Apparently summer is here and that means the NHL playoffs will be going strong well into June and Major League Baseball is in full swing. No pun intended. This summer I decided to try and endear myself to hockey and baseball again. I watched with great interest as the Toronto Maple Leafs managed to self-destruct. Oddly enough, a woman in Toronto is such a huge Leafs fan she decided to give her nine year old daughter a third name in honour of the club. What kid wants to be called ‘Choke’? I soon realized why I had turned my back on Canada’s sport long ago. Between periods some journalist always asks a player what his thoughts are about the game. Have you ever actually listened to the dribble of these hockey players?
From between what few teeth they have remaining the same old line is delivered to the camera as the usual bead of sweat rolls off the crooked nose of the unshaven athlete. “Well, you know we gotta get some pucks on net. They’re a good team so we gotta work harder and skate.” Wow. What intrigue! What insight! Imagine that, trying to shoot the puck at the net which may result in a goal which is the point of the game in the first place not to mention that one must use skates to travel towards said net. If the mindless chatter of the players isn’t enough to give you a Maalox moment the game itself will. High-sticking, tripping, cross-checking, fighting, cheap shots and vile language — and that’s just the fans. I compare watching the NHL to so-called professional wrestling. As mentioned, scoring and skating have taken a backseat to assault and battery on the ice. Here’s what really disgusts me about hockey — the spitting. Can’t these testosterone- filled goons of the violent Ice Capades go one second without ejecting saliva?
Now I understand why these guys are so ill tempered. They’re dehydrated all the time. You don’t see spitting in other sports save baseball. The NBA would have to stop the game every few minutes to bring out the Mop n Glo squad. Think of golf. It is elitist but at least those men know enough not to slobber on their clothes which is what golf is truly about; fashion and a waste of land. I mentioned baseball. Without alcohol it is actually one of the most boring sports ever invented. Major League Baseball knows it’s boring so that’s why the television cameras consistently capture images of the players spitting, chewing sunflower seeds and scratching their junk. Even the players are bored! That is why they spit, chew and scratch. Have you ever noticed the fans at a baseball game? They’re looking everywhere but at the field. Even they’re bored because they are too far away to see the spitting, chewing and scratching. Tuning in to a Blue Jays game the other night I was astonished at just how long it takes to pitch to one batter.
The hurler stares at the catcher who looks like he wants to scratch but in reality is giving the pitcher finger signals. The pitcher shakes his head because he doesn’t like the selection. The batter steps out of the box and adjusts his batting gloves for the tenth time like the Velcro wasn’t right the first time he attached them. The batter is getting set but not before spitting one last time, adjusting his jock and taking light-hearted swings as if to tell the pitcher where he would like the ball. It’s frustrating as hell if the batter fouls one off. The whole routine starts again with the tic-plagued pitcher who rubs the ball, licks his fingers, wipes his digits on his pants, straightens his cap and then leans in to see the crotch scratching … I mean the signal. I want to scream ‘just throw the damn ball!’ What’s really incredible is the communication of instructions from the manager.
Charlie Brown goes through a complex array of hand-to-arm, hand-to-face and hand-to-chest signals to the first and third base coaches who in turn perform their own bastardized version of the Macarena to the batter and base-runners. This is why the batters and base-runners are always looking around with that glazed donut look … are the coaches sending in the play or do they just have gas? I thought baseball was supposed to be relaxing. It isn’t. It’s nerve-wracking and annoying! Hockey is just young men who if they weren’t on skates would be serving seven to ten in any Federal penitentiary. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to scratch in private. I already chewed my dinner and my father always told me a gentleman doesn’t spit. Maybe that’s the problem with hockey and baseball. Since I was a kid they’re just not gentlemen anymore.
Article by: Ben Guyatt
Ben Guyatt is a stand-up comedian who hosted Comedy @ Club 54, is the author of several books including Billy Green Saves The Day and hosts The Ben Guyatt Show on AM900 CHML every Sunday night. www. benguyatt.com.