Friday, July 31, 2009

Wrigley Game

The possibility of a Northwestern-Illinois game at Wrigley Field heated up this week as Chicago Cubs president Crane Kennedy met with officials from both schools. According to this Sun-Times article, Coach Fitz remains hesitant about giving up a home game in front of what will certainly be an overwhelmingly pro-Illinois crowd.

Wrigley set up for Bears football-- the padding on the ivy gives it the feel of some sort of
jungle based arena league where you don't just play football but hunt the
ultimate prey: man

The argument about giving up a home game on the surface has merit, but on the other hand a decent Illinois team traditionally draws a crowd that dwarfs or at best matches the mustering of Wildcat fans at Ryan Field. More importantly, the Illinois-Northwestern rivalry is traditionally the worst rivalry in college football. A game at the Friendly Confines will surely provide the morale-boosting taunting, shouting, and potential drunken donnybrooks that will fuel this rivalry for years to come. More importantly, the game will attract both local and national attention to Northwestern football which may even distract from a media-created snit between Bears players rumored to equate teammates with various female genitalia. Giving up a home game is one of two ways to focus attention on the Land of Lincoln Trophy (the other involves dressing both coaches as Lincoln with Zook assuming the presidential beard and stovepipe hat look and Fitz as the younger clean-shaven Lincoln fist-pumping Stephen Douglas into a tiny submission).

A Wrigley Field game would give the Illinois-Northwestern game the cachet
and excitement depicted on this 1927 poster found at this blog full of vintage
football posters, including a 1936 clash between the Wildcats and the
Prisoner of Zenda


This week, another bombshell broke in the never-ending national dirge about steroids in baseball as investigative reporters continued to name names and columnists began orgasmically quaking with moral outrage. The last round several rounds of outings have been spectacularly underhanded as players who thought they were submitting to anonymous tests have been ambushed by the pointed finger of the media. On the one hand, the test results continously demonstrate that the steroid problem has been endemic and that there absolutely nothing that anyone can do about it. On the other hand, it looks like it will continue providing hilarity as names continue to get leaked and eventually the steroid train gains enough momentum to crash resoundingly into the baseball's fortress of stodgy overreaction in the Hall of Fame.

The BBWA examines the credentials of a steroid-era player

The steroid scandal has pretty much everything one can hope for in a sports scandal: a posse of high horses riding out from major metropolitan newspapers, inevitable "what about the children" backlash, and the wonderful side effect that steroids occasionally made players develop comically swollen heads that has turned baseball fans into amateur phrenologists. The best part involves a player high-handedly denouncing steroid users before inevitably getting caught red-handed, like a bear reaching into a trap filled with salmon that would make it larger and more dangerously omniverous.

Rafael Palmeiro's "Never. Ever. Period." speech was the highlight of grandstanding
leading to invitable guilt, whereas Sosa attempted to make language learning a fun
adventure. According to this site, the text on Palmeiro's poster says: "Capital: I will
crush Soviet Russia in my fist!/But it only clenches its fist in impotent anger!"

Although one could probably become exhausted from the way that the steroid scandal is being played out in its predictable pattern of a leaked list, accusations, denouncements, tearing of the hair over the sacred history of a game marked by spitballing, sign-stealing, fake handshakes, trick mustaches, brawls, intentional vigilante beanings, segregation, Dominican birth certificates, and constant crotch manipulation in full view of polite society, the scandal has provided some bizarre sideshows. Take, for example, ex-White Sox pitcher Jim Parque's astounding 3,139-word confession to taking HGH printed in the Sun-Times last week. To say that Parque emerged from the shadows of anonymity granted to middle of the order pitchers is an understatement-- he tobaganned down from a Himalayan yurt of anonymity to a series of canoes, hand cars, dirigibles, and other obscure modes of transport in order to spray his mea culpa across the pages of a semi-reputable daily newspaper. In order to capture the full breadth of Parque's confession, I'll be placing it next to passages from Bukharin's confession of crimes against the Soviet state from his 1937 show trial:

Parque: I know that in admitting to this, I am a cheater, a villain and nothing more than a drug user in the eyes of the media and some fans.

Bukharin: I first of all wish to concentrate on my own theoretical anti-Leninist and anti-Marxist errors, in order to give a clear, general theoretical basis for the following exposition and in order not to repeat myself in my consideration of individual questions.

Parque: It was the sixth inning. There were two outs, and John Olerud was up. I had retired the last nine batters I had faced and was on my way to securing a Chicago victory. I threw a slider, striking him out looking, but I felt a pop in my left shoulder.

Bukharin: The substitution of dialectical flexibility and of the greatest degree of concreteness by abstract schemas of a renovated “theory of equilibrium”, with all assurances of mobile equilibrium, in reality meant a fixation on dead abstraction and stasis that hindered me from seeing the concrete changes in all of their multifarious and complex interweaving of appearances.

Parque: So, Kenny, as I have stated personally to you, I publicly apologize for putting you through what I did, mainly because you were the one responsible for giving me a chance. Your ability to separate the personal relationship we shared from business is a testament to why the White Sox won a World Series and have continued to be productive.

Bukharin: According to this notion the main road, the highway to the development of socialism in the countryside lay not through the productive unification of peasant households, but through a process of management, through attracting them by the market, by cooperation in trade, credit, the banking system, etc., during which the “kulak nests” would peacefully grow into socialism. In this way the most important question of the relationship between the proletariat and the peasantry was treated by me in a fundamentally incorrect manner.

Parque: Work harder, you say? Take vitamins and get in better shape? Did it, and I was rewarded with pathetic Triple-A stats, a fastball now in the low 80s and an average high school curveball.

Bukharin: Thus I was already beginning to create for myself cadres for the following struggle with the Party leadership headed by Stalin. In place were special ideological formulations, people, and their consolidation. The sense of closedness, fractional loyalty, conceitedness, anti-Party talks about Stalin’s supposedly low theoretical level, petty criticism, gossip and anecdotes about the leadership of the Party were made more serious by the fact that I, in a criminal manner, initiated the nucleus of this fraction to all the most intimate affairs of the Party leadership, acquainted this nucleus with secret Party documents of the CC, Politburo, Executive Committee and Presidium of the Comintern; I praised these young people and thereby corrupted them politically, sowed the seeds that would bring their own criminal fruit

Parque: I prided myself on working hard every day, eating properly and taking care of my body. For those of you who think otherwise, have you ever seen me in person? I stand 5-11 and weigh 185 pounds. I graduated high school at 5-5, 132 pounds. I looked like William Hung, another reason I spent many a dateless night in high school.

Bukharin: We gathered all possible information about the opposition to collectivization, about the various manifestations of peasant dissatisfaction, about the slaughter of farm animals, about the lack of bread, about the growth of price inflation, about various economic paradoxes (this was called “the economy rearing up”), we carefully gathered together facts such as that wagon-drivers were feeding their horses with baked bread because that was cheaper, etc. without end.

Jim Parque, mediocre baseball starter. Nikolia Bukharin, Bolshevik theorist,
communist fashion icon

Steroids in baseball are bound to continue popping up for quite some time. And, as each predictable revelation begets another round of breast-beating from baseball's self-proclaimed guardians, hopefully the Jim Parques of the world will come out of the woodwork and throw a monkey wrench in the proceedings until I get my wish of a Hércule-Poirot style j'accuse from one prominent player to another, igniting a hilarious Jose Mesa/Omar Vizquel-style blood feud that in the best of possible worlds involves Kyle Farnworth, leading to my surefire money-making scheme.

1 comment:

Matt said...

How is the tag "The Ultimate Prey: Man" only been used once on this blog, that seems impossible.