‘Doc Hollywood’

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No, I’m not talking about the cute 1991 Michael J Fox film that Pixar’s, Cars blatantly ripped off. I’m talking about Doc Rivers being the new head coach and VP of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers… Yes, this is the sad reality that Celtics fans have to wrap their heads around currently. Doc Rivers, is coaching the Clippers… And this was all his doing.

Will Pierce and KG remain Celtics?

Will Pierce and KG remain Celtics?

Ever since the Celtics got ousted by the Knicks in early May there have been a lot of questions about where the organization is going to go this off season. The looming question remains on whether or not the Celtics will option Paul Pierce’s contract which would likely keep him on the team for his entire career. Whether or not KG will be sticking around is another big question as he thought very seriously about retiring after last season. Basically, are the Celtics going to milk the last useful ounces of basketball out of these future hall of famers, or are they going to go young and start their inevitable rebuilding? These were all the major questions that surrounded the franchise going into the season and Doc Rivers knew very well when he signed the 5 year contract two seasons ago that rebuilding was coming sooner rather than later.

Today I watched a press conference of Danny Ainge talking publicly for the first time about the entire situation of Doc’s departure. Ainge gave a heartfelt statement about Doc and praised him for his time and dedication to the franchise and the city of Boston over the years. It was when the media finally got to ask their questions about the whole situation that you started to see that Ainge was clearly hurt from the whole situation. He and Doc were very close friends and it’s hard to not take it personally when someone chooses to move on to something new after a healthy relationship has bloomed. He affirmed several times that it wasn’t his decision and that his choice was always Doc.

bos_g_rivers_ainge1_sw_576During the conference Ainge said that he met with Doc on May 8th and they discussed his future with the franchise. Doc gave no clear cut answer to where his heart lied so after the meeting Ainge wrote him a letter saying that the Celtics fully expected him to honor his contract and wanted him to continue coaching the team. Doc asked what his options were for the future and the Celtics laid out all the possible ways he could go. They laid out the possibilities of a trade that would send Doc away to another team in need of a coach and the Clippers were a very attractive option for him. Doc would get the opportunity to coach CP3 and Blake Griffin in Los Angeles, a place he would be able to golf year round. Understandably so, it’s a pretty nice offer to go from a place with harsh winters, to a town with 345 days of sunshine when you like the swing the sticks a few times a week.

At first when the rumors had started circulating the Celtics were talking about trading off Doc, Paul Pierce and KG were attached to the deal and the Clippers were going to send Deandre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. This would’ve been a really interesting move for both teams but it was way too crazy and the NBA never would’ve signed off on it. After those rumors stopped swirling around the trade talks went dead for awhile and it became an afterthought.

Doc’s silence eventually became too deafening to bare as he just wouldn’t fully commit to coming back to the C’s. Jackie McMullan, the Espn Boston corespondent who has covered the Celtics for decades gave her side of the situation after the press conference saying that Danny Ainge probably decided that Doc was going to leave anyway if he still hadn’t committed, so why not try and get something out of it, even if it’s little?

At first the Celtics were asking for two first round picks but the Clippers wouldn’t budge on the deal. Eventually they agreed to a deal yesterday, in which the Clippers would get Doc, and the Celt’s would get the Clippers 1st round pick of the 2015 draft. While it’s not much compensation, it’s better than nothing, and Ainge let Doc go.

Sorry Doc, You're Maybe the 4th Best Coach We've Ever Had.

Sorry Doc, You’re Maybe the 4th Best Coach We’ve Ever Had.

Ainge talked about how close they were and that when they signed him to a big contract a few years prior they had talked about trying to get him more Celtic wins than Red Auerbach. I understand that it’s tough to go back to rebuilding after being so successful for so many years but maybe that’s one of the things that made Doc so uncertain about returning. I don’t think it was ever a real rumor after the season but I saw several times on Reddit where people were pleading their case saying we should fire him after we lost to the Knicks. Maybe he was afraid that eventually the fans in Boston would completely turn on him if the franchise went back to a few years of mediocrity and the organization would shit can him anyway. Maybe he didn’t want to be victimized and scorned the way Terry Francona was when he was forced out of Boston and reporters said that he was abusing painkillers because he had an ailing relationship with his wife. Francona is a very good friend of Rivers and I have no doubt that they talked a lot about everything Tito went through in Boston.

Earlier today when it became official that he was a Clipper head coach they also announced that he would be the VP of Basketball Operations, a decidedly higher role in the team than he had in Boston. Ainge never mentioned anything about Doc wanting a higher role in the decision making processes of the Celtics but I find it interesting that he immediately was named that for the Clippers. Whether or not it means Doc has all the control over the franchise’s personnel decisions remains to be seen, but even just the title promotes a much higher power than he held during his time in Boston.

rondo-riversThere was also talk of him wanting to get out of Boston so that he wouldn’t have to coach Rondo anymore. Sure Rondo is known to be quite the elusive spirit in the locker room and on the court, I think any coach would want a talent like him on the team. The report that was made was about an incident that occurred a few seasons ago when Rondo got upset during a team meeting and caused a scene. If Rondo was the real reason he left, he probably would’ve left a few seasons ago. Maybe Rondo factored into his decision, but it was probably more of “umm do I want to coach CP3 or Rajon Rondo?” As much as I love Rondo, that’s a pretty obvious decision to make.

