October 29, 2004

Random End-of-Week Nonsense

Today's Musical Selection: "Dirty Water" by the Standells

Well, the end of the week comes around again, and I've received a couple comments on yesterday's post-Series column. First, my man Frinklin weighed in on Jimmy Fallon's appearance on the field in the middle of the Red Sox celebration:

I believe that Jimmy Fallon's cameo on the field is part of a movie he's shooting. Some wacky, madcap affair where the Red Sox win the World Series.

Indeed, this is the case. Fallon is starring in "Fever Pitch," an adaptation of a British movie which was undoubtedly much better, which was itself an adaptation of a book by Nick Hornby, which was surely better still. The Farrelly Brothers, who are directing the Fallon flick, confirmed that the appearance of Fallon and Drew Barrymore on-field was part of their movie script, a script that was in fact hastily rewritten once the Sawx went on their run, lest life trump art.

The explanation makes sense. But that doesn't make it right. MLB had actually cracked down on celebrities partying it up with reveling teams after Billy Crystal welded himself to the side of the Yankee dynasty in the late '90s, but they made an exception for Fallon and Barrymore and their little film. I forget what the excuse was, but it was craven and lame. I don't want to see actors shooting movies in real time alongside celebrating teams, espeically not talentless hacks like Fallon. With the fancy computer technology they have now, you're telling me there's no way they could film the actual celebration and add Fallon and Barrymore in later? I know, I know, given Fox's gross commercialization of the Series, singling out Fallon and the Farrellys may seem unfair. But if I'm going to be shooting fish in a barrel, I'm at least going to take aim at my least favorite fish.

Loyal reader (and debate-partner-to-be) BallWonk weighed in on my argument for the Curse of Cicotte:

Good idea to play up the White Sox as a cursed club. But the name just doesn't work. For one thing, it's both derivative and, um, whatever the word is for "different in a way that doesn't quite work, like stripes and plaid together." Boston had "The Curse of the Bambino." That second "the" is important. It's the difference between "The magic of the Amazing Randy" and "the magic of Randy." And who the heck knows how to pronounce Cicotte? I lived in Chicago not too long ago and I haven't a clue.

We need a little bit of different thinking here to get the White Sox curse going in the national media. Something like "The Shoeless Jinx" or "Weaver's Hex" or "The Landis Whammy." (It would be good to bring back the word "whammy" to mean "curse" anyway. I like old words.) "The Curse of the Black Sox" if all else fails.

As usual, BallWonk makes a good case. His argument about the second "the" is intriguing, and it would be more persuasive if it wasn't complete bollocks. The salient difference between "the magic of the Amazing Randy" and "the magic of Randy" is not "the," it's "Amazing," at least in my view. Therefore, I reject your "second the" argument.

However, his point that no one knows how to pronounce "Cicotte" is a very good one. How is it pronounced, anyway? "SEE-cut"? "si-COTT"? "si-COAT"? "si-COTT-ee"? "chi-COAT-ee"? I've heard all of the above at some point or another. Doubtless there are other possibilites. And since Mr. Cicotte is not around to clear up the record, perhaps we should look elsewhere.

"The Shoeless Jinx" is catchy, but as I said yesterday, I'm not inclined to focus this curse around the already-martyred Shoeless Joe. By most accounts, he was an illiterate hayseed who was suspicious of outsiders and not especially friendly anyhow. But because he has that catchy name, everyone loves him.

"Weaver's Hex" is all right, and it gives poor Buck Weaver the long-overdue attention he deserves, but it doesn't really have that ring to it. "Landis Whammy" sounds better, but that self-important racist gasbag, like Joe Jackson, already gets more credit than he ought. I do agree that it's time to birng back "whammy" in its old-fashioned meaning. To the degree that people still use "whammy," it's usually in connection with that ugly red twit who used to take all your money on that moldy '80s game show "Press Your Luck."

So how about "Weaver's Whammy"? It brings together the best two elements of BallWonk's suggestions, it's catchy, it's unique, and it's perfectly packaged for years or even decades of media overkill. What say you, friends and readers? Have we a curse? Let me know what you think.

Speaking of BallWonk, we've completed our negotations, and we've decided that we're going to have our Great Name Debate between Senators and the winner of his primary from November 8th to the 16th, with voting to take place afterward. (There may also be some vicious negative ads between now and then, but only if I'm provoked.) Stay tuned for further details.

As if we needed it, we now have another reason to dislike that poster child for the dangers of nepotism, Laura Vecsey. Being the good contrarian she is, Vecsey's always looking for something to piss on. And on Monday, she took aim at one of the brightest stars of the moment, Curt Schilling. In her column, she accused Schilling of dabbing his famously stained sock with Magic Marker or Mercurochrome and claiming it was blood in order to amplify his accomplishments and glorify himself. With her usual class, this column ran the day after Schilling's performance in Game 2 of the World Series.

The accusation is framed in her usual smug "every smart person knows I'm right" tone, but her slam actually goes beyond the issue of what was on Schilling's sock. Consider this passage:

Out in the right-field seats last night in damp, happy Fenway, savvy members of Red Sox Nation knew the real score.

Not the score of Game 2 of this World Series, which was all in favor of the home team.

We're talking about the score on Curt Schilling, who took the mound last night and again defied his bad ankle, defied the odds, defied the doctors who had never heard of the kind of surgical procedure that secured said tendon, and, perhaps, defied our wild and gullible imaginations.

See, Schilling is the pitcher who cried wolf once already this October. His ankle tendon sheath torn, there was a time after Game 1 of the American League Championship Series that Schilling appeared to be finished, kaput, done.

There seemed no way he could get back out to the mound, let alone be as dominant as he was in the ALCS Game 6 win.

Then there was last night, when Schilling was apparently so used to being held together with nylon thread, he completely dominated the game. The Cardinals managed four hits, but only one unearned run in Schilling's six innings.

Catch that? Vecsey's not just accusing Schilling of faking the blood on his sock. She's accusing him of overblowing the entire injury. Just how badly could he be hurt, she wonders, if he's out there pitching, and pitching so well? Some injury. After all, it didn't hurt Vecsey one bit.

Of course, accusing an athlete of faking injury is the kind of thing that can really get you in trouble with said athlete. Said athlete might even take a swing at you if he's especially displeased. (Though I can't imagine Schilling hitting a woman.) So she covers herself with this weak denial:

No one disputes that something's seriously wrong with the ankle. The medical experts who treat him agree he needs surgery, then three months of rehabilitation.

But there's a contingent of baseball watchers, including Red Sox Nation faithful, who wouldn't put it past Schilling to embellish the theatrics surrounding the management of this ankle problem.

And she can't resist throwing in this barb at the end: "And by the way, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein last night said Schilling is the starter for Game 6." Oh, so he must be faking. If he's going back out there again, he's obviously a fraud. Never mind that Epstein might have been blowing smoke about Schilling being ready for Game 6. I can picture the smirk on Vecsey's face as she typed that.

So what did Schilling have to say about all this? Asked by a Boston reporter if he had anything to say to Vecsey, Schilling replied:

Other than she's a bad person? No. There are a lot of her in that industry... People with so little skill in their profession that they need to speculate, make up, fabricate, to write something interesting enough to be printed. What makes them bad people? I am sure I cannot nail the exact reason, but I know some. Jealousy, bitterness, the need to be "different", I am sure there are others, but those are the ones I know off hand.

Pretty strong stuff, but he's absolutely right. And certainly, Laura Vecsey accusing Curt Schilling of doing something to get attention is the pot calling the kettle black. Which is not to say that Schilling doesn't have a self-promoting streak in him. But for Vecsey to be taking thinly-veiled shots at the severity of Schilling's injury when he's out there limping and grimacing... well, it's ugly. If Vecsey was an Iraq correspondent, she'd have claimed that the US already had Saddam Hussein in custody before the war even started, and the whole foxhole routine was just for show.

That's all for this week. On Monday, tune in for Mediocre Fred's Pre-Election Grab Bag! Have a good weekend, and I'll see you then.

Posted by Fred at October 29, 2004 08:07 PM
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