Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Stone's Throw

If only today was this day next year, then we could celebrate "Polish Countdown Day". Sorry, if I do not from time to time throw a harmless, juvenile barb in the direction of my pal Jolanta (with whom years ago I shared the secret with as to why all Polish names end in "-ski") she thinks I have forgotten about her. Or maybe she hopes I have. I have never been able to keep those two straight.

It is a real boon that the New York metropolitan area calls two NFL teams, is it not? But for the display put on first by the boys of Mara Tech getting their asses kicked all around the faux turf at Snoopy Seat License Stadium by Pete Carroll's USC Trojans (sorry, Seattle Seahawks although a number of Carroll's SC teams were better than his '12 Seahawks are), which was followed up by Wrecks Ryan's J-E-T-S doing their impersonation of a Gang Green group from the Kotite Era during which their play emitted a stench fairly described as gangrenous those of us who root for the Yankees would still be transfixed on how the baseball season ended in these parts. Talk about a Bloody Sunday.

Given that neither New York baseball team is still playing, comments that struck me as odd when I first read them over the weekend might have escaped your attention. Here in '11, the two teams in the National League who appear to loathe each other the most are the two who, quite deliciously, are left to beat each other's brains in for the NL pennant. The St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers are not simply rivals. They are enemies. One would think that being located in the two American cities that have done more to foist lousy, watered-down beer on the beer-drinking public through the use of media campaigns designed to mask just how much the product being sold sucks would bond them. Suds Brothers or some such thing. Nope.

It is against the backdrop of enmity that the young, talented Zack Greinke (who just completed his first year in Milwaukee and in the NL for that matter after coming over from Kansas City in a trade following the '10 season and who was the winning pitcher in Game 1 for the Brewers) shared with the assembled media his thoughts regarding Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter. Carpenter is the guy who outdueled Doc Halladay of the Phillies 1 to 0 - in Philadelphia - in the deciding game of the NLDS on Friday night. Greinke is clearly not a fan. He informed the media on Saturday that not only do many members of the Brewers not like Carpenter, but that he considers Carpenter to be a phony. According to Greinke, "They think his presence, his attitude out there sometimes is like a phony attitude. And then he yells at people. He just stares people down and stuff. And most pitchers just don't do that. And when guys do, I guess some hitters get mad. Some hitters do it to pitchers. But when you do that some people will get mad."

I suppose that the thing struck me the most regarding Greinke's comments about - and his slam of -Carpenter's attitude and his mentality is that Greinke himself is a player whose career was almost derailed early on by Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression. His battle back from his own issues is laudable. He was but a baby when he confronted his problems publicly and did so in a manner that could have cost him his career in the big leagues. He not only made his way back to the Bigs but in 2009 - as a member of the Royals - he won the Cy Young Award as the American League's best pitcher.

Perhaps it is just me - an overreaction on my part as someone who knows neither Chris Carpenter nor Zack Grienke - but it struck me as inappropriate as one whose shoes have logged the miles that Grienke's have to use a term as derogatory as "phony" when speaking of a competitor's mental composition. The cynic in me wonders (softly and to myself) whether Social Anxiety Disorder (note the acronym please) is right up there with Restless Leg Syndrome and every other nouveau ailment or condition designed to put a face on every person's day-to-day lamentations and complaints. It seems to fit the general description of those things that when I hear about them for the first time make me want to say, "Snarf" aloud. Just saying.

I am not the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer. I cannot be the only person who wonders such things. Anyway, perhaps I am just making too much of something said by a young athlete whose candor is apparently revered by those who make their living writing about him and his teammates on a day in/day out basis.

If the Brewers win the World Series, then maybe Greinke's home will be included in the tour of famous Milwaukee attractions. It is easy to spot from the tour bus - even without a sign in the front yard. It is the one made out of glass. Be careful not to throw a stone anywhere near it.


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