Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Some Loose Ends: A Much-Needed TANBR Update

I've had an amalgam of potential TANBR topics brewing over the past couple of weeks, but none of them really deserve their own post. Here's my solution.


Plies: The Most Selfish Ladies' Man Ever?

Yeah, it's been out for a while. And, yes, Plies's speech patterns make Soulja Boi seem like the Ernie Johnson to his Charles Barkley. Yes, it's pretty much the exact same song-- down to the tempo, verse format, tone, and chorus-- as "Shawty," which was actually TANBR-analyzed last summer. But there's no denying that "Bust It Baby Pt. 2" is the jam of this early summer season.

With a catchy, synth-driven J.R. Rotem beat and an astonishly fluid, addictive Ne-Yo chorus, Plies' latest record has everything on paper for an above-average summertime radio hit. But it's the fascinating contradiction of our womanizing speaker that pushes this single to greatness. See, Plies obviously wants women to know that they're desirable to him, but, beyond that, any other signs of affection would somehow make him less "real"-- the actual theme of his upcoming album-- of a rapper.

I tried to find a unique or humorous Plies photo, but every one pretty much looks like this.

After a soft, thoughtful chorus, Plies keeps the tone with complimentary couplets on his girl's mouth, lips, sex, and panties; you can't expect Plies to get much more introspective than this. However, he peppers the verse with relationship buzzkills such as the impossiblity of future marriage and his emotional reservations during intercourse ("Scared to moan 'round ya/So all I can say is, 'Ooh.'")

It gets worse in his second and final verse. Plies continues to reminisce on his exploits in bed, yet he takes it up a notch emotionally and gives the impression of a guy who genuinely appreciates the company of his mate. In the same breath, however, he makes it known that sharing his feelings of affection with her is simply not something that's ever going to happen: "Never told her or let her know, but she the best." Even when he's complimenting his girl, it's done in such a backhanded manner that the listener wonders if he even likes this woman at all: "If you woulda told me it was this good/I woulda never guessed." And the one thing on his mind post-coitus is not the intimacy they've achieved or the bond they're creating-- it's the cooter juice all over his comforter.

Love this song.

Plies feat. Ne-Yo - "Bust It Baby, Pt. 2"


The NFL Might Not Have a Salary Cap in 2010. Awesome.

Recently, NFL owners unanimously agreed to opt out of their current CBA; this type of thing happens all the time, and, as the league has proven, they're more than capable of quelling any negotiation conflicts before the word 'lockout' is spoken. However, the most interesting subplot from this is usually mentioned right under the byline-- there might not be a salary cap in the 2010 season.

Owners decided to opt out of the current agreement for a number of reasons: the warped salaries of high-profile rookies and increasing operation costs, like billion dollar stadiums, being two of them. If an agreement isn't reached by 2011, a lockout may seem imminent. But what's most interesting, if an agreement isn't reached by 2010, owners would have a hard time returning to a salary-capped league.

Seriously? This is from the above link. Apparently Dallas DBs will just come hang out with you at the bar, mid-game-against-the-Cardinals, in the new stadium. Hey, is that Parcells on the right? Who let him in?

An indefinite cap-free period could be deadly to the league, and it would certainly diminish any parity-based progress since the dynasties of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. But one year without a salary cap would be childishly fun; what would the Cowboys payroll be in 2010? Or the Redskins? $350 million? It would be equally amusing to read holier-than-thou newspaper articles about the sanctity of the game, as well. Then again, newspapers might not exist by then.


Horse Racing Might Be the Most Impure Sport, But

When I was inhaling mint juleps and cigar smoke during my annual Kentucky Derby party, the mood became temporarily less festive when it was announced that Eight Belles had been euthanized. It was interesting to see which partygoers didn't give a shit, made a forced, gender-based joke, and/or felt momentarily touched by the only filly in the field. I was too busy calculating whether my trifecta of Colonel John, Denis of Cork, and Big Brown had won the in-house pool.

But the emergence of a series of semi-expository articles declaring a state of emergency in horse racing was especially noteworthy. ESPN.com alone has featured several posts dedicated to horse racing's steroid problem and training habits. The average fan was at one point convinced that Eight Belles broke her front ankles because her jockey was relentlessly beating her down the stretch. Many of these sentiments were simply knee-jerk reactions; Eight Belles came up limp several seconds after the race was over and her jockey's stick was sheathed. However, horse racing has no choice but to reevalulate itself after two high-profile deaths in three years.

As I've gotten older-- and since I've met Evan Korngold-- I've followed horse racing a little more every year. It's mostly about its Derby Day pageantry, I'm not going to lie, but I often follow races like the Juvenile Breeders' and Louisiana Derby, the winners of which are often shoo-ins for a spot in the field at Churchill. It's impossible to argue that horse racing is not an impure sport-- the drug culture alone is enough evidence.

This has nothing to do with my increased interest in horse racing, either.

But I feel that this culture has existed in horse racing all along; racing is, at the very least, pure in its impurity. Drug tests were performed on all twenty Derby participants-- including Eight Belles-- and all tests came back negative. True, some steroids still remain on the sport's list of legal substances, but horses weren't fatally injuring themselves at this rate decades ago.

Racing's main vices have always stemmed from its culture and the importance placed on class, property, and money. Owners and breeders have always handpicked races for their horses to run, and their main motivation is obviously purse size. Lately, a horse even placing in a Triple Crown race is enough of a return on investment that a subsequent death would mean little financially. Likewise, breeders have migrated towards speed-based, one-and-done three-year-olds who rarely run more than ten races total. And with 1978 and Affirmed mentioned everytime the sport is on televison, the quest for a Triple Crown is more meaningful to the sport than retainability or consistency from year to year. This drastic change in breeding has indirectly placed countless two- and three-year-olds on a track where, from a strength standpoint, they are too fragile to belong. It's like asking Trindon Holliday to stop the run up the middle.

What was unknown to the general Derby fan was the backstory to Eight Belles' inclusion in the field. Her trainer had often publicly thought she was emotionally and mentally unfit to enter the 2008 race. However, her owner, who had made a habit out of entering a horse at least every other year, was so swept up in the pomp and circumstance of a filly in the Derby that he ignored his trainer. I had mentioned to a friend before the race that, if I had to pick a horse to finish 20th, it would be Eight Belles. I was way off; she finished second, but the end result was two weeks of nightmarish publicity that only a Big Brown Triple Crown can undo. But since he's only raced five times-- none as long as the Belmont-- I wouldn't bet much on it.

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