Category Archives: Media Morons

Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: The Terrible Waste of Aaron Hernandez

Scratchbomb hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know Skitch as the author of the highly popular syndicated column “Up The Middle.” You may have read his best-selling books Roar No More: Tiger Woods’ Epic Fall From Grace and Roar Once More: Tiger Woods’ Epic Return to the Top. He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show Mouth-Talkers! 

Aaron_HernandezAs a sportswriter, I find myself shaking my head quite often. I’m pretty good at it, if I do say myself. In fact, I teach an intensive course at the community college on the practice, with some extra pointers on finger wagging and one-sentence paragraphs.

But even an experienced head shaker such as myself could scarcely figure out how best to shake my head at the news that former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez had been arrested for murder. Should I go for the stern paternal head shake? Or the sympathetic but disappointed head shake? This was a conundrum that I wouldn’t wish on any of my fellow sportswriters, one that no class could truly prepare you for. Although I will speak to the dean about adding such a class to next semester’s docket, assuming he’s not still mad at me for destroying three rows of bleachers in the gym. (Long story short: I accidentally spilled an entire thermos of my special blend of Diet Mr. Pibb and puréed Suzy Q’s, which apparently does a real number on lacquer.)

In the end, I determined that Hernandez deserved some completely new sort of head shake, one that has yet to be invented. (Note to self: Attempt to invent it, then feel out dean for third class?) Because what he did goes beyond inexcusable. Aaron Hernandez destroyed something that no person has the right to take away from from anyone: an NFL season.

Each of us is given a fragile, wonderful gift in this world, and that is 17 weeks of regular season football, plus three more of playoffs and two glorious weeks for the Super Bowl. No matter what “beef” Aaron Hernandez had with this other person whose name escapes me, he can not take it upon himself to play god and say “I will determine whether the Patriots’ season lives or dies.”

Now, New England is bereft of a tight end. Two, maybe, if Rob Gronkowski can’t be ready for the start of the season. Even if Belichick pulls things together and crafts a winning season out of this wreckage, he and his staff will have to answer constant questions about murder and other things that have nothing to do with football. If Hernandez had taken a moment to consider this, he might have thought twice about killing a man in cold blood.

It’s not up to mere mortals like Aaron Hernandez to take away something so precious as a tight end from the NFL. Determinations like these must come from something more ethereal and unknowable, something beyond ourselves. Call it God, or fate, appearing the form of a 350-pound linebacker out of his mind on painkillers.

We’ve all been in situations like these, where we were so filled with rage we contemplated doing something rash. I remember when I heard Twinkies were discontinued, the thought of a world without Twinkies filled me with such a burning nihilism that I hurled a brick through one of the front windows of my local Publix. But as my lawyer explained to me, sometimes things have a way of working out for the best, even if we can’t see how this could be possible at the time.

As it turned out, my lawyer was right! Now Twinkies are back and only several thousand people lost their jobs. My lawyer also advised me that Publix had nothing to do with Hostess’s bankruptcy, and I would probably be better off not driving around with loose bricks in my car. (I would if I could, but I need that ballast to deal with the wonky rear differential in my Kia.)

So to Aaron Hernandez, I can say I’ve been there. I too took the law into my own hands, and as a result I almost deprived the world of my column and my weekly guest spots on Dish Nation. I was able to keep my freedom thanks to many hours of community service and a carefully crafted apology letter. In the end, I learned that it’s not up to us to make our own justice, whether that involves hurling bricks through plate glass windows or an execution-style shooting in an open field.

It’s possible that Hernandez may have to endure harsher punishment than I did. But in truth, his crime is the kind that punishes us all, because it deprives each and every one of us of seeing an NFL team perform at its best. And it reminds us of the true fragility of a football season, of how easily it can be taken away from us. I hope everyone one of you hugs your pocket schedule a little tighter tonight. I know I will.

Some may say a transgression like this can never be forgiven. They are entitled to that opinion. I’m not quite willing to go that far, but I will say that forgiveness can only follow a true act of penance, like beating the rap on a technicality and coming back to the NFL to perform at peak levels again. This crime can not be redeemed by the halfway contrition of a man like Michael Vick, who returned to the game but has only occasionally played well since coming back.

This season is beyond saving, but perhaps his example will prevent other players from making the same, tragic waste in the future, and remind them that every season is equally precious.

How to Wind Up in Twitter Jail, Starring @TimesPublicEdit

I am @TimesPublicEdit.

