The Birthday Confessions Of A Sports Writer

Nothing will ever beat this game.

So I turned —- today (you’ll never get my age ever in life), and I’m currently nursing a hangover thanks to the normal heavy dosage of liquor consumption made possible by my friends (raspberry rum and soda and raspberry vodka and soda are two totally different entities, ugh).

This is hardly the condition I should be in to write a blog especially when there isn’t much to discuss right now.

However, in this silly mind of mine I decided to give you some of my sports confessions.

We as sports writers get our favoritism, views and beliefs in sports at a young age and two things happen; either you stick to your guns or you switch up sides.

I’m the latter of this. Truth is my New York sports bias is a recent thing. I used to…

Wait, let’s do this in a proper numerical style. I mean why give you a drawn out explanation then get into the confessions? I think we’ll do 24 facts, not my age but the number I wanted to wear if I ever got to play with Michael Jordan as a kid because 23 was sort of taken.

1. I hated New York sports teams growing up

Giants, hated them. Yankees, they sucked. Mets, them too. Knicks, yuck. Rangers… That’ll be number two.

My mom forged my sports life as a kid. I loved who she loved because she was a sports nut. She loved Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, and the Mets. All I knew was the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, baseball cards and that NY sucked.

I actually cried when the 49ers lost to the Giants in 1991 when they were trying to three-peat. That seems so weird now especially now that I scream at Eli Manning every two seconds and own 8 giants jerseys.

This is how I got into hockey.

(my favorite sports moment is still Super Bowl 23. Me and my mom watched that game on the couch together with me curled up underneath her. As Montana led the 49ers up the field on that last late fourth quarter drive my mom and I slowly pulled away from each other and moved closer to the TV until Montana hit John Taylor for the winning score. You should’ve seen us scream and parade around our house like we had won the Super Bowl. That will never be beat.)

2. I used to hate hockey.

I mean I’m black and from the projects in Brooklyn, NY. My mom hated hockey and so did I. She always thought it was a dumb sport and there were no black players so there was no point for it. Since I followed her lead with everything (except the mets, I wasn’t that dumb) I followed that philosophy.

Then the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup and I watched it all. That hooked me.

I was in Washington D.C. when it happened but I felt the energy of New York. I learned about the 54 year curse, how much of a hockey city New York actually is and how truly bad ass Mark Messier truly was.

After that run you couldn’t pull me away from a hockey game. Even when the New Jersey Devils killed hockey in the late 90’s I was still into it heavy.

(I guess you could say the Rangers made me a New York fan. After that run in 94 I felt that I had to like all New York teams because how could I like teams from other cities when I was a true New Yorker?)

3. I was a Michigan fan growing up. (Florida State too.)

In New York there was no college team team in the area that drew attention. Every Saturday the TV selections were Notre Dame, Florida State on ESPN and the Big Ten on ABC with Michigan on every single week.

Truth is I always wanted to go to Michigan. I loved the colors, the fight song, Brian Griese, Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson… And the fab five… And Glen Rice’s performance against Seton Hall in 1989….

I still have more great Michigan memories than Ohio State memories… AND I WENT TO OHIO STATE!!!

I could point out moments in great games like the Rose Bowl in 1997 versus Washington State, I cried when Kordell Stewart’s hail Mary beat Michigan in the Big House, I was so happy when we got revenge in Boulder some years later…

I should probably stop there before all of my Ohio State buddies kill me.

4. I never truly liked Tiger Woods

HELLLLOOOO HEISMAN!

There was always something off about him to me. He was too pristine, too clean. Me being from the projects I felt as though with black men there had to be some nasty streak in you somewhere. Jordan had one, Michael Irvin too, Jerry Rice was a prick at times but Tiger was too perfect.

I didn’t like how he always won and how everyone jumped on his bandwagon. I didn’t like how black people crowned him as our king of the moment when he didn’t seem interested in being black (whatever that means) I just never liked him.

When this scandal tore him down I laughed at him, but it didn’t bother me too much. It was just another athlete taking a nose dive. I don’t feel bad for him, I don’t care that he’s not playing well and honestly I dont care if he ever does again.

5. Maryland made me love Duke

I used to be the biggest Duke hater alive… They beat UNLV when I loved Larry Johnson, they prevented the Fab Five from winning a title, The Laettner shot that beat Kentucky made me want to stab myself… and I couldn’t believe that this many white guys were good at basketball and that they kept beating brothers.

(side note 2: for Grant Hill and coach K to criticize Jalen Rose for saying that Hill was an Uncle Tom because he played at Duke was silly. Everyone in the projects felt like that. We liked Kenny Anderson, baggy shorts and baldies. Hill and any other Dukie was a sellout to us. How could they play with all of these white boys and not there own people? Do I think like that now? Of course not. I understand what coaching can do and that you can ball no matter the color. But still you can’t criticize a guy for saying something that the majority of people like him felt was true.)

Then I moved to Maryland where they hate anything New York; Yankees, Jets, Metrostars it didn’t matter. I didn’t understand the hatred because one, New York wasn’t their rival in anything and two, because it didn’t make sense. It got to the point where I kept hearing Yankees this, Giants that, blah blah blah that I got angry and said that I would hate the Terrapins just out if spite.

And who do Terps fans hate more than anything?… Duke.

So there I was cheering for Duke, the team I always hated but because I wanted to piss Marylanders off I was forcing myself to like.

That’s when I fell in love with Jay Williams, Shane Battier and Carlos Boozer and they had me hooked.

It was Williams especially because he was a Jersey kid and I always liked guys from my neck of the woods. I loved his game, fearlessness and how he ate the Terps for lunch. His ten points in 58 seconds still makes me laugh.

Watching Maryland fans whine and cry more than made up for the Yankees not winning a World Series for ten years.

6. I didn’t care that Brett Hull’s skate was in the crease.

The skate had nothing to do with the goal. Get over it Buffalo.

Dumbest… Rule… Ever!!! So many goals were disallowed because of that dumb rule that never should have been made because half of the time the skates never interfered with the goalie.

Did Hull affect Hasek’s angle? No. Did Hull interfere with Hasek? No. Did he skate in late and come up on the side if Hasek an nothing to do with the goal? Yes.

Ok then. Sorry Buffalo deal with it.

7. My least favorite sports moment as a kid was watching my Oakland A’s get swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

How did Eck, Dave Stewart, Rickey Henderson and my favorite player Mark McGwire not only lose but look awful against the Reds? Was Jose Rijo that good? How about Chris Sabo and Eric Davis? That was the first time in my life where I went to school the next day after a game and couldn’t stop thinking how in the hell that just happened.

The A’s were so much better, they had the pitching, the hitting and the power and they lost to The Nasty Boys?

I need a juice box.

8. Syracuse-Georgetown is the best basketball rivalry in college basketball

John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Billy Owens, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Sherman Douglas, technical fouls, physical basketball, a loud Carrier Dome and an even louder Capital Center… God I love the Big East.

9. I will always hate Texas A&M football

Why? Because they screwed Michael Bishop out of everything.

A title, a Heisman, and a pro career.

I only watched Kansas State because of Bishop and his speed, arm and instinct. I couldn’t name another Wildcat from that team but I just loved Bishop.

I didn’t care that he was six feet tall or needed some fine tuning. I just knew that once K-State got to the National Championship all the world would see his skill…

And Sirr Parker killed that.

I’m glad the SEC said no to you.

10. I really don’t care who did steroids in baseball

It was legal and it brought the game back.

Where would baseball be if Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa didn’t have their home run chase?

Steroids or not that was a magical summer where everyone sat in front if the television and their lives hinged on every at bat. It was awesome; McGwire found the fountain of youth, Sosa emerged as a superstar and the game was popular again.

As much as everyone hides it we love baseball. We all played it, watched it live and have fun at the yard whenever go. The game was suffering well after the strike of 1994 it needed a boost and this was it.

Yeah he did steroids... he also saved baseball.

Did the use get out of control? Yes, but to me it was worth it and I’ll always remember the summer of 1998 as the summer that baseball truly came back.

11. Steffi Graf is my least favorite athlete ever.

She beat Monica Seles who was my favorite women’s player at the time, she beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, she won seemingly every tournament she played and won with ease.

She wasn’t snooty, had no mean strike, no off the court issues… nothing.

She was just a machine, a well-oiled wrecking ball that made Saturday’s at Roland Garros and Wimbledon no fun to watch because you knew she was going to win.

She was the Bulls before the Jordan, golf before Tiger and Yankees before their rise…

And she was a total class act. That’s why I hated her I guess.

12. The only reason why I hate The Pittsburgh Steelers is Super Bowl 40

The Seahawks played against 17 men at a time, the Steelers and the refs. Quite honestly the worst called game ever and the Steelers acted like nothing happened. I still want Mike Holmgren to body slam Bill Cowher.

13. If Ohio State plays Syracuse in anything… I’m cheering for Syracuse

Buckeye Nation is really going to kill me.

Now I was a Michigan fan and I loved the Seminoles but I always wanted to be an Orangeman (and I would’ve if tuition wasn’t $42,000 a year).

Of course in basketball I loved the Orange and always will, however I like Syracuse football as much as I love OSU football.

Those were the Donovan McNabb days when he was slinging it to Marvin Harrison. I had a man crush on McNabb because he was just a beast. He could run it, throw it and make a three pointer every once in awhile. He was the first in the era of the scrambling QB and he made it work.

Harrison I thought was going to be the next Jerry Rice, and he almost was. He made everything look easy and could catch any ball thrown at him. With those two guys I thought it was the beginning if a dynasty at The Cuse on the field…

But we know how that went.

Fast forward to this year and The Cuse is on its way back. Coming off of an 8-5 year Syracuse has an outside shot at the Big East and could win 9 games. I’m honestly more excited for Orange football than Buckeye football.

Maybe it was the scandal, the tats, the selling of rings but I’m over it. I want to cheer for something I can believe in and right now my childhood favorites are trending up. I’m not totally abandoning Ohio State, but if they square off against the Orange I might be in a Syracuse Marathon Men shirt.

I’m looking so bad to the alumni right now.

My man Donovan.

14. I laughed at The Knicks when Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 17 seconds

I mean it was funny.

15. I still think the Ravens fixed Super Bowl 34

THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT BALTIMORE CAN SCORE 34 POINTS!!!! ESPECIALLY AGAINST A TOP FIVE DEFENSE!!! AND I’M STICKING WITH THAT!!!!

16. My first pair of basketball kicks weren’t Jordan’s… They were Ewing’s

That orange and blue with the basketball hanging off the side… C’mon son! They were way fresher than the Jordans.

17. As much as I loved Mark Messier my favorite Ranger is Adam Graves

You ever date a girl who isn’t prettier than other girls that you’ve dated, doesn’t have big boobs, doesn’t have a great body, but makes you happy and does all the little things? That’s Adam Graves. He wasn’t as well known as Messier or Brian Leetch, he wasn’t as rough as Jeff Beukeboom and he wasn’t Mike Gartner fast.

But he always scored goals when you needed them, always killed penalties well and always laid it out in the ice. I was more upset when we traded him to San Jose than when Wayne Gretzky retired… true story.

18. The first game that made me throw a violent tantrum and had me cursing up a storm was the Mariners-Yankees ALDS game 5 in 1995.

Literally cursed so loud that my mom barged into my room and caught me about to tear into my book bag.

I hate that the M’s got into the playlets in the first place with that late season run (I was cheering for then to make it at first because I loved Ken Griffey Jr… Learned that lesson) I hate that Randy Johnson was so unhittable and I hate Jack McDowell because he had no business being out there amongst other reasons for hating him.

When we fired Buck Showalter at the end of the year I was part pissed and part happy. I was happy he was gone but mad that he cost us so many games including that one.

19. Pete Sampras- Andre Agassi is still my favorite sports rivalry.

This was the first sports thing that me and my mom went at each others throats about. She loved Agassi, the image, the hair, the return game and that he seemed like a down to earth guy. I liked Sampras’s nerve, his serve, the way that he played the game. He was the first cerebral athlete that I admired because he always seemed in control.

She called Sampras snooty, I called Agassi a punk, yeah a tennis rivalry broke up our house, weird I know.

It was the tennis that was so great. They were constantly gunning for each other and only measured themselves against each other. Jim Courier, Boris Becker. Stefan Edberg, none of them mattered. Sure they were good competition but Sampras only cared about Agassi and vice versa

You know these Roger Federer- Rafael Nadal matches? Those were three to four times a year for Sampras and Agassi or so it seemed. They were epic and just had you sitting on your hands past the third set.

Man did they hate each other.

They wanted to kill each other I thought. It was the perfect match if wits; Sampras and his finesse versus Agassi and his power. The series never tilted too far in one way. Sampras won his titles as did Agassi but Each has their own bragging point; Sampras won 7 Wimbledon crowns the most ever while Agassi has the career slam.

(side note 3: you know how I know this rivalry was really nasty? Last year in a charity match Sampras teamed with Federer to take on Agassi and Nadal. Agassi and Sampras traded barbs that were more than just smack talk. The crowd and Federer and Nadal just stood there with the crackers looks on there faces. I guess time doesn’t heal all wounds.)

20. The biggest choke job I ever saw was at the 1994 World Cup when Roberto Baggio missed a wide open net in penalty kicks costing Italy a chance at beating Brazil

I didn’t understand soccer at the time and didn’t like it… But even I was saying to myself “how did he miss that?”

21. As much as I hate the SEC, Nebraska is still my least favorite college team

They are still the most overrated program ever. They never threw the ball and no one could stop them. I remember watching the 1996 National Title game against Florida (who I also hated thanks to my allegiance to Florida State) and watch them beat down a team that beat down everyone and I couldnt understand it.

That Tommie Frazier run was the perfect example. You know option right was their bread and butter, they were in position had him stopped, yet 65 yards later the Huskers were up 62-24.

I can’t believe in 1994 that Nebraska and Penn State both finished undefeated but Nebraska won the outright title. PENN STATE WOULD HAVE KILLED THEM!!! Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter and Kyle Brady along with that defense would’ve stopped that option I guarantee it.

Same with the split tile in 1997 with Michigan. Michigan was definitely the better team and had a better defense. However, everyone loved Nebraska, the loved Tom Osbourne a his gimmick offense. It ticks me off and I hope Ohio State beats them by 80 this year.

(by the way, you know what could’ve solved the issues of 1994 and 1997? A playoff… Just saying)

22. I still get nervous when I see a Florida state kicker kick

Wide right… Wide right 2… Wide left… That’ll do it to you.

Ugh!

23. I used to love Cal Ripken Jr an thought he was the greatest shortstop ever…

Then I moved to Maryland and heard about Cal so much that I wanted to puke… oh and Derek Jeter happened.

Cal made me want to be a shortstop. He hit for power, drove in runs and was great defensively. He had the iron man streak and everything pulled me in.

I had a serious collection of Cal Ripken cards that I wouldn’t sell for anything…

Then I got older and studied the game more and realized that he was alright.

One, that streak is the most overrated streak ever in sports. Of those 2600+ games only 200 of them were meaningful. He trotted out for so many bad teams and bad years that really the streak took on it’s own life because that’s all there was in Baltimore.

When you look at Brett Favre’s streak in the NFL it is way more impressive because Favre played in title games, won 3 MVP’s, went to the playoff in all but 3 or 4 years and carried his team to victory. Ripken wasn’t even close.

Then there was the fact that he wasn’t a great hitter. He always hovered around .275 and once his power went so did he.

Then there’s this fact… for all of the mess about Derek Jeter’s defense did you know that Ripken has more career errors, more 20+ error seasons and a lower fielding percentage than Jeter.

Maybe we should steer some of this overrated talk in Cal’s direction.

Ripken was good but he isn’t Jeter. Jeter has played in way more important games, come through in the clutch too many times and has made more ridiculous plays than Ripken ever did.

It’s not even close as to who’s better. Jeter is hitting almost .300 and playing decent defense at shortstop at age 37, Ripken was already tanking.

I’m sorry Maryland and baseball critics, Ripken was highly overrated. It just took me a few years to figure it out.

24. My middle school teacher Ms Rodriguez first put it in my head that I should be a sports writer.

We had a project where we had to write something and put it into summary form for class. I used the NHL all-star game for my project. I watched the entire thing took notes, wrote a three page report and talked about in threw minutes or less highlighting Owen Nolan’s hat trick (I still don’t know how he didn’t win MVP that year, the game was in San Jose… He was a Shark… silly voters),

Needless to say I got an A and she, as well as my classmates were really impressed. She told me to stick with it and that I would be a really good writer one day.

Overrated.

I hope she’s right. Writing a blog hungover while spilling your sports guts isn’t fun. However it may be worth it in the end and I might have many more happy birthdays in my future.

Thanks for reading and supporting the blog so far and letting me spew my ridiculousness for all the world to see. Now if you’ll excuse me my hangover is gone and I’m going to try to get a new one.

I might need a few drinks once I hear it from Buckeye fans about what I said.

Sometimes confessions should stay secret.

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About brooklynbuckeye


3 responses to “The Birthday Confessions Of A Sports Writer

  • Bobby Charts

    My man, awesome stuff, i could not stop reading, too funny, i loved it!!!
    and it is funny how we change our teams sometimes from little kids just follwing whos good at the time, lol.
    i was a cowboy fan , then a niner fan, then a cowboy fan, and then a niner fan, lol.

  • Andrew

    As always… great writing. Sports are such a wonderful event and pouring ones heart into their favorite experiences always add a great addition.

    PS- McNabb fan? Interesting.

  • thenewsofsports

    Great article. Couldn’t stop reading. Interesting facts, especially that you rooted for Michigan growing up and then went to Ohio State.

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