Anti-modernization tracts are pretty much our bread and butter here at FJM. Rarely are they this multi-grained and buttery. Hit it, Frank Deford.
Possibly because I'm scared of technology, I'm not always pleased by what are called "advances" in our society. Sometimes I think we were better off in more innocent times -- which is, to say, back when I could understand stuff better.
At least he admits it. One point for admitting it. Deford 1, Sanity 0.
Actually, I consider myself secular Amish.
Admitting it again doesn't get you a second point.
Synthetic rackets pretty much ruined the beauty of tennis. Children have no business swinging lethal aluminum baseball bats. Now there's even talk that a new bathing suit made by Speedo, in which all sorts of swimmers are setting world records, constitutes "technological doping."
The tennis racket argument is one to which I weirdly subscribe. I used to follow tennis fanatically. The first time I ever voluntarily woke up early was to watch Breakfast at Wimbledon when I was like 7. But the other things...aluminum bats is a cost issue, I think, for little leagues and colleges and stuff. The bathing suit thing...? Never heard of it. How much of an advantage can a speedo be? Does it have an outboard motor attached to it? (Hope it's not an inboard motor! Hey-oooo!) (Ouch! Now that's what I call a "close shave!" Heeeyyyyy-oooooo! )What were we talking about? Oh yes. The Unabomber was giving us an anti-tech panegyric.
You know what's even worse? Technology has made it so there are so few surprises left in the world. Is that really an advance? Parents know whether their baby is a boy or girl long before it's born.
Yes, we should all be like the peasants, and birth our babies in the fields, and decorate our nurseries in gender-neutral yellow. (You do know you can opt not to learn the sex, right? It's a choice. Choices are usually considered good things.)
You can tell who's calling you on the phone before you answer.
I'm calling bullshit louder than I've ever called bullshit in my personal history. Is there a single person on this crazy blue marble we call "Earth" who does not like caller ID? Caller ID is the greatest thing in the universe. How many unwanted calls have been avoided thanks to caller ID? A hundred billion? Does Frank Deford not know the specific pleasure one has when one looks at one's phone and sees "Work" and rotates one's Blackberry toggle wheel thingy to "ignore?" Does Frank Deford prefer -- when awaiting an important call -- to answer his ringing phone and hear the voice of a representative from Wachovia Bank who wants to know if all of his investment needs are being met? I ask you, people -- does Frank Deford not have one crazy ex-girlfriend?
The real joy in taking photographs was that you didn't know how they turned out 'til you got them back from the Photo Zip a few days later. Of course, some of the pictures were awful, but what's the fun of taking only safe shots instead of snap shots.
I measured the decibel level at which I called bullshit on the caller ID thing, and I am now buying a second amp and a kick-ass tweeter, and I am paying some very pricey A/V guys to install this equipment with like 6"-diameter cable connecting everything, and I am inventing a new kind of megaphone that has its own internal volumizing booster, and I am doing all of this in order to call bullshit louder than I just called bullshit on that other thing, because: are you fucking kidding me?
Listen, man -- I like nostalgia. I think there are certain aspects of our pre-internet days that were preferable to their modern counterparts. (For example, baseball cards were much better in the 1980's than they are now. Upper Deck ruined everything.) But taking pictures of important events in your life and then driving somewhere and dropping them off and then waiting a few days and then driving back and picking them up and finding out that half of them were out of focus and the other half sucked? This is not one of them.
Digital cameras are way better -- for the average non-professional, at least, which is all I can speak to -- than film cameras. Easier to use, cheaper to use, faster to use. If you are being driven crazy because you can't remember who played Hunt Stevenson in the TV version of "Gung Ho," IMDb is better than the old method: just going fucking crazy and never coming up with the right answer. (Which is: Scott Bakula.) That's the deal, man. Not everything newer is better. But a lot of stuff is.
Maybe that's why sport gets more popular all the time. It's about the last thing we have that still has some suspense to it.
