The Humanoids: Hard Hits

We’re back and hitting harder than ever on The Humanoids. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the whole blog is under reconstruction since Jackie left. I’m busy holding down the fort which makes for busy nights working on the next day’s post(s). Yeah, I don’t have any sympathy for myself either. Mind you, I don’t have any sympathy for the subjects of today’s column either. These folks have dug their own holes with what they’ve done over the last little while. If you make your bed, you’re going to have to lie in it.

Speaking of hard hits, I just found out that our next episode of the radio show is being pre-empted. We’ll still be doing the Lowdown Extra in its place. We’ll still do some of the stuff scheduled for the radio show but the trip to the club for pickup line advice is cancelled. Expect fire and brimstone to rain down during the WTF opinion segment.

LeBron James
The King puts his nose up into the air as he looks down on the members of his court. LeBron stole the show at the 2009 NBA Slam Dunk Competition by saying that he was going to be in the 2010 Slam Dunk contest. Well, taking a twenty-something multi-millionaire isn’t always the best way to go. For some reason that James isn’t exactly forthcoming with, LeBron won’t be taking to the skies at this year’s NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Not only is this disappointing for LeBron’s fans, it’s a PR catastrophe for the NBA as a whole. This year’s All-Star festivities are being held on the grandest stage of the all: The Jerry Dome (AKA Dallas Stadium), the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and the biggest and most ridiculously expensive stadium in North American professional sports. What better way would there have there been for the NBA to make an impact than to have its biggest star play in its biggest showcase on its biggest All-Star weekend in history. While I’m sure LeBron is looking out for his own interests (after all, it wouldn’t do the LeBron brand much good to be beaten by Nate Robinson who is nearly a foot shorter than him), he isn’t looking out for the league’s best interest. When you’re the biggest star in the NBA, whatever you do has to be as much for the good of the league’s head office as it is for yourself. There are hundreds of players who make a better living because of LeBron. He brings in money from ticket sales, merchandise, sponsorship, and TV contracts. His work is for the greater good of the NBA… As much as sports league can have a greater good. Because he’s running scared from Nate Robinson and a pair of rookies by skipping the Slam Dunk Contest, he’s doing himself and the league more harm than good.

Patrice Cormier
Oh Captain, my Captain… You’re a fucking idiot! I’m not going to turn this into a discussion/diatribe over violence in hockey (we’re planning on doing that on the next episode of the show). Cormier, the captain of this year’s silver medal winning (or as most Canadians would think of them, the gold medal losing) World Juniors team, showed an unnatural propensity to imitate Chris Pronger during pre-tournament and tournament games. It turns out that it’s not just in a Team Canada sweater that Cormier channels his inner Pronger. Earlier this week, while playing with his QMJHL team, the Quebec Ramparts, he dropped an opposing player with an elbow to the face. While the only camera angle of the incident makes it look like a glancing blow, it was bad enough to send the victim into convulsions on the ice. Clearly, play like this has no place in hockey. That goes without saying. What’s more interesting is the coincidence of this. The coach of the Ramparts is Patrick Roy. He’s the same guy that was behind the bench when a line brawl broke out in a playoff game which ended with his kid in court because he beat up the other team’s goalie. Some thought it was a case of the apple not falling far from the tree. After this, it seems as though Roy encourages this sort of reckless behaviour from his players. Misplace blame? Maybe but the coincidence is just to high to ignore the fact that maybe the coach is to blame too.

Jay Leno
It seems as though everyone is lining up behind Conan in the O’Brien vs. NBC fight over the tonight show. The thing is that because Leno gets his cushy job back at 11:35, everyone assumes that he’s the bad guy in this whole story. The way NBC has handled the whole thing to protect Leno’s reputation and ego, you might think that Leno is pulling the strings. He says he was pushed out of The Tonight Show and that he never wanted to do a 10:00 show. Well, he took the money and did the show so how much truth can there be to that. Jay won’t be getting any sympathy from me over this mess. Like so many celebrities (though I’m not even close to web celebrity status), I’m with Team Conan. The only celeb not in that camp is Jerry Seinfeld. Granted, Jerry never said that he was backing Leno. He just said that The Jay Leno Show was the right idea at the wrong time. That sounds like very carefully chosen words by a man whose new show is debuting soon on NBC. Of course, even Jay isn’t entirely on Team Leno. He’s blaming NBC executives for the whole mess now. You know, that’s the smartest thing that anyone on late night television has said for the last two week.

Martha Coakley
I’m guessing that I wouldn’t be going out on a limb if I assumed that no one knows who the hell this is. Coakley is the Massachusetts Attorney General that ran for and lost the election for the US Senate seat that was previously held by Ted Kennedy. Analysts said that she should have won the seat in a double-digit percentage point landslide of a vote. Instead, a former male model (who apparently once posed mostly disrobed for Cosmo) took the seat for the Republicans and dropped the Democrats to below the 60 seats necessary to stop the ghost of Strom Thurman from filibustering proceedings. Now, pundits are saying that this is a referendum on President Barack Obama’s first year in office. I think that they’re completely wrong. I think the Republican win is down to poor campaigning and a lack of knowledge on the part of the candidate. The eventual winner of the seat, Scott Brown, had support from Rudy Giuliani. Coakley tried to play to sports fans by saying that Giuliani was a New York Yankees fan and shouldn’t be trusted (or something like that). Then an interviewer said that Brown had the support of Curt Shilling. Coakley called him out as a Yankees fan too. Talk about not having a clue. Where was she in 2004? Where has she been for the last 5 years? All Red Sox fans talk about is Shilling’s heroics in the 2004 MLB Playoffs while wearing a ketchup-covered bloody sock. She forgot the cardinal rule of politics. Very seldom are elections and politics about the best candidate for the job. It’s a glorified popularity contest. Before she started talking baseball, she was winning because she was the lesser of two evils. When she opened her mouth about Boston’s favourite summer pasttime, she became a clueless blowhard who was trying too hard to win over votes. If she decides to give elected office another go, she might want to think about placing some strategically placed ketchup blood on her sock to win over voters and not talk about sports.

The only thing more embarrassing for an Olympic host than protesters interfering in one of the event would be what could happen in Whistler. The slopes at Whistler has gone bankrupt and are seeking creditor protection. Meanwhile, all the folks that are owed money from the group that owns the slopes have hinted at seizing assets in the middle of the games. Think about that for a second. One of Canada’s gold medal hopefuls is about to hit the slopes but when the buzzer goes to start his run, he trip and falls over the starting wire. Why did he do that? Because somebody padlocked the gate shut and claimed that asset as theirs on the behalf of a creditor. There would never be a more embarrassing situation for VANOC, Vancouver, and Canada. It wouldn’t embarrass the IOC for long because they would just blame the organizing committee. The only way that I (and folks in the lending industry that I’ve talked to) can see an embarrassing situation being avoided is if the government of Canada or British Columbia pays Whistler’s debt, pays the creditors, and waits for their loan to be repaid. All the leverage lies with the creditors. I know Olympic renovations would likely cost a lot but don’t you think that you would have a better contract to avoid stuff like this? No wonder why the people of Vancouver think these Olympics are a waste. No one has a clue what they’re doing… Except the creditors. Still, a monthly debt payment of over $500 million? What were they thinking?

Sun-Life Financial
Did you know that Sun-Life is the third largest insurance company in Canada? So why the hell are they signing a 5-year deal (with a 5-year option) for the naming rights to Miami Dolphins Stadium? I know insurance is a raquet but that’s $4 million down the drain that high premiums will make up for and then some. That contract is effective immediately which means that this year’s Super Bowl in Miami will take place at Sun Life Stadium. It’s a good idea if there’s more than one Super Bowl held in Miami over the next ten years (and that’s including this one). A 30-second advertising spot on a Super Bowl broadcast runs in the neighbourhood of $2 million. In other words, for this game, they’re paying for 60 seconds of advertising but the stadium name will be repeated enough times during the game and during the highlight shows and on the internet and in the newspaper that it might just be worth it. And then there’s the other $16 million dollars over the next four years. Of course, that’s only a relevant concern of a few hundred mentions per year to a football fan is worth that $4 million. This is the third time in two years that the stadium has changed names. Does anyone actually know the name of this stadium anymore? I still call it Pro Player Stadium. When you’re in your early twenties and a football fan and revert back to a stadium name from your childhood, you know that all significance of the stadium’s name is gone. So long diatribe short, Sun Life just burned your premiums in a giant pile of money.

Maria Sharapova
Okay, she’s won a couple of majors and been the #1 player in the world but is it time that we think of her the same way we did Anna Kournikova? Sharapova may be one of the most drop dead gorgeous women on the planet, let alone tennis player, but supermodel looks and legendary fashion sense don’t necessarily translate into tournament wins. Just ask Anna Kournikova. Hell, you can now ask Ana Ivanovic who has won a single major and just when it looked like she was to ascend to the highest peak of women’s tennis, started to have mid-tournament collapses. In fact, I think Ana’s won all of one tourney since winning the French Open and that was a Tier 2 event. Anyway, back to Maria, she may have reached her talent peak. She’s won 20 tournaments, including 3 majors which is more than most tennis players of either gender can say. She’s also the highest earning female athlete in the world. Good looks and early career success made her very popular with sponsors. If she’s watched her money, she can retire tomorrow and never have to play tennis another time in her life. May that is her plan and she’s just playing out her string of contracts with her sponsors so she can retire. That’s the only way to explain going hero to zero in no time flat.

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