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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Deflate Clickbait

     Before you take the title of this post and think it means I'm just another Patriots homer that kisses the rings and turns a blind eye to everything else, let me explain. I think the Patriots did something wrong. I think Tom Brady looks bad here. What I do not believe is that Brady should be suspended, kept out of the Hall of Fame, have his rings taken away, and be forced to cut off contact from his friends and love ones as we ship him off to a hut in Rwanda. I said this in January and I've said it since. I understand why the Patriots should be investigated and face punishment. I do not understand why this became a story that lead NBC Nightly News or why it became something the President would comment on. The Patriots and Tom Brady did something wrong. So does everyone who is pulled over for speeding or take fries off your girlfriends plate when she goes to the bathroom.
     I've heard that Brady should be suspended for the opener. It's also being reported that he could face up to a full year suspension. Do you know what gets you less than a full year suspension? Silly, minor violations like first time steroid and drug use, beating your wife or girlfriend, or getting shitfaced and slamming your car into another human being. Those, we can all stomach as a nation. But a man with the audacity to take such a minimal amount of air out of a football, that after months of investigating, it was concluded that it "More than probably" happened. Whish is my other big issue with this whole thing.
     The term a lot of people took from the Wells Report was "More than probable". That was the phrase used to describe the Patriots premeditated involvement in this. While I think that statement, at it's core, is true, so what? If you are on trial and there is no real evidence against you other than vague text messages, and the jury just decides "eh, he more than probably did it", will you just accept that? It is an embarrassment to the NFL that they allowed this weak conclusion to be the final draft of a report that is apparently, judging by it's name, equal to the Watergate scandal. So punish Tom Brady if you feel there's enough evidence to do so. All I ask is that you not take his children away and deport him for this apparently violent crime.

Monday, March 30, 2015

If Bieber Roast Offends You, You're A Fool

     Tonight America will get what it's been clamoring for ever since Justin Bieber decided his version of being a teen rebel would be egging his neighbors house. Trained assassins in the comedy world, and for some reason Shaq and Snoop Dog, will have their shot to tear Justin Bieber apart. Well, they had their shot two weeks ago and Comedy Central's just airing it tonight but you get where I'm going. Generations of people have watched roast's like this wither it be the days of Dean Martin and Don Rickles or Seth Rogen and James Franco. The idea is that you make fun of these people in a brutal way, hoping to walk the line between offensive and flattering. In recent years Comedy Central has hand picked comics like Anthony Jesselnik, Amy Schumer, Natasha Leggero, Jeff Ross, and the late, greats Patrice O'Neal and Greg Giraldo. These people were picked because they are not only hilarious but able to shock and offend while still keeping the audience on their side, for the most part. Now my description of these events is pretty accepted and acknowledged nationwide. That forces me to ask, why every year are their people who want the heads of the comedians who "offended" them?
     Now I admit this style of humor isn't for everyone. If your idea of comedy is a night of watching kitten videos on Youtube and then 9 million episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" on TBS, then it's entirely possible that tonight's Comedy Central event isn't for you. I have a solution to that...stay with me now...Don't watch! If jokes involving race, gender, sexuality, rape or disease bother you, just don't watch. But for some reason tomorrow we will inevitably see the headlines "Did Hannibal Burress Take It Too Far?" or "Did Kevin Hart Cross The Line?". No matter what is said tonight, the answer to those questions is, NO! Anything said with the intention of humor should be accepted. The only acceptable question to ask will be, was it funny? There will likely be jokes told tonight that just aren't funny, for whatever reason. That doesn't mean that they are racist, homophobic, sexist, or otherwise hateful material. In 24 hours when some special interest group wants to end the career of one of these comics, I encourage them to, instead, consider the following suggestions. 1. Realize that you are watching COMEDY No matter how you felt about it, the intent of tonight for nothing to be taken literally. 2. Change the channel. If for some reason you don't want to feel left out of the live tweeting, give it a shot. You may have a few laughs. Then, if it starts to get too edgy for your taste, turn it off. Throw on the Disney channel or something you can stomach and your emotions won't hurt anymore. 3. Watch and be offended, but shut the fuck up about it. Laugh, cry, experience whatever emotions come naturally. Even be offended. Tomorrow you can bore your friends and coworkers with how you are "all for jokes but that went over the line" or "no one likes comedy more than me but that was too much". And if they don't do their civic duty of punching you in the face, you can move on with your day. Just don't start these online campaigns to force someone to apologize or be fired from their jobs. Because no matter how hard you stomp your feet, the apology will assuredly be forced and phony.
     Sadly there will undoubtedly be some people who don't take my brilliant advice. There's a segment of the population who gets off on having their voice heard, no matter the cost. Context and reason means nothing to these people and it seems like a larger group now than it has ever been. In reality it is just a vocal minority of whiney children who didn't get enough attention from mommy and daddy so they want us to pay the price. If you follow any of my work you know this issue hits home with me. But as loud as I try to scream it seems to fall on deaf ears. No matter how much logic is used, some people just enjoy being offended. So depite the fact that Bieber and everyone else on the dais knew what they were getting into and still signed up for it, there will be people in society who are offended for them. Even though it wasn't asked for. So have fun little boys and girls. I know that there's no stopping you. I just hope it doesn't cost anyone their job this time.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Keep Greg Hardy Away From The Patriots

     I am not the first man to wave my finger and shake my head at Greg Hardy. I don't think there's anyone who has made excuses for his particular domestic abuse case. But there is a segment of the population that is willing to forget. These are not necessarily bad people. They're usually those who look at professional sports as a video game and the players in it, nothing more than characters off the field. Sadly, thugs like Ray Rice and Greg Hardy have forced us to realize these men have lives off the field. I'm not saying that no one deserves a second chance. I've defended Rice and his now wife in the past, by saying that the fact that they're still together doesn't make him a monster or her weak willed. We don't know the inner workings of their relationship. And I'm not suggesting that Greg Hardy should never be allowed to work again. I'm saying I don't want him on a team that I root for.
     Over the last few years I've been a huge defender of outspoken athletes and celebrities. Our country has entered a state of perpetual outrage that wants to defend every group. Even Charles Barkley came under fire for joking about the weight of women in San Antonio. Because, hey, we all know Texas is known for sticking to salads and P90X right? In today's society sticks and stones can break your bones but words can ruin your life. While I hear the argument that "free speech comes with consequences" on a weekly basis, the consequences of domestic violence in the public eye is brushed off unless we see the video. It's impossible not to remember the NFL choosing to suspend Ray Rice for only two games before the security footage of his savage beating leaked. During that same month, we saw people like Adam Richman and Anthony Cumia lose their jobs over things they said on Twitter and Instagram. Now I defended Cumia and Richman on social media and was called a racist or sexist for advocating for, not what they said, but their ability to say it. I was told that free speech comes with responsibility and that these men did not properly represent their companies. So did Rice and Hardy represent the NFL with great honor? Because they were allowed to keep their jobs, until the NFL felt guilty for shrugging off woman beating as "shit happens". If a Mel Gibson movie was released today, there would be protests at theaters across America from African American, Jewish, and women's groups for the things that he said. But when Ray Rice showed up to Ravens training camp last summer, he was met with applause and support. If you don't remember who John Rocker is, just think of Kenny Powers with less class and public speaking ability. He was essentially blacklisted from baseball after saying all kinds of racist and homophobic things. But Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Donte Stallworth, Leonard Little and others were allowed back into the NFL after serving brief suspensions.
     You say that, as a Patriots fan, I am a hypocrite because I loved Randy Moss. In fact, Randy Moss was one of my favorite athletes. If you have the balls to claim Randy Moss and Greg Hardy are in the same category you're an idiot. Let's go over Moss's days as a naughty boy. He smoked weed in college. That claim is about equal to saying he's guilty of breathing in college. He had that incident with the meter maid where he did what we've all wanted to do to a meter maid at some point, bump them with our car. He coined the phrase "Straight cash homey" which has done nothing but give us a great clip for sports talk radio. And, ah yes, he did the most disgusting act that Joe Buck has ever seen. He pretended to pull down his pants in front of Packers fans. Greg Hardy gave one of the more savage beatings I've ever heard described to a woman who didn't quite stack up to his professional athlete measurements. I'll let you decide which of these two men is worse.
     Maybe I'm being overly sensitive. Maybe it is important to protect peoples feeling from mean words. Maybe it's far less important to set an example and stop thugs like Greg Hardy from brutally beating women. But the NFL told me I was right. The NFL are the ones I heard the idea of No More from. You know, when they hired trained actors to cry on cue for the camera in ads telling up we need to stop domestic violence. They told us to stop making excuses for these people. They said it's up to us to take action. No more ignoring it and turning a blind eye, they told us. It would be nice if Roger Goodell and the NFL started taking their own advice. I only ask that Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots do just that.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Who Is To Blame For "Cyber Bullying"?

