Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trash Talk by Region [Mondays with Gus]

Every region of the country has it's own flavor of trash talk. This is designed to be a guide explaining how people in each region talk trash, and a blueprint for winning every argument.

Washington D.C. - Due to it's proximity to Congress, teams in this area of the country spend way too much money on everything. The Redskins will never be good because they try to buy talent. The National will never be good because they spent a trillion dollars this offseason on guys whose names aren't Albert Pujols and CC Sabathia. There's nothing to analyze here, other than to just tell people from DC that their teams are truly the bottom of the barrel.

The “We Have Better Things To Do” Crowd: Miami, FL and San Francisco – These two areas of the country tend to be into sports when it's the cool thing to do. This means sell outs when the team is in the playoffs, but when things come crashing down on them, they just act like they never cared in the first place. This is only a half truth, because in reality they wanted celebrities to come visit and mingle with them during after parties. So, if you're arguing with a fan of these two areas, all you have to do is mention legitimate statistics or information about how the game is played and they'll go back to checking Kim Kardashian's twitter page.

The “I'm Going To Speak Louder Than You And That Makes Me Right” Crowd: Boston, New York - I really hate to put these two groups together, but that's exactly what East Coasters do. They both scream at the top of their lungs while interrupting every sentence and walk away proud of themselves. The best way to win an argument with these two is to get them arguing with each other. If in an argument with a New York fan, tell them Boston fans are more of baseball purists than New York. When in an argument with a Boston fan, tell them the Red Sox are a poor man's Evil Empire. Boston trump card: The Patriots are proven cheaters. New York trump card: The Mets.

Chicago – Chicago is an odd one. In this city, you're just as likely to find a loudmouth that thinks Chicago is the greatest sports city in the world (usually wearing a 15 year old Michael Jordan jersey) as you are to find a depressed Cubs fan. You can't really put together a strategy for this group because they're fans are on the extreme end of the spectrum. Cubs fans are liable to cry if you talk trash to them. What you want to do is find out if they're a “we love the Cubs no matter what” fan, or a “we're trying to be loud and cool like New Yorkers” fan. If they are the latter, just tell them as much. The Cubs are like the younger brother that they aren't proud of for any reason, so bringing them up usually puts the argument in your favor. Just don't do it to a Cubs fan, because come on.

Philly – I think this may be my favorite trash talking city. Philly fans are loud, but not as loud as New York or Boston fans. In fact, people in West Philly are usually quiet and intelligent when they talk about sports. At the same time, their football stadium has a jail cell in it. Best way to talk trash is to size up your audience first. If they aren't going to kill you, continue the conversation. Since they live under the shadow of New York, bring that up. Or bring up Donovan McNabb. There's nothing Philly fans hate more than someone that brought them legitimate success for years without giving them New York-style bragging rights.

Texas – For better or worse, people in Texas think they are the best at everything, and that's the basis for every argument in the state. This is far from the truth. You can remind them that the first time they tried to have an NFL team, the Dallas Texans went broke. They were so broke, in fact that the players were responsible for cleaning their own uniforms. Then the Houston Oilers left town. Then the Rangers went broke. Yes, Texas has had lots of success in sports, but it's hardly enough to claim that they are the best at anything (except the Mavs!).  

-Gus Rafeedie

Editor's Note: I'll have some thoughts on Chicago as a sports town later this week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Remembering Korey Stringer [Mondays with Gus]

Many sports fans remember Korey Stringer as the Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman who died from heat related injuries during practice in 2001. To me, he was and always will be much more than just a martyr for the cause of ensuring safe practice habits for football players in United States. I had the pleasure of knowing Korey personally before he passed away, and like many other people that knew him, I have nothing but the best to say about him as a person. In my world, Korey set the standard for how wealthy football players should behave towards their fans and how actions toward other people can make all the difference in the world.

It started the night before I was to meet Korey (and a number of other Minnesota Vikings players) at a two day football camp for offensive and defensive lineman. The sponsors set up a meet and greet the night before at a bar. My dad knew I loved how the big guy played, and decided to chat him up. There are two different stories as to what happened next. My dad says he told Korey who I was and wanted him to know that he has the OK to rough me up if I act out. Korey's first words to me were something along the lines of “You must be Gus. Your dad told me I'm allowed to slap you around, since you shouldn't be playing football.” Anyone that knows my dad believes Korey.

