The Weekly Tendown - Dec 12-18 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dear Internet:

The best sports photograph of the year.  It was just a couple weeks ago that the Heat were roundly described as a failed experiment - Bill Simmons picked them to lose decisively in that trip to Cleveland; discussion of "who should they trade" was heating up. 

As a general rule, it's good to temper one's desire to blow up a team based on a small sample size.  We're too fast and loose with other people's jobs. 

With that - here's Tendown 56.

1. Fire Mike Singletary.

I just can't stand him. 

The gigantic wooden cross around his neck, the neanderthal offense, the Chicago Bear lineage, the lack of interest in articulating a philosophy of football outside of "toughness" - there could not be less of a connective thread between the football team that he runs out on the field each week and the legacy built by Bill Walsh; from Dennis Erickson to Mike Nolan to this guy, we've spent the past decade hiring guys who can't get other head coaching jobs anywhere else in the league.  We are absolutely nowhere. 

But if we'd win football games, all of that would be fine.

I think about the transaction between me and my football team like this - they come to me and say "hey, we've got a coaching decision to make - I know you prefer Jim Schwartz, but what do you think about Singletary?"

And after some variation of that previous paragraph, I leave the discussion with "my vote is no - but I'll give it a good faith effort."

He's out of time now.  Playing in an all time bad division, we are 5-9, totally noncompetitive this past Thursday.  There is a fair path to making the playoffs; there is no path to salvaging this season.

I would rather lose those last two games than make the playoffs.  I'll pass up the home playoff gate for the bump up the draft board.  Let someone else be a sub .500 division winner.  I don't want it. 

There are personnel problems with the club.  Alex Smith is equally out of time; he and Samurai Mike can take the same flight out of town.  We don't know yet if Crabtree can play.  We still need an edge pass rusher.  And two cornerbacks. 

And while I don't hate anyone in the front office, there's no one you'd run into the building to save if there were a fire.

It can be whatever level of scorched earth housecleaning is thought needed.  If the new broom is going to err, it should be on the side of  sweeping toward cleanliness.

But what absolutely, unequivocally, needs to happen before Week One of whatever happens to be the next season played in the National Football League, is that Mike Singletary needs to be fired.  He's coached 39 games, it will be 41 by end of the regular season - we're under .500.  That's enough.  41 games is plenty.  Nolan got 55.  Erickson got 32.  41 is enough.  Next. 

2. The Shiva Bowl
Fantasy football playoffs start this week - I'm still alive in all 3 of my leagues (12 team $ leagues, all the money goes to the winner). 

League One - I went Britt over RBrown in my flex, and, as of this second, am taking Oakland over the Falcons as my defense.  Neither is my regular defense, but I grabbed the Falcons a couple weeks ago to get them against Carolina - and I might be wishcasting, but I just can't help but put my money where my mouth is and line up against Tebow's first start.  (rest of my starters - Peyton, McFadden, Mendenhall, Fitzgerald, Nicks, Witten, Akers)

League Two - I've ridden Cassel here, but with the appendectomy picked up Kitna off the street last week and am writing his name one more time; I'm going Maclin over Tampa Mike Williams as my flex.  Gates's injury has meant I've been shuffling TE - this week it's Zach Miller.  And, I picked up the Browns when they faced Carolina and am going with them again against the Bengals. (rest of my starters - Charles, Mendenhall, Bowe, Andre Johnson, Rackers)

League Three - This is the only league where I've already scored points - Tolbert earned me ten Thursday against my Niners (I caught a break in neither hitting Rivers nor Jackson in my matchups); I picked up Boss off the street to replace Gates, and am going with the NYG defense even against Vick and the Eagles (rest of starters - Both Peytons, Mendenhall, Bowe, Jennings, Akers).

My goal's to win 2, then split my title games next week and grab one title.  A modest goal but a reasonable one.

3. I Watch the Movies
Movie week at my house over the past 7 days. 

-Exit Through the Gift Shop (the best film I saw this week, consider pairing it with My Kid Could Paint That)

-The Joan Rivers Documentary (my Lady Type Friend didn't know the story of Johnny never talking to Joan again after she got her own show; I'm 40, she's 32 - so whereas I was in college when Johnny retired, she was still in middle school - Johnny was the freaking Godfather; Joan's not telling him before she signed the deal with Fox was a significant slight in the context of the era.   When NBC wanted to start Saturday Night Live - they went to Johnny for approval; when NBC was going to change their minds and give Dave the Tonight Show instead of Jay, one of the reasons Dave decided to go to CBS was a conversation he had with Johnny - now, that meeting was captured by Bill Carter's first book - but he missed a similar conversation between Conan and Johnny and I think it hurts his new book's thesis.  Carter clearly supports Seinfeld's takeaway from the Jay/Conan situation - that Conan took the idea of "The Tonight Show" too seriously - in 2010, that Conan would rather leave NBC than shift to midnight with Jay taking the 11:30 slot was fighting a war over an eggshell.  Johnny's show isn't Johnny's show anymore - timeslots, networks, all vestiges of a different world.  Perhaps - but Conan, on one of Larry King's final shows this month, alluded to a conversation he had with Johnny back in 2004 when the decision was made that he'd be taking the show from Jay; and my sense of things are perhaps Conan took from that conversation something different - the idea that he was carrying on Johnny's legacy; that when Conan wrote that open letter saying he wouldn't take part in the destruction of the Tonight Show - he wasn't just talking about moving it to midnight - he was talking about the entire Jay Leno era.  I think perhaps as Dave left his conversation with Johnny believing that he wouldn't really be taking Johnny's Tonight Show, he'd be taking Jay's - and that wasn't worth staying at NBC - that Conan left his conversation with Johnny thinking it wasn't some DVR'd block of corporately sponsored time that he was fighting for - nor was it the legacy of Jaywalking or the Dancing Itos - that Conan was making a stand for Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.  Maybe that's still not worth it - but it's an area of analysis perhaps Bill Carter could have more strongly considered.

-The Kids Are All Right - I didn't love it; it was fine, but no better than other Mark Ruffalo films; and if one wanted to place it within the "lesbians sure do secretly crave dick" canon I'm not sure I'd object. 

-The Michael Cera is in a Video Game movie.  The fight scenes were disinteresting to me; I'm not anti-video game, just agnostic; I like Cera and I'm a sucker for a film that is playfully directed; so you could pair this with 500 Days of Summer and I'm watching.

Incidentally - on both the latter discs (which I watched via Netflix) there were no special features - instead, clicking on special features led to a screen which said "hey, if you want any of this stuff, you gotta buy the disc".  A significant bummer.  I love me some special features but will not buy a disc to watch them and probably don't care enough about them to look for them through other avenues. 

4. I Read the Books
I read a terrific bio this week Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson It did what I like books to do, really placed Richardson in a broader social context - it's instructive, for example, to see the matter of fact racism of Frank Broyles, to recall that Richardson, in 1985 was the first black coach in any major sport in the SEC - it is very clear to see, in 2010, how much of the way that Richardson was understood by sports media was through a racial prism.  At the time, had you raised that idea (as I did) you would have been running hard against the mainstream narrative.  But that's what we clearly do - when events are occuring, our view is whatever is happening is what should be happening - that we had immorality in the past, but in the present, such attitudes are only on the fringes - and in fact - it's pointing out racial disparity that is the real problem.  We said that in 1985 - we said it 20 years before during the civil rights movement - and we say it today.  It's only looking back that the mainstream narrative becomes "there sure was a lot of racism we didn't see back in 1985 - good thing we're beyond that now" - without any recognition that (1) there were people who saw it then and (2) just as we were incapable of casting a critical eye on ourselves then, so are we today.  Within the discussion of what happened in the 2010 midterms - all the talk about the rise of the tea party and whatnot - consider instead the following:

The first black President got elected in 2008.

And the south made the Democrats pay in 2010.  To the tune of 19 House members and a Senator lost.

After this week’s elections, the Democratic Party barely holds a presence in the region outside of majority-black urban areas such as Atlanta and Memphis. The carnage for the party was particularly brutal in the Deep South, where just one white Democrat survived across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

If I'm still teaching US History in 25 years - when I talk about 2010, it won't be about the "tea party" - it will be about the push/pull of racial politics in the US - it'll be about the Southern Strategy, about the questioning of the Civil Rights Act by a soon to be Senator from Kentucky, about talk of secession by the Governor of Texas, about lawsuits from southern, white Republican attorney generals to nullify federal legislation - about the systematic attempt to delegitimize the first black President since the day of his election - and about white, southern voters coming to the polls at the midterm to vote for Republicans. 

5. And I'll Probably Mention This

In 25 years, opposition to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell will look like opposition to the desegregation of the military.  Like opposition to the Civil Rights Act.  And the right wing then will attempt to say that they were the real proponents of gay rights, just as they attempt to say they were the real proponents of rights for blacks and women.  The right wing only exists because enough people lack the ability to separate facts from threats.

And the reaction from Christian hate groups will be treated the same way we treated those who opposed civil rights for blacks.

6.  Another Thought Experiment

This week, the Republicans blocked The Child Marriage Prevention Act.

This week, the Republicans blocked Health Benefits for 9-11 Responders.

Imagine if it were Democrats.  Imagine if it were Democrats.  How deeply burned into your brain would Fox News (with mainstream media right behind them) make these two votes - Democrats are pro child abuse; ten year olds are being forced into marriage and the Democrats don't care.  Brave Americans sacrificed on 9-11 and Democrats don't care.

Which was a bigger news story - that someone wanted to build a mosque near ground zero - or that Republicans blocked health benefits for 9-11 Responders?

Why do you suppose that is?  If the right wing wants a controversy - they get a controversy.  If the right wing wants the entire country talking about 9-11, it gets what it wants.

Or - consider Elizabeth Smart.

That's a tremendous Mother Jones piece about Mormons and child marriage - when Elizabeth Smart is kidnapped and held as a sexual prisoner, the way media processes that is that there are some evil, sick, twisted people in the world.

Here's the thing - those specific evil, sick, twisted people - sure did like to quote the Bible an awful lot.

Make it the Koran.  Make the kidnappers of Elizabeth Smart Muslim.  Make her a child bride taken because Allah requires it.

What is the story about then?  Just a random act of the sick, evil and twisted - unconnected with religion - unconnected with a bigger theme?  Is that the story?  Does anyone possibly believe that?

7. Sometimes They Tell the Truth
Spencer Bachus, the new chair of the Financial Services Committee, gave us a preview of how the Republicans will govern in the next Congress:

In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks,” 

8. But Generally They Lie
Non partisan Politifact named their Lie of 2010 this week.

So many to choose from.

But they chose government takeover of health care.

9. And Then C.T. Choked Everyone Out

An all woman team finally won the Amazing Race..  No, it's neither the game - nor the show - that MTV's Challenge is - but it's pretty damn good nonetheless.

10. The World Champion San Francisco Giants

This arrived at my house this week.

That's all for this time.  I'll see you next time...if there is a next time...

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