Eccentric Flower:200912/Unsafe Topics

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«December 2009 «Eccentric Flower

Unsafe Topics

The entry which was going to be here turned out to be so nasty that I removed it.

Meanwhile, here is a pertinent summation of a paradox from an old friend, in two steps:

1) Twitter makes this dilemma VERY obvious: to get middle aged Columbina to write, she must be hungry (full tummy not writer)

2) ... only, hungry Columbina is ALWAYS crabby Columbina. So - should one pick sated, but silent or hungry, voluble but crabby?

I'm picking voluble-and-crabby a lot less lately, which means you get sated-and-silent. Sorry.

Here, here's a topic you can have a small discussion over:

I find that I am only interested in sports teams that are either walkover winners or utter losers in a given season. A 16-0 team is inherently interesting, but so is a 0-16 team. It's the 8-8 teams that do nothing for me. This suggests that my basic philosophy of sports is "ace or kill"* - or, put another way: lead, follow, or get the hell out of my news.

Which, by the by, is why the Patriots - who this year are basically an 8-8 team in disguise, and if you don't believe me, I'll give you supporting evidence - are wholly uninteresting, but the Saints are very interesting indeed.

Sure, it's sports, but isn't it better than Afghanistan or Tiger Woods or health care? (I have opinions on those too!)

* I've told this one before, but: by the end of World War I, as a pilot, you were either an ace (five kills) or you were dead. The only exceptions to this were people who started late enough in the war that they didn't have enough time to find out which they were.

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I accept that you are extremely outcome-based. But for me the reason a 16-0 team is interesting (or not) is the same as the reason a 15-1 team is interesting (or not): how they are playing. If I don't care how they're playing, I don't care whether they win or not. I don't really get why you do care whether they win or not without caring how they're playing, and at that point you can't sum up the interesting bits in a w/l record.

My Wild are in the toilet this year. But what's interesting to me is which bits of the game they're struggling with and which they have no problem pulling together, and the same factors for individual players of interest.

Possibly this makes a difference in long-season sports? Nobody goes X-0 or 0-X in baseball or hockey seasons. The season is just too long. Even the legendary teams that dominated in those sports lost sometimes. And other than things like the Olympics, those are the only sports I really care about.

-- 20:48, 14 December 2009 (GMT)


Actually I think the problem is I'm not especially outcome-based, but I'm not sure I can do any better than that, or explain why a consistently losing team fascinates me almost as much as a consistently winning one.

I will say that this comes from a perspective of someone who doesn't actually like watching the games themselves very much, except on rare occasions. It may be because I follow the metadata about the games (crowd response, home reactions, sports media) more than the games themselves that I feel the way I do.

I think this may be one of the things that makes me less interested in long-season sports. In pro football you have only sixteen chances to either succeed or fuck it up, and it's usually pretty clear immediately which way a season will go. That makes for some really interesting people- and media-watching.

-- 21:16, 14 December 2009 (GMT)


I'm driven by my support for home-town or school teams, and even more so by my loathing for certain other teams. For example, it's important for the Yankees to win, but even more important for the Red Sox to lose, preferably in a horrible, mind-destroying fashion (cf. Bill Buckner). I was trying to explain this to my English wife on Sunday when she was questioning why I was watching San Diego at Dallas. I'm just grateful that Dallas and Notre Dame play in different leagues because who would you root against more otherwise? You'd basically be left hoping the ground would open up underneath them and swallow them and their putrid fans whole.

-- 17:06, 15 December 2009 (GMT)


Interesting... since you say that you're more interested in the meta than in the actual results, I'm surprised that you're more captured by a great team winning (or losing) a relatively small number of games, and not the intricacies of a team over a much longer season. For instance - why did the then-first-place Boston Bruins completely collapse following the Olympics layoff in 2006? Or take the NY Jets this year - they look average at 7-6 right now, but they've been very streaky - two win streaks of 3 games each, and two 3-game losing streaks. And how come the Patriots can only win in places named "England"?

-- 18:27, 15 December 2009 (GMT)


To answer your last question, it's because the Patriots suck this year, but the arrangement of their schedule has (thus far) concealed the true extent of their suckiness.

