Get Rid Of Video Review

Albert Burneko 05/02/2018. 24 comments
Funbag Balls Deep Video Replay Bertbag

Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Drew’s gone! We have guest hosts. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we’re talking about video review in sports, ethics in takeout dining, and more.

Alex:

When looking at a replay during Game 5 between the Pacers and Cavs, it was obvious that LeBron blocked Oladipo’s layup after it hit the backboard . I was reading an article, and it was saying it is only reviewable if the refs blew the whistle because of that play. My question is, why the hell can’t they review that in such an important part of the game? To top things off, the Cavs called a timeout within a second of getting the rebound, and it would make sense to look at it with only a few seconds left on the clock. Also, if I remember correctly, wasn’t there a game this year where they had to replay some minutes because the refs messed up with the amount of free throws or something like that? Why would something like that take precedence over a playoff game?

As a roundabout way of arriving at an answer to this, I want you to consider the NFL. As a business concern, whatever, the NFL is doing fine, it prints money. But as a sport, it’s a wrecked, self-cannibalizing mess, for a lot of different reasons but at least in part because of the toxic effects of the idea that ordinary referee error is a problem and that it can and should be fixed by reviewing a super-slow-motion high-definition replay of what everybody just saw.

So now the thing that happens is, a quarterback makes a daring pass, a receiver leaps high for a spectacular, heroic, superhuman catch in the end zone, and ... everybody sits around bickering for five minutes while the referees determine whether what you just saw actually happened or not. The thing you root for is not for your team to do something amazing and good, but for the referees to grant that something amazing and good happened, and you cheer or groan when that happens. The actual sports feat, the football, no longer is allowed to be the substance of the football game. The substance of the football game happens in the review booth; the playing surface on which the outcome of the game is decided is made up of the soft tissues of the review official’s eyeballs.

This gives every NFL game a weird, neurotic, deeply unpleasant rhythm: The familiar crescendoes of tension and anticipation as an offense works its way down the field, punctuated not by big cathartic releases when they score or when the defense gets a stop, but by grinding frustration and boredom as the referees huddle and confer with a replay monitor to suss out what actually happened, as determined by the arbitrary decision to grant super-slow-motion more credibility than real time. This is insane and broken at a fundamental level.

Close, marginal plays in the endzone or along the sideline, diving catches, quarterback strip-sacks: These have gone from being the best and most exciting plays in the sport to being the worst and most dreadful, all because of the very bad and very poisonous belief that getting every call exactly right is both possible (it isn’t) and preferable to living with the idea that sometimes refs will fuck up. And it’s spun out into weird side effects, too, like the NFL’s rulebook metastasizing into a giant tortured byzantine nightmare text and every official ruling requiring 90 seconds of incomprehensible explanation.

It wasn’t always like this! I promise it wasn’t. When I was young—so, like, a thousand years ago—a receiver made a leaping catch in the back of the endzone, the crowd exploded, the referees nodded in perfunctory confirmation at each other and signaled it was a touchdown, the crowd exploded even louder, and everybody celebrated and that was that. Sports were assumed to happen at the speed of ordinary human perception, and in close plays the referees’ ordinary human perception could rule authoritatively because they watched the game from up close and knew the rules. They blew calls! Sometimes they blew them in ways that seemed to delegitimize outcomes! But it was okay. Football became the country’s favorite sport nonetheless.

How do you even play pickup football with your pals, now? Are you out here reviewing and interpreting whether Kevin made a football move or maintained possession while going to the ground, or whether Tom was only attempting to tuck the ball against his body and was still in the motion of attempting a forward pass or had already tucked the ball against his body before Brian stripped it from him? Do you even try to play the same sport the NFL plays? Or do you go with the infinitely more reasonable “C’mon, everybody knows what the fuck a ‘catch’ and a ‘fumble’ are” standard, and accept that you’re playing something almost fundamentally irreconcilable with what you watch on TV on autumn Sundays?

What I am saying here is that video review is bad and poisonous, and nothing should be reviewable in any sport, period, ever. It’s probably too late for the NFL to escape the mirror labyrinth it built for itself, or anyway it would take at least a generation without video review to detoxify the sport and its audience away from the idea that the truth of it is what’s revealed in slow-motion replay, but we can keep other sports from getting sucked all the way in. A sport in which the referees occasionally just miss the call on a warp-speed play like LeBron’s block (which slow-motion revealed as a goaltend but the naked eye did not) and we all have to live with that is infinitely better and healthier than a sport gradually warped into dysfunction by the underlying logic of video review.

