Friday, July 3, 2009

Damn the Hessians, an Independence Day Update

As the summer chugs along into our Fourth of July celebration over the British Empire and her unstoppable Hessian legions allowing us our own football code, Northwestern football is still laying dormant and preparing to liberate the Big Ten title.

Fist-pumping across the Delaware in order to ham-handedly desecrate famous paintings

The Hessian soldiers that fought in the American revolution were a mixed bag. Some were subjects of George III, who retained the title of Elector of Hanover and therefore shared with all four George monarchs the ability to call upon German troops to fight their dirty imperialist wars (the title did not carry to Queen Victoria, as women could not serve as Electors of Hanover; Hanover lost its independence shortly after as part of the German Unification). Other troops came on loan from other German aristocrats, who eagerly sent their paupers, petty criminals, and press gang victims over to the American colonies.

A group of Hessian reeanctors draw the short straw at the reenactment lottery.
The uniform of the Hessian soldier is the inspiration behind the popular
Revolutionary War slogan "Do not fire until you see the reflection of their
giant golden party hats"

Corey Wootton was named to the Playboy Preseason All-American team. It's good to see Wootton recognized for his excellent season last year, and although the proliferation of sponsored college football awards has rendered them a less meaningful as corporations turn out a chum of sponsored watch lists covering approximately 38 percent of all college football players, this particular award can fortunately be taken advantage of as a thin justification for running this wonderful picture:

Hugh Hefner showing off the cravat, puma, and femme fatale henchmen he
purchased from the 1970 Bond Villain skymall catalog


Though interleague play has finished, the Cubs and Sox still have a game to make up, which could be a factor since both teams are still afloat in their crappy divisions. One of the players always in the mix during the series is White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who remains despised by Cubs fans largely because Michael Barrett inexplicably decided to introduce his knuckles to his face several years ago. Pierzynski is not a popular player around baseball; he left both Minnesota and San Francisco on somewhat bitter notes (this article is full of classic baseball post-trade character assassination by nameless Giants players who accused him of being a "cancer in the clubhouse" and accused him of continuing to play cards instead of going over hitters with Brett Tomko in the grand baseball tradition of innuendo about playing cards in the clubhouse undoing a player's repuatation).

Pierzynski gets a lot of negative attention from fans because he has a reputation of a provacateur, and his face defaults to the "who, me?" expression of an Edwardian public school boy caught red-handed going slightly too far with one of their homoerotic flogging rituals. Most of his antics, however, are simply an attempt to squeeze every possible advantage out of baseball's occasionally arcane rules. His greatest feat was getting on base through the dubious application of the dropped third strike rule against Anaheim in the 2005 ALCS (by immediately bolting to first, he put the onus on the befuddled umpire to decide whether it was indeed a dropped third strike). Last year, he convinced the same umpire to call him safe after drawing a shady interference call by falling down and letting Willy Aybar sort of bump into him as the Sox announcing crew work themselves into a Pravda-style lather. My favorite Pierzynski antic is his automatic appeal to the first or third-base umpire on any checked swing. In essense, on a checked swing, he now catches the ball and points to the ump in a single fluid motion.

Pierzynski in a state of nature

These sorts of antics, however, are pretty much harmless. Pierzynski has a decent bat for a catcher (he has a career OPS of .754; last year, league average for MLB catchers was .715-- I assumed he had better numbers than that because I see him mostly against the Cubs, when he carries an .832 OPS for his Cub killing resumé) and augments that with a roguish attempt to get an extra call here and there, certainly nothing to cause a cascade of boos upon his person. If you must hate A.J., you can hate him for somehow getting involved with professional wrestling while displaying an acting ability that even for wrestling is shocking. Fortunately, Ozzie steals the show by hitting a guy with a chair (evidently something that happens in an alarming frequency in pro wrestling matches along with the announcer referring to a villainous woman as a "jezebel.") In fairness, Alfonso Soriano had his own run-in with a pro-wrestling antagonist that involves him reacting to the interminable yakking of some guy in a glitter hat with the mixture of confusion and indignation that comes with not being aware that attending a professional wrestling event might mean getting yelled at by a guy in a glitter hat (I don't follow wrestling, so I have no idea what Glitter Hat is on about, although I admire that the telecast game him more screen time than Meet the Press would allow for Rep. Ron Paul to rant about fiat gold).


The U.S. put on an admirable display in the Confederations Cup, overcoming two embarrassing losses at the hands of Italy and Brazil and qualifying due to an improbable combination of a 3-0 defeat of Egpyt and a 3-0 trouncing of Italy by Brazil. Despite the euphoria of playing world-class soccer for 135 minutes, ending Spain's undefeated streak and leading Brazil 2-0 at the half, the U.S. came up short in its bid to win its first major international tournament. True, the Confederations Cup is not the most prestigious tournament in the world (it started as the King Fahd Cup as a showcase for the Saudi Arabian team), but Spain and Brazil both played almost all of their regulars.

Now the U.S. moves onto the Gold Cup, which they won in 2007 thanks to this fantastic goal by BYCTOM favorite Benny "The Jet" Feilhaber against Mexico at Soldier Field. The U.S. is sending out its "B" team to this year's Cup, along with many other CONCACAF sides (with the exception of Costa Rica), but will be anchored by veterans Brian Ching and Steve Cherundolo and give Freddy Adu watchers something to get excited about.

The U.S. goes up against Grenada on the fourth, and the former British Crown Colony forfeited upon independence the ability to recruit German mercenaries like Michael Ballack, future Luc Besson movie villain Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Oliver Kahn, the frightening half-ape version of Klaus Kinski.

A German experiment goes horribly wrong

Grenada has been a place where Europeans have come to plunder spices in the Western Hemisphere for hundreds of years-- first the French, then the British after the Seven Years War. It briefly was a member of the short-lived West Indies Federation, a Commonwealth organization dominated by Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Trinidad and Tobago's Eric Williams and Grenada's Sir Eric Gairy

Grenada's official website provides a host of important information, such as that the flag contains a nutmeg which "signifies that Grenada is one of the world's largest producers of nutmeg," an excellent flag design strategy of getting straight to cash crops that I wholeheartedly endorse instead of flogging around with abstract symbol bullshit. The site also creates a mystery around what visitors can eventually expect from the Fish Friday page that could possibly surpass what is already there.

Enjoy your weekend by watching the Cubs battle the insolent, shirt-untucking Brewers, jingoistically lashing out against the good people of Grenada, and ordering man-apes from the James Bond villain catalog. Of course, it wouldn't be Independence Day without a gratuitious Jeff Goldblum mention, so here's an article about him being needlessly weird on Law and Order: Criminal Intent or unexpectedly not dead.

No comments: