Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to the salt mines

Wow, I took some time off there.  That's what happens when you're a burnt out sports media blogger--sometimes you just have to disappear for a couple weeks and realize that no one really gives a shit whether you post anything or not.  That's just the impetus you need to get back in the game.  Lots of ground to cover here.

First of all, thanks to dan-bob for posting a couple things while I sat on my couch and watched TV rather my usual practice of sitting on my couch and watching TV while blogging.  That was the first time since November of 2010 that dan-bob posted twice in the same week.  Just goes to show you that he's still got excellent writing, analysis and joke-writing skills, but unlike me, actually has other things going on in his life that usually prevent him from exercising those skills here on a regular basis.  I know nobody cares, but since I'm on the topic of real lives of FireJay bloggers, not all that much has changed for any of us since 2007.  Back then we were recent college grads (except for PNoles, who was still in college) living all over the country who didn't have a whole lot of ideas as to what we really wanted to do with our lives.  Now, we are late 20somethings living all over the country in different places than we were back in 2007, still without a whole lot of ideas as to what we really want to do with our lives (except for PNoles, who is the only one among us who has a job that I'm pretty sure he likes and intends to keep for a long time).  Life is good!


Second of all, Jay Mariotti has launched a new website, or is about to launch it, or something.  Fuck if I care to bother knowing the details.  All you need to know about it can be read here, and also, just know that we won't be expending any effort around here towards getting him "fired."  Such effort would be unnecessary, because that new website of his does not constitute a "hiring" of any kind.  He was fired by all of his employers several years ago, remains fired, and may he fuck off and disappear from the public consciousness as soon as possible.


Third of all, I wanted to clarify some comments I made about the Biogenesis mess and its fallout.  The last thing I can afford to do is alienate any of our seven readers, so let me be very clear.  When I said this in the comments section to one of my short posts a few weeks ago:

But it's also kind of too late to undo A-Rod's career, and the mouth-breathing retards clamoring for JUSTICE AGAINST CHEATERZZZ could probably use a reminder that the guy who's pulling out all the stops to nail Rodriguez, including by jumping right over the top of the JDA and going to the CBA to find the sword he wants to use for a JDA-contemplated problem, is the same guy who has himself done tons of harm to the game in years past.

I did not mean to imply that everyone who wants to see users get in trouble is a mouth-breathing retard.  Not at all.  There is plenty of room for disagreement as to what level of outrage towards steroid users is warranted.  I do not harbor much of it (certainly way way less than the average baseball fan), but I do harbor a little of it, and I do want to see the players who get caught under the program agreed to by the league and the MLBPA get the punishments they have coming to them as laid out in the Joint Drug Agreement.  I just happen to think that many baseball fans (or perhaps I should say, many baseball fans who are vocal on the internet--if you've read anything online about the Biogenesis fallout in the last six months you've heard from them, I'm sure) and most baseball writers have a depressingly shortsighted perspective on the whole issue.  They can't seem to think any deeper than GRRRRR CHEATERZZ IS BAD and they think the solution is Draconian punishments like TAKE AWAY THEY'RE CONTRAX AND GIVE DEM LIFETIME BANZZZ, when even those steps will never come close to eradicating usage.  They also are offended at the fact that Braun escaped punishment in 2011/2012 by using the appeals process granted to him in the JDA, and offended at the fact that Rodriguez is using the appeals process granted to him in the JDA to play right now.  The idea of due process and collectively negotiated rights don't mean anything to these people--they just want heads to roll, and they want those heads to roll now.  That is why they are mouth-breathing retards.

I also happen to think that the 200+ game punishment Selig wants to give A-Rod when the JDA lays out very specific rules as to how steroid-using players should be punished, as well as his reported consideration of punishing A-Rod under the CBA instead of the JDA (to prevent A-Rod from playing while the appeal process happens), are both fucking laughable.  What a piece of shit Selig is.  Where does this guy get off?  Steroid use is a practice that the league not only didn't punish, but condoned and indirectly endorsed when big home run totals and the big revenue they led to were a financial life preserver for the league.  Now that Selig is coming to the end of his time as commish, he's going to get TOUGH ON CRIME because he wants to preserve his legacy.  Where was this response in 1998 and 2001, Bud?  What a fucking piece of shit.  I could riff for paragraphs on this complicated subject, but I'll wrap it up by saying that it's not that people who want to see users get punished are idiots for having that desire--it's that many of them (both professional writers and commenters) seem to 1) not be aware of Selig's full legacy as commish, with regard both to steroid use and other problems, and 2) think that the harshest possible response to a infraction is the right one (always beware of people like this, because they are usually fucking idiots).  So go ahead, be glad that the Biogenesis users got caught.  Just don't be the kind of person who lets the fact that Braun and Rodriguez are unlikeable people color your judgment as to whether those players deserve to use the appeals rights given to them in the JDA, and don't be the kind of person who thinks a lifetime ban is a sensible punishment for something that, well, let's just say A LOT of MLB players engage in, and have engaged in for years, often to the benefit of MLB.  The league should take steps to curb steroid usage but LOCK 'EM UP AND THROW AWAY DA KEYS is not one of them.


Fourth of all, before disappearing into Sitonmyassville a couple weeks ago I promised I would take on Simmons's abominable NBA offseason HEY IT'S JUST LIKE AN 80s MOVIE MOST PEOPLE HAVE SEEN ONE OR ZERO TIMES column.  Good news!  I'm still going to do that, since it's not like he's going to write another article anytime soon.  Bad news!  I'm not really starting tonight.  I mean, I'll give you a quick taste.  But I don't have much time to spare right now after slogging through those incoherent ramblings about steroids.

