April 2009 | Sharapova's Thigh

Thigh-Fiving These Links 4/30/09 Edition

Posted by Matt Clapp | 4/30/2009 02:30:00 PM | ,

Thigh Five From Vikki Blows!
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Two "Dynasties" End, Should We Care?

Posted by Poorly Acquitted | 4/30/2009 11:48:00 AM | , , ,

In the last couple nights we've seen San Antonio lose in the first round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in 12 years. AKA Timmy D's entire career. We also saw Utah get run by the Lakers. I don't know that these results were surprising to people that know the game. The surprising part was just how poorly these two teams played in getting eliminated. In my humble opinion this was the last rodeo for these two storied franchises. (at least for the foreseeable future)

The Spurs have 4 titles in the last 10 years. Nuff said.

While the Jazz don't have the championship pedigree they've been consistently good for a long long time. Since Jerry Sloan has been there they have produced the NBA's 2nd leading scorer of all time, the NBA's all time assist leader, and the NBA's all time steals leader. Pretty solid.

The Jazz are going to dismantled after this season, as J.A. Adande wrote about earlier this week. Their owner died (R.I.P. Larry Miller). Jerry Sloan is going to retire. Their radio guy is retiring. Carolos Boozer is going to opt out. D Will is gone in 2 years when his contract is up. The Jazz have Andre Kirilenko's contract for two more years. Aside from Raef LaFrenz, Kirilenko's contract might be the worst in the league. The Jazz will resign Paul Millsap this summer, but they'll have to overpay for him. If they resign Korver, who's contract is also up, they'll probably have to overpay.

A lot of people thought this was the best supporting cast Timmy D and Pop had ever assembled. Tony Parker is now the best player on the Spurs. Manu is the hugest douchebag in the league, but the dude knows how to win. Every other guy on the roster, aside from Drew Gooden, can knock down the three point shot. They can spread the floor out and let Parker penetrate and kick or finish. The Spurs will always be one of the top defensive teams in the league. The problem is that the Spurs are getting old and when you get old you get hurt. Manu and Timmy have each missed more games every year in each of the past 3 seasons. Tim Bowen is old and no longer effective as a defender. Kurt Thomas and Michael Finley are the same players they have always been, but their minutes are down because, once again, they're old. The other problem is that in today's NBA you need either speed and/or length. The Spurs really have neither.

To quote Roman Nagel from Ocean's 13, "Danny, I like you. And you Rusty. I mean, you've got style. You've got brio. You've got loyalty. Believe me, I'd love to go up against Greco and crush him...but it can't be beat. It can't be hacked and it can't be beat. You're analog players in a digital world."

Ok, so I got carried away with the bad movie quote. Not important. The Spurs do not have the style and they do not have the athletes to remain dominant in this league.

I'm trying to think how I should feel about the downfall of these two teams. I hide nothing about loathing both of these teams. The Jazz are my beloved Nuggets biggest rival. I went to college in San Antonio, and while there the Spurs eliminated the Nuggets from the playoffs 3 times. I hate both of these teams. Actually the only time I've been punched in my life was at a Nuggets / Spurs playoff game. A kid ran up to me, punched me and ran away. I looked at a nearby cop who just shrugged his shoulders and said "You're wearing a Nuggets jersey." I wasn't hurt bad, but I was bleeding. Weird right?

But these two teams sinking into mediocrity somehow makes me a little sad. These two cities are really similar. They are both 1 sport towns and they both love their NBA hoop. Trivia time: Can you name the other five cities where the NBA franchise is the only professional squad?

I think if you surveyed every NBA player they would tell you that Salt Lake and San Antonio are two of the five toughest places to play in the league. You always hear about how loud Energy Solutions Arena gets, but the AT&T Center is the loudest sports venue I've ever been to (except Coors Field when I was there for the Matt Holliday face plant in the Play In-Game at the end of the 2007 season). Make no mistake, football may be king in Texas but San Antonio, and everything south of the city, live, breathe, bleed and die with the Spurs.

When I think of successful franchises I think of coaching longevity. Long-tenured coaches always mean two things a.) that you win ball games and b.) that you have strong ownership. Jerry Sloan and Pop are the two longest tenured coaches in the NBA. As I said earlier, I really think that Sloan will retire. Pop is not retiring, and he's probably not going to shave any time soon either, and will be in San Antonio for years to come.

