New Age Outlaws

HELLADOWNSHERMANMr. Richard “The Dick” Sherman is what national sports need.

This loss sucks. The same goddamn hero ball play that failed to get us that 6th ring was dialed up again in the NFC Championship game. You’d think using up all our downs on the last play of the Super Bowl would’ve taught us a lesson. But nope. Mr. Sherman gets the honors to teach us again, our second year in a row failing Common Sense 101. Still, hell of a play. Batted the ball to his fellow mate Malcom Smith. Clearly prepared for that. The failed pass to Crabtree pissed me and other fans off. Deja Vu. But what took the hatred for the Seahawks up a notch was Mr. Sherman taking the mic and putting Crabtree on notice.

Some people are calling Sherman “ignorant”. I disagree. Everything he said was coherent, if a little bit too loud for the mic, but nothing I would call “ignorant”. At least no worse than some of the bar-talk we hear every gameday (fuck the Clippers, Dodgers, etc.). Dick’s post-game rant was emotional and, to be honest, an oppurtunity he earned, but it was nothing outside of the “Player A is greater than Player B” variety. Winners get the podium and get to talk trash with their chins up. We’ve been able to talk trash about our 5 rings being greater than Seattle’s 0 rings forever now.  Everyone has their day. Just the name of the game. Now, apparently this guy likes to blog, too. His stuff doesn’t read as crass as his post-game rant, and it might not be Pulitzer Prize winning, but it is coherent literature (read his stuff:http://mmqb.si.com/2014/01/16/richard-sherman-byron-maxwell-seattle-seahawks-nfc-championship/). Plus, the guy went to Stanfurd. He might be a dick, but ignorant is probably inaccurate.

HELLADOWNBOWMAN

Not only that, but some people are wishing injury upon him. Now, I would love to see the guy line up at reciever and see if he likes what Hitner made him for lunch, but I don’t think I’d wish for dudes to be injured. We just saw Bowman tear his ACL in this game (even held on to the ball and made what should’ve been a strip takeaway; hate the refs). When he was carted off, “fans” were seen throwing food at him (who knows what else was done or said). Obviously, some of those people we’re celebrating and delighted to know Bowman was injured. We all feel horrible for Bowman. Of course, to wish or enjoy injury on a player of the opposing team would actually be incredibly ignorant (more so than a slightly-abrasive victory speech). These players have families (mothers, wives, daughters, etc.) that actually lose sleep for their football-playing fathers (in addition to all other athletes, male or female). Eventually, people are going to have to teach themselves restraint and develop a more precise vision of reality. Injuries are not fun. Hospital visits are not fun. I really hope no one has to take their family members to the hospital for something, anything. Let the players play and enjoy the game. That’s it.

To be frank, though, people should actually be happy about Sherman’s post game rant. Trash talk is an old art. Old in that it’s been around since the times when cavemen used to compete for prime cave space or food or cave ladies. Old in that it’s being tossed aside in today’s flavorless, sponsor-controlled media climate. See, wrestling has been around since televisions first came into existence. Everyone knows wrestling now as that thing with half naked dudes throwing each other around, but it’s really the trash talk that has made wrestling interesting enough for people to watch and follow. No one tunes in to watch one bald dude kick and punch another sunglasses-wearing dude. But the verbal jabs between the “bald headed jabroni” and the “dumb sumabitch” makes the fight worth watching. The NFL is a league in which a bunch of millionaires get to play football with each other. Pretty lame on paper. Their games happen to get broadcasted on television, though. There are people who tune in because they appreciate football, but there are people who tune in because there’s an interesting story line to follow (Peyton takes his second team to the Super Bowl!). Whether a home town hero or a rival city dickhead, trash talk helps build programs that more people can follow. I mean who doesn’t want to see Sherman and his “bad guy” L.O.B faction get beat now? It’s only good for business and the NFL should really let it blossom into its own thing.

Problem is the NFL doesn’t want it’s players to talk much at all. A little while ago one player was released because he had made his opinions about gay marriage known (in support of it) and the team didn’t want to risk losing the support of the league and the fans. By the same token, the NFL doesn’t want it’s players to avoid the media, either. Marshawn Lynch gets fined for choosing to decline interviews. By hook or crook, the NFL wants to regulate what is being said by all its players. But Sherman gets on the mic and talks a little trash and everyone gets up in arms about it? If anything, this is one of those moments people should celebrate as an attack on the possible silent future ahead for players. Imagine no longer being able to hear Peyton sell Papa Johns because the NFL doesn’t want players to speak outside of its stadiums. Or imagine being unable to keep up with Crabtree on instagram and knowing how our favorite players live because the NFL doesn’t believe social media paints the sterile image they feel they need in order to maintain their relationships with their sponsors. We should enjoy these brief moments of individuality while we can. I mean, I can’t be too mad at a dude for doing what I would’ve done had we won. I know y’all had status updates ready to talk trash, too.

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Baseless

helladownbonds

The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.

Barry Bonds is, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest baseball player to have ever played the game. The fact of the matter is Mr. Bonds did everything there is to do in the business of baseball as an individual. MVPs, Gold Gloves, stolen bases, World Series championship (in my universe the Giants won that series), and so much more. But the current state of the world (or at least popular media) doesn’t accept Mr. Bonds as the great player he was. Hall of Fame voters have cast their judgement and for the 2nd year in a row Mr. Bonds was not voted in. Personally (and Bonds would probably agree) the Hall isn’t important to me. But the hypocrisy that the MLB has practiced for decades has spilled into the minds of the talking heads that cover the game.

Firstly, the Hall of Fame already houses players who have broken rules. Everyone knows by now that players we’re able to, without punishment, use greenies. By defenition, greenies are a PED. Players in that era who at one time used PEDs were allowed into the Hall and are still in there today, even with the scrutiny against PEDs. No one rags on Babe Ruth, who played in that era. There is suspicion now that he might have used PEDs (no real proof), but everyone is OK with Babe Ruth being in the hall. There is no asterisk next to his 714. Looking at the ballots now, the players under suspicion of having used PEDs in this past era have asterisks around their numbers and are not being allowed into the Hall. Basically, we have two very similar eras (the 20s and the 90s) with two very similarly out-of-this world players (Babe and Bonds) and the suspicions surrounding their play (suspected PED without definitive proof).  Only one of those players has been voted into the Hall: Babe yes; Bonds no.

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Now, maybe Babe gets off because back then there were no rules against using certain PEDs. The culture back then was probably super casual about it. It’s only greenies. Every player’s bag probably had their chew, seeds, and greenies. The essentials. Go out there and play ball. It wasn’t until later that the League decided maybe greenies shouldn’t be allowed in the game. In this way, Babe (and every player in that era) is not guilty of using a banned substance and should be celebrated as a stand-out player in his era (the Greenies-Are-A-OK era). Looking at his career, he is totally deserving of his entrance into the Hall as a legend of his time, in which he played according to the rules.

Mr. Bonds, then, should also get off because there were no rules against using certain PEDs. The culture back then (in the 80s, 90s and early 00s; hell probably now, too) was to carry around your chew, seeds, protein, multivitamin, dbol, tren, clen, B12 shots, and every other kind of supplement and steroid what was available at the time. The essential tools. After all, players have to stay healthy to play well on the field. It wasn’t until later that the League decided  steroids shouldn’t be allowed in the game. In this way, any player of this era should be allowed (if the career warrants it) into the Hall, considering no player would’ve been guilty of using a banned substance, at the time. In this way, Mr. Bonds should be celebrated and allowed into the Hall. Looking at his career, he is totally deserving of getting voted in as a legend of his era, in which he played according to the rules.

Of course, as equivalent as Babe and Bonds may be, the MLB and the voters have made the judgement that Bonds is not deserving and Babe is. The voters claim that Bonds did something against a set of rules that didn’t exist at the time. Now, to convict someone of a crime that wasn’t actually committed is just wrong. Let’s imagine some math class. Every student has just finished their final exam. For the whole semester, students were never told they couldn’t use their calculators in class. The professor has always had view of the entire lecture hall and never called anyone out for bringing out, even during midterms and pop-quizes. It was just the way of life in that class; students would bring out their calculators, do their work and the professor never considered it against the rules. But come after the final exam (after the whole class has long finished their exams and moved onto the next semester), the professor (on a whim) has decided calculators are not ok and has revoked everyone’s grades and failed them, long after the student’s work had been done. So all those students were given Fs instead of As or Bs. Bonds’ body of work was given an A at the time, but is now being given an F, according to the League’s current set of rules. Most would agree that is unfair.

helladownselig

But to humor this issue further, let’s say it’s always been against the rules to use PEDs. In order to convict someone, a Selig would need to take a look at evidence. There are plenty of players with suspicious careers, but only so many of them can actually be proven to be guilty. Take for example a player like Ryan Braun. He was innocent until proven guilty. That is, he claimed he did not break the rules and did not take banned substances. Hell, he tested negative once for a banned substance and was cleared because there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove without a shadow of a doubt that he was guilty. That’s just how the law works in this country. But he got caught again and this time there was too much evidence for Braun to fight against. The League banned Braun from the game for 100 games, justifiably. He did, after all break the rules and it was proven.

The League, though, can’t go around banning every player that has a suspicious career. Imagine students in a class and someone throws a stapler at the teacher. The teacher had his back to the class, so he couldn’t tell for sure who threw the stapler at him. He might have suspicions about who threw the stapler, but he just can’t prove it. So he decides to convict the entire class and holds them for detention. Only one student is guilty, but the other 30 are also considered guilty; pretty unfair. What the teacher should do is investigate who is actually guilty and convict the one individual. To convict the whole class seems lazy and unprofessional of the teacher. Hell, he might get fired for trying to punish innocent students; comes off as sort of sadistic. Without evidence, people like Bonds shouldn’t just be lumped in with the guilty group and convicted of the crime (let alone a crime that wasn’t a crime at all back then). It wouldn’t be fair.

It just seems obvious that the MLB is having it’s cake and eating too, and not sharing with the players that helped them get that cake in the first place. See, the game of baseball has been trying to compete with the NFL and NBA for decades. Quite frankly, the MLB is in a fight it can’t win. The 49ers and Packers game drew over 30 million fucking viewers. Selig can only dream of those kinds of numbers. But let’s rewind a few decades. Most baseball stadiums just weren’t filling up. People viewed it as a boring game (a stigma that the game still has to deal with) and most people were spending their time and money with more exciting options (football, basketball, watching ice melt, etc.). Baseball players got paid to play the game, and would just go about their business; openly chew, openly juice, etc. There wasn’t much of a microscope (and few eyeballs) on the game and fewer restrictions against substance use than there are now. After all, Selig really wasn’t in any position to enforce any rules or create new ones, since no one was paying attention to his game and he didn’t want to risk scaring those players and viewers that were sticking around.

helladownsosa

But eventually Selig caught onto something. He noticed that chicks dug the long ball and started marketing the most exciting aspect of the game: the Home Run. It’s the only real draw of the game (he must have conceited) and Selig started publicizing his heavy hitters. Selig pushed McGwire and Sosa to the moon. They were the exciting superstars of baseball and more eyeballs started paying attention (which meant more dollars were coming in). Finally, baseball was competing with the NFL and Selig couldn’t be happier. Of course, he had to smile through his grin about how he was pulling it off (allowing PEDs), but it was working.

Then the Mitchell Report came out and then the suspicions about how Selig was pulling it off were proven accurate. Players were using steroids to hit homers. Selig knew that the homers were brining in dollars, and people might have suspected it, but then came evidence (more or less) that Selig used PEDs to enhance his profit margins. With evidence in place, Selig had to now enforce rules and regulations against the use of PEDs in his game. Of course, Selig already reaped the benefits of the PED’s inclusion in the game, but now he also gets to demonstrate that he is law-abiding and fair. It’s a win-win for the MLB (PED-enhanced ratings and money then, most leveled playing level field in sports now). Selig gets out like a bandit.

The MLB is a business and they need to do their PR. To disapprove Bonds (and A-Rod) is the final move in their PR strategy. The final rinse of the dirt on Selig’s hands. But of these three characters (Babe, Bonds, and Selig) only one of them is truly guilty and no amount of spin is gonna change that. If you’re responsibility is to determine what is best for your business and up until now you haven’t done anything to change the rules, then you are at fault. The players play; that’s their job. A player can do anything and everything under the guidelines of their sport.  As the supreme umpire of the game, Selig’s job is to call fair or foul at the time of the play. An umpire calling a strike out on a ball that he later decided was a strike and not a ball after a home run is hit is irresponsible and that umpire would probably get fired. It’s not the players fault he hit a homer, it’s the umpires fault for not calling a strike. As far as I’m concerned  Bonds should be allowed to circle those bases 756 times over.

16th and Protesto

helladowngentrification

When turning up gets political.

More and more frequently protests are propping up all around, mostly in the Mission. Some are less rowdy than others, but they seem to aim to escalate to a certain class of mob-like gathering. Just the other day (read a little about it: http://missionlocal.org/2014/01/mission-protesters-take-on-condo-dwellers-cops-cafes/) there was another protest, calling for people to “shoot the cops” and “burn the coffee shops”. The intent of this protest (and many others) is, of course, to engage in anti-gentrification catharsis, but the explicit reality is that it comes across as a crude and unfocused attempt to remark on the flaws of the current version of (Neo) San Francisco.

Firstly, to ignore the problem of burglary and instead aim vitriol at cops is sort of irresponsible. Some claim that the increased presence of officers on 16th and Mission (and other shady parts of the hood) can be attributed to the increased presence of richer folk. That might be true. At worst, the wealthy have proven that they can flex their influence and impose their will on the city by making things happen. At best, the wealthy’s influence has manifested itself in the form of increased police presence in places that might be dangerous for your girlfriends, mothers, and family to walk through on their way home from work late at night. Of course, it’s harder to walk around with a 40oz, but I think the trade off ultimately benefits more people than it hurts. Hell, I’ve been written up a time or two (stay away from 24th late at night fyi; cops be like grizzlies at the river hunching over for salmon) and even I’m ok with the increased police presence. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the city streets aren’t just my own personal playground (the streets are other people’s storefronts, baby-stroller lanes, pathway from work to home, etc.) and I’d rather more people feel safe than I feel free to debaucherize the town.

Secondly, to incite people to arson isn’t a safe idea for the community. Something about destroying property tends to lead to more property destruction. As was seen last year, some people don’t know how to do that shit right (supposed to burn Dodgers jerseys, not sacrifice MUNI buses). I can only imagine what would go wrong if people started burning places. I’m sure more than a few instances of friendly fire would piss people off (aim for Generic Coffee Shop, hit local mom and pop trinket store; misfire). Besides, what good is anyone’s brilliant creativity behind bars if convicted of arson? It would be like an infantry shooting themselves in the foot and taking themselves out of a war that needs as many soldiers as possible. Staying out of trouble is probably a wiser move.

Plus, this call for shootings and burnings could make the big-picture problem worse. If the new residents start seeing all this violence, they (with all that influence) are gonna call for even more police enforcement and then people are gonna feel they have to match that with even more violence. Eventually, the area would become a sterile no fun zone with a cop at every corner, thanks to the people who weren’t thinking hard enough about what could happen later if they continue all this irrational behavior. It’s like one gigantic party foul. Though, luckily, nothing too crazy has happened, it is wise to at least appreciate that nothing has, and to maintain that nothing will, happen. We don’t need to b martial law guinea pigs.

Protesting itself is not a problem, of course. I just think town hall type meetings would portray  a better image of the rebellion (rather than broken windows, death threats, etc.) and could actually squeeze compromise and creative solutions out of people a lot better than the rowdy rallies. For instance, the issue of the condos and the possible pros and cons that come with them. Some people argue that the condos would be a huge eye sore to the city. The condos could also displace other establishments that have been around for a long time. That car wash near 16th and Potrero doesn’t need to transform into a sun-blocking monolith representing the rise of the rich. Still, others could argue that the condos would allow certain people to move in there rather than displace families in other places by bidding on higher rent around the neighborhood. They could potentially block the rise of evictions (and serve to quarantine the rich). See, there are points of discussion here that I don’t think rallies always help to illuminate.

Rallies keep people occupied with doing the wrong things (threatening, throwing, drinking, etc.). Blogs can only do so much (fun to read, but not truly mobilizing). I’d rather meet with local business owners, neighbors and all relevant parties (maybe at the city college campus every Tuesday, or at Crepe House across the street) to come to an agreement about what’s the best way to articulate our worries with the City’s officials. It’s too easy to want to hate all cops, all coffee shops, all new residents, etc. It’s harder to focus that anger on the particular individuals themselves, simply because it costs mental energy to figure out who is actually at fault. But if people could meet and help each other understand who exactly should be called out, then the entire cause would become clearer and more legitimate.