It may be that I finally have become the grumpy old man (it doesn’t help that I idolize Joe Paterno), but given some recent past events, I think we are witnessing the destruction of what was once the wonder of sports. Honestly, I’m a middle-aged guy whose formative years were in the late 70’s and early 80’s when sports still held a mystique; when a larger-than-life sporting event was such on its own merits, not because some media monolith created it. Look at the things that have changed in the past few decades; it doesn’t take long to realize all of them either have had or will have a deleterious effect so profound that they cannot help but to destroy sports as we knew it.
The Rise of NASCAR
I don’t care what anybody says, NASCAR is not a sport. A while ago, I wrote a piece that offered a hard definition as to what constituted a “true” sport. While this definition was applied to Olympic events, one can easily measure any activity against these criteria:
- It must contain at least 1 element requiring true athleticism; it must not be only the mastery of a particular skill.
- It must require the athlete to actively expend the energy to perform that athleticism.
- It must contain the element of competition with an objective scoring method used to determine a winner.
NASCAR clearly can’t pass the first two criteria, therefore it isn’t a sport. Calling it a sport when it isn’t leads to this fascination we have with treating race car drivers as athletes. They aren’t. We knew that 30 years ago. If you remember the sports show “The Battle of the Superstars,” then you remember the weak performances turned in by the old-school race car drivers like Tom Sneva. Call me crazy, but calling a guy an “athlete” who can’t even ride a bike without wheezing like an old vacuum cleaner contributes to the reason why we have so many fat kids in this country.
Worse yet is the fact there is nothing more mind-numbing than four hours of watching cars drive in a circle. The people who would tell you there is strategy in NASCAR are on the same level as those people who think Texas Hold ‘Em is a game of pure skill. Want to know all you need to know about the strategy of NASCAR? Just remember the following three points:
- Go fast.
- Turn left.
- Try not to crash.
In other words, the rise of NASCAR represents the complete devaluation of what a sport is.
Records Are Now Meaningless
The NFL and Major League Baseball are clearly out to destroy their record books. The NFL, now that it is the most popular league in America is out for world domination. Not only are they looking to export the product to distant shores (see this Sunday’s 49er-Bronco tilt at London’s Wembley Stadium), but the league would really like to have an 18-game season. This means that every single-season record of note will be gone by 2016. For example, nobody remembers an all-time great like George Blanda, and soon no one will remember Dan Marino, who was the greatest pure passer ever. Look what the 16-game schedule did for us; it made a marginally-better-than-mediocre quarterback like Brett Favre the all-time passing leader.
If you doubt that, go look at Kerry Collins’ career stats. As of this writing, Collins needs only 847 passing yards to join the elite “40,000-yard club.” This club only has 11 members, out of which there are seven Hall-of-Famers; out of the four that aren’t (Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe, and Vinny Testaverde) you know at least two of those guys are flocks to be inducted. Seriously, Kerry Collins is in this class?
As for baseball, you can thank the butt-loaf sports writers for the devaluation of its record book. Before the strike in 1994, every writer in this country was pissing and moaning about the “plodding pace” of baseball. Then all of a sudden came the barrage of home runs and the obvious steroid use, which was completely ignored by those same writers until they decided they wanted to destroy Barry Bonds. The problem was that once the let the steroid genie out of the bottle, they couldn’t get it back in. Now they are crying about the stale nature of a game full of pitcher’s duels. The real problem is that every guy who breaks a record from now on will be suspected of being a performance-enhancing drug user, and the guy who competed clean during the “steroid era” will be discounted because of the tainted time in which he played.
We’ve Ruined The Best Sporting Event We Had
March Madness, also known as the NCAA Basketball Tournament, was the greatest sporting event ever until the NCAA decided that greed trumps quality. When the tournament went to the 64-team format, it achieved a symmetry and a convergence with the television coverage that next thing you know, everybody is filling out one of those brackets and running around the office saying things like “Purdue in the Final Four? Are you on drugs?” Now that the tournament is going to be expanded to 96 teams, gone are the days of upsets and “Cinderellas” in the first round. Now with this “let everybody in” expansion, our televisions screens come March will be full of crappy games matching crappy teams with crappy outcomes. Plus, now there is absolutely no reason at all to watch regular-season college basketball.
Just Because Racism Has Gone Underground Doesn’t Mean Its Gone
There are two kinds of racism left in the sports world. Gone are the days of the “straightforward” type, where people would tell you to your face they aren’t hiring you because you are black. As a black guy, I have to say I miss those days because at least you knew where you stood. Now what’s left is even more insidious.This is the part that is going to piss people off because to explain this means calling out both sides of the American racism spectrum. America is a country where disingenuous white liberals control the debate on race because they are disproportionately represented in the media and on college campuses; the same people who preach tolerance and understanding are the same ones who fire a guy like Juan Williams for raising a legitimate point of discussion and who won’t hire Turner Gill as a football coach because he has a white wife.
Take a good look at the picture above. While you are taking that look, ask yourself a question. Golfers are second only to NBA players in terms of being devotees of extra-marital activity. In other words, finding a golfer who is cheating on his wife is like finding sand in a bunker. This is why five years from now, this will all be a distant memory and Woods will be back to his endorsements and appearance fees. The real question is why did the same writers who made such a point of wringing their hands over steroids ignore Woods’ alleged steroid use and choose to focus on the complete non-story of Woods’ infidelity? I’m sure it isn’t because the majority of our sports media is comprised of those “tolerant” types who fire a guy like Juan Williams for raising a legitimate point of discussion and who won’t hire Turner Gill as a football coach because he has a white wife.
This leads us to the second type of racism left in the world, which is the type conjured up by black people whenever they don’t want to take the heat for something they did. This, of course leads us to LeBron James…
The NBA Is Two Steps Away From Being Pro Wrestling
…who is the classic example of a guy who paints everything with a racist brush just because he didn’t get his way. Pretty soon, guys like him will be calling referees racist for blowing calls.
I would like to thank you, LeBron James, for symbolizing the beginning of the end of what once was a great era in sports. Now thanks to you, we’ve started the slide to where the ACLU will be involved in instant replay reviews in all sports and basketball becomes just so much scripted sport-a-tainment. Seriously, the WWF was the only other place where you saw guys gang up to take on the likes of The Road Warriors. Pretty soon, LeBron will be smacking Kevin Durant with a metal folding chair and Chris Bosh will be decking Pao Gasol with a roll of quarters hidden in his tights.
If you recall, we here at Dubsism have gone through the history of college football to determine a number #1 team in the style that boxing uses, namely, you are #1 until somebody beats you, then that team becomes #1.
Last week, for the first time ever, the heavyweight title of College Football belonged to the University of Kentucky Wildcats, who earned the title by defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks. However, the Wildcats grip on the belt was broken by the Georgia Bulldogs’ 44-31 victory in Lexington. This means the ‘Dawgs take the belt into their annual showdown in Jacksonville with the Florida Gators.
Granted, the ‘Dawgs need little in terms of extra motivation when it faces border rival Florida, but the game between the schools takes on added significance with both teams trying to stay alive in the SEC East title race. Once given up for dead, the Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3 SEC) have turned their season around with three straight wins. Meanwhile, Florida (4-3, 2-3 SEC), is heading south by having chalked three straight losses.
The question is: Can Florida stop its skid and reclaim the title it lost to Alabama in last years SEC Championship game? If they succeed, the Gators will be the fifth team to hold the belt this season.
In today’s installment of why fat guys can still be world-class athletes, what better example than baseball? After all, not only are we on the cusp of the World Series, but the greatest baseball player in the history of ever was decidedly a fat guy. For your perusal, here is the full roster for a team composed of all fat guys that were it possible to assemble all their poundage in their prime would squash just about any other team you put before it.
Manager: Bobby Cox
Years of bench duty combined with a penchant for Jack Daniel’s will put a paunch on anybody, let alone a future Hall-of-Famer. Apparently, you just don’t burn that many calories punching your wife.
First Base – Kent Hrbek
Hrbek had an off-season regimen of chili dogs and beer, then spent the summer hitting screaming line drives. Not to mention Hrbek was a tremendous fielder for a big dude.
First Base/Designated Hitter – Cecil Fielder
One of the proudest moments in my career as a baseball fan was being in the crowd when Fielder stole the sole base of career. Watching him slide into second was like watching that test plane crash footage.
First Base/Designated Hitter – Prince Fielder
Like father, like son…except Cecil never tried to sell us that “I’m a vegetarian” bull. I guess even broccoli will fatten you up if you drown it in enough Wisconsin cheddar.
First Base/Third Base – Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera didn’t start his career on this list, but once he made Major League money and didn’t need to subsist on a third-world diet of chicken heads and road gravel, it wasn’t just his batting average that ballooned.
Second Base – Ronnie Belliard
Normally, middle infielders are the epitome of speed and quickness, qualities usually found in smaller bodies. However, looking at this roster, one must remember “smaller” is a relative term.
Shortstop – Juan Uribe
Uribe could make lots of teams besides this one, such as the “All Weirdest Throwing Motion Team” or for a while this year the “All Frosted Tips on His Goatee” team.
Third Base – Bob Horner
Horner is one the only players in Major League history to hit four home runs in a single game and eat four large pizzas afterward.
Infield – Jhonny Peralta
Dyslexia is a terrible thing, being a fat fcuk doesn’t help.
Infield – Miguel Tejada
You must to have a compulsive need to be planet-sized if you are fat and take steroids.
Infield – Terry Pendleton
This team just wouldn’t have a complete roster without some switch-hitting, MVP-type fat.
Infield/Outfield – John Kruk
Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t, but when you are sponsored by Denny’s, you are undeniably “All-time Fat Team” worthy.
Infield/Outfield – Dmitri Young
How can this team not include a 300-pounder with the nickname “Da Meathook?”
Outfield – Tony Gwynn
How do you win seven batting titles? always challenge yourself to hit better than your weight. This is why Gwynn kept it on the safe side having five seasons in which he batted over .350.
Outfield – Kirby Puckett
Not only is Puckett one of the 100 Greatest Players of All-Time, he was the fastest all-time to reach 2,500 pounds hits.
Outfield – Babe Ruth
Simply the greatest baseball player in the history of ever. How do you not love a guy who has a breakfast comprised of 10 ball park hot dogs and a quart of scotch, then smacks three homers?
Outfield – Adam Dunn
To find a guy with more consecutive 40-homer seasons, you have to look above to Babe Ruth. Besides, Dunn knew that if you hit the ball over the fence, you don’t have to run.
Utility – Pablo Sandoval
Sandoval began his professional career as a catcher, and has since moved to third base, but can also play first or a corner outfield position. At his current rate of weight gain, he is projected to end his career as a stadium.
Catcher – Ernie Lombardi
Known as “The Schnozz,” Lombardi was known for his ability to catch anybody’s fastball bare-handed and the fact that his nose weighed 18 pounds.
Catcher – Mike LaValliere
Catcher – Hector Villanueva
A mexican Mike LaValliere.
Starting Pitcher – C.C. Sabathia
If there were ever a poster child for a “round moundsman,” who better than C.C. Sa-fatt-ia?
Starting Pitcher – David Wells
When a fat guy pitches a perfect game, he gets to lie about his weight, and the Yankees trying to get me to believe the 6’4″ Wells tipped the scales at 240 pounds would most certainly qualify as that lie.
Starting Pitcher – Sir Sidney Ponson
Judging by the first two entries on this list, you really have to do something special to stand out as a fat Yankee pitcher. I guess getting knighted in Aruba, then punching a judge and being kicked out of the country has to fill that bill.
Starting Pitcher – Fernando Valenzuela
As the song says, Fernando started as a sensation, and ended up outweighing a Brahma bull.
Starting Pitcher – Sid Fernandez
“El Sid” was a dominating pitcher for the first five innings of a ball game, at which point he became worried about getting to the buffet before it closed.
Relief Pitcher – Aurielio Lopez
Forget about Jennifer. Aurielio was where you needed to go to see a Lopez with a giant butt.
Relief Pitcher – Charlie Kerfeld
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Houston was home to a few big, big relievers. After all, NASA was close by to help with tracking planet-sized objects.
Relief Pitcher – Rich Garces
Relief Pitcher – Mike Fetters
The reverse of the relationship between Mike LaValliere and Hector Villanueva. Fetters is simply an Anglo version of “El Guapo.”
Relief Pitcher – Bobby Jenks
There’s a rumor that the soft-spoken, quiet Ozzie Guillen once signaled to the bullpen for the “wide” guy. Given his thick accent, he probably just said “right.” Either way, Jenks is righteous fat.
I’ll be honest; I don’t really give a shit about the Washington Redskins because, well, let’s be even more honest, there hasn’t been a reason to pay attention to them in close to twenty years. But they have a rabid and devoted fan base and I share something with at least one member of that base; a complete lack of respect for Albert Haynesworth.
Redskin fan and fellow devotee of the “Open Letter” S-Dott has what may be the quintessential doctrine on Haynesworth.
I don’t like you. I don’t like anything about you or who you think you’re supposed to be. I’m not speaking just as a Redskins fan, but just as a man who values principle. You were given an absurd $100 million dollar contract by an idiot owner and have yet to prove that you’re worth a single dollar. In an interview with Bryant Gumbel last year, you waltzed in wearing what Gumbel referred to as “the largest diamond necklace I have ever seen” and yet produced only 4 sacks, only 1 more than heavy-hitter LaRon Landry, and he’s a f*cking safety for crying out loud. You’re livelihood is your athleticism, yet you showed up to camp out of shape and couldn’t pass a f*cking conditioning test that Mike Golic of ESPN proved he could pass without suffering from over-exhaustion. Over-exhaustion from a ninth year pro? Please. That’s just a euphemism for fat-ass-who’s-out-of-shape.
When called out by Mike Shanahan, you cried like the insufferable b*tch you are, and you were put in your place over the course of preseason despite your laughable victimization campaign. In what I hope will a lasting memory in your legacy, there was a moment during the win over Dallas where you were spotted throwing a tantrum on the sideline by separating yourself from the defensive huddle. A camera spotted you, and zoomed in on your face where the entire world could see you were pouting like the selfish, self-obsessed eunuch you are while the real athletes on the team were out proving that the team’s defense didn’t need you.
You’re a washed up has-been asshole that doesn’t deserve a job sacking groceries for old people, and as a die-hard burgundy-to-the-bone Redskins fan, I can honestly say I’d rather get a Dallas star tattooed on my forehead while wearing a Troy Aikman jersey than spend a single penny in any establishment that sells anything with your name on it. You are the worst player I have ever seen play for a DC team and I’d pay double the ticket price if that’s what it took to buy out your contract. The Washington Redskins are a storied franchise that represent a group of professionals that play in a man’s league, which are two characteristics you couldn’t be any further away from possessing. Do the city a favor and pack your bags and take whatever trade you can get, because you aren’t worth the busfare to send your fat ass to the next game.
S-Dott, whoever you are, my hat is off to you and your perfect assessment of this nuclear-powered douche-nozzle.
We have a critical problem in this country. We have far too many people who think they are perfectly qualified for jobs that they don’t have the first clue how to do. You can thank video games for that. Would you pay to listen to a Guitar Hero concert? Would you trust a pilot trained only on Flight Sim? We can’t find any guys who will play a few games of HALO then go take on some real bad guys, but we have a whole nation full of couch-ass-groove-makers who think just because they can win at Madden Football they could replace (insert failing NFL coach here).
I understand the frustration that fans of terrible football teams face; I’m a lifelong Philadelphia Eagle fan. This is why I was doing nude cartwheels around my back-yard when we finally off-loaded Brad Childress on the Vikings. Even though he was not the head coach in Philadelphia, you could tell he had all the perfect qualities to make him a huge failure in the top job. But even a complete waste of a headset like Childress would kick your ass as a coach, and make your wife hold his coat while he did it. Face it, guys like Childress are head coaches because they’ve dedicated 30 years of their lives to nothing but football. You have no background at all in coaching football, and even if you did, unless you are a coach right now, you are completely starting over while a guy like Childress has been eating, breathing, and sleeping this stuff for decades.
Remember, Brad Childress has forgotten more about football than you will ever know. That is only one reason why you as an NFL coach is completely preposterous. Even if the Vikings fired Brad Childress tomorrow, there’s a bazillion guys more qualified who would get the call before you did. Let’s look at the complete list of candidates:
- Any other current head coach
- Anybody who has been a head coach in the last ten years
- Any current offensive or defensive coordinator
- Anybody who has been an offensive or defensive coordinator in the last ten years
- Any current or former college coach or coordinator
- Any coach or coordinator from the Canadian Football League (as long as somebody keeps reminding him we have FOUR downs)
- Any actor who has played a football coach more than twice
- Burt Reynolds and/or Lee Corso, depending on who returns the call first
- Any postal worker
- Everybody who has beaten you at Madden
Even if they got through all those better candidates and still hired you, the only thing that is going to happen is the entire world will be watching at the precise moment you realize you are in waaaaaaaaaaay over your head. In other words, you will screw up just like the guys who spent their whole lives coaching football. The difference is they know how to handle failure in real-time; Brad Childress doesn’t have the option of pausing an NFL game to take a dump, smoke a cigarette, rub one out or whatever it is you do for forty minutes while you decide whether or not to run a screen pass on third down.
That’s only a taste of what a real football coach has to do. Let’s look at all the balls you get to juggle all while worrying about play-calling with millions of people watching you.
Play-Calling: As a head coach, you can either call the plays yourself or delegate that to a coordinator. If you keep play-calling as your responsibility, realize that you have to evaluate the personnel on the field, the game situation, the team position on the field, make a decision on which play to run and communicate that successfully in less than ten seconds. If you delegate it, you then have to be strong enough to get criticized for plays you didn’t call. It really doesn’t matter since you don’t know the first thing about running an NFL offense or defense, which means you will fail on your own and you couldn’t evaluate a good coordinator to fail for you.
Game Management: The next NFL game you watch, I want you to maintain absolute focus on what is happening at all times. Don’t lock yourself in a room to do it; in fact, let your wife have one of those pyramid-scheme parties where they sell crap like cheap jewelry and make-up in the same room with you. Do everything you can to simulate being on a sideline where there are 100 people all doing different things simultaneously. Remember, you are the head coach and it is your job to know exactly what is happening with those every one of those 100 people for every single second. Keep in mind that amongst all this chaos, you need to do all the little things like making sure you and your quarterback are reading plays from the same armband, that your headset is tuned to the right place so you aren’t listening to local air traffic control, and not trip over the chain gang all while running a football game for three and a half hours. This is the part I think every person who believes they could out-coach (insert any failing coach here) seriously overlooks. You are the head coach, EVERYTHING is your fault. It doesn’t matter whose job it is to fill the Gatorade bucket, if your star quarterback cramps up and shreds a hamstring because it was empty, you are the one who will take the rap for it.
Public Relations: Consider this to be a concentrated version of “You are the head coach, EVERYTHING is your fault.” When you screw up at Madden, there aren’t going to be seventy-five reporters in your living room questioning every single thing you did. You aren’t going to get in your car on Monday morning, turn on the radio and hear an endless stream of reasons why you are an idiot and should be fired. You aren’t going to pick up the newspaper just to see a column explaining that your head actually is not physically up your ass, it just seems that way. After listening to a steady diet of that crap, you have to graciously and professionally face the media and public that spends 83 hours a day trashing you. No matter how much you want to, you don’t get to tell one of those reporters to eat a bag of shit and die. God forbid you say something like that to a fan. In other words, you have to eat it, no matter what. You can only say a lot of nondescript crap like “We just gotta play them one game at a time,” otherwise you will become a YouTube video forever.
Dealing with the Front Office: If you have a player in the NFL who sucks, you can’t just edit his settings. In fact, you most likely can’t even control who is on your team; you have a general manager for that. Much like any manager, more often than not you are not going to agree with him on player personnel decision, therefore you have to make do with whatever players he gives you, and remember, no matter what, is YOUR fault if you can’t win with a team of stiffs.
Leadership: This is a word you will hear a lot when you lose with the aforementioned team of stiffs. It won’t matter that the team has no talent and lacks the ability to be coached, the word will be you have no ability to lead. You may be the average dimwit we call a leader now in America, or you may be the greatest leader in the history of leadership, it won’t matter. Never forget, you are the head coach, EVERYTHING is your fault. However, in this case, the lack of leadership charge will most likely be legitimate. This is a problem throughout America today; the complete lack of leadership ability has run rampant. This country is full of people who think leadership is all about intimidation, yelling, and screaming or worse yet, the “soft leader” who wants everybody to like them and believes everybody needs to have their input valued. Think of this as a contrast between an unconscionable asshole like Tom Coughlin or a marshmallow like Wade Phillips. Like you, neither of these guys could lead a pack of hungry wolves to fresh meat, which is why neither one of them has ever been able to lead a team that needed real leadership. Why are they like you? Because as a Madden oficianado, you are either a college kid or an accountant at a Dunder-Mifflin type place who is hanging on to those college days. This means you’ve never had a chance to discover what real leadership is, which is going to be a problem when you have to deal with a pissed-off 340-pound lineman who is trashing the locker room because you benched him for getting three holding penalties in one quarter of football. This also means the first time that guy gets in your face you are going to drop to the ground, curl up in the fetal position and soil yourself. It’s hard to lead from the locker room floor coiled in your own poo.
The Actual Job: What most people don’t realize about being a head coach is that it is a seriously shitty job. This is why you have to pay people who can actually do it a lot of money. Head coaches work 18-hour days at least six days a week. They study game film constantly. How would you like to watch instant replays for twelve straight hours? You’d carve your eyeballs out with a linoleum knife. Even when you aren’t busting your ass with football stuff, there’s the never-ending parade of contractual media engagements and personal appearances. That stuff only gets worse the more successful you are. Right now, Sean Payton has what was left of his spare time eaten up by having to do photo opportunities at a grade school or being at a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening another goddamn supermarket somewhere.
In other words, before you are willing to shatter the fan illusion that you would be a better head coach than the Brad Childress’ of the world, you might want to consider all the crap being an NFL head coach means. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a defense of Childress, Wade Phillips, Tom Coughlin or any other horrible coach out there, rather an attempt to illustrate that you wouldn’t do any better because you couldn’t even handle the part you know about, let alone the rest of the job.
Who doesn’t know the internet is the “wild west” for anonymous slander and blatant nastiness? Who wouldn’t figure out that even a Joe Blow opening a Twitter account with a “come and get me” invitation to every blowhard vitriol dealer with a keyboard is simply asking for trouble. Add to that the summer-long LeBron fest we all had to live through and who could possibly be surprised that somebody out there might have said something terrible?
Apparently, LeBron James… or at least he wants us to believe that.
Among other things, he was called a fraud, a bitch, was told to lay his head under a moving car, not to mention getting at least one “n-bomb” dropped on his Twitter.
“I just want you guys to see it also,” James said. “To see what type of words that are said toward me and towards us as professional athletes. Everybody thinks it is a bed of roses and it’s not.”
That last sentence is why I need your help. I honestly can’t decide if LeBron is a moron for not knowing that opening the door to the internet commentary wasn’t going to result in line after line of sheer nastiness, or if he is a complete pansy for for playing the “look how hard it is to be a multi-millionaire pro athlete” card.
So, a professional athlete who is worth millions of dollars can’t get a woman. That officially makes going to the gym today exceptionally pointless. If T.O.’s washboards abs and seven-figure salary can’t get him laid, why the hell am I killing myself on the Stairmaster?
Flamboyant footballer Terrell Owens has tapped a matchmaking service to help him find love. Outspoken Owens, who’s been linked to model Jessica White, has hired Kelleher International to help find a main squeeze who looks like bodacious Kim Kardashian — “who I happen to think is gorgeous,” he said. Kelleher, run by mother and daughter team Jill and Amber Kelleher, has 18 international offices and charges clients anywhere from $15,000 to $150,000.
Screw it. I’m getting a case of beer, sending out for pizza, and contemplating why I shouldn’t shoot myself in the face.
Let’s be honest…one of the reasons women drive men crazy is because they always want mutually exclusive things. If you don’t believe that, just ask a single woman under the age of 30 what her “dream” man would be like, and you will get a litany of things that simply don’t go together. Comedian Dave Attell has the best bit to describe this.
“I had a woman tell me she wants a man who is both ‘outdoor-sy and hilarious.’ The problem is that even if she gets that combination, she won’t like it. Do you know why? Do you know who is both ‘outdoor-sy and hilarious?’ Rodeo clowns.”
This is exactly how the NFL is acting when it comes to the recent rash of head injuries. For years, hell, for decades, the NFL has been promoting a “bigger, stronger, faster” dictum because those skull-rattling hammer jobs that everybody is recoiling in horror from now are EXACTLY what the NFL wanted. Now that they have it, they are uncomfortable with it.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually understand this conundrum in which the NFL finds itself; I’m old enough to remember the Darryl Stingley incident. This, or worse, happening on the field is what makes Roger Goodell lay awake at night because he knows that the minute a player gets paralyzed or killed as a result of a highlight-reel shot to the head the NFL will have a public-relations problems of heretofore unseen proportions. Thanks to the folks at SportsCenter and the internet you know that video would go viral in seconds. We haven’t killed anybody yet, and the good people at Deadspin are already on to this:
By our admittedly rough count, there have been at least 46 concussions in the NFL this season. We’ve found video for 14 of them — clean hits and dirty ones, big hits and relatively minor ones. Watch and cringe and then wonder how many of the names in the list below belong to future ALS patients.
The list is a work in progress (we owe a debt of gratitude to the folks at the AutoAdmit discussion board). If we’re missing anyone, let us know.
2010 NFL Concussions:
Preseason: Ryan Grant (Packers), Hunter Hillenmeyer (Bears), Joseph Addai (Colts), Mark Clayton (Ravens), Nick Sorensen (Browns), Mike Furrey (Redskins), DJ Ware (Giants), Darnell Bing (Texans), Freddy Keiaho (Jaguars)
Pre-Week 2: Clifton Ryan (Rams)
Pre-Week 3: Anthony Bryant (Redskins)
Week 4: Jordan Shipley (Bengals)*, Willis McGahee (Ravens), Asante Samuel (Eagles)*, Riley Cooper (Eagles), Sherrod Martin (Panthers; was fined for Week 1 hit on Kevin Boss), Tony Scheffler (Lions), Jay Cutler (Bears; allegedly the fifth in his career)
* Denotes a concussion included in our video.
We’ll try and keep the list updated from here on out. Video is obviously important for something like this. If you manage to find a clip from this season in which a player sustains (or even discusses) a concussion, please send it our way.
The intractable problem here is this sort of violence is built into the game as it exists; therefore to eliminate these sort of head-shots means by definition you must make some significant changes to the construction of the game itself. In other words, fines and suspensions aren’t going to solve the problem, nor are they going to eliminate the risk factors which contribute to the problem.
Enter Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno. Nobody in this country has been around football longer the JoePa, and he has the right idea on how to eliminate this problem; eliminate the facemask. During Tuesday’s Big Eleven Ten press conference, he said, “It’s a weapon, guys are fearless.” Like it or not, he’s absolutely right. In fact, it may be time to get rid of the helmet entirely. The football helmet as it exists now is less protection and more of a weapon, and players aren’t going to be as likely to throw their skulls into harm’s way without that impenetrable shell on it.
You have two choices, NFL. You can either address the head injury issue in a meaningful and result-driven manner, even if it means fundamental changes to the product you’ve been marketing for half a century. Failing that, you can just admit you want a modern gladatorial spectacle where crippling injury or death is merely “a part of the game.” Frankly, I don’t think the NFL has the guts to do either.
If there ever were a sport which have a love affair with its record book, it would be baseball. It takes two guys to carry the official baseball record book, not only because baseball spans three centuries, but because baseball historians keep track of everything. One might think after all that record-keeping and record-breaking that those same historians would stop calling certain marks “unbreakable.” After all, they all called Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak and Lou Brock’s career stolen base mark “unbreakable” until Cal Ripken and Rickey Henderson came along.
Yet, they keep doing it; they keep placing the “unbreakable” tag on records that seem perfectly breakable. Granted, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak will be difficult to surpass, but it isn’t impossible. Don’t forget that if it weren’t for a great play by Cleveland’s Lou Boudreau in game #57, the 56-game streak would have been 70 games. That means this record is of a fluky nature; saying it can’t be broken is like saying you can’t flip a coin and get “heads” six times in a row. It isn’t likely, but it is possible. Break it down like this: take a lead-off type hitter who makes contact and doesn’t strike out; Ichiro Suzuki is a hyper-perfect example. As of this writing, Ichiro has 2244 hits in 6779 at-bats over 1588 games. That means he gets roughly one hit out of every three at-bats, and he gets roughly four at-bats per game, which means it is statistically likely that he gets a hit every game, let alone 56 in a row.
Pete Rose challenged this record in 1978, but fell 12 games short, and recently more than a few players have reached 30 games. But Rose showed that the record can be challenged, and the fact it still stands is owed to a series of variable factors for which the statistics don’t account (rightie v. leftie, certain pitchers who “own” certain hitters and vice-versa, home-road splits, etc…) Some season, someone will break this record.
Both single-season and career home run marks are held by Barry Bonds. Without getting into the (yawn) steroid discussion, there are enough other contributing factors in the offensive surge of the past fifteen years that neither 73 and/or 762 are safe. Alex Rodriguez is likely going to get near the career homer mark. Even if you want to discount him, a clean player like Ken Griffey, Jr. would likely have been there if not for injuries in the middle of his career. Even if you want to discount the entire “steroid” era, the tiny ballparks and the dilution of pitching talent via expansion and/or competition with the growing numbers of professional leagues around the world will contribute to both the single-season and career marks being eclipsed at some point.
This brings us to the other side of the home run coin, the strikeout. Batsmen are whiffing at a pace never before seen in baseball; 100 strikeouts in a season was a number to avoid, now multiple teams have multiple batters reach this mark with regularity. Had Randy Johnson learned the art of control earlier in his career than he did, he would challenged much more closely Nolan Ryan’s career mark of 5,714 rather than the 4,875 he ended with. Eventually, some pitcher will be around long enough to eclipse Ryan’s record.
So, if you really want “unbreakable” records, go back to that thick record book and look at these nine which are certainly more out of reach than any of those routinely said to be beyond approach.
9) New York Yankees’ 5 Consecutive World Series Titles
Let’s talk about a dominant era; let’s talk about the New York Yankees in the 44 years between 1921 to 1964. Sure, people may like to discuss the three-peats of the 1972-1974 Oakland A’s or the 1998-2000 Yankees. Those accomplishments pale in comparison to the Yankees of yesteryear. In this time, the Bronx Bombers won 29 pennants. They won four consecutive World Series titles from 1936 to 1939. But that wasn’t good enough; from 1949-1953 the Yanks won the World Series in five straight seasons. During that stretch, they won 20 of 28 World Series games. Given there are now three layers of post-season play, requiring 11 victories to garner a World Series crown, it is highly unlikely that a team can even get to six straight let alone win them to break the Yankees’ record.
8 ) Cal Ripken’s 2,632 Consecutive Games Played Streak
First of all, there have only been roughly 30 guys in the entire history of major league baseball who have even played that many games. Secondly, there would have to be another obsessive-compulsive, self-serving lunatic who would a) avoid injury for and b) even want to show up to work every single day for over sixteen years.
7) Chief Wilson’s 36 Triples in a Single Season
Granted, his 36 triples were helped by the quirky dimensions of the old Forbes Field, but not only are they five more than anybody else ever hit, it way outpaces anything done in recent years. In fact, the 23 triples hit in 2009 by Curtis Granderson represented the highest total of three-baggers in decades. The smaller ballparks that aid the number of homers also don’t have as much space for a ball to rattle around in, thus less triples.
6) Johnny Vander Meer’s 2 Consecutive No-hitters
Breaking this record is the definition of “possible, but not bloody likely.” The odds that somehow, somebody tosses three no-hitters in a row are mind boggling. It’s been years since a pitcher even tossed three straight complete games, and it has been nearly twenty years since a pitcher tossed three straight shutouts. On average, there are less than two no-hitters in a season.
5) Ray Chapman’s 67 Sacrifice Bunts in a Single Season
When Jay Bell dropped down 39 sacrifices in 1990, he was the first player to approach 40 in almost 15 years. It hasn’t been any different in the home run era since then. In fact, today very few hitters today even know how to bunt let alone lay down 68 of them.
4) Ty Cobb’s Career Batting Average of .367
As of this writing, no major league player who has more than five seasons at the major league level has a career average within 35 points of Cobb. In the last 50 years, the closest is Wade Boggs at .328. Even though Boggs is the closest in recent history, and even though Boggs had seven seasons with over 200 hits, he still would have needed on average 20 more hits in each of his 18 major league seasons to approach Cobb’s mark. Until we get out of the era where being a contact hitter who avoids strikeouts is a dying art, no one will get any closer than Boggs has.
3) Nolan Ryan’s 7 Career No-hitters
See the entry above about Johnny Vander Meer. Now consider that to break this record, somebody will have to chuck eight no-hitters. Remember the analogy of flipping a coin and getting “heads” six times in a row. Make it more like 50 times and you get the odds here…
2) Cy Young’s 511 Victories and 749 Complete Games
As long as there are pitch counts and five-man rotations, neither of these records will ever even be approached, let alone broken. Today, a pitcher would need to average 26 wins and 38 complete games per season for twenty years to eclipse Denton True “Cy” Young’s marks. Considering many starters now don’t even get 38 starts in a season, that’s going to be a tall order.
1) Will White’s 75 Complete Games and 680 Innings Pitched in a Single Season
To break this record, one would have to build a time machine and set it for 1879. No pitcher today will be able to complete twice the number of games he starts; I don’t care how good he is or what new hyper-roid he discovers.
20) The Rose Bowl – Pasadena, California
Much your grandfather who fought in World War II, The Rose Bowl is all about what once was. The fact that we keep sticking modern Super Bowls in this ancient edifice means once every few years is not reminder enough of how antiquated this stadium is. If it were adequate for NFL games, perhaps Los Angeles wouldn’t be in its second decade without a franchise. Oh, did I mention that its ancient “Bowl” design means that some of the seat as much as 60 yards away from the field?
19) Great American Ball Park – Cincinnati, Ohio
Its one thing when a venue simply outlives its prime, like the Rose Bowl. It’s completely different when a new ballpark that fails to excite on any level. Nearly every feature that’s supposed to make Great American Ballpark shine simply falls flat. The riverboat smoke stacks in center field are a perfect example; while they emit smoke and fireworks when the Reds hit a home run, they are at the same monstrously cheap and silly. Granted the smokestacks play into the riverboat theme given the ballpark’s location on the Ohio River, but putting them inside the stadium just means the smoke obscures the view from the upper deck seats.
18) Rogers Center – Toronto, Ontario
This is what happens when you let engineers try to solve every problem in the world. In this case the designers of Rogers Center tried to solve the problems of playing an outdoor sport like baseball in a city with a barely hospitable climate along with trying to solve the problem that if cities were sandwiches, Toronto is about as exciting as Velveeta on Wonder Bread with heavy mayonnaise. This is why Rogers Center is at the same time a marvel of modern engineering and over-engineered monstrosity. Sports venues do not need malls and hotels attached. In fact, some of the hotel room face out over the ball park, which led to the incident where a couple was caught en flagrante delicto in one of those windows in full view of crowd full of Blue Jays’ fans. This also marked the one time in the past three centuries Toronto was interesting.
17) Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Heinz Field is proof that it is possible to screw up outdoor football. Not only Heinz Field resemble a high-school stadium that has been mainlining horse testosterone, the fact that they allow every dipshit high-school team in western Pennsylvania to play on it means by November the turf is in worse condition than Marv Albert’s hairpiece.
16) Dolphin Stadium – Miami, Florida
If this were just a football stadium, Dolphin Stadium wouldn’t really be all that bad. However, in the modern homage to the 1970’s “all-purpose” stadium that was terrible for all sports, Dolphin Stadium is an atrocity for baseball. Granted, it is easier to fit football’s uniform rectangle into nearly any stadium, doing so with the ever-widening baseball diamond means ruining sight lines and distorting the dimensions of the field and foul territory. Much like a Metrodome without a roof, the stadium is such a bad fit for baseball that fans simply don’t show up to support the team in spite of the fact they’ve won two World Series titles in recent memory.
15) McAfee Coliseum – Oakland, California
McAfee suffers from the same problem as a Dolphin Stadium; it is simply another outdated, multi-purpose stadium. The best use for this monstrosity would be to use that gargantuan edifice looming over center field as a mausoleum for Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis who forces Alameda County into building it.
14) Los Angeles Coliseum – Los Angeles, California
This may easily be the worst non-dome stadium ever to host two sports. Originally built for the 1932 Olympics, the need for the track oval meant an NFL field would have an asphalt moat around it, leaving some of the seat 75 yards away from the field. Even worse was the short-lived era when the Coliseum hosted Major League Baseball. That configuration meant the left-field foul pole was a mere 250 feet from home plate; to make up for the excessively close proximity, the left field fence was 40-foot high chain-link atrocity known as the “Chinese Screen.” It meant the normal majestic 400-foot line drives off the bats of sluggers which are prone to leave the yard simply bounced off the screen for harmless singles, while lazy fly balls that would have been easy outs caught 60 feet in front of the fence in any other ball park dropped behind the screen for home runs. Even today, it is nestled in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in a city notorious for dangerous neighborhoods.
13) Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego, California
This is really the last of the terrible “cookie cutters” built during the late 1960’s and 1970’s. It gets underrated on a list of truly awful sports venues as it has been home to largely unremarkable teams; so its putrid nature has escaped notice. Just looking at it one is struck by the complete lack of original thought in it design, with the sole exception of the spiral ramps which hang like giant, coiled concrete dog turds from a giant concrete dog anus.
12) U.S. Cellular Field – Chicago, Illinois
Welcome to what should have been named “Bland and Crappy Field.” Somehow, it is fitting that a shit hole of a city like Chicago would be the first to screw up building a new ball park. Shit-cago managed not only to miss the trend started by Baltimore’s Camden Yards of the beautifully constructed “retro-classic” stadium. How did they accomplish this? Despite the ball park’s proximity to the impressive Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan (which happen to be the only two interesting things about this urban wasteland) rather U.S. Cellular features a view of a truly Chicagoan landscape, a series of old and decaying housing projects.
11) Candlestick Park – San Francisco, California
Leave it to a flaky, shaky city like San Francisco to find a way to make a terrible dual-use stadium worse by using it for the one thing for which it really wasn’t built. Welcome to Candlestick Park, which was most notably the home of the San Francisco Giants until they wised up and left. Now, thanks to a semi-permanent grandstand that was literally thrown in to this structure, it is now the home for the lowly 49ers. This is another stadium which thanks to its bizarre design lacks any view of its beautiful surroundings. It is also features the complete opposite of what Midwesterners think California weather is; namely San Francisco is cold, windy, rainy, and generally miserable about 540 days a year. The crowning touch is the rotting, nearly 50-year old seats which have faded from Giants’ orange to something resembling a traffic cone left out in the sun.
10) Ohio Stadium – Columbus, Ohio
Ohio State fans affectionately call this “The Horseshoe.” I think it should be called “Generic Giant Stadium.” The only good thing you can say about Ohio Stadium is that its boring, nondescript nature is a perfect match for the styrofoam-and-yawn level of excitement of its surrounding city. Seriously, I spent 20 years in Columbus one night, where the epitome of high culture going down to White Castle, loading up on Sliders then depositing gallons of onion-and-cheap-beer-scented urine in the wastebaskets. Not to mention there is something fitting about housing the worst fans in the Big Ten in what looks from above like the big, red anus of the Big Ten.
9) Izod Center – East Rutherford, New Jersey
Another perfect marriage of a shitty building for a shitty team in a shit hole of a place. It’s like the Izod Center, the New Jersey Nets, and northeastern New Jersey were made for each other. From the outside, it looks like a Wal-Mart with less character. From the inside, it looks like over-grown high-school gymnasium with stadium seating. Plus, to enhance the enjoyment of the fan, it features only one concourse, narrow and cramped common areas, and an astonishingly small number of bathrooms.
8 ) Ryan Field – Evanston, Illinois
Everybody always tells me what a good school Northwestern is. If that is true, why can’t they find somebody to design a football stadium that doesn’t resemble a glorified high-school stadium that was built during the 1920’s?
7) Edward Jones Dome – St. Louis, Missouri
There should be a law that says football stadiums may only be built on sites that allow for tail-gating. Such venues constructed in the concrete jungles of downtown areas force tail-gate friendly parking lots to become tail-gate prohibiting parking garages. Football without tail-gating is like pizza without cheese washed down with warm, flat beer. The Edward Jones Dome shares this problem with the only venue that saves it from being the worst in the NFL. In fact, the only thing that saves the Edward Jones Dome from being the worst is that there was at least an attempt to not make this dome look like the earth was growing a giant concrete-and-teflon pimple. They failed, but at least they tried.
6) Wrigley Field – Chicago, Illinois
As long as I live, I will never understand why anybody thinks this dilapidated, crumbling monument to failure is anything other than an urban reclamation project waiting to happen. The one thing I do get is there are three distinct types of people who love Wrigley Field.
- Delusional Cubs’ fans who believe Wrigley Field is “hallowed” ground like Yankee Stadium.
- Non-Baseball fans who think Harry Caray is still alive and attending Cubs’ games is somehow “cool.”
- People who have a completely misplaced sense of history.
There is some overlap between these three groups, but the one that is gaining in number is the third. This is why we have a whole new generation that will get to see what Wrigley lacks as a ball park it only magnified when it hosts football. That’s right Chicago, just when you thought your days of seeing shitty football at Wrigley were over is precisely when some genius decided it would be fun to have a Northwestern-Illinois game there this November. When the Bears called Wrigley home, it was common to stuff one of the baseball dugout with mattresses as it cut off a corner of an end zone.
5) Arthur Ashe Stadium – Flushing Meadows, New York
Like the Rose Bowl, the fact that it isn’t used that often means it escapes attention. But it is less like a bowl and more like a giant styrofoam cup. The newest venue on this list, Arthur Ashe stadium was built in 1997 with the expressly needless purpose of being the largest tennis stadium in the world. The problem is that building a large stadium around a small sports field means an exceptional amount of compaction combined with the need to be more vertical than horizontal.This means the top row of the stadium is 10 stories above the court, which makes the action almost impossible to watch.
Oh, and about that “needless” thing…. the fact that this 21,000 seat stadium rarely sells out somewhat defines the term, don’t you think?
4) Tropicana Field – St. Petersburg, Florida
This is one of the two dated and awful domes left from the 70’s and 80’s, and there’s a reason why they are both in the top five of this list. The only non-retractable dome left in baseball, Tropicana Field requires special ground rules for the catwalks that hang over the playing field. It also features a white roof which routinely causes fielders to lose the ball in flight. If that weren’t enough, this awful place also features a sound system that regularly emits deafening feedback shrieks.
3) Bradley Center – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Bradley Center is one of the oldest venues in the NBA, and it shows. It shouldn’t shock anybody, since Milwaukee is just Chicago if it were inhabited and run by exclusively 19th-century central European immigrants. That also why nobody would ever expect a hockey state to spend money on a basketball arena. The inside looks like a grocery warehouse; utilitarian in that obnoxious “Don Pablo” style.
You better like climbing stairs if you go to this arena as well. Most will require some, but this one has the unique feature of having the court at street level, which means that immediately after entering, you have to hike up to your seats. Most arenas sink the floor below the concourse level, but not here. If you have upper-deck seats, you may need a Sherpa to get you there.
2) Fenway Park – Boston, Massachusetts
See the above entry for Wrigley Field. Take the numbered list in that entry and replace the word “Cubs” with “Red Sox” and the words “Harry Caray” with “Ted Williams” and you get the picture. People love to describe Fenway Park as having “old-world charm,” which translated means, “rusted, rotting dump that opened before the Titanic sank.” Even after 98 years on the bottom of the Atlantic, the Titanic is in better shape than Fenway. If you are over 5’3″ and 125 pounds, you will find the seats at Fenway to be more reminiscent of a Spanish Inquisition torture device. Not only are they too small for a large jockey, the ones along the baselines are canted toward the outfield, which means craning one’s neck for nine innings if you might want to see things like the pitch. And if that weren’t enough, there are far too many seat in Fenway that are behind a support beam or some other obstacle you didn’t pay $200 to view. Add to that the exceptionally narrow gates, concourses, and aisles, and it becomes clear this is the worst non-dome stadium in all of sport.
1) Hubert H. Humphery Metrodome – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Have you ever seen a movie so badly written, so badly acted, so badly produced that you can’t help but find it hilarious? In the terrible stadium race,this is the perfect description of the Metrodome. It really is the combination of so many awful features found on this list.First of all, there is the design constraints inherent to the multi-purpose design. Like Candlestick Park, The HumptyDome features full sections of retractable seating that is now semi-permanent since the baseball team left. Owing to the football-focused design of the Dome, it shared with Fenway Park the silly facing of the seats toward the outfield rather than home plate which meant there was no way for baseball fans to survive nine innings without getting crippling neck cramps.
Then there’s the crushing impression one gets of the Metrodome upon entering it for the first time; that it was built as cheaply as possible. Every surface except the low-grade men’s room piss-troughs are either untreated concrete or cheap plastic. The Metrodome is the ONLY stadium I have ever seen that uses the same cheap plastic from which the seats are constructed to make the stairway railings. Then there is the gratuitous use of rubber curtains for everything from outfield fences to Hall-of_Fame monuments. Even the roof looks like an army surplus parachute except for the giant Swastika in the middle.