What they both confirmed though, is that my dad tried to buy Korey a drink, but he refused. He said it's an awful example to set to young kids that are trying to accomplish a goal. He said the effects of alcohol on kids is too dangerous and that he'd rather do the right thing and avoid drinking anything other than a coke. I took this to heart, even as a 7th grader. Here is one of the people I look up to caring enough about me to make sure he sets the right example. Dad made sure to let me know about that and I'll never forget that feeling.

There were some funny stories throughout the two day camp. too. At one point while doing a drill for offensive lineman, Korey wanted to put me in my place. I had beaten older kids in two previous drills and was filled with confidence. In the next individual drill, we were to start at the guard position and pull left to block for a fictional running back. When you pulled, you hit the person in front of you – who was supposed to hold a huge pad – as hard as you can. The kid in front of me went and Korey interrupted. He grabbed the pad from his hands, threw it on the ground and said “Gus, I want you to hit me as hard as you can. I won't move an inch. Let's see how good you are now.” Being an arrogant kid, I told him that I might hurt him. Now, to put that idiotic comment into perspective most fully grown adults couldn't hurt Korey with a car in the space I was given. He laughed and told me to start the drill.

I psyched myself up, remembering everything he had taught me about getting low and hitting people with good balance and an aggressive punch. I was mad that he was trying to embarrass me. When the QB called hut I ran full speed, used what I thought was perfect form and hit him as hard as I possibly could have. Without taking a single step forward, he stuck his stomach out just as I went to hit him. To say I flew 5 yards backwards is to do a disservice to how truly impressive this was. The man didn't move. I was the kid that got tied to the back of the rope when our grade competed in the tug-of-war. This stuff wasn't supposed to happen to the fat kid! When he got done laughing, Korey helped me up, dusted me off and reminded me that trash talk gets you hurt.

To this day, when I see ESPN covering athletes that make derogatory comments, or behave in ways that make them seem elitist (or just plain stupid) I think about Korey Stringer. It's not the kind of thing that gets people to pay attention to the TV, but at the same time it is the kind of thing that makes me realize that the best people don't always get the best attention. While I have a lot of people to thank for helping me appreciate the game of football as a fan and a person, nobody had a larger impact on me personally than Korey did. Thanks for everything.

-Gus Rafeedie

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Major League's Thoughts on Mascots

Graduating from Miami University after they changed their name from Redskins to Redhawks, the only thing I can say for sure is that the new mascot is a pansy. I didn’t associate the name with racist undertones of a culture and people practically annihilated by early settlers of white (never will I ever use the word Caucasian unless it’s to demonstrate my dislike for said word. Just say white.) America, but rather thought of the rich Indian history in the Southwestern Valley of Ohio that I was taught in grade school. Do others have the same thoughts? I have no clue. Probably not.
Most likely because of their small population size, most people don't think twice about whether terms such as Indians and Redskins are racist. Many just don't care. In that regard, is it better for these advocacy groups to continue broaching the subject, or allow it to disappear? One worries of the past being forgotten, and therefore repeated if the latter comes to fruition. Moreover, I’m surprised that people dedicate so much of their time to causes such as changing the name of a sports team. I question its overall value, and am saddened by the gratification they will almost assuredly never receive. In that regard, their dedication to the cause must be commended.
When deciding to respond to the post by Gus, then a few comments afterwards, my focus was not directed at the names of the teams. Rather, I wanted to discuss some of the logic that mascots, in particular Chief Wahoo, are overly racist and essentially should be condemned to hell.  I just don’t get it. Mascots in their purest nature are cartoonish classifications of themselves.  Their sole purpose is to be a bad caricature that you see crappy artists painting on the streets near the Louvre in sappy Sandra Bullock movies.  Have you ever seen a true mascot that was an exact replica of their real life name? Or course not. That doesn’t draw attention. Features are exaggerated. That’s not racist; it’s just pandering to kids for the most part.  Do Satanists get upset every time they see the Duke Blue Devil on the court? Does the Black Hole at a Raiders game make you think twice on taking the next cruise?  Do you think everyone in Oklahoma looks like OSU’s Pistol Pete? I don’t hear modern day cowboys complaining, or really, any one really voicing much concern about the Leprechaun.
Lastly, I saw in one of the comments, that a teacher at some hippie school (liberal arts school, just wanted to get a rise out of those folks as they were reading this while listening to Phish) up in Cleveland that didn’t allow admittance into her classroom while wearing any Indians attrite.  Get over yourself lady. Don’t force your beliefs onto others by abusing your power and installing a dictatorship in the classroom. Last time I checked, wasn’t forcing your beliefs on others the whole reason for the above mess?
-The Lube Tube/Major League

