Bring Out Your Poles

costanza

I still got a lot of problems with you people.

Political:

1) DC reporters, writers, and talking heads: where the fuck do you get this “we are a center-right country” shit? Johnny Mac tried to label Black Eagle as a commie pinko socialist and WE STILL VOTED FOR HIM. Stop moving the fucking goalposts for the Democrat. It’s nice to know you found a supposed spine after taking it up the ass for eight years from the Caligutard, but Black Eagle isn’t even in office yet. Sit down and shut the fuck up.

2) My fellow Californians: you let your inner hick show on Election Day and it wasn’t pretty with Proposition 8. You were dumb enough to fall for the “it’ll be taught in schools” crap.

3) To Congress: What the fuck do I pay your salary for? I vote to send a critter to the House and two senators and you can’t even do your jobs by investigating the abuses of the Chimp in Charge? Then, to truly demonstrate your incompetence, you give Hank Paulson complete control over distributing my money in a bailout without ensuring it has to be loaned out. Moronic or crooked? Which one?

4) Oh, Sarah. Stay in Alaska until you can form a complete sentence, OK?

5) Dubya. Where to begin? Your charming way of saying nuclear, your thirst for unnecessary war, or your handing out of political spoils to cronies in order to politicize entire departments. And let’s not forget: it’s 2008 and, like Kanye said, you don’t care about black people. Heckuva job, Bushie.  Take your ass back to Texas and let’s never hear from it again.

6) Wall Street Execs. You sounded like Dubya at Katrina when you testified and pleaded for your bailout in front of Congress: “No one could have predicted the collapse of this scale.” You got high living off the hog and now we’re subsidizing your fucking losses, and you’re still giving multi-million dollar bonuses. Can we implant a sense of shame?

Sports:

1) Fox. Worst. Telecasts. Ever. From football to baseball, you fail miserably and in every capability with the gimmickry.

2) ESPN. Good with games, lousy at actual journalism.  You realize you put yourself out there as a “news” source? That means you don’t get to ignore stories when you want to. (Brian Giles sued by his ex for abuse, ignoring the “Favre talked to the Lions” story until Brett the Jet wanted to deny the rumor, Ed Werder and the Cowboys.)  I long for the days of CNNSI or the return of Sports Tonight, to at leave have something of an option.

3) Mike Shanahan. Thank you, once again, for failing to place any emphasis on defense. Your offensive genius has obviously been predicated on the backs of Terrell Davis, John Elway, and a Hall of Fame offensive line. Now, if you lose out on a playoff spot on the last day of the season for the second time in 3 years, I’m going to be furious.

4) Everyone Even Considering Themselves an Analyst on TV. There are too many of you fuckers with not a whole lot to say. NFL Today, NFL Countdown, Football Night in America — the economy is suffering, why shouldn’t you? You can afford to survive the recession.

5) The BCS. Much like the Wall Street execs, a bunch of greedy, money hungry fucks more interested in preserving the big piece of the pie rather than actually giving the fans what they want. And we still watch it. Maybe I shouldn’t be bitching at the BCS conference commissioners, maybe I should be griping at myself for buying into it.

Share your grievances here. It’s safe.

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Peyton Made Me Do It

Well, not really. But he might as well have, so I’m blaming/crediting him.

Anyway, you read on Friday that my old TV decided to give out.  However, I quickly realized it had done so at the most advantageous of times:

  1. In a bad economy, retailers are desperate to get rid of HD sets — both LCD and plasma — at ridiculously cheap discounts
  2. This goes double for the holiday season in a recession, when retail experts are fearing new lows in holiday spending.
  3. I’d just received my holiday bonus check (one week’s pay) the day before.

So, I spent Saturday at Circuit City, Costco, and Best Buy — the first because it was in bankruptcy and needed to move inventory to help consolidate two other locations that were sending what was left in, the second because I have a membership, and the third because I generally like it the best and trust it (this may be brand loyalty; I used to work at a store in Colorado and generally found it a decent place to work.)

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The Jump To Conclusions Mat Has Way Too Many Footprints On It

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Look, I’m not going to state that the facts out there surrounding Plaxico Burress’ shooting himself in the thigh aren’t there. It’s monumentally stupid of him to be carrying a gun illegally, only having a permit that had expired in Florida and at the very least, not applying for one in either New York or New Jersey. The fact that it went off in his pants suggests he has no clue about how to operate the safety on a gun, which is even more disturbing.

But I can’t help but sit back and want to smack the usual suspects like Bob Costas, Mike Ditka, and the rest of the NFL studio show crews make the usual suggestions about how players shouldn’t be allowed to own guns, and that they shouldn’t be out late after certain hours. Witness Ditka on the guns bit:

“This is all about priorities. When you get stature in life, you get the kind of contract, you have an obligation and responsibility to your teammates, to the organization, to the National Football League and to the fans. He just flaunted this money in their face. He has no respect for anybody but himself. I feel sorry for him, in the sense that, I don’t understand the league, why can anybody have a gun? I will have a policy, no guns, any NFL players we find out, period, you’re suspended.”

