Author: Dallas McLaughlin (page 1 of 3)

Baseball’s Hall of Fame Voting System Needs a Reboot

Hall of Fame voting is moronic.

It’s a flawed system that gives a select group of writers the majority of control over a player’s legacy. Writers who could have at one time had a contentious relationship with a great player, or just didn’t like the “way” those players played the game, or writers who just don’t believe in the position that player played have almost complete control on how the game of baseball is remembered. It’s not right.

As a San Diegan I’m obviously partial to the last argument listed above based on the recent weeks of the Trevor Hoffman debate mysteriously helmed by Keith Law. He’s come out of the gate in 2017 as the anti-Jonah Keri. Instead of being hell-bent on an overlooked player who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, Law wants to keep one out: Hoffman.

Keith Law essentially feels that the role of Closer should not be included in the Hall of Fame, and even got into an argument with me on Twitter about the merits of the position. Law, an analyst and senior baseball writer for ESPN, took the time out of his day to make fun of Padres fans and belittle those who want great players to be included in a building of great players. You might think this is something that should be “below” Law or even ridiculous for him to get involved in. Perhaps even mean. But, it’s not and I’ll explain.

Law is a genius. I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way. The guy is a very smart individual who has certainly found his niche in the world of baseball journalism and script. His approach matches his intellect, which is analytic, economic, mathematical and smug. I imagine hanging out with Law would be about as fun as hanging out with a lamppost. However, he is very smart. He even wrote a book. But, see Law is a fan. That’s it. Just like you and me, Law is a fan of the game and it’s players. Why do you think he started writing about baseball to begin with, because there were job openings in the field? Trust me, there are not.

Like normal every day diehard baseball fans guys like Law, Bob Nightengale, or Buster Olney have spent a lot of time being around baseball, arguing and debating with friends about baseball, and cultivating opinions based on their personal beliefs and romantic experiences with the game and it’s players. The biggest difference between those guys and us is that at some point they were able to articulate their opinions and feelings in a way that garnered them employment in different arenas in and around the professional game.

They are professional baseball writers and analysts who get paid to have opinions. And, that is rad. The little money I have made over time writing about sports is an added bonus to my life I could have never expected. However, I’m just a blogger. I’m not a professional, and even though that distinction is blurring more and more every day, people will still take a guy like Keith Law’s word over mine. I don’t blame them. He wrote a book. I wrote a song called “Party In My Tummy”. We’ve both won awards. Whatever.

Law, Olney, and even heroes of the genre like Peter Gammons have all moved to the Internet to find a voice. Starting podcasts, websites, and pay walls all to try and continue their dominance as thee voices and judges in the world of what is and isn’t good baseball. However, at this point we both have .com (or .org) at the end of our paychecks. Those guys are glorified bloggers. They’re super fans with a talent for analysis. That’s it, and that alone does not warrant one the right to decide how someone who did what they can’t do should be remembered. Would writers be okay with Trevor Hoffman being the main decision maker on who gets to be in the baseball writer’s hall of fame? I doubt it.

I’d venture to say over 90% of baseball writers, and most likely 98% of baseball fans have never played the game professionally. They have absolutely no idea what it actually takes to get on the field and perform at a high level. They can sit around, crunch numbers, debate athletic merits, and score tests, but they can’t physically play. This fact alone makes it strange to me that they’ve been able to position themselves as the judge and jury delivering verdicts on the legacy of an actual professional baseball player.

The only people who should be able to vote on Hall of Fame inductees are the players and managers who actually spent time in the game. The ones who succeeded or failed, and know exactly what it takes to hit .210 or .310, to throw 200 innings or 40. They know what the individual players and managers meant to the sport, city, and team on a day in and day out basis. They should be the sole panel allowed to decide who will represent them for eternity.

And, if we are gonna continue with the charade of letting BlogSpot overlords and kings of a dying industry be the end all be all of baseball’s fame then let’s examine two quick things that illustrate just how unqualified they are:

In my argument with Keith Law it was revealed that he places little value on a player’s individual talent. This makes sense given his precise numbers driven way of thinking. He leaves little or nothing to the imagination, and in fact I’m not sure if he even has one. The fundamental difference between Law and I is that he believes managers are responsible for making Closers and situational players good, and I believe the players are.

He believes, I’m assuming because he’s crunched numbers down to a sliver of a fraction, that managerial decisions outweigh whether a player is good or not. By his standards ANY base stealer could’ve changed the tide of the 2004 World Series, not JUST Dave Roberts. I maintain only Roberts and maybe like two other guys could have pulled off that stolen base. Roberts’ individual knowledge of the game, his experience, his personal struggle and motivation led to that success, not a managerial decision based on a mathematical likelihood. The same goes for the role of a Closer. Law argues that sans Mariano no Closer should be inducted, and I can see the point of Mariano being the greatest of all time. He definitely made the biggest impact on the largest stage, but how would he be remembered if he was a Padre? Now imagine how good Hoffman had to be to play in San Diego and STILL be considered the second greatest Closer of all time. Again, Law says his greatness was determined by Bochy and Black, but I have a hard time believing Donne Wall would have shared the same fate as Hoffy given the same situations.

Law and I can argue back and forth and neither one of us are actually right or wrong because we are both fans who lack the fundamental understanding of what it takes to be a player and to be a player facing Hoffman, or trying to throw out Roberts, or pitch to Edgar Martinez.

Secondly, look at how the BBWAA treats players like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. Now, it’s widely believed that both Clemens and Bonds started taking steroids later in their careers: When Clemens went to Toronto in 1997 and Bonds in 1999 six years after joining the Giants. It is also widely known that these guys were actually taking steroids. Of course when the truth came out executives and writers and managers wanted to play the dumb card, but they all knew. They ignored it and the BBWAA voted Barry Bonds the MVP from 2001-2004. They gave Clemens the Cy Young in four of his juiced years. They willfully and gleefully celebrated two players in advanced years doing things no human had done before. For all their brilliant opinions and number crunching they couldn’t see the forest for the trees or just chose to ignore the lumberjacks.

Now, in their sixth year of eligibility, Bonds and Clemens sit on the ballot ignored and passed over, paying for a crime the very writers who ignore them help to perpetuate.

It’s childish, stupid, hypocritical and moronic.

Players knew what was going on. They knew how it affected the game, the players, and teams. They and they alone should yield the power to choose how it is remembered. Maybe every veteran agrees that Dave Roberts belongs in the Hall because of that one stolen base. It certainly meant a whole hell of a lot to modern day baseball. Maybe the players want to vote in Edgar, because for all your advanced stats you still can’t quantify what his plate presence meant to the runner on second base, or the shift it caused the outfield to take, or the fear it struck in the pitcher who unintentionally walked him loading the bases and now creating an RBI opportunity for A-Rod, or Griffey, or whoever. You can present cases that help you understand these things, but you never will. Neither will I.

We like to guess, and fight, and debate, but what the hell do we know? Who watched Barry Larkin play in more games – Peter Gammons or my Dad who watched every Cincinnati Reds game from 1985-1997? Who would have a better opinion on what Barry Larkin meant to the game? I would bet my Dad, but it doesn’t matter because my Dad’s opinion would be biased based on his loyalty and love for the Reds. Gammons would be biased based on his assessment of the Reds organization from an outside perspective that probably doesn’t place a premium on a semi-relevant Midwest team that hasn’t won anything in quite a while.

That’s why only the guys who played with or coached Larkin knew how good or bad he was based on talent.

We’ve let these writers yield so much power that they think they’re above the game. They think they’ve solved it. They haven’t. No one really has. Ted Williams was close, but that was about it.

