Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Vick

I haven't written in awhile, because quite frankly I'm in a sports depression. It's generic to say, but I am counting down the days until football season begins. As much as I hate on baseball, I will admit that the last month or so can be rather exciting, especially since the Red Sox and Yankees are battling for the top spot in the stacked AL East. However, every month before that is pretty boring.

Anyway, this will be my first and last entry of the week. I'm going "Hollywood" tomorrow to visit my sister, friends, and maybe run into Tupac. I was going to wait until I got back to write, but I couldn't resist commenting on this Michael Vick saga.

As most of you know Michael Vick was reinstated to the NFL this week. It's anybodies guess at this point if he will miss any time, or how affective a player he will be. I hated on Michael Vick a ton when the dog fighting charges were brought against him a couple years ago. Though the disdain for him as a person has worn off a bit, I pretty much still hold the same view about him in general.

All the Michael Vick backers keep talking about how other NFL players have committed worse acts and gotten less punishment, and they are right. The fact is though, Vick was punished justly for his crime but the others weren't. That is the thing everyone is missing here. Don't compare Vick's situation to other situations, because everyone knows professional athletes get special treatment. For once the law cracked down. Leonard Little should have been banned from the NFL for life as far as I'm concerned. He killed another person while driving under the influence, then got another DUI charge a few years later. However, because he is a professional athlete and drunk driving is a common crime in this country, he was let off with an 8 game suspension.

I think as bad as this sounds, that is the reason Vick's crimes were looked and punished differently than all the DUI manslaughter and domestic assaults. It's because most people have known people that have gotten DUI's, or people that have gotten in fights that have escalated. In some twisted way they can relate to what happened. But most people haven't participated in the electrocution and drowning of innocent dogs. Also, the fact that dogs are helpless creatures and are seen as parts of the family for many people in this country, has contributed to the uproar.

It's also the fact of the planning and duration of the crime. Vick was doing this for years. He hosted these events at a house that was purposely secluded. He didn't have a few too many and drive a car, he planned these events out and knew what he was doing. Sure, he grew up in an environment where this was part of the culture. But that is no excuse for him to do it. I have no sympathy for Michael Vick. With money and fame comes responsibility no matter what anyone wants to say.

It should be interesting to see what team Vick goes to. No matter what you think of him as a person, the guy is flat out exciting to watch on the football field. I just hope the Patriots or Skins don't pick him up because it would be a media circus. Yes, Vick did pay his debt to society. At the same time, he deserves all the hateful treatment he gets. I'm willing to give him another chance, but I would guess he still doesn't think what he did was wrong. That in essence is what is wrong with our society. We punish people, throw them in jail, but sometimes they are not rehabilitated. Maybe for the first month or even year, but it is hard to change a person's inherent ethics and values.

I can't believe it is almost August(worst month ever) and the end of summer. I'm looking forward to a few days of relaxation on the beach and time spent with friends and family. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why we are sports fans

Sports are and always have been such a huge part of my life, that I've never stopped to think why me and millions others are so consumed with following them. Most of us played sports as kids. Some of us played in high school, even a few in college. But there comes a point in every sports lovers life that you lose the ability to be a player, and become only a fan. There in lies the core of why we are sports fans. We are living vicariously through our teams and our favorite players. When our team does something good or bad we do something good or bad. That is how we as sports fans stay connected.

It also has to do with wanting to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. I'm a Celtics fan and feel like I'm a part of the bigger Celtics community. When I go to bars and their on TV, I feel like I'm representing them in a way.. When I go into a bar in Boston I feel at home. It is almost like an extended family for sports fans. Sports gives us a chance to get away from the realities of everyday life for a few hours. When our team wins we feel a sense of accomplishment even though in reality we had nothing to do with it.

The problems come when you take it too seriously. I know first hand about this. I remember back in high school, anytime UNC would lose in the NCAA tournament I'd be depressed and angry for a week. It's ridiculous when you think about it. Does your life really change just because your sports team doesn't win? Nothing was worse than the Super Bowl 2 years ago when the Patriots lost. I thought I had slowly gotten over the stage of life when I let sports get to me that much, but I honestly couldn't watch or read any sports related items for two weeks. Yes, I am still kind of bitter. The good news is, even though I'm nervous when my teams play now, I get over losses a lot better than I used to. Being depressed about a sports loss is similar to a lot of things in life. It does no use to regret what already has happened, you move on and hope for the best next time.

The Internet has created a whole new breed of sports fan. Now you have so much negativity and hatred between people. Go on any message board and you will see tons of hateful comments and most of it makes no sense. It is ridiculous to hate anyone just because they are on a team you don't like. Look, I've done it before and for that I'm a total idiot. But I've realized that you can hate a team, but you can't hate the players. It is dumb to hate Peyton Manning just because he is on the Colts and really good. I don't know the guy at all, and just because he is the best player on my rivals team doesn't make him a bad person. The exception to this of course is T.O who sucks at life.

I love being a sports fan, though it can be an extremely frustrating life. This is especially the case if you like the Redskins, who always seem to underachieve, and whose owner only cares about dollar signs. But for some reason we keep rooting for our teams. No matter how much they break our heart, no matter how many times the players change, a sports fan always cheers on their team to the end.

A few quick comments about what is going on in sports right now. I think we all see why golf is not a sport at this point and rather just a really difficult hobby. Look, if a 59 year old can get within 1 shot of winning a grand slam championship it can't be a sport. Also, football season is 3 weeks away, thank god. The other night I was at a bar watching four baseball games side by side and nearly threw my head against the TV. One thing I will say about baseball is Albert Pujols is a flat out beast. If it ever came out he was on steroids I would never watch a baseball game again. The chase for the pennant between the Yankees and Red Sox should also be very interesting.

Thanks for reading everyone. If you haven't already, please go on the Potomac River at sunset. It will probably change your life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Am I a Bandwagon fan?

The good part about the next month and a half before football begins is I get to finally blog about some of my general sports theories. Today I'm going to write about "bandwagon fans." You know, the fan who likes a team just because they are good at the time, or because it is trendy to like them. Honestly, being a bandwagon fan is very understandable. It has to get frustrating to constantly rout for a team that sucks. I'll admit, I'm somewhat of a bandwagon fan when it comes to football, but not in the traditional sense.

First off, to be clear I've always been a fan of Boston Sports teams. My parents weren't that into sports, so my grandpa, who lives in Massachusetts, got me started watching Boston sports from an early age. It bugs me when people think I just like them because they have dominated the sports landscape for the last decade. While I'm not a bandwagon fan, I do admit to jumping off the proverbial "wagon" and stepping into another one. During the 90's I was a huge 49ers fan. Actually until about 6 years ago I was. I had 3 football teams, the Niners, Pats, and Redskins. After TO and the shitty Niners management destroyed the franchise, I pretty much only followed the Pats and Skins.

The reason the Pats became my #1 football team was my time at Umass. I got to watch every game and see how a 1st class organization was run. Look, it's hard being a fan of a team that is never on TV and has no players to get excited about. Especially if that team is not your home town team and the other team you love is winning super bowls. During the Steve Young era(who is my favorite player ever) the Niners were always on TV and I could follow them. Now they are on maybe once a year. I didn't jump on the Patriots wagon because I was always a fan, but I admit to disowning my 49ers fandom.

Look, there is no rule that you can only like 1 team from each sport. However, if the Patriots suck at some point, and I become a fan of another team you can call me the biggest sellout ever. The Patriots, Redskins, Celtics, Tarheels and Red Sox will always be my teams and you can quote me on that.

No one can call me a bandwagon fan of the Celtics. The Celtics have been my number 1 team since I was 6 and always will be. When they won the championship in 2008 it was one of the top 10 moments of my life. As for UNC, I really wanted to follow a college hoops team when I was a kid. Since my favorite active player at the time was Michael Jordan, I latched onto them. Plus their colors are awesome.

It is easy to understand why a person becomes a bandwagon fan, so I'm not going to hate on them. It becomes bad when your a habitual bandwagoner(great word). I've always been and will always be a Boston sports, Skins, and Tarheels fan no matter how much they suck down the road. By the way, my teams will suck at some point. Sports are cyclical and no one stays on top forever. I would say stick to your teams because then when they win you will feel so much better. You really never know what could happen. If you had told me the Celtics would win a championship this decade 5 years ago I would've laughed in your face. Remember it's just a game, when your team loses it doesn't mean your a loser. It took me 20 years to finally grasp that idea.

One more thing. One of the most annoying things a sports fan does is blindly defend their team. Look, the Lions suck, deal with it. Don't try to make excuses for them and say they should've won if they had scored 3 more touchdowns. What is even worse is people insulting another team just because they aren't their team. Look I'm not a fan of the Steelers but I recognize they are probably the best franchise in sports. The stupidity and ignorance of some sports fans is remarkable. You have these intelligent people, but when their sports teams are involved they turn into idiots.

Anyway, thanks for reading everyone and have a great week.

Next Blog: Why sports matter.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Federer makes history

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend. Always tough coming to work the Monday after a holiday, but bills need to be paid. What a great weekend of tennis at Wimbledon. Serena Williams beat sister Venus for her 11th Grand Slam championship, proving that when they are on their game, the Williams sisters are still the most dominant players in women's tennis. It's really incredible what they have done. They are one of the few tennis players, man or woman, who have lives and careers outside of tennis. Still, they seem to always be there on the final weekend of major tournaments. I think that says something about taking some time off the tennis court. Just look at Rafael Nadal. His over scheduling of events cost him a chance to defend his Wimbledon crown.

What more can I say about Roger Federer? The match yesterday was a true classic and I really feel for Andy Roddick. Through 77 games he lost his serve once, but unfortunately for him it was still not enough to beat the mighty Federer. The thing about Federer now is he doesn't dominate like he used to, but he beats his opponents with a sort of calculating coolness that must be so frustrating to opponents. The reason he wins and won yesterday is his ability to win big points. The match with Roddick really turned when he missed the backhanded volley at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. Even if he had made that though, I still think Federer would have found a way to win. Like I said before tennis is not about who plays better overall in the match, but who plays better during the big points. The US Open in August could be a classic with a healthy Nadal, a rejuvenated Roddick, and Federer looking to win 3 out of 4 grand slams in the calendar year.

The greatest player of all time is Roger Federer without a doubt. Pete Sampras is my favorite player but never came close to what Federer has accomplished. It's not just that he has won the most majors. It's the fact that he has been in 16 of the last 17 finals. He is the surest thing in all of sports. To those that say he is not the best because Nadal has gotten the better of him, that is ridiculous. The fact is, Nadal has never even made a US Open final, has won two majors outside of the French, and will probably be off the tennis circuit in 3 or 4 years because of his style of play. I love the Nadal-Federer match up, but just because a person has a poor record against one person, doesn't discount what they've done to everyone else, especially in a sport like tennis.

In other news, the Celtics signed Rasheed Wallace! I was so excited when I heard the news because this puts the Celtics back in the championship hunt. Wallace can be a bit of a headcase, but his teammates have always liked him. Plus he has playoff and championship experience. For those that say they should've concentrated on keeping Big Baby, that is ridiculous. Davis had a great year last year but Wallace is a 4 time All Star and proven player in the league for over a decade. It is like the Ariza thing. One good year does not mean you are going to become a perennial all star. The fact is Big Baby is undersized and plays below the rim. He would probably never be more than a role player in this league.

