Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category

The Blackhawks remain undefeated (in regulation) a quarter of the way through the NHL season and coming home from a ridiculously successful extended road trip. Tom Thibodeau and The Bulls continue to plug right along, anxiously awaiting the return of Número Uno. And here I am, about to talk to you about some motherfucking Rugby.

Fumbling through Saturday’s monotonous network programming, I stumbled upon some good old fashioned Rugby. On NBC, no less.

Am I crazy or is Rugby not only completely badass, but also waaaaay cooler than Football? Where I come from, Rugby doesn’t even exist. I’ve heard of this sport you speak of, but seeing it is a-whole-nother-thing

Are you feeling a little empty since the American football season ended? Need something to fill that void? Post Super Bowl blues gotcha down? Have a hankering for something familiarly similar yet maybe just for you? Might I suggest…Rugby?

Rugby’s like football on steroids and amphetamines if NFL players weren’t already on steroids and amphetamines. It’s like if football was one long, constant backwards lateral pass and what looks like a touchdown is worth 5 points. Where kickers look to posess a skill set beyond one precise motion. Where there are no pads. Where the ball is bigger and harder to handle. Where the halves are hella short. Where the plays are fast and furious and you mit find yourself in an organized scrum. Come to think of it, Rugby is nothing like football.

I never learned this on Flight Of The Conchords, but New Zealanders rule supreme in it. Awesome.

After taking in a full Saturday docket of Rugby, I still don’t completely understand the rules/scoring/much of it at all, but I do know this: it is fun as hell to watch.

SPORTS!

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The SaniTERRYum XLVII: Super Bowl Edition

Posted: February 4, 2013 by Terry Carlton in Football, NFL, SaniTERRYum, Sports
Tags: , ,

Super Bowl XLVII: A Tale of Two Fuses
The 49ers will be contenders for awhile, Ray Lewis can fuck right off, the power went out, and Beyonce killed it. Nutshell. Boom.

Anyone who knows me knows I love the city of San Francisco and all it has to offer, including their football 49ers, so watching yesterday’s game was painful in a few ways.

Cocktail of the game concocted courtesy of the bro-in-law consisted of Smirnoff Citrus, Arnold Palmer, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, but no amount of delicious liquor can make me forget what a classless, mean jerk Ray Lewis truly is. Greatest Middle Linebacker to ever play the game or not, his persona and off the field shenanigans are questionable at best. But let’s talk about the game on the field before I get carried away here.

The game started questionably for the San Francisco 49ers, gaining 20 yards on a well-executed 1st down pass play, only to have it called back on an illegal formation penalty. From there, the Baltimore Ravens seized momentum and held onto it until the end of the first half and into the first blackout in Super Bowl history.

Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco made huge first half plays, extending would-be sacks into offensive opportunity and eluding would-be tacklers to give his receivers chances beyond belief to come back to badly thrown balls to make plays. Seriously though, has Joe Flacco EVER hit a receiver in stride? Ever? Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, showed little to no resemblance to the quarterback we’ve grown to love over the last few weeks. He even managed to throw the first interception in San Francisco Super Bowl history, a feat that is quite frankly, astounding. The 49ers have played in a lot of Super Bowls, and to think that Joe Cool/Steve Young never threw a single INT blows my mind, albeit only slightly.

The second half’s start just brought more of the same gridiron shock and hash mark horror for the 49er faithful. Jacoby Jones took the half’s opening kickoff to the house for a Super Bowl record-tying 108 yards, clearly just as inspired by the Destiny’s Child reunion as the rest of us.

Then, the lights went out. Literally. No, seriously. A power outage knocked out the lights at The Superdome, resulting in a delay of over half an hour. And everyone rooting for San Fran hoped for a Mulligan. This being the Harbaugh’s Bro Bowl and all, here’s a thought: you ever play Tecmo Bowl (or any sports game, for that matter) and start losing badly, so you “accidentally” reset the system? That’s what Jim did to big brother John when the power went out. There’s my conspiracy theory, but it turned out to be for naught.

They might as well have gotten the desired restart though. The game played out as A Tale of Two Fuses, with San Francisco making a hell of a game out of it after all. But Flacco did what he does: throw the back shoulder pass, throw the jumpball, and watch his receivers make plays for him in clutch situations, something San Francisco’s wideouts have done all year but failed to do last night. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree usually haul in those on-the-money throws from Kaepernick, but they dropped balls and ended up strangely as non-factors. The Baltimore WRs have been coming up big for Flacco and the Ravens this entire postseason, and they’ve been the hottest team at the right time. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: the eventual champion in any sport is not always the best team in the league. Champions are crowned according to whose momentum swings favorably at the end of the season.

