Archive for October, 2007

29
Oct
07

Belichick makes me miss Vick

Belichick - a dickYesterday, while watching Tom Brady headbutt one of his underpaid, All-American linemen, I had a thought.

There are no “hated” coaches in the NFL — except Bill Belichick.

Honestly, those in Patriot country have to be the only football fans who tolerate the man. It’s not like you can laude his high morals or coaching principles.

Personally, it wasn’t so much the cheating that turned me off Belichick.

Or when he leveled a photographer trying to snap a picture at midfield.

Or when he tried to lure away another man’s wife with all the cash he saves on weekend wardrobe (come on, I had to get one sweatshirt shot in there).

Nope, it was simply the fact Billy (and his boys) would do anything to have you believe they’re the most humble, blue collar, come-to-work and do-your-job guys in the entire world, let alone the league.

What a sham.

And it really showed Sunday, when the Pats kept hitting Redskins in the face, up 38-0. When Wes Welker scored (to make it 45-0), he acted as if he had just sealed a huge comeback in the AFC Championship game (oh wait…). Wes Welker, not Randy Moss. Nothing more humble than that.

When Belichick was asked about throwing on numerous fourth downs (with a huge lead) after the game, he gave his typical dickhead response:

“What did you want us to do, kick a field goal?” he asked.

Oh, you’re such a badass Bill. I know some wives that would be really turned on with that display of dominance.

The reporter probably did want you to kick a field goal so he wouldn’t have to waste a column/story/blog writing on how you lack any class whatsoever.

(To the writer’s credit, he shot back, “I didn’t want you to do anything, I’m asking about your thought process on that play.”)

Don’t be fooled by the image the media portrays of the Pats. Certainly there are other teams who will win at any cost, whose players play for the money and the fame, and haven’t enjoyed being on the field on a Sunday in years.

It’s just rare one team has them all.

PS. I refused to sell my ticket for 16 times the face value, so I’ll be at the game of the year Sunday. Go Horse. 

26
Oct
07

The Musical Fruit

Don’t mess with Texas? Pah! With George Bush in the oval office, Mark Cuban prancing around in a vest and pretty boy Tony Romo leading “Amurica’s Team,” personally, I’m hitting up Texas for its lunch money. Because Boston just took mine, gave me a wedgie and wolf packed my Auntie Eileen.

More appropriate these days: Don’t fahk with Bahston!

Look no further than Thursday’s Sportscenter. Open with Game 2 World Series highlights — a Red Sox victory. Move on to Boston College defeating Virginia Tech behind the arm of Heisman front runner Matt Ryan. What’s next? One of the bloodier hockey fights we’ve seen in a while. And the jersey that remained clean during that fight… You guessed it. A Boston Bruin. Throw in a token Tom Brady talk and all you’re missing is a drunk Irishman pissin into the Charles River.

The shame of all this over exposure is the resentment that ensues. The easy thing to do right now is hate Beantown. You’ve got Joe Buck and Tim McCarver yapping this and that about Papi and Papelbon, (Did you know that Manny Ramirez is a good two-strike hitter, by the way?) and even the Celtics new threesome is on the cover of ESPN Magazine. What’s not to despise.

But what might be getting lost in musical fruit tooting is the big picture, the history. The present allotment of sports fans are being blessed not one, but perhaps two of the greatest teams in their sports… of ALL TIME. The fact that they happen to play in the same state shouldn’t discredit that.

For starters, compare this Red Sox team to the Yankees dynasty of the 90s. You’ve got Manny, Ortiz and Lowell against Jeter, Posada and Williams. Beckett and Schilling v. Clemens and Pettite. Papelbon and Okajima v. Rivera and Stanton. I mean, that’s stacking up pretty nicely there, if not with a little lean toward the side of “The Nation.” This may very well be a team for the books, folks. We should be paying attention.

And when was the last time a football team looked as purely dominant than the Patriots have? 1985? That’s more than 20 years folks. Proof enough that this sort of team doesn’t come around very often.

What’s worrisome is that these teams and this city are simply victims of circumstance. Normally, I feel like people like to root for history. They want to see something they can tell their grandkids about. But in today’s media climate, we don’t just beat a dead horse, it’s beaten, killed, beaten more, gutted, dissected, stomped on, it’s family is beaten, then Pedro Gomez swoops in and prods that pony for a sound bite.

Moral of the story is, don’t poo-poo the city of musical fruits just because they’re good. Besides, if you do, I’m pretty sure Zdeno Chara will kick your ass.

23
Oct
07

Rick Reilly: The hotel on Boardwalk

So let’s see. Bill Simmons was, maybe, Indiana Avenue. Hunter S. Thompson was kind of like taking a chance on owning the electric company. But ESPN’s recent addition of Rick Reilly? Monopoly.

To be fair, how can you blame them? Reilly represented one of the last, faithfully-followed sportswriters/casters not to join “the family of networks.” Not only that, but he may have been the last remaining piece of the puzzle for ESPN’s complete sports media takeover. Think about it: Sports Illustrated represents the only tangible, non-Bristol-based form of sports media. There are no legitimate competitors on T.V., online or on the radio when it comes to consistent sports news . The only market ESPN even remotely competes in is magazines. But Reilly may very well have been the linchpin that kept subscribers tied to SI. Either him or those authentic NFL team fleeces.

So now the question becomes: Is this good for us (the sports media consumers)? My fear is, no. And the reason is competition. More specifically, the lack-there-of. Us journalism folk are always asked in college to look back to the days of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer – heads of the New York Journal and the New York World in the late-1800s. This period is infamous for spawning “yellow journalism,” but it’s also viewed as one of the most progressive eras in journalism. When reporters and editors stopped being passive and started to find the news instead of letting it come to them.

Seeing as one could argue that some of ESPN’s current reporting tactics already border on being “yellow,” we need to seriously wonder whether or not a complete lack of competition is the best thing for a network that has already proven it’s ability to influence the very subjects it reports on. I’m not saying the Rick Reilly will yield the power of his mighty pen to make the Lakers trade Kobe, but the less people are picking, clicking or flipping to other media outlets, the more power ESPN has.

And once they have all the power? Well, game over.

18
Oct
07

No news is good news?

Torre quits! No waitAs I write this, ESPN is reporting that Joe Torre has turned down a $5 million, 1-year deal to remain with the Yankees. However, they keep saying “apparently,” so Andy Katz might be on the story.

Either way, thank God this Torre news nightmare is over. What is happening lately with non-news stories being completely over-covered?

First we have Kobe demanding a trade, then not demanding a trade. The next day, Kobe is cleaning out his locker!! Oh wait, sorry, he’s just cleaning up his locker.

Then this Joe Torre nonsense started.

Will he come back? Will he leave? Oh my God, I can’t sleep until someone hypothesizes!!!

Earlier this week, the SportsNation poll question on espn.com was, “Who should the Yankees keep, Joe Torre or Alex Rodriguez?”

What’s that? You didn’t know the rule that says a team can only keep either its manager or star player when both are up for contract renewal? You need to read more Baseball Prospectus.

Long ago, in journalism school, I was taught that stories are to be chosen based on how newsworthy they are. I couldn’t even tell you what criteria the above stories passed.  But, either way, I thought I could always fall back on the sports section of the beacon of spectacular journalism that is the New York Times. Until I saw the following headline.

“The only Yankee News Is That There is Still No News”

Honestly NYT? You’ve violated Rule 1 of the profession and we haven’t even gotten to the lead.

If I’m a reader, who knows nothing about the Yankees, baseball or sports, why would I read this story? Because it contains no news? How do you even write a 16-graph story that contains no news? More rhetorical questions!!

Suddenly, Klosterman’s suggestions aren’t looking so drastic.

16
Oct
07

An open letter to Kelvin Sampson

Kelvin SampsonEditor’s note: Two editor’s notes in a row, WTF, you are asking. Well, I thought about whether to post this for almost 2 days. I’ve decided to go ahead with it in its original form, even though I believe it may have been a bit strongly worded. At the core though, I believe my argument is solid.

Dear Mr. Sampson:

Go away. Please. I gave you a chance (and the benefit of the doubt) and you’ve tarnished my last fading hope that winning teams can do it right.

When my alma mater, Indiana University, hired you as head asketball coach, I supported you. Finally, I thought, we would get a hard-working coach that knew how to recruit.

Not everyone was happy. People called you a cheater, said you would embarrass our sacred program. Not me, I defended you.

That was then.

Now, I want you to be our Billy Donovan to the Orlando Magic. Just walk away before this thing ever gets started. We’ll all just pretend we never met.

You see Mr. Sampson, Indiana basketball has been everything to me since I was just a wee Hoosier. Perhaps my fondest memory (pre-Bloomington) was watching MY TEAM knock the storied Duke Blue Devils out of the NCAA Tournament in 2002. My entire family was cheering. Trust me, that’s quite the achievment. Even my dad, who is extremely cynical (and rightly so) about all pro sports, was standing and yelling at the TV. It seems like a good dream to me now, everyone laughing and smiling as OUR TEAM conquered Goliath.

Continue reading ‘An open letter to Kelvin Sampson’

15
Oct
07

Killing Stu Scott to Live

ChuckyEd. note: You may have noticed, I’ve had some staffing issues around here lately. It’s not that there’s a lack of sports-related material to cover, just not enough time in my day to do it.

Alas, I’ve found what I’ve been looking for — a contributor. And one of the best young writers I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. The following is a piece from BabyJ, who will be gracing this site on a regular basis.

Esquire columnist, ESPN contributor and all-around answer man for all things pop culture Chuck Klosterman has finger painted yet another conclusion that will save the world from, well, itself. More specifically, the sports world.

In the most recent issue of Esquire, Klosterman offers a glimpse of sports journalism through his oh-so-chic spectacles in an article aptly titled, “Four Ways to Save Sports Journalism.” The crux of his argument is that because “American sports coverage is still dominated by monoliths,” those large blocks of stone in Bristol, Conn., still have the power to right the ship and save SportsCenter from turning into CNN Headline News. Because, apparently, that hasn’t happened already.

And here’s his recipe for a heartier Stu:

  1. Stop Reporting on TV Ratings (Then how will SportsCenter be able to tell us “What 2 Watch 4?”)

  2. Kill the “Argument” Model (Fact or Fiction: This is the greatest idea ever?)

  3. De-Emphasize “The Fan’s Perspective” (But if nobody tells me what I want to hear, why do I even listen?)

  4. Decelerate Sports Coverage

“Most of the time, incrementally increasing the amount of data you give someone decreases his understanding of the event as a whole; this is because it’s impossible to tell the difference between “good data” and “bad data” without the passage of time.”

Now I really love his first three ideas, but I think the fourth misses the mark. There’s no such thing as too much data. Not in today’s instant-alert atmosphere. The problem is how we get that data, not that we’re getting it in the first place.

Continue reading ‘Killing Stu Scott to Live’

10
Oct
07

Don’t get on Richard Sandomir’s bad side

Chip CarayWhat’s happening people?

It feels good to be posting again, sorry for the long time off…life is getting a little crazy.

Well, in case you missed it, the Cubs did not win the World Series. Soooo, if you had your money on Chicago, apologies.

But, that has led us to some other “great” “baseball” “news” — Chip Caray sucks at broadcasting.

This was brought to light by New York Times resident Debbie Downer, Richard Sandomir.

Sandomir always has some problem about how individuals in sports media go about their jobs. Personally, I would never condone such dissent.

However, I wanted to post this yesterday (simply as information, mind you), but my friends over at We are the Postmen handled it nicely (and more quickly).

So I figured the issue was dead.

Not so.

Today, Sandomir used his column to give Suzyn Waldman a pass for crying after a Yankees’ broadcast the other night. (Note to aspiring sports journalists…She’s known them a long time, so it’s OK)  Sandomir managed to stay focused on Waldman for approximately 8 paragraphs. Here’s his actual transition back into ripping Caray:

To me, it is worse to be a clueless announcer than one who is emotional in a sport where crying is prohibited by the cinematic manager Tom Hanks. But Torre cries, so maybe it’s good for all of us to get out our hankies. Chip Caray of TBS can set aside the hanky for a copy of a Manhattan map, access to MLB.com and a Yankees media guide.

See how he did that, he just slipped it in there. You didn’t even notice. (That’s why I’m here, don’t mention it)

The next sentence is as follows:

I won’t go on at length about Caray’s miscues during the Yankees-Indians division series as I did yesterday.

There are then about 8 consecutive paragraphs on how Caray screwed up and TBS could fix their broadcasting for the next series.

Here’s my question? Does this honestly deserve two columns in the New York Times? Has Sandomir ever watched a baseball game on TV? Ever heard Joe Morgan perhaps?…He makes up shit all the time. Half the time, he doesn’t even know where the guys on the field played before coming to their current teams.

And what is the moral of this column? It’s OK to be biased, but not to have your facts wrong? That’s great advice to give the media these days, since we know how objective our sporting networks are.

You’re better than that NYT. Even if Sandomir isn’t.

03
Oct
07

Dispatch from the Windy City

GoatThis wasn’t originally going to be a Cubs post, even though I write from the heart of the mayhem.

But it’s all just too much, I couldn’t take it anymore.

It all started this morning about 5:45 with SportsCenter. Hoping to just hear the best from excited Cubs fans on this the first day of the playoffs, I was greeted with something awful. The anchor (who will remain anonymous) said to lead off the show:

“Winning the Series would be both good and bad in the eyes of Cubs’ fans. They would break the team’s curse but lose the title of ‘Lovable Losers.”

If there is a team out there (ANYWHERE) whose fans DON’T want them to win so they can keep the image of losers, please kill me now. Also, since when does said anchor speak for all of Cubdome?

And that got me thinking…

Lots of people (throw me in there) stereotype your everyday Cubs’ fan as either 1.) a sorority girl in her pink Soriano jersey or 2.) an East-Coast frat boy with Jimmy Clausen’s hair who bought all the “Welcome to the gun show” shirts from Urban Outfitters.

But, since I’ve moved to Chicago, I haven’t met a single fan that fits that description (except when I actually went to Wrigley for a game).

Most are loyal (to say the least) Cubby fans. They have one goal, to see their team win the World Series. Something, you may have heard, they haven’t done a very good job of lately.

And awhile later, while pondering these deep thoughts, I came across this (non)story in the New York Times.

Steve Bartman still isn’t talking to the media? OMG! Please write about it and include lots of questions with no answers and plenty of references to phones being hung up upon answer:

But does he still hold his old job and still live with his parents in this suburb northwest of Chicago, about 16 miles from Wrigley? ‘I know the answer to that question,’ Zillmer said.

Check

Another phone call, to a neighbor of Bartman’s parents, resulted in a phone receiver being quickly hung up . . . Two visits to the family home in a three-day period yielded no Bartman sightings and no answer to a knock on the door.

Double check.

They just won’t drop it.

So for God’s sake, Cubs, win the World Series. Win and away go the stereotypes of your fans and the stories about your ugly past which aren’t fun to read anymore. Away go taunts from your cross town “rivals” and their fans. Away goes everything…but your loyal fanbase.




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