Monthly Archives: January 2015

RIP Mr. Cub: Ernie Banks dead at 83

Let’s play two.

I have one core rule: respect the game. Not only did Ernie Banks respect the game, in every moment of his illustrious career, in every second of his life, he played with more verve and sheer joy than perhaps any player in history.

Already this morning I see people on my sports lists debating whether Ernie was better than Honus Wagner, but it’s hard to argue the fact that he embodied, in just about every possible way, the essence of what baseball should be.

DeflateGate: a few quick thoughts for the no harm/no foul crowd

I’ve spent the past couple of days listening to pundits, casual fans and Patriot-backers emphasize, in the strongest terms possible, that it didn’t change the outcome. Some go a tad further, suggesting that it doesn’t matter if Belichick tried to cheat, so long as the outcome wasn’t unaffected.

This line of “reasoning” is at once mind-boggling and completely predictable here in post-sportsmanship America. So let’s take the principle and test it by applying it to other situations. Read more

NFL head coach Mt. Rushmore: who’s on it?

I love this game, but have never written about it. So here goes. They’ve decided to erect a Mt. Rushmore for pro football coaches. What four legendary figures are on it?

The way I see it, three men are automatics.

  • George “Papa Bear” Halas more or less invented the NFL, coached nearly 50 years and won six titles.
  • Vince Lombardi: They didn’t name the trophy after him for nothing. Won five titles.
  • Bill Walsh: Reinvented pro football, creator of the West Coast offense, father of the modern game, and his legacy includes one of the two most prolific coaching family trees in history. Won three titles in eight years, then handed over the reins to protege George Seifert, who won two of the next six.

So really, the question boils down to who gets that fourth spot. There are a number of candidates.

    • Chuck Noll: The only coach to win four Super Bowls.

Read more

Bill Belichick is the Richard Nixon of sports

Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. – Hunter S. Thompson

Every time the New England Patriots win, I kind of assume they’re cheating. Even if they aren’t. Part of me wonders what they’re up to and how they’re getting away with it.

My Patriot friends call me a hater, but it wasn’t always like this. Like 95% of all New England fans, I didn’t even know they had a football team until 2001. But they found a great QB in Tom Brady and started winning Super Bowls, and I’m human. Any team other than mine that wins three championships is going to begin smelling like an evil empire, and in their case they didn’t even have the decency to be dramatic or interesting. Belichick is evil at its most banal and more often than not watching them play was about as exciting as watching Himmler knit with his grandmother.

But then they got busted. Spygate. Motherfuckers were cheating. No damned wonder they won all those titles. Which was infuriating, but give credit where it was due – finally something about them was entertaining. Read more

A Most Unpleasant Man, pt. 2: I’m Sorry for Denying My Friends

Last week I penned a combination New Years resolution/rest-of-my-life resolution reflecting on what I let become of myself during the last decade of my life, and in it I promised that no longer would I be what E once termed, in his fantastic song, “a most unpleasant man.” That post, though, only addressed part of the story.

Throughout my life I have always been a man of many and diverse interests. At any given moment I might have been a marketing guy, a scholar, an educator, a blogger/editor/publisher, a photographer, a poet, an athlete, a Theta Chi, a competitive debater, a paintballer, a tuba player in the marching band, a rabid Chelsea FC supporter, an actor, a gamer, a lyricist composing songs with an industrial band (I didn’t say “goth” there, but I can easily wander into a club and enjoy a hardcore goth concert and not look any more out of place than I do everywhere else), and probably some other things, as well. Some of these things go together. A marketing director who plays soccer? Sure, that makes perfect sense. A PhD who’s both scholar and teacher, as well as poet? Of course. Photographer goes with most anything, so that’s good.

But other pieces of the puzzle are trickier. Read more

“A Most Unpleasant Man”: In 2015, I, Sam Smith, Resolve…

A few months back my old buddy Ed tracked me down. We used to play baseball together, but he moved away, we lost touch, etc., and we hadn’t talked in a good 15 years. It was great hearing from him and I really enjoyed catching up.

As we were talking on the phone, though, something telling happened. He cut me off in mid-sentence at one point. “Sam, what’s wrong?” Huh? “Are you okay? You sound really down.” Read more

@Doc’s Best CDs of 2014

Jeffrey Dean Foster2014 was, in short, a remarkable year for music. Some hipster wanker pub recently lamented that there just wasn’t a great disc this year, and all I can do is hope that somebody forwards them this list, because they damned sure missed some things.

Let’s start with my co-CDs of the Year.

Jeffrey Dean Foster – The Arrow

You know that Desert Island List challenge? You’re stranded on a desert island and can only have 10 CDs to last the rest of of your life. What do you take? Read more