Category Archives: Not Sports

On Grace, Finality, and Tragedy


Its taken me all week to feel up to writing this one, and I know it won’t make sense or do these people justice. 

The past week in sports has been one with a lot of things to celebrate, and a lot of things to bemoan.

Tennessee fans learned that a Duck CAN pull a truck as they beat Florida for the first time since the first W administration. Georgia fans learned that the Kirby Smart era is a major work in progress. NBA teams opened camp with (insane unless you’re Golden State or Cleveland) optimism, and Notre Dame lost to Duke. In football.

Everything mentioned above is a petty reminder of why sports really matter: they are a great diversion from the realities of life. Age, the passing of time, unrest, and outright tragedy are all realities of life, and sports provided great lessons in each this past week.

On Grace

If you don’t like Les Miles, you either hate LSU way too much or are blinded by your team’s colors. Miles is a man who navigated Katrina-devastated LSU through abject tragedy before coaching his first game in 2005, who told us to have a nice day after some careless reporting on the day of the SEC Championship Game, who constantly ate grass, and played it fast and loose with clock management to a terrifying extent for his 11 1/2 years in Baton Rouge.

Miles got fired on Sunday after an 18-13 loss at Auburn, when his Mad Hatter tendencies finally backfired and LSU’s last-second miracle touchdown was overturned.
http://www.espn.com/core/video/iframe?id=17629632&endcard=false

Miles, escape artist that he is, was not fired because of that one result. He was fired because, as AD Joe Alleva put it (paraphrasing), “we didn’t want to start winning and go through this cycle again.” If you’ll recall, Miles was all but fired before triumphing in his ‘last’ game against Texas A&M last year. Boosters and administration still wanted him gone, and they got rid of him because they KNEW he’d survive again if they didn’t take swift action.

I’ve luckily never been fired from a job, outside of one where the North Carolina ABC threatened to shut down a pub at which I was pouring drinks at 16 years old. Les Miles was fired from a job he truly LOVED, and was able to handle it with grace I can’t imagine having.

From the Dan Patrick Show on Monday:

How were you told you were fired?

Face to face. Joe Alleva said we’re going to have to make a change. And I’m for the tigers. Anything they see that makes the Tigers better, I’m for it. I accepted the outcome and will support that decision and these Tigers going forward

Did you try to fight it?

It was beyond fighting. The enjoyment of being here, the enjoyment of community, the experiences that my family’s had, it’s too important to fight over. It’s history. It’s what we were are. If they see a change makes the tiger better, I’m for them.

If you beat Auburn, would you still be employed?

I want you to know something. How that game ends, with the Tigers fighting for their breath, maybe there’s a way the coach could’ve got them a second more. I would argue that I made those moves. One second. It’s certainly a decision that was made more appropriately over more than a second.

Was you being fired an undercurrent there or lingering?

If it was there, I went beyond it. I enjoyed going into my room and enjoying seeing the young men I recruited and I coached. If there was an undercurrent, it did not exist in the that building. What goes on inside the building just didn’t matter.

I’ve never had an opportunity to meet Les Miles. But Les Miles humanized a sport in a conference where robotic, calculated decision-making, soulless enterprises of football excellence, and canned, cold coachspeak are absolutes. He was the opposite of those things, and showed a humility, a reality, and a grace seen far too little in his profession or on this planet.

Whether he coaches again or not, I am more a Les Miles fan than on Saturday– I was already a big one. With the way he handled his exit, I hold that you should be, too.

On Finality

My sports fandom began in 1995, as the Atlanta Braves won their only World Series. At 7 years old, I was conditioned to expect such success from all of my teams, and have been disappointed more times than I can count. Part of the draw of sports is the hope for triumph, but the overwhelming odds that disappointment will be the outcome. Again, the outpouring of human emotion for something that has no direct effect on your life is why we care.

Kevin Garnett started his NBA career in the same year, meaning that I have watched him toil, dominate, get close, toil, get traded, and finally succeed over the exact same lifespan as my fandom. He was the prototype of the modern power forward in the NBA, yet a tragic figure who could never get the supporting cast to get over the hump in the NBA.

Garnett was, by all measures, a freaking psychopath on the court. I think about how much I care about sports, and it feels trivial compared to KG. A 6’11 behemoth of athleticism routinely headbutted basket stanchions, give primal yells in meaningless December games, and wore his emotions on his progressively-broader shoulders– and he did so for 21 years.

Garnett played in the league for 13 years before reaching the top. To this day, there is no greater example of exuberance or joy in reaching the pinnacle, giving one’s blood, sweat and tears for a happy ending.

As KG’s skills regressed, he returned with much fanfare to Minneapolis, and in one year passed the torch to a cast of Timberwolves who may well represent the future of the NBA.

Kevin Garnett: the gift that gave nightly through his antics, for 21 years, and may continue to give through his leadership. Despite unrealistic expectations of more, the above clip shows that 1 out of 21, in sports, is not bad.

On Tragedy

I really didn’t know what to do with Arnold Palmer’s passing in this piece. To live a full life of 85 years, be by FAR the most-well liked of many legendary contemporaries, and have a delicious drink named after oneself…anyone can hope to live to that, and in passing, be a cause for celebration, not grief. I know no less than 25 people who met The King, and no less than 15 who posted pictures with him on Facebook on Sunday night. I struggle to think of a single negative thing I’ve ever read about the man– he was gentle, courteous, patient, and universally beloved.

That fits more into ‘grace’ or ‘finality’ than it does tragedy, but for the world to lose such a revered soul is always a tragedy.

The other sports death on Sunday was much, much harder to stomach.

Due to the waning popularity of baseball in my age demographic, I don’t know how many of my contemporaries got a chance to marvel at Jose Fernandez, or even knew who he was. Fernandez was a Cuban pitcher, 24 years old, and a Miami Marlin. From a team standpoint, a Cuban superstar in the heart of Miami was a marketing coup for a team always finding itself on the wrong side of the PR battle. Fernandez was certainly that and more on the field, compiling a 29-2 record with a 1.49 ERA in Marlins Park over his career. His career ERA of 2.56 was also remarkable given his age– better than Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Pedro Martinez, and countless other legends.

For his exploits on the mound, Fernandez was more an embodiment of what contemporary Bryce Harper so callously claims to do– “make baseball fun again”. Jose Fernandez epitomized that with his actions on a daily basis: jose

His story? Oh, one where he tried to defect from Cuba FOUR times before making it to the U.S., saving his mother from drowning on the successful journey. One where his grandmother, the most influential person in his life, sat on a tin roof in Cuba to listen to his starts. One where his girlfriend just last week announced she was pregnant with his child.

SBNation’s Grant Brisbee said it best about Jose: he was pure joy. Nobody knew to fully appreciate him until it was far too late, until baseball and sports reminded us why we can channel human emotion through the exploits of millionaires playing a child’s sport:

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The magic of sports: withdrawn from our personal lives, from the tribulations of the world, but still something that allows us to feel. We’ll see an all-too-soon 30 For 30 on Jose Fernandez, and it’ll be excellent. Billy Corben will be able to funnel all of the emotion of the past 72 hours and put it in a digestible format….and it won’t do the human Jose Fernandez was justice. One more snippet into that:

But he also had a big heart, McGehee said.

“The toughest part for me has been having to tell my son,” McGehee said, choking back tears.

McGehee’s son Mack has cerebral palsy and formed a close bond with Fernandez.

“I think everybody knows about my son and some of the struggles that he deals with,” McGehee said. “A lot of people don’t really know how to treat him. But for some reason, Jose had a heart for him.

“I’d get to the field and it wasn’t like, ‘Hey Jose, do you mind keeping an eye on him while I hit?’ It was, Jose coming to grab him and they were together from the time I got to the field to the time my wife came to pick him up. I think that really says a lot about what was truly in his heart and what kind of a guy he was.”

 


Sport, in the context of life, really should be less of a priority than it is for me, or anyone digging this deep enough into the internet on this Wednesday morning for a diversion– but that’s what it is, a diversion that humanizes us by allowing us to feel raw human emotion without having to experience it directly.

As Jim Valvano once said, “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s one heck of a day.” If you remembered the goofy, appalling, and downright hilarious exploits of Les Miles upon his firing, you laughed. If you reflected on KG’s or Arnie’s legacy, you had a chance to think. And if you reflected on the passing of Jose Fernandez, you are either a robot or you cried, at least a little bit.

I guess that’s why sports are important. We get to live and die by the actions of complete strangers in the name of what’s on the front of the jerseys. We fall in love with brands, individuals, and in some cases shape the human experience based on triumphs and failures. And we are provided an escape to express emotions– good or bad, jovial or furious– in a safe haven that, if done responsibly, allows us to grow emotionally without any real consequences to life.

If only life could be so inconsequential.

Rest in peace, Jose and Arnold.

 

NFL Football: Changes + Week 3 Picks


I like to think I’m the type of person who welcomes a degree of change in his life. I went about as far from home as possible for college, I changed majors three times at Columbia, I’ve changed careers twice before 30, and I moved to Philadelphia with my girlfriend two years ago after being together only 10 months. This week’s blog, I find myself continuing that pattern of embracing one change, while taking a deeply principled stance against another. Welcome to the inaugural edition of the NFL picks on Sunday morning instead of Friday afternoon. Both of you who read this weekly (hey mom and dad!), I apologize for the disruption, but it’s a needed move to lighten my work load during the work week and so that the #freemoney doesn’t get lost in the wave of game day posts Friday and Saturday.

This would be me embracing change.What follows is an example of me staunchly resisting change.

Moving the extra point back this season is the picture of needless tampering and I’m tired of it. I’ve heard all the reasoning and all of it is 1000% unadulterated crap. Things you may have heard: “It needed changing.” “The game is more exciting now.” “The kicks were too easy.”

It’s important you recognize that these are lies. They changed this for the sake for change, and there is NO legitimate reason. Look at those specious reasons. LOOK AT THEM. What’s the old axiom? If it ain’t broke, make sure you tinker so that casual passerby thinks that you fixed something.

As always, home teams in bold.

Giants (-4) over Washington Professional Football Team

Follow me on twitter for your DYC Thursday Night Pick every week.

FUN WITH STATS: Kirk Cousins has thrown as many interceptions as RG3 (23) in 45.5% as many attempts. Yet Griffin is described as washed, while Cousins is said to have potential. I wonder what the real reason for the difference in perception of these two is. Huh.

Falcons (-2) over Cowboys

Julio and company versus the walking wounded in Jerryworld? To coin a phrase, “GETCHA POPCORN READY!”
Julio-Jones

Can’t be 16-0 without being 3-0.

Colts (-3.5) over Titans

The Colts have made their bones as a franchise by feasting on the assorted carcasses of the rest of this putrid division. Now, the Colts have a quarterback with a great propensity for turning the ball over,  a lame-duck coach who hates the GM and a GM that is sick of the coach. And they’re STILL gonna win this garbage collection of teams.

Raiders (+3.5) over Browns

Thumbing your nose at young Jonathan Football Cleveland coaching staff? Well, that’s what you get for putting John Defilippo on the payroll. Prepare to get rolled over by the Derek Carr machine (this is not likely, please don’t gamble on this game).

Bengals (+3) over Ravens

Losing Suggs has hurt this defense a lot more than they’re letting on. Something has to give and it will be the Ravens defense, over and over and over again.

Patriots (-14) over Jaguars

Welcome to the largest line of the 2015 season. *whispers* And it’s not high enough.

Panthers (-10) over Saints

Damn impressed with how Cam and company have acquitted themselves with the football equivalent of the French Army as their receiving corps. No Brees equals HUGE problems for a Saints team looking for win number one.

FUN WITH STATS PART DEUX: This is the first time both McCown boys have started on an NFL Sunday since 2007. This stat provided by momma McCown.

Jets (-2.5) over Eagles

Hahahahahahahahaha. SHIT WAS ALL GOOD JUST A YEAR AGO CHIP.

Hashtag the way we were.

Texans (-7) over Buccaneers

DON’T CARE.

Chargers (+1) over Vikings

Wait, so maybe sitting a year for beating the hell out of your kid ISN’T conducive to still being a top tier back? GO ON… Also, I’m not sure how great AD is running out of the gun, as he’s spent his ENTIRE life running behind a fullback, and this whole experiment might be a bad idea.

Rams (+2) over Steelers

Gurley’s potential first NFL action and a fired up Rams defense means I’m taking the home team. Bell’s return and Antonio Brown being Antonio Brown means I’m probably wrong.

Cardinals (-6.5) over 49ers

I cannot believe I’m buying into the Carson Palmer nonsense. They should just bench him now, and wrap him in bubble wrap until the playoffs. Basically, his knee is a pinata, and someone is getting that sweet, sweet knee candy sooner or later.

Bills (+3) over Dolphins

Rex may not have the offense he wants quite yet, but I bet that his team keeps it close in Miami this week.

Seahawks (-15) over Bears

NEW HIGHEST LINE! Wait, wait, wait, wait. So not only is it Seattle’s home opener, but they’re hosting the Bears. Not only are they hosting the Bears, but Jimmy Clausen is starting. Not only is Jimmy Clausen starting, but Kam Chancellor is back to feast on some horrific quarterbacking.

seahawks animated GIF

Broncos (-3) over Lions

Lego neck and noodle arm notwithstading, I’m not ready to keep picking against Peyton at night. Not yet.

Packers (EVEN) over Chiefs

I think Bovada has this even due to the Eddie Lacy uncertainty. Never one to look #freemoney in the mouth, I’ll take the home team.

I survived Baton Rouge and New Orleans  last week. I’ll survive a horrific week 2 of picks.

Last Week: 4-12-0

This Week: 1-0

Season: 12-19-1

Love this? Hate it? Think I’m an idiot? Don’t just curse at me under your breath, head to theDude You Podcast iTunes page, and leave a 5-star review to make sure I know it, and have your voice heard on the air.

Dude You Podcast: Return of the Mack(s)


That’s right, the podcast is back and better than ever.

Which is to say, still not great.

But, we are 100% back with a new and improved 100% reliable recording schedule, just in time for SEC Media Days, and picking through the ruins of DeAndre Jordan to the Mavericks.

Listen on Spreaker.

Listen on iTunes.

Be sure to subscribe, and leave five-star reviews to hear your words on air.

Email us at tips@dudeyoucrazy.net.

Love this? Hate it? Think I’m an idiot? Don’t just curse at me under your breath, head to theDude You Podcast iTunes page, and leave a 5-star review to make sure I know it, and have your voice heard on the air. Follow me at @dpalm66.

SECual Healing: Saban Whining, Over/Unders, LSU QB Issues


According to my TimeHop, this is about the time where, in the past couple of years, Georgia has started to make the news in the offseason. This has not been a good thing as it has led to heavy personnel loss, and it is refreshing to *knocks on wood* not have surprise attrition in 2015. #In SchottenheimerWeTrust, I guess.

Anyhow, the big news of the week is Nick Saban caught a fish bigger than him whined about the Big Ten and their satellite camps, intruding on the SEC’s fertile recruiting ground. The goal of the league’s coaches is to have them banned by 2016, and Mike Slive/Greg Sankey are on record as saying that the SEC will allow them if other conferences continue to do so. The golf potential for Steve Spurrier in California, a return of Bret Bieliema to Wisconsin, and the prospect of Les Miles yukking it up somewhere in the Northeast all make this an exciting prospect for me.

On the heels of the Everett Golson rule, CAN WE PLEASE GET OUR LEAGUE BACK ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD WITH THE REST OF THE COUNTRY?!?

Meanwhile, ESPN in an attention-grabbing headline says the SEC West hasn’t lost its luster. (Or bluster.) No s**t.

Finally, you know college football is at least on the horizon when you start getting over/unders. 5 Dimes, God bless ’em, was first to the party. Following is the divisions ranked by their projected line.

EAST
Georgia 9
Florida 7.5
Mizzou 7.5
Tennessee 7.5
South Carolina 7
Kentucky 6
Vanderbilt 3 (lol it’s funny but it’s not)

WEST
Alabama 9.5
Auburn 8.5
Arkansas 8.5
Ole Miss 8.5
LSU 8
Texas A&M 7.5
Mississippi State 7

Let’s just say there are some juicy potential bets in there.

From that: would a 5th place division finish put Les Miles on the hot seat? I think I agree with SBN’s Ian Boyd when he says it would definitely get much warmer.

For You Falcons Fans- More (Recruiting) Proof That Bobby Petrino Is The Worst


I have long been diametrically opposed to posting on recruiting on this site, because following the whims of 16-18 year old boys still in high school is creepy. However, with Georgia’s recent loss of its class’ only running back, and the overlap between Georgia fans and Falcons fans (not to mention the fun that we have with Bobby Petrino on the DudeYouPodcast, this has some relevance.

South Carolina’s Mr. Football, running back Matthew Colburn, committed to Louisville back in June. With Signing Day just 36 hours away, Petrino and the Cardinals pulled Colburn’s scholarship- even though Colburn refused to take calls or visits to any other schools. The scatback (apparently 5’7 172 with a 4.3 40) is now scrambling to find a place to play his college ball.

http://recruiting.scout.com/story/1509319-rb-matt-colburn-looking-for-new-destination

This is a disgusting and cowardly act that has become more and more prevalent in the game of recruiting, albeit one that comes as no surprise from Petrino. This is the guy who told UL he wasn’t interviewing with Auburn as he was interviewing with Auburn, the guy who left the Falcons in the middle of the night, and the guy who took the world’s greatest motorcycle ride at Arkansas.

He also has a way of getting high-profile transfers from other schools, as Georgia fans know all too well. Just yesterday, it was announced that former Big XII defensive player of the year Devonte Fields would be suiting up for the Cardinals.

As Signing Day approaches, you won’t hear anything more from me until the smoke clears. In the meantime, let’s check one more in the box of #DeathtotheNCAA and a vote for an early signing period in football– something that every other collegiate sport already possesses.

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