Monday, January 29, 2007

Legends in hyperbole

One of the reasons I read is because there is no better method for corresponding the depth of human emotion than writing. Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- can stir a man's soul quite like a well-penned passage.

Take this absolute masterpiece by Pat Forde, who I found out tonight pronounces his last name "Ford-ey." Of course he does; no great writer would pass up the opportunity to act like a pompous, wannabe-French asshole.

Two minutes of glory, followed by two weeks of adulation.

An instant of horror, followed by weeks of worry.

Then weeks of cautious, growing optimism.

Then sudden, dire concern.

Now a final moment of sorrow.

There are only two things Ford-ey could possibly be describing. And since I know he's not talking about every single one of my relationships, he must be writing about the death of a fucking racehorse.

As my compatriot might say, natch.

The whole Barbaro saga has been quite the entertaining ride. Deadspin has done an excellent job of documenting the sheer lunacy present on the message boards for this poor fucking horse, who probably wanted nothing more than an apple and five minutes with Rebecca Lobo before getting sent off to the glue factory.

I've got to know, people: What's the deal? Yeah, I read Seabiscuit, so the concept of a horse becoming a beloved sports "figure" isn't completely foreign to me. But Seabiscuit also raced in a time when, frankly, Americans were a little hard-up for options w/r/t hero worship. My god, people trusted politicians back then! Boys walked through five miles of snow to go to school! Rappers only rhymed about food and friends who eat too much! I honestly thought times had changed to the point where the majority of people were past this kind of equine personification.

(I kid you not: As I write this, some Sportscenter anchor who looks like a 23-year-old child molester is breaking down Barbaro's family tree, while doing the dour face like he's reporting on Frank Robinson's death ... if there were anyone in the room to talk to, I'd be speechless.)

And, just because I can:

That was Barbaro's vivid streak across our consciousness. From a stirring sprint down the stretch in Louisville on the first Saturday in May to a horrible afternoon two weeks later in Baltimore to a somber announcement from a Pennsylvania animal hospital in January, he left his mark on us.

Did he really? If true, this is more depressing than watching The Hours alone at 2 p.m.

And this, the clincher:

Doing something to make the sport safer would burnish Barbaro's legacy, and might lessen the sadness we'll feel when we see his name on the Churchill Downs wall.
My computer may never work again. Because I just puked on my keyboard.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Go Home, Our Son

This post, which I half-finished, was going to be a lengthy open letter to Beckham. I think I should choose a new literary device for delivering this stuff, however. Like maybe succinct, direct arguments.

Yeah, that.

Anyway, yesterday B and I had a 10 minute or so chat about the EPL (that's English Premier League for all you skeezoids), and it was nice because I really don't have any other American friends that share my love, however late-forming, of the beautiful game. I watch Fox Soccer Channel a lot these days, even though the lineup of games is usually a little less than stunning (I can count on one hand the number of Roma, Inter or Milan games that have been shown as one of the choices in the twice-weekly "Italian Soccer" offerings). Every so often, though, there's something like Sunday's tilt between Manchester United and Arsenal, in the Gunners' gleaming new stadium where they have yet to lose, and you don't move from the couch for two hours except to take one piss, grab five beers, and almost leap over the coffee table to try and strangle Rosicky through the TV because he just won't take a fucking open shot and then jump off the couch when Henry puts home a header in the final minute of extra time after the announcers have spent the entire game criticizing him for not being "good in the air." I won't ever lecture someone for not liking soccer -- less than three years ago, I was firmly in that camp -- but I will say that I feel kind of bad for any sports fan who, after watching the Colts mount an incredible comeback against their hated rival on Sunday didn't watch a storyline almost disquietingly similar unfold that night (well, it was at night for me, since I DVRed it).

So much for succinct.

To summarize: I think soccer is awesome. I watch it a lot. Arsenal-Man U spat hot fire.

That said, I don't have a particular hankering for the MLS to take off. I'm not against it, per se, but I don't see much of a need, either. I'm quite convinced, also, that the best American athletes will no more become soccer players down the road than they will baseball players; pretty much anyone that's super-athletic (with rare exceptions) is going to be toting the rock for the Sooners, not working out at some Nike Soccer camp in hopes of landing a $600,000 contract from Real Salt Lake. That might change down the road, depending on what level of popularity and/or financial success the MLS achieves. Which, I suppose, is why Beckham's arrival in the States is so welcome by those who wish the MLS to become a legitimate, popular sports league.

