Colorado Wins MLS and Still Has Strange Mascots

November 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

I haven’t talked about it much with the Internet because it’s pretty cool with the Internet to rag on the MLS as the Land of Misfitted Retard0-LOLz, but I decided this year to take the plunge and apply my love for international soccer to the local product, and I attended a bunch of Colorado Rapids games. Yes, the name for the supporters group (Pid Army, “Pid” like the second syllable of “rapid.” Yeah, I know.) is really dumb, and yes, the stadium’s not really full most of the time, and even yes, I know that the MLS doesn’t have Drogba or Messi and I know that any of the best teams probably couldn’t hang with even Shakhtar Donetsk. But it’s a fun time, it’s pretty cheap, and it’s increasingly improving soccer happening in a place not 3,000 miles away from me, so I’m game.

And the Rapids just won it all. This of course means that I’ve joined the team at absolutely the wrong time because it’s all down from here.

Anyway, as my mini form of celebrating back here in Denver, allow me to share one of the stupid/best parts of my MLS team: the strangest coterie of mascots I’ve ever run across. First we have Jorge El Mapache:

I’ll save you the GoogleTime and tell you that sadly “el mapache” isn’t Spanish for anything cool like “Knife-Axe” or “Pizza Taco”, it just means “raccoon” which is obvious from the costume.

Next up is Marco Van Bison.

I think he’s creepy and has the name of a old German war profiteer/amateur sex criminal but I’m a known anti-bisonist.

Thirdly we have Edson the Eagle. I think the Rapids were short on cash when they created Edson because they skimped on design and just gave him a giant Incan Death Mask for a head.

Lastly, Franz the Fox.

Franz lost a lot of money shorting trades on the Chicago Merc back in the 80s but moved out to Colorado and has found a new life out here working with the team. He’s also found Jesus and mountain biking and will insufferably prattle on about either to you at any get together you accidentally meet him at. So in other words he perfectly represents Colorado.

So for those who weren’t keeping score, Colorado has 4 mascots named Jorge, Marco, Edson, and Franz. Kudos to the team for going for something different, but they probably shouldn’t have allowed the teenaged son of the PR head who likes to call himself “the next Carles” on his “Fuck Yeah! Fixies” Tumblr name the characters.

I’m still giddy from the win, so I’ll leave you with this important anti-concussion ad from Marco and Franz. So up on the issues, these guys.

Pat Burns Is Dead

November 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Via Bob McKenzie, we now know Pat Burns is dead.

Damn it.

Pat Burns was a great coach, someone who up-to-now has been criminally ignored for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Hopefully the NHL will fix this and do it quickly. Besides coaching my Canadiens back in the day, Burns also represented to me the epitome of a Canadian and a hockey coach: besides looking like a real life Ray Zalinsky, Burns had a fire and passion for hockey that was sui generis. If you were to cut that man open he’d bleed vulcanized rubber and ice. He was so tough that it took cancer 3 cracks to bring him down. Here he is back in the day:

You don’t love that, I don’t want to know ya.

And a far more trivial note but one that I think still does the man justice: Burns had sported some of the premium mustaches and hair cuts in all of sports.

What a great man. This news blows. RIP Pat Burns.

5 Types Of NBA Fans I Hate, And Dear God I Can’t Get More Excited For A Season Ever

October 26, 2010 § 3 Comments

I have never been as excited for an NBA season as I am for the one that’s about to begin in an hour. This is strange considering that the team I care most about, the Nuggets, is going to be pretty bad. I think this means that I have fully transitioned into the liberated fan, but I prefer to think it means I’ve finally managed to taste the entire NBA universe and have now reached nirvana. I’m unconditioned and extinguished, I say yes to all that happens and celebrate it.

Although, to be fair, basketball nirvana doesn’t quite translate to the religious sense. I still feel sadness and joy. For example, I’m still recovering from the bummerage I felt at hearing of Jeff Pendergraph’s injury and subsequent waiving. I’m giddy about the possibility of all things happening with the Wizards. So the emotions and pains that true nirvana erases are still here, but the questioning about said emotions and pains is gone. No longer do I ask “why the hell am I so wrapped up in this?” or “how is this so important to me?”. Now it is more a proclamation of “Yes! I freak out at Serge Ibaka!” “Yes! the soon-upon-us awful trade for Melo causes me to dwell upon acts of depraved violence!” And let me tell you, kids, this feeling is the best.

And the only thing that can harsh this high I’m on? As with most things: idiots. As an act of exorcism and purification of my soul, I will name the evils of idiocy, and in so naming them steal their power to affect me. If you commit the following acts, know that I have for you a hate of the purest rage, and I am so comfortable in that hate that I will proudly proclaim it to your digital face:

1. If you hate Lebron James, I hate you. This is not because I am pro-Lebron. I am just anti-anti-Lebron. He is a supreme talent and we are lucky to be alive during his career. Have a little dignity for yourself and develop a more nuanced stance than “OMG The Decision was the dick-est thing ever and now he’s the biggest dick ever!” He made a decision some of us don’t really like, and if you are so petty as to let a 26 year old’s choice to move to Florida color your opinion of him, I hate you.

2. If you say “I can’t stand the NBA style, college basketball is much more watchable” when we know that means “I’m not comfortable with an African-American dominant sports”, I hate you. In the new book from FreeDarko (which I think I’ve annoyed 100% of my Twitter followers today with my rapturous talk about it) there is a deeply saddening sidebar graphic of two charts. One is of the percentage of the NBA that is black. It starts to rise meteorically in the mid to late 70′s. The other chart shows the national popularity of the NBA over the years. There is a plunge in interest in The Association in, you guessed it, the mid to late 70′s. The FD gang just suggest that there might be a causal relationship between the two. I’m not ensnared by the same boundaries of good taste and propriety as they are (or at least are when required to publish an actual book), so I’ll say it more directly: a bunch of the NBA’s support evaporated when a bunch of white people felt uncomfortable seeing a predominantly-black league taking shape. Y’all are asses, if you say this you clearly haven’t watched more than 30 minutes of the NBA in at least a decade, and I hate you.

3. If you are a Utah Jazz fan, I hate you. I like the Utah Jazz team, but their fanbase is without a doubt the most annoying and petty and shallow group in ever. I’m pretty sure every Utah Jazz fan hates Lebron, so this also fits under number 1.

4. If you wax rhapsodic about the mythical qualities of Madison Square Garden, I hate you. That place hasn’t had true relevance in close to 2 decades, and the Knicks have been peddling on the 60′s and 70′s since the 60′s and 70′s. The Knicks have inherent intrigue, but it’s not because they’re a sleeping giant. They are the 76ers-on-the-Hudson, and I don’t here anyone braying about the Wells Fargo Center.

5. If you engage in the Kobe-vs.-Lebron-vs.-MJ debate, I hate you. This is probably the dumbest and most pedantic bullshit happening in all of sports and I’m including anything Favre or steroids-y or BCS related. It’s an incoherent, unwinnable, juvenile, geographically xenophobic, and wasteful discussion and it deliberately eschews the wonder and beauty of the game in order to pursue a hurr-durr discussion so base that even the pissy bitches over on Fox News would find it stupid and embarrassing. I hate you if you even try to treat this faux-debate seriously.

Okay: with that bit of bile-letting done and over, I’m ready for the season. This is going to be awesome. Allons-y.

Remember: all compassion is cold-hearted labor strategy.

October 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’m really really tired of brain stuff dominating the football news but there’s no good reason for it to stop: one of the ideals a modern society is that we don’t approve of people knowingly killing themselves as a form of entertainment. That doesn’t mean it should be the only item discussed. So allow your fearless correspondent to the country of Depraved and Addled-Minded Conspiracies put in his two bits:

As previously documented, the NFL has had full knowledge of the way their product was bashing brains, and yet up to this point they’ve remained relatively inactive. So what’s managed to goad the boss-men to action? We can toss out any sort of compassion or human emotion as a reasonable explanation– these guys have employed some of the most morally vacant athletes in history and failed to bat an eye. No, these men, like most, only have compassion for their bank statements and their power.

So if we turn to those things we find a very convenient reason for the sudden action of the NFL: the upcoming CBA. While the fatuous majority have bought the idea that labor unions and labor strikes are un-American, the few times where labor has had success against management is when they are able to show horrendous work conditions. For our first 150 years as a nation, kids worked our most vile and violent jobs and the calls for reform were rare. It was only at the turn of the century with the advent of photography and faster communication that the public decided that 5 year olds in coal mines and mangled 10 year olds weren’t The American Way. It seems that Joe Q. Freedom has very little sympathy with wage issues but can pour it on for physical safety.

