Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Also They'd Be a Great Name for a Rock Band

If the Mongolian wrestling coaches aren't named Co-Sportsmen of the Year come December, I'm going to be very disappointed in Sports Illustrated.

Top that Bob Knight! In your faces, Earl Weaver and Billy Martin!! Maybe you can get the silver medal, Hubie Brown. In the long history of coaches/managers losing their shit over officiating, we have never and may never see a display to match that of the two worthies who earned Internet immortality last Sunday.

Stripping down to one's skivvies to protest a call!! That earns maximum style points for originality with a triple maximum points bonus for insanity. I've seen Alvin Dark pick up third base and throw it into stands. I saw Gene Mauch take a baseball he suspected Gaylord Perry of doctoring and stomp on it to get it (and him), tossed from a game. They're just honorable mention rhubarbs now.

True comedy in sports comes when the principals are most serious. I'm sure that back home in Mongolia stripping off one's shirt in an argument is a mortal insult that leads to clan blood feuds which last for centuries. So what? I'm never going there. Anyone who didn't laugh loud and long at the video of this wrestling match has no sporting soul.

People are always saying, not incorrectly, that sports is entertainment. The weird thing is, the people who run sports disagree. Fans and casual spectators LOVE to see coaches/managers arguing with officials, especially when it's the home team coach/manager. All sports organizations take every step they can to outlaw the practice. It offends them.

In Adam Silver's NBA, coach Red Auerbach would get a season-long suspension by the third exhibition game. There will never be another John McEnroe in tennis, thanks to the eagle eye system.
And instant replay has just about killed the manager-ump argument.

Baseball had no need for replay, except for its incurable envy of pro football. If the NFL jumped off a cliff, MLB would be right behind. No business that really thought its goal was to entertain the public would replace the sight of two grown men screaming at each other like preschoolers with the sight of four grown men waiting to hear what a fifth grown man saw on television.

So the Mongolian wrestling coaches (who were of course deplored by Olympic poohbahs) are my sports heroes of the week. Years from now, they'll be the folks I remember from the Rio Games when I draw a blank on Katie Ledecky's name. No offense meant to Ms. Ledecky. Excellence is fun to watch too.

It's just not as much fun for me as watching sports turn adults into little kids -- poorly behaved little kids.


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