Results tagged ‘ NFL ’

Malarchuk, Theismann and McCarthy: A Humbling Triumvirate of Danger

One and a half times.  That is how many times I have been able to watch the Brandon McCarthy play where a darting Eric Aybar comebacker destroys the Oakland A’s pitcher’s skull.  Holy mother of invisible friends, that hurts.

The first time I saw it my stomach dropped and I got real dizzy.  When the replay was shown again — this time in slow-motion — I anticipated the skull crushing but still wasn’t able to get through it.  I thought I was going to be sick.

I was sick the first time I saw Clint Malarchuk get his neck sliced by a Steve Tuttle’s skate back in Buffalo too.  In fact, I remember asking my dad if it was even real, hoping that the spewing, rhythmical blood staining the ice might be some cute Hollywood trick designed to draw in more fans.  Sadly, the situation was quite real.

As was Joe Theismann’s career ending leg snap, courtesy of Lawrence Taylor.  Even Homer Simpson had a hard time stomaching that!

The truth is, as much as we enjoy our professional sports, they do carry with them an incalculable element of danger.  Even with all that open space in Oakland, a ball can still easily find one’s head.  It found Brandon McCarthy’s, and it will find someone else’s too someday.  It’s all a part of the game.

Which reminds us that these people we watch and cheer and boo, they’re real people.  They bleed too, just like us.  And while they may have more zeroes in their bank accounts, they are putting themselves in danger for our enjoyment.  I think it’s important to remember that.

A baseball, a skate, a weakside linebacker, they can all become deadly weapons, at any time.

Get well soon, Brandon.  And here’s to hoping you get that threesome someday.

Peace,

Jeff

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Andy Williams had it all wrong.  I’m sorry, but I’ll take September’s non-stop MLB pennant chasing + NFL + Notre Dame losing to Michigan combination over cold and snow and fake Santas any day.  In fact, since it’s an election year, we get even more drama to go with our Irish-trouncing, and if you wait until the end of this post, you’ll even see that the Republicans have JOKES!

But first thing’s first: TUNE IN TO BASEBALL.  My lord, between the AL Central showdown, the A’s/Angels wild card battle and the AL East title three-way, I can’t imagine a more exciting scenario (except maybe a non-baseball related three-way, but that’s for a different blog).  Consider the NL wild card race and the fact that one of the three AL East teams could also nab the last AL West wild card spot and now allow your mind to be blown (again, maybe better for another blog).

And I haven’t even mentioned the myriad story lines decorating the start to the NFL and college football seasons!

The fact is, for dudes like Mr. Krause and I, it really doesn’t get much better than this.  Unless you want to throw in some flaccid punchline deliveries (ZING!)…

Hate me ‘cuz you can, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Not Just a Punter

The closer we get to the election, the more the rhetoric heats up.  Both sides fling out unbelievable claims trying to sway the “undecided” voter who somehow gets to decide every election.  Both parties try to get propositions and amendments on the ballot as well in an effort to get normally apathetic voters out to vote and hopefully, by extension, then also vote for that party’s guy.  It’s a cynical tactic, especially when you realize that these “tactics” affect real people.

I think that’s why I appreciated the letter Minnesota Viking’s punter Chris Kluwe recently wrote in support of Baltimore Raven, Brendon Ayanbadejo.  His second point is particularly important as it brings up something that should hit close to home for any baseball fan.  Yes, while we generally prefer that our sporting heroes don’t remind us of the difficult realities faced by many people and while many of us prefer to use sports as a means of escape, sports and the athletes who play them have a unique ability to reach a mass audience and to change social norms.  Jackie Robinson wasn’t just a baseball player.  He was the death knell of Jim Crow.  Hopefully guys like Kluwe and Ayanbadejo can do the same to this insane war on human rights being waged right now in the US.

-A

P.S. I can’t wait to hear Baseball Serendipity’s response to this one.  If it’s anything like last time, we’ll all be in for a treat.

Back to Reality

I’ve been pretty focused on the Olympics for the past couple weeks.  I’ve watched enough handball to hold me over for the next four years and realized that men’s basketball is much more fun to watch than women’s basketball.  I’ve seen decathlons, pentathlons and heptathlons.  And the best part was, I used all the Olympic goodness to ignore the silliness of what passes for news in the US as of late.  Well, that’s over.

