Friday, April 18, 2008

Freestyle Friday

If it seems
I haven't been blogging all that much lately, it's because I haven't -- due to an equal combination of busy-ness, lazy-ness and disinterested-ness. But we're here today rectify that sitch, and we all know how painful that can be. To Wit, of which, if you didn't already know, Brevity is the Soul: won't you join me as we take it hard to the hoop here on WardensWorld.

But first to the mound. No way the Yankees are making the playoffs with their present starting rotation. Taint gonna happen, my friends. Not with a past-his-prime Andy Pettite, a way-way-past-his prime-teetering-on-washed-up Mike Mussina (about whom more in a sec), two promising but unproven kiddies in Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, and only one true dependable frontline pitcher in Chin-Mieng Wang.

Mussina is probably my least favorite Yank. Didn't want him in the first place, and thought it was one of Brian Cashman's all-time worst signings -- and that's saying something -- to give the Stanford Stoic that ridiculous contract that pays him 16 mil a season. That's just throwing good money after bad, as my dad would always say. Well, not always, just when it was called for.

For reasons I can't quite put my finger on, I hate almost everything about Mussina, from that stupid back bend he does before every pitch to the his grating excuses after every game he gets shelled. Which lately is every game.
Last night Mussina got beat up again, surrendering two more homers and a double to Manny Ramirez, which makes only three HRs Mussina has served up to Ramirez in less than a week. In fact, check this out: in his last 26 ABs against Mussina, Ramirez has 13 hits, including 4 dingers, and 13 runs batted in. And careerwise, Ramirez now has the 3rd most HRs alltime of any Yankees opponent. Maybe that game plan isn't working, Mike. Just walk the fucking guy next time and save us the heartache.

And maybe that should go for the whole Yankees staff when it comes to facing Manny. I mean, Yankee Killer doesn't do justice to the way this guy tears the heart out of Yankee fans. It's more like Yankee Mass Murderer at this point. At least last night Farnsworth threw a 100 MPH heater behind his dreadlocked cabeza and shook him up a little. (Farnsworth got himself a 3-game suspension for his troubles.) Nothing else seems to work.

Usually after such a stinker, Mussina says stuff like, Well, I just couldn't get Strike 3, or The guy hit a good pitch. But last night he was more succinct and sounded more down and defeated than usual: “I missed so bad a couple times that I can’t remember what I tried to do. It was just lousy.” Got that right.

Saw a rare sight in an NBA game the other night when the Toronto Raptors played the Nets: one team had 5 white guys on the floor at once! But wait, it gets better: after a timeout, while Sam Mitchell, the Raptors' black head coach, was resting his star, Chris Bosh, the 5 players he sent in were not only all white, but I don't believe any of them were American-born; instead it was an Italian, an Argentine, a few guys from Eastern Europe, etc. Imagine a whole team of Europeans in the NBA? How would they do? You don't have to answer now, get back to me later...

This post is gonna go all over the place, so get used to it. I am in the process of emptying one of my notebooks before all the contents get too old. And I do it all for you, the reader. And when I say the reader, I mean The Reader, as in one reader. But one's enough, two would be a crowd and three a stampede.

NBA playoffs start this weekend, tomorrow in fact, and after a few seconds of research, I like the San Antonio Spurs to prevail in the finals over the Detroit Pistons. But the #1 seeds are the Celtics and Lakers, which would be David Stern's wet dream of course. And for that reason alone I hope it doesn't happen.

My 76ers as the 7 seed in the East have to take on the #2 Pistons in the first round. How can I like their chances? I can't, and hope to just extend 'em as long as possible. (That's what she said.) But seriously, just a few weeks ago the Sixers were riding high, but the last 7 or 8 games they played like crap, and when they played well they had crap luck.

The other night the 76ers eked out a 1-point win over the Cavs, and ran off the court in celebration. In fact, they reached their locker room before an official informed them that the referees were reviewing videotape to see if Sam Dalambert had fouled a Cavalier with no time remaining. Sure enough, that's just what they reviewed, and after 2 foul shots, Cleveland had the 1-point win. Talk about a tough way to lose. But at least the Sixers have a puncher's chance. Hopefully that puncher is Jerry Quarry and not Gerry Cooney.
Speaking of fighting, check out this transition, I just finished a great, terrific, brilliant, incredible book by Tom Holland called Persian Fire about the epic Greek-Persian wars of the late 5th Century BC. It just might be the single best written history book I have ever read. If takes you so much into the action that I got fucking goose bumps myself waiting to take on the Great King's endless hordes of soldiers myself. I don't know, maybe it's another life thing, when my great great great to the 10th power grandfather might have fought at Salamis or Marathon or Thermopylae.

Actually, I've been told my mother's family can be traced back to the small island of Samos, which is way off the mainland, in fact it's so far on the Eastern side of the Aegean Sea that it's right off the coast of Turkey. And unfortunately, at least according to this account, the Samians don't come off all that well in this book. When it comes time to play their part in the Ionian uprising against the King's satraps, they instead sell out their fellow Greeks to the Persians. And they did it for money, for trade, because they saw the Greek colonies as threats to their business. So it goes.

But oh those wacky Spartans! Even the Persians knew of their reputation. One great anecdote in the book tells of two Spartans who were sent off the battlefield just before a battle was to commence because of severe eye inflammations. But one of the warriors defied his instructions to remain on the sidelines and instead made his way back to the front lines and ultimately died in the heavy fighting. The other warrior, when he finally returned to his village, was now branded a "trembler." As Holland describes it:
"There, on his arrival, he had been greeted with revulsion. His fellow citizens had branded him a 'trembler': the single most shameful word in the Spartan lexicon. Harshly unfair -- but it was only to be expected, in a city where courage was reckoned the greatest virtue, that one slightest hint of cowardice in a citizen would doom him to ignominy.
The life of a trembler in Sparta was signally wretched. Patches sewn into his cloak would alert the whole city to his disgrace. Whether sitting down at his mess table or attempting to join in a ballgame, he would be icily ignored by all of his former friends. At festivals, he would have to stand up or make way for anyone who demanded it -- even the most junior.
Cruelest cut of all, his daughters, if he had any, would find it impossible to secure a husband: a typically Spartan eugeniest measure designed to prevent the taint of cowardice from being inherited by future generations."
After finishing Persian Fire and still being fired up, I had a strong desire to watch it all play out again, and so I went to the video store, in my case the library, where I had seen it before, to find 300, the recent computer-generated/assisted film that got bad reviews but did big box office. Alas, they were out of that, but instead I stumbled upon the first season of Rome, the HBO miniseries. My verdict after the first two episodes: superb. Like Cecil B. DeMille meets I Claudius, with a little Martin Scorcese thrown in. With more sex and nudity of the good kind than you can shake a dick at.

Just when my pride at being Greek was at its absolute apex, I sat down t
o watch the Hillary-Barack debate on ABC the other night. Moderating, badly, this faceoff was nerdy Charles Gibson and the diminutive Hellenic himself, George Stephanopoulos. According to my cousin, none other than Linda Stephanopoulos, he's actually related to her family somehow, and maybe mine by extension. (That's what she said.) But as the debate wore on, I can't tell you how many times I yelled FUCKING DOUCHEBAG! at either jerkoff Gibson or the dwarfish Greek because of their ludicrous lines of questioning the candidates.
Gibson proved himself a willing mouthpiece for the Oligarchy as he constantly badgered Clinton and Obama with questions about the sacred capital gains tax and taxes in general. With every follow-up he tried to get the candidates to swear, pledge, promise not to raise a single tax at any point no matter what the economic circumstances. Seven years into a draining, expensive war that has decimated the military, seven years into massive tax breaks for the very wealthy, while the economy falls into recession, it is taboo to talk about raising taxes on the well-to-do or at least somehow lowering the tax burden on the middle class while gas prices skyrocket and the housing crisis descends further into chaos. At least according to plutocrat Gibson, sitting there with his glasses perched absurdly low on his nose.

Stephanopoulos proved himself no less a craven fool and no more discerning a moderator than his colleague as he too fell in line with a sensationalist line of questioning no doubt preordained by his higher-ups for maximum shock, and therefore rating, effect. Gotta hold that coveted 18-22 demographic, after all. The best way to put it is the little gnome made me ashamed to be Greek, and that's saying something considering the Hellenic High I was on reading of the exploits of my lineal ancestors distinguishing themselves long ago on the plains of Marathon, such that close to Three Millenia later, it is yet noted whenever the annals of bravery and courage are chronicled.

At the close of the debate, Gibson and Stephanapoulos stood side by side with self-satisfied grins at a job well done. Except it turns out while Stephanapoulos was standing up, Gibson was seated in some sort of folding chair, and yet they were the same size. Not a good decision on little Georgie's part. He looked more like a ventriloquist's dummy than a network journalist, and I couldn't have been happier.

By the way, I thought Hillary acquitted herself quite well, taking the high road most times, and came across as very likable. And I am far from a Clinton lover, in fact quite the opposite, of which I spoke to you of which. I thought Obama was not at his sharpest, and at times I was distracted by the manner in which his head was tilted while he responded to the childish queries of the network stooges posing as moderators. Surely his head is not so heavy that he cannot square it up straight while he talks. Watch for it next time you see him. If I'm his handlers, I'm all over that.

The low point was when a dimwit representing an actual Pennsylvania voter, given the opportunity to ask the candidates a question, used her opportunity to accuse Obama of hating the country, obvious to everyone since he does not wear a flag lapel. That was the kind of night it was, the kind of country we're apparently stuck with, the kind of true mess we find ourselves at this late point in the early 21st century. Enjoy!

1 comment:

jimithegreek said...