Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Betrayal: Is it a Thing in Sports?

Over the past few days I have been reading about the fallout of MLB's investigation of the Biogenesis Clinic, including the suspension of Ryan Braun. Braun famously avoided a prior PED suspension  a few years ago. His defense in that case was that a chain of custody breach violated the testing policies of the league and the results are suspect. That is not an unreasonable defense for Braun or any player. Usually, the players will get tested again and if they fail the second test we know if they're really using PED or not. However, if said player is connected to a clinic that provides PEDs (the kind that are meant to beat PED tests used by MLB) that trumps the whole testing thing.

Some will call Braun a cheat or a liar, but I won't go that far. It is entirely possible that after his first failed test, which was positive for the very reasons he stated in his defense, he decided to start taking PEDs if the suspicion was already there. I don't know if that is the case or not, so I'll refrain from calling him a liar. I have no problem with other writers calling him dishonest since the evidence points in a similar direction. I also have no qualms with other people calling Braun a cheater. That assumes of course they view PEDs as cheating.

Ignoring the fact that PEDs have been part of Baseball since at least the late 1940s, the steroid era has conflated the term Performance Enhancing Drugs with steroids. When we think PEDs we think juicing. However, there are other drugs that enhance an athlete's performance. For example, throughout the 1960s and 1970s big league players used to use prescription grade amphetamines to boost their reaction times, focus and energy on the field. If you don't believe me, read Ball Four by Jim Bourton. Actually, read Ball Four anyway, you'll thank me.

The concepts of cheating and lying bring me to a headline I saw that used the word "betrayal" in reference to Braun. It stated that he "betrayed the game" or something to that effect. Betrayal is a whole different realm than cheating or lying. To me, betrayal means choosing one side over the other or at least killing someone who's close to you or something. Ryan Braun didn't kill anyone and he didn't betray Baseball by playing Cricket or Soccer. There is no such thing as "betraying the game." If there were then Bo Jackson, Dion Sanders, and our lord and savior Russell Wilson should all be labeled as traitorous bastards.

I can see how Braun's actions are dishonorable to the sport of Baseball, he is in GoT terms an "oath breaker." He signed a contract that explicitly states that he cannot violate the league rules. I get that, if you want to feel he is dishonorable go right ahead. However, ignoring the fact that Baseball has a long history of PED users is idiotic. Looking back to a nonexistent golden age is something Hitler would do. Don't be Hitler, guys. Braun is supposed to be a role model. Those types of people shouldn't use drugs, performance enhancing or not. Calling Braun dishonorable, a poor role model, a liar or a cheater is perfectly okay in my book. But please for the love of Russell, don't say he betrayed the game. A statement like that ignores history and you don't want to be the type of person to ignore history.

Friday, July 19, 2013

How to be a Proper Racist Asshole

Thank the universe something happened within the last few days! It may be stupid and makes me lose hopes in humanity, but it happened and I have a thing to write about. So according to my news feed on Facebook and Twitter, Marc Anthony was heavily criticized the other day for singing "God Bless America" because some racist idiots on the Internet thought a Puerto Rican dude from Manhattan looked like a foreigner. Because you know it would be a huge insult to God and America for someone who was not born in the United States to sign that song. I mean, that's why they voted for McCain over Obama in 2008.You can never be too sure where people are REALLY born these days. I'm not here to try to enlighten or change the Twitter Klansmen. On the contrary, I am here to teach these guys how to be the best racist assholes on the internet. I have developed a three pillared philosophy to help any amateur hate-filled troll turn into a professional volcano of prejudice and vitriol.

1. Never Admit You're a Racist

This is probably the most important part of this whole philosophy. After all you're not a racist, you're just a true patriot. I mean if we start letting foreigners sing songs like "God Bless America" we're diluting our culture. These people cross our borders, ignore our laws, and think they can maintain their old way of living. That's just un-American. You're not racist for defending America's great history and awesome culture, especially when it comes to Baseball. The national pastime has always been an important sport for white guys. Players like Ted Williams (never mind, he was Hispanic) Roger Maris (Uh, he was Croatian) Stan Musial (What!? He was Polish!?) Ty Cobb (there we go!) would have never stood for this kind of cultural watering down.

2. Consistency

Being consistent is essential to being the best at anything. You need to be like a great singer who sounds just as good live as they do on the radio. That's real consistency. So being upset about a foreigner singing an American song isn't enough, you need to complain about the foreigners on the field in the All Star Game. Only 7 out of the 19 starters in this years ASG were white christian Americans. This is the national pastime, God damn it! It should be only Americans playing in America's game! See in order to be the best racist asshole you can be you need to be consistent.
 
3. Ignore Facts, Grammar, and Spelling

In order to be a truly great racist asshole you have to be able to ignore facts. Marc Anthony has never had a permanent address outside the US? Who cares? He LOOKS foreign and most of his songs are in Spanish, he must be lying about being American. Oh a majority of players in Major League Baseball today are not White Anglo-Saxon Protestants born in the US? Who cares, it's America's Pastime! 'Murica being the key word there. Oh society looks down on xenophobic, racist, closed minded idiots? Don't worry about it, the internet is the perfect place to anonymously voice your antiquated opinions. To put the icing on the cake, don't bother spelling anything your write correctly. Also, fuck using proper grammar. For example, this sentence would be perfect: "i aint liken this fouren singer on the bassbal game he is not American y is he vialateing our nashinal passtime #KeepAmericaAmerican." If you use effective communication skills no one will understand you. Those rappers never spell check on twitter, why should you?

If you follow those three easy steps you be out racisting the entire internet in no time!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Brace Yourselves the Podcast is Coming

So I've been silent for the last three weeks or so because I've been working and writing other stuff. I have also been researching for this first ever Moose Balls Podcast! My podcasts are going to be about a frequent as my articles. Probably once football season rolls around I'll be posting more often than just when I get the itch. These won't be your average podcasts though! No, they will be more like mini sports history lessons. I am after all a historian by trade. Today's sound candy will cover "rivalries" and how each of the major four leagues treat these games. I will also cover the different types of rivalries. I'm sticking just to team based rivalries for now since they are the most prevalent.  The different roles rivalries play in each league also says a lot about the leagues themselves. No more reading dudes and dudettes, time to get listening!

Podcast on YouTube!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The NFL Doesn't Care About You!

The National Football League is a business. A business with 32 separate and distinct products that make it the most lucrative professional sporting league in the world. That's according to Forbes, not me by the way. 31 of the NFL's teams are owned by a single majority owner (the Packers are the oddball, they're basically a publicly held company with limits on individual ownership of stock. So a co-op, but with no organic section). The richest of these owners is Mr. Paul Allen, again according to Forbes, worth a metric shit load of money. It turns out a metric shit load of money is fucking $15 billion, that makes him the 58th richest person in the world and the 23rd richest person in the US. To put that in perspective, Jerry Jones is worth $2.7 Billion dollars. Of that almost $3 billion, $1.81 billion is the Dallas Cowboys. Over 2/3 of Jerry Jones' wealth is "America's Team." How much of Mr. Paul Allen's value is in owning an NFL franchise? I'm glad I asked, it's less than 7 percent.

Why am I talking about NFL owners' money? Because read the title dipshit, the NFL does not care about you. If you're just an average, everyday, normal guy like me then you are not a season ticket holder for your particular NFL persuasion. Hell you may not even live in the same geographical area as your team. Yet you are a fan and you think you matter. However, you as an individual fan do not matter to Mr. Paul Allen, Jerry Jones or even the hippy dippy co-op that is the Green Bay Packers. You can buy all of the merchandise, single game tickets, and TV packages you want. All of your spending is just fractions of a penny to them. You can romanticize your fandom as being a 12th man or part of "Cowboys Nation" but the truth of the matter is you're a replaceable stream of revenue.

I'm not trying to be a wet blanket and tell you sports are stupid. They are not, they're a distraction from our daily lives that make those lives suck a lot less. I just believe it is beneficial to not operate from a dearth of knowledge. In the era of social media it is important that we as individuals correctly estimate our importance. I have not directly put a single dollar in Mr. Paul Allen's or Nintendo of America's coffers in years, I doubt they are too upset about that. There are thousands of other people out there willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for tickets, food and jerseys at the Clink and Safeco. Anyway, this was probably more entertaining for me to write about than it was for you to read. Tell me what you think, bromigos and bramigas.

PS: If you want something more interesting and less depressing watch this video by Field Gulls' Kenneth Arthur. It's an interesting conversation about the nature of sports, how it's kinda gay, and how that is perfectly okay.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Serious Post: Prospects

As a society, America is obsessed with potential. We care more about potential than reliability or sustainability. Our obsession fuels a desire for the next big thing, the "what could be or could have been" with all aspects of our lives. It is why our grandparents obsessed over John F. Kennedy or John Lennon. It's why your nerdy friends refuse to acknowledge Firefly has any flaws. It's why a large chunk of Americans watch shows like The Voice or the Bachelorette. This obsession is not limited to just the potential for good but also for bad shit. The chance that everything could blow up in our faces is why Hitchcock stands the test of time. It also is why a lot of people watch shows like Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. However, I am not here to talk to you about karmic money shots. No, I am here to talk about the potential of prospects and how we as fans should keep our lust for their futures in check.

I have a man crush on a Mariners prospect named Brad Miller. He's an old school motherfucker. He stands in the batters box like prewar Ted Williams, no batting gloves and a lumberjack swing. He plays with a grit and determination that rivals anyone today. Normally, "grit" and the like are reserved for untalented players who just "work hard." Miller is anything but untalented, he may very well be the best prospect in the Mariners system. However, he is still a PROSPECT. That means that all of his talent and grit could make him the next Safeco superstar or it could make him the next Willie Bloomquist. It is easy to love a guy who looks like he can do it all, until he can't.

As sports fans, it is important for us to temper our expectations with guys who are still "kids." Most of my friends are at or around my age of 23. Most prospects or rookies are around that age too, in the case of Jesus Montero we're the exact same age. Most people my age are still full of potential, it seems irrational to hold professional athletes to a different standard than I do my other peers. Yes, they make a lot more money than most of us but they are still mentally in the early stage of their life. To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, it is a sad thing to reach your peak at 21. For most athletes this is true and we as fans have to recognize that they are human beings with the rest of their life in front of them.

This was my first serious post on this blog. Potential is a curse, my friends, but it can also be a blessing. I just urge you to remember that athletes are human beings. The NFL off season is coming, as are last season call ups for most baseball teams. Temper your love for the sexy kid with the hot hands and good footwork. He is after all just a kid like you and me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

To Win Some or Lose a Lot? That is the Question!

I just "lost" an argument about the pronunciation of a word. This type of disagreement happens to me frequently, typically with people from other parts of the country. My reaction was typical, it physically pained me at admit my opponent was right. However, this loss was a bit of backdoor inspiration. It got me thinking about the nature of losing and winning. As a Mariners, Seahawks and Sonics fan, I have endured my fair share of losing seasons. As a fan, I am used to failure from my sports teams. I expect the Mariners to lose, even if Kyle Seager happens to make Major League Baseball history. Until our lord and savior Russell Wilson arrived, I expected the Seahawks to post a losing season. After Shawn Kemp was traded, I expected the Sonics to suffer (even with Ray Allen). I have to assume fans of the Royals, Browns and Lions expect their teams to suck every year. When you root for a bad team you accept that the team is not going anywhere. It's always "next year, every year, except this year."

But what about trult mediocre teams? Those franchises that always seem to hover around .500 and are "just a missing piece away." To me no franchise represents this perpetual mediocrity than the recent Dallas Cowboys. I have a ton of friends who are Cowboys fans. They always have that false hope that this year will be the year. They are good enough to win half their games and have some good players. However, the Cowboys always seem to fall short. This lack of success (for lack of a better word) spawns hatred for players like Tony Romo. Even though Romo is statistically one of the most productive QBs in Dallas' history.

So my question is: Is it better to root for a shitty team like the Mariners or is it better to root for a mediocre team like the Cowboys? I contend that it is worse to root for a mediocre team. There is hope in 8-8 and hope is a cancer for sports fans. You have to believe that they can make a playoff run or win the division if everything goes their way. The hope mediocre teams feel isn't hope for the future, it's hope for right now. It is taxing on their souls, entirely frustrating their loyalty. For bad teams, you accept that your team is going to lose, a lot. Every regular season win is like the Red Wedding to the Lannisters bannermen, but every loss is like a Winchester death at the end of a season of Supernatural. It's not pretty but you know it's happening. Cheering for a loser has some hope for next year but you are always prepared for a let down.

What do you guys think? Is it better to win some than lose a lot? Is hope a cancer to sports fans? Did you read the books and weren't surprised by the Red Wedding? Are you upset that neither Sam or Dean died at the end of this season? Discuss!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The NBA is for Squares, Man

So its been longer than the "tomorrow" I promised you last time. I've had some stuff going on in my life. I got a job thanks to my friend Josh (who's single by the way ladies) and I've been working on a potentially life changing project. But enough about my personal life, let's talk about why the NBA sucks at its job. The question here is: What does the NBA offer that the other sports leagues do not? I am of course going to point out the obvious and say that the NBA is the only major professional basketball league in North America. Now that that is out of the way, we can talk about three things that are potential positives about the NBA: high speed and scoring games, location in cities that are not represented by other sports, and the superstar centered nature of the Association.

They got a need...a need for speeeeeeed

By all accounts, Basketball is a fast game. Players fly up and down the court trying to score with in the 24 second shot clock. This results in a lot of "action" and points. However, the inflation in scoring can make the game really boring. It is a series of monotonous drives followed by the occasional exciting dunk or foul. Hockey is similar in the fact that it is a "fast" game. There may not be as much scoring but the NHL has other ways to excite its fans. There are fights, brilliant goalkeepers, and acrobatic skaters to fill the scoring void. I'm not even a big hockey guy, despite living in Alaska, and I can see the merits of the NHL over the NBA.

Little big towns

Of the 30 NBA teams, 6 (Salt Lake City, Portland, Oklahoma City, Memphis, San Antonio, and Sacramento) are the sole major professional sports team in the market. The most of any of the major leagues. However, Memphis, San Antonio, and Sacramento are all close enough to Nashville, Houston and the Bay Area that they are redundant franchises. They are like Green Bay to Milwaukee, there is really no medium sized city thing going on here. That leaves Portland, Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City. Portland is a wonderful city with its own culture, I love Voodoo Doughnuts and Powell's books. It is far enough from any other major city to be considered a specially represented franchise in the NBA. Salt Lake City and, as much as it pains me to say, are similar to Portland. With the exception that SLC should have more than just the NBA, some one please remind me why the Jaguars are still in Jacksonville. All this small town love is great, except that the Association isn't in all of the major cities the NFL and MLB are. Seattle and Kansas City are great examples of that. Yes the NFL isn't in LA but they have San Diego, alright. It is the NBA's obsession with relocation that has allowed a lot of its exploration into uncharted waters. OKC and Sacramento both gained teams through relocation. Neither the NFL or MLB have been as relocation crazy, outside of the Colts and Browns of course. Just because you have an NBA team now doesn't mean you're going to have it in 2 years.

SUPASTA!

The NBA is a superstar driven league. It depends on the Kobe Bryants and LeBron James' of the sport to raise revenue and sell tickets. It doesn't really matter what team they play for as long as they are big names selling tickets. There is really nothing wrong with this per se, however I do think there should be some sort of team loyalty inherent in fandom. Baseball has fallen off the "big name" band wagon over the last few years. Each team has its own stars but there aren't an real nationally loved players. Gone are the days of Ken Griffey Jr. The NFL is right there with the NBA in terms of being driven by superstars. There is one key difference, though. The NFL has embraced the "fantasy" aspect of its following. No, I am not talking about a team consisting of Orks, the Incredible Hulk and your dream girl. I mean fantasy football creates more demand for the NFL. People are no longer content with one or two games on Sunday, they need to track all of their players even second of every game. I would argue that the NFL is in fact better at pushing its superstars than the NBA is.

All of this was an attempt to discuss with you, my nine stalkers and my mom, the apathy I feel towards the NBA. I don't feel that it offers me anything unique other than simply being basketball. I could be wrong, tell me I'm wrong, I want to be wrong. Maybe I've just been so hurt from the Sonics leaving that I can never love again. Probably not, I think the NBA as a league is just mediocre and lost in the sea of irrelevancy.



PS. I know someone is going to say something, so I'll launch a preemptive strike. The MLS is NOT a major North American sport! Shut up about soccer, you fucking suck.