Author Archives: Brian McMahon

Scarred Over

 

“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” – Douglas MacArthur

      A man notices a leak in the dam one day. The next day another leak springs up. Before he knows it, each day brings countless leaks, more than his training and tools can handle. He brings his friends, similarly armed and educated, to patch up the holes and prevent further damage. The leaks keep coming, day by day, and eventually puddles begin to form, pooling around the man and his friends, dampening their shoes, slowly creeping up their legs. Soon the puddles collect into pools, forcing the men to wade, making their repair work difficult and rushed. The pools deepen. Then they run red, and behind the dam a tidal wave waits impatiently, ready to burst.

The mental health epidemic on college campuses threatens to worsen.

      Depression (and suicide) affects harrowing numbers of American college students every year. Away from home, family, and familiarity, students face overwhelming adjustments academically, socially, and personally. For some these come easily. For many more, adjustment gives way to uncertainty, disillusionment, and overwhelmed chaos (better words). Suicide is one of the three top killers of American college students (Burrell; Gallagher; NIMH). In 2008, more than a quarter of students nationally reported feeling “so depressed it was difficult to function” in the year before they were asked (Burrell). Now not every depressive flash leads to suicide, and not every student struggling to function has depression. But the trends cannot be ignored, and our system needs to change. (eh)

      In late August 2007, I teared up as I watched my brother enter New South, his freshman dorm at Georgetown University. The oldest child in our family, Will was the guinea pig for college — the first of us to be thrust into that world of unknowns and changes. Georgetown, of course, expects a lot of its students academically and as individuals embodying Jesuit ideals. Hoyas are supposed to care for others, nurturing their humanity and compassion during their time on the Hilltop, so that they may be able to help others do the same later in life. Looking back, Will seemed perfect for this: blessed with a sensitive awareness of others and a desire to be good, to be decent, he should have flourished as he grew into a “true Hoya.”

Beneath the pristine veneers of prestigious universities lie dark, deadly trends.

      Will never got his Georgetown degree. In the spring of 2010, and surely for some time before, the social and academic pressures weighed him down, driving him into a profound depression. At the time, I didn’t really know why Will was home early or how his illness affected him. All I knew was my big brother was home early, so I got extra time to play with and bother him, as all younger siblings have a duty to do. I find it hard to consider Will lucky; he fought for the better part of three years to truly get back on his feet, to stand up proudly as the genial, witty role model I had known for so long. But Will was lucky in a lot of ways. He had a loving family and support network, and he had a school ready to help him work through his problems. Will is back, and I couldn’t be happier. As my brother struggled to face his demons and sources of anguish, it was easy to wonder how this strange problem had taken hold of such a loving and curious person and learner. He was fitted well to love college — the fun and the work — yet he still fell victim to this illness, this burden, this exceptional issue (better word). I have learned, however, that depression and suicide and mental health crises don’t care much for your disposition or your talents. We all have to be on alert, for college life breeds strife, and Will is no longer an exception.

      Approximately a quarter of college students struggle with mental illness, and more than 40 percent report various symptoms of depression (Kerr; NIMH). The stresses of college life, birthed from the rigors of personal, social, and academic habits, affect an immense number of students at most schools.Many of us go to college and find ourselves far from home, largely alone for the first time in our lives. At some point, everyone longs for the comfort of old friends, of family and familiar roads, sights, and sounds. Between the comfort of home and the challenges of adult life lies college, rife with novel problems and the murkiness of transitioning into a world filled with new people and adversities. According to the ACHA’s most recent undergraduate survey, more than 46 percent of students “felt things were hopeless” at some point in the last year, including more than half of female students. Moreover, more than 84 percent of students reported having “felt overwhelmed by all [they] had to do” (ACHA). Some look at these findings and see nothing more than young people slowly adjusting to the college lifestyle, kids fighting to fit in and keep up with their work. Loneliness or hopelessness seem to these people mere inconveniences, obstacles to be overcome as we age and mature.

Lack of awareness and stigma hurt the fight against mental health issues.

      We see so many numbers in our daily lives that we often forget about the people they represent. So when someone reads the above data, or when someone hears that eight percent of American college students “seriously considered suicide” in the year before they were asked, there is a good chance they forget that this means that MORE THAN 1.7 MILLION STUDENTS CONTEMPLATE TAKING THEIR OWN LIFE EVERY YEAR (ACHA). This is not even considering the additional five percent of college students who considered killing themselves outside of the 12-month frame (ACHA). And when I tell you that the ACHA reports 9.1 percent of students having attempted suicide at some point in their lives, you probably don’t do the math out. You probably fail to understand that just short of two million college students have, at some point, decided that death was their best possible course of action.

      Of course, our universities and institutions are not completely oblivious to the mental health epidemics running rampant on their campuses. Most schools have some form of counseling service available, but the shortcomings of our current apparatus stand out. According to an APA brief, only 56 percent of four-year institutions offer localized psychiatric counseling, and only 13 percent of American community colleges offer such services (Chamberlin). Moreover, even at schools with services available, there has been a stunning shift in the new millenium, with far greater numbers of students seeking help for significant mental health concerns.

Huge numbers of students seek counseling, and many of them have serious psychological issues.

According to the ACCA’s most recent survey of college counselors, 44 percent of clients have “severe psychological problems,” up from only 16 percent in 2000 (Gallagher). In this same survey, 80 percent of reported suicide victims had not “sought counseling center assistance.” The growing number of college students with serious mental illnesses has overwhelmed treatment centers throughout the country. The survey reports increases across the board in colleges providing services crucial to the health of their students and employees, but this growth has not kept up with the rapid expansion of students’ problems. More than 30 percent of surveyed counseling centers report overloaded schedules leading to wait lists being formed for students (Gallagher). Almost half of the staffs reported dealing with their clients in ways developed to avoid wait lists; for example, more than 75 percent of centers report seeing non-crisis patients less frequently so as to avoid waiting lists for students.

      We cannot fault these centers or their universities. Rather, they simply attempt to be as efficient as possible, given the overwhelming numbers of students entering their centers. With 88 percent of centers reporting an increase of clients already on psychiatric medication to the ACCA in 2013, and 94 percent an increase in students with serious problems, radical increases in funding and training for psychiatric centers is necessary in order to adequately serve and protect the at-risk students of American universities.

A gap exists between the prevalence of and awareness and education surrounding mental health concerns.

