Thursday, June 30, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Best: Press X for Beer Bottle by Tom Bissell
I could relate to being a teacher who doesn't have enough time to play video games anymore, and I'm about halfway through the game in question (LA Noire) right now. As an RPG fan, I've always been more interested in a game's storyline than it's actual gameplay. That's not to say a game doesn't have to be fun to play in between the cut scenes, just that if I don't care what's going on in the story, I'm probably not going to care. The story doesn't have to be super-intricate and detailed, though. One of the best games I've played this year is Donkey Kong Country Returns, which isn't exactly A Tale of Two Cities (Some punk-ass masks stole his bananas. He wants them back.) But if a game has an interesting story I care about, I'm more inclined to stick with it.
I'm right in the middle of the game right, now, where Bissell suggest the plot slows down, and every single suspect is lying to you about every single question (seriously, I don't remember the last time "truth" was the correct answer.) I have faith LA Noire will tie it all together at the end.
I can't believe he didn't mention the best-laid story in a video game in recent memory during this column: Portal 2. Portal 2 didn't have a draggy middle section, it stays interesting from start to finish, and keeps the momentum and urgency going the whole time. If every other game could plot stories half as well as Portal 2, and be 1/3 as funny, there'd be a lot more worthwhile video games on the market.
Worst: Wrigley Is Wrigley, and Nothing Else Is.
I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate fans like this. This is why Cubs fans have such a terrible reputation for being terrible bandwagon fans who are more concerned with getting drunk than watching a good team. Because you write stupid drivel like this. You are the type of fan I have to hear talk about Lincoln Park bars while Marmol gives me a heart attack by walking people in the 9th.
I listened to the game he went to for this article on the radio, and remember being pissed right along with Pat Hughes (who of course classily registered his disgust by announcing each Pirate run in his disapproving-father tone.) Yes, Eggers, there are plenty of Cubs fans who actually care about the outcome of games, but we were all pushed out right around 2003 by ticket brokers and yuppies. Right around the same time you stopped being able to actually live in the buildings across the street from Wrigley. And we were pushed out because of crap like this, how Wrigley is a temple, a place that's about more than baseball.
I'm going to say something sacrilegious for a Cubs fan here. I'm not going to be as upset as most on the day (which will happen in my lifetime) where the Cubs put up a new, bigger stadium in the suburbs somewhere and stop playing home games at Wrigley. I don't think they'll tear the thing down, more than likely it'll become some sort of landmark/museum. But there's money to be made, and if it brings the Cubs closer to winning a world series, then I'm all for it.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I come down somewhere in the middle of the Simmons scale. I don't think he's the Tawmy-From-Quinzee, worst-thing that's happened to sports coverage egomaniac Deadspin likes to make him out to be. On the flip side, it bugs me when he goes into "NO ONE DENIES THIS" mode (he does it a few times in his first non-introductory column today,) and shoehorns Teen Wolf and Real World references in for no reason (this happens today, too.) He got where he is now, though, due to the foresight to see what the internet was capable of back when sports was still covered by cigar-smoking old white men in fedoras with a "press" sticker sticking out of them. You're not going to find the next Simmons on the internet, you'll find him at the beginning of whenever the next medium for receiving sports news is invented. There are probably a few steps between the internet age and the "beaming stories directly into our heads" age, but someone somewhere will figure out what that is and take advantage of it.
I'm thankful Simmons figured it out first, though, since while I mostly like Simmons the Writer, he paved the way for Simmons the Producer, who I love. 30 for 30 was one of the best ideas anyone in sports has had in awhile. There were certainly a few clunkers mixed in there, but that's a small price to pay to protect the thing that made 30 for 30 work: Creative freedom. The fact that filmmakers were allowed to come up with projects that were personal to them made them that much more interesting, and you could tell the filmmakers were enjoying what they were making.
It seems like the same idea is going to be at work at Grantland, which is awesome. On launch day, I have so far read Chuck Klosterman's interesting story of a 23-year old JuCo basketball game, Chris Jones' story about returning to cover baseball, and Andy Greenwald's completely non-sports-related story* about how HBO recycles actors. I hadn't heard of Chris Jones before this, but loved the article, and am excited that I'll have one place to go to read about sports and good TV (and ignore articles about reality TV). Good job, Sports Guy.
