Thursday, January 31, 2013

One Of Two Things That Can't Be Avoided, Even On The Field

RIP Caleb Moore

There are certain times where you try to take an old adage and apply it to different aspects in life. One adage states that there are two things you cannot avoid in life: death and taxes. While taxes are usually a predictable occurrence, the former is something that can put a shock into anyone's spine when it happens unexpectedly.

Thursday, there were news reports that freestyle snowmobile rider and X Games gold medalist Caleb Moore (25) had died after spending a week in the hospital. He had suffered a serious injury while competing in the snowmobile freestyle event at the Winter X Games in Colorado. His death marks the first death in the Games in its 18-year history. Amid this tragedy, people like me begin to wait for scrutiny on the "safety of sports."

I had written about injuries in sports (interestingly enough, a year ago yesterday) before in the blog, and I had mentioned that injuries cannot really be avoided in sports, because if there's strenuous bodily activity involved, freak accidents can happen. An example of this is the story of Al Lucas, a defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Avengers in the Arena Football League. While being tackled during a kickoff, his head collided with another player's knee, resulting in a spinal cord injury from blunt force trauma. To this day, it hasn't been confirmed whether he died on the field or not. There have been even more instances of serious injuries later resulting in death, such as those who have played Australian Rules Football, hockey, soccer, and even in baseball. Some of the sports have seen adjustments to prevent these instances, most notably the institutionalization of a helmet. However, even the usage of padding and helmets can only go so far. Athletes over the years have dropped dead in heat exhaustion and of unexplained cardiac arrest such as those who are cyclists and runners. Most of these cases have occurred in college student athletes and in young children. Why? Nobody can tell. These kinds of things have been happening since the inception of each sport, and it's only becoming a major issue in sports science in this generation.

Precautions are always taken, especially if your child is in a full-contact sport that can lead to serious injury. I should know that myself; I've been tackled and kicked and slid at more times than I can count, and Mom always made sure I wore my mouth guard among other things. Also, I had recently watched a report on Nightline that was talking about the new safety precautions that are being taken for young athletes. Most of these precautions are especially for those who play football. New equipment and technology provided by sports scientists are looking to secure ultimate safety for those who play in the sport. Sure, there are helmets and padding that can withstand collision and such, but we're forgetting one small part of the body that can take all of that and curb-stomp it...

The neck.
Photo from Wikipedia

While keeping children safe from these freak accidents is well-spirited measure, it may still open up the gateway to further injury if there are nagging freak injuries or medical conditions that go unnoticed. Even professional athletes can fall victim to this. While there are implemented drug tests in the professional sports world that can pinpoint an underlying heart condition and the like, the damage may already be done in an individual, and the previous strain can wreck an athlete's career and future outside of sports.


Despite this, we're still technically animals, and we still think it's really awesome when you see two people beat the snot out of each other in a sport like boxing or MMA. Ah, boxing. There's an example right there. While we have the cases like in the Olympics where there is protective padding worn on the head, the "olden days" of boxing had guys wearing gloves that looked like they barely had enough padding and the sport could practically count as being bare-knuckled. Not only that, but they would fight for what literally seemed like forever or until the guy fell. There are still cases in which men (and women) still fall victim to their fights long afterward. The MMA world isn't safe from this, either. Many men have fallen from brain injuries occurring in-fight and even cases of "second impact syndrome."

Nowadays, people are starting to wonder whether the intensity of hits on the field will lead to deaths on the field in the NFL. Recently, the family of deceased linebacker Junior Seau had sued the NFL over the damages that Seau received during his tenure in the league. There have been recent reports trying to avoid these allegations during this time as well, noting that stricter measures will be taken in the care of athletes, especially when an injury is sustained. Not to sound like "Big Chief Raincloud" again, but the damage has already been done. The disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is something not to be fooled with. Even after one concussion, brain damage is sustained. With that in mind, along with all of the other injuries that can be sustained in football such as broken ribs, arms, and legs, and the tearing of muscles and ligaments, how can this sport be made any safer?

There's the fly in the ointment: what will happen to the sport when things start to become "too safe?"

Bernard Pollard, safety for the Baltimore Ravens, was a player who had made an absolutely devastating tackle on Sunday night, giving New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley a concussion. After this massive hit, he was interviewed the next day, saying he believes that the NFL might not be around for much longer. On Monday, he had said that if the game is softened too much, people will begin to lose interest in the game and not want to watch if there is no serious hitting involved. Expanding on this idea, this is one of the reasons why nobody really watches the Pro Bowl. It means nothing to the audience, and guys are advised not to hit hard. With that said, we can go back to my "primal instinct" mention from earlier in the post. We want to see guys kill each other out there.
In expanding his previous point, he had also mentioned that after what parents see in this game, they will discourage their children from playing it, even going so far as to saying that he wouldn't even want his own children to play. While some people will disagree with this decision, it's not like he's being an overprotective parent. Let's not lie--football is dangerous. However, cheerleading is dangerous too. Dancing is dangerous. There's a lot of danger all over the place, so you can't exactly avoid the chance of a child getting hurt (unless...they play chess or something).

There have been countless deaths in the world of sports, and although there have been many adjustments made over the past century, things just happen. It's a terrible thing to see, and you can do however you want in order to move on from the terrible incidents, but there's no way that serious injury and death can be avoided in athletics. The human body is a wonderful thing, but there are just times where it breaks down and can't move on any further regardless of training and conditioning.

In the case of Caleb Moore and the death of snowboarder Sarah Burke from last year's post, these young athletes died doing what they loved. It wasn't as if they had committed suicide or had died in a car accident. They died practicing and displaying their talent. Unfortunately, accidents happen. It's a very depressing topic, but this is something that we should reflect on and use as an example that nobody is invincible, no matter how talented or well-conditioned they are. We can protect however much we want, but something like injury and death is something that can never truly be avoided.


The Bernard Pollard article can be read here.

Here's to 200 more posts in the future.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The 2013 World Baseball Classic - Are You Still On The Fence?

It's almost like the Little League World Series, but bigger...
...And now quadrennial. 
(Look up the word, you fools.)

I remember writing on Twitter at some point last year saying something along the lines of: "Are they ever doing the World Baseball Classic again?" I was probably one of the few people at the time that actually cared about it. I can't help it; I love baseball, and I thought that the World Baseball Classic was a really good idea. I'm not sure about everybody else's opinion on it, however.

After holding previous tournaments in 2006 and 2009, it was announced that it would be held every four years instead of the previous (and one-time) three-year gap between tournaments. Just like the national tournaments held all over the world every four years such as the FIFA World Cup (men and women), the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships (held annually), and many more, the WBC is hoping to grab enough attention this time around after having gained a decent amount of interest in the past.

Since the formatting has changed going from a three-year gap to a four, I feel as if it's lost some steam and a lot of people have forgotten about the whole concept. Heck, people may still be "on the fence" with the idea, so to speak. Sure, this would be only the third time it's being held, but it's pretty bad when a big baseball fan such as myself practically forgot about it until someone mentioned it to me a few weeks ago. It might be a much bigger deal outside of the United States, especially in Central America and Asia, but is it going to garner the same kind of fire here in North America?

It could, but then it might not.

Here are my reasons why it could:

1) It's during MLB Spring Training. - It would be an excellent alternative to watching general Spring Training games where you watch minor league guys that you may never ever see in the Major Leagues play and get spanked by the other team. In this case, you will see All-Star caliber players for Team USA. Plus, you'll see a bunch of your favorites play for their home countries AND get a geography/fun-fact lesson at the same time! Two birds with one stone, kids. When it comes to something like baseball, I would want to hit the ground running. I haven't watched real baseball in about three months. THREE. WHOLE. MONTHS. If a baseball fan like me wants it, we all want it.

2) Baseball isn't an Olympic sport anymore for now. - Since baseball was ousted from the Olympics after the Beijing Games in 2008, guys in the MLB minors and in other small countries really didn't have any overly huge event to represent their country. Teams in Europe have a continent-wide league (think the UEFA Champions League and Europa League for soccer) which is as close as you can possibly get to that. Of course you have the Winter Leagues down south and what have you, but it just isn't the same. There should be some love-of-country going on during this tournament that is sorely missed during the Olympics.
Also, on a side note, baseball in tournament form is something that is often unheard of considering the format of how certain leagues run. For example, Major League Baseball has a 162-game season where most teams play every day, whereas a European league may just play a 42-game season where they only play on the weekends. The endurance style is different among country's respective leagues, and the way the teams may handle playing in short spurts could differ from other respective leagues.

3)The usage of baseball fields all over the world is a unique concept. - One thing you may notice about a lot of the international sporting tournaments is that it's usually exclusive to one country or two neighboring countries (like the Poland/Ukraine duo in Euro 2012). In this case, you'll be seeing Pool Play occurring in Japan, the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Taiwan. These four countries aren't exactly close in proximity, either. It should give viewers a peek at the various venues around the world, and in some sports, you don't really get a glimpse because they often show the court or the pitch. Camera angles can give you the view of the dimensions of the field, and weird people like me normally find that stuff fascinating.
[Fun fact: I would want to go to Japan just to visit The Big Egg (Tokyo Dome) and see a baseball game.]

Those are some decent enough reasons why the WBC may fair out well this year.
However, there are reasons why this may not do as well here in North America or anywhere else.

1) It's hard enough to get the average (or uninformed) American to watch a sports tournament that isn't the Olympic Games or the NFL. - I'm serious. You'll have the die-hard baseball fans watching the World Baseball Classic and the faithful soccer fans watching the FIFA World Cup and other major Cups, but if you really had the time, would you watch these things if you didn't know who half of these people were? Exactly. People will watch the Olympics because it's the Olympics. People will watch and enjoy stuff like fencing and curling when they normally don't. When it comes to something like the World Baseball Classic, there isn't much more variety to it that will keep a person not normally interested in baseball interested in the idea.

2) Critics are prematurely whining and slamming the tournament because it could be the root of the blame for injuries before all international leagues begin their respective seasons. - This video is all I have to say about this:

The men on these teams signed up for this. I'm pretty sure they know what they're getting themselves into. Besides, there haven't been reports of any major injuries during this tournament in the past, so it's rather unlikely that something like this will start this year. However, the impact that the critics are making may make a dent in people's decisions on whether to actually watch the World Baseball Classic or not. Please. Real talk: It's not like it's being played in June, where there's the issue that an injury could affect a team's second half and ultimately their postseason chances.

3) Team USA has a mediocre record in tournament play. - If we could eliminate the past successes of the US Men's Basketball team and the US Women's Soccer team, we really don't have much else to be proud of when it comes to playing internationally. We do well and stuff, but not enough where we are always guaranteed to be Top 5 in something. It's just another one of those cases where a stereotypical person will go: "Won't some Asian team win this or something?" Sure, Japan has won the first two tournaments, but since we're technically a "superpower" in the world, the average American may expect us to win all of the time. It doesn't work like that, unfortunately.

Aside from these points that I have mentioned, there are also some things that countries are experimenting with that I found to be interesting for this:

For one, a lot of countries are actually using more homegrown talent this year that have strictly stayed in the country to play the game. The two most prominent examples of this new practice are Cuba and Japan. I guess that Japan wanted to give everyone a chance this year. Just kidding. I actually think that it's a good idea, especially since it's not just the idea of the country being represented, but you're also showcasing the ability of your country's baseball league as a whole. That's why you may actually see some issues that ensue with a team that has players that come from multiple leagues. Of course they practice before the tournament starts, but the chemistry may still be a little off at times.

There are also some more little things I learned and remembered while writing this post:
- Bruce Chen still exists. I keep forgetting that he pitches for the Kansas City Royals. I have a feeling that Royals fans forget that themselves.
- Andruw Jones is still playing baseball, but he's with the Nippon Leagues. I wouldn't exactly call that "selling out," but it certainly does make me scratch my head a little.
- Australia's Chris Snelling hasn't played on any league team since before the '09 World Baseball Classic, and that was with the Phillies (rarely used, just for the record).
- Barry Larkin is coaching Team Brazil. More power to him. A lot of the guys are MLB minor league guys, so they could learn a lot from a Hall of Fame guy like him.
- The Chinese Baseball League works in union with the Nippon League in Japan in sending guys there for additional training. With a young league like that, that's a really good idea. It's only a seven-team league, so they're still a bit shaky.
- Australia had a baseball league that started a little over 20 years ago but only lasted ten seasons. They were revitalized in 2009. (GOOD FER' YOU!)
- I keep wondering why there's a team for the Netherlands. Then I keep forgetting that they have Honkbal Hoofdklasse (good gravy) and it's the most well-built league in Europe. Plus, the roster includes people from the island of Curacao. There we go, Little League fans--there's your Curacao fix.
- Israel just missed qualifying for the tournament, but there's a nice touch on this team: Those who were non-Israeli citizens but were of Jewish heritage were eligible to play for the national team (i.e. Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler). That's pretty cool, in my opinion. Brad Ausmus, who is one of the most successful Jewish catchers to play for MLB, is their manager.

Even with the points I've made and the wealth of fun facts that I've possibly informed you of, here's the big question: Are we all still on the fence about the World Baseball Classic?
Grant it, even though the tournament was founded eight years ago, it's still a fairly new concept, and this is only the third time it's being held. Since it's not a consistent and annual thing to be reminded of in the United States like the Little League World Series, it might not be held in the memories of a lot of casual watchers that may think that this is a one-time thing. Since things are going to be contested differently this time around, things should be more memorable and the tournament could grow in popularity. That's what I'm hoping for, at least.

It's awesome to see that baseball is such a huge thing internationally; it's not just America's game anymore. I just hope people fall off the fence onto the right side and try to support it.

Just...give us some more good baseball. That would be nice.
Love, Baseball Fans


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Livestrong After The Fact - Why Hold It In?

I've already written about Lance Armstrong. What I really want to talk about is the sport of denial.

It took me a few days to mull this over in my head, most especially since there are so many psychological truths you have to think about and be philosophical about. It took me about five cups of tea to write something down about it, and I hope that it worked.

In a public age such as this, self-image is a very important thing to keep. If you want to be rich and famous, you have to live a good life in and out of the spotlight. However, there's a massive problem that comes from all of this: since one may be in the spotlight relatively often, it may often be difficult to keep secrets and keep one's private life out of the open. Some secrets may be 'TMI,' so to speak, but there are other juicy secrets and suspicions that may be the root of endless speculation and denial of truths.

Here is what begins the vicious cycle phenomenon of "skeletons in the closet." We have seen this issue most recently with Lance Armstrong's admittance of doping during his interview with Oprah Winfrey. After winning the Tour de France a record seven times and being the poster boy for the Livestrong movement, things began to fall apart once rumors rose of his usage of performance-enhancing drugs.
[Personally, I don't know why he had to break it to Oprah of all people, but that's just my opinion on the matter.]
Since Armstrong was then surrounded by controversy, he slowly fell into denial and began covering his tracks to maintain his public image. One example was that he stepped down from the Livestrong Foundation and broke off all ties. When the time came to, his titles were then stripped and he received a lifetime ban from cycling. Since everything was practically taken away from him, he had no choice but to speak out on the truth as the damage to his image had already been done.

Why did he wait so long? Did he think that the damage to his self-image would have been much lighter?

Whether you want to think this way or not, nobody is really going to forget that you were accused of cheating in some way. You start to begin thinking of why the person in question even takes part in illegal practices to begin with. They should know the risks, right? Sometimes they'll do it out of guilt, and then they hold it in. However, the main problem is that once they do the illegal practice, there's no "diplomatic immunity" of sorts even when one comes clean about the issue. Because the person had even made the decision to do it, there's no escape from the law and from the media on what he/she did. Regardless of what their careers held, they're not invincible.

One big example of this lack of invincibility is baseball player/manager Pete Rose. Back in the 70's and 80's, "Charlie Hustle" was a three-time World Series champ, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a Rookie of the Year and MVP award-winner, and also holds the all-time records for hits, games played, at-bats, and outs. In 1989, he was permanently ineligible from baseball when he was accused of betting on baseball. Needless to say, he denied the accusations while being deemed ineligible for Hall of Fame balloting. Fifteen years later, in 2004, he had finally admitted that he had bet on baseball and often for his team, the Reds. Despite his admitting of his questionable practices in the 1980's, he is still banned from baseball and is still not in the Hall of Fame. Even though he had a fantastic career as a player and as a manager, his work behind the scenes were uncouth in the eyes of front offices. While he is respected for his ability on the field, I wouldn't expect to see him in the Hall of Fame until long after he finally passes. In his case, it wasn't that the illegal practice affected his performance (like if he had taken a drug), which is why I think they may show him some compassion when he's in a pine box someday.

Being a part of something illegal and then denying any TRUE involvement isn't going to save you, either.

Being in denial of a rumor in front of audiences could be detrimental even when the rumor is proven to be false. It's the "guilty by association" effect, and since there was just an inkling of a discrepancy in someone's character, people may think that things may not always be as they seem. For example, there were numerous allegations beginning about ten years ago when the steroid scandal rocked Major League Baseball. Whomever looked suspiciously big or had incredible statistics were brought under question and had a hard time recovering from all of the verbal assaults from the media and baseball analysts. Whether they were guilty of steroid use or not, every accused man was well-established in their career or their hidden illegal practices. It was just a major monkey-wrench just thrown into everyone's business and just became the big pink elephant in the room. Nobody in baseball was safe from being accused in that age. Now we're dealing with people that were accused that are eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's just one big screwy thing because nobody wants to admit that they had been unfaithful in their (what were) illustrious careers.

There is no solution to these problems, and because of that I feel legitimately sorry for those who have made these terrible decision and are now facing the consequences. We are never going to truly find out why people insist on holding in secrets that may either break them or completely destroy their careers. Issues like these can either be good press toward an underlying issue throughout a sport or it can be extremely bad for the athlete currently in hot water. I can understand why people would wish to remain silent, as they are trying to protect their family or their team, but in the end it's all at their own expense and their suffering. Again, it all starts with the person that insists on keeping the secret. It all started with a bad decision. It continued with Big Brother practicing karma. It ends with a major loss of respect, image, and role-models in lives. With that said, how could one live with themselves after the fact?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Mind is a Creative Thing. Sabotage Isn't.

It's not very often that I do this, but dang it, I'm calling out the sports media outlets on this crap.

Yesterday, news broke about an alleged "hoax" that had occurred. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was a part of this story where his Stanford girlfriend Lennay Kakua, who had supposedly died of leukemia, never actually existed. While there are numerous speculations stating that there were various people that had set up this long-distance relationship between Te'o and Kakua, pictures were fabricated, and people and locations were faked.

And because of this, the media is blowing up over the whole situation.

People are calling Te'o crazy and idiotic for even falling for a trick like this, and they're even going so far as to speculating on whether Te'o was actually in on the hoax or not. The reason for that is there are conflicting reports saying that Te'o had actually met Kekua after a football game. However, there have been confirmations stating that there are no records of a woman named Lennay Kekua ever existing.
If I was confused while writing this, you know this is bad.
Alright, I understand that we need news, but do we have to do it and increase the level of confusion? Why are we making this bigger than it should be? It's a known fact that online relationships are a hot commodity at this time, and people can often be the victims of being bamboozled and fooled by idiots posing to be someone else. People get upset when a registered sex offender poses as a young boy to win an insecure girl over on the Internet, but it suddenly turns into a madhouse when it involves a well-known athlete. There probably is a slight difference between the two examples, but right now, I really don't feel like delving into the two separately.

What makes me shake my head is that sports media outlets are trying to put a sports-related spin on this. They're trying to, but it's to no avail. This isn't a sports story--it's a story of general human interest. Just because it involves a college athlete doesn't mean you can put a relation of sports onto it. It's not like he was in a relationship with a nonexistent college field hockey player or a former cheerleader or something. This is just an all-too-common case of identity fraud, and Manti Te'o was acting in a completely human fashion over a character that can be identified with.

This is what makes social media such a dangerous tool. You can be anyone you want to be, and once you screw up, it almost becomes a federal case with the media, especially if you're a somebody in either the sports or entertainment world. I genuinely feel bad for Te'o. This is something that should just be handled by himself and the Notre Dame football crew (they apparently began this investigation, by the way). It doesn't need the media's help in blowing it up and sensationalizing it. The whole world doesn't need to know that he was a victim of this stuff. It was something that didn't exactly affect his game play (he didn't miss any games from the supposed "death"), and it's a hoax that is currently under investigation. Because the case is still under investigation, that means that there is no concrete information about the matter and nobody should be drawing conclusions about it. The media is going to do it anyway because they can, and as long as people listen to it, we're going to get so badly tangled in a rope of lies by the time the truth comes out.

Did we notice that I barely typed out a full-fledged story about what was going on? That is all we know right now. They fact that stories are being made up at Te'o's expense is horrendous and a pure example of sabotage of one's character and college career. Of course, the news broke on Deadspin, but what came from that was a widespread abuse of storytelling. People are gonna joke about it through pictures on Twitter and stuff, but it should just be left at that. Whatever is said is going to be joked about, but when it's sold as news, that's a whole other story. I'm not a fan of it.

Hopefully the stuff between Notre Dame and Manti Te'o is straightened out soon enough. Then, they can go find that person who started the hoax and let Te'o tackle the sucker.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Lingerie is Legendary. I Don't Get It.

I seriously can't believe I just wrote all of this. Just for the record, this is just a post where I'm literally messing around with the topic. If my writing is sloppy, that's not my problem. Plus, I don't mean to be funny here. It's just...a funny topic that I thought I'd try to write about. Plus, this is more along the lines of a PG-13 post. Virgin eyes, beware.

I'm well aware of the professional sport they have called the LFL--the Lingerie Football League. A lot of men are fans of it, and personally, I wouldn't want to be on the field with some of those women. They're deadly, and I obviously had enough of that crap with female athletes when I was a soccer goalie. Women are evil. Don't ever marry them, men. They do have the capability of killing you.

I'm not a man, so the reason why I'm talking about this is beyond me. Let's set things straight here: Never in my life would I think of writing about such an awkward branch of a popular sport. It isn't really televised during the day (from what I know you can find stuff online) and it's not public knowledge unless, well, you're a knowledgeable person who is "in with the times."

With that part said...

It has been announced recently that the LFL underwent a re-branding of sorts. Well, that's a fun idea. After expanding immensely over the past three years or so, they should be able to upgrade for the ladies' sakes, right? Well, I can't tell with this sort of an "re-branding."

In order to reach out to a larger audience, the first L in LFL got a rename: Legends.
Commence a squint of confusion toward the screen. Yes. They're replacing "Lingerie" and making it "Legends." What is so legendary about this league? That's where I'm scratching my head. To be honest, nothing I ever wore underneath my clothes could be considered to be of legendary status, but that's beside the point. Why not use Ladies? Isn't that the most logical word of choice there? I don't know, maybe they couldn't because someone out there has the rights to it, but still. It's understandable to change the name if you're going to market this stuff into Europe, Australia, and to the lesser-informed American people, but could you at least put an L there that makes more sense? That's just my opinion, y'know.

Secondly, they're not exactly wearing lingerie in the game anymore, hence the removal of Lingerie in the league name. The wearing of lingerie will be replaced by the wearing of "performance wear" and more refined shoulder pads to prevent injury.
Is that it? Really?
The last time I checked, the head, shoulders, elbows, and knees aren't the only things that can get hurt when you play legit tackle football. Plus, the last time I checked, this is football, and the women can get messed up pretty badly in this game. From the photos I've seen, they wear a little over half of what the men wear in the NFL. Heaven help you if you get crushed in the sternum with a helmet or something. But wait! You need to show cleavage! That's what the game is all about, right? Ugh.
Plus, the "performance wear" they speak of still resembles a bra and boyshorts. I'm sorry, that still counts as lingerie in my eyes. Even WWE's Divas back in the gritty era of 'rasslin' wore more than the ladies of the LFL do now. Speaking of, female wrestlers take just as much of a beating than the LFL athletes, and you can see the damage it does to the women in the long run. When it comes to a hard-hitting sport like football, you need to have protection. That alone is a life lesson, people.

Photo from: NBC Sports
Seriously...what are they looking at? Whatever it is, it looks like they wanna throw a stiletto at it.

When it comes to sports and sex appeal, I guess it could be a slippery slope. It's understandable that they want to focus more on the sport itself, but when you mix pancake batter a bit too much, it can really fall flat. Grant it, I'm pretty sure there isn't anything truly feminine about beating the living crap out of someone on a sports field, but hey, men like it anyway! I bet if they were out there in potato sacks, there would still be some sex appeal in that, right? There's my point: I don't think it matters what they wear, whether it be barely-there-performance-wear or full-on uniforms. Watching women do something in a man's world could make men of a certain age go nuts. For example, men still watched the US Women's Soccer team and still thought they were hot. Boom. Sports and sex appeal. Point made.

Amid my arguments, there is actually one thing I agreed with on their re-branding: they are redesigning any team logos that present "sexy" female silhouettes. I'm actually cool with that. Putting a silhouette of a possibly-naked woman on a logo isn't really marketable in sports. Honestly, it would make you look tacky and well...perverted.

In the past, the league has come under criticism for their campy style of play and their promotion of the league. Some women have even gone to the point of quitting the LFL because of cases of sexism and lack of pay. Frankly, I wouldn't blame them in a league where it has a really small following and is too high-risk for the pay they could have been getting. Aside from this, it sounds like the league has cleaned up their act, so to speak, over the past two years. If they really want to make this sport marketable outside of the country, they really have to make sure these women are getting the proper TLC they need.

We've been through the whole issue that women's professional sports have really fallen flat in the United States except for the WNBA, but hopefully their expansion in gaining interest outside of the country will help them boom. Of course, the amount they wear in the league will be taboo in many areas, but hopefully the good things will outweigh the bad in that. Heck, the LFL's "successes" thus far have almost looked like an oil rig spewing liquid gold because there are other guys making leagues based off of their ideals. The Bikini Basketball League was just founded last year (dear Lord) and there's also a Bikini Hockey League, which was meant to be the answer for men that were upset over the NHL lockout. There are no words for this.

If you don't mind, I really don't feel like talking about this anymore. I thought this would be fun, but now I almost feel kind of confused as to why these leagues exist. I almost blurted out "Oh my God, men are pigs" out loud twice, and that's pretty bad considering that there are probably many men that read this. Heck, you might have even liked that I wrote about it. I don't know. You can comment on this later thanking me or something.

Well, this was awkward. Hope you enjoyed the read.


Sources Used: (1, 2)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The NHL Rebirth - Is It Really "Too Little, Too Late?"

For most hockey fans, Sunday was practically the second coming of Christmas Day (or Hanukkah) as it was announced that the NHL owners and players had agreed to a new deal and they will begin their season (albeit shortened) very soon.

The hockey world looked like this when the news broke Sunday morning.
Like a bunch of Beatlemania fans.

A couple of days after the fact, I will admit that I am very happy for the NHL players that were wanting this season to start. I'm more than certain that they were getting rather irritated that the talks had begun right after last season's Stanley Cup Finals and a real deal couldn't be reached until recently. It must have been an unnecessary hassle to find a way to stay in shape at last minute. Some men played in Europe and Russia, and others stayed home to train with minor league affiliates and/or help their fellow player representatives to fight for a deal. After a four-month lockout, the players are willing to take any kind of season whatsoever. The fans are ready and willing to do the same.

Here's my issue on this: Is it really worth it now?

It's almost as if the damage has been done in many ways. Of course, we can all be thankful that the season wasn't canceled and such, but it seems like the NHL has yet again lost a lot of steam after what had happened last year. A lot of money has been lost in revenue in the areas of ticket sales and advertisements, and although they're going on with barely half of a season, I don't think it will gain enough momentum to help the NHL regain ground lost over the past four months. While I don't necessarily think it's "too little, too late," there's going to be a lot of explaining and fixing up to do.

Why do I think this way? It's kind of easy.
Hockey is one of those sports in the United States of 'Merica that isn't exactly as mainstream (for the lack of a better term) as they come. I remember when the NFL started their lockout a few years ago and once they started canceling preseason games so many people were about ready to wet their pants and cry for days if they couldn't reach a deal by the time Week 1 rolled around. Truth be told, they "cut the flow" to say the least. It's like you're waiting for a season premiere of your favorite show and then you see Breaking News about a cops chasing a white Bronco show up on your TV screen. It just ruins stuff for you. You have so much hype and then it gets cut off. People will get frustrated at it. Although there's the relief that something has returned, half of your stomach is missing from all of the ulcers that showed up when the debacle first started occurring. And to be frank, you don't ever want to put up with it again. Unfortunately for some people, this is the second time we've put up with it in about eight years. And we're obviously still upset about it.
This was my face when the NHL lockout started and I had nothing to write about.
My second reason is the steep curve in momentum when the season gets started. Once the honeymoon phase of the season ends, that fire has to catch on to the casual watcher, and that's when you rake in the ratings and infect that audience with the excitement of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When the NBA was in a lockout last season, it took them quite a while to get started. A lot of the teams weren't in the best of shape, and a lot of interest was lost until the NBA Playoffs came around. Believe me, I tried getting into the season last year and it just wasn't happening. The fact that the Heat finally won something didn't come as any shock to me either, but that's okay; it's sports and entertainment, after all. While the NBA has a raging fanbase in various sections of the country, it failed to gain the casual watchers and failed to get positive results from a CBA ratification. Now that it's a new season, they're in good spirits again. Hopefully the NHL can follow suit.

It isn't necessarily too late, but I just hope that all the stops are pulled out when it comes to the official restart of the NHL 2012-2013 season. It's great to see it back, but now that there's the possibility of the lack of damage control and issues involving re-acquisition of full team rosters after the fine-tuning of the CBA that could prove to be a problem. Hopefully the teams and owners are going to be smarter this time around and learn to play nice. It was bad enough that there was the stigma that "the rich will be richer and the poor will get poorer" around this time--can we not put up with that again? The league was hurt enough because of this crap. We all want some hockey this Spring, and it better be meaningful.

Cheers to the season, NHL.


[Side Note: I feel like the Toronto Maple Leafs had an "Oh S--- Moment" once the deal was made. They went and fired their GM this week and apparently made national headlines with it. I guess they don't want to be as terrible this year as they have been in recent time. Ha ha ha.]

Sunday, January 6, 2013

AZ's Slant on Sunday - Johnny (Title) and his Flying Football

For those outside of the sports realm, you may not be very familiar with the one they call "Johnny Football." Don't worry, his first name really isn't Football, you silly person, it's Manziel. He's this boy born and raised in Texas, and he loved to play football in the house with his dad. While he played many more sports as a youth, he was noticed more for his talent in football. Many practices and games later, here we are...

Photo from: ESPN
Aww. Don't you just want to pinch his cheeks?

Last month, Manziel was awarded the Heisman Trophy, which is technically the MVP award in NCAA Football. This award made him the first man to ever receive the Trophy as a freshman. I have a serious feeling that when this happened, most college upperclassmen around the country questioned what they were doing with their lives. No really, you had this guy who was 19 at the time being one of the best quarterbacks Texas A&M had ever seen. When I was 19 I was uhh...roughing out my Public Relations courses and attempting to make it big in my school's drama club just creating this blog and waiting for magic to happen. This boy had accomplished such a feat so quickly that aptly named "Johnny Heisman" was becoming quite the household name in college football cultures across the country. I think, regardless of how modest one is, could be slightly overwhelmed by all of the sudden accolades.

Oh, we're not done with the showcase yet. On Friday, he and the Aggies crushed the Oklahoma Sooners 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl. This guy is a big deal. Almost seen as a prodigy by many sports critics, things could only get shinier in this guy's future.

Of course, with all of this going on, there is trouble in paradise. There are many naysayers that are practically going out of their way to debunk the incredible season that Manziel has had. The one statement I have seen floating around the Internet is, well...
I'll be blunt on this:
He'll be a total bust in the NFL. 
What they were getting around to saying was that there's a possibility that he would be the next Vinny Testaverde. [Yeah I went there.]

Here's my take on it:

Firstly, the kid is the ripe old age of 20. Manziel has plenty of room to grow into the art and become an even more fierce quarterback. Think about it: Tim Tebow wasn't a college senior when he won the Heisman Trophy, and he still grew into one of the most underrated (and underused) quarterbacks in the NFL. Of course, everyone progresses at different levels, but a lot of stuff could change in a positive way for Johnny. There are also quarterbacks out there like Peyton Manning and Brett Favre that didn't have the best of rookie seasons and ended up laying out Hall-of-Fame statistics after that. Let's not throw rocks at people so quickly.

Secondly, who in their right mind plays the fortune teller? Especially in football? Sure, the NFL is a completely different monster than the NCAA world, but you also have to consider the mentality of a football player in transitioning from college to "the real world." There's also the benefit of having other players around you that support your talent level and may actually make you look better than you may seem. Football isn't always a one-man effort. If you have half of a brain you should see it and know about how that works week in and week out.

In other news, I'm completely shocked that nobody has taken his social faux pas from a few months ago that involved him being arrested and charged with several misdemeanors including disorderly conduct. While it's all straightened out now, he has a tainted record and people are going to be nitpicky and says crude things about him just as some extra ammo. I just think it's a human being a human and it'll be unfortunate if critics hold this speed bump against him.

Basically, people are calling his status in the NFL way too flippin' early at this point. Even if there's that magical chance that he gets drafted in a few months (that is, if he enters), there's a chance that he'll turn it down, finish off at A&M, and re-enter the draft a la Bo Jackson. Bless him if he gets drafted, but at this point in the NFL, there are plenty of quarterbacks that are healthy and still kicking in good shape so there's the chance that he may not even make it as a second-string quarterback. Let him flourish at the NCAA level and see if there are any possible openings for this kid as a first-rounder. He's too fun to watch to see him sit on the bench and have everyone call him overrated for not making at difference on an NFL team.

Until then, he's just going to flaunt around in his glory and pick up loads of chicks. Isn't that what most college guys do? I wouldn't know.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The NFL Postseason Slant for 2012-2013 - THIS. LEAGUE-IS-ON-FIYAAAAA

I don't know about you, but I think that statement alone explains the entire NFL season. Between bountygate, replacement refs, awkward suspensions, and more firings than in the 'hood, this was the craziest season of American Football yet.

In what I like to call "The Year of the Rookie," we have a lot of new faces in charge of these playoff teams, and that's an absolute breath of fresh air for the league. It's almost as if the game is evolving right before our eyes; we have some future legends in these packs and it's going to be a fun playoff run for many of these guys. But--will the returning veterans spank them with the big hands of experience? We're just going to have to find out this month.

Ladies and gentlemen...your 2013 NFL Postseason Slant, brought to you by AnimaniacZero.


East Division - New England Patriots (12-4) - In the three years that I've done this (Wow, three already? Geez.) this is the third time I've had to write about these guys in this slot for the NFL playoffs. Simply put, they're doing what they do best. In fact, in the third time that I'm writing this, they're actually more well-rounded this year than in years past. I understand that statistics alone won't mean they're a shoo-in for the Super Bowl, but they're always an excellent threat on offense. If they play another offensive powerhouse at any point during this postseason, it's going to be a heck of a match.

North Division - Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - While they haven't exactly had the smoothest of seasons, they still had what it took to hold their ground in the division and keep the top spot. I never thought I'd say this, but Joe Flacco does get better with each passing year (see what I did there) and is coming into his own as a threat. However, the secondary needs a dose of confidence and health in the playoffs, or they're gonna have a bad time. Hopefully their lack of a decent second half of the season won't be a factor in their first playoff game.

South Division - Houston Texans (12-4) - Although they've looked rather sleepy over the past month, this may have just been a ruse to keep from burning out too quickly. Hopefully it doesn't cause them to not wake up during the fourth quarter of their next game. They've won the games that matter most, and Matt Schaub and Arian Foster have been doing their jobs thus far. The defense will need to stay tough in an offensive-heavy conference. All they need to do is play simple, textbook football with no jitters this time around and we could possibly see them at the big dance.

West Division - Denver Broncos (13-3) - Somewhere, John Elway is doing a happy dance in front of a mirror in his underwear. Sorry for the imagery. With that said, these guys look like the Broncos of the late-90's, with comeback kid man Peyton Manning in the pocket and the rebirth of a powerful defensive line. While there wasn't much of a competition in their Division, they'll certainly get some here. With a first-round bye, they should have time to fine-tune their weak points and do better than what Tim Tebow did last year make it to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1998.  They're a force as the top seed in the AFC, but they shouldn't take the lower-seeded teams lightly in the least bit.

AFC Wild Card
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) - How do you like that? Since their bye week they had went 6-3 and made excellent showings as well. However, they need to keep fresh and healthy if they want to make it out of the first round. The defense is strong enough, but is Andy Dalton trusting enough in his squad? Do they even trust him enough? We'll find out this weekend.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Aww yaaaaaaaay. After [literally] the season from hell last year, they've shown that there is a lot of promise in this team. Their first round pick in Andrew Luck has been a blessing in disguise for them, and the fire and grit of returning Chuck Pagano should garner enough momentum for the team the world over. It'd be nice to see these guys show their true colors. They deserve it.


East Division - Washington Redskins (10-6) - Wait for it... Aww yaaaaaaay! Here's another team that has been in the mud the past few years, and with the addition of new faces, we have a playoff contender! Things looked pretty bleak for these dudes during my Midseason Slant, but after winning seven straight to end the season, holy cow we've got something to watch here. Although RG3 is still somewhat nursing his knee, we're going to see some more bags of tricks coming from these guys. I won't lie, I'm excited for this one.

North Division - Green Bay Packers (11-5) - Although the fire of the past couple of years isn't exactly as bright as it once was, that shouldn't be an entirely big deal here. The playoffs are a totally different monster, and these guys have been here before. Let's just hope that the shaky offensive line can hold up for Aaron Rodgers. Some of their games have looked like clinics, but others looked a bit ugly. The Packs have the capability to make it out alive, but they just need to regain that mojo that has made them so legendary over the past several years.

South Division - Atlanta Falcons (13-3) - Nice. They have to bring it this year. They've been here many times over the past several years, and after choking and coming up empty-handed, both sides of the ball look absolutely hungry. While the pass offense is the biggest strength of this team, the Falcons will have to work as a massive team unit in order to make it to the big game. They've come up short a bit too often and they need to get back to a lofty spot in the NFL. Hopefully the home-field advantage will work the wonders that are needed.

West Division - San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) - I had to bold the one...that just looks awkward there. Anyway, this team's offense looks a lot less shaky than it did last year. With a more-confident Alex Smith and an impressive first showing of Colin Kaepernick, there may actually be hope in this team. The defense...well you should already know that they're awesome. Plus, you have Dave Akers. You just don't mess with that foot. Anyway, they're obviously going to be a defensive threat, and if the force is strong with Frank Gore in RB, we'll see some fun stuff from the Niners this postseason.

NFC Wild Card
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) - After a moderate second half, they're riding the momentum of upset. After doing slightly better in the NFC North than the Chicago Bears, we're going to see some underrated talent [Not including Adrian Peterson--he's just legendary] on the offense and the strengthening defense. Although people think that Christian Ponder is not the best QB in the world, he's not as bad as everyone makes him out to be. Regardless, his lead in the pocket will be the deciding factor.
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) - Yes and yes. These guys have one of the most underrated offenses and one of the best defenses in place. We've seen their powers of shocking the opposition in the past, and just like before, they should not be counted out in the least bit. Marshawn Lynch will definitely be the man to watch on offense, as he has the capability to burn through the best of defenses. Hopefully the first time jitters for some of the men on this squad won't take place. They have the talent--let's see it at work.


That about does it for me. It was a heck of an NFL season filled with hair-pulling and twists. If you want to know my predictions (as well as Andrew's) on the upcoming playoff games, check us out on and see what we think. Our predictions will be posted sometime this weekend (preferably Saturday night) so check it out!

For the ones who have followed me since the very beginning, thanks for reading along after all this time. Like I said earlier, this is the third time I've done this, and I've only followed the NFL closely as long as that. I feel like I'm gaining more knowledge about the league and the players each and every time I do this. It feels pretty good. Thanks for your patience and all. ;-)