June 29, 2006

The Sonics Draft: Slight Return

As I have disliked Steve Kelly for some time now, it’s difficult to find myself agreeing with the Peroxided Wonder.

Even more difficult when you consider his bizarre stop-and start columns.

But he nails it -nails it, I say- with this piece on the Sonics draft and the collective “Ehhh” that it caused.

This was a chance to create some good will, to get the city talking basketball in the midst of the Mariners' revival. It was a chance for the Sonics to grab some positive headlines before the start of Seahawks camp.
But they blew it.
Someday maybe we'll look at this pick as genius. Maybe someday Sund and Hill and the Sonics staff will be hailed as visionaries, latter-day de Gamas.
But today, chucking their 10th pick on a project from Senegal looks purely wasteful.
It's enough to make you ask ... huh?

Much easier to agree with is Bill Simmons, who might be slipping in recent months, but the Draft Diary never disappoints.

8:36 -- Our first wild-card pick of the draft! Saer Sene and his 7-foot-8 wingspan go to Seattle at No. 10, despite the fact that he learned to make a layup off the correct foot just 12 months ago. (True story.) On the bright side, he averaged three points a game in a Belgian professional league this season. He's the homeless man's Desagana Diop. We might need to disband the Sonics. Seriously. It's time. Enough is enough. Even the ESPN guys are killing this pick.

Is that serious? This kid didn’t know how to make a layup a year ago? How much is Rick Sund thanking God for the continuing madness that is Zeke the GM?

Posted by Frinklin at 10:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

The Sonics continue slow slide into oblivion

After flirting with big moves like swapping Rashard Lewis for Shawn Marion or moving up to grab hometown hero Brandon Roy, the Supes decided that you just can't have enough unknown big men, picking Mohammed Saer Sene with the 10th pick in the draft. Sene is a 7-footer from Senegal who played in Europe last year, averaging single digits across the board.

Now, a more cynical soul than me would point out that by picking someone guaranteed to provoke a collective yawn from Sonics fandom, Seattle makes itself even less visible and more likely to move out of town. But I'm not that cynical. I'm sure a team that imploded last year really needs another unknown big man.

Oh, and in an inexplicable turn of events, Roy slid to the #6 slot and Minnesota, who turned around and sent him to Portland for Boston's #7 pick Randy Foyle. This is yet more proof that Kevin McHale is a dolt. Roy is the best player in this draft, not some uknown Euro or lazy big man.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2006

Random Comic Review: Star Wars Revamp

With the surprisingly successful debut of Star Wars: Legacy last week –it took me three shops to find it – Dark Horse’s revamp of the Star Wars comic franchise is in full swing. The first, Knights of the Old Republic is very near the end of the first arc; Rebellion is halfway through; and Legacy is off to a very strong start sales-wise. How do they work as actual comics? Rather mixed, I think.

Knights of the Old Republic is a prequel to the successful video game franchise of the same name. Taking place about 8 years prior to the first game, KotOR is set at the beginning of the Mandalorian War. Following the somewhat inept Padawan Zayne Carrick, KotOR the comic hews pretty closely to the formula set by KotOR the game series. Accused of murdering his fellow Padawans, Zayne starts off alone, finding allies along the way that include an Arkanian woman with something to hide and a seriously weird droid. Other than Zayne’s name and sex already being chosen, this could be jumping out of my XBOX or PC.

Beyond following the formula of the games, writer John Jackson Miller has also captured the voice of the games well. This series has fun moments –at times almost zany- despite the seriousness of the main plot. Brian Ching contributes some of his best work on pencils. The look is clean, less sketchy than some of his previous SW work. Superstar artist Travis Charest supplies the covers, which is less of a plus than what you might think. While striking, none of Charest’s covers seem to have anything to do with the book.

