Tales of Depression and Sorrow: The Los Angeles Angels

tales of depression LA Angels

This is another installment in the Sports Blog Movement series  which takes a hard look at certain instances, or specific seasons which would make sports fans cringe in horror and pain, or expands on that to take a hard look at the long-suffering fans of franchises who have tortured their supporters for decades.

The episode is my sad saga of being a life-long fan of the Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Los Angeles Angels. First of all, just look at that list of name changes.  When I was a kid and they were still the California Angels; this was a team that was the “red-headed step child” of southern California baseball; even the expansion and shitty San Diego Padres had a better local television deal.  Angel games (when you could find them) were usually on a UHF station which shoe-horned baseball into a power-packed lineup of Dobie Gillis re-runs, “B” westerns from the 1940’s, and the original Japanese “Ultraman” series. You kids who know nothing of television before MTV may have to do a web search to find out what any of the shit I just mentioned means.

The point is that being an Angels fan is like getting a really cool birthday gift from a relative to whom you haven’t spoken in years. The Angels have pissed me off so many times in the past; there have been so many times I’ve almost sat shiva on this team and my relationship with it, I almost wish I could “give back”  the 2002 World Series title so I wouldn’t have to escalate the relationship from its usual level of “fuck-off-ness.”

You would think the current level of success would abate some of this, but It really hasn’t. The big money era brought to us by owner Arte Moreno still hasn’t borne any play-off fruit, and I’m not sure it ever will. Missing the play-offs this year would mark five straight years with having one of the highest payrolls in baseball with nothing to show for it. Ownership notwithstanding, this team just doesn’t have a good history, and I get the feeling that isn’t going to change.

Sure, this team is contending now, but I just got to watch my best pitcher shred his knee. That’s the power of history, and for those of you who don’t know the history of this team, allow me to share some of the misery.

1) I wasn’t old enough to have Bo Belinsky as a hero.

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Do The St. Louis Rams Have The Balls To Cut Michael Sam?

michael sam

Sam: Running his way on to a practice squad near you.

In a word, no…because they can’t, and they know they can’t.

We all know the story here, because the ESPNs of the world have done nothing but try to make a story where there really isn’t one. Gay or straight, the issue is that Michael Sam is at best a marginal NFL player; the fact is that without his pronouncement of being gay, nobody would give a damn about him as a football player.

First of all, let’s cut through the guano here. The Rams were the NFL’s back-up plan in case nobody drafted Michael Sam.  With all the publicity Sam was getting, it was a potential public-relations problem if he were to go undrafted. The sports media community wanted their “barrier-breaking hero,” and it just didn’t matter anymore if he was worthy of actually playing in the NFL. If you doubt that, just look at what was an obviously staged scene at Sam’s home on draft day.  was completely staged.  After all, how many guys taken in the last minute of the last round of the draft have camera crews in their homes?

In other words, this means the Rams knew exactly what they were getting into when they selected Sam. The “distractions” that Tony Dungy caught so much shit for pointing out are very real. Once the Rams took him, there were stuck with him until the end; there are only four ways the relationship between Sam and the Rams ends this summer:

  1. Sam makes the team on his merits as an NFL player: That’s a prohibitive long-shot, I’ll get into why in a minute.
  2. Sam gets a roster spot even if he doesn’t really deserve it: That’s not very likely for two reasons. NFL roster spots are far too valuable, and there a real risk of getting accused of favoritism.
  3. Sam gets released outright:  His footprints out of town won’t even be cold yet and ESPN will softly accuse them of homophobia by writing shit like “Did Sam’s Sexuality Play a Role in His Release?”
  4. Sam gets put on the  practice squad: This is the most likely to happen, because it gives the Rams the best of both worlds; they don’t have to waste a roster spot on him, and they don’t have to release him.

We are two games into the pre-season, and Sam hasn’t really done much to change the math. Numbers don’t lie, and a lot of them are not in Sam’s favor.  The overall odds of a seventh round draft pick making an NFL roster on his first shot are long at best.  It doesn’t help matters the Rams are exceptionally deep at defensive end. Worse yet, Sam is very limited as an NFL defensive end; he really only is a “jail-break” pass-rusher.

To be fair, Sam has shown some upside; he tallied his first NFL sack last week against Green Bay.  But to be ever more fair, he’s playing against back-up level talent, and even then, defensive coordinators are leaving him unblocked more often than not.  Sam is too small to take on a head-on run block; he gets pushed all over the field. That means he isn’t really considered a threat, which does not bode well for his chances of making the Rams final roster.

Tonight’s exhibition game in Cleveland should tell a big part of the Sam story. If you tune into that in a few hours and see Michael Sam playing special teams, just pencil him in for the practice squad now.  If you will notice, you don’t see a lot of linemen playing on the kick squad.  The reason is big guys never do well chugging all the way downfield.  If they put him on special teams now, the Rams will be admitting two things we already all knew:

  1. Sam lacks the size to be an every-down defensive end in the NFL.
  2. Sam’s only hope to make the rosters i s on special teams.

Don’t look now, but it has already happened.  He’s played six special-teams snaps against the Saints, and three more against the Packers. That means the Rams already see the writing in the wall; they are expanding any possibility they can to keep him on the roster.

The biggest problem Sam has is the Rams are absolutely stocked for starting D-lineman; Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Eugene Sims, are locks to make the roster, and with William Hayes returing from an injury and looking to be fully recovered, Sam looks like the odd Ram out. Couple that with the fact that an undrafted free-agent from West Texas A&M named Ethan Westbrooks is getting more game time and is being played in games before Sam is another problem. Even by the best accounts, Sam is only an upfield pass-rusher, while Hayes can play both inside and outside.  Even if the Rams decided to get fatter at a position in which they already have more than sufficient depth, that would mean making a choice between Sam and a proven second-year player in Sammy Brown. Given Sam’s aforementioned athletic limitations, that doesn’t seen very likely.

That’s why you are going to see Sam on the kick team a lot tonight; not just because the starters always get the lion’s share of the snaps in the third tune-up game, but because the only way Sam is making the roster is to run on to it on special teams.

Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: CBS News Uses Ferguson Riots to Inject Race Into Little League Baseball

End of World Sign

This post may sound like it belongs on Turtle Boy Sports (which is an awesome read, by the way…), but what I saw on my television this morning literally made me spew coffee across my living room. I’m watching my local morning news during which CBS News does a two-minute cut-in with a “headlines of the day”-type bit.  This led to me taking in what was either the sloppiest bit of film editing in the history of broadcast journalism or somebody at CBS has an agenda.

The footage starts in Ferguson, where the media has turned this story into your “Riot Roll;” 5 seconds of protestors holding signs and generally being non-violent, followed by 30 seconds of looters smashing windows and stealing property. Despite the fact we’ve clearly switched the visual from “protestors” to people clearly involved in criminal behavior, CBS still insists on referring to them as “protestors.”  What I can’t figure out is are they doing this to portray peaceful; protestors as criminals, or are they trying not to admit that 95% of what is going on in Ferguson is not protesting, it’s rioting?

Look, I’m not going to pretend like I can’t figure out what the media will do when it comes to stories involving race. They are nothing if not predictably consistent. That’s why how they handled the Little League story which followed the Ferguson coverage surprised me. It’s obvious the media has turned the Ferguson situation from a  story involving an interaction with a tragic end between the police and a person who was a suspect in a “strong-arm” robbery into a two-week long race riot. I’m on record plenty of times on this blog saying that racism will exist in this country as long as people can make money from it. Make no mistake, that is exactly what Ferguson is all about.

I could go into the old conservative wheeze about how black people kill each other all the time and nobody gives a shit. I could point out that once an incident crosses racial lines, it becomes a Shark Week-level media feeding frenzy.  Both of those statements miss the point that outlets like CBS News are in the business of sensationalism, and they will do anything they can to inflame a story to increase the number of eyeball on their media presence.

