Bryan Joiner

Why then I

The Week In Quotes/Weekend Reading

For us, the mountain was a challenge. For them, the mountain was a daily, unmysterious fact of life, pictured on their beer bottles and laundry detergent boxes.

– From Tom Bisell’s essay, “Up the Mountain Slowly, Very Slowly,” in The New York Times’ Play Magazine, a story about his ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro.

There were a lot of white people here. I had come to designate the places where the white outnumbered the black as North Face Africa, a place seen only in the Kilimanjaro International Airport, the better hotels and restaurants, and any other mountain-related holding station.

– Bissell

[H]is agent, Bill Duffy, had told me: “With Steve it’s all about the flow.” Flow, of course, being shorthand for that state of mind that artists and athletes strive to enter into, and which in full flood entails an ecstatic expansion of consciousness that releases them from confines of the self and produces crowning moments of creation and performance — not to get too mystical about it.

– Chip Brown, also in Play magazine, in his feature article on Steve Nash’s trip to China

Baseball will stick it to you; it means to break your heart… old fans do understand that it’s losing, in all its variety, that makes winning so sweet…

– Roger Angell, inadvertently echoing my thoughts on the 2007 Red Sox in his farewell piece to Joe Torre in The New Yorker

When calm at last arrived—when the brutal Savimbi was killed by government forces in 2002—people in the cities began cautiously to repaint their houses. A person who does not believe in tomorrow does not repaint his house.

– Henning Mankell, in the “Angola” chapter of a book I recently picked up, The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup

Listen, we’re not just a good team. We’re a great team. And don’t you fucking forget that. And let’s go play one game at a time and go prove that. Because let me tell you something… There’s a reason why you wear this Red Sox uniform… Because you’re a bad motherfucker.

– David Ortiz, as quoted in Sports Illustrated, to the Red Sox after game 3 of the ALCS

If any of you guys actually read these articles, could you let me know?

Great Stuff

Curt Schilling has published the letter Theo Epstein left for him after they met on Thanksgiving Day 2003.

Barry Bonds

My general take on modern sports — that the game is more important than the hoopla surrounding it — means that I have a rosier view of Barry Bonds’ achievements than the average fan. By now, it is axiomatic among all but the most delusional Bonds fans that he took steroids; the bigger question is, So What? That’s not something I want to debate right now (as I have actual work to do). Here is the news I want to talk about: Bonds said yesterday that if the Hall of Fame accepts his record-setting 756th home run ball after it has been branded with an asterisk (courtesy of fashion designer Mark Ecko, who bought the ball for $750,000), Bonds would refuse to participate Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in the event he is elected. He’s obviously trying to bully the Hall of Fame into not accepting the ball, the same way he has allegedly bullied everyone around him for years. I’m not interested in the latter, but I think that the Hall of Fame should accept the Bonds ball without hesitation and basically tell Bonds to fuck off.

It sounds like they’re doing as much. The Hall’s president, Dale Petrosky, said the museum would be “delighted” to have the ball. Bonds’s take: “You cannot give people the freedom, the right to alter history. You can’t do it. There’s no such thing as an asterisk in baseball.” Here’s where Bonds runs up against the the-game-is-the-thing ethos. Marking the ball with an asterisk does not alter history, the same way placing an asterisk next to Barry Bonds’ name in the record book does not alter history, should that happen. He has hit the most home runs ever, and that will not change until someone hits more. That’s the long and short of it. ESPN can run as many “Outside the Lines” specials as they want about the “legitimacy” of Bonds’ record, but, in the event that both teams are attempting to actually win the game (gambling scandals deserve to be excepted from the-game-is-the-thing rules, because the teams are not playing the same game), the only necessary legitimacy for the home run record is to be the guy who clubbed the most pitches over those walls.

For a long, long time, this seemed to be fine with Barry Bonds. He claimed that he just wanted to play baseball, and that the media bore a large responsibility for tarnishing his image. He was right about that. The stories of his outrageously bad attitude were salacious enough to overshadow his monumental accomplishments even before his late-career weight gain; he was hated before he ever saw the Cream or the Clear, however knowingly. But he can’t claim that the media’s twisting this one. He’s finally in a web of his own lies. When Matt Murphy caught his 756th home run, wearing a ketchup-stained Jose Reyes jersey, Bonds sent message through the media that he didn’t expect the ball back. Absolutely not. “I don’t want the ball. I never, ever believed that a home run ball belongs to a player,” he said. “He caught it, it’s his.” Now that Mark Ecko owns the ball, Bonds has backpedaled: it now belongs to “history,” he says, and marking it would be wrong. I think it’s quite obvious that he was right the first time, and the second thought was a burst of hot air. We have to pay attention to Bonds when he swings, but we don’t have to listen to him when he talks. If he doesn’t speak at the Hall of Fame induction, that would make things even easier. But as soon as Barry Bonds closes the book on his career, the hard part of his life starts, because we’ll have to judge him on Barry Bonds the person and not Barry Bonds the player. By the time his Hall of Fame induction rolls around, he may need all the friends he can get.

Kevin Durant Is Already Scoring 27 Points In A Game?

Jesus. Watch out, league.