Tag Archives: Luckswing

A Tale of Two Videos: Tony Stewart & Ray Rice

Tony Stewart will not face charges on the murder, the vehicular homicide or the accidental death of Kevin Ward, Jr.

I’ve lost all hope in humanity.

The American justice system has failed yet again. I can only surmise Eric Holder’s recently announced resignation comes as a result of the inaction by officials to hold yet another a popular white “athlete” accountable for his crimes (see: Duke Lacrosse team, Oscar Pistorius, baseball players).

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Two weeks ago, the last apparent last bastion of the fourth estate TMZ released a video of Ray Rice shamelessly knocking out his then-fiancé Janay Palmer.

Once revered as maybe the top running back in the world, Rice’s career as it stands appears unredeemable. The Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice’s contract, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. The NFL Players Association has since appealed on his behalf, sighting tired (but unfortunately, most likely true) slippery slope, two punishments for one crime arguments.

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On August 9th in upstate New York a 43-year old man driving a 1400 pound vehicle at a speeds of nearly 140 miles per hour hit a 20-year man—a boy really. The young man with a long, bright future ahead of him died, almost immediately. It was caught on tape.

One would hope—given the above circumstances—that the full weight of the law and public reaction would fall on the culprit. One would imagine that said culprit would be collapse under the pressure, a charged and convicted criminal as the world celebrates the triumph of justice.

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So here we are. The NFL is the midst of a once-in-a-generation scandal. Employees are answering to the former Director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (the goddamn Director of the F-B-goddamn-I!), turning over communications, cataloging steps taken and not taken in an investigation completed or not completed. Even Commissioner Roger Goodell—the shoot-first sheriff, self-proclaimed judge and jury of the NFL when he ascended to power—finds himself in the unusual position of target practice.

Rice is at fault, and the NFL and Goodell screwed everything to hell.

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There is a video that shows Ward’s murder. It wasn’t shown on ESPN or your local news, because it’s a video of someone dying (as if all that war footage of rockets firing and landing on nightly network news weren’t). Watch it here—if you can bear it.

The 43-year old man—Stewart, let’s be painfully clear—is free. He woke up this morning to a loving family, doting fans, a dedicated racing team and a job that he loves.

Ward will never get a chance to realize the NASCAR dreams Stewart shamelessly tried preserved in his all-too-early return to the track.

But more than that, Ward will never get to find and marry the love of his life, to swell with pride as he watches his children stumble and get back up, to grow old and see the world change. Ward will never get to turn the ignition or choke the throttle of his beat up no. 13, joke around with his team or get angry at his opponents, relish in victory or rise again from a loss.

Ward graduated from high school two years ago. Two years ago. And will remain fixed in his family’s memory an eternal 20-year old.

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The institution of the NFL has been turned inside out—and rightfully so—for countless reasons. Among these include: the culture of violence that has been absorbed by the players’ family members for years, the countless players facing even more countless charges of violent crimes and the apparent cover-up (or shameful ineptitude, if you’re an optimist) of the Rice incident—only the most recent indication of the NFL’s unspoken mandate to “protect the shield.”

Despite all this, last Sunday came and went. Hundreds of thousands of fans across the country flocked to their football meccas and millions tuned in at home. Billions of dollars were made in salary and advertising revenue. The testament of sport.

It would be pretentious, and in many ways wrong, to call for a boycott of the NFL—and not just because it would never happen. After all, most football players are by-and-large good people (I think) who understand that they’re not actually allowed to pulverize other people off the field.

I would hope that recent events have disrupted fandom—at least for a blip—causing unease and skepticism. There has been some reporting on this, but not nearly enough.

Football is good. Ray Rice is bad. And the NFL fucked up.

End scene.

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Ray Rice knocked someone unconscious—his partner nonetheless. He may never face judge or a jury, but he is being punished—by the league he belonged to, the team he was a part of and the American public at large.

Tony Stewart Killed a person. Where’s the indignation? Why hasn’t ESPN rushed to Ward’s aide with hours of outraged Olbermanns and Wilbons?

When we were talking about Ward’s death—for that brief two week period that quickly was swept under the rug the moment Stewart gloriously returned to the race track to bravely not lose his position in the Sprint cup race—we seemed to shy away from what actually happened. Our headlines never used the words like “killed” or “fatally struck.” Instead it was an unfortunate accident that happened to an unfortunately young person.

“…an on-track accident that left 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. dead.”

“…he was involved in an incident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.”

“Kevin Ward Jr.’s death…”

“A sprint car racing incident involving NASCAR driver Tony Stewart left another driver with fatal injuries…”

It’s no wonder that Stewart got away with murder. Our verbs hid him from the truth of it. I don’t know yet if that was for his sake or ours. Both are infuriating reasons.

Accidents and death are part of the machismo of racing. I get it. But Ward didn’t die in an accident. He died after an accident—when Stewart’s right front tire clipped Ward, throwing him in the air like a rag doll. As for machismo, the NFL certainly doesn’t lack in it, and they’ve still managed to hold individuals to a modicum of accountability—no matter how disjointed and backwards-ass the path is to get there.

Stewart Killed a person. It’s on tape. I’m still waiting for the Fury of God’s Own Thunder.

The Crossover: Greetings from Earth, Basketball is the Best I Ever Had

A product of thoughtful consideration (and content quotas!), I’ve begun email exchanges with a variety of luminaries across a range of professions and interests (this is hardly true). There is something to be said, however, about the implications of form qua blog and the enacting of discourse, but I won’t say it because it’s mostly doodoo. Academic and grounded in…something, but doodoo nonetheless. With that resounding endorsement, I present to you: The Crossover.

Shea Hurley:

Dujie,

Please respond to this email having something interesting to say about basketball. I’m a little bored. You’re probably not: congrats once again.

Michelle and me went to Leavenworth last weekend and climbed a proper mountain so it’s safe to say my ankle is mostly healed. I talked to your mom at the wedding, she said you felt at fault. I said you weren’t but that it was fine you going on thinking you were. So it goes.

