Remember when these things used to be about sports? I was looking something up in a previous post earlier this week and that led to me going back and reading through a year’s worth of SI Reviews. (Yup, it was a year two weeks ago.) Initially, I wrote a small intro which was directly linked to the content from that week’s magazine. Slowly, though, these posts transformed into the rambling, overwritten, cheaper than therapy studies of my innermost thoughts and anti social tendencies that you’ve all come to know and love. And thank god for that. Limiting yourself to sports is so boring.
Recently, a friend from work was showing one of his relatives around the office and when they stopped to say hi at my desk, my friend said, “This is Justin. He’s a walking sports encyclopedia.” He meant it as a compliment and I acted as if I took it as such. But, in reality, I was a little horrified. I don’t want that to be the first thing people think about me.
I’ve also read lots of books. I know all the words to an inordinate amount of horrible pop songs. I can explain what a Credit Default Swap is in a way that you would actually understand it. I’m familiar with the procedural minutiae that makes the US Senate tick. I can tell you what’s on TV tonight. I have opinions about food. I KNOW WHO JUICE NEWTON IS.
So, yes, if you need to know who the Yankees traded to get David Cone or when the last time Knicks and Rangers both made the playoffs in the same season, I’ll have that information for you at the ready. But please, don’t limit me to that. My brain is chock-full of useless shit.
Michael Farber is back, in all his tortured pun glory. I’m all for clever wordplay when it comes organically during the writing process. I hate it when sentences are written solely so the author can fire off a zinger. Here are some examples:
Parent was the playoff MVP in 1974 and ’75, recipient of the Conn Smythe, although to the rest of the disgusted NHL the goalie might as well have been awarded the Genghis Khan Smythe.
Philadelphia … well, it decidedly has not moved on. It is not always sunny in Philadelphia, but it is always 1974 and 1975 at the rink.
So, let’s talk about something good. Scorecard includes an interview with Norm MacDonald, who is promoting his new sports show on Comedy Central. This interview is nothing special, but you should read this one that Norm did with AV Club. I’ve always found him to be ridiculously funny, but I could never put into words what it was about him that made me laugh. It’s like he’s purposely not funny, which is in itself hilarious. He sums it up better than I can:
I tried really hard on Weekend Update to do something that I considered original, which was, I tried to cut all cleverness out of the joke. I’ve always been very averse to innuendo, especially sexual. I find it cowardly or something. Like on Will & Grace, my mother will laugh at it, then I’m like, “You know what that joke’s about, right? Like, that one guy fucked that guy in the ass.” And then she’s aghast, and I’m like, “That’s what he just said when he talked about the tunnel! So why didn’t he just say it?” It always maddens me that people can laugh at sexual innuendo, then you say what it really means, and they’re like “Ah! I can’t hear that!”
and while we’re at it, here is Norm MacDonald at his funniest.
Two Frenzied Hours by Alan Shipnuck
The thing I’ve always loved about the Masters is that it’s not just for golf fans. I will always remember watching Tiger win the 1997 tournament in Dan Zawadski’s dorm room my Freshman year in college. There were about six of us who sat, transfixed, while we watched this guy finish off his final round at Augusta. We were all sports fans but none of us were golf fans. My biggest complaint about Alan Shipnuck’s article is that it’s so heavy in golf vernacular, a non golf fan gets lost within the first few paragraphs. That’s no way to keep someone hooked a few days after the Masters first grabbed his or her attention.
The Short Goodbye by Tom Verducci
I think I’ve finally put my finger on what it is that bothers me about the way baseball writers cover the steroid story. They write as if it happened to them. Manny Ramirez didn’t just cheat. He cheated TOM VERDUCCI. Take a step back and stop taking it so personally.
Small Ball by Ian Thomsen
There’s a lot going on here. The main article, about point guards dominating the league, is pretty good. We learn about under publicized players like Darren Collison and Mike Conley. All the sidebars and graphics are a bit distracting though.
The Wheels of Life by Gary Smith
At first, I didn’t want to read this article. It looked long and I’ve read about the Hoyts in SI columns before. But, I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. It was long. And now that I’ve finally finished it, I’m still not sure what I think. We’ll break it down.
– Is Dick Hoyt likable? There’s no doubt committed to his son, but I don’t know if he’s likable. He seems to lack a personality.
-If the goal is to elicit emotion, the pictures of Dick and Rick at various races through the years are more effective than any of the prose.
-What the fuck?
Judy’s dead. She took her last breath six days before this pothole-riddled race,
That comes out of nowhere and is delivered with a surprisingly cold and clinical hand.
-Rick Hoyt went to BU. They have a picture of him at graduation. I couldn’t help but think back to my own BU graduation, when I sat behind Travis Roy, the hockey player who was tragically paralyzed during the first shift of his freshman season. Somehow, he still managed to get through school in just 5 years. They put a big picture in the Boston Globe the next day. I was in the background. It’s the only part of the story I cared about. Like I said, I couldn’t help thinking of this. I tried not to. I really did. It’s not my finest moment.
Point After by Joe Posnanski
Joe’s handicapped (no pun intended) by two factors this week. First of all, his summary of Rory McIlroy’s final round is essentially a rehash of Alan Shipnuck’s earlier article. Secondly, by the time I read the column, I had seen Kevin Na shoot a 16 on one hole at the TPC San Antonio. When you see that, a couple of bogies doesn’t sound so bad.