I'm not sure what to think of the Pack this week. They lost horribly in horrible conditions at Chicago last Sunday. This week they swamp the Lions in Green Bay in typical winter weather so I'm not sure what that is a sign of. Or if it's a sign of anything. Even in the Packers best Super Bowl-reaching years they never had the best record in the league (13-3 both years I believe) and they always had one or two "what-the-fuck" games they would lose to the seemingly most unlikely opponent.
Do the Bears just have the formula to beating this year's team that playoff opponents could easily blueprint and apply to bring about the Pack's demise? We all know the supposed glaring weaknesses of this team: no running game, very average offensive line play, etc. But the whole league has known this since the first couple of weeks. Hasn't every team we played been trying to attack those same weaknesses? Somehow though, our record indicates, we were able to overcome those weaknesses just enuff to win the game more often than not.
So maybe that loss to the Bears was not a foreshadowing of a nightmare playoff loss to come, but just a bad performance mostly due to the weather conditions (we hope, fingers crossed).
University of Wisconsin men's basketball. A+
this week for the huge win over 4th ranked Texas in Austin. Hmm that's two lowly Big Ten teams that a high powered Texas team with a player of the year candidate has lost to within the past week. Could it be that the Big Ten is a tougher conference in basketball than the mainstream media would believe? Probably not according to the latest RPI, and we probably should win a game in the BigTen/ACC challenge before trying to jump bad. But still a very good win (on the road and without leading scorer Trevon Hughes) for a Wisconsin team that will need wins like this to impress the selection committee come seeding time. Also good to observe that Marcus Landry is coming along well with his goal to become Wisconsin's next Alondo Tucker ( read extremely clutch player).
Marquette University men's basketball. B+
Continuing to cruise, ranked 13th in the country (that should go higher because Texas lost to Wisconsin whom Marquette beat), standing at second place in the Big East. Now comes their first test against an in conference foe when they play Providence Thursday. This for me will be the point in the season when I start to look for clues on what kind of team this really is and what kind of shot do they really have at making a deep tourney run.
As I've said before I don't expect much from the Bucks this year but damn, be professional. Show effort on the court. That should be their New Years resolution as a team "show effort". They just got blown off the court Monday in Detroit by over 40 points, with Andrew Bogut admitting to the local media that the Bucks were probably just looking forward to traveling to Miami that night (where they play the Heat Wednesday) and were really not focused on playing the Pistons. this third worst loss in franchise history is highlighting the fact that this might just be the least talented roster in the leauge. We depend on guys like Charlie Bell and Royal Ivey to be consistent performers! Our best player, Redd, has turned himself into a perennial all-star but he's more of the "always the best player on a mediocre team" type (think Mitch Richmond) than the "rock-solid-franchise-player-you-would-never-even-think-of-trading" type. Doesn't look like things will turn around anytime soon either (and by "soon" I mean the next 5 to 6 years) with a front office that seems to want to avoid taking risks by not making any aggressive moves (besides taking Yi and refusing to trade him) and an owner (who is only several years removed from trying to sell the team) who might be gun shy after going deep in his pockets with the team that went to the Eastern conference finals 6 years ago (George Karl, SamIAm, Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, etc.).
For their work so far this offseason. So far other than Mitchell Report alum Eric Gagne and a few other minor pickups they have not done much, and this Journal-Sentinel article suggests there may not be much done this year in free agency. Reasoning from Melvin seems sound on this: the Brewers don't have that many glaring gaps that they need to fill, a major trade might bring improved talent but would blow a hole in the team unnecassarily, a lot of teams making major moves this winter are doing so to get to where the Crew is, etc. I think he just basically means they need to learn how to hang onto season-long division leads in the last month.
University of Wisconsin football. B+
On the season as a whole. They finish 9-4 after a uninspired loss to Tennessee of all programs (I went to college and lived in Tennessee for 10 years and had to listen to those bamas every second of it). P.J. Hill might have had 132 yards on 16 carries but Wisconsin's running game never seemed to really get on track. Tyler Donovan was pounded all afternoon behind a usually very sound offensive line. Our best receiver, Travis Beckum, was basically a non-factor. Plus Tennessee's defense played up to its reputation.
So 9-4 and a bowl game is pretty good I guess. So far so good in the Brett Bielema era. But when (if ever) will the program take that next step to perennial national title contention?
Lastly but not least this week a shot out to the Tennessee State University men's basketball team!!! who beat Illinois in their last non-conference game. Nice win for my alma mater after a couple of good efforts in close loses to Vandy and Indiana. No the Illini aren't that hard to beat this year but it is still an accomplishment for the Tigers program. Hopefully they can take lessons learned from their tough early season schedule and have a good showing in OVC conference play.
Pack is looking good right now after trouncing the hapless Raiders and Rams, but that loss to the Cowboys is still sticking in my craw. Especially after they just lost to the Eagles who we beat earlier in Week 1. I just would like to know though how a team that we kicked the crap out of twice already this year and is only two games over .500 get double the number of players elected to the Pro Bowl that the division leader does. But it could be worse I guess if your are the NFC South division leading Bucs or the 10-4 Jags who got 0 players on the roster. It's a particular travesty that Fred Taylor did not make it, one of the most underrated running backs of this era and maybe all time.
Really I should probably be giving the Pack A+s all season becuz who expected 12-2. But I've let all the media hype get me caught up in looking at the Pack as an elite team again. And elite teams don't have successful seasons unless they are going deep into the playoffs. That being said they have a good chance to do just that, even if the NFC Championship is played in Dallas. I just don't want to play the Vikings again in the playoffs. Beating a team three times in one season is not impossible, but not easy either.
Update: What the fuck was that!!? Can we just not beat the fucking Bears anymore!!?? Announcers making excuses for Brett saying he looks cold, he plays for the Packers!! I'm really disappointed in Brett he usually plays pretty good in sloppy weather. Way to jack off home field advantage guys. But if you're going to make a run with a team like this, might as well do it the hard way and earn it.
Bucks are assuming the position figuratively and literally, settling down into the Eastern Conference 8-spot after leading the Central a couple of weeks ago. I think one of the problems is they don't really have that defined identity as a team yet. It's like they are emotinally torn between becoming more of a defensive team like Krysto wants or being the team that will just try to outscore you and not even pretend to defend. According to Brew Hoop Coach K might be looking to shake things up to give some people a kick in the ass starting with Moe Williams. But again this is kind of what I expected from Milwaukee this season so I'm not really sweating it. This season really will probably only be useful to develop Yi into a consistent performer since we've found out he doesn't totally suck as I feared.
UWM basketball. C+
Yes at 4-7 and at the bottom of the Horizon Leauge it looks like the Panthers 15 minutes of fame in the national spotlight left town with Bruce Pearl two years ago. They're really just not getting the same talent that Pearl was able to attract. But I'm not bailing on the current coach Rob Jeter just yet. He has a solid foundation of knowledge after playing for and coaching under Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and he's being consistent in showing what kind of players he wants on his team. This is the kind of guy where your gut feeling tells you it's only a matter of time before he has the program back on the rise again. And that he's not the kind of coach who would bail for a higher profile job after the first breakthrough season.
So typical of the Brewers luck that their first big name free agent signing in a while (since Richie Sexson??) is immediately involved in the latest/biggest scandal of the steriod paranoia era. In Gagne's case though I think there might be some legitimacy to the argument that a lot of the players named in the Mitchell Report took steroids to aid in recovery from injury, not saying that makes it ok just a little more understandable as to why a professional athlete might take that risk. If he can stay healthy and avoid any kind of reprecussions for his name appearing on that report Gagne could be a good pick up for the Crew. For the first time in a long time they are being pretty active in the free agent market this year, even rumored to be thinking of signing Kenny Lofton. Wow, just like an actual MLB franchise (sniff).
UW Basketball. B+
Badgers holding steady like they are supposed to do before hitting the Big Ten schedule, just got finished beating up on in-state rivals UWM and UW-GreenBay. As long as they can stay healthy I think they have a good chance in the top three at the end of the season. Minnesota worries me though. They have decent talent and just got a big upgrade at coach with Tubby Smith.
Marquette Men's Basketball. A-
I can't really fault Marquette this week. They're ranked 13th, have been blowing out the teams they are supposed to, and Dominic James is looking real smart for having decided to take another year in college to polish his game. Most nights he is leaving no doubt that he is the best player on the floor.
UW-Whitewater Football. A+
Warhawks are NCAA Division III champions after defeating perennial power Mount Union in the title game. Whitewater is kind of a Div. III powerhouse themselves having been in the title game in 2005 & 2006 also. The DIII state schools in Wisconsin all generally have pretty good football programs and are part of a in-state conference that is very competitive. Known locally for being a bigger party school than the one in Madison (but on the low) I myself have some fond memories of Whitewater from when my older brother attended school there. Congrats all current students and alumni on some well earned national exposure.
On July 30, 1866 a group of African American soldiers who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War congregated at the Mechanics Institue in New Orleans, Louisiana to try and get some information about benefits they had been promised to by the United States government from Union Army officials who had set up temporary offices inside.
A group of former Confederate soldiers, already stirred up and irate because of Republican party efforts to abolish the Black Codes laws in the south (particularly Louisiana), learned of the gathering and attacked the African American soldiers outside of the institute. Not satisfied with that the mob kicked in the door of the Institute and attacked the Union officials who were inside.
Most official accounts of the incident lists casualties of around 30-40 African-Americans killed along with 7-10 Union soldiers but there are many other accounts of that afternoon, detailing among other things the savagery of the attack and how bodies were carted away from the scene of the massacre before they were identified, which indicate the actual number of casualties was much higher.
Race. A man made concept that has no basis in scientific fact, but nonetheless is a topic that has been debated, warred over, romanticized, etc. about by humans since the beginnings of written history. It's the topic that in America everyone thinks about but no one wants to seriously address.
The historical account I cited at the beginning of this post was an event that I had previously never heard of. It took place during the Reconstruction period of U.S. history when there was much racial tension throughout the whole country especially in the South between recently freed slaves and defeated Confederates. This was just one of many incidents, some of which have never been reported.
Someone not of African descent who happens to read this post might feel like this is just another typical 'black-revolutionary-whitey-keeping-me-down-fuck-the-man-and-Mr.-Charlie' blogger who is too busy trying to blame my (and other black peoples') own personal laziness on society and white people to see the role we have played in our own demise as a people. They may say what does what some fucked up white person who was not related to them did over 100 years ago have to do with them? They know they don't have feelings like that because they treat all human beings the same regardless of race. They don't even see race and if someone else sees it or brings it up then it is they who are racist not themselves.
See the problem with that stance is that the stuff that happened over 100 years ago still happens today. Oh no I'm not necessarily refering to the lynchings, random unprovoked murders, Jim Crow laws, and strict segregation enforced with hostility (even though some of those things do still happen today). I'm more talking about the mindset that fueled those actions. And if you think there are no white people around today with the same mindset that most white Southerners had back then, are you serious?
If you need an example look no further than the numerous racist comments proliferated throughout the internet in the wake of Michael Vick's indictment. Even I, who am by no means naive to the current state of race relations in this society, was amazed at the volume and tone of some of these comments. A lot of those posts were charachterized by undisguised joy about the downfall of a rich, black athelete and generalized derogatory comments about the nature of black males.
So I guess this post is meant to be kind of an answer to the non-African-American reader who thinks that it is mostly African-Americans keeping the issues of race alive and wonders with righteous indignation why it is so quick to be mentioned whenever there is some contraversial issue that hits the headlines. It is brought up because it exists.
So with these thoughts in mind I begin my weekly wanking.
The Packers were an average team this past week. They had their chance to put a defining win on this season in Dallas and once again made all the worst mistakes at the most inopportune times. They picked their biggest game of the season to play their worst game this season (yes even worse than the turnover filled home loss to the Bears, our only previous defeat). The only reason I'm even giving them a C+ is because they were never out of the game, even after Brett went down and Aaron Rodgers managed to prove that he wasn't a total waste of a first round pick. Plus they did get jobbed on some of those calls. I'll be interested to see if they can refocus against a better-than-you-think Raiders team.
Update: It did look kind of close in the beginning, but then the Pack turned on the jets and put up 38 in a rout. Guess they got refocused. Doesn't change my grade though.
Wisconsin football. Incomplete
Big 10 season is over. But the Badgers have an opportunity to end the season on a good note and once again provide some nationally televised proof that the conference is better than people think by handling a Tennessee team that I'm guessing most sports heads are picking to roll against a typically 'stodgy, slow, unathletic' Big 10 team on New Year's Day. Don't think so? Yeah that's what people said last year before we played Arkansas. We beat them so bad their star quarterback transfered and their fan base turned into a lynch mob.
Milwaukee Bucks. C-
After being pleasantly surprised by the Bucks division leading start and good wins against some quality teams I'm seeing them now settle down into the kind of pattern of play I expected when the season began. At least Yi is turning out to be not horrible as I noted last week. I'm optomistic that the Bucks can make the playoffs this season (the East is still looking like the weaker conference to me despite the resurgent Celtics and suddenly dominant Magic) but my mind is telling me that at least next years draft should be so stacked with quality players that not even Larry Harris could fuck it up.
Wisconsin men's basketball. C+
Badgers are a solid team at 6-2 but have lost to both of the ranked teams they have played so far, Duke and Marquette. No shame in those losses early in the season I guess but Wisconsin is going to have to win some of those games down the road if they hope to be selected (because they will not win a Big Ten regular season title, maybe the automatic tournament bid but you can't depend on that). I'm not really mad they lost to Marquette though. It was an in-state battle that someone had to lose. But the game was good enough that Wisconsin will get credit for effort in a 'good loss'. A interesting subplot of this game was the personal rematch between Marquette guard Wes Matthews (whose father starred for Wisconsin basketball in the '70's) and Wisconsin forward Marcus Landry who also faced off against each other their senior years in the Wisconsin state high school basketball championship game. Matthews won that one too so that's gotta be eating at Landry a little.
Marquette men's basketball. B+
I'm going just a little light on Marquette because they are ranked in the top 20 and have a 1-1 record so far against ranked teams, also losing to Duke. They are right about where they should be heading into the Big East regular season schedule if they're going to make some noise. I guess an A+ would be if they had beat Duke. I hate Duke.
Another observation: is Jerry Jones the most powerful man in the NFL or what? I think Roger Goodell answers to him behind closed doors. I mean he comes out to the sideline and all of the sudden the refs are doing things like blatanly mis-spotting the ball by a full yard or more on important downs and calling phantom pass interference penalties after "consulting" for a couple of minutes after the play is over.
What hurts me most is the thought that if it was a conspiracy, how could the leauge choose Dallas over the Packers? We are the flagship team of this leauge, the only publicly owned franchise in professional sports. We have America's Sweetheart, Brett Favre (Romo quickly closing the gap). We have the most NFL championships in history. If you want to tip the field do it for us! Fuck that larger market shit.
But on the alright side we are still 10-2, and who knows Dallas could still lose 2 more games this season and the Pack run the table the rest of the way.
Many casual sport fans may only be familiar with Taylor from his publicized brushes with the law, synonomous with names like Vick and Pac Man. But in my opinion this was a 24 year-old guy who had made a few mistakes in his life but was on the verge of making a big change by switching up his priorities. My prayers go out to his family in this time of need.
Wooohoo!!! It's good to be a Packer's fan right now. Since the Pack won in KC they have put the mash on Minny, Carolina, and the Lions on Thanksgiving and are now poised to avenge some of the buttkickings Dallas used to give us when a young Favre had the Packers almost at that Super Bowl level but not quite yet, perenially getting bounced when when had to go to Texas in the playoffs. Alas by the time the Pack had acheived full force in '96, Dallas was in full decline so we never got a chance to meet in the playoffs again . . .until now. Despite the ominous New England shadow that seems to tower over any puny representative the NFC elects to the title game, this game might be worth watching by more than fans of the two teams. The Pats might be invicible, but I don't think anyone told the Packers that yet and the winner of this game is going to feel pretty good about their chances against anybody, anywhere, anyday.
And the Pack could actually be developing a dependable running game at just the right time. In Ryan Grant's five starts he has broken the century mark 3 times. Salvation from a Notre Dame running back??!!! I'll take it.
Wisconsin basketball/football: B+
Wisconsin's basketball team entered this season unheralded and unranked but have looked optomistically good early in the season while getting to 5-0. Starting point Travon Hughes is a talented athlete who reminds me of Devin Harris his freshman year. Brian Butch looks like he might finally be able to produce on the potential that got him in the McDonald's All-American game. Nothing spectacular so far but he's been very steady which is saying a lot given how his college career has gone. Marcus Landry could be the next Alondo Tucker, the bench/supporting players are still solid, and our coach has not gotten any dumber. I predict we sneak up on the rest of the nation once again this year.
I would give Wisconsin football a B- this season. They started the season ranked very high in a great position to make a serious title run but once again could not maintain focus for all 12 games. That's starting to get kind of old. Wisconsin didn't really have football tradition to speak of until Barry Alvarez (although we did have a Heisman trophy winner) but this is the home state of the Packers so Wisconsin fans have quickly developed a sense of entitlement and will soon be demanding the same success from their teams as fans of programs like Michigan, Notre Dame, and Alabama do. 9-3 is good. Playing on New Year's Day is good. But eventually fans are gonna expect this team to take that next step.
Giving the Bucks highest grade this week because they are currently atop their division, are undefeated at home, and can count the Lakers and Mavs among others as early season victims. All this after I fully expected them to just be looking for their 2nd or 3rd win of the season by now. I mean I really expect no success from the Bucks this season except be in a good spot to land Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose in the draft (O.J. Mayo will be a bust in the league, you heard it here first. He's the next Starbury). But the season has pretty much gotten going and they are still holding their own, I'm impressed. Maybe Larry Harris is not the most incompetent GM in professional sports after all.
Marquette basketball: B+ for their performance against the hated Duke Blue Fairies in the championship game of the Maui Classic. Marquette really should have won this one. Dominic James' off shooting night didn't help. Oh well it's still early in the season and this is one of those games commentators will give the Golden Eagles credit for saying they played Duke tough. (Unfortunately I think this Blue Devil team will be very good this year, get ready to hate Kyle Singler). And now comes the part of the schedule when they play the instate rivals: Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee. Two conceivable losses. Of all Wisconsin sports teams I feel the least loyalty to Marquette because they only compete on a big time level in basketball and the school itself is generally viewed in the community as being kind of snooty, but when everybody plays each other I always root for the school that has the best chance at a good year. Wisconsin has potential but is not ranked, Marquette is. So I'm going for MU on Friday so they can stay ranked.
The post on the site's blog that Deadspin links to is an interesting read also that gives a little detail on the imminent fate of one of Harlem's most significant cultural and historical landmarks, the Renaissance Ballroom. Please do yourself a favor and check it out.
So since I don't always have time to endlessly surf the net for the latest news or tidbit to comment on in my blog I frequently like to post mass commentary Daily Quickie style, but I don't like to bite my man D. Shanoff so I wanted to come up with my own concept. And this is it, the Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wonk (yes I admit I got the idea for the 'Wonk' part from John Gasaways wonderful-but-now-defunct 'Big Ten Wonk' blog. I like the word, sorry) where I can post my rants on the Packers, Brewers, Bucks, Badgers, and Marquette and not feel like I'm just a wannabe Deadspin dick rider. Also because it will only be weekly I won't feel pressured to post something everyday. Let's get to it:
Side note: I've decided to add weekly grades for each of my teams, maybe that will generate some hits.
Packers. Packers get a B+ from me this week. They showed good heart in 'grinding out' a victory in KC. But they still need to do something, anything to make the running game better. This PackerNews.com article suggests there may be a shake up soon. I really don't think the Pack's running game will improve significantly until they upgrade the position. A team can only be successful with a platoon running back approach if their offensive line play is consistent and above average. For the Pack that would be no and no.
Bucks. Bucks get a C+ this week. They have looked extremely average and inconsistent this week. They beat the Raptors pretty good, but then got smoked by the Rocket tonight. Can't get a feel yet for the type of team they will be this year. Whatever the type it seems like it will be the type that still does not play defense.
Badgers. Badgers have an incomplete right now, though they are currently leading Michigan at halftime at Camp Randall. The game last week with Ohio State was closer than the score indicated with us having our chances to win it, but we never should have lost to Illinois or Penn State. (I chalk that up to a young team's inexperience with tough road games). So maybe I can give them a cumulative seasonal grade instead, which would be C-. Wisconsin fans expected a lot more.
Update: I had my profanity laced tirade about how Wisconsin always jacks it off in big games when closing out the year but surprise they actually won. I feel bad that I turned off my tv in disgust after Michigan pulled to within 21 -23 in the third quarter but somehow I am certain they would not have won had I watched all the way thru. Still if they had won at least 1 of those three game maybe they would be in a better position BCS wise.
Marquette/UWM basketball. Marquette had their season opener tonight against IUPUI and squeaked out a victory, avoiding the upset bug that has been going around the top 25 this week. With the three veteran guards Dominic James, Wes Matthews, and Jerel McNeal returning plus the solid experienced role players they should be solid this year even in a tough Big East. And it looks like they might be getting some capable help in the future also.
UWM started out the season Friday with a win over Upper Iowa University, best known in the Midwest for their annoying commercials, I didn't even know they had an athletics program. Coach Rob Jeter had to weather last season with a lot of young inexperienced players after going to the NCAA's two years in a row with talent left behind by Bruce Pearl. I saw some flashes in their exhibition games that indicate some of those players are ready to turn the corner in a big way. They should make a good accounting of themselves in Horizon Leauge play.
Oh and don't sleep on Badgers basketball. Don't forget they were ranked #1 at one point last season before their second leading scorer Brian Butch went down for the year. Yeah Alando and Chris Rock, I mean Kammron Taylor, are gone but we have some other guys who look capable of stepping up.
Personally I can see both sides of the fence. I think Cosby brings up some valid points about us being more self reliant as a people, but at the same time I think he emphasizes and generalizes too much of the negativity going on in America's black community. Perhaps the most beneficial effect of Cosby's rants in the media is that there is a dialog created in our community about these issues. A lot of good points brought up all around in this post, check it out.
Props go to
First I have to give props to the 2007 edition of the Milwaukee Brewers. Yeah they fell short of the playoffs once again, but they had a very legitimate shot this year up until almost the last day and that's the kind of excitement that Milwaukee hasn't seen since '82. The choking down the stretch while frustrating can comfortably be passed off on inexperience which, when coupled with the team coming back for 2008 mostly intact, validates my feelings of optimism for 'next year'. If I'm a Brewer's fan (and I am) I feel great, not because my team blew a 7 game division lead in like a month but because they are set up to be good (and in contention) for the next few years.
The 5-1 Green Bay Packers!! WTF!! This is totally coming out of nowhere. Even your grandma knew the Packers weren't supposed to be shit this year and probably felt like she could do a better job than Favre. Now they are being mentioned in speculation on who the NFC's representative for the Super Bowl will be. But like I've said before, as a fan my demeanor is similar to Mr. Wolf from 'Pulp Fiction'. So let's not start sucking our own dicks just yet. It's hard for gimmicky teams to make it to the big game without a reliable running game and solid line play, areas the Pack has been sketchy in. And after about the halfway point everyone else seems to figure out the one dimensional teams and they start falling by the wayside so we'll see . . .
Marion Jones for finally "coming clean" lol. Seriously she should get some credit for fessing up to the truth without the weight of an unstoppable indictment hanging over her head a'la Vick. Yes she lied so emphatically up until now but that's just the point. She's still has never tested positive on both samples of a drug test. The case against her up til now has been basically a lot of heresay and strong circumstantial evidence. She could have possibly denied anything forever and fans and the USDA would have just been left always wondering. But apparently her conscience and her upbringing caught up do her. Here's to doing the right thing now, even if she didn't at first.
No props for Wisconsin Badgers football. I'm angry. Why whenever the Badger start off in a good spot to possibly actually compete for a national championship do they always falter? Is there a curse on Wisconsin football? Is it the curse of Don Morton and his veer offense from the late '80's? Whatever it is it's fucked up. But I think Wisconsin got caught sucking their own dicks this year. They believed their own hype and played themselves right out of a spot for national title contention. The loss to the Illini was salvagable but not the loss to Penn State. A shame because this really is a team that is better than a lot of people now think, but they probably won't get a chance to show it until they're matched up with some SEC team in a bowl game where people will think they'll get slaughtered and end up winning an ugly game.
To the Milwaukee Bucks for starting their season. I'm cautiosly optimistic about the Bucks this season, even in a stacked East. We're not in the same division as Boston, Lebron doesn't come to play until around Jan./Feb., and we can still beat Chicago, Detroit, and Indiana. So that leaves a little hope until the second round when Boston or Miami shreds us.
Lebron, Lebron, Lebron where to start to begin to explain to you what is wrong with this picture in so many ways. But first I have to speak to the people for you, excuse me.
Fans of all sports (especially sports fans in the state of Ohio) you have to be gracious and forgive Lebron because he knoweth not what he do. Let me break it down for you.
Lebron's development as a sports fan is still kind of in it's adolescent stage. It's never really been tried and tempered in the crucible of the 'us against them' mentality. See this is one of the things he really missed out on by not going to college. For I submit that it is during these young adult years that your identity as a sports fan is really solidified.
I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which means the major Wisconsin sports teams (Packers, Brewers, Bucks) were my primary allegience. But I grew up in the early '80's. The Pack was wack. The Brewer had competitive teams but only one really good year in '82. The Bucks had one of the best Eastern Conference teams of the '80's but could never get past Boston or Philly. So I had my teams that I rooted for on the side like Art Monk's Washington Redskins, University of Michigan football when Demetrius Brown was the quarterback, the Houston Rockets when they had Sampson and Olajuwon.
But a funny thing happens in college. You get a bunch of guys from all different parts of the country who don't know each other together in a group and what's a common interest that they can all use to relate to one another? Sports.
I began my matriculation thru my alma mater in the early '90's. Which meant the Packers were still sucking but would turn the corner soon with Favre, the Bucks after at least always making the playoffs were starting to really suck, and the Brewers and UW athletics were irrelevant. So when the sports trash talk begins of course I get bagged on for being from Wisconsin but I stick up for my state. "Yeah the Packers may be sorry now but at least we have more Super Bowls than the Bears and Tennessee doesn't even have a pro sports team!" (Most of my boys were from Detroit, Chicago, East Coast or Dirty South). Those experiences is what really drove my now hyper-loyalty to my home state sports teams. Wherever I live I'll always be a Packers, Brewers, Bucks, Badgers fan cuz that's where I'm from.
See Lebron has (probably) never had those types of experiences to develop loyalty to his home state sports teams like that, which is part of the reason why he thinks it's ok wear a Yankees hat to an Indians home playoff game when he is an Ohio native. And that is the very definition of what sports fan blasphemy is. You can have your little side allegiences but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, when it's time for real talk, when the rubber hits the asphalt, when it's playoff and championship time you cannot go against your home state sports team. That's where you're from, they are representing you whether you like it or not and if you turn your back on them for another team you are a traitor, plain and simple. No animosity just being real. There are plenty of native Wisconsinites who are (shudder) Chicago Bear fans. We Packer fans look upon them kindly enough, kind of like the slow kid who doesn't know any better, but they are traitors.
So Lebron take whatever criticism you receive from your fellow Ohio sports fans constructively, they are just trying to lead you into the light. Realize how tough this must be for them to see one of their sports heroes, a native of their state like them a guy they expect to see in the trenches with them rooting for the same teams, openly flaunting his admiration for the opposition. Oooh the irony!
And damn maybe you could at least lose the hat.
I'm not ready to carry Favre's jockstrap and drink his bathwater like a lot of Packer fans seem ready to do, but I do have to give him some props this season. He's playing a lot smarter, looks like he's starting to put those 16 years of experience to good use.
That being said can the Packers really go anywhere this year? Who can say? Stranger things have happened. The class of the NFC right now is supposed to be the Cowboys? So who's on the second tier? Not Chicago or New Orleans or Carolina or the Eagles or the Giants (who the Packers already beat this year). So you have to say if the Pack keeps playing the way they are right now they have as good a chance as anybody in the NFC. I say the NFC because whoever comes out the NFC will be trounced by the AFC representative. How ironic would that be if a juiced up Pats team with recently acquired Randy Moss (who was willing to go to Green Bay before he signed with the Pats) beat the dog crap out of a resurgent Pack in the Super Bowl, getting their revenge for the their loss in '96?
But I'm going to sit back and enjoy the ride no matter how it ends because I know this will be Favre's last year. I don't have any inside info, just a feeling. It would be a perfect way to go out with a season like that and we all know he has a flair for the dramatic by the way he's handled the speculation about his retirement the last couple of seasons.
Thanks for making the Packers relevent again and enjoy your retirement Brett, you deserve it.
Well in my vigilance of happenings in the sports world I have always been intrigued by the legacy of Derrick Thomas. Remember him? The 9-time Pro Bowl linebacker who played his entire career for the Kansas City Chiefs? The guy who once had seven sacks in one game? The guy who announcers, writers, commentators, fans generally referred to as "a future HOF'er"? The NFL player who died tragically in 2000 from a car accident on the way to the NFC championship game.
Since his death it's always puzzled me how few people seem to remember, or they tend to discount, what a great and feared player D. Thomas was. He was a stud at Alabama on their great late '80's teams and was the fourth pick of the '89 draft. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, he was Defensive Rookie of the Year. He is one of only 22 players to have over 100 sacks in his career.
So how is this guy not in the NFL Hall of Fame? Is it because he played for a small market Kansas City Chief team that always seemed to fall below expectations? I mean really isn't this a serious oversight like the fact that there aren't many lineman in the HOF. This should be debated every year like Goose Gossage's entry into the Baseball HOF is/was (not sure if he's in now or not). And this guy wasn't some douchebag who constantly courted trouble with the law off the field but a pillar of the community in K.C. who did a lot of charitable work.
By the way I'm not a Chiefs fan but I considered Thomas as one of those atheletes that have to be watched whenever possible because you never knew what spectacular play he might make next. If he doesn't get in next year, I for one will continue to view this as a huge travesty. K.C. fans let your voices and the memories of this fallen great be heard!!
Marbury did not say explicitly they had sex as they sat parked outside a Manhattan strip joint, as fired Knick exec Anucha Browne Sanders has claimed.
"We got together right across the street," Marbury testified in Manhattan Federal court.
Wiping away tears, Browne Sanders added, "She basically did whatever he asked her to do. She considered it to be consensual because she agreed to get in the car."
Of course it was only a good day because my team, the Green Bay Packers, won. My condolences to the fans of the Bears, Jaguars, Broncos, Dolphins, Raiders, Giants, Chiefs, and every other team that lost today. I know it's still a good day, but it could have been a lot better if so and so could run his way out of a paper bag. If my Packers hadn't have won it would have still been a sacred day for me, but not as good. I'm the kind of fan who hates it so much when my team loses that it ruins my appreciation for any other NFL action on display on any given Sunday. I'm salty for the rest of the day wondering why my team can't run the ball like that or how did New England get lucky with some young guy out of nowhere and we hired this dumbfuck. But the Pack pulled it out, Farve even came with some old-school Brett plays circa '97, so I was able to fully enjoy this one of the most sacred of days. It's just something about opening day of the NFL. There's no comparison, not even MLB's opening day (opening day in the NBA please bearly a blip late in the football season. The NBA is always that nice annual surprise that you remember about after the Super Bowl when you happily seek a sports fix.)
But there is something sacred about this day that just feels different. Who decided that professional football games would be played on Sunday? It just seems like there's something about that that is very appropriate. It's days like today when I most identify with the football writers and whatnot who always insist that the game of football is an analogy of life: how we all struggle individually, yet together as a team we work towards a common goal, the nobility how men constantly test and exceed their limits, and the triumph of acheiving what everybody told you was impossible. Nothing could ruin this day for the true fan Vick, and steroids, and drunk driving linebackers be damned. The only thing that matters is we got some fired up guys flying around the field on tv again and a socially acceptable excuse to drink excessivley in public places. Good times.
One of the stories that she mentions is the disappearance of Stepha Henry. Stepha Henry is an attractive 22-year old recent college graduate from NY who went missing during a Memorial Day weekend trip to Miami that was to celebrate her younger sister's 16th birthday. She was last seen getting into a vehicle with a man on her way to a popular Miami nightspot. This story has received a good deal of national attention, the story of her disappearance has been highlighted by MSNBC and America's Most Wanted among others, but has failed to generate the kind of publicity that other similar well known cases have like say for instance, Chandra Levy or Natalee Holloway (who for the record just happen to be white). There are a lot of areas of this case that would probably be looked into a lot more closely if it were receiving the kind of scrutiny those other cases I mentioned did. Let's hope that eventually it will and before it's too late for Stepha.
Another story that needs scrutiny by the media, especially these days in this society, is the case of the "Jena Six" in Jena, LA. Website 'While Seated' has a good summary of the facts of this case. In a nutshell six black high school students have been brought up on various charges including conspiracy to commit murder for responding to racial harrasment (including physically violent confrontations) they experienced for trying to put an end to some of the segregation era traditions at the school they attend. This story really does a lot to illustrate how prejudice and racism are still very alive and well in this country, particulary in Louisiana. If you think this viewpoint has no validity, you need to read up on it.
Also forget the mainstream (white) national media, where are our own leaders and media outlets on this???!!! Everyone from BET to the NAACP has issued public statements regarding Vick but I haven't heard a peep about Jena, LA. I'm starting to feel what Jason Whitlock has been saying.
Latrell Sprewell's yacht gets repossessed. See!!! He did need the money!!! Seriously I've always liked Spree as a player, coach choking aside. Being from the same city and remembering the great Milwaukee Washington High basketball team he was on I've always had a soft spot for him as he managed to get drafted out of Alabama (same year as Bob Horry) as a defensive specialist. From all accounts except for ESPN's Chris Sheridan he's a nice enough guy so I hope he hasn't squandered all his NBA earnings. But I understand he does have his own car street racing business.
Jerome Bettis admits to faking an injury, in Steelers training camp in 2001 in his new book. Hmmm wonder what his former teammates think about that. I think it's what Bettis probably meant it to be: an intriguing anectdote.
The 53 dogs seized in the Michael Vick case are on a deadline to be put to sleep!!?? and the people from PETA are in approval of it. I may not be in sync with the popular opinion but isn't this a tad bit hypocritical?
"There's no dispute over who owns the dogs," said Daphna Nachminovitch, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "Obviously this is not going to be a process where someone steps forward and says, 'This is my dog, can I have her back, please?' "
"These dogs are a ticking time bomb," she said. "Rehabilitating fighting dogs is not in the cards. It's widely accepted that euthanasia is the most humane thing for them."
So basically PETA is in favor of doing the same thing to these dogs that Vick & Co. would have supposedly done if say they had failed to perform well enough to win fights? Where's all the compassion for these animals that supposedly led to such strong outrage when these charges were revealed? Would Vick be looked upon more kindly if he had been 'euthanizing' the dogs in a humane way instead of apparently torturing them to death?
The idiot Sonics co-owner who spilled the beans on the current owners real intentions gets fined 250 g's by the NBA. Could this be a sign that Stern is not going to let Clay Bennett slip thru the cracks even though he's still dealing with the fallout from the Donaghy scandal? I for one think it would set a good precendent with NBA fans if the commish stepped in and basically forced a deal to be made.
Tyler Donovan will start at QB for Wisconsin. I think Bielema made a good choice here. Atheletic junior Allen Everidge (transfer from K. State) might be more successful in the long run but Donovan is a fifth-year senior who has paid his dues and performed well in spot duty. He's an accurate passer with better-than-you-think mobility. I think he will happily surprise a lot of people this season.
I'm starting to come around seriously believing/hoping in the Brewers season. I actually was anxious watching their loss to Arizona last night where the Brewers had control until the 7th. This is such an unusual feeling Milwaukeeans aren't used to being in the middle of a heated pennant race. I'm hesitant to get emotionally involved and yet as a loyal Wisconsin sports fan feel I must, but if we go on another 8 game losing streak I'm going to be disgusted.
Speculation on the possibility of Mike Holmgren replacing Bob Harlan as team chairman. Not coach and chairman, just chairman. That might be a real good fit as Holmgren has always been a pretty good judge of talent.
I can't believe that 5 years from now Vick will be pretty much irrelevant to the NFL. Given the way his career was headed he was going to be regarded as another Randall Cunningham at the worst and who knows after he got a little older he might have actually turned into a complete QB. Now he's going to be like . . . I can't think of any other player whose career had so much potential but burned out so quickly (except maybe Sterling Sharpe but totally different circumstances). He'll probably end up being better known for his demise. A talented athlete who never grasped the intracacies of playing QB in the NFL (ESPN and other sports sites are already starting to talk about his career in this light). No more will we hear sportscasters narrating his highlight footage in awe as he easily eludes would be tacklers and slings the ball at an impossible angle for a 60-yard completion. What's even more sad is the toll it will take on his reputation. Here was a young black man in Atlanta, GA drafted no.1 (first black QB ever taken no. 1 overall) and in posession of millions of dollars yet you never heard a peep in the news about him getting arrested and a club, stip club, etc., or being pulled over with drugs early in the morning, or any kind of domestic violence situation. He was involved in a large number of charitable activities that were generally unreported in the media (positive news about black athletes = boring) unless it was something he didn't show up for. Now he will just be another ex-con looking for a job. Speaking strictly as a fan, just doesn't seem right.
And I'm not saying he didn't bring all of this on himself or that his alleged treatment of the dogs wasn't horrible (I'm a dog owner), but can everyone at least concede that this is regrettable? Why is he being attacked as if he's behind the 9/11 bombings or has been secretly funding Al Quaeda, or like he somehow deserves to have his life in shambles, his means of supporting himself and his family taken away, and to be publicly ostracized for making a mistake and getting involved in an activity that was illegal but not really looked down upon publicly by anyone prior to this?
I'm not the kind of fan who likes to hold Moral Court and try to hold someone who is basically just like me to some type of higher standard because they have a more athletic frame and can run faster in full pads with a linebacker chasing them. So I will mourn the death of Michael Vick: the football player and hope that in time Michael Vick: the person will find redemption.
Green Bay Packers 2007: A New Hope? Starring A.J. Hawk as Luke, Aaron Rodger as Hans Solo, and Brett Farve as Obi Wan Kenobi
As such Mr. Wolf says hey it's only the preseason, wait til it counts to get excited. So the kid Rodgers finally had a decent game, it's about time. Let me know when he has a great game. Besides he was the only real bright spot besides them winning the game. The offense as a whole still sputtered and the secondary continued to give up big plays. They did manage to win but so what? We need to see some progress not continually hear about the potential to gel.
The game this week was one Mr. Wolf could sit down and watch while enjoying a nice cup of coffee. The first team offense seemed to be clicking right away. I was particulary encouraged by the running of Brandon Jackson and the blocking of the offensive line which seemed to be in pretty good sync. For once the defense made big plays instead of giving them up. A.J. Hawk's play stood out and gave the Wolf a little hope that his high draft status last year would yet be justified. Aaron Rodgers looked like he took another step in the right direction in his development as a player. The Wolf is beginning to be able to see the leadership abilities Rodgers showed at Cal coming out a little, at least with the second team. Yes it's only the preseason but we're a little short on wins lately so we'll take it. Who knows how many more we'll get.
Real Hip-Hop Heads, Supernegro has a link to Public Enemy's latest single (even if you had no idea, act like you know). Nice to see Flav go back to basics.
Fantasy Footballers have you checked out YouTube's Fantasy Files where potential NFL fantasy picks showcase their talents? Even if you don't use it for consideration on your draft choices it is must see. Check out Jason Campbell's file
Barry finally hits 756. As an African-American I am proud of him (as I was when he broke the single season home run record). What most makes me proud for him is the humility and respect he has shown when addressing the media during all the hype leading up to this moment(no matter how much they try to bait him), not at all what you would expect if your impressions of him as a person were solely based on media accounts and had never seen him in public.
Also I may sound naive here but can I ask the media, if this guy is so conceited and ego-centric and owes his head size to his sense of entitlement is he really smart enough to be a massive steroid consumer and have avoided any kind of positive test ever? Is there ever going to be anything more than conjecture and assumptions in the case against him? I know there's lots of so called "damaging testimony" from all kinds of people but will there ever be any hard cold CSI style undisputable evidence? Just a random thought from a very casual baseball fan.
Side note: I ran across this photoshopped Bond's rookie card at profootballtalk.com
Interesting read at the leader comparing Barry's career trajectory to Mickey Mantle's. Interesting to me because as a casual baseball fan I never delved to deeply into the details of his (Mickey Mantle's) career.
This just in out of nowhere: Penny Hardaway signs with the Heat. Knew they were desperate for help but damn. So now the Heat has Shaq, Walker, GP, Eddie Jones, Penny . . . this is like the where are they now roster for former mid to late '90's NBA All-Stars who you thought were already out of the league (they should have went harder after G. Hill). Although in all seriousness Penny should have been on my Coulda Woulda post (just didn't come to mind). He was one of the best guards in the league no question once upon a time(remember he was supposed to be the next Magic). The combo of him and Shaq quickly took Orlando to the NBA finals, but then Shaq wanted to leave and the knee problems started . . . oh well Memphis State fans still love him (that's right Memphis State ho).
Looks like Mike Alstott's career might be over. Sad to see AllState go (one of the great natural nicknames in the NFL, see Berman is good for something). Did you know that he is the Bucs second all time leader in rushing yards but only has slightly over 5,000? (James Wilder is No. 1) Have the Bucs ever had a big time running back? But he has to be considered one of if not the greatest fullbacks of all time right? HOF worthy? (I bet he gets in eventually).
Meet Ted Thompson; Packer GM/extreme dumbfuck. The Green Bay Packers have over $13 million in cap space left and I have a question for Ted Thompson: what the fuck are you waiting for?!! Our starting running back is projected to be a guy who didn't start on his college team until his last year. We could some veteran talent at almost every critical position on offense and defense. We have a chance to aquire a still very talented Randy Moss at a very reasonable cost and pass. Ted, guess what . . . the draft only happens once a year you dumbshit (and you're not doing so hot with that either). And you know what else I've heard? Teams can actually add players to their rosters at other times during the year! It's called free agency, you might want to look into it before we look into buying out your contract.
Latest Brewers doings.
They outlasted the Mets last night. Tom Glavine was all set to record win number 300, but the Brewers had their minds set on breaking out of their latest losing streak. Geoff Jenkins hits the walkoff homerun in the 13th hmm . . . possibly we should not trade him after all. Besides he looks almost exactly like Brett Farve, so fans would revolt. Update after losing horribly last night the Brew crew is out of first place (Cubs fans predictions coming true, arrrgggh!!!)
Bill Walsh dies.
Great football mind. From all accounts great man. Thanks for prepping Holmgren before he came to Green Bay.
Larry Donaghy scandal.
This was really big when it broke, but I think it is now being eclipsed in the media with their coverage on Michael Vick. Just out of curiosity I wonder if just the races of the accused in these cases were reversed, would the media coverage be any different? Rednecks feel free to enlighten me.
Michael Vick scandal.
Forget about what color his skin might be, the dog in him, and his notable defenicies as a quarterback for a second and look at him as just a football player. If you are a true sports fan (or just NFL) you have to admit if he goes to jail (looks more and more like he will) this will go down as one of the one of the all time examples of a star professional athelete whose career was over way before it's time. He may not be able to read defenses but he is (was?) still arguably the most exciting player in the league, the most unpredictable X-factor for any team. And one day people will just remember him like they remember Kordell Stewart.
Kevin Garnett and Boston Celtics together in the same sentence.
Talk about the belly of the beast for an African-American. But I think someone of Garnett's charachter will be ok playing in Boston. Paul Pierce has been doing it alright. The other facet to this story is how this puts the East on top. Shaq and Wade, Lebron and the Lebrons? (whatever), Rip and Chauncy, Kidd and VC, Dwight and Rashard Lewis, Eddie and Zach, GA and Caron, and now KG, Ray Ray, and The Truth? I can't wait for the All-Star game, which should be a lot more exciting this year.
Skip Prosser passes.
Great coach by all accounts. Hard to maintain a high profile basketball program in a state dominated by Carolina and Duke but he did it at Wake Forest with a mixture of good recruiting and solid coaching.
Colts to release Corey Simon.
Where the hell has this guy been??!! Are we ever going to find out how this guy went from Pro Bowler, one of the top 3 defensive players in the leauge to becoming the Howard Hughes of the NFL?? Anybody?? I bet if dogs were involved the media would be all over it.
Donald Rumsfeld basically says "yeah we covered up the details of Pat Tillman's death. . . so what?" Did the House committee conducting this investigation really expect Rumsfeld to be apologetic or accept responsibility in any way? Please you want him on that wall, you need him on that wall.
Brett Farve shows some humility.
Just when even I was beginning to think he's been a little too smug lately, he basically admits to the fans and the franchise that if the Packers suck again this season they need to get rid of him while they can still get something for him. And he says some other mostly optomistic stuff, but that's the part that caught my attention. I'm a loyal fan but they just did not do enuff in the offseason to get over the hump. I'm interested to see what his attitude is like come that last game in December.
How'd I do Shanhoff (or anyone else who cares to comment)?
I know deep right? And in this film they were breaking it all the way down from how 1/3 of the world's population already has microchips implanted in their being to how the groups behind all of this are right in front of our faces. Truly rogue mentality. Unfortunately I didn't catch the name or who made it because I stumbled in after the beginning and immediately after it concluded a debate ensued amongst the watchers about the topics brought up. And plus I had been on the way somewhere else and stopped to watch it because it was that attention grabbing, so I couldn't stay. But I will find out the name of that documentary and where to get it. The narrartor sounded a lot like the guy in 'Loose Change' so I was hoping it was by the same people but I haven't been able to find it again yet. But I'll keep you posted. Oh and if anyone knows the film I'm talking about hook me up.
Pharohe Monche, Q-Tip, Too Short (longevity + he knows what he's good at and sticks too it), Ras Kass (incomplete body of work), MC Ren (real backbone of NWA), Scarface, G.U.R.U, Ghostface Killa, Grand Puba, Slick Rick (master storyteller), AG, Kool Keith, Lord Finesse, OC, Chuck D, Snoop I considered because no one else could get away with remaking 'La Di Da Di' (and get the personal blessing of Slick Rick), Bizmarkie (took beat boxing to another level). That's all off the top of my head, tell me who I left off.
When they talk about teams with long suffering sports fans, the Milwaukee Brewers are rarely mentioned. I don't think there's any particular reason why not, 1982 was the only Series they've ever been to (the Braves won a pennant in Milwaukee in 1957 but that doesn't really count for Brewers fans). But people tend to forget old Milwaukee, we're just a strange little hick white town in Wisconsin (wherever that is) people figure, and other teams stories are supposedly more compelling I guess (I do wish the Cubs would win already, but do enjoy watching their fans in anguish because they are very often Bears fans also). But believe me we have suffered just as much, the Brewers haven't had a winning record in over 15 years (maybe this year?!) and we weren't exactly tradition-building before '82. This all leads me to why I'm not going to be all quick to jump on the Brewer bandwagon this year, though I feel I must say something about them because this is a sports blog among other things and I am a hardcore sports fan from Milwaukee so it's kind of mandatory. We (Brewer's fans) know the chant of 'there's always next year', we've been saying it for a while now and it looks like this might actually be the year for something to happen, what I don't know (playoffs maybe?). But something in the back of my mind has me feeling like the Wolf in 'Pulp Fiction' right now, "let's not start sucking our own dicks just yet". Yes we're leading our division but by less than 2 games and we have the second worst record of any division leader, on the other hand from looking at the standings (I'm a very casual baseball fan) there's no team that's really tearing it up this year and hey it's after the All Star break and the Brewers are still worth mentioning. That in itself is a big turnaround from past years. We are a team that other teams must deal with if they want to be on top. The talk is not just limited to whether we are finally going to trade Geoff Jenkins and what we need to do to get better. And did I actually see them make a trade last week as if they are trying to gear up for a playoff run? Awesome. Call me in September if they are still relevant, in the meantime they still got brains to pick up. Until then I will go to the occasional game with no winnng expectations as all casual but loyal Brewer's fans have been doing for longer than we care to remember. But I'll keep my fingers crossed. Until then it might be a jinx to root harder.
My generation is a unique and pivotal one in history in many ways: first ones born in the post- civil rights era ('70's), first to really feel the effects of Reaganomics and crack, and also priviliged to have witnessed the birth of this genre and how it has threaded itself into the fabric of American culture (remember KFC was one of the first to use rap music in their commercials?).
Yep, we watched as corporate America realized that this wasn't just a fad (and that there was a lot of money to be made from the exploitation of it). Watched as they became the controllers of what was hot. You used to be the man if you had a tape to sell out of your trunk, now if you don't have a video out or a segment on MTV Cribs you're a nobody.
I remember I saw a Judge Mathis episode (whose show I hate by the way) where the defendant was an aspiring rapper and and to prove the legitimacy of his claim that he had talent, he spit some of his lyrics on the spot. Now he was no KRS but he was saying a little something, but the judge basically ridiculed him saying that because he had never heard of him and he refused to follow along with the popular stereotypes pushed by the mainstream he would never be a "success" (i.e. make a lot of money) as a rapper. Dude even said he was more into it for the love of the flow rather than monetary acheivment but the judge just pooh-poohed that. And I just mention that to give an example of how this thinking has penetrated the minds of most people who only have a casual knowledge of rap music. Imagine what African Americans who don't even listen to rap must think of it. I get so tired of trying to explain to people in my own age group that all rap music is not like "Laffy Taffy", listen to some Talib, or Common, or the Roots.
But it's only to be expected. In my observation whichever way our people have gone, so has our music. Brothers was gonna work it out in the '80's, now we just trying to party like rock stars. Seems like black america is wildin' out even more than ever but not in a good way anymore. We used to wild out to stick up for our rights, now it's just to tear the club up or show you got the biggest rims, the fattest knot, the most ice. . .but this is best discussed in depth in another post. This post is about something often debated among hip-hop fans: The best M.C.s in history.
Yes I'm talking about spanning the whole history of hip-hop, which is a perfect task for someone in my age bracket because as I've said we witnessed it from the birth to now. Really something like this is seriously needed because hip-hop is not maximized as an art form. In other musical genres the pioneers are revered figures by fans (i.e. The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Frank Sinatra, even Miles Davis and Coltrane), but not hip-hop. Young niggas laugh when you bring up KRS-One or Rakim in a discussion of the greatest m.c.'s of all time and are more likely to nominate Young Jeezy or Lil' Wayne (they're nice, but no comparison). We should be listening to Criminal Minded like white people listen to those old Beatles albums.
My criteria is kinda simple: lyrics, longevity (at least 2 good albums), and innovation. I'm trying to mention not only the best lyricists but the artists who changed the game somehow. As Melle Mel said "Hip Hop is about writing and rhyming, it's about standing in front of a mic (or an opponent) and destroying it lyrically". And I won't have any bias towards the younger generation on m.c.'s there are some good ones out there. Like I said one of the things I'm trying to do with this blog is spark debate and there should be plenty about a topic as subjective as this.
So without further adoo, this is my top ten.
10. Eminem - Some people would put him higher, others would not even have him on this list. My reasoning for including him is that white guys do have a place in hip-hop probably starting with the Beastie Boys and Rick Rubin, so I felt I should include their best representative. And he is always saying some shit that makes you rewind to make sure you heard him right.
9. Common (Sense) - has dropped the Sense part nowadays but that's how he started out. Gotta give props to my friends Show and Big Dre' for hipping me to Common back when he dropped 'Resurrection'. That was the album that really put him on the hip hop map (although his first album 'Can I Borrow a Dollar' was tight too) with the song 'I Used to Love H.E.R.' subliminally suggesting that hip-hop was headed down the wrong path of gangsta rap and materialism. So he's been around a long time and is still dropping dopeness (his latest is 'The Game' which I have to bump at least once a day and one with Talib Kweli, I believe they are from his latest album about to come out). Also back in around '98/'99 I went to a free concert outside on the student commons at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN featuring Common and The Roots. There were a lot of things that made that experience super tight: the fact that I was lifted, the fact that the place was not overpacked because it was not really advertised so if you were there it was on the humble, it was the end part of summer great weather, Common and The Roots actually showed up (well except for Black Thought). So they started later than the rumored start time but when they started they rocked it for like two and a half hours straight just Common and the Roots band. Common basically freestyled the whole show with a mix of semi-remixes of old school hits and lines from off the head that included the names of streets and places in Nashville which got the crowd hype. And after it was over I just remember walking away thinking that it was all free, no charge. That's hip-hop.
8. Jay-Z - Sigh . . . to tell you the truth I was really debating about whether he should be on this list ('HOV lovers hear me out!). His success has been mainly due to rap's current obsession with materialism. He was one of the first to really start name dropping designer names and labels in his rhymes and helped make bragging about how much money you have mandatory. Those things made me really dislike him as an artist (and that nickname 'Jigga', one syllable away from jigaboo!). I felt he was way overrated. But I can't front, he may stick to the same subject matter for the most part but he always comes up with new and clever ways to say it. 'Reasonable Doubt' is a classic no question, you can still beat down a block with 'Can't Knock the Hustle'. And he has progressed lyrically thru out his career, always improving. So I think it would be a to0 big off an oversight to leave him off. He represents one of the best of the second era of hip-hop (roughly early '90's to 2000).
7. Nas - sort of a living legend. I've never heard of a debut album being as highly anticipated as 'Illmatic' was (one of the few albums to ever get 5 mics from The Source). For years before it came out you would hear rumors on the underground rap scene of this kid named Nasty Nas ripping the mic. 'Illmatic' came out in the spring of '96 just in time for one of the last/best years of the infamous Freaknic in ATL. When I got down there I was amazed at the number of people from all around the country bumping Nas. He single-handedly shifted rap's focus back on lyricsm after it had been binging on uncreative gangsta rap. I believe his first appearance on wax was 'Live at the Barbecue' the last cut on 3rd Bass's often overlooked second album. Large Professor and Akinelye were both on this cut and were big at the time but Nas stole the show: "street's disciple my raps are trifle/I shoot slugs from my brain just like a rifle/stampede the stage, I leave the microphone ripped/play Mr. Toughy while I'm on some Pretty Tony shit/verbal assassin my architecht pleases/when I was twelve I went to hell for snuffin' Jesus". Are you telling me these Young Joc Laffy Taffy niggas are coming close to that???!!! Please.
6. Tupac/Biggie - these two will always be linked together not just in the history of rap music but in American culture so it only makes sense to put them together on this list. Two guys who started off as buddies but ended up enemies and in the middle became two of the most prolific artists in the history of any musical genre. If you mention one you have to mention the other and it's useless trying to decide which one was better. Each had the innate ability to make you feel what they were feeling not only with what they said but how they said it. Hell one could argue the case that if they were still alive hip-hop would be too.
5. Ice Cube - The Product. He's got the longevity and he's a pioneer of (West Coast) gangsta rap, an original member of NWA. Known for spitting such lines as "I was told cuz I didn't witness the whole act/in 'n' out was the movement of the bozack/it was hot and sweating and lots of pushin/then the nut came gushin'/and it was hell tryin to bell to the ovary/with nothin but the Lord lookin' over me/I was white with a tail/but when I crossed the finish line: young black male!"
4. LL Cool J - even though his is annoying with the constant licking of the lips and the obsession with his body, I can't front on Cool James. When it comes to longevity he is pretty much the standard. He's had umpteen albums and always at least one hit from each one (I think the last was 'Headsprung'?), and countless classics. The inventor of the rap love ballad. Took out KoolMoDee with 'Jack the Ripper' (although MoDee's answer song was tight, but not tight enough). One of the first rappers to transcend the genre and go into movies and tv. Gave Foxy Brown her first big shot on wax.
3. Kool G Rap - the real originator of gangster rap music, besides maybe Schoolly D and Too Short on the West Coast. G Rap was spitting rough rhymes way before NWA or the Geto Boys made it extra popular. Still he is mostly only known to true heads. Was on classic tracks like 'The Symphony' ,'Ill Street Blues', and 'Talk Like Sex'. If you can ever find his best hits CD released by now defunct Cold Chillin' Records cop it immediately because it's a rare find. A sample 'you know the evil that men do, so show him how the game go/we snatched him by his hands and feet and threw him out the window/up, up, up and away cuz I don't play clown/buck, buck, buck take that with you on the way down/I'm hoping you got wings or springs on your shoes/but you lose becuz I got the Ill Street Blues.
2. Big Daddy Kane - long live the Kane. I don't see how you could avoid mentioning him in this discussion. I mean 'Raw', 'Ain't no Halfsteppin'', 'Set It Off', his verse on 'The Symphony', I could go on and on. Sure he hasn't really done anything in the last 10 years but the lyrics on those songs still surpass those currently being passed off by these rappers posing as m.c.s He very much helped make flatop fades cool (up north people called them 'big daddies' as in "man what's up with your big daddy, you need a cut don't you?!"). One interesting antidote is his supposed rivalry with Kool G Rap, fellow member of the Juice Crew. I've heard it said that the last two verses of "The Symphony" was a little personal battle between G Rap and Kane. Opinions differ on which verse was better but I think all agree they both were tight.
1.-Tie Rakim - of course the god m.c. needs to be near the top of this list, but it is too hard for me personally to decide between him and KRS One so I declare a tie. Do I even need to go into an explanation of why he is perhaps the greatest m.c. of all time? Universally respected among all rappers, all pay homage due to Rakim. Examine any line of his lyrics on any song. There are no out of place words, no wasted syllables, no throw away lines. His delivery is pretty much flawless. He's like Jordan on the mic for real.
1.-Tie KRS One - the m.c. who would rather teach than rule. Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone. See this is a person who lived a substantial part of his life growing up literally on the streets homeless. He knows reality for real for real. And you cannot call yourself a truly hardcore head if you've never been to or at least heard a KRS concert, he's gives perhaps the best live shows of any rapper ever. So he is the complete emcee, elevating to a higher form metaphysically but still among the masses. He's still hot doing underground shit and he says that every year he writes a seperate battle rap for each of the top ten selling rappers that year, so if the masses ever wake up watch out Jeezy!