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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's a War on WAR

.329/44/137 (plus 1.001 OPS and 375 TBs) as of 10/01/12
Over the past couple of weeks, a ridiculous battle has played out in the press and blogosphere over the AL MVP race. If it sounds familiar, that’s because this battle has taken place over the last decade, in one form or other, at the end of every baseball season. A group of cigar chomping, fedora wearing BBWA standard-bearers (or run-of-the-mill hacks at the Daily News) will espouse the merits of a "baseball player" while decrying the confusing theorems of eggheads. Likewise, the eggheads belittle the writers’ intelligence and bandy about accusations of cantankerousness because the writers are too busy watching baseball to do the math which so clearly demonstrates the superiority of a player who puts up numbers only they understand.

I paint with the broad-stroke stylings of the arguers in question, because, I mean, come on, straw men are so much easier to kick down. Am I right?

.325/30/83 (plus 48 SBs and 129 Runs) as of 10/01/12
Baseball fans are (possibly) witnessing the first Triple Crown performance since 1967. However, Mike Trout, like a wraith on Christmas Eve, has given us a glimpse of baseball future. And, my god, it’s pretty. 

Now debate ensues as to who rightfully deserves the accolades. But put all of that aside for a moment. 

The sabermetricians and baseball writers, long involved in an escalating race to arm their respective soapboxes, are preparing to go to battle over WAR (wins above replacement). In essence, WAR attempts to calculate the number of wins a given player is responsible for as opposed to some schlub pulled from AAA (not solely AAA—the notion is that it’s a guy who’s better than you or I, but not very good by MLB standards).

The arguments tend to go like this:

Fedora Wearer: The MVP is Miggy. I know because I watch him play. I understand baseball.

Guy with a computer coming out of his hands: Miggy?! Have you seen his dWar?

FW: Speak English. Miggy is the first Triple Crown winner since Yaz.

GWCCOHH: Yaz is so yesteryear. Besides the makers of Yaz (Bayer AG) are getting their pants sued off because it turns out Yaz isn’t so wonderful. But enough already. Trout is besting Cabrera by 12 in oRAR.

FW: (mumbling something about Dave Parker and Daffy Dean)

GWC…: If you skew for Wins Above Average, it’s not even close.

FW: (rolling up sleeves, mush-mouthing a Dutch Masters) I’m gonna beat you like Max Bear did Frankie Cambell.

GWC: (runs from room) Not now, Big Bang Theory is on!

…and scene.

Here’s the thing, as of this writing Cabrera is hitting .327/44/137 with an OPS (if you’re so inclined) of 1.001. Detractors point to his 28 GIDP. They conveniently neglect to recognize that he’s a three-hole hitter who will never be asked to lay down a sac bunt, and therefore, yes, he will hit into double plays. They’ll also point to his insufficient defense. It is insufficient...if by that you mean completely adequate. He’s got good hands, a great arm, and little range. He’s paid to produce the first set of numbers I listed, not for his RF/9. He also happens to be the premiere hitter in Major League Baseball.

What’s sad is that, if he’s awarded the MVP, people are going to complain.

But Mike Trout's WAR is among the best in HISTORY, the sabermetricians will say. It's a full 4 points higher than Cabrera. You're an impossible idiot if you can't see that, they'll say. Then they'll make fun of you for thinking batting average, HRs, and RBIs mean jack.

They are extremely defensive about challenges to their beloved WAR. Just point out that there are competing versions of WAR (an impediment to wide acceptance among baseball fans), and they're sure to point out that you don't have an advanced statistics class on your college transcript. Point out that many of the metrics involve human inputs, such as assigning ~52 wins (why not 41?) for the hasbeen/neverwas that is this statistical apparition known as replacement player, and you'll quickly be reminded of how much smarter they are than you.

To them, there can be only one true winner and WAR makes the difference. So they tout Trout.

Meanwhile, Mike Trout, who leads in a significant number of SABR categories, has become the most rounded, intimidating player since Rickey Henderson. He flat-out terrorizes opponents: he’ll club you to death, run you to death, and leap a wall in a single bound, all in the confines of a 9 inning frame. Play that out 162 times a year and see where you wind up. And Trout is only 21. 

Yet, if he wins, people are going to complain.

Writers will bemoan the mercurial WAR upon which many have based the Trout-for-MVP campaign. They’ll flack the old-timey stats like RBIs and Batting Average, praising their comprehensibility. They’ll criticize fielding statistics as woefully inept (which even many fans of sabermetrics concede). They’ll foresee—like end-time prophets—a day when games on the field cease and games on computers are aired on TV. The writers will hype this false dilemma and threaten that if you even so much as look at a hitter's BABIP, they'll break you in half, you pencil-neck geek.

To the writers, if Miggy pulls off something only the likes of which were achieved by guys like Joe Medwick, Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams, then he's the only viable choice. They'll dismiss the defensive part of the equation, citing it has never really factored in before (which, just because it's accurate, doesn't mean it's right).

[Note: my BBWA stereotype is sadly outdated. I wish the baseball writers were still the robust giants of the 1930s press boxes. Today, there's no discerning the dweeby scribes from the geeky stat gurus. Note within a note: FWIW, not all BBWA suck. Ray Ratto, is decent, but he's moving to television. He also looks like a younger, fatter Wilford Brimley. If Peter Gammons can ever stop talking about the goddamn Red Sox for one goddamn second, he's tolerable. Bill James, on the other side, introduced a new approach to understanding an old game, which is commendable. However, he has shown himself to be an ignoramus. He is largely responsible for Dick Allen's clubhouse reputation—a reputation disputed by virtually every teammate Allen ever had. Digression over.]

What’s sad is that the argument over baseball-worldviews is going to drown out the acknowledgement that we just bore witness to two of the greatest performances in the history of the game.

We won. We, the fans, who are drawn to this game for its poetry as much as its bookkeeping, walk away winners.

As a White Sox fan, I wish like hell Miggy didn’t have the season he had. But as a baseball fan—first and foremost—I know what I saw was nothing short of historic.

As for watching Trout play, if you don’t get 6th-grade-boy-asking-a-crush-to-the-dance butterflies, then you’ve lost the boy inside that's necessary to appreciate the game of baseball. It has always been a kid’s game, after all, and I hope it continues to be.

I’ll  always look with interest toward new metrics as they’re defined (and refined, and refined again [WAR undergoes revisions on a near-monthly basis]), but I’ll never trade the outcomes of equations for the spectacle itself.

Now if any writer with a vote has someone other than Trout or Cabrera in the top slots, I'll beat them like Max Baer did Ernie Schaaf (in Baer v. Schaaf II).

Ring Magazine's #20 Heavyweight Champ of All Time
 -Kyle Wills

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Empire Strikes Out; or Look Ma, No Hands

  -->
The blaze of summer sun kept me homebound this weekend, locked up in the cool of earthwarming, home-cooling air. And whilst I waited for some late night West Coast baseball, I had nothing better to do during the day than flip between soccer and golf.

I watch soccer on occasional whims, and golf exactly four times a year (I won’t bother mentioning which four). By the end of Sunday, I came to some conclusions as to where my preferences lie.

*

While the rest of the world has married soccer (or football, as they’ll have it), the U.S. has maintained its steadfast bachelorhood towards it, preferring to occasionally flirt with the notion of hooliganism but always opting for further conquests of tantalizing athletic strange. There’s always time to settle down.

What I mean is, we get into soccer when there are high chauvinistic stakes, when chants of U-S-A get to be our vuvuzela counterparts. Otherwise, we stick to our four major team sports and sprinkle in some NASCAR here and there. That is not to say there aren’t rabid soccer fans in the States, and I don’t mean to discount them, but if they’d look beyond their suburban-East Coast, private school surroundings, they may notice that the rest of the country only cares if national pride is on the line. We don’t, for the most part, own any of those fancy scarves.

That said, I initially figured there’d be little to entice me into watching any of the UEFA European Championships.

*

Meanwhile, the U.S. Open was taking place on the West Coast on a seemingly 45º angle. Even before the match started, players’ danders were collectively up about the difficulty of the Olympic Clubs’ course. It was too fast. It was falling into Lake Merced. It was haunted. Okay, I made the last one up (but the fog was very Scooby Doo-esque).

But golf is, by all accounts, an international game with international players and an international following. And given that it was a major, I was in for the long haul.

*

In the matches at Euro 2012, I quickly found my favorites. I am one of those sad customers who need a rooting interest if I’m to watch a good bit of soccer, so why not stick to chauvinism’s close kin: pride in ancestral nationalities.

I’m a mutt of Northern European descent, so I narrowed my options to two: England and Netherlands (I would have taken Ireland, but boy did they get spanked early).  Nonetheless, I don't mean to belabor my viewer experience vis-à-vis my rooting interests. Instead, it’s more what I witnessed of the attendants of the matches in host countries Poland and Ukraine.

Enthusiasm about soccer is not noteworthy outside of the U.S. It’s a given, in fact. Every crowd member’s dress corresponds to their team’s colors. Some don face paint. Many have flags. (Still, nothing new or surprising, but these are the facts.) Most notable is their tendency to not shut up throughout the entirety of the two 45 minute halves. They live the agony and ecstasy that is, as Mitt Romney would say, sport with every second of action on the pitch.

*

In San Francisco, the amateurs and card carriers 3-putted their ways into or out of contention while courtesies were bestowed upon each equally. Minimally, there are golf claps. For former champs, there are hoots and hollers. For the golf celebs, there are the requisite shouts of get in the hole for every fucking swing (which are criminally annoying, especially on par 5 tee shots). And, of course, the players oblige with doffed caps and…well, it pretty much ends there.

Otherwise, the players are thrown by the slightest gallery* movement; they have the hearing of snow owls—stopping mid backswing because of the noise of a camera shutter 200 yards away; they can feel the breeze kick up from 4mph to 4.5mph and have to start their routine over…from the beginning.

Further, they actually have someone toting their shit for them from hole to hole. The visuals on this are terrible. I’ve never been a caddie, but I’ve known caddies. Caddies are kids with shitty summer jobs who schlep golf clubs (which cost more than what the caddies will make all summer) for assholes who get to take 4-hour lunch breaks on a Tuesday.

Now, I know that professional caddies are paid well, and they know their golf. They serve a real purpose. As I said, the visuals are terrible, especially when you see the leaderboard complete with the flags of player origins.

*

Portugal v. Denmark was as amazing as Netherlands v. Germany was disappointing. Outside of 5 minutes of play in the 2nd half, the Netherlands looked sleepy—not tired—they actually looked like they needed a team nap. Sweden v. Ukraine was interesting, though I missed the beginning and thought the bright yellow of the Ukraine squad was the familiar yellow of Sweden. I was surprised by there being a Swede named Shevchenko. Then I realized my mistake.

I missed Greece v. Russia but was delighted by the results (the Greeks could use some good news for a change). The French, sadly, took it to their hosts 2-0. Poland v. Russia, in what was a battle between the two most depressing national anthems (so many minor chords!), finished without a winner, though team members of both countries, in unison with their respective fans, sang every oppressive sounding word of the aforementioned anthems. Meanwhile, a three-way battle raged outside the Warsaw stadium between Russian fans and Polish fans, and those same fans versus the Polish police**.

I admittedly didn't watch (and couldn’t have watched had I wanted to) all the matches. But in each—so far, anyway—fan fervor is ceaseless and unbridled and unquestionably genuine.

*

The flags of the leaderboard read, with few exceptions, like a who’s who in Imperialist subjugators and subjugates: England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Republic of South Africa, USA, and Australia. Sprinkled in the mix was a Swede, German, Korean, and Belgian, representing branches from a tree not rooted in British Imperialism. But this got me thinking about how foreign (pun alert!) it is to see athletes from places like RSA, Northern Ireland, or even Fiji (which, by the way, where the hell has Vijay Singh been?). And it’s not just one or two people from these places, the leaderboards of every PGA event are peppered with golfers from these countries. These countries are well represented amongst the list of major winners. And that’s why the caddies are an ugly reminder. That’s why I’ll always feel a disconnect from professional golfers. They are not like me. Most (Vijay Singh a notable exception) have lived highly privileged lives, attending golf academies, receiving new clubs at Christmas the way the rest of us receive a new pair of Levi’s, and they have other people do the heavy lifting. They can’t tolerate the slightest discomfort, turning peevish if someone in their periphery decides to scratch his nose at the wrong time.

I should note that, with full awareness, I don’t personally know any professional golfers. In fact, many seem like decent guys. But the spectacle that is a professional golf tournament is too often too off-putting for me to tolerate.

And then there’s Tiger Woods…

*

Not too long after the Euro 2012 tournament concludes, the London Olympics will begin. The grand marshal of the acceptable chauvinism parade, the Olympics represents a time when national pride is the point (all that nonsense about sportsmanship and tests of one’s self can go to hell; I want gold, and I want my country to win it). With the U.S. men’s soccer team unceremoniously sitting this one out (way to go, boys!), I’ll be forced once again to find rooting interests within my Northern European lineage in order to enjoy some Americanless soccer. I likely won’t watch all the games, but I’ll watch some. And though I’ll watch sans scarf, jersey and face paint, I’ll watch willingly, dreaming of the day the U.S. men’s team truly arrives on the world pitch.

*

I’ll forego the tiresome psychoanalysis of Tiger Woods. In fact, I won’t even comment on his U.S. Open play. I am one of those fair-weather fans who is more likely to tune in on a Sunday if Tiger is within striking distance. He’s the exemplar of golfing excellence for my generation. I appreciate that. My issue with Tiger has nothing to do with his poor weekend play at the Olympic Club. My real issue with Tiger goes back to the beginning of April at the Master’s.

The Augusta National Golf Club, as has been thoroughly reported, still does not allow women to be members. With its quaint Southern beauty (each of the 18 holes taking the name of flowering tree), Augusta’s Masters Tournament is the belle of the ball when it comes to the four majors. They admitted black members for the first time in 1990. Yes, that is correct. 1990.

Tiger, as has been pointed out, had a black father who firmly nudged his son into the game of golf. His influence on Tiger is not a matter for debate. And though Tiger’s childhood environment was not in league with that of most black athletes, there is the undeniable fact that Tiger is not like most of his competitors. Tiger has done a remarkable job of making his race a non-issue on the PGA tour. Even with the occasional taunts—like those of former Masters champ, Fuzzy Zoeller—Woods has been steadfast in making the game his only focus (the last couple of years being a particular—and at times, albatross-like—burden on him for reasons that have been too enthusiastically covered by sports and mainstream media alike).

Yet, Tiger’s race is part of his identity. He can’t simply hide behind the legacy of Jim Dent. Most people wouldn’t even know who that is. Dent’s best finish in a major was 34th at the PGA Championship. Jim Dent was not a threat to white dominance in the game of golf. In fact, he couldn’t even play in his hometown’s major tournament for most of his life***.

*

A new breed of hate has reared its ugly head in European football circles. Modest efforts to curb it can be seen in the Unite Against Racism signs along the midfield boards at Euro 2012. Hard economic times have been blamed for what many pass off as a mere pointed hooligany. I’m not sure what to make of it or what this says about the bubbling fires that always appear to be just under Europe’s surface. At least officials with some say have decided to act, if only in token gestures. Planting the seed of the correct message, to say the least, is better than burying your head in the sand trap.

*

Tiger has mostly (I say mostly because I’m sure there are still off-color comments made in clubhouses and galleries across the country…most assuredly in Augusta) removed the race debate from the game, and with the persistent successes of Japanese, Korean, and Spanish players, the diversity issue—as far as ethnicity—only further continues to be laid to rest. Tiger could, should he choose, take one badly needed and completely justified stand against Augusta National and boycott one year’s play at the Masters unless women are permitted membership.

This is not a call for women to be a part of the Masters Tournament (Michelle Wie stay away…as far as I know, you’re still not very good at golf). But the exclusivity of Augusta National reeks so poorly of the old aristocratic South that I can’t help but hate the Masters more and more each year. And when I start thinking about the old South, I start thinking about oppression, which hearkens back to America’s sullied years; which calls to mind apartheid in South Africa; which suggests the ugliness of the clashes of the Irish Republican Army and Ulster Defence Force; then British rule over Fiji; exiles to Australia (only to then adversely affect the aborigines); and so on and so on.

Besides, in the rehabilitation of Tiger’s image—most notably in the eyes of women—this would do his legacy as much good as winning another major. But he refuses to be a lightning rod for any criticism, even if that criticism is rooted in horribly archaic worldviews.

Regrettably, none of the other golfers care to take on the issue either. Just like the balls they strike, they’re looking for the path of least resistance.

*

Sometimes you have to consider the company you keep, and in terms of golf and soccer, if I’m to grab a couple of drinks in the clubhouse bar or the neighborhood pub, you can keep your Fresca. I’ll have me a pint of ale.

I may be the stereotypical American who prefers hockey, baseball, football and basketball, but there’s a certain ethos in soccer that I learn to respect more each year.

Golf remains a game for a different tax bracket.



*And what pretension that golfers have galleries, not crowds or audiences or fans, as though the spectators are attending a museum of moving sport.
** Good god, there is bad blood in that part of the world. There were even some German fans injured and/or arrested. This riot was just a quick French surrender away from being the biggest WWII reenactment ever.
*** Jim Dent was born in Augusta, Georgia.


-Kyle Wills

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

FANTASY. SPORTS. DEATH. RACE.

Fantasy.  FAHntasy.  Fantasy SPORTS.  Well, not all sports, just baseball and football.  You're not gonna catch me delving into the wooly and wild world of fantasy golf, which, like, what kind of heroin addict thinks that's a productive way to spend your time?  Not me, man.  But then again, I'm not a heroin addict, so maybe I'm in the wrong here.  It's possible.  At least feasible.  Anyways, yeah, I got some fantasy stuff to talk about, so sit tight and for CHRIST'S SAKE STOP CHEWING THAT TRAIL MIX WITH YOUR MOUTH OPEN!!!

FANTASY BASEBALL.  I'm in two leagues and as I write this I am in the playoffs in both.  Well, I'm currently getting BEAT LIKE AN ALCOHOLIC'S CHILD in both, to be more specific.  

Adrian Beltre, I hate you.  Joe Mauer, I hate you.  And the rest of you in both my teams: you are the biggest bunch of underachieving underwear skid marks known to man.  Seriously, Martin Prado, you are killing me.  Last year you were a beautiful rainbow of stats.  You made me dry hump ESPN Magazine and I DESPISE that magazine. 


But this year?  Not a chance in hell.  You know what?  The weird thing is, regardless of my angst, my teams really aren't that bad, just victims of bad luck.  Things can change.  Things can always change. 


(things are not going to change)


FANTASY FOOTBALL.  I had two drafts over the Labor Day weekend.  I am scared at the results.  I feel very confident in my teams which means they will both tank in spectacular fashion.  In my pay league I'm relying on the likes of Rashard Mendenhall and the resurgence of one Plaxico Burress to guide me into glory.  Mendenhall will most likely have a solid season but Burress is my sleeper this year.  He might be terrible.  He might be the saving grace of my year that will lead me to money money money.  I'm talking real money.  I'm talking about the kind of money that will buy me a Kindle with a little left over for a crystal meth festival. 


Basically I feel like I've been staring at the Yahoo Sports page non stop for the past three weeks.  I've been reading injury reports.  I've been looking at mock drafts.  I've been baseball stats and quality September call ups.  I feel like a machine.  I sports machine.  Insert reference here. 


I will be updating this blog with my fantasy results throughout the baseball playoffs and football season.  I'm going to be letting you into my lair.  You will see my insanity.  You will be sad.  You will be manic.  You will be putting me on your 'to kill' list. 


I'm not scared.  You shouldn't be either. 

Onward

-Terrence


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sure It's Been A While, But You Weren't Paying Attention Anyways



Listen, I know.  I know I've been AWOL for almost three months.  I know that this blog has been sitting here like some kind of abandoned school house, walls lined with spider webs and crow's nests.  I get it.  You don't have to remind me. 

What I can say in my defense is that I...

A.)  Moved from New York City to Columbus, Ohio.  That's right, I'm back in the Midwest.  You know how hard that was?  I drove ten goddamn hours with all of my belongings.  Ten.  Hours.  That's brutal, especially when all of your music is packed and you're forced to listen to talk radio for the duration.  I hit a part of Pennsylvania where Rush Limbaugh was on three different stations.  THREE DIFFERENT STATIONS.  Listening to Rush Limbaugh is like having a ten year old drop kick your family jewels with his Little League spikes.  It starts off painful but eventually becomes excrutiating and you are forced to fall down and drool mindlessly for an hour afterwards.  Anyways.  Yeah.  All my shit, in an enlarged minivan.  It sucked. 

B.)  I had to get a job.  I got a job!  That's right.  When you move away from a city while you're living on unemployment, you really want to find a real job when you reach your destination.  So now I have a job.  I won't really be talking about that job here, just know that I'm gainfully employed and that I have been absent from the blogosphere because I have REAL PAID WORK TO DO. 

C.)  I had to find an apartment.  I got an apartment!  It's so fucking cheap it's not even fair.  You people in New York are suckers.  The amount I'm paying now for a one bedroom apartment is what I paid to live with three dudes in New York.  Suckers, the lot of ya. 

So yeah, get off my ass about this stuff, I needed to get my ducks in a row. 

Now. 

The Reds. 

Has there been a more disappointing team in baseball this year?  They are inconsistent, their manager (Dusty Baker) can't ever seem to decide which lineup to throw out there and we're on the VERGE OF GETTING SWEPT BY THE PIRATES. 

Can I just say that the resurgence of the Pirates is, for the most part, a fluke?  The NL Central is the weakest division in baseball, hands down.  No one in this division has a chance to win the World Series.  Not one.  Not the Cardinals, not the Brewers.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero. 

The Reds could have still have a shot to take the division if they make a trade or two, but it's hard to really say if that will be the solution.  For Ubaldo Jiminez save this team and this season?  Will Ryan Ludwick be the spark that starts the blaze?  Probably not.  They need a real left fielder, not some weird circle of idiots.  Heisey is the closest thing they've got to legitimacy out there, but hilariously he's a better pinch hitter than a starter. 

The only hopeful things to take out of this season so far are the rise of Zach Cozart and the resurgence of Dontrelle Willis.  One could only hope that this is the beginning of a new career for Willis, who absolutely deserves only the best that life has to offer. 

Anyways, let's move on to other things.  Such as...

THE NFL LOCKOUT!!!

I haven't really followed this too closely.  When rich people get in a tizzy with one another I tend to look the other way.  My only hope is that Roger Goodell get's pancake blocked by someone.  Can we make that happen?  I mean, that greedy fucktard deserves to be hospitalized.  Someone get Jeff Saturday on the phone.

THE NBA LOCKOUT!!!

Again, do not really care.  Just find a way to play the games, assholes.  As a quick aside:

Was there anything more satisfying than watching LeBron James lose in the NBA Finals?  Fuck you, LeBron, fuck you with a hot iron.  I hope he gets in a car accident and never plays again.

What else.

Christ, I don't know.  Hockey?  It's the off season.  Whaddya want me to say?  Women's World Cup?  The US women had their chance and pulled a Mama Cass.  Golf?  Nascar?  I don't care about those two sports.

Ben Wills is getting married!  Hopefully he'll have something to say about that soon.

I'll really try to keep up with this on a regular basis, but honestly, if you want updates, email me and I'll make you an administrator.  Then you can write your own articles!!!

Onward.

-Terrence Adams 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

JIM TRESSEL KEEPS TRYING TO SEXT ME, TWITTERVERSE, BASEBALL AND WHY UCONN SHOULD NOT BE PROUD OF THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP WIN

It's been a while, me droogies, so let's get right into the jelly-filled portion of the donut. 

Jim Tressel is a cheater.  You know what that makes him, right?  You guessed it, that makes Jimmy Tressel a legitimate coach in NCAA football.  You're a real boy now, Jim! 

Honestly, anyone who was shocked that Tressel lied to save his own ass must also believe that the Easter Bunny is real and that God exists and rides unicorns to work.  The NCAA, especially when it comes to football, will always be brimming with secret monetary kickbacks, dastardly deeds and just plain lowdown actions.  The fact that Tressel got busted just reinforces my belief that none of these coaches are clean in any capacity.  So yeah, suspend him and erase the accomplishments of last season, it won't change anything.  Just ask Auburn and USC.

NEXT

I am crushing this Twitter stuff.  Absolutely owning it.  As we speak, yours truly is kicking 100 followers in the ass.  It may not be at Kanye levels, but it's something and sometimes something is better than nothing.  Plus hashtags are fantastic. 

NEXT

Anyone notice that baseball started?  I KNOW I DID!  I went so far as to go to Opening Day last week for my beloved (and 5-0) Cincinnati Reds!  I got loaded with a bunch of Reds fans for the first time in almost eight years.  It was beautiful.  I will say that the Brewers would probably have won at least one game of that series had they switched back to their royal blue pinstriped uniforms.  Those things were amazing.  They were truly meant to be worn by someone who is on the verge of tossing his lunch due to beer bonging the entire Miller factory.  The Astros, unfortunately, are dogshit regardless of which uniform they're rolling into in the morning.  They suck.

This MLB season is going to be interesting.  Early signs indicate that whereas last year was the (ugh) "Year of the Pitcher", this year will shape up to be the (ugh) "Year of the Hitter".  So far their have been over twenty blown saves across the league.  Twenty.  That's bad.  That means that there's a lack of quality closers out there, that bullpens are stripped down and that injuries are hurting everyone.  Of course, we won't really know how things are panning out until about the thirty game mark for most teams, but right now you can bet your bottom dollar that the Red Sox will get better and that the Pirates will get worse. 

NEXT

Anyone catch that college basketball championship game?  You know, the one that had me thinking that I was watching a New York Liberty/Los Angeles Sparks game?  Butler and UConn should give those fans their money back.  That was maybe the worst display by two supposed "champion" teams I've seen in quite some time.  Kemba Walker doesn't understand the haters that are ripping him on his Twitter.  Well Kemba, let me tell you why people are hating on you: 

1. Your team should've been beat and didn't deserve to win
2. Your team would've been beat by anyone who could shoot even thirty percent during a game
3. You entertained zero people outside of Connecticut, which is a state full of rich know it alls, criminals (Hartford) and worst of all....Yankees fans. 

Also, Butler missed more shots than an anxious college freshman during rush week.  Rimshot.

NEXT

Well, I'm in Ohio now.  I moved here.  New York City can suck it. 

Onward.

- Terrence Adams

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A New Baseball Season Is Upon Us, I've Been Horribly Lazy


It's February 24th, 2011 and I haven't updated this site in more than two months.  There's an explanation (well, multiple explanations) for this lag, but going into it (them) would just take you, fair reader, down the rabbit hole of massive, eye fluttering depression.  Just know that it's not you, it's me.

Let's recap a few things that have happened in the sports world since last we jawed:


1.  The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl

Yeah, I know, there are plenty of folks out there who think that this was a fantastic game.  An instant classic.   I don't buy it.  The referees were a little too one sided and that first half was a little too much of an abomination on the Pittsburgh Steelers' sideline for this to be anything more than a game that was a shit show up until the last five minutes, where it got mildly interesting.  Would I be saying the same thing if the Steelers had won?  Yes, because I hate the Steelers.  I just happen to hate the Packers more.


2.  There were a million trades and signings in Major League Baseball

Zack Greinke is now a Brewer, Cliff Lee is a Phillie once again, Adrian Gonzalez is a Red Sock and Carl Crawford is a...well, a Red Sock as well.  Those are the big moves that happened this off season, but there were plenty of smaller ones that may have serious impact on this upcoming season.  What's the biggest one, you ask?  I'm gonna go ahead and say that the White Sox's acquisition of Adam Dunn is going to catapult them into the front runner role in the AL Central.  The man was born to be a DH, and as a DH he will no longer be a logjam on the defensive end of things.  More on baseball in a minute, but let's finish this recap first.


3.  Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick

Last night 'Melo made his debut for the Knicks and dropped 27 points on 10-25 shooting on the Bucks.  Not bad, but not great either.  The more important debut was that of his trade partner Chauncey Billups, who's 21 points and 8 assists instantly made Knicks fans forget the name Felton ever existed.  I'm of the mind that we won't know the quality of this trade for some time.  The Knicks gave up quite a bit of their young core of players (not to mention $3 million) to get Carmelo, and the rumors that Isiah Thomas was the ringmaster behind the deal does not bode well for the franchise's future.  However, for at least one evening, the trade paid quality dividends.  The Knicks will make the playoffs this year and may escape the first round, but the big ol' elephant-sized question in the room will, for me at least, be whether or not they couldn't have done the same thing without making this trade.  My guess: probably.


4.  I have become an unabashed Twitter addict

I'm live blogging everything from award shows to random thoughts that come to my head at four in the morning.  I cannot be stopped.  Yes, the twitter updates will relate to sports on a regular basis, but I've given up the ghost on only tweeting about these things.  I'm going to be live blogging the Oscars this Sunday, for Christ's sake.  Follow me @Victrola_Cola_1.  And yes, I am a total fucking shill.


Okay, Let's roll forward like a fat guy in a potato sack race, shall we?

Baseball is soooo close.  Can you feel it?  I can feel it.  This winter has been brutal in New York City.  The sky has shit out more snow than Lindsay Lohan on a Sunday morning and at times it's been so cold that I've been forced to stop my testicles from booking plane tickets to California while I'm asleep more than once.  Any decent American will look forward to baseball season just because it's baseball season, but this year there are so many interesting story lines that will keep even the marginal sports fans' attention.  Let's name some:


1.  The Phillies may have one of the best rotations in MLB history

I'm not gonna mince words, I hate the Phillies.  That being said, is there anyone in either league that will be able to beat this rotation?  Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt are brutal competition.  You're gonna see a lot of analysts pick them to win the World Series this year and I can't rightly blame them.  The only thing that can beat the Phillies is themselves at this point.  Last year, their offense took a two month vacation in the middle of the season, and that very well may be the case once again this year.  The only difference is that they'll have four pitchers in their rotation that can hold a one run lead almost every time out.


2.  The Brewers are the most improved team in baseball

The addition of Zack Greinke almost immediately makes the Brew Crew the best team in the NL Central this year.  I don't like saying that.  I'm a Reds fan, but how can you talk shit about a team that added a bona fide ace to their staff and still retain one of the better offenses in baseball.


3.  That being said, the Cincinnati Reds are still something to reckon with

There are always going to be plenty of 'ifs' with this team until they reel off two or three winning seasons in a row.  This year the 'ifs' reside in the infield, the starting rotation and the middle relief.  Paul Janish may be the starter of the future for the Redlegs, but the organization showed only marginal faith in him when they signed Edgar Renteria to be his back-up.  All the Renteria signing should mean to Janish is that if he has a bad first month or two, his starting job will be a thing of the past.

The starting rotation will most likely be Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Travis Wood and Homer Bailey to start the season, but that could change immediately depending on the joint performances of Volquez and Bailey.  Volquez has yet to show consistency since coming back from Tommy John surgery and though receiving the opening day start is quite a vote of confidence, there is no guarantee that his job will remain at the top of the rotation through the All-Star break, especially with Johnny Cueto quickly becoming an ace in his own right.  This may be Homer Bailey's last stand with the Reds and one has to assume he knows it.  Mike Leake won't be hanging around for long in the minor leagues and Homer has to realize that he's the weakest link thus far.   

For better or worse, Francisco Cordero will be the Reds' closer once again this year.  For better or worse, Nick Masset will be the 8th inning man, most likely sharing time with Aroldis Chapman.   When Masset is being used, Chapman will most likely be the seventh inning man along with a myriad of different guys.  In that group you're definitely going to see Logan Ondrusek, Bill Bray and Jared Burton.  You might also be seeing Dontrelle Willis and Jose Arrendo.  It's almost like there are just too many guys to fill a small number of available spots.  If there's someone to root for, it's gotta be Willis, who is an amazingly great person who has had such an unbelievably tough time getting back to his All-Star caliber performances of years past.


4.  The Red Sox are probably going to destroy everyone

I almost puked after typing that.  There's part of me that wishes that Bud Selig would just put the Yankees and Red Sox in their own division and let them hash it out all season long to make it into the playoffs so that we only have to see one of those teams with post season patches on their ball caps.  Kind of like a 162-game series play-in-game.  Anyways, yeah, the Red Sox got Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford and will most likely smoke everyone else in the AL East without blinking an eye.  So be it.


5.  But, The Orioles might be an interesting sleeper this year

The additions of Vlad Guerrero, Mark Reynolds and Derrek Lee to a lineup that already includes Nick Markakis Brian Roberts and Matt Wieters will make the O's offense something to reckon with, even if Luke Scott is batshit insane.   They're gonna have to score a fuck ton of runs though, because their pitching staff will once again be one of the worst in baseball.  Outside of Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz (who should probably be the opening day starter but isn't), the Orioles have a starting rotation that wouldn't even be competitive on most minor league teams.


6.  The odds of the San Francisco Giants repeating are actually not too bad

Their amazing pitching staff is intact and for the most part the offense will be pretty much the same.  You really can't count them out, especially when you consider they're still going to be coming out of the shithole that is the National League West.


7.  Miguel Cabrera's alcoholism will either make the Detroit Tigers better or sink them

And yes, it is alcoholism.  The man needs to either take a season off and go to rehab legitimately or retire...and go to rehab.  Cabrera shouldn't be punished by Selig, but he should be pushed into a situation where he is forced to get help.  So far his teammates have rallied around him, but through a 162-game season, this story is bound to wear on them.  Only time will tell how the Tigers will respond to the pressure of being in a negative spotlight because of one player.


8.  The Pujols conundrum is only going to get worse

Adam Wainwright's season being done is not only disastrous for this year's St. Louis Cardinals, it will also be disastrous for next year's and the year after that.  Any hope the Cards had of bringing Albert Pujols back died with the fraying of Wainwright's ligament.  It wasn't looking too hopeful as it was, considering the inexplicable incapability of St. Louis' ownership to make any legitimate effort at a contract extension this off season.   How do you not even make an effort?  Anyways, Pujols will put up his usual numbers and will be a huge trade name at the deadline while he waits patiently to get a huge paycheck at season's end.  I'm not gonna say that I'm gonna enjoy watching the Cardinals fail.  But I'm totally gonna enjoy watching the Cardinals fail.


9.  Bryce Harper is gonna get called an asshole a whole lot

He may be an outstanding prospect, but Bryce Harper is such an unbelievable asshat that he may make everyone forget that fact.  This kid has his head stuck farther up his ass than O.J. Simpson on the trail of the real killers.  He may hit the ball a ton, but he's gonna have to learn how to be humble if he's gonna get into the good graces of real baseball fans.


10.  I'm moving back to Ohio

So you guys are all gonna get some first hand accounts of what it's like to be at Reds games this season.  I'm psyched.  You're psyched.  We're all psyched.


Okay, that's all I got.  Once again, I'll be live blogging the Oscars with my buddy Kevin Elliott over at World of Wumme as well as on my twitter account (@Victrola_Cola_1) this Sunday.  Tune in for that.  I'll probably make some great sports references and use colorful language to a fault.  Fuckers.

Onward

- Terrence Adams





 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The NFL Sucks This Year, So Lets Talk About My Favorite Holiday Movies

Did anyone catch that Arizona Cardinals/San Francisco 49ers Monday night game?  What a shit show.  It was bad enough that everyone in the booth spent the majority of the broadcast sherkin' their jerkins over next Monday night's Jets/Patriots matchup but when you add in the depressing reality of how far the Cardinals franchise has fallen since their Super Bowl run it made watching the proceedings tantamount to witnessing someone etch their name into a wooden beam prior to hanging themselves. 

This has been the resounding feeling for me throughout this NFL season.  My team -- the Bengals -- are back to being a franchise that can't even lose in an interesting fashion, the Patriots are back to their "flys fucking" offensive schemes, Chris Johnson is legitimately human, Michael Vick can't even make the Eagles worth watching...I mean the list goes on.  The only team that's at all worth rooting for is the Atlanta Falcons, because Matt Ryan is the next Peyton Manning and Roddy White is maybe the most underrated playmaker in the league.  Plus they have cool uniforms. 

Also, can I just quickly say that my fantasy football team is a goddamn nightmare?  I'd like to personally thank Vernon Davis, Brandon Marshall, Zach Miller, Wes Welker and the Arizona Cardinals defense (bye week pick-up and subsequent drop) for roshambo-ing me into a fifth place spot and an almost definite first round playoff ousting.  I'd also like to personally tell Ben Wills to eat a dick for picking up Peyton Hillis.  You son of a bitch and your bullshit luck. 

Anyways, in an effort to take my mind off of this borefest I've decided -- in the name of the holiday season -- to rank my five favorite holiday movies of all time.  There's no real order to this, just five movies that I enjoy watching whenever this time of year rolls around.

THE BEST GODDAMN HOLIDAY MOVIES EVER 

5. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
When I was a kid going through puberty there were two movies that gave me my first crushes.  One was Batman Returns with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.  She wore skin-tight patent leather for an hour and a half and purred a lot, I was mesmerized.  The other was Home For The Holidays with Holly Hunter.  It was those legs!  Holy moly!  And the fact that she was super pretty and down to earth and cursed and stuff!  Anyways, I loved this movie for her down to earth hotness. 

In recent viewings,however, I've come to love everything else about this movie (except for Dylan McDermott, because fuck that pretty boy).  First of all, you've got Anne Bancroft just straight up owning the screen.  Second of all, you've got a quite obviously HOPPED UP Robert Downey Jr. acting circles around everyone without ever really trying.  You have to wonder how fucked up he was during the shooting of this movie.  I've read stories, but you know it was probably way worse than what people are letting on.  Third of all, Downey's character was a gay man who had just gotten married and his parents accepted him and were only angry that he refused to let them to close to his personal life.  You also had a single mom story line that at times had very dark overtones.  The only drawback to this movie is the bullshit copout romantic comedy ending that kind of cheapens the whole thing.  Dylan McDermott didn't need to be there at all and only served as eye candy for all the female viewers. 

There's some priceless one liners and over all this movie makes you both miss your family and loathe them at the same time.  Annual watching is expected and deserved. 

4. HOME ALONE
First of all, can you believe that this movie was made into a Nintendo game?  I totally forgot about that.  I remember renting it maybe one time and having the worst time ever.  I always hated the fact that Nintendo pretty much just started putting out complete dogshit in its later years.  For every RC Pro-Am there was a Battletoads, and that should never be forgotten. 

However, as far as the Home Alone movie is concerned, if you don't at least feel the need to watch it every year then you're not really human and were never a child with fantasies about being the ultimate hero.  I gotta be honest, I still laugh when Joe Pesci gets shot in the nuts with that bb gun.  Totally worth it every time.  I could honestly do without the overt Christian overtones, but whatever, it kinda works considering that there's so much violence in the movie.  Also, you can't go wrong with a movie starring any SCTV alumi, especially when one of those alums is John Candy.

3. THE REF
Before Bad Santa there was The Ref.  This was made back when Denis Leary wasn't so concerned with being taken seriously as a dramatic actor.  Also, this was before Kevin Spacey was doing the things that made him Kevin Spacey.  It's a film full of curse words and hilarious interplay between the main characters.  Also, it doesn't copout at the end like Home For The Holidays did.  These characters change, but only at gunpoint.  Watching this makes me miss the days when Denis Leary was purely known as a rant comic.  His talents overflow in this movie and I always seem to catch a new joke every time I watch it.  My favorite line?  When Leary is talking to Spacey's evil bitch of a mother, he has this quip about her dead husband, "Your husband ain't dead, lady.  He's hidin'."  I've been waiting my whole life to use that line without being punched in the face.   

2. NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION 
Here lies the comedic career of Chevy Chase.  Holy shit did he ever go downhill from this movie.  Whether it be Vegas Vacation or Snow Day, Chevy Chase's last hurrah as a comedic actor was always going to be this movie.  The timing is amazing, the adult themes are very adult and that fucking house lighting shit is amazing.  It's disheartening that the National Lampoon's franchise hasn't made a film of this kind of quality in so long.  I mean, really?  We really have to sit through Van Wilder?  That shit is the same reason Mad Magazine lost its luster.  Comedy films lost the ability to be both intelligent and nasty at the same time.  Ugh.  Anyways, this is a Christmas staple for me and deserves a top five spot.  

1. DIE HARD
  
Die Hard is not only the best Christmas movie ever made, but it's also the best action movie ever made.  Period.  I could watch this movie and only this movie for the rest of my life and I'd be entertained until my last breath.  John McClain is an iconic figure in American cinema.  Alan Rickman is the best villain ever and...well...Yippee Kay Yay Mother Fucker!  
So there you go, a holiday movie list.  It's better than whatever the hell is going on in the NFC West, right?  Right.  

Let me also say that college basketball is shaping up to be very, very competitive this year, especially in the Big Ten.  

Let me also also also say that Cam Newton is a goddamn bitch.  I hope Oregon wipes the floor with Auburn.  I also hope that Ohio State makes the Sugar Bowl.  

I also hope that all of you fine folks have a nice holiday season.  

Onward.  

-Terrence