Sunday, January 1, 2012

I'm back for more cash ... wait, no one's paying me for this thing?

Happy New Year everyone.
As we bid adieu to 2011, I’ve decided to ring in 2012 with an actual blog post (my apologies for the layoff. I’m blaming it on Obama)
So my first resolution of the new year is to quit being a lazy son of a bitch and blog more, so here ya go. (OK, actually that was my second resolution. My first was to stop Tebowing in public. It’s become a problem)
And for those of you who know me and know my writing, you know I do my best work when I’m angry. So I figured it’s only appropriate to get back on the wagon by railing against some stupid people.
Giddy up.

ESPN laziness
I know it’s become fashionable of late to take shots at the Worldwide Leader. Deadspin has absolutely torched them in recent years, while ex-employees (i.e. Dan Patrick, Bruce Feldman), and a fabulous book (Those Guys Have All The Fun) have exposed the egocentric culture and unprofessionalism of the network.
Even though some things about ESPN annoy me (Sunday NFL Countdown, their MLB announcers, Doug Gottlieb), many other things I truly enjoy (PTI, 30 for 30, Jay Bilas). And I, like many, will rewatch the exact same Sportscenter 3 or 4 times every morning.
But many of their writers, mostly college basketball ones, have gotten increasingly lazy to the point where I’m not even sure they watch the games.
Dana O’Neil comes to mind.
O’Neil, who apparently has become the de facto Big East writer for ESPN.com, started the annual bandwagon of railing against Syracuse’s nonconference schedule this season. It’s become a tradition -- someone at ESPN (most likely Dick Vitale) crushes the Orange for not playing enough true road games.
There are two problems with this. Firstly, not a single team in the top 25 played more than two true road games this season. Secondly, everyone outside of New York assumes that Madison Square Garden is down the block from the Carrier Dome.
Sure, North Carolina State was Syracuse’s only true nonconference road game this season. My question is, does it matter?
According to O’Neil, Syracuse apparently is disrespecting the game of basketball by not scheduling November and December games in Boise, Idaho or Long Beach.
Well, here’s something O’Neil didn’t mention -- prior to Big East play, Syracuse’s nonconference strength of schedule was fifth best in the nation. Fifth.
This past week, O’Neil was back on the Syracuse beat, but this time she was paying credit to Fab Melo, who has made a spectacular leap from his freshman to sophomore year.
Unfortunately, O’Neil’s story (http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/7393208/the-education-fab-melo-continues-syracuse-orange-college-basketball) is both lazy and ridden with clich├ęs.
BREAKING NEWS: It’s cold in Central New York. It might even snow this winter. Way to go with that scoop, Dana. I'm sure the most interesting thing about Fab is that he purchased gloves this winter. Please.
The bigger news is that Fab has improved even without his former big man coach, Bernie Fine. To not even mention Fine in the story is actually offensive.
After Melo’s 12-point, 10-block domination against Seton Hall on Wednesday, the Hall’s coach credited the SU coaching staff for Melo’s transformation. Well, whether people want to admit it or not, most of that credit goes to Fine, who worked with Fab all summer and helped him get in playing shape.
I’ll give O’Neil credit, the stuff from his high school days was interesting and helped give some perspective. But there was nothing in the rest of the story that I didn’t already know, and I’m not even around the team anymore.
OK, I’m done with Dana O’Neil. Now it’s on to our favorite bracketologist, Joe Lunardi. Two weeks ago before the NC State game, Lunardi tweeted this gem: “When Syracuse visits NC State on Saturday, it will have been 1,092 days since the Orange last played a non-conference road game. Seriously.”
What Lunardi fails to mention is that during that span Syracuse played Kansas at Kansas City and Florida in Tampa. Those aren’t road games, but apparently traveling 3.5 hours to Madison Square Garden is considered a “home” game. Gimme a break.
I’m glad Syracuse played DePaul in Chicago on Sunday -- it was their first game outside the Eastern seaboard. Can’t believe Lunardi wasn’t all over that nugget.

Well, it felt good to get that off my chest. And as Syracuse continues its reign at No. 1, more people will be talking about and writing about the Orange, so I’m sure I’ll be provided with plenty more ammunition all the way through March.
It’s good to be back, my friends.