WE BID YOU FAREWELL, CAPTAIN

“One night and one more time, Thanks for the memories.”
-Fallout Boy, “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs”

In sports, each generation is defined by an individual you want to remember; someone you were young enough to adore, immature enough to dislike, and old enough to respect as you were able to follow their career over the span of a couple decades. We’re not speaking of the players looking to provide fans with shock value, egotistical claims that may or may not be true, and prima donna failures and success. We don’t want to be forced to remember stars for enhancing their performance, abusing spouses, getting arrested for less than they probably should have, lying, cheating, drinking way too much, drugging (that’s a weird way to put it), or just being an attention-grabbing idiot. We want to remember a ballplayer for being a ballplayer; for going out there and doing his job at an exceptional level day in and day out without complaining, fighting, or upsetting an entire city with poorly timed phrases instigated by the media. We want to remember what he did for the game, his actions on the field, and what he didn’t do off the field.

Derek Jeter. The Captain. The modern day Yankee Great. The current New York baseball icon announced his retirement at the beginning of his 2014 campaign. It’s hard to imagine that a player, in this era, for the New York Yankees could ever be mentioned in the same sentence with the likes of Mickey Mantle (not Mickey Mouse), Joe DiMaggio (not just Marilyn Monroe’s squeeze), Babe Ruth (not the candy bar), Lou Gehrig (you poured ice water over your head for him this year), Yogi Berra (not the cartoon), and Reggie Jackson (Mr. October), but just like Mariano Rivera did last year, Derek Jeter proved history has no concrete ending, and there’s no limitation to greatness.

To prove so, Jeter finished first in eight statistical categories in Yankee history: Plate appearances, at bats, hits, singles, doubles, stolen bases, games played, and strikeouts (man, I shouldn’t have mentioned that one). In addition, he earned five gold glove awards, fourteen invitations to the All-Star game, a lifetime .310 batting average, 3,465 hits (sixth all time), and one World Series Most Valuable Player within the five championships he won, and the two he lost (we can’t be all positive here). That’s really not that great if you think about it. Only like 14% of the time he was a World Series MVP.

His prominence was respected, and his life was admired. He wasn’t a jerk, and he kept his personal life to himself despite how much everyone wanted to know about him in that aspect. Baseball was his job, and his life was his life. Fans could dislike him all they wanted to for the sole fact that he was a great ballplayer and could tear down the hopes of other franchises with clutch performances, but in the end, it was all classy as each team provided the Yankee captain with parting gifts on his farewell tour. The Baltimore Orioles gave him crabs.

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Photo courtesy of baltimoresun.com

Being a Baltimore fan, I’ve endured 20 years of his greatness. Though his career is one that will be rarely matched, and his persona was even more respected, there’s one moment that will always stay with me: his infamous “home run” against Orioles in ALCS 1996.

Derek Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium (September 25th, 2014) was perfect. Nick Markakis and Alejandra De Aza proved it wasn’t going to be easy as they lead off the game with back to back homeruns to give Baltimore an early 2-0 lead. In scripted fashion, Jeter doubled home the first Yankee run of the game, and eventually scored the second to tie the game in the bottom of the first inning. The game was controlled by pitching until the seventh inning when the Captain himself hit a slow roller to his counterpart at shortstop, J.J. Hardy. The usually sure-handed Hardy approached the ball off balance which caused an erred throw to second base, allowing two Yankees to score. New York would add one more run that inning to extend their lead to 5-2. Everything seemed to be in place in the top of the ninth as camera flashes flickered across the stands and an emotional Jeter tried hard to hold in his tears at shortstop. However, it was like the Orioles didn’t believe this is how it should end. A two-run homer by Adam Jones, followed by a solo shot by Steve Pearce two batters later tied the game at five with one half of an inning left, Jeter batting third. Jose Pirela led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, and was replaced on the base path by Antoan Richardson, a faster runner. Brett Gardner laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Richardson to second base, setting the stage for the famed number two in pinstripes. Jeter made contact with the first pitch delivered by Baltimore Reliever, Evan Meek. The hit was driven to the opposite side of the diamond, sailing away from the outstretched glove of the diving Pearce at first base. Richardson rounded third base on the single and slid safely into home head first right before Markasis’ throw reached the plate. Yankees win 6-5. Derek Jeter: the hero, just one more time.

It may not have seemed perfect statistically or from a fairy tale standpoint where they would have won the World Series on that hit, but that would have been too cliché. It was perfect because it was against a rival, against a division winner, and he used his trademark style of hitting to win the game during his last swing of the bat in the stadium where he won so many times before.

Just one more time against Baltimore, Derek. Just one more time the opposite way, Mr. Jeter. Just one more storybook ending, Mr. November. Just one more tip of the hat, Captain.

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Photo courtesy of chicagotribune.com

This is why we love sports.

PRENTITIOUS JERK CLAIMS, “THINGS WOULD BE A LOT DIFFERENT IF I WERE IN CHARGE”

“Whatever you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you.”
-Irving Berlin, “Anything You Can Do”

Society is somewhat prone to believe nothing is ever good enough, or nothing is the way it was supposed to be. The truth is we don’t know how it was supposed to be. Maybe by this time in life we were supposed to have already colonized Mars, had mastered time travel, or been flying cars around and getting into DWI accidents in the sky instead of on the ground. I’m sure alcohol has had a direct affect on not making all that happen sooner.

That’s not entirely true; many people are perfectly content and amazed with life as it is today. However, there will always be questions on how the government is run, or what is or is not destroying the youth of society, or how roads are constructed (read Driving: An Unofficial Guide), building placement, moral lessons, the education process, differences in class and social status, costs of anything, blah blah blah. Some people finally decided to do something about it instead of gloat to their friends over late night vices how the world would be a better place if they were running things, and history has done it all wrong so far.

Utopia is a “reality” television program on Fox (who else, right?) that placed a group of strangers in a compound in order to build a “perfect society” in one year. If you can’t work well with someone you know in an office setting or restaurant then how do you expect to work well with a bunch of egotistical know-it-alls? Just like protestors and others with intense opinions that feel they need to be heard, people have already lost interest in just a week’s time (I mean, you lose interest in this blog pretty quick and that’s why I must update it weekly). Ratings are down 28%, and will most likely continue to decline when October playoff baseball begins on Fox (Patten, 2014).

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Photo courtesy of slate.com

I don’t know why people stopped watching already. From the looks of it, they’re getting a lot done. This is essentially a slap in the face to everyone that has advanced this world the last couple thousand years. All the martyrs and soldiers, the activists that changed the way we view other humans, the engineers, the architects, the inventors, the visionaries, the philosophers, the educators, the entertainers, the athletes, musicians, and the rulers. It doesn’t take one or two people to build a society it takes, well, a society. On the other hand, one or two can definitely tear it down.

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Photo courtesy of holarsblog.com

If you want to live in a lame place then be our guest. See you in a couple thousand years when you get to this level of development. I’m okay with my electricity, material niceties, college education, athletic events, rock and roll, and easy forms of communication to touch base with family and friends. Please don’t try and contact me, Utopia winner, then again, you won’t be able to. Also, remember your perfect world that’s supposedly built from the ground up is all dependent on luxuries provided by millionaires and network executives and ratings based on others’ interest, so essentially you’re not proving anything anyway. Good luck!

Patten, D. (2014) Retreived from http://deadline.com/2014/09/utopia-ratings-fox-big-brother-dateline-837280/# on September 22 2014

REPORT FROM BRITAIN: KATE THROWS UP, REMAINS CLASSY

“I can’t get enough of you, baby.”
-Smash Mouth, “Can’t Get Enough Of You, Baby.”

People become obsessed with royalty. We love the idea of having it all: the attention, the riches, the power, and being the ultimate member of high society. Kings and queens, princes and princess, castles and knights, ignored common folk and peasants, dragons and… wait a minute? Are we talking about fantastical fiction? Nope, just Britain.

If you switch ‘Dragons’ with ‘Manchester United’ then the description of country is quite precise. The charm of past centuries still reigns with a modern twist in the form of social media and constant exposure. You know how pregnant chicks vomit in the morning (I’m so eloquent)? Well, we get to hear all about Kate’s common troubles when there are probably about ten other women on the block (not her block of course) suffering through the same issues, their story just doesn’t make the newspaper in another country.

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Photo courtesy of news.softpedia.com

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is expecting the royal couple’s second child across the pond in the motherland. Prince William not only gets to deal with his wife’s pregnancy, he gets to handle all the close media attention about her health. For example: her acute morning sickness. When she was pregnant with little George, now 13 months, she was actually hospitalized for the same issue. This go around she gets to stay in the comfort of Kensington Palace, but still is bed-ridden enough not to attend prior engagements scheduled in Oxford (AP, 2014). Though it’s not rare for women to experience acute morning sickness during pregnancy, Kate is more important, prettier, richer, and nicer (no offense, ladies) and we must protect her and the future prince or princess.

I hope all the ladies out there are aware that the last sentence was meant to be sarcastic, but who knows with women (also sarcastic). I would like to quickly change the subject because the most important thing on everyone’s mind is actually the crown and not Kate’s wellbeing. Where does this new baby boy or girl rank in obtaining what Queen Elizabeth has seemed to have for the last two centuries? They will become fourth in line (AP, 2014). What does this mean? Absolutely nothing because there’s realistically no chance they will rule Britain or whatever the king or queen does. However, this does push Prince Harry down the list though. See, what did I tell you, you probably already forgot there was a Prince Harry, and the same will happen to George’s little brother or sister.

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Photo courtesy of express.co.uk

Even though this all is important to the command of Britain, we still obsess about these people (what do you mean ‘these people’?) and their status in life as an entertainer, not a ruler. It’s similar to how many view President Obama. We shouldn’t care about visits to The Tonight Show or how his pickup basketball game went, or what his family is wearing on vacation; we should care if someone like Brad Pitt (or Carl L. Knauf) does that. However, there’s no privacy and we need their everyday activities and problems as much as they don’t need ours, even if they’re our leaders and not in the limelight for our entertainment. I shouldn’t have to bring up Princess Diana so I won’t, but I just did anyway. I shouldn’t have to bring up Kate throwing up like every other girl throws up when they’re pregnant, but I did anyway. We can’t get enough of it.

However, it goes along with the gig for all the future kings and queens out there.

AP (2014, September 9). British royal couple are expecting a second child. The Albuquerque Journal, p. A4

NFL RECAP: HALF THE TEAMS NO LONGER UNDEFEATED

“Not satisfied just yet, wanna receive and get.”
-The Hives, “Here We Go Again”

It has begun! Queue Mortal Kombat theme. The great American sport has finally started and people can go back to not paying attention to their families and ignore God for the next 17 Sundays, excluding playoffs of course when fans once again reach out an plead for the almighty’s assistance in a win. God doesn’t mind if you turn your attention to Thursday and Monday night games, with the occasional Saturday evening matchup, Sunday is a different story.

That was pretty over-dramatic considering that the NFL is covered non-stop from Super Bowl to Super Bowl so it’s not like people were paying attention to anything else anyway. After the big game, there were months of recaps, offseason analysis of the negatives each team must address, mock drafts, trades, free agents, contract extensions, coaching changes, retirements, college player profiles, the actual draft, draft grades, positive and negative outlooks, preseason predictions, position competitions, preseason recaps and ridicule, roster cuts, injuries, arrests, drug use, performance enhancers, and all the other glorious things that make football as American as apple pie (served at a football stadium for $13 a slice).

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Of course there are important storylines that must be covered for at least 20 minutes an hour because nothing else was going on in the world of sports except for the NBA playoffs, Stanley Cup playoffs, the entire MLB season, grand slams of Golf and Tennis, the Triple Crown, Sprint Cup chase (NASCAR for the ones that don’t know), and one of the most important tournaments in all of athletics, the World Cup. No, no, no, we need to concentrate on where a potentially sub-par trouble making quarterback lands in the draft, or the constant coverage of a man’s sexual orientation, or which player hit someone in a night club, or which player smoked a bunch of weed, or which player took one too many supplements, or which player was driving drunk, or which player had an altercation with airport security, or which player said some nasty comments via Twitter, or which player channel surfed, or which player took his dog for a walk, or which player used the bathroom more than five times in one day. “There must be something wrong with him, have a reporter standing by behind the shower curtain please.”

I could sit here and type out who Michael Sam and Johnny Football (Manziel) are, but most people already know. I could tell you that the suspensions of Ray Rice, Aldon Smith, Josh Gordon, and Wes Welker are key losses for their teams, but again most people already know because it’s been covered. Let’s talk about what all this really affects.

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Gambling. Though we love to be entertained by American football, we occasionally like to up the ante for personal gain from a financial standpoint, or for family bragging rights which is just as important. Choosing which team wins each game throughout the season is always an easy and fun way to bring family and friends together just so they can be bitter towards one another 17 weeks later. However, competition escalates to another level as individuals take the responsibility of General Manager into their own hands and select a fantasy team, playing someone in their league each week. Sadly, I have taken the plunge into unnecessary stress this year and of course have become addicted to things I have no control of. Let’s start with reality from Week One first.

The Seahawks looked as if they are ready to repeat after Thursday’s domination over Green Bay, and the Broncos appear they’re on a path to set a rematch of last year’s big game as they handled the Colts last night. Everyone else performed as if this was the fifth preseason game (6th for Giants and Bills), but half those teams earned victories somehow. There will be a lot of parody this year in the NFL, don’t be surprised if teams like the Jaguars and Raiders win more games than expected, and don’t be surprised if the Falcons and Texans overcome their horrid seasons from a year ago. Despite what the Broncos and Seahawks showed the league in Week One, there’s plenty of time left for others to make a claim to lift the Lombardi Trophy months from now.

Pending on tonight’s results, my road to a fantasy and weekly pick em’ challenge is off to an average start. I’m just more focused on the mistakes the Redskins made on their way to a below average start. See you in 17 weeks. No calls.

FANS SACRIFICE HEALTH AND WELLBEING FOR MARATHON

“Never stop, never whatever, Near and far, and always and everywhere and everything.”
-Donna Lewis, “I Love You Always Forever”

Marathons are not for the faint of heart. They’re grueling, test the limitations of each individual, and directly affect the daily functions in a person’s life. In the end, it’s an accomplishment that is rewarded with nothing monetary, but the physical strain provides a person with the sense of achievement; the fact that they reached a goal and conquered it. What about the professional marathons? Don’t the winners win money? Oh, I must apologize, I wasn’t talking about running. I can’t run a marathon and never plan to, but I have tuned in for an obscene amount of television viewing all dedicated to one program though. However, never to this extent.

FXX, a side network to FX, and a side side network to FOX, began airing The Simpsons marathon on Thursday, August 21st. This wasn’t your old “few hour a night” marathon, it was 24/7 for 12 days. All 25 seasons, all 552 episodes. People may say that it’s pointless to do such a marathon, who ever would watch a cartoon for that long? Well, FXX, a seemingly unknown network, is now a top-five rated cable channel since the beginning of the animated festival of comedy (Fox, 2014). Not only has this marathon ruined the health and employment status of quite possibly millions of people (don’t research that), it has also earned the right to continue…forever. FXX announced that they will be airing The Simpsons for six hours every Monday, four hours on Tuesdays, four hours on Thursdays, six hours on Fridays, and another four hours every Sunday (Fox, 2014). Therefore, I’m sure you had your calculator out and already know this, every week will have at least 24 hours of The Simpsons. Not bad for a cartoon that was once just a silly idea in the late 80’s. Oh man, the things that came out of the 80’s.

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Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.com

There isn’t much that hasn’t been said already about The Simpsons so I will simply state the facts (all facts provided by Wikipedia).

-1989-Present.
-25 Seasons (2013).

-552 Episodes(2013).

-Longest running American sitcom.

-Longest running American animated sitcom.

-Longest running American scripted primetime television program.

-The Simpsons Movie grossed over $527 million worldwide.

-Time Magazine named the show the 20th Century’s best television series.

-31 Emmy’s.

-30 Annie Awards.

-Let’s not even get into merchandising.

The longevity of the program and the affect it has had on the world is astonishing. It’s not just a cartoon, it’s not just some television show that people tune into, it has become a cultural icon and a way of life. The Simpsons is a staple of American television that has spread internationally. No show has run for a longer period of time, and that’s in large part to the writing. Animation can survive in a world of sensitivity and regulations. One: it’s not reality. In this last decade or so reality show craze that audiences have been manipulated by, we forget that creation is a form of imagination; it’s a form of appreciating art and escaping the normal mundane life most people live, but still finding a relation to keep viewers coming back. Two: Cartoons push the limits of the FCC. They are able to poke fun at real life because no one takes it seriously; it’s a cartoon! Three: there’s no aging process. The characters remain consistent so humor can always be derived from current affairs, political follies, and pop culture.

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Photo courtesy of tvrage.com

Generations can relate to The Simpsons. Seriously think about, the show has spanned the life of college graduates who have gone onto complete their Master’s program. It’s simply amazing. Personally, after watching bits and pieces of the marathon every day, I can’t believe how many episodes I have actually seen, and now I even get some of the jokes that I didn’t understand as a kid. Everyone knows Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie; everyone knows the side characters; everyone knows quotes from the show and at least one song; everyone knows the famed actors, athletes, broadcasters, and politicians that have guest starred (vocally of course); and everyone knows that The Simpsons are an average American family struggling to get by for the last couple of decades like most of us. Hell, the influence has grown so much that I live in a town where the baseball team is directly related to the show! Now that’s great television.

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Thank you Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon for everything.