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      Smack Zone — Smack Talk

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      How to Win an Argument with a Chicago Blackhawks Fan

      This is a recurring Smack Zone feature designed to help opposing fans win an argument with the team in question (and to help fans of that team prepare their rebuttals). We have done the Yankees, Patriots and Packers so far. Today's subject: the Chicago Blackhawks (we still love you, 'Hawks fans. Really, we do). [caption id="attachment_1246" align="alignright" width="165"]Chicago Blackhawks. Red Wings fans get it.[/caption] They drop the puck for real in the NHL this week, and that means the Chicago Blackhawks once again are poised to begin a defense of a Stanley Cup championship -- their third in five years. This is getting old. The Patrick Kane-Jonathan Toews Era is getting old. Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis is getting WAY old. Seeing the United Center on TV in June is getting old. All this talk about the glory of the Original Six is getting old. It's all tired. Still, the renaissance of the franchise since Rocky Wirtz took over for his late father at the top of the organization in 2007 has been nothing short of inspirational. Things were awful before that, but it's hard to imagine a more enjoyable team to root for now than the Blackhawks. You know what, though? The Chicago Blackhawks might finally be on the verge of a fall. Or at least a stumble. Too many core players have moved on from last year's champion, and there are too many questions surrounding Kane. Speaking of which, let's start there with our tips for how to win an argument with a Chicago Blackhawks fan -- the bandwagoners or those who falsely claim not to be bandwagoners (there are no other kinds of Blackhawks fans, after all). Patrick Kane is (allegedly) a criminal. This is a big deal and no doubt about it. Kane's sexual assault case is not going away any time soon, and it is bound to be a distraction. Oh, and? It could land his ass in prison. Be a bit tough to raise the Cup from behind bars, eh? And what does it say about Chicago fans that Kane, still under investigation for sexual assault, received one of the loudest ovations at Soldier Field when the team brought the Cup to a recent Bears game? Kane's lawyer represents Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. OK, listen. Everyone has the right to the best legal representation money can buy. But the optics on this are brutal and just ... stupid. Kane is accused of sexual assault. Attorney Paul Cambria is known as the Porn Lawyer for his decades-long association with Flynt. In fact, during a recent interview, Cambria left a mug with the Hustler logo on a shelf behind him. That's beyond tasteless. It's either ridiculously arrogant or absurdly imbecilic. Maybe both. All Chicago Blackhawks fans are bandwagon fans. Oh, sure, there are the die-hards who claim to have been part of the fan base before the glory days began in 2008-09. They are lying. The only fans of the Blackhawks are those who jumped on the bandwagon within the past seven or eight years. Want to know how to tell? Ask them to tell you about their favorite memory of Denis Savard. The universal answer: Who? One of their biggest celebrity fans is this guy:  [caption id="attachment_1247" align="aligncenter" width="474"]Chicago Blackhawks Charles Barkley possesses the worst swing in the history of golf and is a Blackhawks fan. Coincidence? Yes. But it's a funny-ass golf swing so here you go.[/caption] OK, Blackhawks fans. We get it. If you're even half as loyal as you say you are, it should be no problem AT ALL to fire back at all of the aforementioned points. We never said it would be easy to win an argument with a Chicago Blackhawks fan. After all, not many teams have won SIX Stanley Cups. Speaking of which, here's one for the 'Hawks: [caption id="attachment_1250" align="aligncenter" width="170"]Chicago Blackhawks OK, the Blackhawks don't really suck. Unless you're a Red Wings fan. Then, all bets are off.[/caption] Case closed. But not that Patrick Kane sexual assault case. That's still wide-freaking-open.

