May 2009 Archives
My best friend Chris and I competed in our first triathlon last week. While we have finished six marathons together, nothing could prepare us for the mental and emotional beat down handed out by an Olympic length tri. Yes, we could swim the 1500 meters it required to finish. Yes, 25 miles on a bike will make you feel like you spent the night sitting on top of a spiked flag pole, but we could do it. And 6.2 miles running? Please. We do that before breakfast. Although we'd never done these feats back to back to back, and although a heat wave caused morning temperatures to top 100 degrees, we were ready to swim, bike, and run!!!
But we weren't quite ready for the emasculation that we would suffer. First, when we arrived at the starting line, volunteers with Sharpies scribed our bib numbers on each arm. When we asked why that was necessary, a volunteer responded "It's so we can identify the body should you drown or get run over." Mmmm-kay. Maybe he was kidding. Then, our age was written on each calf. I can't think of any explanation other than sheer humiliation for this data bit being permanently marked upon my leg. Words cannot properly express the depth of one's embarrassment of having a 60 year old woman (it's written right there on her calf in case you wondered how old she was) run past you like you are standing still.
But before I could experience having someone older than my mother leave me in the dust, I had to get through the swim. It's a swimming start, which means your age group is herded into mile-deep water and you are instructed to tread water for approximately twelve hours while they let the previous group clear the area. Once that happens, a horn is sounded and a stampede of arms and legs thrashes all about until you figure out that it's safer to swim behind the pack than in it and start to fall back. Safer, that is, until the next group to start catches up to you and then the whole mosh-pit-in-the-water thing begins anew. At least I think it was the next group of swimmers. With water too murky to see for than 3 inches in front of you, it's impossible to tell who is kicking and punching you. For all I know, Chris was taking out some long-held aggressions on me and blaming it on mud weasels.
Getting out of the water, we run to our bikes. After jumping on, we are guided out to the street and pointed in the proper direction. For the next two hours, the only sound I hear is "On your left!!!" as bike after bike flies past me like I am parked. Maybe it's the fact that I am a runner and not a biker. Maybe it's the heat - 102 degrees is freakin' hot, no matter how you slice it. Maybe it's because my $200 Scwhinn I got at Wal-Mart isn't the finely-crafted racing machine that these other riders have (I did have one rider laugh and say to me "You're riding that in a race? You are a super-stud!" as he breezed past me). Whatever the reason, after 25 miles I was ready to get off my steed, and I am sure it was more than happy to be rid of me.
By the time Grandma zipped past me, I had banished all hope of finishing with any dignity and resigned myself to being happy just to finish. "Why are all these old people in so much better shape than I am?" I kept asking myself. "Steroids" is the only answer that made sense to me.
As we turned the corner and headed for the finish line, there was Stephanie, camera phone in hand to record the event. "Boy that bike shirt makes your gut look big" she remarked while reviewing the photos. "Do you think those extra 25 pounds slowed you down?" What a ridiculous thought. It was obviously my choice to live steroid-free that cost me this race.
Anquan Boldin is everything that I love about football. He's tough, a competitor, and plays even when injured. He's not the fastest receiver on the field nor is he as gifted as his co-worker Larry Fitzgerald. But what he lacks in raw football skill he makes up with his heart. After literally getting his face broken at the end of the Jets game, he was back on the field a few weeks later and as productive as ever. When Stephanie and I took the kids up to Cardinals training camp for autograph day, the first player we sought out was Q. Stephanie even told him that he was the very reason she loves watching the Cardinals play.
Drew Rosenhaus, on the other hand, is everything I hate about football. He is Boldin's (and a lot of other players') agent. He is obnoxious, provocative, and a fomenter of discord. One of his most famous tactics is to send text messages and e mails to NFL GMs (and reporters covering those teams) informing them of the fact that some of his clients are available for trade - except the clients in question were not available for trade. Rather, they were wanting new contracts, and the Drew Rosenhaus method of getting them more money involves trying to make the GM's life miserable to the point that a trade is the easiest way out of town. This sours the relationship that the team has with the players, but also (and way more importantly) the relationship the player has with the fans. We fans want our teams to keep our good players and then add more to the team, making it better. We do not want our favorites acting like spoiled children, complaining to the press that $5 million a year is an insult.
So, we Q-philes have been suffering a love/hate relationship with our favorite player. On the one hand he is the Cardinals. On the other hand, he employs as his agent someone who is willing to poison the well and break up our team. We've had to deal with this cognitive dissonance for years, and it has made us question our love for Q.
No longer. Today, we get news that Boldin is dumping Rosenhaus. ESPN is reporting that Q has informed RosenSatan that he is getting kicked to the curb. All is right in the football universe.
It is at crisis points such as this (football season is still months away while my beloved basball team dwells in the cellar with no hope in sight) that I am left to ponder the great Questions of Our Times. Ninja vs Pirate, Samurai vs Ninja, Aquaman vs. Borat, etc. are all worthy of reflection. But the one that I keep coming back to is "Who is the best rock band ever?"
Some of the obvious bands to consider inlcude the Beatles and Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Who - worthy candidates all. But all are flawed, in one way or another. The Beatles went through a drugged-out phase in which they produced such drivel as Revolution #9, I'm Fixing a Hole, and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Plus, they had Ringo Starr.
The Stones? They lost their touch about 25 years ago, yet still keep on putting out (mediocre) albums. Tattoo You was the beginning of the end, and it's all been weak since then. So, count Mick and the other zombies out. The Who and Led Zeppelin started with a bang, had solid periods, then faded toward the end.
Consider U2. They have been making records since the early 1980's - nearly 30 years. Each new album is something solid in its own right, and fans do not purchase (or download) the new stuff out of a sense of duty, or hoping against hope that the band has finally returned to its roots.
Now, U2 is not my favorite band. Van Halen, by far, holds that distinction. (If you wonder why I don't consider VH to be the best rock band ever, just say the words "Sammy Hagar" over and over until you figure it out.) U2 is maybe in my top 5 or 6. But, I have to give them them their due and nominate them as the Best Rock Band Ever.