No matter the situation, we make sure to touch second base.

1. Break out the brown paper bags

In chronological order, the Tennessee Titans have assailed all
previous notions that they might be: 1) Super Bowl contenders, 2) playoff
contenders, 3) a .500 team, 4) a team that could feasibly lose to Notre
Dame.

On Sunday, in a titanic 59-0 loss to the New England Patriots, Vince
Young and Kerry Collins combined for two total passes completed for a
whopping negative 7 yards, with two interceptions and three fumbles. In
short: the two quarterbacks graciously passed to as many Patriots players
as Titans players.

The Pats slaughtered the Titans. Destroyed them. Beat them like a
dead horse. Made them look like those NFL Europe teams you like
to dominate by a score of 100-0 in Madden 2010.

The Tennessee Titans, who sported white-and-powder-blue throwback
jerseys to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the AFL, looked nothing
like the team that won that league’s first championship. The team looked
awful, amateurish, Lions-esque. Patriots players cheered on Tom
Brady, who threw an NFL-record five touchdown passes in one quarter,
boasting that he was back to true form. As we all know, running up
the score and embarrassing teams suits Brady well. At least it did in
2007 when the Pats when undefeated and won the — oh, wait, never mind
(David Tyree!).

Indeed, the score-until-the-opposing-team-cries mentality is back
for the Patriots. Says Coach Bill Belichick: “I know the score got out
of hand, but we were just trying to run our offense.”

“Got out of hand” might describe a college frat party, Bill. I think
the phrase you’re looking for here is “made Steve McNair turn in his
grave.”

But there is good news for the Titans! The season will be over in
10 games! The Titans this year are sad. Pathetic. Downright pitiful. You
have to wonder how a team could go from so good to so bad in one year.
Is Albert Haynesworth really that valuable?

Seriously. Detroit Lions wins this season: 1. Titans wins: well, you get
it.

2. He’s no Mr. Rogers

It wasn’t a beautiful day in the neighborhood for Erick Aybar and the
Los Angeles Angels. During the 10th inning of the ALCS Game 2, Aybar failed to touch second base during a routine double play, giving the Melky Cabrera and the New York Yankees an extra out in a game they would eventually steal (on the grounds of another second
base error).

Umpire Jerry Layne, whose eyesight is clearly impeccable, wouldn’t
cut Aybar the league-wide standard of a “neighborhood” play — i.e.,
where the player’s feet are in the “neighborhood” of second base for a
double play.

While there is no official rule on “neighborhood” plays in the league,
it’s a 99 out of 100 given for players. Like other unspoken rules, such as
not shouting “I enjoy making love to BLT sandwiches” on Emory’s quad,
you just don’t argue with this accepted norm.

In true New York media fashion, the Daily News and Post are
emphatically backing the New York ump Layne. Says Chad Piscaner:
“Aybar and the Angels learned that the ‘neighborhood’ play doesn’t mean
just being in sight of 161st street in the Bronx.”

On the other end of the play were SoCal outlets, blasting Layne for a
bonehead call. Says Halos Heaven: the Angels “once again [fight] the
rain, the cold, the Yankees … and their umpires.”

In all fairness, Layne absolutely made the correct call, but come on.
It’s like a fellow student pointing out to a professor that we’re drunk in economics class. It’s just not cool, man.

After the Halos’ inability to hit with ducks on the pond, they blew it
yet again with an error in the 13th, letting the Yankees take one more
step towards every other team rolling their eyes, bemoaning their own lame
payroll (oh, and letting the Yankees take another ring, too).

This is “beyond” baseball? OK, you know baseball is going to have
a great (read: uneventful) playoffs when the center of the media hurricane
is an ump that made the right call. How’s that for a change in sports
for once?

Now if umps start calling inside strikes on Jeter, we may have a natural
disaster on our hands. Oh well, at least we can dream.

Yes, even hockey deserves coverage every now and then.

1. All roided up, even now

You might remember Bill Romanowski as the all-pro linebacker, four-time Super Bowl champion and the only LB to ever start in five Super Bowls. Or, more likely, you just remember Romanowski as a roided-out nutcase who forced a teammate (TE Marcus Williams) to retire after he confronted Williams after a scrimmage play, ripped off his helmet and crushed his eye socket with a punch.

But apparently there’s more to Romanowski — just read his Twitter page. Last Sunday, Romanowski provided commentary on the games:

“Brett Favre is a true man. Watching the game.”

“Raiders gave up too many plays.”

“I think I need to train McFadden how to be strong.”

Of course, Romanowski would consider himself an expert on what it means to be a “true man.” Because, as everyone knows, being a “true man” involves heavy doses of assault and battery. And one wonders what sort of fitness program he really has in mind for McFadden, considering Romanowski’s own involvement with the federal investigation of BALCO.

Thank God Al Davis likely doesn’t understand Twitter, or Romanowski would be the next head coach of the Raiders. Or, better yet, maybe he would just have Romo and punch-happy current Raiders HC Tom Cable cage-match for the job. It would still be more entertaining than watching JaMarcus Russell struggle to master the forward pass.

2. Mangenius, part deux

If you’re a Jets fan, how do you feel about Eric Mangini right now?

The former Jets head coach tortured Jets fans for three years, alienating the media by holding closed practices, treating his players like children, stubbornly refusing to play anything but a 3-4 defense despite inheriting a team whose franchise building blocks (John Abraham, Jonathan Vilma) were 4-3 players, wasting Vilma’s Jets career and giving him up for nothing and (gasps for breath) sabotaging his own offensive line by driving veteran guard Pete Kendall out of town during his first pre-season, seemingly unable to handle coaching veterans who had actually been around the block and knew how to win without being babysat.

On the other hand, after leaving for Cleveland, Mangini has done more for the Jets in mere months than he did in his entire New York tenure. First, he traded his old team the fifth overall pick (Mark Sanchez) for pennies on the dollar (a late first-rounder, a later pick and three veterans who likely would have been waiver wire fodder in a few months anyway). Then, this week, he fills the Jets’ lone glaring offensive hole by giving them former pro-bowl WR Braylon Edwards for a mediocre receiver — former seventh rounder Chansi Stuckey — another couple late round picks and a special teams player.

So, Jets fans have reason to be conflicted. At least Browns fans, though, can’t be suffering from the same malady. After doing a redux with the Browns of his opening act with the Jets — cutting loose mouthy but talented veterans, in this case TE Kellen Winslow Jr., and forbidding his players to use cell phones in the locker room — Mangini’s squad is not only winless, but is in the midst of what looks to be an endless quarterback carousel. Which likely could have been solved if Mangini had never traded away that fifth overall pick to begin with. But, hey, then he wouldn’t be the “Mangenius” we all know and love (to hate).

3. The Yankees, on ice

The New York Islanders would very much like to be taken seriously. After drafting megastar John Tavares first overall this summer, signing three goaltenders in free agency to compensate for the zero NHL goalies they had last season and making incremental progress on their new stadium deal, the only non-Yankees sports franchise to ever win four consecutive championships would seem to be clawing their way back to respectability.

Until one realizes that they’re pumping out Nickelback’s “Burn it to the Ground” as their celebratory anthem every time an Islanders player scores a goal during a home game.

It would be impossible, in this limited space, to detail every reason why Nickelback is dreadful and represents the worst aspects of a North American music culture that increasingly stresses uniformity and cliche. Suffice it to say, however, that the hockey gods will be holding this against the Isles for the foreseeable future.

More Woods Ranting

 1. Is this a fantasy?

Fantasy football has already taken the world by storm. ESPN devotes hours to covering it; competitors in leagues spend even more time analyzing all the ways to score points. But these fantasy managers don’t care who wins and loses as long as their guys come out on top.

We here at OnFire have been huge Santana “Call me Frantana” Moss fans for a long, long time. Many other owners may refuse to draft him, but we have had much success in our two seasons together. So, for us, yesterday was bittersweet because we, unlike our soulless friends, care about my team. We even babysit their kids.

Santana provided us with more than 30 — yes, 30— points, leading us to an inevitable win against our staunchest rival. Despite his amazing performance, however, his team, The Washington Redskins, lost to the Detroit Lions. Yes, those same Lions who haven’t won a game since December 2007.

Real fast, just to put that into perspective: In the last 22 months, Kurt Warner came back from the dead, Michael Phelps won eight gold medals, we have had two different champions in every major sport and “Saturday Night Live” actually got a little better.

The Redskins have hardly had a stellar year. To begin with, some Native Americans are protesting their team name as an offensive slur. How is it in a world with “Family Guy” that there are still suits like this? Did anyone see the last 45 episodes to air since the Lions last won?

With the loss, the Redskins fall to1-2, but have seemingly lost more than that. It could be argued that to lose on that day to the Lions is the worst NFL performance ever — excluding anything John Madden said as a commentator each and every week.

With the win, the Lions are now1-2, but are far far away from ever becoming a serious contender for anything other than last place in their division. They’re the Rocketmen of the NFL, it’s going to be a long, long time. Perhaps the funniest thing about their situation is that 40,000 fans went to see the game. It was recorded as one of the lowest turnouts in years.

Our question is how in the hell did 40,000 people have nothing better to do than watch such a miserable game? In fact, why did anyone even want to broadcast or cover the event? The game was more meaningless than a column on Division-III basketball. If you broadcast/write about it and no one sees/reads it, did it really happen?

But we digress. Detroit, with a $95 million payroll, finally gave some joy to its city. But we think there are probably much better ways to spend that sum then on a team that is 1-18 in its last 19 games.