I realize that Eras Committees have always been established and can help right the wrongs of the BBWAA, but there shouldn’t be wrongs. There shouldn’t be mistakes. It shouldn’t have taken the Modern Era Committee to get Jack Morris and Alan Trammell in the Hall of Fame. They were both great players who deserved it long ago. Trammell’s numbers were never considered Hall of Fame worthy, but the man played incredible defense, with an above average bat for twenty years on one team. And Jack Morris who had what they call “fringe” Hall of Fame numbers, should have been inducted years ago but during his career he hurt writers feelings by being a bit gruff once or twice.

I realize the argument would be that letting the players decide could result in too many fringe players or role players who didn’t have the same career as a Gwynn or an Aaron in the Hall – but what does it matter? It’s not for us. It’s for the players. If they want to elect Mike Mussina or Larry Walker or Billy Wagner or Donne Wall then they should and no one should care.

Only the players and managers know who was truly worthy, and we should leave up to them.

[Editor’s Note: Keith Law has blocked us on Twitter for questioning his judgement.]

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc

SUPPORT THE KEPT FAITH!

It’s here.

It’s time.

The Patreon is live and available at all times, HOWEVER we gotta Black Friday special:

From 8:00am PST until 8:00pm PST TODAY ONLY, if you become a patron at the $5 a month level you’ll get a limited edition FREE Kept Faith t-shirt!

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This Patreon is set up to support us in creating new podcasts, posts, add contributors, equipment and merch! You’re support will take us to the next level in 2018, and that level is where we want to be. (One year ahead of the Padres)

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Now listen, if you do join up as a patron there will be a slight hazing process. It’s not easy, but you’ll learn a lot.

Join our team. Take your lumps.

In all seriousness, thank you for your support, now go sign up!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT(S)! – TKF Pod

It’s time to take The Kept Faith to the next level, and we need your support…

Since 2007 Nick and I have been writing about San Diego sports. Back then the void for an opinion that wasn’t radio or the U-T was unfathomably large. Our writing was pretty bad, and all over the place, and we were on blogspot. In 2010, Producer Travis joined the fold as we began the TKF Podcast. Many incarnations, contributors, and think-pieces on Jake Peavy later we’re ready to make a few announcements! (Listen to the announcement pod here.)

WE’RE STARTING A PATREON!

We’re launching it on Black Friday  – THIS FRIDAY! And, if you become a Patron of our Patreon this Friday – ON BLACK FRIDAY  – for $5 a month, you will receive a free limited edition Kept Faith t-shirt! That’s right, become a Patron and get a free t-shirt! We will be fully explaining what it means to be a Patron of TKF, and the benefits included later this week, but this is huge (or UGE because our President, remember? He says “huge” funny. HAHAHA what a good joke we’re all gonna die.)

If you become a Patron of TKF your contributions will allow us the flexibility and bandwidth to support new podcasts, merch, multiple weekly posts from all over the spectrum – sabermetrics (not Dallas) to ridiculous pieces about the way Jankowski wears his hair. We’ll also be able to produce more live shows and events, speaking of…

THE KEPT FAITH WINTER MEETINGS AND SAN DIEGO SPORTS TRIVIA CHAMPIONSHIP!

January 10th at The Whistle Stop in South Park, we’ll be holding our second live podcast recording. The guests will be announced in December, and details including trading bazaar and more will also be announced soon. But, this detail is being announced now –

THE FIRST EVER SAN DIEGO SPORTS TRIVIA CHAMPIONSHIP!

Directly following the live recording of the live podcast, the Whistle Stop will turn into Trivia Central! Any fan of San Diego sports is welcome to form a team and play, or just play by themselves – however, we are calling out all the podcasts and blogs to form teams and compete! East Village Times, Pads Pod, MTPGA, Padres & Pints, The 5.5 Podcast, Gwynntelligence, Padres Public, Madfriars, Gaslamp Ball, all of them. Even Brady Phelps. Everybody. Get your team together and represent. Winner gets a round of drinks and…

…the first ever San Diego Sports Trivia Championship Trophy!

So, that’s it – that’s the announcements. Yay! Become a Patron of The Kept Faith, and come show off your SD sports knowledge Jan. 10th!

FULL ANNOUNCEMENT POD HERE.

 

A-Gone

A couple of days ago it was reported that Adrian Gonzalez would not be joining his beloved Dodgers during the World Series. Dodgers’ fans were left confused, a little concerned, and some hurt. For Padres fans the reaction was less worry and more joyous. It felt like maybe Adrian was a true Padre after all, and used one of his last Baseball moves to insult our hated rival.

We know that’s not true, but we don’t know for sure that it’s not true.

It’s not.

Regardless, the emotional reason Adrian decided to skip his first World Series seemed to be a mystery, even down to where he’s going. First the LA Times said he’d be traveling to Europe with his family, then Adrian tweeted a picture of himself joining the local Dodger broadcast team on the first night of the Series.

Adrian has since returned to the Dodgers and was on the field with them during batting practice for Game Two. This fact is actually what some writers are blaming LA’s dramatic loss on last night. And, it’s been confirmed the reason for his trip to Italy was to help move his family there for five months while his wife takes a shoe designing class – oh, that LA life.

For a player who is known throughout both leagues as a standup guy and a clubhouse leader, this seems to be an odd choice for a final curtain call.

Back in 2011 when the Padres let Adrian go most fans weren’t surprised. We figured it would happen at some point. All our relationships fail, and all good people leave us. However, with Adrian it almost felt like if Tony had left. A-Gonz was a kid from Eastlake, his career blossomed with the Padres, he became a star with the Padres, and he was the best player on some fairly relevant San Diego squads. His swing was a thing of beauty. He was our guy.

Then he left. To the Red Sox. The fact that in his first year with the Sox he hit .338 with 117 RBI, a league leading 213 hits, and an OPS of .957 didn’t make anything easier to swallow.

In return for Adrian the Pads got Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo, plus two other guys. At the time this was a great haul: a top pitching prospect in Kelly, and an elite-hitting prospect in Rizzo. Unfortunately both never came to fruition for the Friars as Kelly only appeared in seven games before needing Tommy John surgery and eventually being traded to the Braves in 2015, and Rizzo…well…shit.

Rizzo was called up in 2011, and everyone viewed him as the savior. He was the great hope to replace the production we lost when Adrian went AL. Rizzo would bring us into the new decade a winner. After only 49 games the Padres traded the scuffling power bat to the Cubs for Kyung-Min Na and fucking Andrew Cashner. For whatever reason we weren’t patient with Rizzo, and while he went off to become a superstar, we watched Cashner do his best to be interesting, and Na…well…shit.

After only one strange year in Boston, where Adrian told the Boston media that they didn’t make the playoffs because God didn’t want them to, he was traded to the Dodgers in one of the craziest and largest trades in modern day Baseball history. Along with Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, and Carl Crawford, A-Gonz hit Chavez Ravine with a ton of expectations and the pure elation of playing for his favorite team since he was a little kid.

This didn’t make Padres fans any happier. In fact it only made it worse.

While we watched Yonder Alonso hit meaningless doubles, Adrian became one of the most popular players on one of the most popular teams in Baseball. He started appearing in huge playoff games and that sweet swing of his was now featured everywhere. Our little boy was all growns up.

Over the next four seasons his stats slowly declined, but his position in the Dodgers clubhouse increased. He had fun, enjoyed himself, seem to enjoy his teammates, and his smile could be seen from Santa Monica to Diamond Bar. He belonged to Los Angeles now, and everyone south of the 76 knew it. Adrian’s Friar days were long gone and he just became another Dodger to hate; it was like watching Christian Bale’s character in Swing Kids.

Now, after having a terrible 2017 season in which he only appeared in 71 games, and lost his starting job to rookie phenom Cody Bellinger, Adrian took off.

The ultimate clubhouse guy ditched the clubhouse and by all accounts will call it a career before 2018, that is if the Padres don’t inquire about him for one last trip around the diamond.

