Monday, October 31, 2005

A Football Rant in Two Parts - Part One

I knew from the second I read it on ESPN's The Bottom Line Saturday night: Tedy Bruschi was going to play, and it was going to be the only thing I was going to hear about for the next 24 hours.

An American Hero

No matter what Bruschi did -- he could intercept a pass, he could make no tackles, he could make one tackle on a kickoff, he could rescuscitate a dying child on the sideline, he could murder a member of the clergy in cold blood at halftime -- one thing was for certain: Bruschi was going to be a hero.

A little background for those that don't know. Bruschi has been a linebacker for the Patriots for about 8 or 9 years. He has always rightfully been seen as a role player, not a superstar. But suddenly, due to the inordinate amount of Patriot hype, he was vaulted into superstar status after last season. There were people saying that he was a hall-of-famer, despite the fact that he had only made his first Pro Bowl last year.

Then, shortly after the Super Bowl, Bruschi had a stroke. I don't think he had a real stroke, like the kind that makes one side of your face droopy. He probably had heatstroke or something. But anyway, he was declared out for the season. But somehow, miraculously, heroically, he got the clearance, checking with no less than 20 doctors, to finally play! Of course, he had to pick the primetime Buffalo game to do this. No amount of maniuplation here.

I will give full disclosure about this subject: I hate Tedy Bruschi. Yes, I am a Buffalo Bills diehard, which doesn't help, because the Patriots, for which Bruschi plays are one of our rivals. But even if he played with the Arizona Cardinals or the Kansas City Chiefs, I would detest this self-aggrandizing, fake-smiling, faux-inspiring, overrated, grandstanding asshole. Every time I see him, he's got that fake "look at me and what a great guy I am" look on his face. He's always carrying his kids around, which says, "hey, aren't I a great dad?" And don't think this is some sort of revisionist anti-Boston bias; I have always always hated this prick, nearly going back to his days at Arizona.

This is a byproduct of the Patriots being the most overhyped sports entity since the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s. Since he is a Patriot, he must be classy. Classy like the Patriots waving Terrible Towels at Pittsburgh fans in the AFC Championship game last year. Or classy like Bill Belichick letting Gillette Stadium's field go to shit so the Colts wouldn't be able to run as fast. Or classy like Belichick saying after the Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl that (the admittedly subpar) Freddie Mitchell was "terrible" and "we were glad when he was out there."

Yes, all class. And Bruschi is one of the classiest. The Patriots are treated with a sort of reverence usually reserved for great Americans like Tom Cruise and Martha Stewart. So it's clear that every accolade he gets is fully deserved.

But -- seriously now -- I could not believe the amount of knob-slobbing ESPN and the national sports media gave Bruschi for his comeback.

Here's what the boxscore says:

"Bruschi made two tackles and assisted on five."(London Fletcher usually has this many in one quarter, but never mind that.)

"Bruschi was involved in a tackle on Buffalo's second play from scrimmage and then slowed down Roscoe Parrish on a reverse that resulted in a 6-yard loss. After that, he made few noteworthy plays."

Some comments made about him after this truly truly unbelievable performance:

"...Tedy Bruschi has to be a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year, right?"
"Unbelievable. You're just not supposed to be able to do that.
Right? Wrong.
Bruschi believed the unbelievable"
(Says Michael Smith)

"Just getting back on the field again was enough for New England inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi to win a game ball."
"Bruschi had seven tackles while participating in 64 defensive snaps." (Note: when is the last time someone noted how many defensive snaps any player participated in?)
"It's hard to recall even one spectacular, game-alterting play that Bruschi authored..."
(Says the usually excellent Len Pasquarelli.)

"Instead of immediately showing a replay of Tedy Bruschi's first play back ... and, remarkably, a play on which Bruschi made a tackle -- we saw the graphic of the Bills' starting defense. Pfffft. There goes the moment." (Quoth the getting ever-worse Peter King)

But this praise and universal applause was nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the vomit-inducing coverage ESPN gave him. Honesly, Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire should be ashamed of themselves for the fawning, hyperbolic coverage they gave Bruschi. A few of my favorite moments:

  • Theismann saying, (paraphrasing) "How can you not root for Tedy Bruschi? The Buffalo Bills are rooting for Tedy Bruschi."
  • Showing a montage of Bruschi throwing his hands in the air (after not making a play) to the tune of that "Hero" song from the first Spider-Man movie.
  • Cutting to Bruschi's wife no less than a dozen times for no reason whatsoever. She wasn't crying or worried, just laughing it up in the stands.
  • The constant camerawork showing Bruschi after every Patriots' defensive play, even ones where he had absolutely no bearing on the outcome.
  • Failing to call Bruschi out on getting caught on blown coverage on a key Bills touchdown.

It was, in a word, sickening. Sports journalism -- and ESPN in particular -- are at their nadir. Something needs to happen sports fans. Rise up and revolt...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Kay Bailey's Short-Term Memory

I know I'm not even close to the first person to bring this up, but...

Kay Bailey Hutchinson on her vote to remove then-president Bill Clinton from office for perjury, February 12, 1999:

"The reason that I voted to remove him from office is because I think the overridding issue here is that truth will remain the standard for perjury and obstruction of justice in our criminal justice system and it must not be gray. It must not be muddy."

Bill Clinton was a Democrat.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson on the Valerie Plame case, which may bring indictments for Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby for perjury, October 23, 2005:

"[I hope] that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."

Karl Rove is a Republican. "Scooter" Libby is a Republican.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson is a Republican. Has she gone through a fundamental change in her interpretation of the law? Why was the "technicality" argument okay in 1999, but not now? Has she experienced some sort of post-Millennial epiphany about the nature of United States law? Knowing what she knows now, would she change her vote from the Clinton hearings? Call her up at 202-224-5922 and ask her. Or contact one of her many offices.

Have all of you who voted for Bush a year ago gotten what you wanted? Knowing what you know now, would you change your vote? Did you really think things were gonna get better with this think-tank running the show?

Go Fitz go!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sabre-rrific! (So Far Anyway)

Okay, I know it's early, but my Buffalo Sabres are 2-0 and looking very good after two games. It's taking the sting away from three straight Bills losses.

Rory Fitzpatrick - Defenseman (Rochester's own)

Ryan Miller - Goalie

Chris Drury - Center

Maxim Afinogenov - Right Wing

Daniel Briere - Center

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Stupid Things I've Done - Steffie

This one goes out to my boy Slim Colt, a true gentleman, and the only person I've ever seen wear 4 sports jerseys at one time. He was in town the other night and we recounted this story for the 900th time. It's a short one, but a good one.

When I think back on college, the images that usually come into my head are the nights in the dorm and in the bars. Other than the occasional dormitory party, I always think of the weeknights, where we'd just be in a lounge watching TV or doing homework or playing Tecmo Super Bowl and those kinds of things. And Thursday nights at the Shire, especially my senior year, were also especially memorable, though I have forgotten the details of nearly every single Thursday night I spent there. When I think of college, these are the things I think of and the things I miss the most.

But some events came out of the mundane events of a regular sober night, sometimes even occuring in the midst of studying.

One such evening, my buddy Mike "Slim Colt" Short and I were in the academic buildings, probably using a computer lab. Well, he was probably using the computer lab, I was probably searching for pictures of nude women or something. But that was way back then when such things interested me and the details are hazy at best.

So Mike and I, burly men that we were, got a bit of a hankerin' for some grub. So we headed down to the Dolphin Den, a small cafe-type area in the basement of Grewen Hall. (Note: Some of you may remember the Dolphin Den as the site of another stupid-ass thing I did with mayonnaise.) Then was usually empty or close to it on most weeknights, because classes were out and no one was in the building except for schoolnerds.

Wednesdays, however, were an exception. For you see, every Wednesday night, the college held classes for people with "special needs." (Don't worry, this is not going to turn into me making fun of people with special needs.) So around the same time every week, these groups of differently-abled teenagers and people in their early twenties would converge upon the Den to get food, or perhaps even a lovely beverage.

This particular day, Mike and I were waiting for some curly fries or some such item, and they were taking a bit longer than normal. As we waited, I made eye contact with one of the special needs girls. I waited a moment longer, and before I knew it, she had sidled up to me. She began to make a bit of small talk: "Those fries look good. Do you usually get them? Is this your first time here?" etc. She was very affable.

Suddenly, the conversation -- clearly going somewhere in this young lady's mind -- took an unexpected turn...

She said the following:

"So I have a question to ask you. (quietly, to herself) I can't believe I'm doing this... (normal volume again) Okay, so my friend Steffie has had a really bad week. So I was wondering, do you wanna go out with her?"

My brain began working overtime. I had no idea how to respond to this most unanticipated query. I had a couple options. I could have taken the easy, rude way out and simply said, "No." But my mama raised me better than that. I didn't want it to look like I was being insensitive to the girl just because she was in a special class.

I briefly (like, nanosecond briefly) bandied about the idea of humoring her, and saying, "Sure I will!" This would have allowed the young lady to save face. But this would have been disatrous. Though I was single at the time, I had my doubts that -- sight unseen -- Steffie would have been a viable counterpart for me, romantically. Okay sure, in theory, maybe Steffie was this young lady's hot nymphomaniac sister. Maybe this was some sort of unlikely oddball romantic comedy in the making. But the odds were against it. And assuming that Steffie was not compatible with my particular situation, all this would have done was get poor Steffie's hopes up.

What if I had been the "funny guy," and played along. It would only have been for Slim's benefit if that was the case. I could have said, struggling to contain my laughter, "Oh yeah, you tell Steffie to be here one week from tonight and I'll take her out for a steak dinner." I had a feeling this girl did not have a nose for my sarcasm and would not have detected the intended irony. Yeah, I'm a real cut up and next thing I know, I come to the Den in a few Wednesdays and have an armada of pissed off special needs folks ready to beat the shit out of me for jilting poor Steffie. I've had dreams about that kind of thing, so thank you, no. (Clearly, she would have been similarly disappointed had I actually shown up anyway, so either way this was a wash.)

There was only one way to solve this very delicate conundrum, and luckily, my subconscious was thinking faster than my conscious. The words came flowing out of me, completely independent of my actual working brain. The perfect two-word phrase escaped my lips so fast and involuntarily, that I was actually surprised after they had been uttered:

"I'm gay."

Steffie's friend suddenly broke eye-contact, nodded her head sympathetically, and wordlessly backed away, terminating any further conversation with me. I looked back at Slim and he was silently laughing. I wasn't sure if he was laughing at me because he found it funny, or if he found me pathetic. But I did know one thing...

Steffie's friend is a goddamn homophobe.