Only thing is, I don't think it's going to work. Even worse, I think the Beckham stunt (and, let's be honest, that's what it is) is going to de-legitimize the league in the eyes of many.

Americans, I contest, are on the whole an extremely vapid group of people. I take no pleasure in stating that, and I wish it weren't the case. But, at least when it comes to entertainment, it appears that most Americans believe debasement -- of themselves, of the characters and/or people they watch on TV, of art and entertainment in general -- is the optimal outcome of any viewing experience.

However, there seems to be one exception: Sports fans hate being patronized. They steadfastly refuse to watch or follow any league that attempts to non-organically grow its popularity, whether it's through guilt trips (the WNBA), condescending packaging (the XFL) or an attempt to piggyback 15 legitimate minutes of fame (whatever the names of the women's soccer and softball leagues were/are). I realize that the presence of three women's leagues as evidence weakens my argument somewhat, but bear with me.

Beckham is still a pretty good soccer player, though he's clearly not what he used to be in terms of foot speed (which was never a strength of his) and endurance (which used to be his calling card as a live-action player). His renowned crossing and free kick abilities are still intact, but even that wasn't enough to justify his starting on Real Madrid, or any of the top-level EPL/La Liga teams (Italians don't like him because he doesn't get back on D, so Serie A's out). In terms of the actual product, I doubt highly that Beckham will be able to have a momentous impact on the pitch, unless the Galaxy move him to the middle instead of the flank, which would be a disaster. But that doesn't really matter to anyone, so what's the point in talking about it?

No, what matters is that people think Beckham will create enough of a stir to allow the MLS to become a bonafide sports league in America, one that competes for advertising dollars and fan interest. Four-fifths of Beckham's "$250 million salary" will come from revenue sharing; the league is so confident in Beckham's drawing power that they decided to cut him in on the action, and Beckham's so confident in it that he left guaranteed money on the table to come to the States. And, right on cue, the stir arose. The Galaxy sold 5,000 season tickets within 48 hours of the announcement, 1/6 of the team's home stadium capacity. Beckham jerseys are already flying off the shelves (and they're ugly as sin). Groupies are spontaneously orgasming in Valencia; Katie Holmes will name her next child "Bed-Stuy." Shit is getting crazy.

For now.

And then, after a season has passed and Beckham is coming off a season with three goals and five assists, people are going to realize two things:

1) Beckham's presence on the field does not make soccer a more attractive game to people who don't like it already;

2) Beckham's presence in the MLS will not raise the level of play to a point where fans of the European game will consider the American league to be a legitimate source of entertainment;

3) The people who have been with the MLS since day one -- many of them families with kids who are soccer crazy or live in non-sports-saturated cities like Salt Lake City -- and would ultimately have laid down the foundation for generations of hard-core MLS fans, will either not be effected at all (best-case scenario) or will be turned off by the spectacle, prices, and lack of street cred (worst-case scenario).

The MLS had a read shot to, within the next decade, make it's mark in the sports arena here because soccer is the most popular youth sport by leaps and bounds. Sure, most of the best athletes will move on to other sports when they grow up, but that doesn't mean they'll lose interest in soccer completely. The MLS has that market cornered already; it was just a matter of waiting for it to grow up and begin breeding another generation. The game would have been grown organically, at no point losing the "small-league" feel that usually comes with low ticket prices, fan- and family-friendly atmospheres and a willingness to sit through some shitty soccer.

Now, the league runs the risk of turning itself into an ego-trip sideshow for some British dude, in the process insulting an already finicky fanbase for sports in general, and disenfranchising the hardcore fans who don't want to be party to Beckham's "step-down" coronation. Implicit in the entire discussion is that everyone -- including Beckham -- acknowledges that American soccer, both in terms of talent and popularity, pales in comparison to its European counterparts. It's like Sammy Sosa going to play in Japan after being out of the Majors for a couple of years; anyone else get the impression that the Japanese didn't appreciate the connotation of Sosa's interest in their league?

