The “transendence” moment in watching sports

For most of my life I have tread cautious ground. I don’t often get into fights, verbal or physical, nor do I often grandstand and try and overpower other people with my beliefs. At the end of the day if it’s easier for me to just bite my tongue rather than get involved in a lengthy squabble, I would rather take the quiet route. I can do this mostly because if there was an emotional scale from 1-10, I would be near the 1 part of the scale. While others have their emotions take control of them, I shut mine down. I’m like Mario wearing a tanooki suit, turning to stone when emotions threaten to overwhelm me.

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I imagined this looking far cooler in my head.
Also that is not me, I have a beard, this is a random google image.

It’s not that I don’t have feelings, it’s just that while growing up emotions were used as weapons in my house, which meant in order to not have them turned against me, I had to learn to shut my emotions down. As a result, people who are more emotional, if I can take an emotional bullet for them, I’ll do it, because I am good at doing so.

Why have I offered up this random glimpse into my mind you never asked for? I only do it to offer up context for the “transcendence” moment in sports I referenced in my title of this blog.

During sports, there comes a special moment where my mind shuts down and all thoughts cease in my brain. I stop worrying if that e-mail I sent to a co-worker was too strongly worded. I stop wondering what that look my sister gave to me last Christmas meant (Did she hate her present??) I basically stop over thinking everything like I normally do and all that takes over is sweet, sweet pure emotion.

It usually has three different forms:

Nervousness – Canucks are tied in a playoff game, late in the third period sort of situation. This is often characterized by me slumping back in my seat as if I am trying to physically dodge any incoming disappointments. “If I slump to the left, surely that impending loss will miss me over my right shoulder.”

Anger – Canucks have blown it, or the refs have made a terrible call. This is characterized by me swearing. A lot.

Happiness – Pure pure happiness. Like when Bieksa put the Canucks into the Finals in 2011. Oddly enough this is also characterized by me swearing. A lot.

While any of these three are a nice break from my mind, happiness is obviously the best one. I still remember to this day when Todd Bertuzzi put the Canucks up 2-0 against Minnesota in game 7 of the 2003 playoffs. Being a Canucks fan, I assumed the Canucks would find a way to blow it (don’t worry, they did), and when Todd put the Canucks up 2-0 it was like part of my brain thought that was enough and I just gave into the emotion and began cheering like a mad man. At this point I began screaming a string of obscenities directed towards Minnesota and I still don’t know why I did it. It went something like this:

“**** YOU MINNIE YOU ****ING PIECES OF *****, ****** SUCK ON MY ******* ******, YOU *****”

I don’t know if I was so nervous about the game that when Bert put Vancouver up 2-0 it unleashed a flood of pent up emotions, but whatever it was, it was fun to do because I didn’t think for one second about what I was doing, I just enjoyed the moment.

Fast forward to the year 2013, and I have found myself in an odd spot. Canucks games, normally a spot where I could unleash my emotions at will, has now become yet another awkward family dinner event for me, in the sense that when I watch games in the press box, I have to control and watch EVERYTHING I do. This isn’t just emotions, I have to be on my best behavior for saying hi to people, for talking to people, to everything. Getting popcorn has become an ordeal as I make sure to let everyone go first, then I only take around three or four scoops lest people think the “blogger” is being greedy.

Odds are I am being overly cautious, but I do this because as a “lowly blogger” I know I am in an unstable position to say the least (during one hilaaaaaarious exchange I was once told to be quiet in press row because I was “no longer in [my] moms basement.” I rarely talk in press row, so that was kind of a fun one.) Bloggers were just getting media access last year, so if I do something to screw it up, not only could I lose my access, but I could screw it up for other bloggers by giving us a bad name, so I make sure I try my best to represent the bloggers with professionalism and class. Not that I have a problem being professional, mind you, it just means I have now taken away one of the most therapeutic emotional moments in my life.

This means for the last two seasons I have been muting my emotions in the press box. I’m sorry, but I love hockey, and it is hard for me not to go “HOLY SHIT!” when a big hit is landed or a nice move is made. As I have said before, I am quite confident in my ability to scream “GOOD GOD, DIRTY DANGLES” and then write an article about it in a non biased way 10 minutes later, but in press row I do as the Romans do, and I keep quiet and pretend to hate hockey like everybody else.

As a result, I don’t find myself enjoying hockey the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing about hockey, and I love the access to the locker room, and there are a ton of good people I have met doing this gig, but it’s a different kind of enjoyment than the therapeutic emotional enjoyment I got in the past.

Which brings me to the WWE Raw event in Seattle held this past Monday on December 9th. It was at the Key Arena and the only other non house show I had ever seen was a Raw in Vancouver many moons ago, but those were in seats up in the rafters. For this event, I was 5 rows back from the ring.

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Now, as you know, I love my wrestling, and many people don’t, and that’s totally fine. I like the story lines and the athleticism of the moves, and for the few occasions that wrestling makes me hit a transcendence moment. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened at Raw this week.

For most of the show, I watched and enjoyed it. I didn’t cheer or scream, I sat politely and watched. I don’t often get carried away by wrestling as much as hockey, but the atmosphere was so loud in Seattle and being that close to the ring was so neat, that the night would have been a success regardless. TV really doesn’t do the crowds justice sometimes. Here is how it sounded during the main event promo during the last segment:

Then as the show came to a close, a scuffle in the ring began, and all of the wrestlers started hitting their finisher moves on each other, one after the other, like some weird demented human game of dominoes, and I kind of lost my mind. All of a sudden I was standing up, screaming for blood, and turning around and shouting “EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING”. I know wrestling is scripted, yet they did such a good job of telling a story that night, that my mind went blank, and my emotions took over, and there I was, 5 years old again, believing in everything, screaming and cheering like my life depended on it.

It was one of the best moments ever.

This is the beauty of sports to me. The moments where sports just take over and you forget about everything around you and you just experience the moment for what it is. I love these moments and this is the reason I will always love and continue to watch sports.

So while I might have lost hockey in that regards (though I still plan on going “as a fan” for big games), it’s nice to know that there are still some things in life that just let me enjoy the moment for what it is.

To sum up, sports are awesome.

The end.

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The moral outrage!

So for those who might have missed the NHL hockey highlights last night, apparently the NHL  was having a beer league hockey theme night in which several teams participated. There were cheap shots aplenty as several players went to their rec hockey dark place and attempted to take out players from the other team with cheap tactics. The only thing missing from last night’s action was the vaunted “I’ll meet you in the parking lot, bitch!” screamed by a player as he was kicked out of the game.

Let’s recap the carnage, shall we?

First up, we have Chris Kelly with a broken ankle, believed to have happened when Pascal Dupuis used his stick like a baseball bat and swung like he was Mark McGuire juiced out of his mind at Chris Kelly’s ankle right here:

Next up, we have James Neal doing the old Homer Simpson pie eating routine of “I’m just going to skate forward with my knee and if your head happens to be in the way, it’s your fault!” on Brad Marchand. Also included is the bonus hit of Brooks Orpik taking out Lou Eriksson, which was the start of the entire Bruins/Pens debacle.

Oh wait, that was the Simpsons clip. Here it is

I wonder if Neal remembered this from last years playoffs?

This was of course followed up the highlight getting the most amount of press, the Shawn Thornton UFC style ground and pound of Brooks Orpik later in the game (Orpik refused to fight Thornton, hence the escalation into beer league hockey antics).

Not to be lost in the shuffle, Zac Rinaldo of the Flyers also got into the fun in the Flyers vs Stars match up by attempting to out UFC Shawn Thornton with a some ground and pound of his own.

Phew, that was a lot of video. I am sure there is one of a player kicking a puppy as well, at the rate last night went, but I can’t find it.

So to sum up last night:

Brooks Orpik borderline late hit to the head of Lou Eriksson

Thornton punches to a prone Orpik

Neal knee to the head of Marchand

Dupuis slash to the ankle of Kelly

Rinaldo punches to a downed opponent in Roussel.

I am pretty sure Team Canada beat the Soviets using many of these same moves back in the days of Bobby Clarke, but I digress.

As a result, there are a lot of people outraged about the state of the game. The amounts of sighing, pleading and outright screaming in the air with both fists raised is raining down from many in the media. While I agree that this sort of stuff shouldn’t be in the game anymore (with the scary stories of ex-athletes dealing with brain damage later in life, you’d have to have no heart to want to see this in the game), I just don’t have it in me to join the rank and file and scream along with the morally outraged over the Thornton punches. Why you ask?

1) The optics of the Thornton incident make it looks worse, but the Rinaldo bare knuckled punch was just as bad to me, it’s just Roussel wasn’t taken off on a stretcher. I find it hard to climb up my soap box to rain fury and anger down on Thornton purely because of the result of two plays that were similar but ended differently.

Both plays should obviously be looked at by the league, and both plays shouldn’t happen in the league, that sums it up easily enough for me.

2) Hockey is hockey. Guys playing sports will always do stupid things in the name of pride, temper, and “being a man”, so If the NHL wants to stop things like this, then it’s on them to instill harsher penalties, and not just use the ESPN rule, where “If a negative hockey highlight makes the first 10 minutes of ESPN, we better come down harshly so we look super pro-active against violence and stuff”. Make a player know that if he swings at a downed opponent that he could be suspended, and suspended harshly. Punches on the ground go against the infamous NHL code the players all follow, but to quote Pirates of the Caribbean

the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules

So stop using a mythical code book and start suspending people, or accept the fact violence will happen when guys get together to play a sport. Don’t pretend to be shocked when sometimes it escalates. Either be proactive all the time, or tell people “Sorry, that’s hockey.” Don’t cherry pick your spots where you decide to stop the violence in hockey.

3) Again, it’s hockey. I find it hard to become indignant about violence when watching hockey because part of the game involves moving at high speeds and trying to hit the other player. If you hit somebody, clean or not, sometimes that guy is going to on tilt. It’s human nature that some people might just lose their minds and do something stupid, it’s almost impossible to prevent that from happening at all times. That is why if the NHL is serious about curbing what they view as the extraneous violence in hockey, the solution to lowering these incidents is firmly in their hands. Suspend (harshly) ALL actions that go outside the line of “allowable violence” and make sure a player, even one who has lost his mind, might for a brief second get the thought of “oh shit, I could get suspended 30 games for this….” The NHL players might view “the code” as just guidelines, but they will view the loss of a pay check for 1/3 of a season as something very concrete.

