This is a new weekly column from Leitch. It has words, and pictures. It's called Ten Humans Of The Week. It might or might not work. But here it is.
It can be difficult to keep your optimism during times such as these. The world economy is imploding, everyone's terrified for their jobs and now other countries are embracing their leaders accused of war crimes. Sure, baseball's starting — and the MLB At Bat iPhone application is AWESOME this year, said the douche — but it's terrifying out there.
Well, sorry guys, but I'm about to make it worse: Someone just told me about the Conficker virus that's supposed to attack the Internet tomorrow. What's the Conficker virus? Here's Slate's Farhad Manjoo:
Conficker is far from the Internet's first serious malware attack. But it is perhaps the most well-thought-out and technically cunning ever to hit it big. The word worm conjures up something ugly, inelegant, even dumb. Conficker is anything but-it's the Bugatti of worms, every element exquisitely crafted to advance a single goal: in this case, total control of your machine. To read the security reports documenting Conficker's technical details is to be at once astonished and impressed by its professor Moriarty-type planning. The C variant, for instance, includes a subroutine that claws back at any efforts to remove it. It disables Windows services that patch your machine, prevents your computer from loading up into "safe mode" (a key way to fight nasty malware), and continually scans for and shuts down any security programs that might pose a threat-including the most commonly used Conficker-removal programs.
Holy crap, they're shutting down the Internet tomorrow! Man, I better make this final column worth it. (Note: Final column will not, in fact, be worth it.) Are we sure this isn't just some complicated plan to save newspapers? I always thought the Internet Finally Turning Against Us stories were just the plots of Shia Labeouf and Keanu Reeves movies, but it appears the day is finally upon us. I hope you enjoyed your grammatically challenged cats, your chocolate rains, your 2 Girls 1 Cup, your Chuck Norris facts, your Ron Paul. I hope we will look back at these times with hope in our hearts. It really was a great ride everybody, wasn't it? It was all worth every minute.
Skip Bayless. I'm writing this column on a Virgin America flight from New York to Los Angeles, and some guy in front of me is watching "First And 10," a show, I'm actually rather proud to admit, I have not watched since I sat through those 24 Straight Hours Of ESPN for the book. ("First And 10" started out as a spinoff from "Cold Pizza," which is completely crazy. If I may get my Fake Rick Reilly on for a moment, that's like spinning off a show from "Cop Rock!") Anyway, because I can't hear what he's saying, I'm watching Bayless gesticulate like mad on this guy's little television, and it's completely hypnotic. If you just watch Skip Bayless without sound, the experience transforms itself into some sort of performance art: The Wiry, Shifty Man, A Study In Excess Motion. It makes you wonder how our culture evolved to the point that this man was deemed worthy and valued enough to be put on television. And that's when you can't hear what he's saying. It's enough to make you start questioning man's ultimate purpose in the universe. I am dead serious about this: Set your DVR to record "First And 10" before you leave for work tomorrow, and then, when you get home, light a joint and watch it with the sound off. It will be a transcendental experience: You won't be able to look away, and down down down the rabbit hole you will go. Ride the bus, tune in, drop out.
Oh, by the way: Is it just me, or is Jemele Hill getting really hot?
John Calipari. I dunno: I think I would have stayed in Memphis. I'm not sure there's a better job in sports than coaching Memphis. All you have to do is recruit a bunch of blue-chippers, teach them three or four defensive plays, stretch your legs for a bit and then sit back and watch your team destroy SMU, Rice and Central Florida for four months. And at the end, they give you a No. 2 seed! If you then lose in the tournament, you can just say, "Well, we didn't have enough quality competition during the season" and do the same thing next year. Being a college basketball coach has to be a miserable enough job, with all the alumni glad-handing, convincing meal-ticket parents that you really, really do care about their son, really, and having to dodge Andy Katz's phone calls. Why would you want to give all that up to go live in Kentucky, where everyone expects you to win the national championship every year? John Calipari once gave me some career advice, so the least I can do is give him some myself: Stay in Memphis! They have better food there, anyway.
