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
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.
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.
*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.
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:
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?
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.
Continue reading →
Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: Can You Imagine What Would Happen If Tony Stewart Had Killed A Black Teenager?
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.
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?”
If you like Thursday Night Football, then this piece isn’t for you. You are the NFL fan Kommissar Roger Goodell loves; the one who keeps gulping down the sports slop the NFL is pumping out these days. The NFL remains the most popular sports league in this country despite the fact that under Goodell’s watch, the NFL keeps finding ways to ruin its own product. Thursday Night Football is yet another example.
Honestly, I never had an issue with TNF before now. The fact that the NFL used its own network to get its bottom feeders a shot at a nation-wide audience didn’t put a burr under my saddle. But now that CBS is getting a part of this package, it’s pretty clear the NFL is selling us some serious lies about the quality of the product they are dishing out. If you doubt that, consider the following points.
1) They want you to think now TNF will feature better games
Ironically, the best lies have a kernel of truth in them. While Goodell and the rest of the NFL Politburo can honestly say this year’s TNF schedule is better than previous years, it’s like saying not shooting yourself in the face is better than shooting yourself in the face. Last year’s schedule is interesting not for who is on it, but for who isn’t. If you look at it, there wasn’t a single game that featured two teams who made the playoffs. The closest examples were Seahawks vs. Cardinals and Chargers vs. Broncos, but when both of those games were scheduled, nobody was picking Arizona or San Diego to be in the play-off hunt. Conversely that schedule was chock full of barn-burners featuring play-off teams against dogs, like Patriots-Jets, 49ers-Rams, and Colts-Titans.
The party line coming down from the NFL Kremlin is now TNF will feature games between divisional rivals. At first glance that sounds pretty damn good, but when you look at the schedule, it looks like more of the same. If you doubt that, look at this list and tell me how many of these games look like both teams could be play-off contenders?
- Pittsburgh at Baltimore*
- Tampa Bay at Atlanta*
- New York Giants at Washington*
- Minnesota at Green Bay*
- Indianapolis at Houston*
- New York Jets at New England*
- San Diego at Denver*
- New Orleans at Carolina
- Cleveland at Cincinnati
- Buffalo at Miami
- Kansas City at Oakland
- Dallas at Chicago
- Arizona at St. Louis
- Tennessee at Jacksonville
*Games on CBS, all others on NFL Network.
I count one…two if you think Pittsburgh and Baltimore can be anything more than mediocre. Three if you looked at Dallas at Chicago after drinking a quart of varnish. Other than that, this is just more bad football brought to you by the people who don’t want you to notice it is bad football. The best way for you to not notice is to keep it on the NFL Network.
2) The season opener and Thanksgiving games tell the story
It’s not an accident that these two games which feature Green Bay at Seattle and San Francisco at Seattle respectively are not part of this crap-tastic TNF package. The reason for that is obvious, what but not what you would expect. The NFL already made a concession to the TNF schedule to entice a network partner; there are three teams over the past ten years which have consistently been at the top of the league in terms of merchandise sales and television ratings: Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Dallas. Do you think it is an accident the two teams on that list which have had any recent play-off success are on the network portion of the TNF schedule?
3) Sunday Night is the new Monday Night
The hard reality is that the prime real estate for non-Sunday afternoon football isn’t Monday anymore. You can look at the Sunday Night schedule and see that pretty plainly, but what really bears that out is the presence of Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Dallas on Sunday night. Those three teams are on SNF a combined seven times, as opposed to 4 combined appearances on Monday.
4) Even CBS doesn’t buy Thursday Night Football long-term
Think about that for a minute. Normally, bidding for NFL broadcast packages is a feeding frenzy with the winners inking multi-year deals worth billions of dollars. That’s not what happened here. CBS got this contract despite the fact they weren’t the highest bidder. The Eyeball Network only ponied up $275 million for the rights to TNF, and it’s only a one-year deal, with an option year. It’s almost like CBS signed a utility shortstop rather than a deal to broadcast the most popular league in the country.
What’s weird about this is the NFL expected a $400 million price-tag, yet took the low-buck offer from CBS when they could have got their asking price from Turner, ESPN, NBC, and Fox, who had all placed bids. Another fun fact is that CBS gets no additional play-off games under this deal. Clearly, CBS is hoping to make Thursday Night Football into a long-term franchise, but hope is not a strategy. Keeping your options open at the lowest commitment possible is, and both sides are doing it.
CBS is clearly using 2014 season as an audition for the NFL because they have doubts about another weeknight of football, and NFL may be coming to the conclusion they have either hit the ceiling for their pricing, or the saturation point for their product, or both. The NFL surely isn’t putting out a marquees product, and CBS isn’t paying marquee prices.
But this strategy will probably work because there are still enough of the fans Goodell loves; the ones who will slurp up anything he lays down.
Picture the opening scene of the 1989 baseball classic “Major League.” Tom Berenger’s character Jake Taylor is awakened from a night of debauchery in a Mexican motel by a phone call. He fumbles to pick it up, mutters a couple of “uh-huhs,” and then the tirade comes.
“Goddamnit…Is that you, Tolbert? This isn’t funny! I’m hungover, my knees are killing me, and if you’re going to pull this shit, you could have at least said you were from the Yankees!”
While that’s a classic scene, and has probably happened to more than one journeyman big-leaguer, it has yet to happen to the real Jake Taylor.
Like his movie namesake, the real Jake Taylor is just trying to stay in organized ball, just another league baseball player clinging to the professional ranks. But unlike his compadres, Taylor just happens to share a name and position with the main character in one of the most popular baseball movies ever made.
That fact, coupled with the fact this year happens to be the 25th anniversary of the release of “Major League” has made Taylor a bit of a celebrity in the American Association, an independents league with franchises scatters across the heart of North America from Canada to Texas. In parks all across that swath, everybody has fun when Taylor comes to town. Most parks capitalize on the name to have some sort of “Major League” fun when Taylor comes to town. Some show Tom Berenger on the video board when the real Taylor steps up to the plate. Others play quotes from the film. But everybody has a bit of fun.
That is to say, except Taylor’s own team.
Throughout their 20-year history, the St. Paul Saints have a long tradition of making waves with wacky promotions. The combination of owner Mike Veeck and one-time part-owner Bill Murray (yes, “Carl from Caddyshack” once owned his baseball team; no word on if the outfield grass was “smokeable”) provided a franchise which drew people to the ball-park with attractions like getting a hair-cut and a rub-down from a nun, an homage to “Disco Demolition Night” (one of the great baseball disasters brought to us by Veeck’s father Bill), and a pig who carried balls to the umpires between innings who was fattened to gargantuan proportions during the season and lovingly barbecued on “Fan Appreciation Night.”
I could spend the rest of this article posing the question “How does a franchise that was the first one to bring us “Star Wars” night years before it became faddish not take advantage of such a huge opportunity with the obvious ‘Major League’ tie-in?” Think of it; Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn Eyeglass Night, Willie Mays Hayes Batting Glove night, or a bikini contest between innings where fans can vote for “Miss Fuel Injection.” The possibilities are endless.
But that would take away from the story of the real Jake Taylor.
The real Jake Taylor is 27 years old, has a brown buzz-cut, and has yet to play a single game for a team affiliated with the major leagues. Taylor was drafted in the 35th round in 2005 MLB draft by the Marlins Florida but chose to play junior-college ball at Chaffey College in his native California. At the time, Taylor played the hot corner, but scouts with the Marlins told him he had a better future as a catcher. During his time at Chaffey College he did just that. Not only that, Taylor learned how to play middle infield, and even saw duty on the mound.
Being versatile increases your chances of catching the eye of major-league scouts, but the wear and tear from playing so many different positions and throwing from just as many arm angles, led to a torn labrum. After recovering from that injury, Taylor transferred to Missouri Southern State University and wrapped up his collegiate career as a middle infielder.
Taylor has an impressive resume as a bona fide utility man; His abilities as a utility man were attractive. He’s got decent right-hand power, can play the two toughest positions on the diamond (catcher and shortstop), but the scouts that passed through Joplin, Missouri saw fit to not bring Taylor with them. Since then, Taylor hasn’t had another shot at “The Show.”
That’s why Taylor is plying his trade in the American Association, where he has notched time with the Grand Prairie AirHogs and the Sioux Falls Canaries. But it wasn’t until he signed with the St. Paul Saints when he returned to catching. Once he was back behind the plate, the “Major League” references started.
We never knew what the movie Jake Taylor’s numbers were, but the real Jake Taylor is batting a respectable .282, with a serviceable slugging percentage of .419. And he’s still versatile; the Saints have used him at second base, third base, catcher, and even one game in the outfield.
But when he’s catching, I really hope whenever he’s fielding a pop-up near the plate, he says “Uh-oh, I don’t think this one’s got the distance.”
As of this writing, the St. Paul Saints have a record of 42-31 and are in second place in their division. That means they could do what the movie Jake Taylor suggested…”Win the whole fucking thing.”
I’m sure this will prove to be a test of the “Too Soon” rule, but as a guy who lived in Minneapolis when the 35W bridge went down, I couldn’t help but notice how Paul George’s leg suffered a similar epic collapse.
Let’s be honest here. Now that I live in Indiana and while I wish George nothing but a speedy and complete recovery, the local media sooooo over-played this story. I get it; it really was a horrific injury, but the way they covered this story, you would think George had been felled by a second shooter on a grassy knoll.
First of all, Paul George is not a horse. Even if he never plays basketball again, he is going to recover from this and go on to a normal and productive life. In other words, this is NOT going to happen.
Secondly, before you write me some bullshit comment about being sensitive to the victims of that collapse, the guy who has won my fantasy football league two years in a row was one of them, so I have no sympathy for those people. Don’t even try to say any shit to me until you know what it is like to keep losing to a guy with more metal in his head than a Ford F-150.
By J-Dub and Ryan Meehan
The Deep Six is another series from Sports Blog Movement that has found a new home on Dubsism. In its history, it has sometimes been written by J-Dub, sometimes by Ryan Meehan, and sometimes a collaboration. Sometimes it has appeared on Sports Blog Movement, and sometimes on Dubsism, but it has always been about delving deeply into the topics that live in the intersection of pop culture and sports.
In today’s installment, J-Dub and Meehan continue the long march toward the beginning of the real NFL season by taking a look at the people with whom we share that season. No, they are not here to discuss your drinking buddies; they are probably drunken reprobates like they are. Rather, this is about the television personalities we must all suffer during that enjoyment of football.
Here’s the premise. We all know the broadcaster ranks are full of people who don’t suck, like Gus Johnson. We all know those ranks are full of those who do suck; they are far too numerous to mention. But in between there is wide band of broadcasters no one just can’t definitively assign to either category. That why J-Dub and Meehan are going to look at people in four different broadcasting categories: Analyst, Color Commentator, Play-by-Play, and Sideline Reporter.
To help decide into which category these folks should be flung, J-Dub and Meehan are going to explore the pros and cons of each. Being that the theme of this series is the Deep Six, normally they would cover six members of each category. But since this is about football, they’ve decided to include the extra-point.
Without further adieu, here they are (in alphabetical order).