Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dan Shaughnessy is an idiot

This title is pretty obvious and it's low-hanging fruit to call out an out-of-touch hack newspaper writer on a blog, but I can't help myself and am doing a Fire Joe Morgan style takedown of Dan Shaughnessy's latest "picked-up pieces" column. Dan Shaughnessy is one of the last vestiges of an era when people had no choice but to read newspapers, especially in major markets like the Boston Globe where Shaughnessy has written for over thirty years. Due to a limited supply of options, people had to read the opinions of guys like Dan. At this point we can fairly easily yada yada yada why that's no longer the case and breathe a collective sigh of relief that Al Gore invented the Internet.

Dan Shaughnessy is here though. He's here with his thoughts after two weeks at Red Sox spring training. These thoughts might not make sense in any coherent column, but far be it for Danny boy to deprive us of his glorious "picked-up pieces."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

TW42Minutes: Running Diary of the 2014 Oscars

The Oscars are a great celebration of movies with an affinity for boring hosts, Ellen de Generes, "comback" narratives (see Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey), and throwing shade on women's fashion choices. They are smug, pretentious, uncomfortably unfunny, and a great way to spend four hours once a year. The three of us have continued our tradition of keeping a running diary of the Oscars for a third year.

Stay tuned for live updates every twenty minutes throughout the night.

3rd Annual Live Oscar Hatery

7:56 -- Early highlights of the night, using the phrase throwing shade in a sentence to explain the concept to my mom, “You’re throwing shade on that actress by saying, how did her hair and makeup, bleh.” (SP)

8:01 -- This year, I’ve seen 12 Years a Slave (cried), Dallas Buyer’s Club (cried twice!), Inside Llewyn Davis (with Jon!), Saving Mr. Banks, Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Gravity, Hunger Games, Anchorman 2, and About Last Night. I’m going with the favorites tonight, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity’s Director, McConaissance, Jared Leto, Cate Blanchett, and in a raycess upset over Lupita Nyongo, J-Law to fall on the stairs again as she wins her second Oscar. (SP)

8:11 -- I’m that annoying guy who’s watched one football game all year and then shows up at your Super Bowl party pretending I know everything about football. I saw Inside Llewyn Davis (with Sean!) and that’s it. Having said that, I have strong opinions on all these movies. NEESONS AIN’T GOT NO STATUE?

I don’t know enough to have even an educated guess, but I assume the Oscars will be mad racist and give Gravity the statue over 12 Years. (JM)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jason Collins And When A Story Isn't A Story

Whether he plays or not, Jason Collins will make history when he suits up for the Nets tonight (right as I'm posting this he just checked in). No out gay man has played a major American team sport, and Collins will be the first. That barrier has fallen tonight.
Signing Jason Collins is a vintage Mikhail Prokhorov Nets move. The team, currently in eighth place in the craptastic Eastern Conference, is all sizzle only missing the sizzle. It’s an expensive collection of veterans - per Zach Lowe, the Nets owe more in luxury tax payments than any other team's payroll - led by a first-year coach and team legend, who couldn’t even win a personality battle with former head coach and future actuary Lawrence Frank, banishing him to preparing detailed reports in an assistant capacity. The only redeeming personality Kidd could conjure was in growing a kickass Bond villain beard. The team he has is undeniably skillful, and at one point featured five starters who possessed all pro talent, but that talent has not translated into victories. The owner is a Russian billionaire who, as of three years ago, did not know where his 200-foot mega-yacht was, and whose outer trappings really are that of a Bond villain. He does not attend the games (perhaps he misplaced his arena). The franchise, meanwhile, is nothing but a cynical branding exercise, which makes sense in a cynical branding exercise called Brooklyn. The aesthetic, in ever-chic black and white, is the literal embodiment of wealth yearning for meaning.

The Nets aren't the best thing money could buy, but certainly an example of money put to use. They just forgot one thing: the team is mind-numbingly dull to watch.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Protecting the Shield: Why the NFL really cares about Michael Sam

Sunday night, everyone found out what Michael Sam's friends, family, and teammates had known for some time--Sam is an openly gay football player. Sam's courageous decision brought much deserved admiration, but soon after being lauded, the ramifications on his career, specifically his draft status, became the focus of the story. This quick pivot away from Sam's decision is partially a product of our news cycle but was fueled by an SI news article, posted shortly thereafter titled, "How will news that Michael Sam is gay affect his NFL draft stock?" This article, full of off-the-record quotes from eight anonymous NFL executives and coaches, subtly explains exactly why Michael Sam's homosexuality will drop him in the NFL draft, costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars and hurting his chances of making an NFL roster.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Richard Sherman is actually a dick though

There's been plenty of coverage about Richard Sherman's post-game interview with Erin Andrews. Richard Sherman is black, talented, and arrogant, and people have said racist things about him. However, let's not forget one thing: Richard Sherman is an arrogant asshole, and I don't have to like him.

Many members of the mainstream media were disappointed, outraged, or upset by Richard Sherman's outburst with Erin Andrews after the NFC Championship Game. They said that it showed bad sportsmanship (he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting Michael Crabtree), winning without grace, and unsavory self-aggrandizement. None of these are false. They just don't matter. Richard Sherman has no obligation to be sportsmanlike, or graceful, or humble because he's a football player, and professional athletes are held to a "higher standard." If you're holding pro athletes to a "higher standard," you're a naive idiot.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Preaching to the Choir: A Handy Guide to Why Advanced Stats Aren't Stupid

I read an article recently that redirected me to the blog of Murray Chass, the former New York Times baseball writer who is famously against the phenomenon known as "the passage of time." The fact that he has a blog is kind of amazing. He's in the "computer geeks in their mothers' basements" crowd, the sort of person who reads Parade Magazine every week. This also puts him squarely on the side of people who HATE advanced stats. He's an anti-sabermetrics extremist, the kind who would characterize sabermetrics as "well he hits fly balls 20% of the time on Tuesday and 30% of the time on Wednesday, and goobledee gobbledee I don't know what they're tryin' to say!" You know the type.

The article that I read was on Murray's fervent support of Jack Morris as a Hall of Famer. While it would be great to go through and do a FJM-style takedown of this piece, I want to address some larger points that anti-"advanced stats" people have, and perhaps clear up some misconceptions. Maybe we can ease a little hostility between the Murray Chassosaurs of the world and the charts 'n' graphs HOTSHOTS.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Brief Comments on the Incognito/Martin Story

Three brief comments on the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying story.

1. Why is the lede of ESPN's current article about this story using a phrase like "accusations of harassment and misconduct toward teammate Jonathan Martin" when there is hard evidence in the form of an incriminating and offensive voicemail -- a story which ESPN broke -- along with an electronic history of harassment via Twitter? Some of the harassment is merely alleged, and the article later makes reference to the existence of the voicemail, but it misstates the general principle: e.g. Incognito inarguably bullied Martin. Plus, in giving a voice to Incognito, who in classic persecution-complex fashion is trying to "weather the storm," ESPN is lending credence to the persistent idea that Incognito is the one wronged and Martin is just a baby. Martin, who has essentially gone AWOL since the start of the story, is not quoted (nor does the article mention if he was contacted or not).

This couched language may be a matter of company policy (or AP style, I'm not sure), but it's pseudo-honest journalism that actually may be more dishonest.

2. That article, whose lede is about Incognito and not Martin, also alludes to an allegation attributed to the Sun Sentinel that "Dolphins coaches asked Incognito to toughen Martin up this past spring, after Martin missed a voluntary team workout" and that Incognito simply took this campaign of intimidation too far. The Dolphins are cooperating with an NFL investigation into this story but it throws the hypocrisies of the NFL sharply into the foreground. Last year, Roger Goodell pursued and suspended Sean Payton for an entire season for overseeing a program that incentivized putting opposing players in harm's way. Physical and mental health should not be held in such different regard, and neither should the fact that this harm was directed at a teammate. I highly doubt Philbin is penalized, primarily because he can plausibly claim that he was unaware of the bullying going on, but the contrast is illuminating. 

3. The most frequent of criticisms -- that Martin is weak/should man up/some other euphemism implying he has female genitalia and that people in the media simply don't understand NFL team culture -- seems backward to me. Some forms of hazing can foster camaraderie, but this story is not about Martin not being able to suck it up and put on a costume. It's a story of consistent abuse, with the added element of power/superiority as Incognito is Martin's senior in the league. Martin may be more sensitive than most, but it seems to me at least the Incognito is the one who doesn't understand team culture.