories are well over the 90 second sound bytes we are all used to getting, and actually use multi-syllabic words. Definitely worth a visit.

These are all great places to start discovering the underground media, and can provide all you need to know to make more informed decisions in your day-to-day. Later in the week, I will be presenting some links to more mainstream media outlets via the internet and what is actually good about them.

Television

Stay tuned for my write-up on the only cable news show you should be watching (I’ll give you a hint: it’s not The O’Reilly Factor – “WE’LL DO IT LIVE!”)

The dog days are almost upon us as the great Sun has reached its northern zenith, and is already ten days into its six month voyage back to the equator and beyond. While the reminder that the days are now slowly but surely getting shorter may be something of a buzzkill; the summer solstice just means that the season is now racing forward in high gear like Hunter S. Thompson in his Cadillac, ‘The White Whale,’ doing 90 miles per hour through the desert on the road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Summer is Americana at its finest: ballgames and barbecues, the lakes and the shores, camping and hiking, lots of hours and little clothing. It’s easy to get lost in it all.

No matter how old you get, or what you end up doing for a living, these months will always manage to capture that essence of your childhood summer vacations. Lost in warm nostalgia, I got to thinking about those summer-reading lists we all got assigned back in the day, and how they relate to this blog. One of the main purposes of my writing is help steer people towards better channels of information. It’s not so much about presenting what I see as the truth (although this perspective will be pervasive throughout), because ultimately we all must determine “the truth” for ourselves. No, here at the Monday Morning Punter we are more about getting our readers better tools to make said determination.

If you, the reader, come away from this blog with only one thing stuck in your mind, like a fly buzzing around in there, let it be this: virtually all the information that is available for mass and convenient consumption is disseminated by a small handful of mega media giants. Let me repeat that: everything you read, see, and hear, all comes from high atop 5 humongous media pyramids – Viacom/CBS, GE/NBC, AOL/Time Warner, Disney/ABC, & NewsCorp/FOX. And bullshit certainly runs down the side of a pyramid much faster than down a hill.

A Scary Hypothetical

An Examination of Mass Media

Today the average American is working harder and longer for what is clearly less and less, especially when you take into account the meteoric rise in the cost of living. More than ever we need an informed citizenry aided by an independent media. But gone are the watchdogs. Gone are the pit-bulls; replaced now with one of Paris Hilton’s shitty little yapping lapdogs. No wonder we are only getting two minutes of Iraq coverage per night. No wonder Europeans laugh at the differences between the stories written by our respective medias. However, there is a brilliance coming to outline these thunder-clouds: the infant that is the Age of Information.

We are, all of us around the world, careening towards a time when the physical constraints of time and space will be rendered irrelevant as technology shrinks the planet to a neighborhood. Already we are seeing the seismic affects the internet is having on traditional media, evidence in the decline in nightly news viewers, and most strikingly in the apparent death rattle of the newspaper business. Now that people are getting their mainstream news from the same place and in the same format as the underground and independent media, namely, us. Articles from bloggers and Time staff writers now rub elbows; and YouTube videos catch fire and spread in a manner that Madison Avenue could only dream of. And when you combine all of this with an angry, fed-up, tech-savvy generation of citizens, who are tired of being pushed around by those with an insatiable greed for money and power, what you get is a revolution; a digital revolution fought with gigabytes instead of guns and bullets.

All this is well and good, but there is a catch: as more and more information is becoming available to us, we are often too busy to sift through it all. Because the Information Age has yet to start crawling, there is still a lot of catching-up to do when it comes to providing people with an alternative to the corporate raised horseshit being shoved down everyone’s collective throat. And there is still a lot of plumbing to do when it comes to a political system that is dependent on its media partner’s obfuscation, in order to distract the Voters from its ulterior motives. But inevitably this will all reach a critical mass, and, to paraphrase Princess Leia, “The more they tighten their grip, the more star systems will slip through their fingers.”

