Tag Archives: football

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.

Nation’s Bookies Reject NFL’s Appeal

THE POOL HALL–In a huge blow to commissioner Roger Goodell’s efforts to extend the NFL lockout, the league’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling has been rejected by a council of the nation’s bookies. In affirming the lower court’s decision, the bookies stated that “it’s in the best interest of everyone that we get this shit done, pronto.”

“Training don’t start, preseason don’t start,” said council member Joey Legs at a press conference convened inside Cue Shotz Pool Hall, next to the one working pay phone. “Preseason don’t start, can’t start makin’ odds. I don’t make odds, people don’t bet, I’m broke. Cuz whether I make money or I don’t, I still gotta kick upstairs. The Big Man don’t wanna hear about no lockout. Simple, right? Yeah, real simple, ya fuckwads.”

“We got the fuckin draft starting tonight,” said council member Frankie Beans, who emerged from bathroom mid press conference. “You know how many people woulda come to me with first round picks if it weren’t for this lockout shit. Madon’!”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell vowed he would appeal the bookies’ decision, but the council believed it was in the league’s best interest to drop any further legal challenges. “Why does this asshole think people watch football, cuz it’s fun?” said council member Danny. “They watch it cuz they all got paychecks ridin on it. What, this ginger asswipe don’t wanna make money.”

Nonetheless, Goddell promised he would go forward with more appeals of the federal court’s decision, and also said, “the ‘ginger asswipe’ remark was unnecessary. I ain’t been nothin but straight with Danny.”

With the NFL matter ruled on, the bookies’ council will now turn its attention to when the hell you plan on getting them their money.

Op-Ed: A NYC Super Bowl Is a Bad Idea, by A Giant Douchebag

Here to present his opinion on why a Super Bowl in New York is a bad thing is A Giant Douchebag.

sbdouche.gifI’m only gonna say this once, because time is money, capisce? Especially my time. I make more caysh in one afternoon than you do all year. I don’t know who you are, but if you’re 98 percent of the population, what I just said is true.

The Super Bowl should NOT be in a cold-weather city in an outdoor stadium in the middle of December, or whenever the hell the Super Bowl is. We have a Super Bowl so titans of marketing like yours truly can go schmooze and hob nob with other titans of marketing for a week. If you have it in a city like New York, I’ll be freezing for those 30 seconds when I’m getting out of my limo and climbing into the stadium shuttle bus.

Some people think snow and cold weather are great for football. Hey numbnuts, get your dicks outta your ears and listen: I could give two shits about football. Same goes for everyone else who goes to the Super Bowl. We’re here to party on the company dime and be seen. If everyone else in the industry gathered around a steaming pile of diarrhea, I’d go to that, too, and I wouldn’t have to pretend I like a buncha thyroid cases in spandex running around, either.

New York’s great, don’t get me wrong. Where else could I spend so much dough on so little? I know this place in Soho that sells $7000 fortune cookies. The same exact ones you can get from a take out place. I bought one, cuz I could and you can’t.

But how am I supposed to pull up to some hot club in my Maserati in New York winter weather? You know what road salt does to a Maserati? Of course you don’t, because you’ve never seen one. My Maserati’s even more special than all the other ones you’ve never seen, because mine has a special paint job. Oils mixed by Da Vinci. No shit. I have to get it recoated every time the temperature goes over 75 degrees. Costs me a fucking fortune, not that it matters to me.

Here’s the other bad thing about New York: the people who work here aren’t thrilled to see you. There’s too many big shots here already, so when an A-list mad man like myself shows up, no one gives a shit. Not like other Super Bowls I’ve been to. When I went to Jacksonville, I paid six guys to carry me around on their shoulders from club to club. In Detroit, I ordered foie gras at this one restaurant, ate it, and paid a waitress to let me regurgitate it back into her mouth, like a bird.

You can’t get away with that in New York. The waitresses there are all uppity. Even the strippers act like they got dignity!

Hold on, I gotta take this.


Gotta roll. Meeting a Murdoch for lunch. Can’t remember which one, doesn’t matter.

A Giant Douchebag demands to know if you know who he is.

“Classic” Scratchbomb: Brett Favre and the Aw Shucks Method of Getting to Yes

favre-vikings.jpgIn a complete non-shocker, Brett Favre has unretired.

The Worldwide Leader reacted the way it always reacts to any Favre news, which is to say, batshit insane. ESPN brought its viewers live aerial footage of Brett Favre driving to Vikings training camp. A local hospital was kind enough to let them use a Medivac chopper for this historic event.  

But ESPN didn’t just show Favre driving to camp. Oh no. They showed us Favre exiting his car. They showed us Favre hugging random people. They showed us Favre climbing stairs.

And when he was finally inside the Vikings facility, out of the reach of helicopters, ESPN brought us extended coverage of the bare stage where he would eventually conduct a press conference, in a room that looked like a high school utility shed.

It was like the most boring student film you ever saw. For a whole day, ESPN abandoned sports news and dedicated itself to Andy Warhol-esque film experiments. (“Next up: Colin Cowherd stars in our remake of Sleep!”)

But who are they airing all this garbage for? Packer fans feel betrayed. Vikings fans are unenthused (to say the least). And everyone else is sick to death of this manipulative goober. Even Peter King is a little pissed at getting jerked around by him, and King was Favre’s number one jock sniffer as recently as two weeks ago.

There’s no point in piling on Favre when the entire world (outside of Bristol, CT) hates him. I pretty much agree with Big Daddy Drew’s sentiment: this guy doesn’t love football (as all his admirers in the media have gushed over the years), he just loves being the guy on the football field that gets the glory. All the stuff you have to do to attain that glory (watch film, actually attend training camp) is for the other slobs, not superstars like him!

So no more Favre bashing from me–linebackers will be doing enough of that this year. But if you feel like guzzling some Haterade, enjoy this post from just around this time last year, when Favre royally dicked over the Packers for the first time. Original post here.

* * * *

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Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: A Fashion Plaxico-No

Today, Scratchbomb hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know him as the author of the highly popular syndicated column “Up The Middle.” You may also have read his best-selling book Numbers Don’t Lie Except When They Do . He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show Tiny Elf-Like Men Shrieking. Without further ado, here’s Skitch.

I want to thank The Scratchbomb for having me back. I’ve turned into a bit of a “pariah” around the office ever since I got back from Beijing. My newspaper didn’t appreciate some of the charges I ran up during the Olympics. I tried to explain to my boss that it wasn’t my fault, but he hasn’t trusted me since the Rental Car Incident of 2003.

(My loyal readers will remember that well, but for the rest of you, let’s just say that you should never try to force a cassette tape into a car stereo CD player, no matter how badly you want to hear “Sweet Baby James”. And remember: even if you’re trying to be helpful to the good people at Hertz, marinara sauce is no substitute for transmission fluid.)

Here’s what happened: One night in Beijing, I ate a crazy vegetable the locals call “egged-plant” and found myself in some gastric distress. A friendly cabbie brought me to the local pharmacy to get some Pepto Bismol, after I made myself understood with 15 minutes of an embarrassing set of hand gestures.

When we go to the pharmacy, the cabbie asked if he could borrow my corporate AmEx. He said he needed some medicine for his sick wife. I know it sounds crazy now, but I felt I owed the guy. Plus, I wasn’t really sure this place was a pharmacy at all. I’ve never seen a drug store that had crap tables and roulette wheels, and guys guarding the doors with

So imagine my surprise when I get back to the States and the only pharmaceutical purchases on the statement were 500 gross of Viagra! Plus 17 flatscreen TVs, and a bunch of charges to some Web site called LithuanianBrides.com. That sounds like a place where you could get something nice for your wife, so maybe the cabbie wasn’t totally lying.

Continue reading Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: A Fashion Plaxico-No

Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: A Date with Density

Today, Scratchbomb hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know him as the author of the highly popular column “Up The Middle.” You may also have read his best-selling books “What I Really Meant Was… ” and “The Top 100 Lists of Top 100 Sports Lists “. He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show Who’s the Loudest? Without further ado, here’s Skitch.

Last year’s Super Bowl pitted two black coaches against one another for the first time, and in so doing, completely eliminated all traces of racism from our country. This Sunday, we will witness another clash, one even more historic: a clash of destinies.

I asked a prominent scientist who asked to remain nameless, how do you determine which team’s destiny is greater? How do you measure the surface area of fate? What is the body mass index of karma and kismet?

He told me that all of these things are ephemeral concepts and therefore immeasurable. So I asked him, about the teams’ density ? That sounds like “destiny”. You can measure that, right?

