Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal NFL Wedraft Battle: Til Death Do Us Part

A few days ago I proposed a column idea about English football, hoping to put to paper yet another in depth write-up on my beloved Newcastle United. The idea was signed off, but the first read-through put two different editors into a deep sleep, allowing me to steal plenty of office supplies and gave me time to think of an alternative before they woke up and beat me with an acid-dipped chain like some mutated biker.

My alternative was to break up the elements of England and football, and do a comparative breakdown on the Royal Wedding and the first round of the NFL draft. Brilliant, right? The best part would be that I could watch both within 12 hours of each other, and they would still probably be trending enough to get me some accidental hits on twitter.

So let's battle these two out to see which reins supreme, starting with ...


The "Royal" in "Royal Wedding" seems to stand out enough to make this a lay-up for the Brits. Heck, if this were MLB we could at least throw that Kansas City team out there for name reasons, but look closer. Both of the New Orleans Saints' first-round picks (Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram) are sons of great professional football players, kinda like royalty. Steve Jordan was a six-time Pro Bowl TE and Mark Ingram Sr. even played WR for the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants. Astute sports fans would also notice that those same Giants also took, with the 19th pick, a freak'n Prince. Nailed it.

Edge: Wedding, but it was closer than you thought.

Top Talent that Dropped to the Second Round

Da'Quan Bowers is less than two months removed from being the projected  No. 1 overall pick. Yeah, his knee is a big question mark, but I was incredible surprised to see him fall into the second round. In weddings, bridesmaids are routinely overlooked in favor of the bride, but I'll tell you who really stood out and opened my 6:30 a.m.-eyes.

This chick.

Kate Middleton's sister Pippa looked elegant and used a simple dress to turn heads. Granted, this is the first I've ever seen of her and am judging her in the least shallow way possible, but there is no way that she should still be undrafted when Prince Harry's girlfriend is ol' eel-lips here.

Nothing says high-class like a spray tan.

Edge: Royal Wedding takes it again

Fan Approval

Everyone that I saw interviewed on the streets as the parade of bejeweled corpses passed said that they had camped out there for untold days, forcing their children to sit out in the dreary English weather until people who labeled the onlookers "commoners" acknowledged them with a simple fleeting wave. Then, showing the self-esteem that our ancestors rebelled to raise, those interviewed claimed that it was absolutely worth it.

For the NFL Draft, individual picks were met with a mixture of approval and sorrow (keep talking yourself into Christian Ponder, Minnesota), but the one thing fans from all corners of the country and all walks of life could agree upon at the draft: Boo the hell out of Roger Goodell, even though he hasn't gotten paid since the lockout started, and the lockout itself has been deemed illegal.

Edge: Royal Wedding because people are weird


There are fewer guaranteed laughs in life than and oversized kid in a fine suit stuck with a baseball cap on their giant melon. It is the only time you see a ball cap with a suit unless Mike O'Malley someday plays James Bond. That pales in comparison to the headgear on the stodgy wedding guests.

The wedding did everything they could to up the ante, including a Lady Ga Ga-Pan's Labyrinth love baby on Princess Beatrice of York's forehead.

 You eat my grapes, I eat your fairy.

Seriously, there were enough crazy hats, horses and a lack of minorities at this wedding for it to be the grandstand at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.

Big Edge: Royal Wedding

Overall, there was never much of a chance for the NFL draft. Even in a good non-lockout year with better offensive prospects it is damn-near impossible to compete with 2 billion watchers from around the world. The wedding united all those people through what many think is love, and that at least should make you feel pretty good.

At least we know that next year there will be another draft and another chance to go nuts over our respective teams. The same cannot be said about a royal wedding, unless Harry is really dying to raise some eel babies.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

News from the Future: The Red (Sox) Scare

Today, I am proud to bring you a new segment. If you haven’t guessed already from the title, I intend to pluck news pieces from the distant future, so that you may know and prepare for whatever calamity the coming days bring. Will you use the knowledge for good or evil? I don’t care, so long as if you make any money off the knowledge, you cut Ol’ Matt a little piece, so that I may continue to build upon my already formidable collection of ancient Egyptian erotica … and by “build upon” I mean “start.”

