The NCAA tournament kicked out all the Big Ten teams and honestly it’s gatekeeping

I was watching the NCAA non-women’s tournament and I noticed they literally kept making the Big Ten teams leave? Like it didn’t matter who they were playing, no matter how Oral the Roberts or how Sister the Jean, they wouldn’t let the Big Ten team stay and play.

We MUST name this behavior: it’s gatekeeping, and it’s toxic.

To all the Big Ten teams who have been sent home I just want to say that I see you. You are valued. You have worth. Except for Ohio State, obviously.

There are so many reasons that this isn’t very sicko mode of the NCAA, but let’s just say that it’s literally super problematic and if they don’t drop the notes app apology soon we literally might cancel this much-beloved institution. It is sad and wrong that a Big Ten team hasn’t been allowed to shatter the glass backboard in over 20 years. 

Honestly? I haven’t seen this much cultural control to prevent Midwesterners from dancing since Footloose. What do we have instead? Coastal elitism that only provides Sweet 16 access to the Pac 12. It’s truly a shame that an egalitarian organization like the NCAA would instead take it upon itself to decide who from the corn belt can or cannot contend for a spot in the Final Four.

Call me crazy, but the only “madness” this March is limiting college basketball’s most promising conference to 7–8 in tournament play. It’s time for the NCAA to stop limiting which teams can contend for a men’s college basketball championship. 

So let’s check the gatekeeping receipts. And let’s end the cultural gatekeeping that has oppressed the Big Ten for far too long. 

Proposed new features of the EA Sports college football game

College football’s video game is coming back! Will the players get paid? Probably not! Aside from rectifying a system that profits off of the unpaid, mostly non-white labor pool of college football players, here is our wishlist that we’d love to see in the new game: 

  • Newly improved post-game interviews with 1,000+ pre-programmed excuses from Dabo Swinney. 
  • MyMovement Mode: Do you have what it takes to form a student-athlete union that will be recognized by the NLRB? Or would you rather use the vast array of institutional wealth and power at your disposal to crush a rising labor movement? Whether you’re notorious Pinkerton Pat Fitzgerald or a scrappy upstart who just wants to get paid for his name and likeness, the future of the sham of amateurism is in your hands.
  • You can write customized death threats to the Alabama kicker if he misses a game-winning kick.
  • WR #5 Wheel Route now 20% more effective. 
  • Enhanced school finances—don’t even think about digging FSU out of its self-imposed hole until you can find a booster willing to pay off two coaches’ buyouts at the same time.
  • More Lane Kiffin. Less Mike Leach.
  • As head coach, you can now be de-platformed by the student body of your school.
  • Dozens of new celebrations, including the Florida Shoe Launch.
  • If you win enough bowl games in Dynasty Mode, you get a wildly undeserved Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • You can only play games with PAC-12 teams between the hours of 10pm and 3am ET. 
  • EA Sports has partnered with Amanda Gorman to provide a spoken word tribute at the beginning of any Rivalry Game. If you thought you couldn’t be driven to tears by a lyrical ode to the Iron Skillet, the trophy given to the winner of Southern Methodist vs. Texas Christian, you’re wrong.
  • Some new liberties are taken with the general science around how pathogens spread.
  • They made it so you can’t play as Boston College anymore, just to see if anyone will notice.
  • Every three years Baylor gets expelled but HOOOO BOY those years in between.
  • Public approval in Ann Arbor about Jim Harbaugh is programmed to decline 8 to 10% each year, depending on how badly the Wolverines lose to Michigan State.
  • You get the Turnover Chain when you play as Miami until about the 40th season, when Miami is submerged by rising sea levels.
  • Every school is sponsored by Jumpman except Michigan. They’re a Skechers school now
  • Oddly enough, you can still play as Penn State. It’s just allowed.
  • You can now choose from a list of preselected social causes to replace “EA Sports” when you turn the game on, so the game offers intros like “Black Lives Matter: It’s In The Game,” or “Minimizing the Budget Deficit: It’s In The Game.”
  • Penix Enlargement
  • After considerable public pressure, the game finally has an intoxicated Matthew McConaughey streak at about one of every twenty Texas games.
  • You get to shave Trevor Lawrence’s head if you want.
  • It has Pat McAfee now. Sorry.
  • An all new alternative reality where Hugh Freeze isn’t like that. 
  • Nothing can stop you from giving Coastal Carolina the championship berth it deserves. Go ahead, try it.
  • Brent Musberger provides 45 minutes of gambling tips before each game. You can’t skip this part.
  • There’s no more pandemic but the coaches are still wearing masks under their mouths, just for the hell of it 🙂
  • If you play a Mascot game, hit up + B + left trigger for the Stanford Tree to sack tap Big Red.
  • You lose a coupla points every time your coach thinks a racial slur (they do NOT say them out loud).
  • All Georgia QBs are named either Travis Hunter or Hunter Travis. 
  • After the game it tells you which players stormed the Capitol.
  • You can have a female kicker, but the option is only available when your team sucks so much ass that you don’t ever actually get within field goal range.

The Case for a Philip Rivers vs. Alex Smith Super Bowl

After the dumbest week in the dumbest season in the dumb history of the dumbest sport, the NFL playoffs are set. There are a few noteworthy elements of this year’s bracket: Ron Rivera has once again led a shitty team to the playoffs by virtue of being in a terrible division, the Cleveland Browns are in the playoffs for the first time since 1840, and Tom Brady is still not eating strawberries.

While these narratives should add some flavor to the first week of the playoffs, there’s another one that’s much more important: there is a chance that we could have a Super Bowl that pits Philip Rivers against Alex Smith in what would surely be the most glorious rockfight between two twilit quarterbacks since Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson faced off in Super Bowl XXXV. And if you’re not rooting for that outcome, you’re either clinically insane or you prefer to watch football that is good.

Let’s just go through some facts here. For starters, Rivers and Smith (to be sung aloud in a Head And The Heart voice) have been alive for a combined 75 years, and I think that’s beautiful.

Alex Smith, who has done so much game-managing that he has rightly earned the title of Dungeon Master, instigated America’s racial awakening when he was benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick in 2012. He had SEVENTEEN surgeries after his leg injury two years ago. (I know what you’re thinking: that has to be at least two surgeries per Philip Rivers offspring! Well, it is not.) Somehow, he still decided he wanted to come back and play football for a team whose three-letter appellation reads as the sound of quiet fart. 

Philip Rivers, on the other hand, spent sixteen fairly prolific years stuck in San Diego because Eli Manning is a mouth-breathing peen, finally leaving last year to take a shot at a ring with a new team. He has the facial expressions of a Blue Mountain State character and the political views of Rick Santorum. That’s not an exaggeration, he literally stumped for Santorum. The politician, not the anal ooze.

For all the immense quarterback talent in this year’s playoffs — Aaron Rodgers, Pat Mahomes, and some other marquee names who, and I cannot stress this enough, can still get the Rodgers Rate and/or the Patrick Price at State Farm — I think it would be fun as hell to see two grizzled, socially conservative veterans duke it out for their last chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy.

Hell, I’ll even take it further than that: these two guys represent the New American Dream. They started their careers in California, realized it sucked ass, and moved back East to settle down with their families and fade away into obscurity. They pulled off the Reverse Steinbeck and stuck the landing. 

Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson — sure, they’re fun and all, but this year, I want something different. So, with that in mind, I encourage you to join me in a refrain that has echoed through Corporate America for centuries: give me the mediocre middle-aged white men.

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

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.

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. 

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. 

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.