The 50 Most Overrated Things in SportsNovember 15, 2012
The 50 Most Overrated Things in Sports
There are few arguments that strike a nerve like the one about who or what is overrated. And though it's not limited to just sports, no one is ever going to get punched in the face over the perceived superiority of uncured versus cured bacon. When it comes to our favorite teams and athletes, the loyalties, passion and experiences can span generations.
When you use the label "overrated," you're going deeper, implying far more than just explicitly saying a player or team is bad. You're basically telling the other side that its opinions are based on false pretenses.
So when you go there, you must tread carefully, because being called "overrated" doesn't mean the accusation doesn't have merit. And while discussions, lists and rankings about who or what is overrated almost exclusively focus on individual athletes, teams or coaches, this slideshow goes far beyond that.
We're going to look at everything, because pointing out some guy's so-so on-base percentage or a quarterback's below-average yards per pass has been done ad nauseum.
It's time to expand our horizons and take a look at the the 50 Most Overrated Everything in Sports.
50. The San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers have been a major part of preseason Super Bowl speculation for years. We've heard it all: They're one of the most talented teams in the league; Phillip Rivers is on the cusp of greatness; they're just too good not to do it.
When they fail for a year, that's an anomaly. When they fail for a second year, that's just a bad run of luck. When they fail over and over and over again, then maybe they just aren't as good as everyone thought they were for all those years.
49. ESPN Zone Restaurant
ESPN may be the worldwide leader in sports, but they really overreached when they decided to become the worldwide leader in overpriced hamburgers.
ESPN Zones in seven major cities were created to be broadcast locations where fans could eat a mediocre meal while getting the full ESPN experience—whatever that is.
But very few live broadcasts were done at any of the locations, and with themed chains such as the Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood, the ESPN Zone lost its luster in under a decade. In June 2010, ESPN announced that it was planning to shut down five of its seven locations within the week.
Overweight tourists nationwide were devastated.
48. The NHL Winter Classic
As a true blue hockey fan, it pains me to say this, but the NHL's Winter Classic has pretty much been a turd. Because it happens on New Years Day and there's nothing else on that afternoon, ratings have actually been fairly solid; however, they plummeted nearly a full million from 2011 to 2012.
But choosing the host cities has created animosity, the logistics have been a huge problem, the weather has created difficulties more than once, and outdoor venues, particularly MLB stadiums, don't exactly create the ideal hockey-watching conditions.
The NHL has to do whatever it can to attract attention, but the Winter Classic has been largely more trouble than it's worth. They need to focus on something that can create a continuous buzz, rather than a once-a-year event.
47. Fan Giveaways
Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I could not possibly care less about any of the junk that professional sports teams give away. I get that people like free things, but I can't ever imagine getting it up for beach chair giveaway day at Dodgers Stadium.
I mean…where would you even keep a beach chair during the game? People go insane for bobbleheads, sunglasses, stupid T-shirts and whatever else teams give away during the season. Personally, I go out of my way to avoid any and all giveaway nights at the ballpark.
46. Fantasy Football "Experts"
I've been playing fantasy football for about seven years now, and the one thing that I've learned is that it's a complete crapshoot. Sure, you're going to fare better if you have a basic working knowledge of the game and follow the sport; unlike that jagoff that always ends up being a filler in your league and starts Kevin Kolb for the better part of the season.
For years I spent hours upon hours each week reading all of the "expert" fantasy reports on any and every website. I took notes, I proposed trades, I scanned the waiver wire on a daily basis, and prior to the season, I spent weeks researching and collecting all of the facts. Sometimes I won my league. Sometimes I finished dead last.
Guess what? Now I don't do any of that, and it works out the exact same way.
Much is made of so-called "distractions" in sports. A legitimate distraction can be anything from a death in the family to a pregnant wife due to give birth on game day. But the vast majority of "distractions" are far less dramatic and often involve a career benchwarmer giving the opposition "bulletin-board material" or a coach being "on the hot seat."
I contend that, unless something is a matter of life or death, "distractions" don't exist in sports. These people are paid millions of dollars to go out there and play a game. The players are aware that they are expected to win the game, and coaches are aware that they could be out of a job if they don't win enough games.
The whole distraction nonsense is just something made up by the media so they can fill hours of airtime in between Tim Tebow coverage.
44. Pac-12 Football
Ah, remember those carefree days of August: when those final summer days remind us that fall is just around the corner, and preseason college football polls foment mass delusion which collapses into bitter reality by Week 3.
Southern Cal was ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the AP and Coaches Polls, respectively, on the assumption that Lane Kiffin and Matt Barkley were going to lead the now-eligible Trojans to the BCS Championship. Stanford put an end to that on September 15 with a convincing physical win over USC, deflating their championship dream.
