Monday, October 29, 2007

The Worst Sports Year Ever

When I was a kid, my hatred of the Dallas Cowboys and later the Denver Broncos was both irrationally intense - I was obsessive and weird - but not as bad as my hatred of certain teams now - I didn't pay much attention to sports aside from the Chicago Bulls and solid Notre Dame football teams, which cushioned the hurt a little. Which is why the sports landscape now is infinitely worse than it was in 1993-98. First off, parity has killed the NFL. It was much more fun to hate the Cowboys of old with their massive hookers-'n-coke binges knowing they'd be back for the team the next year, hopefully to blow out a knee. The Patriots, with the exception of Tom Brady, just ship out old parts for new, pump them full of HGH, and throw them out on the field. I've lost count of the aging players who suddenly have an "unexpected resurgence" for the Pats.

You know it's been a bad sports year when the Gators beating the Buckeyes in the football nat'l championship in January is the absolute highlight. And now, Dan Shanoff has made it impossible to surreptitiously root for the Gators when their opponents are even more loathsome.

The parity issue is something for another time, though, because it gets more at the problem of the NFL's aggressively mediocre middle class (30 or 31 teams, but of course they haven't been proven to be cheaters, though, have they?) than at my hatred for a team that has always whined and bitched about the lack of respect it gets, except for all the respect it gets from everyone everywhere, even though they cheat and have a notorious push-off receiver who suddenly feels like playing again and one of the dirtiest, cheapest players in the league (Rodney Harrison... it was so nice seeing his leg exploded not long ago. We can only hope it happens again). Remember that Super Bowl against the Rams? I do, because I was aghast at the manhandling of the Rams receivers. Belicheck, banked on the fact that if his corners and safeties and linebackers were physical enough and committed fouls on just about every pass play, the referees would change the way they call the game, because you can't call pass interference every time out. The earlier Pats teams were like some douche bag in a pick-up game of basketball who keeps fouling you because he's a dipshit and lacks talent but is bold enough to know you're just not going to keep calling him on his bullshit because it's a waste of time. But this isn't yet getting to why this is the worst sports year ever. I will say the Patriots have expertly realized how to succeed in an NFL riddled with parity: cheat at every corner, play dirty to get in your opponents' head, and then bitch like crazy if someone commits a like offense on you. I will say nothing of their fans, because that gets old (but congrats, Pats fans, your team is now the football equivalent of the Bad Boys-era Detroit Pistons. Suck on that. And stop referring to the Patriots and Red Sox as "We". Even though you wailed the shit out of some "pussy" Jets fan and puked in a trash can at the stadium, you are not part of the team. Tedy Bruschi can refer to the Patriots as we because, you know, he draws in a salary from the New England Patriots organization). Except to say Bill Simmons made fun of Peyton Manning's NFL record for touchdown passes because he padded his stats against lesser teams. Has he said a fucking word about the "record-setting pace" of the Patriots offense?

I've pretty much lost interest in the NBA. I haven't much cared since the Bulls' last Dynasty run except for Dwyane Wade's championship with the Heat a year ago, which marks me as a bad fan anyway, so no big deal there. And even though I was basically a fairweather Bulls fan, I did a) live in Illinois and b) know the roster in and out from 1995-1998.

College basketball: I never much cared and don't much care for my alma mater's team anyway. Don't dislike 'em, just don't care to watch 'em. It doesn't help that they play like the Knicks of the mid to late 90s.

College football: Notre Dame is terrible. Bad for its fans who grew up in the midwest and got taken up with all the tradition, good for its unbearable fucking alumni. My brother, an alumnus, agrees. Slate just published an article on Charlie Weis as a fraud. Maybe. It's possible Notre Dame has basically become like the Naval Academy - a sports dinosaur who can score with the middle of the pack but can't beat the top teams. At any rate, I don't much pay attention to people who hate Notre Dame like everyone else hates Duke basketball. It's pretty much deserved as a reputation. But I still love the team.

Baseball: My beloved Cardinals fell apart this year. It's okay, they won the series and all... but did the baseball world have to get punished with another Red Sox run? Seriously? I do look forward, however, when Manny gets the ball thrown at his head in his first game against the Indians next year. But congratulations, Red Sox, it must feel good to have bought a championship.


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