A lot will remain unknown for the foreseeable future as we have not heard Doc’s side of the situation. We’ll never know the exact reasons he made the decisions he made. Whether he didn’t want to participate in the rebuilding of the franchise, didn’t want to handle the media, wanted out because of Rondo, wanted to work on his golf game, wanted a bigger say in the franchise, or just simply wanted to bring a Championship to the other team in LA, all we can do is speculate. After the Clippers introduce him as their head coach on Wednesday, he is going to host a press conference with the Boston media following, which will answer some of our questions. But, I will admit it would be pretty cool to be the first coach to bring a championship to the Clippers trophy case would be pretty cool so I can’t fault him for wanting that.

I think the saddest part of the whole deal is the taste it will leave in all of the Celtics’ fans mouths. As Boston fans we tend to wear our hearts on our sleeves and when we’re hurt by players or coaches we tend to turn to anger. Maybe that’s the “Irish” mentality that surrounds the city of Boston, but we boo returning players and in many cases never forgive them. While I’m sad that Doc has left the franchise to go on to new things I think it is still important that we honor and respect the time that he spent as the head coach of the Celtics. He weathered the storm his first bunch of nightmare seasons in Boston and helped get us a championship while leading several other title runs.

Besides, maybe he is right and it’s best that he and the franchise part ways. I will say one thing about Doc, is that he’s great with using the core players of the team, but has never really been all that great at effectively using his bench talent. The only reason Jeff Green eventually became a big threat on the team was because he got more playing time due to other player injuries. Courtney Lee, and Jason Terry have been effective pieces on other franchises but could never really find their rhythm this past season. Really the past few seasons they’ve had what seems like bolstered the bench, and by the end of the season it’s a core group of 6 players that really contribute, and that’s it. Not saying I wouldn’t welcome Doc back with open arms, but maybe it’s good to move in a new direction with a fresh face and a new mind.

Obviously there will be a lot of mixed feelings when he returns to the TD Garden but I hope he is welcomed back with more cheers than boos. Luckily lob city is pretty neutral to me, so I feel more nostalgic about this whole situation, then hostile. If he went to the Heat like that cocksucker Ray Allen, I would hope that we would boo him every second he was in the city of Boston.

Aaron Hernandez, Not Playing Football Like I Told Him to.

"He Fell Funny"

“He Fell Funny”

Back in the spring of 2011 when I was in the middle of the drunken fog that was my final semester of college, I decided to attend a piece of shit bar in downtown Hartford named Pour House that specializes in dollar beers, rapey fraternity gentleman, and Bon Jovi songs. To enjoy the shoulder-to-shoulder, scream-to-have-a-conversation atmosphere even mildly, several of these dollar beers have to be ingested. After my 4th or 5th beer (probably really 8th or 9th) I heard my friend from Bristol, CT say “fucking Aaron Hernandez is here.” She happens to be a Ravens fan and I’m wasted so I just take it as smack talk and store it in the back of my brain.

About five minutes later I finally realized what she said and that it would make sense for her to know him since she’s from the same town. She points him out to me at the other end of the bar, and a few of my friends and I head in his direction. Creepily we stand in a semi circle about 8 feet away from him just staring at him and his entourage of scary characters. He is having a good time and I want to say that I appreciate his work on the field but I don’t want to bug him at the same time. Finally after about 10 minutes of staring at him I decide to say something to him. I tap him on the shoulder and he turns to me with a smile on his face. As he looks at me I forget what I want to say so I decide to say the first words that come to my brain at the time which are “Play Football.” He raises his eyebrows, I nod, and walk away realizing it’s probably the best interaction I could have ever had with him. That’s as far as my interaction went with Aaron, as my friends and I journeyed back to the other side of the bar to continue drinking our faces off. Still amidst all the haze I would never forget those simple words “Play Football,” and would think of them every time I watched him play football. Well that is until now at least.

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One year reserved from signing both Gronk and Hernandez to long term contracts for the foreseeable future it is looking bleak that they will be taking the field together at the start of the 2013 season. That is unless Gronk parties too hard and shoots someone in the back of a head and they end up playing on the same team in federal prison… I mean Gronk likes to party, but he’s more of the get drunk and get a VD type of partier so I don’t see that happening.

Maybe I should catch you up on the situation if you’re a little behind.

So, one of Aaron Hernandez’s buddies, Odin Lloyd, who was dating Hernandez’s fiancee’s friend, was found dead less than a mile away from Hernandez’s house. We know that he was mob-execution-style, put on his knees and shot in the back of the head. That’s all we really knew at first.

No big deal right? People get placed on their knees and shot in the back of the head all the time…

Then we found out that he was found near a rental car under the name Aaron Hernandez… “That’s peculiar” is probably what the cops said and they decided to approach Aaron Hernandez and search his home for any more evidence linking the two together. According to some reporters, Hernandez was initially uncooperative with the officials, which could mean anything from “I wan’t to have my attorney present” to “I ain’t talking to some jive ass oinky oinks.” It was probably the latter because he doesn’t seem that intelligent. Although if he really used “oinky oinks” I would praise him for his creative use of the English language.

Either way, at this point there was far from anything conclusive that linked him directly to the murder. That is until the next day they when found out that he destroyed the security system in his home, he turned in his cell phone into the authorities in pieces, we found out that he had hired cleaners to come in to his house last Monday and there is footage of Hernandez, a few of his buddies, and Lloyd all leaving a club together the night before his body was discovered… This obviously caused the police to have a much more detailed look at Hernandez’s home and made everyone a lot more suspicious of his involvement with the case.

