Posts Tagged ‘WWII’

After all, My erstwhile dear,
My no longer cherished,
Need we say it was no love,
Just because it perished?

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

America had a love affair with baseball. It was a slow burning love that lasted generations, a constant companion during hard times. Baseball was there everyday, during the depression, during WWII, during the communist scare, baseball was always there, giving you living legends. Williams, DiMaggio, The Holy Trinity, Koufax, Gehrig, Ruth, Foxx, Rose, Aaron, the list goes on and on.

Of recent vintage, the love affair has cooled as a sleeker, much faster sport has taking it’s place as sports king of America. Football reigns supreme and that’s fine. It’s the hot one. Football gives you collisions and car crashes, but with human bodies. Football gives you the cheap quick entertainment that the twitter generation enjoys so much. It’s the most popular sport in the US by a mile, nothing else really comes close to it.

We’ve forgotten about baseball, and it’s because it strayed away from the one thing that made it personable. We loved baseball, but we loved its players even more. They weren’t steroid infested freaks in the past. The bodies weren’t cartoonish. Ted Williams looked like a butcher at the corner store.

Yep, greatest hitter of all time.

For years you could imagine yourself playing baseball and it wouldn’t look clownshoes ridiculous. You can still kinda do it now, but this was especially true in an era before off-season training and, well, steroids.

I understand the drive to become the greatest player you can be, the drive to make the most money, I really do. While I don’t despise roided up players, I do not like them for the negative contributions they’ve made to a game I adore. The relationship between baseball and it’s fans is fractured. An entire generation of fans is growing up not knowing if their favorite player is a cheater or not. See, this doesn’t matter in football. Those guys are just things in helmets that run into each other for our personal enjoyment. They’re like NASCAR vehicles to us. Their personal health matters little because if it did, we’d outlaw the sport.

Baseball on the other hand is a game that is married to history and context. It’s the only game where you can compare players now to players of a generation ago. George Mikan would get destroyed in the modern NBA. Red Grange would be knocked out on his first snap in the NFL. Babe Ruth would still mash in the modern MLB.

History and relatable stars are the main draws with baseball. The true legends of today are awe inspiring because of the legends that they walk with. Greg Maddux is a living legend, a giant in the historical baseball world. The man has amassed 355 wins, he can hang his hat with legends like Warren Spahn (363), Steve Carlton (329), Christy Matthewson (373), and Pete Alexander (373). When you think about Maddux, it’ll be in the context of Greatest Players of All Time. His name is intertwined with players from the aughts, the teens, the twenties, the thirties, and the fifties and sixties. What other sport does that?

In a roundabout way, that brings me to Ryan Braun.

He did indeed test positive for performance enhancing drugs. He did indeed get off on a technicality. He did not, however, exonerate himself whatsoever from being a steroid cheat. The thing with urine is that it doesn’t magically grow testosterone when it’s refrigerated.

Crazy, I know.

Ryan Braun had a 20:1 ratio, which means whatever it means to you. It was high, but it wasn’t the highest in history as he’ll have you believe. There have been 70:1 positive results in the past. The sample was not tampered with, the seals were intact, and while they did sit in the collector’s fridge over the weekend, the alternative was to have them sit at Fed-Ex for the same amount of time. Again, I have yet to hear of the case where testosterone grew in urine because it was cold.

The crime Ryan Braun committed doesn’t just taint his legacy. The continued use of performance enhancing drugs has driven away fans. Baseball is slowly recovering from the steroids scandal, and it finds itself in an odd place. It is trying very hard to actively eliminate the use of performance enhancing drugs, but the athletes themselves are finding exotic ways to cover up the use.

Ryan Braun, baseball is partially at fault for the “Guilty until proven innocent,” stance that the general public has taken in past years. More to blame are the players, however, like yourself and Rafael Palmiero, that use and deny so fervently. Baseball has lost a lot of fan credibility, and that’s unfortunate. Living legends are more difficult to identify, I have no idea who’s clean now. I can make my assumptions, but the last round of “damn he’s juicing too?” was too damn painful to give anyone the benefit of the doubt.

Yeah, everyone in baseball is guilty until proven innocent. It’s not really safe to point at anyone and say “He’s completely clean.” It’s not the era we live in.

That still doesn’t give players an excuse to use. You’re hurting my game man, and I’d appreciate it if you cut that shit out.

Snow : precipitation in the form of small white ice crystals formed directly from the water vapor of the air at a temperature of less than 32°F (0°C) – Merriam-Webster.

Snow last year.

It comes every year, sometimes sooner and sometimes later, but every year many denizens of this city react to a “minor” snowfall as if they’ve just found out Vader was Luke’s father. Mom drops a pan of casserole on the kitchen floor, dad almost chokes on his beer, sister decides to make the weekend out of it with her boyfriend, a car screeches to a halt in the middle of traffic in the distance and a fairy falls dead when they all hear the news about the inches of snow that are scheduled to fall down on the city.

“Six to eight inches!? Holly fuck! What will we do?” someone will say. What indeed? Ya know, six to eight inches is not that impressive. In fact it’s about average. Just ask any woman about six inches and see what they have to say about that. Shit, ask a man if that’s your thing. Or if you’re brave enough, ask a black guy.

Man, that ain't shit.

Me, I don’t deal with the Chicago winter the way some people do out there. I don’t get frightened. I don’t panic. I don’t make it ruin my day. I listen to the news and I accept the fact that snow will fall and then I go on about my day.

Sure, I participate in the whole ordeal like I’ve done every winter. I’m careful on the road, I take it slow and easy and I do not hurry. I obey the rules of the road, I give the other drivers the benefit of the doubt, and certainly, I do not make hasty decisions. I let it be and I let the usual winter mode of driving carry me home safely.

However, I always hope that that ONE prick driver, be it male or female, who is doing 35 miles per hour or more next to me in the snowstorm finds a ditch somewhere soon just because they are proud that they have an all-wheel drive.

And they usually do find a ditch or a problem of some kind a few streets down the road. You slowly get to the stop light that they were rushing to and you find the same car spun out of control with the emergency lights on and the driver outside in the snow is talking on the phone. I’d like to be the witness to that conversation.

“What happened?”

“I was doing 40 miles per hour and then my car slid and I hit this fire hydrant.”

“In the snowstorm?”

“Yeah.”

“Why were you driving so fast and rushing in the snowstorm? Didn’t you listen to the news?”

“I wanted to selfishly skip ahead in front of ALL of these people who were essentially feeling the same way I was, except that they didn’t act on it like I did. Plus the ‘Bachelor’ was on at 7 p.m. I can’t miss the ‘Bachelor.’”

Here’s what you do in a snowstorm.

After you brush off the snow, warm up your car and get near the vicinity of your home, find a liquor store, stop there and buy what you need for the night. When I was a teenager I would make stupid decisions during a snowstorm. I always wanted to drive somewhere with my friend, like an idiot, to make money shoveling other people’s driveways. Yeah that was the 1990s.  You could make some cool money back then working your ass off in the worst weather.

And you know what we replaced those poor door-to-door kids with shovels with? Those industrial snow throwing machines that always come out when one inch of snow falls on the ground and some dude wants to get the most bang out of it because he paid $500 for it 10 years ago. He needs to fucking use it. And you see those guys out there and they will do the whole block if they have to. “Just being a good neighbor.” “Don’t worry Sam, I got it.” Granted, this year’s storm is nothing compared to last year because those throwers were really useful. But still. “I had some gas left in it and I thought I would use it.”

So find your liquor store, dig out that parking spot and shut the door. Things will all be better in the morning.

Here’s what you should be drinking during a snowstorm, but feel free to improvise. Who am I to tell you what to drink?

  1. Not Beer. I know that some men entertain some fantasy that colder is better and that the Coors Light Silver Bullet train rolls into town when there is a snowstorm, but it doesn’t. In fact, getting a buzz of beer during a snowstorm is like getting a hand job during an orgy where EVERYBODY is fucking except you.
  2. Alright, you can’t let the beer thing go and I get it. So try what the Germans do. Warm up some brew in a pot to desired warmth, put some sugar in it and enjoy. It tastes wonderful. It’s great for colds too. But yeah, warm beer is un-American so forget I mentioned it.
  3. Not hot chocolate. This is Chicago, A Drinking Town with a Sports Problem. And in some instances drinking is a sport. So put your tampons away.
  4. Brandy. Some people can’t handle it, some don’t like the taste of it or some have nightmare experiences after it. I like to look at it like Samuel Johnson did. “Claret is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.” Also, it warms you up. What do you think those giant St. Bernard dogs have in those barrels around their collar in the cold countries? (For the record, I’m skeptical if actual St. Bernard rescue dogs ever carried barrels of brandy to warm up skiers who were dug up in the snow, but let’s just live in the fantasy that they do or did.) And it’s cheap. Christian Brothers can’t run you more than $12 if you get lucky.
  5. Not rum. I don’t care how much you mix it to make it look like a naval officer’s drink, it shouldn’t be done during a Chicago snowstorm. Rum can be used during a Chicago heat wave if you want to feel like a true pirate who is sailing the high seas, but we’re not there yet skipper.
  6. Definitely not Everclear. I know the Bears didn’t make the post-season and there is no opportunity to paint your chest with a giant “C” on it and go howling in the wind in sub-zero temperatures at Soldier Field, but it just shouldn’t be done. Listen if you have succumbed to drinking grain alcohol, then you don’t have a sports problem, or even a drinking problem. You have a death wish. Go get help. As Mr. Raul Parra of Omegawatt Studios said on here, “Quit drinking like you’re 18.”
  7. Bourbon. Bourbon is good for any occasion. It makes and destroys lives. So it doesn’t really fucking matter when you drink it. Drink it if you want to. Preferably on ice or in shots. And lots of it.
  8. No gin. Ever. Not for me anyway. But yeah, I had some bad experiences with gin. But if you didn’t, then go for it. Gin and tonics are great when done right. Hospital trips if done wrong.
  9. Wine. Wine can be good if you live with a woman and you just got done shoveling the snow and are about to enjoy a nice dinner with the wifey or girlie. Then you can cuddle by the fire or a warm space heater, watch some romantic comedy, stare into each other’s eyes and watch the snow fall, open another bottle of fine wine or two and talk about what you will name your kids one day. I guess that’s okay. Don’t drink a jug of Carlo Rossi Sangria by yourself. You will wake up stupid and won’t be able to read. If you’ve gotten to the point in your sport drinking career that you are drinking MD 20/20 out of the bottle then you’re probably not reading this because you are homeless. And none of this shit about “what a great wine” or “great value” it is. That’s just bullshit.
  10. Scotch. Drink as much as you want. Scotch can be replaced with tequila because tequila is fucking awesome. Drink as much as you want.

Well we’ve come to the end of the list. And I know what you will say. “Hey listen jerk off, I like drinking beer in the winter and fuck you and your list. What are you drinking you faggot?”

Vodka. Ice cold vodka. Shots and many of them. Many Europeans drink this instead of water, I know. But vodka is the perfect drink sometimes when you have a giant driveway to shovel and you don’t have those fancy snow blowers or throwers and your neighbor is a dick and won’t let you borrow it for a bit. Even after you offered to pay him $10. Okay $5. The economy is tough.

Vodka is a winter’s drink. It comes from Europe. Many theories have been floated around as to who actually invented it. Was it the Russians, or the Poles or the Swedes, or some people in Finland? But where ever its true origin is, you know it has been made with winter in mind. How do you think the fucking Russians outlasted the Germans during WWII? Vodka. My dad actually told me that they would feed the Russian soldiers a few shots of the stuff before going into battle. The Polaks swear by it. It kills germs in your body.

In Chicago, the snobs will tell you to drink the most expensive shit which I won’t name here. But what I will name is a good Polish vodka that has been making the rounds in the United States. Bruce Willis is the face behind the vodka when it comes to marketing. But fuck Bruce Willis. He might be a face to sell the product, but guess what, the price sells itself. Sobieski Vodka is $9.99 for 750 ml. and $15 for a liter. If you see other prices you are getting fucked there. And it’s good. Svedka Vodka used to be $9.99 but they got too big and decided to charge $12.99. Get your hands on Sobieski before even those Poles raise their prices. Word from the grape-vine is that things will be changing in March with Sobieski so stock up while the prices are low. Some changes in the company are coming.

I am the face of Sobieski Vodka

But I raise my shot glass to all Chicagoans who don’t bitch about the snow falling, to the ones who get through it like they do every year with their balls in their hands and the shovels in their teeth, and to those who are proud that winter doesn’t mean shit to us. It’s Chicago. This is what it is. That’s the main reason most of those California fucks don’t live here “because the winters are so bad.” Good. Fuck ‘em.

And Fuck Bruce Willis too. (I don’t even know why I say that, I like Bruce Willis.)

"Whatchu talking about Willis?"

Listen I don’t care what your drink is. You know what your drink is. I don’t care how you drive in the snow. You know how you drive in the snow. I just want to get home in one piece, shovel the fucking parking spot and drink my drink in peace and watch the Wheel of Fortune. Maybe a Bulls game. It’s just snow.

If you got a better list, feel free to share.