Sunday, March 16, 2008

52 52 52 Week #4: Oregon

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.

Fresh off my triumphant victory (from two weeks ago!) as the winner of Fire Jay Mariotti's Reader Extra Participation Friday, I'm feeling like I can't let you, my beloved (and goodness I hope not non-existent) readers down by not giving you your promised 52 52 52 post. This is maybe the dumbest time management decision I've ever made, but eh...fuck it. Am I right? No, I'm very probably not. Let's just do this.

The featured state this week is Oregon, with majestic Mount Hood rising to a very manly 11,249 feet. It also is easily the most badass highpoint we've dealt with so far (yes, even more badass than Rhode Island's crazed driveway defender) for one simple reason:

1. It's a fucking volcano, which means it's the first highpoint I've dealt with that could definitely kill us all. Well, not me, because I believe basements are volcano-proof, but perhaps the damage to whichever supermarket from which my mom buys food would lead to my horrible starvation. Although there is always Netgrocer. Anyway, the odds of Mount Hood erupting in the next three decades is apparently only 3 to 7 percent, which I should point out is still 3 to 7 percent more likely than any of us spewing molten lava in the near future. Advantage Mount Hood, I'd say.

2. Mount Hood features some pretty terrific skiing, assuming you're into that sort of thing, with six different ski areas: Timberline, Mount Hood Meadows, Ski Bowl, Cooper Spur, Snow Bunny and Summit. Of course, Snow Bunny is a total piece of shit. Even so, Timberline is the only place in the US with year-round lift service, which means if you want to go snowboarding on the fourth of July and can't be fucking bothered to hike up the're in luck, you lazy slacker bum. Also, you snowboard, which probably means you're really extreme and awesome. Can you give me tips? I'm here to learn.

3. It's named after Samuel Hood, a British naval commander who attained the rank of Admiral and the title of 1st Viscount Hood, neither of which was necessarily easy to do back in 18th century Britain, especially considering he was just a vicar's son. The dude once invaded and almost conquered Corsica in the name of George III, which just sounds like it must have been awesome. Also, fucking Lord Nelson said Hood was "the greatest sea officer I ever knew." I say Michael Caine plays him in the movie. But then, I think Michael Caine should play everything, including the shark in Jaws. That's right: I am to Michael Caine as Kevin Smith is to Ben Affleck. Speaking of Michael Caine and Jaws, that reminds me...

My high school year book quote was actually Michael Caine's explanation for why he did a total shitshow like Jaws: The Revenge: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific." I hope you understand why I fucking love this man. I'll post random clips from The Man Who Would Be King every hour on the hour if I have to, don't think I won't.

Sorry, before this descends into full-fledged Michael Caine hagiography (I mean, the man did give me half of my nom de plume), let's look at this week's entrant in the field of shitty local sports journalism. The chosen sportswriter is John Canzano of The Oregonian, the paper of record for Portland with a circulation of 319,625 daily. Pretty good numbers, sure, and actually way above my stated but admittedly arbitrary figure of 200,000 that I consider the right circulation number for "small-time, local journalism", but keep in mind Oregon is full of liberal hippie paper-reading egg-and-pot-heads, so that probably inflates the circulation something fierce. Although apparently The Oregonian is actually really Republican, which by Pacific Northwest standards probably just means they're not in favor of mandatory gay marriage or the legalization of quaaludes. Am I right people?

Anyway, John Canzano has some thoughts on the Oregon State basketball team, which had lost twenty straight games going into their 87-56 drubbing at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats. You think Canzano's got an angle? Oh, you better believe he's got himself an angle. Darn tooting!

These guys will sell you on the notion that anything is possible, and they'll tell you losing streaks don't last forever, and also, they love an underdog, which is why they'll root for the Oregon State men's basketball team today in the Pacific-10 Conference tournament game against Arizona.

I wonder who these guys are. Since you didn't immediately identify them, I'm guessing it's going to be something completely unexpected. Possibly the Spanish Inquisition, since...well, you know the deal. Nobody expects it and so forth.