Continue reading Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: A Date with Density

Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: A Trage-Lesson for Us All

Today, Scratchbomb hands over the reins to nationally syndicated sports columnist Skitch Hanson, as we’ve done many times before. You may know him as the author of the highly popular column “Up The Middle,” recipient of the 2006 Phil Mushnick Award for Neo-Luddite-Ism in Sports Writing. You may have read his best-selling books “My Way Is the High Way: How Every Single Game Should Be Played” and “Whoops! Seventeen Years of Retracted Statements”. He’s also a frequent guest on ESPN’s sportswriters panel show Who’s the Loudest? Without further ado, here’s Skitch.

Sean Taylor:
Who can we
blame his death
on (other than
the guy who
did it)?

When Sean Taylor was shot this weekend, it was a shot that was heard around the world. Except for those places in the world where they don’t care about football. So I guess it was primarily a shot heard around America and perhaps some parts of Canada.

Of course, the police are still investigating, and we still don’t know exactly why he was killed. But I think it’s safe to say Sean Taylor was involved with some combination of violence-gangs, drugs, or gun running. I would also not rule out the white slave trade.

Sean Taylor is another sad example of a young athlete being seduced by the world of violence, drugs, shooting, and violence (probably). His death was a tragedy, but it was also a wake-up call. Call it a Trage-Call. Or a Trage-Lesson. Or a Trage-Example.

Coming up with a new word would be easier if we all spoke German, but I think my point is clear.

Professional sports leagues can no longer continue to employ people who set such bad
examples for our children, no matter how well they can hit or run or shoot. Shoot basketballs, I mean. Shooting guns well would be bad. Now that I think about it, even a poorly aimed bullet can harm someone. So leagues should stop taking on players who shoot guns badly, too.

When you’re an athlete, children look up to you. When I was a boy, I wanted to be just like Pete Rose. So I wore my hair in a bowl cut and barreled into other kids just so I could be first in the lunch line. I was happy to be just like Charlie Hustle, and I didn’t care that this subjected me to daily wedgies and backseat school bus beatings.

Continue reading Up the Middle with Skitch Hanson: A Trage-Lesson for Us All

NFL Week 10 with Rush Limbaugh

Two words for last week’s picks: Ug-Lee. Week 9 had a lot of underdogs winning, and a lot of overdogs either choking or deciding to win their games by razor thin margins. Hey, Eli Manning–Plaxico’s not on the field; try throwing a pass that’s not 11 feet in the air. And see if you can beat the fucking Texans by more than four points. Asshole.

The tallies for week 9: win/loss 7-7; points, 5-9. That brings the season’s grand total to:

Win/Loss: 84-43
Points: 62-63

So for the first time this year, I’ve fallen below .500. I would blame my guest picker, but he had a hard enough week as it is. I tried to get now-ex-Senator George Allen to contribute, but he’s a tad bitter about pigskin right now; carrying a football around to every damn campaign stop did him no apparent good. So instead, I turn to ex-Monday Night Football commentator/right-wing radio yakker/acceptable drug addict Rush Limbaugh.

Buffalo at Indianapolis: I admire Peyton Manning’s commitment to excellence almost as much as I do his commitment to free enterprise. He’s set to break Tiki Barber’s all-time season record for commercial endorsements. If you remember that DirecTV ad where he tells the viewer to turn over to another, more interesting game, I think this contest will resemble that spot. Indianapolis by 8.

San Francisco at Detroit: A bet for the 49ers on the road is a bet for Nancy Pelosi and her San Francisco values! Detroit by 6.

San Diego at Cincinnati: With the Democrats back in power, expect to see a return to the revolving-door justice system of years past. For a preview of this grim new world, just look at the incarcer-rific Bengals, who’ve logged more trips to the pokey than offensive yards. The Chargers will be more than a match for this band of convicts, even without Shawne Merriman, a talented young man who got a bit too zealous in his self-medication regimen. Look, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? San Diego by 5.

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ESPN Countdown: The Debate Rages!

berman.jpgCHRIS BERMAN:
Boomer here, barking atcha for another slam-dangle, froo-farah,
mama-say-mama-sha-mama-kusah edition of NFL Countdown LIVE! Or whatever
the hell we’re calling it now. There’s a full slate of roast-’em
tenderize-’em down-ya-go action this Sunday, but rather than focusing
on all the exciting matchups, we figure our audience would rather watch
ex-players in suits scream at each other. The big battle this week is
happening in foxy Foxboro, Taxachusetts, where the Ponies gallop in to
take on the Patriot Act. Of course, my question has no real answer, and
one could make a case for either side depending on personal
preferences. So let’s debate it as if it’s a friggin’ North Korean
nuclear summit. Who is the better QB, Peyton “Place” Manning or Tom
“Three Times A” Brady?

I wanna tell ya Chris, [unintelligible] Colts [garbled] not T.O.’s
fault [possibly Sanskrit] “White House” [still garbled] so that wasn’t
my pipe, know what I’m sayin’?

You’re right, Boomer, there really is no answer here. Manning and Brady
are both excellent quarterbacks. Manning is a more gifted athlete, of
course, but Brady has the rings, so…

ditka.jpgMIKE DITKA:
Ron, allow me to interrupt you and completely dismiss you as a human
being. The NFL is about winning, unlike all other sports leagues. Brady
has won three Super Bowls, while Manning’s barely won any playoff games
at all. Until Peyton can capture as many championships as Brady, he’s a
worthless piece of shit who should thank whatever horse-headed pagan
god he believes in that I haven’t killed him yet.

So Coach “I Know What You” Ditka “Last Summer”, you’re saying that Tom
“A Very” Brady “Christmas” is vastly superior to Peyton Manning “The

By your logic, Jon Kitna is a much better quarterback than Peyton
Manning simply because he rode the Ravens’ defense to a Super Bowl ring.

The ring proves it. In this league, jewelry trumps natural ability.
Brady’s Pats could lose 85-0 to Manning and Colts, and Brady would
still be the better QB in every way.

Just so I’m clear, you just said,using your brain and your mouth, that
Brady could lose to Manning badly, like he did last year, but still be
better than him. [shakes his head violently]

I wanna tell you, you wanna talk about the championship bling, Brady’s
got it. [grumbling, throat clearing] interception [ancient incantation
that almost awakens a demon] mink coat [an car engine backfiring] It’s
snowin’ backstage, you feel me?

For the record, I think that Peyton “A” Manning “For All Seasons” is
better than Tom Brady “Brook Farms Turkey”, because saying so allowed
me to use two more wacky nicknames.

Of course you can make the argument that Tom Brady is one of the best
“field general” quarterbacks of our era. But the debate is less clear
cut when you consider…

No no no no, I will not waffle on this issue. You are dumb and wrong
and you used to play for the Eagles and you’re wrong. Peyton Manning
will never be better than a piece of dog shit stuck to the bottom of my
shoe–unless and until he wins the next seven Super Bowls on one
last-second Hail Mary pass that also somehow rescues a little girl from
a burning building.

They gonna be some Patriot Games up in Foxboro, you feel me?
[irrecoverable error, some data may be lost] Cleveland steamer [static
between radio stations] y’all remember that group EPMD?

jaws.jpgJAWORSKI: Jesus fucking Christ, are all of you people retarded?

tjackson.jpgTOM JACKSON : I’m not, Jaws. I just wanted to come on the air and say that Tiki Barber is dead to me. You hear that, Unibrow?

Okay, when we come back, another useless, unresolveable debate: Is this
the week that we finally make a passer out of Michael Vick “Of It All”?

irvin.jpgIRVIN: Ron Mexico!

The point of being a quarterback isn’t to pass–it’s to win ballgames
for his team, and Michael Vick always does that, except when he
doesn’t. Even when the Falcons lose, he helps his team win.

jaws.jpgJAWORSKI: [swallows arsenic tabet]

NFL Week 9 Picks by Karl Rove

rove.jpgI finished up my year of NFL picks at MSN Sports Filter on a decidedly sour note. Two bad weeks in a row; my week 8 tallies were 7-7 win/loss, 6-8 points. That showing brought my tally on the season to:

Win/Loss: 77-36
Points: 57-56

Obviously, I need some high-powered help. So this week, Scratchbomb.com is pleased to welcome a guest handicapper for our NFL picks. You may remember him from such unbridled successes as “the Valerie Plame scandal”, “the Mark Foley cover up” and “you forgot Poland”. Here’s Republican strategist/pork vacuum Karl “Turdblossom” Rove.

Atlanta at Detroit: A good solid red state versus a city full of, um, traditional Democrat voters. Try and guess who I’m picking! I don’t know if Michael Vick will continue his chuck-tastic ways, but it won’t matter much against the toothless Lions. I know Vick’s a lefty, but I forgive him. Atlanta by 8.

Continue reading NFL Week 9 Picks by Karl Rove