The NBA is really the only pro sport where you could start the season at the semifinal round of the playoffs and nobody would really have much of an argument. Before the season it would have been logical to assume that we would be left with the Thunder, Spurs, Heat, and Pacers as a final four. All of it could have been skipped; the pointless MVP debate, Philadelphia’s inability to even tank correctly, and yes, even the “the Pacers are the biggest disappointment in NBA playoff history” talk. Because, guess what, the goddamn Pacers somehow are sitting eye to eye with Miami. That isn’t to say they aren’t about to have their doors blown off, but they’re conference finalists nonetheless.
On the other side, the timeless, boring juggernaut rolls on in San Antonio, dispensing the upstart Trail Blazers back into the sustainable compost heap from which they came. They are both easy to root for and horribly unintriguing simultaneously. They are essentially the antithesis of Oklahoma City. The Thunder have both the MVP, and more importantly, Russell Westbrook. Russell Westbrook shows up to the game dressed like a character from a dystopian novel, and plays like a living, breathing super-ball. He is maddeningly unpredictable but plays with such an abandon and tenacity that it is impossible to look away. The West final should be a classic, the ying to the East’s yang. With Ibaka out, though, gotta take the Spurs in 6.
So all that talk about Yasiel Puig tearing the Dodgers’ clubhouse apart by the seams appears to be a little misguided. He is in the top 5 of several offensive categories in the NL and his team is right in the thick of a very crowded NL West race. He is actually one of the few members of the supposedly loaded rosters who is owning up to his part of the deal. The same people decrying his youthful exuberance are mum on the regression of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Hanley Ramirez’ careers. For those of us who yearn for what Bo Jackson could have been, Yasiel Puig exists as a consolation prize. Baseball fans should be appreciative of the show, stop asking why Yasiel does the things he does, and start asking what it is that he can’t do.
You’re welcome Rangers fans. from here on out I will be rooting for Montreal because I feel awful for Canada. If the NFL had teams in Mexico and Canada that won the Super Bowl every year, American citizens would hold a Continental Conference and reassess our Constitution.
I’d like to take time to address to confront some of the hot takes that have been had this week re Michael Sam’s reality show, or documentary, or, it’s cancelled? Okay, but I’m still going to talk about it. Here are some popular takes.
1. He said that he was about football first! I’m sorry, is he not fully participating in all team activities? Has he been absent from his duties as an employee of the St. Louis Rams, leading a perceived tour-de-gay instead? Eric Decker is participating in a reality show. Hell, the NFL has even said it will force a team to be part of a reality show because nobody wanted to do it. Oh I forgot, but he’s a rookie! Rookies, no matter how unique, should not have undue attention on them because they have to EARN IT. Wait, the NFL has a reality show called “Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL”, that’s odd. It wouldn’t be a bad look for the Rams to portray themselves as a progressive institution, but DISTRACTION DISTRACTION DISTRACTION.
2. He doesn’t need to announce that he is gay if he wants to be treated like everyone else. I don’t go announcing that I only get with chicks! So let’s say that Michael Sam didn’t go and do a formal announcement. He just let it be and waited for the world to come across the fact that he was gay. Let’s even go as far to imagine that his sexual orientation remained a non-story until the day of the draft (it wouldn’t have). I am sure that America would have reacted really well to an unanticipated kiss on national TV. By making an announcement, Sam was able to handle the narrative on his terms. Regardless of whether he told everyone or not, the national media would have run with it, so it is well within his rights to be transparent and prevent strangers from spreading misinformation about him.
3. He isn’t a hero, *insert military meme here*. There is a knee jerk reaction to the word “hero”, and rightfully so. It is thrown around on a whim these days, specifically in the realm of sports. In general, athletes are not heroes in the purest sense of the word, especially when juxtaposed with veterans of combat. America’s male and female armed services personnel perform amazing acts of heroism in defense of their country and the brothers and sisters that they fight beside. They deserve the accolades and the titles that they receive, even if they might tell you that they didn’t do anything that their comrades wouldn’t gladly do for them. Michael Sam isn’t jumping on top of any grenades, or pulling a wounded body to safety, or delivering suppressing fire against far superior numbers. But, he is showing lots of terrified young people that it’s okay to be yourself at a huge professional risk. Lives ended by suicide may instead be lived fearlessly. Heroism is a spectrum, of the body, soul, and mind, and championing one element of it does not diminish the others.
What I’m Drinking: As it gets warmer you may be tempted to buy Corona because, shit, I’M AT A BEACH! Next time you’re engaging in a fiesta go for Negra Modelo instead. Think of it like a Mexican Yeungling.
The Best Thing I Read This Week: Who Watches the Watchers? The past 12 months have seen a reigning in of the NSA after the spy agency was exposed to be spying, of all things. This article is part of a POLITICO series examining the unchecked snooping of private industry and the lack of concern surrounding it.