*I want to respond to Greenwald's point about Aiden Gillen and Game of Thrones, so this paragraph might not be interesting if you haven't seen the show or read the books (you should, they're both excellent.) Greenwald ends the article with the point that we should embrace seeing familiar faces repeating in shows, but if I have one gripe with Game of Thrones the show, it's that Littlefinger (Gillen) has stolen two scenes that don't belong to him in the book. One kind of makes sense, as it's a story about him and his duel for Cat (this happens in Cat's memory in the book), inexplicably set in front of a fairly-hardcore and unnecessary lesbian sex scene. The other, more egregious one is having him tell Sandor's backstory with his brother to Sansa at the tournament. They haven't established Sandor as a character at all in the show, which is a shame because I feel like he becomes one of the most interesting characters in the ensuing books. And the biggest scene with Sandor is him telling the story of his scars to Sansa after the tournament. The scene shows Sandor's contempt for feudalism nicely, and foreshadows Sandor and Sansa's future character interactions nicely. I can't think of a good reason to take that scene away from Sandor and give it to Littlefinger besides that Gillen didn't have enough to do.
Still, watch Game of Thrones. Better yet, read the books.
Monday, June 6, 2011
"The problem wasn't Pujols, the problem was [Theriot's] at-bat. We should have known better than this. We are playing like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team and the owners. Embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassing, that's the word for this team."
"We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a good fastball hitter, we should know that as a team. We should play better here. We stink. That's all I've got to say." -Big Z
Let's start by getting this out of the way: he's not wrong about any of this. They should be embarrassed, the way they're playing right now. But there are way more problems than Marmol having a bad week. Here are some basic numbers for you:
The Cubs are 9th in the NL in OPS but 4th to last in Home Runs, with 40. They're ahead of the Mets and Astros, who both suck, and the Padres, who play in the most spacious pitchers park in the game.
The Cubs are dead last in the league (and all of baseball) in ERA at 4.75. And before Big Z starts pointing fingers at the bullpen, he should know the Cubs are also last in quality starts, with 20 out of a possible 57 (that's really bad, non-baseball-fans)
Also, while it's not a great stat to use as a pure metric, the Cubs are tied for last in fielding percentage as well (.978)
So we have enough blame to go around before I even get to Mike Quade (and I'll get to Mike Quade in a minute). But let me get back to Zambrano. You say "We should know Theriot is not a good fastball hitter." Maybe, but you should also know that your closer is not a good fastball pitcher. But when he has his slider working, it's one of the best in the game. It hasn't been working in two games in the past week, and he's blown two saves. In between that he appeared in two games and struck out 5 of the 9 batters he faced. His ERA before this week was 1.17, and he hadn't allowed an earned run since April 20th before last Tuesday. Marmol is not the problem.
The problems start with Mike Quade. I'm sick and tired of Zambrano being allowed to run around being an asshole without anyone putting him in his place. I know Michael Barrett tried, but he was traded a few weeks later. A real team with a real manager would have put a stop to this by now. I don't even want him traded necessarily (which I know is impossible due to his no-trade clause), I just want someone to put their foot up his ass every time he opens up his mouth to say something stupid. That's the manager's job, and he's not doing it.
And while we're at it, what the hell was Tyler Colvin doing practically playing center field on that hit? Did they really think there was no chance Theriot could turn on a Marmol slider? And why is Soriano, our only power source before he got hurt, consistently batting 6th or lower in the batting order and being protected by Koyie Fucking Hill? And why, as I'm typing this, is Carlos Pena getting picked off of first on a single because he rounded first but the runners in front of him both held? WHY ARE THERE SO MANY FUCKING PROBLEMS WITH THE CUBS RIGHT NOW?!?!?!?
Sorry, lost it there for a second. To answer your unasked question, Big Z, the Cubs are playing like a triple-A team because they're managed like a triple-A team. It's like there's a different agenda with the lineups and bullpen decisions, but there's not, and you're somehow 6th in baseball in payroll but getting swept by teams like the Astros. It's pretty ridiculous. I'm about to live in a world where the Packers, Heat, and Canucks are all champions in their respective sports at the same time. At least give me something to root for, here.