Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Cage, Volume III

I was watching ESPN last week and I saw an interview they did with Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended by the NFL because he apparently used a bathroom stall for a number other than 1 or 2 (hint: it was 69). During the interview, Roethlisberger completely jacked Magic Johnson’s concept of having an alter ego created from fame and money. In an HBO documentary that aired earlier this year, Magic explained that it wasn’t actually Earvin Johnson who routinely cheated on his wife and got HIV. It was “Magic.” Magic was the leader of the Lakers who threw behind the back passes, oozed all sorts of charisma and personality in interviews, and put his tallywhacker where it didn’t belong. Earvin was a shy kid from Michigan who was humble, respectful, and could apparently grow a kickass afro. He went on to say something like deep down he was Earvin, but fame and money had turned him into Magic. Basically, he was a victim of his own success. Poor guy.

The crazy thing about Magic’s interview was that I actually ended up feeling bad for him, even though everything he said suggested that I should have felt the exact opposite. The reason for this is because Magic is quite possibly the most likable athlete to ever live, which is why guys like me were listening to what he said and were thinking, “Wow, I never thought of it like that. Magic didn’t want to have sex with all these women, but since he was rich and famous, he had no choice.” I never once questioned his logic, because he’s Magic Johnson, and Magic Johnson could tell me that he murdered my family and destroyed every copy of FIFA ever made, and as long as he smiled and let out that hearty laugh of his, I’d probably shake his hand and tell him not to worry about it.

Ben Roethlisberger, on the other hand, comes across as a guy who is as charismatic and persuasive as Brett Favre’s penis. So when he blatantly stole Magic’s alter ego concept and said something like “I stopped being the Ben Roethlisberger who grew up in Findlay and spent his weekends sheltering the homeless, and I started becoming Big Ben, captain of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” I couldn’t help but think of how big of a jerk this guy is and how I don’t feel sorry for him at all. Sure he used the exact same excuse as Magic, but since he’s nowhere near as likable as Magic, I was furious. The excuse works for guys who have an infectious smile (and in Magic’s case, an infectious disease) or at least a likable personality. It most certainly does not work for guys who think it’s appropriate to have the most rapist-looking haircut in the world right after they’ve been accused of sexual assault.

I guess the point I’m trying to convey here is that I’m really upset that Big Ben had to completely ruin this otherwise great excuse for misbehaving. Magic laid the foundation for athletes and celebrities to save themselves with nothing more than a little charisma and an alter ego. I even used Magic’s model to formulate a plan for myself. In five to ten years, when the cops inevitably bust open my door to find a dead hooker in my bathtub and an unconscious me laying in the living room with my pants around my ankles and my face buried in a huge mound of cocaine, I was going to be so excited to tell the judge that it wasn’t me who got into all that trouble. It was The Shark. But no. Ben Roethlisberger has to go and be an unlikable sleazeball and ruin it for everyone. Wait, I got that wrong. It was Big Ben who ruined it for everyone. Ben Roethlisberger did nothing wrong. My bad.

Now that I got that off my chest, let’s open up The Cage and see if I can do my best to avoid answering your emails. Before you ask, the answer is yes – all of these are real emails from real people, except for the ones that aren’t. ___________________________________________________

My email question is: Why do you never answer emails?
- Ann L.

Good question.

Dear Mark, you are my hero. I love you.
-Riley A.

Good statements.

Since you are a mid twenties something man, I am sure that you were excited when you heard of NBA JAM 2010. And since you grew up in Indiana, I was wondering what you thought about the fact that Reggie Miller and Rik Smits didn't make the Pacers legends roster.
- Matt S.

Even though I grew up 20 minutes from downtown Indianapolis, I admittedly have never been much of a Pacers fan. This is predominantly because I absolutely despised the way Reggie Miller played basketball, which is to say that I despised how dirty of player he was and how much he trash talked. I hated all the theatrics that came with his game and I reached my boiling point with him when he pushed off of Jordan to hit that shot in the ‘98 Eastern Conference Finals, and then proceeded to execute the worst game-winning shot celebration in history. That play alone epitomized everything I hated about Reggie Miller.

