Sunday, April 13, 2008

52 52 52 Week #8: New York

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.

It's been a busy week here at Fire Everybody!, so let's keep the flow (and/or hustle) going for just a little bit longer and talk about everyone's favorite 5,344 foot tall highpoint, New York's Mount Marcy:

1. The mountain is named after William L. Marcy. You may remember him from such movies as Broogie Niglts, Lappy, Trexas, Glosts orf Mississippi, and other complicated, incredibly forced "puns" on William H. Macy movies where I substitute "l" for "h" and add a random "r".

2. Another name for the mountain is Tahawus, a Native American word meaning "cloud splitter." Well, it could have been the Native American word, but it was actually invented by white people to describe the thing because the local tribes didn't have a name for it. I'm pretty sure that's what passed for cultural sensitivity in those days.

3. Teddy Roosevelt was climbing Mount Marcy when he received word that William McKinley had been shot. He immediately killed a bear out of grief, built a thirty-foot funeral pyre using only dried leaves and moss, and then set off for his legendary presidency, which was of course most famous for that time he defeated Mothra. Gotta love TR.

With all that fun out of the way, the question now becomes which New York paper to talk about. Unfortunately, most of the available papers are either from New York City, which means they can't really be considered, well, "local", or they are so tiny that I'd have to make fun of a high school lacrosse recap. Which I'm OK with, but I'm not sure you'd find it the most scintillating thing ever. Well, I guess that would depend on your level of perversion and/or how many pictures I posted. Still...

Let's take a look at The Democrat and Chronicle, the number one newspaper in the greater Rochester area. Not much to say about it, really, although I imagine its prominent featuring of the word "Democrat" has already earned it Djmmm's scorn. I was willing to give it a pass, but this NBA column by Bob Matthews totally does the sportswriting equivalent of raising taxes and smoking weed and supporting the French and whatever else the fevered conservative nightmare of liberalism is supposed to be about. Mr. Matthews?

As a long-time NBA fan and observer, I can't recall a season with four Most Valuable Player candidates so equally worthy.

Here's how I rank the four superstars in order of preference. I couldn't object with anyone who ranked them 1-2-3-4 in any other order:

Very true about the tight MVP race, and your magnanimity and pragmatism regarding the order will not be forgotten. Let's see who your #1 is...

1. Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers).

Good choice. I think I'd go with Chris Paul myself, but let's hear your reasoning.

He could be the all-time best NBA player never to be selected league MVP. I don't know if it is fair to give him extra consideration for his career body of work, but it can't hurt him.

You don't know? Dude, of course it isn't fair to do that. If it was all down to career achievement, I'm pretty sure Michael Jordan would have had to win the damn thing when he was with the Wizards just because of everything that came before. Which would make winning the MVP award roughly equivalent to getting a roster spot with the Birmingham Barons.

I mean, I wish I could punch up the criteria for the MVP that explicitly states it's a single-season award, but it looks like that's supposed to be self-evident. This does not bode well.

He won't win a third straight NBA scoring title this season because the Lakers were a much better team this season and he gladly deferred to teammates in the scoring column.

So Kobe Bryant is the most valuable because Andrew Bynum improved dramatically, Mitch Kupchak traded for Pau Gasol, and the rest of the team got better? That's kinda the logic here. Obviously, decreased scoring doesn't necessarily mean diminished value, but it seems a bit wonky to argue he was the most valuable by arguing he had a great supporting cast.

I feel like this argument could use some form of, I dunno, numerical objectivity or something. If only there were some sort of numbers that were calculated in some way to analyze a player's contribution to a team beyond mere scoring average. But I suppose such statistics must remain just a pipe dream. Wait, did I say statistics? Huh...don't know where I came up with that word. Hmm...STA-TIS-TICS. Nope, doesn't ring a bell.

He's still the man who takes all the big shots for the Lakers and there aren't many better defenders in the NBA when he needs to be.

He's the best defender...when he has to be. That's...that's a terrible argument. I mean, there are tons of great arguments as to why Kobe is the best, and Bob Matthews has pretty much completely whiffed on all of them.

2. Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets).

Here's my guy. So, Bob, why is he number 2?

The "knock" on Paul as an MVP candidate is that he's only a third-year pro and has to "pay his dues." That's a lame excuse to vote for someone else.

Yeah, if only there weren't lame assholes writing this sort of shit about Kobe:

I don't know if it is fair to give him extra consideration for his career body of work, but it can't hurt him.

I'm with you, Bob - fuck those guys.

3. LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers). Among the four MVP candidates, his team is the only one that won't have a significantly better record than last season. But it isn't his fault.

I'd actually argue that it is his fault, in the sense that it was pretty much completely LeBron's fault that they went 50-32 and made it to the NBA Finals. Can't really call that anyone else's fault.

I guess you could argue, at least based on their reduced record and the emergence of the Celtics, that they've taken a slight step backward from last year, but honestly, not every team can have a forty-game upswing. That'd make them 90 and -8, for one thing, which I'm having trouble even conceptualizing. Though I suspect that may be Bill Simmons's prediction for the 2008-09 Celtics.

4. Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics). He could be the "thinking man's" MVP.

Why? Because you have to think about it to rationalize it against the work of the others? Because that's not really what the term means.

His stats aren't nearly as impressive as he posted with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that's because he sacrificed his scoring average to keep fellow stars Paul Pierce and Ray Allen happy.

Crazy guess: Kevin Garnett was also among those happy that Kevin Garnett didn't have to score as much.

His only MVP negatives are being teammates with two other superstars and having won MVP honors in the 2003-04 season. Unlike Bryant, he's not in the running for a lifetime achievement MVP award.

Can we give Bob Matthews an Academy Award vote? Because he's got this "give an award supposedly based on yearly achievement for dubious, career-based reasons" thing motherfucking down. Scorsese would never have had to wait as long as he did if men like Bob had been voting on Gangs of New York. Although the fact that Three 6 Mafia won an Oscar before Marty did is kind of the most awesomely cruel thing ever.

You know what? There's more to this article, but I think I'd rather just turn the rest of the post over to the boys from the most known unknown group in hip-hop today (oh, and I've really got to assume the language is NSFW):

Is that skyline Miami? Because if so I'm assuming that video is an accurate dramatization of Djmmm's life. [Editor's note: Yes. Slightly embellished, but more or less accurate.]

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