Category Archives: Sports
Pittsburgh’s other religion
Sorry for the lack of posts, but my life is in limbo and, really, it is all I can think about these days. But I can’t talk about it. My life is about to drastically change (for the good!) but I’m waiting for things to happen that will bring it to fruition.
I know. That tells you precious little. But the next two days (Tuesday & Wednesday) are big days. Dates will be set. Schedules will be put in motion. And hopefully, I will soon get a date for when the next chapter of my life will begin.
So what’s been happening lately?
I’m very stoked that the depleted Chicago Bulls beat the Heat tonight. The Bulls are lucky to be able to field a team. Luol Deng, arguably their best active player, is so sick he was tested for meningitis. Their center is limping around on planter fasciitis. Other players are so sick they are heaving on the bench. And Derrick Rose, who can dunk in practice, still sits on the sideline in a suit because he doesn’t want to risk his $200 million Adidas contract. Hey, if they were paying me that much, I probably wouldn’t risk it either. But let’s just say it. Michael Jordan would have been out there. ’nuff said.
And last week, an over-the-hill, mediocre professional basketball player came out of the closet and the world suddenly learned his name. Something that never happened from his basketball career. Still, he is the only active player in one of the mens major team sports to “come out.” And really, it’s about time. Rumors of gay players in all major sports have abounded for years. It’s about time one had the courage to go public.
Yet through it all, the media has ignored the fact that Jason Collins is also a very strong Christian. The fact is, if you believe in God, then you have to deal with the fact that God made him gay, and God continues to make gay men and lesbian women as we speak. Despite not being able to procreate (other than through surrogates), they continue to exist.
Jason Collins was inspired by a passage in a daily prayer manual that his grandmother had given him. A few days before he decided to make his announcement, this was the entry…
The clarion call of freedom sounds within my soul, trumpeting the truth that the love of God liberates me from unhappiness, hurt, or fear. I bid farewell to any emptiness from the past, and open myself to realizing my heart’s deepest longing and aspiration.
Meanwhile, a Wisconsin church cancelled an event that was to feature former Green Bay Packer defensive back Leroy Butler. Why the cancellation? He had Tweeted: “Congrats to Jason Collins.” That was enough to cancel his $8,500 speaking gig. He was told that if he removed the Tweet, apologized, and asked God for forgiveness, he could still speak at the event. Butler took a pass.
There is so much wrong with that last paragraph, I can’t even begin to process it.
First of all, as a former elder at an urban church that feeds the homeless and is struggling to figure out how to pay for showers in the basement so that people living on the streets can clean up and get a meal, I am flabbergasted that a “former ” football player would charge a church $8,500 to speak one time, and that they would pay it. My head is spinning on that one. I’m just saying that you’d be amazed at what we could do with $8,500. And we wouldn’t blow it on paying some ex-football player to give one sermon. I’m sure that Leroy Butler can bring it. But $8.500 for one speaking gig? In a church? Are you kidding me?
Next, I am shocked that they canceled his event because of one Tweet: “Congrats to Jason Collins.” One needs to apologize and ask forgiveness for that? Look, I know that you can cherry-pick a handful of verses out of the Bible to defend that position (while ignoring a plethora of more challenging and disturbing passages), but really… a church full of sinners should hardly be throwing rocks in their glass house. Butler is not gay. I’m have no idea where he stands on the issue. He merely congratulated a friend/acquaintance/colleague on making a decision. And for that, he needs to submit to a public shaming?
It’s things like this that make me believe that we are not in a post-Christian culture, we are in a post-church culture. But I am forming more on that for future post
Congrats to Jason Collins. I hope he takes his 1.1 points per game and 1.6 rebounds per game and finds a job next year at 35 years of age. But if he doesn’t, he’ll likely find plenty of Leroy Butler-like speaking engagements to live on for a very long time. Jason Collins will do just fine.
But what of the church in America? At a time when 6.3 of 10 young adults support gay marriage in this country, churches are facing more uncertain future than a journeyman NBA big man. Things were much more uncomplicated when gays stayed in the closets and women remained in the kitchen. But times are changing. And it will be interesting to see how the church (Catholic and protestant) will respond.
America is saddened tonight at how a day that started out like this…
…could end like this.
We don’t know if this was the product of a sick and desperate home-grown loner or the political message of a group from far-off shores. At this point, it doesn’t really matter. Either way, yes, there are selfish and cowardly people who can strike down innocents and cause terror in our hearts.
They can cause terror in our hearts for about 15 seconds.
Then, something else kicks in and we rush into the fray to the aid of our fellow man.
People we didn’t know before. Doesn’t matter. Police, medics, volunteers, bystanders… will rush into harm’s way to lend a hand. Runners will keep running, beyond the finish line, to join other Bostonians in giving blood until the Red Cross says “Enough! We’re good!” Citizens will open their homes to runners who can’t get back to their hotels. And don’t fall for the line that “that’s what Americans do!” That’s just a bunch of cable TV rah-rah bullshit. It’s what humans do, all over the globe. It’s what they do when a bomb goes off on a bus in London. It’s what they do when a tsunami hits Japan and Indonesia. It’s what they do when an earthquake rattles Iran and China. It’s what they do in Syria, Rwanda, Tibet, and Baghdad. It’s what they do all over the globe when evil tries to strike at the hearts of our neighbor. It’s a human thing. It’s eternal and global and you can’t snuff it out.
Terror might have had a nice kick for a few seconds there, today, but humanity won the race. Finish strong, it’s what we do. No terrorist, foreign or domestic, will ever be able to beat that.
Today is like a national holiday for me. Opening Day. I love me some baseball. I don’t care if a Nor’easter is blowing flurries across the Allegheny River. Spring training is over and every team is tied for first place today. (Well, except for the Rangers, who lost last night.)
Thus, today is time for my annual Pirates prediction and preview. I wish I could say that I was as optimistic as the past two seasons, but the Bataan Death March (aka August and September) of the past two seasons, along with the pay-no-mind way the Pirates front office has been treating me, has left me a bit scarred and bitter. Wow. I feel like a real Pittsburgh Pirates fan now.
We started going to quite a few Pirates games in 2009. We were there when they sold off Sanchez and Bay and most of the team. We were there the night after Nyjer Morgan was traded to the Nationals for Joel Hanrahan and they decided to bring up a young Andrew McCutchen from the minors. We were there on nights when there were so few people in the park that the players could actually hear everything you yelled at them. The following winter, the Pirates noticed how many games I had attended. So, one snowy December evening, they invited us to come down for a tour of PNC Park. We saw everything but the locker room itself. (Only full season ticket holders get to see that.) We stood in the dugout, which was filled with about a foot of snow. They wooed us and we responded by purchasing a 10-game package on the spot. Not a lot of games, but it boils down to an average of a game every two weeks, and that’s about as much as we want to go.
In 2010, we watched the Pirates develop their kids like Cutch, Alvarez, and Walker. Then, in 2011 and 2012, we suffered through two Jekyll and Hyde seasons. In 2011, the Pirates were 54-52 going into August, before going 18-38 the rest of the way. Last year, they were an incredible 59-44 going into August, then went 20-39 in August and September. Each season had a disaster month. In 2011, it was an 8-22 August. Last year, it was a 7-21 September. Both years, a potential playoff team in July completely crapped the bed by September.
The fast starts of the past two seasons stirred enough interest that the Pirates no longer really need us 10-game package customers. The first year, we received a free set of club section seats with our tickets. Last year, we received opening day tickets. I assumed that would happen again this year. But when I received my tickets in March, our first game was April 19. By that time, opening day was already sold out. When nobody was going to games, the Pirates were attentive and caring. Now, they throw our lousy tickets at us and tell us to shut up. Look, I get it. They want us to upgrade to a 20-game package or half-season. It’s not personal; it’s just business. We just can’t go to that many games. We’re happy going twice a month. But now the team treats us like we’re just ordering water in a restaurant. They don’t write… they don’t call. The bloom is off the rose.
Well, that goes both ways. My expectations for the coming season have been lowered. While .500 is a possibility this season, I’m just not convinced that this team is going to be better than last year. But even that is hard to judge because I’m not sure which team to compare this year’s squad to… the April-July juggernaut, or the Keystone Cops of August and September? Part of me is just hoping that the by-polar team of the past two seasons is gone. If so, I’d say that they won’t be quite as good as the early season Pirates, but not a bad as the late season disaster. Last year, they finished 79-83. This year, I’m predicting 76-86. Why?
I’m not convinced that there’s enough talent around McCutchen. Will Walker and Jones improve? Will Alvarez, Snider, Barmes, and Sanchez hit more than .240? Will Starling Marte increase in average and power? All of that will need to happen. Sure, we’ve upgraded at catcher, but that’s not hard to do considering that Rod Barajas is not even on a roster today.
Pitching is a huge question mark. A. J. Burnett is now 36. The odds are high that his numbers will begin to slip each year at this stage of his career. Some guy named Jonathan Sanchez is our #4 starter, and his ERA last year was over 8.00. That’s 8 runs every 9 innings! Million-dollar babies Cole and Taillon may be an improvement, but I think the Pirates are going to be very cautious with them. We may see them for parts of this year, but that’s about it. And although the bullpen is pretty solid overall, it seems overly optimistic to assume that Grilli will be as effective a closer as Hanrahan was, right out of the gate.
I’m not hoping for bad things, I’m just being realistic. It would be just like the baseball gods for this to be the year the Buccos turn it around, finish above .500, and make the playoffs. I’m just not betting the house on it. And here’s the thing: even if they do come out of the gate like world beaters, it’s going to be hard to get excited about this team until they prove they can win once the “back to school” sales begin. Thus, it really doesn’t matter how they do during the first four months of the season because we don’t know if we can trust it.
We won’t have to wait long to find out if the Pirates have a hot start in them once again. They will face a brutal first month of the season, with series against NL teams like the Dodgers, Reds, Cardinals, Braves, Phillies, and Brewers. I wonder how this city will react if the Pirates’ first month looks more like August or September of the past two seasons. Well, if that does happen, maybe the Pirates’ sales staff will start thinking I’m pretty again. A girl can dream…
Either way, I’m excited that it’s Opening Day. A bad day of baseball is still better than a good day at work.
We’ve taken our carpetbags out of town this weekend. Yes, the Carpetbaggers are in the Velley of the Sun, Phoenix… well, Scottsdale, officially. Just a long weekend, but short enough to let the 3-hour time change really mess with us.
Today was Spring Training baseball. Not ever sure who played. I think it was the Diamondbacks and Athletics. But does it really matter? Plus, it ended in a tie. I’d kiss my sister, if I had one. The ninth inning closed out with the score 2-2 and both teams just said, “Yeah, we’re good. See ya, next time.”
Which begs the question: If a Spring Training baseball game ends in a tie and you are there to see it, did anything just happen? I’m pretty sure the answer is no. But it was great to sit out in 88 degree heat and watch baseball. Even meaningless baseball.
Sunsets are probably our favorite part of going to Arizona. Mrs. Carpetbagger would add sunrises, but homey don’t get up at 5:30 when he’s on vacation. Tonight’s was just another spectacular show on the Salt River Indian Rervation. If you don’t tell we tresspassed, I won’t tell.
All the while, we are wanding around the desert taking pictures of anything not moving like a couple of tourists.
But then, Jean’s new camera/phone takes way better photos than anything I have. And she knows it. And she’s rubbing it in. Here’s one of her shots.
Damn, that’s good.
Until, darkness took over… along with the coyotes and javalinas. And I had time for this last one.
Of course, it’s not a competition. (But if it had been, I would have won.) Okay, maybe not.
Goodnight all. I’m bushed. It’s like 1 AM Pittsburgh time.
I took an inordinate amount of pleasure in flipping over the ol’ wall calendar this morning.
That’s right. Like the Pope, ol’ man winter is getting rickety and frail, and he’ll be quitting in just a few weeks.
February used to be tolerable because my birthday falls right in the middle. Yeah, not so much anymore. Now, I just do a lot of math on my birthdays. How many years ago was that? How old was I when I used to do that? How many years until I’m 70? I used to think that my current age was soooo old. Perspective is a bitch. As is February. (And this during a fairly mild winter!)
Obviously, it’s been a rough week for posting. Partly because of a busy time at work and several evening meetings to attend. Partly because somebody okay’d a 10-day vacation for Mrs. Carpetbagger without considering the implications — mainly, that I’m going a bit nutty by myself for 10 days. Separate vacations? you ask. Trouble in paradise? Hardly. She just has a lot more days available than me right now, and I’m saving up mine for a couple of short trips in March and April.
Jean works in a banking department that processes insurance checks… like when your insurance pays you for something that the bank owns, like a house or a car. The check first goes to the bank, where it gets endorsed to the customer once they are assured that it will be spent on repairs and not on a cruise. Recently, they’ve been inundated with Hurricane Sandy checks. They’ve been so buried that they have created special procedures to expedite the approval process for customers who are desperate and homeless. Jean has become somewhat of a rock star to the New York and New Jersey branches by chasing down vice presidents for approvals while their customers wait in the lobby. She has built relationships with key administrative assistants who allow her to burst into VP offices or interrupt meetings for a signature. Instead of giving foggy answers and vague timelines, Jean gets it done while they wait. They love that.
She has developed such a relationship with some of these branches that she took vacation time to go to Manhattan and the Jersey shore to meet some of the voices she’s been working with. She’s been greeted with somewhat of a hero’s welcome at said branches. Now, she is volunteering at an emergency food pantry near Tom’s River, NJ. Yeah, Jean is not one to go for the lounging-on-a-deck-chair -vacation. She wants to work. She’s in hog heaven.
Here are some of the shots she’s been sending… a house in sorry shape…
A local hotel turned into a Home Depot…
Even the seals are exhausted. Don’t worry; he seems to be okay. Jean called 911 and was told that he was tired and crawled on shore for a nap. The police still posted a sign…
Jean’s hotel. She calls it the Bates Motel. Very deserted…
…but safe. The two employees (clerk and maintenance man) both live at the hotel since their homes are uninhabitable. They are keeping an eye on her.
I have to admit, I was a bit surprised to learn that in many of the towns on the Jersey shore, electricity is still out… for the entire town. Hurricane Sandy hit on October 29… four months ago. Many people are living in their cars. Don’t get me started about the Republicans still complaining about providing disaster relief. You know some of those grouchy codgers are going to be coming to Congress hat in hand later this year when their districts get hit by tornadoes or fall hurricanes.
But enough of that. What’s important is how this affects ME. I’m the one who is talking to myself out loud and freaking out the dog. I’m the one on constant dog walking duty and nursing her through a sore disc in her back. I’m the one who is cooking for one and watching the Oscars by myself. You think a little alone time will be good. And it is… for the first 36 hours or so. Then, you quickly realize that, after nearly 20 years of marriage, you don’t do alone so well anymore. Not for 10 days.
But as I said at the beginning of this rambling post, today is March, with all that brings.
• March Madness. Not sure why I love the tourney so much; I rarely have a favorite team in the tourney. But it is, hands down, my favorite sporting event of the year. Have you noticed how topsy-turvy this basketball season has been? #1s are getting beat every week, it seems. This tourney could be one for the books. I love the frenetic pace and seeing what 20-year-old kids do under pressure. I love the upsets and the Cinderellas. I love filling out brackets, even if it’s just for my own refrigerator.
• Arizona. A trip to Scottsdale for some Spring Training baseball. The Diamondbacks and Rockies built a new ballpark (Salt River Fields at Talking Stick) just a few miles from my parents’ house in Scottsdale. I usually don’t like to travel on the opening week of the NCAAs, but for this, I’ll make an exception. We’ll be sitting on that grassy grandstand in two weeks.
• Turning the clocks ahead. I know, we lose an hour of sleep on March 10. But, we also get an extra hour of daylight in the evenings. No longer will it be dark by the time I get home after work! Woo-hoo.
• Good Friday and Easter… the Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan of the liturgical calendar are in March this year.
• Opening Day. And best of all, one month from today — April 1 — I’ll be heading to PNC Park for the Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.
Can. Not. Wait.
48 more hours as a hermit. I can do this.
Yes, it’s a new post. Stow your disappointment with me and enjoy.
The state of the blog is muddled, my friends. I’m having a bit of an identity crisis lately. I’m not sure what I want this blog to be. But maybe it’s deeper than that. Maybe it’s more about what I want to be spending my time on. What should I be about? What’s my brand, as a friend in marketing would say.
Am I a ranter for liberal political causes?
Am I a stewing crock pot of progressive Christian thoughts?
Am I a social activist?
Am I a music/film/tv/sports/pop culture buff, riffing about the latest trend?
Am I a Pittsburgh yinzer griping about the Pirates or why the city has torn up our street three different times to fix the same spot in a water main?
The answer, at various times and in various posts, has been yes.
And what about tone? It’s pretty hard for me to do anything without adding humor. I’d put jokes in a eulogy, for God sakes. And I like to have a slant on things. I don’t just want to regurgitate the news. Sometimes, however, my slant just seems like an angry old man rant. A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with the guy who does the Pittsburgh Dad videos on You Tube. He said that originally, they put that canned laugh track under the videos because without it, they just seemed to be an angry guy doing a crazed rant. The laugh track softened it. I don’t have a laugh track.
I don’t want to be angry. That’s not me. I’m really an easy-going, let-bygones-be-bygones dude. I’m the Big Lebowski with a job and a wife. Yet, I abide.
So what sets me on edge? I’ve sort of narrowed it down to social media, especially Facebook. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with that. You know how Facebook is. Part of it is people you are close to now; part is people you knew 20 years ago (or more); part is people you can hardly remember but they friended you and why not? I’ve been pretty successful at keeping coworkers out of my Facebook. One slipped through, though. When you work as a manager at a Christian company that is more conservative than you are, I find it best not to cross those streams. Many of my old-acquaintance Facebook friends are people from a church where I used to work in the 90-percent “Red State” enclave that is DuPage County, Illinois. I love these people. But I now find many of their beliefs – and their Facebook posts — to be depressing and offensive.
This is a spoof, but in many ways, it feels all too real.
It would be funny if it weren’t so true. These are good Christian people, but their posts are filled with a love of guns, contempt for the poor (and the programs that serve them), judgment of homosexuals, vile loathing of Obama, and a impetuous buy-in of all things Fox News and Ayn Rand. They seem angry, fearful, and full of resentment for things that are different, and ways in which the world is changing. And these are my friends!
I’m so grateful for my current church and my many friends there who are open-minded, radically accepting of others, and just crazy enough to think that they can change the world. They have kept my hope and faith alive when it was waning. My friend Jim says that his Facebook stream is pretty much just me at this point. He exaggerates, but he says that he has blocked almost everybody else. Is that what I should do? Something in me resists blocking the thoughts of people I disagree with. It seems like a cop-out. But Facebook does not promote rational discussion and interchange. It’s more of a bullhorn, or maybe a super-soaker, of opinionated shouting.
Then, of course, I realize that, most likely, I am the same thing to many of them: an obnoxious, ignorant, and often offensive radical who has lost their faith and gone astray.
Guilty as charged. I know what I should do. I should be able to read their little posts and move on without feeling the need to disagree, refute, or otherwise engage. I should let it go. Write it off. Water off a duck’s back.
But it upsets me when Christians are Pro-Life for fetuses, but care very little about childhood poverty, hunger, and trafficking.
They are incensed about the death of the unborn, but the death of living people to gun violence is simply the cost of living with the freedom of the 2nd Amendment. Toughen up, buttercup.
That’s really an amazing chart. Remember, we started a war against terrorism because of all the people it killed?
Then, my blogging friend Cassie sent me this chart.
But I’m not sure it would have an effect on my right wing friends. Another thing they fully support is war. You won’t see them out protesting for peace, that’s for sure. And that’s the difference between us: I’m offended by both bars on this chart; many of them would probably just shrug their shoulders. Whatever. It sucks to be a statistic. Just don’t raise my taxes or take my guns.
Those are just few examples. There are so many more. So, I get mad and I come to this blog to vent.
Or, I go the other way by choosing to talk about inane things like a movie I saw, a song I heard, or a game I went to.
I’m just not sure it connects with my real life. Maybe it doesn’t have to because real life can be sweet but boring.
Lately, the result of all this has been blockage… the dreaded empty screen. A lack of passion in anything that I haven’t already written about nine times over.
I’m not quitting. Not yet. Although the thought has crossed my mind. I just think I’d miss the outlet.
So help me out. Until my recent lull, I was getting around 250 hits a day. Most, I’m pretty sure, are errant Google searches, but still, it’s been consistent. This week it’s down to about 75. I don’t care at all whether its 50 people or 5,000. Doesn’t make a whit of difference to me. I get paid the same — bupkis. But if you’re out there, why do you stop by? What do you enjoy reading here? What makes you come back? What would you like to read more about here? More local flavor? More political commentary? More musings on faith and such? More pop culture? (Did you hear that O. J. Simpson hosted a Super Bowl party in the Big House?) Or keep it a schizophrenic mix of all the above?
Thanks for the help.
God bless you. And God bless the Internet.
I’m throwing Mrs. Carpetbagger under the bus for this one. She left town for four days and I completely lost all focus and equilibrium. As the Bible says, “It is not good for man to be alone…”, especially when you are married.
I took Monday off because I was sick of everyone else having MKL day off. Thus, for three days, I just sort of wandered around the house, paid some bills, watched some movies, watched some playoff games, watched some hockey, watched the inauguration, did some reading, and took the dog on a few long walks. But in the end, it feels like I got nothing much done. I really should have more to show for four days alone.
The missus had gone off to Chicago to see her nieces, and to have the oldest niece, a stylist trainee with an Avada salon, cut her hair into a new and stylish bob cut. Then, last night around 9:30, she called from somewhere just west of Cleveland. The van was making a funny noise. But since it wasn’t overheating and everything was running, we decided she should continue to go for it. Around 11:15 p.m., I got the call. A belt blew, she lost power steering, and the temperature gauge shot up. She had made it to a Holiday Inn in Beaver Falls. Triple-A was going to tow her to Pittsburgh and I would meet her at the mechanics to transfer all her stuff out of the vehicle. That happened around midnight. Let’s just be grateful that the belt didn’t blow somewhere around Toledo. The tow truck driver, Mark, was very nice. During the 40-minute tow, Jean discovered that he had helped to install the UPMC sign atop the UPMC tower downtown. And he’s afraid of heights.
So, I got to bed just after 1 a.m. and today is sucking eggs.
So, what did I learn over my long weekend?
Safety Not Guaranteed is a quirky and enjoyable flick, especially as part of a double feature with Moonlight Kingdom. That Wes Anderson has a screw loose, I’m telling ya.
Barack Obama is not a perfect president, but I think history will show him to be one of our great presidents for bringing the country back from the economic brink, ending the war in Iraq, raising taxes on the wealthy while sparing the middle class, saving the American auto industry, getting a form of universal health care passed, getting the ball rolling on gun control, modeling an evolving attitude about gay rights, and killing Osama Bin Laden, all while being opposed at every turn by an intransigent opposition party. Sure, there are problems with drones and Guantanamo, and his environmental record is still a work in process, but what he has done considering the situation he took over is remarkable. Plus, his family has to be the most adorable first family ever.
I’m already sick of this Super Bowl, with its Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh angle and the curtain call for Ray Lewis. I don’t even know who to root for. Normally, I might lean toward an underdog like the Ravens. But it’s the Ravens. Normally, I wouldn’t want to see the 49ers tie the Steelers with a 6th ring. Normally, I would root against a city like San Francisco winning both the World Series and the Super Bowl in the same year. And I’m still waiting for someone, anyone, to give Joe Flacco a little freaking credit for being a better quarterback than Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rogers, at least in this post-season. Ah, I can’t decide who to be for. I’ll probably just cheer for a close game. And besides, we better enjoy this year because next year’s game will be outdoors in the Meadowlands. Awesome? Not. Better pick a Canadian for the halftime show. Maybe a Rush / Bryan Adams / Leonard Cohen triple bill.
Okay, I find myself into hockey a little more than normal this year. Settle down. It could pass. But so far, I like how the games have a bit more intensity than early season hockey games usually have. I’m all for a 48-game season every year! Let’s do this! Plus, I love hearing Canadians say the word lock-oot.
I ordered my 10-game Pirate ticket package. Same seats: section 114, row V, on the aisle. I’m not dissuaded by the sorry way last season ended. Overall, they still had about the best record in the past twenty years. They’ve upgraded at catcher. But I’m not sure they have enough power. Pitching is a question mark, as it was last year. We’ll need a new closer to step up. Don’t care about them giving up Hanrahan. $7 mil is too much for a guy who maybe plays 2 or 3 innings a week. I just wish we had gotten more in return. I really have no expectations for this team now, but I’m still looking forward to next year because it’s baseball and they’re our guys. 20-some days until pitchers and catchers report. Yes! It won’t be long… Okay, it will, but eventually…
The New Orleans Hornets basketball team is changing their name. This makes sense since the Hornets came from Charlotte, but it would make more sense if Utah gave the Jazz name back. Seriously, Jazz? in Salt Lake City? When pigs fly. They are going to change to the Pelicans, which is great. But here are the other names they had copyrighted, just in case:
- New Orleans Mosquitoes
- New Orleans Rougarou
- New Orleans Bullsharks
- New Orleans Swamp Dogs
Seriously? We can’t have the Rougarous? I looked it up. It’s not a delicious Cajun dish; it is a mythical swamp creature. Sort of the Cajun version of Big Foot. Pelicans is fine but I think we missed an opportunity here.
So, that’s all I have to show for myself and my four days of solitary confinement. Tonight, life will be back to normal, we’ll see how much a new belt costs, and I’ll be back into my routine.
Life is good.
What a week it’s been for coming clean. Every day, it seems, there is a new blockbuster.
Oprah has got to be pissed. She gets her first “big get” interview since she went off the air. Something that will make people buckle under and finally find out where the damned OWN network is on their cable/satellite system. Then, between the time she tapes the interview and the time it airs a few days later, it gets blown off of the front page by a Hawaiian, Mormon college linebacker and his dead fake girlfriend.
The Te’o saga is still unraveling. I’m not sure anyone really knows what’s what. Maybe not even Te’o himself (unless he truly was in on it.) I’m not going to rehash all the details here. If you haven’t done your pop culture homework before coming here, try catching up. But there are some similarities between Te’o and Armstrong.
1. Both have this Munchausen by Proxy thing going on. There is some kind of need to be pitied and to triumph over it. Only instead of getting your kid sick and basking in the sympathy, Te’o got a fictitious girl sick and Armstrong got himself sick. (By the way, I haven’t heard much speculation about whether or not Armstrong’s use of PEDs may have led to his cancer in the first place.)
2. Both had a cancer element in their story, which both heightened the sympathy and twisted the knife once the deception became apparent.
3. Both got into a symbiotic relationship with the media in promoting the mythical meta-narrative. In both cases, the media became hesitant to fully investigate the stories because they, too, were profiting by promoting the legend to attract ratings.
Of course, Armstrong’s confession was the worst kept secret in the world. Oprah could have coupled the revelation with a blockbuster about how pizza is fattening and Tommy Lee Jones is a curmudgeon.
I’ve got to say that I’ve learned something from this whole farce. I now know what “catfishing” is: someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities. I guess there’s an entire MTV show about it. (Is MTV still a thing?) It usually involves an initial, casual online connection, a developing cyber relationship, a subsequent trauma – traffic accident, illness – and then, a death. As long as there’s no ask for money or anything of value, no real crime has been committed. It’s purely for the sick amusement of the perpetrators.
Deadspin is completely trouncing the mainstream media with their coverage of this. They have followed the leads to people in California, one of whom is someone Te’o has known. Does that mean the guy targeted Te’o? Or was Te’o somehow in on it and it blew up in his face? And even if he was a victim, he still let the media blow the thing up into legendary proportions for a girl that was nothing more than a Twitter/Facebook contact. Like it or not, this thing is going to play out like a slow-motion car accident over the next several days.
Notre Dame says they have done their own investigation and they believe Te’o was a victim. That’s fine. The only red flag is that they are keeping their investigation private and confidential. All they will say is, “It’s fine! Nothing to see here! Look over there, a puppy!”
Manti will be fine as long as he logs decent 40-times and bench presses at the combines. He has plenty of time to rehearse his story for the team interviews. But, if Te’o was involved in the hoax from the beginning, if Notre Dame knows that and is covering it up, if they learned nothing from the travails of Penn State, then they deserve all the condemnation they will get.
And in the end, do you really care about any of it? Do you care about whether a cyclist doped? (Well, maybe we care about all the lives he ruined in covering it up.) Do you really care if Manti Te’o made up a fake dying girlfriend, or that he allowed the legend to be created after being “catfished” into caring for a girl he’d never met? Do you care that the new Internet meme is Te’oing with your fake girlfriend?
I really don’t think we care. But let’s face it, it can be a welcome distraction from the constant depressing barrage of gun debates, debt ceiling warnings, and Syrian war atrocities.