A Sheep in Lions’ clothing

A Sheep in Lions’ clothing … that’s just the sort of moronic pun that would elicit a visit from the grand poobah of journalistic dignity and literary propriety at the word-manufacturing plant where I spend my workdays.

By now you’ve probably heard the fate of poor James Sheep, the hard-working Penn State senior who climbs inside that cuddly Nittany Lions outfit, does the one-handed push-ups and allows himself to be passed from inebriated student to inebriated student during football games at Beaver Stadium.

Yes, the fabled Nittany Lion was arrested on a DUI charge, and school officials said he could be left off the traveling squad for Penn State’s Jan. 1 visit to the Rose Bowl.

After one careless night of serving as chauffeur to a Beverly Hillbillies-sized contingent of shitfaced friends and acquaintances, he’s a national whipping boy. One anonymous Photoshop wag produced the following reaction to Sheep’s night of infamy:

Enough already! OK, just one more.

Enough already! OK, OK, just one more.

It’s just not fair. Sheep’s just following the herd. Keeping up with the Joneses. And Scirrottos. And Bells. You might have noticed that Penn State, home of Joe Paterno’s grand experiment, has been catching up on a lot of the bad press its missed out on over most of the coach’s neverending reign.

Could it be that Sheep’s bad behavior is the unfortunate result of his toxic environment?

Since 2002, a slash-and-burn investigation by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” discovered that 46 Penn State football players have faced 163 criminal charges. Twenty-seven players have been convicted of or have pleaded guilty to a combined 45 counts.

That’s a lot of bad role models, let me tell you.

So, before you rush to judgment and join the mob salivating to pillory Sheep, pause for a moment to consider what you might’ve done had you spent a season or two in his costume and running with a pack of unsavory Lions.

Editor’s note: During the Michigan State game, on the afternoon following his unfortunate arrest, Sheep was honored for serving as the mascot for nearly two years. Now that’s good, wholesome news your children and neighbors can benefit from.


Happy Birthday, Donovan McNabb!


Donovan wants Andy to lose a little weight, remember to take out the trash, buy him flowers every once in a while and cherish the quiet moments together. Andy wants Donovan to stop fumbling the fucking ball and completing passes to the other goddamn team.

I know a lot of strange, once unimaginable things have occurred since I last posted on this weblog.

I considered opening with a phony mea culpa and trotting out a laundry list of excuses for not posting since August. But what’s the point?

The reason for the absence of activity is simple: The Rube is downright lazy.

Always has been.

Always will be.

The Rube is to laziness what Babe Ruth was to prodigious inebriation and epic home runs. What Wilt Chamberlain was to scoring with basketballs and bimbos. What George W. Bush is to – oh, well, you get the idea. Lazy.

A lot of people, from Bristol, Conn., to Philadelphia to various other points on the world media map too stupefying to contemplate, are analyzing the fallout that will consume the Philadelphia Eagles in the wake of Donovan McNabb’s halftime benching on Sunday. It’s a mini-media circus.

Yes, Donovan McNabb probably won’t be in Philadelphia next year, the Eagles probably won’t be relevant again until 2020, and Andy Reid probably will explode, unleashing a disgusting torrent of blood, viscera and partially digested Oreos on horrified bystanders.

This is all very important, but it troubles me. I worry that the omnivorous media, in the course of practicing due diligence and showing uncommon restraint, will nonetheless inflict great harm on Andy and Donovan by exploiting their professional problems at a such a delicate time in their personal relationship.

Everybody wants a piece of this story. Even the venerable Bill Conlin, no doubt stunned by the way his withering cynicism prodded the Phillies to their first World Series championship (World Fucking Champions!) in 25 years, brings his literary élan to bear on this subject.

Things like this have a way of getting messy and devolving in ways nobody intended or anticipated. ESPN.com’s James Walker already thinks there’s good reason to be worried about Donovan’s mental health, keenly detecting “disappointment, shock and loneliness” in McNabb’s body language Sunday. And he’s probably on to something. First there was the whole embarrassing episode where he didn’t know that NFL games could end in ties. Then this. So much pressure. A man might crack under the strain.


