Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dubs; The Blogger to re-join the Capitalist Caliphate?

From Novato, and various other places in this god fucking forsaken San Francisco Bay Area, with this report, I'm Jeremy Schaaaaaap......ES.....PN:

A fog rolls through the valley here in the hills of Novato. Not even sure how the hell I got up here. Must have been a half hour hike through the rising sun. The climb up, up, up brings another bout of anxiety. I'm climbing a stairwell to hell once more, and I know it. 

When I arrive, Mesick asks me, "Thought you were bringing a plus one, Blogger!?"

"Yeah, Silverstein didn't feel well this morning."

"Figured you'd be bringing Silverstein and The Senor when you texted us last night."

"Yeah, The Senor ditched town to see the Mrs. Senor, and Silverstein bailed."

"They were talking about you having a girlfriend or something?"

"That didn't quite work out."

"The Blogger can't be tied down!"

"So true."

I don't want to embarrass myself in front of Mesick and his cha girl and their friends, in large part because they are two of the nicest people I've ever met. Still, it's hard to watch the Dubs go down 2-1. Draymond Green and Andre Igoudala can't shoot at all anymore, and Steph and Klay have gone cold. Andrew Bogut, our rim protector, is somehow not protecting the rim. It's a fucking lay-up line in The Grind House. Mo Speights and Leandro Barbosa can't really guard anyone. Shaun Livingston doesn't stretch the floor, and he really hasn't given us anything thus far in the postseason. David Lee is useless.

Offensively, it's really Steph and Klay and pray for rain. We are in deep trouble here, even if Mesick's boy is sounding an optimistic tune. I think we're done. You know you don't have much going for you in life when you're this wrapped up in a National Basketball League team in the National Basketball League.

The Warriors make a game out of it in Game 3 in Memphis, but lose by 10. I make the slog back to Petaluma happy that I didn't embarrass myself with my horrific, cynical pessimism too much. My name is my name, as Marlo Stanfield so eloquently puts it, after all.

The great thing about being unemployed is you can re-watch The Wire on Silvertein's HBO Go account. The bad thing about being unemployed is that you don't get a paycheck every two weeks. Had I known that, I'd have remained employed. That's on me. My bad. Let's get better today, tomorrow.

Which is why I'm so unhappy about the way I've handled myself for most of the last two years. My name is my name, and regardless of circumstances, I dragged that name through the mud at The Firm.

The Dubs rise again, winning three straight against Memphis to take the series and advance to the Conference Finals. Steve Kerr gets them to ramp up the defense, and the jimmies that didn't drop in Games 2-3 find the net in Games 4-6.

Watching Steph Curry flick threes through the net no matter the circumstances is the greatest argument I've ever heard to take Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It's as though he just flips it up and allows his faith to take care of the matter of whether or not the thing goes in as he runs back down the floor. I want to accept Christ as my Savior and fit into this world so badly, but no one wants to believe my lies anymore.

The next day, Sunday, my attorney finally graduates law school. Seems like she's been there forever. Now, we can sue The Firm for creating my anxiety, depression, and alcoholism that they refused to treat despite my many cries for help. Only, she won't take the case! And, to add injury to insult, her uncle's solution for the Warriors woes is to play David Lee more. I want to die. Tamara fades off towards sleep, much to the dismay of the Doc, who tells Tamara to wake the fuck up and plow a Four Loko as per the terms of the agreement of our friendship [ibid, see U.S. 1743&8, The Four Loko's Friendship vs. USA]. Sick and tired of everyone always abusing Tamara, I come to her defense and pour one out for all the good people we've lost. Tamara's always being like, you don't like be bro, but I'm being like: so untrue.

Not really sure where this was going. The Dubs won Game 1 in the Western Conference Finals tonight. As MAC would say, we are 28 defensive quarters of basketball away from being champions of The National Basketball League.

On Friday, I did like a three-hour hike and had lots of good thoughts to blog about. Then, when I sat down to write, it was total fucking shit. On Sunday, I brought The Senor out for a four-hour hike, looking for these stairs to the beach that I hiked with my attorney and High Pockets Boylan about five years ago, despite various bobcats trying to eat me, but I got lost this time and couldn't find the fucking beach and The Senor is about to die. We're running out of water so I give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and wonder if we should have met Von Leigh in that horseshit West Bay after all. My saliva brings him back to life, and we trudge back to the parking lot.

I try to write on Sunday night but it's even worse. Finally, I accept that for the better part of the last decade, I've been trying to be something I'm not.

I remember what my Prof said: thinking that there is some THEY out there who is doing this writing bullshit correctly is the ultimate poison; there is no right way to do this; only you can write the way you write; the map is not the terrain; trust your instincts.