Also, I like that the Celtics are trying to win now. There is no guarantee when you will get another chance at a title, and I think it shows dedication by the Celtics management that they realize their 2-3 year window is closing, and they need to go for broke now. Too many times in sports, teams try to look and build to the future. The fact is by looking toward the future you forget the present, and before you know it your in the lottery every year. As a Celtics fan in the 90's and for much of the millennium I know this feeling. With Turkoglu gone I think the Celtics are the team to beat in the East once again. In fact, I think the Magic losing Courtney Lee and Turkoglu, even while getting Vince Carter, means they got worse. If the Celtics can sign Grant Hill and keep either Powe or Davis that will further solidify the team. Can't wait for next season.
I want to touch briefly on the tragic news of Steve McNair's death this past weekend. McNair was a great player in the NFL and my condolences go out to the family. However, it is very sad that he was dating a woman almost half his age when he had a wife and 4 kids. Not only willhis family have to deal with the fact he is gone, but also with the shame of knowing he was being unfaithful. It is just a very sad situation overall.

Thanks for reading everyone. As always, any comments are appreciated.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Rich Get Richer

"Written Friday"

I have a lot to talk about today. First some sad news to report. My dog Arfa was diagnosed with a malignant tumor. The good news is we caught it early so there is a 60-70% chance it won't come back. It is so sad watching her now. She has to wear a plastic cone on her head to prevent her from licking the spot where the tumor was. Arfa is a very strong dog and I know she will pull through.

I want to start off today talking about Wimbledon. Roger Federer advanced to his 20th Grand Slam final today beating Tommy Haas in straight sets. Federer will look to break the men's grand slam championship record against American Andy Roddick. You have to feel for Roddick. In another era he may have won 3 or 4 more slams, but with the domination of Federer he has been looked at by many as a dissapointment. I expect Federer to win in 4 sets.

Federer is such an incredible player. Tennis is all about winning big points. Think about it, in professional tennis, especially on the men's side, they hold serve 90% of the time. Winning 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 is considered practically a blowout, but a few points here or there and the score could've been reversed. What makes Federer so great is his ability to come up so huge in big moments. I think that is what makes professional sports so incredible. Their ability to come up huge when the pressure is on is unbelievable. Can you imagine serving for a Wimbledon title, shooting a free throw to win the NBA Finals, kicking a last second field goal in the Super Bowl. Us normal people would pee in our pants, but the pros do this on a consistent basis.

Now onto NBA trades. Ron Artest verbally agreed to a contract with the Lakers yesterday, which is scary. While they lose Ariza, Ariza was still just a guy who had one good year. Artest is a proven great defender and overall great player in this league. As a Celtics fan my only hope is Artest implodes at some point and screws up their team chemistry. Unfortunatelythat is doubtful with Kobe on the team. Hedo Turkoglu going to the Raptors was an interesting choice. Like I said before I thought a lot of times Turkoglu was the best palyer on that Magic team during the playoffs. Even though the Magic got Vince Carter it doesn't necessarily mean they are better.

I first heard the reports of the Celtics trying to acquire Rasheed Wallace yesterday and was ecstatic. They've sent the Big 3 out there to convince him, and I hope his friendship with KG, and the fact that he wants another title will bring him to Boston. There is a common misconception that Wallace is a bad guy. Sure he yells at refs, but his teammates love him, and that matters a lot more. Though he underachieves sometimes I still see this as a poor mans Randy Moss deal. With the right team and with Garnett at his side, Wallace would play to his full potential. Talent wise there are few better big men in this league. Unfortunately it looks like he may be going to the Spurs instead.

Like I said in the title the rich are getting richer and though that is bad for society, it is generally good for sports in my opinion. The league has too many teams as it is, and I want to see the best teams stay great and compete year after year for a title. Think about how good the final 4 could be next year with the Celtics, Cavs, Lakers, and Spurs all improving. It is going to be quite an interesting year.

I wrote this blog yesterday so I will analyze Serena Williams's win and the men's final tomorrow. Happy 4th of July everyone!