Tom Elliott. I spent Sunday afternoon at Citi Field. It's a lovely place, almost too nice: It's like they've built a neighborhood stadium that happens to sit in the middle of a neighborhood with nothing but nasty chop shops and urban blight. It was like that before, of course, but now you can see it. It's still a nice stadium, though, and I enjoyed watching St. John's and Georgetown's college teams play there. They're so cute at that age, even if you should never, ever have to hear the PING of an aluminum bat at a Major League Baseball stadium. I marked who hit the first home run and who scored the first run in Citi Field history, and I am proud to report that the kid who knocked the first base hit at the new park is ... a Deadspin reader! Yep, Tom Elliott, Georgetown shortstop, knocked a single in bottom half of the first inning, and the next morning, he emailed me. "I play for the Georgetown University baseball team and I could have sworn as we were walking out to the field today I saw you walking around under the stadium. I yelled your name and then I yelled 'Yo deadspin' but i guess you didn't hear it." Hopefully Tom will forgive me not answering to the name of the Web site I used to run — and also not hearing him — but I am incredibly encouraged and hopeful that the future professional athletes will have been reading Deadspin while in college. You need something to do during class while the team managers take notes for you, and let's hope Deadspin continues to provide that distraction for years to come. Bully for you, Tom Elliott, even if your picture makes you look more like a yachter than a baseball player. By the way; Elliott is a Phillies fan.
Gus Johnson. OK, I'm gonna just come out and say it: I think Gus Johnson has worn out his welcome with me. What started out as legitimate enthusiasm and child-like exuberance is beginning to feel like schtick. Schtick is fine, of course: I am not sure why Bill Raftery is yelling "Onions" so often, but I still kind of love it. But Raftery's got a base level of college basketball expertise. I'm not sure Johnson does: I think, honestly, that he's just waiting for a reason to start screaming because he's had so many people telling him that's why they love him. It is one thing to add to the thrill of a moment by sounding like an actual fan of the sport rather than a smugly unimpressed automatron (witness the last three years of Joe Buck). It is another to actually sound disappointed because you're not going to be able to scream as much as you would like. If Johnson is broadcasting a 12-point win, rather than a last-second jumper, he brings nothing to the broadcast. The reason we associate Johnson with great tournament moments is because his screams seem like audible personifications of the endorphins of an amazing game: My brain was whirring with Johnson Gutteral Utterances while watching the end of the Villanova-Pittsburgh game. But most games aren't like that. And when Johnson doesn't have anything to scream about … let's face it, gang, he's a pretty lousy announcer.
Andy Murray. As you might remember from my tenure as "editor" of this site, hockey is not exactly my strong suit. To say the least. And in general, like any sports fan, I find it annoying when a team I've been cheering for all year makes the playoffs, a bunch of people pop in out of nowhere and start rooting for them like they cared the whole time. It's a sin, really: It's against the whole spirit of everything. All that said: GO ST. LOUIS BLUES! Playoff hockey is legitimately thrilling when you have a rooting interest, and I've decided that if the Blues — who, according to my cursory glance at the Post-Dispatch Web site, have struggled with injuries and inability to score all season — end up making the playoffs, I'm dusting off my 15-year-old St. Louis Blues jersey and becoming The Super Duper No. 1 Blues Fan! Yeah! I'll watch Slap Shot to get myself fired up and make sure I support all the moves of ... let's see here ... come on Wikipedia ... Andy Murray, head coach of the St. Louis Blues! I love these guys! I've suffered with them so long!