We know they won’t, but we don’t know for sure that they won’t.

They won’t.

And, I don’t want them to. I can remember season after season I quietly wished Adrian would find his way back home. That we could once again watch him hit one into the gap, and slowly stride into second. As his career with the blue up north continued I could see that he clearly didn’t think about San Diego the way we thought about him. He embraced LA, lives in LA, raises his family in LA, and will more than likely stay in LA no matter where he plays.

That’s why this little disappearing act didn’t make me happy that he shafted the Dodgers, and it didn’t make me sad that it looked like he would miss his only World Series appearance. It just made me feel weird. I felt nothing. It was like watching Kyle Chandler in Bloodline: “Hey! It’s Coach Taylor! I love Coach Taylor! Oh, wait that’s not Coach Taylor; he’s that guy now. This show is fine. I’ll watch the first season. He’s a good actor. Criminally underrated on Friday Night Lights. I miss Coach Taylor.”

Adrian moved on from us and never looked back. Don’t expect him to pull an LT and come back trying to earn a cheap paycheck helping the Padres build a new stadium. He’s not a part of this place anymore. He’s not a part of any place anymore. He’s moved on from Baseball.

He’s gone.

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc

The Chargers and the Curious Case of Caring Too Much

I’ve realized something recently that I continue to let plague me over and over again: I think too much about the Chargers and about how others feel about the Chargers. A few weeks ago I went into a tirade on the podcast about the media in San Diego continuing to cover the team, and locals getting roped in to caring. The rant mainly called out John Gennaro, who I consider a friend. We then invited him on the pod to “debate” me about his stance and mine. It almost solved something, but then I got angry at Padres Jagoff’s assessment of the “debate”. Then last night I got angry at Gennaro’s stance on twitter that if you didn’t attend the Chargers home opener in Carson then you’re not allowed to comment on the lack of Chargers fans in the stands. His argument that a lack of Chargers fans is nothing new to Chargers home games also got me agitated.

Why?

I like Jagoff and I like Gennaro. They’re both intelligent, well-informed fans of sport. They know they’re stuff, and in Gennaro’s case he’s paid to stay that way. Yet, I found myself getting angry. I found myself getting pissed at Woods for liking a tweet from the LA Chargers. Why? Why did I care, and why does it still bother me?

When I was three years old my family moved to San Diego, and I lived in Clairemont until my early twenties. I then moved to University Heights, then College Area, and eventually landed in Oceanside with my wife as she grew up in North County. Last October we moved to Temecula for what the city offered us: space, affordable housing, and an impeccable school district.

To say I grew up loving the Chargers is an understatement. It was a religion in my household. My mom pulled out her Seau jersey every week, and we had cookouts, and pot lucks, and went to watch parties, and some times would just go tailgate without ever heading in to the stadium. I cried, literally, during the 1994 Super Bowl. I danced with joy when the team passed on Vick and pulled off an amazing move to get Brees, LT and Tim Dwight. I wrote one of the longest most ridiculous pieces of my life when the team decided to let Brees go.

I even found a way to legitimately root for Cleo Lemon.

I loved the Chargers. They were always a part of my life.

I always ignored the stadium drama, and as I got older I started to get very complacent about a new stadium for a team that didn’t really win much. I thought former Mayor Jerry Sanders always handled the issue correctly – basically saying we had more important things to worry about as a city. He was right then, and that mentality is still accurate (see: Hep A).

When we re-launched the podcast a few years ago a new Chargers stadium was all the rage. We talked about it, and for the most part never imagined the team would ever leave San Diego. Then, we had an anonymous source tell us before the start of the 2015 season that the team would be leaving no matter what happened. Slowly, the few friends I still had in media started to confirm that assessment. They all knew, but pretended to act like they didn’t. This was for ratings, and I do not blame any of them, as I hate seeing friends in radio lose jobs and forced to spin Staind records at some low level nothing of a station in Lancaster.

However, when I learned they would definitely be leaving it was the straw that broke my huge alcoholic back. I had long been confused on how to feel about the NFL. The players seemed to get more and more stupid. Ex-players were literally becoming brain dead, owners were more greedy than ever, and off the field conduct made me feel like I was rooting for the villains in every 1990’s teen movie.

The only other team I had connection to was my Dad’s favorite team – the Bengals. He lived in Ohio, and that’s where I was born, so I adopted the team and let go of the Bolts. It was more that I let go of Spanos, and would cheer for the Chargers if they were on the TV and I happened to be watching.

Then they moved. Spanos decided he could do better in LA. He left fifty years of history, generations of fans, and one of the most beautiful markets in the country to be fifth fiddle in a town that had no desire to have him. He was the Travis Jankowski of NFL owners.

I was pissed. Infuriated. I knew he was going to leave for almost two years, and I still cared. I still couldn’t believe it or understand it and I felt awful for die-hard fans that had tattoos or spent thousands on tickets or got duped into thinking Spanos ever cared about San Diego or San Diegans.

Spanos was and is an asshole. He made an asshole move. The national sports media took notice, and agreed he was an asshole. Other sports noticed and agreed he was an asshole. Well, now the asshole is getting a little comeuppance and it’s more beautiful than the view from the cliffs in Encinitas.

However, I got too involved. I hated them too much. The fury with which I cheered turned into the ire with which I denounced. And, I expected others to feel the same as I did. I was wrong.

Being a fan is different for everyone. You didn’t grow up in my house, with my family. Likewise, I didn’t spend Sundays with you and yours. We had separate experiences that culminated during a shared event. I shouldn’t expect you to hate or to denounce or to even have an issue with the Chargers or Spanos.

Gennaro can have his takes, Jagoff can have his takes, and Woods can show support for a colleague. If I disagree with that what does it matter?

Right now we are living through a weird time. No one likes anyone and everyone is smarter than everyone else. When the truth is we’re all morons who wouldn’t dare say half the shit we say online to each other’s faces. Down deep we just want to ingest entertainment in the form of sport, and give ourselves some respite from the shit storm we see on a daily basis. But, what happens when that world of sports also becomes a storm of shit?

We argue with each other about who is allowed to say what about a franchise that abandoned fans without hesitation. We dictate what emotions you’re allowed to feel about an owner who hasn’t thought about you – ever.

We need to just enjoy it. Enjoy the lack of attendance. Enjoy the laughable miscues on and off the field. Enjoy the banner that flew above calling out Spanos. Enjoy your fantasy football team. Enjoy MLB playoffs. Enjoy each other.

That starts with not being like the asshole that left us last year, and I for one am ready to wipe.

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc

In The Darkness Of San Diego Sports, Balance Was Needed

Last Sunday the people of Clairemont were treated to a spectacle usually only reserved for a galaxy far, far away. Mark Hamill, thee Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker rode in to town as the 5900 block of Castleton Drive was being renamed in honor of the one time resident.

It was quite the event, and dare I say anyone who was anyone in Clairemont was in attendance. I myself grew up off Genesee and Balboa, and like most of its residents we figured it was just an Urban Legend that Mark Hamill had lived there. Well, Urban Legend confirmed.

Hundreds of fans, locals, and San Diegans gathered at the closed off street as Star Wars music played over the PA system. Cosplayers were out in force, and members of the local media found it difficult to hide their inner-fanboy, wearing costumes and asking for a quick selfie when the chance arose.

District 6 councilmember Chris Cate was the ringleader of the event, but it wasn’t his initial idea. “It came 100% from the residents of Clairemont. We were fortunate enough to work with them to make it a reality.” When the declaration was made just a few weeks ago, Mark Hamill had no idea. Cate tweeted out the event, and Hamill actually responded in shock and gratitude. “Getting that first tweet reply from Mark Hamill, and the subsequent conversations were completely surreal. During it all he was gracious, and sincere in his love for Clairemont and San Diego.” Cate said.

