Missing out on the greatest sports writer of all time

I’m 21 years old. It’s currently 1:06 a.m., and the only reason I’m still awake is because the class that is ritualistically held at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday was cancelled. This class is the only class I could possibly tolerate that early (my lack of functionality during the morning is part of the reason I love sports journalism), because it’s taught by the great Kevin Blackistone, and it’s one of the few classes where I can safely say that I learn on a regular basis.

Being 21 means certain things. Besides having a newfound, legal appreciation for the Dogfish Head Raison D’Être I’m currently sipping, having already experienced three-plus years of college (“Years you’ll never get back!” -Everyone Ever), and having the ability to participate in athletic activities multiple times a day and not need an ice bath, being 21 means I’m too young for things.

Specifically, I’m too young to know who Jim Murray was. Which is, frankly a damn shame. In fact,

Jim Murray

I’m a journalism major on track to graduate in less than a year, all set to embark on a career writing about sports for a living, and before tonight, I had never heard of the guy. My father will now gasp in horror.

 

For my contemporaries reading this who are the knowing-about-Jim-Murray equivalent of Yesterday Ethan, here’s his Wikipedia page. Wiki-Jim Murray obviously doesn’t tell the full story. I don’t think anyone or any entity could tell the full story, the late Murray included. His story is too full, too rich to be recounted.

At this point, you may be rhetorically asking yourself how I could possibly know, considering I’ve already disclosed that my knowledge of Jim Murray extends only a few hours. Well, I just read this story by Rick Reilly from 1986. Yes, the same Reilly who is now a caricature at ESPN, who the sports-blogosphere likes to consistenly snicker at behind its veil of self-importance. There’s a reason, however, that Reilly is worth snickering at. It’s that he made a name for himself with good, old-fashioned journalism, and that’s something to be said.

If you don’t read this story, the terrorists (and probably the Patriots, who are, ironically, on the same level as terrorists in my eyes) will win.

Yes, the story is that good that it warrants an entire sentence/paragraph link. Yes, the story made me cry. For multiple reasons. Don’t you wish you could go back to the era where a journalist was twice as famous as the subject of his story, for all the right reasons? A time that predates ESPN, screaming, talking heads on the telly and where following Brett Favre from a high school football practice to his truck isn’t crazy, it’s what’s expected?

I truly wished I lived in a time where four times a week, I could read Jim Murray’s column. I wish the sports journalism world was one where good writing and reporting always beat out sleaze and smut, and where the general public encouraged good writing instead of smut and sleaze.

Maybe it’s just me, and maybe the Raison D’Être has gone to my head, and consequently my fingers, the keyboard and the interwebs, but I kind of feel cheated that I never got to experience that. We all got cheated.

So I raise this bottle to the memory of Jim Murray: the greatest sports writer you’ve never heard of.

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There’s a reason “hamstrung” is an adjective

Darrelle Revis is a fool. He’s a ridiculous talented fool who happens to be the best man-to-man cornerback in the NFL. But that doesn’t exclude him from foolishness, tomfoolery, and foolhardiness (if you have any other nouns that fool is a part of, lemme know).

A hamstring injury isn’t a serious injury. My hammies (hammys? HAMM-IES.) have been sore all fall, and I’ve still managed to play basketball multiple times a week and practice with the club ultimate team four times a week. I haven’t been at full strength, but my full strength isn’t very impressive, so it hasn’t held me back very much.

 

This is where he hurt it. This is the only way to beat Revis

 

Darrelle Revis and I are very different, for a variety of reasons. This much you know. One of those ways is that his body is a much more effective machine than mine. When something goes wrong with his, it’s a big deal. It’s worth a lot of money (finally). If he’s five percent less effective, that five percent is a much larger number than my five percent.

He knows this. Moreover, it’s common sports knowledge that hamstring injuries take as long as you take, and playing through them is always a bad idea. ALWAYS. NO EXCEPTIONS. If you try to come back to early, you won’t be able to play well through it, and you put yourself at serious risk for a much more serious injury.

