Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And now for a meaningful topic

I suppose it could be fun to continue arguing about what a bunch of whiny bitches Pats fans are, but I said everything that needed to be said in my first and only post on the subject.

However, there's no limit to what I can say about the wave of unabated rage that washed over me while reading this feature on the life and times of Jerramy Stevens, perhaps the single worst person in the history of sports, non-murderer division (we think).

Stevens is pure scum, to be sure, and it's a shame that he's not the kind of person we're torturing in GITMO right now. But he was far from the only criminal to play a role in his sub-human behavior, a point that might be missed by many who read that completely dispiriting (but very well researched and written) story. And, as far as I'm concerned, Rick Neuheisel is as complicit in Stevens' crimes as the man himself. Yes, I realize Slick Rick wasn't the only coach to enable Stevens, but the decision to actually discipline Stevens for a procession of rape, DUI, hit-and-runs and assaults rested on his and former AD Barbara Hedges' shoulders. Hedges was a stupid, opportunistic bitch, for sure, but it is Neuheisel that personifies the college head coach who is pure evil.

And it's only a matter of time before the next horror story presents itself at UCLA, now that they've hired Neuheisel.

I can almost understand a middling program, both athletically and academically, like Arizona State taking a chance on Dennis Erickson. I realize that some people involved in the administration of college athletics think the wages of winning is dealing with despotic coaches who don't believe in discipline for players unless they drop passes. But at least ASU's "reputation" is already that of a sketchy, outlaw program that hasn't leveraged its willingness to trash the school's image into actual success on the field. Erickson only represents a small uptick in trashiness over the dreck that program has run through its halls, and it's clear that the administration will allow him to run everything as he sees fit now that he's already delivered them a top-25 finish and some serious face time on College Gameday.

But UCLA is not Arizona State; they're not even on the same planet. UCLA is supposed to be a beacon of hope for cynics, a superior academic institution that also happens to house the most successful athletic program in the history of college sports. It wasn't that long ago that pathological rules violator Bob Toledo was run out of Westwood, and while his firing was ostensibly the result of poor on-field performance, the athletic department didn't exactly deny that the coach's reputation as a snake was a factor as well. The Bruins have long gravy-trained the good name of legend John Wooden, who managed to dominate the college hoops landscape without soiling the institution's good name. In fact, there's good reason to believe that UCLA's vaunted status as an academic institution has been bolstered by the successes of the basketball program and the rest of the academic department.

But USC's success under Pete Carroll — who, thanks to Reggie Bush, is no longer unscathed by scandal himself — has obviously convinced the higher-ups at UCLA that valuing character in the upper-reaches of its football program comes with too high a cost; it only took one truly disappointing season on the part of erstwhile coach Karl Dorrell (who seemed like a swell guy) for him to get shit-canned, a decision made with such apparent haste in large part because Neuhesiel was available.

As an Arizona partisan who watched UCLA's football program destroy the Wildcats' best chance at a Rose Bowl in 1998, I will revel in schadenfreude when Neuheisel inevitably begins to destroy the Bruins' reputation (who will give me 100-1 odds on UCLA getting the NCAA death penalty in the next 10 years?). But as a fan of college sports, I'm disheartened to see that it's easier to break out of Alcatraz than it is to convince university presidents and athletic directors to concern themselves with character.

Addendum: The Times followed up the Stevens piece with another piece on Curtis Williams, another horrible former Husky who actually received the death he so richly deserved after (ironically) a dirty hit on the field. And then, to top it all off, b found some fucking UW blogger says he's still on the fence about UW erecting a statue in that fucking wife-beater's honor! Man, it's days like this that make me wish we had colonized Mars already.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Allow Me To Retort!!

Well said, Diesel. Touche, mon frere! You and larry b bring up a solid point vis-a-vis the whole "this is just what happens in sports, man" angle. You're right about that: too bad this truth is wrapped in such a load of fermenting, tired bunk.

Since there is no way that I am going to win a word-volume/quality battle with my main man here, I'll just stick to what I know: concise, metered, and rational thought.

You are wrong. So very wrong.

See what I did there? I totally ended this argument!

I do, however, suppose that there is another way of proving your wrongness. And that would probably be to point out all of the contradictions, inconsistencies, and just plain imagination in your post. I don't have all night, so I'll limit myself to three. Namely, the following three:

1. Bill Belichick is a pompous asshat:

For someone who claims to be concerned 'only with results' in this game called life, Diesel seems to be pretty hung up on guys who are big meanies whilst doing their job to perfection. He isn't the only one who feels this way; for anyone who bothers to put the words "Bill Belichick asshole" into Google will find that there is a veritable plethora of those all too eager to point out that the man is a dick. Here, I'll do it for you. I treat this the same way I treat the maligning of another Bill....One Mr. Duane Charles Parcells.

Um, who the fuck cares about his personality? He gets the job done, yes? Don't tell me that you were one of those neocons calling for the impeachment and removal from office of Bill Clinton due to his threadbare moral fiber being a 'blight' on the nation. Barry Bonds is an asshole, too. Is he a blight on the MLB because of it? I'm sure you would be much happier if the NFL were populated entirely of Andy Reid's clones (I hear he is really nice to the press). Perhaps if ol' Belichick dressed a little more like Jack Del Rio, you wouldn't be so harsh on him.

To expound on the Bonds/Belichick comparisons addressed in the footnote: Diesel is quick to point out the double standard with which the press treats both gentlemen not 4 inches after maligning one of them for reasons having little if anything to do with the NFL (bad dress, terse press conferences, et al). Hey, pot, this is the kettle; um, you're black.

Spygate: I have yet to come across any conclusive evidence that coach Belichick had violated any NFL rule related to signal stealing during any other post-preseason football contest this year, so to suggest such is pretty weaksauce. Also, there is no way that he could've violated this 'rule' prior to 2006, because the rule/memo/whatever the fuck you want to call it didn't exist. And it is still unclear as to whether it exists today. It is not even certain that what Belichick did even constituted 'cheating' anyway. Please, people, come harder on this one.

2. Randy Moss and the fawning sports media:

If Diesel is suggesting that the media is somehow eschewing the recent battery charges against Randy Moss, then he and I aren't reading the same papers.

I believe that what Diesel and so many other Pats haters (I wish there was a better term, Pepe, I need an editor) suffer from is what some clinical psychologists like to call "batshit crazy". The purported 'fellatio by the media' that occurs on a regular basis is typically no more than, you know, reporting the fucking news. A headline stating that the Patriots have won their 18th game, broken another record, or traveled one more step toward perfection is not tantamount to a blowjob, it is a cold, hard fact. Maybe Diesel can prove otherwise, but I don't think anyone is giving Moss a pass on anything, as Randy has been rather curt with the media throughout his career and hasn't exactly made any friends on the sports beat. But, one would ask, where does this 'fawning' perception emanate from? Allow me to present a one-act play representing a day in the life a your run-of-the-mill Patriots disliker:

Open Curtain:
Jerkoff Pats hater sits in front of his television, foaming at the mouth after eating soggy rat intestine. Jim Nantz and Phill Simms comment on the game:

Jim Nantz: "Wow, Phil, that is Moss's 23rd TD reception of the year, a new NFL record!"

Phil Simmmms: "That's right, Jim. 23 TD catches is a pretty amazing feat in the sport of football; something upon which everyone can agree is universally awesome."

*Jim Nantz: "You know, Phil, I think that this means that Randy should be able to slap whichever bitch he damn well pleases!"

*Phil Simms: "Word."

Jerkoff Pats hater grits teeth and grumbles "Fucking sports media."
Close Curtain

Please note that the asterisk denotes dialogue that happened entirely within our protagonist's spite-addled brain.

3. Diesel's assertion that this is something that concerns the Patriots players themselves:

Huh? Well, maybe Tedy Bruschi, but c'mon, the man had a stroke. Plus, he's a UA alum!

4. (OK, I lied) Diesel's repetition of the "Everybody wants the Patriots to win!!" meme:

Really!? Everybody?! I'm probably the only Patriots fan that you know. I'm one of only two Patriots fans that I fucking know. I sit here as the only Pats supporter in a 20-mile radius, and I have to hear that mess?!! It's pretty clear that you have not been to KSK or Deadspin, lately (great blogs, btw), lest you may have borne witness to the ubiquitous, 'Pats fans are assholes and racists, LOLZ!1!' every three coddamn comments. How about the bounty on Tom Brady's leg? For every Bill Plashke and Bill Simmons out there, there are 20 dubious doubters on the 'boards. This has come up before, and it never fails to vex me. Does anyone who reads this blog actually want the Pats to win this Sunday?

So much for everybody.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Say Hello to my Little Cliché!

I know it's been the question TGWNA readers have been constantly asking themselves.

"What the fuck does it take to compel Diesel to actually write a post anymore?"

Good question, friends.
/Jim Nantz voice

Well, here's an easy answer: Play the fucking "respect" card.

I realize that Big C's mini-rant w/r/t the Patriots did not actually involve the word "respect," but he and I both know that it wasn't for a lack of intimation. His entire post dripped of so much respect-baiting that it shorted my computer's power supply when I read it.

I'll be more than willing to say that what the Patriots have done to this point in the season is one of the more impressive team sports accomplishments of my lifetime, ranking alongside Arsenal's undefeated 2003-04 campaign in the English Premier League, the Yankees' 1998 season, the Red Sox's comeback against the Yanks in 2004, and the Chicago Bulls' 1995-96 season. And I'm willing to say that with or without a win in the Super Bowl, since I'm not very concerned with worrying about whether or not this Pats team is the greatest in the history of the sport (while I can see why others are into this argument, the lack of objective reference points makes it simply a point of conjecture ... there is no way to properly compare football across eras, as far as I know).

That said, the Patriots as currently constituted, are a blight on the NFL. Their coach, a brilliant tactician for sure, is also a cheating boor who believes — like too many transcendent sports figures — that his talent and ability allow him to exist in a realm where condescension and surliness are acceptable characteristics for a public figure (see footnote). The team's star wide receiver is probably a sociopath who has the audacity to claim that the fawning sports media is somehow out to paint him as something he is not, when he has received more free passes for intolerable behavior both on and off the field during his career than all but a select few peers, regardless of sport. And the team as a whole has copped the same, tired "us against the world" shit pretty much since the beginning of its multi-year run of league domination, despite the fact that it's clear the world has been anything but against them for quite some time. My love of Leonard Cohen aside, I prefer my entertainers to be a little less monotone, and those who claim persecution to have an actual basis for the accusation.

As for the fans, what can be said about them that hasn't already been said about paranoid schizophrenics off their medication? I remember, faintly, being somewhat satisfied when the Patriots beat the despicable Rams in Superbowl XXXVI, and when the Sox mounted sports' most improbable comeback against the Yankees. But those days are long gone, and any conception of New England-area fans as somehow being "lovable" seem ridiculous now. When people ask me why I really don't have steadfast affiliations with teams any longer, I point to the guy in the Red Sox hat who acts in precisely the same manner as his "hated" Yankees cohorts. I am loathe to be associated, in any form, with the type of person who believes that the justifiable reaction to a win by his favorite team is to try and start a fight in the bar with all the "haters."

I could probably slag on the Pats and Pats fans for another 1,000 words (who am I kidding? I could probably do it for 10,000 more words), but it's neither important nor original at this point. What I'm wondering — and this isn't rhetorical, Big C — is who the fuck cares what anyone says about the Patriots? Why does a superlative team of accomplished veterans feel the need to trot out the stupid "bulletin board" shit that bad high school coaches have relied on for decades? Why do the fans require the acquiescence of all those in attendance every time "his" team's supermodel-impregnating quarterback continues to prove he's worthy of the plaudits handed out with alarming frequency by analysts? Since when did anything matter to the fans of a team more than on-field success? Do you really need a fucking hug in addition to your fourth Superbowl win?

I've long considered a need for constant affirmation to be a sign of weakness, particularly on the part of men. Those who claim to be dedicated to any cause should lack a need for approval. Those who claim to be better than others shouldn't need those others to admit as much, particularly when there are organized and regulated contests at hand to allow for some objective measure of the claim. And those who are claim millions to ply their trade shouldn't allow themselves — at least publicly — to admit that they still require more in the way of appreciation to feel like they've truly accomplished something.