      Miami Fan: Dolphins Finally Got It Right by Firing Philbin

      New Smack Zone contributor and Dolphins fan Mike Julianelle WAS going to write about how much it sucks to get up and watch a crappy team play a crappy game in crappy London. Then Joe Philbin got fired, and all was right with Mike's world. Sort of. Here's what he wrote instead: By Mike Julianelle, Smack Zone Contributor It’s a sad day when you start rooting for your team to lose just so they’ll fire their coach. As a Dolphins fan, that’s what I was doing Sunday morning. And at the end of last season. And the end of the 2013 season. And when Cam Cameron was the coach. And when Dave Wannstedt was the coach … But hey, at least Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Jets (there’s no other kind of loss to the Jets) was good for something: The Dolphins finally fired Joe Philbin! And only 10-to-22 months too late! Let’s ignore the fact that 2015 was a wasted season as soon he wasn’t fired in January, regardless of the flashy Suh signing and subsequent preseason buzz. And let’s ignore the fact that even if interim head coach Dan Campbell lights a fire under the team and fires off a few wins, the odds that they can overcome two division losses and a 3-0 (probably 4-0) Patriots head start and somehow win the division are basically, laughably ZERO, and the odds that they can secure a wildcard berth are slim-to-none. Not at 1-3, with a patchwork offensive line, a decimated secondary, no linebackers, an inability/unwillingness to run the ball, and a quarterback who can’t throw a deep ball or an end zone fade to save his life and an owner who doesn’t have much of a backbone or any knowledge of football and somehow I’m not even referring to part-owner Gloria Estefan. [caption id="attachment_1243" align="alignleft" width="300"]Dolphins If Joe Philbin was in charge of an actual dolphin show. Image: Giphy.[/caption] Instead let’s rejoice and ignore the fact that now we have to wait another four months before they hire a new head coach and another six months before the optimism of draft season dawns and another 10 months before the 2016 season starts and another sixteen months before we get depressed again. Today, they finally did something right! Mike Julianelle lives somewhere in New Jersey (we think; maybe it's Staten Island) and publishes the "anti-parenting" blog, Dad and Buried. He also writes for something called Huffington Post, whatever the hell that is. He's a long-time Dolphins fan for some reason.  

      God, NFL Kickers Suck Now

      By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone Contributor After Week 4 of the NFL season, one thing sticks out like a thorn: Kickers are bad. Kickers are really bad. Sure, the NFL made the extra point harder by moving it to the 15-yard line, but is that really an excuse for missing so many field goals?? The extra point has already been missed more times this year than all of last season*! Josh Scobee, who missed two critical field goals last Thursday in the OT loss to the Ravens, was promptly cut the next day. The kicking game is so bad after Sunday that a number of teams are calling Scobee in for a try out (he is injured and will need a few weeks to heal). Teams are willing to bring in Scobee, who is injured and missed two kicks last week. That has to be a blow to the egos of all these kickers missing left and right (pun intended). There might only be five good kickers remaining in the NFL. By good, we mean when they line up for a kick, they have an 85 percent chance of making it. It’s gotten that bad. The Saints kicker missed a potential game-winning kick at the end of the fourth quarter. Josh Lambo of the Chargers missed an easy field goal with no time remaining in a tie game. Lucky for him, Cleveland did a Cleveland thing and was offside. He made the game winning kick following that. (That guy in Jacksonville missed a bunch, too, but it's Jacksonville so who cares besides Gus Bradley? You know, GUS BRADLEY? He's the Jaguars coach. Gus. Bradley. Nothing? You need to read more.) Nobody for sure knows why kickers are struggling so much. Yes it is a lot of pressure to make a kick, but these guys are professionals. If you have a knack for kicking something, call an NFL team and see if you can try out. About half the league is looking for kickers. Don’t worry if you don’t make it or get cut, another team will be looking for you. *Including two by now-former Bucs kicker Kyle Brindza, who was released even as we wrote this post.

      Only Time and Touches Can Stop Fournette (We Already Know EMU Can't)

      Week five of the college football season is shaping up to be the best so far. There are so many marquee matchups. More on that below, because one game stands head and shoulders above ANYTHING the rest of the country can conjure. Eastern Michigan at Louisiana State University. Wait. What? Let us explain: Earlier this week, Herschel Walker said that he thinks Leonard Fournette is a better running back in college than he was. Walker is regarded as one of the top college players of all time, and a winner of the Heisman trophy. For him to say Fournette is better makes us think HARD about it. And you know what? Walker might have a point.

        Fournette is averaging over 200 yards a game so far. He is so good, he has many people saying he should sit out next year to not hurt his draft stock *cough cough Marcus Lattimore*. There are a few worthy candidates for the Heisman this season, including RB Nick Chubb of Georgia, QB Jared Goff of Cal, and any given Ohio State Buckeye skill player. Fournette needs to keep his torrid pace to be the first non QB to win the award since Mark Ingram in 2009. We aren’t talking another 200-yard, 2 TD game here. No. We want to see Fournette go off for 400 yards and 6 TD. Just absolutely demolish that Eastern Michigan defense. Against weaker competition, he needs to be the dean of Ball-So-Hard University. Come Saturday night, we fully expect Fournette to run wild and take even more of strangle hold on the Heisman. Apparently, EMU's defense sucks. Like, really sucks. So, his biggest competition Saturday night could very well be his playing time and touches. Just give him the damn ball, LSU. Just let him do him. Oh, as we mentioned, there are a FEW other things to watch besides Fournette’s assault on the college football history book. Here’s a quick look at the games we’ll be watching: No. 23 West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma: They battle to see who will finish behind TCU and Baylor. No. 1 Ohio State at Indiana: This will be Cardele Jones’s first true road game, and if this was Indiana basketball, he might have to worry. IU football? Not so much. Probably. No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 25 Florida: The Rebs bring their championship hopes to Gainesville, where the Gators might have to rely on another fourth-quarter meltdown in order to win. No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia: This will be the first time Bama is an underdog (+1.5) in five years. Let the panic ensue! No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 12 Clemson: Hopefully no ND more players get injured before the game or they might have to forfeit. Feeling lucky? Want to prove your prognostication prowess? Play the Smack Apparel weekly picks contest. You could win Smack Apparel t-shirts and bragging rights.    

      Celebrate! (For tomorrow, most of you will lose)

      Is there anything in sports more fleeting than the thrill of a post-clinch celebration in baseball? The players deserve it. That's for damn sure. Baseball season is ridiculously long, ridiculously grueling. It's a lifetime of frustration and heartache and sleepless nights and general bullshittery compacted into a horrible, emotionally draining six-month period. That's how it is for the WINNING teams. So, sure. When you clinch that playoff check, go crazy. Let the beer and champagne flow. This game's fun. Let's have fun out here, OK? It's fun, God dammit. Just understand this: Pretty soon, almost every one of you will be crying into that beer. Or, if not crying, punching the hell out of your locker after you get your asses run out of the playoffs just. Like. That. It's quick, man. One minute, you're on top of the baseball world. Just look at A-Rod in that embedded SportsCenter tweet up there. Doesn't he look happy? Doesn't he look cold? Well, pretty soon, chances are he and his Yankees teammates will not be happy. And they won't be cold, because they'll be on vacation on some beach somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean. Or Hawaii. Vegas, maybe. Wherever. Where they won't be is in the World Series, probably. Because that? That is hard. Only one team will get to throw that party in early November or late October or Christmas, or whenever the hell the World Series ends these days. That's next week's bad news, though. Today is for the happy. Let's give these guys room to celebrate, if only for a little while. Here, then, is a compendium of post-clinch celebrations so far. We still have two more coming, because someone is going to win the AL West, and someone is going to clinch the second AL wildcard. Here's what we've got going into the weekend, though. It will have to suffice for most of them. Who do you think did it best this year? Mets, NL East: Michael Conforto's celebration POV is epic on Deadspin. Cardinals, NL Central: Just like St. Louis, the Cardinals celebrate NIIIIICE. Dodgers, NL West: L.A. got to rub it into the World Series champions and HATED rivals, the Giants, by clinching and celebrating in San Francisco. Doesn't get much sweeter. Cubs, NL wildcard: With Jake Arrieta pitching against the Pirates in the wildcard play-in game, we get the feeling the Cubs will live to celebrate once more. Pirates, NL wildcard: We are family! (For one more game only. Sorry, Buccos. Two words: Jake. Joe. Two more words: Good. Bye.) Royals, AL Central: Party like it's 1985! Blue Jays, AL East: Good party, eh? Munenori Kawasaki thought so. Yankees, AL wildcard: Yay. We won.