Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ian, Don't Back Down. You Said Nothing Wrong

Ian Poulter is brash enough to wear dick-in-the-ass pink pants, but didn't have the balls to stick to his original statement after the Tiger Gestapo took hold of the story and turned their claws on him.

You may remember a couple years ago when a Danish newspaper (not a newspaper made of dough and delicious filling but instead a newspaper published in Denmark) ran into a ton of shit when it posted a couple of cartoons that simply depicted the Prophet Muhammad. This depiction was considered blasphemous by many in the Muslim community (without getting into too much detail and because I don't really understand the entire story, apparently Muslims ain't cool with someone publishing their interpretation of what Muhammad looked like because it's disrespectful to Islam) and caused quite a stir amongst non-muslims who couldn't fathom getting upset about something so seemingly innocuous. The controversy led to death threats, worldwide protests and about 100 people being killed in the resulting chaos. Not that sweet. And all because people are offended that someone sketched a picture of an historical figure. It seems like a significant overreaction if you ask me, just don't tell anyone in Iran I said that. Anyhoo, after this week's "Poultergate" (trademark pending), I'm wondering if Tiger Woods has attained similar status with the American media in that if you say anything about him that even sniffs of a slight, you will be drawn and quartered and your family will have to enter witness protection.

This week England's Ian Poulter, a golfer much more well known for his fashion sense than his putting touch, touched off a frickin firestorm of media outrage after he did an interview with Golf World Magazin and said this:
"Don't get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven't played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger."

"The trouble is I don't rate anyone else," the 32-year-old Briton was quoted as saying in the March issue of the United Kingdom version of Golf World magazine.

"Don't get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven't played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger."
What exactly did he say here? To me, it seems he said that when he's on he can take on Tiger. And he hasn't been really "on" so far. I don't think that's completely unreasonable considering he's finished in the top 25 six times in the last 4 years and top 13 four times in the last 3 years. Hell, he even beat Tiger in the '06 US Open when Tiger missed the cut. He's presently the 22nd ranked player in the world. So it's not as though Poulter is some scrub. But from this seemingly benign statement, people who don't know shit about shit (see Stephen A. Smith and Tony Kornheiser) ripped the guy; all because he said he has a shot at winning a tournament and because he says at his best he is second best.

So then today, Poulter had to backtrack from all of his statements claiming he was "misquoted" and taken out of context. The only thing wrong with Poulter's statements is that the media interpreted them to mean he was ripping Tiger (or the rest of the Tour). But in reality he didn't say a damn thing. If he's guilty of anything it's being a pussy and backtracking. But the bigger story is that this was any story at all.

For some reason whenever you talk about Tiger you have to qualify every statement by citing his immortality and that no one will ever have a chance against him. Only after paying these respects may we opine on the magnificence that is Tiger. Don't get me wrong here, Tiger is perhaps the most dominant athlete in the history of sports. He's also one of the most likable athletes in sports today. I understand why people feel inclined to protect him and defend his honor in the face of anything that resembles disrespect, but he's not above criticism and he's not beyond competition. He can be beat despite his greatness and it's fucking disgusting how indignant the media gets every time some golfer claims he's got a shot. The funniest part about all of this is that the same guys who kill the guys who say they have a shot at Woods are the one ripping Woods competition on the tour. According to these hacks, you can't rip Woods because he's so great but Woods is only great because his competition sucks. It's a bit of a pickle. And nothing is added to the conversation by those fucktards who won't let someone suggest want to step up and give it a go.

I guess I don't understand what's so fucking wrong about thinking you can win? Since when is it bad to be confident in your ability? Did you enjoy watching the final round of the Bob Hope? Shouldn't we want a foil for Tiger? Or are we just so enthralled with the awe that Tiger inspires that we can't handle the idea of someone believing they can take him down? I'm ready for someone who thinks they can.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Apologies For My Recent Posting (Or Lack Thereof)

Apologies for my erratic posting recently. I haven't settled into a routine quite yet and between not having access to my the site at work (fucking feds) and my school schedule driving me insane, I just haven't really figured out a consistent posting schedule. I'm working on it though. Hopefully I'll have a more consistent system up shortly.

Oh btw, The Smittblog's going to the Super Bowl. So that should provide some blog fodder....

Greggggg Easterbrook Needs To Be Put In A Padded Room

We heard you the first time, Greggggggg.

Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If that is the standard, then Greggg Easterbrook is the posterboy for insanity.

A lot of things have transpired since the middle of September. (I’m not going to link to all of these stories because I’m lazy) The Mets blew an insurmountable NL East lead, the Sox won the World Series, A-Rod left and came back for the most money ever and then had the worst sports interview in television history on 60 Minutes, the Mitchell Report came out and made some news, the college football season got a little nutty and every favorite lost right when they could’ve won, Marion Jones had some trouble with lying, Mike Vick was sentenced, the Heisman sucked and went to the wrong guy, Brett Favre came back from the dead, Shaun Alexander killed my fantasy team and Tom Brady & Randy Moss had the greatest seasons at their respective positions ever. There are a ton of stories that I can’t even remember that have at one point or another grabbed the spotlight and made us forget about stories past. Hell, you probably completely forgot that Mike Vick was in prison presently until I reminded you and that was the biggest deal ever at the time. Well, there is one guy who has not let the hundreds of important sports stories between mid-September and today distract him from the story of utmost importance: that man is Greggggg Easterbrook; and his story is STILL THE FUCKING PATRIOTS AND VIDEOTAPING FIASCO!. Yes, for the 100th consecutive week, Gregggggg Easterbrook is ripping the Pats for videotaping the Jets and is still banging the drum of "asterisks" and taint and God knows what else. And yes, it's still falling on deaf ears.

When I first read this week's TMQ , I couldn’t believe it. I honestly thought I had clicked on a post from September or from when they played the Colts. But nope, it was written today and his arguments haven't changed one bit. The guy is certifiably obsessed with the Pats and this stupid story. I am in no way suggesting that this wasn’t a HUGE story when it came out. It dominated the sports landscape for about a full month. But what relevance does it have today? According Gregggggggg, all the relevance in the world:
No matter how well New England plays Sunday, every victory the team earned this season -- and perhaps victories in previous seasons, too -- is tainted until such time when we learn what was in the material the league destroyed. New England is aware that its season is an asterisk season; owner Robert Kraft has complained the Patriots are now viewed as "tainted," his word. For all we know, the Belichick Files vindicate the Patriots. But until such time when we learn what was in those files, even at 19-0, the New England Patriots should not be considered a great team because we cannot be sure whether these wins were earned or stolen. Nor can we be sure whether New England's three Super Bowl rings were earned or stolen.
......... I.... I.... I am honestly stunned. We don’t know if the Pats’ victories were stolen THIS YEAR? Why? Because they attempted to tape the first half of the first game of the season? After that incident it is likely that they were the most scrutinized team in the history of the sport. There were articles and Outside The Lines stories SOLELY on what the Pats were doing on the sidelines from that point forward. And the NFL hasn't suggested they did anything else wrong. If we worry that the Pats have "stolen" games this year even though nothing was reported after the Jets' games, why aren't we concerned about every other team. It's not as though this is the first time this has happened or the first time that a team was charged with doing something nefarious. His argument here just lacks a foundation of rational thought. It's pure lunacy and it distracts from his other statements, which are also founded in Gregggggg's f'd up homespun wisdom:
Most of the sports media have rolled over and played dead on the New England destroyed-tapes story; The NFL promised to get to the bottom of the Patriots' cheating and reveal the truth to the public; instead, the NFL destroyed the New England documents and refuses to say what they contained. If the documents vindicated New England or the NFL, it would have been strongly in the league's interest to say so. Instead, the NFL has stonewalled us, so what does that make you think? Until we know what was on the videotapes and in the documents the NFL destroyed, there will always be a cloud of suspicion over the Patriots. How much of an advantage did they gain by cheating? Did they really hand over everything to the league? Are they still cheating now? Most important by far, have they cheated in the Super Bowl?
You see, here I can kind of pick up what Gregggggg's puttin down. Now, I COULDN'T disagree more, but I think his skepticism as to the NFL's true motive in putting quickly to bed the Pats video story isn't completely unfounded. But where he loses me is when he starts asking about the advantage the Pats got or whether they are still cheating. If they are still cheating, it is very likely we would know about it. Mere rumor of impropriety would be front page news, so unless I'm missing something very striking here or no one has picked up on it, the Pats haven't done shit since the Jets game other than win every game. But in terms of the advantage to be gained from cheating, you could figure that out even without knowing exactly how they used the information they gathered. It's not that difficult. Use your imagination. But Easterbrook's final shot at the Pats was his finest and most indignant:
And all you sportscasters and sportswriters who will spend this week gushing over the Super Bowl, it would be nice if a few of you mentioned that, a mere four months ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell found the Patriots guilty of "a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition." Two billion people will watch the Super Bowl; almost all of America's children and teens will watch the Super Bowl. If the bottom line of the event is "It's fine to cheat, you'll get away with it," what message does that send?
Yup Gregggg, the message from the Pats' season is cheaters always win. And the message from Greggggg Easterbrook's coverage of the Pats is that even an old crazy coot who can't let anything go can still make an honest wage in this country through public catharsis.

Hey Giants Fans, You Think That Line On the Super Bowl Is Good? Vegas Has A Bridge They'd Like To Sell You

With all of your winnings from betting the Giants in the Super Bowl, you should easily be able to afford this nice, shiny new bridge!

I’m well aware that by heaping praise on Colin Cowherd I’m essentially committing blog suicide (if you weren’t aware, Cowherd has not exactly endeared himself to the blogosphere: see here, here and here), but via a conversation with the Las Vegas Consultants, Cowherd came up with a few VERY good reasons why the groundswell of betting support in favor of the Giants (3 to 1 that the Giants cover the spread) is so off-base and why the folks in Vegas are licking their collective chops.

The first thing he mentioned is that one of the easiest sucker bets is taking advantage of a bettor’s short-term memory (I’m paraphrasing a bit here). People are so swept up in the emotion of the Giants’ victories over Dallas and Green Bay as well as the “moral victory” over the Pats in Week 17 that they value those wins over the stuff they would normally use to evaluate a matchup. As Cowherd mentioned several times, the line on paper in Vegas for this game should be a COMFORTABLE 15 points. Today I’m seeing spreads as low as 11. People are putting too much emphasis on “momentum” and not enough evidence on raw fact. Yes the Giants are probably better than they were when they dropped their first 2 games of the season or when they played horrendously against the dregs of the NFC Central, but they aren’t as good as their two upsets either and certainly aren't as good as the one game they put it all together against the Pats (in the same way the Pats aren't as good as their 40+ win over the Skins). The objective evidence in favor of the Pats is overwhelming according to the Vegas folks. And if they were more wrong then right, you’d be building Casinos in deserts.

The second factor that came up is weather. The Pats are a fast track team. In games played in temperature above 50 degrees, the Pats average margin of victory is 847 million. When the Giants play in controlled climates, they are decidedly more average. But it’s not so much that the Giants are good “mudders” and a bad “good climate” team (they did beat the Cowboys in Big D in the playoffs) as much as it is that in good weather the Patriots did things to teams that have never been done before. Because the Pats haven’t blown a team out since Bills game (they did handle the Dolphins but that game was close for awhile, as was the Steelers first half), people think they are vulnerable. It’s only because they set the bar so high that an undefeated team that spent the last month of the season beating the NFC champs, the “team that no one wanted to play in the playoffs” (the Jags) and the undermanned Chargers could be considered vulnerable. The Patriots’ body of work speaks for itself and when you compare it to the Giants, it’s miles ahead (the Giants scraped past the Lions and then got KILLED by an Adrian Peterson-less Vikings team in back-to-back weeks).

The third factor is that these games are rarely close and the favorite usually wins. Only 11 times in history has the score in the Super Bowl been decided by 7 points or less. The favorites in the Super Bowl are 28-13. Favorites have covered the spread 24 of the 41 games. Favorites of 10 or more points are 9-4 overall and 7-5-1 against the spread. It’s not to say that it’s a foregone conclusion because the stats lean in the Pats favor (if anything, the statistics make clear that there have been several major upsets), but it is to say that in betting on the Giants +11 or whatever you are getting, history says your odds ain’t that sweet (please spare me the many statistical arguments otherwise including small sample size and whatever bullshit you want to throw at me). And I'm not even going to mention the oldest Vegas axiom of them all that "when everyone's betting one way, bet the other way" (not that that idea has any foundation in fact necessarily).

So essentially, these guys and Cowherd came to the conclusion that while the world and Giants fans (two separate entities) are throwing money at the Giants and the points, they’d be wise to take a step back and look at the facts without the glare of their 6 inch platinum Giants neck pendant obscuring their view. Because when you actually break it down (something I hope to do in the next day or two), you’ll see that betting the Giants in this game is a suckers bet, and come Sunday night Vegas is going to be rolling in the dough of some well-heeled suckers.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hank Just Can't Help Himself

I'm beginning to take a bit of a shine to the Yanks' new egomaniacal media whore owner.

Bluster, bombast, bravado and bullshit have been a core tenet of the Yanks' ownership ever since George took over the team in 1973 (you could also probably throw in the word "winning," to that list but it doesn't start with a "b" so it just wouldn't work). And given what we've learned about "young" Hank Stein over the last couple of months, the transition from George to Hank is going to be a smooth one.

Aside from displaying a taste for nefarity (sic - nefariousness is proper but nefarity is such a better word...) very similar to that of his father's with his now weekly tiptoe across the tampering line (for a great recap of the dozens of statements from Hank that cross the tampering barrier, read these posts), Hank has developed a love for media attention that almost trumps his father's yet claims he's not fond of the attention :
"I don't particularly necessarily enjoy it. It was kind of thrust upon me. At some point, if you're going to be a leader, you've got to step up and you can't hide in the office," he said...
Yeah, if you're gonna be a leader, you've got to get your name in the paper and make sure the never quiet pot remains stirred. And while you're at it, no reason not to hang your GM out to dry:
"But as far as missing the playoffs - if we miss the playoffs by the end of this year, I don't know how patient I'll be. But it won't be against the players. It won't be a matter of that. It will be a matter of maybe certain people in the organization could have done something else."
That's gotta make Cashman feel good. In no uncertain terms: No playoffs, see you later. Not bad for a guy who had to be convinced not to give up the kitchen sink to pay Johan Santana $25 million / year after giving up the entire farm system. I think I'm gonna like the Hank Steinbrenner era.