Saturday, April 19, 2014

Like It or Not, The PGA Needs Tiger Woods

Disclaimer: This post is obviously a little late. Just go with it.

I don’t know what it is about The Masters that gets me so excited every year in April. It could be the tradition and pageantry and astonishing closing drama. It could be the fact that it is the unofficial start of spring (the snow and cold that showed up this week notwithstanding). It could be the fact that it sits fittingly between the end of March Madness and the beginning of the NHL and NBA playoffs. It could even be that for four days I am convinced golf really isn’t that hard and I could do what those guys do (HA! Not in a million years). Whatever the reason, it is a weekend that even folks who hate golf can appreciate, regardless of the fact that they’re only tuned in to see if the money they wagered on some guy named Jonas Blixt is going to pay off – looking at you O’Rourke.

Having said all that, you know what I found myself doing this past Sunday while Bubba Watson strolled down the famed 18th fairway en route to his second green jacket in three years? Watching the money, drug and sex infused marathon of a movie The Wolf of Wall Street.

Why, you ask? It’s simple. Tiger Woods was out with back surgery. Now, all comparisons between the raucous Jordan Belfort and Tiger and his questionable romps with a few (okay, a laundry list) of porn stars aside – I don’t think I was alone in my disinterest.

Oh, you want to point out that he hasn’t won a major championship in almost six years and hasn’t won The Masters in nine? And how he has fizzled out on the weekend multiple times since returning from his “sex-addict rehab” (as if that is a real thing)? IT DOESN’T MATTER! THE DUDE IS A ONCE IN A LIFETIME PLAYER AND THE PGA WOULDN’T BE WHAT IT IS TODAY WITHOUT HIM.

You want proof? How about the lowest weekend TV ratings for The Masters in almost twenty years. TWENTY! I was just a drooling, uncoordinated little shit back then (some would argue that not much has changed in that regard, but I digress). Sure, a 20-year-old up and comer Jordan Spieth brought some interest and Bubba is an appealing and polarizing figure in his own right, but it didn’t matter. Combine Tiger’s absence with Phil “Lefty” Mickelson missing the cut and, well, let’s just say Sunday at The Masters was all but background noise for most.

The PGA and the game of golf needs Tiger – and whatever he has left in the tank.

Many people claim to hate Tiger and wish he would go away after his adulterous behavior. I’m not one to stand on moral high ground here and neither are you, most likely, but this isn’t about him off the course. It’s about the entertainment and fire he brings on it. What he has done since bursting onto the scene as a 21-year-old Masters winner will never be matched. That’s a fact. He’s a freak and when his body finally breaks down and he can no longer compete, it will be a sad day for the PGA and its fans.

Golf purists will be quick to point out that fan favorites like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott and Ricky Fowler (stupid Puma outfits aside) will continue to bring in young fans and plenty of excitement. They’re not wrong. Hell many guys tune in just to see how much dip Jason Dufner can stuff in his mouth while giving “golf etiquette” the finger. But even the players themselves admit it’s not the same without Tiger and his goose bump-inducing fist pumps (quotes courtesy of ESPN):

Adam Scott: "It's a huge loss."

Mickelson: "It's awkward to not have him here ... He's been the one that's really propelled and driven the bus because he's brought increased ratings, increased sponsors, increased interest."

Justin Rose: "Win, lose or draw, he's a very big draw for the game. People are eager to see how he's going to chase down Jack Nicklaus in every major championship."

McIlroy: "Having Tiger in a tournament definitely creates more buzz, more of an atmosphere. ... I think people will miss him at the start of the week, but by the end of the week, when it comes down to who is going to win the golf tournament, there's going to be a worthy winner and it will produce a lot of excitement." 

Sorry Rory, there was ZERO excitement.

Long ago, there used to be a different “The Guy” every week, led by the great Jack Nicklaus. There was Arnold Palmer and Gary Player and Johnny Miller and Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw and Greg Norman and John Daly (well, he’ll always be “The Guy”) and Lee Trevino. Today, and for the past 17 years, there has only been one, Tiger. Like it or not, he has single-handedly propelled the game’s popularity to unimaginable heights.

