Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Easterbrook's Idiot Morning Quarterbacking

Gregg Easterbrook has written several ridiculous pieces in the wake of the non-scandal that was Videogate, but his recent one comparing November 4's Patriots at Colts game to a battle of Good versus Evil is his most absurd yet.

He begins by arguing that the Indianapolis Colts are "paladins who carry the banner of that which is benificent: Sportsmanship, honesty, modesty, devotion to community, embrace of traditional small-town life, belief in higher power, even love of laughter." Where the New England Patriots are somehow deficient in these areas he doesn't explain. Instead he launches a ridiculous attack that the Patriots represent "Dishonesty, cheating, arrogance, hubris, endless complaining even in success."

He loses credibility right away, because he has it backwards. The Patriots' home base is a small town - Foxboro, MA. Indianapolis is a city, hardly more of a paladin of small-town life than Foxboro. He presses further, by claiming the Patriots and their championship success "is tarnished by the cheating scandal." There was no cheating scandal, a fact he continues to ignore in his hubristic venom. "They run up the score to humiliate opponants....thus mocking sportsmanship." Huh? Did he even watch the games he's talking about? Because nowhere did the Patriots score when there was no chance for an opponant to mount some kind of comeback, not even in the 49-28 defeat of the Miami Dolphins. Easterbrook also ignores the vicious taunting of the Patriots by Joey Porter - a notorious loudmouth more famous for that than for productive on-field plays - and Jason Taylor. Porter in particular got it when he kicked dirt at Tom Brady after a sack: Brady responded the next play with a touchdown bomb.

"Belichick and the rest of the top of the Patriots's organization refuse to answer questions about what was in the cheating tapes." Because they already answered that question, Gregg - they videotaped opposing coaches and coordinators for scouting archives; the NFL at no point has ever banned this practice, their beef was that the Patriots were doing this at parts of the sidelines where videotaping is rather vaguely banned. The issue here is not the Patriots and never was - it was the sagacity of the rule, the credibility of enforcement of the rule, and reaction to it by opposing teams as well as by Roger Goddell, who pointed out that what the Patriots did - tellingly Easterbrook omits most of what Goddell said in the aftermath of the incident - was not cheating.

"(Yet) its players regularly whine about not being revered enough." Gregg, you're just watching old footage of players saying no one believed they could win another championship - and the fact is, no one did.

Easterbrook takes a cheap shot at Tom Brady for being "a smirking sybarite who dates actresses...but whose public charity appearences are infrequent." Because, Gregg, such appearences are more about style than substance.

Easterbrook keeps attacking that the Patriots are "running up the score," never mind that there is no such thing in sports. He also gets it wrong when he discusses the Dallas game - in the final minutes, the Cowboys had at least one timeout left that they called, which made it impossible for the Patriots to kneel on the ball.

Easterbrook gets back to the Videotape non-scandal by asking, "wouldn't Belichick be attempting to convince the world he is a good guy by showing sportsmanship at every turn?" No, because "sportsmanship" is mythology perpetrated by idiots who don't understand sports. Teams are supposed to run up the score because they have to, to eliminate all possible avenue for an opponant's comeback. The Patriots didn't run up the score against the Colts in the 2006 AFC Title Game; instead, they played to run out the clock. It not only didn't work, it helped cost them that game.

"Then why were they cheating back in Week One?" For the umpteenth time, Gregg, they were not cheating; the scandal of this incident was reaction to it. Videotaping opposing coaches is legitimate scouting activity.

As for "cheating," Easterbrook curiously says nothing about outright rules manipulation by the Colts' GM, Bill Polian, whose team was incapable of beating physical football opponants until in the 2004 interregnum before that season he hammered home changes and more strenuous enforcement of rules designed to leave his receivers alone - the 5-yard chuck rule in particular. It was vindictive poor sportsmanship by the Colts because it was a case of proving yourself incapable of winning fair & square so you rewrite the rules to suit you.

Easterbrook cannot be believed on football matters any more than Peter King because both refuse to understand the truth of the matter - there was no cheating, and what the Patriots are doing is what teams are supposed to do. The evil side is not the side taping opposing coaches, it's the side that gets rules changed to benefit his team at the expense of good football.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

COT Still Makes No Sense

The COT ran at Talladega in early October and the resulting race was hardly a ringing endorsement of the car, despite some excellent racing overall. This was supposed to be the big proving ground of success with the COT and it wasn't. Which isn't surprising as the car has consistently failed at literally every goal assigned to it.

For Talladega, one goal was to eliminate expensive restrictor plate intake manifolds; the opposite is happening as teams build new such manifolds, making nonsense of the car's advertised cost reductions in that area.

And with ratings and attendence continuing to slip, the sport's COT gamble is proving a bad one. What NASCAR does now remains a mystery given the seeming lack of idea how to handle failure like this that permeates the sanctioning body.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

War Revisionism Runs Amok

Two items worth mentioning that illustrate how war revisionism continues to run amok. First is blame to Ronald Reagan for backing Afghan guerrillas against the Soviet army, blame that is unwarranted. Then we also have attacks on Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment, attacks that deserve response.

Monday, October 01, 2007

In NASCAR, Bad Leadership Makes Bad Choices

NASCAR gets a reprieve of sorts this weekend when Talladega returns to the schedule for its second weekend of the season. It is a welcome reprieve from months of subpar racing, despite some spurts of good competition at Charlotte, Pocono, Michigan, Indianapolis, Fontana, and Kansas.

But it is the first superspeedway race for the Car Of Tomorrow - the pig, as some are calling it - and throw into the mix the entry of F1 champ turned open wheel washout Jacques Villeneuve, whose career the last few years has been an embarassment and whose overall personality is a complete waste of time dealing with. Of course this is assuming Jacques Clouseau-Villeneuve even makes the race.

But the fact he is even entered, combined with Dario Franchitti's pending arrival and the continued employment of Juan Montoya - involved in another wreck, this one at Kansas - illustrates trends the sport is seeing that aren't good for it. Some of those trends are illustrated here and when you add in more dubious decisions made for the sport of recent - such as increasing incompetence in officiating - it shows what should be obvious in any endeavor - bad leadership makes bad choices.

The New England Patriots saw it with Chuck Sullivan, and Brian France is so reminiscent of Chuck Sullivan that it's frightening.