Goodbye to Robin Williams

There are some of us who can make people laugh, tell jokes that can split the sides of a whole room. Some of us can wrench tears from that same room. There are very few that can do both, and today we lost one of them.

I can recall singing “Prince Ali” in the living room, my sister and I forming our own parade. Most of the jokes from Mrs. Doubtfire went over my head the first time I saw it. I still laughed. Years later, I laughed again. Of all of Robin Williams’ performances, though, his portrayal of Will Hunting’s psychiatrist in Good Will Hunting remains my favorite. His heartache felt real, and his faith in a troubled soul even more so.

Beyond that he had countless other iconic roles, not to mention a legendary career as a stand up comedian. I admired how he toed the line; one moment manic and the other under complete control. A savant of human expression, he could massage every curve of our emotions. Selfishly, I wish we could have had more.

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WE AIN’T DEAD

All of the words were written, playing across the screens of the reporters who conjured them as if they wrote themselves. One kick later and they were obsolete. A single looping, guided missile of a pass from the hobbled master shredded the narrative of the American arrival. Perhaps this is what American fans deserve, or rather what they need; a bit of perspective.

Forty-five minutes into the most widely viewed match in U.S. Men’s national Team history, the Yanks looked as if they were destined to shrink from their moment and fade back into the sticky haze of the Amazonian night. Fans watching began to do the math and ask themselves, “How does one beat a German?”. Then, a goal, a fucking great goal at that. Suddenly, the math became more favorable. The anxious grip on Budweiser bottles across the nation collectively loosened. By the time Clint Dempsey thrust the ball into the net with his belly the elation was palpable.

That is when the fingers jumped up and down on the keyboard in Manaus like the American fans in the stands. AMERICA THE THROUGH-TIFUL the NY Post might’ve read. However, the story, dressed like Forrest Gump, revealed itself more I Know What You Did Last Summer, and true to form, the killer came back for one last strike. Delete, delete, delete. The narrative turned to “I think we tied. Did we tie? Felt like we lost.”

Now, a day older and wiser. American fans can take a breath and realize that their dreams did not fizzle away Sunday night. An examination of the scenarios shows a lot of promise mixed with a drop of peril. From a loss, to a win, to a draw Yankee supporters need to realize that their fortunes did not change with the headline. Chins up boys and girls, there is football to be played yet.

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Happy Father’s Day (and sorry about that)

When I was little, the first sport I was signed up for was soccer. I can see why: all you need is a pair of shoes, nobody gets hit in the head with a bat, it is damn tiring. There are basically zero sunk costs, perfect for parents. Kids have fleeting hopes and dreams after all. I took to soccer, though, and wanted to play more and know more. Think of it like an arranged marriage that ended well.

My dad had never played before, so this is where the pupil-sensei dream scenario ends. However, my dad loved me and my sister, also a soccer player, fiercely and made learning about the game his business. He read books, ran practices; he made our path his. I am sure the learning curve, and all of the aimless drills, induced some mental pain on his part. But the pain was only that, mental.

One year we decided to go out to Arizona to visit his parents and see the Grand Canyon. We took a soccer ball because god forbid I sat my ass down for one second on a vacation. At a local park, my dad agreed to play goalie while I shot the ball at him. I loved doing this. My dad is a very tall  man so scoring on him was a great accomplishment all in itself. At one point I wound up and kicked a shot right at him. He easily stopped it, then, holding his hand, turned to my mother and said, “We’ve got to go to the hospital.”

I didn’t really know what was going on. After the fact I learned that while stopping the ball he had suffered a compound fracture in his pinky finger. For those unfamiliar with what a compound fracture is, it’s when the goddamn bone breaks through the goddamn skin. My dad is a tough man. Still, he never raised his voice with me, just walked off the field with a bone jutting from his body.

Things got better from there; I never broke his finger again, and ended up playing for years and years. As I watch the World Cup this week, and call him to discuss the surprising vitality of the English squad, our path makes me smile. He got into the sport because I loved it. He suffered through a compound fracture and the nuances of a foreign game because it made me happy.

Fathers will take unintended paths following the dreams of their children, and sometimes it hurts, yet their resolve remains unflinching. To my dad, happy Father’s Day and thank you. To all of the other fathers, wear goalie gloves.

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The Week in Sports 6/2-6/8

I had to put the smarmy sports talk on hold last week to celebrate my mom’s career. It was lovely, thank you for asking.

Sorry for the tardy posting

NBA

The NBA finals began with Game 1 in San Antonio. It was, as expected, a very good game given the caliber of the two teams. Unfortunately, the air conditioning broke, and consequently, Lebron’s leg cramped. As is typical of situations involving serious cramping, Lebron found himself unable to walk. Normally, such an occurrence would be understandable given the level of physical exertion and the heat of the arena. But, this being Lebron, the sight of him cramping and not BEING CLUTCH tore a hole through America’s fragile moral fiber.

Within 12 hours, multiple memes emerged out of the deep recesses of hell juxtaposing his trials with the those of American servicemen. Upon gazing at these spectacles of ignorance, my head hurt as if I had gulped a Slurpee of unfounded virtue. Seriously, what the hell internet? You know what, you’re right. Let’s get Mr. James some fatigues and jettison him to Kandahar to see how he does in the perils of combat. Then, and only then, may we know what he is TRULY made of. Don’t you know how many tours Jordan had completed by his age?

MLB

Remember last year when the Blue Jays looked not just like a couch fire, but a Restoration Hardware couch fire? The kind of couch fire that you celebrate vigorously because a real team is BUILT NOT BOUGHT. Well, those days are long over because the Jays have been laying waste to the AL East. Mark Buehrle is doing Mark Buehrle things and Encarnacion/Cabrera/Bautista is the best combo going right now. These are strange times.

NFL

Johnny_Manziel_Riding_Inflatable_Swan_Champagne_Bottle_Picture_Video

 

NHL

The Rangers are getting Gregor Clegane’d. No two ways around it.

NCAA Sports

Monday, June 9th will see the opening of Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit against the NCAA. It is being heralded as the battle for the future of college athletics; whether or not student athletes will receive compensation for their university sponsored exploits. Unsurprisingly, the discussion of further compensating full-ride students during a time of unprecedented tuition prices is a hotly contested one. Do the students deserve direct compensation? That is debatable. After all, does the status of the second string punter, or even the star of the baseball team, really have any affect on the ability for the school to generate revenue? However, if a student athlete is able to independently profit off of his fame, he should be free to do so. The cries of hypocrisy are typically only heard in the case of a Johnny Manziel or Shabazz Muhammad.

Regardless of opinion, the base issue here will most likely not be addressed: major college sports shouldn’t exist in the first place. Neither party will push for this because neither would stand to gain, but it’s the truth. Basketball and football achieved their collegiate prominence out of a lack of professionally sponsored developmental infrastructure. Because they are substantially younger than baseball, their professional ranks did not need to develop their own farm systems, preferring to contract that function to colleges and universities. You’ll notice that college baseball really isn’t in this discussion.

So, of course things are not going to seem kosher through the scope of amateurism. Colleges aren’t designed to be farm systems. A real solution would be the creation of working “academies” by the NFL and NBA. This will never happen because:

A. Colleges would lose a healthy revenue stream.

B. The NFL and NBA get prepackaged superstars without having to invest any of their own capital into the endeavor.

Pay the athletes, don’t pay the athletes, a decision will be made and people will be simultaneously jubilant and outraged either way. Just remember that all parties are too entrenched in the money to seek the real solution.

The World Cup

Preview coming tomorrow!

Until then, they’re not Ghana get us!

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Memes Save Democracy Claims Economist

WASHINGTON – In an amazing turn of events, the United States of America managed to erase the deficit and solve all major societal issues within a matter of minutes Wednesday. Economists worldwide are still shaking their heads in disbelief after the most miraculous social turnaround in modern history. However, word is coming out of Washington that this was not the result of divine intervention. The real reason for the massive betterment of American life? Anti-Obama memes.

Yes, according to science, enough photographs of the polarizing President frowning with negative phrases accompanying were uploaded to the Internet that all of the Nation’s crises solved themselves. “It is truly remarkable,” said noted economist Paul Krugman, “when I went to sleep Tuesday night, we had no hope, no jobs, and no cash.”

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that everything returned to harmony, but the academic consensus is that recently released footage of Obama lifting weights pushed the scale in America’s favor. One young man, Colton Wright, a gas station attendant from Raleigh, NC, believes that it was this meme that he posted on his Facebook page that saved the world’s greatest democracy.

obama

“I just saw him lifting, and he was struggling, and he doesn’t struggle to raise taxes,” said Wright, “It was really an ‘A-ha’ moment, and whaddya know I saved the country.”

Whichever meme it was that brought the USA back from the brink of failure, one thing is for sure: one cannot deny how constructive Facebook memes can be for social change. In fact, after seeing the incredible success of his great rival, Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered millions of memes created. Unfortunately, not every nation can be as industrious as America, and the meme campaign quickly failed on the heels of a massive de-friending across Russian social media.

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The Week in Sports Memorial Day Edition

To set sports aside for a week shouldn’t be an unnecessarily difficult task, however much it must feel from time to time. I am going to do that this week as my publishing day falls upon Memorial Day. People love Memorial Day for their own reasons: as a brief respite from a mundane job, as a gateway to what the summer months could become, as an excuse to showcase that new grill with the chrome handles. I am not here to proclaim from my soapbox and tell everyone that their celebration of Memorial Day is misguided, because what do I know? I am also not here to admonish companies for accompanying every immense deed to a serviceman with an equally immense marketing campaign because they must wrestle with their own conscience.

This is more of an open proclamation of my inability to comprehend selflessness to the degree that generations of Americans have shown. Growing up, I loved the idea of war as it existed to me. The idea of war in the form of the Tom Clancy books that I gobbled up or the plastic M-16 that I slunk through the woods adjacent to my house with. The visions of victory, power, and valor were intoxicating. I certainly was not the only kid with a GI Joe fantasy. What I did not understand, still don’t, and never will, were the details.

I do not understand feeling the warmth of your friend’s blood as it tries to escape his body. I do not understand living in a hole confided only by the tattered picture of a distant love. I do not understand the emptiness of finding out that the face in that picture doesn’t have the same feelings anymore. Most of all, I do not understand never coming home. There is a lot I do not understand. On Memorial Day I am reminded that there are men and women who do, whether they want to or not.

Wherever you are today, consider the details. Consider all of the American bravery, grief, fear, triumph, and sacrifice that has been spilled alongside the gallons of blood. Maybe you will find it incomprehensible like I do. And, if you don’t have to consider, if it is all too real to you, thank you shouldering a burden that defies the physical and mental limits of the human body.

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The Week In Sports 5/12-5/18

NBA

The NBA is really the only pro sport where you could start the season at the semifinal round of the playoffs and nobody would really have much of an argument. Before the season it would have been logical to assume that we would be left with the Thunder, Spurs, Heat, and Pacers as a final four. All of it could have been skipped; the pointless MVP debate, Philadelphia’s inability to even tank correctly, and yes, even the “the Pacers are the biggest disappointment in NBA playoff history” talk. Because, guess what, the goddamn Pacers somehow are sitting eye to eye with Miami. That isn’t to say they aren’t about to have their doors blown off, but they’re conference finalists nonetheless.

On the other side, the timeless, boring juggernaut rolls on in San Antonio, dispensing the upstart Trail Blazers back into the sustainable compost heap from which they came. They are both easy to root for and horribly unintriguing simultaneously. They are essentially the antithesis of Oklahoma City. The Thunder have both the MVP, and more importantly, Russell Westbrook. Russell Westbrook shows up to the game dressed like a character from a dystopian novel, and plays like a living, breathing super-ball. He is maddeningly unpredictable but plays with such an abandon and tenacity that it is impossible to look away. The West final should be a classic, the ying to the East’s yang. With Ibaka out, though, gotta take the Spurs in 6.

MLB

So all that talk about Yasiel Puig tearing the Dodgers’ clubhouse apart by the seams appears to be a little misguided. He is in the top 5 of several offensive categories in the NL and his team is right in the thick of a very crowded NL West race. He is actually one of the few members of the supposedly loaded rosters who is owning up to his part of the deal. The same people decrying his youthful exuberance are mum on the regression of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Hanley Ramirez’ careers. For those of us who yearn for what Bo Jackson could have been, Yasiel Puig exists as a consolation prize. Baseball fans should be appreciative of the show, stop asking why Yasiel does the things he does, and start asking what it is that he can’t do.

NHL

You’re welcome Rangers fans. from here on out I will be rooting for Montreal because I feel awful for Canada. If the NFL had teams in Mexico and Canada that won the Super Bowl every year, American citizens would hold a Continental Conference and reassess our Constitution.

NFL

I’d like to take time to address to confront some of the hot takes that have been had this week re Michael Sam’s reality show, or documentary, or, it’s cancelled? Okay, but I’m still going to talk about it. Here are some popular takes.

1. He said that he was about football first! I’m sorry, is he not fully participating in all team activities? Has he been absent from his duties as an employee of the St. Louis Rams, leading a perceived tour-de-gay instead? Eric Decker is participating in a reality show. Hell, the NFL has even said it will force a team to be part of a reality show because nobody wanted to do it. Oh I forgot, but he’s a rookie! Rookies, no matter how unique, should not have undue attention on them because they have to EARN IT. Wait, the NFL has a reality show called “Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL”, that’s odd. It wouldn’t be a bad look for the Rams to portray themselves as a progressive institution, but DISTRACTION DISTRACTION DISTRACTION.

 

2. He doesn’t need to announce that he is gay if he wants to be treated like everyone else. I don’t go announcing that I only get with chicks! So let’s say that Michael Sam didn’t go and do a formal announcement. He just let it be and waited for the world to come across the fact that he was gay. Let’s even go as far to imagine that his sexual orientation remained a non-story until the day of the draft (it wouldn’t have). I am sure that America would have reacted really well to an unanticipated kiss on national TV. By making an announcement, Sam was able to handle the narrative on his terms. Regardless of whether he told everyone or not, the national media would have run with it, so it is well within his rights to be transparent and prevent strangers from spreading misinformation about him.

3. He isn’t a hero, *insert military meme here*. There is a knee jerk reaction to the word “hero”, and rightfully so. It is thrown around on a whim these days, specifically in the realm of sports. In general, athletes are not heroes in the purest sense of the word, especially when juxtaposed with veterans of combat. America’s male and female armed services personnel perform amazing acts of heroism in defense of their country and the brothers and sisters that they fight beside. They deserve the accolades and the titles that they receive, even if they might tell you that they didn’t do anything that their comrades wouldn’t gladly do for them. Michael Sam isn’t jumping on top of any grenades, or pulling a wounded body to safety, or delivering suppressing fire against far superior numbers. But, he is showing lots of terrified young people that it’s okay to be yourself at a huge professional risk. Lives ended by suicide may instead be lived fearlessly. Heroism is a spectrum, of the body, soul, and mind, and championing one element of it does not diminish the others.

What I’m Drinking: As it gets warmer you may be tempted to buy Corona because, shit, I’M AT A BEACH! Next time you’re engaging in a fiesta go for Negra Modelo instead. Think of it like a Mexican Yeungling.

The Best Thing I Read This Week: Who Watches the Watchers? The past 12 months have seen a reigning in of the NSA after the spy agency was exposed to be spying, of all things. This article is part of a POLITICO series examining the unchecked snooping of private industry and the lack of concern surrounding it.

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