Considering the increases in students with serious concerns, centers must be able to allocate in-depth, individualized treatment to larger and larger numbers of clients. Many researchers see typical generalized methods as functional, but the consensus is that in order to fully treat students, every case must be treated as “a fresh therapeutic challenge” (Grayson and Cooper). Grayson and Cooper examined contemporary college treatment methods and found that the key to successful treatment is the ability to combine methods and techniques “into a unified, integrative treatment.” This depth of focus is currently unrealistic given the growing numbers of students requiring significant service.

      This is not to say deep, focused personal therapy has been rendered impossible. Rather, solutions do exist and have been enacted at many American universities. The Jed Foundation, a non-profit suicide prevention advocacy group, awarded 30 schools their “seal of approval” for their respective mental health resources earlier this year (Atteberry). The foundation was founded in 2000 after Donna and Phil Satow lost their son to suicide. With Georgetown among those awarded, the foundation advocates free resources and early intervention among students. Jed is still growing in recognition and influence, but its leaders hope these 30 institutions will stand out to other schools nationwide (Atteberry).

Organizations like the Jed Foundation help the cause, but more must be done.

The notion of early intervention, or even prevention, for suffering students, should not be taken lightly. Far too often, students enter treatment, or worse injure themselves, long after they should have been meeting with a psychiatric expert. The Jed Foundation is not alone in this thinking; many studies and national trends suggest schools should strive to assess students’ health early and often, rather than waiting until problems arise (Eshun; Kay and Schwartz). Forcing students to learn about causes and effects of mental illnesses and recognizing early signs of distress could prove crucial in the fight to mollify the epidemic on college campuses.

      Of course, money presents problems for schools looking to augment their mental health resources. Many colleges must sacrifice necessary staff size and depth of individual treatment in order to stay within their financial boundaries. Organizations like the Jed Foundation and Active Minds seek to spread awareness of issues like depression and to minimize the stigma surrounding having mental illnesses, but schools across the country have struggled to provide adequate services in treatment and outreach given the overloaded schedules often found in counseling centers (Domonell). Students in need often face limitations regarding the depth and frequency of their meetings with counselors, allowing for the exacerbation and development of their mental health crises.

Innovative treatments can only be effective if Congress helps allocate additional funding for treatment centers.

      Federally, Congress has taken notice of these concerns but has failed to take action. The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization of 2013 was introduced to Congress in early 2013 but has not been passed and seems unlikely to be enacted in the near future (govtrack.us). The proposal builds off of a 2004 suicide prevention bill named for a senator’s son lost to suicide and would increase grants for colleges nationally, as well as providing state grants for suicide prevention activity (Domonell; govtrack.us). The bill has been introduced multiple times but has failed to even make it to a vote. Considering the national data and trends, even this bill would probably not alleviate the struggles of counseling centers, but federal recognition and action regarding these issues will be vital in progressing this issue to the point of eradication. Without proper funding, we cannot experiment with innovative treatment programs and education. Without leaders acting like leaders, the system’s inefficiency and shortcomings will linger. Certainly we cannot hope to establish a suicide or depression-free environment, but vast room for improvement exists, and our legislators and officials must take action so that we may begin to transition into this space.

Recent history suggests that our federal government is not moved to action easily (no citation needed). The suicide of one senator’s son seems, at this point, unlikely to further the fight against the mental health epidemic. In our world of mass exposure to mass media on a daily basis, issues around the world flash before our faces then quickly disappear. We hear equally of fame and famine, of trivialities and tragedies alike. In the modernizing sphere, it can be difficult to empathize with our fellow human beings, and even harder to recognize the actions necessary for assuaging whatever problem they face. As I scroll through tweets and updates and attention-seeking headlines, I understand our inability to appreciate the profundity of human struggles. But then there’s Will. Maybe it takes a problem affecting our own daily life for us to pursue rectifying it, and maybe that’s okay. But if this is the case, our responsibility as human beings lies in our obligation to speak out and persist in our defense of issues that must be addressed. So here’s my shot. Because statistics don’t scar. There are people behind the headlines, behind the numbers.

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by | November 25, 2013 · 6:54 PM

Why Bryce Harper Deserves Our Undivided Attention

I am pretty sure I could write pages and pages about why I love The Natural—its solemn nostalgia and ability to reawaken every part of me that loves every part of baseball—but I will try to contain myself to the subject outlined so subtly in the title.

Perhaps you are wondering what this man has to do with our title figure, Mr. Harper. Patience, I ask only for patience.

Roy Hobbs is not necessarily a fallen hero; he did no wrong but circumstances outside his control doomed him to fall short of the potential recognized by himself and others. We can never know if he would have fulfilled his Williamsesque prophesy, to walk down the street and hear people say: “there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was,” but I am confident he would have. In sports, I see largely ordinary men do extraordinary things. I know they are ordinary because they get hurt like us (Tony Canigliaro); they aren’t ready like us (Billy Beane); they fall from grace and from the public eye, never to reveal just how deep their talent runs (Josh Hamilton).

Both the Rays and Hamilton seemed destined for greatness following the 1999 draft.

The film came out in 1984, when Josh Hamilton was three years old. He quickly became as close to a real-life Roy Hobbs as we will ever experience. Blessed with physical gifts as both a pitcher and hitter, there was not speculation about Hamilton’s potential: it was simply known that he would become one of the best players in the world, never mind that he was just 17 when drafted in 1999. The most “sure thing” prospect since another teen draftee, Ken Griffey Jr., Hamilton was believed to be able to make it in the majors as a pitcher or hitter (very Hobbsish), and would likely do so soon after the start of the new millennium. He was Bryce Harper before Bryce Harper picked up a bat, godly in his talent and titanic in his potential. Then he showed the world how human he was.

Imagine how much THIS would be worth if he was real.

Hamilton fell victim to injuries and drug addiction. Instead of bursting onto the scene with precocious teen talent, Hamilton struggled to find his way to the majors, finally making his debut in 2007. He was supposed to be the best in the league on his way to “the best there ever was” by then, well on his way to cementing his place among baseball’s immortals.

Hamilton has shown his talent over the last six years, even taking home an MVP in 2010, but one night stands out to me, a night that only young boys and Hollywood could have imagined. In 2008, the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium (in New York—the Hobbs comparisons become eerie) allowed the baseball world to feast its eyes on talent unlike most ever witnessed. Hamilton swung 38 times in the first round. He hit 28 home runs, including 13 in a row at one point.

Hamilton put on a type of show unseen since Barry Levinson’s magical 1984 film.

People can’t even do that in wiffleball or video games. Hamilton—or Hobbs—is the player you create in a virtual world because you will never see him in ours, the slugger you pretend to be in your daydreams and fantasies. I didn’t just want to be a major leaguer; I wanted to be THE guy, the player with unlimited talent and even more potential—Nomar in 1997 or Pujols in 2001 or Ted Williams back in 1939.

Whoops. Not this Nomar.

Hobbs makes me smile, but Hamilton breaks my heart. Hobbs ensures that he will be remembered forever, rising from the depths as he lifts a team and city from comparable doldrums, as he carries the Knights to the pennant in dramatic fashion. People may not say “the best there ever was,” but they would certainly say “there goes Roy Hobbs.” I do not know for certain if Josh Hamilton will reach that point, and that kills me. That magical night at Yankee Stadium in the summer of 2008 reminded every person witnessing of the deep well that contains Hamilton’s ability, a place that will perhaps never run dry but has certainly been greatly depleted. Hamilton is a hero to many, not only a great baseball player but also a human being who got his life back together having faced a crippling addiction. But I don’t think he will ever be a hero to himself, because he knows how good he could have been. One must hope he has an Iris Gaines of his own, reminding him of the present and future, lest he forever mire in the missed opportunities of the past.

Hamilton does a lot of looking off into space, as if forging in his mind what could have been. Must be a pretty picture.

I realize now that I failed in my attempt to focus on how Redford shapes the film, but I think this says a lot about his performances and about me as a viewer. He embodies Sundance and Johnny Hooker and Hobbs and all of his characters with seductive magnetism, reminding us of the lives we dreamed of as kids and still remember dreaming of as we age but fail to grow up. Redford’s appeal transcends gender or sexuality or time, I believe. In The Natural, who wouldn’t root for a country boy with a homegrown swing and self-made bat? Who can help but root for the Knights, decked out in the regalia of a time when greedy owners and their corporate ambitions could be overcome by the divine prowess of a single man?

We often place superheroes’ expectations upon the shoulders of our superstars, calling upon them to bring in fans or sponsors or to save fading leagues. Rarely are we granted the privilege of experiencing a Roy Hobbs, but even rarer is the chance to witness someone with that talent who does not lose his years to gunshots or drug addictions.

Watch – witness – Bryce Harper as often as you can while you can. Naturals are in limited supply.

Let’s hope whatever that picture is he’s seeing becomes a reality.

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Filed under Baseball, batter v. pitcher, NBA, Random Thoughts

Handicapping the Oscar Races for Baseball Fans Part Two

With Oscar Day nearing, here are the rest of our inane, wildly important comparisons between Oscar nominees and their MLB counterparts. As Stanley Kubrick once said, “The Oscars and MLB go together like…” Who knows what he said, but the connection was there!

The Supporting Actors

 

Alan Arkin

 

Above: Everyone’s Grandpa. A man meant for the movies, and good for everyone he encounters.

Arkin won his first Oscar in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine, but he also received two nominations in the ‘60s. He’s never been the It Guy at any given time, but Arkin has been giving memorable performances like this one in Argo since the Millard Fillmore administration, give or take. A Hollywood kid from a Hollywood family, Arkin’s been one of the good guys in the business for half a century. Can’t imagine he has an enemy anywhere. Alan Arkin is…Kevin Millwood. Looks like a really nice guy, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’s otherwise. A long career of solid, and at times All-Star, performances. He even deserves more than what I’ve just written. Oh well, for another time.

 

Happy where he was, and the baseball world better for it.

Robert De Niro

He’s actually asleep in this picture. It’s just how his face relaxes.

 

With a legitimate chance at winning on Sunday, De Niro will be seeking his 3rd win. This marks his 7th nomination (7th!). As usual, De Niro seems to be right in the midst of the big race as well, as Silver Linings Playbook is a favorite to snag Best Picture. He’s been turning in iconic performances since he was Vito Corleone and even before, but his role in Playbook was filled with real, pure emotion, perhaps marking a difference from many of his bigger, louder roles. A man who would have been a HOF lock two decades ago, De Niro has not shied away from expanding his repertoire at any point, even allowing his role to become a supporting one so as to allow young stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper to shine. De Niro is…Todd Helton. He still delivers remarkable performances, but still he allows for younger stars to shine as the franchise/films shift towards the next generation of talent.

 

Helton reacting to finding out he made it onto our blog. Wonderful to see such enthusiasm from such an accomplished man. The privilege is ours, Todd.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

PSH releasing Andrew Garfield from captivity, it would appear.

 

With his nomination for his work in The Master, PSH has now received nominations in four of the past eight Oscar races, with a win in 2006 for Capote. He’s a quirky man, to say the least, but Hoffman has been doing it right for a long time, including 2008, when he received two Golden Globe nominations. A true student of the craft, Hoffman has shown in recent years the ability to jump from biography to political drama to romantic comedy (HOW DID HE NOT GET AN OSCAR FOR ALONG CAME POLLY?!?!) without sacrificing his effectiveness. He does have a baseball connection, having portrayed Art Howe in Moneyball despite looking NOTHING like Art Howe! Not necessarily a late bloomer, but he has received well-deserved praise—at least from the Academy—only in recent years, as his prime seems to be dwindling. PSH is…Roy Halladay. Somewhat of a late bloomer, at least late to become a certified star. Also, both men are certainly quirky fellows trending towards crazy, “method actors” in their respective fields.

Can’t deny his talent…or the crazy eyes.

 

Tommy Lee Jones

 

BUT I AM SMILING!

Jones won an Oscar for The Fugitive in 1994, and this year marks his fourth nomination. He has a good chance this time around (in case you haven’t noticed, this category is WIDE OPEN, with 5 worthy nominees), and maybe a win would even get a smile out of Agent Kay. A wily, stoic veteran of the trade, Jones has been frowning his way through hits since Fugitive and then some. Lincoln was fantastic, and in this “credible” critic’s mind, the Picture race should come down to it and Playbook. That being said, I don’t think Jones should be bringing home a trophy of his own. Nevertheless, he has cemented himself as a staple of the industry and a stabilizing force amidst the chaos that is Hollywood fame. Tommy Lee Jones is…Michael Young. The workman of baseball, pure consistency over the course of a career, all accomplished without controversy or smiles. Epitome of professionalism as well as stoicism.

I’M SORRY, OK? I’m just not used to doing this.

 

Christoph Waltz

Just wanted to make sure more people got to enjoy this laudable facial hair/armor.

