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August 7, 2013 1:45 PM   Subscribe


 
This post contains a link; the link contains high quality content.

I'd like to thank no regrets, coyote for preparing and submitting this post so that the content can be shared by many.
posted by blue t-shirt at 1:50 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a really good comic about what draws me to sports. Baseball is completely crazy but every now and then something that shouldn't happen does and you're torn between "WHAT THE FUCK?" and "THAT WAS AWESOME!"

Like players that are suddenly bad. I know it's common in other sports, too, but a running back wearing down is not unexpected. Sometimes pitchers just...can't throw a baseball really, really well anymore. They weren't visibly injured. Their release seems to be the same. But a guy who was once one of the top 50 or top 25 or top 5 People Who Can Throw A Baseball Really Really Well just...can't anymore, and he fades away. It makes no sense.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:51 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sports are great, because there is no narrative, UNTIL ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE IS.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:10 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting, went on a little too long but I liked the drawing style and observations.
posted by lon_star at 2:21 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


...which obviously makes Professional Wrestling the only true Sport, because Reality is never allowed to intrude into the Narrative.

I started to understand this concept when working in Radio alongside a couple sportscasters whose grasp of reality was vicarious at best. Fortunately, I had already experienced the Lakers' 33-game winning streak in 1971 and gotten the autograph of one of their least legendary players at a supermarket. By the time the Olympics came to Los Angeles, I was fortunate to participate in two totally-unauthorized radio events dedicated to Undermining the Narrative - an 'alternative torch run' (with a backyard tiki torch) through parts of town missed by the 'Real' event, and 'alternative coverage' of the Opening Ceremonies (where I was the one of seven commentators with the least skill in improv humor - a tough lesson). Still, it made Opening Day one of the greatest days of my life and killed what little interest I had left in "Sports". (I wonder whatever happened to my Happy Hairston autograph)

This also explains Keith Olbermann (who makes me doubt my personal beliefs every time I agree with him).
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:33 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The title of this is A Cartoon About Sports, but it's also A Comic about Fiction. I don't really like sports (I sometimes mix up which ball goes with which sport), but I liked this a lot.

I've critiqued a lot of amateur writing, and it seems like one of the harder things for folks to grasp is that while totally made up, and y'know, fictional, fiction often needs to be more logical, more plausible, more realistic than real life.

I've heard some variation of "no, this really happened!" as a defense against the criticism that a story didn't seem plausible at least a dozen times. And it's never been convincing. Because in fiction, if something seems wrong, it is wrong. And this comic does a really nice job of explaining why.

And maybe it helped me understand the appeal of sports. A little.
posted by Eldritch at 2:41 PM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love that comic, I love the story, and the look of it. Damn, I love that lettering font (hand done, I assume?). I've never really gotten into comics too much because I can't find good art plus good stories but that was great on both points.
posted by mathowie at 2:51 PM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yep, this is vivid proof of a declaration by my old Journalism teacher. He said that whenever someone writes about sportswriting instead of writing about sports, that means they have completely run out of things to write about.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:00 PM on August 7, 2013


This (fantastic) comic reminds me of watching NBC's coverage of the Olympics with my mother. She's very sharp, and hates the way they would essentially spoil the outcome by their preceding "up close and personal" profiles. For example, she had already figured out that Kerri Strug's vault was gonna be one for the ages.
posted by whuppy at 4:01 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like players that are suddenly bad. I know it's common in other sports, too, but a running back wearing down is not unexpected. Sometimes pitchers just...can't throw a baseball really, really well anymore. They weren't visibly injured. Their release seems to be the same. But a guy who was once one of the top 50 or top 25 or top 5 People Who Can Throw A Baseball Really Really Well just...can't anymore, and he fades away. It makes no sense.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:51 PM on August 7 [+] [!]


I hadn't even HEARD of the Yips until I started watching baseball. Most recently Time Lincecum's sudden plummet from great heights to great lows had me aghast until he suddenly was throwing a 148-pitch no-hitter.

MOTHER CHAOS CARES NOTHING FOR YOUR NARRATIVE DESIRES!
posted by basicchannel at 4:05 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing is, Sport is played by people who themselves have a tendency to create narrative where one does not exist. This desire to follow the narrative, this belief can and does affect the performance of the humans playing the sport. Which to my mind means there is a narrative in sport. Mother Chaos only gives birth to spoilsports, which is why everyone hates teams that just win all the time, they don't play along.

Winning is pure belief, if you can get the other team to believe your narrative they'll roll over and lose.
posted by fullerine at 4:22 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Each player has their own narrative, though, and they don't have perfect control over what's going on either. It's true that the players' narratives matter a lot more than the fans*, but ultimately they too are the playthings of chaos.

*Though cheering fans at the actual stadium or wherever do contribute something, I think.
posted by bleep-blop at 5:05 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope this will finally get across what I've been trying to explain to an actor friend for years. Sports isn't just something you should have a passing knowledge of so you have something to talk about with your barber. It is genuinely entertaining to watch a game. Calling it "sports ball" and dismissing it out of hand just makes you sound like the kind of person who says, "I don't have a TV."
posted by ob1quixote at 6:28 PM on August 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


ob1, is that something I would have to have a TV to understand?