Monday, June 13, 2011

Racism in Team Names (Read: I'm Sick of LeBron Talk) [Mondays with Gus]

There is a myth among many American sports fans that needs to be addressed. This is the myth that naming your team after some group of people is somehow a compliment to that group. I'm speaking of course about teams like The Cleveland Indians, The Atlanta Braves, and most especially The Washington Redskins. There's nothing honorable about the naming of these teams. The Redskins are essentially the equivalent of the Washington N-Word. I'm not saying that we have to go around pleasing everybody, but I am saying that by allowing this to happen we make ourselves look, as a sports fan base, like bigots.

As a social experiment, I would like to see a few team names and mascots changed a bit. The Houston Texans are a prime example. Since Texas has such major issues among it's people (awful education system and obesity to name a few) I think their team should reflect that. I would like to see their mascot change into a fat illiterate that goes around telling people how awesome Texans are, even when they're getting destroyed (as the Texans often do). Maybe he or she can be holding a book upside down while yelling about the “liberal media” or illegal immigration. While we're at it, why not change the Washington Redskins into the Washington Rednecks? If we're allowed to stereotype American Indians, why shouldn't we be allowed to stereotype white people?

There is a precedent for this. An intramural team in Colorado once named their team “The Fightin' Whites” and had a tag line of “Every Thang's Gonna Be All White!!!” The controversy landed all over the news, including CNN. This is the kind of thing that tested the waters of controversial names without tagging it to a large institution that could end up being boycotted/punished. That's great and everything, but it's time to end use of the Redskins and Indians as a mascot. Here's why:

Indians/Chief Wahoo: This one has the least insulting name, but the most insulting mascot. For starters, he falls into many of the American Indian stereotypes and insults. He's bright red, has a big nose, and a huge mouth. The big mouth is a subtle jab at how terrified settlers were of the Indian war cry. They were considered by some to be too loud and rambunctious to be civilized, and the huge mouth hints at that awful commentary. The feather sticking out of the back of his head is wrong as well. They were usually hanging down, or a full headdress with feathers if the person were actually a chief. To rephrase one of the smartest complaints I've read about Chief Wahoo: What the hell is he so happy about, anyway? 80% of his people were killed in 50 years, land taken away, children sent to foreign boarding schools and punished for using their native languages, and every attempt at peace ignored by the settlers. But it's cool, Cleveland. Go ahead and make him a happy red faced idiot with a giant grin on his face in front of his inaccurate headdress.

Redskins: This is awful mostly because of the name. Redskins? Really? I would like to see the Cleveland [insert white stereotype] take on the Washington N-Words and see how people react to that. Maybe the White people's mascot could be an arrogant, war mongering moron who only knows one language (like the global stereotype). The only reason we are allowed as a society to do this to American Indians is because they aren't as numerous and wealthy as white people, or as well organized as the black community.

A lot of people are going to get up in arms about this, saying that free speech is a part of America and we should be allowed to say what we want. I'm not arguing against free speech. In fact, I value free speech incredibly because my parents were born in a country that doesn't have it (Palestine). My point here is that we should be worried that people see us as bigots because we sometimes act like it. Violent and bigoted names have been changed in the past with little consequence (Syracuse Orange, Washington Wizards, etc). Eliminating a few bigoted names is not enough. We should aim to eliminate them all. It's time we stop sounding like a guy that says “But I hardly beat my wife at all anymore!” and say that we're man (or woman) enough to admit when we're being bigots.

-Gus Rafeedie

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Live Blog of NBA Finals Game 6

7:45 Mavs up 3-2. Mario Chalmbers starting over Mike Bibby. We're 20 minutes from tip. LeBron is still a little girl in a skirt

7:50 Wade claiming he had a real cough, then made a joke that, according to him, maybe possibly wasn't about Dirk's fever earlier in the series, and it if was, it was just to see if the media blew it up was much like the Jim Tressel "cover-up worst than the crime" situation.

7:54 I'm glad they put out two unimportant Heat players so LeBron didn't have to go out there and shake some heroes' hands. He doesn't need anymore distractions.

7:57 Button your shirt Marc Anthony. You're singing the NATIONAL ANTHEM, not some club song.

7:59 Are there more police dramas or hospital dramas on IMDB?

8:01 Good thing they get LeBron out of the way early in player intros...he's not good late anywhere.

8:04 BONUS INPUT FROM GUS (VIA TEXT) "Two legacies enter, one legacy leaves. There can be only one."

8:05 I'll put Gus' texts in quotes to distinguish them from mine from here on out. Also, I pick the Mavs to close it out tonight. Also, HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THOSE MIC FLAGS, they are little TV screens that change images from ESPN logo, to Larry O'Brien Trophy and some other things too.

8:08 Chalmers just air-balled a 3. Real life.

8:11 Lebron James is outscoring the entire Mavs team. 5-4.

8:12 Gus comes in with a slightly late prediction, more specific than mine, "Mavs, by 5."

8:14 Gus with more heat on the Heat, "3 to 1 odds that Wade goes out on a stretcher and comes back to the game as if he's a hero a la Paul Pierce."

8:16 LeBron 4-4 from the field for 9 pts.

8:17  Gus says, "LeBron is hitting his jumpers, which is dangerous. Problem is, if he falls in love with that play, it could be bad news for Miami. That's not his game."

8:23 How do they change the score so fast at the bottom of the screen? I know "live" events are on 7-sec delay, but is it possible that the game is on that speed, but the scorebox is really live? It's either that or the guy who's in charge of the box has super fast fingers. 

8:24 TWO FOULS ON DIRK. Tim Donaghy?

8:25 And the Jet is in the building. Two quick, pretty Js for five points in a short time.

8:31 ABC Broadcast team. STOP MAKING EXCUSES for LeBron being a douche.

8:32 Jason Terry's jumper is wetter than a white T-Shirt on a sorority girl on Spring Break in Cancun. Gus adds "-5 with Dirk on the bench over 3 minutes? Way to miss an opportunity, Miami."


8:34 "Mike Miller is like Reggie Miller, except he's not a very good shooter." -Gus

8:40 Mavs are on a 19-6 run since 5:11 remaining in the 1st.

8:43 Make that 25-6. also, see above, re: DESHAWN STEVENSON. Gus agrees, "Deshawn "Reggie Miller" Stevenson."

8:51 Heat on 9-0 run as Bosh keeps hitting that mid-range shot.

8:53 Basketball is, indeed, a game of runs as Wade assists House on a three to put Heat up 42-40 (after he had a tremendous block on Chandler). Then Stevenson shoves Chalmers, right before the break...

8:58 Gus is amped up, "Why go to commercial there!?" I second that. He adds, "Deshawn hit 3 threes and started a fight and I STILL didn't get the hand in front of the face thing."

9:01 Dirk is 1-8 for 3 pts right now. BUT the Mavs are only down 1.

9:06 Gus checks in, "Shouldn't they wait for Eddie House to go to the line to chant MVP tonight?" And how about the Jet? 14 pts in 13 mins. FIRE.

9:09 What else did the people expect when Dallas plays in the American Airlines Center and the Heat play in the American Airlines Arena. The Jet has taken off (and over) with 17 points in 15 minutes on 7-9 shooting. Good for a +9.

9:13 Dirk 1-11. He's far off Kobe's 8-24 in a championship-clincher clip from last year.

9:15 Gus says, "2 missed FT's and an airball. Did someone tell LeBron it's the 4th quarter?" BAM roasted.

9:18 Gonna have a trainer work on my fingers during halftime. Maybe get them some ice. See you in 20.

9:39 How does Barea do it? Just slipped through the paint.

9:40 The Heat passed up 2-3 open shots on that possession before Dirk hit a shot.

9:43 Dirk still doesn't have it offensively, but did you see that vintage Shawn "Don't forget they used to call me The Matrix" Marion rebound and putback?

9:46 Chandler with his fourth foul, Bosh with a perfect dinosaur/Avatar face in slow-mo.

9:49 70% chance Gus' phone is dead b/c we haven't heard from him in more than 30 mins. WOW LeBron had JJ BAREA on him and not only did he not score, he committed a foul!

9:51 My dog Madison has no interest in this game. Her passing out on the red chair is as predictable as LeBron missing shots late in the Finals.

Maddie passed out on this chair is as predictable as LeBron vanishing in the 4th Q of a finals game

9:55 The Custodian, just mopping sweat up off the floor with his jersey as he takes a charge. Basketball is FUNdamental!

9: 59 Gus returns, "Does the world realize that if LeBron lays a goose egg in the 4th quarter it means that Dan Gilbert's letter becomes a little more accurate?"

10:01 Will that be LeBron's last FG of the year with the 4th Q just 90 ticks away?

10:04 J. Kidd. Dallas is 10-20 from 3pt land and the Heat are 14-24 from FT line.

10:06 Gus chimes in after LeBron hits his first FT of the game, "Wow. Shaq hit a free throw."

10:11 More Gus, "Too bad Spo didn't say 'LeBron just needs teammates that don't choke in the clutch"

10:13 Hmmm. ABC said foul was on Chandler, and PA said foul was on Dirk. What's up?

10:14 Guess it's on Dirk. He's got 4 fouls now, that's rough. At least JJ is stroking 3s and grabbing boards.

10:18 This 80-year old is a very accurate representation of about 80% of the Heat fan base. Representative of 80% of Heat fans

10:19 D-D-D-D-Dallas and the Jet.

10:25 Dirk better hit some shots here or it's going to be weird when David Stern (or Adam Silver or whoever) hands Dirk the Finals MVP trophy after he shoots 5-26 tonight. Gus with a killer line, "Talents to South Beach. Legacy to Hell."

10:28 Wait what quarter is it? Did someone change the clocks to fool LeBron that it's not the 4th? He hit one bucket, let's not get too excited.

10:29 Bosh, Wade, Chalmers, Haslem all making more plays in the final quarter than "The King."

10:30 Maybe Sarah Barelleis should do a remix to King of Anything for LeBron and call it King of Nothing.

10:32 That movie with Charlie from Always Sunny and Michael Bluth from Arrested Development looks hilaaaaaaarious. Almost as funny as the old LeBron-Jordan comparisons.

10:35 Did someone tell LeBron the ball has cooties? No help defense, doesn't even have the ball in his hands long enough to dribble before he passes.

10:38 Dirk just woke up. It's almost time to cue Lil Flip.

10:40 It's time. Congratulations Dallas. 

10:41 Last words from Gus... "In the words of Prince, 'Game. Blouses.'"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Troy Polamalu's Brother-in-Law Hates My Article [Special Wednesday with Gus]

In my previous article, I detailed why I think Troy Polamalu is overrated. I came to the conclusion that he is a good safety, nothing more and nothing less. I had been reading an article about how Derek Anderson flipped on someone (again, but via twitter this time) who had criticized him when I received the following from Alex Holmes, Troy Polamalu's brother in law:

Alex (makes the first contact): @Ghassandwich this insane diatribe is a pathetic attempt to get attention. Makes it easy to understand why you have 30 followers.

We've got ourselves what Jesse would call an aPol(amalu)gist. I took offense to his use of the word “insane.” Maybe that's because my sister is a psychologist and she has taught me not to water down words that talk about people becoming mentally deranged. Maybe it's because being compared to someone who is capable of murdering and raping others without knowing what they're doing isn't exactly my cup of tea. Either way, this dude needed to be Derek Andersowned. So, I called him out:

Gus: @Trojan81 You preach hatred over logic. If I'm wrong, prove it. Internet trolls get more attention than logic, anyway so I could care less.

Alex: @Ghassandwich you have no logic! First off you are comparing different http://positions.Ed is a free safety, Troy is a strong safety. Troy plays at the line of scrimmage,deep in the secondary, at the linebacker level. Ed sits back and plays center field. Amongst NFL players there isnt a more respected player than Troy. There isnt a more dynamic player possibly in the history of the game than Troy and most importantly he has 2 SuperBowl rings. Which is the ultimate goal for NFL players not stats or individual awards.

One of the most dynamic players ever? I'll get to that later. But, his argument was laughable. Saying Polamalu plays everywhere on the entire field basically proved my point. I said Troy doesn't create enough turnovers and this guy is saying he doesn't do that because he plays the entire field? Nice one. He also happened to insult me the week USC got it's 2004 National Championship taken away.

Gus: @Trojan81 Also, you're a one time national champion, not two.

Alex: @Ghassandwich also I dont preach any hate and you are wrong I am a 2 time AP National Champion...and yourself?

Good one! I've never won a national championship that I've never competed for! That's like me making fun of him for never having been awarded a full scholarship to get a Masters degree at Kent State. As for saying they play different positions? That's like saying cornerbacks, offensive guards, defensive tackles, outside linebackers and wide receivers can rarely be compared since they might be right or left, X or Z. But he's allowed to do this because he compared Polamalu to every other player in the history of the sport. I decided to end this bickering:

Gus: @Trojan81 You claim I use no logic, and yet don't realize I gave a statistical comparison using facts. Nothing made up. You're bored.

Alex: @Ghassandwich your comparing different positions, totally different players. Hypothetically troy could play back and get that many ints. He does so much more

So there you have it. No two players in the NFL can be compared, nor can we voice a reasonable opinion about somebody. That is of course, unless the comparison came from a guy that won a championship at a level different than the one we're discussing.

-Gus Rafeedie

Holiday Rankings

With Summer unofficially starting two weekends ago after a splendid Memorial Day Weekend, I thought it would be a good time to rank the Holidays we celebrate in America. First, we'll run through the ones that exist, but don't really have much awesomeness about them. In most cases, the reasons for their existence are majorly significant, but they don't do a lot for me today.

President's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Veteran's Day
-I get it. All historically very important, but I haven't had a day off for them in years.
Hannakuh, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashana 
-I'm not Jewish.
-I'm not whatever group of people who celebrate this.
Cinco de Mayo
-I had a reaaaaal bad run of May 5s the last three years, so it's not been a good look for me...team I was working for folded in 2008; sliced my pinkie open to the tune of eight stitches in 2009; thought my company was going to be sold and everyone was going to get laid off in 2010.
Columbus Day
-Big day back in NY with a day off and an awesome parade, but oddly enough Columbus, Ohio does little to nothing to celebrate it's namesake's day.
Labor Day
-The end of Summer, the start of school? No thanks.
Valentine's Day
-The most overrated holiday in the history of Holidays.

Now onto the next group. The ones that are pretty legit and come with three-day weekends or big parties.
St. Patrick's Day
-The Irish really took over with this one. Tons of big parades, lots of green beer and pretty decent food, but since it's usually on a weekday and I have a job, I miss out on the fun.
Green Beer Day
-Miami University alums, STAND UP!
Memorial Day
-Indy 500. The start of Summer. Three-day weekend. What else do you want?
New Year's Eve
-Still one of the most overrated Holidays out there, but can be pretty fun if you make the right moves. Such as a late dinner somewhere quiet, a good friend's house, a hockey or basketball game.
New Year's Day
-Yeah, I'm considering them separate, so what? Good college football going on all day, fresh start to the year, and more recently, the NHL's Winter Classic. A very good look for everyone involved.
-Peaking in college, this Holiday has something for everyone. Candy and killer costumes when you're a kid...sexy and offensive costumes in college and the few years after. 

Later this week, we'll run down the top contenders, including: Easter, Christmas Eve, Independence Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NFL Education: Troy Polamalu is Overrated [Mondays with Gus]

I've decided that if we can't have pro football talk in the media because of a lockout by the owners, I'm going to generate some football talk of my own. I'll be damned if I'm going to let some billionaires dictate the coverage that comes on the sports news. So, here is my attempt to educate the loyal NFL fans during their time of need. While I can't teach you about everything in one article, I want to start with the man that is widely considered one of the best players in football. More than just talk about him, I want to let you all know that Troy Polamalu is completely overrated.

