Thursday, September 21, 2006

Labels

Before I get into my topic, a minirant about the state of talk radio (come on, were you expecting something else?) The political version of talk radio is possibly the most malicious and dangerous part of the national discourse - a lot of people listen to it at work, and it's about the only way you can get work done and also get "informed". But there's no accountability. If you write something in a newspaper or a magazine and you're full of shit, there's a record that can be checked. But if you say something on the radio, there's basically no readily-accessible record to use in order to call you on being a hypocrite. Obviously sports talk radio doesn't have quite the same influence, but it still suffers from a lack of accountability. If a certain radio host (and if you've read any of my earlier posts, you know who I mean) says, before the 2005 season, that the ACC is the best league in the country because it has the best coaches in the country, and then today states that the ACC is the worse league because it has the worst coaches in the country (the phrase was something like, "clearly, the worst coaches") despite the fact that the league has had ZERO coach turnover between then and now, no one is going to call him on it because no one really remembers what he says from one day to the next. But I remembered. And I say to you, The Worst Sports Talk Radio Host In The History Of Creation, that you are full of shit.

Okay, moving on. Certain teams are saddled with words or phrases, for good or ill, that will almost always show up in an opinion piece about them. I came up with a few, but I'm sure there are many more:

1) Pittsburgh Steelers - "blue collar"
"I'm blue-collar," Hines Ward says, by way of explaining everything."

I've never been to Pittsburgh, but from what I can piece together it is a city packed to the brim with stevedores and mine-workers, who relax from a hard day of work with a beer or three (domestic, of course) and some sort of incredibly unhealthy meat product. A sign of the decreasing racial gap in our country - it is now acceptable to refer to black players as "blue collar". No white collar football players here in Steel-town. Didi mao!

2) Chicago Cubs - "lovable losers"
Calamity on Clark Street: Why the Cubs Will Remain (Lovable) Losers

In the end, is there really anything lovable about losing? If you're a masochist, I guess. But year after year, the Cubs continue to suck or, at best, to fail in some spectacular way after a successful season, and every year they are called the lovable losers of Chicago. You'd think a city that experienced the greatest dynasty of the 1990's wouldn't tolerate this crap anymore.

3) San Antonio Spurs - "fundamentally sound"
"This is a simple but fundamentally sound defense played by San Antonio."

This moniker, of course, follows Tim Duncan into the bathroom and holds it for him while he goes. But the entire team has appropriated the name at this point, in complete disregard for every ill-advised, out-of-control Manu Ginobili drive into the lane.

4) Texas Tech Red Raiders - "high-octane"
"the Miners defense pushed the high-octane Red Raiders offense..."

This applies to any team that throws a lot of passes/scores a lot of points and couldn't stop my grandma from pounding it up the gut for 8 yards a pop, but it seems to be applied most often to the Red Raiders these days. If you think that putting high-octane gasoline into your engine will improve your performance you are 100% wrong - high octane gas is meant for high-performance engines, and most likely if you buy a car that requires it you already know it. Putting high-octane gas into a regular engine does nothing except for costing you extra money. So really, calling an offense high-octane doesn't make a lot of sense, unless it costs you more money. This is the opposite of #7 below.

5) Florida Marlins - "upstart"
"It was a huge day for the upstart Marlins..."

The Marlins have won twice as many World Series over the last 13 years as the Phillies have won in their entire 123 year existence, and this is because they are the undisputed champions of flushing their team and replacing it with cheap and good young players. They are always referred to as upstarts because they're always either not expected to do anything at all, or on the verge of being a good team. By the time they finally win they're already on the way towards dismantling.

6) Nebraska Cornhuskers - "corn-fed"
"To welcome our corn-fed friends to Los Angeles..."

Obviously, if you call yourselves "Cornhuskers" then you're going to get labelled as "corn-fed" quite a bit. Corn-fed means a big giant white guy who plays on the offensive or defensive line. Is corn fattening? I'm guessing most of these guys got fat by eating a lot more than corn. And if you're black you're never allowed to be corn-fed; you're pretty much just a big fat guy who likes mama's (or grandmama's, as the case may be) soul food.

7) Detroit Pistons - "gritty"
"Analysts sing daily praises to the Pistons' gritty defense and their laudable teamwork..."

This moniker suggests a defensive team that couldn't score on my grandma if she was in a coma and simply got wheeled onto the playing surface while lying in bed. Expect a lot of low-scoring games with a lot of ugly penalties/fouls and possibly two or three near-brawls. This of course accurately describes the Pistons, but this is a label that flows from team to team. I guess gritty relates to "grit" which is like determination and fortitude but sounds like the thing you bite on when you stop at Burger King on your way home from the beach. What unfortunate coincidence of nature caused beaches to be covered with sand? Why couldn't they be covered with powdered sugar?

8) Arizona Cardinals - "underachieving"
"...the eternally underachieving Cardinals."

The Arizona Cardinals have been underachieving for the better part of two decades, which would suggest to most people that they just kind of suck.

9) New York Yankees - "corporate"
"Weep not for that corporate golem misleadingly described as 'The New York Yankees.'"

This works as both a compliment and a pejorative - when the Yankees are winning, it is their corporate attitude that keeps them focused on the bigger picture. And when they're losing, it's their corporate attitude that keeps them from having the fiery passion needed to snap out of a losing streak.

10) Miami Hurricanes - "swagger"
"'Canes Missing Swagger"

This, to me, is the grandaddy of all team cliches. The Hurricanes only have two positions, like a light switch - they are either losing their swagger, or regaining their swagger. Right now they are losing their swagger, most likely because their coach looks like Robert Duvall's retarded younger brother. When they get a new coach and they beat Florida State on another missed field goal, they will have regained their swagger, which will hopefully include a Luther Campbell comeback. Because Luther knows where the bitches are at, and players at The U don't function properly without a full compliment of bitches.

2 Comments:

Blogger David Bowie said...

That Steelers article was particularly odious - "He is a lunchpail-lugging, clock-punching worker to the core". Football needs an FJM.

Fri Sep 22, 10:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger David Bowie said...

Here's some more swagger in another insipid little article.
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=jones/060922&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab5pos1

Sat Sep 23, 03:30:00 PM EDT  

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