All Aboard the Bandwagon

The worst thing you can call a sports fan is a Bandwagoner.

According to Urban Dictionary, a “Bandwagon Fan” is:

Whenever a region’s sports team suddenly gets really good really quickly, everyone and their f***ing dog either buys a sports jersey or takes their old one out of the closet where it’s been for 20 years, proclaiming they are a diehard fan. Bandwagon fans usually flock to their team’s games in large numbers and usually constitute 80% of that team’s fanbase. See Florida Gators.

I’m going to defend them.

It’s hard rooting for bad teams, much less teams that may move cities. See my last post. There’s a little bandwagon in all of us. I think 80% of any fan base is a good estimate for bandwagoners. We like to see winning teams.

The Royals have not been a winning team. You know that stats. Living in KC last summer, I enjoyed going to a few Royals games. They were turning things around, but nobody expected what has played out this postseason. Even into this season, The K was pretty empty. I’m not blaming anyone. It’s tough. Half of the Ed Jones Dome at the 49ers game wore red. Nobody deserves the agony that has played out with the Royals over the last three decades. It sucks. It’s difficult.

The bandwagon fans are a huge part of what’s making this team so special. And I’m with them. Royals are my #2 team. Yes I bought my first piece of Royals merchandise. No I didn’t watch any regular season game. Yes I would have loved to see the Cardinals make it.

Bandwagon fans are part of what make Cinderella sports runs so incredible. Rams are the anti-bandwagon now because we’ve been so bad. Half of all the jerseys at the Dome today were from the Greatest Show era. And the other half were Seahawks jerseys. Speaking of bandwagon. Ughhhhh. At least the Rams got this one. 

Will the Royals sell out regular season games next season? Probably not. It doesn’t matter. They have the entire country buzzing, playing the most exciting ball I’ve ever seen. An underpaid overachieving group of role players just dominated the Angels and the Orioles. Thanks to the damn bandwagoners, Royals tickets are going for a rent payment on StubHub. This is what makes sports great.

Call me a bandwagoner, but I’m rooting for my #2 ball club, a Missouri team, and a bunch of guys that are having a blast. I couldn’t be happier right now. Well unless it was an I-70 Series, but I’ll take what I can get. Live it up, KC. You’ve earned it.

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ALL ABOARD!!!!!!!

Is the NFL Fiasco More Like the WWE or the Government?

I think everyone is pretty much on the same page on the Ray Rice story. He’s an animal, and should be fired. He was. NFL players need to better behave themselves. Great. Now let’s continue talking about when Johnny Manziel will start.

Photo: AP

But wait, there’s more. The tape. (Jim Ross voice) OH MAH GAWD THE TAPE! Did Goodell see it? Did he not see it? Does it matter? Who knew? Who hid it? Who killed Kennedy? Why are so many NFL players beating up their loved ones? I don’t know! Pandemonium!!!!!

I thought this was another one-day news story being beat to death by ESPN. Make no mistake – it is. But there’s angles here that play out in our society every day that the media only dared to touch once another and another and another story came out. This is the essence of the culture that American media has created. And it made me realize that there are stunning parallels between this story and two parts of society. Of these two parts, one is important. The other isn’t. One attempts to avoid drama at all costs. The other thrives on it. One’s public face is the American President. The other has a superstar nicknamed “The All American American.”

It’s time to enter the ring, or the debate podium, and figure out if the Ray Rice story belongs in the Government or the WWE! Cue entrance music!

Argument 1: WWE

Was it Hulk Hogan in the locker room with the chair? Or perhaps Triple H in the garage with the sledge hammer? Nope, it was Ray Rice in the elevator with the closed fist and Adrian Peterson with the tree branch. I’m not condoning anything these two did, but that tape literally looked like it was from Monday Night RAW. It’s a serious issue when anyone can compare something that happened in real life to the “fake” WWE, but this has to be something Vince McMahon has written before. Randy Orton has DDT’d Stephanie McMahon – Vince’s own daughter. Not cool in this situation either. At least in the WWE, Stephanie’s husband, Triple H, was attempting to defend her.

I know I lost you there with the wrestling talk. The bottom line is this sort of behavior is the type that should be reserved exclusively for the WWE in staged circumstances. I only wish the tape was in fact a staged event for (maybe somewhat sick) entertainment purposes, where nobody was seriously injured. This isn’t the case. The WWE is certainly where this footage and story belongs. That’s why it’s most similar to the WWE.

Argument 2: The Government

Did Goodell see the tape? Did Obama know about the IRS targeting? How about Bush and 9/11? What happened to the Nixon tapes?

Both the government and the NFL have a monopoly. When you think of monopolies you think about companies in a certain industry. But make no mistake, the NFL and the US Government operate a monopoly. I totally and completely agree that these monopolies should exist and operate in their current state, but the fact remains. Any time you have a monopoly, there is an attempt to curb transparency. The NFL needs to save face just as the government does. Public trust can play a huge role for both of these entities, though neither of which are going away any time soon.

I don’t know if Goodell saw the tape any more than I know who killed Kennedy. What I do know is the NFL has a history of covering things up just as the government does. Concussions becoming an NFL safety issue about two decades late comes to mind. Do I think there’s something Goodell isn’t telling us? Yeah. Do I think it’s world breaking news? I don’t care. I’m used to it.

It’s how they both operate. Saving face then doing back door deals to keep power. It’s the world we live in on Sundays and every day of the week.

(Now I need some back door deals to get done to keep the Rams in St. Louis. C’mon Goodell and Kroenke! I know you can do something!)

Oh yeah and the former FBI Director is investigating the NFL in handling of the case. Parallels people… Parallels…

In conclusion, these stories are sad for so many reasons. There are real victims here unlike the WWE, but the fact that it could be mistaken for a fake wrestling plot is sad in and of itself. We can’t let violence against women and children go on with a 2-game suspension, and we must hold our NFL and government monopolies accountable to our interests as fans and citizens, either at the stadium or at the polling booth.

Winner: Government. The issues are real. Don’t get caught up in the drama-fueled tabloid headlines that TMZ and WWE is successful at manufacturing.

Damn. That post got real. Sorry bout that.

St. Louis vs. Kansas City: The Final Argument

I grew up halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City. I went to college halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City. I played hockey in St. Louis in grade school and in Kansas City in high school. I lived in Kansas City for 10 weeks last summer. I’ve lived in St. Louis for 10 weeks now. I am the only person who can settle this argument once and for all.

Let’s get it on.

Downtown: 

It may be dying but it’s not going down without a fight. St. Louis still has Wash Ave, the stadium(s), and now ballpark village. Soulard is walking distance (trust me, it is), and I still think the drive downtown seeing the arch is about as pretty of a drive as you’ll see into any downtown. Kansas City’s is small and easier to get around, but just doesn’t have much to get excited about. And who doesn’t enjoy a little St. Louis crime to keep things interesting. Just don’t cross the river. Louie scores first.

(KC 0 – STL 1)

Nightlife: 

St. Louis has more places and better to go out, but that’s doesn’t necessarily mean it wins. Every time I’ve gone out in Kansas City, I’ve ran into people I know. Some people may not like this but I do. St. Louis has more variety and more cool neighborhoods to go out. It’s got more of the big city feel. Wash Ave and Soulard might as well be a hundred miles away from each other and that’s awesome. Kansas City doesn’t have the P&L advantage (if there is one), now that Ballpark Village is opening in St. Louis. If I’m visitng one city for a weekend, I’d pick St. Louis. I’ve been too busy to explore everywhere here, but Westport wins against Soulard and others. It literally is a continuation of college, and who doesn’t like that? For the time being at least…

Kansas City ties it up.

(KC 1 – STL 1)

Neighborhoods/Places To Live:

This is even tougher because I haven’t lived in either place long, but I had to do this post now to be fair. Here’s my take: Kansas City has awesome diverse neighborhoods of the city. River Market, Art District, Plaza, Westport, Downtown, Waldo… all are awesome and unique. But because St. Louis has the size advantage, it wins. St. Louis is made up of over 80 different municipalities . Before I lived here I had no idea about all of the areas that weren’t downtown or a place with a hockey rink. Pretty much every town has its own personality, its own little downtown, and its own charm. Kansas City is doing great with all its unique areas, but St. Louis has at least three times as many areas.

St. Louis takes the lead.