In my mind I compare these two squads to Steelers in the NFL. The Rooney's are the best ownership group in all of sports. Larry Miller was up there. I don't know the name of San Antonio's owner, which shows why he's good at his job. He snags his courtside seats, cheers, goes home, never makes a public comment RE: refs, players, etc. He lets his coach do the job. He is the anti-Mark Cuban. Miller is no longer there for Utah. The foundation is still there for the Spurs, but as with buildings, foundations crumble.

Time's up: Orlando, Portland, Oklahoma City, Memphis and Sacramento

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The floor looks like it smells clean.

It’s not and it doesn’t.

It smells like a $500 bottle of Maker’s Mark after it was poured all over two girls from Ohio State who hate whiskey but love expensive things being poured on them. It smells like the business end of a $45 all-you-can-eat buffet, where only 10 minutes ago it lay in the gut of a Maryland fan that had one plate and one drink too many. Like a 4 am, 45 minute champagne room visit that your friends, your bank and your parents pleaded with you to avoid. Like excess.

It smells like typical Vegas.

But that’s after the third day of your first drunk. When, in the battle of you vs. them, they’ve wiped the floor with you, like the way a 1 beats the piss out of a 16 seed. Proving that not only can you not handle extreme amounts of alcohol, but also that you can’t even handle the simplest things in your world. Like making sure that you do not spend more money than you have to your name. Like making sure you don’t piss your pants. Or piss a stranger. Vegas makes sure that you know what you have always suspected: that you, indeed, are a pussy. A total failure.

No. Of course not. You’re not a failure. That’s the beauty of Vegas: it comes this close to breaking you down, only for you to “realize” that it’s nothing, it’s just a weekend. But, for the first time, because you can’t summon the power to do anything at all but stare at the carpet of the sportsbook, you start to feel bored. And, in Vegas, that might be worse.

Vegas wouldn’t crush you on your first night. It’s too smart for that. This all happens days in, after you’ve watched grown men cry at televisions. After you’ve cheered as a 13 seed beat a 4 seed only to then realize you took the chalk. After you’ve lost your last dollar six times.

This is after you’ve experienced the first weekend of March Madness on the Vegas strip. And you’ll go back every year afterwards.

_________________________

If your goal is to maximize your fun and basketball watching, but minimize Vegas’ affect on your body and psyche, it’s best to arrive in Vegas the night before the tournament starts (Wednesday) and leave that Saturday. Any shorter and you miss the entire reason you visited Vegas in the first place. Any longer and you’ll turn into the lowest of the low: what Ben Affleck (of all people) effectively and accurately called “a mud turtle”. Stay too long, which in this case is 4 nights, and you’ll be useful to no one. Not even yourself.

Anyway. You arrive Wednesday night because you want to be as settled in as possible for the next two days. Because, of course, the next two days are the entire reason they call it March Madness. 32 games in 2 days: that’s 4 games every 3 seconds, or something like that. If you show up Thursday morning, even before the games start, there is no possible way to be prepared. It would be as if you’re meeting everyone downtown on a Saturday night, only you couldn’t pregame because you had to work. So everyone, for the rest of the night, will be three hours ahead of you. Plus, if you show up Thursday morning you don’t get to play blackjack drunk from 1 to 6 am in the luxurious Casino Royale the night before.

No matter if you drink Wednesday night or not, you’ve got to face the unavoidable paradox in the morning: the sportsbook. Since the games start at 9 in the morning (you’re on the west coast), that means that everyone who wants to place a bet has to make it up before 8:30. That means that everyone who wants a seat has to be there at 5 in the morning (or sometimes earlier). And both of those mean that the sportsbook, which is usually one of the happiest places in all the west, is now one of the (relatively) saddest places on Earth. No one is happy because everyone is hungover. Everyone. Even those who didn’t drink. The soulless are wandering and you can see it on their faces. That Illini fan spent too much money at Spearmint Rhino. That dueschbag in the Arizona jersey dropped $1200 on two Grey Goose bottles only to find that two bottles and a table doesn’t prevent you from being kicked out of the club. The atmosphere is sad and contagious. Until, you place your bet that is. Because then the whole thing becomes real and all of those feelings, all of those toxins and all of those memories wash away.

