Monday, September 23, 2013

Congratulations to Brynn Cameron, Balla and Lover Extraordinaire

Brynn Cameron was the former girlfriend of Matt Leinart, the USC quarterback in the middle 00's. They met in class, and bonded because they both had a goofy sense of humor. It didn't hurt that both are attractive people. They broke up, but not before having a baby together. The adorkable New York Times article about it all is here, and the photo below is also from the article.

Six years later, Brynn met another athletic young man. They went out for a while, and lo and behold, Brynn became pregnant again. No big deal, right? A single mother dating 6 years after her first child is hardly irresponsible! And the young man was 24. Surely he knew the basics about birth control, should he have been worried about pregnancy? There's no real story here. Or is there?


Because somehow, between TMZ and The Big Lead comment sections, you'd think Brynn Cameron is a con woman and witch. You'd think she was bewitching wealthy, athletic men, forcing them to have sex with her and stealing their sperm via her magicks just so she can collect child support forever and ever. Because obviously, Matt Leinart and Blake Griffin are sheltered, charmless individuals who had no other sexual options, right? Wrong.

Let's look over the complaints, one by one. First, the charge that Miss Cameron is somehow not attractive. I reply: Scoreboard! She landed two of the most attractive bachelors in LA. How can you claim she's not hot? She's tall, blonde, athletic, and apparently has a fun sense of humor. Many a woman has done just as much with less. Tall blondes might not be your thing, and there's nothing wrong with that, but why question another man's choice?

Second, the idea that Brynn Cameron somehow took advantage of the two men. In a creepy way, I kind of understand where some men are coming from in their complaint. We've all been "that guy" who instead of using common sense, pursued a woman just because she was hot. But since when is it the woman's fault for being attractive? Isn't it the man's fault for lacking self-control or not taking appropriate precautions? Sex is risky by its very nature, which is perhaps why it's so addicting, but I'll leave that logic to smarter folk than I.

Third, the idea that Brynn Cameron is some sort of "jersey chaser" who hunts down athletes. There were SEVEN years between Leinart and Griffin. For all we know, Brynn spent those years not dating at all, or dating polite accountants from San Diego who liked museums. But otherwise, fine, let's imagine the "worst"; Brynn only likes dating men her age with great bodies who have a lot of money. My unscientific survey estimation is that she shares that "fetish" with about...95% of womanity. She happens to have qualities that allow her to live that dream; congratulations to her for winning the genetic and personality lottery. Don't hate the game, right?

Fourth, some commenters have gone so far as to claim that Brynn must be some sort of sexual freak to land the two men. I would link to make my point, but I try to keep the language on here SFW. But...can't we also assume that Brynn has a good understanding of the mind of an athlete? That, being an athlete herself, having a brother who is an NFL player, and also being around athletic men, she knows what they like and how they act? Never underestimate the value of truly understanding a man's culture and mindset.

Finally, it's fair to point out that Brynn Cameron complained that Matt Leinart was not paying her enough in child support. He had wanted to pay her $72000 a year. Which sounds like a lot...until you realize that she was living in LA at the time. In, say, "Buffalo, New York" dollars, that's $50,000 a year. That's not that much, given Leinart's wealth, and that Brynn Cameron was a college graduate who now had to stay at home to look after a baby. Supposedly, Leinart then had to pay her $15000 a month. That's a lot, but it's also only fair to point out that Leinart's first contract was for about 8.5 million a year. According to my conservative calculations, Matt was paying 2.5% of his salary in child support. Most child-support paying dads would think themselves lucky to pay so little, percentage-wise.

Maybe one day the sports world will stop being so misogynistic to women, but that day is not today.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Michigan State Refuses to Educate Jay Harris

Jay Harris, a three-star recruit, supposedly has turned down a scholarship from Michigan State in order to pursue his rap career. By itself, it's rather irrelevant, much like the football player who opted for modeling over football. Rap can be a young man's game. Jay Harris may be making a very logical decision, for all we know, that his chances in rap right now are better than his chances at the NFL three or four years from now.

