Musical fire courtesy of OK Go and RJD2.
Download here or here, stream below, itunes link below, and RSS feed here. Respect.
Kicking off a second season of this soccer-themed podcast, after a baffling hiatus during a massive soccer tournament this summer, The Barrister is joined by The Defenseman to talk Liverpool, the Premier League, vicious dictators, the Bills (barely acceptable tangential takes), and exclusive information about Liverpool's recent signings. Little known fact: The Defenseman has an uncanny ability to research the back stories of European footballers.
Musical fire courtesy of OK Go and RJD2.
Download here or here, stream below, itunes link below, and RSS feed here. Respect.
Damn, kids. So much law shit creeping into our sports shit, you'd think I'd be popping on here more often to explain to you plebes how the world works, but I gots stuff to do. I'll break down my thoughts on the Bills trust soon and how the revelation by Mark Poloncarz that the trustees who decide on the Bills sale may have a "fiduciary duty" to sell to the highest bidder is the most obvious-as-fuck revelation since Mike Harrington revealed he likes Soft Batch cookies and tall glasses of warm milk. NO FUCKING WAY! Our media fails us, again, if for no other reason that that it took about two months for someone to actually consider the legal obligations in play with the Bills and that perhaps irrelevant is the shared hope of proving our eternal devotion to the Bills trustees so that they'll be overcome with a certain sense of civic pride and sell the team to Jim Kelly for pennies and leave us all in a land of bliss and tailgate blunts and shotgunned beers in perpetuity.
BUT THAT RANT IS FOR ANOTHER DAY.
Nay, today is not about the crippling sense of Ralph Wilson's failures and the inevitability of the trustees' duty of loyalty to the bank accounts of named beneficiaries rather than an amalgamate of hapless sports fans with grills and RVs and little to no sense of limits. Today is about motherfucking JUSTICE.
I fucking love justice. I love it in all its forms and I love it when the people given the power to seek it through judicial process actually find it. Justice is fucking great.
Rarely, it seems, is the journey to justice a simple task. Somewhere along the way - and I'll assume it was way fucking back because people have been shitty forfuckingever, basically - the concept of justice became bastardized and co-opted so as to mean something uniquely personal. The meaning of justice co-mingles with each of our personal ideas of right and wrong and, more to the point, our personal desire to feel good - personally good - about outcomes. Justice becomes about getting our way, though rarely do we stop and take a thorough account of how many different interests and desires are competing for predominance. Rarely do we appreciate that sometimes justice produces arguably shitty outcomes, or outcomes that piss some of us off, or outcomes that suggest we should reform our system of justice in subtle or substantial ways ... and all of that is generally ok. You are not entitled to getting your way all the time. In fact, a just system might be one that ensures you don't.
All of which is to say that if you're looking at what the U.S. Patent Office did and you're angry about Free Speech or Dan Snyder's liberty or the storied tradition of a fucking football team, well, TOUGH. FUCKING. BREAKS. This went down in exactly the way it should have ... perhaps even a decade or two late. This is American justice. OUR American justice. And it's fucking beautiful. Get on board.
Some truths for you to chew on, if you're so inclined:
Over the past week or so I’ve been debating two things: 1) if there is something related to my teams worth writing about, and 2) what that something is. The two biggest sporting events going on at the moment, something involving trophies, baskethoops and insufferable bandwagon hockeypucks fans that I once thought were good people, are not worth my time for two reasons- I hate all four teams involved in them and am not remotely knowledgeable enough to dive into them outside of the intricacies of my burning hatred. And besides, writing about the intricacies of my burning hatred is only fun when it involves my two favorite teams.
Soccer certainly has enough going on to warrant a post; beyond that, my team won its second BPL title in three years, an improbable run that was equal parts fun for watching convincing wins and crippling losses or draws from the teams that sat atop the table the vast majority of the season. But, unlike when Dubs writes about Liverpool, I don’t think any of the Man City fans I know read the blog and if I’m going to gloat to just piss off Dubs, I’ll do that in person when we watch Man City v. Liverpool at Yankee Stadium next month. I mean, if the fans of other teams want some solace, I didn’t get to watch the final game at Mes Que like I would have liked, but at an outdoor bar with my parents, the only one watching the games, let alone the only one in Man City gear. Wait, that doesn’t give you solace? Yeah, I guess it wouldn’t.
