Friday, December 17, 2010
It's all Hold My Hand and Only Wanna Be With You. And then it's all Time and Drowning. And then they'll take it down a notch with I'm Coming Home and Not Even the Trees and Goodbye. God it's just a beautiful album. The only thing I would change, the only thing, is that Let Her Cry would have one less verse.
Secondly, The Sing Off is a great show. It's an a capella singing competition. It's like American Idol without the sucking. Anyway, one of the shows the groups had to sing a "guilty pleasure" song and when they said that at the beginning of the eisode, I was like, "I know what song I would choose as my guilty pleasure," and then this group Committed came through with this gem.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
This "celebrity" sing along is somehow the single most European thing that's ever happened. It's got a few B-listers scattered in the front, like Jason Alexander and Huey Lewis, but then it just gets weird. When Ricki Lake is in the second edit, you know it's got to be downhill from there (PS - I always thought she was pretty cute). My single favorite is the kid who plays young Forrest Gump at the 5:20 mark. But there are some other gems.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Now we get to wait and see who ESPN will choose as the new Joe Morgan and Jon Miller. ESPN has a quite an up-and-down record when it comes to these things, embodied rather well by the broadcast team it now seeks to replace. Jon Miller was quite good. (Even though it delights me never to hear him pronounce Carlos Beltran's name again. It's not tough. "Carlos Beltran." That's all. It's not "Carlos bel
So who knows. Maybe they'll be smart and let Orel Hersheiser take over as analyst. He was in the booth a lot this year with Jon and Joe, so that seems like a good bet. But there's a chance that ESPN will inflict the odious Rick Sutcliffe on us, who in many ways is like the Phil Simms of baseball broadcasters. He actively avoids saying anything remotely close to controversial or contrary to baseball's conventional wisdom, refusing to offer any opinions or insights that haven't already been repeated ad nauseam. Things like, "This guy used to just be a thrower. Now he's a pitcher." You hear shit like that all the time, and 83% of the time, Rick Sutcliffe said it. "This is a guy you want on your team. He just wants to win, and his teammates know it." Who the fuck doesn't want to win, jerkdick? And I put that stuff in italics because when he says it, he really emphasizes it, like he's imparting this pearl of condensed brilliance onto his listeners.
Anyway, speaking of Tim McCarver (referring back to this), I like to take any opportunity to post my favorite short radio play of all time, by (of course) Mr. Ken Tremendous himself. It stars ol' Timmy and Joe Buck, discussing the value of intangibles on your baseball team -- in this case, ardor (which we all know isn't nearly as important as getting your uniform dirty, grit, scrappiness, scrappy grittiness, grappiness, and being a "gamer"). Anyway, here:
Joe Buck: Well, Tim, you have to like the Red Sox' starting pitching and bullpen, but how do you feel about their ardor?
Tim McCarver: Ardor is a funny thing, Joe. It's like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography: "I know it when I see it." And with these Red Sox, I just don't see it.
JB: How do you know it when you see it, Tim?
TM: For me, it's when you see the dick going in.
(ten minutes of silence)
TM: Oh. I see. You were talking about ardor.
It was time to move on because Joe Morgan's VORP was way down. See what I did there? That was a sabermetrics joke. I also considered, "Morgan is being replaced by Bobby Valentine, whose OPS is much higher over the last 3 seasons.", but figured the VORP one was more esoteric and, therefore, more desirable.
PS - I think esoteric is a good word. And when used in conjunction with "plebian" makes for some good old fashined condescension. Like, Side Bar levels of condescension.
Friday, November 5, 2010
All of this is summarized in a much better way by Timothy Egan in an op-ed piece from Tuesday.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Like really though, what's the deal with Sarah Palin? Maybe I'm just a liberal elite, but like the list of pros and cons for Sarah Palin for me looks like this
She's extraordinarily attractive
Like, I'm not gonna start a grassroots campaign for a Kardashian / Lohan 2012 ticket. What's the goddamn appeal? She's not smart, experienced, part of a family with a longstanding political tradition, able to see Russia from her back door, or anything else that would make me want to vote for someone.
Am I like two years late with this post? Yes, yes I am. Really, though, I coulda sworn she was just gonna fade into the background. Motherfuckin' Admiral Stockdale didn't try to capitalize on his fumbled up bid for vice president, why would she?
Monday, October 18, 2010
Last week I got up on my high horse and wagged my finger for a few paragraphs at those assholes called the Bleacher Creatures. I didn't figure any good would come from it -- other than leading the decent people who Google "fuck the bleacher creatures" here, where they will be most welcome -- but as it turns out, the post must have been just GRRRINTERNETSUPERMAD!!!! enough to get the attention of Yankees management:
Well, my work here is done.
Score one for the eradication of discrimination. At baseball stadiums, at least.
According to Flip Bondy of the New York Daily News, several key members of Yankee Stadium’s Bleacher Creatures have agreed to put a halt to a cheer that for years has involved a homophobic slur.
During the middle innings of games at Yankee Stadium, a large section of folks in the right field stands would yell “Why are you gay?” at opposing fans during the playing of The Village People’s famous “YMCA” anthem.
Apparently that won’t be happening anymore.
*leans back in chair, folds hands behind head, feels sense of genuine accomplishment, farts*
So, to all you fans of opposing teams sitting in the bleachers for some reason, you're welcome.
Unless, of course, you're a Phillies fan. In which case, eat a dick, homo.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I have begun to see these all the time now, like on my way home I'll see at least two or three cars every day that have this thing hanging off the back of the car while the car is driving like all on the highway and stuff. (I'm feeling kindof Joycian today, so deal with it.) This is stupid. If you want to rock that while you park, then I guess that kindof makes sense because I know I use the bump technique to parallel park in Manhattan sometimes (all the time), but then if you do that you gotta pull it up for when you drive away.
Driving with that thing on your bumper is a little like walking around the streets like this lady and being all, "well I don't want to mess up my hair I want it to look good", and I'm all, "yeah but you look retarded right now, not good."
Anyway, this is the reason I drive a shitty car. If I had a nice car, I'd have to take care of it and stuff and I'd, like, care if it got scratched or dented or something. When you rock a 2002 Sentra, those things don't matter. And if you live in New York, you can't really afford to spend the energy caring for a nice car. If I had a nice car I'd have to change a lot of things about the way I drive, and I'm just not willing to do that. On top of all that, there's really no way to drive a car around without it eventually going to shit. And this is true of any car. So do yourself a favor, instead of a bumper buddy, just get a shitty car.
What happened to the 80s where the bumpers were all rubber and could actually be used to bump stuff? Now they're nominally bumpers, but practically they're just plastic ornaments.
Monday, October 11, 2010
While I often mock the Yankees and their fans, probably a bit too much, I'm well aware that part of that behavior is rooted in some level of jealousy I hold toward them. After all, it's more fun if your team wins, and those fuckers in the Bronx win more than, well, anybody. But as I said, at least I'm aware of it.
Along those lines, it's not even surprising anymore when someone (say, a prominent politician or religious leader) who spends a lot of time bashing gays turns out to be gay himself. Obviously, not everyone who's ever used the word "fag" is a homosexual, but if Thomas frequently directs over-the-top, unnecessarily angry, aggressive language or behavior (especially when unprovoked) at someone else or a group, that's usually a decent indicator that Thomas is trying to cover up or compensate for something about himself. People don't generally hold that level of hatred for anyone but themselves.
