Whitney Houston’s death — while not a surprise — is a sad story indeed. In fact, anytime a colossal talent such as hers is lost to the underworld translates into a melancholy tale; but her spotlighted career the last decade and a half has been more than that. It’s been a messy train wreck in slow motion. I’ve just been waiting for it to stop.
Now it’s stopped. For good.
Addiction ain’t no joke. And it cares not who it destroys. You can be the best singer in the world or the most talented athlete on the diamond. It doesn’t care. It will consume you if you don’t get help.
I only hope that people are paying attention.
With that in mind, Mr. Krause made me hip to one of Whitney’s lesser-known interweb gems. Here, take a look for yourself: *Vid Link*. (For some reason, all embedding of this video — and ones like it — has been disabled) Make sure you pay special attention to Monsieur Gainsbourg at the 58 second mark.
Call me crass, but that’s a Whitney moment to remember. She was hot. She had the best voice on the planet. And the entire world was at her service. Yet none of the above was enough to slay the dragon of addiction.
The damn thing breathes fire.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
It’s pretty clear that the 30-year War on Drugs waged by the United States has been spectacularly unsuccessful at best and criminally wasteful at worst. Within our borders, jails have become overcrowded with small-time offenders while the rate of new usage continues to increase. Outside of these same borders, a new generation of druglords continue to show the world that Pablo Escobar was an amateur.
I guess the thing I’ve never understood is, why are drugs so bad? Yes, I understand why abusing drugs is bad in the same way that I understand why abusing people or anything is bad. But there’s a big difference between using and abusing. I use alcohol in that I have a beer with dinner. I don’t abuse it, though, because I know what the effects would be. Plenty of people use marijuana in the same way and quite honestly, I trust them a lot more than I trust my alcoholic friends.
So why do we continue to demonize drug use even as we profit from it? It’s the same thing with drug use in sports. I don’t want to see guys abusing the stuff but if a small dose of some sort of PED from time to time can keep a guy healthy, why not? We already know what kind of a toll the rigors of professional sports take on the human body. And yes, the athletes know what sort of risks they face. But why wouldn’t we do all that we can to ensure their health and safety?
Honestly, I’m tired of reading about A-Rod or Manny or Ryan Braun. McGwire, Sosa and Bonds? That’s something else. That’s abuse. But those other guys? I really couldn’t care less. If regulated use of PEDs could help players stay healthy, play until they’re 40 and enjoy life post-baseball, that just makes sense. But, so does de-criminalizing marijuana and collecting taxes off of its sale. I don’t expect to see either one anytime soon.
We Americans enjoy declaring war. However, we only tend to make the declaration when the battle must be fought against an abstraction. Declare war on Sudan for its genocide in Darfur? Nah, too many bureaucratic hurdles. Declare war on terrorism, as ill-defined as that term may be? Sure thing. Same goes for the war on drugs, still going strong after three decades. Now aside from the fact that what is and isn’t classified a drug happens to be random at best, the whole idea bears some serious scrutiny since the rate of drug use has actually increased during this “war” according to the government’s own statistics.
What’s even more worrisome is the knock-on effects this abstract war has had on parts of American society. No, I’m not talking about our abysmal rate of incarceration (although it is disgraceful). I’m talking about something much more important, much more fundamental. Something that should have been enshrined as an inalienable right in the Bill of Rights. Beer-league softball.
Apparently over the past six years, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the office responsible for waging the “War on Drugs,” has played in the same Congressional Softball League as a team made up of players from drug policy reform groups. And each season the ONDCP team has somehow managed to avoid playing the reform team, even when the schedule pitted the two teams head-to-head.
That’s right people, the drug war is slowly ruining our recreational softball leagues. Luckily, there is a solution. Declare war on the war on drugs.
As a proud paragon of Redbird loyalism, I still pompously refuse to forgive and forget the awful defeat handed to us by the Houston Astros during the 2005 NLCS. That… was… awful. I think I went on a two week bender.
I don’t remember.
But I do remember one thing: I do not like the Astros. So you can imagine my grief, dear readers, as I watched their bid for an 0-162 season come to an end on Thursday… again, against the St. Louis Cardinals.
WTF IS IT THAT MAKES BUD NORRIS SO UNHITTABLE TO THE BIRDS ON THE BAT?!? EH!?!? WELL!?!?!
That one little win (their first win) is just that: one little win. It doesn’t change the fact that the Astros suck.
