Category: Kinda Sports

Nuance is hard, and we’re not interested

kneel

This is another late-to-the-party thinkpiece about why your Facebook News Feed has been extra awful lately. If you’re not into that, I thank you for your click and wish you the best with the rest of your life.

For the rest of you, I think you know what I’m talking about.

Everyone you’ve ever met has an opinion about the recent uptick in NFL players protesting during the national anthem, and none of them are any good.

Half of of my feed thinks systemic racism is the bee’s knees, and the other half acts like Francis Scott Key has no bars.

What got lost somewhere between our TVs and Facebook, though was what this protest originally started as.

In 2014, there were a number of high-profile deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement. It wasn’t anything new in this country, but social media made the news travel faster and further than ever before.

In the subsequent years, any killings of citizens by civil servants have been put under a microscope, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Responses to these deaths have ranged from peaceful protests and the rise of groups like #BlackLivesMatter, to riots and retaliatory killings of police officers.

Before our nation could properly address the issue at hand, camps began to form. Suddenly, the narrative was that you were either pro-black people not getting shot or pro-police safety.

As you can probably tell, this was less than constructive. In fact, I’d argue that the mutual fear shared between law enforcement and black men in this country is what put us in this mess to begin with.

And we really haven’t learned. Enter Colin Kaepernick.

kaep

Kaepernick was (is? I’m not sure at this point) a dynamic young quarterback more than capable of holding a roster spot in the NFL. Now he doesn’t have a job.

Kaepernick began last season by taking a knee during the national anthem as a way to protest the treatment of African Americans and other minorities in this country.

Again, this act wasn’t unprecedented.

There’s a clear history of athletes making statements during the anthem.

It’s important to remember that none of these protests are as offensive as Carl Lewis actually trying to sing.

Derrick Coleman really makes that video something special.

Back to Kaepernick motives, it’s important to understand that they’re not very controversial. “Stop killing black people” is only a hot take if you also enjoy casual cross-burnings in your spare time.

Unfortunately, the narrative was twisted again. Because NFL players were protesting during a ceremony that has become increasingly intertwined with the American military, those who wanted to stifle their message made it about the troops.

And you’ve got to support the troops.

So that’s why all of your casual acquaintances from high school are fighting so passionately on Facebook right now. What should have been a discussion about race in this country has turned into a debate about whether we should care more about the troops or minorities.

If you’re looking for my honest opinion on this matter, I think we need to stop wrapping ourselves in the flag every time the country is criticized.

I think the United States is the greatest country in the world. I have more opportunity here than I would anywhere else, but it doesn’t mean this place is infallible.

If enough people can identify a problem, it costs nothing to explore possible solutions, even if you don’t think the problem exists. Once a situation is fully delved into, then you can take actions toward self improvement.

But that’s hard. It’s much easier to entrench yourself in a camp and argue online.

I only ask that you try it, just this once, before you hit that publish button.

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A “highly unnecessary” tribute to Don Orsillo

A lot of important sports things happened yesterday. Arian Foster let me down, Brendan Rodgers was sacked, and Don Orsillo called his last game for the Red Sox on NESN.

That last one probably hurts the most. Orsillo was a major part of one of the best booths in baseball. His ability to call an objective and interesting game is second only to Vin Scully. And yet NESN has decided that they will not renew Orsillo’s contract.

Somehow Ken Harrelson still has a job.

Orsillo is so respected in the business that members of both the Red Sox and Indians had tributes for him yesterday.

Aside from his play-by-play ability, Boston will always remember the giggle fits common to a NESN broadcast. I’m serious, go to MLB’s YouTube channel and search “Orsillo.” There isn’t a dull moment.

A personal favorite is when Don was feeling really Texas.

The only clip you need, though, is the classic pizza toss. This is the NESN booth at its absolute best.

Have fun in San Diego, Don.

Link for you to click on

Fantasy Basketball

Song for throwing pizza

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Lions vs. Seahawks – 8:30 p.m. – ESPN

It’s not a great night for sports. The Lions have yet to win this season, while Seattle has won its last six games at home.

Legal sports gambling: A guide

If you happened to watch any of the awfulness that was Monday Night Football last night, you might have noticed a few familiar commercials.

Draft Kings, Fan Duel, Draft Kings, Fan Duel. It seems like they owned entire commercial blocks to themselves.

They look like fantasy sports sites, but use language similar to offshore sportsbooks. Now I’ve had a few (older) people ask me about these sites, and I’d like to clear up the confusion.

When online gambling legislation was passed to clean up all of the online poker sites of the mid-’00s, there was one loophole. As long as something was classified as “fantasy sports,” it was legal.

From here we got the rise of daily fantasy sports. You put a little money in, and you could win millions! But is it worth it?

I’ll tell you what I know from personal experience. I’ve been playing on FanDuel since January, and it’s really fun. You draft a team using a salary cap, and see if you can outsmart the other people on the site.

It is not a good way to make money, however. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about sports, and my record in money games is 75-171. My gross winnings are $272.05, while my net is around -$18.95.

But hey, if you just want to play for fun, you can sign up here.

https://www.fanduel.com/?invitedby=bogeyoob&cnl=da

While you’re at it, sign up for a few more things.

Fantasy Hockey

https://yho.com/nhl?l=40876&k=9b2701026b819384&ikey=dc7b4a6f44b54ae6

Fantasy Basketball

https://yho.com/nba?l=20258&k=d6ab1cf2ac51f415&ikey=c838d80a4dc6700d

Song for gambling on sports.

Was wrestling good last night?

No.

Get Hype Game of the Night!

Manchester City vs. Juventus — 2:30 p.m. — Fox Sports 2

City hopes that adding Kevin De Bruyne to the squad will help put them over the top in their first Champions League Group D clash today.

Frustrated with fantasy

After this year’s Super Bowl, I briefly discussed how upset I get when the Patriots lose. I’m not sure why, but no matter what time there game was at, I spend the rest of that day sulking in my bed waiting for the sweet comfort of death.

Maybe it’s because there are so few games during the season. I don’t feel this way when the Celtics, Bruins, or Red Sox lose (Every. Single. Day.). There’s something about football that really sends be over the edge.

I’m writing this because I’m not even sure it’s restricted to real football anymore.

Yesterday, my fantasy team was massacred. I was expecting it (The squad won’t be at full strength until Arian Foster and Antonio Gates start playing.), but there is still that extra twinge of sadness that lingers. Like, maybe if I weren’t such an incompetent fake GM, my fake team wouldn’t lose.

Cam Newton, Brandin Cooks, Jeremy Maclin, and Larry Donnell all under performed, while Bishop Sankey, Danny Woodhead, and Jordan Reed had a touchdown party on my bench. The Newton thing hurts the most, because I was so close to changing my team name to “Killa Cam” and making my logo a picture of Cam’ron.

I still might do it.

For now, though, I’m just left with my losses and my sadness.

I hate sports. They’re the best.

Links for you to click on.

Fantasy Hockey

https://yho.com/nhl?l=40876&k=9b2701026b819384&ikey=dc7b4a6f44b54ae6

Fantasy Basketball

https://yho.com/nba?l=20258&k=d6ab1cf2ac51f415&ikey=c838d80a4dc6700d

Song for getting over a fantasy loss.

Get Hype Game of the Night!

Astros vs. Rangers — 8:00 p.m. — MLB Network

Rangers’ bats have come alive down the stretch. Scott Kazmir faces Cole Hamels. Maybe I’m still salty about football.

Hard out here for a commish

Okay, this is probably the last link I’ll post tonight.

You see, I’m the commissioner of what are now four fantasy sports leagues, and it’s a lot more work than you’d think it would be. I love playing all kinds of fantasy sports, but you need to put the effort in to convince enough of your friends to sign up. No one likes playing with strangers.

Strangers are scary.

So that’s why I’m posting so many links here, on Facebook, and Twitter. I just want to share something I enjoy with all of my friends. You don’t even have to play, just sign up so I can play.

Please. I need you.

Fantasy hockey link

https://yho.com/nhl?l=40876&k=9b2701026b819384&ikey=dc7b4a6f44b54ae6

Fantasy basketball link

https://yho.com/nba?l=20258&k=d6ab1cf2ac51f415&ikey=c838d80a4dc6700d

Song for when you’re wondering what Lil Jon is up to

Was wrestling good last night?

Yes.

Get Hype Game of the Night!

14 LSU vs. 25 Mississippi St. — 9:15 p.m. — ESPN

This is LSU’s season opener, since their first game was cancelled by lightning.

Kinesthetic Kayfabe: How this ESPN report shapes the Patriots narrative

I have a hot-and-cold relationship with sports narratives.

When I’m having a serious discussion about sports, I think they’re meaningless. I don’t believe Team A will win because they’re dedicating the game to a kid with cancer, I believe Team A will win because they have a track record of being better than Team B. That’s how things work in reality.

Narratives work in fiction, and within that context, they’re a lot of fun. Imagining sports as a scripted entity (much like professional wrestling) is a great way to pass the time in between, you know, actual sporting events.

So it is with these fiction-tinted glasses that I’m going to be looking at the latest report about the New England Patriots filed by Outside the Lines and ESPN the Magazine. Thursday really can’t come soon enough.

The booking of the New England Patriots has actually been tremendous throughout their history. For their first 40 years of existence, the Patriots were jobbers, perennial losers used to make the other teams in the league look better. The only times they actually received a main event push, it was designed for them to be squashed by the opposition.

In 1986, they were destroyed to enhance the lore of the Chicago Bears and their impenetrable defense. The Super Bowl loss in 1997 was a little more involved. The league needed a credible opponent for John Elway to go over for his first ever championship.

Enter Bret Favre and the Packers, used as transitional champions before the NFL could give Elway the belt.

From there, 2001 was the perfect time for New England’s mega-push. They were scrappy underdogs, with an unknown quarterback, riding a wave of patriotic feeling in a post-9/11 world. Up against The Greatest Show on Turf, on turf, the Pats were able to overcome the odds and win a title. This was a great story.

After a lackluster Super Bowl the next season, the NFL panicked. They felt like if the Patriots were champion again, maybe they could recapture some of the same magic from the previous season. What resulted was one of the greatest games of all time, fondly remembered for Justin Timberlake going into business for himself and exposing Janet Jackson’s right breast.

Not looking to fix what wasn’t broken, the Patriots were kept as champions the next year as well. At this point, though, the good feelings surrounding the team  were starting to fade. The story of Tom Brady’s rise to one of the greatest of all time didn’t sit well with fans of the other 31 teams. The New England Patriots were stale, and something needed to change.

To execute a proper heel turn, you need a reason for a good guy to suddenly turn bad. The Patriots failed to get out of the AFC the next two seasons, setting them up as the team that just couldn’t get it done anymore.

The turn was executed at the beginning of the 2007 season. The Patriots, no longer able to win by conventional means, cheated to beat the Jets. The NFL (I can’t stress this enough, any authority figure is automatically a heel until proven otherwise. Nobody wants to cheer their boss.) gave the Pats a slap on the wrist, and covered up any additional wrongdoing.

This would have been the perfect time for this latest ESPN report to come out. It would have really driven home the narrative that the Patriots sold their souls to the evil NFL in order to win again.

And win they did. The Patriots went undefeated in the regular season, beating the New York Giants in the final game. Those same Giants were able to overcome the odds in Super Bowl XLII and defeat the league’s hand-picked champion. This was also a great story.

From here, the focus of the narrative shifted to the league itself. The Ginger Hammer and his stooges continued to use unlimited power to dish out arbitrary and unfair punishments. For them to complete their transition in to the top heel faction, though, the league needed to betray one of their own.

Tension between the NFL and the Patriots was first teased after Aaron Hernandez was arrested. You can’t have a murderer on the roster, you know. Still, it wasn’t until Ballghazi when things really started.

After a Patriots title win, there was a swerve and the NFL came down hard on New England, suspending Brady for four games for an innocuous rule violation. From here, the Patriots turned face. Betrayed by the authority they once answered to, New England began to fight for anyone who had been unfairly punished by the league.

Like any good heel, the NFL used underhanded tactics to twist the narrative in their favor. However, in the end, the good guys won. This is another good story.

Until today, that is. This ESPN report hurts the whole story by making both sides look bad. Again, this would’ve worked when they were both heel back in 2007, but now that the Patriots are good guys, ESPN isn’t helping anyone by reiterating just how bad they were.

Right now, New England is a face that the casual viewer still doesn’t know they can trust, but there is still a way this can work.

Between now and whenever the final Ballghazi ruling will be, the NFL has to do something explicitly evil. Preferably they can harshly and unfairly punish a traditional rival of New England’s. This would force that team’s fan base to root for Brady in the next courtroom battle.

Then when Touchdown Tom finally conquers the evil NFL, the Pats will be re-cemented as faces. It’s simple booking, really.

Song for when you want to listen to Dipset, but Rihanna’s more popular

Get Hype Game of the Night!

Tsonga vs. Cilic — 2:00 p.m. — ESPN

The quarterfinals of the U.S. Open see two of the best players in the world face off this afternoon.

Mock Draft Madness

It’s almost fantasy football season (and real football season, I guess), and I could not be more hyped to draft a team. I’ve mentioned before that my favorite days of the year are dunk contest day and fantasy draft day.

And with no dunks in sight and my draft day being moved back, I guess I’ll just have to settle for mock drafts. In fact, I’ve gone a little crazy with the mock drafts.

I don’t know where I’ll be drafting yet so I have to be prepared for every position. Below I’ll display 12 teams, one from each spot in the draft order, to see what you guys think.

Team 1

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Tom Brady
  • Colin Kaepernick

Running Backs (3/2)

  • Adrian Peterson
  • DeMarco Murray
  • Giovani Bernard

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Alshon Jeffery
  • Eric Decker
  • Marques Colston
  • Nelson Agholor

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Travis Kelce
  • Eric Ebron

Kicker (2/1)

  • Matt Prater
  • Nick Novak

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Bills Def
  • Lions Def

Team 2

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Cam Newton
  • Philip Rivers

Running Backs (3/2)

  • Frank Gore
  • Alfred Morris
  • Danny Woodhead

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Antonio Brown
  • Victor Cruz
  • Sammy Watkins
  • Torrey Smith

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Greg Olsen
  • Jared Cook

Kicker (2/1)

  • Cody Parkey
  • Adam Vinatieri

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Seahawks Def
  • Bengals Def

Team 3

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Peyton Manning
  • Jameis Winston

Running Backs (3/2)

  • LeVeon Bell
  • Mark Ingram
  • Doug Martin

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • AJ Green
  • Davante Adams
  • John Brown
  • Larry Fitzgerald

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Antonio Gates
  • Austin SeferianJenkins

Kicker (2/1)

  • Stephen Gostkowski
  • Steven Hauschka

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Rams Def
  • Buccaneers Def

Team 4

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Andrew Luck
  • Jay Cutler

Running Backs (3/2)

  • Eddie Lacy
  • Carlos Hyde
  • Isaiah Crowell

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • DeAndre Hopkins
  • Steve Smith
  • Michael Floyd
  • Charles Johnson

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Jimmy Graham
  • Coby Fleener

Kicker (2/1)

  • Matt Bryant
  • Josh Brown

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Patriots Def
  • Colts Def

Team 5

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Carson Palmer

Running Backs (3/2)

  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Lamar Miller
  • Rashad Jennings

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Andre Johnson
  • Jordan Matthews
  • Martavis Bryant
  • Pierre Garcon

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Zach Ertz
  • Vernon Davis

Kicker (2/1)

  • Mason Crosby
  • Chandler Catanzaro

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Eagles Def
  • Dolphins Def

Team 6

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Russell Wilson
  • Joe Flacco

Running Backs (3/2)

  • Jamaal Charles
  • Justin Forsett
  • Ameer Abdullah

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Mike Evans
  • Jeremy Maclin
  • Allen Robinson
  • Terrance Williams

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Jordan Cameron
  • Larry Donnell

Kicker (2/1)

  • Garrett Hartley
  • Caleb Sturgis

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • 49ers Def
  • Vikings Def

Team 7

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Tony Romo
  • Sam Bradford

Running Backs (3/2)

  • Matt Forte
  • Melvin Gordon
  • Devonta Freeman

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Odell Beckham Jr
  • Brandin Cooks
  • Golden Tate
  • Anquan Boldin

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Julius Thomas
  • Charles Clay

Kicker (2/1)

  • Greg Zuerlein
  • Graham Gano

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Texans Def
  • Packers Def

Team 8

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Matt Ryan
  • Robert Griffin III

Running Backs (3/2)

  • CJ Anderson
  • Andre Ellington
  • Chris Ivory

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Julian Edelman
  • Vincent Jackson
  • Brandon Marshall
  • Brandon LaFell

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Rob Gronkowski
  • Richard Rodgers

Kicker (2/1)

  • Phil Dawson
  • Dan Bailey

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Ravens Def
  • Browns Def

Team 9

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Eli Manning
  • Teddy Bridgewater

Running Backs (3/2)

  • Jeremy Hill
  • Jonathan Stewart
  • Tevin Coleman

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Dez Bryant
  • Keenan Allen
  • DeSean Jackson
  • Rueben Randle

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Jason Witten
  • Owen Daniels

Kicker (2/1)

  • Blair Walsh
  • Sebastian Janikowski

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Broncos Def
  • Giants Def

Team 10

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Alex Smith

Running Backs (3/2)

  • Arian Foster
  • Joseph Randle
  • Joique Bell

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Demaryius Thomas
  • TY Hilton
  • Jarvis Landry
  • Devin Funchess

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Delanie Walker
  • Jordan Reed

Kicker (2/1)

  • Randy Bullock
  • Brandon McManus

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Panthers Def
  • Chiefs Def

Team 11

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Drew Brees
  • Matthew Stafford

Running Backs (3/2)

  • LeSean McCoy
  • TJ Yeldon
  • CJ Spiller

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Julio Jones
  • Emmanuel Sanders
  • Roddy White
  • Breshad Perriman

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Martellus Bennett
  • Tyler Eifert

Kicker (2/1)

  • Dustin Hopkins
  • Nick Folk

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Jets Def
  • Jaguars Def

Team 12

Quarterbacks (2/1)

  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Marcus Mariota

Running Backs (3/2)

  • Todd Gurley
  • Latavius Murray
  • LeGarrette Blount

Wide Receivers (4/3)

  • Randall Cobb
  • Calvin Johnson
  • Amari Cooper
  • Malcom Floyd

Tight Ends (2/1)

  • Heath Miller
  • Kyle Rudolph

Kicker (2/1)

  • Justin Tucker
  • Connor Barth

Defense/Special Teams (2/1)

  • Cardinals Def
  • Steelers Def

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Team 11. Everyone seems to be sleeping on Drew Brees this season.

Song that will forever be tied to the NBA playoffs

Was wrestling good last night?

Yes.

Get Hype Game of the Night

Barcelona vs. Malaga — 2:30 p.m. — BEIN Sports

Barcelona is going to have to make some adjustments with Pedro heading off to Chelsea.