Sunday, January 26, 2014

Zlatan is a Hanna/Jason Bourne/Volvo Driver

I don't speak the language, so I can only rely upon the visuals of the commercial, and the translated summary provided by Volvo on their YouTube page. But I'm pretty sure I can't be the only one who comes away from this advertisement with the feeling that Zlatan Ibrahimović is either some sort of super-spy, or perhaps a villainous boyfriend in the fictional world of Stieg Larsson? Did he date Lisbeth Salander? Did he kill her? Did they meet whilst hunting elk? I DON'T KNOW. Has Zlatan ever had a fourway with Eric Bana and Daniel Craig and a reindeer? I bet a few slash-fiction sites in Sweden are hard at work right now to make it so.

Zlatan, why are you jumping into icy lakes in just your underwear? PSG needs you healthy, man! Let Freddie Ljungberg do that kind of shit. No one cares if he gets hypothermia!

In short...beautifully shot, really weird ad, Volvo. I bet if it were translated into English, I'd still be saying, "Ah, now I understand the voice over. And wow, what a weird ad, Volvo."

Monday, October 14, 2013

What Should Be The New Name?

Seeing an overthrow of "Redskins" as a fait accompli, let the fans of this team make a strategic withdrawal to this critical position:  we had better create a new name, or a terrible anguish will be imposed upon us (see:  Washington Wizards).  Obviously, every jigger of racist iconography must first be stripped from the uniforms and stadium bunting.

It is logical to begin here.  The Washington DC football team wears burgundy and gold, which looks like red and yellow unless you have a really sweet TV.  Preserving this clear, definitive adjective ("red") would go far to appease the fans.  It will feel right to scream, "Hail to the Red-[tbd]," and the uniform colors will still make sense.

Hail to the Red-
shirts, pants, cloaks, backs, necks (oops)
hawks, tails, birds, beasts, dogs, wolves
storm, dawn, wind, stripes, lights, weddings

It seems as if the answer ought to be there, or at least in these neighborhoods.  Yet none fit properly.  Disappointingly, "red" is at once prosaic as well as too particular.  

Keeping the name "Redskins," but transferring the meaning to potatoes is the absolute purest distillation of idiocy.  Not only will nobody know how to spell "potatoes" (the e isn't necessary, but common) and Sam Johnson only knows where that apostrophe might land, but most essentially, rooting for a potato is impossible.  It looks like a turd, it can't impose its will, and the fight song becomes forbearingly fatuous.

Dropping the old name entirely, Washington could grasp for the ephemeral:  a horrid neologism (the Spoiler Alerts), glib meme (the Dougies) or alliteration (see:  Washington Wizards).  

This is the great eschatological and existential danger to fans of the Washington DC professional football team.  Is a future rooting for the Washington Wookies (Disney + Dan Snyder = fusion power) pulchritudinous?  No:  butter face.

May I present, for your consideration ...

Hail to DC Skins, hail victory, Skins on the attack, fight for old DC!

"DC Skins" preserves the suffix, the uniforms remain untouched, and the rhythm of the fight song doesn't change.  Yes, the meaning is a little obtuse.  And yet, what exactly is a laker, or a met, or a brown?

"The Skins" are what we call our team already.  Officially drop "Red" and make sure every last racist iconograph is removed.  This is the most painless answer to this intractable situation.

Or we can wait until some jackass politician grandstands on this issue and we're left rooting for the Washington Boehners.


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Dan Snyder says: "I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name." No he doesn't.

Dan Snyder wrote an open letter to the Washington Drunken Savages Season Ticket holders, in which he again attempts to defend the least defensible name in American professional sports (go ahead, and come up with your second choice. Cleveland Indians, with Chief freakin' Wahoo? I'll give you that as a decent 2nd place).

Let's check out this letter, shall we?

"As loyal fans, you deserve to know that everyone in the Washington Redskins organization -- our players, coaches and staff -- are truly privileged to represent this team and everything it stands for. We are relentlessly committed to our fans and to the sustained long-term success of this franchise."

Hey, that's great! That's got nothing to do whatsoever with the nickname of the franchise, but it is great to hear! I for one am glad to hear that Rex Grossman is relentlessly committed to me, the fan. If I'm honest, I am not that committed to him. But still...good to hear.

"Like so many of you, I was born a fan of the Washington Redskins. I still remember my first Redskins game."

I remember my first and only game. November 21st, 1991. Drunken Savages were 11-0. We lost to Dallas 24-21, and that score was closer than the game was. We went on to win the Super Bowl. I was there for the one home loss the Savages suffered that entire year. It was still an incredible experience.

I also remember, walking up to RFK, in 1991, being surprised that there were Native Americans protesting. I'm not surprised now, because I fucking get it. All the false, fake equivalencies you see out there --The Vikings, the Fighting Irish, etc. You know what you don't see when you walk up to game at their stadiums? Vikings and Irish folks protesting. That's a key difference. And one the Washington Drunken Savages would rather you didn't realize.

"Most people do. I was only six, but I remember coming through the tunnel into the stands at RFK with my father, and immediately being struck by the enormity of the stadium and the passion of the fans all around me."

As a fan, I bet Snyder remembers how the Drunken Savages left RFK and in 1997 moved into a stadium named after Jack Kent Cooke, the recently deceased owner of the team, who had been part of the franchise since 1961.  That's over 35 years of tradition right there. Jack Kent Cooke had been the owner of the team throughout Dan's childhood, adolescence, and whatever part of adulthood he can claim. It took him about 2 seconds to sell that lovely bit of of tradition to the highest bidder. Jack Kent Cooke stadium became FedEx Field as soon as Snyder found a way to make some money. So...tradition.

"I remember how quiet it got when the Redskins had the ball, and then how deafening it was when we scored. The ground beneath me seemed to move and shake, and I reached up to grab my father’s hand. The smile on his face as he sang that song ... he’s been gone for 10 years now, but that smile, and his pride, are still with me every day.

That tradition -- the song, the cheer -- it mattered so much to me as a child, and I know it matters to every other Redskins fan in the D.C. area and across the nation."

Not to be cold, but this irrelevant. Everyone's father dies. The fathers of Baltimore Colts fans have passed away. Fathers of Houston Oilers fans have died. Teams move away, and they change their names, and you know what? Life continues on. A team that stays in the same place and changes its name? It isn't the end of the world.

In Washington DC, if you are 16 years old, you don't remember a time when the Washington Bullets existed. And you know what? Your life is not worse for it. It doesn't matter. A name doesn't matter. Unless it is offensive. Like Redskin.

Dan Snyder's childhood is not more important than the Oneida Nation.

I respect the opinions of those who disagree. I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn. But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name “Redskins” continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.

What. Utter. Bullshit. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

1500 ESPN Represents All Types of Viewpoints

There's a really old grumpy white guy. There's a younger white guy whose facial hair and frown connotes a certain confused toughness. There's a couple of other white guys in the middle.* There's an old white guy with a leather jacket, which means his reactionary conservatism is somehow a cool, rebellious stance**. And photoshopped in, Mike and Mike! When Mike Greenberg (a pretty fantastic douche in his own right), is the one whisper of a minority voice on your banner photo, and you are discussing sports full time, you may wish to think about how you are going about business. Just sayin'.

*I feel a bit bad about that one, as Judd Zulgad, the 3rd white guy from the left, is one of my favorite radio hosts in the Twin Cities. He deserves his job, which necessitates waking up early in the morning, driving to an AM sports station, and having to engage with, for hours at end, Jeff Dubay. I take it back - Zulgad doesn't deserve that at all. He deserves something a bit better.

**To be clear, that isn't supposition. That's Joe Soucheray, host of Garage Logic, and he's tough as fucking nails! He's an angry, leathery Ward Cleaver, complaining, for example, about how single moms are ruining society. Seriously. A couple of months ago, he made that argument. A couple of months ago!

Friday, July 26, 2013

It's Been a Long Twins Season for the Production Crew, Too

Felix Hernandez pitching. All-Star. Commanding, 3 hits over 8 innings performance. Twins Killer. His name happens to not be Pedro. But, you know, close enough.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Corey Brewer is Coming Back, Y'all!

The Timberwolves definitely seem to be putting together something that actually looks like a plan. After the draft that a lot of local guys didn't like, but I did (seriously, watch out for Lorenzo Brown!*), the Wolves did something that we haven't seen in many a year - paying a reasonable amount of money for free agents who fit the needs of the team.

With the re-signing of Chase Budinger and the grabbing of Kevin Martin, the Wolves have secured a couple of guys who know and love Rick Adelman's system, and play well in it. Losing Kirilenko is somewhat annoying, but seeing as he ended up taking millions upon millions less dollars to play in Brooklyn, it is safe that the Wolves couldn't have done anything to keep him. Very good basketball writers (as opposed to reactionaries that live on radio and daily fishwraps) started getting worried that the Wolves had gained offense but had lost way too much from an already shoddy defense.

So, one freakishly skinny defensive dervish gone; let's get a new one, and the Wolves did that in bringing back IDYFT Favorite Corey Brewer. He doesn't have AK's game on the offensive side, no doubt. Brewer is a career .416 shooter from the field, and a very pedestrian/bad .298 from the three point line. He's a bit of a spaz, to be honest. But I love the guy.

He plays defense on the perimeter and causes nightmares for opposing small forwards/shooting guards. He's 6' 9", with a wingspan closer to 7'. He's got quick feet. He sometimes gambles too much on passing lanes, in part because he's so good at getting in those passing lanes that he over-commits. He's a terror on the perimeter, and has the span and speed to block what looked to be uncontested lay-ups. I love having Corey Brewer back on my team. I never wanted him to leave it.

A lot of Wolves fans were borderline outraged when the news hit Corey was coming back, but they aren't getting what Corey is being brought in to do. He's not here to score. That's what Kevin Martin is for. Corey is back in Minnesota to play perimeter defense, cause turnovers, and be a great locker room guy. There's a reason that the Denver Nuggets (who won 26 more games than the Wolves did last year) played the guy 24 minutes per game. He's gotten better at his role. And he's got some pretty impressive stats to bring along back with him to Minnesota.

Corey was Top 10 in steals per turnovers (he'll be joining another underrated Top 10 guy from that list in Dante Cunningham). Corey was just one spot below Josh Smith in points scored per 48 minutes last year. Again, I can't call him efficient, exactly, but I think he's more efficient than his shooting percentage suggests.

Essentially, for the $11 million that AK opted out of, the Wolves got Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer. That's weird...that's Timberwolves math that MAKES SENSE.

And hey, for small market teams who feel like they can't get free agents - it is amazing what a respected coach and GM can do for you. I don't think any of these guys sign without the Adelman/Flip combo running the show. (Sorry, Kahn, you crazy bastard, you undoubtedly made free agents more expensive).

Oh, also, the Wolves signed Ronny Turiaf, which gives them a center trio of Pekovic, rookie Dieng, and Turiaf. That's as good of a trio one can ask for at the Neglected 5 in the NBA.

But back to Brewer. I'm looking forward to more of this:

 *I'm saying that as the guy who liked Pekovic before anyone knew who he was, not as the guy who was against trading OJ Mayo for Kevin Love on draft night.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Another Analysis of the Wolves Draft, By Another Person Who Doesn't Know That Much

The mood around the Twin Cities today was a fairly dark one, after Flip Saunders and the Timberwolves traded down and selected Shabazz Muhammad at #14 in the NBA Draft. How dark? Let's go to the Star Tribune's Jim Souhan:  "Muhammad makes Kris Humphries look like Magic Johnson." I don't think that's accurate, if one can figure out if Souhan actually means that comparison, or whether he's been hyperbolic in that funny and helpful way that sportswriters like to be. But we can at least agree that it wasn't meant to complimentary, yeah? (For the record, I've had an up-and-down (in a non-sexual way) relationship with Souhan)

Every local media analyst seems pretty convinced the Wolves made a huge mistake. But there's a couple of problems with that, problems that have very little to do with how good Muhammad will be as an NBA player.

