Saturday, October 15, 2005

Onion Sports

If you’re a sports fan in any sense of the word, it’s certainly worth checking out the new sports section over at The Onion. I’ve not been too impressed with the satirical newspaper recently. I’m not sure if the novelty’s worn off or if it’s just a sub-par set of editors and writers, but the magic that characterised a few years ago seems to have vanished. While it’s still funny from time to time, there are more misses than hits and it’s becoming increasingly rarer to stumble across a gem article, which you’d find almost every week a while ago.

As I said, maybe I’m being harsh on them and it’s more a function of the fact that the paper is no longer new, but I certainly think there is lots of room for improvement. Nevertheless, one thing I must praise the current set of writers/editors for is the new sports section. Sports seemed like a logical area for The Onion to expand into. It’s popular, it’s got a lot of great material that lends itself to satire well and it’s something that a bunch of men in their twenties would presumably know a lot about and be able to relate to. In the few sports articles over the past couple of years The Onion always hit the mark and recently they decided to add it as a permanent feature.

There have been some great articles over the past few weeks, but I think the best concerns twelve-fingered relief pitcher Antonio Alfonseca entitled, “Antonio Alfonseca Once Again Leads Major-Relievers in Fingers.”

MIAMI—Florida Marlins pitcher Antonio Alfonseca dominated the MLB in appendages for the ninth straight year, finishing the 2005 season with a league-leading 12 fingers. Alfonseca, who made his debut with the Marlins in 1997 and wasted no time making this particular statistical category his own, led the NL for almost the entire season, only falling into a close second during an unusual two-week period in mid-August. Alfonseca's performance will trigger a $1 million bonus, as the Marlins signed him to an incentive-laden, oft-criticized, finger-enumeration-based contract. "Antonio has been through a lot this season, including some elbow problems and a trip to the DL," manager Jack McKeon said. "But in the end, he just went out there and had a lot of fingers." There was once again a tie for second place behind Alfonseca, with 214 pitchers amassing 10 fingers each, followed by Bob Wickman, who finished last with 9.7.

The two-week period in August and 9.7 fingers of Wickman are random funny Onion lines in the article, particularly when one begins speculating how Wickman lost 1/3rd of a finger. My guess is the rotund reliever ate it. The whole article is a nice commentary on what some would call baseball’s overtly statistical concerns. However, the best line is McKeon’s fake quote. If you’ve ever listened to a manger’s post-game press conference you’ll know that the newspaper got the parody dead-on.


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