Sunday, May 23, 2010

Enough of journalism!

Joe Starkey's had enough of people writing about Ben Roethlisberger. So he wrote an article about it.

Enough with the Ben Roethlisberger stories.

Spoiler alert: the rest of this column is going to have nothing to do with a certain disgraced QB.

Every time I turn around, somebody's telling me about the day Ben supposedly did this or the night Ben supposedly did that.


I was lying about that spoiler.

It has become as irritating as the redhead's never-ending tales in "American Pie."

"This one time, at Ben camp ..."


Since March 11th, Joe Starkey, the Trib's hockey columnist, has written four "Ben Camp" articles. John Harris, the football-ish columnist has popped out five.

It's a classic example of "heard" behavior -- as in, "I heard Ben yelled at a Giant Eagle checkout clerk five years ago." Piggybacking on legitimate accounts of Roethlisberger's boorish behavior, people are liable to tell you anything.

This in itself doesn't make Joe Starkey a hack. The fact that he piles on, both sarcastically, and then with about 150 more words in earnest -- that's what makes Joe Starkey a hack. Here comes the sarcasm.

Ben triggered the stock-market meltdown.

Ben caused the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Ben played goal for the Penguins in Game 7.

Enough!


You're right! Talk about sports. The NFL draft. The NHL playoffs. The Pirates shockingly decent level of sub-.500 play.

How about we let the recent Sports Illustrated cover piece serve as the last Big Ben expose we see for a while? It contained enough anecdotes to last at least through the bye week.


JOE STARKEY: Time to write an article.
JOE STARKEY'S BRAIN: Too hard.
JOE STARKEY: Then can we slam someone else for writing an article?
JOE STARKEY'S BRAIN: Only if we can simultaneously plug it as a good read.
JOE STARKEY: Now that's gournalism!

(I'm guessing the cover shot -- a scruffy Roethlisberger pictured under the headline "The Hangover" -- won't be framed for Big Ben's man cave anytime soon.)

(Irrelevant cheap shot in parenthesis heyo!)

The story filled in the rest of the country on what a lot of us already knew:


And chose, quite deliberately not to report. We are only gournalists, after all.

Roethlisberger often has behaved like an arrogant jerk during his six years as Steelers quarterback. That doesn't mean he committed any crimes. It just means he turned off a significant portion of the locker room and fan base, despite his mostly brilliant play.

"Enough about Santonio Holmes!" is what he meant to title this article, but you know how editors always screw shit up.

Imagine if he were coming off a poor season.

Like in 2006? Where were all the "Ben's a piggishly bad teammate" think pieces back then?

Here's my well reasoned guess: You're a schmuck among schmucks who doesn't actually have the chops to get a good scoop, nor the balls to publish one if you do. In fact, the only time your ilk comes out of the woodwork is when we're in the dead horse phase.

And here we are.

I think it's a good thing Roethlisberger was exposed (resist punch line)

Couldn't actually figure out how to work one in.

over the past few months. If he isn't jarred into some form of humility by such a massive backlash -- on the heels of a second sexual assault allegation within a year -- then nothing will work.

ENOUGH ABOUT SANTONIO!

What's amazing is that it took so long for stories of his ill-mannered ways to reach print.

Oh man, it's almost like no one was doing their job, right?

I never broached the matter, because I did not have on-the-record sources.


But, I am willing to cite this huge dickbag who probably didn't have the sources either. Stay tuned.

A few weeks ago, I looked to see whether anything had been written on the topic from Roethlisberger's early years. I finally came across a piece in the Pittsburgh City Paper, for which local radio host Mark Madden deserves immense credit.

For you kids out there: referencing Mark Madden in an academic paper is grounds for dismissal from most institutions of higher learning.

Madden, it seems, was the first media person to suggest Roethlisberger might not be the humble guy he seemed to be.


Citing Mark Madden basically says you tried looking, but couldn't find the right Kid Rock lyrics for the occasion.

In a column titled "Is Ben getting too big for his britches?" that was published late in Roethlisberger's rookie year, Madden wrote of how "tales flow freely about Roethlisberger's ego growing proportionately to his accomplishments."

Again, this is the same Joe Starkey that was afraid to print shit without it being verified by legit sources.

What sorts of tales?

Unverified sorts.

Wrote Madden: "Roethlisberger snubbed the Pirates' Jason Bay, pointedly ignoring (Bay) when he came to Steelers headquarters for a Pirates-requested photo op. Chukky Okobi openly accused Roethlisberger, once a close friend, of 'big-timing' him since becoming a star. Roethlisberger berated a Steelers PR type for allowing a TV interview to run over the agreed-upon five minutes. Jerome Bettis told a reporter that the Steelers 'have some young guys who don't know what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler.' His eyes were fixed on Roethlisberger. All of these incidents were witnessed. None are mere rumor."

Yeah, you can't have a rumor about a dude fixing his eyes on someone. That shit DEMANDS witnesses.

Then came a warning:

Was it "don't be a fuck or else you'll get fired!"? Couldn't have been.

"Maybe you can't blame the kid for having a swelled cranium," Madden wrote. "He's just 22, and he's having perhaps the best season of any rookie in any sport ever. But it's the sort of thing the Steelers need to keep in check while it can still be controlled."

KILL TED KENNEDY!

Whoops. That check bounced.

JOE STARKEY: Check.
Check.
!
Get it?
...Bounced!
JOE STARKEY'S BRAIN: I get it.

Five years later, credible sources are going on the record to speak of Roethlisberger's chronically appalling behavior.

Okay, so they weren't credible five years ago. You don't like using non-credible sources. But you just used a source from five years ago that wasn't credible?

That's quibble number one.

Quibble number two:

Just because people are piling on now doesn't mean they're at all credible.

Mark Baranowski, owner of The Cabana Bar in Wexford, spoke to SI, then appeared on my radio show on 93.7 "The Fan."

Not credible unless they appear on Joe Starkey's drive-time show.

"I know a lot of people in Pittsburgh, and (Roethlisberger) just treats everybody like crap," Baranowski said. "He doesn't respect anybody. Ben just feels like the city of Pittsburgh owes him, whether he goes to a golf course, a bar, a restaurant, a charity basketball game. I mean, it's story after story after story."

As I've always said, you can't spell "CREDIBILITY" without "BARANOWSKI."

Fair enough, Mark -- and kudos for having the courage to say as much in a town where folks take their football very seriously.

But??

But????

Why are you backing off from Mark fucking Baranowski?? All he did was come on your radio show and diss a dude with unverifiable information that doesn't shed any new light on the subject. HE is YOU. Don't leave him out to dry!

But enough with the stories for now.

You backed off.

Let's see if Roethlisberger can write a new one.

And then you hinted at the think-piece that could have been.

My Contribution To The Endless Nonsense That Is Major-College Expansion Talk

Are there any fellow Pitt fans out there who think 1) Pitt to the Big Ten won't happen, and 2) they are less-than-psyched about the idea of playing alot of games against Indiana and Minnesota and Iowa, and 3) they simply long for the day when the Big East of the 1990's, that Ed Reed and Michael Vick and Amos Zereoue shit-talking, underrated, if slightly disjointed and undersized football conference, would get the old gang back together? I'm here to say there is a (realistic) scenario where this just might happen. The only catch is, it would be known as "The ACC North". Here is my four-part scenario (considerately organized by me to make this seem like something slightly less than the rantings of a lunatic):

Part 1- The Big Ten takes Nebraska, Mizzou, and Rutgers. This is the most likely scenario, IMO. I can't see the Big 10 going all the way to 16 (it's just too radically different, it would dilute the product, and they could still get the television "footprint" they want with these three). Also, it leaves the door open in the future with two spots for ND or Texas (unlike the above-mentioned three, neither needs to rush anything, they will always have plentiful options), or even Oklahoma, or whoever else catches the Big Fourteen's collective fancy in the future.

Part 2- The SEC will not sit still once the Big Ten expands. And it will devolve into a pissing contest pretty quick (as everyone knows, that's how they do business in the South). I imagine the SEC will want Texas also, but I don't see the Longhorns budging (hell, they could go independent easier than ND with their massive following). My guess is Oklahoma, OK St, Florida St., Clemson, and Georgia Tech being legit targets for the SEC, and I could honestly see the ACC, in the ultimate irony of ironies, getting raided less than a decade after being the raiders. Florida St. and Clemson are the two names I have heard the most, so let's go with those two from the ACC to the SEC(realistic, IMO).

Part 3- The ACC now only has 10 teams, and obviously needs to reload. So where do they look? Once again, the Big East. At this point, the clear trend is that leagues will be on their way to 16 teams. Having no legitimate chance to sway a super-program in the mold of Texas, ND, or Florida, the 10-team ACC decides to reload and "fill its dance card" so to speak, as there will be no motivation to hold open any spots (as the Big 1(14)0 does in Part 1, or even the SEC would). ND to the ACC is not realistic. Why hold open a spot for a program that will never bite? Instead, make the best grab you can right now.

Part 4- The ACC makes its move to be the all-encompassing East Coast conference. I'm not sure if it would qualify as an expansion or a merger, but basically at this point they graft six Big East teams onto the ACC.

-Pitt
-Syracuse
-West Virginia
-UConn
-South Florida
-Louisville

I have read any Big East team leaving would need to pay $5 million in cash and give 27 months notice. However, with this type of disbanding/merger/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, it's likely an arrangement could be made to pay a lump sum to the only team left off the merry-go-round (in this case, Cincy), and the basketball-only teams (perhaps $15 million and one years notice from the above six?). With this type of mass exodus, a settlement benefits both sides (what type of leverage would Providence or DePaul have at this point of the leaguewide apocolypse? Wouldn't Cincy be better off finding a new home and while getting a nice golden parachute, as opposed to delaying the inevitable for nearly three years and doing nothing?).

Adding these teams would serve some important purposes for an ACC losing FSU and Clemson.
*It adds some football "thump". No, there are no Nebraska's or Penn State's in the group, but WVU, Pitt, and Louisville have had some recent success (especially the 'Eers), Syracuse is a once-historic power, and UConn and USF have made great stides in a short time. They have both become legit Top-35ish programs in less than a decade, quite an accomplishment when you think about it.
*It solidifies and adds "markets". Syracuse and UConn would give the ACC as much a foothold in NYC as the Big 1(14)0 would have with RU (more, IMO), USF adds Tampa and keeps the league status quo with two Florida programs, Pitt adds a whole new good-sized market, and WVU adds a rabid fanbase, and a whole state.
*It restores the ACC as THE hoops league in the country. UConn-Louisville-Cuse-Pitt-WVU are premiere, top-flight programs. Combining these five with the existing ACC (minus FSU/Clemson), and the league becomes unreal. If "The ACC Network" is the ultimate progression in all of this, that is alot of good programing.
*Renewed enthusiam in the existing Big East programs, with a pretty natural North/South split of the league (as oppossed to alot of geographic and political difficulty in splitting up the future Big Fourteen). And there are some built in rivalies (Pitt/VT and WVU/Maryland coming directly to mind) to boot.

The split:
NORTH: Pitt, WVU, UConn, Syracuse, BC, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Virginia
SOUTH: Miami, GT, USF, UNC, NC St., Duke, Wake Forest, Louisville

The North would essentially be the long-mythical Eastern Conference minus PSU, Rutgers, and Temple, with VT and UVA instead (PSU is essential to have a definitive Eastern Conference, but VT and to a lesser extent UVA are very nice consolation prizes. No Rutgers? I'll get over it). The South would make geographic sense. Competively, the North looks a little tougher football-wise, but it is pretty balanced, all things considered.

Are there problems and unlikely-hoods in this scenario? Sure. The ACC was once pretty conservative, and the disappointments of the last round of expansion probably renewed some of that lost restraint. I have just given a most extreme would-be scenario, but "some of this" is alot more likely than "none of this" to occur in the next five years, IMO.

The irony if this did occur? The ACC raid of the beginning of the 2000's would have inadvertantly set into motion the then-existing 1990's Big East ultimately raiding the then-existing 1990's ACC in slightly more than a decade. The above-described "newer ACC" would have nine programs which could be associated as the "Big East", and only seven programs which could be associated solely as the "ACC". Whatever you would call this above-creation of my imagination (though I would say it is based on alot of reality), it would be just as appropriate to call it the New Big East as the New ACC. I'm sure this is not what John Swafford had in mind.