Lucky for us he never ran as the GOP candidate for Senate from Illinois. Jesus, who thought this guy would make a good senatorial candidate?  As long as he has the permits (which he apparently didn’t), it shouldn’t have mattered, period. The NFL is not big enough to where it should decide to take away people’s individual rights.

When I witnessesd Costas’ outrage on Football Night in America, I thought, “Spoken like a man who has never understood what it’s like to have to fear for your life.” It took Tiki Barber to correct Costas, by saying that many black athletes grow up in tough situations with gangs where they are protected because of their athletic abilities, and are used to a world where you have to protect yourself — you do not trust security people or the police. I don’t know if this is reflective of Burress’ background, but if you are a black man with millionaire money, you’re going to be wary inside and outside your home.

The situations are not comparable, as Burress was out on the town with teammates Antonio Pierce and either Derrick Ward or Ahmad Bradshaw (depending on who you read or hear)( but it’s silly not to think of how Sean Taylor was killed in his home and Antoine Walker was robbed near his home in Chicago.  Again — those are at home, but don’t you think you would protect yourself even more when you were out of you think you are a target? Yet this impulse seems to elude everyone commenting on the stubject before everything is known.

It is merely another string in Burress being a bad actor; it is part of a narrative to take missed meetings and fines and conflate them into something larger and more insidious. But the cycle hasn’t played itself out yet. Burress still has to be charged, and we have to find out his side of the story, too.  It’s asking too much to back off for a little bit though — there is blood in the water.

All Your Sporting Events Are Belong To Bristol

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I am of two minds on Fox basically ceding the contract to broadcast the BCS to the Four-Letter. There are two sapproaches to note: the first is the quality of hte production, the second is what it means in a journalistic sense.  Several of ESPN’s regular cadre of college football analysts calling for a playoff, but first, we’ll deal with the aesthetic aspect, because it’s all about what you see, and then what’s underneath.

In a pure TV production sense, no sport should be handled by Fox. They do an absolutely loathsome job with the BCS — seeing as they handle no college football games during the regular season on the main network, they then put together some truly poor announcnig teams (most notably, any team involving Charles Davis.)  College football is obviously secondary to them, and it shows on air every time they do the BCS bowls they hold the rights for (all save the Rose Bowl.) There is gimmickry (the robot for NFL football, the talking animated baseball explaining the basics of pitching to an audience likely older than its execs imagine).

(If I had my way and could assign a network to handle the vast majority of televised sports. it would be CBS, who, particularly with college football and basketball, brings in the best announcers and analysts.  It’s hard to imagine ESPN willfully discussing the recent study by Richard Lapchick on the number of minority coaches now being at six after the firing of Ron Prince at K-State, but two weeks ago, Spencer Tillman went for it and called out the university presidents and conference bosses on it.)

While ESPN is at the very least competent in game presentation, announcing, and analysis (save clankers like Pam Ward, Andre Ware, Brad Nessler, and Bob Griese), it also has a problem: will owning the TV rights to the all the big bowl games lead some of them to keep quiet about a playoff possibility?  The more problematic issue is that ESPN now holds a complete monopoly on the important aspects of college football, which is never particularly a good diea for any enterprise. Lack of competition leads to stagnation, and bad efects for the sport in general — it’s safe to guess that shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars until 2014 will do nothing to get rid of the crap system in college football. ESPN will now have a further investment in the status quo.

So, eight-team playoff, 16-team playoff, plus-one…..all of these options will be dragged out even longer.

Pushing The Narratives

The benefit of my current work schedule is the ability to watch Pardon the Interruption, which remains the only ESPN piece of programming worth investing too much time in.  SportsCenter is not as essential as it used to be; much of the analyst shows focused on individual sports are background fodder. Outside The Lines can be very hit or miss, and is subject to the typical ESPN/mainstream blinders on much of its subject matter. Anyway, back to it.

The Four-Letter’s $3 million a year poaching, Rick Reilly, subbed for Tony Kornheiser on PTI yesterday, via satellite from Denver with Michael Wilbon in-studio in D.C., and parroted what I’m fairly sure may be a common impulse among a certain segment of sportswriters regarding the current state of the baseball playoffs: he stated his preference for a Red Sox-Dodgers World Series, proclaiming the Tampa Bay Rays “bad for baseball.”

We probably need to separate that “bad for baseball” comment into two categories: bad for the sport and bad for the business of the sport. There is a vast difference: any die-hard baseball fan or one who merely follows the sport regularly would say a worst-to-first story is not only good for the sport, but also compelling and justifying smart moves by a front office.  Tampa’s entry into the playoffs already yielded more attention to manager Joe Maddon in SI, a likely Rookie of the Year award for third baseman Evan Longoria, and a front office that assembled a solid starting line-up and a roster of budding stars. That’s good for the sport; it gives some leverage behind the idea that baseball’s uncapped salary structure can still yield good things for teams who use their money wisely.