 

I couldn’t agree more. Mark Hamill made sure he was there for the ceremony, and even brought most of his family with him, including his two rescue dogs Millie and Mabel. He entered the stage to thunderous applause, and when he took the mic was treated to shouts of “We love you!” and “Welcome home!” from the crowd. Hamill responded to every call-out with genuine appreciation.

“This means so much to me” Hamill said, “because this isn’t a Star Wars thing, it’s Mark Hamill Drive, it’s named after me, and that means the world.”

Hamill talked about growing up all over the country, as his dad was a Naval officer. “I spent the most time right here on this street, from eight years old to twelve. I used to put on puppet shows for neighbors, and ride my bike down to the library. I’ve always wanted a place I could call my hometown, and that’s what you’ve all given me today – a place to call home.” The crowd erupted. The media erupted. I erupted. His comments were sincere, kind, and we could all feel it.

Hamill then participated in a pre-determined Q&A, during which the host, KUSI’s Lisa Remillard, suggested he face the cameras. Hamill replied, “But my fans are all this way!” Pandemonium.

What followed was an extremely comical street sign unveiling in which they couldn’t get the curtain off the sign. A police officer got on stage, handed Hamill his nightstick so he could try and push the curtain off, then the officer was handed a lightsaber using that to displace the curtain. People were shouting at the officer to give the lightsaber to Hamill, but he never did and I’m almost positive the audience wouldn’t have been able to contain themselves if he had.

After the curtain finally dropped, Councilmember Cate presented Hamill with a framed proclamation hereby declaring July 30th, 2017 as Mark Hamill Day in the City of San Diego.

When Hamill left stage he immediately went to the fans and started taking photos, singing autographs and shaking hands. He spent a good thirty minutes interacting with fans and they loved every second of it, and it honestly looked like Hamill did as well. It was fun. It was honest. It meant something good to everyone involved. It was exactly what this city needed.

A running joke throughout the presentation on stage and off was that the city council finally agreed on something. When I asked Councilmember Cate if this was a step in the right direction for the council he replied, “The council can always work together if we remember it’s about the neighborhoods. This ceremony was about celebrating Clairemont and all the residents that care about making the neighborhood great.”

“I want this sign to stand as a beacon of hope” Hamill said, “To remind people that no matter where you come from or who you are, if you work hard, do your best at school, and never ever give up, that anything is possible.”

A true Jedi through and through.

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc

On Booing Weaver

Ah, yes. Let’s “boo” Jered Weaver. Let us force our opinion of him – on him. Let’s all join hands and be assholes – together. As one. Like, “the wave”, but instead of lifting our hands we purse our lips into an “o” shape and let out a noise that scared children in the 1950’s. We’ve done it! We’ve won the day! We made this pitcher feel terrible for not being good at his job. You know when I go to a Starbucks and my barista gets my order wrong, or puts too much milk in my cappuccino I let out a strong “boooo”. If I’m at the theater watching a Chris Pine film I’ll let out a quiet “boooo” if I’m not satisfied with what’s happening on screen. Sometimes I boo police officers for giving me tickets, or waiters for forgetting my water. The other day I booed a baby in a commercial for not being cute enough. This morning I booed the newspaper because I disagreed with its take on the weather. Yes, the best way to convey what we’re feeling and at the exact same time let someone know they are bad at what they do is to “booo”.

And, Weaver certainly deserves it! I mean it’s his fault he’s older. It’s his fault that the skills of players in Major League Baseball get worse at the tail end of the careers, giving birth to the term “tail end of their careers.” It’s his fault his velocity disappeared – he can do something about that whenever he wants! It’s his fault the Padres offered him a contract worth $3 million dollars, and he accepted it! He could have not accepted it. He could have said, “No! I am not a good pitcher anymore and I refuse this three million dollars. How dare you want to give me that much money?!” He could have done that, but HE DIDN’T! BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I would have respectfully declined the money. No one would ever booo me.

And, I think it’s good we’re booing the right person, you know? I mean, the entire problem begins and soon enough will end with Jered Weaver. I can’t even begin to think whom else we should boo. Not the ownership, they had nothing to do with this. They would never knowingly sign a player who has been getting worse and worse every single year at an almost record-breaking pace. That does not sound like a smart business move. AJ Preller had nothing to do with this either. He’s just the General Manager. He’s the guy in charge of putting together the roster, and since Weaver is on the DL he’s not technically “on the roster”, so it wouldn’t make any sense to boo Preller. The lawyers, the team officials, Weaver’s agent, Jeff Weaver, the song “Dream Weaver”, the accountants, the training staff, nope, nope, nope, nope. The only person in the wrong here is indeed Jered Weaver.

And, it’s mainly because he’s not even trying. I’ve seen him pitch, and I’m in the stands, and I’ve been writing about the Padres for over a decade now, so I know. I can tell he’s not trying. This is why I’ve been offered so many jobs within several MLB dugouts. I’m very astute about when a player is trying or not. I’ve always tried. Always. I’ve never had a boss yell at me for not giving it my all, and I’ve certainly never had a bad day at work! Ever. And, I certainly wouldn’t even think about having a bad day if I made THREE MILLION DOLLARS! It’s not like that’s below market value for a pitcher who had three of the best years of any pitcher in Baseball just a few seasons ago. And, it’s not like $3.87 millions dollars is the average salary for Major League Baseball players. We definitely shouldn’t boo the Player’s Association for shaping pricetags. On top of it all, it’s refreshing to see people on twitter and the blogs agree with me. If the majority of us think it, then it has to be true. Kennedy said that.

Nope. He’s not trying. Not even a little. Shame on him, and no one else involved for him being at this point in his career with very little he can do to right the ship other than take PEDs – and lord knows I’m waiting for that to happen, so I can boooooooooooooo him over and over again. I’m making my sign with an asterisk on it right now.

The best part about it all is that now he knows he’s been pitching poorly. We are providing a service.

Boo.

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc

Which NFL Team Do I Root For Now? We Help!

Since the Chargers left San Diego, and ultimately left all of their fans feeling abandoned and lonely it only seems appropriate for you to leave the Chargers. But, which NFL team deserves you’re undying loyalty and fandom? Why should you root for that new team? Why should you avoid that new team at all costs? Well, you’re in luck cause I’ve done the research for you! Below I’ve presented all thirty-one teams as possible suitors for you – the fan! Pros, cons, and more! I started with the most recent Super Bowl teams, and then through the AFC and NFC. Enjoy!

(HOF = hall of fame)

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:

Super Bowl wins: 5

Players in HOF: 7

The New England Patriots is the Walking Dead of NFL teams. Everyone loved them in the beginning of the Brady/Belichick era. Scrappy, young, talented team full of key players and no real superstars. Then they kept winning. They kept hanging around. You still really enjoy watching them play and marvel at how the nobodies became Hall of Famers, but now it’s just getting repetitive. If you weren’t in from the beginning it’s too late to catch up, and if you were in – you’re over it. Still a great franchise, probably the best in the league, and if you jump on the wagon, you’re in for a smooth ride for at least a few more years.

PROS: Championships and Giselle’s terrible air-fives.

CONS: #MAGA

ATLANTA FALCONS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 7

The Falcons seem to be everyone’s favorite team right now. In fact people I had no clue were Falcons fans came out of the dark this season, and started once again rooting for the South’s most beloved gridiron gods. To be fair, I don’t blame any Falcons fan for hiding their loyalty after the Michael Vick debacle of murdering dogs for sport. But, it seems the Falcons are back and might be for a few years to come. Perfect time to jump on board, unless you watched the Super Bowl and realized Matty Ice might be the new Jim Kelly.

PROS: One of the best owners in sports, get to watch Julio Jones.

CONS: Putting up with people calling it “Hotlanta”.

