The “unkillable” Detroit Red Wings make the playoffs again

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When a late goal sent their game into overtime and then a shootout against the Penguins in Pittsburgh last night, the Red Wings earned a point in the standings and secured a playoff spot for the twenty-third consecutive year, keeping alive the longest postseason streak in professional sports. As Deadspin put it this morning,

“the Red Wings sneaking into the playoffs” sounds like an underachievement. But this is a team that has absolutely no business being where it is, and it’s a triumph as big as anything Detroit’s achieved in years.

More on the Red Wings soon.

Don’t drag me into this Richard Sherman thing

Knowing roughly how the internet works, I had a pretty good idea that Richard Sherman’s postgame interview with Erin Andrews would elicit a substantial amount of “discussion” as I watched it on Sunday night. I also had a reasonable suspicion that that discussion would become a discussion about the discussion. That’s because, as I wrote here the next morning, Sherman’s interview was not all that remarkable when compared with other works in the same genre.

In the immediate aftermath of his comments, a lot of people said racist things about him, including labeling him a “thug.” The new online sports media critics (shorthand: Deadspin), collectively about which I’ve attempted to write before, preemptively steeled themselves against charges of racism by 1) labeling Sherman’s critics racists and 2) wholly endorsing Sherman’s comments.

It’s important to take the nation’s temperature on race issues periodically, but the race element of this discussion isn’t particularly interesting or nuanced, even though it does come with an Ivy-League-esque twist. However bluntly they did so, Deadspin et al. are right to stand up against racist tendencies in our discourse. Does that mean they need to go all-in with Sherman, though? No.

Continue reading

Mike Shanahan channels Brady Hoke, Falcons hang on to win 27-26

redskins-falcons 2013As reported, I was on hand to watch the Falcons host the Redskins (Monuments?) yesterday afternoon, and it was everything you’d hope a late-season pairing of three-win teams would be. Atlanta’s offense was boring but effective in the first half, relying primarily on Steven Jackson, back in action after an early season injury, and Tony Gonzales, who in the second half became just the fifth NFL player ever to tally 15,000 receiving yards. On the other side of the ball, Kirk Cousins’ performance was a mixed bag. Against Atlanta’s soft defense, Cousins posted better passing numbers than Robert Griffin III– spotted wearing warmups on the sideline– has this season, but a couple of interceptions proved costly. Washington nevertheless was in a position to take the game to overtime, or win it outright, thanks to a late touchdown that ran the score to 27-26. Opting to go for the regulation kill on the road, Mike Shanahan made like Brady Hoke and called for the two-point conversion, which failed. Atlanta recovered the sloppy onside kick to seal the one-point win.

Having read about far more NFL games than I’ve attended, the game experience was a bit odd. Even taking into account Atlanta fans’ reputation for lacking a feverish commitment to their teams, the vibe was beyond mellow in the Georgia Dome on Sunday. The noise level was somewhere between a Braves game and the Masters. One fan in our section who caught a free t-shirt used it as a pillow to rest. Another took a nap without similar support. And these weren’t alcohol-induced rests– the only even semi-drunk person we saw was a mom indulging in too much smuggled adult fruit punch– it really was that quiet. Our entire row, and most of our section, including the man pictured above who stood with his back to the field and wouldn’t get out of my picture even though I didn’t ask him to, left before the end of the third quarter, when the Falcons led by only four.

We didn’t find any of this upsetting, and our people-watching experience was further enhanced by the skilled camera operators feeding the nice video boards with fun fan shots. (The ushers probably could stand to lighten up a bit, though. 3-9 vs. 3-9 in December deserves a lighter touch from the regulatory folks.)

falcons-redskins 2 Continue reading

The Baseball Hall of Fame, Deadspin, the Third Rail, and the Fourth Wall

I started writing about the Baseball Hall of Fame even before we started ALDLAND (see also here and here), and the issues and conversations surrounding Cooperstown and the process by which players are chosen to be enshrined there often lack basic elements of reason and logic.

Briefly, membership in the Hall is regulated by a group of writers who are affiliated with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who enforce unwritten rules and take self-aggrandizing positions in a way that makes Brian McCann look progressive and relaxed.

Today, Deadspin announced that it has broken the mold: an eligible voter agreed to sell Deadspin his or her vote. The site now is in the process of determining how it, and its readers, will cast that ballot, which was released today. In the meantime, the site is trying to buy more votes.

For someone else’s thoughts on what this means, click here.

I don’t know that the predominant basis of the HOF selection process should be a popular vote. After all, we see that on a small scale every year in the All-Star Game balloting, which leads to ridiculous and deeply uninformed outcomes. I do think it’s okay to mix things up a little bit, though.

I might write more about the names on this year’s ballot at a later date– it’s sort of interesting to see the number of hilarious former Tigers, including Todd Jones, Sean Casey, and Kenny Rogers, alongside the great Alan Trammell, on the list– but I’m not really qualified to do that.

At the very least, we now can say that Cooperstown is Y2K compatible. Whether that will or should change anything about the place, and how this real-life experiment will unfold, are other questions.

From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

News broke Monday morning that the Atlanta Braves were planning to leave their downtown location at Turner Field and relocate to a new, as-yet-unbuilt stadium in Cobb County, north of Atlanta, near Marietta, Georgia. This is a bad idea.

First, to clear out my personal interest, I do not like this move because it means I will attend fewer games. I live and work in town. It is very easy for me to attend games, because I can take public transportation (MARTA) from my office or home and be at the park in roughly thirty minutes. As a result, I was able to attend about eight games this season (as mostly documented here), something that would not be feasible following the proposed move. For a few of the games, I had planned to attend long in advance and coordinated large blocks of tickets with friends. For probably most of them, though, plans came together at the last minute, and I was able to shoot off from work and make it there in time for the first inning. I was shocked, then happy, when I first realized how easy it was going to be for me to attend major league baseball games in my new city, It would be a great personal disappointment if I no longer had that accessible opportunity to attend games.

Even bracketing my subjective, selfish perspective, the proposed move is an objectively bad idea. Continue reading

A Life on a Loop (via NYT)

At 2:44 p.m. on a recent Sunday, Tim Burke took a moment from monitoring numerous N.F.L. games for the sports Web site Deadspin to post something that had nothing to do with football: a smidgen of a clip from an English rugby match he also happened to be following.

He stitched together still-frame images captured from the broadcast into a short, continuous loop that showed a player built like a cement mixer strong-arming an opponent to the ground by the unfortunate man’s throat. The GIF, or Graphics Interchange Format, showed a vivid moment, the kind that has become standard currency for online sports journalism. That Burke had time to produce it at all reflects the vacuum-cleaner-like way he approaches his job.

The sports editor at the Web site Buzzfeed, Ben Mathis-Lilley, could only observe in awe.

“It’s hard enough to watch one or two games at once and to actually get the stuff people think is great,” he said. “It’s hard enough to monitor all the American sports. But Tim is so good at coming up with stuff from all around the world, and from sports like minor league hockey, that no one else is watching.”

Burke, 35, is known among sports journalists for his ability to capture the moment — whether as a still, a video clip or in his favored format, a GIF — better, faster, more frequently and from more sports events than just about anyone. How he does it is a matter of wonder. … Read More

(via NYT)

ProFootballTalk blantantly ignoring City of Philadelphia

pftI know the PFT folks are a bunch of newsmakers and newsbreakers, but you’re telling me that when three rows of fans were ejected from an Eagles game for brawling it was a sober affair?

I’m hoping to attend my first NFL game in about twenty years this season, and I think I have a good strategy for avoiding a lot of the financial pitfalls. Avoiding the over-the-top fan rowdiness seems to be its own challenge, however.

Bird Law and Baseball: ESPN’s MLB Rules Quiz

ESPN’s resident baseball-knowledge mouthpiece, Jayson Stark, decided that too many professional baseball people were acting like Donovan McNabb and forgetting the rules of the game this season, if they ever knew them to begin with, so he and Rich Marazzi, “esteemed baseball rules expert,” came up with a ten-question quiz  to test folks. They then administered it to “20 of the most astute players in the game,” four coaches, one manager, “six ESPN baseball ‘geniuses,’” and one broadcaster.

Who were these people? The twenty-seven active players, managers, and coaches represent eleven of baseball’s thirty teams, and of those eleven teams, six of which are East Coast teams. That seems like a not unreasonable balance for a small sampling of people.

We don’t often hear people associating baseball players and intelligence, though, so the phrase “20 of the most astute players in the game” caught my eye. Stark pays close attention to the details of the game, so it certainly is possible that he has a good feel for what players might qualify. Maybe it was because I had just read Tommy Craggs’ article on Howie Schwab, but I started to worry that “astute” might mean something like “scrappy.” I took a look at the MLB.com profile pages for each of the “20 of the most astute players in the game,” and while Stark may be right– he goes to great lengths to discuss Sam Fuld’s academic credentials– my hunch wasn’t wrong: of the twenty, nineteen are white. The one exception was Jimmy Rollins, who is black. (According to the first Appendix of the 2013 Race and Gender Report Card for Major League Baseball, 61.2% of players are white, and 8.3% are African-American.)

mlbracialbreakdownAs far as the quiz itself, it turned out to be pretty tough. Marazzi decided that a passing grade was 6/10, and by that measure, just thirteen of the thirty-two takers passed. That’s probably because, as Stark writes, “the rules might be the rules. But that doesn’t mean they have to make much sense.”

The rest is baseball minutiae and hopeless reform rhetoric. If you want to see how the quiz-takers performed, click here. If you want to take the quiz yourself– at last count, over 171,000 people had– click here. And if you really must know, this writer scored a five, which, while not “passing,” ranks me better than or equal to all but two of the professional media “geniuses.” You get what you pay for here at ALDLAND.

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The slowest day in sports blogging?

Things have been a little slow around here lately, but hey, we aren’t the only ones. Deadspin’s pulling an amateur radio move and begging for calls, while Clay Travis has been padding his content at Outkick the Coverage by reposting months-old articles by guest writers.

Fortunately, we have tons of great content sitting in the hopper just waiting for that finishing touch and a push out the door. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, go Wings!