No Pepper Games: Burn Atlanta
Post by Cincinnatus Van... on 7/16/2012 10:00am
In 1999, the Milwaukee Brewers' annus horriblus, the team finished fifth in the division with an anemic 74 - 87 record. A crane accident killed three workers and delayed the opening of Miller Park by a year.
The only beacon of hope shining through the doleful fog that year was the draft. With the tenth overall pick, the Milwaukee Brewers selected pitcher Ben Sheets.
Within two years Sheets would be the ace of the Brewers' staff, but not before earning a gold medal on the US Olympic baseball team in 2000.
There won't be a US baseball team at the Olympics this year. There won't be a women's softball team.
There is a secretive cabal who run these games. They are the enemy of all that is good in sport. They are nefarious. They are covert. And they are Belgian. This notorious coterie has declared that baseball and its' lesbian equivalent are "too American" to have international appeal.
The last sport to be discontinued by the Olympics, retired, and ignobly put to pasture is polo. Is this what baseball's come to? In the eyes of the world, it's lumped in with upper-crust patricians in exclusive clubs whacking their balls on horseback.
How can they declare baseball "too American" to be in the Olympics?
This despite the fact that Cuba has owned Olympic baseball gold medal for decades and the 2008 winner was South Korea.
Baseball boasts stars from around the globe. Have they not heard of Ichiro Suzuki? Albert Pujols? Milwaukee's closer, John Axford, is international and hails from a strange and distant land called Canada.
Keep in mind that these are the same people who will be filling our televisions with such "sports" as Synchronized Aquatic Arm-Flapping, Beer Pong, Lawn Darts, and "Ribbon."
Baseball isn't an Olympic sport, but "Ribbon" is.
For those of you with too much self-respect to spend your precious mortal time watching this twee display, here is your guide to "Ribbon:"
There is an arduous step-by-step path to reach the Olympics in "Ribbon." Step one: Identify a little girl with gymnastic talent. Step two: Emotionally cripple her. Normal childhoods aren't good enough for ribbonistas. Step three: Give said girl a long, shiny piece of fabric.
She will ask what to do with this piece of fabric. She will be told to twirl this piece of fabric. If she does not, she spends three days in the sweatbox with Mary Lou Retton.
She will then go to the Olympics.
How does she know if she did well? There are rules. The ribbon must be in constant motion. It must not become knotted. It must not burst into flame, crash the stock market, or kill Isadora Duncan.
Every four-year-old girl who ever played dress-up has done this event. This is where she finds a scarf, and runs around the house yelling "Whee, I have a scarf! Look, when I make my arm go in circles the scarf goes in circles! Look, Mommy! Daddy! Look at me! I have a scarf!" All good parents strive to prevent outbreaks of Ribbon in the home. This is why God invented television and put Sesame Street on the VHS.
Where was I? Ah yes, Ben Sheets. After two years out of the game and innumerable surgeries, Sheets took the mound yesterday and threw six scoreless innings on the way to leading the Atlanta Braves to victory.
Seeing Sheets in an Atlanta Braves uniform feels wrong.
Seeing any of our Milwaukeeans in an Atlanta uniform feels wrong. In 1966, the Milwaukee Braves, a team that we justly stole from Boston, left us and moved to Atlanta.
They took Henry Aaron with them, he who had hit 398 home runs in a Milwaukee Braves uniform.
Does anyone outside of Wisconsin remember that? Kids today'll just look it up on YouTube and assume he always played in Atlanta.
Hank Aaron, a black man, had to endure death threats and racial slurs the whole time he was chasing Babe Ruth's sacrosanct home run record. Just six years to the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. died, he pulled a high 1-0 fastball past Bill Buckner’s head and over the fence in left center. It's the greatest moment in the history of sport, and it took place in an Atlanta Braves jersey.
Some fraction of that glory should reflect back on Milwaukee. 398/715ths, to be exact.
So, while I wish Ben Sheets well in his resurgent career, I just wish it were in some other city. In addition to taking Milwaukee's most iconic athletes away in a carpetbag, Atlanta is famous for one other athletic milestone. It was the site of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the first time in modern history that "Ribbon" was presented as not only an individual event, but also as a synchronized team spectacle.
Someone call General Sherman and hand him the matches.