Category Archives: Sports

The Gift Basket Contents of Major Leaguers, Past and Present

Yankees star Derek Jeter, one of New York’s most eligible hunks since his split with longtime gal pal Minka Kelly, is bedding a bevy of beauties in his Trump World Towerbachelor pad — and then coldly sending them home alone with gift baskets of autographed memorabilia.

The Yankees captain’s wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am kiss-offs came to light when he mistakenly pulled the stunt twice on the same woman — forgetting she had been an earlier conquest, a pal told The Post. – NY Post, 12/13/11

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: small picnic basket filled with plush centaurs

STEVE GARVEY: a bad check and a lecture on fiscal responsibility

JOHN KRUK: three jars of his own homemade pomade/gravy

DAVID WELLS: A case of Natty Lite, a convenience store display of Slim Jims, and a gift card to Bass Pro Shops

CJ WILSON: Youth of Today compilation, large bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap

DARREN DAULTON: step-by-step instructions on how to see into the secret, alien 7th dimension

JEFF KENT: a bag of Hall’s cough drops that happened to be left in the front seat of his car

OLD HOSS RADBOURN: tincture of laudanum, bone chilling stare on your way out of the hotel room

CURT SCHILLING: two-months of free gametime on World of Warcraft

JAMIE MOYER: hand-whittled doorstops–lady’s choice of duck or bear

ROGER MCDOWELL: can of “peanut brittle,” trick gum, pair of Bill Robinson’s cleats charred in successful hotfoot attempt

LUKE SCOTT: detailed manifesto on how the Illuminati and the Swiss bankers’ cabal are keeping evidence of Obama’s Indonesian citizenship from the American public

MANNY RAMIREZ: five pairs of tent-sized pants, several women’s hormone supplements

MIKE PIAZZA: Rush Limbaugh book-on-tape set, complete Cannibal Corpse discography

BABE RUTH: syphilis

Words Fail

There was something that bugged me about coverage of the Penn State horror thus far, other than the nauseating, rage-inducing details, of course. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I read David Roth’s post at The Classical about the whole dismal thing. This line, in particular, stuck with me:

Further down the line there will be assessments of how the fallout from “the scandal” – the same word used to describe Ohio State players swapping jerseys for tattoos is already being used to describe the horrors Sandusky is alleged to have forced upon needy kids for a decade and a half – will impact Penn State’s program.

This helped me realize that it’s this use of the word scandal that so bothered me. It is a word that is grossly inadequate to describing what happened. The fact that so many people covering the case use it anyway it is indicative of what the news has become, and how ill equipped it is to deal with a story like this.

The word scandal is the first one out of the toolbox because that is what powers The News: salacious coverage of sexual misconduct, be it by a celebrity or a Congressman. It is the one thing that can still guarantee people will tune in/read. A few days ago, I actually heard a local radio station refer to the Penn State story as a “sex scandal” (!), which is so off the mark it’s not even in the same continent as its target.

In the same way that “controversy” = “any topic on which people can disagree,” “scandal” = “something juicy.” It is the same lazy impulse that, for the last 30+ years, has named any government misdeed “_____Gate,” thus lowering one of the most egregious and vile abuses of presidential power in our nation’s history to the same level as parking ticket payoffs and other petty offenses. That’s why you will hear people routinely say, “Nixon just got caught.” Which is true, except we no longer have the perspective to realize the true evil of what he was caught doing.

The biggest problem with using the word scandal is that, as Roth points out, it equates what happened at Penn State with the piddling violations that the NCAA arbitrarily punishes from time to time to keep up its cheap facade of amateurism (a sham that applies solely to its uncompensated players, not to any of the coaches or schools and certainly not to the NCAA itself). It should be obvious to any rational human being that Sandusky’s crimes far exceed any “wrongdoing” that, for instance, Reggie Bush committed years ago while at USC. But by using the word scandal, you’re essentially saying these two things are equal.

I believe this is why we saw morons “rallying” for Joe Paterno last night. They don’t believe he is someone who, at best, did the absolute legal minimum in a situation that called for far more. They see him as a victim, someone who needs support to get through this tough time. And I can’t help but feel that using the catch-all word scandal for this monstrosity is partly responsible for such hamfisted, misguided reactions. If only people had rallied on behalf of abused children. If only Paterno had.

Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky is a scandal. Herman Cain getting grabby is a scandal. John Edwards cheating on his dying wife is scandal. Congressmen frequenting male prostitutes is a scandal. Penn State is something else altogether. Calling it a scandal says you regard it in the same light as those other things. Something to snicker at. Late night joke fodder. And all because someone in a newsroom can’t be bothered to use a more appropriate word.

You may not think this is important, but it is, vitally so. Language still means something. The words we choose mean something. That may not seem true in the age of texting and Internet shorthand, but it really is. The absolute bare minimum that can be done for the victims of Penn State–and Lord knows precious little else has been done on their behalf–is to discuss what happened to them with a proper vocabulary, not with the impoverished thesaurus of the 24-hour news cycle.

For-Real Interviews: Craig Robinson

In America, baseball is, sadly, often seen as the brussels sprouts of sports: something that must be consumed because it’s good for you. Many people view the sport as obligation rather than entertainment, something you are required to take your kids to during the summer because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Those who wax poetic about the game’s virtues can sound a bit like enthusiasts of quaint hobbies, like scrimshaw or silhouetting. The game is so fraught history and tradition and baggage that it seems impossible to say anything new about it.

Or maybe it just someone with a fresh perspective to say them. Enter Craig Robinson, an English illustrator whose love affair with the game was kindled by a trip to Yankee Stadium while in New York on business back in 2005. Not long after that, as his baseball fandom grew, he began to ponder questions that may not have occurred to someone who grew up with the game. Like, what is the actual monetary value of all the bases “stolen” during a major league season? Or how would A-Rod’s salary look if dispensed in pennies and stacked on top of one another? Or how long did it take to assemble, then disassemble, the 1986 Mets? Or what would the box score look like in a playoff game between the Wu Tang Clan and the E Street Band?

Robinson decided to answer these questions and many more at his site, Flip Flop Fly Ball, in gorgeously streamlined infographics. They are elegantly simple, packing enormous amounts of information into their space while not appearing remotely cluttered. They are works of art that beg to be seen write large, and that’s just what’s happened with the release of Flip Flop Fly Ball, a fantastic book that collects some of Robinson’s best work from the site, along with new items and essays on his evolution as an unlikely baseball fan. It is the kind of book that justifies the invention of the coffee table.

The author was kind enough to answer a few of my queries about his path to baseball fandom, the Mexican League, and what he would do with his favorite team. Answers to those questions and more after the jump.

Continue reading For-Real Interviews: Craig Robinson

Do the Fox Sports Robot!

Don’t you guys love Cleatus? You know, Cleatus, Fox NLF Sunday’s lovable robot mascot? Whatta ya mean you didn’t know he had a name? He was named by the winner of a fan contest four years ago, you philistines! There are a lot of robots out there–R2D2, VICI, Mitt Romney–but only one of them wears a football helmet and does things that vaguely resemble Ray Lewis after he’s knocked someone’s head off. I think we can all agree that’s pretty cool, you guys.

Haven’t you always wished that you could bring all the air guitarin’, finger pointin’, trash talkin’ fun of Cleatus home with you? No? Too bad. Now you have to. Because there is now a branded Cleatus action figure for 24 NFL teams and every football fan must buy one or face severe repercussions! You can pose him doing the Heisman or the Dougie or any of the many other hilarious antics that have brought this wacky robot into the hearts of millions of Americans.

What’s that? The NFL has 32 teams? You’re right! That means eight of them have a modicum of dignity! See if you can guess which ones opted out. I think you’ll be pleasantly annoyed with how much time you’ve wasted.

I think my favorite feature of this action figure is its list of features as seen here:

“Yeah, it comes with team logo and colors, Fox Sports logo, and choking hazard. We threw that in for free.”

Hat tip to @danielralston for tweeting this to my attention.

Schadenfreuders Unanimous: World Series Game 1

So just before the playoffs started, I announced my intentions to do some recaps of the games and whatnot. Before doing so, I did not remember/calculate exactly how effin’ busy I’d be over those weeks. And so I was forced to not deliver on my promise for the first two rounds. I regret not being able to do this for the LDSes, all of which turned out to be pretty amazing, though I’m a bit relieved I couldn’t make it up in the LCSes, which, apart from a few games, were snooze fests.

Am I excited about this World Series matchup? Not exactly. Or not at all, actually. I’d hoped for a Detroit-Milwaukee series, for reasons that escape me now. Rust versus Cheese! Alas, t’was not to be, and so I have to decide between my generalized dislike for Texas (or maybe just the idea of Texas) and my specific dislike of Tony LaRussa. The Cardinals’ unlikely road to the Fall Classic has more annoyed me than intrigued me, even if they picked off the Phillies along the way, while the Rangers are one of those teams I was once happy to go years without thinking about.

But, since I went through the trouble of announcing this dumb feature and even made a blog category for it and everything, I present to you my in-time observations of this historic game one (in that it is technically part of history). All of the carnage after the jump.

Continue reading Schadenfreuders Unanimous: World Series Game 1