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Cold-Button Issues
Steve Rushin
September 29, 2003
I cannot look at a story on Phil Mickelson's failure to win a major golf tournament without wanting to pluck out my eyes, plunge them repeatedly into a tee box ball washer and screw them, squeaking, back into their sockets, in the hope that something new and exciting will have been brought to this stale tale. But the story is always the same.
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September 29, 2003

Cold-button Issues

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I cannot look at a story on Phil Mickelson's failure to win a major golf tournament without wanting to pluck out my eyes, plunge them repeatedly into a tee box ball washer and screw them, squeaking, back into their sockets, in the hope that something new and exciting will have been brought to this stale tale. But the story is always the same.

Likewise, the mere mention of the Montreal Expos—and the uncertain fate of that travel-weary franchise—bores me literally to tears, so that whenever I read a headline like EXPOS' FUTURE REALLY IS "UP IN THE AIR" my eyes develop the kind of double-glazing recommended by window salesmen for energy efficiency.

Such stories—think violence in the Middle East or flooding in the Middle West—never change. Yet they pop up maddeningly often, like a New York Met with two outs and runners on the corners. They are, in short, the stories we are sick of hearing but will continue to hear as long as we live. Or longer, in the case of Ted Williams, whose own postmodern postmortem is in danger of becoming one of these nevergreens.

The question "Does Pete Rose belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame?" is as persistent as crabgrass but less interesting. Simply seeing it, here on the page, now fills me with an existential ennui, the boredom-induced despair common to long-haul Greyhound passengers.

What we need is a 12-month moratorium—a Jim Moratorium—on the most repetitive stories in sports, named for the former Saints and Colts coach whose shouting jags in postgame press conferences became a weekly staple of SportsCenter.

Accordingly, I propose a one-year ban on reporting anything that happens during the week of the Super Bowl—excluding, of course, the Super Bowl itself, on which I'd impose a two-year ban.

My spirit momentarily flees my body, and hovers specterlike above my head, when I read about the Los Angeles Clippers' chronic reluctance to retain their free agents. Owner Donald Sterling's two decades of skinflintery instills in me the same kind of catatonia I get from extended exposure to public-access television.

Is there a New Englander over age 25 who hasn't appeared, bathed in sepia tones, in one documentary or another about the Curse of the Bambino? In Boston citizens summoned to jury duty are likewise legally compelled to recall for reporters their memories of Game 6.

This is the real Curse of the Bambino: that those with no interest in the Red Sox will never stop hearing about the team's inability to win the World Series. Bill Buckner moved to Idaho to escape Bill Buckner stories. Pity that the Potato State doesn't have room for the rest of us.

In Groundhog Day the weatherman played by Cubs fan Bill Murray is condemned to a lifetime of identical days. So too, in a way, are all sports fans, sentenced to hear on a near-daily basis about the Cubs' centurylong streak of futility, a story frequently twinned with the White Sox' own epic of ineptitude. As a result we can read every morning—just before falling facedown in our Froot Loops—that North Side yuppies sip chardonnay while South Side teamsters take a shot and a beer.

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