Maybe you would feel better about the legitimacy of the outcome of Cavs-Pacers if the referees had conferenced around a video screen for five minutes and ruled that LeBron had goaltended Oladipo’s shot. That’s not worth ruining the sport! You can go to hell for suggesting it!

Michael:

If you had to compare bands or artists based on only their best 5 songs – who is the all-time top dog? The Beatles suddenly look weak when compared to Zep, Queen or even GNR. So who as an old rock Dad, who ya got..?

If we are talking strictly about rock bands*, then the correct answer here, pretty much no matter which five of their best songs you pick as the very best, is the Rolling Stones. I will brook no dissent on this!

Guns N’ Roses don’t have a fifth-best song that measures up; on any list of Led Zeppelin’s five best songs, three of them are songs they just straight-up stole from other musicians; nobody actually likes any Queen songs. Metallica has a lot of great songs that rule very hard, and I can’t tell any two of them apart. Get the fuck out of my face with U2. It’s the Rolling Stones! My reasoning is flimsy and preposterous, but you can just go to hell!

Limiting your selection to a band’s (or solo artist’s, but for the purpose of keeping this Funbag to a sane length let’s just stick with rock bands) five best songs is a way of erasing the fact that some acts’ catalogs feature high ratios of trash to genuinely good songs. Like the Rolling Stones for example: Their catalog features many decades worth of very bad, cynical, same-y, gotta-pay-for-the-drugs-ass shit in it, and when looking at bands’ whole bodies of work you have to hold that against any argument that they’re rock’s greatest band. But if you can just cherry-pick the best songs and stack them up against other acts’ best songs, all that sleazy crud disappears and suddenly you are looking at a band that has produced more genuinely great songs than the total studio output of a short-lived act like Nirvana or Jeff Buckley or whoever. And then you’re like, shit brah, the Rolling Stones are the best rock band of all time!

But is this a particularly good way to evaluate musical acts? I kind of think it is not the best. I think a better way would be to listen to a completely random five-song sample of their entire body of work. What act’s random five-song sampling would rule the hardest? I’m sure I don’t know, but it isn’t fucking Rush, that’s for sure.

*For solo acts, using this standard, the choice is between Prince and Amy Winehouse. 

Cameron:

I recently went to a diner and ordered the $4.95 special of 2 pancakes, 2 eggs cooked to order, and 2 strips of bacon. I ordered my eggs fried and soft, mostly because I panic in these situations and say the first coherent thing that comes to mind. When the food came I realized I had a choice. On one hand I could eat the eggs first and get my pancakes saturated with yolk. On the other hand I could eat the pancakes first and get the eggs syrupy. I decided to go with the latter.

Did I make the right choice?

You blew it, Cameron. You fuckin’ blew it!

The mistake here is thinking the runny yolks presented a problem. Runny yolks are never a problem! Runny yolks are a gift. Put a poached or fried egg with a runny yolk on the dang Great Pyramid and I will eat that fucker, or at least make a gross discomfiting show of licking the runny yolk off of it, dirt be damned.

I mean, yeah, you did fine, in the sense that once you have fried eggs (the way you ordered them, with runny yolks, is called over easy, Cam) and bacon and pancakes, everything is okay and any which way you eat this glorious bounty is good so long as you use the right orifice. But the true Advanced Breakfast Tactic, here, is not to discern the proper order for eating these discrete things, but rather to bring them together into a glorious union of salty, fatty protein and sweet, cakey carbohydrate.

Apply syrup to pancakes. Stack eggs on top of syrup-clad pancakes. And now, because it’s not my breakfast and therefore comes with no social or digestive consequences for me, stick the fuckin’ bacon between the pancakes like the filling of a fuckin’ sandwich. Now eat that big gross heap of breakfast (with a fork, please, it’s not actually a sandwich), with yolk dripping down into the sweet pancakes and crunchy bacon studded in it here and there!

This is either a template for a happy life or a recipe for an early death, or both.

John:

My son and I went out a fast casual restaurant—that I won’t name—the other day for takeout, and as we were leaving, I grabbed a bottle of jalapeño Tabasco and put it into our bag.

After arriving home, my wife informed me (loudly) that I had stolen the Tabasco.

Now... here’s my argument against this being misdemeanor theft: Condiments are free!! If we had decided to eat our food in the restaurant and I happened to use a whole bottle of Tabasco on my meal, this would be acceptable. So... What’s the difference if I take it with me?

I say nothing. Please help me prove my wife wrong.

John, you stole the shit. C’mon. Of course you did!

There’s always the possibility that a dine-in customer will use the contents of a whole bottle of Tabasco on their meal, yes, in which case, yes, it’s more-or-less the moral equivalent of absconding with the entire bottle. But that’s not what the bottle is for, ya big dingus. You can’t just be like, “Oh, what, if I just happened to use 65,000,000 plies of toilet paper in one bathroom visit, nobody would have a problem with it!” as an excuse for making off with the restaurant’s entire supply of toilet paper, just because you wanted some at home and didn’t want to have to make a second stop. It’s not a grocery store, John! And much more to the point, even if it were, if you didn’t pay for the shit, that would be theft.

The expectation is that you will use some of the bottle of Tabasco, and then leave the rest for whoever comes after you. For that matter, the expectation is that the bottle of Tabasco is for people who are eating in the restaurant; the free amenities of the dine-in experience are not all automatically transferable to your home or car just because you prefer the expedience of getting your food to-go. You can’t tell the cashier that he has to ride home with you so he can wipe down your table and take out the trash when you’re done eating. You can’t wrench the soda fountain out of the wall and shove it into the back of your minivan so that you don’t miss out on the free Sierra Mist refill you’d get if you stuck around to eat in one of the booths.

That’s not how it works, my dude! There’s a social contract to uphold! You can use the Tabasco if you eat in the restaurant, or if you’re willing to endure a few minutes of being the creep who unwraps his takeout food to hose it down with Tabasco before leaving. Otherwise, go to hell!

Quentin:

My dad stopped by my place for the first time in 8 months to see me and my kids. I asked what we should do for dinner and he says ‘why don’t we go for Chinese?’ He didn’t pick up the bill when we were done.

Am I wrong to be annoyed that he didn’t pick up the bill?

I’m out $75 for shitty Chinese buffet and I need to know if it’s my fault or his.

Quentin, I am sorry to tell you this, but you have been owned by your father.

J:

Holding doors in public is dumb, right? If you are the holder you have to wait forever for some people to get to the door and if you are the holdee you feel like you need to hurry so you don’t look slow and ungrateful. Now obviously there are exceptions for pregnancies, people carrying heavy objects, etc, but can we all just agree that no one aged 5-75 needs a door held for them?

I’m a door holder. If I’m passing through a doorway in a public place, and I can hear or feel that someone else is coming behind me within any reasonable distance, I will hold the door open for them. Men, women, the elderly, shitty youths, whatever.

Don’t get me wrong, here: They can go to hell, and so can you! If I hold the door open for you and you walk through it directly into an alligator’s mouth, more the better! I do it because it makes me feel better about myself. I like to know that I am a nice humanitarian.

But seriously, no harm can come from choosing to give off, over and over again, these small and easy indicators that you are aware of the people around you and share at the very least a sort of rock-bottom kinship and solidarity with them. You were not going to do something cooler or more important with those 15 seconds than making somebody else’s day just a tiny little bit better. You were just going to pick your nose! I see you doing it! Really disgusting.

The substance of a community is all the myriad little ways the people in it modify their behavior for no other reason than that there are other people around. That’s 100 percent all it is. If those people modify their behavior in kind, considerate, selfless ways—holding open doors for a few damn seconds, not stealing Tabasco bottles from Chipotle, etc.—the community is good. If they modify their behavior in paranoid, defensive, selfish ways, the community elects Donald Trump president.

Speaking of which:

Tyler:

I believe the Funbag has covered the question of ‘Does Donald Trump know the words to the National Anthem? ’ (No). But what about state capitals, another thing most fourth-graders know? If asked on the spot to name the capital cities of all 50 states, how many could Donald Trump get? No chance he gets more than 25, right?

For sure he could name Albany; I would bet any amount of money that he is one of those dudes who refers to the New York state government in aggregate as “Albany,” or has been. Likewise I bet Mr. Atlantic City could name Trenton. It’s possible he could name Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, since he owns a home in Florida and more-or-less resides there.

There is no chance whatsoever that he could name any others. I would bet pretty much any amount of money that he could not name 25 states without lapsing into a list of Hollywood Squares who were very, very rude and disrespectful to him in the 1980s.

HALFTIME!

Kevin:

At what point do clothes become dirty laundry and must be washed before next use? I say I undies and socks are dirty immediately after they touch your body. Shirts are dirty as soon as you wear them outside OR sleep in them. Pants never get dirty unless something spills on them. Towels are only dirty if they smell like shit.

Socks and undies are dirty laundry as soon as you take them off, even if you’ve only worn them for 10 minutes, and they’re dirty laundry after 18 hours even if you’re still wearing them. T-shirts are basically the same: If I put a T-shirt on but then change my mind and decide to wear a different shirt, I feel weird about putting the first shirt back in the drawer. I will feel like it’s festering in there, besmirched, the Bad Shirt, spreading unfreshness to the other shirts. Corrupting them!

Button-down shirts of the sort that go on hangers are dirty if you’ve worn them for a length of time equivalent to a full day’s work shift with a reasonable commute on either end of it, whether you actually did that or not. If you wear a shirt for that length of time and then take it off, it’s dirty now. You may make an exception if you wore an undershirt and if you didn’t do anything that made you sweat while wearing the shirt. Also, this doesn’t really apply to heavy flannel shirts, which are dirty only if they smell bad or have visible filth on them. And linen shirts are dirty only when they’re visibly discolored or bad smelling, because washing them sucks and ironing them sucks even worse.

Polo-type shirts, I dunno, whatever, I don’t like polo-type shirts and don’t own any.

Suit pants are dirty when they have something spilled on them or when the crease is so apocalyptically motherfucked that you might as well take them to the dry cleaners. Regular khaki trousers or whatever are dirty when they look dirty or smell bad. Jeans are never dirty unless you spill something on them or they smell like dumpster juice.

Bath towels should basically never be real-deal dirty, if you’re using them properly and hanging them properly to dry afterward. If they smell like shit, the problem is that you don’t know how to wash yourself. (You should still launder them from time to time, just so you can say you do.)

Bones:

At what point does “Swoosh! Michael Jordan wins the game!” become “Swoosh! LeBron James wins the game!” And how pissed is Kobe that he got passed over?

I think it already has, in the sense that most of the people doing the “Swoosh! [Basketball Hero X] wins the game!” thing, at basketball courts or trash cans or anywhere else, are probably kids, and kids mostly don’t give a rat’s ass about Michael Jordan. At very best, they feel about Michael Jordan the way I felt about, say, Wes Unseld: Sort of vaguely impressed, willing to accept that he was A Cool Old Basketball Dinosaur Of Yore, but not personally moved by him in the slightest, because he belonged to The Olds and could never really represent me kicking the asses I wanted to kick. More probably they’re sick of old sacks of shit like me waxing rhapsodic about the greatness of Michael Jordan and suspect he was probably a garbage player by modern standards, who dribbled by bending over at the waist and slapping at the ball with his butt stuck out like an idiot. You know, the way I regard Bob Cousy.

What I wonder is at what age you settle on who your permanent “Swish! [Basketball Hero X] wins the game!” avatar will be. Like I still can’t really help but think of Michael Jordan when I am tossing a paper ball into the trash from across the room, even though on the whole I’ve almost certainly watched a lot more of LeBron than I ever did of Michael, and have come to think LeBron is at least as good, and like him more. Michael’s still my “Swish! [Basketball Hero X] wins the game!” guy.

Ah, the human heart, she is a deep and mysterious ocean of secrets.

Michael:

My fiancee has one friend who I never want to hang out with. She’s not an objectively bad person, but I find her to be incredibly aggravating and I never want to be in the same room as her. I’m quite fine with my fiancee being friends with her. I just don’t want to also be friends with her. I would much rather be excluded from their social interactions.

This isn’t usually a problem. But every once in a while, this friend wants significant others to join. I’ve told my fiancee how I feel and she almost never makes me attend. But I still need to find some excuse, and there have been occasions when I manufactured conflicts to get out of it.

How do I manage this? At this point, it’s kind of apparent I avoid these outings anyway, but the invites keep coming. Sometimes, my absence puts pressure on my fiancee. I just want to tell this friend “stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen! It’s not going to happen!”

A dumb and obvious and unhelpful Dad Truism I repeat at my kids very often is, “Most of life is spent doing one thing when you’d rather be doing something else. It’s fine, or anyway it’s a good thing to get comfortable with, because that’s how it’s gonna be even if you don’t.” (Usually I follow it with “So let’s skip past the whining and just frickin’ eat your dinner, okay?”)

You’d rather go to a ballgame than to a weekly status meeting. You’d rather get laid than get your taxes done. At any given moment the thing you’re doing almost certainly is not the one thing you’d choose to do over all others. In fact, I’d say that you’re extraordinarily lucky if even 25 times in your whole entire lifetime the thing you’re doing at one moment is the exact thing you’d enjoy most out of all possibilities, the exact way you’d most like to be doing it. In your whole damn lifetime!

You love your fiancée. That’s why you’re getting married. Will you go to chemotherapy sessions with your fiancée when that’s not what you want to be doing? Will you run down to the store to pick up some friggin’ tampons and pads, because of the two of you you’re the one who can do that without leaving a trail of blood along the way, even though you can imagine many things that would be a lot more pleasurable to do with that time? Will you not only endure but be an active and constructive participant in difficult, frighteningly vulnerable and personal discussions about your relationship and your feeeeeeelings in the inevitable rough patches, even though given the choice you’d rather do literally any other thing, you’d literally rather stab yourself between the knuckles with a butter knife, you’d rather let a dog chew on your nuts?

Getting married is saying “Yes” to these questions. That’s what marriage is: A standing and committed “Yes” to those questions. If your answer to those questions is “Yes,” then you should go ahead and get used to spending time around this annoying friend, for the sake of not making your fiancée feel like she has to keep two parts of her life separate from each other for no reason stronger than your sorta vague distaste for an annoying person she loves. I promise you, very sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, that if this act of shit-eating turns out even to make the list of the hundred worst sacrifices you have to make in your life together, you will have been almost inconceivably lucky.

(Or, hell, go ahead and hold out for a partner who doesn’t have any annoying friends or relatives or ex-boyfriends or habits or hobbies or speech patterns or favorite TV shows, or who is totally and permanently okay with you just straight-up parachuting out of the parts of her life you’re not super into. The world needs celibate loners, too!)

Brent:

What’s the best way to clean my raingutters?

Oh GOD. If you can’t hire someone to do it for you, the best way to do it is to back your lawnmower over your own face.

I suppose “very carefully” isn’t a good enough answer, huh? What I did when I lived in a house where this was possible was, I got a tall ladder and carried a trash bag up there with me, and just scooped the leaves and twigs and seed pods and shit out of there by hand and shoved them into the trash bag. Cursing a blue damn streak the whole time! Then I dragged the hose up there and ran water through the gutter to get it relatively clean-looking and to flush out the downspouts. Or, I should say, first I let the gutters get so stuffed with debris that they were bending and coming off the side of the house and when it rained the front of my house looked like Niagara Falls, then I paid through the nose to have the gutters professionally cleaned and repaired, then I did the above method after that. It sucked. It sucks. I’m sorry.

Now I live in a place where the gutters on one side of the house are low enough to get to with a regular nine-foot stepladder... and the gutters on the other side are like 30 damn feet off the ground, thanks to the ridiculous slope of the hill under my house. There’s just no way I can even get to the gutters on the downhill side of the house with a ladder. The only option is to climb on the roof on the uphill side, walk my clumsy ass across the roof, up to the edge of the terrifying precipice, and then, like, kneel down and clean the gutters.

I will die if I do this. Therefore I have bit the bullet and hired people to come clean the gutters. It costs way too much, but the alternative is death!

I don’t have any good advice, here. I just wanted to complain about my home some more.

Email of the week!

Eric:

I noticed at my parents house that the main towel rod for the guest towels is located right next to the toilet. If you’re like me an acutely aware of all the pee and poo splashback that can occur at any given point with a standard toilet, I was immediately grossed out and hung my towel over the side of the shower instead. Now I understand in some small apartments and small bathrooms you gotta work with what you have, but their bathroom design is just downright flawed.

You gotta take the toilet water splash into account for the bathroom towel rod placement when space allows, right?

I mean, yes, that is a less-than-ideal place for a towel rod. But also, I am very baffled by what you seem to be implying about your pooping techniques. How are you accomplishing “poo splashback” that could reach the towel? Shouldn’t, y’know, your ass be in the way? Are you like standing across the room and blasting loaves into the toilet like a goddamn bazooka? Actually it’s better not to know. Take this secret to your grave, Eric!

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