Monday, November 22, 2010

2010-2011 College Basketball Preview (Part III)

I’ve been going back and forth for the past few days about whether or not I should address Kyle Singler’s trick shot video that most people agree is nothing more than a blatant rip off of my critically acclaimed Mr. Rainmaker video.  Even as I sit down to write this I don’t know whether I should talk about it.  The truth is that I don’t think Singler has ever seen my video, so I can’t be too butthurt about anything he did.  But at the same time I’m pretty certain that people within the Duke basketball program have seen Mr. Rainmaker (I know some people who know some people who know some things), which means there’s a good chance whoever approached Singler with the idea for his video was inspired by my video.  Still, I think I should probably just take the high road for now.  I need some time to gather my thoughts and make sure I don’t have a Dan Gilbert moment and say something too emotional.  But that’s not to say that I’ll let this issue go away quietly.  Because quite simply, in the words of The Dude, “This aggression will not stand, man.”

While I think about the best way to handle this situation, I think we should all just focus on Part III of the Club Trillion College Basketball Preview.  Today we’re talking about the loss of hair, the loss of rules/morals, and the loss of one’s conscious when the game matters most.  As a reminder, I’m writing the FIFA and college basketball sections and my friend Keller is tackling the professional wrestling sections (to get up to speed on how the format works, check out Part I and Part II of the preview). 

PREMATURE BALDING
This category takes a look at the guys who would have every right to get upset with the genes they were given, if not for the fact that those same genes helped make them high caliber athletes.  I would call this situation a catch-22, but I’m not sure I even fully understand what “catch-22” actually means.  Maybe me not being able to use the phrase because I don’t know what it means is itself a catch-22? Or maybe the first situation really is a catch-22, and the fact that I was hesitant to use the term even though I would have been using it correctly is also a catch-22?  Holy balls my head hurts trying to figure this out.  Maybe we should just move on.

FIFA: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Most of you probably don’t know about Rooney’s recent sex scandal because he’s an English soccer player, which is to say he’s irrelevant because he’s not American and he doesn’t play football, basketball, or baseball.  So allow me to fill you in.  Basically the gist of the story is that Rooney cheated on his wife (who he has been dating since they were 16) with a prostitute while she was pregnant with their first child.  Not that big of a deal, right?  I mean, common folk like you and I would never do something as dumb as this, but it’s almost expected of celebrities to go big or go home with their sex scandals.  And on a scale from 1 to Tiger, this seems likes it’s barely a Letterman.  Until you dig a little deeper, that is.

The issue here isn’t that that Rooney cheated on his pregnant wife (I’m sure my fiancee is thrilled with me writing that sentence).  The issue is that he had to pay a prostitute to do so.  Now, I know it’s common knowledge that every celebrity pays a prostitute for sex at least once in their lives.  But it’s a little different with Rooney because he publicly admitted to sexing up hookers on the reg before he even turned 18.  He’s clearly way ahead of the prostitute curve, which takes this from a one time scandal to a serious pattern of questionable behavior.  Again, the problem isn’t that he’s having sex with all sorts of women (that’s the norm for athletes/celebrities) – it’s that he’s paying these women to let him tickle their innards.  Someone of his fame and stature should be able to get his rocks off without paying for it, yet it seems like he has trouble getting some for free, which is why this scandal is a bigger deal than it should be.  Most believe that Rooney has to pay for sex because his premature balding makes him one of the uglier people in the world.   While I can’t say I disagree with this sentiment, at the end of the day I still think it shouldn’t take all that much for him to get laid.  After all, he’s still probably one of the more attractive people in England, since everyone knows the English don’t have time for hygiene cause they’re always too busy losing to America at everything. USA! USA! USA!

Pro Wrestling: The Rock

This was a tough one to award. For one, male pattern baldness is a side effect of steroid use, so about 99% of wrestlers are balding in some capacity (the 1% is clearly the Ultimate Warrior and Ted DiBiase). Asking me to choose the wrestler with the biggest receding hairline is like asking me to choose the stripper with the lowest self-esteem, or the most metrosexual blazer from Express in Danny Peters’ closet. There will be a lot of candidates. For two, many of the balding wrestlers choose to shave their heads completely to hide it (see: Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldberg, and Gillberg).  And for three, nearly every wrestler who I was going to pick turned out to be like 40 years old from my earliest memory of him. I was going use this space to talk about how Dean Malenko was criminally underrated , but I don’t remember any of his matches before around 1997, when he was 37 years old. It’s not exactly premature balding at that point. Enter The Rock.