Today’s article comes to us from the great distant future of nine months from now, a time controlled by dinosaur robots and a cannibalistic powdered-wig-wearing overlord. What’s that? That’s 11 months from now? Oh. Well ignore all that then. That has nothing to do with this article about baseball. Best we forget the dinosaur bit all together, shall we?

No, our story comes from a far more frightening time, a time where Dodgers fans and Giants fans, Yankees fans and Red Sox fans no longer fear being caught unprotected amongst their opponents. The collective hatchet has been buried; rallying cries of Mike Stanley, Leo Durocher and Dave Anderson (really? Dave Anderson, whom I had never heard of and had to look up for this article; he’s a rallying cry?) ring out against a common foe … the other rivalry.

Now, I know what you’re thinking as you are reading this: “Matt, these fan bases hate each other. I know this Dodger fan, Ricky, (I’m assume you all know a Ricky) who every year, when he blows out the candles of his birthday cake, wishes for McCovey Cove to be filled with more sharks than water on game days for the home run-fetching kayak-jockeys that populate the area. ‘Welcome to Shark Park!’ he’d cackle, then full-body laugh until the other guests politely ignore him in favor of sweet, sweet cake. They’d never unite under any circumstances.”

Well, that’s where you’re wrong, foolish hypothetical you … you cur. Sorry to fly off the handle there.
No. The sides came together to take the other out, a power move to get a greater share of the nation’s baseball power, fully aware that they’d go back to hating one another as soon as the whole ordeal was over, not unlike the USA and Russia teaming up to take out that angry yelling fella back in your grandfather’s heyday. And sure enough, as soon as those two were done, BOOM, it was all Olympic boycotts and space racing. (Incidently, space racing is the topic of another “News from the Future.” And you know who’s really good at it? Somalia. I know, crazy.)

See, this is nine months in the future, but future you will already know that this particular cold war started back in the 90’s. Economists or physicists or whoever is supposed to study these things believe the East Coast camp threw the first ruthless punch, spiking the otherwise ineffective protein supplement being developed at BALCO.  Dastardly, I know. Poor Barry Bonds never did see it coming.
The plan backfired though, as Bonds went on to make sure that every potential opposing pitcher had chronic nervous nose bleeds and a well-stocked collection of soiled trousers, not just because of his clout with a baseball bat, but for his horrifyingly huge noggin. The man was his own bobblehead, yet, due to baseball’s hard stance of “Don’t sweat it. Look, that guy knocked a dinger!” he never served a suspension for performance enhancing drug use. Chalk one up for the West Coast.

The Yanks and Sox got one back by breaking up the Dodgers-owning couple, the McCourts. It was a bit of a hackneyed sitcom-esque plan, stealing Frank’s anniversary gift so that Jamie thought he’d forgotten. But it seemed to have brought to the surface some trouble that had been brewing all along, so when Jamie McCourt did not get her baby seal coat, or whatever rich people buy for each other, it set off a firestorm of tirades between the two that resulted in a midseason sale of the team to forgotten Batman rogue’s gallery member, Donald Sterling. Bad times for all.

Oh, and it didn’t stay off the field either. It turns out Tim Wakefield became a spy for the West Coast sometime around 2003. Neighbors were always quoted afterwards saying, “He was such a nice guy. Very well mannered. I can’t believe the jovial, well-meaning soft-tosser next door could be so sinister.” Don’t be so naïve. There are more spies in this game than in a mispackaged Stratego box. You see, it’s always the knuckleballer. Look at Scot Shields of the Angels and R.A. Dickey of the Mets, planted by members of their league in case this thing expanded. I’m just saying, if there is a knuckleballer in your farm league, or worse, on your team today, don’t let him near your personnel manifestos … or your wife. R.A. Dickey indeed.

So here we are, nine months later at an apocalyptic standstill. (Maybe. These things are hard to read. So let’s just assume it is.)  I for one have always been in favor of a baseball-themed apocalypse, just not so soon. I’d prefer if I was already on death’s door, and THEN we had a baseball apocalypse – an entertaining final scene  -- but beggars cannot be choosers I suppose is the right way to sum up all this imminent death. Can we fix this in time to save the country, nay the entire galaxy? I suppose we could all become Cleveland Indians fans. But really, which is worse?

