The title for today’s entry comes from a saying attributed to Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks who played for the Chicago Cubs (a.k.a. The Lovable Losers). Back in my hometown Chicago, I used to love this team, in particular the 1984 incarnation that featured future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, Larry Bowa, Leon Durham, and my favorite player, catcher Jody Davis, who always seemed ready to hit a grand slam while the Old Style crowd chanted “JO-DEE! JO-DEE!”
But as I grew older, my infatuation for the Cubs–and baseball in general–faded, as I came to an unescapable realization.
By and large, baseball players are assholes.
Now JOAM is a friendly blog, but I speak from experience. While I never got a wedgie from a baseball player of them in high school or college, I never found my self rooting for my alma mater’s team except on the most detached level. To wit:
“The Gators are in the College World Series? That’s cool. I hope they win. Oh they lost in the finals? Oh well.”
As athletes, no other team sport prizes selfishness more. Yes, you have to work together on defense, but when you are at bat, its all about your stats. And I don’t know if it is chafing in their polyester uniforms, but they are the surliest bunch of tobacco-chewing boys you’ll ever meet around the keg on a Friday night.
Of course, here is where I insert a qualifier, “Some of my best friends used to play baseball” or “Field of Dreams is one of the best sports films of all time” or “Singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame is an American treasure.” All these are true, and of course there are exceptions, but it doesn’t change the fact that under certain conditions (evening, or perhaps daytime), even modest individuals are tempted to punch these macho athletes in the face (if they do not strike first, that is).
This week’s L2MUT Headline comes from ESPN, examining the repercussions of Moneyball. Even though I’m no longer a fan, Moneyball is a fascinating look at thinking outside of collective wisdom to gain an edge. A part of the Outside the Lines features, this column is a bit long, but print it out next time you do a number 2 at work and time will fly. If you are a fan of Malcolm Gladwell books, then you will probably love Moneyball. Also, Brad Pitt is reportedly signed on to star in a movie based on this book, so if you hurry up and read it now, you can better prepare yourself to give the snooty remark: “Yeah, but the book was so much better” .
(If you are still in the mood to read about sports after that, check out this profile of Roger Federer if you haven’t yet, written by the late, great David Foster Wallace about an athlete who (by all accounts) doesn’t possess an asshole bone in his body…unless you want to be pedantic and count his coccyx.)
You know another country crazy about baseball? No, not Thailand. Japan! Frequent JOAM reader Mercury Mike sent us this link, a heart-warming, spine-tingling tale about 2-D Love. About a boy who is deeply in love. With a cartoon character. On his pillowcase.
When I joined the couple for lunch at their favorite all-you-can-eat salad bar in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji, he insisted on being called only by this new nickname, addressing his body-pillow girlfriend using the suffix “tan” to show how much he adored her. Nemutan is 10, maybe 12 years old and wears a little blue bikini and gold ribbons in her hair. Nisan knows she’s not real, but that hasn’t stopped him from loving her just the same. “Of course she’s my girlfriend,” he said, widening his eyes as if shocked by the question. “I have real feelings for her.”
To each his own, I say. Just like it would be wrong of me to broadly characterize a whole subset of athletes as boorish (Did I? That was soooo ten minutes ago…an eon in the Twitterverse!) it would unfair to assume all Japanese are any more kinky than other cultures based on this one profile. But just be careful of where you sleep when staying at the home of a manga otaku friend. You just might wake up with a two-timing duvet.
I’m off to Samui for work this weekend, supervising a fashion shoot for my magazine. It is not nearly as fun as it sounds, trying to cajole two girls who barely know each other to kiss each other on the mouth without ruining the expensive borrowed costumes with stray saliva. In the evening, I shall retire to my room, alone with my Sailor Moon body pillow, and scour the web for more gems for you, loyal reader.