Not everything is perfect with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. While I think most of the game’s fans will appreciate the similarities, those who aren’t might see this as even more of a marketing gimmick than most Star Wars comics. The series hasn’t moved particularly quickly either, but no worse than most of today’s decompressed comics. This is the most enjoyable series of the three, well worth the price of admission.

Lastly, I’m pretty sure my SW geek card would be revoked if I didn’t hit on the big rumor regarding this series. The implication throughout the series is that Zayne will eventually become someone very, very important. The most reasonable bet is that he –due to his oft-mentioned ability to form quick bonds- will eventually be the Jedi Exile from the second KotOR game. Or, due to the nasty premonition of his Master, he could end up as Darth Nihilus. It certainly seems that Miller has gone to an awful lot of trouble to lay such hints, but I’m not convinced.

Rebellion is a fill-in-the-blank series that spans between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The series is only 3 issues old and already seems a bit schizophrenic. The initial solicitations made it seem that the series would revolve around Janek “Tank” Sunber, a childhood friend of Luke’s first named in A New Hope but subsequently ignored until his reintroduction in the Empire series. The #0 and #1 issues were about Sunber, but subsequent issues have been fairly Luke-centric

Writer Rob Williams has a good handle on the SW mythos, but seems to struggle finding the balance of this series, or even the point. There are some interesting –if not earth shatteringly original- ideas here, like the childhood friends on opposite sides, or Luke’s transformation into naïve farmboy to war hero, but it seems Williams can’t quite find what the thrust of the series is. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A diffuse series covering the time period more than characters might work, but Rebellion hasn’t quite found footing yet.

The art by Brandon Badeaux is detailed and labor-intensive. At times figures and faces don’t quite look right, but his layouts are clean. Between Ching on KotOR and Badeaux here, along with veteran Jan Duursema on Legacy, DH has come up with a very distinct look for each of the three series.

Legacy, judging from purely anecdotal evidence, is the big hit of the revamp. And why shouldn’t it be? Set 130 years after the Battle of Yavin, this series features a new Empire, new Sith, and new Skywalkers. The Galactic Alliance of the post –NJO period has fallen, and a new -if more benign- Empire has replaced it. The Jedi continue to serve the Force, and not necessarily the Empire. This is left to the Imperial Knights, fully trained Jedi who act much like the old Imperial Guard. The resurgent Sith Order, led by Darth Krayt, shatters this relative calm. Krayt, who looks to be wearing some version of Yuuzhan Vong armor, has abandoned the Rule of Two and leads several Sith Lords.

Much of the pull of this series comes from the newest Skywalker. Cade, presumably Luke’s great-(or even great-great) grandson, is a willful and reckless Padawan who goes underground after the Sith reveal themselves. He eventually –we think, much of this info comes from the preview issue- finds himself a pirate and smuggler. The preview issue gave info about Cade as an adult, but the actual first issue backtracks to when he’s a teenager. A bit confusing, but only one issue in we should give the benefit of the doubt.

So why doesn’t this issue work as much as I want it too?

Legacy seems a hodge-podge of older SW ideas, with very little new. Cade is kinda like Anakin, but then he becomes a smuggler like Han Solo. And we get an old, beat-up ship and a Wookie to boot. Much of what made this series interesting also seems derivative. We have a new Empire led by a Sith Lord bent on destroying the Jedi, we have the burned-out smuggler with a secret heart of gold… it just seems somewhat stale.

Despite that, I fully expect this series to be worth it. Ostrander and Duursema have produced the best of the SW comics in the past, and the sheer amount of stuff they’ve put out; well, you would think we have some keepers.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2006

Sunny and not a cloud in the sky

Today is, without question, the most perfect weather we’ve had since moving to Tacoma. Mid-80’s, blue sky, a slight breeze to cool things down…. It’s just perfect. So what did the Missus and I do today? Hike though Point Defiance? Did we drive up to Seattle, walk the streets and hit the Pike Place Market for some gourmet food and spectacular views? How about a day-trip to Vancouver B.C., the prettiest city in North America.

No, we did yard work. We mowed, we weeded, we cleared brush, we raked, we edged, we trimmed trees, we laid some organic weed killer, we laid some decidedly non-organic weed and feed, and now we are fucking exhausted.

Excuse me while I try to move my arms.

Posted by Frinklin at 04:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006

File This Under "Huh?"

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are having a Turn Back the Clock Night.

Yes, they are.

Now, rest assured, they aren't going to pull a VH1 and do "I Love the 90s." No, with the Atlanta Braves coming to town, they're turning the clock back to 1975. The Braves will be wearing those funky-cool '70s blue-with-white-sleeves uniforms that Hank Aaron made famous. The Rays, meanwhile, will not show up at the game, since they did not exist in 1975.

Just kidding! The Rays will in fact be sporting the uniforms of the Tampa Tarpons, from the Florida State League (of which Tampa was a charter member, the Rays will have you know). Actually, since the stadium is actually in St. Petersburg, they should be wearing the uniforms of the St. Petersburg team, but since they were the Cardinals at the time, I suppose that was out.

Why, you might ask, did they pick 1975? Is it because the Tarpons were a Braves farm club then? Nope. (They were affiliated with the Reds.) Is it because the Tarpons were a mighty colossus in 1975? Google won't confirm or deny this one, but I assume that the press release would have mentioned it if they were. Other than the fact that the Braves can recycle the throwbacks they've used in previous Turn Back the Clock games, I can't think of a good reason why they picked '75.

Oh, and the game will be graced by the presence of ex-big leaguers George Foster, Tommy John, and Dave Kingman will be there. What do they all have in common? None of them played for the Braves (or the Tarpons, for that matter) in 1975. I suppose they were available and could use the money. Which, comes to think of it, means this game does have something in common with "I Love the '90s."

PS: I think I might know why they're doing this. As Frinklin reported a while back, the Rays are thinking of changing their name in the near future. Maybe this is a quick way to gauge public support for a name that's reportedly high on the list of possibilities?

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 01:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Coldest Winter Ever

I feel... desolate. I'm staring out over a barren, lightless prairie. At the core of my soul, where the feelings are supposed to go, there's nothing, a black hole that keeps trying to suck the rest of me into it. Once there was hope, a faint flickering hope in spite of all the scars, in spite of the long odds and all the times that have gone wrong before, some little corner of me that dared to believe, however quietly. Last night, though, that fledging little sprout of hope was crushed, flattened by the Mack truck of reality, crushed so badly that it mocks you for having ever dared to hope in the first place. It hurts to have your hopes crushed, but crushed so hard that you feel stupid for having hoped at all? That was last night. I want to wave the white flag and crawl back in the bunker of resignation and cynicism, perhaps permanently.

I find myself trying to concentrate on work, but it's useless, and so am I. I try to hum tunes, think of dump jokes, type long and rambling blog posts, anything to cover up the fact that I'm dying inside. No, that's wrong. I'm already dead. Nothing can cover up the emptiness, not really; I can only paper it over for the sake of the outside world and my own pride. I am folded, spindled, and mutilated. At some point, I imagine, I'll pick myself up off the floor and carry on, but just at the moment I can't imagine it. My chin sinks instinctively to my chest when I walk. My shoulders feel as if they're bearing hundred-pound weights. Call me Mister Blue.

Am I sad, though? No. Angry? Wish I could be, but I can't. I should have known better than to hope. I'm just... empty. I'd jump off a bridge, except I'm too numb to find one. I wish I could feel something, anything, for a while. Instead, there's nothing but cold. It may be sticky, sultry June on the outside, but inside it's an eternal Alaskan winter, where the sun stays down for months. You want to take it on faith that the sun will return at some point, but faith is out the window right now.

I have no right to be this down, I guess. I had no business getting hopeful in the first place. I should have known how it would turn out. But, fool that I am, I let myself believe again, and what did it get me? A big sucking void in my chest. I won't let that happen again. What happened last night broke me.

I refer, of course, to the fact that the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup last night.

As a friend of mine put it, "I can hardly wait to see Lord Stanley's Cup filled with...Cheerwine."

It's not all bad. Although I'm perfectly digusted about the Stanley Cup residing in Carolina (should be Hartford, Peter Karmanos, you bastard), I'm happy for the players. The Canes have a lot of veterans who deserved this victory (Rod Brind'Amour, Glen Wesley, Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, Bret "Mr. Kristi Yamaguchi" Hedican, and others). And that kid Ward is an amazing goalie... I look forward to seeing his career develop.

That said, I still want to vomit in the toilet bowl that is Carolina's logo.

I offer a tip of the hat to the Oilers for a tremendous effort. I figured they were toast after they blew the lead in Game 1, especially when Dwayne Roloson got hurt. After they got stomped in Game 2, I was ready to pack it in. But they hung in and made a series of it, the first 8-seed to make the finals, much less come within a game of the Cup.

The Oilers gave it everything they had, and my hat is off to them. Cheers especially to Jussi Markkanen for not self-destructing after Game 2, and to Craig MacTavish for putting him back out there the rest of the series.

Thanks for the ride, guys.

In the spirit of warmth and joy that I'm not feeling, I want to share a couple of things that, on another day, would make me smile.

The first is an article from the Slate vault, re-published in connection with their 10th anniversary celebration, which is one of the sweetest things I've ever read. He describes his experiences sitting in front of the Kennedy Center in DC, watching married couples walk by:

I look particularly at the women in those couples. They are not glamorous. There are no Marlene Dietrichs, Marilyn Monroes, or Vivien Leighs among them. (It is a sign of my age that I can't think of the name of a single living glamorous movie actress.) Some of them are pretty, but many would be considered plain. Since they are on their way to the Kennedy Center, presumably to attend a play, an opera, or a concert, one may assume that they are somewhat above average in cultural literacy. But in other respects one must assume that they are, like most people, average.

But to the man whose hand or arm she is holding, she is not "average." She is the whole world to him. They may argue occasionally, or even frequently. He may have an eye for the cute intern in his office. But that is superficial. Fundamentally, she is the most valuable thing in his life...

I can hear you saying: "How do you know all this? You are only an economist, practitioner of the dismal science. You aren't Ann Landers." That is all true. But my wife and I walked up that hill to the Kennedy Center many times.

(These snippets do not do justice to the article, which flows so beautifully that it's almost impossible to excerpt. Read the whole thing.)

Herbert Stein, who passed away in 1999, was a brilliant economist, served on the Council of Economic Advisors under Nixon and Ford, was on the Wall Street Journal's board of contributors, and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He was a polymath and a voracious intellect, one of the eminent thinkers of our time. But there was another side to him, which comes out in this article. It was not Stein's first contribution to Slate; he had been, of all things, the writer of the "Dear Prudence" advice column for several years. A man who is equally at home, and equally adept, advising presidents on economic policy and counseling the lovelorn is a man who should be remembered as a giant. But, because our culture wouldn't know greatness if it bit Jennifer Lopez on her sizeable caboose, he is perhaps best remembered for fathering the teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

The other item I wish to share is a song by Warren Zevon, from the album "Life'll Kill Ya." Although Zevon's terminal cancer was not diagnosed at the time this album came out, he clearly had death on his mind, as evidenced by songs such as the title track, "I Was In the House When the House Burned Down," and the elegantly-named "My Shit's Fucked Up." However, the last track, entitled "Don't Let Us Get Sick," is a gentle, warm, and hopeful song, a rose sprouting out of the volcanic ash. It serves as a reminder that, for all Zevon's darkness and cynicism, there still existed an inner peace and stillness, and perhaps even hope.

Don't let us get sick Don't let us get old Don't let us get stupid, all right? Just make us be brave And make us play nice And let us be together tonight

The sky was on fire
When I walked to the mill
To take up the slack in the line
I thought of my friends
And the troubles they've had
To keep me from thinking of mine

Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

The moon has a face
And it smiles on the lake
And causes the ripples in Time
I'm lucky to be here
With someone I like
Who maketh my spirit to shine

Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

Of course, listening to the song now and remembering that we couldn't keep Zevon from getting sick and old, tears you apart. But it's still a wonderful song.

Eventually, I'll get over the fact that two straight Stanley Cups, and three of the last four, have gone to the Confederacy. In the meantime, I'll use the above-mentioned article and song to help me crawl out of the abyss. Just make me be brave, Lord, and make me play nice. And let us all be together tonight.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 12:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

I haven't posted much lately.

Come to think of it, I haven't posted anything recently, but I have a couple of very weak excuses: mu.nu faced an onslaught of muck over the weekend and Grand Leader Pixy had his hands full keeping us up, and I finally bought my XBOX 360. So that explains the last 3 days, but nothing about the last 3 weeks. I find myself thinking of topics, but I find myself utterly incapable of writing more than 3-4 words. So there is some writer's block apparently. It seems to be going around.

Thankfully, I have my blogpartner Fred, who manages to write more words in a post than I could in a month.

Oh, and the 360?

Sweet Jesus, this thing is coooooool.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 15, 2006

Just Because It Bears Repeating

Here is White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, as quoted in Tim Keown's column for Page 2, discussing Sox shortstop Juan Uribe's new child, born on June 6th:

"Every time I see a kid in the clubhouse, I ask whose it is, and it's always Uribe's. Maybe he has 20, I don't know. … I don't know what kind of kid you're going to be when you're born on 6-6-6. If he's like his dad, he's going to be a problem."

Now, I assume that this was meant as affectionate teasing on Ozzie's part. But am I the only one who concluded that Guillen was hinting that Uribe, um, plays around? I wonder what Uribe's wife thinks of this quote.

Either way, Ozzie Guillen is already well-known for being, well, "colorful." But there's a fine line between colorful and criminally insane. Could you picture Jim Leyland, Bobby Cox or Frank Robinson saying this sort of thing about a player on his own team?

By the way, I looked it up, and this was Uribe's fourth child. With his wife, anyhow.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2006

Soccer: Here We Go Again

Oh boy, it's World Cup time again! Time for Americans to pull their mildewed soccer jerseys out of the backs of the closets where they've resided for four years. Time for millions of people to discuss left mids, strikers and keepers as if they know what the hell they're talking about. Time for insurgents and guerrilla fighters all over the world to lay down their guns for a month and gather around the TVs, even if they don't have electricity. Yes, the World Cup is not only the most important sporting event in the history of mankind, it's a catalyst for world peace!

Oh, spare me.

I don't really feel the need to recount the long list of things I can't stand about soccer. (Although I have to ask: Is there a firing squad, guns drawn, ready to execute any player who shoots the ball in the direction of the actual goal?) I'm well-acquainted with the channel-change buttons on my remote, and the World Cup hoopla on TV in this country isn't that difficult to avoid. It's not like the Super Bowl, where you'd have to move to Montana and hide in Ted Kaczynski's shack for a month to avoid the absurdly overblown hype. Soccer hype gets worse every World Cup, but in the end it's not that much worse than, say, the WNBA.

What drives me crazy are the soccer snobs.

You know the people I'm talking about. The ones who show up to work in soccer jerseys. The ones who, even though they're fourth- or fifth-generation Americans, insist on rooting for Italy or England or Germany. (Sometimes they'll claim it's a shout-out to their heritage, even though these same people usually root for Team USA during the Olympics.) The ones who actually follow the MLS in non-Cup years (unless they consider MLS beneath them and follow the European and South American leagues exclusively). The ones who don't roll their eyes when mentioning names like FC Dallas or Real Salt Lake. The ones who berate journalists for making picayune mistakes when referencing profoundly dumb MLS team names. The ones who seem to regard the preponderance of 1-0, 0-0, and 2-1 scores in soccer as a virtue.

There are no sports snobs more annoying than soccer snobs.

Football snobs (I suppose I should specify "American football," for the sake of the soccer snobs reading this) don't exist, for several reasons. For one thing, it's hard to associate the word "snob" with something as violent and gladatorial as football. (Then again, Ernest Hemingway could reasonably been described as a "bullfighting snob.") More to the point, there is no such thing as a football snob for the same reason there is no such thing as an American Idol snob. Because there is no God, football is the king of American sports. A true snob would never be caught dead enjoying something so widely popular among the Philistines. (Some might argue that Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z is a football snob, but I would call him a football purist, which is another matter.)

There are basketball snobs, and they can be pretty annoying, particularly the ones who argue that not liking basketball marks you as a racist. But there aren't too many of them (Bill Simmons claims that there are only 20 real basketball fans still alive), and the ones who play the race card are usually less into basketball than they are into complaining about Whitey. Many of them cry racism whenever American sports fans boo a surly prima donna and/or borderline criminal who happens to be black (see also: Bonds, Barry and Lewis, Ray).

Hockey fans, in my experience, are not inclined to snobbery. There are plenty of hockey diehards, sure, but they're content to just enjoy the games and not care what everyone else thinks. They don't mind letting their freak flag fly, but it's with an attitude of cheerful indifference to the rest of the world, as opposed to defiance. They're more cultists than snobs. A typical hockey crowd is sort of like a midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, minus the cross-dressing (usually). Also, it's hard to be snobbish about an event in which many of the key players are missing teeth.

Now, there are a lot of baseball snobs. I'm one of them. And I'm the first to admit that we're pretty damn annoying. We're a lot like classical-music snobs; while fans of other sports are watching mere entertainment, we're experiencing something sublime, an art form, something deep and special which offers insight into the human condition. (Thomas Boswell's essays "How Life Imitates the World Series" and "Why Time Begins On Opening Day" are archetypal examples of baseball snobbery.) Baseball snobs tend to think themselves intellectually, and perhaps morally, a cut above fans of other sports. (Just ask first-rate baseball snob George Will. Or re-read my insufferably snooty paragraph about football above.) Many harbor a secret wish to be transported back to the early 20th century. (I am a prime example.) And they tend to employ a plethora of superfluous polysyllabic words.

Guilty as charged. But soccer snobs are worse. Soccer snobs may be slightly less boring to listen to, but they make up for it by being even more arrogant, which is no mean feat. Sure, a baseball snob may look at, say, a die-hard football fan as a mouth-breathing cretin. But a soccer snob thinks of non-soccer fans as xenophobic mouth-breathing cretins. The soccer fan's attitude toward non-fans reminds me a lot of the Bush administration's attitude to those opposed to the Dubai ports deal: "Shut up, hicks." If you hate soccer, it's because you're a provincial American slob with your head up your ass. You can't, apparently, hate soccer because it's boring; it's because you have a visceral dislike for all things un-American.

Don't believe me? Take this passage from Andrew O'Hehir's article in Salon:

Don't get me wrong, soccer has arrived in the United States, or at least as much as it ever will under prevailing late-capitalist market conditions...

Sure, the sports-talk troglodytes who bash soccer haven't gone away, and some fans of the big four North American sports, especially if they're over 35 or so, still feel mysteriously emasculated by soccer's rising profile on the media landscape.

Or look at Dave Eggers' essay in Slate (which, by the way, is brilliantly written and entertaining):

The abandonment of soccer is attributable, in part, to the fact that people of influence in America long believed that soccer was the chosen sport of Communists. When I was 13—this was 1983, long before glasnost, let alone the fall of the wall—I had a gym teacher, who for now we'll call Moron McCheeby, who made a very compelling link between soccer and the architects of the Iron Curtain. I remember once asking him why there were no days of soccer in his gym units. His face darkened. He took me aside. He explained with quivering, barely mastered rage, that he preferred decent, honest American sports where you used your hands. Sports where one's hands were not used, he said, were commie sports played by Russians, Poles, Germans, and other commies. To use one's hands in sports was American, to use one's feet was the purview of the followers of Marx and Lenin. I believe McCheeby went on to lecture widely on the subject.

It was, by most accounts, 1986 when the residents of the United States became aware of the thing called the World Cup. Isolated reports came from foreign correspondents, and we were frightened by these reports, worried about domino effects, and wondered aloud if the trend was something we could stop by placing a certain number of military advisers in Cologne or Marseilles. Then, in 1990, we realized that the World Cup might happen every four years, with or without us....

Our continued indifference to the sport worshiped around the world can be easily explained in two parts. First, as a nation of loony but determined inventors, we prefer things we thought of ourselves. The most popular sports in America are those we conceived and developed on our own: football, baseball, basketball. If we can claim at least part of the credit for something, as with tennis or the radio, we are willing to be passively interested. But we did not invent soccer, and so we are suspicious of it.

Translation: "See? Soccer hatred is for jingoistic, neo-McCarthyite morons. Prepare to be assimilated, huckleberries." The only sports fans on a par with the soccer snobs are the women's sports snobs, who scream that you're a chauvinist Neanderthal if you don't care about the Washington Mystics or the Bay Area CyberRays.

Unfortunately, I don't fit the stereotype. I'm a cosmopolitan big-city guy, and at least as big a liberal internationalist as the next guy. I don't have a jingoistic bone in my body. I have no problem rooting for countries other than the US in the Olympics. I watched the World Baseball Classic with interest, even after the US was eliminated. "Proud to Be An American" makes my skin crawl. I happily voted for John Kerry, for God's sake.

I don't dislike soccer because I hate the rest of the world. I dislike it because it bores me to tears whenever I try to watch it.

A couple years ago, I went to a DC United game, largely to check out RFK in anticipation of baseball's return. I sat next to a section full of crazies who banged a drum all game, shouting undeniably clever if freequently obscene chants at the other team, and throwing toilet paper onto the field whenever United scored a goal. (Is it "United" or "the United"? I wouldn't want to offend Richard.) They were obviously quite dedicated fans, and quite fun to watch (even if I left the game with a throbbing headache). Unfortunately, they were infinitely more amusing than anything that happened on the field.

Tell you what, soccer snobs. I'll make you a deal. I will leave you alone to enjoy the World Cup, and I won't make any of my usual jokes about what a crashing bore your sport is. That is, if you promise to stop calling me a xenophobic idiot if I choose to ignore you and your sport. Thoughtful people can agree to disagree on their choice of sport, and it doesn't make anyone a bad person. Deal?

(Gee, does this mean I have to start respecting the intellect of football fans? Perish the thought...)

UPDATE: Bryan Curtis of Slate takes on the soccer snobs, in an article much like this post, only much, much better. Curtis takes on the question of why so many intellectuals become soccer snobs, and he makes the argument (rather compellingly) that soccer snobs are the baseball snobs of modern times. See, there's another reason to find baseball snobs less annoying... we're a dying breed, and thus are acquiring the benign dignity of a fading empire. Like most imperialists in the decline-and-fall phase, we can barely take ourselves seriously any more.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 06:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 07, 2006

A very small annoyance.

My life has become much more fulfilling since I started getting the PTI podcast for my train ride each morning. I just wish Wilbon would stop -for the love of GOD stop- calling the Boston Red Sox the "SAWKS".

Posted by Frinklin at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Great Grimsley Matter

This could get really, really big. Jason Grimsley, a 15-year vet and the epitome of the journeyman reliever, was recently busted for possession of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Baseball does not test for HGH, and Grimsley states -after a career of taking steroids- that he has only taken HGH since the MLB testing policy began. What makes this different from the Bonds and Giambi cases that stemmed from the BALCO mess, is that Grimsley sang like a bird, naming several different players.

It’s real easy, and more than a little scary, to do a Six Degrees of Separation with Grimsley and 15-year, eight-team career.

The Smoking Gun has the affidavit, but the whatever names that Grimsley gave are blacked out.

Again, this could be big.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006

Coke Blak...

...really should just be called "Swill". How does the sweet, cloying taste of Coca-Cola with the bitter aftertaste of cheap instant coffee grab ya? Sounds yummers? Buy this crap by the case.

This is a $1.40 that I will always regret.

Posted by Frinklin at 07:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 04, 2006

The Day of Rest


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June 02, 2006

Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)

In honor of the impending Stanley Cup finals, and my revived love of hockey, I offer you my favorite hockey song. It's by Warren Zevon, from the album "My Ride's Here." The whole album is amazing, probably my favorite album of all time by any artist. At the time, Zevon knew he was dying of lung cancer, and he put together a truly brilliant farewell album, full of "meditations on death." (Of course, Zevon didn't die quite as fast as expected, and he had time to put out one more album, "The Wind," which was good but not quite as brilliant as the one before.)

If you haven't heard the song, or the album, I can't recommend it more highly. I shall present the lyrics without further comment. Go Oilers!

- - - - -

He was born in Big Beaver by the borderline
He started playing hockey by the time he was nine
His dad took the hose and froze the back yard
And Little Buddy dreamed he was Rocket Richard
He grew up big and he grew up tough
He saw himself scoring for the Wings or Canucks
But he wasn't that good with a puck

Buddy's real talent was beating people up
His heart wasn't in it but the crowd ate it up
Through pee-wee's and juniors, midgets and mites
He must have racked up more than six hundred fights
A scout from the Flames came down from Saskatoon
Said, "There's always room on our team for a goon
Son, we've always got room for a goon"

There were Swedes to the left of him
Russians to the right
A Czech at the blue line looking for a fight
Brains over brawn-that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do
What else can a farm boy from Canada to do
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do
What else can a farm boy from Canada to do

Hit somebody! was what the crowd roared
When Buddy the goon came over the boards
"Coach," he'd say, "I wanna score goals"
The coach said, "Buddy, remember your role
The fast guys get paid, they shoot, they score
Protect them, Buddy, that's what you're here for

Protection is what you're here for
Protection-it's the stars that score
Protection-kick somebody's ass
Protection-don't put the biscuit in the basket just
Hit some, Buddy! it rang in his ears
Blood on the ice ran down through the years
The king of the goons with a box for a throne
A thousand stitches and broken bones
He never lost a fight on his icy patrol
But deep inside, Buddy only dreamed of a goal
He just wanted one damn goal

There were Swedes at the the blue line
Finns at the red
A Russian with a stick heading straight for his head
Brains over brawn-that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do
What else can a farm boy from Canada to do
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do
What else can a farm boy from Canada to do

In his final season, on his final night
Buddy and a Finn goon were pegged for a fight
Thirty seconds left, the puck took a roll
And suddenly Buddy had a shot on goal

The goalie committed, Buddy picked his spot
Twenty years of waiting went into that shot
The fans jumped up, the Finn jumped too
And coldcocked Buddy on his follow through
The big man crumbled but he felt all right
'Cause the last thing he saw
was the flashing red light
He saw that heavenly light

There were Swedes to the left of him
Russians to the right
A Czech at the blue line looking for a fight
Take care of your teeth-that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do
What else can a farm boy from Canada to do
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do
What else can a farm boy from Canada to do

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 11:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack