Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Success is all about expectations

With the NFL draft just passing, it got me thinking about successful draft picks. What makes someone a success? Obviously Tim Tebow will not be a success. He has no discernible quarterback talent. He might have the ability to become a successful priest, but perhaps not, because he seems obnoxious and too preachy about religion. But anyways, if Sam Bradford starts for the Rams for 10 years but never makes a pro bowl, was he a success? Most people would say no, he would be a bit of a disappointment. However, if Colt McCoy has the same career, I think he would be looked upon as a great success. It is all about expectations.

This is never more evident than in basketball. Sometimes determining the success of someone's career is easy. Mateen Cleaves was a star of stars in college basketball during the '90s. He led his Michigan State Spartans to a national title in fact. However, he never played more than mop up minutes in the NBA. His professional basketball career, by any measurements, was not successful. But it is not always that simple.

My favorite example of determining success is Kenyon Martin. He currently plays for the Denver Nuggets. He plays well, he is a solid contributer to their team and the organization. He has been a starter for them for a number of years. His numbers are not outrageous but he never seemed like that type of player. He is a defensive forward who helps in many different ways. For someone to play in the NBA for over a decade, makes millions upon millions of dollars, and be reasonably good, they must be a success. But then you forget that Kenyon Martin was the number one overall selection when he was drafted out of college. Number One. The first pick in a draft is supposed to carry a franchise to multiple titles and win scoring titles and go down in history. Kenyon Martin has done none of those things and never will. He, by standards of where he was drafted, should be described as somewhat of a disappointment. There is no way around it.

Another of my favorite examples of success from the basketball ranks is Chris Webber. He is one of the 50 most talented players in NBA history. This is not even up for debate. He is one of the best passing forwards to ever play. Also, not debatable. He made a ton of money. Let that speak for itself. Some other descriptions of Chris Webber are as follows: he never won a championship. His career was derailed and cut short by numerous injuries. Although he was one of the 50 most talented players to ever live, he was by no means one of the 50 best players to ever play. This, as was the first statement, is not up for debate. It is simply a fact. Do all these things make Chris Webber a success or a failure? Ideally, we would just say 'somewhere in between.' But that is taking the easy way out.

Ken Griffey Jr., unlike Chris Webber, is definitely one of the 50 greatest players ever to play his sport. He is a sure-fire Hall of Fame member five years after he retires. His numbers are astronomical and sit up beside the legends of the game. But wasn't he supposed to be more? Aren't people sad and disappointed now when someone mentions Griffey? 'Imagine if he didn't get hurt.' 'What if he could just have stayed healthy in Cincinnati?' Without the injuries Griffey Jr. is the greatest player of the last half century. Now, he is simply one of the best of his generation. Without the setbacks, Griffey Jr. is the world home run hitting champion (until/if Alex Rodriquez passes whatever number would have been set.) Ken Griffey Jr. had a successful career, but is it not also a bit of a disappointment? Can it be both?

In the other camp remains players such as Terrell Davis, Priest Holmes, Paul Pierce, and Roy Halladay. This list is miles long. It is of players who so clearly and defiantly surpassed all expectations. Whether they were drafted late, not drafted at all, or just turned out to be really, really, really good, no one on this list could be described as anything but a complete success. However, few of them would be described as being more talented than Chris Webber, or a better player than Ken Griffey Jr. It is all about what was expected of them.

I believe it was Peter Parker's grandfather who said it best. "With great power comes great responsibility." With tremendous talent, comes even higher expectations. Someone is a success if they live up to, or surpass expectations. On the other side of the coin, someone can be deemed a failure if they come short of what was expected of them. Whether that is fair or not is probably another column by itself. Obviously each player determines on their own how they feel about their career. I have a feeling someone like Chris Webber is very happy with his NBA life and how it turned out, even if history is not.

When it comes down to it, the individual is free to decide whether they are pleased with their output. Except for Curtis Enis. We decide for him, and we are not pleased.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Miscellaneous Me

With so much going on in the world of sports right now, (NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, NFL draft, MLB regular season. April is pretty much sports' busiest time of year) I thought I'd ignore them all and mention a few facts about nothing in particular. We'll do this bullet point style:

- I suck at Streak for the Cash. My highest streak ever is nine in a row.

- Chuck Klosterman is one wildly entertaining fellow.

