Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Things around my apartment were getting broken. That is often unavoidable when my team is blowing a big game. I take losses hard, mostly because I can see far in advance my favorite team is destined to lose. It’s the little things, like blown lay-ups leading directly to thunder dunks on the other end or a quarterback calmly drilling a simple five-yard pass into his fullback’s feet. I see little things like this and know I’m in for a long night and that I’ll spend the next morning picking up the pieces of what used to be my living room lamp.
But on this night, it wasn’t my favorite team blowing the game that had me chucking my lamp over my best friends head. It was the infestation of the bizarre infecting the AFC Championship game between Indianapolis and New England. I had no personal interest in either the Indianapolis Colts or the New England Patriots going to the Super Bowl. Sure, I respect the Patriots for constantly fielding a Super Bowl contender and I really think Colts quarterback, Peyton Manning, is overrated, but it’s the unpredictability of our sports world that is driving out of my mind.
I feel like Elaine in the classic ‘Bizarro Jerry’ episode of Seinfeld. In this episode Elaine becomes friends with three men who are extremely similar her trio of friends, Jerry, George and Kramer. Elaine’s new friends (a portly, bald man that acts just like George, her ex-boyfriend turned ‘just friend’, Kevin, and a gangly Kramer-clone named Feldman) are like a better, more refined version of her original trio of friends. The real humor of the episode occurs when the new ‘better’ version of friends get offended when Elaine criticizes a slice of the human race and are shocked when she throws open the refrigerator with-out asking. Elaine soon realizes that she doesn’t belong with the ‘better’ version of friends but, rather, with original, less classy version.
That is me, right now. I’m Elaine standing at the refrigerator door. As a true sports-aholic, I’m standing with a refrigerator door handle in my hand, glancing around at a strangely familiar apartment, filled with vaguely familiar friends. Only it’s not good. It’s different, but not better. Sports are yelling at me right now for mocking people and raiding the fridge without permission. As a self-appointed expert of sports, I am suddenly less qualified to predict the outcome of a game than the lady in your office pool that makes her picks based on the color of the teams’ uniforms. What the heck is going on?!
The proof is in the results. Peyton Manning (who owned exactly ZERO big wins with championships on the line) leads the perennial play-off loser Colts to the greatest comeback in conference final’s history and a Super Bowl victory. How did this happen? What the heck is going on?!
I could say that the Patriots did not even deserve to be a championship contender with the losses of Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, David Givens, Deon Branch, and a host of others to either injury or free-agent defections. I could talk about how Manning had two potential Hall-of-Fame wide receivers and a Pro Bowl tight end. I could simply mention that the Patriots started Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell, and I could easily rant for two hours about ‘Rexgasm’ (Rex Grossman) and the Bears. I could say that Manning had been trained since he was freaking born to be the ultimate quarterback and it took a ridiculous comeback against an inferior team to make it happen, but I won’t. I will not bring up any of these things. The Super Bowl happened and Manning won.

But it’s not just the NFL that has suddenly flipped into an alternate reality. The Bizarro World of sports has taken over sports as we know it. Look at some recent champions: The Heat, Red Sox, White Sox and Cardinals. Hell, the Detroit Tigers were the best team in baseball all of last season and they lost 119 games in less time then it takes me to change apartments the year before. What the heck is going on?!

Regular seasons are now meaningless. The Cardinals win only 83 games in the regular season and are suddenly unstoppable in the World Series? The Red Sox are down 0-3 in the American League Championship and out of nowhere come back to beat the Yankees 4-3? The White Sox break a ninety-year curse after one of the biggest end-of-season choke-jobs in baseball history?

The Miami Heat sign Antoine Walker and Jason Williams and suddenly win a championship? I’ll go slower. Antoine Walker and Jason Williams were the missing pieces to championship team! That can only happen in Bizarro Sports World. To win the title Williams and Walker had to beat the defensive minded Dallas Mavericks led by clutch, cold-blooded shooter Jason Terry and the low-post beast, the nasty-German, Dirk Nowitzki. What the heck is going on?! BIZARRO!
Georgetown is in the Final Four with John Thompson and Patrick Ewing. Only I don’t hate Bizarro Ewing and Bizarro Thompson doesn’t scare the living shit out of me. This Ewing isn’t vastly overrated? This Thompson doesn’t make me protect my unborn children from being eaten? Huh? UCLA makes it to the Final Four not the selfish run-and-gun teams I grew up with, but with tough defense and selfless team-orientated players? What in the name of Bizarro Jason Kapono is happening?!
I can remember when things that happened actually meant something. When the White Sox late season collapse would have left them dead in the water. Where best teams throughout the season played like it in the post-season.
In the world I know, Patrick Ewing is a jump shooting center who rarely ventured into the paint, except to get dunked on more than any player who’s ever lived. (This is not a debate. Scottie Pippen dunked over Ewing knocking him to the ground. Michael Jordan faked two guys out of their shoes and dunked the ball with his forearm banging off the rim, right in Ewing’s eye. Patrick Ewing is the Michael Jordan of getting dunked on!) This is the world I know.
But in the Bizarro World of Sports, Patrick Ewing leads Georgetown to the Final Four, the White Sox and the Red Sox beat the Yankees and go on to win a World Series and defeat a century long curse, Rex Grossman and Peyton Manning battle for a Super Bowl ring and the evening news is more predictable than Duke in the NCAA Tournament. In the sports world I grew up in, quarterbacks who had NEVER won a big game didn’t come back and beat the greatest clutch player of his era. The Yankees won, the Bills lost and smart sports-aholics always won the office pools.
So, as I paced around my living room, punching random things, ranting and raving about Manning, it was not about him at all. I was ranting about our new Bizarro Sports World. For all the statistical sports-data that floats around in my head, I suddenly feel that I know nothing about sports. I once lived in a world where the ESPN Fanatic was King and sports were predictable, but in the Bizarro World of Sports, up is now down and down is now up. In our new Bizarro Wold of Sports we say "Hello" when we leave and "Good bye" when we arrive.

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