For example, from a recent Yankees/Twins game:
I have proudly lived in New York City for over two years, and, unlike the often-heard stereotypes, have found this city's inhabitants to be kind, respectful, and even polite. This changed the night of Oct. 9, when I attended the New York Yankees game against the Minnesota Twins. As a Midwest native showing up to the game in my Twins regalia, I expected to be picked on. I expected to be heckled. What I did not expect was to hear homophobic and anti-gay cheers sung by the crowd.
During the traditional singing of YMCA, when the grounds crew takes to the field, suddenly the crowd erupted into lyrics singing, "Why are you gay, I saw you sucking some d-i-c-k." Other lyrics called people who are gay sinners and disease-ridden. I couldn't believe my ears. Whatever people may say about Minnesota or the Midwest, such hurtful and disgusting things would never be shouted at a Twins game. What an embarrassment for Yankees fans and New York City.
Here's some video (though not of that particular night):
Pretty much this whole thing translates to this: "If you root for the other team, you're a faggot."
Of course, every team's fan base has plenty of assholes. The Mets are no exception, and at the few Giants games I've attended, there were times I was embarrassed to be there.
But this video -- which is a routine these fucking mooks called the Bleacher Creatures perform -- is different. Not only is the language particularly graphic, ignorant and hateful, it happens all the time. Obviously security is fine with it, meaning it receives the implicit endorsement of the Yankee organization. Would this be allowed to continue if it were a song attacking blacks or Hispanics or women or, say, those suffering from dementia or craniosynostosis?
Quite clearly, there are much bigger issues in the news lately, like the recent increase in gay suicides or the fact that the Republican nominee for governor of New York feels free to openly gay-bash. I wonder what the Bleacher Creatures would say about that group of sociopathic thugs who lured three gay men to an abandoned house in the Bronx and then brutally tortured them for hours? (And no, a stupid song is not the same as actual torture, but they did both take place in the Bronx, which means they are clearly and inextricably connected. Probably even the same people.)
We can't know for sure whether every single member of the Bleacher Creatures is, in fact, gay, much like we'll never know for sure whether every snowflake is unique. But hey -- I just finished an entire gay/Yankees post without once mentioning Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez!
If I can do it, we all can.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Happy Birthday, Open Bar. It's fan-tastic. You deserve a break today. The choice of a new generation. Have it your way. Pretty sneaky, sis. I can't believe I ate the whole thing. Little, yellow, different*. All you need is a dollar and a dream. Where's the beef? The quicker picker upper. So easy a caveman can do it**. You're in good hands. Like a Rock. Eet mor chikkin. Avoid the noid. Oh Yeeaaaahhhhhh!!! Mmm mmm good. The king of beers. Talk to Chuck. That was easy. (Oontz, oontz) Tommy's (oontz, oontz, oontz, oon-oon-oontz) Tunes (oontz, oontz). You know what my dad always says: No gimmicks, just good deals.
* - We need to make friends with an Asian guy so we can start calling him Nuprin.
** - Next time I play the dozens (not since 1989, probably), I'm gonna say, "Yo momma's nickname is Geico, because she's so easy a caveman can do it."
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Example. The kids nowadays when they're writing, like writing using a pen and paper, will write stuff like, "U in da way :)", in which the word "You" is spelled "u", "the" is spelled like "da" (appropos, no?) and the emoticon colon parenthesis is written out as an emoticon instead of just a regular smiley face.
I feel like I want to write like a whole essay about why it's retarded to write out an emoticon and about how the emoticon has now come to actually represent the thing it was meant to symbolize and replaced it altogether. It would be a whole long thing and I would be really angry at the end. So instead I'll just express my frustration like this:
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Here we are.
We are at a standstill. The Mets are absolutely terrible. And they have little hope for improving next year. The Giants? Terrible. No heart. No discipline. No nothing except a 7-9 season in their future. The Knicks? Terrible doesn't even begin to describe it. No wins, no point guard, and, worst of all in this past off season, no David Lee (who I'm admittedly gay for). They do get occasional consultation from Isiah Thomas, however. So there's that. Are the Rangers even still a team? I can't really say for sure.
I can't believe I'm caught up in this Mets thing. I came to the Mets late in the game precisely because of this. Why am I caught up in this in the first place? I laughed a smug laugh in 1998 when the Mets blew the wild card. Why do I care about this? Damn you Mets.
What has changed with the Giants since they won the Super Bowl? They have the same offensive line, the same QB, the same running backs (don't give that Ward nonsense), the same pass rushers essentially. Strahan was a leader on the field and off, I get that, but does Michael Strahan turn this team from Super Bowl champions to the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked? They're arguably more athletic at that position now than they were then. They're definitely deeper. Where has their heart gone? PS - it's time for some new gies on the offensive line.
The Knicks are...whatever, I don't even care. I'm a Nets fan now. Or maybe I'm a Thunder fan. Maybe I'll be a post-Lebron Cleveland fan. But that would be just as bad as being a Knicks fan, I guess.
So, does anybody know how the Red Bulls are looking this year?
I have a memory of walking over the Brooklyn Bridge once in college, but it is all together unclear. I have a pretty specific picture in my mind of entering the walking path from the Brooklyn side. It's so specific that I feel like it must have happened, though I can't say that I'm a hundred percent sure that it did. If I ever walk over it again, then I'll be able to confirm the mental image I have of the walking path entrance.
Anyway, driving over the bridge looked a little less like this
And a little more like this
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Well, at least they're consistent!
The Gambino Crime Family.....oops, sorry, the MTA is letting everyone know that fare hikes are once again likely.
Once again they have been totally blindsided because they say they have collected about $900 millioin due to depressed tax revenues and another $149 million because of reduced state funds.
In case you're counting that's over $1 billion dollars of funds that they will not be receiving. And they didn't see it coming.
I know Side Bar disagrees and thinks that the MTA leadership is doing a bang-up job, but in my opinion these people are either criminals or just astoundingly incompetent. I guess they're just kind of incompetent criminals.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Today our focus turns to some of the other affronts to human dignity within sultry strutting distance of the WTC site: strip clubs. Both New York Dolls and the Pussycat Lounge are close enough to the WTC site for workers to make a pilgrimage at lunch, or just visit five times a day (too much?). (Note: I can't access the link because our computers at work have all sorts of filters, etc. I assume it's fine, but you've been warned).
Apparently it is insensitive and an insult to those who died on 9/11 to construct an interfaith Muslim community center within a few blocks of the WTC site. But there is nothing wrong with some light human trafficking and sexual debauchery around the corner. Got it?
Conditional props go to the Wall Street Journal for picking this up and writing it down. The condition is because they are right-leaning and the story was a little too fair and balanced for my taste (like actually fair and balanced; not the way Sean Hannity means it), but props because anyone with 1/10th of a brain (i.e., most of the WSJ's readers - zing!) would appreciate the contrast between people getting fired up about a church (yes, a church, that's all it is to them you bigots) on the one hand and nobody giving a shit about a bunch of strip clubs on the other. (Run-on sentence alert. Open Bar awards me -5 points).
According to the WSJ:
As supporters held signs extolling religious freedom at the site of the proposed Islamic center Wednesday, a stripper who gave her name as Cassandra was working the afternoon shift at New York Dolls on Murray Street — just around the corner.
“I don’t know what the big deal is,” Cassandra said. “It’s freedom of religion, you know?”And according to Chris, a stripper who volunteered in the Ground Zero recovery, and who lost eight friends on Sept. 11, 2001 - firefighters from the Brooklyn firehouse next to her home at the time:
“They’re not building a mosque in the World Trade Center,” she pointed out. “It’s all good. You have your synagogues and your churches. And you have a mosque.” She concluded: “The people who did it are not going to the mosque.”Amen. Out of the mouths of babes . . .
