The Battered Bastards of Baseball

Portland Mavericks BBB

It seems impossible today. But from 1973-1977, before corporate control of America became nearly absolute, the Portland Mavericks, a Class A minor league baseball franchise, played independently, without any Major League Baseball affiliation. Competing against future Yankees and Dodgers (and the giant organizations that bankroll them), the Mavs improbably ruled the competitive Pacific League, fielding an adult roster of Bad News Bears assembled with the aid of an open try-out. Their owner-leader was the actor Bing Russell, a man for whom the description “larger-than-life” is only a little hyperbolic. The sensational documentary “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” tells his story. Whether or not you like baseball, Hollywood, or Don Quixote, Bing and his Bastards will amaze, delight and inspire.

Redskins Forever!

washington-redskins-logo

The Washington Redskins have the coolest nickname in all of sports. Their logo – a stone-faced Indian wearing 19th Century feathers – is also pretty awesome.

Here’s how you know the name “Redskins” isn’t a slur against a conquered and marginalized people but is actually a part of the NFL’s long tradition of diversity and inclusion, on and off the field: a league spokesman said, “The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive, and respectful image.”

Exactly. It’s not like they’re called the “Injuns,” or the “Savages,” or the “Inferior Race of People Who Couldn’t Stop the White Man’s Invasion.” It’s Redskins, as in the color of skin most of those people have. I mean, look at the helmet! Reddish skin is an honest description. Just like if you had a team of African Masai warriors, you could accurately call them . . . → Read More: Redskins Forever!

TJ and The TIMES

TJ Simers

We still have a subscription to the Los Angeles Times. The print edition. Seven days a week. And we read it cover-to-cover. We’re old school that way.

One of the abiding reasons to continue paying for something that can be enjoyed largely for free on the Interweb is to vote monetarily, to support some excellent writers whose talent and courage distinguishes them. The Times staff, which, like most major newspapers these days, is mostly voiceless and interchangeable, in the style of classic journalism. But it has its stars. Most of these scribes have a column of some sort, a place where their individual voice may be heard and celebrated, even when that voice is eccentric, edgy, or controversial.

Until last week, one of the truly great writers at the Times was a sports columnist named TJ Simers. His catalytic Page 2 column had been indefinitely shelved for . . . → Read More: TJ and The TIMES

The National American Way League

Cheap Labor on the Plantation

Let’s start a business! Who’s in? We can accept up to 31 partners, maybe more if we expand one day.

It will take a few decades, but our venture will eventually be worth nearly $10 billion. How’s that for success? We’ll be rich! And admired and feared and begrudgingly respected. We’ll be winners!

Mostly we’ll be rich.

This kind of money will buy us all kinds of protection from government regulators and opportunistic leeches and anyone else who tries to get in our way. We’ll be lawyered up to the eyeballs.

When we get sued for being a monopoly – which, obviously, we aspire to be – we’ll release the hounds.

When former employees crippled and enfeebled by our workplace environment sue us, we’ll release the hounds – and the P.R. trolls we’ve bought from the tobacco industry.

And no we won’t . . . → Read More: The National American Way League

Reefer Gladness in the NFL

NFL Drug Policy

Great timing! The first weekend of NFL football regular season play – and it really is so darn playful the way those boys run around – begins today.

So we couldn’t be more delighted that the National Football League has asked us to help explain why their players – please don’t call them “warriors”; that would demean our heroic mercenaries in the armed forces – should be forbidden from enjoying marijuana. The league is refining its Drug Policy, and they supposedly want some “other points of view,” especially if discussing the NFL’s Drug Policy will distract attention from their brain injury scandal.

Apparently the assistant of someone’s assistant did a Web search and figured out we’d written a thoughtful book on all things weed-related. But apparently they didn’t actually read that book, because here we are, pleasantly buzzed, consulting for an organization, the NFL, . . . → Read More: Reefer Gladness in the NFL

Sexy Olympics

athlete butt

Now that the kind and understanding Mullahs of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei have consented to allow their nation’s second-class citizens to participate, the 2012 Olympic Games are the first ever in which every country’s team includes women.

It’s about time. Some of us have a weird thing for chicks in chadors, especially when they’re shooting air rifles.

The Middle Easterners coming late to the international party have some legitimate concerns. Like marriage, another helpless victim under constant attack from destructive homosexuals, certain helpless institutions must be defended by various legislative Acts. Or athletic bans. Female modesty can’t be adequately protected by swimming suits, leotards, or form-fitting short-shorts.

Seriously. They can’t.

And they shouldn’t be. One of the compelling reasons to watch the Olympics is that most of the athletes, male and female, are beautiful. Their bodies, especially those that have . . . → Read More: Sexy Olympics

Suspension of Disbelievers

Ozzie-Guillen-of-the-Miami-Marlins

North Korea is launching rockets, Syria is slaughtering its citizens, and the Filipino community is organizing a massive get-out-the-vote campaign for a crucial election (not for something boring and unimportant like a public office but a cause that’s got folks passionately engaged: the American Idol finals). So the astonishingly weird five-game suspension of Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen — for comments emanating from his mouth — came and went with little comment.

Principles like free speech, you see, are “important” according to moldy textbooks, but, really, let’s be honest: it’s hard to care about silly old constitutional precepts like the First Amendment when we’re permitted to express our opinions in the form of Facebook “likes.” Plus, Ozzie offended a whole bunch of people, and there’s got to be some punishment for that, right?

For those who missed the imbroglio, what the baseball skipper said was that . . . → Read More: Suspension of Disbelievers

Violence Voyeurism

hunger games

Outrageous. Horrifying. Disgusting.

These were some of the adjectives hurled in the press when news broke that the former world champions of football, the New Orleans Saints, for years had instituted a bounty system that rewarded their players for knocking opponents out of the game. Players contributed to an in-house pool and collected $1,000-$1,500 when they scored a knockout. Hitting someone so hard that they required a stretcher or motorized cart to be removed from the field earned a special commendation.

The National Football League, presenters of America’s favorite gladiatorial spectacle, handed down sentences to the malefactors. The General Manager and an assistant coach were suspended without pay for about half the upcoming season. The head coach, Sean Payton, was banned for the entire year. And in a maneuver eerily reminiscent of the Soviet Gulag, the former defensive coordinator and alleged mastermind of the bounty program, . . . → Read More: Violence Voyeurism

The Clock Manager

play clock

We pause today from our usual examination of Things That Matter (or at least sometimes seem to) and turn our focus to something that actually really does matter, something that matters profoundly, and to more people than we can probably imagine: football.

Although our feeble, cannabis-influenced brain can’t properly formulate a satisfying answer to the question one asks whenever one sees a football game on television – who are these people, tens of thousands of them, spending big money to sit out in the cold to watch a spectacle that is enjoyed in comfort and as a drastically more comprehensive viewing experience when consumed at home on basic cable? – we can answer a few other questions.

Wait. Is MichaelKonik.com an authority on the subject? Let’s put it this way: if not for football, there wouldn’t be a MichaelKonik.com, where we freely share super interesting . . . → Read More: The Clock Manager

Tom Sawyer Syndrome

ew cover

Marx famously thought that religion was the opiate of the masses. If he were around today he could safely add sports and every other form of entertainment to the societal apothecary. We pay burly fellows like Albert Pujols more than $25 million a year to hit baseballs and petite ones like Tom Cruise about the same to look handsome while dangling from skyscrapers.

They deserve every penny, and maybe more. Our court jesters and fools don’t merely distract us from the gloom and anxiety of a fully examined life. They fill our spiritual emptiness with comforting narratives, gracefully lending what feels like meaning to the unsolvable mystery of existence – sort of like what religion does for the naïve and credulous among us. And for that we’re grateful.

The ancients had Talmudic scholars. We moderns have sports talk radio and TMZ. Since there’s always something . . . → Read More: Tom Sawyer Syndrome