In terms of my interests here, perhaps I'm making this more complex than it actually is. Let's try again:

1. Winning teams are fun to follow unless they're teams which are obnoxious.*

2. Teams that don't win consistently are no fun to follow ....

3. Unless they are teams that lose very consistently, in which case they become fun to follow again. Trainwreck value.

I am more interested, I'm sorry to say, in personalities and behavior than play. I am less interested in whether you're a good QB than whether you're one who behaves well off the field - although, if you're a good QB, I will be willing to forgive more of your off-field sins. (Brady has about worn out his welcome; his offscreen conduct is no longer justified by the quality of his play.)

And I tend to form dislikes. (I figure it's okay in sports because sports are irrelevant to the real world anyway.) I really can't stand either of the Mannings and their phony aw-shucksisms, so I'm less interested in, say, how the New Jersey Giants are doing than in whether Eli Manning will fall on his face. The New Jersey Jets season is only of interest to me insofar as their fortunes are affected by the many flip-flops of the odious Brett Favre. The Browns are only interesting to me because I hope Eric "Traitor" Mangini will sink like a stone. And so on. Who cares about the football part? I haven't been wowed by a football game since the last major game Adam "Quisling" Vinatieri played with the Pats.

* Which means both the Yankees and the Red Sox, for example - a pox on both their houses. Neither team is particularly gracious in either winning or losing, and neither realizes how much the rest of America hates them. On the other hand, obnoxious is in the eye of the beholder. I didn't and still don't find the Patriots' behavior in 2007 obnoxious, but I'm aware others do.

-- 21:28, 15 December 2009 (GMT)


P.S. As I have said many times before, I suspect I would like hockey a great deal more if I attended it in person; but for various reasons right now the odds of my actually attending a Bruins game in person in the near future are quite low.

-- 21:31, 15 December 2009 (GMT)


You do realized that Favre is playing for the Vikings this year, right? Mark Sanchez is the Jets quarterback now (at least when he's not injured).

I also tend to root for/against based on personalities, but the personalities of the fans trump the personalities of the players. Thus, I was happy that Plexico "yes, that is a gun in my pants, and, no, I'm not happy to see you" Burress caught the TD against the Pats because I despise all Boston-area teams and their fandoms. Same thing for Cincinnati. (Humorous aside: When I was apartment hunting there before my clerkship, a RE agent was trying to convince me to rent in a building by telling me that a number of the Bengals lived there during the season, because, you know, I'd really want to live among a bunch of overpaid steroid cases.) Detroit's the only place I lived for a protracted period and didn't come away hating the local teams. The Pistons were pretty cool at the time (and watching basketball at the 'Dome was wild); the Tigers had a great, old stadium and great home uniforms; the Red Wings had the best uniforms of any team in any sport; and who could hate the Lions?

-- 17:36, 16 December 2009 (GMT)


Yes, I do know that. The implication was "let's see how they suffer now that Favre has deserted them, which any half-awake observer could have predicted he would do, and they never should have taken him on to begin with."

Overpaid steroid cases? That's the Bengals you're talking about. The phrase you want is "career criminals."

I'm pretty much in agreement with you on Boston-area fandoms. The problem is that you have a blind spot that prevents you from seeing that certain New York-area fandoms are just as obnoxious. As I say, these days my attitude is more like "a pox on both their houses."

I didn't realize you lived in Detroit at any point. I've been thinking a lot about Detroit these days for fiction purposes. Long story.

-- 18:55, 16 December 2009 (GMT)


Well, not in the City of Detroit. I spent three years in Ann Arbor, which is about 45 miles west. I was using "Detroit" because all the teams there do, even if they played in Auburn Hills or Pontiac. If you're doing research on the actual city, I think Time is running a year-long series. You might want to check the website or even the library for back issues if they're not on line.

There a some very obnoxious NY sports fans -- talk radio is chock full of them. Most of the fans are pretty reasonable and knowledgable about the sports they follow. Also, it was a lot worse 30 years ago. Opposing players would get batteries thrown at them at Yankee Stadium. Now there's a much greater security presence, zero tolerance for hooliganism, no beer after the 7th inning, and higher ticket prices are keeping out more of the riff-raff.

As for the Jets, they're pretty much the same. 9-7 last year, 7-6 this year.

-- 19:22, 16 December 2009 (GMT)


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