Like, maybe buying a few cars. We hear the industry has been kind of soft lately.

2. A personal tale

Many who have ever read anything golf related in these pages is familiar with our disdain for Tiger Woods. Now, we’ll admit, for years much of our hatred was based in observation and secondhand anecdote. But now we have evidence that he’s a total douche bag.

Luckily, we scored some clubhouse entry tickets to East Lake for the Tour Championship. In there, we chatted it up with Stewart Cink, David Toms and had the chance to see our Albus Dumbledore — Phil Mickelson.

But all of the sudden, we were told to evacuate the premises because his holiness — Woods— was coming in. Apparently, his safety would be compromised if a 21-year-old who can’t bench half his weight would be in his vicinity. Fine, we left. But what’s worse is that Woods was the only player not to sign any autographs. Everyone else — except Toms who went inside to watch an amzing LSU game — signed everybody’s request.

Moral of the story, Woods sucks and now we have proof. Great, great day of investigative reporting.

Keep Good Secrets

On Wednesday, Eric Mangini announced that he was benching franchise QB Brady Quinn in favor of Derek Anderson; surprisingly, he managed to avoid doing so in the form of a riddle, illustrative sketch or whisper.

Mangini notoriously refused to reveal the identity of his team’s starting QB at the end of the pre-season, waiting until the last possible moment before revealing Quinn as his signal-caller. Had a coach with a real track record done that, it might have seemed crafty; It just came off as tacky and small-minded when it was done by a man who has yet to prove he can coach without bringing in legions of his former bench-warmers, eliminating all opinionated veterans from the locker room or while his players talk on cell phones, which are banned in the Cleveland locker room.

Anderson already has three interceptions this season, all coming after relieving Quin in Week 3. For all the buildup to the big reveal of Mangini’s Week 1 starter, chances are Cleveland will go through at least three starters before the season’s over. Anderson had better watch out; he might be pulled before even getting a start if the tinhorn dictator known as “Mangenius” hears his cell phone go off at the wrong time.

Obama, Woods, and Vick

1. Obama loves Chicago  

Chicago is a great city filled with wonderful skyline, shopping, people and horse racing — yeah I said it, and you fools should try Arlington Par next time you go there. Anyway, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for them to host the Olympics. Our president, Barack Obama for those unfamiliar, is presenting Chicago’s case in Copenhagen for the bid. Not like he has anything better to do. 

Now, we could criticize Obama for doing so — and providing the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin with even more evidence of his inability to lead and focus on the important stuff — but we won’t.             

Instead, let’s focus on Chicago. Yes, the White Sox won a World Series this decade and yes, the Bulls were great in the ’90s, but let’s not forget the struggles of the Cubs and Blackhawks throughout the years. They have sucked for a long time.            

Do we want this influence at the Olympics? Could we, the Americans, win?            

It’ll likely be a moot point. The international community probably won’t choose us in favor of sticking it to Obama.           

Then, Rush would really have some ammo.  

2. Alright, we’ll bite.

El Tigre aka Tiger Woods won the FedEx Cup on Sunday by finishing second to the immortal Phil Mickelson. Anyway, Woods’ $10 millions bonus put him above $1 billion in his career. Not bad for 12 years of work. In the past year, as the market has decreased substantially and 401ks have decreased along with them, it must be pretty nice to have a year where you make $110 million. The only solace in this is that he didn’t win a major this year. However, how much would anyone really care if they had the hottest wife this side of the Atlantic, a huge paycheck and the right to be a jerk whenever you wanted without any repercussion? It’s a wonderful life. Enjoy it, Tiger. That deal you made with the devil only ensures your inevitable demise in hell.    

3. Perhaps Vick should have used his dogfighting experience  

Michael Vick had, by all accounts, a pretty mediocre week at quarterback for the Eagles in last Sunday’s game. Apparently, he gave an inspiring story about his wonderful dogs who overcame the adversity and managed to succeed despite the fact that they would be killed if they didn’t.   Vick is a changed man now. He sees the world in a different light. He gives speeches to promote animal rights awareness and doesn’t want to ever have his animals harmed in the future. Guess, the Eagles must have been blinded by his speed because that’s clearly a bunch of bulldog.   Vick will come back and be dominant again. Especially after he’s been tested in the ring that is the competitive NFL. IT just might take a while   But he has plenty to keep himself entertained, like even more secret dogfighting.

Cowboys Stadium Seems a Little Excessive, But That’s Just Us

 

1. Not so Mighty and Morphin

Sometimes, people on television feel as if the characters they have played prepare them for real-life situations. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s role as the Terminator obviously prepared him for the tough and politically charged governor’s role of California. Fran Drescher’s role as a nanny on “The Nanny” correlated with her ability to be Senator of New York. Luckily, David Patterson did not feel the same way. All New York needs is another whiny voice in politics.

