Sunday, June 29, 2008

52 52 52 Week #19: Kansas

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.

This week's highpoint and article really need no introduction. Wait, does that count as an introduction? Aw, I hate epistemological conundrums...

Kansas's highpoint is, essentially, the Kansas-Colorado border. Technically speaking, it's called Mount Sunflower, it stands at 4,039 feet, and here's three things vaguely worth knowing about it:

1. It's completely indistinguishable from the surrounding land. Also, it's really close to Colorado's lowest point. So yeah, hell of a summit.

2. If you'll remember Nebraska's entry in week six, you might recall a humorous account of climbing its distinctly non-mountainous highpoint. Well, that was only a sequel, a pale Bad Boys II to the original Bad Boys that is this harrowing tale of climbing Mount Sunflower.

3. The summit is on private property belonging to Mike and Rae Marie Jones, who apparently have a good sense of humor. According to Wikipedia, the summit is adorned by such items as "a picnic table, a sunflower sculpture made from railroad spikes, and a plaque that states 'nothing happened here in 1897.'" I'm sorry, but that last part is hilarious.

Today's article comes from The Leavenworth Times, which I pretty much checked out on the off-chance there would be a random allusion to local inmate Michael Vick. For once, I was not disappointed. Thanks middle America! Or, to be more precise, thanks Leavenworth Times sports editor Sara Mettlen!

You know, when you do a Google image search for "Sara Mettlen", this is the first result, for some awesome reason:

I don't know why, and, frankly, I don't want to know. Sadly, Ms. Mettlen's prose is much like what I imagine the Amazing Amazon's would be: pretty damn preachy. Let's just do this.

Today is Michael Vick’s birthday.

Happy birthday Michael! Oh, wait, this was written on June 27. Ah well. Better late than never, right? Well, except when it comes to being caught torturing dogs. Am I right, people? Man, I kill myself. So, um, Michael, no need to do that when you get out, right?

Just thought that was worth knowing since he’s practically a neighbor. Don’t worry, I’m also going to make it work into a point I hope to make later, so it’s not totally random knowledge.

Well, thank goodness. For a second there I thought you were just wishing happy birthday to a convicted felon. And if that were the case, as Bill Plaschke would say, "Shame on you!" (Seriously, if there's one thing I learned from Around the Horn - and I'm absolutely certain I didn't learn anything else - it's that that is America's next great catchphrase.)

For some unknown reason, the article divides itself into a "BETTER" section, a "WORSE" section, and an "ABOUT THE SAME" section. Man, I hate lame gimmickry. And be sure to check out next week's "Comics & Sports", not to mention the next installment of "52 52 52"! And whatever will I name my column next week?

Huh...don't know why all of that just occurred to me. Oh well.

Fresno State won the College World Series on Wednesday with a 6-1 win over Georgia. If you are a first time reader you’ve missed me writing about how much I love the CWS for a couple weeks now,

I'll try to survive. I'm not sure how I'll live without having read that stuff, but I'll try.

but if Fresno winning — the equivalent of a 13-16 seed winning the NCAA basketball tournament — didn’t make you smile for a least a little while, either you’re a Georgia fan or something is wrong with you.

Or maybe college baseball doesn't do that much for you? I mean, congratulations to Fresno State and all, but I just can't quite buy into the collegiate version of a sport with such a huge minor league system. Hell, I'm not even downplaying the enormity of their achievement. It's just that college baseball seems so irrelevant that I couldn't even be bothered to learn the context.

Now obviously, feel free to disagree. I have to admit, I'm just generally a pro sports kind of guy, and I've got tons of bizarre quirks and abnormalities when it comes to my sports fandom. Hell, this is probably one of them. But I know I'm not a Georgia fan, and I'd like to think nothing's wrong with, who am I kidding? There's definitely something wrong with me.

You see, Fresno’s win makes a statement, much like the one KU’s two first-round losses during March Madness did but with less emotional distress for me. The Bulldogs’ win shows that regardless of the how high or low a team is ranked or seeded you have to show up to play on game day. There’s a lot of athletic talent in this world and thinking you can get by just because some system gives you a better seed than your opponent is probably a sign you’ll lose.

Is it just me, or should there have been more than two commas in that whole mess of text? I admit I probably overuse the damn things, but that whole block felt like one long detour into run-on country.

Oh, I'm sorry, you want my thoughts on the content, not the grammar? Well, hey, I'm as big a fan of the underdog as anyone else, but I'm not the biggest fan of couching that sentiment in "you have to show up to play on game day." That seems a little gritty to me. I dunno, I think it's more down to random chance and a little luck than people overlooking their opponents. To be honest, that whole angle is probably a little overplayed.

In a nut shell: Respect your opponent.

I fully expect this to be the slogan for next year's NBA playoffs.


My dislike of Shaquille O’Neil aside (if you get paid that much money to play basketball you should be able to make a free throw)

Or, alternately, you can make up for your admittedly lousy free throw shooting by dominating pretty much every other aspect of the game for a decade. Also, it's O'Neal. Who the hell is editing this sports section? Hey, wait a moment...

Or, to be more precise, thanks Leavenworth Times sports editor Sara Mettlen!

Looks like somebody doesn't know how to self-edit. Of course, me make mistake? That's unpossible. Just so we're clear.

the video of him rapping about Kobe Bryant is a whole new low.

If by "low" you mean "proof of Shaq's comedic genius", then I'm totally on board. Of course, if you're using pretty much any of the "correct" definitions of the word "low", then I really will have to disagree.

So Kobe didn’t want to be on your team, feel free to not like the man, heck even hate him, but don’t publicly do something that mostly just makes you look like a moron to put him down.

I think it's a little more than "didn't want to be on your team." I believe it's "caused a massive rift and then pretty much forced Laker management to rebuild the team in his image, starting with trading Shaq." Look, I'm about as big a Kobe supporter as you're likely to find, but let's be honest. Shaq has legitimate beef here. Kobe beef, even.

(I swear that pun was not initially intended. But hey, when the opportunity arose, I fucking took it. That's why I'm a champion blogger.)

I think first of all someone should tell Shaq he really isn’t all too great of a rapper and secondly maybe throw out a reminder that not only do his own children look up to him but so do a lot of other children around the world.

This is just a crazy guess, but I doubt Sara Mettlen is the world's biggest hip-hop fan. Of course, Shaq is a terrible rapper, but only when you judge him against professionals. As a free-styling amateur? He's pretty decent, I'd say. And speaking of overplayed angles...

Look, the last thing anyone wants to hear from me is moral outrage in response to moral outrage, so I'll spare you that. Let's just be realistic. It's the 21st century. Not only do kids regularly hear worse than anything in Shaq's song, there's the simple fact that to ask athletes to constantly be on guard against letting children down is to basically ask them not to have a private life. Ten years ago, that rap would have been at best a rumor, a story repeated in select circles and then later related by somebody like the Sports Guy. Hell, that would probably have been true even three or four years ago. So let's be realistic here. Role model or no, Shaq has the right to act like an adult every once in awhile. Which, ironically, usually entails behaving unbelievably childishly, but whatever.

Here comes the tie back to Vick, professional athletes seem to be steadily making poorer and poorer decisions, which is particularly alarming consider nearly all professional sports are enjoying some of the best ratings they’ve had in years.

Wait...Shaq asking Kobe how his ass tastes in a freestyle rap is somehow even remotely comparable to what Michael Vick did? Come on, let's at least try to be sensible here. Oh, and this barely makes any sense. I mean, like, at all. Leaving aside the run-on vibe and the mechanical errors (that should be "considering" up there, and that's without even really looking at it), none of the points in that sentence even begin to logically connect. Michael Vick...poor decisions...still great ratings? What...the...fuck?

So for the rest of the population making a living off of their sport, please find a way to act with more decorum than Shaq. That shouldn’t be too hard.

Or, alternately, for those of us following sports, we could admit these are all real people with real lives, and decide either to enjoy this sort of off-screen stuff or ignore it. Seems only fair.


Although Michael Beasley was, in my opinion at least, the best player in the NBA draft, he didn’t go first. Brandon Rush went higher than expected, Darrell Arthur went lower and somehow Mario Chalmers slipped out of the first round. I’m sorry to break it to anyone who spent hours of their night watching the draft, but it doesn’t really matter. might matter if your team made a terrible selection. Or, if you prefer me to feign optimism, an awesome pick. It certainly matters to me who Chicago chose (although obviously it mattered even more than usual this year). Judging by all the Kansas-related players, I'm guessing Sara Mettlen is approaching this from a collegiate perspective, from which, yeah, it doesn't really matter who goes where as long as they get drafted. But from a professional perspective? It matters a huge fucking deal who goes where.

Until all the trades are finalized you don’t even really know where a guy is going to be playing next year.

Yeah...that's true, but it certainly narrows it down a little, right? I mean, I didn't really bother watching the draft because it's, you know, boring, but I certainly followed it.

A caveat to the it doesn’t matter remark, it does matter in monetary terms for the players themselves, but to fans not so much.

Again...I'd guess a good 85-90% of draftees end up playing (if they ever play at all) for the team that picked them. So yeah, it does matter to fans. Fans of the teams that picked them.

Trades aside, where a player goes in the draft doesn’t necessarily match up with how well he does once he’s in the league. After all, Michael Jordan went No. 3 and the current league MVP Kobe Bryant went No. 13.

Is it just me, or is she arguing two different things here? First that it doesn't matter where a player gets taken, and then also it doesn't matter who selects them. Because maybe I'll grant the first point, but the second one seems, well, kinda dumb.

Ah well, I guess it's all good. And once again, happy belated birthday Michael!


Jonathan said...

Also, wasn't Shaq's rap done basically in private? Based on the video it would not seem like Shaq meant it for the public beyond those there at the time

Passive Voice said...

Giant check-plus for "Kobe beef".

Djmmm said...

Archie... tell me how my ass tastes!