Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
One of the few areas where animals are superior to people is their inability to be duplicitous, petty, or outright cruel. Just as one should never be cruel to an animal, one should also never be cruel to another human. On the internet, it's often very easy to fall into a trap where you forget that, no matter how misguided, wrong, annoying, crude, vulgar, vain, or just weird, words seem on the computer monitor; there is actually a real, breathing human being staring at another monitor at words they've written. Those words may have been written in jest, in rage, in fear, in malice, or even in an attempt to ease some crushing loneliness. I have fallen into that trap before, and upon reflection, I dishonored myself by behaving as I have in some instances. The internet, and especially the blogsphere, should be a marketplace for the free exchange of ideas. Attacking bad ideas is good, and is necessary for the intellectual growth of not only the person making the remarks, but the person to whom the remarks have been made. There's even some merit to exposing the idiocy of others, as they may be unaware that they are so completely wrong. However, it's equally important to steer clear of the line that separates confronting ideas and within reason the people who have them. Attacking innocent bystanders and/or preying on their weaknesses for petty amusement is something that should never be done.
One of my links to the left is a site called Petty Rage. Me? I've done that in the past, and gotten most of it out of my system. Now, I'm more interested in trying to find some order in the beautiful, wonderful and sometimes scary chaos that is life.
The following applies to all leagues in the English system: A win is 3 points in the standings; a draw, 1; and a loss gets a team nothing. If two or more teams are tied, they go to goal difference, and after that, I honestly don't know, though it rarely goes beyond that first tiebreaker. The English Premier League has 20 teams, with the bottom 3 teams being relegated to the Football Championship League at the end of each season. Each team plays each other twice, once at home, and once away, for a total of 38 league games per team per season. There are 24 teams each in the Football Championship League (3 relegated teams), Football League 1 (4 relegated teams), and Football League 2 (2 relegated teams). In each of these lower leagues, the top performing teams in the lower leagues are automatically promoted to the next highest league until all but one promotion slot is filled. The last promotion slot is determined by a playoff of the top 4 teams that did not get an automatic promotion. In addition, in all leagues in the English football system, teams may lose points in the standings and even face expulsion from that level of play for the most serious infractions
The two teams that are relegated from the Football League 2 are removed to the Football Conference, with all divisions having 22 teams each. The winner of the Football Conference is promoted to take one team's place, with the other promotion being determined by a playoff of the 2nd through 5th teams. The bottom 3 teams are relegated to two coequal divisions, the Football Conference North or Football Conference South based on geography. The winners of each division are promoted automatically, with a playoff among the 2nd through 5th teams of both the FC North and FC South, with the 3rd and final promotion spot being decided by the winners of the North and the South promotion playoffs. 3 teams from both the FC North and the FC South are relegated to one of three still lower leagues (the Isthmian League, Southern League, and Northern Premier League), each of which also has lower divisions, with the lowest division of each drawing from the various Feeder Leagues.
At the end of the 2004-2005 EPL season, there were four teams that were vying for the final survival spot: Norwich City (33 p, -29 GD), Southampton (32 p, -20 GD), Crystal Palace (32 p, -21 GD), and West Bromwich Albion (31 p, -27 GD). If Norwich City won, it didn't matter what the other three teams did because they'd all be relegated. If Southampton and Crystal Palace won, and Norwich City did no better than a draw, it would go to Goal Difference, but if only one of them won, they would automatically win the last survival spot. The only way West Bromwich Albion would ensure their survival is if the other three teams did no better than a draw. This was the atmosphere at four stadia in the English Premier League on Closing Day, May 15. All games started at the same time, 1500 local, so no one had an advantage knowing exactly what they had to do to survive. Everyone had all but written off WBA far earlier in the season, everyone, that is, except themselves. So here's how it went down: Norwich City got destroyed by Fulham 6-0. Southampton lost 2-1 to the heavily favored Manchester United (3rd in the league, 77 p, +32 GD). Crystal Palace scored a 2-2 draw against Charlton Athletic. And then, there was WBA, the team that had been the laughing stock of the Prem. Shocking everyone except themselves, they won 2-0 over Portsmouth, and at the end of the match, stood still waiting for word on the other matches. Slowly, as the word trickled through the stadium, there was this huge roar, people hugging strangers, tears flowing, and fans rushing onto the pitch as they learned that their team would be in England's top flight next year. I doubt the energy, the emotion, was any greater when Chelsea clinched their first Premiership trophy in 50 years than it was in that stadium that afternoon.
Can you imagine what it would be like if that were the way it is in all of the US/Canadian top flight sports? This is what I would like to see in our sports, where every game and every fan is considered immensely valuable and important. But, alas, I don't think I'll ever see it in my lifetime. Still, I've been wrong before, and I've only rarely wanted so badly to be wrong. Is anybody with me?
Monday, June 27, 2005
I really hate to admit it (okay, not really), but I'm all but dancing with a near-manic glee at the situation John Rocker finds himself in. He has now been waived from a team that, to my understanding, is so far removed from the major leagues for which he once pitched that the officials look to high school baseball game attendance rates with envy. He managed to amass an 0-2 record in only 18 IP in 23 games, and a 6.50 ERA in one of the lowest leagues in all of baseball. Rocker, a man who once insulted gays, foreigners, and minorities in NEW YORK CITY during a minor, unimportant set of games known as THE WORLD SERIES, is finally exiting stage left (or in his case, far-right). Pardon me while I fiddle as his career burns. And no, I'm not having a seizure. I'm just that uncoordinated.
But as I've said from time to time, things occur in cycles. Where there is death (in this case metaphorical), there's also life, rebirth. A new asshole has risen to take John Rocker's place. In case you've been in a coma for the last year or two, in the 2004-2005 season, the NHL did what no other North American major league has ever done before: Lost an entire season due to a labor dispute. The expected and honorable response by both the players and the owners would be pennance, expressions of deep sorrow and regret, or put simply, grovelling. But Jeremy Roenick has decided to take a different track. In a profanity-laden outburst, he encouraged people who believe the lockout was about players' greed to stay home and not watch the games. He's provided this "advice" although the television ratings place them 4th among major sports in the U.S. and Canada, well behind the NBA, NFL, and MLB. Furthermore, he accused the fans who called him and the other players "spoiled", who, ultimately write his pay check, "jealous". As a fan, Mr. Roenick, I can say without any reservation that I am not and will never be jealous of your spoiled ass. I'M PISSED OFF!!! I'm so pissed off at both the NHLPA and the NHL owners for, while realizing they were at the lip of the waterfall, decided that the proper course of action was to angrily argue with each other over the placement of artwork in the rooms instead of reversing course and averting disaster. That was a year that was entirely wasted, a year the fans and the players will never be able to get back, a year that could have had some of the greatest games in the history of hockey or at least given rise to new stars, but instead was nothing. And for what? For millionaires to argue with billionaires? For fans to resort to AAA leagues to get their hockey fix and realize that what they've really been missing are teams that play for the love of the game? Mr. Roenick, your compatriots should be deeply ashamed of themselves, but you have proven that you have no place in the game at all. So retire, and I hope the league uses this opportunity to ban you for life unless you make a REALLY good apology. I don't want "I'm sorry if people were offended." I want deep, true pennance, and tears would be nice, and then, MAYBE, you should be accepted back in the league on a trial basis and under the auspices of a one-strike-your-out policy.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Arlene is not projected to even approach that intensity. Yet, Jim Cantore, probably at the behest of his bosses or at the very least without their disapproval, is playing up the drama. So the next time an Ivan, or a Hugo, or an Andrew, or any of a number of nightmares to have hit over the years, heads our way, some people will remember this and not take appropriate precautions. Thank you, Weather Channel. It is my sincerest hope that your grab for ratings doesn’t cost lives down the road.