Saturday, October 25, 2014

BISCUTBALL PREVIEW #23: LOS ANGELES LAKERS

DEGRADATION: A PLAY IN ONE ACT BY CORBIN SMITH


(LIGHTS UP on a Restaurant in LOS ANGELES. MITCH KUPCHAK, the General Manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, is ordering from a WAITER.)


KUPCHAK: This soup, this lima bean soup? Is it good?


WAITER: Oh, absolutely. It’s a normal lima bean soup in a lot of ways, but the chef uses rendered animal fat and chives to give it a fuller body.


KUPCHAK: (Adjusts his glasses.) Oh, good. Sounds great. I’ll have that, then.


WAITER: Is it just you, or....


KUPCHAK: No, no, someone will be joining me, but I just figured, uhh, why waste time. I think he already had lunch or something.


WAITER: Terrific.


(EXITS.)


(BYRON SCOTT, a coaching candidate for the Lakers, enters. He shakes Kupchak’s hand very assuredly, making perfect eye contact. KUPCHAK doesn’t stand up, and is more passive in receiving the handshake.)


KUPCHAK: Thanks for meeting with me today, Byron…


BYRON: No, thank YOU, Mitch. I think you’ll be interested to hear my idea about what I could do with this roster….


KUPCHAK: Byron, I don’t need to hear it. We’re interested, we’re engaged, we think you’re the man for the job.


BYRON: Oh, wow, uh, thank you! I did have these notes I wanted to….


KUPCHAK: We think, this year, that you and the Los Angeles Lakers are going to surprise a lot of people with some of your ideas and strategies, and our players, who are all tremendous, winning athletes. We think you’re an old-school guy, and even if you rattle cages amongst (He performs finger quotes.) “The Basketball Intelegencaratti,” you are still the right man for the job and we’re happy to have you. You know, when you sat down with me today, and you said, “Mitch, I think this league is shooting too many three pointers - that is not a winning shot, the three pointer, you need to do something else if you’re going to win a championship; we’re going to drastically reduce the number of three pointers we shoot,” I thought you sounded a little crazy and anti-modern. But you really sold me on it. I am sold. You’re hired, Byron. You got the job.


BYRON: You know, Mitch, I, uh, don’t think that DRASTICALLY reducing the number of threes we take is SUCH a good id-


KUPCHAK: It’s about defense, right, Byron? This is a defensive squad. We’re going to spend all of our time on defense, because that’s our personnel. Our identity. The thing we hang our hat on.


BYRON: What? No, Carlos Booz…


KUPCHAK: BYRON, MY MAN. Our guy. I love your vision for this team, the one with the defense and the not taking threes. You were a Lakers legend once before, and you’ll be one twice again. How about we get a bottle of champagne to celebrate, WAITER-


BYRON: MITCH, hey, slow down, man…


KUPCHAK: Oh, you’re not a, uh, drinking man? We can get sparkling cider, I love that stuff, WAITER, A BOTTLE OF MARTINELLI’S OVER-


BYRON: No, Mitch, I just, I don’t think ANY of those things about the roster, and I don’t plan on doing ANY of these things if I work for the Lakers!


KUPCHAK: (Sighs.) This could have been easy Bryon. One sec, lemme… (He reaches under the table, pushes a button.) ...turn this tape recorder off.


BYRON: You were recording this conversation?


KUPCHAK: Byron, do you mind if I curse?


BYRON: I guess n-


KUPCHAK: Byron, a lot of people have fucked up lately. Made mistakes. Let the dog shit in the yard one too many times. It’s not good. It’s bad. We have a giant pile of dog shit in our yard, and it’s going to win 25 games, and someone has to take the blame for that big pile of dog shit.


BYRON: What are you suggesting, Mitch. That I’m your fall guy, or something?


KUPCHAK: BYRON, my man. I hate words like “fall guy” and “someone to take all the blame when the inevitable happens.” I would never say anything like that. BUT, we can’t go out and hire someone we really, really want to run the team right now, because everyone in and around the team will (He mimes a flamethrower.) brprrrrrrrr, just torch this guy with a flamethrower.


BYRON: This is ridiculous, Mitch. I am a SERIOUS NBA COACH.


KUPCHAK: Absolutely! And we will pay you six million dollars to be a serious NBA coach, just as long as you, you know, make yourself…


BYRON: A martyr?


KUPCHAK: That’s a little more honorable than I might frame it, but whatever makes you feel best about it. Look. Someone has to take the blame for the next two seasons of Lakers basketball. Everyone will be crying out for the blood…


(WAITER ENTERS with SOUP. He sets it down on the table.)


KUPCHAK: Thank you, this smells delicious.


WAITER: Pepper?


KUPCHACK: You know, just a little. I think over seasoning insults the chef.


(WAITER turns the pepper grinder twice.)


KUPCHAK: PERFECT! Not a granule more! Thank you. (Sips the soup with a spoon.) Delicious. Absolutely delicious.


WAITER: (To BYRON.) Is there something you would…


BYRON: (Staring at KUPCHAK, deadpans.) I haven’t had the chance to look to the menu.


WAITER: I’ll give you a minute to look.


(EXITS.)


KUPCHAK: This really is very good. If you like soup, you should try it. Now, as I was saying, everyone will be crying out for SOMEONE’S blood, and nobody wants it to be MY blood, or the Buss family’s blood, or, God forbid, Kobe Bryant’s blood! He is a franchise icon, you know. We need a new Magic Johnson, our old one has gone a little rogue lately and some people in the organization are (Mimics a crying baby.) wahh, upset about it. I mean you think we can blame this all on Jeremy Lin? You know how famous that guy is?


BYRON: You know, Mitch, I’ve never been more insulted in my entire life? (Gets up.) I’m leaving, and I’m CERTAINLY not going to be taking this job.


(EXITS.)

KUPCHAK: Well, offer’s still on the table! Anytime! 17 million dollars for two years of work, at most! Hell, we can make it one and a half if you’re feeling restless! Alright! See you later, Byron!

(Caitlin Obom edited this piece. She is is the sketch comedy group Drop the Root Beer and Run. They are performing at The Pocket Theater in Seattle, WA on Halloween.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

BISCUTBALL PREVIEW #22: MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

(DATELINE: 2226, CE, a hundred years after the great war. A McMansion in what we now know as suburban Memphis. The house has been abandoned for 120 years. The front door opens with difficulty. Enter DANIEL and LAURA. He is a 45-Year old man in a suit without a tie. His top button is undone. He has ragged facial hair and a conservative haircut. LAURA, 32, is his assistant. She is wearing a grey pant suit jacket and blue jeans. Her brown hair is is a ponytail.


We see that this house is a depository for Memphis Grizzlies memorabilia. "We Don't Bluff" Towels, posters, jerseys, everything.)


LAURA: What is all this stuff? (She picks up a t-shirt and looks at the front. A picture of a basketball.) A basketball team? I don’t remember seeing them on the historical record...


DANIEL: The Memphis Grizzlies.


LAURA: Excuse me?


DANIEL: The Memphis Grizzlies. I’ve read about this team before. An old book in the library.


LAURA: (Holds up a T-shirt with Zach Randolph’s face on it.) Did you read about this? Odd looking man. He was a professional athlete?


DANIEL: (Takes the shirt and looks at it for a second.) Zach Randolph. Z-Bo.


LAURA: Z-Bo? A nickname?


DANIEL: From what I’ve read, I think ‘Zach Randolph’ may have been the nickname, if you know what I mean. A malcontent at every stop he made before Memphis. But they got him somehow. Or he got them, it’s hard to say. I think they fed each other. He choked Blake Griffin during a game, you know.


LAURA: The legendary peace activist?


DANIEL: Well, he was a basketball player, once. Anyway, ZBo. Didn’t jump. No, couldn’t jump. But he was strong. I read, once, about him posting up on a fast break possession.


LAURA: ...why wouldn’t he just lay it in?


DANIEL: Just didn’t come natural. They say he moved better in circles than in lines. Rotated with the spheres of the universe. Gravity was in his blood.


(A Mike Conley photograph, signed by Conley, sits on a coffee table. Laura picks it up.)


LAURA: “Mike Conley?” (Laura consults an electronic device) Nothing is coming up on my info device. No record of this guy, apparently…


DANIEL: (Chuckles) I’m not surprised. Mike wasn’t about the spotlight, Laura. He didn’t play for awards or fame or anything like that. He just came every night and did what it took for his team to win. His destiny was to be lost to the ages, I suppose.


LAURA: ...then how do you know about him?


DANIEL: (Looks past Laura to an Oil Painting of Tony Allen hanging on the wall.) My God, is that… Laura, come look at this painting. Laura, this man. This was a man who lived in defiance of the world. Imagine, for a second. A shooting guard, who couldn’t shoot, or dribble, and he frequently mishandled layups, but no one in their right mind would ever say he was a bad player.


LAURA: But… why!?


DANIEL: Defense, Laura. This man was consumed by the spirit of defense. Any kind. Steals, lockdown man to man, hell, he would go for a mean show on a pick and roll if you gave him the chance. And to see him on the sideline was… he was truly an original. Clapping, yelling. I remember what he said, his words became the mantra. Grit and grind. Like toothpaste, Laura. It was how they won. Every other team was like a machine but they were like dirt, corroding the gears and making them break down. Driving their opponents into frustrated madnesses. It was… it was ugly… but it had a poetry. A heroism.


(While Daniel was soliloquizing, Laura has pried open a door with a crowbar. She looks in the room, and what she sees shocks her. She drops her crowbar. A poster, on the wall.)




LAURA: Oh my God.... Daniel th-th-th-that’s… you!


(MARC GASOL looks at the poster for half a second. He turns away and walks slowly out of the house. He stands in the doorway and lights a cigarette.)

MARC: Once, it was me. But no more. Those times are long over.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

BISCUTBALL PREVIEW #21: TORONTO RAPTORS

TEN POSTS I COULD DO ABOUT THE RAPTORS, BUT WON’T:

ONE: MAKE FUN OF DRAKE. People think Drake is very silly, because he has weird rooting habits and makes rap songs about his feelings. He also works for the Raptors, sort of. Making fun of Drake is a lot of fun for a lot of people. I don’t really care about anyone’s rooting habits and I don’t listen to his rap songs, so I don’t have the ability to really write this post. If I did, I would use this picture in it:


I don’t know what the joke would be, but the Raptor on the Jersey is wearing a Jersey with Drake’s face on it, and that’s probably like a B- piece of business. I don’t really know, I don’t really keep up on hip-hop issues.

TWO: PREVIEW THE SEASON LIKE THEY’RE A HOCKEY TEAM. Toronto is in Canada, where Hockey is the national sport. I would go through the roster and compare every player to a hockey player, maybe a fake hockey player, as a joke. For instance:

DEMAR DEROZEN: “Sturdy” William McGilis, a fast, dependable wingman for the NHA’s Montreal Bleu Culottes. Played with a massive cigar in his mouth at all times, as a way of giving advantage to his opponents. If he won, he looked awesome, if he lost, he would blame it on his :Filthy Habits” and perpetuate the myth of his prowess being suppressed by his addiction to cigars. Died when a pack of wlves attacked his family’s Yukon Potato farm.

This is maybe a good idea, but I don’t know that much about hockey, certainly not enough to do a whole post of those. Is “Winger” even a position?

THREE: COMPARE EVER PLAYER TO A FUCKED UP SONG. Toronto-based experimental hardcore band Fucked Up are one of my all time favorite bands, and this would be a good excuse to just write about their songs. It’s also pretty self indulgent, so I decided not to. I could also compare everyone on the team to a member of the band, but Boris Diaw is on the Spurs and that guy is 10,000 Marbles to a T. ALso that would be even more self-indulgent, because I’m not even sharing Fucked Up’s terrific music that way.

FOUR: UTILIZE A CHILDREN’S BOOK ABOUT RAPTORS IN SOME WAY:


I even picked out books! But when I was trying to convince myself that it would be funny if I said that the Raptors could train the the desert, because raptors lived in deserts, I though “This is probably not a great idea.”

FIVE: COMPLICATED MYTHOLOGIES I was also trying to make a thing about how when you named your team after an animal, you have to go speak to the king of that animal (Only the VERY RICH know about these animals) to get approval for the team name, but the Raptors never did that, because Raptors are are all dead, so the teams has been cursed by ghost raptors ever since then. Here is a picture of a ghost raptor blocking that Lowry floater in the playoffs:


SIX: JUST WRITE A PREVIEW: It’s time to cut the high concept crap. You have kids to feed. Just write a damn preview about the Raptors. You know who’s on the team! It’s not rocket science! Quit making it more complicated than it has to be.

SEVEN: MAKE FUN OF THEIR FRANCHISEE: I love to get a little Zirincore on here from time to time, because I am a political person with dangerous opinions. But the Raptors are primarily owned by a Canadian Media Conglomarate. Who am I supposed to get angry at, exactly? A profitable cog in a publically traded company that pays its taxes? Actually, it just makes me angry that America’s limpdick communication regulations have let international corporationstake over every conceivable corner of the media landscape, while Canada has responsibly regulated them out of their marketplace.

EIGHT: FREDRIC WEIS PREVIEWS THEIR SEASON: “I became a fan of the Toronto Raptors in about 2004. I can’t quite remember why. Anyway, I am excited for their upcoming season. I especially hope they beat the Memphis Grizzlies, a team I loathe from the deepest depths of my being.”

NINE: LIST TRADES MASAI UJIRI HAS MADE IN HIS LIFE: For instance, “Masai traded a Snickers bar for a gold bar.” Because he’s good at making uneven trades! Ugh, sports executive fetishization.

TEN: IF THE RAPTORS WERE A HELICOPTER, WHAT PART OF THE HELICOPTER WOULD EVERYONE BE? Didn’t get far on this one. I did figure that Lowry was the pilot, and Greivis the co-pilot and Casey the navigation computer. What does Casey’s voice sound like? Do you think it is made for navigation computers?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BISCUTBALL PREVIEW #20: BOSTON CELTICS

(I coudn’t think of anything to write about the Celtics, so I am just reprinting something their PR People sent me. Sorry guys, this content churn is A KILLER.)

The Boston Celtics are a basketball team that plays in Boston, Massachusetts. There are players on the team. Here is a list of them:

A lot of these players were stars in NCAA Division One Basketball. Some played basketball for money in dark corners of the European continent. Many of them have already played in the NBA for a while. Two of them were one designated NBA All-Stars!

(Former designated All-Stars playing for the Boston Celtics)

Will one of the Boston Celtics become a designated All-Star player this year? You will have to watch the team and read articles about the team to find out!

The atmosphere at Boston Celtics games is going to be great. Before high leverage possessions, we play “Paradise City” by Guns and Roses. It’s an old song, but it’s a lot of fun, people really like it. If you take your kid to a game, you can introduce him to Guns and Roses, you favorite band.

You guys like, uhh, Jeff Green? Avery Bradley? Marcus Thorton? Wing players, guys who run on the wings? THe wings are the left and right parts of the floor, and the team is a bird, and the wings are like the wings of the bird. Here is a diagram:


Basketball positions are like the feathers and hollow bones of professional basketball: it is what makes the team fly.

Some people say this roster is a hodgepodge of mediocre players put together as a stalling tactic until the Celtics can sign or draft or trade for a layer to build a good team around. Normally, we, the PR Department, would say, “Hey! That’s not true!” But this we we are more into letting the audience make up their minds, sort of like the Metropolitan Opera’s and their recent production of “Death of Klinghoffer.” SEE IT. THEN DECIDE.

Anyway. We will be playing basketball this year, maybe watch it, or don’t. It’s cool, either way. You probably like watching Rondo, right? Oh, who am I kidding, he’s gonna get traded.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

BISCUTBALL PREVIEW #19: PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Philadelphia 76ers superstar Sam Hinke wasn’t always the very successful GM of a beloved NBA franchise. Once, he was one of USA Today’s top 60 Undergraduates in America, then an MBA student who consulted for professional sports teams looking to get into the analytics business. But his next life step was the one that would be the die in which his philosophical outlook would be cast forever.




Bain Capital! Before he went to work full time with Daaaaaaaaryl Morey and the Rockets, Sam Hinke was an analyst at the private equity company founded by former Republican Presidential Nominee and current blogger Mitt Romney! Ideally, private equity’s broader purpose is to purchase struggling firms, strip out their excess, non-profitable assets (and employee salaries) and resell the company (at a profit that is taxed at the capital gains rate), now reborn as a money making operation. (They often don’t really do this.)


Hinke and his employers have brought the private equity management mindset to the Sixers. And it might pay off one day! But right now the team is in the “Stripped out assets” phase of their plan and things are gettin’ ugly on the floor! The team’s highest paid player is Jason Richardson. Their SECOND highest paid player is Joel Embiid, who is on a rookie scale deal and will not play this year on account of a foot injury. Their only proven NBA Caliber players are the aforementioned J-Rich, Michael Carter-Williams and Luc Richard Mbah Moute. They traded their best player from last year’s very, very bad squad, Thad Young.


Elliott Williams, a 25 year old former Trailblazer, is on the roster in the second year of a four year, five millionish dollar contract where every year is a team option year. In other words, if he performs poorly he will be cut but if he performs well he will not make significantly more money as a reward for his efforts for another three years. This contract is the sort that should inspire the union to intervene on his behalf, a vision of the NBA with NFL contracts. The roster is littered with borderline type players on contracts like this. If they break out, they will probably get traded. Strip any asset that isn’t necessary and replace it with something cheap you can control! It’s how the future works!


But a critical eye reveals that the Sixers are still being sentimental. There is so much more you could strip out to make this team better in the future and more profitable in the present!


ONE: Brett Brown. Who is this guy, anyway? Why should HE be able to afford granite countertops for coaching this team? I was reading this article about Erik Spoelstra; you know the Heat paid him pennies to look at video once? Let’s ditch the Brown fella, find a particularly tall video guy, the kind who won’t be intimidated, and I’ll say there like a 56% chance he is going to be a perfectly capable coach and a 15% chance the we promoted the new Erik Spolestra: if he’s good enough, we can get a second round pick for his rights, trade that in for a player you can pay like six bucks, and if he’s good enough, we can trade the right to sign him for EVEN MORE second round picks!


TWO: You know how much we spend on trying to get people to come to these games? A lot. Here’s what we do: cut the sales staff in half, OR IF WE CAN, trade them to, like, the Knicks or something. They’ll be glad to go wherever their passion for sales takes them! Then we just stop selling tickets to games no one cares about. Magic, Bucks, Jazz, Lakers, who wants to see them play THE SIXERS play those shitty teams?`We just empty arena that bad boy. Think about all the game day operations and event staff we won’t have to pay! Hell, we can probably trade 20 or so of them for a second round pick or something. If our concessions people complain, we can just open the concourse while keeping the bowl closed, so they can sell food for the three hours during the game. People love stadium food, they’ll flock to the arena AND avoid the Sixers game at the same damn time!


THREE: Malik Rose is one of the league's best color guys. Offload him for a 2nd round pick to San Antonio, they need an upgrade and he's not doing anything for us right now! Commentators are a product of the bygone era of radio (Shut that down altogether, by the way), we have the glorious vision of television now! And as long as no one is watching, let’s scaaaaaale back out investment in crap like cameras. You know, an iPhone camera can do 1080p video, and you could probably buy an iPhone > HDMI cable and make a coherent enough broadcast out of it. I know we can get a trade exception from OKC for some new cameras, I have Presti on the phone RIGHT NOW.


FOUR: When the Washington Professional Football Team had their trademark revoked by the FTC, a lot of people saw the end of a horrible and dumb era in Washington. But you know what I saw? Opp. Ro. Tune. Itty. Aren’t we tired of spending all this money on lawyers who protect our copyrights? Let’s just renounce that shit. Then, we make the bootleggers to work FOR US. With MULTIPLE bootleggers working against each other to make the cheapest product, the bulk prices for t-shirts is going to outright collapse. Then, we swoop n, but those things for, like, pennies, and mark it up in our stadium when the Cavs or the circus, one of those popular events, are in town! We’re all believers in capitalism here. If we stop sucking at the teat of the Government’s Copyright Fairy, we could start RAKING IN DOUGH RIGHT NOW.


FIVE: Uniforms. Gauche. Trade em’.


SIX: I was looking at the court:




Do we really need ALL OF THESE PANELS!? Let’s take some of this unnecessary crap out.




The Players hardly run on the baselines.




These players and refs have been in this for a long time. I think they know where the keys are by now.




We know what team we’re watching. Also, the way these bootlegs are flooding the streets, the 76ers logo hardly means anything to people any more.




The long two is dead. Why even tempt the players?




We don’t have any shooters anyway. Who needs those dumb three point lines?



You know, I thought it looked a little unbalanced like that, so I just took out everything that looked like white noise. We can trade the panels to a high school in exchange for a tall teacher we can run out in practice. If he’s good, we can trade him for picks. It’ll be great. We're going to be so good!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

BISCUTBALL PREVIEW #18: THE BROOKLYN NETS

THE BISCUTBALL WORLD SERIES PREVIEW, BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE BROOKLYN NETS! “BROOKLYN NETS: EVERYBODY WANTS TO WATCH OUR VERY COOL BASKETBALL TEAM!”*
*sponsored content


The leaves are falling, the air is crisp, we have accepted the death of summer and that can only mean one thing:




The Iliad. The Dialogues Of Plato. The Four Great Novels of China. They did their best to tell us about the condition of man. But there were merely books, written on paper. BASEBALL is a real life game, played on grass planted into 10 or so feet of dirt that has is sitting on concrete. People read books, which are on a page, in two dimensions, then they have to take the rods and try to build them into something in their brains. But the time this process is over, the experience of all these things is all broke-ass and 10 steps removed from reality.


-The events that inspired something.
-The author’s probable non-presence at these events.
-The author’s inherent gaps in knowledge of these things.
-The author’s inability to express what he is trying to express.
-The inherent limits of language.
-Things drawing the reader’s attention away from the page.
-Things the reader doesn’t understand.
-Things the reader only half understands.
-The syrupy muddle of the reader’s mind, submerging the work and making it into merely a part of their own life.


People EXPERIENCE baseball, in three dimensions. You’re THERE, something is HAPPENING, it’s a LIFE EXPERIENCE. If reading a book is ten steps removed, watching the Old Ballgame is, at most, one step away. And if you watch it on TV, it’s only four steps away. (Events, Cameras, Editing, the added context of Announcers mudding the experience.)

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This year’s PRIME BASEBALL EXPERIENCE is among the primest of all prime baseball experiences. The San Francisco Giants, a team of destiny twice in recency and the Kansas City Royals, walking into the promised land after 29 years in the desert, a thirsty man looking for one drink at the wellspring of victory, with only one person standing in their way who they seek to murder with a broken bottle, both teams rising up from the ashes of the play in Wild Card game, knifing opponents who reasonable men, driven by logic and math, said were “Better baseball teams” and dropping their bodies into crocodile filled swamps as a sacrifice to their Heathen Lizard Gods. They now stare only at each other, eyes fixed at the neck, their clubs and speeding projectiles and nerve and will to succeed the only things at their disposal to lift the 30 Flagg-ed trophy above their heads in triumph.


They are led by their aces, the ACE OF SHIELDS, JAMES “THE WILD MAN OF THE KANSAS PLAINS” SHIELDS


WARNING: NASTY STUFF AHEAD

NASTY NASTY NASTY


And the ACE OF BUM GARDENS, MADISON “SINGLE DROP OF DEW ON A BLADE OF GRASS” BUMGARNER


WARNING: SERENE STUFF, IN TOUCH WITH THE UNIVERSE AHEAD




GENTLE GENTLE GENTLE LIKE A VOLCANO IN THE OCEAN

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The great thing about baseball is that you never know what is going to happen. Here is a picture of the end of a bat...




...and here is a picture of a baseball…


...as you can see, they are both round objects. And when one round object, with infinite points of contact hits another round objects with infinite points of contact, flying in crazy curves because spin and air resistance makes it float in all kinds of kooky directions, there are infinity squared possible results of its flight direction. Nobody is in control of anything that happens in a baseball game. It’s like a thundercloud brought to earth, with molecules smashing into each other and occasionally making thunder and blowing up a grain silo. This is what makes it the best game.


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SO ENJOY THE WORLD SERIES! Anything can happen and it’s better than books!