- I rarely see movies in the theaters.

- Todd Helton is historically very underrated, just check his numbers.
- Todd Helton is still not fun to watch or root for.

- Since the top five highest grossing movies in the history of cinema have all been made in the last five to ten years, that honor has now become irrelevant.

- Season six of Lost is just as good or better than any previous season and I do not care who disagrees with that sentiment.

- Community is funnier than any show on CBS.

- I am on the edge of my seat waiting to find out along what plot line they split the two remaining Harry Potter films.
- The previous fact is not a joke nor exaggerated.

- Douglas Adams didn't get enough pub while he was still alive.

- I have terrible luck with favorite players:
-Ken Griffey Jr. fell off a cliff.
-Tracy McGrady fell off a larger, much steeper cliff.
-Barry Sanders never won a title, then retired way too early to avoid the proverbial cliff falling incident.
-I don't have a favorite hockey player, although Dany Heatley always ends up on my fantasy team. Do with that information what you wish.

- Brad Pitt has been in a tremendously large amount of very entertaining movies.
- Snatch is the greatest movie ever made and Brad Pitt steals every scene he's in.

-The Real World/Road Rules Challenges are so good and I can't explain why.
- I am on Team Wes, not Team Kenny.

- I love, love, love the NY Yankees and NY Giants yet am never biased towards them. If I am, call me on it...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Imaginary 2010 NFL draft

The real 2010 NFL draft begins in just a few hours, in prime time for the first time ever, I assume to screw over the NBA and NHL, who are airing playoff games tonight. If the NFL draft gets higher ratings than playoff games in those other sports, isn't that just rubbing it in? The NFL is like a middle school bully, but in this case, a bully who everyone openly and clearly loves over all other students.

But anyways, the real draft is tonight. What would take place during the draft if money didn't matter though? What would that imaginary draft look like? Already today, we had a 'monumental' sports story that sided with the 'this is better for our sport' argument, rather than the 'this would make us a s-*t ton of money' argument. The NCAA decided to re-up with CBS for the basketball March Madness tournament, and only expand to 68 teams, rather than the proposed 96. So let's say the NFL takes a page from the college ranks. Let us pretend money won't drive every pick in tonight's first round. Let us pretend there is no error with the rookie salary scale. Let us pretend positional ranking systems don't matter. Let us pretend no decisions will be made to save a coach's job for one more year rather than improve the team for the next decade. What would this imaginary draft look like?

Right out of the gate, Ndamukong Suh will go number 1. Why? Because he is the best player. In the real world, no defensive tackle is worth $50 million guaranteed. A franchise cannot take a chance on that position number 1 overall. Quarterback is the Rams' pick by default almost. In our imaginary world, the Rams can actually take the best player and just draft a quarterback next year when the QB crop is a little more promising.

Gerald McCoy will be the second pick, to the Detroit Lions. No-brainer, no discussion.

As we move forward in the draft, not every pick changes. Some teams, in real life, actually will choose a player that will help their team the most, rather than factoring in everything else that comes with the territory. Allow me to focus on the major changes that would occur in our fake world.

Eric Berry would be taken third. Yes, he is that good. The only reason he probably won't be taken in the top five tonight is because he plays safety. Safety is not worth a top five pick in positional value rankings done by the people 'in the know.' It would be too expensive for someone who plays that position. I can't explain why, so don't ask me.

Our poster boy Sam Bradford would be taken in the top ten, barely. At the end of the NCAA season, did anyone ever mention Bradford as a potential number 1 pick? No, and the reason was because he wasn't outstanding. This is a very poor quarterback group coming out, and I am not quite sure where all the groundswell of support came from for these guys, including Bradford. He'd be taken ninth, by Buffalo during the imaginary draft. He is not a bad prospect, but not even close to a sure thing. Mark Sanchez would have went ahead of him if they were both in this year's draft.

Other movers would include Maurkice Pouncey. He plays center. Is he better than many of the left tackles that are projected ahead of him? Perhaps. Will he be taken ahead of any of them in the real draft? Not a chance. He plays center. Teams cannot spend a top 10-15 pick on a center. Not enough bang for the hypothetical buck.

