Monday, December 31, 2007

Linkstigation: SportsAgentBlog.com

The SportsAgentBlog.com site turns two today, and I wanted to give them some credit. Darren Heitner had the goal of wanting to be a sports agent, and he fiercely pursued increasing his knowledge of that career via his blog. Now, he's attracted quite a following and become an authority on the topic. That's the type of independent blogging I like to see, so I recommend you go check out his site.

While I'm naming names, don't forget about some of my favorites this year as you set your blog-reading habits of 2008:
http://www.theserioustip.blogspot.com
http://www.stopmikelupica.com
http://www.cobrabrigade.com
http://www.yaysports.com (now with Who Shot Mamba trailers!)
http://www.babeslovebaseball.com
http://dwil.wordpress.com
http://thestartingfive.wordpress.com
There are many more I could link to (look on the right at my links), but that's a good start! I have accumulated some new blogs I want to link to as well in the future: for now, check out http://kluvsthisgame.blogspot.com/, featuring lots of West Coast sports and entertainment pictures and video.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

MCBiasInterviews: The 2 Michelles

For a while now, I've admired the work of The 2 Michelles , two ladies named Michelle and Michelle who are enthusiastic fans of the Miami Dolphins. They had the idea to attend EVERY Dolphins' road game this year, and posted videos from each game on the Miami Dolphins web-site! Sadly, they picked a year where the Dolphins team has struggled to win games. But the ladies still cheer vigorously for their team, and it's fun to watch.

Anyway, I thought it was great that some bloggers were actually (1) producing quality sports videos and (2) getting those videos posted to an NFL team's site--impressive! I asked these superfans for an interview, and got 30 minutes of video-tastic goodness for my interview questions. I decided to just post a shortened 7 minute version for now, and post the full version at a later date. See below for the video and a guide for what's on the video!




Video Guide
0-1:56 How the 2 Michelles got the idea to go to all the Miami Dolphins’ road games.
1:56-3:32 How do the 2 Michelles stay excited about the Dolphins even while the team is 1-14? Plus their favorite traditions and cheers.
3:33-4:32 Which NFL team’s fans treat visitors the worst? Sadly, my suspicions were confirmed on this one.
4:33-6:38 Do other fans hit on the 2 Michelles? This answer surprised me; let me know what you think in the comment section.
6:39-7:17 Ending

Thanks 2 Michelles!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Class Bias: Derek Anderson Gets Coal for Christmas

I am annoyed by how yesterday's Browns loss is being spun by several writers to suggest that Brady Quinn should be starting instead of Derek Anderson, or that Brady Quinn is the QB of the future. Derek came from Oregon State as a low draft pick. Brady came from Notre Dame as a high draft pick. Thus, it seems to me that writers will always support Brady first. It's class bias; the blue-collar guy will always come up short compared to the big name from a big school.

The article that most annoyed me is the normally very well-informedMichael David Smith from the Fanhouse. He starts the article by stating
In the Browns' first nine games, quarterback Derek Anderson had 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In the last six games, Anderson has eight touchdowns and nine interceptions.

There's no question that Derek Anderson, like many first-year starters, has gotten a little less effective as the league got used to him. But the numbers that MDS presents are biased. Before the Bengals' game, if you took Derek Anderson's numbers from the last 6 games, Derek had 9 TD's and 5 interceptions. Those are not the numbers of a struggling QB! But toss in Derek's awful game from yesterday, and now MDS can write a post about how Derek is struggling and how the Browns should look at Brady Quinn. This is only possible because of MDS's cherry-picking statistics.

And what about that terrible loss to the Bengals' yesterday? Lost in all the boo-hoo-ing about Derek Anderson was the performance of Carson Palmer. Buried deep in the ESPN.com recap, here's what Carson Palmer had to say:

Like Anderson, Carson Palmer also struggled with the gusting wind, going 11-of-21 for 115 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown.

"I never really got a good sense of which way it was blowing," Palmer said. "It was really swirling. It was an ugly game, and a tough one to play in if you're trying to throw the football."


Where was that quote in stories about DA's poor performance? How about mentioning that the conditions were so bad that a Pro Bowler like Carson Palmer, playing with a lead the whole game, couldn't complete 50% of his passes on the same field? (For the record, Derek Anderson completed 60% of his passes on Sunday). How about mentioning that Carson Palmer turned in a QB rating of 44.8, the second-worst of his career according to Bengals.com? And that he put up these poor numbers against a suspect Browns defense? No, that shouldn't be mentioned in stories about Derek Anderson; that might give the stories context! That would take away opportunities to post pictures of Brady Quinn!

All right, I know it's Christmas Eve, and I should go easy on my blogger brethren. MDS is usually an excellent blogger, and he certainly isn't the only one to take the "Derek sucks" approach to the story. Munilot.com took a similar angle, as did the ESPN write-up and Mary Cabot Lodge of the PD in a radio interview. And yes, Derek did have a terrible game. But I hate the implications that the last 14 weeks, in which Derek played well, are worthless just because of one bad game. Here's the stat that matters to me about Derek Anderson. In the second half of games this year, he has thrown for 13 TD's and 4 INT's. And that includes yesterday's game! Think about that, Browns fans and sports writers, before you start calling for Brady Quinn.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bill Simmons Week: Who's the Next Bill Simmons?

Wait, let me first gargle with Draino for the similarity of that title to AJ Daulerio's work on Deadspin. It's not like I needed my taste buds anyway. I was wondering the other day, are there any sports bloggers who, like Simmons, could come off the Internet bench and immediately gain a large following at ESPN? I put together a top 3 list.
1. The Cavalier from Yaysports.com ESPN loves cartoons and multimedia in general, and The Cavalier's humor is PG, so it would be a great fit. Plus, The Cavalier's essays are pretty funny, too. I could see this working, as long as they didn't force The Cavalier to hit a certain word count.
2. Matt Ufford from The Prelude. Yes, I picked that particular site on purpose. Although some of the humor on WL and KSK would be banned at ESPN, I've been quite impressed with the football column he has on AOL's Fanhouse. I think he could balance the funny and serious nicely.
3. NOIS Sports Blog. Oh, I know, you're already telling me he'd be too controversial because of the race issue. But why should he just limit his gifts to race topics? I'd love to see a serious-sounding editorial about whether Romo's dating of hot women makes him less able to properly throw a football, or claiming that George Mitchell's report is biased against baseball players.
What's your list? By the way, Bill Simmons Week dies a terrible death today; let's not talk about my sense of timing in programming this against Christmas, ok? Check back tomorrow for a video interview.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bill Simmons Week: Yup, this is our Bill Simmons!

For years, I wondered why Bill Simmons' writing can switch from bad to good and back again so quickly. Then I realized that the same trend repeats itself year after year. Here's your Bill Simmons Popularity Scale; does it look right to you? Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Non-Sports Babble: Performance Enhancers and Me

So Jack Cobra recently wrote an article on his experience in taking Performance Enhancers (aka PED's) as a baseball player in college. It was well-done and deserves your perusal. Anyway, I had an phone interview for a jarb (pronounced in Coach Z fashion), and decided to try my own version of performance enhancers, just for fun. I guzzled a pint of energy drink before the interview. The verdict? During the interview I babbled like a 3rd grader describing his first visit to Disneyland. Don't drink energy drinks and interview, kids. What's worse is now I have all this excess energy, so I'm wasting your time with inane blog posts. By the way, that post below is my 200th post on this site. Woo-hoo for that.

Videocasting: Girls Talking Sports

I know it's nearly Christmas, and so maybe people haven't gotten a chance to read Extra P.'s column. But it is really well-done; please do comment and tell him so.

Anyway, one of my readers sent me an e-mail about my Sports Gal post yesterday. We debated for a moment whether a Sports Gal was really a great pick for a girlfriend/wife or not. So I decided to dump a few videos of other Sports Gals on here; make up your own mind in the comments, if you wish. (Yes, I know, this is a completely lazy post, but I wanted to fill some space).

The first is a Fanhouse Minute from ThisSuitIsNotBlack. If you're not watching Fanhouse TV, you're missing out; David's drinking of a raw egg, Miss Gossip graphics, etc. make for fun viewing.


The second is quick thoughts on the Mitchell Report by BGirl5. The fun part is the first 10 seconds.


The third is Fantasy Football Analysis by foryourhealth. The funniest part, for me, is she named her Fantasy Football team "Sunshine Puppy Bear" team. Can you imagine the burn of losing to a girl who calls her team that? Ha, I love it!

Bill Simmons Week: I Come Not to Bury Bill Simmons

As part of Bill Simmons Week, I decided to solicit posts on Bill Simmons from some of my favorite bloggers. Extra P. writes at the Extrapolater, CAAZone, and Storming the Floor, among other sites. His post is below, and it is fantastic. If you would also like to contribute to Bill Simmons Week, let me know via e-mail, and if it's good I'll put it up.