Michael Oher. Because I don't want to get in yet ANOTHER argument with Drew about the Draft, I won't reiterate how much my eyes glaze over every time someone starts talking about the NFL Draft. (For the record, though, I'll say this: If you happen to find yourself with a Sporting News column, I highly advise you against ever implying that it's a little creepy to watch 20-year-olds in run sprints and lift weights in their undergarments, particularly in a column that has your email address attached. Sporting News readers really, really like the NFL Draft, apparently.) I would like to talk about Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher, whose "stock" has been "rising," whatever the hell that means. Oher, of course, is the focus of Michael Lewis' book "The Blind Side," where he's portrayed as a good-hearted, slightly dim kid who has had a tough life and just happens to have the exact right body type to be a franchise-changing left tackle. He ends up being "adopted" by a family of Ole Miss boosters, who help him get his grades in order so he can dominate for the
Bulldogs Rebels. Here's what I've never understood about this book: Doesn't Michael Lewis know that family is just using Oher in a weird, obsessive way that completely lacks any sort of emotional perspective? I mean, Lewis almost makes the family look heroic, though, obviously they wouldn't give two shits about Michael Oher, let alone let him live in their home, if he weren't going to make the Mississippi Bulldogs Rebels football team better. Lewis paints the family like this altruistic brood who just wants to help out this kid who's had a hard life. Is he serious? The point of Lewis' book seems to be that Oher is a human being who has been turned into a product … but he somehow ignores the blatant opportunism of that family, just staring at him. Lewis is a wonderful writer and extremely smart: He must have seen through that family, right? Is the whole book an in-joke at their expense? I love "Moneyball" but honestly, "The Blind Side " absolutely drives me crazy. I still have no idea what Lewis was getting at there. But hey! Michael Oher! Stock rising!
Bob Saget. They're giving Bob Saget another sitcom. I have to say, I thought Saget's sitcom days were over after "The Aristocrats," when he told the most disgusting, repulsive version of the world's most disgusting, repulsive joke, or in his standup special, in which he seemed to imply that he had slept with both the Olson twins. I thought that was kind of the point: That Bob Saget, flush with sitcom cash, could feel free to tear apart his supposed clean-cut image and just start tearing the world apart. Incest? Excremental frotterism? Octogeneraian beastiality? Bring it on! And now he's back as sitcom dad, which feels like cheating. Also: A show about a family buying a house and moving out to the suburbs? TIMELY! And I have now officially given more thought to the career of Bob Saget than any other human being, and this includes Bob Saget. You have betrayed me, Saget!
Eddie Vedder. It seems unfair to single out Vedder here, since he's just the dude who sings, but even as someone who immediately turns all pretend music snob on anyone who claims Pearl Jam was even on the same planet as Nirvana, I'm loving the Brendan O'Brien remix of "Ten" that just came out. He's turned up the guitars, and the album, for the first time, sounds like the producer had some clue of what he was doing. (Now, can we get one of these for Metallica's "And Justice For All ..." please? Sometimes, kids, bass is good.) It's been a good week for Pearl Jam, the band that people in their mid-30s like Daulerio and Bill Simmons (not exactly in his mid-30s, but whatever) can talk themselves into thinking are the Rolling Stones. The band's working on a new album and, most important, they've even got indie rappers covering "Why Go" in rather amazing fashions? Plus, if you ever wanted to pick up a sad still-single late '30s girl who drinks heavily so they don't have to ask where it all went wrong, there is nothing, nothing better than a Pearl Jam concert. (Ed. note: Eat me.)
Dontrelle Willis. A few years ago, when Dontrelle Willis was just the smiling, happy kid with the crazy leg kick, he was arrested and charged with public urination and a DUI. Everything has gone downhill, fast, after that, and it really is a shame: He was an absolute joy to watch. Plus, I love the idea that you can put a guy on the DL because he's just all of a sudden terrible and you're paying him a ridiculous amount of money. Anxiety disorder will work, sure. Can you put all of Tigers management on the DL for that? (Even Dontrelle doesn't know what it means.) I think we all hope Dontrelle can get his act together. Can somebody teach him the knuckleball?
Tiger Woods. As if one cue, right after Reilly's monthly oh, yeah, when he tries, he's actually good column openly wondering whether or not Tiger can really come all the way back, Woods wins a tournament and gives Andy North an erection all over again. I can't think of an athlete, not even Jordan, who makes middle-aged white men wax more rhapsodic than Tiger Woods. I think it's because to them, being the best in the world at golf is just about the best thing a human being could do. And you know what? I still root for Tiger Woods to win every tournament too. When he wins, it turns Lying Around On Sunday Not Doing Anything into Being A Party To History ... and you don't even have to move! I'd rather him win than any of the other guys, and not just because I don't know any other golfers other than Phil Mickelson and John Daly, the world's only interesting golfer. But man: If it ever turns out that Tiger used steroids, the media planet will spontaneously combust. It'll be like a supernova during an eclipse: It'll turn everyone into that movie Blindness. It'll be good for XM Satellite Radio stock, anyway.