There Are Too Many Dang Sports On

I really never thought I would be the one to say this take. I have long held that October is the best sports month of the year, because all four major sports leagues are playing. When sports were canceled at the beginning of quarantine, I was counting down the days until they returned and provided some mild sense of normalcy. But now that we’re at this point, I must say—with a very heavy heart—that there are too many damn sports on.

I want to keep up with everything. I really do. But it’s just too much. To spend all day Saturday watching college football, all day Sunday watching NFL, and Monday and Thursday nights watching more NFL; to have NBA conference finals showing every night, Stanley Cup finals showing every other night, baseball games airing every god forsaken day, and push notifications coming in from ESPN announcing the result of some UFC fight about which I could not give a solitary shit—it is all just too much.

Take some of them away. Not permanently, but just for a bit. Pause the NFL season until the NBA and NHL are done (thereby making some time for 15% of the league to recover from their torn ACLs). Let the MLB players rest. Nobody needed to watch the Dodgers bend the Rockies over three more times when their postseason fates were both already sealed. Delay college football for a month, except for the games where Oklahoma and LSU lose in their season openers, which I want to watch now.

Either that or just delay my grad school program so I can watch all of these games all day long and finally know the true meaning of inner peace.

Everybody Wins When Corey Perry Loses

Last night, Corey Perry and the Dallas Stars fell 2–0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6, ending the Stanley Cup Finals and closing the book on what has been a remarkably well-run NHL postseason.

As it happens, Corey Perry is also an unrepentant, pulsating wiener, so we are just extraordinarily glad to see him eat shit. He is a gross-looking assclown who combines Cristiano Ronaldo’s penchant for diving with Christian Bale’s tendency to be a flaming dickwash to everyone around him. He is not even a person; he is an anthropomorphic, carefully sculpted pile of smegma. He is the natural successor to Todd Bertuzzi (but obviously not as bad as Todd Bertuzzi, because nobody is as bad as Todd Bertuzzi).

Need proof? Check out this video, which I sadly did not make myself, but whose title is so perfectly crafted that Shakespeare himself probably would piss his breeches if he were alive to see it.

Suck one, Corey Perry. The world rejoices at your misfortune. Have fun diving into the offseason.

The Monday Night Football Double-Header is Decadent and Depraved

To try and establish even a loose hierarchy of the NFL’s idiotic, inexcusable policies is a fool’s errand. But for all the talk about concussion protocol, the catch rule, COVID-19 policies, and some half-baked platitudes about racial justice while using a very powerful platform to do precisely nothing, there is one outrageously stupid NFL policy that doesn’t get nearly enough flak: the second Monday Night game on Week 1 of each season.

The NFL’s gradual encroachment of the American weekend has, generally, been both understandable and fairly successful. There was once a time when football was for Sundays, and Sundays only. Now the football weekend starts on Thursday night, ends on Monday night, takes over Saturdays after the college season ends, and sometimes begins at 9:30am Eastern on Sundays so that, from the moment we wake up to the moment we lay our head to rest, we do not have to spend a second not staring at Roger Goodell’s bare ass.

That’s all well and good. Most sports fans would probably agree that only having to suffer two days a week without any football, college or professional, is a good thing. But who—I mean, seriously, name one goddamn person—really wants to watch seven hours of football on a Monday night?

Most of us have jobs. They know that, right? I—nor my compatriots of the coastal elite—cannot afford to stay up until two o’clock in the morning watching a limp-dicked interdivision butt show. We are perfectly content to watch the first game and go to bed. 

And for those of who are fans of a team in the second slot? The NFL is forcing us to stay up three hours past bedtime to watch a game we’re going to hate anyway. 

The worst part is that the NFL clearly knows this. There’s a reason why the MNF doubleheader hasn’t been extended past week one. If there were a market for it, there’s no doubt they would have already expanded it to the whole season. So it’s really just an exertion of power and control. It is a yearly reminder, to set the tone for the next five months, that we are completely beholden to every sadistic whim and fancy of the world’s worst-run non-profit organization.

Anyway, you bet your ass I stayed up until 2am last night watching the Trevor Siemian Revenge Match between Denver and Tennessee. But man, I really wish I didn’t have to. 

Five Reasons The NHL Postseason Already Slaps

The NHL is now a week and a half into its modified 24-team postseason, and not only is it an exemplary model of how to bring back a sport during a pandemic without showing your entire ass, it is also absolutely banging. In characteristic NHL playoff form, there have been unbelievable endings, unimaginable upsets, and, of course, Matthew Tkachuk being a gaping dickhole. Here are five things that we’ve already loved about the NHL postseason.

