Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The NBA needs to relegate teams to the D-League

The Celtics beat the 76ers last night 105-87. It was the 22nd loss of the season for Philadelphia.

How bad are the 76ers? They're below .100. They're on pace to go 7-75. Fifteen NFL teams have more than 7 wins. Even the NFC South winner might win more than 7 games. And in baseball, 10 teams lost fewer than 75 times.

As bad as the 76ers are, they're only 2 games behind the 5-21 Knicks. The NBA cellar is cluttered with crappy teams. There are 6 teams below .300. Nine teams, including your Boston Celtics, have yet to reach double digit wins.

There is an incentive to play poorly in the NBA. The enticing allure of the draft lottery rewards bad teams. While the top 10 teams fight for playoff positioning, the bottom 10 fight for lottery positioning. Even if they're not tanking, the games are meaningless, especially when two basement dwellers face each other.

What would change that? What would not only motivate bottom third teams to win, but also add some interest and drama for the fans of those struggling teams? One word:

Relegation.

In European soccer at the end of the season the bottom teams in the league are demoted, while top teams from a lower level are promoted. In England, for example, the bottom 3 teams in the Premier League are relegated to the second tier league (called The Championship), and 3 teams from that level move up to the Premier League.

With relegation comes dramatically reduced TV money. And of course the top players don't want to play in the secondary league, so they leave. Stadium attendance goes down. It's a horrible fate that teams fight tooth and nail to avoid. Which is the exact opposite of how NBA teams at the bottom of the standings play.

The threat of relegation would make the bad teams at least try. It would also make make their games meaningful, especially when they faced each other. If the bottom 3 teams this season were to be demoted, the Celtics would currently stand 4.5 games clear of the danger zone. This proximity to danger would make their games much more relevant than they are now.

Oh, and if you get relegated, you don't get a top draft pick. The NBA wouldn't want its most talented and marketable rookies wasting away in a secondary league.

So I propose the NBA add 6 new teams for a total of 36, demote the bottom 9 teams from the current league, and then have a 21 team NBA, and a 15 team NBA Jr. No more east/west conferences or divisions, just 21 teams that play every other team 4 times (80 game season). At the end of the season the worst team in the NBA will be relegated, the best team in NBA Jr. will be promoted, the second and third worst NBA teams will play the second and third best Jr. teams in a single-elimination playoff, with the winner given a spot in the NBA. And for the draft lottery, NBA Jr. teams will be ineligible for the top 5 picks.

In the NBA the top 16 teams will make the playoffs, just as they do now. The 17th and 18th teams will be fighting for playoff spots but also fighting to avoid relegation. 19th and 20th will have to beat NBA Jr. teams to remain in the NBA. And 21st is automatically demoted.

The top NBA Jr. team wins automatic promotion. And the next 2 teams get a chance to join the NBA. We can even have 3rd through 6th play elimination series to determine the 3rd place team.

So instead of the 5 to 10 legitimate contenders with something real to play for (with the bottom 5 having something to lose for), we'll have about 30 teams, all with something to play for. Some teams contending for a championship, some to stay in the NBA, some to move up to the NBA.

Of course, this means that teams in New York and LA and Boston and Philly might find themselves being in a second level. But how is that significantly different from the NBA this season?

RELEGATORS...

Mount up.

Photo Credit:
The Revolving Door

Monday, December 15, 2014

Patriots get revenge on Dolphins

Bill Belichick was Captain Ahab, the Dolphins were Moby Dick. And unlike the climax of Herman Melville's famous novel this time Ahab caught the white whale. His crew then killed it, gutted it, and dumped its carcass in the sea.

The comparisons to the 2003 season are impossible to avoid. The Patriots played an awful game in Week 1 that year too, losing to Buffalo 31-0. Then in Week 17 they beat the Bills by the same score. The 2014 Pats similarly started their season with a turd of a game in Miami. Months later, they got a chance to show what kind of team they truly are.

The Pats dominated the 3rd quarter 24-0. But it was the first half where they won the game. It wasn't a pretty 30 minutes of football for the Pats. Less than 100 yards of offense, an interception, one drive that stalled at midfield, another that never got going. Ye the Patriots led 14-13 at halftime.

Jamie Collins' blocked field goal and Kyle Arrington's return was a 10 point swing on one play. Duron Harmon's 60 yard interception return set up an easy touchdown. Considering how the offense was sputtering, getting big returns off both those plays was crucial.

The first half was all about big plays on defense and special teams. The second half began with the offense making their presence felt. The opening drive of the half demonstrated the balance and flexibility of this offense. There were big pass plays to Gronk, Amendola, and Blount. Jonas Gray had some good runs. Brady "ran" for 17 yards, which pumped him up which in turn pumped up the crowd. Then Blount and the power run finished it.

The defense followed that by forcing a 3 and out. Miami ran 10 plays in the 3rd quarter, for 19 yards. The Pats' D forced two 3-and-outs, and caught an interception.

For the first time since 2004, the offense and defense are working together, building off the plays made by each other. They also cover for each other when either side of the ball struggles, like the defense and special teams covered for the offense in the first half.

The defense was excellent in this game. The Dolphins were 3 for 16 on 3rd downs. Four sacks (1.5 by Chandler Jones on his return), 2 interceptions, a blocked field goal, held Miami to 0 TDs in the Red Zone. No points allowed in the second half.

For the 12th time in the Brady-Belichick era, the Patriots have won the AFC East. In the first 40 years of franchise history before Brady and Belichick, the Pats had 5 division titles and 10 playoff appearances. Then they win the division 12 times in 14 years.

The Patriots have also won 52 of their last 55 regular season home games.

At the same time, winning division titles and regular season games is like buying a PowerBall ticket and winning the $5 prize. It's nice, but you want the jackpot.

It's on to New York, and a chance to clinch a first round bye. Which they can do with a win over the Jets. The Pats can clinch the #1 seed with a win and a Denver loss.

Photo Credit:
AP

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Army-Navy Game: the only thing about college football worthy of respect

I love watching college football. The crazy plays, the surprises, the suspense, the atmosphere, future NFLers playing alongside future insurance salesmen.

However, I do not respect college football. What the Army-Navy game has, the rest of college football lacks, and the absence of those things is why I have lost my respect for big time college football.

Army and Navy make respecting history a priority. Texas doesn't play Texas A+M anymore. Nebraska doesn't play Colorado or Oklahoma. The Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry is on hiatus, possibly returning in 2020. These historic rivalries are no more. Because of conference affiliations and money. History is a big part of college football, but respect for history is not a primary concern. It takes a backseat to revenue streams and endless conference realignments.

The Army-Navy game is top priority for both schools. Navy won't end the series because of an agreement to play ACC opponents 5 times a year. Army won't suspend the series because they join the Big XII. Army and Navy respect history and make that respect a priority.

The student-athletes are student-athletes. The academies are tough schools to get into. And they don't make exceptions to those who are gifted on the field but can't do the work in the classroom. The US Military Academy and the Naval Academy are schools first, and the schools support football teams. Unlike the big college football programs like Alabama and Oregon, which are teams that carry the school.

There are more important things than football on the campuses at West Point and Annapolis. The same can't be said about Tuscaloosa or Eugene or Norman or Ann Arbor.

The money doesn't control the programs. There won't be a non-profit "charity" that buys Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo a $3.1 million house. He does make $1.6 million a year, but there are 60+ college coaches making more than him. Army coach Jeff Monken makes $700,000, 93rd in the country.

There is money involved in both programs and in the game. CBS pays to broadcast it. These teams will gladly go to bowl games when eligible. But the money isn't the driving force behind every decision, as it is with other programs.

The programs don't allow the good of the football team to become a priority over basic human decency. Unlike Penn State, where football was more important than the safety of little boys. Unlike Florida State, where football (and baseball) was more important than finding the truth.

The programs don't put winning ahead of following the rules. USC, Ohio State, North Carolina, Miami, Oregon, Cam Newton, Reggie Bush. Recruiting violations, players making money, all happens under the noses of blind athletic departments. Even holier than thou Notre Dame took part in Manti Te'o's lying about his sick girlfriend, after he and the school learned he'd been duped and she didn't exist.

Moral corruption is as necessary to a big time college football program as state of the art locker rooms and training facilities.

Blissful ignorance is a prerequisite to be an administrator in the athletic department of a big time college football school. Deference to athletic departments and their ignorance is a prerequisite to be a high-ranking university official at these schools.

Finally, the biggest reason I don't respect big time college football but do respect the Army-Navy game is what happens after school. With the big time programs, even those who don't make the NFL have it made. A former Nebraska linebacker will get a cushy job at a car dealership in Lincoln because he had 100 tackles as a sophomore. Who cares if he doesn't meet his quota, he was the reason the Huskers beat CU (back when they played CU, now I guess Maryland would be Nebraska's rival?)

Meanwhile, an Army tackle will get a job commanding a platoon on a mountain in Afghanistan, a Navy cornerback will get a job as a Marine protecting an embassy in Iraq.

Cadets and Midshipmen face death, loss of limb, loss of peace of mind. Former Sooners and Tigers and Ducks and Wolverines face getting their drinks paid for by alumni and no student loan payments. They face NFL contract negotiations. They face reporters approaching them 5 years after they graduate, asking about the violations that were finally discovered at their schools.

Graduates (if they do actually graduate) of the big time programs live in a country made for them. While Army and Navy grads risk their lives to MAKE that country for all of us.

Go Army. Go Navy. You've already beaten big time college football in everything that matters.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Red Sox assemble a rotation of mediocrity and question marks

Thursday morning the Red Sox didn't really have a rotation. By sundown, they had one. Unfortunately it's a mix between mediocre innings eaters and unpredictable question marks who might win 17 games or fail to make 17 starts.

Wade Miley and Rick Porcello are painfully uninteresting and average. Miley is a gray Nissan Maxima and Porcello is a beige Toyota Corolla. They just blend in. There's nothing thrilling about them, but they're not bad either. You don't covet them, but you're happy to have them.

I actually like each of these acquisitions. Each of these guys is decent, or has the potential to be good. The individual moves are fine. It's the mediocrity of the rotation as a whole that enrages me. The Boston Red Sox, one of the premier teams in baseball, with tons of money to spend, don't even have a legit #2 in their rotation? Really?!?

Embarrassing.

Wade Miley is a 28-year old lefty. That means in 2 years he'll be too old for the Red Sox to consider good. He went 8-12 last year with a 4.34 ERA in the National League. The most impressive part of his resume is that he's pitched 190+ innings the past 3 seasons. To be fair, he did play in a hitter friendly ballpark in Arizona and that seems to have had an impact on his numbers. He had a 5.61 ERA at home and a 3.17 ERA on the road. Eighteen of the 23 homers he allowed were at home.

But Fenway is hardly pitcher-friendly. He's a middle of the rotation guy whose fastball peaks at 91. I'm not impressed, I'm not disappointed.

Rick Porcello was acquired by trading Yoenis Cespedes to Detroit. So he's essentially the parting gift the Sox got for losing Lester. Porcello had the best year of his career in 2014, with a 3.43 ERA and 15 wins. He has post-season experience, but it isn't good. His good 2014 numbers might be the start of a new trend in his career. If so, he could turn out to be a good #2 starter. Or his 2014 performance might be an aberration and he will revert to the 3/4 guy he has been for most of his career.

That small question mark is nothing compared to Justin Masterson, whose unpredictability rivals Clay Buchholz. Materson's career has been a roller-coaster ride. A 3.21 ERA in 2011, 4.93 in 2012, an All-Star in 2013, a 5.88 ERA in 2014. In 2015, who knows? He could be good, he could be awful, he could find his way to the bullpen.

So as of Thursday afternoon the rotation looks like this:

1. Buchholz - the definition of uncertainty
2. Porcello - could be a good #2, could be a #4 in a #2 slot
3. Miley - innings eater
4. Kelly - on the team by default
5. Masterson - might improve the bullpen

This is the Boston Red Sox. This is a big market team with money, history, prestige. And THAT'S the rotation?!?

Imagine the potential playoff rotation. Buchholz facing the other team's ace, Porcello against a legitimate #2, Joe Kelly pitching in a possible elimination game. That's if Buchholz is healthy or effective. It might be Porcello, Miley, Kelly, with Masterson starting a game 4. Yikes. At least Miley will eat up those playoff innings. That's what you want in a short series: question marks and innings eaters.

Imagine if they signed Lester back in March. This is what your rotation might look like:

1. Lester
2. Buchholz
3. Porcello
4. Miley
5. Kelly

Maybe you don't get both Porcello and Miley. Who cares. You put an ace or a semi-ace up at the top, and it looks so much better. Especially in a playoff series. You depend less on Buchholz being healthy/effective and on Porcello bringing his 2014 success to 2015.

Everyone in the rotation should be given a number with 3 in it, because that's what most of them are.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Did the Cubs overpay to get Lester, or were the Red Sox too cheap to pay a premium for good pitching?

Jon Lester has reportedly signed with the Chicago Cubs for 6 years and $155 million. The deal includes a vesting option for a 7th year at $15 million. The Red Sox' final offer to reacquire their former #1 pitcher was worth $135 million, also over 6 years.

It's important to note that in March, the Sox offered a 4 year deal to Lester worth $70 million, essentially half of what they offered him in December. Even though they very vocally believe that 30+ year old pitchers aren't worth that kind of money. Except when they are.

Are Theo and the Cubs paying too much for Lester? Toward the end of the deal he'll be north of 35 years old. By then he might be a worn down #3 or #4 starter collecting $25.8 million to make 20 starts a season and to struggle to keep his ERA below 4.50. So it's stupid for the Cubs to pay so much money for that. It's also smart for the Red Sox not to. Or is it?

Top of the line, proven starting pitching is so difficult to find and so necessary to win, that you have to pay a premium to buy it. It's like paying for parking at a Sox game. There's so little of it available, that you shell out a wad of cash to rent a few square feet of asphalt for 5 hours.

Here's another comparison. The amount of money you spend for a beer inside Fenway. You drop $8, $9, even more because a baseball game without beer is a form of torture so cruel they didn't even use it to interrogate detainees at Guantanamo.

Beer at a baseball game is necessary, so it costs more. Parking at Fenway is rare, so it costs more. Quality pitching is something both necessary and rare, so it costs a lot more.

The Red Sox were willing to pay a premium for that quality pitching, just not as much as the Cubs were willing to pay. But don't mock the Cubs for eventually paying a 36-year old pitcher $25.8 million, or praise the Red Sox for their financial prudence. Your Sox were willing to pay the same guy $22.5 million. That $3.3 million difference is probably how much panda related revenue the Sox will be hauling in per season.

Making fun of the Cubs and praising the Red Sox for this would be like going to Fenway, buying a $9 Bud Light, and making fun of the guy who spent $10 for a Sam Adams.

Just a few days ago, the Sox seemed to have a win right now approach to the off-season, spending $22M/year for Hanley Ramirez and $19M/year for Pablo Sandoval. To win right now, however, you need pitching. And the Sox have none of that. Clay Buchholz isn't just your "ace," he's the entire rotation.

Is it dumb to spend $155 million for Lester? Which is dumber, spending that much for an aging pitcher, or having Clay Buchholz be your #1 starter?

There's still pitching available out there. But at a cost of big money and/or top prospects. With Lester off the market, the supply of quality pitching has decreased, yet the demand/need remains the same. If the Sox don't want to pay the required premium for that pitching, then maybe Sox fans should learn a lesson from them and be prudent with their money, and maybe not pay the required premium for parking or beer at Fenway. Or for tickets.

Photo Credit:
Frank Gunn/AP

Monday, December 01, 2014

Patriots not so super in possible Super Bowl preview


I didn't expect the Patriots to win this game. On the road against a very good and very unfamiliar opponent. Winning on the road has been tough for nearly the entire NFL this season. The Pats are now 3-3 on the road. The mighty Packers are 3-3, so are the Cardinals, the Eagles, and the Broncos. Only 2 of the 8 division leading teams, the Bengals (4-2) and the Colts (3-2), have winning road records.

Give credit to the Packers for playing a great game, and making the big plays. That touchdown before halftime was huge, that sack of Brady in the 4th was huge. The Packers made game-winning plays like those, the Patriots didn't. They almost did. That 4th and 3 conversion was a big play. Gronkowski nearly made a near impossible touchdown catch that might have won the game.

This game doesn't make me think less of the Patriots, or their chances to make a deep playoff run. They played like crap, dug themselves a hole, and were still a play or two away from winning anyway.

I do have two big criticisms of how the team played this game. They were woefully underprepared to deal with Aaron Rodgers rolling out of the pocket. It took the defense too long to make adjustments to this. My second criticism is that despite how clear it was that Brady wasn't going to have enough time to wait for plays to develop, long-developing plays were still called.

Brady didn't have a bad game. He didn't have a great game. His time to throw was limited. Yet the offense still tried, repeatedly and with no success, for big plays down the field. I blame McDaniels and Brady for this, and Belichick too. Short and mid-level throws to Edelman, Gronk, Wright, and Lafell were working. The long pass attempts were wasted downs.

I have mixed feelings about how the defense did in this game. They held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 26 points. Green Bay came into the game averaging 43.8 points per home game, so allowing 26 is good. At the same time, the Pats allowed 478 yards. Green Bay was 10 for 17 on 3rd downs. And if not for a drop, the Packers would have scored 33 points.

The Patriots defense didn't lose this game, but they didn't do much to win it.

The offense lost this game. The scoreless 1st and 3rd quarters. Only 32 yards in the 1st quarter, 42 in the 3rd. This game was supposed to be a shootout, and for long stretches the Pats' offense was firing blanks.

Of all three teams on the field, the team of officials had the worst game of all. One of them couldn't count, there was a play that the refs weren't set, Browner was called for the slightest violations, but Revis wasn't flagged at all despite some close coverage, a blatant OPI was missed, and I don't know why pass interference wasn't called on that pass to Gronk in the end zone. The definitions of rules changed throughout the game. I'm sure Ed Hochuli will lift his embarrassment away as he always does.

It's on to San Diego. The Chargers are a legit team, 5-1 at home (and yet another team that is 3-3 on the road). This loss to Green Bay emphasizes how important homefield advantage can be, so the Pats need to take care of business in their remaining 4 games to ensure that they don't play any post-season games on the road.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ten years after the day after the Red Sox won the World Series

Thursday October 28, 2004. It was sometime around 2 in the morning in a dorm room, in a college town in Upstate New York. My body didn't feel like sleeping and my mind didn't feel like I was in New York. I was wide awake and my heart was in Boston. Hours after the Red Sox had won their first World Series in 86 years, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't stay put, I had to go home. And so did two other Massachusetts expats in my dorm, one from North Reading, the other from Newton. So that night/early morning, we made the 350 mile drive home.

I could wax poetically about the sun rising on a new kind of Massachusetts that day, but I'll skip all that. We had finally won the World Series, and it was a completely new kind of feeling as a sports fan.

In retrospect, we Red Sox fans had spent years torturing ourselves, in a Calvinistic hope (give credit to Dan Shauhgnessy for the comparison between Sox fans, and the predestination believing religious folks who colonized Massachusetts centuries earlier) that with each painful experience, we would somehow be rewarded with greater amounts of joy if, AND ONLY IF, our team ever won. The more pain we went through on Earth, the greater joy Heaven would bring. That was the hope.

I'll come back to that torture/reward thing later. Returning to October 28, 2004...

I got home just as the morning commute was peaking. The Sox were the only story on the local news. The plane carrying the newly minted Champions landed at Logan. There were videos of grown men in business suits with briefcases, running alongside the team bus on its way to Fenway, jumping up and down for joy. There was a massive parade and I took the first Red Line train into Boston to get a good spot for it.

That unadulterated release of joy was something that had been building inside of us fans for years, even decades. And with each heartbreak, with each close call, with each Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone, the frustration built up. As the frustration and need for release increased, so did the feeling of gratification and joy that would be felt if we ever attained that release. In other words, we Sox fans had a terrible case of Blue Balls.

2004 was the epic release of that frustration, and also that joy. No sports moment will ever feel like that again.

That's why we no longer live and die with each pitch. That's why Red Sox fans went from religious zealots, to the people who only go to Church at Christmas and Easter.

John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and the Fenway Sports Group didn't help. Continuing the religious metaphor, imagine being the Pope the year after Jesus Christ came back to Earth. How would you get people fired up about anything?

You'd probably renovate the Vatican, and hire a bunch of high-priced Bishops and Cardinals (Renteria, Drew) to get people's attention.

I'll give Fenway Sports Group all the credit in the world for breaking The Curse. I'll also criticize them for not understanding what Sox fans were feeling, and still now not understanding how regular fans feel about this team. We couldn't have the same cultish devotion to the Sox after all our prayers had been answered. Henry and FSG didn't get that.

They didn't get a lot of things.

The same owners who hired The Epstein also chased him out of town. Twice. The same owners who hired Terry Francona also hired Bobby Valentine. The same owners who renovated Fenway Park also lied about sellouts and we still can't figure out why. Every 2 years they seem to acknowledge their mistakes and change their philosophy, and yet somehow they maintain a smug arrogance as though everything they do is right.

And perhaps most vexing of all, they kept Jerry Remy but dumped Jenny Dell. Giggly analyst who enabled his woman-beating son vs. attractive sideline fluff reporter who still had more interesting things to say than Remy.



Seriously? NESN and the Red Sox decided to take her off the TV screen. Good call, guys.

Everything changed after the Red Sox won the World Series. Red Sox fans changed. We went from anxiously anticipating an overdue release, to being normal fans of a normal big-market baseball team. Ownership didn't want our fandom to change, though. They wanted the same rapt attention, the same hopeful highs and desperate lows. It's like we fans were bipolar before the Sox cured us by winning the World Series. Yet the owners still wanted to prescribe us Prozac and Paxil.

We didn't want that after 2004. We just wanted a baseball team. And that's all I want now. We don't need to have owners and GMs who spend on JD Drew but skimp on Jon Lester. We don't need lavish ceremonies where lions are released and someone pulls the string on Kevin Millar's back so he says something country.

We just want a baseball team. Please.

Photo Credit:
Jim Davis/Boston Globe

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Patriots-Jets Drinking Game: Thursday Night Football (sucks) Edition

I've had enough of Thursday Night Football. If the Patriots aren't playing, I tend not to care about it at all. If the Pats are playing, it throws off my whole week. You're supposed to watch the game Sunday, digest the result on Monday, analyze it on Tuesday, see where it stacks up in the big picture on Wednesday, start looking ahead on Thursday, then enjoy the beginning of the weekend Friday. Then the weekend ends with football on Sunday.

Thursday Night Football doesn't fit in. And it double-screws fans who go to the game, since they can't properly tailgate without leaving work early, and can't get properly lubed up without taking Friday off.

If you're going to play this drinking game, it will do more than throw you off your rhythm. It will incapacitate you 60+ hours, until the remainder of the NFL games are played Sunday afternoon.

Anytime a commentator says:
"Rain" or anything weather related = 1 drink of beer
"Thursday" = 1 drink
"New" = 1 drink
"Divisiona(al)" = 1 drink
"Rival(ry)" = 1 drink
"East" = 1 drink
"Rex" = 1 drink
"Line" = 1 drink
"Coach" = 1 drink
"Dante" = 1 drink
"Logan" = 1 drink
"Revis" = 1 drink
"Island" = 1 drink, preferably something tropical
"Injury" = 1 drink
"ACL" and/or "MCL" = 1 drink
"Hoomanawanui" or any variation of it = 1 drink


Anytime this is on screen:
Puddles or running water = 1 drink
Someone in a raincoat or poncho = 1 drink per coat
Foliage = 1 drink for every color of leaf you can see
A pumpkin = 1 drink. If drinking a pumpkin flavored beer, you must finish it
A graphic with pictures of Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick = drink the entire time the graphic is on screen
A graphic with quotes = drink the entire time the graphic is on screen
A Patriot player getting injured, live or on film = 1 shot of liquor
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink for as long as he's talking
Bill Belichick = 1 drink
Rex Ryan = 1 drink, plus a goddamn snack
Belichick and Ryan on split screen = half a beer
Ryan and Belichick shaking hands = 1 shot
Danny Amendola = finish your beer


Anytime this happens:
A penalty flag = 1 drink
A bad penalty flag = 1 shot
Touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff return = drink for the duration of the return. For bonus points, drink 1 second for every yard the return gained
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = half a beer
Michael Vick = no drinks, but if you have a dog, give it a good belly rub and pat yourself on the back that you're a good pet owner
You're mesmerized by how white Rex Ryan's teeth are = 1 drink, then swallow a shot of Listerine
Josh McDaniels gets too cute with play-calling = 1 shot
Chandler Jones makes a big play = 1 drink
The Patriots go no huddle = 1 drink per snap
Brady points out the "mic" = 1 drink
Brady says "Alpha Milk" = 1 drink, bonus points if drinking a White Russian
Brady and a receiver aren't on the same page = 1 drink
You're worried that Edelman is hurt = 1 drink
You're worried that Gronk is hurt = 1 drink
Brady throws to someone not named Julian or Rob = 1 drink
That person catches the ball = another drink
Brady gets hurried = 1 drink
Brady gets hit = 1 drink, 1 shot
Brady gets sacked = 1 drink, 1 shot, snort a line of painkillers
Vince Wilfork makes a big play = 1 drink
Wilfork forces and/or recovers a turnover = 1 drink, 1 shot
Wilfork returns a turnover for a TD = 1 drink, 1 shot, eat a turkey leg
You realize that the Kansas City Royals are in the World Series, and it's the first time that's happened since the Super Bowl Shuffle = drink something that's 29 years old, or drink 29 ounces of something heavily alcoholic


Get lubed up responsibly, stay dry, and enjoy the game

Monday, October 13, 2014

Time to rename Columbus Day, let's call it Viking Day

As far as historical figures go, Christopher Columbus is probably the last guy who deserves an entire day devoted to him. We all know about exploitation and killing of Native Americans. That's all been said by annoying people who want to rename this day "Indigenous People's Day," as if that will atone for centuries of wars and broken treaties.

What really pisses me off about Columbus getting his own day is that his historic significance is a result of his colossal, towering stupidity.

In 1492 most educated people knew the world was round. The Greeks had figured it out centuries earlier, and had even accurately calculated the size of the Earth. Columbus dramatically misinterpreted those calculations, and thought Japan was much farther away from China, which was based more on hope than on science.

Columbus convinced himself that his voyage from Spain to Japan would be 2,300 miles. It would have been 12,200. And no ship built in 1492 could carry enough food and water for such a long journey. Had Columbus not bumped into the New World, he and his men would have starved. They probably would have resorted to cannibalism, and the voyage of 1492 would go down in history as a horror story, alongside the Donner Party. Christopher Cannibalumbus.

Even after Columbus' great discovery, he was too much of a close-minded fool to admit he'd found a new continent, and never acknowledged that the Americas weren't part of Asia. That's like Neil Armstrong telling people he'd landed on the North Pole. This great discoverer didn't even know he had discovered something.

And as far as genocidal European conquerors go, Columbus wasn't very good at his job. He ruled his new colony as a bloody tyrant, brutally punishing both Natives and Europeans alike, even for just speaking against him or his family. For this Columbus was removed as governor of the West Indies. He was fired for brutality by the people who were running the Spanish Inquisition.

So he was a bad but lucky navigator/explorer. He was too stupid to realize his own discovery. He was a bad governor. And his own people hated him. Yet we here in America have a day for him. Doesn't make sense.

Instead of honoring Columbus, we should honor Vikings. Let's change this holiday to Viking Day! And here's why:

Vikings were the first Europeans to make the trip, and they did it 500 years before Columbus.

Vikings were honest about their pillaging. They didn't justify it by claiming they were spreading religion. Columbus saw himself as spreading his religion as he had people tortured and killed. Funny, that's how ISIS see themselves these days. Columbus=ISIS. ColumbISIS.

Fewer protests and arguments. Obviously Native American groups and the legions of white celebrities and grad students who think they speak on their behalf, would have less to complain about. And I don't think Viking-Americans would get offended. Furthermore, if your ancestry is Scandinavian, British, French, Irish, Russian, you probably have some Viking ancestry too. They even went to Spain, Sicily, Turkey, all over Europe. You can be racially offensive about your own race and/or the race of the majority. Those are the rules.

Finally, Viking Day would be more fun. We could all dress up as Vikings. Adults could drink heavily in large drinking halls, or prowl the coastline in longboat booze cruises. Children could "pillage" their houses for toys and treats hidden by their parents. It would be a Nordic St. Patrick's Day. So much better than the boring Columbus Days we have now, which are just an extra 24 hours to rake leaves.

So let's do some exploring and discover Viking Day!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Keep Calm and Brady On: Patriots fans need to mellow out and enjoy this roller coaster season

I can't take credit for the slogan "Keep Calm and Brady On," but then again all of those "Keep Calm and..." shirts and posters you see out there are fairly unoriginal, so even the people who came up with them aren't very creative.

Patriot fans do need to keep calm. They need to keep calm about embarrassing defeats. They need to keep calm about inspiring triumphs. This team is going to be wildly inconsistent. They will look amazing in one game, one quarter, one drive, for one play. Then they'll look awful for a game, a quarter, a drive.

And with the right attitude, inconsistency becomes drama. It becomes something that can be enjoyed as entertainment.

But Pats fans seem so joyless. Even when the team wins, unless it's a flawless victory, the fans worry and fret, troubling themselves Monday through Saturday. They then spend their Sunday (or Monday night) yelling at the TV. That's no way to go through life.

Pats fans need to have more emotional maturity about this team. As do pundits and writers and sports radio morons. I was expecting the radio yesterday to be full of cautious optimism. "This was a great game, but it's just one game," type of sentiments. Instead everyone was either drooling over this game, or they were being defensive about their histrionics from the previous week, which they spent dismantling the Patriots and speculating that Brady would be benched because Belichick had "Lost the quarterback."

People in the media rallied around Trent Green, who berated the Patriots for not spending money (a just criticism, but Trent didn't do much criticizing of his Baltimore Ravens for how they handled the Ray Rice situation, in fact Trent praised them_.

The truth lies somewhere between the "Brady and Belichick are at war" camp, and those who think that "everything is awesome."

The truth is that this team is good but flawed. This team has talent and holes. They're entertaining to watch, if you let yourself be entertained.

There's at least a sliver of hope for this team. It's not a big sliver. They have many issues, and they match up poorly against a number of teams. There are greater tragedies in life than seeing your favorite football team win ONLY 3 championships.

The hope, and the entertainment value that Pats fans are choosing not to enjoy, are the envy of a number of NFL cities. I'm not saying you should be satisfied with losing. I am saying you should at least enjoy exciting football games.

And if you can't find a way to enjoy watching a team that has a chance to win, a team that can make exciting plays, a team that plays dramatic games. Then I don't know why you watch sports.