Showing posts with label Bad Sports Writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bad Sports Writing. Show all posts

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dave Zirin Simply Doesn't Get It

Dave Zirin, who is the sports editor for The Nation, loses his mud here.

It's not like there's anything to gain from defending Penn State at this point. It's not like anyone is going to look to Rick Reilly with anything other than pity and disdain.

The problem here is this: Joe Paterno didn't give a damn about the children that Jerry Sandusky molested. That's now a proven fact. And what makes that the crux of everything that is going on here is that, were it not for Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky would have been caught, tried, and convicted of child molestation a decade or more ago--thus saving several young boys from being molested.

What was it that gave Joe Paterno the power to do such a thing?

Penn State Football.

Who enabled him?

Penn State Football.

What was the source of his ability to intimidate officials into doing nothing?

Penn State Football.

What is the sole reason anyone in America even knows who Joe Paterno is?

Penn State Football.

And we're talking about defending the very institution that spun out of control and allowed this thing to happen? There is no defense. The part of Penn State University that was under the control of Joe Paterno has not been under the control of the university for decades. Decades.

The reason why children were raped is because Penn State University did not have effective operational control over the men's football team because Joe Paterno had too much power and was too influential to allow anyone to control his team. His coaches, trainers, players and whoever else were all, effectively, completely in his hands and no one could touch him.

The very fact that the man was untouchable should tell you that there was and is a structural problem at Penn State that cannot be fixed unless and until the football program is, effectively, ended and then rebuilt under a new system of rules and in a way that will place it under institutional control.

Dave Zirin can't admit it--Penn State Football became the most insidious kind of criminal organization--one outside of the control of the people who were corrupt enough themselves to revel in the fact that they were winning football games while children were being raped in the showers. It was something utterly hellish and vile, and we're talking about how "spare me" is an effective rhetorical defense of what, exactly?

Spare me the details--football means what now?


So, you tell me. A man with tremendous power and influence is faced with a choice. He can do the right thing or he can turn a blind eye to what's happening in his own football program in order to continue his march to glory and the record books. And so, he chooses Penn State Football over children who are being molested.

What needs to happen here is this--Penn State Football needs to go away for a while, possibly for good, to set an example as to what can happen when an institution loses functional control of a major asset like the Men's Division I college football team. It needs to go away because the very foundation of Penn State Football is now so encrusted with filth and slime they're actually remodeling the showers where Jerry Sandusky raped children.

And you want to defend these people?

The Nation needs a new sports editor.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Worst Piece of Sports Writing Ever

Shania Twain

When I think of the Super Bowl, I think of Shania Twain. Hey, you try to figure it out. I'm busy.

See if you can get through this without falling asleep:

There is no better day for sports in the world than Super Bowl Sunday. That includes the World Cup Final.

I’m not talking about how many people watch. By that standard, the World Cup Final beats any three Super Bowls put together. But there’s more to a great day than the event around which it is built. It’s all the goodies that have accumulated around the event that ultimately makes the day.

The Super Bowl has everything you could want in a day built around a game that children can play. No day has more meat on its metaphorical bones.

A big part of it has to do with when the Super Bowl is played.

The Super Bowl is played on the first Sunday in February. Before the NFL settled on that day for its biggest game, it was known for absolutely nothing. Among all the Sundays of the year, the first one in February was like the year’s mail-room clerk — anonymous, unrecognized, unappreciated; a day as dull as a public reading of the tax code.

There is so much nothing happening that the NFL can take a full two weeks to build up for one football game, knowing that the media has nothing else to talk about. There is no more perfect a day for it.

Then there’s the name: the Super Bowl. If it were called the NFL Championship Game and didn’t bother to separate one from another with Roman numerals, it wouldn’t be nearly as popular with the great masses of non-fans.

Sporting events become great when they attract the attention of those who normally don’t watch sports. That’s why the Olympics are great. It’s what makes March Madness so much fun. It’s why the World Cup is so magnificent.

I know; I can't get through that without rolling my eyes and wanting to go outside and throw things into the trees in order to make the snow fall onto the ground. That's why I had to find a picture of Shania Twain, Cletus. You'd be asleep right now if I hadn't.

That is the absolute worst piece of sports writing I have read in my entire life. Full stop. The. Absolute. Worst. Piece. Of. Sports. Writing. Ever. That makes me want to slap my cheeks and try to pull my face off. That makes me want to hurl cookies through a plate glass window. That makes me want to stomp through a flowerbed with someone else's shoes on. God, the pain of reading that makes me want to take a telephone pole, shave it down to the size of an icepick, and pluck out my mind's eye and fling it at the windshield of a car going three hundred miles and hour off of a cliff.


Mike Celizic, when they forcibly retire you, staple that column to your pajamas so someone will know to give you the brown flavored jello.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mike Florio is a Dishonest Jackass

That was the headline, what you see above.

This is what's left of the story:
PFT’s Picks: Colts return to old form with Ravens in town
Forget the Colts’ late-season malaise; Baltimroe no match for Indy
By Mike Florio
updated 4:36 p.m. ET, Sat., Jan. 16, 2010
Each week,’s Mike Florio will break down and pick the winners of the NFL playoff games.

Baltimore at Indianapolis
The postseason is the occasion for the reversal of trends. Just ask the Cowboys, who found a way to conclude a 13-year winless streak in the postseason.

So at Lucas Oil Stadium, something has to give. The Colts have in recent years performed poorly after a bye week. The Ravens have in recent years been unable to beat the Colts. In fact, Peyton Manning hasn't lost to Baltimore since 2001.

The Colts are the superior team. And the storm of criticism the Colts experienced when opting not to pursue a perfect regular season could provide extra motivation not only to outscore the Ravens, but also to obliterate them.

The last time the Ravens came to town, they left on the wrong end of a 31-3 outcome.

That margin sounds about right.

Pick: Colts 38, Ravens 10

Dallas at Minnesota
This year, as in many, awarding a team the status of front-runner equates to the application of the kiss of death.

After wild-card weekend, the Cowboys have become the odds-on favorite to advance to Super Bowl XLIV, and possibly to win it.

But the Vikings are undefeated at home this season, where their offensive line seems to be more nimble on the fake plastic blades of grass covering the floor that not long ago featured green cement.

The game will turn on whether that offensive line can give quarterback Brett Favre enough time to set up and throw. If Favre can do it, the Vikings can score enough to win the game.

Pick: Vikings 28, Cowboys 24

New York at San Diego
The question of the week is whether the Chargers will be able to devise a successful game plan despite the presence of bona fide shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis.

But it’s not as if the Chargers have no experience facing great cover men. After all, they play in the AFC West, which entails four games per year against Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders and Champ Bailey of the Broncos.

Besides, Revis will take away only one man. The Chargers have multiple weapons on offense. If they can build a double-digit lead and force the Jets to throw, this one could get out of hand.

Pick: Chargers 31, Jets 17

See anything in there about the Saints and Cardinals?

Of course not--because the Saints killed the Cards in the first half.

Either Florio tried to take down his post or someone at MSNBC.Com did, but, either way, you can't be more of a smarmy jackass than Mike Florio right now. I don't fault him for the "Baltimroe" gaffe, either.

Apparently, that intern has had too much soda pop.

Thanks for the prediction, son. Now, could they help you from the scene of your own debacle and hire someone to comment intelligently on sports in your stead?

Is that asking too much? Apparently so.

***UPDATE: Well, I'll give Indy-Baltimore to Florio. He, essentially, got that right, and I guess even a blind pig can find a truffle.

UPDATE 2: Florio missed the Minnesota blowout, but got the winner right. Florio blew the Chargers-Jets pick by a country mile. I guess MSNBC has low standards. You can for .500 and miss the point spreads on all four games by huge margins and keep your gig. What a disgrace.

Better sports writing and analysis, please.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Always Give Up and Never Try

Always shoot for mediocre, don't try hard, and always expect to fail. Giving up before you try is what winners do. Hey, you know that, because these other guys failed, you're gonna fail too, right?

Tim Tebow has been a great story, but I'm concerned about how this story ends. It's not the Florida fan in me, or the Tim Tebow fan in me, because neither fan exists. But the writer in me? The writer in me exists, and the writer in me is concerned. Writers love a good story, and we especially love a good ending.

And Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's story should have ended Friday night in the Sugar Bowl.

Not his story overall. I'm not asking for the young man to die. I'm asking for him to retire from football. Wouldn't that be perfect? Seriously -- I cannot imagine a better ending, a more fitting ending, for this once-in-a-lifetime football player than his immaculate Sugar Bowl performance, when he threw for 482 yards and ran for 51 and produced as many touchdowns (four) as incomplete passes.

We should all be so lucky as to go out like that -- knowing our limitations, knowing we have reached the apex of our career, and leaving on our own terms. That would be like me winning a Pulitzer Prize and then smashing my laptop to pieces after accepting the award. (I'm never winning a Pulitzer; I know this. It's an analogy, people.) That would be like Bobby Bowden passing Bear Bryant with 324 career victories at the declining age of 72 and then stepping down (OK, another bad example).

It would be like Jim Brown winning the NFL rushing title in 1965 and then, at age 29, retiring from football.

It would be like Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax going 27-9 in 1966, the best season of his superstar career, and then retiring at age 30.

It would be like Rocky Marciano knocking out three fighters in 12 months and then, in 1955, retiring at age 32.

No, it would most emphatically NOT be like any of those incidents. This is where the hubris of the sports commentator or writer interferes with reality. Mr. Doyel wants shining glory and perfect endings and familiar absolutes. The real world has none of these things when a person really strives to achieve something and has something left in the tank.

You can compare two great quarterbacks--Joe Montana and John Elway. Montana felt he had more football in him, so he toughed it out and tried to add to his considerable legacy. Elway retired after winning a Superbowl. I would suspect that Elway's decision was different because he didn't feel that he had it in him to win a third Superbowl. That's his right, God bless him. His legacy takes no tarnish, nor, in my mind, does Montana's.

Even Dan Marino continued on, having one of the most horrendous games of his career. Should that have finished him? It all comes down to the quality of his play and his determination to come back. It has nothing to do with making it easy for some jackass with a pen and paper to tie up loose ends. Competitors will always come out and play if they have it in them. Each pro athlete makes a tortured decision to retire.

To say that a young man who is absolutely unformed and without one single snap in the NFL should give up before even trying is the height of absurdity. Let Mr. Tebow do whatever he wants.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Way to go out on a limb there

Does anyone really care if the Saints and Colts go 16 and 0?
The New Orleans Saints and Colts are so close to 16-0 seasons, but there are sound reasons to believe neither team will attain regular season perfection.

Winning any game — let alone winning every game — is a difficult thing to do in the NFL.

“In order to win just one game in the National Football League, you have to play at an exceptionally high level,” Colts president Bill Polian said. “At some point in time during the course of a season, breaks are going to go against you. At some point in time you are going to have a game that is decided the wrong way by the officials. And there are always injuries. Brian Billick said it best. Take a look at teams now, and it’s not how they will look in January. From my perspective, going 16-0 is damn near impossible to do.”

In many ways, going 16-0 is a more impressive accomplishment than winning a Super Bowl, even though winning a Super Bowl is more significant.

Rodney Harrison understands the pressure the Saints and Colts will face in their final games. He played for the 2007 New England Patriots, who finished 16-0.

“Every time you play someone when you are undefeated, they want to be that team that knocks you off,” said Harrison, who now is an analyst on NBC’s Football Night in America. “You’re going to get their very best. That’s why it becomes so difficult. Then you have the national scrutiny, the attention you get, making a distraction.

You know, week in, week out, lazy sportswriters say that the Colts and the Saints are "going to lose this weekend" and "won't make it to 16 and 0." This is the best example I can think of to illustrate why sports writing has gone into the tank in this country.

Really? You think they won't make it? How safe is that for a prediction? Because, statistically speaking, that is the safe bet to make. It's a little like saying that one NFL team is going to score more than 35 points this weekend. Statistically, it's very likely that at least one team will score more than 35 points because, week in, week out, at least one if not three or four teams racks up some offense and scores that many points.

Hey, and I'll bet someone gets their uniform dirty, too.

The Saints and the Colts are having a great season. If they make it to 16 and 0, what a great story. But is it worth writing about? Instead of making the safe prediction, tell me who has the better chance of getting a perfect season into the record books. Tell me how Brees matches up against Manning, and tell me something I don't already know by doing some legwork. Tell me if the offensive line is better on this team or that team because of someone who is working harder than ever before. Tell me what coaching change or scheme or alignment of the football gods in the stars above is shining down some brilliance, and don't spare the details. Write, dammit. Write something readable and interesting. Don't sit there with your wang in one hand and a BlackBerry in the other and make the BOLD prediction of failure. Anyone can predict failure. Tell me why success is possible, what makes the failure a possibility, and who has what to thank for their performance this season.

MSNBC seems to hire these guys. Sports Illustrated and ESPN has them, too, and I don't even bother with Fox Sports, although, I probably should. The hacks end up at MSNBC for some reason. It's like they don't even have any standards.

Here's my bold prediction: half the teams are going to win this weekend, half are going to lose, and maybe, just maybe, someone will score a touchdown.

There, can I write about sports for MSNBC?

UPDATE: Hilariously, Both New Orleans and Indy won. So, did MSNBC fire their incompetent sports writers? Of course not.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bad Sports Writing From Ken Davis

Who hired this hack to write about sports?
Before Kentucky and Connecticut come together Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, coaches John Calipari and Jim Calhoun face a big decision. Will they choose the path of truth? Or will they opt for that road called Political Correctness?

Two years ago, when Calipari was still at Memphis and the Tigers defeated UConn in the 2K Sports Classic, they went all PC on us. Wouldn’t it be more fun this time around if these two highly successful coaches decided to bare their souls and talk about how much they dislike each other?

