Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Frank Deford = Andy Rooney

I've never seen the two of them in the same room at the same time, so I'm going to go ahead and assume that they are, in fact, the same person. This piece over at seems to support this half-baked idea.

Possibly because I'm scared of technology, I'm not always pleased by what are called "advances" in our society. Sometimes I think we were better off in more innocent times -- which is, to say, back when I could understand stuff better.

This is really like shooting fish in a barrel. At least Frank's being honest.

Actually, I consider myself secular Amish.

Really? So you don't accept any government insurance, Social Security benefits, or use electricity? Oh I see what you did. You just pigeon-holed a whole culture into a tired stereotype. Man, it's a good thing for SI that William Donohue isn't Amish.

Synthetic rackets pretty much ruined the beauty of tennis. Children have no business swinging lethal aluminum baseball bats. Now there's even talk that a new bathing suit made by Speedo, in which all sorts of swimmers are setting world records, constitutes "technological doping."

I don't know enough about tennis to say whether synthetic rackets "ruined" it. And I'm not going to comment on swimming, even though, this seems kind of silly. But, if Penn & Teller ever start running out of ideas for Bullshit!, they should do a show on the "aluminum bat scare." This idea that aluminum bats are "lethal" is crap from an ass. If I was so inclined, I'd take on this story from the New York Fucking Times, but I'm not. I'll just say that it's emotionally manipulative and relies completely on anecdotal evidence in spite of the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that aluminum bats are less safe than wood.

You know what's even worse? Technology has made it so there are so few surprises left in the world. Is that really an advance? Parents know whether their baby is a boy or girl long before it's born. You can tell who's calling you on the phone before you answer. The real joy in taking photographs was that you didn't know how they turned out 'til you got them back from the Photo Zip a few days later. Of course, some of the pictures were awful, but what's the fun of taking only safe shots instead of snap shots?

Jesus H. Christ, Frank is hearkening back to a time long gone. I am in my mid-twenties and I cannot recall a time when 1-hour photo was readily available. In any case, I'm not sure what's wrong with efficiency and better, more satisfying results. My hypothesis: Frank Deford is a Communist.

Maybe that's why sport gets more popular all the time. It's about the last thing we have that still has some suspense to it.

I don't know about that, Frank. I can think of a few pretty surprising things from the last few years that weren't necessarily very pleasant. Surprising stuff happens all the time. Surprises are neither inherently good nor bad.

And that's why I can't stand the National Football League and National Basketball Association drafts. What disappoints me so about these protracted selections is that fans don't want surprises in the draft. Really, they don't. They want to look into the camera and see the picture before it's taken.

Not sure about that. People want to know what their team is going to do with a high pick and they want to talk about it. It's a parlor game.

For weeks now, leading up to the real NFL draft this weekend, all sorts of self-appointed experts have been creating so-called mock drafts, and basically, they're all the same. Oh, some bloviator might have this linebacker going third and that one pegs him fourth, but it's pretty much the same names at the top. The fans get brainwashed, and so if their team should dare take somebody who wasn't touted by the echo chorus, they have a fit. Mock drafts become the reality that reality must accommodate itself to. It's like in school now, where children study how to take tests rather than study how to learn something.

Actually, and I'm not going to cite this, but various mock drafts this year had the Dolphins taking Matt Ryan, Jake Long, Chris Long, Glenn Dorsey, Vernon Gholston, Darren McFadden, or trading down. The whole point of mock drafts IS that it's all guess work. Nobody really knew what the Dolphins would do until they signed Jake Long yesterday, and that trickles down the draft. If Miami were to take Matt Ryan, wouldn't that make a big difference in what, say, Atlanta does at number three?

And yeah, if a team takes some wide receiver and his whole family with their first round pick instead of the best quarterback available when the team badly needs a quarterback, then their fans SHOULD be upset. Dammit.

It's also terribly ironic. Football fans always want their team to go for it on fourth down instead of punting, to take risks on the field, but when draft day comes they're all conditioned by now to be completely conservative ... lemmings.

Because watching your team go for it on fourth and short is exciting. And watching your team draft a Ryan Leaf or a Ki-Jana Carter or an Akili Smith is decidedly less fun and/or exciting.

And, of course, draft mistakes are legion. But draft-guessing has become a cottage industry, and essentially these seers are graded on how they assess the draft, not how their top selections actually play football after they are drafted. It would be as if you judged your stock broker on how well he picked the most popular stocks, not how well he chose stocks that actually went up in value.

Frank, you pillack. Mel Kiper's job isn't to tell me who the best players are. His job is to tell me who he thinks the Ravens might take at number eight and to tell me who these guys are when they DO get drafted. We grade the coaches and general managers on how the players play. Also, you communist, stock value is related to supply and demand. Popularity is directly related to demand.

I sometimes have the feeling that the more film we have of these players, the more sophisticated technology to study them, the less we know, both about the players being chosen and the professionals who choose them. Football people have guts. I think, though, that too few of them any longer dare possess gut instinct.

That's right. We shouldn't look at film or educate ourselves about college players. Just go with your gut, football personnel people. Less is more! Up is down! Black is white! Why do I have to press the start key to shut down this computer??

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