And it’s times like these — when jaded, seething, vexed — that I turn to Japan… for a little glimpse of happy time:
Ah… nothin’ makes me smile like a psilocybin-fueled walking canine with a crowned doll head pushing doggie treats to unmonitored and impressionable little kids.
Happy Friday, Y’all!
*Special thanks to Shan for coining (and sharing) the term “LOLstros”, which is effing hilarious (and true). You can follow her on Twitter here: @Shan_Cake
Has anyone seen Officer Lincecum?
Hate me, y’all!
The baseball season may be over but the wheeling and dealing is just beginning. Trades, pickups, moves. It’s like Christmas came a month early. However, one man seems to be doing a little more wheeling and dealing than everyone else. Well, maybe more of the wheeling after hitting up someone else responsible for the dealing.
Now, let’s see a show of hands for those of you who are surprised that Tim Lincecum likes to hit the reefer from time to time. Ok, Utah, you can put your hands down. Mormons don’t count in this poll. But as for the rest of the country, of course we all knew he liked to smoke. The dude looks like a smoker. He’s practically a dead ringer for Wylie Wiggins and he just has that look in his eyes.
Here’s the thing, though. Isn’t this just yet more proof that marijuana might not be as bad for you as DARE led you to believe? How many people do you know who are at the top of their game and like to relax with their close friend, Steve Green, from time to time? Half the NBA are regular smokers, Lincecum obviously likes it and how else do you think Steve Jobs came up with the iPod?
Take another look at that article. The thing I notice about the story is that Lincecum pulled over and “immediately complied with a request to hand over the drug and a marijuana pipe.” Compare that with a drunk who refuses to put down his beer and winds up taking a swing at the officer. I’ll take the pot head any day…..especially when he has a 2.90 ERA over 3 seasons.
A sober Sidney Ponson can only mean one thing.. The guy must’ve
discovered another substance to abuse, evidently one that gives the
public the illusion he’s a moderate man while not enhancing his
performance [not just because it’s illegal but because, after all,
failure is the one thing he can accomplish at any level of
intoxication]. Is RSBS aware of his alternative to the booze? If so,
did he receive it from a certain former Texas teammate that sure as
hell had me fooled into thinking he sobered up [until the photographic
Flair for the Dramatic
New York City
In general, I try not to take anything too seriously. That’s just not how I am. Like the eponymous character from “The Big Lebowski,” I abide. But there are some things I take seriously. And addiction is definitely one of them.
Now, I’m a lucky guy. I don’t have an addictive personality. I’ve done my fair share of things I shouldn’t have done but I gave them up in a second with no cravings or anything. I guess I’m just blessed like that. However, that’s not how it usually happens. Addiction isn’t a one-time battle that you just suddenly win. It’s a daily struggle and what we’ve seen happen with Josh Hamilton is proof enough of that.
Imagine for a second being in a job like a professional baseball player. Yeah, you may love the game and you may be completely devoted to watching your team everyday but imagine going out on the field, day in and day out, warming up and knowing that every little thing you do during the game, every little mistake will be analyzed by thousands and possibly millions of people. And if you don’t perform to the tune of the big bucks you’re making, your team has no problem dumping you on the landfill of history.
I have rough days at work, days when I’m sick and tired of it but it’s nothing compared to the stress these guys are feeling. Why else do they try to find the latest edge, legal or not, and do whatever they can to keep it their own? And when that edge starts to wear, when it’s no longer enough, something has to be done to dull the anxiety, keep away the fear. It’s no surprise to me that athletes turn to a little booze or some pot and it’s definitely no surprise that, like brother Axl told us, “The little got more and more.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to laugh at the antics of a Ryan Leaf or Sidney Ponson or tsk-tsk when it’s a story like Josh Hamilton and his backsliding. But I’m thinking that although I have no room to pull any sort of holier-than-thou card out of the deck, maybe it’s time we applaud Sidney for getting his act together and focus on what Hamilton has accomplished despite the inevitable setbacks he is going to experience. One day at a time.
There are home runs and then there are home runs. When a guy like Ryan Howard hits one off the sweet spot, chances are it’s going to travel a longs ways. However, when someone like Scott Podsednik gets one out of the park, you assume that there must have been a strong gust of wind somewhere around the end of its ride.
Similarly, there are drugs and then there are drugs. Now I don’t want to say that some drugs are all right because it’s true that most have some sort of side effect. But even implying that PED’s and a drug like marijuana have the same kind of effect on sports and the players or that they should be punished the same way is pretty ignorant.
That’s why I’m curious about this Geovany Soto admission. I don’t think it’s any secret that a lot of professional athletes enjoy a little visit with Steve Green every now and again and it has become even more prevalent and less stigmatized among the younger generation. But, MLB under Bud Selig has often shown a tin ear when it comes to these sorts of things. Their response to Soto’s test will show a lot about what direction they plan to head.
If it was up to me, I’d hand out the minimum. A slap on the wrist, some drug counseling or something along those lines. But you never know when and where reefer madness is going to strike and my guess is that they’ll come down disproportionately hard on Soto after screwing the pooch with the PED debacle. Hopefully they’ll see it my way but if it turns out that Soto is also growing a little on the side, maybe even mixed in with the ivy in the outfield, well, then all bets are off.
Last year was the year of Josh Hamilton. By the time the All-Star game rolled around, you couldn’t turn on ESPN or hit the internet without running face-first into one of the ubiquitous pieces on Hamilton and his recovery from depression and drug addiction. In fact, I think that my colleague, Mr. Lung, may have actually written the best piece I read on the subject.
However, it seems that our esteemed sportswriters may have missed Jeff’s column because the same thing is happening again. This year’s poster-boy is Zack Greinke and even places like Deadspin have begun to focus on his issues along with those of guys like Dontrelle Willis and define them accordingly.
Now, I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, it is important to destigmatize issues like depression and drug abuse by talking about them. And when athletes come forward and admit even off-handedly that they, too, face these kinds of demons, it’s good for our awareness of the issue. But, when their whole story then becomes boiled down to a point where we see them only as the guy who fought depression or the guy who overcame his drug dependency, we eliminate all the gains and just create a new stigma. They are no longer people. Instead, they become the disease they defeated.
This issue is all the more important because it affects more than just athletes. Thousands of our friends and family members are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan having seen and experienced things that are truly beyond human comprehension. But when the inevitable depression and its symptoms like PTSD and drug abuse start to rear their heads, the stigma keeps them from being able to seek help. This isn’t a new problem. The same thing happened to veterans of Vietnam, the two world wars and as far back as Ajax in Greek mythology.
I admit that I don’t have an answer to this stigmatization problem. If Sophocles couldn’t answer it and the best minds in psychology today can’t figure it out, it’s probably a little out of my range as well. But, it might be nice if from time to time we stopped referring to Greinke’s “amazing comeback” or Hamilton’s “heart-rending journey” and just appreciated them for who they are. A couple of guys who have overcome the same kind of problems that a lot of us face day in and day out and also happen to be able to do amazing things with a baseball.
As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad, once the laundry list of abominable possibilities finally settles in, we US Americans could be in big trouble.
Nevermind the impeccable team consciousness so calculated and so perfected by Team Japan during international competition. Nevermind Team Japan’s quiet gamesmanship deftly defining and defending their world-class status. Nevermind Dice-K and Darvish. There is much more to fear… for example:
Rape! Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got nuthin’ on the Japanese. Don’t believe me? Know this: from December 1937 to February 1938, the Japanese raped an entire city! The then southern stronghold of China, Nanjing (aka Nanking), was completely decimated by the Japanese in a not-so-quiet storm of raging pillage quite akin to the stomping Chris Brown gave Rihanna not too long ago.
If that isn’t reason enough to fear the Japanese, how about this?
Not only do they combine situational hitting with speed, they are also known to make sure the opposite clubhouse spread is spiked with magic mushrooms, leaving the competition confused in a burst of beguiling blur.
Yet nothing should invoke more fear in the hearts of Americans than the Japanese group mind. To illustrate, here’s a clip of Team Japan’s batting practice:
They may not be a hit on Broadway (yet), but the Japanese sure do know how to rhythmically scare the bejesus out of any and all opponents willing to scrap.
US Americans, let us unite! Persevere! And conquer!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
P.S. Dear readers, if you haven’t already, make sure you purchase the Prince of New York Paul Lebowitz’s 2009 Baseball Guide. You can get it *here* and you should get it soon. It is your one-stop shop for all things 2009 MLB and it has magical powers (and by “magical powers” I mean “table of contents”). Believe me, this dude knows what he’s talking about. He’s the clean, charming, polite version of Jose Canseco.
On the real.
(Ichiro blur photo courtesy of Donald Miralle/Getty Images)