Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Welcome Addition to the Bench...

Riding the Pine is happy to introduce the newest member to the bench...longtime supporter and a true friend of the G Unit Crew, Greg Charmoli.

You may have already known Greg's work, he has been crushing articles on the Fantasy Football website for years now. Please enjoy the next two articles from our newest contributor.

The Art of the Man Crush - DeJuan Wheat

by GPC

Man-crush (noun) [man-crush]: A heterosexual man admiring another man to an extreme in a non-romantic or sexual way, more having an intense desire to be that other man.

The term man-crush is a relatively new term not yet recognized by most, if not all, standard dictionaries. Nonetheless, we all know what it is and have had one at some point in our lives, if not currently. In most cases, our initial experience with a man-crush originated in the form of a childhood idol that, as we matured, developed into a man-crush. Having an idol is more reserved for the innocence of one’s youth and typical in most every young lad’s development. However, when we graduate (if ever) from youth to adulthood, that idolization transforms into that of the aforementioned man-crush. We as guys can no longer claim that “when they grow up” we merely want to be like said man. The line between childhood idol and man-crush is realized when, we as men, have missed the opportunity to become the next (insert idol here) and come to the realization that we just have to settle for mere admiration of another man that approaches, yet falls just short, of full fledged homosexuality. After all, we’re MEN right? We’re not homos!

That being said, my idol and man-crush was, and is, DeJuan Wheat. Probably not a name that those outside of Louisville, Kentucky recognize, or would think to be worthy of a man-crush. However, DeJuan Wheat captured my heart when I least expected to find platonic love. After all, I was initially resistant to his athletic charm. As a University of Louisville fan growing up I followed the program religiously and accepted each player that committed to UL in my fandom like a member of my immediate family. Despite their sometimes many flaws, I cheered for them because they loved the same thing I did – UL basketball. And they were talented enough to put the jersey on and represent the school on the hardwood that I never had the ability to. However, most of these players over the years came and went without much thought after their four years (or sometimes sooner) were up. DeJuan Wheat was different.

I wish I could put my finger on exactly why I was so enamored with him but you had to see him play to understand. He had a humble mentality and a subtle, yet undeniable fortitude. Everything about him was understated. He was 6’0” tall, 165 pounds yet 100% pure assassin. Fearless and silky smooth. Gutsy and un-phased. He was, and still is, everything you wish athletes in today’s sports culture would be. The first time I ever saw him play was in high school in a district game against Fern Creek. I came to the gym to see the guy that was being touted as the top candidate for Mr. Basketball and left the gym wondering why in the world my beloved Cardinals would be recruiting him. However, in hind-site, I now realize that what left me unimpressed that night was the true essence of his greatness. He was the girl that wouldn’t give it up on the first date. I realized I wanted him to be the basketball version of a slut and give me everything I wanted. I wanted him to impress me with freakish ability and eye-popping tits…I mean stats. Initially, as we all know, this is very frustrating, yet ultimately, the most rewarding type of courtship. He was a lady first. He wasn’t about winning my heart with a quickie. He was about showing me his long-lasting athletic qualities, demeanor, smarts and mentality…the things that take time to appreciate and fall in love with. He was the conservative secretary in glasses and cumber-bun. An unsuspecting talent with a great rack that lies beneath a blouse that fails to reveal killer cleavage.

As Wheat became a Cardinal and I began to see his game blossom I began to realize the diminutive guard was my knight in shining armor. As a high school basketball player myself, he was everything I wish I could have been. He was the portrait I could never paint. I was infatuated. He had lightning quickness and a jumper that could be defined by a myriad of exquisite adjectives. As a fan, watching him shoot could bring a tear of joy to your eye. As an opponent or a defender, it would do the same, but the tear was less about joy and more about the dagger in your back. Just ask Tony Delk. On January 1, 1995, in Wheat’s virtuoso performance of the heated rivalry with the University of Kentucky, with the game hanging in the balance in a raucous Freedom Hall, Wheat hit a 17’ fall-away jumper right in the face and over the outstretched arm of Delk. It was the nail in the coffin and the defining shot of this huge upset. “Ring in the New, Red Over Blue” was the headline the following day in the local paper. My boy Wheat was the hometown hero after pouring in 23 points - Samaki Walker’s triple-double didn’t hurt either but Wheat was Mr. Clutch when Louisville needed a basket to seal the victory. And despite the dramatic fashion in which Wheat operated that afternoon, he never so much as pumped a fist. That wasn’t his style. He was “killin’ ‘em softly” and letting his performance do the talking. A grin was about the extent of any emotion he showed while demonstrating the skills of his craft.

