Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Growing up in New Jersey, being a Red Sox fan was unique - and often unbearable. These were the days when there was no fierce Boston-New York rivalry - only an annual embarrassment at the hands of the Yankees, followed by my showing up to school to be laughed at by friends, strangers and, worst of all, teachers. During my high school years the Yankees were the champs when I was a freshman, junior and senior. Granted, the Red Sox also made the play-offs during the latter two years, but even a naively optimistic young fan like me knew that even if we got past the first round, there was no getting past the Yankees. In ‘99, their fourth starter was Roger Clemens. Ours was Pat Rapp.
I learned to develop some thick skin. The gym coach - Coach E - gave it to me the worst, never missing an opportunity to rub it in, after Heathcliff Slocumb blew another save, or Paul O’Neill got another nail-in-the-coffin hit. As a freshman, he gave me the unimaginative nickname, “Boston.” By the time I was a senior, I was “Merloni.” Gym softball games took on a whole new edge. There was the coach, every time I stepped to the plate, leading a steady chorus of “Loouuuuu....” If I hit a pop-up or a slow ground ball, as I often did, it only further proved Boston’s inferiority.
But there was never a thought of switching sides - not even to the Mets, who in high school were about as hapless as the Red Sox. My Dad, a Chelsea, Massachusetts native, had told me before I was old enough to protest, that I didn’t have to be a Red Sox fan, that could root for the Mets if I wanted, but that under no circumstances was I to root for the Yankees. The agreeable kid in me just stuck with the Sox. And sure, it was tough to come to school after a tough loss the night before, but there was also something about rooting for Boston that was akin to being in a secret club. I would wear my warm-up jacket to school and exchange a knowing smile with the only other overt Sox fan - a kid two years behind me who occasionally wore a faded 1995 Division Champs shirt. We didn’t even know each other, but dammit, we were in this thing together: two Jedi in a sea of Storm Troopers (and this was before 2004, when the media beat the whole Star Wars angle to death.)
I’m not sure when I realized that I was one of the Storm Troopers, but I do remember that when I returned to college for my senior year, I couldn’t help but notice the unexpected profusion of Red Sox hats around campus. It was late August of 2003 and the Sox were in the thick of another race with the Yankees. Whether people had caught the fever of Papi’s breakthrough season, or whether they were simply tired of a Yankee stranglehold on the division, a student body that once seemed fairly indifferent to east coast baseball (this was in Ohio), now seemed decidedly pro-Sox. Of course the new support didn’t change the outcome of the season, but it did mean that I had a few more people with whom I could drown my sorrows, after Aaron Boone took Wakefield deep.
By 2004, the breakdown of Yankees and Red Sox fans in the country seemed just about even - with maybe a slight edge going to the Red Sox. The Sox had earned the sympathy factor after eighty-six years of dashed hopes. Or maybe formerly impartial fans were just tired of the Fox promos reminding us of those eighty-six years every time we turned on a game. Or maybe they were tired of hearing bitter Sox fans whine. Or maybe the Sox were just the more likable team, and all factors being equal, did you really want to root for a corporate sellout robot like Jason Giambi, when hairy Johnny Damon (in his pre-corporate sellout robot phase) was on the other side of the ball?
But during that series, I was back in New Jersey. And since high, nothing had changed. When Damon hit the grand slam to bury the Yankees in Game 7, I celebrated loudly and obnoxiously in a bar full of shocked guys in Jeter shirts. This was the cliched story of the high school nerd getting the last laugh against all the high school bullies. This was an even worse B movie script than Kirk Gibson circa 1989.
Throughout the end of the season, I had gotten into the habit of listening to Michael Kay on ESPN radio. There are few people in sports - people in general - who bother me more than Michael Kay. My Dad and I never fail to refer him without his complete title: The Insufferable Michael Kay. Or IMK, to shorten things. On the Morning After, IMK was more or less at a loss. I have almost never heard him this way - without any cheap dig at the Red Sox. (This is the man who earlier in the summer said he could never support a team whose rampant facial hair demonstrated such disrespect for the game.) This morning, IMK was ranting about the Red Sox losing their identity. “Boston fans will rue the day they lost their identity!” he whined. He sounded like Skeletor - the cartoonish villain who, after being soundly embarrassed when victory had once seemed imminent, pathetically whimpered, “I’ll be back!” I laughed at IMK and promptly forgot about him.