The Washington Generals are pulling for an upset.

Thank you. Thank you, Norse god of weird articles (I believe that would be Kvasir). Honestly, how is an article looking to the Washington Generals for serious basketball insight going to be anything other than unbelievably bizarre?


You were expecting Beaver Nation?

Not really, considering the whole "concealing your subject at the start of the article" thing. That tipped me off that there was a misdirection coming. I am an amateur magician, you know.

The Generals are in Tupelo, Miss., today where they'll play, and likely lose to, the Harlem Globetrotters. The Generals have four victories in the last 58 years, and when you ask team general manager John Ferrari what the Washington franchise's overall record is, he'll tell you, "Let me just give it to you like this: We haven't won since January 1971."

That's about 13,000 consecutive losses, people.

For that to be true, the Generals would have to play roughly 350 games a year. I actually checked the Wikipedia page on the Generals, and it looks like those losses came between 1953 and 1995, which still means they'd have to play 300 games a year. So two points...

1. I think someone might be exaggerating just how many losses this team has suffered. Where's an expert historian of the Washington Generals when we need him most?
2. John Canzano didn't even relay this probably shitty research accurately, since it isn't 13000 consecutive losses - it's 13,000 losses with six wins sandwiched in there. Big fucking difference, I know. But someone has to point it out.

Which is why the Generals say they'll root for Oregon State, which hasn't won a basketball game since Dec. 23 and is on a 20-game conference losing streak.

Now, understand, Oregon State should probably know what it's getting itself into here. There will be thousands of fans inside the Staples Center who will arrive expecting to see the Beavers take the floor, warm up, play hard in the game, but ultimately do what they've done all season -- get a bucket of the other team's confetti poured on their heads.

I clearly don't watch enough college basketball. Do teams really douse their opponents in bucketed confetti after winning a first round conference tournament game? I have no idea if that's true. Either John Canzano is a horrible, malicious liar, or the Arizona Wildcats are a bunch of dicks. Those are pretty much the only logical possibilities.

Should Oregon State somehow win the game, as the Generals did in Martin, Tenn., in 1971, the Beavers might expect things to get very quiet inside the arena. They might also expect children to cry.

This would have been due to all of Oregon State's fans being in total shock at their team's hypothetical victory, right? You're talking about tears of joy, correct? I dunno, that seems unlikely. I mean, I know they sucked and all, but I'm pretty sure their fans wouldn't have been so dejected that they couldn't have raised themselves to storm the court and celebrate wildly.

Oh, wait, you have a much shittier reason. Let's hear it.

Those who were there and saw the Generals lead that game by 12 with two minutes to play said it went silent, and children were bawling. Even as the Globetrotters rallied in the final seconds to pull within 100-99 with Meadowlark Lemon taking what would have been a game-winning shot, it was dead silent.

First of all, I know the Globetrotters are funny as hell and all (especially when playing space alien theoretical physicists on Futurama), but those children need to grow the fuck up. Which I imagine they by now have, considering that game was 37 years ago. Indeed, I'm sure most of them could kick my ass, so on second thought...CHILDREN OF 1971, IT'S OKAY TO CRY! STRONG MEN ALSO CRY...STRONG MEN ALSO CRY.

Point is, how can you not root at least a little for an upset? I know I'd root for the Generals (maybe not put money on them - whatever Krusty might think, I don't think they're due) to beat those Globetrotters. And I'm pretty sure this has nothing to do with showboating vs. non-showboating or whatever racial components may be at play here (so longtime reader Jason Whitlock, no need to send me an angry email). Either way, seeing the Generals win would be fucking sweet, and pretty much the biggest upset ever. OK, maybe not bigger than Chaminade over Virginia, but pretty damn close.

Lemon missed it.

Then, the crowd glared at the Generals.

Said then-Generals player/coach Louis "Red" Klotz, now 88: "They looked at us like we killed Santa Claus."

Right, Santa Claus was I dunno, that nerdy elf who Santa Claus always picked on or something. Or maybe - and here's where I know I can expect a pissed off email from Whitlock - like Santa Claus was killed by whatever is the personification of Kwanzaa or something. Maybe Kwanzaa-bot?

