One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

A shocking shocker

Maybe the Boston Globe needs to start giving its blurb writers thesauruses…

Brian Roberts sails in with the winning run (above) to cap Baltimore’s five-run rally in the eighth inning. The Orioles, who trailed, 10-1, scored 10 runs over the final two frames to shock the Red Sox in one of the biggest shockers in recent history. [emphasis mine…shockingly]

But yes, the loss was shocking.


July 1, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , | Leave a comment

Hockey players are likeable because they are white?

Don’t get me wrong — it’s great to see a WaPo op-ed extolling NHL hockey, which indeed seems to have vaulted into the second position in Washingtonians’ sports hierarchy, above the mediocre Wizards and the hapless Nationals, but inevitably trailing the beloved RedPeopleskins. But I have to wonder about the assumption that the author, Post contributing writer John Feinstein, is making in this assertion:

ovechkin fansHockey players are the most likable professional athletes on the planet. Maybe it’s because so many are small-town kids, or because so few become marketing superstars, or maybe it’s just the nature of the sport — selflessness is an absolute for any team to succeed.

Surely it could not be because hockey players also happen to be the whitest professional athletes on the planet. I’m not going to impute any subconscious racial animus on Feinstein (just, um, imply it portentously), but this would be consistent with the all-too-ready tendency to label certain professional football and basketball players (who happen to play in majority African-American sports) as troublemakers, delinquents, and other unsavory types.

That Feinstein cites the “small-town kids” rationale is not helping his cause. By buying into the myth of virtuous “small-town” America (where, it’s worth mentioning, most hockey players don’t even come from), Feinstein’s argument rests on deeply problematic assumptions of race, demographics, and morality. If small-town white kids (who happen to be able to afford expensive hockey equipment) are more likeable than inner-city, basketball-playing black kids, then what are we supposed to assume?

As much as I enjoy watching them play, hockey players, as a monolithic group, are not any more or less “likeable” than other sports’ professional athletes. To date, for example, I don’t recall a professional of any other sport using their equipment as a weapon with which to attack another player’s head.

(image from flickr user clydeorama under a Creative Commons license)

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , | 5 Comments

Not to toot my own horn or anything…

…but I am one hell of a consistently good bracket-picker for someone who doesn’t care much about college basketball.


April 9, 2009 Posted by | Sports | | Leave a comment

Genocide in Darfur and the Detroit Lions

football bad as, you know, genocide.

The Detroit Lions were a terrible football team this year.  They lost every single game.  Understandably, the general manager of the team, Matt Millen, bears a large amount of responsibility for this horrific failure.  According to a Detroit Free Press columnist, though, Millen  is to blame for a lot more as well.

The Lions coaching search to me is kind of like Darfur. It’s the story that I know I’m supposed to care about and read up on and be all knowledgeable about. But I just can’t get into it for some reason. Actually, I know the reason. He was staring at me from my TV screen last Saturday night: Matt Millen.

Yep, that’s right, the slaughter and suffering of a few million people is akin to an American football team’s search for a new head coach.  It’s good to know that honest Americans’ priorities — not to mention entire moral schema — are well in order.

(image from flickr user Big Swede Guy under a Creative Commons license)

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Darfur, Football | , , , | 1 Comment

Red Sox fans: read the Times!

nytimesMichael Hirschorn ponders what would happen if the Old Grey Lady suffers a fate worse than death itself — banishment to the tubes of the interweb.

But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?

I have many very serious concerns about what the downfall of the standard-bearer of traditional journalism would mean for the industry, for the way that information is disseminated, and for the Sunday morning Bohemian lifestyle loyal Times readers, but my paramount concern here is this: please make sure that someone is paying the salaries of the Boston Red Sox at least through October.

(image from flickr user Scorpions and Centaurs under a Creative Commons license)

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Baseball, media | , | 1 Comment

Congress and the NFL

nfl1The WSJ makes an odd comparison between the National Football League and Congress:

But in this age of government failure and corporate bailouts, there is something refreshing about a line of work that is so unforgiving about performance. In the phrase of Bill Parcells, the head of football operations for the (11-5) Miami Dolphins and former Super Bowl coach, “You are what your record says you are.”

Members of Congress can thank their lucky gerrymandered districts that they aren’t judged by the same standard.

Yes, for only in the “ruthless meritocracy” that is the NFL can the 8-8 San Diego Chargers — not to mention the 9-7 Arizona Cardinals and the 10-6 Minnesota Vikings — make the playoffs, and the 11-5 New England Patriots miss out.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

(image from flickr user jonathan_moreau under a Creative Commons license)

December 30, 2008 Posted by | Football, Sports | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Quadrathlon?



One of the silliest Olympic events gets just a bit sillier:

Almost from its inception in 1912 as an Olympic sport — an eclectic combination of pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horse jumping and running — the modern pentathlon has seemed somewhat less than modern.

And now it is about to become something less than a pentathlon.

Shooting and running will be combined into a single event, a new final exam of intermittent focus and endurance. But modern pentathlon — derived from Greek, combining five (penta) and contest (athlon) — has no plans to change its name to tetrathlon.

Ah yes, that natural combination — shooting and running.  Just replace the baton with a gun and keep on running.

(image from flickr user robertodevido under a Creative Commons license)

November 27, 2008 Posted by | Sports | | Leave a comment

At least we have a kicker

lionsThough the hapless Detroit Lions are trailing their near-undefeated and substantially more talented opponent, the Tennessee Titans, 21-3 28-3 at this writing, they can at least take solace in the fact that they have a great kicker.  According to CBS announcer Jim Nantz, Lions kicker Jason Hanson, with his 53-yarder to put his team on the board, became — and I paraphrase — “the most long field-goal kicking kicker in NFL history.”  Or something.

(image from flickr user evansfam under a Creative Commons license)

November 27, 2008 Posted by | Football, Sports | , , , | 1 Comment

You call that booing?

The head of the European soccer federation, Michel Platini — a guy who knows a thing or two about playing soccer in France — has derided his country’s anti-booing plan as “absurd.”

“Thirty years ago, when I played with the France team, the Marseillaise was whistled at every venue.

Yeah!  Take that!  We were even more unpopular!  Hon hon hon!

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Soccer, Sports | | Leave a comment

Aux armes, les spectateurs!

As someone who does not exactly show full reverance to the ballad of the “land of the free,” I guess I’m glad that I won’t be attending sports matches in France any time soon.

“Any match at which our national anthem is whistled at will be immediately stopped,” said [French Sports Minister] Roselyne Bachelot.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the booing was “insulting” and that in the event of a repeat it would be necessary “to call off matches”.

“It’s insulting for France, it’s insulting for the players of the French team, it should not be tolerated,” he added.

You know what else is insulting?  Colonialism.

October 15, 2008 Posted by | Soccer, Sports | | 1 Comment

The Retreating Squirrels

The Beninese soccer team, having already advanced to the final round of African qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, sure has its priorities straight.

The nickname of the Benin national team, Les Écureuils, translates into English as “The Squirrels” – and now the country’s sports ministry has decided it simply is not fearsome enough.

Instead sports minister Ganiou Soglo has suggested a more intimidatory name – the “Emerging Panthers”.

It goes without saying, of course, that a sports team’s nickname is not generally correlative with that team’s success — or even its fearsomeness.  Rather, the compulsion to brandish an intimidating name seems to stem from some abstract sense of manliness — the idea that a team that mauls, attacks, and kills is stronger than one that, say, scurries and climbs trees.

The Beninese may want to consider a different tactic, though.  Consider that one recent winner of hockey’s Stanley Cup was called the “Ducks” (no longer even of the “Mighty” variety) — an animal that doesn’t exactly cause one to scramble out of the pond.  Or that the two last European World Cup champions are known as les Bleus and gli Azzurri — which both translate as the incredibly fear-inducing nickname of…”the Blues.”

(Image from flickr user clarapeix using a Creative Commons license)

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Soccer, Sports | Leave a comment