Advertisements

Tag Archive: Albert Pujols


By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

This is not an eye-catching lede or a crazy supposition, this is a fact: the only way that Batman could beat Superman would be if Superman didn’t try.  If you read the first six pages of the first issue of writer/creator Mark Waid and artist Peter Krause’s comic Irredeemable (or the first six pages of the trade paperback, which tends to be what I collect these days) you would see that basic scenario laid out in graphic detail as the Plutonian faces the Hornet.  (You can see a free digital preview of these six pages now at comixology.com).

Of course, I’m biased.  I’m one of the rare Superman fans as opposed to Bats.  I like Green Lantern over Green Arrow.  (The obvious parallels break down when I try to shift to Marvel heroes.  Captain America?  A favorite, but not quite in the power realm of GL and Supes).  I obviously have a thing for the ultimate Boy Scouts.  I like the characters that have to hold back, that can’t give it their all, because if they did, someone would die.  (Don’t bother trying to make me think Kryptonite and the color yellow make a difference in stopping Big Blue and Lantern.  They only exist because no one knows what to do with characters this powerful.  Lex Luthor?  As Douglas Adams would say, “Mostly Harmless,” with Lex’s only good plan being the one he devised in Kingdom Come.  That’s not a coincidence that Mark Waid wrote it and that it’s my favorite Superman story).

Supes and Lantern vs. Batman = overkill?

That’s why the first trade paperback of Irredeemable is so refreshing.  What would happen if one of the ultimate heroes lost his ever-loving mind?  (We saw glimpses of it when Hal Jordan became Parallax and I probably need to go back to read that to see if it needs to be added to my list of great stories).  When all a hero has is his (or her) sense of right and wrong to guide them, when all they have are the rules of society and the rules they make for themselves (right, Doctor?¹) to keep from doing harm, it’s a tenuous link.  When a hero is the nearest thing to a living God, the only thing that can stop the hero is another God, a hell of a lot of luck, or themselves.

Batman? Who is Batman?

I think the same is true of the great sports heroes and why I love to root for them.  It’s amazing to watch a truly skilled athlete do what he does best.  To watch Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols hit in their prime is a kind of living masterpiece.  To watch Tiger Woods make a golf course seem obsolete is a thrill of human achievement.  Well, it’s true while they are young.  Unfortunately, like all humans, sports heroes have to grow old.  It eventually ends.  It always ends.

Those tears are tears of joy, aren’t they Supes? Batman is dead… long live Superman!

But, again, I’m in the minority.  How do I know this for certain?  Well, I have the great guys at Radiolab to thank for that information.  We, as humans, root, root, root for the underdog 80% of the time and if they don’t win it’s a shame.  We generally like to see the 15 seeds beat 2 seeds.  We generally like to see upsets in the Super Bowl or college bowl games.  We generally like to see the Yankees or the Red Sox and all their piles of money lose.  We like to think that Batman, the ultimate in human intellect and training could beat the Kryptonian Superman like in The Dark Knight Returns that C.J. Bunce and Art Schmidt mentioned in their favorites worthy of adaptation

Most people like the underdog.

So, when athletes age, when they pass 30 and the leap out of bed in the morning gradually changes into swinging your legs over the side and pausing, taking that moment, before rising.  The moment becomes longer.  The hands move to the edge of the mattress to give that little extra push.  The body bends forward so that the momentum of straightening helps to propel the body into space.  The body that used to rush headlong into the day now stands before it in repose, knowing it will be there when the time comes to make the forward push into the stream of activity.  Part of that pause comes from experience, from the idea that savoring those moments of calm and serenity helps to make the frantic moments acceptable, but part is that little voice in the back of the head that knows that one day the body won’t respond because as much as the mind won’t want to admit to growing old, it notices.  It always notices.

Carried off the field = good. Helped off the field = bad.

We grow old.  We watch our athletic heroes grow old and have to leave the game.  We watch our intellectual and artistic heroes do the same, but the curve isn’t as dramatic and those heroes continue to amaze us and give us hope that we can stay amazing ourselves.  Our fictional heroes remain the same though.  They are immortal.  But, of the immortals, only a couple of them are Gods.  If they ever break that trust that we have in them, that’s when they become “Irredeemable.”

1.  I think this is one of the reasons that I can’t get behind Rory Williams and his relationship with Amy Pond.  I root for the Doctor.  I root for him to be happy.  The relationship with Amy Pond seemed like it could have been the one.  But, that’s because I’m finite.  There can never be a true human “one” for a Gallifreyan.  Still, boo Rory.

To quote Nathan Petrelli to brother Peter in “Heroes”–“The world needs nurses, too.”

2.  I always think C.J. and I get along so well because our interests intersect so much, but are so different.  He’s a Green Arrow guy and I’m a Green Lantern dude.  We obviously differ on Alan Moore.  We still have to discuss The Shawshank Redemption vs. The Green Mile.

Advertisements

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

Hi!  It’s been a while.  How are you?  I’m fine.  Now.  After a month long mourning period that we now have to address even though it borders on the very edges of what borg.com talks about.

It’s sports.  In particular, it’s Albert Pujols.

In fact it’s (censored)ing Al(censored)bert Poo(censored)holes (censored) (censored) chorizo-flavored (censored) (censored) pine-scented (censored) (censored) lump of (censored) (censored) stoat (censored).

I know, I know.  It’s not like the old studio days for movies or the old times in the land of baseball where the “owners” could get the “workers” to act or play for however little they wanted or ban them entirely.  It’s freedom.  It’s the free market.  It’s getting paid now what you deserved when you first made it big.

Doesn’t mean I’m not going to pout about it for a month.  So there.

Pujols rare Topps original sketch trading card

Since I write for this site it should be obvious that I’m not an owner.  I’m a fan.  I’m a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, science fiction, comic books, novels, thunderstorms, warm days at the beach, hikes in the mountains, sushi, large pizzas and tall brunettes.  With respect to the Cardinals, I’m going to miss Pujols being a part of my team.

There you have the magic phrase.  My team.  Substitute “team” for any piece of entertainment: “TV show,” “movie,” “book series,” “comic,” etc.  Once an artist has created a work, unless they don’t want to be paid, they release it to the public.  At that point, each person that consumes the piece of art owns it in some way.

Maybe “owns” is a bit strong.  How about “possesses”?  Fans possess the work with their own connotations and meanings that are representative of their life up to that point.

Autographed Pujols MVP ball

If I were to ask what Albert Pujols meant to baseball fans, I would get different answers from each one.  Some would say the greatest first baseman since Lou Gehrig.  Others would say the greatest first baseman ever, since Gehrig didn’t play in an integrated game, fWAR or rWAR be damned.  Others might point to an individual statistic like .328 (career batting average), 445 (career home runs) or three (number of MVP awards).  Some might point to his faith and his work with charities.  Every person would have a different point of view and none would be the same as Albert’s own.
Lou Gehrig autographed ball

Lou Gehrig autographed ball

What if I did the same for the Star Wars franchise?  What if I asked you about the career of Harrison Ford and how would your answer be different if I asked you in 1989 compared to 2012?  What if I asked you about the first movie you ever saw with your current significant other?  How do you feel about that movie and the actors in it?  What about the favorite TV show that you view with that special someone, once a week, when you sit close and enjoy the company of each other and those people on the screen in your living room?  I’m sure each question to each person would get a very different response. Heck, some people might say that they wish Harrison Ford had done more movies like Regarding Henry.  They’d be wrong, but they might say it.

Ford and beagle friend in Regarding Henry

Around the same time as Albert Pujols shot my heart through with a poison arrow (and you think sports fans aren’t just drama queens waiting to happen), I finished reading A Feast for Crows.  I’ve talked about the other books in the series that I have read so far, but darn it, you put thousands of pages in front of me with well-defined characters and at some point I’m going to get fed up like I have with Harrison Ford in his last fifteen years of work.  LIGHT TO MEDIUM SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

How is there no Tyrion?  Yes, I know, the next book, I read the epilogue, but still, Tyrion!  Tyrion!  I want my Tyrion!  Waawaaaaaaaaa.  You introduce about a thousand new characters to be subjects of chapters and no Tyrion?  Waaaaaa.  What about Brienne of Tarth!  She’s about to get hanged.  Are you going to kill everyone we love?  (With Mr. George R. R. Martin, it could go either way – so I won’t put it as a definite that she is dead.)  Come on!  She can’t die.  Waaaaaaaa.

I have no creative input into the series except for the consumption of it, if you can call imagining how the characters look, move and act in your mind as you read a creative act.  (I do.)  I possess the characters with my viewpoints, with my motivations and my love.  I want to spend time with them.  I don’t want to see them go.  I don’t write fan fiction (yet) but it makes sense as a natural outgrowth of the fandom that consumers of art have.

I’m sure that compulsion for fan fiction is even worse when there’s no hope for further adventures after the lack of a conclusion. For the TV show Terriers (available to watch instantly on Netflix) I will never get to see anything further from Hank and Britt.  Sure, after a few years, maybe the official people behind the series will get a movie like the folks from Party Down or maybe Netflix will reunite them to do the show again like for Arrested Development.  I’m not holding my breath.  The only thing I’ll hold my breath for is a return of Community.  I still hope there will be three more seasons and a movie.  But, I know there is a strong chance that it has already disappeared the same way as Jaye Tyler and Wonderfalls did.

We all really miss Jaye Tyler and Wonderfalls

Did you just notice what I did in those few paragraphs?  I just jumped the gulf between reality and fiction.  Is how I view Albert Pujols and Harrison Ford different than how I view Brienne or Hank Dolworth and Britt Pollack?  Is getting weirded out by Tom Cruise after he jumps on a couch different from feeling a pang in your stomach when Peter Parker dies in Ultimate Spider-Man?  I know none of those people personally and doubt I’ll ever meet them.  Through media coverage of the real ones and the creative talents of writers and artists on the fictional ones, we feel we know them.  We possess them with our viewpoint and they can enhance our love or betray it with each successive appearance in the public eye.

Artists may think that the possession is strange, but without it, without those strong connections they created in us, would we consume their art?  Probably not.  Do we throw a hissy fit when the values we’ve ascribed to their characters fall by the wayside as the artist creates a storyline that diverges in tone but makes them creatively happy?  Absolutely.  The artist gets to do whatever they want as that is the beauty of freedom. As a fan, I’m free to give my entertainment dollars to other people and leave it at that.  Right or wrong, it’s how things work.  We trust the good artists though and we will stay with them to see what they have in mind as long as they don’t do something idiotic like sign with the Anaheim Angels or air a show that focuses on tattoos and Bai Ling.  Once we leave, we can find new things worthy of possession and maybe it will be the next best thing ever.  Until we find that next best thing, we just have to be sure not to move from possession to attempted ownership as I think that would be called kidnapping and is illegal in all 50 states.  But, is it ever tempting to try to drag Albert Pujols back to St. Louis.