“Oh yea, I’ve always been a big Lefty fan. Forget Tiger.”

“Who cares about Tiger? How can you not root for a guy like Matt Kuchar? Jason Day is a real up-and-comer too.”

“Brandt Snedeker, awesome swing, and he’s already won a FedEx Cup!”

I’ve heard it all. From friends and from family. Everyone trying to get behind some other dude on tour because they don't like the way Tiger carries himself in interviews or because of how he's perceived in the public eye. Again I ask, who cares? You know who wouldn’t be relevant today if it weren’t for Tiger? All of the above. I’m fairly certain the FedEx Cup wouldn't be a thing without Tiger, either.

Experts have long said that his aggressive swing (and perhaps a few chemical enhancements here and there.. cough, cough) would catch up to him and break down his body. We can only hope this isn’t happening yet because whether he wins or not, just knowing he is out there ready to pounce makes watching infinitely more enjoyable and entertaining. I think everyone can admit to that, like the man or not. And if he’s not fit enough to play in the US Open when it arrives at the hallowed grounds of Pinehurst, made so famous by Payne Stewart before his tragic death, then I may as well find another movie for that Sunday right now.

Get well soon, Tiger. The PGA and its fans need ya.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ice Hockey: American Sports’ Annoying Little Brother

There is a clear and definitive reason that the NHL lags far behind the other three major American sports. A reason that fandom is restricted to north of the Mason-Dixon, and specifically only New England, the Tri-State Area, and the northern Midwest (and Canada if you count it, but c’mon now, I know you don't). A reason why a lockout –which every sport goes through- threatened the sustainability of the entire league.  A reason why I would rather watch Guy Fieri make a complete ass of himself on the Food Network than watch a hockey game. And that reason is:

Ice hockey sucks.

That’s right, you are hearing this from a native New Englander, one who grew up a mere 30 miles from where one of the Hockey meccas of the universe. The town where the Bruins became a member of the Original 6 and cemented their NHL legacy, where college hockey teams like BC, BU, and Northeastern regularly compete for collegiate hockey dominance and produce some of the nation’s best, and in a state that overall loves its hockey: and I cannot stand it. Here’s why:

Hockey is essentially glorified soccer. It’s an indisputable fact that everyone in America hates soccer (except the Binge’s own Subbi) but these same people worship the sport of hockey. Apparently they are too dense to understand it is the SAME THING. Here’s a breakdown: Nothing happens for 15 minutes. The puck, like the soccer ball, goes up and down the ice and maybe is shot a few times… and then all of a sudden – GOOOOAAAAAAL! Everyone goes nuts. Guess what? SAME exact thing happens in soccer. But for some God-only-knows reason, in most people's eyes, a 3-1 hockey game is thrilling, and a 3-1 soccer game is terribly boring. Ridiculous. Either accept both or none at all. To choose one is just hypocritical. Now, am I saying I wouldn’t attend a hockey game as an excuse to get hammered and yell at people? Lord, no. But I can do that anywhere, believe me.  All I'm saying is if you show me a guy that finds watching hockey on television incredibly exciting, I’m going to show you a liar.

The sport allows fighting. ALLOWS IT. You know a sport must be horribly boring to watch when it has to involve fighting in the rules to keep people entertained. Its as if the creators of hockey thought to themselves, "Damn this is gonna be tough to watch, better let em punch each other." And people always use the same argument “Oh fighting is part of the game, hockey players are tough, blah blah blah.” As an obese Ben Stiller so famously says at the end of Dodgeball:  spare me.  Every sport is brutally tough and physically demanding in its own ways. But hockey is the only sport that shoves their physicality in your face unnecessarily. It demands you to be aware of how tough it is.  Seriously... spare me.    

Look, the macho hockey persona makes me sick. These guys think they’re the toughest dudes on the planet because they got a black eye or had a couple teeth knocked out. Joke. Meanwhile, on an NFL football field, you usually see a stretcher or cart once a game.  Not saying that’s a good thing, or even a contest, but football tries not to make it a part of the game. Hockey has to.

  • Sidenote: I could add a bit in here about the low morality that the sport has introduced on our nation’s youth. Stories involving hockey dads killing hockey dads, youth coaches who do not act like role models, and of course, youths being encouraged to drop the gloves:   But this piece will always proudly forgo the moral high road, so don’t be concerned. None of those are reasons why I dislike the sport.

By comparison, basketball is nonstop action for 2 hours; in a good basketball game, points are scored consistently and the excitement never stops. While baseball and football do have breaks, they also have incredible unpredictability with every snap or pitch thrown – you are on the edge of your seat, never knowing what’s going to happen. Hockey brings none of these aspects to the table. An average hockey game will have 55 minutes of boredom with 5 minutes of action sprinkled in, like a couple of chocolate chips on my pancakes. It’s just not enough. Stop wasting America’s time.

Now listen, for those of you who played throughout their youth... I get it. You have an emotional connection with the sport, understand the intricacies and whatnot, you grow out your lettuce and call people “benders”, and that’s all well and good. But the people who really drive me nuts are ones who decide to hop on the NHL bandwagon and decide that hockey, especially – GOOD GOD ESPECIALLY PLAYOFF HOCKEY – is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and the rest of us had better shape up and get on board with them. Every bandwagon hockey fan reminds me of Ricky Bobby in his ad for Big Red.. instead they say, "If you don't like playoff hockey then f**k you." Seriously bro? How many regular season games did you watch? My guess is not a lot.  It’s a phenomena that occurs annually at this time, and it never ceases to amaze me. So go ahead Boston fans, call me what you will, say I’m an idiot, say I’m missing out on Stanley Cups, etc… but guess what: my teams are the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and UConn athletics (see: bball) each of which have won as much or more than the Bruins in the past 10 years– so really, the joke is on you.

Legendary high school football coach Bill Redell once said, “Hockey’s like watching two guys fish.” Yeah. That’s the whole quote. It’s a real quote too – look it up. Not really sure what he meant by it, but I’m completely on board with his message. I suggest you all consider it tonight. 

Fox Sports v ESPN: A Female Reporters Battle Royale

     Up to this point, Fox Sports 1 has not been able to compete with the powerhouse that is ESPN. Everybody knew it would take time to take down Goliath, which is weird to say because Dinklage towers over most of their male anchors. But this article is not about comparing coverage of games, quality of research data, or TV ratings. This article is about the important things in life, like who's entertaining us better between game action. Who has the better women that make us neanderthals pound our chest and grunt at the screen? Let's take the top 3 female reporters of each network and pin them up against each other. *I recommend scrolling slowly 

        ROUND 1: Josina Anderson (ESPN) vs Molly Mcgrath (Fox Sports)

Tale of the tape: 

Josina - In one word? Spice! This chick will rock whatever outfit she damn well pleases with a sassy attitude and it works every time. Yes she tweets like a 12 year old and she may or may not have blocked me for calling her out on it, but her cat and mouse game is on point! The people love it! Not to mention her mouth could fit a cantaloupe and still have room to chew. Is she black, is she hispanic? Nobody cares, they just see a babe on screen trying to talk sports and it gets their juices flowin'. 

Molly - High school crush, hometown beauty, cutie-pie honeybun. Molly is the epitome of a girl every guy would love to wife up. Every time she's on the screen you can't help but think she's probably the nicest girl in sports. It was a very depressing day when she left the Celtics for greener pastures and we were stuck with ole crackhead Dickerson. Luckily we got rid of that hag and brought in some sweet Chin music. But I digress.

Winner: JOSINA! This bout probably goes 10 rounds but give me the wildcard everyday of the week. Sorry hun, you can't match that sex appeal with just a cute face and nice personality. Nice girls finish last too.

Round 2: Lindsay Cznariak (ESPN) vs. Charissa Thompson (Fox Sports)

Czarniak: Ahh, espins Polish Hammer. Got off to a hot start in the studio, then caught a swimmer and everything spiraled out of control from there. She's a real life version of Knocked Up and I can't hate her for it. Even reminds me of Heigl in the sense that she has on and off days. Easily the least consistent of the bunch. But when she's on, she's on. 

Charissa: Out-performed Beadle on SportsNation and does full splits on screen...what else is there to say. It's worth noting that she's dating Jay Williams (ya, that Jay Williams). Let's all agree to call a spade a spade here, Jay Williams is an ugly, cockeyed dude. Clean it up Thompson.

Winner: Thompson. Landslide victory here, mainly because I hate seeing pregnant women on screen, creeps me out. Not much of a matchup here, almost felt bad for the Czarn. It was like SuperBowl XXXI, the Pats make it on pure fight alone, then just get pickled by the better team. Czarniak got pickled.

       The Main Event: Sage Steele (ESPN) vs. Erin Andrews (FOX Sports)

This is what the people have been waiting for, the prime time event! Friends turned Foe! Two wily vets going head to head for network supremacy! Let Me Here ITTT!! (KG Jumbotron voice)

Steele: The true black mamba. A Lioness. If you're not on the Steele train then you need to take a lap. This girl has it all; the looks, the personality, the sex appeal. She's got former NBA All-Stars begging to take her out on camera, she got a smile that could end the war in Ukraine, and a body that will stay in shape until her dying day. A true 5 tool, middle of the order, every damn day player. Has been anchoring the ESPN lineup since she arrived and still has plenty of good years left in the tank. She actually watches the sports and knows what's going on..for the most part. Has all the intangibles you look for in a franchise player, easily ESPNs best.

Andrews: Here she is, the most polarizing figure in female reporting. The biggest 'me first' player in the game. Naughty. By. Nature. A truly conniving beast, who will do anything to up her fame and fortune. She's scratched and clawed her way to the top of the game, and I can only respect it. It can't be easy coming from Maine and trying to be a sex figure. Maine chicks are disgusting! But guess what, this broad captivates my pants when she's on screen. Yes she's a fame whore, yes she may have planted that peephole, and yes she doesn't have an A+ body or face. But while people may say they hate her out loud, deep in the depths of there twisted minds they're thinking about what a nut she'd be in the sack, and that is an intangible you can't teach.

And the Winner is....:

Andrews pulls it off! Andrews pulls it off! While Fox Sports may be getting crushed in the ratings, they are killing the female reporting game. That's something they can hang their hats on while their technology and overall sports analysis tries to catch up with the WorldWide Leader. Congratulations Fox Sports, at least you're doing something right and making men across the nation awkwardly tuck it up during broadcasts.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"I Believe That We Will Win" Will Make a Believer Out of You

Now I am by no means a huge futbol fan like my friend Subbi, but this video jacks me up. "I Believe That We Will Win." While I may not truly believe that we will win, the video makes you want to believe, am I right? You go into that video thinking US Men's Soccer sucks and you come out thinking, hell ya we are way better than those European fairies. Seriously though, even if your not a regular futbol fan the World Cup has to get you fired up and jumping on the band wagon. Here at the binge every 4 years we revel in the chance to auction off all 32 competing countries in arguably the best international tournament in sports for the chance to share in the glory of some foreign country. We bid on different teams in order to claim them as our own, hoping that they win the whole tournament and we win the pool. Our hopes and dreams flourish and die with the likes of countries such as C'ote D'Ivoire and Cameroon as we share in the glory of those proud African countries. To most countries this tournament is more than just soccer games, but a chance at something so much bigger. To be the best country at the most popular game in the world can bring a sense of pride not yet felt in American sports. This year the United States has set some lofty goals to meet the high expectations set for them this June in Brazil.

The United States Men's National Team is coming off their most successful year in team history. After a resilient effort in the 2010 World Cup in which the United States finished 12 in the World, noteworthy wins such as the victory of Brazil (2-0) this year in the FIFA World Cup Qualifications round makes this team worth watching in 2014. Now it is more than unlikely that they will even come close to winning the whole thing, but even making a run could help mainstream this sport more in the US and help us dominate yet another sport and facet of life in the world. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann knows what being on this stage is like, and more importantly how to win. A former World Cup champion in his own right as a player for the country of Germany, he has brought new flare and development to the United States Men's National Soccer Team. Klinsmann uses cutting-edge technology to create innovative training methods and meshes ideas from visionaries across all industries for a holistic approach to developing “24/7” athletes in the game of soccer. Klinsmann is focused on continuing to develop this innovation while doing whatever it takes to help grow this game in America. With a new look, new coach, and new attitude it will be exciting to see our men compete in this amazing tournament come June. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

David Stern and the Death of the NBA Rivarly

     With NBA playoff time right around the corner, there is a clear issue that big news outlets like ESPN and Fox Sports refuse to bring up, and that's the pure lack of any rivalries. Throughout the NBA's history there has always been a big rivalry in the era: Russell vs Wilt, Bird vs Magic, Jordan vs whoever was dumb enough to cover him. And here we sit in 2014 without a single team or player who hate each other. And I'll tell you who's fault it is, David Sterns. This guy inherited a league built on tough defense and grit in the 80's, and turned it into the schoolgirl ballet that it is now. Stern built in rules so you could no longer touch the offensive player just so the box score numbers would be bigger than his nose. He established a dress code which turned the pre game and post game outfits into a hipsters paradise. And potentially his most outrageous rule change came when he decided he didn't want players peacocking a monster dunk or tear drop right in the opponents eye. So lets break down each one of these atrocities.

     Lets start with the "Hands Off" rule changes that infuriate damn near everyone. Taking away hand checks and forearm use is Stern pretty much saying "Hey guys, stop being such meanies and play nice, just let either other shoot from wherever." This is when you would start to see some smoke in a rivalry. Back when you could get a little chippy during the game, players would get irritated and start calling either other out, essentially laying the ground work for hatred. Once this "no touching" rule was established, players didn't have a reason to get fired up. Instead it created an era of players who simply want to play with each other and dap it up after the game like some sort of broadway show. Puke. We have Paul George saying he idolizes Lebron, we have Chris Paul and Carmelo toasting each other at weddings, we have Erick Dampier losing to the Mavs in the Championship and still partying with them after!? Just ask yourself this, did you play harder against your most hated rival in high school or against your buddies in the schoolyard? Damn you Stern.

     Next up is the dress code ruling. I have to be honest here, this really doesn't have anything to do with the lack of rivalries, but something just had to be said. Maybe its the fact that having Johnny Weir pick your pre and post game outfits doesn't exactly scream manliness and passion for the sport. For some reason I can't see Dr. J grabbing Larry Legends throat, then wearing lensless shades and assless chaps* to the podium.

     Finally, the no taunting rule. This may be the worst ruling Mr Scrooge ever created. Tell me more offense is good, tell me the outfits are fine, but don't tell me that taunting doesn't wet your whistle. These are the acts that ignite a fan base and turn a likable player into a city legend. Brad Marchand putting water in the Sedins dish, Steve Smith and Talib ripping each others helmets off, Pedro telling Posada he's aiming for his head, then proceeding to use Donny Zimmers head as a medicine ball. THIS is what the NBA is missing. THIS is what Stern has taking away from us. Now we have a spaghetti spined commissioner in Adam Silver who will do whatever the players tell him to. When players can't get a little physical, the games fiery passion gets lobotomized in a sense. So Rest In Peace NBA rivalries, you were fun while you lasted.

*players do not wear assless chaps after the games...I don't think

Bhullar To The Draft!!!! Bhullar To The Draft!!!!


How's he gonna declare right as the season ends?! Need more time to lose more games. You think the Celtics would've rattled off that mini winning streak had they known Big Sim was declaring? I think we all know the answer.

One small step for man, one giant leap for MUMBAI! Oh baby, what a confident young man Bhullar is. He has NO business declaring for the NBA draft but who cares! Just a 7 foot monster with no post game, no stamina and no deodorant.

You got guys like Jabari Parker seriously contemplating whether or not to come back to college and here's ol' Bhully just declaring right in our faces. Marcus Smart bypassed a certain top10 draft pick in order to come back to school but Bhullar thinks he's polished enough to take on the likes of Duncan and Hibbert.

Oh, this is RICH.

But who am I to doubt a Bhullar. My athletic glory days ended in high school. Meanwhile you can catch Bhullar kickin' it in the green room with Wiggins, Randle and Gordon.

Spelling bee and basketball... ESPN best bring their bibs!

Pardon me while I find the nearest Subway platform: