I got an email the other day asking how I, a lifelong member of Raider Nation, can object so harshly to the New York Yankees being called the Evil Empire and say nothing about the Raiders being referred to as the same.
I never said that the Yankees shouldn’t be called the Evil Empire. The Bombers are a perennial contender whose owner uses his status to make changes that not only make things less competitive for the organization but also succeed in putting other teams in distress, financial and otherwise. You call it an evil empire and I call it good [sometimes] business. My complaint was that given the fate of the “real” Empire and our post-season collapse/current state of affairs, embracing the term may not be the smartest move.
But the Raiders are different. Sure, Darth Davis was Steinbrenner-esque in the days before parity, profit sharing, and free agency and he still shows some tendencies today. But the comparisons between the organizations are now weak at best, holding most true in the realm of tyrannical, sometimes meddlesome ownership. Oakland’s position on the dark side of The Force has nothing to do with payrolls and free agency and everything to do with the fact that since inception, the Raiders have been evil through and through, balls to bones. We’re not the good guys and we don’t want to be. Raider football is about being vicious, ruthless, and nasty in the endless pursuit of excellence. Though we temporarily lost the right to refer to ourselves as an empire on that black day at Qualcomm Stadium, we’ll soon return to our rightful place as the NFL’s perennial villain. But I digress.
It’s finally time for me to purchase a new authentic Raider jersey. I got my first when I was still crawling around to seek out mischief. It was a Jack Tatum jersey made into one of those one-piece baby outfits with the snaps at the bottom. Even though I was born after The Assassin retired, my dad put me in it anyway in hopes that I’d represent well at the sand box with near-felonious assaults on LA Rams babies. My next one came after Tim Brown was drafted. I wore that (and new versions as I grew) until, well, now. It never really sunk in that he was no longer a Raider until I passed him in the hall a couple months ago at work and I was wearing his jersey. He was taking a tour with Boss, and looking at what might be his office, when I walked by to go into mine. “Hey, that’s me,” he said with a smile. I’ve felt like a goon ever since.
So now that Timmy is through, I’m moving on. I refuse to snatch a Warren Sapp because it’s cool or a Randy Moss because he’ll be able to Go-Go Gadget to Kerry Collins’ off-target passes. I can’t reverse years of hatred that easily. I’ll more than appreciate their services for the Silver & Black but that is where the love will end. In light of that, I’m pleased to report that my new jersey will be a Jerry Porter #84. Look for him this season as he becomes one half of the most feared wideout duo in the NFL.
Laker fans and draftniks aside, does anyone around here know who Andrew Bynum is? If you don’t, he’s the 17-year-old “Baby Shaq” (7′/285) that was
foolishlyrecently drafted with the 10th pick by the Los Angeles Lakers. At first I wasn’t too sure what Mitch Kupchak was thinking. The Lakers aren’t in the position to be patient while a teenager develops. They have immediate needs to fill and taking a project for Phil Jackson (who has neither the time nor the inclination to go about developing his skills) isn’t the most advisable move. So for a while, I assumed that Kupchak was trying to audition for Elgin Baylor‘s job.
But what do you know, I’ve found a reason to change my mind. The decision to take Bynum over, say, Danny Granger, was likely based on the following gold mine of insider info that lead Kupchak to believe that all other draft hopefuls were complete zeros: Andrew Bynum’s myspace website. As you can see, this is a character kid. An intelligent kid. Phil Jackson must be bursting with fruit flavor over this one.
Lakers back in the playoffs this year? You better believe I’m buyin it.
Bynum link found at: The Hater Nation
In my Wednesday update for SportsbyBrooks.com, I made the following comment about Tim Montgomery withdrawing from the 100 meter prelims at the US Track & Field Championships because he, according to his agent, was having trouble concentrating:
It’s 9.78 second event where you take your mark, hear the gun, and sprint to the ribbon! Montgomery could focus his thoughts on the differences between The Cream and The Clear and set a world record. The only people in danger of losing their concentration during this 10 second event are those of us afflicted with ADD, and our biggest fear is getting distracted in the blocks while waiting for the gun to fire.
