Posts Tagged Rick Pitino

In Defense of Rob Dukes

415px-Rob_Dukes,_Exodus_3

I believe it was Henry Kissinger who once said, “There is no soup like the milk of human longing.”  Or was it Lacan.  I’m not sure.  Irregardless of redundant words that don’t actually exist or simply restate words that could be a heck of a lot shorter, Kissinger meant what he said.  If he did say it.  Which he didn’t.

I’m reminded of a time before radar.  A time where planes needed to fly below nothing to be hidden.  They simply didn’t exist.  A time where whales walked the earth and the band Earth performed in Wales.  Or neither.

You wanted him to be Souza.  You pretended as only the pretentious can.  But he was not and you cried.  Tears of horror.  You lifted your copy of Fabulous Disasters towards the sky and you shook it.  You demanded God reformulate Himself in your image for once so that He could understand the grave misfortune He had bestowed upon the world.  You swore allegiance if He only would bring back the mighty Zetro.

First, there was denial.  Then, anger.  Then, bargaining.  You listened to their cover of Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” and started telling random strangers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, anyone who would listen how it was an unappreciated classic.  You walked into a supermarket wearing an outfit made out of Australian Herring.  You began gargling diet soda and spitting it on children.  You bought a ’76 Dodge Dart and painted the lyrics from Manowar’s “Bridge of Death” all over the doors.  You joined People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals.  You sent poems and toenail clippings to all the living members of the Bar-Kays.

You began attending lectures at Emory University about the history of the sciatic nerve.  You moved to Norway.  You became a vegan.  You began accusing high-ranking government officials of being Freemasons.  You disavowed the use of salt.  You fell in love.  You became convinced that people were out to get you.

You stopped reading this article.  You began biting your cousin’s arm hair.  You went to your window, opened it and began shouting all the lyrics from the first five Venom albums.  You joined the Peace Corps.  You learned to play bass.  You became convinced that you had killed John F Kennedy in spite of the fact that you were born 12 years after the assassination took place.  You started being mistaken in public for Marilu Henner.  You tried a new type of shampoo.  You spent 37 dollars and 29 cents on a used copy of an Atrophy album only to find that it had decayed.  You ate all of the rolls.  I know you did.  I saw you.  Don’t lie.  You did.  And now you are not admitting it.  You are a dishonest person.

As Rick Pitino once said, “Paul Baloff isn’t walking through that door.”  Or was it Hegel.  I’m not sure.  I think we can all agree on one thing, violent video games are the cause of nearly all of our current problems.  That, and misogynistic, violent metal lyrics.  And cell phone towers.  And terrorism.  And disco goregrind.

But, if I know one thing, it is this, Rob Dukes is a talented man who has brought stability and a brutal new sound to Exodus.  Or maybe he didn’t.  I dunno.  But, if I know one thing, it is this, Rob Dukes is emblematic of how heavy metal fans have become ill-equipped to handle even the most minor of changes without turning into a bunch of fundamentalist whiners with the undying need to prove that they were “there” first, even if they don’t really care where “there” is.  Or maybe not.  I dunno.  All I know is this, if it weren’t for Exodus, the children of Israel would never have left slavery through the strength of Yahweh.   And that, at the end of the day, is all that is important.

 

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Herded Through The Grapevine

Colin Cowherd

There is an oft-quoted line popularized by Mark Twain that says, “There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics.”  Twain clearly hadn’t listened to much sports talk radio. If he had, he would have said, “there are lies, damned lies, statistics and then there are sports talk show hosts with statistics.”  The truth of this quote became apparent to me, as it often does, while listening to the Colin Cowherd radio show the other day.

In fairness to Cowherd (which could only be his real name in a truly cruel universe), he does a very entertaining show.  He is engaging and often makes me want to argue with him, which seems to be the point of most sports talk radio shows.  Louisville Coach Rick Pitino once referred to sports talk radio as “the fellowship of the miserable”, which would apply to much of what I’ve heard, but not to Cowherd’s show which is quite upbeat and enjoyable if you can ignore the nearly endless stream of commercials for hair growth products and lite beer.  That being said, Cowherd is the best I’ve heard at taking a statistic and making it mean a whole bunch of things that it doesn’t.  If it weren’t for sports radio I am convinced he would be making millions of dollars a year convincing people that 9 out of 10 dentists prefer Aquafresh.  The ability to take numeric information and blow its significance way out of proportion to the point of near absurdity is a skill that those who are successful  in the business have mastered.

Cowherd can make a number dance like few I’ve ever heard.  In support of some ludicrous theory that a recently lobotomized six year old couldn’t have been conned into, I once heard the man say “if you believe that I’m right 98 percent of the time, which I am, I must be right about this as well.”  Basically, what he’s saying is that if you have been duped into believing the rest of the nonsense that comes out of my mouth, don’t you think you should believe this too?  What strikes me about this quote is how the number really makes the argument seem plausible.  Last time I checked, there was no agency that gives scores to sports talk radio hosts based on the veracity of their ravings.  He clearly was making a hyperbolic point about his acumen as an “understander of all things sports related.”  I caught myself thinking, after the sixth or seventh time I heard him say this, “well…he is right 98 percent of the time.  Maybe this isn’t so far-fetched.”  Take a fake number, repeat it over and over to justify an absurd claim and watch the magic happen.

Where Cowherd is really at his best is when he has a real number to mess around with.  The other day I listened to him take one statistic and turn it into an hour of wild speculation, conjecture and rage.  Sports radio at it’s finest.  He started the madness by giving a statistic that was tangentially related to Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers who seems destined to one-day share a prison cell with Art Schlichter.  The stat showed that the Steelers record gradually improved during each month of the season when Roethlisberger was playing and not on suspension, awaiting arraignment or injured.  During the first month of the season, the Steelers won half of their games and lost half, by December the Steelers significantly better than average (or .500 as is the accepted term among sports junkies).  Cowherd had the audience call in and guess what this meant.  By the second caller, Cowherd had found the answer he was looking for.  It was obvious that this stat proved, beyond all doubt, that Roethlisberger did not prepare enough in the off-season.  He went on to back his point up by referring to the fact that he had gotten into several scrapes with the law while he was away from his team.  I marveled at the simple beauty of this argument.  Point A:  The Steelers have gotten better in terms of wins and losses as the season has gone on over the last few years  Point B:  Roethlisberger has gotten in trouble with the law during the off-season.  Therefore, Roethlisberger is unprepared when the season begins.

There are an almost limitless supply of problems with this argument.  Quarterback production is only one in a series of thousands of things that affect a football game.  Maybe they had other significant injuries.  Maybe they played a more challenging schedule in September.  Maybe they are better in cold weather.  Using one of the more ridiculous clichés in sports, maybe they are more of a “clutch” team.  Maybe they are affected adversely by the position of the moon as it relates to Saturn during a certain period of the season.  Maybe they are lucky.  Who knows?   If anyone believes quarterback play always correlates with victory or defeat I could point you to any number of examples, including Roethlisberger’s nightmarish Super Bowl XL victory performance to prove the opposite.

Another problem with the argument is that he doesn’t bother to explain what being “prepared” means.  Is he implying that he doesn’t work out enough in the off-season?  If so, I would argue that he would be more adversely affected at the end of a rigorous, punishing football season than at the beginning.  As a basketball coach, I don’t do conditioning work with my players so they will be fast in the first two minutes of our opener, I do it so that they will be physically able to handle the long, tiring effects of a season.  I’m quite sure a good number of coaches and players think this way as well.  Maybe he meant Roethlisberger is not mentally prepared.  Does that mean he doesn’t watch enough game film?  Does it mean he doesn’t meet with his receivers after practice?  Does it mean he doesn’t spend extra time in meetings with coaches? Or is Cowherd, as I suspect, simply throwing out a buzzword at an easy target to try to work his audience into a lather? He never defines it or uses anything beyond this one, lonely stat to prove his point so how can I assume anything but the final option.

The worst criticism I could ever throw at sports radio is that it should be immune to this sort of critique because it’s just a mindless time waster meant to get people riled up for no purpose other than selling people things they don’t need.   That might in fact be true, but many people who enjoy sports spend a lot of time with it.  There should be some expectation of something beyond “getting the audience worked up” even in the things that we accept as entertainment. As an audience member, I appreciate being treated as a thinking human being who is interested in seeing how statistics relate to reality and not as a rage-filled 35-51 year old male who will consume more products if made angry.

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