I didn’t work all that hard to keep this quiet, but I never formally announced it, mostly because I didn’t think anyone was waiting with baited breath trying to puzzle out the secret. The reason I’m “revealing” this now is because, well, it’s already revealed via a post by Kat Stoeffel at the New York Observer today. That post was written because of the odd events of the last week involving the account, which began with a tweet last Monday.

This tweet was RT’ed and faved to an extent far beyond my wildest imaginings. It was also assumed to be the work of the actual New York Times‘ public editor by some news outlets that failed to perform a few extra seconds of due diligence. A formal complaint against the account (from whom, I don’t know) led to a suspension for being an “imposter” account.

After a week on the shelf, the account is back in action. I’m pretty fortunate in this regard; suspended accounts tend to stay that way indefinitely, or so Google tells me. However, I thought recounting what happened to @TimesPublicEdit might serve as a cautionary tale to other Twitter parodists, or just anybody who wants to build any kind of body of work on Twitter. Because you have to remember that anything you do there can be wiped out without warning, and that this is the risk you take when you scribble on someone else’s real estate.

Continue reading How to Wind Up in Twitter Jail, Starring @TimesPublicEdit

One Shining Moment With Mike Francesa and Marie

I grew up listening to WFAN. Since that was (and continues to be) the Mets’ flagship station, my mom had pretty much every radio in the house tuned to it. Mike and the Mad Dog could be heard in my house post-school on any given weekday, with that duo just beginning to rail against their Target of the Day as we got off the bus.

Mike and the Mad Dog basically invented sports talk radio as we know it; i.e., two loud guys screaming at callers and each other for several hours. Growing up in a non-cable household, and thus cut off from ESPN and most televised games (particularly baseball), this was my family’s only pipeline to the world of sports and the discussion thereof in the heady First Bush/Early Clinton years, a time of tumultuous change.

With the advent of the internet, however, it seems like sports radio is an idea whose time has passed. When you can comment on a story on almost any major news site, or even start a sports-related blog of your own, waiting on hold for an hour to possibly talk to some imperious host for 8 seconds has a lot less appeal than it once did.

It has even less appeal when it comes to Mike Francesa. I don’t know if he became unlistenable after his break-up with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, or if he simply suffers from comparison to the modern internet-powered array of alternatives. In either case, I’ve come to find his brand of pomposity and shit-stirring intolerable. It doesn’t help that he is a first-degree troll when it comes to the Mets, an expert at tapping into the Self-Loathing Troglodyte segment of the team’s fanbase. I certainly don’t look at the team through rose-colored glasses, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear its every move sneered at by default, either.

I once listened to Francesa every day, whether I liked what he had to say or not, because, well, that’s what you did, right? These days, I feel no need to tune into something that pushes my buttons so much, especially when there’s so many other places I can go to that fulfill the same function as his show and then some.

On the rare occasions when I have listened in the last few years, the show seems to skew painfully old. I hear a large proportion of callers who are firmly in the Early Bird Special set, asking Francesa questions they could easily have answered via Google. (“Hey Mikey, what time does that Knicks game start tonight?”) More and more, his audience sounds like it’s made up exclusively of people who the Internet Age has left by the wayside. It’s fine and good that this crowd still has a place to commune, but it sounds like something that will age itself out of existence, and soon.

However, this demographic means you get glorious moments such as this one, which I heard in the car on my way to pick up my daughter from school yesterday. In it, Marie from Long Branch takes a hilariously long time to figure out that you can’t listen to a radio show and talk on the phone at the same time. Then, she repeats everything Francesa says for the benefit of her husband Louie before cutting to the chase: she wants in on a promotion the station is doing with McDonalds. Francesa grants her wish and finds out exactly what she likes to get in excruciating detail. Quarter pounder…fries…iced tea….entire geological age passes…

Then Francesa asks about her favorite teams and promises to send her something during the baseball season. At this point, three-plus minutes into the phone call, we discover that Marie thought she was talking to a WFAN underling, not Francesa, the whole time.

Later, we learn a bit about Marie and Louie’s met-cute backstory, and even hear from Louie himself, all of which is actually kind of endearing. (I’m a softy; sue me.) Still, the first three minutes of this call are some of most unintentionally hilarious radio I’ve heard in years. It made me laugh so hard, I literally punched my steering wheel (because laughter makes me angry).

Whatever else you want to say about Francesa, this is something you could not hear anywhere else. Take that however you will.

For a better audio clip of the tail end of this call, click here. Thanks to @CoreyNYC and @WFANAudio for sending the audio and video my way.

Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: Shoebox Greetings for the Hall of Fame

Scratchbomb hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know Skitch as the author of the highly popular syndicated column “Up The Middle.” You may have read his best-selling book Why Eckstein Matters. He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show Mouth-Talkers! You can follow Skitch on Twitter here. Without further ado, here’s Skitch.

I apologize that my Hall of Fame column came later than usual this year. I actually handed in my ballot at the last minute. I was searching all over the house for it, then my wife told me she lost it. And while she told me she lost it, she lit the ballot on fire right in front of me. I told her tampering with a Hall of Fame ballot was a federal offense. She said it wasn’t at all and that she was leaving for Ibiza for two weeks with her special friend Marco.

Luckily, I was able to send my choices in by teletype. It’s good to know that the BBWAA still uses the latest technology. Do you know it took me forever to find a teletype machine in my newspaper’s office? And when I did, it was covered in dust, banana stickers, and somebody growing a potato in a jar. When I started in this business, we used teletype to send info back to the newsdesk, and as far as I’m concerned, no machinery has improved on it since. You can keep your Blackberrys and iPans and whatnot. Also, my editor won’t let me get one because the last time I was issued a company cell phone, I gummed up the keys with Mallomar residue.

When Jack Morris failed to get into the Hall of Fame yet again, I poured out a bottle of Yoo-Hoo in his memory. In truth, I knocked over a bottle of Yoo-Hoo onto the hood of my editor’s car, but I retroactively dedicated it to his memory. That and the sizable repaint bill, which is coming out of my paycheck. I had no idea Yoo-Hoo was so caustic.

It’s too bad that we’re letting so many people vote for the Hall of Fame that didn’t watch some of the eligible candidates play. If you look at Morris’s pure numbers, of course he doesn’t belong within a mile of Cooperstown. In order to understand his greatness, you had to have seen him in action, and then remembered that action many, many years later, when most of the finer details are rather hazy in your memory and mixed up with other things you’ve seen on TV. I, for one, will never forget that time I saw Morris pitch a 15-inning complete game and knock in the winning run to save an inner city rec center, aided only by his grit and determination and most of the Harlem Globetrotters.

I truly believe that you can only judge a player if you’ve actually seen him on the field, preferably from a press box view, while ingesting a Skitch Special. That’s when you anchor two hot dogs and a hamburger together with a shish kebab skewer, then drop it into a deep fryer. Some stadiums were better than others in making it for me. The guys at Wrigley were the best; they’d always have two Skitch Specials waiting for me when I showed up at game time, along with a fully charged defibrillator.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite players was Jimmy “Shoebox” O’Leary, backup utility man for the Senators. No one really knows how he got that nickname; some say it’s because he was born in a shoebox, others say it’s because he lived in one. I can’t tell you now why he was my favorite player back then. His batting average always hovered around the Mendoza Line, he couldn’t field worth a lick, and he got a nosebleed every time he ascended the dugout steps.

Still, I thought he was the greatest player in the world when I was six, and to honor that memory, I vote for his induction into Cooperstown every year. My fellow writers keep telling me I’m insane, that he’s not on the ballot, and that they’re going to drum me out if I don’t stop doing this and also bringing my homemade scrapple to the meetings.

If I’m disappointed that Morris failed to get in, that’s how pleased I am that Jeff Bagwell was also denied. As I’ve discussed before, there’s no hard evidence Bagwell ever did steroids, or soft evidence, or even some sort of evidence-mist. However, he did play at a time when many other people may or may not have done steroids at some point or another, and the fact that he didn’t speak up about it is a mark against his character. If someone was around that much cheating at that time and said nothing, they’re just as guilty as those who committed the act. If there’s anything I’m sure of after spending most of the last 30 years in locker rooms, it’s this.

I’m not looking forward to next year’s ballots, full of proven cheaters like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, cheaters by association like Mike Piazza…now that I think about it, it will be easier to vote than ever before. I’ll just draw a huge frowny face on my ballot, check off Morris, write in Shoebox, and be done with it. More time for homemade scrapplin’.

* * *

And now it’s time for Some Things I Think About Things I Think!

