Nobody Circles the Wagons Like Mark Few Supporters

Posted in Uncategorized on January 7, 2011 by La Rev

“Oh, Judge.  I don’t keep score.”
“Then how do you measure yourself against other golfers?”
“By height.” –Caddyshack

Almost entirely, milestones in sports are meaningless.  The idea that a player or a team getting to point x or point y actually matters was invented by sports writers who, as is their nature, needed something about which to talk.  Because sports fans are forever all too willing to talk about whatever sports writers tell them to, those made-up milestones (also referred to as “plateaus,” as in, “Congrats, Jimmy!  You’ve finally made it to the top of the plateau!”) get talked about and talked about until pretty soon, they morph into actual ways of measuring an athlete.  Don’t have 300 career wins, Mr. Baseball Pitcher?  Good luck making the Hall of Fame any time soon.  Fell just short of 1,000 yards rushing for the season, Mr. Football Running Back?  You’ll have to forgive us if we laugh at your terribleness. Of course none of these arbitrary plateaus actually determine an athlete’s worth, but we keep talking about them as if they do.  And like every milestone, Mark Few’s 300 career wins (a number he reached just last week) is totally meaningless as anything other than a talking point for Joe Zag Fan in all his forms.  Then again, because it is Joe Zag Fan doing the talking, those 300 wins, and the way Joe believes in their validity as a measuring stick, mean everything.

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Reexamining My Own Expectations for the First Time

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 by La Rev

Note: The column will be taking the next two weeks off for the Christmas and New Year holidays.  Look for a new column Friday, January 7.

“Planet earth was my place of birth/Born to be soul controller of the universe.” — Rakim

Now that this season’s wheels have fallen off and all seems lost, Joe Zag Fan comes in two forms: Pissed Guy and Resigned Guy.  Living by the motto, “Crap, these guys are terrible,” Pissed Guy has decided that the Zags are, well, terrible.  He focuses on their faults, which (especially the more he focuses on them) are many, and looks ahead at the coming schedule and predicts twelve losses at the least.  They’ll probably miss the Tournament, and will be passed up in the WCC by Saint Mary’s, which is way tougher, greater, awesomer (and more Australian) than these Zags could ever dream of being.  On the other hand, Resigned Guy has also figured this season is lost, but he’s quickly moved from that realization onto the one that next year’s team will be totally kick-ass.  He thinks this year’s Zags are just three recruits (currently playing high school basketball for some high school team in some high school basketball gym somewhere) away from righting the ship.  He’s resigned to the opinion that this year’s team has a ceiling somewhere around a first round Tournament exit, but that’s OK because next year’s will be back to competing for the world.  Any of this stuff is probably natural for a program ten games into a downturn; I’m sure Joe Tarheel Fan came in pissed and resigned editions a few years ago as well.  But I feel like with Joe Zag Fan, the issue is much more an issue of makeup, and that makeup is a result of something Joe never addressed at his birth: his expectations for the team and where his idea of success fits within those expectations.

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Prisoners of Our Past

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2010 by La Rev

“We’ve created [a] standard for Zag teams based on the past.  All Josh Heytvelts must be Casey Calvarys and Ronny Turiafs.  All Jeremy Pargos must be Dan Dickaus and Blake Stepps.  All Micah Downses must be Erroll Knights and all Austin Dayes must be Adam Morrisons.”
La Revolucion, February 13, 2009

“He who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past.” –1984

I grew up a Bronco fan in Denver.  Aside from making me more arrogant and self-important than I probably have a right to be, this means a couple of things.  For one, I’ll be naming my first born son/daughter John Elway and he/she will grow up to be the second greatest human ever (behind his/her name sake, of course).  Second, and most importantly, I’m destined to live out my life with memories of the original John Elway’s greatness and have subsequent expectations that whichever player currently plays quarterback for the Broncos will match that greatness by his third snap in uniform.  This will leave me forever unsatisfied, but I’ll keep doing it.  As a fan of a team with a good yet limited history and a superstar playmaker in its past, this is, as they say, my cross to bear.

