Out with Hipster Food, In with Hipster… Balls

November 3, 2011

I heard once, and now I forgot where, that hipsterism is officially dead: All hipsters have just become foodies.

That’s the kind of sweeping statement that begs to be analyzed (see: The Atlantic article on such things).  It’s the kind of hyperbole you just have to sink your teeth into.  Anyway, after thinking hard about it for maybe two minutes, I have to disagree.

I can say, with all confidence, that food is not the next bastion of hipsterdom — it is, quite obviously, sports.  Think about it — if you were to to unfairly generalize hipster character traits the top of the list would have to be a love of irony, unapologetic geekiness, a carefully cultivated appreciation of  pop culture, and a finely-tuned sense nostalgia.  All of these things, to me, point directly to sports.

Example #1

Here is a group of three names: Malcolm Gladwell, Dave Eggers, and Chuck Klosterman.  If someone told you they were collaborating on a project together, what would you think it would be?  A youth literary fundraiser? A roundtable on the plight of self-awareness in literature?  A celebrity somolier app for your iPad?  All these things seem more likely than the truth, which is that they are all editors at Bill Simmons’ ESPN-backed sports blog Grantland. Gladwell, Eggers and Klosterman — THE TRIUMVIRATE OF COFFEESHOP NAMECHECKINGall with a profound passion for sport.  Also, check out Simmons’ recent podcast with John Walsh that focused solely on another hipster idol /sports fiend, Hunter Thompson.

Example #2

Hipsters strive to let you know that they appreciate something you love on a much deeper level than you do — doing so validates that their passion is more authentic than yours.  They also like to geek out.  This is why hipsters love sabermetrics — it’s an way to say, “Yes, I enjoy this too, but my enjoyment of this is considerably deeper and more rewarding than yours.”  This same argument has been made about everything from The Velvet Underground to The Muppets.  And don’t get me going about Moneyball, or the fact that Moneyball was adapted by Aaron Sorkin.  Everybody was jazzed about that one.  The only bigger announcement for the hipster world would’ve been if Noah Baumbach directed a rotoscoped version of Kafka on the Shore.

Example #3

Nostalgia is the lifeblood of the hipster.  Everything you find in the attic that was packed up as a kid — it is now gold.  Because the past = youth = innocence = authenticity.  Sun-faded photos of kids on big wheels are the stuff of indie EPs!  Parent’s gigantic plastic reading glasses are  urban fashion de rigueur.  That old replica jersey of Will Clark?! YES!  Do you have that Dream Team T-shirt? That shit is TIGHT. It is FOR REAL!  Wear it to LOLLA!

Okay.  I doth protest too much.  I like sports.  I like Moneyball.  I listen to Bill Simmons all the time.  I may talk about football on this blog more than anything else.  That said, I welcome the emergence of sports fanaticism as something that both jocks and art kids can love. Could I just throw out there that I even tried to start an Indie Rock fantasy league?  True Story.

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Bears Open their Checkbook and Little Black Book for Free Agent Signings

March 3, 2010


As the NFL Free Agent signing period begins on Friday, let’s take a quick look at the Chicago Bears’ [sarcasm] remarkable successes recognizing and nurturing free agent talent while compensating them fairly [/sarcasm].

In Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith’s tenure there has been one over-arching acquisition trend: The coaching staff hiring athletes that used to play in “their system” who turn out to be no good at all.  (Highlighted in orange are some good transactions.  Note the lack of orange.)

Let’s take a look at some of their transactions since 2007…

2007
DT – Anthony Adams
S – Adam Archuleta *cut* *retired* (Former Ram (01-05) player for Lovie Smith and Gil Byrd)
DT – Darwin Walker *retired* (Former Eagle player for ST Coach Dave Toub)
DT – Matt Toeaina

2008
RB – Kevin Jones *perennially injured* (Former Lion player for Rod Marinelli)
WR – Devin Aromashodu (Former Colt player for Tony Dungy)
WR – Brandon Lloyd *cut* (Former 49er WR during QB Coach Pep Hamilton’s tenure)
WR – Marty Booker *traded away in ’06 – re-signed in ’08 – cut in ’09* (Former Bear player for Lovie Smith)

2009
Asst Head Coach / DL Coach – Rod Marinelli *0-16* (Former Buc coach with Lovie Smith)
TE – Michael Gaines *cut to make room for Gaines Adams* (former Lion player for Rod Marinelli)
DE – Gaines Adams *traded for 2010 2nd round draft pick, deceased* (former Buc player for Jon Gruden)
OLB – Tina Pisaismioa *injured in quarter 1, game 1* (former Ram player for Lovie Smith and Bob Babich)
T – Orlando Pace *waived March 2010* (played for Rams during Smith/Babich tenure)
QB – Brett Bassonez (played for Northwestern during coach Eric Washington’s tenure)
QB – Jay Cutler
G – Frank Omiyale
T – Kevin Shaffer
CB Coach – John Hoke (Former Missouri coach with Dave Toub, Harry Hiestand and Chris Tabor, ties to Lovie Smith)
S – Josh Bullokcs *benched*
DB – Glenn Earl (former player for DB Coach Jon Hoke)
LB – Cato June *signed then cut within 2 weeks* (Former Colt player for Tony Dungy)
CB – Rod Hood *signed 9/1/09, waived 9/4/09*

Senior Director of Pro Personnel Bobby Depaul *fired*

———————————————————————–

March 5th Update.

Wow.  Twelve hours into the free agent market the Bears (who lack any real draft picks this year) snagged Panthers’ Defensive End Julius Peppers, Vikes’ Running Back Chester Taylor, and Rams’ TE Brandon Manumaleuna.  So… if you’re keeping score… the trend really hasn’t changed, hopefully the outcome will.

2010 (To Be Continued…)
Offensive Line Coach – Mike Tice
Offensive Coordinator – Mike Martz (former Rams coach with Lovie Smith)
DE – Julius Peppers
RB – Chester Taylor (former Vikings player for Mike Tice)
TE – Brandon Manumaleuna (former Rams player for Mike Martz)


This is What it Means to Be Brett Favre

February 2, 2010

Divisionaries' Brett Favre poster, comprised of kittens and puppies.

Sadly, our football column, Divisionaries for Milwaukee’s Third Coast Digest will be concluding for the season soon and Rob wrote a great re-cap of Brett Favre’s most epic fail yet.  I did too, and I decided to post it here, now:

As the third team in as many years learned Sunday, you live by Brett Favre, and you die by Brett Favre.   In a season that saw both former Favre teams make the playoffs with “lesser” quarterbacks, the Packer faithful in  Milwaukee, Rhinelander, Superior, Madison, (and yes Rob, even Neenah),  said in unison, “Toldya soooo.”

Nothing should solidify Cheesehead faith in quarterback Aaron Rodgers more than watching Brett Favre (and his double-edged throwing arm) toss an ill-advised cross-field pass in the waning seconds of regular time to the opposing New Orleans Saints in an otherwise dominant Vikings performance.

Aside from “destiny”, all things were were going Minnesota’s way.

Worse-case scenario, the Vikes would set up a considerably long game-winning field goal. If missed, all things looked good in overtime for a Vikings team that owned every statistical category worth mentioning, aside from the one that decides games the most — turnovers.  In a Favrian effort, the Vikings looked unstoppable, save for their constant knack for fumbling the ball over.

It was sadistic. It hearkened back to the decade-plus reign of Favre in Wisconsin, when fans would tolerate the troughs (on and off the field), living for the exultant peaks of his game.  It was entertaining for Packer fans probably …  finally able to watch Favre as an informed spectator, observing the near-Greek Tragedy of highs and lows play out in a game that meant nothing (directly) to Green Bay faithful.

Thought assisted generously by questionable officiating the Saints assuredly marched towards an OT win while Favre, reminiscent of his last “Pick Heard ‘Round The World” against the NY Giants, watched from the sidelines after his most-recent (and perhaps last?) boneheaded interception.

Minnesotans finally bore the weight of what it is to have Brett as your quarterback.  As unwilling soothsayer Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune said after Favre’s win against the 49ers earlier this year, “This is what it means to be Brett Favre. This is what it means to have Brett Favre. This is what it means to watch Brett Favre.”

Feel free to shoot me an email if you would like an extra-large poster of Puppy/Kitten Brett.  Price: Negotiable.


Favre un-re-retires: The Divisionaries Are Born

August 19, 2009

WTF.

Brett.  Seriously?  Go play for the Birmingham Barons.

So, the Football blog I’ll be writing on is called The Divisionaries.  We’ve already got some bitching going on about Favre-gate3.0.  We’ll be able to make fun of the Lions… lots.

And if a weekly post is not enough to get your fix, we’re also on twitter here: http://twitter.com/Divisionaries

And yes.  Gridiron Girl will be making appearances in the as well.


Does Money Equal MLB Success? Howabout Smarts?

August 15, 2009

Sports radio in Chicago is going bat-shit about how poorly the Cubs are doing.  The Sox, btw, are not exactly KILLING out there either, but it seems to always come back to the money.  “The Cubs spend so much money, there are higher expectations,” say some.  I wouldn’t disagree.

But it’s not like the White Sox are scraping the bottom of the barrel.  They’re actually one of the biggest spenders in the league as well… and have made some expensive moves just recently, trading for Jake Peavy and flat-out buying Alex Rios.

Annnnyway, the “spending” criticism is the same reason most people really dislike the Yankees — as the tend to buy players.  Conversely, it’s the reason people tend to support small market teams that make smart moves… the Marlins, the Rays, and of course, the money-ballin‘ A’s.

There seems to be a sentiment that “buying” a winning team is inauthentic, when in fact, it’s really how the game is played.  I’ve pulled the ’08, and (projected) ’09 team wins and wanted to compare which teams get the most bang for their buck, which teams pay the most to still suck:

So.  Here’s a scattergraph that shows all MLB team salaries compared to their 08 and 09 (projected) wins:

Guess Which Ones Are The Yankee Ones.

The findings were not that wowing.  Part of that, obvs, is because I suck at math, but the trend seems to say if you spend 50 to 100 mil a year on player salaries, you could win anywhere from 58 to 90+ games.  HA!  Thanks, statistics.  Like that helps.  More interesting though, spending LESS than 50 million yielded similar results to spending a little less than 3-times that amount.

Let’s break it down a bit more.

The average number of wins it took to get into the playoffs was:

  • 93 games

So, in the spirit of competition, here’s the average total salary cost for all teams that won (or are projected to win) 90+ games in ’08 and ’09:

  • $106,744,830 (13 Teams)

Here’s the average total salary cost for all teams that won (or are projected to win) 93+ games on ’08 and ’09:

  • $117,918,703 (8 Teams)

But!  This is fuzzy math!  If $ 118,000,000 makes you “playoff-worthy”, we wouldn’t even HAVE a playoff this year.  The 4 teams that spent that much money in ’09 – the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, and Red Sox — include the sub-.500 New York Mets who are certainly not going to make the cut.

So, if the Mets spend that much and still suck, it makes you wonder — who are the most and least-efficient spending teams.  We’re going to look at the total wins vs. total salary in 08 and 09…

The Best – Cost Per Win

  1. Marlins $346,580.03
  2. Rays $583,294.12  (Lost in the World Series)
  3. Pirates $735,252.95
  4. Twins $735,965.13 (Missed playoffs by one game [ed. note: by one one hit])
  5. Athletics $748,077.70

The Worst – Cost Per Win

  1. Yankees $2,161,530.10
  2. Mets $1,747,504.19
  3. Tigers $1,587,633.73
  4. Mariners $1,481,209.80
  5. Cubs $1,405,588.00 (Made Playoffs)

Weird, eh? Lots of spending will not gurantee you a spot in the playoffs, but spending efficiently won’t really help that much either.  To be completely transparent, six of the eight teams that made it into the playoffs in 2008 were below the 40th Percentile in salary-to-games won, so, I guess spending — smartly or otherwise –does increase your chances of making it to October.


Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears, and Scratch-Off Tickets

April 19, 2009

The completely unexpected happened a few weeks ago.  Because I’ve been slacking, I haven’t  posted anything, but, after all my bear-bashing, I’m about to eat my words and enjoy it.

Photo from Blog Down Chicago Bears

The oft-criticized Chicago Bear front office pulled off what amounts to the most important personnel move in my personal history with the team, and perhaps the biggest move in Bears history.

Though other franchises make blockbuster moves and offer ridiculous contracts nearly every off-season (Hi Jets! Cowboys! Redskins!), the Bears are traditionally a stoic, staunch, and slow-moving franchise.  Instead of grabbing hot free agents every year, the Bears opt to reward their core players with generous contract re-signings…  regrettably, as the cornerstones of the defense proved last year, sometimes that’s not the best idea (see: #21).

All that was blown out of the water earlier this week.

Bears fans have had nearly enough of GM Jerry Angelo’s big talk with no follow-through, while Lovie Smith’s unnerving poker face press responses further aggravated fans.  Meanwhile in Colorado, Jay Cutler, former Midwest-born Bears fan and 25 yearr-old Pro Bowl quarterback, was refusing to answer the phonecalls of his team, the Denver Broncos.  Cutler was rightfully peeved — the Broncos’ new sherrif in town, Josh McDaniels, had made no secret of the fact he was not interested in having Cutler under center during the 2009 season.  McDaniels had an inexplicable man-crush on a Patriots backup QB.

Photo from Football Nation

This was the highest-profile trade in recent memory and the Bears, somehow, fended off a HUGE amount of competition to lock up what could wind up solidifying the always-iffy Bears QB position.  A gutsy move that could feasibly solve the perennial Chicago QB problem for the next decade-plus.  Imagine not worrying about this issue again until after we host the Olympics!  Ha.

But there are always naysayers… here are the biggest complaints which I will swiftly refute:

Naysayer #1: “Jay Cutler is a good QB but he doesn’t have anyone to throw to”

  • Aside from the fact that the Bears have two solid tigh ends and one the best pass-catching backs in the league, I get the point — the Bears wide receiving corp(se) is  the worst in the league.  But, as my pal Jimmy pointed out, good quarterbacks create better receivers.  Good receivers don’t make great QBs.
  • Note how unimpressive past Packer wideouts become after they leave a team that had  Brett Favre throwing to them. Note how well Randy Moss fared in Oakland without a decent signal caller under center.  Note how well the pass-happy Eagles threw this year without any real stars at the position.  Note how Wes Welker played on the Dolphins compared to how well he’s played in New England.
  • Also worth mentioning: the Bears are sure to make some moves post-draft.  Aside from the draft itself, there are plenty of veteran wide receivers to pick up… Torry Holt, Marvin Harrison, The Foot-Shooter to name a few.  Granted two of those three athletes are past their prime, but they’re still  serviceable, savvy, smart, possession players.

Naysayer #2: “The Bears gave up too much to get Cutler”

  • To lock-up Cutler, the Bears gave up two first-round picks, an additional pick, and their starting QB, Kyle Orton.  On paper, this looks like a pretty steep cost.  But for anyone that’s followed the history of Chicago drafts, this is a great move.  Long-story short, the Bears DO NOT draft offensive players well… or develop them well. Trading away what might be for what already is makes perfect sense.
  • Think about it like this:  Some guy (probably in a trenchcoat) approaches you on the street… let’s call him… ummm,  Josh McDaniels.  He has five-hundred dollars neatly stacked in a pile and wants to trade you for your two “Win a Million” scratch-off lottery tickets.  Mr McDaniels (who is obviously clinically insane) would rather have your two scratch-offs than his cold, hard cash.  He’ll trade you his liquid assets for two of your unscratched lottery tickets.  Sure, your tickets might be worth lots too, but your name is McCaskey and your family has never had much luck in the lottery.  WHY DO YOU NOT AGREE TO THIS TRADE?
  • Appendix: Here are the Bears’ 1st round offensive skill position picks since 1988: Greg Olsen, Cedric Benson, Rex Grossman, David Terrell, Cade McNown, Curtis Enis, Rashaan Salaam, Curtis Conway, Brad Muster, and Wendell Davis.  It’s pretty evident you’ve been squandering them anyway, why not give them away for something tangible? Tangible and fucking awesome btw.

Naysayer #3: “Kyle Orton is the future”

  • K.O., god love him, is a solid QB, and may still wind up being a fantastic player.  But look at the facts: He is not a Pro Bowler,  Cutler is.  He isn’t 13-1 when the defense allows less than 22 points, which Cutler was last year (fyi — Bears avg points allowed last year: 21.9).  Lastly, Orton’s lack of arm strength nullified the speed that “#1” receiver Devin Hester possesses; while the words “Cutler”, “canon”, and “lazer” often appear in the same sentence.
  • It’s Science:
  • Note how "canon" spikes when Jay Cutler news spikes.

I’m thrilled to see what happens this season.  And if Cutler is a bust — so be it.  I don’t think Chicago would have ever forgiven the franchise for not pursing an all-star QB that was within their grasp, so I commend the Bears for making a huge, and long-awaited move.  I’ve never anticipated a season more than I have this off-season.  I wish it started tomorrow.


Indie Fantasy

March 26, 2009

With Fantasy Football a long ways away, and with Fantasy everything else sucking, we have created the obvious next step in “fantasy gaming”…. Fantasy Indie Rock.

Is there any better way to monitor the commodity that has become “indie” than by drafting artists as properties and tallying points?  I don’t think so.  It’s a simple formula:  Their name gets mentioned on Pitchfork or Stereogum news, you get a point. Simple as that.

So me, Curran, Kenny, Matt and Rob sat down and did our inaugural “Indie Rock Draft” this week, and began tallying points.  The scoreboard is on a Google cloud spreadsheet so everyone can make changes and update their rosters as need be.

I’ll keep you updated on it’s progress, but for your enjoyment (and so I can tag the shit out of this post), here’s how the draft went (please note, Matt came late):

Round 1

  1. Curran    Kanye West
  2. Kenny    Wilco
  3. Rob    Animal Collective
  4. Brian    Colin Meloy

Round 2

  1. Brian    M.I.A.
  2. Rob    Lily Allen
  3. Kenny    Radiohead
  4. Curran    The Decemberists

Round 3

  1. Curran    Neko Case
  2. Kenny    U2
  3. Kroll    Conor Oberst
  4. Rob    Girltalk
  5. Brian    Death Cab For Cutie

Round 4

  1. Brian    Peter, Bjorn & John
  2. Rob    Sigur Ros
  3. Kroll    Ladyhawke
  4. Kenny    Andrew Bird
  5. Curran    Grizzly Bear

Round 5

  1. Curran    Jane’s Addiction
  2. Kenny    Bruce Springsteen
  3. Matt   Jesus Lizard
  4. Rob    Dangermouse
  5. Brian    No Age

Supplemental Draft

  1. Matt    Crystal Stilts
  2. Matt    Pains of Being Pure At Heart

The strategies were interesting… do you draft small-time bands with their SXSW stock rising, do you try to take a big guess on who’s going to be announced at Lollapalooza (or the billion of other festivals doing press releases),  do you risk taking the frontman of a band in the hopes you can double-up on points for their solo AND group material, or pick-up a producer who has his hands in a LOT of recordings but sometimes isn’t mentioned in shorter news articles.  Ohhhh, strategery.

If you’re curious, here are the top-5 scorers as of yesterday, 3/25:

1. Animal Collective – 6
2. Dinosaur Jr – 5
3. Death Cab For Cutie (tie) – 4
3. Passion Pit (tie) – 4
5. *13 bands tied with 3 points each* Beach House, Billy Corrigan, Black Lips, Conor Oberst, Department of Eagles, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Jimmy Chamberlin, Kanye West, No Age, Soundgarden, Vivian Girls, Yeah Yeah Yeahs