I think we can all agree that the situation with the scab referees in the NFL has gotten out of hand. They're clearly terrible, to the point of ruining games, and so we need to send a signal to the NFL that it's unacceptable that this labor unrest drags on. By this I of course mean that YOU need to send a signal, because I can't possibly stop watching the Vikings. I'm not even sure I like watching the Purple, particularly, because every week I look at the schedule and say to myself with a sigh, "Well, I guess I'd better not plan to do anything Sunday afternoon, since we're the noon game this week." It feels like a sentence, especially when the Vikings are awful, but it hardly occurs to me to stop - or that others have avoided this particular feeling.
Intellectually, I realize that there are probably millions of people in the immediate metro area who do not watch the Vikings, who could not care less about their exploits, and who are free to spend their Sundays burning ants with a magnifying glass or whatever it is non-Vikings fans do with their time. Even so, in my mind I always imagine that every family in Minnesota is huddled around the television when the team is on the field. Austin Murphy, in his book "The Sweet Season," describes trick-or-treating with his kids during a Vikings game, where he discovered that following the exploits of Jeff George and company was perfectly possible while on the sidewalks, since every house they stopped at was watching the game and had inhabitants that were perfectly happy to provide game updates. I know it's not true for everybody, everywhere, but I can't help but imagine that's what the entire state is like. I went to the grocery store during the second quarter last week, and was shocked to find that not only was the store not broadcasting the game over the P.A. system, the store was genuinely crowded with people who were shopping and did not have a radio crammed into their ear like I did.
I suppose that's why I'm so unwilling to miss Vikings game; in my head, I imagine that all Minnesota is Vikings fandom, and so if I should miss a game, then I won't be able to discuss the pathetic state of the Viking secondary in detail, something that could cause me to be branded as a dangerous eccentric and possibly as a freedom-hating, anti-American potential terrorist - or worse, as a Cheesehead. This sort of thing has never happened yet, but I fear that it's coming.
So if you wouldn't mind, please figure out a way to let the league know you're not going to watch football until the owners stop allowing the replacement refs to make it actively awful. I can't do it. I need to have specific insults for Harrison Smith ready to go for Monday. No, I'm not sure why. I'm just sure that I will.
*On with the links:
*If you haven't seen it, Tim Keown profiled Joe Mauer for ESPN the Magazine, and it's nothing short of fascinating. Mauer comes across as incredibly even-keeled - so much so that I'm starting to worry that his lack of celebration is a result of an epic level of unhappiness.
*Ben Polk at A Wolf Among Wolves writes about the supposed 'whiteness' of the Timberwolves, and how it's really not the truth. I have been arguing this for awhile, but Polk sums it up with the phrase that makes the whole article worthwhile: "the Stockton-Hornacek-Ostertag matrix." Beautiful.
*I found this history of the great cricketers of Philadelphia at the turn of the last century, by David Mutton, to be remarkably fascinating. Maybe you don't like cricket, but if you like well-written and spotlessly-researched sports history, you'll like this.
*And finally: I'm just glad that I finally found the greatest article in NFL, and possibly internet, history.