Saturday, October 4, 2008

My Sports Life is a Rock Song: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Ah, Metallica. Despite their having sucked for nearly 18 years--20 if you listen to the diehards, the ones still wearing their '82 tour shirts and tinkering with engines on blocks in their kitchens--dudes my age retain a special spot for Lars and the lads and have a hard time letting go of the past. The glorious, Cliff 'Em All past.

Every once in a while, I just find myself saying "Master of puppets is pulling your strings!" under my breath, usually during meetings at work, while unconsciously uncorking a lil' air guitar under the table. And I'm not alone--if you liked the heavy music in the '80s, whether metal or punk or what have you, you didn't just like the Metallica, you loved them. Loved them with the kind of love your parents wish you'd reserved for homework or church or sobriety.

And if, say, you grew up in a relatively dull and desolate place--maybe the empty gray plains of northern Colorado, for argument's sake--chances are you thought of them as something larger. Something somehow more meaningful than yourself, a representative version of your own pimply angst cranked past 11.

All of which makes the band's current corporate, personal humidor-on-tour version almost surreal in its wrongness; this used to be a stubbornly, defiantly anti-corporate outfit, choosing not to make videos or play nice on tour with acts like Ratt. They were just four dudes who fucking bashed it, grinding out songs like "Battery" and "Creeping Death" for the benefit of a similarly unpretentious group of fans, many of whom needed showers. Now?

Now I'm ashamed to say that I once saw them play Red Rocks with The Cult--and helped to boo The Cult offstage. I'm ashamed that my youthful fandom of such works of metal genius as ...And Justice For All somehow paved the way for Load and Reload.

But still the vestiges linger. So when I contemplate my Chicago Cubs' likely post-season demise, I solemnly hum to myself that ancient dirge of my black t-shirted youth "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

As with all early Metallica, that's a deceptively heavy number, huge guitar crunch on a time signature somewhere over Iron Maiden and behind Slayer. It's also a depressing, end-times stare into the abyss from the point of view of soldiers about to die in a firefight. (As well as the title of a book by Hemingway and a poem by John Donne.)

And well, other than the soldiers bit, it might have been written by Lou Piniella.

Because those historic Cubs, the team that should be cruising past this bullshit, taped-together Dodgers squad, is in danger of finding itself, once again, in their historically familiar position of Loser.

And not just in the usual, expected, kinda-loser stance they tend to adopt, oh no. Big Loser. Huge Loser. Fuckup of Historic Proportion Loser. A team doesn't finish with the best record in the major leagues, following a largely dominant regular season--a regular season in which said team demonstrated repeatedly that it had the kind of makeup that finally at long last breaks century-long streaks of abject fucking futility--and then roll over to Manny Being Manny and the Manager Formerly Known as Joe Torre without earning that capital L.

Now, could they still salvage things? Could Harden take it to the suddenly invincible Dodgers in LA tonight, in a matchup against Kuroda that I like (even though he shut us out in a 4-hitter earlier in the season)? Could that be the spark that turns this 5-game House of Nightmares into the House of Guilt-Free Handjobs?

Well, yeah. It's possible. But I'm a Cubs fan, for fuck's sake. I don't think that way. It's over, oh God. We're all gonna die.


Unknown said...


Good stuff.

Oh no, the Cubs won't make it. Is that even news worthy?

Well boyz, how 'bout them Chiefs? Wow.

We're gonna end up with a better draft pick than I'd imagined. Can't wait for Carl and Herm to blow that one.

-- TLR

P.S. At least we've got that win over the Broncos under our belts. I can't wait to make it a season sweep.

Unknown said...

By the way, the Lightning gonna make their run this year?

It's the Habs' 100th anniversary ... destiny?

What's your prognosis, Banky?