Rock Hair

Take a look at that picture. Ignore the earring, or the stupid outfit, or the awful length of the hair. Instead, focus on how far back the hairline recedes. This is The Rock in his mid twenties. His level of balding is embarrassing. When you are wearing a kindergarteners Thanksgiving project as a shirt and your hairline is still the most troubling part of your look, you know it’s bad.

Nonetheless, The Rock took his follicle shortcomings and made everything else about himself the focus, presumably to deflect from the fact that it looked like somebody photoshopped Borat’s mustache onto his shaved head. He started delivering great promos. He embarked on a singing career. He took informal polls on pancake enjoyment. He grew out some ridiculous sideburns. He hit Mick Foley in the face with a chair for the better part of an hour. Essentially, he stole the show every single week until you forgot about the fact that he had a giant fivehead. It’s impressive, really. If anybody could pull it off, it was The Rock.

College Basketball: Dallas Lauderdale (Ohio State)

Truth be told, the only reason I even came up with this category was to bring up Dallas’ new look.  After years of denial (and wearing a do-rag to “catch the hair that falls out”), Dallas finally went the Clyde Drexler route by giving up on the dream and shaving his head in the offseason.  I can’t say enough how much I like this decision (and the decision to grow a solid beard to go with).  Dallas looks leaner, quicker, and about 1,000 times more badass. Some would argue that he looks leaner and quicker because he lost weight and got in better shape, but I’m sticking with my theory – it’s all about the shaving of the head.

dallas before-after

Don’t let the smiles fool you - The guy on the left ended my basketball career and the guy on the right looks capable of ending my life.

In the four games I’ve watched this year (one of which was an exhibition game), Dallas looks like he’s markedly improved from last season, which is scary for the rest of the Big Ten considering he unofficially blocked 93.4% of shots attempted on him last year.  What’s even scarier for Big Ten teams, and really the rest of the country, is that Dallas isn’t even the best big guy on Ohio State this year (some would say that he wasn’t the best big guy on the team last year, and by “some” I mean Kyle Madsen).  But whatever the case, I think we can all agree that Dallas is the perfect example of how to handle premature balding.  Some people get dealt a 7-2 off suit and pray for a miracle to somehow turn it into a royal flush.  Dallas, on the other hand, got dealt a 7-2 off suit and decided that that s*** wouldn’t fly, so he pulled out his sawed-off shotgun, pumped lead into everyone at the table, and made off with all their money cause that’s just how he MF’ing rolls.

BLATANT CHEATERS
Even though this could absolutely apply to guys who put their wiener where it doesn’t belong, in this case we’re talking about the guys who blatantly break the rules and don’t play fair.  Not only do these guys cheat, but they do so in a seemingly unapologetic fashion, which is what bugs me the most (except for the WWE example, obviously).

FIFA: My Goalie on “Legendary” Difficulty

There are very few things in this world that I don’t strive to be the best at.  Wait, I wrote that wrong.  Let me try again – There are only a few things in this world that I strive to be the best at (that’s better).  Along with mustache growing, loving my country, and Facebook stalking, FIFA is one of these things.  I simply can’t stand it when I meet someone who is better than me.  Why, you might be asking, does it mean so much to me to be the best?  Because if rap music has taught me anything other than that “trifling” is actually a real word, it’s that two is not a winner and three nobody remembers.

Because I want to be the best at FIFA, I usually only play the computer on “legendary” difficulty because it’s the only level that gives me any sort of challenge whatsoever.  The only problem with this is that that challenge usually comes in the form of my goalie throwing the game.  A simple tweaking of the difficulty settings suddenly makes my otherwise stellar goalie unable to do fundamental things like “make an attempt to stop the ball” or “refrain from diving when there’s not even a shot because it would consequently create an open net for the opposition.”  I’m of the opinion that changing the difficulty settings shouldn’t make your team any worse, but instead should only make the computer better.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and I get stuck with Robert Green in goal every game I play on legendary (suck it, England! USA! USA! USA!), even though my goalie is rock solid when I play on any other difficulty level.  The only possible explanation for this is that my goalie hates me and is intentionally throwing the game.

Pro Wrestling: Diamond Dallas Page (Ready to Rumble)

If I hadn’t already given him an award, this would naturally be a slam dunk victory for Ric Flair, who when not called The Nature Boy was known as The Dirtiest Player In The Game. A quick aside on Flair’s nicknames: when I was in elementary school there was some doucher in our neighborhood named David who sucked at life but still managed to tagalong and ruin any gathering we had. We started calling him Nature Boy, only it was meant as an insult that quantified how much he blew, and not a reference to Flair. The lesson, as always, is that I was a dumbass as a kid.

