Week of July 28, 2017

17776: One of the Weirdest and Most Creative Things I’ve Ever Read

That title might seem hyperbolic…but this is really something else. The story is set in the year 17776. That is not a typo. The premise is simple enough: Sometime around the year 2024, human beings stop aging. We live forever. But no one new is born. We have infinite time. And what do we do with it? We play football. But with infinite time, football evolves significantly. Instead of 100 yards, the field and end zones become entire states. The entire country, even. Mostly told through three satellites hurtling through space, Pioneer 9, Pioneer 10, and JUICE, 17776 touches on an incredible range of topics and themes – aging, mortality, the existence of life, the existence of God, the existence of existence. It ridicules the NFL’s rule book, especially the rules that have developed around what is or is not a catch. Global warming. Cartography. Rising sea levels. Technology. Isolation. The evolution of the minivan. It’s all there, and it’s funny, and weird, and incredible. Jon Bois is a writer I have long enjoyed reading, and this is his magnum opus, in my opinion. If you read it, you may get confused at times, but you will not be disappointed. Or maybe I’m just weird as hell, and the appeal I see in this will not be seen by others. Which would be fine. But I loved it, and I hope you do, too. And, if you’re curious, there are some questions and answers from the writer here. -TOB
Source: 17776”, Jon Bois, SB Nation (07/15/2017);

PAL: I got through a bit more than half of this. It’s definitely something to read over the course of the week. Going through this reminded me of Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Book of Daniel, and even A Clockwork Orange. When you first start reading, how the story is told can overshadow what is being told. This 17776 story is perfect for a MFA literary criticism paper.

In the abstract, I like the idea of exploring the big ideas — isolation, evolution, god, mortality — through the insignificant absurdity of sport. It’s a nice bit of irony. But, as was the case with Kiss of the Spider Woman, I found it more interesting to write about 17776 than read it.

The art that we learn in school — the books that we read, the music we learn, the paintings we discuss — they aren’t necessarily the best of the lot; in many cases they are taught generation after generation because they broke the form of their time, and for that they can hold a significance that more expertly crafted pieces cannot claim. The rarest of air is reserved for those that both broke the form and were expertly crafted, emotionally revealing stories. Stories like The Book of Daniel and A Clockwork Orange.

I do love how hard Bois goes for it with this one. It’s way, way out there. – PAL

Running For Your Life

Several years back I joined seemingly every person even partially interested in running and read Born To Run, a nonfiction book detailing the all but forgotten Tarahumara people in Mexico known for running incredibly long distances with little more than a flap of leather between their feet and the ground. You can thank this best-selling work for all those people who wore toe shoes for a couple years. The idea was that the marketing of running shoes was dismantling millions of years of fine-tuned evolution in the human foot, and here was this tribe of people, some of the most elite distance runners in the world, that simply missed the shoe craze of the 70s and 80s. I tore through the book, and found the stories of the running farmers from Tarahumara fascinating.

The sequel to Born To Run should be one of Olympic glory, or winning the Boston Marathon. That is not the case. This story linked below provides a more morbid sequel for many Tarahumaras.

When it comes down to it, drought can make a farmer do just about anything.

The cartels took over much of the land surrounding the Tarahumara people. Droughts beat up their crops, and several of the Tarahumara men turned to a different kind of endurance challenge: drug running. They literally haul 40-pound bags of drugs over the border for the cartels. Their crops can’t support their families, and the other available jobs don’t pay enough. With their reputation for endurance known, the Tarahumara men became quite the commodity for the cartels.

We’re not talking about life-changing money – $700 – $800, but it is life-sustaining money. It’s also about the same amount as the prize money for winning an ultra-marathon in these rural parts of Mexico. 

Not surprising, a good number of runners trying to cross the border get caught, so it makes sense that this sad trend was discovered by a West Texas attorney named Paul Chambers. Like the men he defends, Chambers has carried his own weight of drugs. This story does an excellent job profiling the pawns of the drug trafficking world. – PAL

Source: The Drug Runners”, Ryan Goldberg, Texas Monthly (July, 2017)

Friggin’ Millennials

By now I’m sure many of you are sick of the talk about Kyrie Irving requesting a trade out of Cleveland. Hell, it’s a slow time in sports – The NFL and college football hasn’t started, baseball is still a little bit outside of a playoff talk, Wimbledon’s over, the three golf majors that matter are in the rearview – but even with all of this, the amount of talk radio spent on Kyrie Irving has been a bit much.

Still, I share this story because it clearly breaks down just how little sense Irving’s request seemingly makes. The writing is crisp and clear.

Why does Kyrie Irving, 25, no longer want to play with one of the best 5 players in NBA history any more?

He wants to be the centerpiece of a team and is envious of players like John Wall and Damian Lillard.

  • Wall and Lillard have won nothing. Kyrie has been to 3 straight finals, has an iconic moment in NBA history from game 7 against the Warriors, and has won a championship
  • Kyrie is more popular in terms of jersey sales, all-star votes, and shoe sales than either of them

Kyrie wants to be the focal point of the offense. But what do the numbers say?

Kyrie attempted more shots per game (19.7) than all but five other players in the NBA this past season; more than Harden (18.9), Wall (18.4), Curry (18.3), or James himself (18.2), and only 0.1 fewer than Lillard—who, again, missed the All-Star Game and whose team got swept out of the first round of the playoffs. Irving had the ninth-highest usage percentage (30.8) in the NBA—again, higher than Wall’s (30.6), Curry’s (30.1), and James’s (30.0). As ESPN’s Zach Lowe notes, Kyrie even held the ball longer than James did, according to the NBA’s player tracking database.

Kyrie provide a list of potential teams he’d like to join: San Antonio, Miami, New York, Minnesota.

  • San Antonio has their focal point and MVP candidate: Kawhi Leonard
  • Minnesota has a couple studs, Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Townes that aren’t simply going to hand over shots
  • The Knicks are the Knicks…let’s move on.
  • Miami is not good.

So what does he want? I think writer Alberto Burneko nails it:

“It’s possible that no one in the history of the league has ever had it that good. Kyrie Irving wants to give it away so that he can play with worse players, so that he can get a larger share of dimmer shine.”

Talk about a millennial, right? – PAL

Source: Just What In The Damn Hell Is Kyrie Irving Thinking?”, Alberto Burneko, Deadspin (7/25/17)

TOB: Something smells fishy about this to me. The buzz about LeBron leaving after next season has been strong for weeks, months even. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Kyrie says he wants a trade. Either he wants a trade because he knows it’s his only shot to get out – they are not trading their only good, young asset next year after LeBron leaves – or he and LeBron are somehow in cahoots. Consider: When LeBron left in 2010, Dan Gilbert made a fool of himself with his comic sans letter to LeBron. LeBron came back, but the relationship never seemed warm, and I think LeBron came back to win a title for Cleveland and rescue his legacy, and the fact Gilbert got a ring along the way was a necessary evil. But if he now wants to leave, he needs to do so while saving face – he needs the public to think, “Well, of course he left. Who wouldn’t leave?” So, maybe LeBron and Kyrie work together to get what they each want – Kyrie gets out now, so he’s not stuck there post-LeBron, and LeBron gets to leave without becoming the villain. As Michael Scott would say, win, win win. The third win is for me, because I solved the mystery.

Video of the Week: Caddyshack was released 37 years ago this week, so let’s just stop and appreciate genius –

PAL Song of the Week: Alabama Shakes – “Dunes”

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Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

“I have flaws. What are they? I sing in the shower. Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering. Occasionally I’ll hit somebody with my car.”

– M. Scott


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