Presidential Dick Jokes, Bad Puns and a Happy Ending

Justin August 21, 2010 0

…and that’s how the 1960 Presidential election convinced me to start a new fantasy football league.

Let’s start from the beginning and go through this step by step.

In 1961, Theodore White published a book called “The Making of a President: 1960.” In 2010, I read that book. It tracks the campaign from politicians in both parties announcing their candidacy, through the nominating process and ultimately ends with John Kennedy defeating Richard Nixon to win the White House. It also went into some detail about the candidates political pasts. In 1956, Kennedy wanted to run as the party’s Vice Presidential candidate on a ticket with Adlai Stevenson. He was defeated at the convention, though, by a Senator from Tennessee. That man’s name was Estes Kefauver.

“Estes,” I thought excitedly,  “that rhymes with Testes!” And so, I decided that I should name a fantasy football team Testes Kefauver.

But, I already had a good team name for my primary fantasy team (Vat O’Magic… thank you Whitney Cummings,) so I needed to act.

I am in a four person fantasy baseball league with John from 200 Miles From the Citi, past contributor Dave in Brighton and commentor Scott Salley (not his real name.) Because its only 4 of us, we limit our league to the AL and NL East. Well, at some point John emailed the league to say he had no fantasy league this year and wanted to see if we had any openings in our leagues. I saw my opening.

“Let’s do a league of NFC and AFC East with just the four of us.”

And everyone signed on. Why wouldn’t they? They may have thought I was acting for friendship or because I thought limiting the player pool would add an interesting challenge to the usual monotony of fantasy football.

Nope, It was because I wanted to make a cheap dick joke.

Sports Illustrated: August 23,2010.

Chris Johnson, Football, Tennessee Titans

PREGAME

I’ve only been writing these reviews for a few months, but I’ve been constructing them in my head every week for years. And the main reason for that is Steve Rushin.

Along with Rick Reilly, he was the magazines most visible star through most the late 90’s and 2000’s (aughts?) He had a weekly column, penned numerous quirky articles and had a style all his own.

I FUCKING HATED IT!

It was nothing puns and shitty jokes. There was only one column of his I ever enjoyed. It was the one that said goodbye, when Rushin decided to leave Sports Illustrated in 2007.

Now, apparently, he’s back and, this week at least, he’s occupying his old spot at the front of the Scorecard section. But his piece about Rex Ryan and the Jets on Hard Knocks, while far from an original concept, is actually well written and interesting. I like 760 words of it. Unfortunately, the column is 772 words and the last 12 are everything I’ve always hated about this guy’s hacky jokes and pun-heavy writing style.

It’s not The Sopranos, but something happier. It’s Rex and the City.

You just know he decided to write this entire article based solely on the fact that he sat down to watch Hard Knocks on HBO, realized it was the same network that aired Sex and the City and came up with this retarded pun.

THE ARTICLES

Trap Game by Alan Shipnuck

It seems to be common wisdom that Dustin Johnson fell victim to a stupid rule at the PGA Championships last weekend. He didn’t realize the patch of dirt was actually a sand trap and he grounded his club. I’ve seen the issue dissected on ESPN, heard it discussed ad naseum by Mike Francesca and his roster of mensa candidate callers, and now read about it in Sports Illustrated. But one question remains unanswered for me. What does “grounding your club” mean? I’m an occasional golfer and by no means a student of the game. Perhaps grounding is a very basic term in the golf lexicon. But I don’t know what it means. And after a week of hand wringing and controversy, I still don’t.

Crash Course by Tim Layden

When I got my Sports Illustrated this week and saw “Special Report: Running Backs” on the cover, I expected the worse. What sort of idiotic expose did the magazine’s writers decide to embark on this week. But, I must admit, I was completely wrong. This kickoff article that tracks the arc of running back careers by profiling players at different stages was really interesting. It didn’t get bogged down in statistics and strategy. Instead, it humanized the experience.

Made To Last by Joe Posnanski

I’m gonna discuss this article in two parts.

- The profile of Tony Richardson was great. Posnanski, as always, finds creative ways to tell the story. This time, by opening and closing with a story about Richardson’s former teammate, Larry Johnson, asking him for a favor. Is Tony Richardson truly the best guy in the NFL? This article certainly makes a strong argument that he is.

- I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Posnanski. I think he is the most talented writer currently employed by Sports Illustrated and I truly believe his style should be the template used by journalism professors when teaching their students how to write profiles. BUT (there’s always a but) I am struck by the fact that nearly every profile he writes and every person he quotes in those pieces has some connection to Kansas City or the state of Missouri. Richardson’s a former Chief, Johnson’s a former Chief. When he profiles baseball players, he quotes players, managers, and scouts that have connections to the Royals.  Obviously, Posnanski lives in KC and has made his bones covering the city’s teams. It just seems like he relies completely on the rolodex he developed there and hasn’t expanded it very far as he’s become a national writer.

The Icon by Tim Layden

This article belonged in the “Where Are They Know?” issue from a few weeks back. Gale Sayers is a legend. He is one of the great players in league history. I’m glad Tim Layden got to watch some of his highlights. I don’t know that I care to read as he recounts what he watched. And he made no effort to tie what Sayers did during his career into what it means to the current state of the NFL.

Get Out of My Hair! by Franz Lidz

Here’s how this conversation should have gone:

Franz Lidz:  Hey, Jayson Werth, I would love to write a profile about you for Sports Illustrated

Jayson Werth: Well, that’s fine, but you can’t talk to my family or friends or ask about my past and I’m going to be ornery and unpleasant.

Franz Lidz: Oh, in that case, I’ll come up with another idea for an article. Thanks anyway.

Instead, Lidz went ahead and wrote the article, and despite the positive comments from those Werth allowed to speak, the so-called prize of this winter’s  free agent class comes off as an unlikable jerk who I will now actively root for the Yankees to NOT sign. He’s, at best, the 5th best player on his current team (after Halladay, Howard, Utley and Rollins.) There’s no need for him to have such a shitty attitude.

Giving Kids a Lifeline by Andrew Lawrence

It’s a great article about a great cause. Earlier in the week, I made a joke about how Antonio Cromartie was stereotypically scared of the water.  I didn’t realize how widespread that problem actually is. This is a rare case where sports actually does rise to the level of life and death.

POINT AFTER by Selena Roberts

I must be feeling very generous today. I have no criticism of this column by my usual SI Review nemesis Selena Roberts. By focusing on the lack of Americans among the world’s top tennis pros, she wrote about a topic that has, thus far, been under-reported by the rest of the sports media. But instead of just pointing out the facts, she posited a theory on why it is the way it is. And she used personal experience to help prove that theory. It all made for a good read.

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