February 2012

Can I Talk to You About Mohammed?

Muslims don’t have a tradition of proselytizing.  Sure, they conquered other societies and let them convert if they wanted to, but sending people out as missionaries wasn’t really part of the program.  Even now, Muslim societies with money tend to send that money to Muslim neighbors to strengthen whatever sect within the religion they support.  In short, it’s not very likely that a Saudi is going to knock on your door anytime soon and ask if you’ve had a chance to meet Allah.

In the US, we’ve taken a slightly different tack.  Instead of breaking away from the missionary traditions of our European forefathers, we’ve taken it to all new heights.  It’s not enough that American churches feel compelled to send evangelical missionaries all over the world to teach and convert, they also do the same at home.  And all too often these efforts are aimed at the most vulnerable among us: children.

It’s not just churches.  It’s also role models like sports stars.  When Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin go beyond sports and feel the need to bring Jesus up in every interview, it’s a message to children.  It’s proselytizing.  When Josh Hamilton has to tell people that Jesus saved him from the drugs, that’s a message to children as well.  And as far as I’m concerned, raping children’s minds in this way is just as bad as what someone like Jerry Sandusky did.

There’s a very simple solution to all this:

So, how about it people?  How about we keep it in our pants?  I won’t show you mine if you don’t show me yours.

-A

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and part time ninja, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

Sunday in the Park with George

I want children so I can play dodge ball with them or at the very least have them pose while I paint a mural of them getting eaten by large cats for my own amusement. But that’s not why I called…

In my favorite Mandy Patinkin musical he sings “I need to finish the hat” in the role of George Seurat. Or as Groucho famously said “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Or as Josh Hamilton is probably saying “there are no bars in hospitals and that’s why people hate hospitals.”

I don’t know about the Cubs’ chances for 2012, but I do know I want a Sunday in the park with a friend. I want to think nice things as baseball approaches but sometimes you just don’t know what hell is coming. Sometimes I feel like Lisbeth of the Dragon Tattoo movies: I just get shot in the DAMN head when I think of the 162 Cubs games that are coming.

Finishing the hat,
How you have to finish the hat.
How you watch the rest of the world
From a window
While you finish the hat.

I don’t know if I’m finishing the hat or if Theo is.

–Johanna Mahmud
Follow Johanna on Twitter!

Just in Case the Nukes Don’t Work

Considering it’s the off-season, there’s sure a lot going on.  Ok, maybe not so much in the world of baseball where the AL’s Prince Fielder hangover is finally starting to wear off, but everywhere else, it’s pandemonium.

Of course there was the Superbowl, which, once again, was a phenomenal game.  If you’re not American, there’s a good chance you’re following either the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament or tuning in for the ongoing rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona.  And somehow people care about basketball again.  But, that’s just sports.

In the non-athletic domains, the action is even more intense.  Syria is descending into civil war and threatens to take the rest of the Middle East with it.  Mitt and Newt, both of whom should be excluded from presidential consideration based solely on their first names, continue to slug it out in the race to the Republican nomination.  If that’s not enough for you, we also have Iran’s war-mongering which seems to consist mainly of vaguely Monty Python-esque threats.

There’s another Iran note that truly caught my attention, though.  It seems that they’re hedging their bets on the whole nuclear program by creating an unconventional back-up plan:

I’ll tell you what, you can laugh off Iran saying they’re going to close the Straits of Hormuz.  But ninjas?  No one laughs at ninjas.  Except maybe Chuck Norris.

-A

Stay On Target

The Super Bowl serves as an excellent signpost for the “we’re almost there” point of the MLB offseason.  Once the big game is over, I know it’s only a matter of days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training and some real baseball action presents itself.  This is a good thing, particularly this year, because I am running out of episodes of Glee (don’t judge) and Breaking Bad to watch, and the Bulls don’t play every single day.

I wish they did!

In fact, this year, the NBA has done a fine job of keeping my attention.  After a 10 year hiatus, all it took for me to care about the league again was a universal villain in the Miami Scheme Team paired with a plethora of explosive, young talent (Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, etc.).  It still doesn’t compare to the sensational grind of 162, but the kind of drama that creeps out of this modern NBA is as close to the old World Wrestling Federation as one can find in any legitimate league.

And, of course, there’s always this:

And this:

And this:

I know it’s Hydrox cookies in place of Oreos, but until the Oreo season gets started again, the Hyrdox highlights are taming my appetite for excitement.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

RSBS Digest: The World of Medicine

After Victor Martinez tore his ACL leading to all sorts of knock-on effects, I got to thinking about medicine and its place in sports and society.

There’s no denying that modern medicine has had an overall positive effect on sports, allowing players to come back from injuries that would have ended careers even a few decades ago.  Cortisone shots get players back on the field after seemingly devastating ankle sprains and allow pitchers to continue throwing the baseball when they’re as old as Jamie Moyer.  Tommy John surgery not only brings pitchers back, sometimes they even come back stronger than they were before.

Doctors can now attach toes to hands when thumbs go missing and unless you look closely or know what you’re looking for, you’d never even notice.  Organ transplants happen everyday and surgeons even performed a face transplant on a woman who was mauled by a chimp.   I can personally attest to the transformative medicinal power of lasers after undergoing Lasik and waking to find that I could see without glasses for the first time in my life.

No, medicine is truly amazing. Except for one thing:

It’s 2012 and still, here we are.

-A

The Houston LIVANstros

It’s too bad Jimmy Crane thought better of renaming his baseball club, because with the recent Livan Hernandez signing, who wouldn’t wanna go check out the Houston LIVANstros?!?

I would.

In fact, I have to admit: I love Livan Hernandez.

He’s a horse.  A nice guy.  And without him, there is no Eric Gregg wide-strike zone comedy of errors.

Also, of all the baseball scorecards I have collected over the years, four of them are games he started.  He’s the most represented non-Cardinal in my pile and for each game I saw him pitch, he appeared in a different uniform.

Viva los LIVANstros!

No me odies, porque estoy en lo cierto.

Paz,

Jeff

Keep It On the Field

A year ago the southern edge of the Mediterranean lit up with a rainbow of revolutions.  Tunisia, Libya and Egypt all rose up while even quiet countries like Morocco had to deal with protesters in the streets.  A year later, with real elections taking place across the region, it seemed like things might have finally settled down.  But after what happened in Egypt on Wednesday, maybe not so much.

Violence is a part of sports.  Even baseball, which tends more toward craft than collision, has its share of physical play.  I’m sure no one has quite forgotten the sickening crunch when Buster Posey went down last season.  Despite the uproar after the play, though, few people would deny that it was fair.  Unfortunate, yes, but fair.

The problem is that violence should stay on the field.  Athletes understand the inherent risks in what they do.  They’re also well compensated for it.  But ending up in a coma in the hospital after a game because you were wearing the wrong jersey?  That’s not a part of the game.  Ending up in a morgue in Cairo because you support the wrong team?  That’s not a part of the game.  What’s worse is that it looks like politics may have played a major part in the Cairo catastrophe and that should definitely not be a part of the game.

-A

All Too Easy

In the Twittersphere, we at RSBS have a reputation for taking cheap shots at Prince Fielder’s… er… um… corpulence (good word, interns!).  While we do a good job of avoiding the F-word (no, the OTHER F-word, silly), we cannot help but point out the absurdity that is Prince Fielder’s physique.

Dude is big, as in I’s hongry big.  He does not have an athletic body.  Yet he’s just as athletic an athlete as you’re apt to find these days when it comes to production.

Prince is an anomaly though.  An anachronism, even.  He’s the digital watch in Glory in that HE SHOULDN’T BE WHERE HE IS.

Except he is.

How did he get here?


I call McDonald’s’ bluff.  If it were really that easy — to just stuff one’s face full of awful simulated food product — then nearly all of US America would be getting paid by a Big League club right now.

In Prince’s case, I gotta think it’s the genes that make it all too easy.

Don’t hate me.  ‘Cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and 10-time Tebowing champion, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

For the Love of the Game/Slaying the Dragon

I don’t know tidily snot.

For as much as I don’t know about stats, player history, and some of the marquee moments, I do have the love.  Even with my rampant stupidity of baseball knowledge, I have the love.

When I’m not sitting with my friend Jeffy at a game or on his couch, him schooling me, I have the love.

It’s been said many times here at Setting the Mahmud that the NBA is my true sport, but even I admit: there is nothing like baseball. I reminded myself of this the other night while watching For the Love of the Game. The pain of Kevin Costner’s character is so real and true to life it’s uncanny. The pain of ending a career.  The pain of romance gone bad. Pain of failed goals. But despite all that, you might still have a friend who believes in you, which summons the strength to get your mojo back.

These are trying times in Chicago. Both ball clubs will probably be bad this year. It’s January. It’s cold. Sometimes, like a ballplayer, you wish you could just be traded to another team, in another (warmer) city. But that’s not how life works. You have to take what you have and make it great. Baseball life can be like a swinging bass line or a blistering hot trumpet solo. We swing high and we swing low. Players leave, lovers leave, and sometimes you’ll get your heart broken.  Being a fan can be turmoil.

And sometimes just maybe you’ll play life well enough to win it all. It’s a noble game. A pureness that wraps around you like a warm embrace holding you tight, one that doesn’t let go. It’s a timeless art that makes you feel like you’re wearing wings.

Beware of the darkness that lies in the cave of your life. Slay the dragon. It can make you feel weak. It can break you if you let it. It can make you feel like a sucker. Accept that pain is part of the process of baseball, part of LIFE.

And let’s heal together. The Cubs will be great someday. The White Sox will be great again too. It will be cathartic and it will be grand.

–Johanna Mahmud
Follow Johanna on Twitter!

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