Thursday, August 19, 2010
As Open Bar put it, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
Somewhere, Mike Piazza is smiling.
Have fun in the slammer, ass.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Countless songs, essays, and stories were written about that beautiful fall morning (some of which were downright poetic), and no one who lived through the experience - whether here in New York or watching from afar - could ever forget even one small detail of the events. Now, almost a decade removed from that terrifying day, as we still struggle to find the balance between moving forward and never forgetting, some people think it is acceptable to betray the hallowed ground of the World Trade Center. People who just don’t get it, people who would ask the families of the victims to look the other way, and pretend it didn't happen.
People who would openly and without apology operate a bar just two blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood that serves as an affront to the memory of so many people who died that day.
The Ground Zero Yankee bar.
The Dakota Roadhouse, located at 43 Park Place is just a stone's throw away from the site of the World Trade Center. And despite the Red Sox and Mets fans who died on that day, the Roadhouse is undoubtedly and unapologetically a Yankees bar. Even their website brazenly advertises a "FREE COORS LIGHT FOR EVERY YANKEE HOME RUN."
I caught up with the owner of this establishment by phone earlier this week and asked him how he could be so insensitive to the memory of the victims of 9/11, and wanted to know whether he would refudiate his business.
Me: Is it true that you operate a Yankee bar?
Douchebag Yankee Bar Operator: Not really. I am a Yankee fan, and we get mostly Yankee fans in here, but we usually show the Mets game and a few other games in here, too. Pretty much anyone who is a baseball fan and wants to have a good time after work is welcome as long as they keep it under control.
Me: But what about all the people who died on 9/11? How can you operate a Yankee bar on such hallowed ground?
DYBO: What? What the hell are you talking about? Who is this? The bar is two blocks away - it is like a five-minute walk from Ground Zero. Is this a fucking joke?
Me: No, it is not a joke. I just want to know why you can't operate your Yankee bar somewhere else. Why does it have to be so close to Ground Zero? Isn't it just a little insensitive to the families of the victims who were Mets fans and Red Sox fans?
DYBO: Dude, lots of Yankee fans were killed on 9/11. And the people who killed them were murderous thugs from Al-Qaeda, not Yankee fans. Are you dense?
Me: No, but I am a Mets fan.
DYBO: Same thing.
Me: See! See! You are a Yankeeist. A radical perpetrator of supporting the Yankees to the exclusion of all other baseball teams.
DYBO: Relax. I was just kidding. I hosted a party in here for a group from Boston just the other night. And they are welcome back any time. By the way, where are you calling from? I didn't recognize the area code.
Me: I live in Kansas. But I am a really big Mets fan and I love this country, just like all Americans.
DYBO: Wait, if you live in Kansas, then why the fuck do you care what we do in New York? There are Red Sox and Mets fans in New York and they don't care at all about my bar. In fact, they come in here sometimes (though usually they go the Mets bar around the corner, or the Red Sox bar up the street). I have lots of friends who are Mets fans, and a few who are Red Sox fans. Why are you calling me from Kansas to give me shit that no one in New York cares about? Are you just bored?
Me: People in the real America want to know that the hallowed ground of the WTC site is not being desecrated.
DYBO: I thought you people were all for local control and states' rights? Don't answer that. Look, I really have no idea what this is about. We were here before 9/11, and we have just as much of a right to be here as anyone else. There were dozens of Yankee bars in New York before 9/11 because there have always been thousands of Yankee fans in New York. I know some of them are assholes, and believe me, we hate those guys more than you do. But the overwhelming majority of Yankee fans are good people who just happen like a different team than you do. They probably got it from their parents.
You know, in the aftermath of 9/11, Americans rightly celebrated what is great about our country, including the freedom to follow whatever baseball team you want, whenever, wherever, and however you choose to follow them. Nothing could be more un-American than to question that most basic of our founding principles. Let the triumph of tolerance and American values over bigotry, hate and misinformation be the enduring lesson of 9/11, and let that be our lasting memorial to the fallen.
Me: That was pretty eloquent. Are you sure are not an allegory being used as a literary device to make a larger point?
*This essay is a parody meant to demonstrate the author's views about . . . wait, forget it, if you don't get it then you are a moron. Either way, if anyone took this the wrong way or was truly offended, you have our and my sincere apologies. Seriously.**
**Unless you are a Yankees fan. In that case go cry it out with the other haters of freedom and peace and tolerance at the Dakota Roadhouse.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The preamble is that only the two of us went, but we also invited Side Bar who had mentioned that he was developing an interest in Arcade Fire in previous goings on. But he didn't want to go. If he had gone and we could have bought the tickets on his AmEx card, then we would have had floor seats. Instead we were in the nosebleeds, but actually they were pretty good seats. Long and uninteresting to tell that whole story, but that's the bulk of it.
Anyhow, the concert was super fantastic awesome. It started with Owen Pallett, the dude who arranges the strings for Arcade Fire. He does this thing where he loops violin parts and plays more violin on top of it and the resulting sound is really pretty. I have his two albums and they are good. His one album, "Has a Good Home" is actually in constant rotation on my iPod. Except one dude playing one violin in a half empty arena doesn't exactly translate to a rockin' performance. I thought it was interesting, however. During that time, Open Bar went to watch the Mets game.
After that dude came Spoon. Open Bar said he recognized one of their songs from the radio, but I didn't recognize it. Their set started with a bunch of people on stage, most notably a horn section and the first couple songs rocked. Then the horn section left and I didn't enjoy the middle part as much. Then the horns came back and I enjoyed it again. They were actually pretty good overall, but I liked the horns.
Spoon didn't go off stage until like 9:45 and I lamented to Open Bar that Arcade Fire wouldn't go on until 10:15 and wouldn't finish until like 1:00 and I wouldn't get home until like 2:00 or 2:30. He seemed to think they would finish before 12:30, but I wasn't feeling that.
So, as predicted Arcade Fire comes on at 10:15. They fucking rocked it out. The second best part about watching an Arcade Fire concert is that they rock the shit out of a song and they all jump around and put tons of energy into it and you can't help but reciprocate that energy. The single best part, however, is that as soon as each song is finished, all of them (and there are like 12 of them) put down their instruments and run around and pick up new instruments to play the next song. Regine, also known as the little tiny girl in the shiny dress, ran from one side of the stage to the other in between every song. She played at least 6 instruments during the concert and also sang. They played a bunch of songs everyone knows and some songs from their new album, which had come out just the day before. (Awesome Music Week review coming on that one once I wrap my head around it a little more.)
And my pre-concert request as stated to Open Bar, "I hope they play all the 'Car' songs," came to fruition. The second song they played was "Keep the Car Running" and then during the encore they played "No Cars Go". They also rocked "Power Out", another of my favorites. And the highlight of the show was, of course, the finale. Their last song was "Wake Up", during which the chanted chorus was, well, chanted by everyone in the audience. Fucking rocked.
Finish time, 12:30, as Open Bar predicted. Plus I got a t-shirt. And even though it's a medium and not large, it isn't embarrasingly small, only "hipster tight" as I'm going to call it. I would fit in well in Williamsburg wearing that shirt.
This concert jumps near the top of the list of concerts I have ever attended. The first Dave Matthews concert I ever went to in 1996 I think is still at the top, just because it represented way more than just a concert to me, and also because me and Side Bar were in the 10th row. But aside from that one, I think this one is next. It was just so damn good. As my Facebook status the next day said: "Arcade Fire at MSG last night. Awesome. Sofa King Awesome."
SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT BRETT FAVRE ALREADY!!!!!1!1!!1!11! I DON'T GIVE A FUCK.
I'm confident at this point that this whole ESPN / Brett Favre thing is going to end with Chris Berman literally fellating Favre on the steps of the football hall of fame in Canton.
Fuck you guys.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The fourth place Mets (yep, fourth) lost a heartbreaker by the score of 6-2 to the Rockies on Wednesday night, despite holding a 2-1 lead going into the top of the eighth inning. In that frame, with two outs and the bases loaded, manager Jerry Manuel opted to let his best pitcher idle in the bullpen so that Manny Acosta (I have no idea) could hang a slider to light-hitting (at least when he's not on steroids) Melvin Mora. Mora promptly added his name to the list of ballplayers who have hit grand slams off of the Mets this year, a list that now stands at nine. The Rockies added one more run for good measure, and the impotent Mets couldn't mount a challenge in the last two innings.
On July 1, the Mets were 44-34, just a game and a half behind the Braves for the division lead. Since then, the Mets have gone 13-23, falling to fourth place, and are now nine games out of first. David Wright can’t hit (0-4 last night with four K's), Jose Reyes can't field (admitting that sometimes he gets bored in the field, and hey, you can't pay attention on every pitch, can you?), and the delusional Jeff Francoueur wants to be a traded to a team - presumably a major league team, but who knows - where he will play every day. And don’t forget the ineffective but still expensive Jason Bay, who was going to return from a belatedly diagnosed concussion "inside a week," and now may end up being sidelined for a month or more. Somewhere, Ryan Church is getting a mild headache and cursing this team.
Also, Johan Santana just might be a rapist (but probably not).
Yet the lackluster performance and disappointing result from last night's game aren't quite enough to pronounce the team legally dead. Not with these Mets. Because sure, miracles happen, right? A hot streak; the Braves collapse; Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt all die in a tragic bass fishing accident . . . it's not over until they are technically eliminated, right?
With this team, you can always just sort of tell. When there is that little something extra, usually something off of the field, that's how you know that it is time to go buy an NFL preview magazine. Think Tom Glavine getting his teeth knocked out in a taxi, Mike Piazza having to hold a press conference to deny that he is gay, or David Cone doing that thing in the bullpen that time.
And so it was yesterday when, in addition to losing, the Mets provided another installment in their annual soap opera. First, as noted above, the morning news stories reported on a civil suit filed against Johan Santana by a Florida woman who claims that he raped her. In Johan's defense, the criminal investigation went nowhere for lack of any credible evidence, but it is a distraction nonetheless. Then, not to be outdone, Frankie Rodriguez - the team's effective but occasionally erratic closer - got into a fistfight with his father-in-law after last night's game. K-Rod (a more appropriate name in 2003 when he was really good) allegedly KO'ed his wife's dad (see what I did there?) and is going to face third degree criminal assault charges in Queens.
K-Rod has been good as a closer - in fact, he has been one of the better closers in baseball this year - but these are the shenanigans that befall the Mets every goddamned year. Some crazy, out-of-left-field (man I am killing it today), off-the-wall, bullshit that becomes a huge distraction, and scuttles any hope of just playing regular, winning baseball.
It has been a fun ride, and there have been some memorable moments in 2010 (not to mention hysterical texts from Open Bar), but like every Mets' season in history, save only two, it will end in disappointment. And it concludes with a familiar, hopeful phrase, but one that feels just a bit more desperate each time we have to say it:
Maybe next year.
A few weeks ago, we went over what the Golden Era of Rap was and what albums comprised it. It was such a smashing success that I've spent
* And by the way, I got all these songs for free using this little trick you may or may not know and which I'm sure there are a million other ways to do but I used this one so that's why I chose to describe it:
Find the song you want on YouTube. Copy the URL and paste it into Dirpy. That will convert the YouTube clip to a downloadable mp3, which you should then, well, download. Save it to a folder on your desktop, then open up iTunes. Pull down the File menu and select "Add file to library." Then select all your mp3s and voila! Free shit. You're welcome.
Also, with Dirpy, you can edit out the beginning or end of any video, so if you wanted Naughty by Nature's "Ghetto Bastard" but don't want that kinda-silly hospital scene/skit thing at the beginning, you can just chop it off. Very helpful.
This trick (if you want to call it that) is especially great for live recordings, which YouTube is packed with. Like this version of Arcade Fire's "Headlights Look Like Diamonds," which is way better than the album version, IMO. You can also use it to make ringtones, like I just did with Will Ferrell-as-Robert Goulet. "Dinkle donkle dinkle donkle someone's calling you Goulet" indeed.
So, here are 50* tracks from 1991-1994 that you should add to your iTunes pronto.
* I picked 50 because as a human being I have a rather pointless habit of attributing greater importance to numbers that are multiples of 10, perhaps due to the number of digits on my hands and feet, though that's just one stupid theory to explain why some people still think some guy with 99 RBIs is somehow clearly inferior at hitting to the guy with 100. And that doesn't even address the fact that RBIs are stupid and -- much like the aforementioned boner people get for multiples of 10 -- vastly overrated as a way to evaluate a hitter since (aside from home runs) a hitter only has an opportunity to get an RBI if some other guy did the work of getting on base in front of him. On top of that, it's easier to drive a guy in from third rather than first -- another thing the hitter has no control over. Basically, RBIs are a completely circumstantial statistic and tell you absolutely nothing about a hitter's ability that you couldn't get using a million other, better ways.
Also, shouldn't they really be called RsBI? Paging William Safire.
I called this "The Golden Era of Rap Playlist" because I'm creative. The list is in no particular order other than alphabetical by artist. Enjoy!
- "Tennessee," Arrested Development
- "C'mon Wit da Git Down," Artifacts (Incidentally, typing "C'mon Wit da Git Down" made me feel really, really white.)
- "Wrong Side of da Tracks," Artifacts (Again, white.)
- "I Gotcha Open," Black Moon (Yup, still white over here.)
- "The Choice Is Yours," Black Sheep
- "Flavor of the Month," Black Sheep
- "Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down," Brand Nubian
- "Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)," Craig Mack, feat. Notorious BIG, LL Cool J, Rampage and Bustarhymes
- "Hand on the Pump," Cypress Hill
- "How I Could Just Kill a Man," Cypress Hill
- "Insane in the Brain," Cypress Hill
- "If Only," Das EFX
- "They Want EFX," Das EFX
- "Bitties in the BK Lounge," De La Soul
- "My Brother's a Basehead," De La Soul
- "Mistadobalina," Del the Funky Homosapien
- "Rebirth of Slick," Digable Planets
- "Where I'm From," Digable Planets
- "Nuthin' But a G Thang," Dr. Dre, feat. Snoop Dogg
- "Dre Day," Dr. Dre, feat. Snoop Dogg
- "Deep Cover," Dr. Dre, feat. Snoop Dogg
- "Mass Appeal," Gang Starr
- "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta," Geto Boys
- "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," Geto Boys
- "360 (What Goes Around)," Grand Puba
- "Loungin," Guru
- "Check Yo' Self," Ice Cube
- "It Was a Good Day," Ice Cube
- "Halftime," Nas
- "It Ain't Hard to Tell," Nas
- "Represent," Nas
- "Everything's Gonna Be Alright (Ghetto Bastard)," Naughty by Nature
- "Hip Hop Junkies," Nice and Smooth
- "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow," Nice and Smooth
- "Big Poppa," Notorious BIG
- "Juicy," Notorious BIG
- "The What," Notorious BIG, feat. Method Man
- "Slam," Onyx
- "They Reminisce Over You," Pete Rock and CL Smooth
- "Passin Me By," The Pharcyde
- "Time 4 Sum Aksion," Redman (More like "Whiteman" for me, amirite?)