Matthew Donato listened to The White Panda's "Rematch" while writing this, and hopes the Indians outperform expectations this season.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Donato on Donato: The "American Dream" Horse

After a lengthy and excrutiating vision quest that I did not even know I had ever embarked upon, I have finally found my totem, my animal equivilent and spirit guide. He is a majestic creature fusing power, elegance and the ability to make women quiver while making tons of money over short periods of time.

When last seen, my animal equivlent (who just so happens to share my name, Donato) was outperforming his peers out in Hollywood, acting the part of the unrivaled winner for a single scene that netted him $16,800.

Donato, for those who have tired of my subtle metaphores, is a horse (of course, of course). But not just any horse ... a race horse. On top of that though, he is the classic American tale of a smalltown boy who went west to make it big, and after many trials and tribulations, has found success.

Donato grew up in rural Kentucky, and soon knew that no shore-less state that cannot even effectively identify the color of its grass could hold him. Luckily he received a letter from Bob Baffert, one that I can only assume arrived by owl, Harry Potter style, telling him that he was indeed a racer. All of a sudden, those mile-long bursts of speed began to make sense. With destiny in sight it only took one spirited fight with his dam before he was off to Hollywood ... Park.

Like with most inspired young dream-followers, Donato soon found that Hollywood had a seedy underbelly that he would have to sift through before finding his salvation. That's where his lemons come in — come off?. (Shiver) This story took a turn that I didn't want it to, but there is no sugar coating the facts.

Our hero is a gelding. Early speculation stands that the decision came to stop the droves of fillies who would jump the fence at breezes and workouts just to run stride for stride with the thoroughbred. I have chosen not to feel bad for him though, as he has just saved more than half of what will be his career earnings by avoiding child support payments for any future foals.

Like most super beings, Donato has a sidekick, a starry-eyed kid who does not constantly get captured like most sidekicks, named Joel Rosario. Think of the Donato/Rosario pair like a giant Japanese robot and its youthful driver. Except instead of battles with angels, unresolved daddy issues and a 10-year-old teammate whose superpower is "bitch" like in the Evangelion series, these two have a solid working relationship and I imagine Rosario to be an angry, jaded badass who constantly chews a stogie and barks angry, cuss-filled encrouragement to only his favorite horses.

Why do we keep giving world-destroying technology to children?

Before Rosario, Donato was lost, competing in races and just sitting in the middle of the pack. It was clear he had the potential — he was close to the betting favorite in most of his races — but could not break through. It can be realisticly assumed that Donato was burdened with overthinking. I suggest he was overcome with the philosophy of racing itself (I believe Jean Baudrillard spent a few years writing about this exclusively), or was busy calculating the strides per second it would take to pass the next horse, not taking into account the limited time he had to actually accomplish the feat. Rosario immediately identified the problem and told Donato to stop being such a "wanton nerdbaby" and to "just run this wholly unremarkable race so that you can get oats and I can stop hitting you, you $#!@&."

And run he did. In fact, in the first race the pair ran together, Donato stayed in first place from the gate to the finish line. Donato had finally realized his potential, and made the $13,800 that would get him out of the septic spill that he called a south central Los Angeles apartment. In their second race, a rivalry formed. Donato was doing his whole, "stay in front of everyone until I win" thing, but was passed by No Stadium in the stretch, ridden by Garrett "Dastardly" Gomez.

Who put marbles in front of almost every starting gate?

Donato finished second and, to his credit, did not use the $5,600 prize to eliminate the new competition "with bullets and fire," as he put it.

The pair last raced on March 17 at Santa Anita in a Starter Allowance race, and Donato was such a favorite that he was only paying 40 cents on the dollar. As everyone knew he would, he ran the entire mile in the lead, finishing fast enough to make it back to the stable before his scotch got warm. The kid is a pro now. The sprinter hass got two wins in three races this year, and is poised to begin a career year out in California. Perhaps we will even see a graded stakes performance out with the big boys soon. Either way, lets hope he makes that skrilla now, because as much of a stud as he is, he won't be earning those fees upon retirement, even if the fillies will still not take nay for an answer.

Matthew Donato did only just enough research to jump to the conclusions reached in the article.

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