1. The Boston Bruins Are 0–3
There is no pleasure more timeless and, I’ll say it, pelvic than watching Boston sports teams eat shit. The Bruins were far and away the best team in the regular season, boasting the league’s top goal-scorer and arguably the best goalie. In the round robin, they’ve been dunked on by the Flyers, Lightning, and Capitals, and now they are sitting at the 4th seed, staring down the barrel of a Best-of-Seven series against the extremely hot Carolina Hurricanes. 

2. The Avs Scored A Game-Winning-Goal With Less Than 1/20th of a Second Left
In hockey, a buzzer beater is typically a tying or winning goal scored with less than 10 seconds left. That would look like weak shit compared to Nazem Kadri’s game-winning goal against the Blues, which crossed the goal line with less than 0.1 seconds on the clock. To put that into perspective: the Avalanche won a game having not held a lead for the first 99.9995% of the game. Hockey is good!!!

3. Upsets Galore
The NHL, in all its streaky glory, is notorious for unpredictable playoffs. Last year, both 1 seeds fell to 8 seeds in the first round, including a 4–0 clean sweep of the Lightning, who had had a historically good regular season. This year, we’ve seen both 12-seeds knock out their 5-seed opponents in four games. The Canadiens, who finished 24th overall in the regular season, upset the perennially strong Penguins, while the Blackhawks, who were dead last in their eight-team division, took down the Oilers, who had the top two league leaders in points on their squad. 

4. The Blue Jackets Executed One Of The Greatest Chokes in History
Up 2–1 in the best-of-five series, the Jackets had a 3–0 lead over the Maple Leafs with four minutes left in the third period. Somehow, they coughed up three goals in four minutes—which is fucking outrageous—then lost in overtime. For Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins, it was one of the most consummate bed-shittings in the annals of NHL playoff history.

5. Baseball is going to be over soon anyway
Throw some support to a league that didn’t trip on its dick throughout every phase of planning its return. For that matter, throw some support to the country that didn’t trip on its dick throughout every phase of its disaster response, too.

Was the Angels’ victory over the 1994 Chicago White Sox in Angels in the Outfield the most improbable sports victory in movie history?

I’ll come out and say it: The most improbable aspect of Disney’s Angels in the Outfield isn’t the fact that Christopher Lloyd somehow skirted the player’s union to get on the field or that Joseph Gordon-Levitt wouldn’t be adopted. Instead, what really grinds my gears is that the lowly California Angels—despite not receiving any angel assistance whatsoever in their final game—somehow beat the 1994 Chicago White Sox to clinch the division title and the pennant at the end of the movie.

How could this have happened? How could that year’s Angels squad, a team so bad that Gordon-Levitt’s father bet that he wouldn’t have to regain custody of his child until they won the pennant, pull off a victory against a White Sox team that clearly would have won its first World Series championship in 77 years had the 1994 season not been stopped short by a player’s strike? It’s a mystery that grows ever more perplexing when you compare the team’s rosters: 

First Base
White Sox: Frank Thomas. Frank Thomas losing out on the full 1994 season is one of the worst travesties in American sports. The Big Hurt posted a shocking 1.217 OPS in 1994, the 18th best single-season OPS of all time. The guy was in the midst of a Ted Williams–caliber streak, and he was well on his way to earning his second straight AL MVP award and my everlasting love and affection. The Angel Gabriel couldn’t have stopped Frank from winning this game. Post-playing career boosted by Nugenix. 
Angels: Mitchell Page. Second place AL Rookie of the Year in 1977. Career batting average of .266, but he couldn’t make the roster for the Athletics’ 1981 postseason campaign. Post-playing career cut short by alcoholism. 
Advantage: White Sox, and it’s not even close. 

Second Base
White Sox: Joey Cora.
 Survived a stabbing, one-time All Star, and won a ring as the third base coach for the 2005 White Sox. Brother of Rob Manfred–patsy Alex Cora.
Angels: Israel Juarbe. Played Freddy Fernandez in The Karate Kid, a role for which he has been referred to as a “bitch motherf*cker” in at least one MMA-themed forum. Probably best known for his limited role as the room service waiter in this exceptionally 80s clip
Advantage: White Sox.

Short Stop
White Sox: Ozzie Guillén. 
There’s a lot that can be said about Ozzie. The spitfire-spewing third baseman-turned-Fidel-Castro-praising-and-gay-slur-using manager who we let things kind of slide with. The man invented Ozzieball (grind out a single, bunt him over to second, then smash a two-run home run) and managed the best Sox team of the 21st century. But I think this clip comes the closest to capturing all he brings to the table.
Angels: Albert Garcia. Dude doesn’t even have a wikipedia. 
Advantage: White Sox.

Third Base
White Sox: Robin Ventura. 
A two-time all star, six-time gold glove third baseman, and by all accounts a nice guy who was never as good of a manager as he was as a player.
Angels: Stoney Jackson. Appeared in the “Beat It” music video. Doesn’t seem to have heard of a “Drake LaRoche.” 
Advantage: Angels. As far as I know, Jackson never got his ass whooped by a 65-year-old Nolan Ryan. 

Left Field
White Sox: Tim Raines. 
A 10th-ballot hall of famer and arguably on the Mt. Rushmore of Montreal Expos players (I assume that this is a statue made out of chewing gum and used kilts outside a Montreal punk venue). 
Angels: Mark Cole. Actors without their own wikipedia pages are the theater equivalent of kids getting stuck playing left-center field. 
Advantage: White Sox.

Center Field
White Sox: Lance Johnson. 
Most famous for the fact that I somehow confuse his name with Larry Walker’s. Wikipedia tells me he’s the only person to lead both the AL and the NL in bats, hits, and triples, which is cool if that’s the thing you’re into. 
Angels: Matthew McConaughey. With McConaughey, you get power and longevity. The McConaissance was still decades away when McConaughey made this spectacular catch in center field. Dude had range, and no I’m not talking about going from Dallas Buyers Club to Wolf of Wall Street to True Detective to Interstellar in a calendar year.  Just imagine the 30–30 potential he would have deep into his Magic Mike era as a ballplayer. 
Advantage: Alright, alright, alright. Angels. 

Right Field
White Sox: Darrin Jackson.
 Jackson’s most notable career achievement to date has been the fact that he (mostly) stayed awake alongside Ed Farmer’s radio calls (RIP to a real one, Farmio). That fact alone is far more impressive than beating out Nicolas Cage for a bullshit Oscar for The Pianist.
Angels: Adrien Brody. This man definitely would not kneel for the national anthem. We never see him playing his position, but given his Mookie Betts–esque stature and Italian American–ass quaff, he must be a right fielder. 
Advantage: Angels, I guess. 

Designated Hitter
White Sox: Kit “Hit or Die” Kesey.
 In real life, this position would probably be filled by Julio Franco, who slashed .319/.406/.510 in 112 games. But one of the few White Sox players we actually get to see in the movie is good old “Hit or Die,” which doesn’t even come close to the worst nickname for a White Sox player. 
Angels: O.B. Babbs. He’s listed as only an “Angels Player” on Wikipedia, so I guess he gets slotted in at DH. 
Advantage: White Sox. You don’t cross a guy with a nickname like “Hit or Die,” especially when he’s allegedly the league RBI leader

Pitcher
White Sox: Jack McDowell.
 Played in a band that once opened for The Smithereens. Also pulled off a goatee for most of his career and won the Cy Young in the year before Anaheim started receiving angelbolic steroids. 
Angels: Tony Danza. Angels wasn’t Danza’s first or best role as a washed-up MLB player. In real life, Danza went 9–3 as a professional boxer, but in Angels it is revealed that he’s about to die because of his lifelong smoking (womp womp).
Advantage: White Sox.

Catcher: 
White Sox: Ron Karkovice.
Daddy. The only thing Ron Karkovice looked like he enjoyed more than performing an unconstitutional traffic stop is drinking a Miller High Life after mowing the lawn. 
Angels: Tony Longo.Daddier. And noted chili dog aficionado
Advantage: Nobody’s out-thiccing Longo. 

Manager
White Sox: Gene Lamont. 
Fresh off a 1993 Manager of the Year Campaign. Survived more than 15 years of working in Detroit and Pittsburgh. 
Angels: Danny Glover. Keeps referring to a mysterious, ill-fated “stint in Cincinnati” throughout the movie. But he won’t come clean about working with Mel Gibson? Also, google keeps thinking I’m trying to do half-assed research about Donald Glover. 
Advantage: White Sox. Say what you will, but Lamont never threw his players on the bus by suggesting that they needed angels to win a game.

Secret Weapon
White Sox: Michael Jordan.
 Performed surprisingly well at AA Birmingham while he was riding out the storm after retiring from the NBA under suspicious circumstances. Would probably choke out Ozzie during a practice. Remember, even angels buy shoes. 
Angels: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. College dropout. Shoehorns the female lead into a “manic pixie dream girl” persona in (500) Days of Summer. Had better chemistry with Tony Danza in Don Jon


As if that wasn’t bad enough, JGL gets savagely dunked on during one of the worst (among many) screenwriting of this film: 

  • [having just given up custody of Roger, JGL’s character, forever] 
  • Mr. Bomman (JGL’s character’s father): I’m sorry, boy. 
  • [he exits the courtroom]


Advantage: White Sox. And you know Jordan is betting on this game too. 

Owner
White Sox:
 Jerry Reinsdorf.
Angels: Ben Johnson.
Advantage: TBH both of these owners seem pretty anti-player and determined to lose rather than spend an extra dollar. This one’s a toss-up. 

Overall: If this game had actually occurred in real life, I had known about sports gambling, and the internet existed to the point where I could place a bet with an offshore sportsbook whose servers are located in modern-day Yugoslavia, this would have been a traumatic gambling loss for me. That is to say, it is patently absurd that the White Sox didn’t win this fictional game, and I hope that Disney deep-sixes Angels in the Outfield from Disney+ like it did to Song of the South and Star Wars: Ewoks

MLB End of Season Awards

Whether or not they know it yet, Major League Baseball’s 2020 season is coming to a close. Big boy in chief Bobby Manfred may not be a quitter, but COVID also isn’t backing down, and I know who my money is on (though I obviously also have a couple dollars on the underdog to cover any potential losses. No, it’s not an addiction if I’m good at it). As we approach the final days of the season, we at Left on Read wanted to honor the incredible effort put forth by every team over the demanding six games of the year. Without further ado, here are our picks for MLB’s end of season awards. 

MVP: Covid-19—Day in and day out, ole CoCo RoRo has been putting in work. Marlins? Speared. Cardinals? Shot right out of the sky. Yoenis Cespedes was literally so intimidated, he fled his team to avoid a potential match-up. There have been some impressive performances, but this one has been one for the history books.

Cy Young: Joe Kelly—An icon and a legend. Enough said.

Biggest Idiot Piece of Dogshit: Rob Manfred—Now it’s rare for a new award to be introduced, but this one is so very well-deserved. Rob Manfred has displayed the highest level of total incompetence any professional can, while simultaneously being a complete travesty of a human being. A true double-threat, Manfred deserves this award and the lifetime’s supply of Arby’s that comes with it.

Rookie of the Year: Baseball’s Complete Irrelevancy—Baseball’s Complete and Utter Irrelevancy as a national sport has been working hard in the minor leagues for years, but this is the year it finally squeezed into the Majors. After its amazing showing in the preseason, helping to almost entirely cripple the league’s 2020 season before it even started, we all knew it had potential. However, after this year’s performance, Baseball’s Total Lack of Appeal as the National Pastime has cemented itself as a force to be reckoned with, and I for one am incredibly excited to not see what it can do in the coming years. 

Is Kap Too Big for the NFL?

Colin Kaepernick should be on an NFL roster. 

More specifically, Colin Kaepernick should be on the Chicago Football Bears. Even MORE specifically, every NFL GM who failed to signed Kap in the past five years should be forced to personally bankroll the campaign of one-to-five senators who would vote to reauthorize voting rights for Black people.

But Kap is not in the NFL. And even as the nation comes to agree that—shocker—the man the president called a “son of a bitch” for demanding an end to extrajudicial police killings was probably in the right, it doesn’t appear anyone is set to sign him.

That’s a travesty, but not a surprise. Be it domestic violence policies, player safety, or the definition of a catch, “travesty” is a pretty good word to describe most of the NFL. 

So the question at this point is really whether Kaepernick should even want to play in the NFL. His Nike deal is worth millions per year, with his own brand of apparel reportedly in the works. His Know Your Rights Camp has emerged as one of the most prominent civil rights organizations of the recent movement. He’s set to narrate an Ava Duvernay-produced Netflix docuseries about his life.

He is, in the most cliched way, bigger than football.

Which gets back to the question of whether it would even make sense for him to spend his time playing a game when he could be affecting policy. 

Certainly, he’s got every right to do whatever he wants, and I can say from experience* that it’s exceedingly fun to play professional football when you have his kind of arm strength, speed, and agility. He’s already done more than enough for one lifetime off the field, and no one would blame him for taking a nice payday to back up Tom Brady for the next 15 to 20 years.

But suddenly the NFL feels too small for him. His return would be like Jordan going to Birmingham, or Obama being president. Yeah, he can probably do it… but why would he?

With Washington changing its name and nearly every major sports league embracing his message, Kaepernick’s return at once feels inevitable and impossible. By blackballing him, the NFL has backed itself into a corner from which the only escape is a roster spot. But by so forcefully winning in this billion-dollar-industry vs. mobile-QB-from-Nevada fight, Kaepernick would be almost degrading himself if he were to return.

Admittedly, I’m probably getting ahead of myself. Maybe the NFL will continue to snub him. No one’s ever lost money betting on oligarchs to do the wrong thing.

But if the day comes when Kap suits back up in the NFL, it’s hard to imagine it’ll be satisfying.

*Legal note: I cannot say this from experience.

20 New Nicknames for the Washington Professional Football Team

At long last, Dan Snyder has done the impossible and finally caved to pressure from corporate sponsors, fans, and the Native American community (probably in that order) and announced that the Washington professional football team will retire its racist nickname. Here are 20 recommendations for what the team’s new name should be: 

  1. The Washington Dan Snyder Profit Padders
  2. The Washington Remember Clinton Portis? He Was Fun! 
  3. The Washington Tarped Off-enders
  4. Joe Gibbs Racing
  5. The Washington Mile Away From Public Transport Walkers
  6. The Washington Redtubes
  7. The Washington 7–9ers
  8. The Really Located in Maryland but Say They’re Located in D.C. Georgetown Preppers
  9. The Washington Devil’s Triangles
  10. The Washington Obese Midwestern Tourists
  11. The Washington Metro Fires
  12. The Washington And Lee Grads
  13. The Washington Brownnosers
  14. The Washington Network
  15. The Washington Fighting Gingham Shirts
  16. The Washington Bars That Turn You Away If You’re Wearing Flip-Flops. Fuck You, El Centro On 14th Street, You’re A Shitty, Seedy Establishment And I’m Glad You Didn’t Give Me The Chance To Patronize You On That Fateful August Night A Few Years Ago. I Went To Drafting Table Instead And Watched Premier League Re-Airs While Sipping Two Nice Beers Instead Of Your Bottom-Shelf, Taint-Filtered Tequila Shots. If I Wanted To Have Some Junior Analyst From The Inter-American Development Bank Bump Into Me While Salsa Dancing With His Extremely Intoxicated 20-Year-Old Intern, I Would Go To Clarendon.
  17. The Washington Chodes
  18. The Washington Dark Money “Free Market” Think Tanks
  19. The Washington Dark Money “Free Market” Military Tanks
  20. The Washington Bethesdas 

The MLS is BACK, Babyyy

Take it from somebody who has tried getting into Premier League soccer over the past couple of weeks: top-level soccer kind of womps. Players flop like James Harden getting hit by a paintball. NBC refuses to pump in audio of Everton fans calling refs wankers. And the players are too dang handsome (or they are Wayne Rooney).  

But MLS? The North American soccer league with League One–caliber talent, (probably) less racist fans, and way cooler jerseys? Nah dude, the MLS is dope as hell. 

The best thing in sports I saw this week occurred in the second half of a game between the Bridgeview Fire and the Seattle Sounders. Behold:
Look at that shit. I certainly have—100 times at least (it was hard to learn how to make a gif). I’ve been starved for sports content for weeks, barely getting by on KBO bat flips and NBA bubble gossip. This though? This is manna from the content heaven. 

It is on from the second that ball hangs in the air and you realize that something very nasty is about to happen. Even the announcer muttered an “oh no” when he saw the collision coming. Then the small dude gets absolutely, insanely, completely and utterly TRUCKED by Fire striker Robert Berić. 
I hadn’t realized I’ve been missing this feeling since Rudy Gobert ended sports—that feeling you get where your body reacts almost before your brain, where your organs draw up a little into your stomach and you can’t help but shout “oh shit” at your screen as something very physical happens. I didn’t turn on my TV yesterday morning to see a small guy get shoulder-pancaked into filthy Floridian dirt by a Slovenian, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the best part of the 90 minutes I spent watching mediocre soccer.

And all this comes before Lord Berić Putyouonyourassagain pulls some next-level video game shit to finish the play: 
Sick, right? So yeah, the MLS can be cool as heck. Maybe it’s fun in the way that shit-going-horribly-awry-in-AA-minor-league-baseball can be fun. But at a certain point, what’s the difference when I get to yell “motherFUCKER” at my TV because I was thrilled out of my seat by something so physically imposing yet graceful that it can only be done by a professional athlete?

I don’t know that we deserve sports coming back in America yet. The return of sports should be a reward for doing things well, which we most certainly have not. And I don’t know if we’ll even make it to the NBA, MLB, and NHL’s return date without it being a physical (if not a moral) impossibility to play sports. 

But I do know that watching live sports during the middle of the day made me happy. Listening to a veritable United Nations of on-field chatter in Spanish, German, and English made me happy. And these gifs made me especially happy. I hope they made you happy too.