Mainstream sports journalism died last night.

Please join me and the rest of the blogosphere in taking an enormous Duce Staley on the corpse.

Bill Simmons once said that the reason he started blogging – which is basically what he was doing back in the days of the Boston Sports Guy, even if he didn’t realize it at the time – was because he wanted to write about sports, and there were a limited number of slots in the field, held by cranky old guys who were never going to leave the position until six friends carried them out of it by the handles. So he struck out for the Internet in hopes of making something happen for himself. Some say he sold out. I prefer to think of him as our man on the inside.

That’s why guys like Will Leitch, Orson Swindle, and their pale imitators are currently pwning the hell out of the sad-sacks who write the column in your local fishwrap. The bloggers are winning because bits are cheap, publication is just a matter of hanging out a URL, and – in the case of 95% of sports bloggers – they’re not doing it for the kind of wealth that lets them sit on a mound of gold, drinking Cristal out of a stripper’s brassiere. They’re doing it because they really and truly care about the things they write about. They’re not filled with the kind of self-loathing that makes columnists get all serious and one-word-paragraph pompous about “perspective” and “what really matters” everytime something awful happens in the real world. They know exactly what their place in the food chain is – somewhere between the Twinkie and the beef jerky – and unlike the print guys, they don’t have to be any more than that. Spencer Hall knows what’s important – the man’s career is working with international refugees – so when he tallies the scores for the Fulmer Cup and loops together a funk theme for it in Garage Band, he knows how important it is in the grand scheme of things; he doesn’t need some buffet-hoovering J-school washout telling him what truly matters.

We let absolutely anybody vote in this country. The fate of the United States hangs perennially in the hands of 100 million lightly-informed amateurs. The problem is, the print columnists think that what they do somehow demands a higher standard than that. Somehow, they’ve deluded themselves into thinking that they have to set a bar for what is, at the end of the day, the journalistic version of wanking.

Which is why it’s appropriate that their dying yelp came from a man named after the sound a vibrator makes.

This one should be a no-brainer.

* The Supreme Court rules that photo ID can be required in order to vote.
* Government-issued photo ID (other than employee badges for government employees) generally consists of a driver’s license or passport.
* A driver’s license is not free, nor is a passport; a fee is required to obtain same.
* Therefore, a fee is required to vote.
* Amendment 24, US Constitution: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote…shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”
* Therefore, the Supreme Court has endorsed a patently unconstitutional decision.
* Therefore, the six Justices voting in the affirmative should rightly be impeached and removed from the bench.
* Q. E. mother-!ing D.

The Southernization of American Politics

“Tolerance, in sum, was pretty well extinguished all along the line, and conformity made a nearly universal law. Criticism, analysis, detachment, all those activities and attitudes so necessary to the healthy development of any civilization, every one of them took on the aspect of high and aggravated treason. Indeed, this is only half to state the fact, for the peculiar effect of the extraordinarily close identification of the individual with the idea of the South, and of the continually sharpening personal outlook, was this: that any questioning or doubting of the South in any respect (and in tis atmosphere of boiling emotion, merely to stand aloof a little was ipso facto to be convicted of such questioning and doubting) was inevitably felt by each loyal Southerner as a questioning and doubting of his immediate ego. Which is to say that, being what he was, he inevitably felt it as a challenge to be resisted with all the enormous pugnacity at his disposal…”

-W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South, 1941

Read this and realize that I got there 15 years ago. The older I get, the better I was, yeah yeah yeah…but I really was good at this once, and I nailed it.

How We Got Here

RENAULT: …and what in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?

RICK: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.

RENAULT: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert!

RICK: I was misinformed.

That’s how it begins. They tell you that everything’s going to be so much better once you’re out of school. Once you get to college. Once you get out of college. Once you get out of this stinking town and head for the big city. Once you get out of the rat race. Once you make partner, once you make VP, once you get the star on your shoulder. Everyone – and I mean everyone – perpetuates this lie that at some point, the game comes to an end, and you can sit back on your arse and relish the spoils of victory.

Hell, they convinced me. They convinced me half a dozen times. Everything will be fine once you get to junior high high school college grad school the real world California on staff … Eventually you learn too late, as I did, that Hollywood’s concept of high school and college is NOTHING like reality. Andie doesn’t get Blaine. The laser doesn’t fire. The popular girl doesn’t get run over by a bus. The team loses the big game 65-0 and the struggling striver doesn’t even get into a uniform, let alone on the bench. The nerds get crushed underfoot, if they get noticed at all, and the plain girl with a heart of gold always gets overlooked. Hell, the only true thing that ever happened in a teen movie was that the girl Duckie pined after went off with the popular rich kid instead – and then they queered the whole thing by throwing him a pneumatic blonde as a consolation prize. But I digress.

