Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Two Books of Alex Rodriguez

If there is one big secret amongst writers, this is it: we don't like to work. We wanted to be writers so we didn't have to get a real job. So naturally, your common sports writer will take the easiest road possible, not the one less traveled. We claim our predictions before research, trying to find stats that backup our words. We write books before the ending is clear.

This is basically what Alex Rodriguez's public career has become. If you were to write his biography now, it would be summed up like this: great regular season, horrible postseason. Writers who feel they are clever would say the "A" in A-Rod stands for April.

But the 2009 postseason has changed things. Rodriguez has been Jeter-esque in his clutchness. He has carried the Yankees to the World Series. And this does not sit well with the sports media.

You see, these lazy sports writers have already written the book. It's a very nice strategy. Usually, what you see is what you get, and there is no need to imagine that things might change. But things have changed for A-Rod. He is no longer the wannabe Derek Jeter who can't perform in the clutch. He has rewritten his career. He has caused change.

Writers hate this.

Believe me, every non-Yankees fan will want the Phillies to win, not just because they loathe the Bronx Bombers, either. They also want A-Rod to fail, to fulfill the destiny they themselves have already written about. Because if Rodriguez were to carry the Yanks to the title, maybe even win World Series MVP, they would have to admit to being wrong. The book of A-Rod would have to be rewritten. That does not set well with writers.

To quote Mark Twain: "The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say". Most writers have already finished what has not really begun. Let's wait and see, shall we? Perhaps A-Rod can write the another book, or at least another chapter. It will probably be more interesting than what you read in the papers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Free Speech For The Dumb

Damn it all. I'm going to talk about Rush Limbaugh again.

As we all know by now, Rush has been cut by Dave Checketts' group bidding to buy the St. Louis Rams. Hey, it was bound to happen. Joining this news in the "completely obvious" department was the inevitable Limbaugh quotes that followed.

You know, that this was "Obama's America on full display". What does that even mean? To me, it means one thing: that Obama is all about that free market, baby.

Which should make Rush happy. I mean, is there anybody who is more pro-free market than Rush Limbaugh? Because that is what happened here. Checketts & Co. decided that for them to make money, they would have to drop from their bid what consumers had deemed undesirable. It may not be right, it may not be the smart move. Rush could have a genius football mind, for all we know. But the market dictated the move.

But forget quotes like "The hatred that exists in this is found in the sportswriter community, it's found in the news business, it's found in the race hustler business". It doesn't really matter anyways. Rush lovers will still love Rush. Like guys who love the band Rush. They, sadly, will never change.

And more importantly, neither will the NFL. I am constantly amazed how powerful this organization is. Limbaugh would have come out victorious if this was the political world, by either gaining the bid or looking like a martyr. In the NFL? Roger Goodell got rid of this story without a chink in the NFL shield. It's impressive really.

Think about it. Football has no steroid scandals. Baseball has been ruined by it. The NBA's biggest concern is the thuggish perception of its players. The NFL has Pacman, Donte' and Vick, and still goes on without a hitch. It's not like the product is that good, either. The game itself has been in steady decline with all of the bad officiating, lack of parity, stupid rules, etc. But the league still cannot be touched.

Goodell could be a Rush supporter (and I would bet on it), but no one, and I mean no one, challenges the shield. Being an owner is a privilege, even if you're on the right.

Limbaugh may have half the country on his side, but it doesn't matter. Nobody is bigger than the NFL. So slam the league, slam the critics. You have that right. Don't plan it meaning anything, though, because at the end of the day, sports is about winning, not politics. Stats are more important than opinions. And boy, is that refreshing right now. You know, in "Obama's America".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big Brother, Where Art Thou?

Game Two between the Twins and Yankees had fantastic drama. A-Rod gets the monkey off his back and ties the game in the ninth. Mark Teixeira hits the game-winner in the bottom of the 11th. Baseball should be loving this, right? Unfortunately, at the top of the 11th, Joe Mauer's double that was called foul left a big black mark on the series. As have some questionable calls at first, and the strike zones which seem to have no consistency at all. The game is too big for this, too much money and passion is involved. Things needs to change.

Convincing the good ol' boys of baseball to install instant replay for home runs was like trying to convince Glenn Beck that Obama doesn't sneak out of the White House at night to eat children. Met with way too much resistance, Bud Selig and the gang made it seem nearly impossible that any other type of replay could be used. Yes, we all want it, but if getting the home run calls took that much effort, what will we have to do to get instant replay for foul balls and safe calls?

Two arguments go into the mindset of keeping the game where it is. One is that instant replay slows down the game. Well, here's a secret: people that think baseball is too slow do not watch baseball. When is the last time you heard someone say, "I love the Mets, but if these games start going an extra ten minutes longer, I'm out"? So let's put that to rest, it is a non-issue.

The second case is to protect the "human element" of the game. As if it's somewhat charming to have umpires who blow calls like Lindsey Lohan blows lines. Give me a break. Does anyone outside of the game actually care about this? I propose something different, something radical.

