Yep, It Was A Great Play.

I’ve watched it many, many times; the Keenum to Diggs pass that made decades of Minnesota sports fandom suck just a little less.

Or so I’m told.  I’m just counting down ’til pitchers and catchers report, honestly.  But while I think I’ve watched less than a half-dozen NFL games from the opening gun to the checkered flag since the greatest game of all time (the 1985/86 Super Bowl, pbui), I did manage to catch the last six playing / forty actual minutes of Sunday mights division final.

And the the pass, with :10 on the clock, was one of those things like Jack Morris’ seventh game and Kirby Puickett’s homer in game six (I don’t have to go into more detail, do I?  Exactly) that even casual fans will be talking about for decades:

So – great play.  Amazing.

But even with all of that – there are some people out there to whom I just want to say “Dude, yoiu take this stuff way too seriously“.

Baited, Switched

A long time ago, in a beautiful but cold place far far away, a communist dictator built a colosseum.  Being committed to the populist flim-flam most totalitarians use to get help in seizing power, he named it “The People’s Stadium” – although “the people” only got to use it with the permission of the dictator’s cronies.

And the dictator built a train – “The Peoples’ Train” – to bring people from the miserable, decaying, crime-sodden cities to The People’s Stadium.

The dictator and his cronies planned a massive rally to celebrate their power and perspicacity; the entire world’s media would be there to see the dictator’s work.

And the dictator worried: while he put on a slick facade for the foreign press, some of the locals were unruly, and parts o the city were falling apart.

So the dictator took steps to make sure The People wouldn’t screw up The People’s  Event at the People’s Stadium before the eyes of the world.  First, he barred The Hoi Polloi from the Peoples’ Train, to make sure they’d never encounter foreign visitors.

And then, to take no chances, he deployed his Army in the People’s City, to make sure the locals stayed in line.

Minneapolis officials are calling on Gov. Mark Dayton to mobilize the state National Guard for the Super Bowl, amid questions about whether the city’s police force has enough officers to effectively patrol neighborhoods and handle other demands.

Even with dozens of departments across the state pledging to send officers to help with security, Mayor Betsy Hodges and mayor-elect Jacob Frey wrote in a letter on Tuesday that the city’s police “cannot by themselves meet of all the safety and security needs of the 10 days of Super Bowl LII while maintaining public-safety operations for the entire city.”

When I wrote my book Trulbert:  A Comic Novella ab out the End of the World as We Know It, I wrote the scene in which a thinly disguised Roger Goodell-type NFL commissioner exacted concessions out of Minneapolis’ dictator, Myron Ilktost, to be as over the top as I could imagine; a complete NFL takeover of all civic resources, free transportation, prostitutes, whatever the NFL wanted.  And when I went back and edited and re-wrote, I massaged it to make it even more over-the-top.   I was satisfied that real life could never imitate my fiction.

Kudos, Roger Gooddell and Mark Dayton.  You’ve proven me wrong.

Virtue Flagging

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Players continue to kneel for the national anthem so the NFL decided not to broadcast that part of the game.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?

No.  Fans aren’t stupid.  We can tell you’re trying to hide the ball and we know you’re doing it because you’re siding with the protesters against the fans, which annoys us even more.  Ratings are down another 5% from last week.

I suspect we’re going to get a new self-destructive behavior metaphor: kill the golden goose, cut off your nose to spite your face, hoist on your own petard, New Coke, shoot yourself in the foot, and soon: “pulling an NFL” meaning “driving away your own customers to prove how virtuous you are.”

Joe Doakes

They’re smarter than us, you know.

The Last Dinosaur

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Week 4, the NFL is in chaos of its own making.

The traditional way to show respect for the national anthem is to stand, face the flag, place your hand over your heart.  Doing anything else is a protest. Some players sit, some kneel, some give the Black Power salute, some link arms . . . doesn’t matter: if you’re not doing it right, you’re protesting. Television is trying to hide the protests from the viewers by skipping the anthem, cutting in late, but it’s not working.  Viewers notice.  Viewers get upset.  Why are they upset?

There are 168 hours in a week.  Your game is on for three of them.  We don’t tune in to learn your opinions on social policy, we tune to watch the team play football.  Don’t hijack my football game for your lecture; protest on your own time.

