Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why I don't like Tim Tebow... with bonus Duke hate!

Here's why I don't like Tim Tebow:

Reason #2 is media oversaturation.

That's the easy one.

Tebow equals ratings right now, so ESPN and Fox are jumping fully on the bandwagon.  If he loses this week, they'll do 24/7 of what went wrong for him.  It's the same reason I don't like the Yankees, Red Sox, Notre Dame, Cowboys, Lakers, the NFL offseason and LeBron James -- the sports equivalents of Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian.  All of those topics equal higher ratings... and so the big media outlets run them into the ground.

Now then...

Reason #1:  the idea that he's an underdog competing with nothing but heart and spirit against superior athletes is nothing but idiocy and hogwash.

Tebow played at big-time high school football and college football programs with and against the finest athletes in the nation.  He's listed at 6'3, 236 pounds, fast enough to outpace linebackers, as he did last week against Miami, and strong enough to absorb a hit and deal a blow of his own.

You know what's he's competing against?  Compared to the average NFL quarterback, he can't throw.  His reads are slow, his release takes too long, his spirals are wobbly, his accuracy is inconsistent.

The defense against Tebow should be exactly the same as the defense against Michael Vick:  keep him in the pocket, don't let him run, show him different looks in the secondary, and dare him to pick you apart.

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Here's why I don't like Duke's men's basketball team, who are otherwise an utterly respectable unit with terrific talent and a legendary coach:

On offense, if their 3-pointers aren't falling, they do whatever they can to draw the foul, arms and legs flailing.  On defense, they elbow, slap, shove, trip --- and then they flop upon the first hint of contact.

If Duke ever had to play itself, offensive and defensive players flopping at the slightest provocation, it would look like Italian soccer.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A poem from the baseball season


Never a Pothole When You Need One
While watching “The Kingdom” on the team bus,
returning to Lansing from Clinton, Iowa,
we hit a bump and the audio went out.
Now we’re rooting for our team of US commandos
to hold back on killing any dirty Muslim terrorists
until the next bump.
Muted vengeance is unsatisfying.

Social Media's best contribution to society:

The feeling when you're watching a sporting event utterly momentous, and then going on Facebook and/or Twitter to realize your friends are also watching.

Last night was a prime example.  It's after midnight in the Eastern time zone.  It's nearing 1 a.m.  And there we all are, friends from North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Illinois, Delaware, New York, New Hampshire, Maryland, and Ontario brought together by the increasing drama, second-guessing managerial moves, having heart attacks with every pitch, increasing in number by the minute to join together in fandom.  I'm watching alone in my apartment in Michigan, and yet I'm not alone in the slightest.

It's a beautiful thing.

(It's even better it's one of those sneaky sort of games that you don't realize is turning into a classic until you reach the very end.  Butler vs. Pittsburgh in the NCAA tourney.  Boise State vs. Nevada at the end of last year's college football season.  US women's soccer vs. Brazil in the World Cup.)

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Social Media's worst contribution to society is lending anonymous power to loud-mouthed small-minded schlemiels, but that's another story.

Let's talk Game 6

When the World Series began, I wasn't rooting for either the Cardinals or the Rangers -- I only wanted Game 7.  I have no dog in the fight, favoring neither the Cardinals or the Rangers.  Ever since the World Series began, I have been rooting only for a Game 7.

Now, after a fantastic first five games and last night's Game 6, we're here.

When David Freese lined his two-out, two-strike, two-run game-tying triple in the ninth, the game became great.  When Lance Berkman answered Josh Hamilton's two-run homer by lacing his two-out, two-strike game-tying single in the tenth, the game became classic.  When David Freese walked off in the eleventh, it was added to the pantheon of epic World Series games.

Game 7.  No rain in the forecast.  Let's do this.

The most anticlimactic Game 7 in World Series history (that I can think of off the top of my head) was 1985.  Kansas City vs. St. Louis.  First base ump Don Denkinger's blown call highlighted a Royals 9th inning comeback in Game 6.  In the series clincher, the Cardinals embarrassingly imploded.  Final score:  KC 11, StL 0.  Don't remind the folks at Busch.

Somehow I don't think tonight will be anticlimactic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quality Control

My perspective is inexpert, but I'd say that the NHL is currently being played at an enormously high level, the World Series is being contested in a set of outstanding baseball games... and the NFL consists of utterly poor football.

The NFL is the ACC right now.  One excellent team (Green Bay equaling Clemson), a couple of fine - albeit schizophrenic - contenders, and an overwhelming amount of mediocrities and doormats.

Pro football is the most popular sport in America at the moment not because of its entertainment level, but because of gambling and fantasy football, neither of which require good quarterbacking or solid tackling.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The problem with leagues

1.  Teams in a league are owned separately.  The league is one.  The teams are many.

2.  Teams are supported by separate fanbases, relying on those fanbases to stay in business thanks to ticket and merchandise purchases.

3.  Fanbases, with rare exceptions (Tampa Bay, Oakland), support winning teams.  Few fanbases (Kansas City, Chicago) support losing teams.

4.  For every winning team, there is a losing team.  For every dynamic powerhouse, there is a pathetic unit going nowhere.

Put these together:  I have not seen a league yet in which every franchise was thriving economically.

Walking to the Back of the Team Bus at 3:30 a.m.

The initial steps, past the pair of seats with only one occupant, go without incident.

Coaches recline in their seats and snore away their stresses.  Veteran players lean back upon their faithful pillows and dream of what still might be.

The aisle is left unbothered.

Knees begin to appear where the players begin doubling up, jutting into the aisle from all angles.  Dexterity is needed to maneuver around them.  No need to rouse a player from his slumber.  Let sleeping starters lie.

The first true obstacle appears:  The long legs of a dozing outfielder extending across the area between seats, stretching onto the nearest armrest.  Behind him, the longer legs of a pitcher cross from the opposite direction, his feet mounted high atop the headrest of a teammate.

He who hesitates here is wise.

Crossed legs, like the crossbones beneath the skull on a pirate’s flag, signal that a dangerous situation is near.  For players to stretch out so widely, there must be another player missing from his seat.

And there he is, curled up in the darkened aisle, utterly unaware that he might be stumbled over by an unassuming busmate.

If it is worth it to proceed, despite this obstacle, step up on an unoccupied armrest and negotiate a path above the crossed legs, stepping carefully from armrest to armrest, seat to seat, until clear ground can be found.

It is a perilous path. Trust that the motorcoach operator does not choose to take a curve in a hurry, jam upon his brakes, or do anything else unexpected or untoward that might send everyone hurtling together at once.

Sleeping, like traversing a crowded bus, is accomplished best by the man who trusts in his driver.

At last, after several uneasy steps, an empty stretch of aisle is found for a landing spot.

Halfway there!

A daring attitude creeps in at the sight of more raised feet.  Why not tap the players in question and see if they’ll move?

They do, half-consciously, one after another, swinging their legs away for a half-second to allow quick passage, before returning to their previous positions.

Another prone form is revealed in the aisle, again blocking the way.

No matter.  Up onto an empty armrest once more, beginning the dangerous tightrope dance anew, until it looks safe to come down and –  Oh, good G-d.  What was just stepped on?

A considerate semi-awake player sees fit to use his smartphone in one of its most practical functions, illuminating the aisle and revealing that the soft thing underfoot – was a duffle bag, thank goodness, and not a shortstop.

With the newfound light, the final steps come easier, edging around several of the pointier knees and smellier feet in the league, until at last there is only one last outstretched body in the way, stretching out horizontally like a tollgate.  By this time, all proper respect and consideration is tossed to the wind.  The player’s legs are lifted directly out of the way, no toll necessary.

His immediate reaction is one of grumpy understanding, especially once he sees the door opened.

It is an unenviable route to the bathroom on the team bus, but it is always worth it.