Maybe it’s old news. After all, the ill will between these two is rooted in activity that took place 20 years ago, before either coach rose to national prominence, before the conference championships, and Final Four trips. Calhoun, who has won two national championships, was on the verge of greatness at UConn. Calipari, who has had two Final Four trips vacated by the NCAA, was just starting out at UMass. Calipari wasn’t a real threat yet, just more of an annoying gnat that Calhoun kept swatting away.

They didn't go "PC" on us, as in "politically correct." They acted like adults.

Some of the absolute worst sports writing in the world takes place on MSNBC. Ken Davis is trying to race to the bottom and lie down in the gutter with Mike Celizic. Really, this is just awful, awful sports writing. This is as bad as it gets--trying to use column inches to start a nothing rivalry between two coaches who know better.

Someone needs to keep Ken Davis away from college sports. He has no business writing about amateur athletics if that's how he views sportsmanship.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Now THAT'S Talking Smack

Is there anyone more candid than Rasheed Wallace?
The way Rasheed Wallace sees it, his latest technical foul call was a flop.

The Boston Celtics big man said Friday night that Raptors forward Hedo Turkoglu duped the referees into giving Wallace his fifth technical of the season by flopping.

“They’ve got to know that he’s a (darn) flopper. That’s all Turkododo do,” Wallace said after the Celtics beat the Raptors 116-103. “Flopping shouldn’t get you nowhere. He acts like I shot him.

“That’s not basketball, man. That’s not defense. That’s garbage, what it is. I’m glad I don’t have too much of it left.”

Commissioner David Stern has complained about flopping because it’s a way to fool the officials, but the league has been unable to find a way to punish or prevent it.

Wallace is the NBA’s career leader with 296 technicals and 29 ejections, according to STATS LLC. But he said some of it is because of his reputation and lack of status in the league.

“Let the Golden Child (LeBron James) do that, or one of the NBA Without Border kids do that, it’s all fine and dandy,” he said.

“This game is watered down, watered down with all that flopping. They’re setting rules on us to the point where you’re taunting if you dunk on somebody. Paul dunked it and then he didn’t say nothing, but it’s a tech.”

Cue the phony outrage of a thousand bad sports writers who will write about how Wallace is a cancer and a bad, bad player.

Actually, Rasheed Wallace has just spoken more truth about the National Basketball Association than any player has in ten years. The game is watered down. The game is corporate-oriented towards international players at the expense of the roots of the game. And it is not worth watching. I haven't watched more than a handful of games, and the bad shooting and dogging it on defense made me abandon several games, none of which even involved the Knicks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Misguided Thinking

Anyone can talk about reconciliation, but some things you cannot reconcile. Some things, you cannot excuse.

I don't doubt that what motivates Coach Bobby Knight is not anger, not some negative feeling, not hatred and not spite. I think what motivates him is a sense that there was no fairness in the process of firing him, and that it was reactionary and that it dismissed his role as a clean coach who graduated players and educated young men.

When I read things like this, I find them easy to dismiss:
Bob Knight and Indiana are fighting again. Well, maybe that's not the right way to phrase it. It's the same fight, the one that should have ended years ago.

The latest dispute is technically about $75,000 that Knight says Indiana owes him. But it's about more than that. It's about bitterness and about letting go. Indiana donors offered to pay Knight the $75,000, but he wouldn't take it. He said he never took money from boosters and he wouldn't start now.

So Knight will skip his own induction into Indiana's Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend. He says he doesn't want to be a distraction.

People either hate Knight or love him, but at this point I think we can all agree: Who cares?

Who cares if you thought Indiana should have stood up to him in the 1970s, when his temper first surfaced? Who cares if Indiana should have given him a fairer shake when it finally did fire him nine years ago?

Knight should be the grand old man of Indiana basketball. He should be the icon who comes back to talk to the team once in a while and hears the roar of the Assembly Hall crowd when he walks to his seat in the stands for the Purdue game.

What does that even mean--the grand old man of Indiana basketball? Why should he upstage the current coach at Indiana and come back to talk to players who don't know him, weren't recruited by him, and don't play for him? What if--and I say this with all candor--Indiana is now the kind of program Knight spent his career having to deal with, one that engages in corrupt recruiting practices and in unfair competition?

Here's one angle no one talks about--didn't Indiana have a Kelvin Sampson issue?
Basketball coach Kelvin Sampson agreed to Indiana's offer of a $750,000 buyout Friday, waiving his right to sue the university for further damages, and turning the program over to interim coach Dan Dakich.

"I have made the very difficult decision to leave my position as head coach of the men's basketball team at Indiana University," Sampson said in a statement. "While I'm saddened that I won't have the opportunity to continue to coach these student-athletes, I feel that it is in the best interest of the program to step aside at this time."