As I grew older, though, I realized that trash talking and playing dirty were woven into the fabric of basketball tradition just as much as Chuck Taylors and teammates using the N-bomb as a term of endearment. Upon learning this, I gained a greater appreciation for Reggie’s talents and actually respect the hell out of the guy now. He was one of the best clutch shooters of all-time and made the NBA that much better during his playing days. As for Rik Smits? He was always one of my favorite players if for no other reason than he had a mullet and an awesome nickname (The Dunkin Dutchman). I liked him so much that I briefly considered playing for Marist when they were recruiting me in high school, even though I knew absolutely nothing about the school or basketball program other than the fact that Rik Smits played there.

To answer your question, I think this has the potential to make the fine people of Indianapolis the most upset they’ve been since Steven Tyler disgraced our great country with his national anthem at the 2001 Indy 500. Miller and Smits are the Pacers. If you asked all the Pacer fans who will buy NBA JAM 2010 to name the first two Pacers to come to mind, every one of them would say Miller and Smits. How could they possibly leave both of these guys off the game? More importantly, who got the nod ahead of them? Travis Best?

Now that we got Moss how many more years does Favre stay for? 4? 5? 45?
- Nate H.

All of the above. He will retire after four more years, come back, retire again after another year, come back, and then finally retire for good 40 years later. But his final retirement won’t be his choice. It will be God’s. Following the 2055 NFL season, an 86-year-old Brett Favre will have a heart attack, pick up the phone to dial 911, and ultimately die in stunned silence after Tracy Porter intercepts his call.

(I thought that taking an hour-long rape shower immediately after the Vikings lost the NFC Championship last year would get me over the loss. I couldn’t have been more wrong.)

Who would win in a street fight? Mark Madsen or Craig Ehlo?
- Doug P.

This is a no-brainer. I’m taking Craig Ehlo over Mark Madsen in a fight of any kind, whether it be street, MMA, or pillow. This is because I’m 100% sure that he’s tougher than the Maddog. Think about it. Both of these guys are known for one thing respectively. Madsen is famous for setting white people back at least 20 years with his horrendous dancing at the Lakers championship celebration. And by 20 years, I mean that he didn’t set white people back at all because pretty much all white guys dance like that. But still.

Ehlo’s claim to fame, however, is that he was repeatedly abused by Michael Jordan. I’m guessing a lot of people reading this are Cavs fans who don’t need to be reminded, but the rest of you probably only know Ehlo because of the shot Jordan hit over him at the buzzer to knock the Cavs out of the ‘89 playoffs, when in reality he was frequently dominated by Jordan (in Ehlo’s defense, though, who wasn’t?). Along with hitting “The Shot,” Jordan’s career high of 69 points also came against the Cavs in 1990, and while Ehlo didn’t start out guarding Jordan, he certainly guarded him (or attempted to) for a majority of the game. Ehlo got abused by Jordan so much, in fact, that during a game in Chicago, following a play in which Jordan scored on Ehlo even though Ehlo had wrapped him up with both arms, one of the game announcers was in such disbelief at how frequently plays like that happened that he felt compelled to say, “It always happens to Craig Ehlo” (I’m too lazy to look it up on YouTube, but I can just about guarantee that you’ll be able to find it). Jordan obviously had many victims during his career, but nobody got abused on a regular basis by Jordan like Craig Ehlo did. Nobody. Sorry, Cavs fans.

So what does that have to do with fighting? It’s pretty simple, really. People have spent the past 10 years telling Madsen that he sucks at dancing, which is something that I’m sure he’s somewhat proud of. Meanwhile, people have been telling Craig Ehlo for the past 15+ years that he’s Jordan’s bitch. You and I can’t even fathom how much pent-up anger Ehlo is waiting to unleash because of this. That’s why I think if these guys really got into a fight, Ehlo would be like the disgruntled employee who finally snaps and shows up to work with a shotgun, only instead of pumping bullets into his co-workers he would be pumping a steady dose of knuckle sandwiches into Mark Madsen’s face.

