Championship Weekend: A Tale of Two Field Goals

Does God Love the Patriots?

David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images Chauncey Billups

Chauncey Billups’ Cojones, Holiday Movies, and Idiots Who Touch the Stanley Cup

Answers to all your questions in this week's Bake Shop

Now that the Knicks signed Tyson Chandler and effectively took themselves out of the Chris Paul sweepstakes, how excited are you for Knicks hype that is actually about the current season and not the next offseason? Or am I underestimating the News and Post’s back page rumormongering abilities?

— Michael L.

I’m … really excited … I … think? Honestly, I’m still completely unclear as to who exactly is even on the Knicks/in the NBA/stuck in China/underloved/overpaid/under David Stern’s thumb/overweight. This past week has been OUT OF CONTROL. Christmas Day is going to feature soooo much atrocious basketball. I can’t wait. Anyway, my three favorite Knicks-related storylines have been:

  • Jorts. I forgot all about Jorts!!!!!!
  • The fact that Tyson Chandler, as promised, is “hanging next week” with Ari Marcopoulos, who created a fan zine about him (Chandler described his understanding of a zine as “the mixtape of magazines”) well before it was even known that the player would be headed to New York. Wish: granted!
  • Each and every single word that has come out of the Chauncey Billups camp since last Thursday. In particular: “He has no intention of being open-minded about any possible situation.” My new love/workplace/life motto. I like how he’s acting like the most mistreated man in the league, after getting a cushy double-digit contract extension for launching up ridiculous 3 after ridiculous 3 for a team that acquired him at the trade deadline and owed the man nothing. I’m not even mad. That’s amazing.

Why is there no love for Jimmy Howard? I never hear about him outside of Detroit & Red Wings media. The guy is having an amazing year statistically and has top ten worthy saves every night. However he’s no where to be found on the All Star ballot. I think he’s the best American goalie in the league this year.

— Nick K.

Jimmy Howard has more wins than any other NHL goalie with 18, has the second-best goals against average in the league at 1.82, and has amassed three shutouts this season. The Detroit Red Wings are 19-9-1, just one point out of second place in the Western Conference. So why wasn’t he on the All-Star ballot? Well, for one thing, the All-Star ballot is kind of a farce; though it is released more than a month into the season, it barely acknowledges what has occurred up until then. (Case in point: The New York Rangers’ representation included defenseman Marc Staal, who has played zero games this year as he recovers from a concussion.)

That Howard wasn’t one of the 18 goalies on the ballot still looks, in hindsight, insane — but he was clearly hurt by his middling performance in 2010-11, in which he posted an ugly .908 save percentage and a GAA of 2.79. Red Wings goaltenders are traditionally discounted, fairly or not, for playing behind such consistently good squads. Take Chris Osgood: His retirement this summer sparked heated discussion in hockey circles over whether his 401 career wins (10th all time) and three Stanley Cups (two as starting goaltender) ought to qualify him for the Hall of Fame — or whether he was just held aloft by his outstanding teams.

Howard currently has more All-Star write-in votes than any other NHL player (the Bruins’ Tyler Seguin has the second-most) and stands eighth in total votes among goaltenders. Because only the top vote-getting goalie is guaranteed a spot on the roster (the others are picked by the league), there’s still a good chance Howard could make the cut. As you said, Detroit-area media is shouting particularly loud about their local goalie: radio station WRIF in particular, which has “taken to the streets” in a “Vote for Howard” tour bus for the cause.

How long do you have to be dating someone for until you are required to buy them a Christmas gift? I only ask because I have been casually dating a girl for a few weeks and as the holiday season is approaching I don’t know if she qualifies for a gift yet.

— John G.

It’s late fall, the nights are growing longer, the air is feeling crisper, and you just want someone with whom to stumble home from Rivalry Week tailgates. (Perhaps you first made out on Halloween; that literally and figuratively half-assed Risky Business costume turned out to be a hit.) Things are going well — you get a nice Thanksgiving out-of-sight-out-of-mind break from each other before the antlers-and-sweaters parties begin in earnest. Then suddenly you realize with a start: Wait, are we a thing?

You’re not alone. Check out this chart of “Peak Break-Up Times on Facebook,” which is at once amusing (the Monday spikes), unfunny (the April Fool’s Day pranksters, yuk yuk yuk), ALL TOO REAL (memories of the “Spring Break spring clean” just made me run crying from the room like the salesgirl in Mallrats), and just about right (the huge spike two weeks before the holidays, as everyone does some cost-benefit accounting).

My advice: If it’s been only a few weeks, either (a) abide by commonly accepted Secret Santa-style rules, by which I mean inexpensive but thoughtful (this two-part “Gifting Guide for Humans” contains some fun ideas, and so — if browsed correctly — does this website); (b) go out on a nicer-than-usual “holiday” date, whether it be dinner, drinks, dessert, or whatever; it lacks the pressures of reciprocity; or (c) just tie a bow around a bottle of alcohol (Maker’s Mark or prosecco are both pretty safe bets) and call it a day. Seriously: If a budding relationship wilts because of a gift-giving disconnect, you can do so much better. And if things go smoothly? Well, then you’ve got the much fancier, flashier, and higher-stakes Valentine’s Day to contend with in just two short months. Godspeed.

