Saturday, February 28, 2009

Favre, Lopez, Point Guards - Monday, July 28, 2008

Biggest Winner
Brett Favre. It has to be quite an ego boost to have the entire sports world give you a collective hand job for weeks and weeks on end. I bet he’s getting raw by now. Seriously though, he retired. He had a press conference and everything. Tears were shed. Tributes were made. His place in history debated, ceaselessly. It is discovered that about a week after his announcement that he hasn’t filed his retirement papers, he dismisses this with a wave of his hand, which upon closer inspection, he was waving the press toward him not away from him, as in “Hey, come here, I’m not done yet and you know it.” Time goes by, and then leaks of him thinking about coming out of retirement start appearing as “news” stories. All of the sudden, here we are. The adulation is considerable. Several football types are saying that he’s a top 5 QB in the league right now, making him better than around 85% of QBs, and certainly better than his backup the last three years, poor Aaron Rogers. Anyway, Favre has been treated to a nearly unending news cycle adoring him and telling him how awesome he is and how competitive he is and that he just loves to play… all this praise has got to warrant a Biggest Winner nomination from my camp.

Biggest Loser
Brett Favre. So, he’s also the biggest loser for being such a spoiled, attention-starved, pathetic, lying, desperate dude. This whole situation is weird because he’s clearly the most beloved guy in the history of Wisconsin and quite possibly the most beloved guy in the history if the NFL. But the way he’s behaving is so bizarre. Here’s what it seems like to me: (1) he wants Green Bay to beg him to come back and lead their team because he’s so great; (2) failing that, he wants to play for some other team that has a chance to be successful so that he looks awesome and Green Bay looks like fools for letting him go; and (3) he just wants attention. I guess this should not be surprising, I mean he’s a professional athlete who has been fawned over for years, he doesn’t know any other way. I’m sure he thinks, “I don’t understand why they won’t do what I want.”

Perhaps he was telling the truth that he was “pressured” into making his decision to retire as early as he did. Perhaps. But I really, really, really doubt it. He has gotten away with so much in Green Bay that I’d be amazed if anyone there could tell him to do anything. I was listening to the radio several months ago when Matt Hasselbeck was giving an interview telling a Brett Favre story. I’m not sure if you heard it, but I’ll paraphrase it anyway. One day during practice either the special teams or the defense was on the field and the offense was either on an extended break or Favre wasn’t taking reps—whatever the reason, he was on the sideline. As practice was underway, Favre was hitting golf balls over the practice field with a pitching wedge. Mike Sherman, the coach at the time, walked down to Favre and Hasselbeck thought that Favre was going to get it, but instead Sherman asked him about the game plan or something… that’s brutal, dude. And completely disrespectful to your teammates who are working while you’re F’ing around. Obviously things were a little different for No. 4 around the complex.

Anyway, I liked Favre as a player and he seemed like a legit person, but this whole song and dance thing that he’s got going on right now reeks of selfishness and he simply doesn’t care. He loves to be loved and can’t understand why he simply can’t do what he wants to do all of the time. I realize that it’s not that big of a deal and that in the end, I really couldn’t care less if he plays or not, and his “legacy” means nothing to me, but I do want him to go away.

Also Receiving Votes
Loser: Alex Rodriguez. This guy simply cannot get out of his own way. It’s so weird. He clearly wants to be loved, badly, and seemingly makes all of his decisions based on whether someone will like him for it or not, but he always, always, always seems to make a decision that pisses everyone off and he can’t understand why. He needs to incorporate the whole George Costanza do the opposite thing and he’d be better off. I mean, he sits out the HR Derby in Yankee Stadium (probably because he knew that Joe Hamilton would have dumped in his batting helmet and made him wear it); he leaves the All Star Game early(!) at his home stadium when everyone else stayed and genuinely cared about the outcome of a game that THEY PLAYED IN; he has frosted tips; he’s dating Madonna who is at least 15 years past her prime. Unbelievable. Oh, and he’s getting divorced, and I’m sure nothing ugly about his personal life will be disclosed through that proceeding.

An Aside
I had Robin Lopez as my biggest winner awhile back because the NBA Draft was dominating headlines a few weeks ago, but that’s done now, but I thought that I’d share my views on him anyway. Robin Lopez was considered by many to be a second round talent before, during, and even after the season. But yet here he is, getting picked number 15 overall and gets to play in Phoenix with Steve Nash and Shaq. Amazing. Everyone seemed to think that his twin, Brook, was the more talented player currently, and since they shared the womb together, Robin will eventually be as good as or better than Brook. The thing with Robin is that he’s a good defender, and that type of skill/drive is necessary for a dude like him that is not exactly athletic. But I hesitate to lavish any praise on either one of these two dudes because of their weirdness. They love Michael Jackson (still), are huge fans of Disneyland, and love Sex and the City. We're sure that they are guys, right?

Also, remember about a month ago I said that the Chicago Bulls were the biggest winner because it looked like Mike D’Antoni was going to be their coach? Well I got that wrong, but they do look like winners to me because they got the number one pick in the draft and went with Derrick Rose. That kid is a sick player. I think he’s going to be fantastic in the NBA. I’ve heard nitpickers say that he “can’t shoot” which is laughable, I think because it’s not as if he’s got some busted-looking shot, instead he’s got good form that will only get better. Plus, he’s 19. I’m pretty sure he’s going to get better. If the malady on a player is that he can’t shoot, but can do everything else, then I’ll take that. For instance, if you were thinking of perfect point guards, what are the criteria? I’d venture they’d have to be these, in varying degrees of importance, he would need the ability to:
  1. make the right play, i.e. pass the ball to a guy who is in the best position to score… if you have a guy on the team who is a great shooter and he’s open in a spot where he likes the ball, the great point guard will get it to him NOW so that he can shoot and score, or if a guy is about to break open by cutting through the lane, the great point guard will get him the ball (see: Paul, Chris);
  2. sense when a team is struggling offensively and to get them into something that works, (i.e. stop passing to dudes who are playing poorly, start driving the ball to the rim etc);
  3. play good defense on the ball and fill the passing lanes;
  4. dribble, very well;
  5. communicate with teammates;
  6. shoot when open or when the team needs him to shoot because the offense has stagnated AND because shooting well makes double teaming off the PG difficult if he’s a threat to score;
  7. shoot well from the free throw line;
  8. drive to the lane and score or pass to open dudes.

Derrick Rose can do every one of those things well (except make free throws at the end of the game… I can’t believe he missed at the end of the Kansas game. But CDR is to be blamed for that loss, not Rose.) Someone said that Rose is like Jason Kidd, and I’d agree, somewhat. He’s not the insane passer that Kidd is and he’s not quite as big either, although he’s close. But he is exponentially more explosive than Kidd ever was. He’s a D-Wade type of athlete. I also think that his jumper is on par with where Tony Parker is now. That used to be the thing that killed Parker; he simply could not shoot at all, now he knocks down midrange-to-deep shots with regularity. It’s made him a much better player (because he can always get to the rim) and I think that Rose has the capability to be a much better player than Parker. It’s funny how the press decides to harp on one thing and not let it go all the while forgetting that the kid is 19 and he’s probably going to be a hell of a lot better in like three years than he is right now, and by the way, right now, he’s awesome. Like I’ve said before, the press is very lazy and slips into one frame of mind without considering anything else. Like they are comparing him to Jay Williams now (the PG from Duke who was drafted by the Bulls and then got into a Bobby Hurley-like accident and ruined his career). Whatever. Just because he plays PG and plays for the Bulls does not make him the same type of player. Although, I will admit that Rose and Williams are similar athletically, Williams was much more of a shooter/scorer than Rose is. Sometimes I really hate sports for all of the stuff that goes into it. I’d much rather watch games than hear talking heads tell me this and that—ironically, that’s kind of what I’m doing right now except I have a readership of two, so that makes it different.

I can only go shallow-end-of-the-pool deep on baseball knowledge, but I agree with everything you said, Mowrer, about the M’s. They are a disgrace. Finally Richie Sexon has been exorcised. Who on that front office staff thinks that they have a good team put together from the aspect of pure baseball ability and relationship to the fans or whatever? They cling to guys like Willie Bloomquist who absolutely sucks but stays on the team because he’s from South Kitsap. I don’t get it. Are the Ms’s just a huge company that does stupid stuff that they think is going to work? I have a story that may or may not be related. A buddy of mine worked in marketing at Nintendo for about nine years and just left to go work elsewhere. Anyway, they have an event every year that is like a trade show where the gaming industry gets together and announces products etc. They have a party associated with this event and typically they have a live band play at the party. One year, my buddy was sort of in charge of getting the event together and met with the senior executives to get sign off on stuff. One VP was adamant that they get a big name to play at the party and my buddy agreed, obviously. That “big name” the VP wanted? Kenny “Highway to the Dangerzone” Loggins. This event took place in like 2004. Kenny Loggins was big—and it’s debatable if he was ever “big” I think he may have always been sort of a joke—in the early to mid 80s. We’re talking two decades ago. “Highway to the Dangerzone” was in “Top Gun” and that movie came out in 1986. My buddy could do nothing to derail this idea. The VP was dead set on having Loggins at the event. Embarrassing. Meanwhile Sony had like Blink 182 and OutKast perform at their party. My point in telling this story is that sometimes people who make decisions really shouldn’t be making decisions.

The Olympics
I am a sucker for nationalistic pride events. I would never deign to watch swimming, gymnastics, beach volleyball, volleyball generally, a triathlon, or any random track and field event at any time of the year. But a massive exception is made very four years when The Games are on the tube. I love track and field, but it’s never on TV, and when it is, it’s difficult to understand exactly what’s going on in terms of “Where does this fit in the overall scheme of the sport?” It’s not like other sports that I follow that have a definite season and leagues and stuff. So it’s hard to appreciate on any level except for what is going on directly in front of you. Even the world championships don’t seem to matter at all, but The Games changes all that.

I feel the same way about the World Cup and to a certain degree, the Euro Cup. It’s amazing to me how awesome those crowds are for the games, it must be unbelievably cool to be “on the pitch” when you’re in front of a World Cup crowd. It probably feels the same for football players at SEC games (except Vandy).

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