  • Tim Tebow has brought joy back to the NFL. Anyone who says something bad about him should be caged.
  • In this strike-shortened season, the play in the NBA has really fallen off, based on what I assume from not having watched a single game so far.
  • Love him or hate him, Shia LeBoeuf is here to stay, folks.
  • I’ve started an online petition to keep egg nog lattes at Starbucks all year round. I have 12 signatures, each from someone named Mike Rotch.
  • Alex Ovechkin is going to have to do a lot more to get my attention. Like play a sport other than hockey.
  • I don’t care for that “Partying Rock” song by L.S.M.F.T. Give me the Little River Band any day of the week.
  • Albert Pujols’ decision to leave St. Louis for the glamor of Hollywood is truly selfish, as it means I will probably have to drive from LAX to Anaheim several times this upcoming season.
  • Insider’s tip: Take a bag of microwave popcorn, poke a tiny hole, pour M&Ms inside, and seal it up before you pop. The result is a delightfully gooey mess and it tastes a bit like metal.
  • Have you guys heard about radishes? Crazy!
  • Stayed up late last night to watch a few old episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati. I really think that show holds up, and the roaring laugh track really helped mask the sounds of Marco and my wife upstairs.
  • Treat yourself to some fried spaghetti this week. You’ll thank me.

Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: NFL, I Can’t Stay Mad at You

Today, Scratchbomb once again hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know Skitch as the author of the highly popular syndicated column “Up The Middle.” You may have read his best-selling book If You Can’t Fix It, Don’t Break It, and Other Homespun Aphorisms I Heard My Mechanic Say. He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show Opinions! You can follow Skitch on Twitter here. Without further ado, here’s Skitch.

When you say “summer,” some people think of sandy beaches, crashing waves, little drinks with umbrellas in them. But for me, when I hear someone say “summer,” first I wonder why they are just saying one decontextualized word; it seems odd, if you ask me. But then I think of the glory of NFL training camp. 350 pound defensive tackles running around in tiny shorts, glistening with sweat. Coaches screaming expletives through the blazing heat, while also wearing tiny shorts. Fans standing around and squinting. If you can think of a better way to spend a 97 degree August afternoon, I’d like to to hear it!

So when the NFL lockout dragged through June and July, I feared this summer would be a complete loss. I wasn’t having a great summer to begin with. First, my editor wanted a feature on the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates, but I haven’t been welcome in that locker room since that time I accidentally broke Andy Van Slyke’s kneecap with a fungo bat. (Long story short: I thought a saw a moth land on him.) Then, we had a bit of an ant problem at the Hanson household, which all started when my special fridge in the basement conked out, thus inviting the critters inside to feast on all the melted stores of frozen brownie batter I saved over the winter. All of this came on the heels of those trying two weeks when my wife locked herself in the bathroom with 12 boxes of Franzia and ordered one amulet after another from QVC.

No matter. All that’s in the past now (although my wife still is holed up in the washroom). The NFL is like that girlfriend who treats you badly, but you’ll always take her back when she bats her eyes and says she’s sorry, because…well, we all know why, right, fellas? That’s right, because she makes a killer pot roast. Of course, in this case, “killer pot roast” stands for “exciting grid iron action,” served up with a side of “Hail Mary passes” and a bowl of “thrilling playoff matchups” for desert.

Even though I’ve been covering the NFL labor situation since day 1, this sudden lockout resolution really took me by surprise. Granted, for the last month I’ve been covering it from a Day’s Inn out in Lawrence, Kansas. My editor said I should cover the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the players’ union from here. I tried to explain that none of the talks were happening anywhere near here, but he said it was the best place for me. So I can’t say I’ve had a bird’s eye view of the process, but I did get to see the historical site where William S. Burroughs first tried heroin.

Though I accept the NFL’s return with open arms, I still have to give a wag of my finger to those greedy players. If they had accepted the owners’ terms months ago, we would have never gone through this ordeal, and I wouldn’t have had to pitch potential articles to curling magazines as a fall-back plan. (I’ve read more about brooms than one man ever should.) This is not France or China or some other country where we go on strike every time the government takes away your fifth coffee break, fellas. This is America, where you do whatever your boss tells you to do, because the thought of losing your job and your health insurance fills you with a primal, bone-shaking terror.

Do you think I wanted to cover that bungee jumping competition in Death Valley? Or that cow-pie chucking contest in Bismarck? Of course not. I didn’t like doing these things any more than I liked walking into my office and finding the boss urinating on my treasured autographed picture of Angela Lansbury. But the boss makes the rules, and we all have to abide by them with gritted teeth, even when those rules are expanded to allow him to pee on your most beloved possessions.

Who am I kidding? I can’t stay mad at the players! I can’t stay mad at anyone right now! Not even my wife, though I found an empty bottle of Grey Goose and several open condom wrappers in her car. For the NFL is back and all is right with this part of my world!