Wheat was no flash in the pan during his Cardinal career. He went on to become an All-American in the ’96-’97 season - a season in which he lead the Cards to the Sweet Sixteen where they eventually lost to North Carolina. Wheat was hobbled that game by a severely sprained ankle and, therefore, unable to be his normal self. However, this did not tarnish what he had brought to the Louisville program for the previous four years. Wheat ended his career as the school’s second all-time leading scorer with 2,183 points. At the time, Wheat was the only college player to amass career totals in excess of 2,000 points, 450 assists and 300 three-pointers.

Wheat now plays in Mexico and is still doing his thing. While I don’t get to follow his success like I once did, I will forever have a man-crush on number 32.

Charmoli's Top Ten Images of 2008

by GPC

Number 10:

Michael Crabtree's last second catch to beat Texas. A dramatic comeback by Texas has Texas Tech on the ropes with 9 seconds to go until Graham Harrell found Crabtree down the sideline where he was able to shake off two Longhorn defenders and fight his way into the end zone for the winning score.

Reaction: After several other dramatic plays that lead to this catch, my emotions were running high. This play literally made say: HOLY SHIT! and place a phone call to a buddy to make sure he was sharing the experience.

Number 9:

Mario Chalmers three-pointer with 4 seconds left to send the NCAA Championship game into overtime. Several miscues on behalf of Memphis in the last two minutes allowed this shot by Chalmers to give new life to Kansas as they ended up taking home the crown
in OT.

Reaction: Considering what was at stake, I thought I would have had more of an emphatic reaction to this shot. However, it did still bring me out of chair and shout WOW! UNBELIEVABLE!

Number 8:

The Americans, with local Kentuckians J.B. Holmes and Kenny Perry leading the charge, bring home the Ryder Cup at Valhalla despite Tiger Woods watching from home with an injury.

Reaction: Having had the opportunity to be at the event made me realize how different it is from a regular golf tournament. It was a supercharged atmosphere and the roars throughout the golf course were numbing. One of the best sporting
events I have ever attended. I was totally pumped and excited for everything about the Americans (and Kentuckians) success and win. I think I may have even belted out Lee Greenwood's lyrics to "Proud To Be An American" when we locked up the cup. Very neat experience on several levels.

Number 7:

The Derby favorite, Big Brown, chews up the field and runs away with the roses from the 20 spot. In the meantime, the philly, Eight Belles, Big Brown's stiffest competition during the race, breaksdown after the finish line and has to be euthanized on the track.

Reaction: I was in attendance at the race and located high above the first turn where the horses run out after the race. I was totally pumped with adrenaline about the performance I saw from Big Brown, and equally, dejected by the sobering circumstances with Eight Belles...especially considering the huge race she had just run.

Number 6:

Despite not having played in a major for three year, 53 year old Greg Norman leads the British Open after 54 holes.

Reaction: I was at Pine Valley for a weekend of drunken golf of my own but seeing Norman hold it together for 3 days to take a 2-stroke lead into the last day of what had been a brutal event due to whipping winds and cold weather was bittersweet. I have always felt for him given the Goliath-type collapses he has suffered in front of millions of people time and time again in major tournaments. Part of me was thrilled that he had another opportunity, when least expected, to bring home one last major. The other part of me was devastated because I knew he had set himself up, yet again, to go through the same agony he had been subjected to before. Unfortunately, he fell on his sword yet again. It's amazing that this guy has everything in the world you could possibly want and most of the sporting world, including me, wants to just give him a hug.

Number 5:

Josh Hamilton belts 28 home runs in the first round of the MLB home-run contest. Hamilton hit 13 in a row at one point.

