Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick Takes - Secret Santa, psychosis, and sports!

I'm very glad you're alive.

I received a mystery gift on my desk today. It's not a small gift, either. It's quite larger than most gifts I receive. But I have to admit, I'm afraid to open it. Not because I want to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in my heart by waiting until Dec. 25th to open it. No. I'm more afraid that it's some sort of mail bomb, left by a mortal enemy who thought a finely-wrapped present would be a brilliant way to blow my face off. It's got hand-curled ribbons, people. If that doesn't say crazy I don't know what does.

I'll probably just have some holiday beer and open it later.

That reminds me of a weird story, about a "fan" who tried to kill Bjork. I can't fathom why anyone would want to kill Bjork -- she's an Icelandic fairy princess sent from the netherworlds to ease us into death with her haunting music -- but one particular fan thought it would be a great idea to mail her an acid-spraying bomb and end her musical career/life. He filmed himself making the bomb, filmed himself mailing the bomb, which I bet was the least-riveting part of his one-man documentary, and then he filmed himself blowing his brains out with a gun. A happy ending for all. Of course, the police intercepted the acid-spraying bomb and saved Bjork from an untimely death, which is awesome of the police to have done (Biophilia ruled). But what brings so-called "fans" to try to murder the people they love? And why doesn't that type of stuff happen very often in sports?

I'm not calling for it to start, obviously; I'm thrilled that crazy people seem to avoid sporting events, but outside of a few rare instances (like the Iraqi football player who was shot and killed on the field a couple years ago by an incensed "fan" after missing a crucial penalty), the crazies have left sports alone. Maybe it's because athletes, while otherworldly in physical traits, don't make the type of mental and emotional impact on people that musicians and artists do. When you watch an athlete, you're watching someone do something physically extraordinary. When you watch a musician or an artist, you're watching someone create. And while those two lines can blur with especially gifted athletes (Michael Jordan comes to mind), athletes are usually following a script more than writing one. They're fulfilling the strategies of their coaches, they're fulfilling the promise of their physical skills. I don't want to discredit athletes with this discussion either; athletes are incredibly creative and exploratory within their sports, and in order to transcend into "greatness" they have to tap into the emotional collective of the fanbase and their peers, but artists connect with people and people connect with artists on a different level. Whereas in sports, people connect with teams, and occasionally players, but more for the joy of watching them perform exceptional feats than for what they do to inspire and intrigue.

  • The Texas Rangers have won the negotiating rights to Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish after posting a winning bid of $51.7 million. The Rangers will now have 30 days to sign Darvish to an MLB contract, or they'll get their money back and Darvish will go back to Japan. Damn. That's a lot of money. The Rangers said they didn't want to start out the bidding by "insulting" Darvish and his Japanese Club, The Nippon Ham Fighters (who I assume have some sort of pig mascot ...), by posting a bid lower than what the Red Sox paid in the Daisuke Matsuzaka sweepstakes years ago, but, come on people, it's baseball! Isn't there something better we could do for Japan than give one of their baseball clubs $50 million? There's still a ton of clean-up left to do from the earthquake and tsunami; what if the Rangers had made a bid of $25 million to NPHF (Neil Patrick Harris' Fighters) with a promise to donate the other $25 million they would've paid for Darvish's services to a tsunami relief fund? Did I just blow your minds?
  • A transformer blew at Candlestick Park last night, just minutes before the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers was set to start, and it left both fans and players in the dark. The players, however, were in the locker room, which prompted a delightful question and response between a member of the media and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Media: "Coach, what was it like in the locker room [after the lights went out]?" Harbaugh: "... It was dark."
  • And people wonder why the newspaper industry collapsed.
  • If you're wondering if there's such a thing as the East Coast Bias, this morning, the day after the 49ers routed the nation's beloved Steelers 20-3 in prime time, ESPN talking heads were still debating whether or not the Steelers are Super Bowl favorites (or at least in the top three after Green Bay and New Orleans). I think an NFC West team could win the Super Bowl and national broadcasters would still be arguing about how much better the AFC East is.
  • I was listening to the radio last night, and the local sports station, 710 ESPN, had their "Hot Stove League Show" on, where they were discussing everything under the sun (rain?) about the Seattle Mariners. When they got to Franklin Gutierrez, the light-hitting/great-defending center fielder for the Mariners, they decided that if Gutierrez can hit "12-15 homeruns with a .260 batting average" next year, then he'll be a top player for the team and worthy of a contract extension. Those of you outside of Seattle who are reading this probably just did a double-take ("Is that for a whole season?"), but things have gotten so bad here offensively that, when I heard it the first time, my reaction was, "Fifteen homeruns would be AMAZING!" Good thing we've spent all winter beefing up that offense.
  • Jimmy Rollins apparently turned down more money from the Milwaukee Brewers to stay with the Philadelphia Phillies: "You have to take everything in consideration when you've been somewhere since you were 17. To go somewhere new, at this part of my career, you feel like a rented player because you weren't part of the process of building the team up. From the first day I got here in the big leagues, it was about making this team a contender and then a champion. Those things have been accomplished, the champion part not as often as I would've liked. Obviously, when money is on the table, and it's guaranteed, it's tempting. But you think of everything else that you've done and what you will be able to do going forward and where it makes sense for you to do those things." ... Albert Pujols does not compute.

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