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Wide World of Balls


Replacement referees continue lousing everything up, a baseball dude recuses himself from the batting title, no NHL, and Detlef Schrempf likes country music.

No one likes watching sports all the time except people who are past the prime of their lives, work for ESPN, and/or are extremely obese. Anyone else who makes a point of watching athletic competition on appointment is either running towards or away from something. Sports are the best (duh) but stick to one or two, unless it’s what you do, otherwise you won’t develop cool outside interests/find time to get baked. Luckily for your bama ass I keep up with this shit, so if you want to impress sports fans—and who doesn’t?—read on.


- I hate to tell the same story two weeks in a row, but NFL games are only (really) once a week and the referees are beyond terrible this week, same as last week. The Patriots-Ravens game was bullshit. Brandon Spikes, who played in the game, said in a statement (Tweet), "Can someone please tell these fucking zebras foot locker called and they’re needed Back at work !!!!" It might be the second-realest opinion ever expressed on Twitter by a player.

- Is it the refs' fault that they're so bad? In a literal sense, sure: Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth, who called Monday's game, admitted these guys are ill-equipped. The refs are here, of course, since the main ones are in a lockout with the NFL over, among other things, potentially going to work full-time. It's wild to think that two sets of part-timers are so wildly divergent in their skillsets, and that some of these guys can run successful brothels and quarries while officiating weekends, but some people are incredibly talented. How to get them back to work? Players are making a snit—but does the NFLPA need to step in to make a dent? Quality of play isn't the operator here.

- The Saints are 0-3 after an unimpressive loss to a less impressive Kansas City team. The teams who have beaten the Saints haven’t won a game this season except against the Saints. By some metrics, the Saints have a less than 3 percent chance of making the postseason. The season’s still new, losses are not especially predictive, and the talent is there to turn it around, but boy do the Saints stink worse than we thought.


- Marcus Allen, deposed running back and brother to the greatest quarterback in sporting history, lit the Al Davis remembrance torch on Sunday before the Raiders’ wild win over the Steelers. Davis, basically the Phil Spector of AFC football/Raiders/stadium hostage taking, fell out of favor with Allen in the 90s for reasons nobody knows. Sources (snitches) say it’s because Allen was buddies with OJ, which is awesome.

- Melky Cabrera earned the NL home-field advantage in the All-Star Game with a game-winning hit in July, was busted for steroids in August and did the sensible (suprising) thing and recused himself from batting title candidacy in September. Batting average is a dinosaur stat—hitting in the .300s doesn’t mean you’re a good hitter, just that you get a lot of hits (there's a difference)—and commentary surrounding it is equally Paleolithic, since people who care about batting titles are older than my dad. Steroids probably didn’t help Cabrera hit more bloop singles, but not everyone gets that. No one knows what steroids do. If he wins the batting title—the lead guy’s been scuffling—he could become public enemy number one. It’s not a good look for a fallen and hated former Yankees prospect who happens to be a punch and Judy hitter.

- World Baseball Classic qualifying matches are underway. Spain beat Israel on Saturday, which is unfortunate, but one of Spain’s pitchers is a Cuban emigré in his late 40s and throws in the high 80s, which absolutely awesome.

College football:
- Not exactly game news, but the No. 1 high school QB per ESPN’s estimate, Christian Hackenberg, (also No. 1 on, has committed to Penn State. Not in the ink-on-paper sense, since signing day isn't until February, but he’s super keen on it. if he goes there, it could be a left turn akin to the one LeBron James and Chris Bosh pulled in 2010.

- :(

- Detlef Schrempf is a Tim McGraw fan!