Yellow rubber bracelet? No thank you.

May 28, 2011
Cheat to Win

The devil you don't.

I always thought that those yellow bracelets everyone was wearing for a while were lame, to be honest.  You know the ones: remember?  Then the trend somehow became even more unlikely, with people wearing all different shades of rubber on their wrists.  Yeah, all lame, I thought.  Also, I don’t know if Joakim Noah is homophobic, or otherwise bigoted.  Related things.  In fact, the latter explains the former.  How?

Well, Lance Armstrong is a cheaterMaybe.  I don’t know.  Neither do you.  You may know that Lance Armstrong is a cancer survivor.  I personally am less sure that he’s one then that several people who I do know, personally, are.  You probably know a cancer survivor.  I bet they never asked you to wear a yellow bracelet.

So why did people do so when Lance asked them to?  Because they enjoy bicycle racing?  Of course not; the one thing that practically all North Americans agree on is that bicycle racing is not a spectator sport.  Whatever the reason, I hope it is not because they assumed that Mr. Armstrong had made his spectacular return to competitive athletics without benefit of biochemical technology.  This would be naïve.  Competitive cycling is one of the several sports in which steroids and other performance enhancing drugs became normal, before our society’s collective feigning of shock.

Noah called somebody ‘fag’ or ‘faggot.’  He yelled it at a heckler.  It may have just been my imagination, but in the next moment I thought I caught a glimpse of young Joakim catching a glimpse of himself in the cosmic reflector (in this case personified by a television camera directly across from him), and wishing he could hide under his chair, before he realized that the past could never be undone and he was just going to have to hope no-one was paying attention.  Well unfortunately, lots of people were paying attention.  And that’s what’s really sad.  Not the slur.  Not the cheating.  Those are just people doin’ stuff.  People not doin’ stuff, while claiming they’re doin’ stuff, is actually worse.

It is not sporting to associate someone with their worst moment, particularly if it seems isolated, has unusual context, or some other mitigating factor.  Furthermore, obsessing over an individual’s transgression is not the same as doing something about it.  Just like wearing rubber bands and, all too often, ‘raising awareness,’ are not the same as doing something about a problem.

Cancer and homophobia are problems worth our time and effort.  Cheating in sports, obviously less so.  Ought we to endorse or disavow misters Armstrong or Noah for their actions?  Of course not.  We don’t know them.  What possible relevance could our endorsement or disavowal have?  It is relevant only to ourselves, as a method of avoiding the issues.

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The Newt*n-Bonds-Geithner Affair (2/2)

May 3, 2011
Barry Bonds before.

Home run champion. All-time and single season. *

continued

I went to sleep baffled, and woke up determined.  It was the same the next day, and several more, until finally I was called into the warden’s office to make a progress report.  I stated frankly that it appeared to me that the alleged trainer was assuming a completely different identity, attitude, and set of tendencies, and that my attempts to gather the least information had been unsuccessful.  I was told to use more blunt tactics, and so returned to my cell and my congenial cellmate settled on direct confrontation.

I awaited an opportunity for enough privacy to engage in a delicate conversation quietly, and said straight out:  ‘I want to know about the cheating!’

He replied ‘I don’t have any idea at all what you’re talking about!’

I said ‘I know about the cheating, but not everything, I’m sure, and I know that you know things that you have been keeping from me, and I respectfully ask that you stop doing so, and come completely clean with me about all this funny business!’

He ran his hand over his head, sighed, and chuckled ‘Funny business.  You could call it that.’

I forced down my excitement at the prospect of finally providing for my country and peace of mind the information so desperately needed, and at the same time springing myself from this prison.  I checked myself and focused on becoming a machine, recording with perfect exactness the evidence I was about to hear of the greatest fraud in the history of the wretched human race – the desecration of baseball’s record book!  A wrong against Henry Aaron and George Herman Ruth, and the very concept of fairness itself might be righted by my intense listening, so listen I did.

‘First,’ the alleged criminal recounted, ‘I entered into a contract to purchase some sensitive and controversial materials for my client.  They were easy to come by, and once I’d bought them, my client ditched the veneer of coolness, and I could see in him the appetite of the multi-millionaire – we can see the signs in the eyes of our own – and he urged me to buy up more and more, practically throwing money at me.’

‘And Bonds was the client?’ I prompted.

He looked at me as if I had demonstrated a childish ignorance or confusion.  ‘No, Bonds were one of the products,’ he stated.

‘Great heavens!’ I exclaimed.  ‘What monstrous scandal is this?’

‘You can say that again,’ my cell-mate confirmed.  ‘The Bonds which I bought were as worthless as wallpaper, and they hold up the whole world’s financial system!’

‘Financial system?’ I was confused.  ‘And why do you keep referring to him in the plural?’

‘Geithner?’

‘What?’

‘Do you mean Geithner?’

‘I don’t even know what that is,’ I confessed.

‘Tim Geithner!’

‘What team does he play for?’

‘Goldman obviously.’

‘Who?’

‘Goldman Sachs.’

‘Is that the name of the gentleman who purchased the Marlins?’

Anderson stared at me, agape.  ‘It is a bank.’

We sat in silence for a while as each turned over the last’s few statements, and tried to make some sense of them.  Finally it occurred to me that the person before me was not a personal trainer at all, but some sort of personal finance professional!  The bonds he referred to were the uncapitalized version, that have to do with stocks or who-cares-what.  ‘Good sir,’ I said, regaining my composure as the humour of the mistake occurred to me, ‘I am here on important government business regarding the injection of steroids and related substances by baseball players.  Your investment scandals and world economies are beyond my scope of knowledge, my mandate, and frankly, my interest.  If you cannot help with the government’s crucial work, then I must away and inform them, so that the investigation can continue and the national interest be served.  If, as you insist, this issue with the money is important, than I recommend that you bring it to the interest of the appropriate authorities.  In this case, I would imagine that that would be the office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig.’

With that I called for the guards, and after an interview with the warden and my contact at the agency, a further interview was set up, so that I could debrief those who held right of judgment over my plea deal.  The following day I sat before them and confessed the failure, and how it was not mine.  ‘How could we have known,’ said one, ‘that there are two Greg Andersons in the penal system?’  They took pity on me, in the moment, and admitted that I had made an honest attempt to set the world aright, and therefore they agreed to abide by the terms of the deal, despite its failure.  I was released the next day, which was yesterday, and now as a free man I am rededicated to my mission, which is this blog.


The Newt*n-Bonds-Geithner Affair (1/2)

April 28, 2011

Among the many wonderful things which I do for the underprivileged people around me, and around other people who are around me, or who were, or one day might be around me, which I do out of the kindness and generosity of my own heart, and not for reasons of self-aggrandizement, or to lord over other people how good I am, and how worthless and mean they are, is liaising between the less fortunate and social institutions whose services those poor folks may wish to take advantage of.  I tell you this by way of an explanation for my absence, and the general quietness of this blog, over the past several months.  The reason is that, in the capacity of liaison for an underprivileged person, I have found myself most unjustly treated and imprisoned, as I shall explain below.

The affair began when one Mr. Newt*n of Alabama was referred to me by the mutual acquaintance of a friend of mine, with a most heart-wrenching problem.  His son, a gifted athlete, bright fellow, and enthusiastic youth, was intent on attending a major College in his area to pursue his noble and pure academic aspirations, but was blocked by poverty and the bureaucracy of the particular league.  I was able, after some finagling, to procure for the young gentleman a generous scholarship, which brought the team just to, but not a dime over, the salary cap.

Somehow the entire thing came to ruin, and Mr. Newt*n and I were arrested for breach of some nuanced technicality that I still don’t pretend to understand, while Young Mr. Newt*n is allowed to keep his freedom only if he sells a case of both Doritos and Miller Lite each week for four years.  I spent nineteen days in a penitentiary, during which a plea arrangement was worked out whereby I would attempt to wrangle some information from a planted cell-mate.  Testimony of this information would excuse me from the rest of my sentence.

I agreed to the plea arrangement, despite my innocence, because if I am even perceived to have harmed the integrity of sport, then I will make amends.  I agree with the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, that the attention of those who lead the free world is best focused on whether celebrities are being honest with their fans.  The cultural conditions that lead the government to focus on cheating in baseball are surely the opposite of the cultural conditions that lead to widespread cheating in the first place – aren’t they?  But I digress.

My new cell mate was the trainer of a man named Bonds, who was alleged by the House Committee to have cheated at baseball intravenously.  We were introduced when I was rudely thrown into what was to be my sixty-four square foot home from then, in early March, until the end of July.  The trainer surprised me right away with his classy clothes and demeanor.

He was dressed in the finest suit that I have ever laid eyes on.  It shone in the flat fluorescent light of the cell, and instantly improved my mood.  I felt even better a few minutes later, when my cell mate and intended victim had welcomed me and helped me to settle in.  He introduced himself as Greg Anderson, and offered to help me with some of my investments.  I was quite unsure how to take this at first, and told him that my only interest in the world was baseball, which he responded to with only a subtle and quickly covered disappointment.

He indulged me in discussion about the sport for some minutes, but he appeared not only to know nothing whatever about it, but also not to be interested.  Not in the pennant races, the hall of fame balloting, the Pujols contract extension, or anything else related to Major League Baseball.  I tried comparing Pujols to the alleged Barry Bonds, and mentioned even baseball as exercise, and feigned a desire to look after my own physical condition, now that I was rotting away in jail.  Anderson did not flinch at any mention of Bonds, except that he thought I was talking about China at one point, apparently, and he seemed quite ignorant of either the techniques or importance of exercise.

I was baffled.

***To be continued***