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Soup of This Day #231: Here Endeth The Lesson

August 12, 2012

League Park, Cleveland
League Park in Cleveland was the sometimes home of baseball’s Cleveland Indians until just after World War 2. For the 1947 season, around the time that former star crimefighter Eliot Ness unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of Cleveland, the team completed a full-time switch to Cleveland Stadium – Image: Braun Post Card Co., c1911. The Braun Post Card Co. is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

For most of today I’ve mysteriously had the closing music from Brian De Palma’s 1987 flick The Untouchables playing in my headspace. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining – Ennio Morricone’s score is some damn fine work and, for a bonus, I happen to like the film too.

I guess the question I have though is why is this music playing between my ears? I do have the movie on DVD somewhere but it’s been a fair while since I last saw it, so it’s not like there’s been a recent airing.

This leaves some association link – Sort of a 6 degrees of mental separation in the Longworth72 brain. A careful analysis of what had been flitting through my mind early this day reveals some sporting possibilities:

Initially I thought Red Sox, mostly because I was following their game with the Cleveland Indians this morning. The problem with this option is that Morricone’s musical denouement is an orchestral up-welling – Inspiring, full of triumph and hope for the future.

That’s not the Red Sox right now.

They seem more into just getting the season done without troubling anybody. On paper this might seem strange – They’re still mathematically in the hunt, just 6 games back from the wild card slot with 48 to play. That’s a smaller gap than Tampa Bay had on Boston in 2011 and with more games to reel it in.

The thing is though that in that latter scenario it was the Rays chasing down just Boston. There was some competition from the Angels but it faded late leaving the Floridians with catching the New Englanders as their sole focus.

Now though the Red Sox are 4.5 games adrift of the Angels. Who are 1 game adrift of the Tigers and the Orioles. Who are 0.5 games back from the Rays and the A’s.

Put simply, the Sox need 4 of those 5 teams that are ahead of them to be cold while they themselves are hot.

The Red Sox are not hot.

The Red Sox are that tepid temperature that nobody likes – Too cool to be warming and too warm to be cooling.

Which is pretty much how they played this morning, neither here nor there. This mood is best summed up by the actions of Jacoby Ellsbury, top of the 6th. With scores tied at 2 apiece and just 2 hits on the Sox side of the ledger his team needed runners on base.

Hitting leadoff and it looked for a moment like Ellsbury had generated just that and handsomely too after he flied off the wall deep to left. It was an easy double and a decent heart-starter for a comatose lineup.

Or it would have been if Ellsbury had held at 2nd.

He didn’t. The fleet-footed bat explained later that he:

‘…was being aggressive and trying to make something happen. That’s what you’ve got to do when you’re not scoring runs.’

Because being thrown out at 3rd with no outs and none on is great for tacking on to the scoreboard.

However it’s framed in terms of intent it was not smart baseball and that’s pretty much where the Sox are at – In that light the 6 game margin might as well be 16. The computers at coolstandings.com agree – At the time of writing they rate the Red Sox chances of making the post-season at 7%.

How do you think the Red Sox clubhouse feels about those odds – Better or worse?

It’s not even worth getting the orchestra to tune up for. Remember that the heroes won at the end of The Untouchables – They were triumphant over Capone in the courtroom. The Red Sox in that context would be in the next case on the docket, a minor 1 probably involving unpaid parking tickets.

And they would lose that too.

So the Red Sox were not the inspiration for my mental soundtrack. Perhaps then the Olympics, specifically the men’s 4x100m relay that was run overnight, is the cause. The race was by all accounts a cracker with arguably the fastest ever field assembled so it certainly made for great theatre.

Almost all of the truly fast were distributed across just the 2 teams, the US and Jamaica. The 2 sprint leviathans went at it from the starting pistol with the US holding a slight lead at the last change, having had a bigger lead eaten up by the world’s 2nd-fasted man, Jamaica’s Yohan Blake.

Who, sadly for the US, then passed the baton to The World’s Fastest Man, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, for the all-important anchor-leg.

If Bolt is an anchor then he’s the kind you want in a 30m swell. Reliably stuck to be sure but stuck fast. With the emphasis on fast.

Usain roared home like he meant it, holding off on the showboating in overhauling American Ryan Bailey and lunging across the line to snare gold and a lazy World Record of 36.84s. Given that the old World Record of 37.04 was set by exactly the same quartet (In running order: Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt) last year at the World Champs, and that it was the 1st time in 4 global championships that the US hadn’t mucked up a changeover (2008 Olympics, 2009 & 2011 World Championships), nobody was particularly unhappy.

Except the Canadians who were disqualified from 3rd.

So the triumphant Jamaicans are a maybe. There are 4 of them and they are untouchable. Since they rallied late, Eliot Ness'(Kevin Costner) parting message to AL Capone (Robert DeNiro) in the film also rings true:

‘Never stop, never stop fighting till the fight is done’

It all fits.

But it wasn’t that and I can say that because I’ve now worked out where I got the music from.

Each year the Australian Football League (AFL) awards the Chas Brownlow medal to it’s best and fairest player, as adjudged by the umpires of each of the 198 regular season games. Votes are given in each of those matches for the 3 best players, with the best of the lot awarded 3. Then, the Monday night before the Grand Final, the players gather together in a glittering ballroom for the count. At that time the votes are tallied, round by round, until an eventual champion is named.

And this is where the closing theme from The Untouchables comes in. You see the music that plays as the medal-winner is slapped on the back by his team-mates and then guided to the rostrum for the presentation sounds a lot like that end theme.

It may even be exactly that end theme.

It would be fitting if it was because to win a Brownlow you cannot stop until the fight is done, making every round count. Matthew Pavlich of the Fremantle Dockers has done that this year and this morning I was musing that he should poll well in the Brownlow this time around.

Unfortunately he can’t win it though and somewhat ironically this is because of a game in which he will surely get the 3 votes. It was last week’s 36th Western Derby and the game saw 9th-placed Freo tackle 5th-placed cross-town rivals West Coast at Subiaco Oval.

On paper it should have been a win to the Eagles, albeit a tough 1. They had cruised to victory in the the 35th Western Derby earlier this year but the Dockers had worked up a head of steam with 4 relatively easy wins on the trot whilst the Eagles had lost 2 of the last 3. Crucially West Coast were also without probable All-Australian full-back Darren Glass, a man who the Eagles would have used to mark the Docker’s main goal-scoring threat.

Matthew Pavlich.

The Pav was in a rich seam of goal-kicking form leading in, making a sustained run for the top of the scoring charts with 47, just 4 shy of then leader Buddy Franklin of Hawthorn. For West Coast though he had reserved something even more special.

8 goals.

That is the record for a Freo player in a Derby, and it catapulted the Pav into the lead for the Coleman Medal, awarded to the player booting the most goals of the season.

It also helped Freo to belt West Coast to the tune of 65 points, 17.11 (113) to 6.12 (48). The Pav had 8.2 (50) for himself so apart from notching up a score that bested the combined efforts of the entire Eagles team he also would surely have got the notice of the umpires with regard those Brownlow votes.

Unfortunately they saw some other stuff too.

Like the Pav catching a West Coast defender with an errant arm.

For that offence Matthew Pavlich copped a reprimand from the AFL tribunal and is now ineligible to win the Brownlow. You have to be the best but you also have to be the fairest.

I don’t know that Freo’s skipper will be that annoyed. He’ll keep working to get the Dockers a shot at a finals campaign and when it’s all over and done with I reckon he’ll sit back in his pub (He co-owns 1).

What will he do then?

I think he’ll have a drink.

Here Endeth The Lesson

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