Thursday, June 27, 2013

More of the same? Why not

[Note added after writing all of this: I'm sure one or two of you out there in internetland are good, non-bandwagon Heat fans.  I tried to add modifiers like "many" every time that I took cheap shots at Heat fans, so as to not throw out the good apples with the bad, but I may have missed a few spots.  As PFTCommenter would say, no offense.  I'm sorry the bandwagon shitheads make you actual fans look bad, and I hope you keep reading.]

So I guess we're not quite done discussing this whole frontrunning Heat fans thing, given the volume of comments on that last post.  That has to be a record number for this blog as far as the last year or so goes.  Sure, most of the comments in there were made by the same anonymous bozo, but it's still nice to see some participation.  And while I hesitate to give that bozo the attention he wants and doesn't deserve by addressing some of his claims in a separate post, right now it seems like the thing to do.  So let's dance.

1) Anonymous bozo, while I admire your perseverance, just understand that you will never be the most obnoxious and worthless anonymous bozo in FireJay history.  That title will always be held by the guy in the comments to this post.  Looking back, hey, how about that: in 2008, I successfully predicted that Vince Young would be out of the NFL by 2013.  That took about as much skill as predicting that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow, but still.  Feels good to be validated.

2) Re: the Boston fans and their behavior in game 7 against the Leafs and game 6 against the Blackhawks (side note: the fact that I'm defending Boston fans to continue this argument is nauseating).  You say that the Bruins had a 0.5% chance of winning the Leafs game when they were down 4-1.  I don't know where you got that, I looked around for some NHL win expectancy charts and couldn't find any, so I will accept that number as correct although I suspect it's a little high.  Whatever.  It's cute that you think you turned my own schtick on me by noting that HA HA THIS ARTICLE OVER HERE SAYS THERE WERE EMPTY SEATS MIDWAY THROUGH THE THIRD PERIOD, THAT'S SOMETHING YOU WOULD MAKE FUN OF YOURSELF FOR DOING IF YOU READ THAT YOU WROTE THAT AND DIDN'T KNOW YOU WROTE IT NYUCK NYUCK NYUCK.  But I have a few points to make.

First of all, it's pretty dumb to say the Bruins chance at coming back was A SINGLE PERCENTAGE POINT away from being the same odds the Heat faced near the end of game 6.  It is a true statement, but a much better way to put that same piece of information, given that both numbers are small, is to say that the Heat were three times more likely to come back than the Bruins were.  That's more intellectually honest, don't you think?  What if the Heat had a 1.1% chance and the Bruins had a 0.1% chance?  Would you still try to hammer home the percentage point difference rather than the percentage difference?  I hope not.  I don't think anyone should leave when it's a game 7, but still, it was more rational from a mathematical perspective for those Bruins fans to leave.  Three times more rational, perhaps.  That's pretty significant.

Second of all, while Bruins-Leafs was a potentially season-ending game for those fans, I still say it's much worse to walk out in the championship round before the game ends than to walk out in the first round of the playoffs.  And hell, check out the highlights--I'm sure the arena wasn't 100% full when they won in overtime, but it looks pretty full and sounds pretty full to me.  (To be fair to the Heat fans, they didn't exactly empty their arena during game 6 either, although I'm willing to bet a lot of the people who were there for OT had left their seats, gone to the concourse and then returned when they heard all the noise during the comeback.)

Third of all, and most importantly, the scoring effects are much different in hockey than they are in basketball.  In basketball, pretty much every team is going to score between 80 and 110 points in pretty much every game.  More to the point, a 5 point deficit with 30 seconds left pretty much always means the exact same thing in the minds of players.  We need a couple threes, need them to miss some free throws, whatever.  In hockey, especially in a playoff series when a team is facing the same opposing goalie game after game after game, a three goal deficit could mean many different things.  If it's the best offense in the league against a bad goalie, three goals might not be much to worry about.  If it's a defensively oriented team that is used to winning low scoring games, or if the other team's goalie is hot, a three goal deficit could feel like a ten goal deficit.  In that series against the Leafs, the Bruins had no trouble scoring in games one through four.  But they lost games five and six by a 2-1 score.  So at the time the Leafs went up 4-1 with 14 minutes left in game seven, the Bruins 1) had lost two in a row, always a bad thing in a seven game series, and more importantly 2) had scored three goals in the previous 8+ periods (and Toronto's James Reimer was no slouch, 8th in the league in save percentage during the regular season).  They would then need three goals in the last 14 minutes of that period to force overtime.  I think you can excuse the people who left much more easily than you can excuse the Heat fans who left game 6.  Much, much more easily.

And of course, as commenter tony harding pointed out in the comments to the last point, the cherry on top is how many Heat "fans" tried to get back into the building after they found out the game wasn't actually over.  We don't know if any Bruins fans tried that during the Leafs game, because there weren't as many cameras around since it was only the first round of the playoffs, but I'd be surprised if the scene was anything like the one that developed in Miami during game 6.

3) Your attempt to turn whether Miami is actually a superficial place into an argument is so ridiculous that I'm not going to entertain it.  But I will entertain you on the debate as to whether Miami generally has good sports fans or not.  You seem to think you've made a great point by noting Miami's attendance and local TV ratings are great during the LeBron era.  (You cite LeBron era TV ratings, but none from any other point in time; if you know of a place to get them, I'd love to see them, but for now that doesn't establish jack fucking shit, as I will discuss below.)  You also say things like

If current Heat TV ratings were bad, then that'd be taken evidence that Miami has no real fans. But the ratings are good, so it "means" that those fans are bandwagon frontrunners. Either way, the fanbase can't win, off the court at least. Nobody will ever say, "Boy those fans are really supportive," even if that's the case.


Well, if the attendance and ratings were relatively weak in this improved 2013 situation, then people would probably cite that as bad fandom. That's generally how a negative confirmation bias works. Damning evidence is meaningful, positive evidence is dismissed.

No, dummy.  I don't know if you're intentionally or unintentionally kicking the shit out of that straw man, but please stop.  No one is dismissing the great attendance and TV ratings the Heat currently enjoy.  It's reflective of a lot of support for the team.  It's just that the support is bandwagon support.  Let me slow this down and connect all the dots for you: this evidence is not being ignored to confirm a negative bias, because the negative bias is not "Miamians do not support the Heat in 2013."  Everyone agrees Miamians support the Heat right now.  They just don't think many of those fans always have liked the Heat or always will like them, no matter who's on the team and how long it's been since the last deep playoff run. 

Since you seem to want to ignore this point, given that I've made it four or five times now, I might as well add in no uncertain terms that bandwagon support is much better than no support at all.  Plenty of pro sports teams enjoy great support when they win and crappy support when they lose.  On again off again fans of those teams do not deserve to be mocked... unless they do things like leave game 6 of the finals when their team is down five with 28 seconds to play.  

Anyways, for reasons unknown, assuming you are being honest about not being a Miami fan, you seem to want to believe that because Miamians are supporting the Heat now, they're great fans at all times.  While I maintain that attendance figures are often misleading, we don't have comprehensive TV data, and you want to use attendance figures, so let's use them.  They definitely don't make the point you want them to make.  

The Heat have been a very successful franchise, as long as the metric for success is "going to the playoffs," which for a lot of fans it is.  Even though the NBA lets in more than 50% of its teams, it's still impressive that they have existed for 25 seasons and made the playoffs 17 times.  So there haven't been many lean years for them.  But let's take a look at couple important recent stretches.  They made the playoffs every year from 1996 through 2001.  Then:
2000-2001: 50 wins, first round playoff loss, 15th in attendance
2001-2002: 36 wins, missed playoffs, 19th in attendance
2002-2003: 25 wins, missed playoffs, 22nd in attendance
2003-2004: 42 wins, second round playoff loss, 24th in attendance

First of all, winning 50 games and finishing 15th in attendance is kind of crappy.  But the more important data point here is the 2003-2004 season.  The two year playoff drought that preceded it was only the second in franchise history.  Now, that'll hurt attendance.  But 2003-2004 was Dwyane Wade's rookie year, and a 42 win playoff season.  And attendance decreased relative to the previous season?  That's the sign of a fanbase that doesn't give a shit.  In contrast, the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Raptors also had exciting rookies trying to lead them back to relevance that year.  The Nuggets went from 25th in attendance in 2002-2003 to 12th in 2003-2004.  The Cavaliers went from 29th to 9th.  The Raptors went from 10th to 8th.  You have any wiseass explanations for that?  Were James, Anthony and Bosh just that much more exciting than Wade?  Maybe LeBron was, but those other two?

The Cavs and Raptors didn't even make the playoffs like the Heat and Nuggets did that year.  Why were the other three teams all in the top 12 in attendance, including two non-playoff teams, but the Heat were in 24th?  Could it be that Miami fans are a bunch of stupid fucking frontrunners who have a one season lag time between the team getting good and them deciding to pay attention to it?  Sure, the fact that the Heat surged to 4th in attendance in 2004-2005 kind of supports that idea, as does the next thing I'm about to talk about, but you're the snarky genius here.  I'm sure you have some kind of explanation.

Since Wade joined the team, the only time they've missed the playoffs was in 2007-2008, when they won just 15 games and somehow managed to find significant minutes for Chris Quinn and Earl Barron.  Let's look at that season and the two that bracketed it.

2006-2007: 44 wins, first round playoff loss, 4th in attendance
2007-2008: 15 wins, worst season in franchise history, 8th in attendance
2008-2009: 43 wins, first round playoff loss, 15th in attendance

And here we see the same effect we saw above.  The team has a bad year, attendance goes down.  That happens.  But the following year, the team is good again and... attendance declines again.  Hmmm.  How about some more parallel comparisons, like I gave above?  Here's a list of all of the "missed playoff sandwiches" (playoff year, non-playoff year, playoff year) that have happened in the NBA going back to 2001, with the team, years in question, and the attendance rankings in those three years.

Bulls, 2007-2008-2009, 1st, 2nd, 2nd
Jazz, 2010-2011-2011, 6th, 7th, 6th
Lakers, 2004-2005-2006, 7th, 7th, 7th
Suns (double decker sandwich, on/off/on/off/on), 2001-2002-2003-2004-2005, 9th, 17th, 16th, 17th, 10th
Rockets, 2005-2006-2007, 23rd, 28th, 21st
76ers, 2009-2010-2011, 23rd, 26th, 25th
Hornets, 2009-2010-2011, 19th, 23rd, 26th
Suns, 2008-2009-2010, 13th, 14th, 16th.

So let me parse that for you.  Eight instances (really nine if you count the 2001-2005 Suns twice).  In six (or seven) the team's attendance rebounded when the team's performance did.  In the two where attendance failed to rebound during the second playoff year, the dropoff was not as precipitous as the 2009 Heat's was.  I'm not trying to write a thesis here so I won't take much time to explore all the ins and outs and possible reasons for these trends.  I will just theorize that bandwagon frontrunner fans (like those in Miami) take longer to warm up to the idea that the hometown team is good, because they don't actually give a shit about the team and only hear they're doing well when "buzz" has been building around town for some time.  Heat fans in 2002-2003: "They suck."  In 2003-2004: "I hear they drafted some guy but I remember them sucking last year, I'm not going."  In 2004-2005: "Wait they made the playoffs last year?  OMG D WADE IS THE BEST I LOVE THIS TEAM!!!!!"  Fans that aren't shithead frontrunner bandwagoners tend to follow their teams closely, and either will not be deterred from going to games even if there's a lean year, or if they are deterred, will return quickly once the team is good again.  I think this is the Occam's Razor explanation, although if you have a better one, I'd love to hear it.

Hey, maybe Miami fans support their other teams more fervently!  The Marlins won a World Series in 2003.  Let's take a look at how their numbers have stacked up since then.

2003: 91 wins, 28th in attendance
2004: 83 wins, 26th in attendance
2005: 83 wins, 28th in attendance
2006: 78 wins, 30th in attendance
2007: 71 wins, 30th in attendance
2008: 84 wins, 30th in attendance
2009: 87 wins, 29th in attendance
2010: 80 wins, 28th in attendance
2011: 72 wins, 28th in attendance
2012 (new stadium!): 69 wins, 18th in attendance
2013: currently 30th in wins, 30th in attendance

I'll do the math for you: during the nine seasons from 2003-2011, they were exactly a .500 team.  They never finished out of the bottom five in attendance.  Sure, bad ballpark, hot summer weather, much of the 2003 title team was dismantled and shipped away before the 2004 season even started.  None of those things are anywhere close to being good enough to explain those attendance numbers.  The 18th place finish in attendance in 2012 is the worst for any team in a brand new stadium since 2001, by the way.  No other team since then finished below 13th (Cincinnati in 2003, Milwaukee in 2001).  You know what I said about Heat fans being bandwagoners?  It appears there are no Marlins fans at all.  And a town that doesn't support one team at all is probably the kind of town that will have bandwagon fans for other teams.

I won't bother to post the Panthers' attendance numbers, they're too depressing.  And NFL attendance is meaningless.  In conclusion, feel free to continue commenting on this matter, but unless you want to address what I just presented or otherwise show that Heat fans have always supported the team and are definitely not frontrunners, maybe just keep your mouth shut.


Bonus!  You complained that Deadspin was going out of its way to show the bad side of Heat fans.  While I agree that Deadspin wants (and gets) clicks by putting up posts about true and hilarious things, like the fact that many Miami fans are frontrunners, they also posted a counterpoint piece over the weekend.  It's got some real gems of non-insight and unintentional comedy.

Miami Heat Nation Encompasses More Than Brats, Ghouls, And Idiots

Awesome, awesome headline.  I think "Miami Heat Nation" is my favorite part, but use of the term "ghouls" in this context is a close second.

When the Miami Heat won its only LeBronless title, in 2006, I was living outside Fort Lauderdale. My building fees included basic cable, which was enough to get just about every Heat game and virtually nothing else worth watching. My girlfriend at the time could tolerate basketball well enough — better, in fact, than we could generally tolerate one another. So there were abundant Heat games on at my place.

It helped, too, that they were a great bunch to adopt.
  Practically everyone seemed to be getting the most out of his talent, which is all it really takes to make a city proud.

So while the author is obviously not a Heat fan by birth, he claims to have adopted the team.  That's fine.  He then explains how likable the players were, from old Shaq to young Wade to supporting case members like White Chocolate and James Posey.  All things told, the author's purpose is to establish the credibility of Miami fans, a group of which he is clearly establishing himself a fringe member.  

The night they won the title my girlfriend insisted we go to the beach instead of watching the game, so I set the VCR (seriously) to record Game 6. 

OK, again, I get that this guy was not a Heat fan by birth.  But still, I find this very funny and completely out of place in an article meant to defend the honor of Miami fans.  This was your adopted team, you watched a lot of their games, and on the night they could clinch a title... you went to the beach.  Got it. 

I'd planned to drive straight back home, rewind the game and watch in something close to real time. Instead, as we walked back to the car, an unmistakable sound came down A1A: BEEEEPbeeepbeeepbeep BEEEP BEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

Dammit, I thought. They won it.

I should've known better than to think I could block out an NBA title in South Florida, and looking back, that's why I get my hackles up any time someone shits on All Miami Fans.

How fucking great is that?  Let's summarize: "I was kind of a Heat fan, but not enough of one to pass up a trip to the beach (which is open and beautiful 365 days a year) to watch their title clinching game.  And then, would you believe it, PEOPLE WERE BEEPING THEIR CAR HORNS WHEN THE HEAT WON IT ALL.  WHAT A BUNCH OF CAPITAL T TRUE CAPITAL F FANS.  To this day I get annoyed that people call them frontrunners, because they know exactly how to beep their horn when their team wins a championship."  Get the fuck out of here.

The city may be an open sewer of humanity, all drug-money mansions and teen-aged plastic surgery and narcissism as a dogma, and it may include this shameless harpy, and this slappable douche nozzle, and these window-fogging twits, and after the Heat won this year a club owner comped them the one hundred thousand American dollars the team rang up for 103 bottles of Champagne, which, hospitality aside, is a moral abomination in a city that for all its overcompensating opulence routinely ranks among the nation's poorest.

Hey, at least this author probably wouldn't try to debate whether or not Miami is superficial.  Then he goes on to point out that of course, Miami is more than just South Beach, and there are a lot of poor people and regular blue collar people and middle class people, none of whom are the glitz and glam plastic surgery fake tans expensive jewelry superficial types.  Sure.  Fair enough, although I don't really think any of that challenges the idea that Miami sports fans are mostly shitty.  Then:

Rembert Browne picked up on this as he reported this serendipitous Grantland piece; (note: link removed because fuck Rembert Browne and the rest of his shithead fellow Grantland writers) left without a seat of his own (metaphor!) 


he circles the concourses until he winds up in the bowels of the arena where the rank-and-file building and team staff are hanging on every play. The Larry O'Brien trophy goes by, and one person, a mover, dares to predict, "There go the trophy, bruh, right there. You know we 'bout to get that," only to see the Heat's lead become more tenuous. Brown notes the key pronoun here — "we," instead of "they" — 


and concludes that these folks are some of the most unabashed fans in the building, the ones who possibly wouldn't be able to afford to enter the building had they not been paid to be there.

There you have it, folks: there are some low level employees in American Airlines Arena who like the Heat and seem to be "real" fans.  Therefore: everyone who likes the Heat is a real fan.  Case closed.

Seriously, give me a fucking break.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Now that the Heat are champs, let us review the dumbest "fan opinion" article ever written

Deadspin is generally fucking worthless, but it does a good job of dumping on the silliness that is ESPN First Take.  Not that First Take is hard to dump on (although let us never forget that Skip rules all shit), but I appreciate the way Deadspin covers it. For example, on Tuesday, they posted this.  It's a great demonstration of the absurd contrarianism First Take tries to cultivate, while looking incredibly silly in the process.  So you think that with as good as they are at pointing out that First Take is idiotic, they would never publish something like what you're about to read.  But you'd be wrong.  It is the most embarrassingly bad "Hey I'm just a fan and this my opinion on what it means to be a fan" piece I have ever read.  I'm sure you could pick up the topic from the title or first couple of sentences, but I'll just let you know that it was posted Wednesday morning in response to the (rightful) laugh America had at the expense of "fans" of the Heat who headed for the exits when Game 6 was still well in question.

In Defense of Leaving Early

by Bobby Big Wheel

I do not want to put on my Bill Simmons hat (fortunately I don't even have one) and try to write my own little manifesto about when it's OK to leave a game early and when it is not.  Instead, before we get into the substance of the article, let me just address Tuesday night's situation with as much tact and sophistication as I can muster: If you are a Heat fan (as opposed to some lucky piece of shit who doesn't care about the Heat or Spurs and just stumbled into Finals tickets and decided to go on a whim--this is not addressed to you) who was not having a medical emergency and you left that game early, you're a fucking idiot.  A fucking.  Idiot.  Period.  You deserve to be laughed at forever.  Now, let's give Bobby the floor, to explain why what I just said is wrong, because something Hartford Whalers something traffic.

I always hated leaving Whalers games early. 

Someone has their communications degree, or at least a minor.  "Establish credibility with the audience by acknowledging the validity of the opposite viewpoint of the one you're about to take.  If possible, connect with that opposite viewpoint via a personal anecdote or story so as to make your acknowledgement more authentic."  You're welcome, I just saved you $500 in online lectures.  

Maybe if they were down three goals I could be coaxed out of my seat when the PA announcer said, "Oooooooone minute left in the period." But it would take all of my father's cajoling to get me to leave the Hartford Civic Center before the crush of 10,000 people parked in the same three garages made his trek home a nightmare. He didn't spend five minutes backing a Mercury Grand Marquis into a too-small parking spot just to get stuck afterward in a 15-minute line of cars crawling toward a cash-only booth.

Surely that anecdote is very relevant to the way parking is handled at American Airlines Arena in Miami in the year 2013.

I won't pretend he had to clock in at the steel mill the next morning. He had a white-collar job at an insurance company, one that paid well enough for him to afford Whalers season tickets. 

Simmons, if given the chance to write about that same situation: "My dad was barely making ends meet!  He thought about selling our playoff tickets to put bread on the table for another week, but he just couldn't do it. Those moments are too special.  Later, he was fired from the steel mill for consistent absenteeism.  Fortunately he also had a job as an investment banker, so we ended up doing fine."

But he faced the same problems the rest of the 99 percent faces. Nobody has a pension; 

What?  Please get back on topic.

nobody has a guarantee; and raising three kids takes a big bite out of your nest egg. He had to be in the office the next morning around the same time that I had to be at the bus stop, and getting home at 11 p.m. would've just made everything even more of a hassle. So fuck it, we were going home, even though we were down only 3-1 to the Penguins.

That's fine.  It's worth pointing out that the difference between getting home at 10:45 and getting home at 11:00 is really pretty tiny, but I will honor his point and acknowledge that his dad did save some time in this madeup story.  On the other hand, here's something pretty fucking important to consider: the Whalers never met the Penguins in the playoffs, nor did they ever play any NHL team (other than the Canadiens, in 1986) in any round of the playoffs other than the first round, so the above anecdote about leaving during the 3rd period of a 3-1 game most definitely did not happen during the Stanley Cup finals.  Say, in game 6.  Say, with the Whalers down three games to two in the series and down by a single goal in the game.  So really, Bobby Big Wheel's attempt to establish credibility regarding the Heat's game six early exiters has failed miserably, because: it's not even close to the same fucking thing.

It's easy to make fun of Heat fans for leaving Game 6 

Oh yes, it's very easy!  I'll even link to Deadspin without making fun of them again, to prove my point: look at these people!  They look (and sound) like fucking assholes!  It's hilarious!

when it'd looked like all was lost. 

Oh, but here's the thing.  To a fan with any knowledge of the game, as well as the knowledge that this is a "win or season over" game, all was never lost.  They were down five with 0:28 to go, but had the ball.  Then they were down three with 0:19 to go, but again had the ball.  Neither of those are "whelp pack it in, it's over" moments.  Maybe down seven with 0:19 and without the ball, having just fouled.  At that point I'd say all is almost lost.  Other team makes the free throws, pushes it to nine, all is lost.  You are free to go.  But where the Heat were on Tuesday night before Ray Allen's big game tying three?  Nope.  

Even local TV reporters, a class of professionally unembarrassed people, said they were embarrassed, that the stereotypes about Heat fans were true, that Miami was a Bad Sports Town. 

All of these things are true.  Doesn't make Miami a bad city, but they are definitely true.

But fandom isn't the same thing as slavish devotion. 

/watches Bobby Big Wheel climb onto rickety soap box

Your favorite team doesn't pay you, and it doesn't owe you anything. 

And how do you know this?  Please stay on topic.

I learned that lesson when the Whalers left for North Carolina. 

/rickety soap box collapses, leaving Bobby Big Wheel bleeding on the ground

Let's be very, very clear about this: realizing that pro sports owners are assholes who will sell out fans to make a buck has goddamn nothing to do with whether or not you, if you are a real fan of a team, should leave a playoff elimination game while the outcome is still in question.  Fuck you.

Sportswriters easily forget that for most people attending a game is a hobby, a fun diversion, not a job.

That's fine, I agree that you don't have to be a diehard to attend a game, but to get tickets to a possible championship deciding game, you're either a rich prick or a very devoted fan.  I didn't look at the prices on StubHub on Tuesday night but I'm sure the cheapest nosebleed seats were hundreds of dollars.  There were no groups of friends there who said on a whim "Hey I know none of us care about the Heat, but let's go to the game anyways, could be a fun evening!"  Everyone who was there was, again, either a rich prick who can handle being mocked, or someone who had one of the most telltale signs of ostensibly serious fandom: spending gobs of money to see the team play.  Spare me your pathetic sermon about how IT'S JUST A GAME PEOPLE SHEESH LIGHTEN UP.  Yes, it is just a game.  Doesn't change the fact that the people who left early are bad fans and complete tards.

Expecting fans to stay until the end of a game reeks of the same fogeyism that bemoans kids checking their phones all the time. 

In fact, I AM a kid who checks his phone all the time.  The people that left are still fucking assholes who deserve to be mocked.  I am repeating myself, but one more time, just to be clear: game 6 of the NBA Finals with the Heat down three games to two and down five points with 0:28 left is not on the same fucking planet as the Whalers trailing the Penguins 3-1 with four minutes left during regular season game #19 in December 1991.  

Maybe in the '50s—when we all had pensions 

Why again with the pensions?  Stop it with the pensions.

and a union, and the day could more easily be carved up into eight-hour blocks of sleep, work, and leisure—maybe then sports fans could be expected to devote four hours to watching a game in-person. 

It would be much easier to do it then, I agree.  It's still very possible to do it now, ESPECIALLY FOR GAMES LIKE THE ONE IN QUESTION.

But this is 2013—the friction of everyday life is far too great to expect total devotion from all but the obscenely wealthy or the totally unemployable. 

Here's the coup de grace, folks.  While I earlier noted (correctly, I would think) that everyone who could afford tickets to Tuesday's game was probably rich or a serious fan, here is Bobby's knockout punch: in fact, the only people who should bother with staying until the end and dealing with traffic are those same richie riches and people who are really dumb.  

Fans already endure the indignities of wretched traffic, overpriced concessions, and the potential for heartbreak when they attend a game in person. 

You know why they do it, or at least why I do it?  Because if the team wins, it's awesome!  And if they win a historically great game, like game 6, it's even more awesome.  And if you leave when they could still win because you feel like beating traffic, you deserve to be mocked.  Not too hard to figure out.

Don't they at least deserve the option to look away when things go sideways and maybe get a good night's sleep, too?

Down twenty with three minutes to go is sideways.  Down five with 0:28 to go is not.
At least some of the Heat fans who left the game early were doing the same back-of-the-envelope math that my father used to do. 

When he made you leave a meaningless regular season game early.

(Down 5 + 58 seconds left) x (10 minutes to the car + 30 minutes of traffic) / (Joey's math homework + an 8:30 conference call) = we're headed for the exits. Look again at the fans leaving early. 

Thanks, I will!  What a bunch of bozos!

You don't see a lot of the chinstrap beards and glass earrings we expect of our Heat stereotypes. I just see a bunch of weary-looking people who were at a basketball game less than nine hours before they had to leave for work the next morning. It's like they don't even listen to Pitbull.

The Pitbull line is actually pretty good.  Unfortunately the sentence before it is one of the most idiotic in this post.  Less than nine hours!  Why, some of them probably only got six hours of sleep!  What is this world we live in???????

As last night reminded us, sports are fun. At least, they're supposed to be. But you have to fit them into an already cluttered life, and sometimes the fit isn't perfect. The Heat fans who left the game early were playing the percentages. They surely regret their decision today, but it's not an indefensible one. 

Your attempt to defense it looks like the Hindenberg landing right now.

Sports intrude on everything now—on your workday, on your mood, on your taxes, on your cable bill.

Uh... if you let them, I guess?  A lot of people don't, but they're still going to get fired the fuck up if they pay big bucks to see their team in person in a championship round game.  And most people who do let sports intrude on everything are the kind of people who would kill to be at a game where their favorite team won the way the Heat won on Tuesday.

Nothing wrong with fans exercising their diminishing prerogative to check the fuck out. 

If you were in attendance on Tuesday night, and are a Heat fan, and said to yourself with 0:28 to play, "Eh, you know what, I've followed the Heat closely all these years, but I'm so tired of sports being such a big part of my life.  Now is the exact correct moment to fight against that trend.  I think I'll leave right now", then I hope you get mangled in a parasailing accident.  The end.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

LeBron is two losses away from being forgotten forever

I always thought one of the biggest shortcomings of Fire Joe Morgan, besides the sadly unfunny Fremulon Insurance running schitck, was their propensity for picking on crappy and incompetent writers from nationally insignificant newspapers. It's like, yeah, of course the guy writing about baseball for the Harrisburg Gazette-Post is a moron. That's why he hasn't been hired by someone else. I agree that it's ABSOLUTELY HILAROUS that he thinks Darin Erstad deserves MVP votes, but come on.

You'll notice we've never done much of this here. Probably 80% of what we've ever written about comes from ESPN, 5% comes from Mariotti (5% and falling as time goes by! Poor Jay can't seem to catch a break and get a job anywhere! Gotta feel for the guy), and 15% from assorted national outlets that aren't as bad as ESPN but are still pretty fucking bad.

You can probably guess that I put together that intro because I'm about to pick on some writing from a small newspaper. You're sort of right, except that the Denver Post is sort of kind of on the fringe of being a nationally significant newspaper, and also, what Benjamin Hochman wrote in it is so fucking dumb that I couldn't pass it up.

LeBron James can't not win the NBA title this season.

Off to a bad start.

Pardon the double negative,

I don't think that stylistic choice had the effect you wanted it to. It's not an intentional error that adds impact to the point you're trying to make. Instead, it just makes the reader think "Why the hell didn't he just say 'LeBron absolutely has to win the title this season'?"

but that's simply the sentiment — and the simple sentiment, at that.

The intentionally complicated sentiment that could have been said better and with more simplicity.

He must win this thing.

There it is!

Yes, he's the best talent to ever play the game (maybe any game).

And we've entered the world of "Say provocative and obviously incorrect things to get people to talk about this article and link to it."

But LeBron's legacy will come down to the King's rings.

This is true, and in order to be thought of in the same way that people think of Jordan, he's going to need to win a few more.

And the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose was out with injury this season, and the Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook was injured this postseason, so the Miami Heat has had its path cleared to win back-to-back titles.

Also true, but unfortunately this is merely a setup for the stupidity to come. There's nothing wrong with noting that LeBron will need more than one title to solidify his legacy. But does he need THIS title? If the Heat had lost to the Pacers (sorry, obviously this is old, I'm a lazy piece of shit who has been sitting on this article for weeks), or if the Spurs manage to top them, will this be some kind of black mark on his resume that can't be erased, even if he won eight more titles in the next ten years? Only a fool would think that. And Benjamin Hochman is a fool.

Which brings us to Thursday's Game 5 of the Indiana-Miami series.

Game 5s are always pivotal,

They are never not pivotal.

but this one is pivotal in the sense that not only could it determine the series, it could determine (or derail) the legacy.

What?  Derail the legacy?  Benjamin Hochman has hotdogs for brains.  I don't even think Simmons with all of his obsession over legacies would ever say anything that loony. (Update: the Heat lost three games in the ECF and have already lost two in the Finals, so according to Simmons, they can no longer claim "one of the best teams of all time" status, even if they come back and beat the Spurs in 6.  Sorry guys. The VP of Common Sense has spoken, and five losses in the ECF + the Finals = not great.)

James and the Heat are tied 2-2 with the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. Thursday's game is at Miami, where the visitors lost Game 1 by one in overtime — and then swiped Game 2.

The end of Game 2 was maddening (if you've forgotten, that was the one where LeBron got an uncontested layup to beat the buzzer and win the game with Roy Hibbert on the fucking bench for some reason). I'm glad I'm not a Pacers fan. I would have kicked my TV through a window after that.

Yes, of course, Miami grabbed a road game in Game 3, but the Heat faltered in Tuesday's Game 4. James fouled out (a star fouled out?), Dwyane Wade traveled late (they actually called traveling?) and Roy Hibbert and the Pacers bullied the Heat on the boards (Ray Allen led the Heat in rebounding? Ray Allen, really?).

The Pacers are pretty good. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they're so good that if they had topped the Heat, LeBron's legacy would have been, at the very least, salvageable with a few more titles in the next decade.

James is playing exactly three more minutes per game in the playoffs than he did in the regular season, but he's down, slightly, in every major statistical category. After making 12 and 14 field goals in Games 1 and 2, he made just eight each in Games 3 and 4. Clearly, nucleuses win games, not just one player. Look at the Thunder's struggles without Westbrook, even though Oklahoma City has the second-best player on the planet.

Stat showing that LeBron had only been scoring a ton of points through four games of that series, rather than a whole fucking huge shitload of points, followed by anecdote that contradict's the writer's thesis

But James must ascend. This is his chance, his time.

Like, he might not get another chance next year? What?

Miami blew it against Dallas in the Finals in 2011,

That Dallas team was pretty good, and they shot lights out from behind the arc (41%!  Jason Kidd, career 35% 3 point shooter, and DeShawn Stevenson, career 34% 3 point shooter, combined to shoot 25 for 51!). Not really a "the better team blew it" series.  More of a "the better team got outplayed by another pretty good team" series.

so after last season's title, James' first, he has a chance for a second ring. And one could argue that Miami, one of the best teams ever assembled,

NOT ANYMORE! Sorry, I knew I already made that joke, but Simmons is such a fucko that I figured I'd make it again.

should make another run in 2014.

If you say that the Heat will make a deep playoff run a year from now, that's not really an "argument." Barring horrible injuries or the collapse of the NBA, it's going to happen.

But after that, there are question marks as big as Birdman.

Questions like, "Where (if anywhere besides Miami) will LeBron go to continue making deep playoff runs after the 2013-2014 season?"

After 2014, Miami will face impending issues with injury-prone older stars who eat up major cap space.
It's not nice to talk about Dwyane Wade without referring to him by name. Still, if LeBron wants to stay in Miami, I'm sure they will be a very serious title contender in 2015. And 2016. And 2017. Pointing out that star players get older and that the future can't be predicted with 100% certainty are really the only two things you can do to try to build an argument that LeBron's last real shot at a title will be next year. And even then, you will have failed miserably, because anyone with a brain knows that LeBron could drag a team much worse than the 2011-2012 Heat to title contention. He already did it in 2006-2007, and even though he's getting older, he's also getting better in many ways. Please, Benjamin. Stop.

And there's no "next generation" of Heat stars waiting in the wings. Instead, there's Norris Cole.

And if this were baseball or hockey, that would be an issue. Instead, it's basketball, and all LeBron needs to do to continue to win titles after 2014 is join up with Danny Granger, Dirk, and a couple other high profile members of that year's free agent class.

Perhaps free agent James will make another highly scrutinized decision in the summer of 2014 and bolt back to Cleveland, where he could join all-star Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 pick of the 2013 draft and two other promising young players, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. But will he have three rings by then? Even two? Keep in mind that during the 2014-15 season, James will turn 30.

First of all, he and Irving would be an amazing 1-2 combo in Cleveland, but LeBron could do way better than that. And also, yeah, what awesome players have ever won titles after the age of 30?

Naturally, James wants his uniform number in rings (No. 6), just like Kobe Bryant (five rings) wants to get seven, one more than Michael Jordan, which is why some speculate he chose the uniform No. 24, which of course is "one over Jordan."

All that is true. Where are you going with it?

So it all comes back to James' current quest for ring No. 2.

Oh, there? No, it doesn't come back to that, other than in the sense that it's what he is doing now. In the sense that "this quest for ring No. 2 determines his whole legacy" it most definitely does not come back to that.

Here's one optimistic thing in his favor: James' brain.

Now he's just wandering around, rushing to make a word count target before deadline.

LeBron has grown as a mentally tough player. Last season, same playoff round, James and the Heat lost to Boston in Miami in Game 5. Down 3-2, James headed back to Boston, home of his eternal tormenters. In Game 6, he was glorious. He rose. Forty-five points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Miami won Game 6. Miami won Game 7. Miami won the NBA title.

Go on.

And, yes, I've gotten this far without mentioning

anything of substance. What happened to the part where he carried the Heat to the 2012 title?

that the Spurs are playing well, waiting and rested for whomever comes out of the East. But in the NBA Finals I'll take the team that has home-court advantage, the team that has defeated the Spurs four consecutive times, the team that isn't resting nine days and the team that features a ravenous LeBron James.

Wait, what? How the hell did we get here? So James is teetering on the edge of "all time great" relevancy, but also, if the Heat make the Finals, they should have no trouble with the Spurs, but also, the Pacers are terrifying?

All he's got to do is get there first.

I'm lost. This is both shitty analysis and shitty writing. I have no idea how Fire Joe Morgan covered this kind of stuff so often.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

So in my last post

I called it "the stupidest fucking thing I have ever heard" when Steve Wulf rhetorically asked if anyone else had rhetorically asked if the Yankees should disregard their 2000 and 2009 championships because Clemens and A-Rod played on those teams.  Well, Bill Simmons is not a man to let anyone else hold the title of "having said the stupidest fucking thing Larry B has ever heard" for long.  From a column published today about Duncan and the Spurs (which, by the way, is only the 50,000th "THE SPURS WERE NOT AND ARE NOT APPRECIATED FULLY" column written by anyone in the last 15 years, making it pretty clear that they are well appreciated):

The San Antonio Spurs picked Tim Duncan on June 25, 1997, about seven weeks before Matt Stone and Trey Parker launched their new animated series on Comedy Central. Sixteen years later, the Spurs and South Park are still chugging along like kindred spirits; in a goofy twist, Duncan's only fun nickname ("Timmaaaaaaaay") comes from that show. Both the Spurs and South Park generated so many classic moments over the years, they practically blend into each other now. They were lavished with critical acclaim while being overshadowed by more popular network shows (the Lakers and The Simpsons, respectively). Parker and Stone should have burned out years ago; Duncan should be washed up by now. Nope and nope. Every time they seemed ready to lose their relevance, they rallied back. You know, like right now.

And there you go.  THAT is now the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard.  Congratulations, Steve Wulf.  You're off the hook for now.

Both the Spurs and South Park generated so many classic moments over the years, they practically blend into each other now.

Both the Spurs and South Park generated so many classic moments over the years, they practically blend into each other now.

Both the Spurs and South Park generated so many classic moments over the years, they practically blend into each other now.

Remember, everyone: sports are not actually sports.  Sports are pop culture are sports.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Simmons tries to pretend like he never had a silver spoon in his mouth; some asshole dives into the deepest part of the deep end re: steroids

Whew, writing that title was a lot of work.  Not sure how much energy I've got left for the post.  Tonight I found two short articles worth bitching about, so I'll write about both.  You're welcome.  But wait!  Bonus item (thanks to tips in the comments to the last post), before I get to the Simmons article:

In fact, no!  No it is not.  It did involve DA FACKIN' BROONS though, so Bill needed to check in with his Tweeps to see if everyone else was as impressed as he was.  He probably has a yearly Google calendar alert that pops up on June 1 that says something like "Check to see if Bruins are still in playoffs; if yes, follow them, if not, Tweet about disappointing recent lack of success and strain it puts on fanbase."   Now for the article.  Don't worry, it's not recent; Grantland, realizing that there is an insatiable demand for Simmons articles from fuckwits nationwide, but having to cope with the reality that he only writes about one per month, has decided to start posting old articles.  This one comes from the summer of 2005, just as he was completing his transition from "Bad writer who is still sometimes a little entertaining and occasionally makes you feel sorry for Boston fans" to "Bad writer who is also an insufferable piece of shit."

Outside the Boston Garden before Game 7 of the '84 NBA Finals, scalpers were getting upwards of $2,000 per ticket. Since we were fortunate enough to own midcourt seats, I remember my father perking up as we heard the numbers being tossed around on Causeway Street. Four grand for our seats? He could barely afford season tickets as it was. 

Yeah fucking right.  Get the fuck out of here.  You went to some fancy fuck New England prep school before attending Holy Cross.  I'm real sure your dad was combing the couch cushions to find the loose change needed for those GAHHHHHDEN seats.  That obviously fabricated last line speaks to my contention above: this is a transparent case of Simmons saying "This anecdote about the incredible cost of scalped game 7 tickets is interesting and needs to be in the column... but I'd better not make too much of a show out of the fact that my dad had expensive season tickets!  How can I accomplish that?  I guess I could always just lie.  Done and done."

Did he ever really consider it? Of course not. 

We were huge Celtics fans and didn't need the money!  Why would we have?

As basketball fans, we knew Game 7 of an NBA Finals was the ultimate experience.

Yep, he was a shitty writer back then too.

You can't possibly imagine the level of intensity, the overpowering electricity in the building, how it keeps going higher and higher.

Unless you've sat at midcourt for a game 7, that is!  In that case, you'll be able to imagine it perfectly, because like me, your dad had season tickets.

Rarely are these games well played – there's too much pressure, too much energy.

I like the unintentional foreshadowing of game 7 of the 2010 finals here. 6 FOR 24 LOLOLO LOLOLL OLO LOLOLL

I kept thinking about that game while the Spurs outlasted the Pistons on Thursday night. You never beat someone in a Game 7 to win the title. You outlast them. You persevere. You survive.

Other things you do: outscore them, and in doing so, beat them.

We'll remember them as one of the weaker championship teams in recent memory, 

He was obsessed with how the present will look in the future back then, too.  Also: eight years down the road, and I don't think that statement is true.  That Pistons team was the defending champs, and they were tough.  The Spurs quasi bookended that 2005 title with much more easily won titles in 2003 and 2007.  I wouldn't sell that 2005 team short at all.  The 2006 Heat?  That's one of the weaker championship teams in recent memory.  

a team that could be pushed around at times, a team whose quality players disappeared for entire games. They needed a miraculous effort from Big Shot Brob in Game 5 just to avoid an ignominious 3-4-5 sweep in Detroit. They couldn't close out the resilient Pistons in Game 6, which any of the better NBA champions in history would have done. Yet none of that stuff will matter 50 years from now. As Joe Theismann would say, championship teams win championships.

The fact that he quoted that as legitimate analysis rather than ridiculous bullshit to be laughed at tells you everything you need to know.

Lost in the shuffle were the defending champs, 

More shitty writing.  They were not lost in the shuffle.  They were one of the two teams on the court.  They won three of the seven games in the series.

who defended their title with the requisite amount of honor and integrity. 

Just like the 2008-2009 Celtics, when they outlasted a mediocre Bulls team and advanced to the second round!  What a fantastic title defense!

They carried championship belts like boxers, shouted "on and on and on" before games, always thrived with their backs to the wall. 

They were really good.  But America needs to know: were they as good as the Patriots?

Some kept comparing them to the Patriots, 

No one did that.

and their impeccable record in must-win games and closeouts put them in the general ballpark. But the Pats won 34 of their last 38 games and haven't lost at home since December 2002. The Pistons never dominated over a prolonged stretch like that;

Pick your jaw up off the floor--I know it's shocking, but Bill reached the conclusion that [team that doesn't play football] is not as FACKIN' DAWMINATING as the GREATRIOTS.  Fun fact: that Pistons/Spurs finals feels like a long time ago, but the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl since.  Warms my heart.

Enough of that. Moving on, some jabroni from ESPN named Steve Wulf has written the hand-wringiest steroid piece you will ever see.  For the most part I will present it without commentary, because for the most part it is absurd and embarrassing on its face without the need for explanation.

This is important. You must care. You need to stop enabling the cheaters the way we used to. You have to root, root, root just as hard for the game itself as you do for the players.

Players have been cheating in one way or another for 125 years.  Somehow, some way, the game seems to be doing fine.

Yell, don't yawn. A new generation of players is playing us for suckers, just as Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens did. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, A-Rod, shame on me. Whether it be on the blogosphere, or in Twitterville, 

Use of "Twitterville" is a good way to out yourself as old, out of touch, unfunny, and probably not worth listening to when it comes to sports analysis.

or over sports radio, the vox populi seems to want the latest revelations to go away. Funny that some of the same people who criticized Major League Baseball 10 years ago for not doing anything about the steroid epidemic are now blasting the commissioner for trying to prevent a relapse. 

Who is saying that?

The illegal use of PEDs strikes at the belief in the game. If you can't trust a player's numbers, you can't really trust the score.

The next person to quantify the effect steroids has on a player's numbers, and furthermore, what the overall effect is when both pitchers and hitters are juicing, will be the first.  I'm not saying it doesn't exist, I'm saying it's not worth shitting ourselves over.  And in any case, that's a dumb leap of logic--I have no trouble "trusting the score" even if guys like Braun and Rodriguez are juicing.  Every team probably has guys who are juicing. They're all probably playing a little better than they would if they weren't juicing.  That means that even if one did want to avoid trusting the numbers, they should still be OK with trusting the score.  The baseball universe has yet to collapse in on itself as a result of any of this.

Does anybody have the nerve to ask this: Should the Yankees even count the past two of their 27 championships, the ones they won with Clemens (2000) and Alex Rodriguez (2009)?

I'm sure the 2000 Mets and 2009 Phillies were squeaky clean.  That's the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard.

Taking steroids or HGH or any other illegal substance is not a victimless crime. Even if the players don't care about the side effects of their elixirs, baseball does have a responsibility to the young athletes who would emulate those regimens.

Cue up Helen Lovejoy.  Holy shitballs.  While "preventing kids from taking steroids" is a perfectly reasonable thing for society to want, trying to connect it to MLB in this way is embarrassing.  The answers to steroid problems among high schoolers are increased awareness of the dangers of steroids, increased parental involvement in the lives of high schoolers, and increased efforts to shut down steroid suppliers on the law enforcement end.  Not among those answers: wagging one's finger at MLB.

The financial investment we put into being fans is nothing compared to the emotional investment. Remember that wonderful moment when Mark McGwire passed Roger Maris, hugged his own son and then met with the Maris family? Feels kind of cheesy now, doesn't it?

It was always cheesy.  Watching McGwire hit the ball all over the place was cool because few guys could do it like he did it.  It was not cool because he hugged his son at home plate.  If you watch sports and glean more than a small sliver of your enjoyment of them from the emotional storybook moments like McGwire meeting Maris's family, you're wasting your time.  Just watch something else.  And anyone who thought McGwire got to 70 without any extra supplements was miles out of the loop.

It's just plain wrong. Yeah, Gaylord Perry threw a spitball, and Ty Cobb sharpened his spikes, and King Kelly used to take a shortcut from first to third. But the use of clearly prohibited banned substances is cheating of a much more profound nature.

And why is that?  Go ahead, I'll hang up and wait for your answer.

The decision encompasses at least five of the Seven Deadly Sins: pride, envy, greed, gluttony, sloth. (Lust and wrath may be in there, too.)

Ah yes, the Bible.  That's why steroids are evil.  Thank you and please step down from the pulpit.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

ESPN now tailoring analysis to overweight people (read: Americans)

Highlights from the Kings/Blackhawks game led Sportscenter tonight.  Very strange, I have no idea why ESPN would acknowledge the existence of the hockey, let alone show highlights of it when they could be hyping up the Heat/Pacers game 22 hours in advance.  The network must be making a play for NHL broadcasting rights soon.  Anyways, Barry Melrose, tell us how the Blackhawks built their 4-0 lead tonight:

Well like I always say, apple turnovers are great, but the kinds of turnovers the Kings committed here are not.

He has a point, apple turnovers are good, but I'm still a little confused.  Maybe this is an extremely obscure joke about Martin Brodeur/Brodeur's wife?  (Credit to Jarrett for introducing me to the wonderful world of fat Brodeur)