(photo via Lou Rabito of Philly.com)

But it's the response of Michigan State that most concerns me. Philly.com is reporting that Michigan State turned Jay Harris down once his explicit rap videos came to light. Perhaps it's Michigan State trying not to look like Harris dropped them. But perhaps it's MSU blackballing Harris for his videos. And that should truly concern those of us who care at all about the legitimacy of college sports.

College sports has always portrayed itself as the great educator of young men who otherwise would be trapped in some sort of urban maelstrom. Plenty of young athletes have used drugs or spoken harshly of everyone who isn't a heterosexual male. One wonders if MSU would be turning down Mr. Harris if instead he was a lacrosse player who uploaded Youtube vids of he and his friends being high and had hardcore porn on his Tumblr. Michigan State is showing that college sports isn't about education, it's about suppression. Slap your athletes around enough so that their harsher side is hidden. Teach them to keep the groupies behind closed doors and the drugs carried on non-athletes. That appears to be more the true mission of college sports.

Yes, I'm on a soapbox, but I'm more surprised that no one else is with me. To the best of my knowledge, Jay is only 18. Don't confuse this with the controversies of various pro athletes in their late 20's releasing rap albums. Michigan State did not employ Jay when he made the videos. It seems to me that MSU is refusing to educate Jay Harris, and that reflects more on MSU than on Jay.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

From Deadspin Comment Joke to Cold Hard Fact: Lennay Marie Wochinski

On the original Deadspin post, Jimmyxx77 made the following obscure Seinfeld joke that people couldn't find Lennay Kekua (of Manti Te'o scandal fame) because it was her professional name, not her real name:

Wouldn't you know it, slimcelebrity.com believed Jimmyxx77.

Shut it down, Lennay Marie Wochinski truthers, this is why you can't find her on your Google searches. Jimmyxx77, you are a credit to the oft-maligned Kinja burner race on Deadspin, and may you get a regular commenter name and comment often.

What did MSMK mean in Lennay Kekua's Twitter Handle?

Just for fun, I have a theory on the meaning of MSMK in the twitter handle @LoveMSMK. At first I thought it referred to Lennay Marie Kekua (Manti used the tag #LMK, and the MK would come from there). But the MS part never quite made sense: perhaps Manti something, but where did the S come from? So for what it's worth, here's an alternate theory:

It's a religious acronym meaning My Savior, My King. The phrase is used in several gospel songs and hymns by Hillsong United, Issac Watts, and other well-known gospel song writers. Recall that Ronaiah, the alleged faker who created Lennay, was religious and sang gospel music.

I looked at Ronaiah's Youtube channel, and he liked several songs by Kirk Franklin on there. Kirk Franklin is a very popular gospel artist. Kirk Franklin has a song titled "The Moment #2." The opening line is "My Savior, My King." If you read the rest of the lyrics, it unfortunately would have worked very well for Lennay to use that song as an inspiration during her illness. I don't have proof that Ronaiah liked the video to Kirk Franklin's "The Moment #2" on Youtube, which would have been nice. But otherwise, it seems to fit. An excerpt:

"My Savior, my King
My stronghold, my keeper
My body grows weak but
I find strength in You"

An underappreciated part of the scam is how Ronaiah could use religion to make it harder for Manti to ask questions or question Lennay. Take a look at some sample Lennay tweets, courtesy of Deadspin:

"RT @LennayKay: You won't find any pictures of me in some booty shorts, half naked on here. #MyBodyIsATemple fit for one king and one king only. #SooWoop"

"I am a daughter of the King. Raised to be a noble wife someday. Raised to nurture and train up my children in the Lord. Amen."

So if you're Manti, and you're asking Lennay to get on Skype, you can see how she might play a religious "Sorry I don't Skype" card to avoid detection. Just a thought.