Disappointment, shock, and yes, loneliness. So ronery.

Today, the Rube offers a birthday prayer: On Donovan McNabb’s 32nd birthday, I beg Ashley Fox and John Smallwood and Phil Sheridan and Bob Ford and Matt Moseley and Merril Hoge and the rest of our friends in the mainstream media to take a deep breath, extend Donovan best wishes and give Andy and Donovan some breathing room to work out their differences. Please halt the madness, if only for a moment.

Thank you!

P.S. Donovan and Andy will celebrate their 10th anniversary on April 17, the date the Eagles plucked the fledgling NFL quarterback with the second pick in the NFL draft. Traditionally, tin and aluminum are the discerning buyer’s choice for 10th anniversary, though in modern times, given as we are to gaudy excess, diamond jewelry has become popular. So says Wikipedia. All offerings should be sent to:

Donovan and Andy Forever
CO Philadelphia Eagles

NovaCare Complex
One NovaCare Way
Philadephia, PA 19145

The Cup of Christ (or, Beach Football)!!!

As rivalries go, this one has been a lifetime in the making.

Literally, brother vs. brother.

As every chapter is written, with each victory and mirroring defeat, both sides live or die, rise or fall, smile or cry with one another in mind.

What was once a healthy competition, has evolved into an all-consuming disease. Neither side will ever truly satisfy their lust for victory or quench their ultimate thirst for domination. But they must continue to return, if only to deny their opponent even a minor moment of enjoyment.

And so it was this year in the annual battle for the legendary Beach Party Cup. For those of you who don’t know about it–fuck off. For the rest of you out there, read ’em and weep Gray Team.

Not only will we continue to drink from the sacred plastic gold chalice all year long, but you will never taste the goodness of a frothy beverage from its confines again! The Red Team rules! Beach Party ’08 Champs!

Box score:

Grayland Beach Bowl ‘08

Red Shirts 4, Gray Shirts 3 (3OT)
Gray 0 1 2 0 0 0 0— 3
Red 0 0 0 3 0 0 1— 4
Second Quarter
Gray—Parker 10 pass from Pollock.
Third Quarter
Gray—T. Smith 15 pass from Pollock.
Gray—Beck 5 pass from T. Smith.
Fourth Quarter
Red—J. Turnbull 15 pass from T. Turnbull.
Red—J. Turnbull 12 pass from T. Turnbull.
Red—J. Turnbull 8 pass from T. Turnbull.
Third Overtime
Red—Aguilera 7 pass from T. Turnbull.