 

Having won a fully deserved BSA Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, Waltz has a good chance at making it two wins in two tries, thanks to his unique work as Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained. We naïve Americans unfortunately did not know of this Austrian treasure—the anti-Schwarzenegger—until recent years, but I for one am glad we have the chance to see what we can. A delightful presence onscreen and off, and a solid SNL host if you didn’t see, Waltz is a late bloomer to our country but is making the most of his time. Tarantino knows he has a keeper, and don’t be surprised to see Waltz lurking in this category a couple more times before he’s done. Christoph Waltz is… Ichiro. As soon as he got here, his presence was felt with MVP caliber performance and sustained excellence. We wish he had been here longer, but we should enjoy the time we have to admire his unique brand of individual brilliance.

Shame he has to wear that jersey, but still a talent to be enjoyed by all.

 

  

The Supporting Actresses

 

Amy Adams

 

I’ll be yah Doug!

Only 38 and now four Oscar nominations with her work in The Master? Damn, girl. Four nominations in eight years is quite the run. Adams also has a baseball tie, but we as a site have decided to deny the existence of Trouble With the Curve, shockingly not nominated for any Oscars. She’s been always entertaining for about a decade now, whether as a nun, Chahhhhhhlene, or Princess Giselle. Side note: I am not ashamed to admit that Enchanted is and always will be wildly entertaining, and I can only hope the rumored sequel will soon become reality. A talented and adaptable performer with plenty of time left to fill up her trophy case, Amy Adams is…Prince Fielder. The fact that they look like siblings aside, both are winners who we often neglect when considering the finest in their generation. Overshadowed by other talented people at times, both continue to deliver impressive work. Princess Giselle and Prince Fielder? You’re welcome, future lovers.

 

I I do NOT eat meat! ‘Cept for steak, ham, bacon. You know how it is.

Sally Field

Oh sweet, Sally Field. You’re just so casual.

 

Can’t say I’m a huge fan in general or of her performance in Lincoln itself, but I cannot deny that this is her third nomination, with two wins in her first two tries. Still find her a little annoying, and her barely bearable Oscar victory speech (NO, I will not provide a link. I’m not an enabler.) is, well, barely bearable. She’ll be remembered as a talented, successful actress who was recognized for her notable performances. Still, Sally Field, I really don’t like you. I really, really don’t. Sally Field is…Alex Rodriguez. He was great then he bottomed out, was sort of great, then plummeted again. He is a member of the I Could Have Been One of the Best Ever Without PEDs But Now My Career is Forever Tarnished group. Field has no known link to PEDs, but for me her career was tarnished when she seduced her way to earning Forrest Gump a football scholarship.

Which half is the ass?

 

Anne Hathaway

She can be happy! Be happy, girl. You’ve earned it.

 

The probable winner in this category, Hathaway now has two nominations for uber-depressing performances, for Les Miserables this year and Rachel Getting Married in 2009. A somewhat polarizing actress since her breakthrough in 2001’s The Princess Diaries (everyone loves it, so don’t be ashamed), Hathaway has confirmed her place among the elite performers of her generation, and she will undoubtedly be found on A-lists and Oscar lists for years to come. Forgetting Bride Wars, as I’m sure she has, Hathaway has built up an impressive body of work, including her great performance in last summer’s blockbuster Catwoman Rides the Batpod. She has her prime before her at only 31, and her talent is apparent. Anne Hathaway is…Ryan Braun. An electric young talent with nearly limitless potential, generally admired but with some polarizing feature. Hathaway perhaps acted with a chip on her shoulder following personal troubles. Braun’s middle finger to the world of a 2012 season was fun to watch and underappreciated.

He don’t look like he’s done proving himself quite yet.

 

Helen Hunt

Helen Hunt? Jodie Foster? Yes.

 

Real talk: no one saw The Sessions. No disrespect, and it’s nice for Hunt to receive a second nomination (she won for As Good as It Gets), but she will not be taking home the statue this year. She was in Twister, so there’s that. Certainly talented and respected by most everyone (me included, despite this mean take), Hunt is enjoying the ride as she nears 50. She had a solid ‘90s run as a go-to big name, but now Hunt is a solid performer winding down an All-Star, but probably not Hall of Fame career. She is… Edgar Renteria. He had some memorable moments around the same time of Hunt’s peak (see his 1997 World Series heroics), and he got a win as his career dwindled (2010 with the Giants), but in all truly a somewhat typical career. Sorry, you two.

Just happy to be here. Thank you. Red Sox fans wonder how he won two World Series.

 

Jacki Weaver

Heeeeeeeeeeere’s Jacki! Yes, she is actually that short.

 

Two nominations in three years ain’t so bad, and as you may have noticed, I unabashedly loved Silver Linings Playbook. She probably won’t win, but Weaver helped make a film that should not only be recognized as this year’s best, but as one of the best works in recent years. I’m not being mean about this one; Weaver actually hasn’t done that much work that anyone will remember. At 75, she seems content with the excellent performances she’s turned in the past few years. With great talent that most of us have only seen for a brief time period, Jacki Weaver is…the inverse of Rocco Baldelli. He came up as the prospect to watch and then burned out for reasons out of his control. She came to the forefront late but made an impact. She’s a little old for Rocco, but their careers kind of complete each other. Sounds like a movie waiting to be made…

HOW did I end up on your blog again?

Well, that concludes our biting Oscar commentary. Enjoy Sunday night and what is sure to be a memorable performance by Seth MacFarlane. Some have been alluded to, but here are our final predictions for the big ones:

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway

Director: Steven Spielberg (although David O. Russell would be a worthy victor)

Picture: Silver Linings Playbook

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Oscars, Posted, Random Thoughts, Sleepers, Weekend Hijinks

Handicapping the Oscar Races For Baseball Fans

With the Oscars taking place in just a few short days, we do what comes naturally: make comparisons between nominees and MLB players that may or may not make sense. Everyone does it. If not, everyone will do it.  They put the start of spring training and the Oscars in the same week for a reason…Right?  You’re welcome, internet.

...and you're welcome, Amurrrica.

…and you’re welcome, Amurrrica.

The Actors

 Hugh Jackman

 Oh, Hugh again. Jackman’s Jean Valjean searches for security, for liberation from Javert’s merciless pursuit in Les Miserables (the second word is silent, or at least the pronunciations are trending that way). Jackman has cemented himself as a bankable action entertainer and awards show host, but he is still seeking to earn his place among the finest actors (see the elder three in this category). Perhaps this performance has pushed Jackman from action star to layered big screen performer, but for now he is…Mike Piazza. The ladies love him. Everyone knows who he is. He performs at the highest level of anyone in his position (catcher for Piazza, film actor/host/stage actor for Jackman) and does so with a prominent geniality.

this is not recommended athletic attire.

Bradley Cooper

Baseball-appropriate facial hair? Yes.
Oscars-appropriate facial hair? Maybe.

I cannot argue with Daniel Day-Lewis taking home the award on Sunday night (the essentially unanimous prediction), but Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook is one worthy of the award in most years and worthy of our praise right now. His real, raw, riveting portrayal of a man struggling to find himself amidst psychological chaos has, for this viewer at least, pushed Cooper into that same group that Jackman hovers around the edges of. Having made his mark in comedies like The Hangover, look for Cooper to reach superstar status as an Oscar-level performer in the next few years, perhaps beginning with the promising work The Place Beyond the Pines, coming this year starring Cooper and Ryan Gosling. Having showed off his versatility and ready to establish himself as a consistent, superstar performer, Bradley Cooper is…Andrew McCutchen, the standout who is primed for another elite season.

Denzel Washington

Not Jay Pharoah

This is Washington’s 6th Oscar nomination. Wow. One of the most likable and consistent actors in the world for the past two-plus decades, Washington probably won’t take home the trophy this year, but he has long since established himself as more than just a pioneer for minority actors. Washington will go down in history as one of the greatest actors of this or any generation. With 2 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes, and numerous other memorable performances, Coach Boone/Frank Lucas/Det. Alonzo Harris/Mr. Shuttleworth is a surefire “Hall of Famer” for our purposes. He is… Derek Jeter. Sometimes you want to hate him (or his characters), but you just can’t because he is so doggone consistent and effective. Knows how to win on the big stage and constantly delivers, even as he gets older and older and should be breaking down.

Main difference? Denzel does not have a scent.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Oscar-producing machine.

This is Day-Lewis’ fifth Oscar nomination, and he will likely be taking home his third trophy. Having won for his stimulating performance in There Will Be Blood in 2008, a victory this weekend would give Day-Lewis two wins in six years, a remarkable stretch in this field. He will never be the most bankable star in Hollywood, but Day-Lewis has proven over the past two decades that his ability to disappear wholly and beautifully into a character is second to none. He brought Lincoln to life just as he did for Daniel Plainview, Bill “The Butcher,” and many other figures over the course of his career. He’s got a little to a lot of craziness in him, and we can’t always understand him, but his overwhelming talent cannot be denied. Daniel Day-Lewis is… Albert Pujols – the machine pumping out award-winning roles, homers, what have you. We can’t always understand what he’s saying, but he quietly goes about his business and constantly exceeds high expectations.

Run-producing machine.

Joaquin Phoenix

crazy, exhibit (a)

With his role in The Master, Phoenix reminded moviegoers that he is more than a certifiably crazy person. Don’t get me wrong; he is still seemingly absolutely loony. That being said, this role was perfect for him: An unstable man in an unstable world trying to find meaning. This is Phoenix’s third nomination. His performances in Gladiator and as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line were worthy performances but could not overcome more worthy nominees in Benicio Del Toro and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing an uncanny Capote, respectively. A man with a wealth of talent and a impressive body of work, Phoenix’s actual identity has often taken the forefront over his incredible performances. He is…Manny Ramirez. Heck, he’s probably peed in weirder places than the Green Monster. Their offstage, off-field actions often overshadow their Oscar, HOF-worthy work on the screen or field. Eccentric and inane without question, and always entertaining.

crazy, exhibit (2)

The Actresses

Jessica Chastain

Oscar nominations back to back years? She aight. Zero Dark Thirty is a relevant and well-timed work, and the same can be said for its budding star. Seemingly in every movie out there since The Help, Chastain, like Mr. Cooper above, is on her way to reaching superstar status. She’s already taken home a Golden Globe for her role, and she and Lawrence seem to be the frontrunners in this category. A late bloomer who has loudly announced their sticking around, Jessica Chastain is…R.A. Dickey, another performer whose story and work could not have come at a better time. Chastain’s work comes in a film as relevant to American livelihood as any out there. Dickey’s work was a wonderful respite from the talk of steroids and suspensions.

Jennifer Lawrence

I would like to kiss her on the mouth.

Confession: I may be a bit biased here, as I would like to maybe marry Jennifer Lawrence. Moving on. She won’t be going away for some time with The Hunger Games continuing as well as what is sure to be a full offer sheet for at least a decade. Jennifer Lawrence is only 22 (within range for me!). Already a nominee in 2011 for the delightfully titled Winter’s Bone, Lawrence absolutely came alive as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. She and Cooper lit up the screen, and without Day-Lewis, a sweep for Playbook would seem likely. Nevertheless, I am excited for Lawrence not just because she is my future wife, but also because she has decades before her filled with stunning performances like the ones she has turned in for the past few years. With undeniable talent, youth, and a wonderful passion, Jennifer Lawrence is…BRYCE HARPER. Is she a great interview? That’s a clown question, bro. Would I marry him? See last answer.

Yikes.  Still might kiss him on the mouth.

Naomi Watts

 

Nominated in 2004 for 21 Grams, this is Watts’ second Oscar nomination. In all likelihood, she won’t win this year, and she shouldn’t, but her performance as a desperate survivor in The Impossible is worth the OnDemand fee. A solid Hollywood star who isn’t quite among the elite performers of her time, Watts is still a respected veteran. She is… Aramis Ramirez. Yes, the resemblance is uncanny. And yes, they are both boringly effective, producing solid work that may not be remembered years from now without some prompting.

I wish we could provide context for this.

Quvenzhané Wallis 

Wallis is electrifying in Beasts of the Southern Wild, as you have probably heard. You probably also know that she was only 6 during filming…I was starring in critically panned home movies at that age…I haven’t made much progress since. Still only 9, who knows what’s in store for Wallis, and who cares to be honest. For her sake, I hope she lives a normal childhood and goes about life as she pleases…naaaahhhhhht gunna happen. I’m not too worried about her though. With an infectious spirit on and off the screen, I think Wallis will be a Hollywood force somewhere along the road. Given her age, innocence, and unknown future, Quvenzhane Wallis is… Aroldis Chapman, still blissfully immature but brimming with talent and energy. We don’t know what the future holds for them, but we know their work will be done with a room-filling smile.

Emmanuelle Riva

Riva is really old. Sorry, but it is the truth. Having the oldest nominee ever and the youngest in Wallis in the same group is something special that will surely produce laughs or even tears on Sunday night. Riva has been in about a million French films, most of which I haven’t heard of, but her performance in Amour is heartfelt and beautiful, and I’m glad to see her recognized in this talented group. She’s old as balls but dammit she’s got talent. Emmanuelle Riva is…Torii Hunter. She’s done a lot of work we may not remember, but it’s all been pretty good. Little known fact, she also robbed Barry Bonds of a homer in 2002. She loved playing Triple Play, the greatest video game of all time. Also, maybe Torii is a French name or something. Thankfully, she’s far less active on Twitter.

