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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.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Patriots Win Or Seahawks Loss?

     After two weeks of dealing with the deflated ball controversy (which I refuse to acknowledge as "DeflateGate") the New England Patriots came out and did their job. If not for an interception in the end zone and letting the Seahawks march down the field in the last 30 seconds of the first half, we could have breathed easy as we drooled over Katy Perry and realized Missy Elliott was still alive at halftime. Instead I had to break out my inhaler and strategize the best way to get onto the roof in case I needed to jump off as the game came down to the wire. If nothing else, we learned that these were two evenly matched teams that deserved to be in the Super Bowl. But a lot of people are saying that the game wasn't won by the Patriots as much as lost by Pete Carroll's play calling in the final seconds. Sorry to tell the Patriots haters, but that's not a valid excuse.
     Throughout the course of every game you can pick apart plays and calls that, had they gone the other way, changed the outcome. That doesn't mean that the Patriots got lucky or the better team lost. Even the girls in my living room who asked me what position Julian Edelman plays, couldn't believe the Seahawks didn't put the game in Beast Mode's hands and let him pound it in. But the call was made. It's up to the players on the field to execute. For two weeks we listened to the media get on their knees and slobber all over Russell Wilson's manhood. Even an hour before the game, I heard him called the greatest mobile quarterback of all time. Pete Carroll bought into that and wanted to show us all how genius his 3rd round quarterback was going to punch the cheating Patriots n the gut. Wilson proved he isn't capable of that. The kid is a good quarterback and will probably get back soon and redeem himself. And yes, to not hand the ball off to one of the best running backs in the league was silly. That shouldn't allow the idiots to come out of the woodwork to claim the Pats didn't deserve the win. If Malcolm Butler isn't in the right spot, the Seahawks win. If Russell Wilson stepped up and completed the pass, the Seahawks win. The mantra of the Patriots, all year, was "Do Your Job". The Seahawks losing is as much on Russell Wilson not doing his job as anything else.