* * *

I’ve received many letters and emails in the last year or so, asking why I stopped doing my “some things I think about things I think” feature in my column. To be honest, at some point I just plum forgot! When you write so many columns and drink as many diet sodas as I do, the mind just doesn’t retain information as well as it used to.

But since at least 12 of you have asked for it, here is the return of Some Things I Think About Things I Think!

  • Brett Favre: You’ve done this act countless times over the past few seasons, and I think I speak for everyone when I say, Keep it up! Can’t wait to see you in Philly or Indy or whichever team will have you next!
  • A note to the girls in Bridesmaids: You don’t have to work “blue” to be funny. Just ask Vicki Lawrence. 
  • Broccoli rabe: Sorry, don’t get it.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera is having an amazing season, but there’s something about that name I still don’t trust.
  • Call me crazy, but that Ashton Kutcher is gonna be a star.
  • Heard some Montgomery Gentry from a gas station PA system, and I have to say I was impressed.
  • Who has been better than Jamey Carroll this season? I would say several players have been.
  • Do they still make nail clippers?
  • What is going on with Congress these days? Could somebody tell me? I don’t watch the news too often.
  • Of all the high priced free agents who never won a World Series, Carlos Beltran never won one the most.
  • Finally saw that show Breaking Bad. I think it’s a little too intense for a program about a chemistry lab.
  • My wife just kissed some muscular, dark-haired stranger and left the house with him, arm in arm, as if I wasn’t even here. Must be Tuesday.
  • I often wonder what Christopher Cross is up to.

The All Star Power Outage, Live on ESPN

Hello there, sports fans! Chris Berman here, aka Boomer, aka The Big Dog, aka Leatherman, aka The Back-Back-Back Guy, aka Sheila under the right circumstances. It’s certainly a thrill for all of you to view me again in my annual sojourn into America’s pasttime, The Home Run Derby. Unfortunately, a rash of injuries has caused many of the game’s biggest stars to bow out of this year’s All Star Game. Jose Reyes has a hamstring issue, Alex Rodriguez is getting knee surgery, Shane Victorino sprained his douche-bone, and Derek Jeter came down with a case of I-Dont-Wanna-Go-to-Arizona-in-July-itis. But this is still technically the Midsummer Classic, and it should still be a barburner, ain’t that right, Krukie?


Great, so the diet’s working! As I mentioned, a good number of stars have bowed out, but we still want to honor those team players who decided to show up. That’s why we’ve organized this new event called the Scramblethon. The game’s grittiest, most pint sized players will compete against each other in a series of thrilling skills competitions. First, we’ll see who can beat out the most Baltimore chops and swinging bunts. Players will be penalized for any ball hit out of the infield. Then, we’ll see which players can make a throw from shortstop to first without bouncing it. And finally, each uniform will receive a special black-light scan to determine which one has the most accumulated caked-in dirt. The winner will receive the coveted Bronze Lunchpail and a $50 gift certificate to Lowe’s.


Special event captains David Eckstein and Joe McEwing have picked out a stellar lineup of tiny, tiny players for this event: Sam Fuld, Matt Young, Augie Ojeda, Aaron Miles, Jamey Carroll…the list goes on, but frankly, I see no point in continuing to read it. Dustin Pedroia lobbied to be included, but was disqualified for having hit more than 5 home runs in his career.


Now the players are being carted out onto the field and unpackaged. Remember, most of these guys are made of extremely delicate material and must be stored on dry ice in between games.


The first up is Sam Fuld, who’s originally from Durham, New Hampshire but makes his winter home in a fur storage facility in Boca Raton. And here’s his first try, it’s a beautiful check-swing, and that one’s going backbackbackback, all the way past the pitcher’s mound, they’ll never throw him out! Oh, wait, he’s wheezing just shy of the first base bag. My best guess is he may have collapsed a lung; they are made of papier maché, after all.


Well, this is certainly a bleak turn of events, and I for one am at a loss to think of a quote from a dinosaur rock song to properly mark this occasion, so it looks like it’s time for an injury timeout. When we come back, we’ll have the Clap-Off. Participants stand on the top step of the dugout and cheer vociferously while a more talented teammate bats! We’ll be right backbackbackbackbackback…oh please Lord, take me now.

No Brain, No Pain: Chili Pepper Division

This weekend, my brother reminded me of this gem from a college football game broadcast on ESPN in 2007. I remember watching this live and nearly choking to death from laughter. Fun!

In this clip, sideline reporter Rob Stone visits the Chili Pepper Institute at New Mexico State. While there, he tries to act all tough in the face of some the most tongue searing substances in the world. The head of the institute hands him a tiny pepper, which Stone does not treat with the proper respect.

PROFESSOR: This is the Bhut Jolokia, the world’s hottest chili pepper.

STONE: [crunch]

PROFESSOR: A million Scoville units.

STONE: What is that?

The timing and cluelessness displayed here is amazing. This man knows he’s at the Chili Pepper Institute. He is well aware that chili peppers are hot. And yet, he immediately chows down on something without any idea how spicy it might be. Better yet, when told exactly how spicy it is, he continues to act with misplaced bravado and ignorance. “What is that?

Shortly after taking a huge bite of THE HOTTEST THING IN THE WORLD, Stone starts to experience some serious distress. The professor hands him some milk, but it does him no good. “I’m not even feeling it,” he says, as his brow rapidly moistens with sweat. The professor doesn’t help Stone’s state when he informs him that the effects may last five to six hours.

Watching this video again for the first time in years, I suspect this whole scene may be somewhat staged. However, I also suspect that Stone was told by his producers to take a big bite out of the hottest pepper known to man without any clear idea of just how hot it would be. In either case, it led to pure televisual hilarity.

Skitch Speaks

Last week, on his way to Dallas for the Super Bowl, Skitch Hanson seemed to have landed himself in some kind of sticky situation. I didn’t hear from all weekend and I started to worry. Worry sick, I tell you.

Slowly, we are getting some dispatches from Skitch, who seems way over his head, as you can see below (read from the bottom up, dummy). If you want to keep on top of his thrilling adventures, tune into his twitter feed, @skitchhanson.


Skitch Hanson’s Big Adventure

I was hoping to get Skitch Hanson to write a post on the Super Bowl, like he’s done for this site for several years running. Unfortunately, it seems like Skitch has taken the proverbial wrong turn at Albuquerque on his way to The Big Game. According to his Twitter feed in the last 24 hours or so, he’s gotten way off course, as you can see below.

I sure hope he gets out of this pickle okay! But if you want to see if he does, you should probably catch Skitch on Twitter here.


Skitch Hanson: Vick of it All

Scratchbomb hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know Skitch as the author of the highly popular syndicated column “Up The Middle.” You may have read his best-selling book Mr. November: How Derek Jeter’s Home Run in the 2001 World Series Healed a City I Don’t Particularly Care For. He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show Opinions! You can follow Skitch on Twitter here. Without further ado, here’s Skitch.

vick.jpgLike many football fans, I couldn’t help but be amazed by Michael Vick this season. I thrilled as he wrested the starting quarterback job from Kevin Kolb. Marveled as he regained the form that once made him the game’s most dynamic player. Was floored when he engineered an improbable comeback against the Giants. I had hope that Vick could put his sordid past behind him.

Unfortunately, his collapse in the playoff game against the Packers shows that he still has a long way to go in order to redeem himself for what he’s done.

In the regular season, Vick was an explosive power, a one-man dynamo, one for which few teams were prepared. His arm seemed to finally catch up with his legs, and his mobility threw opposing defenses for a loop all year long. He singlehandedly guided Philadelphia past the Giants into first place in the NFC East and a home playoff game.

But then he squandered that opportunity with a less-than-stellar performance against Green Bay. The numbers speak for themselves–three sacks, only eight rushing attempts, and a defeat-sealing interception in the game’s final moments. Such a lackluster outing dashes all hopes that he was fully rehabilitated for his heinous crimes.

When training camp opens next summer, Vick will find himself back at square one. He will still have to prove that he is the kind of field general who’s capable of carrying his team deep into the playoffs, and is therefore a changed man. Otherwise, he’ll just be the prototypical flashy QB who is all style and no substance, which would also mean he still needs to atone for his misdeeds.

If Vick wants a role model, he need look no further than another player with a checkered past who played on Sunday: Ray Lewis. Eleven years ago, Lewis was involved in a fight that resulted in a man being stabbed to death, and the linebacker found himself indicted for murder. Some thought Lewis would never be able to make up for his role in such a deadly encounter, but he showed them wrong by remaining a defensive force to be reckoned for the next decade.

On Sunday, Lewis captained the Baltimore defense and stifled Matt Cassell all day, resulting in a dominant 30-7 Ravens win. One can only hope that Vick someday learns how to show such remorse.