Welcome back Dunton for his first work of 2015 (slacker). Today, as a longtime UNC fan, he looks into life moving forward without Duke enthusiast Dick Vitale behind the mike for the biggest rivalry in college basketball. It’s a new era in college hoops, and someone isn’t happy:
I haven’t hid the fact at all that, since I started Wayniac Nation a little over a year ago, I am not what you would call NBA savvy. I am usually good for two or three posts a year on the professional basketball circuit, one around All Star Break and a couple heading down the 20-week road that is also called the NBA Playoffs. Why break tradition now?
I also haven’t hid the fact that when it comes to fandom, I have no problem admitting that I am a bandwagon San Antonio Spurs fan. When my beloved New Jersey Nets split for Brooklyn, they hardly had any semblance of the team I grew up watching, often winning 20 games a year. So, I ditched them and jumped on the Spurs bandwagon, not because they win, but because they play basketball the right way. Almost as if to prove me right, after I wrote about how great a dynasty they were last season (you can read it here if you missed it), they went and took down Queen James and won another Championship.
I used to think that the greatest coach in the history of the NBA was a three horse race between Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. Enter 2015 and I no longer think it’s a race: Pops is the tops. It doesn’t have to do with the fact that he dethroned the King en route to yet another championship, and it doesn’t have to do with the fact that he recently won his 1,000 win (which he incidentally has the second highest winning percentage of anyone with 1,000 wins and the guy ahead of him had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on his rosters). No, it has to do with Coach Bud.
We are just days away from the biggest and best single game of the year. Whether you watch it for the commercials, or as an excuse to gamble, or because you want to see what Tom Brady and his balls, Super Sunday will have the attention of the entire nation. Of course, it has grabbed The Thread’s attention.
Last year, The Thread made their Wayniac Nation debut in the first ever Super Bowl prediction special. Nomi the Greek and Sperry (now Sperry Mason as he pursues his law degree) were right on in their Seahawks prediction, while the rest of us struggled. This year has seen the addition of three new members to The Thread. Nick the Greek is Nomi’s cousin. He lives in Detroit Lions country, but his allegiance is to the Dirty Birds. Mark.9 the Game is the youngest member of The Thread. He may, however, have the coolest job out of all of us. Jaybird does one of two things: works or reads/watches sports. At this point, I may as well make Olde Blind Dog part of The Thread, since their entire bartending staff writes for the site anyway!
Well, folks, Tom Brady and the Patriots have gone out and made some noise yet again in the world of football. Thats for another place and another time, however. We have more important things to discuss.
Last night, Michael Irvin and Cris Carter went round by round in picking their 2015 Fantasy Pro Bowl teams. It’s a great twist on a game that has been rather ho-hum for most of its existence. Maybe we can do the same.
If you have been following Wayniac Nation from day one, you know we like to have some fun. We don’t do things the run-of-the-mill way. Whether it be comparing every horse in the Belmont Stakes to a Batman movie or picking the THE ALL-TIME FICTIONAL HOOPIDITY DOOPITY ALLY OOPITY BASKETBALL MOVIE TEAM (it’s right HERE if you forgot it), we are always trying to have fun.
What we are going to start doing today is “drafting” the All Time Over Inflated Football Movie Roster. The rules will be the same as in the basketball and baseball (if you forgot the baseball team, it’s right HERE). The players have to be fictional. They can’t be actors playing real players in a bio pic, but it can be athletes playing a made up character. Likenesses of real players make the cut, so all of the players in The Replacements (which was loosely based on the 1987 NFL strike) are in play.
What we are going to do differently this time around is put each position to a vote. Normally I would break down each character and pick, but I think it’s time for Wayniac Nation to get involved. So clear your schedule and get your Netflix ready. Today, the Nation will name the greatest fictional Quarterback in movie history!
Some of you have requested it. Most of you know I wouldn’t keep my mouth shut about it. Ray Lewis has said the dumbest thing so far in this new year.
Lewis made some noise yesterday when he made the claim that no one would know who Tom Brady was if it weren’t for the infamous Tuck Rule in that 2002 playoff blizzard against the Raiders. This was of course coming off of his Baltimore Ravens losing to the New England Patriots just four days prior. Jealous much?
There are numerous errors in Lewis’s statement that I’m not sure where to begin. So, let’s start here:
“When we — the first time we created something called a tuck rule, it’s the only reason we know — I’m just being honest — the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule,” Lewis said. “There’s no such thing as a tuck rule! If the ball is in your hand, and I knock it out your hand, whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways, however it’s coming out, that’s a freaking fumble.”
First, there was already a tuck rule. It was created in 1999, the year before Tom Brady was drafted. Did anyone really know what it was until that Blizzard Bowl? I for one did not. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. So, what happened on that day was very good officiating. It was a referee that knew the rule book up and down and was able to make a call that was in the rule books that a majority of fans, players and coaches didn’t even know existed. That doesn’t make it wrong. That shows the problem with the NFL. I mean come on, Donovan McNabb didn’t even know the rules of overtime!
I do agree with Lewis that the tuck rule is silly, much like what happened to Dez Bryant this past Sunday and Calvin Johnson a few years back. That was a catch, and Rod Woodson forced a fumble, but according to the rules, both calls were correct. Rules are very much like laws. Just because Ray Lewis figured out a way to get around them, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be followed.
Now, to say that because of the tuck rule we would never know Tom Brady is outlandish. In fact, heading into that game, everyone knew Tom Brady. He was the 6th-round draft pick that stepped in for the 0-2 New England Patriots after Drew Bledsoe, one of the best passing quarterbacks in the game was power bombed by Captain Insano. Brady would go on to lead the Pats to an 11-3 record as a mere nobody and was already the feel good story of that season. We all knew who Tom Brady was, and if he had lost that game against the Raiders, we still would.
Think about this? If Jeffrey Maier didn’t not catch that not home run by Derek Jeter, would we have not known The Captain? After all, that was his first postseason, that is what started the heroics of one of the biggest heroes in modern day baseball. It’s unthinkable. Jeter would go on to amass 3,270 more hits after that home run. He would win four more World Series after that 1996 season. May the Yankees fortunes have changed if Maier didn’t catch that home run? Perhaps, but the legend of Derek Jeter would still be the same, much like that of Brady’s.
Maybe if Lewis said the Patriots of today would not be the Patriots had they lost that game, it would resinate as a better, more sound argument. Even still, it wouldn’t have been the first dynasty to start under questionable calls, on the field or off of it. I already mentioned the Maier home run. What about the Immaculate Reception? What if money hungry Harry Freeze didn’t sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees? What if the events of January 31, 2000 were interpreted a little differently and the Ravens never had their star player in their infamous defense? I’m pretty sure the Ravens won their first Super Bowl ever the very next season.
The tuck rule also did not effect the last 13 years of Brady’s illustrious career. Brady’s early career made people wonder if he was simply part of a great system. He was nothing flashy, and certainly no one saw the quarterback in Brady that he would become. He was the face of a team that had many key cogs that would make them champions.
That all changed in 2007. Brady became the reason the Patriots were so good. How a tuck rule in 2002 could affect the 16-0 season behind a 50 touchdown performance six years later is astonishing. Brady is forever going to be in the greatest of all time conversations, and whether or not he fumbled that ball wouldn’t change that.
The Patriots will always be in a whirl wind of controversy. This isn’t the first time their winning ways have been attacked. They haven’t won a championship since that little Spygate affair, and that has never ceased to haunt them. But if losing an 18-0 season to the lowly Giants didn’t tarnish Brady’s legacy, a peculiar rule certainly wouldn’t either.
There were a few things we learned about Ray Lewis over his Hall of Fame career. He was one of the most gifted athletes to step on the field. He is arguably the greatest linebacker to ever play the game. But he also loves the limelight for himself and his Ravens. Lewis has never steered clear of the spotlight, whether it be his on-field antics or his outspoken comments.
The Ravens, and thus Ray Lewis, lost this past Saturday in Foxboro. That means he and the Ravens will be out of the spotlight until next season, or at least until their next classy player finds themselves in the news for non-NFL affairs. What better way to get back into the limelight than being a jackass? Some players have made a career out of just that.
Pedro Martinez. The newest Hall of Famer was one of my biggest nemesis growing up a New York Yankees fan. The fragile, little righty could pitch like no one else, especially in his time with the Boston Red Sox. He was a guy who you loved to hate, but secretly hated to admit you loved.
I had seen Pedro pitch at the old Stadium a few times. But in 2002, I got a call from a friend that had gotten free tickets from work to see the Red Sox at Fenway host the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (this is 2002, remember, they were still satanic). It was July, I was a teacher at the time, so having nothing better to do, I hopped in the car and took her up on the offer.
It was my first time in Fenway Park. I didn’t wear any of my Yankees gear, not because I am necessarily afraid, but they simply weren’t playing and I’m not that guy. I did want to see Pedro get shelled though. Man, did I see the complete polar opposite.
We were about 15 rows behind home plate, not too shabby for my first game experience at one of the most legendary dumps in the history of baseball. And I’m not saying that as a Yankees fan/ Red Sox hater. I think Red Sox players will agree that Fenway is a dump. It’s ancient. The ambience they have there is almost like they want you to feel like your in 1918 (remember in 2002, that was the last time they won).
I remember the first inning like it was yesterday. The top half of the first seemed like it took Pedro 30 seconds. After a 2-pitch ground out, he blew away the next two batters. Then, in the bottom half of the first, good ol’ Trot Nixon blasted a two run homer, driving in Johnny Damon and the game was over. No lie, it would be a massacre.
Pedro got in trouble once, ONCE, all night. I don’t even know why I say all night as it wasn’t even completely dark by the time we left. He let up a lead-off single to this young rookie playing in his seventh career game named Carl Crawford. He walked someone, I can’t remember who, but of course struck out the next batter and the inning was over. Two more batters would reach the entire game, and I’m pretty sure it was Randy Winn both times if my memory serves correctly!
Pedro would go 8 innings, allowing three baserunners (one on a rare walk) and strikeout 11. The entire game took just over two hours. My one and only experience at Fenway Park was shorter than sitting at a movie. At first I was pissed, but then I realized I saw the greatness that Pedro was, and I saw it on his turf.
Pedro somehow lost his bid at his fourth Cy Young that year to Barry Zito (imagine a young fan reading this and not being able to comprehend that Barry Zito was actually a Cy Young winner!). Martinez went 20-4 with a 2.26 ERA, 239 strikeouts and a microscopic 0.97 WHIP. He was insane.
But that was Pedro being Pedro. At his best he was untouchable, at his worst, you hoped to sneak by one run. And now he is in his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. He had an amazing career. I wish it wasn’t primarily on the Red Sox, even though my Yanks got some revenge in the 2009 World Series when they tagged him for 7 runs over his two starts with the Phillies. Always remember who your daddy is, Pedro.
Happy New Year from Wayniac Nation! It’s hard to believe that just one year ago yesterday, the Nation was born. It all started with my stark raving mad rant about MLB’s Hall of Fame, their voting process (or lack thereof) and Greg Maddux (you can relive the memory right —-> HERE). This year, 2015 started off with a bang in college football.