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Twitter Tolerance, and a Column I Think You’ll Like

 

New Puck DaddyOn the many ways players get told they’re being traded.

*****

My cousin Adam is on twitter (he’s a good follow, aside from his shiiiiiitty taste is sports teams. @Hnatty92. Really, Dolphins, Senators and Rangers? Have some pride.), and had a friend tweet a pretty funny joke, which he promptly retweeted for Darren Dreger to read…. who promptly blocked him. 

It was when Dreger introduced his new blog, The Dreger Report.  Making a play on the fact that the infamous hockey “insider” “Eklund” just bites everything Dreger tweets, says or sings and claims it as his own information, the oh-so-scandalous tweet was: “Looking forward to the introduction of The Dreklund Report tomorrow.”

Of all things to block someone over…..

Given the BS Dreger probably gets from the public, I don't blame him for being quick on the block gun.

Anyway, it got me thinking about Twitter tolerance: how much should we have?  Not only do I want to block, ohhh, 5% of my followers, but I want to punch about 4% of them.  I don’t, because….whatever.  How hard is it for me to simply ignore their messages and just forget they’re reading mine?

So as of this moment, I’ve only blocked one person, and it wasn’t for any one tweet that really irked me.  It was just a constant barrage of shitty, negative responses to everything I put out there that I didn’t want to deal with.  I had engaged said random person before and didn’t like their tone, and still resisted the block. 

But you know how sometimes you just have “one of those days?”  He said something minorly annoying when I was already annoyed, so I said eff it, and blocked him.

There’s a commenter on Puck Daddy who I don’t appreciate either (Benjimann or something, I dunno), not because the guy is mean and hateful, just…..why comment with one negative sentence on every post?  Piss off.

Anyway, there was an interesting story from Jeff Pearlman of CNN/SI who actually sought out a couple of his blatantly hateful commenters, tracked down their phone numbers and called them, only to find them apologetic, basically explaining a) it’s easier behind the walls of the internet and b) they didn’t think he’d be reading.

Point is, I am, in fact, reading your comments and replies, even if I don’t have time to respond because I have to work, or am simply not at my computer, but reading on the phone.

Those people he called probably got what they wanted – his attention – which sucks, but it goes to prove a point: Not many people are really as crappy as their hateful internet comments, so I’m calling out to all of us to be better from now on.  There’s nothing wrong with being a sarcastic dick, but the actul vicious, nippy stuff?  It’s unnecessary.

The internet isn’t new anymore, and it’s time we up the etiquette a little.  Not here on this blog, by the way, everyone here could stand to be a little more disagreeable, if anything.  But when you comment on other people’s work, or tweets, or videos….how about questions about the stuff you don’t like instead of leaving a line of hate and moving on to LOLcats without even realizes you soiled a moment of someone’s day?  Open the conversation up.

Go buy Bob's book.

I’m not the Almighty Polite or anything.  I’m not all free-love and we have to agree on everything, just look at my post yesterday that involved Adam Proteau.  It’s just healthy once in awhile to realize this new internet age is the death of the one-sided conversation you used to get from sportswriters like Rick Reilly, who by the way, are at the forefront of the blogs-are-stupid, what’s-this-tweeter-thing-I-keep-hearing-about resistance.

Nobody in the world has adjusted better than Bob McKenzie, who happily LOL’s his way through his @’s, making people realize he’s a person, not just some guy who spouts hockey info on TV all day long.  We know about his sons, his musical tastes, and more.  We feel like we know him, because he’s embraced the recent shifting of the plate tectonics under the sports media world, and we like him all the more for it.

Times have changed, so it’s time that we do too.

*****

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The Truth Doesn't Always Hurt

 

The hypocrisy of honesty is an interesting mainstay in our society.

From telling kids “real beauty is on the inside” like Jim Carrey admits is garbage in Liar Liar, to our own personal relationships, where we agree it’s just easier to tell our large, pregnant wives that they look great, for fear of the backlash - we allow certain levels of untruth.

I just read the first chapter of Kevin Sites book “In The Hot Zone”, where he spends time alone in 20 war zones over the span of one year.  Sites had a crazy incident in Fallujah a couple years ago where he happened to videotape a Marine shooting an unarmed, wounded insurgent in the back of the head.

He faced a dilemma – release the tape to NBC, his employer (who was in a media pool, agreeing to release the tape to other news stations), and risk the backlash (losing trust from the Marines, backlash from the insurgents with suicide bombings, being labeled anti-American…), or act like it never happened and bury it.

Sites released a slightly cleaner version where the video pauses before the actual shooting, but the sound carries on.  Viewers aren’t confused about the outcome.

He was under a journalistic code of ethics – seek and report the truth (he adds that few outside the profession realize the disclaimer while minimizing harm).  Hate mail and death threats later, it’s obvious his life could have been easier without telling the truth, but he had the courage to relate it to the world.

So I got to thinking.

UnderScore on Sirius 98 asked me to interview partly to discuss maintaining a personality in sports, where the professionals are so often groomed in PR training (every team I ever played for gave a list of advice, safe answers, and things to avoid saying).

But in the context of Kevin Sites (and the other stories he tells, like the one about Eddie Adams, the award-winning photographer in Vietnam who says he “killed a General” by capturing him doing what he shouldn’t have done – leading to the Generals downfall), …is “bulletin board material” that big of a deal, hockey players?

Do we have to spend time training our athletes to watch what they say?  Would it be such a crisis to hear Sidney Crosby say “of course we’re going to beat Philly, Biron is awwwwful… you’ve seen the guy play!”

I loved the interview with Calvin Borel after he won the Kentucky Derby – tears and honesty everywhere.  Before the Preakness they asked him about his chances, and he straight faced told them he was going to win, and he was sure of it. 

It was so refreshing.  Clearly, jockeys don’t undergo the same type of media training, or scrutiny.  Bob Costas looked caught-off-guard by the actual honest answer, and could barely stammer out a response.

The truth here, is that we’re just. playing. sports.

Some things are better left unsaid, for sure.  But we need to stop over-hyping verbal miscues (24 hour sports and news networks are filling time for about 16 of those hours, I’d guess) and gives these guys some space.  I, for one, don’t enjoy the rantings of Jeremy Roenick, but I appreciate his candor.

So speak up puck-jockeys!  There are people in this world with real, important things going on, and you’re shooting vulcanized rubber into twine.  If I hear one more stagnant hockey interview I’m buying a Terrell Owens jersey and switching sports.

GET’CHA POPCORN READY!

Why Guys Like Hanging Out Without Girls

 

I’ll tell you why:

Guys don’t remember shit.

It can be a Monday afternoon at some dive bar with buddies, and if a girl is there, anything you do or say can and will be used against you in the Court of Long-Term Conversation.  Girls remember everything.  You’ll run into the same girl from that Monday at Ikea fourteen years later and she’ll say something like “How’d that job interview with the Prime Minister go?”

  ….  … Shit.

You’re brain immediately starts processing old lies like an early 90′s IBM.  This never would have happened with your guy friends.

The ladies remember.  A half-cocked barstool claim is supposed to hold the weight of helium.  It kinda takes the fun out of it when you have to back it up.  “Thought you were gonna lose 15 pounds?”

Ouch.

Plus, when you talk with girls, you kind of have to have that filter on.  You can be edgy, even coarse, but you you still have to keep it on this side of reasonable.  Guys say some outlandish things to their buddies without a second thought, whether it’s a real opinion or not; shock value is half the fun.  There’s always that fear of some girl in your group dying laughing at your crude friend’s gay and racist jokes, then turning to stone at your orphan one.  Curses.  Thought she was an exception.

You know what else guys like about hanging out with guys?  You don’t need evidence for your opinions like it’s a history test.  “That guy’s a dick” may not be evidence enough for marks in class, but hey, it’s good by most dudes.  Girls ask follow up questions.

“Why?”

“What’d he do to you?”

“Did you ever think that maybe you feel that way because — stop.  No.  I haven’t thought about it beyond the last word of “That guy’s a dick”.  I don’t like him.

We don’t need each others re-assurance that we’re liked or good enough from each other.  Girls constantly have a pulse on the conversation, keeping tabs on the vital signs of all the relationships at the table like a surgeon.  We are oblivious to that stuff.  Who needs that extra stress?

Four guys could sit at a bar and one could contribute absolute zero on the Kelvin scale.  He could sit in his chair, chuckling and drinking his beer, and nobody would think to ask him if he was okay, what’s wrong, or playfully say ”you’re awfully quiet.”  The real bonus of dudery is, if one of the guys is talking too much, we’re able to make simple statements like ”Dude, shut the f%$& up“.  Girls are so afraid to hurt feelings they’ll let ”that girl” hold the mic all night.  Stop her, please.

It’s fun to go out with guys because the next day the previous night is over and behind us.  For all the dumb comments and bets I’ve heard guys make, I can’t remember more than two.  But, I do remember two.  I’d like to use this forum to remind the losers of the only two high school bets I still remember how much they suck.  This is fun.

One:  Dear Paul Hampson.  Ryan Beckmann was right.  Gretzky scored 92 goals the year he set the NHL record, not 96.  After all that passionate debating…. you lose.

Two:  Paul, I’ve got your back on this one.  Like we said we would, we beat all takers in four player NHL 2000.  Including the highly advertised, doubly publicized sell out event where our opponents nearly cried, thanks to Corbett’s heavily biased verbal chastising.  You know who you are out there.  I mean really, who freezes the puck in video game hockey?

I’m not making the claim that guys never like hanging out with girls, I’m just saying we do enjoy our just-guys nights.  Hell, my girlfriend is a ton of fun.  But there’s always that risk…

Hey, last night when you said….

Ohhh boy.  Herrre we go.

 

*Context for the top shelf of the picture below:  It was college, we lived in that place for 3 years, and we lived in Alaska.  Regardless, we had some pretty stupid conversations in those days that’ve gotten swept under the rug.  I Charlie Kronschnabel Guarantee it.

same-as-freshies1

Through The Fog

 

My thoughts are a murky, sluggish assemblage of half-organized sentences this morning.  Since I’m back in Boise for the week to finish my doctor visits, I went to the Steelheads game last night and caught up with the guys after.  I’m treating the next person to suggest I get braces like Rhianna (oooh …too soon?).  The following are things I remember from the bar last night that I feel are worthy of mention.

-Crocs are the sweatpants of shoes.  If you’re wearing them in public, you’ve given up.

- My bartending buddy Jake shaved his one year beard, apparently letting go of his dream of playing Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings 4.  He had, apparently, read my bit on the awkward mandshake (thats copyrighted) and went out of his way to make me uncomfortable during our hello.  In hindsight, thats funny.  In current sight, TIME just ran a piece about the new handshakes and hugs of men.  I feel so relevant.

- Girls are getting a little presumptuous.  As my readers are probably aware, I’m a happily taken man.  Last night,  I leaned on a foosball table, and one of the metal poles that the mini-Pele’s are floating on moved to the other side of the table, poking some girl in the back.  She turned around, held up her engagement ring and said “nice try“.  Really?  Is this a common form of attempted pick up, the foosball pole in the back?  “Oo, Janine, that guy keeps ramming a metal handle in my back, should I go talk to him??”  I hate the bar.

- I furthered my old person stance on crowded bars last night.  I like to drink, but I’d rather do it with people I like and somewhere I can actually hear them.  I think I’m officially over putting myself in a stew of  drunk girls (oh my god no waaay!) and dudes who want to enforce their place on the food chain, which from what I can tell, has Italians just over lions, but just below rich kids.  Having 20 teammates at a bar is the ultimate trump card to the tough guy bluff though, so I enjoyed that.  Eddie describes Italians better than me.  Beware, awful (hilarious) language:

Maybe it’s just because I’m a tad hungover and have the stupids, but I’m dying laughing right now.  There’s a famous YouTube video I’m sure a lot of you have seen that I’ve been watching.  So,while I’m abusing Italians (which is really odd, since I don’t actually hold any prejudice), let me recommend the video “My New Haircut” on YouTube.  Talk about the bar scene in a nutshell.  The language is just a little too bad to put on my blog (especially the start), so Mom and those of you who are here because of all the animal pictures, you don’t need to look at that video.  Everyone else, you do.  Yes Dad, you need to check it out too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JMOh-cul6M

- Hockey players aren’t that bright to begin with, so talking to a drunk one is like communicating with particle board.  It boggles my head-meat that girls continue to enjoy their company.

- Here’s a big one:  I think I’m over mustaches being funny.  It was a great little gag for a bit there to be in your 20′s and shave in a ridiculous mustache, but I kinda think I’m over it.  I feel like George and Kramer telling Jerry the “helllooooo” voice is passe.  I really feel bad saying it,  I’m sorry.  But it’s over for me.

Anyways, those are my little thoughts for the morning.  Back in Boise means back to blogging.  I’ve finished my second little bit for The Hockey News, which is exciting, mostly because of the response to the first.  I shaved the first submission down from 1550 words to 700 with some help, so the meat of it will be printed in the magazine soon!

Parting facts: NBC showed an excellent hockey game today.  Alexander Ovechkin is the most electric player ever to play hockey.

And the best news of the day….. Drumroll please…..  NBC ran a commercial in which Tiger Woods is simply tying his golf shoes and whistling “Eye of the Tiger”.  At the end they display the words “He’s baaack”.  Hurray!

Aw, Sidney. You're A Good Boy.

 

I figured it out Canada.  I know why hockey isn’t being embraced by the rest of the world (read: the United States).  Personality.  Thank God Ovechkin showed up, he’s given our game a chance.  The problem started with great ambassadors to the game like Gretzky.  Sure, the Gretzky trade to L.A. was probably the single biggest influence in bringing the game to Americans, but it wasn’t his playing or his personality that damped enthusiasm.  It was his level of class.  

It didn’t do harm in his era, because there was still a volume of loud mouth entertainers playing at the same time (Tiger Williams used to ride his stick.  Actually.  That happened).  The  problem became that kids grew up idolizing Wayne and in turn were speaking with respect about their opponent and modestly about their own contributions. I respect Gretzky’s public persona, and wish we could sell that game to the US without a little unnecessary flair, but I’m not sure it’s possible.  They love that stuff. 

Kids wanted to be Gretter.  And our parents wanted the same.  Whaaattt a wonnnderful example he set.  Cordial, polite and professional, he simply achieved the highest goal:  Win.  Facts and polite smiles at every turn.  Other leagues have their biggest stars saying the most obscene things and creating sub-plots fit for theatre (Slapshot reference: how about the implied storyline that never develops any farther then “He’s been living in semi-seclusion in Northern Quebec, Andre “The Poodle” Lessard…”).  These sub-plots are everywhere in hockey, but they exist behind closed doors.  Frankly, the media isn’t savvy enough to dig them up.  I think the guys covering the NFL wiretap the room or something.

But take Sidney Crosby, Gretzky’s protege.  What a player.  Whether you think he’s the best, or a baby, or whatever, you can’t deny that he’s good.  But he’s the last thing the NHL needed.  A superstar saying the right thing.  Sean Avery wasn’t a fair representation of the NHL (though he was of himself), but, man.  ESPN couldn’t get enough of this guy.  I literally didn’t know Mats Sundin played for the Canucks until I got home on the weekend.  But I knew how many pinstripes were on the suit Avery was wearing at his internship for Vogue.  I knew his dating history, his slightly effeminate manner for an agitator, and could have diagnosed him with a psychological condition. 

If Mike Comrie would say”I could care less that we lost, I’m going to Hannah Montana, er, Hillary Duffs birthday party tonight”, like he’s actually thinking, people might follow our game a bit closer.  Everyone in America cannot wait to hear what Terrell Owens says after he finishes a game with 1 catch for 8 yards.  It’s a soap opera.

(I enjoy both the hat, and that the clip helps my case at the start, in the middle, and to finish)

And thats whats lacking in our game.  We don’t need constant rule fixes, highlighted pucks or outdoor games (but those are great, keep those going).  The teams and the league need to stop worrying so much about bulletin board material.  You know, those apparently motivating comments like “The Islanders defence sucks” before you play the Islanders.  You know what?  The Islanders defence does suck.  Just because they know that you think it, doesn’t mean they can stop anything. 

This black-balling of flair from the game may be the NHL’s biggest turn-off, including Gary Bettman.  Coaches love to warn their team about the evils of disrespecting your opponent in the media and how it’s going to give them fuel.  It’s just not true.  Plus, you can respect your opponent and still say something interesting and relevant into the microphone can’t you?  Hockey definitely leads major sports in regurgitated answers.  Phrases like “gut check” are nauseasting.  I used to think it was because hockey players aren’t that smart (they aren’t), but I reeeeeaaalllly don’t think basketball or football players finished with higher GPA’s.  But it’s just not necessary to be so wary of what we say.  Never once in my career have a I thought “I can’t believe Steve Defenceman doesn’t think our team can score.  I’m gonna score so many more goals now to prove him wrong”.  I was already trying to score. 

Please, coaches, Gary Bettman, team captains… loosen up.  Let the fans see a little of that passion,  and a few of those storylines that stay buried.  I promise it will be more fun if they notice that right from the drop of the puck #17 has been clipping #22 in the mouth with his elbow everytime they line up for a face off.  I promise if will be more fun if more people notice your game.  Enough Sidney.  You’re a good boy.  You’re a good boy.

     Okay, maybe we could use a liiiittle censorship. 

I haven’t seen an NHL highlight in the US since that clip.  Loosen up boys.

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