Let me start by thanking our good friend John, from 200 Miles From the Citi, for sitting in for me last week on SI review duty. He did an excellent (and grammatically pristine) job.
I was at a wedding in New Jersey. Congratulations to the newly minted Mr. and Mrs. Allan. And a special hello goes out to Charlie, the guy in the bathroom who noticed my tuxedo and assumed I was the father of the groom.
Now, I understand that I look a bit older than I really am. It’s something I have gotten used to over the years (going bald at 16 certainly helped.)Â I’m 31 years old. Feel free to mistake me for 35 or 38 or even early 40’s. I won’t like it, but it’s an honest and understandable misinterpretation.Â But, for god’s sake,Â I do not look like I’m 60 and I do not look old enough to have a 31 year old son.
That being said, I found a couple of grey chest hairs this morning.
This week’s Sports Illustrated is full of people who might be able to relate to my experience. Whether because of family, injury or bloody African civil war, they’ve all been forced to deal with issues usually reserved for people deeper into life.
This week’s SI player poll asked Major Leaguers which current player they would build a team around for the next ten years. Joe Mauer is number one, and guys like Pujols, Lincecum and Longoria also got some votes. But number 2 on the list, getting 17% of the vote, was Hanley Ramirez. Statistically speaking, that makes plenty of sense. Ramirez won the batting title last year and he possesses a combination of power and speed that’s truly rare in the game. Unfortunately, he’s also something of a jackass, as evidenced by his behavior earlier this week. It’s an odd coincidence that this poll would be on newsstands while this play was taking place.
The Beautiful Game by Grant Wahl
I’ve stated before that I am not a soccer fan.Â I simply don’t enjoy it. That being said, if you were to try to convince me to watch World Cup, you could do worse than show me this article. (Was that English? John, I need a ruling.) Didier Dogba, of Ivory Coast, is exactly the type of athlete that appeals to non-fans. He’s a fascinating guy who has used his fame and popularity to not only aid his charitable efforts, but to help stymie a civil war. Now, obviously, this article probably overstates his role in easing the conflict, but any athlete who’s willing to put himself out there in a situation like that is certainly worth rooting for.
His Time is Now by Lee Jenkins
This entire article seems to be based on a false premise. Grant Hill was once a very good NBA player bordering on greatness. Then he got hurt. He worked his way back and is now succeeding as a key role player on a top level team. But he was never a transcendent figure. His popularity was fleeting at best. So, his fall from grace, while disappointing for NBA fans, did not have the major impact that Jenkins seems to be portraying.
Anarchy in the East by Michael Farber
Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always considered riots to be a bad thing. But, to read Michael Farber’s account of the chaos which overtook the streets of Montreal following the Candiens game 7 win over Pittsburgh, you would think riots are fantastic and hilarious.Â Its a shocking lack of perspective from a writer I like very much.Â On the other hand, if Jaroslav Halak is able to parlay his playoff success into a solid career, Dr. Stop is one of the greatest nicknames of all time.
Nolan Ryan’s Crusade by Albert Chen
Nolan Ryan thinks you’re a faggot.Â He doesn’t know you and he’s never spoken to you, but if you’re under the age of 40, I assure you, he thinks you’re a faggot.Â Welcome to the latest addition ofÂ “Back in my day..”
Also, Mike Maddux looks like Frank Zappa
Anyway,Â talk to me in five years when Scott Feldman and Neftali Feliz are throwing 82 miles per hour in some random Mexican League game because the geniuses who run the Rangers decided to let them throw 200 innings before they were ready.
The New Adventures of Old Justine by S.L. Price
I’m not really sure what I just read.Â There doesn’t seem to be much of a character arc to Justine Henin. She started as a raw talent with a bit of an attitude problem, then realized there’s more to life than tennis. So she quit, experienced the world, reconciled with her family, and decided to come back. Now she’s a less raw talent who still seems to have a bit of an attitude problem. Kim Clijsters seems like a far more interesting character. S.L. Price should write about her instead.
Phil Taylor seems to be intimating that fans owe Barry Zito an apology for booing him over the last several years. He’s finally pitching well, after signing the largest pitching contract in history then failing to perform for several years.Â The fans do not owe him an apology. I once again weep over the absence of Chris Ballard from the back page of this magazine.