I doubt the MLS would have ever made me a fan, just like the CFL couldn't ever make me a fan. But whatever chance existed that I might change my mind evaporated the second the league admitted that it wanted to be judged on its ability to attract a "name," as opposed to its merits as a soccer league.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Not Sports Related

I realize that stridency is the official M.O. for bloggers. I am no different. I tend to overtstate things on a regular basis, sometimes in an attempt at humor, sometimes in an attempt to make it clear how much a certain subject affects me. Nevertheless, I write things in a blog that I wouldn't have written as a professional sports writer, or as a paid writer of any kind. There's something to be said for professional honesty. Or, at least I thought there was.

Then, I read somewhere that some scientists think that disagreement should be grounds for taking away someone's ability to do their job. (First seen on: The Drudge Report)

The funny thing is that I can't say I'm against this kind of stridency in general. On a daily basis, I wish nothing short of a cruel, agonizing death for a few dozen people. My favorite web site is called Fire Joe Morgan, and there isn't an ounce of illegitimate sports commentary (such as the commentary that appears on this site) that doesn't usually involve pleas to take the livelihood away from those with whom we disagree. At this point, I'm convinced Justin would kill 30 12-year-old virgins if it meant Andy Reid were fired.

But, for chistssakes, that's fucking sports. You say dumb, indefensible things because at the end of the day, you probably wouldn't open Troy Aikman's throat with a rusted boning knife and lather yourself in his blood while fucking his mother, who you will subsequently kill with the same knife you used to smite her cocksucking cunthole of a son. Sure, it would be tempting, but then you'd remember that football is just a game, and that the three consecutive years of abject misery Troy Aikman put you through during your formative years helped build "character" and "abandonment disorder" and a "need for constant psychiatric attention." And that all means he shouldn't die, or at least not at your hands. But, for real, if someone else would be willing to step up, fucking sweet. E-mail with the details afterwards.

Anyway, I couldn't help but be a little shocked when I read this, because I thought scientists had some use for that thing called the "scientific method," which requires constant questioning and retesting of hypotheses and, in general, an adherence to the idea that, particularly when it comes to phenomena like global warming, there's no such thing as 100-percent verifiable fact. Is it a little ridiculous that some scientists are still willing to ignore that the earth is indeed warming, perhaps even at an alarming rate. However, for people to disagree as to the primary reason why is kinda what I look to science for. No matter what anyone claims, the argument that humans are the chief cause of global warming has not proven itself to be without faults, or immune to contradictory evidence.

Anyway, I hope everyone gets my point. The next post, I promise, will either be about Beckham or why NFL quarterbacks have a disproportionate number of retarded kids (hint: It's because god hates the passing game!).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Apparently, there was nothing to say about the Yankees today.

The Phillies are built upon old-fashioned scout values, which figures, because general manager Pat Gillick is still an old-fashioned scout, prone to traveling thousands of miles on late notice to see a low-level minor league player or an amateur prospect with his own eyes. He often makes these trips clandestinely, sometimes without telling even some of his colleagues, because he does not want his whereabouts revealed.

Sportswriters love this kind of stuff. See, it’s not exciting if you say, “Gillick spends many hours in front of his computer and talking to his well-paid staff of scouts and consultants, in an effort to decide which players he’ll acquire. Gillick says it’s a good thing he has a comfortable office chair, because he never leaves the fucking thing. And he’s got the sores to prove it.” It is exciting, however, when you romanticize and mythologize the process of scouting and selecting players. People think there’s something to it, that maybe Gillick has a special, bionic eye that will take an x-ray of the 17-year-old pitcher on the bump and measure heart, or gumption, or extrapolate future injuries. But none of that’s true. All Gillick will do is sit in the stands with a radar gun, just like every other scout, and try and figure out a new phrase for “throws hard/shitty curve ball.” And then, he’ll go to a bar, get drunk with all the other scouts, swap new phrases for mundane baseball abilities, and try and commit an act of infidelity with some townie skank.

Here’s my real question, though: If you’re the owner of the Phillies, and you’re paying Gillick millions of dollars, do you really want him clandestinely traveling to rookie ball games in Tacoma? Isn’t this a total waste of time? You’re the fucking G.M. of a major league franchise, one that employs a small army of scouts. You don’t expect the CEO of Home Depot to go slag 2x4s, because it would be inappropriate, and the job of a high-level administrator is to supervise and delegate, not do the fucking work himself. This anecdote alone makes me think that Gillick is in the running for the annual Steve Phillips Memorial Shittiest GM in Sports Award, presented by Rubio’s.

