[Scene: a darkened, colonial-influenced tavern with the look and feel of 1960’s vintage sylings. A lone spotlight illuminates a single speaker sitting on a stool in space created by moving cocktail tables to the side.]
It’s that time of year again – Festivus – where we air our grievances and display our feats of strength. It is a time for sharing: sharing our grievances, specifically. Well, the feats of strength, too, but I’m a big fan of airing grievances.
2011 has been wonderful fodder for these grievances, personified by my friend Siri. We can’t get along at all, yet I find I take her with me everywhere. Welcome to the annual Festivus celebration at Mo’s Tavern, and allow me to introduce my co-host, Siri. Welcome Siri.
“I’m not sure what you said.”
Of course not. In the absence of official fan polling on the airing of grievances, Siri and I will compile some of the worst, in our opinion, 2011 had to offer. Siri, what do you think was the biggest disappointment of 2011?
“It doesn’t really matter what I think.” Well, it kind of does – we’re, like, putting a show together here. You don’t really give me many answers, Siri.
“Ok, one of these places matching “Answers” isn’t far from you:
Morrison Funeral Home – 8.3 miles
Jesus is the Answer Ministry – 33 miles
Christ is the Answer – 30 miles
Answer is Fitness – 35 miles.”
Although I am curious about the logic behind providing a funeral home as an “answer,” in the interest of speeding this along, I think I’ll just talk about some of my grievances.
Now, I’m pretty transparent about my sports, so it’s not hard to imagine what my #1 grievance would be about…unless you’re Siri. Case in point, Siri, what would be my number one disappointment of the year? “I don’t know what you mean by [that]” Of course you don’t. “Sorry, I don’t understand, ‘Of course you don’t’” My biggest disappointment was the 2011 Red Sox. “I don’t understand.” Allow me to explain.
This was a team that was by most accounts destined to return to the World Series. Remove the first and last months of the season, and they were the best team in baseball going away. Individual contributors waxed and waned, but as a group, for most of the season, this team was living up to the hype. BUT, there was this pesky little concept hanging out there called “finishing.” When you just barely need two hands with which to count wins for the month of September, there’s a big problem. Losing game 162, put the finishing touches on a season of discontent. In the intervening time, we’ve seen the manager part ways with the team amid what could only be considered character assassination attempts, the General Manager who with said manager brought 2 World Series to the team bolted to the Cubs for an apparently as of yet undecided compensation back to the Sox, and the closer bolt to the Phillies apparently without so much as talking to the team. Maybe Jose Canseco is available to close. “I don’t understand ‘Maybe Jose Canseco is available to close’.”
That’s probably the first intelligent thing you’ve said to me. “I don’t understand.”
You know what I don’t understand, Siri? I don’t understand how a group of adults can consistently fail to do the right thing by children. I don’t understand how a grown man can say he saw another adult molesting a child in the shower and fail to affirmatively do something about it. Imagine what Penn State would look like right now if one person – just one – had done the right thing. From the outside it would look very similar to the way it looked 6 months ago, reputation in tact. Fact is, one way or another and sooner or later the organization will have to do the right thing – it’s just a shame that the adults in the conversation could not see beyond their own perceived self interest to do the right thing.
“I don’t know what you mean.” I’m talking about Penn State. “State College, Pennsylvania is 431 miles from you. Would you like directions?”
[Throws phone across the floor] I’m sure Siri isn’t intentionally obtuse, she’s just programmed that way.
I wish I could generate enough interest to complain about college sports, like the Sooners disappointing season, but I just can’t. College sports just don’t interest me, never have, but I do appreciate that for a great many the college game is the only game that really matters. I’m too much of a homer to complain too bitterly about the Phillies’ season ending as it did or the way the Eagles’ season has unfolded, and too much a hater to do anything but giggle my butt off about the Colts season or about the results of LbJ taking his talents to South Beach. I wish I could say that I have a grievance with the loss of half the NBA season – but I don’t. Didn’t even know they weren’t playing to be honest.
What I do have a grievance with is a guy like Ndamukong Suh channeling Albert Haynesworth and stomping on an opponent, on Thanksgiving no less. What he doesn’t get is that one moment can define a career – it’s the one thing people outside of Detroit will remember about the guy. Fans of the Lions finally have a bright spot, a reason to watch football every week, and Suh misbehaves his way onto the naughty list. Dumb. And if nothing else, Detroit deserves better. For good measure, I’ll throw Ryan Braun onto the Festivus grievances because he’s clearly a dummy too.
Feats of strength are not my forte either, really. I like to find the negative, finding the positive is always so damn cheesy. “What kind of cheese would you like?” When you think about it though, sport by its very nature is a ying/yang thing. For every 16-0 Patriots, there’s a 0-16 Lions; the undefeated Packers lose the same week the winless Colts win. For every Tim Thomas, there’s a Roberto Luongo. Just kind of works out like that.
One of the things I have always said has been that as much as I hate the Yankees laundry, I don’t hate the guys wearing it. It’s for that reason that I can give up a little love for Derek Jeter for his 3,000th hit. This is a man who has played the game at a high level with integrity and class for a long time and I couldn’t be happier that such a man reached his milestone. As for his teammate, Mr Rodriguez, I wouldn’t give him the time of day, but Jeter has demonstrated time and again he is not only a quality player, but a quality person.
In case I hadn’t already mentioned it, I’m a homer. The Boston Bruins going to a Game 7 in each of their playoff series to beat one of the best goal tenders in the game on his home ice and make him look like an AHL wash out in the process truly has to be one of the years biggest feats of strength. With that win, the Bruins became the 4th Boston franchise to win their league’s championship in 6-years, capping off the most amazing 10-year run for the city of Boston and probably in the history of professional sports in this country. Yeah, so the Bruins get the nod for one of my feats of strength this year.
And the last feat of strength I can dish out really has to be the Packers’ title defense season. This is a team that got strong and made the plays when it mattered last year and rode that crest to the Super Bowl. How did they follow it up? By coming damn close to undefeated. I don’t know if I buy into the “its good to lose and get the pressure of an undefeated season off your back” business. I mean, these are players who just want to play. The media hypes pressure, the fans feel it. I’m not so sure athletes feel it. Look it’s a great story line, but I don’t know that the players are all that into story line. Fact is, that we may have all seen a team come within 1:30 of being undefeated recently – pressure? I don’t know. What I do know is that the Packers are the odds on favorite to win the Lombardi trophy again because of the way they’ve defended it this year.
I hope you all enjoy your Festivus, and all those other holidays that may be happening. Raise your Festivus pole, celebrate your strengths, get those grievances off your chest so they don’t bog you down going forward and have a wonderful rest of the year. Happy holidays from Steve Grogan, Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady.