June 25, 2004

Too Tired Even to Think Of a Title

Hello, all. Well, an exhausting week draws to a close. Jack Ryan is reportedly teetering on the edge of withdrawing from the race. (I had to mention that, in keeping with our Jump On Jack week theme.) Republicans are reportedly scoping out a replacement. (Is anyone else sick of the whole last-minute candidate-switch game? Both parties are guilty; Democrats did it in New Jersey with Robert Torricelli, now Republicans are poised to do it with Ryan. Shouldn't there be a Dance-With-The-One-That-Brung-Ya Rule, that says that any candidate nominated by a party has to remain that party's candidate through the election, barring death or incapacitation? I didn't like the Lautenberg switch, and I don't like this one.) And in New York, the NBA allegedly held some sort of draft.

I was planning to skip the draft, but my cousin, the Gentleman's Gentleman, had it on, and I wanted to be able to share the moment with him. Unfortunately, it's kind of hard to share the moment when most of the moments consist of statements like, "Who's that?" and "Is he any good?" and "Where's he from?" This was easily the least enjoyable draft I've ever seen, due to the unknown factor. It was even worse than last year's all-Euro draft. It was so bad ESPN used "Who Are You?" as the draft's theme song. Just brutal.

At one point, I was tempted to suggest a drinking game to my cousin: take a drink for every time someone picked a player we couldn't pick out of a police lineup. But I quickly realized that we'd be dead of alcohol poisoning by the end of the first round.

To make matters even duller, my team of choice (the Milwaukee Bucks) didn't have a pick in the draft. They'd already dealt their first-rounder to God-knows-where for God-knows-who, they took one look at this year's pool, wisely decided that they'd be better off re-activating Terry Porter and traded their remaining pick to Charlotte for someone named Zaza Pachulia, whom I've never heard of, but his name is fun to say. (Try it!)

I managed to amuse myself by placing a side bet on whose head was going to explode first, Dick Vitale's or Stephen A. Smith's. Those two should never be involved in the same telecast; it's like listening to a building implode, live and in stereo. Vitale's most spirited rant came when he spent a good solid minute and a half ripping the Celtics for taking Al Jefferson. He was screaming about how Doc Rivers had nothing to work with and the Celtics were doomed and Danny Ainge was a moron and so forth. All because the Celtics took one high-schooler, and a highly regarded one at that. What's more, Boston spent its next three picks on college guys and wound up having a good draft. But don't let the facts get in your way, Dickie V.

(For more on the draft, check out Bill Simmons' always-hilarious draft diary.)

Seriously, is there a reason besides inertia that we still broadcast the NBA draft at all? Does it matter? Ever wonder why the baseball and hockey drafts aren't televised? For a very good reason: You don't know these guys. Really. My Capitals are all set to pick Alexander Ovechkin in the next NHL draft. I keep hearing he's the next Gretzky. But I've never seen him play! His name means nothing to me. In the NFL draft, on the other hand, teams pick guys you know. You've seen them play, you have some idea who they are, so it's meaningful when your team takes somebody. It used to be that way for the NBA too. No more.

The Atlanta Hawks took some high-school kid named Josh Smith. Jay Bilas ripped the kid for having "no right hand." Until they cut away to Stuart Scott's interview with the kid, I might have figured Bilas was speaking literally. After all, these are the Hawks; taking a one-handed player might not even be on their list of top ten draft blunders. It turns out Smith has both hands, and he just can't shoot with his right. But how was I to know?

Finally, I wanted to commiserate with Frinklin, who's upset with the Sonics for taking Robert Swift. I can't blame him. I've been calling him "Robert Stiff" all week. What is it with NBA teams and 7-foot white guys? When was the last time they drafted one that could play? My dad's a Celtics fan, and Boston was reportedly hot for Swift, a tidbit which concerned him greatly. When the Sonics grabbed Swift, I called Dad. "Hey, Dad, your guys missed out on your boy there," I said. Dad replied, "Thank God. That kid's going to be the next Shawn Bradley. I said, "No, Dad, he has the potential to be Shawn Bradley. If he's lucky." Sorry, Frinklin. The Sonics now lead the league in centers who can't play (Vitaly Potapenko, Calvin Booth, Jerome James and Swift).

Enough about the draft. Time to talk about something important. Like mustard.

I've had cause to think about mustard this week. See, I've been taking sandwiches to work, which is not my custom. It not being my custom, it was no surprise that I was out of mustard at home. Rather than actually go to the store and buy some, I decided to "borrow" some from the break room at work. Unfortunately, the only kind that was around was the little mustard packets you get when you order Chinese take-out.

Now, one of my favorite phrases from Ball Four describes a rookie trying to "throw a strike at the knees with Chinese mustard on it." I liked the phrase for its evocative nature, but I was unclear on the precise nature of it... I thought it might be some sort of weird racial slur. But now that I've experienced actual Chinese mustard for myself, I can attest that no slur is intended. Chinese mustard is indeed sinus-perforatingly hot. I am thankful that I survived that sandwich with my digestive system intact.

Reminds me of a time when I was just a youthful mediocrity, putting together a turkey sandwich for lunch one day when my parents weren't home. I wanted to put some mustard on the sandwich, but there was none about. Improvising, I poked around in the spice cabinet and found some English mustard powder. And mirabile dictu, there were instructions on the back for making your very own mustard! A little water, a little vinegar, some mustard powder, bada-bing, bada-boom. I whipped it all up with a flourish (I fancied myself an amateur chemist in those days, so this was fun), let it set for a bit, and prepared to spread it on my sandwich. Thankfully, I hesitated before putting it on the rest of the sandwich. Unfortunately, I decided that the only appropriate way to taste-test my creation was to jam a big ol' spoonful of it right into my mouth. I might as well have just set my tongue on fire. It was the better part of a week before my taste buds were fully operational again.

So, my complaint: It is manifestly unfair that French's and Grey Poupon and the whole-grain stuff I like and the English powder and the Chinese stuff in packets are all referred to as "mustard." This is a sick joke. Isn't there some sort of truth-in-labeling law we can apply here? Can't we at least call the English and Chinese stuff "Atomic Mustard" or something?

At any rate, the weekend beckons, and I must answer the call. See you Monday!

Posted by Fred at June 25, 2004 05:34 PM
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