Barry Petchesky over at Deadspin spins a great story on how the electronic windbag known as Bill Simmons ascended to
The Sports Douchebag Hall of Fame ESPN. If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you know we are prone to perform a “Breakdown” in order to help you understand what is actually happening, especially in the case when there are hidden meanings or ulterior motives.
The main theme here is that Petchesky asserts that ESPN may have hired Simmons to stop him from flaying the World Wide Leader.
ESPN’s initial courtship of Bill Simmons has the air of an urban legend. Simmons wrote a column excoriating the bloated and self-congratulatory ESPY Awards, and that column was rapidly forwarded around Bristol, putting the Boston Sports Guy on ESPN’s radar. Much like Aeschylus’s lost plays, the ESPY diary was known only from a reference in another work. In one of his early Page 2 columns, Simmons wrote:
“More than three years ago, I wrote a scathing running diary about the ESPYs that ended up getting passed around ESPN at the highest levels, and eventually led them to hire me to write this column. What a weird way to get hired. After being forced to do nonstop keg stands from the company Kool-Aid since then, I’ve grown to appreciate the ESPYs — not the actual show, but what they’re trying to accomplish here. The show celebrates everything that happened in the past year of sports, a thinly-veiled excuse to round up some celebrities, throw some parties, promote the network and maybe even garner some decent ratings in the process.”
But because Simmons’s AOL Digital City work has been lost forever in the internet aether, no one has seen that original ESPY column in more than a decade. Until now. We got our hands on a treasure trove of Simmons’s old work, including the legendary ESPYs column. It’s in the form of a running diary that should be familiar to Simmons fans, filled with jokes that wouldn’t have flown under the Disney flag. In fact, it’s titled “The 1999 ESPY Awards: Greatest Night In Sports… Or TV Holocaust?”
I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but if it is, I should be on ESPN’s payroll buy this time next week. I have a long history of being a critic of that Bristol-based omni-directional sludge-pump. Moreover, this really is another exercise in how easy taking pot-shots at ESPN really is…like shooting at rabbit that has been drugged and staked to the ground. Even Bill Simmons can do it. But it is also a wonderful demonstration of the incredible hypocrisy of the World Wide Leader. If Petchesky’s assertion is true, then ESPN hired a guy for saying things for which they have fired others. Keep that in mind as we walk through Simmons timeline of the 1999 ESPYs.
- 8:03 — The show kicks off with a mock opera opening, featuring Dick Vitale as the showstopper. I’m not making this up.
- 8:04 — Just slammed my head against the coffee table for 30 seconds.
Dicky V and a self-induced concussion. Now the concept of Grantland makes a bit more sense. Besides, I thought Vitale and Berman the Hutt were “sacred cows” in Bristol.
- 8:12 — (Jeff) Gordon wins and immediately thanks God (who took time out of his busy schedule to watch the ESPYs tonight). Gordon’s gorgeous wife applauds. This will be a running theme tonight.
Somewhere, a 12-year old Tim Tebow is inspired knowing he can someday become the exclusive focus of an hour-long version of Sportscenter, or as it will be called in 2014 “Tebow-JesusCenter.” The ban on prayer in public schools will be replaced by mandatory “Tebowing.”
- 8:15 — Actor Dylan McDermott presents the ESPY for something called “Men’s and women’s tennis player of the year.” I’m not sure if this is two awards or one; if it’s one award, than Amelia Muresmo will obviously win.
- 8:16 — It’s two separate awards. Too bad. I would have loved to have seen Muresmo in high heels and a sportscoat.
- 8:18 — Hey, it’s Lindsay Davenport in a dress! I think I just had an aneuryism.
Here’s your first “shot across the bow” of the LGBT community….Lord knows now you can’t make fun of “alleged” women. We now call this the “Pam Ward” rule.
- 8:22 — Steve Largent reads the Emmy rules… allegedly a comedy segment. I’ve watched funerals for slain policeman that were packed with more comedy.
Here’s where Simmons takes the big whiff. Largent is a white, male, Republican; which means he is in the last demographic which you can take shots at according to the PC police. Instead, Billy goes with the “dead cop” joke; but remember, this was pre-9/11, so that was still OK. But we are about to seriously break out of the PC reservation.
- 9:16 — As we prepare for the Arthur Ashe Award for courage — which will be presented to Billie Jean King — ESPN’s Robin Roberts comes out and introduces presenter Rosie O’Donnell, who in turn will introduce King. Ironically enough, this same sequence of events will be happening at the Meow Mix Bar & Grill in Greenwich Village later this evening.
- 9:18 — Good GOD Rosie put on some weight! She’s so fat that Shawn Kemp is making fun of her right now. If Sammy Sosa and Rosie attend the ESPYs post-award buffet tonight, there might be a fistfight by the “prime rib” table.
- 9:25 — Billie Jean waddles up to the podium to accept the award from Rosie. It’s too bad Delta Burke couldn’t make it.
This is the point when Pam Ward got so angry she soiled her jockey shorts before making an angry call to ESPN management demanding that “You guys need to show some balls, and if you need, you can borrow one of my three.” But seriously, imagine what would happen to anybody in Bristol who made comments like that. They wouldn’t be getting a job offer from ESPN, that’s for damn sure.
- 9:34 — Sam Jackson introduces Dick Vitale and does the worst Dicky V impersonation of all-time. Is it just me or are the wheels starting to come off this show?
- 9:43 — I don’t want to say that the wheels are coming off here, but I think the Detroit Red Wings’ team chaffeur is driving this show.
In case you don’t remember, this is a reference to Richard Gnida, who while employed by the Red Wings as a limo driver was determined to be driving with a suspended license and under the influence of marijuana when he was convicted for his role in an accident which left Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakonov in comas. Had he written this today, I’m sure this would have transmorgrified into a “Sandusky” joke.
- 10:20 — Holdsclaw wins her second ESPY! This means we have to see her walk to the stage in high heels again. She makes Pat Summitt look like a runway model.
And for the piece de resistance, Simmons’ last shot at the “chicks with dicks” crowd. He’d never say that about Pat Summit now that she’s been diagnosed with
prostate cancer dementia.
