Two thousand and nine will go down in history as the year we learned way too much about Chad Ochocinco. Thanks to Twitter, people the world over now know what the effusive Bengals receiver looks like in a Snuggie, and his Chad Ochocinco Experience iPhone app revealed his regular order at McDonald's (Number 1 combo with extra cheese and no onions, and an orange soda with no ice). The app also allows users to, at any time, find out 85's whereabouts, solicit his advice, access his playlists (the big surprise: Turandot, Act III by Luciano Pavarotti), track his stats and listen to his favorite sayings—in English and Spanish. (Example: Child, please!/¬°Ni√±o, por favor!)
No other athlete embraced social networking media quite like Ochocinco, who last week used his Ustream channel to announce that he'll be changing his name to Hachi Go (Japanese for 8--5), apparently to appeal to his Pacific Rim fan base. But he wasn't the only one to overshare his thoughts as, to the chagrin of agents and general managers everywhere, each 140-character post chipped away at the wall between athlete and fan.
While there's something to be said for the infotainment value of Lance Armstrong's keeping his 2.3 million followers up to date on his dinner guests, the Twitter revolution wasn't without its troubles. Amar'e Stoudemire of the Suns and Tyson Chandler of the Bobcats were fined for Tweeting during games; Antonio Cromartie of the Chargers was fined for ripping the team's training camp food in a post; and a Tweeted dis of his coach hastened Larry Johnson's departure from the Chiefs. The good news for Johnson is that he landed in Cincinnati, where he can presumably learn the art of adept social networking from the master: Ochocinco. Or whatever he's calling himself these days.
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LIKELY WINNER OF THE CHAMP KIND AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN FAKE SPORTS BROADCASTING
The Onion has made a big effort of late to beef up its video content, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the satirical site's sports "coverage." The best recurring gag is the Steam Room, in which two talking heads "steam-clean the stain of deception from the carpet of sports." The topics are patently absurd (one involved Evander Holyfield boxing a horse for the WBA heavyweight belt), but on the whole it's no more bizarre—and a lot funnier—than, say, Around the Horn.
Electronic Arts began offering its sports titles for the iPhone in 2009, with mixed results. Controlling the players in Madden NFL 10 or FIFA Soccer 10 without a joystick (the tiny control on the screen puts a premium on dainty thumbs) makes for some frustrating moments—until you realize you're playing a reasonably entertaining facsimile of a classic video game on a handheld device that also makes telephone calls, at which point it starts to seem exceedingly cool.
Major League Baseball took a really good iPhone application, At Bat 2009, and made it great in June, when it began including streaming live video of games, with several different camera angles. At $10, it was a steal.
PERFECT TRICK-SHOT ARTISTS
Armed with a video camera, a portable hoop and plenty of spare time, six current and former Texas A&M students calling themselves Dude Perfect film themselves making improbable shot (from the upper deck at A&M's football stadium) after improbable shot (banked off a water tower), with the results posted on dudeperfect.com. Texas A&M's hoops team was 24--10 last year, but when it came to burying big shots, the Aggies had nothing on these dudes.
The Brow Beat
FINALLY, NBA chat that goes beyond dunk comparisons. On the blog Wages of Wins Journal, three economists wax smartly on hoops and other topics. The combo of analysis and down-to-earth writing makes academia accessible.
IF YOUR love of talk radio is tempered by the fact that you can't actually see callers (or their mothers' basements), Versus has got the show for you: Fanarchy, in which amateur pundits rant via webcam.
ONION NEWS NETWORK (HOLYFIELD)
RICHARD RANSIER/CORBIS (HIGH BROW)
CHRIS SZAGOLA/CAL SPORT MEDIA (OCHOCINCO)
BLANKET COVERAGE Ochocinco shared a shot of himself in a Snuggie with all of cyberspace.