Late this past week many sources were under the impression that the courts were going to issue a warrant to arrest Hernandez for obstruction of justice in a murder case. This is a very serious charge and could mean serious jail time plus a more than hefty suspension from the NFL. If it turns out to be worse, and we find out that Hernandez was the one who had his finger on the trigger it would obviously stand to be a much more serious penalty for him. Still, even if he just tampered with evidence, Goodell will be a lot more harsh with this suspension outside of whatever jail time he would face, even if he pleads guilty.

To add the icing to the cake another story also emerged this week as suit was filed against Hernandez for negligence as he apparently shot someone in the face in Florida months ago. The guy didn’t come out with this suit until now which is pretty strange because even if it were on accident, I would probably tattle on someone who shot me in the face. I mean, it’s your face… which is part of your head… which has a brain in it… and that brain doesn’t particularly like bullets… So yeah I find it a little convenient that he would file that lawsuit now, knowing that Hernandez is linked to a homicide. Well not convenient for Hernandez, but you know what I mean.

Obviously all this is no good for the new-look New England Patriots offense that lost star receiver Wes Welker to free agency (more like gave away to free agency) and has been plagued with injuries to the Gronk. As it stands, Gronk’s time table to get back to full strength before the season begins is in serious question as he just underwent a back surgery to go with the 3 or 4 other surgeries he’s had on his forearm since last season. The dynamic attack that Gronk and Hernandez provided the team made them an absolutely lethal offensive force over the middle of the field when the two have been healthy. If Hernandez does in fact get booked for obstruction of justice it leaves the Patriots in a much more vulnerable place and will no doubt make them less dominant over the middle of the field. Thanks to the brilliance of Belichick they signed Jake Ballard before last season even though they knew he wasn’t going to play a second in 2012, so they have a very qualified talent to take up Hernandez’s spot. Ballard doesn’t have quite the amount of athleticism that Hernandez has, but Ballard isn’t linked to a homicide at this time so that’s okay.

A lot of people have called into question the choices made in recent memory where the Patriots take high risk picks on players who may have checkered pasts in hopes to mold them into better players with discipline. Unfortunately they haven’t had as much luck recently with players like Randy Moss, OchoCinco, and Albert Haynesworth who all eventually proved to be more of a distraction than anything. You can most certainly add Hernandez to that list now and make a case that drafting Gronk was a dangerous choice because we knew he came with injury problems and a bad back. I have to back Belichick on this one because of the successful years we got out of Corey Dillon and Rodney Harrison. It remains to be seen how Aqib Talib will pan out but I’ve got my fingers crossed that he will continue helping the team improve their secondary as he did in his short stint with the team last season. Same goes for Amendola who I think has potential to be better than Welker if he can stay healthy for a whole season. There is a pretty significant “if” there and it does raise some concerns.

Still, any time Tom Brady is standing in the back field on your team you have the ability to contend so I’m not worried the offense will be good enough to win. If we can have a top 10 offense then we could easily win if we can get a top tier defense. Let’s hope they can get their shit together and hope Aqib Talib doesn’t blow anyone’s head off before the season starts so they have a chance of finally getting Brady that 4th ring.

I can’t help but wonder if Hernandez has ever come back to that moment when he was at the bar and the strange drunk guy walked up to him and simply told him to “play football.” I’m sure right now there are hundreds of scenarios running through his head right now and not many of them include football. If he had just listened to my advice maybe he wouldn’t be in this situation but unfortunately it’s looking like he’s got a fair chance in making the cast of the real life The Longest Yard. Unfortunately for him it won’t be half as funny as the Adam Sandler remake, which wasn’t funny at all. It’s also not half as funny as this clip from The Departed, which was the first thing I thought of when I heard that Lloyd was executed. Let’s hope that if Hernandez really did pull the trigger, he at least said that.

UPDATE:

Aaron Hernandez has been arrested and booked for the murder of Odin Lloyd, and for five separate gun related charges.

“Boston Strong. Don’t fuck with us or we’ll put a bullet in your brain.”
-Aaron Hernandez

My Fake Sentiments Exactly

There are fans that say boxing and mix martial arts and professional wrestling aren’t related. The following is an article on how they are related for me:

Both involve a fight and a show. Most of the time, each could be called a refined extraction from the other. And, conversely, each is most beautiful on those perhaps seldom occasions when they masterfully and completely incorporate the trademark of the other.

If you put on RAW this week, you might see a dancing Brodus Clay bringing children into the ring, an incensed Big Show ripping apart a steal chair with his bare hands, or John Cena spewing off an overzealous promotional diatribe. This is a spectacle. It’s a show that they have mastered and a philosophical and psychological formula. It is careful maneuvering designed to create or protect stars, or bring about human interest.

This is a picture of Hulk Hogan.

But if you’re looking for violence, and truly unpredictable sport, then what do you care?

Now say you’re flipping through the channels and you come to boxing – two guys that you don’t know, in the ring, duking it out. The technique could be there. The blood and black eyes could be there. But unless you’re a boxing diehard, what do you care who wins this fight between two 117lb guys with matching 15-11 records?

Consider your favorite moments from fighting and from wrestling. Could these not be said to be times when pro wrestling masterfully “does pro fighting” and fighting masterfully “does pro wrestling?” To be perfected, the show just needs the fight, and the fight just needs the show. The forms are yin and yang. They’re siblings that got different traits from the same father. It’s fascinating.

The interesting case study here is the long history of athletes and pro wrestler’s public veneration for one another. Muhammad Ali loved and learned from professional wrestling. More recently, Floyd Mayweather, “King” Mo Lawal, Roy Nelson, Chael Sonnen, and football players like Adam “PacMan” Jones, Bart Scott, and Brandon Jacobs have expressed their appreciation for the craft. And star wrestlers are always being spotted out at games or making their thoughts on the fights known via Twitter.

I’ve always thought the mutual respect had something to do with this symbiotic relationship. When an athlete’s body becomes their business, respect naturally grows for “the show” of it all, an aspect of which the pro wrestler is usually playing on a different level. And for their show to be any good the wrestler needs at least some of what the athlete or fighter often has in abundance – athletic ability.

 

Individual preference makes it even more fascinating. I’m partial to pro wrestling. I’ve commented to friends that, when I watch boxing or the UFC, I could just as well be watching the promoter sitting ringside. How do they do it? How did they get me to buy into this story? How did they, say, make me believe in this guy that, now that the fight is over, clearly never really stood a chance? I like the 24/7 shows. I like the positioning and the psychology. I enjoy the drama of it.

The other side of the same coin is that I see people all the time that wouldn’t willingly watch a lick of “pro ‘wrasslin,” but they never fail to perk up once CM Punk and Daniel Bryan get going, or the guys in Dragon Gate or down in Mexico start hitting hurricanrannas. Their “thing” is pure sport.

This is all not to say that promotions don’t sometimes turn into fights and fights don’t sometimes develop their own stories. That’s but a separate branch of where I’m going with this.

What led me down this train of thought was the fights this past weekend. The pro wrestling diehard in me related to them in terms of pro wrestling (I really can’t help it), and as such, quite ironically, they made me feel a way I don’t think pro wrestling can make me feel anymore. The further point that I’ve been considering is whether that is a good or bad thing.

First, on UFC on FOX 5, there was the brash 23-year-old Canadian Rory MacDonald versus aging legend BJ Penn. BJ Penn has been around forever. I’ve never been particularly invested in him, or in the UFC for that matter, but I know and have seen that he’s provided the company and fans a lot of great moments over the years. And MacDonald is just such a geek, never says the right thing, another one that’s going to be a fan favorite in French Canada and nowhere else. I wanted so badly for BJ – just one more time – to trounce the kid in seconds, lick the back of his hands, scream, and pronounce himself back in the hunt. That, in the situation, would have provided the greatest moment possible, the greatest drama possible. And apparently I wasn’t alone in the sense. Penn was an overwhelming crowd favorite, and MacDonald nearly booed out of the building.

But that scenario did not play out.

Rory MacDonald was too big, too young, and too good. And he just beat BJ Penn up. Oh, reality. And that’s fighting. That’s fighting’s inherent drama. That’s not, in this instance, where I drew back to pro wrestling, though.

Rory MacDonald is either naïve or a remarkably sharp young man. I lean towards thinking the former, but ultimately it really doesn’t matter either way. His actions and demeanor before, during, and after the fight have now turned him into a bona fide pro wrestling bad guy. During the fight he taunted Penn and at times broke out into doing the “Ali Shuffle.” This is all fine and good, were it not for the fact that he was fighting (and roundly defeating) a beloved hero who was smaller than him and ten years his senior and now the whole world (except French Canada) fucking hates him. The good news (and part he’d be a remarkably sharp young man for if any of his shtick was intentionally performed) is that being a true bad guy in any combat sport is money in the bank for all parties.

If Rory MacDonald was in pro wrestling I would have marveled at his performance on Saturday night. Look at all those dick-ish things he’s doing! What an asshole! As it is mix martial arts, I’m just frustrated trying to think of who is going to be able to beat the dickens out of this guy. What an asshole.

Later in the night, on a different presentation altogether, Juan Manuel Marquez shockingly and horrifyingly knocked out longtime rival Manny Pacquiao with one crisp counter right hand. The aftermath – emotionally – was remarkable. It had been a wild, back-and-forth fight. There was one second left in the round when it happened. Then Pacquiao was lying still, face-down on the canvas. Marquez was jumping in celebration. Marquez fans were going crazy. Pacquiao fans were crushed. Manny’s wife ran to the ring, terrified and crying, and had to be corralled by a distraught-looking Bob Arum, Manny’s promoter. Again, if this scene had been created in pro wrestling, I would have been in awe. Fucking masterful.

As it was boxing, I honestly just kind of felt like shit. I had invested in Manny Pacquiao. He’s a really likeable guy. As a fan, he’s provided me many fond memories. And he got hurt. Badly. And his wife was scared. For real. There are the other angles. Is he going to be alright? Did I just pay money to watch a man suffer the onset of a condition that will make the rest of his life at best harder and at worst miserable? Am I fucked up for not feeling this way when he did this same thing to other men that other people were emotionally invested in? Then there’s the steroids thing. Marquez has an open association with a trainer formally caught up in the whole BALCO scandal and has noticeably bulked up. Did he criminally punish Manny Pacquiao? Am I OK with being a fan of a sport like this?

I didn’t know right then, and maybe I still don’t, but the sight of Juan Manuel Marquez evoked no admiration from me on Saturday.