The modern-day trend is for teams to shift more resources into the structure of the bullpen. The Mets, for example, have three excellent left-handed relievers in Billy Wagner, Scott Schoeneweis and Pedro Feliciano, and solid right-handers Duaner Sanchez, Aaron Heilman and Guillermo Mota, with Ambiorix Burgos coming in as a high-ceiling candidate from Kansas City. And the Mets have made a calculated gamble that they can piece together enough starting pitching to consistently get a close game into the hands of that bullpen.

The Phillies, on the other hand, have stacked their rotation, the way teams have been trying to win for, oh, about a century. They have All-Star Brett Myers, star talent Cole Hamels, veterans Freddy Garcia and Jamie Moyer, and free-agent signee Adam Eaton. They've got Jon Lieber for depth, as well, although it is still possible that Lieber will be traded for offensive help.

On it’s face, I don’t have a problem with what Buster’s written here, except he’s missing a crucial piece of information that provides context to what the Mets are doing versus what the Phillies are doing, and it has to do with resource allocation he glancingly mentions. The starting pitching market is total batshit right now, as proven by the fact that virtual corpse Gil Meche will be making $11 per season. The Mets, who have spent an assload to put together the NL’s most complete and powerful lineup, wisely decided it was better to take $10 million and get three good-to-great bullpen arms than it was to get one mediocre starter. Well, at least I think it’s wise. Others disagree, which is cool. But the point is, it’s not just that the Mets think stacking the bullpen is a better strategy, regardless of the financial concerns. But Buster makes it sound that way, which I have a small problem with.

What I have a big problem with is the absolutely retarded “old-school vs. new school,” shit, because it’s stupid. To think that something done in the 20s is automatically applicable in today’s game is asinine, and intellectually lazy. I realize the Buster’s opening blog entry is supposed to be pithy, but why even bring this shit up if you’re not actually going to explore it? In the two following paragraphs, he mentions something about the number of outs each team expects from the respective units, which is pointless and doesn’t really add anything to the argument. So, all Buster’s done is add a stamp of credibility to what Gillick’s done, because maybe Connie Mack used to feel the same way, back when mounds were five feet off the ground and there used to be memorials in the center fields of certain stadiums.

He also fails to mention, anywhere, that Jamie Moyer once soft-tossed with the Peking Man and that Adam Eaton sucks ass.

And while most teams are relying on on-base percentage, the Phillies have traded some of the crown princes of on-base percentage (Jim Thome and Bobby Abreu), while making a concerted effort to create a lineup of players
who score high in intangibles among scouts, like Shane Victorino, Aaron Rowand, Chase Utley, and, of course, NL MVP Ryan Howard. High energy, high intensity, major effort guys in their daily preparation. Wes Helms, who will share time at third base this year, is never going to be confused with Miguel Cabrera in his production, but he is a well-respected professional and of the players with at least 150 plate appearances, he led all major league hitters in average after the All-Star break last season, hitting .385.

I … just … can’t … take … it … anymore. I really thought you were better than this, Buster. You read more on a daily basis than maybe any sportswriter in America. I assumed that, along the way, you would have read enough convincing arguments (like those made by your colleague Rob Neyer) that you would at least quit with the OBP baiting. There isn’t a single, respected baseball mind that really doubts that OBP is the most central statistic to a hitter’s efficacy, the one that you choose if you’re forced to only choose one (if we’re ignoring the more esoteric sabermetric stats, which the readers of this blog are wont to do). The one stat that tells you why both Mark McGwire and Tony Gwynn were awesome and extremely valuable to their teams, even if they looked totally different and had different ancillary stats and hit in different spots in the lineup.
You know why scouts love “intangibles,” folks? Because, since they don’t exist, a scout can then never be wrong. They also have nothing to do with actual quality of play; to say someone “hustles” gives little insight into exactly what one can expect from the player once they’re on the field, outside of knowing that he’s going to bust his ass running out grounders.

But here’s the best part: You mean to tell me Utley and Howard score high in “intangibles?” No shit? Who gives a flying fuck?!?!? Ryan Howard is probably the most-feared hitter in the NL (or second behind Pooholes) and Utley is so far and away the best second baseman in the league, it’s actually kind of silly (especially when you consider that two seasons ago, he was stuck in a R-L platoon). Utley’s intangibles are absolutely, completely irrelevant to any discussion of his value as a baseball player.

As for Victorino, Rowand and Helms? I hope their intangibles involve explaining to Utley and Howard why no one’s ever on base when they’re up to bat. But, more than likely, they’ll be too busy to talk, what with all the goddamn wind sprints they’ll be running in the tunnel.

Gillick sounded optimistic on the phone Tuesday night, liking the makeup of his team, raving about Hamels and what he could do. Once a week in spring training, Gillick said, Moyer -- who has won 216 games in his career because of his understanding of how to change speeds -- will meet with other pitchers on the Phillies' staff to talk about pitching. "If you have a guy like that around, you might as well take advantage of it," Gillick said.

I agree, Moyer was an excellent choice as pitching coach. Hold on … oh, you’re paying him millions of dollars to be an effective starter? Oh. That kind of changes things.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Albanian tragedy

I just wanted to point out that TMQ's Gregg Easterbrook, definitely the smartest person ever to work at ESPN and maybe the smartest person ever to write regularly about sports, said the exact same fucking thing I did about the Eagles game. He mentioned the same two critical coaching gaffes, and he even piled on Andy Reid for having such a passing hard-on and intractable ego.

Thank God for a single voice of reason in the national sportswriting world. If it weren't for TMQ I would hate every single thing I read on ESPN, none more than the completely intolerable Bill Simmons, who has surpassed even Scoop Jackson in his sheer ability to enrage me (he's still far, far behind Andy Reid, though). I can't wait to read 15,000 words out of him in which he shamelessly blows Tom Brady for a terrible performance two days after the rest of the media shamelessly blew Tom Brady.

One thing I really don't get is, how does ESPN suck so much when most of the local sportswriting I read -- I'm thinking particularly of the Philly papers, which comprise most of my daily sports reading -- ranges from insightful and informative to legitimately great? Writing-wise, there is no conceivable way to justify having Jim Caple, Scoop Jackson, Bill Simmons, or DJ Gallo writing about sports to a national audience (I'm sure there are others, but these are the first Page 2 writers who come to mind). There's just no fucking way. None of those people has an iota of writing talent, and I doubt any of them has covered a professional sporting event -- I mean really covered, not just went to and wrote some horseshit column comparing it to the OC or whatever -- in years. And none of them has any significant background of success as an athlete or coach, so far as I know, which means they're not offering any real insight. And none of them is fucking funny! DJ Gallo writes some of the most inane tripe I've ever seen, and Bill Simmons has been doing the same stale schtick so long he might as well be Bill Shatner. They're just terrible writers and uninteresting fucking people. And ESPN's game coverage, when it actually has non-AP gamers, is nothing remarkable. Nor are most of its analysts, with a few noted exceptions (Gammons, Katz, Bilas, etc.). I just don't get that fucking network anymore.

I guess it's the commercialization factor, which values distinctiveness and/or name recognition over talent, especially in television -- the same reason Seinfeld bit players still get sitcoms that inevitably bomb after a few episodes -- but I wonder, especially when viewed in concert with ESPN's complete lack of editorial oversight, whether the network is even concerned with being a journalism outlet at all anymore. Even my boy TMQ spends most of his posts talking about astrophysics and pop culture.

But fuck it. I spend too much time here ripping ESPN. Let's get back to how right I am all the time: remember when I said how legit the Saints were back in week six? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fine, I'll bite

I could probably spend an entire post ripping apart John Clayton's shameful journalistic fellating of Bill Belicheck, as Justin suggested someone do, but I'm tired of picking on low-hanging fruit. I am resigned to the fact that save for a few specific and professional sources, my days of reading sports commentary for the purposes of edification are over.

But I believe one loyal, if not anonymous, reader has called me out. And I'll take the bait.

Marty should, without question, be fired. Perhaps the cries for his job shouldn't be as loud as they are for Andy Reid -- a man who displayed an unfathomable level of cowardice with that fourth-quarter punt against the Saints -- but they should be loud nonetheless, and responded to. I suspect they will, as well, since it is little secret that A.J. Smith is not fond of Marty in the slightest.

All that said, I'm willing to concede that the loss to the Patriots was not Marty's "fault" by any traditional definition of the term. Yes, the Bolts' gameplan was a little less imaginative/aggressive against the Pats then it was during the regular season, but I also think it would have been folly to try and get too cute against a team like New England. There was no need, really. The Chargers were clearly the better team, by just about any measure. It was an appropriate gameplan the Chargers' coaching staff designed, one based on S.D.'s need and ability to dictate the terms of the game. One does not dictate matters with halfback options and flea flickers; one does it with a strong running game on the back of the league's best individual player and its most underappreciated offensive line (Your 2007 R.O.Y. should be LT Marcus McNeill, who [I am almost sure] did not allow a sack this season). And, were it not for the four turnovers and one incredibly dumb personal foul, the Bolts would have won. While there's something to be said for institutional discipline starting at the top, I won't hang Marty with the Chargers' mistakes Sunday. Not that it's relevant.

What is relevant is that, until this season, Marty was killing San Diego with his particular version of taking the air out of the football. And, when he finally decided to get with the program that most high school coaches have been on since the early 90s, people lauded him for "opening it up." Puh-fucking-leese. It will be a cold day in hell before I congratulate someone for finally becoming competent at his job, and that's all Marty did this season. He got handed a ridiculously talented team, and let them play the kind of innovative offense that most other teams have been running for a decade or so now. More than half the coaches -- maybe even two-thirds -- would have done as well with the Bolts this year. To consider Marty the difference between this team being 13-3 and 8-8 is absurd.

But here's the biggest, and best, reason why Marty should be fired: Because one of the two men chiefly responsible for the success of this team hates his fucking guts. The other one is dead, but I'm sure that John Butler would be no more fond of what Marty has accomplished -- or hasn't -- had he laid off the cancer sticks. If A.J. Smith has proven anything during his tenure as the Chargers' G.M., it's that he's a keen evaluator of talent. Has a single one of this team's high draft picks not panned out? Has there been a single free agent letdown? This team is the most talented in the NFL, bar none, because Smith knows what he's talking about when he's talking about football. So why would anyone not believe that Smith is dead-on when he says that Marty's the wrong guy for this team?

I realize that good NFL coaches don't grow on trees, but I'm not dense enough to think there isn't a better man available on someone's staff -- maybe even San Diego's -- for this job. And, I would bet the farm that whomever Smith selects will be an upgrade.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

That wasn't that hard, was it?

Consider what I did an intervention. I was worried the shitty jazz at Ike's (is it modern jazz, or just really bad "classical" jazz ... specificity would help in terms of establishing setting) had made you lose your spirit.

And, I don't disagree with anything you stated, only with the degree to which everything applies to me.

Pardon me if I wasn't clear enough; I'm no more an Eagles fan than I am a fan of the Ravens. I am a Buffalo Bills fan, because (as you correctly pointed out) geographically that was the closest NFL team and the CFL sucks. However, the fact that the NFL TV contract makes it so I can't ever see the Bills on TV makes it a little difficult to follow the team on a regular basis. Heck, even when I go out to a bar to watch games (which isn't often; I try to avoid late-morning drinking these days) it's tough to get the fucking Bills on TV. Nonetheless, they are the only team that, at the outset of the season, I wish to do well.

However, in each individual contest, I attempt to decide what team I would prefer to win. Part of it is the fact that I almost always think of things in gambling terms, and part of it is that it's boring to watch a game without stating a preference, IMO. My criteria for picking teams in those circumstances usually comes down to rooting for who my friends like, for obvious reasons. Any friends who root for the Cowboys, Raiders, Yankees, Dodgers and Lakers are excluded from such consideration. Thusly, I have often rooted for the Eagles despite the fact I would watch D-Mac get hung on Iraqi television if it meant the Bills would win the Superbowl.

That said, I think it would be pretty awesome for the Saints to win. And if that means I'm not allowed to ever state a temporary preference for the Eagles again, so be it.

I am not a Chargers fan. I have often been accused of being such, even though there's really no basis for it.