Instead, this award is going to Diamond Dallas Page. Not the real DDP; he was too busy making people feel the bang in WCW to break any rules (though he would debut in the WWE to a gigantic pop when revealed as the Undertaker’s wife’s stalker, so he wasn’t always a good guy. Naturally, watching video of Page unmasking makes me think about the other time he hid under a mask, which made me think of La Parka, which made me think of La Parka punching a fan in the face, which made me think that that fan surely still thought wrestling was real to him, dammit. The slippery slope of wrestling YouTube videos). No, I’m talking about Diamond Dallas Page in the 2000 movie Ready to Rumble, starring David Arquette and Scott Caan.

In the movie, Page forms an alliance with WCW’s evil booker, Titus Sinclair (played by Joe Pantoliano looking sweet in a cowboy hat and fringed jacket. In that same year Pantoliano would star in Memento, a movie I’ve heard is pretty good and have been meaning to watch, but forget about by the next morning) to strip reigning champion Jimmy King of the heavyweight title. King is played by a Fat Oliver Platt, who is taken by surprise when DDP starts actually fighting him in the ring. Now, King is a slob who got winded during his pre-match rap of Run DMC’s “King of Rock”. DDP was a badass who partied with Bon Jovi and got Jay-Z to pay him for the right to use the diamond symbol. Page shouldn’t have needed any help taking King down. But he used it anyway, and that’s why he earns the title of biggest cheater.

First into the ring to interfere were “Page’s Goons” – Sid Vicious, Van Hammer, Juventud Guerrera, Prince Iaukea, and Bam Bam Bigelow, five men who had no significant interaction on WCW programming yet were grouped together in the movie. They help DDP beat King down, only to have “The King’s Men” (who sound like a LARPing crew but were really Jimmy King’s protectors) rush to the ring to aide him. Or so it seemed. Instead of helping King, the group of Curt Hennig, Konnan, and Perry Saturn instead joined in on the attack. It was 8 on 1 in Page’s favor. At one point, four of the wrestlers got on the top turnbuckles. Mike Tenay, a terrible WCW announcer who I can only remember because of his long-winded explanation of why Dean Malenko was a dick for removing Rey Mysterio’s mask and his propensity to overpronounce wrestling moves like he was Giada without the awesome boobs, informs the viewing audience that they are about to perform a Four Post Massacre. Tenay claims that nobody has ever survived that (a claim that’s probably true seeing as how it was never performed before the movie). After all four men land on King at once, Page pins King and steals the title. Since, to my knowledge, nobody has ever needed greater than an 8 on 1 assault to win a match, Diamond Dallas Page is the biggest cheater. 

College Basketball: Every Coach In The Country

This summer, both Jim Calhoun and Bruce Pearl got busted for breaking NCAA recruiting rules (Pearl just recently got suspended for 8 SEC games).  Pearl’s transgressions are considered much more serious not only because he lied to NCAA investigators but also because he was blacklisted from coaching awhile back for being a whistleblower, so the idea of him cheating and lying about it is pretty ironic really (wait, is it ironic? Do I know what ironic actually means? Could it also be a catch-22 somehow?).  Meanwhile, John Calipari might be the scuzziest coach in the history of sports and has committed violations at just about every school he’s been at, but instead of getting disciplined, he gets millions of dollars and is loved by Kentucky fans everywhere. The lesson here is that if you want to be a college coach, you have to be willing to cheat your ass off.  And if you somehow get caught, all you have to do is cooperate with the investigation, say it was all a misunderstanding and it won’t happen again, and flee to a new school before the NCAA comes to your current school and just starts dishing out sanctions up in that bitch.

Seriously, though, all college coaches cheat.  It’s just to the degree that the cheating takes place that sets them apart.  Some coaches practice too often or for too long and some give money to recruits. Obviously one is more serious than the other (practicing too much sucks and any coach that can’t follow that rule should be fired immediately), but in the end they’re both considered cheating.  Still, you can’t punish every coach for cheating, so it’s important to just go after the guys who either break the rules the most often or commit the most serious violations.

As a good rule of thumb, to figure out how badly a coach cheats all you have to do is look at his hair. If it seems as though the coach doesn’t care what his hair looks like, chances are he only commits minor infractions.  Coaches that style their hair a little bit usually commit more serious violations, but nothing worth investigating.  Coaches that use way too much hair gel are just about guaranteed to be doing some shady things, and coaches that use too much hair gel and slick their hair back are surely giving recruits thousands of dollars, changing SAT scores, and probably have some sort of ties to the mafia.  Using this template, I completely expect Steve Lavin to turn St. John’s into a national powerhouse within the next five years.