- "Ain't No Fun," Snoop Dogg
- "Gin and Juice," Snoop Dogg
- "Award Tour," A Tribe Called Quest
- "Check the Rhime," A Tribe Called Quest
- "Scenario," A Tribe Called Quest
- "Regulate," Warren G, feat. Nate Dogg
- "M.E.T.H.O.D. Man," Wu-Tang Clan
- "Protect Ya Neck," Wu-Tang Clan
- "I Get Around," 2Pac
Damn, that is a solid list of 50 songs. Maybe the best ever put together. Probably. Better than any other playlist on this blog, anyway.
Here are a few suggested by readers:
"DWYCK," Gang Starr, feat. Nice & Smooth (from Yankel)
"Life's a Bitch," Nas (Yankel)
"I Used to Love H.E.R.," Common (Yankel)
"Don't Sweat the Technique," Eric B & Rakim (Yankel)
"Juice (Know the Ledge)," Eric B & Rakim (Yankel)
"Crooklyn," Crooklyn Dodgers (I just remembered that one)
Friday, August 6, 2010
Yes, that Isaiah Thomas. The Isaiah Thomas who signed Eddie Curry. The Isiah Thomas who traded for Zach Randolph. The Isiah Thomas who got us dragged to court of sexual harassment. The Isaiah Thomas who OD'ed on sleeping pills and tried to make people think that his daughter was the one who OD'ed. The Isiah Thomas that ensured that we are going to suck for years and years and years. Yep, that one, bitch! How you like them apples?!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
The Mets fight back! But who cares?
Moral wins don't count.
Even a fool knows;
Jerry, don't pitch to Pujols!
Time for heads to roll.
A season slipping away;
Bring on the G-Men.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I don't want to get into the plot because to start explaining it would require me to sortof finish explaining it and I don't want to do that. But I'll say this: the plot is a massive undertaking that requires serious attention to detail and I feel like all of the details were well accounted for. And sortof a side note, Joseph Gordon Levitt has some serious gravitas in his supporting role. There are some moments where it's like, "how come no one but this newbie ever thought of or noticed this before", but ultimately the story is engaging, intricate, and visually stunning.
If you want to go in with a fresh head, then stop reading right now. I'm not going to talk about Inception at all, but I'm going to compare it to some other movies and based on that you'll be able to infer some stuff about this movie. I'm just saying, I warned you. At its absolute most basic level this movie follows a pattern we've seen before in movies like 12 Monkeys, The Usual Suspects, and Total Recall. I think The Usual Suspects doesn't fit perfectly into this mold but at the end of that movie you can, if you are so inclined, argue about what was real and what wasn't and if you had just wasted your time or not. The simplest version of this type of story is Total Recall. But that's what ultimately makes it the least successful. It's ambiguous, yes, but ultimately entirely unimportant. Although I love the notion that the adventure was simply the "vacation" he paid for. It's somehow much more interesting that way. 12 Monkeys is the best example I can think of in this genre. At the end of the day in that movie, either he saved the world or the whole thing was just hallucinations of a crazy guy in 1995. And you really don't even think of the latter possibility until you let it marinate for a while. You're on board the whole time. And the movie doesn't end on the "what's real?" moment, it's just an organic byproduct of the plot. Really well done.
Inception is well done because in order to interpret one way or the other, you'll really need to actually search for the turning point. And what may be the obvious choice for that moment I think is not actually it. And I've only seen it once, so I can't really say where it is without seeing it again. And this is a movie that I will see again. Probably a couple times (on DVD, not like I'm gonna run out to the theater again). And while I'm leaning toward an interpretation, I do appreciate the ambuguity.
Anyway, Lost started the show with essentially two parallel story lines. The shit happening on the island was the sci-fi geeky shit about the nature of the island and what its function was and then the flashbacks were the character studies of the people before they got there and eventually after they left. And somewhere along the way they just dropped the geeky shit altogether and decided to just do the character studies. So it's really easy to decide who will ultimately like and who will ultimately hate the show. If you like the character study, then you liked it, and if you liked the geeky shit and the mystical theories, then you hated it. There's no right or wrong here, except that the show creators could have feasibly decided to finish telling both stories and then everyone would have been happy. I can't possibly fathom being satisfied with the ending of the show, so if you are (Bars, both Open and Side), then I'll just leave you to it. But please don't try and convince me that the story is anything other than 50% told.
At this point I'm really essentially certain of the fact that they just got in way over their heads with the geeky shit and just decided to not ever address it at all, except in the way it intertwined with the character study. The smoke monster, the voices in the forest, the flash sideways, whatever. If those things didn't play a role in the story about fake John Locke and Hurley and Michael and everybody, then they, just like a billion other things, would have been dropped.
It's not even worth making a list of questions that were unanswered. I could go on forever. But I'll say that what I was really hoping was to see the origins of Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking (who predated the Dharma Initiative), the origins of the Dharma Initiative (including how they found the island, how they know its importance, and some actual exposition on the whole Valenzetti Equation thing), the origins of the Egyptian iconography. And I'm not thinking about things that were addressed that just don't sit right with me (Sayid and Shannon?). That's entirely outside the scope of my little exposition here.
And in comparing it to Inception, I'm not the only one who's thinking this way. In the 11 Points list on Inception, there are some points that I think sum this up nicely:
Unlike the later "Matrix" movies, this isn't a complex story whose complexity comes from the fact that there isn't actually a definitive story. (replace "Matrix" movies with "Lost" TV show.)and also
"Lost" was considered a smart TV show but part of the reason that smart people couldn't solve it was because there really wasn't something to solve. We could've taken Stephen Hawking off of his current workload and had him devote the past six years to trying to figure out why Libby and Hurley were in the same mental institution -- and he would've failed, because there was no answer.Here's the best summary I can give about my feelings on Lost. Basically every individual episode was engaging, interesting, worth watching, and most importantly entertaining. And for most shows you would say that as long as you were entertained by those 125 hours, then you got your money's worth. I wasn't expecting meta-answers from Full House, I just liked to hear Uncle Jesse say "have mercy" and watch Dave Coulier do Bullwinkle impressions. But this show was different. Full house was a walk around the block and we made it every time. This show was a plane flight across the Pacific and we.....well, you see where I'm going here. On the whole it fell short. Like way short. To the extent that there simply is no feasible solution to a lot of the things I found most interesting.
And I know I've essentially said the same thing in previous posts and also to you guys in person, but now that I've said it one last time, I think I can let it go.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Fuck the Mets.
Seriously, getting swept by the Diamondbacks?
I hate you all, Mets, but especially you, Jason Bay. And you, Frankie Rodriguez. And Oliver Perez, who, like a particularly inflamed herpes outbreak, returned last night. And Omar Minaya. And Mike Pelfrey. And Jeff Francouer. And especially, most especially, that sac-bunt-calling, Fernando Nieve-pitching manager made of equal parts misery and rape, Jerry Manuel.
Mark it down: This season is over. Our playoff chances are dead. Perhaps not mathematically, but here's where we stand:
- 3 games over .500 with 67 to play
- 6.5 games out of first
- 3.5 out of the wild card
- barely clinging to fifth in the wild-card race
Coming off of a sweep against the remarkably bad D-backs (24 games under .500 -- before playing the Mets), we head into these last 10 weeks of the season with:
- a bullpen that contains the aforementioned STD imitator Oliver "Fucking" Perez and several other shitty baseball-throwers who should not be getting paid to throw baseballs
- a starting rotation consisting of Johan Santana, a rookie, a 35-year-old knuckleballer and some pieces of rancid, floating debris
- a three-catcher rotation that, against all sense, continues to include Rod Barajas as one of its three parts
- a player impersonating Jason Bay -- in name, not baseball ability
- a position on the field that is
played defendedstood in by, at best, gimpy Luis Castillo or, sigh, Alex Cora, who hit a home run in Little League once. (Well, it was really one of those grounders to short which the shortstop overthrew to first, then the first basemen ran after it and then overthrew it to second, and by the time the fat, paste-eating kid in left field tracked it down, Cora was dusting himself off after sliding into third for some strange reason when his coach screamed "RUN!" so Alex did. The throw to home beat him by about 10 feet because even then lil' Alex's legs weren't made for "going fast," but luckily the catcher was a girl so she dropped it because girls can't play baseball. Anyway, the official scorer, who may have been Alex's dad, credited him with a "Home Run!!!" and even bought him some tasty French fries and soda pop afterward to celebrate. Good times.)
Of course, even the Mets (probably) can't manage to continue this awful version of baseball too much longer. During this recent 3-8 stretch, they haven't scored more than four runs once. But a lineup that looks like this:
I'm sure I'll keep watching, and while I watch my heart will defy all logic and reason and continue to believe we'll somehow find our way into the postseason. I will watch as Francisco Rodriguez adds to his already-miles-long list of ways to teach me new forms of heartbreak and suffering and homicidal rage. And while doing all this, I will drink, for that is what Mets fans must do to endure.
Anyways, so later tonight I'll be watching the Mets begin their four-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, splitting my time between frantically texting Side Bar in ALL CAPS (the font known as "Manuel") and cutting myself. Swing by if you can! (And bring bourbon.)
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
These guys were the biggest clowns in the history of clowns and yet somehow we were completely riveted by this stuff. Well, all of us except LJT. I know that winit is with me on this one. Miss Elizabeth was a hottie.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Quick thoughts on the second-most-significant person nicknamed "The Boss":
Passionate about winning.
One of a kind.
Larger than life.
Imminent subject of a Hollywood biopic.
Convicted felon, later pardoned.
Payer of money to scumbag gambler Howard Spira to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield, who was nice enough to give me candy on Halloween.
Monumental figure in baseball history.
Shame of Williams College (according to my dad, at least).
Wielder of the greatest weapon in professional sports over the last 50 years, the eliminator of mistakes, the poor-decision nullifier, the bringer of inevitability, the odds stacker, the undeniable and undeniably significant advantage over his competitors: his checkbook.
There will never be another.
Monday, July 12, 2010
In keeping with our recent theme (to wit: professional sports that no one gives a shit about), I wanted to share my thoughts on the World Cup. Well, I actually wanted to share my thoughts on the World Cup several weeks ago, but I just didn't get around to it. If I had written this post a few weeks ago, it would have gone something like this:
Wow. The World Cup is really great. It is so fun and exciting to watch, and it is encouraging to see Americans really get behind the sport. Each match is quick (compared to say, a baseball game), lively, and totally action-packed. Unicorns, rainbows and hope. Hugs.
And I think I would have been justified in writing that post at the outset of the World Cup. People were excited about the American team, the games are a bit swifter than most U.S. sports, and they are punctuated with moments of incredible drama. The U.S. win over Algeria in extra time was incredibly exciting, and it really felt like all of NYC (at least where I was watching) had taken time out of the day to root for the team. Ergo, World Cup was great. The U.S. team's loss to Ghana was disappointing, but there was still plenty of great soccer left to watch.
But even then, there were some cracks in this happy facade. A U.S. goal against Slovenia was disallowed on a phantom call. And as frustrating as that was, it was compounded by the fact that the referee (note the singular - because there is only one fucking referee who is responsible for covering the entire match) was not required to identify the nature of the penalty, or the player who committed it.
And the flops. Oh those god-damned flops. How many times have we seen players lose their footing when they engage a defender, go flying through the air, and land on the ground writhing in agony, only to have a television replay reveal that there was absolutely no contact whatsoever? A good clue to this nonsense is often that the gie who looks like he is about to pass out from the pain one minute is happily trotting down the field the next. It has become so much a part of the game that it takes over the game; a good slide with no contact earns a yellow card, while a kick to the chest is overlooked by the referees. I think most U.S. fans find this incredibly unsatisfying -- refs miss penalties or calls in our sports all the time (just ask that gie for the Tigers) -- but it is very, very difficult to get used to the level of inconsistency on yellow cards, and the frequency with which these gies dive and just beg for penalties.
There is also the matter of "stoppage time." The concept makes perfect sense: the clock is not stopped during each 45-minute regulation half, so the referee has discretion to add a few extra minutes to the half to to account for any stoppage of play due to injuries, etc. But in practice, the clock is so loosely enforced as to make it laughable. There has never been a single World Cup game that has ended on a breakaway, or just before a corner kick could be taken, etc. Stoppage time always ends when the ball settles in the middle of the field, or rolls out of bounds, or there is some other natural break in play. It is almost as if the ref looks at his watch and thinks, "man, time is up, but I gotta see how this thing ends." The lack of precision with timekeeping is completely foreign in U.S. sports that play off of a clock.
But there is more. Because there is only one ref, he tends to miss really, really important things. Like goals. Like goals being scored against Germany by England. Like the one everyone in the world saw (even me, because Jet Blue is awesome) except the one guy who needed to see it. And yet, despite the incredible consequences a single goal can have on the match (though, in fairness, perhaps not that particular Germany-England match), FIFA has long maintained that they won't introduce instant replay (though that might finally, finally be changing). Even baseball uses instant replay now to determine whether or not a ball was hit for a home run. There are no good arguments left to allow goals to stand that were not goals, and to fail to award a goal when one was scored.
And there is still more. Remember those yellow cards? The ones that sometimes are given out when a player commits a penalty, but other times are given out for no particular reason at all. Well, if you get two of those in consecutive matches, you do not get to play in the next match. This is the equivalent of benching an NFL player in week six who was flagged for personal fouls in weeks four and five (Jeremy Shockey would have missed all of 2006 under this regime). It would be one thing if the yellow cards actually meant something, and were only handed out in response to truly dangerous play, or blatant rule violations. But as it stands, they are handed out so wantonly as to make the punishment (missing an entire game) completely out of whack with the crime. Just ask Thomas Mueller of Germany, who was benched against Spain because of a yellow card issued after an alleged handball. There can be little doubt that Mueller - the top scorer in the tournament and winner of the "Golden Boot" - might have helped Germany alter the outcome against the eventual champions.
The most frustrating aspect of this is how easy it would be to change most of it. Add another ref. Introduce instant reply on balls that may or may not have gone in the net. And, if a player gets two yellow cards in successive matches, review both yellow cards (after the games but before the next one) to determine whether a game suspension is warranted (the NBA does this now when a player is suspended for getting too many technicals).
Referees will always have an impact on sports, but the extent of that impact, and the extent to which the human element can just completely ruin a game and a tournament, can be minimized with little to no impact on the game itself.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Earlier today, SB felt the need to comfort poor LeBron. I couldn’t have disagreed more with SB's DECISION, and here’s why ... (And, for the record, this post isn't about Side Bar being a bitch. It's about the bitch who just moved to South Beach being a bitch.)
SB, you said: “No matter what decision he made, someone was going to be disappointed.”
I say, on the other hand, LeBron James is a bitch. In this whole saga, it’s very much the journey that made him the bitch, though the destination is also quite bitch. The way he orchestrated things these last few weeks and especially last night’s new pinnacle of self-centered bullshit, “The Decision” – that is largely what made him a bitch, though to be sure, the final choice of Miami over Cleveland, New York and Chicago is bitch for another set of reasons.