(KC 1 – STL 2)

People: 

I haven’t met everyone in both towns, but because Kansas City does have that small town feel, it gets the advantage here. It may sound crazy, but I also enjoy the amount of kU fans in KC. It makes it feel like the rivalry is still alive. I don’t feel the same pride driving around with a Mizzou sticker in St. Louis as I do in Kansas City. I love all my St. Louis friends to death, but the high school continuation is real.  St. Louis is a great place to live and grow up and come back to. It’s also a great place to move to and start a career. But the fact that certain girls won’t talk to you unless you went to a certain high school is just ridiculous and really says a lot. I’ve never had that happen to me, of course, but I’ve heard multiple times. That just doesn’t happen in KC.

(KC 2 – STL 2)

Career: 

My jobs were completely different two cities, mainly because it’s tax season now, but I’m not just talking about me. St. Louis is a bigger city with bigger companies and more worldwide HQ’s so there will be more opportunities, but Kansas City has Cerner which employs half of the midwest, or so it seems.

Push.  I know that’s lame but it’s my blog so deal.

Beer: 

St. Louis is a beer town. I don’t care who owns Budweiser or Boulevard or whatever. Boulevard and Schlafly are a push, and St. Louis just simply is a beer town in a way Kansas City isn’t.

St. Louis suds pull ahead.

(KC 2 – STL 3)

Food: 

I love love love Kansas City BBQ, but the Italian here is real. I’m not even a huge fan of Italian but it’s that good.

Kansas City by a rib.

(KC 3 – STL 3)

Stuff to Do: 

I’m not talking about exhibits at the museums, I’m talking about stuff we actually do. In two weeks we have Mardi Gras and St. Patty’s – two of the biggest parties I’ve ever been a part of. I may be just not be aware, but I can’t think of one event in Kansas City that even comes close. Manhattan, KS has some big parties but you can’t count that KC, sorry. I think there’s some cow festival that’s fun? First Fridays I’ve heard are a good time but none of my friends when I was there made an effort to attend so you don’t get it.

Not just because of Mardi and Patty’s – St. Louis just has the size and wins because of what comes with it (parks, shops, neighborhoods, events, etc.). KC does have the best antique mall I’ve ever been though. Not enough.

(KC 3 – STL 4)

Sports: 

Rams. Duh.

But seriously. I’ve had the downtown vs. suburb stadium discussion many many times, and I simply don’t know the answer. As a Cardinals fan, I think I may enjoy Royals games better because of the tailgating and the low expectations. Idk. And I can’t stand how St. Louis doesn’t stand behind the Rams and the self-anointed “best fans in baseball” crap. I’m trying to be level headed here. I’ve never been to an NFL regular season game, so maybe if I go to a Chiefs game this year it will change. But you have to look at where you would want to be if all Missouri teams sucked and if all Missouri teams dominated. The answer is St. Louis both times. The Blues might tip it East.

Speaking of, HOW BOUT THEM BLUES MY LORD!?!?!?!?!

The Greatest Show on Turf helps seals the victory.

Decision: St. Louis, 5-3.

Right now in my life personally I probably would prefer Kansas City – just because it has the nightlife and people and I have a few more friends there. But if all my randomly picked categories are weighted the same, St. Louis wins. Perhaps solely because of the size but in a bar fight I’m picking the guy who has 30 pounds on the other.  I’ve had a blast in St. Louis so far – even while studying for the CPA and working 60 hours a week. I love living in here now and I don’t see myself moving any time soon.

But if the Rams leave, that all changes.

That’s what I think I think.

Sochi: Sport, Scandal, Society.

The best part of the Olympics, in my opinion, began today with the hockey tournament. I love it because I love America and I love hockey, and I love when America actually cares about hockey.

But how will these Olympics be remembered: sport, scandal, or societal storylines?

Most would hope for sport – what happens on the field, er, I guess ice or snow. But when you think about it, of all the Olympics played in history, how many are actually remembered for excellence of the athletes? I can only think of two off the top of my head. Michael Phelps in 2008 (not Mark Spitz in Munich 1972, see later) , and the Miracle on Ice. I’m sure in Canada, it’s 2010 games, but nobody cares, Canada. One could even argue that the Miracle on Ice wouldn’t be anything if it wasn’t for circumstances outside the rink –  The Cold War, and the USA boycotting the Moscow Summer Games. As the quote from the HBO documentary about the game goes, “The circumstances surrounding the games were so extraordinary, it can never happen again.” – Al Michaels.

It takes something very extraordinary to an Olympics be remembered on the field. I can only see that happening if Russia or the US win the hockey in a thrilling game. Shawn White choked. Shani Davis choked.  MAYBE one could argue the tie in women’s alpine skiing will be remembered, but how many of you just thought to yourself “There was a tie in women’s skiing?”

Will the games be remembered due to scandal? Maybe. The outrageous cost of the games. The slum-like living situation for journalists, (or what they make seem like slum-like). The technical difficulty in the opening ceremony? It takes massive scandal to be remembered. Even the judges scandal of 2002 is kind of forgotten. The games that come to mind is the terrorism in Atlanta 1996, and Munich in 1972. Both of those are earth-shattering, life-ending scandals. I can speak for everyone in that we hope that doesn’t happen the least bit. There’s already been wind of a judge scandal in figure skating again, but likely won’t be remembered after the games.

How about the games being remembered for its impact on the world society? It’s possible. Putin wanted this to be Russia’s welcome party to the world society, and it will happen to some extent. It has shed some light on issues in Russia, mainly it’s treatment of homosexuals. I don’t think that’s going to have a huge impact, however. Those issues need more much than two weeks in order to gain enough traction to affect real change, especially in Russia.

Plenty games have been remembered for societal reasons. Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936, 1968 Black Power Salute, and China’s coming out party to the world in 2008.  There are a few things those games have that Sochi doesn’t. Firstly, they were all summer olympics, which is a much bigger games and spectacle. Secondly, the statements in ’36 and ’68  were done by the athletes, not protesters. Owens didn’t even do any explicit statement. He just kicked ass in front of Hitler. The Black Power salute was a simple gesture after they kicked ass in their sport.  In China’s case, idk I just haven’t gotten the same feeling from Sochi as a “Russian coming out to the world” party. Beijing was magical.

The only way this game will be remembered for societal reasons is if a Russian athlete wins a gold medal and instead of grabbing the Russian flag, they grab a rainbow flag.

In which case, I fear for their life.

My point is, these Olympics probably won’t be remembered in ten years. And if they are, it will probably be for something that happened outside the athletes’ control.  I had no intention on ending on this depressing point, but here I am. Does this mean we shouldn’t watch the Olympics or be excited for them? Not at all.

But I do think it’s time we stop spending over $51 Billion of taxpayer’s money on the games to impress the cameras. I think it’s time we let the sports do the talking. I think it’s time we stop  use the Olympics as a platform for political and social change. There’s so much good that comes from the games, why shift the focus to shortcomings of the world?

When the eyes of the world are watching, let them watch the athletes.

Will it happen in the future? Probably not.

That’s what I think I think.

USA ALL THE WAY

A Week Missouri Won’t Forget

Whew. It’s safe to say this has been one of the craziest weeks in Missouri sports history. Everything from unfathomable tragedy, to rape accusations, to almost another tie in pro football. There hasn’t been enough time in the day to discuss everything that has happened in the last week. So I’m going to try to give my brief opinions on everything that happened this week, starting with the least controversial and ending with the most.

David Yost Resigns

David Yost, offensive coordinator for the Mizzou football team resigned today after serving the position for 4 years. He has been under Pinkel for the last 12, and took over the Offensive Coordinator job after Dave Christensen left to become the head coach at Wyoming in 2009. Yost cited “personal reasons,” which could mean anything from health to Pinkel telling him to kindly leave.

I am not super excited about this move, but I’m happy some change is happening. I’ve never had a huge problem with Yost, however, I’m tired of uninspired play calling. The same plays that brought us success in the Big 12 simply do not work in the SEC. I don’t know who we are going to hire, but I have 100% faith in Athletic Director Mike Alden. Hiring Frank Haith turned out to be a genius move, and moving to the SEC was huge as well.

Rams Win in OT

There were so many parallels to the first game against San Fran that ended in a gross ugly tie. Rams kicking and punting won us the game, and Jenoris Jenkins came up with another huge play. We are undefeated in the division, now if we can win a couple more outside the division, we might sneak into the playoffs. Going to be tough though.

Tragedy in KC

We’ve all heard the story by know, but what people may have not heard in the commentary after the Chiefs inspiring win Sunday. Bob Costas decided to use a few minutes of air time as an editorial about gun control. Deadspin accuratley calles it “Sanctimonious Horseshit.” ONE day after the incident and Bob quotes a former Kansas City Star writer who used tragedy to make a political statement.  This writer directly compares the NRA to the KKK. Everybody has their opinion on gun control, but salting the wound on national television was simply the wrong time and place for Costas.

Brady Quinn, on the other hand, had one of the absolute best press conferences ever. Quinn led the Chiefs to only their second win all season, and had the best Chiefs QB performance in recent memory. Instad of pushing a political agenda, he had some lines that made me think about life more than a Tupac song. I wish more people had the perspective amidst this tragedy that he did.

His words are worth hearing over and over.

Quinn took a look at himself and asks what he could have done to prevent it instead of blaming the government or other organization.

Michael Dixon’s Done

Now to the most controversial story of the week, maybe the year for Mizzou fans. Michael Dixon has left the Mizzou Basketball team and is looking to transfer after a second rape accusation came out last week. I honestly thought he was benched this whole time because of grades.

After reading the grossly explicit stories, I’m glad he’s gone. I know there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute, but after reading the quotes he said to this young woman, I don’t want him in my school or even my state. They probably disturbed me more than if he did get convicted of rape. Frankly, what he threatened to do was worse than rape. It may all be heresy  but I still want him gone if there’s a slim chance of it being accurate. I’m not posting links to what I read because I don’t want people to read it. THAT disturbing. Find it online if you want. You know what I’m talking about if you saw it. Glad he’s gone.

Rumor is he’s transferring to Kansas though, which would be very interesting. Too bad they don’t want to play us anymore.

My buddy Thom Griffin apparently has Dixon’s first radio interview Tuesday at 4pm on FM 100.5 KTGR. Should be interesting.

So there’s my probably my most controversial blog post ever. I encourage you after reading my negative nancy Dixon rant to go back and watch Brady Quinn’s press conference again. Truly inspring.

Ram Fan or not, that is what I think I think.

Do You Believe in Miracles?

“It was the greatest sports moment of the twentieth century” – Al Michaels

Hopefully most of you know what I am getting at by now, but this post is on the Miracle on Ice: The 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team beating the Soviets and winning the gold medal, which took place exactly 31 years ago. This is by far my favorite moment in sports history, although I wasn’t even alive for it. I’ve seen my football and baseball teams win championships. I’ve seen my college teams win the conference crown and knock off #1 teams, but nothing compares to the Miracle on Ice.

I really don’t want this to be me just rambling on about why this even is the greatest in American sports history, but some background is necessary. I can quote the HBO documentary on it that I’m watching now, so I’ll hit some highlights.

  • The Russians (Soviets, CCCP, Soviet Union, etc.) had won gold at the last 4 olympic gold medals, outscoring their opponents 175-44, and this was considered their best team in years. They went on to win the next 2 gold medals until the Soviet Union split.
  • The Americans had one player who had been in the Olympics before and six months of practice together. The Soviets have been together and competing in the games for years.
  • The Russians had perhaps the best goalie in hockey history, and numerous other legends.
  • A couple of days before the Olympics, the Soviets embarrassed the NHL All-Stars 6-0 in Madison Square Garden.
  • “They played hockey the way we play basketball.” – Jim Lampley.
  • The Russians beat the American Olympic team 10-3 in an exhibition game 3 days before the games started in which “the score made it seem closer than it was” – Al Michaels.
  • The Russians weren’t just favored. They were 100% absolutely supposed to win. There was only one team who was even thought to have a slight chance at keeping with the Soviets, and the Americans were picked to finish sixth.

Aside with the numeric stats, the environment around the world had perhaps the biggest significance on the game. The Cold War was heating up, and the USA even boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow later that year for political reasons. Everyone was preparing for a war with the Russians. Imagine playing Germany in soccer in 1936. Gas prices and unemployment soared. The Russians invaded Afghanistan and we couldn’t get them out. Americans needed a reason to wave a flag and feel proud about themselves. Who knew it was going to be a bunch of college kids to give the USA that lift?

The lift for the team came from the head coach, Herb Brooks. He created himself as the enemy for the team, helping create a close bond between kids from so many different backgrounds. He was one of the toughest coaches in history, but he would always stand up for his players. I could go on and on about all the interesting and effective techniques Brooks uses, but the bottom line is he made the team believe they could win when nobody else did. The speech from the Disney movie isn’t word for word, but it’s very very close.

If this doesn’t give you chills, you’re either a Russian or you have no soul. Or both.

You honestly couldn’t have written it any better. I’m a huge fan of nonfiction stories and this is as intriguing as any gets. Ever. This one game changed not only the US forever, but the world. Name one other sporting event that has done that.

America.