Why am I trying to be something that I'm not? Why am I trying to be some joke paralegal when I'm the fucking Blogger?

No more regrets. The Firm wasn't deserving of this good of an employee. I feel like I miss-applied my energy. These motha-fuckas don't know how high I can fly.

My attorney always compared me to Michael Scott, but that's probably before I started this blog. Probably, she miss-under-estimated me. 

Hell, just last week I had lunch with The Chief over there at The Firm. He gave me my last paycheck on January 30, 2015 at 9 a.m., and yet I busted my ass until 3 that day. I could've bounced right then and there. If you didn't bill 6.0 hours or more on The Blogger's last day in the capitalist Caliphate, I'd suggest you review your timesheet and find some more billables that day. If some dangerous anarchist Communist fuck is billing more than you when he quit 6 months ago....

Holy hell, I think I'd be a better brain surgeon than a writer. Why the fuck didn't anyone take the pen away from me? Literally, you think this shit is easy, but there's nothing harder to do on the planet. It's a trap.

But the Dubs are up 1-0 in the Western Conference Finals, and I'm still kicking and screaming. So there's hope yet. Hell, had a job interview just today to rejoin the capitalist caliphate. Lastly, the rumors are untrue: there was no Silverstein hike today. That fat ass isn't in-shape enough to hike with The Blogger. Come ahhhhn. Don't be silly. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Song for Every Giant

When last we met, the San Francisco Giants were 4-10 and looking every bit as awful as the record showed, though I was singing an optimistic tune (for me) if only to be contrarian. Almost one month later, the Good Guys are 20-18, having gone 16-8 since that rough beginning. Over the weekend series on the banks of the Ohio River, the Giants clobbered the hell out of the ball and, suddenly, it looks like this is going to be an outstanding offensive club, AT&T Park be damned. Let's check in with the Giants hitters as we near the quarter-point of the season. 

San Francisco is 10th in OPS, 3rd in average, 5th in OBP, 16th in slug, 15th in walk rate, 6th in avoiding the whiff, 8th in wOBA, and 6th in WRC+. They currently have an above-average hitter at every spot except for the hot corner. Missin' you, Pablo. 

Mostly, this is just to point out that there's a sweet song for Nori Aoki. 

LF Nori Aoki  .291/.367/.378
Attack! Aoki
Spray the ball to all fields, our lead-off hitter
Take off! Norichika
Take your chances
Hit! Hit! Aoki!


2B Joe Panik .279/.354/.403
He's no average Joe!
Pride of Pouhgkeepsie 
Bat to Ball! Bat to Ball!
Handsome at the Keystone
We never panic. We Panik!

CF Angel Pagan .324/.347/.408
Run, Crazy Horse, run!
Flowing locks, flowing legs
He's no pagan
He's our Angel!

C Buster Posey .287/.359/.434
Oh, blessed Buster
Our Senator from Georgia
Hits them far and wide
Let's win it again!

1B Brandon Belt .321/.392/.509
The tall Texan
He can hit
Fear not the critics 
Haters gonna hate
Winners gonna win
Stay hot, meat! 


RF Hunter Pence .500/.556/1.000
Our fearless leader
Inspires us to ever greater heights
Unsound methods
Yield ever greater results 

SS Brandon Crawford .285/.380/.512
The most handsome shortstop in the land
Can now hit
Emotionless, hairy Buddha
Be an All-Star!

3B Casey McGehee .202/.255/.293 (12 double plays)
Casey at the bat!
Someone has to make the outs
Why not make two?

IF Matt Duffy .304/.341/.392
The Duff Man Cometh!
Fat cat, skinny man
Play that man, Boch!

OF Gregor Blanco .266/.356/.456
White shark in the waters
Blame Gregor First
Win Championships Next 

OF Justin Maxwell .248/.306/.396
Maxy! Maxy! Maxy!
He's our tall man with glistening white teeth
If he can't do it, Hunter can!

C Andrew Susac .212/.297/.333
Pride of Sacramento
Emulate Buster
Make us proud! 

IF Joaquin Arias .222/.222/.333
Hey, hey Joaquin!
Hey, hey Kobe!
Don't get DFA'd

Thursday, May 14, 2015

2015 Reading List

1) Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
2) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley 
3) The Lord of the Flies by William Golding 
4) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 
5) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
6) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

7) The Dubliners by James Joyce 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Electric Cherry 7 Up Acid Test

(Fictional) 

Driving in the traffic on the Bay Bridge, inching slowly forward, stuck, trapped, sweat forms on my clean-shaven upper lip, I'm turning ashen white, fear of my fears builds, stronger now, ever stronger, Tamara in the front seat is talking to me and I'm trying to listen but I'm worried about what she's going to do when I jump out of the car and begin throwing up. Is she equipped to deal with one of my panic attacks in the middle of this sea of angry, trapped commuters? The Doc has seen a few but she's a doctor and we went to pre-school together. My attorney just saw one--there we are, at the bar at Club Mallard, the first recorded episode in human history of someone suffering an anxiety attack from taking anti-anxiety medication--and she's a juris doctor now.