Would the North Carolina blue-bloods go for this? Would they have a choice? Doing nothing could quickly lead to new "partners" Miami (SEC) and BC (Big Ten) bolting for greener pastures. Loyalty is a funny thing. Could they afford to wait? Dr. Frankenstein (John Swafford) could very well be bent over a barrel by the monster he created.

While it couldn't negotiate any contracts as rich as the New Big Ten or the New SEC, this ACC would still have alot of qualities. Basically, it would have a strong footprint from BC/New England to NYC, over to Pittsburgh/West Virginia, down the Appalachians controlling all of Virginia, back over to DC, down to a monopoly of NC, and further south through Atlanta, Tampa, and Miami. That's alot of population, fans, and television sets. It would be a hoops juggernaut (think of just the new rivalries... Duke/UConn, Louisville/North Carolina, Pitt/Maryland, WVU/UVA, Syracuse/NC St). It would rekindle old Big East rivalries for VT/BC/Miami. It makes geographic sense (I don't have a map handy, but the longest inter-division trip would be something like BC-VT and Miami-Louisville, and most inter-division games would easily be in driving distance).

It would be a league where just about EVERY team could dream of winning. Competition is nothing to over-estimate as a fan. I don't look at any team (outside of Duke) in the above scenario and think "Oh, they could never win the conference". I don't know if I can say the same for the Super-Duber Big 10 or SEC. Could Vandy or Rutgers or Northwestern or Minnesota or Kentucky or Indiana, or even Clemson or Purdue, ever win those leagues, or even compete consistently at the highest level? I could see Pitt winning the Big Sixteen about every 25 to 30 years on average. I could see them winning this ACC every 10 to 15 years. It's a home that all Pitt programs could live in and prosper. The Big Ten and all it's millions just wouldn't be as fun (playing PSU aside).

This is all speculation. But, some of it might come true anyways.

Your attention please

Baseball-reference.com now features player headshots, as well as WAR numbers.

How are they not owned by google, yet?

Friday, May 14, 2010

How Cleveland Failed LeBron

Okay, so I like LeBron.

And today, I have to sit and listen to a million people tell me how he's a bum, how he's got crappy intangibles, how he's not Michael Jordan. That commentary would be bearable if it were based in anything other than idiocy, but it won't be.

I watched a lot of the Celtics series. Partly because I like LeBron, partly because I'm one of the few people I know who watches a lot of pro basketball, mostly because I wanted to see what would happen. And I saw what I expected to see for most of the series: Despite some moments of brilliance, the best player on the floor could not singlehandedly outplay the next best five.

"But it's basketball!" cry Skip Bayless and Jay Mariotti, "In basketball, one player can win all by himself. MICHAEL JORDAN!!!!11@!!Q!!!"

Which, is, of course, wrong. It's like when morons in baseball blamed Alex Rodriguez for losing, when the problem was that the Yankees' pitching staff sucked. Kobe won squat until he got Gasol and Bynum. Jordan never won without Pip and his squad of sidekicks. Garnett never won until he got Pierce and Allen. You can do this forever, and it holds up (with the possible exception of Tim Duncan, though he still had a team crafted to play around him and an all-time great coach).

On the Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Spurs, Hawks and arguably Suns, Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison would be the fifth or sixth best players on the floor. All season, I've been watching and hoping that the hype the Cavs brass was selling was justified, and it's not. And if I can see that from TV, LeBron saw it in every game he played. In Game Five, it finally became too much, and I think LeBron looked around and realized this was what he was going to get if he stayed in Cleveland. So he became discouraged. Kobe did this against the Suns a few years ago, back when he was failing to win the championship every year, and the various commentators were ripping him daily. Of course, now that he got better teammates, he's a champion, and no one remembers that. When Kobe became disengaged, there was a summer of drama, followed by reconciliation and the promise of better players for him by the owner. LeBron's owner ripped his star player's effort, and while it might not have been inaccurate, it also wasn't bright.

