Saturday, November 9, 2019

On Getting Insanely Mad

Good grief.

Northwestern has struggled to move the ball.  As of this writing, just before kickoff of the Purdue game, it has been 35 days since they have scored a touchdown, or approximately 1.5 Tours de France.  A rider can complete the entire Tour, climbing in agony, evading international drugs monitors, swerving around crashes and the cars and the weirdo fans that are allowed to essentially be steps from the road and even get into a heated dispute with another rider and square up to fight him with the awkward pigeon-toed click of the bicycle shoes and then do it all halfway again and the Wildcats are still maybe getting off a field goal.

So Pat Fitzgerald got mad. He got mad because a late hit injured his quarterback, because an almost impossible series of interference penalties kept giving the Hoosiers the ball at the two yard line, because Northwestern has scored a single touchdown in the months of October and November combined and because after every game he as to go in front of a gaggle of reporters some of whom are recording him on their FUCKING CELL PHONES to explain why the defending conference champions are getting repeatedly rampaged upon and because people on the internet are threatening citizen’s arrests on the offensive coordinator and because the insane high-wire act that Northwestern has maintained season after season to keep beating teams by three points and a dozen punts that sent them to bowl after bowl and even to the Big Ten Championship has crashed horrifically and because I imagine that any person insane enough to coach a college football team finds it extremely fun to just chew the ass off of a referee.
I’ve long been fascinated by the spectacle of sports coaches losing their shit because it is a rare and incredible thing to see a person get that apocalyptically mad. If you see a person screaming at the top of his or her lungs in public, vibrating in anger, and shrieking at someone else, something horrible and disturbing is probably unfolding. If it happens at a sports game, you hoot and holler and clap because we’ve decided that there are two types of people who get to have another adult scream two inches from their face and that is professional sports officials and guests on the Jerry Springer show.

Different sports have different insane coach aesthetics. Football coaches, who tend to be box-shaped, have a sort of snorting bull feeling; they often, no matter how old and ensphered by nights of takeout while watching film they have become, still manage to have a few veins that can burst out of their neck like a grimacing 1990s comic book character.  The most aesthetically pleasing angry football coach remains South Carolina’s Will Muschamp who comes the closest a human has ever had to having a cartoon train whistle tooting at people when he screams at them. Jim Harbaugh is the most effective whole body screamer who tends to contort and shrivel with the grace and elan of one of those dancing car dealership balloons.
Victor Fleming tells the Wicked Witch that her melting scene is a "a little big"

Basketball coaches screaming at people have a little bit more grace and dignity because they are wearing suits. They look either like rumpled television detectives who need to be restrained from attacking a suspect who has taunted them by leaving a beguiling series of clues at the scene or a Business Asshole who is rampaging around an airport terminal after being denied a seat upgrade or because they accidentally bumped into someone while shrieking into a cell phone about big-time deals. I assume angry hockey coaches are the same, except instead of looking like homicide detectives they resemble police who are trying to crack a ring of muffler thieves.

Baseball managers own the most sublime and artistic displays of screaming at umpires. They are already dressed in pajamas, which means that at no point do they possess even the slightest shred of dignity. They are often elderly and potbellied, which presents a rare opportunity to for viewers to observe pissed off waddling. And they will go for idiotic theatrics. Even managers who refuse to kick dirt, spit, or throw bases around, do everything with the vaudeville flair of a skilled mime. No one yells in another person’s face the way an angry baseball manager does— their heads shake and bob in weird and unnatural ways that look like puppets. Do me a favor and go find a trusted friend or loved one and start screaming in their face that their strike zone is horseshit HORSESHIT while wagging your head around like a deranged bobblehead and see what happens.
This is a silent film

Some managers, though, go through with an entire show. One minor league manager was filmed throwing an enormous amount of bats onto the field, just a sublime lumber shower. The greatest manager tantrum I’ve ever seen is a guy named Phillip Wellman who protested a call by army crawling to the mound, grabbing a rosin bag, pretending to pull a firing pin out of it with his teeth like it’s a grenade, and then firing it onto the mound where it exploded in a shower of rosin.

I suppose there is some strategic element to this-- announcers always talk about baseball managers getting tossed to fire up their teams, and apparently nothing motivates a group of professional athletes like seeing an elderly man in a satin jacket make a deranged scene that sometimes involves props.  Coaches and managers in all sports tend to be control freak maniacs who cannot handle having that element taken out of their hands, especially if they feel calls have gone against their team or their players are left unprotected from dirty play.  I appreciate that sports coaches have no compunction about completely losing their shit in front of me and thousands of spectators and millions of television viewers and then calmly addressing the entire situation afterwards at a podium while wearing reading glasses.


Please read this incredibly well thought out and important idea about the kind of football we want to see over in a post I wrote for Banner Society.

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