Tag Archives: ESPN

Where have all the sportswriters gone?

Can we play the Nationals every day? That would be nice. Stealing home was Werth it this week. I love it when bunts lead to two runs, including the go-ahead late. Be sure to check out a Philadelphia Union soccer game this year – I expect them to have a striker-heavy attack. Why does Roger Clemens continue the charade? W.C. Heinz, Red Smith, Granny, where have you gone?

Very interesting post over at Iggles Blog yesterday, all stemming from a Gary Cartwright piece in Texas Monthly about the decline of sportswriting in the Big state. Pretty good conversation in the comments, the gist of which I will paraphrase now.

Most people agree with the sentiment that the form has lost its creative luster…we have so many forms of media with which to get our information that the newspapers simply carry less water now…the good ol’ days of sportswriting are dead because society as a whole is faster and 3000-word profiles make Generation ADD’ers go cross-eyed…we already know so much about the event and the athletes and the behind-the-scenes that we aren’t all that taken by it anymore…blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Seems to me as though we’re not having this conversation if sportswriting hasn’t in fact gotten stale.

As a means for raw data, that isn’t the case. You want stats, you can get stats friggin’ everywhere. Ever been to titforstat.com? Probably not, because it doesn’t exist. But it should. The newspapers are chock full of analysis and meaning; problem is, the Internet has that, too. Your grandma likely has a blog analyzing her favorite sport, and your grandpa is surely breaking down YouTube film. Might be less intelligent then what the sportswriters offer, but it is out there, and it is certainly taking some of the focus off of the beat guys. You can get the man-behind-the-player info from the newspaper, but not exclusively. Sportscenter is slowly turning into Access Hollywood, PFT.com dabbles in National Enquirer fare on occasion, and athletes NitTwitter about their feelings during games.

It’s information blitzkrieg, and there is a laser dot between your eyes. Take cover. Continue reading

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The Pundit’s Power Rankings: Plaxico shoots up the list!

Unlike traditional Power Rankings, which attempt to rank teams on a week-to-week basis, the Pundit’s Power Rankings avoid such arbitrary silliness. Instead, The Pundit wishes only to rank the pertinence, scope, and conversational value of the top sports stories of the week. Extra points for any stories that lend themselves to relentless mockery and high-horse rhetoric. On to the Rankings!

1. Plaxico Burress shoots himself in thigh

A true run-and-shoot offense. Well, shoot and run, I suppose. And I’m not sure if I’d be running after I had shot myself in the thigh. Whatever. I feel as though we need to go over the details of this one more time: Plaxico Burress shoots himself in the thigh after stuffing his handgun, which didn’t have a safety, into his sweatpants while hanging out at a club. A handgun he didn’t have a permit for in New York, a city notoriously strict on illegal possession of firearms. And not only do the Giants lose their best receiver, but one of their top linebackers, Antonio Pierce, might be in some trouble as well. This story speaks for itself.

2. The Juice is no longer on the loose

At this point, anything I say would just be piling on. And that’s what, a 15-year penalty?

3. Sean Avery’s sloppy seconds

Hard to believe he got a six-game suspension for what he said. Classy? Hell no. But worth a six-game suspension? Hardly. Seems to me like the NHL was looking for a reason to crack down on what they felt to be one of their more unsavory characters, and they got their money’s worth. Quick question: on a sloppy-second score, is Avery credited with an assist?

4. NFL players take substance to mask steroids, suspensions suspended

Anybody else think it’s a bit fishy that the Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson, of Minnesota, was the judge who temporarily delayed the suspensions of the 5 players accused of using diuretics to mask steroids? Which, of course, led to a federal judge blocking the suspensions until a further investigation into the matter could take place. Would Judge Larson have taken such a vested interest in the manner if the Williams Wall, and the Vikings playoff hopes, weren’t in jeopardy? I have no idea, but I love a conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, so I’m going to go the paranoid route. Which is why I’m almost positive that Matt Cassel has been taking injections of Tom Brady’s DNA, Tony Sparano is actually Tony Soprano and is involved in a massive point-shaving operation, explaining the Dolphins sudden success, and somebody suddenly changed the overtime rules without telling anyone in week 11, confusing Donovan McNabb and, apparently, a huge contingent of NFL players. Oh, and Plaxico Burress didn’t shoot himself in the thigh – there was another shooter up on the grassy knoll, maaan…

5. Charlie Weis’ future in question

Let’s do some math, ok? Alright, here’s a problem to start with: Unlimited resources + a multitude of highly touted recruits + a lucrative television contract + a huge contract for your head coach + the past four years = 28-21 record and two losses in the Fiesta Bowl. Oh, and the two losses in the Fiesta Bowl were with players almost exclusively recruited by Tyrone Willingham. I despise Notre Dame and their College Football politicking, so seeing them fail doesn’t bother me much – I say, let Charlie work it out. Heh…

(And now, for a commercial break. This has nothing to do with this post at all, but I just saw this TV, and it absolutely cracked me up – they were offering commemorative Barack Obama half-dollars. I mean, seriously? What’s next, the Collector’s Edition Obama Oreo Tin?)

6. Oklahoma or Texas? The BCS again reveals its flaws

Though, after watching Oklahoma absolutely toy with Missouri during four lopsided quarters, its hard to argue that Oklahoma doesn’t deserve to be where they are right now. I mean, if you’re a college football fan, the Oklahoma vs. Florida match-up has to be getting you pretty pumped up.  Plus, Penn State vs. USC, and Texas, Alabama, Utah and Ohio State pairing off should actually make for a decent bowl season. Still, even though I supported Oklahoma being the Big-12 South champion, I can’t help but feel as though Texas got absolutely screwed. Hey, at least ESPN now has the broadcasting rights to the BCS after Fox’s contract runs up – now we’ll get years of the Gameday Crew touting the wonders of the BCS. Hooray!

7. Arbitration, Free Agency in MLB

None of the major moves have happened to this point, so much of this story has simply been speculation. Player X is going here, player Y is going there, Scott Boras is a huge piece of shit, etc. etc. Well, except for that last part – that’s just true. Once Manny and CC are signed, sealed and delivered, the rest will fall like dominoes. As for me, I’d like to see Derek Lowe end up in Philly, as well as a second to third-tier outfielder. What I think will happen?  Jamie Moyer will be back, and we’ll still get a second to third-tier outfielder. Though I have a feeling that Mr. Amaro is going to want to make a splash in his first offseason…

That’s it for this week’s Pundit Power Rankings – be sure to check in tomorrow for some postgame Eagles reactions.

E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!

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The push to the MLB playoffs: the tale of one city, and the fail of another

I. Philadelphia

Watching the Phillies tonight, I observed in myself a strange phenomenon. (Editor’s note: He wasn’t wearing any pants). I wasn’t concerned. I wasn’t flipping my shit that they were losing 10-4. It wasn’t bothering me that they were about to drop two against the Braves and lose the series. I was watching the entire game in an almost zen-like state, as though there was little in the outside world that was going to shake my unwavering belief that the Phillies were still going to make the playoffs.

This worried me.

This isn’t a Philadelphia attitude. Now, I don’t want to pigeonhole every Philadelphia fan into one attitude – that’s far too simplistic. But I don’t think you can deny that a large population of Philly fans watch every game with a certain amount of tension and doubt; countless failures will do that to a fan base. And truthfully, I have always felt that Philadelphia teams played at their best when they were left for dead and had to play catch-up, especially the Phillies. It was as though they themselves were motivated by the very tension that regularly adds years to the lives of Philly fans.

Some may say that this is a sign of inexperience, and that may be true. In Philly, we call it character. (Editor’s note: And anybody that says otherwise is a frickin’ schmuck, ya know whadda mean?) We’re not used to being the front runner, no matter what J-Roll says. Had I, after the Phillies swept the Brewers and started their hot streak, suddenly been lulled into a false sense of security?

And, more alarming then this, had the Phillies themselves done the same thing? Had they lost their urgency?

This didn’t seem right. I still worry about every game the Phillies play. I don’t take any NL East teams lightly, and I’m certainly worried about the pesky Nationals. I dreaded seeing the Marlins, and though I believed the Phillies would play better against the Braves, I knew they were no joke. So I hadn’t somehow developed the idea that the Phillies, of their own volition, were guaranteed to make the playoffs. Something else was keeping me cool and relaxed.

I didn’t realize what it was until I flipped to ESPN after the Phillies game.

II. New York

I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of the Mets-Cubs game. All I really need to illustrate my point is the bottom of the ninth inning, game tied at six. David Murphy had led off the inning with a triple, and the Mets seemed destined to take the game and slide 1/2 game behind the Phillies. A sacrifice fly or a well-placed hit would score the winning run. And they couldn’t do it. David Wright, in my opinion the Mets best player, and one of the best all-around players in baseball, struck out. After two intentional walks, the Mets only managed a grounder to second for a force at the plate, and another strike-out. The Cubs scored three in the next inning, and won the game.

And suddenly, it hit me – my feeling of zen was completely derived from my complete lack of faith in the Mets ability to win a big game. After Aramis Ramirez hit his two-run homer to extend the lead to 9-6 in the top of the 10th, I literally laughed out loud. (Editor’s note: Lucy, grab the haloperidol, pronto). Not in a mocking sort of way, but more like how you laugh when you have an epiphany and suddenly everything seems right with the world again.

And you know, for the briefest of moments, I truly felt for Mets fans. I know that sinking feeling they have in their gut; that feeling was a fairly regular part of my adolescence supporting Philadelphia teams. Yet this feeling was quickly replaced by a far more sinister realization – I enjoyed watching the Mets blow this game almost as much as I do watching the Phillies win one. Maybe that’s unsportsmanlike, I don’t know, but its also the nature of rivalries, and this has certainly become one.

III. Conclusion

So, in thinking about this, I have decided that I would like to take Mr. Met out to the bars and buy him exactly two beers. Beer one – the “I’m sorry this happened to you” beer. I recognize the plethora of unrecognized potential in the Mets, and how this often leads them toward a spiral of heart-wrenching failure. Cheer up, Mr. Met – someday, somewhere over the rainbow, they may figure it out.

But beer two is an “I appreciate you” beer. You may be trapped in a whirlwind of your own underachievement, but thanks for being such a good friend. When I need something, like a loss that keeps you a game back of the Phillies in the loss column and ties you in the wildcard standings with the Brewers, you always come through. You’re a good friend, Mr. Met, and I drink to you.

Fear the Nationals, Phillies fans. But thank God for the Mets.

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