Archive for September, 2009

Athletes Are Bad People

ESPN ran two stories yesterday about Michael Crabtree and his contract situation. For those unfamiliar, Crabtree was selected tenth overall, by my own San Francisco 49ers, in last spring’s NFL Draft, but he has not, as of yet, signed with the team.

The dispute stems from the fact that the team feels that Crabtree should be paid like the second wide receiver taken in the draft (i.e. slightly less than what the first receiver selected, Darrius Heyward-Bey, got paid), which he was. Crabtree, however, feels like he should be paid like the best receiver taken in the draft, which he was.

Now, I don’t intend to dwell on this particular dispute, since Bill Simmons addressed it in his inaugural “Miller Lite Great Call of the Week,” and the only person criticizing Crabtree now is the less-than-respected Scoop Jackson.

But I think it’s interesting that someone like Crabtree can have his character and intelligence questioned for employing, essentially, his only bargaining tool. The fact that Crabtree is refusing to sign and play for the 49ers is being interpreted as a sign that his inner circle is nefarious and that he is not a “team player.”

This is a ridiculous double standard that athletes are held to. The contract rules that many athletes play under, particularly in the NFL, are incredibly unfair. Continue reading

FlashBack…to FlashForward

FlashForward

JOHN S: FlashForward premiered on ABC last night (with an encore for those who missed it tonight at 8), and Tim and John S watched–we weren’t lying when we said FlashForward was the #9 reason to be excited for the Fall TV Season. So Tim, what did you think?

TIM: First off, you said it was #9. I would have had it at like #3, behind the return of Survivor and Degrassi’s Nina Dobrev in The Vampire Diaries. Those are really the only two things that could excite me more than a show in which the presentation of a friendship bracelet is accompanied by pulse-poundingly dramatic music.

JOHN S: Yeah, there was a TON of pulse-pounding dramatic music in this show. It was like 80% of the episode.

TIM: Right, and that’s one of the things I kind of expected. It reminded me a lot of the premieres of 24 and, predictably, Lost, in its explosive and perhaps overly dramatic tone. At the same time, I think that’s what shows have to do these days to survive: You rarely build an audience when you’re building characters. One of the smarter things FlashForward did was to avoid breaking for a commercial for 15 minutes. By that point, we had already seen the en medias res opening, the flash back four hours, the blackout, and the realization that it was global. It lays most of its cards on the table in those 15 minutes (two big ones left to be played later in the episode) and tries to hook you in as quickly as possible (like 24 does with its four hours in two nights with limited commercial interruptions).

Was it too dramatic? Ehh, a show that’s so conceptually driven is almost required to get it all out there in its first episode. If FlashForward were to save some of its expository twists (something like the fact that the blackout was indeed global or that everyone not only blacked out, but also saw a vision of their future) for later episodes, it probably wouldn’t create the same kind of buzz leading in. It’s not like you’re going to draw in viewers with your “…AND THEY SEE THE FUTURE!” trailers and then save that information for later.

Am I making any sense? Continue reading

The Decline of The Office

the office

 

It’s always easier to analyze things in retrospect, and the demise of The Office, my one-time favorite show on television, is no different. In retrospect it’s easy to point to the third season premiere as the moment when things went south, but at the time I didn’t feel that way at all.

First, though, I should acknowledge that I’m in the minority. Most people probably object to the very premise of my account of the “the decline of The Office,” since the show has increased in popularity and prestige since I stopped watching. The Office is a perennial Emmy nominee and is still considered one of the best and smartest shows on television.

And there was a time when I would have been the show’s most vocal defender. During seasons one and two, I preached the virtues of the show to anyone who would listen. My friends and I (Tim and Josh included) counted down to episodes of the show and made references to it in daily conversations. We were particularly eager for the premiere of season three, “Gay Witch Hunt.” Continue reading

Extroversion Bias

What factors influence the people we gravitate towards in new situations? Are these factors the factors that ought to influence our social decisions?

If I’m in a social situation with several new people, I’m naturally going to gravitate towards that outwardly warm and bubbly one, the one who is more likely to talk and emote and carries the conversation. Most other people do this too. This isn’t surprising: When faced with a choice, people want to engage (consciously or subconsciously) in social situations that are low cost as opposed to high cost. An extroverted individual is easier to talk to; you don’t have to pry information out of them or worry about coming up with new strands of conversation. When meeting new people, there are a few factors to discriminate by and one of those factors is how extroverted an individual is. So, naturally, when introduced to new people, people will gravitate towards extroverts due to the lower cost of conversing with them.*
Continue reading

Paul Shirley Doesn’t Like The Beatles

Et tu, Paul?

Listen Mr. Shirley, we like you here at NPI. We like sports. We like books. We like people who write good books about playing sports. You even tweeted at Tim. But if forced to choose between you and the Beatles, well, we’re gonna have to go with the Beatles.

Now, I have no problem with unconventional stances; in fact, I like them a lot. And I have no qualms with someone’s personal tastes. It’s also true that people who don’t like the Beatles are unfairly maligned (you guys should form a support group with people who don’t think The Godfather is that great and people who think Shakespeare is overrated).

 

Some of what you say is certainly true: “[T]he mythology that surrounds the Beatles has overwhelmed rational humans’ ability to judge the band by its music.” There is no denying that when you are brought up and essentially conditioned to think something is good, that is going to affect your judgment of that thing, whether your judgment is positive or negative. Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 2: The Defining Moment

“But of course you must remember, fans, the turning points in our history are not always so grand as they are cracked up to be in the murals on your post office wall.”

—The Great American Novel

I’m struck by some parallel notions after two weeks of the NFL season. The first combines the fact that Eli Manning again showed why he might be the best “last 4:00 of a game” quarterback in the league* on Sunday night in a huge game against the Cowboys with the fact that the Giants play the Buccaneers this upcoming Sunday. You see, it was in Tampa two seasons ago that Manning led the Giants to his first playoff win—a victory that at the time was unremarkable and seemingly insignificant (in a big picture sense). But it was the turning point, for Manning went on of course for three more playoff wins in 2007 and has been one of the league’s 10 best quarterbacks since.

*And I’m serious on this. Outside of his brother, I don’t know if anyone is really close. Brady failed on Sunday in the final minutes, and his greatest late comeback drives involved 1) The Tuck Rule; and 2) His team recovering a fumble after he threw an interception on 4th down (in San Diego in 2006). Brees has never done it in a big spot, McNabb is terrible in the 2:00 drill, Warner always scores too quickly (THREE times in the Super Bowl he’s scored too quickly), Rivers hasn’t done it, Roethlisberger has the Super Bowl drive but little else.

Continue reading

Joie de Vivre: Praising the Bretzel

110707_Sergio

Yes, you read that correctly. If you thought I was actually writing about “Braising the Pretzel”* and became enthused, then I sincerely apologize for causing false excitement.

*Nonetheless, an article on such a topic does not make much sense so I would question your logic if you did indeed become enthused. I would still maintain an overall apologetic tone though.

Continue reading

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