As we enter into the heart of the summer season, starting with this weekend’s Fourth of July celebrations, the reading lists of yesteryear, meant to keep us sharp and prepared for the rapidly approaching new school year, seem like an appropriate analogy for staying informed and prepared for this Autumn; and specifically the first Tuesday in November. Because so many of you out there are extremely busy and your time is very valuable, and because it is very easy to loose one’s self in the joys of summer vacation, the Monday Morning Punter is going to provide its “Summer Reading” series; which will certainly not be limited to just the printed word. A lot of the recommendations will come in the form of websites and blogs, as well as films and documentaries (some found on the web), and also some thought provoking and political music suggestions (yes, believe it or not, there is socially conscious music out there, and its growing). We will even recognize the few air pockets of independent thought found in the increasingly toxic cloud of the mainstream media visa vie the television. I spend many hours each day getting information from a wide array of sources, and have become very good at separating the wheat from the chaff.

So, stay tuned to the Monday Morning Punter throughout the week, and into the patriotic celebration of our United States of America’s 232nd birthday, for some alternative sources of information. And during this 4th of July, remember something that Thomas Jefferson once said/wrote:

“Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.”–Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805

DANDELION SALAD

The first item on the Summer Reading list is a remarkable blog that is constantly being updated with all sorts of alternative media. Here you will find articles, video, foreign media, and links to tons of other useful information. Some of the stuff you will come across on Dandelion Salad might make your head start spinning, but you will feel like you have awoken from a coma. If you really want to get informed about what is really going on behind the scenes, then bookmark this site, add it to your homepage, and don’t go a week without dropping by. Lo, the site’s founder and moderator, is the embodiment of Patriotism. Her motto is “Audio Panton, Cogito Singularis.” Which is Latin for: Listen to everything, think for yourself.

So if you want the straight dope, Daddy-O, then go visit Lo over at the Dandelion Salad and grab a bowl.

Arbitrary Commentary

  • Andy had his primetime debut last Tuesday, and the only thing I can say is, “Hai, Majide!” If you got a chance to watch I Survived A Japanese Game Show then you know that “Majide” is the name of the popular program that our intrepid American brothers and sisters must compete on; and you would know that the name is loosely translated in English as, “You have to be crazy!” according to the pisser of a host, Rome Kanda (Majide is literally translated as, “Seriously?”). I Survived…premiered with some very solid ratings – an estimated 8 million people tuned in to watch moshi munching and treadmill face-plants. And, judging by the response to my blog, a number of those 8 million are already big fans of our man Andrew Kelly-Hayes. See for yourself in the comments section of my Andy feature. He is also apparently a big hit amongst the “bear” loving community. After the show, the Monday Morning Punter had a huge spike in hits, doubling the previous one day high.
  • On Sunday, June 29th, I reluctantly acknowledged the one year anniversary of a day in my life I’d rather forget. Let this be a cautionary tale for some of you out there. Last year some of us planned a weekend in Montreal, Canada, for a friends bachelor party; and most drove. Well, to make a long story short, our neighbors to the north weren’t very neighborly, as I was greeted with the Heisman stiff-arm and told, thanks but no thanks, you can’t come in. Now I know what you’re thinking, but no, I did not have anything illegal in the car, and yes, I was on my best behavior. Nope: sometimes honesty is not the best policy; as was the case in this situation. Upon questioning after a random car check, I simply answered in the affirmative regarding past brushes with the law, as I figured there was nothing serious like a felony, and everything should have been wiped clean by now. Eight hours later I pulled into my driveway exhausted and agitated. I figured wrong. Fortunately, everyone else was able to make it in and have a ride. But the moral of this story is that if you are trying to cross the US/Canadian border, make sure you have your ducks in a row, or dummy up like Dick, Karl & Scooter, and simply say that you don’t recall.
  • Sorry for not having a late week post up last week. That may happen now and again during the summer, as most weekends are chockfull, with some requiring preparation. It was great to be back in Connecticut these last two weekends; and it was wonderful to spend some quality time with so much family. And Friday, while back in lovely Fairfield county, I got this sweet tattoo as a birthday present from my brother, done by his friend Brian, who is an amazing artist. Thanks Chris and Brian. Here’s a link to Brian’s studio, the Iron Butterfly Tattoo, in Danbury, CT. If you are in the tri-state area, and are looking for some ink, its well worth the drive.

America lost a great Patriot on Friday, June 13th, when Tim Russert died suddenly of an apparent heart attack. When the ‘Breaking News’ alert interrupted MSNBC’s usual coverage that afternoon, I thought it was about the attack on the Kandahar prison that had freed 1,500 inmates, 350 whom were considered Taliban militants. That story had just broken over the various news-wires. But when I saw that it was Tom Brokaw there to deliver the news, it became evident that something more personally profound was about to be reported on. My initial thought went to the safety and condition of the current anchor of NBC’s ‘Nightly News,’ Brian Williams, who has been reporting from Afghanistan this past week, covering the fight against a resurgent Taliban force. While I was relieved that Williams had not come to any harm, I was terribly saddened to learn from Brokaw that his esteemed colleague and friend Tim Russert had passed away at NBC’s Washington bureau, where he was Chief, and where he so tirelessly and passionately worked to inform the American public. Tim Russert was 58; far too young, even in spite of the fact that in his tragically shortened time he accomplished enough to fill three long life spans.

Over the past two days, the common theme found throughout the many eulogies of Tim Russert was the genuine love and care he felt towards his fellow man. Of course this was manifested first and foremost in the devotion to his family, wife Maureen and son Luke. For one so noted for his incredible work ethic and attention to detail – he made a point of doing his own research in preparation for his interviews on ‘Meet the Press – what friends and colleagues found most remarkable about the man was how he was able to put his family first. Often the first question asked by one of the most famous of all “questioners” was not about your career or your thoughts on the latest political news making headlines: he would ask you about your family, whom he would know by name. He also made it a point to pass on this preeminent value to those who would come to call him mentor. Even in the heat of late night election coverage, Russert was known to send Mothers and Fathers home so that they could put their kids to bed.

This extraordinary connection to the average American family, cultivated from his Buffalo working class roots, was always apparent in the way he did his job as a journalist. Tim Russert, as moderator of ‘Meet the Press,’ has always been lauded for his objectivity and fair treatment of all his guests from across the political spectrum. If someone left the studio on Sunday morning battered and bruised, it was because of the inconsistency of their own words and actions. Tim may have been the Hangman, but the noose was the intellectual dishonesty that passes for political discourse nowadays. And time and time again, political spin masters fell crashing through the trap door.

The greatest lesson that can be learned from the life and work of Tim Russert is that as a journalist he never made it about him. It was always about the Truth. Each Sunday, Tim labored to clear away all the obfuscation that stood between the American people and what the real story was. In this era of round-the-clock news coverage, and partisan anchors like Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly, the type of journalism that Tim Russert practiced is needed now more than ever. Regardless of how he may feel towards and issue or a guest, Russert checked his political baggage at the door to the studio, and did his best to present the information as equitable as possible. For someone so famous for asking questions, his best attribute was the way he listened to the answers. If his life and untimely death can inspire a better Free Press, than it may be the best of all his great accomplishments.

I had the privilege to hear Tim Russert speak at my commencement from Lehigh University a few years back. It was a great speech that inspired as it entertained the thousands assembled on that hot day. But what was most noteworthy about the address was how little of it was spent on politics or journalism. He spoke more about the lessons learned from the Zen-like wisdom of Yogi Berra. The point of his speech – made quite eloquently and successfully – was that for the young graduates in attendance, who were blessed with the opportunity to receive a college education, they now have both the means and the obligation to take care of one another and those less fortunate. (I could only find a transcript of a commencement speech he gave last year at Washington University in St. Louis; but it is very close to what I heard, and is worth reading, here: http://news-info.wustl.edu/news/page/normal/9548.html )

In the speech he quotes his favorite commencement address in its entirety: “No exercise is better for the human heart than reaching down to lift up another person.” The tragic irony of that statement is that ultimately it was his heart that failed him physically. Doctors said that they found he had an enlarged heart; and after a life devoted to the lifting up of others, his friends and family could have made that diagnosis themselves.

As I type these words, it is exactly 10:30 am on the East coast; and that means its time to ‘Meet the Press.’ The Good Lord had better brush up on the Good Book, because Tim is coming, and I’m sure he has some questions.