The first problem is that this wasn't a great draft. Everyone said so. There wasn't a guaranteed impact player in the bunch. Nerlens Noel, the guy everyone thought was going to be Top 2 fell to #6, and Anthony Bennett, a guy most people had sliding down the board went #1. There wasn't even a consensus Top 2. That's rare.

So, in a draft like that, how upset can anyone get? How can it go from "This draft doesn't feature a ton of talent, so it's kinda anyone's guess" to "OH MY GOD THE WOLVES HAVE REALLY SCREWED UP THIS TIME". (See MPR's Newsman Bob Collins' Twitter feed to see how little I'm exaggerating that). I'm not sure when CJ McCollum magically transformed from an undersized, injury-prone two-guard to the Savior of the Franchise, but that's the player most of these guys feel like we should have gotten.

The second problem is the bigger one in my mind, especially for those of us who listen to the experts on the radio, read their columns in the newspaper (they still print those!) and assume, because they are in the media, that they have some insight that we don't. Sometimes they do - particularly the inside politicking of a franchise. KFAN host Dan Barreiro and Star Trib Wolves writer Jerry Zgoda had a quick Twitter exchange in which it was clear that both had been told that Muhammad was not going to be a member of the Wolves. They had inside dope, but it was wrong, or rather the circumstances changed to make Muhammad a reasonable pick-up (namely, getting a second first-rounder to go along with him). But when it comes to evaluating talent, when it comes to judging ability, these experts on the radio and in the newspaper aren't any better at it than the average schmo.

They are often rather brazen about it. This morning on KFAN's morning show, with Paul Allen and Paul Charchian (a veritable nexus of credulous boobery, as has been discussed previously), they were "analyzing" Shabazz Muhammad's game, and both admitted they were basing it on some limited information. How limited? Paul Allen was basing everything he was saying on the one game that UCLA played against the Gophers in the NCAA's. Charchian was going off what he saw on YouTube. FOR REAL. Without doing a lick of work, I have researched Muhammad's game more thoroughly than the guys paid to talk about it? By watching 2 UCLA games last year? Incredible. Jim Souhan's article is more of the same.

Hell, Britt Robson, a basketball writer I love to no end, basically admitted to be working off completely received knowledge, because he doesn't watch college basketball. To his credit, Robson also points out that anyone thinking this draft was the Most Important Thing ever are kinda crazy.

Sometimes, they are just outright wrong. I can't believe these sentences are still up on the St. Paul Pioneer Press website, for example. Tom Powers writes the following about Muhammad: "And it was discovered that his birth certificate was purposely falsified and that he really was a year older than everyone thought. That's a big deal when you're a teen and able to dominate younger kids."

That's just factually wrong. His birth certificate was not falsified. It was his birth certificate that lead the LA Times to conclude that Muhammad's age was incorrect in the UCLA media guide. Finding this out takes about 30 seconds of Googling, which Tom Powers just doesn't have time for, because he's too busy not doing anything resembling basic research. Why should facts be important to a member of the media? I guess budgets cuts mean that Tom Powers, who was/is/will always be a Stupid Fat Fuck is allowed to write whatever he wants. And I'm not really sure how it is that big of an advantage Muhammad got all through his years in basketball, playing against people younger and older than him throughout high school and college. Was he beating up 10 year-olds on the court when he was sixteen? Nope. Again, Tom Powers is a Stupid Fat Fuck, who could maybe get sued for getting this very, very basic fact of the story so very wrong.

So, with that said, here are more observations from a person who doesn't know that much more than you do about the Wolves picks, but probably just as much as anyone else you've listened to (aside from the crazy people who run the full time Wolves blogs like Canis Hoopus or A Wolf Among Wolves - those guys use analysis and shit. (that sounded mocking. it wasn't. I love those blogs. They make charts, and I don't know how to do that)).

#14 - Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA). Perhaps one of the more divisive picks of the entire draft, leaving aside #1 Anthony Bennett, which made Bill Simmons poop himself a little, and Noel falling down to #6. Muhammad is a bit of a conundrum. But without getting into all the stats, he is a good to great midrange shooter, and was 42% from the three-point line in his one year at UCLA. The Wolves were the worst three-point shooting team in the league, needing to get hot at the end of the year to get above 30%. For every person who says he lacks a work ethic, there's another person who will swear up and down that he works as hard as anyone. For every critic who says he's a black hole on  offense, and points to his terrible assists numbers at UCLA, there's a proponent who points out that his job was to shoot, not pass. My guess is that between Ricky, KLOVE, Rick Adelman, Shabazz will get sorted out in that regard. He's great in transition, but some folks worry that his high scoring percentage in transition means he's terrible in the half-court. Not from what I've seen. On a team where he'll be coming off the bench for at least his first year, if not first two, he'll be asked to do what he does well, which is score. He needs to work on his defense, but his cause there will actually be aided by the Wolves 2nd First Round pick:

#21 - Gorgui Dieng (Louisville). He's already the press' preferred first round pick (He loves cold weather!). Quick aside - remember when people argued that David Kahn screwed up terribly by drafting Ricky Rubio, because he'd never come here, because the winters are too damn cold? No? IT HAPPENED. I like Dieng, too. Here's why I like him - I have watched a ton of Big East Basketball (oh, and I hate Louisville), and I watched Dieng transform himself from awkward tall guy who could block shots into a much more complete player. He can absolutely block shots - his timing and wingspan (Jay Bilas says,"drink!") are a great combination. But over the past couple of years, he's learned to pass well, often triggering plays on the baseline from the top of the key. He's limited offensively, but he's learned that at his height, he just needs to go up aggressively to make a difference. He reads the floor extremely well. He's just a smart player, who is still learning and willing to do so. The Wolves haven't had a great shot blocker since Kevin Garnett. Dieng will provide a defense in the paint not predicated on taking charges, and we can applaud that, as taking charges is the kind of bullshit stat that the Joe Smith's and Shane Battier's of the world got their money. And with a shot-blocker in the middle, maybe Muhammad's perimeter defense doesn't have to be spectacular right off the bat. Put them on the floor together, and let Muhammad just filter his man into the middle into the waiting, go-go-Gadget arms of Gorgui. And it should be noted I haven't seen a player who doesn't appear at least 25% better offensively just by being on the court with Ricky Rubio (see Derrick Williams). Gorgui better like alley-oops (spoiler: he does)

#52 - Lorenzo Brown (NC State). I wish I could say I was shocked that Brown was still there at #52, but there's one thing College Basketball doesn't lack, and it is athletes. The fact that Rodney Williams of Minnesota and Khalif Wyatt of Temple are both signing free agent deals speaks to that. But I have watched a lot of Lorenzo Brown, more than any talking head in the Twin Cities, and I'm here to tell you that this kid is going to be something. He's a steal here. And I think he'll contribute right away - he's a tall-ish combo guard (6' 5") who gives the Wolves some options outside of the Short Combo of Luke Ridnour and feisty but annoyingly inconsistent JJ Barea. While not crazy explosive (no one the Wolves picked will be in the Dunk Contest) he's athletic enough to finish at the basket. He's not a great shooter, but the Wolves system is probably just fine with that at the moment, considering that their plan seems to be to run a traditional point. But I really can't wait for this kid's first steal and dunk in transition. I don't think I'll have to wait long.

#59 - Bojan Dubljevic - Essentially, no one in America outside of Pro Scouts know a thing about this guy. I'll just link to DraftExpress and leave it at that.

In my mind, the Wolves got three guys who will contribute something pretty much right away. They won't be starters - this wasn't a starters kind of draft. But they got three players who are worthy of more optimism than is being sent their way currently, particularly at the local level. (notable exception: the aforementioned geeks at A Wolf Among Wolves).

It wasn't a tranformative moment, but Michael Jordan wasn't in this draft. The Wolves did just fine, in my humble opinion. And at the very least, I know more about that Tom Powers, who is still just a stupid fat fuck.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Goodell Gets Involved in the Redskins Debate and Gets It Wrong

I really was going to leave the issue with the Redskins alone for awhile. I made it just over a month. But to be fair, I wasn't expecting the Commissioner of the NFL to step into quite the way he did today. I guess members of Congress (including the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus) forced his hand by sending a letter asking for him to step in and get that racist ass name changed. But to respond as dully as he did? That caught me off-guard, for some reason. I don't why I'm surprised that Goodell finds new ways to disappoint--I guess I assume he doesn't have an infinite resource of ways to screw up, but perhaps he does.

(Side note: High Schools in Idaho know what the right thing to do is.)

I doubt the letter reflects his own true personal beliefs, but since he has taken the job of carrying the owners' water, and has maybe elevated into art that particular profession, he's stuck here with a terribly lackluster defense of the most terrible nickname in the world of sports (and I'm including the Swiss Professional Soccer League's "Young Boys").

Let's get to that letter (dutifully published by Indian Country Today). I'll start off by noting you may have heard these arguments in some form recently. They feel very recycled from the Washington Drunken Savages PR department - even the wording sounds pretty familiar. So if you've been following this story closely, there may not be much new for you here. Goodell's letter is in the italic maroon script. My commentary interspersed in the boring ol' black and regular script.

In our view, a fair and through discussion of the issue must begin with an understanding of the roots of the Washington franchise and the Redskins name in particular. As you may know, the team began as the Boston Braves in 1932, a name that honored the courage and heritage of Native Americans. The following year, the name was changed to the Redskins, in part to avoid confusion with the Boston baseball team of the same name, but also to honor the team’s then-head coach, William “Lone Star” Dietz. Neither in intent nor use was the name ever meant to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group. 

There's a couple of things going on in this paragraph that I would like to address. It should be noted, LOUDLY, that the brains behind the name change was then owner George Marshall. Marshall was, by any objective measure, a racist. This isn't some charge coming out of some corner of the internet. It is well-known that he resisted integrating his team - they were the last team to add black players, years upon years after the rest of the league had already done so. I don't know about you, but I don't find racists to be racist toward just one particular race. They tend to have opinions about all the races. Maybe George Marshall disliked black people, but LOVED Native Americans, and couldn't wait to honor them. That's possible. It seems unlikely, however.

(beside the point, but maybe worth pointing out that research suggests that Dietz's Native background may be fiction)

But the real nutty sentence in that first paragraph is that last one. One can argue "intent" all day long, but in "use", intent is out the window. It doesn't really matter that the name was never "meant" to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group. The fact of the matter is that it does. No one has ever argued that Dan Snyder hits his pillow every night dreaming of new ways to make Native American children cry...but the result of the name is that it does. In preparing to write this response, I've read story after story about Native children playing for a team with an Indian mascot, and just how often their own personal nickname becomes "Redskin" or "Redman". It isn't fair to anyone,  but even more so to a child, to have themselves compared to cartoons and caricatures based on race. No one cares about "intent" or what "Redskins" was supposed to mean. The effects are what matter. Goodell, I suspect, knows this.

[Above] The honoring of Native Americans. 

The Washington Redskins name has thus from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context. For the team’s millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America’s most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.

You can't separate a word from its origin just because you want to. If I started up a new football team, and paid my $500,000,000 franchise fee and convinced some community to buy me a stadium, and did all my legwork, and then announced that I was taking back the word "Chink" on behalf of all Asians (non-Chinese get called Chink, you know), and the best way to do that was to name my team the St. Paul Chinks, I'd get some blowback, even if I asserted that the St. Paul Chinks "represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context." Good to know that Commissioner Goodell would be right there to defend my ideals, and allow me to rescue "Chinks" from negative connotation, just by naming a football team after that particular racist term. I would be a hero! Never mind that I am white, and my entire management team is white, and I'm maybe actually attempting to race bait. I'm A HERO! Go, St. Paul CHINKS!

The word "redskin" isn't just historical (that's a mistake that both defenders and protesters of the name make). The word is contemporary. It may not be in the high schools on the central East Coast, where so few Native Americans are to be found, but again, one of the things that struck me as I read background on this issue is that it is a profoundly personal issue for Native Americans who are against the name - "redskin" was the word they were bullied with. The name they were called on the basketball court, or in their school hallways. The racist overtone of the word isn't in some distant past when whites were collecting scalps (though it was certainly there. I think people are still blown away when they are presented with Frank L. Baum's words on the subject). In Minnesota, in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Montana, Washington - there are kids being mocked for their race and the kids who are calling them that might well argue that they aren't being racist. How can it be racist, if there's an NFL team called that? And that's a legitimate question.

As for "Redskin" being positive, because the Redskins stand for strength, courage, pride and respect? It seems Goodell doesn't know that racism can be expressed as appreciating positives. Doesn't he have a buddy who creeps him out when he says, "Man, I really dig Asian chicks." I thought every white dude had that friend.

Maybe he missed Reggie White's legendary talk at the WI legislature? Or maybe he would agree it was alright to suggest that all Asians are good at engineering and can turn a "television into a watch." Going by Goodell's letter, he would certainly not argue that Reggie was being racist - he was clearly "honoring" Asians, right? No disparagement meant, therefore it is OK, right? Not every single Native American wants to be known for their tough warrior spirit, as it turns out. Some Native Americans are writers, artists..they may not be able to run through the forest twice as quick as a white man, or shoot an arrow at all! Screw those nerdy Indians (who often get called super-racist shit when they voice their concerns, by the way. I've seen "mud people" bandied about on forums like you wouldn't believe).

Importantly, this positive meaning is shared by the overwhelming majority of football fans and Americans generally, including Native Americans. (Attached as examples are recent remarks from Chief Steven Dodson, an American Inuit chief and resident of Prince Georges [sic] County, Maryland, and recently retired Chief Robert Green of the Patawomeck Tribe of Virginia.) Indeed, the most recent detailed survey of Native Americans, conducted by the independent and highly respected Annenberg Public Policy Center, found that fewer than 10% considered the name objectionable. Among the general public, an Associated Press survey conducted just two months ago found that only 11% felt it should be changed. 

The number of things wrong with those polls are legion, and I couldn't possibly explain them all. Luckily, I don't have to. Overall badass Suzan Shown Harjo has done it for us all.

The inclusion of "Chief" Steven Dodson in the letter seems to have struck a chord with both the reporters at Indian Country Times and in particularly, one of the readers (Geddes Lindsay) of Indian Country Times:

I'm Stephen's uncle...We are Aleut, not Inuit and he is 1/4, not full, as his mother, my sister, is only a half. Stephen isn't a "chief" but in the Air Force that was his nickname, as it was my brother's nickname in the Marine Corp. I'm not even sure Stephen has been to Alaska...I have no problem with Stephen expressing his views or standing up for what he believes in, but let's keep it honest. We were all raised in the mid-west, in Oklahoma..I personally find the Redskins name offensive, but we don't always agree on things like this. I know some Indians that aren't offended by the Redskins name and more still that are. The fact remains that it is a racial slur and therefore wrong in my opinion.

Public opinion aside, the Washington Redskins name has been confirmed in a legal context. When the matter was considered by the D.C. federal district court, the judge ruled against the plaintiffs and recognized that the name was been used by the team in a respectful manner. As I understand it, this ruling reversed the decision that informed the basis for the registration denials mentioned in your letter. 

Now, we are getting to an area that Goodell knows - look at him flexing his law muscles. But this seems mostly a PR move, as the law is one that Congress could (but is unlikely to) change. From what I know about that case, he's also being a bit disingenuous as to what the court found. If memory serves, what the court found, initially, was the people who brought the case to the court had waited too long to be offended (that's actually a concern in trademark law). There's a new case working its way right now, one that has yet to be decided. The Washington Redskins, it turns out, are still offending young Native Americans. Who knew?  

As you correctly recognize, the issued raised with respect to the Washington Redskins name are complex and we respect that reasonable people may view it differently, particularly over time. But we hope that there is no doubt that the team understandably is proud of its heritage and the culturally rich community it serves, and its fans understandably are highly attached to that history and the team’s history. The National Football League takes seriously its responsibility to exemplify the values of diversity and inclusion that make our nation great. To that end, please be assured that we are committed to working with the team, this Caucus and others to continue to reinforce the many positive attributes represented by the team’s name and marks.

Speaking of history, I almost lost my mind a few weeks back when reading the comment section in an article posted to ProFootballTalk about this issue, and read a comment from pathsovglory that read, "'As a citizen of Norwegian decent [sic], I demand that the state of Minnesota change their football teams [sic] name to better represent a more open and accepting term. “Vikings” is an offensive and derogatory term that blatantly assumes all people of Scandinavian descent are ruthless savages. And I take great exception to that.' Yes, it is the same thing.”

No, it ain't. But it does explain the mentality of a whole lot of white folks. They see Vikings and Indians as part of the same ancient back-story. There are descendants of actual Vikings living in Minnesota, I'm sure. There are actual Native Americans living in Minnesota, too. The Swedes in Minnesota have never protested the Minnesota Vikings. The Redskins meet their biggest protest crowds when they come to play in Minnesota. There's a difference between historical figures from across an ocean and 800 years ago, and Native Americans, here and present. Seems obvious to me.

With all due respect to the fatuous waste of space that is Commissioner Goodell, it isn't a complex issue. The NFL has thrown "heritage" and "tradition" out the window whenever it has served it's financial goals to do so. Ask the fans of Baltimore Colts, or Cleveland Browns, or Houston Oilers, or any number of other teams about what their pride in their tradition meant to their owners when there were dollars to be made.

So Dan Snyder, Roger Goodell and all of the apologists can stack up "positive attributes" like cord wood - the name is still racist.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Ongoing Vikings Stadium Funding Issue Just Got Weird

If you have followed the news here in beautiful Minnesota, you'll know that the State's share of the stadium cost is supposed to come from some increased gambling revenues. If you have followed the news a little bit more closely, you'll know that those revenues (shockingly) have not been coming in the way the State projected them to.

There's sadly nothing new about a private ownership group wrangling a sweetheart deal from the public. There's nothing new about that public entity finding out that the funding isn't quite coming along as nicely as they had hoped, or extending their estimates for how long it will take pay off the public's share.

So what makes today's announcement special? Because Governor Dayton got in there, and made it weird:   Dayton Says He Has Secret Plan For Secure Stadium Funding. And no, that link does not go to The Onion. I wish it did.

When asked about his secret plan, Dayton said he didn't want to ruin the surprise. Also, he said that whatever his secret plan is, it is "something you've never imagined", and that it wouldn't increase the Vikings stake.

Given the ridiculous ideas that have been thrown out there to get this stadium funding, the very idea that there is something, anything out there that hasn't been imagined is really hard to believe. The State House just passed a bill that paves the way for gay marriage - maybe Dayton is going to tax lavish ceremonies?

In all seriousness, the legislature is running out of time to come up with any fix before their session ends. Given the complexity of the issue, and Dayton's fairly earned reputation for being a somewhat lovable kook, to say that a Last Minute Funding Surprise should fill folks with trepidation seems like a bit of an undersell. Stay tuned, y'all.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Derby Day Analysis and Wagers

The 7/2 morning line favorite was Orb.
The Kentucky Derby is almost always a wide-open affair. Changes in the qualifying process have made it even less predictable in 2013.

Most years, the field has at least a couple of sprinters that won a graded stakes race at six furlongs and qualified based on those results. Frequently, you could count on them to charge to the front and set quick fractions before tiring and allowing late-running closers to overtake them in the stretch. The fact that those type of horses didn’t make the field this year makes picking the race 'shape' somewhat more difficult.

This field is not exactly slow, but there is no obvious speed demon that you expect to set the pace. Most analysts think that Falling Sky will take the lead outright or duel with Goldencents. I believe that Verrazano might go to the front early but even if he doesn’t, he should be close to or on the lead coming into the final turn. Oxbow and Itsmyluckyday should be right there. Larry Collmus will thunder, “and DOWN the stretch they come,” and just about anything might happen.

Conventional wisdom says that if there is a fight for the lead and the fractions are fast, it sets up well for Normandy Invasion (7:1), Orb (7:1), and current favorite Revolutionary (5:1).

If the leader hits 1/2 mile marker at 48+ seconds, it’s more likely that Goldencents (6:1), Verrazano (9:1 from a 4:1 ML), or Itsmyluckyday (9:1) can hold off their late running challengers.

In a field this open, the best bet is to look for value and play whatever angles you can. With that in mind, I present my $101 in bets for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

$1 Exacta: 8, 9, 14, 16 over 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 [Cost $32]

I’m leaving chic-picks Revolutionary and Normandy Invasion out of all my wagers. Both have to come from the behind a crowded field on a day that might be rainy. While Calvin Borel has made a name from himself doing exactly that at Churchill, I’m going to hope that this is the year his luck runs out. Leaving those horses out should guarantee at least a push in any combination and could pay nicely if one of the bombs gets up for second.

Fall down Normandy Invasion! Fall down Revolutionary!

$1 Exacta box: 6, 9, 10, 12, 18 [Cost $20]

The longish-shot express. Any winning combination here should pay handsomely.

$.50 Partial Trifecta Key: 8, 16 / 8, 12, 14, 16, / 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20 [Cost $12]

I don’t really want to bet a trifecta – difficult to hit and expensive - but with the $.50 option available I’ll splash for Orb and Goldencents on top of my usual suspects.

$8 to place on the 18; $8 to place on the 20 (Frac Daddy and Vyjack) [Cost $16]

Sometimes funny things happen with place totes. If the top two finishers are both long shots, they split the place money and the payouts can be almost as lucrative as win bets. If either of these hit, this ticket should pay for the rest of the wagers.

$8 to win on the 8 [Cost $8]

Hmmm. I guess that means I think the douchey-double of Rick Pitino and Doug O’Neill are going to win. Oh well. Kevin Krigger seems like a pretty good dude.

$3 to win on the 6, 10, 14 and 16 [Cost $12]

The jockey wagers. A little love for Rosie Napravnik, Mike Smith, John Velazquez, and Joel Rosario. If everything else goes pear-shaped, these give me a final chance to cash at least one ticket.

$1 superfecta on the 8, 18, 10, 14 [Cost $1]

Might as well swing for the fences: Goldencents finds a stalking trip on the rail and takes the lead from Verrazano at the turn for home. Palice Malice makes a move from 6 lengths back to briefly challenge but Goldencents finds another gear and gets it done. A hard-charging Frac Daddy passes a tiring Verrazano and noses out Palice Malice in a photo to take second. Book it, Dano.


Garwood B. Jones’ In-a-pinch Mint Julep:

  1. Fill glass with (crushed) ice
  2. Pour to top with bourbon
  3. Stir with a candy cane (there’s probably one in your Christmas decorations)
Mmm… that’s good julep. 

the 2013 Screed: For Real - "Redskins" Has To Go, If Just To Stop Bullshit Like This

For anyone new to this here blog (which is hard to imagine, as updating has been spotty at best), you should know that the two most frequent writers on this here blog are passionate fans of the American Football club located outside Washington DC. We have long argued, since this blog came online 2006, that the time has come to change the name of the Washington Football team. We skipped the annual screed in 2012, but in 2011, I wrote this (if I may quote myself):

Let's be clear--Redskin is a pejorative.  It's a fucking insult.  If you call a Native American a "redskin", I recommend that you be very, very, very good friends with that fucker.  Because if you are just casual friends, calling him or her that will result in you getting your ass kicked, or (at best) relegated to Dumb White Person Status.  TV comedy has mined jokes about White people being overly comfortable with Black Friends, until they say something like, "Oh man, you are my nigger."  And then there is a record-scratch noise, and the friendship takes a detour.  Go ahead, friends...track down your casual Native American acquaintance and call him or her "Redskin."  Oh wait--you don't have any Native friends, or acquaintances, or co-workers?  It's not your fault.  It's called Genocide, and it happened well before you were born. But just because there aren't any Native Americans in your workplace, or on your list of Facebook friends, doesn't mean they are not out there. They are! They watch TV. Unless they are on one of those Reservations that still doesn't have reliable electricity.

In the past 12 months or so, it seems that some bigger-time type bloggers have come around on this issue in pretty big-time fashion (welcome to the argument, Deadspin!) Which is great. Though they do sometimes get the origin wrong. No offense to Deadspin's Barry Petchesky, who is doing great work over there, but this intro sentence is not accurate: "Because the Redskins are relevant again, the periodic controversy about their use of a racial slur as a team name has flared up again." The controversy is not periodic; it is always there (like I said, we've been talking about it here for the past seven years). The fact that the Drunken Savages are relevant means that white people are paying attention again--"relevant" is a subjective assessment. Native folks never stopped paying attention.

Anyway, let's knock out the 2013 Screed by destroying some stupid ass column, OK? Thanks again to Deadspin (this time Tom Ley, who also does great work. Deadspin is good again, y'all. It was bad for awhile, but it is good again) I was made aware of this Washington Times editorial.

And let's be clear - the Washington Times is barely a newspaper. It is the conservative daily polemical of the Unification Church, aka The Moonies. But it is treated like a major paper, and people who have worked there have somehow graduated into real journalistic gigs, so...let's get to it. The issue that has raised the hackles of the conservatives (and when did "conservative" become "automatically defending racist shit", anyway?) is a DC Councilman named David Grosso putting forth an obviously non-binding resolution condemning the use of the word "Redskin". Which is, again, a word no non-Native person should use, ever. Grosso's suggested replacement is "Redtails", which would honor the Tuskegee Airmen, and allow the continued use of the Redskin feather. OK? You all caught up now?

The editorial begins with:

"We should put aside concerns about crime, decrepit schools, perpetual parking and traffic chaos and an unending series of corruption scandals in the District of Columbia government. The D.C. Council is poised to decide what a private business should call itself."

Non-binding resolution. The DC Council has no power to make a private business rename itself. It is a suggestion. Also, crime, decrepit schools, perpetual parking, traffic chaos, and corruption scandals can't be fixed with a name change. "The Washington Redskins" can be. The problem of the Washington Redskins can be fixed in, quite literally, seconds. Dan Snyder says, "let's change the name" and the name is changed. Boom. Done. No massive rebuilding of infrastructure needed.

David Grosso, an “independent” at-large councilman, says he will introduce a resolution demanding that Dan Snyder change the name of his Washington Redskins to the “Washington Redtails,” presumably to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, the black fighter pilots who wrote tales of heroism across the skies above World War II battlefields. The tails of their planes were painted red, and they terrorized the enemy like a linebacker going after a running back.

This paragraph is just to highlight the little tricks the Washington Times works - David Grosso is a self-identified independent. By putting "independent" in quotes, the Times suggests that he isn't really one, that he is some shadowy liberal, because only liberals give a shit about this stupid human rights bullshit. It is also curious that they say that Grosso chose Redtails because he meant "presumably to honor the Tuskegee Airmen", when that language is taken directly out of his resolution. There is no "presumably" about it. That's exactly what he wants to do. Love the choice, hate the choice - don't pretend that isn't what he is doing. It is exactly what he is doing.

Hold on to your hats, it is about to get real stupid.

Mr. Grosso, a composer yet, says the team’s popular anthem can be easily modified — “Hail to the Redtails” — and “you can still keep the feather.” Hooray. But if “Redskins” demeans Indians, why wouldn’t “Redtails” demean fighter pilots?

Let's ignore the fact that you don't have to be a composer to replace one two syllable word with another. Read that last sentence again. It is almost a parody. If Stephen Colbert said it, you would laugh with him, about what a ridiculous caricature of conservative thought it is. And yet, here it is, for real - they mean that. They don't get the difference between a fighter squadron being identified and celebrated by the color of their planes and millions upon millions of people being identified, killed, re-educated, raped, forced abortions and sterilization, forced to live in a desert with no water, and in general being discriminated against over and over again. There is literally no difference, in their mind.

Mr. Grosso might not know that “Redskins,” as they have been called for 80 years, was actually adopted to honor its second coach, Lone Star Dietz, who was descended from American Indians, before “Indians” became “Native Americans” (which is what most of us are).

Something being called something for 80 years is not a good enough reason to keep calling that something by that name. Ask the NCAA about that one. They have cracked down on Native American mascots, and you know what? The NCAA is doing just fine. And if you honor one man with your nickname, but insult hundreds of thousands of current Native American Indians, you know what? The balance ain't great.

This issue bubbles and squeaks from time to time because certain politicians are more concerned with getting their names in the newspapers than with the pain of the masses who are not offended by a name honoring the bravery and fighting spirit of the original Americans.

Read this again - the pain of the masses who aren't offended. Goddamn, I sure do want this editorial board to meet Suzan Shown Harjo.

Let me ask this question - what's the 2nd most offensive name in professional sports? Is there a close second? Can you think of a team name that offends you, even if the Redskins name doesn't offend you? If you can't think of one, guess what? The Redskins have the most offensive name. They have the ONLY offensive name in the NFL. Why is this an issue? 31 teams found a name that doesn't make Native People upset or some white people cringe. No other team in the NFL has this issue.

And listen - white people have always loved honoring the "bravery and fighting spirit of the original Americans". That's nothing new. Frank L. Baum, of the Oz books, wrote something painfully similar, more than 100 years ago: 

History would forget these latter despicable beings, and speak, in later ages of the glory of these grand Kings of forest and plain...but we at least do justice to the manly characteristics possessed, according to their lights and education, by the early Redskins of America.

That's the mindset from which Redskin sprung. Does it sound racist? Maybe it does, because it is painfully racist. Baum, by the way, was advocating the extermination of the Native American.

Back to the editorial:

A manufactured controversy over the name of a football team is a convenient way to direct attention away from scandal and sordid behavior. He should leave the management of the Redskins to those who actually know what they’re doing.

Manufactured controversy? FUCK YOU, Washington Times editorial. Really, fuck you. Up and down. Read something, ANYTHING, about life on the Reservations. Will changing the name of a football team change the radical poverty on the reservations? No, of course not. But it will signal to  Native Americans that White America isn't going to insult them just for the hell of it. That is starting to take Native America seriously, and that they aren't cartoons, or mascots, but FUCKING PEOPLE. That would mean a lot. And it is a simple fix. Why would anyone fight it?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

America's Got Lobo Fever!

It's called canine parvovirus, and it can be deadly.  Seriously, immunize your puppies. 

Symptoms include diarrhea, lethargy and loss of appetite.  It was easy to observe these symptoms during UNM's upset loss to Harvard.

Bro, I'm so sleepy

New Mexico plays basketball the way it does everything else:  in a toilet swirl of laziness and incompetence.  It took me three weeks and two trips to Santa Fe to buy a pair of shoes. 


Thursday, February 07, 2013

What to Make of College Basketball (Part 1 of at least 1)

On this eve of buzzer beaters and surprising winners, and yet another #1 team going down, let's talk about the Top 3 in college basketball, shall we? If you've only been paying attention since the Super Bowl, you may well be befuddled by what you are seeing in the Top 25. Or, if you are watching the Saint Mary's vs. Santa Clara tilt (like I am) you may have been surprised to hear the commentators mention in passing that fellow WCC team Gonzaga may well be in the Top 5 by next Monday.

"Hey, Gonzaga is a fine team," you may be thinking, "but Top 5?"

Kelly Olynyk
And you may be thinking that before you even see their player who recently garnered some WCC Player of the Week honors, Kelly Olynyk. "Hey, that guy looks like a giant version of that kid from "'Dazed and Confused'," you might say. Yeah, he does. And, he's fuckin' Canadian. And he's seven feet tall, so you know...that helps.

But I've gotten off track a bit. Let's look at Top 3 teams from various points in the season, and let's state something really obvious that basketball writers can't stop saying: There is no Kentucky of last year. You'll remember Kentucky last year? They had like 6 guys go in the NBA draft, and if you didn't have them in your Final Four last year, you were an idiot.

There is not a single team, right now, that anyone can mock you for excluding from the Final Four, or the Elite 8, and possibly even the Sweet 16. There may not be a single team that you can write down, in ink, as a 2 game winner in the Big Dance. Which is exciting, but undeniably a little odd.

I'm going to focus on the top 3, in general, but let's take a quick look at a team a bit further down in the pre-season poll. UNLV was ranked #18 in the nation as the season began. UNLV is now #5 in the Mountain West at 4-4. I believe, in general, that the Mountain West is good enough to send 3 or 4, or maybe, just maybe 5 teams to the Dance - but certainly UNLV with back-to-back losses to Boise State and Fresno State is not that team. Meanwhile, New Mexico, who received 9 votes in the same preseason poll that gave UNLV 488 votes, is now #15. So, there's the season in a microcosm. But let's look, like I said, at the Top 3.

Preseason Poll: #1 - Indiana  #2 Louisville  #3 Kentucky
Week 2: same.
Week 3: Kentucky drops out, #3 Ohio State
Week 4: Louisville drops out after losing, Ohio St drops without losing. #2 Duke, #3 Michigan
Week 5: same: Indiana, Duke, Michigan
Week 6: same (12/10/12)
Week 7: Duke, Michigan, Syracuse (first appearance for the Orange)
Week 8: Duke, Michigan, Arizona (PAC-10? WHAT?)
Week 9: same (simple: undefeated teams in the ACC, Big 10, and PAC 10. It won't last)
Week 10: Duke, Michigan, Louisville (Louisville supplants Arizona without Arizona losing)
Week 11: In the pre-season poll, 3 teams received votes for #1. For the majority of the weeks between then and this moment, 2 teams received votes for #1. This week? 5 teams. Things aren't getting clarified. They are getting messier. #1 Louisville, #2 Indiana, #3 Duke
Week 12: Duke, Michigan, Kansas
Week 13: Michigan, Kansas, Indiana (this was about the time people starting saying, "Rather than retread the same teams over and over again, how about this super tough Florida team, at #4 that's destroying the SEC and is 16-2, with one of the losses to #8 Arizona?)
Week 14: Indiana, Florida, Michigan -that's where we are now in the ranking system, and spoiler alert: both Indiana and Florida have lost since this poll came out.

If I'm counting right, that's almost a dozen teams that have enjoyed the Top 3 spots. And that's rare. And the Top 25 is even more chaotic, obviously.

My point is this: come March Madness, this is a great year to give your bracket over to your mentally ill grandfather, or your weird 3 year old niece. They've got as great a chance as the professional bracket makers and gamblers and sports reporters. It's a mess, and it's going to be great fun.