Sports and Social Media: The Shotgun Wedding Where We’re All the Father of the Bride

In an effort to lessen some of the tightness in my chest related to my Niners heading to New Orleans this week (not that the Saints are a particularly intimidating team right now, but, Jesus, Kaepernick is almost definitely going to get

C'mon, Mark, don't make me look like a dingus on this one.

C’mon, Mark, don’t make me look like a dingus on this one.

a bunch of delay-of-game penalties in that loud-ass building and those just push me towards a heart attack five yards at a time), I’ve turned my thoughts to Philadelphia where QB2 Mark Sanchez is about to start for the Eagles while Nick Foles’ collarbone remains stubbornly mangled (get well soon, Nick, you’re great!). Judging by my informal polling of Chili’s employees, all but, like, two of us think he’s going to choke. Why? Because of that butt fumble. And yeah, that was so, so shitty. And it happened so conspicuously (Christ, wasn’t that Thanksgiving?). But worst of all, we saw it dozens, if not hundreds of times. If that had happened ten or fifteen years ago, it would be long forgotten, and we might be talking about how Sanchez could flourish in Chip Kelly’s offense, where he might be allowed to throw the ball once in a while (and even if he isn’t, Sproles and McCoy are healthy, right?). If you play enough football, or do enough of anything, you are bound, sooner or later, to commit some sort of egregious blooper reel-type blunder. Unfortunately we live in an age where all that fuck uppery is captured by so many super high def cameras and we have whole channels dedicated just to playing those clips around the clock.

And it’s not just fuck uppery, it’s the great stuff too. And who can blame them? We all want to see iconic, crazy, tricksy, bullshit over and over again. That’s why we’re holding the shotgun in this bananas wedding where Social Media knocked up our beautiful daughter, Sports, and we’re demanding they…get married? I’m realizing now that this metaphor sounds psychotic, but I’m in pretty deep with it so I’m going to let it ride. But like all weddings where someone is holding a shotgun, I think this is a bad situation. I think it’s starting to change the game.

Which game? All of them. Well, maybe not hockey, yet, but it could be only a matter of time before the great frozen North falls in this wonky line. This first came to my attention last Spring when I watched LeBron James forgo an easy (for him) last second layup that would have tied the game and given the Heat a chance to win it in overtime, and he instead opted to flick the ball (behind his back if memory serves) out to Chris Bosh in the corner in an attempt to win outright with what would have been a super remarkable 3 pointer. I know how easy it is to sit on a couch (or in my case, lean against the sticky outer edge of a Chili’s bar) and talk about what stupid decisions athletes are making in the heat of play, and I’m not trying to do that, because I am genuinely impressed by and grateful for athletes and all the bonkers shit of which they are capable. That loss didn’t even end up mattering in the long run, obviously, the Pacers did not win the Eastern Conference Finals as a result of this play. What struck me about it, though, was that if the Heat had won it with that crazy behind the back assisted 3 pointer, we would have been seeing that clip at least twice an hour for a year, or at least until the next three second long high-octane ballet came along to usurp our Twitter feeds and SportsCenters. When did overtime become not thrilling enough for us?

I had the same thought this past Sunday when my beloved 49ers lost to the Rams after making the truly baffling decision to trust the very end of a pretty great 87 yard drive to an incredibly risky quarterback sneak that, sort of unsurprisingly, didn’t end well. Maybe it would have worked if it had been 3rd & goal an inch from the end zone, but it was the 1 yard line, and one yard is actually a pretty long way to try to secretly carry a football when all three of the feet in question are occupied by a wall of heaving flesh. Hey maybe they figured, worst case scenario, we move the ball forward an inch, or even lose a couple of yards, and either way it won’t matter to the sublimely reliable foot of Phil Dawson who will tie this bastard right up with a nice short field goal and send us to overtime (not that we have the best record against the Rams in OT, ugh, remember that tie? Dark Days.). But, lord, think how good the clip will be if media darling and former #1 jersey seller (now #3) Colin Kaepernick scores a rushing touchdown in the final 10 seconds of this fairly important conference game. But he fumbled and in gambling for glamour we let the W slip through our fingers. Or rather, pop out of them under a pile of giant dudes. Another thing that maybe would have worked is giving the ball to FRANK GORE, whose magic legs routinely piston through walls of heaving flesh and whose hands have yet to fumble a football this year (not that he’s been given nearly enough of a chance this season, but that’s 1200 words for another day). Kaepernick’s basically a walking hashtag, though, so by all means let’s get some clipssssss.

Flash back a week and some change to Game 7 of the World Series, where after two days rest following a complete game shut out, Madison Bumgarner is brought in as a reliever. Let me clarify that I love Madison Bumgarner, andbumgarner-game7 have loved him since I saw him get a base hit in 2012 while wearing a jacket over his jersey (he stepped up to the plate like ‘Hey man, I’m the pitcher, I just want to sit in the dugout in my nice jacket and take it easy for half an inning. PSYCH! BASE HIT.’ Great National League shenanigans.). My first thought when I saw him warming up in the bullpen were ‘Yahtzee!’ and ‘We’re Saved!’ and it wasn’t until my sister called bullshit on the move that I started realizing how crazy it was to put him out there. He had just pitched 9 innings two days ago. Are the amazing and delightful pictures of him and Buster Posey after the final out worth it if he has to get Tommy John Surgery before he’s 28? I mean, I get it, it’s Game 7, anything goes, there is no tomorrow, et cetera, but yikes. Maybe I’m overreacting, he does have until Spring to rest that arm. But it still rubs me in a weird way, like petting a cat backwards. Until he took the mound in Game 7, the series had been a very evenly stacked tug-o-war with neither side boasting a truly iconic, all-time-great-sports-moment type move, so this was the move. Without it what possibly could have been exciting about two teams competing for the title of World Champions, one of whom hasn’t had the chance in almost 30 years and the other of whom has had 3 chances in the last 5 years? Ugh, total snoozefest. Haven’t you heard? Baseball is boring, sports are lame, and you can’t even tell when muffins are vegan.

I’m not trying to say that I don’t want athletes to take risks. No guts, no glory. But also, too much guts, no glory. I guess what I’d like to see is a good balance of gutsiness and good sense where nobody gets too badly hurt. I realize that that sounds incredibly chumpy but I don’t care! If I have to see the Niners sacrifice one more game to the pagan idol of flashy quarterback nonsense I am just going to lose it.

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