Saturday, March 1, 2008

52 52 52 Week #2: Rhode Island

In which I examine crappy local sports journalism on a state-by-state basis, progressing through the states in terms of an alphabetical ordering of the heights of their tallest points. Because I can.

Before I start, I just wanted to announce I'm still working on that Murray Chass post - I can't quite decide whether it's egregious enough to warrant its own column. Somehow, Murray didn't completely fuck up an article about Moneyball, which you would think would be like shooting fish in a barrel. But somehow, Murray wildly took aim and hit on a reasonably decent article.

In the meantime, let's talk Rhode Island's beautiful Jerimoth Hill, rising to a majestic 812 feet. Some fast facts...

1. Its highpoint was inaccessible for years because this dude Henry Richardson wouldn't let people go there. Not that he owned the point itself - Brown University holds that particular property - but a piece of his land was the only path up there. What piece of land? His driveway.

2. To be fair, he had tolerated such trespassers for years, but years of abuse of his permissiveness forced his hand. To also be fair, Mr. Richardson, according to Wikipedia, "became known for insulting, threatening or even using violence against visitors who tried to use his road." I just hope this involved giving someone a serious ass-forking, as God (sometimes known as Simpsons writer Matt Selman) intended.

3. Because of all this, people once considered Jehimoth Hill a more inaccessible peak than Mount McKinley, which also doubles as the highest point in North America. To put this in perspective, Mt. McKinley is twenty-fives times taller than Jehimoth Hill. So apparently Henry Richardson is tougher than the Alaskan winter. I hope he puts that on his resume.

With all that highpoint drama out of the way, let's look at an example of Rhode Island's sterling journalism. Our representative comes from The Providence Journal, which was first published in 1829, making it the oldest continually published daily newspaper in these United States. That's quite a feat, and I can confidently say their success has nothing to do with this article by Bill Reynolds. The whole thing is a list of various mini-topics, which is good because I feel a little scattershot myself.

If you’re a basketball purist and you want to vomit, watch an NBA All-Star Game.

You can find this advice on the wall at the NBA Purist's Sports Bar and Grille on 59th Street. If you're gonna eat the uncooked prawns, it's advice that could save your life. Admittedly, it's pretty dickish to say in any other context, so...well, Bill Reynolds, let's just say I'm giving you an official warning on the dickery front.

It’s all there. The lack of intensity. Treating basketball as if it’s a show, not a game. And defense? The AndI Tour might have more defense.

Let's not go crazy here. Have you seen an And1 tour game? Well, I have, and by "I have," I of course mean "I just found a video on YouTube":

I'll buy the all-star game has less defense than a Globetrotters-Generals game, but I'm pretty sure the And1 tour's slogan is, "'s for pussies."

Also, it's And1, not AndI. Let's keep the Roman numerals to ourselves, shall we?

Want to know why there are so many kids today who have no clue how to play?

Because most kids suck at basketball? I will proudly proclaim that I'm fucking terrible at basketball. I have no clue how to play because I have absolutely no natural talent for it. Probably true of most people.

Want to know why no one seems to know what the rules are anymore, since they’ve been so bastardized for so many years now that the lines have all but been blurred beyond repair?

For the record, I don't really care about this. I'd say football has a way bigger issue with people not knowing the rules, what with all the bizarre little technicalities that can drastically affect games in a way that thoroughly confuses fans. I think I know the rules of basketball, although maybe refs don't enforce them particularly well (although sometimes that has nothing to do with ignorance). Where are you going with this, exactly?

Want to know why, as the players get bigger and stronger and are able to do wondrous athletic feats, the game itself seems somehow lessened?

Is it all the foreigners flopping? That sounds plausible, and if it's plausible that means it can't be xenophobic, right?

Check out an NBA All-Star Game, the game’s role models in their biggest showcase.

It’s all there.

Dude, why couldn't you have just blamed the foreigners? That would have been assholish, but I'm not sure I could have completely refuted that argument. But this? This is going to be easy.

You're blaming the ruination of the NBA game on the fact that all the impressionable kids watching "the game's role models" see a bunch of dudes not play defense and alley-oop it to themselves. I mean, that would make sense, assuming all the kids are watching that game. And you do say it's "their biggest showcase", so I have to assume that's the case.

Wait, what's that you say? All-star ratings are at an all-time low? Oh, well never mind then.

If I were the Patriots, I’d breathe a little easier if this Matt Walsh scenario went away.

Helluva point you got there. You're saying if the potential key to a scandal that could actually result in Bill Belichick being suspended for an entire year suddenly went away, the Patriots would be happy with this? Thank goodness you're getting paid to come up with these gems.

And yes, that was his entire fucking point.

You’ve got too much time on your hands, Bunky, if you’re spending a lot of time watching Red Sox spring training on television.

Who is Bunky? Are you talking to me? Dude, my name is Archie Micklewhite, not Archie Bunker. Although I do often get mistaken for Archie Bunker, what with my virulent racism and hanging jowls. I'm just kidding folks - my jowls are rock hard.

Unless you think watching pitchers jog in the outfield is a spectator sport.

Dude, it's February. It's a tough month, what with almost nothing going on in sports. At least these people aren't doing anything completely fucking crazy.

Only a cynic would say that John McCain’s approval went up with young people with the allegation he had an improper relationship with a lobbyist.

So, um, are you a cynic, Bill Reynolds? Do you think that? I don't get what I'm supposed to understand from this point. Also, let's take a look at Cindy McCain...

Are we sure John McCain's marriage isn't an improper relationship? And for the record, I'm not a cynic; I'm a pervert.

Although in Washington, you can make a case that any relationship with a lobbyist should be improper.

BURN!!! Take that, Washington!!! Bill Reynolds just pwned your ass. What's that feeling you feel? That would be Bill Reynolds fucking your shit up. You're welcome, Washington.

Seriously, fucking fat cats. So glad someone finally has the balls to stand up to them.

Budget cuts are a little like nuclear power plants: No one wants them in their backyard.

I dunno, I could do without that extra shed. Damned if I ever use it - I mean, who needs both a tool shed and a mulch shed?


Other than Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson, of course.


Anyway, I'd be up for a budget cut in my backyard. Sometimes you just have to take the hit, stock up some draft picks for quality seedlings down the road, and rebuild your backyard to remain competitive in this salary cap era for backyards. You can't always afford to pay the luxury tax on your John Deere, is all I'm saying.

Also, I'm pretty sure my backyard is Three Mile Island. If I'm following what Bill Reynolds is saying, is that something I should be concerned about? Honestly, I haven't left my basement since March 27, 1979, so thus far I haven't really had any cause for concern. Eh, I'm sure things are fine.

You know spring is just around the corner when there’s already been a Manny sighting.

Yeah, and thank god we didn't see Manny's shadow, or else there would be six more weeks of winter. Wait...what?

And you know that too many young actresses have overdosed on Girls Gone Wild videos when even Madonna now seems almost staid.

No arguing our young starlets are a little out of control, but is it really because Jamie-Lynn Spears grew up watching Girls Gone Wild videos that she's now busy recreating the plot of Juno, only in a universe horrifically bereft of the bountiful glory that is Michael Cera? Girls Gone Wild has about as much to do with Lindsay Lohan's coke* addiction as...I don't know, what's a comparably shitty thing...let's see, about as much as the NBA All-Star game has to do with a general decrease in fundamentals. No idea where I came up with that analogy, but I guess it'll do.

*that would be a former coke addiction**

**also alleged former coke addiction

Curt Schilling is psychologically incapable of staying in the background very long.

Man, that dude has got Curt Schilling nailed! With pioneering journalistic insight like that, it's a wonder that he languishes at the Providence Journal. Seriously, get this fucker on...well, I would say Baseball Tonight, but I think the joke works better if I reference something whose analysts are, you know, competent.

I love that Bill feels that statement is apparently pithy enough to not need any further elaboration whatsoever. Couldn't you have at least mentioned his Everquest addiction? Because that shit is never not hilarious.

If you’re looking for an interesting novel about being undercover for the FBI, check out The Judas Horse, by April Smith.

Um, OK, I will. Although I think I'm going to need a second opinion from reviewer NoGoodDeed:

I love crime novels, and can't think of too many other books that so expertly capture the ins and outs of Bureau work as do April Smith's. Despite the rather spooky and off-putting cover image of a faceless horse, and the somewhat off-the-wall subject matter (domestic terrorism to protect wild mustangs?), "Judas Horse" is one of the best thrillers so far this year. (I think the word "mystery" on the jacket lumps the book into the P.D. James/Elizabeth George traditional mystery-type novels, which this definitely is not.)

I've said it once, I'll say it again - NoGoodDeed is gold. And as long as it's not like any of that P.D. James/Elizabeth George traditional mystery-type bullshit, I'm on board. You win this round, Bill Reynolds.

Don’t be surprised if Joba Chamberlain hits the sophomore slump.

But will you be surprised if he doesn't? Is this a prediction, or just a random statement that you can ignore if it doesn't pan out but pat yourself on the back for if you're correct? Or, to put it another way...a prediction? Ooh, let me try one!

Don't be surprised if Bill Reynolds someday makes an interesting point.

Yeah, I'm guessing I won't be printing up oracular business cards anytime soon. Although if they'd help me get babes, I guess I'd be willing to fudge my credentials...

There’s no truth to the rumor that the movie There Will Be Blood is about the Friars season.

Hey man, back the fuck off There Will Be Blood. That's what I reference. I mean, I mean...that's like referencing There Will Be Blood is my milkshake, and you're like standing over there with this straw, and the straw reaches across the room, and so it's like you, Bill Reynolds, are drinking my referencing-TWBB milkshake!

You see, Bill Reynolds? Don't fuck with me on this. I'm too good.

Once upon a time, back in the late 1950s, Bill Sharman of the Celtics used to go to a high school gym on the morning of games and shoot around, even though his teammates thought he was crazy. Sharman brought the idea with him to the Lakers when he coached there in the early ’70s, and now every pro and college team in the country has morning shootarounds. Go figure.

You mean I should figure out that a popular and successful coach instituted a practice with an incredibly successful team and that other teams copied him? Yeah, go fucking figure.

Twenty-eight years ago yesterday was the “Miracle on Ice,” the day the United States Olympic hockey team upset the Russians.

Kinda cool, I guess. 28 isn't really all that round of a number. Why'd you mention it?

And Mike Eruzione has been living off it ever since.

Ah, dude, that's not cool. To quote that dude in that YouTube video..."Leave Mike Eruzione alone!" That may not have been exactly what he said, but that was the gist.

I have no doubt that if Roger Clemens could have a do-over, he would have fessed up when Andy Pettitte did.

Uh huh. Interesting point. No, I'm serious, I'd like to hear more about this. I'm not sure I buy it, considering how consistently evasive he's been, but I guess you could argue that's just because he long ago passed the point of no return. Hmm...I'd like to hear more. Care to elaborate?

Both Hillary and the Rams peaked too soon.

Oh. Fuck it then.

Forget Barack Obama. Odds are Hillary couldn’t beat Hannah Montana.

Well, other than the fact that Miley Cyrus is constitutionally barred from running for president, considering she's not 35, yeah, no way Hillary could beat her. Although I think that still means she'd be able to beat Rudy Guiliani.

Yeah...fuck that guy.

The Celtics still need a backup point guard.

To quote lazy commenters everywhere...


In the recent Dime magazine Charles Barkley called Kevin McHale the best he ever played against.

What the hell is this list supposed to be? Is this supposed to be a collection of tidbits you've noticed over the past week towards which you want to point fellow sports enthusiasts? You know, a link dump? Bill, you do realize that if you're trying to do a link dump, you really need to include, you know, links?

Like this...

In the recent Dime magazine

See? That wasn't so bad.

Kelvin Sampson must have missed the ethics seminar.

Man, will you listen to this guy? He's a regular Don Rickles or some shit.

Not that there’s one given in Rhode Island, understand.

That's about the twentieth reference to local Rhode Island sports, something I can't really blame him for, considering my entire point here is to rip on local sports journalists. Hell, for all I know, he's one of the most insightful guys around when it comes to the ins and outs of, say, Providence Friars basketball.


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