Friday, March 11, 2005

Music On The Turf, and Wars Writ Small


This is the most boring part of the sports year known to man. At least, if not known to man, known to me.

No football except the depressing "releasing Troy Brown" kind.
Baseball is far enough away from opening day to not have anything really significant going on, especially on a lucky and well-managed team such as the Sox where there are little, if any, serious roster questions going on. Yet, it's been long enough after pitchers and catchers to allow some of the glow to wear off. I love Dave McCarty, and I'm glad that it seems like he has a shot to make the 25-man, but I need more than that. So much that I'm really contemplating going down to Legends Field during the next Sox-Yankees tilt and starting a fight, just for the fun of it. "Hey Sheffield, Clement said your mother wears army boots!"

"But there's NCAA Mar-"
Don't. Just, don't.
I tried. I swear I have tried.
I have listened to the BC Eagles on the radio.
I have sat down and tried to watch NBA and college games on ESPN.
Hell, basketball is the one sport in which the Ivy League has even a shred of credibility, so you would think I could have gotten into it by following the Crimson.
But I just can't get into basketball.

Sure, I can enjoy the occasional buzzer-beater, or awesome looking alley-oop, or absolutely impossible dunk. I can appreciate the sport on an aesthetic level, and if I end up in sports journalism, I could probably cover a game competently.I can understand why people like it.

But it doesn't grab me the way that baseball or football does.

For one thing, it doesn't have the rhythm that those two sports do. Sure, it has a rhythm, but it's more like pop music, or easy listening. Sure it doesn't have the long pauses of baseball or football; yes I know, it has timeouts, but that's nothing like the half-innnings or the offense coming on the field.

Basketball doesn't have those long rests, but that means it also doesn't have the musical dynamics of baseball or football. It doesn't have the crescendoes of a long flyball, or the Hail Mary pass. It doesn't have the doesn't have the rough pizzicato of a defensive tackle, or the sudden chord of a well-pitched strikeout.

Also, and not to sound elitist or arrogant, it just seems too easy to me. Not that draining a 3 doesn't take tremendous skill, because I know it does. While basketball is a fencing match, football and baseball are really wars writ small.
I know it's an overused metaphor, but it's true. In football, you fight for every. single. yard.That's why you get 4 downs, because it is ( when done right) just that hard. And even when you do everything perfectly, sometimes it still doesn't work.

I hear the skeptics pipe up, "Well, yeah, but baseball's not like that." Watch a baseball game sometime, why don't you.
There isn't the obvious front, the line of scrimmage, to be sure. Yet, if you really watch a baseball game, there's a hundred different possible battles going on at once. The pitcher against the batter. The pitcher and the catcher against the baserunner. Most days, the pitcher against himself. The outfielder against the batter. The infielder against the runner sliding into second trying to break up a DP. The outfielder against the wind, the dome, and the idiots in the stands reaching out for a fly. And then there's the overall battle of sheer physical and mental will, which becomes especially apparent in extra-inning games. You don't think baseball can be brutally exhausting? Go back and look at Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada after Game 5.

Maybe I'll change my mind some day. It could happen. But for now, basketball just can't seem to give me the excruciating lows, and exquisite highs that baseball and footbal can.The anticipation. The emotion. Basketball is too fast, it's too casual, it's too unsatisfying. It'll never give me what I've gotten from baseball and football. The breath held while each deep 40-yarder spirals perfectly through the air towards the end zone. That sublime but beautiful terror that comes on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and 2 out. I experienced the pinnacle of that kind of emotion on October 20th, and October 27th, 2004, and while I may never feel like that again, at least I know it's a possibility. And that's what I love about it.


I'd like to update you all on the status of Rodney Harrison.
He had been whining heartily about the lack of sunlight and fresh air in my coat closet.
And I understand that being an athlete, he should be allowed to go out and play once in a while.
So, I relented. but only let him go out if he would go out in disguise, to fool the Belichick minions.
And he could only go to somewhere outside the continental US, because Belichick is just that wily.

From Rodney Harrison, bad-ass safety, to Rodney Harrison, bad-ass NFL Europe back judge.

I loved this comment from the beat writer of the article, Jeremy Solomon:

Rodney Harrison -- one of the most heavily fined players in the game thanks to his aggressive meetings with pass catchers -- passing judgment on defensive players' hits? (That sound you hear is the collective shriek of NFL receivers.)

Seriously though, it would be really fun down the line to see Rodney blowing the heck out his whistle at defensive backs' tackles. If only because you know he'll take 'em aside after the game and teach them how to do it with more style and class.