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The Kennel and the Myth of Home Court Advantage

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3, 2010 by La Rev

“Los que no saltan son hijos de puta!” (“Those who don’t jump are bastards!”)–DC United fan chant

I will now present two recent examples of fired up home crowds and the home court/field advantages they hoped to provide.  First, last Saturday’s Auburn-Alabama football game.  In case you missed it, the Alabama home crowd was beyond fired up (naturally, of course, what with a chance to bury the title hopes of their hated archrival and its possibly cheating quarterback and all), and as Bama jumped out to an early (and easy) 24-0 lead, it had the look of a team inspired while Auburn was downright freaked.  It was a classically textbook example of a home field advantage.  Or at least it was until Auburn came back to win.  Second, last night’s Cleveland Cavaliers-Miami Heat basketball game.  In case you missed this one (and have been living in a cave for the past six months), the Cleveland home crowd was beyond fired up (naturally, of course, what with their unholy hate for all things LeBron James and the way he “spurned” them and their industrial wasteland of a snow factory and all), leading the pregame crew to liken the atmosphere to a game seven of the NBA Finals.  The crowd booed LeBron James every time he moved a muscle, and the big question was how he would respond.  No athlete has ever been as hated as LeBron is in Cleveland.  Could he handle the hate?  He’s recently been accused (mostly by revisionists) of buckling under pressure.  Could he handle this pressure?  After scoring 38 points to pace his team’s 28-point win, I think it’s safe to say that he could and he did.

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The Curious Case of Steven Gray, Part Two

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19, 2010 by La Rev

Note: There will be no column next week in celebration of Thanksgiving.  Look for a new column Friday, December 3.

I need to know what “leadership” is and what it is not.  I need to know why a team needs leadership and when.  And, I need to know if conventionally-held ideas of leadership are valid.  Is a leader the guy who wins the most championships?  (Trent Dilfer, one Super Bowl.  Dan Marino, zero Super Bowls.)  Is he the guy who just wins the most games?  (Brett Favre, 181 wins.  Joe Montana, 117 wins.)  Or the one who, like Brian Dawkins, gives the best pregame speeches?  (Denver Broncos’ record with Brian Dawkins: 11-14)  Everyone says Michael Jordan was a great leader because he was intense and worked the hardest and willed his team to victory; maybe he’s the perfect example of leadership.  (Michael Jordan to Kwame Brown during a 2003 practice: “Stop crying, you flaming f—-t!”)

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The Curious Case of Steven Gray, Part One

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2010 by La Rev

“I don’t have to be what you want me to be.” –Muhammad Ali

Mark Few’s life in Spokane, in media cliche Cliff’s Notes: He lives in a beautiful cabin on a great piece of land with a spectacular view a few minutes’ drive away from campus and he fishes a lot (sometimes right outside his office!) and he likes his life, thank you very much, and he’s forever refusing to move up the coaching ladder for a better job somewhere else. For the most part, the Mark Few Story is pretty banal (at least after how often it’s retold), but the fact that he refuses to move on is intriguing and makes him the ultimate paradox amongst college coaches. He’s the guy who said no to big-name schools and their million-dollar paychecks and yes to a comfortable life in a place he likes. The rest of college basketball coaches are seemingly always using their current job as a springboard to their next one, but Few’s had exactly one head coaching job, even though he easily could have had any number of others. Unlike his colleagues, he’s stayed. After all, he’s seen friends in the business leave for greener pastures and end up failing and miserable. Why give up what he’s got for something he doesn’t want? So, yeah, Mark Few knows a thing or two about bucking conventional wisdom and doing things his own way, for his own reasons. Which is why the way he talks about Steven Gray is so mystifying.

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In Which I Welcome Myself Back

Posted in Uncategorized on November 3, 2010 by La Rev

Or, “A Primer: The New La Revolucion.”

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