Sunday, August 29, 2010

Josh Grimmer: O, the majestic slapshot!

For someone who's functionally illiterate, I certainly do read a lot. Mostly the internet, but before that I read a lot of newspapers. Remember the newspaper? No? Okay, so think back to like, 2007. There was this big, folded up thing that got dropped on your doorstep every morning. It had pictures and words and the paper itself was kinda thin and icky. Seriously? Well, just trust me on this one – these things existed. Some even say they still do. I don't know about that.

Every morning in high school, back when I was a bigger prick than I am now (if you can believe that), I would go to the news stand across the street to buy a New York Times and a Boston Globe, because I was a Man Of The World, you see. Now, there are plenty of reasons to read the paper. Maybe you want to be informed about the world around you. Maybe you want to look at photographs of suspected terrorists. Maybe you want to get smelly ink all over your fingers. I bought the paper for three things – op-ed, sports and crossword puzzles.

Reading the paper was what I did between, and occasionally during, classes to pass the time. I never really cared what was on the front page, that's what op-ed is for. The op-ed takes news stories, writes them in better words, and then tells you how people that you agree with politically feel about things. Maureen Dowd thinks this is good? I'm sold! PJ O'Rourke says this is typical Dem spending? It probably is, yeah. The crossword was something I did – and still do – to make myself seem a lot smarter than I actually am. (Crossword puzzles aren't that hard, guys. Just know what words like "ewer" and "amah" mean.)

Along with my distaste for the actual news portion of the A-section, I never really read the box scores in the sports section. I already know who won last night, and there are only so many ways one can say “Boston 5, Detroit 2.” The real appeal of the sports section is the freedom of the writer to expound on the things that aren't black and white. A score is boring. A stat line is boring. The important stuff isn't the result, it's how the result came about.

Before I get too far in, I'd like to mention how much I hate sports poetry. “The elegiac symmetry of the Emerald Chessboard!” “Nine men strong and true!” That shit sucks. That kind of writing has no place in the world. It's flowery, purple, repulsive. I barely like John Updike's “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” and that's really only because it's about Ted Williams. If it weren't about a Boston athlete, I'd probably hate it.

I understand I'm a rarity, going straight for the commentary and not the box scores. Millions of people nationwide wake up every morning, open the doors to their hotel rooms and grab the USA Today to find out how their teams did last night. The sports section is easily the most read section of the paper. If the Los Angeles Times showed up tomorrow with no sports section, there would be rioting in the streets – and LA is a lousy sports town.

Of all the things that should drive me insane about Los Angeles – tourists, gangs, graffiti, traffic, teenagers who pretend to be homeless, incredibly intense fakeness – the thing I miss the most is the communal sports experience. Not just going to games – walking down the street, yelling words at strangers. “SAAAAAAWKS.” “GO PATS!” In earlier times, a hearty “NOMAAAAAH” or two. Los Angeles is the meldingest pot out there, and there aren't really a lot of locals. There are St. Louis fans and Detroit fans and Boston fans and Seattle fans and Pittsburgh fans and everyone else fans. The city doesn't quite... erupt like it ought to when something monumental happens. The Lakers, much to the dismay of anyone with a soul, won the last two NBA titles. Barely anything happened here. I'm not saying I want car-flipping and shootouts, but I'd like a hearty “WOO” or an air horn or something. Barely even any loud music. What gives, guys? You're a city that gets fired up over international soccer matches that don't involve any country you've ever even visited.

I get so mad about LA being such a shitty sports town, overrun by executives and frontrunners that every once in a while, I think “that's IT. I'm moving back to Boston! Fuck this giant shitberg!” Then as I get off the subway at Hollywood and Highland, I turn to see the giant ceramic Tyrannosaurus Rex bursting through the roof of the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, surrounded by bright neon bulbs and holding a clock that runs backwards. I know, deep down, I belong here. I'm willing to put up with reading box scores if it means I get to look at that giant stupid dinosaur every day.


  1. See, I grew up in SoCal -- even So-er Cal than L.A. There was simply no earthly reason to follow any of the spindly locally-grown sports teams. Why sit indoors watching football, when there's ALL. THAT. FUCKING. SUNSHINE? That was the prevailing attitude.

    When I hear East Coasters (and I DO picture you all as flat, round and made of cardboard - ba-bum-chhhh) talk about sports, though, I sorta get it. The clannishness. The pride.

    Excellent opener, Grimsby!


  2. I've been to baseball games in too many cities to count at this point, but will say there is absolutely NOTHING like a Red Sox game in Boston. It's more like experimental theater than a ballgame sometimes -- the way the crowd interacts with each other, the players, the umps. "Throw 'im the heatah!" "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET HIM SOME RESIN!" "Hey, Blue! Open your fuckin' eyes, why doncha?!"

    In Seattle, if you yell, you get dirty looks from the people sitting around you. And woe to the fan who dares stand up to rally the team in the bottom of the ninth. Jesus, Jim almost got into a fistfight once when he did that. Seattle baseball fans are pussies. Sounds like LA's got the same syndrome.

    Love this essay, Grimmjob! A great kick-off to the blog!

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  4. Yay! Someone smash a bottle of champagne over Josh's head, for the ship is launched!

    Fabulous start!

  5. Plus LA fans are spoiled with so many options. people from other cities only have one team per sport anywhere near their city, where LA people have the dodgers, angels, padres less than three hours away. In most parts of New England 3 hours away is just more New England.