So the exploiters over in Goodell’s camp, who up to this point felt confident that their position was strong for the Upcoming Ruckus, rightly see this as a serious threat to their plans. They’ve always had the successful move of Pointing Out The Players Are Super Rich (ignoring their own super-super-richness). But there’s something unspoken in the American ethic that says that only a certain level of violence is acceptable in the workplace and from-the-neck paralysis and early death go beyond those levels. Owners’ Main Argumentative Card? Gone.

And with the lockout screaming towards us faster than most feel comfortable admitting, the owners’ are trying to get back on the Moral High Horse by acting tough, even against the players’ wishes. Don’t worry, the outraged first responses of Rodney Harrison, Steve Young, and Matt Millen will be duly smoothed down by the league and its corporate toadies in Bristol and at 30 Rock. Soon they’ll be spewing that the penalties are necessary for the players’ own good and that this is keeping with the league’s history of moral rectitude. I say to hell with that, to hell with letting the owners regain any of the moral righteousness that they stole in the first place. They’re cretins, never forget this. Dave got it right when he said that these acts of violence weren’t just tolerated by the owners, they were celebrated. The owners are trying to pull a quick one, yet again, and tell us that this isn’t The Pride Of The League that they’ve been selling to us, it’s a National Scourge that needs to be eradicated. Don’t let them.

The Flock And The Truth

October 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve had it with the shock and outrage. Anyone and I mean anyone who’s worked a locker room or a sideline or an interview with an athlete knows that the stain of Mammon covers all of collegiate sports. I know a former D-I lacrosse player who can fill an afternoon with stories of free housing or cheap prices for new cars or readily accessible drugs. When I was in Ann Arbor I saw a senior wide receiver driving around in a Bentley. These aren’t surprising to anyone who’s ever had the sense to pay attention to the parts of sports that aren’t on a TV or on a field, yet now I’m seeing and hearing pundits across the U.S. feigning surprise and disappointment at the allegations of this Josh Luchs article in Sports Illustrated. Don’t lie to yourself: each and every person in Bristol knows about runners and paid college athletes and can probably give you 10-20 stories each. Every columnist who’s covered a college football team has interacted with some impropriety.

As to why they are feigning such hollow and nannyish behavior, the explanation is simple: they, or more likely their superiors, have determined where their dollar lies: in the fat, soft hands of Daft Coaches From The Sofa and Seers of Sportsradio Callers. The men and women who, apart from their shallow and soon-to-be-outsourced retail jobs, have nothing more exciting to look forward to in their lives than shoving their wrongly-derived opinions down the throat of a stranger who didn’t ask for it. Whether it be at a barbecue, the local dive, or into the phone and over the local airwaves, these people continue to incorrectly remember the past and spew idiocies about the present. They also apparently have the absorbative powers to soak the complete truth from an event in only 19 minutes of SportsCenter while waiting for JiffyLube to finish their oil change. These are the people who want the world they way they think it is, not the way it really is. It is to these people that ESPN, Fox Sports, and every radio station in this country are enslaved, are pitching to advertisers as their flock. They need to cultivate these viewers, keep them sated.

And this flock needs their gladiators clean cut, respectful, and right out of the J. Edgar Hoover-era, dammit. What happened to the Golden Boys of football, they ask, ignoring the original Golden Boy’s profligate gambling. They don’t make ‘em like Joe Montana, callers cry, glossing over the fact every Favorite Athlete of the post-Jordan era is as carefully planned and inhuman as Guy Fieri or a BP ad and therefore we all know jack-shit about Joe Montana. That at every time in history one would discover athletes soaked in debauchery and crime and money is lost on these sniveling bystanders who leap to moralizing like dogs to vomit. Rather than admit to their own impotence and deformities these men and women would rather stay blissfully in the Land Of If I Were Him. If I Were Him I’d just be happy to get an education. If I Were Him I’d have the moral strength to reject gifts of thousands of dollars. If I Were Him I’d have played for love. If I Were Him I’d realize I was in the toy department of life.

What’s lost on the flock is that there’s big money in toys. Millions of dollars flow into the pockets of colleges and athletic departments every month because of these toys. And these toys aren’t inanimate pawns but human beings with their own interests, desires, and needs. And the chasm between what these people earn for the schools and what they receive (including the stuff under the table) goes into the realm of usury.

Some of these players, due to their exhausting physical schedule, burn through their monthly food stipend in less than 3 weeks and have to spend the last week scrimping by or going hungry. Other athletes come from streets and homes where hunger was a constant. And while it’s okay for a school to crack down on the street vendor’s $1,000-a-year t-shirt operation so as to protect the school’s $100,000,000-a-year income stream, for an athlete who generates that same $100,000,000 to accept $2,500 to help keep a roof over his mother’s head or god forbid have a little fun is an outrage to the flock.

I love my Michigan Wolverines, and I love my university. But if you think you can convince me that Chris Webber gettin’ dollar hurt my education, or if the university deciding to pay 85 players $100,000 a year affects the education of the other 39,000 students, move along. Denard Robinson has already generated millions of dollars this year and I think it’s dirty and vile not to pay him.

And so the news cycle will go: Herbstreit will drool his sports-department-friendly patter, Fowler will furrow his brow distorting his magnificent hairline, Corso will continue to ride his dementia and warm up his death rattle, and Desmond will continue to have tie knots wider than his mouth. Stewart Mandel will either say something everyone knew or something no one cares about, depending on how Northwestern plays on Saturday. Bob Ley will waste a Wednesday afternoon on the topic, on my TV in a box between two other boxes filled with fat people’s faces. A few columnists will make some cries of the need to find the “true villains” in this story, and local radio will either decry their own school’s missteps or crow about their rivals corruption. Mel Kiper will slink off to his cave until February and hopes that no one will remember this even happening. And then basketball season will start and hey the Vikings are 1-4 and everyone will miss the point: today in college football is a Gilded Age, a time where extreme wealth was held by a small few and power ensured it stayed that way. The rebellions and reform that followed the Gilded Age might be next for the NCAA and they might be due. In fact, if someone’s gotta spare torch, count me in.

NFLPA Machinations At Green Bay and Welcoming the Lockout

October 6, 2010 § 1 Comment

Hadn’t heard about this until today:

The NFLPA leader was in Green Bay at a tailgate style luncheon with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, where the two asked fans to support the players as a showdown looms between the owners and the NFLPA.  Smith referred to a recent report in the Sports Business Journal that said the NFL is requesting that banks who lend money to teams extend the grace periods for loan defaults through the end next season should a lockout occur.  Smith said that move, in conjunction with language in NFL television contracts calling for partial payment to the league even if there is no football, indicates to him that owners are serious about a labor stoppage.

DeMaurice Smith is not a fool. He knows that, at least in the US, the overwhelming attitude of the fan is “screw organized labor, let’s see some sport!” Any and every labor stoppage has seen the fan (often fomented by management-fueled media) near-unanimously hold the players in contempt. So he’s doing the savvy thing and starting to get the players and personalities interacting with fans, reminding the average consumer that any lockout will come from team owners holding out for more money. I don’t think he’s being aggressive enough: the NFL has some entertaining players who have Twitter accounts and TV shows that could do a lot to say: you know and like me, so trust me when I say that the NFLPA is right in the CBA discussions. Leverage the social medias, I say!

Also in the story is news that the Packers have given Aaron Rodgers, their rep, authority to decertify the NFLPA if need be. Decertification, if it happens, opens up the players to sue the NFL over anti-trust, an act that no owner wants to see. We’ll see how this turns out, but from this viewer’s angle, it seems all but assured that there ain’t gonna be no NFL next year.

And, frankly, I think this is a good thing. American athletes have had a long tradition of the worst union leadership of any profession. Donald Fehr, Billy Hunter, Gene Upshaw: all of them incompetent and weak. DeMaurice Smith appears to be intelligent and aggressive. He’s going to present the first threat to all US sports of a strong and successful and (hopefully) unified athletes. In what might be a first, Smith’s been telling players to put away some of their money for the lockout, a wise move. The average player’s sense of the arrangement is vastly improved from the previous generation. Instead of having a compromised class traitor like Upshaw leading the way, the NFLPA has a former U.S. Attorney who teaches classes on trial advocacy.

And furthermore, the owners’ cry of poverty is one of the bullshittiest sounds in Bullshitburg. All the teams are making money. Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in the late 80′s for less than $100m and their now valued at over $1.8 billion. My Packers’ total assets have doubled in the past decade, check their own statements. Hell, their revenue from NFL properties multiplied by a factor of 10 over those 10 years, from $4m to $45m. The Packers, by dint of their arrangement (publicly owned) are forced to show their books. Every other team? Mum. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but until the owners are willing to have third-party assessment of their numbers the line remains: every owner in the NFL is making huge amounts of money off the blood, sweat and brain injuries of its players, and the NFLPA has the right to stand up for itself and refuse to be bullied around.

So count at least one fan who is happy to see the players grow some spine. I want my football, of course, but I also want justice.

College Football Players As Mythical Hindu Weapons and Warriors

October 5, 2010 § 1 Comment

In today’s world of our athletes as gods (for what are gods other than things we can’t fully grasp?) it’s important that the fans have all appropriate deities and myths at their disposal for proper comparisons. Here’s a few you probably didn’t know about, but feel free to research for future use.

I grew up like many of you, certain that the coolest war stories were either of the Audie Murphy/WWII strain or perhaps the mythologies of Hellenic or Norse traditions. Boy were we wrong. If you want epic levels of bloodshed, divine intervention, grand prose, and pure destruction, look no further than the Kurukshetra War in the Mahabharata or the stories from the Ramayana, some of the most important texts in Hinduism. Tales of a single man killing 100,000 people in a day? Not a problem. The gods telling the warriors to sack up and fight? Of course. Priest-eating Giants? How many would you like?

Really, you should give the stuff a look some time. Yeah, they’re vegetarians and a bunch of them are tech support people today, but you only have to look back 60 years to the Gurkhas to see that the Hindu culture has a long tradition of straight wrecking shit.

This year in college football has eerie echoes to the myths and traditions of the Kurukshetra War, not primarily in personage but in weaponry. See if you notice the similarities.

Narayanastra

Lord Vishnu’s personal firearm, the Narayanastra, was a weapon that fired millions of arrows at it’s enemy upon command. It inspired the strongest of fears in the target, even unto the point of hoping for the target’s own demise. Furthermore, the narayanastra increases in intensity the more you resist. The only way to defeat it is to utterly submit to the narayanastra and only then will the arrows missiles turn away. I heard rumor of a narayanastra appearing in northwestern Arkansas…

A million arrows. And interceptions towards Alabama.

Sudarshana Chakra

A spinning disk of serrated edges, Sudarshana Chakra is the Gods’ Choice in execution weaponry. In the Mahabharat we see that for Vishnu, when he needs a decapitation, he thinks of Sudarshana Chakra, the chakra for all your fool-killin’ needs. It is rumored to have 10 million spikes and multiple rows, something so violent that it cut up a goddess into 52 pieces.

...and send the remains to the four winds as a warning.

Pashupatastra

I’ll let Wikipedia run this one:

“Pashupatastra is the irresistible and most destructive personal weapon of discharged by the mind, the eyes, words, or a bow. Never to be used against lesser enemies or by lesser warriors, the Pashupata is capable of destroying creation and vanquishing all beings.”

Clearly uninformed about protocol, RichRod’s had no problem using his against lesser enemies so far:

You thought I was exaggerating about a "human weapon".

Kumbhakarna

A giant who seemed to have a friendly nature but who killed hundreds people with every step he took and ate priests just because he could, Kumbhakarna was forced to sleep for 6 months at a time just to keep everyone else safe. Presented without comment from Butch Davis.

Pour one out for the sleeping giant.

Brahmastra

Like many other weapons of Hindu lore, this one is also touted as unstoppable. Lord Brahma bequeathes the weapon to a person and gives the recipient a word or phrase to use to unleash it. The phrase is often unknown to everyone but the recipient, and he meditates upon the phrase to call the Brahmastra to his side for help. Here’s the kicker (again a Wikipedia summary):

“The weapon also causes severe environmental damage. The land where the weapon is used becomes barren for eons and all life in and around that area ceases to exist. Women and men become infertile. There is severe decrease in rainfall and the land develops cracks like in a drought.”

Yeah, I thought so too:

"Each day death strikes, and we live as if though we were immortal. This is the greatest wonder."

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