Fastforward to 2008 - in the wake of another Sox championship, which unlike the first, was really fun for Sox fans and absolutely no one else. I am in Washington, DC, which should be impartial territory - at least impartial to the Red Sox. The Post covers two (inconsequential) major league teams, one of whom the (perpetually rebuilding) Orioles, is in the same division as the Sox and Yankees. And true - I see my share of curly W hats down here. But for every curly W, I also see a big red B. Shouldn’t this make me happy? My team has become iconic; the B is the symbol of the American Dream, the hope that one day the nerds can overtake the bullies. I have to be happy - or else Michael Kay wins.
But... last week, walking down Connecticut Ave, not far from the zoo, I went into Starbucks to see a family of four in full Red Sox regalia. The dad had his Schilling jersey. The two boys were Manny and Papi. I was also wearing my Sox hat, and it occurred to me that maybe I should say something - a simple “Go Sox” perhaps. This is what I would have done ten years ago if I had seen old B in an unfamiliar locale - just a little nod, to say “Stay strong - we’ll get ours some day!” As the family passed me to leave, I thought about at least making eye contact. But I didn’t do it. Do you stop someone on the street who has on the same fleece as you? Or the same shoes? Conventional thinking says that this just isn’t an important enough reason to talk to a stranger. And neither is the same Red Sox logo - not any more.
Does this make it any less fun to be a fan? Sometimes. Until I console myself with the memory of two championships in the last four years. And until I think about the abject misery of ten-year-old boy approaching me after a tough loss at Yankee Stadium and shrieking in my face, “Boston Sucks!!” and his father patting him on the back as if to say, “God job, son.” (This actually happened to me - at least twice.) In a column a while back, Bill Simmons also lamented the condition of the hardcore Sox fan, post-2004. “Believe me,” he concluded, “We don’t miss being on that island.” And he’s right. And Michael Kay is wrong - I don’t rue the day we won that first championship. If being a Sox fan makes me a bully now, then so be it - it still beats being a nerd. But give me a little time. The transition from the bottom to the top happens as quickly as you can say, “Foulke underhands to first,” but it takes a lot longer than that for a true fan to get accustomed to a new identity.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Having watched absolutely no college basketball this year, I figured that today was a good day to start. Some thoughts from the 7pm games:
-So I find my assgroove on the couch, turn on CBS, hoping to get a glimpse of the super freshmen, O.J. Mayo (Praise Allah that Chris Berman doesn’t cover basketball) and Michael Beasley. What do I get? Duke vs. Belmont (who I referred to as “
-Watching the Duke game and rooting for Greg Paulus to suffer an injury of Theismann proportions, it hit me: So this is what it’s like to root against the Yankees. Interesting.
-Mason down 14 near the end of the first half. Looks like George Mason ain’t this year’s George Mason either.
-SUS NCAA Pool update that no one cares about: In the SUS pool, Marc M is winning, going 12 for 12, and MissMet is the highest SUS writer, with 10 of 12, tied with 12 others for 8th place. Me? I’m tied with 5 others, including Mahatma for 37th place out of 43. Oh, and coming in 43rd is SHMUCK, who was so busy writing articles that he forgot to fill out his bracket. Let’s just say that so far my “take no advice and go with my gut” strategy isn’t working.
Mike and Mike in the Morning
White Boy: A+ This might be the most perfect pairing in sports radio history. (Sorry Mike and Chris) The comedic interplay between the beefy ex jock Mike Golic and the diminutive and somewhat narcissistic Mike Greenberg is perfect for the morning drive time airwaves. Whether it’s Golic making fun of Greeny’s hair gel, or Greeny making fun of Golic not remembering his first ever game playing against Brett Farve; these two have the kind of chemistry that Oscar and Felix had on the Odd Couple. They also complement each other perfectly as sports analysts. Greeny is the typical sports dork who knows all the odd stats and figures and Golic is typical of the ex jocks who are able to effectively communicate to the listener what it is like to be in the huddle in the end of a tie game in the 4th quarter. Quite simply, this program boasts the most professional production on either station.
Devo: A- So their banter definitely deserves an A+. Like White Boy said, they have unbelievable chemistry together. My main problem is that because they are on ESPN radio, they always have tons of guests who frankly, I’ve already heard dozens of times and couldn't care less about. Sometimes the interviews are good, but I’d rather hear the two of them talk about whatever’s going on. Also, as a morning show, they basically have a G rating. There's not much better in the NYC area, but down in the DC area, I'd rather listen to The Sports Junkies. (Picture Sports Guy on the radio) So yeah, I enjoy these guys, but if they were on another station, perhaps one not owned by Disney, they’d be even better.
Steven A. Smith
White Boy: B+/A- Steven A is truly one of a kind. He is as likely to open up a show breaking down the NBA trade deadline deals as he is making fun of random Coldplay song for being white boy trash. He is as loud as he is opinionated. In case you ever forget he is black, he says something alluding to his race or to an issue surrounding race. Sometimes this gets annoying but sometimes he brings up issues that need to be discussed but that other hosts are afraid to talk about. His basketball acumen is the strongest on the
Devo: A- Say what you want about the man, but there’s truly no one else like him on the airwaves. I’m not always in the mood for his sometimes-over-the-top analysis, but like White Boy said, sports talk radio would be a lot duller without him. He’s the type of guy who I really enjoy listening to now that the Knicks are embarrassing. He makes no bones about their putrid play and becomes as embarrassed as your standard Knicks fan. That said, I like listening to him talk football and baseball for the same reason that I like listening to ex-Georgetown coach John Thompson talk about those sports: when they talk about football and baseball, they’re not experts but simply as knowledgeable as the average sports fan. But the weirdest thing about Steven A.? He blatantly steals his intro from Mike & the Mad Dog.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
David Koci- he’s always out acting tough and starting shit.
Honorable Mentions- Martin Havlat for kicking almost as much as a place kicker
Team Douche Level: 2
Columbus Blue Jackets
Nicholai Zherdev- because he always acts like a selfish, spoiled brat.
Honorable Mentions- Rick Nash cause he isn’t as much as a power forward as he makes himself out to be
Team Douche Level: 2
Detroit Red Wings
Chris Chelios- was there ever any doubt? I mean there isn’t one good thing to say about this guy. Everything he does is douche.
Honorable Mentions- Dominic Hasek, Pavel Datsyuk for always choking in the playoffs
Team Douche Level: 7
Darcy Hordichuk- all he does is hit from behind. No really, that’s all he actually does.
Honorable Mentions- Jordin Tootoo: ear biter
Team Douche Level: 6
St. Louis Blues
Keith Tkachuk- because his legacy will always be coming to camp 22 lbs. overweight. Fucking fat ass.
Team Douche Level: 2
Mike Keenan- again an exception because this guy is about as much of as douchebag as you can get
Honorable Mentions- Owen Nolan for playing dirty to make up for his lost scoring touch, Wayne Primeau because he sucked for the Pens and I hate his brother
Team Douche Level: 6
Peter Forsberg- he dives all the time then points out others who he claims do it. Pot, meet kettle.
Honorable Mentions- Ryan Smyth cause he cries like a bitch, Ian Laperriere
Team Douche Level: 5
Dwayne Roloson- he hangs out and sides with Chelios on a regular basis, that’s enough for me
Honorable Mentions- Joni Pitkanen because he used to be on the Flyers,
Team Douche Level: 3
Todd Fedoruk- the guy has tried to attack people on their way to the locker room, that’s a douche
Honorable Mentions- Derek Boogaard, Jaques Lemaire for being so boring
Team Douche Level: 4
Trevor Linden- seriously, hang them up already
Honorable Mentions- Markus Naslund
Team Douche Level: 3
Todd Bertuzzi- he broke a guys neck on purpose, that gives him a life time douche award
Honorable Mentions- George Parros for his 70’s moustache, most the team cause they always want to fight
Team Douche Level: 8
Mike Modano- during the lockout he claimed he needed the money because his dog needed to eat. That’s a good way to win people over to your side after making $9mm the previous year.
Honorable Mentions- Mike Ribiero who looks the part, Krys Barch
Team Douche Level: 4
Dan Cloutier- for letting in every shot from the blue line and beyond
Honorable Mentions- Scott Thornton, Marc Crawford for actually thinking Cloutier is a good goalie
Team Douche Level: 3
Wayne Gretzky- once a douche, always a douche
Honorable Mentions- Daniel Carcillo, Ed Jovonovski the “big hitter”
Team Douche Level: 5
San Jose Sharks
Jeremy Roenick- one of the biggest douchebags ever. Hits from behind and won’t man up, but as soon as he gets hit he cries to mommy and anyone else who will listen. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, its really too much to fully explain for this man. And in case you didnt know, that's him in the picture above.
Honorable Mentions- Joe Thornton, Ron Wilson
Team Douche Level: 6
Essentially, MLB thought they could cut a few costs on the big "Opening the season in Japan" experiment by not paying bonuses to the coaches and staff of the Sox and the A's, even though they are paying each player $40,000 to make the trip. The Red Sox players, upon learning of this, voted unanimously to cancel the trip and boycott their last spring training game. You gotta hand it to these guys, $40k is a drop in the bucket to some of them, but they didnt forget their roots here. Thats a good deal of money to the guys who wash the jerseys and pick up the balls after batting practice. Even for the coaches, $40k is 40% of the salary for some on the lower rungs. Heres to labor sticking it to management!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
1. George Washington has a nose that could out-jew any real jew.
2. Those old powdered wigs were just wigs, not their actual hair. What's odd about this is that the younger men have darker hair and older men have graying wigs. Oh, and John Adams? He was bald. Who knew?
3. Continental Congresses are awesome. The Next SUS meeting will be modeled after one. BH called the Virginia delegation, I'm calling Massachusetts, SHMUCK and MissMet can fight it out over who gets to be New Jersey, same with Yinzer and Mahatma for Pennsylvania. White Boy is definitely getting Delaware
3. Abigail Adams was hot.
4. Paul Revere should have been played by Jack Black.
5. Pig Vomit is a direct descendent of our 2nd president, John Adams, THE MAN WHO UNITED THE STATES.
Mike & The Mad Dog
Devo: You could make an argument that these guys are cultural icons. They’re the most popular hosts on the most popular sports talk radio network in the country. If these guys had never been around, would sports radio be the behemoth that it is today? Probably, but possibly not. With all that said, I’m not a fan. Mike is knowledgeable but an asshole who hates his callers. Mad Dog is by all accounts a real nice guy, but also a complete idiot. Even his book (which I stole from White Boy) has grammar errors. They are the most well known guys in the area, but all the locals know that there are better places to find good NY Sports Talk. Bonus points for apparently hating each other from years 7 thru 12 of their 20 year existence and still working through their intense hatred.
Boomer & Carton
(The intro to The Boomer Esiason Show is nothing if not classy.)
Point: So you’re the WFAN program director. You have an entire summer to fill Imus’ morning slot. You use about 7 or 8 different groups of people to host for one week at a time. All of them except for Mad Dog are very good. (Especially Francessa and Carlin.) So you pick any of the 6 or 7 hosts that did well right?
Nope. You go out and get a hack of an NFL analyst along with some guy who calls himself the Jersey Guy. Mike & Mike owe these guys a thank you note for helping improve their ratings.
Counterpoint: Carton is just awful. He is only like Imus in that he tries to be controversial. Difference is, Imus is good at it and funny at times where as Carton is not. He is boring, annoying and adds nothing to WFAN. Though on the plus side, he let me explore the rest of the morning show world. As for Boomer, I know Devo and many others aren’t a fan but I like the guy. He knows football as well as anyone and is able to keep Carton on task for the most part. However it should be noted that since I’m never up before 10 am except on Thursdays and some Wednesdays, I don’t really listen to them much.
So because its "March Madness" we are hearing the incessant ramblings of this fucking no talent ass clown that is Tyler Hansbrough. You know how I know you're gay? When people refer to you as blue collar. Seriously, this guy's biggest claim to fame is that he has no skill and he tries hard. Oh right and he has a non-stop motor. Non-stop motor is slang for being an unathletic white guy. Big fucking deal.
Sure he can score a lot in college but you know what? So did Devo and look where is he now...LAWSCHOOL! Why must the media folk get all hard over this pos? We all try hard. Oh right but not all of us are from the midwest. And uh white. And uh overachieve. WOW what a unique combo!!!
Anyway, so I did some research on my new favorite basketball player and found this lovely gem:
This video about does it for me. What a fucking girl!! I'm sorry but no "blue collar" guy looks like that much of a sissy. I bet if he actually tried to hit my man over here he'd get knocked the fuck back to the farm in Missouri where he's from.
SO with his "blue-collarness" stricken from the record, how can one describe Tyler Hansbrough? Let's scrub the the tape and find some answers.
And there you have it, folks. I can only think of one word to describe this kid...douchebag.
I mean seriously what a HOMO!!!!!
In a landslide, Tyler Hansbrough wins the SUS douchebag of the month award. Some may say he has enough hardware but one can always find room for this one. Wear your pink,popped-collar shirt proudly, Tyler. Your "hard work" has truly paid off.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Benningo & Roberts
Devo: These guys are to sports talk radio what Straight Up Sports is to blogging. (Known by 3 people?) Simply the best. They’ve got damn good chemistry on the air, combining the old (Benningo, 50-something years old) with the new (Roberts 24 years old).
