Friday, October 12, 2007

Sportsguy Slips

In his NFL picks column today Sportsguy wrote a paragraph that at first simply made my jaw drop because of its stupidity. But as the hours have passed I have become actively angry about it. Here is the offending paragraph:
So these past few years have been surreal for Boston fans: Three Super Bowl titles and a World Series title, the transformation of the Sox-Yankees feud into a full-fledged rivalry, and the evolution of the Patriots from a perennial black sheep to the undisputed villain of the NFL. Back in 1999, when the fortunes of our sports teams had sunk so low that Gerry Callahan dubbed Boston "Loserville," I would have happily settled for one contender to watch ... and I probably would have chopped off a pinky like Ronnie Lott to make it happen. Eight years later, we have three legitimate contenders. It's amazing.

Keep in mind a few salient facts. Bill Simmons is arguably the most popular, widely read sportswriter in America. He works for the unquestionable sports entertainment empire, the "Worldwide Leader" in sports. I'll guarantee he is making a huge income. And he is from Boston and demonstrably a huge Boston sports fan. And yet he wrote the following sentence: "Back in 1999, when the fortunes of our sports teams had sunk so low that Gerry Callahan dubbed Boston 'Loserville,' I would have happily settled for one contender to watch ... and I probably would have chopped off a pinky like Ronnie Lott to make it happen."


Bill Simmons would have "happily settled for one contender to watch" on the Boston sporting scene in 1999. In 1999 the Red Sox made the postseason for the second year in a row for the first time since the Babe Ruth era. They defeated Cleveland in a rather memorable series in which an injured Pedro Martinez came in from the bullpen to shut the Indians down over several innings.


"Back in 1999, when the fortunes of our sports teams had sunk so low that Gerry Callahan dubbed Boston 'Loserville,' I would have happily settled for one contender to watch ... and I probably would have chopped off a pinky like Ronnie Lott to make it happen."


The 1998 New England Patriots, whose season extended into 1999, made the playoffs, and the 1999 Pats were 8-8. In other words, the Patriots were a contender for postseason play in 1999, as for more than half of that year they looked back on a season in which they had just made the playoffs, and then when their season began in September they began 6-2. Heading into their November 15 game against the Jets, the Patriots were not only a contender, they were one of the best teams in the AFC.


"Back in 1999, when the fortunes of our sports teams had sunk so low that Gerry Callahan dubbed Boston 'Loserville,' I would have happily settled for one contender to watch ... and I probably would have chopped off a pinky like Ronnie Lott to make it happen."


And while I know that Sportsguy is not a hockey fan, that is hardly the fault of the Bruins, who won their first round series against Carolina and took the Sabres, who went to the Stanley Cup Finals, to six games before losing. In 1999.


"Back in 1999, when the fortunes of our sports teams had sunk so low that Gerry Callahan dubbed Boston 'Loserville,' I would have happily settled for one contender to watch ... and I probably would have chopped off a pinky like Ronnie Lott to make it happen."


The Celtics that year were terrible. The other three Boston professional sports teams were by any definitions contenders. Simmons' performance here is simply ghastly, and given that he writes for an online source, and that the research of the facts of this assertion about the putridity of Boston sports in 1999 is a fingerclick away, how can Simmons and his corporate overlords justify this sort of half-assed performance?


(He also misuses the word "irony" and both misuses and misspells the word "ubuntu." Where the hell is his editor?)

5 comments:

greg said...

The Pats had also just played in the Super Bowl in 1997, losing to Green Bay. And why are they the "undisputed villain" of the NFL? Because of the recent episode of "cheating"? Because they consistently win without showboating and without criminal superstars (a case could be made for Moss, but he arrived only this year). Simmons seems to be simplifying sports to an equation of, if you are a dynasty, you are evil. That could be the stupidest thing in his article. If I weren't such a Packers fan, I would argue that the Patriots, save for the recent cheating, represent all that is right with sports. They are humble, consistently great and quite possibly, one of the greatest football dynasties we've ever seen.

Thunderstick said...

zI actually think Simmons had the year wrong--I think he meant to reference 2000. I can't remember all the specifics, but as far as each team goes, the C's continued to be terrible. The Pats went 5-11 and yeah Greg they had just gotten to the 97 Super Bowl (I think it was techically the 96 season), but the three Pete Carroll years after that had gotten progressively worse and Belichick had thrown up a 5-11 in his first season and things were dark in Pats land. I can't remember all the specifics of the season, but I think the Sox finished maybe with 84-85 wins that year and took a big step back from 1999. For some reason, I remember 2000 being the first time in like 50 years that no Boston team made the playoffs in any of their sports. I moved up to Massachusetts from Pennsylvania in August of 2001 and I remember when I came up how excited I was to be back amongst the Boston sports team and to be able to watch all their games, but I also remember thinking "damn, this is the worst time to come back here--all these teams suck." But then the Pats turned it around in 2001. The C's made a run to the eastern conference finals and the Sox brought in Theo and the new ownership shortly after I moved up and everything turned sunny.

I will agree with sportsguy on this though--I can't remember a time that I was so excited to be a Boston sports fan. Sox are in it. Pats are ridiculous. And this is the first C's season I've really been looking forward too in a long, long time.

g_rob said...

You're right, it was the 96 season. The Super Bowl was in January of 97.

Matthew Guenette said...

On the ALCS: up to Game 4 (watching it now) and it kills me to say that Cleveland is the better team. Not by a wide margin, but by a very clear, thin margin. They're pushing all the right buttons, wish I could say the same for Francona.

What will the Sox need to do in the off-season?

dcat said...

Guys --
It is true that the Pats played in the Super Bowl after the 1996 season, but the game was played in 1997.
If Sportsguy meant 2000 but was too lazy to look it up and his editors could not be bothered, it just reaffirms everything I wrote in the initial post.
As for Matt's question: A lot of what the Sox will need to do in the offseason will have to do with contracts (Id sign lowell, let Schill go) and with continuing to develop the young guys. Ellsbury clearly needs to play next year. If we jettison Schill we need lester to step up. We could use one more bat but it would have to fit into the lineup we have. I have no idea what to do about Drew. Let's also hope Dice-K will be prepared to give a full season.

dcat