However, if you look at Reilly’s comment in the business sense, it fits. Tampa was 12th out of 14 AL teams in attendance this year, not helped by the reported shittiness of Tropicana Field, and locals are right to ignore a lousy team in a bad park for a while. That doesn’t change overnight, and it’s also part of the trend of questioning whether Florida is really interested in regular-season baseball. (We really won’t have an idea until both the Rays and Marlins’ new facilities open.)  The Dodgers and Red Sox are two of several “glamour teams”; ones that matter to people outside their home markets (the others, in my eyes, are the Cubs, Yankees, Cardinals, and Braves*.) Those are teams that have bandwagons, intense home fans, and ones who don’t drop loyalties when they move in the age of the Internet and MLB.tv.

Dodgers-Red Sox is an easier World Series to sell, and I’m sure it’s the one Fox is clamoring or as we speak.  The Rays aren’t, although everyone loves an underdog story — because there’s not enough to sell. The lore bheind L.A.-Boston is too much, two big cities, Manny Ramirez back in Betantown, the Sox seeking back-to-back titles, etc.  That’s a narrative that writes columns; that’s how Reilly kind of thinks., and it’s what Bud Selig would love to see. (Philadelphia doesn’t have the same pull as Dodgers-Sox, but it’s better to MLB than the other AL choice.)

The Tampa Bay Rays going from worst to first and capping it with a world championship is just another Marlins team beating Cleveland or the Yankees, or a Diamondbacks bloop single. It’s a blip, and won’t register outside of those of us who pay attention. Of course, you know what happens when the narrative gets openly expressed: the underdog shocks us all, and considering my loathing of both the Dodgers nad Phils, along with a need for Boston teams to cool off, I’m riding the Rays right now.

Fuck the cheap narratives, though. Let ’em do some work. Tampa is full of new stories, and that’s good for the sport.

(*I include the Braves because of their near stranglehold on the South until recently thanks to TBS and the lack of pro baseball anywhere else in that region.)

Turn That Pep Talk Heartbeat Over Again

Stacey tried
I was halfway crucified
I was high upon the uprights
Of no tomorrow
You zapped in
And my life began again
Saved me from another weekend
Of football-free sorrow
All day long
We would sing that old fight song
And every word we sang
I knew was true

Are you with me, Doctor Lou?
Are you really just a shadow
Of the man that I once knew?
Are you crazy? Are you high?
Or just an ordinary guy?
Have you done all you can do?
Are you with me, Doctor?

Don’t seem right
I’ve been strung out here all night
I’ve been waiting for the hits
You said you’d bring to me
An edit bay
Where the football highlights play all day
I went searching for the words
You used to say to me


Wendi lies
You could see it in her eyes
But imagine my surprise
When I saw you

Are you with me, Doctor Lou?
Are you really just a shadow
Of the man that I once knew?
The money’s lovely, your bosses sly
And you’re an ordinary guy
Have they finally got to you?
Can you hear me, Doctor?
Are you with me, Doctor?

(Thanks to Awful Announcing and Saturday Sound-Offs for the first video, and apologies to Fagen and Becker.)

How To Prepare For Not Leaving Your Bunker

(Not my set-up in actual life, but fairly close. My TV is bigger — slightly.)

Whether male or female, young or old, with an excess of disposable income or scraping by with the help of the folks or plastic, the true die-hard sportaphile is always planning ahead when it comes to the return of football to suck up the majority of your Saturdays and Sundays for a good four months.

Due to the rapid-fire nature of games on Saturday (even if you do not have GamePlan, there’s action somewhere on your cable box or dish) and the existence of either Sunday Ticket or hacking via SopCast, you have to be aware of the possibility of not leaving your apartment or designated viewing spot in your house for a good 12-18 hours at a time. (Let’s not forget the fact that I’ve scheduled the Channel 4 News League fantasy draft for tomorrow, too. Oy.)

If you live in the Pacific time zone, the benefit is that you can do this while still holding onto a semblance of a social life: with the last game usually done by 10 PM, there’s plenty of time to go out afterward.

Anyway, here are the must-dos for the proper viewing. The aim is to not leave the apartment unless you smoke and need a nicotine break.

1. Do all the beer runs, shopping, and other necessities on Friday afternoon or evening. I went to Costco and the local grocery store, to return with a 24-pack of Firestone Pale Ale, various amounts of junk food, and several items that can be cooked and prepared rather quickly.  In no way do you want to be caught without the necessary drink or grub for yourself or any friends who happen to pop by.

2. Properly set and angle your television.  The true couch potato always knows prime enjoyment comes when you have to do the least movement. If you are like me, the closer to a computer (if you have a desktop), the better.

3. Get up early enough to make your hangover food run. You have until 9 AM, pretty much, to go get that breakfast burrito or anything else.

4. If you are dating or married: please follow Orson and Holly’s rules regarding sex during the season. You have a recliner and a couch.  Certain positions are available for properly shared viewing. DO NOT try to time it to the game.

5. Lie back, get prone, and accept the warmth of football washing all over you (I promise that’s not the shame of shut-in status.) Plus, every beer you drink increases the intensity.