Sports Survival Guide for Men
How A Guy Can Survive A Sports Experience Without Dislocating His Pride.
Guys: Is the only sports-related injury you get a sore thumb from switching the remote from ESPN to ESPN2? Think a “safety blitz” is just an unsuccessful single by 80’s pop group “Men Without Hats”? Can’t tell a yakker from a yellow hammer? The Sports Survival Guide for Men is for you!
In this third installment of the hilarious “Survival Guide for Men series, humorist Dan Van Oss takes the common man through the wide world of American sports by tackling such subjects as:
- Sports in History: “A snippet from ‘The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle’ by Tobias Smollet, an English writer in the 1700’s, laments ‘if but the down be four, then punteth thee, or get thee haste, for Merry is he in the locker room, where but Fate may giveth thee a TV timeout.’”
- How To Talk Sports: “In baseball, ‘Uncle Charlie,’ ‘the yellow hammer,’ ‘yakker,’ ‘Public Enemy No. 1.’, and ‘the deuce’, are all nicknames for a curveball, and not, as you junior high boys are already thinking, hilarious names for going to the bathroom.”
- Baseball: “The night before the All-Star Game a Home Run Derby is held, where long ball hitters get to see if their steroid injections are paying off.”
- Football: “Like most men past their 20’s, football has mostly become a spectator sport, designed to allow you tell anyone who will listen that you played the same position as that guy on TV and ‘he should have done a red dog — that’s what worked for us,’ while you break open another bag of Sour Cream & Jalapeño Ruffles.”
- Basketball: “ The objective of pro basketball is to eventually be able to own both a Ferrari at your Miami house and a Bentley at your LA house and/or a wife or girlfriend at both.”
- Hockey: “Qualities such as speed, athleticism, flying squids and the use of Zambonis can make hockey an exciting and enjoyable sport to watch while you’re waiting for the fight to start.”
- Tennis: “Grunting is an important aspect of the game. Grunting shows your opponent that you ‘came to play’, are ‘serious about your game’, and ‘may have just ruptured an important internal organ such as the pancreas’.”
Loaded with comical comparisons and entertaining explanations, Dan gives you the basics of each sport along with his usual off-kilter version of it’s major events. You’ll also get plenty of suspiciously unreliable definitions and common phrases for each sport, plus another epilogue adventure with hapless everyman Kevin.
Melding together the whimsical wit of Douglas Adams and the laugh-out-loud narratives of Dave Barry along with a brainy dash of a Dennis Miller rant, Dan Van Oss delivers the average guy a hysterical guide to the wide, wide, bewildering world of sports.
“Dan’s style is like The Best of Dave Barry meets The Best of Dennis Miller.”
“Humor is hard to do and Dan does it extremely well.”
Sports in History (The Kents Cavern Turnips vs. Garth the Fisher’s LIPS)
ANCIENT MAN, SIGHING, rises after another tedious meal of prairie beast leg, pondering his condition. Having just turned 21 seasons, his life now nearly over, he wonders what it’s all been for: the prairie beast hunts, this sloping brow that runs the rain right into his eyes, fire, his opposable thumbs. Frustrated, he takes the leg bone he’s still holding, grabs a half-rotten turnip from the plate his cave-mate Sheila served him for dinner again, and instinctively swats it out the entrance to the cave with the bone. Something stirs; that was… fun? His neighbor Carl is trudging by on his way to get the daily water from the slightly less diseased part of the pond and sees the turnip rolling out into the dust. What gives? Is Ted angry? Are he and Sheila fighting about those naked cave paintings she caught him staring at again?
“C’mon, Ted,” he says, “We all have to eat the turnips. It’s either that or the wild onions from the quicksand by the swamp, but you know they give us gas.”
“No,” says Ted, thinking, then stepping out of the cave to pick up the turnip. “C’mere, Carl. Here – go down by Phil’s cave. I’m going to see if I can hit this turnip to you.”