First off, Benningo is nothing if not a man of the people. He was Joe from
Roberts, meanwhile, is my long lost brother. He’s 24, I’m 25. He spent some time in
White Boy: I have to be fair here. I love Joe Benningo. He was and forever will be the greatest over-night talk show host of all time. His Jet, Met and Knick tirades will forever warm the cackles of my heart as will his infamous 1995 prediction, “the Mets will make the playoffs before the Yankees.” His ads for ‘UMBEEEEEEEEERTOOOOOOOOS CLAMHOUSE!” were my lullabies. Evan is also great. Unlike Devo, Evan is an authentic diehard Nets fan which I guess I give him credit for; he might be the only one. He, like Joe, is a man of the people and like Joe you get the feeling he won’t ever change in that way. He is also very bright and speaks very well, which unfortunately, not everyone does at WFAN. (Russo) My only issue is that I think Joe’s bombastic and loud style has been curbed by the powers that be at WFAN. Now instead of all out tirades, he makes simple and short loud comments interspersed with calm analysis. I guess that’s the right format for mid-day radio but I miss the days where Joey B would spend literally 3 separate 20 minute segments just going ballistic about a 4pm loss to the Bills at home or Pedro choking away the 2003 ALCS. Joe Benningo, greatest overnight host of all time, R.I.P.
Carlin & Jones
Devo: The Continent and the Hottie. As I’ve said before, in a profession where most everyone is fat, Carlin is still known by his peers as The Fat Guy. But more importantly, big ups to Carlin for being from
White Boy: I think Jeter and Shockey are friends so maybe they just agreed to let Jeter have him. Jeter has definitely hit that. Sadly, instead of being jealous of Derek, I root them on because they would easily be my favorite celebrity couple of all time. (Minor celebrity in Kim’s case) As for actual show quality, they do an amazing job. Sadly they are much better than the real morning duo of Carton and Boomer. Carlin is kind of like the anti-Jim
Sunday, March 16, 2008
1. Lowell, MA. Sure, they could've played any of the dozens of clubs in Boston and sold them out, but they played Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA. (home to your Lowell Devils! Woohoo!) Not only were there very few signs telling me how to get there, but the GPS in my car refused to recognize the address or "Tsongas Arena." We had to stop at a convenience store and ask for directions, as the dude spoke to me through the bulletproof glass. We got there late and missed about 20 minutes of the show. And I'm not saying Lowell, birthplace of Jack Kerouac is a shitty area, but Tsongas Arena was on MLK Blvd. Take it away Chris Rock...
2. The awful smell from the moshpit. I'm not expecting a rose-scented mosh pit, but man, you walk in there, and if you're not trying to escape the 6'2 280 lb shirtless meathead who is rubbing up on you, you're trying not to puke after smelling the stench of dozens of dudes who need a shower. Now.
3. Crowdsurfers. New rule: Everyone is allowed to crowdsurf once in your life. It's a cool feeling, and frankly, everyone should be able to say they've done it before. But unless you're under 130 lbs, you don't get to do it again. Ever. By the end of the show, I had some big dudes asking me to pick them up. An unwritten rule of the pit is you always help them crowdsurf when they ask. Fuck that, I told them maybe later.
4. Mohawks. So not only am I dealing with a crazy moshpit, 180 lb mofos crowdsurfing to me from all directions, but now I gotta worry that some kid with a mohawk is going to poke my eyes out? Not cool. And here's my question: these kids with the mohawks, what do they do with their hair the other 350+ days each year when they're not at a punk show? Then they just become some dude with odd hair who, uh, isn't exactly getting a cushy job any time soon with that haircut. Damn, I'm old. And angry.
5. The "Yankees Suck" chants. Really? At a DKM show? You're going to focus on the Yanks and not the band? Oh and guys, one last thing for all of you, now that I'm not surrounded by crazed Massholes: 18-1. Boo ya!
6. The Murphys are now an icon, and not a punk band. The Murphys play some great punk music. They did this consistently for their first 4 albums. But over the course of their last two albums, they've become icons, known for representing the Boston area. As such, they've strayed from simply being a punk band to playing all sorts of odd pop songs, but in a quasi-punk manner. Need further proof?
Compare the New (Tessie)
with the old (The Gauntlet):
(And this doesn't even include DKM's early fans who think they started sucking once about 4-5 albums ago.)
The following is a text message exchange between me (in Cambridge) and Mahatma (maintaining the SUS empire in Manhattan)
Devo: I forgot how many white people there are in Cambridge.
Mahatma: So says the kettle.