Friday, February 29, 2008
First, to no one's surprise, blogs that are funny and find content dominate.
Second, it's surprising that there are so few blogs that focus on finding serious content. Perhaps that's because this is what sites like ESPN.com and CNNSI.com do best, and we can't compete with that? Regardless, that's why I started the SmartSports link feature on Thursdays; it seems to be an under-represented category.
Third, the other big surprise is the lack of blogs that create funny content. I admittedly was demanding on my definitions; by create, I mean that you either break new news, or make your own photo/video content. Perhaps some of the sites that do fictional re-creations of serious stories should get more creating credit than I gave them.
So now that you know where the gaps are--is it worthwhile starting a blog to find smart sports stories, or to start a blog to create funny sports videos? I'm not sure. There are a lot of people who love reading funny sports stories; are there as many people who are willing to wait for your weekly "FunSports" video as would want to read 20 stories modified from other news sources? Maybe not. But it's still an interesting gap to be aware of.
Sarah Pavan is a top volleyball player at Nebraska. Due to mentioning some problems with team chemistry in an interview with a school magazine, she was barred from attending practices (she had completed her eligibility, but still practiced with the team). Sarah was a great athlete (2006 MVP for college female athletes across ALL sports) who also seemed to be a perfectionistic, delicate individual. After all, as a high school senior, she cried when she realized she was going to have to tell another school she was going to Nebraska and wouldn't attend their university.
Which (finally!) gets me to my subject. What to do with these stories that we find as bloggers, the stuff we think people really need to know about?
Write: I was angry at the way the story was being slanted to blame Sarah for the team's problems. If her comments about poor team chemistry were not true or she misunderstood, then why was the coach so upset, and why was she being told to apologize? It seemed like Sarah had a legitimate complaint, and now she was being punished for it. The story was being covered up by the University of Nebraska. But if I write it on my little blog, even if a large blog links to it, I'm only getting 1-3K hits. It's always fun to increase my hit count, but is that really the goal with a story like this?
Pass: I could try to ship the story to someone at ESPN.com or a large sports outlet. But they probably don't care about women's volleyball. I could try to get more people in Lincoln to write about it, but that already happened. The volleyball forumboards are already buzzing, for what that's worth. Or, I could pass it along to a sports blog that many people read, that would give the article its proper coverage. Perhaps then, a larger media outlet would also pick it up. But which sports blog? And would they give the story the treatment it deserves, or just make fun of everyone in the story?
Kill: There's a good argument to be made that sometimes bloggers do more harm than good by covering a story. While I definitely want to know if ESPN personalities are overstepping their bounds and manipulating stories, I could care less about what they do at some office party. Maybe I should just leave the story alone, and let it die a quiet death. For all I know, this very moment Sarah and her coach are reconciling, and the team is welcoming her back. An article would just stir up more tension and anger, and I would feel bad about that. There's a lot of interesting backstory to this conflict here, which I wasn't aware of when I made my decision. Maybe the story was blown out of proportion, or maybe the coach was actually trying to teach Sarah a lesson she desperately needs. Who knows?
In the end, I decided to pass: I shipped the story to The Big Lead, who did a masterful job assembling the story. But it was quite a dilemma, and so I ask you bloggers, what do you do when confronted with this issue? (Oh, by the way, credit also goes to Fynal Cut for discussing the story).
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Think about it when you watch this video--is Lebron James the fastest man in the NBA, given his weight? He's what, 6'8", 240? Watch him get down the floor in this video in which he scores his 10,000th point. Pause this video when it starts at the 1second mark, and you'll see that Lebron is at best the 8th closest man to the basket. To make it tougher, he's busy playing defense when this play starts, and then has to sidestep a fallen teammate. Garnett is at the 3-point line while Lebron is still under the basket!
What happened? Lebron sprints down the floor, beats everyone back, and scores. He does this in 5 seconds at most--time it yourself via the Youtube clock. It's ridiculous that a 6'8" guy can get down the court that quickly. I know the other players slow down a little bit in the halfcourt, but Lebron's speed is evident.
Tom Friend gives the detailed story of Tony Gwynn Jr's hit that helped force the Padres into that play-off with the Rockies.
NBA perception issues still limit the league from taking advantage of its current crop of marketable superstars.
A look back at what happens to Internet social networks when they are no longer cool. Bloggers should take a lesson from this before they start believing that sports blogs are here to stay.
Stephanie is an undervalued sports blogger who more people should know about. Here she uses her legal training to explain why Matt Walsh won't tell all the details of SpyGate yet.
Juiced Sports Blog is trying blogger forums. There's still a market for a blogger hangout that hasn't yet been filled. Perhaps this is the answer? It's still a thoughtful idea.
Just to shake up your opinion on what belongs on this list, here's a Kissing Suzy Kolber post that displays original thinking and makes a smart point. I know, you're thinking "But I thought KSK was all about comedy." They are, but this post idea was particularly inspired. They realized too many bloggers sit around praising each other and ripping the mainstream instead of taking a look in the mirror, and made a great post about it. Although I'm kind of disappointed no one mentioned this blog--quick, someone go rip on me for being a pretentious goodie-two-shoes, ok?
Tech Tools for Bloggers:
If you're interested in starting a blog, don't just consider blogger.com and wordpress.com; take a look at squarespace.com
Each week I'll be correcting a blog post that showed flawed logic or bias without acknowledging it. I'm tired of us going after mainstream media while giving our own blogger-folk massive passes. I'm a wuss unless I go after my betters, and this time my target is the usually thoughtful MJD on the Kelvin Sampson scandal. I like MJD's writings, and his NFL Smorgasboard makes me LOL on each paragraph. But MJD wrote a prescriptive sports column, which in itself is somewhat of a mistake. Any time a sports columnist starts telling players and coaches what they should do, that sports columnist runs the risk of being too judgmental or coming across as arrogant. I did feel MJD was too judgmental of those Indiana players (but not arrogant), and here's why.
First, those players did not sign up to play for Indiana; they signed up to play for Kelvin Sampson. Those players could have gone to 50 other colleges in the country. They chose Indiana because they liked and trusted Sampson. So MJD's point that Kelvin should tell the players they signed up for Indiana first, although perhaps true in letter, is false in spirit.
Second, tell me how many coaches with a W-L record 18 games over .500 get fired in mid-season in college basketball history--or even tell me how many coaches get fired in mid-season, period. This isn't an every day event! He got fired for essentially being too social with the players, too enthusiastic about calling them. How can they not miss such a coach? Kelvin's firing is not business as usual in college basketball. Thus asking the players to immediately conform to normal standards as if the firing was normal isn't fair.
Third, the players met and asked that McCallum be made head coach; instead, Dakich was put in charge. So the players' least favorite coach is now in charge; how could they not be somewhat upset? They have every right to quit the team if they want to; they're not slaves. Sure, they may have to lose their scholarship as a penalty for their free speech option, but they have every right to express themselves. MJD claiming that their action was the result of immaturity and telling them to grow up was unfair. I think the young men may also be showing maturity in being willing to risk their future careers for a coach they loved and respected. I'm sure DJ White knows the NBA is watching, right? And it's clear from the after story that Dakich and the D.J. White Six found a compromise after a few days. Of course, MJD didn't have time to write that update; how could he, when exciting topics like the Montana Tech Orediggers are just begging for a post?
Finally, let's put ourselves in the Indiana players' shoes for a moment, shall we? Let's start with a hypothetical story. Let's say that, just as what happened at Indiana, the original boss who hired you at a company is leaving. Oh, let's give him a name...like "Mottram", just for the story's sake. Now let's suppose that you had the opportunity to stay with the company that hired you and a new boss. Let's call them "Fanhouse" and "Ness", respectively, just to give it a name and add flavor to the story. According to your article's logic, you should stay with your company, not with your boss. After all, your checks are signed by "Fanhouse", not "Mottram", right? And you wouldn't want to walk out on your blogger colleagues; they're your teammates, right?
Or...let's say hypothetical you could follow your old boss "Mottram" to a new place once you give Fanhouse the required days of notice and non-compete clauses no longer apply. Let's call "Mottram's" new place "Yahoo! Sports Blog", shall we? There, you could write columns in which you admonish college students for daring to miss a fired coach with a record of 22-4 who was like a father figure to them (see Gordon quote). There, no one would point out to you the irony in your judging the Indiana players situations given your own choice. What would you choose?
I want to make it clear that MJD didn't do anything wrong or unethical by going to Yahoo! in that not-so-hypothetical story. But I wish MJD realized that the players weren't in the wrong, either, for initially preferring their old boss; after all, he apparently has done much the same in his own work career. It's never pretty when bloggers rush to judgment without keeping an open mind, and for that MJD earns the Flawed Blog honor. (MJD, should you somehow come across this, feel free to comment should you so choose. I respect your writings, just think you had an off day.)
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
First, the original music video:
The popular Daft Hands video (15 million views):
The Daft Bodies video, made by two pre-med students taking a break from school
And finally a well-done dance to the video
Monday, February 25, 2008
To help you stay awake, these NBA Monday posts will also feature some NBA player candid photos. Today's victim is Shane Battier.
I started thinking about how this problem of mine applies to the NBA, and it actually fits quite well. That's why a big man is so vital to winning championships; they create easy buckets from post-ups. And then it becomes clear why Michael Jordan was able to be an exception to that rule. He and Scottie Pippen were 6'6"+ masters of the dribble-drive, which is the only other way a team can obtain easy buckets. Thus, the Easy Bucket Principle is as follows:
No NBA team can win a championship without at least one player being able to create his own shot in the lane.
Look back at your championship teams, and you'll see that this applies to nearly every champion in the last 25 years, whether it's via the postup to Duncan, O'Neal, Abdul-Jabbar, McHale, and Olajuwon, or the dribble-drive of Jordan, Pippen, Bryant, and Erving. Look at the teams that couldn't quite win the championship, and they contain plenty of excellent point guards that couldn't finish at the rim (Johnson, Payton, Price, Stockton, Starks) and high-scoring forwards/centers that didn't rely on a post-up game enough (Barkley, Kemp, Nowitski, Ewing). In fact, perhaps this helps explain the Ewing Theory; Sprewell off the dribble-drive was a better source of easy baskets than a Ewing post-up. The exception to the principle, admittedly, is the Detroit Pistons in the late 80's. (The Detroit Pistons of 2004 used Rasheed Wallace post-ups extensively when Karl Malone got hurt in the Finals, so they still sort of count.)
