The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “The world of Sport is weird, the world itself is weird, you’re weird, I’m weird….and that’s entertainment!” By Brad Eastland

May 7, 2012
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     I hardly know where to start.

     It’s just that 2012 is shaping up to be such a weird year in Sports and such a weird year in general, that we can’t help but be both piqued and entertained by it, and maybe if we write it down and read it we can learn about sports from the world and about the world from sports and maybe even learn a little bit about ourselves along the way.   I mean I know that I’m not exempt.   I’m proud of it.   I’m weird.   And you probably are too.

     Let’s start with golf, so that we can get the obligatory Tiger Woods factoid out of the way.   Tiger missed the cut at Quail Hollow last week.   That might not sound like much, but when you consider he’s missed only eight cuts in 15 years, and once played 142 consecutive tournaments without failing to get paid (the current longest streak is only 49, by comparison), it definitely falls under the “weird” column.   Perhaps he’s still bummed out about stinking things up at the Masters last month.   Perhaps he’s still bummed out about….well, everything lately.   Perhaps he’s just a bum.

King Albert's crown has been tarnished.

King Albert's crown has been tarnished.

     Now back to the real world.   Did you see where a mother and her son were killed last week on the exact same day in separate, unrelated car accidents?   Now that’s beyond weird.   Not so weird was that drinking was involved.   And never so worrisome for me than now.   My 15-year-old son starts driver’s ‘ed’ this month.   It’s a sobering time for any parent.   When you think about it, it’s amazing that we entrust the operation of two-ton moving missiles of metal to our teenage kids.   Thank God my Rob is pretty levelheaded, as kids go.   And he already knows that there will be a ruthless meting out of stiff and severe penalties for driving drunk, driving drugged, or driving too fast.   I already had a brother die on the highway, and all of those things were involved.   Once is enough.

     Back to sports.   NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell brought the hammer down on the New Orleans Saints again last week.   You might recall that last month he suspended the Saints’ GM, Head Coach, and Defensive Coordinator for eight games, one year, and indefinitely, respectively, for orchestrating and then covering up a system of offering members of the Saints’ defensive unit actual cash “bounties” for hurting rival players.   Well, last week Roger suspended a few Saints players as well, including linebacker Jonathan Vilma for a full year.   Without pay.   Now a lot of people—fellow players, fans, bleeding heart reporters, etc.—have recently declared aloud that Goodell has crossed the line.   That he’s “messing with peoples’ livelihoods”.   That he’s gone too far, and that his actions are approaching the level of a witch-hunt.

     Baloney.    (I was gonna say something stronger of course, but there are kids out there…)     

     Seriously, what could be worse than trying to injure players on purpose just to win a game?   Football is dangerous enough.   Sure, I love it.   God help me, I do love it so.   But at the same time I do realize that it’s a stupid, stupid game.   People banging their heads together on every play? ~ I mean come on.   Retired linebacker Junior Seau shot himself in the chest the other day.   He was 43.   He’s the second prominent player (retired Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson being the other) to recently shoot himself in the chest rather than the head, so that doctors could study their brains, post-mortem, to research the concussion damage that made them want to die young.   That’s how bad (and creepy) things have gotten.

     And so now we have Jonathan Vilma, who, it has been confirmed, offered his teammates a $10,000 bounty back in 2010 to knock out Kurt Warner in a playoff game, and then offered the same amount for removing Brett Favre from the field the following week.   Vilma’s penalty was too lenient, if you ask me.   He should be ordered to work for free in a paralysis clinic at a local hospital, for one year, emptying bedpans….let the punishment fit the crime.

     Anyway, bravo Roger Goodell, for bringing down the hammer.   You’re a good commissioner.   No surprise that the word “good” is built right into your last name.

     Back to real-life weirdness again.   You know what I think is weird?   Facebook is weird.   And it brings out the innate weirdness in people.   Here’s what I mean.   I occasionally post my columns to Facebook, just to share my work and get the word out, promulgate my various messages and philosophies to the 200 or so people closest to me, try to provide a little insight into Human Condition etc.   Now I’m not complaining, but let me just say (for whatever it’s worth) I put everything I have into these columns, I squeeze the creative lemon dry every week, and I get maybe, oh, two or three responses per column via Facebook, tops.   Yet recently, by way of comparison, my sister posted an anecdote on Facebook where she went to meet a friend for dinner and when they arrived at the restaurant she observed that they were both wearing the same shirt.   Y’see, they each had the same shirt on.   Uh-huh.   Same shirt.   At last count, which is to say so far, that world-shaking anecdote has generated 42 “likes” and 26 written responses.   You think Facebook is retarding the already-warped sense of proportion our priorities have to what’s important?   Any wonder that people listen to Howard Stern or that Sarah Palin got elected governor of a whole state?   Any wonder that both Nixon and “W” were elected president twice?  

     Their shirts were the same.   68 hits.   Stop the presses.   If that’s not weird, I don’t know what is….   

     And speaking of weird, what can be weirder than the world of online dating?   I confess I’ve been doing a bit of that lately.   Actually it’s not too bad a way to meet women, on balance.   And sitting in front of a computer beats sitting on a bar stool.   But you do run into some extremely bizarre situations, which, not surprisingly, I have been dying to tell y’all about.   How can I put this….well, let’s just say that not everyone puts their best foot forward during a first date.      

     Here are some examples you might enjoy: One gal began our date by telling me she had a highly contagious venereal disease which I had never even heard of.   After I shook free the cobwebs and cleared my throat and gulped a steadying draft of ale I politely thanked her, of course, being the gentleman I am, and in fact I was grateful….and when I went home and googled it up and learned all about its horrors, I was even more grateful.   Another gal had a German accent, just like my former mother in law’s, and I have to say that sounding like one’s former mother-in-law is an automatic deal-breaker in the romance department.   But she was charming (at first), and curvy, and after a drink or three I had almost convinced myself I could get past the Teutonic déjà vu accent thing….until she described for me, in detail, her two grisly, painful operations to correct a prolapsed uterus.   Do you know what a prolapsed uterus is???   If not, believe me, you don’t wanna know.   And lastly, there was one woman who was only about five-feet tall to my six-four (her profile said five-four, so yes, she fibbed a bit), and I was even more stunned when I greeted her and observed that her lips were so severely cracked and chapped that it reminded me of an old western rerun on TV, like when Ben Cartwright or Lucas McCain is trying to make his way across the desert with no water in his canteen.   I mean that sort of thing really puts a damper on a date, ‘know what I mean?   The good news is that during the date I was able to secretly play this one entire adventure of “The Rifleman” in my head, the one where Lucas and his chapped lips can’t make it across the desert so he collapses against a rock and writes a note urging Micah to “raise the boy right” in reference to his son Mark, but then of course Lucas gets rescued at the last minute and they give him some water for those chapped and cracked lips and the music swells and they all live happily ever after.   The point is that you don’t want to date women whose lips remind you of a dehydrated Chuck Connors or a waterless Lorne Greene.

     So what’s the moral of me telling you these treacherous romantic anecdotes?   Well, it’s like that sergeant used to say at the beginning of every adventure of “Hill Street Blues”, remember?   The big cop used to say to his troops, “Let’s be careful out there….”

     And now back, finally, to Sports weirdness, one last time, and to the weirdest thing that has happened in Sports in recent memory.   The curious case of Albert Pujols.

     Do you know who Albert Pujols is?   Maybe you do not.   I once wrote a column, a couple years back, revealing that many of you indeed do not.   Here it is:

     So just in case you don’t know, Albert Pujols is a baseball player.   And for the last half dozen years he has been the best baseball player on the planet.   He has hit more home runs than any player in history during his first 11 seasons; 445 home runs to be exact.   He has a ridiculously high .327 lifetime batting average.   He has won three Most Valuable Player awards.   And in recognition of all of this, our own Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tendered him one of the fattest contracts in sports history a few months ago, a whopping $240,000,000 to be paid out over the next ten years.

     Well, I guess the guy is human.   Because for the first five weeks of the 2012 baseball season, Albert Pujols has been, arguably, the worst player in all of major league baseball.

     How can this be?, you might be silently asking the Sports Philosopher right now.   Well, the short answer is I don’t know.   I do know why he has been doing poorly, that’s easy; the weight of all those expectations in his first season with the new team which is paying him close to $25 million a year.   But as to why he has been so bad, has been baseball’s worst player, that’s a mathematical mystery.   But here are the numbers.   First of all, Albert just hit his first home run for his new team.   On Sunday.   He had to come to bat 111 times this year before he was able to hit the ball over the wall.   By far his longest homer drought as a major leaguer.   Astounding.   By comparison, our own Matt Kemp already has twelve homers.   Pujols has only seven runs batted in all year.   Kemp, conversely, has twenty-seven.   Some of the worst players in the game already have at least nine or ten RBIs, while the great King Albert has struggled to knock in seven men!   And worst of all, Pujols, as mentioned a .327 lifetime batsman and one of the greatest hitters who ever hacked wood against flying horsehide, is, as I type this, hitting an anorexic .198!!!   As in ONE, NINE, EIGHT.   “El Hombre”, as they used to reverently refer to him, is obviously freaking out.   He has banged out a grand total of 3 hits in his last 30 at-bats.   So on Saturday his manager, Mike Scioscia, gave him the day off.   Baseball is the only job I know of where if you do your job really, really badly, they give you a day off with pay….

     Anyway, Albert Pujols has one home run in five weeks and is hitting .198 for the season.   That’s weird, people.

     In conclusion, a weird item about yours truly.   I have decided, in a bold stroke of anal-retentive behavior, to take my son on our annual summer vacation to a magical place known as….North Dakota?   Yes, you heard me right.   North Dakota.   I may be the only human being in the history of the world who elected to revolve an entire vacation around seeing North Dakota.   Why?   Why journey to the most definitively “nothing” state in the union?   Why go there of one’s own free will?   Well, during my life I have been fortunate to do a lot of traveling, here and abroad, and within these united states I have managed to get to 48 out of the 50.   And one of the two states I have not been to, not surprisingly, is North Dakota.   So I’m going.  

     There are apparently only two things to do in North Dakota.   Or at least in Fargo, North Dakota, which is where we are headed.   Two things.   One, go to the Roger Maris Museum and, two, go visit the actual wood chipper that Peter Stormare stuffed Steve Buscemi into in the Cohen brothers’ classic dark comedy “Fargo”.   Personally I can’t wait to see the Maris museum.   Maris is a truly iconic American sports hero, a New York Yankee legend, and is obviously Fargo’s favorite son.   However, perhaps testimony to one of my failed objectives as a father, Rob seems to be looking far more forward to seeing the bloody wood chipper than seeing nostalgia-inducing relics of ol’ Yankee #9’s fabled diamond exploits.   He prefers movie minutiae to baseball lore.   To each his own, I guess.

     Y’see, Rob is a little weird too.   (but he’s mine)

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image003

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered literary savant, and a worshipper of weirdness wherever it can be found.   Brad’s other recent columns for La Verne Online can be found in the Sports Section under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.   His columns on very old and very underappreciated movies can be found by clicking Arts & Entertainment, then clicking ’Upon Further Review’.   Brad has also written 4 fine novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, of triumph, and of utter despair, entitled WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for that title on,, or   And then order it.   And then READ it.   And then tell everyone about it.   And then read it again.   He thanks you.     





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