Being a sports fan in Wisconsin who doesn't like the Wisconsin teams, picking favorite teams can be a difficult challenge. I'm here to say I picked wrong. And, since I am a sports fan nomad at heart, I reserve the right to change my mind. I reached a breaking point with the Dolphins today, and am officially jumping off the bandwagon. Let me explain.
The Dolphins announced the three finalists for their head coaching job recently. On the list is interim coach Todd Bowles, who may not actually be able to speak. Also on the list is Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who learned at the knee of Dan Henning and who is basically just riding the wave of Tim Tebow success to several job interviews, and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who is basically riding the wave of Aaron Rodgers being the best quarterback in the NFL and the team being just absolutely stacked on offense all the way around.
Not on the list is Cincinnati Bengals coordinator Mike Zimmer who, despite being friendly with general manager Jeff Ireland, was never considered a serious candidate, reports have it, because he is “too outspoken.” This is code for “if things go wrong, Zimmer is going to say something about it.” And, as we've learned from following the Dolphins lately, owner Stephen Ross and Ireland want a yes man more than a good football mind. Ireland has Ross completely snowed that he is doing a great job and it is up to the coach to put together a winning product on the field.
Reality is, what the Dolphins are is the worst thing you can be in sports. The Indianapolis Colts might be bad, but they have hope. You feel like if they draft Andrew Luck and add some pieces around him, that is a team that could turn things around rather quickly. What the Dolphins are is too good to be bad enough to get a guy like Luck in the draft, and too bad to make the playoffs and make any type of run at the Super Bowl. They are perfectly mediocre.
Which, that alone is no reason to abandon a team. The real problem is that Stephen Ross is the worst owner in professional sports. He is treating this ownership like just another business venture for him. For some reason, he's listening to Ireland and leaning on him, when reality is, Ireland is simply over his head and doing a mediocre job. This was a case where sweeping changes had to be made. What happened in Indy is what should have happened in Miami. Instead, they're going to hire McCoy or Philbin and we'll be right back to this same spot three years from now, with Ireland and the coach on the outs and the team in dire need of another change in direction.
But Ross couldn't really be bothered to care about that. He's more worried about stuff like Club Live. So when the very top of the organization doesn't care, why should the fan base? I see this not as being a fair weather fan, but rather making a statement about my dissatisfaction for the state of things. Everyone who goes to Miami treats it like a retirement home or a cool place to hang out. I happen to think sports are serious business, because I have asperger's and I am unflinchingly rigid about the things I believe being true. So fuck the Dolphins, and fuck everything I wrote about them on this here site in the past. I am still an idiot, but at least I will now be an idiot rooting for a team with some actual direction.
So I will take you through the thought process I underwent to find a new team. I examined my past sports loyalties and realized that the only sports team I do not want to abandon is the Los Angeles Clippers. I have been a Clippers fan since I was seven years old, because they have almost always sucked and I love rooting for teams that suck because if they ever get good you can say “told you so,” and if they never get good, well, no one can accuse you of hopping on their bandwagon just because they are good. So the Clippers had to stay.
So I sought out a town that has a football team and a baseball team, preferably a National League baseball team. That narrowed it down to Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati and San Diego, right off the bat. Well, my friend Kevin DiFrango is a Pittsburgh fan, so they are out. Despite sharing a name with him, Dusty Baker is my least favorite person in baseball, so they are out. And St. Louis is coming off a World Series, and the Rams just hired Jeff Fisher, who I think is a weiner. So hello San Diego!
In baseball, I have always preferred small market teams who develop prospects and look for bargains to fill out their roster. My designated American League team is and always will be the A's, so the Padres definitely fit the bill since they are basically the National League version of the A's. But what of the Chargers? Let's take a look there.
Their owner, Dean Spanos, did something Stephen Ross hasn't done and will never do. He showed tremendous vision for the upcoming season. And the beauty part is, he did it by doing nothing. If Kenny Rogers taught us anything in this crazy mixed up world, it is that you need to know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em. Spanos knew now was a time to hold 'em. He looked at his team and said, “We're not that far from contending. If we can get Antonio Gates and Malcolm Floyd to stay healthy, if we can add some playmakers on defense, we can maybe get to the Super Bowl.” Sometimes the right thing to do is nothing at all. I applauded the Texans last offseason for not firing Gary Kubiak and they proved me right by making it into the playoffs despite being on their 832nd quarterback. I think the Chargers mindset here is, let's give this one more shot, and then if it doesn't work, if we are mediocre again, then we can make the changes everyone is clamoring for.
They are in perfect position to make the playoffs next year. No one in the AFC West is really that inspiring. The Chiefs feel like a mediocre, 8-8 type team. The Raiders are in transition and paid way way too much for Carson Palmer, and that might end up crippling them and ultimately undermining their attempts to contend. And as for the Broncos, I can't help but feel the longer Tim Tebow sticks around, the more teams are going to figure him out and be able to stop him. He sort of strikes me as a better, much more hyped up religious Mike McMahon. McMahon had that great game against the Packers because the Pack had no idea what to expect from him, and then almost immediately thereafter McMahon became the second worst quarterback of the last 15 years behind only Ryan Leaf.
So the door is definitely wide open for the Chargers. And I feel comfortable hopping on their bandwagon since they are not *so * good that I will get snide looks from sports snobs who hate that I jumped ship in the first place. Philip Rivers is on the cusp of becoming an elite quarterback. I feel like he is at the very top of the second tier of quarterbacks in the league, right behind guys like Rodgers, Tom Brady, the Mannings, Drew Brees and whoever. As I said earlier, if the team can stay healthy, and they can avoid their notorious slow starts, they could very well make the playoffs next season, and we all know, anything can happen in the NFL playoffs, since it's just a bunch of one game sample sizes.
Plus, I get to root for a team coached by Norv Turner one of the most notorious coaches in football. It seems like he is always on the hotseat, but he manages to keep his job year after year. I think he's actually a good coach, and I think the team has an actual vision for success, both for this year and into the future. If they miss the playoffs again, then they can fire Norv and hit the reset button. I appreciate the thought that stability matters in this league, since I'm not a big coaching guy in the first place. I don't think bringing in Savior Guy, whether it be Jeff Fisher or Jon Gruden or whoever, is the answer. Having a well run organization with true vision is what matters the most.
The Dolphins? They don't have that. If ever there was a time to fold 'em, to make wide sweeping organizational changes, this was it. Instead, they were content to make Tony Sparano the fall guy and otherwise maintain status quo. How are McCoy and Philbin any different than Cam Cameron? He had a pretty impressive resume as an assistant coach too, and that led to one of the worst seasons in NFL history. This is a team that is not only going nowhere, but seems perfectly content to continuing doing so. So while I will continue to listen to 790 The Ticket podcasts and be Dan LeBatard's biggest fan, I can't stand being a Miami fan anymore. So fuck you if you think what I'm doing is wrong and breaks the sports fan code of ethics. I feel like I'm making a stand here by doing this, and besides, I was going to swallow a bullet if I had to put up with that nonsense any longer. So goodbye Miami, hello Norv Turner and San Diego, and yes, I'm sticking with this. God help me.
PS. Return of the Killer Tomatoes was filmed in San Diego, and that is the best movie ever made. So, fate.