Monday, November 1, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
"Does James want a title because he thinks he deserves one? Or does he want to actually, you know, win it? His behavior suggests the former more than the latter. James seems to regard a championship as a birthright, as if it is something to be given to him rather than to be earned. And the more time that passes, the more you cannot help but wonder if James is just another damaged, spoiled, and self-absorbed brat who cannot understand the simplest rules in life." - Tony Massarotti, The Boston Globe.
"I blame the people around him. I blame the lack of a father figure in his life. I blame us for feeding his narcissism to the point that he referred to himself in the third person five times in 45 minutes. I blame local and national writers (including myself) for apparently not doing a good enough job explaining to athletes like LeBron what sports mean to us, and how it IS a marriage, for better and worse, and that we're much more attached to these players and teams than they realize. I blame David Stern for not throwing his body in front of that show. I blame everyone." - Bill Simmons, ESPN.com
"As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.
This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.
Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us." - Dan Gilbert, majority owner, Cleveland Cavaliers.
"James made a more grandiose show of free agency than anyone ever has, but he didn’t create the culture of entitlement. He’s just the latest to exploit it, and Joyce was right about one thing: all would have been forgiven had he just told his interviewer, Jim Gray, he was staying in Cleveland, basking in his own stardust.
Maybe that was the main selling point in Miami. When the playoff dust finally settles, it won’t all come down on him." - Harvey Araton, New York Times.
"Now - even though he took less money to go to Miami - he will be seen as a mercenary of sorts. And with the way the Heat have been loaded like a team of ringers trying to swoop in and take a tournament, the club might want to add black hats to their uniforms. They will be the biggest curiosity in sport when they begin play this fall, but they will also surpass the Celtics [team stats] and Lakers as the NBA teams that fans most want to see defeated." - Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald.
"In LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat becomes more than a basketball team. It's South Beach meets Cirque du Soleil meets Hollywood meets YouTube meets ESPN meets the '27 Yankees. Now, a Tuesday game against Sacramento becomes a show. Any game against the Los Angeles Lakers becomes a national event. June is reserved for the NBA Finals. They're basketball's Beatles. LeBeatles." - Dave Hyde, The Baltimore Sun.
"When a major American municipality's identity is that wrapped up in one special athlete, what does it say about Cleveland's self-worth? LeBron made that city millions, made an NBA outpost matter again, and Gilbert has the temerity to call the guy who filled his building "callous" and "disloyal."
You're lucky you had him for as long as you did. He just outgrew you, Cleveland. He fell in love with somebody else. Deal with it.
That doesn't make how LeBron handled everything right, but it makes him look bigger than the place he left." - Mike Wise, The Washington Post.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Back in college I tried really hard to get into soccer.
I swear, I did.
I spent a couple of days surfing the Web, figuring out the teams, deciding who I would pledge my undying love to (It was a draw between Michael Ballack's Chelsea FC and Liverpool's much cooler logo), learning the rules, rosters, etc.
It didn't take.
And it's not because I don't like the concept of liking soccer. In fact, I'm in love with the concept of following soccer. Who wouldn't want to be an aficianado of "the beautiful" game? On paper it sounds great, very sophisticated even. Like having a taste for 12-year-old single malt highland scotch and Cuban cigars.
But in reality it means scheduling your day around games (or "matches") taking place across the Atlantic, following multiple leagues and ever-changing rosters with little to no emotional connection to what's going on. For me, watching a soccer match was like trying to get excited about a San Jose - Anaheim NHL game. And for me, sports is all about the emotional connection.
But once every four years I have the opportunity to watch and actually enjoy soccer and that time is quickly approaching. The only thing not to like about the World Cup is how it seems to divide sports fans - American sports fans - into three camps: the self-righteous footballers, indignant soccer haters and everybody else.
Of course this could just be overhyped by the ol' sports media, but just wait we'll be inundated with columns, articles, podcasts discussing why Americans can't/don't/won't embrace the world's most popular sport. Here's ESPN's Jeff MacGregor:
Hanging there somewhere between the comic and the tragic, the right and the wrong, the left and the right, the truth and the lie, is our American relationship to soccer. Well, to football. Futbol. Fußball. Whatever. Even as the world gets smaller, how is it possible that at this late date we remain such strangers to The Beautiful Game?
The 19th World Cup, under way this week in South Africa, will at last change all that.
Unless, of course, it does not.
Because predicting the arc of soccer's popularity in the United States is a fool's errand. It is also a cottage industry. Never more so than during the quadrennial global tournament. Thus, by mid-July, we'll all be up to our necks in the oracular math of "what if?" What if the U.S. men do well? What if they do not? What if TV ratings are up? What if they are not? What of Slovakia? What of Slovenia? Or Fredonia? What if Landon Donovan plays like Landon Donovan McNabb? Whatever happened to Beckham and Pelé and all those sky-high hopes for stateside soccer? Who at long last will become the Prometheus of American footie? Of what real use is a goalkeeper, anyway? And what if tens of thousands of words a day are spilled into the Gulf of Lexico in service of the idea that meaning must be made of it all? Who cleans that up?
"Help!" cries the American sports fan. "Enough! I just want to know whether to send my noncontact sons and daughters to soccer or to band practice after school!"
I hope soccer becomes popular in this country. Because sports are fun. But hearing why the American public is boorish by failing to follow MLS or FIFA on non-World Cup years or why American sports are so much better is the real bore. So sportswriters, do you part, help me learn about the history, passion and everything else there is to love about football without the psychoanalysis.
UPDATE: Just came across this Joel Dreyfuss column on largely the same topic. At least I'm not alone:
"There's still a certain amount of snobbishness in following international soccer from the U.S. It doesn't rank up there with squash racquets peeking out of your briefcase, but by rooting for proper "football," you join that secret society of snobs who talk 4-4-2 versus 3-5-2 lineups and actually understand the offside rule. I have to admit, since it's gotten a lot easier to be a soccer snob, that's probably not a good thing for exclusivity. But there are definite benefits in being able to lie on your couch over the next several weeks and flip your remote between two World Cup matches."
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I've got Metro on the mind lately, it seems.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We know it's coming, but not when. We understand there is a shortfall, but not exactly why. We have an idea of the hole that needs to be filled, but not how much will come directly from our wallets.
"Options include a 15 percent hike in rail fares and a 20 percent increase in bus fares.
Peak rail fares could go from $1.65 to $1.90 and bus fares from $1.25 to $1.50."Also being weighed are new "peak of the peak" rail fares, an additional charge during the service times when ridership is heaviest, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m."
The full board is expected to pick this up on May 27. So by Friday we commuters may know how much more we ought to start loading onto our SmartTrip cards every week.
One can't help but find fault with the Metro's spin on their "Peak of the Peak" rate hike, if what The Washington Examiner's Kytja Weir reports is correct. Not only will a potential spike in cost help make up some of that deficit, it also will "encourage riders to spread out their trips."
Good to know. I hope everyone who uses the Metro on a regular basis has that kind of flexibility at their jobs.
The official word from Metro officials is a bit more muted. Officials will likely make service adjustments, i.e. cutting back on trains, to fill in a portion of the budget hole. According to a Metro press release, after six hearings on the issue it's clear the public prefers fare hikes over adjustments:
"'During the public comment period, we received a great deal of input from customers,' said Sarles. 'We have taken these inputs into account as we propose a solution that we feel balances the FY2011 budget as well as the interests of all in the region fairly.'"
The release also notes the Metro is considering cutting 313 positions, eliminating pay raises for non-union employees, increased contributions from Virginia and Maryland and divert capital funds to preventative maintenance. You can see their proposed fare changes here and their full release here. Other than that, the Metro hasn't done a particularly good job of outlining why they need cash and why they need it now.
But maybe there's a white knight or two riding in to the rescue. As I write it appears a few members of the U.S. Senate are pulling a cavalry act and pitching a $2 billion Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010 to ease the pain of floundering public rail and bus services across the country.
I guess in the end, myself and several hundred thousand other D.C. area commuters may be spared the fee hike, thanks in part to generous taxpayers of, let's say, Montana.
So thanks Montana.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Maybe it's the tension of the forced co-mingling of thousands of people who want nothing to do with each other, people pretending their driving in to work themselves or still in bed or in a private train car. In reality, they're squashed together like a can of sardines jostling one another with every dent in the rail.
Still, they try. If you squint hard enough you can see the shimmery, translucent light of the "personal space" shield surrounding them. Occasionally, they'll try a diplomatic overture, like "this is my stop" or "get out of my way" before hurtling past you in a vain attempt to squeeze through the Metro doors before they slam shut.
And sometimes the world intrudes on their carefully crafted personal zone. The Great Swine Flu Scare of 2009 may have faded out of our collective consciousness months ago, but you can still spot pristine white and hospital scrubs blue medical face masks tied on here and there on the morning Metro.
There's a whole wide world of people and stories out there. You can find them all on the Metro
It's better than television.