Posts of the Week
Each week, we will highlight a few entertaining and/or informative posts from the previous week. Please keep in mind that it is hard to keep track/prioritize all posts so we would welcome input from all Booties. You can make a "Bootie Selection" post as a response to any post that you deem worthy or you can email a link (to the nominated post) to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are the posts that made this week's list:
Subject: Another note regarding LW's post of the week
Like Hulk, I disagree with LW's assertion that Stanford fans
are more prone than others to bring up moral/ethical issues. Hulk
mentioned the ongoing battle for the moral high ground on some
other schools' message boards. The same thing happens over on the
Cal board. In my opinion, there's a difference in the attitudes
of Stanford supporters and Cal supporters. I previously posted
some thoughts on this. Here's an edited version. . . .
It seems to me that Stanford supporters usually make claims of superiority over Cal based on facts: 7 straight Big Game wins, 9 consecutive basketball wins over Cal, 7 Sears Cups in a row, etc. Some Cal supporters, on the other hand, make a different claim of superiority on behalf of their school. They seem to suggest Cal is better than Stanford because Cal students and alumni are better people than their Stanford counterparts. For example, Cal fans often assert that Stanford students have everything given to them, while Cal students earn their achievements. They describe Stanford people as arrogant and elitist, while they view themselves as open and accepting (an opinion that Fresno St. fans might not share). They often mischaracterize Stanford people as the wealthy, privileged upper class, while they see themselves as the humble, virtuous working class. They see Stanford people as wealthy and successful, enjoying the upper hand at the moment, but at the core, morally corrupt -- sort of an evil empire. In contrast, they describe themselves as a diverse community, joined by a common bond, struggling against setbacks with persistence and determination -- underdogs fighting the good fight. In other words, we're Darth Vader and they're Luke Skywalker. They seem to see the rivalry as a Frank Capra movie -- the evil, rich, powerful machine against the good, decent, courageous individual. We're Mr. Potter, and they're George Bailey.
Because of this conviction of their moral superiority, some Cal supporters see Stanford's success as not just unfortunate, but unjust. In a just world, they think, Cal would prevail, because Cal has a righteous cause. That's why many Cal fans just cannot admit that Stanford's success is earned on the field and in the classroom. Rather, they argue that Stanford does not deserve its success and they try to explain it away, the most common theory being that Stanford bought it. That may be one reason that things sometimes turn ugly when Cal loses: some Cal fans see a loss as not just a loss, but an injustice. That's a recipe for resentment.
The notion of moral superiority is ridiculous, of course. Consider that many students apply to both Stanford and Cal. Does a person who applies to both schools become "good" if he ends up at Cal and "bad" if he ends up at Stanford? Do the admissions offices base their decisions on the moral character of the applicants -- like the Sorting Hat, with Cal as Gryffindor and Stanford as Slytherin? I don't think so. . . .
I certainly don't think all Cal fans hold these views. However, just reading the cold words on the screen on the two schools' message boards, I think the themes I've described come through. . . .
Subject: Re: Q for tommy4 (long)
ME-97 - Thanks for the question about Azevedo and I'll give a
shot at an answer. He's received so many accolades that it is
hard to condense what he represents to water polo and Stanford in
My first statement to Stanford fans would be that if you were ever struggling for a reason to go to a water polo game, you now have one. He really is a "once-in-a-generation talent." I graduated in 94 and played for the 93 championship team, and two runners-up before that, with the chance to play with and against some of our recent and current Olympians. Tony is incredible on any scale. There are other players who've had as good a year as he has statistically and what not, but never as freshmen.
His father was the Jr. National Team coach back in my day, and at the workouts you would see young Tony flipping around a ball at the end of the pool at age 8, and looking good doing it. His father is one of the best shooting coaches in the country and Tony's offensive play reflects that. He can create shot opportunities from anywhere and has many different release points from which to hose it. His strength and balance are the key. Imagine if Casey Jacobsen were being smothered at the 3pt line but was able to leap over his defender and send in a finger roll from 19'9". That's the type of stuff Tony can do. He's the most dangerous shooter in the country and one of the best in the world which he proved before ever playing a game at Stanford, starring in one Olympic Games and one World Championship tournament. World Water Polo Magazine has named him the best young player in the world, and first team All-World. He could surpass the great Manuel Estiarte of Spain (leading scorer in 4 of 6 Olympics, and only 6' tall) by the time he is done, and in the world of H20 Polo that is big.
Dante has often dropped that he's the "Michael Jordan" of water polo, and has actually defended that statement pretty well. To go with his shooting Tony is fiercely competitive, is active away from the ball and always trying to make something happen. He can also score from anywhere, which is like being a hoops star that can run the point and also post up - maybe Magic instead of Michael? Opponents have to structure their defensive game plan around stopping him which opens things up for his teammates. If you are watching him and waiting for one of these shots I'm talking about and frustrated that he's not getting the opportunity, just pay attention to how close to the goal (3-5 meters) his teammates will be with their shots, while a defender is pressing Tony 7 or 8 meters from the goal. That's huge for us...it's like if basketball defenses doubled Casey or Josh and left Curtis alone underneath the basket.
When you watch him move in the water he has much more control of his body and what he wants to do than anyone else. His positioning and passing are superior to most others as well. He was able to make entry passes to Peter Hudnut at 2meters this year, that few others could have threaded in. This is like a point guard feeding the post player a sweet pass that leads to a scoring chance, despite a double-team.
His will to win and succeed is unmatched. The closest comparison to that I've seen is in my former teammate, and Tony's Olympic pal, Wolf Wigo. (I would also say that Wolf was the best high school prodigy to come to Stanford before Tony). It's no small wonder that Wolf worked as an assistant to Dante and Ben this year. The Card played his style of ball. Remember stories you would hear about Jordan spanking everyone in pool at his house? These guys have the same drive. You also can't discount Tony's presence in the huddle and as the first freshman to ever be team captain on the farm (and that's a rich history of good players). I went to as many games as possible this year and you never saw the team get rattled, even in the loss to Cal. That's a credit to Tony's attitude as much as to the experience and depth of the team. I'm sure he was even a calming presence for the coaches, who sometimes get excited.
I see that I'm blowing past my self-imposed word limit and will wrap this up.
In terms of basketball he is Magic Johnson, with his ability to dominate in all areas of the pool, but with the ferocity and attitude of MJ.
In football - he's like the new breed of quarterback that can run and throw equally well and can kill the defense with foot or arm - Vick, McNabb - but with the maturity and composure of Joe Montana.
He will change the way that people play the game, and I've seen that already as the high school players that I help coach already try to emulate him.
Barring serious injury he should have a long, prosperous athletic career and will hopefully bring new attention to water polo outside of the CA "power-base."
He should rank up there with all the other great Stanford/Olympic athletes. What I'm curious to see is if he can do some unprecedented things like lead the team to four titles in a row.
And finally, like in any sport, there is no way he could do it by himself.
Nick Ellis is one of the best goalies in Stanford history. His quickness and passing are amazing, and I hope he comes back to play as a 5th year senior. He constantly outplayed the UCLA goalie, who is the National team back up, in every match and tournament this year.
Peter Hudnut is a strong and versatile 2meter man, and would have swept the headlines if not for Tony this year.
Jeff Nesmith is probably the best lefty in college (also Tony's hs. teammate) and I can't tell you how important it is to have a great lefty. It opens up both sides of the pool on offense. I don't think any Stanford title team has been without one.
Onno Koelman was a great crowd favorite as the only guy under 6' and the most active player in the pool. You gotta love Aussies in general, especially those that show up for the big games and play with intelligence as well as emotion.
Congrats to all the guys. Soak it in for the next few weeks, and you know the countdown for 2002 will start with the first plunge into the pool in January.