Formula One Trash Talk: The Circus Comes To Oz Town

Hi there Wheel, Empty, and and otherwise gear heads, it is time for Spring Trash Talk. There is a lot under foot, Spring Training in Major League Baseball, free agency season and pending entry draft in the NFL, the somewhat diminished fortunes of the NBA and, most of all, FORMULA ONE! The Circus season is upon us, and it is starting down under in the Land of Oz.

Appears we are starting off where we left off: there is yet no reason to believe the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are anything less than the cars to beat. But, that being said, there is also no reason to think that the Ferrari and McLarens are anything less than the threat that they were at the end of last season. Drivers make a difference in F1, and Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are very, very good drivers. And their cars are not chopped liver either. For the clear superiority of the Red Bulls, and even the McLarens for that matter, Fernando Alonso pulled off one of the greatest performances in the history of F1 with inferior equipment last year. Alonso was only 3 measly points behind Vettel in the final Driver’s standings. Simply astonishing.

The opening two practice sessions for the Australian GP were late last night my time; i.e. between 9 pm and 12 am whatever the heck time AZ is. (Daylight savings time really screws with our heads here, cause we don’t do that). Bottom line…..not much has changed.

Okay, if I were pleading guilty (I would never!) to a heinous offense under truth serum to make sure I was cray cray (yeah, okay, this is some stupid shit too) I MIGHT admit that a lot of this post was written from a series of taco joints in Old Town Scottsdale. It is nowhere near as opulent as it sounds; hell even the mariachi music is piped in like Muzak. And the 60 something threesome at the table next to me looks like their Winnebago may be illegally parked out on Camelback Road.

Where were we? Okay, back to the Australian GP. Here is what Brad Spurgeon thought:

Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel have won all the titles for the last three seasons. Vettel became only the third driver in Formula One history to win three drivers’ titles in a row, after Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s and Michael Schumacher last decade. Only Schumacher, Fangio and Alain Prost have won more than three titles, with seven, five and four, respectively. So both Vettel and the team have more pressure on them than ever. Still, Red Bull has the advantage of the consistency of keeping the same two drivers and technical team, and Mark Webber is still pushing for his own final career chances to capture the drivers’ title. With the great designer Adrian Newey leading the way, Red Bull should remain among the strongest.

As a lifelong aficionado of Scuderia Ferrari, I would kill to demur. But, I cannot; I think that is right. Still. As to the beloved Prancing Horse, well, from the lens of the season start, it will take another superhuman drive for the ages by Fernando Alonso to keep Ferrari in the chips.

That leaves McLaren and Mercedes fighting for sloppy thirds. Maybe it will come to be that one will blast out of nowhere to be a contender for King Vettel’s Crown, but it is really hard to see. Lewis Hamilton proved himself to be a self absorbed punk at the more superior team, McLaren; now he will try to do what Michael Schumacher could not at fast, but unreliable, Mercedes. Please. Juan Pablo Montoya performed better and was sent packing to NASCAR.

For all the sturm and drang, for all the off season shuffle, the Championship will still be fought for between Red Bull and Ferrari, with a decided advantage to the former.

Let the Circus games begin!

And, then, there is the NFL free agency merrygoround. Heck, I do not know who are the winners and losers at this point. But, a quick take says the Steelers and Cardinals, the teams of local pricks bmaz and Scribe, did not do well.To be kind. Probably nobody did worse than the Cardinals, who signed an aging punt return specialist that even the Cleveland Browns did not care about anymore, and let go Kevin Kolb, the only even practice squad level NFL quarterback they had. Seriously, what kind of addled mentally challenged assholes are running the Cardinals? Oh, wait, it is still the fucking Bidwell family. Who could have guessed from this level of rank pathetic incompetence??

The Deetroit Kittehs seem to have done very well. If they can keep their peeps healthy and out of the klink, they may have the greatest show on fake turf. The Pats lost Welker’s whining wife (and shitloads of clutch catches in the slot and over the middle) BUT gained a sometimes fragile Danny Amendola. Amendola was the successor in kind at the Pirate attack fun/gun at Texas Tech. Amendola is actually every bit the route runner, and even faster, than Welker. But he ain’t as predictable, nor as reliable, as Welker. This could be a wash, or it could be a loss. Time will tell. The Pat’s defense and, especially, secondary looks to be much improved.

