Rick Reilly is a Dull and Useless Writer: Part 465,898,277,162,698
All right! Another column from our esteemed and trusted friend, Rick.
The 10 best sporting events to see live
I’ve got my own must-see list. Anyone up for the Iditarod?
Gas jockey, book-packer, flower boy, bank teller, lawn-mower, 7-Eleven clerk — I’ve been all of these. So it’s never lost on me that I won career lotto with sportswriter. Especially when I’m on a five-week stretch like this one: U.S. Open, Wimbledon, Tour de France and British Open.
Again with the book-packer nonsense…what the hell is a book-packer! Plus when you say you were a gas jockey, book-packer, and flower boy in succession, I think one may get the wrong (right!) impression about some of your personal persuasions. Maybe I’m just dirty. Anyone else? No? OK, moving on.
But a new book, The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live, by Robert Tuchman, plus SportsCenter‘s current series Fan Feast, got me thinking. Being so old my ears still hurt from the Big Bang and having seen nearly every sporting event twice, what would be my list of must-see live events? Glad I asked.
I’m not glad you asked.
10. Home Run Derby — Better than the All-Star Game because it’s never ended in a tie. Besides, it’s everything real baseball is not. Guys swing at every pitch. Every third ball is a souvenir. And you don’t have to wait 45 seconds while Nomar Garciaparra re-Velcros his entire uniform between pitches.
So dumb. So incredibly dumb. The Home Run Derby is fun for like a minute. But it takes forever, and after the first round very few home runs are hit. Actual baseball games can take a long time, that’s fine because there’s a game going on. Watching the Home Run Derby is like (nay it is) watching batting practice. Only Rick would actually list the HR freaking Derby on his must-see sporting events. Ugh.
9. Iditarod — Whenever somebody tells me the Iditarod is cruel to dogs, I answer, “I agree, the dogs left at home.” You should hear them howl when they’re not picked for the team. This is the hardest event to watch. I once had to bribe an ex-Vietnam pilot to fly me to a rest stop in the middle of nowhere, where we landed in a half-plowed field and were picked up by an Inuit on a snowmobile pulling a sled. Try to be in Nome at the end. One bar almost always has a ladies’ arm wrestling contest. Trust me, you’d lose.
So really, #9 is ladies arm-wrestling? Or when they pick the dogs? You’re not explaining yourself well. Plus, THE IDITAROD!? This is probably the only thing worse to “watch” in person than a marathon.
8. Ryder Cup — Where else can you witness multimillionaires nearly hurling over three-foot gimmes with nothing more at stake than pride and some very ugly shirts? Unlike other golf tournaments, every shot matters every day, for better or worse.
What do you mean “unlike other golf tournaments”? Isn’t that how golf works? Now, I’m no expert, but it seems to me that every stroke in every golf tournament is important. That’s how they score the game, right? If there’s anyone out there reading this in tan linen pants and a pastel orange Lacoste polo, please, answer this for me.
7. Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway — There’s no better place in baseball than Fenway, which is like playing in your grandmother’s attic. The Green Monster isn’t an architect’s precious quirk; it was the only way to shoehorn the place onto the available land. And Fenway is filled with people who don’t need giant clapping hands on the scoreboard to know when to cheer.
A decent choice!
6. America’s Cup — You need a good Chris-Craft to see it, but if you can’t bum a seat on one, who cares? The pub scene alone is priceless. Endlessly thirsty crew members, billionaires in dorky captain’s hats, diamond-dripping cougars, all elbowing each other out at the bar. Bring an extra liver.
Rick must be going out of his way to pick sports that absolutely no one cares about except the people participating.
America’s Cup? I think that’s sailing, but I can’t honestly say. But, boy oh boy, bring on those millionaires in the captain’s hats…just wanna get a piece of that…I mean the cougars! the cougars! I meant bring on the cougars, not the sailors! Haha, silly me.
5. Tour de France — Like trying to get to 20 Super Bowls in 23 days, but worth it. Pick a climbing stage, bring friends and a bike, ride the course in the morning before the race (you’re allowed), have lunch in a hamlet atop some exquisite Alp, watch the heart-skipping finish, have a bottle of Bordeaux, spend the night, bike down in the morning. Rinse and repeat.
I’ve seen the so-called heart-skipping finish of some Tour de France stages. It’s not exciting, just a couple of guys on bikes, then a few more, and then the rest of the losers whose sole job is to draft for their better teammates, and who know without a shadow of a doubt going into the race that they will not win…because they’re not allowed. I’m serious, this is how it works. Look it up.
Also, why not just do these things (lunch, wine, etc.) without taking time out of your day to watch a few doped-up guys in spandex cross a finish line.
The only reason Rick really likes this is because he lusts after Lance Armstrong.
4. North Carolina vs. Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium — Fans pulling the hair of Tar Heels players as they inbound the ball; students camping out for months in K-Ville for tix; the hilarious chants from the Crazies, who once yelled at Grant Hill’s parents, “One more kid!”; public school vs. private; an electricity that makes the Final Four and its corporate crowd seem like a three-day seminar on bunions.
Fine. Nice bunion joke.
3. Wimbledon — There’s nothing in America within a par-5 of it. It’s a Windsor Castle garden party with grunting. It’s queens and cobblers, cheek to cheek, over grounds so huge it would take you and your Toro a month to mow. It’s a phantasmagoria of color — greens and purples and yellows — and that’s just Bud Collins’ pants.
Hey-O!! Man, you really brought it to Brad Collins! But I guess Wimbledon isn’t too bad.
2. Kentucky Derby — My life’s aspiration was to be Damon Runyon, and the Derby is as close as I’ll get. With its wooden stands, elegant barns, men in seersucker suits and women in hats you could land an F-14 on, it’s 1927 everywhere you look. Don’t miss the fillies the day before in the Kentucky Oaks or the Barnstable Brown Gala or the awful race-day breakfast at Wagner’s Pharmacy, across from Gate 3. If you hear a tip there, book it, because everyone around you is a trainer, an owner or a groom.
1. Masters — Sneak into the clubhouse for the peach cobbler and steal into the Eisenhower Cabin, where some paintings are actually by Eisenhower. Do the par-3 tourney Wednesday and Arnie’s first tee shot Thursday; see the droop-shouldered cut players driving out Magnolia Lane Friday, Amen Corner Saturday and golf history Sunday. Because Augusta already has most of the money printed in America, it has not sold out an inch. There are no ads, just flowers. No luxury boxes, just $1.50 egg salad sandwiches. Timeless.
These last two are fine and good.
But this column has been done sooooo many times that you can’t be original without picking a bunch of stupid events that nobody cares about. So the real question here, as per usual, is: Why the hell did you even write this article, Rick? The answer is simple. It was easy. It required absolutely no research. He didn’t have to interview anyone, or chase a story, just mailed it in. I hate you Rick Reilly. You are not a preeminent journalist. No, you sir, are a hack.