Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bloggolalia: Sports Magazine Cover Bias

Last week, Sports Illustrated put Brett Favre on their cover once again, this time showing him leading the Packers to a divisional play-off win against the Seattle Seahawks. The choice was controversial to me; the Packers win was the biggest blow-out of the divisional round. Why not put up the Giants victory over the Cowboys? Or the Chargers upset of the Colts? I did some fact-checking and realized why Sports Illustrated chose that cover, and also why Brett Favre was the Sportsman of the Year.

Copies of the Brett Sportsman of the Year cover are being sold for $15 each on Sports Illustrated had to order another 50,000 copies of the magazine because demand was so high--something they haven't done since 2001. Now you see why Brett Favre was on the cover again; and this makes you wonder, did Brett deserve that Sportsman of the Year award? Or did Sports Illustrated select the most saleable name they could find, just to boost sales?

It's not only Sports Illustrated. Last month, I got a copy of SLAM magazine with Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony on the cover. Inside the magazine, the editors admitted that they had initially picked Yao Ming for the cover, but decided to scrap his cover story after his photo shoot came out poorly. Apparently Yao is about as photogenic as your typical blogger. In addition, the editors complained that due to low 4th-quarter ad revenues, the magazine was shorter than usual.

Finally, take a look at ESPN's cover during the NFL play-offs, for the 1/28 issue:

Why is there no football on the cover? Because ESPN and ABC are broadcasting the X Games, and so ESPN put Gretchen Beiler on the cover. She's a non-story! It's a pathetic attempt by ESPN to get ratings and attention for what many would argue isn't a sport at all.

Now I know those of you who work in journalism are laughing and telling me this thing has gone on for years. There's a reason why newspaper pictures of the state fair always include pretty blond teenagers, etc. But still, it irritates me. I disagreed with some assumptions in Big Daddy Drew's analysis of bloggers vs. journalists, and I'll get into the details next week. But he's absolutely right when he says there's nothing sacred about the printed word or journalism. I mean, look at that; three of the top sports magazines in America, all intentionally manipulating their lead stories and deceiving the sports fan as to what's really important. I respect their right to earn as much money as they can, but I didn't notice before just how blatant it was.

EDIT: Yours truly participated in a roundtable discussion at The Starting Five on Five Questions to Take Advantage of a Black Sense of Urgency. Of course, I was stunningly underqualified to take part, but hey, since when has that stopped any blogger?! Anyway, enjoy the responses of the truly wise, ha, and skim over mine, please.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dear Fans: Stop Being Snobs. The End

Why do bloggers and fans get all uppity when players start jawing a lot and carrying on during the course of the game? I submit to you this as Exhibit A. The title of the video is "Ron Artest: Still Crazy", and Hardwood Paroxysm brought this to my attention. If you look at Ballhype's links, most bloggers took a negative slant to this video.

However, pay attention: those are Utah Jazz announcers, and the poster appears to be a Jazz fan. Also, if you listen carefully, the fans are getting into it with Ron Artest just as much as Ron is getting into it with the fans. And Mark Harpring is being just as physical with Ron as Ron is with Matt, if not more. Watch Harpring bumping Martin later in the clip. Yet it's Ron who's the crazy guy, eh?

I personally see a guy who is a little too intense on the floor, a little too angry at all the losing the Kings have done, maybe trying to fire up himself and his team the wrong way for a meaningless game in Utah. But I don't see crazy, I don't see weird, I don't see socially inappropriate. We've all gotten chippy while playing a game just because things weren't going our way. And at least, when Ron did get ejected, he left quietly.

Same thing for Philip Rivers: you must see this video below, titled "Rivers Anger"

Hilarious! Rivers is shouting at fans, slapping his center's butt, being overly intense. But I WANT Philip Rivers to be that way, as long as he isn't so hotheaded that he costs the Chargers games. Football is boring, with its lengthy delays and helmet-clad players. I want the game livened up by some authentic attitude rather than choreographed celebrations.

We want our favorite players to care more about the games, right? So why the sudden snobbery when a Rivers or Artest or Garnett shows real passion? I seem to remember a certain gentleman who did a lot of trash-talking back in the day, initials MJ:

And what about Tom Brady? (first part of video) Why is his trash-talking ok?

I think in the end, you fans and bloggers only respect trash-talking if perennial winners like Jordan or Brady trash-talk. I say, let every athlete get into it! If they win, I respect them; if they lose, I might laugh a bit, but I still respect the passion.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bloggolalia: Increase in Protected Sports Blogs

Just a short news item for today. I'm noticing some people are taking their sports blogs private. See, for example, this one and this one. I didn't mention their names, just in case our blogging heroes are going undercover to avoid stalkers. But I'd like to know why they made that choice, if someone knows. (You can e-mail me if you know, and I won't report it if you don't want me too.)

I have wondered if at some point sports blogs will be set to "private" or "protected", thus creating an exclusive community of commenters and blog-writers. It would allow the blog owner to be crazier and feel less concerned about nutty commenters, and the readers would feel privileged to be invited, right? Maybe they'd even pay for the privilege. Just a thought.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Book Review of Will Leitch's God Save the Fan

Note: For those of you wondering about "MR CAPS", he's a running joke on this blog (see previous entries here).

I drove over to my local Borders and sunk $25.00 of my not-so-hard-earned income into Will Leitch's God Save the Fan. After finishing this book, I can't believe how different it seems than I almost feel like I should differentiate Deadspin Will from Book William. The book is not as funny as Deadspin. But Book William's analysis was sharp and I have had similar thoughts myself, or wish I did. I enjoyed the book immensely! Its division of Players, Owners, Media, and Fans felt natural and made the book seem like 4 mini-books. In fact, I


MR CAPS, Herschel Walker's new book on his multiple personality disorders isn't an invitation for you to reappear on these pages!


Terrible? What are you talking about? It was great! Did you not read Book William's recap of the Carl Monday affair and how blogs kept overbearing local media in check? Did you miss the nice words for my favorite causes such as the WNBA and Christian athletes? The cold weather and your lack of social interaction with girls other than your mother has frozen your intellect. You are not going to savage my adoring book review for Book William. Don't listen, BW!


Bill Clinton wants his nickname back, MR CAPS. So what? You should be happy that a major blog writer like Will shares similar views on such topics. Shut up and appreciate that finally someone is writing a book on those issues, ok?


You mean for other reasons than the mundane borderline-insane issues?


Oh trust me, MR CAPS needs therapy for bigger reasons than that. Your first Hitler reference, and only halfway through the post! Congrats!


Don't bring David Hirshey into this, MR CAPS! Our mutual, inexplicable fondness for ethnic-looking men with mustaches and a vague resemblance to Saddam Hussein covers David! He is one of our chosen people. Back off!


Why not? I thought his chapter on the Super Bowl was highly entertaining. Although AJ only wore a temp 'stache. I'm not sure he kept it long enough to be numbered among the brotherhood of the lip-shaders.


That's enough Deadspin insider jokes for one post. OK, so I would have enjoyed seeing that picture on, ha. But leave AJ alone. That was a good chapter.


Oh dear. I think that's enough out of you for one day. I need to conclude my valentine to Book William without interruption. Book William, I especially liked how you adopted Rick Ankiel as your own personal athlete and symbol of changes in your life. That's so 20-something coming-of-age of you, and we've all done it at one time or another. And I liked that you mocked beer commercials, and called yourself a contrarian! You even like Arrested Development! And you did the delightfully nerdy act of referring to ladies in the 4th person impersonal when you said "As anyone who has ever had the misfortune to date me knows" on pg 233 of your book! I do that too! We have more in common than I ever realized. Call me, Book William, and we'll go out for tea and muffins! No, it wouldn't be awkward, it would be manly! and Midwestern!


Ok, but I did enjoy the book.


Unfortunately, your shredder failed to do the same for your credit card orders last month. I didn't know the WWE still sold Hulk Hogan vitamins.


Trust me, the Val Venus under garments on the same bill won't help with that.

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Favorite Super Bowl

Several bloggers and I are combining to bring you our Favorite Super Bowl memories. If you want to blog about that, let me know and I'll link to your post. I just ask that you link to everyone else's posts as well (I'll be adding new entries as I receive them). If you are not a blogger, feel free to e-mail me your favorite SB story, and I'll post as many as I can. The "deadline" is Friday; check back then and post in everyone else's link to your post as well. That way people will get to read several favorites instead of just one post. I can send you the HTML code to save time with copy-paste from the link list. So far we have the following:

Dan from Eye on Foxborough with the Patriots-Packers Super Bowl.
Signal to Noise on the Broncos-Packers Super Bowl
MCBias on the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl
The Extrapolater on the Broncos-Packers Super Bowl

The Extrapolater, of, had the following Super Bowl memory:
My dad grew up in Denver, so we agonized through all of the SB losses by the Broncos. Even after the family moved to KC and I started following the Chiefs with my High School crowd, I still loved to watch old Elway sling it, and secretly rooted for him whenever he wasn't playing KC. So my favorite overall Super Bowl moment was the famous run for first down. By that point, it was clear that Elway wasn't the miracle-worker he used to be, and that it was Terrell Davis who was carrying the team. But Elway's leadership and will to win showed up in that heart-stopping dash for first down to keep the dream alive. As he helicoptered in the air, I was too awe-struck to even worry that he might be hurt - I just felt like that was what football was all about.

As a side-line, my favorite Super Bowl memory I never had came just a few years back. I was one of the few SB fans who missed the infamous "wardrobe malfunction". I was a new dad, and had decided to put my son in the bathtub at halftime (trying to be responsible and still watch the game). I figured on a quick wash and dry, slap him in a diaper and some pj's, and back to the game. But little buddy had other plans, as he fired off a couple of torpedoes and laughed with delight. That's right, I missed the beginning of the end of Janet Jackson because my son pulled a Najeh Davenport in the tub. Or, as my friend Bruce would say - he took the Browns to the Super Bowl. Good times.

Here's one of my (MCBias) favorite Super Bowl memories:

Watching the Rams-Patriots Super Bowl with about 10 other people, and only one of them was a Rams fan. Everyone else turned on him and cheered for the Patriots. I just remember that one play where Kurt Warner tried to run out of the pocket for a first down near the goal line...and he looked like he was running in quicksand knee-deep. He had plenty of room, but just couldn't run fast enough, and was tackled short of the marker. Rams fan thought his team still might win, but then Brady led them downfield for that field goal. I seem to recall that the announcers were suggesting that the Patriots should just sit on the ball and force overtime. Terrible idea--I still can't believe the announcers suggested that. After the Patriots won, we gently taunted Rams fan (it was a church function, so people were somewhat nice afterward) and called it a night.