The deal calls for Sampson to be paid $750,000, $550,000 of which is being provided by an anonymous donor, the university said. The remainder will come from athletic department funds. Sampson has agreed he will not file a wrongful termination lawsuit against Indiana.

The settlement was first reported by's Andy Katz.

The athletic department's response to an NCAA report charging Sampson with five major NCAA rules violations may create an even bigger mess for the Hoosiers, starting with Saturday's game at Northwestern.

Some players threatened to sit out the game as a protest. However, athletic director Rick Greenspan, who asked for Sampson's resignation, said he expected the players to participate at Northwestern and the program to move forward after one of the darkest chapters in program history. And according to an Indiana spokesman, all players were present at the team walk-through Friday night.

Now, say you're Coach Knight, and Indiana won't pay you $75,000 legitimately from University funds, and say you've returned the money they tried to give you out of principle because it came from "anonymous donors" or alumni, perhaps because you are an honest person who never took money from the alumnni.

Don't you think that the terrible insult of watching the corrupt Kelvin Sampson--whose name never appears in your article--being handed ten times that much money, most of it from those same sources, for being the worst possible kind of basketball coach is an indication that Indiana University and the athletic department at Indiana are not worth two cents and, by associating with them in any way, shape or form legitimizes that terrible precedent?

What if you're in the know and suspect that Sampson wasn't the entire problem, and that Indiana's athletic department has gone downhill fast? What if Indiana now skews more towards the corrupt teams of Kentucky and Michigan State? Why would he want to associate himself with, and give legitimacy to, something he opposes out of his own principle?

A man is entitled to feeling what he feels. Whining at his choices and trying to make it about someone else's nostalgia for the game accomplishes nothing. If the man refuses to give them the time of day, respect the fact that he knows why.

The reason might be right before your eyes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Where was that strike zone last night?

Here's a good example of some awful sports writing:
What if I told you the New York Yankees are ruining this World Series?

What if I said that Andy Pettitte has as many hits as Mark Teixeira?

Or that CC Sabathia has as many pitching wins as George Steinbrenner?

And yet, incredibly, the Yankees can close out this thing with a win Monday night. They can make the Philadelphia Phillies the ex-world champions. They can do what few, if any people predicted: beat the Phillies in phive.

That's how good these Yankees are. They improvise. Adapt. Overcome. Talk all you want about their $208 million payroll and their roll call of stars, but the Yankees are winning because of their hearts, not their bank accounts.

One night -- the first night of this World Series -- they were down 1-0. Now they're up 3-1 and on the brink of a long-awaited world title.

"That was sooooo awesome," gushed actress Kate Hudson as she walked toward the Yankees' clubhouse after Sunday evening's 7-4 victory.

Hudson and Alex Rodriguez are an item. But the real love affair is between Yankee fans and A-Rod's two-out, go-ahead RBI double in the top of the ninth off Phillies closer Brad Lidge. It was only his second hit of the series, but like his opposite-field home run of a night earlier, it was a crucial at-bat.

Who cares about Kate Hudson? Why is the girlfriend of one of the players even in this discussion?

How about telling it like it is--last night's game was stolen at home plate. The balls and strikes called last night elicited numerous double-takes from the players. A frustrated Jorge Posada went so far as to jaw about the balls and strikes called on him--and he went right back out there and caught for his own pitcher, no doubt knowing that he might have poisoned last night's relations with the home plate umpire. When catchers are complaining, something is wrong with the balls and strikes.

Fox Sports gets zero assistance and literally no useful analysis from Tim McCarver. Every time a close pitch registered as a strike on the graphic, McCarver was noticeably absent from proclaiming what most of us already knew--the game was called by an umpire who had a very questionable grasp on the strike zone last night.

Has sports writing degenerated this far? No one wants to talk about the game anymore when there are hotties in the stands? I love hotties. A little sports writing about sports now and then would be welcome.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hang it up, you worthless old hack

America's Worst Sportswriter, Mike Celizic, makes this tired, plaintive plea:
The Twins are quite a baseball team. So are the Rockies, the Phillies and the Angels. If baseball’s fondest wishes were granted, none of them will get to the World Series.

This isn’t a put-down of teams I enjoy watching. It’s merely a fact. Times are tough and baseball needs to put on a big show that will suck in fans from across the nation, pull attention away from the NFL, put up big ratings and remind everyone that this is still America’s pastime. It needs the kind of postseason match-ups that will make the game the center of conversation in offices and chat rooms and bars.

What it needs is the Yankees and the Dodgers in the World Series.

That would be the best, with Manny Be Manny and Uncle Joe Torre and A-Rod and Jee-tah on the field, a passel of A-list celebrities in the stands and squads of paparazzi at the exits eager to follow everybody into the night.

Yankees-Cardinals would be OK, as would Red Sox-Dodgers or Red Sox-Cards. Either one of those match-ups will at least get the attention of a nation that lives on celebrity and a familiar story line. Those are second-tier matches, but good ones.

And then, once baseball gets the great match-up, it needs a great series that goes the limit. No four-game sweeps. No five-game yawners. A seven-game barnburner full of thrills and chills and controversy.

This is a problem with baseball. The game rarely gets to showcase the thrill of a seventh-game, winner-take-all game. The NFL doesn’t have any other kind of playoff game; everything is one-and-done, so we can’t afford to ignore any of them. Baseball gets them just a couple of times a decade — if we’re lucky.

Of course, teams from other cities are just fodder for a bi-coastal bias espoused by idiots, aren't they? Except for the fact that the best baseball team in America is St. Louis, well, it all makes sense when you're a confused old man (I'm 65 and I'm no where near as mentally old as Celizic) trying to relive some hoary baseball nostalgia.

He says it isn't a put down, but what he really wants is for baseball to dispense with the Division and League series games, pick the Yankees and Dodgers to play in a fixed World Series, and then leave it at that. It's as if Celizic doesn't realize that the fans are there because the games aren't fixed, and that fixing the games is what drove people away at one time.

I never, ever gripe about who makes it to the championship game. It's about parity, sportsmanship, and giving the integrity of the game a chance to show us something new. A New York-Los Angeles World Series would be fine, but pining for it out of some misguided need to get ratings is antithetical to fair competition and the integrity of the sport. If those are the best teams, so be it. Whining about it is akin to showing everyone you've lost it as a writer, and that you should hang it up and spend the rest of your days howling out the window at some imaginary kid in a yard that you don't own.

How does MSNBC.COM continue to employ such a poor sports writer? It's a disgrace and an embarrassment. Celizic must have someone's personal sex diary or pictures taken with a telephoto lens stored in a lockbox somewhere, ready to bring out in case someone tries to fire his worthless rear end.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nuts Doesn't Work in the NBA

Continuing his descent into farce, madness and irrelevance, Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke throws the chessboard into the air and comes down on the side of praising the signing of Ron Artest with the Lakers.

Normally, phony outrage would be the order of the day. Or some lengthy screed about chemistry, and focus, and a misplaced metaphor featuring a concentrating Michael Jordan as a space wizard who finds his missing space paladin when Dennis Rodman falls from the sky in a magical jumping uniform with lots of feathers and bright colors. I didn't expect praise:
So did you hear the latest from my new best friend, Ron Artest?

Here I was, worried he would upset the Lakers' delicate championship chemistry, cause all sorts of ugly distractions, then he shows up for a promotional appearance in San Diego on Monday and the opposite happens.

Artest was so certifiably loony, he made me momentarily forget about the current Lakers crisis.

That being, of course, what sort of wedding gift does one buy Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian?

How about two sets of strong hands to shake them both while you shout, "What are you doing?"

Is there enough room under the Lakers' baskets for all the paparazzi? Does Vanessa Bryant really need the competition?

But back to Artest. My new best friend showed up in San Diego and made me scratch my head so hard I forgot all about Lamar and Whatshername.

We know Artest is crazy. But, it turns out, maybe it's a good crazy.

No, there's no good crazy in the NBA. Dennis Rodman wasn't crazy; Dennis Rodman acted crazy, looked crazy, but showed up every night knowing how to play the game of basketball. Ron Artest barely knows how to put on shoes.

In team sports, the bigger the team, the easier it is to absorb weirdos and freaks. Baseball and hockey teams are just the right size--they can absorb them for a while, but your various freaky-deaky players can't hide from management or the fans on those clubs, and so they're exposed and gotten rid of, as well they should. Football teams are big enough to absorb things like wide receievers and kickers. You can have those players on your team for years and never have to deal with them.

The NBA, being the only small team major sport that matters, features only a handful of roles. There is the man--and there can only be one, perhaps two if you're San Antonio or Boston. There are the players who start every night, and don't have to worry about not starting because they have guaranteed minutes, and those are the 2, 3, 4, and 5 slots on the team. Then there's the 6, 7, and 8 slots, and those are the players who live on the bubble, fighting for minutes. The 9, 10, and sometimes the 11 slots on the roster that are filled by players who are either coming up or leaving the league, usually by the end of the season. The 12th man on the roster is the charity case or the lone weirdo, or perhaps some foreign player no one can figure out how to deport. You can't hide a fraud on an NBA roster, even if you're playing in Memphis or Atlanta. There are too many good players out there who are scrambling to get into the league.

Los Angeles doesn't need Ron Artest. Ron Artest just hasn't figured out how to get himself kicked out of the NBA yet.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

So Fire Pete Carroll, Then

Success breeds a kind of insanity in sports. No matter how good you are, and no matter how far you bring a franchise, there will always be sports writers who cannot accept anything less than absolute dominance and success in a sport where you can count yourself lucky winning a national title once per generation:
USC's 16-13 loss at Washington would be shocking if stuff like this didn't happen so often after big wins over Ohio State.

Side note: As USC was returning home after "the Mistake by the Lake," the last school to defeat USC in a regular-season nonconference game, Kansas State, was playing UCLA at the Rose Bowl.

For you history buffs: USC lost at Kansas State, 27-20, on Sept. 21, 2002, three games deep into Coach Pete Carroll's second season.

The only out-of-league game the Trojans have lost since came against Texas in the 2005 season national championship game.

From 2002 to now, USC's failure to handle unranked Pacific 10 Conference opponents in the Carroll era has cost the Trojans possible national titles in 2006, 2007, 2008 and . . . 2009?

Six of USC's eight defeats in Pac-10 play since 2002 have come against unranked teams. The exceptions: Washington State was No. 17 when it won in 2002 and Oregon was No. 5 two years ago when it won in Eugene.

Somebody on a micro-blog summed it up by tweeting that USC needs to stop scheduling unranked opponents.

Of course, that would mean opting out of the Pac-10

The untimely defeats, plus one play in the Texas game, have cost USC the almost unthinkable opportunity to have won six consecutive national titles.

Oh, my heart breaks for you! As a Princeton Football supporter, I'm so heartbroken for poor USC.

Bill Plaschke writes it up like the clown he truly is:
After another one of those avoidable upset losses that now threaten to overtake his sparkling resume like a giant mustard stain, Carroll's accountability was admirable.

Everything else he did -- or didn't do -- plain stunk.

The Trojans lost to a 21-point underdog after leading by 10 points after two possessions.

The Trojans lost to a team with a rookie head coach that had just finished losing 15 straight games.

The Trojans lost their focus, their common sense and their cool in a game that seemed to strip Carroll of even his suntan.

"It's amazing, just amazing," said Huskies linebacker Donald Butler.

Don't blame this on the fact that USC was playing without starting quarterback Matt Barkley, because it still out-gained Washington.

Yes, fire Pete Carroll. Fire him, immediately. Everyone knows that when you only score 13 points, without your starting quarterback, the only thing that matters is yardage from the line of scrimmage, not actual points on the board, as a statistic measuring whether the team should have won. Pete Carroll is the devil, of course. He is worse than Hitler. He may well be Hitler, you see, and USC cannot risk having Hitler coach this team. He must be run out of USC on a rail. He must be banished from all things USC. He is clearly a loser, and anyone else that USC can get will obviously take the team to seven or eight uncontested national titles in a row.

Here's the absolute truth--a great football team got beaten. End of story. Happens all the time. Pete Carroll knows what he has to do to improve his team, and none of the sportswriters have an answer. They just have an ill-informed bitch.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mike Celizic Goes Off the Reservation

America's worst sportswriter, inexplicably writing on MSNBC.COM after being proven wrong and embarrassing himself on a daily basis since day one, tries to warn us that Tennessee-Florida is going to be a horrible game:
Is there still time to stop Lane Kiffin and the Tennessee Volunteers from going down to Florida this weekend? I mean before something happens that will make Serena Williams’ little tantrum look like a Barry Manilow concert?

The reason I say this is that the planets don’t seem to be favorably aligned for the volatile (that’s a nice word for ‘loose cannon’) Kiffin to be taking an inferior team down to play the man he spent the winter insulting, Gators coach Urban Meyer.

Normally, I’d say let him go and take an extra notebook to the game. But bad behavior is in the air, and I’m not sure we want to rely on a football coach — even one as upstanding as Meyer says he is — to keep his team from venting their spleen on Kiffin and the Vols, not after Kiffin committed the original playground sin of dissing the mighty Gators.

[I'll cut out the boring crap--jeez, how do you inject Serena Williams and Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech into a column about SEC football?]

This qualifies as an epidemic. And now we have two large groups of relatively unsophisticated kids who still believe being dissed is the greatest insult any person can absorb getting ready to play a game based on violence.

Oh, that wasn't racist, now was it? "Unsophisticated" kids? What, are they still eating cornbread and wearing half-buttoned coveralls with no shirt on underneath? Are they still working on the farm? Being "dissed" is the greatest insult? Show your playground smack talk appreciation colors much?

Celizic does both teams a great disservice--this is big time college football, and he treats these young men like the only thing separating them from pork and beans on a paper plate is the finger in their mouth. Do you know how smart you have to be to play football at that level? I'm not talking just book smart, I'm talking, playbook smart, practice smart, and being able to react quickly under duress smart. Where does he get the idea that two teams, playing Division I football in, arguably, the toughest football conference in the nation, are a bunch of "unsophisticated kids?" That strikes me as being as wrong as anything I've heard out of this clown and he should apologize to those kids for saying that.

Beyond that, Celizic, again, being America's Worst Sportswriter, forgets that there is one basic tenet of college football, and perhaps football as a whole, and that is, the zebras control the game. They control a game that is violent, that can end in tragedy, with a young man paralyzed or even, God forbid, dead, and with rare exception, they maintain that control because that is the only thing separating sportsmanship from chaos.

As soon as someone gets out of hand, the referees will throw someone out of the game in order to demonstrate their control of the situation. As soon as it appears that neither team is listening, the punitive and nit-picky calls are going to start and the laundry is coming out and someone is going to be backed up against their own goal line while looking up at the numbers spinning on the scoreboard. That's how a message will be delivered to both teams--we're in charge out here, coach, and you'd better get control of your fine young men.

Now, if Celizic thinks an Urban Meyer coached team is going to allow itself to break down and give up 21 points in the first quarter over personal fouls, roughing the passer penalties, and boneheadedness, fine--keep cashing those MSNBC.COM checks.

Lane Kiffin is only now realizing that you don't give your conference opponents bulletin board material. You don't act like a jackass in the SEC until you start winning on a regular basis, and even then, you only do that if you're trying to line up an NFL coaching gig.

This weekend could be a huge bust. Florida might collapse. Tennessee might lose by 28. Either way, don't dog on the kids playing the game.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Rolling Freak Show in Philly?

The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to shake things up in the NFC East. After picking up Michael Vick, and indicating that the team may use both players at the same time on offense, there's an indication that they may be looking to add another element to the mix:

Donovan McNabb lobbied for the Eagles to sign Michael Vick. Could Plaxico Burress be next? It's highly unlikely, but McNabb joked yesterday about urging the team to sign [Plaxico] Burress the same way he did with Vick.

Given that the Eagles held it pretty close to the vest with Vick, signing Burress would be a good thing. Oh, sure--you have your scolds out there who claim that there is a thing called "team chemistry."

In the NFL, there is no such thing as "team chemistry." The special teams, offense and defense are all separate squads within the organization. Those squads are broken down into units, like offensive and defensive lines, the backfield, etc. Because of substitutions, injuries, the practice squad, and picking people up off waivers or in trades, these units are a revolving door of personnel. Either the quarterback has his timing down with his receivers or he does not. Good coaches know how to fix that quickly--bad coaches let the players look like clowns on the field. There is no chemistry involved--there is practice and coaching involved. Lazy sportswriters intone, with as much phony outrage as they can muster, "is the chemistry so bad on the home team that they may end up dwelling in the cellar for the next five years?!?"

With such disparity between the groups, and with natural frictions and animosities over who gets credit for wins and blame for losses, there is always this phony veneer of "chemistry" that is cited when discussing who is a "cancer" and who is a "leader" on a football team. This is fodder for the lazy sports press when things go south for a team. This is used to cover up the fact that the offensive coordinator is lost and cannot connect with his players and give them winning formations and plays. Lazy sportswriters don't bother trying to find out if the coaches are competent. They don't bother going down to watch the practices, which are either tightly run affairs or screaming matches between guys who know they're going to be out of a job in January and guys who figure that if the coach doesn't start coaching, they're going to be playing alongside T.O. up in Buffalo and there's no way I'm leaving Miami or Atlanta to go up to no dag-gone Buffalo. Lazy sportswriters write about superfluous things, such as, "can Coach Joe Blow overcome the devastating loss of his pet parakeet and find a way to beat Dallas on the road?!?"

Suddenly, when a team turns it around, chemistry is forgotten. Players still hate one another, but they're now being coached in a way that more than adequately allows them to overcome timing and mental issues. The difference between winning and losing can come down to a split second of timing, which is translated into being able to hit a receiver with a pass he can catch in a part of the field where he already knows he must be in and is willing to do anything to be there. Lazy sports writers then decide to tackle the issue of chemistry as a negative--is there so much good chemistry on this team that one injury or one loss to free agency could doom the home team to oblivion?!?

Signing Plaxico Burress creates a headache for any team that has to play the Eagles. You have an untested, but likely still explosively fast, Michael Vick, and you have Donovan McNabb ready to win at all costs. Lazy sportswriters have two pieces ready--the collapse piece and the bandwagon piece. If there's a collapse, they'll put it down to signing a "cancer." If the team is rolling to victory, the bandwagon piece will intone, "it sure was smart to ignore a little thing called team chemistry and sign that fellow who was such a cancer on his old team, wasn't it, and aren't I as smart as Mike Lupica for pointing it out to you slackjawed cretins?!?"

No one asks the question--what about AJ Feely? What do the Eagles do with him now?