Pop Goes The Shoulder

I’m not sure we’re quite hitting Brian Roberts clonks himself on the head and winds up with a concussion territory here, but respect to Red Sox pitcher Carson Smith for a solid effort.

“Hurt his arm” turned out to be a kinder, gentler way of saying he dislocated his damn shoulder.

BOSTON — Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he was surprised to hear that reliever Carson Smith feels that fatigue could have contributed to his dislocated pitching shoulder.

The 28-year-old right-hander was injured when he threw his glove during a tantrum in the dugout after leaving Monday night’s 6-5 loss to Oakland. He entered with the Red Sox trailing 5-4 in the eighth, allowed Khris Davis’ leadoff home run, then retired three straight batters.

Thank god I don’t listen to Boston sports talk radio. I don’t know how much arm fatigue vs. be honest with your coaches babble I could handle.

The right answer in that argument, by the way, is that there is no right answer. Nobody is ever going to mistake me for an athlete, but I have had injuries. And the thing with injuries is that sometimes you don’t realize that you’ve overdone it until you’ve overdone it, and the next thing you know, the simplest task, one that you felt totally prepared for, will have you all messed up. That doesn’t mean acting like a damn baby and tossing stuff around when you’re mad is necessarily excusable when you’re supposed to be a grown ass adult, but you also don’t expect that throwing something is going to fuck you up so much when you throw things for a living.

I’m Sure There Must Be Worse Baseball Songs, But Marlins Will Soar Is Way Up There

Oh my sweet Jesus in heaven, what in the hell is this and how has it escaped me for eight years? And perhaps more importantly, how do I unhear it and get it to go away again?

Woof. That sure is a lot of awful to cram into a minute and 47 seconds. But at the same time, you cannot argue that it is anything but a tune befitting a bad team with even worse ownership. A team such as the Miami Marlins, in whose name it was written back in 2010.

Yes, that is in fact Scott Stapp A.K.A. that Creed guy word vomiting random baseball related syllables over a backing track he likely wrote in 1998. I don’t know if he was paid actual money for it (it seems likely considering the Marlins history of great business decisions), but it does appear that he was compensated in the form of free tickets for life and the ability for his kids to be bat boys whenever they wanted. That’s nice for the kids I guess, but why does this damn team hate the rest of us so much?

Let’s play ball, it’s game day
We want strikeouts, base hits, double plays
Take the field, hear the roar of the crowd
Come on Marlins, make us proud
Keep hoping and dreaming and you will soar
With a little faith and love, you will soar
One strike, two strikes, swing away
A diving catch, a stolen base
A perfect game, a triple play
Another play-off race—YES!
World Series chance we’ll [unintelligible scream]

I think it’s “World Series champs you’ll be,” but “unintelligible scream” sums the team up much better, so let’s just go with that.

The NHL Needs To Adopt The FIEGI Playoff Format Right Now

A few days ago I got to bitching about the NHL’s dumb playoff format and offered up one serious and one almost as dumb way to fix it.

Without meaning to, I’ve just stumbled upon an article that takes part of my dumb idea (just put everybody in the damn playoffs since that’s what you seem to want to do anyway) and actually makes it workable. Behold, the Fuck It Everyone Gets In playoff format!

It involves some one game play-ins and a few two out of threes for a lot of the bottom feeding teams so would take some getting used to, but I’m having trouble poking a single hole in it. The regular season becomes more meaningful, fans and players alike always have some hope, it rewards good teams, there’s at least a bit of that sweet, sweet playoff revenue for everyone, and don’t even try telling me you’re not watching the hell out of the shittiest team in the league going on an improbable march to the finals some year. The season gets slightly longer which isn’t exactly ideal since it doesn’t end until nearly fucking July as it is, but that’s nothing that can’t be solved by either shortening the preseason or shutting up and living with it like we eventually do with everything else.

It makes too much sense for the NHL to enact it, but allow me to be one of the first to wholeheartedly endorse this plan.

Let’s Fix The Playoffs

It’s just about NHL playoff time, which means I’m annoyed. Not because my favourite team is missing out again (go Leafs go!), but because the format is needlessly complicated. Seriously, have a gander at this shit.

As has been the case since 1979-80, 16 teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The format now is a set bracket that is largely division-based with wild cards.
The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season record and regardless of division. It is possible for one division in each conference to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends just three.
In the First Round, the division winner with the best record in each conference will be matched against the wild card with the lesser record; the wild card with the better record will play the other division winner.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will meet in the First Round within the bracket headed by their respective division winner. First-round winners within each bracket play one another in the Second Round to determine the four participants in the Conference Finals.
Home-ice advantage through the first two rounds goes to the team that placed higher in the regular-season standings. In the Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final, home-ice advantage goes to the team that had the better regular-season record, regardless of the teams’ final standing in their respective divisions.

I have an uncle who swears this makes complete sense and is totally fair. In related news, I also have an uncle who is wrong.

Like what the hell is any of that? Conferences…divisions…wildcards…lesser records…one side with more people than the other…home ice advantage is determined by one record until it isn’t…get the fuck out of here with this, NHL! You’re killing me here.

There is no reason why determining a champion needs to be this difficult, so allow me to make it simpler.

First of all, decide whether you want divisions or conferences. You don’t need both. My vote is we jettison divisions, because they tend not to make any geographical sense and sometimes it’s hard for casual fans or even whatever the level slightly above casual is to remember who goes where. All you really need is an Eastern Conference, a Western Conference and a map to help you figure out which teams should go in each one.

Once you have that, play your season. At the end, the eight teams from each side with the most points get to go to the playoffs, because 16 is a fine number that works well for tournaments and we’re all used to it at this point. Each side goes 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7 and so-forth. Once that’s done, the winner of 1 vs 8 plays the winner of 2 vs. 7 and on and on and on until you have a single team left on each side, at which point you have your East against West match-up for the cup.

Again, this is not that hard, and the only reason it is currently as hard as it is is either because nobody in the NHL knows what they’re doing or everyone who does is too frightened of the people who don’t to tell them to get bent.

Speaking of getting bent, just shut up with this playoff expansion business. I don’t care how many teams you eventually want to add to the league, 16 of them is already a lot to put into the playoffs. Getting to the playoffs is supposed to be hard, so at least maybe try to give me the illusion that it is, guys. If anything, less teams should make it. That’s why baseball’s playoff race is so much more fun for me. It feels like a much bigger achievement to have your team make it when half the damn league isn’t going with them.

But if you’re convinced that bumping up the number of playoff teams is unavoidable, then I have another suggestion. Get rid of the regular season. If most of the teams are going to the playoffs anyway, what do you need it for? Just put everyone in and be done with it.

Every January, put the names of every team in a tumbler and draw them Battlebowl style. There’s your first round. When that’s over, you can either make a bracket or you can put the winners back in the hat and draw again, your choice.

As I see it, there are several advantages to this.

  1. It would give people a reason to look forward to January. January is garbage. It’s cold, it’s dark, you’re in debt from Christmas, depending on where you live there’s not another holiday to look forward to until Easter…the annual big ass hockey tournament would be a nice escape.
  2. There would be no more whining about how unfair the system is. It’s a blind draw, so your have not teams have as good a chance as the haves of getting matched up favourably with someone.
  3. Playing careers would be longer without the wear and tear of playing seven months of pointless games every year.
  4. There would be no more discontent about putting the season on pause during Olympic years.

And I’m sure I’m missing a few more.

I know None of this is happening. The NHL is going to do whatever the hell it wants and we’re all just going to put up with it. That’s why we have shootouts, a concept that has no place whatsoever in hockey. If it did, why aren’t they used in the playoffs? Regular season ties are not the end of the world. If they are, make everyone keep playing until somebody wins. Yes, that’s a stupid idea, but so is determining the end of a 60 minute contest with a lame skills competition. And this playoff format. And adding even more people to it. And locking out the players every few years…god, why do I still watch this stuff? Why do you have to be so much fun, hockey.

The Name Of The Team

If I were smart I’d have asked Gill what the cheer was in her third item, because I laughed at the Boat Load and wouldn’t mind it being even funnier somehow.

With the arrival of baseball season and hockey winding down we need to talk. Some team names have been placed beneath the microscope because of the age of political correctness, and what is now frowned upon. Now before you go calling me a social justice warrior or something like that, we must understand that some of these controversies have been going on for many years.

  • The Chicago Blackhawks – This is more recent, unlike the Braves of Atlanta or the Cleveland Indians.
  • The Washington Redskins – This team was named all the way back in the 1930’s, however nowadays this would be the same as calling a Brampton fastball team the Brampton Brown faces.
  • From experience – My friend Jeff was a water boy for his high school baseball team, a team largely made up of Cambodians, Vietnamese, and Thai Canadian kids. Classmates, and even the two non-Southeast Asian team members called the team “the boat load.” They even had a cheer each time the guys would go up to bat that pretty much offended anyone with any kind of decency.

Question

What’s your favorite sports team, or did your high school have a team name that may not be ok today?

Watt Gives You The Right To Talk To Me Like That


I’m not really a soccer guy, but I am a big fan of silliness, which means I enjoyed this.

Former Arsenal forward Sanchez Watt received the most bizarre red card of the season after a referee mistook the player saying his own name for dissent.
Watt, playing for Hemel Hempstead in their National League South clash with East Thurrock on Tuesday night, was asked his name by ref Dean Hulme so that he could book him for kicking the ball away.
But the official grew frustrated when the answer given was ‘Watt’, mistaking the reply as the player saying ‘What?’ and arguing against his decision. Hulme asked Watt three times for his name, receiving ‘Watt’ as the reply each time, before seeing red and giving Watt his marching orders.

Thankfully team captain Jordan Parkes was able to rush in and explain the situation, and old Wattshisname’s red card was changed to a yellow allowing him to stay in the match, which his team won 2-0.

Let’s Play Some Basketball! Instead Of Singing? Good Idea!

