As my unsteady performance at Anna Liffey’s trivia night this Tuesday confirmed, I don’t know much. I know that Rockford was the television private eye who lived in a trailer in Malibu, but I don’t know how old Ronald Reagan was when he was elected president or what year the Nobel Prize in economics was introduced or much of anything about New Orleans, the Cold War or Harry Connick Jr.
And there’s more to it than my deteriorating memory and inability to distinguish Connick Jr. from Robert Downey Jr.
I lack certainty. Everyone I talk to is sure that GESO is either the salvation of higher education or a cult of misguided self-righteousness. I can’t tell. On thefacebook.com, everyone knows what their favorite movies are: “Wet Hot American Summer” (to show they’re fun), “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (to show they think about things sometimes) and something French (just because). I could never choose.
There are a few things, however, that I do know for sure.
I am certain that the Kings will upset the Sonics.
I am certain that Christopher House, the Red Sox fan who cuffed Gary Sheffield last Thursday, was not reaching for the ball.
I am certain that the Patriots could draft six kickers and my little sister and they would still get an “A” from draft pundits who are terrified to question the genius of Bill Belichick.
I am certain that Alex Smith will be the white Akili Smith.
I am certain that Mark McGwire should not be elected to the Hall of Fame. As an angry old man with a beard probably once said in a movie I have not seen, “the only thing worse than a cheater is a lying cheater,” and Mark McGwire is one of the biggest lying cheaters we have.
The rationalizations offered by his defenders make no sense. They say that he was a great player before his forearms grew to the circumference of my neck and he started wearing mock turtlenecks to cover up his bacne. Of course, this isn’t really true — he slugged above .500 only once before the age of 28 — but even if it was, that just makes him a greedy lying cheater.
His defenders claim that the effects of steroids are unknown and that they may not have impacted McGwire’s performance. Even if we accept this unrealistic premise, however, his intention to cheat remains and it is this intention that should be punished. Pointing out that steroids were not specifically prohibited by Major League Baseball is just as disingenuous.
No one should pity McGwire. He will keep the millions he made in salary and endorsements by cheating. He reveled in the media spotlight in 1998, grandstanding throughout the home run chase, and now he resents the glare and wants to wear glasses, speak softly, and live a private life with his family. In other words, he’s a hypocritical greedy lying cheater.
In the weaker moments of my youth when I stole money from the bank in Monopoly or moved my aircraft carrier during a game of Battleship, I never showboated after a win. Even as a six-year-old, I couldn’t take pride in cheating.
I am certain that baseball teams bunt more than they should.
I am certain that Brian Roberts will not hit 15 home runs this year.
I am certain that of the several people who read these columns, at least two will be put off by the lame personal anecdotes.
I am certain that several others will observe that I have difficulty communicating without using lists.
I am certain that Dirk Novitzki will never be half the player Larry Bird was until he learns to pass and get his points from more than three spots on the court.
I am certain that online poker is destroying more marriages than infidelity and child loss combined.
I am certain that Vijay Singh had an unhappy childhood.
I am certain that “Fever Pitch” is a bad movie. I know this without having seen it. I know it because the previews look lame, because Jimmy Fallon has one note, and because the Farrelly brothers are incredibly overrated. “There’s Something About Mary” was good and “Dumb and Dumber” was fine, but otherwise, their movies are nothing special. They are the Bulldog Burrito of movie-makers.
In addition to being a bad movie, I am pretty sure — about as sure as I was at Anna Liffey’s that a picture of Naomi Watts was a blond Elizabeth Hurley — that “Fever Pitch” is a dishonest movie. It is dishonest because it does not try to understand what it means to be a sports fan.
Red Sox fans, in the movie, are not passionate, but addicted. They are not real people, but caricatures. No Red Sox fan I know would sacrifice a meaningful, long-term relationship in order to attend a game. On the other hand, no reasonable person I know would ask a fan to miss a playoff game to prove a point.
“Fever Pitch” condescendingly suggests (keep in mind that this is speculation) that you can learn to love someone despite them being a fan, just as you can look past a missing eye or a destructive heroin addiction. A better film would have wondered why people care so much about players like Mark McGwire using steroids (and added a destructive drug addiction or two just for suspense).
Then again, I didn’t even see the movie. If you want real certainty, ask the guy sipping a Diet Coke in the corner by the bar who knew that it was Harry Connick Jr. who was arrested in an airport for weapons possession in 1992.
Nat Jackson is a senior in Silliman College.