Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Whole 42 Letters: Take 15

Welcome to week fifteen of your letters. This week we are covering creating new franchises, athletes playing other sports, what makes a sport a sport, and rooting for a new team. Basically, we are continuing our theme of discussing what it means to be a sports fan and doing weird hypotheticals. I guess you could say we have a type.

If you took 11 guys from the NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL and had them play a soccer tournament, who wins? I'd lean toward NBA because of the combination of athleticism and guys who probably grew up playing soccer, but I'm interested what you think. As a corollary, who would win between the offense and defense of any given football team (just have them play the starting 11 on 11, no gimmicky lineups)?

It has to be the NHL or the NBA because they have the most Europeans and guys who grew up playing soccer. The NBA guys would probably be a little worse than the hockey guys because hockey requires more lower body strength and balance, skills that carry over to hockey well.

As for offense v. defense, I think that the athletes are more on the defensive side of the ball. Being saddled with five 300 pounders might protect your QB but it doesn't help on defense unless you try and hermetically seal the goal. Defensive ends, linebackers, and cornerbacks would dominate.

I know Jerry Sandusky is 68 years old and that 30-60 years of incarceration guarantees that he'll die in prison, but don't you think we should've ramped it up and given him like 300? Was there recourse to do this, Mr. Law School?

The laws of our society of sentencing are in place not just for the specific person, or monster in this case, but everyone in that class of convicts. The reason he didn't get sentenced something like 300 years is because it sets a dangerous precedent. Justice for everyone is what democracy is all about and even if we want someone like Sandusky to rot in hell forever, he still deserves his rights. Being in law school is as boring as this answer, sorry.

Let's say you could no longer root for your favorite teams, doesn't matter the reason. And let's say you HAD to pick a different team to root for just as hard and follow just as closely in the leagues you have a team in. What teams would you choose to follow?

Generally speaking, I'd want my adopted team to 1. not be a rival of my old team, 2. not be me jumping on a bandwagon, 3. be on Eastern time (this is less important in football) so I can watch the games, and 4. be entertaining to watch.

In baseball, I'd go with the Rays. They fit all those categories and they are a great underdog against the Yankees and Red Sox. 

In basketball, I basically did this with the Knicks. I never had an NBA team until them, growing up in ACC country, but they fit this category as well. The endless drama, chest thumping of Tyson Chandler, and absurd and undeserving swagger of JR Smith, Melo, and Stoudemire, make this team exciting as hell. Throw them into the NY market and things get even more kray. I have no idea what is going to happen with them, but it's going to be entertaining from November to May. Everything I just said should be multiplied by a million because of Sheed

Yes he does deserve a video and a picture.
For football, there aren't any obvious answers. I guess I'd pick the Ravens. I like Ed Reed and Ray Rice a lot and the Wire was a pretty good show.

If an O's fan was selling their tickets on Subhub tonight and saw a "Jeff Maier" was buying them... think he'd sell them? Say the tickets are $50

Absolutely not. If for whatever reason you have playoff tickets and can't make the game, 1. never go to a game again and 2. sell them to your friends,  if you have any left after missing a god damn playoff game. In this specific situation, there is no way in hell I'd even sell to someone named Jeff, or if I were in Chicago, someone named Steve. Maier and Bartman did things that most of us would subconsciously do and probably don't deserve the blame they get. However, as has been discussed on this blog time and time again, sports are irrational. So if you're an O's fan, don't sell your tickets to any Jeffs no matter how much they offer.

Pick a sport, a city, a mascot, a team name, that doesn't already exist and could viably work in the market today. In essence, create the franchise you would want to see in sports today.

It has to be a football team in Los Angeles. LA can pay $2 billion for a baseball team and we have football teams in Nashville, Green Bay, Indianapolis, and Jacksonville. This makes no fucking sense. 

The team should be called the Los Angeles Jaguars (sorry Jacksonville you aren't a real franchise or city) and they would instantly be the biggest team in LA. The fact that there isn't a team in LA is one of the biggest mysteries in sports and despite all the rumors and rumblings about one coming, I won't believe it until they are running onto the field.

What are the top 4 worst fan bases

The question here is complicated. Do you measure worst as the angriest? least passionate? least likely to show up on time? least likely to show up? I'd say it is a combination of all of the above. 

1. Marlins. They moved to Miami but their attendance was still shit. I spent a week in Miami this summer and it is too damn nice to want to go to a baseball game. Honorable Florida mention goes to Rays and Heat fans.

2. Bills. Just move them to Toronto already.

3. Bobcats. They averaged 12,000 TV viewers last season. Holy shit move this team. How is this possible!

4. Dodgers. They don't show up, they want to have a legacy of being a great team, but it is mostly taken from Brooklyn, and they don't deserve unlimited budgets and Vin Scully.

Sport most likely to jump into top 4 that isn't soccer

Realistically, there is a big 1 (football), then two and three, (MLB and NBA), before a huge drop off to the NHL. Soccer is obviously the most logical for jumping into the next group, but beyond that you have several candidates. For a sport to make the leap there it needs to have a few important things going for it. 1. Do you know/can you easily learn the rules? 2. Can you play this sport? and 3. Do young people enjoy playing it so that it will gain momentum as they have kids and throw their kids into it (sorry tennis and golf)? and 4. Can sponsors get involved in shilling the gear and the athletes?

The answer that will never happen but satisfies the requirements is handball. This is one of those sports we love during the Olympics (and write 5000 words about it if we are Bill Simmons), but never watch again. It is simple, it has rules similar to sports we know, and it would be easy to market stars because they aren't in a pool, or wearing a helmet. The problem, and this is something that hurts most up and coming sports, is that they don't get the best athletes. However, there is always the possibility that some transcendent star comes, captures America's heart, and starts people into the sport, think Tony Hawk and the Xgames.

What sports announcer would narrate your life

Vin Scully. God damn that man is just pleasant and enjoyable. Someone like Gus Johnson might be better for the exciting parts of your life, but when I'm just sitting in the library studying or just watching TV I don't want to be hyped up. Scully is a national treasure, if you don't believe me listen to him translate Jim Tracy's meltdown.

Who's the Frattiest Athlete of each sport? (Inspired by )

Baseball: Bryce Harper, easy.

Football: Brian Cushing, listen to this. "My arms are looking sweet today." Also there's this picture: 

Yes, Cushing did test positive for steroids
Basketball: Mike Miller.

Tennis: Andy Roddick, doesn't matter that he just retired he is the GOAT of tennis frat boys.

What defines a sport? Athleticism? Competition? Defense?

What makes a sport a sport is incredibly difficult. Athleticism is a loaded term, because the kind of athleticism that Prince Fielder has, the hand-eye coordination to hit a 95 mph fastball, is less obvious than the offensive lineman who can run a 5.2 40 yard dash. To me, a sport requires physical athleticism of some sort.

Defense for me also includes going against a field of people. So in golf the defense is just everyone else. That's good enough for me.

Basically, if you keep score, need physical athleticism, and it is something with stats and records and competition it counts as a sports.

Sports: NASCAR, Golf, Skateboarding

Not sports: Capture the flag, sharks and minnows. 

Rank from most f'ed up to least f'ed up the change of teams for the following NBA stars: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Lebron James, and Shaq (to the Heat)

The NBA is a simple league. You need superstars, usually multiple to win championships, and superstars rarely come available unless you draft them. However, the history of the NBA is littered with players demanding trades, firing coaches, and leaving teams in the middle of their career. The vitriol towards LeBron and Dwight Howard is more a product of our current 24/7 news cycle than anything else. Here's a quick list of NBA stars who have forced a change: Wilt, Moses Malone, Kareem, Magic (got coach fired), Gary Payton, Charles Barkley, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Shaq (twice), Kobe (requested trade), Dwight Howard, and LeBron James.

Considering how common it is that players do this, why is it that we act so surprised and morally outraged at players for doing this? Players have typically wanted out because they thought the team couldn't win, wanted to go to a team that had a better chance of winning, wanted to make more money, wanted to move to a better city. 

Here's my rankings from most to least f'ed up.

1. Dwight Howard--his waffling hurt the leverage of the Magic and led them to get some salary relief, Arron Afflalo, and Al Harrington for the league's best center. He also cost respected coach Stan Van Gundy his job.

2. Deron Williams--he refused to run the plays that Jerry Sloan called. Broke up a team that was a middling contender, then half-assed his way through the next season in a half with the Nets. Is this really the guy who is going to take the Nets past the first round of the playoffs?

3. Shaq (to the Heat)--he was in a winning situation, and certainly doesn't deserve all the blame, but he was never in shape and drove Phil Jackson and Kobe crazy. This was a championship team that "only" won three rings largely because of his immaturity. The Lakers were able to get Lamar Odom and Caron Butler for Shaq but it would be a few more years and a Kobe trade request before Chris Wallace traded them Pau Gasol and won Kobe two more championships.

4. LeBron James--the Cavaliers were run horribly during Lebron's eight years there. The best player he ever played with is either Mo Williams (the 12th best point guard in the league) or Anderson Varejao (a poor man's Joakim Noah). LeBron probably will never say this, but he knows that with the roster they gave him, he could never win a ring. The Cavaliers needed him to do everything for them and for the most part he did. The Decision was tremendously bad and he deserves all the boos he gets in Cleveland but I think most people understand why he would rather play in Miami.

5. Carmelo Anthony--Melo was in a similar situation to Williams, a middling contender that might make the second round but was never going to get past the Spurs and Lakers in the West. He was traded before the lockout, which meant that if he waited until after the season for a new CBA that would restructure maximum salaries, he would be dependent on the negotiating abilities of Billy Hunter. Instead, he made it clear he wanted to go to the Knicks, even telling the Nets when they agreed to the terms of a deal for him that he wouldn't sign an extension. The Knicks, as they're apt to do, misread the market and got Billups, and his $14 million salary, along with Melo. The Knicks gave up Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari, nice young players, but I'd bet that neither ends up on an All-Star team in their careers. The real blame goes to the Knicks for overpaying when they were the only real suitors.

6. Chris Paul--The Hornets were in a shitty basketball and financial situation and Paul was their only hope. He never explicitly asked for a trade but didn't exactly object to going to the Lakers, and then the Clippers. Paul gets a free pass largely because the situation in New Orleans was so dire that blowing up the situation made the most sense.

Next week send your questions to Steve. Thanks for reading.


  1. What physical athleticism do you need for NASCAR?

    1. Quick reactions and hand eye coordination.

  2. I would argue that poker is a sport.

  3. A slight tweak on LA Jaguars for branding/marketing purposes:
    LA Cougars?