Incoming Blog Series: The Firmest Handshakes in Sports

I’ll be ranking handshake strengths of the firmest shakers in sports. I’ll give a top five strongest, a bottom five weakest and explain my picks.


  • No current athletes. This is going to be mostly about coaches. It would be too easy to just list the largest linebackers, the meatiest infielders, the Kawhi Leonard-handed basketball players. I’m talking about gentlemen on the sidelines from 40-70. That seasoned ex-athlete strength is what we’re looking for here, not a 25 year old in his gripping prime.


  • This isn’t a forearm size contest. While wrist girth will help a candidate, we’re looking for a bit more here. We want guys who not possess not only grip strength, but the mentality necessary for truly dominant handshakes.


  • PSI’s are important, but not the lone deciding factor. We want angle-dominance, ferocity of eye-contact, shake speed and shake distance i.e. length from the shake’s highest point to its lowest.


  • I’m separating the candidates by sport. As of now, it will be football, basketball, and baseball. If things go well, we’ll move into college football, college basketball, soccer and who knows, maybe an athlete edition as well.

Stay tuned.

Nick Buccola

Young Thug’s JEFFERY: Review, Track by Track

Quick Rating: 8.8/10


Listen? Yes.


Young Thug. Where does one begin? Has there been a rapper this popular with such polarized fan reception? Think about it, do you really know anyone who kind of likes Young Thug? No one thinks most of his songs are generally okay. He has a sizeable cult following and possibly just as big a population that cannot fathom a single reason he’s at all, let alone very popular. Detractors say at best that you can’t understand anything he’s saying and at worst that he’s ruining rap music. Fans would tell critics to pay better attention and they’ll find shockingly creative albethey highly peculiar lyrics set and timed perfectly to a signature beat style.


The 16th installment in his five-year career, JEFFERY (or No, My Name is Jeffery; no one really knows) is the result of quite an evolution. Young Thug doesn’t exactly change, he tinges. And grows. Each Mixtape since Barter 6 has offered up a different style or vibe, and while Slime Season 2 and I’m up may have been steps backward, his overall progression has been strong. JEFFERY is a clean, cohesive 10-track tribute to his heroes that certainly continues the upward trend.


The coverart is perfect. Lots of people hate it, but if you know who and what Young Thug is, you just can’t. It is bizarre. It is sexually ambiguous, unashamedly artistic and somewhere between beautiful and unsettling. The artist and cover are perfectly synthesized. It answers the question “Who is Jeffery?” and answers “Look. Listen.”


Take a look, now let’s listen, track by track.


  • Wyclef Jean – 10/10

Thugger starts as he typically does, strong. This wavy, Atlanta-Reggie track provides a nice introduction to the mixtape as a whole. It has a familiar tone; we know he hasn’t completely changed his style, at least not to the point of the first track being overly foreign. Having said that, the heavy island rhythm hints that he will be playing around in this one.


  • Floyd Mayweather (ft. Travi$ Scott, Gucci Mane and Gunna) – 8/10

Here we are, back to basics. This song could fit in perfectly on any of his previous projects. It’s reminiscent of tracks like Knocked Off, Thief in the Night, and Slime Shit. Much more hard and dark than artistic and flamboyant.

  • Swizz Beats – 7/10

As the title may suggest, this one is a bit more about the beat than the lyrics. His patented shreaking/screaming, varying tempos and repetition are a little disorganized, but over a very intriguing underwater sounding complex yet often understated. While this is one of the mixtape’s more forgettable pieces, he gives us a brief intro to a new gravely deep voice he’s trying out.

  • Future Swag – 7.5/10

As I said before, each song is named after one of Young Thug’s heroes. Most of them aren’t impressions per se, but this is as close as he gets. Future beat, Future lyrics, Future style. Fans of covers will like this one.

  • RiRi – 7.5/10

Another one that would fit perfectly into Barter 6, this is a fun tribute to Rihanna. He references Work and even throws in a patented Rihanna voice crack or two. RiRi is one of the coolest connections of the title hero to the style of the song. It’s undoubtedly Young Thug to his core, but you certainly get why it’s called RiRi.

