3.728 rather in Hell with friends? baseball (159)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Thu, 9 Nov 89 19:31:24 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 728. Thursday, 9 Nov 1989.

(1) Date: Wed, 8 Nov 89 23:33:00 EST (30 lines)
Subject: Query

(2) Date: Thu, 9 Nov 89 04:31:37 EST (113 lines)
From: Brian Preble <rassilon@EDDIE.MIT.EDU>
Subject: [ken@csufres.CSUFresno.EDU (dot) : BARRY FRESNO SUBMISSION ]

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 89 23:33:00 EST
Subject: Query

Carey Eckhardt (Comparative Literature, Penn State), has posted the
query that follows on our local list, and I promised to pass it on to
HUMANIST. The response to the last one (thorns & yoghs on the Mac) was
very helpful, which has made a few folks sit up and take note...
[Was it Mark Twain who said, Heaven for climate, Hell for Companion-
ship? Isn't this what Shaw's Don Juan in Hell is about? What about medieval
roots? ]
-- Kevin Berland

Date: 8 November 1989, 19:50:26 EST
From: E82 at PSUVM
Subject: medieval allusion

I am trying to track down something that "I know I read but can't
find where." This is a scene somewhere in a medieval poem (probably
English but perhaps French etc.) in which someone says that he'd rather
be in Hell with his friends and other interesting people, than in Heaven
where he'd be lonely. One occurrence of this kind of statement is in
the French chantefable "Aucassin et Nicolette." Aucassin says that he'd
rather be in Hell with his lady Nicolette, than in Heaven without her.
I know that I have seen a similar sentiment elsewhere but cannot
recall where. I thought at first I would find it in "The Vision of
Tundale" but don't see it there.
Thanks for suggestions. Carey Eckhardt, Penn State UP

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------123---
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 89 04:31:37 EST
From: Brian Preble <rassilon@EDDIE.MIT.EDU>
Subject: [ken@csufres.CSUFresno.EDU (dot) : BARRY FRESNO SUBMISSION ]

[In the interests of a less morbid attitude towards life, I pass on to
you a sample of an electronically transcribed column regularly written
by Dave Barry, an American journalist. It is the least offensive, but
not the funniest, that I have received in some time. I promise not to
send you another one, but you may get Barry's columns regularly yourself
by writing to the address given above. My apologies to those who do not
relish Barry in particular and American humour in general. --W.M.]

Dave Barry
Fresno Bee November 5, 1989

CONTINUING OUR SERIES on "How Guys Think," we explore the question: How
come guys care so much about sports?

This is a tough one, because caring about sports is, let's face it,
silly. Suppose you have a friend who, for no apparent reason, suddenly
becomes obsessed with the Amtrak Corp. He babbles about Amtrak
constantly, citing obscure railroad statistics from 1978. He puts
Amtrak bumper stickers on his car. When something bad happens to
Amtrak--a train crashes, for instance, and investigators find that the
engineer was drinking and wearing a bunny suit--your friend bcomes
depressed for weeks. You'd think he was crazy, right? "Bob," you'd say
as a loving and caring friend, "you're a moron. The Amtrak Corp. has
-nothing to do with you-." But if Bob is behaving exactly the same
deranged way about the Pittsburgh Penguins, it's considered normal guy
behavior. He could name his child "Pittsburgh Penguin Johnson" and be
considered only mildly eccentric. There is something wrong with this.

Before you accuse me of being some kind of sherry-sipping,
ascot-wearing, ballet-attending, MacNeil-Lehrer- Report-watching wimp,
please note that I am a sports guy myself, having had a legendary
athletic career consisting of nearly one-third of the 1965 season on the
track team at Pleasantville High School ("Where the Leaders of Tomorrow
are Leaving Wads of Gum on the Auditorium Seats of Today"). I competed
in the long jump because it seemed to be the only event where afterward
you didn't fall down and throw up. I probably would have become an
Olympic-caliber long-jumper except that, through one of thoss bad breaks
so common in sports, I turned out to have the raw leaping ability of a
convenience store. I'd race down the runway and attempt to soar into
the air, but instead of going up, I'd be seized by powerful gravity rays
and yanked -downward-, winding up with just my head sticking out of the
dirt and serving as a convenient marker for the other jumpers to take
off from. So I was not Jim Thorpe, but I care as much about sports as
the next guy.

If you were to put me in the middle of a room, and in one corner was
Albert Einstein, in another corner was Abraham Lincoln, in another
corner was Plato, in another corner was William Shakespeare and in
another corner (this room is a pentagon) was a TV set showing a football
game between teams that have no connection whatsoever with my life, such
as the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts, I would ignore the
greatest minds in Western thought, gravitate toward the TV and become
far more concerned about the game than I am about my child's education.

SO WOULD THE OTHER GUYS, I guarantee it. Within minutes, Plato would be
pounding Lincoln on the shoulder and shouting in ancient Greek that the
receiver did -not- have both feet inbounds. Obviously, sports connect
with something deeply rooted in the male psyche, something prehistoric,
when guys survived by hunting and fighting and needed many of the skills
exhibited by modern athletes -- running, throwing, spitting,
renegotiating their contracts and adjusting their private parts on
nation-wide television.

That would explain how come guys like to participate. But how come they
care so much about games played by other guys? Does this also date back
to prehistoric times? When the hunters were out hurling spears into
mastodons, were there also prehistoric guys watching from the hills,
drinking prehistoric beer, eating really bad prehistoric hot dogs and
shouting "We're No. 1!" but not understanding what it meant because
this was before the development of mathematics? There must have been,
because there is no other explanation for the following bizarre

* Sports-talk radio, where guys who have never sent get-well cards to
their mothers will express heart-felt, near-suicidal anguish over the
hamstring problems of strangers.

* My editor, Gene, who can remember the complete New York Yankees
starting lineups from 1960 through 1964 but who routinely dials a number
on the phone and forgets who he's calling. When somebody answers, Gene
has to ask who it is and whether this person happens to know the purpose
of the call.

* Another guy in my office, John, who appears to be a normal middle-
aged husband and father until you realize that he spends most of his
waking hours managing a -pretend baseball team-. This is true. He and
other guys have formed a league in which they pay money to "draft"
major-league players, then they have their pretend teams play a whole
pretend season, complete with trades, legalistic memorandums and heated
disputes over the rules.

This is crazy, right? If these guys said they were managing herds of
pretend caribou, the authorities would be squirting lithium down their
throats with turkey basters. Yet we all act as if it's perfectly
normal. In fact, eavesdropping from my office, I find myself getting
involved in John's discussions. That's how pathetic I am: I'm capable
of caring about a pretend sports team that's not even my own pretend
sports team.

So I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm thinking it's time I got
perspective in my life. Right after the Super Bowl, I'm going to pay
more attention to the things that should matter to me: my work, my
friends and, above all my family, especially my little boy, Philadelphia
Phillies Barry.