Keep your opinions to yourself. Just rob homers.

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Why the 2013 NCAA Tournament May Be the Best Ever Part 1

 

Part I: Instability Atop the Mountain

 The defending champion (Kentucky) will not even make the tournament. Whoever they are, the 1-seeds will be beatable and flawed. Butler will be a factor. You could make a case for 15 teams winning the whole thing – and that’s a conservative estimate. We have a fun March ahead of us.

Even Joe Lunardi may have a tough time this year, starting with the perpetual motion among his projected 1-seeds.

The 1-Seeds (For Now)

 

As of right now, Lunardi has Indiana, Miami, Duke, and Florida as his 1-seeds. All four of these teams already have 3 losses, including Miami beating Duke handily (with another showdown coming March 2nd), and both Miami and Florida falling short against Arizona.

Indiana will have a tough time making it through the next few weeks unscathed, with Michigan and Ohio State awaiting them in the next two weeks as well as what is sure to be a chaotic Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers have elite talent and primetime players in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo (absolute X-Factor in tonight’s victory over Michigan State), but we could see them fall from the top line of the bracket, as 2-3 losses before the tournament are not out of the question. All three of Indiana’s losses have come by five points or less, and the Hoosiers are certainly primed for tournament atmospheres due to their brutal conference schedule (in opposition to a team like Florida, see below), but watch out for a slow finish for the Fighting Creans. That being said, Indiana’s inside-outside combinations allow them to match up favorably against perhaps every team in the country.

The passion of Victor Oladipo may be the key to an Indiana Final Four run.

Miami represents a great but unpredictable story. From unranked to receiving significant first-place votes in both polls this week, the Hurricanes have stormed through the depleted ACC, 12-0 in conference to this point. A matchup with Duke on March 2nd (quite the day for watching some ball, evidently) seems to be the Canes’ only challenge before the ACC Tournament, but even if this team makes it to the Big Dance with only their current 3 losses, questions remain. Miami wasn’t even in the tourney a year ago, and their incredible growth this season begs the question: can they sustain their level of play without reverting back to their old ways? These “old ways” include a double-digit lost to Florida Gulf Coast in November and back to back losses to Arizona (a 19-point shellacking) and Indiana State at Christmas. Miami seems to have the talent to beat anyone in the country, but their lack of experience and the mediocrity of the ACC except for—or maybe including—Duke leave us wondering how the Hurricanes will fare come March.

Jim Larranaga has everyone around the U smiling this year, as his Canes have journeyed from unranked to projected 1-seed.

Duke has only lost twice since Ryan Kelly’s mid-January injury, but their performance has left a lot to be desired for Cameron Crazies. Besides the annihilation at the hands of Miami, Duke lost Saturday to an inspired Maryland team and has struggled against the unimpressive likes of Wake Forest (W 75-70 on Jan. 30th) and Boston College (W 62-61 Feb. 10th in a game they did not deserve to win). The Blue Devils have experience at the coaching level (Duh), and Mason Plumlee was a freshman when they won the title in 2010, but no other contributor has been past the Sweet Sixteen. Plumlee, Seth Curry, and Quinn Cook make up a strong nucleus, but the team has yet to find its chemistry following Kelly’s injury. With the March 2nd rematch against Miami as their only true pre-tourney test (maybe another rematch in the ACC Tournament Championship Game as well), look for Duke to enter the Big Dance as a 1 or 2-seed but as an unknown nevertheless. I don’t expect another Lehigh incident, but watch out for a 7-10 seed knocking the Blue Devils off in Duke’s second game. Just looking at Lunardi’s current projections, one has to wonder how Duke would handle Creighton and game-changer Doug McDermott.

Can these two stars get Duke playing at its peak in time for a deep tourney run? They’ve yet to provide a definitive answer.

Florida has probably received the least attention of these top teams, partially due to the overwhelming coverage of conference foe Kentucky’s underwhelming season.

Florida went to the Elite Eight as a 7-seed last year, further than any of the other three projected 1-seeds. Besides respectable early losses to Arizona and Kansas State and tonight’s battle defeat at the hands of Phil Pressey and Missouri, Florida does have a perplexing double-digit loss to Arkansas, but the Gators have won their other 11 SEC games by an average of 25.9 points! Theoretically, Florida can and should win every game remaining on their schedule, barring struggles with Arkansas at home or at Kentucky to finish the regular season on March 9th. Like the ACC teams above, Florida’s lackluster conference leaves much up to the imagination, but their complete dominance in the SEC deserves more love. With a coach who has in fact WON TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, and a versatile core of Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, and Patric Young (senior, senior, junior), Florida has the potential to go even deeper than their overachieving squad did a year ago. They may be in the best shape of any of these four to make a run.

Don’t underestimate the King of the Receding Hairline, also known as 2-time national champion Billy Donovan.

My money was on Michigan State beating Indiana in East Lansing hours ago and supplanting the Hoosiers as a 1-seed. Whoops. MSU could still make a run at a top seed with a Big Ten Tournament Championship. Gonzaga may be challenged in the coming weeks, but expect them to run the table to the tournament and replace one of the ACC squads (or Florida if the Gators’ struggles continue) as a 1-seed. All that said, the winner of Michigan-Indiana on March 10th will secure 1-seed position, and I’d expect whichever two of the MSU-IU-UM Big Ten Triangle finish strongest to secure two of the top seeds, with Gonzaga and the stronger finisher of Duke-Miami (my guess is Miami) filling out the remaining two spots.

 

Including all of these contenders, there are, as of February 18th, already 34 NCAA teams with 20 wins as of February 18th and 21 more teams have 19 wins! That means about 16% of all NCAA teams already have 19 wins. Now not all of these teams are threats to win the whole thing (sorry, Stony Brook, Akron, etc.), but with teams like Kansas, Kansas State, Syracuse, Louisville, Georgetown, half of the Big Ten, and Arizona out there playing well, chances are the aforementioned one seeds will not be the top 4 come selection Sunday.  Furthermore, there’s a good chance a 1-seed will not be cutting down the nets at the Georgia Dome on April 8th considering the amount of good teams and lack of great teams, considering the likes of lesser-known sleepers like VCU, Creighton, Memphis, Wichita State, and Oregon, to name only a few.

She has as good a guess as anyone for what team will emerge in Georgia come early April. She likes Indiana’s completeness but made sure to tell me to watch out for runs by Butler and Georgetown.

Maybe these four projected 1-seeds will all hold their spots. Maybe none of them will. Only time will tell. March Madness has come early this year, so start enjoying now.

-Kenny

To be continued…

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Baseball’s Doing Something Right: Why the MLB Draft System Works

As the NBA allows for “one-and-dones” to exist, slowly eating away at the stability and integrity of college basketball, there is a contemporary professional sports league that does it right. Believe it or not, that league is the MLB, home of our nation’s fading pastime. While talented teenagers bolt from schools towards NBA millions, we cannot fault these athletes—many of whom come from low to middle-class backgrounds—for forsaking a college degree to sign lucrative contracts as young as possible.

The current system forces NBA-ready players like Kyrie Irving and Nerlens Noel to go to college for a year, both jeopardizing their health or draft value (notice why I chose these two?) and cutting away at the academic integrity of the schools they attend.

Recognize Irving in this uniform? No? Maybe because he wore it only a handful of times before getting injured during his freshman year. Suffice it to say Irving would have made out just fine in the NBA without his 8 GS at Duke.

Nerlens Noel, the latest victim of the NBA’s flawed eligibility rules, may have to wait a little longer to hear his name called at this year’s NBA Draft.


Meanwhile, the system also pushes student-athletes who are not ready to perform at the next level into the NBA, players such as throwback Omar Cook of St. John’s fame (1.7 PPG and 0 NBA starts) and Kosta Koufos (4.6 PPG in 86 starts), a man probably drawn out of school due to the precedent set by more talented Ohio State teammates. (Side note: I attended the 3 OT Celtics-Nuggets thriller ten days ago—Koufos started the game but was nowhere to be found on the court for the last 20 minutes of game time.)

Koufos spends a lot of time wearing this warmup, questioning his decision to leave Ohio State after just a year. Certainly a player who, under MLB rules, would have played 3-4 years in college before going pro.

One could go on and on with names like these, including a whole slew of Memphis grads (Shawne Williams and Dajuan Wagner to name just two), and the busts far outnumber the studs, the Durants and Irvings of the world. If the NBA and NCAA hope to strike a balance between fostering talent and allowing superstars to shine bright early, while also maintaining the integrity of the entity “student-athelete,” perhaps they should take a hint from their less popular, less flawed baseball buddies.

Baseball is very in touch with its policies and its players. Just ask Chris Coghlan.

While MLB has its share of struggles regarding young talent burning out, their system does a far better job of balancing encouraging superstar talent with pushing teenagers to develop for four years in college.

According to MLB.com, the main categories of eligible players to be drafted by Major League teams are:

  •  High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
  • College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
  • Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed

To summarize this summary, a high school senior can enter the MLB Draft upon graduating, but a player who enters college is not eligible for the draft until he has completed his junior year or is 21 years of age. This way, raw talents are encouraged to develop their game at the college level. Many players still immaturely choose the draft, but for the most part only the top talent each year is pushed to declare straight out of high school. No draft system will ever be perfect (if one was, drafting would be really easy…), but MLB’s is fascinating in that it makes athletes and their families do something we often dread: think. The three-year timeframe between graduating high school and being 21 does put a heckuva lot of pressure on prospects, but this tough choice tends to push players toward college rather than declaring straight out of high school.

Just ask Mr. Pedroia if he’s thankful for his time playing at ASU, where he was teammates with two other All-Stars: Ian Kinsler and Andre Ethier.

The numbers don’t lie. Only 5.6% of high school baseball players play NCAA baseball, and well less than 1% get drafted to the MLB straight out of high school. On the other hand, 10.5% of NCAA players go on to play professionally! Now there are differences between the NBA and MLB, one must admit. Terms for guaranteed money vary in the leagues, but each league guarantees their contracts, unlike the NFL, which allows for teams to essentially get rid of players at their whim. MLB also differs from the NBA in that its draft is huuuuuuuuuuuge – more than 1,000 players are drafted each year while the NBA’s draft has two round and less than 70 picks.

Similarly, however, an estimated 1.2% of NCAA men’s basketball players get drafted to the NBA while about .003% of high school varsity players will eventually play professionally. For the NBA, a system with options declaring right out of high school or after 3 years of college  solves ANOTHER problem- the minor leagues!  Seeing a kid or 2 or 3 years in college as they refine their game is a helluva lot better than a one and done going to the NBDL and vanishing from the face of the Earth!

Xavier Henry should have spent some more time in this uniform. Does wasting away in the D-League or on the Hornets’ bench really seem like a better option than developing under the tutelage of Bill Self? Bet you forgot who Xavier Henry was.

Every professional sport will have players who attempt to make it big before their minds or bodies are ready (Freddy Adu, Ryan Leaf, Demarcus Cousins it would seem), but as of right now the NBA is failing its pool of young talent and therefore its fanbase with regard to its handling of development of players.

Baseball’s system allows for the proper maturing of talent – whether it be mentally or physically.  Sure, there will always be freaks like Bryce Harper or Dave Winfield, but the majority of athletes in ALL sports need time to season their brains to the professional level.  Listen to a veteran talking about a rookie sometime – in any sport – they never talk about the things we drool over before drafts, verticals and bench press and Wonderlics; they talk about mental preparation.  If the NBA adopted the MLB policy, certainly there will still be bozos like DeMarcus Cousins who bolt before they are ready but the point is teams would then have the knowledge that a more refined, if slightly less naturally athletically gifted, player can have a positive impact quicker and more efficiently than those who failed to transition properly.

Stephen Strasburg was just one of many stud prospects who could light up a radar gun. His time at San Diego State allowed him to become the most surefire superstar of this generation.

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by | February 19, 2013 · 2:06 PM

Greatest Of All Time (GOATs): The Time is Now

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

-the indelible Ferris Bueller

Ferris stated simply yet so powerfully a truth that haunts us all, but even more daunting than the speed with which life flies by is the pace at which sports travel—from one era, superstar, or scandal to the next before we can even appreciate what we are lucky enough to witness firsthand.

As I sit here gagging at the shallow yet relentless spectacle that is NBA All-Star Weekend (I appreciate Big Shot Bob Horry as much as the next guy but JUST SHOW ME DUNKS), I want to be negative and cynical; I want to yell that my sports world can never be rebuilt into a fantasyland of innocent admiration, that steroids and Twitter and self-promotion and wide receivers and the 2012 Red Sox have forever tarnished my view. But I can’t.

You see, we in fact live right now in a time when the greatest of all time are growing, performing, and dominating right before our eyes. Let’s stop on this most lame of sports weekends and look around:

Albert Pujols

 

In a landscape marred by PEDs (see our horrifying expose here), decreasing national interest, and falling heroes (say it ain’t so, Mr. Braun!), Pujols continues to go about his business of entering the discussion of GOAT. His charming disposition aside (that’s for another time), Pujols will, assuming 5-7 years of near-peak performance, near the home run mark of “Home Run King” Barry Bonds, the Worst King of Anything Ever. Considering that Pujols is not only protected by the otherworldy talent that is Mike Trout but also now by the bat of Josh Hamilton, 300 more HR is not out of the question by any means. With 10 top-10 MVP finishes (and 3 wins) in only 12 seasons, Pujols has astounded with his consistency as well as his power and efficiency (see .325 career average and 42 doubles per season).

Don’t just stay up to watch Trout follow up his unprecedented rookie season: make sure to remember Albert Pujols, soon to be considered one of the GOAT.

Lionel Messi

 I won’t pretend to know much about soccer (although I did captain the worst middle school team ever to a respectable 2-10 campaign), but every sports fan should be able to appreciate the beautiful dominance of the Beautiful Game that Messi brings on a daily basis. There is more to be done for his Argentina team that has disappointed at times on the world stage, but Messi has never failed to amaze, whether in short spurts (five goals in one game!) or over a prolonged period of time (FIFA Ballon d’Or 2009-12, only player to win it four times. He’s 25.).

Despite this outfit, NOW is as good a time as ever for us narrow-minded, anti-soccer sports fans to take notice of Messi, as he has scored in FOURTEEN STRAIGHT GAMES and has amassed 48 GOALS IN JUST 34 GAMES THIS SEASON. Soccer players who score in half their games are considered among the best in the world. With his numbers, Messi is among the GOAT.

Greatest ever? We shall see.

Lebron James

There is not much to be said about Lebron that isn’t said every other day on ESPN, but some things bear repeating: 27.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 6.9 APG for one year would be amazing. These are Lebron’s career numbers! And he seems to still be growing into a more complete player! And he is playing looser and more efficiently now that he won a ring! And he’s only 28!!!  This is Lebron’s 10th season. He’s made 10 All-Star teams, will soon have finished top 10 in MVP voting 10 times (Top 5 8 times), and it is safe to assume he will remain in these positions for the foreseeable future (DID I MENTION HE’S ONLY 28?!!?). Not only has Lebron been top 2 in the NBA in scoring for the past 8 years, he’s been top 10 in assists five times and top 10 in minutes played 7 times!

Lebron will play for at least eight more seasons. He will win at least another two championships and cement his legacy, win however many MVPs he feels necessary, and he just might do so in yet another uniform, sticking his middle finger once again towards us fans who forget that above all, this is a man who wants to win and wants to be the GOAT. Regarding the latter, he will never attain his goal in the eyes of many.

Grandpas love Larry Bird. Side note: not my grandpa.

Michael Jordan (or Larry Bird for my classicist grandfather) will always be the greatest to those people, but the fact that Lebron’s only obstacle to being GOAT is the GOAT means he is, in fact, PRETTY DAMN GOOD. Did I mention he’s only 28?

Ugly sweater. Turtleneck. Still has the elephant.

Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson

Take your pick. A case can, or will be able to, be made for any of the three quarterbacks for GOAT. Rodgers, Brady, and Manning possess the 1st, 2nd, and 4th best career passer ratings OF ALL TIME, respectively. Manning and Brady are 2nd and 5th all-time in Pass TD (with Rodgers in full pursuit at only age 28), and all three are in the top 7 for passing YPG. The debate between these three—and any other past QB you wish to include—will not be settled until Rodgers is done. With Brady’s window closing (not too fast, I hope) and Manning’s nearly shut, my money is on Rodgers winning this clash of titans, and perhaps even the discount double check belt for GOAT. As if this country needs reasons to watch football on Sundays, these three lead the unfathomably deep pool of QB talent that currently make football the most watchable sport in the United States, if not world (sorry, hurling).

Before he’s done, Rodger’s belt may just be one with a GOAT buckle. I do hope this move goes away. Soon please!

Peterson’s path to GOAT is perhaps filled with more obstacles than those of his QB contemporaries. Considering his knee’s history, Peterson’s career may not last as long as all of us (except Packers and Bears fans) would like. That being said, eight more seasons seems reasonable for Peterson, and an average of 1,500 yards for those eight seasons (doable with Christian Ponder or Alex Smith under center) would put Peterson at 20,849 career yards, the highest total ever. A lot of you could argue that 1,500 yards is too high. 1,300 yards per those eight seasons still gives Peterson a GOAT total of 19,249 rushing yards. He’ll only be 28 come training camp. If a destroyed knee yields 2,000 rushing yards, who knows what 6-8 healthy years could mean for Peterson and his opponents.

Damn. He’s even bigger now. This is what my online dating profile picture would be. Ladies.

Miscellaneous (Unprecedentedly Good) Athletes

These final two athletes found fame in very different sports but with a similar tragic flaw. At the same time their performances have been electrifying, snatching  up the attention of this country and of the entire sporting world, their exposure has been fleeting and painfully short. Michael Phelps gave us three snapshots of what it means to be truly dominant in one’s field, winning often or always and doing so in a wide array of races, sometimes even in world record fashion. Yet we are doomed to discuss him for only two weeks every four years into eternity because of the fleeting beauty that is the Olympic games. The same goes for Usain Bolt, the man so enigmatic both in talent and personality, who has captured the world’s eye in both Beijing and London, only to flash by in a blur so fast that a couple of sneezes and you miss history. Phelps and Bolt are, as of now, the GOAT in their fields, and competitors will be hard-pressed to dethrone them for some time to come. Just a pity they only show up every four years for most of us.

Phelps was swimming in the Olympics at an age when I was just understanding why beach volleyball was cool. He still sort of looks like a dork.

So what am I saying? Why create this list? First of all, don’t complain that it’s long (and could be longer—see Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, et al.); be thankful that you live within what is most certainly a peak in sports history, a time filled with great teams, moments, and individual competitors like these I have mentioned. So stop whining about this NBA Self-Indulgence Weekend. Maybe skip school or work on Monday. Steal a friend’s car. Take it to a game (NOT A CUBS GAME THOUGH). Stop and take in the talent around you. Or don’t. But be warned. You just might miss it.

Cameron didn’t have so many (potential) GOATs to watch. You do. So look around a little.

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