Why it’s hard to take AEW seriously sometimes

I was watching some highlights from the latest Dynamite, because I was interested to see who won the match between Bryan Danielson and Daniel Garcia.  But during the match I couldn’t help but notice that the turnbuckle pads had something other than an AEW logo on it, and at one point, I had to scrunch my brow when I realized that it was literally the crest for House Targaryen.

Why was the House Targaryen crest on turnbuckles of an AEW wrestling show?

Well, the answer wasn’t hard to determine, because outside of any shot that wasn’t zoomed in to where you could see the turnbuckles, pretty much everywhere else in the West Virginia arena was like an explosion of Game of Thrones branding.  Since TBS is a Turner Network and Turner bought HBO and HBO owns the rights to Game of Thrones, naturally it was decided that AEW Dynamite would be the perfect venue to cross-promote the impending premiere of HBO’s House of the Dragon prequel series.

So instead of continually pushing awareness for AEW, or their shop’s website, or perhaps promoting any upcoming pay-per-views, all through the entire night was Game of Thrones shit, all over the place.

If I didn’t know what AEW was, and I was flipping channels and landed on Dynamite, I probably would’ve thought that some mega nerds* had created a wrestling promotion based on Game of Thrones, and I was watching some LARP of some Dothraki slave pit fighting instead of professional wrestling.

*I realize this is kind of an oxymoronic descriptor to describe Tony Khan, Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks

But this is a good example of why it’s hard for me to take AEW seriously sometimes.  No matter how genuinely good their wrestling product is capable of being, they just do so much shit on the business side or over social media or their performers, that just pumps the brakes on the progress they are totally capable of making, if they just didn’t get in their own way so much.

AEW’s entire show was completely hijacked by Game of Thrones this week.  A few weeks ago when I went, the entire show was completely hijacked by Discovery/Animal Planet plugging the ever-living fuck out of Shark Week, to where they had a match where Jericho’s cronies were suspended in a diver’s cage.  And a little while back, just about every AEW show was paintbombed by Draft Kings logos all over the place.

I’m not sure if it’s Tony Khan’s choice, or if he’s being strong-armed by Turner Ben Afflecks, but AEW is basically this cheap vehicle to promote other things, completely sacrificing their own brand identity and integrity whenever they do.  They’re like a Tesla Model S, with a vinyl wrap for Juan’s Paint and Windows, and they’re required to drive it around in prominent communities and log a substantial amount of miles to justify the ad space. 

If it’s TK’s choice to allow his pet promotion to be pimped out to plug shit that isn’t his, then shame on him.  If it’s Turner being Turner and fifteen old white guys with VP titles are all jabbing their fingers into the AEW pie to try and make their mark, then that’s really nothing out of the ordinary for Turner’s modus operandi, and we can continuously count the days before AEW copies WCW in another manner; being managed to death by Turner.

But the bottom line is that it’s really hard for me to take AEW seriously when they participate in shit like this, and it’s got to be hard for even them to continuously try to declare themselves the alternative to the WWE, when they’re constantly being handcuffed by shit that makes it hard for people to take them seriously.  As much as the WWE is so often seen as this corporate soulless entity, they take their brand seriously, and they almost never cross-promote with anyone or anything, not without at least some substantial benefit to them. 

There’s absolutely zero benefit for AEW when they help plug Shark Week, House of the Dragon or Draft Kings, and until the company can grow a backbone and push back on bullshit orders to cross-promote, they’ll never be taken as serious as they should be capable of commanding respect.

A new metric for the vernacular: A WCW

One of my friends in a group chat turned me onto this keen observation, and I found that I liked it so much, I believe it’s worth integrating into my general lexicon, to casually drop into conversation and low-key hope to have the opportunity to mansplain it to anyone who risks questioning what I mean by it when I use it.

In 2001, Vince McMahon bought the crumbling remains of World Championship Wrestling for an estimated $4.2 million dollars; a tremendously far cry of a bargain, considering the company was about $30 million in the green just two years prior.  Fairly recently, in spite of my own general ambivalence towards the subject, there’s been a lot of hullabaloo over a WWE scandal in which it was revealed and continues to unearth, that Vince McMahon has shelled out over $20 million dollars over the years in hush money to hide his and his inner circle’s general sexual deviancy.

Frankly, it’s no shock or surprise that it turns out that Vince McMahon and his cronies did any of the things they’re being accused for at a rapid pace these days, because they’re rich, they’re white, they’re old money, and they’re in an industry where there are literal Playboy-caliber women that come and go.  As much as I respect Vince McMahon’s business acumen, I’m not the least bit surprised that he’s an asshole who wields his money and power for sex, because an endless parade of men in similar circumstances have been doing the same for eons now.  But when the day is over, there’s a whole lot of murky water in the sense that the money was accepted by their recipients, and in my legally uneducated opinion, I have to ask, what crimes actually occurred?

Regardless, the silver lining to it all is that the HeAT has forced Vince McMahon into the retirement that wrestling fans have been calling for, for years now, to actually occur, and in the aftermath of it, same with all of his cronies and stooges who were all implied to be complicit to his bad behavior, if they weren’t accomplices to begin with.  And with it, ushers in a new era of WWE, helmed by his more progressive daughter Stephanie McMahon and with her, Triple H is back into the fold, creating optimism and hope, considering his popularly lauded work with NXT over the last decade.

Obviously, most wrestling fans know that we’ve not seen the last of Vince McMahon, but as long as this scandal is continuing to unfold, we know there’s plenty of time for the company to move and evolve without him so frequently aboard the main cabin.

But anyway, back to the point of this post, the takeaway of it all is that the analogy was made that to date, Vince McMahon has paid out the valuation of 4.7 WCWs, in hush money for his sexual indiscretions.  WCW has become a noun, which is definable as an analogy for approximately $4.2 million dollars, and is applicable as metric in dannyhong speak moving forward.

  • Lionel Messi’s salary for 2022 is approximately 9.76 WCWs
  • Tiger Woods reportedly turned down anywhere from 166-190 WCWs from the Saudi-run LIV golf organization
  • Juan Soto rejected a 15-year/107.14 WCW contract from the Washington Nationals before they traded him to the San Diego Padres

Yep, metric checks out. Once the greatest threat to the WWE, now a unit of measurement to ironically measure stupid amounts of money to something more humorously.

On principle, I now have to root against Juan Soto

We pleebs will never understand: Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto rejects contract extension offer worth $440 million dollars over 15-years

The armchair baseball analyst stat geek in me understands the impetus behind this decision.  It’s really not that complicated.  Combining never-ending inflation and the fact that between now and 2025, other players will continue to raise the bar of annual value, Juan Soto stands to make more money than $440 million dollars when he his free agency.

But the normal human being in me just sees that a guy has rejected life-changing money two-hundred times over, and can’t help but feeling infuriated at the arrogance of some asshole who gets paid insane amounts of money to play children’s games.  Like really, even in “just” his arbitration years, he’s making more money than most people will ever see in their entire lives, and here he is turning down $440 million dollars like someone asked him if he were interested in learning more about timeshares.

Fuck this guy.  Frankly, fuck any guy who turns down any figure that’s seven figures or higher, and honestly, fuck anyone who turns down a league minimum deal to be a bench warmer considering the league minimum was bumped up to like $700,000 a year.  Y’all motherfuckers play baseball for a living, and turn down big money offers like they’re some sort of insults, like you were genius doctors who were working on the cures to deadly diseases on a daily basis.

Prior to this, I never really had any qualms with Juan Soto.  I always liked that he was this fairly unknown to those outside of the Nationals fanbase, that just quietly came up after all of the pomp and hoopla of the Bryce Harper departure of DC.  And not only did he quickly erase and make people in Washington forget about Bryce Harper, he helped the Nationals go all the way, and win a World Series in short order after showing up.

Obviously, at the rate in which he was performing, it was only a matter of time before this day would come when the rhetorical questions of how much Juan Soto was worth were going to emerge, but I just haven’t been paying any attention.  I can hardly keep up with the bullshit going on in Braves Country™ much less the baseball country outside of it, but I’m not the least bit surprised that we’ve finally gotten here to where Juan Soto is no longer the team-controlled stud that’s just happy to be here, but is a budding superstar who’s on the cusp of getting paid.

All the same though, now that he’s turned down a purported three different extension offers from the Nationals, with the last one being the aforementioned 15/$440M/no deferred money, it’s just absolutely flabbergasting the arrogance and audacity a person can have to actually say no to a sheer amount of money such as these.

Sure, there’s always the game of keeping ahead of the Joneses but nobody ever wins as is the passage of time.  Soto takes a 15/$500 in 2025, but by 2026, there will be some future megastar that will sign a 15/$505, and so on and so on.  It’s a game of insanity that will never end, and other than a few individuals getting rich, it’s only going to result in future professional athletes looking like bigger and bigger greedy assholes as they continue to extort and accept these gaudy salaries for playing kids games.

So now, on principle, I have no choice but to start rooting against Juan Soto.  He is far from the first guy that I’ve held this attitude towards, but as certain as the game of salaries continues to grow every year, he’s just the latest prick to cave into the game of greed. 

Soto may be on pace to be worth more than $440M in a few years, but that is, if nothing bad happens to him between now and 2025.  An injury or two, or perhaps the rest of the league re-writes the book on him and realizes he sucks at hitting pitches up-and-in, or maybe a combination of both.  History has no shortage of professional athletes who completely collapsed onto themselves during their contract years one way or another, resulting in them getting owned into oblivion in hindsight brutality.

I don’t wish physical harm to come onto anyone, but if Soto were to get hurt between now and 2025, I can’t say that I wouldn’t shake my head and laugh, especially if the guy struggles to bounce back and by the time 2025 rolls around, he’s just another silly greedy gambler who didn’t take the money when he had the chance, and instead ends up on the Long Island Ducks just trying to cling to any semblance of a career.

There are no winners in the Freddie Freeman saga

Man, despite the fact that it’s pretty well known that Freddie Freeman is about the most likeable human being to ever play the game of Major League Baseball, I wouldn’t ever have imagined him being the center of one of the more dramatic baseball storylines to have occurred in, well, this generation, so to say.

To quickly summarize, as quickly as a wordy blabbermouth like myself can do: 2021 was the last season of Freddie Freeman’s contract with the Atlanta Braves.  Inexplicably, the Braves win the World Series, everyone is on cloud nine, Freeman is all but expected to re-sign with the team.  Over the winter, baseball actually goes into a labor-centric lockout, where teams are prohibited  from negotiating contracts with players.  Lockout ends, everyone maintains that Freeman is guaranteed to re-sign with the Braves.  Somewhere along the path, negotiations don’t seem to materialize and suddenly news breaks that the Braves have made a trade for Matt Olson, the all-star first baseman from the Oakland A’s, effectively dropping the mic and saying that they are moving on from Freddie Freeman, sending shockwaves throughout Braves Country™.

It was reported that Freddie Freeman and the Braves were unable to come to terms of a deal, citing that Freeman wanted a six-year deal, but the Braves were only willing to offer a five.  It wasn’t long afterward that the Los Angeles Dodgers would sign Freeman for six years, and in terms of business, the saga was complete.

However, in the media, the saga continued as after all the involved teams started buttoning up their rosters, words would emerge from the Braves’ camp, and Freddie Freeman himself, and a very sad and almost tangible sense of hurt feelings from both parties would continue on.  The Braves blathering on about how they’re a business and that no one person is above the team, Freeman insinuating that he felt slighted that the Braves didn’t pursue him hard enough, and all over the place, be it other baseball peers, fans, legends, everyone’s taking sides on who they backed in this surprisingly public beef between the Braves and the former face of the team.

Regardless, the dust would settle fairly quickly because Freddie Freeman is better than everyone else and allowed it to resolve and said all the right things, because he’s just such a good fucking human being, and the 2022 season would begin with the Braves embarking on a life post-Freddie, and Freddie suiting up for the goddamn Dodgers of all other teams out there.

Needless to say, the weekend of June 24th was earmarked heavily by the Braves and their marketing department, because it would mark the one and only visit of the Dodgers to Atlanta on the season, and the first-ever visit of Freddie Freeman as an opponent.  As the date drew nearer, I heard that the team was resorting to standing-room tickets because the demand was so high.  And as the team had been doing all through the year, which is something that I thought was pretty cool, was doing individualized ring ceremonies for any contributors from the 2021 squad who had moved on to other teams.

So the weekend came and went, with the Dodgers taking the series 2-1, in three fairly heavily contested games.  As expected, Freddie Freeman’s return was an emotional event for pretty much everyone, as he was given a hero’s welcome and all the respect in the world, numerous standing ovations and cheers no matter that he was a Dodger.  Freeman cried at least 57 times throughout the weekend, basically every time he was behind a microphone while he was presented his World Series ring, and any time he had a moment with a former teammate.

It’s clear that there was and always will be a tremendous amount of mutual love between the Braves and the city of Atlanta and Freddie Freeman, and the games themselves were kind of an afterthought compared to the giant lovefest of Freeman’s return.

But then just a day later, news broke that seemingly out of nowhere, Freddie Freeman had fired his agent, Casey Close of Excel Sports Management.  The timing of it happening right after the visit to Atlanta raised eyebrows everywhere and next thing we know, the book of the Freddie Freeman saga is being reopened.

Continue reading “There are no winners in the Freddie Freeman saga”

lol baseball: paying for luck

Over the last few days, I saw some highlights from a Rays game where an outfielder was pitching, which meant that the score was already way out of hand, and the team just wanted to save the bullpen as well as have a little bit of fun.  I’m not sure if the guy was deliberately trying to make a mockery of pitching, but it was still interesting to watch his goofy forward leg kick push off the mound while he lobbed 46 mph lollipops.

And just a day later, the Braves were blowing out the Nationals so badly that the Nats sent Dee Gordon whom I had no idea was even on the Nationals now, to pitch.  And in one of the already iconic moments of the year, he accidentally plunked Travis d’Arnaud with a 52 mph soft pitch who flopped like a World Cup-level futbol player, bringing laughter, joy and entertainment to everyone who had seen it.

We’re not even 4-5 games into the season, and teams are already getting blown out to the point where position players are coming in to save the games, as in give us something to be entertained about, other than an embarrassingly lopsided score. 

lol baseball indeed.

The thing is, despite the fact that these position players are hurling these slow-ass meatballs, they are still accomplishing the job of keeping the game moving forward, and generating outs.  To some high-level logic, you’d think that Major League Baseball players, the supposed crème of the crop when it comes to baseball talent in the world, should have a field day with all these garbage pitches, and sometimes they do, but still, a lot of the time, the guys are still running into outs via groundballs or some hard-hit flyballs.

Like, I’m fairly confident that if I myself, took the mound at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and faced a prime Albert Pujols ten times, sure he’d probably knock six home runs off of me, but I’d probably still manage to get him to smash some hard hit grounders or flyballs and make four outs.  On the greatest player of a generation.

What I’m getting at is the reality that baseball is still a tremendously difficult sport, and no matter the level of skill an MVP-caliber player has, they’re still failing 70% of the time to not make an out, and when you see major leaguers going up against a hapless position player on the mound, this is where it’s more prevalent than ever just how much luck is still involved in playing baseball.

Launch angle, squaring up, weather, wind conditions, temperature, the stadium; there are so many variables involved when a batter swings the bat, that have nothing to do with playing baseball except they have everything to do with playing baseball, because they still have influence over the outcome of a ball in play.

Yet, the vast majority of Major League organizations pay out the nose for guys who might defy luck just a little bit more than their counterparts might.  I haven’t said much about the resolution to the strike, primarily because of time, but naturally I hit the nail on the head when it came to the obvious fact that it was all about rich assholes trying to make more money, in all parties involved.

Guys are paid for luck basically, which seems pretty sill in the grand spectrum of things.  Even the league minimum was raised to an absurd $700,000, so that means the last guy on the bench, who’s usually the worst hitter on a 25-28 man roster, is clearing more than half a million dollars to succumb to luck more than everyone else.  Bless this country for having so much wealth distribution to where shitty ballplayers can make more than medical heroes and world class educators.

But that’s baseball, and well, professional sports in general.  A bunch of guys living the dream, of being marginally better at not failing than other people, to where they can make gobs and gobs of money to play children’s games.

lol baseball indeed.

I’m sure this is going to go over very well

There’s a popular narrative that the National Football League is basically incapable of doing anything right.  And that the financial bulldozer that they ultimately still are, is completely in spite of the general lack of ethics, competent leadership and all of the just in general inability to not keep doing stupid shit.

Players want to celebrate touchdowns and look like they’re having fun?  Those are penalties.  A player who is on injured inactive status wants to bet on some football games?  That’s an exiling.  But multiple players who were caught, have video evidence, or were found guilty of domestic violence?  2-4 game suspension.  A Muslim player kneels after a touchdown?  Penalty.  Tim Tebow kneels after scoring a touchdown?  Hero.

I mean, the list can go on for an embarrassingly long time, regardless of the fact that the NFL is a veritable money printer.  Regardless of the fact that I don’t have the time to indulge in as much sports as I used to or liked to, the NFL doesn’t exactly make itself particularly compelling or attractive to want to pay any attention to, even if I had the capacities to.

Recently, the NFL made a public amendment to what has been called the Rooney Rule, which was already basically the NFL’s version of Affirmative Action, where teams are basically PR strong-armed into having minorities somewhere on the coaching staff.  And up until this amendment, just about every person of color ends up being a defensive coordinator, which depending on the reputation of the team, might either be a really important role, or a really insignificant one.

But the amendment states basically, that a minority must be added to the offensive staff, and also now includes that women can be implemented in order to fulfill these obligated positions.

So just like that, the NFL has basically admitted that defensive coordinators are mostly patsy positions, and that they’ve been stashing all of their mandatory minorities in them.  And now they’re trying to rectify it, as well as backhand placate women, by amending the Rooney Rule, to include more minorities and/or women onto the more glamorous offensive side of coaching.

Already, the public acknowledgment of all this is embarrassing enough, but because the NFL can’t do anything right, I can already see what’s going to happen: a whole lot of bogus bullshit positions are going to magically materialize, and they’re going to immediately be filled by minorities and/or women.  Or, there will be some team that’s extra ambitious, and fill them with black women, and go for that double whammy of Rooney Requirements:

  • Head Quarterback Football Asset Return Specialist (ball boy or girl)
  • Running Backs Nutrition Management Coach (personal chef)
  • Receivers’ Public Relations Coach (social media manager)

By labeling these with specific offensive positions, they’re now parts of the offensive coaching staffs, meant to fulfill the Rooney Rule.  And make no mistake, as hyperbolic and snarky as some of these things might appear for the sake of being brog material, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see some surreptitiously new coaching titles start to appear on the coaching staffs of teams in the very near future.

I can’t say I’m surprised, but still: fuck the Braves

It’s just business: Atlanta Braves trade four prospects for Oakland A’s first baseman, Matt Olson; and then promptly sign him to an 8-year, $168M extension, metaphorically throwing in the towel at the possibility of re-signing franchise icon, Freddie Freeman

To me, the most disappointing thing about this whole turn of events is the perception that the Braves didn’t even really try and re-sign Freddie Freeman.  Sure, the lockout was a great big elephant in the room that got in the way of business, but it’s not like the Braves didn’t have an entire year, or even the nearly two months after Freeman helped bring a fucking World Series title to the franchise, to do something to secure Freeman in Atlanta.

But then again, that’s now how the Braves work, because the in spite of the perception that the team isn’t as data-savvy as teams like the Oakland A’s, Tampa Bay Rays and other Moneyball internet nerds love franchises, the Braves are basically MIT bean counting wizards in the accounting department.  Anything to keep profits up, shareholder value high, and revenues flowing, and absolutely anything, anything at all that threatens some old white guy getting $2.9 million dollars instead of $3 million dollars, is problematic and needs to be eliminated, no matter the perception, optics or disappointing the less-important stakeholders AKA those asshole fans.

Sure, I’m sure there’s all sorts of actual truth about how the Braves tried, truly tried, behind closed doors and in private, and/or perhaps I’ve just had my ear so far away from the ground that I missed it all, but still, the general perception that I get is that the Braves hardly even tried to retain Freddie Freeman, and by acquiring a guy like Matt Olson, and immediately giving him a massive extension, just kind of reads like the franchise just held a big middle finger up to the guy that not only was the undeniable face of the entire baseball team, but also just helped bring a fucking World Series trophy to the goddamn city.

Continue reading “I can’t say I’m surprised, but still: fuck the Braves”