Man, this post has been Futurama-heavy. Not that I have a problem with that.

Point is, underdogs are cool. Other point is, what the hell does this have to do with the Oregon State Beavers? I mean, people were mad at the Generals because the Globetrotters are really fun and silly and, you know, always supposed to win. Much as I might like underdogs, I understand that a kid goes to a Globetrotters game to see the Globetrotters goof around and crush the competition. But how is that anything like an Arizona vs. Oregon State Pac-10 conference tourney first round game? How does that even begin to make sense as a fair comparison?

The Globetrotters blamed the loss on the timekeeper, who tried unsuccessfully to stop the clock and give Harlem another shot. Also, the Globetrotters pointed out that captain Curly Neal sat out with an injury.

Man, the Globetrotters of 1971 were dicks. Well, definitely sore losers. I guess I can't really prove they were total dicks. But that sounds like the mother of all sour grapes.

So what?

A victory is a victory, especially when you haven't won a game in decades, so the Generals slapped backs and skipped off the court amid the boos and celebrated in the locker room after the game by spraying bottles of orange soda (not champagne) all over each other.

How well does orange soda spray? My guess: not well, although I'm too damn fond of the flavor to waste that stuff finding out. And no, I would not lick it off the floor if I did in fact spray it. Well, I probably would, but I'd prefer not to find myself in that position. Frankly, there are some things about yourself you just don't want to know.

Oregon State fired coach Jay John in midseason for too many losses, and for the same reason, Klotz apparently just kept being asked back.

Another reason why this analogy makes no sense. The Oregon State Beavers are theoretically a competitive (and, to perverts, hilariously named) basketball program. The Washington Generals lose staged exhibition games to the Harlem Globetrotters for entertainment value. Of course Klotz got asked back - losing was, is, and forever will be the entire fucking point of the Washington Generals.

So maybe the Beavers, who became the first school in the Pac-10's 30-year history to go winless in league play, are distracted by the coaching search being conducted.

Which was precipitated by the firing of their coach. Because, you know, his team was fucking terrible. I'm pretty sure you may have ever so slightly mixed up cause and effect there, John.

Or maybe they're just not as talented as the rest of the conference,


but while we're trying to figure out all this losing, maybe the most important development would be the administration at Oregon State understanding that the Washington Generals are trying to teach them a lesson.

What, in gumption? Hustle? Stick-to-it-iveness? Dare I even think grittiness?

In losing.

Oh...OK. I know this article isn't supposed to be all that serious, but can you even figure out where the hell the jokes are supposed to be? I mean, there are no random reference to previously-defunct-but-now-surviving-on-direct-to-DVD-movies cartoons, so I'm obviously completely lost. But seriously, if the point of this was humor, shouldn't he have written something humorous by now? Instead of, you know, bizarre analogies between the Generals and the Beavers that make pretty much absolutely no sense if you think about it for even a second?

The Generals recruit talent that is inferior to their competition. They comb Division II and III for the best talent and find guys who are willing to travel a lot, get paid modestly, and don't mind being laughed at and dribbled around on most nights.

Uh huh. Are these supposed to be lessons for Oregon State? Because you realize a college program doesn't really recruit all that much from other colleges or pay their players, right? (OK, the pedants among you will point out transfers and the cynics among you will point out the masses of NCAA violations that certainly suggest some athletes are getting paid, but I think my basic point stands that if this is meant to be advice, it makes no fucking sense.)

The Washington Generals franchise has a formula, see. And it's successfully milked it for six decades, and while the Generals have worn different color uniforms and changed their names from the Nationals to Reds to Shamrocks to Rockets to Seagulls and back, for the most part, they've just been called losers.

Eh, I'm sure at least one of them was really good at Ms. Pac-Man or something. That's cool...right? I mean, would a loser have the Ms. Pac-Man high score at every campground arcade in the greater Northeast? I didn't think so.

What hasn't changed is the business model. And if Oregon State doesn't alter its own model, the Generals are here to tell you, the losing isn't going to stop, either.

Does this really make sense? Sure, Oregon State has had a really rough run since 1990, but they've historically been very good, with a bunch of NCAA records and the 13th most wins in collegiate history as of 2005 (for some reason, that's all Wikipedia goes up to, and I'll be damned if I'm bothering to look up the updated stat). Again, the Generals are an exhibition team that loses rigged games to make the Globetrotters look good. It's because of the Generals' business model that they lose. It's in spite of the Beavers' "business model" (if you can really call it that) that they've lost so much. That isn't just a major difference; it pretty much invalidates the entire comparison.

The practice facilities at OSU need improvement, the assistant coaches need higher pay, and the support programs need to improve. The recruiting budget needs a boost, so does the marketing budget, and also, administrators at Oregon State need to stop talking about finishing in the top half of the conference, and instead think hard about giving its program the infrastructure that top-half programs in the Pacific-10 Conference have.

What's happened at Oregon State is not an accident. It's a symptom.

Right, right, it all sucks. But they are trying to win, no matter how badly they're failing at accomplishing that. The Generals, on the other hand, are phenomenally successful at their chosen occupation of losing all the fucking time.

The Generals have lost games in all 50 states, and in Baghdad, and in a bull ring in Spain, and on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean. They've lost on all seven days of the week. And in all four seasons. And this year, the Generals are 0-50 with 62 games left on the schedule.

What is this, ultra-low-rent Doctor Seuss? I was expecting to hear about the Generals losing to the Green Eggs and Ham club any second.

Ferrari, who married Klotz's daughter and runs the Generals now, said, "We'll root for Oregon State, and I hope they'll root for us."

Here's hoping that rooting extends beyond today's game with Arizona, because if there's going to be real change at Oregon State, it's going to have to be one of mind-set.

If I understand this sentence correctly - and my interpretation is so awesome that I honestly don't really care whether I do or not - John Canzano is advocating, nay, imploring John Ferrari to use his powerful rooting-based telepathic abilities to take control of the minds of the OSU administration and athletic department in order to force them to take their program seriously. Sounds like a plan to me.

Oregon State wants to win, doesn't it?

Of course they do. They're just really fucking terrible at it.

Because it can change the coach, and the uniforms, it can re-package the program and market it to season-ticket holders, but if those in charge don't alter the factors responsible for the losing ways, basically they're the Washington Generals.

Those losers.

Nah. I'm pretty sure the Generals make money. Or, at the very least, do what they're supposed to do. Which is lose, and lose they...ah, fuck it, if you don't get the point by now, you're probably John Canzano.

(For the record, I was considering pointing out that if there is a valid comparison to make here, it's probably to this year's Miami Dolphins. But I felt this was way too unprovoked a cheap shot at Dolphins fan Djmmm for me to do. So're welcome, Djmmm.)

Oh, and on a final note, I noticed this incredible headline for an article by another one of their columnists, Bill Monroe:

Peaceful, still, we wait, sublimely a goose hunt goes

I won't bother with the whole article, but that's just too ridiculous not to check out. It's a long, lyrical look at a goose hunt, with a few choice Plaschke-esque one sentence paragraphs thrown in. Since I love taking things out of context for the purpose of a totally unfair cheap shot, I'll just reprint those. Because honestly, they're kind of hilarious, especially without any context whatsoever...

I liked the rainbow the best.

The pot of feathered gold.

Light rain sprinkled on my nose, and I pulled the flaps of the layout blind closer under my chin.


Then from my left, the single bird came into sight, wings cupped and dropping like a rock into the field decoys 30 yards out front.

My cell phone rang.

Yeah, that just about says it all. Hell, you don't even need the rest of the article, do you?


Djmmm46 said...

Hey, man, watch out. The Dolphins DID win A game.

Brian said...

This blog is like a block of moldy swiss cheese... in the sense that it's from switzerland. AND MOLDY!!!

Archie Micklewhite said...

So true, Brian, so true.

Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno!