Recent Comments by brainofdtrain

Royals Acquire Shields, Deal Myers to Rays


That's a fair point, and there are more than a few folks who think it was time to go for it. I'm not against them taking a shot now, the problem I have is that they gave up way too much to do it. I can understand hitting on 14 every once in a while, but hitting on 19? The gamble feels too risky because if they're wrong they've killed the immediate and long-term future. Plus, as someone pointed out, it has been the KC GM who has lectured fans for years about being patient, so given that I think that it's valid to say "so, we've waited over 5 years for this, Santana, Guthrie, and Shields? That's it?" Shields is great, and it will be fun to watch him, and I hope I'm wrong. I just think that as great as he is, he's not good enough for what was given.

To put it another way: If I have to suffer through 5-6 years of "doing it the right/only way," I expected better. I get how the money works somewhat, that KC is always going to have some disadvantages, and that therefore some present suffering for better days later is inevitable. I'm okay with that, but I want to suffer awful baseball for the sake of titles, not winning 90-95 games and watching Guthrie and Hochevar get destroyed by the Tigers, Yankees, Rangers, etc. I was already doing that in the regular season. Maybe I'm just jaded.

posted by brainofdtrain at 08:29 PM on December 11, 2012

Royals Acquire Shields, Deal Myers to Rays

I'm a KC fan, though I'm seriously considering bailing after this trade. I can't stand it. As Ying Yang rightly pointed out, even if Shields is lights out, are Santana, Guthrie, Luke "this is the year he breaks out ... no seriously this is the year" Hochevar, and Wade Davis really going to put KC over the top?

To me, playoff appearances are nice, but you don't give up all the hard work building for the future for it; you only do that for World Series wins. I feel like the Royals were running a marathon and decided to quit at the 23 mile mark. There is no objective measure I can think of that suggests this deal puts KC over the top as a championship contender. As Rany, Pos, and Prospectus all make clear I think, this was a short-sighted, and probably desperate, move. If the best KC and their fans can hope for is to watch them get killed by the Yankees, Tigers, or Rangers in the postseason then the hopelessness in KC is worse than I thought. As another great leader in KC sports history once put it, you play to win the game!

I hope I'm wrong, but my honest belief is that at best we are getting ~2 years of competent, fun baseball for another decade (at least) of poor, unwatchable baseball.

on edit: what yerfatma said

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:45 PM on December 11, 2012

South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore Suffers Knee Injury

Good news

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:04 PM on October 28, 2012

South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore Suffers Knee Injury

This injury shows why no athlete should ever be faulted for entering the pros early.

I saw someone else point out how this is also a good illustration of why some sort of living stipend is in order for players. After all the success that SC has had and will still have this year (and thus $$$ made) in large part off of his efforts, it seems a shame that compensation (in addition to his education) will likely never come his way, regardless of how tiny. Regardless, I genuinely feel for the guy, and hope he can find a way back, although I wouldn't blame him for hanging 'em up now-you want to be able to walk when you're 50.

posted by brainofdtrain at 10:30 PM on October 27, 2012

Red Sox considering a blockbuster trade

leaves the Sox fantastically agile to retool.

With what?

The free agent market is REALLY lean for picking up anyone in 2013.

Maybe they're thinking long-term. If there's nothing good out there in the market this offseason, just wait a year, focus on your farm system, and have a ton of cash in your back pocket for whenever the guys you want become available.

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:11 PM on August 25, 2012

Greg LeMond smiles

How does quitting the effort to prove his innocence makes him more lovable?

I think the judge questioning the USADA's motives publicly will at least enable all who still want to believe in Lance to do so. To me I find it a bit hard to believe that Lance is literally a genius who outsmarted multiple huge bureaucracies with huge payrolls for over a decade, and all that could be brought against him was circumstantial evidence and testimony. Even granting his wealth and celebrity, the lack of hard evidence (considering who he was up against) is disconcerting to me, and even though he really might have pulled the wool over everyone's eyes, until something concrete can be offered I can't go there.

More on point though rcade, what if the USADA was literally trying to bleed him dry financially? Lance can't win a financial arms race against USADA, and they know that.

I mean, if you're Lance and you know that continuing to fight means you keep losing money, which could effect your foundation, don't you have a responsibility to say "public perception be damned, I can't let that happen?" To me, that's a scenario that makes him even more lovable. Granted, most casual fans won't think about it that much, but for his fans, that might seem reasonable enough.

Obviously, at the end of the day this likely only confirms whatever opinion one previously held. My point with the above scenario is that, for those who trusted Lance, there are ways to perceive this as a courageous and moral act, so now Lance deserves even higher praise.

posted by brainofdtrain at 08:53 PM on August 24, 2012

Greg LeMond smiles

I might have misread some of the articles on this, but the USADA isn't necessarily the definitive word on this, correct? I guess I'm wondering if the ICU rejects the USADA's decision, can Armstrong's victories still be viewed as valid? Armstrong has said that the USADA is over-stepping their authority here, and apparently the ICU agrees, so why should Armstrong, the ICU, and anyone for that matter, accept the USADA's decision?