Reaction: Yankee stadium became an amphitheater of electricity as Hamilton wowed everyone watching. I was on the verge of falling asleep when I sat up in my bed with my jaw open. I called Lippy to make sure he was watching because it was unlike any other home run performance I had seen. Hamilton's troubled background, overcoming improbably odds to even be in this position, his pitcher that night, Yankee Stadium's last year and the sheer power that was on display was the perfect storm of AWESOMENESS!

Number 4:

My Top Ten Sports Moments/Images of 2008David Tyree somehow fights off Rodney Harrison to keep the Giants' drive alive by holding on to the ball while it was trapped against his helmet.

Reaction: I first thought Eli's "Houdini" act was the remarkable aspect of the play until I saw Tyree come down with the improbably grab under extreme duress with the Super Bowl against the undefeated Patriots in the balance. HOLY SHIT! NO FUCKING WAY!

Number 3:

Tiger Woods, on one leg, birdies the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open to force an 18 hole playoff with Rocco Mediate. The slightly downhill, right-to-lefter from 14' was literally do-or-die for Tiger.

Reaction: Did you expect anything else? I just remember thinking: UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE!...this guy is superman! There is no way he can capture these kinds of moments time and time again and convert basically 100% of the time.

Number 2:

Usain Bolt blows away the field in the men's 100 meter dash in Beijing.

Reaction: The most awesome performance of the year. I was mesmerized by Bolt and his performance this night. This was a one-man show that was literally electric. LIGHTNING BOLT!

Number 1:

The photo-finish of the men's 100 meter butterfly final where Michael Phelps staged an unbelievable comeback to win the gold medal and keep his dream alive of winning eight golds during the Beijing Olympics.

Reaction: I look at this photo sequence and I still can't believe he did it.

Phelps' reaction after realizing he had won be 1/100th of a second!

Reaction: This was as pumped as I could get watching a sporting event - especially swimming. However, you put an American flag on it and feelings come out during your cheering and excitement that don't normally reveal themselves. I was literally on the edge of my seat, pounding the bed and cheering him on. Phelps never had the lead and was beat with 5 meters to go. Hearing the announcers and watching him just gobble up the leader with massive strokes as they approached the wall was sensory over-load. After turning to Kelly and saying "oh my God...he lost", the crescendo came when the number 1 popped up in Phelps land and they had announced he had won by 1/100th of a second. You would have thought Phelps was my own son. I was literally jumping up and down and saying, FUCK YEAH! I have watched this race probably 50 times since. This moment was a hands-down winner for me in '08!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Andy Kennedy Hates Cab Drivers

Later on this evening the Fighting Cardinals will take on the Rebels of Ole Miss. This will be a great non-conference game from the SEC/Big East Challenge...that's for sure. What's not for sure is whether or not Ole Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy will be on the sidelines. What's that you ask? "Did he get sick?" or "Is he stuck in an Oxford airport?" Not exactly. This ass clown decided to get loose on a Cincinnati cab driver. Thanks to Mike Rutherford over at the Card Chronicle for the update.

Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy was arrested early this morning and charged with assaulting a cab driver.

The news was first reported by WKRC-TV in Cincinnati.

According to the television station, Kennedy punched 25-year-old cab driver Jiddou Mohammed Ould in the face with a closed fist while shouting racial slurs at 1 a.m. in downtown Cincinnati.

Kennedy, whose Rebels team is in Cincinnati set to play No. 9 Louisville tonight in the SEC/Big East Invitational, has been charged with misdemeanor assault and is expected to appear in court this afternoon.

Now I understand how public officials can be a pain in the ass in Cincinnati. I personally witnessed Kelly Wilson unleash a verbal assault on a Cincy police officer that would make a sailor blush. This was of course after being kicked out of "Electra's." Really we should have never been allowed to enter...let's be honest here, we were as out of place as comedy in an episode of "Mad about You."

And it gets much better...

Also arrested was William Armstrong, the director of operations at Mississippi, on a charge of disorderly conduct, reports show.

The men are in town for the SEC/Big East invitational at U.S. Bank Arena. Mississippi plays No. 8 Louisville tonight.

Reports state Armstrong, 31, was drunk and thrown out of the Lodge Bar downtown early this morning.

After that, he and Kennedy got a cab. A report says Armstrong, taunted the driver “in which his conduct was likely to cause a violent response.”