I come not to bury Bill Simmons, nor to praise him, but more to stand over his lifeless body with a puzzled expression on my face. To me, pissing and moaning about Simmons is pointless. He’s become the ultimate cautionary tale to those of us who might hope to derive some monetary success from blogging – he has collapsed under his own weight.
Hear me out. The reason we all feel so angry and irritated with Bill is because we loved him so much when he first rose to prominence. For one thing, did you see how I called him “Bill”? That’s because for a long time, he really seemed like one of those guys you knew personally. And if you didn’t know him, you knew a guy just like him, so he had that everyman appeal. When he told a story about being at a poker table in Vegas and seeing Michael Jordan and Charles Oakley walk in, it felt like he was thrilled, just as any one of us would be.
But somewhere in there, Bill started to get invited to actually sit at the table with his idols, and that’s when the trouble started (for us – I’m sure he’s having a wonderful time). The stories turned from “Can you believe Bill actually met Mike Tyson?” to “So here I was, sitting in the VIP section, and the President of Nike invited me to play Madden with Tiger Woods.” See what we lost there? We can no longer imagine what it would be like to be in Bill’s shoes – he’s part of the in-crowd and we’re not.
The second thing that went wrong is so ironic I can barely stand it. Bill, who snarks endlessly about the way his beloved Saturday Night Live has gone downhill, began repeating bits for cheap laughs. Live-blogs and lists and such were very entertaining when they were few and far-between, but once readers started clamoring for those bits, they started showing up so often that they became stale. The whole time Bill’s fan club was calling for him to write more often, I was shouting (to myself) that he should write less – the anticipation was sweeter than the delivery, and it gave him time to come up with something truly worth spurting out 3,234 words about.
The final thing that made Bill (and a whole raft of other people) completely unbearable was the resurgence of the Boston sports scene. It was interesting to read about a guy who was wishing and begging for his favorite teams to win just one championship between them. But since I started reading Simmons, the Patriots have won three super bowls, the formerly woebegone Red Sox have won two World Series, and the Celtics have assembled an all-star team in hopes of adding to the dynasty. Thank goodness the Bruins still suck, because if I had to read a self-congratulatory hockey column, I think I’d throw up in my own mouth. Basically, Bill Simmons has become an insufferable bass-bowl since everything started going his way.
The last piece of Bill’s that I really enjoyed was his pilgrimage to the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field. That was the last time I felt that awe of athletics seep into the florid prose of Sports Guy’s World. And that’s what I miss. For a few years there, Bill represented my generation – we quoted the same movies, remembered the same sporting moments, and were willing to root for our lousy teams even if they never won a championship. Bill’s first book was the beginning of the end, because he started to take himself seriously.
I don’t think it had to be that way. I don’t think everything is ruined by success, and I don’t put much stock in the term “sellout”. But Bill Simmons has turned away from what made him unique because the greater part of society wants him to function as a pop-culture jukebox, spitting out those old familiar hits. He’s willing to do that, and it’s made him famous and presumably wealthy. And in the end, who am I to complain about that? I have simply done what others who value originality (and some form of editorial coherence) have done – I’ve stopped reading his columns. I imagine somewhere, Bill is laughing at all of us, and doesn’t really care that he’s “jumped the shark.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bill Simmons Week: The Sports Gal

Although you didn't know it, it's Bill Simmons Week on Moderately Cerebral Bias. Read Bill's ESPN stuff here and his Wiki is quite detailed as well. I first started reading about sports on the 'Net due to a USA Today article about Page 2 being launched on ESPN.com. So I've been reading Bill Simmons from the beginning of his ESPN tenure. I thought him an interesting topic just because he's still the favorite sports writer of many a teen and 20-something guy. So how does he do it? Is he still any good? Or is it just the competition is so bad? We'll explore those questions and others at some point in the week.

Before diving into the good stuff, I wanted to start by defending the Sports Gal, Bill Simmons' wife. A few weeks ago, Bill Simmons had a column in which he wrote a letter to his 13-year-old self. Among the lines in that letter was "Don't get married until you're 45." For some reason, that line angered me. I'm sure The Sports Gal was a world-class grouch while carrying around those extra pounds during her pregnancy, but really, not get married until you're 45? Harsh, isn't it? Perhaps all you male models who read my blog are nodding your heads in agreement because you have your pick of the opposite gender, but I personally don't agree with that line at all.

Anyway, the Sports Gal's only bad trait that I've noticed from her writing is her whining, especially about various celebrities that make her feel less attractive or about Bill's sports addiction. But really, how hard is this to handle? So you goes to a party with lots of attractive women there, and your date starts feeling inadequate. All a man has to do is be a little more affectionate and complementary toward his companion. A hand squeeze here, a "You look so good tonight" there, and everything is fine. (Not so good idea; pretending that you didn't notice that bimbo or that you didn't really think she was hot. She's not stupid.) And come on, Bill whines a lot too. The two are perfectly matched in their whiningness; it's like the Napa Valley for whine, heh.

The good parts? She's a runner, she's really funny (according to her ESPN columns, love the acerbic sarcasm), and she's better at picking sports winners than Bill. Not a bad start. Also, I looked up some pics, and she looks exactly like what I'd expect. I probably shouldn't be posting this, and you all better be nice in the comment section, but if you scroll down, you can see a picture of her with Bill:

















Kind of plain, but...HA! Just messing, that's actually Will Leitch of deadspin.com with Bill Simmons. But honestly, she's an attractive woman in her 30's who will still be reasonably attractive in another decade. In other words, exactly what you'd expect Simmons would go for if he were signing a long-term deal. Come on, Bill, from your whining one would think you had married Tara Reid and it had all been downhill since. You had your chance to be Mr. Single ESPN Guy before you married her. If that life was so good, you'd still be Mr. Single ESPN Guy. Buck up and admit that you have it pretty good for a married man, ok?

Oh, and by the way, while searching for Sports Gal, I came across Let's Go to Smokes, which also expressed his affection for the Sports Gal. It's a decent blog from what I read, go check it out. I also came across a guide for male sports fans on how to get their own sports gal that's worth a look.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Non-Sports Babble: Actress Ellen Page

Hey all. FYI, I decided while on break to occasionally do some non-sports blogs on here too. Won't happen too often, but on occasion, you'll see some. So needing to pad my hit count after a month off, heh, I'll do a post on an entertainer. Why, this could mean I could double my usual readership, to, um,...2 readers per day!



I first encountered the work of 20-year-old actress Ellen Page when I was in a hotel room a month ago. I was clicking around late at night and came across the movie "Hard Candy." Let me just say, if your girlfriend or date EVER says in a sweet tone, "Hey, honey, let's rent 'Hard Candy' and watch it together", RUN! Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just run, especially if she's smiling and holding a pair of scissors. Your balls are on the line, um, literally. Google for yourself why I say this, and why I could only take about 5 minutes of the movie before switching channels.

But anyway, Ellen was an impressive actress in portraying a middle-school vigilante. I have a personal theory that the age at which women can be the meanest is middle school girls. Middle school is just at the end of the phase where the boys haven't quite caught up to the girls in maturity or social skills, and the girls know that and use their power freely. There's a great horror movie waiting to be written about packs of backpack-wearing middle school girls attacking a small town and torturing the inhabitants with protractors and compasses. Um, wait, where was I going with this, besides reliving middle-school traumas?

Oh yes, Ellen Page is a Canadian actress, and you should know about her. She's in the movie Juno, out now, was in an X-men movie. Here's an excerpt from the X-men movie:



She's not beautiful in a model sense, but since when was that necessary for all actresses? More importantly, she combines an everyday-girl look with being smart and talented, and will be more famous soon. I'll even quietly whisper "Meryl Streep comparison alert" under my breath, in fact. Watch the youtube video below for her Internet thoughts, which I COMPLETELY agree with. Yes, it is interesting how the Internet both unites us and isolates us.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hear that Crunching Sound? It's Eric Gagne's Goggles under the Red Sox Team Bus

This section of the Mitchell Report made me laugh. For the record, I think this is decent proof that Mitchell put some work into getting info from the Red Sox as well. Mitchell asked for computers from several MLB teams, and this e-mail probably came from Epstein's computer. But forget reality and logic! It's much more fun to think of this as Eric Gagne being thrown under the Red Sox bus for being a fat lazy ex-steroid user.

"When the Boston Red Sox were considering acquiring Gagné, a Red Sox official made specific inquiries about Gagné’s possible use of steroids. In a November 1, 2006 email to a Red Sox scout, general manager Theo Epstein asked, “Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?”

The scout, Mark Delpiano, responded,
Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. Has had a checkered medical past throughout career including minor leagues. Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. What made him a tenacious closer was the max effort plus stuff . . . Mentality without the plus weapons and without steroid help probably creates a large risk in bounce back durability and ability to throw average while allowing the changeup to play as it once did . . . Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne . . ."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Video: Cool Guys by Lev



Hi all. Sorry for not giving you a detailed post. It's been really busy this week, and the wireless Internet I have now loves to cut out at random intervals (already slaughtered a post that way). This video isn't even about sports, but it's fun in its own way--I like the progressive art type videos on Youtube. All right, enough apologies. Have a good weekend.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Stephen Jackson for MVP

Warriors with Stephen Jackson: 9-2
Warriors without Stephen Jackson: 1-6.

He's putting up 22 points a game, and if the Warriors get home floor advantage in the West, I believe he deserves MVP consideration. Yet you wouldn't know it from the media coverage. Take this ESPN column by JA Adande, for example.

The article's second paragraph reads, in part, "In the mixed-up Warrior World, one-on-four pull-up jump shots are encouraged, not punished; a player who has been suspended six times is a source of inspiration and stability; and guys called Mully and Nellie are considered the masterminds of the operation."

That player who was suspended 6 times is Stephen Jackson. Adande further piles on by stating that "He was the biggest question mark on the San Antonio Spurs' championship squad in 2003. You never knew if you would get a 3-pointer or a turnover from him." Well, maybe that was because Stephen Jackson was a near-rookie with only 100 games of experience before that season! Of course he looked like the question-mark, compared to Duncan and Robinson; it's an unfair comparison. How about instead noting that he was the starter on a championship team? Eventually, at the very end of the article, after talking about the fans and courtside entertainment, Adande grudgingly gives Stephen Jackson credit. Adande, I'm no Sherlock Holmes, but, you know, 1-6 without Stephen Jackson and 9-2 with may mean that Stephen Jackson is the clue to the Warrior's success.

But no, instead its Mully and Nellie, masterminds. Masterminds?! Don Nelson's coaching record for this year, is 10-8. He's barely above .500 in coaching the Warriors. Nelson's run-and-gun schemes are utterly worthless without the big man that plays like a shorter player. That was true whether it was Nowitski in Dallas (where Nelson would have been fired if Dirk's emergence did not occur), or Stephen Jackson today. Chris Mullins was a terrible GM for the last few years, signing guys like Derek Fisher to mega-deals and not finding a veteran coach early on. And now, they're getting all the credit?

Rarely do I take on a mainstream journalism article, because I don't think it's fair to attack guys for one bad day's work. But this is easy, and don't think I'm just picking on Adande. I have yet to see one article in any publication giving Stephen Jackson the credit he deserves. Why not?

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Betrayal of Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant has been seen as an indecisive spoiled brat for his trade demands this summer and his changing that message. But an untold story, at least in my eyes, has been how the Lakers management baited him into signing and then switched their style. When Kobe Bryant became a free agent in the summer of 2004, he had the Lakers and the Clippers bidding for him. Up to that point, in his near-decade with the Lakers, the Lakers had always focused on getting top talent or at least experienced players. Kobe's teammates included Shaq, Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Glen Rice, Mitch Richmond, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, and Ron Harper. Kobe had every reason to believe that once Shaq's salary came off the books, the Lakers would go shopping for a veteran superstar to pair with him. Instead, what has happened? The Lakers got cheap on him, saving dollars or spending it on projects like Kwame Brown (9 million this year!). Their overall salary, for the team that has the most expensive seats on average in the NBA? 13th! Such big cities as Denver, Cleveland, Portland, and San Antonio all have higher team salaries according to hoopshype.

It's not just about total salary, either. The Clippers, despite only having the 19th highest salary among teams, have made a splash since the 2004 season by acquiring veterans like Cuttino Mobley and Sam Cassell. Sure, the Clippers record is poor right now, but they made the moves that the Lakers traditionally made during Kobe's career there. And don't even get me started on the illogic of trading away Caron Butler when Phil Jackson is the incoming coach. You're telling me Phil couldn't get results with a 2-3-4 of Butler, Bryant, and Odom using the triangle offense?!

Now, I willingly admit that Kobe's own mammoth salary makes it hard to sign top-level veteran star talent. But come on, sign a couple veteran players with play-off experience. It's LA! Since when has it been hard to get players to come to the land of sun, sand, and silicone? No, I think that although Kobe's method of complaining was poor, he has valid reasons to complain. By any reasonable estimation, the Lakers' promises in the summer of 2004 to surround him with top-level talent to replace Shaq, Karl, and Gary have been broken.

Side note: Who put the "Use me" sign on Kobe's back? Whether it was Shaq, Phil, Vanessa, or Lakers management, dude gets used more than Shawn Bradley trying to block a dunk and blamed more often than GWB. Come on Kobe, go to PR 101 or something!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ultimate Candy Bar Tournament Video

I decided during hiatus to mix in the occasional non-sports post too, so here's a Ultimate Candy Bar Tournament Video. Warning; don't watch this when you're hungry.



I definitely vote for Three Musketeers; light-tasting, doesn't stick to your teeth, and larger than most candy bars. What's your vote?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Meddle Management: Don't Knock Out the Champ!

With the Meddle Management series, I'll analyze what a coach should or could do, while trying to avoid the "hindsight is 20/20" flaw of such columns. You'll see this feature Monday/Tuesday during the week. I decided to give my Posterized series a break for now.

By now, you've read many a story about how Brian Billick's Ravens came so agonizingly close to knocking out New England. I wanted to analyze how an underdog can defeat a strong, championship-level team based on my own experience as an athlete and coach.

To begin, a coach needs to have enough skilled pieces on your team to still be "dangerous." The best type of skilled pieces are veteran players with years of play-off experience, who won't be intimidated by a strong team like the Patriots. The Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens, despite having rather poor W/L records, still have plenty of play-off veterans.

As for gameplan, a coach must use an unconventional strategy to jar the champion team immediately, even if it puts your own team at risk. Philadelphia was not afraid to let AJ Feeley throw the ball. Baltimore came out with a very aggressive defense, that was flagged early and often. Yet that was key, because in a nationally televised game, officials don't like to make a lot of calls. Billick had every reason to believe that by the fourth quarter, referees would let those Baltimore holds in the secondary go; Baltimore was playing at home. The Patriots used those same techniques themselves for years against the Colts.

Finally, a coach must let the players finish the game without excessive interference. Too often, an underdog coach thinks "You have to knock-out the champ!" as if the sport were boxing. Such a coach selects a new, risky strategy or calls many late time-outs. However, this is a mistake. The players are already tired and nervous about hanging on to the lead. Instead, stick with basic strategies for the team. This has the added advantage of being the opposite of the unconvential strategy with which you started the game.

The Ravens coaching staff did well, I thought, to resist dialing up exotic blitzes in the last few minutes. However, the time-out on 4th and 1 was a mistake, and the players themselves started to fall for the Patriot mystique. Too often, a Ravens player held a Patriots WR when the pass was out of reach. Once the Patriots were forced to play from behind, the Ravens should have been able to finish them off. But at the worst possible time, the Ravens started trying to do too much as coaches and players. Similarly, AJ Feeley should have been given a conservative game plan to finish the Patriots game; no passes over 15 yards. I think the Ravens had nothing to be ashamed of, and executing 90% of the blueprints for upsets is impressive. But that last 10%, that ability to coolly finish off a staggering champion without wildly swinging for a knockout, is where the Ravens fell short.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Jesus Plays Sports: Death of Sean Taylor Coverage

I label posts "Jesus Plays Sports" when some of my analysis is from a Christian perspective. That way if you don't like that, you know and can skip the post.

By now every blogger has written their “It was wrong for Shapiro, Wilbon, etc. to judge Sean Taylor” column, and all I have to add is AGREED. (I apologize that I'm not linking to all of the excellent columns: Modi, fast becoming a personal blog fav, has a list at cosellout.com , and D-Wil is keeping the updates coming as well. Check Redskins fan blogger sites as well.) I have new details on it below, but let me quickly touch on something regarding the bad coverage. It was not bad coverage just because some people passed judgment on Sean. I do NOT think judging people is wrong. “Do not judge, lest you be judged” is a Bible passage quoted out of its context. If we never carefully considered a person’s actions and made decisions on them, nothing would ever get done in this world. We’d be in a paralysis of analysis, too fearful of offending to ever do anything.

No, I much prefer to quote Jesus’s other, lesser-quoted statement on judging: “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” Judgment should be done, but only after a sincere, time-consuming attempt to get at the truth and go deeper than the surface. Sean Taylor, although extremely violent on the football field (as are, say, John Lynch, Warren Sapp, etc.), was never tied to instigating violence without cause off the football field. For that and other reasons below, Shapiro, Wilbon, etc., were wrong to judge him. But the very act of judging, itself, is not incorrect.


A few things that haven’t been noted yet in the coverage I read:
The kitchen knife left on the bed a week before the shooting has been seen as some sort of revenge warning. Wrong. If that were true, the assailants would have gunned down Sean’s family as well, so there would be no witnesses, and put an insurance bullet in his brain. What I am about to say is pure speculation, but I think it fits the facts fairly well and does not slander the dead or living. I suspect that the knife was there because the robbers found a safe in the bedroom, and tried to pry it open with the knife. Failing, they decided to return the next week with safe-opening tools to that very bedroom. However, what they didn’t bargain on was that the bed would not be empty, but instead have Sean Taylor in it.

