Monday, May 31, 2010
One of the biggest stories of this year’s World Cup revolves around Argentinean superstar, Lionel Messi, and manager Diego Maradona. Messi, who plays for Barcelona, scored 34 goals this past season, four short of the single season record. For his accomplishments, Messi was awarded the FIFA World Player of the Year. However, internationally Messi continues to play below the level that he does for his club team.
Much like Messi, Maradona was considered by many to be the greatest soccer player of all time while still playing. In international play, however, Maradona was also sensational. The pinnacle of his play came in the 1986 World Cup, in which he served as captain for an Argentina team that won the tournament. He was awarded the Golden Ball award (tournament MVP) as well. Maradona is now responsible for coaching the Über-talented Messi.
For Barcelona, Messi plays the wing, which allows him to use his tremendous speed and ball control to take the ball, from the outside, towards the net and score. Very similarly, Maradona often employed long sprints down the sideline of the field, which he then turned into goals for either his teammates or himself. To highlight the similarities, you simply need to look at the similarities between these two absolutely insane goals(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYet49BToLw - hyperlink isn't working). If you didn’t just click on my link, please reconsider as both goals are truly spectacular.
Most football fans around the world cite Diego Maradona as the reason for Messi’s disappointments internationally. Instead of playing Messi on the wing, where he can do the things we just saw, Maradona employs him as a deep striker. In other words, Messi plays more in the middle of the field. Maybe I just don’t understand soccer enough, but in my mind, the decision making of Maradona is something simply not scene in American sports. A team’s best player in almost any sport essentially determines the team’s strategy. Could you imagine if Phil Jackson decided one day that, no, Kobe Bryant will no longer be playing shooting guard, but instead, he’ll play the point. He’s still a guard, just a different kind of guard. That would never, ever happen! Kobe has made a career out of scoring, not passing. A move like that one would be absolutely ludicrous; totally unheard of; unacceptable. Yet, for whatever reason, Argentina allows Maradona to be a mad scientist, as he attempts to concoct unconventional and damaging formations. If Argentina wants to advance beyond the second round, during which they will most likely play Mexico or Uruguay, then Messi will need to either adapt to his new role or Maradona will need to let him play the wing.
Moving now to our own country, this year appears to be a very promising one for the United States. To say that many Americans are not interested in soccer would be an understatement. However, the popularity of the sport has increased since the last World Cup. One of many causes for this phenomenon is the fact that ESPN will be providing coverage for every World Cup Match. This means that the “worldwide leader in sports” needs to provide anticipation leading up to the big event. One needs to look no further than some of the most recent “This is Sportscenter” commercial’s to see an example of this.
Another reason for increased US interest has been the emergence of several talented American players. The list includes Landon Donovan, probably the greatest American soccer player of all time, Oguchi Onyewu, who plays for A.C. Milan and, when healthy, is a fine defender, Jozy Altidore, who scored 6 goals in 2010 World Cup Qualifiers, Clint Dempsey, a talented player who is dangerous as both a winger and forward, and Tim Howard, one of the best goalies in the world. Also potentially dangerous is Herculez Gomez, whose 10 goals are tied for the league lead in the Mexican Primera División.
The World Cup is organized so that each team is placed in an initial Group that contains three additional countries. Each team within the group then plays each other, in a round-robin format. The two teams with the best record advance to the round of 16, which is the first elimination round. The United States has benefited greatly by being placed in Group C, along with Slovenia, England, and Algeria. England is obviously the strongest country in the Group, and will probably advance with a record of 3-0. However, you have to like the chances of the US to beat out Slovenia and Algeria, two teams that are ranked lower than the United States. Then again, most people would probably not have picked Ghana to advance out of the pool containing the United States, the Czech Republic, and Italy, the eventual World Cup champions, in the 2006 World Cup. It’s going to be tough, but I like America’s chances of reaching the field of 16.
It’d probably be judicious of me to continue to concentrate on the analysis of various nations. It’d probably be judicious of me to discuss some of the best players in the world such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Xavi, Kaka, and Didier Drogba. It’d probably be judicious for me to read the ESPN article about the World Cup from May 26 entitled, “How to sound smart at the watercooler.” It’d probably be judicious for me not to reveal that I did not actually read that article. Yet, I did not read that article and I will not be discussing any of the previously mentioned things. Instead, I will spend that page space discussing Zakumi , the mascot of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Zakumi, who appears to be a perfect cross between a leopard and a Dragon Ball Z character, is a fictional character whose date of birth is June 16, 1994. This has raised questions across the world as to whether or not Zakumi is too young to handle the responsibility that comes with being the World Cup mascot. If I am not mistaken (who really knows) some mascot rights organizations have had a serious problem with this, as they view the treatment of Zakumi as the taking advantage of a minor. Even more disturbing than the potential mistreatment, is the thing’s motto: “Zakumi's game is Fair Play.” Um, excuse me? Did Zakumi just speak in the third person? I don’t think he’s reached the stage in his career to speak in such a fashion. This is exactly why you cannot give characters the ability to be a mascot until they reach at least the age of 18. All the fame is going to Zakumi’s head. Although, on a more serious note, is “Zakumi’s game is Fair Play” the best that the FIFA people could think of? Really!? I understand that in previous years, sportsmanship has been hard to come by. However, if I was forced to devise a more generic, blah statement than that one I’m pretty sure that I’d fail miserably.
Zakumi Prediction: Zakumi performs well when it doesn’t matter but quickly crumbles under the pressure of an elimination round. Look for him to misrepresent the spirit of the World Cup come the Round of 16. Zakumi Question: Who will be seen on ESPN more this World Cup, Zakumi or Messi? Zakumi Observation: Messi and Zakumi kind of look alike.
Moving back to the actual tournament, it can be very difficult to do any type of bracket for the World Cup, since the seedings can be rearranged depending on each nation’s record in their respective pools. Therefore, I will simply predict my final four teams left and go from there.
Semifinal 1: Portugal vs. Germany
In order to reach this stage, Portugal is going to need to defeat some of the finest teams in the world, beginning with advancing out of the strongest group, Group G, which contains Brazil, Ivory Coast, and North Korea. If they can make it out of the group, they will most likely need to play Spain, considered by many as the most talented team in the World Cup, and Italy, the defending World Cup champions. This said, I believe they will come out on top in all those matches. Led by Cristiano Ronaldo, the explosive forward, and Ricardo Carvalho, a dependable defender, Portugal is a highly experienced team that, despite limping into the World Cup with some less than satisfactory performances, will be able to pull it all together for the biggest tournament of their lives.
If Germany can advance from Group D with the strongest record, they will likely face first, the United States, and then Argentina. The road may be easier than that of Portugal, but that is not to say they will not encounter strong opposition from the Americans and then, obviously, the potentially dangerous Argentina. Many of Germany’s players, such as recently appointed captain, Philipp Lahm, and vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, are a part of a Bayern Munich team that finished second in the Champions League that concluded earlier this month. Much like Portugal, the German squad has its fair share of experienced players, like the aforementioned Lahm, but is also replete with young talent in the forms of forward, Thomas Müller, midfielder and likely future German icon, Toni Kroos, and the 6' 3" defender, Jerome Boateng.
Verdict: Because a combination of experience, youth, and a winning traditional from all their Bayern Munich stars, I like Germany to pull the mini-upset over Portugal, by a score of 2-1.
Semifinal 2: Brazil vs. France
Upon receiving a relatively easy draw, with the likes of Mexico, Uruguay, and the host-nation, South Africa, France is able to advance to the field of 16 with relative ease. The next game will most likely be against Nigeria or Greece, neither of which should be able to defeat France. Then, in what will be the most entertaining match thus far in the tournament, France will come out on top over the favored England team. France is another experienced team, and will be led by midfielder, Frank Ribery, and a fine defensive unit compossed of Eric Abidal, Gael Clichy, Patrice Evra, and William Gallas. Look for the defensive group to lead the way throughout the tournament and against Brazil.
Brazil, the number one seed in the World Cup, will advance out of the challenging group G with the best record. Look for them to then defeat whoever they are paired against in the Round of 16, and probably win over the Netherlands, a talented but often disappointing team. They are ranked number one in the world for a reason, as the team is composed of several of the planet’s top players, such as Kaka, Felipe Melo, Thiago Silva, Daniel Alves, and goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Interesting observation about the team; of the 23 men on the roster, 14 of them are listed as having a single name.
Verdict: Brazil comes out on top to head to the World Cups finals again to compete for their sixth championship, the most of all time. France puts up a good fight, but falls 1-0.
Finals: Germany vs. Brazil
The finals will feature the number one ranked team in the world against the sixth ranked nation. If Brazil is to be considered the most successful team in World Cup history, then Germany is probably number two. The final is a rematch of the 2002 World Cup final, won by Brazil, which was the first and only time the two have competed against each other in World Cup competition. History will repeat itself as Brazil defeats Germany, in overtime, by the score of 2-1. Kaka is presented with the Golden Ball, as he continues a tradition of great Brazilian football stars.
Well, that concludes my World Cup preview. Then again, what do I really know? Let’s hope enough to maintain any glimpses of dignity I’ve garnered thus far.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Today's been pretty busy for me and I have not had the time to write a new article. However, since I know how eager and expectant everyone is on a new article at least 4 days a week, I have decided to post an excerpt from a paper I wrote last winter. The paper is essentially about the modern use of statistics in baseball. It's pretty interesting so I thought maybe people would enjoy it. That said, it was for a research class, and thus, pretty void of humor which, assuming that there is humor on this blog site to begin with, is a bit unfortunate.
As for the poll question, we had a tie (gasp! no, not a tie!) for the world cup and a personal story. So, I will attempt to write both at some point within the next week and a half.
Enjoy the excerpt!
"In 1977, James wrote his first book, the Baseball Abstract, which he advertised in various baseball publications. In this book, James questioned commonly held baseball theories. “’People say things about baseball,’ explains James, ‘and I want to find out whether they are true. So I have to figure out how to find out if they are true. I write about the process of finding out and about the results.’” This baseball analysis is known as sabermetrics, named after the Society for American Baseball Research. James’ abstracts had a small response but over the years, as he continued to improve them, his audience broadened. James introduced new statistics to evaluate players. His most notable ones were “Runs Created,” which combined total bases, hits, and walks, and “Range Factor,” a method of evaluating fielding beyond the number of errors made. By 1984 James found himself at the center of the baseball numbers’ world. His abstracts became perennial bestsellers and statistics in baseball had emphasis like never before.
Coinciding with James and his abstracts was the creation of rotisserie or Fantasy Baseball. In his highly respected book, Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game, Jim Albert writes, “Next to stock market analysis, [Fantasy Baseball] may be the most widespread application of statistics in the United States.” The roots of this craze can be traced back to Dan Okrent. In 1980, Okrent assembled a group of his friends and proposed an idea to make watching baseball more exciting. He claimed that “Rotisserie baseball,” which was named off the restaurant where they met, gave the common fan the opportunity to manage a baseball team vicariously, and without needing millions of dollars. On the first Sunday of the season, Okrent and eleven others drafted real baseball players onto their imaginary teams, which would be judged based on how each team’s players hit and pitched. It was not long before Okrent’s creation began to dominate the group’s lives. He said, “’Each morning, all of us ran to the box scores, manically searching the agate type for news.’” The following spring, Okrent wrote an article in Inside Sport and explained his creation. Across the country, Fantasy Baseball leagues formed. By the time the original twelve people were selling their book, Rotisserie League Baseball, there were hundreds of thousands of fans participating in rotisserie leagues.
The popularity of Okrent, James, and their respective creations can be attributed to the emergence of computers. In as early as 1965, various companies, such as General Electric and Information Concepts, Inc., were creating massive computers to grind out numbers to be used by statisticians. The Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia was published in 1969 and created entirely by a computer program. Corporations with computers had means of calculating statistics faster, and with more accuracy. Once computers became available for personal use, individuals were given the same opportunities to calculate a wide range of statistics. In its infant stage, Fantasy Baseball required participants to sieve through the newspapers to find their players’ numbers. Finding and calculating data became simple with the invention of the computer, more specifically the Internet. In 1985 a program was created that instantly calculated Rotisserie League standings. According to the Sporting News, “’The Rotisserie phenomenon has a lot to do with the development of the personal computer. The computer makes it easier for everyone to get involved.’” The Internet is also responsible for the camaraderie that emerges because of online discussion. This will be discussed more in depth later.
A broad examination of statistics in Major League Baseball as a whole is well beyond the scope of this project. However, by analyzing one team, the Boston Red Sox, we can see how their recent actions epitomize the power of numbers in baseball today. At the end of 2002, the Boston Red Sox decided to take a statistical approach to winning baseball games after an 84 year World Series drought, during which they used a more traditional method. The front office for the Red Sox brought in Bill James to be an analyst. This move by the Red Sox was viewed as “cutting edge” by various baseball figures. He supplemented scouting operations and evaluated trade potentials. In addition, James was finally given an opportunity to test some of his long held beliefs. One of James’ theories is that closers should not be limited to ninth inning appearances. In many cases, these games are no longer close. James argued:
Essentially using your relief ace to protect a three-run lead is like a business using a top executive to negotiate fire insurance. If you have a fire and you’re not insured, obviously that’s a huge loss. But the reality is that, even if you don’t carry any insurance, you’re not likely to have a fire. And while you may desperately need insurance, that doesn’t mean that it is therefore essential to assign your best executive to negotiate it. There are other people who can take care of that kind of work.
The Red Sox announced that in 2003 relievers would be used, “according to logic, not legend.” However “logical” James’ theory may have been, the strategy failed miserably. Boston relief pitchers’ had an ERA of 4.83, third worst in the major leagues. Management attributed this to weak pitchers, not poor strategy. Nonetheless, the Red Sox were able to make it to the playoffs and the American League Championship Series. This is where the problems for the organization really began.
The Red Sox were in Game Seven of the ALCS against the New York Yankees. In the eighth inning, the Red Sox led five to two and were just five outs away from the World Series. When superstar pitcher Pedro Martínez gave up three straight hits and a run, manager Grady Little approached the mound, spoke with his ace, and decided to leave in Martínez. Little claimed his decision was based on his instincts, but he knew that after one hundred pitches, Martínez was a “ticking bomb.” The Boston Red Sox had arguably the most statistically adept front office in all of baseball, led by Bill James, yet they would suffer a downfall because of neglected data. Martínez was one of the best pitchers prior this benchmark but according to Peter Gammons, “afterward, nothing close.” The Yankees rallied against Martínez, won the game in the eleventh inning, and Little was fired.
Boston replaced Little with Terry Francona, a younger man who was supportive of the use of statistics. Apparently, the Red Sox wanted to have “’one unified organizational philosophy [towards statistics].’”However, management quickly realized that these words were too strong and clarified the above statement by saying that the Red Sox would not be a, “’stat geek organization.’” Even with the increased respect and use of statistics, the label of a “stat geek organization” is one that the front office fears. They could not risk a direct identification with the number-regurgitating, laptop-carrying figures who run the statistical world. The Red Sox needed to remain pure to the game of baseball and maintain its integrity. One general manager, Billy Beane, who is known for his respect of statistics, once responded to the notion of attending a SABR gathering with the words, “’That would be like Captain Kirk going to a Star Trek convention.’” Even after such tremendous evolution of statistics, managers must still make decisions based on other factors than pure statistics.
New statistics are created everyday to measure production, to prove a theory, or to reject a commonly held belief. In a project of any size, it would be an impossible endeavor to detail all of these obscure forms of measurement. Instead, we will look at one intriguing theory that has grown considerably in popularity over the last decade or so. For all of baseball’s existence, stories have been told of great hitters coming through in the clutch. Some of the most recognizable nicknames have been given based off this apparent skill. Reggie Jackson, whose plaque at Yankee Stadium reads: A prolific hitter who thrived in pressure situations, is known as Mr. October because of his “clutch” play during the playoffs. Statistical analysts would reject this notion claiming that “clutch hitting” does not actually exist.
The major argument is that no player consistently performs better in the clutch. Good players merely go on hot streaks. Sometimes these streaks occur during important situations but more commonly, they take place during insignificant points in the season. Statisticians contend that a player will eventually come to maintain his average in all situations. “’The problem with the postseason,” argues Keith Law, senior writer for Scouts Inc., “’is that we run into such small samples.’” One player that is typically viewed as clutch in modern baseball is Derek Jeter, “Mr. November.” Jeter is a career .316 hitter. With runners in scoring position he hits .311 and when there are two outs and runners in scoring position, he bats .317. In the postseason, the period in which he is best know for clutch hitting, Jeter has a .309 batting average. His numbers in pressure situations are very good, however they should be expected given his high career batting average.
In Curve Ball, Jim Albert lists the averages of the entire American League in various situations, which range from pressure-free to intense. A pressure-free situation would be batting lead off and an intense situation would be batting at the end of an inning with runners in scoring position. In total, there are ten different situations. The key observation is that the batting averages in those situations vary little. Between the lowest and highest averages there is only a twenty-seven-point difference. Therefore, even in so-called pressure situations, most players are not hitting significantly worse. When a player like Derek Jeter is able to maintain a high batting average in all situations, he is performing how major league baseball players do as a whole. Statistics are manipulated to prove a point convincingly in this analysis of clutch hitting.
The other widespread use of baseball statistics is in Fantasy Baseball. The evolution of Fantasy Baseball has reached new heights within the last few years. In his exploratory study of Fantasy Baseball, “Gambling in a Fantasy World,” Bo J. Bernhard discussed the evolution of Fantasy Baseball and the game’s pros and cons. Like real baseball, Rotisserie Baseball began as an activity for a specific group of people. Baseball was originally associated with the burly American and Fantasy Baseball was tied to socially challenged “geeks.” Over time Fantasy Baseball became a mainstream game and resultantly, an enormous industry. Bernhard estimates that 1.65 billion dollars are spent on Fantasy Baseball annually.
There are several pros surrounding Fantasy Baseball. The entire game is numerically based and several individuals have pointed to it as beneficial on the cognitive level. Bernhard discusses one school’s pre-algebra course that encouraged students to participate in Fantasy Baseball leagues. In addition, the nature of Fantasy Baseball lends itself to in depth discussions over the Internet, further benefitting the learning process. While this argument might seem rather farfetched, similar learning connections have already been found to exist in video games.
A more obvious benefit of Fantasy Baseball is that the game provides an outlet for competition. Rotisserie Baseball was originally created to validate the common fan’s claim that he or she can run a baseball team better than actual managers. Through playing Fantasy Baseball people can not only test this theory, but can see whether their friends can succeed in the same objective. Since people are most likely participating in a league with friends, Fantasy Baseball also builds camaraderie. This is done through lengthy online discussions as well as to face-to-face interactions at venues like the workplace.
For all of its positives, several people see Fantasy Baseball as an unfortunate phenomenon. As Bernhard’s title suggests, Rotisserie Baseball is a form of gambling and resultantly, has some negative effects. Most leagues involve some type of monetary incentive. People will naturally become more consumed. He sites several factors that contribute to diagnosing a gambling problem such as preoccupation, loss of control, restlessness, and irritability, all of which can develop through Fantasy Baseball. Participants are often consumed by their team and spend hours on their computers, often instead of performing their jobs.Fantasy Baseball can become so engrossing that one office in Chicago displays a sign, which reads, “’No Rotisserie in company common areas.’”