Carl shrugs and complies; after all, Ted is his boss down at the tar pits, so he must know what he’s doing. Two hours later they have not only garnered eight more curious guys from other caves to come play this new activity, but have codified a basic set of rules (no hitting the turnip into the Death Bog, no challenges to fight to the death, no bunting) as well as a cool team name: the Kents Cavern Turnips. Two days later they are already arguing over whether Garth the Fisher’s LIPS (Late-Inning Pressure Situation) slugging percentage would improve by a few points if he choked up on his stoat and closed his stance a little.
Sports seem to exist in our collective blood. Give a random bunch of guys a stick, a yard, and a walnut and nothing to do for an afternoon, and sooner or later they’re going to be arguing heatedly over whether hitting the garage roof on the fly should count as two points or three. And although we may think we’re pretty cool with our new, modern sports such as arena football, NASCAR, and presidential candidate debates, sporting in various forms has been around for centuries, as can be seen by these historical examples:
- Egyptian hieroglyphics in the tomb of Sneferu show the goddess Isis holding a stick similar to a baseball bat while extending her middle finger to black-and-white-striped Nekhbet, god of Fair Play and Justice.
- A Grecian “victory bowl” dated to 450 BC is inscribed with the words “Den echei teleiosei mechri na tragoudaei i kyria lipos” (“The game has not reached its completion until the large woman has finished vocalizing”).
- A treatise called On the Phoenician Alphabet from Phoenician philosopher Sanchuniathon, in which he wrote “Samothracian arbitrators! Is your visage cloudy? Do you need assistance for your eyes? The ball was clearly not able to be struck as in normal fashion!”
- A memo from the Roman senator Livius in 90 AD calling for stricter helmet regulations for gladiators, as they were being injured too quickly before dying.
- A painting from an unknown French artist, circa 1580, depicting a team of victorious sportsmen (with various numbers pinned on their jerkins) pouring an orange liquid over their apparent leader, who is surprised by this gesture.
- A snippet from The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle by Tobias Smollet, an English writer in the 1700s, who lamented, “If but the down be four, then punteth thee, or get thee haste, for Merry is he in the locker room, where but Fate may giveth thee a TV timeout.”
- The writings of Zoroaster, who some scholars say predicted a Red Sox World Series drought in the 6th century BC when he wrote: “Proud was he, who lost the clobberer to the house of Ruth; their pennant would fly no more, till 85 and one had passed.”
Therefore, recognizing that we can’t escape sports, no more than we can escape oil changes or wife-mandated colonoscopies, we would do well to prepare ourselves. We should be ready to gamely participate in or at least talk about sports at any given time, because otherwise it’s just junior high gym class all over again, and nobody really wants that.
Equipment & Talent Needed:
- Free home run derby app you downloaded on your phone and played two times before deleting.
- Watched two innings of All-Star Game by mistake because you recorded it instead of Castle.
- Used baseball cards in your bicycle spokes when you were a kid to make it sound cool.
- Complete batting roster knowledge of [insert favorite Major League team here], including slugging percentage, fielding weaknesses, parole violations, number of marriages, and why next year will definitely be the year if we can just keep our relief pitchers off the DL and blah blah blah.
- Was once told by your drunk Little League coach he had a real shot to play in the minors.
- Held high school record for most hit by pitches in one game (2).
- Once shook Babe Ruth’s bat boy’s hand at a nursing home while visiting grandmother.
- Lifetime supply of that black stuff you put under your eyes.
- Endorsement from company that sells a) athlete’s foot spray b) furniture polish c) spray paint d) all of the above.
- Dated Tommy Lasorda’s daughter.
- Can’t stop scratching groin in public.
- Ability to not know what state or town you are in on any given night.
BASEBALL; THE QUINTESSENTIAL AMERICAN GAME that we essentially borrowed from the British, along with apple pie and moms, is quite possibly the most popular sport in American history, just after lengthy and inconclusive congressional hearings. Known as “America’s Pastime,” baseball has rich, deep, chewing-tobacco-stained roots going back to the 19th century (Official Motto: “Dear Hipsters: Please Give Us Back Our Penny-Farthings”), when teams such as the Cincinnati Red Stockings and Worcester Ruby Legs vied for the title of “Wussiest Possible Team Name.” Probably the most recognized sport in America, you will do well to familiarize yourself with some of its intricacies, as you never know when some random back-yard BBQ conversation is going to suddenly veer into a discourse on someone’s favorite team, and what a particular multimillion-dollar player did last night that was “spectacular,” and how they are “the best,” and don’t you agree, and there you’ll be with your half-eaten hot dog sticking out of your mouth, with a master’s degree in Applied Accounting and Finance, wondering what in the world a “backdoor breaking ball” is and if you’re supposed to laugh because it’s an off-color joke.
Your actual on-field participation in baseball most likely ended with your last Little League game in 5th grade, unless you’re one of those guys who runs on the field after a home run and tries to hug Barry Bonds, or you’re a professional groundskeeper. Some of you may even have played in high school, where you got yelled at by a volatile coach who was secretly angry because his own son just wanted to be on the debate team. You are now relegated with the rest of us to watching the All-Star game, plus maybe the last inning of the World Series, or, if we’re lucky, sitting in an actual major league park for a game using one of our buddy’s season tickets because he’s out of town this Thursday doing a real job. However, since it is one of America’s most popular sports, you will need to have at least a squibber of knowledge about baseball – or enough to know that a “squibber” is a slowly traveling batted ball that connected with the end of the fat part of the bat.
Basics of the Game
Baseball, as you may not know, unless you were on the Robotics Team in high school, in which case you might already know how baseball is played because you built a baseball-playing robot, is played on a field called a “diamond,” which in actuality is shaped more like a square with a beer belly. The diamond utilizes four bases, a pitcher’s mound, and two teams of at least nine players each – ten if you count your little brother Pete who you’re only going use as a bat boy anyway. Using a bat and a ball, each team attempts to score runs by hitting the ball into the field and safely rounding the bases and has nine innings each to do so, depending on how dark it is getting or if their mom just called them for supper. A run is scored when a runner reaches home base, having first touched first, second, and third bases. Runners that touch only one or two bases, or just another player, or hug an umpire, are probably just spectators that have run onto the field and should be subdued. The fielding team can get the batter out in a variety of ways:
Fly out: The hitter bats the ball and the fielder successfully catches it without the ball bouncing on the field, his head, or off a passing pigeon.
Put out: The fielding team can “put out” a runner by striking, slapping, slugging, smacking, or otherwise assaulting him with the ball while he is between bases. The runner can also be “forced out,” a situation where a runner is forced to advance to the next base because the runner behind him was dumb enough to hit a stupid ground ball, and so the fielder can now just tag the base, and there goes my UBR (Ultimate Base Running) metric; thanks a lot, Steve.
Strike out: When a pitcher throws a ball, he has to get it in the “strike zone” or be labeled a “failure” and be sent back down to “the minors” (see below). The batter must either swing and miss the ball, or the ball must enter the strike zone without him swinging, or the ump must make a really bad call on a pitch that was an obvious ball like he did last night and probably lost the game for us and HEY UMP! GET SOME GLASSES!
Minor League Ball
Minor league ball is a great opportunity for you to watch future Big League players play the same game for approximately 5% of the salary. Many smaller cities have minor league teams, with such colorful names as the Mudhens, Lug Nuts, Yard Goats, Biscuits, and Flying Goats, all of which would also make terrific names for geezer rock bands that play 70s songs. Your typical minor league stadium brings the game much closer and more personally than a major league park, allowing you to experience all of the spitting, swearing, cursing, heckling, sizzling, life-endangering foul balls and broken bats in much greater detail. Minor league games are also notorious for their between-inning shenanigans and promotions in order to attract fans. You can expect to see giant inflatable bird mascots harassing the umpires, women in star-spangled outfits blowing themselves up in boxes on home plate, liposuction giveaways, speed dating nights, toilet seat cushion night, etc. Yay, America!