Why are men made to look like complete idiots in commercials these days?

— Eli R.

You’re supposed to disguise your whole name, Eli, not just the last initial. SO adorable.

I was explaining the NHL points system to my friend and he asked why an overtime win is worth the same as a regulation win but an overtime loss is worth more than a regulation loss. We thought about it and came up with: a regulation win should be 3 points, an overtime/shootout win should be 2 and an overtime/shootout loss should be 1. This way every game is worth 3 points and points aren’t magically added when games go into overtime. It also makes logical sense that if a team is rewarded for being tied at the end of regulation, they should be rewarded even more if they win in regulation than in extra time. What are your thoughts?

— Eliott G.

I completely agree. A 3-2-1-0 format would be simple to implement and easy to explain. Teams would get the same credit they get now for lasting 60 minutes without losing AND for winning in OT or a shootout — and they’d get extra credit, compared to the current system, for dispatching their opponent in regulation. It would help mitigate the annoying tendency of teams playing the last five or so minutes of a tie game “not to lose” just so they can be assured of that one point. (Here the risk of going all-out to try to win would be worth a little bit more.) The biggest downside is that fans would have to get used to seeing much higher point totals in the standings than they’re used to, and I think, given the fact that the standings are about to look a whole lot different regardless, the fans would be able to deal.

(PS: Re: the shootout, I think my favorite middle-ground suggestion between “She’s a witch!” and “But my mommmm liiiikeess itttt” came from Yahoo!’s Greg Wyshynski when he was a guest on the B.S. Report, and suggested instead of a 1-on-0 breakaway they should at least make the shootout mimic a 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 game-like situation. It’ll never happen, but imagine the highlight reels if it did?)

Friends and I were recently debating the best holiday movies and thought about the sheer volume of good ones out there (Home Alone, Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life…) So it got me thinking, where are all the bad ones? A quick Google search landed me here. Personally, I feel robbed I never heard of half of these (Santa with Muscles??) and a little scorned that Jingle All the Way made the list. Thoughts on the best/worst?

— Garett D.

Keeping in mind that I know nothing about “film,” I haven’t seen most movies that exist in the world, and I’m using a loose definition of holiday movies, here are some of my most favorite and most hated, in no particular order:

HO HO HO: The Ref, The Family Man; Scrooged; Elf; Home Alone; National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; Prancer

NO NO NO: The Polar Express; The Family Stone; Jack Frost; Christmas With the Kranks; Deck the Halls


MOVIE EVERYONE HATES THAT I LOVE: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the Jim Carrey version)

My boyfriend and I got engaged in the stands at Game Seven of the World Series, five years and a day after our first date watching the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006 at a bar next to Busch Stadium. We had all but decided to name our firstborn Albert David before the devastating Angels signing. Do I have to name all my children after Cardinals? Is David enough of an homage or do I have to go all out with Skip or Lance? How soon is too soon to name a child after an athlete? Is it just too problematic if the player is still alive, because of the potential for Roger Clemens/Johnny Damon/Mark Bellhorn-style Yankees signings, Jose Canseco/Lenny Dykstra-style personal implosions, Jordan-style Hitler-staches or Julian Edelman/Ben Roethlisberger-style assault charges? Can I get away with someone safe and old, like Tim Wakefield, or is there too much of a chance it is going to come out next week that he’s signing with the Mets?

— Caitlin M.

I wish I had taped a video of myself reading this question. All smiles, a few nods, a joyous giggle at the mention of the Hitler-stache … and then, when I got to the epic Mets burn, a physical recoil that rivaled even “2 Girls 1 Cup” reaction footage. Well played. And congratulations on the engagement! I want to know everything about what it was like. What inning was it? Were the people around you drunk and annoying or were you too excited to care? Was your name on the big scoreboard? They didn’t wand your fiancé at security and find the ring? Did you know it was coming? OHMYGODWEREYOUSOEXCITED??? (Sorry, this has been your Bake Shop edition of “Shit Girls Say.”)

Unfortunately, this absurd recent look at baby-naming conventions doesn’t address sports. But I think middle names are your best bet, because middle names are best designed for abuse. (My stance on this might be because I have the world’s most boring and generic middle name, and I’m always jealous of people with whimsical parents who let them choose their own, or those with stuffy parents but rad middle names like von du Veldenschmidt.) Go wild! Go with Busch! Go for Izzy, or Holliday, or Herzog! (I could see where “Whitey” could be problematic.) How about Buck or La Russa? Oh my god, GIVE YOUR KID THE MIDDLE NAME FREDBIRD. JUST DO IT. The best thing about middle names is that they’re unisex. Caitlin Albert actually sounds kind of cool, unless you abuse it in a Miss Havisham way to remind her that men are liable to compensate for going bald by fleeing to LA.

Can we start referring to Phil Kessel as “The Weight One,” a nickname that pays homage to his fatness, but impressive talent?

— Scott K.

After seeing this photo of him (which appears to be real — it’s posted on his girlfriend’s Facebook page, and I despise myself for having just typed that phrase in earnest) touching the Stanley Cup, I think Phil Cursel might be more appropriate. Sorry, Leafs fans.

I moved to Philadelphia from the UK in July. I have had to learn about the Phillies, the Flyers and the Eagles. I am getting tired (and still don’t know what a cornerback is). Can you tell me all I need to know about the 76-ers in a paragraph? Or less.

— James P.

Here’s what I know about the Sixers, based on a visit to their arena last season: Their PA announcer was even more like a bad wedding DJ than most PA announcers typically are, and their mascot was a nightmare-fuel bunny rabbit named “Hip Hop” with huge furry biceps and a do-rag who taught me what the bad kind of tripping feels like. Both of these team employees have been ousted in the offseason, however. (You can read Grantland’s take on the new mascots here; I just went and voted for the dog on the strength of his pantsless-trench-coat-flasher look.) So I turned to Grantland’s resident Sixers fan-4-life Chris Ryan for some better answers. Here’s what he had to say:

James! Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love. So, the Sixers. Here’s the deal: Philly is a great, great hoops town. From Sonny Hill League, high schools like Simon Gratz (Rasheed Wallace’s alma mater), and the incredible (if not what it used to be) Big 5 college rivalries. Ten years ago the Sixers were the crown jewel of this hoops heaven and Allen Iverson was the king. We’ve never really gotten over his departure/fall from grace. I know the T.G.I. Friday’s on City Line Avenue and the Palmer Social Club have definitely not recovered, economically or otherwise. But the Sixers have a young, fun team right now who will be just good enough to not get a good draft pick. Here’s your primer: Jrue Holiday is awesome, Andre Iguodala wants to be elsewhere, and Evan Turner’s favorite movie is The Notebook. See you at the Wells Fargo Center, mate.

In the history of music, has there ever been a more ridiculous, more impassioned, more misplaced outpouring of emotion than in Sisqo’s 2000 classic hit, “The Thong Song”? Specifically, I refer to the bridge of this song at around 2:40. After a suspenseful instrumental buildup rivaled only by the theme from Jaws, Sisqo lays it all on the line and goes for it. I think the most ridiculous part is when he goes “I don’t think you heeeaaaard me!!” Think about that for a second. Literally all he has been singing about for the past two minutes is how much he loves thongs, yet he still feels the need to tell the listener: Look. I don’t think you understand me, okay? I LOVE THONGS. I know you’ve been listening to me for the past two minutes but you’re not HEARING me. I LOVE them. It’s pretty powerful stuff. So, my question is, can you give another moment in musical history in which such a misplaced outpouring of unnecessary emotion occurs?

— Rami L.

See, I’d argue that Sisqo’s emotion is neither misplaced nor unnecessary. Clearly the man tapped into something big with his seminal (um, not-quite-puns not-quite-intended, gross!) masterpiece. How else would it have become such a timeless classic, one that earned Sisqo his very own “20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection” CD alongside the likes of Heavy D and Public Enemy? The people love the thong! The greatest Wall Street Journal front-page article ever written was about the thong — on my 21st birthday, no less, which I will always remember because I had just started a finance summer internship and we would get quizzed on WSJ articles early in the morning and I was really hungover and that’s the only article I could come up with. With sentences like: “It’s like lace butter, says Joni Wheat, a 33-year-old personal shopper in Chicago,” can you really blame me? Somehow I got the job.

Your important close read of the lyrics reminds me of nothing less than one of my top, oh, three favorite all-time things on the Internet, and that is John Darnielle’s 2003 message board thread discussing “100 Reasons why ‘Ignition – Remix’ Is So Damned Great.” (To give you an idea of the extent of my love, you should know that I just had a minor panic attack when I tried to locate it and got a server error. Here it is in all its glory, and in case it ever goes away for good I just copy/pasted the whole thing to a Word document that I am about to save on a thumb drive because I am NOT KIDDING AROUND WITH THIS.)

Reasons no. 27, 28, and 101 are incredible. The whole thing is incredible. And the cameo appearances by music critics like Matthew Perpetua and Jody Beth Rosen, combined with the snapshot-in-time arguments from nonbelievers like “(ps. Beyonce & Jigga’s new single pretty much kills this tune)” make this a true historical document that someone really should send to the Library of Congress. In fact, I think I’ve got a second thumb drive laying around … In closing: Every last one of my Facebook friends has now been spammed with the news that “Katie listened to Thong Song on Spotify.” Thanks a lot, Rami L.

Katie Baker is a staff writer for Grantland.

Previously from Katie Baker:
Hockey’s Fighting ‘Problem’
The NHL Coaching Carousel Spins Off Its Axis
Broadway Blueshirts Are Becoming Must-See Theatre
Manning-ology, Lady Byng, and the Pitfalls of Great Free Tickets
The Best Team in the NHL
Wedded Blitz! The October Marriage Season
The Rise of the Female Distance Runner
Benching Ovechkin
The Horrible Habs

To comment on this story through Facebook, click here.

Filed Under: Bake Shop, Events, Katie Baker, Movies, People, Series, Stanley Cup, Teams, UNC

Katie Baker is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ katiebakes