I have no clue if the guy did/n't dope (and to be honest I know very little about the sport); I'm just wondering if this ruling should really matter.

posted by brainofdtrain at 11:51 PM on August 23, 2012

Trying their best to win at losing

The hard thing for me is that it appears that nearly all American fan's opinions are inconsistent with respect to athletes trying to find every competitive edge to win. The badminton player's apathy/tanking was trying to create an edge for themselves later on. It was trying to work within the outer edge of what was permissible to set themselves up for success later on. Sometimes fans call that approach "brilliant" and "strategic." Other times, "shady" & "cheating."

I understand the instinct to recoil at this violation of the letter of the law, but how many of us dislike it when a baserunner steals the catcher's signs? When someone ices a kicker/free throw shooter? When a player's free throw motion is specifically designed/altered to instigate lane violations? When soccer players delay more during stoppage time? When a QB throws a bomb with the primary purpose being to get a pass-interference call? All appear to not violate the letter of the relevant rule(s), but certainly violate the spirit of the game being played. I'm sure more examples could be listed.

Hell, the NBA has embraced this mentality full stop, and to a degree at least, can you blame them? Would any Hornets fans genuinely want to give up Anthony Davis and instead have the team try their hardest to ensure a season with more wins, but still end with no playoffs and without the draft position with which to begin rebuilding? The Celtics likely went further in the playoffs by resting guys (read: not caring if they lost) and losing home-court in the 1st round. They knew they would be playing Atlanta anyway, a team they knew they could beat, did beat, and they likely went further as a result. As a C's fan, I had no problem with this (other than worrying it would come back to bite them against Atlanta); the team I root for is super old, and needed to take advantage of that to have a chance later on.

I know everyone is aware of these examples (and others), but I tried to list several to make the point that the most popular sports in this country are filled with the type of logic these badminton players used. I get that the Olympics are a different animal, but if you like American sports and aren't a moralist about them of the highest order, I am not sure how one can be super up in arms about this. So, I put this more on the organizers than the players.

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:22 AM on August 02, 2012

Steve Nash headed to Lakers after sign-and-trade with Suns

Bynum for Howard? How is that a fair trade?

I think it is more of a "this is the best we can get back" trade if you are ORL. At least, that's the school of thought from the talking heads that I follow the closest.

posted by brainofdtrain at 08:49 PM on July 06, 2012

Steve Nash headed to Lakers after sign-and-trade with Suns

I'll be impressed with Kobe if he can adjust to playing without the ball more often and I don't doubt he'll do it.

This is the more interesting part of this trade to me: Kobe recruited Nash hard. Surely he knows how Nash plays, so I'm really interested to see how they play together, because I think you raise a good point tron7.

My guess is that they will also run some PnR between the two of them, and that with Kobe's declining athleticism he might be willing to embrace more spot up opportunities. He takes a lot of jumpers now anyway.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:37 PM on July 05, 2012

Steve Nash headed to Lakers after sign-and-trade with Suns

Age means something different when it comes to Nash. His advanced stats are still through the roof, which likely means that the reason his numbers aren't MVP worthy anymore (though they are still really good) is b/c his teams around him were terrible.

If you get two high gear years from him, I think it is worth it. LAL can't trade Kobe, so they've only got a couple years before they will have to start over anyway, so I think it was a great move. I think b/c Nash has spent the last few years in basketball purgatory, some have forgotten how good he is. The questions I have are more about how he fits on that particular team, and if they are done making moves. Of course having said all this, he will now average 8-8 for a month and then re-injure his back.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:25 PM on July 05, 2012

Larry Brown officially hired as SMU men's basketball coach.

Well, as an admitted KU homer, I'm happy for Brown. He has been spending a lot of time around Self & KU lately, and it seems like he genuinely misses the game and isn't getting into it for bad reasons. I'm not sure if I can defend his "nomadic" nature, but to me this hire is a bit like Majerus coaching @ St. Louis; he will be able to get better recruits relative to SMU's usual standards (not "great" ones, because it is SMU after all) because he can legitimately point to having the highest levels of success in American basketball. For kids who won't get signed to play for Calipari or Self maybe the next best thing is to play for the guy who helped groom them both?

Of course Brown could be way past his prime and be a failure, but I think it is worth the risk.

On Edit: It seems possible that part of the reason for Brown's roaming ways is related to a comment he's made publicly, that KU is the best job out there and he has regretted leaving. So, when you know that the best job has already come and gone for good, maybe one gets restless. I don't know of course, just a theory. On the other hand, maybe he is just biding his time until Self retires.

posted by brainofdtrain at 10:27 PM on April 20, 2012

Kentucky Makes It Eight

As a KU fan, tonight was a reminder that losing in the final game is such a bummer regardless of whether you are the favorite or not. I know that KU barely got to the game, and that UK had better players, but no matter how many times I told myself not to have high hopes for tonight, I couldn't help but be bummed by the result. This was probably my second favorite KU team since I started watching them over 20 years ago; they just had such guts & pride in the tradition at KU, which made them so fun to watch. So, even though I knew not to hope for much I still wanted better for the juniors and seniors who refused to let the bar be lowered in Lawrence this year. The fact they worked so hard, and decided to focus so much on the less fun task of nasty defense so that they had a chance in the tourney only makes the loss to UK worse somehow. I may be just too bummed right now to think clearly, but I would rather have another VCU debacle than this, ugh.

Okay, now that I've done my lamenting, I have to give it to UK; they really were the best team this year, start to finish. Just dominate. While I doubt they could beat NBA teams (I never really buy those arguments regardless of the collegiate sport), they are probably bigger than some already, which is just crazy. Hats off to them.

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:49 AM on April 03, 2012

Steelers Release Hines Ward

Didn't Ward say that he would take a pay cut during the season? Weird that they didn't even discuss it with him.

posted by brainofdtrain at 09:07 PM on February 29, 2012

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

It's a shame, though. I hope ome of these schools make an effort to keep playing each other.

I don't think that really would sustain a rivalry long term. As a Jayhawk fan, I agree with Bill Self that even if they play it won't be the same. Being in the same conference adds dynamics that just aren't present in noncon games. When I was growing up KU had a big game or two against Arizona, who was great at the time. Haven't thought about them much in years, and im pretty sure most KU fans are the same. Same with the huge noncon game against Florida a few years back. Not to disparage Mizzouri, but usually they aren't this good, so if playing classic games against great programs doesn't sustain a rivalry, then why would a great team vs. a more often than not mediocre one be able to?*

So, though i admit the MU-KU might have a longer shelf life than most, by not sharing a conference it is hard to see a rivalry lasting, even if they play a neutral site game once a year. I hate to say, but re-alignment really does just kill rivalries.

Of course, this response follows on the heels of digesting about everything i could find after the game, so no doubt i am regurgitating here, and could be totally off base.

*Seriously not trying to kill MU, just trying to be accurate. MU is awesome this year, and i'm fine not playing them again until the pressey's & denmon are long gone.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:08 AM on February 27, 2012

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Though a part of me thinks this is FPP material, I think I'll put it here 1st: Posnanski's column on the incredible KU-MU game last night and the end of the "Border War."

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:20 PM on February 26, 2012

Kravitz: 'Peyton Manning is Done in Indianapolis'

What about the Broncos?

/ESPN explodes

posted by brainofdtrain at 10:21 PM on January 27, 2012

Patriots Win Laugher Over Broncos


You may be right, but if you're Elway is a "very serviceable" QB what you're after? As a marginal KC fan, we have a "Cassel," and let me tell you, it isn't that fun really.

As a matter of fact, does any team in the NFL want a serviceable quarterback? I don't know how good Tebow will eventually be, or whether he has already basically shown what he is, but if you are a GM and your gut feeling is that your QB has a ceiling of "serviceable," then you've got to move on I think.

To me the standard for Tebow is no different than any other quarterback-can he become a top 1/3 quarterback? I think even his most ardent supporters should (do?) admit that this should be the measuring stick. I don't know what him becoming average proves, since all the scouts didn't just say that he couldn't play the position, but that you couldn't win a superbowl with him.

Either way, it should be interesting to see how he looks next year.

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:56 PM on January 15, 2012

All-Star Shake-up.

According to Dan Gilbert, some of what I noted was indeed on the owners minds. Interested to hear the Spofite's reaction to his arguments.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:36 AM on December 09, 2011

All-Star Shake-up.

A couple observations mixed in with what I'm reading on my twitter feed & other media:

I'm not sure if Stern made the right call here, but the NBA did just finish a lockout, which a big part of was the cry for "competitive balance." That elite players could still essentially force their way onto big market teams at will could be perceived as "nothing has really changed here." There's probably an argument to be made that such a concern is irrelevant, and it may be. All I'm saying is that a deal like this would expose what a complete farce that lock out was.

Plus, I think the joke of a deal LA-MEM did for the Lakers to get Pau wasn't forgotten by those other gm/owners; that really did screw over competitive balance for a few years. When you add to that the fact that there is a new batch of owners (many small market teams) who just invested a TON of money to buy their team, this might just be the 1st signal that the business of the NBA is changing. Again, it might not be right, but maybe the ability of players to dictate a lot of the league really will diminish.

posted by brainofdtrain at 11:11 PM on December 08, 2011

NBA Fines Heat Owner $500,000 for Twitter Posts

I actually like Arison's response, only b/c it is nice to any sort of honest opinion from someone in this process. While I'm not a Heat fan (or "pro-owner" in this lockout), i can imagine Arison truly is irritated that he's spent all this coin on the big 3 and gets to have some of the worst owners in all of American pro-sports cost him money and games. What a joke.

posted by brainofdtrain at 04:16 PM on November 01, 2011

49ers Crush Buccaneers 48-3, Improve to 4-1

Smith is definitely having a better year, but I've become convinced that QB success in the NFL is so dependent on the situation they are placed in, & few guys have had it worse than him throughout his career. I'm not saying he going to become Manning-esqe now, but I think with a good coach & structure in place now he might prove himself to be a good (not great) NFL qb.

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:18 AM on October 11, 2011

Brewers Beat D-Backs in 10 Innings, Advance to NLCS

Random contribution from a KC fan: good for Greinke.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:17 AM on October 08, 2011

Red Sox Pitcher Served with Papers by Yankees Fan

I might be naive here, but he could've served him at Fenway before a game he wasn't starting, right? The issue of whether Bedard's a good dad or not I can't comment on, but the timing seems pretty objectively underhanded-Bedard is probably in that clubhouse for several hours most days each week. Cabral does understand that these are issues that transcend what color jersey one roots for, right?

posted by brainofdtrain at 04:36 PM on September 21, 2011

Football Ref Attacked by Players, Coaches


This is bordering on being outright trollish. There are numerous ways to interpret the significance of that data actually, consequent on numerous variables in which the issue of race is interwoven throughout. Even if we try to leave that type of analysis out of it and look just at the numbers (a generous move given that we don't know anything about the controls of this "survey"), more important is the issue of why these numbers are so out of proportion, and what or who on a societal level contributes to that phenomenon; that is, unless you think skin color determines how violent someone is (common sense?).

I know this hurts your fallacious reasoning in the quest for an easy answer. Sorry.

posted by brainofdtrain at 05:26 PM on September 03, 2011

Carlton Fisk: Nobody Disrespected Game Like Deion

Defence is a broad category of niche players that do different things. Saying "tackle the man with the ball" is really glossing over the different roles that each position present.

Great point-this is why most people give quarterbacks a pass on blocking for running plays, attempting to make tackles on turnovers, doing the Peyton Manning "turtle move" as rcade described above. While I think we have to admit that even with that caveat it is hard to imagine why Deion didn't have more tackles, at the same time the fact that we make excuses for some positions while apparently giving no wiggle room for others makes little sense to me.

If you asked the old-timers what "quarterbacking the game the right way," looks like, it would involve more than turtling-anybody ever see clips of those early QB's? To me, unless you are willing to apply the rule across the board I don't get the criticism, because in football at least lots of positions don't play the game "the right way," the old-school way (even the play on the lines has been made significantly less violent). Why is Deion/CB's held to a different standard?

Also, Deion's lack of ability/effort in one area didn't seem to overshadow super bowl contending teams from pursuing his services-maybe they knew it was worth the trade-off.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:25 PM on August 28, 2011

Carlton Fisk: Nobody Disrespected Game Like Deion

He might have been the best ever if he hit anyone.

On the other hand, I'm sure his family is fine with how things turned out, rather than how it did for other players who were much better "teammates."

To be clear: Not a Deion fan by any stretch, but I wonder if the standard is always "did he maximize his potential," are we allowing our fandom to create some abstract standard of "he did things the right way" that is disconnected from the fact that these are also people with families and life to think about after football. I doubt these sorts of thoughts were in Deion's mind, but you have to admit that in his post-career days he seems happy, fit, active, and enjoying life. Better teammates can't always say that, and I wonder if that is a good thing.

posted by brainofdtrain at 06:57 PM on August 27, 2011

Gladwell on Grantland

Since this quickly evolved into people's views on grantland, here's my .02:

1) Somehow (maybe just in my own mind) the site got over-hyped. I think it is pretty good, and worth a daily check for interesting pieces, but so far it has under-delivered. I really enjoy Klosterman, so it will always be worth checking to see if he has anything new.

2) I think a lot of the hate stems from envy or fear. For example, while I'm not super familiar with deadspin, if i understand correctly grantland could potentially cut into their site's relevance somewhat. So even though grantland may not have lived up to the hype, it is still pretty enjoyable and some people's disdain stems from their agenda, not the actual content of the site. Further, sometimes people just dislike things out of spite when they see someone else get to do exactly what they want to for their job. Simmons gets paid (a lot) to fundamentally be a rabid sports fan (I've heard his friends call that his "brand"); who doesn't want that job?

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:41 PM on August 27, 2011

Pryor included in NFL draft, must sit out 5 games

The dark lord Goodell's reach grows.

posted by brainofdtrain at 08:15 PM on August 18, 2011

Bears refuse to bend to new kickoff rule, told by league to stop mid-game

I think changing the rules for safety concerns is wise, but some type of compensation for teams like the Bears & Browns who have tried to emphasize the kick return game seems fair. I have no idea how anyone could do that, but it does seem like this rule kind of negates a strength of a few teams, strengths that were developed before the rule change.

Someone on ESPN implied that this was Lovie not so subtly letting the league know he didn't appreciate how the new rule affected his team. Interesting theory, wouldn't surprise me if it were true.

posted by brainofdtrain at 07:46 PM on August 15, 2011

Dennis Rodman Joins Basketball Hall of Fame


Great link & website-thanks for the heads up.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:34 AM on August 15, 2011

Dennis Rodman Joins Basketball Hall of Fame

That was riveting. Not sure the last time I saw someone be that see-through. It was almost like he didn't have any awareness that he was on TV. I came away from that with more respect for him, b/c (a) he made no pretense about his failures, (b) he was honest about the "persona" or "image" he tried to create for himself, & (c) he helped me understand just how tough he had it growing up. So few actually find a way to overcome those obstacles. He's a person with a lot of issues and struggles, admitted as much, but fought his butt off and found a way-good on him.

This video is great too: if nothing else, watch the press clip that starts around 2:40 in ... how many guys want that award that bad? How refreshing. I'm a sucker for the rudy-type (I also didn't realize how undersized he was) stories where athletes find a way, so I came away with a new found respect for the guy.