Tell that to Obama and Clinton! (Political humor. Topical. Relevant.)
And that's why I can't stand the National Football League and National Basketball Association drafts. What disappoints me so about these protracted selections is that fans don't want surprises in the draft. Really, they don't. They want to look into the camera and see the picture before it's taken.
Is this true? I'm seriously asking. I don't feel this way. I don't like to know what I'm getting for Christmas, I don't like knowing plot twists in movies, and I don't particularly like knowing whom my team is going to draft. If I'm a Dolphin fan right now, I'm happy, because Long seems like a good bet. But I'm a tiny bit sad, because the wrapping is off the present on Dec. 23.
For weeks now, leading up to the real NFL draft this weekend, all sorts of self-appointed experts have been creating so-called mock drafts, and basically, they're all the same. Oh, some bloviator might have this linebacker going third and that one pegs him fourth, but it's pretty much the same names at the top.
That's because the 25 or so best players in the draft are pretty clear every year, and the needs of the 32 teams are pretty obvious, and the trends of the GMs of those teams are known quantities, so...people can predict things, kind of. Still, nobody nor his mother saw Ted Ginn, Jr. going #9 last year, did he or her?
The fans get brainwashed, and so if their team should dare take somebody who wasn't touted by the echo chorus, they have a fit.
Do they? Again, I am asking. I think fans have a fit because they are diehard and/or drunk, and use the draft to take out their frustrations on their GMs. Jets fans just seem to take out their frustrations, period, no matter whom they pick. I don't think it's always because the pick was unexpected or something.
Mock drafts become the reality that reality must accommodate itself to. It's like in school now, where children study how to take tests rather than study how to learn something.
An elegant analogy, but I'm not sure it's an apt one. Because again, I disagree with the central premise here -- that any variance from Mel Kiper's Mock Draft 16.0 drives people crazy. I think the fans are super knowledgeable and get upset when a team reaches too far, or skips over someone who they think could help them. Sometimes they're wrong -- amazingly, Mario Williams might end up being a better #1 overall than Reggie Bush, and who the hell saw that coming (if it indeed happens)?
It's also terribly ironic. Football fans always want their team to go for it on fourth down instead of punting, to take risks on the field, but when draft day comes they're all conditioned by now to be completely conservative ... lemmings.
Going for it more on 4th down -- last year's Super Bowl 4th and 13 abomination be damned -- seems to be a better bet than most coaches think. And again, I just don't think people freak out on draft day because of conservatism instilled in them by mock drafts. I think they freak out because people freak out about the things their football teams do.
And, of course, draft mistakes are legion. But draft-guessing has become a cottage industry, and essentially these seers are graded on how they assess the draft, not how their top selections actually play football after they are drafted. It would be as if you judged your stock broker on how well he picked the most popular stocks, not how well he chose stocks that actually went up in value.
Being a New England Patriots fan, I can definitively say that we judge Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick on how the guys play on the field. I was shocked when they took Ben Watson in the first round. I was surprised when they went with Maroney. But I didn't really get upset...because I am not an insane person who judges books by their covers. (Except for this one, which you can clearly tell is going to be awesome just by looking at it.)
I sometimes have the feeling that the more film we have of these players, the more sophisticated technology to study them, the less we know, both about the players being chosen and the professionals who choose them.
How can that be? Seriously. Even metaphorically, how can that be? You're telling me that today's GM knows less about Chad Henne now than he would have in the 1970's? How? Why? When? Which? Whap? Worf?
Football people have guts. I think, though, that too few of them any longer dare possess gut instinct.
There you go, NFL GMs. Ditch the scouting reports. Throw away the tape. Ignore the needs of your team. Put the blast shield down and use the Force to deflect the little laser blasts from the training drone.
(Yeah -- that's a ST: TNG reference and a Star Wars reference in the same post. Sometimes I play into the blogger stereotype. Deal with it.)
Labels: football, frank deford, political humor, scott bakula, star trek: the next generation, star wars
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