Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I've decided to change the format of this gol'darn blog once a-gain. Here's the newest deal: I'm going to post what I want, when I want. I'm also going to write longer, more journalistic entries whenever I feel like it. I just couldn't keep up the schedule I had made for myself. There's just too much stuff going on, plus November is the shittiest of all months, or whatever Alcott said.

On top of that, I'm going to retain the "only one post viewable on the front page" format. I like it like that.

So there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

To Report One's Self Missing

[photo caption] One of the fleet of stallions in the Lunatic Biker's stable.

[Editor's Note: Fogbot has been up to his eyelids in, shall we say, "stuff" for the last week. He has been excused from his normal writing schedule until things settle down. --Ed.]

This is a quick note from the abyss:
1) The writing has been off lately. A lot of stuff has been going down. A lot. Thanks for your patience as you check back for new items. Hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later.
2) While reading Lunatic Biker's blog today, I noticed that he now has a link to this site. Thank you, Lunatic Biker! If you haven't clicked his link on this blog, do so. A very enjoyable read about a normal guy doing normal things, having a great time, and riding a bike. He and I know people in common (though he himself doesn't know me, nor I him), and I've actually seen him riding before -- on a great orange bike with matching Rabobank waterbottles (I believe it's a Salsa Las Cruces, for you uninitiated). Very Cipo, ATWR.
3) The onset of winter brings the onset of weight in many people. Jan Ullrich for one. Fogbot for another.
4) The onset of winter brings darkness -- physically, and sometimes mentally. It's the job of the seasonally unaffected to help those seasonally affected get through. Remember last winter and Hunter S. Thompson, for one.
5) Hospitals are the worst places on the face of the earth. The worst. (This has nothing to do with #4.)
6) Mischke (www.mischkemadness.com). Let him lull you to sleep tonight (10PM-12, AM1500, Twin Town).
7) The name of George Costanza's fictitious child.
8) Driver of that same number: go ahead and take a break.
9) Phonetically, the German word for "No".
(If you didn't get the last three, read the number in front of the message aloud first.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

This Week in Fogging (Nov 11)

[photo caption] Dan "The Common Man" Cole of KFAN (Mpls) -- a face made for radio.

This has been the shortest long week ever. Whatever that means. Here we go with This Week In Fogging...

For those of you scoring at home:
Sinus Infections: 2
Fogbot: 0

Best part about sick days:
Being able to listen to Dan "The Common Man" Cole on KFAN 1130 AM (Mpls).

Worst part about sick days:
Turning on the radio early and mistakenly catching "PA and Dubay" on the same station.

Would MN Senator Norm Coleman have broken ranks with Republicans on the budget bill had his been the deciding vote? I'm just asking.

A different season, a different pack of T-Wolves:
So far, they've been fun to watch. The Boston Sports Guy predicted before the season began that the Wolves would be much better than most people expected to be. He was either on to something or on something; my preliminary guess is the former.

They've been fun to watch and much, much more energetic on both ends of the floor. That said, I'm still not convinced that KG's back to 100% (and he hasn't looked that way for almost a full calendar year now).

I'm still worried about their chances for success after replacing half of their roster, as well.

Can David Stern see five feet in front of his face?:
David, the New Orleans / Oklahoma City Hornets have played exactly two (TWO!) games in Oklahoma City, and you've already stated that, "I can say without reservation that Oklahoma City is now at the top of the list [for expansion]."

Wha?!?!? TWO GAMES!!! TWO GAMES!!! C'mon, David! You're a lawyer, fer chrissakes! Have a sense of perspective!

Do you really think the OK Cty fans are still going to show up in February when this team is routinely losing by 20 and have been out of playoff contention for a month?


If you're ever in Manhattan:
Yama, 122 E. 17th St. Trust me.

Is there anyone left on the Terrell Owens bandwagon?:
Take it from a former coach who I speak to very often (most often when I talk to myself; sometimes in my sleep): You cannot be successful with bad people. You absolutely cannot -- and that goes for any walk of life. Business, sports, private life, wherever. You cannot be successful with bad people.

That said, I have to applaud the move made by the Philadelphia Eagles to part ways with Owens. It was, however, their colossal mistake to bring Owens aboard in the first place.

[photo caption] NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, or just "Boo" to his posse.

As the Saints turn:
From ESPN.com, dated Thursday, November 10:
LOS ANGELES -- The NFL and city officials have reached a preliminary agreement on terms to bring a team back to the Los Angeles Coliseum, commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Thursday.

As I've been reporting for a few days now, something was up with the NFL and Los Angeles. Read on:

"I think the critical thing now is we're at the point where it's recognized, certainly by us, that the time is right," Tagliabue said. "We have to get agreements finalized. We'll be pursuing agreements in Anaheim. We're going to work with both communities for an agreement."

"The time is right", hunh? Seems to sound like some team is moving there fairly soon. Keep going:

"The NFL is going to have a say on who's going to come here. The Coliseum has no role in selecting a team," [L.A. City Council member Bernard] Parks said. Asked when it might happen, Parks replied: "I don't know. Nobody's signed anything. They've got to say they're coming."

"They're coming"? Hmm...sounds like there's a specific team in mind.

C'mon, NFL! Stop playing us for fools! There hasn't been a team in Los Angeles for ten years, there have only been a few mentions of a return to the area in the meantime, then, only a few months after the New Orleans Saints were made homeless, the NFL ramps up talks?

Listen: no one is saying that all of this doesn't make complete sense. But why hide behind vague announcements and innuendo? The only legitimate answer would be that the season is on-going. If an announcement isn't made putting the Saints in L.A. for the 2006 season soon after the culmination of the 2005 campaign, I'll have lost a lot of respect for Tagliabue and Co.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Introducing your Los Angeles Saints!"

[photo caption] Future Los Angeles Saints and current New Orleans Saints owner does his traditional victory jig after a 2004 win. Benson will trade in his French Quarter-flavored prop for one with a more East L.A. flavor, most likely a sombrero.

(Editor's Note: Fogbot called in sick today with his second sinus infection of the season already. However, he was cajoled into submitting this report, albeit breif. -- Ed.)

From the Tuesday, November 8 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will meet with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle and USC football Coach Pete Carroll in a whirlwind midweek visit to Southern California, the league announced Monday. Tagliabue's trip west is not expected to produce a definitive announcement about the future of the NFL in the Los Angeles area, which has been without pro football since after the 1994 season. League spokesman Greg Aiello said, "The purpose of the trip is to discuss progress and the next steps on our stadium development plans."

Hmm. Sounds fishy. Let's do the math:

Whereas "New Orleans Saints" = "vagabond football team",

Vagabond football team
+ home city/state in shambles
+ two-to-three years to rebuild shambled city
+ team's owner bilks home state for last ten years
+ team's owner being run-out of home city
+ team's owner putting pressure on league to allow permanent move
+ league "just happening" to hold meetings in SoCal
= this team's moving to L.A., people.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Time Heals All Wounds

[photo caption] Former Vikings head coach Mike Tice is enjoying a rebirth as a volunteer high school football coach in Long Island, NY.

September 12, 2010
Blaine, Minn--

In the four years following his firing as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Mike Tice has been both reflective and accountable.

"We made mistakes," Tice admits with a slight tinge of lament in his voice. "Some were more significant than others. But I can't hide that we made mistakes."

And those "mistakes" were numerous and well-chronicled. There were poor drafts, the Moss years, ticket scalping by the head coach, terrible free agent signings, the infamous "Love Boat" incident, and the utter collapse of his team's performance during Tice's final season, to name a few.

In only his second return to the state of Minnesota since he was released from his contract in January 2006, Tice was in town Sunday as a part of the Minnesota Vikings' Fiftieth Season celebration. Tice, along with former Vikings' coaches Bud Grant and Dennis Green, participated in a pre-game ceremony in which the Vikings unveiled their "All-Fiftieth Team" prior to a nationally televised game against the Los Angeles Saints (former coaches Jerry Burns and Les Steckel were not in attendance; Burns passed away in 2006, while Steckel was not invited).

"Obviously, my legacy with the Vikings is not what I'd hoped it'd be, but I learned a lot of valuable lessons, and I've moved on," Tice declared. The Vikings recorded records of 6-10, 9-7, 8-8, and 5-11 in Tice's four full seasons.