And of course, the Super Bowl wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without the commercials. And it wasn’t the greatest commercial crop in recent memory, but XLVII had some highlights:

The Volkswagen commercial with the dude from Minnesota who speaks with a Jamaican accent.

For the farmer in all of us: the Dodge commercial with Paul Harvey’s powerful testimonial from the 1978 FFA Convention. “God made a farmer.”

It felt as though the Ravens had XLVII wrapped up for the majority of the game. Then the clock ran out on the 49ers, and I was left with the weirdly unsettling feeling of accepting Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens as Super Bowl Champions.

The story of Ray Lewis ends with him on top of the NFL and atop the topic of conversation for years to come, for both his play and his foul play.

That’s so Raven…

TBL2

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

Andy

  • Is it possible for the White Sox to trade Alexei to the Padres for Headley? What needs to make that happen [sic]?
  • The White Sox should trade Tank and prospects for a solid hitting LH left fielder.
  • Floyd for prospects, sign BMac to a one year deal and pray the Tigers get injured. That’s my off-season plan.

Moe

  • That’s one I hadn’t heard of. I think the Pads are going to want some tier one prospects for Headley and may ask for Sanchez+. Trading Tank is a possibility. I think you can move him for some RP help.
  • BMac is a good deal too, but he might be homer prone at the Cell.

Andy

  • He needs to go, no place for all those L’s [sic} when Dunn has his.
  • I’m really out of ideas for the Sox. Wish they would have tanked all last year. Then they would be rebuilding. 😦

Moe

  • He doesn’t walk yet. His approach is flawed at the fundamental level.
  • Haha I fell [sic] you.
  • Feel

Andy

  • Not L’s. K’s

Moe

  • Yeah I figured. They are still talking to Youk. I think they should pursue Salty, maybe that’s the Tank trade.

Andy

  • I’m not feeling Youk for a full season. Oh shit I forgot the k machine Tyler Flowers.\
  • Yeah Tank needs to go, I guess Salty could help that.

Moe

  • They need a catcher if they want to be serious.
  • Another arm would help too. Floyd is a popular name. Would you go for a Floyd+Tank for Salty and a pen arm?
  • And ‘specs headed the WSox way?

Andy

  • In all honesty they need to sign AJ back. Not because he’s going to play anything like he did last year. But just the way he handles the staff. They should fall back a bit without him. However, a solid catcher could stop that. Flowers can’t be the guy. 
  • Yes I’d take that trade.
  • Still need another decent left-handed bat.

Moe

  • And a swing starter. They need to cover for Peavy/Danks

Andy

  • Yeah I’m not sure about Danks at all. I feel better with Peavy and last year. But he’s always a liability.

Moe

  • Yeah he had a great year but you never know with that guy. Let’s assume BMac for a moment. Danks-Peavy-Floyd-BMac, who’s the 5? -Ed note. DERP

Andy

  • Still think they need to get lucky and have Detroit lose three guys. Also Cy Chen needs to get the hell out of the Central lol.
  • Quintana
  • If Quintana fails I guess you go through the gambit of guys they found success with during the season.

Moe

  • You gotta stretch out Quintana. SP’s need to give you 900IP at least IMO.
  • Err
  • Santiago

Andy

  • Yeah Santiago is probably the sixth guy. So keep him in the minors. What can Floyd net from a trade? Prospect wise?

Moe

  • Floyd is dodgy but he makes 29 starts a year. That has value. You can get some mid level guys or a solid MLB ready RP with him IMO. The problem becomes filling up his 175 IP.
  • You need to flip Tank for an SP if you can at that point.

Andy

  • Yeah I thought maybe two mid level guys. 
  • You forgot SaleEd. Note – DERPYDERPDERP

  • Yeah if you can’t get BMac you have to flip for a real starter.

Moe

  • Duh.
  • So Sale-Peavy-Danks-BMac-Quintana and Santiago as the swing.
  • You can flip Floyd for a C and some pen arms.
  • And Tank for the same (pen arms). Still should probably get another swing guy to be sure though.

Andy

  • Still not enough to make a dent on Detroit
  • Back to the drawing board 😦

Moe

  • Nope and the 2nd WC is a bitch.
  • lol
  • Just go YOLO and sign Boozey and Depressed.

Andy

  • Haha!!

Ed. Note – Yeah, this happened at midnight so there is a lot of weird/stupid mixed in. Bottom line, the White Sox are going to have to get real creative or hope for a plane crash if they want to compete in the Central in our opinion.