Another perceived problem with Fantasy Baseball is that it takes away loyalties. In a letter to Sports Illustrated, one irate fan expressed his feelings stating, “’[Fantasy sports] are a plague. Because individual statistical gluttony is the objective, the fantasy player’s rooting interests are perverted (who cares who wins, as long as my guys get their numbers?), and the true virtues of sports – teamwork and sacrifice – are obliterated.’”Historian Christopher Lasch calls Fantasy Baseball the epitome of a “’culture of narcissism.’” Furthermore, one critic protested that actual baseball has been buried “under the manipulation of stats and the exertion of wills.” Whether the manipulation of statistics in baseball is beneficial is a matter of opinion, but there is undeniable evidence that statistics have profound effects on the game.
Statistics control decisions made by managers and executives in baseball today and are the center of entertainment for the fans. Beginning with Chadwick’s simple introduction of the box score in baseball, the value and use of statistics have steadily grown over the last one hundred and fifty years. Statisticians, writers, players, and common fans have all increased the value of numbers in baseball. There is evidence for both the usefulness and inefficiency of these statistics. While managers like Terry Francona value statistics in the decision making process, they still like to make moves based on other factors. Bill James admits he is frequently wrong and often raised questions for which he does not know the answer. On the other hand, the Red Sox have won two World Series titles since bringing James aboard. Although it often seems that figures have been calculated for every situation, people continue to find more innovate and detailed methods of evaluation. For example, Ron Antinoja, a fifty-year-old former software engineer, invented an elaborate computer program that could chart hot and cold zones of any hitter facing any pitcher, in any situation imaginable with a click of the mouse. After witnessing Antinoja’s innovation, Bob Bowman, the CEO of mlb.com, clunked his forehead on his desk in amazement, exclaiming, “’That’s the slickest fuckin’ thing I’ve ever seen in my life.’” As these innovations continue to be made, statistics will continue to hold the interest of baseball fans."
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The above definition is not enough. To what level must a participant physically exert themselves? Just how much skill is required to be considered a sport? Lifting a grand piano requires a lot of physical exertion and some skill, but nobody would consider that a sport. Likewise, playing piano requires a tremendous amount of skill and enough physical exertion that fingers are prone to hurting afterwards. Again, however, I don’t think many people would call Mozart or Beethoven great athletes. Must athletes compete against others or can something still be a sport if you compete against yourself? After I go skiing I’m totally exhausted. That just required a lot physical exertion and skill, but I didn’t exactly compete against anyone. Does that fact that you can compete against someone in skiing make it a sport? I can compete against my friend in basket weaving, but just because it is possible does not mean that it’s a sport. Obviously, labeling one activity a sport and another just that, an activity, is an arduous endeavor, and one that can trigger a few nerves in other people. “So, what you’re saying is that I’m not an athlete because curling isn’t a sport!?”
Do not fret sports fans, for I am going to attempt something that no one has ever had the balls to attempt before. I will do my best to outline the exact specifications an activity must meet in order to be considered a sport. To do this, I will analyze typical “sports” of question and explain why or why not these activities are sports. In doing so, I will compile a list of Sports Rules. We will be starting with the obvious and moving towards to more borderline. Let’s hope I can get a better definition by the end of this.
Defendant 1: Poker
“I’m a sport, seriously. Lots of people like to think that in order to win at me you need luck and only luck. Well, that’s just incorrect. If that were true, how is it that we see the same pros year after year performing well in major tournaments. Maybe the winner of the Main Event is usually a no name, but there are just far more amateurs in the field then professionals. That’s just simple probability. I require skill, and lots of it. Another reason why you should declare me a sport is the physical toll tournaments can have on the players. Yeah, maybe they’re all seated, but can you imagine trying to concentrate on something for 5, 6, or 7 hours at a time?! You’re gonna be totally exhausted afterwards. And you can’t forget about the bluffing! Unlike football or basketball players who can wear their emotions on their sleeves, poker players need to conceal their excitement. That takes a lot of discipline and practice. Last of all, I am seen on ESPN, the Entertainment Sports Programming Network. The word “sport” is in the channels name!”
Verdict: No Way. Not really even worth the time I need to take to justify my decision. However, I will nonetheless elaborate on my reasons.
Rule 1: Any activity whose highest level of play has professionals playing non-professionals is not a sport. A computer salesman cannot just decide to join a MLB team.
Rule 2: If all participants can spend the entire activity sitting, it is not a sport. This, of course, does not apply to handicapped sports, where there is no choice but to sit.
Rule 3: Some poker players, such as Doyle Brunson, are old enough to have grandchildren. If you have grandchildren and can still compete, it is not a sport. In fact, if most participants can still compete past age 52, or be in their prime past age 37, it is not a sport. There are obviously a few exceptions to this rule for various athletes in other sports.
Rule 4: I have seen numerous appearances by poker players, such as the aforementioned Brunson, participate with broken legs, necks, and arms. If you can still play with a broken leg, arm, or neck, then you are not playing a sport.
Rule 5: Appearances on ESPN do not declare something a sport.
Defendant 2: Curling
“Come on now, this cannot be serious. I’m an Olympic Sport. That means I’m a sport. It’s that simple. Look at the people playing me. They look like athletes!”
Verdict: Good points, but no. The most compelling argument is that curling is an Olympic sport. Who am I to second-guess the Olympic committee? If they say it’s a sport, then it’s a sport, right? Wrong again! On top of violating rules 1 and 3, there are two other reasons curling remains an activity.
Rule 6: At no point in my life, have I ever watched a curling match and said, “That was athletic.” The curlers may be big, but the sport seems to be all about form and skill. So, if you can watch an hour of a sport and do not observe anything you see as a representation of speed, strength, agility, hand-eye coordination, or flexibility, then you are not watching a sport. I recognize this is more subjective, but it’s my blog, thus everything is subjective to me, and you’re reading it.
Rule 7: Defendant 1 proved that ESPN covers nearly everything that could be misconstrued as a sport. Even still, I couldn’t find anything on curling. It doesn’t even have its own section on the Olympic sport page. So, if it takes more than 1 minute to find the activities homepage on ESPN.com, it is not a sport. Along those lines, if the website for the sport looks like this http://www.curlingrocks.net/ and has the word “rocks” in it, it is not a sport. Unless of course we are discussing mountain climbing.
Defendant 3: Fishing
“I have my own section on ESPN.com. I require a careful balance of both skill and physical exertion. Our athletes are at the prime of their careers and far better than casual anglers.”
Verdict: Sorry, you are not a sport. Why? Fishing is in clear contradiction of several previously stated rules as well as a few new ones. The activity violates rules 3, 6, and others to be named later.
Rule 5b: According to rule 5, appearances on ESPN do not mean the activity is a sport. At least poker is seen during prime time. I understand that you need daylight when fishing, but they can at least show reruns during primetime, or after 10AM for that matter. Thus, if your only television coverage is before 11AM Eastern time, you are not a sport.
Defendant 4: World’s Strongest Man
(In an Eastern European Accent) “It easy to see we am sport. By winning championship you become strongest man of the world. That means you are big athlete. Competition is very difficult and people from all over planet attend. Besides, why would someone like you want to defy me? I break you!”
Verdict: You should be in contempt of court for that threat, but I will overlook your offense, mainly because you are correct. The World’s Strongest Man and similar competitions go to the very heart of sport. Has anyone seen the guys who compete in the event? They are mean, angry, big, and totally fueled by testosterone. If that is not the definition of an athlete then I don’t know what is.
Defendant 5: Bowling
“There is a lot of skill required to play me. I mean a lot! You may think it’s as simple as rolling a boll, but the professionals will tell you that there is a lot more to it then that. You have to take into account the oiling of the lane, the weight of the ball, and so many other things that I don’t want to go into it (this is absolutely not because these are all the things I can think of).”
Verdict: Nope. Bowling is a lot of fun and requires apparently far more skill then I have to offer. I am nothing short of awful at the activity. However, it meets its demise because it has violated rules 1, 3, and 7, in addition to the new one.
Rules 8: If someone 40 pounds overweight has the same chance at victory, and goes about reaching it in the same way, as someone 40 pounds underweight, these people are not playing a sport. Basically, weight does not matter, obviously within reason. This rule generally applies only to individual sports.
I will now take a brief pause in the trials, a lunch break if you will (you will). So far I have laid out some solid rules that can determine an activity’s qualifications. However, it was easy. I will now move my attention to the last 2 defendants. These guys are far more controversial. Before we go any further, I will introduce the final, and most important, rule.
Rule 9: Any activity in violation of at least 3 of rules 1-8 is not a sport.
Defendant 6: Golf
“Are you trying to tell me Tiger Woods is not an athlete?! He has to be one of the 20 best athletes on the planet! Come on now, this is turning into a witch-hunt! I am golf! People claim me as their favorite sport all the time. I am as much a sport as football, basketball, or baseball. Honestly, Adam, you should be ashamed of yourself. You've got a long way to go to be as good as your dad!!!”
Verdict: Well, this is a tough one. The biggest reason why I find it difficult to label golf an activity is, in fact, Tiger Woods. Golf is right, Tiger is an amazing athlete. In fact, I wouldn’t have said top 20 athlete, but rather, top 10. However, you will notice that, unlike many of the other sports on trial, golf never made reference to any of my previously stated qualifications. Golf is often too arrogant, believing they should be granted sportshood on history alone. The way I see it, they have blatantly violated rules 3 and 8. Moreover, they are in “partial” violations of the first rule. In fact, when Tiger is not playing, I find myself supporting the crippling rule 6. Yet, maybe because I have been brainwashed by golf for all of my life or maybe because I just really like Tiger Woods, I have decided to grant golf conditional sportshood. However, it can be taken away at any moment, since the “sport” is dangerously close to break rules 1 and 8, and thus, the only rule that matters, rule 9.
Defendant 7: NASCAR
“Do you know the only sport Americans watch more than me? Football; that’s it! How could I possibly not be a sport? Can you even imagine the physical toll that driving one of the cars for hours on end can have on your body? It’s absolutely brutal. I am a sport and if you say otherwise you are wrong!”
Verdict: Sorry NASCAR, but I believe you have violated rules 2, 3, and 8. According to rule 9, you are, therefore, not a sport. This is obviously the most controversial of my claims, but I do believe I am correct. Once again, NASCAR drivers may be the most talented people shown on ESPN, but they are not athletes. They must go through some grueling conditions throughout the course of a race and encounter often colossal and dangerous collisions and explosions, but these are the risks that come with the activity.
So, there you have it; a “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sports Qualification.” In one article, and basically one paragraph, I have managed to offend probably 100 million people. Not bad for one day. Feel free to reference this list when discussing any type of sport in question. I also welcome any banter, dissatisfaction, rule amendments, or agreements (doubtful) with anything I have said in this article, or any article for that matter.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The Jon Gruden Award for Most Memorable Sports Comment of all Time:
The inaugural recipient of this award is a long time contender and first time winner. With much honor, I present the award to Bobby Valentine for two consecutive comments made on Sports Center last Sunday. When referring to the abilities of a certain MLB player, Valentine said with full conviction, seriousness, and no suggestion of humor, “He plays the way my wife shops… All Day Long.” I mentioned this quote to my roommate, to which he responded, “His wife should be happy that’s all Bobby said. He could have said, ‘He plays like my wife screws/cheats/lies… All Day Long.’” He probably wrapped up the award with that one-liner alone, but if Bobby Valentine is anything it is thorough. When discussing managers’ decisions to sit starters, Valentine revealed that, “Robin Ventura was the only player who understood what I did with the playing on a regular basis.” Really? He was your only player who understood what you were doing on a regular basis? That cannot be a good thing. And what was so special about Robin Ventura? Does he read minds?
At first I was incredibly confused when New York Mets manager, Jerry Manuel, decided to pull John Maine after his first 5 pitches of the game last week. However, I now know he was probably just trained by ex-manager, Valentine. Confusion is apparently the New York Mets trademark, thus confirming what many already suspected. Maybe Robin Ventura could explain it to me.
The “Stan Van Gundy” Face Creating Moment of the Week:
Another new STD Day award is given out each week to something that makes me totally baffled. For inspiration, I try to recreate Van Gundy’s go-to look. It’s going to take me a while to master it though, as Van Gundy usually practices it for most of the Orlando Magic’s basketball games.
Can someone please explain to me why anyone would be happy with Ford’s “Swap Your Ride?” For those of you that haven’t seen the commercials, basically these self-righteous pricks from Ford go to random people’s houses and make the executive decision to do the ole’ flip-flop and take their victim’s cars and replace them with a new Ford vehicle. Most people are thrilled by this felony. Thrilled! Here’s how I envision the situation going with me.
“We just swapped your ride! If you look in your driveway you will see that your car, which you probably saved up for months in order to purchase, is missing! Don’t worry, you will also see we have replaced it with a Ford Fusion!”
“Gee, that’s awesome… But you better give me my damn car back or I’m suing your asses!”
While I appreciate the intentions of these glorified thieves, the bottom line is that they are committing Grand Theft Auto. However, they do offer the participants their car back after a week, so apparently that makes it okay. This new policy got me thinking.
Here’s an idea. Starting next month, Elite Miami Escort Service will begin a new event called “Swap Your Wife.” Tired of your old, dilapidated, cost-inefficient wife? Well, we have taken and replaced her with a new, young, hot, and best of all, cheap one! If you’re not happy with the change after one week you can get your old wife back free of charge. Believe us, though, studies have shown most men are really anxious to get rid of their wives. In fact, we have a 90% consumer satisfaction rate!
In The Face!
I have a long held belief that hockey players are not actually human. They don’t operate in the same way that human beings do. The Blackhawks’ win over the Sharks last weekend confirmed this fact, in which a flying puck smashed Duncan Keith in the mouth, causing him to lose seven teeth. Some teeth became high-speed projectiles while a few others got lodged down his throat, which he casually “coughed up” a bit later. This doesn’t even take into account that his mouth and tongue swelled up to 150% of their natural size. Of course, because he is a hockey player, and resultantly a type of organism that is above humans, Keith missed only a few minutes of play and recorded an assist in his return. Do they just have less pain receptors (the neuroscience I major in) or do they actually just not care. This situation reminded me of an event that happened to my brother.
Probably about 10 years ago, my family and I were vacationing in Florida. It was a beautiful night the day we arrived, so everyone was hanging outside of the resort. For some reason, my younger brother, Scott, and my cousin decided to start chasing each other around the outside area. At some point, the two of them rounded the same building, but coming from opposite sides, didn’t see each other until it was too late, and their heads collided. Unfortunately for my brother, my cousin’s head smashed so hard into his that he bit down with enough force to almost cut his tongue into two different pieces. He also got a few nice tooth marks on his face delivered from my cousin’s mouth. The scene was horrifically bloody. Scott was rushed to the hospital, hysterically crying the entire way. When I saw him again that night, Scott had a look on his face that said, “I just had the worst night of my entire life. I almost had two different tongues.” He could barely talk or eat for the rest of the vacation.
Now, let’s pretend that Scott was actually a young Keith Duncan. My dad would have taken Scott off to the side, washed the blood off his face, pulled out a few teeth that looked loose, and probably ripped the tongue in half and said, “It’ll heal. When we get home you can have a few new teeth.” To which Scott would have said, “Uhhgh. Leggts Vacation!”
The Cosmopolitan Award For Something That Is Written For the Wrong Audience:
Another new award! This will be given out weekly to something I have read on a sports website that seems like it should be found on another type of website (Cosmopolitan, People, Glamour). This week, the award goes to… Rich Cimini(!) for this selected paragraph taken from his article, Sanchez Attends Whitehouse Dinner, written on May 19, 2010.
“It probably wouldn't be a stretch to say Sanchez, who is single, ate better at the White House than if he had remained at home in New Jersey. The menu reportedly included Oregon wagyu beef in Oaxacan black mole for the entrée, accompanied by black bean tamalon and grilled green beans. For dessert, they had a choice of a chocolate-cajeta tart, toasted homemade marshmallows and Graham cracker crumble with goat-cheese ice cream.”
I have two major problems with this paragraph. First, what does Sanchez being single have to do with anything? It’s not even related to this totally random and irrelevant paragraph. Second, what the fuck is he talking about!? Forget the fact that the people reading this article are most likely sports enthusiasts. Would a reader of foodnetwork.com even know what this meant? Does Cimini even know this means? No way for both those questions. Regardless, look for Sanchez to eat wagyu beef on the sideline next season, a clear upgrade from hotdogs.
Some things don’t need too much explaining. Here is a quick list of some things I’ve been thinking.
-The Washington Nationals must pursue Roy Oswalt. The guy has been a model of consistency over the last 10 or so years. With up-and-coming phenom Stephen Strasburg getting ready to advance into the majors, having an experienced pro like Oswalt can be very beneficial. Not only will he be a great mentor to Strasburg, but the two could become a great pitching duo for the next 2-4 years, since Oswalt is only 32. They could immediately compete for the division.
-Sports Science is dumb. On the short segment, typically seen on Sports Center, this dude explains various connections between past and present sporting events and ties in simple geometry, ratios, and “science” to explain the happenings. It’s totally nonsensical and is just an example of ESPN pandering to their educated audiences. However, I think most of these people are smart enough to realize its all bullshit.
-A recent Hanes commercial for undershirts, featuring Michael Jordan, has introduced the term “Bacon Neck,” which refers to the phenomenon of an individual’s undershirt getting a little scrunched and folded at the top. Apparently this is an absolute fashion faux pas, but I have never really paid much attention to it. To think I’ve been walking around with a bacon neck all my life! That’s just awful! My real problem with this though, is the terminology. Bacon neck? See, if someone told me I had a bacon neck I’d get pretty offended, not because my undershirt is ruffled, but because I’d think they are telling me I have a double chin. It’s ironic though, because in the commercial MJ is avoiding the bacon neck by wearing Hanes’ new type of shirt. However, he’s gonna have my definition of a bacon neck if he doesn’t watch that weight.
More STDs next week.
Monday, May 24, 2010
As the school year winds down, tennis fans around the world get excited for the always-interesting French Open. The reasons for such excitement of course, aside from the convenient 7AM matches are 1.) the clay surface makes for the most unique game play compared to any other surface and 2.) Rafael Nadal has dominated it for the last half a decade. However, there is much more.
A year ago, Roger Federer was finally able to capture the elusive French Open, thus giving him the career grand slam and a legitimate claim, which I believe is true, as the greatest tennis player to ever live. However, many saw the victory as tainted, since Federer did not need to face Rafa, the then number one player in the world, in the finals after he fell to Robin Söderling in the fourth round. In Rafa’s defense, he was battling a knee injury during this time. Nonetheless, the French Open champion was a man other than Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004.
This year, Rafa is back and looking poised to take his fifth French Open title, which would put him just one back of Björn Borg’s record six championships. In my article “The Greatest Rivalry” I spoke of the intensity of the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. Rafa and Fed are approaching that level. At the French, this battle is especially interesting. On one side, you have Roger Federer, arguably the best tennis player of all time. On the other side is Rafa Nadal, arguably the best clay player of all time. Either way, someone great is going to win, that is, assuming they meet in the finals, which took place from 2006 to 2008.
Despite Federer’s age, this French may prove to be the greatest of the Nadal-Federer era. For one, Federer has already won it. He seems to avoid pressure better than almost any athlete on the planet, but one cannot help but think that during that 3-year stretch, Federer was thinking about what a French title would mean for his career resume and was wondering if could ever actually defeat Nadal on his home court. Beating Nadal to win the French would still be the greatest victory of Fed’s career and make the “best tennis player of all time” argument a mute one, but he doesn’t need to achieve this to reach tennis immortality. Another reason to anticipate a tremendous Rafa-Fed final would be Federer’s victory in Australia earlier in the year. By winning the first major tournament of the year, Federer has the ability, once again, to complete a career gland slam, which he has never done successfully. From 2008 to 2009, there was a 5-Major Tournament stretch during which Federer won just one title. He was losing confidence and everyone could see it. However, Federer has regained his younger form and taken 3 of the last 4 majors since then. On the other side of the spectrum, Nadal has not made a major FINAL since he won the 2009 Australian Open.
Roger Federer may have never killed or raped anyone, stolen anything, or been caught with possession of drugs or weapons, but he is one mean bastard. He doesn’t admit it, or come off overly arrogant, but Federer truly enjoys displaying his total dominance. When the guy rips a forehand down the line or hits the ball through his legs for a winner, you know he thinks to himself, “Let’s just all admit there has never been anyone like me. I am the best. I’ve got the most titles. I was ranked number one for 4 and half consecutive years. I’ve even got my own logo!”
After Federer’s 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 shellacking of Peter Luczak, the number 71 player in the world said of Federer, “If it was anyone else, I'd be getting pretty angry. He just had me on a string and just was toying with me at the end. I think he was enjoying it." Peter, he was enjoying it. A lot. Isn’t that statement amazing, though? You know Federer is good when all the other players in the world don’t even want to say a negative comment about him! God forbid they give him a reason to whoop their asses even harder (see straight set victory over Andy Murray in 2010 Australian Open final).
As for Nadal, he is back in form and coming off his victory over Federer at the Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open, which is played on clay. Prior to that, Rafa also won the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. That tournament is played on clay as well. It’s been over a year since he won a major title, and two since he won the French. He’s healthy and ready to reclaim his title and become regarded by many as the best clay surface tennis player of all time.
Of course, there are other tennis players aside from the big two. Here is my prediction of the French Open, beginning with round 4.
R. Federer(1) vs. G. Monfils(13) – In one of the most challenging games Fed will play leading up to the final, Federer comes out on top in 4 sets. Monfils curses his seeding, but explains that he is okay with losing only because he played Federer.
M. Cilic(10) vs. R. Söderling(5) – Söderling advances for a rematch of last years final with Fed.
M. Baghdatis(25) vs. T. Berdych(15) – After upsetting Andy Murray in round 3, Baghdatis falls to the talented Tomáš Berdych, who is playing on one of his stronger surfaces.
M. Youzhny(11) vs. J. Tsonga(8) – Upset! Youzhny’s talents on all surfaces will be enough to defeat Tsonga, who’s serve and volley style is best on grass and hard court.
J. Monaco(26) vs. D. Ferrer(9) – Monaco’s upset of the clay-court-incapable Andy Roddick will be the highlight of his tournament after David Ferrer beats him rather handily. This comes as unfortunate news to all fans who misread his name for Federer.
J. Ferrero(16) vs. N. Djokovic(3) – Following a quarterfinal loss in Rome, Novak Djokovic gets back on track and defeats the pesky Ferrero, thus ending the confusion caused when fans misread Ferrero for Federer.
F. Verdasco(7) vs. F. Gonzalez(12) – Both players are talented on clay, but I give the edge to Verdasco because of his beautiful ex-girlfriends, Gisela Dulko, Dafne Fernández, Priscila De Gustin, and Ana Ivanović.
T. Bellucci(24) vs. R. Nadal(2) – After making quick work of the higher seeded Ivan Ljubičić and his complicated, consecutively dotted last name in round 3, Thomaz Bellucci, the clay court specialist, puts Rafa to the test in a thrilling and competitive 4 set match. Says Rafa, “I’m glad I’ll no longer be eating with him. He makes a mess of his mashed potatoes.”
R. Federer(1) vs. R. Söderling(5) – This rematch of last years final will have the same result. Federer wins in 3 and advances to the semi-finals of the French yet again. Söderling explains he is okay with losing only because he played Federer.
T. Berdych(15) vs. M. Youzhny(11) – Berdych continues his remarkable run by winning yet another upset. Now all that stands in his way of the finals is Federer, which Berdych is okay with because if he loses, at least it was to Federer, the best player of all time.
D. Ferrer(9) vs. N. Djokovic(3) – Novak Djokovic wins the match of the tournament thus far, prevailing in 5 sets and coming back from a 2 sets to 1 deficit. Djokovic continues to be useful for all careless readers as he defeats another Federer-looking name, earning him the title of “Oh My God, Oh Wait Never Mind.”
F. Verdasco(7) vs. R. Nadal(2) – Rafa wins again, but it is far from easy. His back-to-back difficult matches leave some skeptic of whether or not he will make it to the finals.
R. Federer(1) vs. T. Berdych(15) – After landing a series of upsets throughout the tournament, Berdych is finally defeated by Federer in a game that makes many believe Fed is ready to defeat Nadal or Djokovic in the finals. Berdych explains that, although he would have liked to win, there is no shame in losing to Federer. Says Berdych, “He’s simply the best.”
N. Djokovic(3) vs. R. Nadal(2) – Djokovic is in the semifinals for the third time in four years, but once again, cannot get to the finals. Nadal plays yet another difficult match, winning in 4 sets. Additionally, fashionistas across the country delight as Nadal decides to bring back the capris. Although they were especially tight, Nadal was loose and calm.
R. Federer(1) vs. R. Nadal(2) – The match everyone was waiting for happens once again. Given Federer’s play throughout the tournament, Nadal does not enter as the clear favorite. The match is one of the greatest in French Open history, filled with exceptional shots, class from both players, and Nadal’s capris for the second consecutive match. Absent from the match are fans running on the court. One guy actually gets close but Nadal smacks him in the face with a killer forehand (almost literally). After 5 sets of brilliance, Rafa becomes champion for the fifth time. Upon winning, Rafa tells the audience, “Defeating Roger if really special. He’s one of the best tennis players of all time.”
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Just Say N.O. to T.O.
He is one of the greatest receivers of all time, but Terrell Owens still cannot find anywhere to play next season. The reason, of course, is that nobody wants a receiver who is far past his prime athletically and a possible distraction of monumental proportions. If I’m a general manager of a NFL team, there would be no way, I repeat, no way, that I even contemplate signing TO.
When Owens was in his prime, he dominated defenses because of a tremendous combination of size, speed, and strength. When Owens was in his prime, he destroyed entire teams with a combination of egotism, lying, hostility, attitude, and depression. Notice, I did not say that Owens dominated defenses because of his catching abilities. Only once in his career did TO record 100 receptions in a single season, and that was in 2002. Given his decline in athletic abilities, what value does he actually have? Some receivers can hang around in the league, despite being inferior athletically than they used to be, because they still have great hands, are great route runners, or offer tremendous leadership. TO does not have any of these features. Forget all his off-field issues, I still don’t want a receiver that offers as little ability as Owens. When you throw in the fact that he has the uncanny ability to cause dissent on anything from a football team, to an office, to a dog sled team (why not?), I’m going to avoid Mr. Owens like the black plague.
JaMarcus “The Disaster They Never Saw Coming” Russell
He’s built like a linebacker. Can throw the football 80 yards, off his back foot. He’s was a first overall pick. He’s even got the cool “Capital Letter, lowercase letter, capital letter” first name format typically seen in elite athletes (DeMarcus Ware, LaMarr Woodley, DeMeco Ryans, DeAngelo Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson just to name a few. Spell-check did not recognize any of their first names). Yet, over the last 3 seasons, JaMarcus Russell has left little doubt as to who is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL.
In 19 career games, JaMarcus had a QB rating of 65.2, passed for 4083 yards, completed 52.1% of his passes, and, now here comes the killer, threw just 18 touchdowns compared to 23 interceptions AND 22 fumbles! JaMarcus produced more turnovers than Marie-Antoine Carême, the first famous pastry chef of France(that was without a doubt the first time he has been used in the context of sports, or in anything I have ever said or written, for that matter).
The Oakland Raiders made what may have been their smartest move of the last 5 years when they dropped Russel, thus finally admitting that their pick was nothing short of a total failure. Unfortunately for Raiders fans, many of the recent decisions of Al Davis probably fall into the same category of total failure.
So why would anybody want to pick up Russell? Well, like the TO situation, it appears that nobody does. Maybe JaMarcus never got a chance because he’s surrounded by the who’s who of busts and poor decisions. In either case, I can’t really see why a team would want Russell. He may have a wide array of physical tools, but in order to be a quarterback in the NFL, you need a whole lot more than Russell has to offer.
Super Bowl in New Jersey
Traditionally, the Super Bowl takes place in a warm weather city or a stadium with a roof. However, it is beginning to look as though the 2014 Super Bowl will be held in the new Meadowlands stadium that houses the Jets and Giants. On Tuesday, the 32 NFL owners will vote on the proposition, of which 17 favorable votes are needed to approve the location.
Why, after all these years of tradition regarding the Super Bowl location, would owners suddenly approve the cold, outdoor location? Well for one, the decision would bring in several hundred million dollars of revenue to the New York/New Jersey area. In the struggling economy, this could be highly beneficial to the country since there would be a large influx of tourists into the nations largest city. Second, both New York teams are struggling selling some tickets, especially the Jets, who, according to ESPN.com, still have close to 10,000 high priced seats left to sell. There are far more details involved in the decision and future arrangements, but what I find most interesting is the change in setting.
I have always had a problem with the Super Bowl location format. Perfect conditions? Are you kidding me? This is football, a game about getting dirty. It’s played under any and all conditions. This Super Bowl policy must have been decided on by a bunch of inaccurate kickers, or should I simply say, kickers. Speaking of kickers, I have a total lack of respect for their position. Maybe I don’t understand the intricacies of kicking a football, but if kickers are paid exclusively for the purpose of booting a football through the uprights, how in world do so many of them struggle from within 40 yards. I just don’t understand. It defines all logic. Can you imagine if the failure rate of kicking was transferred to another job?
“Mrs. Miller, you could bring your son in to see the dentist, or, you could go for it and hope that he doesn’t have cavities. It’s your risk.”
“Risk? Isn’t it just a routine checkup?”
“Well, Mrs. Miller, you would think so, but Dr. Brown has a history of inexplicably making mistakes when dealing with the ‘routine.’”
“Oh… maybe I should see another dentist then.”
“Nope, that wouldn’t be a solution. They’re basically all like that.”
Anyways, back to my problem with the Super Bowl. By attempting to play the game with near perfect conditions, any team that has a pass-oriented offense immediately gains an advantage. They don’t need to worry about wind, rain, or (gasp!) snow (in February!), even though they most likely needed to handle the conditions during the end of the regular season and/or the playoffs. On the other hand, run first teams and defensively oriented teams are at a major disadvantage. Even if a run first team is able to obtain a number one seed, they will always have a disadvantage come the Super Bowl. Let’s just say that next season, the Steelers, a traditionally run first team, and Saints, who love to air it out and make defense optional, are both the number one seeds in the playoffs. The Saints would have an obvious advantage.
“So then, Adam,” you say, “What exactly do you propose as a solution to this unjust situation?” Well, I now present “Adam Weinberger’s Simple Solution for Super Bowl Satisfaction.”
The team with the best record at the end of the regular season earns a Super Bowl to be played in their stadium three years later.
This proposition would solve a few problems. The most obvious one is how the host city is decided. You want the Super Bowl to be played in an environment that benefits your team? Well then, earn it. Secondly, this rule may actually force teams that have locked up home field advantage continue to play their starters at the end of the season. If the Colts were under strong criticism for bringing in a painter to play quarterback rather than go for the undefeated season, can you image how much the fans would have disliked that decision if they also lost the opportunity to have the Super Bowl played in their backyard?
(Time to Imagine)
Yeah, that’s what I thought. They’d be pissed.
That’s all for today. I’ve got some visitors coming to Union for the weekend, including my wonderful girlfriend, Sam, (this is a test to see if you read my blog today) so this is going to be my last article until Monday.