The Scourge that is Sports Talk Radio

WEEI

Sports media sucks. In particular, sports talk radio sucks. That isn’t a revelation, but with the August 2009 advent of 98.5 FM “The Sports Hub”, a second daily sports talk station in Boston (the first being WEEI AM), area sports fans are subjected to double the amount of inane babbling and self-aggrandizement about sports (which, in the end, mean nothing). Aside from The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich, who are clever and imaginative rock radio DJ’s who had a successful gig at WBCN before it switched formats to a sports station, basically everyone on sports talk radio in the city of Boston makes me want to drive my car into a tree. Every time I listen I hear the same stupid bullshit from the same morons. Here are the things I dislike the most about sports talk radio, in no particular order:

- The use of “Again”, “Look”, and “Listen!” by the hosts.

I swear every third sentence begins with one of these three words. Sports talk radio hosts, trust me: it doesn’t make your points any more salient and it doesn’t make you sound more authoritative when you say these words. Here’s an example of how ridiculous it sounds.

“Again, I think the Red Sox would be better off trying to trade Josh Beckett to the Angels. I mean, look, they have a great lineup, but you need pitching to win in this league. Listen, Beckett gets a change of scenery, maybe he gets it together, and if you can pry a Trout or a Trumbo away from them, I feel like you have to make that deal.”

(Sports talk radio hosts also say “an Ortiz” or “a Garnett” or “a whoever” an awful lot.)

Usually, when the host starts one of his tirades with “Again”, he hasn’t even made the point he’s supposedly reiterating in the first place. And who are they talking to? The evening hosts on both stations have solo shows, so they’re firing off ridiculous sports soliloquies with endless “look”s and “again”s to an audience that isn’t present to argue with them (except for callers, who we’ll discuss shortly). It’s just a really weird crutch that they think makes their point stronger or more legitimate. It doesn’t.

- The self-seriousness of the hosts.

I’d like every sports radio host to remember that in the end, you’re a shitty sports radio host. You go on the air and get paid to babble on for four or five hours about fucking sports. Stop taking it so seriously, and stop taking yourselves so seriously.

A recent phenomenon has been the sports talk “comedian”, who does bits and cracks jokes throughout the show. I don’t mind a host trying to create a niche for himself and trying to gain an audience. It just seems like the bits and the jokes are always painfully lame, and the host and the producer and the interns and everyone else crack up on the air, trying desperately to sell what they’re doing. Stop trying so hard. Stop laughing at your own jokes and trying to create your own dumb memes, and stop doing callbacks to your own dumb memes that no one understands because they had the sense to tune them out in the first place. Comedians need timing and material. If you have neither, recognize that and talk about sports.

Also, we have a wave of ex-athletes on the radio and on TV now. Most have acquitted themselves decently well on television (with the notable exceptions of Emmitt Smith and “Fuckface” Mark Schlereth). Some have done well on radio also. Here’s the thing. Fans are much more likely to listen to a noteworthy and unquestionably successful player than a mediocre one, even though both played the game. Boomer Esiason has a popular radio show. He’s also a four-time Pro Bowler and he won an MVP award. He commands respect. Scott Zolak, midday co-host on 98.5, was a shitty backup quarterback for a few years. He doesn’t.

Zolak played professional football. I know he was really, really good at it at one point. He also knows more about football than I and probably all of the listening audience ever will. You’d think that he’d be able to take that knowledge and we’d get a decent radio show where we might learn a couple of things and he might have some interesting thoughts on the game. Instead, he puts on this weird tough-guy broseph façade and yells at everyone the whole show. It’s awful. I feel like the loudmouth party guy blowhard is his self-created shtick to carve out an audience for himself on the radio, which is a shame, because otherwise we might have gotten something thoughtful. To the vast majority of ex-athlete radio show hosts: you weren’t very good. Stop taking yourselves so seriously and please stop yelling.

-  The propensity of the hosts to say stupid things.

Radio hosts will say anything if they think they’ll get one more rating point out of it. Yes, this is indeed shocking, but I’d hope there’s some room for reasoned analysis. Hosts either fan the flames of public opinion and try to spark more conversation by agreeing with the prevailing idiotic line of thinking, or they’ll purposely troll the listeners and say outlandish things to trigger discussion that way.

Recently, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz was diagnosed with esophagitis. We really didn’t know why, though the early line of thinking was that this was caused by taking too much Advil or aspirin. Of course, the radio shows went into a frenzy. Why was he taking so many pills? Was he abusing them? Does he have an alcohol problem and he was taking them for hangovers? After all, he was in that “I Like Beer” video and he hangs out with Lackey, Lester and Beckett!

Buchholz gets treated for his mild condition, is released from the hospital, and then attends a charity event that I’m sure he had already committed to. At Foxwoods (GASP!) Sponsored by Stoli vodka (ZOMG!) The sports media had a god damn field day. 98.5 evening show host Damon Amendolara (whom I generally like) said, and I’m paraphrasing, “You don’t think he would go to an event like that and not drink, right?” Well, yeah, I do. I’d like to think he’s not a complete fucking idiot, I don’t think you have to drink just because the sponsor is a vodka company, I wouldn’t assume he’d be eating Whoppers all night if the sponsor was Burger King, and I don’t think he’s evil. It’s just insulting to the listener. Be rational, even if others aren’t.

There’s also no accountability for anything the hosts say. If they make a prediction and it comes true, they’re geniuses and won’t hesitate to gloat about it for hours on end. If they’re wrong, it’s never mentioned, listeners who call him on it are cut off, or he claims he was “misheard” or “never said that”. Christ, it’s sports, not politics. I’d love a radio station or TV network (hell, I’d settle for one show) devoted to measured analysis and discussion of sports and not bombastic jackassery.

- The burying of teams by stations that don’t carry their games.

The Red Sox are awful right now, but it’s not something we’re delighting in. It sucks. We like the Red Sox. So when 98.5 tells you in every segment just how horrid they are and shits on every single thing they do (even starting before last year’s September collapse), it’s annoying. It’s also transparent. They don’t have radio rights to the Red Sox and their competitors do, so they bury them as much as they can.

WEEI does the same thing to the Bruins. Listen (oh no, I’m doing it now too), we like all of the teams. We don’t give a shit what radio station they’re on. Take them to task when they falter, but don’t do a jig about it.

- 98% of the callers are pea-brained half-wits.

By definition, people who call into these shows are dipshits. But sometimes, they’re colossal fucking morons. It’s hard to believe this, but the callers make these shows worse. Here’s your stereotypical caller:

Thick Boston accent, which often sounds a little artificial and showy; argument for the stupidest possible trade or roster move; facts generally wrong or missing some vital piece of information that renders entire point useless; usually parroting whatever the host said, the most recent newspaper hatchet piece on a player, or most recent public opinion; no original thought; ends with “I’ll hang up and let you guys talk” (gee, thanks).

Sometimes a caller offering up a ridiculous notion only to have it buried by the host is great sport, but usually it’s just grating. Perform better vetting. Call screeners: If you hear that thick accent or they’re not articulating their points well, hang up! Let’s raise the discourse!

- JL

NWC Jeez Rankings – May 24, 2012

1) The Villa Restaurant

If you’ve watched a Boston sports event on one of the local channels in the last year or two, chances are you’ve seen a commercial for the Villa Restaurant, an Italian slophouse in Wayland, MA. The commercial has never changed. We see old people entering the restaurant, we get close-ups of the dopey-looking cooks and waitstaff (including a woman who couldn’t look more Boston), we see the slop on the stove, and we get a wide view of the restaurant that makes it look more than ready for Restaurant: Impossible. But don’t take it from me. Take it from always-helpful and always-dissatisfied Yelpers:

ML B.: “Again, just because you have steamer tables, and can boil water, and throw some canned sauce together, but have fresh eggplant, doesn’t a restaurant make.”

Pizzaioli G.: “The restaurant is mediocre and the food uninspired. The Villa is busy, but that’s because most people wouldn’t know good food if it hit them in the face.”

Eric N.: “We should have turned around when upon entering the restaurant.  There was an odor, smells like dirty locker room… I ended up eating PB&J when I got home.”

I’m sure the people who own and operate the Villa Restaurant are nice and are trying their best. I’m sure the people who work there are the same. But when I have to watch a commercial twelve times a game for a restaurant I’m never going to go to in a town I’ve never been to, it starts to get annoying. Cut back on the commercials. It’s not like anyone is going to drive out of their way to go to your shithole for a half-assed chicken parm when they can get one anywhere else. (Jeez Level: 7)

2) Roger Goodell

The NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, are constantly in the sports news for suspending players, levying fines, and mandating this thing or that thing. Goodell has been ridiculously protective of the NFL brand and anything that might threaten it, which means that we get willy-nilly rule changes that emphasize safety and fine players for large chunks of money with little forewarning or explanation.

Goodell’s in-season rule changes and decisions on hits (the league consistently suspends and fines players based on hits that were not penalized during the game and expects that its players will be able to fundamentally change the way they play football week to week) are annoying enough. The fact that all appeals on his decisions go back to him – and you can guess how that goes – is also frustrating. But now he may have hit a new low.

2010 was an uncapped year in football. That means that, technically, football teams were able to spend whatever they wanted (I realize there may be particular details of this that I’m not privy to, but that’s the gist of it). So, essentially, the Cowboys and the Redskins did just that. And Goodell fined team owners Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder, respectively, with breaking the rules of the salary cap. Huh?

It was announced on Wednesday that the NFLPA is filing a collusion lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that a secret $123 million salary cap was in place for the supposedly uncapped 2010 season. Good. Enough is fucking enough. I’m sick of Goodell’s ham-fisted rulings being a perennial story every NFL season and I hope the NFL gets what it deserves here. Also, fuck you for making me have to side with Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder on something. (Jeez Level: 9)

3) NBA referees

I know that complaining about NBA officials has become akin to talking about airplane food or reciting the “More Cowbell” sketch. NBA officials suck. We all know this.

However, the foul calls in Tuesday’s Heat/Pacers Game 5, particularly the flagrant foul calls, made absolutely no sense. Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough went up for a block on the Heat’s Dwyane Wade and scratched him above his right eye. It was a hard foul, but the refs immediately called it a flagrant-one foul, which is more serious and gave Wade two free throws and the Heat possession of the ball. It wasn’t a flagrant foul.

Minutes later, Heat player Udonis Haslem absolutely slammed both arms into Tyler Hansbrough’s face. It was obviously retaliatory and obviously intentional. It was also ruled a flagrant-one foul, though it was a far more dangerous play. The NBA then suspended Haslem for game six, but because the disciplinarians in the league are pussies, they also upgraded Hansbrough’s foul to a flagrant-two, even though the upgrade will not carry a suspension, it wasn’t even a flagrant-one foul, and none of this makes any sense.

I know I was just complaining about Goodell’s heavy-handedness with the NFL and here I’m asking for the NBA to come down harder on Haslem (which they eventually did). But in reality, I’m asking them to get it right. It’s not that hard to look at both plays and see the difference. Click the link above and do so yourself. (Jeez level: 7)

4) Apologizers in sports

Everyone apologizes too much these days. We’re all so worried to offend someone or hurt someone’s feelings, and for some reason we demand that anyone who slips up offer countless apologies to atone for their non-transgression. Or maybe we don’t demand it. Maybe the media does.

Let’s go back to Pacers/Heat. Game three, LeBron James on the free throw line, end of the game. He misses. Pacers players are happy. Bench player Lance Stephenson makes a choking motion with his hands to his own throat. He’s signifying that LeBron is a choke artist, you see (and he’d be right).

The Heat are upset. The NBA’s answer to Piltdown Man, Juwan Howard, calls Stephenson out and tries to start an on-court dust-up with him during warm-ups before game four. Various Heat players and media morons throw around words like “dignity”, “class”, “doing things the right way”, and all that other bullshit that really has no place here because who the fuck cares. And what does Stephenson do? He apologizes! Get the fuck out!

Did humanity demand this apology? Did sports fans? Do we really give a shit that a Pacers bench player taunted LeBron? Did anyone get angry? Or did ESPN and the sports media keep talking about it for twenty-four hours and succeed in creating a completely manufactured controversy about next to nothing? Honestly, fuck Lance Stephenson, simply because he apologized. If I was a pro athlete and the media called me out for something so trivial, I’d tell them to get fucked. (Jeez level: 9)

- This week’s Jeez Rankings were written by JL.

IAP$: Why Mustard is the Soccer of Condiments by Donald Duyskavic

It’s Actually Pretty Money (IAP$): Mustard

Mustard. When it comes to mustard, I think you’ll find that many people of various ethnicities and nationalities probably would agree with me.  Ketchup is definitely the more widely used of condiments here in the states.  Heinz alone sells 650 million bottles of ketchup annually.  But, I would attribute that to the amount of sugar that is in ketchup.  It’s essentially all sugar.  I mean, who doesn’t like sugar?  Just ask a two year old, or my friend Brendan Leonard.  Ketchup is great if you are a plain Jane or child.  But, as far as pure taste, delicacy and consistency are concerned, mustard is where it’s at.  It is healthier too: Nutrition-wise, a serving of mustard (1 teaspoon) has less than 20 calories. No sugar, no fat, and only 55mg of sodium.

Mustard comes in so many more flavors and varieties to match the occasion: yellow mustard, honey mustard, dijon mustard, spicy brown mustard, brown sugar and pecan mustard, sesame ginger mustard, sweet mustard, hot mustard, apple mustard, lemon mustard, apricot-ginger mustard, cranberry mustard, curry mustard, horse radish mustard, habenero mustard, chipotle mustard, bar-b-q mustard, English mustard, Dutch mustard, German mustard, Russian mustard, beer mustard, Jack Daniel’s mustard, etc.  What about ketchup?  It’s pretty much Heinz Ketchup or bust.  Also, what’s up with the whole catsup thing?  Catsup?  Ew, gross.  No thanks.  Way too confusing.  I don’t like to eat condiments that have multiple spellings.  It’s almost as if mustard is the Soccer of condiments.  While Americans prefer ketchup because it’s basic and sugary taste, the rest of the world (and smart people here in the U.S.) enjoy the plentiful and delicious varieties of mustard.  Do you know why?  It’s actually pretty money.

- Donald Duyskavic

 

It Starts at the Top: Donald Duyskavic on the Pittsburgh Penguins

On February 11th 2011, a little over a year ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders had a regular season game that resulted in a record setting combined 346 penalty minutes for both teams.  It was an embarrassing affair to the NHL.  There were 65 penalties assessed, including 15 fighting majors and 21 game misconducts.  Three players were suspended (one Penguin and two Islanders) and the Islanders organization received a $100,000 fine.  The Penguins ended up losing 9-3.  They let in four goals in the 1st period, four goals in the 2nd period and one goal in the 3rd period.  They lost big time.

Apparently, Mario Lemieux was not satisfied with the fines and suspensions levied by the NHL.  On February 13th 2011, two days after the game, Lemieux published an open letter to the NHL in which he publicly criticized the league:

“…What happened Friday night on Long Island wasn’t hockey. It was a travesty. It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that.  The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed.”

Lemieux continued:

“We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players.”

And then, my favorite part, as Lemieux threatens to leave the NHL:

“If [the events of the game and the ensuing suspensions and fines] reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it.”

Oh, boo hoo.  Do you know what kind of people threaten to leave when they don’t get their way?  Spoiled brats.  Keep in mind that the day Lemieux published this letter, he had Matt Cooke on his roster; a goon of mammoth proportions who had a demonstrated history of targeting opposing players’ heads and playing like a dirty SOB.  Cooke had been in the league for ten years before the Penguins signed him.  They knew who and what they were getting.  Doesn’t Lemieux’s criticism of the “travesty” in Nassau Coliseum seem inconsistent with the way he ran his own team?  So, that February 11th 2011 regular season game was a such “sideshow” that Lemieux has to question whether or not he wants to walk away from the NHL, yet he has one of the dirtiest, most head-targeting-ist and most goonified players on his very own roster?  Psh.   Let me say that again and elongate it for greater emphasis; pppssshhhhhh.

Regardless of Lemieux’s hypocrisy, he openly criticized the NHL.  Not immediately after the game to broadcasters, not in the post game presser, but TWO FULL DAYS after it happened.  In other words, Lemieux had time to think about it.  He didn’t blurt it out in the heat of passion.  He had time to think about it and write it and post it to the internet.  Jeez, say what you will about how right Lemieux was; he still openly criticized the league.  You’d think that would require a fine of sorts, right?  Nope.  It’s Lemieux.  It’s the Penguins.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  Nothing.

For the sake of comparison, let’s consider the 2012 Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.  The Rangers ended up winning 3-2, but not without controversy.  In the post-game presser, New York Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella questioned the officiating in the Winter Classic.  Specifically, Tortorella questioned a play during where New York Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan was clearly hooked on an open net opportunity, but was called for holding the stick.  Had Callahan scored on this open net the Rangers would have gone up 4-2 and the game would essentially have been over.   Tortorella was fuming and criticized the officiating after the game and said:

“I’m not sure if NBC got together with the refs…I thought the game was refereed horribly…Maybe they wanted to get it to an overtime. I’m not sure if they have meetings about that or what. But we stood in there. They’re good guys. But in that third period, it was disgusting”

It was pretty dumb of Tortorella to say that.  He questioned the integrity of the NHL.  Tortorella had to know that a fine would be coming.  And come it did.  All over his face.  Tortorella was fined THIRTY THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS.  The NHL explained:

“There is no acceptable explanation or excuse for commentary challenging the integrity of the League, its officials or its broadcast partners,”

Wait, what?  Hold on…Didn’t Lemieux say;

“We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game…If [the February 11th 2011 game and ensuing penalties]…reflect the state of the NHL, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it.”

The very intent of Lemieux’s letter is to challenge the integrity of the NHL.  That’s the point.  That’s why he posted his letter.  That’s why he threatened to “re-think” his association with the NHL via the Pittsburgh Penguins.  $0 fine.  Two full days after the game.  $0 fine. Tortorella complains about a play within minutes of it happening and gets fined $30,000! So Lemieux just has an open mic? He gets free reign to say and do what he pleases without any repercussions?   And Tortorella gets utterly blasted and Lemieux gets absolutely nothing?

Picture in your mind, a spoiled child who complains and moans until he gets his way.  And it works.  He gets his way.  When some time goes by and the kid faces adversity (i.e., things not going his way) he will likely fail in the face of the challenge.

Let’s fast forward fourteen months to the present, where the Penguins recently got owned by the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  In game five, the Penguins exuded the same petulance and arrogance that was exemplified by Lemieux’s letter and subsequent lack of disciplinary action.  The Penguins acted like spoiled brats because they didn’t get their way.  They plated dirty and targeted opposing players’ heads.  Again.  And it happened when they were losing a game that was out of reach.  Again.  Aaron Asham cross-checked Brayden Schenn in the throat.  Craig Adams pulled Scott Hartnell’s hair.  James Neal tried to take out Sean Couturier with a blind side hit and then proceeded to clearly target Claude Giroux’s head.  And perhaps the most egregious and bratty, “wah wah give me way or I’m going home” move, Sidney Crosby knocked Jakub Voráček’s hockey glove away as Voráček bent over to pick it up.  Talk about a “sideshow” or a “travesty”.  What a petulant little baby.  What an utterly gutless move.  The best part is that this is nothing new for the Penguins.  Playing dirty and literally acting like babies is what they do when they lose.  Just look back a year ago at the brawl and what Lemieux said.  The cycle repeats itself.

Perhaps Lemieux will make good on his threat from February 2011.  Maybe it’s time to make a decision as to whether or not he should continue to be a part of the NHL.  The fact that the Penguins lost in the opening series and, more importantly, the way that they lost should make Lemieux feel embarrassed.  The Penguins have a lot to think about this off-season.  Starting at the top.

- Donald D. Duyskavic

 

A Place in Hell: People Who Constantly Look Backwards When You’re Walking Behind Them

I live in and do most of my business in Boston, which is by most metrics a crowded metropolitan city. And as a human being, I often walk places. It would seem to me to be a fundamental fact of human existence that there are usually other people around.

Despite this, I encounter many people every day who act chagrined, annoyed, puzzled, or even scared that you happen to be in their vicinity. The scenario: you’re walking about eight paces behind a random city-dweller (man or woman, doesn’t matter). You’re walking at a decent clip, because you just got out of work and you want to get the fuck home and eat your turkey sandwich and watch the latest reality show where some British guy turns around a failing pawn shop. You’re walking steadily, but you’re walking at the same pace as the person in front of you, and you’re not rushing up on them or gaining on them in terms of distance. What happens? Every twenty steps or so, they turn around and look back at you, presumably to make sure you’re not going to kill them.

What the fuck is this? It’s Copley Square in broad daylight. I’m not a murderer, chill out. They look back at you like you’re an inconvenience. You’re somehow making their walk stressful or not enjoyable simply by being there, because they feel like they have to worry that you’re going to form tackle them from behind and cut their ears off. The walkway isn’t yours. I’m here too. Sorry.

There are a few techniques I’ve seen. The first is the simple turn of the head, very quick, hoping you don’t even notice. The walker doesn’t break stride but just takes a peek back for assurance that you’re not an immediate threat. The second technique is the stop and look; the walker does a few quick head turns, then when they feel they’ve been spotted, they come to a full stop, turn around, and stretch their necks to look beyond you to show you that the reason they’ve been turning around is because there’s something they’re really interested in really far away. The final technique is my favorite: the walker has given in to fear, they stop entirely, and they let you walk by before continuing on. Because if I was a killer, I totally couldn’t turn around and do it.

If you’re so worried or annoyed by other people walking near you, maybe you should move to Montana or Tajikistan or somewhere else where you can roam around for days without fear of happening upon another person. Go to hell.

- JL

Rich Slate: Let’s All Go To The Movies, Or Not

Let’s All Go To The Movies, Or Not

It hit me sometime in the past few weeks, while I’ve been bombarded by non-stop advertisements on television for the new The Three Stooges movie (which looks absolutely dreadful), what has happened to the motion picture industry in the United States? Maybe it’s just the natural progression of me getting older (ie. crankier), but I feel like Hollywood is at one of its real low points in terms of making quality, original movies in my lifetime.

There once was a time when sequels or prequels were reserved for the true classics: like Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Godfather or Leprechaun. Well, now it appears that any film that finishes in first one week at the box office automatically gets the green light for a sequel. Grownups 2? Sure, why not? An American Pie reunion film, 13 years after the first installment came out, makes sense to me. I shudder to think how many more Hunger Games and Girl With the Dragon Tattoos sequels the world will be subjected to, based on the popularity of the adapted-book’s release. And don’t get me started on the Twilight series, one of the real downfalls in recent literature and by extension, cinema.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the Farrelly brothers (Providence College’s finest) decided to remake a comedy-Three Stooges, one that’s wildly outdated (the television show was in black and white) and probably irrelevant to anybody under 50 years old. Hey, at least they got some big names to appear in it though. Oh wait, real comedic talents like Jim Carrey dropped out or declined when they realized what a stinkbomb it would undoubtedly turn out to be. Still, it’s got Sofia Vergara in it (big boobs and crazy accent!) and Larry David gets to dress up as a nun (wild!), so I’m sure it’ll be an Oscar contender in 2013.

Speaking of The Oscars, perhaps nothing speaks to the utter drought of film-making ability in this country at the moment than the fact that the movie that basically swept the awards in February was a silent film in black and white from France (The Artist). I wish I was kidding but as the saying goes, truth is stranger (or in this case, more depressing) than fiction.

I realize that part of the point of The Oscars is for the academy to show off their high-fluent taste in movies, but give me a break. It would be one thing if I didn’t care about films but I really do. One of my favorite activities is either going to a movie theater or sitting down and watching a DVD or something on TV. It’s one of the rare human experiences where you can truly lose yourself for a few hours into another world completely different from the one you take up residence in. Like a good concert or sporting event, you can’t put a price on that. Movies can evoke any range of emotions: laughing, crying, anger, fear and everything in between. Where else in life can you count on that? So, pardon me if I beg off from seeing Titanic 3D, it’s just not my thing.

- Rich Slate

Richard Slate is a 28-year-old sportswriter and native of Beverly, MA. He enjoys walking his dog Cody, watching sports, going to concerts and trolling people on Twitter (@RichSlate). 

“In the world of professional sports fandom, few creatures are lowlier than the ambiguous fan.” – A commentary by Don Howard

In the world of professional sports fandom, few creatures are lowlier than the ambiguous fan.  This species of creation can be discerned from its undying allegiance to remote and rival sports franchises.  Upon first impression, it might seem that the “Donny” sports fan, who attempts to weave his way into sports related conversation despite the lack of any knowledge on the matter, is more offensive.  But closer consideration reveals the opposite.  Often, ambiguous sports fans are well-informed, knowledgeable, and even insightful.  The ambiguous sports fan should thus be held to a higher standard.  In viewing the acts of treason that ambiguous fans commit, it then becomes apparent that they are at best negligent, and perhaps even malicious.

In order to avoid being annoyed by the ambiguous sports fan, it is first vital to classify the type of fan the person is.  Only then can you take the appropriate measure.  The following includes some helpful tips towards identifying and mitigating the idiocy of ambiguous sports fans.

Notably, the genus takes several forms, the first and perhaps most deplorable of which is the:

“Have Your Cake and Eat it Too” fan

This moron generally supports all of the major local sports franchises, with one exception.  (E.G. a person from Boston who pledges allegiance to the Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, and Yankees).  What makes this idiot particularly loathsome is the lack of consistency that can be discerned from team sports discussion.  After months of annoying you about the triumphs of the New York Yankees, he unabashedly expresses his mutual fondness for the New England Patriots, as if he suspects that early onset dementia has suppressed your recollection of his innocuous declarations of “27 Rings!” which had occurred daily during the eight previous months.  This insulting act is the reason that the Have Your Cake and Eat it Too fan is widely considered the most deplorable of all ambiguous fans.  By way of analogy, this scum-of-the-earth would deem it reasonable to fondle your mother in front of you and your dad and subsequently act offended when he didn’t get invited to your Christmas party.

Solution: It is vital that one not indulge the unreasonable demands of this fuck stick.  Unfortunately, all too many people are willing to turn their backs to their perverse allegiances.  DO NOT INDULGE THEM! Dignifying this douche’s commentary will leave the person feeling accepted, and like a homeless bum at a food pantry, it will come back for more. Thus, the moment you are able to classify the Have Your Cake and Eat it Too fan, explain to him that he is a hapless imbecile.  If he subsequently approaches you in an attempt to bond over Tom Brady being declared player of the week, be prepared to tell them to fuck off.

Application:

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too Fan: “Hey, did you see the Celtics game last night!?”

You: “You’re a Yankees fan.  Please don’t represent yourself as Celtics fan, and please stop enjoying their games. More importantly, your acts of treason have resulted in you being forced to abdicate any interest in their accomplishments.”

This exchange should result in you being left alone.  If, however, he persists in making sports-related conversation, it may be appropriate to resort to more direct measures.

Example:

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too Fan: “Hey, did you see the Celtics game last night!?”

You: “Fuck off.”

The “311” Sports Fan

A different, but related, idiot is the 311 Sports Fan.  There comes a day in the life of most middle school-aged adolescents when they realize that 311 is terrible.  This is a natural and excusable right of passage; what is important isn’t so much that you had a poster of Nick Hexum over your bed, but that you recognized your lapse of judgment and took action to correct it.  But for some, this day of recognition never comes, resulting in cursed souls wandering the earth for the rest of their days, living in a detached reality where “Amber” is a good song.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not restricted to the world of shitty music.  Like his mutually undeveloped cousin, the 311 fan, the 311 Sports Fan never awakens from his infatuation with the sports franchises that he supported before ever having received a hand job.  Generally, 311 Sports fans tend to support the most accomplished franchises of their youth. For example, a 311 Sports fan from my generation might support the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Bulls, and Pittsburgh Penguins.  But, it is important to note that like the multiple nausea-inducing lead singers of 311, the 311 Sports Fan might support teams for reasons other than their long-since-passed dominance.  For instance, there are rare breeds of 311 Sports fans who have continued their support for teams for which they had no reasonable justification for supporting in the first place – think a 30 year old Suns fan whose favorite player was Kevin Johnson.

In some ways, the 311 Sports Fan is more offensive than the “Have Your Cake and Eat it Too Fan.”  His cherry-picking approach undermines the one redeemable quality of caring about sports: sharing interests and memories with your friends and family.  Growing up, I was a huge Atlanta Braves fan.  I could not get enough of the likes of Mark Lemke, Jeff Blauser, Sid Bream, nor could my lust for Skip Carey’s witticisms be satiated.  But along the way, something happened: I turned eleven.  The cognizant recognition that all of your loved ones and friends tend to bond over the local team generally debases one’s love for remote sports franchises – GENERALLY.  For some unidentifiable reason, the 311 Sports Fan refuses to have, or act upon, that recognition.

It is thus somewhat unclear whether the 311 sports fan is a selfish douchebag, an underdeveloped simpleton, or both.  One theory is that 311 Sports Fan views himself as a rebel-without-a-cause type; that is, he is above being coerced into society’s expectations of sports fandom.  The rebel-without-a-cause theory thus necessarily assumes that the 311 Sports Fan is predominately a selfish douche. Still others posit that the 311 Sports Fan feels as if he owes an allegiance to the sports franchises that he supported during his youth, despite the lack of any reciprocal allegiance, nor any recollection of the four or five games he watched on basic cable before he was trusted to wash his own dick.  Regardless, at least the 311 Sports Fan doesn’t annoy you by trying to justify his existence through attempting to bond over teams that you support.

Solution: Unfortunately, there are no great defenses to the boobery of the 311 Sports Fan.  One needs to consider that in regards to fandom, the 311 Sports Fan has been dismissed as a clown since the age of 14.  Indeed, when it comes to being called a dunce, the 311 fan, unlike the Have Your Cake and Eat it Too fan, is a calloused veteran.  Thus, telling him to fuck off may only provoke him.

In my experience, one should employ a strategy of ignoring the 311 Sports Fan.  However, he might interpret the fact that you haven’t called him a shithead as acceptance.  In such circumstances, an indignant sarcastic remark is appropriate.

Please note that ignoring 311 Sports fan can some times work too well.   I’ve personally observed 311 Sports Fans who not only inexplicably support random sports franchises, but vehemently beat the failings of local sports teams into the ground.  Such behavior indicates that a particular 311 Sports fan is an acutely abysmal moron and that society thus tuned him out some time ago. This fan will therefore seize any opening to discuss sports, but will not yield any points of contention.  Avoid talking to this moron at all costs.

Application:

311 Sports Fan: “I’m telling you man, Aaron Rodgers will match Brady in rings.”

You: “Yeah, I don’t know, maybe.  I actually used to like the Packers too, but then, my favorite show used to be Muppet Babies.”

- Don Howard

Get Bent #1: Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon

Get Bent is a recurring column here at Nobody Would Care. It provides a forum for the staff to rail against any figure or issue that raises their ire and provides an opportunity to educate, and more than likely horrify, the readership. Our first installment comes from the rarely apologetic Mr. M. 

Established in what now feels like the ancient age of 1920, the National Football League really did not begin its precipitous rise to being America’s most-watched sport until the AFL-NFL merger of 1970. Once the two leagues came together as one, the stage was set for massive growth due to expansion and lucrative television contracts with the three major networks at the time: CBS, NBC and ABC.

It was during this period that the federal government was most heavily involved in the affairs of the nascent American football super-league. In October 1966, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle testified before Congress seeking antitrust law exemptions for the proposed new league. Although Congress did allow for these exemptions, it became clear that the most powerful lawmakers in the nation would forever have their eyes turned towards the new National Football League.

One such episode in the history between Washington and the NFL occurred in late 1972. At the time, every NFL game (regular season and playoffs) was blacked out on television in the home team’s market. This was by design, to encourage fans in NFL markets to attend the games in person in order for pro football to avoid becoming, as Rozelle repeatedly termed it, a “studio show.”  In modern terms, imagine a sold-out Gillete Stadium preparing for a playoff game between the Patriots and the Steelers. Despite the fact that the game is sold out, if you aren’t inside Robert Kraft’s gridiron paradise in Foxboro, you will not see the game. This very thought should encourage many to ingest cyanide capsules.

This was the way of the NFL and television leading up to Christmas Eve 1972. The Green Bay Packers were set to visit Washington D.C. to play the Redskins for a divisional-round playoff game at RFK Stadium. As was the norm, the game was scheduled to be blacked out in the Beltway much to the dismay of Redskins fans and several politicians. One of these disgruntled politicians happened to be the President of the United States, Richard Milhous Nixon.

Despite his many flaws (dishonesty, graft, racism and paranoia among them), Nixon was a dedicated football fan. And, like any football fan, he was a bit pissed that he wouldn’t be able to watch a playoff game on Christmas Eve from the comfort of his couch with a glass of scotch. So on December 19, Nixon placed a called to Attorney General Richard Kleindienst instructing him to get in contact with none other than Pete Rozelle. In tapes released this past February, Nixon told Kleindienst the following:

If you make the move, for these playoff games, we will block any—any —legislation to stop anything else. I will fight it personally and veto any —any—legislation. You can tell him that I will veto it. And we’ll sustain the veto. … Go all out on it and tell him he’s got the president’s personal commitment. I’m for pro football all the way, and I think it’s not in pro football’s interest to allow this to build up because before you know it, they’ll have the damn Congress go all the way. We don’t want Congress to go all the way.

In laymen’s terms, Nixon wanted it to be known to Rozelle that if he lifted the playoff blackout rules, then the regular season blackouts of all home games would be upheld with personal intervention by the White House. Through the prism of history, nobody should be surprised in the least by such attempts at collusion by Richard Nixon. If you have ever read All The President’s Men, the investigative account of the Watergate scandal, then this particular chapter in Nixon’s presidency will probably seem tame by comparison. But that said, it just goes to further establish a pattern of behavior that Nixon always acted in the best interest of Richard Nixon and those around him. The man was almost as self-centered as Kim Kardashian (Well almost. The woman is a menace and I can only assume that she will be the focus of a future “Get Bent” column).

In the end, Rozelle politely turned down Nixon’s overtures and decided to take his chances with Congress when the time came. Less than a year later in 1973, Congress passed Public Law 93-107 which prohibited television blackouts of NFL games in home markets as long as the games were sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff. This rule is still in effect today, although a group of fans known as the Sports Fans Coalition has successfully petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for a review of this rule. If you care to show your support for their cause, please visit http://endblackouts.com/ to share your frustrations with the rule.

Although Rozelle’s commitment to preventing the NFL from becoming a “studio show” was just in the 1970s, the times have changed. The NFL is primarily consumed via television in the 21st century as ticket prices and the other costs associated with attending an NFL game in person are far too high for the average fan. Besides, would you rather stand out in the cold in the 5th deck barely seeing the game, or would you rather sit on your couch and watch the game on a massive flat-screen television?

Fans in Cincinnati, Jacksonville and (until recently) Detroit, have really taken the brunt of this punishment in recent years due to the abject mediocrity of their teams. If you know the Jaguars are going to get smoked by 20 points when the Texans roll into town, would you pay hundreds of dollars to go to the game? I know I wouldn’t spend my hard earned money, money that goes about as far as a 200lb third-grader in a sack race at field day in this economy, on something as frivolous as witnessing my favorite NFL team get pounded into dust by a superior franchise. So I sincerely hope that the FCC does the right thing and repeals the home blackout standard established in 1973. But as this is the FCC, I won’t hold my breath. Rest assured, I will be keeping an eye on this situation and will be sure to pen a “Get Bent” column should the FCC fail to overturn this legislation.

But in closing, Richard Nixon tried to screw NFL fans over permanently with his proposed back-door deal with Rozelle in 1972. Nixon clearly thought that the office of President of the United States would be used well to ensure that he could watch a playoff football game from the comfort of the White House. Do I blame him from wanting to watch the game at home? No, and I don’t believe that there are many out there that would. But the fact that he was brazen enough to propose the trading of political favors for television programming is disturbing. I’m not naïve enough to believe that similar things don’t happen hourly in Washington today, but using the power of the highest office in the land for something as trivial as this illustrates that Nixon believed himself to be invincible. The events that would unfold in the months afterwards with the emergence of the Watergate scandal would prove to Nixon that he was quite the opposite.

Despite the fact that Nixon passed on in 1994 and it’s impolite to talk ill of the dead, I wish his corpse was on display somewhere so that I could visit that site, kick his carcass a couple of times and then use his face as a doormat and wipe my shoes on it. Ideological differences aside, if you try to take my football away from me I’m going to be violently upset at you. As working Americans, the escape that the NFL provides every Sunday is imperative to the sanity of millions in this country. And Nixon tried to make it so that home blackouts of EVERY game would be ensured if Rozelle played ball? There is no layer of hell brutal enough for Richard Nixon, even that 9th layer where Satan and Judas are damned to spend eternity according to Dante in the Inferno. Perhaps I’m being irrational, but I am a huge fan of the NFL, so the fact that I would act irrational on this subject should have already been clear. So Richard Nixon, enjoy the searing heat and having a pitchfork getting shoved up your ass for the rest of eternity you miserable piece of shit. From myself and NFL fans everywhere, GET BENT!

- Mr. M

A Place in Hell: People Who Hold the Door Open for You When You’re Thirty Yards Away From It

I’m talking about those supposedly upright citizens who impose upon unwitting fellow citizens the duty of jogging to a door being held open from a distance or more than two normal strides. These passive-aggressive door-holding misanthropes usually perform this unsolicited bit of courtesy with a closed-mouth half-smile/half grimace, subtly exasperated at your indolence in reaching the door. Invariably, white headphones fill their ears, rendering them deaf to the forced gratitude which the door-holding elicits.[1] And for that person leisurely approaching an entrance, upon seeing a door being held open, he/she must then accommodate the door-holder by doing a pantomime of a jogger, which consists of awkwardly bobbing your torso and arms without actually walking any faster. Frequently if I see a door being held open for me at an uncomfortable distance, I’ll fake that I just got a text or call, diverting me from my presumed path, and forcing me to linger outside until the door-holder gives up and slinks away. In those situations I consider myself the winner of that little unspoken social contest. I choose not to analyze what it says about me that I see in an innocuous gesture a highly charged battle between two feuding citizens.

In fact the whole convention of holding doors open as a courtesy ought to be scrapped regardless of distance considerations. I much prefer opening the door on my own schedule and resent being beholden to the door-holder, and I am also convinced that society would generally be more efficient if this “courtesy” ceased, with positive implications on our GDP.



[1] On a somewhat unrelated note, now that every well-adjusted pedestrian puts on headphones immediately upon entering a public space, what is everyone listening to that I don’t know about? Seriously. And this question comes from a person who listens to music and podcasts at a healthy clip. Do people like music that much more than me? I feel like other commuters see me as some kind of social deviant when I ride the train to and from school without anything in my ears.

- Gorman Dupee

An ATM, Rodent Control Apparati, and Double Rolls – Argyle Convenient Store in DC

Argyle Convenient Store sits on a prominent corner atop a hill in Washington D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Across the street is a yoga center — with the cute title, “Past Tense” — a liquor store that displays a broken bottle from the August earthquake, a dry cleaner, and an alley that serves as a hideaway for drunks. From this position, where three roads converge and pedestrians are at times stranded on a traffic island at their confluence, the view down the gentle slope is one of the best in DC. At the horizon are the steeples and domes of various historic churches and basilicas, the flags of various countries riding high atop their embassy buildings, and the distant black shapes of planes arcing away from Reagan Airport across the Potomac River. On days when a wind picks up and the clouds rush across the sky, the activity is captivating.

Argyle Convenient Store is true to its name. For many residents of this DC neighborhood, Argyle serves as a suitable substitute for on-demand items — soap, toilet paper, tortilla chips, beer, etc. — that do not justify a 15-minute walk to the Giant — another suitable name for the chain grocer that serves the greater Columbia Heights area for most comestibles. This past week I found myself in Argyle’s three-aisled corner store five times, with each trip necessitated to complement an earlier purchase: there was a can of coke to be paired with some fried rice; a bag of tortilla chips to serve as a bed for a bag of shredded Mexican cheese; a candle to enhance the mood of viewing an adorable indie film; an oversized can of beans, so wide and massive that it necessitated its own bag;  and my most recent trip, on Sunday morning, to avoid wiping my ass with floral-patterned Bounty paper towels, I purchased a family pack of Charmin toilet paper.

Sunday morning is a peaceful time to visit Argyle, as the store is empty and the chip carousel has been refreshed with all options available. The day is new, my stomach empty, and all items in the store look appealing. Toilet paper is a common enough purchase not to agonize over the accompanying items on the bill. But like purchasing condoms, anything presented at the counter presumes a greater consonance. This was in my mind I as I entered the store.

I walked to the toilet paper, located at the back of the store by the ATM and rodent control apparati, grabbed a family bag of double rolls and wandered the aisles in search of something snackable.  Argyle is much like a grocery store in a third world country. There is almost every canned food available but not much competition. If you want pasta, you get spaghetti. If you want pasta sauce, you get traditional red sauce. This seemingly communist enterprise eliminates indecision for anything that could be considered a meal. Luckily for me, and just like in third world grocers, 85 percent of the food in the store is either freezer-bound or courtesy of Frito-Lay. If a fifteen-year-old boy who stayed in his basement most weekend nights were asked to start a grocery store, Argyle Convenient Store would be close to his chips, cookies, soda, frozen pizza, and Gatorade dream. Argyle has beer too, which changes things.

At times, usually past ten o’clock, the store keeps some interesting company — and yes, “interesting” is a euphemism for drunk. And not some fun, munchie-craving drunk, but more of the “fall asleep on top of the ice cream sandwich freezer with a recently opened tall boy of Icehouse” kind of drunk. On multiple occasions, I have watched a man scream at the New York Times front page and fall out the door simultaneously. And yet, the owners, a man who displays himself on Budweiser banners holding beer and flashing a thumbs up by various DC memorials and a woman who wears early-90s college apparel — think Dennis Erickson’s University of Miami football teams ‑ are surprisingly forgiving and collegial with this part of their clientele. It doesn’t take much to bring a man outside your store when his body is already stretched across the entranceway, so perhaps they are adept dead-lifters.

This morning, there’s a guy in his twenties piling Vitamin Waters into the cradle of his arms and a woman examining different bags of cookies by the front counter. Being in small confines while others shop is always unnerving, as the decision making process feels observed and analyzed. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes in the chip aisle at a convenience store has felt the assumed gaze of the attendant and other shoppers as chips are taken in hand, put back; personal mood, time of day, and flavor are analyzed for compatibility, with this cycle repeating until the whole selection process becomes so unpleasant that ultimately selecting a bag of chips is now a process of survival and a restoration of trust on the part of the consumer. Today is no different. While holding the toilet paper bag by two hooked fingers under the plastic packaging, I consider the merits of Salt n’ Vinegar chips versus Carolina BBQ. Both are UTZ brand potato chips and rank as consensus “top chips” depending on mood and stomach vacancy. SnVs are generally a complimentary chip, while Carolina BBQs are more of a main course chip, something that one could justify as a complete meal with appropriate servings of BBQ dust and evaporated vinegar. Thankfully, a clear head brought decisiveness and Carolina BBQ was deemed an appropriate chip to consume at 10am on a Sunday.

The counter at Argyle is above chest height, so that any item purchased emerges from under the plane of the counter and involuntarily feels like throwing a saddle on a tall horse. This is especially applicable to larger items like toilet paper, beer, and oversized cans of beans. Nine rolls of toilet paper and chips before noon — though I’m not sure the earliest, culturally-agreed-upon time to eat a chip is — are my provisions. Regardless, when my items are displayed, the woman, wearing a purple and gold University of Washington t-shirt that looks like it was designed by a man who is taking another stab at cursive, eyes the items, snickers a little, and tells me a story about a baby girl found in the wreckage of a tornado. She has the radio tuned to the news but it all sounds like buzzes and whistles. She continues on about how the baby’s name is Angel, and we both agree that “religious-types” will make this something more than it should be. Most Sundays, this woman is working, and her views on Republicans, local sports teams, and now, the Bible Belt, are many and passionate. Not being one to cut someone off, I have spent more time lingering at the counter than at other stores, specifically The Giant, the aforementioned chain grocer, where the automatons in purple polo shirts asking me “Did you find everything OK?” are at times shocked when I do not reply with “yes” and play my part as complacent shopper. The sadness of large chain grocery stores and the accompanying mandated greetings has been vivisected by better writers so I’ll leave it there.

Argyle Convenient Store closes at 1am, opens five hours later, and serves a community that needs chips at 10am on a Sunday, soft toilet paper in a pinch, and beer at, apparently, any hour of the day. As I walked out the store that Sunday, there was a man walking around the corner who took a look at my toilet paper and saluted, and I’m glad he did.

- Pat Mohr