By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
1. Question: How much does a polar bear weigh? Answer: Enough to break the ice. I immediately apologize for the cheesy pickup line that begins this week’s Numbers Game, but I have watched that Hall Pass movie starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis like three or four times the past week or so, and some of the incredibly helpful pickup attempts seem to have rubbed off on me just a little bit. I can’t promise that it is my last one for the rest of the presentation today, but I am going to do my best not to embarrass myself any further. For my own sake at least. However, I know you all expect some hard hitting, in-depth sports analysis from me each and every week, so without further interruption, please kick back and enjoy a little sports talk. Let’s go.
2. I honestly believe that being a diehard baseball fan is the most emotionally draining job that one sports fanatic can have in this country. Over the course of six months, your favorite team is almost always guaranteed 60 victories and a dead lock to lose at least 60. That means that the remaining 42 games determine whether you are the Texas Rangers or the Kansas City Royals. But if you are truly locked in to your favorite team each and every night and take terrible losses in mid-May really hard, you don’t even want to think about possibly getting swept in the middle of a playoff chase in August or September because of what it might do to your mind, body, and soul. I have had to learn over the past couple years to approach these games in April and May like the players do; when they start freaking out about the way they are playing, I am allowed to freak out. However, if you have a really talented team like the Rangers and you lose a series to Seattle in mid-May, just take a couple deep breaths, wash that favorite Josh Hamilton jersey you have that you are sure contains good luck, and realize that there are 117 games remaining in 2012. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
3. Now if you are a Minnesota Twins fan, you should probably give up on this season and just start playing for 2013. There’s always an exception to the rule.
4. I tried watching some of Game 6 between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics last night, but somehow tuning in to a game that was 36-33 at halftime shockingly didn’t hold my interest. It is well documented that my NBA fandom is a little down the line compared to baseball or football, but the only series in this second round of the playoffs that I have been keeping up with closely has been the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat. I love the little underdog team that could, so seeing the little Pacers dominate LeBron and Wade in game three was pretty satisfying for myself and the millions of other Heat “haters” out there. But to win in the NBA you need stars, and unfortunately for the Pacers, Roy Hibbert and Paul George don’t quite stack up with the aforementioned LeBron and Wade. The series will sadly end tonight in Indiana, but I loved watching six very physical and grueling games between these two teams over the past couple of weeks.
5. Yes, if you were fumbling around the variety of ESPN channels around 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday night, you probably stumbled upon a show on ESPN2 called SportsCenter Special: AFC North Preview. You got that right folks; a two-hour special in the middle of May dedicated to one division in pro football on a night where there is a full slate of baseball games on the tube and game five of the Pacers-Heat series. If that does not speak to the popularity of the NFL in this fine country of ours, I just don’t know what does.
6. Apparently Jerry is feeling some of the pressure from not making it to the Super Bowl in the past 16 years of his tenure as the owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys. So he made it clear this week that the window is closing on him and his team, saying that if they do not strike gold soon with guys like Tony Romo, Demarcus Ware, and Jason Witten, they risk never winning a championship with two future Hall of Famers and a top five QB in this league. I don’t believe that the window is closing of the Cowboys quite yet, but they do have to hit on a couple guys in this incoming draft class to keep those beliefs true in my mind. After four or five years of just horrendous draft picks rolling through Valley Ranch, the talent on the roster outside of the top 10 players has dropped off dramatically each year. Hitting on guys like Boise State DE Tyrone Crawford and Wake Forest OLB Kyle Wilber is the key to giving Romo and the Boys one final legitimate shot at the Super Bowl in Big D.
7. If you tuned into this week’s Sports Bruu Podcast (which you can still subscribe to on iTunes), then you heard Saturday Night Live’s hilarious impression of ESPN’s talking head Stephen A. Smith performed by cast member Jay Pharoah. As someone who has heard Smith yell one too many times on ESPN over my lifetime, I thought the performance was spot on and I do give credit to Smith for reportedly taking the impression well and laughing with it. I have been told that Smith has officially signed on for good to be a daily part of the mess that is First Take with Skip Bayless, meaning that you have to decide between a “live” repeat of SportsCenter, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, or First Take if you want to get a little sports coverage in the morning. The possibilities are endless.
8. Song of the Week: Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free) – Lupe Fiasco. When people are asked about Lupe and whether they like his music, most say that they love “The Show Goes On” but really don’t like his other stuff. When asked why, a lot of people give really odd reasons, but the fact is that 99 percent of his lyrics are so deep and intricate that you can’t just listen on the radio and walk away knowing what he is saying. He is the definition of a true artist, meaning that you actually have to study his work and find the messages underneath other messages, the same thing you could do with classic Beatles tracks. Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album is going to be absolutely insane, and I can’t wait to hear Lupe unrestrained from the confines of his record label so that he can get back to pushing the boundaries of hip-hop lyrically.
9. Congrats to Phillip Phillips for winning American Idol on Wednesday night. If someone besides Hollie Cavanagh had to walk away with the prize, I was glad that it was he. I hope the music industry doesn’t turn Phillips into some lovey-dovey pop sensation and he is allowed to keep that uniqueness and roughness that made him popular on the show to begin with. It is really cool to see a 21-year old kid show that kind of emotion on stage after undoubtedly the biggest moment of his life. Hopefully the next stop for you is Los Angeles for a Grammy Award, Mr. Phillips.
10. This is a couple weeks old but I don’t think I ever addressed the matter on this platform. This fall ESPN’s 30 For 30 Film Series returns with new documentaries and films covering everything from athletes going broke after their playing days are over, to Bo Jackson, to the 1982-83 North Carolina State basketball team. I literally cannot wait for the movies to return this October, and if you have not checked out the first installments of the 30 For 30 series, I advise you to check them out and enjoy.
11. One of the shows I got hooked on last fall was the FX original series American Horror Story. While I would advise the adults to keep this away from the young ones, the show grew week by week into one of the most fascinating and engaging shows on TV. The kind of words, actions, and images that they can get away with are shocking to say the least, but it was announced earlier this month that season two will be set in an East Coast insane asylum in the 1960s, run by leading woman Jessica Lange. While some of the same actors will return from season one, like Lange, Evan Peters (Tate) and Zachary Quinto (Chad), the names and roles for each of them will be much different from the first season. You can even include Maroon 5 leading man Adam Levine as a future cast member in the fall. Safe to say that season two could be even more twisted than its opening act, and I don’t think the millions of AHS fans will care one bit.
12. At the quarter pole in the baseball season, I would like to pass out the coveted TNG Awards to some of the accomplishments that have occurred in the first two months of the season.
13. Surprising Team of the Year: Los Angeles Dodgers. Could never imagine Ted Lilly as a top five pitcher in the National League and Andre Ethier becoming 1B to Matt Kemp’s 1A.
14. Disappointing Team of the Year: Pittsburgh Pirates. While they probably weren’t supposed to contend with much seriousness for the entire season, there are only one or two lineups that are more boring to watch than the Pirates.
15. Best Division in Baseball: AL East. While the NL East may have something to say about it, when Boston (22-22) is in last place in your division, it means that you have a pretty stout group of teams. While I love a good story, Baltimore won’t be in first place past the All-Star Break once that rotation gets a little wear and tear on it.
16. Worst Division in Baseball: AL Central. While Detroit won’t finish in third place at seasons end, there is not a lot of good baseball being played in this division outside of Cleveland. If the Indians can hold on to the division lead versus the Tigers this summer, you may have a very wacky playoff bracket in the American League this October.
17. MVP: Josh Hamilton, Texas. No real shock here. The guy is decent.
18. Playoff Brackets if the Playoffs Started Today in the AL: Wild Card Round – Tampa Bay vs. Toronto. ALDS: Baltimore vs. Winner of Wild Card Game, Texas vs. Cleveland.
19. Playoff Brackets if the Playoffs Started Today in the NL: Wild Card Round – Atlanta vs. Cincinnati. NLDS: Los Angeles vs. Winner of Wild Card Game, Washington vs. St. Louis.
20. Yeah, baseball could get weird this fall.
21. As 100-plus degrees temperatures are nearly upon us in McKinney, I advise you all to wear lots of sunscreen and to be careful when you are reading The Numbers Game on your phone while out by the pool. You will be so engaged you may forget where you are and get severely sunburned. I am just looking out for you all. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.