Now it’s all about Paul Ryan and Chick-Fil-A.

Paul Ryan?  Not really a big fan.  He seems to be a return to the Bush years, years that didn’t really turn out so well for America

Chick-Fil-A?  Well, it’s chicken.  Some people love it, others don’t really care.  Me, I don’t think I’ve ever actually had Chick-Fil-A.  It’s kind of funny.  The only time I ever remember even wanting it was when I was flying through Cincinnati one afternoon.  Everything else just looked nasty so I thought I’d give it a chance.  Except that it was a Sunday so there was no Chick-Fil-A to be had.  Not exactly a point in their favor.

Man, this is going to suck.  I love politics but this race has already gone ugly and the chances of it coming back up out of the gutter are slim.  Even baseball doesn’t seem to have the power to overcome the post-Olympics slump, although I’m still holding out hope.  And if worse comes to worst, there’s always football.  It just won’t be the same without Usain Bolt, though.

-A

RSBS Presents: How to Know When You’re in Detroit

After a smoking start to the second half, the Tigers have seen their fortunes wane.  Ok, they’ve sucked.  Sure, they’re only a couple games behind the White Sox but when you’re playing in a division as bad as the AL Central, that’s not really saying a whole lot.  Detroit could still make the playoffs and even if they don’t, it’s probably still safe to say that they’re the best team in the Central.  That being said, Detroit has become known for quite a few things as of late but they don’t tend to be baseball related.

If the Tigers do make the postseason, you may find yourself in the position of visiting Windsor’s American cousin sometime this fall.  And although Detroit does have a few well-known monuments like the giant tire and the River Rouge plant, it’s easy to find yourself wondering where you are.  Since we here at RSBS would hate for you to be unaware of where you are, today we provide you with guide to identifying that you have arrived to Detroit.

ZOMBIES

Well, not yet.  But if Mark Siwak gets his way, Detroit may soon be known for its roaming zombie hoards.  This isn’t all bad as the plan could provide a boost to the city’s GDP.  It could also increase the city’s DNA with all those body parts strewn about.

WILD DOGS

The most successful cities develop clusters that support and develop the culture and economy of an urban area.  London and New York are known for their clusters of financial whizzes while the area around San Francisco has developed a reputation for tech know-how and venture capital.  Detroit?  Well, it has clusters, too.  Clusters of feral dogs.  Chances are that if you are attacked by a pack of wild dogs in a major US city, it’s pretty safe to assume that you’re in Detroit.

HOPE

Despite everything else, Detroit has become somewhat unrecognizable as of late due to the arrival of something more foreign than zombies or wild dogs.  Hope.  The auto industry received a bail-out just when it seemed that Detroit’s last economic life-line was being cut.  The University of Michigan not only had a winning football season but also managed to beat Ohio State for the first time in seven years.  And the Detroit Lions, the holders of the only 0-16 record in NFL history, actually made the playoffs last year.  That’s even more hope-y and change-y than Barack Obama.

Hopefully we’ll see you in Detroit this fall for some postseason baseball.  If so, you’ll now be able to come prepared to identify where you are.

-A

And Upon Further Review…

In football, instant replay makes sense.  Even with a team of seven officials covering each play, sometimes you just can’t be in the right place at the right time to make the right call when 22 guys are flying around at super-human speeds.  What’s more amazing is how often they get the call right despite those circumstances.  When it’s unclear whether or not they get it right, though, instant replay is there to confirm or overturn the call.  The game goes on.

Reviewing close plays in baseball is a little more contentious.  Generally I’m in favor of the evolution of the game, especially in contrast to my friend, Mr. Lung, who would prefer that all baseball players wear wool uniforms and be issued a chaw of chewing tobacco prior to the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.  But official review is one place where I’m not so sure.

The problem is, baseball is already a slow-paced game.  If you open it up to review, even that flow gets messed up.  Even the limited official review capacity that now exists for home runs seems ridiculous.  Either you make all plays reviewable or none at all.  Honestly, although I’m all for baseball’s future facing development, review is not an area where I think that makes sense.

Review does make sense in the American Democratic system, though.  Last week’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act proved that.  More surprisingly, John Roberts showed himself to be a model Chief Justice in his Constitutional application and limited justification in the majority opinion.  For me, it’s telling that although most Republicans are angry that the law was upheld, they’re not angry at Justice Roberts.  In fact, he basically made it clear in his decision that although he may not agree with the policy aspects of the law, that it met the necessary threshold to be held constitutional.

That’s one of the beautiful things about our sometimes maddening and often baffling system of government.  Laws get checked at three points by three different bodies and only after that process runs it course does the law go into effect.  Granted, the application of the same system to baseball would mean that individual games could continue indefinitely but that’s why the choice of arbiter is so important.  The Supreme Court doesn’t hear every single case that comes up through the courts or face challenges to every single law passed by Congress.  It only deals with the game-changers, events that can redefine precedent or application or laws that are unclear.

Football is similar.  Coaches choose when to throw the challenge flag and generally save it for events that are unclear, that could change the complexion of the game or that seem completely erroneous to them.  They don’t always win but they at least have the option to challenge the initial ruling.

That’s one of the big areas where review in baseball fails.  Yes, it’s not awful to review homeruns to make sure they were fair or be absolutely certain that a fan didn’t interfere.  I’m sure there are quite a few Baltimore Orioles fans who wish that review had been in place in the 90′s.  But what about that phantom final out of Armando Gallaraga’s almost perfect game?  If Leyland had been able to challenge the ruling, Gallaraga would have had the mark and we wouldn’t still be talking about it.  But, if you start making plays like that reviewable, it’s not long before you have to start making called strikes, check-swings and everything else reviewable, too.  The fact of the matter is, it just isn’t feasible and if you can’t do it right, you shouldn’t be doing it all.

Here’s how I’d call it.  Review: good for football, great for government but bad for baseball.

-A

A Pastime Passed Over

Baseball as a sport spends a lot of its time playing catch up.  It used to be the national pastime but arguably it has lost that title to either the NBA, the NFL or NASCAR.  It hasn’t captured the world’s attention in the same way that soccer has and even cricket has more global adherents (although that is admittedly due to its huge popularity in India and Pakistan).

I think a lot of it has to do with the habits of baseball players.  It’s easy to relate to NASCAR because they’re the children of former booze-running outlaws.  Add in it’s rowdy, beer-swilling redneck fanbase and you have a populist’s wet dream.

The NBA has a different kind of allure.  It’s a mix of the hard-scrabble blacktop game along with the finesse and graceful elegance of of today’s elite players.  Is there any other league that has more marijuana violations than the NBA?  I’m guessing no and that reflects an America that has also grown more lenient towards the “devil weed.”

Baseball?  You’ve got PED’s and frat boys drinking overpriced beer.  That’s the America we laugh at, not the America we want to be part of.  We like our sports to have a bit of an edge.  The reason people hate Mark Sanchez isn’t because he’s a sub-par quarterback with a questionable work ethic.  We’d put up with that if he inspired us.  But he spends more time posing for magazines than he does winning football games.  Yes, I know he’s led his team to the AFC Championship game twice but I think we can all agree that it wasn’t so much that he led them as it was him following them there.

Baseball right now is kind of like Mark Sanchez.  It doesn’t have the edge.  It doesn’t make you believe.  That’s why it’s fun to hate the Yankees but its so much more fun to hate the Heat.  My solution?  Bring back Manny and give him lots of weed.

-A

The Filibuster

Looks like MLB is going to televise the first part of the draft again.  Will Bud ever learn?

Jack
Bridgeview, IL
___________________________________

When people want to explain how boring something is, they often resort to the idiom “Like watching paint dry.”  Well, compared to the MLB draft, watching paint dry is edge-of-your-seat, action packed drama.  The sad thing is, that doesn’t mean Bud won’t keep on trying.

We all know the problem.  Succeeding in baseball requires development and in all but the rarest of cases, it’s pretty much impossible for a player to jump directly to the big leagues and make an immediate impact.  There are a lot of adjustments that even the best ballplayers have to make before they’re ready to succeed in the majors.  Bud has been in the game a long time and he obviously knows this but something keeps him from accepting it.

I’m not sure what it is.  Maybe it’s an inferiority complex because of the craziness and drama inherent to the NFL and NBA drafts.  Maybe it’s an inability to accept that baseball is different.  Maybe it’s just that Bud is completely out of touch and has made a lot of bad decisions that should have long ago cost him his job.  Whatever it is, it means that once again the MLB draft will be televised and once again no one but the absolute junkies will tune in.  Don’t tell him I said this but I bet you that not even Jeff will watch.  Yeah, it’s that boring.

Don’t get me wrong here.  The draft is important and when you look at the recent success of this year’s National’s ballclub, it’s obvious how important a good draft strategy can be.  But just because the future success of a team depends on the players a team chooses, that doesn’t mean the process is all that exciting to watch.  We know the basketball players from following them through the NCAAs.  We know the football players from the bowl games and college football saturdays.  Baseball players?  These are guys coming out of random colleges, even more random Latin American development leagues and god knows where else.  There’s no story attached to them until they make it to the big leagues.

Let me put it another way.  We all know about Len Bias and his cocaine overdose death.  Bias never played a day in the NBA but is still spoken of with reverence.  Meanwhile, until he made it to the major leagues, Josh Hamilton was just another talented athlete with substance abuse problems.  If Hamilton hadn’t have made the bigs, he’d simply be in rehab somewhere or out on the streets.

I know what Bud’s doing here.  He thinks that he can drive revenue growth by trying to create drama around the sorting process.  But you have to be invested in a person’s story in order for there to be drama.  We don’t know anything about these young baseball players so there’s no drama in watching them get drafted.  Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say there’s about as much drama as watching paint dry.

-A

Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing RSBSblog@gmail.com or by commenting below.

Moonbases and Porn and Franchises, Oh My!

As electoral campaigns get rolling and as the candidates feel a need to distinguish themselves, the quotes become more and more interesting.  Sure, there is the obvious craziness of Newt Gingrich and his moonbases but that’s just a drop in the bucket.  You expect that sort of thing from a bipolar former Speaker of the House.

But what about Rick Santorum’s pledge to ban pornography in the United States?  Number one, anyone who feels this strongly about so many “vices” must have a real problem.  Has he even heard of Mark Foley or Ted Haggard?  Number two, the states that most support Santorum, the so-called “Red States” who revel in their religiosity, also happen to be the largest consumers of porn.  Are you really going to tell me that they’ll let Mr. Santorum take away their dirty little secret?

Finally, how would you even go about doing away with porn?  Are you going to start censoring the internet and blocking sites that you consider “morally reprehensible”?  The only place I’ve ever visited where they’ve been even moderately successful with this approach is Saudi Arabia.  I don’t exactly see that as a model for the US.  Besides, you’re going to have about as much luck banning porn in the US as MLB has had in banning PEDs from baseball.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and as long as boys and ballplayers are around, there will always be a will to access porn and PEDs.

Luckily it’s not just Mr. Santorum who’s divorced from reality.  In an effort to prove that he, too, is just a regular guy, Mitt Romney recently let us know that he loves sports just like us.  In fact, he has “good friends” who own NASCAR and NFL teams.  Now, I don’t know if Mr. Romney enjoys car racing or football but there’s a pretty major difference between enjoying sports and being friends with people who own the teams.  If you can’t make that distinction, you probably ought to go back and audit Running for Office 101.

I realize that I’m being pretty hard on the Republicans here.  But, since they’re the ones in the middle of a heated primary fight, they tend to also be the ones making the ridiculous statements.  I’m sure Obama will come out with some of his own once the general election gets underway but for now, he can just sit back and let the other side say what they want.  Sounds like a plan to me.  Moonbases and porn and franchises, oh my!

-A

A Very Graphic Graphic

If you ask most baseball players if it’s justified for a pitcher to hit them with a pitch, I’m going to guess they’ll most likely say no.  Likewise, if you ask most NFL receivers if it’s OK for a defender to spear them while they’re stretched out for a pass, they’ll probably say no.  In general, it’s pretty hard to imagine someone thinking that it’s all right for someone else to hit them.

Well, unless you’re a Jordanian woman:

Graph via The Economist

We’re a week late for International Women’s Day but that doesn’t mean the topic is no longer germane.  Remember, you probably wouldn’t purposely throw a ball at someone during a baseball or softball game so you probably shouldn’t be punching your wife or girlfriend either.

-A

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