Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya have a little argy-bargy at Richmond
At last, finally, and not soon enough, NASCAR returned to real racing at Richmond last Saturday night, as I clang the keys of this cybernetic simulacrum of an Adler J-5 typewriter. No more of that “YOU get to play butch tonight, little buddy” restrictor plate crap. It’s back to the banging, bashing, and racing the tires off and burning the brakes to vapour. It’s back to manly pursuits, and the sort of great racing we expect from NASCAR on any given Sunday, or in this case. Saturday. The night race at Richmond is always fun stuff, and it was with a sigh of relief that we witnessed real, truthful, manly pursuits instead of a bunch of unbearable homoerotic nonsense ((MMA—HHO1/2K)).
Of course, I needed the week off to get over the horror that was Talladega. Unfortunately, I also took the week off when I should have howled with rage at whatever shadow of the monster I fancied was trudging and slouching through my peripheral vision. But I weakened, and did not pursue MY manly pursuits, such as they are. As I’ve many times begged forgiveness…I’ve left undone those things that I ought to have done. I should have been like Charles Bukowski, drunk ol’ Bukowski raging against injustice and madness at 3;17 in the morning. I should have been like C.K Chesterton, drawing the souls of England with coloured chalk on plain brown paper. Even if my pursuit was all just pretend and pretense. It’s a good life, if you don’t weaken. But I’ve been weak when I should have come strong.
But better late than never, I guess. It’s not where you start or even how you get there. As long as you’re leading the last lap, well, that’s what counts. And if you’re not leading the last lap, well…at least you gave it go. As long as you don’t start and park.
So let’s see where we wind up.
This coming Saturday night, (or, rather, this PAST Saturday night as I crawl from the wreckage to type this now…) NASCAR makes (made)it’s annual pilgrimage to Darlington, the track too tough to tame. No one escapes (escaped) this track unscathed. It is wondrous and powerful and perhaps my favourite race of the season….actually, no perhaps about it, it IS my favourite race of the season. Well..of THIS season anyway. NASCAR finally got even further back to truly manly my pursuits last Saturday….as did I, I suppose, as I over-indulged in an excessive amount of terrifying brands of light beer, pork steaks, and cigars, with the inevitable result. But I recovered from that in time to watch a significant majority of the Southern 500 with the enthusiasm it merited.
I do not believe that any driver, with the possible exception of Michael McDowell who retired like some shy violet the garage on lap 7 with a “vibration” or some similar start-n-park excusez-moi. ((Yes…confirmed by Jayski…it was a vibration. *flail*))
The Darlington Stripe is a badge of honour and manliness….and yes, even if Danica Patrick got one, which she surely will some day, it will still be a badge of manliness that she will wear proudly…or should, whether she wants to or not. Winning at Darlington is tough, hard, and mean. The great David Pearson has the most wins ever at Darlington….10. And Jeff Gordon has 6. There are quite a few great drivers who have NEVER won there. Tony Stewart never has. The Carl…..Matt Kenseth….nor That Lout Kevin Harvick. And speaking of Harvick…well…we’ll touch on that later.
So it was both marvelous and unlikely that relatively unknown Regan Smith was the one to break his Darlington duck last Saturday in a thrilling green-white-checkers finish. Good for him. He races for Furniture Row Racing…a one car team that is usually mired in the 27-35th points most of the season. The win at Darlington puts him at 27th. But good for him! He held off The Carl on the final 2 restarts and won a thrilling race.
On a normal day, I would have been tooting for Liverpool….not that I’m a Scouser…but an a normal day, I’d be rooting for Liverpool in the same (but not similar) way that I root for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although, truth to tell, I might actually root a bit more for Everton these days….and it would DEFINITELY be Everton if Landon Donovan had been made a permanent fixture at Goodison Park. But…no…it’s Pool…and while you won’t hear or see me getting up at some karaoke event and singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, I was glad to see Liverpool win on Monday….except for one small detail. That small detail is that on ESPN’s Streak For The Cash, I has picked Fulham to Win or Draw. I was figuring on the draw to be honest. But the Scousers had other other ideas…more manly pursuits than quisling little side bets against sports geeks who live in their mother’s basements and do naught but fondle the odds as though they were little imaginary girlfriends.
Maxi Rodriguez got the hat trick. Dirk Kuyt was flying around the pitch opening things up and taking a few manly hits and his goal at the 16 minute mark broke whatever remained of Fulham’s spirit that was already burning in a funeral pyre after Maxi’s brace at the 1 and 7 minute mark. The final was 5-2, but the game was not as close as the scoreboard would indicate. I will say that Clint Dempsey kept his dauber up as much and more than was humanly possible….but he was playing, for the most part, with a bunch of fucking zombies. And Brede Hangeland….I mean what the fuck was he doing out there playing in a tutu and tap shoes?? I thought that sort of equipment was illegal according to Law 4.
In any case, Liverpool played brightly, as they say….and they were all smiles out there.
Fulham, not so much. At home, at Craven Cottage….hell, they might as well have played this at Anfield. After the match, Clint Dempsey retired to an obscure win og the British Museum and penned at little Dear John letter:
Dear John Henry,
Please buy me during the offseason. Pretty please.
I’m tired of walking alone.
Yes…yes…I was getting to this. I won;t put this off any longer. I am thankful that I was NOT able to view this on one the pirate TV feeds on Sunday morning as my father-in-law and I sat on lawnchairs just outside the garage, just outside St. Louis, smoking cigars and drinking beer. All 90 minutes plus stoppage time were passed in that way…cigars, beer, a beautiful day that I struggled in vain to keep unspoiled. I knew what was going on without even having to see, without even having to hear. I didn’t need C.K. Chesterton and his pieces of chalk and sheets of brown paper to draw this one out. I knew when I saw that Chicharito faked David Luiz out of his Sideshow Bob wig and scored in the first minute that this game, this season was all over and done. There was no need to see it played out. I knew. I knew. I knew.
The final, for those of you who’ve been sidetracked, by liquor, pussy, ennui, work, wives, Jesus, or the Dallas Maverick’s dismantling of the Los Angeles Lakers, was Manchester United 2, Chelsea 1.
And the game was nowhere near as close as the scoreboard would indicate. ManU showed their superiority over their closest rival in pretty much every phase of the match. It’s just as well that I didn’t see this, as I would have EATEN a box of cigars, with KETCHUP! And you KNOW how much I hate ketchup! I despise it! I disdain it! So there ya go ye fackin Mancunian bastahds!! You beat Chelsea 2-1. Fair and square. You beat a team that become inferior. You beat a team that next season will quite likely look nothing like Chelsea this season.
I’ve written about this before here this season. Chelsea’s lack of pace and clarity and crispness. They’ve seemed, even in matches they’ve won handily, a step or two slower than their competition…even if it’s inferior competition. There’s been a lack of drive that has confounded and bewildered me all season. A lack of spirit and no sense of direction. Now I know that John Terry, if he were sitting here in Mt. Horeb Wisconsin with me and sucking on a few GENESSEE Cream Ales, would soundly dispute this ((ie. he would kick my arse like hell won’t have it))…but then again, I’ve had not much fault with John Terry and HIS sense of spirit and direction….it’s the rest of the wankers from Didier Drogba on down that have not been on the ball this season.
At halftime, Ancelotti subbed out Luiz for Ramires…but by his own admission, if he could have subbed out all 10 of those wankers, he would have. Unfortunately, he was only limited to 3. Mikel made way for Alex, and at the 64 minute mark, Kalou made way for Torres. The latter move made as much good result a inserting a monarch butterfly into a beehive.
So the season, with 2 matches left has for all intents and purposes come to close. Chelsea will need to retool and rebuild and reload….something that should have been done last summer. But it might be for naught in some respects. The idea would be to build a dynasty….and surely Roman Abromovich wants that. But the problem is the man the Russian sees in the mirror every morning. He needs to step away and let his manager run the team. He needs to stop listening to yes-men and cronies who know less about football than he does.
It seems ironic to me that as much as the Glazers are disliked by a lot of hardcore Mancunians, that they have had enough good sense t0 step back and let Sir Alex run the team and build the team….not just for today, but for the long-term. I hope Roman Abromovich will come to his senses and let knowledgeable football people get him what he wants…the Champions League trophy to go with the Premier League Championship and the FA Cup. He needs to hire good people and keep away…stop meddling like Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones. He got rid of a good football man in Ray Wilkins this season, and he’ll most like get rid of another on in Carlo Ancelotti this coming fortnight.
Unless you’re an ManU fan, let’s hope his new regime will be allowed to do what Sir Alex has done so well….build a long-term franchise. A dynasty. Now THAT’s a manly pursuit if there ever was one.
In the the mayhem and turmoil of the past 2-3 weeks, I can’t neglect to mention that my Norwich City Canaries are being promoted to the Premier League next season. Their 1-0 win over Portsmouth on May 5th ((coupled with Cardiff City’s 0-3 home defeat to Middlesborough)) clinched 2nd place in the Championship and automatic promotion. I can’t say enough about the spirit with which they’ve played this season. No one, not even myself, honestly expected them to go up since they’d just been promoted up from League 1. But Paul Lambert got them to play both tough and beautiful. His leadership was the key factor in getting the most out of Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson, Wes Hoolihan, Zak Whitbread, John Ruddy, Henri Lansbury,and the rest. A lot of their matches were won in the final minutes. They played tenacious football, and it will be fun seeing them in the Premier League next season.
Which leaves me with a little dilemma….what to do when Norwich plays Chelsea.
I’ve thought about this. And here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to root for Chelsea when they meet at Stamford Bridge. But when they’re at Carrow Road, I’m rooting for my Canaries.
And now I’m right out of manly pursuits. Drain beer. Press publish.