DENVER BRONCOS:

Super Bowl wins: 3

Players in HOF: 7

Rooting for Denver will probably feel strange for most ex-Chargers fans, but out of the old division rivals they’re kind of the easiest to align with. They’re a properly run organization, a lot of history and success, and they won a playoff game with Tim Tebow. God is on their side. You’re kind of in the same boat as you were before with a franchise in flux, but you get in on the ground floor before they become a powerhouse again – which they will.

PROS: You can finally admit you always liked John Elway, great excuse to wear orange.

CONS: Always feeling a little dead inside.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS:

Super Bowl wins: 1

Players in HOF: 11

Kansas City might be a little harder than Denver to switch over to only because their fans are kind of assholes. I don’t know why either. It’s not like they’ve ever been some sought after franchise, or legendary powerhouse. Sure, they’ve been around forever, but currently the best thing going for them is that the Jaguars, Cardinals, and Titans exist. However, from time to time they do put together a winner and play in a beautiful stadium. Being a Chiefs fan isn’t the worst thing to be, and that’s the best thing you can say about them.

PROS: Rooting for a franchise that Joe Montana once played for.

CONS: Watching Andy Reid and Alex Smith talk about plays.

OAKLAND RAIDERS:

Super Bowl wins: 3

Players in HOF: 16

Out of all the AFC West rivals Oakland might be the hardest to get used to. Their fans are insufferable, you may die at any game the team plays in, Al Davis ruined West Coast football, and you’ve spent most of your life using the F-word when it comes to watching the Raiders on TV. However, they have a ton of franchise success, Dean Spanos took over Al Davis’ crown as “most hated owner in California football”, John Madden was their most successful coach and the silver and black is a kick-ass color combo. Plus, they have one of the better 30 for 30’s in the entire series. PLUS, they may soon be the San Diego Raiders – so problem solved! At first glance you’re gonna hate this idea, but think about it – what better way to tell Dean to f-off? Lastly, they’re a young and talented team, and have a great coach that loves the Raiders. Great time to buy a Carr jersey.

PROS: You get to wear spikes.

CONS: Murder.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 0

I mean, sure. Why not?

PROS: You can literally be on the ground floor of a fanbase that’s been around for way too long to still have a ground floor.

CONS: Everything else.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS:

Super Bowl wins: 2

Players in HOF: 12

Having just gone through a sports break up, you might want to steer clear of the Colts. Sure, Indianapolis didn’t steal the Colts from Baltimore, but you’re basically going from one terrible owner to another and for little to no upside. They have some history of success, and some of the greatest players who’ve ever played once donned a Colts jersey, but with no clear road to success ahead you might have a hard time convincing yourself to root for Frank Gore. However, they are one of the teams who trolled the Chargers on their LA logo, and that has to count for something.

PROS: Andrew Luck?

CONS: Drunk Irsay.

TENNESSEE TITANS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 8 (as Oilers)

When I think of the Titans, I think of that one scene in Castaway, and it might be one of the saddest scenes in modern cinema. This is a great metaphor for the Titans franchise. Again you’re dealing with a transplant team, and that may not be something you’re okay with.

PROS: Their helmet has a blue flame on it. That’s funny.

CONS: The worst logo in professional sports – and yes, I’m counting the Marlins.

HOUSTON TEXANS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 0

This could be a good landing spot for Chargers fans. Sure, they have no quarterback, and I’m afraid their coach might die of an aneurysm at any moment, but they are young, have JJ Watt, and might be good for a few more years. They aren’t the flashiest team, and I literally stopped twice to look at YouTube chemtrail videos while trying to write about them, but I mean…sure.

PROS: Young defense, plenty of potential.

CONS: Chemtrails are real.

CLEVELAND BROWNS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 13

My best friend has been a lifelong Browns fan, and I respect that. I really do. And, let’s be honest if you’re Chargers fan you may like being tortured, so the Browns might be perfect for you! I’ve never seen a worse run franchise, except for the Chargers. I’ve never seen less enthusiasm for a team, except for the Chargers. And, I’ve never heard more groans when talking about a team, except for when I talk about the Chargers! Feels like home!

PROS: I don’t care what you say, the Browns unis are sweet.

CONS: Pick one. You could even make something up.

CINCINATTI BENGALS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 3

Full disclosure I’m a Bengals fan. I grew up a Bengals and Chargers fan. Back in 2015 when Dean tried to move the Chargers I officially denounced all love for the Bolts and became a full-time Bengals devotee. It’s been a rough ride, and I’m never quite sure when a Bengal will kill an opposing player on the field, but I take comfort in being mentally prepared for it.

PROS: Andy Dalton.

CONS: Andy Dalton.

BALTIMORE RAVENS:

Super Bowl wins: 2

Players in HOF: 1

I really want to like the Ravens. I really do. Perhaps it’s all the murdering that Ray Lewis did, or the purple color scheme, or the whole Ray Rice punching women thing. I mean, it just feels wrong to root for them. However, Joe Flacco seems nice.

PROS: You get the one Harbaugh that’s tolerable.

CONS: You remember when Ray Lewis got away with murder, and then became an analyst and started telling current NFL players to get their act together and stop being stupid off the field?

PITTSBURGH STEELERS:

Super Bowl wins: 6

Players in HOF: 20

There’s a lot to love if you’re a Steelers fan. Historically one of the best franchises in professional sports history with the most championships in NFL history. Great running back, great wide receivers, Tomlin is fun to watch, and they always seem to be in the conversation. As Chargers fans we don’t know what that feels like – so now might be a great time to experience it. Plus, no one would ever call you a bandwagoner for all of a sudden liking Pittsburgh! That’s how consistently good they’ve always been! No one really hates Steelers fans, because Pittsburgh is basically one long Springsteen song, and they have the best looking throwbacks in all the NFL! Go for it. Say you love Mean Joe Green – because you do – I already believe you!

PROS: What’s not to like? (I mean of course there’s the whole Big Ben thing…)

CONS: The whole Big Ben thing…

NEW YORK JETS:

Super Bowl wins: 1

Players in HOF: 5

The Jets…they could be like…you know, if you put together all the times…J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! So…I mean…you’d get to yell that a lot?

PROS: You tell me.

CONS: 2009 and 2010 playoffs. Still hurts.

MIAMI DOLPHINS:

Super Bowl wins: 2

Players in HOF: 10

Is it weird that the Dolphins started their NFL lives as one of the most successful teams in the league? Remember that they’re the only undefeated team in NFL history? Like, despite the last 20 years the Dolphins have been a powerhouse in this league. Weird, right? But, hey! This might be a good place for you to land as a fan. You could pretend to have always known how great the Dolphins were in the 60’s and 70’s, and people would probably be fascinated. Don Schula used to ride through practices on a scooter! This is your team. Miami is like San Diego in a weird way, the color scheme isn’t terrible, and the franchises always seem to be just as relevant. Do it.

PROS: Don Schula rode a God damn scooter in practices!

CONS: Hurricanes. Real ones.

BUFFALO BILLS:

Super Bowl wins:

Players in HOF: 10

This might be another logical place for Chargers fans to land. Cool uniforms, diehard fans, no one will call you a bandwagoner for switching to the Bills because the Bills wagon broke down years ago! You get a great 30 for 30, and you can become a fan now when the team is years away from competing, so when they do win it all you’ll felt like you earned it.

PROS: Vincent Gallo’s unbelievably awkward film Buffalo ’66.

CONS: Any other Vincent Gallo film.

DALLAS COWBOYS:

Super Bowl wins: 5

Players in HOF: 16

If the Patriots had a predecessor it would be the Dallas Cowboys. “America’s Team” hasn’t really felt like that for quite some time. In fact, they got so popular almost everyone, even Troy Aikman, decided to hate them from about 1998 to 2015. However, with rookies like Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliot the Cowboys are starting to resemble the team my generation grew up idealizing. Sure Jerry Jones is a blowhard, and Jason Garrett looks like he’s always going to cry, but they’re young, they play like a team, and they’ve finally shed themselves of the Jessica Simpson curse. No one would blame you for adopting this squad, but tread softly, you might want to wait until after they fire Garrett then hire Jim Harbaugh then fire him, then hire Norv Turner.

PROS: Classic unis, get to claim Emmitt Smith, and already went through Ryan Leaf.

CONS: Garrett’s two-minute drills, whatever they get back for Romo, have to claim Greg Hardy.

NEW YORK GIANTS:

Super Bowl wins: 4

Players in HOF: 18

Eli. Pass.

PROS: Only team to stick it to the Patriots, Little Giants, ODB’s ridiculous catches.

CONS: Eli. Eli. Eli.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS:

Super Bowl wins: 3

Players in HOF: 17

If an ownership group ever felt like the Spanos’ it would be the Snyders. Like, just completely out of touch, consistently in over their heads, somehow losing money with the biggest sport in America, and can never seem to get out of their own way. Perhaps you need this in your life. Perhaps you’re like Brooks in Shawshank and you like being institutionalized. You need the hardships and the sadness. It’s become so much a part of you, that if you don’t have it you will die. If that’s the case – Brooks was here.

PROS: Um…give me a second…

CONS: The last thirty years.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 9

You remember that Mark Wahlberg movie where he’s a bartender in Philly and they have open tryouts and he goes and gets signed and he plays for the Eagles and it’s based on a true story? Yea.

PROS: Cool throwbacks, they have great fans; Greg Kinnear was also in the movie with Mark Wahlberg.

CONS: They may never win a Super Bowl. Ever.

GREEN BAY PACKERS:

Super Bowl wins: 4

Players in HOF: 23

This franchise is a lot like the Steelers, in the sense that everyone kinda likes them, and that’s okay. They might have the best colors in the NFL, they have arguably the greatest quarterback of the last decade, and they always seem relevant. Plus, the city owns the team! I mean, how cool is that? No one would ever get mad at you for being a Packer fan, except Lions, Bears and Vikings fans, but other than that probably no one. You get to do Lambeau Leaps into your pool, and you get all the joys of Green Bay football without having to ever step foot in Green Bay! Win-win!

PROS: Discount double checks.

CONS: That feeling that deep down inside this isn’t who you want to be.

DETROIT LIONS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 15

I would argue the Detroit Lions are the most tortured franchise in NFL history. Has any team meant more to a league and done less with it? I mean one of the best players to ever play the game retired early because he didn’t want to play for the team anymore. Plus, rooting for the Lions sounds weird. Like, does anyone really root for the Lions or do they just hope that they don’t lose so much? Perfect example – my Uncle John grew up loving the Lions. To this day never wears anything but Lions gear. I’ve never heard him say one word about the Lions. Ever. In this case you’ve already been rooting for the Lions. You always have been. No reason to stop, or continue.

PROS: Great history, legendary players, Motown.

CONS: A lot of losing. Just so much losing.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 13

Liking the Minnesota Vikings is like being a big fan of the old TV show ‘Coach’. Not just because they both take place in Minnesota, and purple is part of both of their color schemes, but because they’re both easy to like and for no good reason. If you’re a Vikings fan, you probably live in or are from Minnesota. You probably drink a lot, and you’ve probably never had to think about it much. I’m not insulting their fans, or maybe I am, but I am saying that your team is comparable to a second-rate sitcom that was intended for people over 40. But, hey you got Sam Bradford!

PROS: Getting to claim Adrian Peterson, using Viking lore as analogies for your games, nothing but upside.

CONS: Sam Bradford, knowing down deep that you’ll never win a Super Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS:

Super Bowl wins: 1

Players in HOF: 25

There’s something about being a Bears fan that feels right. They have this legendary history of being a hardnosed, back-breaking defensive powerhouse. Only problem is they haven’t been relevant for a long time and rooting for the Bears feels about as 80’s as Ronald Reagan drinking Clear Pepsi while singing “Like a Virgin”. But hey, every four seasons or so the Bears look like they have a shot. And, you could do worse in picking a team to root for forever (SEE: Vikings).

PROS: The Super Bowl Shuffle, getting to claim the Fridge, The SNL “Super Fans” sketch.

CONS: Matt Barkley is your current quarterback.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS:

Super Bowl wins: 1

Players in HOF: 4

Talk about amazing throwback uniforms, the Bucs might have the best of all time. That weird orange, white, and yellow combo makes for an ugly yet extremely appealing jersey. Tampa Bay has never had a ton of success as a franchise, but it’s been a long time since they’ve been considered a laughing-stock as well. They always seem to be one or two players away from putting it all together and as an ex-Chargers fan that might be as appealing to you as orange and yellow. Winston is an emerging QB, Doug Martin might be good…again, and they always seem to be in every game. Could be a nice time to be a Bucs fan.

PROS: The pirate ship that fires a canon every time they score.

CONS: You’re forced to take a position on Warren Sapp.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS:

Super Bowl wins: 1

Players in HOF: 4

This is a tough one for me. I’ve always enjoyed the Saints. I like the colors, the city, and I was a massive Drew Brees fan. However, I can’t find a reason to root for them. But, hey that’s just me. You dig beads and baby cakes and jazz and JFK conspiracy theories? Then Nola might be for you. They’re a pretty well run franchise with moderate success, and always seem to have one or two guys you really want to root for. With the emergence of the Falcons it might be a long time till they’re winners again, but you never know with the South.

PROS: Get to have Drew Brees back in your life, get to wear a fleur de lis and not get beat up.

CONS: Sean Payton, never having a good Running Back.

CAROLINA PANTHERS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 0

I feel like the Panthers are the Oklahoma City Thunder or Drake or Solange of the NFL. There is so much potential, and you continually see flashes of greatness, but will that greatness last an entire season, and the fact that they did have one good season you’re afraid that that greatness will never happen again. The issue here is that no one knows, and neither will you as a fan. Of all the teams in the league this one could give you the highest of highs and the lowest of lows every other week. For the rest of your life. If you decide to go down this road use extreme caution and buy lots of Tylenol.

PROS: Cam Newton is extremely fun to watch, Ron Rivera is a bad ass, a feeling that you’re hip.

CONS: The color scheme is terrible, Jake Delhomme works security, and Cam Newton might die on every play.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS:

Super Bowl wins: 1

Players in HOF: 4

Fuck Pete Carroll. Richard Sherman is an asshole. Russell Wilson is so overrated you might as well call him Colin Kaepernick.

PROS: None.

CONS: All.

ARIZONA CARDINALS:

Super Bowl wins: 0

Players in HOF: 13

This is an interesting one. Although I have so much disdain for Bruce Arians it makes me never want to support the NFL, I actually enjoy the Cardinals. A team that can turn old quarterbacks good again and always has one or two receivers that are just plain awesome. They’ve been good long enough for you to think that it might stick, and they play in a stadium that you could drive to. As a Chargers fan I’d put this team in your top five.

PROS: Cool unis, you get to say “Football Cardinals”, can buy a Rod Tidwell jersey and mean it.

CONS: Bruce Arians, and the overwhelming confusion that comes with Cuba Gooding, Jr’s career.

LOS ANGELES RAMS:

Super Bowl wins: 1

Players in HOF: 18

You could root for the Rams out of spite. Like an anti-Chargers move, but ultimately any money you give them will somehow benefit the Spanos family. Also, Stan Kroenke is an asshole who just screwed over a great sports city because he wanted more money. Sound familiar? A little too much. I’d say pass on the Rams and let Spanos and Kroenke fight it out for most irrelevant franchise in LA.

PROS: I sincerely can’t think of one.

CONS: Jared Goff.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers:

Super Bowl wins: 5

Players in HOF: 15

The last team on our list might actually be the best option for Chargers fans looking for a new team to love. You’re first reaction would be to hate them for the 1994 Super Bowl, which is considered by many to be one of the most lopsided victories in the history of the Super Bowl, but that would be silly. The 49ers were the best team in the league that year, and the Chargers lucked into that game by a yard. Plus, that was a long time ago. San Francisco is a different beast now. They’ve had plenty of down years, went through Harbaugh and then Chip Kelly. They had the whole National Anthem fiasco. I mean, this team has been through some shit. The best part for Chargers fans is that there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the 49ers, so they feel like an underdog. In fact saying you’re a 49ers fan these days sounds more like a joke than anything else. Perfect time to claim a team with amazing history, tons of success, but it all being so far in the past that no one cares anymore! It’s a win-win!

PROS: Getting to claim Montana, Steve Young, and Jerry Rice. Great color scheme and logo, playing in a division you might win every year no matter how good you are.

CONS: Other than not being any good for a couple of seasons I can’t think of one!

So, there you have it. All thirty-one NFL teams proposed as possible destinations for your fandom. Never forget that you’re in this situation because the NFL itself let you be, and that the league is built and fueled by greed and wealth with very little concern for the fan. If you’re okay with that then choose wisely, because you never know when the team you choose will one morning change their twitter handle, make a shitty logo, and leave you in the rear view mirror.

HAPPY PICKING!

Football’s Growing Problem is Football

Somewhere in the deep bravado of jock culture sits this need to be all that is “man”. The finest example of strength, dedication, and courage. If these terms and examples sound familiar, it’s because they were first used hundreds of years ago to highlight the efforts and success of our armed forces. The soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice were the ones bestowed with monikers and adjectives befitting the trials they would one day experience. As patriotic conflict became more foreign, and sport monetized and worshipped slowly but surely the terms “battle” and “war” found their way into the mouths of coaches hoping to inspire their players. Followed by “courage” and “sacrifice” and eventually even “soldier” were thrown about to motivate a win in whatever game it is they might be playing. It’s an irresponsible oversight, one that now seems so present it has all but replaced its original designation. Football is the prime example of this. The ultimate blunt force clash of oversized men designed to make themselves millionaires, and make millionaires billionaires. The new ultimate sacrifice.

Football is a game of self-proclaimed gladiators, and deals in a business of overhyped, overproduced, and overanalyzed drama that only exists in the mind of the delusional and the chicken wing-filled stomachs of fanatical club supporters. It’s the crème de la crème of accepted violence and exceptional athleticism, and if you don’t agree you are weak.

Football has a real problem, and that problem is it once again being exposed as a place for men (and only men) to be violent, and we must accept and celebrate this so sayeth those who reap the benefits. As a nation we choose every single season the game is played, whether we’d like to support this. Whether the unabashed violence, the highlight reel tackles, or the possible career-ending penalties are okay with us. We make the decision that the “controlled” chaos, the modern day coliseum games are acceptable. For decades, we’ve made it clearer than a Coors Light Silver Bullet Train that all of this is in fact acceptable if we don’t have to think about it too much, and that we are just fine with it…until we aren’t. It’s that five minutes of progressive humanity that makes me ponder – will there be professional football in twenty years? What happens when someone dies on the field? Why are football notables like Bruce Arians telling mother’s they’re ignorant for not wanting their children to play a game in which large men run into other large men with alarming force?

All three questions hinge on each other’s answer. And, all three questions prove that the NFL is working as hard as they can to set aside the glaring issues with a sport that was never intended to be anything other than a beer-drinker’s legal version of fight club with uniforms. Football has always been violent, it needed to be violent. It was played by either college kids who exuded so much testosterone they could kill an adult deer with their bare hands, or it was played by adult men who had nothing better to do and wanted to see if they could legally kill a person who was holding a ball. It’s no secret that Teddy Roosevelt, a human male bred from lions and reared on the open plains of the Wild West, wanted to ban football solely due to the amount of death and injuries the game had caused. Football imposed strict regulations, and the sport lived on, however many continue to ask if it should have and if the ghosts of the past failed to shed their ghoulish light on the future that might be.

The uncontrolled violence became somewhat controlled, better helmets and pads were introduced to soften impact, and players became more athletic to better prepare they’re bodies for the rigorous stress they’d be experiencing at an almost nonstop pace. Men become more men. They lock themselves in rooms, and grunt and sweat, and push their bodies to the limits so they can be the best at what they do. We expect them to be in shape, to be better than in shape, to be the best, the strongest, no matter what it takes, no matter the mental and physical toll, they must be prepared for “war” for “battle”. These men shrouded in pads that no longer serve a purpose, must be prepared to be “soldiers” in the ongoing fight for a ball and (sometimes fake) grass. There is no tomorrow. There is no second chance. If the good Lord decides your knee bone will be crushed today, or that all your ligaments burst apart, then so be it. It’s because the other man, who rammed helmet first into your knee, was more prepared, stronger, quicker, he was more man. Now, so must you be.

As spectators we cheer. We push for this. We want this. Take the ball into (sometimes fake) grass and dance. Do it. Dance, while I high-five people I like, and spill beer, and laugh, and sometimes cry. We have made the decision that this should continue as planned. Sure, that hit was illegal. Sure, that player did something horribly inappropriate, but they scored. I will pretend to care about that heinous act for the next few minutes with a tweet or a facebook post, but as soon as that player scores again my care will turn once again into high-fives; I’ll bury all semblance or reason down deep as to not look less of a man. Men watch this sport. Men play this sport. Women are allowed to follow it. And, follow it you must. Closely, and with every single ounce of pertinent information the National Football League tells you is pertinent. This is all the information you will need to let your children play. Dad will understand. Pain is a currency. Mom is ignorant. Pain is being alive, and if you don’t agree – you are stupid and weak. So sayeth the men who know. The men who stand on sidelines with clipboards and headphones, and large stomachs, who screech at players like dying animals that winning is all that matters. Clinging to an era long gone when they themselves were measured, when they themselves were victims of spit in face, grass in mouth, ice on swollen body parts. Now, years later knees ache, bellies jiggle, scowls perfected, and others are ignorant. “These parents didn’t go through anything”, the husky men think. They haven’t survived the “battle” the “war”. They never played a game.

The players are machines of athletics and strength. They’ve been trained from a young age to work hard. They’re minds molded that their coach is their leader, and that his words are those of Gods. When Gods not around though, we tend to play. As the animalistic nature takes over, the machine is let loose, and the few hours you get to be alive take over, no longer is God in your face. The Bible has been left in the locker room, and now the tree of good and evil will shake. We as the spectators clasp our hands and pray for good decisions, but know few will be made. Girlfriends will be punched, wives knocked cold, alcohol consumed behind the wheel of some of the finest machines ever made. Machines impaired, controlling machines needing guidance. Dads will understand. Steam must let off. Moms are ignorant. The game must be won, and if you don’t agree – you are weak and pathetic. You are not American. Football is American. It’s misconstrued violence reminds of us of our primal instincts. They make the off the field mistakes of the player more understandable and relatable when we don’t stop to think about it, because our primal instinct is our first, and our evolved intellect must have time to discern. When we utilize that time things become dark. They become upsetting, and we start to ask questions. We start to have open conversations with friends and family. We start seeing things we didn’t see before. Are we becoming weak? Are we becoming stupid? Are we not men? These questions are too much for our small brains to handle. Even if we wanted to, we could do nothing about it. It will take a death, we say, and that’ll never happen, right? It can’t. These men are trained “soldiers”. They’re prepared for “battle” for “war”. Bruce Arians and the NFL braintrust have readied their men for all situations on the field. I believe this. I must. Only consume what is on the field. Ignore the broken laws, the broken jaws, the DUI, CTE, and other acronyms we could never possibly grasp. The braintrust knows what’s best for their men, for us. We must follow them. If not, we’ll be ignorant. We’ll be women. We’ll be un-American.

