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Battle Red Bag, Vol. 17: Emo McCown

Sometimes, when I'm not so busy that I just bury every damn thing I read in sarcasm, I actually come upon a piece of writing that I feel passionately about. Tuesday I found one of those pieces, and I found it on, of all places, Twitter. Letters of Note (whom I think is worth a follow if you give the slightest fuck about writing) linked to a piece written honestly and passionately about depression by Chris Gethard of The Chris Gethard Show.

I am not going to pretend that I knew who Chris Gethard was before I read this, but I was really impressed by the perspective and thought put into this piece. I was a depressed high schooler, for a few messy family issues that I won't get into here, and as I've lost my father and mother over the past three years, things haven't exactly been easy street for me lately either. I tend to downplay these things because, well, when you really think of the grand scheme of things, were those really such traumatic events? I wasn't raped of physically intimidated. I didn't get threatened with bodily harm. I wasn't born in a third-world country where there's little food and rampant disease. There will always be traumatic events in your life, but as far as trauma goes, things really could have been a lot worse for me.

But I guess where I'm going with this is that, if you read the piece, Gethard comes to this line:

I don't think back on the pain. I don't think back about how lonely I felt. I don't think back and give any thought or validity to how much I felt in those times that circumstances would never change. All of that proved untrue.

But like all aspects of life, I think back and remember... the POSITIVE parts. The funny parts. The ridiculous parts. I think back to separate incidents where I had actual suicidal thoughts and at times even dipped my toes into actions, and I laugh. The pain wasn't permanent. The pain, it turns out, wasn't even real. It was a passing cloud, and with the perspective of time I realize that they were feelings that reflected not the actual circumstances of my life, but the fact that I was struggling through some shit during those times that masked my ability to see the joy in life around me back then.

And that ... that's a bridge I haven't quite crossed yet as a person. Not for all of my scars. I would say one of the primary things about being a human that I have learned from my circumstances is that if you aren't trying to learn, you are stagnating. When my father stopped trying to do new things and take new chances, he fled to a shed in central Texas, watched his money go down the drain, then passed on. I'm not trying to belittle his memory or sum up that he was a stupid man -- he just wasn't willing to learn ways to get past his problems.

We all have new things that we need to learn. For some of us it is a tangible skills, and for others it is something different entirely. For me (among other things), I'm still not quite at the point where I can laugh at all the past pains.

But damnit, I'm learning.

MeMongo asks:

Mel Brooks or Quentin Tarantino as the edgiest risk taking film maker to push society out of their comfort zone on the big screen? Favorite movie from each?

I need to put on my pedant glasses for a second here. I really don't see either of those guys as all that edgy. In fact, I think the word edgy is .... well, kind of misleading. I feel like it's something attached to something that you, yourself, don't understand. I'm sure some people find Insane Clown Posse to be "edgy," whereas I find them to be, well, stupid. I dunno, edgy is a really doofy word. It kind of implies a coolness as well.

Anyway, this is going to surprise most of you, but I am not really a movie guy. I sit through about eight movies a year, tops, and generally they aren't movies of major acclaim. What I am trying to say here is that I have never sat through Pulp Fiction. I've seen bits and pieces of it, I've seen 15-minute chunks of it, I have never watched the whole thing. Same with Kill Bill, either of them. While I appreciate Tarantino as a whole, I'm really not the kind of guy who sits through a lot of gore to get to something. I don't mind if gore is present in a film -- but if it's the predominant theme of something, it's hard for me to really get too far into it. I'm sure at some level this is a generalization, but I really just don't think I'm angry enough about anything to need that release. It's the same reason I've barely touched the Grand Theft Auto series.

So, I would prefer Mel Brooks, by far. I would say that my favorite Mel Brooks movie is the criminally underrated History of the World Part I, and my favorite Tarantino movie, in a small sample size (this and Jackie Brown), is Inglorious Basterds.

Let's face it, you can't Torquemada anything!

Cassieper writes:

What is the worst crime you think you could get away with, and how would you do said crime without being caught?

That's a really sociopathic question! Gosh, you Colts basement dwellers really need to get out more.

Anyway, the sarcastic douchebag side of me is torn between saying, "I'm a white male age 18-40, I can get away with anything!" and "How soon can I get a job at the US Department of Justice?" so let me just try and answer the question as me.

I like to think I have a pretty strict moral code for myself. Which isn't to say that I don't do douchey or illegal things, but I don't think I'm capable of, for instance, car-jacking someone. Or murder. Or anything really creepy. Too much conscience. I dunno, I haven't exactly a put a lot of thought into how I'd commit various crimes, but I think if I was to be a criminal, it'd be for something I think is clever. How about counterfeiting money? Not in the U.S., of course, they're way too advanced. But there are poorer countries with less technology to take advantage of. Or at least that's what I assume. I dunno, like I said, I didn't really put in the research here. Not something I'm big on.

TexansDC writes:

Somehow, you have become stuck on a deserted island which has working electricity, a television, and every gaming console known to mankind. There is obviously some sort of sustenance for you, but rescue is going to be about a year away. What 10 video games do you want with you to pass the time? Yes, this is an elaborate scenario asking about your top-10 games, and I assume replayability is criteria to make the coveted McCown Top-10.

Honestly, this is going to sound really stupid to some people, but I've reached a point in my life where playing video games is a big challenge for me. I know, read that back, that sounds stupid, right? But between a bigger commitment to exercising, my various job duties, my side work here, cleaning my life up from various crazy shit, organizing a new place ... and so on ... I don't have time to block off a whole afternoon and say, "I am going to play this game." The best I can do is two hours. And if I play a game for two hours, I'm going to want to do more. And then shit is going down and I will fall behind everything, because I get an addictive personality about this stuff.

All that is a convoluted way of saying that I would take five games I really like, but I would also take five games that I've always wanted to play, but never had the time to do so.

Games I've beaten before that make the island list

- Chrono Trigger
- Final Fantasy IV (which is a personal favorite and no, I don't care that it's not better than VI)
- Mega Man 4
- Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (ha, I've gamed the system!)
- Barkley Shut Up & Jam Gaiden (search for this, you will enjoy it)

Games I've always wanted to play through
- Ogre Battle
- Lufia & The Fortress of Doom
- Bioshock
- Kingdom Hearts
- Disagea

SoCalTexan writes:

By now we've played Miami, and probably won...hopefully. Who is your under the radar MVP from last game that nobody is talking about? Cite your work and include a bibliography in MLA format or you are docked a full letter grade.

Speaking of bibliographies and other mundane grade school an adult how much would say the random crap you had to do in 4th grade has prepared you to be a sports writer? Did school really ever teach you ANYTHING as a child that you really needed to know beyond basic social etiquette?

See, I don't think one can actually be under the radar at this point. There is so much coverage and dissection of things that, even in a town as media-deprived as Houston, we've got a pretty good pulse on things. But I'll twist your question around a bit for my own purposes: I think it was absolutely crucial that Andre Johnson was elite and showed little symptoms of his injuries slowing him down. And nobody is talking about that because we are all used to Andre Johnson being a glowing God of a football player. I felt like a lot of the theoretical scenarios where Houston misses the playoffs hinged on Johnson taking a step back or missing games, and while it's still too early to write off the latter concern, this was an important first test. Make no mistake about it, people will campaign for Matt Schaub as the team's most important player because of what happened last year, but a healthy Andre Johnson made T.J. Yates effective enough to win a playoff game after three games where he essentially was replacement-level fodder.

School is never about the work itself. School has two phases. Kindergarten through eighth grade, you are developing critical thinking skills and learning how to learn. HIgh school through college, you are learning how to put up with other people's bullshit so you can get through life. At least that's how it worked for me. (1)


My own head; Thoughts from the head of McCown; Accessed September 13, 2012; Houston; 1985.

grungedave writes:

1. If I refer to Trindon Holliday as an Ewok, is that more offensive to Ewoks or to Trindon? Relatedly, does George Lucas know that Trindon escaped from Endor?

You know, sometimes when I'm reading a question, a Simpsons quote will pop into my head. In this case, it was "Look, I'm no geographer, let's you and I call them 'pocket bread.'" Except I replaced "pocket bread" with "Ewoks."

And really, isn't that whole area kind of iffy? I'm not sure how long Trindon Holliday's leash is, but let me give some relevant facts here. 1) Trindon Holliday has tiny hands. Tiny, furry, hands. It is hard for him to catch an NFL football. 2) Trindon Holliday has done jack diddly squat in every NFL game he has been active in. 3) Trindon Holliday is 26 years old. I'm not saying I've done an intense study on this or anything, but anecdotally, doesn't it feel like returners start out as good as they are ever going to be, then fade a bit? Devin Hester had 11 return touchdowns by the time he was 26. Know how many he had the next two years? Zero.

I can buy that Holliday is a dynamic weapon. I can buy that Holliday has transcendent speed. I can't buy him as a consistent NFL returner because I think there is too much downside. If there is one area of an NFL team that demands steadiness, it is special teams. You cannot tolerate special team fuckups. Trindon Holliday is a dynamic weapon ... but he's also a special teams fuckup waiting to happen. That's a rollercoaster that I don't think the Texans are likely to hang on to unless he gets really hot, really fast.

All I'm saying is, the Ewoks didn't have any problems taking down AT-AT's.

I don't think George Lucas knows, but if someone tells him, it might wake him up long enough for him to re-make one of the movies he did correctly before 1998, so let's just not bother him.

2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how embarrassed should I be that on Draft Day 2011, I was really, really angry the Texans drafted J.J. Watt instead of that guy from Auburn?

I don't think you should feel too bad. Look, I am a dude who tries to draft after the Texans. I spend a lot of time reading scouting reports and looking at various players. I liked J.J. Watt a lot, and I thought he was a very high-ceiling pick. I don't think I ever expected him to be this good, this fast. You are an invested Texans fan, but you weren't sitting there pouring over draft profiles or anything. Besides, Nick Fairley had just dragged an entirely crappy Auburn defense to good all on his own, winning a championship with them. I think that's a textbook recipe for a player to be overrated on draft day.

3. Seriously, do you think J.J. will ever forgive me?

I do. There are some professional athletes who thrive solely because of their, ugh I hate this word, "haters." J.J. does not strike me as this kind of person. The Texans draft high character dudes for a reason.

bigfatdrunk asks:

Thanks in large part to Bill James and applied by Billy Beane, the acceptance of advanced metrics in baseball has become commonplace. Where do you see advanced metrics in football today in both the theoretical (sites like FO) and the application (actual front office use)? Do you believe advanced football metrics are moving toward widespread acceptance with mainstream fans?

Well, you know there are quite a few teams that contact us at FO and have us do reports for them. I could tell you about that, but I'd have to kill you.

BFD, I would say that if there is one thing we often overrate because of this idea that we are thinking fans, it is our own impact on things. It sure feels like, because of the little niche of the internet (and real life, nowadays) places that we have, that we have more of a voice and more of a say, and that those things will continue growing. A couple months back, during the Olympics, Will Leitch penned what I thought was a fantastic piece about the tape-delayed games, and apparently it has disappeared from the Sports On Earth archive, which sucks.

But the main gist of it was that despite the fact that a vocal minority exists, the majority of America still lives in a world where traditional mass media is their main driving force. In said world, advanced metric ideas will never gain traction, because the value of the entertainment for them is that it doesn't take a lot of stress on the noggin. That's not to say that things will never change, but I think it's going to be a much more gradual process before we reach a point where, say, wOBA is displayed instead of batting average. Or DVOA is preferred over yards per carry.

"Widespread acceptance" is something that takes root very slowly. Not to turn this into a comments section that gets a lot of deleted submissions, but look at how long widespread acceptance is taking on gay rights. And that's something that is way more important than football.

Where it's at as a whole: I think the release of the All-22 is going to open up some doorways. There still aren't enough people who can properly evaluate tape in the media -- really, as much work as I've put in, I wouldn't come close to considering myself an expert -- but I believe that we are on the right path there. Statistics are all about context, and the context will expand now that we know more.

But I believe that statistics can only ever be so important. I think the perfect view on football (and any other sport) is one that marries scouting and statistics. Coming into this year, statistics could tell you that Julio Jones was likely to improve. Scouting could tell you that Julio Jones was going to dominate. Meanwhile, scouting will tell you that oh my God that Miami passing game is going to be dreadful and why would you draft anyone from it? But stats will tell you that, yeah, someone from that terrible team is going to be valuable. Probably Davone Bess when he's not getting covered by Johnathan Joseph.

So, that's my view on it. Those who find the best way to marry scouting and statistics are those who deserve the most attention. And I hope I learn how to properly be one of those people.