It seems like so long ago that the Patriots were the loveable underdog, and the Rams, of all teams, were the powerful, high-scoring machine with a Super Bowl title. This year, I may still cheer for the Patriots, but for all the wrong reasons. How times change!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Artist of the Week: Count Boogie

I wanted to start a new series titled "Artist of the Week" to praise the many, many creative people on the Internet that few know about. This will have nothing to do with sports, for the most part. Oh, and if you stalk anyone who I bring to your attention via these posts, you will die. of Ebola. like, tomorrow.

Anyway, the first artist made a personal video about his eating disorder (bulimia) and his desire to be admired. I didn't really care for some of his other videos (, but his raw honesty, special effects on this video, and creativity in writing those lyrics get my attention. We need people to be honest about their struggles, and he's definitely putting himself out there with this song. Here's what he says in the description:

It's about being bulimic while living in my van.
Eating dissorders have been a life long struggle for me so, of
coarse I have to write about it...and by doing so, let anyone else
who is suffering know...that you are not a bad person for it...and you are not alone.
Stay positive and keep fighting.

You know, I have to wonder, are eating disorders a problem for female athletes and male athletes? From the general blogs I read, there are a LOT of women out there with eating disorders. (I wish they could all watch this song, quite honestly...might help them think about it). It's almost to the point when a woman says "I have a problem, and I don't want to talk about it" my first guess is instantly "eating disorder." There are some male bulimics and anorexics, too, but not very many. I know wrestlers, figure skaters, and gymnasts have some issues in those areas. But what about those NFL offensive linemen who love to eat, but have weight clauses in their contracts? You have to wonder if they have any eating issues. Anyway, ignore my idle, uninformed speculation and enjoy the video.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Night of TV + Kelly Tilghman and "That Word"

Wow, what a night of TV on Sunday! I was yelling at the TV half the night--couldn't believe what I was seeing. Hey, it's not every day that you see that on TV! I couldn't stop cheering and yelling out "Talk British to me, baby" and "Say something I don't understand! Then say it again! And purse those perky lips while you're doing it, and adjust your petticoat!" I mean, a Jane Austen adaptation I've never seen before, with an attractive actress playing the part of Catherine Morland? Northanger Abbey was on PBS, and Felicity Jones did not make me angry one bit! Oh, the football games were all right too.

Ha-ha, I've always wanted to pull a dumb routine like that on this blog. Anyway, on to more relevant topics. Recently, bloggers such as D-Wil , Michael David Smith, Awful Announcing, and The Starting Five have been covering the Kelly Tilghman story and aftermath as a serious incident. However, other bloggers and writers are brushing off Kelly Tilghman's use of lynching to refer to how the other players could stop Tiger Woods. (For an amusing parody on such efforts, see here--highly recommended!). They are referring to it as a mere slip of the tongue, an understandable lapse given how long commentators must opine on live TV. However, what bothers me is that I think we may have gotten a glance at Kelly Tilghman's heart, what she really thinks. And no, this is not an effort to pile on a woman who already has received her punishment and criticism. The reason is I have a Kelly-esque story of my own about a slip of the tongue.

It was my sophomore year at a small, mostly white high school (35 kids in grades 9-12), and I was on the basketball team. That is, they let me wear a uniform because they had no other players; don't think I was any good. We were a suburban school, and we went into the inner city to play an all-black Christian school. They were taller and more athletic than us, but we had a secret weapon that we did not fully appreciate until that night. Our 5'7" senior shooting guard, Ricky, who had ridiculous hops (could 360 dunk a volleyball) and a quick first step, decided to try to save our season. He went head-to-head with their athletes, scoring 30+ despite being double-teamed often, and we only lost by 4. Moral victories do exist. We won our next 15? games in a row after that loss.

Anyway, in the locker room after the game, one of my fellow bench scrubs and I were conversing in awed tones about the athleticism of the black players and the boisterous nature of their fans. He said something like "Wow, those guys looked tough and mean--it was a good thing Ricky was on tonight!" I said back "Yeah, I was kind of scared they'd pull a gun on us on the way back to the locker room!" Suddenly, our only black player, a freshman, spoke up. He said "You mean you thought they'd pull a gun because they were black, don't you?" I tried to stammer out that since it was in the middle of the inner city, I thought there would be tough people there, but he gave me a look. He said something else to correct me (I can't recall what, it was a while ago), and let it go.

You know what? My heart's thoughts were revealed when I said that. Why didn't I just say "beat us up" instead of "pull a gun"? Why did I go the extra mile and say something that made no sense in context with the situation? I said it because in my heart, there was an equation that said tall muscular black people + inner city = gang members. And when the left side of the equation came up in conversation, I spoke up and revealed the right side of that heart equation.

The saddest part was, I was completely wrong in this case. That team was one of the classiest teams we played all year, and they made sure to praise our shooting guard after the game for his amazing performance. But I was too busy thinking about size and skin color and the inner city to see the truth. Ironically, later in the year, a scary, violent incident did happen after a game. We walked out of the locker room to see a fan putting one of our star players in a choke hold. Of course (you can't make this stuff up), the fan was a white country boy. So much for me being able to determine the real threats to our team...

My point in telling this lengthy story? It's not about slips of the tongue. It's about a person's heart being revealed. My concern is that what Kelly said revealed a little piece of her heart. It's not that she herself would ever consider lynching a black man, any more than teenage me would ever consider exchanging gun fire with black gangsters. It's that she has been in situations and environments where biased words were said about black people, and she let those concepts get into her heart without questioning the speakers or the ideas. The Golf Channel was right to suspend her for a little while.

I don't want her fired. Lord knows that there's plenty of hate and wrong thinking in all of our hearts, so why should she suffer because hers was on TV? But for the last time, this issue isn't about "sensitivity" or "Sharpton" or "slip of the tongue"; it's about our souls and the sadness and sin that resides within each of us. We don't just need greater racial sensitivity, although that would be a nice start. We need a true soul-cleansing, one and all. I'd say more, but I don't preach without taking an offering, ha, so I'll let it go for now.

For you brave souls who read this far, a treat; watch Mehmet Okur play the old "I'm tired and I need to wipe sweat off my face...AFTER I DUNK ON YOU!" trick. I love playing this trick myself in pick-up ball...only, it's more like a lay-up, and I trip over my own shoes while trying to convert. But other than that, exactly the same!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bloggolalia: MCBias Site News

I realized I hadn't done any year-in-review posts, because I got bored with reading them elsewhere. I'll do a couple of those in the next few weeks. First, I wanted to thank all of you who have read this blog over the last few months. I really enjoy your comments, readers. I don't write for hits and I don't write for ad revenue. I write to start conversations with smart, interesting people who can broaden my narrower perspective. So please, do feel free to comment, and I'll reply back whenever I can. Blogger has now made it possible for you to receive an e-mail when I post a comment in reply, so you don't have to check back several times to see if I replied.

Also, for all you lurkers out there who don't comment, that's fine. But this day, I offer you amnesty to come out and comment even if the comment itself makes little sense. You can go back to your 364 days of not commenting, then, if you don't like the experience. Just give it a try.

I know I post on a very random schedule. You'll get your Mondays and Fridays most weeks, but anything inbetween is up in the air. If you wish, I can either send you e-mail updates of when I post, or you can use to track this blog and others to know when they have been updated.

Finally, this year I wanted to do a lot more posts covering live sports events. If you go to any interesting games and get video/audio/pictures from them, let me know what you have. If it looks good, I'll give you a free post to talk about it and put up your pictures.

Thanks for reading!

Bloggolalia: Covering Fire

When I first started the Bloggolalia series, no sports blogger I was aware of was writing about blogs. Yes, people were certainly making lists and ranking blogs, but no one was really talking about the business of blogging. I felt a little weird at first. Why wasn't anyone else talking about this, if it was really such an interesting topic? Sure, I knew many other people outside of sports blogging were writing about blogs (it was hardly an original idea from my end), and guys like The Starting Five, D-Wil, and Dave Zirin have been watching the big media watchers for a while, but why not any sports blog analysts?

Well, fast forward to 2008, and I'm pleased to report that other people think talking about sports blogs, on occasion, is ok. Worse, they're doing a better job of it than I am! Maybe I can still get people to call me the Founding Father or something, ha.
BOHChris fond a much better title than I did (Blogsbudsman) and wrote an insightful blog on how to become a well-known sports blogger.
DMT Shooter, at Epic Carnival (just as BOHChris is), wrote on the Top 12 elephants in the room in pro sports. It's not really about blogs, but there are topics here for days and days. Well-thought, too--I especially liked the age and financial issues he brought up. Maybe my favorite post of the month.
Stop Mike Lupica wrote on why we need minority sports writers. It's a topic that I too have opined upon on occasion, and a worthwhile one. It's not about quotas, people; it's about true diversity of opinion. Don't hire minorites just to make the office picture more colorful. Hire people with interesting backgrounds, people that will get you story angles that you never would have thought of.

EDIT: And how could I have forgotten MODI of on my list of media watchers? He does his homework on the issues, and does it well in producing magazine-article and book-length posts that are well-researched.

Bostocalypse Now and Forever

I have Boston fever. I want the Patriots to win this weekend. I want them to demolish the Chargers by a score of 42-10, and I want each Patriot to take a turn imitating Shawne Merriman's lightning dance at midfield. Then I want the Patriots to win the Super Bowl in dominating fashion. I want Harrison to break Brett Favre in two on a ferocious blitz and then pretend he doesn't know the meaning of "roid rage" after the game. I want to retire the "Who was the best team" polls for the NFL because the Patriots were so dominant. Then I want the Boston Celtics to make a championship coach out of Doc Rivers and a household name out of Rajon Rondo. To top it all off, I want Jon Lester's formerly cancerous body to throw a no-hitter in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series, and out-dance Papelbon as the Red Sox celebrate back-to-back World Series wins. But that's not enough for me.

I want all Boston teams to win the championship again in 2009.

