Derelict Junction

Providing missile launch codes for foreign cryptographers everywhere.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Face of Grief.

Not the grief of the Red Sox, although that does apply here.

Does anyone else hate it when, like clockwork, the sports media turns some story into this year's Yankees Post-Season Inspiration Angle? Most people who follow baseball are thinking it already, it just needs an insensitive jackass to point it out.

Right on schedule, the New York sports machine has found their latest "Face of Courage" story. Following in the grand tradition of Darryl Strawberry's cancer, Joe Torre's dying brother, and the mother of all opportunistic tragedies, 9/11, we now have the story of Mariano Rivera's distant relatives who were electrocuted in his house back in Panama. Truly a horrible tragedy, but the way it was reported, near the top of all sportscasts, I was convinced it was a direct relative of Rivera's. In fact, I told people it must have been his own child because of all the coverage devoted to the story. As it turns out, it's his wife's cousin, and his wife's cousin's son (which I don't even think there's a genealogy title for. Second cousin?).

Now, I'm certainly not down-playing what occurred, it's terrible, but the way the sports media portrayed it, with a concerned and dramatic hush, wondering if Riveria would pitch at all in the ALCS, smacks of their own opportunistic dramatization. Could it be that the storied Sox/Yanks rivalry is being enhanced by vulture sports journalism, looking to inject every last drop of drama into it's already over-loaded veins?

"Oh, no, would Mariano pitch in the series?" Of course he would! And he did, quite well actually. In fact, the day before game 1, he told the sports world he was simply going to finish up some family obligations in Panama and he'd be ready for the series. This, of course, couldn't stop the momentum of the story. They broadcasted Mariano getting out of his car and walking into the stadium, the dramatic long ovation the formerly nervous Yankee fans gave him when they announced his name in the line up, and his courageous entrance into the bull pen. This all perfectly sets up that humanizing, and familiar Yankee storyline of "how brave and courageous (insert name) is to put their personal distraction aside and focus enough to play for our Yankees."

This is not just a Yankee phenomenon, recently NFL sportscasters haven't stopped talking about the game Brett Farve played last year following the death of his father against the hapless Raiders. Now, it's not that his perfomance in that game is anything to marginalize, but it is nauseating the way the coverage continues to milk it for every last cheap rating point. The worst recent example of this warped awe-inspiring side-story came in the way sportscasters spoke of the focus and courage Kobe Bryant displayed to put the distraction of a rape trial aside to concentrate on shooting jumpers. How brave!

So it's not so much that these tragedies occur, but the way they're exploited to over-dramatize the games, which definitely are secondary, is really unconscionable. In the case of Rivera, I still think they're reaching. Every shot of him last night revealed a smiling, at ease, relief pitcher, just like he's always been. And that's not to say he's not upset, but did anyone think that the constant coverage of his ordeal isn't merely to document compassion? Did anyone consider that this is a personal problem and that Mariano might not want to have a camera on him every step of the way? From what I can see, the coverage hasn't bothered him.

Now, when he said to the media he just had to go down to Panama and take care of some family obligations, he could very well have been saying, "I'm just going down there to find out who those two people were who snuck into my hot tub. I'm now told they're somehow related to me. Can you believe that? Of course I'll be back for the game. The family of these two might sue me, so I may need the money for lawyer fees." He could have said that verbatim, but they sports coverage would have still painted it as the face of Yankee Courage. I can see it now, if the Yankees win, Rivera will be interviewed in front of all Yankee stadium and say, "I would like to dedicate my performance to the memories of those two people I sort of knew. I know, right now, they're up in heaven, looking down on this and, ...ahh, the big one is smiling at the little one. Thank You, New York!"

They'll probably make a movie about it.Posted by Hello



At 4:32 PM, Blogger Drew said...

How dare you belittle the incredibly moving and dare-I-say tearjerking display last night at Yankee stadium. Mariano Rivera felt a personal responsibility towards these relatives because only friends and relatives of his even HAVE electricity in Panama.

Originally, the entire town thought his cousins were victims of Chupacabra, but upon further investigation (once they found an 'expert' that had once used an electric toaster) it was found that upon hearing you could cook with electricity, his relatives attempted to wrap a chicken in copper wire and plug it into the wall. The results were instantly comical, to be sure, but not as funny later when they were dead.

In the interest of fair time, however, I believe the sports networks should be required to produce a one hour long documentary about how brave Curt Schilling was for getting out of bed this morning despite his sore foot.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Drew said...

Oh yeah, fuck Pat Tillman. Neidermayer was shot by his own troops too and I don't see Jake Plummer going on and on about him.

At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weren't they cleaning Mariano's pool when they got electrocuted? That part is left out of a lot of the stories I have seen.

I wonder if they used a carpet vaccume instead of a pool vaccume.

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 2 cents is that family tragedy, fine, he's gotta do it--wife's brother. But the whole thing about, "Is he coming back...will he pitch in game so-and-so..." was pretty stupid. We figured over the weekend that he was coming back, but stupid that people and media were still wondering by Monday Tuesday...
I liked how the camera shoed him getting out of the car and walking into the building--so PLAYER! Like Mariano is going into a meeting at the U.N. or something, or as
if he's Kobe on the way into the courthouse.
Wait Are you guys for reels about what happened at the pool?
I read that the son fell in, and then the father (Mrs. Rivera's brother) jumped in after him. What's this about cookin' with electrical fence? ANY truth to it? I like the Foreman grill...but man, they’re giving Foreman a run for him $$$. Did they say if the chicken was good?


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