This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
OT: ESPN: The Absurdly Annoying
I’ve had it.
One of my simple daily rituals takes me in unfaltering anticipation to the ESPN front page. The ritual that it is, I’ve not missed its execution in eons, and I always get something of a jolt when there’s something genuinely shocking there (news of a big upset, ala Yang over Woods). I check the front pages for my respective sports every day at one time, and then discard all thoughts of ESPN.com from my mind until the next day rears its head or an MGoBlog topic/diary links me back to it briefly. But not today.
Today I had to do the unthinkably dangerous and superstitiously unhealthy thing and check the front page a second time. This time, it led me to an article with several enthused, costumed Mexican soccer fans on the “cover picture.” It looked like an interesting read, something out of the ESPN-controlled “norm” of sports that usually dominates every aspect of the site that excluding little informative niches the size of my pinky that sometimes “gladiator” their way to the front page for a millisecond.
So I read it. Big mistake. Here it is: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090817.
The article was a curiously ignorant shot at American fandom due to its apparent inferiority to Mexican fans’ passion, by ESPN’s “The Sports Guy.”
A few interesting points he made in his article:
He says, ‘I asked a hotel concierge if there was a good place to get coffee, followed by him pointing me toward a Starbucks to our left, then saying, "Whatever you do, don't go right."’
Somehow, this statement translated into OMG MEXICAN FANS ARE SO PASSIONATE THEY MIGHT JUMP ME IF I GO TO THE WRONG PART OF TOWN. Bullshit. The guy most likely told him where not to go because of how likely it is that he’d get kidnapped by drug traffickers, not because of Mexican fandom chasing him around town…
‘The Mexican fans had no problem drowning out "The Star-Spangled Banner" with jeers. They tossed drinks and debris at the U.S. bench for most of the second half ...’
Really? Disrespecting someone else’s national anthem makes them better fans than me or you? Really, Bill Simmons? Stay Classy.
Of course, he then brings up some examples of hostility from his hometown Celts. And uses poor examples of hostility at American sporting games to boot…
‘The U.S. was allotted about 500 seats for Sam's Army (a traveling band of American fans); they were crammed in the upper deck in one corner with armed police officers flanking both aisles.”
Personally, I’d be disgraced and shamed if this ever happened at the Big House. The fact they have to do this is an absolute stigma, and shouldn’t be a point of pride at all…
He says, “In basketball, think of the teams that play beautifully together (like Duncan's Spurs or Nash's pre-Shaq Suns) versus stagnant offenses that stand around watching their best player go one-on-four (like LeBron's Cavs)…” and notes that it’s harder to win games/championships the Cavs way.
HOWEVER, then he says this: “Just like in basketball, you can't win championships in soccer without a LeBron/Kobe-type player.”
That’s a contradictory statement, and Bill Simmons should just shut up. ’04 Pistons? ’05 Spurs? ’08 Celtics? It’s just too easy. And there are more examples in the article, but you get the idea.
This attack on U.S. fandom is one-sided, unjustified, and unfair. This article is another example of how ESPN uses over-flowery words to exaggerate a debatably valid point (usually “devil’s-advocate” style) with an inappropriately named writing figure (“The Sports Guy,” whose knowledge of sports overall hasn’t seemed to qualify him for the title, at least in my opinion, with all due respect).
Look, I have plenty of respect for the sport of soccer; my mom’s family lives in Germany and I was born there, I’ve seen plenty of it, and it’s a fun sport, with beautiful plays, lots of technique, lots of nuances that can take a fan sometimes years to truly understand. But American mainstream sports are not by any means inferior in any of those regards, and especially not in the “passion and quality of fan bases” regard. “The Sports Guy” and ESPN, in this article, reflect an overlying problem and perception in modern sports that being unsportsmanlike or in some cases downright moronic at a game make you a more passionate fan than the man who sits at a stadium two thousand miles away and throws nothing at the players or opposing fans, but still unleashes endless amounts of energy pulling for his team on a Saturday night.
I’m sorry, but if you think that because Fan A can throw a bag of piss at me during a game and that opposing fans who visit his stadium have to be flanked by police officers, you are NOT a better fan than me, or anyone who pulls for a quality team in the USA. You’re an idiot, and a dangerous one to boot. Passion to me is the 95,000 people in Death Valley on a Saturday night, not 100,000 people willing to throw beer at you and their piss at you and call it acceptable. Disgusting.
This is the seventh entry of the 2009 MGoShirt Alert, a design project that will enable MgoBlog readers to vote for upcoming designs in the brand spankin’ new MGoBlogStore.
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Desmond Kevin Howard. The fourth player in the history of football to win both the Heisman and Super Bowl MVP trophies. Some of you also may recall that Howard was signed after a stellar high school career at tailback... where he lasted only three days before Bo moved him to the outside. It's also worth mentioning that when Desmond won the Heisman, he secured a then-unprecedented 85% of all first place votes. There was no controversy here.
I think this shirt pretty much speaks for itself... Certainly it's more of a general Michigan tee than an MGoBlog insider shirt, but I just felt it was about as classic as it can get. I personally, would wear this shirt until it's as grungy as my legendary 1997 Nike UM team tee.
So, time to vote! What do you guys think?
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***** Five Stars: Desmond Howard
**** Four Stars: Chris Fowler
*** Three Stars: Lee Corso
** Two Stars: Mark May
* One Star: damn buckeye Kirk Herbstreit
As far as yesterday, I think we've learned that when it's finally time for Brian to reveal his plot to diplomatically conquer the world, I am clearly NOT the best choice for ambassador to Spain, Mexico, or large chunks of western Maryland. I think it's fairly clear that "Tacopants for Heisman" was the preferred choice over "No quiero," and I guess the question is whether or not the general public wants to see that as an actual voting choice-- yes or no? I still have yet to reveal my own BTN-practice-inspired-Tacopants design, and there's quite a few more to drop as well. See you tomorrow for another round of-- MGoShirt Alert!
Due to real time updating, we're doing it via diary tonight. Also, I've noticed how crappy the diary editor is, so sorry for frequent updates as it keeps screwing up the html.
Tonight at midnight is the signing deadline for all drafted MLB prospects. If they don't sign tonight, they either go to college for 3 years or sit out (play in independent or foreign leagues) until next year's draft. Michigan has three recruits drafted, Daniel Fields (Tigers - 6th), Derek Dennis (Rays - 10th), and Patrick Biondi (Tigers 35th).
Fields, son of career minor leaguer and one time Tigers hitting coach Bruce Fields, did indeed sign with the Tigers around 10:30pm tonight. Fields was widely considered the top prospect out of Michigan this year (he or Dennis depending who you asked). He is expected to receive a 7-figure bonus for signing and attend the next few weeks in Lakeland, FL as the minor league season ends at the end of this month.
From the Jason Beck Tigers Blog:
"It was a very tough decision," Fields said Monday night, "because I'd fallen in love with Michigan ever since I went on my visit. It was a very tough decision. It was actually pretty hard calling coach [Rich] Maloney and telling him I wasn't coming."
The 7-figure bonus was way above the normal compensation for a 6th round pick, but his commitment to UM was the main culprit to his fall from the first 3 rounds to the 6th. The Tigers will probably get a slap on the wrist from Commissioner Bud Selig for the salary inflation but probably nothing more.
This is a pretty big loss for Michigan as Fields could have been a starting middle infielder this upcoming season. With Kevin Cislo graduating, the second base job is up for grabs and his to take.
In other signing news, Derek Dennis may be having a couple extra suitors at his door tonight. The Rays' top two prospects, LeVon Washington (2B) and Kenny Diekroeger (SS) both chose college over the pros. This leaves the Rays with Dennis as their top remaining unsigned middle infielder.
Dennis sounded like a Michigan lock only two months ago, but he was also invited to take batting practice with All Star third baseman Evan Longoria. Nothing's been heard since that June quote, so Dennis could still be mulling over his options.
If we hear anything about his signing tonight or tomorrow, I'll update you here.
Everything I've continued to read still has Dennis as a 100% Michigan lock.
The Freep also ran their article on Fields, where he described coach Maloney as "the main reason why I chose Michigan. I love him to death."
I have about a hundred updates for my computer and I have finally gained access to some high speed internet, but now I have to kill time while I wait. One thing I have always wanted to do is see a game at a different venue for the entire regular season. I thought I would share what my plan would be this year if I could make all the trips. So I hope you enjoy my theoretical game plan of travel based out of the Washington DC area. Attendance numbers – Wikipedia, Mileage – Google, Pre-Season Ranking – Bleacher Report (I know this means nothing)
Week 1: Lots of good games but a trip up to New York is possible, so I chose Minnesota(43) @ Syracuse(93). Carrier Dome in Syracuse holds 49,500. 374 miles from DC. 6 hour and 18 minute drive. Would be strange being inside for the first game of the season, but should be a good game in which Minnesota wins.
Week 2: Notre Dame(36) @ Michigan(75). My ticket is purchased. 521 miles. 8 hour and 36 minute drive. You know the rest.
Week 3: Nebraska(29) @ Virginia Tech(8) Lane Stadium holds 66,233. 265 miles. 4 hour and 19 minute drive. Should be a big game, especially if VT beats Alabama in their first game.
Week 4: Iowa(23) @ Penn State(4). Beaver Stadium holds 107,282. 215 miles. 3 hour and 45 minute drive. Both teams should be 3-0 at this point, plus woo night game.
Week 5: Virginia(89) @ North Carolina(35). Kenan Stadium holds 60,000 and is supposed to be very scenic. 269 miles. 4 hour and 36 minute drive.
Week 6: Duke(82) @ NC State(48). Carter Finley Stadium holds 57,583. 281 miles. 4 hour and 32 minute drive. Should just stay in North Carolina for the week after the Virginia – UNC game. I’d get to see what should be two easy wins in one state!
Week 7: Marshall(98) @ West Virginia(18). Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium holds 60,000. 207 miles. 3 hour and 27 minute drive.
Week 8: Georgia Tech @ Virginia(89). Scott Stadium holds 61,500 and has what might be one of the longest full names in college football. The Carl Smith Center, Home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium. 111 miles. 2 hour and 13 minute drive.
Week 9: Miami(41) @ Wake Forest(39). BB&T Field at Groves Stadium holds 31,500. 337 miles. 5 hour and 33 minute drive. Starting to get later in the season, but what should be a solid ACC matchup.
The next three games are a bit of wishful thinking, but could be done, technically.
Week 10: Florida State(31) @ Clemson(56). Memorial Stadium holds 80,301. 530 miles. 8 hour and 37 minute drive. Death Valley!
Week 11: Florida(1) @ South Carolina(55). Williams-Brice Stadium holds 80,250. 479 miles. 7 hour and 30 minute drive.
Week 12: Vanderbilt(51) @ Tennessee(34). Neyland Stadium holds 102,037. 483 miles. 7 hour and 38 minute drive. Lane Kiffin drives an orange lamborghini with OMG shirtless Eric Berry on the hood onto the field for their Heisman campaign.
Week 13: Boston College(76) @ Maryland(65). Byrd Stadium holds 51,055. 0 miles. Yay metro!
Week 14: Cincinnati(47) @ Pittsburgh(17). Heinz field holds 65,050. 246 miles. 4 hour and 14 minute drive. Brian Kelly in an NFL stadium?
Week 15: Army(77) @ Navy(32). Lincoln Financial Field holds 68,582. 139 miles. 2 hour and 37 minute drive. More NFL stadiums?
15 games. 29 football teams. (Cavaliers twice.) 4457 miles driven. 1,048,374 screaming fans. (If they all sold out). The fall of a lifetime.
Anyone ever dream of doing something like this? What games on the list would you skip/ replace? What region of the country would you base out of? It’s tough and takes a bit but if you have the time make your own. What games/stadiums have you always wanted to go to? One year in my life I will get to do something like this and it will be epic. Only 15 minutes longer to finish my download!
I'm not sure this is worth a diary; in fact, I tried to post it as a comment to the minor foofaraw in the comments in the Terry Talbott commitment post but I am an old man and couldn’t figure out how to do it in the reply.
Anyway, there is some minor ongoing debate about whether or not OSU pwns UM or vice versa, with those adopting the former position wishing to ignore the first decade or two's worth of games and those adopting the latter wishing to, well, not ignore them.
So, below is a handy graph I put together that allows you to calculate the UM winning percentage (100 minus which is not the OSU percentage, since that figure includes ties) from 1897 to 2008, using two different cumulative percentages.
The blue line calculates, for each year, the cumulative winning percentage up to that year. So, if you take 1957 as the reference point, you'll see that UM had won about 63% of the games up to that point. If you go all the way to 2008, you'll see that UM has won 54% of the games (i.e., in the whole series).
The red line calculates, for each year, the winning percentage from 2008 back to that year. So, again taking 1957, the graph indicates that UM has won 44% of the UM/OSU games from 1957 to 2008.
Note that the first point in the red line is equal to the last point in the blue line, or 54%. Also, the blue line is generally more favorable to UM, the red line more favorable to OSU. That's how come I chose the colors!
Note also the, erm, distressing trend from 1987 to 2008. So, from 1987 to 2008, UM won about half the games. The more recent the window of observation, the worse things look for UM; hence the shorter preferred time horizon for many of the Buckeye faithful. Conversely, the longer back one goes the better things look for UM; hence, the longer preferred horizon for UM fans.
Now you have all of the data you need to make whatever selective, cherry picked point you want to make. You're welcome.
Is our mascot useless*?
Being a student of U of M and being raised in a house where an entire bathroom was created into a shrine for all things maize and blue, I certainly know of the tradition of the Victors, "GO BLUE", and anything else possibly Michigan in character. However, besides a cheap, furry, stuffed "wolverine" with an M on the front, I can't really say I identify anything about the wolverine creature with the great University of Michigan. Is it possible we need to simply can the mascot, and be "Michigan"?
I must admit, one of the factors in my analysis is that, unlike many other (debatably) great sports schools, we really don't do anything with our mascot. We don't have any hand signals (like the Gators or Longhorns), no prancing mascot on the sideline (thank God), or even a wolverine that shoots lasers out of its eyes! With the exception of "the Claw" that we do on fourth down (and I rather liked the straight-up chop better), it seems as if anything related to the wolverine is missing from the University of Michigan.
* Please, at this point, consider my good health and your conscience as a fellow MGoBlogger before negging me into a bottomless pit where the minions of the emperor of space will feed on my soul.