Tag: Insane Literary Experiments

Varitekian Sonnets

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Recently, a collection of sonnets in the Shakespearean form were submitted to this site for review. They were not solicited, and despite our multiple entreaties for him to stop, the submitter sent multiple versions multiple times, both electronically and via post, and often with poorly Photoshopped images suggesting poor moral character. The submitter left it unclear as to whether he wrote the sonnets himself, was submitting them on someone’s behalf, or had taken these sonnets without the author’s permission.

We here at Nerds On Sports have decided to make the most of these submissions and taken a critical eye toward them. This is the first of the whole collection, as well as the start of an introductory subset which the submitter referred to as the “recreation sonnets.”

Sonnet 1

No longer will the captain make his trek,
A walk of solace from home plate to mound:
To meditate on throws did Varitek –
Whence pitcher’s victims whiffed or cursed  aloud.

Four times opponents did score zeros twice1,
And Captain’s ‘rouse with applied glove to face2
The shame of  A-Rod! And new rings! – Quite nice,
Yet how I’ll miss your crouch behind home base.

O  Captain, hitting switch is but a tease.
Must you tell me how better it will get?3
There’s need to learn to catch, if you would please,
A happy player if we ever met.

No4 single, only a grand slam will do.
A  highly scoring game with love so true.

1 ie A no-hitter
2 An obvious reference to the July 24, 2004 game
3 http://youtu.be/TGcY_ip3w7g
4 A few versions of this sonnet had this as “Now” instead of “No,” possibly suggesting that part of it was written following Varitek’s divorce. However, the majority and most recent sonnet had it as is.

The sonnet follows the traditional form, with the first two quatrains establishing Jason Varitek as the hero, the “Captain,” the leader of the Red Sox who ultimately achieved their long-sought goal of winning the World Series. But by the end of the second quatrain, the sonnet moves away from the establishment of Varitek’s pietas and toward the author’s view of him.

The thematic turn, or volta, comes into full force at the beginning of the third quatrain, when the author entreats the hero for a closer relationship. While spelled out clearly in this quatrain and the couplet, this is hinted at throughout the poem, especially with the use of “rouse” in line six. Ostensibly, this is referring to Varitek rallying his teammates to overcome the Yankees and to evenutally lead the former into what would be an epic post-season. But this could also refer to getting the crowd excited for the game. Or for one fan in particular and in a very specific fashion, spelled out in the final couplet. Indeed, the remainder of the sonnets get exceedingly more graphic and are unpublishable for a family-oriented blog such as this.

Judgment Day


FADE IN: TOM BRADY, MICHELLE TAFOYA and MATT CASSEL driving in a truck across the desert.

BRADY: The Super Bowl is scheduled. The system goes online September 9, 2007. Human decisions are removed from play calling. Belichick begins to learn at a geometric rate. He becomes self-aware at 6:30 PM Eastern time, February 3, 2008. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

TAFOYA: Belichick fights back.

BRADY: Yes. It launches a gadget play against the targets in the Giants’ secondary.

CASSEL: Why the Giants? Didn’t we already beat them in the regular season?



FADE IN: LAURENCE MARONEY and WES WELKER running laps up the steps of an empty Foxboro Stadium.

I have extensive files.TAFOYA (v.o.): 31 teams’ hopes ended on February 3, 2008. The survivors of the perfect season called it Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Belichick, sent a Quarterback back through time. Its mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, Eli Manning.


FADE IN: PEYTON MANNING sitting in an interrogation room. JOE BUCK and JAMES BROWN stand around with looks of skepticism on their face.

PEYTON MANNING: You still don’t get it, do you? He’ll score on him. That’s what he does. That’s all he does. You can’t stop him! He’ll stand in the pocket, throw the outside route, and score six touchdowns!

BUCK: Why didn’t you bring any weapons, something more advanced?

PEYTON MANNING: Listen, and understand. Tom Brady is out there. He can’t be bargained with. he can’t be reasoned with. He doesn’t feel pity, remorse or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until the fourth quarter is over.


FADE IN: MICHELLE TAFOYA crawls backwards on her hands through the wreckage of a destroyed nightclub as MICHAEL STRAHAN stalks toward her slowly. He reaches a clear space and is about to charge … when suddenly he’s SLAMMED from the side by MATT LIGHT.

STRAHAN flies through a wall, hits a lamp post outside, and EXPLODES.

LIGHT (to Tafoya): Come with me if you want to live.


FADE IN: In a dingy basement, MICHELLE TAFOYA helps TOM BRADY take his pads off. MATT CASSEL studies plays on a clipboard.

TAFOYA: Does it hurt when you get sacked?

BRADY: My body senses lost yards; the data would be called “pain.”

TAFOYA examines the wrap on BRADY’s ankle.

TAFOYA: Will this heal up?


TAFOYA: Good, because you’re no good to us if you break down easily.

CASSEL: Can you learn about things that you haven’t been programmed with, so you can be, you know, more human and not just a dork all the time?

BRADY (indicating play sheet on his wristband): My play sheet is a neural net processor, a learning computer. The more contact I have with humans, the more I learn.


FADE IN: TOM BRADY throws a football on the practice field, bulls-eyeing RANDY MOSS from one hundred yards away. MATT CASSEL scampers around like a twelve-year-old boy, eagerly pitching replacement balls to BRADY.

You’re terminated.TAFOYA (voice-over): Watching Matt with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. Tom Brady would never stop, he would never get injured. He would never blame his teammates or his coach or use the press to attack the franchise. And he would die before Matt took a snap in regular season play. Of all the would-be perfect quarterbacks that came over the years, this one – this machine – was the only thing that measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.


FADE IN: ELI MANNING stumbles backward along a gantry above a pit of molten steel. He turns and sees TOM BRADY stalking behind him, a football in his hand.

BRADY: Hasta la vista … Eli.

BRADY throws the ball through ELI MANNING’s head. It splits in a burst of LIQUID METAL. Flailing, ELI MANNING falls back into the pit of molten steel and BEGINS TO MELT.



February 3, 2008

Judgment Day

This is the 4th installment in today’s PICKSTRAVAGANZA by the Nerds on Sports staff. Check back on the hour from 11 AM to 4 PM for more “insight” from the nerds.

Success Isn’t Blessed In The BCS Mess


Crystal Footballtrain wreck

First SoCal and Geaux Tigers had their toes in the door
Then Stanford shocked SoCal, the doormats no more!
So Just Cal moved to 2nd in all football land
(Thanks a ton, Cardinal, and again for the band!)

But Just Cal stumbled when Kevin Riley slipped
On a junior high brainfart when his legs took a trip
Now Just Cal is gone and what the hell? LSU?
Kentucky in three OTs leaves them feeling blue Read More

The Core Stories of Sports


From an audience perspective, sport is all about narrative. A game between two competitive teams can be exciting; a game between age-old rivals gets people on their feet. The ability of a fan, or a writer or a commentator, to slot the players into existing tropes and assemble a story makes the game worth remembering.

Read enough Sports Illustrated and, over time, you’ll find three recurring stories that drag out the hoariest cliches but still continue to inspire us. Today, I’m going to put my English degree to use and run down these Core Sports Stories. I’ll also point out some real and fictional examples of each Story so you can follow along at home.

The Underdog Makes Good

Tagline: Nobody believed in them – until they believed in themselves.

What It Is: A team that no one expects to amount to anything suddenly goes on a winning tear. Alternatively: a team that’s pretty good playing against a grievously favored opponent. They’re outmassed and outclassed in every way possible but they still go on to win.

Why It Works: We all feel like losers sometimes. We all have obstacles in our life that are bigger, tougher and more established than we are. It’s invigorating to know that those obstacles can still be knocked down.

Real-World Examples: The 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey “Miracle on Ice”

Fictional Examples: Rocky, Rudy, David and Goliath

Sport As Redemption

Tagline: He’d lost it all … then he found hope.

What It Is: A loser, a crook or a villain is loudly and universally ostracized by the fans and press. He then goes on to win and all is forgiven.

Why It Works: If the last two thousand years of western civilization are any indicator, we’re all looking for redemption. I’m not sure that a 40-HR season is what the Scripture had in mind, but it’s much more entertaining.

Real-World Examples: David Beckham (several times), Ray Lewis, Kobe Bryant.

Fictional Examples: Hoosiers, Rocky III, The Longest Yard

The Birth of Something Beautiful

Tagline: He was the greatest they’d ever seen.

What It Is: A rookie comes out of nowhere and goes on to be the greatest.

Why It Works: Bragging rights. By telling this story, you get the right to say “I knew him back when.” You catch the train at the first station and you ride it all the way to its end.

Real-World Examples: LeBron James, Tom Brady.

Fictional Examples: The Natural

Honorable Mention: Money Ruins Everything (1919 Chicago White Sox); All Glory is Fleeting (Mohammed Ali).

Homer’s Youkissey Continued

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HomerThis is a continuation of Homer’s Youkissey

[44]Then the oft overlooked Mets replied “Father of all baseball, resident of New York, highest of all baseball teams, aye, verily that Red Sox lies low in a destruction that is their due; so too may any other also be destroyed who also be cursed (like the Cubs). But my heart is torn for wise Youkilis, hapless man, who far from his friends has long been suffering woes in a Rhode isle, where is the navel of Narragansett. It is a state of smallest representation*, and therein dwells a AAA team, daughter of the International League, who was born of 3 leagues — Eastern, New York, and Ontario, and holds tall the Governors’ Cup.

[55]This daughter it is that keeps back the sorrowing man; and ever with soft and hope-filled words she beguiles him that he may forget the majors. But Youkilis, after visiting the majors but sent back, yearns to return to his home, wants to quit baseball**. Yet you baseball teams take no heed of this. Did not Youkilis when in his debut hit a home run. Why then didst thou conceive such wrath against him, O lords of baseball?

[63]Then Selig, lap-dog of all owners, answered them: “My child, what a word has escaped the barrier of they teeth? How should I, then forget “god of walks”-like Youkilis, who is beyond all minor league mortals in consecutive games in which a player reached base, and has paid sacrifice to our Jewish god in Heaven? Nay, it is Bill Mueller, 2003 AL batting champion, who is blocking his advancement to the Bigs. Mueller, the double-grand slammer***, does not keep Youkilis in the minors forever. But come, let us who are here all take though of his return to the majors, that he may come home; and Mueller will retire, for he is on in age, and can not contend with youth.”

[80]Then the oft overlooked Mets answered him: “Father of all baseball, resident of New York, highest of all baseball teams, if indeed this is now well pleasing to the baseball gods, that wise Youkilis should return to the majors, let us send forth Joe Bick, the agent, his agent, to the isle Rhode, that with all speed he may sign a major league contract and the return of Youkilis of the steadfast eye, that he may come home. But, as for me, I will go to Queens, that I may the more entice Pedro Martinez, and free up some salary room for the Red Sox. I will guide him to New York, where he will receive tidings of his father****, if haply he may hear of it.”

*2 Congressmen & 2 Senators
**Probably not true
***I hope you remember that: from both sides of the plate.
****”Who’s your daddy?

Homer’s Youkissey

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Kevin Youkilis with a SwordNot to be outdone by Peiseresque‘s Epic of Gil (ga) Meche, I have started my own crazy epic poem: The Youkisy. This is both a response to Peiseresque and a submission of sorts to Red Sox Chick’s contest.

Homer’s Youkisey

[1]Tell me, O Selig, of the man of many devices, who wandered full many ways after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Lowell. Many were the men whose cities he saw and whose mind he learned, aye, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the majors, seeking to win his own life and the New York-Penn League Crown of his comrades. Yet even so he saved not his comrades, though he desired it sore, for through their own blind folly they perished–fools, who devoured the kine of New York Yankees; but he took from them a many of skills. Of these things, god, daughter of Marie Huber Selig, beginning where thou wilt, tell thou even unto us. Read More

I’m Going to Euro Disney

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“Now that you’ve won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to Euro Disney”

Ok, I don’t think it would go down like that. Actually I don’t think anyone should ever say “I’m going to Euro Disney” and mean it. It’s Euro Disney (Well, renamed to Disneyland Resort Paris) for chrissake. A French journalist wrote:
George Bush With Mouse Ears

…a horror made of cardboard, plastic and appalling colors, a construction of hardened chewing gum and idiotic folklore taken straight out of comic books written for obese Americans.

Disney may not have a good name in Europe, but the people, the obese Americans, at the National Football League do. (Have you seen an offensive line recently? They have average weights above 300 lbs.) Or so the NFL would have us believe they have a good name. They are in some preliminary investigations with Europe… I picture this as a noir style investigation (also it’s Tagliabue not Goodell doing the investigation in my mind because I think “P.I. P. Tagliabue” would look better on the frosted glass window to a Private Investigator’s office.): Read More

On-Base Percentage / “The Bubble”

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Two crucial posts from elsewhere in Internovia:

1. From Fire Joe Morgan, the blog that wants ESPN to fire, well, inept baseball commentator Joe Morgan:

[sez Morgan] “but that’s how people compare statistics. My point is you can’t compare things with statistics.”

Think about that, people. “You can’t compare things with statistics.”

Exactly what, one might be tempted to ask, as one’s hands were shaking so badly one would think one had just survived an assassination attempt, might one use to compare things? Metaphor? How about the infallible human memory? Or perhaps poesy?

Much have I traveled, in realms of gold
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen
Round many Western Islands have I been,
And I have observed some stuff about some shortstops
Bill Hall did not have a monster year
Derek Jeter has a calmer set of eyes
David Eckstein is super clutch
Please don’t show me statistics that disprove my observations

2. Via Mahalanobis (which I typically don’t even read for sports), the following:

Watching the NFL (ie, real football for non-Americans) draft last weekend, they would often mention some prospect “has a good bubble”. I didn’t know exactly what they were talking about, but got confirmation on the radio today. It means they have a good–big–butt. As the gluteus maximus, or buttock muscle, is the largest muscle in the human body, it is useful signal of overall musculature.