Friday, August 15, 2008

Mac Being Mac, Mac

With Sheff being Sheff and Swisher headed West to Oakland, I thought my nostalgia had reached its pinnacle. But then, suddenly, without any warning, the McEnroe we know and love is back. He’s back and more prepared to take on Mike Lowell in a dark alley than ever. (Especially in Mike Lowell’s current condition.) Apparently, Johnny Mac went all kinds of crazy on an umpire in a way that only someone who had been holding back his all kinds of crazy for an uncomfortably long time could.

Yesterday’s outburst at the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Rhode Island featured under-his-breath cursing, arguing with the chair umpire and—my personal favorite—making an obscene gestures at the fans. First of all, what was that? Did somebody say obscene gesture? By all mean, tell us more. To what kind of “obscene gesture” do they refer? The accounts have been frustratingly cryptic. Was there really no way to communicate the specifics of that information in a way that was fit for public consumption? I mean, I suppose I see how that could be a challenge. It’s just that it’s hard for me to determine how I feel about the situation without more details. If he flipped everybody the bird (which I am not even sure is an obscene gesture), that would be one thing. It would have been a sign that he had been trying to acknowledge that things had gotten out of hand and to tone things down with a bit of comedy. I’m sorry, but you will be hard-pressed to persuade me that the middle finger is something other than a joke. And a classic at that. If Mac Attack ultimately got the boot for the bird than I would have to chalk the whole thing up to a misunderstanding. The misunderstanding being that not-funny people failed to understand that something really funny had happened.

However, if “obscene gesture” means something else—something truly obscene—that forces me to change my interpretation. This is the problem with being vague and elusive in an effort to shield someone from what you perceive to be the crude and inappropriate nature of an occurrence. You say, “McEnroe flipped fans the bird,” I know he flipped them the bird. You say, “McEnroe grabbed the family jewels,” I know he grabbed the family jewels. You say he made “an obscene gesture,” my mind starts wandering. Sometimes it’s best not to leave too much to the imagination. Sometimes the imagination can devise a reality more crude and inappropriate than the actual one. I know mine can.

His latest antics raise the obvious question of whether Johnny Mac gets to roll with the bad boys or whether he’s just another media-obsessed narcissist who likes to whine when he doesn’t get his way. Despite all that anger, all the signs that he is potentially “troubled,” it’s hard not to put Mac into the second category. Though, strangely, an event like this doesn’t annoy me the way it would if it had been A-Rod or Clemens or Beckham or any of the countless other athletes that fall into this category. Why? Because, in a sense, Mac has earned the privilege to which Manny still aspires. The privilege to say, “Mac being Mac, Mac.” His behavior is no longer something to be examined and analyzed. Temper tantrums and cursing on the court are just an inherent part of our understanding of who he is. He’s no longer someone we’re trying to figure out but a caricature of a person we already know. When I read about an event like this, my impulse isn’t to get annoyed because, wow, what a jerk. It isn’t too feel sympathetic because, wow, that guy’s got problems. It’s to laugh, roll my eyes, and say to myself, “Mac being Mac, Mac.”

I hate to be a party pooper, and I know people are going to hate me for this, and nothing against Michael Phelps, but seriously. Isn’t is called the World Games? It’s just starting to feel like the Olympics are not actually an international sporting competition but an event that China has decided to host as a tribute to the freakish greatness of Michael Phelps. And I'm not just saying that because he’s winning everything. He can’t help that. And good for him. Really. But when actual events are happening, I don’t totally get why, instead of showing us those, they decide to show us a thirty minute breakdown of Mikey’s muscle-to-fat ratio and how many calories he eats a day and in what form. Not to mention the fact that, when they announce an event in which he is participating, they simply say, “Michael Phelps at ten.” Shouldn’t they be saying, “Swimming at ten?” Like I said, nothing against Michael Phelps, but seriously.

The South Side of Chicago IS the baddest part of town. And to prove it, the Sox tied the record for consecutive dingers with four last night. Hats off to Thome, Konerko, Ramirez, and Uribe. U.S. Cellular Field has never seen such action.

Stop the presses. This just in. Due to recent injuries of both a fan and a coach, the Commissioner’s Office is apparently making the removal of maple bats from the game priority numero uno. Well, it’s about time. Once they’ve successfully handled that issue, they are apparently going to turn all their attention to how they can go about eliminating the actual ball. I admire your vigilance, boys. I’m assuming that if anyone in the Commissioner’s Office had known that steroids had been an issue in Major League Baseball for more than a decade, they would have gotten right on top of that, too. Such a shame no one had any idea.

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