Now here's to hoping he does continue to grow as a member of his family.

posted by brainofdtrain at 08:17 PM on August 13, 2011

How Perception Shrouds Reality

While Drew wasn't winning MVP's he did have some moments, & at the time was appreciated.

Wonder why it didn't stick long-term.

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:26 AM on August 02, 2011

US Hires Juergen Klinsmann to Coach Men's Soccer Team

Plus he was just a little too conservative in his thinking for me.

Yep, this was ultimately the reason why I think he had to go. Although I haven't been following the US men until somewhat recently, the common perception that the men played to not be embarassed or make a respectable showing rather than determined to win seems fair to me after watching the team for months now. Ultimately, a team's mentality falls on the coach.

posted by brainofdtrain at 07:55 PM on July 29, 2011

Woods and Williams part ways

Stevie-boy now has to deal with the fact that without Tiger he's just a dude carrying clubs and not some star he seems to think he was.

Unless Adam Scott suddenly goes on an unearthly tear. If that happens, then maybe Stevie does bring something special to the table. I'm not holding my breath on that though, given the parity in men's golf right now.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:26 AM on July 23, 2011

Woods and Williams part ways

I agree with your point rcade. To me, I wonder more about Tiger's rationale for this move; is it that he needs to shake things up, or that he's blaming others for his decline? A bit of both maybe?

posted by brainofdtrain at 07:24 PM on July 20, 2011

James Harrison Blasts Goodell, Roethlisberger, Others

Unreal, can't believe he made those comments. I guess it is all Ben's fault for the SB, since Harrison did so much with 1 tackle the entire game, and there are rumors that Ben played the 2nd half with a concussion. What an absolute joke Harrison is. And that is not even getting into all the off the field comments, which are even more offensive.

This is getting to the point that if the hallowed Rooney family is really as great as everyone says, they'll cut this guy loose. Seriously, let him go. Someone else will pick him up, so they don't have to worry about him finding work.

posted by brainofdtrain at 08:55 PM on July 13, 2011

Ombudsman: Has ESPN Learned from The Decision?

Cowherd (who I'm no big fan of for awhile now) has repeatedly made the point that the "hard core" sports fans will stay w/ESPN no matter what they do; they're always trying to reel in the more casual fan. That's why things like "The Decision" happen; hard core fans will watch standard coverage about where LeBron will play next; The Decision will rope the casual fan in.

I think we all understand this position; what Cowherd & ESPN don't understand is that many well-informed fans like rcade won't always stick around-there are other great options today for fans. I tend to think that the demise of ESPN's more objective journalism dimension is exaggerated, but reasonable minds can differ on this I suppose. The troubling thing with Doria's view is that your base is just that; your base. You lose them, you've lost your network. ESPN is not as invincible as they suppose. Probably a good idea to be a bit more introspective about how this was handled.

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:20 AM on July 12, 2011

Last-Second Goal Helps US Beat Brazil


FIFA eventually explained the retake had to happen because Solo "moved" before the kick-which from what I hear is totally false (I'll have to watch it again). Seems to me that FIFA was grasping for straws again to make sense of another poor call. The commentators were right in saying something to the effect that "technically it was encroachment by the letter of the law, but that is never called that tightly." So to me either way it was probably a very poor call, but as others here have pointed out, from a psychological perspective maybe it was the best thing that could have happened.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:00 PM on July 11, 2011

Fan Dies After Josh Hamilton Tosses Him Baseball

Without question, the primary target of sympathy here should be this man's family & friends. At the same time, while being involved in this is something i would not wish on any athlete, in a way it feels especially cruel for Hamilton to be the one involved, given what an up and down ride his career (and life) have been. Just one more thing for him to have to deal with.

The whole thing sucks.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:01 AM on July 09, 2011

Hard Lessons

Really enjoyed this article. As someone who has an ever-growing interest in soccer, it does seem that the fundamental posture is off in the US. I don't see the average American sports fan respecting an approach to competition that boils down to "let's just make sure we're competitive." Right or wrong, Americans always want to win, and I am guessing part of the lack of respect soccer sometimes receives here is tied to this lack of boldness. It seems that America is growing to love soccer as a country more and more, and it is time for the US to set its sights higher. I am sure there is much more work to be done than just a new mission statement, but it is a start.

posted by brainofdtrain at 10:29 PM on June 28, 2011

Dwyane Wade: My Life as a Single Dad

justgary, a few responses & pushbacks:

Fair point on Magic-point conceded there.

Also, Jordan did market himself, I can't argue with you there. Furthermore, I commented on spofi less than a week ago that MJ was not an angel, and that part of LBJ's problem is that he is not as insane as Jordan about winning, and that LBJ is getting punished in part for not being nuts like him. So all that to say that my glasses aren't completely rose-colored. Nevertheless, I think LeBron has still made this bed, particularly because what Jordan wanted to accomplish & what LeBron wanted to accomplish are very different things.

LeBron wants to become a global icon (his verbage). To do that, he has used the media unlike any other player in NBA history in my opinion (possibly with the exception of Shaq), and I maintain it is bunk to ask the media help you build your empire every step of the way & then act like a helpless lamb, looking to your cronies & fans to defend you, when that same media turns to scrutinize you with the same intensity with which you earlier used them build your empire. Can LeBron really make commercials with ESPN where he tries to craft an image of himself & his personality, & then act hurt when the media questions the very perception he asked them to help him create? I don't buy it. You don't want picked on by ESPN LeBron? Then don't go use them to market yourself, b/c then you've become you're own problem.

Let me put it like this: Can LeBron collaborate with ESPN on something like this & then blame them for critiquing him?

I think you might have a short memory and a case of 'back when'.

You're also referencing players from a completely different era, the last playing almost a decade ago.

I disagree with this for a couple reasons. (1) My first point was about Kevin Durant, a guy who proves the whole "LeBron can't help the media's obsession with him" wrong. There are others to name too; Dirk for one comes to mind. So no, I don't have a case of 'back when,' if by that you mean people can't avoid this stuff today. Many do. (2) A decade ago isn't that different in my mind regardless. Did Kobe really face less heat in 2003 for the sexual assault debacle? I don't think so. To be honest, I think this is just an excuse made for LeBron. When players show a significant flaw after using the media to build their own brand, then that same media will critique them vigorously.

So I concede some ground here, but I think my central point stands. If you want to build an empire LBJ, you have to do consistent branding, which can only happen through media outlets like ESPN. That's fine, but don't act like you're being persecuted when they critique you more harshly, since you were helping them craft the impossible standard for you to reach in the first place. Whether you're Bill Russell, Dirk, or Durant, it is pretty easy to avoid this kind of dilemma, and all of them did or have so far.

posted by brainofdtrain at 07:24 PM on June 11, 2011

Dwyane Wade: My Life as a Single Dad


Yes, in a sense. There is little doubt they had talked since the Olympics about playing together-they had two years to figure out how to not come across as arrogant and entitled. If Wade simply says "look LBJ, that is going to come across as pretty arrogant (which is was), I'm not going to that," do you think LBJ & Bosh go ahead with it? No, of course not, they would understand what the perception of that would be.

Wade himself said after game three that he "is the captain and the leader of this team." So, act like one and say "guys, we haven't won anything yet, let's not fire up the smoke machine and talk about winning 7 titles before we have a practice together." Leadership is more than just appearing on the cover of magazines after you have recruited two other great players to play with you, or spending several seconds rubbing in a threeball in front of the Mavs bench.

I don't understand why this is so complex. Don't fire up a smoke machine before you practice, don't focus on branding yourself 24/7, don't nickname yourself after superheroes or call yourself royalty (ever notice how we just call Bill Russell, Jordan, Magic, and Bird by their names, and not names like "the chosen one?"), and you have a 99.99% chance of being well-liked by fans. I'm not saying it is easy, I would probably fail miserably setting good boundaries and not buying into all the hype about myself. That said, I'm also not making millions of bucks, so I don't feel too bad for them.

posted by brainofdtrain at 04:03 PM on June 11, 2011

Dwyane Wade: My Life as a Single Dad

I believe, as unlikely as it may seem, that superstars by & large can avoid the press. Take Kevin Durant's recent contract extension as an example. Here is the two-time scoring champ, one of the most dynamic players in the league already, and likely a pillar of the game's appeal for the next decade, and what does he do to announce his "Decision?" A faxed signed contract, & a simple press release with no further comment. No one bugged him about it-got hardly more than 30 seconds on ESPN. See how easy that was? I get that KD isn't the player LBJ is yet, but if he focused on creating a "brand" to the degree LBJ has, his extension would have been a much bigger deal, but would also have required more than just a press release.

I don't buy the "leave Brittany alone" responses to all the criticism LeBron/Wade/the Heat have endured. Media coverage is a two way street. If you consistently give them little to no access, they leave you alone for the most part, even if you are great. They will have nothing to cover. But when you state publicly that you want to build a billion dollar empire, & have spent your career in front of cameras, you give implicit assent to getting constant coverage. I think it is naive & a bit arrogant to pretend that you can just pick and choose when the media covers you; they aren't just a tool for LBJ to manipulate to make money. When you have made yourself the story for years and things go south you can't put the toothpaste back in, because you were the one who helped create the narrative that it was always about you in the first place. In other words, quit playing the martyr card, because you helped create the monster.

At the end of the day I think each top-tier player has to decide how much of their career is actually about basketball, and how much is about creating a brand. It seems to me that the more you want to brand yourself, setting yourself up to be bigger than just the game you play, the more you open yourself up to media/fans focusing on, well, things other than basketball. The only reason why media/fans are scrutinizing LBJ so much is because he has encouraged discussions about him outside of basketball games for his whole career; to say that he is unfairly examined now because it isn't positive attention is laughable to me. I'll admit that the coverage has been over the top at times, but I think it is at least as much his fault as the media/fans.

Put it This Way: if LBJ throughout his career had handled major decisions in a manner analogous to how Durant handled his Decision, does anybody really think LBJ would be under such a microscope right now? I honestly don't, so to a large extent I don't feel sorry for him. I think Wade is a bit different, but again, no one made Wade appear on the cover of SI with a sly "I am such a genius for getting these two guys to come here" look, no one made him jump on the stage with the smoke machine, no one made him respond to criticism with the whiny "well, I guess the world's a better place now, cause the Heat is losing," comment, and so on. Do your required press conferences, say the same boring cliched answers, and then go away. It is possible-most of the league, including the top third of players talent-wise, do just that, and they enjoy being VERY wealthy and having a somewhat normal life. If you want to do more for whatever reasons (read: increase my brand to make more money), then live with the consequences of that.

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:34 PM on June 11, 2011

And so he leaves...

YYM & TheQatarian,

Thanks to both of you, makes sense.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:47 AM on June 08, 2011

And so he leaves...

But wasn't he allowed to play only if he sat out the 1st five games, which was based on the promise he'd come back for this year? I understand that given all that's happened to Tressel, keeping his word to him may seem less important. Nonetheless, from what I understand those were the conditions (the second implied, otherwise the penalty meant nothing) for him to play.

I'm not trying to be a hater, but I think technically at least it is an issue.

posted by brainofdtrain at 10:30 PM on June 07, 2011

And so he leaves...

An ESPN article says WR might be a better fit for him. I could see that working honestly, he's big, relatively fast, and athletic. They suggested that he could be the next Plaxico (hopefully for his sake that's the only way he is compared with Plaxico).

Should be interesting. One other question I had; should this affect their bowl victory last year?

posted by brainofdtrain at 08:16 PM on June 07, 2011

Rutgers Coach Wants to Replace Kickoffs

Wow, really interesting idea. Two initial thoughts:

(1) Isn't punt coverage relatively dangerous as well? I could see how it might be less dangerous than kick-offs, but is the difference that great?

(2) This might give certain teams a huge advantage late in the game. If your team has a prolific aerial attack, your odds of converting a 4th and 15 are probably much greater than converting an onside kick. If you have a power running attack, like G-Tech for example, it would be much harder to convert.

Regardless of those two potential concerns, I think this would make the game more exciting. I would kind of like to see how this works.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:24 PM on June 05, 2011

Mavs Comeback Stuns Heat in Game 2

Everyone always says it is unfair to criticize LeBron "at this stage of his career," but he is approaching a decade of professional play. I think people have gotten sustained criticism a lot earlier than that (fairly). I think that the "it is too early" card is about used up.

LeBron has almost doubled the average length of an NBA career now-how much longer do we have to wait? Ten, twelve, fourteen years? I'm not saying the intent behind the argument is invalid (b/c clearly this year could be the start of a lot of rings for him), but once he doubles the average length of a NBA career, I say that argument is over. For me personally, I think that we're there already.

posted by brainofdtrain at 07:33 PM on June 03, 2011

Heat Win Game 1 as Dirk Injures Finger

One other thing: as a KU fan, I'm not surprised that the much-maligned Chalmers was a factor last night. I get that he's not a great NBA player, but he never shied away from a big shot at Kansas (in fact I think he wanted to take the shot), and he doesn't now. For all his faults, the guy has ice-water in his veins, and relishes the moment. I agree with the school of thought that sees that as an unquantifiable yet real asset in Finals. While he may not score another point in the Finals, I could also see him hit a big three in game 6-7 if it gets there.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:13 PM on June 01, 2011

Heat Win Game 1 as Dirk Injures Finger

I could see 4 out of 6, but definitely not 4 out of 5. I agree mayerkyl, Thursday is a must win for the Mavs.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:05 PM on June 01, 2011

Pippen: LeBron's Better Than Michael

Why do you think he decided to become public enemy #1 and give up his place as the only star on the team, if it wasn't to win? I think winning's pretty heavy on his mind, given the fact he gave up a little money and some spotlight in order to play on a stacked team.

At the risk of sounding crass dfleming, have you heard about the kind of people who spend time on the beaches down there? Not trying to make LeBron sound like a jerk or anything, but I could guess at other possible reasons why he would like to live there.

Regardless, you make a good point. I think winning is part of it. To clarify, I was referring to how LBJ treats people/teammates. MJ, from what i understand, was so obsessed with winning that he wasn't above verbally undressing teammates in a spat of anger if they weren't producing (a more recent example of this was his induction speech-one of the most classless things a great athlete has ever done). LBJ, for all his faults, doesn't want to win so bad that he is destructive to people he is around.

Funny thing is, I'm not a LeBron fan, but I respect that he isn't so obsessed with winning that he treats his teammates like crap to the extent Jordan did at times.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:45 PM on May 30, 2011

Pippen: LeBron's Better Than Michael

One last thing: In a way, this whole argument is especially cruel to LeBron, because for all his faults it is clear that he doesn't see winning as the only reason for existence (like MJ), which is a healthier way to live. It also probably makes catching MJ harder. It is odd, sportsfans hate LeBron for not being insane.

posted by brainofdtrain at 06:04 PM on May 29, 2011

Pippen: LeBron's Better Than Michael

Fair point rcade, but at the same time I recently read that Pippen wasn't an all-star during the Bulls 1st title run, so technically if the criteria is championships relative to other stars on your team, LeBron basically conceded the argument when he took his talents to South Beach (Jordan 1, LeBron 0). Heck, even in Cleveland Mo Williams was an all-star. If you argue that was b/c of LeBron that's fine, but then why doesn't Jordan get credit for elevating Scottie's game, especially when Jordan was an all-star before Pippen (If I remember correctly).

My point is this: Would Scottie have developed into the player he was without the maniac known as MJ on his back everyday? Who knows, maybe, maybe not. I think the "Jordan had Scottie" pushback is valid, but people also tend to discount that MJ was certifiably insane about winning & to be on his team demanded every ounce of effort (I've heard Kerr talk about this). I think at best the amount of "help" they gave each other cancels out.

That said, could Jordan have won 5 more without Pippen, the one who was a top 50 guy in his own right? Doubtful obviously, but at that point we're back at guesswork (maybe the Bulls trade for another player, etc etc.) To me any argument that values rings LeBron cannot win, at least not yet.

Which brings me back to my 1st post (which I kind of just admittedly contradicted a bit): until LeBron's career is over, we won't know, so why the obsession? My gut (where the truthiness is) tells me that the media wants to move past Jordan more than anyone (the guy's not playing anymore, & not compelling to the next generation of fans), & they want to anoint someone to create a mythology for the next generation.

posted by brainofdtrain at 06:00 PM on May 29, 2011

Pippen: LeBron's Better Than Michael

Is it just me or does it seem like american sports culture has become so obsessed with putting a great athlete's career into perspective that we jump to conclusions? Why can't we let the process play out?

I'm not saying that these conversations can't be fun, but sometimes I feel like people put way too much stock into them. If LeBron has a spinal injury tomorrow, the debate is over. If he wins 8 rings, it is over. But either way, we just won't know until he is done playing, when we can assess it fairly objectively. We're working with incomplete data here.

Not trying to say this can't be a good sports debate, but it seems overdone in American sports now, particularly with the "who is the next Jordan/better than Jordan" debate. Am I crazy on this?

posted by brainofdtrain at 02:20 AM on May 29, 2011

Rice's Cheta Ozougwu This Year's Mister Irrelevant

It is funny, b/c KC kicker was MI last year; ended up being the starting kicker & kicking a couple game winners. For his sake I hope that Ozougwu continues undermine that title.

posted by brainofdtrain at 04:13 PM on May 01, 2011

Utah Plans Antitrust Lawsuit Against BCS

If there is one team over the past decade that might have a true gripe, it is probably Utah. We can argue whether or not they could've won a BCS title, but if a body of work spanning over decade isn't enough to get an opportunity, then something is wrong in my opinion.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:28 AM on April 22, 2011

High School Wrestler Refuses to Face Female


Trying to be empathetic & to think in developmental categories makes for an uphill climb in these type of discussions. I appreciate what you're trying to do, but unfortunately it is easier to just accuse one of justifying/endorsing someone's behavior than to really see the complex cultural forces that many here are expecting a 14 year old to navigate flawlessly.

Related example: I am taking a class that deals with subdisciplines within feminism (taught by a woman who associates with that movement) right now, & few disciplines if any are as fragmented as much of feminism is, particularly regarding what exactly is "good" for women, b/c practically every woman defines that term in unique ways. While as a man I can't claim to arbitrate that discussion, it has been interesting to me & has made me supremely suspicious of those who just want to write people like this kid off as stupid or a jerk.

If the smartest women in the world can't agree on how boys/men should treat girls/women, it is beyond unfair to beat up on a kid who probably hasn't even heard the word "feminism" before. Everyone relax. I'm not against critique, but let's put terms like "neanderthal" to bed.

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:07 PM on February 19, 2011

Four Celtics Make All-Star Team


Are there actual numbers for this? Not trying to attack here, it is just that I hear this a lot from the national media, but have never seen actual numbers. Of course THEY want a few juggernauts. it's a lot easier to do their jobs in that situation. It's a lot harder to cover 12 pretty good teams than three great ones.

I guess I'm just suspicious when I hear talking heads on ESPN make the argument you have; it smells self-serving. Especially when it becomes arguments like "the NBA is always better if the Lakers/Celtics are great." I get the historical importance of those franchises, but surely the fact that LA/Boston is also where most of the talking heads live is not a coincidence.

Last thing: my argument was for long term growth, not overall popularity in one year. I just really struggle to accept that a model where most teams have significant times of success and grow a tradition/mythology in their franchise over several decades is worse for long term growth than Lakers/Celtics rematches every year. I'm still on the cold meds though, so once again I plead for leniency.

posted by brainofdtrain at 11:13 PM on February 18, 2011

Four Celtics Make All-Star Team

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that tv ratings make for a rather short-sighted metric of league health. For example, even if the LA market is worth the MN/Charlotte/Pacer markets combined, isn't it better if all are competitive? LA fans will tune in if their team has a shot, as will the latter 3 markets when their team succeeds. But if LA is awesome, composed of 5 all-stars, their fans will watch, while the other 3 really won't if their only good player is Kevin Love, for example (I live in the Twin Cities, & you don't hear a ton about the Wolves).

I get that certain teams are national brands, but for people who aren't fans yet, what's the easiest way to hook them? I would think that the best way is to ensure that it is feasible for their local team to be good. It seems like the easiest way to continually expand (eg long-term picture) the NBA's influence involves setting up conditions where genuine parity is somewhat inevitable.

On the other hand, I'm a Celtics fan if anything, and am currently hopped up on cold meds, so maybe I'm off here.

posted by brainofdtrain at 10:45 PM on February 17, 2011