 

Think you can fix the White Sox? Let us know how.

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mrubiophoto52@gmail.com
twitter: @MRubio52

Cubs fans should take note of the Evan Longoria extension. The 3B is locked up to be in Tampa Bay until 2023, well beyond his peak value as a player. His best years are likely to be in Tampa (unless he is traded).

Chicago Cubs fans have a reflex, a default setting that refuses to be turned off. We desperately want to win a World Series but our collective idea of how that should be accomplished is just off. When Prince Fielder hit the free agent market while the Cubs were beginning the tear down phase we the fans judged that the big market Cubs should sign Fielder and try to compete THIS YEAR.

In fact, anytime a free agent hits the market (Pujols comes to mind immediately) we the Cubs fans pine for said player  desperately hoping that he is the solution to the apparent Curse of the Cubs. It’s what we default to. It’s how we react to big names that can be had for big bucks.

It’s incredibly short-sighted and given recent events it’s likely to become more and more unlikely.

TV revenue is going up in baseball which means that more teams have more money to play with. I mean hell, the Dodgers pulled off trades for Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett, and Brandon League while taking on an ungodly amount of payroll and then bid 25.7MM to have exclusive negotiating rights with Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin. And none of that money matters as much because they just got a TV deal worth 6-7 billion dollars. I think they will be able to afford to keep their young talent on the roster.

More teams are going to try and extend their talent like the Nationals did with Zimmerman, what the Rays just did with Longoria, and what the Cubs did with Castro. The upcoming free agent classes are pretty weak. Going on a spending spree and trying to fix it all via free agency is a flawed plan, there aren’t enough solutions that are likely to hit the market anytime soon.

We don’t like the rebuilding thing. It bothers us as fans. I’ve heard a lot of arguments to the contrary, mainly the “I pay a lot of money for season tickets I want them to go for it NOW!” variety (other hits? “How long do I have to wait?” “We’re a big market team we should spend like a big market team.” “We don’t know if any of the prospects will be any good.”).

Yet the Cubs will continue to rebuild. In all honesty the complete tear down isn’t quite complete yet. Soriano and Garza are still on the books and we’re only one draft into this experiment.

The Cubs are going to have to do this with smart player development and good trades. You know, do it like a good baseball organization. There is a tremendous organization in the NL Central that the Cubs will have to deal with. The St. Louis Cardinals have a tremendous mix of star players and great young talent waiting for their turn. If you think the Cubs best option for dealing with a Cardinals organization that is capable of unloading and reloading with good talent is to spend short-term and have an empty cupboard of minor league talent…well, I can’t help you then.

Because I don’t.

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.

email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

“Remember where they were when Pujols had no homers for two months? The thing is they finish in the exact same spot with or without him (Trout) and there was a dominant player to take his team to the playoffs in Miggy.”

-The Internet

Let’s get this out-of-the-way, I don’t think Miguel Cabrera had a better year than Mike Trout did and I also think he was a fine choice for the MVP. This isn’t a case of Zolio Versalles winning the MVP award. It’s not a travesty, nobody was “robbed” of anything, it’s a choice that a group of older baseball writers made and it’s probably the last dying gasp of the dinosaurs that guard the game.

Essentially what the BBWAA told us is that Miggy carried his team to the playoffs while Trout put up empty selfish numbers that did not help his team as much as Miggy did. They are positing that it does not matter that Trout did what he did because the Angels would’ve been in the same place had he not existed at all in 2012.

This is ludicrous and ultimately where I take issue with the MVP vote.

Saying Miggy carried the Tigers to the playoffs assumes that Justin Verlander did not go 5-1 in Sept./Oct. (posting a 1.93 ERA with a 4-1 K/BB ratio), assumes that Prince Fielder didn’t OPS .978 over the same span, assumes that there was zero production from Austin Jackson and Max Scherzer and it also assumes that the White Sox did not collapse in the final stretch of the season.

The Angels actually outplayed the Tigers in a tougher division against tougher opposition, and Mike Trout did put up historic numbers as well. If we look at the whole set of statistics and how they helped their respective teams you have to say that Mike Trout contributed more en total on both offense and defense than Miggy did. This is a case that can be made without the “scary stat-head” creation, WAR. Mike Trout was 4 points of average behind Miguel Cabrera. If Trout gets 5 more hits over the course of a long season he is likely the MVP. Trout got on base at a better clip than Miggy did, Trout did more damage while on base via his ability to steal bases at a high percentage and his base running skills. Mike Trout plays a premium defensive position at an extremely high level, Miggy struggles at an easier defensive position.

The larger conclusion out of this is that the MVP voters do not value defense at all and only see this as a best hitter award which they still arguably got wrong.

Baseball is a game of individual match ups but it’s not basketball, an individual does not give a team +30 Wins. Giving Miggy the award isn’t a crime, but the made up reasons for giving him the award is sad.

Old man rant

I’ve seen a lot of stupid on the internet in recent days. Most of it stems from ESPN blowhards like Rob Parker who still insist that numbers are scary and the WAR guys are still crying in their chocolate milk.

This fucking guy

In the larger picture all the bullshit opinions you’ll read on Twitter usually stem from this “Embrace Debate” crap First Take is shoving down viewer’s throats. This has been extremely well documented elsewhere, ESPN has figured out that what gets people to watch is two guys yelling at each other on every single sports subject there is. This is ridiculous because it assumes that every sports topic has two equal views worth debating.

That line of thinking is false and insane.

You see, what happens when we all “Embrace Debate” on every single issue is that you end up with a lot of wrong, uninformed, stupid idiots on twitter making fun of guys who look at the sport they cover in an objective manner. This doesn’t accomplish anything and it only serves to clutter intellectual space in the collective sports consciousness.

To put it bluntly, it fills our heads with useless bullshit.

What it creates is an entire segment of the sports watching community that thinks they are right and only pursues the information that confirms what they think. Instead of objective analysis we get buzzwords and highlights. Instead of an open exchange of ideas we get people yelling at each other. Instead of people looking to advance the conversation we get a group of people who believe that their way is the right way and there is nothing that can possibly augment or enhance their way of thinking.

Terms like underrated, overrated, great, elite, awful, lose their meaning because they are so often used and misused. We are a sports viewing culture that cares only about the extremes and cares not for the subtlety of it all.

Look, I get that I’m going off on something that really doesn’t matter. It’s just sports. I do think that this is perhaps reflective of our overall line of thinking, however. It’s disheartening to see professionals deny a new idea merely because it flies in the face of what they believe to be an absolute truth.

It reflects poorly on the culture overall when the rejection of new ideas is encouraged.

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.

email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

“I’m hoping we can get this thing moving along. I’m hoping to re-energize (South Florida elected officials). We all have to get together to make this thing happen — everybody who wants to save baseball in South Florida.”

-Jeffery Loria

Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonafacio, Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Omar Infante, John Buck, Josh Johnson. That was the 2012 Opening Day lineup for the Miami Marlins. The same Miami Marlins that went on a spending spree that winter, acquiring Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes. Those Marlins fooled the city of Miami, Miami Dade County, and the state of Florida to invest in a brand new ballpark as a new era of competitive baseball in South Florida was about to begin.

At least that’s what Jeffery Loria told everybody who would listen. He was fucking lying.

Look, we shouldn’t be surprised. This is the same franchise that sold off their best players following a World Series win in 1997. This is the same piece of shit owner that played hard ball with the Expos, sold them to MLB under conspicuous terms, bought the Marlins in a sketchy deal right afterwards, and proceeded to build a World Series Winner…

…And then sold off the pieces again in 2005.

12/5/11: “The owner, Jeffrey Loria, he really wants to win,” [Heath] Bell said. “I heard great things about the ownership there.”

 -@joe_sheehan

 

In an ideal world the Marlins would be contracted. It’s pretty clear that Florida cannot support a Major League Baseball team. They’ve had several chances to enjoy a great Tampa Bay  franchise and they drag ass in the attendance standings. They don’t go to Marlins games. They don’t care about MLB baseball.

The Marlins are a mockery. Heading into the year they were riding high on hype. They sold the baseball viewing public on the acquisitions of high-priced talent and then starting selling that talent midstream. Hanley Ramirez is a Dodger. Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Jose Reyes are about to become Blue Jays. In return the Marlins will get cheap talent and try to sell Miami on a rebuilding plan that might pay off in a few years.

That’s what 508.8 MM will get you, Miami, a half-assed promise of being good in a few years only to watch the owner rinse and repeat.

There’s a strong possibility that it will too, but to what end? So that the talent that becomes great in 2016 gets traded in 2017? Usually a rebuilding plan has a model of sustainable success as it’s centerpiece. The Marlins plan usually ends in another fire sale, not an extended period of competition. I mean at this point MLB has more than enough teams. You can contract two and be perfectly fine.

That won’t happen though.

In a slightly less ideal world the Marlins would move out of Florida and into another market that at least has a chance at sustaining attendance numbers. Florida baseball doesn’t draw. It’s embarrassing. Maybe this would be a great opportunity to expand to San Juan Puerto Rico. Maybe you get crazy and go to New Orleans. I mean at this point so long as the Marlins are not in Florida I can live with it.

That won’t happen either.

All of what Loria has done, from the shady deals to extorting the city out of money, makes him a baseball villain. He is well on his way to surpassing Hal Chase as the biggest villain in baseball history. It is grounds for dismissal from baseball. He is a fucking joke. He is Rachel Phelps. It’s time to remove him as an owner because he’s embarrassing the brand.

Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen either.

[youtube http://youtu.be/fof40yqaW1U]

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

It is said that what is called the Spirit of an Age is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world’s coming to an end. In the same way, a single year does not have just spring or summer. A single day, too, is the same. For this reason, although one would like to change today’s world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation.

-Hagakure

When things end I become introspective and I begin to asses what I really learned from any experience I have that comes to an end. In relationships I find that at the end of them I learn more about myself than I would have expected. When a job/internship has ended for me in the past the things I take away from them always carry over to the next job.

It is this way for me in all things. And so, now that the baseball season has ended, I wonder in the aftermath of an ugly World Series sweep what did I learn about baseball this year? Are there things that we can collectively take away as Chicago baseball fans that we can carry into 2013 and beyond?

Ohhh fuck yeah there are.

As a Chicago Cubs fan I’m used to baseball failure. There have been times where I’ve hated this game, times where I’ve given up hope in ever seeing another serious title threat on Chicago’s north side.

The lesson I learned in 2012 that I feel was most important, and what I’ll carry over into 2013, is a genuine love for the game again. When Theo Epstein went up to that podium and announced a long term rebuilding that would include the complete gutting of the current team a switch was flipped in my head.

Suddenly the immediate empty wins and losses of the present didn’t matter. Sean Marshall being dealt to the Reds didn’t matter. Trading Maholm and Dempster and a host of other players didn’t matter. Instead what mattered to me as a Chicago Cubs fan was the long term health of the organization as it invests in young ball players to become contenders once again.

We aren’t talking about a short term spending spree that inhibits a long run of success. We are talking about becoming the Braves, the Yankees, the Texas Rangers even.

We are talking about a plan that is attempting to secure the long term future of the Chicago Cubs. That’s fucking awesome.

And so I let go of W’s and L’s, and I embraced the fluidity of Starlin Castro’s fielding mechanics, Anthony Rizzo’s short compact swing that projects to have genuine pop, Jeff Samardzija’s new found command and pitching mechanics.

You know what else I embraced? Paul Konerko’s approach to At Bats. Chris Sale’s wind up and how it creates positive momentum to the plate, creating odd angles and fusing it with great stuff. I embraced Bryce Harper’s violent swing, Mike Trout’s tantalizing skill set, Miggy’s bat which combines control and power in a beautiful fusion of arms and hips and legs. I embraced the Orioles improbable, stat defying run, the Oakland A’s getting white hot at the end, the Nationals rise to prominence, Mike Morse and his Hulk-like swing.

I embraced all of it, and through that I found a new way to love this game.

For Cubs fans I urge you to understand that they will not be relevant for some time. I urge my fellow Cubs fans to drop the old habits and begin to understand that they aren’t chasing short term wins, they are chasing long term trophies. We fans need to understand that we aren’t out of the rebuild yet, and it’s time to stop pining for band aids like Josh Hamilton and the like. You’re making us all look stupid and we don’t like it.

For the White Sox fans I hope you never squander another season like 2012 again. Baseball is quite an enjoyable sport in person, made even more so when you have a Cy Young candidate and a genuinely fun team to watch on the field. What they did as a collective was nothing short of impressive, and even though they did not close it out and make the playoffs they gave you 3-4 months of baseball bliss and struggled to sell out weekend home games.

And so, baseball ends. Kind of. You see, I’ll still be watching baseball in one form or another over the next few months. Caribbean ball, the WBC, all that good stuff? It’s still coming up. Over the next few months, starting in Nov. I’ll be ranking my personal Top 100 for 2013, the MLB players that I think will have the most impact in the coming year. For me, baseball will continue in a manner, but it is taking a much needed break.

The end is important in all things.

 

[audio http://awmr01.podbean.com/mf/web/vah9fj/TBL3.m4a]

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

A brief summary and look ahead at the 2013 World Series.

Andycast 1.0

Posted: October 18, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Columns, Podcast
Tags: , ,

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In this Andycast, Andy updates us on the playoffs. From his Toliet.

TBLcast 1.1

Posted: October 17, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Columns, Podcast, Through Both Lenses
Tags: , , ,

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In today’s minicast I talk about Justin Verlander and misconception.