I don’t necessarily mean to suggest that Rory MacDonald and Juan Manuel Marquez are “bad guys” – perhaps just that were to me in those moments. Consider the same story from Marquez’s Mexican fan base’s point of view. Their guy, because he was a lesser star, had been robbed in the two men’s three previous fights. This night he finally, convincingly, got his vindication. It was a celebration. It was a payoff for them, not a build-up. The “bad guy” was vanquished, because it was a different bad guy.

And with Rory MacDonald….well, pretty much no one was cheering for Rory MacDonald.

Just kidding, Rory (Am I?).

I can think of two possible criticisms for looking at things the way in which I am describing. One is that pro wrestling’s “formula” for drama and emotion is only an artificial recreation of real situations that will sometimes play out in a real fight. The other, similarly, is that said real emotions are always “better” to feel because they are real; they are more tangible. That is to say that the way I felt seeing the hero of the story get beaten on Saturday night cuts to a deeper and therefore somehow more worthwhile place than a wrestling angle ever could because in a wrestling angle you’re only suspending disbelief and have the comfort of knowing that after the show is over everything will be alright.

I feel that the first point is altogether very obvious and also unfair (if that is possible). Clearly wrestling’s storylines are based on the concept of a real fight; they are based on good versus evil. That’s the basic formula that any true conflict needs to be laid on and they couldn’t be based on anything else. A fight between two men is simply similarly elemental that way. You are good. The guy trying to hurt you is evil. Vice versa. To be elaborated on.

However, historically it should be pro wrestling, not boxing or mix martial arts, that gets credit for really running with a predominantly promotional format aimed to aid them financially (and happening to be at the expense of traditional competition). Pro wrestling made that decision. It could be argued it made the decision that effectively broke away all three genres from being small betting sports and into being able to be the massive spectator attractions they are today. It’s a decision that nowadays is often mocked and ridiculed without much thought, but one that fascinates me nonetheless because, given that wrestling during when last “legitimate” was often far more barbaric than boxing or the UFC is today, isn’t it the best, most savvy decision the men trying to make a living within it could have made? And hasn’t that evolved into its’ own pretty incredible and worthwhile art form?

There have been several instances over the last couple of years where Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO of WWE, will say something openly or ambiguously derogatory about the UFC, and Dana White, their promoter, who is known for being brash, foul-mouthed, and not shy to state his opinions, won’t fire back. Many people wonder why. I don’t. I have no doubt that Dana White is a fight fan. I’d also be willing to bet that he is not a fan of anybody fighting for free. And the fact is, like it or not, a pro wrestling construction has given the UFC its’ greatest successes and Vince McMahon is the greatest architect of getting people to pay money to see any semblance of fighting.

The Ultimate Fighter, people forget, debuted in the desirable timeslot immediately following Monday Night Raw, and a show ripe with conflict, a show designed to create characters, where sixteen fighters “lived” together in a house, got wrestling’s carry-over audience and gave the UFC its national breakthrough. Then Brock Lesnar, a star really only Vince McMahon and pro wrestling could have created, by White and Lesnar’s own admissions, came in. He carried with him also the outsider invasion storyline. “Who does this fake pro wrestler think he is coming into a real sport”? Whether you wanted to see him beat up, or you wanted to see him legitimize pro wrestling, you wanted to see him. He’s the biggest star the UFC has ever had. Now, Chael Sonnen brings in their pay-per-view buys on the back of his talking….like a pro wrestler. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

 

The second counterpoint is a more interesting one to explore: That the emotion produced from a “real” situation is effectively a superior high or more meaningful low. I suppose some might take what I’m saying as that those lows in fighting are too terrifying, the competition is too dangerous, and it’s better for all involved that it be “faked.” I did kind of feel that way this past weekend, which led me to reflect on my attraction to each of these forms of entertainment that I’ve come to know so well.

I hope that this little stream of consciousness of mine here hasn’t been too jumbled and messy for anyone to follow thus far, because what I came away with isn’t any less complicated and brings ultimately no resolution. The debate between real and shaped situations, the emotions produced by them, and the expenses or lack each carries, is quickly lost to the fact that what draws me to each side is something slightly different than whatever it is that creates immediate emotion.

I see professional wrestling as about creation; it’s something where men work together. As I touched on briefly, when I was a little kid it may have done for me the same thing that seeing Manny Pacquiao get conquered did – make me angry, sad, or joyous – but now after it having produced those emotions in me I almost immediately recognize and judge it for how it was trying to do so and that is what creates the lasting emotion.

This is where it gets tricky because if I was to judge boxing or mix martial arts by the same exact criteria I would have to say that they were destructive and, no matter how any expert tried to spin it, the combatant’s motives malicious. There is simply no getting around the fact that the goal involved is trying to hurt another person. I sway towards thinking this way sometimes. These are the days I do not like boxing. They are the days that I am not a fan of mix martial arts.

There’s just something else, though.

The thing that specifically draws me to professional wrestling simply just isn’t the same thing that draws me to these other combat sports. Perhaps they are destructive, but perhaps destruction is the cruel, sick, and necessary sacrifice for them to have the metaphorical value that they do.

I like fighting because BJ Penn kept getting kicked in the ribs on Saturday, and you could see in his face that his whole life force wanted with everything in it to fall down but he just didn’t. That’s life. And I need to believe that the men and women involved are moved by this value too, that maybe Manny Pacquiao would say he owes the tremendous success and influence that he has to his being unafraid of going all in and every once in a while walking into a right hand.