The good folks at 82games.com did a study on points in the paint and found that, although helpful, it's not a perfect indicator. I would argue that the problem is that a skilled point guard or fast break offense can inflate a team's true easy bucket capability. To clarify by example, I do not consider Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Amare Stoudamire, or Zydrunas Ilguskas to be sources of easy buckets. None possess a true post-up game or the size to consistently score on bigger players via the dribble-drive. In addition, the true usefulness of a source of easy buckets is late in the game, where players are too tired and defenses are too tight to create buckets via jump shots or dribble-penetration. It is then that easy buckets are most needed.
Random photo of Shane Battier II; don't you just love the Duke basketball polo shirt?
Given that principle, let's analyze the trades of the last month:
1. LA Lakers obtain Pau Gasol. By the Easy Bucket Principle, this is an awesome trade. Kobe Bryant still is a source of easy buckets, but as he has aged, he's a little less likely to slash all the way to the hole. Adding Pau Gasol's postup threat is a great move and makes them a championship contender.
2. Phoenix Suns obtain Shaquille O'Neal. By the Easy Bucket Principle, this is even better than the Gasol trade. While he's looked old recently, Shaq is the Easy Bucket MVP over the past decade. The Phoenix Suns get rid of Shawn Marion, who was not at all a source of easy buckets. Although he scored often in the lane, those were usually a result of hustle plays or Nash feeds.
3. Dallas Mavericks obtain Jason Kidd. By the Easy Bucket Principle, this is a useless trade. Jason Kidd isn't big enough or fast enough to score off the dribble-drive on a regular basis. Although he may help pass the ball to shooters or cutters, the Easy Bucket Principle could care less. What's worse is this entire Dallas Mavericks team lacks a source of easy buckets until Dirk learns to score in the post.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers obtain Ben Wallace and Wally Szerbiak (not spelled correctly). By the Easy Bucket Principle, this is worse than making no trade at all. Drew Gooden had a post-up game of sorts; Ben Wallace has none. Larry Hughes could get to the basket off dribble-drives on occasion, when he wasn't taking bad shots; Wally Szerbiak can only wait around for the ball to be passed to him for a 3-point shot. There's an argument to be made that Ben and Wally enhance Lebron's own position as a source of easy baskets. But I have severe doubts even on that count. Ben will clog the lane more than Drew did and not finish as well, while Wally is only useful to Lebron when Lebron posts up or penetrates far enough that he could finish on his own sans pass. Although I thought this deal was great when I first looked at it, it's a failure according to the Easy Bucket Principle. Chicago may actually have obtained the best players in the deal.
So what do you think of the Easy Bucket Principle? Is it nonsense? Common sense? Let me know in the comments. By the way, my thanks to truehoop.com for Friday's link. Several new commenters left interesting points of analysis that made me think deeper about the post.
Friday, February 22, 2008
When I saw this commercial, I was a little troubled by Nike's borrowing of the black church to use as a symbol to sell shoes. That clapping, dancing, and standing up isn't a song-and-dance routine; it's how many black Christians express their love and devotion to Jesus. On one level, it could be seen as Nike telling young black Christians to shift their allegiances to Lebron. However, I figured I was reading too much into the commercial, and moved on.
Next came the Witness commercial with the tagline "We are all witnesses".
Where does that tagline come from, you might ask? It's a near-direct quote from Acts 3 of the Bible, which refers to the disciples being witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
You might argue that that's a mere coincidence...but note the end of the commercial above. It says "Believe at nike.com." Why did they choose the word "believe"? Why not "watch" or "enjoy"? This once again represents a deliberate attempt by Nike to associate Lebron James with Christian imagery. In this case, they are essentially equating Lebron James to be the equal of Jesus Christ. Far out, isn't it? Too crazy to be true! I once again thought I was over-reacting, though. It had to be coincidence, right? But wait, this is the second time Nike has done something like this...
Then, I received my latest copy of SLAM magazine, with a cover story on Lebron James. Inside the magazine's front cover was this ad:
That thought is the exact opposite of Matthew 7:7-8, in which Jesus encourages his followers that he is a generous God who will provide for them. It reads as follows
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
No longer content with treading on the edge of blasphemy to sell shoes and worship the almighty dollar, Nike kicks the church door down with this ad. The first time it's funny, the second time it's creepy, the third time it shows a deep lack of respect for both religion and the customer. It's clear to me that the Nike corporation will steal any religious or racial imagery that could help them sell a few more pairs of shoes. Doubt me? Then take a look at the Nike ad that got banned in China for showing Lebron overcoming Chinese symbols and gods:
Nike is no longer marketing Lebron as an athlete, or even a role model. They are marketing Lebron as a god stronger than your cultural gods, whether they be Jesus or Confucius. I would be upset at this god marketing, but I don't think that Jesus is worrying about the competition's strength until Lebron can muster enough moral authority to sign a petition on Darfur. But that's just me.
Add this latest offense to what Nike's already done in stealing principles from feminism and using images of pit bulls to sell shoes, and there's plenty of reasons for people of any belief system to buy Reebok or Adidas. I have a feeling such an action would be the only ritual or belief that Nike will respect.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
LZ, I've usually enjoyed reading your columns and found them informative. I read your latest article on ESPN.com about your adventure in New Orleans, where you apparently had an alteraction with a drunken group of men who tried to beat you up. While I am curious what exactly you said to those drunken boors to trigger physical violence, I'll take your word for it that you were the innocent victim in this situation. It must have been terrible to be walking along, dressed up for the party, and then have a group of men randomly yelling derogatory homosexual epithets at you. According to your own article, there was no obvious sign of your homosexuality, unless you count slightly tighter than normal clothing. You weren't kissing a guy, and it doesn't sound like your T-shirt read "I love Men", ha. Yet, this crowd somehow picked up on the fact that you are a homosexual, and hounded you for it. They grabbed at incomplete evidence, made an assumption that they had no right to make (but since when are drunks logical), and judged you as being homosexual and in need of mockery. An acquiantance once told me that this was the hardest part of being attracted to men; the feeling that it's instantly obvious to everyone that he was, and not being able to turn off those "vibes" in the presence of other people. (The more crass refer to this as "gaydar", if you will.) Perhaps that was what stung you the most and caused you to "go Detroit" on those drunks; the feeling that you were being judged on circumstantial evidence, at best, by a bunch of strangers who didn't know you and had never heard you speak. It's a cruel feeling for those different from the mainstream in appearance to suffer through.
I'm not here to lessen the emotional impact of what happened to you; in fact, I want you to fully think about how you felt on that day, when people judged you without ever understanding you. Then, think about the Brady Quinn story and its similarities to your own. Once again, we have drunk people doing stupid things. Once again, we have incomplete evidence being used to make a judgment on what someone is or isn't, on what someone did or didn't do. There was a 911 call that blamed Brady for hurling insults, but I'm sure that, being a black man, you know that people tend to blame the person who stands out from the crowd when something bad happens. Brady Quinn did get in an argument with some guy, but we don't know exactly what the two men were arguing about, and the police never arrested Brady. Instead, they arrested the other man. Perhaps there was a police coverup because he was a local sports hero; but we have no way of knowing that, do we?
So then, why pull Brady Quinn's story into your own and judge him on the basis of incomplete evidence to make a point about the NFL? The NFL has nothing to do with your own story in New Orleans; it was the NBA All-Star game. Why use stories about drunk men misbehaving late at night to make it seem as if Gay America has something to fear from the 96% of us who don't think getting drunk and intimidating people is a socially responsible act?
I promise you that if I had seen what happened to you in New Orleans, I would have helped you, because a drunken mob is a scary thing indeed when a man faces it alone. Questions of morality are best discussed over a good cup of coffee, not a trampled body. But I resent your attempt to bring additional scrutiny to a football player who already has been unfairly villified for his appearance and sexuality for the sake of furthering your own agenda. I'm a Browns fan, and I'm upset at the level of unsubstantiated gossip already attached to Brady Quinn before he's thrown 10 passes in the NFL. The man will have a hard enough time adjusting to the NFL (we all saw those Notre Dame bowl games!) without having to be punished in the court of social opinion for crimes it's not clear he ever committed. To me, it feels like you're adding to that gossip and making the same unfair judgments on someone else as what was done to you in New Orleans. There were better ways for you to prove your point than dragging Brady Quinn into the story. Your own story was a strong enough reminder that although we may disagree with our neighbor's morals, we all have a responsibility to protect our neighbors from physical harm.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
What she's most famous for: the I-Phone bill. Frankly, this video is a little boring to me, but 1 million people can't be wrong, right Ralph Nader/Ross Perot voters?
What I like the best: notTMZ.com video, which makes me laugh hysterically. I love over-aggressive, panting, chuckling cameramen!
Also, her tanning in the snow video is fun (watch the end especially): EAST COAST SIDE!
Finally, the Lifecasting video has some amusing and creative use of props plus singing.
Let me know in the comments about your favorite artists on-line (and how Michaelangelo is spinning in his grave that we call people with video cameras "artists". I couldn't think of another term!)
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I'd like to welcome new blogger S.O.L. to Blogville; his blog The End Guard has an article about how fans in Buffalo are affected by the Bills playing games in Toronto. He makes a great point; Buffalo fans LOVE the Bills, while Toronto fans are more likely just to like the NFL in general. Owners are better off with a small, enthusiastic fan base rather than a large, apathetic one, although I do feel bad for Buffalo's owner, who apparently has tried to do all he can to pay the bills and stay in Buffalo. Um, yeah, sadly I didn't notice the "pay the Bills" pun until after I typed it. Moving on...
Also, read Signal to Noise's take on Devean George's block on the Nets trade. Devean George is a veteran who is on his way out of the league. There's no way he would be signed by any team if he spends the last year of his contract benched behind Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson in New Jersey, so it made perfect sense for him to block the deal.
Finally, D-Wil perfectly embodied my own feelings about Shaq's chances for success in Phoenix. If Shaq does well in Phoenix, it looks like he was faking injury in Miami; if he does poorly, then it looks like he trapped straight arrows Steve Kerr and Mike D'Antoni into trading for his broken-down body. Good comments on this post, as well.
Monday, February 18, 2008
However, the problem is, I'm firmly entrenched in Big Ten country, and have been for most of my life. Why am I watching Big East games instead of Big Ten games?! Well, the Big Ten, in its infinite wisdom, decided that I should not be able to watch all their games unless I get a special cable package. And since I have never had cable (either it's been too expensive for me, or I'm concerned about the wasted time), I don't have a chance to watch Big Ten games. The result? My loyalties are shifting to the Big East. Oh sure, you can call me traitor and say I must not have cared that much about the Big Ten to begin with. And you'd be right, at least as far as basketball is concerned. But don't just think about that--what about the kids and teens growing up right now watching Big East ball and cheering for Marquette and Notre Dame instead of Wisconsin and Indiana? And what about the pros--will the next Lebron James be able to say he grew up watching Lebron on TV? Or, because his family's too poor to have cable, will the kid say he only saw Lebron or Kobe on bootleg videotapes and once a year in June during the Finals?
As I type this, the NBA All-Star game is going on. I love the NBA All-star festivities and believe the NBA hosts the best All-star game of all leagues. Yet, I can't watch it on my TV, because I don't have TNT. I can't even watch the NBA Western or Eastern Conference Finals without a cable package. I remember being able to watch the Cavs on basic TV as late as 2004? or so; now, you need an FSN package to watch their games. And yet, when the games were free, the Cavs were building a strong fan base in large cities like Pittsburgh and Columbus. Back then, my brother bought a Cavs play-off ticket package, and we went to more games than usual, just because we identified more with the team now that we could watch them on a regular basis. Is the short-term gain really worth losing intensity in the long-term from your fan base?
I wish I could have picked a better topic for my first NBA Monday post, but it really does annoy me. I'd love to support the NBA, and the NBA needs me based on its falling Harris poll popularity numbers. But if it takes a trip to a local sports bar or $50 a month just to get a basic game package from cable, it makes it difficult. I'm sure most of you already have cable and wonder what the big deal is. But when I was in school and lived off-campus, there was no way I could afford it; and I'm sure I'm not the only one to be in that situation. The NBA and college basketball needs to stop sacrificing tomorrow's fan base for the sake of today's dollars.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Sooze of Babes Love Baseball:
Sooze deserves a blogger Valentine because she was one of the first people to read my blog and comment on a regular basis. She gave me some tips on how to start a blog, and she was one of the first female sports bloggers. If Jamie Mottram is the Blogfather, I think there's a good argument for Sooze getting the honorary title of "Blogmother". She's also genuinely funny and finds a lot of interesting baseball stories on her blog. Sooze, thanks for the help and encouragement and for being a blog friend!
Kristine of This Suit is Not Black and the Fanhouse:
I met Kristine when I was considering whether to start a sports blog of my own or not. At the time, she was posting her sports blog on Myspace; then she decided to move her blog to Blogger. I paid close attention and asked her questions about the experience. Watching her build her blog helped build my confidence that I could do it too. She was also my first interview victim, I mean, subject, on here. What I like best about Kristine is that she is cheerful and friendly, and yet also has a wicked flavor of straight-faced sarcastic humor (see video above) that makes me laugh. Kristine, thanks for the laughs and and for being a blog friend!
Head Chick in Charge of Leave The Man Alone:
That picture she used as her avatar obviously is not HCIC (I think!), but none the less she still gets a Blogger Valentine. I worked late hours this last summer, and spent some time talking to HCIC after I got off work, and it was a pleasure. I believe she was one of the few truly original voices in the sports bloggosphere that often is over-run by Deadspin/Fanhouse clones. Whether it was providing a strong, intelligent voice as a rare black female sports blogger, using technology to pull screencaps of sports announcers for her fashion analysis posts, or relying on her legal training to analyze the Vick case and other situations, her unique talent was a pleasure to read and follow. HCIC, thanks for being willing to be different than the mediocre mainstream, and for being a blog friend!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I’m sure I’m not the only woman who would enjoy the perfect sports themed Valentine’s Day. Let’s get one thing straight first, I’m not turning down any Ice if it comes my way, but I wouldn’t be offended if February 14th, was mixed with my love of The Pistons and the special someone I love. (MCBias note: being a Cleveland fan, I didn't recognize the ice in the picture at first. Sigh.)
Every girl would love flowers and breakfast in bed to start off the day right but, give me an hour or so with the 1989-90 Pistons Championship Box set on a big screen and I’m smiling from ear to ear. As far as presents go, I will take anything Pistons related except maybe a Pistons jersey from the teal era, any self respecting Pistons fan who knows better anyway. If you really want to impress, scrounge up a vintage Joe Dumars bobble head and you will have one happy girl on your hands.
If you’re going to go all out on the perfect night for me it would have to be courtside seats at The Palace of Auburn Hills for a Pistons game. No need for candlelight, the flames at the Palace will put me in a romantic mood. I don’t need a fancy dinner, I’ll take the courtside waitress bringing drinks and snacks. I mean how can you go wrong when Sheed is 10 feet away, the only thing you need to get out of your seat for is a thunder dunk and you have your sweetheart is by your side? If a Cavalier beat down just so happens to end the night, who knows what could happen.
Gasp! My heart is given over to Lebron the Pure and his band of valorous men, and I've let a traitorous Pistons fan on to my site! Forgive me, Sir Lebron! haha. My thanks to Natalie for contributing a column, and make sure to visit the graphical gathering, the Pistophonic pandering, the sheedtasticly stupendous site that is Need4Sheed.com
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Will reads an excerpt from the John Rocker interview in his best John Rocker voice.
"Hey kids, want to hear a story about Chris Berman?"
"I have right here, in my hand, the secret to becoming a popular blogger."
At this point, Will rounded up some volunteers to help him reenact the John Rocker interview from his book.
Unfortunately, soon afterward Will broke down when forced to confront his true feelings for Rick Ankiel.
Onlookers began to whisper and look disappovingly at the unmanly show of emotion.
Will tried to speak through the tears and choked throat, but he faltered once more when remembering the one-year anniversary of Barbaro's passing:
The volunteers tried to avoid visibly reacting to Will's grief, but the conflict was evident on their faces.
Thankfully, after Will took a sip of water, he was strengthened and able to continue.
Realizing the tension in the air, Will won the crowd over during his Q&A with his comments on Stephen A Smith and whether Will considers himself a web star.
The crowd was once again won over and lined up to have their books signed by Will. (I opted for a hand-drawn photo of Barbaro, which Will drew in classic cave art style circa 9000 BC. It has four limbs! I think.)
In the end, the night was a success, as seen by the smiles of the Deadspin readers pictured.
Here are Will and friends at the after party, greeting those of you who couldn't make it. Please turn your speakers down so to limit auditory damage from the braying donkey voice of the cameraman.
Monday, February 11, 2008
So, as a reader of sports blogs or a sports blogger, is this good news or bad news? I hope to address this further at a later date. My immediate impression? This is wonderful news, and my annoyance at Web 2.0 lately may be misplaced. I think there's an opportunity out there for sports blogs to create their own communities of readers. Even better, the sports community leaders like http://www.espn.com and faniq.com imitate many facebook and myspace features. Why better? The article above leads me to believe they may be heading in the wrong direction, and thus sports blogs can still beat these market leaders at their own game. The problem is not only that ads are too pervasive on social networking sites. It's that profile pages are repetitive, boring, and still rather rudimentary, and that it's hard to find creative people and interesting content without excellent searching skills. Also, social networking sites fear giving ordinary users too much power, with the slight exception of Youtube. (The Youtube partnering system is intriguing and worth another bloggolalia post in the future). In my opinion, the way most sports blogs are set up solve many of the problems listed above while still providing a community-driven experience. Your thoughts?
Friday, February 8, 2008
"But anyone who has read Fire Joe Morgan over the years realized those guys were too good not to be writing professionally somewhere."
Can I be honest with you? I resent the thinking behind that line (although I have the greatest respect for Book William). Is the impression, then, that all good blog writers are professionally-trained and work as writers? Thus, the sports blogs are nothing more than a slumming ground for writers with professional training? And if you're a journalist or writing major without a job, or your real writing career is boring you to tears, you start a sports blog? Or start sucking up to those writing sports blogs in hopes that they'll link to you when you get fired from your mainstream jobs? Those descriptions cover in one way or another nearly every larger blog I enjoy: Deadspin.com, TheBigLead.com, Withleather.com, thestartingfive.net, dwil.wordpress.com, truehoop.com, danshanoff.com, and yaysports.com. News that these top blogs are run by individuals with journalistic or writing training no doubt reassures the mainstream sporting media. The brotherhood remains complete, and the circle is unbroken. But why does it have to be that way?
Personally speaking, I'm angry. I want to believe that people armed with no more than a keyboard and a decent understanding of grammar and writing can become well-respected bloggers. I want to believe that Web 2.0 and blogging really were about the common man/woman getting a voice, that it was a revolution in more than just the method of communication. I don't want sports blogging to be a minor-league arena or stepping stone for journalists who can't get jobs at espn.com. Instead, I want sports blogging to be a place where lawyers, businessmen, and janitors put down the tools of their trade and show off the diversity of their skills. I want to hear analysis from women, racial minorities, and people who aren't a carbon copy of existing big media writers. And this news item, to me, is yet another smack in the face to that vision.
I am admittedly much more irritated about this than I should be. Perhaps it's because I took writing classes with future writing professionals that I lack respect for a degree as a pre-requisite to writing excellence. Those classes taught me that I could write just as well (let me drop false modesty and say better) as the students who were majoring in writing fields. I had to put my mind to it, select topics that I knew well, and work hard, but it happened. I still think that few need a writing degree to be an entertaining, interesting writer, although writers like me could use an editor to cure our rambling sentences, ha. But with this revelation from FJM, proving that became even harder for those of us who aren't professionally trained.
Postscript: I respect the writing professionals in the sports blog world; I just don't like the fact that they dominate the conversation so thoroughly. I hate the implication that much of Web 2.0 in sports blogs can just be seen as a minor league training ground for journalists and writers--a self-publication outlet of sorts. But after reviewing the evidence, I have to agree with that definition, and that makes me mad.
Do watch the AOL Fanhouse Minute if you haven't already; watch each weekday via http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/tag/FanHouseMinute/. The ladies are funny, well-spoken, and cute, and it's just one minute long.
By the way, some of you have asked why I'm posting so much lately. For one, hits have been rather high recently, so I feel like I should ride out this trend until the market no longer supports so much posting. Also, my one-year anniversary of this blog is February 11th. At the same time, I have stacks of "saved draft" posts that have been getting stale in my inbox. Thus, I thought it best to flush out the system to coincide with the end of the NFL season and the impending one-year site anniversary. Expect posting to drop significantly once we reach February 11th.
League of Awkward Quarterbacks (LAQ), Phoenix Denny’s, Sunday night…
GROSSMAN: Two more hours before Eli comes back in tears like me last year. I’m glad we decided not to watch.
RIVERS: While we wait, let’s get updates. Brady?
QUINN: I had another photo shoot for a men’s magazine! They provided me with a delicious platter of shrimp, too. The photographer asked me to take off my shirt for 4-5 pictures, but that was it. I’m finally not going to be that guy who takes awkward pictures anymore!
RIVERS: Let me guess…the article will have 4-5 pictures in it?
QUINN: Why yes, and…Oh no, Brady, Brady, there’s no such thing as free shrimp! And the magazine people seemed so nice! I never heard of their magazine, but those legal advocates love football!(Awkward silence)
GROSSMAN: Um, Brady…they’re not lawyers…
RIVERS:(hastily interrupts) Where is Vince?! How can he continue to refuse his membership in LAQ that Merrill sent? I want to return to when quarterbacks were judged by the color of their skin and their play-off games won, rather than by the content of their character!
GROSSMAN: Then why don’t Peyton and Ben attend meetings?(Eli walks in, hands hidden)
MANNING: (holds out one hand): At least Mommy finally bought me that antique Russian Samovar for being so brave…
ALL: Poor Eli!
MANNING: (holds out trophy): LOMBARDI, BI-(Ok, no way Eli would say that)
MANNING: Lombardi be ours!
ALL: LONG LIVE THE LEAGUE OF AWKWARD QUARTERBACKS!
EDIT: By the way, my thanks to the blogs who've chosen to link to MCBias articles in the last 30 days:
Here are some of my favorite entries of 2007. I originally sent this off to a blog, but they were unable to follow through with the series. So here it is, better late than never, to pay tribute to the best! It's a top 5 more than a top 10, because I'm lazy.
A favorite category is when bloggers go out there and grab a story, doing actual reporting.
D-Wil, formerly of thestartingfive.net and now of dwil.wordpress.com, worked very hard on the Michael Vick story, doing actual reporting, and had information and perspective one couldn't find elsewhere. For example, he broke the Michael Vick plea deal announcement before the AP, to my knowledge: http://dwil.wordpress.com/2007
Larry Brown Sports chased down the RGX Body Spray girl for an interview. The degree of difficulty on this one is huge—I'm not even sure how he found out her real name! Even better, she turned out to be a pleasant woman to talk to, and Larry asked classy, inspired questions.
I like it when bloggers hold bigger media accountable. Examples:
Stop Mike Lupica goes after Will Leitch. His complaint may have been not 100% correct (although I never got linked to Deadspin.com before this blog was written). But I give SML credit for posting this at the height of "If I'm mean to Deadspin, I'll never get linked again" hysteria. The comment section of this one might be even funnier than the blog itself.
Mizzo interviews Dan Le Batard, and they touch about a million hot buttons. High on the list is Mizzo asking Dan about his interview with Tim Hardaway. It'll take you forever to read it all, but it's worth it.
I cannot tell a lie; one of my own blogs is on my list. A few months ago, I wanted to rank sports blogs according to comment sections, but I didn't want to come off as a suck-up. For extra fun, I decided to fake schizophrenia. It actually kind of worked: judge for yourself here.
To make up for my narcissism, here's one for all of you bloggers. Your coverage of the Sean Taylor story was excellent. While mainstream media members were coming up with wild theories and disrespecting the dead, BLOGGERS were the voices of reason telling people to wait and see and shooting down the cruelty in the coverage. Chris Mottram, D-Wil, Unsilent Majority, and so many others got this one right to start with, and for that I'm proud to be a sports blogger. I can't link to you all, so this will have to do:
Thursday, February 7, 2008
And what the guy says in the end is worth listening to as well. It wasn't that the Giants won because Tyree was such a great Christian; many Patriots are also believers. No, it's about doing your best, and then still acknowledging God, win or lose. Take a look:
1.03 Deangelo Hall says
"I got approached to get my SAG card. You know I'm really excited about that to get my SAG card so I can say I'm not just an athlete but I'm an actor first, then an athlete."
I try to give athletes a break, but seriously, Deangelo Hall, your head is that big? You seriously think you can be more competitive as an actor rather than an athlete? Everyone has a right to do whatever they want with their talent. But if I were the Falcons head coach, I'd pull you aside and tell you that an unfocused life will take you no where. Not everyone can be an actor or entertainer. What's wrong with your current job? I know I'm being a little envious here, but isn't the NFL enough?
February: We are Tim Hardaway
March: Supporting OJ Mayo
April: I covered a sporting event live! Ok, it was the WNBA draft, but hey, it's a start. Definitely my best month of blogging; hard to pick my best entry here.
May: I had a dream about the Patriots wide receiver corps, sans Randy Moss alleged battery. This was the sign I was a little too addicted to blogging.
June: I covered the Cavs play-off journey closely. I still think that the Pistons' lack of backcourt depth is their Achilles heel come play-off time.
July: I resorted to schizophrenia to express my appreciation for Alyssa Milano. Features the worldwideweb debut of MR CAPS.
August: Blogging Laws I like to Break, Part 3. I successfully closed my efforts to annoy all my blogging friends at once.
September: From Random Sports Crush to...Interview subject?! I interviewed WNBA player Erin Buescher after having previously profiled her as a Random Sports Crush. I even got a link to ESPN.com's TrueHoop out of it.
October: Artistic effort to get inside Shawn Marion's head and understand why he wanted out of Phoenix. The idea was great; concept was a little mediocre.
November: I did have a good post for this month, but only posted twice. So forget it.
I used to be a Kobe Bryant hater back in the day, but now I think he gets a bad deal most of the time.
So what did you think about my blogs this year? What did you like, and what did you dislike? The comments belong to you.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Emergency Cheese reveals the "truth" behind the Ron Paul conspiracy theories
PZottolo does a witty news show every so often on political issues:
Mary Katherine Ham and Morra Aarons talk about the New Hampshire debates--a little old.
MelissaJenna, Obama supporter, rejoices after an Iowa victory for her candidate and makes other comments
Razela gets goofy with the 16-person Best Looking Democrats tournament:
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Fanatical Fred is the only real fan of either team at the party, and spends the entire party loudly hooting and hollering for his favorite team. You'd ask why he didn't go somewhere else to watch the game with fellow fans, but then Fred is awkward and single (What is it with fanatical fans often being real-life rejects?) and it's kind of self-explanatory.
Result: Everyone at the party starts cheering for the other team as the night wears on until Fred's outnumbered 10-1.
Numbers Ned enjoys the pre-game show and half-time analysis more than the game itself. He enjoys telling you a million obscure facts that he learned while being the only human on earth to watch every minute of every pre-game show.
Result: Intentionally mess up easy facts around Numbers Ned, just to make him flip out. "It's very impressive that the Patriots have won 17 games in a row, isn't it Ned?" "Hey Ned, is it good or bad that the receiver dropped that ball?", etc. Unfortunately, Ned is often the boyfriend of...
Socioeconomic Sally, who sucks all the joy out of the game by comparing every event to social, economic, and political issues. By the 3rd quarter, when she's trying to draw a connection between Wes Welker, the black referee, and the declining quality of inner city schools, everyone just wants her to shut up.
Result: Accuse her of being a sell-out for joining the hoi polloi to watch such a materialistic, wasteful event. She'll get really angry for 10 minutes, but then quiets down as she begins to feel guilty for being there.
Waffling Wanda spends the entire game trying to decide which team she wants to root for. She alternates between plaintively pining for Tom Brady while simultaneously judging him for dumping Bridget, and don't forget the ever-important "Which team has nicer uniforms?" debate. The guys in the room would be angry, if not for the fact that Waffling Wanda usually is an attractive woman.
Result: As soon as Waffling Wanda seems to be leaning definitively toward one team, give her a reason to like the other team. "Bill Belichick has terrible fashion sense. How can you root for the Patriots?"
Metrosexual Milton is Wanda's boyfriend, and has all the other guys beat in fashion sense, personal wealth, and professionalism. However, he secretly doesn't know very much about football at all, and is terrified that this makes him less of a man in the eyes of Wanda or the rest of the guys. Of course, it doesn't, but he doesn't know that. Milton cheers a second later than everyone else (to make sure it's ok) and makes a lot of "Oh, this could be interesting" type comments that could mean anything.
Result: Bait Metrosexual Milton to start cheering for incomplete passes. Tell him that punters kick the ball so high because if it hits the dome ceiling, their team gets 5 points.
By the way, I have to thank the college students and strangers who helped host my personal party of one for Super Bowl Sunday. You all, thankfully, fit into none of these categories. Special thanks to the older gentleman who told me about being in Miami to see Joe Namath beat the Colts in 1969. He thought that the Jets win was a bigger upset, for the record, but not by much.
Monday, February 4, 2008
A hilarious duet with Bill Belichick after Spygate:
BILL BELICHICK RAP!!
The NFL Play-offs special: Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, etc.
NFL PLAYOFF RAP
And of course, the Super Bowl Rap! More Tom Brady plus Eli Manning.
SUPER BOWL RAP
Friday, February 1, 2008
So why be so excited about it? Why not just call it what it is; people having fun and expressing themselves the way they want to? Don't quit your job to sportsblog, or think you're going to become an Internet star; treat it like the hobby it is. Listen to the video carefully. Again, this features two so-called stars of the Youtube video community, IJustine and Brookers.
You know who is making money? The hosts! Myspace, Facebook, Gawker, and Youtube are the store owners to this 21st century gold rush. And in most cases, they aren't giving a dime to the artists who are making it all possible, or the readers who keep the conversation going. I'm not saying they should, necessarily, although I'd love to see some kickbacks to key artists like Brookers or star commenters like Camp Tiger Claw. (Perhaps as well I should be fined for my contributions!) And it is free entertainment.
But let's not get so hyped up on Web 2.0 that we fail to listen to the message Brookers is giving here. The ratings and the money just aren't big enough to justify the hype. I see this video as a sort of symbol of the beginning of the end of the Web 2.0 hype. I personally have been a little too excited about Web 2.0 and the tasty crumbs it's tossed me on occasion (being linked to from blogs associated with ESPN.com and the Washington Post, getting the occasional e-mail from someone I did a post on, etc.). Web 2.0's fun, but it's not worth losing any relationships over, doing a halfway job at work, or blogging when you should be doing other things.
My Artist of the Week is Beautiful Stranger.TV , which has a great concept for a business. They walk through the streets of NYC, find stylish folk of all ages and types, and ask them what they buy and do to be so stylish. Then, when Beautiful Stranger posts the video, they link to the web-sites of where people can buy the same clothes and beauty products. See how that works here. So Beautiful Stranger.tv can make money from ads and from the traffic they create, I assume.
Anyway, Beautiful Stranger.TV shows you in this clip that nerds can be beautiful too. Doubt me? Watch the video yourself. I got into a mini-debate on whether this is a true nerd or merely a rich spoiled girl playing at nerd-chic. It's close, but I say true nerd. After all, she mentions book reading several times in the clip, and she's a little too naturally awkward to just be pretending, right? Let me know what you think in the comments.