Category Archives: the sporting life

dallas cowboys 1, hate 0

Today’s question: can you really dub yourself “The National Evil” if you can’t hate worth a damn?

I was forced to ponder this while watching the ramp-up to the NFC Divisional Playoff Game (now there’s a ponderous title) pitting the Minnesota Vikings against the hated Dallas Cowboys. (Note: Evil’s loathing for the Cowboys is documented here. And in hundreds of journal pages ye shall never read.)

As game time approached, I noticed I wasn’t as disgusted by ESPN’s fawning Cowboy coverage as I always had been. And once the game began, I realized with the distressing lack of a sinking feeling that the furnace of fury in my soul had failed to sputter to life and direct raw, unfettered hatred Dallas-ways.

Apparently I don’t hate the Cowboys anymore. This after lambasting them less than 24 hours before game time. And I don’t know why.

It’s not as if my heart grew three sizes while watching the game. I don’t suddenly heart the Cowboys. It’s just that I no longer spleen them.

I suppose my feelings for them can best be personified in the form of their coach, Wade Phillips, a good-natured, doughy potato-sack of a man. He looks like he should be squinting at your power meter outside your house and relating unasked-for fishing anecdotes to all comers. You can’t hate that guy.

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what the brits can teach us about sports

hooligan

Evil isn’t much of a basketball fan, and I’ve never been to Britain. But I am a fan of cultural collisions (so long as they fall into the “comedic” and not “genocidal” category). Thus, I was pleased to stumble on this article in BusinessWeek describing the NBA’s sly horning-in on the British sports fan’s loyalty, presumably while mean ol’ football hooligan isn’t looking. Maybe he’s puking in the alley behind the pub?

Anywho, what’s interesting about this article isn’t the subject matter. It’s the perspective. Because this piece wasn’t written by an American, but by a British journalist for a British audience that knows squat about basketball. So naturally he drops familiar words and phrases into his descriptions—the same way an American journalist would describe the pitch as the “field” and the side as the “team.” And the hooligans as “soccer moms.” And that’s how you get bloody delightful descriptions such as:

Luol Deng, the Sudan-born Briton, has made a break and gained the best part of five metres on the Jazz defence […]

“The best part of five metres.” Love it.

Even better is this gem:

Overseas pre-season friendlies such as the Bulls-Jazz game, which Deng’s team won by a single point right at the death, is a key part of this.

Why don’t we call preseason games “friendlies?” And more importantly (and more topical for a blog called the National Evil) . . . why in the bloody hell don’t we call the end of a game THE DEATH?!

I think we can all agree that “at the death” is infinitely cooler than “at the buzzer,” “at the bell,” or, for Evil’s sake, “at the end of regulation.”

Enjoy the weekend. If possible, stage a pre-season friendly with someone you care about. Just be discreet.

the national evil guide to picking an NFL team to love (or hate)

nfl_logo

College football’s stodgy, Brooks-Brothers-of-sports big brother, the NFL, returns tonight. This is a league that fines its own players if their socks aren’t worn at the correct height, yet it is overwhelmingly the most popular sport in America. (Please refrain from forging agonized metaphors for what this says about our society.)

But what if you live in, say, Idaho? For whom do you root? Or just emigrated here from Cuba atop a milk-carton raft? You want to weave yourself fully into the fabric of Americana—but how?

Not by playing fantasy football, that’s for sure.

Herewith, a painfully simple guide for the football newbie. The National Evil offers up five worthy teams you can adopt wholeheartedly, plus a few mindless talking points you can bellow at anyone who questions the reason for your loyalty. As a bonus, Evil offers you a team to hate as well.

5 Teams You Can Root For (And Why):

Chicago Bears: They play outdoors! In Chicago! Da Bears, Ditka, great SNL sketches. The Super Bowl Shuffle. Walter Fucking Payton. (Say it that way. Don’t flinch.)

Green Bay Packers: They play outdoors! In Wisconsin! Lambeau Field. Lombardi. Only team owned by the fans, not some billionaire.

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as college football returns, evil exposes the lie that is the playoff

college+football

At long last, college football is once again upon us. The only thing darkening this otherwise perfect day is the shadow of what is to come . . . which is to say, incessant bemoaning of college ball’s lack of a playoff. The horror of the BCS. You’ve been there. Chances are, you’re one of the people bitching about this right now.

Enter the Evil, who is here today to take a stand against the abomination of playoffs.

As one who wallows in chaos, I liked college football just fine before the BCS. Who cares if the “top” two teams play each other at the end of the year? What’s wrong with a split championship? Michiganders and Nebraskaganders still argue to this day over who would’ve won had they played each other in ’97 rather than splitting the title. Same with Nebraskaganders and Penn Stateganders, 1994 editions. Split titles allow us to debate which group is comprised of the more ignorant and unworthy sons of bitches—the journalists who screw up the AP poll or the jocks who botch the coaches poll.

But more than that, what gets me is this notion that playoffs actually determine the best team out there. Do you honestly believe the Superbowl proved the 18-1 Patriots weren’t the best NFL team of 2007? I say this as someone who reveled in watching Tom Brady being crushed to the turf again and again by the Giants’ D-line. But if they’d played ten times, and Vegas set the over/under at 8 wins for the Pats, you’d’ve bet the over.

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baseball, the outfield, and utilitarian sex talk

Angels_in_the_Outfield_Poster

Whilst attending the Braves game last Saturday (vs. the Brewers, or as FOE Billy dubbed it, “Old Milwaukee vs. Milwaukee’s Best”), something strange, pathetic, and awful happened:

Bottomadaninth, two outs, second baseman Kelly Johnson strides to the plate . . . and over the loudspeakers, what song doth blare? “Your Love” by the Outfield. You know: “I don’t wanna lose your love . . . to-niiiiii-iiiight/I just wanna use your love . . . to-niiiii-iiiight.”

Huh?

Some players choose menacing metal intro songs: “Enter Sandman” for Trevor Hoffman, “Crazy Train” for Chipper Jones. Others choose something rhythmic and pounding from the current hip-hop canon.

But “Your Love” by the Outfield? Has anyone heard a worse walk-up song? Ever?

We were stunned—prevented from laughing only by the disbelieving pity constricting our throats. We rationalized what was happening: maybe it wasn’t Kelly Johnson’s chosen song. Maybe “Your Love” was only playing because it was the bottom of the ninth, and the Braves didn’t want to lose . . . to-niiiii-iiiight.

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john madden asks: which muppet would you get drunk with?

John Madden announced his retirement today, retroactive to five years ago. Zing!

You know you’re a figure of unique American eminence when you’ve had an indelible impact on popular culture for so long that all the jokes at your expense have been exhausted. Yes, one could poke fun at his onscreen scribblings, the incoherent rants of his later years, or how he has come to resemble an aging, alcoholic Muppet.

madden-vs-sam

But why? A thousand “comical” sports writers will no doubt spend today pecking away at “humorous” homages to the man. And you can be damn sure Madden has a Letterman “Top 10” list coming. Which will be exactly as funny as anything David Letterman has said in the past 15 years.

No . . . what Madden’s retirement really does is bring one crucial question to light: Which Muppet would you most want to get drunk with?

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in the mountains of march madness

march-madness

Check out Freaking News for more such photoshoppe-ry.

The NCAA Tournament is upon us: March Madness, that time of year described alternately as America’s Great Gambling Holiday or America’s Second-Favorite Sporting Even Next To The Superbowl. Over the next few weeks, if you’re paying attention, you will encounter dozens of paeans to, pseudophilosophical essays about, and analyses of work hours wasted due to the Field of 64.

As such, here’s the Evil’s:

Evil entered his very first March Madness Pool during his freshman year of college, competing against the guys in the dorm. After the opening round, Evil had surged ahead thanks to his picking a stunning upset on the grounds that he really liked the name of the much-lower-seeded school. (Sadly, Evil can’t recall the name of said school, but it probably hailed from the Missouri Valley or the Patriot League or some other microconference.)

Evil’s mistake? He cheerfully admitted he had absolutely nothing, you know, factual, on which to base his pick of Goofyname State. And verily did the scorn rain down upon the Evil, scorn he couldn’t understand. It wasn’t as if any of the guys in the dorm watched college hoops to a state of exhaustion; Evil would bet that he watched at least as many NCAA games as most of his competitors. We were 18, we were guys, of course we watched sports—or at least had sports on as the background noise in our dorm rooms. The fact that Evil’s dormies failed to pick Goofyname State didn’t indicate a deeper grasp on their part of the 1995 basketball season. In all probability it just meant the random upsets they’d picked hadn’t panned out.
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