And then once more in 2010.
I want people to see "Celtic music" in the bookstore and wonder when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen released their duet.
I want people to hear "Patriot Act" and think that's a new NFL rule aimed at breaking up the Patriot dynasty.
I want to see branded player products like "Garnett Gum", "Ortiz's Oranges" and "Papelpon's Pens" sold all over the US.
I want to see Harvard trustees vote to change the school name to "BHarvard", where the B is silent, just so they can put "B's" on their school clothing. Then the professors protest and insist on a vote...and vote 419-0 "For", just so they can show their Boston support too.
I want Rutgers and Rawlings to decide that their little red "R" needs a little sideways parenthesis on its bottom so it looks like a "B".
I want to see "Bostonize" in the urban dictionary, meaning "1. to dominate to the point of embarrassment; 2. to be victorious." I want to hear Soulja Boy release a new version of the song where they replace "Superman that" with "Bostonize that."
I want to watch as the President invites prominent Boston athletes to sit in the front row, just to boost his sagging approval ratings.
I want to see bookshelves everywhere straining under the weight of Boston athlete autobiographies, to the point that the books aren't even about sports anymore. I want classics like
Ryan O'Callaghan's "Adding the O' to your Relationship" and Glen Davis' "Care and Feeding for your New Big Baby: The First Six Months" to top the New York Times' best-seller lists.
I want Tom Brady to get his own show on TBN where the blind see after getting a Tom Brady spiral right between the eyes.

In short, I want Boston to reign supreme for the next three years, launching a Bostocalyptic dynasty on the sports world. Throw in Boston College and the Bruins while you're at it. Let confetti rain down like snow in January on Foxboro's turf! They deserve it--think of it, they went an ENTIRE DECADE without a championship! In the 80's, all they had was 3 NBA championships and 1, only one World Series appearance and Super Bowl visit. That's it! They deserve it, right Philadelphia, Cleveland, Seattle, and Buffalo fans? They've gone through a lot, right, Cubs fans?

Ah...but then I want to be there when Garnett blows out both knees after Rasheed Wallace undercuts him in the play-offs, when Randy Moss and Manny Ramirez get caught trying to sell kidnapped dwarves on eBay in a wacky scheme only they understand and spend a decade in prison, when the Patriots spy cam catches Rodney Harrison giving Tom Brady his weekly steroid injection under the stadium steps, when a desperate Hank Steinbrenner lures Theo Epstein to the Yankees by pointing out that NYC ladies are hotter, and when David Ortiz's bat stops hitting home runs.

Then, for the next twenty years, I want the universe restored to its rightful order, where Bill Belichick has as much chance of being named "the other man" in a divorce settlement as I have of being the father of Bridget Moynihan's next child, and Boston teams return to mediocrity after completely spoiling their fans.
I want to hear the cries of outraged adolescent Bill Simmons wanna-bes, because they can't publish "Now I can graduate high school in peace" without failing out of yet another year of school.
I want to watch any woman walk into a bar wearing "Patriots Super Bowl Champion" t-shirts and immediately know how old she is because she owns that shirt.
I want to smell no food in the tailgate lots, because all the fairweather fans are gone and even season ticket holders barely come for the game itself.
I want to see Fitzy Links on "" shrinking to one entry where you can find Fitzy, titled "Fitzy on Friend's Couch", and the site itself going from to I want to read that Bill Simmons' dad refuses to be interviewed for the column anymore, and considers sports a waste of time. I want the Red Sox Monster to change its name to "Red Sox Midgets." I want to watch the tears flow as the dad puts Boston gear on his newborn son, the kid starts crying, and the dad says mournfully "He already knows!."
I want to hear brash young talk radio hosts hanging up on elderly Bostonians whose voice quavers as they beg to be allowed to relive the glories of Brady and Belichick one last time.
I want to see Harvard literature professors attempting to be funny and saying "If The Scarlet Letter was written today, Hestor Prynne would be wearing a scarlet 'B'."...and the class laughs!
I want to know the magic phrases to make tough Bostonian construction workers cry in the bar--phrases like “Kevin Garnett knee injury” or “Tom Brady diminishing skills."
I want to watch the President openly plead with Bob Kraft to change the team name from Patriots, because they don't deserve to represent America.
I want people to see your "B" hat and ask you "What does the 'B' stand for?"

Enjoy the good times while they last, Boston fans, and brag in the comments about how your teams are so much better than ours. You earned this moment--or at least players wearing the name of your town did. And
many of you are classy, fun fans. But please, give us other fans a break. This was written for fun and amusement today. Give me another six months of Boston overkill, and I'll mean every last word.
Bitter Cleveland Fan

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sex in the NBA: Dwight Howard's Sex Dunk Nets 1 Baby

The news that Dwight Howard is having a baby with a woman he's not married to just came out. See it here. Based on some links Stopmikelupica sent me, there's much more to say about sex (and celibacy) in the NBA; it's time for a mini-series! Now, in Dwight's slight defense, apparently they were together for a few years (see the girlfriend's myspace for details), but are now broken up.

But for right now, I'm going to stick to the smallest of issues. This story allows me to finally feel comfortable about linking to one of my first blogs, on Myspace, about Dwight Howard. did a story about how Dwight was hanging out with Mary, who is a famous actress in porn movies. It was played strictly for laughs, and Will was polite enough not to mention that Dwight made a lot of noise about his Christian faith when he first came into the league. However, there was much more to the story, as you'll see in the blog.

I do feel a little conflicted about linking to it, because it seems like kicking a man while he's down. I'm not saying that Dwight Howard is a hypocrite or not a Christian, but let's just say not everyone who says they are a Christian, is. And I'm definitely not saying I'm better than Dwight! What I am saying is, Dwight is losing his "benefit of the doubt" that he had with me. This is twice now that he's been involved in sexual chicanery (the myspace blog is about the first time). I don't ride the jock of every athlete who thanks God after a TD catch. I only want to support Christian athletes who are genuine Christians. The rest should get God's name out of their mouths if they don't really believe what they're saying. I certainly am not here to judge the status of Dwight Howard's relationship with God, and I'm not here to condemn him. I just want Dwight to make up his mind. Either he's on the Jesus train with the rest of us redeemed sinners, fighting to stay clean in a world gone wrong, or he's not. There's no halfway here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bloggolalia: Will Leitch's Book Tour

After years of missing out on every single sports blogger gathering available (because I didn't live in New York, DC, LA, or Chicago), I am pleased to report that I am close to one of Will Leitch's Book Tour locations. Even better, Mr. Leitch has invited us readers to participate, although I'm sure what he had in mind was buying him drinks. But that's so shortsighted! There's so many more ways for us readers to participate. It's a chance to confirm people's worst fears about Internet bloggers!

See, usually when these gatherings occur, bloggers feel pressure to act normal, to convince each other that they aren't serial killers and do get out of their basements and meet people. How boring! Instead, why not take advantage of the anonymity and entertain yourself? A top 11 (for the Big Ten's sake) list of entertaining choices for the book tour stop follows.

1. Show up in full fan regalia of the Chicago Cubs (a Cardinals rival) and gush on and on about how you're so happy someone is FINALLY sticking up for the fan, that you spend $100 for each game you attend and it's TOO MUCH, that SOMEONE should have thought of this years ago, until someone finally gets up the nerve to say "Shut up, it's only a book!"
2. Show up pretending you thought the book tour was really for Jonathan Safran Foer and complain to people next to you that "He's not mentioning Everything is Illuminated!" and "He doesn't look Jewish enough!". When told that the tour is for Will Leitch, intentionally mis-pronounce the name as Will Litch and mutter incessantly to oneself "Will Litch. Weird name. Who is Will Litch? Not a great writer like Jonathan. Nope."
3. Show up in a black T-shirt reading "Will's #1 fan" and fake Will wig. Act like an over-the-top fanboy. Be way too excited and randomly reference "Black Table" and "Deadspin" columns to everyone--"You mean you don't remember #35 from Life as a Loser? How could you forget! That was awesome! What about #68? Nothing?" For extra creepiness credit (guys) make things more awkward by gushing about how pleased you are at Deadspin's coverage of gays in sports and (girls) tell everyone that you're going to have Will's baby someday, only "he doesn't know, don't tell him, it's a secret". Also demand to take your picture with Will on 23 separate occasions.
4. Show up in your high school sports team shirt. Tell people that you used to be quite an athlete "back in the day" and that some big school was looking at you before you blew out your knee. The ex-jock routine, where people can't make up their minds whether (1) You ever were a good athlete and (2) If they can risk threatening you with bodily harm to shut up if the answer to (1) is no, is a favorite.
5. Show up with a pillow under your shirt and claim to be Big Daddy Drew. Ruse is discovered when you have poor taste in beer, don't remember any obscure 80's bands, and fail to profess Adrian Peterson as your football lord and savior when given the opportunity.
6. Show up in full Florida regalia and claim to be Dan Shanoff. Ruse is discovered when you run out of Tim Tebow facts after only 15 minutes of conversation.
7. Show up wearing a shirt that says "+1 Champion,, 2007 season" and claim to be Camp Tiger Claw. Ruse is discovered when your first few jokes are unamusing.
8. Show up in full Patriots regalia and claim to be SuperMike. Ruse is discovered after you fail to offend a single audience member.
9. Show up with a T-shirt reading "Too Soon, Will?" on the front and a picture of a plane hitting a building on the back. Claim to be Pot Roast and Gravy, lobbying to be allowed back on Ruse is discovered after people realize that no one gets banned from Deadspin for life unless they WANT to stay away.
10. Show up in a full suit and claim to be the Combudsmen, Rob Iracene. Ruse is discovered after you fail to complain about the unfunniness of someone's joke.
11. Show up in dark clothes and full-length jacket, hold notebook in hand with several pictures taped in there, keep up a bug-eyed stare, and pretend to be there to stalk one of the commenters on Deadspin (we'll say MCBias just because we don't want to give the real Internet weirdos ideas). Keep up a steady stream of deep breathing and asking people "Do you know if MCBias is here? I really want to MEET him, and go out for drinks with him. (looks down and then looks up with creepy look) I have a BIG basement. Did you know I have a big basement? I wonder if MCBias would like to see my basement. (Creepy pause, then acceleration of words) I have a lot of games there. And a bed. Did I mention I had a bed in my basement? Yeah, a bed, bed in my basement, yup, got a bed in my basement, ha-ha! Parents let me keep a bed in my basement, yup! (Stares at you again) Let me know if you've seen MCBias."

Ok, I'm probably too classy to actually do any of those, but you, slimy Internet weasel, should feel free to gain inspiration. Send me pictures if you do any of those! I'll post any book tour pictures if you send them, and may post my own as well.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bloggolalia: Are Blog View Numbers Inflated?

Warning: boring, Quant Jock-style details ahead. Readers may experience narcoleptic attacks.

Recently my good friends at the embarked on a new site design. Overall, I was excited by the changes, with one exception. They, like, and, had added the "More" tab. So anytime I wanted to read a complete post that looked interesting, I had to either open an entirely new window or stop browsing posts and open that post up in the original viewing window.

Now, I had seen this type of format once before on the makes you open multiple pages to read their articles. I hated it then, and I hated it now. Why were bloggers deliberately selecting site designs that ruined the readability of their pages? And what about people on dial-up, who now had to load multiple pages at once to get their blog fix instead of just one page? So why does anyone do this method? Sure, it gives you more pages to sell ads on...but could it be that it inflates your page views as well?! Perhaps some of the blog growth we've been hearing so much about is inflated...and if that's so, maybe the blog bubble has already burst and we haven't noticed.

I went back to to check the source of this annoying new trend. I remembered that even there, a lot of people didn't like the new site redesign when it first came out, and complained. As I said above, the only other reason to have the "more" feature would be to increase ad revenue (see more ads as you see more pages) and increase page views and visits. (Visits might also increase because Google Reader won't always show the "more" part, which forces you to visit the site). Look at's visit numbers in the last year. Notice the jump?

In the first few months of this year, Deadspin had some ups and downs in their site traffic. Blogging traffic is decent overall, but we're finally starting to see the end of the growth curve and a shift into maturity. (Sadly, some of our favorite bloggers may be laid off as the Internet ad revenue dries up in the soon-coming recession. The problem is, that will probably occur the same time the reading audience stops growing--roughly 10 months from now).

Nick Denton and Co. rolled out a site re-design on (drum roll) June 28th--a site re-design that was not initially popular. And what do we see? A substantial reversal of the trend in July! From a sports perspective, this makes no sense. After all, the NBA and baseball were both taking place in June...and in July, all we have is baseball. Also, school is out in May in most places, not June, so it can't be back-to-school traffic. But we see a jump. Interesting!

And it's not just Deadspin. I went and checked the sitemeter records for all other available Gawker properties--links follow. Gizmodo, Jezebel, and Kotaku all show massive jumps from June to July that are the largest or second-largest of the year. Gawker and Lifehacker show smaller but significant jumps. However, Gawker and Lifehacker use the "More" feature much less on their posts (they have fewer long columns), and, if my research is correct, may have started the site re-designs before Deadspin did.

The flaw in my logic? The site redesign may be a smaller factor, wiped out by a larget trend. For example, October also had a large jump in viewers for many of the same blogs. Was there another site redesign then? Or, was September lower than usual because of the back-to-school effect? If that's true, then I can't say that site redesign inflates viewing numbers. It's an Internet mystery! Any guesses? Of course, it's probably the vernal equinox or sun spots in July, ha, but I kind of like my theory.

Bottom line? There's nothing evil or wrong about inflating your views by changing site design, if the viewer will go along with it. There's no blogger in a devil suit here. But if you're interested in the business of blogging, you should be aware that not all the number jumps are due to an influx of new eyeballs and hands.

For the record, the last two blogging months were the highest views and page counts I've ever gotten; so this isn't bitter "Why won't you read me!" whining. I just want to know why my favorite sites keep adopting irritating site designs.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Much Respect: Sir Edmund Hillary Finishes Man's Toughest Climb

Sir Edmund Hillary, part of the first team to climb Mt. Everest along with Tenzing Norgay, passed away. His death is sad, of course, but it feels good to know that the man who climbed Mt. Everest was able to live for 88 years on this earth. That is the true unconquerable mountain; life itself, and how few of us can truly say we reached the top when we die?

I have to wonder, though, could Edmund and Tenzing be among the greatest athletes of all time? You may scoff at first, but consider how high they climbed with limited oxygen resources. One must be in incredible shape to continue to move forward in such conditions. Add to that the physical labor of climbing a mountain; your legs, arms, and core must all be in excellent condition. That level of all-around strength is not necessarily true for sports like running and soccer (legs only), or basketball. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Open Letter to Michael Jordan

Dear Michael Jordan,

We'd like to thank you for the excellent example you set for NBA stars to follow in the years to come. Our coaches and various on-air personalities continually tell us to look to you for inspiration and guidance. We have, and we thank you.

Thank you for your example that yelling at teammates shows leadership and passion rather than camera-friendly exhibitionism and off-putting narcissism.

Thank you for your example that demanding the ball on every play down the stretch is a fundamentally sound strategy rather than easily-defended selfishness and short-sightedness.

Thank you for making NBA fans think that passing the ball to a teammate in the final seconds is a sign of weakness rather than a clever and logical reaction to a tight defense.

Thank you for winning so many championships that no one remembers it took you four years to lead the Bulls to a winning record and six years for the Bulls to win more than 50 games.

Thank you for helping encourage NBA stars to think of themselves as endorsers and brand names first and players who love the game second.

Thank you for making sure that any player in the 6'4" -6'8" height range will be compared to a legend's highlight film rather than a current head-to-head rival.


Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony.

(Written in annoyance the day after Christmas, after hearing one too many NBA commentators use "Such-and-such should" followed by a Michael Jordan reference.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Women's Sports: It's Only a Game...

Hope Solo, Cat Whitehill, Abby Wambach, and Natasha Kai all US National Women's Soccer Team players, did videos for Nike on women in sports. My thanks to Martynny, who is a great source of women's soccer videos; subscribe if you like that. For once, I'm not just posting videos for you to watch them; I'd like to discuss them. Is it me, or are the videos troubling?

It appears that the participation of women in sports is being linked to body image issues or equality issues. Even worse, it appears that women's sports can't exist without endless comparison and contrast with men's sports, even by the women themselves. Now, I understand that at first, when women were not getting access to courts and fields, it was necessary to push the equality issue to get them access to said fields. But haven't women's sports grown out of that phase? Can't we let the game be the game, without weighing down women's sports with all this talk of body image, equality, and being role models? The men don't have to bear such a burden. It seems as if the joy is being robbed out of women's sports. And quite honestly, that's a big reason I like women's sports. Their joy and enthusiasm seems so much more natural and refreshing than what I see in the men's game. Why not show that instead, Nike? Maybe there are female athletes out there who can give a better perspective on this than I have, but I don't like Nike's approach here. It seems to be building demand for women's sports on a platform of resentment, mistrust, pride, and envy rather than on the game itself.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Athlete AV: NBA Players and their Dogs

Elie Seckbach is one of my favorite videocasters. You should subscribe to Elie's channel on Youtube. Some of the videos can be a little slow, but it's always fun to watch Elie and the players seek common ground in their interactions.

Below, Elie interviews Rip Hamilton, Maurice Evans, and others on their dogs. By the way, Mo also talks about how great it was playing with the Pistons. Come to think of it, Detroit does have some of the coolest players in the league. Particularly amusing is when one NBA player at the end says he'd want to be a lawyer, and his teammate quips back "Yeah, because he'll be a defendant one day."

Friday, January 4, 2008

NFL Play-off Picks (Yawn)

(AFC) Round 1: Jaguars over Steelers, Chargers over Titans.
Round 2: Patriots over Jaguars (close, though), Colts over Chargers
Round 3: Colts over Patriots
(NFC) Round 1: Seahawks over Redskins, Tampa Bay over Giants
Round 2: Seahawks over Packers (weak Packer secondary), Cowboys over Tampa Bay
Round 3: Cowboys over Seahawks
Super Bowl: Colts over Cowboys

The Beast Rises out of the Water...

This video from of Greg Oden's Pool Rehab is oddly mesmerizing. Movie-like, is it not?
The forgotten Greg Oden Monster hides deep below the earth, licking its wounds from its encounter with Couch Man. There it trains with the evil Dr. Trainerhelperus, waiting to heal, learning to swim, learning the dark arts of the center position...It's Amphibious! It's Alive! It's All-Star-tastic!

I don't even want to think of the crush-filled thoughts the shirtless GO will inspire in Miss Gossip. And I think we finally can prove Greg Oden is not related to Moses from the Bible; the pool waters failed to part!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bloggolalia: ESPN Dilemma Solved!

The good folks over at Awful Announcing are still in shock over the top ESPN features this year. Specifically, Who's Now, the ESPN summer tournament used to vote for the most "now" athlete of the year, was the most searched-for item on's web-site. AA isn't the only one confused and/or annoyed by ESPN. Will Leitch of wrote a 304 page book titled "God Save the Fan" that describes ESPN as thinking its viewers are stupid. And many other bloggers have opined on ESPN's supposed stupidity, mediocrity, or poor taste.

I think the answer to all this blogger angst is quite simple. Before bloggers complain about ESPN, most of them begin by telling us how much they liked ESPN from 1994-1998 or so. Doing a little fancy math on my fellow bloggers, that was when they were teenagers or early college students. And that right there may be the answer: ESPN's content, outside of its live sports announcing perhaps, is mainly FOR TEENAGERS AND COLLEGE STUDENTS. Look at the Who's Now voters; it's the young folk that loved that topic. Neil Best sums it up nicely here. So what does that say about your ESPN angst, fellow bloggers? It appears that what we have is a bunch of elderly blogger 20-somethings and 30-somethings telling the kids to get off their lawn and stop playing their loud music on them there I-Pods, heh. I wonder, is ESPN that different from a decade ago? Or is it you who changed and got older? Yes, I'm baiting you, but prove me wrong.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bryant Young's Last Play

Did anyone else see Bryant Young, the San Francisco 49'er, play his final down ever against the Browns? He got hurt and fell to his hands and knees...and then tried to crawl on his hands and knees toward Derek Anderson to sack him! This in a game where the 49'ers had nothing to play for, where the Browns had already all but clinched the game.
Bryant Young didn't sack Derek, but I was affected by his effort. I would love to be that kind of finisher in life. Even if I can't walk any more, still being on my hands and knees, crawling toward the's a great inspiration for 2008. Bryant, even if the announcers didn't really notice, and no one replayed the highlight on ESPN, I saw it. Way to finish your 14-year career strong!