And with subsequent losses to Arizona and Oregon, the Pac-12 proved once again that it’s owned by Chip Kelly’s Ducks. While Stanford, Oregon State, (the surprising) UCLA and USC are all good teams, the bottom line is that, as of today, the Pac-12 is 2-4 against ranked non-conference opponents.
43. The Excessively Bearded
This bearded thing has been going on just too long. It started off as funny or ironic or whatever and has been a topic of conversation for years now. Players grow these beards for various reasons. Some are just "beard guys," like my dad.
My dad has had a beard and/or mustache every single day of his life since 1976. He brags about this. These are the guys that will still have their beards long after everyone else loses theirs and collectively switches over to the soul patch.
In recent years, there have been a lot of beards grown for charity, which is acceptable, but can't we change it up a little? How about growing out your fingernails for charity? That would make things interesting. And then there's the dudes doing the Grizzly Adams thing for nothing but attention.
Before Giants closer Brian Wilson was the guy you crossed the street to avoid when you saw him walking your way at night, he was just an Ed Hardy-wearing frat boy with a faux hawk. I'm just ready for a new thing…whatever it is.
42. The Angels and Dodgers
Since 2011, the Angels have loaded up with a bevy of high-priced free agents in hopes of making a legit run at a World Series. They signed Jorge Cantu, Doug Deeds, Ryan Langerhans and LaTroy Hawkins and scored two of the biggest free agents on the market in C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols.
They didn't make the playoffs.
The Dodgers finally clawed their way out of the hell that was the McCourt ownership and were sold to an ownership group that included Lakers legend Magic Johnson in March 2012. After a strong start to the season, they slumped in June, leading them to acquire every piece of dead weight (well, not every piece, but enough) on the Red Sox in an attempt to right the ship.
They didn't make the playoffs.
Spend, don't spend. Try, don't try. The results are often the same in baseball no matter what.
41. The Kentucky Derby
Nobody watches horse racing on the regular except for racehorse owners, compulsive gamblers and perhaps jockeys on their days off. The Kentucky Derby is the one event per year that forces the mainstream sports media to pretend they care about horse racing.
They talk about the odds, discuss the funny names of the horses and speculate if this will finally be the year one of those horsies will take the Triple Crown for the first time since 1978. But they don't care at all.
In reality, the Kentucky Derby is mostly an excuse for people who don't care about horse racing to dress up like idiots and get drunk on mint juleps. Speaking of...
40. The Triple Crown (The Horse One)
And so what if a horse wins the Triple Crown? People will care for exactly a day and then won't bring it up again until the Kentucky Derby the next year.
39. Notre Dame Football
It’s the middle of November, and Notre Dame is undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the BCS Standings, its highest since finishing No. 5 in former head coach Charlie Weis’ inaugural season. For fans and alumni, this must be a moment of near euphoria.
In his third year, head coach Brian Kelly appears to be building a legit contender in South Bend again.
However, even if Notre Dame finishes the regular season undefeated, earns a spot in the BCS Championship game and claims its first national title in 24 years, the Fighting Irish will never be the legendary brand of Knute Rockne and Lou Holtz. NCAA athletics, the college football system, media and even the fundamental nature of American society has changed too much, while Notre Dame has stubbornly lagged behind.
Of course, the school didn’t help itself either with missteps like the George O’Leary mess.
In an era when BCS conferences are expanding and establishing regional broadcasting empires, the Notre Dame football program’s status as an independent—based wholly on money/exposure of dwindling relevance—is going to render any success this year much harder to duplicate.
If Notre Dame football follows its basketball program and joins the ACC sooner rather than later, then Kelly will have more than just the school’s legacy to pitch to blue-chip recruits. He’ll have a much clearer roadmap to the BCS title game—if he keeps winning.
38. Sunflower Seeds
I've always hated sunflower seeds. As seeds they're just fine; I mean as food. Occasionally I see some weirdo eating these things in real life, but mostly I've seen bored baseball players sitting in the dugout in a pile of their own discarded food filth gnawing on them.
It's pretty much the only contribution to the playoffs that Yankees benched superstar Alex Rodriguez made in 2012. The outside of the seeds are painfully salty. The inside of the seeds are bland and oily. The whole thing makes a mess, and it really seems like an awful lot of work to eat something disgusting.
Plus, watching someone eating sunflower seeds is one of the most disgusting things on earth. Gnawing and drooling and spitting—they look like farm animals with baseball caps.
37. Pre- and Postgame Shows
Sporting events are lengthy in and of themselves—usually between two and four hours; four hours being a particularly grating baseball game. And that's if you're actually in attendance. If you're watching a highly anticipated sporting event from home, like the Super Bowl, pre- and postgame coverage can turn a three-hour game into a 12-hour marathon.
That's obviously the extreme end of the spectrum, but the pre- and postgame coverage tends to extend almost every game on television by at least an hour.
It's just too much because the panel of doofuses that every network employs usually runs out of original things to say about 15 minutes in. Then, they just begin repeating themselves and arguing semantics amongst themselves for the next however-many minutes.
36. Selecting a Running Back in the First Round
Since the Dallas Cowboys made Emmitt Smith the 17th overall pick in the 1990 NFL draft, few running backs taken in the first round have gone on to have Hall of Fame-worthy careers—or even gotten close to it.
In the '80s, legends like Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson (though his career was cut short by injuries) more than justified their first-round value. After Smith, few backs over the next decade played at such a high level, with Marshall Faulk, Eddie George, Fred Taylor, Jerome Bettis and Edgerrin James being the obvious exceptions.
When it comes to the position and its inevitable wear and tear, it's just a numbers game. Since 2002, there have been 28 running backs chosen in the first round of the draft, and only 32 percent of them have ever been selected to a Pro Bowl. And out of 136 total seasons, only 12 percent have been Pro Bowl seasons. They only average around 700 yards per season over the life of their careers.
The running back position is one of the most hit-or-miss positions in the draft, so going out on a limb in the first round is becoming more of a rarity—particularly in such a pass-driven league. These days it seems more likely to hit on a late-round pick or undrafted free agent like Arian Foster or Willie Parker than it is to pick up a stud back in the first round.
35. Washington Capitals
After a tumultuous regular season that included the firing of long-time coach Bruce Boudreau, questions about superstar Alex Ovechkin’s commitment and publicly aired team dissension, the Capitals' 2012 playoff run under Dale Hunter is a pretty amazing feat.
Postseason success aside, the 2011-12 season was a reckoning that was hard not to see coming. Until this season, the Capitals have been at or near the top of the list of Stanley Cup favorites since 2007, but they've failed to reach a single conference final in five postseason appearances. They've lost to a lower-seeded team in all but one season.
Owner Ted Leonsis invested millions in the core nucleus of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin, with little to show for it. That's underscored by the fact that their gritty 2012 playoff run may have been the team’s best effort.
34. University of Oregon Uniforms
I've defended Oregon football to SEC fans. I've raved about Chip Kelly as one of the few college coaches who just might have a chance of making it in the NFL. And for a while, I was one of the biggest fans of the Ducks' much-debated weekly uniform change.
No matter how loud, stupid or just plain ugly whatever those guys came running out of the tunnel in, I enjoyed it.
I no longer enjoy it. It's like Halloween every week in Eugene, and it's their bad influence that has been encouraging other teams to do a grotesque redesign of their uniforms in order to attract attention.
Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery; it's just uncreative.
33. NFL Pro Bowl
The NFL's Pro Bowl rivals only the NHL All-Star Game in terms of overall sucking. Really the only difference is that people actually tune in to watch the Pro Bowl.
Of all the All-Star games, the NFL actually leads the way in terms of ratings, which is indicative of the overall popularity of the sport, rather than the play on the field at the Pro Bowl.
But it seems that years of half-assed play without an iota of defense or desire finally caught up to the NFL in 2012. The ratings for the game were still solid, but they dropped almost 10 percent from the year prior, sparking much debate about whether or not the game should even still be played.
32. Big League Chew
Let’s face it: Kids do dumb things, and they enjoy foods and activities that repulse most humans over the age of 17. This is why parents exist: to control the damage and help children turn into responsible adults.
Big League Chew is a fairly good representative of this reality. Before getting into the darker implications of this kind of product, I want to acknowledge that—at a minimum—nothing good can come from letting your child gnaw on a fist-sized wad of sugar.
The bigger problem with Big League Chew is that smokeless tobacco has been, and remains, a part of professional baseball’s culture—despite the well-known dangers and image. Yeah, you don’t see players or coaches using it quite as much or openly, but it’s there.
From the foil-lined pouch, to the shredded gum and baseball imagery, Big League Chew is basically prepping young children for a chewing tobacco habit later in life. Take away the novelty, and what’s left? A pile of gum that looks like WORMS!
So, the next time your kid wants terrible tasting chewing gum to help get them through that little league doubleheader, buy them good old-fashioned Fruit Stripe.
31. NBA Coaches
You know who else thinks NBA coaches are overrated? Those two guys right there.
Former Magic superstar Dwight Howard's relationship with former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was notoriously and publicly strained his last year in Orlando, and Howard managed to get his coach canned before demanding a trade once and for all.
Now, Howard is in Los Angeles and teamed up with Kobe Bryant, who just recently had a hand in the dismissal of head coach Mike Brown. The Lakers replaced Brown with Mike D'Antoni, who was (essentially) fired by Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks last season.
30. NCAA Bowl Games
Not to crap all over bowl season (college football is a pretty big deal in this country)—there are plenty of bowls worth watching. And in the age of "everyone gets a trophy," there are plenty of bowls not worth watching.
There are so many bowls these days because they make money for schools, advertisers, sponsors and cities—all good things. But the fact that there is something like 70 bowl games now—and a school only needs seven wins to become bowl-eligible—really waters down the whole affair.
As a Pitt fan who watched my Panthers stumble to a 19-17 victory over UNC in the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl, I must admit I'd rather have not seen them in a bowl at all.
29. Super Bowl Commercials
I'm always confounded by how many people out there tune into the Super Bowl to see the commercials. In 2010, Nielsen conducted a survey to find out just how many of these weirdos are out there. Turns out, it's most of you.
According to the survey, 51 percent of viewers tune in to see which sucker companies vastly overpay for the privilege of advertising their crap to a massive viewing audience, while 49 percent actually watched for the football being played.
For shame, you 51-percenters. For shame.
28. Jimmer Fredette
You could certainly make the argument that Jimmer Fredette, the No. 10 overall pick of the 2011 NBA draft out of BYU, is no longer overrated. The fact that I couldn't find a single picture of him playing (professional) basketball in our entire Getty Images catalogue that fit the format I needed definitely says something.
But I say that he was so overrated in 2011, that just the memory of "Fredette Fever" or "Jimmer Mania" or "Fredette Frenzy" qualify him as overrated through the end of 2012—at least.
Maybe things will eventually improve for Jimmer, but there's no question that he's been a "Fredette Flop" for the Sacramento Kings.
27. NFL Draft Experts
Are there really any NFL draft "experts" out there? Outside of the occasional consensus Top Five or so, all of the so-called experts have a pretty low success rate for their mock drafts. They call them "mock" drafts for a reason, actually.
The definition of "mock": Not authentic or real, but without the intention to deceive.
So, basically, they are paid to make things up, but not maliciously, and are never taken to task for their terrible evaluations. Don't we all wish we had jobs like that?
26. Ridiculously Expensive Sneakers
I freely admit that I am in no way part of the sneaker culture—which I'm not sure is actually even a thing, but it's what I'm calling it. I follow a few hundred of athletes on Twitter, and one of the things I've learned is that many are completely obsessed with sneakers.
Dwyane Wade had an entire room in his Miami Mansion dedicated to his sizable sneaker collection, and Warren Sapp recently made headlines when it was reported that his extensive sneaker collection was auctioned off as part of his bankruptcy settlement. Why he had 215 pairs of Air Jordans is anybody's guess.
And then, in August 2012, Nike unveiled the LeBron X (pictured), perfectly timed in what can only be described as the Year of LeBron. It was their most expensive shoe ever. Nike actually banned midnight launches to prevent violent stampedes of people desperate to pay $315 for these footwear monstrosities.
I wish I had the money to provide in-store economic advisors to every sucker spending their rent money to line LeBron's pocket.
25. Rex Ryan
Through his first two seasons as head coach of the Jets, I was actually a pretty big fan of Rex Ryan. His bluster, bravado and willingness to say something…anything…was a breath of fresh air compared to the coach speak that permeates the entire NFL.
Ryan said whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted and he made no apologies for it. He also applied a live-and-let-live philosophy to his team, allowing them to speak freely to the media in the same candid manner of their head coach. It worked well when they were winning, but instantly fell into disrepair when the going got tough.
The players are constantly lashing out both at the media and to the media, often anonymously attacking their teammates. This dumpster fire is how Ryan went from the coach players most want to play for in 2011, to the most overrated coach in the NFL in 2012.
24. Exotic Pets Kept as Mascots
I'm going to keep this short and sweet. In this day and age it is not just overrated, but also irresponsible and reprehensible, to be carting out live tigers onto a football field before a game. I'm sorry if your alma mater fits this category, but this is a practice that needs to end—now.
Preferably before Colorado's Ralphie kills someone during a pre-game spectacle.
If your mascot is a chicken or a dog or a skunk, well then have at it. Domesticated animals are fine as long as they are properly cared for, and most are treated like kings.
23. USC Quarterbacks
In July 2012, USC quarterback Matt Barkley went on the Dan Patrick Show to prognosticate when he would have been selected in the 2012 NFL draft had he actually declared.
Barkley explained that he knew the Colts were locked in on Stanford's Andrew Luck, so it was a pretty "sure bet that Andrew was going to go No. 1," but he had confidence that he could have been selected over Baylor's Robert Griffin III. Barkley reiterated he went back to USC for his final year because he wanted to, not because he had anything to prove.
Considering his alma mater's latest exports at quarterback have been Mark Sanchez, John David Booty and Matt Leinart, he's got a lot to prove. Plus, there's always the storied legacy of Todd Marinovich.
22. Phiten Power Necklaces
According to an article in the NY Daily News, the Phiten necklace is baseball's hottest new accessory! Or at least it was…when the article was written in October 2008. The photo posted with the article is Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett in mid-pitch with the necklace around his mouth.
Cities change, teams change, uniforms change, but Josh Beckett remaining a tool bag is one constant in life. You can buy one of these things for $50, which is actually a bargain for a magical necklace. Phiten claims its necklaces can relieve physical pain and improve athletic performance.
So why has everyone been using steroids all of these years when all they needed was a magic necklace to increase their batting average and fatten their skull?
21. Thursday Night Football
Listen, I love football. You probably love football. I watch college ball all day Saturday. I watch NFL football for 12-straight hours almost every Sunday. I never miss Monday Night Football. I watch every single NFL playoff game, every single year, whether my team makes the playoffs—although, it usually does.
But there's just something about NFL Network's Thursday Night Football that isn't the same. The games are usually terrible, almost as if they lost a bet with the other networks and were forced to air the worst matchup each week throughout the entire season. The players detest having to play on a short week.
Oh, and almost everyone employed by the NFL Network is in the running for "The Most Annoying Person in the World" award. Plus, there are actually other things on TV on Thursday.
20. Erin Andrews
Remember for years every new beauty in sports broadcasting had everyone wondering if she was "the next Erin Andrews?" During her eight-year reign as ESPN's queen blonde bee, Andrews was considered the gold standard of female sports broadcasters.
The network used her sparingly, mostly covering the sidelines for college football, and she never once occupied an anchor seat on SportsCenter, always leaving us wanting more. It seemed like a good strategy until she left ESPN for Fox, and we found out that it was never really a strategy at all. As it turns out, Andrews is just terrible as a live-studio host, and her first few months on air at Fox have been universally derided.
Still as beautiful as ever, Andrews has been an awkward, stuttering mess in the studio. Samantha Steele, ESPN's 26-year-old replacement for Andrews, has transitioned seamlessly into the role and already shows more poise and polish than the veteran Andrews.
19. Peyton Hills: Madden Cover Hype
As if the dreaded “Madden Curse” wasn’t enough, the level of hype surrounding who would grace the cover of EA Sports’ newest version of Madden NFL went from unnecessary to absurd in March 2011, when EA and ESPN teamed up and let fans decide via a tournament-style online vote.
This change in approach happened to coincide with sudden fame of then-Browns running back Peyton Hillis. Acquired by Cleveland when the team traded Brady Quinn to the Broncos, Hillis came out of nowhere in 2010, rushing for 144 yards in a losing effort against the Ravens in Week 3. He finished the season with 270 carries for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Did I mention Hillis is a white running back? Did I need to? Combine that fact with the narrative of a relatively unknown player, who gets a shot and makes the most of it, and you’ve got yourself a new fan and media darling. In hindsight, the fact Hillis got more votes than 31 other players—including Aaron Rodgers and Ray Rice—to become the Madden NFL 12 cover boy shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Hillis decided to strike while the iron was hot, pushed for a more lucrative contract—failed—lost the support of his teammates, and did almost nothing in 2011 before being traded to Kansas City in 2012 (where he’s been a non-factor). Luckily for Hillis, he can blame it all on the Madden Curse.
As fun as letting fans vote for the next Madden cover player may be, when a guy like Hillis follows greats like Ray Lewis and Troy Polamalu, then the ritual has lost its sheen.
18. Beating Yourself
Click over to the postgame press conference of the loser of pretty much any professional sporting event, particularly the NFL, and you will almost always hear a coach or player talk about how his team "beat itself." This assertion is popular because it allows a team to acknowledge the loss without giving credit to the team that actually beat it.
There are examples of teams "beating themselves," but they aren't very common.
Interceptions are not always the fault of the quarterback; often they are the work of a badass cornerback or safety showing up out of nowhere and stealing the ball from the wide receiver. Fumbles are not always the fault of a bumbling running back who plays like the ball is covered in bacon grease; often they are punched out by an amped-up defensive end on a mission.
That's just the way of it. You don't beat yourself; you get beat. It's time to recognize the difference.
17. Anthony Davis' Unibrow
New Orleans Hornets power forward Anthony Davis was unquestionably the most outstanding collegiate player and top NBA prospect of the 2011-12 season. He dominated games and made Kentucky a no-brainer to pencil in your championship bracket for the NCAA Tournament.
What he has achieved on the court now and into the future aside, I am simply amazed by how perfectly he embodies mankind’s capacity to make money and attain celebrity status from something completely devoid of value. Yeah, I’m talking about his beloved unibrow.
That’s right, while most of us work diligently to avoid a unibrow, it’s his most recognizable feature, and it has taken on a life of its own. I’m no lawyer, so I can’t explain how he did it, but Davis trademarked the damn thing to make sure no one was making money off unibrow-related merchandise but the original.
Davis’ skills on the court—how his career unfolds—are what’s interesting, not his unibrow.
Unibrows are gross; if your child said he wanted Elmo from Christmas and “Santa” gave him Bert, he or she would cry…for days. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco kind of has a unibrow, but he was never charismatic or hyped enough for it to become a thing.
It’s the man, not the unibrow.
16. The New NCAA Playoff
Most fans, as well as coaches and the media, have opined for years about why FBS football needs a playoff—an opinion that certainly resonated the most with “BCS spoilers” like Boise State and TCU. So when BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock announced last May that the commissioners had agreed to a four-team playoff, the news was met with tempered optimism.
Now that the final details are in, it’s clear the new format is already destined for controversy. The four teams are chosen by a selection committee, with the highest-ranked BCS conference champion guaranteed a spot.
Is a four-team playoff better than a group of people and polls anointing two teams to vie for a national title? Yes. Does everything about the format indicate the BCS commissioners are just placating us for another decade? Yep.
I've had many unpleasant encounters with hardcore baseball fans who are obsessed with Moneyball. A great number of these fans are obsessed with stats, and Moneyball is the sabermetric approach to fielding a (presumably) competitive baseball team based on statistical analysis—so they're like peas and carrots.
I hate dealing with them, but I appreciate their passion, despite the fact that Moneyball doesn't work. At least it doesn't for the Oakland A's. Yes they made a splash in the 2012 playoffs, but it had been six years since they last won their division.
The franchise did have a four-year stretch of success in the early 2000s, which was chronicled in the Brad Pitt film Moneyball, but they failed to even make it to the World Series, let alone win a championship. It was a good run, but there may have been some other reasons for their success.
According to the Mitchell Report, nine men who played for the A's during that stretch had tested positive for banned substances. Nate Silver, now of presidential election fame (or infamy, depending on your view), co-wrote a book in 2006 discrediting Moneyball and addressing the A's postseason failures.
The two-time World Series winning general manger of the San Francisco Giants Brian Sabean has his own approach to evaluating talent and fielding a competitive team: He uses his eyeballs. Novel approach, yes?
14. SI Polls About Being Overrated...or Anything Else
First of all, I recognize the irony of calling out Sports Illustrated for their many polls about overrated players in a list about overrated everything in sports. So there's no need to get all up in my business telling me it's none of my—nevermind. Most of this list isn't even people—so there.
Now back to their polls…their many, many polls. SI seems to take some kind of sick pleasure in calling out the "most hated" and "most overrated" players in every sport, because one of these polls seems to be released every couple of months. And every time it releases the results of one of its polls, which have a woefully small sampling of players, it gets a week's worth of coverage on every sports television network and online publication in the country.
Another week of Ndamukong Suh being hated. Another week of Rex Ryan and Tim Tebow being overrated. Enough already. In SI's most recent poll about the most overrated coach in the NFL, 103 players on 27 teams were poll. There are nearly 1,700 players in the NFL and 32 teams. That hardly seems like an accurate sampling. It's yet another example of the sports media creating stories, rather than reporting on them.
13. Tim Tebow
I don't know what Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow is overrated at, but I do know he's overrated. We know NFL players as a whole recently rated him the most overrated player in the NFL in a Sports Illustrated poll.
And now his fellow Jets teammates are sounding off on the kid for no apparent reason. Newsflash to the anonymous Jets players crapping on your backup quarterback: He's not in the game. You are. That being said, they're obviously exacerbated, like many others in the NFL, at the amount of attention that Tebow receives from the media.
He's become a New York tabloid cover boy since being traded to the Jets, and ESPN tracks his every movement like an obsessed stalker with access to the best technology in the world. Tebow isn't overrated as a quarterback, because there aren't too many making the argument that he can play the position.
He's overrated and overexposed for a benchwarmer.
12. The Winter Olympics
I'm a sports fan through-and-through, and when the 2012 Summer Olympics in London finally rolled around, I was ecstatic. There is nothing going on anywhere in late July through August besides baseball.
Your boss is wearing shorts, your dog can't walk a block without hyperventilating and the entire city is taken over by cockroaches and rats the size of house cats. At least that's my summer experience living in Washington, DC. So I was glued to every minute of the Olympics and its countless different events, a welcomed respite from my summer sauna of hell. But the Winter Olympics are a different story altogether.
There's skiing. There's ice-skating. And there's sledding. Sure there are different variations of each, many of which just get dumber and dumber down the line; like figure skating to couples "ice dancing." It's the whitest, in terms of terrain and skin color, and the most devastatingly boring sporting event in the world. Thankfully, it only comes every four years.
11. Attending an NFL Game Live
A report in July 2012 showed that NFL attendance peaked in 2007 and has steadily declined since. The NFL countered that assessment in November 2012, citing a bump in attendance and a decrease in blackouts through mid-season.
But that doesn't change the fact that in 2011, league attendance bottomed out with its lowest total since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002. That's the bad news. The good news is that television ratings are higher than ever, and that's because actually attending an NFL game creates a lot of obstacles for your average fan.
Ticket prices are sky high. The commute is often a nightmare, and then you pay out of the nose for parking. A couple of beers and a hot dog will set you back $30. People often don't want to take their kids because of foul language and drunken brawls in the stands. The weather is a nightmare for outdoor teams in the North from November on.
And then, even if you decide you want to deal with all of those issues and go to the game, you get to your seat and this broad (see photo) is sitting next to you.
10. Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte isn't overrated as an Olympic swimmer; he's got nearly a dozen medals to prove it. He's overrated as a human being. After his impressive showing at the 2012 Olympics in London, Lochte and his stupid American flag grill became a national sensation.
He began booking acting gigs, signing lucrative endorsement deals and declaring to everyone with ears that he, unlike one Michael Phelps, will be back in 2016. Lochte moved to trademark "Jeah," a stupid catchphrase that he jacked from rapper Young Jeezy.
He landed a guest star spot on 90210, after which he explained how difficult it was to…like…learn lines…and like say them…while you have to like…still move at the same time. Most of us call that "walking and talking," and we learned to do it as a toddler.
Lochte may be good at swimming (and shaving in public, apparently), but that's about the only thing he's good at.
9. The New York Knicks
The Knicks haven't won an NBA Championship since 1973. They haven't won a playoff series since 2000. And until they lost to the Heat 4-1 in the 2012 playoffs, they hadn't won a single playoff game in over a decade.
Last season, Linsanity fizzled, head coach Mike D'Antonio, who said his team could "obviously" contend for a championship in December, "resigned" three months later, and the team completely self-destructed in the playoffs. The most coverage the Knicks got in their series against the Heat was after Amar'e Stoudemire picked a fight with a fire extinguisher case and lost.
You'd think a run of futility like that would give people a little perspective on the Knicks, but you'd be wrong. Just two weeks into the 2012-13 season, here are a couple of Knicks headlines from the last three days:
ESPN: Are the Knicks legitimate contenders? (No.)
International Business Times: Are the 2012 New York Knicks The Real Deal? (No.)
And everyone from Carmelo Anthony to Stoudemire to J.R. Smith has pretty much guaranteed this will be a championship season. Way to set realistic goals, boys.
8. The New Baseball Playoffs
I'm not one of those baseball people who oppose instant replay for no apparent reason. I don't understand why pitchers feel the need to peg rookies with fast balls. I don't understand how a sideways glance can turn into a bench-clearing brawl between two teams of grown men. In short, I'm not really a baseball person.
I do, however, make a habit of watching during the playoffs, so when it was announced that MLB would be expanding the number of teams in 2012, I thought it was a great idea. Until I learned the format of the "expansion," an idea so ridiculous that only the MLB could come up with it.
MLB higher-ups added just one and made them play a one-game playoff with a team that would have legitimately made the playoffs in 2011 and been entitled to a best-of-five series against its opponent. Instead of adding two teams from each conference and making them play a best-of-three series, thus avoiding a jarring one-game elimination, and the end of Chipper Jones' career, on a ridiculous infield fly rule call by an umpire who must have grown up a Cardinals fan.
I guess that's just baseball.
7. NHL All-Star Game
I'm a hockey fan and have been since childhood, but it's been a very long time since I found any redeeming value whatsoever in the NHL All-Star Game. Much like the Pro Bowl and the NBA All-Star game these days, many stars go out of their way to skip the game and the ones that show don't seem to care much either way—so why should we?
The skills competition has become a sideshow. You never know who's playing who from year to year. East vs. West? North America vs. Not North America? Shirts vs. Skins? There's no constancy anymore and there certainly aren't as many superstars as there used to be. It's just not worth it.
6. The Dallas Cowboys
I always thought that part of being an American was valuing winning. And winners. Often to a fault—but that's just who we are. Which is why I wonder how anyone can seriously call the Dallas Cowboys "America's Team" with a straight face anymore. They had a pretty great run, though.
Billionaire oilman Jerry Jones bought the fledgling team in 1989 for $140 million and by 2012 he had transformed them into the NFL's most valuable franchise, worth $2.1 billion, picking up three Lombardi Trophies along the way. But the Cowboys haven't won a Super Bowl since 1995, and these days it's a rare occurrence that they even make the playoffs, let alone contend for a championship.
Yet year after year they remain among those consistently mentioned in the preseason as Super Bowl favorites. The fact is, Jones is unable or unwilling to adjust to the NFL as it is in the post-salary cap era. Until Jerry Jones replaces Jerry Jones as general manager, fans of the overrated Cowboys can expect more of the same.
No offense to Gatorade, which I drink on the regular, but it's a well-known fact that sports drinks are nothing but sugar, water and electrolytes—just potassium and sodium.
They claim to replenish what the body loses during a workout or any type of grueling physical activity.But they are nothing but empty calories.
A report in 2012 proved that a big glass of ice water and a banana would provide substantially more health benefits with half the calories.
4. NBA All-Star Dunk Contest
I watched the 2012 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with the Twitterverse, and the overwhelming consensus was that it sucked. Sucked hard. The dunk contest used to be the highlight of the festivities, but it has rapidly descended into the gutter in recent years.
There are so many reasons it is overrated and that it sucked in 2012 that I think it should be suspended until further notice unless the following things are addressed:
1. An "all-star" lineup populated by complete nobodies. No offense to that big bunch of nobodies that participated but, as a casual NBA fan, I can assure you that casual NBA fans had no idea who those dudes were.
2. Over-the-top stunts. Yes, it was impressive when Blake Griffin dunked over a freaking car in 2011. But unless you can beat the hell out of his performance, by dunking over a house or something, don't even try. Dunks are badass on their own.
3. If you take away the over-the-top stunts, everything else has been done. Which is why you need superstars involved to pull this off. I'd much rather see LeBron's dunk face on a semi-creative jam than some nobody from the Bobcats jump over a donkey and slam it.
If LeBron wants to bring the donkey, then so be it.
3. Icing the Kicker
I'm not going to waste your time or mine going on about one of the most loathed practices in sports, so I'll keep it brief. Icing the kicker is so freaking stupid and bush-league that anyone who does it should be fired, win or lose, on live television during the postgame press conference. Here's why it's stupid:
1. It doesn't work. In fact, stats show that "icing" the kicker actually helps the kicker. These aren't little kids, they are grown ass men, and giving them 30 seconds to think about the kick isn't going to make them cry.
2. It often backfires. How many times have you seen a kicker shank a kick, only to have it not count because some simpleminded man with a headset called a timeout. And then he absolutely nails it on the second attempt—which is a glorious thing.
3. Jason Garrett. His time as the Cowboys head coach will be limited, but long after he's gone he will still be known as the nimrod who iced his own kicker.
That wasn't as brief as I had hoped. Sorry.
I remember when I was a little kid and the only day I got to see fireworks was on the Fourth of July. It was an annual event celebrating the independence of our great nation from those tax-happy Brits, and it was amazing—as President John Adams intended it to be. In a letter to his wife dated July 3, 1776, Adams wrote of the holiday and its future:
The day will be most memorable in the history of America...I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…bonfires and illuminations [a term for fireworks]…from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.
Fireworks used to mean something in this country. Now every dimwitted pyromaniac above the age of 18 with access to some matches lights them off to celebrate everything from getting their GED to winning a free case of beer on Thirsty Thursday.
I don't know how I feel about all of that, but I do know that President Adams would be rolling over in his grave if he knew that fireworks were promised weekly at Astros and Pirates games as a way to keep people in their seats until their inevitable loss.
1. Lane Kiffin
The late, great Al Davis was wrong about almost everything during his last decade as owner of the Raiders. One thing he was right about…eventually…was Lane Kiffin. At the time, I remember thinking that Davis was several bricks shy of a load and that he was just lashing out at Kiffin because he needed someone to blame for the franchise's failures.
But now, I think he probably freaked out because he just really hated Kiffin as a person, and who can blame him. Davis made a mistake in hiring the inexperienced Kiffin. The University of Tennessee made the same mistake when it scooped him up the same year he was fired. One year later, USC lured the job-hopping coach to Southern California.
But why? Kiffin has left a thick stench scandal, is questionable everywhere he's ever worked as a head coach and has continued his not-so-proud traditions at USC.
He was even accused of committing an NCAA violation before landing in L.A.
Accusations of NCAA violations have followed Kiffin since Tennessee, and this season alone he's been accused of uniform trickery and deflating footballs—the latter of which some poor student manager took the fall for.
Seems like an awful lot of muck to deal with for a guy that has yet to accomplish anything except for getting hired.
Bonus Overrated: MLB Gatorade Baths in APRIL
Also probably overrated? Following me, Amber Lee, on Twitter. But you should do it anyway because of all I do for you...even if it's just mostly making you angry. Follow @blamberr