by George Ducker
Much as it hurts to admit it, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays may have the White Sox's number. Down two games for the five-game ALDS, Chicago managed a 5-3 win on Sunday, when everyone else was probably watching football.
Stephen Cannella writes about the Rays' new-ish coach Joe Maddon who, after three doghouse seasons in St. Petersburgh, brought his team to a complete, if utterly baffling, dominance of the NL East.
Yankees who? Red Sox who? The Rays ended the season 97-65, earning their best record ever and their first trip to the playoffs since their 1998 inception.
But who cares about numbers when there's Maddon's Hugo Boss frames to consider?
He sports a sleek, 21st-century take on classic horn-rims, a funky pair of Hugo Boss specs that appear to have been swiped from Elvis Costello's nightstand. His fiancée, Jaye Sousoures, picked them out for him four years ago. She simply thought they looked good on him, but they have since added to Maddon's aura as, in the words of Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli, "a pretty cool cat." (The front office caught on right away, handing out 15,000 replica pairs on Joe Maddon Retro Glasses Night in his first season with Tampa Bay.)
Or his hairstyle? In September, after trouncing the Red Sox 13-5, Maddon got himself a Mohawk.
The team stylist (we didn't know one existed) stayed late and clipped Maddon's hair into his own version of the hawk. His is not as pronounced and can be turned unnoticeable if he brushes his hair to the side.
And then there's the choice of clubhouse inspiration:
Soon after he was hired in the fall of 2005, Maddon papered the Rays' clubhouse with inspirational quotes from an eclectic collection of thinkers, including UCLA icon John Wooden ("Discipline yourself so no one else has to"), former Fed chief Alan Greenspan ("Rules cannot take the place of character") and The Myth of Sisyphus author Albert Camus ("Integrity has no need of rules"). Camus was an apt choice: When Maddon replaced managerial heavyweight Lou Piniella, who jumped ship with a year left on his contract, he seemed to be taking on a Sisyphean task."
Staying on the managers/coaches tip: Lane Kiffin was fired from the Oakland Raiders by resident totalitarian grump, owner Al Davis. He did it early last week, knowing that Oakland would have a bye's worth of time to regroup and make sure interim coach Tom Cable knew everyone's name:
Davis read and displayed on an overhead projector a three-page warning letter he'd given to Kiffin nearly three weeks ago. He called on the coach to "cease your immature and destructive campaign" by publicly criticizing the team. Davis also called Kiffin a "flat-out liar" and vowed not to pay Kiffin the remaining money owed on the contract because he was fired "with cause."
"You've Got Something There" - Blind Boy Fuller (mp3)
Current Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who also got fired from the Raiders after only twenty games (in 1989), even weighed in on the situation.
Now, Kiffin is considering litigation. According to Fox Sports (of all places): some close to Kiffin are advising him about the possibility of filing a multi-million-dollar defamation lawsuit against Davis. The suit would be the result of the Tuesday attack in which Davis lobbed several well-placed accusations about Kiffin, calling him a liar and blasting him for what he basically deemed insubordination.
Davis, for his part, still manages to look like something straight out of Nosferatu. They call him "the rat," but an equally apt, if less succinct, moniker would be "the haggard, walking corpse."
Al Davis: Scaring The Hell Out Of Children Since 1929
"Baby, You've Gotta Change Your Mind" - Blind Boy Fuller (mp3)
Trent Edwards says: Oh wait guys. My keys.
Buffalo Bills' quarterback Trent Edwards won himself a concussion on the very first drive against the Arizona Cardinals, when he made the mistake of walking into a wall named Adrian Wilson.
With Edwards out for the rest of the game (they say he'll be back in two weeks, when Buffalo plays San Diego after a bye), backup man "JP Losman, who wanted an offseason trade after losing his job to Edwards, was 15-of-21 for 220 yards, most of them on an 87-yard touchdown pass to Lee Evans."
Let's repeat that: an 87-yard pass. Unfortunately, all the drama amounted to little more than 17 points which, after four quarters, couldn't beat the Cardinals' 41. First loss for the Bills. Kinda embarrassing. Kinda "emphatic."
Losman's got a hell of a beard tho
Of all the NFL, only the New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans remain undefeated.
On the collegiate side of things, Penn State and Brigham Young also remain pleasantly undefeated. They are now ranked #6 and #9, respectively, in the AP Top 25. But will they last?
Sure, most people think watching football is vastly improved by a reduction of wind-baggy commentators, but William Bowers from Pitchfork (of all places) suggests a smattering of Max Richter and Arvo Pärt to enhance your NCAA football experience: "Never will meaningless advancement seem so cosmically arbitrary and haunted by the abyss!"
I would like to put forth that just about any track from then-Monkee Michael Nesmith's The Wichita Train Whistle Sings would provide a great, rousing game-opener that even Penn St.'s fans would appreciate.
"Nine Times Blue" - Michael Nesmith (mp3)
And lastly, the stock market is down. The economy is in a sobby state. Sure, sure, sure. Could this affect (gasp) tennis?
George Ducker is the senior contributor to This Recording. He apologizes for the lack of links to songs by Max Richter and Arvo Pärt. He also apologizes for his inability to procure David Banner to write this post, as he'd promised last week. Mr. Banner's handlers are rightfully distrustful of the internet.
THE EXCEEDINGLY STRANGE ART OF VINCENT HUI CAN BE FOUND HERE
DAVID BANNER WATCHES OVER YOU IN YOUR SLEEP
"Play" - David Banner (mp3)
"Suicide Doors" - David Banner (mp3)
"Shawty Say (feat. Lil Wayne)" - David Banner (mp3)
"Ball With Me (feat. Chamillionaire)" - David Banner (mp3)
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING
Eli Manning meets the Super Bowl.
A ten-piece kit with a double bass pedal often does make the man.
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