Here’s the part where you ask “J-Dub, throughout the history of this blog, you’ve taken far worse shots than you are excoriating Simmons for. What gives?”
It’s rather simple. Now that Simmons has successfully employed the “reverse psychology” gambit to get a job, I’m going use his own example to draw attention to my own attempt…by saying the opposite of what I really think, I should be able to get what I want. For example:
The Dan Patrick show sucks and I would never work for it (besides, they need a blogger who is “White and Nerdy,” and if you saw today’s show, I live in Indiana and can handle St. Elmo’s cocktail sauce.) #soft
A Mercedez-Benz is just a regurgitated U-Boat and I wouldn’t drive one if you gave it to me, especially an E560 Coupe.
And don’t even think of trying to give me that car with a half-naked Sofia Vergara in it.
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If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of being a private investigator is that the more money is involved on something, the weirder it can get. One of the things that helps that stuff get about a 9.6 on the weird-o-meter is the power of delusion. You would be amazed the lengths people will go to avoid facing up to an unpleasant truth. Then again, if they didn’t do it, I’d be out of a job.
Right now, there is no better place to see money fueling a forest fire of delusion than the NCAA. You could call it one of those “All You Can Eat” buffets of delusion, because there’s more delusion than any one man can eat, except in this case because all of it is so hard to swallow.
To see it in action, all you have to is look at this game of musical chairs they’ve been playing with conference alignments. First, ask yourself why is this game getting played in the first place? Nobody just starts breaking contractual arrangements just for fun. In other words, everybody playing this game thinks they are trading up somehow.
What would be the motivation to do that? I can’t think of a better one than money, can you?
I have another rule about these things. Whenever a guy spends a lot of time telling me something isn’t what it seems, that’s probably EXACTLY what it is. This is the part where NCAA president Mark Emmert trips my trigger. Everytime somebody asks this guy about realignment, he gives off a lot of squawk about how he is concerned about the perception that money is driving the decisions while he urges school presidents to consider factors besides revenue when choosing conference affiliation.
It doesn’t take long to figure out what a load of hot air that is, especially when you consider how much table-pounding Emmert does on the subject of the NCAA not being “professional sports leagues” and the NCAA is “not a business.” The worst part of that line of bull is that not only does it contain the completely unbelievable assertion that college sports can be about anything but money, but he’s setting the stage for an argument designed to make me believe that HE believes that.
Take a run at it this way…the message Emmert keeps pumping out is that while this isn’t about money, at the same time nobody wants to give up a potentially big payday, and to go back to the “musical chairs” analogy, nobody wants to be the last one standing when the music stops playing.
That’s brings us to thing number three that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up about this whole thing: People who try to have their cake and eat it too. Not only is this guy all to happy to cash the checks while pretending he wouldn’t dirty his hands with money, but he’s got a track record of doing exactly the same thing.
Before leaving the University of Washington to take the NCAA gig in October 2010, Emmert participated in the same sort of discussion with his Pac-10 colleagues. At that time, Emmert was all about adding Colorado and Utah to the conference, which allowed it to have a conference championship game, which is as we know now a revenue generator. Then, Emmert saw nothing wrong with generating more revenue.
Now that he is the head of what is undoubtedly a huge for-profit enterprise (I’ll come back to that later), Emmert’s tune has changed. The following quote says it best.
“We shouldn’t say money isn’t important. It is very important to fund intercollegiate athletics because universities can no longer afford to take money out of their regular budgets to subsidize sports. Money’s not evil. It’s what you do with the money that’s evil.”
Do you see why I think this guy is a giant bag of gas in a three-piece suit? What he’s saying is “it isn’t about money, but we are going to make an oil tanker full of it, but that’s not a bad thing, even if it isn’t about money.”
But for anybody who wants you to believe college sports is not a big businesses, consider the following facts:
- In April 2010, the NCAA signed a $10.8 billion television contract with CBS and TNT to televise the men’s basketball tournament.
- Bowl games generate tens of millions of dollars for participating teams, which are then divvied up among all the teams in the league.
- Some conferences have started their own television networks, which pump millions into athletic department budgets.
- Many schools have spent millions more on their facilities in the recruiting race.
Now, I may be jus a P.I. living in a trailer, but even I know that smells like a big business to me. To think otherwise is just pure delusion.
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Let’s start with my original playoff predictions:
New England Patriots
Why They Can Win:
Because Tom Brady is still Tom Brady; one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history on the NFL, and he isn’t far enough past his prime to be discounted.
Why They Can’t Win:
To see the future in Foxboro, just look toward Indianapolis. Don’t look right this second, because you may notice the Patriots are beginning to get old before your very eyes. They are the worst 13-3 team I’ve ever seen – they define over-rated. They can’t run the ball and their defense couldn’t stop a Pop Warner team, yet somehow they are top-seed in the AFC.
All this team has is Tom Brady, and that’s just enough to hide the real defects in this team. There’s a reason I call this the “Manning Rule.”
Odds of Winning: 18 to 1
New York Giants
Why They Can Win:
Take a coin out of your pocket. This coin represents the streakiness of the New York Giants. Flip the coin. Heads, Giants win.
Why They Can’t Win:
That complete lack of consistency drives me batshit crazy. Flip that coin Again. Tales, Giants lose. Eli Manning is easily my favorite player to watch in the NFL; he is like a poker player who loses a shitload of $50 pots, and just enough $10,000 ones to stay above water. This time, Eli is all in with two pair.
Odds of Winning: 20 to 1
Now that we are down to a head-to-head matchup, there are three categories to analyze.
1) What Vegas Thinks
Anybody who loves to bet knows professional gamblers pay attention to five key categories:
- Yards Rushing per Game – Patriots 110.2, Giants 89.2
- Yards Rushing Allowed Per Game – Patriots 117.1, Giants 121.2
- Points Scored Per Game – Patriots 32.1, Giants 24.6
- Points Allowed Per Game – Patriots 21.4, Giants 25.0
- Ratio of Points Scored to Points Allowed –Patriots 1.5, Giants 0.984
This discussion falls into the classic “more than meets the eye” department because it would seem to be a clean sweep for the Patriots. But the number get more curious when you consider that the above bulleted stats are from the regular season. The numbers change quite a bit when you keep them to the post-season.
- Post-Season Yards Rushing per Game – Patriots 121.0, Giants 117.3
- Post-Season Yards Rushing Allowed Per Game – Giants 120.3, Patriots 130.0
- Post-Season Points Scored Per Game – Patriots 34, Giants 27
- Post-Season Points Allowed Per Game – Giants 15, Patriots 13
- Post-Season Ratio of Points Scored to Points Allowed –Patriots 2.62, Giants 1.8
Now instead of being a distinct advantage for New England, there has been a definite closing of the gap by the Giants. The numbers still point to the Patriots being a better bet, but consider the environment in which this significant statistical improvement occurred.
- The Patriots played two games at home. One of those games was against the Broncos, whose anemic performance skews the post-season numbers dramatically toward making the Patriots appear better than they really are.
- The Giants played three games total, two of which were on the road against the top two seeds in the NFC (Packers and 49ers). The Giants man-handled the Packers (who were a prohibitive favorite) in Lambeau Field, and took down the 49ers in overtime in a quagmire at Candlestick.
Boil it all down, and it means the Giants have been far more impressive than the Patriots in the post-season. This is why despite the picture painted by the numbers, the Patriots are only a 3 point favorite.
2) The On-the-Field Matchups
- The Battle of the Trenches
The Giants go as far as their offensive line, which is a unit that has played out of its mind the last three playoff games. The Patriots can’t offer anywhere near what the 49ers did, and New York handled San Francisco with relative ease. Meanwhile, the front four of the Giants are going to make themselves well-know to Tom Brady’s face.
- The Battle of the Quarterbacks
Brady vs. Manning II: This time it’s personal. Actually, this time it is without David “Helmet Catch” Tyree. So now it’s likely to be less about Eli getting lucky, and about Brady finally showing how over-rated of a quarterback he really is. Try this one on for size: Who would had a better season – Tim Tebow with the Patriots or Tom Brady with the Broncos?
Not to mention, even sportswriters have figured out how to beat Brady. And like it or not, a lot of Brady’s passing stats are heavily padded by the yards-after-catch of the Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski’s of the world.
- The Battle of the Non-Over-Rated B.S.
Neither team runs the ball particularly, but the Giants have picked up their game as of late. Neither team is really worth discussing in the defensive backfield. Both teams rely on their offensive lines, big-play quarterbacks, and a couple of downfield play-makers. To me, the Giants pass-rush will make the difference.
3) A Comparison of the Cities
The trouble here is that by judging where these teams respective stadia are located, there really aren’t any cities to compare. I know that it is petty and anal retentive, but it has always been a pet peeve of mine that the “New York” Giants actually play in New Jersey. I’ll even admit it is a double-standard; I don’t apply this to the Jets, probably because they were treated as the little brother of New York football for decades. I get that East Rutherford is a mere six miles from mid-town Manhattan, but the concrete canyons of the city might as well be a world away from the partially-drained swamp they call Meadowlands.
At least the Patriots are sort of honest about it. They aren’t trying to get you to believe that some jerkwater hick town somewhere in greater New England where they likely still burn witches is still somehow “Boston.”
If you ever needed proof that this silly bit of censorship-meets-McCarthyism called “political correctness” has gone too far, the following story from the Salt Lake City Tribune should give you all you need. Just read the first sentence.
Some people in Utah’s Canyons School District apparently believe BYU’s mascot (“Cougars”) is offensive to middle-aged women.
Re-read that sentence again and let it sink in a bit. Wrap as much duct-tape around your head as needed to keep your skull from exploding. For me, it was six full rolls. Literally, I had to re-read this whole story at least five times before I ever figured out what was really happening here.
As reported in this story by the state’s Fox-TV affiliate, Ch. 13, the Canyons’ board rejected the mascot “Cougars” for the new high school in Draper that will be known as Corner Canyon High School. The new school will draw students that currently attend Alta High and will open in 2013.
They will call themselves the Corner Canyon Chargers. Apparently, prospective students were polled and the majority chose Cougars, but the board went in a different direction. According to this news release on the district’s website, Diamondbacks, Falcons and Raptors were also mascot candidates. The release does not acknowledge that the students wanted to be the Cougars.
This whole thing is an exercise in both stupidity and hypocrisy. The key is in the last sentence above. Let’s walk through this to understand what I mean.
For starters, Corner Canyon High School is a school that will open in the fall of 2013, and it needed a mascot. The powers that be decided to allow the schools’ future students to vote for a symbol for its sports teams. Apparently ”Cougars” was the winner. Being in Utah, the proximity of Brigham Young University, and the general lameness of the other ballot choices, this really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody.
However, that pesky bit of democracy in action wouldn’t do for the Corner Canyon school board. They arbitrarily vetoed the results of the students election because they were worried “it might be offensive to middle-aged women.”
Let’s break that down, shall we?
First of all, if the term is so damn offensive, then why was it on the ballot in the first place? If I were one of the future students who voted in this election, I would be incredibly insulted to think the school board thinks a) I have no ability to make a reasoned and/or valid decision or b) the collective student body would really elect a mascot representing an exclusively sexual connotation.
Think about that for a minute. How uptight do you have to be to honestly believe that anytime anybody said the word “Cougar” the first thing that would spring to mind is a middle-aged woman who still has the gall to have sex appeal?
Do you want to know what I think happened? Nobody on that board ever even knew “Cougar” had another meaning, until one day one of them tuned in the Dan Patrick Show and discovered Fritzy’s “Cougar of the Week” bit. Then they panicked.
Secondly, who decided that the new use of the term “cougar” is demeaning? According to Urban Dictionary, “cougar” (in the non-wild feline sense) is defined as:
Hot and sexy older woman, usually in her 40s or 50s, single or married, who is sick of her same-age counterparts which are usually hairless, have big guts, who only talk about their insurance premiums and have the TV remote control attached to their hands. Cougars are attractive, in their sexual prime, who know what they want and aren’t afraid to go after it. BIG misconception is that they dress cheap, wear hot pink nail polish, animal skin prints and are not-so-attractive old-looking hags with bleached hair (Yeah those women exist, but they are NOT cougars). True cougars are classy, beautiful creatures who have made their successes on their own, have real brains, usually with expensive cars/homes, and are real head turners. Cougars seek younger men, and don’t have to sneak up and attack…they know their younger mates are eager to get an experienced woman who won’t ask if they’ll call them the next day. Being a cougar is a positive thing.
This leaves the question still hanging: Just who the hell are these people to say that labeling someone a “cougar” is an insult? I’ll bet you ten dollars I can guess the make-up of this board. I’ll bet it is an eclectic mix of white-haired white guys whose dicks quit working sometime during the Clinton administration. If there are women on this board, they are either white-hairs of their own whose gardens dried up and blew away about the same time their male counterparts started gulping Viagra like they were Tic-Tacs, or they are that spiky-haired, thick-ankled golf coach who hates any woman who attracts the men they wish they could be.
If we were to stick with the conventional wisdom as to who can either be offended by an issue and/or determines the offending matter and it’s severity (this is the same conventional wisdom which allows black people to drop more N-bombs than the Eighth Air Force, yet anybody else who says it once gets flayed), then it can only be women who are offended by the “cougar” label.
Except there’s one problem. Being a middle-aged guy myself, the vast majority of women my age that I know would absolutely love to be seen by 20-something males as still worthy of salacious intent. That leads me to believe there was no rush of hot older women calling the school board to notify them that they were pissed off by the students’ selection of “cougars.”
Lastly, what will the sportsters of Corner Canyon High School be known as since “cougars” is out of the question? It seems the choice is “Chargers.”
So Chargers it is. They say a Charger is a war horse (not a lightning bolt, San Diego football fans). By the way, Kearns High, Union High (Roosevelt) and Monument Valley High are among the high schools in Utah which use the Cougars mascot.
Taking another page from the Dan Patrick playbook, I hope there’s several things we’ve all learned from this sordid tale.
I hope future students learn something from the old adage about sticks and stone breaking bones, but words never hurt anybody. Of course, I don’t care about “feelings,” as there is no Constitutional right not to be offended; but there is such a right to free speech.
I hope the school board learns that their actions set an example for the youth they ultimately purport to lead. They really need to understand taking one’s self too seriously is the express train to becoming those buffoonish adults we all hated as teenagers. A school board should be spending its time dealing with issues germaine to the quality of the education they provide rather than ducking crucial issues by making mountains out of molehills.
But most importantly, I hope nobody has turned the Corner Canyon school board on to Urban Dictionary; I don’t think they would like some of the definitions of “Charger.”
- A small cylindrical object that can be filled with money or drugs and inserted into the anus to conceal their whereabouts from the police/prison guards etc. As described in the classic French book ”Papillon.”
- Early morning blow-job to start your day.
Regardless, I hope we all have learned that there is a point where even the best of intentions lead to the ridiculous. Moreover, I hope we’ve learned that whenever somebody starts issuing edicts in the name of “knowing what is best,” they are simply projecting their myopic values or personal shortcomings onto all of us. But most importantly, I hope we’ve learned that it is a complete waste of time to make a “critical issue” out of something that ultimately doesn’t matter.
Sadly, I don’t think collectively we’ve learned a damn thing. I think the only people who did learn anything out of this situation are the kids in the Corner Canyon school district who discovered the power of adults to act petty and stupid in the face of the exceptionally meaningless.
Let’s be honest, 2011 was a lousy year in sports. Just look at all the stories which happened in that twelve-month span which completely took away the usual uplifting nature of sports. So, as part of moving forward, I thought it was time to take a look back to a year which for me was the opposite of this one most recently and thankfully past.
That year was 1987.
Ironically, as 2011 brought the low point in the history of Penn State football, 1987 brought one of the highs. The Nittany Lions came into the Fiesta Bowl in 1987 as a prohibitive underdog against the brash, trash-talking Miami Hurricanes. Joe Paterno’s traditional style of football served as the classic antithesis to the wide-open style of Jiimmy Johnson, but the Hurricanes flat-out got beat. If you were watching college football in 1987, there is no way you can forget Pete Giftopoulous’ game-sealing interception in the 4th quarter; the one that cemented Penn State’s second National Championship.
Later that year came the culmination of the 1986–87 season in NCAA men’s ice hockey. To most people, that isn’t such a big deal, but when your alma mater prints its diplomas on hockey pucks, North Dakota’s defeat of Michigan State to capture it’s 6th National Championship was a big deal on that campus.
The end of March means spring is most places, but Grand Forks, North Dakota is not one of them. The average temperature in Grand Forks in March is about 20 degrees Fahrenheit; average of course meaning a great deal of the time it is significantly colder than that. In short, living in Grand Forks in March means nearing the end of a winter where you’ve been trapped indoors, left to three main forms of entertainment: eating, drinking, and fornicating. Naturally, after a while, you become a fat, drunken hump-meister that needs no reason to party.
The Fighting Sioux were such fun to watch that winter; their dominance of the indoor ice was an antidote to the ever-present outdoor variety; in January in Grand Forks, even the air freezes. But thanks to a complement of talent such as Ed Belfour, Tony Hrkac, Bob Joyce, and Ian Kidd, the atmosphere around North Dakota Fighting Sioux games on Friday and Saturday nights warmed to a simply sub-arctic Bacchanalian orgy filled with the aforementioned three surrounding activities. That is why to this day, there is a hockey puck on my desk to remind me of the the hockey season in which I drank more beer, ate more pizza and after-bar food (for those of you who know…who else misses The Red Pepper?), and had more sex than in any other six-month period in my life.
As long as we are on the subject of things that forever combined the concepts of ice rinks and sex, when is there a better time to mention East German figure skating gold medalist Katarina Witt?
After all, when’s the last time you remembered a figure skater for her serious upper-body pride rather than her triple axle?
If a figure skater who doesn’t look like a hockey stick wearing toe-pick blades is rare, then the phenomenon known as Mike Tyson must have been the sporting world’s version of Haley’s Comet.
The boxing world hadn’t seen anything quite like Mike Tyson before, and it certainly hasn’t seen anything quite like him since. The year before, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion at just 19 years old. In March 1987, Tyson nearly (and ironically) crushes several James “Bonecrusher” Smith’s internal organs; a victory which unified the WBA and WBC heavyweight titles. Already the the year before, Tyson became the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing history.
Over the course of the next year, Tyson left a trail of corpses formerly known as challengers (four in all) to retain his title. Early in 1988, he added the last of the great “old-school” heavyweight champs to his body-count when he separated Larry Holmes from his consciousness; the only time Holmes ended up looking up during a ten-count in 76 career bouts.
1987 marks the apogee in the meteoric orbit of Tyson’s career; this the last year before the tumult takes over. The following years will bring his divorce from actress Robin Givens, after being accused of domestic violence, the firing and subsequent suing of his manager, breaking his hand in an early morning street brawl, two car accidents (one of which was reportedly a suicide attempt), a rape conviction and related prison sentence, a drug conviction with another stint behind bars, and the Evander Holyfield “ear biting” incident.” Somewhere in that freight train of fouls, Tyson lost the title to a club fighter named Buster Douglas, never to regain it.
Now, let’s go from the rare to the unbelievable. Those of you under 30 may never swallow this, but there was a time in this country when people were all jacked up over yachting, specifically the America’s Cup. Remember that in the 1980’s, thanks to the “Miracle On Ice” and two Olympic boycotts in that same decade, international competitions became more of an issue of national pride than they had ever been previously. This was magnified when it came to the America’s Cup, which not only is the pinnacle of the yachting world, but had never been outside the possession of the Americans in it’s entire history, which dates back to just after the Civil War.
That all changed in 1983 when Kookaburra III, a tub from the Royal Perth Yacht Club wrested the Cup from the Newport Yacht Club. Seriously, people went crazy over this loss. Stories came out about how there was talk replacing the Cup’s place in the club’s trophy case with the head of the skipper who lost it. ESPN got the rights to broadcast the races when the American challenger went to Australia. People stopped in their tracks to watch two hours of boats. Water cooler sports-talk included terms like “jibs” and “tacking.” It was like the Olympics with flat-soled shoes, life jackets, and that white sun-block stuff on your nose.
When skipper Dennis Conner led challenger Stars & Stripes ’87 of the San Diego Yacht Club to a four races to none Cup win over the Australian defender, he literally became a national hero.
Believe it or not, for two weeks in 1987, America went boat-shit crazy.
As far as more conventional sports are concerned, 1987 offered two of the great championship series in sports.
First, there was the NBA Finals. It would be easy to simply say the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers which I grew up on (my dad had season tickets) beat the hated Boston Celtics 4 games to 2. While I loved the outcome, just focusing on that would ignore so many great points of this series.
For example, this series was such a perfect contrast in styles. There is no better word to describe the Lakers than “dominant.” They were a beautiful blend of speed and power, of flash and fundamentals that when they were firing on all cylinders it mattered little who they faced.
Despite that, the Celtics offered the effective foil; not only were they the defending champs, they did it in a way that was a complete opposite of Los Angeles. The Celtics played high-school half-court basketball, but they played it better than anybody ever did.
Even though they were already a championship caliber club, The Lakers were a team on the way up. Michael Cooper emerged as a guard who offered match-up problems of anybody else in the league, A.C. Green, James Worthy, Mychal Thompson, and Kurt Rambis offered a mix-and-match option for a front-court that could beat you ant any game you wanted to play. This was augmented guy named Magic Johnson who was a point guard in a power forward’s body, and was better than anybody at either position. Even the grand old man, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still brought his unstoppable “Skyhook” to the mix.
Meanwhile, even though they were the defending champions, the Celtics were a ship taking on water. The fact they made it to the finals was a major accomplishment, considering the death of Len Bias, the ongoing infirmity of an aging Bill Walton, and nagging injuries to Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Boiled down to basics, this meant the Celtics did not the horses to run with the Lakers.
This is why the Lakers were such a prohibitive favorite. It’s also why just zipping ahead to a Laker 4-2 win is a mistake. Had this series gone seven games, it would be regarded as one of the great NBA Finals of all time.
The Celtics were, for all practical purposes, playing with five players. The Celtics had to play perfectly to win; they did it twice and nearly pulled it off a third time, which is really the only reason this series only went six. It all started in Game 1, when at one point Larry Bird hit 11 shots in a row. This showed the younger, faster Lakers that the Celtics were so resilient that if they lapsed even the smallest bit, Boston could capitalize on that slip.
Secondly amongst the “big” sports came the “boys of summer.” In a year packed with basketball, boxing, and bimbos, baseball belted the prize-winning punch.
For openers, there were so many guys who had great “pre-steroid” seasons. A look at the league leaders in the “Triple Crown Categories” will lead you to that conclusion.
- American League: Wade Boggs, Boston, .363
- National League: Tony Gwynn, San Diego, .370
- American League: George Bell, 134
- National League: Andre Dawson, 137
- American League: Mark McGwire, Oakland, 47
- National League: Andre Dawson, Chicago, 49.
1987 also had a story one might think impossible; a player being traded for himself. Granted, it wasn’t the first time it happened. Thanks to he provision in baseball trades known as the “Player to be named later” (PTBNL), there have been two times when a player has been named on both sides of a trade.
In April 1962, the expansion New York Mets traded catcher Harry Chiti to the Cleveland Indians for the aforementioned PTBNL. By June, the Indians discovered why Chiti was on the trading block to begin with; the Indians gave Chiti back to the Mets as the PTBNL.
The same situation arose in 1987 with career bullpen jockey Dickie Noles. Noles had been ping-ponging around the league as a “have fastball, will travel” type, but in 1987 the last place Cubs offered Noles to the first-place Tigers as one of those trade deadline “bolster the playoff run” moves to which we’ve become so accustomed. The trouble is that Noles sucked so bad the Tigers didn’t want him either, so he was shipped back to the Windy City as…you guessed it…the dreaded PTBNL was also traded for himself in 1987, in a deal between the Cubs and Tigers.
