Sunday, April 20, 2008

52 52 52 Week #9: Maine

In which I examine crappy local sports journalism on a state-by-state basis, progressing through the states in terms of an alphabetical ordering of the heights of their tallest points. Because I can.

We've been experimenting a little bit this week, and I'm thinking this is only the beginning. Djmmm talked about expanding our horizons, and I've got to say, I'm a fan. So yeah, as soon as I have a single creative idea, I'll strike out in bold new directions. Until then? Let's keep doing that weekly series that you know and/or love. 52 52 52 it is!

Maine's Mount Katahdin is next on the docket at a stately 5,267 feet. Here's what you need to know:

1. The Abenaki believed that the mountain was the home of Pamola, a storm god who, according to Wikipedia had "the head of a moose, the body of a man and the wings and feet of an eagle." Why the hell aren't the forces of cryptozoology converging on Mount Katahdin? We've got a Pamola to catch!

2. Also according to Wikipedia, "In the 1840s Henry David Thoreau climbed Katahdin and his ascent is recorded in a well known chapter of The Maine Woods." This is another example of Wikipedia being inaccurate, as it implies there is such a thing as a well-known chapter of The Maine Woods.

3. Katahdin means "Great Mountain" in the Penobscot langauge, which means the official name is Mount Great Mountain, which is sort of, you know, really dumb. Of course, it's got nothing on Britain's Torpenhow Hill, which due to the various local languages literally translates to "Hill Hill Hill Hill." Considering I called my series 52 52 52, I guess mindless repetition is really something I should get behind.

This week's entry comes from The Bangor Daily News, whose website won the New England Newspaper Association's coveted "New England's best newspaper Web Site 2007" [sic] award, which is one of the few legitimate New England newspaper website awards left out there, so that's cool. Our chosen writer is Larry Mahoney, who has some thoughts on a whole bunch of crazy stuff.

Hey, is that sunshine and spring-like temperatures we’re experiencing? Or did I fall asleep listening to the Doors’ "Riders on the Storm?"

Wait, what? How do those equate, exactly? Let's take a look at a random verse from "Riders on the Storm":

There's a killer on the road
His brain is squirmin' like a toad
Take a long holiday
Let your children play
If ya give this man a ride
Sweet family will die
Killer on the road, yeah

Uh...yeah. I can totally see how that equates to nice weather. That's not fucking crazy at all.

Let’s touch base on a variety of topics, shall we.

Oh god yes.

Owning an auto racetrack is a difficult challenge, especially nowadays with the skyrocketing fuel costs. No matter what you do, there will always be a handful of people who will make your life miserable.

Isn't that just sort of always true? I mean, aren't there always assholes in pretty much all walks of life who will make things unnecessarily tough? Oh, I'm sorry Larry, you've got more?

They will cry "favoritism" if you penalize their favorite driver (usually a family member or close personal friend) for taking out another driver or driving recklessly.

Yes, those drunken screams of "FAVORITISM!!!" will echo from the stands. That's totally what they'll be yelling. Also, what kind of business are you operating when most of the audience is composed of the driver's family and friends? Seems like that model might need a little work.

Race fans are passionate about their sport and it doesn’t take much to set them off.

We're dancing into Mike Seate territory here, aren't we? Awesome.

Most racetrack owners have family members working at the track and the only thing worse than getting an earful from an irate fan is having a family member absorb an earful.

Is this even going anywhere? What's your point here?

I have a lot of respect for track owners.

This is basically Larry Mahoney's riff on "Leave race track owners alone!", isn't it? Because dude, that meme was played out ages ago. At least a month or so ago.

Yes, it is a business and they have to make money or the business won’t survive.

I dunno, I imagine they could use their family as effective slave labor. That would keep operating costs down.

But they are also supplying their respective communities with a valuable source of reasonably-priced family entertainment.

These are all individual paragraphs, by the way. That bears pointing out. The other thing is that if I ever escape my subterranean cavern and discover the fabled other gender (they're called wimin, right?) and start a family, you can bet I'd never take my children to a race track. After all, you've got angry fans yelling horrific curses like, "Favoritism!" when their racer doesn't do well. That could really scar a kid.

And they have to funnel some of the profits back into the facility to improve it or create better racing conditions.

Right, like earplugs for their family members. You know, so they don't have to listen to the losing driver's family members complaining. It's the circle of symbiosis or some shit.

The advice I would give track owners is to make sure you have a reliable staff that enforces the rules consistently without a hint of favoritism and have the rules on paper. And be good to them.

Little known fact: this was also the advice Larry Mahoney's ancestor, FitzMorris Mahoney, gave James Madison when he convened the Constitutional Convention back in 1787. The "And be good to them" guideline really came in handy when Alexander Hamilton proposed his controversial "Let's kill the poor!" proposal. Say what you will about Hamilton, but the man did understand his laissez-faire economics.

I might also recommend that you appoint a group of well-respected drivers and you meet with them on a monthly basis to discuss track operations and possible improvements.

I'm sorry, does Larry Mahoney believe he's been asked by a consortium of race track owners to write a report on improving owner-driver relations? Because I'm having trouble imagining in what other context this could even possibly be interesting.

Last, but not least, develop a thick skin.

I think Larry Mahoney may have just solved all race track owner problems for all time. You just saw some history get fucking made.

Just for fun, Larry totally shifts gear from bizarre race track philosophy to inane baseball advice. Let's see some highlights...

Jon Lester is an enigma.

Is it that difficult to throw strikes?

Really, Larry? You're going to question the difficulty of playing major league baseball? Really? That's the way you're going to phrase that one? I mean...really?

Because, I mean, yeah, it is that difficult to throw strikes. A tiny micro-percentage of the population is actually able to do it at that sort of level. It's phenomenally difficult by any sane standard. I mean, I know what he means, but still, there have to be about a hundred better ways to phrase that sentiment.

The problem with a pitcher who is wild is you can’t really banish him to the bullpen because the last thing you need is someone coming out of the pen who can’t throw strikes.

Someone has clearly never heard of Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn. I'm just saying is all. (And yes, I'm aware his control and resultant effectiveness improved dramatically after getting glasses, so don't bother pointing that out).

Baseball/softball openers are about to begin in the state so let’s pass along a few tips to high school coaches.

Larry Mahoney apparently fancies himself an advice god to the people of Maine. I'm not going to correct him if you're not.

First of all, insist that your everyday players throw overhand not three-quarter arm or sidearm.

Advice to Bangor Daily News editors: insist your writers learn how to punctuate, not just how to string random thoughts together.

I would also recommend it for pitchers, especially youngsters, but I’ve always felt pitchers who occasionally alter their arm angle (i.e. Bronson Arroyo) can freeze a hitter by dropping down (three-quarter arm).

Well, if you've always felt it, it must be true. I mean, who's going to argue with the pitching brilliance that is Bronson Arroyo? Or his musical acumen, for that matter:

Hitters, by relaxing your hands and lining up the top knuckles near your fingernails (it will feel awkward at first), you can generate more bat speed enabling you to catch up with that live fastball.

Wait, I thought these tips were for high school coaches? Larry Mahoney clearly doesn't think about the advice he gives...he just feels who in this universe needs his guidance and provides. It's sort of a Zen thing, in the sense that Larry Mahoney has no idea how it works.

And if you are facing a pitcher with a live fastball, stand as far back in the batter’s box so you can to get an extra split-second to hit it.

What's funny, of course, is that I'm pretty sure this is exactly what Joe Morgan assumes Moneyball is like.

1 comment:

Djmmm said...

I'm gonna go ahead and say that the Bronson Arroyo hamburger ad is the best use of the ol' YouTube embed this blog has seen so far.