Why, oh why, then, did he decide that he was different from everyone else, and play through the pain?

Q: How does the hamstring feel?

A:”It’s very, very sore right now,” Revis said. “It was hurting throughout the whole game, and I just fought through it and got through the game.”

….

Q: Do you know if you will be able to play next week?

A: “I don’t know. We don’t know right now how severe the soreness is. We’ll figure it out tomorrow and go from there.”

Because he’s a fool that’s why. I know our dozens (DOZENS!) of readers are made up entirely of two demographics: friends and family members, and professional athletes. So to the professional athletes among you, STOP TRYING TO COME BACK EARLY FROM HAMSTRING INJURIES. IT BENEFITS NO ONE.

That’s all

NFL REDZONE LIVE BLOG. OH YEAH.

NFL RedZone at The Great Mike Luu‘s place, and live blogging about fantasy football. Life is sweet. Peep the bullets:

1:40 p.m.

  • Matt Forte already has four rushes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Yikes. I never knew he was this fast. Where was this kid last year when everyone drafted him top-3?
  • Hakeem Nicks is living up to all the ridiculous projected stats for himself, already catching seven balls for 97 yards and two TDs. Holy macaroni, the Texans pass defense is awful. He was projected in the Villain and my PPR league for 12.20 points…which seemed a little high to me. Guess we were both wrong there.
  • Ray Rice and Joey Flacco each have a short-yard rushing score. The Denvers have actually been pretty good at the goal line, but the Ravens have been able to punch it through directly.

2:30 p.m.

  • Santana Moss and Donovan McNabb have rekindled some of their old chemistry. On their last drive, McNabb targeted Moss at least four times, including one in the end zone. Me likey. Once upon a time, the little Moss was my favorite football player. Then he was traded for Laveraneus Coles, effectively rendering my first ever football jersey (a white Moss #83 Jets jersey) valueless. Thanks, Dan Snyder.
  • Marcedes Lewis and David Garrard have an absurd red zone chemistry. They’ve connected six times for six this year, and twice today. Just picked him up in a league, dropping Owen Daniels, who had had something like seven total points this year. Despicable.
  • The Texans’ vaunted offense has been completely stymied by the Giants, and their pass rush looks like the ’07 Giants. Just while I’m typing, Osi Umenyiora forced a fumble by Matt Schaub, recovered by Justin Tuck.

4:00 p.m.

  • Lots of action since I last checked in. Ray Rice scored another TD, Michael Turner is over 140 yards, Cedric Benson made the Buccaneers defense his bitch, and McNabb has thrown for over 300 yards. These guys all ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE.
  • Brandon Lloyd has been called one of the biggest surprises of the year, and he has 5 catches for 135 yards and two scores today. No, he is not a huge surprise. Years ago, the Redskins signed him to a huge deal because he had this kind of potential:

9:45 p.m.

  • It’s official: I beat Collin. I didn’t just beat him, though, I demolished him, embarassed him, obliterated him, humbled him. He was talking smack all week about how he thinks he’ll win and about his running backs (where’s Arian Foster now, eh?) and how great of a move it was to pick up Sam Bradford in the final hour. None of it mattered. All three of my receivers (Santana Moss, Hakeem Nicks and Malcolm Floyd) had at least seven catches and more than 110 yards. Nicks (who, if you remember, was on Collin’s team until he traded him away for Tom Brady and his girly hair) was a monster, tallying 12 receptions, 130 yards and two scores. Malcolm Floyd proved that no matter the matchup, he’s now a must-play: Going up against Nnamdi Asomugha, he brought in eight balls for a ridiculous 213 yards and a TD. Cedric Benson also ran wild against the Buccaneers, and Tony Romo had a prolific day, throwing for more than 400 yards and three scores (but also three picks. Das bad IRL). Eat it, Collin.
  • Michael Bush was wildly successful filling in for the injured-but-previously-wildly-successful Darren McFadden. Running against a Chargers’ D that was the fourth-best in the league, Bush carried the rock 26 times for 104 yards, crossing the plane once. That’ll play in all formats. That’s got to make all McFadden owners a tad nervous.
  • Much along the same vein, Christopher Ivory was filling in for an injured Pierre Thomas. However, you can consider Bush the “Ebony” to Chris Ivory, because Ivory laid an egg, running for only 39 yards, no scores, and no catches. What a dud. The PT Cruiser should be back next week, and not a moment too soon. The Saints needed him today.
  • Staying in that same game, it’s clear that Max Hall doesn’t help any Cardinals position players. Fitzy finally had a nice week, but the only TDs that the Cards scored were either by an O-lineman or on defense. The Saints consistently loaded the box, holding Beanie Wells (20 carries) and Tim Hightower (four totes) to less than 2 yards per carry. Ouch. Hopefully the Cards will fare better in week seven after their bye next week

Hope you enjoyed today’s action as much as I did. If I get some comments (anyone out there?), this could become a weekly thing. Not next week, though, because I got a thing. Stay golden, pony boy.

Victory for the Providence Grays!

Ethan and I started this blog when the fantasy baseball season began.  We pumped up my abilities in fantasy baseball and discussed how villainous my trades were.  It is likely that many of you readers thought to yourselves that I was some cocky annoying writer who wouldn’t be able to back up his broad claims.

Today the season ended–and I was locked in a tight race with Team to Beat on the last day of the season.  I just asked Team to Beat for a quote for this post and he said, “fuck this shit.”  Naturally I won.  Besides the theoretical money reward for winning (you know, if gambling were legal), this victory simply confirms my dominance at fantasy baseball.

Team to Beat deserves a ton of credit for his managerial job this season.  Coming out of the auction, he appeared to have the best team in the league.  He had Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Justin Upton.  Obviously Upton didn’t work out, but Hamilton’s resurgence and the presence of three of the top American League pitchers (Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee and David Price) on his team allowed him to stay in the race and forge a September comeback for the record books.

There were a few moves I made to maintain my lead over Team to Beat on the season’s last day and live forever as the 2010 champion of the ever-creatively named “Keeper League.”

  1. Streaming–So when September hit, school got crazy and I didn’t have the opportunity to continue streaming pitchers…as a result I lost a point in strikeouts.  Keep in mind, Dave and I finished the season separated by one point, so literally every move mattered.  Over the last week-and-a-half, I have resumed streaming and today played four starters to get that point on the last day of the season, a risky decision considering…
  2. Saves–I had to bench two quasi-closers to pitch four starters.  And remember how I said Team to Beat and I were separated by one point? Well, more accurately we were separated by two saves going into today.  So benching these closers could have proven disastrous, but I got a little lucky here and there and continued to win.
  3. Maintaining the status quo–As you can see from above, the points I really needed were in pitching categories, but I was also involved in a tight race in steals and runs.  I have played the season with only one bench position player (Brian Roberts or Ian Kinsler depending on matchups and injuries).  With the mass benchings in recent days that come at the end of every season, I made the tough decision to not pick up any players and hope the ones I had could come through while really focussing on the pitching points.  And it worked!

I would like to note again that Team to Beat deserves a ton of credit.  I was winning the league by 14 points at one point in late summer, and I didn’t fall off.  I maintained my point total and Team to Beat caught me…almost.  It took a little luck in the end, but I’ll take what I can get.

And yes I am that good at fantasy baseball, but fantasy football is just a terrible game.  C’mon Colts D– negative points? Seriously? I played the last place team this week and he is currently the points leader for the week.  Karma I guess.

Rudy, but mo’ gangsta

It’s been a frustrating year for me in fantasy baseball. I entered the year mired in a Konerko-esque career slump, having not even gotten a trophy (a top-3 finish) in any baseball league since 2005. Every year I’ve had at least two, sometimes more, teams. I had good keepers, but my team had a desperate lack of pitching. Jair Jurrjens’ injury, Scott Baker’s mental implosion, Tim Lincecum’s worst season to date, and Andre Ethier injured himself when he was leading the NL in all three Triple Crown categories. The luck seemed bad, the odds long.