Let's start by looking at the raw numbers of his game play and compare it to one of the greatest safeties of all time, Ed Reed. Troy has the following averages per year: 3.375 INT's, 1.0 sacks, .5 fumbles recovered and 1 forced fumble. This is hardly the stat line of someone that is one of the best defensive players in the league. Troy has never led the NFL in any statistical defensive category. Read that last sentence again, please. As a comparison, Ed Reed sits at 6 INT's, .55 sacks, 1.11 fumbles recovered, and 1.11 forced fumbles. To simplify, he almost doubles production in interceptions, and more than doubles in forced fumbles. That means he's producing over seven turnovers a year to Troy's 4.375. Polamalu has two career touchdowns as compared to Reed's 12. The statistics show that Troy is only an average safety.

It's not just the regular season, either. Troy has struggled in the three Super Bowls he has been a part of. His Super Bowl stat lines are as follows: Against Green Bay, three tackles. Against Arizona, two assists on tackles. Against Seattle, four tackles, one assist. That sounds like the stat line of a special teams player, not one of the best defensive players in the league.

But stats aren't everything; they tell a story, but not the whole story. What gives Troy the edge over other people is that the plays he does make are more spectacular than others (In other words, good for ESPN highlight reels). People see him make a leaping one handed interception. He once made  an amazing diving interception keeping the ball from touching the ground by maybe two inches. While these plays are incredible, they don't make you an elite player. Diving for incredible interceptions one game and then being roasted for multiple touchdowns in the Super Bowl doesn't make you great. It makes you inconsistent. It goes beyond his pass coverage abilities, too.

Much has been made of his ability to leap over the center at the start of the snap. This play has been given far too much coverage. He made a good play stopping a run against the Titans last year. It didn't create a turnover, or even stop the Titans. It only made them lose a yard on a goal line play. Later in the year, he did the same thing against the Browns, only to end up face first in the ground on a designed roll out for Colt McCoy. Even on that second play, ESPN hyped it up as showing how great Troy is. I'm stunned that anyone could argue that someone is great for missing a tackle, but that's ESPN for you. Teams let him do this because, as I stated earlier, he has almost no ability to get to the quarterback. He gets his one sack a year because teams don't bother to shift blocking schemes to stop him from blitzing.

Finally, he doesn't tackle properly. He dives for offensive players head first rather than making a form tackle (in fairness, many Steelers defenders play like this because that's what they're taught. That's why the NFL has installed rules stating it will punish teams that continue this behavior). This poor tackling makes for huge hits, highlights, and missed tackles. That's why things like this happen

I'm not arguing that Troy Polamalu sucks. He doesn't. When you look at his entire body of work, you'll realize he's a good safety. Nothing more, nothing less.

-Gus Rafeedie

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Things In Sports I'm Over

Fake Booing
LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU, STUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU, HOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU, YOUUUUUUUUUUK. OMG it's so ironic that you guys sound like you're booing your own player, but wait a second. You're not booing, you're yelling MOOOOOSE, or something else that sounds like boo, but it's totally freaking the opposite. It was clever 10 years ago, now that dozens and dozens of fan-bases do it, it's just tired.

White Outs, Black Outs, C of Red, Etc.
Wearing the same color shirts, or worse, teams giving out the same color shirts, so that everyone in the stands looks unified and matches during the big game. Still in college? Going to a big time college game? Go for it! Pro teams and fans and adults in general, you guys need to stop it.

Evil Empire Haters
Especially Red Sox fans. Stop pretending like you guys are so deprived and depraved. You spend more than every other team in baseball and go out and sign big Free Agents just as much as the Yankees. Examples: Dice-K, Beckett, Lackey, Crawford, Gonzalez. The secret is, you've been doing it for longer than people think with the likes of Mo Vaughn, Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew and so on. I get it that Lester and Bucholz are farm guys, but so are a couple of the Yankees more prominent arms. Stop pretending like it's you and the 28 other teams vs. the Pinstripes, when it's really much more like you and the Yankees vs. world.

I don't know if I can be over something I was never under, but can you believe the MLS is still around? But let's be honest. That is all.