Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Too. Much. Figure. Skating.

Not much of a column today, just some disjointed thoughts, brought to you by the Winter Olympics:

Every four years, it seems, I forget what the Skeleton is. It's just Luge, head-first.

No, that doesn't sound like a bright idea. But they do it anyway.

You watch a bunch of events with the word "ice" in them, and you realize something. You should really pay attention to what you put on every morning, because you never know when you're going to do something noteworthy. Tomorrow could be the day you recue a half-dozen orphans from a burning building--and if that's the day you decided to wear your bright orange pleated shirt with a lime-green bow tie...well, that might just be how you're remembered in perpetuity.

I mean, the guy that won the silver medal (er, doughnut) in figure skating was wearing a two-tone tiger-stripe-pattern top. That's right--he couldn't be satisfied with tiger stripes just in the front, or front and back in the same color. Nah, he needed two different colors of tiger stripes.

And now, whenever anyone sees the picture of himself on the podium, winning the silver, they're gonna see him wearing that...thing. Maybe, if he knew that he was going to win something, he'd have thought "Is this really how I want to be immortalized? Really?"

Of course, he might have just dumpster dived for his outfit from the Ice Dancing folks. That was like watching some bizarro universe, where you kept on thinking "You guys trained every day, for four years, making great personal sacrifices...and now you're going to wear that?"

Now, I know what you're thinking. "I'm reading a baseball blog by a guy who watches ice dancing?" But it was totally worth it, for two reasons. First, to see my wife's reactions to the bizarre outfits--every time my attention started to drift, I'd hear La Chiquita saying "Oh my god. Omygodomygodomygod!" followed by her pointing in horror at two people dressed primarily in day-glo pink; or the ice dancing bronze medalists, who looked like extras from The Wrath of Khan when they stood on the podium; or the half-dozen other Olympians who looked like they were going directly from the figure skating rink to a street corner to earn the money to get home from Torino.

Didn't they know Home Depot would be glad to hire them?

Second, can we get some major league club to hire Dick Button as a color man? He's the source of some of the strangest commentary I've ever witnessed. In ice dancing, his issue was the lack of "romance" between some of the couples, he would grumble stuff like "There's no passion between them. This is just overt theatricality!"

She's wearing a tafetta contraption with some form of plumage that can only be described as a "butt mop", he's wearing a shirt undone to his navel with sequins on it. Oh, and since this is figure skating, I wouldn't take odds on the guy's sexual orientation. But Dick's suprised by the theatricality and lack of romance?

When Dick finally found some romance, suddenly he turned into Isaac Hayes and the late, great Barry White, all wrapped into one. Comments like "She's so sensual!" and "There's definitely heat between those two," built up until I was pretty worried that Dick might get, um, over-excited, and need medical attention. I have this vision of Mary Carillo trying to simultaneously keep an eye on the ice, on Button, and on the nearest portable defibrilator, just in case.

While we're on the subject of sex and sports, how's this for a story of thwarted revenge? An openly-gay former U.S. champion ice skater decides to rain on a rival's Olympic moment, by making an issue of his sexual orientation. You see, the former champ thinks the young Olympian has ripped off his moves. The whole thing's timed so that the Olympian, who's favored for a medal in his event, will be too busy answering questions about whether or not he's gay to enjoy the thrill of victory (as Howard Cosell once called it). Oh, the humiliation! Oh, the lost endorsements! What a devious plan!

Except, in this case, the young Olympian--Johnny Weir--does a horrible job on the long program. He doesn't win a medal, doesn't really come close. And now, the vengeful campaign by Rudy Galiendo doesn't distract from a champion's glory, it draws attention from Weir's Bode Miller-style implosion. Weir comes off as a sympathetic figure, a nice kid who lost and is being picked upon by a washed-up gay bully.

You don't hear that one every day.

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