This post is dedicated to Louis Oosthuizen.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think it is. Granted, it’s not Heat fans (should they exist). It’s not Spain. And it’s certainly not the immediate family of the funny looking dude who crushed everybody at the British Open.
To everybody else: sports in 2010 kind of sucks, no?
Now I’ve been kicking this (blasphemous?) thought around my subconscious since at least the end of 2007, when my beloved Miami Hurricanes pretty much blew off their own toes in a nationally televised game against football powerhouse Southern Calif the University of Virginia.
48-0. We bulldozed the Orange Bowl months later out of sheer humilation.
That was the first “things will never be the same again” epiphany for me, and maybe the inevitable moment in every man’s life when you realize that sports is primarily about money and ego (and doing everything in your power to destroy legacy/history/dynasty). The actual loss, though emasculating in every sense, wasn’t the impetus for such a flood of emotion. It was instead the fact that we’d let our once-proud program come to this – a whipping boy for mediocre competition, a team without a home, and worse, a casualty of disinterest.
The most startling thing about it all? It happened so damn fast.
I imagine the people of Baltimore had this same feeling when the moving vans left for Indy; or Beantown when Clemens fled north of the border; or Packers fans every time Ted Thompson opens his mouth.
Crushing blows happen. They’ve always happened. And it used to be that I’d let them soak in, bitch about them for a couple days, then collect my thoughts and convince myself that the worst was over.
This is as bad as it gets. This will not happen again – not to my team, not to my town, not to the guys I love.
As you, the jaded skeptic, already know, such a line of thinking is irrational and naive.
But that hasn’t stopped me from clinging to the things I know I can bank on. So when Tom Glavine won his 300th game with hated rival New York, when the Braves traded Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada, dumped childhood hero Andruw Jones and railroaded an aging John Smoltz, I let baseball go for a little while and shifted my focus to three immovable pillars: Tiger, LeBron, The U.
Again, maybe things have always been this bad or maybe it’s just my sports optimism coming back to bite me in the ass. But it seems to me that era-defining debacles are in fact multiplying and subdividing – that we’re headed face-first into an irreversible black hole of narcissism, cheating and straight cash homies.
Apathy, too. After all, letting go is much easier when there’s a giant snow shovel repeatedly wailing on your fingers.
Of course, it’s about this time every year that I’m reminded by ESPN’s resident tear-jerker Chris Connelly that there are at least five good things left in sports. And these good things make me think of other good things – Derek Jeter and Tim Duncan. But at this point, I wouldn’t be half surprised if the Spurs ship Timmy to Dallas and Selena Roberts exposes Jeter’s ’98 ‘roids bender with Greg Maddux.
I’m also aware that – had I the wherewithal and America Online – I could’ve written this post as a 9-year-old dumbstruck by the OJ murders.
I think Chuck Klosterman is on to something: sports atheism. Love the game, hate the players… or rather, just write them off altogether. And their teams, too.
Still not buying? Let me change your mind. Here are some of the things that I hate about sports as of July 19, 2010.
1) That a guy I’ve never heard of blitzed the field at one of my favorite golf tournaments. Again.
2) That Tiger Woods is a scumbag, a scumbag I will always root for.
3) That the 2008 U.S. Open – the greatest individual sports achievement I’ve ever seen – is now guilty by association.
4) That our star NFL quarterbacks have turned to assaulting defenseless women, you know, instead of defenseless canines.
5) The Geriatric Who at the Super Bowl. Thanks, Janet Jackson Nipple.
6) LeBron’s hour-long Make Out Session With Himself.
7) That LeBron James referred to LeBron James in the third person multiple times during LeBron James’ Make Out Session With Himself.
8) That LeBron forfeited his G.O.A.T. legacy.
9) That maybe LeBron’s an okay dude and Delonte West’s getting off scot free.
10) That Floyd Landis even exists.
11) That vuvuzelas even exist.
12) The confluence of women, hotel rooms and star athletes. See: Bryant, Kobe; Roethlisberger, Ben; Irvin, Michael; Woods, Tiger; and
13) Dead McNair, Steve.
14) Baseball’s power outage, the tarnished record books, and the fact that the dramatic offensive decline just makes the last quarter century look like a bigger farce than it already is.
15) That head injuries will inexorably change the way tackle football is played.
16) The University of Southern California, Calipari’s tenure in Memphis, Meyer’s tenure in Florida, Lane Kiffin’s tenure on Earth.
17) The professionalization of prep sports and the idea that 18-year-old John Wall isn’t good enough for the NBA, but Wall + 6 months of college makes him a No. 1 pick.
18) That there’s a giant, lonely, inexplicably sad hole where the Orange Bowl used to be.
19) That these are the mental images – in order – I will take from seeing a rookie Stephen Strasburg in person.
20) That the best golfer in history is no longer good at golf.
21) Andre Agassi’s biography and the notion that “too much information” doesn’t apply to anything anymore.
22) That I’ve “forgiven” Tiger for something that is none of my business to begin with.
23) That I’ll never fully forgive LeBron, even though he’s only guilty of what I’m guilty of – pride.
24) That T.O.’s Ego hasn’t diminished along with T.O.’s Skillz.
25) That, at this point, Number Four’s just doing it to mess with us.
26) That a headbutt, a handball and a few bad calls are the only things I remember from the last decade of soccer.
27) That anybody, including Curt Schilling, can have their own blog.
28) That Manny Being Manny stopped being funny when we found a needle in his ass.
29) That we only blackballed Barry Bonds when he stopped hitting home runs.
30) Plaxico’s abject stupidity.
31) Peter Angelos’ abject stupidity.
32) The NBA’s vendetta against common sense.
33) Contract disputes.
34) Pending lockouts in most of the sports I still care about.
35) That Floyd Mayweather has big money and a big mouth, but won’t put one where the other is.
36) That Tiger, LeBron and Big Ben preempted a thousand heartwarming stories.
37) That I have egg on my face for defending the indefensible Milton Bradley.
38) The Tour De France. Enough already.
39) That Lawrence Taylor can’t find a better person to speak for him than Lawrence Taylor’s wife.
40) That I have zero good excuses for not caring about hockey.
41) That David Reutimanns are few and far between.
42) That there will never be another Tim Tebow.
43) That Junior can’t play forever.
43) That my alma mater’s “lack of institution control” no longer refers to the crappy parking situation.
44) That basketball’s biggest breath of fresh air plays for a stolen franchise.
45) The rape and pillaging of small-market teams at the trade deadline.
46) The fact that, on top of everything else, sports is just indiscriminately cruel (RE: Tom Watson @ Turnberry).
47) Villifying an Olympic hero for a little weed.
48) That we’ll never hear from Armando Galarraga again.
49) That the sports gods will get me back for this.
50) That if something’s too good to be true…