Phil Caldwell

Sports Blogging With a Grin

Posts Tagged ‘Bleacher Report

Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners May End Up On Outside Looking In

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Originally published September 21, 2011

All month college football fans have been tantalized by the prospect of two arrogant and yet hated college football programs potentially ruining their conference. Rolled eyes have accompanies all these rumors of recent meetings and scary goings-on behind closed doors and oil wells.

Texas and Oklahoma. Sort of the Ma and Pa of college football in a creepy inbred sort of way.

Storied programs? Yes, but perhaps not made of the fabric we out west would like to see in our snooty football league.

Letting these two join the Pac-12 would be like building a chicken-roamed trailer park square in the middle of Beverly Hills. Who wants this riff-raff in our neighborhood?

Two misinformed, yet self-righteous programs under the illusion that the rest of the country is dying to have them join. Just like an unwanted party guest who shows up with a drunken siliconed-induced fake-blond on his arm, even though his invitation was “lost in the mail.”

First of all, there’s the Texas Longhorns. Nobody cares nearly as much about the Texas Longhorns as the Texas Longhorns care about the Texas Longhorns.

Stadiums full of unruly fans showing up in ripped shorts and cowboy boots, grazing fries and duds on their 20 foot grills midst a hootnanny of down-South country music. Kick up the crap y’all, here comes painted-on jeans and tattooed loose women. Yeeehaw!!

This is a program with its own television network, gotten from backstabbing the Big 12 a mere 18 months ago during another edge-of-your-seat yet disturbingly similar potential Big 12 breakup caused entirely by—ahem—the Texas Longhorns.

The regents of the University of Texas used the insecure league to wrest control of full TV monies, similar to the Notre Dame deal with NBC, with the one exception being that people across the nation actually care about Notre Dame.

But the Texas Longhorns in Florida or Portland?

Not so much, unless you count replanted uncie and auntie’s lawn party of similar decrepit Longhorn fans throwing eggs at the neighbors and puking on your nicely kept lawns.
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And then there’s the Oklahoma Sooners. Fans in these parts fondly remember Oklahoma for their idiot fans parading a horse-drawn wagon onto the field in the 1984 Orange Bowl, or the big Brian Bosworth scandal in which Bosworth bilked the Seahawks out of $11 million soon before being steam-rolled by Bo Jackson on Monday Night Football with Howard Cosell.
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But Oklahoma in Seattle? I don’t think so.
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We still haven’t forgiven this cow-infested area for ripping off the Sonics in typical flat-topped fashion of deceit and lies, so you really think we’re about to cave in on the sanctity of the beloved Pac-12 for this group of paid amateur athletes?
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No we’re just fine with the way things are, and being as we just allowed the admission of two other storied yet un-kosher programs into this league with far more class, you really think we need all the gun racks and flat-red GMC pickups in these parts?

That’s why we have the Oregon Ducks, to serve those uncouth yet rare needs for the uneducated and stupid.

Nope, if it were up to me, I’d pass on the dusty tornado division where showered women are as rare as Texas rainstorms in July, and opt instead for local programs that continually screw up the BCS Bowl picture in December.

How about the bucking Broncos of Boise State, along with someone like the Hawaii Warriors as potential members for a new super Pac 16 conference? Oh sure, Boise would have to lose that cornea-searing blue field they’re so proud about, but you’d think they’d be willing to trade up for big-time tradition.

And Hawaii? Are you kidding me? How many of us would rather hit the beaches of Waikiki on a road trip than the dusty Motel Six located across the interstate from local tractor bone yards? Who cares a

bout the money these programs would bring? I’m talking vacations during November.

Sand. Long honey-blond hair over firm and tanned bodies. Surfer-dudes with surfer-chicks on big curling waves. Sounds a bit more appealing than aging wind-leathered motorcycle mamas with grizzled skin and hairy pits.

For that matter, Oklahoma State and all the other Texas programs need not show up either. I’d much rather have San Diego State and/or BYU in the Pac-12. There is no comparison for road trips in San Diego vs road trips in Texas.

After all, the Pac in the Pac-12 stands for “Pacific,” as in “Pacific Ocean.”

Nope, y’all schools back there in Hicksville need to either work things out with the Big 12, or start your own league of saw-toothed students and Hooters-employed cheerleaders. Out west we do things a bit differently and we don’t need all the Texas arrogance riding in here like a posse on steroids.

You too Oklahoma. Take it elsewhere. You’ve already burned your bridges out here in the west with that last NBA dog and pony show that we’re still ticked off about!

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Read more from the same author:

Auburn vs Oregon: Cockroaches and Flying Insects Killed from ESPN’s pregame coverage!

or

Boise State vs Utah in Las Vegas: Broncols Defeat Utes for Absolutely No Reason

Seattle Seahawk Fan Criticism of Tim Ruskel Over 2009 NFL Aaron Curry Pick Unfair

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Fans in Seattle are aghast at the sudden demotion and trade of a player pre-destined as the next Dick Butkus, before he was drafted with the first pick in the 2009 NFL draft.

Seahawk management felt this “safe pick” was one where they could not miss, to fill a position they sorely needed filled.  At 6 feet 2 inches and 255 points with 4.52 speed, he seemed like a sure thing.  An expected Pro-Bowler with great personal character, to anchor the fledgling Seahawk defense for years to come.

He was the highest drafted linebacker in franchise history, and the highest linebacker picked in the NFL draft since Lavar Arrington in 2000.   But when he agreed to renegotiate and shorten contract with unguaranteed money, the handwriting was on the wall.  Especially when fourth-round pick KF Wright ultimately won the battle for the starting strong-side spot.

Curry was promptly shipped off to the Oakland Raiders this week, for a paltry seventh-round pick in 2012, a conditional draft pick in 2013, and a case of Cheese Cheetos to be delivered Seahawk headquarters by noon on Friday.

It would be easy to criticize Seahawk management for blowing the pick, but criticism today is merely the worst form of Monday morning quarterbacking done by folks who have no idea what they are talking about.   Who among us has ever drafted a player using the vast complexity it takes to evaluate talent?

In this case, studying old Wake Forest tape does not categorically decipher whether Aaron Curry was truly great because of his own talent, or  because of the talent that surrounded him.  Especially on a team like the feared and loathed Demon Deacons, in the ACC, which is not a football conference that tends to knock the knees of potential opponents.

The third smallest school in FBS in terms of enrollment behind Rice and Tulsa, it is by far, the smallest school playing in a BCS conference.  Therefore it’s not prone to attract national attention unless they upset a more storied football program, which in their case could be anyone they played.

On teams like this, where underrated players are the norm, and these guys surround the favored media-declared superstar, the favored guy might get the accolades when the others actually deserve it.

How difficult it must be, for talent scouts to sort that out.  And even then it’s a gamble.

You can’t tell, for instance, that in the much quicker NFL that he would be slow to decision-make during a play, or that he would tend to overrun plays where he should have stayed home.  How could you know this?

Especially when he showed such promise during his first five games, and had every pundit in the land pointing to his can’t miss credentials as a great guy off the field as well as on.  He is smart, caring, and does everything a professional organization expects of their stars.

It’s not like the Seahawks could have brought in Aaron Curry to play a few games with the professional team before drafting him.  Thus it’s a bit of a cheap shot for fans to rip on then general-manager Tim Ruskell and other Seahawk talent scouts after-the-fact.

Two Seahawk coaches, Jim Mora and Pete Carroll, both targeted Curry as a strong side linebacker, where you have to be strong and athletic and crazed enough to react with instinct instead of head smarts.   And yet in the ACC, where players are certainly not as quick and determined as they are in the NFL, how could you possibly know how Aaron Curry or anyone else for that matter, would react on a professional football field?

You can’t know, all you can do is play the odds.  You can evaluate to your heart’s delight, but it comes down to game day players who have that extra gear that kicks in when games that count start play. 

As a coach and talent scout you can’t measure that in collegiate athletes, all you can do is put stop watches on their speed, and evaluate how they play during a scant handful of post-season games where other college stars are brought together.  Games in which sure-thing picks tend to avoid.

None of this is precise, nor is it guaranteed.  And thus players like Aaron Curry, and Steve Niehaus, and Brian Bosworth, and Rick Mier, all high can’t-miss Seahawk draft picks, went bust.  They didn’t pan out in the long run.

That’s not to say that Aaron Curry will be ensconced with this group for the remainder of his career.  But is to say that the critics need to stuff socks in their pie holes and back off.  It’s very easy to launch missiles from the safety of the unpaid sidelines of fandom.

It’s not so easy when you’re the guy in the hot seat evaluating Aaron Curry and a whole host of other “can’t miss” college football prospects following what could have been a freak high-performance season they may never repeat.  And thus even professional talent scouts miss the sure things while others get lucky finding untapped free agents who eventually become better.

Welcome to the NFL.  Welcome to professional sports.  If it was easy, we’d all be doing it.

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As published at the FanVsFan website:

http://fanvsfan.com/articles/seattle-seahawk-fan-criticism-of-tim-ruskel-over-2009-nfl-aaron-curry-pick-unfair

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Read more from the same author: 

Auburn vs Oregon: Cockroaches and Flying Insects Killed from ESPN’s pregame

or

Bosie State vs Utah in Las Vegas: Broncos Defeat Utes for Absolutely No Reason


Written by PhilCaldwell

October 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Is Bleacher Report Losing It’s Cutting-Edge Freshness and Going Corporate?

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I may end up getting myself cast off Bleacher Report for good with this rant, but what the heck.  Taking risks are what makes life exciting!

As a writer for Bleacher/Report,

Bleacher Report is one of the great stories of the “new journalism” era.   It is a place where young writers trying to get started, can advance up the writer chain with a “points system.”   It’s great.

It’s also a place where some of us older guys finally have the freedom to cut loose and write what we really feel.  There’s none of the business politics holding us back that is so rampant and routine at every single newspaper in the country. B/R is a young company started by young guys, most of whom don’t even know about the battles common, where writers have daily punching bouts with their editors.

Sadly things are changing at Bleacher Report, but it was bound to happen.  It cannot be avoided.

A couple weeks ago I wrote a totally sarcastic and absolutely hilarious (<–note witty sarcasm) article about the Texas Longhorns.  Now I’m not a Longhorn-hater particularly, but I found it interesting how Texas just may find themselves on the outside looking in when all these new NCAA football leagues are finalized.  Nobody wants Texas in their conference, because of the reputation they enjoy as being fiscal bullies with special rules.  I wrote a nice long, sorta fast-moving piece about that very subject.

Well after about 2500 reads in a couple days, an Oklahoma fan got all offended.  He said it was because I was hostile to women in the piece because of a quip (I said something like Sooner women have leather skin and tend to lose the razor in places where we’d prefer they keep using it).  Something like that.  Totally me horsing around like I do when I write.

Well the article got pulled.  And although the reason given was that the B/R staff (who will remain nameless) felt the content was “trollish,”  because I was flipping too much crap at Texas and Oklahoma fans. I felt it was because this guy didn’t like me making wise cracks about his favorite team.   In other words, I was giving them too hard a time with my article, and we can’t have that. We can’t offend these very important people of higher-ups at institutions.   We can’t have guys taking shots at other football programs just for fun.  Especially when it’s at the Oklahoma Sooners (all stand up and salute please).  You can’t take cheap shots at the Oklahoma Sooners you idiot.  Do you know how many big bucks are there are down in the flat-lands of Oklahoma?!?  Ever hear of oil wells?!?

Which is interesting, because what attracted all of us veteran writers to Bleacher Report in the first place, was the fact that here was a new website that was sorta “Wild-Wild-West.” Unlike crusty old newspaper editors, here you could write anything, and you didn’t really have to worry about your editor pulling the piece, because you took cheap shots at a sacred football institution that just happens to have a whole bunch of wealthy alumni, some of whom provided start-up funds for your site.

That’s precisely what was so attractive about Bleacher Report!  Fans could be fans.  Fans could bait the other team’s fans, raging debates would break out, insults would fly, and it was one big tailgating party in print.  A hootenanny of epic proportions.  But we’re all having harmless fun here so what’s the big deal??  College football teams.  We don’t know these guys other than their names.  Why NOT take cheap shots?!  This is where cheap shots live and breathe.  College football forums by college football fans.

See that was what was so cool about Bleacher Report, and the concept of the site.  That’s what got B/R the hits in the first place.  B/R was doing this sports thing from a new young angle, that hadn’t been seen in the more traditional media.  And guys like me, who have long-since gotten over the notoriety of seeing our names in print, could sorta air it out here, like we can’t everywhere else.  But that’s what made Bleacher Report so unique.

Now it appears, Bleacher Report is maturing (unlike me), and we’re now seeing a bit more hesitance to allow classless boobs to write wise cracks.  They’d like to see this more traditional.  Lose the T-shirts, let’s go back to the white shirts and ties and sell life insurance.  This isn’t the Boston Red Sox, this is the NY Yankees.  Corporate-style media, so now it’s time to stifle these undisciplined punks, and let’s get this group of renegades house-broken and back to the confines of semi-boring reading material without jokes.

Now I totally understand why Bleacher Report feels the need to tighten up the writing standards (ie: more profits from more exposure, which you can’t do if you’re taking cheap shots at the Texas Longhorns).

But I would argue you’re also killing the freshness and the attraction that led many of your readers to the site in the first place.  Fans like to argue and pop off about their teams.  But now suddenly we can’t write certain things about certain teams?  Really?!

Let’s go back to my Texas example again.  Do I hate Texas?  Well no, I didn’t.  But now that my article got pulled because some of my funnies got Texas alumni sideways ….. well let’s just say cheap shots may have to find their way back to the between-the-lines method, like we’ve done for years in the traditional print media.  You can still get your shots in, but it’s not like the NY Media anymore.  Nope, now it’s like the Duluth, Minnesota media, where everything is polite and politically correct and unoffensive.

Me quipping to the B/R staff during this exchange “Well it looks like the Big12 isn’t the only place where Texas gets special rules.” probably didn’t earn me an invite to the B/R Christmas Party at the end of the year, either.

“Hey you punk!  You can’t say Texas is like an uninvited guest showing up with a plastic blond on his arm while everybody else rolls their eyes!!  This is Texas!!  The Texas Longhorns!!  Everybody LOVES the Texas Longhorns!!  And if they don’t, we’ll have them censored so fast it will make the critic’s keyboard melt!”

My point is that yes, I admit it, some of my stuff can be crass and tends to tease certain groups of fans.  But that’s why we read Bleacher Report.  It was different than all the other boring CBS.comand FOX.com stuff.  That’s precisely what made it so attractive to your readers, and yet now it appears the goal is to kill that freedom and go back to stuffy frowning editors refusing to let us write witty and cheap-shot rhetoric.

Now what fun is that??!

Why Seattle Should Embrace the WNBA’s Storm

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Storm stars Bird, Cash and Jackson embrace after the final buzzer. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Last month in Seattle we saw our mostly-ignored women’s professional basketball team win its second title in six years. This in a city that has seen scant titles from professional teams.

This part of the country is not known for our athletic prowess.

We’re more famous for our nerds and unshowered musicians than we are great athleticism.

We have very little to live for in this city when it comes to sports. It rains a lot and makes us all cranky. We’re negative and we complain too much because of it.

Some of us don’t shave enough. A lot of us are sorta ugly when you think about it. Too many hairy backs, bad teeth, and smells that can melt steel. We just don’t do the athletic thing all that well during the long months of wet and dark.

Some of our men aren’t great looking either. We prefer hemp festivals up here to marathons. The most excitement we have is watching duck boats barely miss sea planes landing on Lake Union. And you should see what a mess we are during the wary months of January and February now that the Sonics are gone!

Now I’m not saying it’s boring in Seattle, but when it comes to professional sports we should be bouncing off the walls over a team that wins the title after sweeping opponents in the playoffs. It happens so rarely in these parts.

I suppose the city has seen glimpses of success in the past, but are these titles really “major?”

Of course, we all know about the NBA’s orphaned Supersonics winning a title in 1979, several decades before Seattle’s facilities were declared inadequate by a hostile NBA commissioner shortly after they were built.

But before that it had been a very long drought. You had to go clear back to the infant NHL’s days when the long-since departed Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanly Cup in 1917, before some of our great-grandparents had been conceived.

There were various titles by minor league professional teams around here too.  The Seattle Indians of the new Pacific Coast League won a title in 1924. Two decades later the Seattle Rainiers won four straight league pennants in the more matured PCL from 1940 thru 1943 and then two more in 1951 and 1955.

Can we brag about those teams? I dunno. Not many in Seattle are willing to count any of those as legit major professional sports titles.

The Storm won a WNBA title this year, four years after the last, while going 21-0 at Key Arena! And it was nearly sold out for some of those games, with raucous fans shaking the rafters and hugging each other like long-lost relatives returning from prison camps.

It was just like the old days. Like the Bulls vs Sonics during the finals of 1996, or the Sonics vs the Suns in 1993. The place rocked! It was loud. It was wild. Fans left with headaches from the noise!

And remember, this is in the same city that just lost the same adored men’s team to another city for allegedly not supporting it. To…you remember, that place where watching tornadoes and washing pickup trucks is the norm. Somewhere near Texas. Lots of cows, dust, and flat…I forget the name of that city, but in this city, there’s not a whole lot of reasons to downplay an achievement like this.

The city of Seattle is host to one of the greatest basketball teams to ever hit the hardwood, with several international stars made famous in their homelands because of what they accomplished in our city. But how many of us are jacked up about it like we should be? Like we would be if these were men instead of women?

Not many.

The organization dedicated to bringing the Sonics back have a thing on their website that says “Save our Sonics and Storm.” See because at one time we were worried about losing BOTH teams, not just one.  We ended up keeping the team that wins consistently while ditching the one that did not.

Most males in this city are wholly unimpressed by the accomplishments of the Seattle Storm. “Oh yes,” they muse, “A team incapable of running with an average high school boys team just won the title! Big stinking deal!”

See most of us males feel we could be superstars in this league of perceived “barely passable basketball” that the women play. I’ll admit it. I too was once convinced I could back down Lauren Jackson and drive the rock down her throat, and I’m only a 5’9″ white guy who gets winded pushing the lawn mower.

One of my friends explained that this lack of male respect is because women “Don’t have an above the rim game like the men.” You see. “They are slow and methodical and take set shots, and the basketball they play is boring. I could beat them,” he boasted

Me being deep with thought and puffed up with testosterone, whose greatest accomplishment on a sports field involves illicit behavior with cheerleader wannabes, I used to buy this nonsense until I watched the WNBA finals this year.

I saw Sue Bird reigning three pointers from 35 feet away that would have made Downtown Freddie Brown proud. I saw Lauren Jackson completely dominate double and triple teams by frantic Atlanta Dream opponents. I saw professional basketball players that, frankly guys, could kick your butts.

I saw Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry drive the paint with Seattle’s Swin Cash hanging all over her and twisting defenders while speeding past them for very difficult shots.

I’m suddenly not convinced second tier male teams could win against this team.  In fact I’m skeptical first teams could win against this Storm squad. I’m also pretty sure most of you over-heated males would have severe problems carrying their luggage, let alone keeping them out of the paint.

This may come as a shock to you former stars with flab that flaps in the wind, but I’m telling you fellas, these women are pretty good! They can hit long and do things with a basketball that you can’t do. I’m serious here boys. Lauren Jackson would be turning you into knots and taking you down. This is a very very good basketball team.

So…before we hear any more postulating about how great you were in high school, might I suggest you take in a game or two of women’s WNBA basketball this coming year? If you feel like a stud, fine, maybe you can convince Lauren Jackson to take you on, one on one, during practice? She does that you know. Takes on former male college jocks and humiliates them before media pundits for fun. Just to shut them up.

And while she’s doing that, perhaps the rest of you Seattleites aught to jump in on the Seattle Storm’s bandwagon? Because this team is for real folks, and it quite likely is the best team this city has ever seen when it comes to the hardwood. It deserves our respect.

The Storm are champions for the second time in six years. Embrace it Seattle!

Originally written & posted in BleacherReport.com at

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/485415-embrace-the-wnba-storm-seattle-for-they-are-champions

Written by PhilCaldwell

October 9, 2010 at 7:12 am