How about every call is booth reviewed? Every ball, every strike, every close call. If TBS can install a strike zone during its telecast, why can't the MLB? It's easy: someone upstairs watches the pitch using the boxed strike zone, hits a button that signals a remote to the home plate umpire (like where the little box used to keep track of balls and strikes would be), and then the ump signals ball or strike. There would be a one second delay for every call, which would be virtually undetectable. Hell, you could do it right now without telling anybody and not one fan could tell the difference.

With fair or foul calls, and calls at the bases, let the umps do their thing. There is ample time in between the call and the next pitch for someone in the booth the review it. If the call is wrong, they can just buzz the umpire. It would add what, one minute to each game? So be it. You know what makes games long? Managers coming out to bitch about bad calls. You think Lou Piniella would come out and argue with the ump if he wasn't the one who made the decision? There would be nobody to yell at. Nothing would be disputable.

Somebody tell me how this would not work. I'm curious. The game would change, yes, but times have changed. Baseball is no longer a past time, it is a billion dollar business. It's time to get things right.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Vote for Rush!

When I first heard that Rush Limbaugh was trying to become part owner of the St. Louis Rams, the first thing I thought was the same thing about half this country thought: hell no. First off, let me make clear that this is not really political. I don't care about left/right qualms. Limbaugh is 51% insane, 49% opportunist. This is not debatable. Anyone who listens to him for anything more than entertainment value should have their voting rights revoked, and probably should not be allowed to breed. And no, I am not a Democrat nor have I ever voted for one. This isn't about beliefs, it's about somebody who could rival Jerry Jones as the craziest owner in the league. And nothing but good could come of it.

Think about it. If you are a Rush fan, then first, bang your head against the wall one thousand times. Okay, now hear me out. Imagine an all-white, all-Christian NFL team. It works out perfectly, since the Rams will more than likely have the first pick in the draft, and yes, Tim Tebow is your man. I mean, is there any other choice? Start new. Imagine the Edward Jones Dome looking like this. You can prove to the world your superiority, trading for Kevin Curtis, Brian Urlacher, whoever. And you could get them easily by trading your best black players (see, the joke's on them; everyone knows black players are only worth 25% of the white players in a trade!). It will show the country, nay, the world, that your beliefs are right.


What will really happen. He becomes part owner. 95% of black free agents refuse to sign with the Rams, which is significant, because the Rams are awful. Possibly the first black rookie they draft pulls a Crabtree. Everything goes along as normal, until the first time Rush opens his mouth and says something blatantly racist. Players start to speak out. Advertisers gets nervous, pull out their spots, and King Goodell lowers his hand and with one fell swoop, knocks Rush back into radio. Let me ask you Limbaugh haters, or as I like to call them, the "educated": wouldn't this be the best case scenario. His dribble wouldn't just be heard by Fox News supporters and abortion clinic bombers; it would be heard by the entire NFL audience. Rush's biggest advantage is that he preaches to the choir. Now he can't choose his listeners, and we all remember the Donovan McNabb fiasco...

I know conservatives are going to read this and get pissed. Fine. Feel free to hit the tiny little X on the top right of your screen. Because there's something telling that players have come out against Rush, and none have come out for him. There's merit in the fact that SportsNation's Michelle Beadle had the most obvious look of disgust on her face with the mere mention of his name (and ESPN isn't the most liberal network on the planet). It means something when this is even an issue. Rush Limbaugh isn't even controversial anymore. He draws the line. It's a line between the sane and insane. You can't come out in a neutral setting for him without getting blasted, and there's a reason behind that.

So I welcome Rush into the NFL. I will enjoy seeing him show his true colors. Guess what color that is.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Just Say No... To The Olympics

You'll have to excuse me, because this column is more political than sports related, but the Olympics are technically sports. Well, some of it. And President Obama has been taking a lot of heat about his campaign to get the 2016 Games in Chicago. Not just from the usual suspects - Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. - but from the sports community and really, the entire country. Nobody seems to want the Games here, which is a good thing. No, a great thing.

After a failed war, a failed economy and failed health care reform, people seem to care a lot more about real issues than puffing out their patriotic chests. We don't want our politicians, let alone the President, wasting time trying to host a bunch of pseudo-sports. We're no longer interested in being the center of attention, because let's face it, we're not that attractive anymore. If America was Britney Spears, then we have moved from Schoolgirl Britney to Shaved Head White Trash Britney. We need time to grow our hair back, check into rehab and lose some weight before we thrust ourselves back into the limelight.

I understand too that the Games aren't for another seven years. We could use it as motivation, like signing up at a gym for an entire year in advance; we made the commitment, so we're now forced to make some changes. But really, do we need any more motivation? If the past decade can't bring along the changes we need, then nothing will. Not even table tennis.

So I applaud America. Somewhere along the way, the people have stopped caring so much about appearing to be #1, and started to care more about actually being #1. It is now a time to retreat, a time of reflection. Bring the troops home, maybe on their way they can swing by and pick up Obama. Let's concentrate on ourselves for once, and not what everyone else in the world thinks about us. Let this one go. Maybe when we get back on our feet, we can put in another bid, and be truly proud to show the world what we are all about. Which we don't really need, because this new American attitude says a lot more than any Olympics ever could.
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