Friday, September 25, 2009

The Final Salvo, and Deadspin Comes A-Callin'

Tonight, Yanks-Sox: The Last Hurrah. Before the ALCS.

After losing the first 8 games of the season series, the Yanks have roared back to take 6 of 7, and now we actually have a chance to pull even with a weekend sweep. Generally, there are two ways this could go.

1) Coronation. The Yanks win at least 2 of 3, clinch the AL East and homefield against Boston, and go into the playoffs with positive momentum against the AL's top teams. In the last week of the season, against Kansas City and Tampa Bay, Ramiro Pena plays every position, including third base coach, and the rest of the guys relax. Against the Rays, we maybe lose on purpose and act really condescending, with Girardi unleashing a quote like: "we've always been fond of Tampa, and we wanted them to feel good going into the offseason."

Setback. Boston wins the series, the Yanks clinch the East and homefield against Kansas City, and nothing is quite as satisfying as it could have been.

I just don't see #2 happening. Here are the pitching match-ups:

Friday: Lester vs. Joba
Saturday: CC vs. Dice-K
Sunday: Pettitte vs. Byrd

Obviously, we're at a distinct disadvantage tonight. But we're heavy favorites after that, and smart money says the Yanks take two. If we can steal one from Lester the Molester, more's the better (is that the phrase? It returns results on Google, but so again does 'for all intensive purposes').

Okay, on to some big news: yesterday, Seth Curry Saves Duke! was featured on a website called Deadspin. Most of you are probably familiar. For those not, Deadspin is a sports blog in the same way that a great white shark is a type of fish. They have tons of readers, a great reputation, etc. etc. If you like sports and humor, you should be reading. The critical reader will note that the writers take a certain glee, bordering on the cruel, in embarrassing athletes and sports media figures, but the humiliation is usually well-deserved. And always entertaining. No soapboxes here.

Recently, they started something called "The Learning Curve," where bloggers can send their site in, have it featured, and expose themselves to the wrath of the thriving commenter community. These men and women (read: men) are devotees of the site, and their attitudes and styles range from meanly funny to meanly stupid. It's certainly not a place for the faint of heart, and the Learning Curve feature gives them a chance to form a swarming mob and tear down another soul.

Being a masochist since old times, I sent Seth Curry Saves Duke! in on Wednesday, and the editors were nice enough to feature it at 5:15 yesterday afternoon. You can read the post and the comments here:

The Learning Curve: Seth Curry Saves Duke!

To be fair, I called the commenting body "human cretins" in my initial e-mail (which I knew would be posted), an act of aggression which surely invoked their ire. The link resulted in an even 1,000 hits yesterday (a bit less than ten times the usual total) and 17 comments on Deadspin. These opinions ran the gamut from "neutral in a kind of menacing way" to "vicious in a superior way." Now, here on my home turf, I'd like to take a moment and respond to a few.

User 'Sponsored by V8' says:

This isn't easy...but having a strong vocabulary goes hand-in-hand with confusing, convoluted writing. While it sounds great to you, as you wrote it and understand the gist of what you're makes reading the sentences time consuming and kind of a pain in the ass...even to those readers who understand every word.

Generally, unless you're Philip Roth or a writer of similar talent (which you're not), writing concisely and elegantly should be the goal. It is much more difficult to do this than to flex your vocabulary and pat yourself on the back afterward.


In all seriousness, though, I'm a better writer than Philip Roth, and that doesn't come from me. Dude sent me an e-mail about a month ago, which I now reproduce in full:

Hey Shane,

Just read the blog. Great stuff! Hate to admit it, but you're a better writer than me. Keep up the good work,

Philip Roth (the novelist)

PS - if you have any tips about writing, please send them my way!

(Also, commenter, I read yesterday's post, and there's exactly one word that might be considered 'fancy' or 'difficult,' and that word is: plaudit. So if you think I'm 'convoluted,' fine, but it ain't like I'm Dr. Thesaurus over here. Dr. Numbers was bad enough.)

User 'Clinton Portishead' says:

In all seriousness, the blog isn't that bad. Considering it's Yankee and Duke centric, I would recommend posting flyers at your local country club, Eddie Bauer, and Pedophile's Anonymous.

Made me laugh. The first sentence is the closest thing to a compliment on the entire page, but the same user followed it up moments later with:

Might I suggest further haphazard use of sesquipedalians and fourth-line synonyms in a transparent attempt to justify your tuition?

"Sesquipedalian" is one of those nice words that is the thing it defines (in noun form, a word with many syllables). In that regard, it's the exact opposite of 'pulchritudinous,' a word that means beautiful. How the hell did a word like that finagle its way into defining beauty? That's like an image of Davis Love III's face becoming an international symbol for 'cool.' Just shouldn't happen.

As for fourth-line synonyms, that's total bullshit. I've been down to the third line before, I won't lie, but these fingers have never plucked a word from that fourth strata.

Well, there was that Wednesday post about Rafael Nadal when I was really tired and I thought I'd used the word "awesome" too many times, so I tossed in "Nadalicious" to describe his backhand. But I swear, that was the only time.

User 'Kick His Ass Seabass' says:

I don't know why, but I really want to punch you in the fucking face right now...


User 'Scientific Mapp,' referring to this passage from my original letter: "*The name is a sort of allusion to the "Dewey Defeats Truman!" headline, which nobody gets (including me, most days) and which may have been a poor choice." says:

You and I are kindred spirits, Shane. My blog "The Wacky World of Sports!" is an allusion to the headline "Lindbergh Tot Found Dead!"

I include this because it made me laugh out loud.

User 'AC_Greens_Virginity,' referring to the original letter, says:

You should pretend you're always writing an obsequious letter to AJ when you're posting on your blog. This is because your letter was actually funny.

Someone didn't read Dr. Numbers.

User 'Trot Nixons Hat' says:

I've gotta say as a Duke alum, I don't want to read this blog...

This reminds me of a stand-up comedy show I saw in an upstate backwater town called Broadalbin-Perth, in a venue called 'The Funny Farm' that stayed open for probably three months (none of the details in this sentence are fabricated). The bar was filled with troglodyte townies, most drunk, and the two featured comedians had come a few hours north from the city. As the first performer tried to deliver his material, a haggard middle-aged woman in the back heckled him with a lowing noise that was half-moan, half-dismissal. It contained no actual words, but was so frequent and odd that it couldn't help but disrupt him. He tried to engage her, in an attempt to find something to mock, but at these times she clammed up and wouldn't respond. When he continued with the set, the noises would start again. The whole thing was pretty infuriating (though most of the other townies thought her antics were the absolute last word in humor), and the guy became totally frazzled and limped to the end of a poor set.

Anyway, at one point in the midst of bombing, he said something like "ladies and gentleman, if any of you want to become great hecklers, that's how to do it; be vague and annoying, and don't ever respond to the comedian." The commenter above accomplished that pretty well; his words are sort of insulting in an oblique way, and there's no effective way to respond. Well done, Trot Nixons Hat!

User 'Hockey Mountain,' responding to a jokey part of my letter where I lamented that Deadspin hadn't linked any of my articles after the Tyler Hansbrough one in April, says:

My suggestion: Don't be such a self-centered, self-important prick. I've never been linked to on Deadspin, and I have a god damned star. It's not personal you either write about a niche topic (like Colorado Avalanche Hockey) or you're boring.

Other than the guy who wants to punch me, I would say this is the most outwardly hostile comment. And his angry conclusions aren't even merited, since I wasn't being serious in the letter. However, he is correct that I'm a self-centered, self-important prick. I consider this a lucky guess.

User 'Magic Johnson's TCells' says:

Maybe focus more on the "gang rape" aspect of Duke instead of their sports.

I actually tried that, in an earlier blog titled "Seth Curry Continues Duke's Tradition of Gang Rape!", but I got a lot of complaints from the families and had to adjust. Also, nobody got the Dewey Defeats Truman! reference.

Okay, that's that. In a last bit of news, the Giants take on Tampa Bay Sunday, and if they win it opens up a pretty clear path to 5-0. Have a good weekend.

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