I Just Returned from 2005

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Folks, I realize I’ve been dormant lately. Not many posts, not much quality, just not what my dozen(s) of loyal readers have come to expect. Well, there’s a good reason for that: I’ve been stuck in the year 2005. I can’t divulge how it happened. Mostly because I’m not totally sure, myself. Maybe it was my rampant experimentation with unstable elements, maybe it was a rogue temporal vortex, maybe it was just an act of whatever entity is controlling this whole thing. No matter what the cause was, I’ve spent the last few weeks drifting in and out of 2005. And now I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t.

For starters, did Tiger Woods just win the Masters? I know he did in 05, I just watched it. I was lucky enough to get put in exactly the same date as 2019. Kind of weird, thinking about it. But now I’m seeing Tiger won again this year? Is this the same Tiger Woods? The one that hit rock bottom twice and had to get a million surgeries on his back? That guy played golf again? And won the Masters? What? I’m kind of confused. I thought we’d never see Tiger again, and the second I return to the present timeline he’s still Masters champion? Is this some side effect of my time traveling? Did the scandal even happen? Do you guys have any idea what happened Thanksgiving 2009? Did that whole saga get erased by my presence in 2005? Do I just sound like a crazy person? I’m glad Tiger’s back, though. Or did he never leave? Allow me to be the four millionth person to say I like it better when Tiger’s around and guys like Xander Schauffele and Danny Willett and Jimmy Walker and Webb Simpson and Trevor Immelman and all these LOSER nobodies that are indistinguishable from cans of paint primer aren’t. Welcome back.

NBA playoffs are getting started and LeBron James is nowhere to be found. He wasn’t there in 2005, either. Has he ever made the playoffs in this timeline? Is he just a Harrod’s version of Jamal Crawford now? Because in the original 2019 he’s been in the playoffs every year since 05. Totally dominant every year. But now he’s out of the playoffs? He’s on the Lakers, though! The L.A. Lakers! One of the premier organizations in American sports can’t make the playoffs with LeBron? Wild. Does this mean the Warriors never blew a 3-1 lead? Because I’d be fine if that era of jokes never happened.

The last thing that stuck out to me is probably the most important. When I first got to 2005, Wrestlemania 21 was about to kick off. I was instantly transported back to middle school. No worries, no responsibilities, no nothing. It was great. I settled down for a great few hours of quality World Wrestling Entertainment, capped off by a thrilling main event:

And now, fourteen years after this, Triple H and Batista faced each other at Wrestlemania again. Incredible. Both men are still the same age and in the same physical condition in 2019 as they were in 2005. Completely naturally, too! Try telling me these two stallions didn’t follow me out of the time vortex into 2019 after watching this:

What an incredible display of athleticism and stamina.

I officially don’t know which way is up anymore. What’s real and what isn’t? Was I actually sucked back into 2005 or did a bunch of old athletes just recapture some former glory/completely torpedo their seasons by failing to pull off the worst trade request of all time? My brain is so twisted around. The Pats are still good, right?

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I Don’t Like March Opening Days

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Opening Day in baseball is a lot of things. It’s the start of a new season, obviously, but it’s also a sign of spring, a celebration of Americana, and a wellspring of hope for baseball fans all across the world. It’s also way too early.

March 28th isn’t a baseball day. It just isn’t. The Final Four hasn’t even been set yet and I’m watching sentient side of beef Luke Voit and the Yankees face the Orioles, who might have the worst roster I’ve ever seen in professional sports. That’s an “it’s late April/early May and the stuff I actually want to do today hasn’t started yet” activity, not late March. It’s too cold for baseball. It’s not hot dog weather, it’s not sitting outside for four hours doing nothing weather, it’s not lawn mowing weather, it’s just flat out not baseball weather. What’s the point of having Opening Day this early and on a Thursday? So it gets lost in the NCAA Tournament shuffle? Sick marketing strategy.

I’m just not ready for baseball. Maybe it’s more of a me thing, but I feel like this season really snuck up on me. Like Nate Eovaldi just put the team on his back for a million innings yesterday, now it’s time for a new 162? Getting old stinks, man. I used to be so on top of this stuff. I had every sport’s opening day circled on my calendar months in advance, had every storyline memorized, knew where literally every player in the league went to elementary school, the whole thing. Now I’m being semi-surprised by baseball’s Opening Day, the most sacred of all opening days. Those two Japan games had me feeling like the Mr. Krabs meme. Whatever, get me to July when there’s nothing else going on and I’ll be back. But what I do know is that the Red Sox won the World Series last year and are bringing back the same team this year. And this season figures to have some dormant teams in the playoff mix. The Phillies, Reds, Padres, and Mets could, at the very least, not be awful this year, and might flirt with being good. Maybe this is the year the Angels actually put a contender around Mike Trout. Doubt it, but that’s the allure of Opening Day. Anything can happen. Except, apparently, starting on an appropriate date.

69 Thoughts on Rob Gronkowski, The Greatest Tight End in NFL History

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  1. Rob Gronkowski retired from the NFL yesterday.
  2. Rob Gronkowski is the greatest player to ever play the tight end position and one of the greatest all-around football players in league history.
  3. If you think there’s a tight end that was better than Rob Gronkowski you’re wrong.
  4. Gronk was the best blocking tight end ever and the best receiving tight end ever. Do the math.
  5. The best number 87 in NFL history, too.
  6. People forget his brother Chris played in the league, too.
  7. People forget his brother Dan played in the league, too.
  8. People forget his brother Glenn played in the league, too.
  9. Five best Gronk seasons
  10. 90 catches, 1,327 yards, 17 TDs (2011)- also the greatest season in tight end history
  11. 82 catches, 1,124 yards, 12 TDs (2014)
  12. 72 catches, 1,176 yards, 11 TDs (2015)
  13. 69 catches, 1,084 yards, 8 TDs (2017)- surely his favorite season
  14. 81 catches, 1,163 yards, 12 TDs (16 playoff games)
  15. List of various records Gronk has
  16. Only tight end to lead the league in touchdown catches.
  17. Only tight end with over 1,000 career playoff receiving yards.
  18. Naturally, that makes him the all-time leader in playoff receiving yards by a tight end.
  19. Most TD catches in a season by a tight end (17).
  20. Most TDs in a season by a tight end (18).
  21. Most playoff receiving TDs by a tight end (12).
  22. Most seasons with 10+ TDs by a tight end (5).
  23. Only tight end with three 1,000+ yard and 10+ TD seasons.
  24. Tied for most 1,000 yard seasons by tight end (4, with Tony Gonzalez).
  25. Most consecutive seasons with 10+ TDs by a tight end (3).
  26. Tied for most TDs in first two seasons (28, with Randy Moss).
  27. Youngest player with 3 TD catches in a game (2010).
  28. Youngest player with 3 TD catches in a playoff game (2011).
  29. Most Super Bowl receptions by tight end (23).
  30. Most Super Bowl receiving yards by tight end (297).
  31. All-time leader in tight end yards per game (68.3- so close!)
  32. All-time leader in tight end touchdowns per game (.69- hell yeah)
  33. All-time leader in tight end yards per target (9.9)
  34. Tom Brady’s passer rating when targeting Gronk was 127.1
  35. My favorite parts of Gronk’s career:
  36. When he had 7 TDs in the second half of his rookie year and announced himself to the world.
  37. When he threatened to revolutionize the NFL in 2011 when his partnership with [redacted] tore up the league with the greatest tight end production ever.
  38. As he steadily added new massive braces every year, he became harder to tackle.
  39. All the Pats haters realizing they liked Gronk, thus breaking their brains.
  40. Having the best quarterback ever throw to the best tight end ever was pretty sweet, if you ask me.
  41. Best individual games/moments:
  42. The camo elbow brace
  43. When he nearly won the 2015 AFC Championship Game in Denver single-handedly.
  44. When he was an inch away from catching the deflected Hail Mary in the 2011 Super Bowl.
  45. His final catch- the diving catch that set up the only touchdown in this year’s Super Bowl.
  46. Yo Soy Fiesta
  47. Gronk somehow managing to be the ultimate frat bro but being almost universally beloved throughout his career is an underrated phenomenon.
  48. Gronk was a true 1-of-1. No one that big and strong will ever be as fast and nimble as he was.
  49. Hey, Travis Kelce, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be as good or as cool as Gronk. Boom, roasted.
  50. This preposterous Dunkin ad.
  51. I’ll be honest, 69 is a lot of thoughts to have on Gronk.
  52. That time he was photographed with porn star Bibi Jones and had to apologize to Bob Craft is so funny now.
  53. Hate on the Pats all you want, Gronk was a genuinely good guy.
  54. He’s a regular at schools and children’s hospitals and seems to actually enjoy giving back.
  55. Probably doesn’t hurt that the kids all have the same sense of humor as he does.
  56. It’s too late for a Wrestlemania run this year, but 2020?
  57. It makes too much sense.
  58. I’m gonna miss Gronk, man.
  59. On the field, he’s irreplaceable. Probably the second-most irreplaceable player from this entire run (wonder who’s number one?).
  60. I’ll pray for all the tables in the greater Western New York area.
  61. Let’s be honest, though. He’ll be back for the playoffs.

 

Farewell Ichiro

You’d be forgiven for not knowing that the 2019 MLB season actually started yesterday when the Mariners and A’s began a two-game set in Tokyo. That sentence doesn’t exactly move the needle for the American mainstream. But something monumental happened early this morning: Ichiro Suzuki, future Hall of Famer, played his last Major League Baseball game.

It’s tough to know where to start with Ichiro, especially for people who don’t remember his prime. I guess I’ll start with his numbers since they’re the only part of him that’s easy to quantify. He came to the MLB at age 27 after getting 1,278 hits with a .943 OPS in Japan and immediately won Rookie of the Year and MVP. His first 10 seasons in the league he made the All-Star Game every year, got over 200 hits every year, won a Gold Glove every year, won two batting titles, lead the league in hits seven times, and collected 2,244 hits and 383 steals. He was a beast and one of the best two-way outfielders in history who was underappreciated in his prime because he played in Seattle for a team that didn’t win a lot and in the early-to-mid 2000s we still didn’t really understand that counting wins and losses against a baseball player was kind of dumb. In 2004 guy set the record for hits in a season, won a Gold Glove, and lead the American League in WAR and finished 7th in MVP. Huh? Listen, the last eight years or so weren’t great, but the fact that he was still playing at all into his 40s is amazing. He’s the all-time hit leader if you combine his Japanese and MLB stats, and that’s really all you need to know. He’s a no-doubt, first ballot Hall of Famer.

But if he was just another great player, he wouldn’t be Ichiro. Ichiro was just cool, man. Everything about him was cooler than everyone else around him. Fastest guy in the league? Cool. Absolute rocket arm that could gun people down at age 45? Cool. Unreal highlight catches? Cool. His sunglasses were cool. His stance was cool. The Mariners Ichiro number 51 jersey was cool as hell. Was he also a fashion icon?

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I’ll let you decide.

Ichiro, at least for me, is kind of the last remnant of a time I’m finding myself oddly nostalgic for (despite spending many, many words defending the current era). Ichiro came into the league two years before Moneyball was released and put us on the road to solving baseball. It was a time when speed mattered, guys actually put the ball in play, and teams had different styles of play. A time when the Three True Outcomes weren’t a widely-known concept. Don’t get me wrong, I love today’s game. But are steals and balls in play really that bad (don’t tell anyone, but I’m starting to feel this way about the NBA, too. I don’t need every game to be a Rockets game)? I wouldn’t say Ichiro wouldn’t be able to succeed in today’s homer-centric league, he’s too talented of a baseball player not to be able to adapt to any era. But his career would certainly be different, and I think it would be worse.

One of the best player profiles I’ve ever read was Wright Thompson’s piece on Ichiro from last year. He described Ichiro’s relationship with his father and how, even though he resented the endless drills and practicing, he became addicted to the craft. There’s a Japanese concept called kodawari (yes, I’m a mild weeb, but you already knew that) that’s, in essence, an extreme focus on and dedication to achieving perfection in whatever you’re doing even though you know perfection is impossible. To see Ichiro demonstrate this so clearly and come so close to finding perfection with something he doesn’t even really like is fascinating to me. Part of me wonders if we’ll ever really see Ichiro again, but something tells me he’s going to enjoy his retirement too much to come back to the game. Thnks fr th Mmrs, Ichiro.

The Only Guide You’ll Need for March Madness 2019

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Folks,,, it’s March Madness time. Crazy how it happens around the same time every year. The first weekend is my favorite four day stretch of the year, it’s your favorite four days of the year, it’s everyone’s favorite four days of the year. It’s a time to eat infinite amounts of pizza, wings, and snacks, drink as much beer as you want, and let your brain and body turn to mush as you watch a million consecutive hours of college basketball. The comedown from this high is something I imagine heroin users deal with when trying to get clean. Maybe not that bad, but still.

I’ve made it a tradition over the last couple years to give one-sentence primers for every team in the field to help with your brackets. I’ll do the same here, obviously, but there’s one problem: I’m so out of the loop with college basketball this year. I’ve hardly watched any. I’m busy most nights and then the NBA is more interesting and UConn is the worst team in D1 and there are a million other factors, but I’m the guy that’s tuning in for his first extended run of college b-ball watching this weekend. Only difference between me and the other casual Johnny-Come-Latelys is that my brain is big enough to put together a perfect preview without the full knowledge. I can always see the full board, and I know these teams better than they know themselves even though I don’t know them at all. Just think about how impressive that is. So don’t worry. You’re still in good hands. Yearly reminder that if you’re making earnest “Where’s TruTV?” jokes or legitimately can’t find a television channel in the year of our Lord 2019, you don’t deserve to live anymore.

East Region

  1. Duke– Zion Williamson, am I right?
  2. Michigan State– Every single player on their team is hurt so don’t expect much.
  3. LSU– Their coach is being investigated by the FBI and is suspended, so things are going great.
  4. Virginia Tech– Buzz Williams coached Jimmy Butler, people forget that.
  5. Mississippi State– Alright, like, come on, Mississippi State is the worst 5 seed in history.
  6. Maryland– One of the youngest teams in the field so they’ll make you feel really good about your life.
  7. Louisville– Feel like they’re due for a run (#analysis).
  8. VCU– VCU will always be somewhere between an 8-10 seed and always run the same full-court press regardless of roster or coach.
  9. UCF– Tacko Fall is 7’6″, which my sources are confirming is quite tall.
  10. Minnesota– No word on if Richard Pitino reaches climax as quickly as his father.
  11. Belmont– Belmont should have been in the regular field without dealing with play-in game antics.
  12. Liberty– People forget Seth Curry went to Liberty his freshman year and averaged 20 a game.
  13. Saint Louis– Remember a few years ago when Saint Louis was randomly good for a few seasons? What was up with that?
  14. Yale– I will die fighting against people who frame Ivy League teams as plucky underdogs.
  15. Bradley– I respect the delusion it takes to strip a reporter of his press pass for not advancing the Bradley brand enough.
  16. N.C. Central/North Dakota State– Why are there two play-in games in the same bracket and why is there a Midwest region instead of a North region and why does no one but me care?

Midwest Region

  1. North Carolina– I know they’ve got a few NBA guys on the team, but when did UNC lose all its star power? They haven’t had any must-watch guys in years.
  2. Kentucky– Please let Tyler Herro hit a game-winning shot so we can have a pun-pocalypse.
  3. Houston– I know they’re a fellow AAC team but if you actually believe they can do anything in the tournament I’ve got a few bridges to sell you.
  4. Kansas– Kansas STINKS this year but they’re still somehow the last team I’d want to play.
  5. Auburn– Their strategy is “shoot a billion 3s,” which I respect on a deep level.
  6. Iowa State– Somehow three guys from this team will be in the NBA in four years.
  7. Wofford– They’ll be the trendy upset pick because people like college teams with a bunch of white guys who can shoot.
  8. Utah State– I’m kind of feeling them this year even though I don’t love their draw.
  9. Washington– I assume they’re still handsomely paying elite athletes under-the-table (or over-the-table, I don’t think they really care) to put on the purple and gold.
  10. Seton Hall– Seton Hall sounds like an English soccer stadium name.
  11. Ohio State– It’s always kind of stupid when teams like Ohio State get seeded so low because, like, they’ve gotta have better players than Utah State.
  12. New Mexico State– Pascal Siakam went to New Mexico State, bet not many people knew that.
  13. Northeastern– I took a tour of Northeastern when either my sister or I was touring colleges so there’s that.
  14. Georgia State– Still got R.J. Hunter, right?
  15. Abilene Christian– Abilene Christian always pops up every few years and does absolutely nothing in the tournament.
  16. Iona– They’re my local team, now.

South Region

  1. Virginia– Can’t really get worse, can it?
  2. Tennessee– Grant Williams is giving me major “Derrick Williams in 2011” vibes (that’s a good thing).
  3. Purdue– First Man came out just before the season, which should propel Purdue to their typical second-round exit.
  4. Kansas State– Super boring. That’s really all you need to know.
  5. Wisconsin– The year is 2187, and Wisconsin basketball is led by two white guys with buzzcuts who like to take charges.
  6. Villanova– Spent long stretches of the season being absolutely awful but count them out at your own risk.
  7. Cincinnati– If it wasn’t reckless libel, I would probably imply that Mick Cronin’s absurd outbursts of anger and violence on the sidelines likely follow him home.
  8. Ole Miss– If you told me Ole Miss didn’t play one basketball game this season I would have believed you.
  9. Oklahoma– If you told me Oklahoma didn’t play one basketball game this season I would have believed you.
  10. Iowa– What’s the post-WWII record for most white guys in one region?
  11. St. Mary’s– St. Mary’s has never been anything other than an 11 seed.
  12. Oregon– Bol Bol won’t be playing, so the one guy you might have known is out the window.
  13. UC Irvine– Doc Rivers and Caron Butler both have kids on this team, how about that?
  14. Old Dominion– Love coach Jeff Jones. Who? Jeff Jones. Who? Jeff Jones. Who? Haha, no, we have fun here.
  15. Colgate– You have my permission to slap anyone who makes toothpaste jokes.
  16. Garnder-Webb– I don’t know, man. They’re gonna lose, who cares?

West Region

  1. Gonzaga– They have the most high-level players in the country, so expect them to lose before the Elite Eight because that’s how the Tournament works.
  2. Michigan– I’m pretty sure I’d be like, the third best scorer on this Michigan team.
  3. Texas Tech– Veteran team with at least one NBA guy= Elite Eight.
  4. Florida State– No idea how Florida State always has ten 7’2″ guys but they do.
  5. Marquette– Markus Howard is going to be your new favorite player (assuming he gets hot and they win).
  6. Buffalo– How do you convince a bunch of good basketball players to go to school in Buffalo? Just money?
  7. Nevada– Nevada was supposed to be super nasty this year. They weren’t.
  8. Syracuse– Sources have yet to confirm if Tony Stewart will be behind the Orange bench.
  9. Baylor– Teams that win nineteen games shouldn’t be in the Tournament.
  10. Florida– Teams that win nineteen games shouldn’t be in the Tournament.
  11. Arizona State/St. John’s– Does Arizona State just have a permanent spot in the First Four?
  12. Murray State– Ja Morant is good.
  13. Vermont– Committee screwed my Cats with this matchup. Trying to keep the Blue Bloods down smh.
  14. Northern Kentucky– Northern Kentucky is nicknamed the Norse after the famed Norse from Northern Kentucky.
  15. Montana– I bet Montana is a nice place to live.
  16. Fairleigh Dickinson– Really dislike the way Fairleigh is spelled.