Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Melancholy b4 Madness

This time of year stinks for the sports fan. Football’s calendar has ended. Stale slam dunk competitions can’t hold more than 20 minutes worth of intrigue. College hoops captures 2 hours of evening, but the fact remains that they are still playing a bunch meaningless games before the madness begins. Only harden gym rats are discussing conference standings, RPI and who’s in right now. It’s the dead of winter and spring football, the draft, the Final Four, the Masters, MLB seem so remote, just like the program I’m Lost and alone on an island, except colder.

Yearly, these doldrums devour me- Seasonal Affect Disorder, perhaps. I prefer to label it Sports Addicted Depression or SAD. Being an addict, I’ll try anything to get my “February fix” – I’m a junkie. NASCAR – give me a toke of Smoke. What Bowling on Sunday’s?! Sure give me a hit of Pete Weber for an hour. Bass Masters, I’ll drink that up. Kevin VanDam – You da Man! Even though I know that it is going to be unfulfilling, it is all about staving off the craving.

Don’t know what it is, but in February nothing satisfies my sports pallet. Hoops, absolutely love it during other times, but Hearth Month – not so much. My wife tried in vain to help me beat that blah feeling. To cheer me up, she reminded me the Winter Olympics were next. Are those real sports? Can’t anyone go out, find a hill, hop on sled, cardboard for Southerners, and go down? I know that it is not good for my psyche, but I’ll probably be tuned in, which is the VERY reason I got even more depressed because I remembered what happened 4 and then 8 years ago. The anticipation of more agony is just killin’ me. (I wrote the following piece four years ago, trying to break through this cycle. It compares Ice Skating to professional Wrestling. Humor yourself at my misery back then.)

I always knew that Ice Skating was fixed. Now you have “Icegate” to prove it. For some Ice Skating is that beautiful tale of romance. Of the dainty, damsel in distress saved, lifted up by her handsome hero; her head spinning with dizziness until she collapses in his arms at the end. To me the “sport” resembles more closely old school wrestling than it does classical ballet.

Even before the action can take place you need a hawker…I mean promoter. Skating has NBC, and the WWF has Jim McMahon. They once collaborated to give us “football on the edge” (I feel breakfast coming up). At any rate, you have two teams of seasoned professionals, who are excellent at their craft. After the “exhibition”, you still have more required “elements”.

In figure skating, the performer moves on to the staging area. They’re meet by their coach, who whispers something in their ear and they begin to cry. The judges also watch this performance, too. They cry when they’re happy. They cry when they’ve fallen or disappointed. They cry over the fact that they are indeed crying just like they are supposed to cry. But make no mistake about it, the required crying comes next. Ensuing the emotional outburst comes anxiety. Skaters must demonstrate proficiency with this skill as well. They must wring their hands, their coach’s hands, and if applicable their partner’s hands or the obligatory stuffed teddy bear may be substituted for a partner. They are critiqued on level of tension created from all of the wrenching and overall facial expressions. Fans cheer and throw things. Ushers pick up.

In the WWF the exiting performer comes to the staging area. On his way he meets his “trainer”, given a towel to wring, who whispers something in his ear. Then he lets the audience and the announcer know how unstable his emotions are. One of the three things consist of the next element: 1) he just wrings the towel with unintelligible groans, 2) he wrings the announcers neck, quickly broken up by the handler or 3) fisticuffs breakout & the bell rings (usually this option happens at the end). But in any situation something has to be rung or wrung out, increasing the tension. Also in all cases, the performers are judged on level of angst produced by the antics and overall facial expressions. Fans jeer and throw objects. Ushers sweep up.

Both have the event, staging, an emotional eruption, and both have either animate or inanimate things that need to be wrung. As a result there is fan participation, tossing occurs and clean up is necessary. All must happen, in order, before the long program can proceed… Please stop pushing the silver, piece of bamboo you are slowly sliding underneath my finger nail before it reaches my knuckle.

Least we should forget the main event fours years ago between the two most infamous combatants. Imagine Gordon Solie with the call. “In this corner you have the unheralded Tonya “THE UNDERTAKER” Hardin. In the far corner, dressed in purple sequins with red feathers, whining about it, you have Nancy “CARRY A GUN” Kerrigan. Both land a double, followed by a “SOW COW” (Sal chow). OOOOOO that’s gotta hurt. Can you believe this action? Nancy pulls off a triple axel. Wait! Wait a minute! It looks like THE UNDERTAKER has gotten some foreign object inside the ring.. rink, excuse me. Tonya lands a beautiful tire iron. OOOOh did she nail that one. Nancy GOES down!”

Just like in “rastlin’”, the guy from “parts unknown” ain’t going to win. The same is true in skating. You have to be among the elite before you’re in gold medal contention. No matter how much better the understudy is. Most importantly as recent events with the Canadian couple point out, IT WAS FIXED, and the only people not in on the take of the predetermined outcome were those millions of spectators who are passion about it. Like WWF when the popular guy does not win the first time, he wins the next round, just to keep mayhem at arms distant. The plot thickens even more, you have the once rivals kiss, hug, make up and become a tag team. The announcers rave on and on about the spontaneity and joyousness of the moment. Everybody cries.

That sight, that depiction, indeed tripped my gag reflex. Now the rest of my body aches as much as my head. It has been a very long winter. Have you finally figured skating out?

To quote Tom Hanks’ one liner: “THERE IS NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!” Need I say more!

I thank GOD I heard those 5 little, magical words….”Pitchers and catchers reported today.”…..Hope springs eternal.

The Daytona 500, conference tourneys and the NBA All Star game the NBA And 1 contest will have to carry and comfort me this last half of February. ‘Til then, Keep Hope Alive!

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