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Reprising their Role in Baseball’s Greek Tragedy

This season, I haven’t followed the Red Sox as ardently as I have in the past.  But given that they were in town, and playing the Yankees this weekend, I decided I would watch all four games.  So I watched.  I cringed.  And I, along with the Red Sox, suffered.

Prior to 2004, the story of the Red Sox had always been that of a Greek tragedy.  The villains were Buckner and Boone and the curse of the Bambino.  You knew it was going to end badly.  You knew that the Sox would get your hopes up, only to be crushed in the end.  Season after season, it was a hopeless cause–like world peace.  You wanted it to happen, but you knew that in the end, darker forces (the Yankees, the Taliban) would always be in the way. 

But then, 2004 happened.  We won the world championship, beat the Yankees, and eradicated the dreaded “Curse”.  Then, in 2007, we did it again.  Suddenly, the Red Sox franchise was associated with winning.  It was a strange feeling.

losersThus, I watched the Sox play this weekend, fully expecting that we would win (at least one)…  But we lost the first three games.  And around 11:15ish tonight, the Yankees blew away our 2-1 lead and scored four runs in the bottom of the 8th.  5-2, Yankees, and we were down to our last inning.  (The collective “we” is what makes it all the more heartbreaking, especially since I feel the pain even though I have no control over the outcome of the game, no matter how much I yell at the players through the TV.)  Yet, while I instinctively knew that I should skip the inevitable conclusion of the 9th inning, that tiny glimmer of ’04/’07 hope kept me watching.  Damn, Red Sox.  I’d have an easier time turning away from a train wreck.

Of course, we got the tying run to the plate against Mariano Rivera, and then lost.  Losers once again.

So, in my postgame huff, I started to write about how much I hated the Yankees.  My first line was: “Rooting for the Yankees is like encouraging the rich kids to steal food from the homeless.”  But I figured that a rant about the haves vs. the have-nots would be somewhat unfair, given the Red Sox’s payroll. (Although it is $80 million less than that of the Yankees, or should I say, Bankees. Ha, ha.  Thanks, TARP backlash.)

Instead, I’ve realized that as much as I do, legitimately, hate the Yankees (after all, they steal from the homeless), I’m starting to hate on the Red Sox too.  I hate J.D. Drew and the $14 million we pay him to hit singles.  I hate how Big Papi’s (potential) PED use has cast doubt over the legitimacy of those world championships.  I hate that I believe the Sox can win all the time — it was so much easier when I’d already prepared myself for failure.  And I hate Tek’s balky knees, Beckett’s facial hair, all Red Sox shortstops, and how sweaty Youk gets during the games.  I appreciate the effort, but it’s nasty.

Lastly, I hate myself a little bit too — I hate how I’ve wasted so much time caring.  This time could have been spent on world peace. 

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Semi-Serious Ideas in Entertainment

singled-out1. MTV FOR OLD PEOPLE: With a rapidly aging population and a surplus of baby boomers who still want to stay hip, I propose the creation of a new TV network for the older demographic. Like its teenage counterpart MTV, FOP (“For Old People”) could feature variations on popular shows. There could be FOP versions of classic MTV hits, like Singled Out: Octogenarians, My Super Sweet One Hundred (Esther gets a new motorized scooter!), or True Life: I’m a Denture Capitalist. Some other ideas for FOP programming: Survivor: Nursing Home, Are You Smarter Than a Senile Old Coot, and The Amazing Race to Heaven.

 

madoffd2. RENAME PUNK’D: In our new recessionary era, Madoff’d is the new Punk’d. The pilot episode could feature a $65 billion bonfire, with Bernie lighting up dollar bills while Alan Greenspan roasts marshmallows over the flames. Then Kutcher’s lackeys can go around to all of Madoff’s former investors and give them their pile of ash, along with a S’more. You just got Madoff’d! This can be followed by a new Publishers Clearinghouse show, where we watch Ed McMahon as he goes into people’s houses with a big camera crew and, “Surprise!” — forecloses their homes.

sesame

3. MODERNIZE SESAME STREET: With these hard new times, let’s see the effect of unemployment on the Street. Are Bert and Ernie worried about paying bills? Does Big Bird look extra-frazzled? Is there a surplus of unemployed day laborers in the neighborhood? This is a great opportunity to get toddlers thinking about the impact of credit default swaps on their cookie jar. “A is for AIG, B is for bankruptcy, C is for collateralized debt obligations… and F is for failure.” And speaking of cookies, maybe we can also encourage the Cookie Monster to watch his waistline. Yogurt Monster might not be as fun, but he’ll probably live longer.

gladiators

4. AMERICAN GLADIATORS MEETS C-SPAN: Every few years, we deal with the same drama in House, Senate, and Presidential elections. There are counts and recounts, hanging chads and run-off votes. There are promises and lies, hacks and phonies, Joe the Plumbers and Sarah Palins. (No wonder there’s political apathy in this country.) What if there was an easier way to decide it all? Why can’t we just run all our politicians through the Eliminator? (Junior Senators and House reps can opt for the easier Aggro Crag on GUTS instead.) The real decisionmakers, though, must perform Gladiator-style. They must face ‘roided up men and manly women. They’ll joust with Justice and try to deport Helga. The Eliminator will test their physical strength and mettle, and all of it will be shown on national TV. Then after the competition, Ryan Seacrest will announce the winner: “America, you voted… The new President of the United States is… Find out after the commercial break!”


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Where Have All The Good Times Gone?

Last summer, we were just coming to the realization that the economy might be in some trouble… Bear Stearns had fallen, oil prices were skyrocketing, and George W. Bush was still President. It wasn’t a good time.

We started 2009 thinking that the bad karma in ’08 was all in the past… but a quick comparison suggests that it may be rougher now compared to back then:

YOUNG LOVE
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Nick Jonas breaks up with Miley Cyrus over the phone Chris Brown breaks Rihanna’s heart… and her nose Obviously Chris Brown… you don’t send your girlfriend to the hospital, ever
POLITICKIN’
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Sarah Palin campaigning for the Vice Preisdency Tim Geithner campaigning for $789 billion Sarah Palin by a wink
CHEATING
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
A-Rod and Madonna A-Rod and a syringe Almost a toss-up between infidelity and ‘roids, but the juice is illegal… so it’s got to be worse
FAVRE ME
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Brett Favre un-retires Brett Favre re-retires Un-retired Brett Favre… the last month of the season counts
BABIES R US
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Angelina Jolie has twins! Crazy Angelina wannabe has octuplets! Crazy woman… Angelina only has 6 kids compared to her litter of 14
POOF!
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
$11 billion (August market cap of soon-to-die Lehman) $50 billion (Bernie) Yup, a vanishing $50 billion is worse…
THE DOW
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Down 9% from June to August, finishing just over 11,000 Down 10% year-to-date, clocking in under 8,000 Help.

Final count of crappiness? Summer ’08: 2… Winter ’09: 5

So, things are definitely not getting any better in 2009. In fact, they’re really spiraling more and more out of control, towards utter despair and desolation. But… at least we totally kicked last summer’s ass.

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