Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How Long Before We See Another Jeter?

In the sense I'm thinking about, I would say we'll never see another one.

In the Captain's final year, every pundit and sportscaster under the sun will ponder Jeter's all-time place among Yankees and among shortstops. I've got something far less pertinent to consider: Mickey Mantle was the The Last Boy, and I think Derek Jeter is "The Last Playboy".


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Absurd Is This Felton Story?

Five quick thoughts on today's story about Raymond Felton's arrest on gun charges:

1. Plaxico Burress was put behind bars for two years after shooting himself in the leg in a New York City nightclub. That happened in 2008. Felton didn't become a Knick until almost two years later, in 2010. 2010 also happens to be the year that Gilbert Arenas was suspended for the season after bringing guns into the Wizards locker room. What's that old saying about moronic athletes who are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history?

2. Speaking of those Wizards, are the Knicks the most dysfunctional team since? Or have Jim Dolan's 'Bockers even surpassed that Washington squad and moved within striking distance of the Jail Blazers?

3. Raymond Felton's wife is named Ariane Raymondo-Felton. I can't decide if that's more or less ridiculous than the name LaLa.

4. Only the Knicks could find a way to relegate last night's stomach-punch loss to the backburner so quickly.

So... kudos to Felton for diverting our attention!

5. Look on the bright side, Ray. Eighteen months on a prison diet might help you de-pudge a bit.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How Villainous Are These Child Characters?

You know those random days when it seems like there's an inordinate amount of great TV? Well, Saturday was one of those days. First, the USA-Finland bronze-medal game (funeral) aired in the morning. Then, my two favorite college basketball teams -- St. John's and Notre Dame -- played in the afternoon. At the same time, Scarface and an Indiana Jones marathon showed. And, of course, there was the movie I ended up watching for more time than the others -- D2: The Mighty Ducks.

The second installment of The Mighty Ducks series reminds us of several universal truths:
1. The triple deke is the most important move in hockey.
2. All Texans are cowboys.
3. All fat kids play goalie.
4. All Nordic people are evil.

That last one got my buddy Jimmy and me talking. Is there a more villainous child character than Gunnar Stahl? We both agreed that there is not. With Gunnar leading the way, here's our top 10:

How Scorching Are the Heat? (Power Rankings, Week 17)

The trade deadline passed without much action. It seemed like no team wanted to bloody its title chances by getting an important player stolen. Nevertheless, there was still plenty of great action on the court.

In the first post-All-Star power rankings, the defending champion Miami Heat won five straight to inherit the top spot for the first time since the opening week of the season. Meanwhile, last week's top-ranked team -- Oklahoma City -- fell to No. 5 after Russell Westbrook returned for back-to-back losses.

Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at the surging Heat and the declining Portland Trail Blazers.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

How Did the Sports City Vote Go?

In January, Kavanaugh and I drafted our favorite sports cities in the country.

Here's how we drafted:
1. San Francisco (BK)
2. Boston (FT)
3. New York City (BK)
4. Chicago (FT)
5. Phoenix (BK)
6. Chapel Hill (FT)
7. Philadelphia (BK)
8. Indianapolis (FT)
9. New Orleans (BK)
10. Denver (FT)

After the draft, I asked our readers to vote for their favorite sports city. Here's how that shook out:
1. New York City (15 votes)
2. Boston (9 votes)
3-tie. Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver (4 votes each)
6-tie. San Francisco, Indianapolis, Other (2 votes each)
9-tie. New Orleans, Chapel Hill (1 vote each)
11. Phoenix (0 votes)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How Did We Draft the Best TV Couples?

We've grown to love these silly little drafts at How Blank after picking our top sports cities and our favorite Golden Globe nominees. This time, we drafted our favorite TV couples ever. 

FranT: Kerry and I just came in from the obligatory Valentine's Day Dinner, where we saw a bunch of couples enjoying each other's company, or at least pretending to do so. So here's the next draft idea: The Greatest Television Couples. Five picks each; no further guidelines are needed. You have the first pick since you're the away team in this one.

Kavanaugh:  Yeah, Caitlin and I saw a lot of the same. This will be a good draft. My first pick is Jim Halpert and Pam Beasley. They are funny throughout The Office's lifespan, as a couple and individually. And seasons 1-3 -- watching Jim flirt with her and give that pining look over to her --were heartbreaking but so great to watch. The "Dinner Party" episode is one of my favorites because of its focus on the couples dynamic, and how Jim and Pam act in a terrible situation is something every couple can aspire to.

Photo via

How Are NBA Players Similar to 24 Characters?

The most addictive show I've ever watched -- 24 -- is returning to FOX for a 12-episode series entitled "Live Another Day," beginning on May 5. In honor of the show's triumphant return, here are the NBA stars most similar to 24 characters. (Warning: Spoilers abound.)

Kevin Durant -- Jack Bauer

(Photos via and

Durant's been the calmest, deadliest player in the game this year, especially after losing running-mate Russell Westbrook for a few months. Similarly, Jack becomes even more cold-blooded after the death of his wife in Season 1. He tortures Russian assassins and American traitors like Durant has been torturing NBA defenses all season.

Monday, February 17, 2014

How Solid Are the Spurs? (Power Rankings, Week 16)

Even with this week's abbreviated schedule due to the All-Star Game, we saw some great games and one of the signature moments of the season so far. In Sunday's showcase of stars, we winessed an East victory (Who knew???) despite the continued dominance of Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin.

Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at the business-as-usual San Antonio Spurs and the rejuvenated Charlotte Bobcats.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How Has It Been One Year? (Happy Birthday, How Blank!)

It's been one year, 203 posts, two epic drafts, countless skell jokes, a bunch of teasing from my family members about "Fran's blog," and one B-list celebrity sighting. Now, it's finally time to say:

Last year on this day, I posted a few thoughts about spring training, and so How Blank began. A few days later, I wrote this:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Much Will I Miss Jeter's Yankees?

I posted this story during Mariano Rivera's farewell tour last fall, but with Derek Jeter's announced retirement this afternoon, it seems appropriate again. #FarewellCaptain

I was talking to my dad the other night about how the conclusion of this Yankees season can only be described using the cliché "the end of an era." Mo's gone. Pettitte's retiring again, but this time for good. Jeter's on his last legs (leg?). End of an era, for sure.

Then, I thought about it a little more. My dad grew up during the Mantle era, partied through his mid-twenties watching the Bronx Zoo Yanks, and suffered with Mattingly's Quadruple-A teams. For him, this is absoultely the end of an era. The completion of another epoch in his baseball life.

But for me? These are the Yankees I've watched since I first discovered the game. It's the end of the only era of baseball I've ever known.

How Tremendous Is the Name Bruce?

Last night I was watching Braveheart (the top pick in our Movie Draft), and I went to bed right after Robert the Bruce betrayed William. As I lay in bed, I started thinking about all of the memorable guys named Bruce. Here are my favorites:

The Best Bruces Ever

No. 131,235: Robert the Bruce's Leprous Father
When I was in college, there was a dining hall worker that we called "The Guy with the F---ed-Up Face." I suppose it was a pretty mean nickname. Anyways, the point is that Robert the Elder in Braveheart has a way more f---ed-up face than "The Guy with the F---ed-Up Face." Also, he's a complete prick who betrays his country and his country's greatest hero.

No. 10: Jay Bruce
Bruce has turned into a consistent 30 homer-100 RBI guy for the Reds, and they have him signed through 2016. His parents should have named him Bruce Bruce, though.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How Would March Madness Look if Every Player Stayed 4 Years?

One of my favorite things to discuss is NBA players and where they played their college basketball - what school has the best pros, mid majors vs. majors, what active players have an NCAA championship, etc.. So in the spirit of "what if?" and my most recent post, how would this year's national title race look if every college basketball player stayed at his school for 4 years?

Monday, February 10, 2014

How Would the NBA Look in Films? (Power Rankings, Week 15)

NBA Week 15, in films:
--LeBron and Blake as Space Jam
--The Lakers as Hoosiers
--Hedo Turkoglu as Dirty Dancing
--The Knicks as Dazed and Confused
--A tomahawking Quincy Acy as The Last of the Mohicans
--John Wall as Thief

In this week's power rankings, there are no changes in the top five -- Oklahoma City, Indiana, Miami, Houston, and the Clippers. Further down the list, the Bobcats and Magic both climbed a few spots and the snakebitten Nuggets dropped to No. 18.

Following the complete rankings, we'll take a deeper look at the surging Houston Rockets and the stumbling Atlanta Hawks.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How Different Would Characters Be?

Playing "what if" is a dangerous game, right up there with a certain Peach Lake game that involves a beer, a lighter, and a single paper towel sheet...

And it's just as fun as that! And when you play "what if" with sports, movies, and pop culture, there are no losers. In fact, we are all winners that the following scenarios in movies and TV did not happen. Here are the biggest cast-changes, plot changes, and "almosts" in recent history. Imagine how different it might have been. The large majority of these will seem like the right choice was made in the end, but this is something I've always struggled with - do we really believe that one actor played a certain role better than another one could have, or have we just become so accustomed to one that we carry a heavy bias, and really the other actor could have done a fine job? I have no idea, but that's what makes it fun to wonder.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

How Annoying Are Some Sports Noises?

Last week I was talking to my uncle, and he mentioned how he couldn't tolerate youth basketball because of the noise. He said that he loves going to his kids' soccer and baseball games, but his ears rebel against the sounds of a gymansium. He hates the squeak of sneakers on the floor, the screech of a referee's whistle, and the interminable thud of bouncing balls. I don't have a huge problem with those sounds, mostly because I associate them with fun games of hoops when I was younger.

What I can't stand, though, is another staple of basketball games -- the buzzer. The buzzer always seems to be set to a volume of 1,408 decibels,* regardless of the age of the players, the lack of people in the gym, or the relative unimportance of the game. It's always loud.

*Is 1,408 decibels a lot? It sounds like it is.

The buzzer got me thinking about several other annoying sports sounds.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How Would Fictional Cars Perform in Real Life?

I was shoveling out my wife's Hyundai this afternoon after some Neanderthal blew all the snow from his driveway on top of it. Apparently, in the face of extreme weather, New Yorkers become the obnoxious stereotype everyone else has of us. As I was shoveling blocks of ice that global warming theorists say are now non-existent, I longed to own a Canyonero instead of the small Hyundai. For those of you that don't know, the Canyonero is an SUV endorsed by Krusty the Klown on The Simpsons.

The Canyonero is "12 yards long and two lanes wide, 65 tons of American pride," and it would have absolutely demolished New York City's weather the last few weeks.

So what other fictional cars would I like to see in real-life scenarios? Glad you asked!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Crafty Are These Con Artists?

Joe Posnanski, who I've mentioned before as one of my favorite baseball scribes, is currently writing a terrific series about the top 100 players ever. Ernie Banks was No. 55 on the list, and Posnanski wrote this:

"[Banks] expressed that joy for baseball in everything he did -- in the way he walked, the way he talked, the way he played every single game, the way he made it feel like he was exactly where he wanted to be -- no place on earth would be better.

'Maybe it's sacrilege but I believe Banks was a con artist,' John Roseboro said. 'No one smiles all the time, naturally, unless they're putting you on and putting you on. Every day of our lives isn't a good one.'"

I love that story for a bunch of reasons, including the fact that I love all Ernie Banks stories. But the thought of Banks as a con artist also got me thinking about some of my favorite con artists. This is one of the most unnatural segues* of all-time, but here are my top 10:

*Speaking of segue, have you seen the SEGWIZZLE! video, in which I stole a Segway?

Top 10 Con Artists

How Does College Basketball Compare to College Football?

College football ended a few weeks ago and the NFL season ended Sunday night. If you live your life on a sports calendar like I do, then it’s time to focus squarely on college basketball* if you haven’t been already. Saturday's Duke vs. Syracuse game was the perfect "hey, look at me!" game for college hoops on the national radar. But what does it mean to switch over from the pigskin to the round ball? The cultures, traditions, and nuances that make up these games are both great, but are very different. I know it’s a little overdue, but I’m glad I asked.

*The NBA is always on the radar, because it’s the best.

The College Hoops vs. College Football Breakdown:

Monday, February 3, 2014

How Strong Is Indy's Defense? (Power Rankings, Week 14)

I feel like in recent weeks some of my power rankings introductions have gotten a little out-of-hand. With that in mind, I'm going to speed past the intro and just plow through my rankings.

In this week's power rankings, the Thunder -- who lost to the Wizards on Saturday for their first defeat in 11 games -- overtook the Pacers for the top spot. Meanwhile, the slumping Spurs dropped to No. 7. Memphis -- who we covered in detail last week -- continued its surge up the rankings, landing in the No. 9 slot.

Following the complete rankings, we'll take a deeper look at the Indiana Pacers and the never-say-die Chicago Bulls.