It was an odd Sunday.
Things were par for the course - except I decided not to go golfing - until 2pm this preceding Lord's day. Then I broke from my usual mold. I was going to watch the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
I'm not a NASCAR fan. Many of its hallmarks - seemingly orchestrated results, faux fan friendliness, booger-eating morons - don't stoke my heart fire, and neither does the Charlie Daniels Band for that matter. But this was NASCAR's second fiddle (get it, Charlie f*ckin' Daniels Band!) and it's in my backyard, so I have a relative interest albeit based more on geography than, you know, interest.
I told my wife during the prerace festivities that I'd guess I'd have to cheer for Ryan Newman because he's a Boilermaker, or Juan Pablo Montoya because his damn foreignness pisses of most NASCARites. Other than that, I was hoping to let 160 laps of single-file action unfold with something resembling excitement.
I'm not a racing detractor. I love the IRL, and admittedly the recent IRL races - especially MidOhio - were single-file yawn fests. Yet as we all know, the Brickstate 400 presented by Allyard was down-right narcoleptic. Countless cautions and the cyclical ten lap sprints lulled me into not one but two mid-race naps. Didn't matter, I fell asleep with Jimmie Johnson leading and he was still out front when I awoke. The doldrums finally took their toll and I did something drastic; I flipped to Arena Bowl XXII.
Again I'm watching a sport that is similar to one I enjoy. The Philadelphia Fighting Bon Jovis were running headlong into the San Jose extinct predators, kickoffs were bouncing off huge nets, and forward motion was running roughshod over preconceived football ideals. This is the genius of arena football; it's doing its own thing and obviously doing it well considering they've had twenty-two championships.
Then he ruined it. Color commentator Ray Bentley - who should be vehemently petitioning Seth Rogen for a biopic - had to talk up the crazy testosteroneness of the arena game. A San Jose "receiver/ball catcher/secure and advance man" (not sure what they call them in wacky Arenaspeak) took a pass up the sideline, tiptoeing along the padded fence and into the endzone. Bentley dropped his voice a few octaves to point out that in the NFL a receiver in a similar situation could have easily stepped out of bounds to avoid any soul-crushing contact, but not in ARENA BOWL XXII! I LOVE THIS GAME!
Bentley had to drag out the inferiority complex and compare his sport to his former sport as if NFL viewers are tottering on the fence of fandom waiting to be tipped toward the AFL. Have John Madden or Troy Aikman ever solicited a pissing match with Bentley's beloved AFL mid game? I take that back; there's no telling what's spewing out of Madden these days. Boom! Why the comparison, Ray? I thought the beauty of playing on a 50 yard field was that it's everything that wasn't the NFL? Some smaller markets, different rules, and a team called the VooDoo. After twenty-two seasons Bentley still has to remind me why I should eat a bowl of nails for breakfast and roid it up for the AFL. Way to let the product do the talking - because two touchdowns sandwiching an onside kick in 11 waning seconds of the championship game just won't do it.
Oh yeah, the ArenaBowl was won not by the NFL pussy-fest of taking a knee in the vicotry formation. No, in the balls the size of Buicks AFL you sack up and...throw the ball out of bounds three times. "There's a lucky fan!"
As a side note, the Philadelphia victory inspired this video ode featuring those AFL stalwarts Ron Jaworski and Enrique Iglesias. You go, AFL!
God help us. Back to NASCAR.
The .09 Miles of Bricks presented by the Worst Insurer for Consumers did have its moments. The final competition yellow was pretty exhilarating for the pit stop en masse. Imagine you're the gun-man/pneumatic wrench wrangler/vrooo-vrooo-vrooo-vrooo-vrooo guy trying to change two tires in seven seconds knowing that those lugnuts aren't glued on and you'd be lucky to send only one flying 20,000rpm right into Dale Jr.'s eye. Never has $400,000 rested more firmly in the hands of people with job titles like "jack man." That was cool.
But the final laps and the race fallout, were incredibly lame. Thank the Maker I'm not a NASCAR fan because their ownership of this debacle would leave me infuriated...sorry, plum 'furiated.
My experiment in alternative sports was a resounding failure. I should have gone golfing.