But the real story of baseball in 1987 is the Minnesota Twins. The magic started in June, when the Twins went 18-9 to capture first place in the American League West. They would never be worse than tied for the lead again that season. But it was August when the stars really seem to align for the nine of the North Star state
August 3 – In a moment that brings this team to national attention, Twins pitcher Joe Niekro is suspended for 10 days for possessing a nail file on the pitcher’s mound against the defending division champion California Angels. Niekro claimed he had been filing his nails in the dugout and put the file in his back pocket when the inning started. He later makes an appearance on the David Letterman show in which he makes light of the incident by showing Letterman exactly how to “doctor” a ball.
August 6 – Later in the same West Coast road trip comes the moment where the Twins never look back. The Twins are opening a four-game set with another contender, the Oakland A’s. In Bottom of the 4th inning, the Twins have a 3-1 lead and a one-out, bases-loaded chance to blow the game open thanks to an error by A’s shortstop Alfredo Griffin. The Twins do just that when Kirby Puckett ropes a bases-clearing double off 20-game winner Dave Stewart to put Minnesota ahead for good. The Twins win the game 9-4 to capture sole possession of first place, a lead they would retain until Friday, August 28th…or as I will always call it “The Weekend in Milwaukee.”
August 20 – Even though they’ve just been swept by the Tigers, it dawns on me that the Twins can’t win on the road, but can’t lose at home. This becomes CRUCIAL as this is in the days when the home-field advantage for playoff series were scheduled in advance; in 1987 the American League West Champion would have home field in the championship series, and the American League would enjoy that same advantage in the World Series. This is when I become a firm believer that all the Twins needed to do in win the AL West, and a World Series title would be coming to Minnesota for the first time.
August 29 – The Saturday of “The Weekend in Milwaukee. ” The Twins had lost to the Brewers the night before to find themselves again tied for the AL West lead. The Twins have Bert Blyleven pitching, and the feel in the air is this game is a “must-win” for the Twins playoff hopes.
In the top of the first, Gary Gaetti belts a two-run shot to put the Twins ahead early. Puckett adds a solo shot in the top of the third. By the top of the fifth, the Brewers crept back to 3-2, until Puckett added his second home run of the day. Puckett’s bomb opened the flood gates to a Twin 7-2 lead as it was followed by an RBI single by Tom Brunansky and a 2-RBI single my Steve Lombardozzi. Later, Kent Hrbek blasted a three-run dinger to seal the deal. The Twins capture sole possession of first place and never relinquish it.
August 30 – The Sunday of “The Weekend in Milwaukee,” otherwise known as the day I accepted Kirby Puckett as my Lord and personal Savior. Puckett leads the Twins to a 10-6 victory by going 6-for-6, including two more homers, two doubles, and 6 RBIs. This made for a two-day total in a critical series of 10 hits in 11 at-bats, 4 home runs, 8 runs batted in, 7 runs scored, and 24 total bases. Oh, and somewhere amongst that offense-gasm, Puckett also robbed future Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount of a home run.
There were so many more moments along the way to the Twins World Series Title…the game against the Royals when the Twins rode three first-inning home runs to clinch the division title, or Game 4 of the ALCS where the Tigers’ Darrell Evans became the goat to end all goat, or hometown hero Kent Hrbek’s game-sealing grand slam in Game 6 of the World Series.
There were also many firsts. The Twins were the first team with only 85 regular-season wins. Game 1 of the 1987 World Series was the first World Series game played indoors. It was also the first World Series in which the home team won every game. Most importantly, it was the Twins first Championship since the franchise moved to Minnesota.
Does a woodchuck like to chuck wood? Good old-fashioned American guys love just about any naked chick, but for some reason cheerleaders (with, or better yet without the cheerleader uniform) cut right to the heart of all of our adolescent fantasies. this is likely why I was reminded by the author of Sportsattitudes (you should check it out, it’s like a good version of this blog) that I did in fact promise to keep tabs on the Taylor Corley story, the Mississippi State cheerleader who showed her cowbells last year in Playboy magazine as “Taylor Stone.”
Granted, I forgot about that. But when you are the author of such a big-time, media-shaping sports blog like Dubsism, you are knee-deep in naked cheerleaders. I have the duct-tape and chloroform bills to prove it, but that’s another story.
The honest truth is that this girl dropped off the radar. Believe it or not, even a smoking hot blond with her assets on display will fade from view without the creation of new content. Pump “Taylor Corley” or “Taylor Stone” into the search engine of your choosing, and the most recent entry you will see if one about the cheerleading squad at Mississippi State asking her to turn in her uniform, ostensibly since she wasn’t wearing it anyway. There’s also some guy posting a vlog about her getting a reality show on MTV, but since I haven’t seen anything there that wasn’t Beavis and Butthead or starring Rob Dyrdek, I’m not sure when that happened.
The bottom line is that while we American guys love naked women, we also have short attention spans. If you doubt that, go back to the search engine of your choice and key in the term “naked cheerleader.”
Click whatever links you find at your own risk. I can’t be responsible for whatever you download or the costs of your wrist replacement surgery.
1) Fundamentals Still Matter
If you wanted to know why the two teams many of us had as the favorites to win this playoff tournament will be spending next weekend working on their collective golf swings, the answer is rather simple. It does not matter how many video game/fantasy football numbers your offense posts, it doesn’t matter how far down ESPN’s throat your quarterback’s junk is, the bottom line is that a team simply can’t win in the playoffs when it commits four or more turnovers. Nothing kills a team more than giving the ball away.
2) The Importance of the Passing Game is Over-Rated
There is an inviolable rule about play-off football: never count out a team that can a) run the ball and b) play defense. This is the recipe the 49ers, Ravens, and to a lesser extent the Giants all used to get this far. Fantasy football mentality aside, golfers have a saying for this: You drive for show, and you putt for dough. In football terms, 350 passing yards doesn’t matter if you can’t get 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line.
3) The Importance of the Passing Game is Over-Rated, Part II
So, you read Item #2 and want to think I’m full of crap. Take a look at the inverse argument: If the passing game is the key to winning in the NFL, then the ability to stop the passing game must also be a key to success. The trouble is the stats don’t bear that out.
First of all, can you tell me the last time the individual sack leader played on the Super Bowl winning team? Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Look at this season; Jared Allen racked up 22 sacks and the Vikings defense couldn’t stop a ham sandwich. It’s been a decade since the single-season interceptions leader also hoisted the Lombardi Trophy; Brian Kelly in 2002. It’s been at least two decades since a team led the league in total passing defense on the way to a league title.
If you still think the passing game is what defines success in the NFL, here’s a homework assignment for you. First, give me a hypothesis as to how many more of the last ten Super Bowl winners were in the top 10 in passing yards per game versus how many were in the top ten in rushing yards per game. Then look up the actual numbers and explain why you were as wrong as you were.
4) Pre-game Shows Need To Be Eliminated
Seriously, this is a concept that has outlived its usefulness, and really needs to be relegated to the scrap-heap of television history.
First of all, every single one of them has the same exact formula. The recipe works like this. To start, you need some hack broadcaster to be the host. It’s better if he’s fat, balding, or both. To go full-Berman, be sure he’s an obnoxious ass-hat who is the only guy in the room who thinks he’s funny.
Next, get a collection of used-up ex-jocks who neither add anything insightful, yet can be counted on to yield “expert” opinions for everything on the field. Lord knows, being a defensive lineman for 15 years makes one the pre-eminent authority on wide receiver play in the NFL.
Then, get an ex-coach who fits the following criteria (pick at least two of the following)
- Is at least a decade past his best career years
- Wants to use a network to ensure his name keeps coming up whenever there’s a coaching vacancy
- Needs to use a network to ensure anybody still gives a damn who he is
- Was successful enough to be considered an “expert,” yet not successful enough to where he’s worried about blowing a legacy by considered completely insane (also known as the “Ditka” rule)
- Was successful enough to be considered an “expert,” yet will never get another job because he actually is completely insane (also known as the “Gruden” rule)
- Was successful enough to be considered an “expert,” yet will never get another job because he’s a complete fraud (also known as the “Dungy” rule)
- Was never successful, but is entertaining because he is guaranteed to have another dramatic public meltdown (also known as the “Herm Edwards” rule)
Secondly, to make your pre-game sh0w more enjoyable, be sure that it shoe-horns fifteen minutes of usable content into at least an hour of air-time.
Drew Magary is one of my favorite writers in all of the blogosphere. He is in more desperate need of a mental health professional than anybody out there, but that’s part of his charm. Anyway, he posted some interesting questions of a “what if” nature about the current mass psychosis surrounding the Bronco celebrity quarterback. I would like to pose those same questions now, but with the inclusion of some decidedly Dubsist answers.
1) What if Tebow really were Jesus?
The Margary Answer:
This is unlikely, because Tebow is the youngest of five children and his mother has never insisted upon her own virginity. However, if Tebow came out and declared Himself to be God the Son, and then turned water into wine on national television, SHIT WOULD GET HEATED. You’d have people taking Him at his Word and becoming his disciples. Then you’d have cynical bastards like me saying He’s full of shit and that His water-conversion motion has poor mechanics and that everyone who buys His story is a wingnut freakshow. Then you’d have the wingnuts taking up arms and firebombing Bill Maher’s house. Then the violence would spread to the Middle East and beyond, with angry mobs burning Tebow in effigy and Tebow converts responding by throwing rocks and sticks and very small babies. Then World War III would break out and last for nine years until Tebow, at age 33, finally ascended to a mount and beseeched the world to end the bloodshed, begging all men to love each other and work together in peace and harmony.
And then He would be crucified. Then we’d have to wait another 2,000 years until another quarterback arrived with His skill set. God is cruel.
The Dubsist Position:
Margary is largely correct, but he leaves out one significant event which may hasten the destruction of the world. See, If Tebow really were Jesus, then it is conceivable that stadiums across the league would become de facto houses of the Lord. You can’t charge admission to the house of the Lord; remember how pissed off Jesus got over that whole incident with the moneychangers in the temple. Once the NFL goes broke because it’s revenue source became a collection plate, it will dissappear. Then the only thing separating all those good Christians from having nothing better to do on Sundays besides fire-bombing mosques will be televised bowling. It doesn’t take a biblical historian to tell you that the world will be in flames about a week after that.
2) What if Tebow were to win the Super Bowl?
The Margary Answer:
That can’t happen. I mean honestly, it can’t. We’d all die from ESPN-induced rage cancer. There are three Hall of Fame QBs playing in these playoffs. There’s no possible way that little Timmy Tebow’s team can knock off two of th… You know what? No. I’m not getting into that trap. This young man THRIVES on haterade. He laps it up like it’s Christ’s own blood. Anyone predicting his doom is just gonna end up looking like an asshole. Better to clam up, pretend to root for him, and then act all condescending when things go wrong. That’s what good Christians do to their neighbors.
Anyway, if Tebow wins the Super Bowl, we’ll all fucking die.
The Dubsist Position:
First of all, Tebow can’t win the Super Bowl on his own. He will need the 52 apostles known as the Broncos. Don’t forget that a major part of Tebow-mania has been a defense that keeps the Broncos close enough for the last-minute miracle.
More importantly, let’s not just dismiss the possibility. After all, if you had told me a year ago that Tim Tebow would lead the Broncos into the playoffs and Joe Paterno would lose his job over a sex abuse scandal, I would have rushed you to the nearest hospital as you must have had a stroke. Get the point?
Anyway, if Tebow were to hoist the Lombardi Trophy next month, it will take no time at all for three things to happen. First, most of the Tebow-haters will do an about face; but the ones who don’t defect will become even more fervent and maniacal. The second thing that will happen is a three-month long Tebow-gasm even worse than what we are living through today. Forget about Wheaties boxes, Tebow’s face will be on everything from sneakers to shotguns. Third, and most hilarious especially for those afore-mentioned Tebow haters, will be an explosion of imitators. Get ready for a wave of Option/Single-Wing/Leather Helmet offenses across the NFL.
Worse yet, he will marry Kim Kardashian in a Pay-Per-View event guaranteed to give you retinal herpes.
3) What if Tebow were gay?
The Margary Answer:
It’s a hard truth that the most religious guy on your block is the one most likely to be sneaking out to truck stops at 3 a.m. so he can greedily lap up every last ounce of redneck jizz caked on the bathroom stall partition. Anyway, if Tebow were gay, a couple of things would happen. First off, Mike Silver would die from excitement. Secondly, Tebow would have an incredible opportunity to bridge the persistent divide in this nation between evangelical Christians and the gay community. I mean, honestly: It’s time for this matter to be settled. Tebow could get his followers to be more accepting of gays, and he could get filthy liberals to be more accepting of evangelicals. I think he and Von Miller would make the cutest gay couple ever.
The Dubsist Position:
The magical union Margary speaks between Christians and liberals has as much likelihood of happening as I do for becoming the world first Eskimo fighter pilot. The one thing they have in common also dooms such a healing; they are the two groups of people who turn on their own kind the fastest, and they have an inherent distrust of converts. A gay Tim Tebow would be a “man without a country” faster than you can say “John Elway has horse teeth.”
4) What if Tebow were assassinated while out on the field?
The Margary Answer:
Then I think you would see the Jesus scenario from Question 1 unfold. I also think his sperm would be harvested and given to willing congregants for mass breeding.
The Dubsist Position:
Pardon the pun, but God help us if this happens, and not just to Tebow. Collectively, we didn’t learn from the Monica Seles incident of twenty years ago. Mark my words, this is going to happen someday, and it won’t be funny when it does.
5) What if Tebow were secretly a serial killer?
The Margary Answer:
Then I think it would seriously compete with the O.J. scandal and the Penn State scandal for the title of Worst All Time. Tebow would be arrested, tried, and perhaps acquitted due to a sympathetic jury, with a sizable fraction of the populace convinced that he couldn’t possibly be guilty of such heinous crimes. Meanwhile, he’d be banned from football forever, which would mean we’d never have to hear about whether or not he has what it takes to be a winning pro QB ever again. It’s a win-win situation. Except for the murder victims. They’d get the short end of the stick.
The Dubsist Position:
It’s funny Margary mentions the Penn State scandal. Now that Mrs. Dubsism thinks she has some sports credibility, she mentioned this same thing about Drew Brees. Her theory was that since Brees has such an clean image and seems like such an all-around good guy, someday we will find out he eats babies. The proof of such a theory: again, if you told me a year ago that Joe Paterno would lose his job over a sex abuse scandal, I would have had you committed. Now, I’m willing to believe anything, including when they find Tebow’s freezer full of girl scouts.
6) What if Deadspin were to find a Tebow dong shot?
The Margary Answer:
We can and WE WILL! I don’t think it would change anything about where people stand on Tebow, only now we’d have a penis to stare at. I think that would really add to the conversation.
The Dubsist Position:
Odds are Visanthe Shiancoe won’t be envious.
7) What if Deadspin were to find a picture of Tebow taking a bong rip?
The Margary Answer:
I’d totally start rooting for him.
The Dubsist Answer:
We could make a Mt. Rushmore of sports stoners: Michael Phelps, Ricky Williams, Tim Lincecum, and Tebow. How awesome would that be? I’d settle for a picture of Tebow and Kyle Orton baked at White Castle.
What if Tebow were a very nice man and an occasionally effective quarterback?
The Margary Answer:
Pfft. That’s stupid. TOTALLY UNREALISTIC.
The Dubsist Position:
Know what Tim Tebow would be if he were a womanizing drunk who was an occasionally effective quarterback? Joe Namath.
There’s really nothing quite like the special level of hell reserved for when a current phenomenon inspires the return of one with a “retro” feel. Take the current Tim Tebow-mania which as we speak has a death-grip on the throat of the sports world. How would you feel about marrying that to the soundtrack from one of those god-awful 1980’s “Brat Pack” movies?
Well wonder no more…to the horror of eardrums around the world, it’s happened.
Remember “St. Elmo’s Fire?” Apparently John Parr, the author of that bit of ear-rape, happens to be a serious fan of the Denver Broncos, and therefore a dedicated Tebow-phile. To honor his quarterback phenomenon, he’s rewritten the song to honor him.
Just because you don’t want to experience the feeling of a rabid weasel clawing your eardrums is no reason to miss out on this gold-medal level lyrical nut-kicking.
Gotta keep your eye on the ball
Make it fly,
Give it everything, give your all
But maybe sometimes if you feel the pain
You’ll find you’re all alone
Everything has changed
Play the game
You know you can’t quit until it’s won
Only you can do what must be done
You know I’m out there
Down on one knee
And I’m tryin’ to break free
I can see a new horizon
Underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s
Flyin’ higher and higher
Gonna be a man in motion
All I needs my Broncos team
Take me where my future’s lyin’
Tim Tebows Fire
Don’t know just how far that I can go
(Just how far I go)
Soon be home
Only just 4 downs to go
I can make it
I know I can
You broke the boy in me
But you won’t break the man
I can see a new horizon
blazin on the Mile High
I’ll be where the eagle’s
Flyin’ higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion
All I needs my Broncos team
Take me where my future’s lyin’
Tim Tebows Fire
I can climb the highest mountain
These Broncos cant be beat
I can feel St Elmo’s Fire burnin’ in me
Burnin’ in me
Just once in his life
A man has his time
And my time is now
And I’m comin’ alive
I can hear the music playin’
I can see the banners fly
Feel like a man again
I’ll hold my head high
Gonna be a man in motion
These broncos can’t be beat
Take me where my future’s lyin’
Tim Tebow’s fire
I can climb the highest mountain
Cross the wildest sea
I can feel St. Elmo’s Fire burnin’ in me
Burnin’ in me
I can feel it burnin’
Oooh, burnin’ inside of me
I don’t know about you, but I will be spending the rest of the afternoon stuffing a bottle brush in my ears.