UNSTOPPABLE IN CRUNCH TIME
This is simple.  If there isn’t much time left and the outcome is in the balance, these are the guys who take matters into their own hands and do something about it.  These guys will let you get a little taste of victory, and then will swiftly cut your tongue out, make you lick your own scrotum, and have sex with your girlfriend just because they can.  All without really breaking a sweat.  So yeah, don’t f*** with these guys.

FIFA: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

It’s no secret that just thinking about Cristiano Ronaldo’s abilities on FIFA gives me at least a semi-chub.  I’ve said many times that I think he’s the best athlete on a sports video game since Jeremy Roenick on NHL ‘94, but the more I think about it, he actually might be better.  Now, I know that the real Ronaldo is a puss who flops way too much and has that weird European mullet going on, but the beauty of FIFA is that the personality of the players doesn’t matter and none of the players are programmed to take dives.  All that is taken into account is pure physical and athletic talent, and there’s no denying that from a this standpoint nobody (not even Messi) can touch Ronaldo.  Ronaldo is so good, in fact, that if you created a virtual pro on FIFA, made it Ronaldo’s size, and maxed out its attributes, it still wouldn’t come close to having Ronaldo’s speed, skill, or strength.  In other words, you can’t even create a player as good as him because FIFA thinks its impossible for someone to be that good.  Think about that for a second.

So what does this have to do with crunch time? Well, obviously the best players throughout the game are going to still be the best players when the game is on the line.  Ronaldo not only is the overall best player in the closing moments, but he’s also got a specific go-to move that rivals my step-back three going left that I perfected during my basketball playing days (just ask Danny Peters how venomous my step-back going left is – he knew exactly when it was coming every day in practice and still couldn’t stop it).  It truly is the most unstoppable move on FIFA, and it only becomes that much more unstoppable when things get ugly and I desperately need a goal.  Unfortunately, people who I regularly play in FIFA read this blog and therefore would know my secret move if I told all of you, so I’m going to have to keep that vault locked. Sorry, but when you aspire the be the best like I do, giving away secrets isn’t a great idea.

Pro Wrestling: Hulk Hogan (At height of Hulkamania)

It’s hard to definitively say what goes into Hulking Up. I would venture to guess that it’s partly from having the most patriotic song in history as your entrance music, part dad strength, and part Hogan being a total dick in real life who refuses to lose any of his matches (when that last part is mixed with another dick who refuses to lose matches like Shawn Michaels, hilarity ensues). You have a better chance of getting that sweet Yoda backpack you wanted for Christmas than you do of beating Hogan in an important match. Nonetheless, when the match is on the line, Hulk Hogan turns into arguably the most unstoppable force in the history of the world.

It happened, among countless other times, at Wrestlemania VII, against Sgt. Slaughter. Hogan, bloodied and looking like he’d met his match, finds his inner strength and begins Hulking Up. He becomes unfazed by punches, impervious to pain. He takes shots that don’t affect him until he’s finally had enough. Out comes the point. This is a picture of Hulk Hogan pointing at you while Hulking Up (and this is a picture of a taxidermied squirrel riding a plastic horse). If you see this, the match is over. What follows next is pretty much set in stone, because they’re 3 of the only 5 moves that Hogan knows. First comes the punch. Then comes the big boot, which is supposed to hit the opponent in the face but usually connects with the right nipple instead. Finally, the leg drop. It’s never really been properly explained how dropping a leg on your opponent is somehow the most effective finishing maneuver in professional wrestling history (as opposed to this, or this for that matter), but it almost always leads to a three count when Hogan delivers it.  When it matters, Hogan delivers. Just ignore the part about him always delivering because he’s a selfish doucher who won’t let other people beat him. Hogan might be all-time quarterback a little too much, but he still gets the job done in crunch time.

College Basketball: Jimmer Fredette (BYU)

Before Jimmer Fredette came along, the only thing I knew about Mormons that I didn’t learn from South Park is the concept of “letting it soak.”  Now, thanks to Fredette, I’ve also learned that Mormons can apparently play basketball pretty well.  Fredette is a preseason 1st team All-American this year, thanks largely in part to a stellar season a year ago in which he broke the BYU record for points in a game by pouring in 49 against Arizona.  Call me crazy, but I think this solidifies his status as the best athlete named “Jimmer” of all-time.  In fact, I’ll take it a step further and say that he’s the best anything that’s ever been named “Jimmer.”  That’s something to be proud of, I guess.

There are really two reasons why I think Jimmer Fredette is the most clutch player in college basketball.  The first and most important reason is that I wanted an excuse to bring up “letting it soak,” because that might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.  The second, and probably more relevant, reason I picked Jimmer Fredette is because of his performance against Florida in the NCAA tournament last year.  In one of the more memorable games of the first round of last year’s tournament, Jimmer scored 37 points as BYU beat Florida in double overtime.  Fredette gave the Gators a steady dose of buckets rainmaking (Mr. Rainmaker > Kyle Gets Buckets) throughout the game, but really ripped their hearts out in the second overtime by hitting two more threes.  Sure he didn’t hit a game winning shot or anything dramatic like that, but that’s only because he decided to take the game over so that a last second shot wouldn’t be necessary.  And really, hitting a last second shot doesn’t necessarily equate to being clutch.  Most of the time it’s just a result of being in the right spot at the right time.  Being clutch is really achieved when there’s about a minute left and your team desperately needs to score (either because they’re up by one possession, tied, or down by one possession). Fredette strikes me as a guy who is dangerous with the ball in his hands during these moments, as evidenced by the fact that he stepped up his play when it mattered most (second overtime of NCAA tourney).  That’s why he gets the nod (also, I really wanted to mention letting it soak).

By the way, through the first couple weeks of the college basketball season, here is my starting lineup of “White Guys Who Really Don’t Look Like Much But Are Actually Pretty Good”:

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The day you’ve all been waiting for is finally here.  At this point, just about every D1 team has played at least two games, meaning it’s time to start tabulating results so we can put together a leaderboard for The Belt (For those who don’t know – I’m giving away a custom made wrestling belt to the Division 1 player with the most trillions this season).  As of right now, we have 18 entrants but ideally I’d like to have close to 50.  So please, do whatever you have to do to get your favorite college team’s walk-ons to sign up.  All it takes to enter is to be a Division I basketball player (don’t even have to be a walk-on, but a walk-on will probably win) and send an email with your name and school by clicking here.  Remember: Fans can’t register for players.  I want the players themselves to enter because I don’t want to give The Belt to someone who won’t appreciate it and/or doesn’t even know about it.  With all that being said, here’s your current leaderboard for The Belt:

Nov. 22nd Leaderboard

Obviously, seeing a Michigan player at the top is very disheartening. This needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now.

Also, and this is just my opinion here, look for the Purdue guys to make a strong play at The Belt this year.  They have a pretty good team and Matt Painter is quick to pull the trigger on subbing walk-ons into the game, so these guys will have a lot of chances to put up trillions. What they do with these chances is up to them.

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A few reminders:

  1. FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!! shirts are now available by clicking here.

    fundmont1If you really want to consider yourself a member of the TMM, you’ll buy one as a way to show the world that you prefer Mr. Rainmaker over Kyle Singler’s terrible knock off video.  Also, 10% of all shirt sales for the rest of the month will go towards the Movember cause.  So really, you’re getting a badass shirt and supporting two great causes at the same time – Movember and Mr. Rainmaker.
  2. Movember – Don’t forget to take a picture of your mustache towards the end of Movember and send it to clubtrilcontest@gmail.com. I’ll post what I deem to be the best ones on the blog and I’ll let the TMM vote for the winner, who will receive a pack of Barbasol shaving cream for being so manly and a free Club Trillion t-shirt (either CLUB TRIL or FUNDAMENTALS MONTAGE!!!) for being so awesome.
  3. Kyle Singler’s video sucks.

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Today’s Great Mustache In American History is brought to you by Steve Prefontaine.

“Pre” is by far the most famous distance runner in the history of the sport, most likely because he was a bonafide badass.  While others would pace themselves during long distance runs, Pre always went balls to the wall because that’s what guys with mustaches as awesome as that do. As a 19-year-old, when most other people his age were celebrating their first pubes, Pre celebrated being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  During his collegiate career, he won four straight 5000 meter NCAA track titles and won three NCAA cross country championships.  The only reason he didn’t win a fourth cross country title is because he got too bored beating all the college kids’ asses and decided to try a little tougher competition in the Olympics instead.  At one point, he held the American track record for every distance between 2,000 and 10,000 meters, which added up to seven records in all. So yeah, he was pretty good at running.

Pre ultimately died in a car wreck when he was just 24 years old, but his legacy has lived on thanks to Nike and the University of Oregon refusing to let people forget about him (not to mention the two movies that were made about his life).  35 years after his death, he’s still the only name in long distance running that I know, which doesn’t seem like much, but is kind of a big deal considering I watch every Olympics and my best friend closely follows track to the point that he routinely tells me about the results of meets all over the world.  Anyway, the bottom line is that Pre was a hero who continues to inspire thousands if not millions of people to this day, and was capable of growing a kickass mustache even though he died well before his mustache-growing prime.

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

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder