Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm sorry I haven't updated this space as often as I probably should have in the last few weeks. This week has been crazy. I had to do some travelling and some drinking not entirely unrelated to said travelling. Plus I've been a bit depressed, what with the Celtics getting entirely too close to lucking their way to a title for their loathsome management team and with Jon Lester's no-hitter being treated as though it were an event on par with Neil Armstrong "walking" on the Moon.

Perhaps I am indeed as horrible a human being as I am told (quite frequently, in fact), but I find myself curiously unmoved by Lester's triumph. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I am pro cancer, even though I don't wear a Lance Armstrong bracelet and I had the temerity to suggest that one could possibly accomplish more by simply donating to research facilities directly than to purchase overpriced merchandise from some trumped-up Live Pink campaign. Or maybe I am right and all of you are wrong.

Before we get all teary eyed and mushy over what happened earlier this week, let's all take a nice deep breath and remember that the Kansas City Royals are still perennial doormats in the American League. It's not as though Ruth, Gehrig and the rest of the 1927 Yankees suddenly came back in some sort of less pretentious and sanctimonious Field of Dreams moment. No-hitting any team is a nice accomplishment, something that really classes up a CV, but it's not as though he single-handedly brought peace to the Middle East, or a consistent viewpoint on Iran to the minions of a certain Midwestern junior Senator.

It's not as though I am somehow less sentimental than the average fan or the average person. Nor am I evil. It's just that I want a few days, a short moratorium on a story being overblown and beaten to death thirteen seconds after it happened. Like when ESPN cut away from its regularly scheduled programming for 3 hours because the New York Yankees fifth starter was tragically killed in a small plane crash. That is what turns me off sports, that and the fact that the average New England sports fan consistently decides to pass on their inferior genetic material to another generation, as though we needed more morons in this country.

Unfortunately, it hasn't just been my relentlessly negative take on the Red Sox that has suffered in my recent silence. There are a few stories that really needed my complaints that have passed unnoticed lately. Thanks to the New York Knicks missing the playoffs again, Spike Lee was free to go to Cannes and shoot his mouth off about Clint Eastwood and his World War Two films which didn't include African Americans.

First, there were 900 or so African Americans among 35,000 Marines who fought at Iwo Jima. Second, and perhaps more importantly, there were exactly zero African Americans among the Marines who raised the flag on Mount Sirubachi. Flags of Our Fathers was about the raising of the flag and the bond tour that followed it much more than it was about the battle itself.

So by my calculations, there were a good 34,700 Marines who fought bravely on that God forsaken island but didn't manage to have their stories told by Clint Eastwood. This wasn't a racist decision, it was simply a question of whether the movie should be 2 hours long or the movie should be 2 years long. And as for the Japanese version of the story, Letters from Iwo Jima, it told the story from the enemy's point of view, so what's the big deal? The bottom line of this whole mess is that Spike Lee really ought to shut his yapper and make a half decent movie for a change.

Two other items that I want to mention are a recent release concerning the drug from Pfizer that helps people quit smoking. Among its side effects are depression and suicide. While that sounds scary as hell, at least you can't keep smoking if you've killed yourself. Who supervises the FDA now? Is there any way to get a drug on the market that doesn't have horrific side effects? When your means to quit smoking can trigger a suicide attempt, you just might want to revisit your faith in medical science.

And recently, a panel of astrologers convened to predict a victory for Senator Obama. Over 1,500 devotees from 44 countries worked on this effort. Seems a bit like the 1,000 monkeys at 1,000 typewriters producing Shakespeare (which still seems more plausible than Roger Bacon). I wonder if all of these devotees from all of the nations saw what they saw in the stars or what they wanted to see. But I guess I'm skeptical like that...

And finally tonight, the hopes of Celtic fans everywhere took a serious hit when the Green Machine allowed a visiting team to push them around in their own house for the first time this postseason. I don't want to hear a lot of whining about how bad the calls were. Terrible officiating in crucial basketball games is one more of the rites of spring we just have to accept. It might be nice if the league held a seminar for its officials and reintroduced them to the rules of basketball, but miracles no longer happen.

The bottom line is the Celtics are a flawed team with a terrible coach. The best weapon they have in this series is Flip Saunders, who is, in his own way, as bad a coach as Rivers. I don't know what made less sense, leaving Allen in to pick up his fifth foul with over 14 minutes of basketball to be played or not challenging Allen, who is a shaky on-ball defender when he was lighting it up in the fourth quarter all the while playing on the verge of fouling out. Maybe Saunders was waiting for Allen to score 15 or 18 points in the quarter before he got his players to challenge him. Maybe he didn't want to end the fearful symmetry of the Celtics yo-yoing home wins with road losses. Who knows?

It's almost sad to see how useless Rondo is on the offensive end. He might as well just start chucking shots up even if they have no shot of going. He's a turnover waiting to happen the way he forces bad passes and compounds the degree of difficulty by attempting said bad passes in a manner that would be all but impossible for a much better point guard like Deron Williams or Chris Paul. This leads to him committing dumb fouls on the defensive end because he's overeager and frustrated.

In the long run, Eddie House isn't really the answer either. One can't win a playoff series substituting offense for defense at the point guard spot all game long. Nor will Rondo ever truly be an effective player if he can be taken out of the game so easily by simply ignoring him. If Rondo can't make shots, this team will not beat the Pistons in a seven game series. It's just not happening. But I'm not too worried about that.

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