Dujie Tahat:

I do feel at fault. You’d never played basketball really before and I should have warned you sooner that an ankle injury was inevitable if you didn’t get any basketball shoes. Unfortunately, yours was much, much worse than most (almost grotesquely so), and your subsequent employment was dependent on your physical prowess (not all of us can be 6’4”, a sinewy 215 and have a perfectly symmetrical face—so fuck you love you!) . Also, that was just one of the worst-sounding, -looking, gut-bending injuries I’ve ever been on a basketball court to witness. That definitely added to the guilt (for your stupid affinity for Tom Brady):

I’m over it now.

On this topic though, I have been meaning to ask you a question: what it was like to fall in love with basketball?

Yes. Love.

I’ve spent nearly as far back as I can remember playing basketball and can’t remember what it was like in the early years/months. Of course, over that time, I’ve fallen out of favor with the game, and subsequently, recommitted myself. Even then, there’s a rush when I lace up for the first time in a long time. The distinct tightness and traction of basketball shoes, a mishandled dribble, the first swish, when muscle memory takes over, even the pennies and compression shorts— it’s thrilling.

In those moments, during games, I find myself in complete ambivalence–one of those truly unsettling moments where you’re equally culpable to opposing forces. One the one hand, I am reorienting myself to the logistics of the game: positioning, spacing, assessing my side’s needs and focusing on those (i.e. rebounding, shooting, etc. (not et cetera: those are actually the only two things on a basketball court I can actually do)). On the other hand, I fight to get in “the zone”—which is already a losing battle I think because the sensation has always felt more like finding “the zone.” As if I had drunkenly, haphazardly and accidently stumbled into that state of mind that I’d characterize by a sharp dullness, or a sluggish honing.

It is a strange position to be in—rediscovering something you know so well—holding both these necessarily contradicting thoughts in a singular mind, in a singular body, in a singular game.  One requires thought and analysis; while the other demands near-blankness.

xoxo

 SR:

My affinity for Tom Brady—the great protagonist of the American Dream—is childish, sure, but it is not stupid. Lupe Fiasco is stupid, so were running shoes and I should have known that much without needing to be told.

As for love and basketball, I’m a little hesitant to throw love around while talking about a sport so new to me. But there was definitely something pseudo-romantic going on. Playing basketball had the same kinds of insecurities as a new love. I knew I was going to have to stop for a long time very soon and I was reminded always that it was a risky way to get in shape. If basketball was a love interest it was a fem fatal minx. I was infatuated, I had everything to lose, and I knew that at any moment it could expose me as a klutz and a fraud. I just didn’t think it would be so dramatic, or have such severe consequences when it happened.

Generally speaking, it is a bad situation to be in when your employment is dependent on your physical condition. Sometimes the job is worth it—it seemed like it was to me—most of the time it’s probably not.

As it turns out the premier rappel and jump bases in the country are both on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest here in Washington. I asked one of the older hotshot guys why he never jumped and he told me to put a 100lbs pack on and jump off my house. That was why, he said. Needless to say aerially delivered fire-fighters get hurt constantly. A jumper a few years ago, seeing the rocks ahead of him, threw up in his flight helmet before breaking both his legs on impact. The point here is that an injury was likely all along, so no worries; I’d rather beef it in the gym in front of ten people than in the wilderness in front of, like, no one at all.

Anyway, back to basketball. They say if you’re new to something it is best not to be nervous when doing it and visa-versa, when you are skilled at something the nerves can heighten your senses and are generally good for performance. This was the pendulum swing I found myself moving through and I felt much more natural, even in the zone, while I was able to think less. Thinking less, of course, I can’t do consciously. When I was thinking more it was about what a big rube I must look like, with my tall socks, ticking-bomb shoes and general lack of basketball paraphernalia. Or maybe a ruse instead of a rube, like a big, cruel trick in the form of a rangy, althletic-looking body who you could be pretty sure played at least JV in high school but who was really completely inexperienced and (initially) completely unskilled. Brick, sorry. That’s the punch-line and the joke’s on you, teammates.

I only wish I found the game sooner.

stay dreamy

DT:

Lupe Fiasco is not stupid. He’s a God. Toe shoes are stupid. I mean for Christ’s sake, wear regular fucking shoes! Or go barefoot! Mostly just pick one—stop trying to do both!

Also Tom Brady is not, I repeat not, the Nick Carraway of the American Dream—way more like Gatsby, or our 21st century version:

I mean, sure, seventh round pick, career back up, turned his one opportunity into multiple MVPs and Lombardi trophies, but whatever: the dude benefitted from the most effective pro football system since Vince Lombardi’s 1960s patented “Our endzone is that way, idiot!” offense.

Tommy Boi went to private school, went to football camps led by former Atlanta Falcon (and ArenaBowl Champion!) Anthony Graziani and grew up in San Mateo, California, among the top 25 wealthiest counties in the U.S. (just under $83,000 per capita), and the third wealthiest in California. There’s only one paradigm in the American Dream that his ascendency captures: MORE!

(Also, thanks Wikipedia for not failing to prove my point. This time.)

As far as basketball goes, I hadn’t meant love in a romantic sense. An initial pass makes that seem way too limiting, but I think you might be onto something.

Upon further review, I realized that I recently married a woman I’ve been on and off with for six years. Our relationship bears many of the characteristics of the relationship I have with basketball: there’s a definitive muscle memory to our motions, reading and reacting, learned instinct, a general machinery and lines that dictates the parameters but that wouldn’t mean a thing without the sheer joy of improvisation and cooperative freeplay.

There is one undeniable difference though: primarily that all sport ends.

I don’t believe that any human relationship ends—especially one that bears love. It just changes form.

To that end, when does basketball end? Surely, Basketball does not.

I get great joy from watching—marveling, really—at professional basketball players whose whole livelihood, whose whole identity and techne are contingent on what their bodies can do, a physical limit. To them, basketball never ends. They are the closest thing there is to the embodiment of Basketball. And yet, their’s is a precarious agreement with fate. Their very existence is all a gamble, a tightrope walk. Thousands of jumpshots, rebounds and crossovers a season, not to mention practice, conditioning, playing with the kids, each an opportunity to cripple these giants of the game.

I mean, can you imagine, these guys as fragile?

I’ve said it before, you need to watch Hoop Dreams. Not only will it keep warm your fire for the hardwood, but it’s just a great fucking movie. It changed the way documentaries were made thereafter. I bring it up though because what could be harder than your employment relying on your physical ability? Probably that the only opportunity you’ll ever have at any social mobility relying on your body.

To preempt some of your certain criticism: Yes. It’s not fair. Big picture, it’s a social condition that needs to be addressed.

The fire fighter that jumps out of a helicopter with a 100lbs strapped to their back into a blazing wildfire is perhaps the perfect metaphor for those kids. They’re the elite of the elite, playing men, acting like men when they’re probably only still boys, carrying their families and communities on the shoulders into a situation that will almost certainly eat them alive.

One of the kids Hoop Dreams follows, William Gates, suffered from a debilitating knee injury just as he was turning on in high school and college scouts were starting to pay attention. In fact, he had gotten into private school on a basketball scholarship. He never made it. He got swallowed by the fire.

I was never that elite of an athlete at anything to merit that kind of attention or even fancy. We were poor but, my parents insisted on education as my way up the ladder. I guess in many ways I’ve been tremendously lucky. It almost seems like a crime to insist that I, too, had and hold onto my own Hoop Dreams.

xoxo

SH:

Fine Dujie,

Tom Brady went to private school in San Mateo. But any descent parents would send their kid to a school that good if they could, if only to buddy-up with the crowd. And I should hope that when hardworking parents succeed in supplying their children with this quality of upbringing they do not resent the child as you seemingly resent the adult for what he got. So what if he went to private school in San Mateo? Tommy Jr. didn’t have say in the matter. This is to judge the son by the sins of the father (which—tsk-tsk—is anti-enlightenment and un-American) and frankly a sin I think you would readily commit.

But say (as you do) that Brady’s rich and lazy, embezzling, glitterati parents managed to jostle him into the lowest tier of a public university’s football program. Let’s give him the debts and credits starting there. Remember when he got to Michigan he was a timorous figure in the long shadow of Brian Griese, was 7th on the depth chart and seeing a psychiatrist for anxiety. He had to claw for the starting job at Michigan and for his spot in the pros. As a football player, it doesn’t seem like he was given much of anything besides talent, a pure apprehension of failure and a work ethic to channel it. These characteristics, thank you for noticing also, do evoke shades of Jay Gatsby.

“The Child is the father of the Man” as Wordsworth put it, probably holds true for both figures. I imagine the newly invented penniless Jay Gatsby looked out at the copper-kahuna, Dan Cody from the shores of Lake Superior much the same way the young Tom Brady Jr. regarded Joe Montana from the aisles of Candlestick Park.

The difference of course is that Brady does not come from piss-pot North Dakota. He did get his Daisy: the far-flung, sylphlike wonder of femininity Gisele Bündchen, and hasn’t yet suffered tragic decline and demise by the careless lies of careless people. Not to get too far ahead of myself though, he does play for the NFL, and with Junior Sau in mind, he might shoot himself in the chest before it is all over.

As for Lupe, I wouldn’t want it thought that I set myself up (and what a set-up it would be) so I will be short: He has paranoid delusions about the government of the United States, which is pitiable in its way, but also annoying because of his swollen following of credulous discontents who will take a junk-theory over the facts in plain view, if only to distinguish themselves from the presumed naiveté of cow-eyed parents and classmates and I guess whoever else.

~ ~ ~

Long break here. Work sleep work sleep work.

~ ~ ~

At age ten, I was deposed of my spot—middle back row—on class-picture day because I wasn’t any longer the tallest kid in class. It hurt then like no bad grade ever had or could. I feel a pathetic now remembering it, but I was young, and regarding at least my height, I grew up. Priorities, anxieties and pressures all changed. Problems might have arose if they didn’t, and games are a good example because maintaining skill at them becomes increasingly less practical as time goes by.

I’m not like William Gates (is the irony of that name addressed in Hoop Dreams?), who might have turned fragile athleticism into a career (i.e. a person for whom the game is practical). That was made clear to me early on. Time to go? Okay then, won’t have to tell me twice. The problem is with people hanging around after they should have left like drink-spilling old men at college bars: It’s just not going to happen these people and they’re the only ones who can’t see it.

Gates is exactly the kind of cautionary, all-eggs-in-one-imploded-basket-tale that 17 year-olds are hard wired to ignore in lieu of stories of guys who made it. If you can dream and not make dreams your master… If only. Outliers is bunk by the way.

Speaking of practicality and dreams and the boy being the father of the man, the image of the adult offered by the NBA—by pro sports in general—is not in the least bit practical. It provides a select few, a pre-selected few even—because DNA transcription is really more important here than anything that might follow—a chance to be rich and eccentric and idolized while it strings everybody else along.  Right now there is a guy just down the way on a barstool lamenting his wretched heap of a life to some poor stranger all because, he says, coach wouldn’t put him in, or his knee went out, or Ms. Bitch English teacher failed him out of eligibility. You’ll notice that when you chance upon this tedious foe (you have, and you will again and again and again) he is reliably incapable of prompting your sympathy.

The owners of the NBA—here I invite you to pause and muse with me on the oatmeal colored folds and gathers of Donald Sterling’s collapsing face—are nothing if not shrewd capitalists. Having an underclass of snowflake-or-bust kids who are made to think their endeavors on the court, or the field are more likely to repay their efforts than what they do in the classroom is agreeable; friendly; face-sucking, hand-under-shirt, over-bra simpatico to the status quo. The status quo being, of course, that the kids are without skills or footing and people like Sterling (who has excess money in almost exact proportion to excess skin) go on selling them hoop dreams. Dreams which are, to borrow a phrase nothing but net.

As I realize there is a Macklemore song about this I fill with self-loathing.

Talk to me

Shea

DT:

You did a whole thing there where you grew up and became a cynical old curmudgeon in the span of your last five ‘graphs. Good for you!

I’m going to try and keep this under 3000 words because I turn into a pumpkin after that.

Very quickly on Tom Brady: I would send my kids to private school. I hope to. But let’s not amplify the narrative. His ascendancy is limited to football—which, frankly, isn’t a mountain he could climb without coming from an upper-class, white, privileged family. I take no offense to his unlikely (sports) myth. As a fan of sport, I cannot help but to admire it. I do take offense to calling it the American Dream, and him the main character of it. America is no longer just a sea of pretty white boys (bad news for you). The American Dream connotes there is no alternative. His life wasn’t on the line and neither was the socio-economic outcome of his children. With or without football, Tommy Jr. probably would have still been rich, and his kids would still have their trust funds.

191 words to go.

The Brady discussion seems the perfect digression for the irony of William Gates’ name.

You are unassailably right about how the NBA is structured and capitalism in general. It sucks to be a Plebian. It’d be way cooler to wear a toga and admire little boys. But it sucks much less to be a Pleb that has mastered—or at least gets the daily opportunity to master—a craft as endlessly surprising and infinite as basketball.

Gates is a cautionary tale. There are a dozen of him for every Jimmy Butler. But you can’t blame people for doing what they’re good at, and hoping to achieve the highest form of success doing it. Anyone who can commit to that, seems to me, is the true “protagonist of the American Dream.” Failure is part of the equation. Much less talked about (makes a less inspiring poster), but completely necessary.

I know you’ve probably got some cheeky rebuttal, but this email exchange is my thing, so you’re going to have to hold onto it until next time.

xoxo

The US B-squad: Nationalism v. Not Playing and Other Takeaways from this Weekend’s Friendly with Brazil

Basketball is back! Basketball is back! Basketball is back!

Well sort of.

This weekend’s matchup of Team USA v. Brazil marked the first international competition leading into this year’s FIBA World Cup.

20 years ago, the generation that produced the Dream Team understood the greatness of the US in the context of having achieved that greatness. Charles Barkley, David Robinson, MJ, Magic, Larry and the lot lived, at bare minimum, through the conclusion of the Cold War—Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf.

On the other hand, we 20somethings—including the 16 on the US Men’s Basketball roster—have spent our entire lives being the best goddamn country in the world. At least that’s what our leaders have told us for our entire recollection. Living in a country that uses that same line to score cheap political points as often as American politicians do, it’s no wonder that generation at large has acquiesced into a quiet, unexamined cynicism of anything that comes close to resembling nationalism.

I am sympathetic to this point of view, but I unequivocally reject it.

I was born in the Philippines and came to America by way of Jordan. I’m not saying my life was particularly harder than the next immigrant’s. It wasn’t. I was tremendously lucky in many ways. But as I begin the work of assembling, to the best of my abilities, the modern American Dream—providing a comfortable home, plenty of food and quality education for my kids and wife—I am struck by how many people take these things for granted, as if it were a birthright. They’re not. And it takes a uniquely special place to allow the “Dream” to become possible through the sheer force of will alone.

What does this mean against the backdrop of basketball?

Well it’s easy to fixate on the negatives, easier still if the negatives of the country you live in become the predominant narrative. Who wants to play for a country with an intractably divided government? Who wants to represent a country with hackneyed foreign policy that more resembles Settlers of Catan than responsible world leadership? Who wants to be the face of a country whose caricature of itself in the world community is goofy, glutinous and rude?

These aren’t at all the reasons so many NBA stars aren’t competing in this year’s FIBA World Cup. But that they are all true, make the decision that much easier. The disastrous injury of Paul George provides the perfect out. With loudmouths like Steven A. Smith in their corner, it’s almost a wonder that Rudy Gay even answered Jerry Colangelo’s call.

That said, I appreciate Gay not just because off his healthy dose of Nationalism, but because he understands at some level, for pure, selfish basketball reasons, this is how you get better: by competing with the best in the world against the best in the world.

Anthony Davis as the go to guy

With 20 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks in 26 minutes, Davis was clearly the go guy for Team USA. The blocks and alley-oops were to be expected. But the insistence—and more telling, the allowance—of the 15-foot jumpers that rimmed off early on speak volumes to where Davis lies in the totem pole of the team.

Early in the fourth quarter, Davis’ dive into the second row to save a ball sparked a 10-0 run. Three of the next few plays featured Davis blocking a shot only to retrieve the ball while falling out of bounds, finishing an alley-oop out of nowhere and a textbook 25-foot jumper that netted nothing but, well, net.

With all the talk of him being “next,” the heir apparent to Lebron James and Kevin Durant, it’s easy to forget Davis is only 21. Of course he’s faded in and out throughout his first two seasons in the NBA. He couldn’t even drink! But this weekend, he was bodying Tiago Splitter with little remorse. Asserting himself more fiercely than the boy-king has been given the opportunity to show. With Monty Williams on the US Basketball coaching staff, this only helps to make Davis less boy and more king.

The Great White Hopes

I know Coach K is of Duke. He loves white dudes, especially white dudes who think they can rap. But seriously, remaining on the US roster:

  • Kyle Korver
  • Gordan Hayward
  • Chandler Parsons
  • Mason Plumlee
  • Klay Thompson

Ok, so Thompson is half Bahamian, but he doesn’t try nearly as hard as his Splash Brother at being Black. Of greater concern: what are Gordon Hayward and Mason Plumlee still doing here? At one point the announcers mistook a lob for Parsons as one for Plumlee.

It was weird.

The Manimal Mannihilates

Keneths Faried’s development had been interesting to track all last season. As Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson and every other offensive asset for the Nuggets fell to injury, Faried turned his balls-out effort game into an unorthodox offensive game replete with funky jumpers, twisting hooks and the occasional, surprising guard-like spurt.

Early in the first quarter, Faried scraped the potential of what he could become though. With the ball 20 feet out near the elbow, Faried put the ball on the floor, splitting defenders. As he got close to the  basket, he drew Davis’ defender at which point Faried flips a nifty one handed, hook-ish pass to an open Davis for an easy bucket.

Then early in the third, on the other end of the floor, Faried knocks the ball loose on an entry pass and winds up with the steal. Instead of hanging back and letting an “All-Star” finish the play after his outlet pass, Faried runs the floor anyway—literally the only other team USA player in the picture.

11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists. Classic Manimal.

If Faried continues this play into the NBA season and “takes the next step,” the Nuggets could be fun to watch. More intriguingly, he can transform from the exemplar of hardwork into a titillating trade chip.

James Harden might be a selfish dude…

Which is a strange thing to admit considering that just three years ago, he was the best sixth man on the planet (I still love you Jamaal. Don’t ever leave me!)—a position that necessarily requires astute self-awareness, honest evaluation and a coming to terms with collective success outweighing personal glory.

This offseason, Harden’s seemed to turn his on-court game of give-me-the-ball-I’ll-mash-turbo-into-the-lane-and-I’ll-probably-get-fouled-and-get-mine-while-you-just-stand-out-there-wide-open-and-I’ll-pass-it-to-you-some-day-maybe-I-promise-I’ll-probably-think-about-it into the perfect metaphor for the way he lives his every day, non-basketball life. Even if Donatas Motiejunas was misquoted and Dwight Howard, D-Mo and Harden all rendezvoused nightly to McGangbang Double QPC’s like they were racing to a heart attack, the Chandler Parson’s saga does not instill confidence in Harden’s leadership ability (to be parenthetically fair, almost everything involving Chandler Parsons or Chandler Parsons’ hair is, to some varying degree, a saga. I mean have you seen his perfume commercials? Epic pretty man, pretty girl saga).

Upon Parsons signing with the Dallas Mavericks, Harden said:

Dwight (Howard) and I are the cornerstones of the Rockets. The rest of the guys are role players or pieces that complete our team. We’ve lost some pieces and added some pieces. I think we’ll be fine next season.

Harden’s defense remains that he wasn’t specifically talking about Chandler Parsons. Two things here:

1)      Even if you weren’t talking about Parsons, there are still 10-12 other dudes on your roster. If my Masters in NBA Management from the University of 2K has taught me anything, there are three other Starters and one Sixth Man in addition to the two to four Role Players and remaining Bench Warmers. The four dudes not in Role Player role do not like it when you downgrade them like that—especially in public. That demonstrates cloudy thinking at best and an egomaniacal philosophy of basketball at worst.

2)       Harden was clearly talking about Chandler Parsons!

Apparently, Harden and Parsons have squashed the beef. But even in the way he talked about the reconciliation, he can’t seem to remove himself:

No matter what, if the Rockets are playing good, Dwight and James get the praise. If we’re doing bad, Dwight and James gets the bulk of criticism.

I’m still waiting for Parsons to trip Harden or snip his beard or something as he finds a spot to sit.

Lastly (I could probably round up three or four more obscure supporting points, but because I’ve withered away too many neurons on this point already), when asked about Paul George’s tremendously unfortunate injury, Harden still couldn’t remove himself. The first words out of his mouth:

I gotta amp up my game. I’m not just a scorer, I’m a playmaker as well.

YOUR EXPERIENCE IS NOT THE DEFINING NARRATIVE, JAMES!!! That said, I’m probably still picking Harden in the first round once fantasy basketball season rolls around.

Have you heard yet? Derrick Rose is back.

Reading the reports on US Basketball PPGI (Pre-Paul George Injury), one would think Derrick Rose is the only player on the team. After watching a game, it makes sense.

With 4.6 seconds left in the first half, Coach K put Rose back in (after getting cut on the face). Rose said his instructions were to run the floor and get a good shot. Rose did. Like a flash of lightning, he drove right by an impending trap, leaving two Brazilians stunned in disbelief. Sprinting the full 94 feet, letting a floater bank off the glass, he masterfully executed with such contradictory force, I have to believe he could run for public office one day.

There was also the ridiculous cross over near the end of the third, where he went right to blow by his defender only to change hands in mid air, only kind off avoid a big, finishing with the left.

I can’t wait for new D. Rose .gifs…

Rose ended the game with only those two fieldgoals (7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 turnovers), but more impressive than the actual plays were the ferocity of his demeanor. He was the fastest, hardest dude on the floor the whole game. He had some missed floaters and even a missed dunk, but that he was convincingly there for those is a reassuring sight for sore, sore, Chicago eyes.

This game featured more words than I’d ever heard Rose speak at once—sans his MVP acceptance speech (but to be fair I started bawling as soon as he talked about his mama, so I really didn’t hear half of it). My immediate reaction: it seems like Rose is more comfortable being vocal. This is fantastic news for the Bulls who need an assertive Rose to reclaim MVP form.  Rose has always strictly been a “let my play speak for me” kind of player. He was in the right situation for that. No one ever criticized Rose for it because his play was exceptional. The combination of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer let him lead in deed and not in word. It’ll be fun to watch Rose become the guy again on and off the court.

70 days. Does my breath smell bated?

 

Everyone Needs A Hobby

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] S [/dropcap] eems appropriate at this point in time, in light of a few recent victories that could be readily classified as very un-Mariners insofar as said victories were not only emphatic but, in a way, expected, to address the elephant in the room: this Mariners’ season has coincided with the invention and subsequent growth of the blog you are reading today. Luckswing may be responsible for the Mariners’ successes.

What are the things required as a winning baseball team? Good players are certainly nice. Baseball is a good place for identifying good players because the numbers over large sample sizes tend to allow for some pretty well-thought predictions as to a players’ future successes  and failures. That being said, Chris Young sort of flies in the face of that. Chris Young sort of flies in the face of everything though. The term “Flies in the face of” is an unexamined idiom. Idioms are pretty much always unexamined which is why idiomatic language pretty much never translates well between languages. They just do not make sense divorced from the cultural context that birthed them. To shatter the generalization I just made, apparently this particular idiom’s origins involve some rural-ass scenario where a hen flies in the face of whatever predator, probably some canine like the dogs we keep as pets or the foxes we wish we could keep as pets, attacks her. So basically Chris Young is waging an assault against conventional metrics and expectations fueled by sheer farm-animal-desperation and he, like the rest of this improbable team, is succeeding.

