Wine From Outer Space

Wine From Outer Space is intoxicating, unearthly and surprising. It's also where I write about whatever I choose, and that's nice.

24 August 2005

Another Birk In The Wall

Minnesota Vikings starting center Matt Birk's season is threatened again this year by a torn labrum in his left hip. He's offering to play through the pain if the Vikings agree to pay him $3.94 million next season, whether or not his health allows him to play. Birk was out for part of the 2004 season with a torn labrum in his right hip.

I'm a Vikings fan, and now that the team has seemingly revved up its defense, has a corner for the first time in a long while and passed Moss off to the Raiders, I'm really excited to see what the team can do. Birk is obviously a big part of this team and a contributor to its success--he's been to four of the past five Pro Bowls.

Despite wanting the team to do well, I feel strange that Birk is essentially whoring his health for a salary guarantee next year. I understand this is a violent sport and injuries can do more than just put a damper on a team's hopes or performance for a season. Injuries can end an athlete's career, whether through massive bodily damage or by creating an aura of "bad luck" around the player: repeat injuries of a particular variety (see Steve Young) can either cause coaches to think an athlete is plagued by bad karma or can cause coaches to seriously fret over the overall well-being of the player.

Birk is offering to skip the surgery that would repair the damage in his hip and play instead, relying on injections of painkillers to help mediate his injury. Interestingly, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Birk admits that "
he returned too quickly from both injuries, and his eagerness to play contributed to a third sports hernia diagnosed in March. Doctors believe that his hip pain, which began in May, was related to overcompensating for the sports hernias." Hmm...looks like history may be seeking to repeat itself here...

In American pro football, being as rife with injuries and mishaps as it is, I can understand that players require financial security in the event that they sustain such damage that would keep them out of the game for the season or two seasons or possibly the rest of their life. So I understand why Birk is offering to apparently help out his team and play this season, provided the Vikings pay up next season.

Ultimately I think it's a bad deal all the way around. The callous sports fan in me says "fine, so they guarantee Birk's money for next season. What if he's taken out in week two by either a totally unrelated injury or a worsening of his hip problem?" Birk's being paid the nearly $4 million is not a condition whereby his complete participation this season is guaranteed--he could pull a hammie or tear an ACL or contract SARS for all we know.

The gentle, kitten-loving sports fan in me says "Birk only hurts himself with this sort of ultimatum." Why is he even considering NOT getting the surgery to make him well again? Birk's agent said that he's doing this because it's what's right for him (Birk, I assume, and not the blood-sucking agent), the team and his family. I don't know that putting himself in jeopardy of greater bodily harm with more serious and longer-lasting effects is what's "right" for any of those people.

Randy Moss made the game really was this rookie who came in during a rainy night game at Green Bay in 1998 and, with the help of Randall Cunningham, turned things around and helped secure the first win for a visiting team at Lambeau in I don't know how many games. He made fantastic catches and was amazingly fast. He was also a loudmouth prima donna adolescent, and was grossly overpaid with that $75 million contract. As much as he had the potential to turn a game around, I was glad to see him go because, in my opinion, that's what was best for the team. By the same token, I don't think risking Birk's health and longevity in this line of work or any other is a good deal at $4 million or $40; it seems wrong and unwise and I hope the Vikings elect to pass on Birk's offer.

23 August 2005

The Moral Majority

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcast Network, yesterday called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. This statement is not the first foray into politics for Robertson: he has previously sought the Republican Party's candidacy for President of the United States, and in 2003 suggested that the U.S. State Department be destroyed with a nuclear device.

Citing the threat of "communist infiltration and Muslim extremism," Robertson took aim at President Chavez during his Christian-themed "700 Club" television program. Noting that it would be cheaper to "take him [Chavez] out," rather than going to war now or in the future to remove Chavez, who Robertson describes as a "strong-arm dictator."

Robertson's call for bloody--apparently proactive--resolution met with little enthusiasm from both Venezuelan and U.S. policy makers.

"Our department doesn't do that type of thing," said U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld when asked about American policy regarding the assassination of political figures. Mr. Rumsfeld did not, however, stipulate which department or agency did provide such services.

The hypocrisy that a Christian evangelist should publicly call for the murder of another person, and then suggest that it receive support from our government, ought not to be lost on us. Could this mark the beginning of a holy crusade for the new millennium? Ratzinger could pen a papal bull, calling for all men in the kingdom, young of body and fiery of spirit, to cleanse the Holy Land of the Muslim infidel. We'll need a Joinville to take notes along the way--perhaps Bill O'Reilly could most adequately fill those shoes.