Sunday, June 12, 2011

Monday Morning Grab Bag

Item 1. The NBA playoffs are over. Feels like they just started yesterday, no? Chris W agrees I'm sure. Anyways, ss the final seconds of the Heat/Mavs game ticked away, ESPN announcer and obvious MENSA member Mark Jackson had some great ideas for Miami's front office (forgot to DVR, quote is approximate).

If you're Miami, you know you got close this year. So this summer you make everyone on the roster available. You've got the pieces for a championship team, but you need to move them around and get the right combination.

First of all: what in the fucking fuck are you talking about? Make EVERYONE available? You realize you're not talking about the Pacers or the Jazz, right? Second of all, even if we were to try to make this quote intelligible by assuming he meant "make everyone except Wade and James available," what the fuck are they going to get in return?

For Bosh you could probably get another incomplete player with an undeserved max contract. Joe Johnson, come on down! For Mike Miller or Udonis Haslem you might be able to get something of fair value. For the rest of the team you could probably get exactly jack diddley fucking poo. HEY GOOD NEWS FOR TEAMS THAT NEED A REALLY UNREMARKABLE POINT GUARD, I HEAR MARIO CHALMERS MIGHT BE AVAILABLE FOR THE RIGHT PRICE.

What a weird, weird, weird (and wrong) thing to say. If there's ANY team that isn't going to do anything significant with its roster this offseason it's Miami. And the Knicks, because the Knicks are screwed six ways to Sunday in terms of the salary cap and the only guy in the management side of the organization without his head up his ass just left town.

Item 2. Deadspin continues to a good place to catch breaking news and watch funny/cool videos. And it also continues to publish editorial material that's so thunderously stupid it makes me wonder how the site got to where it is. Even Barry Petchesky hasn't said anything as dumb (in the last two weeks) as what Tommy Craggs had to say about Grantland Rice. And just to clarify, I'm not some Rice fan. I don't give a shit about him. But really, look:

He was a pandering mythmaker who wrote verse and prose the way Thomas Kinkade paints carriage lanes ("The Hills of Fame still beckon where the Paths of Glory lead …"). Reading him today is not unlike looking at your maiden aunt's collection of Precious Moments figurines. Moths come flying off every word. He was responsible for a lot of the worst pathologies of sportswriting today, and the fact that a major web site now unironically carries his name tells me we've done to Rice what Rice did to so many ballplayers over the years.

Right, because he wrote 80 years ago, when audiences demanded that kind of stuff. There was no TV, no internet. Either you read about the game in the newspaper or you had no fucking idea that it even happened. Using purple prose made a lot more sense back then. It reads awkwardly today, but do you think people back then demanded it in part due to the fact that they never got to watch the events of a game unless they attended it? Do you think critics back then appreciated it more than critics today do? I'm going to guess that if the answer to either of those questions was no, then no one would know who Rice is today. This criticism is akin to talking shit about baseball players from the 19th century because most of the hitters couldn't hit home runs and none of the pitchers threw sliders.

An older Rice wrote: "Only those who looked upon the spectacle today can know what it means. One might as well attempt to describe the glory of the Grand Canyon or the peak of Mount Everest at dawn."

Rice was covering the fucking Olympics.

Wow, how fucking ignorant about 20th century history can you be? Yeah, the Olympics. Which were the biggest fucking deal in the world of sports at that time. I'm kind of surprised Craggs didn't immediately move on to attack Rice for failing to cover the Super Bowl. GOD, HOW COULD YOU EVER ACT LIKE THE OLYMPICS ARE A BIG DEAL? How about if you wrote about them when one world war had just ended and the foundation was already being laid for another?

Four years later, he called the success of American blacks at the Berlin games "Darktown on parade" and wrote: "America will be okay until it runs out of African entries. ... We may have to comb Africa again for some winners." Elsewhere, Joe Louis was "stalking" his prey, a "panther" with the "speed of the jungle, the instinctive speed of the wild." (He once said of Louis, "Sportsmanship should be the very mortar of an athlete but never an entity in itself for conscious display," and a modern reader might hear the same harp music that played over all those preposterous stories about Kevin Durant's humility.)

Right. He wrote a lot of really racially insensitive stuff. JUST LIKE EVERY SINGLE OTHER FUCKING SPORTSWRITER OF HIS ERA. Doesn't make it right, of course. Just makes it completely unremarkable. But don't tell that to Deadspin, the sports blogosphere's leader in 1) general cluelessness about sports/everything and 2) desire to sensationalize shit that isn't sensational. Hmmm, have we seen this before?

The standard defense here, that Rice was only as bigoted as his time, is probably accurate.


Item 3. Speaking of Grantland, I decided to head over and check out Simmons's project as it launched. I checked out two of his posts (because much as I bellyache about him I'd rather read his tripe forever than read a single word from Malcolm Gladwell or Dave Eggers, especially if they're writing about sports or pop culture). If you haven't checked out his "welcome to the site" post, I'll summarize it for you: Hey, I was a writer for Jimmy Kimmel when he launched his late night show! Pretty neat, huh! /name drop name drop name drop

Not yet fully deterred, a day later I checked out an article he wrote about the Boston Bruins. His shameless frontrunnerism when it comes to the Bruins has been discussed here before, so I was pleasantly surprised to see him admit to such right up front in the post's title. And then I started reading the body of the post, and there it was, right at the top-

My father had three things left on his Sports Bucket List:

And that's as far as I got before I remembered: you can take Bill Simmons out of the formal ESPN mainframe but you can never get him to stop being Bill Simmons.

And of course, as always, let me throw in our boilerplate Simmons disclaimer. I am insanely jealous of Bill Simmons. I only write about him because I wish I had his job (and that he was my dad).

1 comment:

Adam said...

I am jealous of Bill Simmons because I want his dad to be my dad.