But while the on-screen roles of the aforementioned stars didn’t do anything to prepare them for their new paths, the same can’t be said for Jason David Frank. You may know him better as the Green (and White) Ranger from the greatest children’s TV series ever: “The Power Rangers.”

 Many may recall how weak he appeared in certain episodes and how frustrating he was to watch. We hated him for being weak and always being injured. We especially hated him because he stole Kimberly — the adorable Pink ranger played by Amy Jo Johnson (didn’t even need to Wikipedia that name) — and made us jealous.

Anyway, the years of battling Rita and her gang of criminals has yielded a new career for him as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. He has decided to begin his next career in this arena where he will face the equally difficult and dangerous likes of Brock Lesnar and the disturbingly awful comedy of Joe Rogan.

We wish him the best. He won’t have his dragon dagger (again, no need for Wikipedia) to help him, but he will have his charming good looks.

Wait — that won’t work against Brock, but maybe against Joe.

Anyway, we think he’s about to see what happens when the script doesn’t favor his character.

 

2. Lighting strikes twice

 Remember how we just had a conversation about people in one arena of entertainment thinking they are qualified to do something in the real world? And how it doesn’t ever work out well? Adding to this theme of preposterousness is Linda McMahon. You may know her better as the former CEO of the WWE, the wrestling business that brought you the likes of Triple H, the Rock, Stone Cold and, regrettably, Test.

Now she is running for Senator of Connecticut against embattled incumbent — and super Red — Christopher Dodd. She may not be qualified to run at all, considering she has absolutely zero political experience, but her campaign would be absolutely amazing if we disregard a couple glitches.

But if we look at certain things she has authorized in the past, it may come to haunt her. For example, she has slapped her own daughter Stephanie across the face (which doesn’t exactly show family values), wrestled younger divas in the ring ( which doesn’t exactly show fine judgment) and allowed someone to run over Stone Cold Steve Austin, nearly paralyzing him and leaving him out of the business for more than a year. We still don’t know how we passed the time for that long.

But at rallies, she could have Stone Cold drink immeasurable amounts of beer with the constituents. The Rock could fake “rock bottom” images of Dodd on a mat. Or, if she wanted to create cool slogans to denounce policies she doesn’t like, she could just use some wrestlers to say their famous taglines. Like, X-Pac could say “A Public Health Option Can Suck it.” Or something like that.

 

3. Wait, is it Already Christmas?

Kurt Angle won an Olympic Gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, but we only knew him as the cocky SOB on WWE who always thought he was better than everyone. Needless to say, when he would lose, we were happier than Y.E. Yang after beating Tiger.

Angle recently appeared on “The Howard Stern Show” and was flat-out denied a date by Robin Quivers, Stern’s longtime assistant. That’s pretty embarrassing. He won a gold medal for Christ’s (Jeter’s) sake.

Perhaps he should just stick to fashioning even more colorful singlets.

 

2. What do they think we are, stupid?!

Advertising and marketing are powerful tools to trick people into believing that a product is better than it actually is. And for many years it worked: people bought crappy financial products and crappy cars, watched crappy television and even decided to purchase those god-awful Snuggies. But if there is one thing this financial crisis has taught us, it’s to keep ourselves focused on what we are buying and to spend wisely. This fact only adds to the hilarity that is the Detroit Lions football team — we refrain from saying professional because even a pee-wee team can lose every game in a season.

Anyway, the team recently revealed (unleashed) its new logo for the year, a fiercer-looking lion with the word “Lions” italicized. Man, we guess everyone else is scared now. We bet those marketing guys thought this would definitely work.

Sure, it’s nice to see that they are trying to change their mentality by going in with a new look, sort of like a fresh beginning.

But let’s face it, come opening day when the media arrive to ask questions, I’m thinking we’re going to hear a lot more questions that begin with, “C’mon coach, with a logo like that, do you think people are frightened?” as opposed to, “So coach, after an 0-16 season, how do you…”

That’s just our guess. Unless, of course, people are still just as dumb as they were over the past generation.
Which, with what is still on television, very well might be.

3. Give it a Rest

The Yankees fell 22-4 to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, in a game that included ace pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (Ace? If you mean the Jim Carrey character, perhaps.) Anyway, after allowing 22 runs to the Indians, the Yankees were heavily criticized by their local media. Front page stories read “Stinkees” or had large headlines displaying the score.

What kind of journalism is that? How do they think it helps the Yankees play? You hear all the time that, “Oh, it’s just the tough New York press.” That’s a load of crap at this point. They don’t have to be so overly critical. If anything, they contribute to the negative aura surrounding the clubhouse, further perpetuating the bad play. Guess they don’t care though; whatever sells a newspaper.

But, despite this rant, the Yankees do stink.