Friday, January 18, 2008

New Blog Feature Thing: Reader Extra Participation Fridays

I was facing two big problems earlier tonight.

1) I am tired
2) Gregg Easterbrook released a TMQ column this week that contains some absolutely wretched analysis

I mean, how was I supposed to reconcile these two with each other? If I go to bed, Easterbrook's turd of an article goes unchecked, probably forever. If I take a bunch of time to complain about the article, I go to bed late. Then I'll just be tired again tomorrow. And maybe Saturday too. What kind of bullshit life is that? How am I supposed to break that vicious cycle if I don't start tonight? But just as I was starting to panic, I had an idea. Let me lay it out for you slowly, so that by the end of the explanation you're so bored with what I'm saying that you have no interest in being a part of the idea.

Yesterday saw FireJay set another direct traffic record. Very exciting stuff. We also shattered our old record for being looked for on search engines; Google was overflowing with lovejuice for us. And the 34 comments (granted, like ten of them are from me, Chris W, and pnoles, but don't burst my bubble) on the Simmons piece has to be close to an all time record for the blog as well. So there's definitely a lot of you out there reading this drivel. I mean, shit, look at you right now. You could be doing anything on the internet. But you've chosen to be here.

Therefore, here's my idea: every Friday, we do a sort of play on those "You Write the Caption" competition magazines and blogs are always having. It used to be one of my favorite features in Sports Illustrated For Kids, even though most or all of the winning selections were probably written by kids' parents. But whatever. Anyways, for our little thingy I'm describing here, instead of a picture, we'll just present you with a handful of quotes from a terrible article and a theme for you to follow in your responses. Then you all just go buck wild making up jokes from the perspective of the author, which is sort of caption-ish in a way. Pow. Instant comedy. I mean, what better way to celebrate this windfall of new readers than by asking you to show us and each other how witty and snarky you can be? I hate the word snark, but I think its made-up definition applies nicely to what FireJay and blogs like it are all about. You wouldn't be here if you didn't like snark, and weren't pretty damn good at being snarky yourself. Hell, most of you are probably better at being snarky than I am. I'm really more angry/angsty. Snark snark snark. Fuck that word. See? I'm pissed now.

But seriously, you can see what I'm getting at here. I want you all to use your rapist's wits to help make the blog a funnier place. Some of you already do that in the comments section on a daily basis, but I want Friday to become a special day where you really focus and bring your A games. And on top of that, maybe some of you that read but don't comment will be inspired by this feature to make the plunge into commenting every once in a while.

This week will be the trial run. If it flops, we'll pretend it never happened. If it's even a mild success, which I define by having at least two commenters participate without making fun of me for thinking this would work, then we'll keep it going.

Easterbrook went like ten steps further than he usually does this week in terms of making shit up and passing it off as the truth. Here, he speculates as to why some of the NFL's divisional playoff games turned out the way they did.

Dallas took its regular-season finale off, then had the bye week, then honked at home. As you just might possibly have heard, certain Cowboys not only lost focus during the bye but treated the week as a vacation! Receiving millions of dollars per year for a part-time job, some Dallas players nevertheless felt they had to award themselves a vacation to get their minds off the playoffs -- and as we saw Sunday, the Cowboys' minds surely were off the playoffs!

Really? How did we see that? They piled up 11 penalties, but that alone isn't going to convince me. I'm going to need a little bit more explanation than "as we saw Sunday, [X], and that is that because I said so and I like science fiction a lot."

Romo kept trying to throw deep, rather than throwing slants, which are the standard counter to the big blitz. You sensed Romo wanted to hit a deep pass so everyone would credit him for winning the game.

Did I? I'm pretty sure I didn't. I mean, Romo's usually a spotlight hogging asshole, but- oh wait, no, that's someone else on his team. Nevermind.

Garrett never straightened Romo out in the fourth quarter -- perhaps because Garrett's head wasn't really in the game, either.

So I guess Gregg was either at the game, or has a magical TV feed that allows him to watch what's happening on the sidelines at all times.

In the fourth quarter, Dallas' offensive line play broke down. Could this have something to do with offensive line coach Tony Sparano not having his head in the game because he spent the bye week interviewing for head-coaching jobs?

Great theory. Totally unprovable and probably no more than 10% true. But it's cute. You know what will often cause offensive line play to break down? Being lined up opposite Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan all damn game.

Jacksonville trailed the highest-scoring team in football history by 11 points in the fourth quarter; reaching first-and-goal, the Jags absolutely had to score a touchdown. So why didn't the coaches assume they'd use all four downs and power-rush three times? Jacksonville had to get a touchdown. The mouselike field goal was all but running up a white flag. You could see at that point that Jack of the River had quit on the game. He wasn't going all-out to try to win, he was trying to hold down the margin of defeat so that on the banquet circuit in the offseason, people would say, "You gave the Patriots a good game."

Yep, I bet that's it. Why make decisions that you think give you the best chance at beating them, like kicking a field goal to get a one-score deficit? What's the glory in that? If you end up winning, no one's going to praise you for that on the offseason banquet circuit. Those banquet people are a tough to please crowd- they really only gravitate towards close losses.

Whoever coaches Indianapolis next season, if the Colts win a bye again, please, don't give the starters the season finale game off! Dungy has done this four times, and four times the result has been first-round home-field defeat for Indianapolis. Was the problem that the Colts defenders relaxed when LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers went out?

I'm glad this one is phrased as a rhetorical question rather than an outright true statement, but it's still stupid and wrong.

OK, so here's the theme for this week's Reader Participation Friday: given all these assessments Easterbrook makes about last weekend's games that range anywhere from "completely unprovable and unresearchable" to "batshit insane," please come up with some other explanations Gregg might formulate to explain occurrences in the world of sports. Write your response in the first person, as though you were him. Here, I'll do a couple examples to start things off.

"Maybe if Ohio State was more worried about preparing for LSU and less worried about visiting as many locations as possible in New Orleans that were portrayed in the movie JFK, they wouldn't have been blown out so badly in the National Championship Game."

"Jimmy Johnson just won his second straight NASCAR season championship. And it's no wonder, considering how much better he is at never letting any of the parts in his car break than the other drivers on the circuit."

"It's clear that the Colorado Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Boston Red Sox because the Rockies were too busy worrying about Drew Carey taking over hosting duties on 'The Price Is Right' to focus on the games."

"The secret to Tiger Woods's success lies in the fact that he never thinks about whether or not spectators are staring at his ass. John Daly, on the other hand, is particularly afflicted by this problem."

"Kobe Bryant is a dominant scorer in the NBA year in and year out for one reason: defenders refuse to guard him close due to his cripplingly bad breath."

Is this a good idea? It's a good idea, right? No? Well screw it, we're trying it this week anyways. I guess I'll find out when I wake up and check the comments in the morning. Come on, people. It's Friday. Nothing says "the weekend's almost here" like imitating Gregg Easterbrook.

(And of course, keep in mind that future installments of the feature will be much shorter because I won't have to laboriously explain my stupid thought process or anything.)


matt said...

"Maybe Jacksonville would be playing for the AFC Championship if they'd focused less on Randy Moss and worried more about putting pressure on Brady & covering the underneath stuff."

Easterbrook has spent the past 3 months harping on the overly simplistic theory that shutting down Randy Moss is THE key to stopping the Patriots. I guarantee his beloved auto-text had some variation of the following: "Moss has caught x touchdowns this year and is on pace to break Rice's single season mark. Maybe somebody should pay attention to him!"

TWell, the Jaguars just learned the hard way what happens if you put Easterbrook's analysis into practice. But at least they can fall back on TMQ's famous money back guarantee.

Jeff said...

Easterbrook is the absolute king of anecdotal bullshit.

If I ever decide to right something again, I'll dig through the season's worth of post to find examples of how inconsistently he applies his "football gods" garbage.

Sorry, I don't have time to be creative.

JD said...

On 4th and 31 from the Jersey/A 44-yard line with 12:31 to go in the second quarter, down 14-7, Dallas decided to punt. I then proceeded to pick up my pink fountain pen and write 'Game Over, I love the taste of my own ball hair,' into my Care Bears notebook. How can you punt in your opponents territory down by a touchdown this late in the game!?!? The football gods then spoke these words to me: 'I shall punish these dim-witted fools that call themselves professionals!"

Anonymous said...

"Barry Bonds would have broken Hank Aaron's HR record sooner if he hadn't been worried that he was depleting the world's flax seed supplies by overusing the product."

Tonus said...

"Cheerleader of the Week: Reader larryb nominates Bill Simmons of the ESPN website. According to his bio, Bill, whose parents are embarrassed, has been tormenting readers with his smarmy New England homerism since age 6, and was voted 'Most Likely to Aggravate Millions of Sports Fans' by his peers in high school, just before they stuffed him in a locker and left him there overnight. His latest projects include another column on how 'team chemistry' is the primary factor behind the Celtics success, and getting the government to shut down 'internet blog sites.'"

Abhishek Jha said...

Since when did TMQ actually do NFL analysis? I have always though of TMQ has light hearted column. After all all guarantees are wrong else otherwise. The sad thing is that this non-analyst is better the most analyst on ESPN.

Reader #6

PS Keep killing the crap we have to go through

larry b said...

Alright, a little bit of participation. I like it. My laziness is paying off; as Rick Reilly would say, it's beautiful when things work out like that.

Shimmering said...

Stat of the Week No. 2: Since I began writing this column for ESPN, thirteen people have taken a toaster-bath as a direct result.

Richard Dansky said...

Pointless bad haiku
Instead of analysis
Fills column inches

larry b said...

"And if you think the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been bad for so many years because they simply don't have very many talented players, think again. The real reason for their failures lies in their inability to adhere to the rules of feng shui in their clubhouse."

cs said...

"Bush kept trying to invade countries with dark people, rather than increasing funds for education and healthcare and making dumb speeches, which are the standard counter to low poll numbers. You sensed Bush wanted to personally invade Iran and decapitate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with his bare hands so everyone would credit him for winning the War on Terror"

Andrew said...

"The Colts acted like the 1986 Lakers on Sunday, making it obvious that their fear of playing the Patriots led to them subconciously tanking the game."

Wait. Some other guy already wrote that steaming pile of horseshit.

Tonus said...

Andrew is right, Simmons already beat us at this game. And they paid him for it.

blanco said...

"Even though the rest of the media and I were wrong last week in picking the favorites, it was only because our doing so provided bulletin board material for the underdogs and propelling them to victory. See folks, I've been saying it for years: the media is a lot more powerful than you think."

I'm paraphrasing cause it was on radio, but Cowherd actually said this.

larry b said...

Thanks, Colin. Asshead.