The AFL is gone.  The UFL is gone.  There’s no reason the NFL can’t go broke.  All you need to do is drive away enough customers.

Joe Doakes

I’m doing my part.

Dawn Of The Doakes: 1696

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There are 32 teams in the NFL and each team has a 53-man roster, for a total of 1,696 players in the NFL.

There are 15,588 college seniors who are eligible to be drafted from the NCAA to the NFL.  Add in a few more from other, non-NCAA schools, and we’re talking about 17,000 or a 1-in-10 ratio.  But most players last several years, which means that for every man that makes it into the NFL, many more don’t make the cut.  How many, I don’t know.  20?  30?  50?

What’s the qualitative difference between the guys who make it versus the guys who don’t?  Aside from the Heisman Trophy Winner, I’d bet it’s a razor-thin margin. Which means the NFL could afford to dump a powerful number of existing players to replace them with almost-as-good players, at least for a while.  Ever see the Keanau Reeves movie “Replacements?”  Like that.

Wouldn’t even have to do it.  Just threaten it.  Call in some of those replacements for tryouts.  Let the regulars know their replacements are warming up.  “See that line of guys out the door and down the block?  They all want your job.  How badly do YOU want your job?  If you are more interested in social justice antics than playing football . . . .”

Joe Doakes

 

A Tale Of Two Knees

SCENE:  Mitch BERG walks into Sluggo’s, a sports bar on University [1].  NFL games are on on six big-screen TVs around the room.  Around five, there are small, dilatory groups watching games.  Around one TV, though, there are a group of people crowded around; men in “Che Guevara” and “Don’t Park the Bus” t-shirts, a few younger women in similar attire, older women in “peasant” dresses.   BERG recognizes several people from the group:  Avery LIBRELLE, Moonbeam BIRKENSTOCK, Inge CARROLL, Edmund DUCHEY, Brian FURIOUS, Sol GALLIVAN, Gutterball GARY, Cat SCAT, Professor William KRIEPPI, Gretel STROMBERG, Betty Rae TORSTENGAARDSEN and other liberal activism / alt-media / blogging mainstays.

BERG:  So…uh, hey.  Watching some Football?

LIBRELLE:  Yes, Merg.  It’s the American pastime!

BERG:  (thinks about it, decides not to pursue the error).  Huh.  So all of…(points at the crowd, who seem to be staring, uncomprehending, at the screen)…you are football fans.

DUCHEY:  My whole life.  While you’ve been writing “Sh*t in the Park” (some of the other gathered liberals snicker) I’ve been watching the Vikings greats like Pele and Bill Havlicek.

BERG:  Huh.

(BERG looks, notices that the teams have not yet taken the field.  Suddenly, it dawns on him).

BERG:  So – you all remember Tim Tebow, right?

(General incomprehension breaks out.  Then Gutterball GARY chimes in).

GARY:  He is the Christianist who took a knee before games.

(General hissssssssssssing breaks out from the crowd)

CARROLL:  He hates women!

STROMBERG (sotto voce):  “womenandtheirchildren”

CARROLL:  (sotto voce right back)  What, ,you think women are defined by their children?

SCAT:  He was a racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, classist, Christianist… (trails off)

(CARROLL and STROMBERG continue to argue.  On the TV, the teams are coming out onto the field)

BERG:  So – Tim Tebow was all sorts of awful things because he exercised his First Amendment right to express his faith in public.

(Generalized booing and hissing).

FURIOUS:  Everybody shut up.  It’s starting.

SCAT:   Oooh, I love the suspense.

(The national anthem starts.  The camera pans over dozens of player taking knees.   FURIOUS and DUCHEY frantically note the names and numbers of players that remain standing.   Cheers break out throughout the crowd)

BERG:  So – NFL players  who take a knee over “social justice causes”…

TORSTENGAARDSEN:  Heroes speaking truth to power.

BERG:  While Tim Tebow…

BIRKENSTOCK:  Racist sexist classist ableist cisgenderist Nazi who is literally Hitler.

(Anthem finishes.  The entire crowd risers from their chairs and heads for the exits)

DUCHEY (to GARY) Good game.  Good game.

(Within seconds, the table is empty.   The WAITRESS comes over.)