Now that we have introduced improbability and desperation into the scenario, let us subsequently introduce the creation of this blog and by doing so really obviously connote (the words obvious and connote are also indirectly competing words but fuck you) that there was a certain degree of desperation in this blog’s creation—the quiet sort of desperation that manifests itself in really boring symptoms from probably more boring causes.

Luckswing was created, in a way, out of desperation. It shouldn’t take any reader a very long time to realize that this blog is more of a hobby than a job. Jobs pay you money and are almost by definition boring. If you think your job is exciting, there is a fairly decent chance that you are a habitual abuser of anti-depressants and are rapidly accelerating towards a hell of a wake-up call or you simply haven’t worked at your job for a very long time.

Hunter S. Thompson has a quote for this scenario that I have liked for some time: “Old whores don’t giggle.” Seems simple enough given a brief, cursory look. Great job on that first glance because it is every bit as simple as it seems initially or “out of the gate,” (to further estrange this from whatever subaltern other we feel like alienating today by using more idiomatic language).

Fuck it though. Let’s dig into the aforementioned simple-ass quotation just for funsies. Sex is fun and that is probably the jump-off point Hunter is trying to construct to then jump to the second axiom “jobs are boring” and see where he gets from there. Sex is fun because the chemical response to orgasm is literally a volcanic eruption of fun-chemicals attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin as well as endogenous morphine. But that is not all that there is. Obviously this is not the case. There is a different part of people who enjoy sex because it intrinsically validates a perception that is browbeaten into young people in American society and likely several other societies as well: the idea that the subject, male or female, can attain objects of their sexual desire and in doing so simultaneously validate their own need to be desired as well. It is the exultation in possessing and being possessed. Feelings of attachment post-sex make sense because the act correlates so strongly with notions of objectification that it will usually take real, mental work to adopt the kind of loosey-goosey collegiate attitude towards sex that most people can only get or at least pretend to get once they have done it enough. But even then, this work can often only be internally justified if the sexual subject is themselves confident of their own ability to possess multiple objects and thereby require less of an attachment to just the one, in which case they are more a collector than anything and they still covet the sexual object of possession but in their case what they covet is less of a single entity and more of a state of mind whose passivity is only supported by the ability to switch into successful attainment of a unique object at any given point in time. Basically this is like the Spotify of people fucking each other and similar to Spotify once your wifi connection ends up sucking i.e. you get fat or old and can no longer possess the multifarious objects of attainment at will any longer and are forced to either A) settle down, a term that explicitly includes the uncomfortably connoted “settle” or B) die cold and alone with your better years behind you and the distinct feeling that you may have wasted whatever energy you had on something that ended up being about as frivolous as a heroin addiction except perhaps even more expensive if you managed to knock/get knocked up along the way.

Neither of these seem like good options, which is why people will struggle with notions of “want” wherein they claim to want somebody to see past their own ability to be objectified and bitch and moan and wail about how nobody perceives the real them when in reality the only “real” thing under the surface essentially is anxiety regarding the desirability of the surface. Sucks to suck, as they say.

Ignoring all of that, let’s just accept the supposition that yeah, sex is fun. If that is the case then sex as a job is inviting tedium into what should be qualified as an escape from tedium. That is essentially Hunter’s point then when he says that “Old whores don’t giggle.” Any activity when pursued for and subsequently equated to financial benefit for too long shifts from having its end as something pleasant to having its end as something we deem necessary. It becomes an act of survival and the performance of that act repetitively until elevated to the rank of “profession” becomes just a faculty or aptitude, an adaptation for capitalist survival.

Fun things become un-fun very quickly when you are forced to participate in these activities against your will for extended periods of time for fiscal compensation that is in no way related to the object, subject or product of your labor but is instead a function of whether or not you are doing whatever it is you told somebody you were going to be doing for money. Somebody thinks that what you are doing for work is worthwhile. They have to. “Worth” is even in the fucking word and worth in this context is referring to money. To then retranslate the sentence above: Someone is giving you money to do something that they think is worth money. If they are paying you to do something that they did not think was worth money, then they are either extremely generous people or clinically insane and these two possibilities are not mutually exclusive in the least.

Operating within the worth-as-fiscal-compensation paradigm it is pretty easy to see that this site, what I am doing presently, is “worthless.” Writing doesn’t intrinsically benefit anyone if your notion of benefit is restricted to those things that allow you to, as they say, “put food on the table” or “pay the bills” or whatever else. Earning money for doing something has become the human equivalent of being say, a hunter or a gatherer, except that in this case there are actually just a few entities providing the necessary elements to living such as food and shelter while the rest of us basically just wallow in our own compensatory filth. Homeless or unemployed people in this setting become sort of the equivalent of a lion with a broken leg or a really lazy vulture and basically have no place in the edifice we have constructed over time beginning with whatever fuck thought capitalism as a system was a good idea when really it was just a way to create a society that flits from distraction to distraction and constructs flimsy, lazy narratives to ascribe meaning to what is essentially a living breathing game of flappy-bird untowards death with the worst part about that ride being the fact that we evolved to realize how pointless it is and in so evolving now strive to counter that helpless feeling by assembling a meaning as to “why” we have this awareness when really all we want is a compelling reason to stick our fingers in our ears going ”LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA.”

So yeah, blogging is worthless. It compounds its worthlessness by virtue of it being but one of many blogs amidst an absolute sea of un-edited unrestricted buttfuckery that plagues every deep corner of the internet—millions of people advocating their right to be heard without realizing that the cacophony of the group and the singular lack of specialness inherent to each individual entity makes their voice but one dissonant tone amidst a garbled scream that sounds like a stadium filled with teenage girls all enacting some sort of reverse-peristaltic apocalypse. Word vomit. It’s like Mean Girls, basically.

So yeah. This site was created as one of those voices amidst the cacophony-orchestra (the cacophestra?) as a means to exert some sense of voice or will or something that is pointless. If the rantings and ravings of this post haven’t made it abundantly clear how I feel on the matter there is this tidbit: participating in activities for one’s own survival are necessary but necessity is not enjoyable and necessity does not satisfy the “want” to feel as though the ever-elusive and ever-self-deluding “I” has a voice separate from its efficacy within a system of buying and selling.

The worst way to conceive of this voice is the whole “My voice matters, I am going to change the world, blah blah blah.” These are the words of deluded millionaires and their children-turned-sofa-activists who probably aren’t even 100% sure what their definition would be of “the world” and certainly do not seem conscious of the fact that the pedestal for ignored reform and change is itself a luxury inherited by being born to the royalty of the system they pretend to hate. Seems kind of shitty that “change the world” has become a cliché, but it has. The whole notion of changing the world has become one wherein it is less important that this nebulous “world” has changed but rather that the person wants it to be themselves who have changed it and thereby validate their status as a precious little snowflake for which there is none other so special and unique and just lovely.

So instead: Sports! Why not? Has there ever been anything as meaningless as opining as to the outcomes of events structured within arbitrary rule-sets for which people are paid millions of dollars to skip their formative educations and hit round things with sticks? There probably has! But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t some pretty meaningless shit we are hitting on here. This is the point. If you ever find yourself taking things too seriously or losing grasp on the meaningless expressions within life’s little hell-ride towards extinction than you do so at your own loss. You lose the joy of, “wow that orgasm sure was nice” and creep ever closer to Hunter Thompson’s hypothetical whore being dully pounded into oblivion without so much as batting an eyelid and all of those little giggles become yawns and you have turned pointless hobby into vocation into job into total bore.

So now we can make claims like, “The Mariners’ successes coincide with Luckswing being created. We are responsible for their success.” Why not? I invite all readers to come bury their heads in the sand with us. Everyone needs a hobby, right?

Mariners Drop 4 of 6 Against Twins, Rays

 

The Mariners just dropped 2 of 3 games to the Tampa Bay Rays and subsequently, the Minnesota Twins. If you had told me this statement prior to the season’s beginning, I would have been completely unsurprised. I would not have known, however, that the Mariners team in question was a winning team heading into the series. I would also not have known that the Rays were about 10 games south of .500 having no Matt Moore for the entire season and a version of David Price with a barely sub-5.00 ERA.

In the context of the 2014 season, Mariners-Rays was actually a series the Mariners stood a fair chance of winning. The Twins’ series seemed to be winnable as well. Obviously that did not happen. So what glaring deficiency did the Mariners’ most recent disappointment reveal?

The Mariners can’t hit good pitching. Except when they do. Sometimes. But rarely. 

Last Monday against the Rays, the Mariners looked like the kind of team that could compete for a playoff spot. They spotted Felix Hernandez 9 runs early and looked to be basically incapable of getting out. They were hitting balls off the top of the fence every other at bat, and they were also benefiting from some very Mariners-like fielding by the opposition.

Then Tuesday happened. David Price went the complete game against the Mariners, allowing 6 hits to Ackley, Cano, Jones and Zunino, while completely wiping out the rest of the Mariners increasingly disappointing lineup. Despite the Mariners complete inability to get anything going against Price, they actually took a 1 run lead into the 9th inning. Hisashi Iwakuma continued to show that he is an ace pitching in Felix’ shadow by completely dominating the Rays through 8 innings.

Then Fernando Rodney happened. Most people will look to saddle the complete blame for that loss on Rodney. That is totally fair. Rodney does not appear to be a reliever worth paying 14 million dollars. That being said, the Mariners were only able to score one run all game against a starting pitcher who has been struggling. A very good starting pitcher who has been struggling, but nonetheless, you’re playing with fire when you can’t score more than a single run in a game. Many would argue that McClendon should have sent Iwakuma back out in the 9th. But Iwakuma has only been back pitching in the majors for 3 games and he had thrown 97 pitches. That, in conjunction with the fact that Iwakuma has been a bit fragile in the past make Lloyd’s decision a reasonable one. Game ready to be closed, put in the closer. I don’t chalk this loss up solely to Rodney’s meltdown.

Rodney has been really good at times this year. Rodney was even good during the first 2 outs of that inning. But Rodney is a volatile guy who doesn’t always know where the ball is going. That’s who the Mariners paid for. Rodney is hit or miss. On Tuesday, he missed.

But the fact remains the Mariners couldn’t touch Price. A lot has been said of the Mariners having issues against lefty starters but they have actually fared better against lefties on the year then they have against righties.

The Mariners issues do not boil down to unfavorable platoon matchups. The Mariners issues are more holistic and all-consuming than that. Think asteroid headed towards earth, rather than something more localized like a violent, volcanic eruption.

The Mariners have only 4 guys with a wRC+ over 100. Robinson Cano is not even one of those people. Of those 4, only Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino and Dustin Ackley have had enough ABs for this to even be meaningful. The top guy on the list is that James Jones fellow and, while I would like to believe his incredibly hot start is sustainable- it almost certainly isn’t.

It is very hard as a Mariners’ fan to get excited over prospects. It is harder still to get excited over hitting prospects. It is basically impossible to get excited about outfield prospects. The best outfield prospect the Mariners have had in recent memory was stabbed to death in the Netherlands. Clearly shit just doesn’t seem to work out very well. That being said, I love Jones’ approach at the plate and would love nothing more than to see him see sustained success in the majors. Plus, the guy actually plays good defense in Centerfield. This is rare. Rare and cool.

None of this changes the fact that the Mariners are getting nothing out of Brad Miller, Justin Smoak, Stefen Romero, etc. Remember Michael Saunders’ glorious rebirth from the ashes of condor-incineration? Yeah, that turned out to be bullshit like everything else condor has ever done. That being said, one losing series isn’t the end of the world- though the manner of these losses has seemed a bit too familiar

But let’s not get carried away.

Similar to a herpes outbreak, things are never as good as they seem when the going’s good, and things are never as bad as they seem when the going’s bad. It is probably best to take this most recent disappointment with a grain of salt, the good kind of salt. After all, a series with the Rangers begins tonight! Kyle Seager party! Their pitching has been mediocre! THE BATS COME ALIVE.

Iwakuma takes the mound tonight against our old friend Colby Lewis. Lewis is sporting a barely sub-5 ERA. Iwakuma, by contrast, is well below 2.00 and has looked dominant in all but his first start where he still had a bit of a noodle arm a la Peyton Manning.

In the words of Mr. McClendon Himself: “He’s [Iwakuma] better than I thought. I knew sitting in the other dugout that he was good. He’s better than good.”

Let’s get back over .500 boys. Go Mariners.

 

#BREAKING: MARSHALL HENDERSON LOCKS GIRLFRIEND IN BASEMENT FOR FRIEND’S GENDER STUDIES THESIS

According to an anonymous source, Marshall Henderson has locked up his most recent girlfriend, Anita Source, in his basement as part of an experiment conducted on behalf of his dear friend, a Gender Studies major at Ole Miss.

 “Joke’s on you guys!” Henderson responded in a tweet following an outcry over his initially controversial image of his girlfriend chained to what appeared to be a sybian in the basement of his college home.

 “How else was my friend supposed to accurately assess the power dynamics between a male athlete and his bae? She had plenty of food and water, all of you guys are just proving how ignorant the world can be.”

 Henderson reportedly showed a keen interest in Gender Studies as a freshman at Ole Miss, but ultimately relinquished that dream to become a communications and sports management double major.

 “It was really hard to squeeze in all of the credits I would have needed to be a true Gender Studies major but I already had a rope and a few sets of manacles in my house so when my friend came to me with the opportunity, I couldn’t say no.”

#BREAKING: MARSHALL HENDERSON MELTS POLAR ICECAPS FOR FRIEND’S ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE THESIS

Marshall Henderson has reportedly melted the polar icecaps for his friend’s Environmental-Science thesis.

Initial response to Henderson’s tweet was tepid. The image merely showed Henderson on a small dinghy ranging far from a fishing ship that was reported missing several years ago off the coast of Alaska. In his hand: a single hair dryer.

“Joke’s on you guys!” Marshall tweeted, “I’ve been up here melting the polar icecaps with this hair dryer for years”

Henderson has reportedly been absent from class for his entire 8 year stint as a Communications Major/Basketball player/Activist at Ole Miss. During this time, he was taking lengthy trips on a reportedly stolen craft, “melting” the polar icecaps with a hand-held hair dryer powered by double-A batteries.

Dennis Quaid and others have called for Henderson’s immediate expulsion- but Henderson claims it is all for a good cause.

“My friend loves the environment, he talks about global warming all the time. I have started to believe it too. My friend says Global Warming is like Santa Claus, just because you can’t see him, doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist!” Henderson stated from the back of his friend’s F-150.

“This is a wake-up call to everybody who doesn’t believe in global climate change. This is not some blameless event brought on by natural conditions. WE are the responsible parties. So you see, when I went and melted the icecaps, I was just doing the same thing you do EVERY DAY when you burn fossil fuels. It is a metaphor or something.”

Henderson later gave the fishing boat back, with 4 kilograms of cocaine left in the captain’s cabin as an apology for borrowing it for so long.

 

#BREAKING: MARSHALL HENDERSON LEARNS TO READ FOR FRIEND’S SENIOR ENGLISH THESIS

According to an anonymous source, Marshall Henderson has reportedly learned to read for his friend’s senior English thesis.

It was released by a source close to Henderson that all of his recent tweets were actually an experiment by his friend, an English Major at Ole Miss, who thought that responding to conversational English via twitter was the best way for Henderson to pick up the language quickly.

“He was struggling through some of the Dr. Seuss I had given him to work on. I realized then that books were actually an impractical way for Marshall and others like him to learn written English. Dude started rhyming all the time. Eventually I just said, fuck it, and tweeted some homophobic shit I knew he would like as a means to get some external help.”

Henderson is reportedly reading at well-above a 3rd grade competency, though he admittedly still struggles with certain letter combinations including “ph” and “th”.

He also thinks “#” is a letter located somewhere around “L”, “M”, “N”, or “O” in the alphabet since he pretty much sings those letters as “ellemenno” when he practices the alphabet song anyway.

#BREAKING: DONALD STERLING PLANS TO PURCHASE AND RENAME “SAN ANTONIO SLURS”

According to an anonymous source, Donald “At least I don’t have AIDS (Read: HIV)” Sterling is in line to purchase the San Antonio Spurs.

“Having spent the past several years in Los Angeles, I think it is time I go help minorities in other states. My benevolence towards colored-folk transcends geopolitical boundaries. Did I mention how much I love helping minorities? Because I do. Love it, that is. Yep”

Sterling went on to say that he “totally doesn’t have AIDS” (not that there’s a problem with that) and that he is totally on board for whatever weird maybe-gay stuff that Magic Johnson may or may not have been in to except when he isn’t.

Sterling showed his sincerity when questioned by apologizing between most sentences in his charming, racist Grandpa sort of way. What a card!

He concluded graciously, hinting at a future name change for the franchise: “I could not be more excited to coach the San Antonio Slurs.”

#BREAKING: JUSTIN SMOAK TRYING OUT FOR TEAM THIGH-GAP

According to an anonymous source: Justin Smoak, in an effort to participate in a new movement sweeping the nation (rhymes with clanorexia) took time off from his baseball career to join team thigh-gap.

“I just want to be a thinspiration” said Smoak between mouthfuls of brown construction paper labelled ‘Quinoa’ in periwinkle crayon.

“Kids these days grow up idolizing athletes, so I figured I may as well try to appear athletic.” 

Smoak has been seen attending agility drills with fellow Seattle Mariner infielder Kyle Seager, with whom he shares a special bond. The two have reportedly been superglueing sandpaper to the inside of their thighs before running sprints as motivation.

“I figure, as a role model, it is my responsibility to set a good example for these kids” Smoak stated, voice raised over the dull whine of shredding plastic as he shoved a log of Grizz-Mint chewing tobacco into a juicer.

“It’s either that or stop dipping, and there’s no fucking way that’s gonna happen.”

Justin was later seen sobbing into a bowl of kale beneath a poster reading simply: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”