Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: sports

A Midwestern Musing

Tonight’s World Series game is of utmost importance. In order for the Royals to stay in it and to have a chance to win it, we must win tonight. Game 6. We’re nauseous.

Plenty of people around town are filled with excitement, enthusiasm and yes, even a little queasiness. Because we’re from the Midwest. Yes, we’ve trumpeted and written and shouted, “TAKE THE CROWN!” with all the gusto you’d expect from a drunken NFL fan. But what it really comes down to is this: we just don’t “take” things. We’re too damned polite.

Growing up in Iowa and my post-college years in Minnesota, I observed the humorous behavior around offering dinner guests dessert: It actually requires offering said dessert three times before it becomes ok for the guest to accept.

“Piece of pie?” your hostess trills.

“Oh gosh no, I couldn’t,” you politely respond. (We don’t want to create more dishes to wash, overstay our welcome, or in any other way inconvenience you more than our presence already has.)

“No, no, come now, you have to try a slice!” your hostess then will exclaim.

“Oh no, I am so stuffed on that amazing dinner! I can’t imagine another bite right now,” you murmur, because the second offering means the first one was genuine, and now you’re shifting in your chair and wondering if there’s whipped cream.

“I insist. Just a small slice? Say you will!” she says, and you then acquiesce, because now you are actually helping out, you have been offered pie three times now, so you know the sentiment is genuine, and you are ready and excited for pie, and sure you’ll have a cup of coffee if you’re making more.

This is us. This is Kansas City. We are proud of our city, proud of our roots in agriculture and industry, proud we finally got an IKEA and proud of our teams. But never TOO proud. Of course we recognize injustice and bias. We rant and rave and rage at the Joe Bucks of the world, the announcers who seem to equally marvel at and ridicule our cowtown baseball team, and seemingly heap adoring praise on the other team’s players. The sportscasters who mildly mix up Alex Gordon with Eric Hosmer (HOZ!) but don’t bat an eye while they recite reams of statistics about Madison Bumgarner’s history and pitches. But we’re nervous. If we don’t win, will all these people who seemingly look down their noses at us, for being less “Cosmopolitan”, for being less “Coastal”, will this just prove them right? Well, no, but it won’t help us prove them wrong, either.

And we WANT this. We want it so badly. We don’t want to wait and we don’t want to lose. We want to win. Because we exist in flyover country every single day, we know the metropolises on either side of the country don’t think about us and our contributions, that our fields provide food for the world, the fact our hustle and bustle doesn’t have high-speed trains or subway systems. Oh sure, we’ve got our foodie spots and our microbrews and we even have sushi. But we’re used to not hearing a lot of ringing praise, and truth be told, a whole lot of praise can make us look at our shoes and shuffle a little bit in embarrassment. And this is why we’re queasy. Because underneath all of this, we WANT THIS. We want it so BADLY. It’s attention but it’s also redemption and it’s validation of all the things WE know to be true and believe in.

So maybe we won’t TAKE the crown, in the sense we ride up on an Arabian horse, snatch it & gallop away, but we sure as hell want to EARN the crown, because our pride knows no bounds when it comes to our team and our city. GO ROYALS!

Hard Knocks

“You know why you’re watching this show, right?”

“Why?”

“Because. You want to be able to learn as much as you can before the season starts and impress all your friends with your football talk.”

“Well of course I want to learn!”

“Yeah, but you want to impress your people with your knowledge of football.”
(walks away)

(me, yelling) “Did you ever think maybe I wanted to impress YOU, Jackass?!”

(from kitchen) “OH me! Impress me? It’s all about me?”
(pause)
“JACKASS?!”

I dunno where that came from, maybe I was channeling Gunther Cunningham. That man swears like a fuckin’ sailor. And he’s tough. Players call him the Grinch. And tonight I learned all about the Depth Chart.

Now, aren’t you just a tiny smidge impressed?

I’m so ready for football, except watching this show is making me a little skeered my Chiefs are not gonna do all that well. But what’s most important is my ability to BANTER and how much more I’ll know. Speaking of knowing things, I gotta work on my hand signals for the new season. Illegal Crackback on ALL y’all who mess with me.

BB Fans, Try Not To Cringe….

So, this whole bracket-schmacket schtick has me actually paying ATTENTION to the various games, if only to immediately go to cbs sportsline and check my standings in the office pool. (Currently tied for third, slipped out of a first-place tie tonight and let’s just all keep our fingers crossed for a Georgetown upset!)

The problem is, I don’t ever watch the games all the way through. And I don’t know the “lingo” fluently. Unlike football, I actually knew a little bit about basketball from way-back-when, because we played it in school. (I use the verb “play” extremely loosely. My most distinct memory of playing basketball was having to pull one of the most hideous vests ever created on earth out of a barrel in the appropriate color (usually maroon), made from netting that seemed to retain the sweat and odor of every student before me, stretching back fifty years. Add to that a veritable tackiness in the netting, similar to a rug-gripper you might put down to keep an accent rug in place, so it was vaguely sticky on top of being gross. I pretty much spent most of my time trying not to touch the vest that designated which team I was on. I wasn’t exactly what you’d call “rough-and-tumble”. “Princessey” has always been a better fit.)

So I know what “dribble” and “travel” and “points” are. But for some reason all my football skills escape me & don’t transfer over – two nights ago I stated to my knitting peeps, “Kansas is up by one. I can’t follow this flashback they’re showing right now.” Yes, it’s not a REPLAY but a flashback. Tonight JWo started quizzing me. “Do you know what ‘traveling’ is?” ….mmmm, yeah, I think so, it means you run without bouncing the ball. (I got clarification: two steps without dribbling.) “Do you know what an up-down is?” (When they run up and down the court? No.) There were more, but I can’t remember them right now. Rules of the shot clock, whatnot. Suffice it to say, I’ll feel a general sense of relief when football rolls back around. HOLDING! That’s my favorite.

I think the main reason I’m not sucked in to watching the games? It’s STRESSFUL! The scores rocket around and unlike football (usually), these games go right up to the very wire of the second clock, racing down. Talk about nail biters. I might as well take up Home Bomb Disarmament correspondence courses and have less stress in my life. Now, I must confess, I looked at my stats the other day & who was reading my blog? And my little post about the bomb threat at my grade school back in 1976 somehow flagged me for some sort of Terror Filter site. I’ve now mentioned the word “bomb” twice in one week, so hopefully my next post won’t be from Guantanamo Bay. Is that a trigger word too? I’m a little nervous, what with the Patriot Act and all. I have a new business presentation next week, I can’t ship out to Cuba! Not to mention monitoring my bracket status.

My hope is for a KU/Ohio State matchup, and the only reason I picked Ohio to win it is because half the office picked KU and frankly, I was hedging my bets. Here’s to hoping my picks do a lot of that up-down thing and score a lot of points. Try not to be confused by the flashbacks.

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