Rants and Faves, or Why Modern Sports Introduces Cynicism to Fans Far Earlier Than It Should

ShadyTHE WORST PART of the Eagles’ purge of LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin (and, last year, DeSean Jackson) isn’t the torrent of drivel it has unleashed on sports talk radio and Twitter. It’s having to explain it to the girls.

“Why would the Eagles get rid of those players? I thought they were good!”

Well, they are, but their cap hits were too big–

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‘Silver Linings Playbook’: A Struggling Pair Face Their Own 4th-and-26

SILVER LININGS Playbook is about football in the same way that Bull Durham is about baseball. Each sport plays an important role — it’s almost a secondary character — but never obscures the larger themes of relationships between damaged people. You don’t even have to be a fan to enjoy each film for the achievement it is.

Bradley Cooper’s Pat is just out of a mental health facility, where he spent eight months being treated for bipolar disorder after he kicked the ass of the guy bonking his wife. He’s living in his parents’ house in the Philadelphia suburbs, trying to jump-start his life and win back his wife. Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiffany is a young widow trapped by her own demons. She, too, is back with her folks; her salvation is a dance competition for which she’s training. Their uneasy alliance stumbles haltingly into a wobbly friendship in which each tries to help the other.

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Other Things for Which I’m Thankful

Yes, of course I’m thankful for my family, my health, my friends, my job, and my house. But there are other, less obvious things for which I am grateful on Thanksgiving Day 2012:

  • “Lonely Boy.” The guitar-crunching, beat-driving, blessedly economic anthem celebrating unrequited love was my gateway to the Black Keys, and the best rock song of the year. (Yes, I know it was released in 2011, but I didn’t hear it until this year.) A staple on my iPod.
  • Cole Hamels. The suave southpaw would have commanded a massive contract on the free-agent market, but instead signed a massive extension to stay with the Phillies. No, he won’t be hurting, but Hamels’s deep ties to Philadelphia–he and his wife are among the most visible and outspoken philanthropists in the region–seem to be genuine. Here’s hoping a few Cy Young Awards and World Series titles are in No. 35’s future.
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Put Me In, Coach! I’m Ready to Pl–Oh, Wait, Is That a Butterfly?

They still sometimes need to be told to run to first base. They still sometimes need to be told where first base is. They still sometimes need to be reminded that the game they’re here to play is t-ball, not “Play With the Stray Leaf on the Ground.”

But a funny thing happened over the last couple of months. The seven 5- and 6-year-olds I coach have become better ballplayers.

Now, as noted above, they are still very much athletic works in progress. But where they are doesn’t matter; how far they’ve come does.

Firecracker is one of my players, and as much as I want her to approach the game with Utley-level intensity and focus, she’s among those who need to reminded that staring at the game two fields over is a good way to whacked in the coconut by a ball she should have been prepared to catch. Nevertheless, she, too, has begun picking up how things go.

Our last practice of the season was last night; our final game is tomorrow night. By the time we exchange the final high-fives, I’ll be ready for the break. But I’ll also be damned proud that a group of little girls most concerned with whose mom was bringing the post-game snack somehow learned a little bit about playing ball. | DL