____________________________

Conversations preceding your Vegas trip will usually go like this:

Basketball-fan-not-as-hardcore-as-you: “So you’re going to Vegas for the NCAA tournament. I didn’t know that Vegas was hosting tournament games”

You: “They aren’t. I’m just going to watch and bet on the games in the sportsbook.”

Bfnahay: “So, you’re just going to watch the games on TV. Can’t you do that in (fill-in-the-blank city)?”

There is no way for them to understand, because this weekend is something you have to experience in order to fully appreciate it (Note: I recognize that that pretty much negates all that I’m writing, but deal with it). Why would you travel XXXX number of miles to watch a game on TV, a game that would be available in your region? Because of the circus that is the sportsbook, that’s why. Nowhere else in the world will you find two grown men next to each other, one about to win the equivalent of a sportscar and the other about to put his family on the brink of bankruptcy. One is happier than he’s ever been in his life, willing to pay for all of your incidentals for the rest of your weekend, and the other is figuring out how he’s going to tell his wife that they need to take out a second mortgage out on their first house. One will give you a $100 chip just because you’re standing next to him and the other will try to punch you in the face. Of course, those moments are rare, but they are there.

More common: The hilarious and entertaining moments when everyone, regardless of their favorite teams, cheers for the same side solely because of the bets everyone has placed. It doesn’t matter what the category: spread, first half spread, over, under, which cheerleader screws up first. Most of the time in the sportsbook, whether because of a “tip”, everyone “feeling” the line or just because of a bad line placement, most of the crowd is betting together. There are the more obvious instances, like when a large portion of the crowd has taken the moneyline on a big underdog (example this year: Cleveland State), those bettors (and their friends) being well aware that a win could cause their windfalls to quadruple, thereby making that night all the more ridiculous (read: expensive).

But there are also the less noticeable moments, like when a game is a blowout but the point difference keeps jumping back and forth over the spread (example this year: Duke/Binghamton). It’s in that moment that you realize the true beauty of this weekend: No one else in the country, not even the Duke or Binghamton fan, cares about this game. Everyone has turned their tvs off. But 100 men are going nuts in the sportsbook over a meaningless layup here and a 14-foot jumper there. And they are all the happiest they’ve been since the last time it happened two hours ago. It’s like this for an entire weekend.

__________________________

The best part about the trip: is that it’s Vegas, only bigger. And, in the land of hotels as big as cities, bottomless 6-foot tall margaritas, topless blackjack tables (at the Wynn) and a 3,000 seat arena built solely for Danny Gans that seems impossible. Going to Vegas the first weekend of March Madness must feel exactly to basketball fans as when porn addicts go to Vegas for the Adult Video Convention or when the orthopedic surgeons go for their foot therapy parties: Not only is there the gambling, nightlife and strip clubs but now you have something to gawk at during the day. Something to do besides nurse your hangover and cautiously play the tables all afternoon long, hoping not to spend the money that you’re going to blow on $50 club entrance fees and $30 drinks that night.

Sure, it’s ridiculous. Sure, it’s morally (and ethically) reprehensible. Sure, for the first three weeks after Vegas you don’t want to even think about the trip, or the city. You don’t want to hear any words beginning with L or V. Sure, you might have to take a second (or third) job to cover the money you spent but didn’t have. But for one weekend out of the year, you have the opportunity to go to Disneyland, the Super Bowl and the Playboy Mansion all at once. Now why would you pass that up?

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UPDATE: Krystal Forscutt Defeats Alyssa Milano And Moves On To The 2009 Thighnal Four!

We have quite an intriguing matchup to begin the Elite Eight. It features the longtime favorite of many males, Alyssa Milano, against the latest sensation that many are picking to win this tournament, Krystal Forscutt. To celebrate the Elite Eight, we're using eight pictures per lady, rather than the previous six. Don't worry, we won't move down to just four pictures for the next round.

The results are determined by your voting, so you know what to do after the pictures and write-ups of our contestants.

Alyssa Milano
If you don't know who is Alyssa Milano is, do us a favor and get off the site. She's 36 and you'd never know it by how stunningly gorgeous she is, looking better than ever. She's got some Julio Franco in her. I think she can keep it up well into her 40s, maybe more.

