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Wide World of Balls

The Less Crappy Referees Are Back

What happened last week in sports? The fake football referees really blew it, so the real referees returned. Some baseball teams made the playoffs, and a hockey player got real emotional on Twitter.

On a beautiful fall weekend where the multicolored leaves were fluttering off the trees and it was just cold enough that everyone in the neighborhood kept their smelly babies indoors, I got a phone call. “Snakes!”—that’s my nickname—“We have to go to that place with all the babes and cheap cool food and then to the store with the secret deposit of deadstock 1940s sweatshirts, the ones with the four-inch cuffs that you’ve been faxing me about.” I really wanted to go and experience all those things, but I couldn’t because sports. A few hours later I got a call about the art zine  fair in Long Island City, which I had to skip for sports, too. I really wanted to see those zines, but part of being an adult is not going to zine fairs. If you didn’t skip anything, that’s fine. I didn't need to eat that pizza made by a 95-year-old guy who’s retiring tomorrow anyways, I really was happy watching that Alabama game and telling you about it.


- The real refs are back, duh, and kind of blew it Sunday, so things are back to normal. Since you know the refs are back, you know it’s because the replacement guys made a fuck-up for the ages on Monday and gave Seattle the win. I won’t mention that the president got involved and the Reagan-boner guy from Wisconsin sided with the unions because he loves his team so much. It was one of those insane sports items that crosses over into regular news, so, like I said, I won’t discuss it. But on the off-chance you didn’t read this column, by the LA Times’ Michael Hiltzik, on the subject, you should, because it’s pretty much all there.

- The Saints, who won the Super Bowl last year, are 0-4 after missing a last-minute field goal in Green Bay, and I’m told they’re not going to play the rest of the season out of pride. Of course, they didn’t actually win the Super Bowl last year, but it feels like they did, doesn’t it?

- It’s only September (as I write this), so it’s a little premature to say that the season is over for the Jets, who have an injury-depleted defense and not one competent player on offense. Wait, no, it’s midnight……. Now. The Jets’ season is over. Thanks for reading.

- Michael Vick just shut the press conference game down.

- I had this whole thing written about how going into Sunday night, no AL team has clinched a playoff spot, but then the Rangers beat the Angels and somehow clinched spots for themselves, the Orioles, and the Yankees. Still, not knowing what the playoffs will look like until the fourth-to-last day of the regular season feels like some sort of record. I'd look it up, but you probably don't care. There are postseason implications in pretty much every series these next few days, which is awesome, but it’s also the last week with 15 games a night, which is a bummer.


- In the NL, the Braves can catch the Nationals, who have led their division for like, forever, if DC gets swept by Philly and if they sweep the Pirates. I should also mention that Pittsburgh lost Sunday, so it’s 20 straight losing seasons there. Cheer up, Pittsburgh! At least you have a burgeoning bike scene!

- In not-real baseball news—the kind involving awards, not games—the AL MVP race is super tight, too. It’s between Miguel Cabrera, the formerly fat super-hitter chasing the Triple Crown for a surging team, and Mike Trout, who’s born in 1991 and is the best complete baseball player to enter the league since then. Cabrera’s old-school stat chase is attractive to old-school sportwriters (the guys who can’t calculate their own gas mileage) and Trout’s overwhelming athletic genius is giving everyone in baseball who’s under 40 and not a player a no-homo hard-on. Trout should win, not only because he’s better—he’s basically Bobby Orr this year—but because he’s somehow the fastest player in the Majors despite being built like a football player. That said, I mean "should" in the ideal sense, not the predictive sense. I have no idea who will win. To all the MVP voters reading this, I am sorry I couldn’t better help you in your decision.

- The Nets won't be good, but they may look good. Their snappy jerseys were unveiled on Friday as Jay-Z, who owns 0.067 percent more of the team than I do, wore them at a series of concerts to open the new stadium, which is across from the Buffalo Wild Wings. His jersey is black; his team’s season outlook is blue. Zing!

- The lockout has claimed the preseason, and this player isn’t happy about it. It's worth reading.