The Patriots, and their fans, have come to embody everything that makes sports and its fans appear so puerile. The real "haters" are the scores of right-minded people who see the sociology of sports as a disturbing and collective softening of brains. Here we are debating the level of respect given to whiny, spoiled athletes and an equally whiny and spoiled fanbase that somehow thinks its entitled to some modicum of special treatment they've never afforded to others (lest we forget the "Jeter Swallows" shirts that have been extremely popular in the uncomfortable seats of Fenway for some time). I'm all for a good sports debate, even if it doesn't adhere to the same strict intellectual rigor I attempt to apply to arguments of outside interests. Hell, I'm even fine with some good, old-fashioned mindless taunting, as evidenced by my ownership of a "Jesus Hates the Yankees" shirt. Sports are a diversion, if not an opportunity for those of us no longer blessed with more than a geriatrics's range of motion to live and play vicariously through athletes. And fandom is an opportunity to identify one's self with a specific group, for the purposes of pride and differentiation. I do not begrudge anyone his or her rooting interests, nor the success(es) of his or her favorite team(s).

But it will be a cold day in hell before I think there's any reason to give the Patriots special consideration because they're excellent at football. I will not tip my cap, genuflect at the altar of Belicheck, or condemn representatives of the '72 Dolphins for sounding like perspectiveless brats when dissing another group of perspectiveless brats. I will simply hope that whomever coaches the Bills will adopt some of Belicheck's strategic approach without acquiring his willingness to be a reprehensible asshole, and proceed to beat the ever-loving shit out of that franchise for the next decade.

Yes, I do hate the Patriots, because they and their fans make me extremely aware of what a base pursuit being a fan of sports is, and what kind of company one should expect to keep if he wants to watch football in a bar on Sundays. I hate that sports writers have cheapened the word "genius" in the process of reporting on Belicheck. I hate the idea that Randy Moss is being given a relative free pass on a serious charge because commentators are more concerned with how this issue might effect the team than the individuals involved in the alleged assault. I hate the fact that every time Tom Brady has an irregular stool it leads ESPN.com.

But, more than anything, I hate all the "respect" talk. And if that makes me a bad sports fan, or whatever, then I'll happily take my sour grapes home with me and dine with Mercury Morris.

# # #

Footnote: Bill Belicheck is a cheater; I don't think this point is arguable. Despite his, and Big C's, claim that the camera issue isn't worth talking about any longer, it still constitutes a breach of NFL rules and was clearly carried out to gain a material advantage in an otherwise fair contest. Furthermore, while Belicheck was only caught cheating during the Jets game, it's entirely likely that he had cheated in that same fashion during other contests.

Belicheck is also a Grade-A son of a bitch. He is the very image of a modern-day athletic megalomaniac, right down to his unwillingness to abide the most basic rules of the league that's made him famous, as evidenced by his violating the league's standards for coaching attire and his constant fucking around with the injury report.

Barry Bonds is all of these things as well: Cheater, flouter of the rules, son of a bitch.

The main difference is how the men are perceived: Bonds as a pariah, Belicheck as a genius with flaws. The prime example of this double-standard is the way Bob Costas, one of the most respected figures in the sports media, approaches the two men. When the subject is Bonds, Costas can barely disguise his contempt. When the subject is Belicheck, however, Costas chooses to focus on the coach's accomplishments and overlook his personality deficiencies.

I don't really care to examine why this double-standard exists, only to point out that it does and is further proof that the Patriots are given an easier ride than most N.E. fans would have you believe, particularly by the media.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mr. Morris, I implore you.....

I was going to write a little bipolar, happy/angry ditty about how great my impending $600 'economic stimulus package' is, juxtaposed with how utterly horrible it is to be a single, kid-less taxpayer in this country. That gem is probably best saved for that potentially life-ending moment in which I find out what the actual damage is on tax day.

Instead, I just want to lay out a few quick things about this article.