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc 

The Padres Suck?

Listen.

Can you hear that?

It’s the sound of hundreds, if not thousands of Padres fans telling each other just how much the Friars suck this year. “They’re terrible!” “They can’t play defense!” “They’re a bunch of old has-beens!” “They’re all young nobodies!” “I can’t stand to watch this team strand another baserunner!” These frustrated fans aren’t wrong. They really aren’t, but at the same time…they are?

You see, the Padres are in fact not a  good team this year. They show flashes of greatness, and then show long stretches of the team everyone assumed they were getting in 2016. Except me. I maintained this offseason that the Padres would finish in second place. Somehow, I still believe it. Call me a believer, and then make fun of me for a long long time. However, the Padres are playing relatively well, and have even managed to sweep the NL West leading Giants, and take two of three from the Nationals. They aren’t as “shitty” as some people would like them to be, and they are nowhere near great. They’re just in the middle. The gray area. They call it ‘hovering around .500′ for a reason – it sounds boring and inconclusive.

But, to say they just suck is wrong. Because, the Padres is an entire organization, and I’m finding a hard time deciphering which part of that organization sucks.

THE PLAYERS:

The Padres on the field squad have actually put up some of the most explosive offensive numbers in Major League Baseball throughout June and July. Guys like Wil Myers and Matt Kemp started to hit like we always want them to, a dude named Schimpf is playing at a level no one was expecting, and even ol’ Mumford and Sons, Derek Norris, decided to wake up – if only for a few brief beautiful moments. Add in to that mix Solarte’s oft overlooked and solid play (never overlooked by me, cause I am always right), some timely pitching, and Melvin Upton’s tradeable stats you actually have a team that’s kind of fun to watch! Fancy that. Seriously, flipping fancy it. As a lifelong Padres fan I’ve sat through teams that have had a similar record and expectations and have not been fun to watch (i.e. 1986-1992, 1999-2003), and it’s been pretty exhausting. Statistically, over the long run this team is at best a .500, maybe third place finisher if everything breaks right. That is not good. However, that does not suck. You know who sucks? The Rays, The Reds, The Diamondbacks, and the Braves. And, you may say, “Well, Dallas the Braves are actually rebuilding, and they have been honest with their fans about that, so really it doesn’t suck, and I have a sandwich in my hand and I’m eating it and blah blah blah…” and that actually brings us to the next category –

THE FARM SYSTEM:

Remember last offseason when we gave away a bunch of young prospects and players for guys like Kemp, the Upton’s and Kimbrel? Remember when everyone lost their minds, and no one could fathom how we’d recover before Jesus came back to smite Petco or at least rescue us from season three of True Detective? We gave up Wisler! We gave up Turner! We gave up…Jace Peterson! Yes, we did. And, perhaps it’d be nice to have those guys back, but personally players like Margot, Guerra, and Asuaje make me a little more excited. Especially since Turner is starting to profile more as a speedster and defender, and maybe that’s it. Add to this list the deals made for Paddock and more recently Anderson Espinoza, and I’m starting to like this farm system a lot. Next in line is the influx of international talent, and draft picks Preller has been able to sign, and well…let’s just say I don’t miss Jace Peterson. Whether the front office will admit it or not, like the Braves we are rebuilding, and AJ Preller is charge (for the most part) of that rebuild. Since AJ had a hand in the prized Rangers farm system, I’m gonna give him a longer rope than normal. Looking at the young talent we have, I’m gonna say we don’t suck. Minus the James Shields deal, and I’ll get to that.

THE COACHING STAFF:

I like Andy Green. You kind of have to. He’s a young manager without a ton of experience, having the same amount of success with this team that Bud Black and Pat Murphy had with last years “All-Star Squad”. Players seem to like him, and he’s a happy guy who also likes to show some emotion. Can’t really be upset with that, and based on record alone he doesn’t suck…at all. In fact, he might be a good manager someday. McGwire is harmless, if not probably a lot of fun to have around, and Zinter is obviously having a positive impact. The only question mark on this whole crew is Balsley, which is weird for fans to hear. Last season and this season pitchers aren’t seeming to respond, or maybe he’s lost his influence. Either way, something is going on, and while that alone doesn’t suck, it is a bummer.

THE GM:

He’s not Kevin Towers, and that doesn’t suck.

THE EXECUTIVES:

Here is the only part of this organization that might…perhaps…not totally, but maybe…suck. A lot of times we forget that Fowler and Co. are a relatively new ownership group in sports. They have a certain bravado to them that reminds you of all the reasons you hate rich people. They are utterly confident in their decision making, and thats final. They do have the right to be, as it is their team, and they can do and say what they want. So, really they don’t suck, they are just kinda…sucky. But, let’s look at this crew: Fowler is the “voice”, and fought for that privilege. I’ll give him credit in that he’s a better voice than any Spanos young or old. He obviously has a short temper and expects results although he isn’t completely sure on how to get them. Neither is Seidler, and that’s when things get troublesome. More on that in a second. Fowler was the catalyst for the Shields deal, which is unfortunate, because man…let’s just assume Shields was able to pull together an okay June, we could’ve gotten so much more for him. Instead we got a player you already forgot about, and Fernando Tatis’ kid. You remember Fernando Tatis, right? He’s that player whose baseball card you keep for nostalgic reasons although you never rooted for him, you just liked his name, and you miss that time in your life. Of course the Shields deal was more of a salary and personality dump than anything else, and when Shields left the team under the careful watch of Sevendust, we all immediately got it.

Sure, Fowler is riding the line of active owner, and frustrated owner, but at least he’s active and I like that. Seidler, the future voice, is a little different. He’s the real “owner” and he knows it. He only pokes his head out when something weird happens. He’s the Michael Corleone of this family (Yes, that makes Fowler “Sonny”, and Dee a mix of “Fredo” and “Tom Hagen”) and that’s a good guy to have around. When he talks you feel like something is actually being addressed, but you never totally trust him. That brings us to Mike Dee, who had a sizable campaign launched a couple of months ago to have him fired. He’s not well-liked by a lot of fans, but very well-liked by ownership, and that means he will be here until someday he betrays Seidler in nightclub in Cuba, and then goes fishing on a boat by himself. Here’s the issue, Dee has made the team more profitable, maybe not by much, but he has, and that’s all that matters to most owners. He’s made an inferior product a tourist destination, which is impressive. It’s like if Disneyland got rid of Space Mountain and Frontierland and Pirates of the Caribbean, and people still kept coming anyway. The team has had more odd scandals than most this season, and has about a .500 record dealing with them, which is fine. Food at the ballpark is awesome, which is great, and the scoreboard is the size of La Mesa now. The experience is just that – an experience. Not necessarily a Baseball experience, but an experience nonetheless. The part of this executive team that does suck is when they all try to get involved in player decisions. Dee says he doesn’t get involved, but we all know that’s not true, and ultimately who cares. However, when you hire AJ Preller, you let him do his thing. Trust him. It’s pretty obvious they haven’t. There was a theory going around that they hired Preller at the last second because he abandoned his strengths and sold them on building a winner immediately, which any ownership group obviously wants to hear. AJ just didn’t have any experience doing that, and made moves that were fun, but questionable. My addition to this theory is that AJ tried to build a winner, while secretly revamping a not-so-great farm system, which was his plan all along. I like this theory, so I’m buying into it. If the executive crew can find a way to stay out of things for another season or two then this team might have a chance. The issue is most of us know that isn’t possible, and yes that does indeed kind of suck.

For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc 

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