Forgiving the Scapegoats

Forgiving the Scapegoats

Dan Shulman is no stranger to making big calls he didn’t expect to make. He was the announcer for the legendary game five between the Blue Jays and the Rangers in the 2015 ALDS. You know, the one where the benches cleared. Twice. In one inning. It took 18 minutes for the umps to figure out what the hell they were supposed to do, and while they waited, the fans decided they wanted to throw things all over the field. It was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen and I was watching on TV, Dan Shulman was there. Dan Shulman was also the person tasked with announcing that Osama Bin Laden, former leader of Al Qaeda, had been compromised, and he had to make this announcement in the middle of Sunday night baseball, a time slot where people generally don’t expect to hear news of that magnitude. Back to the baseball though, because I could go on forever about how Dan Shulman is a great announcer and all of the weird things he has seen. That 2015 ALDS catastrophe was exactly 12 years after the famed Steve Bartman incident, which Dan Shulman was also announcing. “Moisés is unhappy with the fan. Moisés went into the seats; he could have had that ball if a fan didn’t interfere with him.” That’s a quote from Dan, who was likely just as shocked as everyone else watching about what had just happened. It took everyone a minute to figure out what they should be feeling, and when they did, they let everyone know. They were mad. 40,000 people, in the place generally thought of as the friendliest place in baseball, were all booing a very confused Steve Bartman. Full disclosure: I’m a bandwagon Cubs fan so I’m sure this situation doesn’t hurt me nearly as bad as it would hurt someone who paid to see their favorite team that hadn’t won a championship in nearly 100 years attempt to get one step closer to accomplishing something once again that no one currently alive has ever seen the Cubs do. The Cubs hadn’t (and still haven’t) been to the World Series since 1945, and this was the closest they had gotten since then. They were leading the Marlins 3-2 in the series, and 3-0 in the game. Mark Prior was on the mound and had thrown a great game until the eighth inning. With one out and a runner on second Luis Castillo hit a foul ball down the left field line. It was close to the wall and Moisés Alou got underneath it as he prepared to jump up to snag it and get the second out of the inning when an unsuspecting hand reached out and plucked the ball from the air before Moisés could grab it. Steve Bartman likely paid around 300 dollars to see the team he had rooted for his whole life play in the biggest game he would likely ever see. Steve Bartman probably never thought he’d have a chance to catch a foul ball, being that there were 40,000 other people there, and the odds were pretty good that he wouldn’t. But alas, one foul ball did, and it made Steve Bartman become the most hated man in Chicago, at least that night. As the barrage of boos continued on, the game did as well. The Cubs lost that game obviously, and the series, but whenever it comes up, everyone just thinks of it as “the Bartman game.” Why is that? Why is everyone so quick to forget that the Cubs managed to give up 8 runs in one inning, or that they lost game seven, or that the crowd completely turned against them at the end of game six? How is all of that Steve Bartman’s fault? He was hiding during game seven, and he has been ever since, how did he cause that? Why didn’t the other fans just move on and go back to supporting their team? Well, there’s a few reasons. First of all, Moisés Alou didn’t let it go. He yelled something at Bartman and threw his glove down, and the rest of the stadium followed his lead, meaning that for the rest of the series the Cubs fans had essentially decided that all was lost and they should just give up. The players didn’t give up, losing game seven 9-6, but it didn’t matter what the players did in game seven, they had already lost. In Cubs baseball when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong. If Steve Bartman hadn’t blocked the ball, they still might have lost that game, there’s no way to know. But the reason that everyone blames Steve is mostly because everything in sports needs a scapegoat, and Steve Bartman is just a very unlucky person, who became a part of a long history of sports scapegoats when he went to catch a foul ball at a baseball game. Steve wasn’t the only one to reach for the ball.shapesThree other people in that picture were reaching for that ball, Steve just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The abuse from the rest of the fans at the game got so bad that he had to be escorted out because security feared there might be violence against him. Steve hasn’t given an interview about the incident to anyone, and he’s now working in financial services, still in Chicago, at least as of 2013. He still hasn’t been back to Wrigley since that game, according to his agent. Steve never wanted to be known. He just wanted to root for the team he loves. Steve Bartman doesn’t deserve what he went through, but no scapegoat ever does. A few years before Bartman, it was Nick Anderson missing three free throws in the 1995 NBA Finals against the Rockets. Shaq also had 7 turnovers in that game, but who cares, that wasn’t scapegoatable enough. Andres Escobar scoring an own goal in the world cup literally cost him his life in 1994. Before that, it was Chris Webber, calling a timeout that Michigan didn’t have, essentially giving North Carolina a national championship. The fab five didn’t win a championship, and that most certainly isn’t all on Chris Webber. Before him, it was Scott Norwood, the Bills kicker that missed the possible Super Bowl winning kick wide right in 1991. That isn’t all his fault either, he was 5 of 9 from the season from beyond 40 yards; the coaching staff should have known better than to make him try that kick that ultimately gave the Giants the win.  In 1986 it was Bill Buckner, missing a ground ball between his legs that gave the Mets the win in game six, even though the Red Sox went in to the inning up by two, and managed to give up two runs in the inning that were most certainly not Buckner’s fault, including one run, the tying one, being caused by a wild pitch. The first sports scapegoat, or at least the first big one, was Fred Merkel, who is known for not touching second base on his way to home on what he thought would be the series winning run for the Giants against the, well, you guessed it, the Cubs. This was 1908, the Cubs’ last World Series win. They had to replay the game because of his miscue, and the Giants obviously lost. He was ridiculed so much that he went in to hiding basically until he died. He was 19 when this happened. Sports are cruel. All of these people, while their circumstances are different, all have at least one thing in common: they deserve way better than they got. Time heals all, and it’s easy to say now that Cubs fans shouldn’t have caused Steve Bartman to nearly go into witness protection. It’s easy to say now that Scott Norwood doesn’t deserve every Bills fan blaming him for a Super Bowl loss. Or that Chris Webber doesn’t deserve the blame for the fab five never getting a title. Nick Anderson wasn’t the only player on the court that game. Andres Escobar sure as hell shouldn’t have died because of a mistake. Bill Buckner should have been forgiven quickly. But that’s the problem with scapegoats in sports, they’re necessary. Without scapegoats there’s nothing to blame for your team’s shortcomings. It’s way easier to blame one person than admit that the other team just won the game. Is that fair? No, of course not, but it’s part of sports. I can admit that I’m not perfect. I can admit that I’ve blamed one person for a loss before (don’t worry, Tim Beck. I still hate you. So much). But I’ve been trying to avoid blaming one person for losses recently, and honestly it makes sports so much more fun. Maybe scapegoats will never go away in sports, but they should certainly be forgiven far quicker than they currently are. So if you still hate Steve Bartman, Nick Anderson, Andres Escobar (god I hope no one still hates Andres Escobar), Chris Webber, Scott Norwood, Bill Buckner, or Fred Merkel (why would you ever even think about him), just stop for a minute, and remember that these are still people, and they didn’t deserve anything that they went through, and maybe they do deserve forgiveness for their crimes against your team.


Hater’s Guide to College Football: Miami

Hater’s Guide to College Football: Miami

All things are bad, and college football is no different. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to hate every team in each power five conference. All information is from Athlon Sports or Phil Steele.




Coach: Mark Richt, who’s somehow ALREADY LOST CONTROL OF HIS PROGRAM. Okay, those last three are from Georgia, but you get the point. Trouble seems to follow Mark Richt, for whatever reason, so obviously we should ship him off to Miami, what could possibly go wrong at the crime capital of the college football universe. Miami has never been good without cheating. They even managed to get caught cheating, get punished, and then do the exact same thing again. Unsurprisingly, they got punished for the second time, AND THEN THEY DID IT AGAIN, THE ONLY DIFFERENCE WAS THAT THE THIRD TIME THEY DIDN’T EVEN CHEAT RIGHT, THEY STILL SUCKED. It takes serious talent to cheat in college football, and still suck, but if anyone can continue the tradition, it’s Macho Man Mark Richt.


Key Players: Brad Kaaya(QB), Joe Yearby(RB), Stacy Coley(WR), Jermaine Grace(OLB), Al-Quadin Muhammad(DE), Rayshawn Jenkins(S), Corn Elder(CB). 15 returning players, 24th in the nation. Brad Kaaya is actually a pretty solid quarterback, but unfortunately he’s being blocked for by 5 turnstiles, the kind you can just hop right over. Also, MIAMI HAS A PLAYER NAMED CORN ELDER. Aside from the quarterback whose name sounds like papaya, and the cornerback who’s name is literally Corn, Miami is relatively uninteresting this season, they look like every other middle of the road, 8-5, 9-4 level team.

1541 UM Bethune Cookman foo.jpg
Corn Elder: not actually corn.

Where: Miami, Florida. So many things you could hate about Miami, but by far the worst thing in Miami is Marlins Man. God I hate him.

Why should you hate them: Miami gave up more than 58 points last season on two different occasions. The last time they gave up more than 58 points (before last season) was 1998. Mark Richt was at Georgia last season, but he had to be the cause of these defensive lapses, it’s the only explanation. The most points Miami scored last season was 45, which wouldn’t be bad if it wasn’t Bethune-Cookman, home of Wil D Cat, and his rockin ass sneakers.

You go Wil, wear your sneakers with pride, you majestic man in a cat costume at a division 2 school. Miami lost to Washington State in the Sun Bowl last year, the best bowl game that you watched for five minutes before realizing that you’d rather take a nap in the oven. Miami plays in a stadium 40 minutes away from their campus, not because they don’t want to have their own stadium, but because they don’t want people to be subjected to watching the most boring spread offense in history. You should hate Miami because they don’t use the color name after their city in their uniforms, because they disrespected Wil D Cat, and because Mark Richt has lost control of his ability to love.



Hater’s Guide to College Football: Louisville

Hater’s Guide to College Football: Louisville

All things are bad, and college football is no different. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to hate every team in each power five conference. All information is from Athlon Sports or Phil Steele.



Lamar Jackson, the Heisman contender you haven’t heard of

Coach: Bobby “Balls Deep” Petrino. Has made more terrible decisions than all players on his team, combined.

Banned from a South Carolina high school. Seriously.

Key Players: Lamar Jackson(QB), James Quick(WR), Keith Kelsey(ILB), Devonte Fields(OLB), Trumaine Washington(CB), Josh Harvey-Clemons(S). Returns 17 starters, putting them at 14th in the country, second in the ACC. I want to take a second to talk about Lamar Jackson, because he’s awesome, and he deserves better than Louisville. Lamar Jackson threw for nearly 2000 yards last season, along with 12 touchdown tosses, and he ran for nearly a thousand, with 11 touchdowns on the ground.

Player G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
Griffin III


There’s his stats last year, compared to the last six “dual-threat” quarterbacks that won the Heisman. Is it fair to compare a freshman quarterback to Heisman winners? No, but it’s my blog, so I can compare him to Godzilla if I want to. Even with the absurd comparison and ridiculous implied expectations with this chart, there’s a few things I want to note. Firstly, that’s just the passing one, I’ll have the rushing one in a minute. Secondly, Lamar Jackson played the least games, threw the least passes, and is the youngest player in this group. He’s still pretty raw as a passer, but the potential is there. Now, the running stats tell a different story.

Player G Att Yds Avg TD
Griffin III

Jackson had the fourth most rushing attempts, third most yards, and the second best average. All of that, still in only 12 games. The point of all of this is that Bobby Petrino is going to waste a really fun and talented player because he sucks at coaching.

Where: Louisville, Kentucky. Fun fact: Kentucky is 44th in state health, but 1st in bourbon production. Thank god for small victories.

Why should you hate them: Well, I already touched on Bobby Petrino being a terrible person and coach, but trust me, there’s plenty more reasons to hate Louisville. Lamar Jackson threw and ran for 100 yards in a game five times last season, and he’s going to do that more this season, and they’ll win a maximum of 9 games, because BCS bowl games are overrated. Oh, and last season, they wore these atrocities.


Hater’s Guide to College Football: Georgia Tech

Hater’s Guide to College Football: Georgia Tech

All things are bad, and college football is no different. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to hate every team in each power five conference. All information is from Athlon Sports or Phil Steele.

Georgia Tech

maxresdefault (2)
Justin Thomas, future NFL punt returner, current Georgia Tech quarterback

Coach: Paul Johnson, option offense purist, occasionally mad about football

Key Players: Justin Thomas(QB), Marcus Marshall(HB), Clinton Lynch(HB), Qua Searchy(HB), Ricky Jeune(WR), PJ Davis(LB), Patrick Gamble(DT), KeShun Freeman(DE), Brant Mitchell(LB). Georgia Tech has more starting running backs returning than Ohio State has offensive starters returning. I’m not entirely convinced that Georgia Tech isn’t just a running back factory disguised as a college. They return 11 starters, which puts them at 78th in the country. That’s 11 starters from a 3-9 team, which is a really bad sign for this season.

maxresdefault (3).jpg
Even their quarterback is a running back

Where: Atlanta, Georgia. Might be the least cool thing in Atlanta.
Why should you hate them: Georgia Tech finished last year with a turnover margin of -7, and they’re a triple option team, so that means a lot of those turnovers must have been fumbles, right? They had 14 fumbles lost last year, 124th worst in the country. But that’s not where the terrible turnover margin came from. The defense wasn’t even that bad last year, they forced 17 turnovers. But somehow, the offense managed to balance that out, with 10 interceptions, somehow. They only threw 192 passes and 10 of them were intercepted. Gross. Georgia Tech’s 3-9 season was unexpected, but it was caused almost entirely by their inability to hold on to the ball, or win close games. they went 1-6 in close games, and the one win was against Florida State, who was undefeated at the time. 2015 Georgia Tech made absolutely no sense. They finished 8th in rushing yards which would be really good, if they weren’t an option team, and if that 8th ranking didn’t mean that they finished behind 4 teams that don’t run an option offense. And unsurprisingly, the passing game didn’t help much, averaging just about 120 yards again, putting them at 124th in the country. The defense was insignificant in all ways last season, and if Georgia Tech is going to be better this season, which they almost certainly will be, the defense doesn’t really have to improve at all, the team as a whole just has to win in close games. And please, for the love of god, stop passing the ball. Now statistics aren’t enough to merit hatred, but Georgia Tech has something much more sinister to hate. They’re a Russell Athletic school, meaning that they’re outfitted by the same people who did your Pee Wee football uniforms. In 2016, a school is consciously choosing to wear uniforms that you could buy for 30 dollars at Kohls. I would even take Under Armour over Russell. The same Under Armour that’s ruined Maryland and South Carolina for years. That’s how bad Russell Athletic is. Change your uniforms, Georgia Tech, I’m begging you. You should hate Georgia Tech because they threw more interceptions last year than half the NCAA, including a lot of teams that passed the ball more than 300 hundred times, and because their jerseys are created by a company that should stay in 2005, where it belongs.


Hater’s Guide to College Football: Florida State

Hater’s Guide to College Football: Florida State

All things are bad, and college football is no different. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to hate every team in each power five conference. All information is from Athlon Sports or Phil Steele.

Florida State

Florida State in the 2014 playoffs: not so strong

Coach: Jimbo Fisher, truck enthusiast. I’m not so sure that isn’t the company car, one of the requirements for living in Tallahassee is having more camo than brain cells.

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl - Florida State v West Virginia
No human being has ever been more Florida than Jimbo Fisher

Key Players: Sean Maguire(QB), Dalvin Cook(RB), Travis Wilson(WR), Derwin James(S), DeMarcus Walker(DE), Marquez White(CB), entire offensive line. Florida State is back from a rebuilding year, and they’re loaded up front. Dalvin Cook should be able to run all over the place, and is a sure Heisman contender if he stays healthy. The defense should be solid, and overall it’s a very good roster, as they return 17 starters, including their ENTIRE OFFENSE. That 17 is good enough for 49th in the country. The only serious question mark is the Quarterback position, because Sean Maguire was extremely average last year, and behind him is a redshirt freshman in Deondre Francois, and freshman Malik Henry.

Dalvin Cook realizing that he has to carry an entire team

Where: Tallahassee, Florida

Why should you hate them: Oh lord, where to even start. Well, lets see, the Tallahassee police department has been protecting Florida State players for years. That’s six different articles. There’s a million more, some regarding smaller things, some as big as a cover-up for the star quarterback. Jameis Winston raped a person, and got away with literally no punishment, because the Tallahassee police and Florida State officials are disgusting, terrible human beings that care more about football than someone’s well-being. Oh, did I say Jameis got away with nothing? Sorry, he got away with ONE GAME FOR SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. Oh, and he stole crab legs and got suspended 3 games, by the baseball team, of course. I’m sure that hurt him a lot, that poor guy. If all that isn’t enough reason to hate Florida State, you could look to their social media presence, where #FSUTwitter runs rampant. If you don’t know about FSU twitter, they’re possibly the worst corner of twitter, attacking anyone that questions the police practices surrounding the team, releasing victim names and shaming victims into silence. But that’s not all they do. They defend anyone associated with Florida State football, no matter the crime, or situation. A Florida State player could kill the president and livestream it and FSU twitter would find a way to defend them. Florida State fans are somehow worse than the Penn State fans that still support Joe Paterno, a certified terrible person. Ramzy Nasrallah, an excellent writer at Eleven Warriors wrote a great piece on this, and I’m going to link to his article, because he said it better than I possibly could. The topic of domestic abuse, and just crime in general in college football is very touchy, and it’s extremely difficult to not cross the line, especially as a fan. There’s a place for defending the players you love, but it’s almost always taken too far, and Florida State fans are widely known as the worst when it comes to taking it too far, be it with victim shaming, mass denial, or just the general nastiness that comes from Tallahassee. You should hate Florida State because domestic violence is woven into the culture of the program, and if you can’t see that, you’re part of the problem. Here’s how to donate to the domestic violence hotline.


The Hater’s Guide to College Football: Duke

The Hater’s Guide to College Football: Duke

All things are bad, and college football is no different. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to hate every team in each power five conference. All information is from Athlon Sports or Phil Steele.


Jeremy Cash, one of the best players in Duke history. Went undrafted.

Coach: David Cutcliffe. He’s been coaching at Duke for 9 years and I had to look him up because I had no idea who he was. He is the human equivalent of Duke football: just kinda there, easily forgotten.

David Cutcliffe
Looks like a politician explaining why we have to ban cats

Key Players: Thomas Sirk(QB), TJ Rahming(WR), Devon Edwards(CB), AJ Wolf(DT), Breon Borders(CB), Tinashe Bere(ILB). Returns 12 starters, good enough for 80th overall, just in front of Clemson. Thomas Sirk was the leading passer and rusher for the Blue Devils last year, which is always a good sign (it’s not). They lost their best defender in Jeremy Cash, as well as their best receiver, Max McCaffrey, brother of Christian, the running back at Stanford.

Thomas Sirk, the very tired Quarterunningback

Where: Durham, North Carolina.

Why should you hate them: Last season, Duke gave up 3.8 yards per play on average, through the first six games. If they had kept that up, they would have finished 1st. Like, in the whole country, even above Boston College, the team famous for only fielding a defense. But they didn’t keep it up. Instead, they finished the last 7 games giving up 6.5 yards per play, dropping them to 47th nationally, with a year average of 5.37. That’s accompanied by a 5.53 per play statistic from the offense, good for 71st. Remarkably average. Starting to sense a pattern?  Duke is fantastically average, in every metric, and just as a program. Don’t believe me? Well here is a chart:

Yeah that’s right, I brought charts into this. Basically, Duke is as average as you can be. They went 8-5 last season, and I’m sure they’ll do slightly worse, or slightly better this year, depending on how well the basketball team plans on doing. Yes, finally, 327 words in, I mention the basketball team. I’m sure as soon as you read the headline you thought of the basketball team. Don’t feel bad, I did the exact same thing, and that’s why Duke football is eternally doomed to fail. Well, that, and their helmets are terrible. Why is it just the letter D? Why do they not have the cool little devil guy in it? Just look at how much better this is:

compared to this:

Get it together, Duke/Nike. You should hate Duke because they’ll always be overshadowed by the basketball program, that you should also hate. Oh, and the kick was good.



The Hater’s Guide to College Football: Clemson Edition

The Hater’s Guide to College Football: Clemson Edition

All things are bad, and college football is no different. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to hate every team in each power five conference. All information is from Athlon Sports or Phil Steele.


Clemson, participating in their annual heart-crushing loss

Coach: Dabo “Dat Boy” Swinney. Notorious for being the combination of a preppy southern college student (it’s the hair) and a second rate NASCAR driver.

Key Players: Deshasun Watson(QB), Wayne Gallman(RB), Artavis Scott(WR), Ben Boulware(OLB), Carlos Watkins(DT), Cordrea Tankersley(CB). Returns 12 starters, good enough for 101st on Phil Steele’s experience chart, last in the ACC, even with that, they’ll still probably win the ACC, because the ACC is terrible.

maxresdefault (1).jpg
Future Ex Cleveland Browns Quarterback, Deshaun Watson

Where: Clemson, South Carolina


Why should you hate them: The term “Clemsoning” was coined sometime in the 2000’s, but became popular when Clemson started 2011 with an 8-0 record and then Clemsoned their way to a 10-4 record, losing 4 of their last 6 games, the final one being in a 70-33 blowout loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Since that season, Clemsoning has become even more popular with Dabo’s tigers, though he’d never admit it. In 2012 they went 11-2, with losses to Florida State, and South Carolina. 2013 delivered the EXACT SAME RECORD WITH LOSSES TO THE EXACT SAME TEAMS. 2014 brought a 10-3 record, with losses to Georgia, Georgia Tech, and you guessed it, Florida State. I smell a pattern. 2015, well, just watch the vine.

I take no joy in watching that. I know that pain, that pain is a huge part of being a college football fan, and Clemson fans have experienced that pain every year for all of their existences. Clemson has one national championship. They were the fifth most winningest program in the 80’s, and they got out with one(1) championship. But I digress from the depressing existence that is Clemson football, there’s much more to hate about them, not just the fact that they’re the Indianapolis Colts of college football. They have one of the best color combinations in college football, and some of the worst uniforms. Nike hates Clemson more than I do. Clemson is going to waste Deshaun Watson, just like they wasted Tahj Boyd, and then he’s going to go to Cleveland and die a horrible death by glass bottles thrown by degenerate Browns(keep in mind, I’m a Browns fan, we’re so terrible that even we hate us). Clemson is going to lose anywhere from 1-3 games today, and beat up on some poor team (Michigan) in the Orange Bowl, whilst hurting Deshaun Watson in the process because if they can’t have him no one can. You should hate Clemson because loving them is only going to hurt you, and it’s more fun watching their fifteenth string wide receiver fumble on the one yard-line in the ACC championship against one of the other teams in the ACC that certainly isn’t Boston College if you hate them.