Monday, June 23, 2008

Yeah, I haven't updated in over a week. So I am a bad blogger and a catastrophic failure as a human being. I have come to accept that about myself, which puts me on the path to enlightenment. The next step is to care that I am a bad person, and after that comes the actual process of doing something about my flaws. Of course now that I've done all that heavy-duty self-awareness type stuff, I might have to slow down and rest, lest I have too little energy to continue on the path to enlightenment as I get older.

So the Celtics won it all. Big effing deal. It's nice, I suppose, for the 8 people who stuck with the team through all the lean years. And it must be a great time to be an orthopedic surgeon or an acupuncturist in New England these days. God knows that 99.999999999% of those who defined themselves as Celtic fans as of this winter must have hurt themselves jumping on the bandwagon.

Or perhaps they have sufficient practice in discovering new found ancient allegiances to the local teams over the past several years that they can spring from bandwagon to bandwagon like Batman traversing the rooftops of Gotham City. And let's not kid ourselves, I am old enough to remember that prior to Bill Parcells coming to coach the Pats, games at Foxboro were routinely unavailable on local TV because the team had failed to sell a sufficient number of tickets and the NFL blacked the game out.

And Fenway is as much a place to be seen as it is to see an actual ball game. Can you honestly tell me that there aren't at least 15,000 people in those stands on a given night that haven't given more thought to what they might look like in high def on NESN or to what exact stupid, insipid and cloying effort to get some dap from the Rem Dawg they're going to put on some poster board and hold up like a meathead than they've given to who is pitching for the opponent and when Papelbon will finally join the ranks of the literate?

I'm not really a stranger to jumping on bandwagons, but I like to start early and I like to get in on the ground floor. And I don't have the facility of intellectual dishonesty or simple inability to appreciate irony that one must show to jump on a Boston bandwagon. Because no one here can ever admit that they jumped on the bandwagon.

Boston fans must instead prove that not only have they been fans for their entire lives, but every single last descendant of theirs down through the first to set foot on Ellis Island all the way down to the first homo sapiens in their family tree to hit the European continent in the last Ice Age rooted for every Boston team despite the notable handicap that Boston itself was a millennium or twenty away from being settled.

I've mentioned this before, every Red Sox fan who discovered the team right around the 1998 divisional series with the Indians will tell you that their fathers, grandfathers, greatgrandfathers and the missing link (since Red Sox fans represent a lower order of our species, they can trace themselves back only so far) all were die-hard Sox fans. And yet, somehow, when every American knew it was Ted Williams final game at Fenway (it was so clear that the writer John Updike who grew up in Pennsylvania and lived in New York came to Fenway specifically to see Ted's last game in that lyric little bandbox), only 10,000 and change were on hand to see his final at bat culminate in a home run.

Funny how that works for generations of die hard Red Sox fans. Hell, If Detective John MacLaine of the NYPD held himself to that standard in the film Die Hard, Die Hard's sequels would have revolved around Hans sitting on the beach drinking cocktails and earning 20% on the money he stole from Nakatomi while the feds sifted through the building's wreckage looking for him.

To make a long story short, I hate bandwagon jumpers who try to pass themselves off as legitimate fans. I haven't forgotten that Ainge, while he backed his way into a title thanks to Kevin McHale's turning the Minnesota Timberwolves into a China Syndrome instead of a basketball team, is still the same man who traded one of his best players for magic beans because of a petty, personal argument and, in so doing, turned a playoff team into a shit show. I just can't find it in my heart to be cool with that. Sorry.

That said, the NBA Finals blew. The games were on way too late, as everybody and their brother said. The officiating sucked. I don't know that a single player set a legal screen in the entire series. I could understand when Jordan got away with palming the ball the way he did, I wasn't crazy about it, but he was Jordan. Now the ball is palmed and carried and players take an obscene number of steps and get away with using multiple pivot feet to the point where you wonder why a rule book is even printed any more. But David Stern runs a tight ship, and the league is in great shape.

And in case you haven't heard, the NBA is trying to extract $1.4 million from Tim Donaghy, the ref who admitted to gambling on games he worked. Thanks for the smoke screen, Commissioner Stern. Because it all goes back to that situation, not the fundamental problems with games that start so late and last so long that even unemployed insomniacs start thinking twice about watching them and the fact that the one thing that keeps every fan from being fully convinced that the fix is in is that the officiating is so wildly inconsistent that no one could possibly have rigged it.

In spite of all that, the NBA makes money. I guess it goes to show you, the average American is a complete moron. And they trust these people to elect their own leaders...

In other news, there was a baseball game played tonight, and the Red Sox lost. At least that's the way the outcome stands at the moment. Rumors have it that the league will set aside the outcome, award the victory to the Red Sox and suspend Dan Harren for two months for the heinous offense of making the Red Sox lineup look ridiculous while simultaneously looking like a stunt double for one of the guys from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Alas, the Red Sox are still in first place in the AL East. And there is a large portion of the season left to be played. But there are some encouraging signs. For instance, Papelbon has already blown more saves than he did in all of last year. Good thing for him he has his keen intellect and stunning good looks to fall back on should his arm burn out on him... Too bad he's a total meathead with an IQ that rivals that of a cinderblock and he looks like a lizardman from one of the old cartoons.

And then there is David Aardsma. So he pitched himself out of trouble in the top of the 9th this evening. Awesome. You did your job. But I think the fist pump he gave walking off the mound was a little excessive. First, it's not as though you somehow reversed the rotation of the earth and altered the fact that the D-backs were up a run. And perhaps more importantly, you pitched yourself into the trouble in the first place, letting up a hit and walking a guy (not counting the intentional walk).

Then there was Youke, his freak accident this evening had to be somehow related to his squabble with Manny Ramirez earlier. After all, Ramirez had to have been in the wrong, a veteran of his caliber and with his achievements daring to question Youke, who is the baddest badass on the planet, just ask him and he'll tell you in agonizing detail. I'm just amazed that Manny is still alive. In case you don't know all the real Chuck Norris facts are doubly true for Youkilis.

That said, as much as I think Manny can effect players like Youke and warmup throws from Mike Lowell with the Shining-esque powers of his mind, I have to think Youke got hurt because he's bald. My sources in the medical profession tell me that bald people, and in particular bald men, have tremendous difficulty with idea retention. The ideas simply waft into the ether because there is no hair to hold them in the skull. In extreme cases, it can also impact the portions of the brain that manage common sense, motor coordination and the section that governs the ability not to look like a total dumbass. And that is why Youke took a routine warmup toss off the noggin tonight.

Finally, Varitek got a hit to end his 0-24 slump tonight. Not only that, but it was an extra base hit as well. Unfortunately, his spot in the order came up at the end of the seventh, with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with two outs. Even though Harren looked tired and the game was on the line, Varitek found a way to do what he does best, and the rally died in his arms. And so I dedicate this song to Varitek in memory of the rally he killed tonight and in the hope that he can find the magic to go 0-his next 24 or so ABs.


TheKobraKommander said...

This spring my enthusiasm for the Celtics was not so much a pro-Celtics thing as anti-Lakers thing. I've never liked Bryant and I enjoyed watching him powerless to stop the Lakers' collapse. I'm sick of Phil Jackson and his zen coaching nonsense being held up as the greatest thing in basketball and management strategy. He's not a coaching genius, he's had incredible players in a league devoid of talent. Was it some sort of Koan when he told his players at half-time of game 6 to just go out and keep doing what they were doing, or was he asking them to throw the game?

Obviously Doc Rivers is no coaching mastermind either, and I'm annoyed as anything that he and Ainge had anything to do with Banner 17. It's even more upsetting that Brian Scalabrine will have an NBA championship ring, even if I can take solace in the fact that he didn't play in the Finals.

Don't get me wrong, the kid in me wanted the C's to come back from the dead and thrash the Lakers in an epic finals series, but not like this. I wanted it to be like the old days, but we all know that those guys aren't coming through that door. Basketball isn't played like that anymore anyway.

The fraud that basketball has become makes everything about this feel tainted. Obviously it would have been better for the sponsors if the series had gone to seven games, I'm surprised the NBA didn't find a way to make that happen. Why doesn't the NBA just give up and call in the experts from the WWE to run their league.

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