A separate report says Kennedy “was the aggressor” and punched the driver, Mohammed Ould Jiddou. During the attack Kennedy used “racial slurs.”

Kennedy has hired former Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen to represent him.

Allen entered a not guilty plea on behalf of his client this morning. He said Kennedy "emphatically denies this and emphatically denies making any racial slurs."

Police say a person standing nearby witnessed the assault and that Armstrong was so intoxicated he refused to calm down when asked and requested that he be taken to jail.

What a great way to prepare for the #9 team in the land for the Rebels...some idiot coach getting liquored up and cussing a cab driver. That's pathetic. It's like getting drunk and cussing at a chair? It's so easy.

WHAM! It's Playoffs Time!

The end is near…and for some it didn’t come soon enough. The playoffs are here and another champion will be crowned. Four previous champions have once again found their way in to the playoffs. The Skanks, Generals, Ricotta Cheese and Moneyballs are looking for more hardware, while The Decorators, Fat Wet P's, Average Joe and of course EZ Money are looking to pop that proverbial cherry of winning.

This year we saw a very cloudy playoff picture until the final quarter of the last regular season game on Monday night. Every team had a shot going into week 12. This was unprecedented…like Pugh being kicked out of an Asian Spa, while being ridiculed the whole time. Those two memories, and another great trip to Pine Valley will be how I remember 2008.

Once again the off-season ballooned with controversy. Hooter’s was the location yet again for another spirited point’s scandal. Once again we reverted back to the antique way of scoring with bonuses and bullshit. It was another attempt to get the league back to pre Y2K scoring. Ninety-nine yards from my running back – 4 pts? Cool. One extra yard and I double that? That makes sense. I don’t remember who had the deciding swing vote in the matter…but Casey might. I’m sure another scoring system will be brought up at the next round table, but what’s the difference, it will be voted out the following year.

Last year Ricotta Cheese, under the leadership of Bruce, Eaton, and Larry, won the fantasy crown in its first year in existence. How’d they follow it up? Not bad…they earned a three seed and a match up with The Generals. Can they repeat? Don’t know. This was also the first year in a while we didn’t have a new team owner introduced to the league. Greg picked up Neli as a silent partner and that was about it.

What has become tradition in the wkuleaguelouisville, I break down the playoff picture so you simpletons can understand it. This year takes into the music industry. What a better way to break it down than to break it down.

Teams in the playoffs:

(1) Swan Street Skanks – Lippy/Orr – ELVIS. What a run the Skanks have been on since starting the year 1-2, they have reeled off an amazing 10 game winning streak. Even knocking off EZ Money in an epic battle four weeks ago. How have they done this you ask? God given talent. Just like the King of Rock and Roll…Elvis. Everything he touched turned to gold baby. He shit gold records two at a time. The cock of the wok. Lippy and Orr have turned draft strategy into an art form cherished over time…just like the King’s 1956 Heartbreak Hotel. Manning has some favorable match ups and TO is hitting his stride. Brandon Jacobs is a workhorse and Thomas Jones is running like Marion Jones. Look for a rematch with EZ in the finals. Odds 7-2

(2) EZ Money – Pugh/Hankins – WHAM! What a run by this duo in their second year of existence. 2008 saw team EZ win their division and win high points for the year. It reminds me of the year George Michaels and Andrew Ridgeley had in 1984 when they released Make it Big, featuring “Careless Whisper” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” By the way…can you get any gayer than having a record called Make it Big? Unless the title was “I Like Men.” They could do no wrong with that record. To my chagrin, Lendal White has been an absolute stud and Michael Turner is leading all running back in scoring. The injury to Romo cost these boys a couple of wins, but he’s back and they are strong again. They should make the finals…odds 4-1. Now I’m sure you thought I was going to correlate Michaels arrest for “lude acts” and something that Pugh has done…but that’s two easy. Although what Greg, Baker and I witnessed from his bedroom window this summer would be considered quiet “lude.”

(3) Ricotta Cheese – Gooding/Eaton/Bruce – MR. BIG/EXTREME. The defending champs are going to have a tough time following up their amazing run from last year. Just like these two-ass clown bands had after having a huge smash it. I still can’t tell Mr. Big and Extreme apart…just like the messages that say from Bruce, but obviously from Larry. Ricotta cheese will have to “Be With You” Greg Jennings and Matt Forte if they have any shot. Ronnie Brown will have to be “More Thank Words” to make it back to back. Odds 8-1.