Other than the above, the Squawks got Percy Harvin and some other studs, and the Niners got some too. Whoo weee baybee, the gold rush is on on the left coast.

MLB is in Spring Training; let me tell ya something brother, it is fucking hot here. The NBA is in the stretch run, but the only question of interest I see is what lower seed will the Lakers fill? 8? 7? 6 looks bleak, but not impossible; though I would be shocked. We will return to that in a roundball post later. As we will with the student athletes for March Madness, and very soon.

Rock it, Talk it, Jayhawkit. Get yer sweve on Wheelies. Light it up.

Music by BB King, Bono and the band.

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48 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    @jo6pac: Dude, THAT is a a winner position.

    At some point, Phred will roll on in and feel jealous.

    The Wheelhouse has a certain rhythm and function to it you know.

  2. JohnT says:

    Habemus Packem (Greg Jennings). Called it

    Kinda pains me to say this, but, as of right now, the Squawks are the favorite on the left coast

    And the Chiefs are making a lot of good moves. Watch out Donkos

    Go Giants! Matt Cain’s Top Ten

  3. bmaz says:

    @JohnT: Sooooooo, that kind of lets the ‘Ole Gunslinger off the hook then, huh?

    Cause if GJ can go Norske, how can it have been so bad that Brett did?

  4. P J Evans says:

    I remember having really tasty Sonora-style enchiladas verdes in Phoenix once. I never did figure out where the heck it was in any detail – and I was sober at the time.

  5. Jim White says:

    @dakine01: That was some smack-down they took from what until now has been an abysmal Vandy team. Of course, it helped that the tourney is a home game for Vandy this year.

    I didn’t get to watch that game because I was freezing my butt off at the baseball game where the Gators, who were 8-10 in an unexpectedly horrid start to the season took on your Wildcats who were 14-2 and ranked ninth. Gators chose last night to start playing real baseball and took a huge step forward, beating the Cats 4-1.

    The game got chippy early, as our first baseman leveled your shortstop in a rundown. The shortstop jumped up and gave a big push and much yapping ensued on both sides. The Cats third baseman then grounded out and stepped on our first baseman’s foot as he crossed the bag, leading to even more yapping. Today and tomorrow should be very interesting. At least both games are noon starts, so my silk longjohns can stay at home.

  6. scribe says:

    The sad part of this thread is that EW, BMAz and I slung some mighty trash in the background as the free agency season opened. You could see in the emails the despair on EW’s face as the Patsies let one after another excellent receiver go, and the resignation that Bieber would get pounded and likely hurt more now that he has no one to dump off to.

    I, for one, do not think that the Stillers did quite as badly as the knee-walkin’ author of the main post suggested. In getting rid of last year’s holdout Wallace, the Stillers did lose a deep threat. But, it was Wallace’s holdout last summer that hurt the team early. He and Big Ben were not on the same sheet of music until about the time Ben got hurt, and that came from not practicing together. There were a number of instances in that earlier part of the season where a little more familiarity between them would have made the difference in the Win column. And the Steelers have a way of dealing with malcontents, bad behavers and prima donna receivers: they let them go into free agency. Ask Plexiglas Burris, Antwan Randle-El, Santonio Holmes and Joey Porter, to name four recent examples. Burris went to the Giants and prison before he came back, deeply chastened. Randle-El got to take his talents to Daniel Snyder-ville and the dysfunctional hell that was Washington a few years back. Holmes is one of the “leaders” of the Fat Rex J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS, so much so he got sit down for not trying in a late-season game. And Joey Porter: has anyone heard from him since he took his talents and mouth to South Beach?

    Yeah, those guys got paid and, in Burris case, a ring, too. Of course, there’s no knowing whether Burris had to hock that ring to pay his defense bills….

