Sunday, January 30, 2011

Good Luck, You're Gonna Need It

Buck Showalter had some red meat for the base at the Baltimore Orioles' FanFest:
"I chuckle a little when I hear a football coach say, 'We weren't ready to play this week,'" Showalter said. "My God, you play once a week and you've got an off week? Baseball is the most mentally, emotionally and physically challenging game in sports. It's 200 games a year counting spring training, seven days a week. We don't apologize checking into a guy's heart a little bit and into his makeup. Because ability only carries you so far."
Wonderful stuff.

Buck, all I can say is, best of luck this year. You might be the right guy for this franchise, but pretty much every year for the last decade, the Orioles have taken at least two whole months and sat on their behinds and had sand kicked in their faces. I suppose at least it's healthy that the manager has identified a culture of defeat within the Orioles organization. Let's see if he can successfully identify the principal reason: a lack of accountability in the front office, and a lack of talent on the field; and let's see if he can convince the people around him.

P.S. Buck, I did really enjoy it, but: spring training!?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Sian Massey Nonsense

Much ado about nothing in English football this week as two idiot studio hosts, Richard Keys and Andy Gray, were rightly dismissed over a longstanding practice of hostile sexism in the studio. Keys and Gray are legendarily cheerful morons who don't deserve a moment's further thought (but if you're interested, Keys's hour-plus shambles of a non-apology apology on national radio is a quite brilliant example of a man unable to know when to stop digging the hole he's in).

Spare a thought, though, for the 25-year-old asssitant referee (what used to be called a lineswoman) at the heart of the latest piece of nonsense. Her name is Sian Massey, and she has done quite brilliantly to make it so high in the game so fast. It was her appearance in the Premier League Wolves-Liverpool match (only her second PL game) that led to Keys and Gray acting like dorks.

The predictable result of this has been screams from all corners about "PC GONE MAD" and so forth, and worse screams about Massey being unqualified, and boosted forward based on her sex. (Not to mention a horrific invasion of her privacy as the odious Daily Mail went and published half a dozen of her Myspace photos. Yuck.)

This harrumphing Blimpism has been coming in from all sides, but I found a comment on the blog EPL Talk that, I think, goes some way to showing how a 25-year-old woman could make it so far so fast in a highly competitive industry like football officiating.

I last refereed with Sian about 5 years ago in a “local” game, Sian and I qualified around the same time about 12-13 years ago and I don’t know of another referee out there that has committed the time or dedication that she has. Male or Female she is there because she has passed the assesments and the fitness tests that are allocated equally no matter of race or sex.

Despite what people may think about her being fasttracked because of her sex I can assure you that is nonsence, if anything Sian will have had a harder time from many in what is still an “old boy” establishment.

Sian first appeared on major TV three years ago officiating the Womans FA Cup Final and she did a fantastic job, she will go very far and I have no doubt that she will be our first female Level 1 or most probably Fifa official on the Mens List.

I thought it was great, is all, and wanted to share it. Well-known referee Graham Poll had further good things to say about Massey (and about the TV asshats) in another article (in the Mail, heh) which is worth reading if this interests you.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Finally, someone had the stones to stand up and say the obvious about Habs rookie (and former Hamilton Bulldogs idol) P.K. Subban. I am not referring to this interesting if sometimes troubling article from Charlie Gillis of Macleans, which rightly tells NHL players (and especially talking heads) to man up and shut up.

I am referring to a comment by "Silver24" below the article, which nails with devastating accuracy the problem that I, too, am seeing. Subban is being targeted by the media and his fellow players in a way that I cannot recall any other player having been targeted in my time following the NHL - I have seen him attacked by TV talking heads for not fighting after delivering a devastating and completely legal mid-ice hipcheck. I have seen him called every name in the book twice by Don Cherry for having the audacity to talk to other players on the ice. I have seen national reporters tell outright and blatant lies about his conduct while playing in Hamilton.

Silver24 sees the same thing. And like me, he thinks it's perfectly obvious where it comes from. The criticisms of Subban for being a rookie without "respect", for being flamboyant, for not "knowing his place" don't get echoed around the league because he is young, promising and audacious. They don't get echoed because he is passionate, aggressive but inexperienced. They get echoed around the league because Subban is flamboyant, talented and black.

Especially black.

Silver24 says it well...

At first I never bought the racism card either. There's even a great sound bite of Subban himself completely discounting that possibility. But the longer this goes the less I like the taste it leaves, and the more I think about it the harder it gets to find another decent explanation... I can't ever remember any one player being on the receiving end of this much public criticism from his fellow players.

I almost choked when I heard Mike Richards spouting off about 'respect' that night. Maybe someone should put a microphone in front of David Booth (season over -, David Krejci (season over - or Ron Petrovicky (NHL career over - and see what they think of his brand of 'respect'...

...And by the way, I find your comparison of Subban and Avery to be pretty distasteful. The only thing Subban has ever done in the NHL is play a hard, aggressive style with a little more flair than most of the other guys in the league.
Gillis in the article is more skeptical:
you can forget the idea that Subban’s race is playing a part. Other black players, including Evander Kane and Wayne Simmonds, endure no such criticism. Those guys gladly play to type.
But the skepticism is obviously misplaced, isn't it? If you "play to type" as a modest and unassuming young man, sure, no one is going to hassle you. We've gone beyond that. Probably not until guys finally left Jarome Iginla alone after he proved he could whup any middleweight in the league and still smile his million-dollar smile afterward. But hockey is beyond that. OK, except for minor hockey. And obviously, Europe. But hockey is beyond that. Really!

Anyway, it's when a Subban plays his natural, effervescent, hard-hitting, fan-pleasing game (and Montreal fans have seen nothing yet - the Subban we had in Hamilton was an absolute folk hero to the regulars like few others have ever been, he's been playing within himself) - that is the line that I guess a black player can't cross in the NHL without being given the kibosh by his self-declared white betters.

Let me be clear. I am not talking about ribbing from the fans for being the "Pressbox King" or the like. That shit is funny, and entirely appropriate. I am not talking about Pang contrasting Mike Pietrangelo with Subban saying Pietrangeloi plays the "white way". That is an embarrassing slip of the tongue. I am talking about the whining and the veiled threats from opposition players and the hockey talking heads. I wouldn't expect opposing fans to like Subban - and many clearly don't, often for good reasons. Michael Farber's Sports Illustrated article shows a guy who is unquestionably cocky. Indeed, I would not necessarily object if you said that the kid quoted in that article is pretty douchey.

The article also says that Richards says P.K. stands for "punk kid" and that "mostly Subban harangues opponents with a playground you-can't-beat-me braggadocio, which has prompted one NHL assistant to observe, "It's almost like he's an athlete in a different sport.""

A different sport, eh? Subtle. Can I suggest 'hoopity-hoop'? Maybe 'negroball'? At least the coach had the sense to remain anonymous, or maybe Farber is taking pity on him. Clearly North American hockey, which has reacted with considerable ill grace these last two decades to the European invasion, is still finding its feet in terms of merging hockey culture with the wider culture. (Unsurprisingly, the other guys who get it in the ear on the "respect" nonsense are still, 35 years after Anders Hedberg, Europeans like Linus Omark, who was accused of "disrespect" by the pathetic Dan Ellis after he scored a wonder goal on his sorry ass to win a shootout in December).

For God's sake, look at the aforementioned Richards, who can't stop levelling guys with dirty head hits (see the links above from Silver24), and compare his work to Subban's preferred brand of legit, testicle-rattling destruction. Yet, after this clean hip check, noted daddy's boy Lil' Greggory Peggory Campbell does the "ooh, hold me back, you better hold me back, hold me back, I wanna get him, DUDE HOLD ME BACK" routine; and talking turnips Mike Milbury and P.J. Stock spent the rest of the game berating Subban for not fighting every Bruin on the ice. The words they used? "Respect" and "knowing your place".

NHL players ought to get their heads out of their butts on this. We see right through the "respect" nonsense. If you don't want to get embarrassed, don't embarrass yourself on the ice, and like Gillis says, keep the prissy stuff at home. Grow up and treat your fellow players like men. If you don't like him, say so. Don't pretend he has some deficit of character after he whups your butt and tells you about it. Because THAT, folks, is the real time-honored Canadian tradition.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best Shape Watch 2

Stephen Strasburg:

Stephen Strasburg appeared during halftime of CBS College Sports Network's San Diego State basketball broadcast on Wednesday night...

"I'm definitely in the best shape of my life," Strasburg told Ted Robinson. " Once you start throwing, it's gonna be a long process just getting your strength back, but I feel great about it and I have a really good feeling that I'm gonna come back at 100 percent....The surgery's down to a science, and you've just got to do what the doctors tell you."

Best Shape Watch

"I'll be ready to go for spring training," Berken said. "My arm feels phenomenal. It's stronger than it's ever been, pain free. It feels great. I anticipate and expect to be 100 percent ready to go for spring training and 100 percent ready to go this year. I'm just looking forward to getting after it."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interesting Record

Looks like we had a record warm year during a deep solar minimum last year. A very unusual occurrence.

Looks like we're going to get warmer.

Friday, January 14, 2011

This is the greatest column in American history

Richard Cohen, who for the last decade has been infallibly the last person to get the joke, writes the most jaw-droppingly inconceivable column in American history. I am so, so sorry I missed this at the time.

Cohen actually begins his column with what should be immortal lines...

"First, let me state my credentials: I am a funny guy."

As if that isn't tremendous enough, he later comments on one of the funniest lines in the history of American political comedy.

He referred to the recent staff changes at the White House, chiding the media for supposedly repeating the cliche "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" when he would have put it differently: "This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg." A mixed metaphor, and lame as can be.

I can't say enough about this column. Go read it. It's tremendous stuff.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

If this is football, let it die

Scottish Premier League in bold move to win backing for 10-team league...

This awful, awful nonsense has gone from bad to worse to worst. I am officially sick and tired of all of this, and have decided that I am quite pleased to announce that I am beginning a campaign to reduce the SPL to a 10-team league.

By booting Celtic and Rangers. To save Scottish football.

Are we not tired of the nonsense? I refer not only to the uncompetitive league season after season. I refer to the ridiculous, pro-wrestling like officiating displays in any game involving the Old Firm sides. To the constant low-level (or worse) warfare against press, officials and executives unless the Old Firm are given everything their way - a condition that usually occurs on the field regardless thanks to a spineless group of officials. I refer to a neverending torrent of sectarian *garbage* from both clubs and both sets of fans.

The ills of Scottish football lie squarely in the laps of the Old Firm.

Scottish football will never regain its past glory unless the Old Firm are thrown out of Scottish football. Perhaps we should let them remain to compete for the Cup.



For God's sake. If this is football, let it die.