The problem isn't that LeBron didn't care. Well, it's obviously a problem that he got discouraged. But the reason he was discouraged is that he's played for seven years with guys like Donyell Marshall and Eric Snow and Boobie Gibson. Those are all nice players in their own way, and guys like that need to be on a championship team, but they can't be cornerstones. That is a result of the owner's effort, not LeBron's. Doing that results in losses to good teams, regardless of effort. Last night, in the words of one of the reporters at the game, "They played hard, they just didn't play well."

Last night, as I watched Cleveland try to mount a comeback, I saw LeBron jump over a double-team and pass it to a wide-open Ghost Shaq under the basket. Shaq missed the layup. Then, I saw LeBron come down the court, run down the sideline, and pass it to the lane where he expected someone to be as the defense collapsed on him. There was no one there, and it was his 9th turnover. I know there are some "analysts" who lack the capacity to see what is not there as a real problem, but those two missed baskets were not the fault of a star who didn't inspire Anderson Varejao to become Moses Malone. They were the result of an owner who did not see the need for a reliable player in the middle.

What's particularly frustrating about this is that I've seen it happen before. Allen Iverson was dedicated to Philadelphia, and stayed there for his whole healthy career. In his prime, he was the most unguardable guy in the league. And the Sixers brass decided, hey, we've got a great player, why spend some money for another? So the best player Iverson ever played with was the reanimated body of Dikembe Mutumbo. He got them to the NBA finals with Eric Snow as the second scoring option, and to this day there are idiots who say he wasn't a "winner."

As Pirates fans, we at FTC know what bad management looks like. We know it can take the form of disinterest, of penny-pinching, or of throwing big money at Derek Bell. But one of the worst forms is acting like good luck (via a draft pick) should be enough to entitle you to a championship. Cleveland bills itself as a notoriously unluckly city, sports-wise. Well, the Cavs are not. It got a once-in-a-generation talent via the draft, and had him for seven years. It's the luckiest fucking place on Earth. But it surrounded that talent with B and C players and spent lots of time trying to guilt-trip him into staying in a minor media market, when all the owner had to do was make one of the trades or signings that Orlando, Boston, LA or Dallas has made in the past year. Instead, we'll now hear lots of whining as he prepares to leave for a city that might someday give him the talent to win championships.

BOLD PREDICTION: In the next five years, LeBron will win a title somewhere else, and no one will remember any of the bitching they did about him in Cleveland.

Oh, and could we stop treating Michael Jordan like he's the holy grail of sportsmanship? The guy is an inveterate gambler and philander who retired three times, was a crappy executive, and never took a stand on anything that could cost him money. Yes, he was a good shooting guard at both ends of the floor, but he never won anything without a massive supporting cast and the best big-talent coach in history. There are those of us more impressed by the accomplishments of Magic Johnson, who made everyone around him better, or Charles Barkley, who played a big man's position at two inches shorter than the Shoe Man. If you want to say that the current star you don't like is "no [insert name here]" to convince us that sports was better years ago, let's just use Bill Russell.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Answering the question no one cared about...

Fuck Cleveland.

Fuck basketball.

Fuck LeBron James.

But just so we're covering this... the next few months are going to be dominated by talk of James going to Chicago; not New York.

I'm not even saying he's going to Chicago. I'm saying the talk of him going to Chicago is going to get to the point where you'll try to kill yourself with a cigarette lighter.

Here's why:

1) Nike rules the world of top-tier athletes and agents. LeBron James' retail value goes up if he's in a big market, and it goes down if he doesn't win a championship. Cleveland is not a quality market, but it's been a legit contender in the last four years. New York is a great market but it's completely gutted of talent, and would require at least three years to even look competitive in the playoffs. Chicago is a quality market, and almost put Cleveland on tilt this year in round one. If writers want to talk marketing conspiracy theories, they'll look to Chi-town.

2) The way the NBA salary cap works is kind of solid: no team can exceed the cap in their initial offer to a player they don't already control, but they may exceed the cap when they're extending a contract which outbids an outside offer. Cleveland is at the limit of their cap because they have both LeBron and Shaq. But! they can retain them indefinitely. However, they can't bring in outside talent. New York has NO ONE on their payroll, so they could afford at least two A+ talents. This free agency class has, perhaps, three or four blue chip players in it, so best case scenario has New York or another gutted team walking away with two of them. This is best case scenario and not actually a lock-down reality. Chicago has enough cap room for a top-tier guy, and a complimentary player, and, unlike Cleveland or New York, already has a developed A+ man, in 21-year-old point guard, Derrick Rose.

3) John Calipari is this dick who won some championships as a coach at the college level. Why is he a dick? Not because he strangles his players , but because he walks out on contracts, and brings with him all his prior recruits. He also kind of cheats. His most recent scandal was sneaking Derrick Rose (the same one who plays for the Bulls) onto Memphis State's roster, despite the fact that Rose couldn't come close to the NCAA minimum on standardized testing (Memphis State ended up being retrospectively stripped of the championship Calipari and Rose won, on account of the scheme). Anyway, he's actually a pretty good coach, and his system would be ideal for someone like LeBron James. He also shares the same agent as James and is a personal friend. Furthermore, he's rumored to be in talks with Chicago and New York, despite being under contract. Two nights ago, he sat court-side, watching LeBron, between their agent, and Dan Gilbert, the Cavs' owner. Gilbert would not be entertaining a guest like this unless he perceived him as a legitimate future-partner for LeBron. While I see it being entirely likely that Cleveland could land him, I see the media connecting Calipari-LeBron to Rose in Chicago.

4) The number 23. LeBron James currently wears it. He has gone on record as saying no one should wear it in honor of Michael Jordan, and that he'll be wearing number 6 next year. Actually, he had to go a step further than that, and file papers with the league to change his number in the case that he stays with Cleveland. This I take to be a ploy by Nike: if the Cleveland market is saturated on a product, then reinvent the product. Simple as that. I actually don't think there's anything more to it than that, but sportswriters will soon be connecting the dots, that LeBron's interest in wearing not-23 has to do with his interest in playing somewhere where 23 isn't available.

5) A lot of people say LeBron wants to go to New York because he loves New York and his celebrity friends are there. That's true... New York is a great fucking place to be if you're rich, young and awesome. But so is Chicago, and for as much as LeBron gets sentimental about Madison Square Garden and the New York Yankees, he's always said his favorite team was the Bulls.

Big name coach, big market, top-tier teammate, and franchise prestige... expect these dots to be connected. Over. And over. And over again. Expect this shit to be shoved down your throat by everyone. Despite the fact that you haven't lived anywhere near a basketball since DeJuan Blair declared. Expect LeBron mania, everywhere... except on this blog.

Never again.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday with Franco

What's happening in sports? Anything?

In baseball...

Yesterday morning the Pirates had an Pythagorean expected W-L of 6-21 with an actual record of 12-15. After the beat down Randy Wells gave himself last night, our Pythag has moved to 8-20, with our actual record standing at 13-15. Obviously our theoretical mark is still feeling the effects of the 0-20 and 3-17 nights, and is probably a little stingier than we deserve. Make no bones about it though, we're a shit ball club that at any moment, could get creamed. The fact that we're out performing our old enemy, Math... well, that won't last forever. We'll look into this again next week.

In other news: Andy LaRoche? Dude may actually be coming out of his shell? Is it possible? Throughout his career he's shown a baseline ability to take a walk, as well as a chronically low BAbip (.265 in 1043 PAs), and mediocre power (.125 ISO). What we're seeing this year is a .350 BAbip and .147 ISO. My feeling is that his previous BAbip was unreasonably low not on account of luck, but on account of him having trouble adjusting his technique to the major league level. I think a .350 BAbip is partly due to luck, but such a jump also seems to indicate that he's figured out a thing or two. The power... it's just not significant, but if we could get a .280/.370/.430 out of ALaR, I wouldn't complain. I've lamented in the past that he seems like he's aging without improving; looking at Aramis Ramirez's career numbers, you see that he has one good season at 23, but generally remains clueless until age 26, which is how old LaRoche is now. Perhaps? Maybe? Is it possible?

