Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Worst Team Mate Ever: Baseball Ireland Edition.

Playing a sport in a country where that given sport is a minority exercise often brings up funny situations. Baseball and indeed softball in Ireland are great examples of that. You get this 'big fish, small pond' syndrome where certain individuals think they are really something, when, in actual fact, they are not.

This can manifest itself in all sorts of shapes and sizes and sometimes the results are hilarious. Sometimes it's as simple as someone making an absolute buffoon of themselves over email. The great sports website Deadspin occasionally posts funny emails from amateur teams and individuals, and I have a beauty to share with you.

A few years ago a guy I played baseball with for a little while left my club team in inglorious fashion, via the media of angry-rant email, in fact. A little bit about this chap, for context and so you get how funny this email is. A mediocre ball player, this fella thinks he is someone. His ego does not match his output, he has considerably out-punted his coverage. He used to send us extravagant stories as to how he led the Spanish baseball league in all sorts of stats, but when we looked into it, he hadn't played in the actual league, instead was splashing around in some Mickey Mouse, glorified pick-up games. He would constantly yack on about his skills and, if things didn't go his way, he would just change teams. He changed squads twice in Ireland before joining my team, and I believe has changed squads twice since sending this nuclear fart of an email below. If my math is correct, and I think it is, he's played for 5 Irish baseball teams.

Yeah, that guy.

This guy is actually relatively popular amongst his peers, however those that have read his hilarious emails down the years, and listened to his bizarrely narcissistic and exaggerated stories of self-success on the diamond, know that he's a simple blow-hard and a terrible team-mate who will stab you in the back quicker than you can say 'Douche Bag' if things aren't going his way.

What led to this hilariously inept email below?

This guy played every game when available over a couple of years, and was slotted in to various positions on the field, despite a an anemic batting average. An enjoyable side-note, when faced with his pathetic statistics, he actually accused one of the team co-captains, one of the most honorable and responsible men I have ever met, of 'cooking the books' to make him look bad.  That's the kind of deluded clown we're dealing with here. The team did all it could to make him happy, and he certainly wasn't lacking playing time. So why the anger? For one, he was behind me in the team's pitching rotation, and as you can see below he singles me out for a couple of choice stabs in the back. A couple of weeks prior to this email I had a back and forth with him about caring for his injury over email, and I always tried to support him as a team-mate. As you'll see, apparently that wasn't enough for this guy.

Let's cut to the chase, shall we.

The email in full, for your absolute entertainment. Unedited save for a couple of added, contextual comments and redacting names to protect the innocent and indeed the moronic. Spelling mistakes left as is, again, for your pure unadulterated enjoyment (bear in mind this was written by an adult male, not by some kind of exceptional chimpanzee that recently, with the help of scientists, 'mastered' the English language).

Enjoy, in all its glory.

Hey [Redacted team co-captain] and [Redacted team co-captain], 

Decided to boycott your team man,after long deliberation with my freinds,familly and colleagues about how things have been handled on the team,ive decided im not happy playin for you,being benched is just completetly embarrasing for one [Editors note - bear in mind he wasn't benched, he got to bat, he just wasn't pitching],put in in the 5th to let dry loosing big time cause mac is shit [Editors note - Love this bit! 'Mac is shit'. Whilst no Pedro Martinez, I think my 158 wins in the league, with a 10-1 season coming the year after this email, speaks for itself] is just not exeptable [Editors note - nothing should ever be 'exeptable', guy!], you should of benched his ass after the 2nd,dont care what you say anymore,you always make false promises,but at the end you will always have your guys play cause its your team, I have rested for 1 month after playing in barca to recuperate, i wouldnt come to the field if i wasnt fit to play,and you bench me ( I had work that day for money [Editors note - this as opposed to the days where he had to work for bananas] but cancelled to come play ) ? Plus your going to say its to keep me fit for the Spartans for the play offs, i dont beleive your lies anymore, i know for a fact Mac will pitch all the way even if the spartans are kiking his ass [Editors note - I love it when someone is 'Kiking' my ass] you will leave him in the hopes that we will get runs back, i havnt been happy playin for you at all,always bullshit and drama to deal wit [Editors note - this within the single biggest bullshit, dramatic email I have seen in club baseball]. So thats it for me, ive been part of the canes for 5 years now, I wont be playin for you anymore. Period. Ive had great times but more bad times.

I dont even beleive you wil play me against Spartans in the play offs, its all bullshit  [Editors note - he likes that word!] for Mac to get his award for best pitcher [Editors note - I did, thank you, and two more after that also.] but in my opignion [Editors note - everyone's got an 'opignion' these days!!] he is not the best pitcher in the league and should not be a starting pitcher,his time is up [Editors note - the guy was almost correct here, I only pitched another 4 years after this was sent] ,everybody in the league knows it,all the national team laugh about him and say it,its a joke. I guess being benched was the last straw for me, you handled me completely wrong.
I have told you many times, I take baseball very serisiouly [Editors note - if you're not taking things serisiouly, well, there's no hope for you!] . Good luck with your team and cant wait to see Mac do it all by himself next year like he wants, I will not clean up shit for anyone expect myself [Editors note - well, at least we know he has sanitary bathroom habits] 

Thanks again for the years playing with the canes [Editors note - worst thank you, ever?] 

Your a good guy [Redacted team co-captain] , i mean that but for me personally, thats it. Look forward facing you next year.

Monday, July 04, 2016

In Response To The Irish Times Article On American Sports

Dear Sir,

I was very disappointed to see column inches dedicated to the erroneous and indeed lazy article by Brian O’Connor on American sports. Normally in the journalistic World, ignorance of a subject precludes writers from tackling same, Mr. O’Connor seems to wear that same ignorance of American sports like a badge of honour.

His article is wildly inaccurate on a number of levels, and is actually quite offensive in parts.
He appears to be making an odd case that American sports are not popular in the rest of the World, and offers a few glib remarks to back this up, but very little of actual substance. Indeed, he takes a quick swipe at baseball and yet doesn’t actually tackle the game in the body of his content. It’s as if he awoke, saw news of Fourth of July celebrations and snidely thought, ‘Screw them, their sports are crap!’.

From an Irish perspective I have to wonder if Mr. O’Connor knows anything about sports in Ireland outside of a seemingly very narrow understanding on his part. Basketball is absolutely enormous across Ireland, and indeed Irish keeper Darren Randolph’s father, Ed, is a legend in Irish basketball circles. The game is played in schools and clubs all over the country and has enjoyed several years of huge success as it makes it mark as one of the bigger sports outside of the biggest players such as soccer, GAA and rugby.

Mr. O’Connor’s poorly argued article would fall down on the topic of basketball alone, however he is also hugely incorrect when it comes to American Football and indeed baseball too.

American Football has been growing steadily in Ireland since the 1980s and is home to a vibrant league, the IAFL, with thousands of registered members both North and South of the border. One of the joys of the sport in Ireland is that it is played by teams North and South, fostering sporting ties in broad communities. It is one of the biggest ‘minority’ sports in Ireland, and its thousands of members should be greatly offended by Mr. O’Connor’s lazy article (in which he actually goes out of his way to offend those very people in a bizarrely arrogant sentence).

Baseball is smaller in terms of membership and yet ironically better placed internationally than its footballing brothers. The Irish National baseball team has taken part in European Championship tournaments since 1996 and has achieved medals and notable scalps along the way. We’ve beaten several big European teams (Austria, Belgium, Finland and England, twice, on their home patch, to name but a few) and have achieved bronze and silver medals at European tournaments in ’04 and ’06. The team is growing as is the sport in Ireland. The Irish Baseball League contains teams from literally every corner of Ireland, again North and South, and is developing and growing annually.
Both football and baseball have huge followings all through Europe. As a member of the Irish baseball team from ’96 to ’06, I had the huge privilege to travel the World in an Irish jersey, and I can tell you, there are some beautiful baseball facilities all over Europe, in places as disparate as Karlovac Croatia, Prague, Hull, Vienna, Stockholm, Croydon, Regensburg Germany and Antwerp. Baseball is absolutely enormous in France, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands in particular.

Mr. O’Connor’s article is wrong on both sides of the Atlantic. In his shopping list of sporting clichés, he appears to copy and paste in the old refrain that soccer, football, isn’t big in America. I would openly wonder has Mr. O’Connor bothered studying the game in the USA lately, as it’s absolutely huge at this point. Huge at all levels. Soccer is pushing the established sports at school, college and professional level all across the States. Seattle, where I am now and for example, has some of the most incredible soccer facilities I have ever seen, with literally thousands of players playing in hundreds of games in tens of leagues on a weekly basis. There is soccer everywhere you look here, and for Mr. O’Connor to write the Beautiful Game’s place in America off so lazily is nothing short of pathetic.

One last glaring part of Mr. O’Connor’s article was his misguided and also hypocritical analysis of American sports as ‘static’. First, to call basketball static would suggest the writer has never watched a second of sports in his or her life. That’s just awful. Second, if that gentleman had ever tried understanding either baseball and or football, he would understand the physical demands, skill and commitment required to play those sports well. He might then also understand the passages of play in those sports. Further to this, if he wasn’t just having a bitter, disinterested pop at Americana, he might have realized he was being super hypocritical in labelling any sport static considering he appears to be a fan of Rugby Union. Much as I love that particular sport, have you been watching the deterioration of the scrum in the last decade? Yeah, static? Really?

I find it very worrying that your paper prints and article by a writer who clearly hasn’t researched his piece at all, and is instead left to jot down a few lazy personal opinions about American Sports.
Everyone in entitled to their opinions, of course. However, a paid journalist shouldn’t take so much glee in being so wildly inaccurate in his clearly personal ramblings. One would think that the title ‘Sports Journalist’ would come with a basic understanding of a wide variety of sports, not just breathless fan-boy drooling over rugby, framed by a lazy, arrogant dismissiveness of sports one doesn’t understand.

Yours in sports,
The Irish National Baseball team in historic Fenway Park, August 2001

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The NBA Finals, Fixed? Kind Of.

Look, I know, there’s nothing worse than a bad conspiracy theory. For example, I know of actual real human beings who think that the United States Federal Government actually want to ‘take away’ all the guns, and their 2nd amendment rights with them. Think about that for a second, what would President Obama do, start driving around in a pickup and collect them all? It’s beyond asinine. Anyway, you probably know a few sloppy conspiracy theories yourself. You definitely have a friend or two that are into them, I know I do.

However! These NBA Finals, am I right?  I’m not saying they are fixed to a particular outcome, but I think it is perfectly reasonable to hypothesize that the league is trying to extend to a six or seven game series.

Why? That should be blatantly obvious, money. Imagine the difference in overall dollar revenue for the NBA between a four game sweep and a dramatic seven game series. A game seven alone must be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue alone to the NBA. It is absolutely in their interest to ensure this series doesn’t slink off into the off-season off the back of a four to five game affair.

Imagine how easy it would be for the NBA to quietly instruct its referees to achieve this? So easy. Just over-officiate the home games in favor of the home teams, and very few will notice. The vocal home crowds will be baying for the calls anyway, and the TV audience doesn’t really get a say, apart from some fart like noises on the social networks.

We’re seeing exactly that in these finals, the zebras officiating heavily in favor of the home teams, and, I write this as someone who’s rooting for the Warriors and Curry.

Games one and two, LeBron and the Cavs were not only beaten to a pulp by Golden State, they were smothered heavily by the men in charge. Watching Twitter react to LeBron repeatedly being called for travelling was a treat. Watching LeBron react to being continuously called for travelling was the cherry on top. LeBron doesn’t get called for travelling, be it 5 steps or the 7 steps he was taking in games one and two. It wasn’t just that, everything even close to a 50/50 went Golden State’s way.
Then last night, in Cleveland, the mirror opposite happened. Curry, Thompson and crew couldn’t buy a call. The horrific moving pick that Mosgov set on Thompson should have been investigated by Cleveland Homicide, it was that bad, yet amazingly the zebras kept their whistles quiet. The entire game they called anything close in Cleveland’s favor.

Keep an eye on this on Friday during game four. If a lot of calls seem to go Cleveland’s way, well, don’t say I didn’t tell ya!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Would The Top DiCaprio Movies Be Better As Matt Damon Movies?

Say what you want about former ESPN writer Bill Simmons, but, he’s not afraid to make pretty outlandish claims. In a press release to highlight his forthcoming HBO series, Simmons said that, and I quote;

''I believe every DiCaprio movie would be just a little better as a Matt Damon movie.''

That’s a pretty astonishing comment right there, and for many, a little too crazy to even give pause for thought. I however have always enjoyed all three elements of this sentence. He's not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm still a Simmons fan. He's still an entertaining read. DiCaprio and Damon are two of my favorite actors, both definitely top 5, with ease. Therefore, Simmons’s seemingly bonkers suggestion still made me think, ‘Could he be right? Could the movies of Leonardo DiCaprio be better with Matt Damon in the leading role instead?

Well, let’s take DiCaprio’s ten biggest movies and find out! Naturally we’ll then flip it over and partake in the same exercise but with DiCaprio in Damon’s place, but for now, let’s focus on the DiCaprio question.

To the movies!

Number 10 – The Aviator

We’re off to a good start! The Aviator is a movie that you could conceivably argue might be better with Matt Damon in the lead role, instead of wily old Leo DiCaprio. This is by no means a slight in any shape or form on DiCaprio’s at times majestic performance, it’s more of a knock on us, the audience. The Aviator is loved by critics and put forth as a sample of DiCaprio’s greatest work. The audience, by and large, liked it, but didn’t love it. It’s a sweeping epic with great attention to period detail, and sometimes that just doesn’t resonate so well with the average cinema goer. What does Damon bring to a movie? One major element is a kind of lighthearted, guy next door ‘feel’ that in turn lightens the movie a little. The Aviator could have lightened up a little with Damon in the lead role. Again, I’m being careful here as DiCaprio was superb, but for the sake of this overall argument, let’s give this one to Damon on the basis he would have brought some levity to the project.

1-0 Matt Damon.

Number 9 – The Wolf Of Wall Street

Wumph. That’s the sound of Simmons’s hypothesis splatting into the ground from up on high. DiCaprio completely owned this role, and turned it into seventy billion memes that we can never un-see. DiCaprio very much made The Wolf his own, and it is unimaginable to place any other actor at all in this role.

1-1 tied.

Number 8 - Shutter Island

Wait, what? Shutter Island is DiCaprio’s eighth highest grossing movie? Seriously? Yes, it’s true. Hard to believe, indeed, but true. To understand that you just have to know that Shutter was Leo’s second highest grossing opening movie ever, yes, ahead of Titanic and just behind Inception. I think it’s safe to say there was not much going on the weekend Shutter opened, otherwise there’s no way to understand a $41 million opening box office for such a movie. Shutter is entirely joyless. It’s technically brilliant, and quite chilling, but there isn’t a single element of joyful type entertainment to be had within. Again I had to double check in astonishment that this was DiCaprio’s eighth highest all time box office entry. You can probably see where this is going. Damn right Damon might have had some impact towards the positive if magically placed in DiCaprio’s place herein. There’s no reason to say he couldn’t improve a little on the role, and perhaps bring a bit of toothy charm to the lead role. He would definitely have played the shock and surprise as it all unraveled. That’s something he does well. Let’s move on, but let’s all agree, Damon could have done something positive here.

2-1 Damon.

Number 7 – The Departed

Boom! That’s right, Damon as Billy Costigan, DiCaprio as Colin Sullivan. I am going to go ahead and call this one a potential win for Damon straight off the bat. There’s no doubt at all Damon could have pulled off Billy Costigan’s tormented good-guy. Imagine the look of shock on his face as Mark Wahlberg tore into him in Martin Sheen’s office? You would entirely believe Damon as Costigan, a conflicted good-guy undercover, trying to do right, while trying to prove to the bad guys he belonged. On the flip side, you could equally argue DiCaprio would have absolutely torn into the role of Colin Sullivan, and might have brought some extra menace to that character. That I believe is called a win-win situation. In this context, that’s another win for Damon.

3-1 Damon.

Number 6 – The Great Gatsby

There’s a moment in Gatsby where DiCaprio mutters ‘This, this is a terrible mistake’. Well, the critics agreed, and box office aside, Gatsby is viewed as something whilst not completely in the flop category, definitely in that general area. By very definition therefore, Damon might have done something positive here. You can’t argue with that considering the critical panning this flick got. There’s no reason to say Damon might not have put on the tux and brought something extra to Gatsby, elevating it higher than it’s very low current critical rating. Simmons is starting to look like he might have been on to something.

4-1 Damon.

Number 5 – Django Unchained

In short, no. Damon could not have bettered DiCaprio when it comes to Calvin Candie. There’s no argument to be made here, at all. DiCaprio in a landslide.

4-2 Damon

Number 4 – Catch Me If You Can

Central to the success of the brilliant, entertaining and most of all, heart wrenching, Catch Me is the relationship between Tom Hanks and DiCaprio. It matters. It just matters that Hanks both wants to capture DiCaprio and ‘fix’ him. The father figure like status Hanks has over DiCaprio in Catch Me is what makes it such a vital movie, it’s what gives it it’s pulse. Whilst Damon and Hanks could easily cook up some chemistry, as evidenced so easily in Saving Private Ryan, you’d have to go out on a very lengthy limb to suggest it would ultimately better the work that DiCaprio and Hanks did here. Sometimes you just can’t improve on something so fundamentally good.

4-3 Damon

Number 3 – The Revenant

Just, no. No. Not happening. Sure, Damon might have got a few more laughs out of the up-to-that-point terrified audience, but let’s face it, The Revenant is not about laughing or levity in any shape or form. The Revenant is a slap in the face of a movie, and DiCaprio nailed it. The bear incident, the horse incident, the overall struggle, no way in any shape or form Damon improves on DiCaprio’s Oscar winning outing. Looks like it’s going to be a tight finish, for Simmons’ hypothesis.

4-4 tie.

Number 2 – Inception

What did DiCaprio bring to Inception? He exuded this edgy, sweaty, vital tension to the role, pushing and driving to find his way home whilst literally haunted by ghosts and dreams, and indeed dreams of ghosts. It’s a psychologically gifted performance that’s as brilliant as it is unnerving. Damon in that role? Even the biggest Damon fan can’t go there with any authority. Sure, you might have rooted for Dom Cobb a little harder with Damon playing him, but that would have defeated the purpose. DiCaprio’s incarnation was always on the edge, both in the movie and for the audience. Damon in that role? Simply not the same.

5-4 DiCaprio takes a late lead.

Number 1 – Titanic

Ugh. I wonder if, when his God or his Gods come calling, as he passes away peacefully and happily amongst his family and friends, will Leo DiCaprio think to himself ‘I can’t frickin’ believe that was my most popular movie’? Perhaps he embraces it fully, but once you strip everything away, Titanic is a pretty basic movie about a big disaster. Take the big ass sinking ship out of the equation, and you have a pretty vanilla love story. I like Damon as a romantic. He does it well in The Adjustment Bureau with Emily Blunt, and I would suggest Damon could do something different with Jack and add a thing or two here and there to the character. There’s no reason to think this would be beyond his capability, particularly when it’s such a fundamentally threadbare movie.

5-5. A tie.

In summary, does this 5-5 tie come anywhere close to proving Simmons’ somewhat outrageous comment? Not really, no. Not really, for two reasons. First, Damon only barely got the nod for most of his 5 wins. DiCaprio absolutely annihilated the suggestion with most of his 5 wins. For example, going back to The Wolf, there’s no way Damon improves on that performance, in any imaginary scenario possible. So, the 5-5 tie is at best a precarious position for Damon.

The second reason? Simmons’ original hypothesis can only be fully fleshed out be visiting the same topic upon Damon’s movies. Could DiCaprio have made Damon’s top 10 movies ‘better’?

Stay tuned, we’ll find out together.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sunderland Pull Off Great Escape Version 4.0

It has been an astonishing comeback by Sunderland. I am in the top 5% optimistic people in the World but even I had resigned myself to Sunderland playing in relative anonymity in the Championship next year, and subsequently missing out on next season’s 100 million euro EPL extra payment bonanza.

Kone blasts home from close in to push Sunderland 2-0 up

The beautiful part of the Great Escape Version 4.0 was that it was done in style. Just a few tweaks, and Sunderland are suddenly a decent side again. A feisty, savvy and contextually aware manager in Big Sam. Four or five well judged signings and, everyone buying into the plan together. Manager, players and fans. The way the fans and players bought collectively into this was really uplifting and enjoyable.

Defoe gets all the attention with his incredibly clutch goals, but Kone, Khazri, Kirschoff and indeed Borini were all crucial to the Great Escape, and all look right at home in Sunderland.
Khazri is literally exactly the type of player Sunderland have been crying out for, for seemingly years and years. A playmaker, who can also score goals himself. An added bonus, he likes a tackle! Perfect for the North East.

Two other players in particular deserve a big shout out, first Vito Mannone, who has his reward with a call up to the Italian Euro Championship squad. Mannone was nothing short of superb these last 2 months, and it’s great to see the big man get his dues after patiently working hard in training and waiting for his chance. A big shout out also to DeAndre Yedlin, who has gone from looking lost in January, to being a huge, impact player by May. Once again the future looks bright for that young man.

You could see this escape coming in the last few weeks, as the crowd got more and more behind the players, who responded in kind with better and better outings.

The Great Escape version 4.0 was epitomized, to me, by a simple moment in the Chelsea game. With Sunderland up 3-2 and trying to play out the last 10 minutes, Borini chased down a Chelsea defender in possession, waving his arms to get the crowd loud again. They responded with a massive roar and Sunderland, led by the literally heroic Lee Cattemole, tore into Chelsea for the final ten like their lives depended on it.

Without totally losing my mind I want to suggest that Sunderland stayed up because a group of very well paid young man forgot their egos and wages for a moment and tapped into the incredible energy created by the massive, throbbing, roaring crowds at The Stadium Of Light, and played like their lives depended on it.

That, in this day of mercenary players and million dollar contracts, is pretty fucking cool.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Leicester City Cheated

Just so we’re all clear about this, Leicester City cheated to win the Premier League. 

''Think anybody will notice?''

It’s not up for debate either. In full context it’s glaringly obvious what they did. What’s not clear is why only a couple of publications are tackling this. I suspect it’s due to threats of litigation. 

However, yes, Leicester achieved Premier League glory by cheating. What level of cheating are we talking about here?

In short, Leicester are paying their group of players much more than they are bringing in as legitimate revenue. They are hiding this fact behind fake loans, fake sponsorship of advertising space they have already sold and other financial theatricality and deception. 

Again, none of this is up for debate. They aren’t even denying it. These are facts. 

Let this sink in for a second. Leicester flat out cheated to win the league, and basically no one, or at least very few people,  are calling them to task for this.

Digging a little deeper to illustrate, the Foxes shirts are sponsored by their owner's company (don’t you love where this is going already?!), but of course not directly. Instead, that company buys the sponsorship through a marketing company, with the end effect being increasing Leicester's sponsorship income significantly. The point of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules are that clubs should not be spending money they are not actually earning or creating themselves. The wheeling and dealing with the sponsorship alone increased Leicester's sponsorship revenues from £5.2 million to £16 million. This money directly built their current squad. 

All of this information is freely available in the public domain. There is nothing convoluted or tweaked to make Leicester look bad. This is what they did, they cheated the game in order to build a squad which could win the Premier League. Sure, they then went out and did the harder part, actually winning the thing, but they flat out cheated to put themselves in position to do same.

The Guardian had covered this extensively in this article however they, nor anyone else, has brought out much on this lately. Again, I would highly suspect this is due to the threat of litigation. Perhaps we’ll see more in the coming weeks, but for now, it is what it is.

The natural reaction to this is 'Well, everyone is doing it', and that's just false. The Premier League is in flux right now, open up to clubs like Leicester winning it, because of the very fact the clubs are adhering to FPP. With the exception of Leicester. Arsenal are a great example of a well run club that only spends what they legitimately bring in. Arsenal could easily manufacture the cash to bring in a couple more players to push them over the edge. However, they don't, and it comes back to bite them when their own fans turn on them. 

Personally I was brought up to root for the Under Dog, and I will do so most of the time. Not, however, when that dog cheats to win its prize. 

Leicester City cheated to win the Premier League.

Monday, April 25, 2016

On Brady, The NFL And Reaching A Tipping Point

Deflategate, am I right? You know, this has been building and building, and this, to me, could be the tipping point for the NFL and I. I have a strong feeling I am not alone in that sentiment. The simple question is, what’s the point, at this stage? The NFL has really become the theater of the absurd.

Where to start?

Greg Hardy walks free, free to play sports and make inappropriate jokes about other player’s wives. Peyton Manning has his two potentially serious alleged transgressions wiped under the carpet faster than you can say ‘Protect Pappa John’s meal-ticket’. Roger Goodell earns $40 million a year doing, well, what, exactly?

It's not just the tangible elements that outrage, it’s the overall context that the NFL is forcing on its fan-base at this point. They appear to be saying;

‘’Hey, NFL fan, look we’re building an enormous, billion zillion dollar empire and what we’d really like you to do, as a pawn in all of this, is root passionately for your team, sure, that’s a given, but most of all, can you empty your wallets for us? And, we mean, really empty those wallets. We want you to soak up every little thing we throw at you, and when we’re done, we’ll color it pink and ask you to buy it again. We’re going to allow several really nasty people to play in this sport, by the way, but don’t worry about that, they still produce a lot of cash so we know you’re going to be on board. Along the way we might punish a few guys completely disproportionately however you’ll understand, we can’t have anyone potentially unmasking this venture for what it is. A gigantic money grab with no soul anymore.’’

So now we’re supposed to be OK with the NFL banning a player for 4 games for allegedly knowing some other guys let a bit of air out of a ball, despite the fact Aaron Rodgers and the smaller, squeakier Manning have openly admitted to doing same and not being punished for it.

We’re supposed to be OK with this despite the fact this is clearly not about the incident and more about the power struggle around it?

I’m not OK with this, and the worst part for me, after being all fired up about this last season, this time round, I don’t even care. Have it your way, NFL, let the misogynists, women beaters and HGH cheaters play. Ban the guys who work their butts off and do incredible things in their community. Yeah, that makes sense, NFL. Let’s go with that.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Boo! The Negativity Around Red Sox Opening Day

I dropped about six followers on Twitter these last few days (probably another six or seven after this!), and looking at them I understand immediately why. I am an outspoken defender of Pablo Sandoval, and to a lesser extent, Hanley Ramirez too. I find their treatment among a large, angry, disrespectful and noisy group of Red Sox fans on the social networks to be at best ugly, at worst, disgusting. Yes, everyone loves a bit or sarcastic humor, sure. But, the sheer level of vitriol leveled at Sandoval and also Ramirez is, at this point, nauseating.

It really doesn’t matter who the players are involved here. My concern, for the psychological well-being of the people involved is, what on earth are you doing loudly booing a home team player on opening day? If you saw the footage of the Red Sox players being introduced to the home team crowd today, what stood out was a negative aspect. What stood out was thousands of buffoons booing Pablo Sandoval. A Red Sox player, a home team player.

Now, if a player was guilty of something bad, I would understand to some extent. Harming another human, cheating at his sport, something along those lines, sure, knock yourself out, boo away to your little heart’s content. But Sandoval is guilty of nothing of the sort. He’s a bit overweight, and he isn’t performing to the levels we would expect for a player on his salary.  That’s the crux of it. If you are a Red Sox fan, one would assume you want your team to do well. Part of that would surely be supporting players in a slump to do better, right? Is booing going to fix anything? Is your ugly, negative projection on to this player going to do anything positive at all?

I have so many questions for these people, those who stand up at a home opener and lustily boo a home town player.

What’s wrong in your life that you have to boo loudly a home player on opening day?  I hate to go there but, are you taking your own over-eating and weight issues out on someone who is earning more than you, but suffering the same issues physically? That’s one thing I’d like to ask some of the overweight people I saw on twitter, Facebook and also from the feed of the home opener, booing Sandoval. Sure, you’re not paid millions, and I am guessing that’s at least of part of where your anger comes from, but really I am curious, what do you think the Booing is going to achieve?

Of course, it’s never going to end. Some lurk is always going to boo. It happens everywhere, in every sport. It is undeniably louder than it used be, however. This angry, negative behavior is a snapshot of our current state of society, where someone as ugly as Trump can come to the fore, riding a wave of tangible anger right to the top.

Make no mistake, fellow Boston fans, supporters of other teams are watching us and mocking us for this behavior. It’s getting louder and louder, and, it’s a really ugly look for a fan-base. 

Ireland Croatia

Ireland Croatia
The Irish Team in Croatia 2000

Heroes and villains on Fox Sports

Heroes and villains on Fox Sports

'I didn't know..' gets a mention on Fox Sports


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