    Letting James Harrison go to free agency was tougher on the fans than the team. Stillers fans had and have a lot of emotional investment in their leading linebackers. Just look in the stands and see how many black/gold jerseys bearing Jack Lambert’s #58 are there, 29 years after he retired. But, it was a money thing and in today’s No Fun League, money rules. And Harrison is 35 and both slowing down and becoming more fragile. That he is still out there, available, this long into free agency confirms the team’s judgment on this. Look for him to keep himself in shape and possibly get picked up later, when someone needs his skills. In the meantime, as one Stillers fan put it, parents in Steeler Country will warn children to eat their vegetables lest James Harrison come to the house and make them.

    The one consolation is that the Ravens are going through a fire-sale dismantling on the level of what the Florida/Miami Marlins do every time they get good. By this time next week, Big Ben will have a much weaker Raven secondary and defense facing him, making the loss of Wallace not so noticeable.

    As to the Patsies – who is Bieber going to throw to now? Gronk proved himself to be more fragile than his size would imply. Welker and Edelman are both gone. Edelman proved himself very useful as a three-way player and I think the Chargers did well to pick him up. Welker was simply the guy Bieber could always go to and did. The team disrespected him, make no mistake, and Welker is taking it the right way – say the proper platitudes and be classy, then put it into on-field performance. I’m looking for him to have a multi-TD game the next time the Broncos meet the Patsies. He might even shake Cheatin’ Bill’s hand after the game.

    I hear the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS will have a quarterback competition, this time between Dirty Sanchez and Kolb. This, after Fat Rex did everything he could to ruin Tim Tebow’s chances and career (such as they were). I was within range of WFAN about the time Woody fired Tannenbaum and Fat Rex was hiding from the media at some off-shore location and recall the half-hour rant Francesa put on, with an intermediate point being that the J-E-T-S are a sewer and going further from there. He managed to avoid FCC-sanctionable language, but just barely. The real competition in the AFC East will be between the J-E-T-S and Buffalo to see which will be worse. While the Patsies may benefit, that ain’t saying much. Right now, the Broncos look to be the class of the AFC.

  7. scribe says:

    @scribe: And I forgot to mention that the Steelers have allowed the Cardinals to sign Mendenhall, known in Pittsburgh as “Fumblematic”. Earlier in his career, Coach Tomlin ran a disciplinary/training drill on Fumblematic in which he was obligated to carry a football everywhere. If a member of the defense was able to get the ball away from Fumblematic and make it all the way back to the defensive classrooms, Fumblematic owed that player a couple hundred bucks. While that lesson worked, over time Mendenhall was never truly cured of being Fumblematic. Over the last several seasons, there were a couple instances in which his fumbles at key moments adversely affected the Stillers’ playoff results.

    Add to that Fumblematic’s manner of approaching the offensive line. I cannot count the number of times he took a handoff, got a good head of steam and … stopped in the backfield looking for a hole. While the apparent lack of a hole was not entirely his doing – the O-line had a lot to do with the hole being missing, play-calling shared some fault there, too – stopping dead in his tracks (or making a spin move!) turned a no- or short-gain run into a guaranteed loss every time.

    Can’t say seeing him leave town for AZ, where Cards fans can enjoy his ineptitude alongside whomever their QB is, is not a bad thing for the Steelers.

    Willie Colon, another of the Stillers’ discards, was one of the always-hurt on the O-line. More of the Stillers’ offensive woes over the past couple years can be traced to a constantly hurt and constantly changing O-line than just about anything else. In fact, in pure W-L terms, the Stillers have overperformed. The way their O-line played (or sat, hurt) would have justified much worse records.

    Another one whose back leaving town is a welcome sight.

  8. bmaz says:

    Also, apparently, there is a sport known as “hockey” and the Blackhawks and Mighty Ducks are ripping the league up.

  9. What Constitution? says:

    So y’all can arrange your calendars and travel, word is that Saturday, April 13 is Mike Trout Bobblehead Night at Angel Stadium. Hoping for a worthy encore season from that guy. And while I hadn’t been following it yet, I got motivated here and it looks like Trout is hitting .407 in eleven pre-season games, not too discouraging.

  10. dakine01 says:

    @Jim White: Yeah, it was bad enough to lose to Vandy in Nashville last night but the beat down was the worst part. FWIW, though Vandy was hitting pretty much everything they threw up at the basket.

    As far as the baseball cats are concerned, I haven’t really been following them that closely as yet. After all, I actually follow the Hilltoppers first and foremost (and have my red towel at the ready for tomorrow night and whenever they have to play next week)

  11. scribe says:

    @scribe: oops.

    I said, about Fumblematic:
    “Can’t say seeing him leave town for AZ, where Cards fans can enjoy his ineptitude alongside whomever their QB is, is not a bad thing for the Steelers.”

    I meant: “Can’t say seeing him leave town for AZ, where Cards fans can enjoy his ineptitude alongside whomever their QB is, is a bad thing for the Steelers.”

  12. Nigel says:

    You’re probably right about Red Bull (at least for the early part of the season), bmaz, but there are some slightly lazy assumptions there about the scrap for second place.
    McLaren seem to be nowhere just now – I’ve never seen a team principal give a more downbeat interview that Martin Whitmarsh did yesterday. They might be a factor in two or three races’ time, but forget them for this one.

    You don’t even mention Lotus, and there seems little to separate Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes, all of whom have very strong driver lineups now that Massa has recovered his speed.
    It’s over a year since Hamilton was a ‘self absorbed punk’. Last year the team let him down rather than the other way around; he drove impeccably, and the comparison with Montoya is ludicrous. Thus far his move to Mercedes looks to have been a very smart one.

  13. JohnT says:

    @bmaz: I was all about Favruh going to the Queens ;-) I was saying for years that if they would have somehow been able to get him, they’d have a chance at losing the Super Bowl again.

    Back when the Pack had Don Majkowski slinging the ball, and he got hurt, I thought it was a great thing. I’d heard they had some unknown backup from nowhere named Brett Favre. And, I thought he’d be the football version of Junior Samples. Then they started winning, and winning, and winning, and winning. Can you imagine, Favre to Moss, and Chris Carter, and Jake Reed?

    I wanted to hate him, but I just couldn’t

    Anytime you want to let Aaron Rodgers go, we’ll be waiting

  14. bmaz says:

    @Nigel: Hey, I just call them as I see them. I think Button is a very good driver and can keep even a substandard McLaren competitive; he is smooth on his cars and is very good at getting them home to finish races. That counts when you are in the sorts they are. Perez is not quite so smooth, but he is very fast. Between the two, I think they will do enough to help the team through the early part of the schedule and give them a chance to sort things out.

    As to Hamilton, I disagree; he was the same ass last year as always. He was a bad teammate and petulantly published team info. From my understanding, there were no tears at his departure. Good riddance to him from an otherwise excellent team.

  15. JohnT says:

    @bmaz: Yea. Percy Harvin, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice

    We used to play football (sometimes basketball) after school every day for an hour and a half or two hours. Every. Day. And, we called it razzle dazzle. It was anything goes; you could pass from anywhere; in any direction; at any time. I think what the Seahawks are gonna be able to do will be the closest approximation of that in pro football. It could be the Lakers old Showtime on a gridiron

    But the guy I think that puts em over the top is Cliff Avril. I haven’t paid attention to what Detroit’s done, other than sign Reggie Bush, and I don’t know their cap situation, but why they let him go is a mystery to me. I think he’s gonna be a beast when teamed up with Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner … sheesh

    That said, we still have the draft to go through. But right now, I’d bet on Seattle.

  16. Peterr says:

    Damn, but that’s some FINE music! Very nice choice, bmaz.

    Here in KC, the fans are getting excited about the moves being made by Teh New Regime. The trade for a new QB, plus signing a new backup, plus the release of the old one, plus a bunch of other moves has people cheering. They have been begging for deals and signings like this for a couple of years, and are thrilled at the fact they are getting made.

    How it will play out once these folks take the field is another matter, but if nothing else, Clark Hunt and his GM gave his season ticket sales people a HUGE shot in the arm. It’s a lot easier to sell those season ticket packages when you can say to the potential buyers “We heard your complaints, and we’re committed to doing something about them.”

  17. bmaz says:

    The Patriots don’t currently have a wideout on their roster who caught a pass for them in 2012.

  18. scribe says:

    @bmaz: I’ve heard Bieber’s twitter feed is getting to the point where Cheatin’ Bill will categorize it as “conduct detrimental”.

    Do you think he’ll complete any passes this year?

  19. scribe says:

    Without any receivers to throw to, he could be the greatest QB who ever lived and still not complete a pass.

  20. JohnT says:

    Finally saw Trouble with the Curve a few days ago. It was a good story, and well acted, but it was missing something. Old Squinty Eyes is fine, but he’s been playing the same part for awhile now (old cranky dude from Gran Torino). It’s kind of the anti-Moneyball. FWIW I think there’s a place for both philosophy’s in the game

    My new hero is this dunking otter

  21. P J Evans says:

    @bmaz:
    I think that was my first visit to Phoenix, for a convention. ‘Lost’ is an understatement.

    (It was stacked tortillas, with the sauce between and over.)

  22. Nigel says:

    @bmaz:

    Qualifying… Hamilton P3; Button P10; Perez P15.

    Red Bulls lockout the front row – long season ahead for everyone else, I think.

  23. bmaz says:

    @Nigel: Crap, I kept checking for qualifying but didn’t see it on my cable NBCSports channel. It is over eh? Gotta go look for full results.

    Yes, I agree it’s Red Bulls and then everyone else. That is kind of why I said, for all the shuffling around – other than Ferrari – I think it still feels like last year. I do think 2014 should be pretty exciting though. We may be lucky to have a Driver’s chase as close as last year. As to the Mercedes, they were often fast last year in qualifying, but then had problems finishing often. Hamilton is kinder to his equipment than Michael was, so that will help a lot.

    One other thing, in my original look you objected to, I was also of the mind that Massa will have a better overall year than last year; he was really getting back into form in the second half of last season. We shall see. By the same token, even Alonso may not be able to pull shit out of his ass again like he did last year.

    And, by the way, you appear new here – welcome!

  24. bmaz says:

    And (thanks Nigel) here is the starting grid after qualifying:

    THE GRID
    1) Sebastian Vettel 2) Mark Webber 3) Lewis Hamilton 4) Felipe Massa 5) Fernando Alonso 6) Nico Rosberg 7) Kimi Raikkonen 8) Romain Grosjean 9) Paul di Resta 10) Jenson Button

    11) Nico Hulkenberg 12) Adrian Sutil 13) Jean-Eric Vergne 14) Daniel Ricciardo 15) Sergio Perez 16) Valtteri Bottas

    17) Pastor Maldonado 18) Esteban Gutierrez 19) Jules Bianchi 20) Max Chilton 21) Giedo van der Garde 22) Charles Pic

    Race goes off at 11:00 pm my time (PST), which is 2:00 am EST.

  25. bmaz says:

    @Roddikinsathome: THANK YOU!!!

    Great question, I have no idea. I guess Kobayashi didn’t bring enough funding maybe. Just a guess, no real clue. There is no way to say Kamui did not earn a spot in the F1 field somewhere. And he would bring the eyeballs of a huge sector of people/fans. Baffling.

    It really makes me sad though, Kobayashi was uniquely compelling in a way.

  26. bmaz says:

    @Jo6pac: Yeah, he is. There is an unholy force when a truly great driver meets truly great equipment. F1 history is littered with it, and littered with champions, and championships, where there was only one of the two, but it was enough to win out.

    Vettel is that good. And so is Red Bull right now. Put them together, and you get what we have seen. No joke, Alonso out drove Vettel last year – over the course of the year. But not by that much, and it was Vettel’s talents that came back and preserved the championship at the end. At least that is my view, for what it is worth. End point: Take nothing away from still young Sebastian Vettel; he is killer, and has already well earned a spot in the all time greats. Heady stuff for a kid still as young as he is.

  27. bmaz says:

    Holy shit, what a start and first few laps down in Melbourne at the Australian Grand Prix. WOW. Killer stuff.

  28. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: By the way, if anybody is up….Peter is right, if I do say so myself, the music is awesome.

    I was soft on U2 early in their career. I was wrong, VERY wrong. And the cut here is simply spine tingling. Wow.

  29. Nigel says:

    @bmaz:

    Thanks for the welcome. (Long time lurker – love the journalism here.)

    Good to see the Red Bulls humbled for once, but I’d hesitate to read too much into the result.
    Melbourne is always a bit of a one off, and the the teams will get on top of how to manage the tyres pretty quickly.

    “it was Vettel’s talents that came back and preserved the championship at the end”
    Fine driver though he is, I can’t agree with that. Red Bull simply out-developed everyone else at the end of last season – though trying to figure how much is down to the driver and how much the team is what makes F1 fun.

  30. jo6pac says:

    Sounds like a good race unreal with the Ice Man is back. I sure hope the dvr worked right and last Thursday I found out that of the 200 channels I didn’t have the race so I called and for an extra dime I got 50 more that I’ll never watch and the race. Amazing.

    It’s good to see Alonso and the red cars looking better than last yr for sure.

  31. rosalind says:

    just back from walking down the hill to watch the LA Marathoners run by. total overcast day so perfect for the runners. unsurprisingly green was the preferred shirt color, with a few giant St. Paddy’s Hats mixed in.

    first half of the day i avoid getting into a car cause traffic is frakked, second half of the day i will avoid getting into a car to avoid the green-beer soaked revelers.

    fm LA Times: “Aleksandra Duliba of Belarus has won the women’s race and $50,000 gender challenge in the 28th Asics Los Angeles Marathon, outrunning Ethiopia’s Zemzem Ahmed to win the race in her first marathon in an unofficial time of 2:26:08, a Belarus national record.”

  32. rosalind says:

    @bmaz: (But if I watch the video imma gonna suffer a post-traumautic flashback to working the U2 S.F. guerrilla concert at Justin Herman Plaza (“All Along The Watchtower” in Rattle & Hum).

    The lads had just taken the stage when manager Paul McGuiness ran up to the Production Table asking where the water for the band was. Our Production Managers realized: oops. They looked down the table landing on me. Suddenly I had two empty gallon water jugs in my hands with orders to “get water fast!”

    So out into the thousands I went, fighting my way through to the overflowing cafes where I asked the staff politely for some water for the band. Staff, unprepared for the onslaught of customers, told me to bugger off. Think it was the 3rd cafe before one of them took pity.

    Back through the throng, back to the Production table and the 4 solo cups awaiting I filled them to the brim, to the displeasure of the hard charging Mr. McGuiness who grabbed two cups and began taking sips from each to get the water level down, gesturing for me to grab the other two and follow. I choose the more sanitary method of dumping water out of the cups on my way to get them to band-approved sipping levels.

    Or maybe I’m still grumpy that while the band was all warm & cozy back at the hotel after I was stuck on an ancient mobile phone in a freezing cold plaza calling around to find a crew to come remove the graffiti Bono had spray-painted onto the fountain for the encore, but mostly I’m mad that in the movie the camera catches our production table in the b.g., but keeps stopping just short of me.)

  33. bmaz says:

    @rosalind: I was not a huge early U2 fan. And, in fact, the 1997 PopMart tour gave me one of the more unpleasant large rock show experiences ever (and I been to a LOT). But they have grown on me since then, and there is no denying their talent and Bono’s ability as one of the great frontmen ever.

  34. Jim White says:

    My bracket is completed and I did Jayhawkit. Have the Hawks as the winners over Duke. My other final four are Ohio State and Miami. Just to piss bmaz off, I have Butler going down in their first game against Bucknell but have the Zags making it to the Elite Eight against the Buckeyes. I agonized over the Gators against KU in the Elite Eight but finally decided that KU’s tough wins on the road at Okie State and Iowa State showed that KU has some toughness that the Gators just have not shown this year.

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