Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

Houston Astros: Everything Must Go (including the fans)

Monday, August 1st, 2011

My beloved Astros have been busy.  I get wanting to get better, but trading away two modestly-paid All Stars for prospects seems… well, crappy.  They’re already flat-out terrible, but watching Pence chase a hitting streak this season or Bourn fly around in center was at least reason to watch when they were a (rare) option in my out-of-market lineup.  At least they’ve saved me some money – I can’t imagine spending $180 or so on MLB Extra Innings for at least 3 years.

More on vuvuzelas

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

MSNBC is running a story about the “inventor” of the vuvuzela.  Two things are interesting here.  One, it’s total bullshit that it was invented 15 years ago.  Brought to South Africa and made in to a business there 15 years ago?  Sure, I can buy that.  Invented there?  No way.  Again, this has been a staple of Mexican soccer for at least 20 years or more.  The other thing to note is that if this guy is the father of (South African) vuvuzelas, then the story establishes that this whole fad is precisely 15 years old.  What.  the.  fuck.  We’re tip-toeing around about not offending the sensibilities of the locals about a 15 year old fad?  That’s ridiculous.  (Also, all of the original reporting about how the vuvuzela “hearkens back” to some ancient African tradition are made even more stupid).  I still think that you can’t ban them, because if it’s 15 years old, 500 years old, or 5 months old, it doesn’t matter if banning them would kill off 40% or more of your attendance at the games.  You just can’t do it.  It still doesn’t mean I like them.  BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Weighing in on vuvuzelas

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The World Cup is underway, and I’ve been watching a few of the matches.  (So far, I watched ABC’s offerings of England vs US and Germany vs Australia).  Martin Tyler, the veteran English soccer announcer that ABC has retained, has made a few biting comments during the broadcast about the blaring vuvuzelas.  Well, FIFA has weighed in and said that they won’t be doing anything to limit them or fans using them (other than to restrict them during national anthems), and I can understand that.  That doesn’t mean I like the vuvuzelas.  In fact, I quite hate them.  I understand that from a business point of view, you have to have plenty of local fans going to the matches to have a successful World Cup.  This is especially true in South Africa – let’s face it, it’s not exactly centrally located for the supporting fans for most of the participating nations.  So if banning or severely limiting vuvuzelas would put a serious dent in attendance by locals (or cause a major backlash among the local fans), then you simply can’t do it, no matter how annoying they are.

But let’s face it, they aren’t some long-lived African tradition.  They’re just a local fan fad (a relatively recent one) that also happens to be highly annoying to many people, including myself.  I lived in Houston.  The vuvuzelas are *not* some African tribal tradition carried forth among soccer fans.  They’re from Central America, primarily, and I heard them whenever Mexico played in Houston — not exactly a bastion of African tribal tradition.  Let’s dispense with the notion that being annoyed by the vuvuzela means being annoyed with the cultural heritage of South Africa.  That’s bullshit.  Even if it was truly a long-standing tradition, so what?  Others can’t be annoyed?  Of course they can.  That said, I wouldn’t be such a prick as to foist my personal sensibilities on to those of other fans.  (Though I must say that I’d be really, really irritated if I was a visiting fan & was made nearly deaf by the local tradition of people ceaselessly blaring in to horns).

The vuvuzelas are annoying.  They have as much to do with being a soccer fan as cheering at the wrong time has to do with being a good baseball fan (Cubs fans, I’m looking at you for going crazy in the 5th inning for getting the first out.  Nonsensical cheering is, in fact, worse than no cheering at all).  The bleat of the vuvuzelas is constant.  The action on the field has absolutely nothing to do with the intensity of it.  Goal?  WHAAAAA!  Pass?  WHAAAAA!  Player introductions?  WHAAAA!  It’s constant, and therefore it’s just noise.  It’s not even background noise, because it covers over the chants, songs, and cheers of the fans who are actually following the game.  I seriously question the ability of anybody to blare in to a horn for a good 20 to 30 seconds at a time and still pay attention to what’s going on on the field.  I can’t scream at a (US) football game like that.  Even the best of musicians, I give 1 minute, tops, before they are seriously winded, to the point that they can’t really focus.  Anyway, my point is, the vuvuzelas are distracting to the game to me.  If it’s part of “the experience” for the local fans, though, I get that FIFA can’t very well ban them.  But, mark my words, you can count on hearing them in World Cup 2014 in Brazil, too.  I wonder what the cultural bullshit reason we’ll hear from FIFA then…