I am, however, a Padres fan. I was before I met the Finleys (Ry and I actually became pretty good friends during the 1998 playoff run). I am not from San Diego. As a kid, I wanted to be Tony Gwynn, which both explains why I hit exactly one home run in my little league career and also why I've become fatter during my adult years. I have never found my being a Padres fan problematic in re: My love of the Blue Jays. It is conceivable that they would meet in the WS (well, maybe not), and in that case I choose the Jays. But I'll cross that inconceivable bridge when it comes. I don't bother justifying my love of the Padres because it's not possible and I really don't care. If that makes me a sports polygamist, or a pussy, or whatever, I'm cool with it.

Anyway, nice to have you back.

Pick a fucking team already!

I will not take your bait on discussing The Undiscussables other than to say the following: you are no longer welcome to root for them.

Look, Doyle. You listen here, and you listen good. I know you were born Canadian and therefore think a hardcore fan is something you turn on when it gets wicked hoot outside, but I will not have you switching directions on me as if you have once again contracted vertigo. You don't go cheering for the other team in that game I'm not talking about just because they're "exciting" or blacker or whatever. I'm never loaning you a jersey again so you can spill Buffalo sauce on it. Speaking of Buffalo, aren't you a fucking Bills fan? What happened to that? Now you're from San Diego, too? You're worse than Seahawk/Southwest/San Diego/Appomatox River Basin Seth. I don't know you kind of people.

Since I can't talk specifics, let's discuss a theory of mine. Not the Theory of Classy -- see Four Weeks for that -- but the Theory of Sporting Birthright. To wit: the minute a man is born, he's assigned a set of rooting interests based on the nearest professional sports franchises, and he must honor that commitment for the rest of his life, come Hades, Katrina, Joe Carter, or rampaging maple-tree diseases (oh, am I better than that last comment, Doyle? Do tell!). I believe in this. Exceptions will be made only in special circumstances, i.e. vacation births, parental Armed Forces deployment overseas and the like. Otherwise, you're stuck. You were born in Toronto, which doesn't have an NFL team? Too bad. Root for the Argos. Watch hockey. Pick the closest fucking NFL team. I thought you did that, with the Bills.

What you don't do is find some other city that you kind of like because it has hot chicks and beaches and lots of sporting mediocrity and you went to college 350 miles away from it and visited a couple of times, and then act as if you have any sort of right to root for that team when it becomes good every 12 years. I won't have that kind of shit, and I'm surprised the Brothers Finley have humored you this long. You pick your teams based on who your friends root for? Well, that's really sweet and all, but if you're so worried about my motherfucking mental state, maybe you should start by not encouraging my alcoholism and smoking and gambling and general degenerateness. Don't root for my team. Root for your own fucking team.

Hey, I've got friends who like other teams. Seth likes Seattle and the Finleys like SD and Chris likes the Jets and Dave likes the Cowboys, for chrissakes. And occasionally (never in Dave's case), when the outcome of their games in no way affects the future of The Team We Do Not Speak Of, I'll cheer for their teams and hope that they win. What I don't do -- and never will -- is talk about HOW FUCKING "TORN" I AM ABOOT WHO TO ROOT FOR IN GAMES INVOLVING TWO TEAMS I HAVE NO RIGHT TO ROOT FOR!

Explain this rooting for The Other Team. They're "exciting"? They're "a great story"? They're "fun"? If those are your criteria, go root for that retarded Louisville tuba player or a Beep Baseball team or something, and get the fuck out of here with your hand-wringing about who you're going to root for in the Super Bowl.

You're right about one thing: nobody who's not a die-hard Southeastern Pennsylvania professional football fan will agree with you. And because of that, nobody who roots for that team will agree with you, and I will not agree with you. You know why? Because THERE'S NO OTHER FUCKING KIND OF FAN OF THE TEAM IN QUESTION. We've been miserable our whole sporting existence and we've never had fairweather fans and we sure don't want them now. We don't want your kind here. People like you are the reason I'm afraid of that team ever winning anything significant.

So you root for whoever you want, chief. You do that. But never again don that holy shade of green in my presence. You have hereby been excommunicated.

Now go watch your soccer game and tell everybody at the bar how you live and die by Roma because you lived there for three months.

Well, if he won't talk about it, I will

I don't know what the fuck has happened to Justin the past week, but he went from getting hammered with me in Phoenix to writing about the metaphysical discontent of freshly ground coffee beans. And, of course, he won't talk about the fucking Eagles, since he apparently huffed a little too much formaldehyde in his formative years and still believes in the Easter Bunny, transubstantiation and jinxing sports teams. But I'll talk about this shit. That's because I'm fucking hardcore. And bored.

The Eagles are probably the hottest team in football, despite the fact that there's really no good reason for them to be this good. At the outset of the season, I bet Justin on the Eagles winning more than 10.5 games, mainly because I thought there was some real talent on that offense to give McNabb and Westbrook some backup. Turns out, there really isn't, but at least Westbrook is way better than I ever thought he was, and I always thought he was pretty fucking good (BTW, how the fuck does this guy not have a ticket to Hawaii?!?). And the defense is really showing it's age (not to mention the folly of blitzing more than half the time ... yes, lots of pressure, but also lots of big plays given up, especially with a shaky secondary). Frankly, the Eagles are a pleasantly mediocre team, not especially fun to watch, and short of the running back there's nothing really dynamic about this team.

I don't need to break down this team's season, and I don't have anything especially earth-shattering to say about why the turnaround happened, except for one thing: The difference in offensive line play since Garcia came in has been stunning. With McNabb in there, the Eagles appeared to be playing without tackles. With Garcia in there, this line has suddenly become one of the best in the league (again). Why? Because when you don't fucking pass the ball every play, offensive lines are allowed to spend some time moving forward instead of backward. Run blocking is way easier than pass blocking, and a lot more fun. It's also determinate instead of reactive. When an offensive coordinator gives his linemen a chance to go out and de-cleat some overwhelmed safety, they'll come back into the huddle thinking the head slap they're about to take from an overpaid defensive end isn't going to be so bad.

So, anyway, that's the extent of my analysis.

Now, I'm a little torn over Saturday's game. I love the fucking Saints. They're not only a great story, but they've got to be the most fun team to watch in the league this side of the Bolts. I'm convinced that Drew Brees' mole is a performance-enhancing substance. Or it's made of melted chocolate. One of the two. Anyway, I like the Saints. I also like the Eagles, because Justin's a big fan and I find it hard not to root for teams my friends live and die by because those friends are usually insufferable when thheir teams lose (or are simply in the playoffs) and there's something in it for me when those teams win. But I don't love the Eagles enough to think that I wouldn't prefer to see the Saints against the Bolts in the SB. Can anyone who's not a die-hard Eagles fan disagree with me on this point?

Also: Jeff Garcia's girlfriend is the best looking beard I've ever seen. I wonder if she knows that most guys would have at least tried vaginal sex before moving straight for the deuce.

- Why Beckham's move to L.A. will only reinforce my unwillingness to watch the MLS.

- Anyone else notice that Roma is in second place in Serie A right now? Get on board, people!

- Bonds tested positive for speed. I'm assuming he thought the drug's name was literal, and believed it would save him from looking like the desiccated corpse of Kirby Puckett in left field.

- I am becoming convinced that while he was playing, Burt Blyleven fucked the wife of every single baseball writer in America, and then smeared the lusty secretions of those wives on the faces of those reporters' respective sons while taking pornographic images of those sportswriters' prepubescent daughters that would later be posted on a free internet site that exists for the purposes of showing prepubescent porn only to those young men that happen to go to the same schools as the young ladies appearing in the pornographic images. That is the only possible explanation for his not being in the HOF. I realize this is not a topic; I just needed to get that off my chest.

LATE EDIT: There is no team in the NFL with a more openly homoerotic fanbase than the Seahawks. I promise.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I just needed to get this off my chest

It's been a while since I've written anything, anywhere, but that's because I didn't have much to say. Or, what I did have to say was being censored by the cuntbags at Zazzle! I still think B and I can make some coin off that shit, but I'm way too busy these days to even think about it.

Anyway, this just in: Matt Leinart is living every 22-year-old male's fantasy, provided you're talking about 22-year-old males in the year 2001. First Paris, now a washed up piece of panty-less white trash. Does he realize exactly whose sloppy seconds he's getting here? (Answer: Everyone's) If he keeps this up -- and the only way he can is by barebacking Alicia Silverstone while anally fisting Tia Carrerre -- his teammates are going to put a block wall around his spot in the shower.