(Someone had to make the joke)
posted by caution live frogs at 6:48 PM on August 7, 2013


Great comic.

The way she explained it also explains pretty much to a T why I love improvisational music, but I never really connected the two. Huh.
posted by dubitable at 9:14 PM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you ask sportswriters (and sports columnists, who dissect what happens in a game, rather than just straight reporting the narrative and outcome) about their craft, you'll find that they totally create a narrative for the game, writing their story roughly as it goes on. Late comebacks and reversals totally mess with them because they have throw out the piece that has been slowly coming together over two hours, and create a whole new story, basically from scratch in 15-30 minutes to make their deadlines.

You'd think they could just tack on the twist at the end. After all, all the stuff before the comeback still happened! But it's not just about the facts. The game doesnt have the same narrative anymore.

A sports columnist I enjoy likes to refer on Twitter to shots that hit the crossbar or goal post in hockey as temporary portals to an alternate universe. I think because when they happen, he catches a glimpse of the story he would have been writing if the shot had been a 1/4 inch lower.

Good stuff.
posted by dry white toast at 10:26 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Winning is pure belief, if you can get the other team to believe your narrative they'll roll over and lose.

"Do you know why the Yankees always win the World Series? Because nobody can take their eyes off the pinstripes." - Catch Me If You Can
posted by dry white toast at 10:28 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great comic (though I agree a little too long).

Sometime in my early 20s (probably trying to rationalize why I was sitting on the couch watching a MLB playoff game at 3pm on a beautiful sunny day), I decided that professional sports is essentially improvisational performance art structured around a formal and strict generative device (the rules of the game).

However, if you take the competitive part out of it, it falls apart. The most critical rule of every game is that every team and player must be trying their hardest to win the game (per the other rules of the game).

Watching professional sports becomes a LOT more fun after you get past the "my team must win or i'll spend the next few hours in my room sobbing" phase, which most people outgrow as kids, while others ... continue to work on it.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:11 AM on August 8, 2013


mrgrimm: Watching professional sports becomes a LOT more fun after you get past the "my team must win or i'll spend the next few hours in my room sobbing" phase

There's something... past... that phase?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:15 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Winning is pure belief, if you can get the other team to believe your narrative they'll roll over and lose.

"Do you know why the Yankees always win the World Series? Because nobody can take their eyes off the pinstripes." - Catch Me If You Can


Bleah. The Yankees have also lost more World Series than any other team. (And you obviously don't remember the 1980s.)

Any fool knows it's because they buy the best players (and there used to be a lot fewer teams.)

The thing is, Sport is played by people who themselves have a tendency to create narrative where one does not exist. This desire to follow the narrative, this belief can and does affect the performance of the humans playing the sport. Which to my mind means there is a narrative in sport. Mother Chaos only gives birth to spoilsports, which is why everyone hates teams that just win all the time, they don't play along.

Winning is pure belief, if you can get the other team to believe your narrative they'll roll over and lose.


I dunno. She's not claimed it's ALL random, just that chance events can sometimes have huge implications (like life).

The team with the better players (and/or playing at home) is still going to win most of the time.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:20 AM on August 8, 2013


if you can get the other team to believe your narrative they'll roll over and lose

Also, I don't think that happens anywhere other than fiction/movies. Sure, an amateur team that is obviously overclassed probably gives up hope early, but in professional sports? No way. Every pro goes into every game (excepting things like games that "don't matter" etc.) expecting that she or he can win.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:22 AM on August 8, 2013


mrgrimm: No way. Every pro goes into every game (excepting things like games that "don't matter" etc.) expecting that she or he can win.

I don't know. I think there are definitely games where it really seemed like one team had subconsciously bought into the other team's winning narrative, for one reason or the other. As a Boston sports fan, Game 7 of the 1986 World Series, the entirety of the 2004 World Series and the 2001 Super Bowl spring to mind.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:31 AM on August 8, 2013


Ghostride The Whip: "Like players that are suddenly bad. I know it's common in other sports, too, but a running back wearing down is not unexpected. Sometimes pitchers just...can't throw a baseball really, really well anymore. "

Steve Blass being the canonical example here. At a different position, Mackey Sasser.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:31 AM on August 9, 2013


I don't know. I think there are definitely games where it really seemed like one team had subconsciously bought into the other team's winning narrative, for one reason or the other. As a Boston sports fan, Game 7 of the 1986 World Series

I see what you're saying, but I'm more inclined to think that the Sox were feeling like, "man, we had it won and blew it!" which can obviously affect your performance (as can getting blown out). I doubt anyone was thinking "man, we're screwed. the Mets are a team of destiny!"

See also: 2002 Giants. :'-(

Sure, self-confidence and psychology are certainly important in sports. I don't buy the buying into the narrative thing, tho.

Like players that are suddenly bad.

Or suddenly average. Anyone remember when Albert Pujols was the greatest player ever?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:07 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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