I meant to write an article on Garrett Jones at the beginning of the season, but then got lazy and didn't. Basically, all I was going to say was that he's going to drop out of his 2009 form to something respectable but not dominant. If you want a career model, look at Carlos Pena. I expect .260/.370/.460, which is still quite decent, but not elite.

In hockey...

The last time we won a playoff series in the Igloo was May 18, 2008.

I don't know if this is true in Pittsburgh, but in Cleveland Pens' bars, when Geno has a break away, people say "Aw Geno sucks at this!" Like last night, 3rd period. Stole the puck, went one on one with Halak, got stonewalled. Last year in the playoffs, he got to take a penalty shot in the finals; same doofuses at the Winking Lizard: "I wish it was Letang or someone." Now I know that Malkin hasn't always been brilliant on the shootout, and prior to the slow-cooker goal he has against Jimmie Howard on national TV this year, even he was down on himself. But like, fuck the heck, people? Really?? You're going to bemoan Evgeni fucking Malkin having the puck on open ice? Maybe I'm missing something here -- and I'm sure you'll tell me in the comments section -- but fuck the "Geno's not clutch" crowd.

Regarding this epic insurgency that is the Montreal Canadiens: I think this series is going to be decided by the blue liners. The Habs have figured out some way of neutralizing the super-forwards of the world, and our best hockey came in game one, when we were attacking with the outside shots. Give me more of that, Pens. I don't want to have to tell you to strap it on.

In football...

They were selling "Rapelisberger" jerseys outside of Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland the other night. On the front it said "Keep Little Ben in," which I kind of agreed with. Still, I was considering telling the vendor that my sister had been raped (lie) just to shame him. I ultimately didn't because the light had changed color and lying about rape to be vindictive didn't feel like A+ work. In conclusion: yes, Ben is an embarrassment and the shame he's bringing the Steelers is being marketed. Fuck that guy.

Everything gets old, except for Dick LeBeau and his near-pederastic love of OLBs. The latest things to get old: the incumbent linebacking corps. Woodley is probably the only one who has a definite future with the team, past the next three years. Timmons is still awkward and could be Kendell Belled out. Farrior, Foote and Fox are nice guys who play well, but will soon collect Social Security. Harrison will be cut before his giant fucking deal ends; at which point the entire Rooney family will relocate into hiding, somewhere in Ireland.

Anyway, this brings us to the 2010 NFL draft, where we took three undersized DEs and a 7th round DT, despite having a fairly steady front 7, and fairly weak secondary. This isn't out of the normal for the Steelers. If you look at their draft history, you see that they've consistently brought in mid-round LBs despite having All-Pros already at the position. This draft reminds me of taking Joey Porter and Clark Haggans types in the middle, despite having Lloyd, Gildon and Kirkland in those years. And as for the lineman, Doug Worthington... I watched him play at OSU this year, and he's pretty much coming in with as much as Keisel did: big frame, some lateral quickness despite a high center of gravity. If he can play special teams immediately, then he stands a shot at becoming a 3-4 end in our system. Not a great shot, but neither was Keisel's.

Be excited about the fact that we got Bryant McFadden back. I know we were all hoping to draft a future heir to the hair in the secondary, but it wasn't meant to be. So, we did what all dudes do when they get desperate: we called our ex and asked for another chance. I assume it went something like this:
COLBERT: You look good.
McFADDEN: ...Thanks.
COLBERT: Listen--
McFADDEN: Keven...
COLBERT: I've been thinking about us, lately.
McFADDEN: Keven, please.
COLBERT: No, listen. I've been thinking about how it used to be. Look, we were going through a lot, and it just wasn't the right time.
McFADDEN: It was never the right time!
COLBERT: I don't want you as just a nickelback, Bryant.
McFADDEN: You... you don't?
COLBERT: And I'm not just saying all this because my special teams suck, either.
McFADDEN: Kevin, what are you trying to tell me?
COLBERT: I want you to start for us.
McFADDEN: Oh Kevin!
(They embrace and kiss passionately. The scene ends with gay sex, but not before KORDELL STEWART enters.)
SLASH: Wow, I did not see this, wow, I love women and their boobies I am not a gay male I am very, very hetero straight, if I cry it's because they're booing me.
Yeah, but no, this is good news having McFadden back. It instantly gives us a proven starter opposite of Ike, and doesn't force us to scrap the developmental projects that are: William Gay, Joe Burnett, and Keenan Lewis.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Playing the Game

Dear Myron Rolle,

We do not know each other. I think we should. I might make a fine wife, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Colleagues have been emailing me about you, asking me what I think about your situation. I am no sports journalist. I do not know how far my voice carries, and if it goes anywhere, who is listening, but people have asked, and I am not one to let people down.

