Bryan Joiner

Why then I

Tag: road trip

Looking into the void

I rode to Massachusetts this weekend in a car without a working radio that was three-quarters full of basketball fans, so we passed the time on the way up by thinking out every conceivable scenario for the NBA’s free agent class. We did the same thing on the way back, using the most up-to-date information (Dirk! Pierce! Joe Johnson! Amar’e!). Here’s what we believe:

1) The Knicks actually did something right. After two years of “planning,” the Knicks looked like a rudderless ship as recently as Thursday, but at a poker table where everyone was afraid to make the first move, the Knicks pushed a sizable portion of their chips to the center of the table. Amar’e Stoudemire is a good player on a slow, predictable decline, but Chris the Knicks Fan insists Amar’e is one of the smartest players he’s ever seen. This means the end of David Lee in New York, which messes up your fantasy keeper league team but not much else. (Slight UPDATE: The uninsured part deserves some scrutiny. Okay, a lot. But still.)

2) Going to Chicago is the brave move… for Dwyane Wade. Even my mom knows Wu-Tang is for the children, and it appears Dwyane Wade is too. The convention line of thought at the moment is that D-Wade is likely to go to Chicago because he’s locked in a custody battle with his ex-wife and his children are there. You’d have to be the coldest-hearted Heat fan to hate him for leaving because of his kids, and it’s a good reason to leave, but there’s a potentially better one. LeBron’s decision is magnified because he’s quasi-understood to be “chasing history,” whatever that means: More than Michael, more than Kobe, or bringing a title to Cleveland. Wade, a young champion, seems immune from all this and, family drama aside, perfectly willing to stay in Miami and play on 50-win teams. That’s why I think the bold move for him is to go to Chicago, and wedge himself into the Kobe/LeBron discussion. Could he beat them both if he went to the Bulls? I absolutely think so.

3) LeBron isn’t an afterthought, but no one’s going to wait for him if they find something better. I think the whole “LeBron signs and the dominoes fall” narrative is coming to its end, as a prime result of the two factors discussed above. The Knicks took a “F***-it” approach to wait-and-see, and if Wade thinks he can win a title in Chicago, why would he wait for the word from LeBron?

4) Joe Johnson is or is not overpaid. We hashed out this discussion and ended up agreeing to disagree. Person A said that Johnson is the rare truly effective, occasionally game-changing guard; Person B said that he’d be willing to grant all that, but that the maximum contract rule makes it absurd that he’ll be making as much or more than players who are better than him (like Wade and James). I’m person B.

5. Paul Pierce. In light of Pierce’s greatness/goodness over the last three years, it’s worth revisiting the Celtics team that made it within two victories of the NBA Finals with Pierce and Antoine Walker as 1 and 1A’s. That’s what we told ourselves, at least. Now think about how Antoine Walker played basketball. So yes, he’s getting old and doesn’t bring it every day, but Paul Pierce has been good at basketball for a very long time. For whatever reason, I’m just sayin’.

Tuesday, July 6th. Back in the saddle again.

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The Revolution Won’t Be Televised, Unless There Are Cameras At Chick-Fil-A

So ya boy had just landed in Atlanta when he got a text message. “Waited for you but it said your plane was late, so we left. Will pay for my share of the shuttle.” I looked at the timestamp. 11:35. It was 11:38. True, I was still on the runway, and probably wouldn’t be off the plane for another 10 minutes, but still a little hasty, no? But I guess when you’re my friend from high school—with whom I had coordinated flight times for easy to-and-from airport travel—and you meet someone at Logan Airport who’s going to the exact same wedding you are and just happens to have extra space in her car, you don’t exactly ask her boyfriend to hold up for 15 minutes. This is understandable, as would be the small twinge of guilt that follows.

Having spent $35 on a morning cab ride (don’t ask), I decided to take public transportation up to Buckhead, which cost me about 45 minutes and $2.50. I didn’t mind whatsoever, but Bruce felt even worse when he heard. When I called him from the train, I could hear the regret coming through the earpiece. “Just call me when you get here,” he said, “… we’re going to get some food.” The word “food” hung in the air like a pinata. Not only did I miss the ride, now I wasn’t going to eat before a scheduled 2 p.m. basketball game with the groom, and Bruce felt bad about it. The funny thing is that I didn’t, really. I had eaten a large meal at LaGuardia, and when I finally did get to the hotel, the groom had left us a goodie bag with an apple and peanuts, so when Bruce called at 1:15 to ask if I wanted anything from the food court, I was like “No… well, tell me what they have.” He started with Taco Bell, and then “there’s a Chick-Fil-A…”

“Get me a Chick-Fil-A,” I interrupted. “Get me one of those.”

I had heard things. He brought me the Chick-Fil-A, and it was Good. Biblically so? Maybe. But Chick-Fil-A became a big part of the weekend, with members of the wedding party consistently running across the street from our hotel to the mall to get some. The groom himself ate breakfast there at 11 a.m. on his wedding day, only to follow it up with lunch at 2:30, passing his best man on the way in. With the wedding closing in, the only words that needed to be exchanged were “Chick-Fil-A” by both entering and exiting parties. They be knowing.

So, to Bruce: I may have missed the ride, but you gave me Chick-Fil-A. It’s entirely possible that I, in fact, owe you.*

* On second thought, no, no I don’t. But it is a damn good sandwich.

Did The Yankees Win The World Series Yesterday?

I work in Midtown Manhattan, the place of which they always show wide shots on national TV broadcasts to signify the “New York” in “New York Yankees.” The buildings are tall and photogenic, so it makes sense. It’s almost as if they scrape the sky!

The Yankees won the World Series yesterday, and I didn’t watch most of it. The last six innings of it, at least. But I didn’t feel like I was missing much. I’m not fundamentally opposed to watching the Yankees win it all—yesterday just wasn’t the day.*

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who missed the game. Short of a slight uptick in the number of Yankees hats people are wearing around the city, you would have no idea that a local team just won the World Series. There’s no random high-fiving in streets, there’s no “I can’t believe it!” or even “Yes! We won!” anywhere. The city’s moving at its normal, impossible-to-catch pace.

So to those fans who argue that “Yeah, the Yankees spend a lot of money, but it still feels great!” I’d ask: Where are you? I’m a Red Sox fan at the nexus of the Yankees universe and I don’t see you. Are you in Starbucks? If so, hi! The day after the Red Sox won the World Series, do you know who was in Starbucks? A bunch of delirious, stupefyingly happy (and possibly drunk) people waiting to use the bathroom, but not waiting to celebrate.

Maybe the answer is that the Yankees, much like the Red Sox, are far more of a regional team than they are an urban one. Upstate New York, Long Island, and Northern New Jersey are all Yankees-blue bleeding regions; Manhattan’s polyglot communities don’t lend themselves to life-fulfilling emotional obsessions with baseball. There’s just too much else to do, to many people around to invest yourself so completely in something over which you have no control (In Boston, this may be true, but probably far less so). Besides, the Yankees are the safe choice. Their aura pulls in the casual fan, but the truly baseball-obsessed fan often lands with the Mets. I got two texts from my best Yankees fan friend last night. They were both about the commercials during the game.** If the Mets won the World Series, I guarantee you’d know it, even if you just had to go to the grocery store. And I wouldn’t get texts about commercials.***

Tomorrow the celebration “begins” with a parade up the “Canyon of Heroes” downtown, sure to draw tens of thousands of people from across the region. Commuter trains and parking lots will be jammed. No doubt many, many kids will visit the city for the first time. They’ll get the impression that in Manhattan is the center of the Yankees universe. They’ll be sorely mistaken.

I won’t be here. I’ll be in out of town for a wedding in what can only be termed as “gloriously serendipidous timing.” I’m sure tomorrow the louts will be out and about. At least they can follow directions.

* Sigh.

** Sorry, Ravi! (Here comes the hate mail.)

*** I’m not saying all Yankees fans are like this, either. See Big Dood’s great screed from inside the mind of a die-harder for more. He calls all Yankees fans, including himself, Edward the Longshanks. That’s just fine work.

UPDATE: Ravi responds (eloquently) in the comments:

It’s not hate mail. I didn’t want to write anything about the game, b/c after 2004, anything could be a jinx. This has been the most nerve shattering playoffs for me, and I don’t mean that as a joke or a snide comment. The absurdity of those late-90s teams was the created expectations of continuous dynasty, which the organization itself bought into.

When I ran down 9th avenue after the last out, a cab passenger stopped at the light rolled down the window and said go yankees. Back at the bar, clinking beers with the two yankees fans I know from school (again wtf, if there are so many Yankees fans, how come I dont know more of them?) was, for me atleast, a result of relief the victory brought than any celebratory toast.

I will also say that the beer I had after the game was the most satisfying beer I’ve ever drank in my life. I wish this text box was larger, because watching Rivera lock it down again, helped those jitters from 2004 finally subside, and to this day, no writer has ever been able to capture what he means to the Yankees or to Yankees fans (possibly I suspect, because most writers aren’t Yankees fans).

But like Big Dood says, what can you do when they win? Why is it bad to show relief because the big bad Yankees won? How does a fan celebrate and act like an a–hole, knowing the expectations and costs of a $208 million payroll? I guess we’ll leave that to the douches at the parade tomorrow. But for me i celebrate with quiet satisfaction of knowing that my team is the best one this year.

Go Yanks.