Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Is there anyone who cares at all about the Red Sox and ISN'T talking about Matsuzaka?
The insanity involved in this is pure, utter Bostonishness. There are other cities that are obsessed with baseball, of course, but the Bostonian brand of obsession is a distinct and particular one. It's an obsession that does not keep baseball in its own little niche, but spills it out into all walks of life, as if Boston Baseball is some kind of molasses that you're trying to hold in your hands.
It's not just the baseball that's interesting, but everything surrounding the baseball. What does Matsuzaka look like? What does he sound like? What kind of smile does he have? What kind of glove is he using? How does he wear his hat? How well does he seem on a completely superficial level to be interacting with Varitek? Is he getting along with Okajima? What happens when he meets Manny and Ortiz? Will it be easier for him to stand Schilling for long periods of time because he won't always know what he's being lectured about?
What does the media covering this dude look like? There are teams of photographers whose job seems to be to shoot the Japanese photographers, who are there to shoot Matsuzaka. That's how freakin' meta we've gotten.
And it's not just one slightly creepy and obsessive web entity (exhibit A) chronicling his every move. It's EVERYONE, from the newspapers to the TV stations to the radio shows to the bloggers to the AP photographers. And of course that's not even getting into the constant critical inspection he's undergoing at practice every day from his coaches and teammates. This level of scrunity is not unlike that under which the President of the United States operates. It should be enough to drive most people, even "celebrities", batshit insane.
Here's the thing with Matsuzaka, though. He's from Japan. He's been a huge pitcher in Japan for a long time now, ever since he was in high school. And if there's one international baseball media market that could compare to Boston for sheer relentless obsession, it's Japan.
In a way, Matsuzaka is perfectly primed for Boston, and Boston is perfectly suited to him. He should be used to the kind of insanity that we can dish up, because he was followed so closely even before this*. And I think the language barrier may actually work in his favor a little bit; he's not going to be getting himself upset listening to the wacknuts on WEEI after a bad game. He's accustomed to the scrutiny and simultaneously more able to readily ignore it than, say, ARod (or, to be fair, Schilling).
The Japanese media, who will be probably be entrenched for the season and the long run, get a city that is less bemused by their persistence and more understanding. Boston as a collective whole doesn't really have to wonder when we see a vast horde of Japanese media sorts tailing hopefully behind Matsuzaka as he goes about his day; we can recognize a little bit of ourselves in that horde.
*Of course this assumes that Matsuzaka had learned to handle the media gracefully back home and is past the point where such intense regard could ruffle his feathers. I think he has, or he probably wouldn't have been as good a pitcher as he is, but if he hasn't, eh, you can disregard this post.
Labels: baseball, Daisuke Matsuzaka, frenzy, Japan, media, MLB, obsession, Red Sox
Monday, February 05, 2007
Gather 'round, children, for I shall tell you a marvelous tale, a tale of how Peyton Manning managed to tame a beast famed in myth and song, a beast known all throughout the ESPN-receiving lands, the Pony of Annoying Dickweed Victories.
A scruffy beast is this pony, mangy of coat and mane. But there are those who pursue this pony despite its foul appearance. Yes, truly do they pursue it hither and yon as it skips nimbly through the fertile Fields of No One Giving a Crap Except for National TV Announcers. For the pony is a creature of these fields, birthed among the grassy knolls and from the loins of FOX Sports color men.
Those who pursue this pony do so for their own personal gain, of course; such is the nature of the execrable beast. Many are those who jeer at their quest, many are those who remind them of people more deserving, more likeable, less overhyped. But the pursuers of the pony pay no heed to any of this noise, for they are single-minded in their quest. The Pony of Annoying Dickweed Victories is not for everyone. It may only be tamed by those who are, deep in their innermost hearts, huge fucking dickweeds. I am sure that you, children, have heard of this beast before in, perhaps, a different context; for you must know that Alex Rodriguez longs for it with all of what passes for his soul.
So yes, many are those who pursue the pony, and they are similar in nature. But Peyton Manning grew unhappy with his lot in life, always chasing after the pony, never to lay hand upon it. "Lo!" he thought unto himself as he lay upon his waterbed filled with the semen of unicorns one starry night, "I must find a way to entice the Pony of Annoying Dickweed Victories to my own person. I must somehow capture the attention of this notoriously fickle beast, and I must charm it until it is eating from my very palm."
Peyton Manning had pursued the pony long and far. He was tired, he was fed up. He was blessed with the cunning that God and/or Nature gives to those of evil disposition. He formulated a plan, and enact it he did.
He went forth unto the grocery store and did purchase a truckload of baby carrots. These he did purée, and in this purée did he roll, nude, until every inch of his awkwardly gangly inbred pasty white body was covered in soft orange paste.
Then he did venture into the Fields of No One Giving a Crap Except for National TV Announcers and he called out to the pony. Mildly interested, the pony ventured over, and then the pungent odor of mashed carrots mixed with the salty sweat of a raging inferiority complex hit its sensitive nostrils. Cunning Manning had known full well that this combination would be irresistable to the pony, and indeed the beast did run up to his side and commence hasty, slobbery licking.
The sight of this man-beast love was too much for the noble Chicago Bears, who promptly began vomiting so much in sheer horror and disbelieving disgust that the ball was rendered too slippery for Rex Grossman to hold onto or to throw properly.
So it was that Peyton Manning did tame the Pony of Annoying Dickweed Victories, and there amongst the waving flowers and grasses in the Field of No One Giving a Crap Except for National TV Announcers did he finally gain an Annoying Dickweed Victory to call his very own.
Labels: Colts, football, NFL, Peyton Manning, Superbowl