I think it's fair to say that I anticipated FIFA 11 just about as much as anyone. And, of course, was disappointed just as much as everyone. My roommate is the only one of my friends to share a love for the beautiful game. We got FIFA 10 last year to start preparing for the World Cup, and it was a great ride. I've even been getting up at 9:55 on Saturdays to watch EPL games. When FIFA 11 arrived we spent the next 2 days playing it and came to the conclusion that indeed it did suck, and maybe we'll just have to play FIFA 10. A few days go by and we give it another chance. Sure enough, I hate it just as much as before, however... he now pulls a 180 and says he likes it better than it's predecessor. I was floored. He read the first paragraph of your latest blog, and closed it. He refused to read, as he called it, “garbage.” So my question is - 1. Is his TMM membership revoked? and B. How do I best handle this doucher?
- Dan W.

As much as I’d like to revoke his TMM membership, the fact is that the only crime he’s guilty of is loving FIFA too much, which obviously isn’t a crime at all. I would be a hypocrite to denounce him for defending FIFA, so I can’t exactly be that upset.

However, anyone who thinks FIFA 11 is better than FIFA 10 is obviously completely out of their mind. These are the same people who probably prefer the first Home Alone, the second version of DX, and the Third Reich. These people are so off-base with their thinking that they can’t be rationalized with. There is no saving your friend. I suggest you knock him unconscious, throw him in the trunk of your car, drive until you reach the depths of hell, and then leave his ass to rot in Ann Arbor, Michigan for being so dumb. Or you could just draw penises on his face the next time he passes out. Whatever works for you.

What are your thoughts on Rufus taking on Brutus?
- Justin B.

I’m kinda split on this particular mascot attack. On the one hand, I’m all for mascot-on-mascot violence because every time it happens, it’s always hilarious to me. Always. Plus, when the kid who dressed up as Rufus was interviewed, he said that the only reason he ever tried out in the first place was because he knew that OU played Ohio State and he wanted to attack Brutus. I completely respect this kid’s ambition and desire to achieve his dreams. But, on the other hand, he kinda took a cowardly approach by springing a surprise attack on Brutus. There is absolutely no honor in how he went about doing it which kinda takes away from the act altogether. If you’re going to start a mascot fight, you gotta do it the old fashioned way – walk up behind the other mascot and give him a nice little shove. When he turns around to acknowledge your shove, you shove him again to let him know that it wasn’t an accident and that it most certainly is on. From there, you wait a second to let him have a chance to process what exactly is going on, and then you unleash hell. That’s the only fair way to go about it that still makes for great theater. It’s Mascot Fighting 101.

When I first read about this mascot fight, I was immediately struck by how awesome both mascot names are. I was sure that a fight between Rufus and Brutus would have to be the greatest combination of mascot names that could possibly get into a fight, but like most things, I was wrong. After doing a little Wikipedia research, I’ve decided that the best possible mascot fight that could ever take place, based solely on the names of the mascots involved, would be if Scrotie (from the Rhode Island School of Design) fought Gaylord (from Campbell University). Can you imagine the headlines if this ever happened? I would actually go buy a newspaper for once in my life, just so I could have a copy of a paper with an inadvertently hilarious headline like “Gaylord Wrestles With Scrotie.” Another element of hilarity is added when you consider that this story is absolutely unGooglable, because Googling “gaylord” and “scrotie” together would result in nothing but gay porn on at least the first 27 pages of results (not that I would know or anything). That really would be the greatest mascot fight ever. I dare you to check out the Wikipedia list of mascots and come up with something better than that.

Speaking of homosexuality…

I played D3 hoops and we always had uncomfortable conversations about why one or two guys would rather hike back to the dorms in the winter weather than get into the team shower mix. Along those lines, were you a shower sandal wearer, or were you willing to take that risk? Did you ever pee on your feet as a faux method to kill fungus? Did your teammates offer to do it for you? Was my locker room just that weird?
- CC

First I’ll answer your questions - no, yes (just to freak out my teammates who apparently never realized that I’d douse my feet in soap after I did it), no, and yes if your teammates offered to do it for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll address something that should have been addressed long ago.

Locker room shower etiquette is one of the most confusing things in the world to me, right up there with the female anatomy and Three 6 Mafia winning an Oscar. In all my years of playing sports, I’ve never understood it. It’s completely counterintuitive for one fairly obvious reason.

It’s no secret that male athletes (specifically football and basketball players) are some of the most homophobic people on the planet. This is solely because they have an unspoken pressure to be as tough as they possibly can, and doing anything that could ever be perceived as “gay” would completely destroy their macho reputation in their minds. This is why they annoyingly overuse the phrase “no homo” on a regular basis (“no homo but I’m really hungry”), because even the slightest act of “gayness” would destroy an athlete’s reputation among his colleagues. Yet these are the same people who see no problem with packing twelve naked guys into a tiny communal shower area or making fun of a teammate with a small penis. It truly is perplexing.

And then there are women athletes, who are often stereotyped as being lesbians, even though a majority of them aren’t. But even so, anyone who has ever been on spring break can tell you that there are tons of straight girls who are willing to make out with each other if you offer them $20 or simply start a convincing group chant. Women athletes don’t have that macho perception to live up to, which is why they tend to be much less paranoid about being perceived as gay. But if you were to ask women athletes if they use the locker room showers after their games, nearly all of them would say something along the lines of, “That’s disgusting. Why would we do that?” It truly is perplexing.

Speaking of homosexuality…

My bromate named Chris continually bashes soccer for only being for homosexual people. Do you believe that assessment is true?
- Terry P.

In a word, no. In a hyperlink, this.

What is your greatest experience with a Thad Matta halftime or postgame tongue lashing?
- Caleb W.

A little known fact about Coach Matta is that he might be the worst yeller in the history of getting angry. What I mean by this is that it’s completely unnatural for him to yell, so when he does it’s hard to take him seriously. He’s the consummate “players’ coach,” which is why I was able to write my blog and act like an idiot on a daily basis. Because of this, he rarely ever screamed at us and when he did it was always a little forced. Looking back, it was always pretty funny when he yelled but one story involving his yelling sticks out more than any other, even though it wasn’t at halftime or after a game.

During my freshman year at Ohio State, Coach Matta began having back problems that eventually led to him having foot drop in his right foot that still plagues him today. Before his injury, one of his favorite ways of expressing his anger during practice was to dropkick a basketball into the Schottenstein Center stands. When yelling simply wasn’t getting the job done, he’d find a ball laying close to him scream a few four-letter words, and cherry bomb for the upper deck. But when he started having back problems, he obviously couldn’t punt basketballs anymore, so he had to start improvising.

Maybe the funniest moment in my Ohio State career happened at one practice after Coach Matta’s back problems came up. He got upset with the way we were playing, presumably because Ivan Harris was shooting too many fade-away threes and Ron Lewis was smacking his lips at everybody, and stopped practice to unleash a furious tirade. After he thought he got through to us, we started practicing again. But on the very first play back, somebody didn’t do something right (my guess is that Daequan Cook forgot that he had to run to the other end of the floor and play defense after he scored) and Coach Matta lost it. He temporarily forgot about his foot drop as he searched for a basketball to punt into the stands. When he eventually found one, the proverbial light bulb in his head went off telling him that kicking a basketball is right next to swinging a golf club and receiving a powerbomb on the list of “The Absolute Worst Things You Could Possibly Do With A Bad Back.” Upon realizing this, Coach Matta turned to a nearby assistant coach and quickly told him something that was undoubtedly along the lines of “kick this for me.”

The assistant (who will remain unnamed for his sake) was obviously flustered by the request, because it was probably the last thing he expected to hear. Plus, he hadn’t even been that upset that we were playing badly, or at least he certainly wasn’t mad enough to want to kick a basketball. Still, the assistant didn’t want to upset Coach Matta more than he already was, so he quickly wound up to kick the ball. But instead of kicking it, he almost completely whiffed, as the ball grazed the side of his foot and rolled to the other end of the court. When this happened, the assistant was so embarrassed about whiffing that he actually became just as mad as Coach Matta, even though it was for a completely different reason. In a hilarious turn of events, the assistant coach decided that the best way to release the anger that he had just developed was to, you guessed it, dropkick another basketball. He hurriedly grabbed another ball and again wound up to boot the snot out of it. This time he made a little better contact, with “little” being the operative word here. The ball shot off the side of his foot as he shanked the kick into only the fifth row of the stands. I started laughing so hard that I had to bury my face in my jersey, and eventually acted like I had to pee so I could leave the gym without getting busted for not taking things seriously. It was, without a doubt, the worst execution of an angry tirade by a coaching staff that I’ve ever witnessed.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the funniest thing to happen when I was at Ohio State. But it’s still pretty funny to think about a pissed off Coach Matta delegating the role of ball-kicker to a flustered assistant coach, who just so happened to be so bad a kicking that he made Ray Finkle look like Morten Andersen.

Just was wondering what your thoughts are on OSU basketball team this upcoming year. Think they will be as good as you guys were last year even with the loss of The Villain? I know they have a good incoming freshman class that will help, especially with Sullinger. So just seeing what your thoughts are on the subject.
- JJ S.

Obviously I could make some wisecracks about how Ohio State is going to struggle to replace me and my record for the most wins in the history of the program. And I could joke about how I brought so many intangibles to the team that I’m just as synonymous with intangibility as MC Hammer. And I could also make some funnies about how screwed the team will be because they’ll have one less silky smooth J to have to keep in check during practice, which means they won’t be nearly as prepared as they should be for games. I could do all those things, but since most of you are probably Ohio State fans who really do want to know how good the team will be, I’ll give you my honest opinion on this year’s team.

I fully expect this year’s team to be every bit as good as our team from last year, even though they lost The Villain. In fact, I think they might actually be better off without The Villain. Obviously, on the surface it seems like I’m saying this just because I want to take shots at The Villain, but the truth is that last year we won or lost based on how he played. Clearly he played well more often than not, but even so, many of our games consisted of four guys standing around watching Evan take over. This became a problem during a few stretches of last season. There’s no way that they’ll be able to replace The Villain this year, but I don’t think they necessarily need to. This team will have a lot more parity, which will force teams to plan their defenses around more than one guy.

On an individual level, I really think Will Buford will be the best player in the Big Ten this year, which may be surprising to hear for some people. I don’t think he has much of a chance to win the Big Ten POY simply because of the fact that the people who vote for these things are unfathomably stupid, but he certainly has the talent to be phenomenal this year. From what I’ve seen over the summer and early this fall, Will has not only improved his basketball skills, but he’s also taken his mental approach to a whole new level. Last year he kinda took a backseat and picked his spots throughout the season, but this year he’s already showing signs of being the undisputed go-to guy on the team. He’s playing his ass off right now and I would say his swagger is through the roof, except I’ve never actually used the word “swagger” to describe anything in my life and I really don’t want to start now. But you get the idea.

As for some of the other guys – Dallas Lauderdale finally gave in to his baldness and shaved his head, which is hilariously awesome to me. Dave Lighty has promised me that since this is his 17th and last year at OSU, he’s planning on making it his best. And Jon Diebler is still the same doucher he’s always been.

Oh, and Coach Matta told me that Jared Sullinger is the best player he’s ever recruited. Ever. And this was when Jared was at least 30 pounds overweight. He’s since lost a lot of weight and is in much better shape. Translation: I’m going to every home game this year.

Which brings us to the next email…

I'm a freshmen here at the great OSU. Basketball tickets go on sale today, and the games I've been to I (and I'm sure you also) have noticed some great fans in the student section such as Red Man Group and the Cowboy. With the basketball fans getting a lot of flack about not being good enough and the reforms they made to the student section this year (behind the bench), do you have any ideas for one person or a group of people to get a 4 year tradition of great Buckeye fanhood? The only idea I have that is decent (or maybe not) would be to have 5 guys all in full uniform behind the bench every game and call ourselves "Second String" or something like that. So let me know if you've got some good ones and you can see your work in action this winter at the games.
- Eric L.

If there’s one thing I’ve always wished I was better at, it’s parkour. But if there’s two things I wished I was better at, they’re parkour and coming up with creative ideas for basketball fans or fantasy football/intramural team names. For some reason I always draw a blank on these kinds of things, probably because I have never actually experienced any of them. I’ve never played intramurals or fantasy football and I was always too busy making it rain to think about creative basketball fan costumes or signs, which is why I think I’m so far behind on the creative curve with this stuff. It’s a lame, copout of an excuse, I know. But I really think this Second String idea is solid. I’d go with that if I were you.

I’m a sophomore in high school. Today I was eating lunch and like we do everyday, we were shooting trick shots into the trash can with our empty Gatorade bottles, the only drink for high quality athletes. I made a behind the back bounce off one table and over our assistant principal. I just wanted a judgment of this shot from a respected, honorable American like yourself. On a scale from 1 to the size of Greg Oden's penis, what would you rate this shot?
- Nathan P.

Without video evidence, I just don’t see how I can give it anything higher than a Brett Favre.

Since there has been a tremendous lack of historical wrestling flavor in your blog save for a few small references, I would like to share with you that two of the all-time legends, Ric Flair and Mick Foley, will battle it out in the upcoming TNA Impact in somewhat of a "Last Match".
Where does this fall in the list of all-time saddest wrestling moments?
- AJ K.

In order, here’s my list of the Top 10 all-time saddest moments in wrestling history:

  1. My parents telling me when I was in 3rd grade that I couldn’t watch wrestling anymore because it’s “filth.” It would be almost five years before I started watching again. An obvious choice for #1.
  2. Owen Hart falling to his death
  3. Chris Benoit murders/suicide
  4. The Montreal Screwjob
  5. Ric Flair and Mick Foley – “Last Match”
  6. Keller showing me a particular zoomed in screen shot from the X-Pac and Chyna sex tape (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky – you honest to God don’t want to know)
  7. Earthquake squashing Damien
  8. Mae Young giving birth to Mark Henry’s hand baby (sad because it was an awkward and embarrassingly terrible storyline)
  9. The Rock starring in The Tooth Fairy
  10. The fact that this video doesn’t even have 60,000 views

I know it goes without saying, but just so we’re clear – the greatest moment in wrestling history is without a doubt “The Plane Ride from Hell,” highlighted by Ric Flair trying to get a flight attendant’s attention by spinning his penis in circles while wearing nothing but one of his badass robes.

I've been thinking for some time that you're input could be valuable on this subject. Since last winter my roommates and I have debated what would be the best way to "make whoopee" with Jillian from The Biggest Loser. I guess there really are a lot of excellent options to go about this but the following are the choices for the four of us:
1. My personal favorite: Give her absolutely everything you've got only to have her screaming at you how inferior you are
2. Completely dominate and control her to turn the tables
3. Cover her in all manner of fatty delicious deserts and eat them off each other as foreplay
4. The two of you are
“furries.” I think this guy has a fetish b/c I'm not sure how it relates to Jillian.
- Scott C.

Call me old-fashioned, but if I had to “make whoopee” with Jillian I’d just do it the same way I’ve done it my whole life – I’d make her a mixtape full of K-Ci & JoJo to get her attention, I’d give her my class ring to prove my sincerity, and then I’d slip a roofie into her drink and have my way with her underneath the bleachers during the 3rd quarter of the varsity football game. But that’s just me. I’m more chivalrous than most. ___________________________________________________

After I called out the walk-on community with my last blog post, tons of walk-ons around the country emailed me to sign up for The Belt. This is very encouraging, but I still think we need more guys. So again, please email me if you are a Division I men’s basketball walk-on. Even if you aren’t eligible for The Belt, you can still help out by writing a Facebook message or something to the walk-ons for your favorite basketball team that will let them know about this awesome contest.

I also want to take a second to remind everyone about the Club Trillion Halloween costume contest I decided to have. In case you forgot, the only rule for the contest is that your costume has some sort of reference to Club Tril. This reference can be as strong or as weak as you want, as costumes can range from a walk-on basketball player sitting on a bench to my idea of a giant inflatable penis wearing an Evan Turner jersey. Remember: the stakes are high, as the most creative costume gets a free “FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!” shirt.

Finally, I wanted to let the Trillion Man March know that we will again be taking part in Movember this year for prostate cancer awareness/research. Since this blog post is already long enough, I’ll provide all the details with the next blog post. For now, I just wanted to remind you all to get mentally prepared to start growing your mustaches out on November 1st. Also, I’m planning on having maybe a couple mustache contests and I’m working on getting Barbasol to sponsor everything by providing shaving cream for the winners. Get excited. ___________________________________________________

Your awesome YouTube was sent in to me by John J. and features Mitchell, a member of the TMM, wearing his CLUB TRIL shirt. There’s your shout-out, John. And here’s your video.

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder