Monthly Archives: August 2008

WHY I WATCH THE OLYMPICS


Top photo is the Spanish tennis team. Bottom photo is the Spanish basketball team. Spanish fans are also notorious for making monkey noises at black soccer players. But it’s OK; apparently it’s just “cultural” and not racist. Thanks for clearing that up Pau Gasol!

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WHY I DON’T WATCH THE OLYMPICS

Expecting a rant? How about some pictures?

guest post!

From my cousin Paul in Kansas City. Apparently the woeful Kansas City Royals tried to drum up attendance with a ‘Christian Family Day’. Before you ask, yes, yes–Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato from Veggie Tales *will* be there.

Here’s Paul’s take on the event. Oh, and this is posted without his consent. Sue me, cuz.

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Royals announce follow-ups to “Christian Family Night”

To overcome the limitations of a “small-market team,” the Kansas City Royals have announced plans to use religion to try and crack some major markets in the world’s population centers. The final home series of the year, against the Chicago White Sox, will include Hindu Spouse-Selection Night. Package deals are being sold throughout India and, by all accounts, the stadium will be filled, as will small, independently owned motels throughout the Midwest.

Baseball people haven’t managed to get their game into the Olympics, but the Royals will be well-represented in Beijing later this month nevertheless, as they make final arrangements for Two Children Only Weekend, Sept. 5-7 against the Cleveland Indians.

Despite its restrictions on family size, China remains the world’s biggest market, and the Royals will offer a variety of promotions during that series with the Indians.
Friday Sept. 5 will be Arranged-Adoption night. Families who give up a child to an adoptive family within the Royals Home Market region will receive two round-trip tickets from anywhere in China, two tickets to the game, and $40,000 under the table.

Saturday Sept. 6 will be abortion day. Families in China who choose to kill one of their children before its born will receive leftovers from T-Shirt Tuesdays throughout the season and an autographed, framed photo of Phill Kline. In addition, they will receive Buy One, Get One Free Certificates for any future Royals home game.

On Sunday Sept. 7, the Royals will recognize China’s recent evolution from strict communism to a Godless authoritarian capitalistic system. This has been timed to coincide with the “Bodies Revealed” display leaving Kansas City after its run at Union Station. The “Bodies Revealed” show will be set up throughout Club Level concourses, where the displays can be enjoyed by fans 12 and under before and after the game. (Counseling will be available to tykes who find the program disturbing.)

Jay Ziegler

I’ve never been to a playoff game. (I went to a hockey playoff game in the late ’80s, but hockey doesn’t count, because no one cares.)

Baseball is my favorite of the major sports, and I have yet to see a playoff game. I’ve had plenty of opportunities, geographically: Oakland in 1981 (with my favorite player of all time Rickey Henderson), St. Louis in 1985 and 1987 (with my other favorite player of all time, Willie McGee), and then New York in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, etc. etc. In 2006 when my Cardinals won the World Series I was offered free tickets in St. Louis — all I had to do was get my ass out there. But ultimately I would’ve ended up watching the game with St. Louisans who were strangers. Instead I chose (correctly) to watch them win with the same New York-based Cardinals fans who I had drenched in champagne after knocking off the Mets two weeks earlier.

Outside of watching your team win playoff games, baseball, more than any other sport, celebrates records being broken. When McGwire, Sosa and later Bonds challenged the home run record, every at bat was live on ESPN. Anytime someone approaches a perfect game, there’s an energy that completely overtakes the outcome of the game.

I remember when Dwight Gooden threw a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium in the mid-90’s. The Yankees had sucked for over a decade, and it was a milestone. The only game I ever attended that was close to meaningful was as a kid in 1982, where Rickey Henderson was four stolen bases away from breaking the single-season record. He stole 3 in the first two innings, and for the rest of the game, the crowd was electric. They wanted to see history.

Late in the game, Rickey got on first base again. You would’ve thought Michael Jackson had come out into the stadium (remember, this is 1982), and the whole crowd wanted to see him tie the record. It was a blur to me — Rickey took off for second, got thrown out, probably by a country mile, but the fans wouldn’t hear it. Rickey was in Oakland and he was *safe*.

For the next 30 minutes I heard 35,000+ people chant BULLSHIT-BULLSHIT. As a 10-year old, that’s incendiary. I hadn’t even seen Animal House yet.

After the game, it was customary for A’s fans to come out to the player’s parking lot and sign autographs, and there were hundreds and hundreds of people screaming for Rickey Henderson. I know athletes are considered A+ celebrities in 2008, but in 1982 it wasn’t the case. And I forgive my father for never taking me to a playoff game after agreeing to wait behind the stadium for two hours for Rickey’s emergence.

It turns out that they brought Rickey back on to the field, drove him across the diamond, and had his ghetto-ass sports car waiting for him on the other end. I don’t know how word got around, but there would be no Rickey.

It doesn’t matter who’s winning or losing at games like that. I have no idea who won that game. It’s true of every sport that when games truly matter, the energy is in the finish. But that’s one of the things that makes baseball such an incredible sport — there are so many other moments that carry weight and significance.

Right now, there’s a pitcher on the Oakland A’s named Jay Ziegler. He’s 28 years old, drafted in the 31st round. He’s a nobody, and was never supposed to be particularly good. When he was 23 and in the minor leagues, a line drive smacked off his head and fractured his skull. His doctor told him never to pitch again.

Four years later, he was just playing catch before a game, or during a workout, and someone ran in front of the ball, tipped it, and it hit his skull and fractured it *again*. That’s freak, struck-by-lightning while getting shark-attacked odds. But he came back from both of those, and joined the A’s last year.

Since he’s joined them, he’s pitched 30 innings. And he has not given up a single run. By doing so, he broke a 100-year old record. And it’s still going.

This weekend the mediocre A’s are playing the Red Sox in Boston, the most rabid baseball crowd I’ve ever witnessed. To walk out into storied Fenway Park as the enemy, and to have accomplished something that hasn’t been done in 100 years is off the map.

This is why I love baseball.