Traffic finally begins to move. Now it's the terrible feeling of being enveloped by these massive buildings of San Francisco. I hate this damn place. Why are those buildings so tall? You know that I've never liked heights. These cities just swallow me right up--I'm just a little guy you know.

Jesus, those massive buildings across the Bay, that mass of humanity underneath those skyscrapers--I still want to pull over and vomit. If we hit another traffic jam, I'll fall apart. I am the traffic in every way, not just as part of this Bay Area congestion but in succumbing to the traps I've set for myself. I am incapable of growth, unable to accept change. Everything changes; I live in a fantasy world where nothing can pass, nothing can change, and yet the time keeps passing me by.

At my attorney's apartment I skim the shelves for a book. I'll need a book to get through a two-hour ceremony of the Future Lawyers of America getting their names announced. Everyone is always doing something: working or getting advanced degrees or getting married or starting families or something. It jumps right out at me: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Had I given her this book? There's no inscription, no markings in the book--that isn't my style to give a book without the full imprint of my stain. Why I had liked this book so much when I was 18, when we were graduating high school? Is this book the reason I lost my mind then? I read through the first few pages. What did I ever see in this book? Tom Wolfe, had I really liked his stuff? That can't be right? Why can't I remember anything except the things I want so badly to forget?

I feel better now. I cling to the book. Only the book can save me now. Maybe I just liked the dark blue surrounding the light blue on the cover. Books are more beautiful in theory than in reality; they always look better than they really are. There's something oppressive, inhumane about the isolation of the whole fucking thing.

No, I remember swearing by the contents on the inside. In the middle of that flight from reality, I had stopped at Sometimes a Great Notion. The terrible depressiveness of that novel had convinced me, at age 19, to stop here, to go no Furthur with Ken Kesey, to get square with the world, to let go of any and all literary notions, to disavow fiction in favor of Reality. As if we can actually run from our demons, from who we are, for very long. What a nice notion that was, to think you could just swear off despair once and for all, to think that nine years later you wouldn't go back to the place on campus where you buried that book, dig it up, finish it, and realize that this man had horrible truths to tell you after all, to make you wonder what would it be like to wake up dead? Only, you don't want to wake up dead, you want so desperately to wake up alive and to cling to this horrible suffering for eternity.

Maybe God makes life harder as you get older so you won't fight it too much when it's time to go.

Sitting in that auditorium, hearing the platitudes of commencement, trying to read the book, trying to see without my glasses, trying to see through the fog of the fear of my fears, pissed off at the characters in the book who weren't so scared, I realized that my life was like a bad baseball team: it was only May but the season was already over, yet I had to somehow find a way to play out the string.

The anxiety comes back and you just ride that wave out, understanding that the only thing you're afraid of is yourself. The world has closed in on me like those massive, downtown San Francisco buildings outside. The more I ran from it, the tighter it squeezed, choking off all circulation, all hope of a real escape.

The final speaker is talking now and, suddenly, he's singing Stand By Me with two of his students.

When the night has come/and the land is dark/and the moon is the only light we'll see

The fear and the pain and the suffering is a good thing, I suppose. It's a penance for all that I've done wrong, that I continue to do wrong. It's a reminder that everyone else is suffering, too. It's a reminder that we've all been given that terrible, terminal, fatal sentence.

No, I won't be afraid, oh, I won't be afraid/Just as long as you stand by me, stand by me

How can I not be afraid? Who could possibly have the courage to become unafraid? Maybe the only real courage is getting so sick of the fear that you accidentally overcome it. Who can stand by me anymore?

I won't cry/I won't cry/no, I won't shed a tear

It feels so good to cry, it really does. I'm crying right now, I suddenly notice. Tears well up in my eyes as I try to pull it together. But it's so rare to see people behaving all human-like. Human beings gathered together, signing, celebrating--this is what it is to be alive, and to be alive might then be good instead of bad if that's the case.

The sun finally peers through the overcast sky when we get outside. Milling about, taking it in, doing nothing, taking pictures, trying to capture a moment of accomplishment. Back at the apartment, the scene reminds me of the wedding parties at the beginning of The Jungle or The Deer Hunter. A reserved excitement takes hold. This isn't the end of something, merely the beginning. Which also means there is more horror to come.

She pours a syrupy substance into four wine glasses. It looks like Cherry 7 Up.

"I can't drink this," I say.

"You can't drink Cherry 7 Up?"

"Sugar is an intoxicant. I was trippin' pretty bad earlier. That's two days in a row I've gotten teary-eyed in public. Got to get it together."

"You can drink Cherry 7 Up."

"Okay."

Four people sit in an apartment on top of the world sipping Cherry 7 Up. What is even in this stuff? How did they build this city with all those hills? Nothing makes sense to me.

There are certain truths you can't run from, certain ego-less moments of vulnerability that are fleeting glimpses into the truth of existence. Last call at the Club, no one is here now, sitting across from Silverstein, it's 2 a.m. almost, and I can feel the reality of all that I've done closing in on me like a ton of bricks. If only I'd have done that and not this, we wouldn't be here right now, lonesome and lost and unsure or maybe not even wanting to give it another go.

The Many, Many Problems with the Wells Report

I really didn't want to spend a huge chunk of time reading the Wells Report, but after the National Football League came down hard on the New England Patriots yesterday, I couldn't help but figure I was missing something. To suspend Tom Brady for a quarter of the season and then fine the club a million dollars while taking away a first- and fourth-round draft choice seemed draconian when the organization was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Report and there was no concrete evidence linking Brady to a conspiracy to deflate the balls.

After reading the Wells Report, I'm more convinced than ever that Brady likely had nothing to do with a conspiracy to deflate the balls prior to the AFC Championship Game, and I'm unconvinced that game-day attendant Jim McNally even deflated the balls during the minute and forty seconds he spent with them in the bathroom prior to the game. I don't believe that it's more probable than not that McNally deflated the balls in the bathroom, and I don't believe that it's more probable than not that Brady ordered McNally to do it or was generally aware of any wrongdoing, if the wrongdoing even exists. I have many reasonable doubts as to whether or not any wrongdoing took place. Even if wrongdoing took place, I have many reasonable doubts that Brady was involved or generally aware.

The Report attempts to prove Brady's involvement in a conspiracy by citing his 2006 lobbying effort to allow the visiting team to use their own balls, by citing past statements in which Brady said he preferred the balls to be inflated on the lowest end of the allowable spectrum, by citing text messages between McNally and assistant equipment man John Jastremski after a Week 7 game against the Jets in which Brady was displeased with over-inflated footballs, and finally, by attempting to establish a quid pro quo between Brady and McNally by citing text messages between Jastremski and McNally in which Jastremski talks about getting McNally some signed paraphernalia from Brady.

First, let's start with the biggest problem with the Report: even though the League was tipped off by Colts GM Ryan Grigson days before the AFC Championship Game about the Patriots possibly playing with under-inflated footballs, referee Walt Anderson didn't record the pre-game psi readings of the balls, and he didn't document which of the two available gauges he used. His recollection was that the Patriots balls were all around the minimum allowable level of 12.5 psi, while the Colts' balls were all around 13.0 psi. However, because Anderson had two different gauges, one of which produced lighter readings, and he didn't record which gauge he used and the measurements produced by the gauges, the half-time readings are fruit from a poisonous tree. The Report uses the half-time readings as gospel, but in reality, we have no real basis for comparison because no pre-game measurements were documented the way the half-time measurements were. Here is Mike Florio on pressure gauge gate:
The gauge with the logo and the longer needle generated higher measurements of the Patriots footballs at halftime, ranging from 0.3 PSI to 0.45 PSI higher for each of the 11 footballs. If that gauge — the one with the logo and the longer, crooked needle — were used to set the PSI for the balls before the game began, the measurements from that gauge are the right measurements to rely upon at halftime. And those measurements show that there was no tampering, because most of the footballs fell within the 11.52 to 11.32 PSI range for halftime, as predicted by the Ideal Gas Law.
Referee Walt Anderson didn’t clearly recall which gauge he used to set the pressure in the Patriots balls at 12.5 PSI before the game.  Page 52 of the Wells report reveals that it was Anderson’s “best recollection” that he used before the game the gauge with the logo and the longer, crooked needle. In other words, Anderson recalls using the gauge before the game that, based on the halftime measurements, leads to a finding of no tampering [emphasis mine].

So how did Ted Wells get around the “best recollection” of Walt Anderson? Wells persuaded Anderson to admit that it’s “certainly possible” he used the other gauge. And the company hired to provide technical support for the Wells report concluded based on a convoluted explanation appearing at pages 116-17 of the report that it is “more probable than not” that Anderson used the other gauge.

In other words, the Wells report concludes on this critical point that it’s “more probable than not” that Anderson’s “best recollection” was wrong.
The NFL is alerted to the possibility of tampering, but then its referee doesn't record the pre-game psi levels and which gauges were used. The Colts intercept a pass at the end of the half, measure the psi level of the intercepted ball, alert the League authorities about the under-inflated ball, and then the League decides to measure and record the psi measurements at the half. Those results, based on Anderson's best recollection as to which gauge he used before the game, don't prove tampering.