SB, you said: “He hardly smiled, seemed almost apologetic to Jim Gray for his decision”
You know why? Guilty conscience. Yes, he was embarrassed at the choice he was making because he knows how shitty it is on so many levels, most especially taking a dump on Cleveland after stringing them along all this time and also by agreeing to permanently become Scottie Pippen.
SB, you said: “I have yet to hear anyone talk about the fact that he is putting team and collective excellence ahead of the maximum possible salary. That is an atypical approach for modern-day superstar athletes; perhaps it should be celebrated, not vilified.”
So his salary will now be about $15M-plus, instead of $16.6M. Big fucking difference. And as I said yesterday, LeBron James’ NBA salary is only a fraction of what Lebron™ makes. (Though maybe he did just give up $150 million, but I don’t think that’s what you were implying, so you don’t get credit. And even with that, it wasn’t his intention to sacrifice that money; he’ll lose it as a result of everyone now thinking he’s a bitch.)
SB, you said: “He had to at least make sure that he himself would not be disappointed, and the way to do that was to go to the team that was most likely to win a championship.”
Sure, the Heat are probably now the favorites to win it all next year. But had he gone to the Bulls, they certainly would have been the favorites. I think you can make a pretty damn good case that a starting five comprised of Derrick Rose, LeBron, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah is better than Wade, LeBron (who should always be mentioned second, from now on), Bosh, Dabney and Wayne Chrebet or whatever other league-minimum guys the Heat will put on the floor to round out the team. And to further that point, if winning is all that matters, why not take an even bigger pay cut -- say, league minimum -- so the team can acquire some decent supporting players?
SB, you said: “There are only so many times that TNT can make the Heat-Lakers the game of the week.”
There are exactly two.
SB, you said: “once Bosh and Wade made their decision, LeBron almost seemed to be falling in line, not leading the charge. The build-up to this whole summer was all about LeBron. But the way it played out made his decision feel a little bit like an afterthought.”
Okay, you got that part right. See? I’m being fair.
A few more thoughts…
First of all, as a life-long Delonte West fan, I’m happy that he’s probably the most popular player in the Midwest right now. Way to go, Delonte!
Fuck this whole going-to-charity nonsense, too. It was the Boys and Girls Club…of Greenwich, Connecticut. LIKE THEY NEED ONE OF THOSE IN FUCKING GREENWICH.
And I thought pessimism was a Mets fan’s default state. I can only imagine what it’s like if you’re from Cleveland. Actually, no, I’d rather not imagine that.
Can’t WAIT to see the Heat’s first visit to Cleveland next year. I thought when Johnny Damon went back to Fenway after signing with the yankees that the reaction was rough. Bring the Kevlar, LePippen!
What I also can’t wait for? Carmelo.
And not a single word of thanks to the people of Cleveland? He pretty much gave them an hour-long kick to the balls. That’s really what it must’ve felt like if you’re Joe Unemployed Guy at the bar in Cleveland – like you just got kicked right in the balls for an hour. (A ha! Perhaps THIS is why SB identifies so closely with LeBron.) Now, normally I’m all for disparaging anything to do with Ohio or its residents (except Kenyon, shut up, LJT), but even I have my limits. What LeBron did was just sadistic.
And thank you, Kevin Durant. Much as I hate when people get all moralizing and shit when it comes to star athletes, the two ways that LeBron and Durant handled their contract situations couldn’t have contrasted better. Durant = class. LeBron = bitch.
LeBron, allow me to address you directly for a moment. Everyone now wants you to fail. Sure the Heat may have some new fans, but that's because no one has ever given a shit about them before. Except for maybe a few randoms -- and they already like Dwyane Wade better anyway. Have fun being Garfunkel the rest of your life, you bitch.
And finally, props to LJT for pointing out that if you’re still on the fence about whether LeBron is as big a bitch as I’ve made him out to be here, please consider his dumbass Abe Lincoln beard – which no one can blame ESPN for.
But the Knicks. The fucking Knicks. Please, someone explain to me why the only thing that has come out of Madison Square Garden that has brought me any joy in the last five years is gone. David Lee, David fucking Lee, who I am admittedly totally biased for and probably overrate, but who did average 20 and 10 last year and was an all star, was traded away.
I didn't like when they said that they were gonna go out and get LeBron, Wade, and Bosh and so they couldn't afford to keep Lee (what a preposterous plan, btw. you'll never get those guys on the same team.), but I understood. But now they have all this salary cap space, they signed a guy whose game is contingent on having a good point guard which they don't have, and THEY STILL SUCK. Their plan went to shit and the only thing that I still truly loved about the Knicks is gone. Gone. And who the fuck is Anthony Randolph?
Is this now a 2011 free agent plan?
Evan had a much more rational response to this turn of events. I think I'm on the verge of just quitting the NBA all together. Wake me up for the Lakers-Heat Final.
And today comes the inevitable outrage. LeBum. In an open letter to Cavaliers' fans, majority owner Dan Gilbert absolutely excoriated the "former King," calling his a "cowardly betrayal," and guaranteeing that the Cavs would win an NBA title before LeBron (a proclamation that Harvey Araton of the Times rightly characterized as "foolish"). (Side note: Read the whole letter. It was so obviously written in the heat of the moment and with emotion that it is almost funny to see how absolutely devastated this guy is to have lost LeBron. I cannot imagine how David Stern doesn't fine this guy for this letter). There are reports out of Cleveland of people burning their LeBron jerseys, and of others throwing rocks at a local billboard that displays the suddenly erstwhile hometown hero.
I am not the biggest NBA fan (though I might have become one if LeBron had opted to sign with the Knicks), so my reaction to the whole thing was somewhat muted. But I do keep coming back to two sentiments that run together, and I guess they form my reaction to this whole episode. First, I feel kind of badly for LeBron (calm down, keep reading). Second, this really could not have played out any worse for the NBA.
The frustration of Cavs' fans, the disappointment of Knicks' fans and Bulls' fans, and the general discontent of sports' fans with LeBron's decision is understandable. But it is also not fair. Whatever he did, LeBron could not win. No matter what decision he made, someone was going to be disappointed (a point he made to Jim Gray last night, almost defensively). If he signed with anyone other than the Cavaliers, he was going to be a sell out. A hometown star who deserted his friends and family for a bigger stage. But signing in Cleveland would have made it tougher for him to win a championship (because he was unable to lure other free agents to his team). It also would have increased his overall take, opening him up to criticism that he was really making a purely economical decision. So in making his choice, as he explained it to Jim Gray, he had to at least make sure that he himself would not be disappointed, and the way to do that was to go to the team that was most likely to win a championship, his ultimate goal. With both Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh committed to Miami, the decision had to be an easy one once it was viewed through that lens. And if winning a championship was your ultimate goal, I am not sure any of us would have done anything differently.
Sports figures are routinely criticized, if not worse, for their absolute and myopic pursuit of the highest dollars they can get. There is no loyalty, there is no concept of team, just an all-penetrating desire to maximize cash. LeBron took a different approach. And while he will hardly be on welfare, I have yet to hear anyone talk about the fact that he is putting team and collective excellence ahead of the maximum possible salary. That is an atypical approach for modern-day superstar athletes; perhaps it should be celebrated, not vilified.