Tice, however, has put his Vikings experience in the past. "I'm coaching, I'm happy, and I'm home."

By home, Tice is referring to Long Island, New York. Tice was born and raised in Long Island before attending the University of Maryland (where he played quarterback) and later completing a fourteen-year career in the NFL as a tight end with the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, and finally the Vikings. After his 2006 Vikings' dismissal, Tice was the offensive line coach with the Baltimore Ravens in 2006, and, after Ravens head coach Brian Billick and his entire staff were let go in January 2007, Tice went into a self-imposed football exile.

"I got out. I was fed up with the business of football. I was tired of being a football coach, so I stopped being a football coach." Tice moved back to Washington state, something of a second home, but it didn't last long. "It wasn't the same, living there and not being a part of football." So Tice and his family left Washington after only a year.

Tice returned to his true home, Long Island, in 2008. "I was looking for roots. For my roots. Listen, I was at a crossroads in my life, trying to figure out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. So I went home," Tice said softly, defying his physical stature.

An enormous man, Tice stands 6'8" tall. His playing weight of 260 pounds is now lost somewhere inside of his current 300+ pound frame, but his natural athleticism is still present. So too is the competitive spirit that still inhabits his fiery eyes. It's these eyes which betray Tice's casual demeanor, especially when discussing his recent return to coaching.

"My wife (Diane) was getting sick of me," Tice remarks in half-seriousness. "She wanted me off of the couch and out of the house. I wanted that too, so I found something to do." This is Tice's second season as a volunteer assistant for Central Islip (NY) high school, the alma mater of both Tice and his son, Nathan ('08). "It's been a blast," Tice exuded. "The kids are real intense, real fired up about playing football, and it's rubbed off on me. I'm happy being around football again."
[photo caption] Tice experienced seemingly unending frustration during his tenure as the Vikings' head coach.

As for regrets? Tice has a few. "Of course there's some things I regret," Tice admitted. "But I take responsibility for my failures. I take responsibility for all of it. I'm a big boy."

When prodded for examples, Tice is quick on the trigger. "I regret bringing in a lot of the players that we did. The biggest lesson I learned -- and I tell this to young coaches all the time -- is that you can't win with bad people. You just can't. Because ultimately bad people are weak people. They're people who quit on themselves, their coaches, and their teammates," Tice vented, the tone of his voice resonating as if the events he spoke of had happened only yesterday.

Tice continued, "I regret some of the staffing decisions I made. I hired [former defensive coordinator] Ted Cottrell. That was my fault. Don't get me wrong: Teddy's a great guy, but I should have looked around and said, 'Hey, this guy's been fired by both Buffalo and the [New York] Jets. Is he damaged goods?' But I didn't, and that's my fault."

Tice, however, is quick to point out that he may have been the victim of circumstance. "Look, the guy who hired me [former owner Red McCombs] hired me as the lowest paid coach in the league. We couldn't keep Scotty [Linehan, former offensive coordinator, due to financial constraints]. That sends a negative message to players. They're not stupid. They knew the situation. Then, when Mr. Wilf came in, we had a series of problems on and off of the field, and that's all she wrote," Tice posits. "But there's no one to blame except for me. If I was Mr. Wilf, I would've done the same thing."

But does Tice take any credit for the Vikings' resurgence in the '09 season, sparked largely by some Tice-era holdovers, most notably defensive line standouts Kevin Williams, Erasmus James, and Kenechi Udeze? "All the credit goes to Coach Carroll. These are his players now, his team, and he deserves the credit."

The former coach began to chuckle to himself, then offered, "This is a 'tough guy' town, and Pete's shown himself to be a 'tough guy'," Tice states, resurrecting one of his most-repeated catchphrases. "I just wasn't tough enough, I guess," Tice says, laughing and lamenting at the same time.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

This Week in Fogging (Nov 4)

[photo caption] Someone cue up the "Jaws" theme...he's baaaaccckkk...

St. Paul, Minn-

Basketball's back, which leads to this question:
How long until Ron Artest bites someone's ear off? Chomps a finger? Goes into the stands to attack a kid holding a can of popcorn? Wait...

Self-indulgent moment of the week:
Escaping to Dunn Bros. instead of giving sugar to snot-faced punks on Halloween. I don't like holidays. Or birthdays.

Just Because:
"Jokes n' jokes n' jokes n' jokes
Spaghetti spaghetti spaghetti"
-- Dave Chappelle

Humorous bumper sticker observed recently:
"Jesus loves you; Everyone else thinks you're an asshole."

Names I'd like to see the Vikings interview:
Herm Edwards (NY Jets); Jeff Fisher (Tennessee Titans); Brian Billick (Baltimore Ravens); Mark Richt (University of Georgia); Karl Dorrell (UCLA); Pete Carroll* (USC / *only if Norm Chow signs on to be the O.C.)

This computer is now:
Wireless (I can't rave enough about wireless computing. Absolutely amazing. I'm glad I quit building barns and furniture with my bare hands and came into the 21st Century.)

Best post on Craig's List in the past week:
"This is a note to whomever decided it would be a good idea to steal my Cinelli Argento Viva from 28th and Lyndale by the church, the one with the Schwinn cord lock on it and the leather Belt saddle. I dont appreciate it. Give it back. If I see you riding it I will call the police. If I see anyone with this bike I will call the cops. I know what it looks like and I would probably be able to spot it even if you painted it. This bike means a lot to me for reasons I dont want to get into. Im poor and it takes me a long time to buy nice things, I know its been a while since it was stolen, about a month but ive been busy. Anyway my names Benjamin 612 870 2576. Call me if you want to give it back. If you give it back there will be no problems, in fact I will probably give you a f-----g cookie. You probably think I just ditched it but no, I had intended to come and fetch it eventually, (the wheel fell off while I was riding it), I had another bike, a blue Motobecane but it got stolen that same week because I didnt lock it for like 2 seconds. Then I was borrowing my girlfriends bike and some crackhead pushed me off it to try and take it but by then I was all fed up with my bad bike mojo so I busted him in his nose and teeth. Anyway, you can see what a crappy time Ive been having in the world of bicycles, which is usually a magical whimsical land that brings me much joy and sparkling radiance, so, think about it, I have a photographic memory and I may see you riding it, I would then call the cops. They may not catch you then but I would remember what you look like and then Id see you at the wedge or something wearing one of those fake mustaches and glasses, one of those Groucho Marx getups, and I would have the cops there in a heartbeat so I could rip off your mustache all dramatic like and embarass you in front of all the yuppies. So, what Im trying to say is , Id like to have my bike back. Thank you. thornestockton2002@yahoo.com"

Best basketball movie ever:
[photo caption] Fletch: 6'5", 6'9" with afro.

Names I'd like to see the Vikings avoid like the plague:
Mike Tice; Dennis Erickson; Les Steckel; Jim Fassell; Ron Gardenhire; Dick Jauron; Ted Cottrell; Chris Palmer; Jimmy Rodgers; Dom Capers

Guilty Pleasure:
Casper and Runyon's Nook (Hamline at Randolph, St. Paul)

Humorous bumper sticker observed recently, redux:
"We're all wearing the blue dress now"

Just say "No" to Supersizing:
What did LA Lakers coach Phil Jackson do with his year off? My guess is that he ate. A lot. I feel bad for the buttons on this coat (photo below). That's cruel and unusual. Wow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Living in L.A.

[photo caption] Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and rival T-Mobile squad during Armstrong's farewell '05 Tour.

Paris, France --
Professional cyclists are all either a) doping, or b) dopers, just not at the moment. Seven-time Tour de France champions included.

The world of professional cycling, like the landscapes of so many other professional athletic pursuits, is rife with cheaters. Some cheats are more benign, illegally shaving ounces of the weight of a bike or illegally drafting off of team cars during a race. Other cheats, however, are more aggressive, positioning themselves at the forefront of biological and chemical research -- in other words, acting as pharmaceutical guinea pigs and gambling on desirable racing results.

The drug of choice among pro cyclists is undoubtedly EPO. EPO (short for Erythropoietin, pronounced ah-rith-ro-poy-tin) is a protein hormone naturally produced by the kidneys. When the EPO comes into contact with bone marrow, red blood cell production is stimulated. As red blood cells carry oxygen, introducing artificial EPO into the body is designed to produce greater amounts of red blood cells and thus a greater amount of fuel for the cyclist in the form of oxygen.

A greater capacity for oxygen storage and usage is the holy grail of cycling.

Casual observers of cycling often wonder why, if an athlete is going to cheat, they don't just take designer steroids or human growth hormones (HGH) like other pro athletes, like baseball players. The short answer is that some riders do -- but not for the same reasons as their mitted counterparts. While baseballers attempt to build muscle, cyclists inbibe in steroids or HGH to repair muscle. To a cyclist, adding muscle is akin to cycling with lead weights attached to the bike -- adding muscle adds weight and weight is an enemy.

It is this fear of weight that keeps most riders away from steroids.

Anti-doping authorities have wised to the usage of oxygen-enhancers like EPO, however. By introducing hemacrit checks and innovative tests that can detect the difference between natural and artificial EPO have made cyclists recalibrate their methodology.

Some riders now only dope during the off-season, using drugs like EPO as training enhancers. As artificial EPO takes several weeks to leave the body, many otherwise talented riders are notably absent from early-season races. Coincidence?

Additionally, some riders have begun to harvest their own red blood cells, then to re-introduce them into the body at strategic times. This form of "blood doping" is completely undetectable.

As the off-season shenanigans begin, plans for next seasons racing schedule are being unveiled. Last Thursday, the grand poobas of the Tour de France unveiled the course for the '06 race. In classic European fashion, outgoing Tour Director Jean-Marie Leblanc used the opportunity to once again drag Lance Armstrong's name through the mud.

"Without doubt ... what we have learned has increased the lassitude toward him," Leblanc said. "He was not irreproachable in '99. EPO is a doping product. So this tempers and dilutes his performances and his credibility as a champion."

Leblanc, of course, is referring to allegations published in a French newspaper this August. The newspaper alleged that a vial of Armstrong's blood, taken during the '99 Tour, had tested postive for EPO. Armstrong made a well-publicized and ill-planned defense broadcast nationally on Larry King Live days after the allegations surfaced.

[photo caption] Jean-Marie Leblanc and Lance Armstrong during happier times at the 2004 Tour de France.

Johan Bruyneel, Director Sportif of Armstrong's former team (Discovery Channel) was angered by Leblanc's outburst.

"I felt targeted," Bruyneel said, explaining, "They talk for 12 minutes about ethics rather than presenting the race itself. I would have taken a different direction."

Though Armstrong was never disqualified from a race or sanctioned by the UCI (cycling's international governing body) during his career, there has always been an air of mystery and a shroud of suspicion around him. In fact, during the '99 Tour, one of Armstrong's urine samples did come back positive (for steroids). Though the finding was overturned due to a doctor's prescription of corticosteroid skin cream (for saddle sores), rarely has another rider been cleared of such a high concentration of a banned substance, skin cream or not.

In his international best seller, Lance Armstrong's War (2005), acclaimed author Daniel Coyle did little to quell the rumors. Coyle, while writing as an "embedded" sports journalist with the blessing of both Armstrong and his Discovery Channel team, carefully laid out the case, albeit circumstantial and anecdotal, against Armstrong.

"[Former Amstrong mechanic Mike Anderson] said he was cleaning the bathroom in Armstrong's Girona apartment when he found a white box bearing...a trademark name for Androgen, a banned steroid," Coyle writes. He also relates Armstrong's reaction, again according to Anderson, when informed that Belgian cycling great Johann Museeuw had been pinched for doping. "Everyone does it," Coyle attributes to Armstrong.
[photo caption] The legacy-impaired Johann Museeuw.

Armstrong and Anderson now have countersuits on-going against one another, challenging the validity of Anderson's contract and Armstrong's breach of contract, respectively.

Ultimately, the truth may be revealed by reviewing the death certificates of pro cyclists. Prolonged use of EPO -- especially at high levels -- can be lethal. Several studies (including one by Rice University used as a basis in this article) warn that EPO can severely shorten life-expectancies.

One only hopes professional cycling can cleanse itself before there are no cyclists left.