In the interest of disclosure, I'll state up front that I am a staunch Patriots fan. Use this to assume whatever you want about me; about half of it is probably true, anyway. I make no apologies for liking my own second-favorite team and being pleased with their success this season. While I'm not the trendy, sycophantic, bandwagon-fan that you'd probably like to label me as, I am also not one of those spineless, cocksucking twits that pulls the whole 'All other Pats fans are jerks, and I am ashamed of them; but I'm not like that!' routine on the message boards.

With that said, I'm well within my rights to treat this whole Don Shula/Mercury Morris shit talking cavalcade as an affront to my beloved Pats (how dare I be happy for them, by the way?) and lash out at said asshats accordingly. Instead, as a fan of the NFL and lover of all things good and decent, I'll take the high road on this one and issue the following request: Mr. Shula, Mr. Morris, Mr. Kuechenberg, and all other New England Haters: Please, I beseech you, enough with the shrill, baseless, and absolutely moronic 'criticism' of the best team in NFL history. Particularly in the cases of Shula and Morris, who seem to be intelligent, virtuous people in all other regards, I suggest that you change into a fresh pair of diapers and endeavor to retain whatever dignity you have left after all of this drama has subsided. Don Shula has, until now, come across as a generous, wise, old sage. And Mercury Morris would probably be someone that I would really admire were it not for all of this senility-induced drivel.

Is it really that difficult for all of the Pats' detractors out there (and they have been legion) to just sack up, show a little class, and tip your hat to one of the best performances hitherto witnessed in American sports? The sad, hateful, and now entirely indefensible head-burying display being put forth by the anti-Patriots movement is no longer amusing or relevant. To hear the phrase 'Patriots suck' is to hear a cry for help. And I just dare someone to bring up Spygate.
This doesn't mean that there aren't other legitimate claims to the 'Best-Season-Ever' crown. Some have brought up the '85 Bears. OK. Others have, a bit less convincingly, nebulously mentioned 'those early nineties 49ers teams'. Perhaps. But one thing is made pretty clear in Kriegel's article: it sure as hell ain't the '72 Dolphins.
Which brings me to the reason that I brought the topic up on this blog to begin with: Is there any stat/metric/method extant for comparing teams through the eras that aren't just a collage of faint, childhood impressions? I know that VORP, OPS+-!^2%$#, and park-factors are popular grist on this blog, and I am curious to see if any such logic, or a species thereof, may be helpful in a sport that doesn't make me fall asleep faster than a bottle of NyQuil. It will probably be the only real productive thing to come out of a post that will likely cause me to be flamed harder than a Birmingham church.
Oh well, we all have our crosses to bear.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Paying for proficiency, and other shitty ideas.

Hello, 'BlogWorld!

I've decided to emerge from beneath the shadowy depths of the comments section to actually contribute to what has been for quite some time now my favorite blog. I don't intend to clutter the format, so I'll keep Formula 1 debates, NHL issues, and physics talk to a minimum. I also don't intend to adhere to the rules of proper English grammar, as I am a not a prescriptive grammarian (I am, actually, but I'll blame my foibles on the fact that I'm an engineer). I'll mostly post on sports/sociopolitical issues like my man Diesel, but since we are in the midst of the Super Bowl doldrums, I'll opine on the Learn-and-Earn program being experimented on in a Georgia public school.

My initial thought on the story is that this is a total mistake. It is important to note that this is a privately funded program and does not necessarily concern my public tax dollars; so there's no need to sound the fiscal alarm. But it is also critical to understand that this is a program that essentially rewards incompetence and devalues hard work and self-determination. It's like that Simpsons episode where Homer discovers that he needn't use his own legs '..like a sucker' (Sorry, no link, YouTube sucks these days).

Christ, this is the last thing that our beleaguered public schools need. Why don't they just put up a billboard on campus that states, 'Fuck up, and you get a cookie!'? I have a hard time believing that anyone is blind to the inherent disincentivization of self-directed learning and scholastic performance that such a program will cause. The program, which I will from this point refer to as 'student welfare', incorporates all of the negative properties of government-controlled welfare and filters out any virtue that food-stamp welfare may have. In other words, students that really need the help (dyslexic, autistic, and otherwise mentally challenged), already have programs to help them along. This program will only go to those students who are lazy and defiant enough to hold out for cash. It's like these students are holding our average test scores and grades hostage, and won't improve them until they get a helicopter, a million in unmarked bills, and a free pass out of town.

Meanwhile, students who actually make a coddamn effort on their own are implicitly told to go fuck themselves. Great. And I don't buy the 'Some of these students are in economically disadvantaged positions that impede scholastic performance' BS; if a student needs tutoring, they can get it on their own time and the public dime, anyway. And it's not as if high school is that hard to begin with; where I'm from (Arizona), it's actually sort of a joke. Just like this cockamamie program. Like Diesel put so eloquently a couple of posts ago: What the hell am I missing here?


Since that last bit was so rock-solid and bulletproof; something to which no rational being could possibly disagree, I'll offer up a few parting shots not worthy of a post themselves.

1. Beyonce has fatty legs:

Don't get me wrong, she is one hell of a beautiful woman, but, honestly, case closed.

2. Macbook Air: Does anyone actually give a flying fuck? Thinner than the average laptop computer, you say? Well, halle-fucking-lujah, that will save me a whopping inch, maybe one and a half, in my briefcase! And all I have to surrender are vital components? Woo-hoo! Perhaps they'll make another one of those asinine commercials that points out the fact that Mac guy is thinner (and less functional) than PC guy. Take that, PC guy!

3. Nothing. There is no third thing.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mr. Miller will have a word with you now, Lance

The current flavor of the month for the media right now — when they're not too busy mocking Congress for doing what the excessive media coverage of the Mitchell Report encouraged Congress to do in the first place — is asking ballplayers what they think about steroids, testing, and the future of America's erstwhile back-acne-free youth. Theoretically, there's no problem with the media doing this, since I can't imagine there are many better topics for reporters to ask ballplayers in an offseason. However, the reality of the situation is that when a player is evasive or wishes not to comment, the writer has the power to make it appear that the player's motivation for his recalcitrance is more sinister than simple — and advisable — discretion. On the other hand, honest/loudmouth players who spout off create a serious problem when it comes to that player's union maintaining a unified front.

Lance Berkman is an example of the latter. He's been full of self-aggrandizing chatter this offseason, reaching his zenith with this whopper when asked about his willingness to offer a blood sample for an HGH screen, even though a reliable test has yet to be created:

"Absolutely, there's no question," he said. "I think anybody that wouldn't submit to that has something to hide."

I suppose Berkman deserves plaudits for offering up his sangre so freely, but his taking it a step further and casting suspicion on any player who's a little less trusting when it comes to his bodily fluids is a breach. I would like to think that when spring training rolls around, one of his savvier teammates will pull him aside and ask him, politely, to keep his fucking mouth shut when it comes to other players' business.

But, more importantly, it got me to wondering if we would be reading comments like these were the union's leadership made of stronger stuff. I realize that at one point in time, MLBPA honcho Donald Fehr was seen as being a strong rep for the players, but it's clear that his appearances in front of Congress have turned him into a pussycat, relatively speaking. Marvin Miller, the man most responsible for the union's power at the bargaining table, probably would have informed players at the outset of Mitchell's investigation that breaking rank would result in being stranded by the union the next time that player found itself in hot water. And that's the way it should be.

Comments like those offered by Berkman move the onus on the players, and the players alone, when it comes to handling the steroid issue. And while our proud Rice grad might think it's a black-and-white issue — players shouldn't do steroids, period — responsibility for PED use in baseball has proven to be anything but clear. It's imperative that the administrative and ownership arms of baseball not be allowed to wriggle it's way off the hook if we're going to talk about the past. And, in terms of the future, a strong union is the only thing that can prevent PED testing from turning into a complete farce, because the owners will be more than happy to set up a rigged system if it means that they won't be pushed in front of the cameras again. Every time someone like Berkman opens his trap, it makes it more difficult for Fehr or his successor to hold strong against the lopsided demands of ownership that are sure to come during the next collective bargaining negotiation.

# # #

Here's an awesome interview with a very awesome baseball writer who took a pass on voting for the Hall of Fame this year (hat tip to Rob Neyer).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Confederacy of Dunces

Does this picture startle you? It scares the shit out of me. A face like this shouldn't be ubiquitous unless it's on the front of a box of oatmeal, should it? I don't think so. But apparently our intrepid representatives in D.C. think so, because Mitchell was back on his bully pulpit Tuesday, only it was on the taxpayer's dime as opposed to baseball's. Mind you, taxpayers have subsidized the latter to such a degree that it's irrelevant to distinguish between the two parties at this point.

I appreciate that Mitchell might have been at a loss for something to do now that he's both saved Ireland and saved the children of America from the dangers of improved bat speed, but a full congressional hearing seems like a bit of a reach for this particular workaholic. Perhaps I'm the only person standing in this particular line of thought, but the Mitchell Report felt a little light after the initial mediajaculation w/r/t the list of names. I'm not particularly interested in getting back into the particulars here, but suffice to say I can't imagine what on earth made Congress think that enough had changed post-report that a brand-new hearing needed to happen. And after reading Jayson Stark's live blog, I have no more of an idea than I did before.

What strikes me as interesting, though, is that these kinds of media circuses continue to take place. It's facile to say that politicians simply enjoy grandstanding, though that not to say it isn't true. However, politicians often act in accordance with maximum utility in mind; they rarely continue doing things that don't play well with constituents (at least not publicly), because nothing is more important than the next election for most career politicians. If you're to accept those premises, then clearly politicians have concluded things like the steroid hearings play well to the public and make them appear more ... congressional?

Despite its supposed status as a true marketplace of ideas — the ideal newspapers long claimed to represent despite the obviousness of that industry's inability to juggle unabridged honesty and the need to attract advertising — it appears the sports department of the blogosphere has adopted the same kind of ideological rigidity and hegemony that we often accuse the sports media of having. I can find nary a good sports blog that hasn't expressed some measure of outrage over these congressional hearings, not to mention fatigue over the steroid issue in general. If we're to believe that sports blogs represent the "common man's" outlook on sports, then one would think the Henry Waxmans of the world would take the hint and stop interrogating Donald Fehr. But they haven't, which leads me to believe that we're all missing something here in the blogosphere.

It might be a reach, but I see this as analogous to Ron Paul's run for the Republican nomination. If the primaries were held on the internet, Paul would win in a landslide not seen since the last time Fidel Castro held an "election." The momentum his campaign has generated on the internet — not to mention the insane outpouring of campaign contributions that is composed almost entirely of small donations counted in the low hundreds — would lead one to believe that Paul is not only a viable candidate (he's almost certainly not, which causes me no small amount of sadness) but that his ideas really hold water with a large percentage of the American populace.

Such must be the same with steroids in baseball. The interweb cognoscenti has thrown up its hands and said that we're all tired of it, but obviously has miscalulated exactly who the "royal we" in this case represents. Leeches don't affix themselves to corpses, only bodies that still pump blood; the fact that the U.S. Congress is still involved indicates that the heart of the steroid issue is still pumping. Now, it's just a matter of figuring out why, and perhaps in the process discovering if maybe we're the ones who are missing something.

I realize there's no point to this, but I just felt like riffing.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Contrary to what some might believe, I did not also quit the blog. I did, however, spend a week getting drunk in Laughlin and San Francisco and attending a wedding that threatens to undermine the sanctity of all that is good and pure in America (in a power outage, no less!), so I really haven't had the desire or opportunity to post something.

And, frankly, I don't know that I really have anything to write about right now. It's been a very boring stretch for sports lately, with the worst bowl season in recent memory, some fairly uninspiring NFL action, and the baseball world dominated by Roger Clemens' intrepid water-muddying name-clearing bonanza. As of right now, Clemens has now sued the trainer after the trainer threatened to sue Clemens if the 60 Minutes interview involved Clemens calling the trainer a liar. Shyster's doing a very good job of keeping track of all the shenanigans, and unlike myself he actually knows what he's talking about when it comes to the law.

If you're still willing to read anything more about Clemens and steroids, allow me to suggest Gary Huckabee's fantastic rant on BP.

B, feel free to pick up the pieces here.