Berlin V. Childs

Our writers tackle football, movie ideas, rivalries, Tiger Woods, and TV. 

By Bryan Berlin and Andrew Childs

Bryan and Andrew decided to start an e-mail conversation talking about sports, movies, and TV. This was their conversation.

Andrew

I had a conversation with my dad on the 24 hour drive back to the beast that is the Midwest and I was interested in what you had to say about it… (I know it’s not your typical Sunday conversation, but it’s a HUGE issue with today’s political agenda)

The debt ceiling.  And the government’s degradation in credit rating that came along with it.  It all seems like a giant divergence by the Republicans in order to latch onto a thin topic that, otherwise, has mostly been put into the back seat to deal with much bigger problems (implementing health care, unemployment, etc, etc..) in order to gain some political clout against a much stronger incumbent. So now, a simple political tool has turned a single issue into a monster, and causing horrible economic outcome for the U.S.  I’ll digress really quick and get to my point:  Is our debt really that big of a deal?  I understand that money circulation is a big deal when it comes to issues of inflation and such.  But, at the end of the day, money is not based on any physical entity anymore, the gold-standard was abolished many years ago.  Money is a theoretical thing that we, as humans, apply imaginary value to. So what the hell??  We are have an imaginary debt of imaginary value that we have been putting off for years to focus on REAL issues in the country.  Why not print enough money to pay back the debt?  It’s all fake anyway right?

Second:  We should think of a similar situation for a movie.  People going crazy over something that isn’t really real?  I dunno.

Also, are you a big NFL fan?  And if so, who is your favorite team?

Bryan

Here’s the thing about me and the debt ceiling: I generally try to stay away from political discussions with people. The problem with discussing politics with people is that it’s the thing that people have the strongest opinions about, worse than sports. Trying to tell a republican to raise taxes is like trying to tell a Yankees fan the Boston Red Sox are the best team in baseball: you can argue back and forth about it all day, but at the end of the day people aren’t going to change their opinions.

While I can’t say I’m an expert on this whole debt ceiling thing, to me it’s a lot like the NBA lockout. In both situations, you have a broken system. The NBA had one of its best seasons audience-wise but had one of its seasons in terms of profits. That’s a broken system. Their going to have to spend a lot of time completing changing the way things are run to fix the NBA. The debt ceiling is no different. The US tax rate is well below the average for first world countries, and were one of the only first world countries without universal health care. These are some big issues that can’t be solved with quick fixes. At some point, people are going to have to put party alliances aside and work together as Americans to really figure things out.

This isn’t so much what you were thinking with the movie idea, but I’ve had this thought for a while about society, and how people make choices based on past civilizations choices and all that. It would be an experimental society that grew up in a world where they have the same technology we have, but have no prior history. No national pride. Nothing. They’re basically growing up and figuring out everything on their own. Laws, morals, all that. It would be really interesting to see how that society developed, what they chose to do follow. There could then be a big reveal when they realize they’re in an experimental society, and how they choose to react or what the normal population took away from their study.

I’m a pretty big NFL fan, and I’m a Giants fan, which at the moment is very unfortunate. I think it’s easy to say the Giants have had the worst luck post-lockout. They lost their starting TE Kevin Boss in a trade. Because of this, their 2nd string TE decided not to play this season. Their 1st round pick in the draft, a CB, broke his foot and will be out for a while. That’s on top of another CB being out for a while. Now they have this whole dispute with Osi Umenyiora where he either won’t be playing for them or will be unhappy and playing for them. And even though Plaxico Burress was not on great terms with Tom Coughlin, I still think it was pretty essential for the Giants to try to pick him up because of his skill.

Thoughts on my movie idea? Have one of your own?

Also, I’ve always wondered what the Yankee-Sox rivalry has looked like to someone not from the Northeast. Does anyone care in the Midwest?

If you were given the money to start a sports franchise in any city that doesn’t currently have a sports franchise, what sport would you start where?

Andrew

Well, first off, I 100% agree, it seems like political discussions rarely meet a well-defined ending and just travel as a merry-go-round until one person falls off the porcelain pony and shouts a heavily loaded personal attack at the other.  I guess, what I was getting at was how paradoxical it was to have green paper that we assign value to, in which literally runs our country (sometimes into the ground).This kind of bleeds into your idea for the movie: a great kind of paradoxical society without any real past.  Maybe having all of the modern tools and roles in society, but how would they approach them?  Would the garbage man be more celebrated than the Lawyer?  Like you said they don’t have a physical past to base it on.  I think it’s a great concept, there are sooo many ways to literally make your own world from scratch, new social norms and all.  I think the hook is good, I guess just making it really scientific to take it away from the Truman Show a bit.

It’s kind of funny because, typically, people have a real reason for picking their favorite pro sports team.  In your case (I’m not for sure) maybe it’s because of the fact that you’re from the northeast and relatively close in proximity to New York.  And in my case,  I’m a Vikings fan.  I have been since 3rd grade and for no real reason outside of the fact that I liked the mascot.  Think about that.  I’ve gone through pain and heartache with a team that’s never won a super bowl and it’s all because I liked the mascot when I was a little kid!  I mean, why couldn’t I have loved the Patriot’s jersey colors when I was 8?  I would have been swimming in superbowl rings.  But hey, I guess that’s part of the fun of being a fan.  It has its ups and then Brett Favre throws the ball across his body right into the arms of a New Orleans d-back just as we got in field goal range to seal the deal.

As for the Giants, they definetly aren’t having much luck post-lockout.  On top of all the problems you just mentioned, that have to play these new-power-house Philly Eagles twice this year.  Asomugha, Rogers-Cromartie, AND Asante Samuel at CB. Yikes.  But the good news for you is that your team didn’t draft Christian Ponder (extremely overrated qb of an awful Florida State club…shit), and then hand the reigns of the team to another 50 year old quarterback like the Vikes.

To answer your question about the Sox-Yankees rivalry, I feel like people in the Midwest will sit down to watch TV and if they see that that New York and Boston are playing, they’ll want to watch just because the know how big of a rivalry it is and how much history there is between them.  However, this is a testament to the Sox-Yankees games because that’s probably the only non-Cardinals game anyone from Missouri would care to watch.  Of course they don’t hold as much stock in the rivalry as someone from the Northeast would, but I think the most telling thing is that Midwesterners would actually sit down to watch it just as an objective fan of the sport.

In writing this I was thinking of a particular phenomenon that comes along with rivalries in general.  In pro sports the biggest rivalries seem to be in the most media-centric parts of the US: Celtics – Lakers and Sox – Yankees are two of (if not the two) biggest rivalries in sports.  This makes sense.  While the two rivalries have miles and miles of history, they also come from three of the biggest cities in the US, and with that, 3 of the biggest media markets in the US to help cultivate these rivalries further.  However, when you flip the coin, the biggest rivalries in college football: Texas – Oklahoma; Michigan – Ohio State; Alabama – Auburn.  All states in the midwest or the south with very small media markets.  Now I understand that the NBA and MLB are businesses that are trying to make revenue, and having rivalry teams on the coasts benefits them.  But, at the end of the day, aren’t conferences and schools doing the same thing with major TV sales and etc..  Why don’t non-conference opponents (USC or Boston College) try to branch out to face these big programs to tap into a potential rivalry that could be exploited much easier than some of these other rivalries in college sports?

If I could put my own pro sports team anywhere I wanted…  I think the obvious answer, which is pretty much in the works as we speak, is an NFL team in LA.  GOLD MINE, and waaay overdue.  But I think the place I would have more passion about starting a team in would be Kansas City.  Following the same kind of model as Oklahoma City, by bringing a fresh young team with a future superstar.

Where would your pro sports team reside? Which sport?

Also, what are your feelings about Tiger Woods?  Do you still find yourself rooting for him?  What do you think his story has to say about sports figures at the very top of their game?

TV: Klosterman put out his top 4.  What are your top 4 shows (not necessarily why you chose them) and then pick a favorite.

Bryan

Who knew your childhood self would have picked such a doomed NFL team to like. The Vikings are one of two teams who have been in the Superbowl 4 times and never won. There was a friend of mine from elementary school who was a big Vikings fan. He wore a purple Vikings Starter jacket to school every day. I wonder if he’s ever wised up and changed allegiances.

Speaking of changing allegiances, when I around that age I used to be a Cowboys fan. This stemmed from me hanging around my uncle a lot, who was a huge Yankees and Cowboys fan. I fell in love with the Yankees immediately, but the Cowboys never really stuck and I ended up getting into the Giants a few years later. It’s funny because the only reason my uncle was a Cowboys fan to begin with is because he grew up with limited television and the Cowboys just had a lot of televised games. Today we’re pretty much fans by proximity, but there was also that time where you became fans by media coverage.

There is definitely a big difference between pro sports rivalries and college sports rivalries. Pro sports definitely has their markets as a huge influence on rivalries. The other two big influences are conferences and how good the teams are. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is one based on all three of those. Having now experienced living in New York, Boston, and LA, I think I can safely say that Boston has the toughest sports critics and fans. It’s mostly because Boston doesn’t have a huge entertainment industry with a bunch of actors; athletes become the city’s celebrities.

With college sports, it’s all about the conferences and teams. Ohio St-Michigan is huge because they’ve consistently been big teams and they’re in the same conference. Good teams have bigger fan bases, and the fans get more and more into the rivalry as the years go on. When it comes down to it, all of the great college rivalries come down to the teams playing each other in conference so much and the games being close. College Basketball in the Big East has rivalries with multiple combinations of multiple teams because of the fact these teams have played consistently at a high level for so long, and it becomes commonplace to see them playing with something big on the line. You could try manufacturing a rivalry like USC-BC, but it would take a few years and a few really good games for it to kick in. The media could build up something like that as much as they wanted, but if the fans didn’t want anything to do with it, it wouldn’t succeed.

Football in LA is a no brainer. It’s something that I assume will happen. I think if I had a choice I’d bring the Hartford Whalers back. Connecticut doesn’t have any professional sports teams as of now (besides the WNBA). It would be too hard for them to sustain a football team because of the tri-split with the Patriots, Giants, and Jets and Baseball with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets, but even though hockey has the same split (Bruins, Rangers, and Islanders), people in Connecticut are much less apt to pick a loyalty to one of those teams. It’s either because their heart still lies with the Whalers, or people in Connecticut have no interest in hockey.

I’m sure some people have stopped rooting for Tiger, but I still root for him. I wanted him to come out at the PGA Championship and have a Rory McIlroy at the US Open kind of weekend. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and we probably won’t see Tiger for a few months. Here’s the main reason why I root for him: he’s become human. During his untouchable run, there have been a number of guys who have come along and threatened his domination: Sergio Garcia, David Duval, Vijay Singh, and Phil Mickelson are the main ones. The first three on that list were white hot for a year or two and became these rivals, but then each of them burned out and haven’t done anything incredible since. Phil was able to stay with Tiger, and eventually pass him, but Phil hasn’t stayed the dominant force. Golf is waiting for a new definitive #1. As exciting as it was watching the final 18 of the Masters this year (which Tiger was a part of for a bit), it’s still more exciting to see that fury of great golf being played to try and topple the man on top, and the man on top fighting off the competition. It’ll be interesting to see if either 1. Tiger becomes that man on top again, 2. A new man becomes that definitive man on top and Tiger will have to try and take them down, or 3. If Tiger can keep himself from burning out like Duval, Singh, etc.

The 4 TV shows may need a whole other e-mail in itself. But I’ll try to do it as succinct as possible. I’ll do it with my 4 favorite shows on TV right now (my two favorite all time are Seinfeld and Arrested Development).

1. Parks and Recreation

This show is easily the funniest show on TV. It has some of the best written characters out there, and is really fresh with their ideas. It’s had a 2nd and 3rd season that’s paralleled The Office’s 2nd and 3rd. It’ll be interesting to see how they come out in season 4.

2. Community

The reason I love Community so much is because it’s a show for people who watch a lot of TV and movies. You can enjoy the show and find it funny on it’s own level, but you enjoy it more with media knowledge because of how many references they make in their episodes.

3. Mad Men

This could easily be subbed out with Dexter or Breaking Bad, but the 4th season of Mad Men had one of the best character arcs I have ever seen on any show. The transformation of Don Draper over that season was great. It was the first time I actually felt he was a changing character and may have actually evolved.

4. Shameless 

This is my dark horse. I would say not a huge amount of people watch this show, but it’s incredibly catchy and just a fun show to watch. It’s one of the few shows on television that I really don’t have a genre classification for: it’s just life happening to a family. Sure it’s a family with an alcoholic dad and the eldest sister that has to take care of five kids on top of dealing with her relationship issues, but it’s much less intense then it sounds. It’s the perfect amount of everything.

Going along with TV, what show do you think could have a game-changing season? Either in a positive or negative way. For me, it’s Happy Endings. The show started off with a short, 13-episode spring airing this year, but has been picked up for a full season starting in September. I think it has the potential to get really popular. It has a unique and fresh take on the classic sitcom feel (think Scrubs meets Friends).

Andrew

Bryan, if there is one thing that I respect you for, it’s that you didn’t hang on to the Cowboys as a co-favorite team.  I don’t say this because I hate the Cowboys (I do) but because those are the kind of fans in sports that can become the most infuriating.  They have two teams, two chances each year, two sets of players to root for, so on and so forth.  They don’t have to suffer the ups and downs that the true fans have to go through with their team.  If one of their teams loses they don’t even acknowledge that they liked them, they just move on to their other-favorite team.  Ridiculous.

As far as the big-market college rivalries go, we may start to see a small experiment of how it may work once the FBS shifts to a set of super conferences.  Depending on the way things go, we may be seeing Texas and Oklahoma in different conferences, maybe Mizzou and Kansas as well.  So, we may be able to see how the depth of these rivalries extend past the severance of their conference ties and maybe we will be able to see how a fabricated, one-game-a-year rivalry might work out between two big market teams.

Speaking of big market, your boy Tiger Woods is definitely looking human nowadays.  And I guess the big thing I should have asked you was less about Tiger the golfer and more about what Tiger’s situation says about the game of golf and about the immediate future of the Tour.  Of course, Tiger not making it to the finals of a Major hurts the PGA revenue wise, but it does make for an interesting scenario.  Tiger becomes the villain with the goatee that’s chasing the leaderboard, it’s leaving the hero spot open for now, and it’s strangely making sports fans root for the new bad-boy of golf.  I’ll compare this to last years Miami Heat fiasco, even though this is more of a “moral” villain than a “sports hatred” with Tiger.  Barely any fan of the NBA wanted to see the Heat play in the Finals because of the way Lebron handled his free agency, making them a fun villain of the sport.  A team to root against.  However, as it relates to golf we’re seeing a clear divide with Tiger fans and newly anti-Tiger fans.  It tends to be not quite as fun to have a villain in one of the worlds most “prestigious” sports because it seems to be on more of a judgmental basis.

While I know this show is just starting out, and therefore can’t have a game changing season, I just want to mention, Up All Night, the comedy about Will Arnett and Christina Applegate raising a kid, I hope it does well this season because I love Will Arnett.  Anyway, the show I think just had a breakout season is Louie.  Louis C.K.’s show was already a fantastic success in its first season, but having watch this past season already, I think we already drilled who had a breakout season and it’s definitely “Louie.”

Bryan and Andrew may go head-to-head again in the future if anyone cares enough to read what we have to say. Let us know!


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One Comment on “Berlin V. Childs”

  1. Colin Peters says:

    Careful what you wish for Andrew! Rumor has it that LA may in fact be getting a team. Rumor also has it that it won’t be a new team but a relocated team…Vikings? I certainly hope not, but how long can the Vikes play in that horrible dome? LA stole the Lakers from Minneapolis so it wouldn’t be the first time…


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