And today, I received the following email (click to enlarge):
I’m unceasingly hyper and I can’t focus but you know what, Donny? I grabbed an ovary, accepted it, and moved on with my life. And I’ve gotten so far in my moving on, that I can even make jokes about it! Fancy that. So the least you can do is sack up and be a man. Complaining about ADD jokes… shame on you. You should turn in your penis card. You have no right to it… though you may not even want it given your opinion of women and large boobs. I hope you come to understand that ADD isn’t cancer and it’s not down syndrome. We can joke about it because it sucks the way being bad at math sucks and the last I checked, no one used BBAM syndrome to feel sorry for themselves. So here’s my advice to you Donny: Go on a run. Go get laid. Take some Strattera. Smoke some weed. Find a way to settle that’s best for you. Whatever you do, make sure you grow a pair.
The NBA Draft is over! Does anyone else know what this means??
The tv-world is Stephen A. Smith-free until November!
That’s 5 months! Praise be to G-d!
[When I find a way to get Stuart Scott off the air, I'll let you know... booyah! ]
Until 4-5 years ago, I used to love the NBA Draft. It wasn’t like the NFL where 400-some players (380 that you didn’t know) were chosen over 2 days out of a pool of thousands to go to teams where it’d take 3 years to make their names known. The NBA draft was a shrewd evaluation of 60 young talents, of which only 30 were assured entry into the exclusive NBA fraternity. The night was a veritable Who’s Who roll call of our nation’s best collegiate players; a night of excitement, uncertainty, and endless debate of the merits of one player over another. The guys that you loved, the ones you hated, and those rare few that broke your heart for 2,3, and 4 years were ready to take their games to the next level. They had grown from Diaper Dandies to whatever absurd moniker Dickie V. lays on talented seniors that have proven themselves on the “next level;” stark contrasts to what we have today – projects that, given the right combination of variables, just might pan out in the long run.
It was nice when even the most casual of fans could at least recognize the incoming talent. Christ, even my mother knew who Steve Nash was. But now I don’t think I could tell you who half of the 1st round possibilities are, as at least 11 of the 30 players projected to go in the first round tonight are either from high school or a former Soviet bloc nation because they’re a good investment. Half of what I hear about these kids is their great athleticism. But how are their skills? Can they shoot, rebound, play defense? Who knows. But I guess no one really cares.
I’ll be honest – I think this draft blows. Sure, it’s the deepest in a decade but I want someone to tell me what separates the 15th pick from the 40th. I want star power; I want a sexy pick. Andrew Bogut is gonna be the next Vlade Divac – well that definitely turns me on. That’s a lot of fun. He’s going to the Bucks, where he’ll contribute for 10 years or until his feet give out on him ala Rik Smits and we’ll all thank him for a solid career.
So in this draft tonight, I’m going to look to see what happens to Chris Paul, Channing Frye, Charlie Villanueva, and the UNC crew. After that, I might space out until I can see some familiar faces in second round. I have a feeling that had Sergei Stoudamire entered the draft instead of Salim, he’d be looking at a guaranteed contract and plenty of time to either go back to the Balkans to develop or to pull Darko duty with his new squad.
I was gonna make fun of the delusional Jeremy Roenick for being the epitome of the spoiled, cocky professional athlete that he claims does not exist:
“If people are going to sit and chastise pro athletes for being cocky, they need to look at one thing and that’s the deal we’re going to be signing in about three weeks,” Roenick said. “Pro athletes are not cocky. Pro athletes care about the game. Everybody out there who calls us spoiled because we play a game, they can kiss my ass. I will say personally, to everybody who calls us spoiled, you guys are just jealous. We’re trying to get this thing back on the ice and make it better for the fans. If you don’t realize that, then don’t come. We don’t want you in the rink, we don’t want you in the stadium, we don’t want you to watch hockey.”
but then I realized it was like shooting fish in a barrel and I don’t have time for it anyway.
A little more than 28 years ago, my parents met at a rugby game at Oxford University between Oxford and Yale. My dad was a Yalie winger and started romancing my mum after spotting her in the stands at the game. They did a cross-Atlantic penpalship for a year and then married. At their 21st anniversary, they’d officially been married more than half their lives. I remember asking my dad if that was depressing but when he took more than a half second to respond, my mother hit him. He then immediately said no. My dad learns lessons quickly – I think this is one of the secrets to marriage and I’ve also taken special care not to mention that fact again. For some unknown reason, I thought this was their 25th anniversary (I thought that last year, too). While I should probably express open shame about not being on top of that, I instead choose to blame it all on my older sister, as she is in charge of buying a suitable gift for them every year and really ought to be responsible for making sure that I, the youngest product of this union, am aware of what’s happening.
In any case, today is their 27th wedding anniversary and I’d like to offer congratulations to my Mum and Dad. Even though they gross me out by being all into each other like they are, I couldn’t be happier that they’ve managed to stay happily married after all these years. Good on ya Mum and Dad! Way to go!
I flashed back to the countless drinking races I’ve been in, cracked my neck, and foolishly demonstrated what I’ve been doing the past few years. My record at school still stands at 12 ounces in 3.18 seconds, unspilled. I didn’t touch it tonight but I made the mistake of licking my lips and smiling in triumph like I had.
It wasn’t until a nearby man congratulated me on my skill ["That was like you opened up your throat!"] that I stole a glance at my dad and saw his mouth hanging open. Trouble was brewin. Luckily, Maussa, a fighter who might best be described as an awkward slugger, then landed an absolutely brutal left hook, putting “Vicious” Vivian on his arse and diverting my father’s attention. The second the fight was over, I ran away to escape the inevitable questioning of my “skill” and didn’t return for 20 minutes.
When I got back to my seat, Boardwalk Hall had become electric. The entire crowd was pro-Gatti; the chants of his name grew louder by the minute and if Mayweather had fans besides Allen Iverson, they weren’t making their presence known. The fight got started smoothly enough and through the 1st round, I truly believed that Gatti could pull out a victory. I knew he could keep up with Mayweather at the very least, and if he could lure Pretty Boy into a brawl, he could manage a knockout. But this fight proved as lopsided as Mayweather was impressive.
Mayweather lit Gatti up with every combination from every possible angle and danced out of danger, so quickly, so easily, that comparing him to Sugar Ray Leonard in that regard would understate his performance.
Mayweather was too slick, too fast, and, surprisingly, too powerful. To make matters worse, he put together a fight of tactical brilliance that helped him outslug one of boxing’s best sluggers.
Whether on offense or defense (which was rare), Mayweather’s freakish quickness and ferocity left the crowd in stunned silence for 6 rounds.
But then Gatti, eyes nearly swollen shut, didn’t answer the bell for the 7th round and it all came to an end – a merciful end.
Soon after leaving Boardwalk, I tried to make a post to recount what I’d just witnessed, but nothing came to mind other than “goddamn.” And now, hours later, all that can really be said is that in the end, there was no thunder. The only thing Gatti ever had on his side was the crowd, as his will was no match for Pretty Boy’s skill.
This is the most devastating, non-heavyweight title fight that I have ever seen. It was an absolute slaughter. Wright-Trinidad and Hopkins-de la Hoya were truly great matches where the unappreciated fighter toppled the heralded champion but neither Wright nor Hopkins can boast this level of frightful mastery over their opponents.
I went into Boardwalk knowing that Mayweather was a good fighter, but I left assured that he is the next great one.
Floyd Mayweather put on a dazzling clinic of epic proportions and beat the most popular boxer of this era into abject submission… And it was a breathtaking performance to watch.
Since then, I’ve been hopelessly drawn to the most brutal of sports. Foolishly, many believe that boxing isn’t an athletic competition but a showcase of barbaric corruption that brings the masses to that primitive place in their souls and feeds their lust for bloodsport.
But boxing is the closest any athletic contest comes to purity. It is a nasty reflection of life, rife with pain and failure, greed and hate, dishonesty and corruption. For the worthy, it offers pride and grace, honor and nobility, but the worthy are few and far between.
All my love for soccer, football, baseball, and basketball does not change the fact that boxing has always been my favorite. The sport has declined in recent years but it remains a beautiful display of determination, durability, and power that demands constant training of both the body and the mind. Miss a workout, skip some roadwork, waste some time partying and chasing wool, and you’ll be exposed in the ring.
Unlike team sports, where ineffectiveness and laziness are rewarded by a teammate picking up the slack, all a fighter has is himself, and no matter how badly he’s losing, he’s still in the game. If a team is down by three touchdowns with 3 minutes to go, they need four, Peyton Manning, and some help from God. But in boxing, a fighter can lose 9 straight rounds but only needs one punch, that knockout blow, to shift the tide.
How can you not love that? The footwork, the dips, slips, bumps, and pushes… The sweet science is poetry in motion and there’s nothing better in sport than watching two professionals with a true understanding of their trade putting on a show. And tomorrow, my dad and I are going to Atlantic City to watch Arturo “Thunder” Gatti put his Super Lightweight Championship on the line when he challenges boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter, #1 ranked contender “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather.
I’ll be in the 7th row, just far enough away to avoid flying sweat. This will be a beautiful fight to watch.
Just a heads up – I broke my thumb this morning, so my posts will be short until I get used to typing without it. And with that, I have some brief bits on things I’ve been thinking about. In advance, I apologize, as I won’t be elaborating to make my thoughts more clear, etc, but please feel free to talk amongst yourselves.
1. The Pistons are going to win the World Championship but not because they’re more talented or because Larry Brown’s a better coach. I’ve come to see that they simply have more heart and were it not for Big Shot Rob picking up the slack for a befuddled Tim Duncan (who always seems to be befuddled when the game is on the line), this series may very well be over. Chauncey Billups said, “If it ain’t rough, it’s not right… We’re down a lot of times, but we’re never out. We always fight, scratch and bite ourselves out of the corner we always back ourselves into.” And he’s right – no team in the NBA has handled adversity better than the Pistons and they’re going to come back at the Spurs with the same ferocity (if not more) that they did last night. Tim Duncan had best learn how to handle the pressure before tomorrow. The Spurs can’t afford him to go an entire quarter without scoring (again).
2. Where is Big Shot Rob all year? Why isn’t he a regular contributor? I don’t know if it’s all that admirable when players show up only when they have to. I know he’s 34 and that body of his is starting to creak (amazing that when you’re 34 in the NBA you’re at AARP status) but last night he was 3-6 for 8 points and 2-5 from 3. Six of his eight points were treys. Bob can’t get in the paint? He can’t bang anymore? Does he even want to? I don’t expect him to have a 21 point night every night but come on – Brent Barry had a better performance.
3. In light of #2, Robert Horry to the Hall of Fame talk is complete lunacy. I’ll grant you that he ruined lives during Houston’s run but with the Lakers, he lucked out as many times as he rimmed out. He benefits from defensive attention going to The Dream, Drexler, Shaq, Kobe, Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan when the game is on the line. And his performance on Tuesday is more in line with his career average of 7.5 points per game. That said, he’s a Bama man and even though I work at and attend the school that I do, you know how I am about my Tide, so I’ll shut it down now
4. I have a new update at SportsbyBrooks – check it out.
5. Eric Gagne is done for the year and will be undergoing Tommy John surgery. Gagne has officially screwed me in two fantasy leagues and for that, I curse at him. Luckily, I also have Brazoban but that doesn’t quell my bitterness.
6. Brandi Chastain just got forced into retirement in a painful way. Yikes. But ya know, when you’re 39, maybe it’s time that you realize that younger players want to break through and develop and that hanging out with your husband and watching him coach those sad sacks at Santa Clara is the better move. Who’s the next athlete to be forced into retirement? I say it’s Jerry Rice.
7. Manu Ginobili’s jersey is the most searched for on Yahoo – check out the top 20 list. MIA are Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, and Kobe Bryant.
Hmm… this post has come out to be not so short. Ah well.
This probably won’t go very far, as this isn’t the most well thought out post and for that, I apologize. It’s more of a low-grade rant, so bear with me … Many fans of sport (and all fans of Sux) refer to the New York Yankees as “The Evil Empire” and were I not raised a Yankee fan, I’d likely think the same. Luckily I was, so I view it as a term of envious respect. Use it to bash New York all you want. I could give a damn. But what about Yankee fans that use the term to thumb their collective noses at the world by embracing it as their own?
It happens that while going about things today some goateed yahoo yelled out at me, “Yeahhh!! Evil Empire! We’re strikin back, baby! Yeah!” He pointed to his shirt and continued to say “Yeah” and other things like “Huh? Yeah!” and “Ooooh Yeah!” The “Ooooh Yeah!” wasn’t in the Macho Man Randy Savage “Snap into a Slim Jim” type of way but it’d be a lot cooler if it was. So let’s just pretend that’s how he said it. In any case, I stared at him for a moment and then moved on, but he started up again.
When I failed to respond, he switched to Spanish – as if that would help. “Oye! Oye chica! ¿No tienes gusto de béisbol y del Yankees de Nueva York? ¡Estás usando un sombrero del béisbol del Yankees de Nueva York! ¡El imperio malvado! ¡EL IMPERIO MALVADO!” [Was it so hard to say that in English the first time around?] Then he approached. “I see you’re a believer that the Empire is striking back. We’re getting hot!” I asked him why he thought I was a believer. I mean, the hat didn’t reveal much.
Wearing one before October is a sign that I’m a fan but since apparel is worn just as heavily by poseurs and fools, I could just as easily be some tart trying to be stylish. Surprisingly, it wasn’t my hat. “You’re shirt says it all.” I was wearing the Rage Against the Machine shirt to your left. “That’s from the Evil Empire album, right?” I nodded. “Yankees hat, Evil Empire shirt. Makes up for not having one of these.” He pointed at his shirt. “I got it off the internet!”
It looked like something you got out of a kit and ironed on a Fruit of the Loom. But I smiled anyway and feigned a little envy. Luckily, the conversation quickly moved on to the playoffs, the new stadium, and my relatively macabre opinions that our recent troubles will be the death of Steinbrenner and said death will save the club from Dark Ages, Part II. Interestingly enough, he agreed but didn’t like that I actually verabalized such a thing. We parted ways.
While going on about things, I thought about Evil Empire. I have only related it to the USSR and Muck Fichigan, and I don’t recall any of those maize and blue skunk bastards ever making shirts – the communists either. So why do some Yankee fans support this trademark infringing shirt or Ponch’s (that was his name) iron on design?
Is it to reclaim the term, much like gays did with “queer” and the Vagina (I really don’t like that word) Monologues attempted to do with the dreaded c-word? That’s a stretch, for sure, but it’s the only rational explanation I can find. Otherwise, these people are simply idiots.
I’ve seen all six Star Wars installments and one thing I’ve learned is that the Evil Empire doesn’t win. It gets no eternal sunshine. The Empire strikes back only to get bitchslapped around the galaxy by a guy with a Farrah Fawcett haircut, a broad with cinnamon buns on her head, Harrison Ford, and a genetically advanced dog. What the shit is that? We’re embracing that? Making t-shirts, buying them, wearing them with pride? The hell with that.
Then again, maybe I’m being too serious about all this. Maybe it’s all in good fun. I still think these people are fools but my opinion isn’t affecting anyone. If the Yankees really are the Evil Empire, I pray that any team outside of Massachusetts are the Jedi. If the Sux are on the light side of the force, I’ll fuckin vomit.