The point is this: Jonathan Coulton is right. The cake is a lie. No matter how many problems you solve, no matter how many pieces you fit together, no matter how close you think you are to picking the lock – the test never ends, the puzzle is never solved, and you will never escape. You just have to keep chugging along – you never get to see what’s on the other side of the hill, because it just goes up and up and up. The hard part is learning how to cope with it. Which I am sure I will be doing, to an utterly annoying extent, in this very space.

So on that cheerful note…

The Sweet Escape

On the last day of the season, Morton beat Partick Thistle 3-0. This ties them with rival Clyde on 37 points…and gives Morton a one-goal lead on the tiebreaker, goal differential.

And as a result, Morton are guaranteed to stay in the Scottish First Division, while Clyde go into a relegation playoff with the 2, 3, and 4 teams from the Second Division.

Any win you can walk away from…


In the last three days…

…I have bought half a dozen shirts. Pretty nice ones, too – three polo-type shirts and three button-ups (one wrinkle free and the other two of a material that you don’t iron anyway). Now, for those of you who think I slipped a chromosome, let me explain.

Ten years ago, when I started out in high-tech in Washington DC, we were actually still shirt-and-tie four days a week. No lie, everyone in IS was wearing a shirt and tie and nice casual pants. I don’t know what I was doing for shoes back then – it was before the coming of the Docs, so I can only assume I was hitting my old Rockports hard – but long story short, I didn’t look anything like what you’d expect from our industry.

About a year in, we were spared the ties – the whole organization went away from any sort of dress code, by order of the CEO. Nevertheless, I stuck to reasonably decent collared shirts, kept jeans to a minimum, never wore tennis shoes. Five years on, I was wearing Hawaiian shirts, skipping socks altogether from Easter to Columbus Day, and by the time I left they were just lucky I was wearing pants.

Next job was basically in a warehouse. Steel-toed boots every day. Anything nicer than jeans and a formal T-shirt was asking for trouble, what with all the boxes to lift and skids to unpack and etc etc etc. After about a year and a half, though, I got moved into a position where I was driving a desk all day and could afford to dress a little nicer – but not too nice, because we still had to unload the truck every day. So I didn’t bother upgrading from the same shirts I’d been wearing back in DC, and it showed – especially since I was getting another free T-shirt every other month and just wearing those.

Long story short (too late!): with the exception of a couple of date-night-type shirts, I haven’t really done anything for the top half of my wardrobe in half a decade. Now I’m in a position with much MUCH less physical labor, and I can actually try to make an effort at looking decent. And for some reason, probably because I’m 36, I feel the need to start dressing like a grown-up.

So six new shirts (though at least one will probably get returned). NONE of them in black. Or gray. Only one that could reasonably be called dark. I guess this makes me some kind of adult?

Oh No He Di’n’t

Did Chris Matthews actually just say that there’s a great cleavage in society between African-Americans + white liberals and “regular people”?

I misheard that, right?

PLEASE tell me I misheard that.

Because if I didn’t, that worthless piss-haired fuck needs to die in a fire. Preferably while being sodomized by a grizzly. With herpes.

I will have a LOT more to say about this shortly.

Judgement Eve

Without further ado:

BEST CASE SCENARIO, TEAM OBAMA: the Al Davis. “Just win, baby.” If Obama goes home with more votes in PA than Clinton, that’s the ballgame. Winning the Keystone State outright would dry up the last plausible argument – that Obama can’t win large swing states – and the superdelegates would start falling like dominoes. Not to mention the donors.

BEST CASE SCENARIO, TEAM CLINTON: Double-digit win. Anything over 10% is good, anything over 15% is very good, suggesting not only viability but maybe the beginnings of momentum, or at least the meme that Obama’s hit the high-water mark and will only descend further. Given that Team Clinton started the month of April with a little over $9M in the bank and a little over $10M in debt, a decisive win is absolutely imperative to open the pocketbooks of people whose contributions she desperately needs down the stretch.

TEAM OBAMA IS HOPING: That HRC was too clever by half. The Rove offense relies on driving away loosely motivated voters, and at last check, the surveys are still showing about 6-8% undecided. If those people don’t bother to post, and Philly comes through strong, Obama could close the deal right here.

TEAM CLINTON IS HOPING: That nobody will remember their lead was 20% the day of the Ohio and Texas primaries. Beating Obama by 4-6% may look like a win, but it will barely move the needle on delegate margins. If she actually manages to donk off three-fourths of the lead in six weeks, and the media latches onto the fact, it won’t be good. At this point, it’s not a straight fight; she’s got to cover the point spread, and right now, we’re not even sure what the spread ought to be.

WORST-CAST SCENARIO: A push against the Vegas line, so to speak. HRC wins by 6-8%, not enough to make a convincing case for her own momentum but enough to keep from sending her to live with a nice farm family – which means that, just like Rocky, we’re headed to a bloody split decision…and two fighters being rushed directly to the hospital afterward.

Now, normally this is where I remark about how John McCain is sat on a pile of gold, watching this entire debacle unfold, laughing through his cigar smoke and drinking champagne out of a stripper’s brassiere. However, it looks like McCain’s going to have to accept public money for the general election campaign, which will cap him at $84M. Team Obama has already made it clear they’re not going the public-money route, and given their success at adopting the Howard Dean model for aggregating small donations, they stand to have quite the financial advantage in the general if they get there. Obviously, assorted 527s and other independent-expenditure entities will affect that balance as well.

Our Mascot

So I didn’t exactly go to a normal high school. Officially, our mascot was the Tree. We were the Trees. SRSLY. But we didn’t exactly have any sports teams or colors, so it didn’t really work. Besides, the one competitive group I was part of was more frequently known by other names (e.g. Argonauts).

However, inside the student lounge (i.e. big open carpeted room with almost no furnishings that hadn’t been cleaned in about two decades), painted on one of the cinderblock walls was a huge mural of the Thing breaking through the wall. Now, consider this:

1) The Thing is a wiseass.

2) The Thing has powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary man.

3) The Thing cannot disguise what he is and frequently inspires fear and loathing rather than heroic admiration.

4) The Thing is identified with his eye color, e.g “the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing!”

Seriously. Do the math, people.

Too Many Choices

I don’t know where I first heard the phrase “paralysis by analysis,” but it comes up a lot in my mind. Today, it came up when looking at the five (5) polycarbonate* bottles in the dishwasher. My thought was this: I only have one coffee thermos, and as a result, it gets washed out on a more or less daily basis. With five water bottles, though, I use one, use another one, forget to wash, next thing I know I’m sitting on five bottles which have been sitting unlaundered for a week and starting to smell a little odd despite having had nothing but filtered tap water in them.

Similarly, I’ve got too many shoes, especially for a guy. It didn’t help that my last company was buying me a new pair of steel-toed Docs every year, but over the course of the last six or seven years, I’ve accumulated a lot of shoes in the attempt to settle on the ideal pair of grown-up casual footwear – and now there are so many shoes that are not quite right that it only makes me look for the one pair that will be just right.

Even worse is my fixation on trying to find a team to support in the Premier League – I have arguments for Newcastle Utd, Aston Villa, Man City, even Chelsea – not to mention a passing interest in the likes of Spurs, Everton, or Fulham – but nothing that clinches the deal and makes it clear which is going to be the team I follow. (And if you look at how the list has grown in the last year and a half, when the original question was “Spurs or Magpies?”, you can see what I mean.)

This is actually the reason why a lot of Apple products function the way they do, especially in the iPod range. They are functionally simplified in the name of clarity and ease of use. A lot of other stuff could be shoehorned in there, but one only has to look at the Zune to see what happens when you try to do too much too fast. And along those lines, I find myself moving more and more stuff into the guest closet, trying to pare down and get to just the stuff I need.

I think like much of my life, this is just a word problem writ large, and if I can solve it, not only will I get an A, but another piece of the puzzle will fall into place. By the way, Jimminy Christmas but Newcastle and Villa are filling up the net today…

*I’m not nearly as het up about the whole “OMG the bisphenol-A is coming to get us all” – it’s been out there as a known potential issue for years, and those fainting panic-bunnies in the European Commission have said it’s not enough to warrant taking them off the market. Plus I’m sure I got exposed to more endocrine-disrupting female hormones just being sat by the bachelorette-party-gone-wrong last night. Besides, the steel bottles will give you something when the chromium breaks down, and the aluminum bottles will give you Alzheimers or something else when the lining goes away, and the lining will poison you slowly, and the soft plastic bottles will make the water taste like petroleum and harbor bacteria, and the pre-packaged bottled water is less regulated than tap water and you can’t reuse the bottles anyway, and…well, you know my solution, and it rhymes with Laker’s Dark.