1. “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone…”
Anna Kendrick’s audition in “Pitch Perfect” says it all: You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.
In the past 24 hours Nelson Mandela, Chris Petersen and Robinson Cano appear to have all departed places where they were beloved. One of them ascended to heaven, and the other two to the place where Kurt Cobain put a bullet through his own head, but hey, I like Seattle.
For Mandela, the world’s most unifying force since Martin Luther King, Jr., it was time, after 95 heroic and indomitable years, to depart earth. The list of encomia (plural of encomium?) are too long to present here, so I’ll just echo what many others have said using fewer words:
Nelson Mandela was a MAN.
His qualities, his character, his spirit, represented the apotheosis of mankind. Here was a person who was born and raised on the same continent where man first came down from the trees, first learned to use tools, first developed language, and while so many other continents have come so much further than has Africa in terms of civilization, the most evolved human of the past century was residing there the entire time.
Then there’s Chris Petersen, the Boise State football coach who appears headed to the “big time” at the University of Washington. Smart move and good for him. Coach Pete, 49, has amassed a 92-12 record in eight seasons on the Smurf Turf, which is an 88.5% win percentage, which would place him just ahead of Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne (88.1%), who is only the winningest college football coach of all time.
There are a lot of similarities between Boise State in this millennium an d Notre Dame in the 1920s. And the only reasons Petersen isn’t more celebrated for that percentage is that his eight years are not Rockne’s 13 (for both, all were with the same school) and that the Broncos did not play the same level of top-notch programs.
It won’t happen, but if Petersen were to remain on the Bronco sideline for its bowl, and if the powers-that-be could arrange the sexiest matchup between 8-4 teams ever to take place (Poinsettia Bowl?), Notre Dame itself could be the school to knock Pete off the pedestal of winningest coach by percentage and reestablish Rockne to his throne. Although I believe the Pac-12 will do that, anyway.
And finally, Robinson Cano, who just signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners. Cano may be the most talented overall player in the American League, and he WAS the Pinstripes’ offense last season. Still, this was a player who was a play-a, the one dude on the Yankees who loved the after-hours lifestyle of Manhattan even more than Jeter. This deal works wonderfully for his agent, Jay-Z, who clears a nice percentage off the top. But how will Cano enjoy living and playing in Seattle, a beautiful city but one that is far from the beats of NYC? Does he even like Macklemore?
If I can make it there, I’ll get paid anywhere…
Still, Seattle is where it’s at right now. The Emerald City has the NFL’s best team and it just added two major figures to its sports landscape. How does Puget Sound? Very, very nice.
2. “Heathers” Comes to Women’s College Hoops
Last night the University of Connecticut defeated UC-Davis, 97-37. UConn scored as many points in the second half, 37, as the Aggies did all game. So what? So, the box score stood out to me because it featured a Brianna and a Brianne for UC-Davis and, for the Huskies, a Brianna, a Breanna, a Bria and a Briana.
Where did this name come from? Who had that name in 1993 that made every mother want to give her daughter that name? Help, please.
3. Sharknado, The Musical
Kudos to NBC for trying something new last night, but then again this is the same network that gave us
“Cop Rock” (my bad, that was ABC: thanks to Jeff M.) “Seinfeld” and “Supertrain” (Google ‘em). The live production of “The Sound of Music” starring Carrie Underwood and everyone’s favorite vampire from “True Blood” was more than just a reimagining of a classic Broadway musical and film. It was a nod to Twitter.
Watching SOML, as it was hash-tagged, without being on Twitter would have been like attending a game at Fenway Park in the obstructed view seats. Thus far only sports events, which are live, have been able to lasso the full snark of Twitter to maximum effect. But last summer “Sharknado” demonstrated what could be done with a first-time dramatic event. Last night you watched SOML and waited for the wittiest people you know of to provide commentary. Some of my favorite snark:
@GarrettKuk: “There’s a telephone in the house but the Nazis sent a telegram? That’s why you lost the war, idiots”
@SteveRushin: “This is where the Von Trapps try to escape their Long Island studio.”
It’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000″, or my buddies’ old Dillon Hall dorm room triple, writ large. Writ viral. It’s the future. And every TV exec should hop on board this train. The best way to have viewers watch your show WHEN IT AIRS is to foster a Twitter-friendly environment.
4. “Hello, Westeros Morgue?”
My man Adam Duerson at SI tweets a photo of a labor of love undertaken by his colleague, Matt Gagne: Every death from the “Game Of Thrones” tomes tabbed.
5. You Forgot Jameis
No, I didn’t.
So, the craziest thing happened to me at a dinner party I attended a couple of years ago on the Upper East Side…that of course being that I found myself at a dinner party…and on the Upper East Side.
Anyway, a woman asked me what sports I write about and I gave my stock reply: “I don’t write about sports; I write about people.”
And then I began my long-winded explanation about sports and Darwinism, and how, in the face of modern society no longer having to worry so much about where it would find food and shelter that day, about not having to wake up and worry about whether another animal would devour you (unless your roommate is Jeffery Dahmer, but he’s dead), that sports has become our surrogate for the thrill of survival. In the absence of real conflicts, such as war or starvation or saber-toothed tigers picking our remains from between their teeth, sports is our final vestige of life-or-death thrills.
And from there, I said, we use sports to examine every sociological issue. It is the prism through which we relate practically every issue known to man.
(And what followed was, to me, hilarious. This woman who lived on Park Avenue and was used to associating with very wealthy and very well-educated elites suddenly saw Oscar Madison in an entirely new light –and by the way, in no universe does a sportswriter own an apartment on Park Avenue off his salary as Oscar did in “The Odd Couple”. “That’s incredible,” she said. “Have you ever thought of writing a book about that theory?”
And to be honest, I hadn’t, because to me it has always been self-evident, like writing a book about the fact that you should drive one-way down a one-way street. But maybe she was on to something…)
There was a moment during yesterday’s press conference when Willie Meggs looked at the packed room of media and quipped, “I wish y’all were as interested in all the other cases we investigate” or words similar to that effect.
But, of course, we are not. So while men I know and admire such as Gregg Doyel, Dan Wolken and Dan Wetzel wrote terrific essays yesterday off the news that Jameis Winston, Heisman Trophy winner-elect and leader of the nation’s most dominant college football team, would not be charged, essays that asked questions about how we should view Jameis or about the embarrassing flippancy that Meggs and others treated this press conference –after all, a woman accused someone of rape and, as many said, “There are no winners here”–I’d like to walk it back one step further.
The Jameis Winston case is all about the phenomenon of sport, a phenomenon that has existed for barely more than a century. And that is this: It is the modern fire pit. It brings people of all ages, races and beliefs together to discuss every issue known to mankind. So, yes, Scott Van Pelt and Trevor Matich and myself are woefully ill-equipped to discuss the minutia of a felony rape investigation, but still we do. And you’d rather hear/read about this than why Duke should employ a nickel package or some such defense against the Seminoles’ unassailable passing offense.
Sports is the instrument. People are the commodity. Just like bacon is, when you get right down to it, a salt-delivery system, spectator sports are a visceral-thrill delivery system. In a world in which visceral thrills are rarely found any more.
Bowling Green vs No. 14 Northern Illinois
ESPN 8 p.m.
(Yes, I ran this yesterday; yes, I got the date wrong) Bowling Green versus undefeated NIU and Jordan Lynch for the MAC Championship inside Not-Rob-Ford Field. In the unlikely event that Winston is charged with sexual assault, you might be looking at your Heisman front-runner. The Huskies are one final win away from a BCS bowl, but the Falcons have won four straight by an average of 40 points per game. Keep an eye out for Falcon RB Travis Greene, who averages 118 yards per game rushing.