A Nichey Niche Convo

Sometimes the Mystery Doctor and the Wildcard talk to each other...

Mystery Doc: Chief Wildcard, hope you're week has been as glorious as a New England Patriot's week. We've kind of covered the Super Bowl and most of the associated angles, but I was meaning to ask about Tom Brady's future. He's still got a future throwing the ball in the NFL right?

Wildcard: Oh, heeeell yes. Not that he needs to, his legacy is set now, he's laid to rest the demons of his last two Super Bowl appearances, he is a champion once more. But the fella's only 37, he just won SB49 MVP. The last sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback to hang up his shoulder pads for good was Brett Favre and he lasted into his 40s having come out of retirement a couple times before then (he said the other day he regrets retiring the first time and that he hopes Peyton Manning retires now - since Peyton's hauling in all his records). And they asked Tom Brady at what point he'd wanna give it up, this was at the start of the season, and he summed it up nice and succinctly: "I'll retire when I suck". Perfect strategy. Safe to say he doesn't suck yet.

MD: So you're telling me that one of the best jobs in the world is still a back up quarterback role with the New England Patriots? I've got a decent arm and a trunk full of peptides so I reckon I'll go alright. Having you been paying much attention to the Sevens?

W: Mate, is it ever! Jimmy Garropolo now has the same number of championship rings as Peyton Manning. His entire professional life consists right now of watching one of the best of all time do his thing, helping him out where he can and praying to whichever deity will listen that Brady doesn't get hurt. Yeah, I have watched a fair bit, actually. Mostly because it's on free to air telly, so it makes for good background viewing while Mourinho's Notebook gets filled. Although I did accidentally find myself watching network sports news for a bit there, which included a middle aged white reporter covering Snoop Dogg and son (with a cringingly placed 'ain't no fun if the homies can't have none' quotation). But the Sevens themselves have been good. Typical, dependable action. They had a thing in the paper the other morning about it lamenting the crowd sizes and I started to wonder: how much is this all just a rotating wheel of effect? Every year the major focus is on crowd behaviour, arrests rates and public drunkenness. So fewer people go, which leads to stories about the same thing plus bad ticket sales. So fewer people go. Which means they can talk about fewer people going. Which puts people off even more. Then we get the annual 'crowd trouble at the sevens' report, and fewer people will go next year. It's hardly worth the trouble anymore, if you go you're pretty much being told that you're a social menace, so self-fulfilling prophecies commence.

MD: I reckon I'll give ol' Jimmy a run for his money! That would be a pretty crazy situation, having to fill Brady's boots considering he's the mantis for the Pat's. Yeah it feels like the whole 'no one cares about the on-field action' stance is actually fed down to us from the mainstream media, instead of celebrating the razzle dazzle, the underdogs or just seven-a-side rugby. It was kind of morphed in to a circus, if you give plenty of attention to what's happening in the stands, which is exactly what has happened with the host heading out, looking for some silly buggers to make for entertaining telly, then that's what you're going to get. Why do we need to see how much fun people are having when we're watching at home? That's part of the live atmosphere, not the atmosphere in my lounge.

And then they go and highlight the negatives of the exact situation they were promoting, which is odd and is why the Sevens needs to somehow step u. All the attention will now be on the Nines - "there were 850 arrests this year, 3 arrests more than last year" which is obviously important information.

W: Yep, it really feels sometimes like certain mainstream media stir things up just for a story, knowing that it means they'll also get another story after the fact too. When it comes to groups of people, they're really easy. They'll act the way they're expected to act. There's a journalistic responsibility getting lost in there somewhere. I totally agree about the atmosphere in the lounge too, a little less focus on that side of things on the telly side of things makes the live event more special for those that actually go. I wonder if they went for the old-fashioned local blackout strategy, would more people then go if they couldn't see it on telly? Nah, doubt it. Nobody goes for the sport anyway which is the big problem with it. And we all know what cameramen are like when there's cleavage on show. Pretty sure that's a job you can't get without at least a couple prior restraining orders. Or maybe it's just a job that more appeals to those forced to do their lecherous admiring from afar. Hey, so I was watching some NBA the other day, my Maverick lads were on against Golden State, up by 20-odd in the first quarter... next thing Steph Curry's nailing down triples like Bob the Builder. It's hard to truly appreciate a great player until he's wrung you out to dry personally. Curry for MVP.

MD: I don't mind the crowd shots late on the Saturday night when everyone's up and dancing, just having a good old time but we don't need to see how much fun people are having all the time. Especially when you're just going to point out how drunk everyone was afterwards. I guess the key question here is - do you think the two events can co-exist? I certainly think so, it will just take some getting used to as well as the death of the fun police. Fuck 'em.

LeBron James is still the top dog in the NBA, but that second tier, ya know that Carmelo Anthony territory is pretty interesting now. Curry, who are you taking if you had to take either Curry or Anthony Davis?

W: The Nines and Sevens co-existing? Sure. But maybe spread 'em out a lil more, since it's obvious that the Nines has impeded on the Sevens. Especially from the Auckland travellers. It's not like other Wellington events get better crowds, just look at the Phoenix. Having a great season, can still barely squeak 10k to a home game. There just isn't the population outside of Auckland where people can give a damn about crowd sizes yet apparently that's all we care about. Ooh, I think Kevin Durant deserves level-pegging with LeBron by now. I liked his response to people (like myself) complaining about his All Star inclusion (when he hasn't even played half his team's games). He said if anyone disputes it, they can play him one-on-one for it. Not sure he understands what the All Star game is about, but I love the defiant energy. There's a competitor for ya. Curry or Davis, that's a brutal choice. But I have to go with The Brow, to be honest. Not in the least because I'm still harboring some unresolved bitterness over how sweet that freakin' jump shot is when he flips it in so casually from a full metre behind the arc. There's a really particular feeling that comes from witnessing immense beauty yet being stuck on the other side of it. Suffering at the hands of what is clearly a force of good. It's presumably what super villains feel like, and that's weird. Not that Anthony Davis needs justification. He's third in the MVP race, I think, behind Curry and James Harden. Lad's only 21, and while we've all seen what those long arms can do around the rim and on defence, he's added a killer mid-range game too. Plus there's more than a little Tim Duncan about him, which is probably the ultimate compliment, If only the Pelicans were better...

MD: Yeah that's interesting Wildcard, because a lot of the Sevens crowd came from Aucklanders looking for an escape. Now that escape doesn't include venturing down to the capital, they can just hit up their mates house and stroll down the road. It's hard to see either event taking a different spot in the calender and as long as their a week apart, it's nearly impossible to see them both being 9 or 10/10 events in terms of atmosphere. Punters simply don't have the dosh.

Yo KD, 1 outs g.

I like Davis as well, the dude is just that freak, with the polish ya know and I love me some polish.

Oi oi oi, did you see that Trent Merrin isn't too happy at the Dragons? Like it's apparently almost official that he's definitely kind of keen to move on, which leave the Warriors in a bloody good spot. I wrote that maybe investing in K dot Foran might not be the best use of money, but for mine Merrin certainly is. However, it will be interesting to see how things play out because if other teams come calling, as they have done with Foran, the price might slide up in to that completely unreasonable area. Especially when you've just re-signed Benny Mats.

W: Trent Merrin's the best in the game at what he does. If I have to lose the guy, I'd like him to become a Warrior, that would at least lessen the blow slightly. If he ends up a Rooster or Bulldog then I'm burning effigies in the streets. I really hope they find a way to keep him but it's getting less and less likely. I hate it. I hate the whole thing, not just this example but player movement in the NRL in general. If you sign a player, you should get that player. He shouldn't then play another season for his old team, what an absolute tease for both fans, especially the guys forced to cheer on a player who's already bailed on the collective campaign. Beyond unfair. Re-signing Matulino though, thass good bizzniss. I heard he toured the Dragons facilities too, nearly had us a swapsies deal in the works.

MD: Oh Wildcard, bless your soul, don't start the NRL player market shambles discussion please. Re-signing Matulino, some would say that Matulino hasn't really blossomed in to the top NRL prop that he could definitely be. This did make me slightly confused as I kind of thought that re-signing Matulino would mean that maybe the Warriors had heard that Fozza wasn't keen, but then word came out about Merrin being a keen bean. I feel like the Warriors have some dead weight at the moment in the forwards that they could let go to make way for Merrin, but that included Matulino as well as Sam Rapira. It's confusing, I mean best case scenario is that all the players the Warriors currently have all step up and have a career best season, then there's no need to sign anyone.

W: I dunno, I think that Matulino is right up there in the prop stakes, if in an undercover way. It does suggest that a chunk mighta been taken out of the future salary fund, especially with a three-way bidding war for Matulino supposedly overcome (Panthers being the others). But I reckon all this 'grass is greener' transfer talk is a real smokey issue. Foran might come to NZ, Merrin might be keen, Matai wants out of Manly... it's all smoke and mirrors, we don't know. And the fact is that the Warriors have their best looking squad in years. Sure, they'd be better with Kieran Foran, but they're not too shabby now. It's all hope and excuses from fans sick of how static they've been recently. A quick start to the season and people will get their priorities straight.

MD: I mean, Matulino's better than Rapira and Matagi, but for the Warriors to really do something crazy this year they need these lads to really step up. I'll let you go and do ya Wildcard thing after this, how about Bill Tuiloma getting a run for Marseille! It looks like Bill was used to tighten up the midfield as Marseille were fighting to maintain a 1-1 scoreline with 10 men on the field, which they did.

W: Yeah, massive news for Bill Tuiloma! I saw they were down to 10 men, too, because a guy punched an opponent in the nuts. The French, eh Doc? Marseille are actually second placed in Ligue Un (pronounced with typically Gallic flair) - they're a Champions League quality side. He's been on the bench a few times for the top team before this, so it's awesome to see him make his senior debut. So cool for that guy.

MD: It's not official unless you make an effort to sound French, even in text. Both he and Ryan Thomas are emerging as our low key best footballin' exports huh? They definitely don't need peptides, but I think I might take my slanging business overseas. I'll catch ya on the flipside DubCizzle.

W: Sure thing matey. Don't sleep on the chances of a Marco Rojas resurgence in Switzerland either, just sayin'. It's a possibility. Anyway, good talk. Let's do it again some time, Doc