Sir, I am quite sure you know a thing or two about playing the game, and so I do not offer any information to you that I believe you do not already know.

First, congratulations on being the 6th round draft pick to the Tennessee Titans as the 207th overall draft pick. It beats being #255, right? Hey... you're on the team. I thought you could have gone to a team a little earlier, but there are rules to this NFL draft game, and there was speculation that you didn't want to play by those rules.

So, Myron, my sources say you are a smart man - all 6'2" 215 pounds of you. You are a safety. You graduated from Florida State University in 2.5 years... pre-med with a degree in exercise science... with a 3.75 GPA. OK, so you were one of those student-athletes, huh? I can respect that. I like that, actually. But then, to put the cherry on top, I am told that you are finishing up a graduate degree in medical anthropology at Oxford University a Rhodes Scholar. OK, dude. The story goes that had you foregone the Rhodes Scholarship and stayed in Florida and entered the draft, you would have been a 1st or 2nd round pick.

Mr. Rolle, that is not how the National Football League likes to play the game. The NFL is not interested in large Black men who set up foundations and sports clinics in the Bahamas and who state before even starting a professional football career that the long-term plan is to attend medical school and become a neurosurgeon. Mr. Rolle, in the NFL, the #1 rule is that football is #1!

One NFL executive said you're a better story than you are a player. So they're letting mediocre players into the league now? It might not have been the earlier round draft that you deserved, but I was under the impression that being selected at any level was a reflection of a player's ability. Silly me!

Word at combine was that you weren't committed to football. Dude, in football world, the standard has been set:


You're no Rudy, Myron. You're no Rudy at all. Quite the opposite, I'm pretty sure for most of your life you've been pushed to work harder, try harder, dream bigger, study smarter, run faster, perform better - to develop your natural talents and abilities to the point of perfection. I make this presumption because they tell me your parents are from the Bahamas. Mine are from a beautiful island, too. And while tourists know us for being laid back, smiling folks with dreadlocks and "no problems, mon!"... We who are children of the Caribbean know that a 98 on an exam is just 2 points shy of perfect, and even if you won the race your stride could have been wider. We know that individual success is no where near as important as our ability to help our families, strengthen our communities and make proud our native lands. So I get it, you're no Rudy. You're Myron. And your dreams aren't just your selfish dreams that inconvenience those around you and force you to single-mindedly persist at any cost. Yours are the dreams of some other substance and history.

Then you start talking crazy speak with quotes like this:
For me, I’ve never been someone with a singular talent. I have other abilities and interests and I think I would be doing a disservice to me, my team, my family, everyone who has invested stock in me if I was just so isolated in one thing. … The thing I always try to present to people in the NFL as far as my commitment is that my academics and my concerns at Oxford or as an outside philanthropist can help my football abilities. It can help me be someone more disciplined on the field, help me be someone more balanced and knowledgeable. It can help the other guys if they want to get involved in the foundation or the community rather than going out and partying or getting in trouble somehow.


Myron Rolle, I happen to like the game you're playing, and I'd like to be on your team. Do you need someone to run your Foundation? I'm in the market for a job anyway, and I don't mind relocating to the Bahamas. Feel free to contact me.

For me, Myron, you're a breath of fresh air. Amidst rape allegations, drug use, murder, suicide, guns in the club and a host of whores and mistresses, NFL and other professional athletes were becoming horrible caricatures. You bring some character back to the league and the field, and I hope you're as great a player as you are a story so that you get some playing time and use it well. That way, more people can hear your story.

You've got a new fan in me!

Best to you,
mns