Further on in our fake draft, Tim Tebow will be taken ... in the third round, mostly because he isn't very talented. Also, now we are able to factor in the fact that he is not very talented, rather than making a draft pick with the purpose of selling tickets. (I'm looking at you Jacksonville!)

Another player whose draft position suffers would be C.J. Spiller. Everyone loves taking running backs. The problem is Spiller is not great. He just has zero competition. Any team who has even a remote need at running back needs to draft him early or miss out. Steve Slaton, taken two years ago by the Texans, is a good Spiller comparison. Slaton had a very good year one and a very poor year two, but I would not call him a bust. He was a solid pick. The problem for Spiller is that Slaton was taken in the third round, not the first, and Slaton was better than Spiller in college. This does not bode well for C.J.

One more mover in our imaginary draft is Rolando McClain. Instead of being taken 11th as projected, he would drop to 15th overall. To the New York Giants. Not because of anything I've covered up to this point, but because that would be freaking sweet. It's my draft, I can imagine whatever I want!

And with the last pick in the seventh round of the 2010 imaginary NFL draft, whatever team has that compensatory pick will take ... aw who cares? He's called Mr. Irrelevant for a reason.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Playoffs rooting interest II

Okay, we're about midway through the NHL playoffs' round one at this point. I just thought I'd fill you in on the teams and story lines you should be cheering for, and those teams to wish ill will upon.

Our first match-up in the eastern conference pits the one seed Washington Caps against the Montreal Canadians. Even though this was a mismatch on paper, the Canadians were able to steal game one and, frankly, should have won game two as well. For all those who like rooting for the underdog, this is not the series for you. We want the one seed to advance, for the simple reason that we want to watch them again next round. No one feels sorry for the Canadians, they have had their fair share of Stanley Cup titles in the past. With that being the case, we should all just want this talent rich Caps team to keep playing. Everyone knows Alex Ovechkin, but they have a number of other talented, young players by his side, including Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. These are all people we, as fans, want to see keep skating. Forget rooting for the upset; this isn't March Madness.

(In fact, I wish March Madness had less upsets. As the gasping and 'I don't believe its' start, let me clarify. I enjoy the upsets in the first couple rounds, but at some point, don't we want to see the best teams play each other? I would have much rather seen a championship game of Kentucky vs. Ohio State, or something of that ilk, than the game we got this year. Butler could have still made the final four; that would have been fine. But for the title, give me two loaded teams doing battle. It is just more fun to watch. Hockey is like that every round. I want the talent loaded teams to keep playing.)

The Devils - Flyers series is a piece of cake to pick sides for. The Devils are awful to watch, and awful to root for. We're taking the Flyers by default. And secretly, doesn't everyone kind of hate Martin Brodeur? I enjoyed when he got benched during the Olympics.

In the 3-6 game, Buffalo is facing Boston. Even though nearly all Boston area sports teams are indefensible and irritating, the Bruins do not really fit that bill. However, we, as Americans, have to pull for Ryan Miller, Buffalo's goalie. He carried our nation into the Olympic gold medal hockey game earlier this year. Residual patriotism states that we must root for the Sabres for at least one round.

The last pairing in the east has the defending champion Penguins playing the Ottawa Senators. Now before I share my rooting interest, let me state I am a slightly band wagon-y, slightly retired Senators fan. A couple years back, I used to love all their players and root for them to win. They were 'my' hockey team. However, many of those players are now gone. Dany Heatley, Martin Havlat, Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara, etc. etc. These were all my guys. Now, the only old Sen remaining is Daniel Alfreddson. With that being the case, I have not really kept my allegiance. In fact, I still pull for those other guys. My fantasy hockey team this year had nearly a dozen former Senators on it at one time or another throughout the year. (I finished in second place; not bad for someone who does not watch a single regular season game.) Since I have moved on from my Ottawa crush, I feel as though we must follow the talent, as with the Capitals. How, as a hockey fan, can you want Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to get eliminated? It just wouldn't be right. And with the ultimate Capitals - Penguins match-up possibly looming, we have to pull for these two teams even harder.

The western conference isn't as much fun for me. There are more teams that I am rooting against than teams I actually want to win. The Sharks are playing the Avalanche in round one. San Jose is a loaded team every year who never puts it together come playoff time. They are choke artists. This year, yet again, they have loads of talent, and had a tremendous regular season. Yet, as a Sharks fan, you can't feel comfortable about their championship prospects. Since I have no ties to this Colorado team, I feel like we should root for the Sharks, just because we feel bad for them. Let's hope they can put it together for once, and not make complete fools out of themselves for the nth straight year.

Another talent-rich team this season is the Chicago Blackhawks. They face off against the Predators. To be honest, without looking it up, I cannot think of a player on the Predators. In fact, I don't know if I have ever seen them play. Also, Chicago has Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews: two very young, very talented players, who are fun to watch and root for. This round of play is no exception. (I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Predators are from Nashville, but don't hold me to that; it is just a guess.)

Los Angeles is playing Vancouver in the North American battle that everyone is talking about. The LA Kings are trying to regain popularity with a crop of young, up-and-coming stars. The Canucks are playing for the nation of Canada (since Montreal and Ottawa will probably be eliminated) and are anchored by Roberto Luongo, one of the best goalies in the league. This year, they even have offensive stars, a real treat for long suffering Canucks fans, who are used to a grind-it-out pace, with everyone hoping Luongo wins the game for them. The Sedin twins have changed that. Daniel and Henrik Sedin are on a mission to bring Vancouver into the new generation of hockey. Henrik took a nice first step by winning the scoring title this season. (Yep, he beat Ovechkin and Crosby. Who knew? ... Well me, I drafted him last November on my fantasy team. ... No, I'm not bragging, just boasting. ... Yes, there is a difference.) In the end, let's give Canada at least one team in the second round. We took everything else from them.

Our last series of the first round sees the Phoenix Coyotes playing the Detroit Red Wings. Let me wrap this up rather quickly. The Red Wings are old, they win all the time, no one likes them. Does that cover it? Go Coyotes!

As for the coming rounds, I just hope for some great match-ups to occur. I want to see the Penguins play the Capitals either round two or in the conference finals. (NHL re-seeds teams each round during the playoffs, so match-ups are not yet set.) It would also be interesting to see San Jose face Chicago at some point in the west, just from a talent stand point. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Playoffs rooting interest

April is the time of year when normal sports fans tune in to get their first taste of the NBA and NHL seasons. No one in their right mind watches these sports' regular seasons. With that being the case, I would like to fill everyone in on the teams and stories to cheer for: the rooting interest guide. Now clearly this won't be something to follow if your team is actually in play. If for some odd reason, you happen to be a die-hard Red Wings fan, go ahead and root for them, just be aware, no one else will be with you.

Let us start with the NBA playoffs, and to be clear, this is who we all should want to win, not necessarily who probably will. Our first series in the west pits the defending champion LA Lakers against the rising stars from the OKC. This is a no-brainer. We want the Thunder to win. Who likes the Lakers besides Los Angeles residents and the parents of the players? Let's move on.

The Mavericks play the Spurs in the 2-7 match-up. Really a lose-lose in terms of finding a villain here. Some people may dislike Tim Duncan because he likes to whine and complain, but he takes care of business year in and year out, and he's a cagey veteran; hard to root against in my opinion. Others may dislike Tony Parker because he is French and dates (is married to?) Eva Longoria. (They may not even be together anymore, I don't keep up with these things. But the fact remains, he, at one time, dated Eva Longoria.) This dislike is totally granted. He is also a point guard who never shoots threes, a killer for fantasy purposes. On the other hand, the Mavs have the feeling of a team who is always good but never wins, a la the San Jose Sharks. This inherently forces people to root for them to finally get over the hump, but not enough to actually want them to win anything. In the end, who really cares who wins this? Just root for Dallas.

Blazers-Suns is a very interesting match-up. These are actually two teams who you want to root for, unfortunately playing each other round one. Also, each may have an injury that prevents them from getting past round two. The Blazers will be lucky to win a game without their best player, Brandon Roy. The Suns have their starting center Robin Lopez out as well, who would have been a huge cog in a western conference finals run for them. The Blazers just seem snake-bitten this season, and don't have much of a chance. The Suns have everyone's second favorite Canadian (behind Mike Myers obviously) in Steve Nash. How can you not root for an old, white guy to stick it to The Man? Let's go Suns.

The last western conference battle pits the Jazz against the Nuggets. Ordinarily, neither team would have me caring who won. I kind of like Deron Williams, but only if I'm able to secure him on my fantasy team each season. The easy fan-favorite this time around has to be the Nuggets. Their coach, George Karl, has cancer and hasn't been able to be with the team much at all this past month. It would just be rude to cheer for the Jazz here, even if you live in Utah. Just plain rude.

As for the eastern conference, we have a much easier go of things. The Cleveland Cavaliers face the Bulls in round one. Advance Lebron, you know you want to. No basketball fan wants to see the Cavs out first round. And this is coming from someone who loves Derrick Rose. Same goes for the Orlando-Charlotte series. The sixteen Bobcats fans around the country might pull for these underdogs, but everyone else should just want Dwight Howard and the Magic to move on.

The 3-6 Hawks-Bucks is kind of a fun series. Both are young teams with some flashy shooters who can get hot. The Hawks are clearly more talented and have the experience, and the Bucks lost Andrew Bogut, their center, at the end of the regular season. Who WILL win is not up for debate, but who should we want to win? I still like Atlanta here. Athletic, long, young teams are fun to root for. Joe Johnson is a fantastic player who wants to leave Atlanta on a high note. Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford are just fun to watch. And if Mike Bibby was still alive, I am sure he would be a nice addition to this team. Let's hope the Hawks move on to the next round.

Our last match-up in the first round of the NBA playoffs will have the Miami Heat playing the beloved Boston Celtics. I'm sorry, did I say beloved? I meant whatever the opposite of that is. Talk about having no likability. Good thing that Lakers-Celtics rivalry does not force us to pick a side, because both teams are just so fun to root against. You have to back Dwyane Wade and the Heat here, no question.

That wraps up the first round games. We should all cheer and root for these teams to advance. I would go into the conference semi-finals and finals but if any of these teams don't win, that changes our whole rooting interest, and also, Cleveland is going to win the championship, so what's the difference? One caveat however, shouldn't Cavaliers fans be rooting for them NOT to win? If LeBron leads them to a title, he's leaving town, right?...well let's not get into that. That is a whole other column.

Part Two: who to root against in the NHL playoffs (other than the Red Wings) will be coming soon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to enjoy Lost

First off, the ABC network drama Lost is freaking sweet. Second, I was late to this party. I grabbed my seat on the Lost bandwagon somewhere between Juliet smashing the hydrogen bomb and Juliet dying.

(I refuse to give a 'spoiler alert' to anyone in any instance. It seems arbitrary and unnecessary. If you decide to read an article about something, in this case a television program, in which you are not caught up with the story, it is your own fault if something gets spoiled. Why would anyone write about a topic and not make it as current as possible? That would be like me writing an NBA playoff preview column from the perspective of two weeks ago before we knew the match-ups.)

Now, I am sure it still is not clear when I began watching Lost since it is not really clear when or in what reality Juliet died, assuming she is, in fact, dead. The point is, I decided to jump in after season five had concluded, but well prior to season six, which turned out to be the greatest television-show-watching decision of my life. I was able to use my friendly neighborhood Hulu, and watch every episode in a row. Starting with the plane crash in season one, and ending with the plane not crashing to begin season six, I was in complete control. I would watch an episode, and if I was left confused, (which happened roughly 88% of the time) I would immediately watch another. If I was delighted and wanted to ponder what had transpired, I would take a few days before delving back in. I controlled the pace so Lost didn't control me. This is the ideal way to enjoy Lost. However, I am well aware this is not helpful to most people, nor me to anymore. Since I am caught up, I am now forced to wait a week between episodes like every other sorry sap. And it really is torture.

No worries though. I am here to help, with the ultimate guide to get the most out of your Lost viewing experience. The first, and probably most important thing to have at your disposal, is the ability to pause the program. I usually watch my Lost the next day online, rather than live on ABC. Or, for everyone who lives in the 21st century and has a DVR, you can pause while watching live on ABC. (I guess watching any program the next day on the internet is pretty 21st century too) This is key to give yourself time to react and recover. Two weeks ago, when Charlie was drowning in the car and Desmond had the flash sideways to connect the two realities, I was forced to pause. I literally got out of my chair and walked around my apartment saying "Oh man, oh man." Then again this past week, my mind was boggled when Libby sat down to talk with Hurley, a man she had supposedly never met before, yet could remember. Without this capability, you are at the mercy of the network, actually hoping for a commercial break that would not have come, so you could simply digest what had transpired.

The next key to maximizing your Lost enjoyment is simple. Have faith. I realize this is easier said than done. I, myself, have had times where my faith has wavered; I was considering turning to another, perhaps to Fringe or 24. (That's a complete lie. I never watch anything on Fox besides cartoons.) Have faith in the fact that the Lost writers will get us back. That is the key. No matter how far off we come, they will bring us back. So far, through five and a half seasons, I feel good about this. When the time travel started a few seasons back, I know many were skeptical that this show could right itself. Well no more. After a few island jumps and bright flashes, us fans know that it really does not matter in the least what year it is. When we first encountered the billows of smoke that seemed to emanate fear and death, we were worried that none of it made sense. Well no more. Now we all realize that the smoke monster did in fact bring fear and death; there was no reason to feel confused. When Hugo Reyes first started seeing people who were known to have died, and had the ability to speak with them, we might have been at our last straws. Well no more. Midway through season six, the loyal followers know Hugo Reyes can see and talk with people who have died. It is a real load off. So the bottom line is to have faith that the Lost writers will take us to the end of this journey safely, just as they have done thus far.

The last way to fully enjoy Lost is easier and more important than all the other ways to enjoy Lost. Never try to figure out what is going on. Never. It makes your whole viewing experience stress free. Don't worry about if Sayid is dead or not. They will let us know. Who cares why some characters in the 'alternate reality' can remember the other world and some cannot. Is the fact that Sun and Jin can never catch up to each other symbolizing something? Is each character's sideways life somehow reflexive of how they acted and the people they followed in the current world? Maybe, maybe not, but the point is, never try to figure this out.

If you follow all these tips, Lost will be a shining beacon in your life every Tuesday night.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Tomorrow is April 16th. It shouldn't be a special day. In fact, it used to be a completely ordinary day. However, I am a Virginia Tech Hokie and April 16th is now forever special for all the wrong reasons.

Whenever anyone asks me what it was like to 'be there' I get upset. I don't get upset at them for asking. Far from it. It shows they care, at least a little. I get upset at myself because I never have any idea how to answer them.

I recently read one of Chuck Klosterman's books. He writes collections of essays, and oftentimes throws in passages from a random interview he once did. This is one of those passages. I have no idea what the original interview was pertaining to, nor does it really matter. The fact is, after I read through it, I immediately thought of myself after someone asks me what it was like to 'be there.'

“Q. How did that make you feel?

A. No idea.

Q. Oh, come on. How did it make you feel?

A. I don’t know. I know what you expect me to say, and I know what kind of response you're hoping I'll give you, and I know how other people might feel if they were in my position, and I know that I'm supposed to feel something, because this was a very traumatic event. But I don’t know how I feel, even though I know there are feelings somewhere inside me. It's just that I can't possibly verbalize what that feeling feels like.

Q. Why don’t you just try? Who cares if you're wrong? What is the harm in being wrong?

A. Because why would I want to get something wrong just so it will make more sense to you? It still won't make any sense to me.”

-Chuck Klosterman, Eating the Dinosaur (very entertaining book by the way.)

I'd say more, but I don't know what to say.

Love the laundry

With all the talk about the Yankees needing to re-sign Derek Jeter for a contract well more than he might be worth, just because he HAS to stay a Yankee, I thought I'd delve into the phenomenon of getting attached to players.

Let me preface this by saying I have an undying and unhealthy love for both the New York Yankees, as well as the New York Giants. But, the key is, my awkward, stalker-ish love is for the pinstripes or the Giant blue, not the players themselves. If Derek Jeter wants $22 million a year after this season, maybe it's time to pull the plug, bring in/up a spot filler and look for the next Jeter. Thanks for the memories Jete! I understand the mindset that he wants to retire as a Yankee. But he has that option; it is all up to him, just ask for what you're worth as an old short stop. The feeling that the Yankees must pay him whatever he asks for is absurd.

A similar instance happened with my boys in blue last week. With all the Ben Roethlisberger news, 'people' were throwing out ideas of where the Steelers could trade him and someone said to trade him to the Giants for Eli Manning...and I loved the idea! I have no emotional attachment to Eli. We won a superbowl with his arm behind center, and it was fantastic, yet I want the Giants to win again; I could not care less whether Eli himself wins another ring.

This obsession with loving the players on 'your team' unconditionally just because they happened to be on the team when you started following, or the owner happened to make a move to get them is an odd bit of human nature in my opinion. By all means, root for these guys, but not because you care about them specifically, because you shouldn't. Root for them because they are on YOUR team.

I feel this working the opposite way with fans as well. I, as a Yankee fan, must hate the Red Sox, and I do. I currently dislike greatly every player on their team. However, I don't hate Manny Ramirez. I used to, believe me. But now? Who cares? He's on the Dodgers, a team I have no feelings towards one way or the other. I don't know Manny personally, I only used to hate him because of the uniform he wore. That should be that. Similarly, if my football Giants traded for heated rival Marion Barber tomorrow, I would throw my hands up in celebration. I root against Barber every week, because he is on the Cowboys, and for no other reason.

I guess the bottom line is to root for the laundry. If you have favorite players, and I do, don't worry about what uniform they wear. My favorite players have never played on my teams. Not sure I did this on purpose or consciously, but it happened that way, and I find the whole thing much easier to tolerate. Now, when a trade or release goes down, I just check the facts. Was it a good trade for my team? Did we improve? Oh, we got rid of a what? I just love the laundry.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How quickly we forget

On the eve of the NBA regular season coming to a close and the playoffs kicking off, I thought I'd address America's love affair with the Durantula.

Kevin Durant (or KD as I call him) is a phenomenon the likes of which we haven't seen in years, right?....right? What a force scoring the rock. What an unstoppable machine. Someone over 6'8" that can shoot that well, has that type of handle, can drive with ease. He must be peerless. He is going to win seven scoring titles, at least, including 2009-2010 with Lebron resting.

I cannot remember the last time someone this big/long could score like this. That was actually 'you' talking right there, not me. Me personally, I CAN remember, because it happened in the 2000s. It happened while everyone who says they can't remember it happening was alive and kicking. And it was done by someone who, funny enough, still plays in the league with the aforementioned Durantula. His nickname isn't as catchy or as cool; they just call him T-Mac.

For those with really short memories, Tracy McGrady won two scoring titles. He has the measurements, clocking in at a slick and nimble 6'9" last time I checked. Once upon a time, he had the sweet jumper where distance was no object, as well as the silky smooth driving ability. He was even known to throw himself alley-oops off the backboard, just to wrack up the assist and the points. (I'm not an official scorer. Does he get the assist and the points? Perhaps a rebound and the points? Either way, he was padding those stats.) 'People' want to say Durant is legendary because of how he is dominating so young. After all, he is only 21. Well, McGrady, after deciding to skip his year of college, went pro out of high school, and it took him all the way to age 24 to win the league scoring title. So Durant may have him by a few years...assuming he actually wins a scoring title this year or the next.

History has been so unkind to Tracy then, simply because of the postseason failures. It's common knowledge. I mean, just look at his numbers; his team could never win a playoff series with him, those numbers must be terrible. 33.8 30.8 31.7 30.7 25.3 27.0 Those are Tracy McGrady's playoff scoring averages with the Magic and Rockets respectively. Not too shabby. I guess we will have to wait a week to see if KD can live up to that legend.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The power of the sequel

Sequels are a powerful thing. I, like most Americans, will go see a movie just because of the simple fact that 'I saw the first one.' If we are familiar with the characters, we stick with the story; we like to follow things we are used to.

This is one reason I am afraid to start reading a science fiction series. Once I read the first one, if it is remotely entertaining in the least, I'm stuck through the end. I can't abandon those characters. It is the reason Friends was so popular. The first two or so seasons were not bad. That is all it took. Everyone was hooked. The next seven years people tuned in to watch the characters; no one cared about the plot of any episodes, not in the least.

This is obviously why such a large percentage of movies are based on 'something.' A new movie is always based off a book, comic, previous movie; rarely is a blockbuster movie an original idea. It is just easier to secure viewers with something they already know.

This now gets me to my point. The Cleveland Show sucks, right? I have trouble knowing for sure because I have followed Cleveland Brown for many a year on Spooner Street and grew to enjoy his antics and slow drawl. But The Cleveland Show is not good. Rarely is it funny for a whole episode. Rarely does it make me laugh out loud. In fact, I routinely get annoyed by segments in the show. However, I have yet to miss an episode. I have seen every Cleveland Show that has ever aired. Now maybe I am not like most people. Perhaps others would quit on such a product; or perhaps that is just the power of the sequel.

Sports bother me III

Santonio Holmes was just traded. Literally, just traded, over night or early this morning. And already, I am bothered by the reactions. First, let's recap the trade. Holmes is a good to very good wide receiver. He isn't a top five guy, but only five guys are. He is better than any wide receiver that can be drafted later this month. Taking that into account, he was traded for a 5th round pick. I am sure both parties, the Jets and Steelers, were aware he would be suspended for the first four games of the season. So it isn't a ridiculous steal of a trade, but a steal nonetheless.

Now what bothered me about the reactions was not even that 'people' were upset he was dealt for so little. They were wondering whether Jets fans should even want him on their team.....wait, what? This is why sports bother me sometimes. Why would Jets fans not want him? He's a bad guy? Who cares!? Unless said player is going to negatively impact your franchise, and in this case, the four game suspension was already known, what is the difference if he's a jerk or a crook, etc? There are a hundred guys in the NFL that are bad guys. Just like there are probably a few dozen wherever you work. Maybe your barber or butcher (do people still have butchers?) is a crook and you don't know it. These people's shortcomings don't affect me in the least. My figurative team added a pro-bowl caliber player, helping them move further in the playoffs, and I am suppose to care that he got caught with marijuana? Why? I'm not modeling my life or my future children's lives after him. If you are, maybe that's more of a problem than Santonio Holmes getting arrested.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sports bother me II

The NHL regular season ends today. I have not watched a single game. Likewise, the NBA wraps up this week and I have yet to sit and watch a full game. But do not for a second assume I don't like/care about these sports because that is false. I have at least one fantasy hockey team every season and at least two fantasy basketball teams. Whether it adds to my point or not I'm not quite sure, but I do very well in both, actually better in hockey. I also love the playoffs in each. Can't miss television, especially playoff hockey; it is fantastic.

The point is (I know I probably shouldn't refer to my point before it has been addressed; I'm new at this) what is the point of the regular season? More than 50% of each league makes the playoffs. Teams under .500 often make the playoffs in basketball, including, more than likely, another this season. What is to gain from having the regular seasons so long? But it's not just that, because baseball is obviously a very long regular season, yet I hate to miss a game. There is something inherently wrong with what the NHL and NBA are doing and I can't quite put my finger on it.

When the puck drops for the Stanley cup playoffs, I am in. I'll watch every round. Same for the NBA playoffs. There is nothing wrong with the sports themselves, just their seasons. People have suggested/hoped for cuts in games down to 72 or so. Would that help anything? I still cannot find anything remotely exciting or interesting about a regular season game, even if Kobe is playing Lebron, or Sid the Kid is facing Alex the Great. I understand some people (very few people) love to watch it for the majesty of the game and for the talent displayed, but I can never get past the overwhelming feeling that this specific game means absolutely nothing.

I don't have a solution for either sport, and that bothers me.

Sports bother me

It's not that I don't like sports. Much the opposite in fact. I love them. But, they bother me. So often.

Let me clarify though. Not the sports themselves, but everything that comes with them. For starters, the Masters updates because Tiger slept with a bunch of women. First, I don't need Masters updates. It's golf. Second, if he wasn't returning from his 'self-imposed' leave of absence, I wouldn't have to suffer through updates of the leader board in the fourth inning of my baseball game. I am watching baseball because I like baseball. If I liked golf, I'd watch golf; it's on CBS, I get CBS. I could switch the channel whenever I wanted. By all means, update me with other baseball scores and highlights. But is the Masters important to anyone but golf fans? I mean, it never is any other year, why this year? Because Tiger slept with a bunch of people; that makes the Masters worthy of interrupting my baseball games for?

(Isn't it weird to be talking about Tiger Woods and refer to him as Woods? It just sounds odd. He does not have a good 'refer to him by his last name' name.)

By the way, as this is being written, I had to check and see if the Masters was actually still in progress, which it is not. Apparently Lefty won. So this was, I suppose, the least exciting story golf fans were hoping for. Tiger did not win. Also, Tiger did not tank. He was around and that's it. Maybe next time my sport is being interrupted, it would actually be for something noteworthy.