Sean Taylor had a poor relationship with the media in DC, and that might be why his own hometown columnists were so hard on him. How poor? Let’s turn to Dan Steinberg’s past blogs (I use Dan because he hasn't been accused of being too hard or soft on Sean) on Sean Taylor:

Sean Taylor cancelled 4 scheduled press conferences in 6 days at training camp, and said he’d “never” speak to the media.


Sean Taylor made a habit of being unresponsive to the media or being rude. As Dan says when trying to get a quote from him, "Anyhow, I asked another scribe why no one was approaching Taylor, and he explained that people have pretty much given up. Sometimes you'll get a grunt in reply to a question, sometimes he'll merely walk past you and not speak."


Thus, the media tended to define him by the gun incident (scroll down, and yes Dan Steinberg is being light-hearted, just making a point about how little there was to say about Sean outside his hard hits and gun incident).

I hope the DC media didn't let this affect their coverage of his death, but I wonder.

Shot in your own home, in the middle of the night, surrounded by family, has to be a top 5 nightmare for many of us men. That's why so many of us took note of the death of a human being we had never met before. I understand Lozo's point that many people die daily and tragically (scroll down to Tuesday, November 27th). He made good points about celebrity worship. EDIT: I removed a part here if you came here earlier. END EDIT. In addition, it's of little consolation to the dead person exactly how they died; dead is dead. But for me personally, any sympathy is not about Taylor the football player. This is about Taylor, the man in his 20's, supposedly in the prime of life as many of us are, treated like a shooting target in his own home in front of his family. I don't live in Baghdad, trim trees, deliver pizza, or do any of the other things Lozo's death examples were doing, so I can't empathize as much. But I do go to my bed every night, pull the covers over my head, and hope that I wake up in the morning...and that's what Sean Taylor did last Sunday.

Friday, November 30, 2007

One More Time We're Going to Celebrate...



I'm back, baby! Hide the women and chocolate creme-filled doughnuts! ha. The break was good. I got antsy not being able to post on Jon Kitna, Sean Taylor, or blog feuds (yes, MR CAPS will drop by sometime in the future to help out with that one), so I'm back. For now, go read my guest post on what Moneyball would look like if it were applied to drafting women; Honeyball.

Oh, I should mention a few blog resolutions. I want to have slightly higher quality posts and post a little less often. We'll see how that goes, but just warning you, I might not be on quite as much as before. Definitely less commenting on other sports blogs, too. I marked a little too much of my territory in the past, ha, and my fellow sports bloggers should get some time to wash off the stains.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Washed-up Hotties Find (Fake) Love At Last

Let me vent for a minute before going back on hiatus. I can't believe how the impending Alex Rodriguez-Yankees deal is being covered. The Yankees and Alex Rodriguez both used to be the hot man/woman on the block. From 1996-2003 or so, they were too good to be true. Extremely talented and above reproach, they were the supermodel you can bring home to your parents. But now, both have squandered their reputation. The Yankees have spent the past 4 years seducing every small-market free agent with a pulse, while Alex Rodriguez has proved himself unable to handle commitment in any form. Let's put it this way; Ross from Friends and JD from Scrubs think Alex is being a wuss. The Man Without a (Baseball World Series) Country has shown surprising weakness under postseason pressure. Now that Alex is signing with the Yankees, it's somehow being presented as a win-win for all sides except for Scott Boras. Are you kidding me?!

The truth is, the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez, after years of having any body they wanted under their control, find that no one wants them anymore. This is a move of desperation. Their stupid puppet shows no longer draw crowds on Broadway. Whether it is George Steinbrenner's empty Mad Lib threats (If "name" doesn't "verb", then I will "verb" until he "verb") or Scott Boras' diarrheatic (ok, that's not a word) lying complete with Alex's Angst, the actors have been going through the motions for years. So now both are pretending that they have won each other's hearts and that this commitment ceremony, err, signing, is a true expression of love, instead of being the last desperate resort of washed-up hotties who have run out of people to exploit. If I were a Yankees fan, I'd be nauseated that my organization's owners can't say no to talent, even after promising not to resign Alex when he opted out. What message about talent over principles does that send in-house talent like Jeter, Posada, and Rivera, and young talent like Chamberlain and Hughes? And if I were Alex's family--what more can New York City do to prove that they resent you? Stone Cynthia in the streets and feed your kids to vultures? I mean, seriously, wake up Alex, when are you going to get tired of being manipulated? It's a tragedy that the only father figures Alex latches onto are abusive dominant types. Maybe that's what makes him such a great star, this attempt to get water from stones, but as a person, this is a terrible mistake.

Wait, what am I saying? Pity for the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez? Burn, baby, burn! It's so rare that the talented and arrogant get humbled and are forced to beg one another for scraps. Now if you'll excuse me, the Lakers-Kobe show is still going on. With luck, the Lakers will trade Kobe for Ben Wallace and the rights to Fran Vasquez, and Kobe will immediately slip on some ice in Chicago, get injured, and retire.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blog Hiatus

Hi all. So after October 31st, I'm taking a break. Why? I've enjoyed blogging a lot, and I certainly have not come close to running out of story ideas. But I need to take some time off. I've accomplished my short-term blogging goals of being linked to by bigger web-sites, having interesting comments, and making some novel arguments in sports blog land. Now I need to decide if I want anything else from this experience. I can't see myself making a rational decision unless I take some time to think. Thus, farewell for at least a month.

Bloggolalia: Who is the Next King of Sports Links?

In response to SML's History of Sports Bloggging, one last post. Disclaimer: this is wild speculation, and I cheerfully admit I may be as ignorant as can be on all these topics. So no quitting your job to blog or anything because of this.

I wrote my history of what might have been already. But what's still left untapped? I wrote about some issues related to bigger firms here. So let me just ask. Can Deadspin be beaten? Will we have a new "King of Sports Links"? I would say, probably; very few things are triumphant for long on-line. (cough Mark Zuckerburg sell while you can cough). The short answer is, no matter how much money Gawker makes, it's still a lot less than ESPN, Yahoo, or Google make. Even if ESPN or Google writers had half the talent of Will and Rick, if you hired 8 people to run the site, the combination would be victorious. The only trick is to avoid that whole condescension thing that SML pointed out.

For the long answer, here's what I think. A blog should properly be seen as a cross between Google's Search Engine and Yahoo!'s Answers. It's a smart search engine that writes answers IN ANTICIPATION of readers questions. See, I could just type in words with my specific interests into Google's search engine...but then I have no one to tell me what links are best. Worse, I can't talk about the stories with anyone. Yahoo! Answers gives me someone to talk to and allows me to narrow my focus, but it takes time to get an answer. So what a blog author does is write stories around interests that people would search for and want to read, and then give them a place to discuss said interests. Basically, I have an expert doubling as a search engine; better than Google and Yahoo! Answers would be separately. To be successful, you need to be a lot like your readers, but have several intriguing quirky ways of being different.

However, the problem with Deadspin (or nearly any sports blog site) is that it's just written by one or two people trying to stay current with many, many readers. As writers age, in general, they tend to get more out of touch with the 18-35 sweet spot. Or, as their readers get used to their columns style, the reader gets bored by the repitition or picks at the flaws. Deadspin has shrewdly tried to fix the two writer problem by handing over columns to David Hirshey, Big Daddy Drew, AJ Daulerio, Weekend Editor (which now rotates to include more editors), and others. But I'm not so sure getting more writers is the answer. There has to be a better way of knowing what stories your readers care about. (For example, I could care less about ESPN).

So a blog that could collect the searches of its readers about sports AND then write links and columns based on those searches would trump Deadspin. Or, if one could get 20-30 readers to devote 10 hours of their time per week to digging up interesting stories (aka an army of interns) in return for a nominal fee, again, that would trump Deadspin. (I didn't think of it when I first wrote this, but that description fits Epic Carnival. However, the site might have a touch too many writers right now, and the comment section needs some work.) The key is better information and understanding about your readers. And right now, let's be honest, most of us are guessing. However, I have some severe scruples with the "turn your commenters into worker bees" movement. It's just not going to work, and I'll explain why in one word: "laziness". There.

Secondly, I think there's still room for improvement in the commenting game. Right now, people comment for free, and it gets really hard to know which comments are worth reading and aren't. But what if, instead, a site used a team of 15-20 writers on each column? I'm thinking like the Simpsons TV or Family Guy show writers, where the show itself doesn't fit together that smoothly at times but the individual lines are great because they were the best work out of 15-20 writers. Or, VH-1 review shows where they ask 20 people the same question and only 2 of them are used on-air. So, the blog author writes the 200-word column...and all the other writers write short, snarky pieces related to the column. Author picks 3 of them to run with his piece, and publishes it. Now you have funny X 4, and the best comment written in response gets to be the 5th author. So now you have competition, which gives you the online video-game angle.

Or, consider a better version of DU!AN, where only the best comments made while watching a game make it on-air in real time, and 4 authors live-chat simultaneously about the game via text, audio, or video. You're telling me that this wouldn't be better than many commentator teams? (copyright infringement issues aside). So you have beta testers killing the dumb comments while the good ones survive (ala Youtube, Digg, everyone else with their thumbs-up/thumbs-down routine). I still think there's more to be done with interactivity, and we're not there quite yet.

Thirdly, have you seen Deadspin's IT lately? Anyone remember how Friendster's terrible IT helped open the door for Myspace? While the average reader isn't concerned right now, they may be if live blogs keep failing, comments keep freezing, and posts fail to show up.

Fourthly, Deadspin is an amoeba. If you're a commenter and you're really funny and good, why should you stay at Deadspin? Why not start your own blog? So I think retaining long-term commenting talent is a problem, and commenting is a big draw to linking sites. Most of the commenters left amiacably and stayed on good terms with Deadspin. But one wonders if that will continue indefinitely.

Finally, what happens when sites start rejecting links? No, I'm serious. Linking makes you dependent on the site that linked to you. It ruins the exclusivity of you and your readers and admits another X number of strangers in from another site to run amuck in your site. Most of us welcome this. But I could see a time 2-3 years down the road where blogs form paying communities and don't want those communities disturbed. You pay for the exclusivity, rather than the content, perhaps; the blog author promises to write articles based on your suggestions and your interests. At that time, if everyone knows every site, then why would my readers want, say, SML's readers? If they wanted to read SML, they would be at SML already. etc. I could also see situations where columns are "exclusive" to one blog and can't be linked/embedded elsewhere. Now it becomes a content war; and Deadspin's specialty is not developing original content, but rather tweaking existing content.

Anyway, those are some scattered ideas. Yes, I'm testing your attention span. If you got here, BLINK!

A final point I thought about...what about Ballhype as the new link king? You know, by ranking us, Ballhype controls us, right? I think people underestimate the power of Ballhype to take a run at Deadspin. You know what it would take? Hire one or two writers to provide exclusive site-specific content, and otherwise just post the best links on the web as they do now. Bingo. Don't sleep on Ballhype as eventual blogger competition.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

7 Random/Weird Facts About MCBias

So the boisterous Redhead demanded that I post 7 random or weird facts about myself on this blog before going on hiatus. Despite pointing out that Blogger 2007 is not LiveJournal circa 2003, this is a sports blog not a personal blog, and that facts about myself cause insomniacs to slumber, I decided to push this out before going on hiatus. But I'm not tagging anyone because I'm going on hiatus tomorrow; so I wouldn't get a chance to read them. Oh, and I know the list is kind of grouchy. I just couldn't figure out a way to disguise the good stuff without giving out too much personal info.

1. The last soccer game of my senior year of high school, I headed an own goal into our net that essentially cost us the game. My dad was videotaping the game, but thankfully was distracted at that moment. More amusingly, as part of a plan to capture the glories of my senior year, I had my dad videotape several sporting and academic events. I lost or messed up in every single event he videotaped...let's just say he will never be allowed to videotape me when I'm using power tools.
2. I once got a backstage pass to meet a rather famous singer from a female member of his band who I was also going to meet...and was about 2 minutes too late to be let in.
3. At one volleyball practice, I was hit in the right eye by a spike, and a few minutes later, I was hit in the left eye. I have never been hit in the eye before or since in volleyball.
4. I have worked at a place where a gunman shot someone. Thankfully I was absent the day he did it.
5. One day, my roommate and I were supposed to get up at 8:00 AM for church. We both managed to sleep in until 1:30 PM. Five and a half hours late, even though neither of us is the type to sleep in, and our alarm was apparently set on closer inspection. We're still not quite sure how that happened.
6. I've met people who got perfect scores on the ACT and the SAT (not the same person).
7. I'm an introvert who does surprisingly well at public speaking, thus merrily confusing people about my true personality.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jesus Plays Sports: When Christian Athletes Fail

So with the Rockies and Paul Byrd both having fallen on hard times lately, I thought I should squeeze off a quick post about that. I hate it when people only talk about their causes or favorite players when times are good, thus I respond.

First, the Rockies were swept in the World Series. I wrote about this team's unique relationship to Christianity here. Quite honestly, I'm not surprised they lost in the World Series. You know, some might argue that had the Rockies won, they could have been this great testimony to fans about the power of Christ, etc. But rarely do things work out that neatly for Christians. Look at Kurt Warner's up-and-down career as an example. No blessing of God is guaranteed for being a Christian athlete.

Warning: Christian speculation ahead!
My personal bias, which I don't think Christians or non-Christians may agree with, is that God has a way of being coy about his role in the affairs of men. That way, only people who really are looking for him will notice. For me as a Christian, a few times my team won or lost games, and I thought "Wow, that was ALMOST miraculous the way we won or lost, it felt like something different was in the air, etc." But you can't prove it to be truly miraculous on pure statistics alone; unlikely, yes, but miraculous, no. So you're just left wondering if God may have intervened or if you're making too much of nothing. I think that although sometimes God is obvious, more often he makes himself known, then retreats. It then becomes a matter of faith as to whether you believe he really exists or not.

Second, Paul Byrd. There's a temptation to defend Paul Byrd as just trying to compensate for a medical condition in a way that was legal at the time. After all, often people complain that Christian athletes aren't tough or competitive enough. There's nothing uncompetitive about the man who got into a heated confrontation with Bob Wickman last year because he felt Bob cost him a W.

However, I keep thinking that Christians should hold a higher standard in the competitive arena. After all, on the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about "If someone forces you to go with them one mile, go with them two" and talks about thinking about adultery and saying harsh words to a brother as being a sin. Other muscle-building substances were illegal at the time Paul Byrd injected HGH. It seems that Paul Byrd obeyed the law of MLB but disobeyed the spirit of the law. That doesn't seem quite right to me.

However, I'm saddened because Paul Byrd's book was going to talk about his struggles with porn, despite being a married athlete. To think that athletes, known for being wealthy and supposedly having all these women at their disposal, have problems with porn would be a new perspective for a lot of people. I think it would start some badly-needed conversations about the lure of virtual reality (VR) in general (video games, porn, Internet communities, TV, etc.). Many, many Americans are getting addicted to VR at the cost of everyday relationships and experiences. It's a problem we need to seriously confront as a society and as individuals. Now, though, there's not much chance that book comes out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Linkstigational: New (or new to me) Sports Blogs

I hate linking. It takes a long time, exposes the fact that even making links stretches my HTML ability, and most readers already have seen the content I link to. If you read and like my stuff, chances are you read the blogs I like as well, right? But when new blogs appear (or blogs I hadn't seen before), I will make an exception. There have been so many in this last month, I've actually had to split this column in two. First, some bigger names in new and improved roles; next time, some newer writers that you should read.

Cosellout is a fascinating read; the man is a fact-spewing cannon in defending the unpopular (Isiah Thomas) and re-evaluating popular sports folk (Rick Reilly, Steve Nash). Check out his Steve Nash post.

D-Wil is back at his home site, but is still as provocative and ornery as ever. I envy his ability to analyze media content rapidly and understand where arguments are weak and biased. For example, he points out that Keyshawn Johnson essentially betrayed and sold out Chad Johnson, his cousin, for a cheap 5-minute interview.

Matt Ufford is quietly writing a great NFL column over at the AOL Fanhouse this year. Maybe it's just me, but I haven't seen much mention of it on other blogs, and that's a shame. (Ahem, Fanhouse; your format makes it impossible to separate the fruit from the rind.) I was initially a little suspicious of its content given the pretentious-sounding "The Prelude" title, but it won me over quickly. Anytime a blogger can mention the Vicksburg Campaign and other great battles of war in a column, I want to read that column. Ignore the scurrilous rumors that my real reason for liking the Vicksburg Campaign is because the town name of "Holly Springs" sounds like the name of a pretty girl; they are 95% false. Ok, 80% false.

Finally, this Stop Mike Lupica fellow actually believes a link from MC Bias is worthwhile. Yet another blogger believes I have multiple readers. Wow, bloggers are gullible. Head on over there to keep up the charade, especially those of you of the left-handed persuasion. Watch the GI Joe cartoons and mock him for forgetting Bill Russell on his famous NBA left-handers list, ok?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Media Mayhem: Simmons, Banks, Leitch, Reilly

Lots of stories going around about sports writers lately, so I decided to do a rare post about sports writers.

I am ready to start a Paypal fund to collect enough money so Bill Simmons can move back to Boston. Not being in Boston anymore, he isn't surrounded by Boston folk. Thus, he gets his Boston fan talk fix by writing about it to us. His writing is more about his fond memories of Boston than anything else. If he would go back to Boston, I believe he would become a little more well-rounded in his columns. But let's be honest about Simmons' writing. Bill Simmons gets worse and worse as the year goes on, hitting bottom around January, until he can write about the NBA again. He's a great NBA writer, and only an average NFL writer. That's forgiveable; it's very hard to be good at writing on all leagues. But it still is hard to read him this time of year.

Don Banks may be my favorite NFL sports writer (Michael Silver also would be in the discussion). But I couldn't believe this line in his column about Boston sports fandom:

I've lived other places -- the Tampa Bay area, the Twin Cities, and the Baltimore-Washington area -- and nowhere matches the year-round intensity and passion for sports and its local pro teams that Boston exhibits.


What?! That means nothing; of course Boston is more fanatical about sports than those cities. How well do the Tampa Bay Devil Rays or other Florida baseball/football teams draw? The Twins were nearly contracted by MLB, and Minneapolis may be one of the few places in the country where intellectual and artistic events are revered just as much as sports events by the average citizen. And Baltimore-Washington folk are too busy getting their politics on to pay faithful attention to all of their sports teams. I understand the point Don is trying to make (he recently moved to Boston and thus compares it with past cities), but those cities are poor sports towns, period. Not a good comparison.

Bloggers have been quick to praise Shanoff's idea that Leitch take over the back page of SI. Look at the Ballhype votes and links. However, look deeper at the comment section of Shanoff's post here. None of Dan's readers like the idea! And neither do I. Leitch is very talented, but I don't know if his style works for the last page of a magazine. What Will does best is write provocatively to inspire comments and thoughts. I could see him doing an excellent job with the first page of SI. But the last page? You don't stretch folks there. Instead, you tickle their egos and massage their biases so they buy your magazine again. Some time later I'll talk about how a magazine should be laid out.

Rick Reilly is not going to be the same at ESPN. Cosellout made some good points in his Reilly article. Reilly isn't the ex-high-school jock; he's the ex-nerd who married the head cheerleader, built an impressive resume at SI...and now both of those aspects are gone. SI was the perfect place for Reilly with its witty and laid-back style. ESPN is the opposite of Reilly, with its ex-frat boy feel at times. While Reilly may aspire to that style, I don't see that in him. It'll be interesting to see how his style may or may not change due to the location change.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

World Series Quick Post

Sadly I was right about the Indians having Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tendencies. CC and Fausto reverted to last year's form, Grady resisted the awaiting Derek Jeter mantle Fox so badly wanted to place around his shoulders, and Travis was all donkey.

This is a tough one for me; originally I had the Red Sox winning the Series. But this setup of Red Sox vs. Rockies sounds a lot like Yankees vs. Marlins in 2003. When teams with very young, homegrown line-ups reach the World Series, they tend to be very successful. Additionally, expansion teams are 3-0 in the last decade in the World Series. Also, the Rockies are a better regular-season fielding team according to MLB.com's stats and at least as good of a regular-season hitting team.

True, the Rockies starting pitching isn't as good when viewed over the regular season stats...but the Red Sox are relying on an elderly Curt Schilling, a overtaxed Daisuke who finished the season poorly, AND a first-time play-off starter in Jon Lester. Plus, the Rockies get Aaron Cook back for Game 4; that will be an emotional lift. And don't be so sure that Papelbon's good closing will continue. If Garko hits that ball a little harder in Game 7, it's 5-5.

For the record: Rockies in 6.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Posterized: White Men Throwing Heat Edition





Sorry the posters aren't that funny this week; had a hard time thinking of subjects.

My quick rant this week is on Favre. It's fascinating how his decision to not retire looks when viewed at different time intervals. Here's what the Packers record has looked like in the past 3 years:
10-6
4-12
8-8 (4-8 followed by a 4 game win streak)
5-1

So if you looked at the Packers record in 2005 or midway through 2006, his decision to return looked awful. It appeared as if the Packers were plunging into the basement after years of above-average records. But if you look at the Packers now, it appears as if that 4-12 campaign was the only losing season in a decade of winning or .500 level seasons. And guess what? Even with the recent success, it's still hard to say whether Favre's decision was wrong or right until 3-4 years after he retires. Suppose the Packers go 2-8 for the rest of the year. Then experts might say that the Packers had 0 winning seasons since 2004, and that Brett had made a mistake in returning. This is why it's really hard to evaluate whether a certain decision is wrong or right, because your time frame limits you.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Indians Fan Reacts to Game Seven



Ok, so maybe that individual isn't a Cleveland fan, but those last two seconds is how we feel right now. I'm not the world's biggest Indians fan, but that was just brutal. To be so close to getting that 3rd run and never getting it all night long... I have to admit, I never got too high after Game 4's 3-1 lead, and sadly that was the right reaction. I am a well-trained Cleveland fan, what can I say? Congrats to my Boston blog buds.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bloggolalia: Why Blogging Happens, a Gawker Response

The Big Lead documented this New York Magazine article and thought well of it. I do not, and thus I am posting my revised comment to The Big Lead's post as my Friday blog ramblings. In the author's rush to document Gawker, she’s put on New York blinders so strongly that she can’t see the bigger picture about blogging. Please skim the article first, as otherwise this won't make complete sense. Sorry to blog about this and not the Indians, but I already had most of this typed up from my TBL comment.

First, I disagree with this idea that the top jobs are gone, and that's why Gawker exists. It’s not that employees are moving up the ladder, then finding they can’t make $200000 anymore, and jumping to Gawker. No, Gawker and Co are being run by very young employees in their 20’s who usually have been unable to find a job in the mainstream. And the average readers tend to be people in their 20’s, out of college, on their first job or two. Why?

Because there just aren’t good jobs for people coming out of school the way there used to be. So there’s this large segment of the population that is underemployed, in my view, and that’s where a lot of your bloggers and commenters are coming from. These people have been achievers for a while, joined lots of clubs or played sports in high school, had this really balanced life…and now they’re working at a boring job for 40K. So they turn to blogging as a hobby, and because they aren’t really able to use their full range of gifts at their current job. It's not the creative underclass in writing; it's the underemployed in society at large that are driving blogs right now. It's not that technology has changed since circa Geocities and 1997; it's that society and we have changed. Innovation happens when society is ready for it, not before.

I would also note a slight decrease in friendships because we move around more as people; thus, on-line community looks more attractive than it normally would. In addition, there’s a delay in growing up in our society; we marry, get that stable job, buy houses, etc., a little later in life than before. So it’s like adolescence is extended…and instead of having our small high school group to party and gossip with, we instead move to media culture, celebrity, or sports culture to fill that adolescent void, ha. Gawker is like a substitute for the high school/college atmosphere in some ways, no?

Finally, Nick Denton’s plan of turning contributors into commenters…it’s a trend that bloggers think they can turn their contributors into field reporters/writers and get this gigantic swarm of worker bees. It’s not going to happen. Why? Readers are lazy. As soon as it becomes work, not fun, they’ll quit. Sure, people are excited to be a part of Web 2.0 now. But I think a lot of it is a fad. I’m getting burned out on commenting, personally; it takes too much time from my job, and the pay-offs are too low. Over time, the rewards for commenting are just not high enough yet. And quite honestly, I'm tired of sites constantly trying to turn their readers and commenters into slaves for the greater glory of the site. I know that many of the site owners mean well...but I know others just want us to do their work for them. That's ok only up to a certain point. Yes, your site is free...but my time isn't.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

AV Wednesday: Kids Love Sports



You have to watch this video for the sake of the kid who shows up around the 1:02 mark. He references Super Bowl history and his fantasy football team...and he's what, 10? See, a lot of times we like to think that as adults, we are so much smarter than children. Sure, we have schooling and experience, and they don't. But I look back to some of my thoughts and ideas as a kid...and I have to think, not bad. I knew my baseball stats much better then, because I used to study my baseball cards methodically. Ha, ok, thinking outside of sports, perhaps I had better morals and perspective then, too.

I would say after watching this video, don't be too quick to turn your back on your "young" self, to think that you must leave your past completely behind as you grow. On the other hand, don't let your birth age or current age define you. I'm struck by how many bloggers complain about their favorite sports team or ESPN or what not because "It's not like it was when it was growing up." That might be true, but it can also trap you into comparing everything to how it was at some idealized age. Or, you're so obsessed with being 22 and being in college, let's say, that you don't dare do anything that doesn't fit with what a 22-year-old would do. Stretch yourself outside of your age; I can't remember the last time I spent some time with little kids. And looking at this video, I'm missing out; they are funny and refreshing.

Wow, that was a lot of moralizing. Sorry.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jesus Plays Sports: Paul Byrd's ESPN Interview

Take a look. It's rare that I do a post that contains one link and no real commentary. But I thought it would be worthwhile to have an open forum on what you think about faith in sports. See, when I first started to write on this blog, I wanted to bring it up more. But there really weren't any stories out there. Now, in the past two months, it's been all over the place, with Jon Kitna, the Rockies, and now this Paul Byrd interview. So read the interview and tell me what you think.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Posterized: The Weak and the Elderly

UPDATE: The Starting Five has split up. Long-range, I think it'll help the writers to be separate. But short-range...to me, this was the best thinking-man's sports blog out there.

For this week, I decided to focus on some unlikely heroes. The aging Trot Nixon and Vinny Testaverde and the unlikely play-off bound Rockies are the poster topics for this week.




My mini-rant is on the attention paid to the Rockies' Christian leanings. I think that Christians in positions of power need to be very careful about subjecting non-Christians to Christian standards. That said, banning pornography and playing music with obscene lyrics from the workplace is hardly an unusual move. It's not as if most workplaces outside sports allow those things either.

I'm more cynical about columnists' reasons for questioning the Rockies. Think back to changes in the default athletic culture over the years--whether it's coaches who are soft-spoken instead of drill sergeants (Tony Dungy), using mathematical know-how to design a team (Moneyball with Oakland), or a change in the dominant demographics (majority black, Latino, or Christian players). Usually, what we saw initially in all those cases are columnists' harshly judging these changes. It's made to sound as if the previous culture made no demands on anyone, and all these new quiet or smart or black or Christian people are ruining everything.

However, this is a manipulation of the truth. The dominant culture (or if you will, government) ALWAYS coerces follower personalities to do what it wants. We just don't recognize the type of coercion after we have lived in it for a while. To pretend as if the new culture is coercive and the previous culture was not is revising the truth.

The main question instead is, which type of behaviors do you want the dominant culture to push on people? And after the deaths of Beck, Hancock, Caminiti and other baseball players due to rampant substance abuse, I think the Rockies style deserves a try. Even though as a Christian, I have some concerns about the Rockies's decisions (Christians are called to influence and infiltrate the dominant culture, rather than create their own separate culture), I think that this is an improvement over the default sports culture. So I'd ask you as well, dear reader, to keep an open mind.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Shawn Marion Fourth Person

At first, I wasn't sure I sympathized with Shawn Marion. After all, he's a top player on one of the top teams in the league. Why would he want to go somewhere else? Then I dug a little deeper into my past...see, I fulfilled a similar role to Shawn when I was a teenager. I hated being a mediocre player on a great team, while hating myself for hating it. Make any sense? So I tried my hand at a fourth-person take, set during last-season, on how I think Shawn feels...plus candid Shawn Marion photos.



You are Shawn Marion, it's 5:30 PM, and you're in New York...no, Cleveland...eh, you can't remember any more. Wait, it's New York. You are looking at the scouting report, and realizing that New York really lacks star power. In fact, it's pretty clear to you that if you went to New York right now, you would be their best player. Shawn Marion, the king of New York...much better than Phoenix. Maybe then you would get a local fast food commercial in your area, instead of all those car dealerships.




You are Shawn Marion, it's 11:00 PM, and you are resting after another Suns victory. It felt so good; the team felt like a machine. And you were in the middle of it all, deflecting balls meant for Eddy Curry, denying Crawford the ball...you helped make it happen. The New York media covered the game...of course, not many reporters talked to you, but enough. Maybe this team can win the championship...



You are Shawn Marion, it's 1:00 AM, and you're sitting in the airport terminal. You wonder where you should go on vacation this year. Definitely a Caribbean island, but which one? Just somewhere different...after all, you went to school at UNLV and then played at Phoenix for the last decade. That's not a lot of variety. The desert is ok, but what would it be like to play in a town where it snowed? Eh, you'd probably hate it...but what if it were Boston or somewhere with lots of basketball tradition?

me and shawn marion

You are Shawn Marion, it's 3:00 AM on the plane, and you find yourself wondering who you are, because you can't sleep. You've played on the same team for 9 years, and you've never truly been the man on that team.
You increased your average the first four years, dropped back a little bit the year Steph got traded and Amare was hurt...and since then, your stat line has leveled out. Your assist numbers are down, as are your turnovers, because you don't get to handle the ball anymore in Coach Mike's offense. In the Knicks game, you got to take someone off the dribble once the entire game. This for a quick 6'7" guy who's a matchup nightmare for big or small guys. It's been a long time since they chose you to guard Michael Jordan in his last All-Star Game down the stretch.

Suns Game!

You are Shawn Marion, it's 3:30 AM on the plane...What about the Hall of Fame? Scottie got in, but he played for other teams after Chicago. And, Scottie was the second-best player, not the #3 player. Is Dennis Rodman going to make it to the Hall of Fame as the energy guy on those teams? You don't think so. Who is your role model in being the #3 player on a contender? James Worthy, who people still question his Hall of Fame credentials? Kevin McHale, who had to put up with Bird's disdain, or the nearly invisible Robert Parrish? Sam Cassell from the Rocket years? Manu Ginobili? Glen Rice on the Lakers?! Yeah, great choices.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

You are Shawn Marion, it's 4:00 AM on the plane, and you're wondering when Amare is going to learn a real post move...and play some defense. Sure he blocked Tim Duncan that one time--so what? Tim Duncan can't jump, and everyone in the league knows it. You're sick of bailing him out on D.



You are Shawn Marion, it's 4:30 AM on the plane, and your knee is still throbbing from that collision with David Lee. you think about faking an injury. Hey, when Steve missed those games the first season he was on the team, and we went 1-5, that's when everyone started yammering about how great Steve was for our team. You wonder about how quickly Stephon Marbury and Jason Kidd were forgotten in Phoenix. And when Amare went down, everyone started talking about him and wondering if he'd come back the same. Of course, the team still had a great record without him. You smile in the darkness; you took care of that. No way that people were going to think that the Suns were the Steve and Amare show. Hate is a great motivator. But you think, with your luck, Boris Diaw would take your job and the team would do even better.

Shawn Marion w/Fahed's children

You are Shawn Marion, and you drift off to sleep at 5:00 AM, wishing you couldn't see the flaws so clearly in this team. Championship? No way. You just know everyone too well, and you can pinpoint each flaw by now. You want to write a column about it, just so it's clear that you could do the sportswriters job better than they can. But everyone would know who wrote it...maybe an anonymous blog? Oh, it's just not worth it. You know, and that's what counts. You wish you didn't care so much about what people thought about you, but it's who you are by now. If you demand a trade, and the team fails (which it will whether you leave or not), you'll get the blame, and get even less respect than you do now. Of course, if you stay, you already know the end of the story. So doomed if you do, doomed if you don't. And then, 20 years of going to trading card conventions, wishing you had spoken up while you could have been traded? No thanks.

Shawn Marion

Guest Blogging: Red Sox Monster, and video

I posted about the Indians and how hard it is to figure out their true talent at the Red Sox Monster. Yes, that's the site that brought you oodles and oodles of goofy baseball fan video this season. But Dan also posts these cool word-like things on the page too, ha, it's not just video. Check out his excellent article trying to figure out why a Red Sox fan was physically beaten, for example.

Oh, and let me flip a video onto the pile myself: it's Tobin Heath and Casey Nogueira (US U-20 soccer players) competing in a soccer ball trick battle. I've always wanted to get into one of these in basketball.


Eh, while I'm at it, a rant. I was watching Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman's scripted banter on Jimmy Kimmel Live the other night. And it made me think about how ideal stereotypes can go terribly wrong. Kimmel fits the stereotype of being a laid-back yet professional fraternity boy. Hypothetically, old people should think he looks like a nice normal boy, and young people should appreciate his edginess. However, to me he reminds me more of that guy at parties whose politeness and sincerity is a mile wide and an inch deep. This is more of the real Jimmy Kimmel personality to me:

Additionally, most skits on the show are based on an idea frat boys at 2AM think sounds really cool, but is actually quite lame in execution. Believe it or not, ethnic/elderly jokes done by ethnic/elderly people aren't funny to everyone.

And what about Sarah Silverman? (I'll get to sports momentarily, promise). Stereotype is she looks like the girl next door but says outrageous things like the guy next door. Man words with woman parts-great idea, right? But in actuality, that stereotype isn't that cool; think about it. You're shooting baskets or what not, a girl comes over to join you, and it's great to be playing sports with a girl. That is, until you realize that she drops an obscenity every time she misses a shot, and burps and farts on the court more than you do. That's not exactly what becoming "one of the guys" is about. (Per Man Law #4236, I'm not allowed to reveal the details, but it involves face paint, drums, fried rattlesnake, and merry-go-rounds). If said girl reacts that way when she misses a shot, how she would react if we would make a mistake on a date? So some guys tend not to go for that type of girl...then such girls wonder why "guys won't ask me out" when they try so hard to be one of the guys. Admittedly, it's a stereotype double standard of sorts. Guys say they want their girls to be more "down-to-earth", but they usually don't mean "earthy" per se. It's similar to when girls say they want to date a "nice guy". They don't mean a Boy Scout, they just mean "don't beat me and steal all my stuff while I'm sleeping like my last boyfriend did."

Anyway, bottom line is, the same "bait-and-switch" when it comes to stereotypes happens in sports, especially football. We say we want this feel-no-pain, throw darts, hard-living QB...and then we bash Brett Favre for using painkillers to keep up that image. We say we want super-intelligent coaches who only care about winning...and then we bash Bill Belichick for having no personality. We say we want these acrobatic wide receivers who celebrate in the end zone and want the ball really bad...and then we bash Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson for complaining too much when they don't get the ball, or over-celebrating. Frankly, what we think we want or say we want and what we actually want are two different things. The sooner fans and media realize that, the better.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Top 10 Comment Sections in Sports Blog-Land, 1-5

See Part 1 here. Once again I am joined by my acerbic fictional alter-ego, MR CAPS, representing the best and worse of cynical commenting:

5. Yaysports
Ask me a few months ago, and this site would be a few spots higher. The Cavalier’s hilarious pictures and outrageous posts inspire bitingly funny comments from regulars like Jack Cobra, Boney, StillaJew, Roger, Becky, Jordi, and Tony Parker. The Cavalier also often shows up in the comment section to spice things up. However, being an NBA-only blog it gets pretty quiet in the off-season.

YOU FORGET TO MENTION THAT HALF OF THOSE READERS HAVE NOT POSTED IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS, THEY HAVE BEEN REPLACED BY FRAT BOYS WHO FAIL TO RECOGNIZE THAT COLLEGE IS THE BEST TIME OF THEIR LIVES AND SHOULD NOT BE WASTED ON INTERNET COMMENT SECTIONS.

Best time as in the only time in life one must balance a full-time job, a full-time class schedule, and a full-time debt load?

DON’T FORGET FULL-TIME BABE WATCHING. "PARDON ME, NEW FRESHWOMAN, BUT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A HEART-BREAKING EXPERIENCE WITH AN OLDER MALE STUDENT TO RUIN YOUR FIRST YEAR OF SCHOOL? MR CAPS CAN INSPIRE AT LEAST 20 WHINY BLOG POSTS AND 30 DRUNK DIALS, GUARANTEED! AND DO YOU ALSO HAVE A POOR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FATHER? YES?"

I support eugenics and forced castration programs only if they involve MR CAPS.

HARSH

4. The Starting Five
Posts talk about controversial acts of omission and commission in media coverage, which inspires a lot of interesting commentary. In addition, this site has a lot of unique and regular commenters you won’t see elsewhere. The comments are usually somewhat smart and lengthy, but can also be funny. And you usually can get responses to your comments. If you asked me a month ago, this site gets ranked higher.

I AM STILL NOT SURE WHICH COMMENT LAST WEEK CAUSED YOU TO RATE IT LOWER, MC BIAS. LET ME THINK…WAS IT (A) THE COMMENT WITH ANTI-SEMITISM? (B) THE COMMENT WITH CRACKPOT THEORIES ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF BLACK PEOPLE? (C) THE COMMENT WITH AN INJUNCTION TO BLACK MEN TO STAY AWAY FROM WHITE WOMEN? (D) THE COMMENT WITH THE F-BOMB DROPPED ON YOUR SORRY ALIAS WHILE TRYING TO BE NICE?

I refuse to pick just one. Yes, there have been a few too many extremists playing both white and black bigot cards lately, and the comment section’s getting a little too long. Pity; the site is becoming a victim of its own success.

OR, ITS SUCCESS IS MAKING ITS READERS THAT DO NOT FIT A CERTAIN TEMPLATE INTO VICTIMS.

I’ll believe my opinion for now, MR CAPS. It’s still one of the best sites out there, even if many other sports blogs don't give it credit for the original reporting it does.

3. Deadspin
I really want to rate the site that made commenting cool a few slots higher. Will sets up posts like a pro for the masses to make jokes on, and the open-hearted, I-love-my-readers style of the site is charming. DU!AN made it socially acceptable for commenting to occur after work hours. Plus, they have a commenting intern too, who writes columns!

FACT: THREE OUT OF TEN DEADSPIN READERS WHO ATTEMPT TO READ A COMPLETE COMMENT SECTION SUBSEQUENTLY SUFFER FROM VISION IMPAIRMENT, INCLUDING OUTRIGHT BLINDNESS OR VISIONS OF DANCING SKIP BAYLESS HEADS LEVITATING ABOVE LEATHER JACKETS.

I know it’s a long comment section, but it’s usually worth reading.

FACT: 100% OF THE FUNNY DEADSPIN COMMENTERS GO START THEIR OWN BLOGS. ONLY THE LESS TALENTED REMAIN, TO POST “LOOK AT ME! I BE FUNNY!” STYLE COMMENTS.

That number can't be fact. After all, I started my own blog, and I'm not that funny. And being funny IS the point; write something so funny that people must respond.

EXCEPT THAT SOME NEWER, LESS TALENTED COMMENTERS HAVE OCCASIONALLY RESORTED TO RACIST ATTEMPTS THAT AREN'T FUNNY OR HAVE LITTLE TO DO WITH THE POST. HUMOR IS THE GOAL, NOT INAPPROPRIATE AND BIASED SOCIAL COMMENTARY.

Yes, by all means, leave the bias to me. I’m going to have to agree with you for once. But it's just a few bad apples, and...

ALL YOUR FUNNY ARE BELONG TO ME. MR CAPS IS INVICTUS!

And immediately disagree, sigh.

2. The Big Lead
One of the largest blogs that still allows commenters to direct-link their names to their sites. Thus, lots of smaller bloggers hang out here. Comment section rarely gets past 40, so you can read the comments in one sitting. Also, perhaps the funniest crew of haters (Jay the Most Hated, Lozo, The Maj) on any site.

THE BIG LEAD'S RANKING SHOULD BE PENALIZED FOR ITS RELENTLESS BAITING OF MIDWEST TEAMS TO DRIVE UP VIEWS AND COMMENTS.

They’ve been right so far on the Bears and on Notre Dame. Look, it’s a decent site, and the best complaints other commenters have is that they don’t like TBL’s taste in movies.

DON’T FORGET THE WHINING OF COMMENTERS TRAPPED AT WORK BEGGING FOR MORE PICTURES OF STARLETS IN LESS THAN CONCEALING CLOTHING. IT’S A SPORTS BLOG, NOT TMZ OR WWTDD.

Still a solid #2.

1. Free Darko
Highbrow posting leads to funny, smart, and detailed comments. Stupid commenters are kept too busy looking at the random pictures in the posts or scratching their heads about what the post meant to comment. For some reason I haven’t been here often, but I should have been.

NOT EVEN THE WRITERS OF FREE DARKO KNOWS WHAT FREE DARKO IS ACTUALLY ABOUT IN ANY GIVEN POST, WHICH MAKES THE SITE EVEN MORE FREE DARKO…IF ANYONE KNEW WHAT FREE DARKO WAS. BUT I UNDERSTAND IT ALL.

Really? You know, maybe you do have something worthwhile to share and I should post this intelligence-insulting routine more often. Go ahead.

ABOUT TIME! LOOK AT THE WEB-SITE SIDEWAYS IN A MIRROR AND REALIZE THAT IT’S REALLY THE PUBLISHED MEMOIRS OF DARK O’ FREE, A FORMER SLAVE. HE, NOT NAISMITH, ACTUALLY INVENTED BASKETBALL. THE SITE IS JUST POSTING THE 453 PAGE UNPUBLISHED THESIS OF DR. LAWYER INDIAN CHIEF.

That is the stupidest thing I have ever read and is offensive on so many levels. You have run out of things to say, haven’t you?

BOXERS AND LAWNGERIE BEARING THE MR CAPS LABEL SEND A MESSAGE TO THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE THAT YOU ARE LOUD, PROUD, AND IN CHARGE. PURCHASE THEM FOR AN APPROPRIATE DONATION AT

Why am I not surprised you can’t spell lingerie? For the last time, no merchandise sales for you. This list is over!

Again, I am posting about my betters and just having a little fun with them. Feel free to tell me what cool comment sections I missed in the comments.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Posterized: Midwest Tough

I was hoping to feature all sorts of exciting action from the first round of the baseball play-offs...and three of the series are already sweeps. Oh well, more time for Indians/Yankees. (Click poster for larger view)

For my mini-rant, I'd like to thank the New York City media for doing their usual freak out job when confronted with anything different. Little did I know that the hordes of summer mites (aka Canadian Soldiers) in Game 2 were such a threat to life and limb. It's hard for us Midwesterners to compete in suffering with the Florida hurricanes, California fires, and Texas heat; maybe that's why we're sometimes stereotyped as nice and quiet. East Coast might talk smack to your face, South talks smack behind your back, West Coast, um, does smack, but the Midwest! Ah, we let our actions do the smack-talking. We heroically trudge through swarms of flies, mixed with snow. That's us earnest Midwestern types. Is this a good time to mention that I have jogged through swarms of summer mites without swatting once? Yes, that's me, Midwest tough. Please, ladies, don't swarm to me all at once--although of course, if I can handle those vicious, 1 millimeter, non-biting mites, I can handle any swarm.