Memo to Bob Costas

Dear Robert,

Please disregard any residual vitriol that might stain this letter, for I’m just one more representative of the hateful vermin that crawl will-nilly through the blogosphere, one more pathetic, get-a-life loser.
But, Bob, I’m worried about you.
Somewhere along the line, you evolved from one of America’s most perspicacious, informed observers of the sports world to the self-appointed watchdog for the true spirit of athletic competition.
I don’t watch a lot of TV, so I’m not sure when or how this occurred. But there seems little doubt that it’s happened, Bob.
I’m sure you’ve never intended this. It’s likely you have no idea that you’ve gone from welcome living-room guest to insufferable panjandrum, as our powers of insight can weaken significantly when we turn our gaze upon ourselves.
If you’re not teaming with an apoplectic Buzz Bissinger to assail the vulgarity of bloggers, Bob, you’re coming down on Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt for his world-record performance in the 100 meters in Beijing.
Again, I didn’t see your commentary, so maybe it’s a little unfair of me to reference this latest example of your growing priggishness. I gather you found Bolt’s short-of-the-finish-line exuberance disrespectful to fellow competitors and fans alike, not to mention the righteous poobahs of the corporate media colossus.
Really, Bob? Aren’t you better than this?
You sit amid a global marketing circus put on by the shamefully hypocritical International Olympic Committee and hosted by a totalitarian government desperately trying to rein in its burgeoning population of 1.3 billion, and this is the best you can come up with for a morality play?
A little showboating on the way to … an Olympic gold medal and world record?
Even in the unlikely event, as at least one person suggested, that Bolt slowed his pace for financial reasons, does this really make him an apt subject for your ire?
You’re not listening, are you, Bob?
You serve at the pleasure of NBC Universal, which is part of an $800 billion godzilla called General Electric, one of the the world’s great manufacturers of military hardware and other assorted instruments of widespread death, and you’re vilifying a Jamaican sprinter for celebrating prior to the finish line in a race he won?
Have you lost your sense of perspective, Bob?
I know there might be some logical fallacy here, Bob, implying that somehow your hands are dirty just because NBC pays you an heiress’ ransom for the rental of your wit and wisdom.
But you know what the ancients said about little men in glass houses, right?
Instead of turning your finely honed rapier on Usain Bolt, Bob, you might’ve apologized to your audience for burying the 100 meters in your coverage. Perhaps if an American runner had won the race, this might not have been so. I hate to accuse you or your paymasters at NBC of having a provincial outlook, but I’m going to have to do it anyway.
I digress, Bob. I didn’t set out to wallow in negativity and meanness. I simply wanted to give you a heads-up, hoping there’s a slim chance you might turn back from your course and rediscover a little humility along the way.
Because, Bob, I am sorry.
It’s just sad, Bob Costas as Little General (sorry for gratuitous reference to your stature), overlord of all that is good in sport and grand inquisitor of all that might corrupt.
Perhaps it’s not too late, Bob.
I know you’re a student of history, Bob, so I’ll leave you with that oft-quoted, cautionary warning given to us by Lord Acton.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
Tread carefully, Bob.



Seat-of-the-pants frontrunner

What do you cretins want, back-to-back division titles?

The long-suffering, occasionally short-sighted fans of the City of Brotherly Love’s mercurial baseball team are seething with rage and dreaming whimsically of full-scale rebellion.
The bloggers are breathless, and their irate devotees are hurling invectives across cyberspace with the incendiary quality of Molotov cocktails.
They were mad enough when the Phillies lost three in a row to the Dodgers and fell into a tie for first-place in the National League East.
But now comes MVP shortstop Jimmy Rollins, in an appearance with teammate Ryan Howard on that damn sports show, calling the notoriously troubled fans of Philadelphia “frontrunners.”
Then, apparently stealing a line from Montaigne, he derided Phillies fans as “the mother of ignorance, injustice and inconstancy.”
Mon dieu!
Rollins did more than impugn the already dubious name of the Fanaticus Philadelphiensis. Apparently unsure they possessed the sensitivy to feel the sting of his barb, he went so far as to say that Phillies fans are a whole lot worse than St. Louis Cardinals fans.
It’s really hard to know whom to side with in this escalating love-hate affair.
Let’s take a look at their respective cases:
First, the fans:
Say what you will about their poor table manners and judgmental natures, Phillies fans have been showing up at the ballpark in numbers that tend to support that beloved aphorism, erroneously attributed to Phineas T. Barnum, that suckers tend to reproduce at an alarming level.
The Phillies rank fifth in the major leagues in fans per game and are on pace to draw more than 4 millions broken-hearted losers to Citizens Bank Park this season, shattering franchise attendance records. They drew more than 3 million last year, when the Phillies needed an epic collapse by the Mets to become something approximating a frontrunner.
And this probably is arguing over semantics, but it is hard to imagine Phillies fans as literal frontrunners. Their team has won a single World Series in 105 years, and they existed for 20 years before the World Series was born. They remain the only major league franchise to accumulate the staggering figure of 10,000 losses. A legion of Phillies fans have known little else but disappointment.

As for Rollins’ preference for Cardinals fans, we’ll introduce potentially mitigating evidence in support of their Philadelphia counterparts.
Cardinals fans, if more good-natured than Phillies fans, have some cause to be well-adjusted. The Cards have won 10 World Series to the Phillies one, and 17 National League pennants to the Phils’ five. They even won four straight American Association titles in the 1880s. The Phillies never won a National League crown in those fallow years prior to the dawn of the World Series.
Now for Jimmy:
Well, it has been a rough season for the increasingly maligned shortstop. He’s making only $8 million this season, just a fraction more than deposed starting pitcher Adam Eaton gets. The fans aren’t booing Eaton, either. At least not now. Of course, he’s pitching in Reading for the franchise’s Double-A affiliate.
But, when you consider their respective salaries, and what with Jimmy being the reigning National League MVP and all, you can see where he might get to feeling ill-used and unappreciated.
What’s more, fans have been raining boos down upon him with a vengeance and flaying him viciously in the blogosphere.
He’s been benched twice by manager Charlie Manuel this season, once for not running out a pop fly and once for showing up late for a game at Shea Stadium.
After the not-running-out-the-pop-fly incident, fans on one blog went so far as to give him the malicious nickname “J-Stroll.”
Hey, you’d be angry too, if you got punished for niggling offenses that should only apply to non-MVP winners.
The verdict:
First, a confession.
That I am a Phillies fan is an accident of birth. I moved 3,000 miles away, thinking I could outrun their perennial failures. I succeeded for many years, until their sudden return to prominence resusciitated my interest.
Therefore, I cop to the charges Rollins leveled.
I’m a dyed-in-the-wool frontrunner.
It’s excruciating enough to follow this team when they’re in or about contention. It’s plain masochism when they’re bad.
I used to fancy myself as a quasi-intelligent creature.
Now I find myself seething when Chase Utley grounds into a double play with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game, and angrily threatening to forswear my allegiance when Ryan Howard strikes out with the go-ahead run on third and fewer than two outs.
I know when these ephemeral events occur because, in the age of the Internet, it is too easy to keep tabs on games taking place on the other side of the world.
And so I neglect my work, impulsively clicking onto ESPN.com’s gamecasts to keep inning-by-inning tabs on my forlorn favorites.
It gets worse.
On more than one Sunday I’ve sat hunched over my home keyboard, my infant son sleeping on my shoulder as the summer sun shines outside, huddling in the semi-darkness, clicking the “refresh” icon and following the action in halting fashion.
When the gamecast was not fast enough, I began to consult a fan blog, gleaning the team’s latest successes and pratfalls from the relief and vitriol of posters watching the game on TV thousands of miles away.
There must be more than this to life.
Sure, I don’t get you Jimmy Rollins and your seeming lack of urgency when it comes to a season that is fast slipping away from the Phillies. First you dismiss your fans, then you go 0-for-5 and strikes out twice in another frustrating defeat.
But I get less why I should be so consumed by his successes and failures, and that of his teammates, his coaches and the team’s front-office personnel.
If I’m stupid enough to fritter away my fleeting time on such a trivial obsession, I shouldn’t get bent out of shape when the object of my obsession calls me a frontrunner.
What’s more, he’s right.
I’m a frontrunner.
A fairweather fan.
A poor excuse for a human being.
A despicable, pathetic, cowardly wretch.
Mea culpa, Jimmy Rollins.
Mea culpa.

Favre a J-E-T (reportedly)

There are reports! Finally, reports!

It’s allegedly official. Reports are coming in. Stuart Scott says so. ESPN just ran a full screen graphic saying “Breaking News!”

Write it on your calender. This is the moment: Wednesday August 6, 2008, 11:50 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. It is being reported by some unnamed, unknown, unidentified, anonymous source that Brett Favre is reportedly headed to the New York Football Jets!

According to ESPN’s Neil Everett, “It’s the news that a nation has been waiting for – a sports nation!”

Really? Where the fuck is the damn sports nation and why am I somehow not affiliated. ‘Cause honestly Holmes, I don’t give a flying fuck where the stupid prima donna bitch is going. And, if I did, I would want a little more than a report. More than innuendo. I’d want fucking fact, yo. So get off the damn TV, go talk to some motherfuckers involved, and come back when you know a little more than an alleged report from FOX news. …

Oh wait: 12:03 a.m. EDT. Neil Everett interrupts his speculative discussion with Chris Carter (after Mark Schlereth weighed in on the news and before Rachel Nichols would sum up how she missed the damn story) to say that, “ESPN’s Michael Smith has confirmed that this trade will go through!”

Now it’s official! No more speculation. No more alleging. Just the true and spectacular conclusion of the Greatest Story Ever Told: The soap operalike selfishness of a 38-year-old quarterback, his ridiculous suitors and a swarm of media foaming at the mouth for both sides every move!

And now it’s done, allegedly, officially and somewhat confirmed. So what’s left? Well, what else but blow out the whole damn show talking to everybody they can think of who has no relation to anybody involved in the trade and absolutely no knowledge of how it occurred! Sweet! If you got their number boys, give ’em a call, yo: Sal Palantonio, Trent Dilfer, Merril Hoge, Trey Wingo, Chris Mortensen …

Wait! Chris Mortensen does the unthinkable. He says he talked to people involved and has uncovered that the deal is not officially official. “It still could be held up,” he says.

Apparently Favre’s not happy (yet again). The great No. 4 apparently wanted to go to Tampa Bay and the Packers did him yet another disservice by trading him to New York! He could still say no! He could sit out! He could RETIRE!!!

If there is a God up there somewhere. Hear me now please. Tell me what I can do to make amends. Tell me what I can do to make this happen! Almighty overseer of life, please, please let the narcissistic son of a bitch retire. Let him cry. Let him weep. Let him blame everyone on Earth for not loving him enough to want him back. Let him crawl back in his Mississippi hole forever!

But no. No. Of course we’re all not that lucky, 12:45 a.m. EDT: the Packers release a statement:

“Brett has had a long and storied career in Green Bay, and the Packers owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for everything he accomplished on the field and for the impact he made in the state. It is with some sadness that we make this announcement, but also with the desire for certainty that will allow us to move the team and organization forward in the most positive way possible.

“We respect Brett’s decision that he could no longer remain here as a Packer. But there were certain things we were not willing to do because they were not in the best interest of the team. We were not going to release him nor trade him to a team within the division. When Brett ultimately decided that he still wanted to play football, but not in Green Bay, we told him that we would work to find the best solution for all parties involved. We wish Brett and his family well.

“We appreciate the tremendous passion shown by our fans. We, like them, always will see Brett Favre as a Green Bay Packer and our respect for him never will change. Moving forward, we are dedicated to delivering a successful 2008 season for all Packers fans.”

Well that’s just swell. I’m sure Brett and your fans are just as happy as I am that the motherfucking motherfucker is still in the league and on his way to New York. Sweet.

But wait. What’s ESPN going to do now? How are they gonna react to this historic development? Any more talking heads to roll out of the closet? Oh wait, they found the reel of Top Ten plays in Favre’s career that they put together when he cried like a bitch and retired (And every year for the last five in the offseason when he cried like a bitch at the mere thought of retirement)! Hey wait, they also found a retrospective of the All-Time Passing Leader’s career, (also cobbled together five months ago when the arrogant fuck quit). Dust ’em off! Queue ’em up! Roll ’em! The gunslinger is back! This stuff is gold all over again baby!

And, hey, after that, Linda Cohn and Steve Levy just arrived, get ’em on stage, ask ’em what they think. Who else you got laying around? Anybody?

Football season 2008: Welcome to the beginning – allegedly!

He ain’t no pie thrower*, he’s a bloody brilliant bowler

Jake Kilrain couldn’t stop Johnny Sullivan in 75 rounds, but how would he have fared against Freddie Flintoff?