Carl Edwards put on probation for 3 races

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Well, NASCAR has responded to Carl Edwards’ retaliatory wrecking of Brad Keselowski:  he’s been put on probation for the next 3 races.  Practically speaking, this has no effect.  Sure, Edwards will have to be “extra careful” (whatever that means) the next few races, but this really will just force him into biding his time until he gets the right opportunity.  That, honestly, is what he should’ve done in the first place.  I’m not really sure how what Edwards did was as effective as, say, talking it over with Brad after the race and letting him know “you’re next”, and then waiting it out until you get a competitive chance to settle a score when it matters, with both of you actually racing (rather than just wrecking).  (Time also gives you the ability to really consider what had happened earlier and decide if it was what you thought it was, which still remains unclear to me in this case).  We’ll see if NASCAR’s lack of action here sends a signal to open up the floodgates for similar actions by other drivers.

Cynics would say that NASCAR is endorsing this behavior for ratings.  I’m not so sure.  That may be a component of it, but I think they’ve kind of painted themselves in a corner with their pre-season statements that they’d be more “hands off”.  I think they concluded that suspending Edwards would be somehow inconsistent with their previous statements (which, frankly, they should not have made, for exactly this reason), but they had to put forth the appearance of protecting their fans’ safety.  Suspending Edwards for recklessly and intentionally risking the lives of several people would not have been inconsistent with a general encouragement of heated — and bumpy — competition, but it’s fair to say that many NASCAR fans would not agree with me about that one.  If nothing else, I think NASCAR does know their fans.

Carl Edwards is a douchebag

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Carl Edwards and like-minded fans will point to any number of incidents prior to his intentional wrecking of Brad Keselowski with 2 laps to go at Atlanta today as a means to justify it.  Here are the facts:

  1. Carl Edwards was 156 laps down.
  2. Carl Edwards attempted to hit Keselowski on the previous lap and missed.  He went at him again in the next lap, ultimately succeeding.
  3. Carl Edwards’ hands can be seen turning the wheel right into Keselowski.  (This just in:  There are no right turns at Atlanta Motor Speedway).
  4. Carl Edwards took the lives of Keselowski, other drivers, and fans into his hands for no reason.
  5. Carl Edwards could’ve also wrecked any other number of drivers trying to make a top-10 finish.  Unlike Edwards, there are guys in the Cup series going race-to-race, trying to keep a sponsor, and a wrecked car could’ve easily broken them.  If Edwards is to be taken at his word (“I didn’t mean to flip him”), then clearly he had no control over the impact of his actions.

I get that Keselowski wrecked Edwards at Talladega (while they were both going for the win, and in a situation that both drivers and all observers agreed was not intentional).  I get that Edwards was mad that Keselowski’s minor nudge on lap 40 wrecked Edwards’ car.  I get that there are some people who don’t like Brad Keselowski as a person.  But, none of that changes the above 5 facts.  Hey, I’m all for settling scores on the last lap if you’re both going for the win.  What Edwards did was careless, dangerous, and contemptuous of the fans who actually go to the races.

Super Bowl over, on to NASCAR!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

The Super Bowl was actually was a decent game – after many years growing up in which the game itself was a blowout, we’ve had nearly a decade of actual, competitive games (with a few outliers, but still).  The food at my party was pretty decent, too.  After trying (and failing) to find any kind of outstanding (or even non-mediocre/bad) Mexican restaurants in the Boston area, I’ve been really wanting a quality Mexican food meal lately.  So, I braved the 30-degree weather & grilled one myself outside.  (My buddy Steve was a good sport & came outside with me).  Sure, it was on a propane grill rather than charcoal, but I was pleased with the results.  (Seriously, New Englanders, stop being so goddamn snotty about grilling and grilling technology.  When you can tell me the differences in complexity between fajitas and a burger — or even how to come remotely close to making a decent fajita — then you can justifiably get indignant over my fuel source.  Until then, kindly cram it).  I wasn’t in mid-season form, since grilling in Winter is something I’ve never done before, but it was good nonetheless.

Several of my friends are rather despondent about sports now, because they either don’t give a crap about much other than football.  Granted, those people are mostly from Texas, and that’s not a very uncommon position there — football is first, and everything else is a distant second.  New Englanders are less than enthusiastic about the Red Sox and seem to have fallen back into the belief that nobody can stop the Yankees.  (A century of beatdowns is bound to leave some psychological scars, no matter how good your team finally gets).

I, however, am excited for the start of NASCAR season.  I like that the Daytona 500 is the first race of the season.  The field is wide open — there’s nobody with a runaway points lead (read:  Jimmie Johnson).  It doesn’t really have any analog.  You’ll hear people say “what if the NFL had the Super Bowl on the first week of the season?”, but that doesn’t make any sense.  Yes, they’re both the biggest event in their sport, but the Daytona 500 is still just one race.  It’s a big race that makes for great competition, but I like that the season isn’t over after it.  Rather, it’s only just begun.  (And no, the Bud Shootout doesn’t count — it’s not an official Cup-series race).  To me, the story surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most interesting in sports right now.  He had an awful season last year and never really looked competitive, even after now having 2 years with Hendrick Motorsports.  If he has another year like that, it’s conceivable that he retires (or at least makes suggestions that he might).  It’s hard to understate the damage that would do to NASCAR as a sport and as a business.  NASCAR desperately needs Dale Earnhardt Jr. to show some signs of life this year.  (And hell, I want him to do well — the sport’s just more interesting when he’s performing well).  And, here’s hoping that Tony Stewart puts Kyle Busch in the wall at Daytona — again.


Saturday, January 9th, 2010

My reaction to Pete Carroll leaving for the Seahawks

God.  Dammit. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.

McCoy goes down, so does UT

Friday, January 8th, 2010

So, Alabama won, but they did not look as prepared as I’d expected them to – plenty of mistakes, including standing around on a pooch kickoff & letting UT recover.  The fake punt early on was dumb, and even if they’d have connected on that pass, it wasn’t past the first-down marker — UT would’ve taken over on downs, as their defender was right there (who ultimately broke up the play).  Now, that said, people claiming that UT “almost pulled it off” with their backup quarterback, and “imagine what would’ve happened with McCoy in the game!” are missing an obvious point:  Alabama’s strategy in the 2nd half, including settling for consistent 2 and 3 yard rushing losses time after time in the 3rd quarter, was dictated by Alabama’s lead and McCoy riding the pine w/ a dead arm.  Alabama didn’t throw the ball until they had to because Texas had managed to get back in the game with almost all of the time of possession.  And, when they did, Alabama slammed the door shut.  I’m still trying to figure out how winning 37-21 is “almost losing”, but such is the delusion among a disappointed Horn Nation.

UT-fan delusions

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I hear that the UT fans in Austin are all a-flutter about not getting “respect” from the media.  The ABC/ESPN crew just picked, by majority, UT to win.  If they manage to win, you can be sure that they’ll still claim that “nobody gave them a chance”.  The pre-whining has begun.

UT / Alabama predictions

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Alabama is going to win this game, because:

1) Texas can’t stop anybody with a non-crappy offense.  This isn’t Nebraska we’re talking about.  See:  Texas’s performance against hapless A&M.

2) Nick Saban is a better coach than Mack Brown.  Alabama will be better prepared for this game.

3) Texas’s offense is one-dimensional to begin with, and if they get down by 10, that will severely limit what they can do.  Granted, McCoy can make you pay, but I’d rather be in Alabama’s position if that happens.  Alabama, conversely, can make it happen on offense in other ways when they’ve needed to.

4) I cannot stand UT sports, and God isn’t cruel enough to bestow upon me another round of insufferable Texas fans, especially after they beat my alma mater (USC).