A player having to explain to his wife that no, little Jimmy can’t go to the nice private school next year because Daddy had to punch his co-worker will probably be a better deterrent  than what they do now, that’s all I am saying.

Again, I fully understand the tough spot the NHL is in when it comes to suspending players for trying to deliver huge body checks and possibly crossing the line. The Orpik hit on Eriksson is a great example. Hitting is a part of hockey, so you don’t want to see hitting taken completely out, so obviously the NHL has to have leeway when it comes to hits. But the punches to a grounded opponent? The slashes to an ankle? Suspend the shit out of that.

4) Pascal Dupuis using his stick as a weapon should get him suspended. If Kassian can get 8 games for not being in control of his stick, then why shouldn’t Dupuis be suspended for using his stick as a weapon? It doesn’t matter that he targeted a foot, the fact is, in true Kessel fashion, he used his stick as a weapon and tried to hurt another player. There is no other reason you slash somebody other than to inflict pain on the other player. The NHL should come down harsher on the egregious two handed stick slashes. Basically if you can confuse a guy slashing someone really easily with a lumberjack chopping mood, then there should be a suspension, that’s all I am saying.

At the end of the day, I like my hockey physical. I like the idea that a guy who wins the Stanley Cup can barely get out of bed for a couple of weeks after because he is so physically and mentally exhausted. People who play sports, professional or not, know that it always come with a price, and people pay it willingly. The feeling of playing hockey for me is worth the risk of me having bad knees later in life, and I make that choice willingly. The only choice I don’t make is having someone punch me when I’m not ready, and that is the area the NHL should focus on.

I am less inclined to be upset over a hit that you have to break down to .0002 frames per second just to try and gauge whether it was a second too late versus the kind of stuff that is obviously not needed in hockey, like the punches to grounded opponents, so in my humble opinion, that should be what the NHL cracks down on. I just don’t won’t be up in arms over it if they don’t.

OK, back to the outrage!

Twitter confuses me sometimes

I deal with Twitter a ton in my hockey blogging job, and for the most part, I love it. I really do. I get to interact with people that I might never have talked to in real life (I usually have my head buried in a book when in transit) and I get to see a variety of topics discussed around me. I also get very quick updates on the world of sports, and I get some good laughs from some very funny people I follow. Twitter for the most part is pretty, pretty, pretty good.

pretty

That being said, there are some things on Twitter that drive me nuts, or that I just don’t understand. So here are three things about Twitter that confuse me. Please keep in mind I guarantee you I do things that bother people on Twitter. This is not a list of “You’re a fucking idiot if you do these things!!!” by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just more of a “I sometimes shake my head in confusion at this”. I am not attempting to condemn anyone for doing these things, so hopefully you don’t get all defensive and start subtweeting about it (Pro Tip: That’s on my list).

Focused Accounts “recommending” other account:

What is a focused account? A focused account is one that was created with one job in mind, like a “Things guys says just before they poop (example: “Bombs away!”)” or “Foods that are yellow” type accounts. Accounts that were made to provide a service, which usually causes many people to follow them for this very reason. One such account I follow is “Horror Pictures” which I initially followed because it showed some dude in a 1930’s gas mask, and because it shows stuff like this:

tweet3

This is amazing to me. What is going on here? Why is one of the… woman?…. in the picture so apparently amused by the other ones fear? Why does the clown man have that hat on? What’s with the creepy picture in the upper right? So many questions, and it amuses me. What I don’t need from the same account is this:

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I don’t give a shit about having ear buds in my ears without having listened to music for an hour. I am sure some people will see this and go “OMG THAT’S WHAT I DO ROFL” *clicks follow*. I am not one of them.

I also fully understand accounts like these gain more followers by doing said practices of spamming my face with “IF YOU LOVE PUPPIES AND LIKE LAUGHING, THEN YOU SHOULD FOLLOW “IT BURNS WHEN I PEE” THEY’LL MAKE SURE YOU DON’T HAVE THE HERP.” I understand I can solve this situation to a degree by unfollowing these accounts, but then where will I get my creepy pictures? Googling random horror images myself?? There are two things wrong with that:

1) This isn’t 2006 god damn it.

2) Googling words like that at work will 90% of the time end with some sort of dick picture. I already have enough questions I am sure with my googling “Nude Kesler pic” at work several times when I need to do a quick Canucks photoshop.

3) It’s like image masturbating. Sure, I can do it, but it feels so much better if someone else does it for me.

Sometimes I just want my day to start off with a ghost petting a cat, ok?

All I ask is that focused accounts post more of their content then recommending other accounts to follow. That’s it. Right now I get around 10 “HILARIOUS” accounts to follow for every one scary picture. That ratio is bullshit, BULLSHIT.

UPDATE: 

Because twitter is awesome, I have a solution for problem one:

twit

A thank you to Greg!

Moral Outrage

I FULLY understand the use of twitter as a vehicle to vent things. Believe me, when hockey is on, sometimes I can go into a rage about a stick breaking and it will seem like my entire life’s purpose is to find the people at Easton and see if their arms break as easily as Edler’s sticks.

That being said, I try and keep my moral outrage at a minimum level, to around below 10% of my tweets. When you go above 50%, you are officially on “soap box” mode, in which I assume you are trying to change people’s minds on how they view the world. This is fine if that’s your mission in life. If you believe in something strongly enough, then by all means, you do your thing and you go for it!

What I find hard to do for people on soap box mode, though, is take them seriously when one minute they are tweeting their outrage over an injustice in the world, then the next minute tweeting about some bitch who forgot to put cream in their coffee.

twitterI prefer when people are consistent with their message. If you’re all out intent upon changing the world to a perfect place, then follow the guidelines in life you have set in place yourself. Otherwise you confuse me.

Sub Tweeting

I know a ton of people I follow do this, so this will be a touchy one. I need to stress again I am not trying to attack you for doing this, but I just personally don’t understand this form of tweeting. I assume maybe it’s a form of stress relief? Rather than keep it inside, you express it on a public forum? Either way, sub tweeting is steeped in a filthy cup of passive aggressiveness, which is another thing I don’t really understand. At the end of the day I still don’t fully know if you actually want the person you’re subtweeting to read it or not. Or maybe it’s some fucked up game of gambling, where you roll the dice and see what happens? Will they read it? Will they not? Will they know the tweet is about them??  I have no idea.

I’d much rather you call me a bitch to my face (Wyatt note: Please don’t tweet at me calling me a bitch after reading this, don’t be that guy/girl) than subtweet a haiku about how certain metal based object twitter accounts you follow can be such a dick sometimes. From my experiences, talking it over with people I argue with works out 10000% better than people holding it in, coming up with their own conclusions based on reactions or non-reactions to sub tweeting, and as a result, harboring some grudge that 10 years from now you won’t even know how it started, but by god, you’re 100% sure that person is an asshole for some valid reason you can’t quite remember.

sticks

Being direct with someone is the way to go. 

Besides, twitter fights are WAY more entertaining to follow, than trying to piece together 20 subtweets put out over the course of a week, just so you can figure out why one of your followers no longer enjoy having coffee at lunch with another follower. Sometimes twitter fights is all we have when we’re stuck at work, people need to realize this.

That’s it for today. Again, no offense intended, I write in exaggerated tones because it’s more fun to do so (maybe that’s on your list of things you hate?? We can be hate best friends!!).

I will subtweet how much I hate you later.

Monday Night Raw – December 2nd, 2013

Well last week’s Raw was a shit show, so I assumed they could only go up from there, and to be honest, they actually did do a much better job this week. Keep in mind, I hate John Cena with every fiber of my being, so if you enjoy him, you probably won’t like what I have to say about him. Anyways, let’s break down this weeks Raw!

– The show opened with CM Punk talking about the Shield kicking his ass last week and Punk’s theory was that HHH had the Shield beat him up due to the disparaging remarks Punk made about HHH’s lack of creativity last week. Stephanie came out and told Punk that they would never do that. She then had Kane come out in his new role as Director of Operations, and Kane patiently explained that The Authority was not behind it, so the case was closed. Kane appears to be growing his hair out which is kind of gross, and kind of just makes him look like a doughy old man, which I guess fits his role now. Is Kane out of wrestling for good now? I wonder. They get real sneaky sometimes by suddenly dropping out of being an every day roster guy.

– This led the Shield to come out of the crowd (remember when Edge and Christian came out of the crowd? And the blood baths?? Remember the blood baths?? God I loved the Attitude Era) but Stephanie stopped the Shield, rambled a bit, then left. Kane then told CM Punk he would be facing the Shield in a handicap match at the TLC PPV.

I was thankful HHH wasn’t involved, (I don’t enjoy the Raw Triple H sandwich, starting and ending with him) and the promo did it’s job by painting the Authority as someone you can’t trust, and it actually allowed Kane to do something in his role. Up until this point Kane had only yelled at Randy Orton a bit, so it was good to see him do something useful as a heel guy.

– Sandow vs Ziggler continued, and I enjoy these matches because Ziggler is really really good at selling offense, which helps Sandow a lot, as Sandow has attempted to be far “meaner” in the ring as of late, to help make up for the 27123 losses he had in a row while being the Money in the Bank holder.

– Big E Langston was at ring side watching, as whomever wont his match would be the number one contender for the IC belt, which means you know it wasn’t going to be Ziggler. Sandow won the match and he and Langston had some words.

It was a decent match that helped push an actual storyline for the IC belt, so I am happy with it. Will they actually give the feud the attention it deserves to make it feel like an impactful IC title feud? Doubtful, but we shall see.

– The Divas had their random match of the week. As usual the Total Divas got their TV time (Bella Twins and Nattie) and AJ, Female Diesel Tamina, and Summer Rae (who odd the company is apparently huge on. Nothing against her, but she has been nothing but another average Diva as far as I can tell. Though better than Jojo. Though to be fair, everyone is better than Jojo.).

A couple of things to note:

1) For all of her family lineage, Nattie is extremely sloppy in the ring

2) Nattie’s discus punch is god awful. You can tell she forces it into her matches instead of making it look like a natural flowing move

3) Nattie got the win over AJ, which leads me to wonder if one of the Total Divas will eventually get the title, if for no other reason because it would be a fun story line for the Total Divas show. Again, Total Divas has been a ratings hit for the E! Network, and since the WWE is a complete whore for any market they think likes them, I could see them pushing the title into a storyline for that show.

And to be fair, the Divas title isn’t that grand right now, so why not do it? I am a firm believer that AJ is the only good thing about the division right now and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. I literally (and I am using this correctly here) cringe any time I have to watch a Bella twin react to one of their boyfriends getting hurt in a story line.

“Oh….noooo. ….. Daniel Bryan is dead? Is he ok? Oh no…..Daniel is ….what should I do? Let’s go sign some football.”

– Wade Barrett is back and re-packaged as Bad News Barrett. This is apparently a gimmick he would do on JBL and Michael Cole’s podcast, and I guess they decided to run with it, because why the hell not. Barrett’s “bare knuckle fighting” gimmick died about 2 seconds into its run, so why not try it?

He didn’t fight on the night, he simply came out twice and delivered some bad news. Here is the second time he came out:

Not going to lie, I kind of like it. It’s stupid and cheesy but at least he’s being a heel, and at least he’s making me laugh. Let’s see if the writers can give him good enough material to make this last. My fear is they turn him into a Khali side show embarrassment (the WWE has some of the worst comedy writers on TV. They make Disney TV humor look like Shakespeare) but at least for now it makes Barrett stand out, if for no other reason he is acting like an actual heel, instead of this blurred line garbage they keep doing.

– Backstage segment with Orton and Brad Maddox is up next. Orton demands Maddox tell the Authority that they tell Orton that he is a bigger name than John Cena. I don’t…..I ….. sure? Why not? This seems kind of forced but I guess it got Brad Maddox on screen?

– Daniel Bryan vs Eric (sheeps mask) Rowan, with Harper watching from ring side is the next match.

Now for those who missed last week, Daniel Bryan was kidnapped at the end of the match and taken away by the Wyatt family. Everyone was wondering if this was the start of a brain washing sort of deal, a situation where Bryan was turned into a member of the Wyatt family. Well apparently they kidnapped him and then…. left him in an abandoned parking lot outside the arena.

I laughed heartily at this.

Big bad Wyatt family kidnaps Bryan, only to go “you know what, he’s pretty heavy, let’s just dump him outside.”

I know they needed Bryan to be back on TV again next week, but man, I feel they could have come up with several other ways to explain why he was no longer in the Wyatt family custody other than “Ah shit, it was kind of cold out so we just dropped him off in lot B.”

Anyways, the match was your typical big man vs smaller man match, with Bryan eventually getting the roll up win.

After the match, Bray Wyatt appeared on the Titantron and gave a little speech to Bryan about how he overlooked Bryan at first, and thought he was just a puppet. But he then realized what a monster Bryan was, and if Bryan joined him, they could take the WWE machine to its knees.

Now, this story line? It intrigues the shit out of me. Bryan, who has been beaten down for months, getting help from the Wyatt family, should be an interesting concept to him. It will be very interesting to see where this storyline heads because if Bryan DOES join up with the Wyatt family, I can’t see how they keep him a face (which is sad, because he is the most over face in the company). Though on the flip side, maybe the Wyatt family could go against the Authority and turn face? But then that would ruin the creepy vibe they have going? I don’t know. Maybe they don’t do anything with the Authority and Bryan just has a short story line with the Wyatt family? When I don’t know what’s going to happen next, it usually makes me happy, so color me a fan of this story line.

– After this match Bryan ran into fat retired Kane in the hallways, which is neat of course, since they used to be tag partners not so long ago. Kane informed Daniel Bryan that since he seems to be friends with CM Punk, he should get a handicap match against the Wyatt family at the TLC PPV. Then Kane did a mock “Yes!” chant which is getting old, really fast (people mocking it I mean. If everyone does it, it just comes across bland). They had to set it up, and this allowed Kane to look useful, so it did its job.

– Oh christ, I can’t believe I have to write about the Tons of Funk tag team. Sigh. This was a match between R-Truth and Xavier Woods vs Tons of Funk.

Now the storyline for this one is that for god knows what reason, last week Clay said Xavier could use his entrance music and borrow the Funkadactyls, to which Xavier did. That alone makes zero fucking sense, but let’s put our heads down and try and get through this.

So on Smackdown last week, Clay finds Xavier and tells him that while he gave permission to borrow his music and dancers he didn’t mean he “could steal them!”.

I don’t know how Xavier stole them. Did he sleep with them? Did he dance better than Clay? OK he must have slept with them. Good god this story line is god awful. TO THEIR CREDIT, though, at least they tried more with this storyline then they have with, say, Los Matadores and 3MB. How many weeks in a row can we see them face off for no reason?

Anyways, in this match Xavier got the roll up on Clay, causing Clay to lose his shit and act very heelish. Clay at one point pushed Tensai (Alberts) and Alberts looked like he wanted to fight, but they settled their differences. It looked like a tease of splitting up Tons of Funk, but god knows how terrible their story lines would be as single wrestlers (“Clay is a stay at home Dad who struggles to make mashed potatoes! Alberts feels like he isn’t appreciated at work, so he turns to painting!”) so let’s hope it’s just the start of a heel turn for the tag team.

Oh, wait, they could make Clay a heel, as long as:

A) He loses the dinosaur gimmick (his god damn trunks have dinosaur spines on the back)

B) Keeps his boobs from popping out on TV. Much like Big E Langston, Clay is using the wrong cup size. At least tape them down, man.

– Alberto Del zzzzzzzzzzzzzz….. Rio against Sin Cara. All you need to know about this match is three things:

1) Sin Cara wrestled with his weird ring lights on

2) Sin Cara magically didn’t get injured

3) Sin Cara magically won.

I assume this is setting up some sort of feud for Del Rio to have now that he’s out of the title picture, and he is now going to pay back some of those wins he got as the World Champ. I also assume this feud will last until Sin Cara breaks a shoulder and is replaced by Rey Mysterio.

– In case you were wondering who the WWE picked to sell their merch this week in an embarrassing “please buy our shit so our stock doesn’t drop” fashion, it was Los Matadores and their god damn stupid El Torito bull mascot.

bull

Sigh.

– John Cena gave a promo backstage to the lovely Renee Young about how the title means everything to him. Shocking. Every time Cena goes into “serious mode” he always explains how the title means everything to him. I WANT TO KICK HIM IN THE FACE.

– The Rhodes and Big show vs The Shield was up next, and all I wanted out of this match was a spear. I am becoming a HUGE fan of Roman Reigns and I love his spear, it’s the best in the business right now, and I could watch him spear people all day long. So the entire match I am waiting and waiting and waiting and…..

WHAT THE FUCK. Where is my god damn pay off? I invested time in this show in the hopes of seeing the spear and the camera man misses it?? Come on man, you had ONE job! ONE! Boo! BOOOOOOO!

That missed spear aside, Goldust continues to be, well, fucking awesome, as he turns back the clock once again and pulls this move out of nowhere:

goldustObviously it helps having one of the best sellers in the company in Seth Rollins helping him out on the move, but it’s still nice to see Goldust pull out the Hurricanrana at the age of 44.

The Shield ended up winning the match after Show was taken out by the spear, which is just good booking. The Shield should always win.

– Renee Young was back (yay!) as she interview Punk this time, which led to this odd exchange

It made me laugh, I’ll give him that. He then went into serious mode and said the only question he has is when the Shield takes him down, how many is he taking down with him?

– Remember the Miz and Kofi feud nobody gives a shit about? Well it continues. Is Kofi a feel? Is Miz a heel? The rumor is the WWE writers forgot Miz had his made for TV Christmas movie coming out last week, so they wanted to keep him good (anytime a WWE wrestler has a movie coming out they tend to be a good guy at the time). That is the supposed reason for the flip flopping between Miz and Kofi, since they panicked and tried to make Miz not a bad guy until after the movie was out.

My question is who the fuck is going to be watching The Bounty (Miz’s TV movie), notice it’s Miz from WWE fame, realize he’s currently a bad guy, and go “you know what? Not for me. That guy is kind of a jerk, so I won’t be supporting him.

This is a big sign of what’s wrong with WWE, when they put shitty TV movie ratings ahead of a good wrestling product.

Anyways, Miz and Kofi lost to Ryback and Curtis Axel (otherwise known as the “We have fuck all else to do” team). Who is the heel this week?

miztakeIf you guessed Miz, you are correct! The best part of this was Kofi continuously going “come on man….come on….come on man…..come on man…..” while Miz was walking up the ramp.

– Fandango got squashed by Mark Henry. I was shocked Fandango didn’t run away from the match causing a DQ as is his usual MO. I happen to think they can do more with Fandago, so I am saddened he isn’t being used much, but c’est la vie.

Here is the best part of the match:

fand2

– Primetime Players vs The Real Americans. The back story between these two groups is apparently last week Titus O’Neil partook in a Thankgsiving eating contest, then went out and wrestled. He got stuck in the Cesaro Swing and afterwards threw up in JBL’s hat and then on Zeb Coulter.

So this week, of course, Cesaro got the swing on Titus, which prompted Zeb to scream at him to stop, because he didn’t want Titus puking again. Titus feigned throwing up several times before tagging in Darren Young, who got caught with one of the best moves in wrestling:

Two things I love:

1) Titus O’Neil barking. I don’t know why, but I wait for it every show.

2) That uppercut from Cesaro. I was so stoked he used it as a finisher. I hope he continues to use that as his main finisher.

Anyways, much like the random Brodus “YOU STOLE MY MUSIC” storyline, at least they tried to give these guys a reason to fight. Puking on someone is a good enough reason for now.

– The night ended with HHH showing up (you knew we wouldn’t get through a whole show without him) with Stephanie to do the official contract signing. Randy came out, then John Cena, both men were booed, leaving many to wonder why these guys are the main storyline right now. The best part about these two is all night they showed highlights of past feuds between the two men, just in case you forgot that we don’t need to see them fight again.

Orton did a good job on the mic, he came across as a heel who wants recognition as the best. John Cena actually did an ok job in one aspect. He accused Orton of being lazy and not using his talents to make himself the best of all time. He then referenced Orton’s bad attitude, which if you’ve read the rumor mills over the years, you’ll remember always reading about Orton being in hot water, which is a nice blend of reality in the promo.

The good from John Cena of course outweighed by the bad. If you’re a Cena fan, turn away now, and have a good night.

– IT’S NOT 19 FUCKING 80. Holy shit do I hate Cena’s character. If it was 1980 I bet he would have been right up there with Hulk Hogan. He has that muscled look the WWE loves, he can talk on the mic well enough, and he knows five moves. He would have been over HUGE. But in today’s world? With fans being more connected than ever and knowing more about the business than ever? He comes across like a boring, contrived, pile of garbage. The only reason he is pushed so heavily is because he sells in a PG way, which makes him the most marketable thing the WWE has going for them in regards to advertising. Alas the rest of us have to suffer as a result.

– Cena continues to try that stupid useless “Hi my name is John Cena, World Champion” shtick. You’re not The Rock. “IT DOESN’T MATTER” was a fun thing for the Rock, it is not a fun thing for you.

– Cena likes to do this thing where he bounces between SUPER SERIOUS mode and cracking jokes mode. He does them in the matter of seconds in promos, which makes it annoying as fuck because he doesn’t take his opponent seriously, but then he goes into super serious mode and acts like they should take him serious? It makes zero sense. John Cena has no idea how to sell his opponents moves nor does he have any idea how to elevate someone else on the mic.

– I know full well this is petty at this point but I hate Cena’s facial reactions in the ring. I feel like he went to acting school for annoying clowns, still managed to fail it, yet uses what he learned in class every time he is in the ring. Nobody is better at breaking the thin wall of imagination most grown ups use when watching wrestling than John. We all know it’s fake, but the best wrestlers make us forget it, if even for a few seconds. John makes sure you know nothing bad is happening, whether it be due to him not selling any injury or move ever, or if it’s him orgasming on someones back as he has the worlds loosest submission locked in with this STF. Sometimes he locks that in with his hands clasped on top of the guys head. I hate it.

Anyways, the show ended with the usual contract signing beat down, which if my WWE math is correct, with the TLC PPV being in two weeks, this means next week Orton gets to beat up Cena badly, which means it will be Cena’s turn to win, which is conveniently the PPV, which means Cena will either win the Unified title, or in some god awful scenario, he will win the Heavyweight title and Orton will win the World Championship, thus switching belts and putting the belt the WWE always pushes as the main one, back on John.

Seriously, they’ve done this matchup before, though. @BryanisWWE points it out with this handy dandy graphic:

wrasslin

Overall the show was WAY better than last week, and as random and petty as some of these tag team feuds seem based on right now, like I said, at least it’s better than nothing. The TLC PPV is one of the more promising PPV’s we have had in a while (not that the bar was set high on the last 4-5) as the Shield vs Punk and Wyatt vs Bryan has me very intrigued to see where they are going. Plus Seth Rollins + Punk + Ladders = awesome. Also I am hoping Roman Reigns spears someone off a ladder, through a table.

John Cena vs Orton will hopefully clear itself up so that I can rest easy knowing John won’t win the Rumble. I still hold out hope Bryan wins it.

Next week is the show in Seattle, the slammy award night, which I will be at live, so I won’t have a review up that night, but I will have one up the next night! Yay!

A shout out to the late great Owen Hart, the greatest Slammy winner ever, and the only WWE wrestlers to ever make those relevant in any way shape or form. Bret Hart had a great idea for the WWE to make the Slammys a real award show (Award for best bump, award for best Finisher) for the guys, which I agree, would be amazing, but will never happen. Still, a good idea.

Anyways, enough writing, see you next week!

Advanced Stats in Hockey

One of the more interesting stories in hockey over the last several years has been the rise of “advanced stats”. The names of the new stats are familiar to many now (Corsi, Fenwick, PDO, etc), and they have given rise to a new war amongst hockey circles, that of the so called “advanced stats” view of hockey versus those of the old school “eye tests” or school old stats like plus/minus and purely point based stats.

When both sides get together, sometimes a calculator is used to slap the other person, and a duel is demanded.

What do these duels look like?

twitterfight1

twitterfight2

twitterfight3

Yes, it can get ugly sometimes.

This fight is interesting to me because it touches on many aspects of why both sides constantly get into fights with each other. So with that being said, here are my random thoughts on the rise of the advanced stats and the problems facing them. Keep in mind I fully admit my opinion means nothing, so don’t take this too seriously, nor should you get offended by it. Though if you want to twitter fight I’ll meet you at the back of the school at 3 pm.

Also I will be calling the two sides Advanced Stats vs Old School, please please please don’t give me a speech about how they really aren’t “advanced stats”, etc etc. It’s just an easy way of differentiation for the two sides.

Thoughts on Advanced Stats

– Both sides need to relax a little bit. The old school crowd needs to stop with the “nerd” this and “nerd” that talk, and the “have you even played the game, bro” talk. Sometimes the old school people can be incredibly dismissive of the new stats the advanced stats crowd is trying to showcase. There are some interesting theories and opinions to be found in advanced stats, so to just dismiss them as just “nerd talk” is foolhardy.

It is not a good look to be on TV or on twitter and do the old “the advanced stats guys would have you believe” and then start sneering at the camera like you’re Clint Eastwood about to shoot a stat in the face.

It is not a good look to have ONE example go against something an advanced stat theory has put forth and use that as a shining beacon that the advanced stats crowd are a bunch of lunatics. Do not get in a stats war with advanced stats with a small sample size. You will only look like an idiot. They will carve you up with stats.

–  That being said, the advanced stats crowd needs to take that chip off its shoulder and god damn relax sometimes. Look, I get that advanced stats are trying to make inroads in a culture that is incredibly hard to break into sometimes (more on that later), and that they face a lot of that dismissive behavior from many hockey fans/pundits, but man, sometimes you guys just go way too hard sometimes. It just reminds me of that Dave Chapelle sketch of “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong”. I feel like sometimes stats guys “keep it real” at the drop of a hat and just go on an all out blitz in their efforts to prove that something a hockey pundit said was wrong.

I can’t count the amount of times I have seen stats guys nitpick and throw down with hockey pundits over things that seem extremely petty. Now to be fair, sometimes the advanced stats crowd can nail them out of the park and expose a line of thinking that is shallow and not very factual. Those are the good times, those are the times when advanced stats shine. But there are also times when I feel the stats crowd will write a 5000 word essay documenting how something someone in the media said was in fact off by .00003, and therefore, that person is a fucking idiot and should be kicked out of hockey and possibly beaten with a bat.

– One of the harder things to take from the Advanced Stats crowd is the fact you are basically telling people they are a bunch of idiots whose eyes cannot be trusted. So with that knowledge, advanced stats people would probably make a lot more headway if they approached things in a gentler manner. Instead of saying “fuck you, bend over and take my stats” why not take people out to a nice dinner of stats, explain to them what your thoughts are, then at the end of the night, make sweet sweet statistical love.

Wait….

Oh right, basically I think there are a lot of interesting viewpoints advanced stats can bring to the table. What I find annoying about the approach taken sometimes is the “well my viewpoint has god damn statistics behind it, yours just has your stupid puny eyes, so get the hell out of here” feel it has to it.

By all means explain your theory on why David Booth is better than I think. Please do not tell me why I am an idiot who has to realize how good Booth is. Take the nicer approach.

That is one of the biggest things I think a lot advanced stats guys ignore, the emotional aspect that comes with sports. People put a ton into their sports, so as a result, they can often lead with their emotions. So while I find it all good to boil away that emotion to try and find the underlying results that you think are more reflective of what actually happened in the game last night, I honestly feel the bedside manner of advanced stats can be improved by a fair margin.

One of the higher paying jobs in the IT industry is the guy who can talk to the techs and then talk to the project managers as the go between and let both sides understand each other. I honestly feel that kind of role is needed in hockey analysis, an advanced stats guys who can break down stats, make them approachable, and not alienate the general fan base. Daniel Wagner showcases this brilliantly in this piece:

http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2013/03/12/why-advanced-statistics-approaches-hockey-completely-wrong-but-still-gets-things-right/

He does a great job of talking about the new stats in an approachable manner, while still extolling the virtues of the new stats and putting forth a reasonable argument about their merit. Daniel also finds flaw in Corsi and Fenwick thoughts at times (http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2013/08/27/quality-quantity-and-why-hits-and-blocked-shots-still-matter/) which makes it seem like he has less of an “MY HAND PICKED ADVANCED STATS ARE EVERYTHING” agenda, and more of a “let’s see what we can learn with these new stats” agenda. I like this approach and feel it works best.

– To me, sports without emotions is boring as shit, so I enjoy both sides of it, the analysis as well as screaming at Torts for not putting Garrison on the ice on the power play. Just because I am screaming during the game at Torts doesn’t mean I can’t sit down and try and understand later if Torts was right or if I was right.  Let people express themselves in the heat of the moment, that’s one of the best parts of sports, damn it!

– Sometimes stats can’t tell the whole story, in my humblest of opinions, and I think it’s ok that I think that. By all means, present your argument explaining how you think you are in the right, but I still feel stats don’t take everything in hockey into account, so sometimes your conclusions won’t match up with mine, and that’s ok. We can both live with that.

– I know this is probably feels like I am coming down more on the advanced stats, but I only do so because, like Torts, I know how much more they can bring to the table. To the old school crowd that dismisses advanced stats and doesn’t even want to see what they have to offer, I feel there is no hope for them. If you willingly shut your mind down to a potential new way of understanding hockey, and you’re in the media, then you’re potentially limiting yourself and I have no idea why you would do that. I find drilling down into stats really boring, I honestly do, but I still read up on advanced stats and learn about them because at the end of the day, there is a lot to learn from them, and at the end of the day, even if I hated them, they are a part of hockey culture and I would be stupid to ignore them. And while drilling into stats is boring to me, sometimes you can find interesting theories or trends out of them, which is always a good thing.

Advanced stats has a lot of interesting things to offer, so I hate to see it get dismissed due to the approach taken. One of the best things advanced stats can do is stop narratives from taking off and becoming lore. Sometimes a story line about a player will occur over the smallest of sample sizes and before you know it, that player is labelled with it for the rest of their career. Advanced stats does a very good job of keeping people more honest and making sure they solidify their own argument before presenting things as fact.

Just, you know. Don’t keep it real all the time.

wutang

PS: To get rid of the elephant in the room, I am not going after Charron or Drance or Canucks Army or the best guy of all Dimitri Filipovic, at all. I enjoy their work and consider them friends, so I hope they don’t feel like I am gunning for them. The trends I speak of I have seen all over the place, I just used the Price vs Canucks Army as a good view into what can happen sometimes in these spirited exchanges.