  • Guwop (ft. Quavo, Offset and Young Scooter) – 9/10

Gucci Mane has to nearly top Thug’s list of heroes, and this song nearly tops JEFFERY. Just like Gucci, this tribute is pure Atlanta from the beat to the lyrics to the features. It really doesnt get much more Atlanta than the two Migos not in prison and Young Scooter, a man who named his daughter “Money.” With Guwop, I bet Young Thug made the real Guwop proud.

  • Harambe – 8/10

Here’s some heavy concentration of experimentation. Thugger tries out an enraged screaming tone for almost the whole song. I think the title is about 25% an attempt to draw attention and 75% an apt title for a track in which Thug goes apeshit, so to speak.

  • Webbie – 10/10

For me, this was the best song on the mixtape. It was so good I decided to check Webbie out. I couldn’t find any similarity between the track and its namesake. The only thing I can think of is Thug thinks Webbie is great, so his tribute song is great as well. I hope Young Thug continues with this slightly more upbeat style, because this one is truly a gem.

  • Kanye West (ft. Wyclef Jean) – 8/10

This is another one that doesn’t exactly match its title. Unless I missed a relaxed, drum and piano based, borderline reggae Kanye album, the name seems unrelated. Kanye West doesn’t feel like a typical Young Thug song at all. It’s sort of… sweet. Theres a genuine, somber-yet-hopeful feel to it that we haven’t before seen from Thugger. You wouldn’t dance to this song, nor would you cry to it. But, I could easily see someone throwing it on for a rejuvenating walk. It’s almost reflective. Maybe it’s called Kanye West because Kanye too experiments so boldly. Either way it’s a solid, novel finish to a solid, novel mixtape.

Young Thug took plenty of risks on JEFFERY, and those of us who can’t get enough of him hope he will continue to do so with whatever comes next. Say what you want about him, but you can’t say he’s not brave. He wore a dress and an umbrella, and dropped unique bars over bold beats.

Huge leap, huge success.




Nick Buccola

Giants @ Mets Wildcard: How Will the Winner Win?

If the Mets win, it was probably because:

Syndergaard threw 1000 MPH. The Mets scored early, maybe Cespedes went deep. Reyes kept getting on base. The Giants struck out, left runners stranded and hit into easy double plays. Even Posey couldn’t handle Thor’s velocity, the Giants were late all day.

If the Giants win, it was probably because:

Bumgarner pitched 8-9 shutout or one run innings. He dealt. He got through the first inning. The Giants managed some small ball runs. They reached on grounders, flares to the opposite field, WALKED and stole bases. Buster and Pence started their key rally. Citi Field got silent, fast.


I guess we are about to find out. Either way, you can probably safely take the under in this pitchers’ duel.



Nick Buccola

Magic Wins the World Series, So Who Has the Most Magic?

Ranking the teams from least to most destined to win

Almost every year, you could look back on the season of the team that won the World Series and say “boy, that took some magic.” Some supernatural will of the baseball gods was imposed, some prophecy  fulfilled. The Sox breaking the curse of the Bambino, the Giants even years, the Royals finally getting it done for a city that needed a win. Sure it hasn’t been ALL underdogs banding together against the odds to make the stuff of fantastical baseball movies reality, but there sure have been a lot of cinderella baseball stories as of late.

In hindsight it all feels like destiny. But who’s destined this year? I’m going to rank all the remaining postseason teams’ claims to a magical World Series from least magical to most.

Third Tier (Minimal Magic)

#9 The Toronto Blue Jays – The bat flip, do it for Canada, capitalize on Buck Showalter’s worst management decision of all time, ride the wildcard walk off. That’s about it. We all know the Jays are good, they don’t feel like a group of misfits who couldn’t be more deserving. Their lineup is just unfair. If they won, I think we’d me saying “Hm. Makes sense.”

#8 The Washington Nationals  – Last year, we were all scratching our heads about the Nationals. How could quite possibly the most talented team in the MLB be so bad not phenomenal?  The level of clubhouse dysfunction was nearly unprecedented. Manager Matt Williams seemed truly indifferent about his team on and off the field. And we all remember Bryce “Meanest Morman of All Time” Harper asking one of the game’s most noted psychopaths, Jonathan Papelbon if he wanted to go. And he went. The Nats winning it all would could redeem their team’s abysmal lack of cohesion and provide a win for a city trapped in the shitstorm that is the 2016 Presidential Race.

Also, if anyone can explain Daniel Murphy’s season to me without including magic, Voodoo, Santeria, witch doctory or some kind of blood sacrifice, please do.

#7 The Texas Rangers – The Rangers are good again, big whoop. But how they are good is a bit new. Looking at the Rangers this year, we don’t quite see the star power we saw the last time they were contenders. They have great players, don’t get me wrong. But I’m seeing a lot of teamwork out of this relatively young squad. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride, the Rangers becoming world champions could help Arlington recoup from the many almosts they experienced a few years ago.

Second Tier (Pretty Magical)

#6 The New York Mets – Mets fans have been starving for wins for quite a while. Until last year they were lifted up, only to be trampled by the Royals. Hopes were high and then suddenly gone. But they’re back. Do it for David Wright, he gave you his best years, now it’s time to return the favor.

#5 The Cleveland Indians – In the wake of Lebron finally bringing SOMETHING to America’s go-to example of a shit town, now they have another franchise to potentially keep them on the map. Who knows, if the Indians can get it done maybe the Browns can win a Su- okay just kidding, but Clevelanders deserve another title — think about it, they have to live in Cleveland!

#4 The Los Angeles Dodgers – Kershaw has an opportunity to put up an acceptable playoff performance, they are finally playing like the super-team they were supposed to be when they made the biggest move in Dodgers history in 2012, but this time on the back of some homegrown talent. Kershaw’s injury made them betterThat’s pretty magical. But most of all, they could do it for Vin. Win for Vin as they should be saying if they aren’t already. What an opportunity to give a touching gift to a man who touched so many lives and served the Dodgers and baseball as a whole so well.

Top Tier (Do you believe in           ?)

#3 The Boston Red Sox – They finally figured out their pitching, and just in time for one of the game’s and certainly the Sox’ best players of all time to win one last Series. Big Papi’s season has truly been nothing short of pure magic. What a send off they could give such an inspirational player and person for the city of Boston.

#2 The Chicago Cubs – I know, I know, 108 years. How could I not rank them the most magical team?

Mainly, because they are in no way (other than the curse of the billy goat) underdogs. They won too many games to be the most magical playoff team. Whatever happens this year, the Cubs are going to win the World Series soon. I think next year. Having said that, the century-plus dry spell is enough to put them all the way up at number two.

#1 The San Francisco Giants – The simple reason: BeliEVEN.

Look at what the giants have done. They were so bad for so long, and finally, mostly built on farm talent they have become a dynasty. But they are still underdogs. Think about this. Torture. Wildcard. Dodgers are too good. Not enough superstars. Sound familiar? That’s because these aspects define Giants baseball. They have shown us a great deal of magic since 2010, but the potential for a mystical, inexplicable, how in the hell World series win could be the highest here in 2016. The best team the first half, worst the second. Awful in the ninth, awful period. Not a single player hit twenty or more home runs, and they are still in the running.

Look at the Cubs, Dodgers, Nats, Blue Jays and Red Sox talent. It is obvious why those teams are so good. Then look at the Giants. They have good players but really only one to three true superstars in Bumgarner Cueto and Posey. Everyone thought the Giants were down and completely out, but look at them now. The latest possible turnaround, Ty Blach’s inexplicable outdoing of Clayton Kershaw, Romo’s ability to close yet again and that final Dodgers sweep just feel historic. If they do it, it will be through teamwork, it will be through magic.

No matter who wins the World Series this year, we’re in for quite a story.


Nick Buccola

Movie Review: War Dogs

Spoilers: Very light.

Quick Rating: 7.5/10

See it? Yes.


Here’s why:

I’ll start where a movie starts, the screenplay. For a movie like this, the writer(s) had the relatively unique challenge of properly covering the factual events on which the story is based, while keeping us chuckling for 100 some odd minutes.

Although you may not walk out with a complete understanding of “The Afghani Deal,” – the massive arms contract the 20-something best friends David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli snaked their way into landing – nor will you be icing your stomach from nonstop laughter, you’ll get just enough of both to make this one worth seeing.

The dialogue wasn’t impeccable, but it was pretty strong. There were plenty of funny conversations – some great, some a bit repetitive and simple. Never bad enough to take you out of it, but realistically, never good enough to blow your mind.


I think it’s safe to say the acting did more to keep this one funny than the script did.


Perfect for the task at hand, Miles Teller became just who we wanted him to be, an effortlessly lovable down-and-out stoner who needs to make a change before he nosedives into hopeless poverty.

Miles Teller

He’s no bumbling idiot though, he keeps the viewer in the loop by providing us with solidly entertaining and well-delivered voiceover narration that opens and extends throughout the film. The guy has good range, and that comes out in War Dogs, but for the most part, he sticks to his bread and butter. He doesn’t make you piss your pants and he doesn’t make you cry but for some reason you just want to love him. Hats off to the 29 year old for managing to keep the girls blushing while keeping the guys from hating him for it.


The way it starts, you may expect him to be single but oh how wrong you’d be. He comes home to the most obnoxiously beautiful, cute and sexy girlfriend you’ll see all year. I’m terribly sorry, but I just can’t describe her without getting crude, crass and in all likelihood, downright sexist. I’ll put it this way. Not since Margot Robbie as Mrs. Jordan Belfort have I legitimately considered running to the theater’s bathroom to snap one off so I could get back to focusing on the plot. She comes on screen, and half the men in the audience just about throw up from heat exhaustion by proximity. Then, she opens her mouth. REALLY? A thick, unrelentingly sexy Cuban accent? Come on. Overkill. Her hotness is damn near offensive. As you can imagine, her role was to stand there and look pretty, but she actually did quite a bit more than that. She really wasn’t half bad. Gorgeous, foreign and can act. Gentlemen, don’t bring your girlfriends to War Dogs unless you’re ready for that you-better-not-be-pitching-a-tent-right-now scowl every time our leading lady is on screen.

Ana De Armas boys.

Ana De Armas

Remember the name. If not because she’s about to be one of Hollywood’s go-to smokeshows, then at least so you’ll know how to greet her in your next wet dream.

On to Jonah Hill, (shocker) the definite best part of this movie. I could watch that guy do Sudoku. I could watch him watch paint dry. Hell, I truly believe I could watch him sweat through a shit for an hour and forty-five and walk out raving. Oh and by the way, I bet that’s about how long it’s taking him these days. This is the fattest he’s ever been. By far. Think Superbad and tack on easily thirty or forty lb’s to that 5 foot 7 frame. It wasn’t for the role either; the real Efraim Diveroli is ten pounds overweight, max.


Jonah Hill

I know we all love a fat Jonah Hill, and there very well may be a one-to-one correlation between his weight and the volume of our laughter. But if you really love Jonah like I do, you’re gonna be a bit concerned when you see him. But dangerously obese or not, he is outstanding. We get a nice little blend of the aforementioned Superbad Seth and as you can imagine, plenty of diamond Donny Azoff. He fires up countless joints, sniffs up easily half a kilo and shamelessly hits on women with exclusively grotesque pickup lines. He’s hilarious, devious, gotti and money hungry. Okay, maybe a little too much Wall Street Donnie, but I’m going to blame the writers for that one. It’s tough to avoid given the characters’ similarities, but seriously, a few scenes may as well have been simply copy-and-pasted from Scorcese’s 2013 gem. You know what you’re getting into when you hire Jonah hill to basically play a character he’s already crushed in a known smash-hit, make a stronger effort to separate the two.

All in all, War Dogs is a based on a fascinating story, and the film is a fun, accurate way of telling it. It’s unexpectedly good where you’d be fine with it being bad. Surprisingly cool, creative shots, clever, sound editing and a nice little incorporation of known facial hair and eye color savant Bradley Cooper. The emerging genre of quasi-serious action comedies is a tough beast to tame and aside from some cheesy repetition and a healthy dose of clichés, the filmmakers behind War Dogs did a solid job of doing so.




Nick Buccola

Conspiracy Theory: Drake Has Multiple Personality Disorder, and That’s Why He’s So Good

A bold explanation of Drake’s musical versatility

So many styles, so many flows. So much nuance, so much variety. Just how does Drake keep us coming back and back again (not to imply that he’s back from something)?

I have a theory: he suffers – and succeeds – from Multiple Personality Disorder, or MPD.

There is more than one Drake, there has to be.

In reality, he is a sweet Jewish boy named Aubrey Graham from East Canada, but we don’t know him as well as we know “Drake.” Correction, Drakes*. The many Drakes were born from his musical career.

I’ll start from the beginning.


2008 he first matters.


He’d been a star in Degrassi’s hay day and put out a mixtape or two in ’06 but he had a few songs get VERY big in 2008-9. He introduced to us our first musical Drake:

1) Calm, sensitive, classier than most, caring, honest, late night, sweet, sweet lovemaking Drake.

We’ll call him Late Night Drake, or LND for short.


LND will tell you you’re special. And he’ll mean it. He’ll tell you how you’re not like the other girls. He’ll even sing it.


Exhibit A. “Sweat pants, hair tied, Chillin with no make up on, that’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong.” — Best I Ever Had (So Far Gone Mixtape, 2008)

Exhibit B. “ I was trippin’ off how I used to sleep at ya crib, should drive by right where you live, and pick you up on the way. We aint spoke in so long, probably put me in the past, I can still get you wet and I can still make you laugh, you should call into work if that ain’t too much to ask.” – Come Thru (Nothing Was the Same Album, 2013)


LND will look you in the eyes, wait till you’re ready, but then he’s gonna have sex with you. That happens. He’s very generous, kind and complementary, and the blend of lovemaking and deep conversations twists and turns all night, until near sunrise when you both drift off to sleep. He’ll make you eggs the next morning and text right when you get home in the cab or Uber he pays for. The only thing he wants more than your ass is your heart. LND gets both. If you break up, it’s sad but amicable.

Late Night Drake wears his heart on his sleeve.

And it’s yours.


Our next Drake was also introduced in So Far Gone, but he really came to life in Take Care.

2) Swaggy, shit-talkin’, scary crew-havin’, wordsmith who we just assume grew up in the hood Drake.

This man, has been named already: Drizzy Drake. So let’s just keep that moniker.


Ol’ double D don’t make no love, he fucks bitches. Two or three at a time typically. He drinks Hennessey from golden goblets and seems to at least know someone who owns a gun. He can go hard or just lean back and explain to you that he is a force to be reckoned with. He’ll dip, dive, and double-entendre you into not thinking, but knowing, that you are the inferior man. Often, he’ll even have sex with your girlfriend while you’re dating her, without permission!

He alludes to some fictitious thug life past that we have no choice but to believe took place. Drizzy Drake goes hard in the paint and he’s not afraid to let you know.


Exhibit A. “Last name ever, first name greatest, like a sprained ankle boy I aint nothin’ to play with, started off local but thanks to all the haters, I know G4 pilots on a first name basis.” — Forever (More Than a Game Soundtrack, 2009)

Exhibit B. “I know I exaggerated things, now I got it like that, tuck my napkin in my shirt cus I’m just mobbin’ like that, you know good and well that you don’t want a problem like that, you gon’ make someone around me catch a body like that.” – Headlines (Take Care Album, 2011)

Exhibit C. “Brand new Baretta, cant wait to let it go, walk up in my label like where the check, doe? Yeah I said it, wouldn’t dap you with the left, hoe. Shut the fuck up, text from a centerfold, I aint reply, let her know I read it doe.” – Star67 (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late Mixtape, 2015)


Whoa there, I thought he just wanted to be loved, now he’s catching bodies? He has a baretta? They’re hoes now, not women? He’s mean with read receipts?

Careful, you’re forgetting that although Aubrey Graham is one man, LND and DD are two separate and distinct personalities that take Aubrey over, involuntarily and unpredictably. Often both will even appear in the same song. Back and forth, back to back (like they’re on the cover of lethal weapon). Just more evidence supporting my theory.

Even Drizzy Drake is complicated. He talks shit, goes ham like every day is Christmas, yet he’s truly a lyrical genius. Look at that wordplay, those rhyme-schemes. How can they come from one man? They don’t. Three letters folks:






The next, relatively new Drake seems to be pissed you’re not understanding how badass he is. Apparently DD didn’t quite get that message across. So,

3) Loud Tough Guy Drake, aka LTGD is born


He’s brimming with hot steaming swag and for some reason there is a lot of anger attached to it. Think Drizzy Drake, but with a bad case of ‘roid rage. He’s recent; I imagine the world of hip-hop, fickle fans and critics has slowly stirred up a rage within him.


Exhibit A. “Nah, fuck all of you niggas, I aint finished. Y’all don’t wanna hear me say it’s a go. Y’all don’t wanna see Win Win, 50 or W.O.E. I got real ones livin’ past Kennedy Road. I got real ones wit’ me everywhere that I go. I’m tryna tell ya I got enemies, got a lot of enemies!” – Energy (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late Mixtape 2015)

Exhibit B. (at the top of his lungs) “I got a really big team, and they need some really big rings, they need some really nice things, better be comin with no strings, better be coming with no strings!” – Big Rings (What A Time To Be Alive Mixtape, 2015)

Exhibit C. “JUMPMAN, JUMPMAN, JUMPMAN, JUMPMAN!” – Jumpman (What A Time To Be Alive Mixtape, 2015)


Okay man, sorry. I don’t know what I did wrong, what the problem is or how it can be fixed, but please don’t hit me with your ring hand. I think you’ve been hanging out with future too much. Your voice got so loud and so deep, you need to realize that’s not grape soda he’s sharing sips of.

It’s like Drake #2, DD, is rapping to an old man. It’s that familiar “MISTER JOHNSON, IT’S TIME FOR YOUR MEDICATION . . . YES, YOUR MEDICATION!” type of tone and repetition. No use in wasting time on clever wordplay, just gotta get the message across.

LTGD is only two years old, making him one of the younger siblings in the family that is Drake’s set of personalities.

But baby bro is even younger than Drake 3. He’s almost a new person entirely. The true sign of worsening Multiple Personality Disorder is the further distinction of one’s personas. Individual affects, attitudes and accents indicate said phenomenon.


This Drake certainly has quite the accent(s).

4) Thick Canadian with a pinch of west indie accent Hip-Pop occasional singing Drake, or Cana-Jamaican Drake

Most of our views of CJD come from well, Views. Other than slipping a few Torontan-


islander slang terms into songs, there hasn’t been much evidence he’s anything more than mildly Canadian. However, with the growing importance of repping a hometown, Drake has drastically upped his Canadian accent game. Which if you’re from Toronto (apparently) includes an ever so slight Jamaican drawl.

There’s not much to this emerging personality other than the accent. He skips the H sound, stretches A’s and skips words like a non-native speaker. And you know what the result of this new patois is? Gems. In his limited appearances, CJD gets the people going. He makes you want to dance, period.


Exhibit A. “I need-a one dance, got a ‘ennessy in my ‘and, one mo’ time fo’ I go, ‘igha powa’ takin’ a hold o’ me.” – One Dance ft. Wizkid & Kyla (Views Album, 2016)

Exhibit B. “And I’m never on a waste ting shorty, I do it how you say you wan’ it. Them girls, they just wanna take my money, them girls, they don’t wan’ me to give you not’ing, they don’t wan’ you to ‘ave not’ing, they don’t wanna see me find your lovin’” – Controlla (Views Album, 2016)


He’s so Canada, so Toronto, that now all of his friends are island immigrants and their lingo is rubbing off on him. Rappers from Young Thug to Nicki Minaj are messing around with Jamaican accents, and listeners love it. The difference is, Drake isn’t messing around.

CJD lives inside and outside the booth. Most audiences probably assume he simply donned the accent to shake up a few songs, but anyone who has seen a recent interview or especially his pre-If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late short film “Jungle” knows otherwise. In “Jungle,” CJD is given free reign, essentially doing a Canadian Jimmy Cliff impression each time he speaks. He’s young, but if his appearances on Views are any indication of what the future holds, Cana-Jamaican Drake is going to be a hit machine.

In less than a decade Drake has taught us that one man can really be four, that each personality derived from his crippling MPD is capable of churning out bangers, and that superstar talent must come from deep-seeded mental illness.

9/11 may have been an outside job, and yeah, maybe Tupac isn’t alive but Drake definitely has Multiple Personality Disorder.


Theory confirmed.





Nick Buccola