(4) The Decorators – Charmoli/ Nelson – HALL & OATES. Injuries have plagued The Decorators from the beginning of the year like a “Maneater”. Coming out of the draft this team was a reincarnation of the Lexington Steelers with Big Ben, Fast Willie and Heath Miller, looked like a disaster. Hope the Steelers can be a little “Rich Girl” and score some points. But almost everyone one of The Decorators saw some time on the DL and ownership was clearly “Out Of Touch” with reality. Charmoli with the mustache (Oates) and Neli with his smooth style (Hall) work good together and terrible without. Odds 10-1.

(5) Fat Wet P's – Hanka – MILLI VANILLI. Just like the smash CD Girl You Know Its True the Fat Wet Pussies are going to be good year in and year out and that is true. Hanka has built quite a winner after nearly winning the championship in ’04. That you can “Blame It On The Rain”…but the FWP’s typically just look good and don’t have much substance behind the good looks just like Rob and Fab. But “Girl You Know Its True” that Adrian Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald are good enough to bring the championship to Floyd Knobs. Odds 12-1.

(6) The Generals – Nick – NIRVANA. The resident commissioner of this league is typically a good fantasy owner. Nick seems to always have a competitive team derived from some magical pick up along the way. Derek Anderson from last year and Lance Moore and Tim Hightower this year. The Generals seem to limp into the playoffs and then BOOM; he’s rolling through higher seeds. Everyone felt that same BOOM in the fall of 1991 when a little known band from Seattle hit the seen with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and turned everything upside down. We were all listening to Garth Brooks, Color Me Badd and jerkin it to Debbie Gibson. The Generals will “Come As You Are” with QB points leader Drew Brees and the man “In Bloom” right now…Steve Slaton. I never really cared for Nirvana back in the day though…which is the exact way I feel about Nick’s team. Odds 15-1.

(7) Average Joe B-Team – Wilson – KISS. Wilson is KISS. Without the makeup KISS becomes kinda like every other hair band from the ‘80’s…pathetic. Put the make up back on and they are ready to kick some ass. Literally. That is The Average Joe B-Team way of life and owner “Let’s Put the X in Sex” Kelly Wilson after downing some whiskey. With “Strutter” Kurt Warner, Mr. “Detroit Rock City”…Calvin Johnson and “The Love Gun”…Reggie Bush they can roll up touchdowns like Cap Boso on Tecmo Bowl. This Jekyll and Hyde team can flip with a switch to really good or really bad. Warner has a great matchup this weekend and Bush is expected back. This could be trouble for EZ Money. Odds 15-1.

(8) Moneyballs – Matt – STEVE MILLER BAND – Typically once Matt hits the playoffs he “Takes the Money and Runs,” but this year should be different. Injuries have attacked the Balls like a vicious case of crabs recently as he goes into the playoffs without a QB. Everyone knows Matt typically loads up on Denver runningbacks like Brett Farve loads up on painkillers. But this year was different…he fired on a couple of “Joker” Cleveland QB’s, big mistake. Matt might as well book a one-way ticket to “Swingtown” after a tough first round match up against the Skanks. Odds 20-1.

Teams not in the playoffs…see ya next year.

thin2win - Houchin – KEVIN FEDERLINE. K Fed was once a proud back up dancer for 98 Degrees back in the day, stock full of talent and promise. Houchin was once a force to be reckoned with in Fantasy. But, in the end, both have become a complete disaster. thin2win has fallen off the map over the last two seasons. Houchin is typically a sharp fantasy owner but LT has not been very good and bad QB play has doomed this team in 2008. Next year brings new promise to these two…a new draft pick and a new CD for K Fed.

Korean Kowboys – Jay – HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH. Jay joins Houchin and Franky once again this year as teams not making the playoffs. Coincidence…I think not. Steven Jackson was a bust and Jay had to start DeAngelo Williams and Leon Washington for most of the year. That is no way to follow up a championship from two years ago. Just like Hootie was never able to follow up their smash CD Cracked Rear View. Even Jay’s Bob Hope trip overseas wasn’t enough to right the ship. “Not Even The Trees” could have seen this coming from Jay, but my advice to is “Let Her Cry” and we’ll see ya next year.

Harned Hurricanes – Brent / Scratch – NELSON. Brent let me be the first to say we thank you for your blasts on the message board, they have been a real treat this year. But your team has not. You went with the familiar tactic of RB-RB with Gore and Lynch. It has turned into poop -poop. During the forgotten season of 2001 the Hurricanes won their only title, it was their lone highlight. Ten years earlier Matthew and Gunnar Nelson released Can’t Live Without Your Love and Affection…it was their lone highlight. But they didn’t go away after that; they continued to release shitty record after shitty record. The Hurricanes have continued to draft shitty team after shitty team. Recent discord amongst owners Brent (Gunnar) and Scratch (Matthew) has solidified this in 2008. See ya at the draft.

Franky – Franky – WILLIAM HUNG (OR ANY AMERICAN IDOL HACK). Thank god its only once a year that we have to put up with this show, it embarrasses people, laughs at them and then makes some horrible picks. This sums up Franky’s participation in the league perfectly. We see him on draft day and that’s it. But that’s why we love him. Franky has had some strong teams in years gone by…but this is not one. The recent gun play of his best player, Plaxico Burress, sums up the whole year. William Hung or Clay Aiken would have made better runningbacks that what you started. Franky we’ll catch up with you in September.

This was once again another great season of Fantasy Football in the wkuleaguelouisville. I devoted a lot of time and effort into this year’s campaign because the U of L football season was the equivalent of a monkey fuckin a football. But I digress. After the playoffs are over we can start the countdown to PV V. That is if they will have us back. Good luck to all

That was how I closed out last years article breaking down the playoffs. I see absolutely no reason to change it. It was another disgrace of a football season for the Cards and the “football” in now (2-0) against Steve Krackpipe the “monkey”. PVV was another complete success and the best year yet, I can’t wait to see what PVVI has in store. Good luck to all.



Friday, December 5, 2008

Today's Athlete???

What is wrong with the athlete today? For some reason they think of themselves as unstoppable as Superman. They run around town visiting bars and clubs on game nights, carrying guns and drugs, and think that nothing will happen to them because they are rockstars. Well guess what, YOU ARE NOT A ROCKSTAR! You are an athlete. Someone who kids look up to. A person that has more opportunity to do some good in the world than a damn president could, and what do you do, abuse it. I'm so sick and tired of it.

With the sentencing of O.J. Simpson today I am reminded of what are sporting world has become, a joke. A punchline on late night TV, distraction for their teammates, and much more than this writer has the time to explain. I would like to ask Plaxico why? Why must I see you on TV months after a Superbowl win, not in game uniform catching touchdowns, but in a suit outside of a courtroom. Why are you going to clubs with a gun. How dumb are you? Dumb enough to shoot yourself in the leg and receive the infamous nickname "Cheddar Bob"(a reference to the movie 8Mile). You are probably going to be banned from New York, and that probably won't be enough.

And what about Miami's McClinton? Here you have a up and coming star in college basketball leading a ranked Miami team into the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on national TV, with 19 pro scouts at the game watching you and what do you do? Hit four 3-pointers in a row during the first 8 minutes of the game and then take a swipe at an opposing player. Your ejection of that game could not be more dis-heartening and yet pleasurable at the same time. What a waste of great talent. And that is what it is, great talent wasted. Thousands of people can only wish to be in your shoes for a mere moment and you slap us all in the face with your actions. He will still go on to a pro career and make millions while I for one sit at home watching and wishing.

Athletes today are as careless as a crack head in a grocery store, and believe me, not much separates them besides talent and opportunity. They need to realize this. People look up to you, respect your gift, and watch you daily. Quit F-ing it up!

I would like to give kudos to all athletes that give us hope, give us reasons to continue to watch sports, and give us reasons to love sports because that is what I do. I love sports and watching it all the time. Names like Tebow, Manning, and Wade come to mind. These athletes plus much more are the reason I watch. Why? Because they care. Because they play the game like no one else, and actually take pride in what they do on AND off the court/field.

Thank you to the athlete today that cares, because in times like these, we need your heroics more than ever.