Nelly Furtado, Fergie…I’m beginning to wonder if maybe the NBA should stop having folks sing national anthems at its All-Star games.

Yes, I defended Nelly Furtado at the time and I stand by that decision even though her shaky start was quite a bit more jarring than I remember, But I’m not defending this.

I don’t think I’d go as far as to say that “a goose being strangled in your living room would produce a much more pleasant series of noises” as Deadspin did, but hot damn is this ever no fucking good.

If you were to ask me to pinpoint exactly when things went off the rails, first I would ask you what rails it started out on, but then, because I am fair, I would say that up until the part where our flag was still there things were merely awful. It’s at that point when everything just goes straight to irredeemable hell. Oof. I mean just listen to that!

I understand the urge to put a new spin on something old. Jimi Hendrix became legendary for doing that very thing.

But here’s the thing. Most people aren’t Jimi Hendrix. And evoking imagery of rockets and bombs with nothing but an instrument is a whole lot different than turning your country’s national anthem into something you’d hear in a jazz lounge that deserves to go out of business. I appreciate the effort, but let’s maybe stop overthinking things so much.

There He Goes!

Update:
On the Jeff Blair show earlier this week, they spent two hours with Jerry, talking about his career and retirement. There are guests, there are phone calls, there are memories, there are emotions. You can listen to it here.

Original Post:
I heard my first bit of Blue Jays baseball on the radio sometime in 1985. Don’t ask me what date it was or who was playing. I have no idea. All I know is that I found it the same way I seem to find most things, just by messing around. Oh, and that once I found it, I kept listening. I can think of three reasons for that.

  • The Jays were really good then.
  • Tom Cheek.
  • Jerry Howarth.

Tom has sadly been gone for 13 years (Has it really been that long?), and today comes word that after 36 seasons, Jerry is calling it a game.

I’ll be honest. For a while now I’ve been wondering how long he might keep going. In the past couple years he had missed a fair bit of time due to voice trouble, there was the cancer scare, and there was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. He just didn’t seem like himself, making more and more uncharacteristic mistakes. It was to the point where Carin, who cares not much for baseball, asked me if he was ok.

But even a somewhat diminished Jerry Howarth was still one of the best in the game, and I’m sad to see him go. I don’t remember a time before him, and though I’m sure that Rogers will find a more than capable replacement (give the job to Mike Wilner assuming he wants it, guys), the future without him isn’t going to sound quite right for a very long time, if it ever does.

“I had every intention of continuing my career into the 2018 season but my health and stamina and continuing voice issues dictated otherwise,” said Howarth. “Who knew that I would spend more than half my life in Toronto with my wife, Mary, and our two sons, Ben and Joe, doing what I love to do most, reaching out to friends and fans alike across our great country to talk baseball?

“I am blessed and I am grateful. I thank everyone who has made this journey of mine so rewarding in every way.”

Baseball On Ice

Today in sports stuff that probably wouldn’t fly anymore: Baseball on a skating rink.

This silent footage (sorry, blind kids) is taken from 1924, but there is a much more detailed account of a game played in 1861, a time long before video or safety now that you mention it had been invented.

On February 4, 1861, 20 members of the Charter Oak and Atlantic Baseball Clubs organized a baseball game on a frozen pond in Brooklyn. According to both the New York Times and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the match was incredibly popular. Anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 spectators stopped by to watch the game unfold, crowding along the boundaries of the makeshift baseball field and the high banks surrounding it.
The players were surprisingly proficient in skating, and the Eagle notes that only one or two tripped on the ice after failing to stop at a base or calculate where the silver ball was about to land. In lieu of physical bases, the ice was marked with a “reddish coloring” where players were expected to stop, though the official rules eventually mandated that players skate past the marks in order to avoid injury.

The game lasted the standard nine innings, and ended with the Atlantics winning by a score of 36-27.

Dammit, Forgot the spoiler alert there. Sorry.

Vladimir Putin, Voice Of Reason: December 2017-December 2017

Well, so much for my theory about Vladimir Putin trying to act like the sensible one where the Russian Olympic ban is concerned.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused U.S. agencies of manipulating evidence from the main whistleblower on doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Putin said Thursday that former Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov — who is under witness protection after fleeing to the United States last year — is “under the control” of the American agencies, including the FBI.

Rodchenkov being in the United States “is not a positive for us, it’s a negative. It means he’s under the control of American special services,” Putin said. “What are they doing with him there? Are they giving him some kind of substances so that he says what’s required?”

He went on to say that Rodchenkov should never have been given his position in the lab because he’s mentally unstable and under several criminal investigations back home, and that the IOC trusting him is nonsense.

Speaking of nonsense, he also claimed that all this doping business is designed to interfere with the upcoming Russian election.

Putin also reiterated previous claims that Russian doping scandals are an attempt to smear the government as he runs for re-election in March, a month after the Pyeongchang Olympics.
“The scandal is being created ahead of the domestic political calendar,” he said. “Whatever people say, I’m convinced, I just know this is the case.”

Well ok, he may be on to something there. I mean if anyone knows a thing or two about interfering in elections…