The Wells Report even admits that the scientific data doesn't definitely prove tampering: 
Our scientific consultants informed us that the data alone did not provide a basis  for them to determine with absolute certainty whether there was or was not tampering, as the analysis of such data is ultimately dependent upon assumptions and information that is uncertain.
The Wells Report doesn't even prove that tampering took place. In fact, the League comes off looking really bad here, even though Wells doesn't make any comment on that, presumably because the law firm tasked with writing the report was being made millions of dollars by the League. Why doesn't the Report criticize the League for changing the rules to allow road teams to bring their own balls in 2006? Why doesn't the Report criticize the League for allowing teams to prepare their own balls? Why doesn't the Report criticize the League for not taking the Grigson's warning seriously enough? Why doesn't the League criticize Anderson for not recording the psi levels before the game and losing custody of the balls before the game when he was made aware of Grigson's concerns? The League is made aware of possible tampering by the Patriots, the head referee doesn't record the pre-game measurements, then, in the most hilarious part of the report, the referees lose custody and can't find the balls before the game!

There is literally a section of the Report entitled "Anderson and Other Officials Cannot Locate the Game Balls" which states that, "When the remaining officials walked into the sitting room area on their way to the field, all four were surprised to find the ball bags were not there...Anderson also stated that 'we have to find the footballs.'"

The only the thing the report definitively shows is that the NFL didn't take the Colts allegations of possible tampering seriously enough to document the psi levels before the game, the NFL, for whatever reason, allows teams to provide their own game balls which is somehow Tom Brady's fault due to his 2006 lobbying effort, and McNally took the balls into a bathroom for one minute and forty seconds before bringing them onto the field on his own, which is a violation of protocol. McNally, Jastremski, and Brady apparently didn't admit to any wrongdoing, though the Report doesn't even specify if they were asked about conspiring to take air out of the balls before the game.

If there was a conspiracy to deflate the balls before the AFC Championship Game, wouldn't Jastremski and McNally have texted about it during the week the way they texted about the over-inflated balls in the Week 7 game against the Jets? Additionally, the Report proves that the Patriots were forced to play with over-inflated balls during that game. The referee added air to the balls before the game and then didn't re-measure the psi levels. When Jastremski measured the balls the following day, the psi level was 16, way over the allowable limit of 13.5. So, in Week 7, the league forced the Patriots to play with illegal footballs. Should Roger Goodell be suspended for a quarter of the season for that error in protocol?

Okay, so let's say that McNally did take those balls into the bathroom and let some air out before the game. Again, the Wells Report concludes that the scientific evidence doesn't prove that McNally tampered with the balls, but even if he did, there is no evidence linking Brady to a conspiracy.

Brady's 2006 lobbying effort, along with Peyton Manning, to allow the road team to prepare their own balls has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he was part of a conspiracy to take air out of the balls in the 2015 AFC Championship Game. His prior comments about liking lighter balls, and his frustration with the over-inflated balls in Week 7, do not prove that he conspired with McNally and Jastremski to take air out of the balls prior to the 2015 AFC Championship Game. Text messages between Jastremski and McNally about getting signed paraphernalia from Brady does not prove a quid pro quo. It's absolutely absurd to think that Brady would have to buy McNally off in order for him to take a little air out of the ball before a game. In fact, it's quite common for athletes to provide equipment staff with paraphernalia and other tips. 

I don't know what recourse the Patriots have here. Brady can and will appeal his suspension, but that won't get the Patriots their two draft picks and million dollar fine back. The Patriots and Brady erred in two ways according the the report: the club didn't make McNally available for a follow-up report with Wells because he had already been interviewed by NFL Security three times and the Wells group once; and Brady refused to turn over access to his text messages and e-mails in relation to the investigation. However, if McNally had been made available for a fifth interview and Brady had provided access to his electronic communications, the Wells Report likely would've used any additional findings to continue to build a circumstantial case around its pre-determined conclusion that McNally took air out of the balls in that bathroom before the game and that Brady was at least generally aware of the fact that rules would be broken.

In the end, it's clear to me that reasonable doubts exist about the Report's findings. In fact, the Report contradicts its own findings by admitting that the scientific evidence doesn't even prove tampering. If Anderson had used one gauge before the game and recorded the readings for both teams and then used that same gauge at half-time and recorded those readings which showed deflation beyond the Ideal Gas Law, we would have definitive evidence of tampering. But that didn't happen. Anderson didn't record the pre-game psi levels or the gauges used, his best recollection about which gauge he used indicates that no tampering took place, and thus, the half-time readings aren't proof of wrongdoing. Worse, the Report goes onto assume that tampering did occur despite reasonable doubts to the contrary, and then builds a bizarre case against Tom Brady based on a legal 2006 lobbying effort, legal and appropriate comments made about the way he likes footballs, text messages between Jastremski and McNally about Brady's frustration with league officials forcing him to play with over-inflated, illegal balls in Week 7, and text messages that the Report insinuates establish a quid pro quo between Brady and McNally/Jastremski: you guys illegally deflate the balls, and I'll get McNally some swag.