Gangsta

Rudy

The calendar turned to June. I trade a still DL-stricken Andre Ethier to my older brother for David Wright (at that point, with eight homers, nine steals, a .260-something average and 34 RBI) and John Danks (who had just been blown up for eight runs and 11 hits and walks in four innings). Ed. Note: Ethier keeps for 13, so Jeremy isn’t a jackass. I guess.

Five weeks later, I deal Jason Heyward, an unbelievably good keeper at 8, to another manager in my league who had given up already (he was in a perfectly reasonable fifth place at the time) for Cole Hamels (sporting a 4.20 ERA) and Roy Halladay (cementing himself as the frontrunner for the Cy Young already).

In two big deals, and admittedly some awesome luck with midseason acquisitions (picking up Corey Hart, Paul Konerko, Jose Tabata, Ian Desmond, Mike Leake (early), hitting Josh Willingham on his hot streak, Chris Perez, John Axford, Joel Piñeiro for one start – a complete game shutout – they all helped the cause), my season picked up from a low point of 54 at the end of June.

I shot up the rankings to first place by early August, then was unceremoniously passed by the defending champion, my twin brother (and lifelong arch-rival), a few days leader. Riding fantasy offensive juggernaut-cyborg-roto-terminators Carlos Gonzalez, Albert Pujols and Carl Crawford (Y! season-to-date ranks: 1, 2 and 9 respectively), Roy Oswalt’s ridiculous production after his trade to the Phillies and Josh Johnson and Cliff Lee’s all-important early season contributions, Matt stormed past me and built an intimidating late season lead.

Beating me 79-68 on August 20-something, and 83-74 just ten days ago, Matt looked unstoppable. Climbing from that deficit seemed like an insurmountable task. What’s a ridiculous task that I could use to metaphorize and explain to you…

hmm…

It’s like climbing up….

uuuuuupppppppppp……

THE CLIFFS OF INSANITY!!!!.

But I Man-in-Blacked that shit. I did it. Today, I am in first place. 82-81.5. No, it might not last. I don’t care. Second place pays for both my leagues anyway. I made it back to the top. I caught Matt, and proved that I still got it.

Allow me to re-introduce myself.

6 Tiers of Football Teams–Week 3

Bloggers, pundits and sportswriters in general have taken to making power rankings every week for NFL teams.  They mean nothing because they change after the next week of games.

So I decided to slightly amend this pointless endeavor to make it slightly more purposeful–put the teams into further meaningless tiers based on how interesting they are instead of how good they are.  So here goes…

The Most Interesting Team in the League:

Philadelphia Eagles–Because of one man and one man only: Mike Vick.  The Eagles were not expected to be very good this year and they still might not be, but Vick has been unbelievable.  How many times did a defender run up to Vick’s blindside only to have him spin away at the very last second because he is superhuman?  A lot…there is no team in the league I would rather watch right now.

This image has been photoshopped, but I felt it shows the dichotomy of Vick's career.

Perennially Awful Teams That Suddenly Aren’t:

Houston Texans–OK, so it’s not really sudden, it’s been a slow building process for the Texans but they’re finally getting there.  Mario Williams is looking like a great decision and Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster are looking like one of the best sets of skill position threesomes in the NFL.

Kansas City Chiefs–Completely unexpected and unlikely to continue, but Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles make up a solid running back combo.  Matt Cassel and the defense have looked average so far, but the Chargers and Browns played poorly in the Chiefs first two games, so their success will likely not continue.

Perennially Decent Teams That Suddenly Aren’t:

Dallas Cowboys–I hate the Cowboys.  But further, they’re actually terrible this year.  Romo hasn’t looked good and they are starting to look significantly older.

Buffalo Bills–Nah, just kidding, they’ve been awful for a long time…pretty much forever actually.

Teams with One or More Interesting Storyline:

New York Jets–How can the Jets respond to enormous preseason hype?  So far, the Jets have been the Jekyll and Hyde of the season so far, but their response to the hype will be an interesting study for future self-indulging football coaches.  Also, LT is reviving his career somewhat quietly for a New York story.

New England Patriots–One interesting storyline, and one storyline only: Tom Brady’s hair…

Baltimore Ravens–Can Joe Flacco be successful with his new toys?  So far the answer has been a resounding “No.”

Cincinnati Bengals– Terrell Owens + Chad Ochocinco = intrigue

Detroit Lions–Regardless of production, Calvin Johnson is fun to watch

My Teams:

New York Giants–Really, every team in the league is interesting to someone.  In a season with only 16 games, even the worst teams remain interesting to their fans until the very end.  Even if the Giants get eliminated from playoff contention before Week 10, I will continue to watch those games because I have to enjoy each and every time I get to watch 60 minutes of Giants football.

Teams That Really Aren’t Interesting To Me:

Every other team.

So there are a lot of teams that just are not that interesting this year, performing right around expectations.  But don’t judge too much after two weeks.  Remember, the Giants were the best team in football right up until about Week 6 last year.  Things change, and when they do, so will my power rankings.

The Playoff Push: Where the Phillies make me poop myself

The Yankees are pretty assured of a playoff spot. This much has been certain for a while. They will either win the AL East or win the wild card. The Rangers, Twins and Rays also will be in the playoffs. All of these teams are great. Probably not as good as the Yankees, but who is?

I’ll tell you who is. The Phillies is. The Phillies most definitely is. I wrote them off a few weeks ago

Do you really need more reasons to hate the Phillies than this?

because they were losing in the division race to the Braves. Since then, the Phillies have reeled off a record so terrifying I don’t even want to look it up. Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt form a pitching trio deadlier than any in recent memory – I think all of them have sub-3 ERAs since August, which is just…I hate it.

Roy Oswalt ‘s career has been on the schneid for like 5 years. All of a sudden, he gets traded to an already good team in a hitter’s park and turns into 2005 Roy Oswalt? Roy Halladay is who we thought he is, having just gotten win number 20 last night. Cole Hamels is my boi, has been for a long time, and finds himself on both of my fantasy team. He might be their best pitcher right now. In his last six starts, he has an ERA of 0.82, 45 strikeouts and five wins in 43.2 innings pitched. Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway), he’s regained his 2008 form and then some.

Then, you have the Phillies offense. Jimmy Rollins is hurt, but at this point, that hardly matters. Ryan Howard is mashing, and Jayson Werth, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez combine to form by far the best lineup in the NL, and they and the Yankees are neck and neck for the best in the bigs.

Which of course brings me back to the Bronx Bombers. The Phillies may be frighteningly hot right now and devastatingly talented, but does that mean they’re better than the Yankees? I mean, Alex Rodriguez is now clutch, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada are one hell of an offensive core. Derek Jeter isn’t even one of our 5 best hitters, but that doesn’t mean he’s no longer Derek Jeter. Brett Gardner is faster than any Phillie, which counts for something, and Curtis Granderson is (FINALLY) hitting this month.

Don’t forget, we still have the single greatest playoff weapon of all time at the back of the bullpen, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and…well there’s the rub. The only reason the Phillies do scare me is I don’t know who comes after Andrew Eugene. Phil Hughes was dominant in the beginning of the year but has completely reversed course and become a mediocre-at-best SP since the break. A.J. Burnett might as well carry around his own personal Heimlich maneuver technician (which is my guess as to what one would be called) he’s such a choke artist and Javier Vazquez is allergic to pinstripes/expectations.

Granted, none of this may matter when the calender flips to October. These are the Yankees we’re talking about. Say what you want about this current manifestation, but they now know what it takes to hoist that multi-flagged trophy. The Phillies do too, but they have a different sort of aura. The Yankees’ is tradition, professionalism, nostalgia and The Memory of The Boss. The Phillies’ is tasers, Riot Punch, and of course, this guy: