Friday, October 13, 2006

To Alcohol, the cause of and solution to...all of life's problems

Hops has alerted me to the fact (beknownst but unbecaredabout by me -- until now) that Vin Baker has been given a try-out for the sports rooting interest that I consider to be my sports friend with benefits right now, the Timberwolves of Minnesota. Usually every fall we get togther when optimism is high and have an orgiastic make-out session in my living room, but then when reality sets in, we start to look at each other like, "Really? THIS is what I was so excited about two weeks ago?" And then we stop calling, and stop writing, and make excuses like, "Sorry KG, but I have a really early meeting tomorrow, so I can't stay up and watch you not come up big in the fourth quarter tonight. How's that first round draft pick working out for you? Oh, he broke his leg? I'll totally call you next week for sure." We drift apart. But every so often we check in again with each other just to see how things are going, and occassionally we might rekindle the flame in late May or early July just for a bit. A little playoff nookie. It's usually brief. But it just seems like the Twolves are good at friendship and terrible at intimacy, because we just can't get close anymore. Still, they're my team, and as someone who played approximately a gadzillion hours of basketball from 4th grade on up, such a defining part of my life for so long, they do have a special place in my sports heart. KG is my Johan or F-bomb -- I'd watch them anytime.

But is this a good idea Timberwolves management? Is this possibly going to end well? Is Korin Robinson's agent now representing Vin Baker? And just how many Schlitz Ice's will Vin have to celebrate his first 10 pt, 10 rebound night in this latest comeback attempt into the NBA?

I'm all for giving people second chances, but in the context of sports, this has always been a tricky issue in mind. So much of sports is chemistry driven, and as much as players like to say they aren't distracted by media-driven controversies, it has to play some role. If you're not familiar with Baker's story, go check out the article with the always present caveat in sports fandom that while you can be familiar with the reported circumstances of these situations, they are probably much more complicated in reality. But sometimes you just get the feeling that the problem is too big to just go away quietly. And this feels pungently like one of those situations. It's so pungent I can smell it. It's piquant.

While I'm tempted to go off on how Korin Robinson's situation seemed so much different (as in, I was shocked that he lapsed -- he had me thoroughly convinced he had changed, had so much to stay clean for), the realization is dawning on me that this is a baseball-centric blog, and perhaps we should bring things back in that direction. So some questions. Why is alcohol abuse not more prevalent in baseball? Or am I just forgetting a few of the notable ones? Doesn't it seem like notable drinkers in baseball (Ruth, Mantle, David Wells) are never cast in a negative light (like football players), but rather the drinking is sort of a humorous part of their legend? Does Jack Daniels have negative side effects when mixed with human growth hormone? Who would be the all-time shotgun champion in Twins history (and don't say Matthew LeCroix because he's not a real baseball player)? Does Lew Ford drink appletinis?


Hops said...

Did you just use David Wells' name in the same sentence as Ruth and Mantle?

When Lew Ford wants to get crazy (i.e. try to pass SuperMario Bros. in under ten minutes), he clearly spikes his aforementioned orange drink with chambord. He just seems like that kind of guy.

The first answer to "why isn't alcohol abuse as prevalent in baeball" is that you can be a fat drunk and still be a pretty good baseball really don't have to run if you don't want to.

Is alcohol abuse prevalent in any sport? To the degree that other “substances” are? For one thing, it’s legal. And B, it’s something that most Americans “use” themselves on a daily basis. Performance enhancers cheapen our records, harder drugs cheapen our values. Alcohol makes us witty.

American Sports Fan isn’t so hypocritical that while sitting at home drinking several league endorsed adult beverages, he’s not going to allow the very players he’s watching to enjoy the same privilege.

I think alcohol abuse in sports is probably just as wide-spread as it is in main-stream society (maybe slightly less). But it’s only brought to the front page as part of a larger story. Usually the downfall of a celebrity/athlete that we the viewing public are so fond of watching. Only when KoRo drove 120mph through Quietville, America did we start to pontificate about the stupidity of his actions. Cocaine is a story. Steroids are a story. Even Mar-a-ja-wana is a story. Alcohol needs a buddy. Like driving, or sailing, or lap dancing. (hypothetically)

Hops said...

Oh, and obviously the shot-gun champion would be Terry Jorgensen.

Kaiser said...

I guess I was thinking about this in terms of people like Korin, or in the NFL proper, where drunk driving or drinking-related incidents at clubs and strip clubs become headline stories. I feel like the American public casts a stern eye when those guys do it, but not when David Wells tells us that he was hang-over when he threw his no-hitter. Why the discrepancy? Or is it specific to every incident? Is there an element of racism here? What if Barry Bonds got a DUI? How big a story would that be.

P.S. I think Kent Hrbek has to be in the running for swilling champion.

Smitty said...

I like the buddy comment with alcohol. Due to alcohol being legal and a bigger acceptance of the DUI and abuse as being a more managible or fixable problem, it just doesn't sell papers as much. When add that to the fact that many of our baseball icon's & iconic teams (1927-1960 Yankees) enjoyed a party or three, it makes them feel normal. It allows us as fans to have a more intimate relationship with them. More can relate to a hangover vs an overdose.

I'm going a different angle. I feel that Giaetti, Sal Butera and Keith Atherton sat around the club house and played "Gut Shots". A nice game where you take a shot of JD then hit that guy in the stomach. Maybe later on in the game that changed to shots to the face. I'd pick the Rat in any drinking game. I think the bigger question is "Over/under that Knoublach's favorit drink is Zima and Cherry Jolly Ranchers."

By the way, just made Gut Shots up, want to play.

Hops said...

Did Gaetti bring the game down to Houston with it? Is it the same or are branding irons involved now?

Smitty said...

I'm sure the rules are open for "house rules" and/or different interpertations. If in Houston, I would only challenge Adam Everett and never any of the B's. Berkman's eye-shadow scares me.

Pooh said...

Vin and Tonics for all...