When Alan Sepinwall tweeted about Midnight Run's 25th anniversary two weekends ago, I did a quadruple take. Twenty-five years? How could that be? Top Gun seems like it came out a million years ago. So does The Breakfast Club, so does Wall Street, Fatal Attraction, The Killing Fields, Coming to America, and every other memorable mainstream '80s movie. 

All of those movies seem like they came out during the 80s, which when Midnight Run came out.  Bill is the guy at the party trying to make his inability to perceive something that pretty much everyone can perceive into an interesting conversation.  "Man, can you BELIEVE that gas is like $4 a gallon now?  I just can't even fathom it!"  Bill Simmons is a fucking moron.

Midnight Run? It's an outlier, a timeless classic, our least-dated '80s movie.

Oh my God.

Watching it all these years later, only a couple things feel rusty: The cars, the lack of cell phones, Robert De Niro's cheesy leather jacket, the relentless cigarette smoking and, most strikingly, the fact that anyone could bring guns on airplanes like they were Altoids. Everything else feels fresh. 

So, excepting all of the styles, trends, societal cultural norms, technology and laws that are different, IT HASN'T AGED A DAY.  Basically, it's 100% fresh in the sense that it's a movie about criminals and cops, some of whom are good guys and some of whom are bad guys, and those kinds of movies still get made in 2013.

It's just as funny as it was 25 years ago, the action moves briskly, and the chemistry between De Niro (as bounty hunter Jack Walsh) and Charles Grodin (as the Duke, an on-the-lam accountant who stole $15 million from a mob boss) remains ridiculously good.

Charlees Grodin!  There's an actor who makes you think "This movie definitely isn't from the 80s--gotta be more recent than that, right?"

When I retweeted Sepinwall and added "Is this Moron Number One? Put Moron Number Two on the phone" (one of Dennis Farina's many classic moments), 

"Classic move by me to pick that quote, don't you think?"

my Twitter replies quickly filled with other Farina one-liners. That made me wonder if I'd found the right medium for my annual "Movie Quotes As Awards" breakdown of the NBA's busiest offseason month. Two days later, Farina passed away at 69. Now it had to happen.

Without that inspiration, who knows what flick Bill might have chosen to fill out his unimaginative and pointless "[sports event] is just like [movie]!" template this time around.

Quickly on Farina: I first remember him during Season 1 of Miami Vice, 


when he played a wisecracking mob boss named Albert Lombard. By the end of his last episode, you liked him, you feared him, you laughed with him and, strangely, you wanted him to stay alive. (Retroactive spoiler alert: He didn't.) NBC jumped on the momentum by giving him the leading role in Crime Story, an innovative cop drama that never made it. Two years later, he stole every one of his scenes in Midnight Run and could have been nominated for an Oscar, but since Academy Awards voters don't respect or appreciate comedies, astonishingly, nobody from Run got nominated for anything.

I have never seen Midnight Run all the way through, but have seen the whole thing in pieces, and I can promise you that while it's an above average movie its lack of Oscar recognition is about as tragic as Zoolander's lack of Oscar recognition.

At that point, you would have bet anything that Farina was going to become a star 

And he did.

— a funnier James Gandolfini, basically — only it never happened. 

If you think Farina's resume is not that of a star, at least on some level (WHAT LEVEL OF STAR WAS FARINA?  IS JOE FLACCO ELITE?????), you know even less about pop culture than I already thought you didn't.  

That's Hollywood for you. Some people never find the right part, and there's more luck involved than you'd think. 


Once upon a time, David Chase agonized about casting Gandolfini or Michael Rispoli as Tony Soprano. Had Rispoli ended up with that role, there's a good chance we're remembering Gandolfini as the unforgettable bad guy in True Romance and that's it. Farina never landed his Sopranos-like break, but Midnight Run's Jimmy Serrano lives on and on. He's one of the best things in one of the most rewatchable, funny movies ever made. This column is dedicated to him.

Please, no one tell Farina's family about this.

Last note: No movie used more F-bombs more effectively than Midnight Run. As much as it kills me, I'm dashing out all those F-bombs for this column, just because of their sheer volume. 

And because I would never directly admit it, but I'm letting ESPN's desire to make Grantland as mainstream as possible subjugate my editorial authority.

And if you don't like it, I have two words for you.



Chris W said...


Bill Simmons

Anonymous said...

Dennis Farina was a star. "Yes, London. You know, fish, chips, cup o' tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary fucking Poppins … London!" -Cousin Avi, Snatch.

Attn: new Grantland drone fest as Bill Simmons jerks off while he formulaically square pegs the Eagles into his round asshole.

Larry B said...

That's pretty lofty.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, degeneration is running amok.

Snarf said...

I agree with you on A-Rod. Writers/people seem to forget that the punishments in the MLB drug policy were drafted to punish cheating cheaters that cheated. So, I have no idea why there is this sentiment that because A-Rod is a cheater they need to throw the book at him and forget about due process. Wasn't this whole thing made for just such instances, not for punishing good guys?

Anonymous said...

Larry did you see letter that was written to Bill by the D league player? Maybe the letter was a reach and maybe it wasn't but someone is finally calling Bill on his underhanded racism!

Anonymous said...

All Bill lacks is an interest in shooting sports and a Confederate flag patch.