Monday, December 18, 2006

Old-Time Bradke

I'll leave the hagiography of Mr. Radke to the actual Twins fans on this blog. (From the outside looking in, he always struck me as slightly overrated, much like our namesake, because he was one of the few "name" players in a otherwise facelessly efficient collective. That is until Jo-nasty, Baby Jesus Mauer and F-Bomb came along)




But if he goes, I'd like to remember him for the way he went out:
He suffered a stress fracture of the glenoid in his throwing shoulder in late August but returned to the AL Central champions in the final weeks of the regular season.
To quote random anonymous idiots on TV poker shows "That's what I'm talking about!" No, I actually haven't the first damn clue what you are talking about. But what I mean to say is that Radke went old school for us here. Not "young fellas today have no respect" old school, but Eddie Shoor, Old-Time Hockey, old school.



Coming after a sports weekend where all we're left with is the bitching and moaning about those damn kids, it seems to me like we're forgetting a certain part of the appeal of sports in the first place. This stuff is supposed to be badass. I mean when Zinadine Zidane went all, well, Zidane during the World Cup Final, there was no small part in a lot of us that said "that's frickin' AWESOME". We celebrate the big hits in the NFL in "Jacked Up." We praise the intimidation factor of a Charles Oakley forearm, or a Roger Clemens high heater. Hockey even has the ur-manly Code which governs the game. And of course, HAKA
And the inverse, reverse and possibly Converse of this is the appreciation for "toughness" and "playing hurt." The reason the Dwyane Wade commercial is so effective, why Allen Iverson is so revered, and so on is the ability to "man up" and still get it done.

And yet, when someone goes too far, they are on their own, and we are left with the moral scolds of the sports world (gawd, how I dread Rick Reilly's column this week) shaking their heads in consternation.



My point is this - we celebrate Radke almost literally pitching his arm off, the playoff beard and so forth. We need to learn to accept the downside as well - I may be the first, last and only to make this comparison, but the other side of Brad Radke's pitching with a torn labrum is Carmello Anthony sticking up for his teammates. Punishment and approbation are deserved in this case, but remember too that we created this monster. Sports is an exercise in controlled, contrived and stylized violence. When we pretend that "there is no place for that in the game," we are telling ourselves tales.

16 comments:

Hops said...

'melo would have received more "benefit of the doubt" points had he managed to NOT run away after landing the only real 'punch' of the tilt. You can't Man-Up when you're in full back-pedal.

When is Isiah going to take some heat for this? He's clearly been busted by UN lip readers threatening Carmelo. Is there more that Isiah can do to sully his legacy? Doesn't Arthur Agee even find him to be a punk at this point?

Piss on Eddie Shoor.

Jess said...

Seeing Bradke pitching his arm off equated with Anthony throwing a punch and then running away like a pussy makes me a little sad.

Pooh said...

Not equating them, saying that they come from the same place. (Well, except for the running away bit...)

Kaiser said...

I'm going anti-media on this Isiaihaiahh thing. Who fricking cares that he said something to the effect of "Better not bring that weak shit down the lane, son"? Only, he probably gussied it up with some swear words and whatnot. Sure, he should have done it in the huddle, where the U.N. people couldn't decode his threat. But still, head games like that are just part of the game. Always have been. There just didn't used to be so many cameras around (and rich white dudes at the games).

Has anyone seen that Kevin McHale clothesline play recently? He would have gotten a two-year suspension if he did that in D. Stearns new NBA. I'm just sayin'.

Hops said...

WTF does "rich white dudes" at the games have to do with Isiah being a punk?

Kaiser said...

Let's not suspend our disbelief that anything David Stearn does does not have at least a little to do with the typical NBA fan demo.

Pooh said...

RWD have nothing to do with Isiah being a punk (same as it ever was), they have everything to do with the league being shockedSHOCKED that there might be violence in a game. Will, would that have been in your top five gym scuffles witnessed had it happened at Northwest?

There is a certain noblesse-oblige to the corporate NBA fan - "That one. He amuses me, I shall spare him." For my money it's more of a class thing than a race thing, (because Jason Williams = also thuggish in terms of persona...)

Kaiser said...

Exactly the point I was (inartfully) trying to make. There is some definite obliging going on in The Association -- more than any other sport. I can't imagine what the NFL would look like right now if Stern had been running it for the same length of time.

I definitely think it's a class thing too, and not a race thing. In fact, most issues of "race" these days seem to be in this category. I'm widely generalizing, of course, as I am wont to do.

Jess said...

Not equating them, saying that they come from the same place. (Well, except for the running away bit...)

And it was only the running away part with which I took issue. I happen to love a good brawl.

crystal said...

I'm really curious to hear more about the theory "it's" more a class thing than a race thing. I'm intrigued, and highly skeptical. I think I need more details to know whether to start blowing copious amounts of hot air and picking a fight (and then running away like the girl that I am).

So, what is "it" referring to? The fight? The guys involved?

Pooh said...

Crystal,

"It" is referring to the general tsk-tsking and head shaking that goes on anytime anything happens in the NBA. It's always a "black eye for the game." Yet the Bengals somehow aren't giving the entire NFL a bad name. Nor is TO looging on D'Angelo Hall. Or Carolina having half their team caught with roids (or half their cheerleaders making out in bar bathrooms...but at TWT, we support that...)

Similarly, basebrawls are good clean fun, especially when they involve Nolan Ryan pummeling Robin Ventura.

Fighting is so much a part of the game in hockey that it is even in the rules, written and unwritten.

NASCAR sees a pit row brawl about once a month. But that's just rubbin' and rubbin's'racin'...

crystal said...

Interesting. Why is it that you think the reaction to inevitable brawls has more to do with class than race, though? I'm not sure I believe that the people who watch the NBA are actually of a higher socio-economic class than those who watch other professional sports (I'm not even going to touch the obvious NASCAR joke here, in deference to my love for North Carolina). Is that what you mean? I'm going to put it out there and say that I think people respond in a tsk-tsk way because the athletes involved are predominately black, and in baseball, hockey, and NASCAR for example, people just laugh and think it's sweet white boys having some fun. (No offense to the sweet white boys in the room.)

The NFL has gotten to the point where people just expect raucous behavior, which again I'd say is a race issue more than a class issue. Would people be shocked if their star white quarterback was busted for DUI? I think so. Would they be if it were, say, their star black wide receiver? I would honestly argue no, but I've been known to take this a little more personally than most.

I guess ultimately I'm still not following the logic and making the connection between class and the resulting response to violence, especially comparing the NBA to other pro sports. Then again, I'm completely strung out on work and have limited brain fuction right now. I'm very interested, though.

Pooh said...

It has to do with the proximity of the "fans". I'm making a clear distinction between actual hoops fans (Me, Josh, Program Guy at Target) and most of the, for lack of a better word, suits, who tend to sit front row.

They are so close to the action that they can see and hear all the trash-talking and what not. They wonder why these pampered athletes (because they get to play a game for a living. Try running an M'n'A shop, you filthy ingrates...) can't just be more businesslike. Without really realizing that in context of that business the players are. Just like the fact that one might expect to hear coarser language in a garage or on a factory floor. It's just so blue-collar and unseemly.

crystal said...

Thanks, Seth (er, Pooh?)...that distinction you describe wasn't too clear to me, nor was the issue of proximity, in reading through everything. Your statement came across as pretty broad to me, so now can see a bit more where you're coming from.

I think that part of the reason the suits like sitting courtside is that they, for sixty minutes or whatever, feel like they're kind of a badass professional themselves--I would venture to guess they like hearing the trash talk, seeing the sweat fly. It's a world they'll never inhabit, no matter how much money they have. They like the blue collar aspect of it, up until punches start getting thrown and the sweaty bodies land on their wives. But then still, don't you think they relish telling every one they know about it? I bet those people courtside at the Garden are still talking about it.

It's their way to "slum" it, since they can't get away with similar behavior in their own white collar worlds. I don't believe they actually want players to be more "businesslike." That would take a lot of the fun out of it for them, the suits at courtside. David Stern would LIKE for the suits to feel that way, but I don't think that's what actually happens. Thoughts?

I don't know why the hell I'm trying to argue a lawyer, but it's worth a shot. (Just know that I expect you're rolling your eyes up there in Alaska at my elementary arguments.)

Kaiser said...

My two cents...maybe using the terms 'race' and 'class' in this discussion isn't making things totally clear. In my mind, they are close to the same thing in the context of the discussion, as is 'culture'. You hear about "machismo" being a part of Latino culture all the time, and it is (seemingly) an accepted attribute for Latino men. I think we are touching on something here with African-American men in football and baseball too which approximates machismo, although it might not be exactly the same thing. There is definitely a reputation defense kind of thing going on that is part of NBA fights, and I think it is a part of the yuck factor that certain NBA fans have for NBA athletes and fights. Maybe the threat of sitting courtside and having a meelee spilling over into your lap is part of it too, but is that really what Stern is trying to avoid? Or is he trying to bring a "business-like" aspect to the median NBA player identity, so as to have fans subconsciously identify with the players. "Hey, they're just like me!" Not having to wear head gear does contribute to this too, as does the proximity of the fan. But all in all, I can't help but think that the dress code, limiting fighting, and airbrushing Allen Iverson's tatoos out of photo shoots is all part of an attempt to rob some NBA players of part of their cultural identity and transform it into something more identifiable to the typical (white) NBA fan.

Good discussion.

Kaiser said...

And for the record, I'm against robbing people of cultural identity. I think it adds color and flavor. Even if I don't necessarily always identify with it, and try to make it a part of my own identity.