The ultimate “coming full circle” of all this is that I suppose one could say that in order for me enjoy each craft as it is supposed to be enjoyed for entertainment value, I need pro wrestling to do for me emotionally what fighting does naturally and for fighting to somehow seem as if it is not based in reality.

So wrestling or the fights this weekend? Depends what you’re looking for.

Professional Wrestling is Cool 2

For those of you who may have missed it, pro wrestler Shawn Daivari was recently in the news for having subdued an intoxicated train passenger who was walking the aisles, threatening to kill innocent people. For all Shawn Daivari knew, this man could have been an international terrorist.

Shawn Daivari’s character in wrestling, by the way, is a sharply-dressed Middle-Eastern man who beats on retarded people until stopped and thrown from the ring by Hulk Hogan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGJobX0ZNJk

God Bless America, and God Bless Professional Wrestling.

 

 

Red Sox Take Big Step Foward With Farrell

After the end of the 2011 Baseball season, and the entirety of this 2012 season, the Red Sox franchise has become a joke. Going from a team of contenders and many believed pennant front runners (in 2011), to a team filled with assholes and shitheads. It’s been quite  simply, hard to watch. There’s no other way of putting it. Starting in August, they set in motion a plan to completely rebuild the franchise by parting ways with Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett (Nick Punto was also part of this deal but nobody gives a shit about him). This freed the team of 250+ million dollars in owed contracts through 2017 and gives the team the freedom it needs to completely re-vamp the franchise.

That was their first big step in the right direction. Even though it was the right move, it didn’t make the last month of the season any easier to watch as the Sox limped through the finish line well under .500, with their worst record since 1965. It was tough for me to decide if it was funny that the Red Sox finished with ’69′ in the win column or not. As much as that is funny, finishing 26 games back from first place in the division doesn’t quite make it worth it.

The second big step they did was relieving Bobby V from his managerial duties of the team. It’s too bad they couldn’t have relieved him of his life too.

The latest and third big step in the right direction was trading for Toronto manager John Farrell. A familiar face to Fenway, Farrell was the pitching coach from 2007 to 2010. He helped aid them to a pennant in 2007. A familiar face who was a part of the franchise for several successful seasons is just what the franchise needs to keep moving in the right direction. Farrell was well liked in the city and well regarded by the players which is not something anyone could ever say about Bobby Valentine.

After the Red Sox organization fended off the angry mobs at the end of the disastrous 2011 season by tossing Terry Francona overboard, the Sox targeted John Farrell. Farrell’s career in Toronto was still young and they were not willing to part ways so the Red Sox had to go in another direction. Bobby V inherited a bad situation in Boston, but he doesn’t have the thick skin that you need to be in Boston so this season didn’t really boast well for either him, or the organization. After the Blue Rays also underperformed this season, they didn’t mind parting ways with him and the Red Sox got exactly what they needed.

A familiar face who’s comfortable with the organization, who’s not a total bitch, is the first real piece we needed to get started in our off-season pursuits. While the Red Sox probably won’t be a contending team this upcoming season, they can hopefully play some .500 baseball, and build for a future. It will be interesting to see where they go next this off-season in their pursuits, but Red Sox fans can finally start to look to the future, even if that means we have to overlook our short-term memory in which the Red Sox finished with a sexual position in the win column, a dismal 26 games outside the division lead.

“Bad Newz Kennels” is Back in Business

Michael Vick, the subject of more than a few animal cruelty puns, has now admitted that he owns a dog. That’s right. Mike Vick, the guy who was indicted in a federal investigation that threw him behind bars, and removed him from the NFL for several seasons for being involved heavily in a dog fighting ring labeled “Bad Newz Kennels.” “Bad Newz Kennels” also served as the name of my fantasy football team for one season because it is a hilarious name and I couldn’t pass up on that opportunity.

It’s just dumbfounding that a man who’s trying to rehabilitate his image after being a monster in the eyes of many, could think that it was okay for him to own a pet, let alone a dog. He should just bite the bullet and get a cat. Nobody gives a shit about cats. Nobody.

Andy Reid make me tro footbal. I fumble footbal. Andy Reid, mustache. I like dog.

 

Learning the Kontinental Hockey League, Together (Part I)

As I mentioned in my last piece, I don’t really care about the NHL anymore. I’m not going to follow their petty off-ice squabbling or be glued to a newsfeed desperately waiting for hockey to come back like I don’t have better things to do. Vince McMahon and WWE aren’t locked out, and I don’t give a shit. That being said, when I have caught tidbits of lockout “news,” be it from fellow hockey fans or just on the internet or TV, I’m noticing these absurd timetables like, “The first two weeks of the season have been canceled” or “first games now scheduled for late October.” Mother fucker, the whole season’s been canceled. They’re not coming back. That’s the bad news for hockey fans.

The good news is that it’s not like hockey has been canceled. I was very excited to learn yesterday, in fact, that ESPN is going to run Kontinental Hockey League games on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (online).They already have action slated for the whole month of October, which suggests they’re going to cover the Russian-based leagued until the NHL comes back, which suggests they’re going to cover the Russian-based league for the entire season. Here’s the schedule from the ESPN website:

 

Tues., Oct. 9: Lev vs. Dynamo Moscow (Ovechkin), 1 p.m. ET
Sun., Oct. 14: Dynamo Moscow (Ovechkin) vs. Amur, 9 a.m. ET
Tues., Oct. 16: Dynamo Moscow (Ovechkin) vs. Sibir, 11:30 a.m. ET
Thurs., Oct. 18: SKA (Kovalchuk) vs. Sibir, 11:45 a.m. ET
Mon., Oct. 22: Dinamo Riga vs. Metallurg (Malkin & Gonchar), 12:30 p.m. ET
Mon., Oct. 29: Dynamo Moscow (Ovechkin) vs. Dinamo Riga HD, 11:30 a.m. ET

 

Anybody that knows me knows I’ve always been a huge supporter of the KHL, or at least the idea of it. What they may not know is what exactly the KHL is. I’ll attempt to explain in a few different ways, incorporating therein why I’m a fan even if it’s not an easy thing to follow (and why it’s not an easy thing to follow). There will be professional wrestling references.

The Kontinental Hockey League is the Russian Super-League, widely recognized as the second best hockey league in the world. “Second best” may also not be entirely fair because stylistically it’s very different from the National Hockey League. It’s played on a bigger rink and based more around skilled play than brute physicality. Many North American fans may not like that and could even draw comparisons between the KHL and international soccer. I’ve always thought the Russian style of play was beautiful. The loaded Russian tycoon owners pour money into the league and being that it’s somewhat in its infancy and not going on in America, crazy shit is reported to happen pretty much all the time. None of the international players ever really feel safe, all the executives carry around machine guns, and I think there’s a lot of cocaine somehow involved. I kind of like that, though. I think things often work out best when there’s at least a little of a “Wild West” feel to them.

I often think of the KHL as like a World Championship Wrestling in the early 1990’s. If they could just land a Hogan and a Bischoff (because they’ve already got Ted Turner money….does anyone know what I’m talking about?)….Say, for example, if a few years ago when Crosby and Ovechkin were being promoted as stars almost equally in America, Ovechkin got disgruntled and said, “Fuck it, I’m going to Russia.” Couple a highly publicized move like that with the right television maneuvering, etc. and maybe hockey’s got a competition for greatest league in the world.

A couple points on that very thought: 1. Now they are on ESPN. 2. They have scheduled their first games in America for this January at the new Barclays Arena in Brooklyn. 3. Ilya Bryzgalov, a hero, actually just said this week that he thinks more European players might start just permanently playing in the KHL (because, hey, at least they play).

Am I saying it will happen? I don’t know. Am I pulling for them? Yes. And in the past they’ve thrown around some pretty wild ideas, like a sixty-plus team world mega-league featuring hockey clubs from the U.S. to Beijing.

Now, as for following the KHL: I stress again that I’m a supporter and a fan, not an expert. I don’t want to give the impression that I watch the league’s games regularly and know every detail. I want to learn, but it’s tough. I think the hardest parts for Americans wanting to follow are the team names, the player names, the language barrier in general, and, obviously, the coverage. I am going to make a better attempt at it this year, though, and my idea for this (hopefully recurring) column was to write as I go so that we can all learn as I go.

First thing’s first: The teams. Like I alluded to, even if a hockey fan out there made an attempt to take a closer look at this league, and went to the website or whatever, club names like HC Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod and HC Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg don’t exactly muster up a strong sense of identification to the average North American. So here, I’m going to give a brief introduction of the twenty six teams in the KHL using the pictures of their logos and in many cases renaming the clubs for the convenience of Americans, starting today with their Western Conference which has two divisions. In some cases I’ve translated the official team nickname into English and in others I’ve just made one up.

Western Conference

Bobrov Division

Slovakia Eagles (HC Slovan Bratislava)

 

 

 

 

 

Players You Might Know/Notes: Former Boston Bruins Hero, Miroslav Satan.

 

Chekhov (Russia) Pearl Necklaces (Vityaz Chekhov)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Players You Might Know/Notes: None.

 

Ukraine Mountains (HC Donbass)

 

 

 

 

 

Players You Might Know/Notes: Ruslan Fedotenko, Alexei Ponikarovsky. Looks like they’re the worst team in the conference.

 

Moscow Dynamo (HC Dynamo Moscow)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Players You Might Know/Notes: Alexander Ovechkin. As you will come to see, “Dynamo” or “Dinamo” is the Russian sports team name equivalent of, say, “Giants” in the U.S. Anybody with more information on this is encouraged to come forward.

 

Prague Kings (HC Lev Praha)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Players You Might Know/Notes: Erik Christensen, Marcel Hossa.

 

Latvia Dinamo (Dinamo Riga)

 

 

 

 

Players You Might Know/Notes: Rob Schremp. The KHL teams and their players do correlate more by region than in most leagues. This team, for instance, is made up almost entirely of Latvians, not a coincidence in a sport as diverse as hockey.

 

Saint Petersburg Soldiers (SKA Saint Petersburg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Players You Might Know/Notes: Maxim Afinogenov and probably my favorite athlete, Ilya Kovalchuk. He’s the best pure goal scorer alive and worth watching wherever it is he plays.

 

The post is getting  lengthy so I’ll feature teams from the second division in the Western Conference and a little more about what’s going on in the league in part two, before moving on to the Eastern Conference. It’s early in the season and there’s enough information here to get excited for a divisional match-up between Ovechkin’s Moscow Dynamo (10-3) and the Prague Kings (8-5) which will be on ESPN2 tomorrow at 1pm. The big story line is that Alexander Ovechkin hates Czechs.

Just kidding. But it will be cool because hockey’s back.

Until next time. KHL forever.

Good News! Bobby V Fired, Aaron Hernandez Returns to Practice

Bobby V AXED

“I really liked Bobby Valentine.” -No One

Bobby V’s stint as the manager of the Boston Red Sox is finally over. He never gained the respect of the players, the coaching staff, or the fans. When the season began we wanted to have hope that the Red Sox were a contending team and on paper it appeared so. I personally don’t think that they would’ve made the playoffs no matter who the manager was because there were too many shitheads playing for them to make them a legitimate pennant worthy team. Francona was probably the only person who could’ve coached this team and given them a legitimate shot at anything worthwhile. While he wasn’t a staunch disciplinarian, he knew that team better than anyone else and could’ve maybe turned them around. That was a big “maybe” though as I don’t think Josh Beckett and the likes gave a shit to begin with.

Regardless of how shitty the attitudes of the players were, Bobby V turned his own team against him from day one. It seemed like nobody gave him even a pot to piss in but really a lot of that was his own fault. When you make statements about players who are well loved by an organization and it’s fans, i.e. Youk, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. I think him calling out Youk, questioning his dedication and work ethic was the really where it started getting bad. He lost the respect of his entire team with one idiotic statement that he tried to take back but the damage was done, it had already been said. Big Papi tried to get the rest of the team to back their manager because the only way they could win was if they were a conducive unit. Unfortunately the team was already divided to those that cared, and those that couldn’t give a fuck.

It got so bad that after Johnny Pesky passed away in August, only 4 players attended his funeral despite the fact that they paid for two buses to transport players who wanted to go. We’re talking about Johnny Pesky. You know that player who has a foul pole named after him in Fenway. Yeah, that Johnny Pesky. Whether you wore a Red Sox jersey for a decade or 10 minutes, you aren’t a Red Sock if you don’t respect one of the most storied players in franchise history who is loved by the city of Boston. I think this was more of a statement from the players that they were unhappy with Valentine, but no shit! Nobody was happy with Valentine so not going to the funeral just makes you look like an unprofessional dickwad.

Now that Bobby V is fired, and the most miserable season ever is finally over, the Red Sox organization, and fans finally have a future to look forward to. Late in the season the Sox pulled off a blockbuster trade that “trimmed some of the fat” by getting rid of Beckett, Gonzalez, Crawford and Punto. In doing so the Red Sox relieved themselves of over 250 dollars worth in remaining contracts with those players. Now that our debt and overhead is much lower, we have the chance to rebuild from the ground up. We likely wont be a contending team for the next few seasons, but it’s better than spending a ton of money each year to watch your team go up in flames every season.

While the future remains unknown we at least have some potential to watch a team develop from the ground up which is exciting in it’s own right. I guess that’s the only thing Red Sox fans can really be happy about after this dreadful season came to a close. We got rid of Beckett who’s personality was a cancer eating away at the team. Gonzalez didn’t like playing in Boston, struggled over the last season, and couldn’t take the criticism he got. He noted after he left that he didn’t like it there, well guess what Gonzo, you were a big bust so no one likes you in Boston either. Crawford, I just hate looking at you and always thought you looked like poorly educated thug. You were overpaid from the start, and I’m glad I don’t have to give a shit about you anymore. So now that those clowns are gone we can try to attract different talent, and build from our farm systems like we did early under Theo Epstein. Now hopefully we’re smart enough to cut our ties with Dice K forever, and someone murders Lackey publicly because if I never see them in a Red Sox jersey ever again, it will be too damn soon.

As for you Bobby V, good luck finding a job doing anything. I don’t even think ESPN will want to re-hire you as an analyst after your disastrous season. I highly doubt anyone will take you back as a manager in the MLB. Maybe you should take your talents back to Japan, where they care more about Godzilla, then they do about baseball.

Aaron Hernandez Returns to Practice

Bobby Valentine getting put into the meat grinder (a girl can dream) wasn’t the only good news that fans of New England sports got today. Aaron Hernandez, offensive powerhouse for the Patriots returned to practice today for the first time since he went down in week 2 with a high ankle sprain. Now he didn’t practice at full speed but was seen running routes which is a sign that he may be back a lot sooner than we originally anticipated. He was at first scheduled to miss around 6 weeks, now that he’s practicing before week 5, he is about 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. It remains to be seen if he will be in pads for Sunday, and how much of a factor he’d be against the Broncos even if he was, but the fact remains that he’s close to being back.

I’d be more than fine if they were overly cautious with his injury and kept him out for another two weeks so that he could get to full health. His presence on the offense is one crucial to our success, and we need him to be fully healthy so I’d like to see them not rush anything. A Gronk and Hernandez tight end duo in the red zone is nearly unstoppable and if we have to wait a few more weeks for it to happen I’d be more than happy. Still, Pats fans should be very optimistic for his fast progress as he nears his return.

That’s about it for news. I have thought about writing an analysis of the last game vs. the Bills but I saw this photo of Brandon Lloyd catching his first Patriot touchdown and I’ve barely been able to function since.

Just Brandon Lloyd smiling and looking into the camera in the middle of a diving touchdown catch.

I don’t know why they haven’t only talked about this photo on ESPN since it happened on Sunday. They should just run their regular broadcasts but just leave this photo up on the screen continually while they talk about other sports. It’s just amazing.