     Curt Schilling has gotten a lot of attention this week for the way he has handled "cyber bullying". It all started when Big Schill sent a congratulations tweet to his daughter for making a college softball team. The Twitter trolls, as they often do, rushed to mock and criticize. If you don't know what a Twitter troll is, they typically fit one of these descriptions: They are middle aged, balding men who have either never moved out of their mother's basement or have recently moved back after a string of several divorces; a douchebag, college frat kid, or, someone of any age who has always wanted to be an asshole to people in person, but doesn't have the physical stature or confidence to say a cross word to anyone's face. These people have no lives outside of being acknowledged on Twitter. They are experts in assholery and I enjoyed seeing some of them getting what was coming. But is going after them the way Schilling did the right way to handle it?
     Schilling found these people and did what I imagine any father would want to do. Some of these people lost their jobs, college scholarships, and were kicked off of teams. If you are familiar with any of my work, you know that typically I defend any matter of free speech. But when you threaten to rape someone's daughter with a baseball bat, you're pretty much asking to have your teeth knocked in. But should this be considered "cyber bullying"? While Schilling simply did what I imagine most celebs have wanted to do at some point, was it the right way to handle these barbarians? Usually the type of people that do this on Twitter have so little in real life that a response from someone of Schilling's popularity gives them the same joy that having sex with a woman would for an average man. While I have no issue whit how Schilling behaved, I am surprised that he didn't expect it. Schilling is known as a guy who speaks his mind. He also started a failed video game company a few years back. Given those factors I can't imagine this was the first time he dealt with idiots on Twitter. To not expect that putting something about his college aged daughter on social media would get some, shall we say, colorful responses, is a bit na├»ve on Schill's part.
     My real issue is the idea that this is "cyber bullying". While I do believe that this is an issue for kids in high school and younger, I find it difficult for my lips to form the words to suggest that a former professional athlete is being "bullied" by nerds in a dimly lit room whose deepest grasp of humor is knowing how to spell the word "cunt". Schilling, just like the rest of us, have the ability to not go on Twitter. While this may be touch for a baseball analyst for ESPN, he should also know better than to read every response. I don't have a daughter and don't plan on having one for a long time. So I can't pretend to know what it's like to read those things about her. But my only suggestion, to any father, would be stay off Twitter. Or keep your children off of your newsfeed. I'll never bash Schilling for handling it the way he did, but he was not bullied. The man can obviously handle his own. So my message to anyone who is sensitive to criticism, or doesn't want to see what some stranger has to say about your kids, just stay off Twitter. You'll never have to see it again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Outrage Culture Continues: Keith Olberman Suspended

     Let me start by telling you how I feel about Keith Olberman. The man is an ass. He is a clown who says things for the purpose of making headlines rather than giving any opinions of actual substance. He is a pompous, arrogant, egomaniac who would rather correct peoples grammar or attack their personal traits than have a debate worth any merit. He has made his bones on condemning those who speak their minds and give harsh opinions, when he himself wants the freedom to do exactly that. He is a hypocrite who calls for the firings of his colleagues in the media whenever one of them makes a statement that doesn't jive with the character he plays on television. Having said all of that, it would be a tremendous shame if he lost his job at ESPN.
     After Olberman ended his stint as one of the more popular Sportscenter anchors of the 90's, he became a personality on MSNBC. He's since crawled back to ESPN with his tail between his legs after his abysmal failure in the world of newsertainment. But he did not come back as an anchor. ESPN wanted him back to host a show, that runs late at night, where people can get Keith's harsh and usually foolish takes on the wide world of sports. But as ESPN has made a habit of doing, when one of these silly remarks makes mainstream headlines, they cower to special interest groups and show no loyalty to their talent. Olberman's twitter rant about Penn State was no different from the dozens of nonsensical twitter arguments he gets in with people on seemingly a weekly basis. Right here in Boston, Olberman called for the firing of WEEI's Kirk Minnihane for his comments on Erin Andrews. I wonder how Keith feels about that now. I hope he regrets it. I hope he realizes that Kirk said something he may not agree with, but differing opinions shouldn't warrant firings in opinion based media. Due to the characteristics listed about, I seriously doubt he's thinking that way. But nonetheless, Keith should not be punished for doing what ESPN pays him far too much money to do.
     Some of you reading this may say that ESPN has every right to fire an employee that they feel doesn't represent their brand. You're right. I'm not saying that what the mothership is doing is or should be illegal. And I realize that, in literal terms, this is not a 1st Amendment issue. The government is not silencing Keith Olberman. But as a society that eats up nonstop news coverage on every mundane current event, a society that live-tweets every award show and sporting event, a society that will destroy the self-esteem of a 13 year old girl because she made a mediocre song, we should chant Keith Olberman's name from the roof tops. He did nothing different than we all do. Keith Olberman just had the balls to do it for all of us to see. He did not incite a riot. He didn't put anyone's life in danger. He made a few off the cuff remarks about a school that covered up child molestation for over a decade. Olberman is paid very well to get people riled up. He shouldn't be penalized because this one rant annoyed the wrong people.
     Every critical remark hurts someone. It could be an individual. It could be a group. It could even be a race or an entire nation. I truly fear living in a world where hurting someone's feelings is a crime akin to true racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other sort of hate mongering. George Carlin made a living joking about the pussification of America. I'm sure he's rolling over in his grave about how all too real it's gotten. Olberman made comments that I don't agree with about Penn State. People all across the country, from President Obama to the 16 year old who serves me at Dunkin Donuts say things I don't agree with all the time. I do not believe that any of them should lose their jobs for that. It amazes me the amount of people who aren't just satisfied with changing the channel. If you hate Keith Olberman, like I do, don't watch his show. Don't follow him on Twitter. Any time you hear his name, don't watch, listen, or read any further. I think that is a much more fair compromise than this childish need to abolish thought that doesn't line up with what is absolutely socially accepted.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dragging Baseball Into The 21st Century

     New Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has already started to make some changes. Rules will be enforced in order to speed up the pace of play, including hitters having to keep one foot in the batters box. It won't do much. But it is nice to see the new commish at least acknowledging there are flaws in the game. Something Bud Selig seemingly never did. There is a reason the NFL is king in this country. Even though from snap to whistle takes up about 11 of the 60 minutes of play, we as viewers feel like it's nonstop action. Baseball has to make people believe it isn't boring.
     The biggest problem with baseball now is that it isn't attractive to kids anymore. We now live in a world where breaking news sent to our phone and steal our TV shows online so we don't have to watch commercials. For better or worse our attention span is about that of a mosquito. I'm not suggesting we should placate the dummies that just want everything instantly. But there's so many improvements that baseball could make in order to bring back the simpletons. I won't even suggest shortening the season, because while there is no reason for 162 games, owners love that extra hot dog and beer money. All that really needs to be done is have a pitch clock. I know that the purists like the days where it was whites only and the greatest athlete in the game funneled booze and meat down his throat at a hall of fame clip. But times change and baseball needs to as well. Change can be scary. But take a deep breath and realize that all it really means is you'll see Josh Beckett spit and grab his crotch a few less times per inning.
     I shutter to even suggest this but they could shorten commercial breaks too. I know it's a sin in television to even mention such a thing but come on. Get rid of one beer and car ad per inning and just add some dumb poll question that makes the pink hats happy and you can slap a sponsor on. And how many warm up pitches does Andrew Miller really need to face one batter that it warrants a 3 minute commercial break during the 8th.
    Now I'm not crazy. I know that, while these seem like obvious fixes, it will take years, maybe decades to implement. In all fairness, it is more important for Manfred's underlings to drag their feet to make their jobs seem more important than actually improving the game, right? However, I warn baseball that if they do refuse to change, that people will notice how awesome playoff hockey is and the MLB may, someday, fall frm America's pastime to a mere afterthought. While Rob Manfred is only taking baby steps for now, they are still steps. Let's hope they soon turn to leaps before the country stops caring about baseball all together.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tom Brady, Best Ever?

     Now that we've all shaken off our hangover's and have properly thanked Pete Carroll for passing up a victory, it's time to discuss where Tom Brady stands in the history of the game. Now as a 23 year old guy, I admit that anyone on the same level as Brady, I haven't really seen play, aside from Peyton Manning. Unless you want to be a real dick and come at me with Brett Favre or Drew Brees. But that will not stop me from discussing this as though I know exactly what I'm talking about. While I never got to really watch Joe Montana or Dan Marino, and only watched the very end of John Elway's career, I can at least give the logical argument on Brady's behalf. And yes, those are the only names in the discussion. Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowl's but two of them were prior to te merger's rule changes, and his numbers just don't stack up.
     I will say that Super Bowl victories do not tell the whole story. I've had enough of people trying to tell me that Eli Manning is more than Archie's simple boy who is the product of nepotism, just because he has two rings. But to get four, in the era of salary cap and free agency, is a different level. And to get to six is something no one has ever done. There are people that will point out Brady's two Super Bowl losses and losses in the AFC Championship game as blemishes that Montana doesn't have on his record.  What you're saying is, it's more impressive to win four Super Bowl's and never have another season close, than to consistently be right in the mix of the best four teams in the league. It's also hard to ignore that all of Montana's success came along side the greatest receiver of all time in Jerry Rice. While Brady had his best statistical season with a guy who was close to Rice, talent wise, Randy Moss, in Brady's four wins he never had a big name deep threat. The closest argument you can make is this year, at age 37, with a great tight end in Rob Gronkowski. And let's note that in that game, he threw to four different receivers. Vintage Brady.
     Now as I said, Super Bowl's don't entirely make the man. We could go for a while listing guys like Trent Dilfer and Rob Johnson who have a ring. And I think, if you gave me some time to work out, I could've won with the '85 Bears. Joe Namath was put in the Hall of Fame, I'm convinced solely because he had a few wobbly pops and correctly predicted the Jets would win. While Dan Marino was a far better player and never won one. So let's go down the only road Peyton Manning fans are still allowed to drive on. Statistically Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, and in some instances, Brett Favre have slightly better numbers than Brady. But let's look at that closer. I kick Favre out of the argument because he has just as many completed passes to opposing cornerbacks as he did anyone on the Packers. But this is where it's tough to argue against Manning and Marino. But when Brady was paired with Randy Moss, he set a record for touchdowns in a season and lead the Patriots to a 16-0 regular season. While Manning has put up even better regular season stats and more consistently over the years, no one has had the mix of record numbers and wins the way Tom Brady has. While Manning did get his ring, it's hard to ignore his chronic ability to shit his pants in big situations.
     In the end, I think it comes down to who you grew up watching. As much as we all like to pretend we have a real answer, none of us have studied all the greats from each era. People who watched Montana in the 80's would probably say that that's when football was pure and Montana did it better than anyone. Those who saw Manning put up insane numbers on a yearly basis may take that over the joy of spraying champagne after a win that means something. But after Sunday, February 1, 2015, it's hard to say that anyone has played in the NFL at a higher level than Tom Brady.