In the end, the only way justice could be served here is if all of the punishments are vacated. It is not more probable than not that wrongdoing took place. In fact, if Anderson's recollections are correct, it is more probable than not that no one did anything wrong. To add injury to insult, it is definitely more probable than not that Brady was unaware of any wrongdoing. In fact, how could Brady be aware of tampering if no tampering took place? How can the Report conflate a 2006 lobbying effort, which resulted in the League agreeing with Brady and changing the rules, with deflation of footballs? What does a legal lobbying effort have to do with Brady being generally aware of McNally taking footballs into a bathroom and letting air out of them? What does his desire for the balls to be on the low-end of the legal standard have to do with breaking the legal standard? And, how can you conflate the common practice of tipping team employees with evidence of a quid pro quo? To establish a quid pro quo, the Report would need some evidence of Brady telling Jastremski or McNally that he would provide them with compensation of some kind in return for them breaking the rules. No such evidence exists in the text messages between McNally and Jastremski.

If Brady conspired to break the rules, he should be punished. However, in the absence of concrete evidence linking him to a conspiracy, in the absence of concrete evidence that any tampering existed, there can be no punishment. Perhaps even more embarrassingly for the League, the Report exonerates head coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots of any wrongdoing, and yet the League decided to punish the organization in addition to Brady. This would be the equivalent of fining the Seattle Seahawks and taking away draft picks when a few of their players got popped for PED use, or punishing the 49ers when a few of their bad apples kept running into off-field problems. In those cases and in other instances of individual wrongdoing, the League only punishes the individuals involved. In this case, even though the League's commissioned Report indicated no wrongdoing by anyone other than Brady, Jastremski, and McNally, the League punished the Patriots for failing to provide McNally for another interview and for Spygate, even though that matter was adjudicated and resolved in 2007.

What does Spygate have to do with this incident? Absolutely nothing. Does the Wells Report prove that tampering took place? It doesn't. Does the Wells Report prove Brady was involved with tampering? Of course not, because it doesn't even prove tampering took place.

That's no matter for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, however. Despite the facts in the Report the League paid for, the conclusion was that tampering took place and Brady was aware of it. Instead of punishing Brady for his alleged actions, Goodell decided to punish the team, even though the Report clears the organization of wrongdoing. Facts are no matter for this Commissioner, and the Patriots are paying a steep price for something that, more probably than not, didn't even happen.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Broken Ones

First, Deflate Gate. What a fucking unbelievable farce. You have got to just be absolutely fucking kidding me. On Saturday night, I'm at Redacted's house trying to watch Tom Brady watch the big fight in Vegas, trying to get a Rodney for god's sake, and Redacted's boy tells me in regards to my love for Brady and the Patriots, "They're cheaters; they cheated."

Americans aren't a particularly bright lot. We'll believe just about anything without questioning it or thinking too hard about it. To think critically in this country isn't allowed anymore. We're a bunch of goddamn Buddhists trained to think not thinking I suppose. That, or any sophistication might cause our heads to explode.

If some fuckoff lawyer gets paid $2,000 an hour by the National Football League to tell our dumb asses that Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the four-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are cheaters, we'll accept that without really looking into it.

In 2007, we filmed the New Jersey--you assholes play in New Jersey, not Manhattan--Jets in front of 60,000 people, and I've spent the last eight years being constantly reminded that we are a bunch of cheaters by people like Redacted's buddy. The first thing I want to make clear is that Deflate Gate and Spy Gate and Watergate do not bother me. I just really couldn't care less. This is not ISIS. This is not the Caliphate. Though, of course, as we speak, our tax dollars are hard at work bombing the living hell out of the Caliphate, long-term consequences and blowback be damned. But all that--wondering if maybe the violence of our representatives in Washington is begetting ever more violence while the private manufacturers of weapons profit--is a hell of a lot less interesting than Tom Bray and his balls.

This is the National Football League. What bothers me in regards to the NFL is the league covering up the concussion crisis for years, the carnage of the sport, and the off-field incidents such as Aaron Hernandez being a murderous psychopath. It bothers me greatly that my favorite team drafted, employed, and even extended that guy. That was the real massive failure by the organization. We should not employ people like that. But filming the other team's signals? Taking a little air out of the ball when the League is stupid enough to allow its teams to bring their own balls to the contest and maintain custody of the balls after they are weighed? Please. Give me a fucking break. I hope we're doing more than just filming signals and walk-throughs and deflating footballs. I hope we're bugging the other 31 teams' offices. Just about whatever it takes to win on Sundays, I'm good with.

If you really want to know the truth about it, all these madman, anarchist beliefs of mine began when I was in the 8th grade. We had a free-reading period in the afternoon and, one day, I brought in The Catcher in the Rye. The teacher held me in after the free-reading period a few days later to inform me that I was no longer to bring that book because it was making me "jaded and cynical." I can't remember if I forgot to bring the book home or if I decided to openly defy that bullshit order. Either way, when I kept reading Holden Caulfield's samizdat the next day, I came back from PE class to a detention on my desk. I walked up to the teacher after school that day and asked, "What's this?"

She replied, "It's a detention for continuing to read that book."

I got the last word in by telling her, "You'll be hearing from my lawyer on this."

Well, technically, she got the last word because that comment earned me a second detention. Still, who the fuck tells a 14-year-old kid they can't read The Catcher in the Rye? Some rules and orders are just begging to be broken. Some authority figures don't take the responsibility of their power seriously enough to warrant anyone's respect.

The National Football League headquarters in Manhattan, led by the incompetent clown Rodger Dodger Goodell and a cadre of various other overcompensated, empty suits, do not warrant the respect of a first-class organization like the New England Patriots. The greatest coach and QB of all time don't need to spend their time bowing to a joker like that. Goodell is a goddamn clown, the Wells Report isn't--more probably than not--worth the 243 pages it was written on, and no one is vacating Brady's rings.

You know who the real cheater here is? Goodell. He's stealing $44 million a year to mishandle every single situation that arises. Millions of people don't tune in to watch Goodell fumble his way through crisis after crisis, though Deflate Gate is only a crisis in that the League decided to make it one. No, they tune in for Super Bowl Sunday and, more likely than not, they'll find Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots playing in that game. If some rules had to be broken or bent--whether in actuality or in Wells' insane alternative reality where things are more probable than not regardless of the evidence gathered--even better. The integrity of the game? I think that went out the door when the League spent decades in denial about the concussion crisis. These guys are worse than Big Tobacco. At least consumers had some choice in the matter of whether or not to smoke. The National Football League's employees weren't given any choice. The League didn't want anyone to know just how dangerous their game was. It's a calculus that worked, too: they can afford to pay billions to attempt to make right the wrongs of their cover up, and we just keep on watching, safe and secure in our moral superiority because we aren't cheaters like those bastards up in New England.

Brady is a handsome, multi-millionaire married to a super model. He is better than just about everyone in every single way. He probably works twice as hard as you. If he ordered McNally to take those footballs into the bathroom and deflate them after the referees weighed them, well, the Wells Report was unable to prove that claim. There's no testimony from McNally indicating that's what he even did in the bathroom, and he certainly didn't say that Brady told him to do anything to the balls. There are no text messages. There's no actual evidence of any wrongdoing by anyone. Wells' belief that it's more probable than not that McNally took a needle to those balls at Brady's behest or with Brady's general knowledge is just that: a belief. It's not something his report proved in the slightest.

You're entitled to believe in Wells' opinion of the issue. Just don't tell me that "Brady cheated" or that the Patriots are "cheaters." You can't prove it and, even if you could, I don't give a fucking shit. I doubt that you're in any way morally superior to Brady whether or not he played half of one football game with balls weighing below the legal threshold. Of course, when the balls were re-inflated at halftime, Brady and the Patriots were suddenly awful, as they were only able to outscore the Colts 28-0 in the second half. And, in the Super Bowl, when the balls were presumably more closely monitored by the League, Brady was only able to deliver one of the greatest performances in Super Bowl history during the 4th quarter. After Spy Gate, the Patriots preceded to win 17 straight football games before losing in the Super Bowl. I just can't wait until our next scandal: you can tell me that my favorite team is a bunch of cheaters as if I'm a fucking moron unable to comprehend your brilliant epiphany that the Patriots have bent or broken some rules and then, on Sundays in the Fall, we'll go on winning football games while your favorite team respects the integrity of the game and goes 8-8 again while dealing with a constant stream of inquiries from the Santa Clara County DA's office. Keep losing with class, Niners fans. It's a good look on you. Anyone else get sued or arrested today?

---

Hated to have had to get that out but you people do this to me. You really do. I'm not kidding. I mean, it's okay since I don't hate anyone as much as I hate myself, but still. Clean this shit up. You've got to get past this "Bonds cheated" "Beli-cheat" "Brady cheated" "Clinton cheated" "Mark wrote those blogs and threw temper tantrums" nonsense. You could really get a nosebleed up their on your high horse. You could also fall off and injure yourself. My integrity is fucking intact. I billed six goddamn hours on my last day and I'm ready to go bill twice that right now, motherfuckers.

And so but the real reason I wanted to sit down today and have one of our little chats here is because I've noticed you reading this blog and, quite frankly, it's making you jaded and cynical.

---

The other day I went to watch the Doc get some award for being, like, an awesome PhD Prof or whatever. Now, the original pretense for my and my attorney's invite was that I'd be available in the middle of the day since I'm unemployed and there'd be booze there. There wasn't any booze there. Normally, I don't feel too good in public without some type of intoxicant to make reality bearable. But, for whatever reason, I felt okay that day. It was a Tuesday. Maybe Tuesday's are alright. Or maybe my attorney puts me at ease. I don't think she reads this bullshit but if so that better have been cringe-inducing.

Some bloke from across the pond got up there and said a lot of words signifying nothing before a bunch of PhD's with four times my IQ were rewarded for their brilliance while I had to sit there and wear the whole thing like the unemployed blogger I'd become. Everyone just went ape shit when the English lady finished her lecture on the importance of, like, giving these poor bastards some awards instead of better compensation for their labor. I refused to clap just because everyone else was clapping. She hadn't said anything worthy of an ovation for god's sake. I turned to my attorney and said, "Congratulations. You said a lot of words."

"You're a jerk."

I'm not sure when she's going to get over labeling every damn thing like that. All's I know is that society is conferring a law degree on her soon despite inaccurate statements like that.

Unreal.

---

No, no, no. That's not it. This is horseshit drivel again. Fucking hell.

One Friday a few months back, the Doc, my attorney, Tamara, and Mike, the whole goddamn bunch, drove up Grizzly Peak Boulevard into Oakland to watch the sun set. We were sitting up their on some stone bench with a view of the whole Bay Area--Memorial Stadium just below, the Bay Bridge in the distance, the Golden Gate behind the setting sun to the West--while drinking some Bud Lights or some such piss. There were these two rather cute girls sitting to our left, so I sat between my group and the two girls, just in case. I didn't want to get too close and I was trying to participate in two conversations at the same time, but I could hear the girls talking about going to Temple and God and whatnot. I think they must've been in college. I can never tell how old anyone is. This one girl, the blonde, kept saying to the other girl, the brunette, "I know it's terrible, but..." And then she'd gossip about other people in their group who were, in her view, more probably than not boning down.

To my right, my attorney, unaware of the strict religious views of the people to her left, was talking about her distaste for Evangelical Christians. Which was funny, because she's a pretty good person and not actually a secularist bigot. She was just chewing the fat and making a mindless statement at a rather inopportune time.

But for whatever reason, that scene has stuck with me because I remember thinking in that moment: we all need something. We're all desperately searching for that something which gives our existence meaning and purpose. At that time I was in the throes of one of my searching benders--seeking things outside myself which were always elusive. I had the sense that the girls to my left, despite their religious observances, were similarly dissatisfied. I mean, not to the extent that I was, but they came across in their conversation as being conflicted, uncertain, slightly trapped by wanting things they knew to be wrong.

We are all the broken ones, forever searching for that ultimate future escape that gives us salvation from our ultimate expiration. I know that must be true because writing it is setting off another one of them fits of anxiety. Who wouldn't choose to believe lies over the truth of death? I keep having those fucking panic attacks. During one of them, I truly thought I was going to die. And, in that moment when I was sure I'd come to the end, I could only cling to those rare moments where I didn't feel lonesome as hell.

2013-15 Goodreads Reading List

2015

1) Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
2) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley 
3) The Lord of the Flies by William Golding 
4) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 
5) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
6) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
7) The Dubliners by James Joyce

2014

1) American Pastoral by Philip Roth
2) The Human Stain by Philip Roth
3) I Married a Communist by Philip Roth
4) Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth
5) Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
6) The Counterlife by Philip Roth
7) Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Short Stories by Philip Roth 
8) Baseball Prospectus 2014
9) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
10) Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs by Hunter S. Thompson
11) Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson
12) The Stranger by Albert Camus
13) The Fall by Albert Camus
14) The Plague by Albert Camus
15) Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
16) To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
17) The Trial by Franz Kafka
18) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller 
19) A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
20) October, 1964 by David Halberstam  
21) The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac  
22) Redeployment by Phil Klay
23) Big Sur by Jack Kerouac  
24) Up, Up, & Away by Jonah Keri 

2013

1) Baseball Prospectus 2013 
2) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
3) East of Eden by John Steinbeck
4) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
5) Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger 
6) Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey
7) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card  
8) Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. by Rob Delaney 
9) The Plot Against America by Philip Roth 
10) The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
11) American Pastoral by Philip Roth