Watching LeBron last night, he looked every bit the part of a guy who showed up at his coronation only to regret having to wear the crown. I honestly would not have traded places with him at that moment. He hardly smiled, seemed almost apologetic to Jim Gray for his decision, and copped out behind the fact that his mom had blessed his decision (insert Delonte West joke here), as if that would be enough for the rest of us, too. ESPN's woefully inadequate production didn't help either. This broadcast was thrown together at the last minute, and when James actually announced his decision --- the moment ESPN tells us we have all been waiting for --- you could barely hear him, and there was no reaction from the audience at all. The entire hour ended up being awkward, uncomfortable, and just plain weird. Again, LeBron shoulders some of the blame for this: Kevin Durant didn't agree to a prime time special to announce his signing with Oklahoma City. But LeBron was trying to do something good, i.e., capitalize on ESPN's fascination with this whole saga to sell some airtime for the benefit of one of his charities. But instead it just came off as a self-promoting PR stunt.
I know there are people in the world who deserve a lot more sympathy than a 25 year-old who is already a millionaire many times over. But that's just it. He is only 25 years old. I am not sure I could have handled this level of media scrutiny any better than he did, and I am not sure I would have made a different decision. ESPN and other media outlets made this the biggest sports story of the year because, well because that's what they do, they promote and sell interest in sports. So accusations that LeBron "carefully constructed" this whole process are tongue-in-cheek at best; LeBron could have crawled under a rock for the last two weeks and this still would have been a huge story (he just about did).
Given the money he is guaranteed to make, LeBron really couldn't lose here. But given the microscope he was under, and the millions of people who were going to criticize whatever decision he made, he couldn't really win, either. I think he knew that, and I think that is why he made his decision.
In addition to my (mild) sympathy for LeBron, I cannot see how this whole thing could have played out any worse for the NBA. Three of the league's best players are now concentrated in one market, and on one team. There are only so many times that TNT can make the Heat-Lakers the game of the week. The timing was off too: once Bosh and Wade made their decision, LeBron almost seemed to be falling in line, not leading the charge. The build-up to this whole summer was all about LeBron. But the way it played out made his decision feel a little bit like an afterthought.
The comparisons to the "evil empire" are already underway. And LeBron's near perfect image now has at least a few smudges on it. The Heat will no doubt sell tickets wherever they go, but LeBron was going to sell out arenas wherever he played. I just cannot understand how it helps the NBA to send Team USA out 82 times a year to beat up on lesser teams (I suppose Kobe could take issue with that last sentence, but few others could).
I would have liked to see LeBron in New York (of course), but failing that I really wanted him to stay in Cleveland. It felt like the ending we would have expected out of a cheesy movie. But instead he chose the team that he (rightly) thinks gives him the best chance to win a championship, rather than the team that could and would pay him the most money. Stripping away all the hype that accompanied this whole saga - some of which he created or encouraged, but most of which he did not - I am just not convinced (as many people seem to be) that his decision is worthy of contempt and scorn.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Admittedly, I'm not the world's biggest or most loyal Knicks fan, but it's also not my fault that over the past decade-plus, Isiah Thomas and the Dolans treated me and all Knicks supporters like Stephon Marbury does interns in pickup trucks. It's been a dark, desolate period of salary-cap incompetence, unfathomably bad management at all levels, and Eddy Curry donut runs since Spree took us to the Finals in 1999.
But these past two years, under Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni, have provided the first glimmer of hope in ages. I was a fan of the decision to more or less forfeit two seasons in order to open up cap space to afford premium free agents in the 2010 offseason. Basically, they were willing to lose a lot if it meant getting LeBron James.
Everything was going according to plan.
Until now, I guess, as it appears "sources" are "indicating" LeBron is gonna choose Miami. In which case, adios, asshole, have fun in South Beach with Dwyane and Chris as you add your contribution to the NBA's return to being completely uninteresting.
Really, who's gonna want to watch those three just stampede over everyone else? The only way it'll be watchable is if they somehow fuck it all up and don't win like 75 games every year and go undefeated through the playoffs and win five straight championships.
Of course, there will be one group of happy people: Heat fans. Everyone else, though, will either quickly learn to hate the Heat or simply turn their attention elsewhere. It's kind of like those offseasons where the yankees go out and buy everyone who's good -- sure, it makes yankee fans happy, but everyone else's reactions range from "FuCk teh stineBrennerz!" to "Whatever, same shit, different year, when's football back?"
[Excuse me for a moment, as I go off on a bit of a tangent...
But that's pretty much where the yankee comparison ends. The NBA season is quite a different creature from the baseball season. In baseball, even a team like the yankees -- with their non-salary-capped $200 million-plus payroll, with their All-Stars at just about every position, with their infield that makes more money than several entire teams -- still can only win about 60% of their games. Right now, their best-in-baseball record is 53-31, a .631 winning percentage. Winning 100 games in a season -- which very rarely happens -- only equates to winning about 62% percent of the time. So for much of the regular season, and certainly on a game-by-game basis, there is at least some drama, some degree of suspense as Mariano comes in to close out a 2-run game. And that's even when the yankees play the Royals, who, due to the nature of baseball, will still beat the yankees about 30% of the time or more, no matter the disparity in salary or talent.
However, in basketball, the best teams routinely win over 60 out of 82 games a year. Last season, the Cavs had the league's best record at 61-21, meaning they won about 75% of the time -- and that isn't even all that remarkable for an NBA team.
By comparison, the very best record in all of baseball history is 116-36, by the 1906 Chicago Cubs. Know what that percentage comes out to? 75%.
The '96 Bulls, who own the NBA's best record ever, went 72-10 (.878 winning pct.); they were 41 and fucking 3 at one point that year, before (presumably) taking it easy the rest of the way. Point is, if LeBron goes to Miami to join those other two -- after all the drama and nonsense and bullshit hour-long ESPN "decision specials" whose proceeds "go to charity" that we've been subjected to the past two years as he approached free agency -- anything less than a full-on attempt to match and/or exceed what the Jordan-era Bulls accomplished (both regular-season-wise and in total championships) will be a big letdown.
Now back to what we were talking about...]
And hey, I don't blame LeBron for much of this. Sure, it's nauseatingly egotistical. Sure, it's greedy. But hey, he's put in his time (and in fucking Cleveland, too, let's not forget), he's earned the right to make his demands and then take however much time he wants to decide.
The way it stands now, I tend to agree with this guy, whose tweet I put at the top.
Loyalty, wherever it fits in the world of free-agency-oriented, multi-billion-dollar professional sports, is worth something, sure. And maybe he really loves Ohio. And maybe I'm a Chinese jet pilot. Whatever, I've long thought he was gonna end up staying there. And if he does, who's really gonna be surprised? The worst consequence for LeBron is that people will accuse him of stringing his oldest fans along for all this time. That, and he'll still be in Ohio.
However, if he comes to New York, he has the opportunity to achieve something towering. Winning a championship here would be the grandest coronation someone whose nickname is King anyway could imagine. I bet he would shoot right past Jeter-level adulation and enter the Mantle Zone. With a premiere player like Amar'e (why the dick is there an apostrophe there?) here already and more cap space opening next summer (cough -- Carmelo -- cough), he could do a lot worse. Like, say, Ohio.
But Miami? As I described above, the expectations are prohibitively high already and besides, it'll look weak, like he took the easy way out. And I'm sure we'll hear all about how he and the other two already-super-rich guys agreed to take less money to make it happen. Spare me. LeBron James, NBA player, earns a pittance compared to LeBron™.
So it pretty much comes to this: Stay in Cleveland, and this whole saga, while anticlimactic, is at least over and your people will still love you. Or you can come to New York and be loved and give us championships and make the Knicks a real-life basketball team again. Or else, go have fun in Florida while no cares as you fail chasing Jordan like a junkie chases the dragon, you greedy fucker.