Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In which water freezes over in the South

Did you guys know that Nashville has a hockey team? They are called the "Predators," which apparently is this:

Which looks like a cross between a saber-toothed tiger and a wolf, if you blunted its teeth so it wouldn't bust free and kill everyone in the crowd.

Anyway, I went to my first Predators game last night (vs. the Wild, of course), and Nashville fans are... what is the nice word?... obnoxious. Now, I've been to Chicago Cubs games, and so I know that the logical opposite extreme to obnoxiousness is flirting and not paying attention to the game, and I absolutely prefer the obnoxious end of that spectrum. And also, attending hockey in the South I kind of expected that the stadium would be empty and the few people attending would laze about and not really understand what was going on. So, the first time there was a seemingly spontaneous cheer of "You suck!" (after the Predators' first goal), I kind of smiled. Then, when they chanted "Theeeeeodore*... Theeeeodore.... Theeeeeeodore! You suck! It's all your fault!" I was a little put off. And when they did the identical chants after every one of the Predators' five goals, I got a little ticked.

Here's my thing about booing. I get that these folks are paid millions of dollars, and they probably should be able to just deal with you chanting their name and yelling mean things at you. Certainly they can handle it better than I would, but I feel like that's not a license to be an asshole. Also, I hear people argue that it's "all part of the game," which I think is just not true.

We cheer and yell and scream when great things happen because we have been entertained, and because it's a visceral response of joy that we share, and that is what is beautiful about sports. And a loud, disappointed noise invariably goes up when the away team scores a goal, or someone misses a catch, or the ball is just short of fair, and that's beautiful too, because it is thousands of people all experiencing disappointment together and letting out a collective sigh for all the beauty they just missed and all the hope that they just lost. But when you take up chants, positive or negative, you're now consciously expressing your emotions and communicating them to your team and to the other fans and to everyone in the stadium. And maybe this is just irretrievably Midwestern of me, but I think you should keep your negative emotions to yourself. I'm sorry that you're upset about your team losing, but you don't have to be a dick about it. Even worse, don't be a sore winner.

* The Wild's backup goalie: Jose Theodore. He did not have a good game.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Debate of the Day

So, while watching ESPN coverage of the Ohio State game and players' apologies for selling their football-related junk or at least exchanging it for tattoos, I was thinking once again about the issue of compensation and college sports. My big issue with the rules about compensation comes from the fact that someone does profit from it: the school sells tickets (which pay for the stadiums and the uniforms and the buses and all that, but in great Division I schools, some of that money is "left over") and jerseys with players' names and other memorabilia. I understand that allowing students to sell their own jerseys, or worse, play the game professionally, is fraught with all kinds of problems. I went to a Division III school with a laughable football team and was actually encouraged to attend by that fact. The last thing I want is for good academic programs to be undermined by kids playing a game. Nor do I want 18 year old kids to abandon their education to focus entirely on a career that has an outside chance (at best) of paying off.

But the fact is, that is already happening. It's a "problem" of our culture that we value sports to this ridiculous degree. We will pay $40 for a ticket to a baseball game and $50 for a jersey and $10 for a popcorn and whatever else. And in the majors, that money translates into massive salaries for players, and no that is not unfair: they are entertaining us and they deserve that portion of our ticket (though it would be pretty great if they'd pay concession workers a living wage and provide health insurance, etc, with all that money swimming around...). As long as we value college sports just as highly, I think that the players should get some portion of that value.

As an English major, I thought of it like this: if I wrote for my college newspaper, and they sold that newspaper at $10 a pop (because this is like the most popular college newspaper ever and apparently has naked lady pictures in it), but I did not get paid, would that be fair? What if then they decided to take the stories I wrote and bind them into a book and sell that at bookstores around the country and I still didn't see a dime? What if there were television shows about my writing and advertisers paid millions to put my name on their products, but I still sat in my dorm room, eating frozen pizzas?

Of course, from this arrangement I get a nice little resume boost, and the fame certainly will help me with publishers, but let's say I'm not allowed to even talk to those publishers until I leave the school newspaper, and those publishers are certainly not allowed to offer me any kind of advance, and in fact I'm not even allowed to write stories on my own time and publish them on the side, because then I'll be ineligible to write for the newspaper and lose my scholarship. And then what if my writing is actually pretty dangerous, because I write about skydiving and fighting in Iraq and my work on the offshore oil rigs, and all those stories get published and make a lot of money for other people and then right before I'm going to graduate and finally cash in on my fame and my resume points, a giant shark attacks me on a story and eats out half my brain and I can never write again. Now, I live out the rest of my life in a nursing home with someone wiping my ass and I can't even get the hot nurse because I have no money, and all the people that profited from my talent just move on to the next big thing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bert Alert!

Bert Blyleven made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame today, on his second to last shot, with 79.7% of the vote (the minimum is 75%), which was a totally awesome birthday present to me, and also made it so I can stop being apoplectic about this podcast Houseboy shared with me last week in which Kevin Goldstein argues that an important consideration for getting into the Hall of Fame should be... "fame." Ok, yeah, it is right in there in the title and all, but I would dare to argue that famous for what should be kind of important, and if he concedes that Bert's stats make him more than worthy (which he does), then the question of how famous he is is inherently subjective. I'm sure there is a significant amount of subjectivity in the voting of a bunch of people who make their money writing about a game and probably ingest more nacho vitamins than can be healthy, but I can tell you as a raised but not born Minnesotan who watches the Twins broadcasts on the Extra Innings package every year, that if he wasn't famous enough then he's certainly famous enough now, and plus there is this:

Anyway, all of that doesn't matter now because he's in and so I'm happy... for now...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Superbowl Friday

Not to turn this into a total love-fest for MLB Network, but did you all know that the Superbowl is on Sunday?  I didn't.  Know why?  Because I haven't watched ESPN in weeks.  Also, there's the Joe Torre thing that's consuming everyone's consciousness, so thank goodness for snarkiness, amirite?

In other news, I feel bad for Torii if this is true, but I have to say I enjoyed the concept.  This is mostly because I really enjoyed watching the Tigers crash and burn and the Twins and White Sox come out of the rubble victorious, and seeing all the analysts on-air personalities suddenly scrambling to explain why the two teams they thought were worthless good-for-nothings were suddenly battling it out for first.  I resent, of course, that most of the focus was on the White Sox, who of course were "better than we expected" rather than "lucky," but you're not a Twins fan if you don't have a mild chip on your shoulder over media coverage.  

Also, Houseboy came up with what I hope is a brilliant parallel for the Twins next year in the 1983 Orioles.  They were beaten by the Brewers in a one game playoff in 1982, but came back the next year to win the division by 6 games.  Not to mention winning the World Series that year, which would be nice.  Not having Cal Ripken might make a difference, but we'll see. 


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank you MLB Network

Just a little check-in here to let everyone know that I think the MLB Network might be the awesomest new invention in baseball since they made the bases screw into the ground.  I was skeptical, what with All Other News Media basically sucking at the teat of the Yankees and Red Sox, with the occasional tip of the hat to the Cubs and The Whoever Won the World Series Most Recently.  I figured this would be 24 hours of tributes to Yankee Stadium and in depth coverage of the Red Sox curse*.  

I was wrong, however.  It's only about 12 hours out of the day on MLB's golden teams!  The other 12 hours of the day, we get to hear about the year the METS won it all!  Or that time the BRAVES were good!  Or when the Pirates.... had those uniforms we all like!  I even caught an occasional Twins reference that did NOT have Kirby Puckett in it!**

Plus, Harold Reynolds, we love you.  We missed you.  Baseball Tonight has been a bleeding sore without you.  We're so happy you're back and telling us things we already know!  Yay you!

* For realz, wasn't that curse broken?  I don't know much about curses, being a fan of a team that has been good when they have good players and bad when they don't, but it seems like two World Series ought to have taken care of them.

** You KNOW I love Kirby.  I just like some of the other guys too.  Remember Kent Hrbek?  What about Shane Mack and Chili Davis?  They were all right too.  I heard that Johann Santana used to be a Twin even.  


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Other people's pain is my pleasure

That's right. I'm that bitter. After the crushing one game playoff defeat of the Twins, Walleye and I vowed not to watch the playoffs. It was going to be like 2005, where they just didn't exist and forever afterward when people mentioned it I'd say something disturbing and confusing like "Oh, 2005... the year they didn't have the playoffs because of the Robot Riots." Only replace 2005 with 2008 in this case.

But on the other hand, the Brewers did make it in, and Tampa Bay has this adorable underdog thing where people from Florida don't give a shit about baseball, and there are former Twins on the team as well as fun players named RRRRRRRRRRRRocco Baldelli and suchlike. So we just tuned in to see the scores and pretended we didn't.

And then awesome things happened like the Cubs getting swept. That made us very happy. And forgive me Jenny, but the White Sox getting eliminated in 4 games gave me tingling little feelings of happiness too, seeing as how I'm bitter and angry. Those two things combined almost outweighed seeing the f*%king Red Sox squoosh poor Torii Hunter and the other Los Angeles Undefeatables of Anaheim. Add in the Brewers losing it in 4 games too, though, and now I'm stuck rooting for Tampa Bay and the Phillies? Go Matt Garza!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The baseball gods like drama

So after losing their respective series to the Indians and the Royals, the White Sox and the Twins both managed to pull impressive wins out of their asses this afternoon. This forces the White Sox to make up the rain out with the Tigers and play 162 games like the rest of us. Interesting little tidbit in that game: reported probable pitchers are Freddy Garcia and Gavin Floyd, who were traded for each other (plus Gio Gonzalez, but who's counting) in 2006.

So, that's my contribution to the analysis of THAT game. Irony man. I think.