The World Cup starts this week (or has started, depending on how long this post gets/where it falls in the shuffle because invariably the only time deeg posts come is when they come in bunches), but since the Group draws I haven’t been following it much, mostly due to the fact that it seems very unlikely that the US will play more than three games. Normally I’d still be very excited about my backup team (well, 2nd backup since Ireland didn’t qualify) the Netherlands, but two things have dampened that: one, I have been unable to find my Holland track jacket I bought in a haze on the streets of Amsterdam ten years ago (really as safe an impulse buy one can have in such a state in that city) and two, it’s come to my attention Jeremy White also roots for them, which isn’t as bad as sharing the Red Sox with Pats fans but is damn well close. Either way, I like to leave the soccer writing to the more capable.
For me that leaves the Bills, Sabres and Red Sox. I think there’s four or five of our readers that root for the latter, and as the tightly wound machine from last season unspools, I can’t bring myself to get mad at them. I mean, not as a team anyways, of course there’s individual players that are easy to hate (Pierzynski for one, who for a guy who I’ve always heard described as “I hate him, but I’d love him on my team,” is actually really easy to hate when he is on your team), but are really just showing how improbable last season was and how much I should enjoy that. See, occasionally I’ll wonder what we would all be like not just when the Sabres or Bills reach the promised land, but how we would be the year after, after the parade, after the hangover, free agency, the draft, training camp and the preseason. I’d like to think I wouldn’t much care how they did defending their title, or if I did, that I would continually remind myself of the memories from the previous year and to be thankful. This year’s Red Sox team is a perfect example of why that should be the case. It’s a slog again, anemic hitting, a tire fire pitching rotation, a manager that seems completely befuddled on an almost nightly basis. But last season happened, it was glorious, it was more than so many baseball fans have gotten to experience in decades, and to be angry that Gomes and Buchholz suck now would just be kinda dickish, right?
So yeah, that just leaves the Buffalo teams. Don’t worry, this will only be tangentially about one of them, and also don’t worry, I’m not going to go on another “what does this all mean” post about the talent slowing ebbing away from Western New York; I may be in the- what, my town has THREE FUCKING AREA CODES?- but I still try to be as attuned to the Buffalo sports scene as I can without popping facial capillaries in an icy rage. All seems quiet with the Sabres, although that might simply be because half the fanbase woke up a month ago and decided being a Kings fan would kick ass. I don’t know, the draft is soon, plus there’s whatever washed up corpse the Sabres decide to sign in free agency and inexplicably make captain. There’s also the imminent Scott and Weber re-signings because the front office is so insecure in the team’s shittiness they need to make it obvious. Trust me, they’re shitty, you don’t need to push more Scott shirtsies on us to make us aware. Also, it appears the monkeys who run the marketing department at least figured there was no need to put out a “best games of the season” re-run series this summer because there were only two good games, one was on NBCSN, and the other is Miller’s last game which more people would remember as Steve Ott’s last game because again, half the fans of the team need not only a lobotomy, but a full brain scrambling with those tools from the end of Shutter Island.
Periodically, we lease out this space to a friend of DGWU Sports and leader of our house band, the Jambrones, Jeff. Today is one such day. He usually writes about music and sports and being a dad and it rules. This one is even about soccer, which is appropriate this week. Cheers. - Dubs
By @jambrones, Guest Contributor
I love sports, but I have never truly been an athlete or a coach. The only legit sports team I ever played on was the Orchard Park JV Basketball team. I also played soccer for 2 years when I was like 7. All I remember was my mom yelling “Go get it Jeffrey…RUN….GO!!” She told me later that I sat down on the field during a game and picked a dandelion. (Awesome, If true...) My dad? His favorite book to read me was “Ferdinand the Bull," so yea, I became a musician.
So, when I took my 7 year old son to his U8 Soccer game a couple Saturdays ago and they told me our team had NO COACH for the day and would I please coach THREE 15 minute games, I shuddered.
“All you have to do is keep telling them to spread out and stuff like that," they said. As I heard the Bill Conti bell ring inside my head, my fear turned to determination.
“Oh. Ok. I know kids. I teach kids band lessons all day, every day. I preach about how sports and music are the same thing. Prove it! I know coaching. I have read several books on Bob Knight. So this will be fine. “
Hosted by Joe from Buffalo Wins, this synergistic podcast is focused on the Bills news of the day - namely Marcell Dareus, Jerry Hughes and their fast cars, and how we feel about #99 given his recent arrests and their closeness in time. We ramble and rant and ultimately get to talking about the future of the Bills and what kind of legacy we're wading through following Ralph Wilson's death.
Stream below. iTunes link below. Download here or here. RSS feed for all DGWU Sports podcasts here.
Music from Wu Tang, Bloc Party and Gnarls Barkley. Cheers.
- The Barrister
You know what? I've fucking enjoyed not writing for this site. It's the off-season for the Bills and Sabres, the English Premier League ended with a whimper for my surging Liverpool Football Club, the Mets are meats, and the rest of sports news is on my simmer setting while I look ahead to a World Cup in which the US team has a better chance of scoring zero goals than it does of pretty much anything else.
Everything is pointless. Everything is lost.
Why the check-in, then? Obligation, I suppose. Not to you pissants, mind you. To myself and my own need to get up to speed on our beloved teams and get myse..... fuck it I can't lie to you. I love you too much.
It's because of dick jokes. I want to make some dick jokes and call someone a douchebag and I wanted to do it in long form. Fuck off.
Rich White Guys Who Want My Football Team.
The steady beat of time marching on has ensured that each passing week brings another notch of excitement - or something we want to call excitement but is more akin to watching our skin sear under the heat of a hot iron skillet - regarding the future of our Buffalo Bills. Specifically the ownership of the team and not anything else in the future, since we all are painfully aware that the future of the team is written in the stars right next to God's most recent memo to us wherein he requests, again, to stop sticking our dick everywhere. To love the Buffalo Bills is to love an unknown destiny that we can only guess will be outrageously shit.
Ownership, in the grand scheme of things, is irrelevant when compared to the cosmic forces of sadness that have been working so diligently all these years, spinning us on the back of giant elephants standing on a turtle, elephants and turtle all equally intent on watching just one more Johnson/Losman/Edwards/Fitzpatrick/Tuel/Manuel/Lewis pick six.
You know, I'm really tempted to lay my heart out on this metaphorical table and reveal it for all of you to see. I refrained from doing so when we all said goodbye to Miller, mostly because the long, drawn-out inevitability of the deal made the whole thing too depressing for me to really face when it happened because I already had done so a dozen times.
I don't know what good it will do me. Or you. Some restraint is how I'll keep myself together.
Today floored me. Not because it wasn't rumored, but because it all happened so quickly, so wrapped up in the nonsense that seems to have been following Stevie Johnson for the past three or four years, that it was easily dismissible. It could be swept away with the trash of criticisms of his "attitude problems" - the guy LOVED being a Buffalo Bill, what other kind of attitude do you need? - and the criticisms of his inconsistent play - the guy broke franchise records and did so catching balls from, and this is being kind, shitstain QBs - and whatever other rumblings kept popping up about him not being elite or being able to catch the game-winning balls. I made some of these criticisms, to be fair; even a few today as I processed the news.
Today didn't seem like it could happen because, fucking hell, this was one of *our* guys. When he dropped that ball against Pittsburgh, the reaction that followed - his reaction - was because he was one of our guys. It wasn't because he was selfish or had lost perspective or hated God ... it was because he loved us. He loved the Bills. It fucking mattered to him in a way that was surprising, that was jarring in its expression, and that was ultimately the foundation of what endeared Stevie so much to me.
There was never a question that this guy was committed to making my team better and to finding a way to make it win. And so, for me, there was never really a question - not when the rumors started and not when the Bills snagged Watkins last night and revealed their hand - as to whether I could imagine him not being a Bill and no longer being one of *our* guys.
He was flawed, not unlike the franchise and fan base he played for, but in the midst of those flaws he participated in the task of Buffalo Bills football in a manner that was ultimately unassailable. In a manner of quality that was unmatched by the vast majority of his teammates, the executives and coaches he played for, and the fan base that wavered between support and scorn.
He was flawed and fantastic and bemoaned and beloved. He was often just what we needed, and often not quite enough.
And now, well... we come to is the familiarity of it, the task of wrapping one's head around the idea of a great, beloved player leaving Buffalo ... no matter how deep that love is or was, it's necessarily paired with a similarly deep regret.
Let's Go Buffalo.
Here's my mock draft boners. I didn't have time to edit it or put fancy pictures because I have a final that I will fail tomorrow. Just be goddam thankful that I don't have the Bills taking Zach Martin at 9 and STFU.
1. HOU: ** TRADE **
ATL: DE Jadeveon Clowney
2. STL: ** TRADE **
TB: WR Sammy Watkins - STL wants out of this spot because the best players available here don’t really fill their needs. Mack doesn’t strike me as a fit in Jeff Fisher’s Defense, and they’re loaded with receivers. For the Bucs, I find it hard to buy that they’re moving on from Mike Glennon. The kid had a decent year, and they added McCown to come in and either start or to mentor Glennon. What makes more sense is that talk being a smoke screen to prevent another team jumping ahead of them to grab Watkins, who is a much-needed offensive weapon. They desperately need one.
3. JAX: LB Khalil Mack - Merry Christmas Gus Bradley.
4. CLE OT Jake Matthews - I think Cleveland will get a phonecall from Detroit trying to move up and grab Mike Evans. Detroit wants to finally fill their WR2 role in a permanent way by getting the best weapon they can possibly get their hands on. Why does Cleveland stay put? They can pick the best tackle in the draft, and they feel confident that they can grab their QB with their 2nd first rounder. Noone else is taking David Carr before they pick.
5. OAK ** TRADE **
DET: WR Mike Evans - Oakland wants to move out of this pick because their team is full of trash, so they need to draft for quantity more than quality. It would be a different story if one of the elite players in this draft was there, like Watkins or Mack, but they’re gone. Detroit sacrifices a 2nd, gets back a 6th, and fills their WR2 need. They’ll utilize some of their many later-round picks to try to move up at some point again.
6. ATL ** TRADE **
HOU: QB Johnny Manziel - I actually think Ryan ‘The Amish Rifle’ Fitzpatrick could be the best mentor possible for Johnny Football. Their styles are a bit similar. Fitzpatrick is a better mobile quarterback than he gets credit for, and his accuracy has always been his biggest problem. But his football IQ is his best asset, and Manziel’s biggest liability. Houston doesn’t love taking Manziel this high, but at least it’s not at #1, and the risk of waiting around and missing out on one of the best QB prospects in this draft is just not worth it. If Houston has to go to war with Fitzpatrick and no long-term option at QB, heads will roll.
7. TB ** TRADE **
STL: CB Justin Gilbert - Methinks the Rams’ biggest need is at corner. I can’t buy them taking an OT this high with Jake Long on the roster, nor do they want to swing for the fences at QB with Bradford on the roster. Ideally, I think they wouldn’t mind moving back AGAIN from this spot, but they just lack suitors with the best 2 WRs off the board. I could see them taking Ebron too, but I lean CB here because they had 4 of them in for visits, and no TEs.
8. MIN ** TRADE **
NYG: OT Greg Robinson - Boy, Minnesota is really in a spot here. They have no great passing targets. They need a QB, but I can’t imagine how they could be in love with anyone on the board. Tackles are on the board, but they just drafted Matt Khalil last year. If they move back, they have to be worried about missing out on a good WR or QB option. They could take Ebron, but the optics of taking another TE in the 1st round (after taking Rudolph pretty recently) just aren’t good. So, they roll the dice and let the Giants, who are ecstatic that Greg Robinson is still on the board, come up and grab their guy.
9. BUF: TE Eric Ebron - The guy is a freak and we need one.
10. DET ** TRADE **
OAK: WR Odell Beckham, Jr. - After seeing the board shake out, Oakland is now in the position to take pretty much the best player available. They could go Bridgewater, but because they brought in QBs like Mettenberger, Savage and Carr, my thought is that they have a mind to take their QB later on. Instead, they take Beckham, who I think is even a bit underrated. If it wasnt for Watkins, Beckham might be the guy getting all the hype this year. He has a very similar skillset, and I think he really pops out in watching tape. Finally, Oakland grabs a WR in the 1st that won’t be a bust.
11. TEN: LB CJ Mosley - Tennessee allowed the 3rd-most rushing TDs in the league last year.
12. NYG ** TRADE **
MIN: QB Blake Bortles - Again, they’re not in love with Bortles, but it’s clear that they can’t go to war with Cassel and Ponder.
13. STL: S HaHa Clinton Dix - The Rams have to be ecstatic to snag the top safety in the draft after just nabbing the top corner in the draft. The Cowboys called to trade up, but they can take a hike - they’d take HaHa too.
14. CHI: DT Aaron Donald
15. PIT: LB Anthony Barr - The Steelers ranked 25th in sacks last season, which seems unbecoming for a Steelers team. Let’s try to fix that.
16. DAL: S Calvin Pryor - Oh, poor Dallas. Their best targets all went in the last 3 picks. But they get the next best safety in Pryor.
17. BAL ** TRADE **
CAR - OT Taylor Lewan - Lewan is a great value here and the Ravens consider snatching him up. But, Carolina calls and makes them an offer they can’t refuse. Carolina is shocked he falls this far, so they jump on the chance to make it happen, giving up #28 and #60.
18. NYJ: CB Darqueze Dennard - In need of cornerback help, they’re thrilled he’s there.
19. MIA: G/T Zach Martin - Martin’s flexibility is perfect for Miami. He just has an unfortunate last name…
20. ARI: WR Marquise Lee - This may seem strange, but the Cards could really use a slot guy. Ted Ginn is not going to cut it. They could go safety or corner, but what fun is that?
21. GB: S Jimmie Ward - They badly need a safety, and are thankful there’s a good one even there at this point.
22. PHI: WR Brandin Cooks - PHI is now in need of speed at WR.
23. KC ** TRADE **
STL: QB Derek Carr - #lawlcuzcleveland. STL rounded up a ton of ammunition, and they make a move with KC, who has no 2nd round pick to jump ahead of cleveland and take their guy. They make Carr a 1st-rounder, but not so high that they can’t stick with Bradford if he’s healthy and good.
24. CIN ** TRADE **
SF: CB Kyle Fuller - happy with the talent falling at corner and with a ton of ammunition, SF pounces on Fuller.
25. SD: WR Kelvin Benjamin - San Diego could use some size at WR. I could also see them going TE or CB here, but with Fuller gone, they’ll wait on the value.
26. CLE: G Xavier Su'a-Filo - The Browns are a bit on tilt after losing Carr to the Rams, but they keep their cool and decide to shore up their OL once and for all. The Browns were dead. last. in rushing touchdowns last year. RB remains a need, but with the top tackle and the top guard in the draft, they should be able to get production out of whoever they line up behind... whoever they play at QB.
27. NO: CB Bradley Roby - The Saints capitalize on good corner talent falling in the draft. I don’t buy all the mocks with the Saints taking a WR like Benjamin here. Brees will get production out of anyone, and they have some talent. I’d expect Nick Toon to step up to the plate.
28. CAR ** TRADE **
BAL: OT Cyrus Kouandjio - The Ravens have to replace Michael Oher.
29. NE: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins - The Patriots would like to replace Aaron Hernandez, and ASJ is a very similar type of player. He also happens to be the best ball-catcher on the board.
CIN: DE Kony Ealy - I must say, I wasn’t terribly impressed with Ealy when I watch some highlights, but everyone seems to love this guy, and he’d be the 2nd DE off the board at the 30th pick, which seems like a pretty good value.
31. DEN: LB Ryan Shazier - Denver gets a guy with incredible speed for a LB
32. SEA: Cody Latimer - Seattle lost some pieces in Free Agency, so they try to replace one in Latimer, who should prove a solid, steady option for Wilson.
I know there is going to have to be some compromise on my part during this entire sale process. I have no control over the Buffalo Bills in any fashion. I can simply choose to watch and care. Nothing is up to me. All I can do is decide if I want them to be an important part of my life or not.
The community of friends I have built around the team and how I interact with them make distancing myself from the franchise problematic. I’m a long way from home. Sports keeps a line open to all of the friends I’ve made. Sports is how I made them in the first place. I’m kind of a flake. It isn’t easy to make friends when you think every single person around you thinks you’re a flake. Sports act as the crutch I sometimes need to interact with people like a normal human being. Hang out in a crowd. Lob a few jokes around. People laugh. Suddenly they are talking to you. Did you just make a friend by talking about how bad Tim Connolly is? Sports!
This is the existential dilemma of sports. For it to exist properly, we must have an emotional connection to the enterprise. For it to be a success for all involved, you are going to have to maintain a rooting interest in the players or the team in your immediate geographic vicinity. Sports can be like theater, and ain’t nobody staying to watch a stage play where everyone is an asshole to you. So you buy in. You find people to like, maybe even love. We love the things they do and how they do it in dramatic fashion. We ride the emotional ride with them through all of the highs and lows. And we have no control.
Where sports and theatre diverge is how much our sports organizations demand our allegiance. Do people wear Irish Classical Theatre jerseys? Is there a Shea’s Mafia? Do we ascribe our self-worth as an audience to a review of the latest performance of Waiting for Godot? Is somebody calling in WGR with all manner of hot takes on that last monologue or aside? Theatre asks for our love in different ways. They’d like for you to be there, be a polite audience, and maybe help out when they need money for renovations.
Professional sport walks into your life and holds you at gunpoint. It is our childhood time killers hijacked by men with long mustaches, top hats and capes. We take something that has brought us immense joy in our lives and give responsibility for it to the wealthiest in our society – those who are the furthest from us in class, empathy, humility, and civics. If you don’t like a little politics in your sports, you can stop reading now. Go in peace.