March 22, 2011
In the wide weird world of sports, when it rains, it pours. Just when I thought I wouldn’t have to put up with the pompous NFL for an entire year, the equally-pompous pundits who claim to know such things have been hinting that it’s all posturing on both sides and, when push comes to shove, the players and owners will settle their nine-billion-dollar squabble.
Drat! Who gave optimism a seat at the table? I had so hoped that both entities would remove themselves from the equation and leave it to the lawyers to slug it out down at the corner of Avarice and Greed. Nothing, I figured, could prolong the NFL fan’s agony and, conversely, my ecstasy, like good old American jurisprudence.
And, lo and behold, my wish came true! Time ran out on the old collective bargaining agreement, the players decertified their union, the owners announced a "lockout," and the attorneys for both sides, armed with cinched-up chinstraps and the moral high ground, took to the pitch.
In my reverie, I anticipated a scenario whereby this sequence of events would culminate in a black hole from which neither side would emerge intact. A rather just outcome, if I do say so myself. Quite sound — especially in a karmic sense! If they wish to be perceived, as they continually sermonize, that theirs is a sport worthy of a 12-month news cycle, then let the news reflect the same lack of subtlety inherent to their sport.
Rather vitriolic of me, I admit. And if one were to peel back a layer or two of what is often whimsically referred to as my "unconscious" mind, the driving force behind such passionate outbursts might well show its face.
What it comes down to is that this time of year I’m much too busy conjuring up the sweet smell of neat’s-foot oil being rubbed deep into a ball glove to have time for whether or not Steeler season-ticket holders, even in the face of a prolonged lockout, still have to cough up cash to retain their seats.
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Don’t they understand that the month of March is about baseball and spring training? How, I ask, are my Dodgers supposed to hone the fine art of leaving men on base if everyone around them including their coaching staff is focused on the NFL? Continually failing to hit behind the runner is not a skill-set that comes without muscle-memory.
The inability to properly execute the "squeeze play" is also an acquired skill and the kind of repetition that is available during spring training to young ballplayers is invaluable. If left to their own devices, my Dodgers might well implode the result of which could well be the stringing together of timely base hits, heaven forbid.
And then there’s the pitching staff, all with attention spans short enough to feel completely at home following the nuances of football. What they don’t need is for news of an impending collective bargaining agreement in the NFL to cloud their already-foggy abilities to discern between a cut-fastball and a backdoor slider.
There will be time aplenty to focus on football come early autumn. This is not that time! Now is the time to see if that young infielder who played in AA last season is ready for "the show." I mean, what’s more intriguing, the identity of the Dodgers opening-day starter or a newly-instituted rookie salary cap in the NFL?
I’m sure not everybody is completely on board with me on this but I’ve always been much more of a baseball guy than a pro-football fan. College football, with which I’m totally enamored, always seems to know its place. Not that they’ve got their act together by any stretch, but they allow other sports time in the sun.
So, hopefully, those involved in the incessantly over-the-top media coverage on the current lack of negotiations between the NFL players and owners can find some other topic within which to become obsessed like, maybe, whether the Philadelphia Phillies current starting rotation is the best of all time.
Or whether Manuel "Manny" Aristides Ramírez Onelcida can blossom in his new role as designated hitter for the Tampa Bay Rays. Imagine, if you will, Manny winning the Comeback Player of the Year Award. Now that would be a cool story. At least as cool as which top gridiron prospects are being successfully seduced by the organization formerly known as the NFL Players Association to boycott the upcoming NFL Draft ceremony.
Play ball! In fact, let’s play two!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for the past 40 years.