Three Questions People Should Stop Asking about The Manti Te'o Deadspin Story

Deadspin's Manti Te'o story by Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey is closing in on 4 million hits as of today. It inspired plenty of questions, and few answers. But a few of the questions being asked have obvious answers. Here's three that I think we can stop asking:

1) Good story, Deadspin, but didn't they just get lucky?
Honestly, I was a little disappointed that no sports blogs seemed to play significant roles in breaking the Jerry Sandusky story or the Steubenville football rape cover-up story. Sports blogs like Deadspin are perfectly positioned to uncover stories of college-town corruption and cover-up. College and high school students feel more comfortable going to blogs with such stories. And local media in such towns is often too closely tied to the team to break the story. In fact, and apologies for sounding like a jerk, I think sports blogs should be able to write stories like this a lot more often. Given a properly honed tip-generating process and visibility/rewards for tippers, why not?

2) Why didn't Notre Dame investigate whether Te'o was in on the hoax?
The investigation sounds rather laughable now. Notre Dame did not put much effort into the investigation, right? But I'm sure the original purpose of the investigation was merely to find out if Lennay Kekua was real or not. Once they figured out she was fake, they thought the story was over. Also, remember, Manti Te'o smartly went to them first. Any factual slip-ups he made could be covered over by him saying "I was just embarrassed and made things up." There are a lot of problems with Notre Dame's reaction to this, but I'm not so sure this question addresses the biggest problem.

3) How could Ronaiah find a woman to help deceive Manti Te'o on the phone for so many hours?
No appeal to talking to a high-status, beautiful person for hours on the phone each night? If Ronaiah could con Manti in the first place, I'm sure he could talk one impressionable woman into chatting with Manti.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is Rasheed Wallace Ready To Cost his Team an Eighth Championship?

News is that Rasheed Wallace may come out of retirement to play with the New York Knicks. I like Rasheed Wallace (and Need4Sheed is a fantastic site). But do you realize how many times Rasheed Wallace has faltered when his team needed him most? Not one, not two...but as many as seven times. Take a look at this admittedly biased take.
2000: Portland vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Game 7.
On the one hand, you could point out that Rasheed scored 30 points on 50% shooting, and still had 9 points in the 4th quarter. But take this quote straight from the game log:
"Rasheed Wallace scored 30 points on 13-for-26 shooting but had six of the Blazers' 13 consecutive misses during the Lakers' run that wiped out a 75-60 lead. Wallace also missed two free throws with Portland trailing 81-79 with 1:25 to go."

For any other player, this wouldn't seem like much. But Rasheed was just beginning.
2001: Portland vs. Los Angeles Lakers series.
It should have been possible for Portland to return to the Western Conference Finals. For one, Rasheed's regular season totals were perhaps the best of his career, with a career-high in win shares/48. The league average in WS/48 is a .100. During the regular season, Wallace had .180 WS/48. During the postseason and the Lakers first-round sweep? A negative win share as he shot .373 from the field and the Blazers were swept by the Lakers.
2004: Rasheed helps the Pistons defeat the Lakers and takes full advantage of Karl Malone's injury woes. Had Rasheed fixed his losing ways?

2005: Yes, you know about the mistake he made to leave Horry open, and perhaps you know how he helped the Pistons win Game 6. The Horry play prompted this unusually thoughtful essay about Rasheed over at the Good Men Project. But let's review again how bad Rasheed's choice was: "I’ve seen that play dozens of times since it took place nearly six years ago. I’ve commiserated with other Pistons fans. None of us have ever been able to really accept that Sheed would leave the Spurs’ hottest three point shooter all alone (Horry had scored his previous 18 points in the game all in the fourth quarter and overtime and was 4-5 from beyond the arc) in order to double down on a player who had gone 5-16 on the night, was 25 feet from the hoop with his back to it, and was already guarded by the Pistons best perimeter defender."
For the NBA Finals series against the Spurs, Rasheed Wallace averaged under 11 points a game. In the pivotal Game 7, he could only play 28 minutes due to foul trouble. He scored 10 points, but grabbed only one rebound.
2006: The Cavaliers were just happy to be in the second round of the play-offs for the first time in Lebron's career. They managed to take Game 3 from the Pistons, but it seemed only a matter of time before the Pistons moved on to face the Heat. Then Rasheed said this:
"“I know we goin’ win. I know we goin’ bust they ass. Tomorrow night is the last game here in this building this year. Y’all can quote me, put it back page, front page, whatever.”"
I was there for one of the games (Game 4 or 6), and the crowd has never been louder, booing Wallace and carrying the Cavs. The series against the Cavaliers went seven and ended on Sunday (a game where Rasheed shot 4-16, I might add). Meanwhile, the Miami Heat were done with the Nets by Tuesday, getting a full week of rest for an aging, veteran team before the Heat-Pistons series started on Tuesday. In the Miami series, a fatigued? Wallace shot under 40% for 5 of the 6 games. I fully believe Rasheed's comments extended the series and showed the Cavs that the Pistons may have been more concerned than they let on.
2007: In the crucial Game 5, Rasheed shot 4-13 as the Pistons lost in overtime. In Game 6, Rasheed got ejected in the 4th quarter of a game that the Pistons were only trailing by 12. Yes, a Pistons rally was unlikely, but consider how the Cavs were leading. Lebron shot only 3 for 11 for the game, and the Cavs were forced to rely on Boobie Gibson to stay ahead of the Pistons in that game.
2008: In Game 6 against the Celtics, Rasheed decided his previous performance in elimination games wasn't enough. The Celtics won by 8 while Rasheed went 2-12 from the field and an amazing 0 for 6 from 3-point range.
2010: Replacing Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed books a respectable double-double in Game 7 of the Finals. But I still dock him here. The Lakers grabbed 23 offensive rebounds in that game. Given Rasheed himself admitting he struggled with conditioning, he deserves some blame.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Oddly Depressing Rise of the Writer-Athlete: Chris Kluwe and the Mind Above Replacement

Jay Caspian Kang wrote a great article on Grantland about how we tend to put ourselves into the shoes of everyone in professional sports. Titled "Sometimes I Dream that He Is Me", Jay digs into how silly it is when we say things such as "If I were the owner of the Dallas Cowboys." It is more excusable to pretend we are an athlete: at least we've shot a basket or kicked a football before. But most of us have never negotiated a million-dollar deal or had to choose between Bali and Dubai as the site of our winter estate. So pretending we are an owner or commissioner is an even greater sin.

However, certain athletes seem easier to relate to. (As Kang implied, not even the most hardened talk-show caller can really say "If I were Dwight Howard" with a straight face). Take, for example, R.A. Dickey's fine book on his struggles to become a man and a pitcher, or Chris Kluwe's recent writings on Deadspin. It's good to hear from the athletes themselves on Twitter or in an article, without a filter, being themselves. Then why am I oddly depressed about it all? Because perhaps we are the problem.

First, the intellectual bigotry of the modern fan is strikingly clear. We act as if all athletes have a replacement-level mind, fit only for athletic feats. Men deal with physical inferiority by switching the playing field. When Kluwe talks about RPG's to Kotaku, or Dickey makes a LOTR reference, so many fans seem shocked or oddly awed by it. There's a horrible tendency to see athletes as one-track machines and deny them legitimate interests. Just read the comment section of an article if an athlete marries a women who is merely pretty instead of jaw-droppingly beautiful. You would think that athlete had let down mankind. Our idealization of the athlete's athletic gifts to the detriment of their humanity hurts them and us. Worse, it seems intentional. I can keep watching football as long as I don't think about the impact of concussions on another human being just like me, and how even a small headache can easily put me out of commission.

Second, we rely on these athletes to justify our biases. Why in the world does Chris Kluwe's rant on gay marriage have almost two million views on Deadspin? Is it that eloquent, that filled with new information? Couldn't your average 30-something over-posting friend on Facebook write much the same? Why do Christian groups clamor to have Tim Tebow, noted theologian and monk, on stage? If I were an athlete, I'd create a fallback career by being a pitchman for the cause of my choice. Treating the opinions of athletes with such reverence creates a subtle bias that athletes do not have opinions.

But perhaps there is some good in this. Perhaps when Chris Kluwe writes on something that has nothing to do with his job, we idealize that because we wish to do the same. Here am I, let's say Accountant/Amateur Comedian, and I can pursue both options without diminishing or insulting either. I want to live in a world of funny pastors, intelligent athletes, and well-dressed professors, to name a few turns against stereotype. But I don't think we can get to that world if we keep over-reacting every time an athlete shows their humanity.