The baseball trade deadline has passed us by, and two grueling months remain in what promises to be a season of eviscerating heartbreak. So naturally, it’s time for a look-in on the ever-baffling universe of cricket.
Every now and then I find it illuminating to check in on cricket, just to affirm my thoroughgoing and unrivalled ignorance of the sport.
Just cause one doesn’t know fuckall about something, it doesn’t mean one should ignore it.
Au contraire.
One bloody brilliant paragraph in, I’m reeling. I don’t know what a word of it means, yet I love it all the more for its soaring inscrutability.
Perhaps it’s something like stumbling blindly through Joyce. The deeper you get, the less you understand, and the more enthralling the whole experience becomes.
Without further ado, here’s the smashing first blow of Mike Selvey’s story in today’s Guardian:
For 15 minutes yesterday evening, as the crowd bayed and adrenaline pumped, a day’s cricket that had carried a dull inevitability about it was stripped down to bare-knuckle fighting, a gladiatorial contest between a great batsman and a colossal fast bowler. And at the end it was Andrew Flintoff who almost single-handedly had pulled his side back from the brink to a position from which, if they can draw further strength from his deeds, they may go on to win a match that after the first day had seemed doomed.
Let’s rewind a bit of that, in slow motion.
A dull inevitabiilty, which, thanks to an epic deul between a great batsmen and a colossal fast bowler, metamorphoses into bare-knuckle fighting, for which the crowd got worked into a lather and, with little option, bayed.
Suddenly, we’ve gone from the prosaic boredom of English rain to pugilistic imagery of Jake Kilrain and John L. Sullivan, the Boston Strongboy, going toe-to-toe for 75 rounds in sometime in late 19th century. The last bare-knuckle championship bout.
Back off the canvas, they are, up from the precipice of doom.
Whoever they are.
In the dour, death-rattle world of the American daily newspaper, this sort of opening would border on the blasphemous. Copy editors would snicker.
One paragraph in, and what do we know? Where’s the who, when and what? Why?
We know it’s a cricket match, but we don’t know who’s playing. At least we know it was yesterday evening. But we don’t have a score, a venue or either of the combatants.
And who the hell cares?
Ever wonder why the once-proud ink-scribblers of the Fourth Estate are rushing headlong over the cliff of oblivion in lock-step?
Well, it can’t help that their readers never get much in the way of dull inevitability-cum-bare-knuckle boxing. If they offered something worth reading more than just once in a while, maybe, just maybe, your 18-to-34 demographic poster boy would plunk down 50 cents and pick up the old paint-catcher. Nah, you’re right. To hell with the newspaper.
It’s Internet or bust, and it’s getting harder and harder to bet against the latter.
Better move on to paragraph two, see what else we might learn:
Jacques Kallis, one of the finest technicians of this or any other age, was constructing another masterpiece, on the way, with absolute certainty it appeared, to another century to go with the 30 he had already acquired in Tests, when he encountered Flintoff, on the rampage after a rain break which had delayed the resumption after tea. It was gloomy, almost too gloomy, but 10 deliveries were all it took to create a legend to rank alongside Allan Donald’s spell to Michael Atherton and Flintoff’s defining over to Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting three years ago.
Poor Selvey, what’s he on about?
Never heard of this Jacques Kallis bloke, but now I immediately know him as one of the finest technicians of this or any other age. So I don’t know which team he represents? I don’t mind. Just one more thing I don’t know, which I failed to notice against the backdrop of all-consuming ignorance.
Cricket, after all, must have it’s Ruths and DiMaggios, its Gibsons and Koufaxes. Its Ted Williamses and Ty Cobbs, Satchel Paiges and Walter Johnsons.
Sure, I still have no idea what the bloody hell is going on. But it’s pretty fascinating, a legend, even, that rates right up there with Allan Donald’s spell to Michael Atherton?
It must be cracking good, whoever the hell Allan Donald and Michael Atherton are/were.
Onward I plunge:
The first ball set the tone, a yorker which Kallis failed to pick up out of the pavilion background. The batsman grinned at the absurdity; it was the last smile he had. Flintoff thrashed in successive bouncers which had Kallis snapping his head back. Another yorker appeared to hit him full on the toe and slap bang in front but Aleem Dar ruled against Flintoff’s impassioned appeal. The bowler was incensed. Further deliveries, swinging away, seared past Kallis’s groping outside edge before Flintoff produced one more perfect yorker, wickedly fast, shaping away, which eluded the bat and detonated the off stump from the turf.
Replay, for an instant:
The batsman grinned at the absurdity; it was the last smile he had.
The reader, still able and willing to grin, is infinitely more fortunate than poor Kallis.
And then, the yorker. Now we’re getting somewhere. A more perfect yorker. The contradictory, warring images conflate wildly in my overmatched cerebrum.
A yorker?
The New Yorker? Fond thoughts of wonderful writers of yore, Joseph Mitchell, A.J. Leibling. Oh, and that recent cover art that caused quite a firestorm on the domestic political front.
A yorker?
Beautiful as a rose? Hazy memories of Shakespeare and wars and roses and a bit of nasty bloodshed between royal houses in Olde England. Whatever little I recall owes to my roots in eastern Pennsylvania, where U.S. Route 30 runs westward, first through Lancaster and later through York, on its way to nowhere in particular.
A more perfect yorker.
Three paragraphs in, and I don’t know who’s winning, who’s losing, what the score is, or anything else, really. And I couldn’t care less. I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun, more than any three paragraphs I’ve encountered lately in the quotidian diet of dull inevitability I must consume 40 hours of each forgettable week.
Right off the bat come troubling evocations of Eliot’s Wasteland (April after all, is a bad month, what with how it breeds those intoxicating lilacs from dead lands, confuses memory and desire, then stirs dull roots with spring rain). Moving right along, we come to the wonderfully anachronistic world of bare-knuckle boxing. Before we know it, we’ve encountered Shakespearian tragedy, taken a brief, nostalgic trip homeward, paid our respects to Joe Mitchell and wondered if the preamble to the constitution still means anything in the final year of the Bush Imperium.
A bloody mess, to be sure. But I sure enjoyed the ride.
For the record, I did make the obligatory gesture of consulting the great God Wikipedia for an explanation of the yorker:
“In cricket, a yorker is a delivery where the cricket ball bounces on the cricket pitch on or near the batsman’s popping crease.”
Popping crease? I don’t even want to know, I just want to enjoy a bit of free association.
Paragraph four?
Too often in this series batsmen have donated their wickets to unworthy deliveries. There was no shame to Kallis, unseated for 64 by a genuinely great fast-bowling cameo
A heroic donation of wickets, it appears. No shame, to be unseated for 64 by a genuinely great fast-bowling cameo.
Again, I’m in utter darkness, but I can enjoy a timeless duel between worthy adversaries, one where there’s no shame, only honor.
And finally, in paragraph five, we get what the Rousseaus of the American journalism schools might call the nutgraph. The news, in brief. Please:
The close came three overs later, 14 overs early because of bad light, by which time Flintoff had removed another previous thorn in England’s flesh in AB de Villiers to complete a six-over spell that brought two for 15 and four for 68 in all. So South Africa will resume this morning on 256 for six, a lead of 25, with Ashwell Prince (37) and Mark Boucher (11) the last batting bastions. The game is far from over.
Still inscrutable, but there are a lot of numbers, which gives me the idea that he’s giving us the bottom line. I have no clue what a six-over spell that brought two for 15 and four for 68 in all connotes in England’s chances of fending off defeat.
South Africa, we discover, is the opponent, because they will resume on 256 for six, a lead of 25 as their last batting bastions approach the popping crease.
The game is far from over.
Thank goodness. And thank you, Mike Selvey.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
*A Pie Thrower, according to the BBC’s glossary of cricket, is “An inferior bowler, one who bowls like a clown throwing a pie. Not to be confused with the likes of Merv Hughes and Mike Gatting, who were, of course, famed pie-eaters.”