WAITRESS:  35  people at a table, and I got six dollars in tips.

BERG:  Wow.  They stiffed you pretty bad.

WAITRESS:  Well, technically, kind of – they ordered about $100 worth of kombucha, artisanal tea and one “gluten free lite beer”, and the rest just had water.

BERG:  You don’t even have kombucha or artisanal tea here, do you?

WAITRESS:  I can’t hear you. Naaah naaah naaaah.  (Walks away)

(And SCENE)

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The Progressive Puritans

What do you get when you combine:

  • The “progressive” MO of transferring taxpayer money to other progressives
  • “Progressives'” hatred of wealthy people (other than “progressive” plutocrats, naturally)
  • The “progressive” party line on women’s issues
  • The “progressive” drive to at least appear to bring a better life you’re bigger government?

I had to check this twice – but the City Pages actually has the story:   Governments, acting on “information” from “progressive” “feminist” groups  around the country,  are pouring money into sex trafficking enforcement based on absurd predictions about the nuimber of prostitutes supposedly showing up for Super Bowls:

He didn’t have to look hard for supporters. Dallas Police Sergeant Louis Felini told The Dallas Morning News that between 50,000 and 100,000 prostitutes were expected to come into town. The call for even more outrage was sounded by a study from the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which said the throng would include 38,000 underage prostitutes…Before Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, Cindy McCain — wife of Sen. John McCain — declared the Super Bowl “the largest human-trafficking venue on the planet.” Glendale produced a lengthy public service video broadcasting the evils of the flesh trade.

But according to police, not one person was busted for prostitution-related crimes or sex trafficking in the days leading up to the game.

The results?  Nearly no arrests.

Deterrence?  Perhaps.

“Progressive” delusions about the habits, peccadillos and appetites of the wealthy (who are, let’s be honest, the only people who can ever afford to go to the Super Bowl)?  Definitely.

Oh, yeah.  Minnesota’s doing the same.  Bigly.

It’s A Start

Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen resigned from the Metro Sports Utilities Commission yesterday, after the corruption in the MSFC’s use of luxury skyboxes as a spiff for the Twin Cities’ DFL became to great for even the Metro old-boy-and-girl network to hush up.

Mondale and Kelm-Helgen faced cascading criticism and scrutiny since the Star Tribune reported in November that they and other MSFA commissioners hosted friends, family and well-connected DFLers at two 18-person luxury suites at the stadium during Vikings games and at several concerts. The two said the state-owned suites were needed to market the building, but an investigation by Legislative Auditor James Nobles revealed the suites were used mostly for entertainment by the MSFA commissioners and staff.

The Legislative Auditors report sounds like it’s good reading:

[Legislative Auditor James Nobles’] 100-page report faulted Kelm-Helgen and Mondale’s leadership of the MSFA, saying they had violated a core ethical principle by using public office for personal gain, by handing out free tickets, VIP parking, food and drink to friends and allies.

Combined, the two made nearly $300,000 in taxpayer-funded salaries. They oversaw construction of the $1.1 billion stadium, which was funded in part with a $498 million public subsidy.

And the saga of Michelle Kelm-Helgen, DFL grandée extraordinaire,  sounds like a “how-to” for any political glad-hander in a one-party city;

Even before the suite usage blew up, an unclear division of duties between Mondale and Kelm-Helgen became an issue. Former authority members Duane Benson and John Griffith had questioned the need for two taxpayer-funded executives in similar roles. They also raised concerns about Kelm-Helgen’s lack of collaboration.

“We were on a board that had an inability to get information,” Benson said, adding that Kelm-Helgen also refused to let the board participate in her job reviews.

Remember way back when Zygi Wilf was yanking the DFL-led Legislature and Governor Flint-Smith Dayton around, threatening to move the team if the state didn’t pony up to improve his investment for him at public expense?  And we asked – what could possibly go wrong when you entrust half a billion dollars to an bunch of unaccountable bureaucrats whose sole qualification was their DFL political connection?

Because you should remember it.

American Civilization Is Doomed, Part MCCCLVI

The good news:  the World Series drew, by modern standards, an avalanche of viewers.  While more people watched the last really really great Game 7 that I saw (1991, Twins vs. Braves), more people watched TV back then.   It was an irresistable draw; two “cursed” teams meeting, and having one of the more enjoyable World Series I can remember.

And no Yankees.

Downside:  in a culture where short-attention-span games are replacing sports in the public consciousness, it goes without saying that a lot of people who really don’t get baseball were really watching it for the first time.

Which leads to…culture shock.

This photo caused a tempest in the teapot of vacuity that is Twitter:

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The sign says “K K K” – which you know, if you grew up keeping baseball scorecards, means three strikeouts.

Right?

Bring on the tempest:

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Among many others.

And people wonder why we have a choice between a racketeer and a blowhard for President this year.

It Was 25 Years Ago Tonight

Game 7 of the 1991 series.

I was sitting kitty-corner from the Dome that night, working a night shift at KDWB. After I got off the air, I went into the conference room and watched the last couple innings with the rest of the night crew (and some of the weekday crew who wanted to be downtown if the Twins won). I think I danced on the conference table after that final out.

It’s also fun to hear the late Jack Buck calling the game. I had one of the stranger free-lance gigs of my life in 1987, holding Jack Buck’s cassette deck as he interviewed Tommy Kramer after a Vikings game.

Anyway – 25 years ago tonight was one of the most incredible nights of my life. And, I’m sure, most of yours’.

OK, enough jabbering.  For your viewing pleasure – the entire Game 7.

Farewell To Cults

Another baseball post-season is upon us.  And if you’re a Cubs fan – and they are my National League team – it’s another season to anticipate how epic this season’s choke is going to be.  Notwithstanding the fact that this season’s Cubs team is perhaps the best to ever take to Wrigley field, with the best record in baseball,  wondering what legendary exit the Cubs have planned.

It’s time to stop the “lovable losers” twaddle, says George Will:

So, all you purveyors of Cubs Gush, listen up. Referring to Wrigley Field as a “baseball cathedral” should be a flogging offense. It is just a nice little place on the North Side where men (calling major leaguers “boys of summer” should be punishable by keelhauling) work hard at a demanding and dangerous craft. And Cub fans, loyal through thin and thin, you must remember this: Your team at least won the Cold War. For years, it held spring training on Catalina Island near Los Angeles. So when a Des Moines radio sportscaster named “Dutch” Reagan went to report on them, he stopped in Hollywood for a screen test, and the Soviet Union was doomed. So there.

Fingers crossed.

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At Least Metamucil Isn’t Doing Sports Marketing

Tor from “Torwegian” notes with disapproval the ChiSox’ new stadium:

With some corporate marketing people, you just can fix stupid or financially desperate.  Count among them White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, quoted by WGN-TV:

“We are pleased to find, in Guaranteed Rate, a new naming rights partner founded in Chicago by Chicagoans, which shares our commitment to the city and to our fans. We view this partnership as an opportunity to connect a successful Chicago business with a historic baseball franchise, and we look forward to growing this important relationship over the coming years as millions of fans enjoy White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field.”

Dumb name?  Probably – but not as dumb as the taxpayer support that went into it.

I’d happily go to “Pepto-Bismol Park”, if they and the teams’ billionaire owners did the building.

Put another way – if “Guaranteed Rate” could guarantee us a rate of 0% taxpayer subsidy, I’d swallow my pride and root for the ChiSox.

“In Your Best Interest, Peasant!”

The Midway.

I’ve lived in this neighborhood off and on for 29 years, and continuously for almost 23 years, now.

The neighborhood gets a bad rap from people who don’t know Saint Paul – which is about 95% of the population of the Metro Area.   When most of them think of the Midway – if they think about the Midway – they think University Avenue; hot and treeless in the summer, cold and wind-swept in the winter, lined with tatty big-box stores at Snelling, check cashing shops and Popeyes at Lexington, and little H’Mong, Lao, Latino, Black and African shops down by Dale and Rice that probably strike visitors from Eagan and Circle Pines and Kenwood and Crocus Hill for that matter as “sketchy and dangerous”.

The part they miss is that people live, work, play and socialize here.

Even at the McDonalds and Perkins in the huge parking lot by the Midway Center strip mall.  The two franchises are much-loathed by hipsters and pseudo-sophisticates and the entire Whole-Foods-shopping, NPR-listening, Subaru-driving, free-range-alpaca-wearing Macalester/Carlton/Saint Olaf set that sees itself as soccer fans, most of whom would likely crap a kitten if dropped into the colorful diversity of University Avenue street life that uses the two places as its social center.

It’s up by Snelling that the Saint Paul City Council gave approval yesterday to start working on building a Major League Soccer stadium, paving the way for billionaire Bill McGuire to get hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to build a stadium for a sport that resonates with precisely three classes of people:

  • Immigrants – many of whom play soccer, and many of whom don’t have the money to go to a big-dollar Major League Soccer game, with the inevitably inflated ticket and concession prices.
  • entire Whole-Foods-shopping, NPR-listening, Subaru-driving, free-range-alpaca-wearing Macalester/Carlton/Saint Olaf set, with their quadrennial “pretend to give a crap about the World Cup” ritual figuring prominently on their social “see and be seen” calendars.
  • Suburban soccer families – kids and their “soccer parents”.

Do the immigrants have the money to come out and see games?  Will the hipster class do soccer for more than a year, until the “been there, done that” sets in?  Will soccer families from Blaine and Apple Valley chance coming into the city, especially given that the stadium is going to have fairy minimal parking, deliberately forcing people onto the “A Line” bus from Rosedale and the “Green Line” train from other places suburbanites hate going to?

I doubt it in all three cases.

But that isn’t stopping those who seem themselves as members of the taste-setting class from trying to tell the Midway what it really needs; no more McDonalds or Perkins.

At the thought of “6,000 people” (dream big!) crossing McDonalds’ and Perkins’ property, one sniffed:

Yeah, soccer fans are a pretty tony lot:

Sign me up for the high freaking tea concession!

But no – let not the little people and their “businesses” and “social framework” get in the way of their betters’ plans:

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Can you imagine if a Walmart proponent had tweeted any such thing?

Tradition!

If you can say one thing about “Minnesota United” – who, if all goes according to plan, will benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer largesse when they build their alleged stadium in the Midway one of these years – it’s that they’re a typical Minnesota team, through and through:

A Minnesota team?  Why yes – after leading the league in 2014 and coming in #2, MNU has dribbled down to #5 so far this season.

The Greatest

RIP Buddy Ryan:

The defensive mastermind that was, perhaps even more than Mike Ditka, behind the greatest team in the history of NFL football, Ryan had a long, long career:

Beloved by his players and hated by opposing offenses (and sometimes hated even by his own offenses), Ryan masterminded Chicago’s 46 defense that won Super Bowl XX. He later served as head coach of an Eagles team that had a great defense in its own right, and ended his coaching career as head coach of the Cardinals in 1994 and 1995.

Ryan’s 35-year career as a football coach began in 1961 as a defensive line coach with the University at Buffalo Bulls, and in 1968 he moved to the Jets, helping them win Super Bowl III. He spent two years with the Vikings in 1976 and 1977 before George Halas hired him to coach the Bears’ defense in 1978.

He and his ’85 Bears were the subject of an ESPN biopic last year; he really wasn’t looking good (and either was Jim McMahon).

But we’ll always have ’85.

Sox It To Them

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

It’s baseball season, time for the professional complainers to start whining about sports team names.  I have a suggestion – change them all to Sox.

 Baseball teams traditionally wear tall leggings.  We already have the Red Sox and the White Sox.  Change every team to Sox.

 ROY-G-BIV won’t get you very far, there are too many teams.  That’s okay, have contests to let the fans choose their new team name, maybe something linked to their location or history.

 Atlanta – Georgia – Peach State – obviously, they become the Peach Sox.

 Phoenix – desert – they become the Hot Sox.

 San Francisco – gay rights – Fabulous Sox (team color becomes lavender).

 Texas – everything is bigger – Big Sox.

 Minnesota – Twins – identical – Matching Sox. 

 Detroit is tough.  Their water is poisoned – Dry Sox?  Their infrastructure is in ruins – Wrecked Sox?   They seek a federal bailout – Need Sox?  The town is run by Democrats – Your Sox?  Tough one.  Besides, why does a town that has no running water need a baseball team?  Move them to somewhere prosperous and call them the Silk Sox.

 Or we could just ignore the whiners and get on with life. 

  Joe Doakes

Cleveland could be the Buckskin Sox.