So, what the hell does that have to do with Little League? First of all, because CBS News went straight from one story in which they are clearly and deliberately race-baiting, to another where they exploited a bunch of children to do exactly the same thing. There have been two media darlings in this year’s Little League World Series; Mo’ne Davis, the star pitcher from Philadelphia, and the “Jackie Robinson West” team from Chicago. Well, those two faced each other last night, with the Chicago team emerging victorious. I had been suspicious all along that at some point, the race issue was going to be brought to the forefront by some media hack, and I was right. Predictably, it happened once there was only one such story to cover.

While the Davis story has been fun to watch strictly from a sports perspective, you knew all along that somebody was waiting for the time to ride the fact she’s a girl and black. You could tell this because all the while we are trumpeting her dominant 70-mph fastball, and her phenomenal strike-out numbers, nobody mentioned the fact that in her last start, she was essentially the losing pitcher. The ugly reality was the “dominant” pitcher everybody wanted to make into a story gave up three earned runs in two innings pitched.

Thankfully for the media, they still have the “Jackie Robinson West” team. Obviously, they have yet to be referred to as the “Chicago” team, because using Robinson’s name as often as possible paints the needed picture. If you doubt this, ask yourself a question. in a 30-second piece, why did CBS News use the terms “Jackie Robinson” and “all-black team” a combined five times? Do the math…that means CBS News saw fit to tell you this team was comprised exclusively of black kids once every six seconds, despite the fact you could easily see that for yourself in the video.

I’m almost afraid to watch the Little League U.S. Championship game tomorrow night. I’m hoping that we won’t see another stooping to a new low as set by CBS News. The Chicago team will face what I think is the best team in this tournament; a junior-sized lumber company from Las Vegas.  Nobody has needed to mention the fact that team is comprised of all white players, just like nobody pointed out the Japanese and South Korean teams are made up exclusively of Asians.

You know that somebody somewhere will beat the race drum if the Chicago kids advance to the World Championship game. For the sake of racism for fun and profit, we will be treated to a bunch of bilge about black kids, white kids, and Asian kids; all the while the hacks at places like CBS News won’t care about the most important thing.  They are just kids.

Roger Goodell Wants You To Be A New York Jets Fan

roger goodell jdub ny jets

Der Kommissar with J-Dub, who is doing his patriotic best to help the NFL.

This post is all about questions, not the least of which is why the hell does Roger Goodell care which team I support? The answer to that is a bit more complex than you might think, and to get you there means seeing a few more questions.

How do we know Kommissar Goodell wants you to be a New York Jets fan? Why else are the New York Jets on national television 3 times in this upcoming season? Because Kommissar Goodell wants you to be a New York Jets fan.  Maybe he doesn’t care specifically about you, but there’s really no doubting the NFL wants to give the Jets as much exposure as they can.

Why does the NFL want to expose the Jets as much as they can to a national audience? The magic word is “television.”  To be specific, this is about the numbers of people watching the NFL on television. The dirty little secret is the NFL is rapidly approaching maximum capacity for television viewership, which is exactly why Kommissar Goodell and the rest of the NFL Politburo are constantly beating the bushes for ways to grow the NFL’s television market. This is why we keep seeing silliness like games in foreign countries and the expansion of Thursday Night Football. Continue reading →

Point – Counterpoint: The Basketball World Cup Is Pointless

point counterpoint sbm

By J-Dub and Ryan Meehan

Editor’s Note: This article is a collaborative effort between J-Dub and Ryan Meehan from First Order Historians. Ryan also has his own blog, East End Philadelphia, which is featured in the Dubsism BlogRoll and it is well worth the read.

Every four years, the world governing body of soccer (FIFA) holds the pinnacle event in the sport; the World Cup. Just a few months back, we all saw what a spectacle it is; it is a global event second only to the Olympics. What many of you probably didn’t know is that basketball has a similar organization. The Fédération de Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) does the same for hoops as FIFA does for soccer. Similarly, FIBA also hosts a World Cup, which it is trying to make as large of an event as its soccer counterpart.

The trouble is this event has gone largely unnoticed in the country which is the king of basketball.  The average American never even heard of the Basketball World Cup, until a few weeks ago when the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George did his best Barbaro impression during a Team USA scrimmage.  The echo from his snapping leg bones hadn’t even stopped yet when the debate started. On one side, there is a school of thought in America which believes the basketball World Cup is incredibly pointless.  On the opposite side is a group who see great value in international competition.

In this installment of Point – Counterpoint, Meehan takes up the cause of the “America First” crowd, which collides head-on with J-Dubs’ belief the growth potential of all sports, not just basketball, is in the global arena.

1) What Started All This: The Potential for Injuries

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Five Years of Dubsism: The Epitome Of What Is Wrong With the Internet

dubsism 5 year toilet

You would think a momentous occasion like this would have dramatic opening theme music like this.  But let’s be honest, this is an independent sports blog with what could be most politely described as an “off-beat” sense of humor. That means appropriate theme music for this moment would be something more like this from the McRae/Bohnen* school.

The best talent for a blogger to have is propensity to rant. I love to rant about sports, and most people give two shits less about them. That was really the genesis behind Dubsism;an outlet for my rants which nobody wanted to hear.

So, what was so special about this day five years ago? That was the day the Minnesota Vikings signed Brett Favre; that was the day the very first post on this blog came as an outlet for my reaction to the extreme stupidity that happened in the Twin Cities that day.

If you found yourself in Minnesota on that day, a little after 10 a.m., your life changed forever. Just a few moments before, you were enjoying a bit of “The Price Is Right,” perhaps chuckling at Drew Carey’s sheer likability and noticing that you enjoy this show so much more now that the odds of hot college-age chicks spinning the big wheel have increased so much more since the Bob Barker days. Then it happened.

You weren’t quite sure what had happened yet. All you knew was that lazily pondering the cost of a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew was suddenly thrust aside by a visibly excited Mark Rosen yammering almost incoherently about King Brett I finally agreeing to play for the Vikings.

Since then, while Favre remained a popular topic on Dubsism, the blog has grown into one of a select number of independent sports blogs that have survived the test of time and that occasionally gets a reader.

As far as the test of time angle is concerned, look at some of what has happened in the last five years in sports.

  • Joe Paterno goes from Dubsism’s most-blogged about person to a legend who suffered an ignominious end
  • Speaking of falls from grace, Lance Armstrong go from cancer-surviving hero to disgraced juicer
  • One of the greatest comeback’s in sports history EVER… The US America’s Cup Team storming back from a 1-8 deficit to keep the Cup where it belongs by beating New Zealand 9-8.
  • Tim Tebow’s entire professional football career

While you ponder that, take a look at just some of the things Dubsism has brought you during that same time.

There have been 895 posts on this blog, and the one about Top Salaries in Obscure Sports was the most read.

There several choices for what got you to comment. On the serious side, there was an assessment of the Penn State sex abuse scandal. From the ever-popular “List” format, lots of people had things to say about The Quintessential List of the 30 Greatest Quarterbacks.

There were movie parodies, such as the Dubsism version of Apocalpyse Now which takes place in the swamps of the SEC.

In addition, there were hundreds of J-Dub posts on the now defunct Sports Blog Movement, many of which are featured in series that now make a home on Dubsism.

  • Sports Doppelgangers: The series for sports and celebrity look-alikes
  • Tales of Depression and Sorrow: Stories of long-suffering fans of not-so-good teams
  • Conversations Not Meant To Be Public: Great stuff unearthed by Dubsism’s investigative journalism division. DISCLAIMER: Buy “unearthed,” J-Dub may mean “completely fabricated.”  But its some seriously funny stuff in any event
  • Grinds My Gears – My rants about teams or people in sports who piss me off
  • Comparisons – Exactly what you would expect…looking at things outside the sports world and showing you that if life imitates art, then sports imitates life
  • Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization – The Bible talks about Armageddon; believe what you will. But there’s plenty of evidence out there supporting the idea we are fucking up our own lives every day
  • The Deep Six: A Ryan Meehan joint (often featuring J-Dub) exposing the foibles of pop culture in sports

That last series takes us to all the guest columns and collaborations Dubsism has done over the years. For all questions about the business of sports, the Dubsism “go-to” guy in legendary general manager Joe McGrath. The sports world has a definite intersection with the law, and private investigator Jim Rockford covers that. The sports world is getting more international every day, and to walk us through that we have King George VI.

Dubsism even has collaborators that actually exist. The one seen most often is the aforementioned Ryan Meehan from First Order Historians.  He’s lent a pen to all kinds of things, not the least of which was the sole Dubsism foray into politics.

I’ve also worked with Chris Humpherys from SportsChump, who not only gave us the definitive podcast on The Masters, but his skill as a bartender partnered with my rampant alcoholism is a match whose level of perfection hasn’t been seen since Dr. Jonas Salk and the polio vaccine.

Several former members of sports Blog Movement show up in the annals of Dubsism as well; hockey guru Jeremy Wiebe offered us some great insights into the world of European soccer.

Dubsism has also been proud to be the web’s exclusive home of the Jamie Moyer for the Hall of Fame campaign.

After all that, the one thing that remains…I was absolutely right in everything I ever said about how the Brett Favre era in Minnesota would end. Everything.

brett favre 4th annual retirement party

*McRae and Bohnen were two guys who were usually in the room when many of the early posts on this blog were written in Minnesota. They were usually heavily armed.  You figure out why.

The 2014 Baseball Trading Deadline – The Shark Week Comparison

Thanks to the Discovery Channel, Shark Week has become a phenomenon. It completely escapes why they haven’t partnered with the Sharknado people, but that’s a topic of another day.

Last year, there was such a dearth of trade deadline moves in baseball that I skipped my annual Shark Week Trade Deadline comparison.  That is certainly not the case this year. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, the premise is that in baseball, trading is a shark-eat-shark world; some sharks do the eating, and some sharks get eaten.  It is along those lines that I draw comparisons to the moves made by baseball teams at the trading deadline.

Why such a comparison?  Because no matter what, one thing is certain.  Where there is trading , there is bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water.

The bottom line is I’m just not willing to wait for two years to see who are the bleeders and who are the eaters.  As the format suggests, there is obviously a “food chain” involved here, so why not give the rating of trading winners and losers a ”swim with the sharks” twist?

Great White Shark:

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The Write-In Campaign: J-Dub for Major League Baseball Commisssioner

j-dub for MLB commissioner

Back in his first stint at the World Wide Bottom Feeder, back in the days when Bud Selig had yet to seize complete control of baseball, Keith Olbermann used to refer to him as “Acting Commissioner for Life.” As much as Olbermann is the definition of “smarmy ass-hat,” he was absolutely right. But now that Selig’s  two-decade-plus reign of terror is coming to a close, Major League Baseball finds itself ready to select it’s new leader.

There’s three leading candidates for the job.

1) MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred

Manfred is considered to be the favorite, which is no surprise considering he’s spent the majority of the last two decades as Selig’s lickspittle.

2)  MLB Executive Vice President for Business Tim Brosnan

Known as a savvy negotiator, Brosnan is another lawyer who has been the force behind most of what has made baseball a big-money venture over the past ten years.

3) Boston  Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner

Werner made his dough as a television executive, and has been part of two ownership groups; first with the San Diego Padres and now with the Red Sox.

While these guys all have their pluses and minuses, they have one thing in common: they represent “more of the same.” Manfred is a Harvard-educated lawyer who likely already has a to-do list form Selig.   Brosnan’s major claim to fame is that he figured out television can be lucrative.  As far as Werner is concerned, didn’t Selig already teach us what happens when you let an owner become commissioner?

osama bud selig

So, if you think that Bud Selig was good for baseball, and you want to see more of it, then you have no problem with any of the three candidates I’ve mentioned.  If you don’t really care about seeing another decade of baseball ruled by Selig’s Taliban, then there is no point in your reading any further.  But if you are a baseball fan who is tired of watching baseball being treated as a second class citizen in the country which invented it, then I ask you to consider the following proposition, and if you agree with it, I would ask you to contact Major League Baseball and demand as a fan that I be installed as Commissioner.

Here’s the agenda for my term as Commissioner.
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Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: Can You Imagine What Would Happen If Tony Stewart Had Killed A Black Teenager?

End of World Sign

At first glance, the title of this piece seems ludicrous, but the events of this past week in upstate New York and suburban St. Louis share one overarching theme. In both cases, there is a world full of people who not only want me to jump to conclusions based on what they want to believe, they expect me to do so based on on some flimsy mob mentality to which they’ve subscribed.

In case you were on the International Space Station this week and NASA forgot to pay the cable bill, on Saturday night at a race track in Canandaigua, New York, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart struck and killed fellow driver Kevin Ward, Jr. who had exited his car after colliding with Stewart’s car. A few days before that in Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown was shot and killed during a confrontation with police. While these two incidents are a thousand miles and worlds apart, they are bound by several common threads.

First of all is the aforementioned mob mentality. I’m surrounded by people who looked a the video of the Stewart incident and are convinced this was a act of stone-cold murder. While I’m willing to admit that video looks bad, I’m also not willing to forgo due process because of it. As far as the Brown situation is concerned, this is just another in a long line of incidents where there is a predisposed, politically-correct determination of the sequence of events based solely on the race of the person who ended up dead.

Instead of looking at these situations by poo-pooing what I don’t know, let’s look at what I do know.  It seems to me that getting run over is a fair risk to expect from walking around on a race track.  There’s really no denying that is what happened, regardless of whatever else comes to light. In other words, Ward could not have been run over had he stayed in his car.

Ironically, by all witness accounts, the incident between Brown and the police began when Brown and another unidentified male approached the officer’s car and began a physical confrontation with him when he attempted to exit his squad car. The accounts of what happened after that point vary greatly, but the end was not vague at all.

While I’m spending my morning spewing coffee across the room at how outlandish the coverage of both these stories is becoming; at least the outraged NASCAR fans are equating the need for justice with the right to smash the windows at a Wal-Mart and steal a 50-inch flat screen. But that isn’t the only way terms are getting confused.

In a rare moment when ESPN wasn’t bleating the Stewart story this morning, they did one of those “puff” pieces about a BASE jumper who blew out his spine jumping off a bridge. While they are telling the story of his “comeback,” the kept using the word “tragedy” to describe his injury. What happened to this guy was not a “tragedy;” a six-year old getting mowed down in a crosswalk is a “tragedy.” Ending up in a wheelchair because you played “patty-cake” with a bridge piling is not a “tragedy,” it’s an occupational hazard.

Know what else are occupational hazards? Sucking a fender at fifty miles an hour because you are an impulsive hothead, and eating a bullet because you picked a fight with a guy wearing a gun.  In other words, what is really infuriating about the coverage of both of these stories is the media has this silly need to obfuscate the fact that both of these stories have a distinct “it takes two to tango” factor.   No matter how much white-wash you sling, there’s no denying if you don’t want to get run over, you shouldn’t walk around on race-tracks.  A great way not to get shot by the police is not to start fist fights with them. And if you cripple yourself jumping off bridges, don’t let ESPN use you to reinforce the idea that we bear no responsibility for what happens to us anymore.

Sports Doppelgangers – Volume 65: Can Derrick Rose Go “All Night Long?”

derrick rose lionel richie

Thanks to a suggestion from my usual partner-in-crime Ryan Meehan which sent me into a swirl of horrid 80’s music flashbacks, you can sit back and brace yourself for a cavalcade of Lionel Richie jokes. Don’t even try to tell us you don’t see the resemblance; you have to make the mustache a bit “douchier,” and you have to make the hair a bit more “bathroom-ruggish,” but once you do that, Derrick Rose looks more like Lionel Richie than the statue the blind girl made of him in that video does.

We could be “Running With the Night” playing  “Say You, Say Me” “All Night Long,” but rather than do that, there’s “Truly” some basketball news to discuss here. While Kevin “Endless” Love may be on his way to Cleveland, Derrick Rose is assuring us that his knees are as solid as a “Brick House.” We’ll believe that when we see him “Dancing on the Ceiling.”

Now who is having horrid 80’s music flashbacks? “You Are.”

“Hello…Is it knees you’re looking for?”

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