Quoted from “Manhood and American Political Culture” page ix-x: “Manhood and American Political Culture is essentially an historical synthesis. It pursues several interelated themes – masculinity, sexuality, and the self- as they appeared in a variety of political discourses. I was struck by the extraordinary connections between seemingly disconnected cultural currents and politcial events, and I wanted to write about them without constraint and FOR A BROAD AUDIENCE.” First, nothing screams broad appeal like manhood in the cold war. Next, the shaping of political identities, riveting, pure magic. Finally the sale price, on Amazon no less, of $125.00 is a steal if ever I saw one. I am shocked this ranks 1,633,671 on Amazon’s sales list. Is it any wonder this book literally creaked when I opened it up for the first time?
OK, at first glance golden balls leaving MLS looks bad. His arrival was a much ballyhooed event and even the soccer haters throughout the United States had to admit that it was news. The jersey sales and tickets sales went through the roof and a lot of casual interest was generated that has definitely helped the league. The moment he signed on with the Galaxy he became the face of the league. Even his wife’s appearances on the talk show circuit generated some questions and interest in the league. Beckham’s impending departure leaves a hole in the league and there are not many, if any for an American audience, who can generate the buzz that Becks did.
Taking all of that out, and again, I know that it is a lot, David Beckham’s permanent transfer to AC Milan has some very strong positives for MLS. First, the idea that one superstar player can vault a MLS team to the championship is false. All of the talk when Beckham arrived was that he instantly made the Galaxy a contender, that his mere presence and vastly superior experience would carry the Galaxy into the playoffs and more than likely to a championship. It never happened. In the one and half years that David Beckham played in Major League Soccer, the Galaxy finished outside of the playoffs each season, pretty hard to do all things considered. Even though Cuauhtemoc Blanco was a strong addition to the Fire, he too could not get that elusive second championship to Chicago.
A closely related second point is that Beck’s success at Milan only further demonstrates that the competion in MLS is better than believed by the greater soccer community. Beckham arrived in Milan and played meaningful minutes from the get go and more importantly had an immediate impact. I am not, nor would I be crazy enough to suggest that his prescence vaulted Milan to the top of the league, but if MLS was so lacking in quality, then shouldn’t it take at least some time for a MLS player to adjust, or in Beckam’s case readjust, to the extra rigors of European soccer? Maybe the MLS isn’t a thrid tier league after all.
Third, if Beckham and Landon Donovan continue to have success in Europe, perhaps it will encourage more teams to look to MLS for midseason pick ups and more importantly, MLS will allow more of its players to make the move. Yes, I just said MLS is better than believed, but it still is not on par with European leagues. The more players MLS funnels to Europe, however, the better the reputation of the league will become. Also, by allowing more playes to move either on loan or trasfer two key benefits come back to MLS and US Soccer. First, MLS keeps its name in the news, always a good thing especially in the hypercompetitive sporting landscape that is American sport. Second, and much more important to US Soccer, it gives American players better competition and more exposure to the world wide game.
Finally, we get rid of Becks and Posh and maybe we can get someone a little better known for their soccer as opposed to their looks. Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry would look great in LA or New York, or I dare to hope, Chicago.
I know that the title of this post is plagiarized, but I figure if I could plagiarize from anyone, Doris Kerns Goodwin would be down with it. Which is what leads to this post, DKG recently spoke at my place of employment and the reviews and reaction to her presentation have been positively glowing. Before I start sounding like a bitter, non-famous historian, I must say I don’t begrudge her success, fame or celebrity. To borrow a tired, old phrase, “you go girl.” What is galling, however, is the absolute dismissal of any of her past actions, as if nothing has happened. (My friend AJD covered this much better than I can, so look here for a great discussion of her crimes.) If I was accused, let alone be found guilty of what she did on my dissertation, I would be finished, and rightfully so. Yet because Goodwin had the backing of all her pals at Harvard and what passes as the US intelligentsia, she ultimately was given a free pass. Actually better, her career has arguably improved since the plagiarism incident. The fawning over her and her presentation got so bad that my choice came down to looking like a party-pooping snob or just bitching to my blog about how only lip service is paid to the ideals of honesty and academic merit.
One of the simple pleasures of walking to school each day with my children is the absolute ecstasy they achieve when we catch the bus. Seriously, a bus ride that literally takes us around the corner has them skipping and dancing during the walk from bus stop to school. It is easily the best $2.25 I spend in any given day. Every morning as we leave the apartment they ask if we can catch the bus and I tell them we can try. In typical fashion, they were eager to catch the bus on Monday, but pantomiming Peter Pan was just too much of a temptation and the sword fighting slowed our progress to the point where the bus passed and I announced that we had to walk. From behind me I hear, “Awww, Damn it!” With the exception of a few really “cool” parents, this is probably not appropriate language for a five year old boy. And yet… It was so pitch perfect that it was really hard to reprimand him. Not only did he use it correctly, but his tone and inflection were just fantastic, quite frankly it could have been from a South Park episode. While I gave it my best shot to tell him not to use language like that, secretly I was proud that my son’s language skills and vocabulary were maturing quite nicely.
I’m amazed at watching the now former governor of Illinois continue his media tour. It is just incredible theatre. On Letterman last night he knew he was the joke, was in on the joke, and yet got to deliver his campaign message multiple times. “I’m innocent,” “I will be vindicated,” “the truth is on my side,” all got delivered over and over again. By the time we get to the actual criminal trial he may have convinced 1 out of every 12 people in the country that he is not guilty, and that is all it will take for him to beat the rap.
So, I haven’t posted in a long time, mainly because I’m horribly self-conscious about writing this thing. Many of the blogs I read are like this which I find very clever and interesting and humorous. When I think of adding a new post I tend to think it just isn’t worth anyone’s time. I often doubt that anyone would want to know my thougts about anything. Of course, there are a lot of blogs that I like that aren’t particularly insightful but I like to read them because they are written by friends or colleagues and its fun to read what is on their mind. The other problem with my blog envy is that many of the blogs I roll through are like this the sheer amount of information that Joe can produce is simply daunting. I mean I like baseball but I don’t know what half of the statistics even mean in one of Posnanski’s pieces. So, while I think Jeff Kent is a Hall of Famer, I can’t for the life of me come up with something even close to what a true baseball freak can to argue the case, pro or con.
Finally, as the new title of this blog implies, I’m kind of lazy; leave the blogging to someone much more driven than me. If I don’t write for a week or two, I feel kind of guilty. Then I see some of the post that get thrown up and I really have nothing to feel bad about. Hey I’m a busy guy, if I don’t feel like writing, I probably have a pretty decent reason, like I’m tired, or working (like now :-)) or I’m with my family, or I’m playing Call of Duty. Even so the Lazy Blogger seems to take the pressure off. While the orginal post still contains some truth, it no longer tells the story of how I got here.
I was a regular listener of the “Jay Mariotti Show” on WMVP before he had a falling out with management and was abruptly taken off the air in December of 2004. I called in a number of times, won a few contests and enjoyed the show when Jay wasn’t talking down to his co-host, Marc Silverman. One day, Mariotti explained, perhaps without even knowing it, why he is such an angry, miserable man. Jay announced that he was never a fan of any sports team. You may ask, “that’s it? that explains all?” I think it does.
Jay Mariotti was born and raised in Pittsburgh, a teen in the 1970s. Think about that for a second: He was a teenager in 1970s Pittsburgh. Was there a better time to be a young man in Pittsburgh? The Steelers were the kings of the NFL. The Pirates were always competitive, winning two World Series in the decade. And yet, Mariotti stated emphatically he was never a fan. Though that seems impossible, he was quite convincing that he never had a rooting interest in any one team. A lot of words come to mind about this state of affairs, but the one that rings most true is tragic. Too be surrounded by all of that greatness, all of that winning, and yet not be excited by it, not feel connected to it, not be a part of it, simply tragic. This explains why Mariotti never relates to current fans of sports, he doesn’t understand what it is to be a fan. He is still disconnected from the emotion, the passion that makes sport so intoxicating to the rest of us. It is also why he holds the majority of fans in such contempt he just doesn’t get it. This lack of fandom for Jay also explains why he comes off as so angry most of the time, why he always sees the worst in sport, as opposed to any of its positive attributes. By never being a fan, never feeling that passion, yet covering sport for a living must be a horrible existence. Mariotti constantly refers to sport as a “cesspool” or similar words. Is it any wonder that he feels this way? He is working at a job that he doesn’t particularly like. Day after day, year after year, Jay must watch games that others are enjoying, living and dying with and he doesn’t understand what it means to feel that excitement. The vast majority of people in a sports arena experience euphoria, Jay sulks. Every day he exposes himself to the “cesspool” and writes about it. Is it any wonder that so much of what he writes is terribly negative?
What’s more, is it a mystery that he doesn’t seem to have many friends in his profession? He has an obvious dislike for his fellow Sun-Times columnist, Rick Telander. He and Rick Morrisey have an ongoing feud. Most telling, however, was the lack of support he received when Ozzie Gullien, manager of the Chicago White Sox, referred to him as a “fag.” The sports world rightfully chastised Ozzie for using such a slur, but the secret came out that Jay never went to the clubhouse or locker room of the teams that he covered. The vast majority of columnist supported Ozzie’s sentiments, that Jay was a coward and a fraud, just not the language he used. The division is more acute when almost to a person, sportswriters mention at some point in their career the teams they supported. Sportswriters got into the profession because they were fans first. On some level, they get what sport is all about. Mariotti is an outsider to them as well as the ordinary fan. So, the next time you get upset at a Mariotti column, remember that he was never a fan. Remember that he is covering something that he is disgusted by every time he looks at it. Remember that he is an isolated, lonely figure, working at a job like Willie Loman, being worn down every day by a task he hates. Simply tragic.