Archive for the 'Sports' Category



In keeping with the currently jocky mood, a few reading suggestions:

Roland Barthes answers the question What is Sport?

“What need have these men to attack? Why are men disturbed by this spectacle? Why are the totally committed to it? Why this useless combat?”


Also see Robert Coover’s great baseball novel: The Universal Baseball Association Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.

Here’s what the Times thinks.


Finally, if horse racing is more your bag, you could do worse than attempt some John Hawkes. I know one of you already took me up on this and should probably return my book…


Response: The Top 5 Reasons Dan Shaughnessy is a Moron

Spring is nearly upon us! The Grapefruit league is beginning. The Red Sox have finished their annual trouncings of the local college teams, so it’s time to bring on the real competition. But wait, there might be some trouble ahead this year… that all depends on who you ask. If your source is Dan Shaughnessy I am concerned.

It’s one thing to write an anonymous comment to an article posted on the Boston Globe website, joining the parade of uneducated and uniformed negativity. It’s another thing to be arguably the most established Red Sox writer, on a national website, writing an article that tries to shoot the team’s entire season in the foot before it begins.


So let’s break this down:

1) Jason Bay is an old streaky hitter, who does not field well, and has some major health questions. The Mets overpaid him, drastically. Mr. Shaughnessy please get over your sour grapes about the Red Sox not wanting to do the same. Is he a subpar athlete? A bad baseball player? Of course not, I certainly enjoyed him while he was on the Sox. But, is he worth the money that the Mets threw at him? Of Course not. His services were simply not worth his demands. The way the free agent market is set up this happens all the time. Get over it.

2) Definitively stating that Jacoby Ellsbury will become a drastically worse player by shifting to left field, and that Josh Beckett is in his final season with the Red Sox, has no factual basis whatsoever. Why would the Red Sox let their most dominant pitcher since the prime of Schilling walk? Because they paid the market value for the best available starter? That seems like highly sound logic to me… As for Ellsbury he is a young player with a massive upside. Odds are very good, baring serious injury, that he will steal 70 or more bases, that he will continue to perform in the field, and will become more confident at the plate with a 3rd full season of experience, all of this still occurring regardless of where he stands in the field.

3) Ragging on David Ortiz is like shooting fish in a barrel. He’s old, has less protection in the lineup than he once did, should not be paid the money he’s currently receiving, and tested positive for steroids 7 years ago. These are the facts of the situation. I don’t really know how restating them adds anything to the article. Everyone who knows anything about the Red Sox knows these things, why beat a dead horse? The other facts of the situation, that Mr. Shaughnessy decides to disregard, are that Ortiz will hit home runs. He won’t be reliable at the plate, but he will hit an above average amount of home runs.  After complaining about the fact that the free agent acquisitions this offseason were focused on defense, and claiming that “Historically, the Sox have won games with a lot of home runs,” it seems like a major oversight to forget the close to 30 home runs Ortiz will probably hit this season. Will he suddenly cease to hit home runs because you don’t like him anymore Mr. Shaughnessy?

4) Mike Lowell WILL NOT PLAY A GAME FOR THE RED SOX THIS SEASON!!! You heard it hear first folks…

5) This article completely forgets anything positive about what the Red Sox have done going into this season. How about the fact that they have arguably the best front three starters in baseball?  The competition, the Yankees or Angels for example, have nothing close to the combined dominance of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey. How about the fact that the Red Sox actively pursued, and got, all of the best free agent players for the positions that needed filling? I realize that Scutaro is not Ripken, and Beltre is not A-rod, Cameron is not Griffey in his prime, and Lackey is not Nolan Ryan, but, three out of  four are drastic improvements over the people they replaced. The defense on the left side of the infield last season was embarrassing at best, costing a lot of hits and runs, and let’s not even discuss Penny or Smoltz.

The real moral of the story here folks is that this team will win a lot of games. I would be shocked if they won less than 90. They will probably go to the playoffs, and they will probably do well there. If there are problems during the season, they will be fixed by the trading deadline. Odds are good that more than one Gold Glove will be won by this team. Calm down a little bit Mr. Shaughnessy, Red Sox nation, we’re fielding a great team and we have a great farm system. It’s not like we’re the Pirates.


Happy Birthday USA

It is the 4th of July. There is a coup in Honduras. Michael Jackson is dead. Sarah Palin quit.

Today is hot and thickly aired. Real unemployment is solidly entrenched in the double digits. Today is darkening. Please go outside and watch the fireworks and if you are lucky you might get a girl’s arm next to yours. Steve McNair was killed. Roger Federer is in another final and Tiger Woods is tied for the lead.

I learned that echidnas have cloacas and 4-headed penises.




About half Georges Perec’s ‘W’ consists of a description of an island, the titular W, on which the residents care only about Sport. Living to compete and competing in order to live, W’s residents are reduced to a brutal and cruel existence in which comfort is only guaranteed to a handful of parasitic bureaucrats that build their power on the perfect young bodies of the island’s athletes. Given Perec’s biography, ‘W’ is easily read as a critique of fascism and the Nazi state.

Perec’s model for the competitions on ‘W’ were the Olympics. As is well known, the Olympic Games were a site of massive international controversy when they were held in Hitler’s Germany in 1936. This collision of sport, spectacle, and power grounded the force of Perec’s novel.

However, only a few decades earlier, the Olympics were less spectacle than farce. In the 1904 Summer Games in St. Louis, more than half of the athletes were American and many events had no non-American competitors. Besides the officially sanctioned Olympic Events, the 1904 Games featured competitions like a local YMCA swim meet.

The most absurd event was the Marathon. Here are some facts culled from Wikipedia:

– The first to arrive was Frederick Lorz, who actually was just trotting back to the finish line to retrieve his clothes, after dropping out after nine miles. When the officials thought he had won the race, Lorz played along with his practical joke until he was found out shortly after the medal ceremony and was banned for a year by the AAU for this stunt, later winning the 1905 Boston Marathon.

– Thomas Hicks (a Briton running for the United States) was the first to cross the finish-line legally, after having received several doses of strychnine sulfate mixed with brandy from his trainers. He was supported by his trainers when he crossed the finish, but is still considered the winner. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and possibly would have died in the stadium, had he not been treated by several doctors.

– A Cuban postman named Felix Carbajal joined the marathon. He had to run in street clothes that he cut around the legs to make them look like shorts. He stopped off in an orchard en route to have a snack on some apples, which turned out to be rotten. The rotten apples caused him to have to lie down and take a nap. Despite falling ill to apples he finished in fourth place.

– The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics; two Tswana tribesmen named Len Tau (real name: Len Taunyane) and Yamasani (real name: Jan Mashiani). But they weren’t there to compete in the Olympics, they were actually the sideshow. They had been brought over by the exposition as part of the Boer War exhibit (both were really students from Orange Free State in South Africa, but this fact was not made known to the public). Len Tau finished ninth and Yamasani came in twelfth. This was a disappointment, as many observers were sure Len Tau could have done better if he had not been chased nearly a mile off course by aggressive dogs.

December 2020