April 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
For a number of reasons, both computer-y and personally, I’m putting this blog into the stables for a while. The good news is I’m going to 1) still be on the web here and 2) I’ll be there a lot more often than I was here!
January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Never change, Atlanta.
Whistles and beards forever.
January 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
The AD has a cleaned up and fully propagandized version up of Hoke’s first day. They want us to think this is Roy’s actual reaction to the new coach (around 1:10).
But we all know differently. Here’s a transcript of some security footage of the locker room.
INT. MICHIGAN LOCKER ROOM – DAY
A near abandoned room with strewn PRACTICE SHORTS and FOOTBALLS, as most the team is walking over to the stadium for the first official meeting with new Michigan coach BRADY HOKE. Near abandoned, as ROY ROUNDTREE is standing in front of TAYLOR LEWAN’s locker, wearing BEATS HEADPHONES and bobbing his head as he stuffs Lewan’s shoes full of silly-string. He is humming and murmuring.
Black n yellow black n yellow…
BRADY HOKE walks past the doorway into the locker room in an obvious rush. A dogeared copy of Bo’s Lasting Lessons sticks out of his back pocket. He is sweaty. He stops abruptly upon hearing Roy’s humming. He backs up and walks in the room. Upon crossing the threshold he spontaneously begins shouting.
TEAM! HUSTLE! MIDWEST! TEAM! BO! MICHIGAN MEN! CHARACTER! TEAM!
Roy doesn’t notice. He moves to Denard’s locker and begins to carve “I LUV ROBERT PATTINSON” into the wood. Hoke goes on babbling for 3 minutes, manages to wrestle his compulsions under control. He walks over to Roy and taps him on the shoulder. Roy turns around, pulling his headphones off [cue Whiz Khalifa music on 100% blast].
Heeey, what it do, man?
Roy points at the carving he’s doing, raises his eyebrows and beams with pride. Hoke doesn’t know what the hell Twilight is, but he know that Bo once made a kid run to Toledo and back just for putting a merit sticker on a bus window. This vandalism will not stand.
Young man, this is unacceptable TEAMEXECUTIONBOTEAM.
What do you think you’re doing?
Roy is confused by the question, mainly because he himself had never asked “what am I doing?” He shrugs.
I dunno, brah. I was telling Doobie that it would be mad
funny to prank on Denard, and Doobie told me that Denard
had to go on a date to see one of the Twilight movies. Shit’s funny, man.
GRIT MICHIGAN MEN EFFORT B1G TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
THE TEAM TEAM THE TORM. Where are your teammates?
Oh, they out at the stadium to meet the new coach. That’s why I
knew Taylor wouldn’t be around. I be along in a minute.
Who you? (suddenly Roy looks suspiciously) You a reporter?
WORK DEDICATION BO EFFORT MIDWEST TEAM BO
Roy shrugs and goes back to carving.
Hoke is about to defeat his verbal tic and launch into a tirade for the ages when DAVE BRANDON shouts from the hallway.
DAVE BRANDON (O.S.)
Dammit, Brady, I told you you could get into the locker room
AFTER the press conference! Remember? This whole thing
is all about the press! I need my weekly newspaper fellatio! Hustle up!
Hoke turns toward the camera, looks directly at the audience mournfully.
Brady only pawn in game of TEAM FIGHT HISTORY THAT
SCHOOL DOWN SOUTH LLOYD TEAM BO TEAM.
Brady slowly walks out of the locker room. Roy finishes his wooden masterpiece. Startled by his BlackBerry vibrating, he pauses his music and answers.
Heyo, Koger! What it do? What up? Yeah, we just gotta
change Molk’s XBox Live account name to Chubbs50!
FADE TO BLACK.
ON SCREEN, the words “Roy Roundtree later found out who that stranger was in the locker room when he logged on to Facebook and saw all his teammates’ updates.” appear.
NEXT SCREEN, “Coach Hoke never discussed this event with anyone, mainly because he was convinced that the whole thing was a stress-induced dream, since no Michigan Man would act so egregiously. Little did he know.”
Oh, lest anyone misconstrue it, this guy (points at himself) is decidedly on #TeamTreezy and this is an act of love and admiration for #12, not mocking. He’s probably one of my favorite players ever.
January 11, 2011 § 3 Comments
“If you live the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion.”
You know it‘s a bad decision when one’s first reaction to the news is to draw easy comparisons between Michigan football and the Big 3 Automakers decline and to scramble to the Wikipedia page for the Romanovs to confirm that yes, this moment fits perfectly within the arc of a decaying empire. The emptiness that follows, however, is a bitch. Rage or sorrow are vastly preferred, but there are no reservoirs to tap. Brady fucking Hoke man. Cataloging the emotions Michigan fans are feeling right now is for another day, so instead allow me to lay out a series of claims and accusations, a few mouthfuls of blood spat from my mutilated fan-corpse.
- This was a decision made out of fear. Fear that the thing you love is dying. Bo left a legacy that defined the second half of the 20th century for the Michigan program. It no longer exists, of course, but it was a damn beautiful thing. Rather than accepting its passage or sending it off with a grand farewell a la HST, the men and women of Schembechler Hall are puttering around an empty house making sure that the coasters are on the coffee table just how Bo liked it and that every Thursday pot roast is served just how Bo wanted it. When there are dozens of coordinators and assistants available that are of vastly greater quality (I mean, I just randomly thought of Clemson’s D-Coord Kevin Steele and checked, and yup, he’s loads better than Hoke) and you choose to go with the distant relative, you are a craven organization.
- I doubt that there is any program so enslaved to its former players. Amongst the scores of reasons why Rich Rodriguez didn’t work out was the perpetual interference with the program from men who used to run out through the tunnel. That I even have to explain what a crock of shit it is that a player who ran the Wishbone in the 1970s has any say in a program in 2011 goes to show how pervasive the idea of Former Warriors runs at Michigan. I love Anthony Carter. I love Tyrone Wheatley. I love Jim Brandstatter. I have yet to hear any convincing reason why in the hell any of them should have any influence once they are done playing. Not that there is The Michigan Brand to defend, but even if it did exist, I hardly think the players are the best to defend it. Does any other program have so many wizened old fingers meddling in one department? Does the range of ages of the players who meddle stretch as long at any school as it does in Ann Arbor (from pre-Bo to Braylon)?
- See opening quote. Oregon’s uniforms are atrocious, Southerners are intellectually inferior, Real Men take the ball under center, The Winningest Program Of All Time. Only when you finally do away with all that I just mentioned (and none of these 3 year dalliances like with Rodriguez, please) will this program succeed (and maybe even grow up?). College football is no longer the realm of Bronc Burnett (if it ever was). Stop acting as if it is.
- I really really hate it when the things I love play to stereotype. Michigan is an amazing school and an amazing state that’s reputation is one of decline and a stubborn refusal to modernize and instead smugly rest upon the laurels it acquired from the 40s to the 80s (I told you there were parallels). Whenever I explain to someone here out west that Michiganders are very proud of their heritage, the primary response is always “Proud about what?” I don’t think anyone outside the state of Michigan remembers The Arsenal of Democracy or muscle cars or Rick Leach but your damn right everyone inside the state does. And that reluctance to let go of the glorious past was, in my mind, more a stereotype than a truth. That while there might be some people who are still hooked on nostalgia, the People in Power were smart enough to avoid that obvious mistake. And now I have Brady Hoke standing in front of me telling me “no, they aren’t.”
December 12, 2010 § 6 Comments
Real Madrid beat Zaragoza earlier today, 3-1, in a game that was really slick*. This isn’t a big deal because Zaragoza is not good at all. This game was an afterthought.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a swell free-kick goal tho. But even that will be an afterthought to all of you after you see the sheer amount of great face from the goal. Here’s Crimazing Rinaldwow before the kick.
Then he did this.
That’s not an illusion, the ball is in the back of the net and I think Franco was still setting up to get ready to defend. Not really, it was actually that Cri just did an awesome kick, but still. Bad move, Leo Franco!
He knows it was a bad move.
Now we get to the fun part: post-goal faces! I know if I just scored a mind-blowing goal in one of the top leagues in the world I would look just like this.
Plus, if you watch the video, he sorta does that head bob that Frank Caliendo does when he does his George W. Bush impression. But don’t think that Cris is just all about the bravura and machismo and posturing. He chill too.
Then he does the classic up-high-scrunch-fingers celebration along with a feral grin. Who hasn’t done it among us, right?
Okay, we get it C-Ro Green, you’re awesome. Two people who don’t have time for this tho are the aforementioned Leo Franco.
And Jose Mourinho. Get ready for one of the mour Mourinho-y pics in a while, guys.
There’s no tricks or manips happening here, that is the face of Real Madrid’s manager perhaps 45 seconds after a great goal by his star player. Any guess as to what he’s thinking is as good as another, but mine is he’s thinking about the novel about Bobby Fischer he’s probably always wanted to write.
And then on the replay, we get a better angle of Ronaldo keeping his Bebop-n-Rocksteady face, even when being hugged.
Or maybe he’s doing a Pepe’s-face impersonation. If that’s the case then that’s mean to say about your teammate, guy. Also, Mesut Ozil is more and more looking like the love child of Shelley Duvall and Joan Cusack.
And then, to complete the performance of great face, Ronaldo sticks the landing!
Might be more derp that hurr-durr, but I prefer to call it 2 Kool For Skool.
So that’s it for this Sunday. Here’s the video in case you need to see the context, but trust me, the pics are all you need.
*We need to bring back this adjective. Slick is really keen.
December 9, 2010 § Leave a comment
Earlier today I listened to Dan Levy interview Orson Swindle. Ranging from jersey sales to the great American tradition of telling one’s father to fuck off, the discussion covered a lot of college football and wandered into the controversy surrounding Cam Newton and his father and the idea of compensating a young man for his athletic prowess. Orson referenced the idea of someone giving a “coherent defense” of Cam and Cecil’s action, and suggested that such a task could be accomplished. Allow me a chance to do just that.
One of the hoariest lines in the sports world is that bemoaning the influence of filthy lucre on the amateur athlete. One of the hoariest truths of the sports world is that money and compensation have been a part of all sports from the moment that crowds started to congregate to watch the games. Whether it be a high school quarterback receiving a free Camaro or a Cuban pitcher receiving favors from the Communist government, humanity’s best athletes have been rewarded for their natural abilities. This truth may not be the prettiest one and may run counter to the platonic ideal of competition we’ve had shoveled down our throat by the movies and television, but a truth it remains. Money and favors should perhaps be forbidden, but to deny their existence is folly. As the Zen line goes, “it is only that flowers, while loved, fall; and weeds while hated, flourish.” Sometimes life is impure and icky. But we are poorly served if we choose to ignore reality for an ideal. For whatever animalistic reason, we reward those who perform athletic feats better than us.
Here’s where, if I were a more stentorian and established journalist, I would write out the Merriam-Webster definitions for “professional” and “amateur” and point out that few athletes we watch, at any level, could be considered truly amateur. I don’t think that’s necessary, however, because I believe most of us already know that these people aren’t amateurs. In fact, lots of us enjoy discussing the friendlier side of compensation, whether it be free shoes, bowl packages, or the number of beautiful women the players can bed. But travel too far outside the acceptable range of benefits and suddenly our sense of justice is rankled.
And so it seems that Cecil Newton, in seeking a six-figure compensation for his son’s services, has rankled the collective mind of the college football fan. But why should it? If one may ask, who was the victim in this so-called crime? The sense of competitive justice? If one believes that previous Heisman-quality players weren’t treated better than average or that such selfish behavior doesn’t happen every year in sports, one should probably not proffer their opinion on sports. The year that someone can identify as untainted from backroom deals and one of pure amateurism will be the first year that humanity attained perfection.
Others, such as Levy, have suggested that if we begin to openly pay players we will begin to drive the haves and the have-nots apart in an ever-widening chasm. With all apologies to Levy (a former coworker of mine at The Sporting News and whose podcast is one of the best out there and serves a daily antidote to the DERPiness of sports radio), but I would ask him and those like him: what mythical sport of evenness has he been watching? Every sport out there is an altar to inequality and especially collegiate athletics. While I might love the idea of a pluralistic arena of equal opportunity, it doesn’t explain away the fact that my alma mater Michigan is already a “have” in contrast to 98% of the schools it competes against. Do such critics actually believe that Utah St. and Duke are remotely close in their race for a basketball recruit? Forgive me if I struggle to see the difference between one school offering $100,000 to a recruit and another that dishonestly convinces a recruit of his chance at the NFL by parading around dozens of professional alumni.
If there is a victim in the Newton affair, it is the duplicitous administrators’ and NCAA officials’ lies and deceitful blather about the “code of amateurism,” a story that is laid to waste by the numbers surrounding their sports.
The numbers are as follows: 37.4 million attendees. Hundreds of millions of dollars. College football, by most any metric, is one of the most rabidly followed sports in the world. 20 million more people attend FBS games a year than NFL games. The total attendance of college football triples the numbers of the top soccer leagues of Europe. Behind MLB (whose attendance numbers are skewed by the large amount of games), Division I-A athletics have the most attendees of any sport in the world, and it isn’t even close. And yet if you look at any of the salaries of the participants of sports comparable to the NCAA, be it the NFL, European soccer leagues, the NBA, or the NHL, only college athletics stands apart in the woefulness of their compensation. If you were to liberally estimate the current benefits conferred on NCAA athletes and peg it at $100,000 per year, that generous amount would still stand as a paragon of inequity. It is almost axiomatic to say: collegiate athletes are exploited. Coaches and athletic departments and networks are reaping millions of dollars while the players are hobbled by ahistorical and smarmy values informed by Hardy Boys books and Disney movies.
So it’s no coincidence that the loudest proponents of the status quo are those who benefit the most from its existence. As to whether the status quo is just, I would suggest the following passage. In his famous Letters from a Birmingham Jail*, Dr. King wrote:
“Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.”
And so we see in collegiate athletics a system that compels a group of people to subscribe to a set of values and behaviors that they had no part in enacting or devising. So while an individual dissent against the unjust system might be the product of less than noble motivations (I can’t and won’t speak to the Newtons’ reasons), it hardly erases the moral rightness of the act of standing against an unjust and exploitative system. So I’m left asking: who are we to criticize the Newtons for getting paper? For grabbing as much as they can? The schools, coaches, bowl committees, and networks are never asked to be patient and wait for the payday down the road, why should the athletes be different?
My attention was drawn back to one of the most iconic scenes from The Wire recently. Omar, vigilante thief of the drug dealers, is in court to testify in a murder case against one of the muscle of one of the gangs. The gang member’s attorney tries to paint Omar as an exploiting and freeloading criminal who feeds off the underbelly of society’s problems. Omar’s witty response (around 6:55)?
It’s all in the game. What’s different here in sports than in the drug trade? The boosters and ADs and anchors have found a way to make quite a few dollars off collegiate football. Is Cecil (or Cam) any more morally culpable for trying to do the same? If your only response is that one obeyed rules and the other did not, I’m afraid we’re unable to see eye-to-eye. I like to think that our rules and laws best approximate morality and justice, not the other way around.
At one point in the podcast Orson mentions that America has been founded on principles of “independent and self-sufficient” people. I’d agree. I’d also point out that, at least in the case of the Newtons (and countless other “criminals” against amateurism), it seems that their independence and self-sufficiency are being undermined by those who write laws, and who are also those who would ultimately aim to lose the most by an independent and self-sufficient body of athletes.
*I trust you, faithful reader, to discern that I am not comparing, in any way, the state of collegiate athletics and the terrible conditions of African-Americans in mid-20th century America. The rhetorical points, however, can still shed light on modern athletics.
December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment
I’m back (been working on a few other things, like finding a decent job and hopefully a few other things I can share here), but here’s some stuff for December 6th:
- Everyone shocked at Hughton’s firing at Newcastle clearly has forgotten the rest of Mike Ashley’s time as owner. Hubris defines the man, and I’m sure that he thinks that now that the team’s in 11th place (never mind just 4 points above relegation at the moment) that they’re juuust outside the range of Europa or even Champions League contention. What, you say? They only have 2-3 players who could make a Top 4 starting squad? Your common sense isn’t welcome here at St. James! God, I’m glad I’m a Magpie supporter. /midafternoonshotofwhiskey
- For the first time in a while I’m actually more optimistic for the USMNT’s midfielders and attackers at a camp than for the backs and keepers. Not sure if this is on the whole a good or bad thing, though.
- CagePotato brings the science on knockouts. A must read/watch for combat sports fans and a sober reminder of just how many nasty aspects of athletics we (choose to?) ignore in a telecast.
- Watched the Broncos-Chief crapfest yesterday, and you knew it was gonna be a rough one from the very beginning.
- As a dedicated self high-fiver, every player in the NBA needs to air-fives every game.
- Co-sign to this article, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen. As we know from Magary, all Bostonians are crypto-racists and would never approve of a dahhkie Celtic getting a memorial before Larry Bird.*
Also, from a SLAM interview, I think Russell might be one of the few athletes from any time to be able to say this:
SLAM: As much as your style of play changed the center position, was there anyone who came after you who captured your style?
RUSSELL: Maybe it’s egotism, but I have never seen another player who even approached the way I played the game in terms of depth. I’ve never seen anyone do the number of things I do well.
And still be impossibly modest and truthful.
*Totally unfair but still really really funny stereotype.**
**One that in my experience has a sad amount of truth to it.