Monthly Archives: September 2005

Yes, Exactly

Simmons, making an argument I have myself, numerous times:

Well, you ask, isn’t that what following sports is about, arguing about dumb things? Absolutely. But you have to admit, with each passing year these subjective arguments become a little more uninteresting. Baseball player gets “snubbed” by All-Star voters, we go crazy … and never mention it again. Same for the Heisman and any Coach of the Year, or for Sportsman of the Year and the Best Team ESPY, for that matter. This year some of us have reached a curious low, hotly debating the AL Comeback Player award, with Bob Wickman backers claiming Jason Giambi isn’t worthy because his past struggles were related to steroids. Wait, now we’re assigning moral significance to our awards? By the way, can you remember anyone who has ever been Comeback Player of the Year?

Then again, I remember Bill writing multiple columns about the Steve Nash/Shaq MVP “controversy.”

Quote of the Day

“Politics is a team sport. Nobody can get anything done alone. But in today’s Washington, loyalty to the team displaces loyalty to the truth. Loyalty to the team explains why President Bush doesn’t fire people who serve him poorly, and why, as a result, his policies are often not well executed.
Loyalty to the team is why I often leave meals with politicians thinking “reasonable in private,” but then I see them ranting like cartoon characters on TV. Loyalty to the team is why someone like Chuck Hagel is despised in Republican ranks even though, whether you agree or not, he is courageously speaking his mind.
Will we learn from DeLay’s fall about the self-destructive nature of the team mentality? Of course not. The Democrats have drawn the 10-years-out-of-date conclusion that in order to win, they need to be just like Tom DeLay. They need to rigidly hew to orthodoxy. They need Deaniac hyperpartisanship. They need to organize their hatreds around Bush the way the Republicans did around Clinton.”

David Brooks, as quoted by Ross Douthat, in the New York Times.

Bringing Down the Vegas

Author Ben Mezrich must subscribe to the twin theories of “write what you know,” and “stick with what works.” Exhibit A: His first non-fiction book, “Bringing Down the House,” was subtitled “The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions.” A true story, it followed a nerd from MIT who, along with a team of friends, used a sophisticated gambling system to win millions of dollars from casinos in Vegas and elsewhere, thus drawing the ire of casino execs.
What’s the premise of Mezrich’s new book? It’s called “Busting Vegas,” its subtitle is “The MIT Whiz Kid Who Brought the Casinos to Their Knees,” and it’s a true story about… a nerd from MIT who, along with a team of friends, used a sophisticated gambling system to win millions of dollars from casinos in Vegas and elsewhere, thus drawing the ire of casino execs.
But don’t think Mezrich has merely written the exact same book again- “Busting Vegas” is about an entirely separate group of characters, and their system “has nothing to do with card-counting.” Good to know.

Quote of the Day

“Certainly, music is WAY more subjective. These two subjects are not even comparable. For example, I could insist that the greatest band in the world is actually four unsigned guys from Oregon who have never made a record and are just bouncing around the Portland club scene, and that this band is like what would have happened if Lennon & McCartney had formed a quartet with Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, and that these people write the best songs since The Smiths and they play louder than Blue Cheer. I could argue that this group is cooler than The Arcade Fire or the White Stripes, because I could insist they are more “authentic” or “incendiary” or “visceral.” I could create reasons that explain this hypothetical band’s greatness, and a few crazy people would find my theory interesting and potentially valid. However, I could never claim that the best quarterback in the country is actually some 28-year-old dude working in a car wash in downtown Detroit, and that this person is substantially better than Peyton Manning. That would immediately seem idiotic to everyone. This is why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is such a failure; there are no quantifiable qualities for the inductees. There is no way to *prove* that a musician is good. And this is not an issue in sports. There’s no risk that Greg Maddux won’t make the Baseball Hall of Fame simply because certain sportswriters don’t think he’s hip enough, or because they feel his pitching style is derivative.”

-Chuck Klosterman, from his latest chat with fellow bestselling author Bill Simmons. Chuck is also right about “Vitalogy” being the best Pearl Jam album, even though “(a) it had an oversized, environmentally conscious jewel case, which makes it impossible to file, and (b) that it was titled “Vitalogy,” which sounds like the name of a riboflavin supplement.”
Remember- last time they got together, Chuck supplied this blog’s 2004 quote of the year.

Phillie Hate, Cont’d

With a two-and-a-half game lead, the Houston Astros appear likely to overtake the Phillies and win the NL Wild Card. And- surprise!- the Phillies fan base isn’t seeing any silver lining in the excitement of the race, Jimmy Rollins’ active 33-game hitting streak, last night’s 16-6 victory over the Mets, or the presence of three 100-RBI men in the Phils’ lineup for the first time since 1932. In fact, judging by talk radio, the fans continue to treat their team like a 20-games-below-.500 squad, and are demanding to turn Citizens’ Bank Park into a “ghost town” next year, if Ed Wade and/or Charlie Manuel and/or significant numbers of players aren’t sent out the door.
I’m not arguing that Wade deserves to keep his job, and if the overmatched but still not as bad everyone says Manuel were to follow him into retirement, I wouldn’t object to that either. The team also clearly needs upgrades at catcher and third base. But local radio bloviator Howard Eskin has practically created an alternate reality, in which the team needs to “rebuild,” and Lou Piniella is about to walk in the door as manager. Nevermind that one of Eskin’s picks to replace Wade, former Mets GM Jim Duquette, made the Scott Kazmir-for-Victor Zambrano deal, which was likely more of a blunder than any move Wade has ever made. And I also don’t see how a man with 120 RBIs (Pat Burrell) could possibly be “unclutch,” as Eskin and his followers proclaim nearly every day.
No, I haven’t been in Philly very long, and I wasn’t around for all the years and years of losing. But I’ve become emotionally invested in this team and see a hell of a future in them. Though, that might just be because I have the fortune of being able to watch them without having “they’re gonna blow it!” in the back of my mind at all times. As Rick Pitino would say, “all the negativity in this town sucks!”

One Vanquisher of the Evil Empire Meets Another

Look who threw out the first pitch at Fenway tonight. Whatta Wookiee.
UPDATE: Despite Chewy’s support, the Red Sox lost 7-2 last night, dropping a game behind the Yankees in the AL East race. The loss also drops Boston’s record to 0-1 in games in which a Wookiee throws out the first pitch- then again, Chewy’s side didn’t win in “Revenge of the Sith,” either.
UPDATE II: SportsCenter’s Neil Everett’s call of the first-inning homer off Arroyo: “That was a great pitch- for me to poop on.” At least it’s still funny when Triumph says it…