Alyssa would love nothing more than to have a rematch against 2008 Hot Ladies Tournament champion Megan Fox, who knocked Alyssa out in the Thighnal Four last year. They'd meet again in the Thighnal Four if they can each knock off their terrific opponents this round.



Krystal Forscutt
Krystal is a 22-year-old Australian model, and has quickly become a favorite of many Thigh readers. For that reason, we ranked her as the top #2 seed, which is quite an honor considering we automatically awarded the 2008 Thighnal Four members with #1 seeds, and Krystal wasn't in last year's tournament. This young lady is a blossoming star.

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Thigh-Fiving These Links 4/29/09 Edition

Posted by Matt Clapp | 4/29/2009 02:15:00 PM | ,

Thigh Five From Olga Kurylenko!
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The Elite Eight Awaits

Posted by Matt Clapp | 4/29/2009 01:30:00 AM | , ,

The last three Sweetest Sixteen games were just concluded. Elisha Cuthbert(1) defeated Emily Scott(5) in the East region, Megan Fox(1) beat Gemma Atkinson(5), and Keeley Hazell(2) destroyed Joanna Krupa(6).

We're oh so close to the Thighnal Four. To get there, these beautiful ladies must find a way to win in the Elite Eight of course, and that's going to be quite a challenge considering these matchups. Many have complained about our seeding along the way, but here we are in the Elite Eight, and only the #1 and #2 seeds are left standing.

Remember, all of the #1 seeds were in the Thighnal Four last year, so they're going for a return visit.

Let's take a look at the matchups....

Midwest Region Final
Megan Fox(1) vs. Minka Kelly(2)

West Region Final
Alyssa Milano(1) vs. Krystal Forscutt(2)

East Region Final
Elisha Cuthbert(1) vs. Marisa Miller(2)

South Region Final
Jessica Alba(1) vs. Keeley Hazell(2)

Any of these games could go either way, it's sure to be exciting. Check back very soon as we'll have these games underway, and the results are determined by your votes. Keep checking the "Hot Tournament Headlines" in the right sidebar to see which games are available for vote.

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Thigh-Fiving These Links 4/28/09 Edition

Posted by Matt Clapp | 4/28/2009 01:40:00 PM | ,

Thigh Five From Rachel Bilson Even Though She's Engaged To That D-Bag Hayden Christensen!

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I've heard that the Thighvites....Thigheans...anyway

I've heard that you, our readers, clamoring for the next installment of Getting Our Drink On.

Ask and you shall receive.

Only I provided a little misdirection by leading certain members of our readership toward a beer that I am not about to write about.

Presenting...

Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale

Red Seal is the flagship brew of North Coast Brewing Company located in Mendocino County, California (Ft. Bragg, CA to be specific). I've fallen in love with tasty ale during the two summers that I've spent in LA. As I'm about to relocate to SoCal you better believe that there will always be some Red Seal in my fridge.

The full name of the tasty ale pays homage to the master brewer at North Coast, Mark Ruedrich.


Vitals
American Amber Ale

5.5% ABV

Bitterness rating of 42 IBUs

Non-Vital Data
I'm not going to pretend to know what 42 IBUs means. This beer is really flavorful and hoppy yet still refreshing.

I like craft beers. The problem with craft beers is that they tend to make me full. Even a lighter wheat beer still fills me up after I've taken a few down. Red Seal is different. You could suck down more Red Seal than.....well, it's easy drink. Unlike many craft brews you can easily drink a sixer of Red Seal and still want more.

Balance is the true beauty of Red Seal. For those that prefer more flavor, Red Seal delivers. For those that want something to drink with a meal, Red Seal is perfect. If you want something light and refreshing to enjoy on the porch on a summer afternoon, pick up a Red Seal. If you prefer a hoppy beverage, Red Seal can answer that bell for you too. No one part of Red Seal stands out, but give a shot and I'm sure you'll be fan. Fans of beer are bound to be fans of Red Seal.

Red Seal is available in roughly 40 of the 50 great States. If you have not sampled Red Seal I highly recommend you take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.

Red Seal has been awarded the Gold Medal at the World Championship of Beer in Chicago 7 times in the last 14 years. Yeah, beer snobs like it too.

Cheers.

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